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CHAP. VII.

ON THE DUTIES OF THE EXECUTIVE OFFI

CERS OF GOVERNMENT.

THE appellation of Executive Officers may be given to all persons poffeffed of offices instituted for the national service, and paid out of the national purse. These public functionaries are of various professions, and of various ranks. Our concern in the present chapter is with those who, occupying the highest posts in the civil department of the State, may be regarded as the depositaries, under the Crown, of the political power of Government.

As it is not my design to enter into a detail of the circumstances which discriminate the authority, jurisdi&tion and employment of one Member of the Cabinet from those of another; the confusion which would attend the mention of several persons at once will apparently be best avoided by couching the subsequent observations in general terms. Though some of these observations may have particular refe

fervations

, rence to a Prime Minister, they will commonly be applicable to his colleagues ; and the application will be too obvious to require to be pointedly made or illustrated.

The motives and views which should guide the determination of a conscientious man, with respect to accepting an executive employment, with respect to the performance of its duties, and with respect to resigning it, will be succeffively considered.

I. A good man, who has an official situation in prospect, will diligently occupy himself in the preparatory cultivation and improvement of his understanding, principles, and dispofitions. He will exert himself to acquire by ftudy, by meditation, by an observance of men and manners, that enlargement of his intellectual powers and capacities, that knowledge and experience, that presence of mind, those habits and virtues, of which he is likely to stand in need. He will be guided in his pursuits by an especial regard to the functions of

the

the post which more particularly opens to his view; and the higher that post is, the more will he extend his attention beyond its imme, diate limits; the more industriously will he strive to qualify himself to turn to the account of the Public the influence which it

may

afford him over other departments of the States and the more closely will he observe at home the operation of those general causes which have contributed in other times, and in other countries, to the growth cr to the decline of the morals and the strength of Empires.

man will

The public welfare is the object of official institutions. It is an object to which a good

pay

stedfast attention in determining the course which he should adopt, when pro. motion throws open

her

gates before him. He will not accept an office, unless he is persuaded that in point of talents, of information, of diligence, of health, he is competent to fulfil the duties of it to the fatisfaction and benefit of his country. In making the estimate, he will be ware of over-rating the amount or misconceiving the nature of his own abilities; and of af. fixing an undue value to wealth, power, ho- . VOL. 1.

a

nours,

nours, and reputation. He will also take into the account the temptations by which he must expect to be assailed ; and the strength which they may derive from the peculiarities of his own circumstances, temper, and dispositions. And above all things he will scrupulously try himself in the balance of integrity, that he may discern whether he possesses that upright fimplicity and stedfast firmness of mind, which may enable him to resist the allurements of personal emolument; to keep himself disentangled from the snares of party ; and to refuse improper applications presuming on private friendship and affection, and aided by the importunity of his colleagues in power. He will also attend to the moral effects which his elevation may appear likely to produce on his family. He will not accept an office to the exclusion of any other person, by whose appointment he believes that the public interest would be more essentially promoted than by

Not that he would necessarily be criminal in undertaking the employment, even though he should know that another man more: capable of discharging its duties would probably be advanced to it, were it not pre-occupied.

He

his own.

He would unquestionably be bound in conscience to point him out.

But Ministers are frequently obliged to divide the several offices of Government among themselves, according to the principle on which the Manager of a Theatre cafts the parts in a Drama. At any rate a character is not to be consigned to an actor who is not able to support it; yet it is not always to be committed to the person who is most qualified for the task. His services in that part may possibly be well supplied by an inferior performer ; but they may be indispensably requisite in another, where no substitute can be found.

A good man, though satisfied of his own competence faithfully to discharge the duties of the post which is offered to him, will not refolve to accept it, until he has maturely weighed the character and political views both of the Sovereign whom he is to serve, and of the public men with whom he shall have to co-operate. By the accession of his strength, be it less or more, a bad Administration may have the term of its continuance prolonged ; or a good one may be established to the exclusion

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