VICTORIAN CIVIL SERVICE.
To gain wisdom from the experience of others is undoubtedly an economical mode of guarding against error, though it is not the one which is generally adopted. We may
assist, however, in bringing so valuable and neglected- a practice more into notice, and may at the same time furnish some .useful sugges tions, by laying before our readers portions of a report recently issued by a Commission who had been appointed by the Governor of Vic toria to enquire into the present state of the Civil Service of that colony. . , In some points we find that the Victorian report accords with recommendations made in this colony a few ycar3 since by the Estimates Committee appointed by our own House of Assembly; but in its most important features the report now before us is new, though it treats of difficulties which have long been ex perienced more or less in this colony, as well a3~in Victoria. In tho first place, for instance, the Commissioners point out the inconvenience to the public which results from Government offices being scattered in various directions
apart from each other, and irom the several branches of one department being frequently in different localities. They say :— ' We think it desirable to consolidate, as far as pos sible, the office buildings ; and, where all the offices are in the same neighbourhood, to take cars that the busi ness of kindred offices should be carried on under n single roof. A3 some of the public offices aro already in progress, it is not necessary to enlarge upon this subject, except to observe that the absence of suitable accommo dation, in many instances, occasions a considerable amount of labour that might well be spared. A sugges tion in reference to riicial buildings has been made to us which seems to Reserve consideration. It has been proposed that the principal business of every important department should be conducted in ono large hall. An arrangement, which is generally adopte j in banking and mercantile establishments, is likely to have important practical advantages, some of which indeed are suffi ciently obvious.' But a more important point to which atten tion is directed is one in connection with the annual estimates of expenditure. In this colony our readers must have often been 3truck by the regular occurrence of the item '?' Contingencies' in connection with every de-' oortment ; so that although the sum asked for
may not in any one case be large, yet the effect is by the time all the Estimates are passed to swell the whole amount voted to the extent of some thousands of pounds more than it other wise would have been. ' Contingencies,' in fact, are the odd pence which a liberal House is always asked to throw in when settling accounts with its servants, and which it never refuses because each separate amount is so small. These ' unconsidered trifles,' however, make alto gether a very large sum even in our Estimates ; and as the same practice prevails in Victoria it is not surprising that so irregular a manner of getting the public funds voted should there meet with condemnation. The Commissioners Bay:— ' We consider that some better means of obtaining in formation than now exists should be supplied to the
Legislature in reference to votes for 'Contingencies.' Barge sums under this head are annually voted, and but little explanation is afforded to assist members in cheeking the amount^, or even to comprehend the ne cessity for many of the votes. Although some of the items are specified in many-such, for example, as ' fuel, light, and water ' or 'stores,' &c.-large sums of money are lumped together witaoutany explanation whatever, we think that intbeso and other items supplied ttufcucb. the sgenc/ of the Colonial Storekeeper, the votes under the head of contingencies for each department should be separated and be phced in the Estimates among the votes portaining to that offiaei's department. A com parison could then be made at a glance of tho respectivo sums allotted to each department for similar purposes aad there would at tho f-an?e time be shown under me head the total amount of expenditure under the control f the Colonial Storekeeper. Wo also think a return should accompany tho Ii3limates setting forth the actual expenditure under ca;h item which has been incurred for the previous yfar, find giving tho reasons for any alteration in the votes for the ensuing year ; and we are f,°E j that ia raany instances tbe expenditure for light and water' is in a great degree superfluous.' Another mystery almost equal to that con nected with this expenditure upon 'light and water' is one involved in the item of travelling expenses, which in Victoria appear to swallow up a great deal of the public revenue from the want of some regular system of payment— a fault which we suppose belongs to the Auditor General. Oh this point the Commissioners make the following remarks : —
'Another subject of some importance on which s uniformity of practice is desirable is the allowance made to officers for their travelling expenses. Tho practice seems to be to refund tho amount aclnslly expended in travelling on the production of vouchers. This practice both gives COTsiieraWa trouble, as well in the procuring a- in the examination of vouchers, and occasions loss to the traveller if ho cannot produce a voucher for every trifling item of exf en.-e lhat he may have incurred. From ascuseoftucseinconvcnicnccs. an opposite pbnie, in some cases, followed, of givi.i^ a fixed annual sum in lieu of all travelling expenses. This practice would require frequent and careful revision with reference both to time and place, and ba3 tbe further grave objection of placing the personal interest of the officer in direct opposition to his duty. A third course is sometimes pursued, chiefly in the ease of .superior officers. They are allowed a certain sum for every day on which they aro actually engaged in travelling We think that this method is free trom the objections which attach to the two pre ceding systems of allowance, and we recommend its general extension. A scile of allowances according to rank might be constructed, bat aa tho necessary ex penses in travelling are not very different, no miterial difference in tho rate of allowance should be made.' Other points of minor importance to which the Commissioners refer are the necessity of time-books behag regularly kept in the various offices, of copying-machines being generally used, and of the same system of accounts being adopted in all the Government offices. The loss of time incurred in the use of postage
stamps is also referred to in the following manner: — ' We think that some trouble and much risk of loss might bo saved by discontinuing the use of postage stamps on ofTKial letters. At present postage-stamps are issued to the various departments to the value of. £10,000 per annum, and a considerable amount of time and f rouWc is necessarily Fpent in every office in giving out aad accounting for thcaj stamp3. Wo think that the head of every department ought to have an office stamp, and all letters stamped therewith should pass -free. A periodical idurn should be raado from every office of the number of letters thus stamped, and a cer tificate tfculd be signed by the head of the department, that all these letters were boui fide oa public business. To guard- against m improper use of tho stamp, the head of iho department shoald retain it in bis own custody, and it should be used only in his presence, or by his cxpres order It might also bo fitted with an indi cator, which wonld shotv tho frequency of its use, aud would thus detect Fny unauthorized interference with it.' The report on the whole is a useful and practical document, based upon an immense quantity of evidence; but is thought that the laboui'3 of tho Commission, as is too often tho case with sush labours, will not produce much benefieial results.
The Rifle Euti1.— Ihe Colonial Architect has invited tendew for. heightening the rifle butt upon the South Park Lands by ten feet, and for making other additions and repairs. Thi3 appears to be a concession to tho loudly expressed opinion of residents and passers-by that the butt, as it at present stands, forms an insufficient protection from the bullets daily fired against it by the volunteer riflemen. Evrn Speaking.— The taste for slander, common in all ranks of people, whether to gratify s little ungenerous resentment — whether oftener out of a principle of levelling front a narrowness and poverty ot soul eter impatient of merit and superisrity in others— whether from a mean ambition or an insatiate lust of being witty— a talent in which ill-nature and m jlice are no ingredients— or lastly from a natural cruelty of dispo sition abstracted from all views and consideration of self— to which ok?, or whether to all jointly, we are in debted for this contagious malady, this much is cer tain— from whatever it spring.% thegrowth and progress are as destructive as they are nnbecoming a civilized poople. To pass a hard and ill-natured reflection upon an undesigning action ; to invent, or what is equally bad, to propagate a vexatious report without colour and grounds ; to plunder an innocent man ef his character and goodnarae— a jewel which pcrliapshaiias starved Mm self to purchase, and probably would hazard his life to pre serve; to rob him at the same time of his happiness and his peace of mind, perhaps his bread— (ho bread may bo of a virtuous family— and all this, as Solomon says of tho madman who costeth firebrands, arrows, and death, and 8ayp, 'Aral not in sport'— all this ontof wantonnessond oftener out of woise motives, the wliolo appears such n complication of badness as requires no warictU of words or fancy to aggravate it. Pride, treachery, envy, hypo crisy, malice, cruelty, and self-love may have beoa said in one shape or nuother to Lave occasioned all the frauds and mischiefs that luve ever happened in the world, bat the cbaucc8 against tlic coincidence of them all in one per36ii are so m\uy that oiie wonld have supposed the character of a cominun slanderer as rare a production in nature ob that of a great genius, which seldom happens more than once in an ace.
The Late Race AccrDEirr. — Tho young man, Thomas Reevcp, who teas one of the riders thrown off his horse on Saturday, the 7th inst, at the The barton Race.', died on Tuesday afternoon trom the effects of cho fall, which, though not at first likely to provo fatal, Eeems to have been of a more Berinus nature than w&s apprehended, as the result bos shonn. It appears that for tho Hurry-Sknrry, in which tho deceased had been engaged, a person named Mason promised him £1 if he won the race. This inducement perhaps added to tho excitement of the race, and may have taken tho poor boy off his guard, as ho was generally a very good rider. South Australian Mining Association. — An extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders of this Association was held on Tuesday, at the office, in Rundle-street, for tho election of a Director, in place of Mr. William Peacock, disqualified from having been absent from the province more than six months. Mr. Peacock having recently returned to the colony was re elected. AppEANim. JlrNiNG CoMPAnr. — A meet ing of the shareholders In the above Company was held at the Globe Inn, Bundle-street, on Monday, 9th inst, for the election of Directors and the consideration of the draft deed of settlement. The following gentlemen were elected Directors, under clause 3, Act 25 of 1855-66: ? Messrs, A. Hallett, S. Davenport, J. C. Bsord, W. H. Formby, E. M. Bagot. The various clauses of the deed of settlement were considered and agreed upon, when th; meeting separated. Adelaide Wateewokks.— We direct at tention to an advertisement in another column offering £20 reward for the discovery of tho person who, on tho 8th instant, injured a portion of the new works. We tru3t that tho offender will be caught and properly dealt with. KePBESENTATION OF NOABLTJNGA.— A cor respondent says:— '* A meeting was held at the Horse* shoe on Monday night, when it vtn said that Mr. Hanson (Attorney-Ueneral) and Mr. D. Sutherland would bo prepoEed as members at tbe coming election.' The Channel Fleet in the Stoeh. — Tho following enthusiastic account of the means adopted by Admiral Elliott to get the Channel Fleet out of danger during tbe groat storm 13 from the London Examiner: — ' At tho hst great naval review, on a beau tiful spring day, and with a gentle breeze from the cast, it was not thought prudent to give tbe signal for making sail, fine as tha eileut would have been, because it «ras apprehended that there woul-1 have been some awkward miscarriages in handling and tne keeping of distances. In tho fierce storm . of the 25th and 26th ult. the Channel Fleet, under Ad miral Elliott, did what 110 fleet, we believe, ever did before— it exercised. The gale caught it about the Land's End. It stood fur the Eddystone, and when thero might have borne up for Plymouth Sound, but instead of seeking Bheller the Admiral signalled to wear ship and stand oul to sea to the southward; and this was done, the great fchips threading their way amongst a throng of fishing smacks with their trawls down, and eventually the fleet went into Portland without a casualty of tho slightest kind, without carrying away a spar, sail, or ropeyarn. This is a nautical exploit which shows tbat nothiug has been lost in seamanship by tbe introduction or steam. For a whole fleet to have worn in one of the fiercest gales that ever scourged onr sea?, without loosing a stick or any mischance, is a perfect marvel. And afterwards, in tho darkness and storm, the ship3 sailed in order, wore at the samo time by signal, nnd kept their relative positions. There is not another fleet in Ihe worlj that could have psrformed this feat. It would bo highly interesting to have an account of tbe pjiformanee of every ship in the fleet. Sneh a battle with and victory ovcratempsst is as worthy of particular detail as an engagement with sn enemy, and indeed an engagement vtith an enemy it ?was. At the very same time indeed that tie Channel Fleet was exercising, the Great Eastern was tumbling and tOBsingnboutinjeopardy in Holjfhead Haibonr, and the unfortunate Boyal Charter breaking up a rew miles off. But wonders may ba done with well-iouud, well-manned, and above all well-handled ahips with good sea room.'
The Inflxtexce of a Good Woman. — I sometimes think the influenco of a good woman greater than that of a good man. There are so many avenues to the human heart left open to her gentle ap proach which would be instantly burred up at the sound of rougher footstep ?. One may tell anything to a good woman. In her presence pride sleep3 or is dis armed. The old child-feeling comes back upon the world-weary man, and he knows not why he has re poied the unsought confidence which has so lightened his heart. Why he goes forth again ashamed that one so feeble is so much mightier; The world-weary man looks on with wonder, reverencing, yet not compre hending, now can he who faces with folded arms and defiant altitude comprehend the twinicR love-clasp and satisfied heart-rest which cames only of love ? woman is not too proud to take what she so much needs. Well may her glance, her touch, tho rustle of her garments even, have power to soothe and bless ; well may the soft touch of such upon brows knotted with the world s strife bring coolness and p ace. Oh, woman with your arms akimbo, leave it to profane Dell ahs to hold Samson by shearing hi* locks! Be strong-minded as you will, if only you be puro aud gentle-hearted. Equalities of Hj.rriNESs.-It is fortu
artemmon0^ iecfof human strife and commotion. PTh6 snblimo ] ° ,3 bo appropriated; it is and ever must be ?ree ?o aUC^ar cannot hide the moon with ablanket, nor shut out tho glories of the sun. The starry snlen doSr7of the celestial canopy and the changeful land scape of the ever-moving clouds can never be enclosed. Onr choicest amusements are of a similar universal ?haracter, and learning and science, or the richest and nest polished society, enjoy few or no prescriptive; igbts. ♦