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pense, will either get wrong, or get right more tardily by means of after-thought and correction. To hold the judgment free upon specific points in a question, until the mind have taken a general estimate of the proportions and relations of its several parts, and have become somewhat familiarised to the hypothetical aspects of it, is the indecisiveness of reason and wisdom. This is the couchant attitude of the mind, which best prepares it to secure its prey; or (to transfer the metaphor) it is the wheeling survey which precedes the stoop. But when the time comes to stoop or to pounce, the energy ought to be in proportion to the previous abstinence. Thus the stages in the consideration and decision of a question, as in the adopting and pursuing a course of action, ought to be marked by more of patience and circumspection at the beginning, more of energy towards the end. "Prima Argo "committenda sunt; extrema Briareo." Some
statesmen have been known to reverse this
Indecisiveness will be cæteris paribus most pernicious in affairs which require secrecy ;1st. Because the greatest aid to secrecy is celerity; 2d. Because the undecided man, seeking after various counsel, necessarily multiplies confidences.
The pretext for indecisiveness is commonly mature deliberation; but in reality indecisive men occupy themselves less in deliberation than others; for to him who fears to decide, deliberation (which has a foretaste of that fear) soon becomes intolerably irksome, and the mind escapes from the anxiety of it into alien themes. Or if that seems too open a dereliction of its task, it gives itself to inventing reasons of postponement; and the man who has confirmed habits of indecisiveness will come in time to look upon postponement as the first object in all cases, and wherever it seems to be prac
ticable, will bend all his faculties to accomplish it. With the same eagerness with which others seize opportunities of action, will these men seize upon pretexts for foregoing them; not having before their eyes the censure pronounced by the philosopher of Malmesbury, “After men have been in deliber
who says, "ation till the time of action approach, if it be "not then manifest what is best to be done, "'t is a sign the difference of motives the one way and the other is not great: therefore "not to resolve then, is to lose the occasion "by weighing of trifles; which is pusillanimity."*
*Leviathan, part i. chap. ii.
In this country an establishment of this kind is commonly formed as follows:- 1st. There are one or more political and parliamentary officers subordinate to the minister, who come and go with their principals or with the government to which they belong, but have not seats in the cabinet. They go by the name of Under Secretaries of State in the three Secretaries of State's offices, Vice-President of the
Board of Trade, Secretaries and junior Lords or junior Commissioners at the Board of Treasury, the Board of Admiralty, and the Board of Control. 2d. There is an officer of similar rank, who is not in parliament and holds his office by a more permanent tenure, without reference to changes of ministry. 3d. There is the minister's private secretary, who of course comes and goes with his principal, whether the change extends to the government or not. 4th. There are some twenty clerks more or less, also permanent, divided into three or four grades of subordination.
As any essential reform of the executive government must consist in a reform of these establishments, I will endeavour to explain what seems to be the theory of them, what are their merits in practice, and what are the means of amending them.
The system seems to assume that a minister who is charged with a particular branch of