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In America, the science of Disraell and Metternich has been left to gentlemen of leisure and fortune. Like most of our legislators, our diplomats have been amateurs. And although we have been fortunate in having able men with private means to fill the high positions, the embassy staffs and consular posts are indifferently supplied. For diplomacy is an intricate business. Not only are statesmen required, but smooth-running organizations must supplement them. Skilful and energetic as our ambassadors may be, capable assistants are absolutely necessary.
To enable men interested in world affairs, but lacking financial resources, to equip themselves for the consular or diplomatic corps, the late Ambassador Penfield has left $80,000 for scholarships in a new school of diplomacy at New York University. If the service is made attractive, and a reasonable incentive for devotion offered, a body of well-trained men, willing to make diplomacy their life work, can thus be made available.
Consular berths, like postmasterships, were long regarded by politicians as suitable rewards for faithful retainers grown old following the party flag. Our consuls were selected like the officers in King Arthur's army by family as described by Mark; Twain. But foreign public opinion of this country depends on our representatives. An ambassador like the late Walter Hines Page is more valuable in promoting friendly relations than any number of treaties. The act of respect which the British people are paying him, by placing a tablet to his memory in Westminster, suggests how much the highest type of diplomacy can affect the good feelings of one nation toward another. The whole foreign service should be kept a the same level; no political favoritism should interfere with choosing the best-fitted man for any post.
Since the time of lay and Franklin, the ministerial wages have not been raised. The traditional equipment of a consul's office, a stool, an alarm-clock, a cat, and a cuspidor, does not inspire an ambitious man with optimism. "Cabbages and Kings" present a consular paradise which might appeal to some; but at present, none can afford to enter the foreign service without private means. Adventure, travel and hard work may suit a young man for a short time, but unless more material incentives are provided, a permanent, expert staff cannot be maintained.
The Rogers Bill, introduced in Congress last December, sought, to remedy this whole situation. Appointments and promotions were to be put on a merit basis exclusively. Salaries, for posts lower than Minister, were to be increased from a range of $2500-$4000, to $3000-$9000. The flexibility and efficiency of the service would have been improved. Secretary Hughes, and Mr. Bliss, the Minister to Sweden, gave the bill their hearty support, but as yet nothing has come of it. The diplomatic corps remains one of the most important topics for the next Congress.
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