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impossible; and Brown, Jones, and Robinson, disappointed and angry, return home to pronounce their representatives useless impostors, and to swell the cry of the job-hunter.
There is yet another class who may generally be reckoned as hostile to the Diplomatic Service; it consists of the speculators who, in hopes of large profits, lend money to, or accept contracts from, bankrupt or repudiating Governments, and who, when threatened with the loss which they had risked, call loudly upon the British Minister to recover their money.
Of all this it may be said that such hostility is to a certain degree the lot of every man in a responsible official position. All Governments and all individual officials are exposed to the unpopularity caused by their failing to attain that omniscience and omnipotence for which people see fit to give them credit ; but the Diplomatist lies under this peculiar disadvantage, that his failures most frequently come to light, and that his greatest successes are generally unknown beyond the range of red boxes. A good diplomatist must have the tact and manners which will gain him the confidence and good will of the men among whom he is thrown; men generally differing from himself in education, religion, principles, and habits of thought; he must possess the calm judgment necessary for distinguishing truth from falsehood, and important from trivial questions in the midst of the political mirage by which he is often surrounded; he must know how to communicate, faithfully and without exaggeration, to his Government the secret information he has gained, and how to convey confidential advice to the Government to which he is accredited. He must have acquired, above all, the happy knack of removing difficulties and settling differences so quietly that the very fact of their having existed should, if possible, remain unnoticed. The chief merit of his peaceful triumphs frequently consists in their being unknown, and the ignorance on the part of the public of his name and doings is often the truest measure of his success.
Having said thus much upon the causes which operate unfavourably upon public opinion respecting the Diplomatic Service and which prevent the reputation of its members from receiving fair play, we will proceed to examine its history and to consider the effect of the changes which Parliamentary Committees and Secretaries of State have, wittingly or unwittingly, worked in it. To do this it will not be necessary to trespass upon the sacred soil of archæology, to trace out the first recorded ambassador, or to discuss the nature of his duties and powers. We have no intention here of writing a history of diplomacy, and will therefore begin with the Diplomatic Service as it existed within the memory of the diplomatists whose evidence was taken by the Parliamentary Committees now under our consideration.
'I believe,' writes Lord Cowley, that at the beginning of the present century, the only assistance afforded by the Government to the chief of an Embassy or Mission was that of a secretary; but the Ambassador or Minister was allowed to name a certain number of individuals who, on his recommendation, were officially recognised as attached to him, and whom he could employ on the public service as he might deem useful. The post of an attaché was constantly filled in those days by young men of family and fortune who desired to pass å few months agreeably abroad, and who could succeed in finding a friendly protector at some foreign Court. The consequence was that attachés were looked upon as the personal friends of the Ambassador or Minister. They formed part of his family, and lived at his table, and sometimes altogether in his house, which in itself was an equivalent to a limited salary. But, on the other hand, they were not considered as forming part of the permanent diplomatic staff of the country. The services they might render gave them no positive claim to promotion, and as a natural corollary the Ambassador or Minister could get rid of them should their conduct require it or his caprice dictate it.'
There can be no doubt that such a system presented advantages to the public in the selection of its diplomatic servants which no examinations have been able to replace. A comparatively larger number of young men were enabled to undergo that best of all examinations--practical work--and the subsequent selection was completely unfettered. To the diplomatists themselves the advantages were also immense, as may readily be seen by contrasting the early career of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe with that of any British diplomatist of ten or twelve years' standing,
In July, 1807, Lord Stratford, then nineteen years of age, was appointed précis-writer to Mr. Canning; in October of the same year, he accompanied Mr. Merry, as Secretary, to his special mission to Copenhagen. He went in the same capacity with Mr. Adair to the Dardanelles in June, 1808, and in April, 1809, was appointed Secretary of Embassy at Constantinople. On the recall of Mr. Adair, he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary there in July, 1810. Forty years before that, Hugh Elliot was chargé d'affaires at Munich at two and twenty, and British Minister at the Court of the Great Frederic when he was twenty-six. Under the present system, an attaché may think himself fortunate if he becomes a third secretary in five years, and a second secretary in ten. Is it to be wondered at if, in face of such a contrast, we find
To the young
persons who regret the good old times,' or that even Mr. Hammond should express a doubt whether we have not gone ' too far in making diplomacy a profession, and that the old ‘system of the Ambassador, taken generally from political men, • and carrying as attachés his friends with him, giving them no 'eventual claim upon the public, may not have been better for the public service than that which now exists'?
The change which has taken place, though great, has been gradual. The extension of our diplomatic relations made the recall of heads of missions, at every change of Government, an inconvenience; the attachés therefore as well as their chiefs assumed more of the character of permanent officers; they acquired rights to employment, to pay, and to promotion; and diplomacy became, by a natural course of things, a profession.
But, in 1855, the job-hunters, under the name of Administrative Reformers, proclaimed aloud that the whole Civil Service was an idiot asylum for the sons and dependents of the aristocracy, and that it could only be properly filled by passing all future candidates through the ordeal of examinations. Unfounded and unjust as was this sweeping condemnation, it caught the ear of the British public at a moment when its anger had been roused by some administrative failures connected with the Crimean war, and the demand that all the world should be examined became too strong for any statesman to resist.
It seemed but a small thing to require that young men should pass a slight examination on entering upon a special career, and it was considered to be an advantage to diplomacy and a protection to the Secretary of State in making his appointments; but no person at the time had probably an idea that it would make Diplomacy into a regular close service, or that attachés, in proving their qualifications for their duties, would also acquire a strong sense of their rights. In December, 185 then, Lord Clarendon made arrangements with the Civil Service Commissioners for the examination of candidates for the Diplomatic Service. They were required to write a good bold hand : to write English and French quickly and correctly from dictation : to translate French into English and English into French, and to speak French with tolerable ease and correctness: to translate well from either German, Spanish, Latin, or Italian: to have a general knowledge of geography: to make a clear précis of a collection of papers given to them at the examination : to have a general knowledge of modern history since the year 1789, and especially of the history of the country to which they were about to proceed. This list of subjects appears to have been drawn up under the impression that the candidates would all have passed through the ordinary public school, and possibly also through the University, education of this country, and was intended moreover to secure that they should have learned some of those subjects most necessary for their profession, which had been systematically neglected or discouraged throughout that course of education. With such views the examination was a very sensible and good one, and with the exception of the last subject in the list it appears to have given satisfaction.
But we find that in August, 1859, Lord J. Russell was obliged to explain that persons nominated as unpaid attachés to any of Her Majesty's Missions were to understand that they were not necessarily to proceed to the particular post mentioned in their letter of nomination, but that after they had passed their examination and worked for a certain time ' at the Foreign Office, they would be sent to any post to which
the Secretary of State might think it most convenient for the 'public service to send them.' From which we may gather that the plan for sending out an attaché to a foreign country, well crammed with its history as regards its internal consti'tution and its relation to other powers, completely broke down in practice; and that the nomination of an attaché to a particular post many months before he would be ready to proceed to it, soon became a mere form for complying with the regulation. For some reason, which is not explained, Lord Malmesbury modified these regulations, in 1858, by cutting out the requirement as to handwriting and the second language; but these subjects were restored to the list in the following year by Lord J. Russell.
The above examination was, however, not to be final; the unhappy attaché who had passed it had his troubles still before him. Ere he could earn a salary and the title of Paid-attaché, he had to show that he could speak and write the languages of the several countries in which he had resided since his entry into the Service; he had to draw up reports on the general, commercial, and political relations of those countries, and to be examined in international law. This was a great mistake and caused great hardships. An attaché in a severely-worked Chancery, had but little leisure for studying and writing, and in proportion as he performed his official duties well, he diminished his chances of qualifying for promotion and pay. One man might pass all the period of his unpaid attaché-ship in the same country, with the language of which he was already familiar, while another would have the trouble and expense of learning two or three new languages and of writing as many reports. One man might run over from Paris or Brussels to pass his examination, while another was obliged to make a voyage from Buenos Ayres or Mexico for the same purpose. The system was a needless aggravation of the unfairness--or, rather let us say, inequality—which is the main defect and difficulty of the Diplomatic Service.
Some ineffectual efforts were made to remove the hardships caused by this second examination, and the subject was much considered by the Committee of 1861, who at last recommended that there should be two classes of examination previous to admission into the service-a first and a second—the candidate selecting which he would undergo, and that if he should pass the first he should be exempted from any further examination. An attempt was made to carry into effect this recommendation, but it was found that the first-class examination frightened many of the candidates who were naturally unwilling to risk losing their nomination, and that by their electing to secure their appointment through the easier ordeal, they still exposed themselves and the Service to the inconveniences of the second examination, which the Committee had wished to abolish. It was also found that the time required by the candidates to prepare for the first-class examination, when added to the six months to be passed in the Foreign Office, caused so much delay in filling up vacancies that the wants of the Missions abroad could only be supplied by keeping a stock of attachés on hand ready, or nearly ready, for delivery. The new plan, therefore, broke down, and the two separate examinations were somewhat illogically restored, but with this difference, that as the old class of Paid attachés had been replaced by two salaried classes, with the rank of second and third secretaries, the second examination might be passed by anyone whilst in the third secretary's class; and as every well-behaved attaché was entitled to a commission as third secretary, at a salary of 1501. a year after four years' probationary service, his pay was no longer dependent upon accidents, connected with the examinations, which were beyond his control.
In spite of all the manifest objections to the second examination, many important witnesses gave evidence in its favour before the Committee of 1870. Some wished to retain it as it was, some proposed to increase its severity, whilst others were so enthusiastic in defence of the system of double examination as to suggest the Irish plan of beginning with the second. Fortunately, the Committee guided on this point by the best evidence before them, recommended the abolition of the