TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
Sru—No 4etermination appears to have been yet formed respecting the reductions which are to be made in the salaries of Government °Seers. iWe have, at present, some confidence in the wisdom and justice of the new Administration, and I trust this confidence will not be dis- appointed. We ought to be treated as the servants of the public, not as the dependents of this or that administration ; but this opinion, true as it is, seems to have been at all times utterly repudiated by Ministers. The private interests of friends and relat:ons, and the necessity of obliging electioneering allies, have, in almost all cases, prevailed over the interests of the public service, and the claims of hard-working and de- serving individuals. Appointments to Government offices have been looked upon merely as playthings for men of influence to bestow at pleasure on their favourites. Anxious to oblige their friends and link them still closer, each administration has been willing to multiply situa- tions and patronage. The revenues of the kingdom were sometimes employed less for the public good, than to strengthen the existing ministry ; and every public office became crowded with principals, de- puties, and clerks ; a sort of hostages, to ensure the support of some in- fluential families. For each individual there could of course be little employment ; and a Government situation was so easy, that it became a nice resort for gentlemen of moderate incomes, with no capacity nor inclination for business. The efficient officers were few ; and were those who, unaided by patronage, clung, in spite of every disappointment, to the idea that attention and talent might be sufficient to promote their interests. On them, of course, the weight of business rested. It is not easy to conceive men to be placed in a more unfortunate situation than many of these subordinate officers. The abuse of patronage was increas- ing to such a degree, and the expenses of the Government becoming so enormous, that the public attention was at last drawn to the system. A very slight scrutiny was sufficient to expose such a mass of corruption, that the public attention, once directed to it, could never be again with- drawn. But the same evil influence which placed numerous unquali- fied persons in situations, still operated to defend them against public opinion. Whenever it became necessary to discharge officers, those who had nothing but their merit to depend upon, were gene- rally sure of dismissal, nor could they obtain that pecuniary com- pensation which in almost all cases consoled persons of influence for the abolition of their offices. Allow me to trouble you with an example. A very deserving officer, in the prime of life, and possessed of every requisite qualification, was appointed from a lower situation in England to a more considerable one in Ireland. After holding it a few years, new regulations were determined upon, which enabled the late Ministers to abolish this situation, and annex the duties of it to one of the same description in England. On the abolition of his office, this gentleman made application to be employed in some other department ; and after much trouble and disappointment, at last ob- tained a situation as a clerk, with half his former salary. In considera- tion of this small salary, and of his having been so reduced, from a principal to a very subordinate office, a compensation-allowance was 'made to him, which, together with his salary, amounted to a sum less by one-sixth than the salary attached to the abolished situation. A re- duction of one-sixth of his salary, and a situation of very low degree, requiring very close attention for the greater part of the day, will scarcely be considered such treatment as one of the best officers in the service had a right to expect ; but, Sir, the weight of injustice has yet to be described. Within three or four months after the compensation- allowance was granted, it was, without any reason, withdrawn ! Surely this was trifling with an officer in a somewhat unfeeling manner ! The claim to compensation was acknowledged by the grant of an allowance in the first instance, and the speedy retraction of it evinced no very creditable vacillation of purpose in some quarters, and was most oppres- sive and ruinous to the unfortunate party. But had this gentleman pos- sessed what is termed good interest, how would his case have stood ?- Let the following his, extracted from a letter in the Times, containing numerous similar existing pensions, answer the question. H. L. Grady—Compensation-allowance as late Counsel to the Ex-
cise, Dublin, on abolition of office . 1333 6 8 Duchess Dowager of Manchester—Compensation for loss of the of- fice of Collector of Customs outwards . 2928 7 4 Earl of Roden—Auditor of the Exchequer, Ireland—office abolished. 2700 0 0 Sir John Sinclair—Compensation-allowance on abolition of office of
Cashier of Excise ... . . 2000 0 0 Reverend G. Burrand—CompensatIon-allowance for loss of the office of Searcher of Customs 1100 0 0!!
Allow me now, Sir, to call your attention to a statement which has appeared in several newspapers, that "a reduction has been made in the salaries of the clerks employed in the Dockyard at Sheerness, in the following proportion : a reduction of twenty per cent. on salaries of 2001. and upward ; and of fifteen per cent. on salaries under 200/." It appears to me that this mode of reducing salaries by a taxation of so much per cent., is utterly erroneous in principle. I will not claim much credit for the clearness of my own views; but if justice and the public good are to be exclusively consulted, the proper mode of proceeding does appear very easy to be discovered. Our system is loaded with pensioners and sine- curists. The claims of the former ought to be strictly scrutinized, and the latter ought to be altogether abolished before the working officers are touched. Persons confined by their employment for seven or eight hours a day ought not to be reduced one farthing until the enormous sinecures are annihilated. Their amount will be found much more considerable than is generally supposed. When the system is so far cleared, the consideration presents itself, of what is a proper remuneration for the services performed by the officers who are necessarily retained. The service of Government ought to be maintained in, perhaps, a rather more respectable manner than any other ; and I am certain the feeling of the public is, that the officers should be well, but not extravagantly remunerated. But, Sir, when all this has been accomplished—when all officers who are useless have been dismissed, and those who remain have no higher salaries than are just and reasonable—ought the Minislry then to impose a per centage on salaries, without taxing all the property in the kingdom In an equal proportion ? Surely the salary that is well earned, ought to be something like a certain and absolute property. A little regard must be paid to such considerations, or the service of Government, from the insufficiency and uncertainty of the
salaries, will be degraded below any other, will disgust all qualified officers, and become a curse to those who, having been attached to it all their life, have no resort if they relinquish it.
The importance of this subject to the class to which I belong, will, I trust, be some excuse for the length of this letter, and for any repetition
of which I may have been guilty. To the liberal part of the publia press, we are grateful for the protection which they endeavour to ex. tend to us; and not doubting but that the wide circulation of your highly-respected paper will carry these remarks into the proper quarter, I beg leave to subscribe myself, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
A POOR REVENUE OFFICER.