JANUARY, 1870.

No. I.

ART. I.-The History and Literature of Civil Service Reform. AMONG the various directions taken by the recent discussion of a reform in our own civil service, none has been less diligently pursued than the history and literature of the subject. There are some suggestions that may be of use in the practical work that is yet to be done, to bring the legislation of the country to a level with the height attained by the men who have thought on and thought out this matter. The American Association for the advancement of Social Science has taken it in hand; and Mr. Curtis prepared a paper, which was read at the October meeting in New York. Mr. Henry Adams is the author of an article on the same subject in the October number of the North American Review. All who read the works of these gentlemen will be attracted to the consideration of Civil Service Reform, and many persons will be curious to know where the early history of this subject can be found, and what is the recorded experience of Roman, and mediæval and modern governments. A partial answer can be found in a book, little known abroad, and, of course, still less here, "Des Offices considérés au point de vue des Transactions Privées et des Intérêts de l'État (ouvrage couronné par la




Faculté de Droit de Rennes et par l'Académie de Législation), par EUGÈNE DURAND, Docteur en Droit, Avocat à la Cour Impériale de Rennes. Paris: S. Durand, LibraireEditeur. 1863 (pp. 458). It is written mainly to justify the existence, in France, of offices that are bought and sold,—the places of advocates of the Court of Cassation, notaries, attorneys, clerks, and tipstaffs of the courts, brokers and auctioneers,— and, to do so, it begins in very early times. The whole business of appointment to public office, and the proper tenure, has been largely discussed of late. The passage of the Tenure-ofOffice Bill had its origin in this way, although it was used for a very different end. The opposition to its repeal was due mainly to the strong feeling that any means of staying the tide of removals from office for mere party or personal reasons, could not be rightly dispensed with.

The introduction of the "Civil Service Bill" by Mr. Jenckes, his reports giving the history of the subject in this country, the debates in Congress, the large and liberal consideration given to the subject by the public press of the nation, the strong feeling in its favor, without regard to party lines, all bear loud and convincing testimony to the fact that there is a wholesome anxiety for some broad and sweeping measure of reform in the old fashion of political appointments to office. The feeling is that our public offices must be restored to their old condition of purity and efficiency, and that, while France and England, Germany and Italy even, may be the worse for their various forms of government, they are much better for their almost perfect system of the administration of the public business. The determination to effect a reform here in that direction is pretty certain, sooner or later, to be carried into effect. A sketch of the history of the subject, as exhibited in the work of M. Durand, may not be without its particular use in showing how the same mischief grew up in Roman and French administration, and was cured only by a destructive revolution that swept away with it all, or nearly all, that was good and bad, in its fury. Our word, "office," had no fellow in the Greek language, and the thing itself was represented by "ext," or by "dovas" and "." In Rome,

there was a gradual transition from magistratus to munera publica, honores, dignitates, and, finally, officium, whence our "office."

The origin of this word has been the subject of a good deal of curious learning and much effort to get at its real meaning. In the third century of the Christian era, Donatus taught that "officium dicitur quasi efficium ab efficiendo quod cuicui personæ efficere congruit." St. Augustine put the same idea in another way: "Officium dicitur quasi efficium, propter sermonis decorem mutata una litera." Loyseau, early in the seventeenth century, said that officium was composed of the preposition ob and the verb facio, and meant "continual or ordinary employment at a certain work."

Of the theory of appointment to office, there is no need for discussion. It has always been agreed, that every office is a delegation of public power, and the recipient is supposed to Le not only pure, honest, just, laborious, zealous, but specially fitted for the duties cast upon him, either by special training, or by such advantages of education as will best fit him to learn and exercise the duties of his office. To recur to pure theoretical times, we should have to go back to the republic of Plato. The corruption of public morals, the avidity of men for public office, and political necessities, have made the practice very different.

In Rome, the republic maintained the purity of its offices and its officers. When, under the emperors, the right to ap point fell into the hands of a single man, the system of officehunting was as well established as it is here among ourselves.

The custom of giving presents, at first a free-will offering, soon became obligatory, and then passed into a means of supplying the public treasury, emptied by the wicked wastefulness of the times.

The same transition can be seen in the history of early French legislation. Up to the end of the fifteenth century present-giving was the rule, subject, however, to numerous laws forbidding and punishing the traffic of officers in offices. But when the treasury became exhausted, and the taxes weighed heavily, Louis XII. and Francis I. determined to sell the titles which were solicited at their hands. All public

offices were made salable, and there was a new office created to manage the business. This went on, varying in degree and kind, until the French Revolution drove, into the world of the past, all the traditions that had made public office venal, hereditary, and corrupt, as it was almost proof against any reform or change.

It was not until eight centuries after the foundation of Rome that republican simplicity had been so far destroyed as to make way for the sale of public offices. The empire was almost near its end when the appointments in its service were made both salable and hereditary. In the history of the republic, merit was the only condition for appointment. Afterward, by slow and almost insensible progress downward, but steadily going on from bad to worse, the primitive character was lost, and, toward the fourth century of the Christian era, some of the officers enjoyed the privilege of disposing of their places during their life-time, and of transmitting them to their heirs after their death.

Under the republic there were innumerable offices; consuls, tribunes, pretors, censors, questors, curule ediles, and plebeian ediles were the most familiar. All were the gift of the people, except in times of great public difficulty, when a dictator was chosen, who appointed them.

Cicero, in his fourth oration against Verres, distinguishes the magistratus and the curationes,-the one extraordinary and temporary, the other ordinary and permanent,—the latter a sort of special commission, the former the regular channel.

The election ("designatio") once over, the officer took his place, without appointment, commission, or confirmation. Suspension, and, in the most cases, removal with disability were the punishments for violations or neglect of duty. Once out of office at the expiration of the term of service, there was no choice or influence used to secure a friend as successor, until Cæsar gave the example, and by doing so violated doubly the laws of the country, in giving up an office which he had engaged to execute, and in substituting as his successor a person of his own, and not of the general, popular choice.

A scrupulous observance of these rules for many ages made Rome great, and its fame eternal. Unfortunately, the con

quest of the world brought wealth into the capital, and wealth brought corruption.

Intrigue and bribery gained suffrages which used to be given to merit. Ruinous expenses signalized the nominations and the elections. Cicero (De Off, 1. ii., 17) comments on the unbought advancement of L. Philippus.


Lucan describes the ordinary contest for office :

"Huic rapti fasces pretio sectorque favoris
Ipse sui populus, letalisque ambitus urbi,
· Annua venali referens certamina campo."

Seneca is even more explicit :

-[De Bello Civili, 1. i.

"Hæc res ipsa quæ tot magistratus et judices facit pecunia, ex quo in honore esse cepit, rebus honor cecidit; mercatoresque et venales invicem facti quærimus non quale sit quidque sed quanti."-[Epistol., 115.

Quintilian forcibly and pithily says:—

"Ad summam in republica nostra honorem non animus, non virtus, non manus mittit, sed arca et dispensator."-[Decl., 345.

[ocr errors]

When it was sought to remedy the mischief, the roots had taken too strong hold to be easily loosened. In the effort to do so there were ten laws passed in rapid succession-Ll. Protelia, Emilia, Maria, Fabia, Calpurnia, Tullia, Aufidia, Licinia, Pompeia, and Julia—all given at length in Rozinus, Antiq. Roman., 1. xviii., c. 19, and in Alexander, Genial. Dier., 1. iii., c. 17.

It was after these efforts that the people of Rome, wearied

* Causa igitur largitionis est, si aut necesse est aut utile. In his autem ipsis mediocritatis regula optima est. L. quidem Philippus, Q. f., magno vir ingenio in primisque clarus, gloriari solebat se sine ullo munere adeptum esse omnia, quæ haberentur amplissima. Dicebat idem Cotta, Curio: Nobis quoque licet in hoc quodammodo gloriari. Nam pro amplitudine honorum, quos cunctis suffragiis adepti sumus nostro quidem anno, quod contigit eorum nemini, quos modo nominavi, sane exiguus sumptus ædilitatis fuit. Atque etiam illæ impensæ meliores, muri, navalia, portus, aquarum ductus, omniaque, quæ ad usum reipublicæ pertinent. Quamquam quod præsens tamquam in manum datur jucundius est: hæc tamen in posterum gratiora. Theatra, portica, nova templa verecundius reprehendo propter Pompeium: sed doctissimi non probant, ut et hic ipse Pœnatius et Phalereus Demetrius, qui Periclem, principem Græciæ, vituperat, quod tantam pecuniam in præclara illa propyloea conjecerit. Tota igitur ratio talium largitionum genere vitiosa est, temporibus necessaria; et tamen ipsa et ad facultates accommodanda et mediocritate moderanda est.-[Cic. de Off., 1. ii., 17.

« ElőzőTovább »