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Diplomatic Pay and clothes
by [?]

Ours is the only country of first importance that pays its foreign representatives trifling salaries. If we were poor, we could not find great fault with these economies, perhaps–at least one could find a sort of plausible excuse for them. But we are not poor; and the excuse fails. As shown above, some of our important diplomatic representatives receive $12,000; others, $17,500. These salaries are all ham and lemonade, and unworthy of the flag. When we have a rich ambassador in London or Paris, he lives as the ambassador of a country like ours ought to live, and it costs him $100,000 a year to do it. But why should we allow him to pay that out of his private pocket? There is nothing fair about it; and the Republic is no proper subject for any one’s charity. In several cases our salaries of $12,000 should be $50,000; and all of the salaries of $17,500 ought to be $75,000 or $100,000, since we pay no representative’s house-rent. Our State Department realises the mistake which we are making, and would like to rectify it, but it has not the power.

When a young girl reaches eighteen she is recognised as being a woman. She adds six inches to her skirt, she unplaits her dangling braids and balls her hair on top of her head, she stops sleeping with her little sister and has a room to herself, and becomes in many ways a thundering expense. But she is in society now; and papa has to stand it. There is no avoiding it. Very well. The Great Republic lengthened her skirts last year, balled up her hair, and entered the world’s society. This means that, if she would prosper and stand fair with society, she must put aside some of her dearest and darlingest young ways and superstitions, and do as society does. Of course, she can decline if she wants to; but this would be unwise. She ought to realise, now that she has ‘come out,’ that this is a right and proper time to change a part of her style. She is in Rome; and it has long been granted that when one is in Rome it is good policy to do as Rome does. To advantage Rome? No–to advantage herself.

If our Government has really paid representatives of ours on the Paris Commission $100,000 apiece for six weeks’ work, I feel sure that it is the best cash investment the nation has made in many years. For it seems quite impossible that, with that precedent on the books, the Government will be able to find excuses for continuing its diplomatic salaries at the present mean figure.

P.S.–VIENNA, January 10.–I see, by this morning’s telegraphic news, that I am not to be the new ambassador here, after all. This–well, I hardly know what to say. I–well, of course, I do not care anything about it; but it is at least a surprise. I have for many months been using my influence at Washington to get this diplomatic see expanded into an ambassadorship, with the idea, of course th–But never mind. Let it go. It is of no consequence. I say it calmly; for I am calm. But at the same time–However, the subject has no interest for me, and never had. I never really intended to take the place, anyway–I made up my mind to it months and months ago, nearly a year. But now, while I am calm, I would like to say this–that so long as I shall continue to possess an American’s proper pride in the honour and dignity of his country, I will not take any ambassadorship in the gift of the flag at a salary short of $75,000 a year. If I shall be charged with wanting to live beyond my country’s means, I cannot help it. A country which cannot afford ambassador’s wages should be ashamed to have ambassadors.

Think of a Seventeen-thousand-five-hundred-dollar ambassador! Particularly for America. Why it is the most ludicrous spectacle, the most inconsistent and incongruous spectable, contrivable by even the most diseased imagination. It is a billionaire in a paper collar, a king in a breechclout, an archangel in a tin halo. And, for pure sham and hypocrisy, the salary is just the match of the ambassador’s official clothes–that boastful advertisement of a Republican Simplicity which manifests itself at home in Fifty-thousand-dollar salaries to insurance presidents and railway lawyers, and in domestic palaces whose fittings and furnishings often transcend in costly display and splendour and richness the fittings and furnishings of the palaces of the sceptred masters of Europe; and which has invented and exported to the Old World the palace-car, the sleeping-car, the tram-car, the electric trolley, the best bicycles, the best motor-cars, the steam-heater, the best and smartest systems of electric calls and telephonic aids to laziness and comfort, the elevator, the private bath-room (hot and cold water on tap), the palace-hotel, with its multifarious conveniences, comforts, shows, and luxuries, the–oh, the list is interminable! In a word, Republican Simplicity found Europe with one shirt on her back, so to speak, as far as real luxuries, conveniences, and the comforts of life go, and has clothed her to the chin with the latter. We are the lavishest and showiest and most luxury-loving people on the earth; and at our masthead we fly one true and honest symbol, the gaudiest flag the world has ever seen. Oh, Republican Simplicity, there are many, many humbugs in the world, but none to which you need take off your hat!