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1858.]

COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION.

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paper on the administration of the medical charities in France. It was now powerfully urged by his friend Mr. Mill; and the government, which would probably have strenuously resisted such an attempt to interfere with its patronage in England, consented, without much reluctance, to a trial of the experiment in India. And thus a principle was inaugurated which was afterwards extended to branches of the home service to which it seemed to be peculiarly applicable—the engineers ana Che artillery—with such success, that it will no doubt be employed in every branch of the public service to which it can be applied. The grounds on which this great change wae advocated have been laid down by Mr. Mill with his usual force and clearness :

* The proposal to select candidates for the civil service of government by a competitive examination appears to me to be one of those great public improvements, the adoption of which would form an era in history. The effects which it is calculated to produce in raising the character both of the public administration and of the people can scarcely be over-estimated. It has equal claims to support from the disinterested and impartial among Conservatives and among Reformers. For its adoption would be the best vindication which could be made of existing political institutions, by showing that the classes who under the present constitution have the greatest influence in the government do not desire any greater share of the profits derivable from it than their merits entitle them to, but are willing to take the chances of competition with ability in all ranks; while the plan offers to Liberals, so far as it extends, the realisation of the principal object which any honest reformer desires, to effect by political changes, namely, that the administration of affairs should be in the most competent hands, which, as regards the permanent part of the administrative body, would be insured by the proposed plan, so far as it is possible for any human contrivance to secure it. When we add to this consideration the extraordinary stimulus which would be given to mental cultivation in its most important branches, not solely by the hope of prizes to be obtained by means of it, but by the effect of the national recognition of it as the exclusive title to participation in the conduct of so large and conspicuous a portion of the national affairs ; and when we farther think of the great and salutary moral

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revolution, descending to the minds of almost the lowest classes, which would follow the knowledge that government (to people in general the most trusted exponent of the ways of the world) would henceforth bestow its gifts according to merit and not to favour, it is difficult to express in any language which would not appear exaggerated, the benefits which, as it appears to me, would ultimately be the consequences of the successful execution of the scheme.'

Such were the arguments which induced the government and the legislature to adopt the principle of competitive examinations. And now it may be asked, How far have the anticipations of advantage been actually fulfilled in the result?

It cannot be denied,' says Mr. Chadwick, 'that competition has raised the average of service; it has insured a more hard-working and steady average of officers-a more frugal and more moral average, a higher social average, with fewer snobs. With important and valuable exceptions of a few men from the ranks, the social condition of the average, instead of being lowered, has remained much the same, and rather advanced. Members of the aristocracy enter into competition, and, with the advantages of special culture, maintain their own. The Horse Guards bemoaned, in respect to the army, the prospect of having the service filled with mere feeble“ bookworms." Earl Grey lamented this, which, he would have it, was an inevitable consequence of the scheme. Now the fact is, that the average not only exceeds the former average in mental acquirements, but, what I confess I was not prepared to expect, it turns out a better average of bodily acquirement. The Woolwich cadets, who have a higher order of mental acquirement than those of Sandhurst, beat them in athletic exercises, and also beat their seniors, the non-competitives. The average of bodily attainment, with much more yet to do, has decidedly improved. Then we have, at the same time, to look to the promise on the other side of the account -of the removal of corrupt political influence on constituencies and in parliament, as well as the reduction of waste from inefficiency in the executive business of the country. We heard the other day a member of a conservative administration declare, from this chair, that there is already little or no political patronage worth having. And last

1958.)

PURIFICATION OF THE THAMES.

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week I heard a leading liberal parliamentary agent state that the new measure, the public benefits of which he acknowledged, had deprived him of accustomed and potent means of electoral influence.'

We may note here the quiet settlement of a question which had long agitated the legislature and the country, and to the agitation carried on in favour of which we have already more than once had occasion to refer. On the 1st of July the long-standing controversy on the subject of the Jewish disabilities received its quietus by means of a compromise suggested by Lord Lucan, which was in fact a surrender by the House of Lords of the principle which it had hitherto so obstinately maintained. The suggestion was, that each house should have the power to modify, according to its pleasure, the form of oath to be administered to its members. A bill embodying this suggestion having been carried rapidly through its various stages, and the form of oath in the lower house baving been altered in such a way as to allow of its being taken by a Jew, was administered in its amended form to Baron Rothschild, who was allowed, without farther opposition, to occupy the seat in the house from which he had so long been debarred.

An almost tropical heat, and a pestilential stench from the Thames, which neither black rod nor sergeant-at-arms could keep out of the halls of parliament, made the members of both houses more than usually anxious to bring to a termination their legislative work, and hasten as quickly as possible into a purer atmosphere; and the government, for many reasons, was only too anxious to gratify this desire. But before the session closed, ministers very properly determined to abate the intolerable nuisance which had so unpleasantly forced itself on their notice. Accordingly, on Thursday July the 15th, Mr. Disraeli moved for leave to bring in a bill for the main drainage of the metropolis; a work which it was calculated would cost at least 3,000,0001. It was proposed that parliament should impose a special rate on the metropolis for the purpose of purifying the river and completing the main drainage of the metropolis ; the money to be borrowed on the guarantee of the government, and repaid by a special rate of 3d. in the pound, to be called the sewage rate, in forty years, by annual instalments; the work to be completed in five years

VOL. III.

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and a half. The expenditure of the money and the carrying out of the object of the bill was to be intrusted to the metropolitan board of works. The bill went through its various stages with few alterations. On Monday the 2nd of August parliament was prorogued by commission; and on the following Wednesday the Queen and Prince Albert started from Portsmouth on board the Victoria and Albert steam yacht, and attended by a large convoy, to meet the Emperor and Empress of the French at Cherbourg, and to assist at the fêtes held in that town on the occasion of the inauguration of a new Napoleon dock and a statue of the First Napoleon.

Thus the ministry of a minority had, under the deft and dextrous guidance of Mr. Disraeli, passed through the session without sustaining any defeat, and their leader bad cleverly managed to give to a great escape the semblance of a great victory. But it was not by any feats of political legerdemain, however skilful, that public support was to be obtained for a ministry which existed not so much on the sufferance as on the divisions of its opponents, by which the great liberal majority was broken up into fragments. There was a party led by Lord J. Russell ; another led by Lord Palmerston ; another consisting of the Peelites, as they were called, few in number but formidable on account of their great legislative and administrative capacity as well as their eloquence; and lastly there was the party which had forced on a reluctant and protectionist legislature the adoption of a free-trade policy, and which, under the able and eloquent leadership of Messrs. Cobden and Bright, would probably have attached to itself all the other sections of the liberal party, if those eminent men had not chosen to sacrifice power and popularity rather than yield to the warlike passions and prejudices of their fellow-countrymen.

But the clever leaders of the conservative party did not rely only on the divisions of their opponents. They were well aware that, unless they could obtain a greater amount of public confidence and support than they at present possessed, they could not exercise power, nor long continue to retain their places; and they felt at once the necessity and the difficulty of putting forth a programme of their policy. Something must be done to conciliate public

1858.]

THE ATLANTIC CABLE.

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opinion; yet what change could be proposed that would not rouse the opposition of their extreme followers ? They met this difficulty by putting forward a cry instead of a programme, and talking about 'conservative progress;' a phrase too vague to cause alarm to the most decided reactionist, and yet holding out the promise that the existence of a conservative government would not altogether stop the march of improvement.

While the Queen and the Emperor were exchanging civilities at Cherbourg, and cementing the existing alliance between France and England, the Agamemnon and Niagara had succeeded, in spite of most unfavourable weather, in depositing the electric cable at the bottom of the Atlantic; and messages of congratulation on the result thus achieved were transmitted between the Queen of England and the President of the United States, and between the Mayors of London and New York. Great was the joy which the tidings of this scientific success caused in the two countries, especially in the United States. But the signals became fainter and fainter; at length they ceased altogether; yet no explanation could be afforded of the cause of their cessation. It was, however, alleged that the electric current went feebly and only for a short distance; and it was therefore hoped that the failure had occurred in the shallow water near the Irish coast, and in a portion of the cable weaker than the rest, and which had been temporarily laid down, for the purpose of being afterwards replaced. This hope, however, was disappointed; and for the present this great and bold experiment had failed.

The Chinese war was brought to a close towards the end of the year by a treaty, of which it was observed at the time that it was 'highly satisfactory on paper.' It was found on trial to be tolerably satisfactory in its practical working.

The Oxford middle-class examination, now known as the • University local examination,' commenced at Oxford on the 21st of June; and the example thus set was followed by the sister university of Cambridge in December. The admission of girls to the university examinations was not obtained till 1865.

Before the end of the year 1858 a proclamation was issued announcing the transfer of the government of India

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