« AnteriorContinuar »
THE INSOLENCE OF OFFICE.
The insolence of office, and the spurns
It is always interesting to contem- only legitimate object of appeals to plate the various subdivisions which the press is the correction of abuses distinguish a highly-cultivated com which are beyond the reach of ormunity. Taking out of consideration dinary punishment, to fix, with scruthose factitious distinctions which pulous precision, the blame upon the are only incidental to civilization in proper individuals. Among the holdsome of its several stages of progres, ers of office, men of independent sion, a society which has emerged property frequently possess the highfrom the depth of barbarism is ne est seats: these are candidates for cessarily divided into two principal renown and the fashionable distincclasses—the possessors, wheiher, by tions of the day, and in the elation inheritance or otherwise, of sufficient of heart consequent upon gratified property to render them independent ambition, are seldom insolent in the of personal labour ; and, secondly, exercise of their exalted functions. that larger portion whose destiny On the other hand, the lowest ranks, is apparently less happy. Of the the individuals of which are, as usual, latter, a small part are generally, in the most numerous, are generally consequence of their connection with plodding for their daily bread, or the first class, enabled, by the force exerting themselves in securing an of a superior education, and other inadequate provision for their famiallvantages, to pursue the more ho- lies : they are too humble to be in nourable and alluring professions, solent, insolence being the attendant while the remainder are left to grope only of mistaken and low-minded their way through the less-inviting pride ; and are so far from being paths of life. Of such of these last, comprehended in the number of the who are compelled to drudge in the dispensers of official insolence, that lower duties of trade, or of manual they are themselves the chief objects labour, it is not my intention to of the contuinely and oppression of speak in the course of this paper, the guilty persons. The truly guilty which, although commenced with so are the upper, not the highest or the broad a view of the great social fa- lowest, servants of the public;--they mily, has reference to a particular are to be found among the comptrola subject: my strictures will be chief- lers, the commissioners, the secretaly applicable to a middle set-to the ries of boards, and sometimes the men whose education has been far superior clerks of office. Of course, from despicable, but who have been there are exceptions even among unable to crowd into the learned these ; some few ( sed raræ aves, 8c.) professions. These are employed in owe their situations to real merit, various ways, and principally as as and possess minds of too generous a sistants to the more fortunate ranks, character to admit the low and vuland they may be distinguished as gar feelings which our censure imbeing either the retainers of the plies. But the principal part have public, of large trading or joint-stock made their way to fifteen hundred, companies, or of private individuals. or two or three thousand per an
To this class must, I think, al- num, by means, and the usual aid most exclusively attach the stigma of opportune occurrences, in which of the poet as practisers of the inso- personal worth had the least share ; lence of office ; and with most force and the conduct of these self-imto such of the genus who are in pose portant persons towards their lesssession of public employments. It fortunate fellow-labourers is, as far is but just, however, to separate the as they dare, (and there unhappily innocent from the guilty, and, as the exist but few checks upon the play
of their natural tempers,) almost to their excessive numbers. Anthrouniversally marked by unwarrantable podagricus, a lawyer, was chosen, haughtiness and oppression.
and a lucrative post created for his A
peep behind the scenes, engros- especial provision. It soon aftersed by these inflated demi-gods, wards appeared, that it was no part would lay open to our astonished of this gentleman's system to serve view a system of partiality and op- the public effectually, by attemptpression, of whose existence the pub- ing to re-model an establishment lic is altogether ignorant. Bat the which he found in a state of peheroes move, unhappily, within the culiar derangement: he owed his shaded precincts of that ambiguous place to the incapacity or laziness of circle into which the public interest the others; and to the same source does not penetrate: the mighty men he continued to look as the one most have their world to themselves-im- fruitful of advantage to himself. The portant, indeed, in their own narrow old clerks were encouraged in their minds, but little known or cared for love of sinecure emoluments,—vaby the rest of the creation. We are cancies, as they occurred, were pretdeterred, therefore, from entering ty generally filled by his relatives into minute details of their conduct and dependents, who, as far as their or concerns; and one or two rapidly- patron's influence extended, engrosssketched specimens of the sort of ed all the most profitable duties, and, being alluded to will perhaps be in time, formed a very compact phasufficient for our purpose. Not to lanx of growing commissioners, &c., extend our view over a space un
whose insolence towards their comnecessarily wide, one source may panions en bas can only be equalled serve us for each of our drafts : let by the rapidity of their
own advanceus select one of the principal of the ment. The influence of Anthropodapublic departments, and, to avoid gricus has lately declined somewhat, being too particular, which is the owing to his inordinate rapacity. Alvice of satire, content ourselves with though in the receipt of near four pointing it out to the reader acquaint- thousand a-year, he some time since ed with official details, as being pre- so far practised upon the easy temcisely the one which is glaringly the pers of his superiors, who were not worst-regulated of the whole. sufficiently aware of his interested
About twenty years ago, the af- proceedings, as to obtain the grant of fairs of this office were, if possible, a very considerable sum of public still worsc managed than they are money, upon the impudent plea of a now; persons without any capacity temporary extension of businessman at all had, in the necessary operation act which led to the most vexatious of a corrupt system, intruded into it, inquiries, and which the united eloinsomuch that the ordinary routine of quence of the cabinet failed to palbusiness became at length impeded. liate or support. It is said, that he A complete change of the people was scarcely ever appears in the presence out of the question : the public is of the Premier without soliciting only, on extraordinary occasions, al- some new favour ; and that the bore lowed to hire adult or efficient ser- and inconvenience are only avoided vants--they must be taken from the by keeping the door as much as posboarding schools, and, after a service sible closed against him. of ten or twelve years, chance must Plumbeus is one of the fortunate decide whether they are to become retainers of this worthy placeman. useful retainers, or only life-charges Before his patron's advancement, he upon the revenues of their country. acted in the capacity of his underThe only attainable cure for the evil, clerk, which, in the legal line, is therefore, was to introduce an extra synonymous with footboy, &c., and workman, sufficiently experienced in since then he has been united in the business to enable him to undertake holy bands of matrimony with a (as he might in fact easily do) the lady of his master's household—not most material duties of twenty or a relation, nor, I believe, as some thirty loungers, whose inefficiency. say, his cookmaid. Being gifted was perhaps originally attributable with a tolerable memory, and, from
corporeal constitution, considerable Terræfilius is a person of a somepowers of application, he has been what different stamp. In 1799 he very serviceable in promoting the entered the office in the humble caadopted system of exclusion, by el pacity of an extra clerk, with a sabowing out all strangers and inter- lary of five shillings per diem ; at lopers. He is, in short, the Cer- present he enjoys one of its superior berus to this minor hell, and denies posts; and he but recently relinentrance to all but the ghosts of the linquished his seat in the Senate, damned, and the privileged members which he held for ten years. Unof the Plutean family. He has the questionably, the advantage of posusual vices of upstarts-low cunning, sessing talents of a very respectable vulgarity, rudeness, slavish pliability order has contributed to his elevaof principles; and having,' in the tion ; but he is mainly indebted to regular course of such an official circumstances which were wholly career, become charged with the fortuitous ; and the chief defects of superintendance of a considerable his character and conduct are attridepartment, the whole of these ami- butable to his neglect, while estiable qualities are at this moment in mating the extent of his acquisitions, full activity. He is prompt to a de- of separating the chance-gifts of forgree bordering on the miraculous, in tune from the dearer fruits of perdiverting every important occurrence
sonal exertion-a mental process, no to his own advantage, either as the doubt calculated to act as a salutary means of attracting the notice of his check upon his superb spirit, and superiors, or of seizing, as his own inspire into his breast some respect peculiar property, the fruits of the for his less-fortunate fellow-labour. industry and talents of the gentle- ers. The “insolence of office” pemen who are so unfortunate as to be culiar to this exalted personage is so placed under his orders: his lan. much the more grating, as it is more guage, when he may safely permit it than usually refined. It is of that to luxuriate in the ear of vulgar fa. species which delights less in kicks miliarity, would be strictly suitable than in jumps ; it prompts him to to that class of society in the West- stride " proudly unobservant” over era Peninsula, who, in their own the palpable head of a passing acsignificant idiom, are said to be con- quaintance, with the glorious feeltinually “hartos de ajos ;" his ad- ings of a being raised by innate medress is starched, constrained, and rit and extraordinary accidents above awkward, in the presence of the high- the common, lot of humanity. At er agents of government, and rude one time numbered with the lowest, and insolent towards those of less he now disdains to appear cognizant official rank than himself; and he is even of the existence of an order of zealous to a fault, even in the eyes men so widely removed from his of his employers, in perfecting all present official rank: in spite of the the petty devilries of state-craft. evidence afforded by the experience Such is Plumbeus-broad-shoulder- of his own case, he affects to coned, ungrammatical Plumbeus-who, sider it impossible that any indiviby virtue of the aforesaid patronage, dual among them should possess by dint of perseverance, the silent respectable talents ; he leaves them, lapse of time, and the indolence of therefore, with undisguised contempt, others, whose work, provided it be unpitied and unredressed, to the sufficiently profitable, he is always mercy, or rather the oppression, of willing to undertake, has contrived parvenus of even less feeling than to elevate himself into the post of himself. the indispensable drudge of the A grand era is rapidly approachhigher powers, who, from the fre- ing, when the petty grievance here quency of the practice, have at length adverted to will be swept away, tocontracted the habit of throwing, gether with others of greater moral from tiine to time, into his mouth, importance. Tyranny is too tena(always faithfully open,) some rich, cious of its prey to be wholly disbut, peradventure, half-picked bone, lodged before the lapse of large peas a reward for his servile and kna riod of time : it lurks in a thousand vish exertions,
obscure corners, long after its over
throw upon the more prominent trollers, secretaries,—the middle men ground on which it first attracted the between the great lords of office and attention and indignation of man the inferior workmen, are still in kind. But it will finally be effece possession of inordinate, but concealtually suppressed; for after its disa ed, unobserved power: their respeccomfiture on the great public stage, tive departments are kept in expen. every succeeding defeat within its sive disorder, in subservience to their weaker entrenchments must hasten, interested purposes ; unnecessary buwith tenfold force, the great catas siness is designedly in constant course trophe. The insolence of office must of accumulation ; and as an inevit. be acknowledged to be something able consequence of a practice having more than an injury which affects its foundation in fraud and deceit, only the feelings of the mind : it is pride, partiality, and cupidity are ena component part of a general system gendered and encouraged, making alof positive wrong and oppression, together that complicated description of a deprivation of right, as it affects of grievance denominated the “inboth the happiness and fortunes of solence of office.” Where an abuse the injured party. It is never dis so deteriorative of public economy pensed but by the vile and unfeeling, still subsists, after all the bustle and S-it is never inflicted but upon the parade it has from time to time crehelpless victims of misdirected power. ated, sufficient proof is shewn of the It is, therefore, of that class of evils peculiar inadequacy of the means by which it is an especial effect of an which it has hitherto been attempted advanced stage of civilization to over to be destroyed. The fact is, Parthrow.
liamentary inquiries, upon matters Having predicted the eventual de. of this nature, conducted, as they too cline of a species of wrong so hard to frequently are, under the controul be assailed, because so generally over of a machinery impervious to the looked, we are, in conclusion, to ad- public eye, are altogether fruitless of vert to the means by which that good effects, and only serve to perpe. effect is to be accomplished. The tuate the old system of deception and Press will take the lead in this as in mismanagement. But it is impossiother salutary improvements; but ble long to delude an enlightened age its full attainment must be preced- by expedients as shallow as they are ed by a complete reformation of the iniquitous : a better day must at mode of conducting the public busi- length arrive,-one less notorious for ness. After all the multifarious what in vulgar parlance is called podiscussions upon the subject of offi- litical humbug, more sincerely facial abuses, it is astonishing how lit vourable to improvement; and pertle has in reality been hitherto done haps no surer ineans can be devised towards this end: mismanagement of hastening its introduction, than of the grossest kind still prevails frequent and seasonable appeals to throughout the various departments; the Press, which are never entirely and there has not even an approxima- destitute of utility, even when they tion been made towards an enlight- appear in the slight form of desultory ened system of official economy and ssays, of which the present is a regulation. Commissioners, comp- feeble and unworthy example.
WORKS PREPARING FOR PUBLICATION.
in the press.
Dr Forbes, of Chichester, will shortly Speedily will be published, an Account publish his 'Translation of Avenbrugger, of the Royal Hospital and Collegiate and a series of original cases and dissec. Church of St. Katharine, near the Tower tions, illustrating the utility of the Steof London, by J. B. Nichols, F.S.A. thoscope and Percussion. EL.S.
M. Laennec is preparing for publicaThe Second Part of the Modern His- tion, a new edition of his celebrated Treatory of Wiltshire, containing the Hun. tise on Mediate Auscultation, with condred of Heytesbury, by Sir R. C. Hoare, siderable alterations and improvements. Bart. is printing.
In consequence, Dr Forbes has postponed The Czar, an historical tragedy, by J. the second edition of his translation. Cradock, Esq. M.A. F.S.A. formerly of Speedily will be published, an Enquiry Gumley, in Leicestershire, will appear in into the Duties and Perplexities of Me. a few days.
dical Men as Witnesses in Courts of Jus. A Selection of the most remarkable tice, with cautions and directions for their Trials and Criminal Causes is printing, in guidance, by J. G. Smith, M.D. five volumes. It will include all famous The Scotsman's Library, announced . cases, from that of Lord Cobham, in the in a former Number, will be ready in reign of Henry the Fifth, to that of John August. Thurtell ; and those connected with fo. The Mechanic's Oracle, or Artizan's reign as well as English jurisprudence. complete Laboratory and Workshop, is
Shortly will be published, a Grammar of the Coptic or Ancient Egyptian Lan The Hermit in Italy, or Observations guage, by the Rev H. Tattam, A.M. on the Manners and Customs of the F.R.S.L. chaplain to the English Church Italians at the Commencement of the at Amsterdam.
Nineteenth Century, will soon appear. A Suppleinent to the London Catalogue A Chronological History of the West of Books, published since October 1822 to Indies is announced, by Capt. Thomas the present time, will appear about Au. Southey, commander, Royal Navy, in gust.
three volumes, octavo. The Rev. T. Arnold, M. A. late fellow A Compendium of Medical Theory and of Oriel College, Oxford, has been for Practice, founded on Dr Cullen's Noso. many years employed in writing a His- logy, which will be given as a Text-book, tory of Rome, from the earliest Times to and a translation annexed, is in preparathe Death of the Emperor Marcus Aure. lion, by D. Uwins, M.D. lius. The first volume, from the Rise of Tales of a Traveller, by the Author of the Roman State to the formation of the the “ Sketch Book," and " Knicker. second Triuinvirate, A.U.C. 710, B.C. bocker's New York,” will appear in a 44, will soon be published.
few days. The Butterfly-Collector's Vade Mecum, A Tale of Paraguay, by R. Southey, or a Synoptic: Table of English Butter LL.D. &c. is announced. flies, illustrated with coloured plates, in a Speedily will be published, Memoirs of pocket volume, is in the press.
the Rose, comprising botanical, poetical, Shortly will be published, in two vo. and miscellaneous recollections of that lumes, uniforin with the French Classics, celebrated flower; in a series of letters to and with an authentic portrait of M. a lady. Jouy, engraved by E. Scriven, Le Petit Patmos, and other poems, are in the Hermite, ou l'ableau des Maurs Parisi
press, by James Edmeston, author of ennes, extracted from “ L'Hermite de is Sacred Lyrics." la Chaussé d'Antin,” " Le Franc-par
Specimens (selected and translated) of leur," “ L'Hermite de la Guïane," and the Lyric Poetry of the Minessingers, of “L'Hermite eu Prison," with explanatory the reign of Frederick Barbarossa and the notes, and an essay on the life and writ. succeeding emperors of the Suabian dyings of M. Jouy, by L. T. Ventouillac, nasty, with historical, critical, and bioeditor of the “ Choix de Classiques Franc graphical remarks, are in the press. çais."
Elements of Algebra, compiled from A Diagram illustrative of the Forma. Garnier's French translation of Leonard tion of the Human Character, suggested Euler, and arranged so as to form a comby Mr Owen's development of a new plete System of Elementary Instruction view of society, will speedily be published in the First Part of Algebra, by C. Taylor,