AN American artist who, for many years, has pursued his vocation with honor and success in an inland Italian city, and whose love of country has been intensified by foreign experience and long exile, was accustomed to escape at intervals from the treasonable prognostics of his apostate countrymen, and the covert sneers of monarchical sycophants, during the sanguinary struggle now triumphantly closed, and, hastening to the nearest seaport, revive his patriotic faith and hopes by visiting one of our national vessels. The sight of the flag, the order and beauty of the craft, the gallant and courteous companionship of the officers, were all full of welcome and encouragement; and he returned to his work with renewed national sentiment. It is thus that true men and loyal citizens, all the world over, regard the official insignia and representatives of their country in a foreign land ; it is thus that ships of war and accredited agents carry round the earth the eloquent expression of distant nationalities, winning for them the respect of aliens, and bringing to the hearts of their children a sense of protection and an evidence of sympathy alike cheering and sublime. And yet there are those who fail to appreciate the worth of these vital links between far-away lands and our own, whereby our character and career as a nation, to say nothing of our welfare, are manifest with “ victorious clearness.” Men of purely local experience and limited sympathies are apt to imagine that society and government have outgrown what the spirit of the age has modified ; they mistake transition for extinction, and would have us summarily forego that which we have merely changed relations with ; because science has, to so large an extent, conquered superstition, they think the need of organized religion has ceased ; because hygienic discoveries have revealed the abuses of the healing art, they believe the profession of medicine is an imposition ; and because the old mystery and elaborate formulas of diplomacy have, with the advance of true principles, lost their original influence, they declare legislative provision for foreign representation superfluous. Especially is this latter idea proclaimed by our own shallow demagogues; to us, they argue, the “ balance of power,” so long the ideal of European diplomacy, is of no consequence, and the very name of a Holy Alliance an impertinence ; and from such premises, infer that we are absolved from national duties in this regard. Unfortunately, the moral sensibility of such charlatans in civic philosophy is as deficient as their mental scope is narrow; otherwise, noting the superior charm and social ministry of the class of gentlemen who represent foreign governments among us, they would instinctively recognize the civilizing element of modern diplomacy—feel that the intercourse of nations was never before so vital an interest as now, that mutual objects transcend the range of politics and economy, and include the diffusion of knowledge, the amenities of social progress, and the welfare of humanity. With the renewal of our national life on the basis of universal freedom, an opportunity and as impulse for special reforms have arisen among all who feel the obligations, and recognize the scope of enlightened citizenship. And the increased influence we have attained abroad suggests and necessitates ameliorations in American diplomacy. The intercourse of nations, like all other vital interests, has been essentially expanded and modified by the spirit of the age. Unification in Italy and Germany has done away with the necessity for those perpetual arrangements to equalize the power and maintain the integrity of small states, such as, in the Middle Ages, made the alliances of the Italian Republics with Papal and Imperial governments, and,in earlier times, the cities of Greece with each other, a great sphere of political astuteness. Grote and Sismondi have ably illustrated this prolific chapter in the civic history of the Old World; and every popular annalist of our day has derived from its records the most valuable materials, so that the archives of Europe furnish, in the correspondence of ambassadors, the best data of national development, especially in such records as those of the Venetian envoys. While the guarded and sagacious relations of small communities thus formed an excellent school of diplomatic discipline, the Reformation and the French Revolution introduced so many new and conflicting elements into European state-craft, that the very name of foreign ambassador became synonymous with disingenuousness, if not duplicity. The isolation of the United States, long after their independence, rendered it comparatively easy to follow the parting advice of Washington, and keep free from entanglements with the countries of the Old World. We had but one great interest to protect abroad, and that was our commercial welfare. The vast tide of foreign immigration, the increase of travel incident to the new facilities of communication, the political and social sympathies awakened by a great experiment of free government on this side of the ocean, and the prestige acquired by a civil war waged to overthrow an enormous national wrong, and consolidate an immense territory, have given an entirely fresh force and feeling to our foreign relations. We have principles to represent, migratory colonies to protect, mutual interests to cherish, and a national life to vindicate and honor all over the world. Meantime Diplomacy has, like all other human institutions, gradually shared the transitions of society and science; these peerless agencies have emancipated that vocation from the trammels of conventional and insincere methods ; integrity is now more effective than intrigue ; justice recognized as more auspicious than cunning; to consult the tides of humanity rather than the mirage of ambition, to deal with the facts of the time rather than with the schemes of power, to recognize the rights instead of taking advantage of the weakness of states, is felt to be the path, not only of wisdom but of success. Before the days of steam and the telegraph, there was excuse for tedious negotiation, — a reason for evasion and indirectness ; but now that every incident in the life of nations, every official act, every political opinion, civic aspiration, and administrative resource, is promulgated by the press, sped along the chambers of the sea, discussed in salon and mart as well as in cabinet and parliament, only by frank and free utterance can the prosperity of a people be assured, their interests promoted, and their dignity preserved.
Science has made public opinion, — national sentiment, — a power which princes respect; arbitrary will, though sustained by bayonets, is obliged to yield to moral and social influences, which, in feudal times, were comparatively ineffective; hence special pleading and unscrupulous deceit have, in a great measure, lost their effect as diplomatic agencies. The system represented by such names as Kaunitz, Metternich, and Talleyrand is, to a great degree, obsolete; liberal interpretation of rights, enlightened estimates of duty in national affairs, have more and more superseded the intense and subtle self-seeking of states ; traditional policies have lost their significance, and the spirit of the age, so pervasive and triumphant, has altered the game by exalting the motives and enlarging the sphere of diplomacy. Even Austria, so long the synonyme of despotic perversity, gives way to the protest and the plea of progress. Cavour obtained for Italy, so long the spoil of the stranger, the sympathetic recognition of Europe, not by shrewd manœuvres, but through manly and confident use of modern enlightened and humane aspirations ; the vast Middle Kingdom, whose stationary civilization and traditional exclusiveness had, for ages, isolated her people and territory from contact with the western world, throws open the gates of her capital to Christian envoys, and sends an Embassy to all the governments of the earth, to establish free intercourse therewith ; the flag of every nation is welcomed to the long-sealed ports of Japan; and the Turk is dragged along in the procession of reform. The byways as well as the highways of the world are thus opened to enterprise, to curiosity, to co-operative association ; and Social Science, however inadequate in special experiments, has inaugurated a new era in the life of nations, that renders their old laws and limits in relation to each other a mere tradition.
Shakespeare hints the essential scope of diplomacy, — “ take with you free power to ratify, augment, and alter”; he alludes to those “who know not how to use ambassadors,” adjures the authority thus addressed to receive them " according to the honor of the sender, ” and gives the admirable counsel “ to fight with gentle words till time lends friends.”
The philosophy of diplomatic agency is also well stated by Lord Bacon: “ It is better to deal by speech than by letter and by the medium of a third than by a man’s self” ; but his maxims set forth in the Essay on Negotiating are more remarkable for worldly wisdom than comprehensive insight. Montaigne suggests the necessity of discretionary power, when he says that “the functions of an ambassador are not so fixed and precise but that they must, in the various and unforeseen occurrences and accidents that may fall out in the management of a negotiation, be wholly left to their own discretion. They do not simply execute the will of their master, but, by their wisdom, form and model it also.” Precepts like these indicate how special and limited comparatively the function of the diptomate was of old. Now it includes much voluntary service, and is subject to generous interpretation, owing to the social and scientific range it has attained. The courtly smile, the sagacious nod, the contravention, conciliation, and concealment associated with the office, are no longer essential, and the snuff-box, parchmeat, and ribbon have little symbolic meaning. Beyond and often above his specific duties, the ambassador of our day is expected to furnish his country with facts of interest in every sphere of knowledge, to represent not merely authority but culture, and to illustrate, in his own person and influence, progress and the arts of peace as well as the dicta of Power. More or less of this genial ministry has been always recognized. Hence men of letters and science are wisely selected, for the double purpose of doing honor to their country’s reputation and enjoying the best opportunity for research and observation. In English literature many illustrious names are associated with these appointments, from those of Sir Kenelm Digby to Addison, and from Sir William Temple to Mackintosh, Sir Henry Bulwer, and Sir Francis Head. It is incalculable what indirect, but none the less memorable, influence such a foreign representative as Baron Bunsen may exert; the prestige and even the official service being subordinate to the social mission. And a recent English writer has well said that “ to know thoroughly tbe history, literature, and politics of different countries, so far as the length of their residences in each permits, has become the ideal of diplomatists of the new school.” Such an exercise of the authority and improvement of the opportunities incident to the diplomatic career elevates it as a medium of civilization and a mission of humanity; the life of nations is thus made to nourish the sentiment of brotherhood, to promote the cause of science, and to weave alliances from the “ records of the mind” ; it accords with the benign aspirations and responds to the latent appeals of intelligence, culture, and character; and, when associated with benevolent sympathies and high convictions, renders the national representative a social benefactor. Bunsen, when ambassador at Rome, became a disciple of Niebuhr, and was one of the few to appreciate and encourage Leopardi; and, in England, he was the ally of Arnold and Hare ; ostensibly a Prussian envoy, in reality he was an apostle of knowledge, freedom, and truth, ever intent upon diffusing the eternal elements of progress and humanity, by the magnetic earnestness and noble spirit of a Christian scholar; and in his quality of ambassador he did not regard himself, according to the sarcastic definition of Sir Henry Wotton, as one “sent to lie abroad for his country.”
The foreign representatives of nations to - day are social rather than selfish agents, purveyors of knowledge, ministers of civilization, auspicious to their own, without being antagonistic to alien, nationalities. Their office is urbane, their spirit cosmopolitan; and if intrepid in the performance of national duty, they are none the less genial in the observances of international courtesy. The “smooth barbarity of courts ” and the “insolence of office” are not indeed extinct ; but the ameliorations of modern society have harmonized and humanized them. Vast mutual interests have developed in the consciousness, and are recognized in the foreign policy, of nations ; and the history, the position, the resources, and the destiny of the United States give them a prominence and a part therein too evident to be ignored. Unfortunately, many of our members of Congress are men of purely local affinities, devoid of the comprehensive views born of travel and culture, and therefore prone to treat with indifference and ignorance the diplomatic interests of the government,— apparently unconscious of their renewed importance to the national dignity and honor, and their social necessity and possible elevation and utility.
When an important treaty is negotiated, a national right vindicated, the country honored by the conduct or influence of her representative abroad, or even an American citizen protected when in peril of life, liberty, or property, in a foreign country, these legislators acknowledge that an efficient and respected agent of the Republic abroad is very useful and desirable ; that his salary is a profitable investment, and his office no sinecure. But, apart from these exceptional occasions, they are apt to regard foreign missions as the best sphere for economical experiments, — as a branch of the government rather ornamental than requisite, and chiefly valuable as affording convenient means of rewarding partisan services. Indeed, this latter abuse of a class of appointments which, more than any other, should be based on disinterested motives, regulated by absolute considerations of capacity and character, has brought our diplomatic service into disrepute. During the war for the Union, when so much depended on the intelligence and patriotism of our foreign representatives, — when the national honor was assailed, and treason to the flag stalked, with arrogant front, through the aristocratic ranks of Europe, — the nation felt to her heart’s core the vital necessity of selecting for these duties and dignities men of honor, ability, and national sentiment; such men, indeed, saved the country at that memorable crisis, and their services endear their names, and should permanently exalt their office, to the American heart.
One who has been a wanderer on the face of the earth, who has known what it is to be alone in a foreign land, learns to appreciate the signal benefit of citizenship when he encounters the flag or escutcheon of his country, and experiences the protection and advantages afforded by an accredited agent of her authority. Especially in every exigency and vicissitude he finds support and defence in this representative of his nation ; when sick and alone, or when grasped by the power of an alien government, or when desirous of promoting an enterprise, or exploring a region, or searching the arcana of Nature or the archives of History, or forming responsible social relations, — in all the varied occasions when he needs official sanction or social indorsement, there is one spot as sacred to his rights as his native soil, one friend upon whom he has a legitimate claim, one watchword that enables him to assert his individuality and exercise his birthright. And there are circumstances incident to every stranger’s lot, and every absentee’s interest, when the embassy of his country becomes a sanctuary, a court of justice, or a shrine before which the marriage vow, the funeral rite, or the weekly worship have the hallowed influence, if not the local associations, of home. In times of war he seeks and finds security beneath the recognized and respected flag of his native land ; his nationality has a significance never before realized, for it is upheld and guarded by the law of nations ; and, when adequately and worthily represented, links him, by a permanent and powerful agency, to all the honors and privileges of his country.
Much of the usefulness of diplomatic relations is negative, the advantages whereof are not like those of official duties nearer home, constantly recorded and announced ; obligations thus conferred on the citizen often have no testimony but that of private gratitude, and hence inexperienced legislators are apt to ignore them. Yet many a pilgrim never knows how much of love and pride are associated with the land of his birth, how much of latent patriotism glows in his heart, until such faraway tribute and triumph are accorded by the deference of foreign governments, and enjoyed by the errant children of his own. This personal gratification is, however, but an incidental good, compared to the prestige, the consideration, and the influence thus obtained for a nation, the facilities of intercourse, the advancement of mutual interests, the desirable knowledge and faith propagated by intelligent and faithful representative agents. Herein the social amelioration of the world has a civic demonstration ; the brotherhood of man is recognized as a political fact, the supremacy of law is illustrated as a cosmopolitan principle, and the primitive virtue of hospitality rises to national significance. In this broad and social light, Diplomacy is a great element of Civilization ; and just in proportion as our country is exempt from the dynastic necessities which have dwarfed and perverted it in Europe, is she bound, in the interests of freedom and education, to contribute generously and graciously thereto.
And this conviction suggests the necessity of a more liberal provision for our diplomatic system, which is due to the honor of a vast and prosperous country, to a just American pride, to the increased costliness of living and entertainment abroad. It has long been a matter of publicity, that the leading missions of the United States can, with the present salaries, be filled only by men of large private means ; in those of the second class the salaries are rarely equal to the expenses. It is a paltry economy, unworthy a great nation, to deny foreign representatives the means to maintain their households with dignity and comfort, or to exercise a liberal hospitality. Whatever places them on a basis inferior to that of their brother diplomates should be deprecated by every true patriot. If represented at all, let our nation be represented in no niggardly fashion ; without extravagance or ostentation, but, at least, in that refined and prosperous style which should characterize a people in whom self-respect is engendered by freedom and industry; otherwise we pay an equivocal compliment to the government with whom we exchange the amenities of official intercourse. On the same principle, the absurd cavillings in regard to diplomatic costume should be ignored by virtue of the law of courtesy prescribed in our instructions to envoys, that, in matters of etiquette, the minister, chargè, or consul shall conform to the customs of the court or country to which he is accredited; it is simply vulgar to insist on intruding one’s idea of dress, as a guest, in the face of precedent.
An American sojourning along the shores of the Mediterranean, thirty years ago, had a memorable experience of the incongruities of our diplomatic system. At one post he found a gentleman of alien birth exercising consular functions, with hospitable courtesy, merely to enjoy the opportunities thus secured of frequent association with the citizens of a land he honored and loved. At another the intemperate habits or ignorant assumption of a consul of native birth made him blush for his citizenship ; while, as he looked from a consular mansion on the destructive feats of a Sicilian mob, goaded to revolution by pestilence, ascribed, in their savage ignorance, to wells poisoned by their rulers, or walked amid the batteries of a British fort, side by side with his nation’s official representative, a glow of pride and a consciousness of security under the honored flag of his distant home made him realize, as never before, its auspicious significance. But too often such honest elation was subdued by the contrast between the intelligent efficiency, the personal accomplishments, and the thorough fitness of the other members of the diplomatic corps and our own. If the necessity of reform was then so apparent, it is infinitely more so now, when the standard of official culture is higher, the number of our errant countrymen so much larger, and the fusion of states, as well as social interests, so continuous and prevalent, as to make enlightened and humanitarian diplomatists the vanguard in the “ federation of the world.”
It requires no elaborate argument to prove that the normal benefits and the legitimate utility of Diplomacy, in the actual condition of the world, depends mainly upon the character and equipment of national representatives. Whatever may have been the requisites of the past, those of the present are obvious. Probity, knowledge, and patriotism are essential qualifications; a certain sympathy with liberal studies, and some grace of manner and accomplishment of mind, are indispensable. Historical acquisitions, in order to be en rapport with previous relations, selfrespect, and broad views are implied in such a position. Steady and impartial observation, free though cautious correspondence, friendly, social relations with the members of the diplomatic body at the place of residence,” are designated in the regular instructions to envoys ; and the duty is prescribed of ‘‘transmitting such information relating to the government, finances, commerce, arts, sciences, and condition of the countries where they reside as they may deem useful.” Such functions are only possible for men of education, judgment, industry, and tact; and to secure these, the system should be progressive. The superiority of European diplomats is owing to their vocation being a recognized official career with grades, advancement, and preparation, as well as permanence assured. Legal and linguistic training and social efficiency are more than ever desirable. Lord Clarendon has shown that the importance of the diplomatic branch of government has increased within the last decade; that its standard has risen, and its capabilities grown with the progress of science and society ; and the time has arrived when its higher claims should be practically realized in our country.
The needed reforms and the argument therefor are clearly stated by the representative in Congress who advocated and reported the bill to “regulate the civil service of the United States, and promote the efficiency thereof. A brief extract will illustrate his reasoning :—
“ We see at every change of admini.grati t over fifty thousand persons removed from office to make way for others of a diiterent partisan creed, every one of whom will owe his appointment to something other than personal merit. And again, all these are liable to be removed, and a similar class of successors appointed, at the next change of party. If patriotism ever prompted the desire for office, such a system would tend to eradicate that sentiment. It tends to weaken all the obligations of society for the purpose of strengthening a mere party ; it elevates private interests above the welfare of the state ; it tends to disintegrate the political fabric ; and at last, as we have felt in our bitter experience, it destroys allegiance itself. That element which invigorates a monarchy corrupts the life of a republic.
“ Social standing and consideration, by reason of such employment, is not thought of. The administration is always saying, in effect, to each of its civil servants : ‘ Your skill, your experience, your long and faithful service, are as nothing to us ; we can discharge you to-morrow, and at once find a hundred others who will answer our purposes as well.' Each one thus suffers a standing discredit. His place is due to accident, and gives him no title to respect. It implies, rather, a damaged reputation, and a character that can be tampered with. A tide-waiter can be nothing more, nor is he sure of even being that, although he proves to be the most faithful and capable of tidewaiters. If he does net bury his talent himself, it is buried for him, and his possible skill in making usance by it can avail him nothing. No grades, no promotions, no hopes, no honors, no rewards, are open to the most faithful, diligent, and honest officer, and while the incentive to excellence in service which these might give is wholly lost, his office itself gives him no character or social position. But if by merit and fidelity the tide - waiter can win the higher places in the customs, his place, himself, and the service itself acquire respectability. The cadet of either of the warlike services has a prestige in this regard over even the higher grades of the civil service. All doors may be open to him, for his uniform is evidence of his education, character, and of an opening career. Although the lowest subaltern, he may become a general or an admiral. A lieutenant or an ensign has a standing in society, by virtue of his being in the service of the government, but there is no element of respectability in the service of a clerk, inspector, or special agent, which would entitle him to be recognized, even by a member of Congress. I cannot believe that the reason of this is that the civil service is in itself less worthy of respect than the military, but is it not because the element of honor, which is inherent in the one, has not hitherto been added to the other ? All serve alike under the flag ; and while the glory cannot be equal, no discredit should be cast on either class of public servants by reason of their service.”1
The bill, the necessity and advantages of which are thus ably set forth, provides for the appointment by the President, with the consent of the Senate, of a Board of Four Commissioners, with the Vice-President as their head, who shall prescribe the qualifications for civil offices, provide for the examination of candidates therefor, and periods and conditions of probation, and report rules and precedents ; the candidate who stands highest to have the preference.
No one unfamiliar with the diplomatic correspondence of the United States can estimate the great conveniences and facilities which faithful government agents afford American citizens. The legal guaranties in the transaction of business abroad, the immense saving of time and money in cases of contested local rights and personal claims, the maintenance of the national influence and honor, and the suggestions and information of vital importance only to be obtained at head-quarters and through, official authority, are fruits of diplomatic service that make the record one of patriotic interest and practical value of which few of our citizens are aware. In some cases, where the official representative is not of adequate rank to ar-
range disputes and decide questions in his own person, the voluminous correspondence of interested parties, and the expense of sending a ship of war to the scene, emphatically indicate the false economy which, in failing to provide a minister, incurs, in a few weeks, an expense which would have maintained him for years. Occasionally, also, when grave international problems are discussed, or political changes, and military or commercial facts cited or described, these reports abound in luminous expositions and interesting details, alike creditable to the vigilance, ability, and humane sympathies of the writers, and of rare worth and interest to our government and people. When a foreign war is being waged, a treaty under consideration, a revolution imminent or in progress, — when a citizen is despoiled of liberty, a fugitive from justice is running the gauntlet of our legations,— when an equitable pecuniary claim is withheld, or the decease of an eminent or wealthy fellow-countrymen demands the active protection of the law of nations, or when this law is violated, and only prompt and judicious explanation can ward off serious consequences, and when scientific or mercantile enterprise or emigration calls for special arrangements, with the sanction of foreign rulers, — in these and other exigencies the labors and influence of the diplomatist impress the public as an invaluable civil economy, and benignant as well as indispensable provision of civilization ; but it should be remembered that, beyond these conspicuous duties and sometimes brilliant achievements, which attain historical prominence, there are the less-known but equally important ministries to the country’s welfare, fulfilled in obedience to private needs, in the use of social privileges only attainable through, official claims, in the protective and hospitable exercise of diplomatic functions, so requisite for the stranger, and so grateful to the citizen, to whom his passport is not only a shield but thus becomes the most auspicious letter of introduction and a national indorsement.
The increased interest in, and more accurate knowledge of, our country in Europe of late is apparent from the greater attention and sympathy accorded the United States by the foreign press ; it is evidenced by the enthusiastic welcome bestowed in every port and city upon our naval hero, and the honors lavished on our household poet; it is manifest in the candid and cordial acknowledgment of official merit and private enterprise, whether expressed in the parting compliments paid a retiring minister, or the prandial honors offered to the patient and persistent American actuary of the Atlantic telegraph ; and it finds expression in hospitality on one side of the Channel, and the liberal interpretation of our national proclivities by publicists on the other. All these signs of the times give emphasis to our diplomatic influence, attest its renewed importance, and suggest its improvement. The London Spectator, alluding to our late minister at the Court of St. James, remarks : —
“We can conceive of no career more likely to impress upon a public which is apt at times to talk with silly fluency of the superfluousness, in these days of popular government, of embassies and ambassadors, than the career of the Ambassador who for seven years has had to manage the relations of the two most popular governments on the globe, and but for whose personal wisdom and tact those two popular governments would probably at this moment be peppering each other with proclamations, orders in council, general orders, turret guns, and all the elaborate missiles of scientific war.”
A leading British statesman, in a recent discussion of the English diplomatic system, declared in Parliament that, for every pound sterling paid to their foreign ministers, tens of thousands of pounds were saved to the treasury, by the avoidance of entangling disputes and misunderstandings between subjects abroad, which, through personal interviews between the ministers, in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, were arranged amicably, and by the strengthening of national good-will and developing commercial relations. In a subsequent debate, it was shown that the increased facilities of intercourse had added largely to the labor and expense of foreign representatives, while they increased the need and enlarged the sphere of their duties.
“ After the acquisition of Russian America,” says La Presse, “which increases their domains on the Pacific, the Americans have purchased from Denmark the island of St. Thomas. They annex, also, by the same process, the Bay of Samana. Then, as to Mexico, it is indisputable that one of the causes of the fall of Maximilian was, at first the covert, and afterwards open opposition of the Washington Cabinet; quite lately, General Prim was in treaty therewith to cede the pearl of the Antilles,— Cuba. Even in South America, the Starry Banner presents itself as the guardian of the little local republics against European pretensions. There, also, the Monroe doctrine will produce its effects. The impartial America of Washington is dead. There is, now-adays, on the other side of the Atlantic, a people that wishes to extend its action over the whole world, and which, with this object, tends to become more and more Unitarian.” Thus, increase of territory and neighborhood seems to necessitate fresh wisdom in our diplomatic system, and to render it alike expedient, and morally as well as politically desirable that in this, as in every other national sphere of action, the solemn purpose and earnest aim of our government and people should be to have, always and everywhere, the right man in the right place.
Our brief diplomatic history opened most auspiciously with the name, character, and influence of Benjamin Franklin, who, to this day, is the most complete representative American, and is regarded abroad as the peerless expositor of the genius of our institutions ; the philosopher and republican gaze fondly on his portrait at Versailles; young Italy buys his autobiography at a bookstall in Florence ; and the London printer and Berlin savant cherish the memory of Ids eminent success, attained through frugality and self-reliance, and his experimental research in a sphere of natural phenomena whose later developments are among the greatest marvels of science. The eulogies of Turgot and Helvetius of old are echoed by those of Brougham and Laboulaye to-day. To the bold attacks on superstition whereby Voltaire opened the way for the reception of vital truths and to the vindication of the original and pervasive sentiments of humanity, which made Rousseau the pioneer of social reform, Franklin added the practical, common-sense, and humanitarian element which gave to these efficiency; his discoveries as a natural philosopher, his example as a free citizen, and his bonhomie and simple personal habits gave prestige and effect to his services as an ambassador. As agent for the Colonies in London, as one of the Committee of Secret Correspondence during the Revolution, as the medium of the French Alliance, by his vigilance, his moderation, his patience, wisdom, firmness, and loyalty, he secured us European recognition and the sinews of war; while his social attractiveness and solidity of character were, with rare singleness of purpose, made to subserve patriotic ends. The elder Adams with his assiduous energy, Jay with his intrepid rectitude, Gouverneur Morris with his comprehensive mind and high tone, and Deane with his conciliatory tact, ushered in our foreign representation with dignity and moral emphasis. These men of intellectual scope and culture, of disinterested self-devotion, of legal acumen, republican faith, and courteous manners, gained for America, at the hour of her civic birth, the confidence and respect of the world. Nor were their immediate successors unworthy of such illustrious forerunners, for on the roll of our early ambassadors we read with justifiable pride such names as Rufus King, William Pinckney, Albert Gallatin, and Edward Livingston, followed at a subsequent era by those of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, —names enshrined in the national heart and radiant on the page of history. Thenceforth the list becomes incongruous ; here and there, now and then, preserving its original distinction, as worthily representative of a free and intelligent people, but too often degraded by mere political fortune-hunters, whose careers reflect no credit and whose appointments accuse the integrity of those in power. Not without memorable exceptions, however, is this perversion of diplomatic opportunities ; we have fortunately had men always on the floor of Congress, and in the Executive chair and the Department of State, who “ have kept steadily in view the honor and prosperity of the whole country,” and, rising above partisan objects, have had the civic wisdom and courage to select as American ambassadors, envoys, and official agents, citizens of approved character and devoted to liberal studies, whose personal influence abroad has been auspicious, and whose diplomatic station has gained lustre and utility from their renown as intellectual benefactors. In this noble phalanx we can rank with patriotic satisfaction such men as Webster and Wheaton, Legarè and the Everetts, Bancroft, Irving, Motley, Walsh, Fay, Marsh, and Hawthorne; and while the social and official eminence of Bowdoin, Middleton, Rush, McLean, and others is gratefully remembered, the later and essential services of Charles Francis Adams and his national compeers in the diplomatic corps, during the late war, have already an historical recognition.
In what may be called the incidental fruits of diplomatic opportunities we are not without gratifying evidence, where these appointments have been judiciously made. Thus our graceful pioneer author gathered materials for his cherished bequest of literature; official position in England and Spain was of great practical value to Irving as an author ; while the scholarship of Alexander H. Everett made him, when American minister in the latter country, an excellent purveyor for Prescott. The standard treatise on International Law perhaps would never have been undertaken, and certainly not so ably achieved, but for Wheaton’s diplomatic position at Copenhagen and Berlin. Soon after the Revolution the public spirit of such men as Humphreys and Barlow, while holding office abroad, made them benign coadjutors in many desirable enterprises ; the former first imported our best breed of sheep, and the latter promoted the success of Fulton’s inventions. Bancroft gleaned an historical harvest while at the Court of St. James ; Hawthorne gave us the most finished picture of England since the SketchBook while consul at Liverpool ; Kinney held counsel with Cavour and D’Azeglio at Turin, during the auspicious epoch of Italian unification, bringing to their encouragement, not only republican sympathy, but many educational and civic precedents to guide the experimental state reforms. From Peru, South America, China, the East, and many parts of Western Europe, interesting and valuable researches and records of observation have employed the leisure, and honored the offices, of our diplomatic representatives ; while one of the most popular and creditable histories which has enriched the literature of the day owes its existence in no small degree to the facilities afforded its accomplished author, by his residence and position abroad as a Minister of the United States. These and similar facts point to the expediency and desirableness, other things being equal, of selecting for such appointments scholars and men of science or lettered aptitudes. It is one of the few methods incident to our institutions, whereby not only a race of gentlemen, but a class of disinterested, social, artistic, and literary men can be fostered and become intellectual benefactors as well as patriotic representatives of our country.
As we write, a gifted native sculptor is putting the finishing touches to a statue of Commodore Matthew Perry, to commemorate the Expedition by which Japan was opened to the commerce of the world; and a group of Orientals are on a pilgrimage to the nations, with treaties of comity and trade, under the guidance and guardianship of an American selected for the office by their government from among the diplomatists of Europe, not less because of his personal qualifications, than in recognition of the independent position, harmonious relations, and liberal policy of his country ; while the educational and economical progress of Greece, so dear to the American scholar, and so identified with our Christian enterprise, have just received the national recognition which the last and noblest offspring of Time owes to the primeval source of its culture, by the establishment of a mission at Athens, and the cordial reception of a minister from that classic land. In view of such facts, and in the recent efforts to elevate and systematize our diplomacy, we have reason to hope that the abuses which have succeeded its brilliant initiation will be reformed ; that the more enlightened interpretations of the principles of international law, and the fresh sense of national responsibility induced by the costly sacrifices and second birth of the Republic, will inspire our legislators to aim at securing in the future, what the historian of our early diplomacy claimed therefor, that “we entered into the old and venerable circle of nations in no vulgar spirit, but calmly, as conscious of right, resolutely, as conscious of strength, gravely, as conscious of duty,”
- Speech of Hon. Thomas A. Jenckes of Rhode Island, May 14th, 1868.↩