Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

BY THOMAS WALKER, M. A.

TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.

PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW,

356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.

No. XVI.] WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 2, 1835. [PRICE 3d.

Contents:

Giving Security.
Art of Travelling.

Art of Dining
Pauperism.

GIVING SECURITY.

Society is governed much more by false than by true principles; by expedients and substitutes rather than by sound rules. When abuse has arisen from the neglect of a principle, it is a very common error to abandon the principle, and adopt some expedient with reference to the particular abuse, which is the beginning of endless botchery. There are very numerous instances of this both in the practice of government and in legislation. A true principle, if adhered to, has a selfadjusting power; a false one requires constant bolstering, and every quack has his nostrum.

There never was a period, probably, in the history of this country, when there was a greater tendency to wander from sound principles, than at the present. The undoubted necessity for great changes has raised up a host of reformers, who think, because they can see abuses, that they can with equal facility see the proper reme. dies; but they appear to me, one and all, incapable, from the

R

double disqualification of party blindness, and want of elementary experience. It is not often that I trouble myself about the lengthy debates in the two houses of Parliament; but on two or three questions, which have been the objects of my particular attention, I have read every thing that has been said on both sides, and I can say, without exaggeration, that I have been perfectly astonished at the general absence of accurate information and clear views, and I have often had occasion to doubt whether those, who took my side of the question, or those who took the opposite, were the most deficient. The reason of this I believe to be twofold; first, the want of schooling in the art and practice of government, which can

ever be supplied by information at second hand ; and, secondly, because, even with the purest and highest minded, according to the present standard, I fear zeal for some party end constantly predominates over that for the establishment of truth. Nothing but the organization of local governments upon such principles as will induce the best qualified there to begin their training, will ever produce a race of sound legislators and practical statesmen. It is not in the nature of things that either minister or legislator should learn their business, in office or in parliament; they are beginning where they ought to end. They should enter upon their career in a smaller field, and in closer contact with mankind. The minister should know from his own gradual experience, or he will ever be vague in his views, as well as in trammels to interested and narrow-minded underlings; and the legislator should draw from nearer sources than the biassed and imperfect information to be obtained through committees and commissions, in which information, as far as I have seen, there is at least as much of falsehood as of truth. Our leading men are formed very much upon the plan of making a general, by giving at once the command of an army. To say that any man has great official or parliamentary experience, is ordinarily to say little more than that he is a tactician in trick and intrigue, and, in proportion, removed from the straightforward path of patriotism. However, the fault lies principally in the want of opportunity for preparation, owing to a system of overgrown government-in-chief, instead of a duly organized ascending scale.

Having wandered into these remarks, I will bring myself back to my subject proposed, by repeating my first sentences. Society is governed much more by false than by true principles; by expedients and substitutes rather than by sound rules. When abuse has arisen from the neglect of a principle, it is a very common error to abandon the principle, and adopt some expedient with reference to the particular abuse. A strong

illustration of this seems to me to be found in the practice of taking security from persons in public trusts of a pecuniary character-a practice, the reasonableness of which I have never heard even doubted; but let us see how it is likely that it operates. In my article on Preferment to Place, in my thirteenth number, I have observed, “it is not enough to prefer those who are fit; the choice should fall upon those who are most fit. It is not enough to choose from those who apply; the most meritorious should be sought out.” If this principle had been followed, the idea of requiring security would never have occurred. It would have been unnecessary, and would have been a degradation. But neglect of the principle induced a frequent violation of trusts, and the most prominent feature being a defalcation in accounts, the remedy applied had solely a reference to that, though it is not to be supposed that a public defaulter could originally have been very fit for his situation. The real remedy lay in an inquiry on each defalcation into the mode of appointment, and a demand on the part of the public of the enforcement of the principle I have above laid down. The expedient of taking security has a tendency to lower still farther the standard of qualification, because, the principal abuse being professed to be guarded against, greater carelessness as to general fitness will be the consequence, and though the public may be saved from pecuniary loss in particular instances, the class of servants will be deteriorated. They have other duties to perform beside receiving money; but, provided they can get security considered sufficient, those other duties will be comparatively little thought of by those who have to appoint. They will easily justify to themselves a bad appointment with a good security. But if character were the only security, it would be otherwise, and the public would have the chance of being well served in every particular. Suppose a situation vacant, where security is required. The most likely person to obtain it, is some one with a large family, who by improvidence or mismanagement, has become an unceasing burden to his connexions. They exert all their influence, and most strenuously, to get rid of him, and are quite willing to run the risk of finding him security, in order to relieve themselves from the present pressure. What chance has an independent man, who is a burden to nobody, with such a competitor ? and what chance has the public of being considered? The meritorious are generally too backward in urging their claims, and it is not to be expected that their friends will be as zealous as the interested supporters of a hanger on. As I can conceive nothing much more irksome to a man of honest intentions and high feeling, than to have to ask his friends to become his sureties, I believe that very circumstance has often prevented the most fitting applications; and, after all, the securities taken for the undeserving, when they have been recurred to, have often proved unavailing, or, on the other hand, have caused the ruin of innocent persons, after a world of previous anxiety. There is also this evil in the system, that it frequently induces neglect in those, whose place it is to see to the punctual discharge of official duties; and their reliance upon the security produces the very inconvenience meant to be guarded against. Though the practice of requiring security is undoubtedly not uniform in its evil opera

[ocr errors]

tion, I believe its general tendencies to be—to encourage the improvident and mismanaging by opening to them situations, of which otherwise they would have no chance-to promote jobbing amongst the connexions of such-to discourage merit, and to lower the value of character to increase carelessness and corruption in the dispensation of patronage, and to defeat its own particular end by injuring the public service, instead of promoting it. The true principle is, to make character the only security, and a few departures in practice would only work their own cure; but a departure from the principle produces a permanent deterioration.

ART OF TRAVELLING.

(Concluded.)

Before setting out upon a journey, it is advantageous to be rather more abstemious than usual for a day or two, as the sudden change of habits, even with the most regular livers, is apt to produce some derangement of system; and at any rate such a course makes the body accommodate itself better to the motion and confinement of a carriage, upon which I have made some remarks in my articles on the attainment of health. It is particularly desirable to make the necessary arrangements with respect to luggage, passports, &c. a little beforehand, and not to be in a feverish hurry and bustle at the last moment, with the chance of forgetting something of import

Setting out at one's ease is a good omen for the rest of the journey. With respect to luggage, I recommend the greatest compactness possible, as being attended with constant and many advantages, and in general I think people are rather over-provident in taking more than they want. Avoid being entrusted with scaled letters, or carrying anything con

ance.

« AnteriorContinuar »