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not to find a great many who are ready and
able to cope with them. So the chief characteristic
of Sir Hector's mind became at last
an insane jealousy.

Such was Sir Hector Stubble; yet he was
one of the celebrities of the world. In
Mayfair it would have been laughable to express
a doubt about him; but in Dahomey we
know him better. We had some pleasant
fellows among us, as there are everywhere
men perhaps not very likely to do much in
the world, but gentle and good-natured.
The speciality chosen by the attachés at
Dahomey was more in the agreeable than the
useful line. They kept pianos in their rooms;
and sang little French songs, which did not
respect anything very particularly, to impossible
tunes. They rode and dined together,
and were great men in a small way. They
knew the people of the opera in private life,
and were proud of entertaining them. They
were the despair of the bankers' sons and
parvenus, whom they snubbed from the
height of their grandeur. They were fond of
patronising, and behaved as people having
authority. They were exceedingly pleasant
fellows, but I am afraid they were official

We gave our minds to secrets in the same
way as our chief: we were mysterious, and
fond of speaking nothings to each other in an
under tone. Two or three of us were never
gathered together without many communications
of a private and confidential nature
being interchanged between us. We took
each other apart for the purpose, and told
the same thing privately and confidentially
to every one of the party; but we would not
for the world have spoken it out, although it
had been probably the town-talk for several
days. Secrecy was the mainspring of our
lives. Our minds fed upon it, and became
all turn and twist and shuffle in consequence.
We were taught to believe this necessary for
carrying on the business of the world. It
was our idea of diplomacy.

As for our Secretary of Embassy at
Dahomey, he was a myth. We rarely saw
him. Sir Hector hated him, and his appointment
was a painful species of sinecure. He
never saw a despatch, and of course he never
sent one, except on the days when he drew
his salary. When Sir Hector went away on
leave, he knew as much of the business of the
Embassy and the manner of conducting it, as
people in general know of the political affairs
of Japan. He was supposed to live somewhere,
with a very private and confidential
establishment; but further, we knew nothing
of him, except that he was a pale,
fair, nervous man of fifty, rather over-dressed,
and very much afraid of committing

There was another class of persons attached
to our Embassy at Dahomey, whose existence
I could never contemplate without being
filled with a serene joy. They were the
Dragomen or Interpreters. In our other
Embassies the ignorance of the staff is only
tacitly connived at, the price paid for translations
being allowed in the extraordinary
expenses. But at Dahomey this ignorance
is proudly acknowledged, and a species of
official interpreter has grown up indigenous
to the place. The chief of them is ofiicially
recognised by a salary of one thousand
pounds a year. These gentlemenI mean
the dragomendisplay the beauty of our
diplomatic system in a very refreshing and
agreeable manner. It must be borne in mind
that the very key-stone of that system is
secrecy. The dragomen are foreigners, they
are not English gentlemen, in official rank
they are beneath our seventh unpaid attaché
a raw lad of nineteen; are altogether in an
inferior position. There is no world to cry
shame on them if they do things now and
then that ought to be left undone, and yet it
is through the hands of these gentlemen that
all those secret and confidential matters
pass, which we fearfully acute diplomatists
take so much pains to hide. They have
brothers and cousins in trademen who make
their bread on the Exchange, and they have
others who serve as dragomen in other
Embassies. They form a class apart. I
wonder how many or how few of the private
and confidential affairs of Embassies are
communicated by these gentlemen to each other.
I wonder whether they have always been
proof against the witchery of a power which
spent forty eight thousand pounds in one
week to mollify any who would listen to the
pleasant chink of money!

Meanwhile, in my time, there were four
English gentlemen who were appointed by
Sir Charles Grandison (Minister for Foreign
Affairs) especially for this service. They had
been educated at the Government expense;
and were known to be perfectly capable of
performing their duties. Why they were not
employed was a secret hidden in the
diplomatic bosom of the mighty Sir Hector

The duties of dragomen to most of the
other Embassies at Dahomey, were filled by
gentlemen of the country to which those
Embassies belonged, bred to the business. In
Austria they were usually chosen from the
most distinguished Oriental scholars of the
University of Vienna. In France they begin
their career as jeunes de langues. The other
Embassies had a decided advantage over us
in this respect. Russia indeed employed one
or two foreign dragomen, but then every
member of that Embassy spoke Dahometan,
so that it mattered little.

There are, perhaps, no duties which require
more close attention and ability, more tact
and judgment than those of an able interpreter.
He should not only render the
words of his chief, but the very tone and
manner in which they are said. A remark
made in one voice and repeated in another,