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for the conduct of affairs in a deliberative assembly and in a cabinet, they, or at least one of them (Sir Thomas Munro), would probably have attained to a more steadily commanding station amongst European politicians than any of their contemporary countrymen have reached, or reaching, have long continued to occupy.
The causes of the superiority of artillery and engineer officers are obvious. They have to pass severe examinations in certain branches of knowledge before they can obtain their commissions; and their subsequent eminence in their profession depends upon scientific acquirements, to be mastered at the same time that they are mixing with the world and managing their relations with those whom they command and with those by whom they are commanded.
With regard to mercantile training as conducive to statesmanship, it should hardly, I think, be much esteemed, except in a country where special education to politics being un
happily unknown, an education in business of any kind may be considered an advantage. It is often supposed that a person brought up in commerce will have some peculiar qualifications for discharging the office of minister for affairs of trade. He may perhaps inspire more confidence in mercantile people, and in so far his previous connection with commerce may be an advantage to himself, and (if he be an efficient minister) to the public. But this confidence should not in reason result from that connection. The knowledge and faculties required for negotiating and legislating on commercial subjects, have in truth hardly any thing in common with those required for conducting a particular commercial business. There is a good deal of error current upon this head. When any law is projected for the regulation of commerce, some set of merchants will commonly take alarm; and if they are assured that the law will not hurt them, they will ask - are
they not likely to know their own business best? What should be the answer of a statesman? "Surely, gentlemen, each of us knows "his own business best; and your business is "to trade, and mine is to legislate."
Of law-bred statesmen (if they have had practice at the bar) the peculiar merit is a more strenuous' application of their minds to business than is often to be found in others. But they labour under no light counterpoise of peculiar demerit. It is a truth, though it may seem at first sight like a paradox, that in the affairs of life the reason may pervert the judgment. The straightforward view of things may be lost by considering them too closely and too curiously. When a naturally acute faculty of reasoning has had that high cultivation which the study and practice of the law affords, the wisdom of political, as well as of common life, will be to know how to lay it aside, and on proper occasions to arrive at conclusions by a
grasp; substituting for a chain of arguments that almost unconscious process by which persons of strong natural understanding get right upon questions of common life, however in the art of reasoning unexercised.
The fault of a law-bred mind lies commonly in seeing too much of a question, not seeing its parts in their due proportions, and not knowing how much of material to throw overboard in order to bring a subject within the compass of human judgment. In large matters largely entertained, the symmetry and perspective in which they should be presented to the judgment requires that some considerations should be as if unseen by reason of their smallness, and that some distant bearings should dwindle into nothing. A lawyer will frequently be found busy in much pinching of a case and no embracing of it—in routing and tearing up the soil to get at a grain of the subject ; — in short, he will often aim at a degree of complete