Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

dates of any correspondence which may have previously taken place upon the subject in question, and a précis of such correspondence.

3d. A minister would do well to have placarded in his ante-chamber a notice in the

following or some similar form: "Owing to "the many inconveniences which have arisen "to the public from oral communications being "misunderstood or incorrectly remembered, "A. B. thinks it his duty to apprise those who may do him the honour to attend him upon "business, that he will in no case hold himself, "his colleagues, or his successors, bound by "words spoken, unless when they shall have "been subsequently reduced to writing and "authenticated in that form."

4th. I would suggest a matter of management in the disposition of the furniture in a minister's room, which may appear at first sight to be more trifling than it is in reality. The furniture should be so arranged as that the

66

chair which is placed for a stranger, without being ungraciously distant from the minister, should be as near as may be to the door. Timid and embarrassed men will sit as if they were rooted to the spot, when they are conscious that they have to traverse the length of a room in their retreat. And in every case an interview will find a more easy and pleasing termination, when the door is at hand as the last words are spoken. These are not frivolous considerations where civility is the business to be transacted.

CHAPTER IX.

CONCERNING THE CONSCIENCE OF A STATESMAN.

THE Conscience of a statesman should be rather a strong conscience than a tender conscience. For a conscience of more tenderness than strength will be liable in public life to be perverted in two ways:-1st. By reflecting responsibilities disproportionately to their magnitude, and missing of the large responsibilities whilst it is occupied with the small. 2d. By losing in a too lively apprehension of the responsibilities of action, the sense of responsibility for inaction.

No doubt the most perfect conscience would be that which should have all strength in its

tenderness, all tenderness in its strength; and be equally adapted to public and private occasions. But I speak of the consciences of men as they exist with their imperfect capacities, bearing in mind the truth "ut multæ virtutes "in vitia degenerant, et quod magis est, sæpe ❝ videas eosdem affectus, pro temporum sorte, 66 nunc virtutes esse, nunc vitia.”* And these dilemmas of virtue duly considered, it will be found to be better for the public interests that a statesman should have some hardihood, than much weak sensibility of conscience.

1st. As to the mismeasurements of a conscience tender to weakness. Take the case of a sentence of death to be executed or remitted, according to the decision to be adopted by a statesman under the direction of this kind of conscience. The responsibility as regards the criminal and the responsibility as regards the

* J. Barclaii Argenis.

public, will each of them lie as a serious burthen on a sore back. But the former of them will, with such a conscience, have an undue preponderance. To decide erroneously that a man had better die, will appear a worse thing than to decide more erroneously that he had better live; and human guilt and misery, which are to be the consequence of the error miscalled merciful, will appear of less account than human life; though to a strong conscience and a just judgment mere human life would be of less account, human innocence and happiness of more. Moreover whilst this question of an individual's life or death swings backwards and forwards in the conscience of the statesman, it probably keeps off from his conscience other questions, which, though not of the same immediate and tangible character, may nevertheless involve in their consequences numerous lives and deaths, numerous crimes and punishments. So difficult is it, in situations where the duties

« AnkstesnisTęsti »