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are reproached for that too. Nothing will satisfy the objectors but free admission of total ignorance. We are triumphantly told that neither Clive nor Wellington could have passed the test which is prescribed for an aspirant to an engineer cadetship; as if, because Clive and Wellington did not do what was not required of them, they could not have done it if it had been required. If it be only meant to inform us that it is possible to be a great general without these things, so it is without many other things which are very useful to great generals. Alexander the Great had never heard of Vauban's rules, nor could Julius Caesar speak French. We are next informed that book-worms, a term which seems to be held applicable to whoever has the smallest tincture of bookknowledge, may not be good at bodily exercises, or have the habits of gentlemen. This is a very common line of remark with dunces of condition; but, whatever the dunces may think, they have no monopoly of either gentlemanly habits or bodily activity. Wherever these are needed, let them be inquired into and separately provided for, not to the exclusion of mental qualifications, but in addition. Meanwhile, I am credibly informed that in the Military Academy at Woolwich the competition cadets are as superior to those admitted on the old system of nomination in these respects as in all others; that they learn even their drill more quickly, as indeed might be expected, for an intelligent person learns all things sooner than a stupid one; and that in general demeanor they contrast so favorably with their predecessors, that the authorities of the institution are impatient for the day to arrive when the last remains of the old leaven shall have disappeared from the place. If this be so, and it is easy to ascertain whether it is so, it is to be hoped we shall soon have heard for the last time that ignorance is a better qualification than knowledge for the military, and, d fortiori, for every other profession, or that any one good quality, however little apparently connected with liberal education, is at all likely to be promoted by going without it. Though the first admission to government employment be decided by competitive examination, it would in most cases be impossible that subsequent promotion should be so decided; and it seems proper that this should take place, as it usually does at present, on a mixed system of seniority and selection. Those whose duties are of a routine character should rise by seniority to the highest point to which duties merely of that description can carry them, while those to whom functions of particular trust, and requiring special capacity, are confided, should be selected from the body on the discretion of the chief of the office. And this selection will generally be made honestly by him if the original appointments take place by open competition, for under that system his establishment will generally consist of individuals to whom, but for the official connection, he would have been a stranger. If among them there be any in whom he, or his political friends and supporters, take an interest, it will be but occasionally, and only when to this advantage of connection is added, as far as the initiatory examination could test it, at least equality of real merit; and, except when there is a very strong motive to job these appointments, there is always a strong one to appoint the fittest person, being the one who gives to his chief the most useful assistance, saves him most trouble, and helps most to build up that reputation for good management of public business which necessarily and properly redound to the credit of the minister, however much the qualities to which it is immediately owing may be those of his subordinates.
IT is but a small portion of the public business of a country which can be well done or safely attempted by the central authorities; and even in our own government, the least centralized in Europe, the legislative portion at least of the governing body busies itself far too much with local affairs, employing the supreme power of the state in cutting small knots which there ought to be other and better means of untying. The enormous amount of private business which takes up the time of Parliament and the thoughts of its individual members, distracting them from the proper occupations of the great council of the nation, is felt by all thinkers and observers as a serious evil, and, what is worse, an increasing one.
It would not be appropriate to the limited design of this treatise to discuss at large the great question, in no way peculiar to representative government, of the proper limits of governmental action. I have said elsewhere” what seemed to me most essential respecting the principles by which the extent of that action ought to be determined. But after subtracting from the functions performed by most European governments those which ought not to be undertaken by public authorities at all, there still remains so great and various an aggregate of duties, that, if only on the principle of division of labor, it is indispensable to share them between central and local authorities. Not solely are separate executive officers required for purely local duties (an amount of separation which exists under all governments), but the popular control over those officers can only be advantageously exerted through a separate organ. Their original appointment, the function of watching and checking them, the duty of providing or the discretion of withholding the supplies necessary for their operations, should rest, not with the national Parliament or the national executive, but with the people of the locality. That the people should exercise these functions directly and personally is evidently inadmissible. Administration by the assembled people is a relic of barbarism opposed to the whole spirit of modern life; yet so much has the course of English institutions depended on accident, that this primitive mode of local government remained the general rule in parochial matters up to the present generation ; and, having never been legally abolished, probably subsists unaltered in many rural parishes even now. There remains the plan of representative sub-Parliaments for local affairs, and these must henceforth be considered as one of the fundamental institutions of a free government. They exist in England but very incompletely, and with great irregularity and want of system; in some other countries much less popularly governed, their consti
* “On Liberty,” concluding chapter; and, at greater length, in the final chapter of “Principles of Political Economy.”