Placed in a position where he could study French administration and observe its mechanism, Rabourdin worked in the circle where his thought revolved, which, we may remark parenthetically, is the secret of much human accomplishment; and his labor culminated finally in the invention of a new system for the Civil Service of government.
In those branches of administration which the king did not himself direct, such for instance as the "fermes" (the public domains throughout the country on which a revenue was levied), the clerks were to their superior what the clerks of a business-house are to their employer; they learned a science which would one day advance them to prosperity.
From that day forth bureaucracy used to its own profit the mistrust that stands between receipts and expenditures; it degraded the administration for the benefit of the administrators; in short, it spun those lilliputian threads which have chained France to Parisian centralization,--as if from 1500 to 1800 France had undertaken nothing for want of thirty thousand government clerks!
The government-clerks being led to detest the administrations which lessened both their salaries and their importance, treated them as a courtesan treats an aged lover, and gave them mere work for money; a state of things which would have seemed as intolerable to the administration as to the clerks, had the two parties dared to feel each other's pulse, or had the higher salaries not succeeded in stifling the voices of the lower.
Thus the mediocrity of French administration has slowly come about.
Another evil, brought about by modern customs, which Rabourdin counted among the causes of this secret demoralization, was the fact that there is no real subordination in the administration in Paris; complete equality reigns between the head of an important division and the humblest copying-clerk; one is as powerful as the other in an arena outside of which each lords it in his own way.
It is difficult to recount in detail, chapter by chapter, a plan which embraced the whole budget and continued down through the minutest details of administration in order to keep the whole synthetical; but perhaps a slight sketch of the principal reforms will suffice for those who understand such matters, as well as for those who are wholly ignorant of the administrative system.
I now reiterate these sentiments; and, in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause-- as cheerfully to one section as to another.
But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain, express provisions for all possible questions.
While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.
Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either.
If, therefore, as has been elsewhere remarked, the people should in future become more partial to the federal than to the State governments, the change can only result from such manifest and irresistible proofs of a better administration
, as will overcome all their antecedent propensities.