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Electoral Saxony: Report of the Official Thomas Baron von Fritsch to Saxon Prime Minister Heinrich von Brühl on Administrative Reforms and Appointments (April 4, 1762)

Thomas Baron von Fritsch (1700-75) headed the Saxon Restoration Commission [Restaurationskommission] (1762-63), which recommended reforms aimed at healing the country from the deep wounds, notably the Prussian depredations, of the Seven Years War. Here, Fritsch offers his thoughts on the awarding of administrative posts. He argues that highly sought-after positions in the state service should be awarded to the most qualified candidates and not simply given to aristocratic favorites or time-servers.

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How to Recruit Young, Useful People

The Abbé de St. Pierre's intention with the so often recommended selection procedure is highly praiseworthy and concerns the proficient filling of offices, without which nothing good is to be expected from any government. However, because of how human nature is today and, as everything indicates, will be for a long time, this recommendation will never be actually implemented. Even if one could hope for a desirable staffing and could find a supply of good people in these offices, one would still have to presume that, for a time, they would be inclined to select their peers [to serve] alongside them. Thus, one must think of suggestions appropriate to these circumstances.

The test-reports are well intentioned, but they do not do any good, because a useful young person who has not yet had the opportunity to look into things can very easily miss the point, or a bad one [person] can succeed although he does not have the readiness to make a judgment. Furthermore, generally speaking, there is too much leniency towards bunglers.

During my service, my experience with the trust placed in test-reports in many ways turned me away from them. Emperor Carl VII wanted young people, and especially those who asked for a position in the Aulic Council, to be tested by members of this court, since this gave one the opportunity to test not only their memory but primarily their judgment. It would be good if one went to work on the matter with the same earnestness and did not allow personal issues to interfere so much.

Thus, the best advice would be that, in all ranks, as in the military ranks, one should work one’s way up from the bottom and actually show one’s capabilities before being promoted.

The civil offices can be justifiably divided into justice, the police, which I deliberately separate, and finances.

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