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aims, and prevent its consistently working out either of their own aims. The process is very simple. Every department at times looks as if it was in a scrape ; some apparent blunder, perhaps some real blunder, catches the public eye. At once the antagonist Parliamentary sections, which want to act on the department, seize the opportunity. They make speeches, they move for documents, they amass statistics. They declare " that in no other country is such a policy possible as that which the department is pursuing ; that it is mediæval ; that it costs money; that it wastes life ; that America does the contrary ; that Prussia does the contrary.” The newspapers follow according to their nature. These bits of administrative scandal amuse the public. Articles on them are very easy to write, easy to read, easy to talk about. They please the vanity of mankind. We think as we read, “ Thank God, I am not as that man; I did not send green coffee to the Crimea; I did not send patent cartridge to the common guns, and common cartridge to the breech-loaders. I make money; that miserable public functionary only wastes money.” As for the defence of the department, no one cares for it or reads it. Naturally at first hearing it does not sound true. The opposition have the unrestricted selection of the point of attack, and they seldom choose a case in which the department, upon the surface of the matter, seems to be right. The case of first impression will always be that something shameful has happened ; that such and such men did die ; that this and that gun would not go off; that this or that ship will not sail. All the pretty reading is unfavorable, and all the praise is very dull.
Nothing is more helpless than such a department in Parliament if it has no authorized official defender. The wasps of the House fasten on it; here they perceive is something easy to sting, and safe, for it cannot sting in return. The small grain of foundation for complaint germinates, till it becomes a whole crop. At once the minister of the day is appealed to ; he is at the head of the administration, and he must put the errors right, if such they are. The opposition leader says, “I put it to the right honorable gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury. He is a man of business. I do not agree with him in his choice of ends, but he is an almost perfect master of methods and means. What he wishes to do he does do. Now I appeal to him whether such gratuitous errors, such fatuous incapacity, are to be permitted in the public service. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will grant me his attention while I show from the very documents of the department," &c. What is the minister to do? He never heard of this matter. He does not care about the matter. Several of the supporters of the Government are interested in the opposition to the department; a grave man, supposed to be wise, mutters, “ This is too bad." The Secretary of the Treasury tells him, 66 The House is uneasy. A good many men are shaky. A. B. said yesterday he had been dragged through the dirt four nights following. Indeed I
disposed to think myself that the department has been somewhat lax. Perhaps an inquiry,” &c. And upon that the Prime Minister rises and says, " That Her Majesty's Government having given very serious and grave consideration to this most
important subject, are not prepared to say that in so complicated a matter the department has been perfectly exempt from error. He does not indeed concur in all the statements which have been made; it is obvious that several of the charges advanced are inconsistent with one another. If A. had really died from eating green coffee on the Tuesday, it is plain he could not have suffered from insufficient medical attendance on the following Thursday. However, on so complex a subject, and one so foreign to common experience, he will not give a judgment. And if the honorable member would be satisfied with having the matter inquired into by a committee.of that House, he will be prepared to accede to the suggestion."
Possibly the outlying department, distrusting the ministry, crams a friend. But it is happy indeed if it chances on a judicious friend. The persons most ready to take up that sort of business are benevolent amateurs, very well intentioned, very grave, very respectable, but also rather dull. Their words are good, but about the joints their arguments are weak. They speak very well, but while they are speaking, the decorum is so great that everybody goes away. Such a man is no match for a couple of House of Commons gladiators. They pull what he says to shreds. They show or say that he is wrong about his facts. Then he rises in a fuss and must explain : but in his hurry he mistakes, and cannot find the right paper, and becomes first hot, then confused, next inaudible, and so sits down. Probably he leaves the House with the notion that the defence of the department has broken down, and so the Times announces to all the world as soon as it awakes.
Some thinkers have naturally suggested that the heads of departments should as such have the right of speech in the House. But the system when it has been tried has not answered. M. Guizot tells us from his own experience that such a system is not effectual. A great popular assembly has a corporate character; it has its own privileges, prejudices, and notions. And one of these notions is that its own members — the persons it sees every day — whose qualities it knows, whose minds it can test, are those whom it can most trust. A clerk speaking from without would be an unfamiliar object. He would be an outsider. He would speak under suspicion ; he would speak without dignity. Very often he would speak as a victim. All the bores of the House would be upon him. He would be put upon examination. He would have to answer interrogatories. He would be put through the figures and cross-questioned in detail. The whole effect of what he said would be lost in quæstiunculæ and hidden in a controversial detritus.
Again, such a person would rarely speak with great ability. He would speak as a scribe. His habits must have been formed in the quiet of an office; he is used to red tape, placidity, and the respect of subordinates. Such a person will hardly ever be able to stand the hurly-burly of a public assembly. He will lose his head — he will say what he should not. He will get hot and red; he will feel he is a sort of culprit. After being used to the flattering deference of deferential subordinates, he will be pestered by fuss and confounded by inyective. He will hate the House as naturally as the House does not like him. He will be an incompetent speaker addressing a hostile audience.
And what is more, an outside administrator addressing Parliament, can move Parliament only by the goodness of his arguments. He has no votes to back them up with. He is sure to be at chronic war with some active minority of assailants or others. The natural mode in which a department is improved on great points and new points is by external suggestion; the worst foes of a department are the plausible errors which the most visible facts suggest, and which only half visible facts confute. Both the good ideas and the bad ideas are sure to find advocates first in the press and then in Parliament. Against these a permanent clerk would have to contend by argument alone. The Minister, the head of the parliamentary Government, will not care for him. The Minister will say in some undress soliloquy, “ These permanent · fellows' must look after themselves. I cannot be bothered. I have only a majority of nine, and a very shaky majority, too. I cannot afford to make enemies for those whom I did not appoint. They did nothing for me, and I can do nothing for them." And if the permanent clerk come to ask his help he will say in decorous language, "I am sure that if the department can evince to the satisfaction of Parliament that its past management has been such as the public interests require, no one will be more gratified than myself. I am not aware if it will be in my power to attend in my place on Monday; but if I can be so fortunate, I shall listen to your official statement with my very best attention.” And so the permanent public servant will be teased