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ducted as to insure the rejection of everything like incompetence. The writing of letters, the abstracting of papers, the construction of tables, and the evidence of ordinary proficiency in arithmetic, geometry, and accounts, would be safer tests of soundness than any uncollegiate literary examination of the pass" kind, though there is no reason why the latter should not be united with it.
In our opinion, it is impossible to secure a high standard by mere pass examinations; and we incline to fear the results of professing to do so. There is a kind of mania for examinations among those who are not used to them, which would minister to the delusion of the public; and there would be too much readiness to acquiesce in the delegation of responsibilities to those who had passed this favourite test, for which they would often be wholly unfit. Nevertheless, a system of pass examinations, conducted by an independent board, would, in all probability, be a most desirable check upon the system of ministerial patronage in the higher offices, if it remained otherwise unchanged.
To the competition test other considerations apply. We believe that where comparison is in question, where distinction and not bare qualification is sought, the victors will, as a general rule, be sound men, and not merely adroit ones. must call attention, however, to a fact of which we have no doubt, and which seems to have been overlooked. We assume that from causes unconnected with examinations, the class who take the highest university honours will seldom if ever compete for government posts. The competition will be among men of a secondary order. Let us not then be led away by the idea that the machine which distinguishes with unerring precision the pre-eminent few from all their fellows, works with anything like the same accuracy lower down. It is not likely to do so as a mere means of ascertaining relative proficiency even in the actual subjects of examination. It is still less likely to do so in assigning the general mental position which is supposed to be indicated by that proficiency. He who does best, argues Mr. Macaulay, what a crowd of able men are striving to do well, thereby shows himself to be a man of more than ordinary ability, even if the subject of display be unworthy of his talents, or practically useless. Granted; but it does not follow that the twentieth best will have any general superiority to the thirtieth best. There is no regular gradation from the Senior Wrangler to the Wooden Spoon, as regards general mental power. There are two or three great geniuses at the head, and numbers below who for the ordinary purposes of life may be considered pretty much on a level. Get below a
certain rank, and who thinks of estimating a man's probable fortune in life by reference to the calendar? He is an "honour man," and therefore probably capable and industrious, but whether he came in the middle of the Senior or of the Junior Optimes signifies little. The fact is, that the difference between the first few and all the rest is not of mere degree. It is the difference in kind between genius, and simple ability and good conduct.
Comparisons drawn from universities are too favourable to the scheme of the Reporters, if it be not assumed that it is desirable to attract university men; one great reason for the weight attached to distinction in classics and mathematics is, that such distinction is from the first the point of honour among the frequenters of our universities. We say this to avoid misunderstanding, but we ourselves concur in the preference given. It will have been gathered that we agree neither with the Reporters nor with many of their chief opponents as to the results of open competition. We should not expect it to yield a profusion of embryo statesmen; and while, therefore, we are not dazzled by the brilliancy of the prospect in one view, we are not deterred by the picture which Mr. Waddington draws of the alternate pinings and plungings of a Pegasus in harness. Considering how much dull work there is in all lines of life, considering the mainly honourable if partly "snobbish" pleasure which men find in being the Queen's servants, and considering too that a government servant will always have more of that precious commodity, leisure, than he who struggles for bread in an open profession-we cannot anticipate that the higher posts, which we suppose to be separated from those of mere routine, and to be the avenues to the highest in the service, will be peculiarly distasteful to liberally educated men. It is very questionable whether the apprehensions expressed by so many, that officers not appointed by their masters would fail in subordination, are well founded. The power of dismissal, and the discretion to promote, would give the superiors a great hold, and are more likely to be exercised freely where there is no patron to offend. At all events, the present permanent officers have not appointed their subordinates, and each new Secretary of State has a ready-made staff handed over to him. Provided that the competition system is not made an excuse for vastly increasing the powers and responsibilities of the bureaucracy (perhaps its chief political danger), we should expect that it would yield a body of men with adequate mental qualifications. We by no means expect that it would be prolific in the highest or the most pushing kind of talents, nor is it desirable that it should. It would introduce some showy and
shallow men, and some who would be better fitted for literature than for business. It would, we apprehend, continually reject men more fit than others whom it would accept. The question is, whether on the whole the accepted candidates would not be substantially of a higher mental order than the products of patronage, and we think the probabilities are in favour of the supposition.
It will be seen that we take very different views with regard to the higher and the lower offices. The reason is obvious. The political and confidential servants of a Secretary of State must in a constitutional country be appointed either by their changing parliamentary chief, or by some other means which will secure a constant infusion of new blood. For perfect administration of details a conscientious selection of their subordinates by the permanent Under-Secretaries might work better; but if they were to nominate those who were afterwards to succeed to the more commanding position, there would be the danger of a bureaucratic imperium in imperio alien to the spirit of our institutions. We have to choose between opposite evils.
Some persons (Mr. Romilly for one) appear to dread the principle of open competition, as tending to "a democratical civil service, side by side with an aristocratical legislature." We are not afraid of this in itself. In the first place, the higher classes would have great advantages in the proposed competition from the general nature of their training; and, in the next place, the constitution will not long be allowed to remain aristocratical if any great number of places of profit are reserved for the aristocracy on the mere ground of privilege. But the objection is akin to one of great importance, and which we do not feel to have been wholly met. The duties which the higher class of Civil Servants have to discharge are in the highest degree confidential. Something more than common honesty,-a delicate sense of honour is required. In such cases in private life, intimate personal knowledge of the candidate would usually govern the appointment. On the competitive system this could not be had. We do not pretend to say that it exists in the present system; still all the witnesses concur in testifying to the excellence of the appointments made in this vital respect. Whatever the reason may be, the higher departments of the Civil Service, though wanting in energy, flexibility, and vis generally, are composed of gentlemen of high honour. No intellectual improvement could compensate for even a slight deflection from this level; and, moreover, all our opinions assume that the object is not to turn a grossly incompetent into a brilliant service, but to improve a
service already decent, and in which soundness and good working qualities, and not high genius, will continue to be both the desiderata and the only qualifications likely to be supplied. Under these circumstances, we, like most of our authors, including many who agree with the Reporters in everything else, should hesitate completely to upset the existing system of appointment in the higher branches. We hesitate, because it has worked well in those moral respects which are the most important of all, and for which it is most difficult to provide with any certainty in a new and untried system. There seem to us to be so many elements of improvement in the other changes suggested those changes would, in fact, so completely alter the character of the service and the inducements to competent persons to enter it-that we seek some means of escaping the most hazardous experiment of all.
The plan we should prefer is already indicated in at least one of the criticisms on the Report. We would give the parliamentary chiefs the power, not of appointment, but of nomination for the competition, it being honourably understood, that they are to invite candidateship, and to provide a considerable number of nominees. Among such nominees, the prin ciple of competition before an independent Board should have its full way. The proposed improvements within, and the sense that merit would influence the first appointments, would, we are persuaded, insure a respectable crop of candidates. The Board should, moreover, have its standard, and reject for incompetency, even if the number of candidates were insufficient. This would put a stop to the grosser abuses of patronage.
This article has extended beyond the limits originally proposed, and we will conclude with two remarks.
One is that we have no desire to protest against the experiment recently made in the Indian service. The Indian appointments have heretofore been made so exclusively and notoriously on grounds of favour and canvassing, and, at the same time, the Indian career has so much to invite talents and ambition, that the introduction of the pure competitive principle into that sphere may well turn out to be an improvement.
The other is of a more general nature. If we have met a sanguine scheme of Reform in any cold or over-cautious temper, it is that we have a holy horror of the prevailing aim at reaching by the magic of mechanism, those results which can only be attained by invoking large and lofty principles, and a religious spirit of self-denying patriotism.
ART. VI.-TENNYSON'S MAUD.
Maud and other Poems. By Alfred Tennyson, D.C.L., Poet Laureate. London, Moxon. 1855.
Tennyson's Poems. Tenth Edition.
Tennyson's Princess. A Medley. Sixth Edition.
are two instincts of the poetic nature, two faculties of the imagination, either of which possessed in a high degree is calculated to secure for its possessor a more than common immediateness of popularity. The poet who can enter deeply into, and vividly reproduce the characteristic elements in the thought and sentiment of his own time, has a hold on it by virtue of sympathy, and of that mysterious hankering after outward expression, which makes all men delight in having their thoughts spoken, and their feelings interpreted for them with a completeness they could never hope themselves to attain. He again has a not less binding claim, based upon their gratitude, who can transport them from the cankering cares of daily life, the perplexities and confusions of their philosophies, the weariness of their haunting thoughts, to some entirely new field of existence, to some place of rest, some clear-walled city by the sea," where they can draw a serene air, undimmed by the clouds and smoke which infest their ordinary existence. These are the two broad conditions of immediate acceptance. Those who, like Shelley, have a world of their own, crossing and mingling in perplexed lines with the world by which they are surrounded, must, for the most part, wait for that to pass entirely away before they can attain to a just appreciation.
Tennyson belongs to the first class. His is a mind in exact harmony with the times in which he lives. Such minds spring up every generation or so in the history of a national literature. It is not always easy to trace their antecedents, and yet it is they who lead down the regular line of poetical development. The whole race of poets might be classed in two divisions, according to their unison with or independence of the age in which they flourish. The one form a set of successional links in a chain, they are the legitimate children of the times. which produced them, they are elder sons, they have the family