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8. CHAPTER VIII - THE "CORNHILL MAGAZINE" AND "FRAMLEY PARSONAGE" (continued)
At this time I did not stand very well with the dominant interest at the General Post Office. My old friend Colonel Maberly had been, some time since, squeezed into, and his place was filled by Mr. Rowland Hill, the originator of the penny post. With him I never had any sympathy, nor he with me. In figures and facts he was most accurate, but I never came across any one who so little understood the ways of men,--unless it was his brother Frederic. To the two brothers the servants of the Post Office,--men numerous enough to have formed a large army in old days,--were so many machines who could be counted on for their exact work without deviation, as wheels may be counted on, which are kept going always at the same pace and always by the same power. Rowland Hill was an industrious public servant, anxious for the good of his country; but he was a hard taskmaster, and one who would, I think, have put the great department with which he was concerned altogether out of gear by his hardness, had he not been at last controlled. He was the Chief Secretary, my brother-in-law--who afterwards succeeded him--came next to him, and Mr. Hill's brother was the Junior Secretary. In the natural course of things, I had not, from my position, anything to do with the management of affairs;--but from time to time I found myself more or less mixed up in it. I was known to be a thoroughly efficient public servant; I am sure I may say so much of myself without fear of contradiction from any one who has known the Post Office;--I was very fond of the department, and when matters came to be considered, I generally had an opinion of my own. I have no doubt that I often made myself very disagreeable. I know that I sometimes tried to do so. But I could hold my own because I knew my business and was useful. I had given official offence by the publication of The Three Clerks. I afterwards gave greater offence by a lecture on The Civil Service which I delivered in one of the large rooms at the General Post Office to the clerks there. On this occasion, the Postmaster-General, with whom personally I enjoyed friendly terms, sent for me and told me that Mr. Hill had told him that I ought to be dismissed. When I asked his lordship whether he was prepared to dismiss me, he only laughed. The threat was no threat to me, as I knew myself to be too good to be treated in that fashion. The lecture had been permitted, and I had disobeyed no order. In the lecture which I delivered, there was nothing to bring me to shame,--but it advocated the doctrine that a civil servant is only a servant as far as his contract goes, and that he is beyond that entitled to be as free a man in politics, as free in his general pursuits, and as free in opinion, as those who are in open professions and open trades. All this is very nearly admitted now, but it certainly was not admitted then. At that time no one in the Post Office could even vote for a Member of Parliament.
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