Charles Dickens

At last the respectable gentleman calls his house steward, and says, even then more in sorrow than in anger, "This is a terrible business; no fortune can stand it--no mortal equanimity can bear it! I must change my system; I must obtain servants who will do their duty." The house steward throws up his eyes in pious horror, ejaculates "Good God, master, you are setting class against class!" and then rushes off into the servants' hall, and delivers a long and melting oration on that wicked feeling.

I now come to the third objection, which is common among young gentlemen who are not particularly fit for anything but spending money which they have not got. It is usually comprised in the observation, "How very extraordinary it is that these Administrative Reform fellows can't mind their own business." I think it will occur to all that a very sufficient mode of disposing of this objection is to say, that it is our own business we mind when we come forward in this way, and it is to prevent it from being mismanaged by them. I observe from the Parliamentary debates--which have of late, by-the-bye, frequently suggested to me that there is this difference between the bull of Spain the bull of Nineveh, that, whereas, in the Spanish case, the bull rushes at the scarlet, in the Ninevite case, the scarlet rushes at the bull--I have observed from the Parliamentary debates that, by a curious fatality, there has been a great deal of the reproof valiant and the counter-check quarrelsome, in reference to every case, showing the necessity of Administrative Reform, by whomsoever produced, whensoever, and wheresoever. I daresay I should have no difficulty in adding two or three cases to the list, which I know to be true, and which I have no doubt would be contradicted, but I consider it a work of supererogation; for, if the people at large be not already convinced that a sufficient general case has been made out for Administrative Reform, I think they never can be, and they never will be. There is, however, an old indisputable, very well known story, which has so pointed a moral at the end of it that I will substitute it for a new case: by doing of which I may avoid, I hope, the sacred wrath of St. Stephen's. Ages ago a savage mode of keeping accounts on notched sticks was introduced into the Court of Exchequer, and the accounts were kept, much as Robinson Crusoe kept his calendar on the desert island. In the course of considerable revolutions of time, the celebrated Cocker was born, and died; Walkinghame, of the Tutor's Assistant, and well versed in figures, was also born, and died; a multitude of accountants, book- keepers, and actuaries, were born, and died. Still official routine inclined to these notched sticks, as if they were pillars of the constitution, and still the Exchequer accounts continued to be kept on certain splints of elm wood called "tallies." In the reign of George III. an inquiry was made by some revolutionary spirit, whether pens, ink, and paper, slates and pencils, being in existence, this obstinate adherence to an obsolete custom ought to be continued, and whether a change ought not to be effected.

All the red tape in the country grew redder at the bare mention of this bold and original conception, and it took till 1826 to get these sticks abolished. In 1834 it was found that there was a considerable accumulation of them; and the question then arose, what was to be done with such worn-out, worm-eaten, rotten old bits of wood? I dare say there was a vast amount of minuting, memoranduming, and despatch-boxing, on this mighty subject. The sticks were housed at Westminster, and it would naturally occur to any intelligent person that nothing could be easier than to allow them to be carried away for fire-wood by the miserable people who live in that neighbourhood. However, they never had been useful, and official routine required that they never should be, and so the order went forth that they were to be privately and confidentially burnt. It came to pass that they were burnt in a stove in the House of Lords.