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Diplomatic Pay and clothes
by [?]

Our Government’s notions about proprieties of costume are indeed very, very odd–as suggested by that last fact. The swallow-tail is recognised the world over as not wearable in the daytime; it is a night-dress, and a night-dress only–a night-shirt is not more so. Yet, when our representative makes an official visit in the morning, he is obliged by his Government to go in that night-dress. It makes the very cab-horses laugh.

The truth is, that for awhile during the present century, and up to something short of forty years ago, we had a lucid interval, and dropped the Republican Simplicity sham, and dressed our foreign representatives in a handsome and becoming official costume. This was discarded by-and- by, and the swallow-tail substituted. I believe it is not now known which statesman brought about this change; but we all know that, stupid as he was as to diplomatic proprieties in dress, he would not have sent his daughter to a state ball in a corn-shucking costume, nor to a corn- shucking in a state-ball costume, to be harshly criticised as an ill- mannered offender against the proprieties of custom in both places. And we know another thing, viz. that he himself would not have wounded the tastes and feelings of a family of mourners by attending a funeral in their house in a costume which was an offence against the dignities and decorum prescribed by tradition and sanctified by custom. Yet that man was so heedless as not to reflect that all the social customs of civilised peoples are entitled to respectful observance, and that no man with a right spirit of courtesy in him ever has any disposition to transgress these customs.

There is still another argument for a rational diplomatic dress–a business argument. We are a trading nation; and our representative is a business agent. If he is respected, esteemed, and liked where he is stationed, he can exercise an influence which can extend our trade and forward our prosperity. A considerable number of his business activities have their field in his social relations; and clothes which do not offend against local manners and customers and prejudices are a valuable part of his equipment in this matter–would be, if Franklin had died earlier.

I have not done with gratis suggestions yet. We made a great deal of valuable advance when we instituted the office of ambassador. That lofty rank endows its possessor with several times as much influence, consideration, and effectiveness as the rank of minister bestows. For the sake of the country’s dignity and for the sake of her advantage commercially, we should have ambassadors, not ministers, at the great courts of the world.

But not at present salaries! No; if we are to maintain present salaries, let us make no more ambassadors; and let us unmake those we have already made. The great position, without the means of respectably maintaining it–there could be no wisdom in that. A foreign representative, to be valuable to his country, must be on good terms with the officials of the capital and with the rest of the influential folk. He must mingle with this society; he cannot sit at home–it is not business, it butters no commercial parsnips. He must attend the dinners, banquets, suppers, balls, receptions, and must return these hospitalities. He should return as good as he gets, too, for the sake of the dignity of his country, and for the sake of Business. Have we ever had a minister or an ambassador who could do this on his salary? No–not once, from Franklin’s time to ours. Other countries understand the commercial value of properly lining the pockets of their representatives; but apparently our Government has not learned it. England is the most successful trader of the several trading nations; and she takes good care of the watchmen who keep guard in her commercial towers. It has been a long time, now, since we needed to blush for our representatives abroad. It has become custom to send our fittest. We send men of distinction, cultivation, character–our ablest, our choicest, our best. Then we cripple their efficiency through the meagreness of their pay. Here is a list of salaries for English and American ministers and ambassadors:

City ___________________________Salaries