Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/864

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holder has great difficulty in realizing that the country was not created for him to govern and regulate; that he is a servant of the public is not in all bis thoughts. Thay say that when men are virtually irremovable, save for gross misconduct, they generally become sluggish in the performance of their duties, and that in the higher officials this sluggishness becomes rank obstruction. They point to such an institution as the English post-office, which, during the régime of Rowland Hill, a man who was forced on it from without, exhibited a great degree of life end energy, but which, under his successors, shows the bureaucratic spirit in perfection, and is becoming as noted for its dullness and lethargy as once it was for intelligence and the spirit of progress. They say: Carry out the examination system consistently, apply it, as is done in England, to all branches and grades of the public service, and "we shall in due time have here, not a flexible and self-adapting governmental machine such as we need, and as, to some extent, we have at present, but a vast and comprehensive mandarinism existing apart from, and (with the most benevolent purposes no doubt) presiding over our national life. They point to the intolerable airs which the official classes give themselves in most European countries—airs implying a definitely established superiority on the part of messieurs the functionaries over the citizens with whom they come into contact. They add that, however great an evil office-seeking may be to-day, it is after all confined to a small percentage of the people, those who, by reason of the political services rendered by themselves or their friends, conceive themselves entitled to some consideration in the distribution of patronage; whereas if commissioners and examiners are employed to perambulate the country, advertising the public service more or less in every city, town, and hamlet, the number of those whose minds will be more or less unsettled by the thought of perchance obtaining a government situation will be vastly greater. In such terrible colors is the Charybdis of bureaucracy painted by men who, for their own part, have no dread of the Scylla of the spoils system. Well, the picture they draw is not very unlike the reality. We have as yet in this republic but a partial measure of so-called civil-service reform; but, if the time should ever come that the English system should be adopted in its entirety, there can be no question that, in the course of half a generation, we should have among us an official class such as we do not wish to see—men to whom the traditions and usages of their several departments would be of much greater moment and weight than the requirements of the public, or than the dictates of practical common sense. The public business would not be done on business principles, but on "departmental" principles—something very different. And, just as the governmental machine grew in size and complexity, would it more and more begin to constitute, in the eyes of those operating it, an end in itself. To master the technique, so to speak, of a department would take some years of application; and nothing would be easier than for the permanent officers to persuade political heads, who might wish to introduce reforms, that the machine was working as well as could be expected, and that to try and make it work otherwise than it was doing would throw everything into confusion. Of course, it would seem like great temerity on the part of a man of no experience to combat the views of a most respectable and apparently intelligent gentleman, who had perhaps grown gray in the performance of his departmental duties; and thus many an enterprise of pith and moment would turn its course awry, and lose the name of action, as the Prince of Denmark once thoughtfully observed. It would not,