Sunday, July 5, 2015

Etiquette and Diplomacy Gone Awry

Baron Saverio Fava founded the Italian Ministry in Washington, D.C.. He served as the first Italian Ambassador of the then recently unified Italy to the U.S. from 1881-1893. As Ambassador, Baron Fava also served as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. Prior to service in the U.S., Fava served Italy as an Ambassador in Brazil and Romania.

The Baron vs the Lieutenant

"A Story of American Independence and Official Etiquette"???

The Washington Capital publishes the following story of Lieutenant Lucien Young, the naval officer who is not permitted to publish his book on Hawaii, because it is considered to reflect on the record of the Cleveland administration. That scene of the present incident is laid during the Harrison regime, when Benjamin P. Tracy was Secretary of the Navy.
It was Lieutenant Young, according to the story, who a few years ago offered to teach Baron Fava, the Italian Embassador, a lesson in American manners. The international episode was the request made by the Embassador to the Secretary of the Navy for a report upon a subject of great importance to him, which he begged might be delivered the same evening, in order that he could forward it to his Government in the morning mail. Lieutenant Young was detailed to prepare the information. 

He worked all day and all the evening, with only a sandwich and a cup of coffee, excused himself from a dinner party and from an engagement he had made to take some ladies to a ball. The memorandum was completed about midnight, when he got a cab and drove to the Italian legation. It was closed and dark, and no one answered his summons. Then he went to Baron Fava's residence, where he was told that the Embassador was dining out. He went to the house where the dinner had been given and learned that the Baron was at the ball which he himself wanted to attend, but found there the Baron had left a few minutes before.

Then Young gave up the search and went to his club. The first man he saw after entering the door was the Italian Embassador drinking wine with a party of friends. Lieutenant Young approached him with a proper salute and, after a few words of explanation, offered him the. papers. The Baron haughtily declined them. "You impertinent fellow," said he; "why did you follow me all over the town? I am the Embassador of Italy, and I do my business at the legation of my Government. You should have had the papers there before I left this afternoon. Instead of that you disturb my friends by entering their houses and intrude upon my club. I will report your impertinence to the Secretary of the Navy tomorrow."  

Lieutenant Lucien Younger has an interesting and colorful history, complete with a ship being named in his honor and complaints of anti-semitism.

The sea dog from Kentucky was very red in the face by this time, and made the following remarks: "You ungrateful old macaroni-chewing monkey tamer, I am a member of this club and you are only a guest, but if you will come out into the street for five minutes I will teach you a lesson in North American manners. There are the papers I have spent fifteen hours in preparing for you," and he threw them on the table. "You can take them or leave them, as you like." The Baron called upon Secretary Tracy the next day and complained that Lieutenant Young had insulted him. The Secretary sent for the offender, who related the affair as I have told it, including the benediction he had pronounced. The Secretary had pressing business in the next room for a few moments and when he recovered himself asked what the Embassador had to suggest. Baron Fava demanded that the lieutenant be reprimanded. "Consider yourself reprimanded," said the Secretary gravely, and Lieutenant Young bowed and left the room.
—The Washington Capital, 1895

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