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NO. I. RELIGIO LAICI. By THOMAS HUGHES, Author of "TOM BROWN'S [Ready.
NO. II. THE MOTE AND THE BEAM: A Clergyman's Lessons from
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IT would be difficult to mention any profession which is so often asserted as the Indian Civil Service is, to be a sure path to great worldly prosperity. Every one has heard of briefless barristers, starving curates, shabby authors; of doctors without patients, of merchants without business, and of soldiers and sailors without promotion. But who ever heard of an Indian civilian who was not rolling in wealth, pomp, and power? Who ever heard the Civil Service of India described except as "the finest service in the world, sir"—the one glorious certainty in the pursuits of civilized life. The Indian civilian is, indeed, to the present age almost what the Indian nabob was to a former age. He is studiously represented as a lazy, luxurious being, in the enjoyment of extravagant pay, and of improper privileges and immunities of all kinds, and with nothing but the dangers of the climate, and the discomforts of expatriation, to mitigate his almost superhuman felicity.
So long as the government of India and the right of nomination to the Civil Service remained in the hands of the directors, these misconceptions could do but little harm. But now that the government has been transferred to the Crown, and the service thrown open to the public, the most serious evils may result from them. They may lead to the unreflecting reduction of Indian civil salaries, and they may induce men to compete for writerships who have no No. 22.-VOL. IV.
inclination whatever for such a life as the Indian civilian's actually is. It is surely desirable that, before the salaries are reduced, it should be well understood what the work is by which they are earned; and that, before a youth enters the service, he should know what the service is.
To supply this information is the object of the present paper. We will first sketch the career of a civilian in the North West provinces ; then mention the chief incidents of his service; and, lastly, endeavour to place the service in its true rank as a worldly profession. In applying our results to other parts of India, variations of detail will, indeed, be necessary. But they will hold good generally of both the upper and lower provinces of Bengal,-the presidency to which the majority of probationers will probably always be sent, and in which the highest rate of salaries prevails.
On his arrival in India, the new civilian spends his first year in Calcutta, studying two oriental languages. He is now said to be "in college." The college is the college of Fort William, which has degenerated from Lord Wellesley's ideal into an examining board, a library, and a crowd of Moonshees and Pundits. Every student is provided with a Moonshee, with the loan of books, and with about 4007. a year pay, which, although it sounds enormous to English ears, is little more than enough to enable the young civilian to keep up his position in so expensive a city as Calcutta. It
would not be easy, however, to justify this item of expenditure in a Committee of Supply. As an educational institution the effect of the college is almost inappreciable. The intellectual qualifications of the examiners are not high. The amount of restraint imposed on the students is not great enough to coerce the frivolous, and is quite sufficient to disgust the ambitious. On the whole, On the whole, the almost invariable result of his residence in college is to impair the student's health, to damage his morale, to hamper him with debts, to lower his ambition, and to disgust him with Indian life-a heavy price to pay for the perusal of didactic fables about monkeys, mice, and crows, and the superficial acquirement of a scanty vocabulary of pedantic words.
At last, however, the student is reported qualified for the public service, and joins a station as an assistant to the magistrate and collector. In the course of the next two years, he will probably manage to pass two not very formidable examinations; and, being then vested with the full powers of a joint magistrate and deputy collector, he will enter on his career. And here we must do what no ambitious civilian is at all likely to do, confine our view to what is called "the regular line of the service." Of course, every one who is ambitious will determine in his own mind that it is all very well for Brown, Jones, and Robinson to keep in the beaten track. They, poor fellows, will never be fit for anything else! But he, with his rare endowments, will surely leap at once into a snug staff appointment! Did not Lord Metcalfe, he will reflect, attract Lord Wellesley's discerning eye almost as soon as he landed in Calcutta, and pass his time in personal attendance on "the glorious little man," till he entered on his brilliant diplomatic career? Have not A. B. and C. been in the Secretariat or in Council all their service? And shall he, the hero, remain unknown to fame in a Cutcherry, or spend his life as a police-magistrate? But, unfortunately, the whole number of staff appointments in the Bengal service is only about twenty; so that, if forty heroes go out
every year, the great majority of them must perforce remain in the "regular line." Moreover, even assuming that the authorities in the disposal of their patronage adopt, in its integrity, the motto, "Detur digniori," we only fall back on Lord Palmerston's question, "What is merit?" Your ideas and my ideas on the point may differ widely; and, even if you would be as fully convinced as I am of my qualifications for a given post, if you knew me as well as I fancy that I know myself, fortune may deny you the knowledge, and may perversely bring to your notice the inferior qualities of Smith or Jones. In India, where civilians are scattered over so large an area, the chances of acquaintanceship play a most important part in the lottery of staff appointments. No Governorgeneral can be personally acquainted` with every civil officer between Calcutta and Peshawur. When he has a good thing to dispose of, he gives it either to a man whom he knows himself, or to a man who is strongly recommended by some one personally known to his excellency. So that the nominee be competent, why should we complain that the post is given only to a competent man, and not to him whom we consider the most competent ?
It is best, then, at the outset, to turn our eyes resolutely away from all secretaryships, registrarships, and other fat and tempting posts, and to confine ourselves to the regular line of the service where the rank and file must work. The odds are that any given civilian will be kept in that line all his service. An intending candidate, therefore, who feels a distaste for the work of a district officer, would do well to abandon altogether the idea of entering the Indian Civil Service.
After an assistant has passed his two examinations, his duties and powers, for the best part of the next ten years, will remain unaltered. His title will be changed from "Assistant with full powers," to "Joint Magistrate of the Second Grade," and "Joint Magistrate of the First Grade." His pay will be raised contemporaneously to 70%. and