Victorian London - Organisations - Government Departments - 'The Government Offices' (Punch)


Are the temporary residences of numerous patriotic gentlemen who are anxious to serve their country  - at from 75l. to 5000l. per annum. They are generally very snug berths, and are pleasantly situated in the vicinity of the parks, thus rendering one of the duties of the employés - that of looking out of window - less arduous and irksome. The interiors are usually fitted up in the "severe style of classic coldness;" but the fire-places are admirably constructed for imparting a grateful warmth to the dorsal part of the body when the coat-tails are officially expanded. The chairs are of that peculiar style of upholstery which, partaking of the character of the employment, is appropriately denominated "easy," and are so constructed as not to induce positive sleep, nor to disturb those valuable reveries in which government clerks are in the habit of indulging for the benefit of their country. The desks are of mahogany, elaborately embellished with initial letters and peculiar cyphers in office ink. They are found to be highly suggestive to a negligent correspondent; and from the beauty of the paper and pliability of the quills with which they are furnished, the delinquent has no excuse for any further neglect; they also lend an air of dignified condescension to the acceptance of a polite invitation to dinner, and render impressive and indisputable a downright refusal to aid your tailor in "meeting a bill which he has to take up."
    The paper is of that superior quality known as "Government post, and from the smoothness of its surface forms an admirable cartoon, whereon the Raphaeline Clerk can delineate the portraits of his superiors, heightened by those playful touches of fancy which always characterise the early productions of the imaginative school of artists. The "office-pen" is so well known, that any lengthened description would be supererogatory; but in order to detect the spurious from the genuine, it must be observed that the true government goosequill is selected from that class of pinion- feathers which admit of its being instantly converted into a tooth-pick.
    Government offices are liberally supplied with the daily papers, the careful perusal of which constitutes one of the principal duties of the Clerk whose glorious privilege it is to assist in the regulation of the affairs of his native land.
    The salaries are always arranged upon that gentlemanly scale which connects the greatest remuneration with the least labour.
    The most direct road to the government offices is through a member of parliament who supports the party in power. The independent elector may with confidence look to the Excise-office for the reward which he naturally expects as the consequence of voting according to his conscience. The liberal and faithful butler, who procures discount for his master's bills, may certainly consider the Customs as the Ararat of his old age, while the member of parliament may honestly expect an honourable provision for his younger sons, as a trifling equivalent for the many hours that he has slumbered in the cause of the Ministry in the House of Commons.

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1842