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lives and much property by our ministers in such outly-
ing parts of the world as Turkey and China, the promo-
tion of American commercial and other interests, and the
securing of information which has been precious to in-
numerable American enterprises, it seems incontestable
that our diplomatic service ought not to be left in its
present slipshod condition. It ought to be put on the best
and most effective footing possible, so that everywhere
the men we send forth to support and advance the mani-
fold interests of our country shall be thoroughly well
equipped and provided for. To this end the permanent
possession of a suitable house or apartment in every cap-
ital is the foremost and most elementary of necessities.

And while such a provision is the first thing, it would
be wise to add, as other nations do, a moderate allowance
for furniture, and for keeping the embassy or legation
properly cared for during the interim between the de-
parture of one representative and the arrival of another.

If this were done, the prestige of the American name
and the effectiveness of the service would be vastly im-
proved, and diplomatic posts would be no longer so oner-
ous and, indeed, ruinous as they have been to some of the
best men we have sent abroad.

And in order fully to free my mind I will add that,
while the provision for a proper embassy or legation
building is the first of all things necessary, it might also
be well to increase somewhat the salaries of our represen-
tatives abroad. These may seem large even at present;
but the cost of living has greatly increased since they
were fixed, and the special financial demands upon an
ambassador or minister at any of the most important
posts are always far beyond the present salary. It is
utterly impossible for an American diplomatic represen-
tative to do his duty upon the salary now given, even
while living on the most moderate scale known in the
diplomatic corps. To attempt to do so would deprive him


of all opportunity to exercise that friendly, personal,
social influence which is so important an element in his

To sum up my suggestions as to this part of the sub-
ject, I should say: First, that, as a rule, there should be
provided at each diplomatic post where the United States
has a representative a spacious and suitable house, either
bought by our government or taken on a long lease ; and
that there should be a small appropriation each year for
maintaining it as regards furniture, care, etc. Secondly,
that American representatives of the highest grade
namely, ambassadors should have a salary of at least
$25,000 a year; and that diplomatic representatives of
lower grade should have their salaries raised in the same
proportion. Thirdly, that an additional number of sec-
retaries and attaches should be provided in the manner
and for the reasons above recommended.

If the carrying out of these reforms should require an
appropriation to the diplomatic service fifty per cent.
higher than it now is, which is an amount greater than
would really be required by all the expenditures I pro-
pose, including interest upon the purchase money of ap-
propriate quarters for our representatives abroad, the
total additional cost to each citizen of the United States
would be less than half a cent each year.

The first result of these and other reforms which I
have indicated, beginning with what is of the very first
importance, provision for a proper house or apartment
in every capital, would certainly be increased respect
for the United States and increased effectiveness of its
foreign representatives.

As to the other reforms, such as suitable requirements
for secretaryships, and proper promotion throughout the
whole service, they would vastly increase its attractive-
ness, in all its grades, to the very men whom the country
most needs. They would open to young men in our uni-
versities and colleges a most honorable career, leading
such institutions to establish courses of instruction with

II. 24


reference to such a service courses which were estab-
lished long since in Germany, but which have arrived
nearest perfection in two of our sister republics at the
University of Zurich in Switzerland, and in the ]cole
Libre des Sciences Politiques in Paris.

It seems certain that a diplomatic service established
and maintained in the manner here indicated would not
only vastly increase the prestige and influence of the
United States among her sister nations, but, purely from
a commercial point of view, would amply repay us. To
have in diplomatic positions at the yarious capitals men
thoroughly well fitted not only as regards character and
intellect, but also as regards experience and acquaintance,
and to have them so provided for as to become the social
equals of their colleagues, would be, from every point
of view, of the greatest advantage to our country mate-
rially and politically, and would give strength to our
policy throughout the world.

And, finally, to a matter worth mentioning only because
it has at sundry times and in divers manners been comi-
cally argued and curiously misrepresented the question
as to a diplomatic uniform.

As regards any principle involved, I have never been
able to see any reason, a priori, why, if we have a uniform
for our military service and another for our naval ser-
vice, we may not have one for our diplomatic service.
It has, indeed, been asserted by sundry orators dear
to the galleries, as well as by various "funny-column"
men, that such a uniform is that of a lackey ; but this as-
sertion loses force when one reflects on the solemn fact
that "plain evening dress," which these partizans of
Jeffersonian simplicity laud and magnify, and which is
the only alternative to a uniform, is worn by table-waiters
the world over.

Yet, having conceded so much, truth compels me to add
that, having myself never worn anything save "plain
evening dress" at any court to which I have been ac-
credited, or at any function which I have attended, I


have never been able to discover the slightest disadvan-
tage to my country or myself from that fact.

Colleagues of mine, clad in resplendent uniforms, have,
indeed, on more than one occasion congratulated me on
being allowed a more simple and comfortable costume;
and though such expressions are, of course, to be taken
with some grains of allowance, I have congratulated my-
self with the deepest sincerity on my freedom from what
seems to me a most tiresome yoke.

The discussion of a question of such vast importance
to the censors above referred to would be inadequate
were mention not made of a stumbling-block which does
not seem to have been adequately considered by those
who propose a return to the earlier practice of our Re-
public and this is, that the uniform is, at any Euro-
pean court, but a poor thing unless it bears some evi-
dence of distinguished service, in the shape of stars,
crosses, ribbons, and the like. A British ambassador, or
minister plenipotentiary, in official uniform, but without
the ribbon or star of the Bath or other honorable order,
would appear to little advantage indeed. A represen-
tative of the French Republic would certainly prefer to
wear the plainest dress rather than the most splendid
uniform unadorned by the insignia of the Legion of
Honor, and, in a general way, the same may be said of
the representatives of all nations which approve the wear-
ing of a diplomatic uniform.

But our own Republic bestows no such ' ' decorations, ' '
and allows none of its representatives, during their term
of office, to receive them; so that, if put into uniform,
these representatives must appear to the great mass of
beholders as really of inferior quality, undistinguished
by any adornments which indicate good service.

All this difficulty our present practice avoids. The
American ambassador, or minister, is known at once
by the fact that he alone wears plain evening dress ; and
this fact, as well as the absence of decorations, being
recognized as in simple conformity with the ideas and


customs of his country, rather adds to his prestige than
diminishes it, as far as I have been able to discover.
Perhaps the well-known case of Lord Castlereagh at the
Congress of Vienna is in point. In the midst of the
throng of his colleagues, all of them most gorgeously ar-
rayed in uniforms, stars, and decorations of every sort,
he appeared in the simplest evening attire; and the at-
tention of Metternich being called to this fact, that much
experienced, infinitely bespangled statesman answered,
"Ma foil il est Men distingue."

Of course we ought to give due weight to the example
set by Benjamin Franklin when presented to Louis XVI,
and the fact that his simple shoe-strings nearly threw
the court chamberlains into fainting-fits, and that his
plain dress had an enormous influence on public opinion ;
but, alas ! we have also to take account of the statement
by an eminent critic to the effect that Franklin, at his
previous presentation to Louis XV, had worn court dress,
and that he wore similar gorgeous attire at various other
public functions, with the inference that he was prevented
from doing so, when received by Louis XVI, only by the
fact that somehow his court dress was inaccessible. 1

All these facts, conflicting, but more or less pertinent,
being duly considered, I would have the rule regarding
dress remain as it is, save in the rare cases when the
sovereign of a country, at some special function, requests
some modification of it. In such case the Secretary of
State might, one would suppose, be allowed to grant a
dispensation from the ordinary rule without any danger
to American liberty.

For the more profound considerations which this vast
subject suggests, the judicious reader may well consult
" Sartor Resartus."

1 See Sainte-Beuve, " Causeries du Lundi," Vol. VII, Article of
November 29, 1852.




FROM my boyhood I have been fond of travel, and
at times this fondness has been of great use to me.
My constitution, though never robust, has thus far proved
elastic, and whenever I have at last felt decidedly the
worse for overwork or care, the best of all medicines
has been an excursion, longer or shorter, in our own
country or in some other. Thus it has happened that,
besides journeys into nearly every part of the United
States, and official residences in Russia, France, Ger-
many, and the West Indies, I have made frequent visits
to Europe among them ten or twelve to Italy, and even
more to Germany, France, and England, besides excur-
sions into the Scandinavian countries, Egypt, Greece, and
Turkey. To most of these I have alluded in other chap-
ters; but there are a few remaining possibly worthy of

The first of these journeys was taken when I went with
my father and mother from the little country town where
we then lived to Syracuse, Buffalo, and Niagara. This
must have been in 1838, when I was about six years of
age. Every step of it interested me keenly. Like the
shop-girl in ^mile Souvestre's story, who journeyed
from Paris to St. Cloud, I was ' ' amazed to find the world
so large." Syracuse, which now has about one hundred
and twenty thousand inhabitants, had then, perhaps, five
thousand; the railways which were afterward consoli-
dated into the New York Central were not yet built, and



we traveled mainly upon the canal, though at times over
wretchedly muddy roads. Niagara made a great im-
pression upon me, and Buffalo, with its steamers, seemed
as great then as London seems now.

Four years later, in 1842, I was taken to the hills of
middle Massachusetts to visit my great-grandfather and
great-grandmother, and thence to Boston, where Faneuil
Hall, the Bunker Hill Monument, Harvard College, and
Mount Auburn greatly impressed me. Eeturning home,
we came by steamer through the Sound to the city of New
York, and stayed at a hotel near Trinity Church, which
was then a little south of the central part of the city.
On another visit, somewhat later, we were lodged at the
Astor House, near the City Hall, which was then at the
very center of everything, and thence took excursions
far northward into the uttermost parts of the city, and
even beyond it, to see the newly erected Grace Church
and the reservoir at Forty-second Street, which were
among the wonders of the town. Most of all was I im-
pressed by the service in the newly erected Trinity
Church. The idea uppermost in my mind was that here
was a building which was to last for hundreds of years,
and that the figures in the storied windows above the altar
would look down upon new generations of worshipers,
centuries after I, with all those living, should have passed
away. My feeling for religious music was then, as since,
very deep ; and the organ of Trinity gave satisfaction to
this feeling ; the tremulous ground-tone of the great pedal
diapasons thrilling me through and through.

At this period, about 1843, began my visits with the
family to Saratoga. My grandfather, years before, had
derived benefit from its waters, and the tradition of this,
as well as the fact that my father there met socially his
business correspondents from different parts of the State,
led to our going year after year. Drinking the waters,
taking life easily upon the piazzas of the great hotels
festooned with Virginia creepers, and driving to the lake,
formed then, as now, the main occupations of the day.

IN THE UNITED STATES -1838 -1875 377

But there was then one thing which has now ceased: in
many of the greater hotels public prayers were held every
evening, some eminent clergyman officiating ; and a leader
in these services was David Leavitt, a famous New York
bank president, shrewd, but pious. Now and then, as
the political campaigns drew on, we had speeches from
eminent statesmen; and I give in the chapters on
"My Religion" reminiscences of speeches on religious
subjects made by Archbishop Hughes and Father Ga-
vazzi. An occasional visit from Washington Irving or
Senator (afterward President) Buchanan, as well as
other men of light and leading, aroused my tendencies
toward hero-worship ; but perhaps the event most vividly
stamped into my memory was the parade of Mme. Jumel.
One afternoon at that period she appeared in the streets
of Saratoga in an open coach-and-four, her horses rid-
den by gaily dressed postilions. This was regarded by
very many visitors as an affront not merely to good
morals, but to patriotism, for she had the fame of
having been in relations, more intimate than edifying,
with Aaron Burr, who was widely considered as a traitor
to his country as well as the murderer of Alexander
Hamilton; and on the second day of her parade, an-
other carriage, with four horses and postilions, in all
respects like her own, followed her wherever she went,
and sometimes crossed her path: but this carriage con-
tained an enormous negro, black and glossy, a porter
at one of the hotels, dressed in the height of fashion,
who very gravely rose and doffed his hat to the ap-
plauding multitudes on either side of the way. Mme.
Jumel and her friends were, of course, furious; and it
was said that her postilions would in future be armed
with pistols and directed to fire upon the rival equi-
page should it again get in their way. But no catastro-
phe occurred ; Mme. Jumel took one or two more drives,
and that was the end of it.

In my college days, from 1849 to 1853, going to and
from New Haven, I frequently passed through New York,


and the progress of the city northward since my earlier
visits was shown by the fact that the best hotel nearest
the center of business had become first the Irving House,
just at the upper end of the City Hall Park, and later the
St. Nicholas and Metropolitan hotels, some distance up
Broadway. Staying in 1853 at a hotel looking out upon
what was to be Madison Square, I noticed that all north
of that was comparatively vacant, save here and there a
few houses and churches.

Going abroad shortly afterward, I gave three years to
my attacheship and student life in Europe, traveling
across the continent to St. Petersburg and back, as well as
through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy, all of
which were then under the old regime of disunion and
despotism. To these journeys I refer elsewhere.

Interesting to me, after my return home, were visits to
Chicago in 1858 and at various times afterward. At my
first visits the city was wretchedly unkempt. Workmen
were raising its grade, and their mode of doing this was
remarkable. Under lines of brick and stone houses, in
street after street, screws were placed; and, large forces
of men working at these, the vast buildings went up
steadily. My first stay was at the Tremont House, then
a famous hostelry ; and during the whole of my visit the
enormous establishment, several stories in height, was
going on as usual, though it was all open beneath and
rising in the air perceptibly every day. Years afterward,
when Mr. George Pullman had become deservedly one
of the powers of Chicago, he gave me a dinner, at which
I had the pleasure of meeting a large number of the
most energetic and distinguished men of the city. Be-
ing asked by a guest as to the time when I first visited
Chicago, I stated the facts above given, when my inter-
locutor remarked, "Yes, and if you had gone down into
the cellar beneath the Tremont House you would have
found our host working at one of the jack-screws." I
had already an admiration for Mr. Pullman ; for he had
told me of his creation of the Pullman cars, and had

IN THE UNITED STATES -1838 -1875 379

shown me through the beautiful artisan town which bears
his name; but by this remark my respect for him was
greatly augmented.

My first visit to the upper Mississippi left an indelible
impression on my mind. No description of that vast
volume of water slowly moving before my eyes ever
seemed at all adequate until, years afterward, I read
Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," and his account of the
scene when his hero awakes on a raft floating down the
great river struck a responsive chord in my heart. It
was the first description that ever answered at all to
the picture in my mind. Very interesting to me were
sundry later excursions to Boston, generally on univer-
sity or other business. At one of these I purchased the
library of President Sparks for the university, and, stay-
ing some days, had the pleasure of meeting many noted
men among them Mr. Josiah Quincy, whose reminis-
cences were to me very interesting, his accounts of con-
versations with John Adams perhaps more so than
anything else. At various clubs I met most charming
people, the most engrossing of these being Arthur Oilman,
the architect : then, and at other times, I sat up with him
late into the night, once, indeed, the entire night, lis-
tening to his flow of quaint wit and humor. The range
of his powers was perhaps best shown in a repetition of
what he claimed to be the debate in the city council of
Boston on his plans for a new city hall, which were af-
terward adopted. The speeches in Irish brogue, Teu-
tonic jargon, and down-east Yankee dialect, with utter-
ances interposed here and there by solemnly priggish
members, were inimitable. His pet antipathy seemed to
be the bishop of the diocese, Dr. Eastburn. Stories were
told to the effect that Oilman, early in life, had desired
to take orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church, but
that the bishop refused to ordain him, on the ground
that he lacked the requisite discretion. Hence, perhaps,
his zeal in preaching what he claimed to be the bishop's
sermons. Dr. Eastburn was much given to amplification,


and Oilman always insisted that he had heard him once,
when preaching on the parable of Dives and Lazarus,
discuss the prayer of Dives in torments for a drop of
water, as follows : " To this, my brethren, under the cir-
cumstances entirely natural, but, at the same time, no
less completely inadmissible request, the aged patriarch
replied. ' '

The bishop, who enjoyed a reputation for eloquence,
was wont to draw his lungs full of air at frequent periods
during his discourses, thus keeping his voice strong, as
skilful elocutionists advise ; and on one very warm sum-
mer afternoon, according to Oilman's account, a little
boy in the congregation, son of one of the most distin-
guished laymen in the diocese, becoming very uneasy
and begging his mother to allow him to go home, she had
quieted him several times by assuring him that the bishop
would soon be through, when, just at one of the most im-
pressive passages, the bishop having drawn in his breath
as usual, the little boy screamed so as to be heard
throughout the church, "No, he won't stop, mama; no, he
won't stop; don't you see he has just blowed hisself up

Oilman also told us a story of the bishop 's catechizing
the children in a Boston church, when, having taken the
scriptural account of Jonah and carried the prophet into
the whale's belly, he asked very impressively, " And now,
children, how do you suppose that Jonah felt?" Where-
upon little Sohier, son of the noted lawyer, piped out,
"Down in the mouth, sir." Oilman insisted that the
bishop was exceeding wroth, and complained to the boy's
father, who was unable to conceal from the bishop his
delight at his son's answer.

At one visit or another, mainly during the years of my
connection with Cornell University, I met at Boston,
pleasantly, the men who were then most distinguished
in American literature. One of these, who interested me
especially, was Ticknor, author of the ' ' History of Span-
ish Literature. ' ' Longfellow always seemed to me a most

IN THE UNITED STATES -1838 -1875 381

lovely being, whether at Nahant or at Cambridge. Low-
ell was wonderfully brilliant as well as kindly, and Ed-
ward Everett Hale delightful. It was the time of Hale 's
short stories in .the "Atlantic Monthly," which seem to
me the best ever written. Oliver Wendell Holmes I met
so rarely that I have little memory of his brilliant conver-
sation. Emerson I met then and at other times, once,
especially, in a railway train during one of his Western
lecture tours; he was then reading the first volume of
Carlyle 's ' ' Frederick the Great, ' ' and, on my asking him
how he liked it, instead of showing his usual devotion
to the author, he burst forth into a stream of pro-
tests against Carlyle 's "everlasting scolding at Dryas-
dust." A man who was as much overrated then as he
is underrated now was Whipple, the essayist ; he was al-
ways bright, and often suggestive; but too reliant upon
a style which is now out of date, frequently summoning
"alliteration's artful aid," and resorting to other de-
vices, fashionable then, but now discarded. Perhaps the
best of all his sentences was the one on the three great
statesmen of that period, to the effect that Webster was
mductive, Calhoun deductive, and Clay seductive; which
was not only well stated but true. Very vividly comes
back to me a supper-party given early in 1875 at the
house of James T. Fields, in celebration of Bayard Tay-
lor's birthday. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Fields and Taylor
were present Richard H. Dana, eminent in law and let-
ters; Cranch, then known both as a painter and poet;
Mr. Osgood ; and myself. Taylor recited, as I had heard
him do at other times, from the productions of the Geor-
gia poet, Chivers, and especially from the "Eonx of
Ruby." Chivers, according to Taylor's showing, had
become infatuated with Poe, and adorned his verses with
every sort of beautiful word which he could coin, the
result being as nonsensical a medley as was ever known.
Earlier in the evening, Taylor, Fields, and myself had
each of us been giving a lecture, and this led Taylor
to speak of a recent experience of his while holding


forth in one of the smaller towns of Massachusetts. The
chairman of the lecture committee, being seated beside
him on the platform, and wishing to entertain him with
edifying conversation while the audience was coming in
remarked that they had had rather a trying experience
during the lecture of the week before. On Taylor's ask-
ing what it was, the chairman answered: "The lecturer

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 54)