Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rescued from the law

The greatness of this country rests on two anecdotes. The first one is that of Washington and his hatchet, representing the foundation of true speaking, which is the characteristic of our people. The second one is an old one, and I've been waiting to hear it to-night; but as nobody has told it yet, I will tell it.

You've heard it before, and you'll hear it many, many times more. It is an anecdote of our guest, of the time when he was engaged as a young man with a gentle Hebrew, in the process of skinning the client. The main part in that business is the collection of the bill for services in skinning the man. “Services” is the term used in that craft for the operation of that kind-diplomatic in its nature.

Choate's co-respondent made out a bill for $500 for his services, so called. But Choate told him he had better leave the matter to him, and the next day he collected the bill for the services and handed the Hebrew $5000, saying, “That's your half of the loot,” and inducing that memorable response: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

The deep-thinkers didn't merely laugh when that happened. They stopped to think, and said, “There's a rising man. He must be rescued from the law and consecrated to diplomacy. The commercial advantages of a great nation lie there in that man's keeping. We no longer require a man to take care of our moral character before the world. Washington and his anecdote have done that. We require a man to take care of our commercial prosperity.”

Mr. Choate has carried that trait with him, and, as Mr. Carnegie has said, he has worked like a mole underground.

We see the result when American railroad iron is sold so cheap in England that the poorest family can have it. He has so beguiled that Cabinet of England.

He has been spreading the commerce of this nation, and has depressed English commerce in the same ratio. This was the principle underlying that anecdote, and the wise men saw it; the principle of give and take—give one and take ten—the principle of diplomacy.
Source: Mark Twain Speeches

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