« PreviousContinue »
ward be bestowed by government, but that it is at the expense of the whole community that it is bestowed.
Production of public service--in this result then behold the only proper object, of reward bestowed on the sort of occasion here in question : bestowed by the trustees for the public ;-bestowed at the expense of the public;bestowed in an indefinitely large proportion, if not in the whole, at the expense of unwilling contributors.
A most pernicious,-and, at the same time, a most deplorably common, error,-is that by which the case of reward, administered as here at public expense, is confounded with the case, in which it is administered at personal expense: with the case, in which the party by whom it is administered is the party at whose expense it is administered. Administered at personal expense, excess is neither probable nor mischievous : be it ever so great, no person, other than the donor, can find in the magnitude of it any cause of complaint: and, by the supposition, no such cause does he find: administered at public expense, excess is constantly mischievous, and as constantly probable. Liberality-generosity--such are the attributes ascribed to the gift, and thence to the giver, in the case where, in respect of its magnitude, the disposition made of the good thing given in the way of reward, is an object of approbation to him by whom it is thus spoken of. Applied to reward, conferred at personal expense, these eulogistic appellatives are innoxious, and even beneficial : applied to reward, conferred at public expense, they are noxious ; they are instruments of pernicious delusion; they are instruments in the hand of misrule, peculation, and depredation. Liberality at a man's own expense liberality at other men's expense-what can be more opposite? In the first case, and in that alone, it is that self-denial can find place : in the other case, instead of self-denial, nothing is to be seen but selfishness. In the first case, the only tax imposed is the tax imposed by the giver upon his own selfregarding affection, imposed for the gratification of his own sympathetic-of his own social affections : so let him do, tax those his personal affections--as high as he pleases -you
need not fear his over-taxing them : should he even do so, it is his concern alone—not any body else's.
These things considered, if it be at public expense, talk not of rewarding merit—talk not of retributiontalk not of remuneration-at any rate in the character of an end in view : of words of this complexion, by the indeterminateness of their import, the tendency is—to mislead men's minds, and to reconcile them to misrule, in the shapes of waste, peculation, and depredation : say always production of public service, or, if you please, production of meritorious public service. By either of these phrases, indication is given of the object, which, on the occasion in question, is, or ought to be, the sole and immediate end in view :- an object, which is at the same time a test of the propriety of the disposition made, and a measure of propriety for the quantity so disposed of.
By the word merit, what is the object really designated ? Any specific quality in the subject ? No: nothing but the affection with which, by him, by whom the word is employed, the subject is regarded, -unless it be the property which the subject manifests, in giving birth to the affection so excited and directed. A libel is any thing that a man does not like : merit is any thing he does like : libel is a word invented to enable men to waste punishment at pleasure: merit is a word invented to enable them to waste reward at pleasure.
For bestowing reward at public expense, on any occasion or in any shape, this then being the only proper ob. ject and immediate end in view—the only justifiable cause
viz. production of public service, so it is that, with reference to the accomplishment of this object, rewards, in the shape now in question, viz. Sinecures and Extra-paid places, will be seen to be essentially improper : being not only not conducive to that end, but, with reference to the attainment of it, positively adverse and obstructive.
Uncertainty, unproportionality, abstractiveness or seductiveness, and degradingness,-in the combination of all these qualities, may the cause of the impropriety be seen in the case of Sinecures ; in the combination of all of them but the last, in the case of Extra-paid places.
1. Uncertainty :--for it is by existing, not by future contingent bread, that man is kept alive. In the list of Sineeures, be it ever so long, and be the service ever so meritorious, so it may be, that no one article,—such as, for the merit and the man in question, can be spared,-shall have fallen in, till the man is dead, the service forgotten, or some other service performed by some other man, whose service, or whose merit, i.e. whose person is more acceptable.
2. Unproportionality :-for,-on the one hand, be the value of the past service to be rewarded, and on the other hand the value of the service producible by means of the reward, what it may,--so it is that, the value of the reward being fixt, and not capable of being adapted to the value of either of those services, the chances are indefinitely great, that in quantity it will be either greater or less than the proper one.*
By this circumstance, therefore, is a Sinecure distinguished from a Pension. A Pension is not, in its own nature, incapable of being adjusted—adjusted with any degree of nicety to the value of the service : a Sinecure is. No wonder: for it is not by any view of making application of them to any saclı purpose as that of a reward for real public service, that in any branch of the public service they have been produced.
3. Abstractiveness or seductiveness : abstractiveness, the property of drawing a man out of the meritorious course to which he should be attached; seductiveness, the property of drawing him into a course of dissipation : leading him into a life of idleness, or engaging him in the pursuit of what commonly goes by the name of pleasure ; of pleasure in those shapes in which the sudden influx of the matter of wealth now for the first time enables him to purchase it. of this effect the magnitude will indeed depend upon the relative magnitude of the lot of reward-the Șinecare. But, in the case in question, this magnitude is in many instances notoriously enormous.
4. Degradingness : of this quality, and its inherency in the very essence of a Sinecure, mention has been already made: the shape being such, that in this shape reward cannot be received by a man, without his aggregating himself to a class of men, in whose instance nothing but condign punishment is wanting to aggregate them to the class of notorious criminals.
In this quality of degradingness may be seen, as above, the only shade of difference, which, in this respect, has place between the case of a Sinecure and the case of an overpaid place, of the pay of which the excess, instead of being, for the benefit of the public, suppressed, is kept on foot, to be disposed of in the same manner that a Sinecure, so called, would be disposed of. Where the excess arises from the smallness of the quantity of time employed in the performance of the duties, the office is in fact, by the amount of the deficiency in the article of time employed in the performance of the duties of it, a Sinecure.
Thus much being thus proved, viz. that to the produce tion of meritorious public service in any line, reward, in either of the shapes in question, more particularly in that of Sinecure, is essentially ill adapted, another proposi
tion presents itself, the proof of which may be apt to appear a work of supererogation. This is that in relation to the production of extra-meritorious public service in the line here in question, the tendency of purely factitious extra reward, not only in this shape, but in any shape, is not conducive, but adverse and preventive.
As to the exigible duties, it is only in and by Sermons that extra-meritorious service referable to this head can be rendered
Matter and delivery—to one or other of these heads will be found referable, whatsoever merit is capable of having place in a discourse of any kind : whatsoever service, extra-meritorious or simply meritorious, is capable of being rendered by it. So far as it is by the reading of a fixt form, such as the Liturgy, that the duty is performed, so far under the head of matter, no place is left for merit on the part of any individual, present or future. So far as concerns delivery, whatever comes to be said in regard to the reading of a Sermon, will, without considerable variation, be applicable to the reading of the Liturgy.
1. As to Sermons, and the meritorious service which in respect of the matter of them is capable of being rendered, true it cannot but be admitted to be, that while printing was unknown or rare, factitious extra reward might by its application to extra-meritorious service in this shape have been not incapable of being employed with beneficial effect. But by that admirable art, so it is that, for merit in this, as well as so many other lines of public service, has been brought into existence a species of reward in the shape of natural, i. e. naturally attached reward, by which, in this country at any rate,-unless it be, in some such way as will be seen, in subordination to this natural reward whatever may have been or may be the case in other times