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“ found in practice to be also the best moral test which can be devised."
Although the examinations conducted by this Commission are not calculated or intended to call forth the display of such a superiority in science and literature as may be fairly expected to be shown in the examinations which have been instituted for the Civil Service in India, yet the observations we have cited apply in a considerable degree to those who show superiority in acquirements, and industry, in the competitions under our superintendence; and we think that we have a right to infer that such superiority implies, to some extent at least, the like superiority in some moral qualities, such as self-denial, regularity, perseverance, and energy. We admit, nevertheless, that there are other moral qualities, such as “judgment,”, “discretion,” “moral courage," "stability
" " of will and purpose,
“ fidelity,” respecting which a certain conclusion cannot thus be drawn, and which are accordingly omitted from the comparison.
Of these, however, it may be stated,
1st. That it is from the conduct of individuals, and from that only, that this class of qualities can be shown with sufficient certainty to be relied on either positively or as grounds for preference of one candidate over another; and that having regard to the period of life at which
persons are appointed to junior situations in the Civil Service, it can rarely occur that previous conduct will afford proofs of the existence of these qualities in a candidate.
2d. That the previous conduct and disposition of candidates, unless in exceptional and rare cases, is very imperfectly known to the head of the department or other authority who has the duty of making the appointment, but he is obliged to derive his information from testimony, always partial and seldom to be relied on, (this is especially true as regards the large class of appointments dependent on the Treasury,) and that it is impossible to found on such information any comparative estimate of the moral excellences of the candidates.
The objection, therefore, to the competitive system, upon the ground that it does not take into account the moral qualities, appears to amount to this,
That having the means of fairly testing the intellectual qualities and acquirements of candidates we ought to abandon the comparison, because it does not include all the moral qualities, notwithstanding there is no satisfactory mode of forming a correct estimate or comparison of the latter; or, in other words
That because we cannot compare all the moral qualities we ought not to give comparative weight to the intellectual qualities and acquirements.
We are content to leave the question in this position. We must not, however, omit to point out that we regard as necessarily complementary to the system of competitive examination the period of six months' probation, and the rule of promotion from class to class by merit.
Assuming that proper use is made of the period of probation, if a deficiency in the moral qualities of any candidate should develope itself, such deficiency, as well as practical incompetence, may form a ground for refusing to confirm the appointment; and, on the other hand, any peculiar excellence in any of the moral qualities which are important in the Public Service, which may distinguish the candidate, will not fail to become manifest in his future career, and may be taken into just account in after promotion.
Whilst adverting to the period of probation, we think it our duty to state that we are so sensible of the value of this security against the definitive appointment of unfit persons to the Public Service, that, notwithstanding the reluctance which will always be felt by the head of an office in deciding on the unfitness of a candidate after he has been six months in employment,-notwithstanding also, that refusals to confirm after probation may possibly imply some errors in our decision, we, nevertheless, earnestly hope that this power may be exercised with justice and firmness whenever the occasion may call for it.
In stating and discussing the above objections, we have advisedly omitted one of a totally different character, namely, that the disposal of appointments in the Civil Service, by means of competitive examination, may have an injurious political effect.
We think, that it would be beyond our province to attempt to enter upon the considerations which are incidental to this view of the subject, or to express any opinion with regard to the exercise of patronage in a political sense. For the like reason we have abstained
from arguments in favour of competitive examinations derived from their indirect but salutary effects in stimulating improvement in the education of the various classes from which candidates are supplied.
We have limited ourselves to the assumption that the object which it is desirable to attain is to appoint to junior situations in the Civil Service those who are likely to make the best public servants; and this assumption is the foundation of the observations which we have ventured to make upon this important subject.
All which we humbly submit to Your Majesty's most gracious consideration.
Witness our hands and seals, this Twenty-fifth day
of February, One thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight.
(L.S.) JOHN GEORGE SHAW LEFEVRE. (LS.)