The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 361 pages of information about The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories.

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!

LUCK

[Note.—­This is not a fancy sketch.  I got it from a clergyman who was an instructor at Woolwich forty years ago, and who vouched for its truth.  —­M.T.]

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The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.