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Your letter about Mr. Herman Merivale came before he did, which I think is always an agreeable circumstance in letters of introduction. I was very glad to see him again, and liked him better the more I knew of him. He was a good deal with us, and I did for him gladly what I could during the few days he stayed here. When you see him, pray give him our kind regards, and ask him to come again.

I thank you, too, for a copy of the thirteenth report of the Civil Service Commissioners. It is very interesting and curious. But I did something better with it than look it carefully over, and learn what I could from it. I put it into the hands of an old friend of mine, General Thayer, who made West Point all that it is, and who, though above eighty-four years old, and therefore no longer able to make anything else, is doing what he can to have a similar system of examination for office introduced here. . . . . . But though we need this system more than any other country, it will be difficult to establish it among us. Those who have the power are naturally unwilling to give it up, and will make a good fight to keep it. Still, there are so many more that want to have men both of ability and of honesty to do their work for them in public affairs, that I do not despair The copy you sent me of your report on the subject—going far back, as it does, and giving results—has done good service.

No doubt, like any other system, it has its weak side, when it is brought to the test of a wide experience. The higher offices, I suppose, cannot be reached by it, and for those of less consequence the qualities you can ascertain, by any prearranged system of inquiries, will somewhat restrict the range of your subsequent choice for office, and, therefore, sometimes prevent you from taking the person best fitted for the office you want to fill . . . . . I am told, too, that some persons refuse to submit to examinations for places in India and elsewhere, who have yet good qualifications for them, and would seek them under other circumstances, or might be sought for them. Yet I cannot but think you get a safer class of men, on the whole, even in the Foreign Office, where I suppose your attaches may claim a regular advancement, which may sometimes lead to awkward results. At least, I feel sure that we should in this country do better. . . . .

I hope you will write to me again before long; and that when you do you will tell me about Lady Head and her daughters. Meantime, if you see them, pray give them our affectionate regards. We think of them and speak of them often. Only yesterday I read over Sir Edmund's beautiful verses on a Pan-Athenaic vase.

Yours sincerely,

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