A Tale of One Public Servant

Private citizen Arthur Clennam finally catches Mr. Barnacle in. Mr. Barnacle heads up Circumlocution, a government office with a far-flung reputation as a model for How Not to Do It.

“It is competent,” said Mr. Barnacle, “to any member of the–Public,” mentioning that obscure body with reluctance, as his natural enemy, “to memorialise the Circumlocution Department. Such formalities as are required to be observed in so doing, may be known on application to the proper branch of that Department.”

“Which is the proper branch?”

“I must refer you,” returned Mr. Barnacle, ringing the bell, “to the Department itself for a formal answer to that inquiry.”

“Excuse my mentioning–”

“The Department is accessible to the–Public,” Mr. Barnacle was always checked a little by that word of impertinent signification, “if the–Public approaches it according to the official forms; if the–Public does not approach it according to the official forms, the–Public has itself to blame.”

~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, 1857