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Containing the whole Science of Government
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most
important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could
possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution
Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It
was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong
without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder
Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody
would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a
score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda,
and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the
Circumlocution Office.
This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime
principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly
revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to
carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever
was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the
public departments in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.
Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized
it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution
Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition
had risen to be--what it was.
It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public
departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is
true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they
had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in
than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true
that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who
had been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and who had been
asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of
impeachment to tell him why it hadn't been done, and who had been asserting
that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done,
began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both
Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the
protracted deliberation, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech at the
opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a
considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective
chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the
close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through
several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How
not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon
the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the
Circumlocution Office went beyond it.