Canning was one of the foremost British diplomats of the Napoleonic era. In 1807, he was Foreign Secretary. It is hard to imagine today, in the era of civil service, just how insistant and demanding office seekers were in earlier years, and how they pursued public servants way past the point of...
Canning was one of the foremost British diplomats of the Napoleonic era. In 1807, he was Foreign Secretary. It is hard to imagine today, in the era of civil service, just how insistant and demanding office seekers were in earlier years, and how they pursued public servants way past the point of exasperation. This letter is a textbook example of one such situation.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 pages, London, October 7, 1807, to a Reverand Foster, who seems to have thought Canning owed him a living. “I had upon inquiry at the Foreign Office soon after the receipt of your last letter that the chaplaincy… at Paris was filled up. I had no intention, as I have more than once told you, to recommend anyone for that situation. In transmitting to Sir Charles Stuart, when at Paris last year, your own letter suggesting the expediency of such an appointment, I gave you the best chance, and the only chance in my power, of being nominated to it on the grounds of your fitness for it. And when I afterward, at Sir. C. Stuart’s desire, mentioned at home his sense of the expediency of the Wallishurst and my own concurrence in that sense, I really did not know that I might not be promoting your object. One must fairly tell you that I should not have thought myself warranted to stir a single step in such a matter on the professed plan of expediency with the purpose at the same time of…a personal recommendation.” Clearly, Canning was being urged to promote the reverend by false pretenses.
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