what are good manners?
What is politeness as distinguished from rusticity?
has written a little elementary book intended to teach our Yankee girls how to behave themselves everywhere — in the church, in the drawing-room, in the railwaycar, and at the table d'hote
. Mons. de Meilhauval
has also compiled a Manuel du Scavoir
, which is said to be a great polisher, but we have never seen it, and therefore, for all the good Monsieur
might have done for us, we remain in our original ursine condition.
But if we have books for brides and bridegrooms, with treatises upon every manner of incoming and outgoing, incident to human life; if we have complete letter-writers and vade-mecums
for all kinds of persons, why should not our ministers plenipotentiary and our embassadors extraordinary have a manual of as much authority as that of General Scott
is with infantry?
Why should they not be taught to go through their paces, their genuflexions, their advances and their retreats?
How must we have suffered in the estimation of polite Europe
for the want of such a work, to the compilation of which we do respect-fully entreat Mr. Peter Parley
to devote his declining years!
Might not such a volume, however elementary in,, its inculcations, have shown to John Randolph
, of Roanoke
, (clarum et venerable nomen
!) the impropriety of approaching in a pair of buckskin breeches the enthroned Majesty of Muscovy?
or of falling before Royalty upon his knees?
For performing these two feats, the Lord
drew eighteen thousand dollars from the treasury of his country, and did that country no conceivable service whatever.
Might not a little previous study have saved Minister Hannegan
from devoting himself more to Bacchus
than to Vatel, Puffendorf and Wheaton
, and from being kicked out of the principal taverns near the court to which he was accredited?
Might not such a volume have saved James Buchanan
(with due reverence his name is here mentioned) from the gross impropriety of the Ostend Conference
Might not such a volume have persuaded a certain Secretary
of Legation not to desecrate the sacred seal of Columbia
Might it not have wheedled and coaxed another Secretary
of Legation into paying his debts before leaving Paris
, so that shopmen would not then have inquired of every American purchaser, when the American Diplomatist
intended to return?
Pray let us have “The Diplomatist's own Book!”
We have been betrayed into these suggestions by seeing mentioned in the newspapers a painful error, into which the Honorable John Y. Mason
, the august representative of this country near the Court of Louis Bonaparte
, recently fell.
We wish to speak with tenderness of Mr. Mason
, because, notwithstanding his innocence of the vernacular of Gaul
, he has shown a great desire to acquit himself creditably, by arraying himself upon court-days in the small-clothes and cocked-hat proscribed by the late Mr. Marcy
It is also understood that he would rather stay in Paris
than come home, for a reason that he has; that he is not personally a devotee of the principle of rotation, and that as for resigning he will see Mr. Buchanan
But this is a weakness, if it be a weakness, with the whole diplomatic body.
In fact, we think we can hear Mr. Buchanan
chanting to our friend Cass
Why do n't the men resign, my Cass--
Why do n't the men resign?
Each one seems coming to the point,
But never sends a line.
ought not to be so impatient.
Suppose that he were abroad, and did not want to come home; how would he like to be pricked in the tender parts of his constitution?
But the reader may fancy that we
are never coming to the point.
It is not a point at all. It is the back of a chair.
Of a chair, we believe, at the Tuileries.
And of a chair with an empress in it — an empress descended from a Scotch merchant and an Hidalgo of the bluest blood of Spain
Near that chair thus imperially occupied, sits the Representative
of the United States of America
Perhaps he is standing; but that makes no difference, for the back of the chair might have been a high one.
He might also have been masticating the weed of his beloved Virginia
; but details, however important, are denied us. Suddenly he throws his arm about the back of the chair of H. S. M.! Oh, heavens!
Will not that arm descend upon that snowy and
swan-like neck, which we have all so much admired in engravings?
what might have followed?
From the chair-back to that other back, and so on!
Depend upon it we were only saved by good luck from a war which all the cunning of diplomacy could not have averted!
Diamond! thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done!”
when an ill-conditioned cur overthrew a candle, and burned all the crooked mathematical computations of years.
“Oh, John Y. Mason
say we, “thou little knowest what mischief thou wert in danger of doing!”
The venerable Benton
once said of Embassador John: “If the man has a belly-full of oysters and a handful of trumps, he will thank God for nothing more!”
If that hand had been “going it better” or “nary pair” on that fatal night, we should have been saved from this national discredit.
August 13, 1857.