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Laurence Oliphant
Narrative of Lord Elgin's Mission to Washington to Negotiate Reciprocity

Lord Elgin and his staff approached the representatives of the American nation with all the legitimate wiles of accomplished and astute diplomacy. They threw themselves into the society of Washington - which in those days was apparently much more racy and original than it seems to be now, when American statesmen have grown dull, correct, and dignified like other men-with the abandon and enjoyment of a group of visitors solely intent on pleasure.

[Lord Elgin's enemies afterwards described the treaty as 'floated through on champagne'.] Without altogether admitting this, there can be no doubt, that in the hands of a skilful diplomatist that liquor is not without its value.'...

At last, after several days of uninterrupted festivity, I began to perceive what we were driving at. To make quite sure, I said one day to my chief, 'I find all my most intimate friends are Democratic senators.' 'So do I,' he replied drily.'...

It is necessary to the success of our mission that we conciliate everybody, and to refuse their invitations would be considered insulting. Lord Elgin pretends to drink immensely, but I watched him, and I don't believe he drank a glass between two and twelve. He is the most thorough diplomat possible, - never loses sight for a moment of his object, and while he is chaffing Yankees and slapping them on the back, he is systematically pursuing that object. The consequence is, he is the most popular Englishman that ever visited the United States.


Source: Memoirs of the Life of Laurence Oliphant


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