Mr. Mason's manners once more.
Anatomists have been much bothered to determine the uses of the pineal gland and the spleen; and what these mysterious organs are in the body physical, embassadors, ordinary and extraordinary, are in the body politic.
When a respectable Boston
merchant, more remarkable for his knowledge of “domestics” than of diplomacy, was appointed by our Government to St. James
(where he cut a sumptuous figure and spent double his salary for the honor of his country), he had a painful recollection of having somewhere read, or at some time heard, that an embassador is “a person sent abroad to tell lies for his country ;” a service which he did not care to undertake.
To solve his doubts, he went to Mr. Edward Everett
, who is authority in Boston
for every point, from a disputed passage in Euripides
to the configuration
of the great toe of a statue, and asked him simply if he should be obliged to tell the lies aforesaid.
promptly responded in the negative.
So Mr. Lawrence
went to London
, and gave those excellent dinners which to this day are recalled with grateful salivary glands by those who partook of them.
Thus we have excellent authority for rejecting as a scandalous old libel, the mendacity theory.
But there is yet another, the mendicity theory, which has lately been received with some favor.
An embassador is sent abroad in order that he may make money enough to pay his debts; and it is understood that the present august representative of this country at the Court of Napoleon
III., is retained in office expressly that he may “realize” to that pleasing extent.
Our readers, particularly in these times of monetary pressure, will agree with us that no more commendable motive could actuate a man to do duty in short breeches upon gala-days at court; and at any rate, we are certain that the creditors of the gentleman alluded to will coincide with us in the opinion.
As there is very little for an American minister to do in Paris
, save to disport himself upon proper occasions before the imperial eyes, we do not see why Mr. Mason
should not have the pay as well as another, provided there be no worthy Democrat who owes more and has less to pay it with, In such case, the shortest and hardest — up man should be allowed the privilege of procuring for American travelers, tickets of admission to see the Beast of the Tuileries.
But Mr. Mason
's claim must be considered as paramount until some Democrat entitled to write pauperrimus
after his name shall dispute it.
Under these circumstances, what cruelty is it to Mr. Mason
, and what injustice to his creditors, to circulate false tales about his demeanor before royalty, thus touching him upon a most tender point, and, as it were, sticking pins through his court-stockings directly into the embassadorial calves!
And to impeach his conduct, too, at that Court of all others; a Court where everything is conducted upon principles of the very pinkiest propriety; a Court which maintains a grave Chamberlain
expressly to teach people how to behave themselves, which official has written a hand-book of manners, to which Mr. Mason
no doubt gives his nights and days, just as young persons desiring a good style of writing English
, “must give their nights and days to Addison
And to charge him, too, with hugging the Empress
of that virtuous realm — an offense which, constructively, might be considered capital, and which might have obliged the offender to part with his head — a portion of the body necessary to the man if not to the embassador!
And to impute to Mr. Mason
this offence, when his fate was in the hands of James Buchanan
— that mirror of continency, that more than Joseph, that Pamela of Presidents
But the story, incredible as it first appeared, came to us so well authenticated that, careful as we are, we published it with comments appropriate to the terrible disclosure.
But let us not be lightly blamed
when it is considered that The Richmond Enquirer
, a journal usually so careful of the honor of the F. F. V., also gave the narration publicity.
We both relied upon the alleged authority of The London Court Journal
, which is your very Sir Oracle on scandals connected with palaces.
As we were deceived into doing injustice to Mr. Mason
, we accord him the amplest reparation in our power.
Know all men, women and children by these presents, that Embassador Mason
did not hug the Empress
residing in Paris-whether creditors or not does not appear — have written, the one to The National Intelligencer
, the other to The Richmond Enquirer
, indignantly denying the truth of the scurvy story; while the editor of The London Court Journal
has solemnly declared over his (or her) own hand, that the hugging paragraph never appeared in that newspaper.
“The matter being beneath the notice of His Excellency
,” these two friends in need and friends indeed, have rushed to the rescue, and Mr. Mason
's character is upon the courtliest of legs again.
Indeed, out of this furnace of affliction (his friends say that the story has “saddened him” ) Mr. Mason
has come burnished and refulgent and brighter (a great deal) than our new cent.
He ought to thank the enemy who devised this scandal, for it has procured him several of the strongest puffs which he ever received in his life, and that, too, just in the nick of time.
It seems that of all the diplomatic body he is the pet of the Emperor
, and also (in a
strictly Platonic way) of the Empress
Whether, like Mary of Argyle
, he is “loved for his beauty, but not for that alone,” we cannot say; but of the affection there can be no doubt.
Here is the certificate:
I know that on the 1st of January last, when the Emperor received all the foreign dignitaries, he greeted the American minister in the most cordial manner ; and after expressing his best wishes for the continuance of good feeling between the two governments, concluded by hoping that he (Mr. Mason) would remain at his court for the coming four years. These words were heard by the Russian Embassador, who told our Minister that it was his duty to repeat the words thus addressed to him in his official capacity, to his Government, but Mr. Mason, with the modesty of true merit, has, I am sure, remained silent upon the subject.
We rejoice that Mr. Mason
's “modesty” has not kept this valuable information from the Cabinet
, where it will produce an excitement.
will, of course, act upon the recommendation of Napoleon
, as the preference of that monarch ought to be conclusive.
So much for Mr. Mason
as a diplomatist.
But it is as a man of manners, of polish, of civility, of the best breeding, that he gets the cleanest certificate.
So far from being a big bear, he is Chesterfieldian, and as punctilious as a professor of etiquette or a Chinese mandarin.
Instead of needing instruction himself, he is just the man to teach others.
Here is his “character” as given in The Richmond, Enquirer
“In any question of manners, he possesses the kind sensibility to prompt, and, unimpaired, the just faculty to discriminate what, as regards the occasion, it seems most proper and befitting to do or to avoid.”
There is no name given, but we know the writer of this to be a gentleman by the fine language which he uses.
It reminds us of a reply sent by a courtly negro to an invitation, in which he regretted that “circumstances repugnant to the acquiesce would prevent his acceptance to the invite.”
Now we know why they want Mr. Mason
to stay at the Court of France.
They want him there “to show them how to do it.”
Like Mr. Turveydrop
's, his deportment is beautiful.
Should stern policy demand his recall, let him be made Master of Ceremonies at the White House
, and with a happy blending of “foreign airs and native graces,” show the ruler of this realm to his people.
October 2, 1857.