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A CERTAIN Government office having a
more than usual need of some new ideas, and
wishing to obtain them from the collective
mind of the country, consulted Mr. Trappem,
the official solicitora gentleman of great
experienceon the subject. "A new idea,"
said he, "is not the only thing you will want;
these new ideas, to be worth anything, must
be reduced to practical demonstration, by
models, plans, or experiments. This will cost
much time, labour, and money, and be
attended through its progress with many
disappointments. The rule, therefore, is to
throw it open to the public. Let the inventive
spirits of the whole public be set to work;
let them make the calculations, designs,
models, plans; let them try all the
experiments at their own expense; let them all
be encouraged to proceed by those suggestions
which are sure to excite the greatest hopes
and the utmost emulation, without committing
the Honourable Board to anything. When
at length two or three succeed, then the
Honourable Board steps in, and taking a bit
from one, and a bit from another, but the
whole, or chief part, from no one in a direct
way, rejects them all individually and collectively,
and escapes all claims and contingencies.
A few compliments, enough to keep alive
hope, and at the same time keep the best men
quiet, should finally be held out, and the
competitors may then be safely left to long delays
and the course of events. That's the way."

Too true, Mr. Trappemthat is the way; and
many a Government office, or other imposing
array of Committee-men, and Honourable
Boards, have practised this same expedient
upon the inventive genius and collective
knowledge and talent of the public. The last
instances which deserve to be recorded, not merely
because they are the most recent, but rather on
account of their magnitude and completeness,
are the invitations to competitors for models
and plans, issued by the Metropolitan
Commissioners of Sewers,—and by the Commissioners
of the Exhibition of Industry of all Nations.

In order to supersede prevaricating denials
and evasions of what we have to say concerning
the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers,
it may be as well to premise that they have
for some time adopted the cunning "fence"
of a "Committee of Commissioners," behind
which the Commissioners make a dodge on all
difficult, alarming, and responsible occasions.
When all is safe, and clear, and sunshiny, it is
the Commissioners who have done the thing;
directly matters look awkward, and a bad
business, the diplomatic bo-peeps leap away
from the bursting cloudsand the Committee
of Commissioners have done it all, for which
the main body of the Right Honourable Board
is by no means responsible. A similar
manœuvre has been adopted by the
Commissioners of the Exhibition of Industry, who
have got two Committees to screen them.

Now, in the name of all worthily striving
spirits,—of all those who have devoted their
talents, time, and money to the production of
models, designs, or plans,—of all those who
have laboured hard by day or by night,
perhaps amidst other arduous and necessary
avocations,—in the name of all those, who,
possessing real knowledge and skill, have
naturally and inevitably been led to indulge
in high hopes, if not of entire success, at least
of fair play and of some advantage to
themselves in reward, remuneration for reasonable
and necessary expenses incurred, or, at any
rate, in receiving honourable mention,—and,
finally, in the name of common justice, we do
most loudly and earnestly protest against all
these and similar appeals to the collective
intellect of the public, unless conducted upon
some liberal and definite method of compensation
for all eminently meritorious labours.

That one great prizeeither as a substantial
tribute, or in the exclusive adoption of an
entire planshould be awarded to one man,
and that the half-dozen next to him in merit,
perhaps equal or superior, should derive no
benefit at all, is manifestly a most clumsy and
unjust arrangement. But when we find great
appeals to the public, nobly answered, and
yet no one work selected as the work desired,
no one rewardedbut every one used and
got rid ofthen, indeed, we see an abuse of
that kind which ought to be most fully
exposed, so that it may serve as a warning in
future "to all whom it may concern."

It is curious to observe how much more
quickly some nations, as well as individuals,
take a hint than others. Among the models
and plans sent in answer to the public invitation
of the Commissioners of the Exhibition
of Industry, there are a great many, and of a
most excellent kind, from our sprightly and
sanguine friends, the Frenchwhile,
notwithstanding the chief originator and patron
is from the Faderland, not one of those who
are more especially distinguished as entitled
to the highest honours, is from Germany!
Out of the eighteen names thus selected, no
less than twelve are Frenchmen; four are
English; one Austrian; and a solitary Dutchman.
In all Prussia, there was not found one
man to venture. It would seem as though
they were aware of these tricks. But how is
it that so few of our own countrymen are thus
distinguished and complimented? Is it
because they are deficient in the requisite talent,
or do they not take sufficient interest in the
matter? Surely neither of these reasons will
be satisfactory to account for the fact of our
native architects and designers having been
so palpably beaten at this first trial of skill.
We shall probably be told that the best men
of France have entered the lists in this
competition; whereas our best men have stood
aloof. Why is this? May it not be that
"old birds are not caught with chaff?" Our
best men are generally well employed, and it
is not worth their while to waste their time