HC Deb 16 May 1865 vol 179 cc393-420

said, he rose to call attention to the existing Regulations for the Examination of Candidates for the Civil Service in India, and to move an Address for Copy of all Correspondence on the subject between the India Office and the Civil Service Commissioners which has not yet been laid before Parliament. The hon. Member said it was now about ten years since the system of competitive examination for the Indian Civil Service had been inaugurated—chiefly on the strength of a report of the late Lord Macaulay—and it had continued to prevail since with out material alteration. He did not, there fore, intend to go into the various questions which surrounded this subject, or to discuss the question, which had sometimes been raised, whether it was or was not an improvement on the system which it displaced. The only question he wished to put before the House was simply whether the present system was so constructed as to insure the best possible men for the Indian Civil Service, and at the same time not to interfere with the best interests of English education. The system was set forth in the Regulations now in force. The fourth Regulation laid down that the subjects in which the examination should be conducted should be not only English language, composition, literature, and history, including that of the laws and constitution, but also the language, literature, and history of Greece, Rome, France, Germany, and Italy; mathematics, pure and mixed; chemistry, electricity, and magnetism; natural history, geology, and mineralogy; moral philosophy, Sanscrit, and Arabic. It would probably be admitted that the range of subjects was so vast that it was impossible for one man to deal with them. He was aware that any one who ventured to question the verbal inspiration of this Report of Lord Macaulay's would be looked upon as an educational Colenso; but still he thought it would be better that each candidate should be limited to three or four subjects which he might select for his examination. He would pro pose this change first of all in the interests of the Examiners—though he did not presume to pry into the mystery of marks—who would then be able to concentrate their attention on a more limited set of subjects, and better to test the qualities of the young men who were submitted to them. He also desired to make this change in the interests of the public service, and more particularly of the education of Eng land. Now, it was a remarkable fact that since this system had been established the proportion of candidates from Oxford and Cambridge had gradually diminished. This was manifestly a circumstance which should excite some attention and should be regarded with some regret. He found that Mr. Latham, Fellow and Tutor of Trinity Hall, who had written an able pamphlet on the subject, gave the statistics of the present system, as affecting the Universities, in these terms— The following figures show the proportion of candidates from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, taken together, to the whole number of those selected:—In 1855, 70 per cent furnished by Oxford and Cambridge; in 1856, 55 per cent; in 1857, 50 per cent; in 1858, 60 per cent; in 1859, 55 per cent; in 1860, 41.25 per cent; in 1861, 43.75 per cent; in 1862, 30.2 per cent; in 1863, 25 per cent. In 1864 the places of education of selected candidates were not given in the list published. The Head Master of one of our public schools wrote as follows:— This school of 500 boys draws from just those strata in society which naturally supply candidates for the East India Company's service. Moreover, a great number of our boys are at this moment anxious to go to India; quite one third of my highest form of 30—fellows who have worked their way up the school, and nearly every one of whom will get scholarships at the University; nearly every one of them good at games, manly, and hardworking; would give anything to go, but, under the present system, they have no chance, or next to none. They must leave us to insure success, at sixteen or seventeen, just when school life is beginning to be most valuable; give up all idea of education in a good sense, and try for two or three years to cram as large a field of subjects as possible. If they do this, experience shows me that those who have good or fair recep- tive powers will certainly succeed; if not, very able and hard-working fellows will as certainly fail. This, it might be said, is our fault, because we will not extend and widen our teaching, or because we do not teach well enough. To this I can only say that to our boys who are thinking of India we teach, or attempt to teach, the following subjects:—Greek, Latin, modern and ancient history, French, English literature, geology, and mineralogy. We allow them to give to English and French and one science four or five lessons a week which would otherwise go to classics. But this is not nearly enough, and even this distracts and injures them, and we feel that unless some change is made we must abandon the attempt to help our boys to secure this the most important prize that has been thrown open to the middle classes. The writer whose opinons he had just quoted, alluding especially to the examinations in English literature, spoke thus— High marks were got by candidates who never read any English author except a manual, nor any history except a half-crown abridgment. We cannot teach in this way. Mr. Latham, speaking of the examinations in Oriental languages, especially Arabic, said— The practical effect of the existence of this subject is to load men with another grammar and alphabet which they mean to carry for three months and forget as soon as possible. It in creases the great vice of the examination—namely, that it makes a man's mind like a town that has been abandoned while building, which was to have contained all sorts of grand edifices, but in which hardly a house has reached the first floor. Now, even if it were determined to retain on the list all the present subjects of examination, he (Mr. Arthur Mills) would at all events venture to suggest that each candidate should be limited to three or four, with an unrestricted power of selection, so that all candidates, whether they came from Scotland or Ireland, or from our English universities, or public schools, should have the option of submitting themselves to a test of their own choice, and that the present risks of curious interferences with their educational course might be avoided. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Government. He thought they incurred a serious responsibility with respect to the successful candidates during the time which they spent in this country after passing an examination, and before being sent to India. As those young men were kept in London, and had no particular motive for hard work, it would be very desirable to have some sort of direct supervision over them. If the interval between the first and final examinations was to be two years, and no institution similar to Haileybury was to be re- established, this question became the more serious. He would repeat that the only object he had in view was to obtain the best servants they could get for the Indian Civil Service and at the same time to do nothing to deteriorate the cause of education in England.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of all Correspondence relative to the existing Regulations for the Examination of Candidates for the Civil Service in India, between the India Office and the Civil Service Commissioners, which has not yet been laid before Parliament."—(Mr. Arthur Mills.)


said, that he had on different occasions brought under the notice of the House the question of the Civil Service Examinations, not in reference to India only, but in connection with the administration of the Empire generally. For the last two or three years, however, he had not taken an active part in reference to the question, as he thought it would be better to wait and see how the system of Civil Service Examinations worked, and that they might have an opportunity of judging what were likely to be its results before he offered any comments upon it. But now that one important branch of the question had been brought before the House he might ask whether the information from India showed that the result had been satisfactory. He was sorry to say that the opinion of the public in India was that though the men lately appointed possessed great ability and information, they were deficient in many qualities which were absolutely necessary to form good officers and good men of business. His hon. Friend had touched upon the feeling displayed, which almost amounted to prejudice, throughout the papers presented to the House against University education, so far as the Civil Service was concerned; and it was certain that the number of University men appointed to that service was less than formerly. This change, too, had taken place when the standard of education in the Universities had been very much raised. He was sorry to find this was the case, as he believed that, independent of the learning which it insured, the mental discipline of the University gave that tone to the character of the men which was an esential quality in those filling responsible situations, and which could not be tested by any examination whatever. In support of his allegation as to the feeling against University education, he read the following Extract from the Civil Service Report of 1864:— It is not improbable that they will in some cases be reluctant to give up the pursuit of University distinction; but if well advised they will at once lay aside other subjects, in order that they may devote themselves the more assiduously to those in which they will be examined. It should be distinctly understood that in the further examination the requirements of Universities or Colleges will not be regarded as affording an excuse for I imperfect preparation. Each candidate in choosing his place of residence for the year should carefully consider what facilities will be afforded him for the prosecution of his studies. Surely, the whole tendency of that passage was to deprecate University education; and that, in his opinion, was to inflict great harm upon the public service. The officers in the Indian Civil Service would doubtless tell them that those young men who bad been lately appointed were men of considerable information, but he was afraid they did not possess those powers which fitted them to command and win the respect of others. There was a point connected with the ser vice of India which deserved the most careful consideration. It bad been frequently and truly stated that the service would greatly benefit if the sons of those who had long and faithfully served the country could be also received into the public service. Now, it was an undoubted fact that, in 1863, out of 189 appointments, seven only had fallen under the competitive system to the sons of officers in the army or navy or the Civil Service. It was no doubt desirable that the most competent persons should be selected for those appointments; but it was at the same time a hard thing for old public officers that no preference should be given to their children; and he believed it was also a thing detrimental to the public service. There was also, lie thought, some reason to complain of the practice at present adopted, of giving no advantage in one year to the best of the candidates who had failed in the year preceding, and establishing an entirely new examination. He should further say that he thought the questions put to the candidates were some times ridiculously abstruse. He was anxious not to throw ridicule upon the examinations, but he was afraid their standard was fixed too high. For instance, what necessity was there to ask the man who was going out to India the following questions:— Explain the titles—Iconoclastes, Colasterion, Tetrachordon, Smectymnuus, Histriomastix, Annus Mirabilis. What was Pope's opinion of Dry-den as a poet? Quote passages in support of your answer. Name the authors of the following works, and arrange them in order according to the date of their death:—Religio Medici; Utopia; The Battle of the Books; The Thistle and the Rose; Rasselas; The Davideis; The Essays of Elia; Madoc; The Rejected Addresses; and the plays Don Sebastian, Revenge, Cato, The Rehearsal." Again, the students were required to answer three of the following five questions:— Give an account of the theory of placentation in plants, mentioning any cases which are anomalous. Describe the structure and homologies of the great lateral muscular masses of fishes, and explain the mode of progression of fishes. De scribe the structure of the eye in one of the following animals—birds, snails, or spiders. State the nature of the food, and trace the process of ingestion and assimilation in one of the following cases—rhizopod, whelk, toad, snipe. What is the doctrine of specific centres of organic life? State the leading arguments on either side. He did not cite these examples to cast ridicule upon the examinations, and still less upon the Examiners, who were un doubtedly men of the highest ability and accomplishments; but he thought that it would be much better that they should abstain from putting questions of this kind, which could only mislead the attention or misdirect the energies of candidates, and which could have no possible connection with the qualities required in a candidate for the public service of India. He would not read any more of these questions, be cause he was anxious that the system should be fairly tested. He desired again to pay his tribute of respect to those who had conducted these arduous examinations, but as the matter was before the House he could not abstain from saying that he thought it was necessary that the whole subject should be reviewed, and that it was most desirable that a Select Committee should be appointed, which might fairly consider what was the effect of these examinations. He would refer to only one case to show how extraordinarily the sys tem worked. It had been commonly re ported—he had no authentic information upon the subject—it had been commonly reported that a gentleman was appointed to an office in a great public Department, having passed what was considered an excellent examination, who, after a short time, was found to be perfectly incompetent to discharge the duties of his post. In answer to questions which were asked of him by the Examiners, he called the Virgin Mary vir humanitatis; and translated the following sentence:— Money was brought by a ship from New Zealand for one of the bankers of the town, and it had to be disinfected by being placed on a brazier," thus—" L'argent qu' ils apportent pour an de nos banquiers a étémis sur un chauderon." Speaking of a period of pestilence at Am sterdam, he rendered— "On craint que le mal se communique dans ces jours caniculaires," "He fears that the evil will increase by means of the canals. About the same time, another officer who had served in the Department for some time, and was a most zealous and meritorious public servant, was upon his promotion subjected to a second examination, and was rejected. It was true that he made some great blunders, but they were blunders which did not affect his efficiency in the particular branch of the public ser vice to which he was attached. For in stance, he stated that Lord Racon was the author of a treatise upon the French Revolution, and that Southey wrote a poem called The Doctor. This showed that candidates might upon literary questions fall into great errors and yet be most eligible and competent public servants. He, therefore, hoped that the Examiners would expunge from their examinations questions which could only tend to confuse and mislead candidates, and adopt such as would test their information upon subjects a know ledge of which would be required in the offices to which they sought to be appointed. In conclusion, he would only express his hope that next year a Select Committee would be appointed to consider the whole subject.


said, that this was not so much a question as to the mode of examination as to its principle, which de pended upon the formation of the scheme. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) who preceded him that the scheme for the examination of candidates for Civil Service appointments in India was of far too extensive and miscellaneous a character. The principle of the scheme ought to be to place the knowledge which was required of candidates for the Civil Service of India in harmony with the higher education of this country, including in that term, of course, both Scotland and Ireland. The existing scheme really went much beyond the general education of the higher classes. The maximum number of marks that could be obtained by the suc- cessful candidate was 7,125, of which only 1,500 were assigned to proficiency in those subjects which were taught in the great schools of this country. It might be, and he thought it was, desirable that the education in our public schools should be consider ably extended; but the Indian Civil Service must take those schools as they were; and we must not take the improvement of our system of education from the Civil Service Examiners, but the Civil Service Examiners should select the candidates who were best acquainted with the subjects which were taught in our schools. It was of great importance to the preservation of our empire in India that the classes sent out there should be a sort of offshoot of, and in friendly correspondence with, the ruling classes of this country. The House would not suspect him of inclining too much to the aristocratic classes; but no man felt more strongly than he did the importance of possessing such an empire as India, and he thought it important that the ruling class there should be in correspondence with the ruling class here. They would all think and care very much more about India if they had acquaintances, friends, or connections there; and this country, as represented by its ruling classes, would think much less, care much less, and know much less about India than it did now if those to whom its government was to be committed were to be people coining, not from our great schools, but from odd corners of the world, having no tie or connection with those whom they met in that House and elsewhere, and only recommended by a peculiar knowledge of mine ralogy or some other abstruse science. As to how the scheme should be remodelled, that was rather a question for discussion between the Civil Service Commissioners and the Examiners than for debate in that House; and he would only say that when ever during the last thirty years he had had to decide between the merits of two candidates, he had not put to them any of those cram questions which the Examiners asked—not to test the knowledge of others, but to conceal their own ignorance—but required them to construe a plain passage of Latin. A man who understood horses could form a judgment by seeing them walk; but an ignorant man could tell nothing till they galloped. The Civil Ser vice Examiners always seemed to keep the candidates on full stretch in order to try their paces. These remarks applied to the first examination—that was, the competitive examinations, the result of which was to decide who were to obtain nominations, those who obtained less than a certain number of marks being ineligible. But those who were successful in the first examination, had afterwards to pass a second, relating to subjects with which they would be more particularly concerned when they went to India, and they required a knowledge of the general principles of jurisprudence and of Indian and Mahommedan law The positions for which men had to qualify themselves were the collectorships of revenue, political appointments, and places connected with the administration of the law; this last being by far the most important. He thought the importance of political economy in the case of persons who would have to fill the position of collectors of revenue, political appointments in connection with the Government in India, or that of administrators of the law, was not so great that candidates should be required to possess a very intimate know ledge of it. Some of the greatest states men of this country—men who bad taken part in the promotion of great economic changes—had, he believed, but a very slight acquaintance with the minutiœ of that science. The great point, after all, was that young men obtaining appointments in the Civil Service in India should have a knowledge of law. That brought him to the question, what was the best place to fix upon as the residence of those candidates who had passed their first examination for the Indian Civil Service. Deeming it to be desirable that they should be as well informed as possible with respect to the institutions of their own country, he was of opinion that it was in London—in Westminster Hall and the subordinate coutts—rather than at Oxford or Cam bridge, that that information was to be acquired. No where could young men learn better the important lesson how the law should be administered than in our courts of justice; while, with the view to prevent them from being left to themselves after passing their examination, and to establish bonds of association between them, he could see no objection—save that which was based on the ground of economy—to the maintenance of some such institution as Haileybury. There was no reason, he might add, why young men after their final examination should not be placed under the superintendence of a College like King's College, with which the Civil Service Commissioners might communi- cate, and from which they might receive reports as to their conduct and industry as manifested by their assiduity in attending lectures. At present the Commissioners abstained from recommending any set of teachers above another. He thought they had carried this almost to an absurd ex tent. He considered that it would be well that these young men should be placed with persons associated with the Civil Ser vice Commissioners, and who might report on their attendance and their proficiency. It would not do to confine the privilege to King's College. It might be extended to University College also, but if the existing institutions were not available a new college should be founded. The adoption of such a course would, he felt assured, be attended with considerable advantage.


I think my lion. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. A. Mills) is entitled to our thanks for having brought this subject before the House. No one is now, I believe, opposed to the principle of competitive examination for appointments in the Civil Service of India. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), who was one of the most consistent opponents of the system, has expressed a wish that it should have a fair trial. It is, however, precisely because no one objects to a principle which we believe to be sound in itself that we ought to take all the more care that it does not suffer in popular opinion owing to mismanagement in detail. My hon. Friend behind me seems to be of opinion that the class of men seeking Indian appointments has become, socially speaking, lower than those who were formerly sent out; but I cannot gather from the information which I have obtained on the subject that that is the case. So far as I can form a judgment, I believe that the social position of those young men who go out now is pretty much what it has hitherto been; while there would appear to be a higher degree of average efficiency than before—though it is but fair to say that a certain number of those who have come in at the bottom of the list when the competition was not so severe did not reach a very high standard of efficiency. Again, it is said that these well-paid Indian places are not sufficiently valued to make the competition for them real and effectual. But the answer to that allegation is the simple fact that there have been about 450 vacancies during the last ten years, and that for these there have been about 1,300 candidates, or very nearly at the rate of three candidates for each place. It must at the same time be acknowledged that so far as Oxford and Cambridge are concerned the percentage of competitors for these appointments is considerably less than at first; nor do I think this fact is attributable to accident, because the percentage has from the commencement gone on steadily diminishing. The percentage was at first 70; it shortly after fell to 50, and it is now only a little above 25. There are, however, in my opinion, reasons for this falling off altogether independent of the character of the examination. In the first place, it is only within the last ten years that many tutorships, scholarships, and other appointments of various kinds have been open to free competition for the great mass of students at the two Universities—many of them having been previously in private patronage or at the disposal of a few persons. Those endowments draw off a great number of those who would otherwise compete for appointments in the Indian Civil Service. Then we must not leave out of sight the great tendency on the part of young men at the present day of the very class who formerly went out to India to enter into new professions, like that of civil engineering, or to go to Australia or some other colony, where they find a better climate than that of India, and a career which they prefer. We have to take into consideration, also, the enormous increase which has taken place in the wealth of the country during the last few years, and the consequent diminution of the relative, though not of the absolute, value of those Indian appointments. All these circumstances show a great change from the state of things even a few years ago. Again, there has been for some years a great dislike to go to a country where scenes of so deplorable a character have so recently taken place, and where the feeling between the Native and European population was of late notoriously bad. That feeling I believe to be fast passing away, but it must not be put out of view; hut every body must be aware that much higher emoluments than a man can obtain at home must be offered in order to induce him to leave this country to enter the Indian service. I myself have had some small experience of this fact, for I well remember—when I was Secretary of State for India—and I daresay my right hon. Friend opposite knows the case to which I refer—that a legal appointment in India worth £5,000 or £6,000 a year was declined by a member of the English Bar who not long after wards accepted a County Court Judgeship in England. These circumstances are, I think, sufficient in themselves to explain why the competition for these appointments is not greater. Again, something has been said as to the period of probation, and perhaps I may be allowed to say a word on that subject. Reference has been made to the length of the interval elapsing between the period of examination and the time at which the Civil servant goes out. This, I am afraid, is a matter of necessity. The difficulty arises in this way. If the competition is to be in subjects especially and solely Indian, then you must limit the competition altogether to those who for a long course of years have prepared themselves for that particular competition, thereby excluding all those whose education has run in the ordinary channel. On the other hand, if the examination by which the competition is decided is to he on general subjects, and if, immediately afterwards, those who succeed are sent out to India without farther preparation, they will arrive there totally ignorant of all the special subjects in which knowledge is required for practical purposes. It was determined in 1858 that a year's interval should elapse between the competition and the sending out of the Civil servant to India, and that this interval should be devoted to the study of special Indian subjects, the knowledge obtained in which should be tested by an examination; and that to support the young civilian during that time without his being a burden upon his family an allowance, fixed at £100, should be made by the State. Since that time the Government of India have come to the determination greatly to shorten the period of probation that is required in India itself, and to set the young men to practical work immediately on their arrival in the country. I think it is well worth the while of the Government to deal liberally with young men in that position, because one of the greatest inducements to young men in a certain class of life to compete for these appointments is the knowledge that from the hour they succeed in their competition they cease at once to be a source of expense to their families. Many men would not compete at all if they believed that for three or four years, or even for two years, after passing the examination they would continue to be a charge to their families. I should desire that the whole expense—I mean, of course, the whole reasonable expense—of supporting these young men should be borne by the State from the time they succeed in their competition to the time when they are sent out to India. Then the question of whether they should be maintained in a separate establishment devoted to that purpose is one requiring special consideration. They cannot be sent, as is sometimes pro posed, to either of the Universities—they ought to be kept in London. I agree with the hon. Member who spoke last that law is a most important branch of the subjects with which they will be called on to deal; and for the purpose of studying law attendance at the courts is essential. London, therefore, is the place where they must be maintained. By some it is thought desirable that they should be brought under one roof with a view to their better discipline. A com promise between the idea of a college and of a private residence might, I think, be suggested. Those whose parents live in London might fairly enough be allowed to live with them; those coming from a distance might probably be required to live together. I throw it out for consideration whether these candidates might not at least have the option of being lodged and maintained in an institution established, more or less, under Government authority. There is only one other subject remaining of those that have been touched upon, and that is the variety of subjects comprised in the examination. On that subject I quite agree with what has been written in the very able pamphlet more than once referred to. I think it possible that the examination is too diffused and spread over too many subjects. I can quite understand how that arose. I am perfectly sure that did not arise from any wish to set up this special teaching in op position to the ordinary teaching of public schools; but I can quite understand, when the object was to secure an examination that should be wide, general, and sifting, how it was thought expedient to give to every boy, wherever he may have been taught, and whatever he may have learned, the opportunity of utilizing anything in the shape of useful knowledge acquired by him, and to make it count in the examination. That was the principle; but, certainly it is possible we may have carried it too far. Where a multitude of subjects are admitted, no doubt those who have a facility for learning a little of a great many things enjoy advantages over those who, with greater powers of concentration, do not possess the same power of familiarizing themselves with a variety of topics. But the evils complained of may be easily met, in either of two ways. One would be by limiting the number of the subjects them selves; and the other—which I think would be equally effective, and would not involve such a large change in the character of the examination—would be to require a rudimentary knowledge of any subject in which the candidate intends to pass, but not to allow that rudimentary knowledge, up to a certain point, to count for marks. The effect of such a rule would be that while those studying a subject, with a view of obtaining high marks, would be in no way discouraged, those who were getting up the beginnings of half-a-dozen different subjects with no intention of going on with any of them, would find that calculation rendered use less. I believe, in that way, without any considerable change of the general scheme, the evil complained of might be rectified. I will only say in conclusion, that nothing is more easy than to criticize an examination paper, and nothing more difficult than to set one.


said, he was afraid we did not get the best men under the present system. It was much to be regretted that the effect of the Civil Ser vice Examinations for India had not been to bring forward more men who had passed creditable examinations at Oxford and Cambridge, as it was originally supposed they would have done; whereas, on the contrary, the number from that class had of late years fallen off very considerably. The reasons brought forward to account for this disappointment were inadequate; for he did not believe that scholarships and tutorships at the Universities—the prospect of going to feed sheep in Australia, or of emigrating to any of the other colonies—possessed nearly the same attractions for young men in this country, as were exercised by the Indian Civil Ser vice. He believed that many eligible young men were deterred from competing for the posts which it offered by the nature of the examination instituted, which was conducted on principles diametrically op posed to those recognized in our great schools of learning. With regard to the proposed college, he rejoiced that Hailey-bury had been abolished, and he thought it would be a great mistake ever to revive it. He thought it was a decided advantage that the successful candidates should pass two years in London after their examination. If young men could not be trusted to encounter the temptations of two years of English life, how were they fitted to be sent to India, there to be placed in responsible positions, and necessarily under much less supervision than they would be in England? The best probationary process that could exist was to give them enough to live upon at home for two years, and then to test at the end of that time what advance they had made in proficiency. There were four great functions to be discharged by the Civil servants of India. The first was that of the law, the second the collection of the revenue, the third the educational department, and the fourth the civil engineering department. It seemed to him to require serious consideration whether it would al ways be necessary to recruit the Indian Civil Service from England, and whether it might not be possible to place the un-covenanted civil servants and general civil servants upon the same footing. The question might be one of a proximate or a remote future, but we ought, at any rate, to be preparing for it; and one of the first steps taken should be to alter the present position of affairs with regard to the legal department. At present the Indian law department was managed partly by barristers from India and partly by the Civil servants. Now, he believed it would be a very great improvement if every man placed upon the judgment-seat in India was required, like our own Judges, to have practised in the courts. The establishment of a legal college and of a Bar in India itself would attract to it a vast number of persons whose adhesion would be very desirable. Nothing could have a more beneficial effect upon native society in India than a training to understand their own rights and the rights of others. He thought the hon. Gentleman opposite had done well in calling the attention of the House to the subject, as it was one which demanded serious and immediate consideration.


said, he would not enter into the question of examination for the Civil Service of India, nor into its method. He wished to discuss a different matter altogether—namely, as to how this competitive system of examination answered, and what its practical results were at this time. When he entered the service of the East India Company, a great many years ago, the system in the service was entirely a nomination one; but the nominee, when he obtained an appointment from a member of the Board of Directors, was not permitted to proceed to India without some qualification. He was required, in the first place, to have the elements of the education of a gentleman; and for that purpose he was compelled to appear before a Court of Examiners, who examined him in English composition, Greek and Latin, and arithmetic, as far as vulgar and decimal fractions. If the young gentleman could pass that ordeal he was then sent to Haileybury, where he had for two years to submit to the discipline of the place, and where he was required to pass through four examinations in various kinds of knowledge taught in that seminary. He (Mr. Smollett) did not say that those examinations were very stringent. They were quite the contrary. But at all events these regulations showed that some precautions were then taken to qualify young gentlemen for the situations it might be their lot to fill in India. Now, under that system a very excellent service was organized. That service had, at all events, a great advantage. It possessed a large amount of esprit de corps which was a very great advantage in a country, like India, where its members were frequently scattered over the country in twos and threes at a station, performing diverse duties, and ruling, it might be, in a somewhat arbitrary manner 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of people. When men were thus brought to pull together, their duties were generally well performed; but when they were at variance and would not visit each other, intrigues and disorders were likely to ensue. He was not going to pass a panegyric on that service in connection with which he had passed some years of his life. He confessed he had obtained little distinction in it, because there were scores of per sons at that time possessing greater talents than himself. He remembered, however, how Lord William Bentinck spoke of that service, and there could be no better judge on the subject than that distinguished nobleman. When that noble Lord was on his way to assume the office of Governor General, he landed at Madras, where he had been previously employed and was well-known, he received a congratulatory address from the people of that Presidency. The reply made on that occasion by Lord William Bentinck was to the effect that he knew India well, having been largely employed in various parts of it, and that having been largely engaged in political life, he had much opportunity of judging, he could conscientiously declare that no Prince or Potentate in Europe possessed a better or abler set of public servants than did at that time the Court of Directors of the East India Company. Well, the system that then prevailed, under which Civil servants were sent out to India, had entirely passed away. The Court of Directors had been themselves extinguished, and a different system had since then been introduced. He held in his hand a work which in a few words described what was the present system. The writer said— The general administration of British India is conducted in its higher department by Europeans, who form what is designated the Covenanted Civil Service. Appointments therein may now be contended for by all the natural-born subjects of Her Majesty above eighteen and under twenty-three years of age, of sound health and good moral character. The elections are decided by the result of public examinations, the first of which is in English composition, the literature (including the laws and constitution of Britain), and history of England, Greece, Rome, France, Germany, and Italy; in mathematics, pure and mixed; in natural science (chemistry, electricity, magnetism, natural history, geology, and mineralogy); in moral science (logic, and mental, moral and political philosophy); and in the Sanscrit and Arabic languages and literature. Six months afterwards the candidates are subjected to a further examination in English composition, in the history and geography of India, and in the elements of the Bengalee or of the Hindoostani languages. Now that was the present system. What were the results which had come from it? He would admit frankly that he was prejudiced against this system when it was first introduced. Having been brought up in a different school, he disliked this great revolution suddenly introduced. He believed, and did still believe, that it would greatly destroy that esprit de corps of which he had just spoken, which had formerly existed in the Civil Service of India. Whilst fully sensible of the advantages of the former system, he was also aware that there were numerous disadvantages attending it. He knew the narrow field from which the Directors made their choice of persons to be sent out to India. Personally, he had no knowledge of the candidates now sent out to India; but from inquiries which he had made from gentlemen fully capable of knowing the facts and of expressing an opinion upon them, he was informed the present class of men sent out to India were not popular there—they were disliked by the Natives, and they were men of whom it might be said, that whatever might be their acquirements in literature and the sciences generally, many of them were emphatically not gentlemen. There were no persons in the world better bred than an educated Native of India, and no one more appreciated gentlemanly manners and demeanour than the en lightened Natives of Hindustan. He (Mr. Smollett) had by chance put into his hand a work, which was no doubt known to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India, as well as to many other Members of that House. It was entitled, Progress and Present State of India, and was written by Mr. Montgomery Martin. That gentleman had spent some years of his life in India, and knew the people well. The compilation, however, which he printed and published was not based upon his own authority or experience exclusively. It was said to be a manual of general use, based on official documents furnished by the authority of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India. There was a chapter in it devoted to the Civil Service, and the results of the competitive system of examination for the Civil Service in India. He would read a short extract. Mr. Montgomery Martin said— Formerly the patronage of the Covenanted Civil and Military Services was monopolized by a few families connected with the East India Company. Considering that the members sprang from the middle and higher classes, and that ample emoluments, high prizes, and an immense field for the development of talent was afforded them, it is remarkable how few rose above me diocrity. The writer went on to give the names of fifty or sixty gentleman of the Indian Civil Service who had attained to what he called celebrity, and then proceeded to say— The abolition of monopoly, the open area for election, and the healthy principle of emulation, have infused new and vigorous blood into an effete system. In 1859–60 120 candidates were elected after severe competitive examinations for the Indian Civil Service; they have sprung from every class of English society; sons of druggists, ironmongers, tailors, upholsterers, drapers, undertakers, farmers, stewards, millers, butchers, printers have obtained appointments by the exercise of talents which they would not formerly have been permitted to bring inside the walls of Haileybury. And now, there is no official, from the Governor General down to the district officer, who has not expressed his satisfaction with his competitive sub ordinates, with only a few exceptions. The superiority of the new men as industrious, conscientious, and able officers is as undoubted as the fear that they would prove mere book-worms has proved unfounded.' Well, that was the result of the competitive system as testified to in an authentic statement based upon documents furnished by the Secretary of State for India him self. It appeared then, according to authentic authority, that this new system of unlimited and unrestricted competition had proved an unqualified success. They were told that the system which had become utterly effete under the old principle of nomination had been rendered fresh and vigorous by the infusion of democratic and plebeian blood which was introduced into it. Very possible the manners of the Service had a little deteriorated; but then their brains had improved. Under the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India he retracted his former views and adopted the new system as a success. If, however, it had been successful in India, why should it not be applied to the higher ranks of Civil servants in this country? He had heard that when the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) was Secretary for India a competitive examination of 300 or 400 clerks took place for three or four vacancies as writers for India, and they were examined in meta physics and in moral and mental philosophy. Now that was a farce. All that was wanted in a clerk was character and a knowledge of English composition. The Civil Service of India was the greatest service in the world, and its emoluments began at a point at which those of the Queen's service left off in this country. An Indian Civil servant began with a salary of £600 a year, and might rise to £8,000 or £10,000. Why, he asked, was this unrestricted competitive system not applied to the diplomatic service; the term effete might well be applied to the diplomatic service, and the system that had succeeded so well as regarded Indian appointments might be applied to that service. Years ago the diplomatic was re-modelled; but Earl Russell had taken care not to give it a plebeian character, for he had made a rule that for two years the nominees should serve without fee, with the view, no doubt, of excluding the sons of bakers and butchers from the service. The noble Earl, no doubt, thought they would smell of the shop, and had no desire that such persons should come between the wind and his nobility. As he had said, the competitive system might be applied to the higher grades of the Civil Service in this country—unless the right hon. Baronet opposite disclaimed its success in India, in which case the observations he had made would not be applicable.


after congratulating the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Smollett) upon his conversion, and his accession to the thin ranks of the diplomatic reformers, pointed out that the present Examiners were drawn chiefly from among men who had highly distinguished themselves at the University; and by the natural bent of their minds, and by their training, they would be disposed to show as much favour as possible to the particular class of mind to which the hon. Gentleman opposite desired to give an artificial benefit in these examinations. In our highly organized state of society, where intellectual labour was so much subdivided, specialness was a much more important product than the mind which was capable of mere general adapt ability. That, however, was not the case in India; and there were many men who had done great things in India, and who had always maintained that they owed the power of doing them to the fact that they had been educated, not according to the received orthodox English rule, but on the more desultory scrambling system which prevailed fifty years ago, more than now, at the Scotch Universities. As British rule got more consolidated in India, there might not be so much want for that kind of man, but for some time to come there would be room enough for the small sprinkling who were now-a-days sent there.


maintained that the last Return of the Civil Service Commissioners contradicted the assertion that they had laid down a system which was inconsistent with the system of education at the public schools and Universities. The two gentlemen who stood No. 1 and No. 2 in the list had been examined in English, Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, and two Eastern languages; and, putting aside the two Eastern languages, these were just the subjects which were taught at our public schools and Universities. The same might be said of all the other gentle men who had passed successfully. It was a fact, too, that those who had succeeded had taken up a smaller number of subjects than the unsuccessful candidates. He heartily agreed with what had been said by the hon. Gentleman near him, that the competitive system ought to be applied to the whole of our Civil Service.


expressed a hope that the claims of the Natives of India to be employed in the Civil Service of the country would not be overlooked. He had not heard a word in the debate with reference to them.


called the right hon. Baronet's attention to the inconvenience and hardships which had been occasioned by the recent alteration of the maximum age at which candidates could be examined from twenty-two to twenty-one years of age. He had recently received a letter from a gentleman who said that he had spent a largo sum of money in educating his son specially with a view to this Indian examination. His son had foregone collegiate honours with the same view, in the hope that there would be two chances of examination, one at twenty-one and the other at twenty-two; but now, at four months' notice, he found that he was deprived of one of these chances. No doubt there were many others in the same situation. He thought a longer period might be allowed to elapse between the time at which such changes were announced, and that at which they came into operation.


said, that he might state that the young man to whom his hon. Friend had alluded was a nephew of Sir John Lawrence. It was reasonable that notice should be given of any change in the rule as to age.


Sir, I shall refer very shortly to the various observations which have been made in the course of the de bate. I am rather surprised to find that my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Smollett) should suppose that the opinions which he quoted from Mr. Montgomery Martin's book are mine. The fact is, that those opinions are those of Mr. Montgomery Martin, and I entirely disclaim any responsibility for them, though Mr. Martin had recourse to official documents for his information. My noble Friend is mistaken also in respect to the nature of the examination which took place under the noble Lord who preceded me in the India Office (Lord Stanley). I think there were thirty vacancies when the noble Lord introduced that examination; and it was of a most elementary character, being what is commonly called an examination in reading, writing, and cyphering. I do not think it necessary to go into the ques- tion of competition for the Indian Civil Service. That question has been settled for some years. The real question which the hon. Gentleman desires to raise is as to the existing examination—whether it shall be continued as it now stands, or shall be modified. An hon. Gentleman, as I under stand him, says that the examinations have been conducted as if it was rather the object to discourage those candidates who go up from the public schools and the Universities. Having gone through a public school and a University myself, and being most grateful for the education I received in those institutions, I should be the last man to look with disfavour on the examination and the admittance into the Indian service of candidates who had received their education in that way; but the hon. Gentleman must recollect that the principle on which the Indian Civil Service was thrown open was that it should be open to all British subjects of all parts of the world; that it was as much intended to admit the Native Indian, if he proved himself qualified, as the son of an English gentleman. And I am happy to say that a very intelligent Hindoo from Bengal has passed a successful examination, and now holds an appointment in the Indian Civil Service. I hope that that appointment will convince the Natives of India that such as show themselves qualified will be permitted to participate in the government of the country, and that consequently considerable impetus will be given to their desire to acquire improved education. I am sure that their doing so will strengthen our position in India, and therefore I think we should be acting unwisely, and not at all in accordance with the principle of those examinations, if we were to exclude from the subjects one of the learned languages of India. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that the principle on which the examinations were founded and the subjects were selected, was not to give the slightest preference to any one kind of education or any one kind of learning. The intention was that the subjects should be of so universal a character as that persons educated in England, Scotland, or Ireland—whether at a public or a private school—or in Benares, Bombay, or Calcutta, or in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions, should have an opportunity of presenting them selves for examination with the view of entering the Civil Service of India. It was intended that the examination should test not the candidate's knowledge in any par- ticular subject, but his acquaintance with four or five, or some other number of subjects, so as to show his capacity, his general education, and what the hon. Gentleman calls his intellectual adaptability. It was believed that if the candidate was successful in such an examination, it would show his capability of acquiring that further knowledge which would render him fit for the service. The hon. Gentleman who introduced this subject seems to think that the examination, as now conducted is rather directed against the English Universities; but I think if hon. Members will look to the names of the Commissioners by which this system was recommended, they will see that they were men not likely to advocate anything which would have a tendency adverse to University education. It encluded Lord Macaulay, Lord Ashburton, the Rev. H. Melville, Chaplain of the East India Company, the Rev. B. Jowett, and Sir John Lefevre. Every one of them a University man—every one of them a distinguished University man. The system which they recommended has been pursued up to the present time, and those who con duct it are generally University men. I do not believe there is anything in the present system of examination which tends in the slightest degree to discourage the men from the Universities. I quite admit that the proportion of candidates from the English University has decreased; and I am sorry for it, because I think the education a man gets in an English University, independently of intellectual acquirements, is one eminently calculated to fit him for service in India. But I think the circumstances which the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) has mentioned sufficiently account for that circumstance. I have inquired the opinion of authorities at the University on the subject, and their opinion seems to be that the openings in this country for young men of position are so numerous and so constantly on the increase as to prevent any great desire on the part of young men from the University to proceed to India for the purpose of spending a large portion of their lives in the Civil Service. But there is another cause which the hon. Member seems to forget—namely, the great increase of other places of education in the United Kingdom. Places of education have been brought under the notice of the public, and have taken a permanent position which a few years ago had never been heard of. At the period to which I refer a large proportion of the sons of persons in the better ranks of society went to one or other of the Universities; now there are a great number of establishments independently of the English, Scotch, and Irish Universities, in which young gentlemen receive an education which qualifies them to compete for Government appointments. Now, with reference to the system of cramming, my attention had been called to the circum stances which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, and I suggested to the Civil Service Commissioners whether it might not be possible to revise the subjects of examination. There is not the slightest doubt that, to some extent, the tendency of all competitive examinations is to encourage cramming; but, though in my time what is called a "crammer" or a "coach" was hardly known in the University, I believe that is not the case in modern days. The objection taken to the present system of examination is stated to be this—that, by the accumulation of marks for knowledge in many less important branches of learning of which candidates possess a very limited knowledge, a greater acquaintance with larger subjects is over borne. As far as I can test the objection by the result of the last examination, it does not seem to be well founded. Forty candidates were selected at that examination, and Sir Edward Ryan went over the marks with me. It turned out that if you took the marks for five subjects in addition to English, thirty-nine out of the forty would have been in exactly the places they held. This shows that in all probability the system which the hon. Member would recommend—that of confining the examination to five subjects—would have been totally ineffectual in producing a different result. By limiting still further the number of subjects, you would decrease your chance of securing men of general capacity; but I believe that by not allowing credit for any subject in which the marks were not above a certain number, the object which the hon. Member has in view might really be attained. I called the attention of the Commissioners to that point, and they re plied that by a more careful system of marking every desirable object can be attained, without deviating from the great principle that the examinations should be open to all. Then the hon. Gentleman has referred to the change which has been made with regard to the time which the candidates spend in this country. It perfectly true that the great object which we wish to attain with reference to these young men is that they should acquire a thorough knowledge of the law—not merely the theoretical acquaintance with its principles which can be imparted in the lectures of a professor. Part of their duty as civil servants in India consists in the administration of the law. As Judges or Magistrates this knowledge will, of course, be indispensable, and even as collectors of Revenue it will be found necessary, be cause these officials have to decide upon revenue cases. There is hardly a position in India which can be occupied by one of the civil servants of the Crown where a knowledge of the law is not very essential. For that reason, therefore, we regard their attendance in our courts of law as being most necessary in order that they may sec practically how trials are conducted and how justice is administered. While I regret in many respects, the abolition of Haileybury College, I must admit that it was incompatible with the acquisition of that practical knowledge of the law to which I have referred. Formerly it was the custom for a young man to remain one year in London, and another in one of the Presidency towns in India; but it was found that this latter did them very little good. It has been consequently proposed that they shall henceforth spend the two years in London, and an allowance will be made to them on account of the expense to which they will thus be put. The question, no doubt, remains whether any establishment should be formed in the neighbourhood of London, and to this subject we have given a good deal of consideration. I consulted upon this point the Civil Service Commissioners, and they were, on the whole, indisposed to my taking the necessary steps for the formation of such an establishment. The Commissioners stated that a very large proportion of the candidates spent their time at home, Borne with their families and many with their relations, and that under this system; the moral superintendence was better than that which they would get by living in colleges. Upon this point I have entirely reserved my own opinion, because we shall see how the system works. If after experience we should deem it advisable to establish such a college in London we I shall not shrink from taking the necessary steps. In consequence of these changes it was found necessary to reduce the limit of age, especially as the Government of India were strongly of opinion that the present high limit of the age at which civil servants were sent out to that country ought not to be extended. The reduction was therefore, made from twenty-two years of age to twenty-one. I have stated that as to the length of notice of the change, I have done only what was done on former occasions, and I can not admit that I possess that kind of vested interest in the prospective examinations which my hon. Friend claims for them. Our object is to go into the world and to get well educated young men wherever they are to be found, no matter where or in what manner their education has been acquired. We wish to obtain the best cultivated young men, whether they have devoted their time to Latin or Greek, to Sanscrit or Arabic, to French or German, or to any other department of knowledge, without requiring that that knowledge should have been imparted at a commercial school, a university, or any other particular establishment. We wish to have them well educated up to a certain point, because we find that that very education which they have acquired renders their after course more easy. I am there fore sorry that I cannot deal with the representations of my hon. Friend. I have, however, a pretty good suspicion of the party by whom he was applied to. With regard to the Motion of the hon. Gentle man, I may say that I have not the slightest objection to the production of the papers for which he asks. The only objection I have is, that it appears to me to be putting the House to an unnecessary expense to have them printed in a separate form, because the Report of the Civil Service Commissioners will be laid upon the table of the House in due course, and these papers will be found in the appendix to that Report.


said, he could not quite agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Wood) that the object of competitive examination was to throw the Indian Civil Service open to all classes, whatever their colour—it was to get the best educated men they could. Ht believed it was the opinion of Lord Macaulay if the Civil Service of India were thrown open to competitive examination, the result would be that the "flower of the educated youth of England would flock to the East." The reverse, however, had been the case, and for several reasons. The Indian Civil Service was not what it had been, owing to the fact that the best prizes had been thrown open to briefless lawyers and other outsiders. Then again the candidates had no guarantee that their privileges, curtailed as they already had been, would not be still further shorn of the few good things still remaining. It was a well known fact that young civilians going to India, on learning the altered state of the service, declared that they had been deceived, and that if they had been aware of the manner in which the appointments, pay, retirements, and pensions had been cut down, they would never have left England at all. Undoubtedly, the first candidates under the competitive system were young men of a superior order; but a change for the worse had rapidly set in, and the young men selected in the present day could not compare with the Haileybury youths for esprit de corps or physique, and did not take anything like the same interest in the service. He held in his hand a pamphlet published upon the most excellent and practical authority, by Mr. W. Nassau Lees, L.L.D., Secretary of the Board of Examiners, Persian Translator to the Government of India, and Principal of the Mahommedan College. The writer of that pamphlet condemned the present system and ridiculed the idea of the candidates being obliged to obtain a certain number of marks, because he said that— It only lead to young men rushing over to France or to Germany in order that by that means they might acquire a knowledge of the French or German languages, and thus obtain 100 or 150 more marks for their score, which would be of no practical use to them in India. Dr. Lees was also of opinion that the education of Indian Civil Service officers should be commenced and completed in England, to avoid the necessity for their being detained for several months at the capitals of the Indian Presidencies to attend lectures. Mr. Lees further thought that the establishment in England of a college similar to Hailey bury would confer a great boon upon the ser vice, and would reduce the Estimates for the Indian Budget by £30,000 per annum, as compared with the present system. He (Mr. Vansittart) did not think the competitive system had answered the expectations of Lord Macaulay and others who had advocated its introduction. Compared with what it was formerly, the service at present was very indifferent; and that was one of the explanations of the difficulty there was in persuading University and other men of superior talents to enter it.


, in reply, said, he did not wish to reduce the number of subjects of examination; but he thought it would be sufficient to examine the candidates for the service on three or four branches of knowledge, irrespective of their place of education. He also thought that the time for the candidates to go out should be fixed, and not subject to arbitrary change. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the papers would be published in the appendix of this years' Report, he did not wish to press his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.