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Victorian Appointments

From 'The Dictionary of Daily Wants' - 1858-1859

APPOINTMENTS UNDER GOVERNMENT are certain employments connected with the public revenue or administration of the country. In the various departments coming under the above denomination there are between fifteen and twenty thousand persons employed in all, whose salaries are regulated by the department in which they are placed, and the position that they occupy. Government situations possess peculiar advantages which are denied to any other occupation. In the first place, the duties are light and the hours are short; in the second place, the salaries are in the majority of cases sufficient to enable a man to maintain himself and his family in comfort and respectability; and, in the third place, the situations are permanent so long as a man conducts himself properly. On the other hand, there are some objections to be urged against Government situations, which materially detract from the charms they appear to possess at first sight. The chief of these is monotony; for when once a person is appointed to any particular department, he is seldom or ever removed into another; so that day after day, and year after year, he is continually engaged in the same dull unvarying routine of duty. Nor has a man an opportunity of achieving an independent position. It is true that he is gradually promoted through the various grades of his department, but to this there is a limit at last; and the utmost point which he reaches is that of being a well paid servant. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, however, Government situations are greedily coveted, and the number of appointments are totally inadequate to the number of applications. The patronage of Government situations is vested in the Ministers of the Crown, and is by them distributed amongst those Members of Parliament who support the Ministry by their votes. Unless a person, therefore, is acquainted with some Member of Parliament on the Ministerial side, it is in vain for him to hope to succeed in obtaining a Government situation; nor does the bare knowledge of such a person, or the mere application to him, ensure a favourable issue. On the contrary, a Member of Parliament is so beset with these applications, and is bound as it were to return an encouraging answer to all, when, in many instances, he well knows that it will be utterly impossible for him to grant the request that is being made. It is not sufficient, therefore, to simply make the request and there let the matter rest, but it is absolutely necessary that from time to tune, and at frequent intervals, the Member should be constantly reminded of his promise, until at length (perhaps with a view of escaping further importunity) the favour is granted. With regard to patronage, a new order of things has been recently established, by which certain Government appointments are supposed to be bestowed by public competition. This, however, is only a nominal concession producing no result, and the patronage is in reality administered under precisely the same system that it ever was.

Before a person enters upon the duties of a Government situation, he has to undergo a term of probation to fit him for his appointment. He is accordingly placed under certain persons in the department to which he is about to be appointed, and is instructed by them in the various branches of the duties that will be required of him. He then undergoes an examination upon these points, which, if passed satisfactorily, qualifies hin for his post. In addition to this initiation into official duty, the candidate is also examined in various branches of elementary, knowledge; such as writing, arithmetic, history, geography, bookkeeping, composition, French and Latin translation, and other acquisitions, according to the exigencies of the department.

Candidates for Government situations are only eligible for admission at certain ages, and, generally speaking, the'condition is, that they shall not be less than sixteen or older than twenty-five. The salaries given in Government offices, although small at the outset, are augmented periodically; so that a youth beginning with 60 a year at sixteen may be in receipt of 250 before he is five-and-twenty. In many of the public offices the privilege is allowed of adding to the salary by working after office hours; and as this interval is generally from ten till four, or nine till three, a few hours extra labour may be performed without overtaxing the mental or bodily energies. Having thus stated the necessary requirements for a Government situation, we append the following list of the principal Governmental departments:-

The Admiralty is devoted to the administration of naval affairs, and is composed as follows:

 Naval Department, 39 clerks; salaries, 100 to 1000.
 Accountant-General, 194 clerks; salaries, 90 to 800.
 Seamen's Register, 35 clerks; salaries, 90 to 500.
 Dockyards, 113 clerks; salaries, 80 to 450.
 Somerset House, 40 clerks; salaries, 70 to 200.

In addition to these there are other minor branches, each employing from six to twenty clerks, with salaries ranging from 80 to 400.

Audit Office. The duties of this office consist in examining the public accounts; it employs a staff of 92 examiners and inspectors, with salaries varying from 90 to 400.

Custom House. This branch of the service is considered one of the best, both on account of its varied employments, and for the value of its appointments. The duties consist of the examination of imports and exports, taking the accounts of and levying the duties thereon. The Custom House may be primarily divided into two classes - the first comprising officers of various grades, who are charged with the actual examination of merchandise for import and export; and the second class consisting of clerks, who prepare and examine the accounts and other documents belonging to their respective departments. The first class is divided as follows:- Weighers, whose duty it is to assist the landing waiters in unpacking, opening, weighing, &c.; salaries from 25 to 35 per annum, with half-a-crown a day when employed. Lockers, to attend to the receipt and delivery of the goods from the warehouses; salaries from 100 to 120 per annum. Landing Waiters and Surveyors, to take an account of goods landed from all wessels arriving from foreign countries;salaries, 160 to 600. Gangers, to measure the contents of casks containing wine, spirits, oil, .and other liquids; salariea, 125 to 500. Tide Waiters, to remmain on board ships from the time of their arrival until their departure, in order to prevent smuggling, and to take an account of all drawbback goods received on board; salaries from 55 to 75 a year, with 1s. per day when employed.

> More Victorian Appointments including the Inland Revenue, Post Office, Bank of England and East India House.

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