No. 301.
Mr. Andrews to Mr. Fish.

No. 354.]

Sir: During the last three-quarters of a century, as you are aware, a complete revolution has taken place in the civil service of the principal European states. Rigorous and impartial tests of qualification have been adopted, and where formerly were incompetency, routine, and peculation, are now efficiency and fidelity. The prosperity of those states is owing in a great degree to the character of their civil service, for it has been made instrumental to the development of their resources and to public economy. Prussia, whose soil and physical resources are third-rate in quality, as compared with those of the United States, while in magnitude they bear but slight comparison with ours, owes it very much to the high order of efficiency which has been introduced into her civil service, that she has risen to be one of the first powers in the world. Improvements in administration have hardly been less in France and Great Britain.

Believing most sincerely that the United States have much to gain in prosperity at home and reputation abroad by a reform of their civil service, and as the subject now occupies general attention there, I have thought it might be useful to communicate to the Department, as I now beg to do, some information in respect to the systems of civil service in Sweden and in Norway. I, of course, do not suppose that it would be practicable or desirable to copy this system into the laws of the United States, yet it is not unlikely that a few useful hints may be derived from them. It is natural, too, that Americans who have noticed the honorable rank these countries has taken at the Centennial Exhibition, should feel an increased interest as to its home administrations.

As preliminary to a sketch of the civil service of Sweden, it may be proper to explain separately the manner in which the tax on spirits is collected; and, also, the way in which defaulters are punished.

[Page 554]

collection of tax on spirits in Sweden.

Having applied to Baron A. H. Fock, chief of the bureau of control over the production of spirits, for information as to the collection of revenue thereon, I was in the course of three days very kindly furnished by him with a clear and comprehensive statement on the subject (in Swedish) from which the most of the following facts are taken:

The quantity of spirits (bränvin) produced in 1874 was 17,340,545 cans (kannor) or 9,988,154 imperial gallons, one can being equal to 0.576 gallon. The tax collected thereon was 13,874,833.22 crowns, (kroner,*) or $3,718,535.30 gold, which was 85 cents in proportion to each inhabitant. (The tax on spirits in the United States the same year was $1.25 per inhabitant.)

The cost to the state of collecting the tax was 361,011 crowns, ($96,751,) being at the rate of 2.6 per cent, of gross receipts. The rate of taxation was and still is 80 öre (21 cents) per can, normal strength 50 per cent, alcohol + 15 Celsius, (= 59 F.) However, 3 per cent. of production is free from tax. But an additional tax of 25 öre (¼ crown) must be paid on every can which falls short of or exceeds the quantity which is allowed to be produced at any one manufactory. The cost of production of the spirits varies from 50 öre (13.4 cents) to 60 öre (16 cents) per can; consequently the tax equals 1⅗ to 1⅓ of cost of spirits. (The cost of manufacturing whisky in the United States is 16 cents per gallon. The tax being 70 cents a gallon, is, therefore, more than four times the cost of manufacture.)

The season for manufacture of spirits is limited to seven months, October 1 to April 30 of each year. However, the clarifying of raw spirits can take place at other times. Not more than 1,200 cans (692 gallons) nor less than 200 cans (115 gallons) are allowed to be produced at any one manufactory in twenty four hours. The person proposing to manufacture spirits makes written application to the governor of the county, an officer of much dignity, frequently some ex-cabinet minister, who holds practically during good behavior, and who has a general supervision of county administration, who is appointed by the King. The tax is paid directly into the office of the county treasurer, who holds during good behavior, for that county, of course, in which the manufactory is situated, in advance of production, and for a quantity at one time of not less that 864 gallons; otherwise the spirits are put in public store, and in no case can they come under the control of the manufacturer for disposal till the tax has been paid.

The state’s direct watch and control over the production of spirits are as follows: At every distillery is a government controller, appointed by the governor of the county in which the distillery is situated, who sees that the spirits are properly measured and the tests applied as to their strength. The parts of the machinery whereby the spirits could be unlawfully removed are locked or sealed under his care, and the spirit-holder, wherein the ready goods are gathered, is stored in a room specially prescribed, under the lock and key of the government; the key being in the possession of the controller. This latter officer lives on the premises, quarters and board being furnished him at the expense of the manufacturer. A competent person living in the neighborhood of the distillery is selected by the government of the parish in which the distillery is situated, to be a witness of the measurement and testing of the spirits, and who is paid by the state 40 cents a day. Close oversight of the controller is exercised by an overcontroller, who is appointed by [Page 555] the King for only one manufacturing season at a time, and for a separate district in which he constantly travels and inspects distilleries. The main security against the state’s being defrauded is in the overcontroller’s watchfulness of the controller. The persons who are usually appointed overcontrollers are older military officers who have quit or partly quit the service. Their average pay per day is 15 crowns ($3.02) besides traveling expenses. As controllers are usually appointed also older and younger military commissioned and non-commissioned officers. For this service they are not required to pass an examination, but must show to the satisfaction of the overcontroller that they understand the’ measurement and test of spirits. The reason for taking military officers for this service is that they are generally at leisure during the winter when spirits are manufactured. The pay of controllers by the state is 6 crowns ($1.60) per day; their subsistence and lodging being furnished, as above stated, by the distiller. Neither overcontrollers nor controllers-are continuously in the service, but are appointed in the degree and for the period they are wanted. It may happen that they are receiving or will receive a military pension, but no pensions are granted in this particular branch of the service. Neither political nor party considerations enter into the appointment of such officers. As far as known, no considerable loss or fraud has been fully effected since 1860. Substantially the same system of revenue from spirits has been in operation in Norway since 1848.

The legislation by which this system was established in Sweden began in 1855, but was not completed till 1860. For a long period of years previous to its adoption the production of spirits in Sweden had been comparatively free of tax, so that forty years ago there were 170,000 distilleries, the greater part being for “household need,” so called, and composed of small, incomplete machinery. Spirits became directly accessible everywhere in the country, and their misuse led in the middle of the-present century to an agitation which resulted in the present more stringent system.

Observations.—The leading safeguards of this system seem to be that the tax is paid to a county treasurer, whose tenure of office is permanent, and who himself is under the eye of the county governor, and that no money in any event passes through or into the hands of any officer about the distillery; that the state has absolute and actual control of the spirits till the tax is paid, unless the latter is paid in advance; that the production and measurement are guarded by two of the state’s-servants, the latter being also inspected and controlled by an officer-in higher position; that the two principal officers who watch the manufacture, though appointed for a short period and thereby less able to enter into collusion with the manufacturer, are nevertheless, as a general rule, permanently connected with another branch of the service, and have various grounds of interest to be faithful to the government; and that their appointments are not influenced by party politics. It will be noticed, too, that the three officers who comprise the watch over a distillery receive their appointment from different sources; the witness from the parish government, the controller from the county government, and the overcontroller from the state government. The practice of limiting the production of spirits for any single distillery seems to-be a wise provision, as it prevents any sudden and large increase in anticipation of a proposed increase of tax. We have no such control of production in the United States; and for lack of it the Government has repeatedly suffered considerable loss. For example, in 1863, when it was proposed to lay a tax of 20 cents per gallon on spirits, manufacturers [Page 556] ran up the production, so that for about a year after the tax took effect but little, if any, spirits were produced. So also distilleries were run to their utmost capacity in anticipation of the tax of $2 per gallon, which took effect in 1865, and then the production suddenly fell. The tax having been reduced in 1868–’69 to 50 cents per gallon, when it was proposed two or three years ago to raise it again there was a further extraordinary increase of production in anticipation of the increase of tax. On those three occasions the United States Government of course lost several millions of dollars, which would not have happened if a system of control over production had been in force like that which obtains in Sweden.

punishment of defaulters—accounts.

The office which has the final revision and settlement of the accounts of all officers who have been intrusted with the collection or disbursement of public money, including even officers of public, charitable, or religious corporations, is empowered with judicial as well as administrative authority. It is called the chamber court, (kammar rätten.) Its judicial authority is exercised by a council of six members and one president, which latter has supervision of all the divisions of the office, who, of course, hold during good behavior. When on the settlement of an officer’s accounts it is found that he is a defaulter, and after notice is given him he fails to promptly account for or to pay the balance, the accounting branch of the chamber court forwards his case to the president and council, who proceed to try it. Their sentences are usually exemplary. They must sentence a defaulter to punishment in the penitentiary at hard labor for a term of years, or at least six months, together with loss of office and permanent disqualification to hold office. Appeal lies direct to the supreme court. Only about four cases of defalcation a year, on an average, and these of no very great magnitude, arise to be passed upon by this tribunal. One of the latest cases where a defaulter was punished was that of a tax-collector in the county of Kalmar. His defalcation amounted to 26,227 crowns. His two sureties were only answerable for 2,250 crowns, which sum was collected of them, and it is not impossible that a part or all of the balance will yet be recovered from the principal. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at hard labor, (besides disqualification for life for holding office,) which he is now undergoing. Only two or three years ago this tribunal sentenced a whole board of directors of a public charitable institution of Stockholm, all prominent citizens, to pay an indemnity of about 30,000 crowns, because through their lack of proper watchfulness that amount became embezzled. The facts were these: The safe containing the money could be opened only by the use of three different keys, one of which was kept by the treasurer and the other two by two directors. These two directors having occasion to be absent from the city left each his key, though without wrong intention, with the treasurer, who embezzled the funds and absconded.

Such is the wholesome way in which, for a long series of years, defaulters and those guilty of neglect in the discharge of public pecuniary trusts have been dealt with in this country. It was an important reform in the laws of the United States when, in 1846, the loaning out or conversion to his private use in any way of any public money by a disbursing-officer, or any one having the custody of public money, was made embezzlement, and punishable by imprisonment not less than six months nor more than ten years. The law also made any failure to pay over or to produce public money prima facie evidence of such embezzlement. Our [Page 557] law, however, is not so stringent as the Swedish either in theory or practice. Neither here nor in other European states are sureties required for such large amount as with us. Instead of throwing so heavy responsibility on sureties as we do, it would seem a more just and sound policy to throw better inducements to fidelity around the principal, and by other precautions to make it safer to rely more upon him.

examinations for the civil service.

As a general rule for admission to the civil service of Sweden, a person must at least have passed one of two examinations at the university; but for appointment to subordinate places in the post and customs departments, it is only required that the applicant shall have graduated at one of the high schools, (“Elementarläroverkem,”) of which there are thirty averaging about twenty teachers to each. To graduate at a high school in the “real” or practical course, which is always taken for this purpose, an examination must be passed in the following studies, which I will state in the order in which they are placed in the catalogue, namely: Christianity; the Swedish, German, English, and French languages; mathematics, through the first six books of Euclid, trigonometry, algebra, and arithmetic; chemistry, mineralogy, and botany; history, geography, and drawing. The other or classical course embraces, the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, in place of the German and English. It is important to notice here, too, that the pupil must always pass an examination in one of these courses before he can be admitted to either of the two universities.

The so-called “examen till Konungens Kansli,” or, more briefly, “Kansli examen” is the university examination most usually taken by persons intending to enter the civil service. It may, therefore, be entitled the civil-service examination. It includes a test of the person’s knowledge in political economy, judicial encyclopedia, the law of nations, Swedish constitutional law, administrative law, the law on private rights and legal process. The examination is partly oral and partly in writing. The number of questions which must be answered in writing are four, namely, one in political economy, one in Swedish constitutional law, one in administrative law, and one in the law as to private rights. The text-book which is used on the law of nations is Heftier, “das Europeische Völkerrecht.” The other text-books, except Mill on Political Economy, are by Swedish authors. The answers must be wholly improvised. About eight hours are allowed for each answer. In answering the questions the text of the law may be used, but not commentaries. The answer is required to be tolerably full. One must first pass the examination in writing before being admitted to the oral examination. The latter is public, occupies about eight hours, and can for the most part be considered strict, at least on the more important subjects. The examiners are the ordinary professors in the subjects embraced. There are no censors to watch the examination. The examiners themselves decide on the result of both the oral and written examination. Here it may be remarked that, at the Swedish universities, a professor’s duty of instruction consists principally in public lectures, for which he receives no pay from the students. If the latter desire instruction beyond this they usually receive it at their own expense from some extraordinary instructor, who, according to the rules, is not an examiner.

Mr. Von Steyern, dispatching secretary, secretary-in-chief of the ecclesiastical department, (which includes the department of public instruction,) an officer of much experience and ability, who, at my request, [Page 558] promptly furnished me with full information, in Swedish, in respect to these examinations and the civil service generally, states that it is considered the examiners have no interest to be unduly lenient in the examination of any student who has enjoyed their instruction and that they are entirely impartial.

Here, again, it is to be observed that this “Kansli” or civil-service examination is preceded at the university by another examination, entitled “preliminary examination,” which is conducted orally by the ordinary instructors, and which usually requires a year’s study on the part of a student after admission to the university before it can be passed. In this the student is examined in the following studies: Latin, French, politics, history, and political-social philosophy. In Latin, he is required to translate portions of Livy, Cicero, and Horace. In French he must evince a readiness to translate from Swedish into French; in history, a full knowledge of Geiyjer’s Sweden especially, and a general view of universal modern history; in politics, the constitution and administration in the principal countries. The course in philosophy embraces the notes of the professor’s lectures.

There are two other courses and two other kinds of examination, both in law, both at the university, and conducted in the same way as the civil-service examination before described, either of which, if passed, qualify a person for admission to the civil service, though they are intended more especially as tests for admission to the judicial service. The lightest of these, “Examen till ratteydångguerkcen”, or examination for the administration of justice, embraces a test in the following studies: judicial encyclopedia, history of law, law of nations, Swedish constitutional law, the law on private rights, Swedish criminal law, process law, maritime law, and a part of the laws of administration. Where the subjects are the same, the text-books are identical with those for the civil-service course. There are, also, hve questions to be answered in writing. A few months just previous to the higher law examination (“Juriskandidat examen”) it is usual for the professor to hold a strict private examination in writing in each branch in which instruction has been given. In the civil-service examination a preponderance is given to constitutional law, administrative law, and political economy. It would seem that there is no trial of précis writing, nor particular test of general intelligence, nor are marks of merit used.

There are three grades in which an examination can be passed as to every subject: 1, praiseworthy; 2, approved with praise; 3, approved. The student who passes receives a certificate showing in which grade he passed. He also receives a general certificate showing the degree of knowledge he has exhibited on the whole, which certificate is graded like that in respect to separate subjects. The substance of all the certificates is included in the diploma which is finally issued. The grade in which a student passes gives him no particular preference or right to a better position in the public service. If a student fails to pass, there are no limitations as to his future attempts. He has notice certainly of the branches wherein he failed, but at any repeated trial he is examined in all other branches as well as the one in which he had failed.

The course of study for the civil-service examination usually occupies two years, and for legal examination two and a half to three years, exclusive in both cases of the time required to fit for the preliminary examination. Generally, the examination on graduating at the high school for admission to the university is taken at the age of nineteen to twenty years. So, including the year required before taking the socalled [Page 559] preliminary examination, the student will generally be twenty-two to twenty-four years of age when he takes the civil-service examination and becomes appointed as a supernumerary in the civil service. And it is not till he has reached the age of about thirty-two years, as a general rule, that he becomes promoted to a fixed or “ordinary” position, at least in the central state departments, and then usually at the lowest grade in the service. For the positions of secretary, treasurer, chief clerk, notary, and register in the office of the county governor, of collector of the direct taxes, as well as those generally in the central departments and bureaus, one must have taken either the civil-service or the legal examination. These examinations were prescribed in 1863; but the change then introduced was mainly in introducing the examination in writing and giving additional weight to administrative and political branches in the civil-service examination; otherwise the tests for admission to the civil service have been substantially the same as now since the beginning of the present century. No further examination is required. There are no competitive examinations; nor are examinations repeated after a person has once been appointed in the service.

For admission to offices in the forest administration a person must have graduated at the Forest Institute; so, also, for admission to the office of surveyor of lands. To positions in the administrations of the railways and the telegraphs, special examinations are had as to knowledge peculiar to those branches. Women are employed to some extent in the telegraph and post offices; but there has been no instance where a woman has taken the civil service or the legal examination, though there is nothing to prevent their doing so.

The King has the right to waive either of the before-specified examinations in appointing anyone to a subordinate position; but it is a right seldom exercised, and only when it is necessary to supply an urgent need in the working force of an office.

The knowledge required for the legal and civil-service examinations has, in later times, been considered here by many to be insufficient. The proposal has, therefore, been discussed of introducing a combined judicial and civil-service examination in place of those two, about corresponding to the present “Juriskandidat examen”, (requiring a course of study about two years longer than the foregoing-described legal course.) In such case it is thought that it would probably be necessary that a lower examination should be provided for admission to such lower positions as can now be entered by taking the civil-service examination.

grades of office.

The different grades in one of the state departments, below the minister or chief, are: 1, dispatching or chief secretary, (“expeditions chef,”) who is responsible to the head of the department for the progress of business; 2, chiefs of bureau, one for every principal branch of business. For example, in the ecclesiastical department are four bureau chiefs, one for actual church matters, one for the universities and high schools, one for the common schools, and one for sanitary and poor matters; three office-secretaries, one as assistant to the dispatching secretary, and one to each chief of bureau. All of these of course have fixed or permanent places, and are known as “ordinary” appointees. Besides, there is in every bureau one or more “extraordinary” or supernumerary employés, called also “amanuens

[Page 560]

appointment, promotion, and tenure of office.

To positions which, in § 35 of the constitution, title Form of Government, are classified as confidential, including that of dispatching-secretary and higher offices, appointments are made by the King in council on the proposal of that cabinet minister in whose department the office lies, and accordingly without direct and open application. As to other offices, the parties seeking them must apply in writing to the authority either the King or a subordinate authority, in whose department they lie. The application must be signed by the applicant, and be accompanied by written certificates of service or of merit, showing the applicant’s age, respectability, that he has passed one of the required examinations, the previous service, if any, he has had, and anything further that can have effect in securing the position. The statement as to previous service must be duly confirmed, either through the testimony of two reliable men, or by annexing the documents on which the information is based. When the King appoints to such a position there are designated, by the authority under whom the service nearest lies, three of the most deserving applicants, of whom the King in cabinet council appoints one; but he can in certain cases even appoint any of the applicants without such designation. Appointments are almost always made to the lowest grade, that of supernumerary. Neither in appointments nor promotions, as a general rule, do political or party considerations come in question or have effect. The constitution of Sweden expressly declares that “in all promotions (‘befordringar’) the King shall fix regard only on the applicants’ merit and capacity, and not on their birth.” This applies also to original appointments. The provision was adopted in 1809, in order to do away with the abuse which had grown up from the dictatorial epoch of Charles XII, of filling all offices with the nobility. Nevertheless, according to my observation, the fact that an applicant belongs to the nobility still gives him a decided preference in obtaining office, especially in the diplomatic service. But it is a matter which is gradually ceasing to have influence.

For a member of the legislative branch of the government, as such, to recommend or urge the appointment of persons in the civil service would be considered intrusive, and would have no weight, certainly, in excluding a more meritorious officer. Anything like “patronage” doesnot obtain.

For promotion to lower and less important positions, much regard is paid to seniority; but for the weightier positions, and especially for the most of those which in the thirty-fifth section of the constitution, title Form of Government, are described as places of confidence, promotions are never made according to seniority, but only according to ability and merit.

An official record is kept of all proceedings in cabinet council. When the King makes an appointment or promotion, there must be present at least three councilors of state beside an official reporter. The constitution also requires that the councilors of state shall express their opinion on the talents and merit of the aspirants. The keeping a record of cabinet proceedings and the holding of the ministers to a strict accountability are valuable constitutional safeguards. This part of the Swedish constitution, on the form of government, which was adopted in 1809, also provides that all subordinate officers and employés shall hold their positions during good behavior. They can only be removed after complaint, judicial trial, and judgment. They are suspended from duty as soon as complaint is duly made. On the other hand, the dispatching-secretary, [Page 561] who is next to the chief of a department, and morally responsible to him for all that goes through the department, as well as higher officers (not including, of course, judicial officers,) in administrative service, can be removed at any time by the King; but such removals must occur in cabinet council, where all the ministers have opportunity to express their opinion on the subject.

It is very seldom that a subordinate officer is removed by judicial judgment, or even charged with lesser misdemeanor, notwithstanding the Riksdag appoints and pays its own special attorney-general (under the constitution) to see that persons in the public service fulfill their duties, and to accuse them before the courts of justice if they fail to do so.

While subordinate officers have the free enjoyment of their political convictions, and can express their opinions and vote against the government, it is never their practice to seek to propagate the political views of the government among the people. Such an attempt would be wholly antagonistic to Swedish customs, and would most assuredly have extremely slight prospects of success. Such attempt, whether for or against the government, would probably excite the same feeling that would be excited in our country if an officer of the regular Army or of the Navy should undertake to play the party politician. It is, therefore, considered here rather of slight importance to the government whether civil-service men are included among its political supporters or not.

In respect to higher officers, it is always the case that there are some who, while holding at the pleasure of the King, are, according to usage, so independent that they can and do, in their capacity as members of the Riksdag, frequently, if not habitually, oppose the party in power.


In state departments the salaries are as follows, per annum: Dispatching-secretary, 7,000 crowns, ($1,876;) chief of bureau, 5,500 crowns; office secretary, 4,200 crowns. These salaries are, however, in general lower than those prescribed for similar positions, which have been more recently re-organized by the Riksdag; they will, therefore, possibly be increased at least for chiefs of bureaus. In the state treasurer’s office, (“Stats Kontoret,”) which was re-organized by the last Riksdag, salaries are fixed for different grades from 2,800 crowns in the lowest to 7,000 crowns in the highest, not including the president of the office. Supernumeraries scarcely receive, except in the state departments, higher pay per year than 1,000 crowns; and these small salaries, as well as those of ordinary or permanent employés in the lower grades, are only gained through the right to unite several employments at the same time in different branches of the service. For the purpose of comparison it may be useful to state what are some of the higher salaries. For example, that of the Swedish-Norwegian representative at London is $17,011 per annum, and the same for their representative at Paris. A cabinet minister who is the chief of a department, (except the minister of foreign affairs, whose pay is higher,) receives 17,000 crowns ($4,556) a year; a cabinet councilor, who is not the chief of a department, 12,000 crowns, ($3,216;) a president of the court of appeals, or of one of the “colleges,” which latter corresponds to a board, such as a board of trade, board of health, &c., 10,000 crowns; a county governor 12,000 crowns, besides a residence. Salaries are paid quarterly, but the question has been raised as to their payment monthly.

[Page 562]

Increase of pay for length of service, called here “age increase,” has lately been introduced into the service, but as yet only in those branches which were re-organized by the Riksdag the present year. For the higher positions in these branches there is one increase of 600 crowns, to take effect after five years’ service; for the lower positions two increases in each grade of 500 crowns each, the first after five and the second after ten years’ service.

There is a practice, which is peculiar to the department of foreign affairs, of granting “expectance” pay to persons who have been recalled from the office of representative abroad, and who for the time being are out of diplomatic employment. The highest pay now received by any such person is 6,000 crowns per annum.


Officers of the civil service obtain a pension from the state when they have reached the age of seventy and served thirty years, (the supernumerary period always included,) and, if physically disabled, at sixty-five years of age, and after about forty years of service. The amount of pension is equal to the pay when the latter does not exceed 3,000 crowns per year, and is 80 per cent. of the pay when, the pay exceeds that sum; provided, however, that no pension shall exceed 8,000 crowns, ($2,144.) In those branches of the service which were re-organized at the last Riksdag, pensions are fixed at two-thirds of the salary, or something over, and such probably will be the rule generally in future. No part of the pension is continued to the widow or heirs of the pensioner after his death. If a person before reaching the age of sixty-five becomes disqualified from duty by sickness, special application in order to obtain a pension must be made to the Riksdag, which is generally granted if made by the government. In such cases the pension is sometimes less than 80 per cent. of pay. All the pensioners are paid wholly by the state without any deduction from pay, or special contribution or extra tax of any kind from the officer or employé.

There is, however, a separate pension establishment for widows and children of persons in the service, to which every “ordinary” official is required to contribute a certain portion of his pay, 112 crowns being the highest contribution and 21 crowns the lowest. Officers can themselves obtain a pension from the fund where they quit the service at the age of fifty-five years; but as the highest pension of this sort is 1,600 crowns, the lowest 300 crowns, and as the use of the privilege excludes one from the benefit of a state pension, it is seldom availed of. In addition to the contributions of officials to this fund, the state annually appropriates 82,500 crowns.

hours of work—discipline.

In the dispatching-offices of the state departments, and in the central offices generally, the working-time is from four to six hours a day; but almost every service-man is in the habit, besides, of employing some part of the day on public work at his home. From six to eight hours of work a day are not, therefore, unusual, except in the lower grades. There is generally a vacation allowed of one month or, in certain cases, six weeks in a year. No special means, such as a conduct-record and the like, are resorted to in order to ascertain the amount and character of an officer’s work. In general the chief of an office, with the aid of his nearest subordinate, endeavors to keep informed of every separate officer’s activity [Page 563] so closely, that he can form a proper judgment of his efficiency and merit. It has been stated that it is the duty of the Riksdag’s attorney-general to take notice of any misconduct in office; besides, the constitution requires the Riksdag at the close of each session to elect a committee of revisers, who must, during the recess, personally investigate auy case of misconduct or neglect of duty that may come to their notice in any department, administration, or office in the kingdom, and make report to the next session.

rank of the service as a profession—efficiency.

There is no doubt but the high respectability and rank of the civil service as a profession in Sweden tend much to induce people to enter it. Otherwise, young men would not be content to take such a long course of study, and then linger for eight or ten years as a supernumerary, as is now the case, at pay scarcely enough for the most economical support of one person, before being appointed, say at the age of thirty-two, to a permanent position. Ten to twenty years back there were more applicants than could be appointed; but in consequence of the higher pay received of late years in commercial and industrial occupations, and the increasing respectability of such employments, there has been and still is less competition for positions in the civil service. Under present circumstances, a person who had taken the requisite examination, and who was competent in respect to moral character and health, would be directly received into the service as a supernumerary. As a rule, of course, no more are accepted than can be made useful in the ordinary business. From all I can learn, however, the service is somewhat overcrowded with supernumeraries; and the opinion seems to be rather general that it would be an improvement to appoint in any one office only such number as could be fully employed therein and adequately paid. Doubtless such a change will be made in the re-organizations which are going on. As yet the state has found no difficulty in filling its “ordinary” or fixed positions with competent men, notwithstanding the greater pecuniary advantages which are to be derived from commercial and business pursuits. It can hardly be said, as yet, that the latter have their pick of talent. While the honorable rank of the service is an important attraction, the certainty of pay and of support in old age constitute, of course, even greater attractions. It is a very old saying in Sweden that “The government’s cakes are thin, but they are sure.” We have seen that at the present day they are not so very thin.

One might suppose that the security and independence of a subordinate officer in not being removable, except after judicial judgment, might render him less obedient. Mr. Von Steyern expresses the opinion, however, that this security has not shown itself to have any injurious influence on the efficiency of officers, and that it is a necessary counterpoise to the light pay in lower grades. He states that the hope of promotion to higher and better-paid positions is always a powerful motive to continued exertion—a stimulus not only to the officer’s zeal and industry, but to continued efforts for the improvement of his capacity and opportunities. He adds: “The Swedish civil-service corps ought on every ground to have good testimonial for zeal, fidelity, and worth.” If the results of administration are a test of the merit of the civil service of a country, it would seem that this opinion is in the main correct.

Finally, if further proof were needed of the importance which is attached to this subject by Swedish statesmen, it would be found in the [Page 564] fact that a civil-service commission has been in session here for two or three years, and at work re-organizing and reforming the service according to the principles heretofore mentioned. In the office of state treasurer it reduced the number of employés from thirty-five to eighteen! It is now at work in the administration of prisons.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,


Note for the Department.—Information which I applied for in July about the civil service of Norway has not, now the 11th of October, been received. I therefore send my dispatch without it. But I hope to receive the information so as to be able to send it off in course of a week or ten days.*



  1. A Swedish “kroner” is equivalent to $0.26.8.
  2. Not received–December 1, 1876.