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System of Open Competition,


Offices and Salaries in the Various Departments.











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THE little work here offered to the public is intended to present, in a brief and accessible form, the information usually sought for by those who are intending to compete for employment in any of the open branches of the Civil Service. These branches of public service afford occupation for above 60,000 persons, and are accessible, more or less, to all classes of the community-the two great prerequisites being character and education. All English families, therefore, seeking an honourable career for any of their members, are interested in the information here conveyed; and that information may, and probably will, decide many a one to seek his future sphere of life in the service of his country. To those who have already decided to do so, the following pages will serve as a guide to point out the course of study which may be most profitably followed, and lead most surely to the desired end.

The numerous and varied subjects of examination, which will be read perhaps with surprise by many who take up the present manual, may be classified under three heads:

Firstly. Those which are absolutely necessary for all candidates of whatever kind.

Secondly. Those which relate more especially to the higher branches of a liberal education, and are necessary in order to gain any of the superior positions in the service.

Thirdly. Those which are special and technical, being requisite only to candidates who enter the particular department in which they are severally required.

The first of these groups comprehends simply-Reading, Writing, Spelling, English Composition, and Arith

metic. It should not be supposed by any of the candidates that these simple subjects, just because they are simple, can be safely neglected or taken for granted. The fact stands on record that the number of persons who have failed in their examination for want of correct spelling and composition exceeds, to an enormous degree, those who have failed from all other causes put together. Even young men who have had the most liberal and expensive education, are not unfrequently "plucked," from having too much neglected these preliminary and fundamental subjects. Even and legible Writing, correct Spelling, a fair knowledge of Arithmetic, and the power of expressing ideas in good English, may, therefore, be set down as fundamental requisites to all Civil Service candidates of whatever class; for without these no one can expect to pass either in the higher or the lower grades of the service. To these primary requisites might also be added, as highly desirable, some knowledge of Geography and English History, which, though not absolutely requisite for all places, yet are required for all except those of the lowest degree.

The second group of subjects comprehends, in addition to those before mentioned, English Language and Literature; the Language and Literature of Greece, Rome, France, Germany, Italy; Mathematics, Pure and Mixed; and the Elements of Natural and Moral Science. These are precisely the subjects which enter, more or less, into the idea of a liberal and thorough education, and which form the chief material of the instruction given in all our high schools, colleges, and universities. It is not, of course, to be supposed that any one candidate would dream of professing the whole; were he to do so he would be pretty sure to court failure. The policy of the Civil Service Examiners is not to encourage superficial knowledge in anything, but to maintain the principle that everything that is done at all ought to be done well. The course, therefore, which every candidate ought to pursue is this:-After having well secured the fundamental conditions, he should select a few of those subjects for which he has the greatest aptitude, and then endeavour to master them thoroughly. For example (pre-supposing that the Writing, Spelling, Composition,

Arithmetic, Geography, and History are well grounded), one candidate might devote his chief study to Classics, with only a moderate amount of Mathematics and Modern Languages; another might make Mathematics and Physics his strong points, and take Language only as a secondary study. By following some such course as this, it is probable that the highest degree of success will be secured.

The third group of subjects comprehends those which may be termed special and technical. Those candidates, for example, who aim at situations in the Public Works should aim at proficiency in .Surveying, Architecture, Drawing, and other kindred branches. For situations in the Museums it is necessary to study Geology, Mineralogy, Botany, Zoology, and Natural Science generally. For situations connected with the British Parliament or Law Courts, Constitutional History must be well studied. For the Indian Civil Service, Jurisprudence, Political Economy, and some of the more important Indian Languages (Ancient or Modern) have to be acquired, before success can be at all anticipated.

It cannot be too strongly impressed that the results of an ordinary liberal education, however expensive, are not alone sufficient to secure success in any of the higher departments. Every candidate must, in addition to this, make a special study on his own account. If he can employ a tutor, so much the better; if not, let him seek out the best books on the subjects he takes up, and acquire a competent knowledge of them by close and unremitting study.

The guide now published will greatly aid every candidate in deciding upon the branch of service for which he means to prepare, and in selecting the works most necessary for such preparation. With such a guide in his hands, he can scarcely fail to secure some measure of success as the reward of conscientious application and earnest effort. Let him only start with a good preliminary preparation, and then add to this thoroughness in some special branches for which he has a decided aptitude, and the result in the long run will hardly be doubtful.


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