and when he saw his friend stripped of his arms, bound

acquaintance networkscience2023-12-05 17:45:18 444 33

Two kinds of fundamental error are supposable in such a set of Offices; these two, acting and reacting, are the vice of all inefficient Offices whatever.--_First_, that the work, such as it may be, is ill done in these establishments. That it is delayed, neglected, slurred over, committed to hands that cannot do it well; that, in a word, the questions sent thither are not wisely handled, but unwisely; not decided truly and rapidly, but with delays and wrong at last: which is the principal character, and the infallible result, of an insufficient Intellect being set to decide them. Or _second_, what is still fataler, the work done there may itself be quite the wrong kind of work. Not the kind of supervision and direction which Colonies, and other such interests, Home or Foreign, do by the nature of them require from the Central Government; not that, but a quite other kind! The Sotomayor correspondence, for example, is considered by many persons not to be mismanaged merely, but to be a thing which should never have been managed at all; a quite superfluous concern, which and the like of which the British Government has almost no call to get into, at this new epoch of time. And not Sotomayor only, nor Sapienza only, in regard to that Foreign Office, but innumerable other things, if our witty friend of the "live coal" have reason in him! Of the Colonial Office, too, it is urged that the questions they decide and operate upon are, in very great part, questions which they never should have meddled with, but almost all of which should have been decided in the Colonies themselves,--Mother Country or Colonial Office reserving its energy for a quite other class of objects, which are terribly neglected just now.

and when he saw his friend stripped of his arms, bound

These are the two vices that beset Government Offices; both of them originating in insufficient Intellect,--that sad insufficiency from which, directly or indirectly, all evil whatsoever springs! And these two vices act and react, so that where the one is, the other is sure to be; and each encouraging the growth of the other, both (if some cleaning of the Augeas stable have not intervened for a long while) will be found in frightful development. You cannot have your work well done, if the work be not of a right kind, if it be not work prescribed by

and when he saw his friend stripped of his arms, bound

the law of Nature as well as by the rules of the office. Laziness, which lies in wait round all human labor-offices, will in that case infallibly leak in, and vitiate the doing of the work. The work is but idle; if the doing of it will but pass, what need of more? The essential problem, as the rules of office prescribe it for you, if Nature and Fact say nothing, is that your work be got to pass; if the work itself is worth nothing, or little or an uncertain quantity, what more can gods or men require of it, or, above all, can I who am the doer of it require, but that it be got to pass?

and when he saw his friend stripped of his arms, bound

And now enters another fatal effect, the mother of ever-new mischiefs, which renders well-doing or improvement impossible, and drives bad everywhere continually into worse. The work being what we see, a stupid subaltern will do as well as a gifted one; the essential point is, that he be a quiet one, and do not bother me who have the driving of him. Nay, for this latter object, is not a certain height of intelligence even dangerous? I want no mettled Arab horse, with his flashing glances, arched, neck and elastic step, to draw my wretched sand-cart through the streets; a broken, grass-fed galloway, Irish garron, or painful ass with nothing in the belly of him but patience and furze, will do it safelier for me, if more slowly. Nay I myself, am I the worse for being of a feeble order of intelligence; what the irreverent speculative, world calls barren, red-tapish, limited, and even intrinsically dark and small, and if it must be said, stupid?--To such a climax does it come in all Government and other Offices, where Human Stupidity has once introduced itself (as it will everywhere do), and no Scavenger God intervenes. The work, at first of some worth, is ill done, and becomes of less worth and of ever less, and finally of none: the worthless work can now _afford_ to be ill done; and Human Stupidity, at a double geometrical ratio, with frightful expansion grows and accumulates,--towards the unendurable.

The reforming Hercules, Sir Robert Peel or whoever he is to be, that enters Downing Street, will ask himself this question first of all, What work is now necessary, not in form and by traditionary use and wont, but in very fact, for the vital interests of the British Nation, to be done here? The second question, How to get it well done, and to keep the best hands doing it well, will be greatly simplified by a good answer to that. Oh for an eye that could see in those hideous mazes, and a heart that could dare and do! Strenuous faithful scrutiny, not of what is _thought_ to be what in the red-tape regions, but of what really is what in the realms of Fact and Nature herself; deep-seeing, wise and courageous eyes, that could look through innumerable cobweb veils, and detect what fact or no-fact lies at heart of them,--how invaluable these! For, alas, it is long since such eyes were much in the habit of looking steadfastly at any department of our affairs; and poor commonplace creatures, helping themselves along, in the way of makeshift, from year to year, in such an element, do wonderful works indeed. Such creatures, like moles, are safe only underground, and their engineerings there become very daedalean. In fact, such unfortunate persons have no resource but to become what we call Pedants; to ensconce themselves in a safe world of habitudes, of applicable or inapplicable traditions; not coveting, rather avoiding the general daylight of common-sense, as very extraneous to them and their procedure; by long persistence in which course they become Completed Pedants, hidebound, impenetrable, able to _defy_ the hostile extraneous element; an alarming kind of men, Such men, left to themselves for a century or two, in any Colonial, Foreign, or other Office, will make a terrible affair of it!

For the one enemy we have in this Universe is Stupidity, Darkness of Mind; of which darkness, again, there are many sources, every _sin_ a source, and probably self-conceit the chief source. Darkness of mind, in every kind and variety, does to a really tragic extent abound: but of all the kinds of darkness, surely the Pedant darkness, which asserts and believes itself to be light, is the most formidable to mankind! For empires or for individuals there is but one class of men to be trembled at; and that is the Stupid Class, the class that cannot see, who alas are they mainly that will not see. A class of mortals under which as administrators, kings, priests, diplomatists, &c., the interests of mankind in every European country have sunk overloaded, as under universal nightmare, near to extinction; and indeed are at this moment convulsively writhing, decided either to throw off the unblessed superincumbent nightmare, or roll themselves and it to the Abyss. Vain to reform Parliament, to invent ballot-boxes, to reform this or that; the real Administration, practical Management of the Commonwealth, goes all awry; choked up with long-accumulated pedantries, so that your appointed workers have been reduced to work as moles; and it is one vast boring and counter-boring, on the part of eyeless persons irreverently called stupid; and a daedalean bewilderment, writing "impossible" on all efforts or proposals, supervenes.

The State itself, not in Downing Street alone but in every department of it, has altered much from what it was in past times; and it will again have to alter very much, to alter I think from top to bottom, if it means to continue existing in the times that are now coming and come!

The State, left to shape itself by dim pedantries and traditions, without distinctness of conviction, or purpose beyond that of helping itself over the difficulty of the hour, has become, instead of a luminous vitality permeating with its light all provinces of our affairs, a most monstrous agglomerate of inanities, as little adapted for the actual wants of a modern community as the worst citizen need wish. The thing it is doing is by no means the thing we want to have done. What we want! Let the dullest British man endeavor to raise in his mind this question, and ask himself in sincerity what the British Nation wants at this time. Is it to have, with endless jargoning, debating, motioning and counter-motioning, a settlement effected between the Honorable Mr. This and the Honorable Mr. That, as to their respective pretensions to ride the high horse? Really it is unimportant which of them ride it. Going upon past experience long continued now, I should say with brevity, "Either of them--Neither of them." If our Government is to be a No-Government, what is the matter who administers it? Fling an orange-skin into St. James's Street; let the man it hits be your man. He, if you breed him a little to it, and tie the due official bladders to his ankles, will do as well as another this sublime problem of balancing himself upon the vortexes, with the long loaded-pole in his hands; and will, with straddling painful gestures, float hither and thither, walking the waters in that singular manner for a little while, as well as his foregoers did, till he also capsize, and be left floating feet uppermost; after which you choose another.



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