to Mr. Blaine
Vienna , March 25, 1881. (Received April 11.)
In the year 1753 was founded at Vienna the “Oriental Academy.” It is an institution designed to prepare a corps of agents for the government, who shall be specially fitted to advance the political and commercial [Page 46] interests of Austria-Hungary in the Oriental world. The Government of Maria Theresa believed that persons under direct training by and allegiance to the government which they served, and with all their interests identified with the home country, would be much more useful than the natives of some foreign land who would otherwise fill these posts.
Believing, myself, that an institution under the control of our government, and designed to teach the law of nations, the law of commerce, and the languages spoken in the most important foreign countries with which we now have or desire to develop commerce, will soon be appreciated as a necessity in the United States, I have carefully inquired into the cost, management, course of study, and rules of the “Oriental Academy” at Vienna. The result of that inquiry will, I hope, not be without interest to the Department of State. My report is based upon information obtained from the director, Mr. Barb, himself an eminent linguist and Oriental scholar.
I. The number of students is limited to fifty. Any student who has finished his course of study at the gymnasium may apply for admission to the academy. Precedence is given to those who have excelled in their gymnasial studies, and eight of the best students are maintained at the academy without pay. The others must pay 800 florins annually for board and tuition. To the funds thus provided, the government adds annually 22,000 florins as its grant toward the support of the institution. The total annual cost of maintaining the academy approximates the sum of 50,000 florins. There is an entrance fee of 100 florins.
II. The course of study covers five years. The corps of professors and tutors numbers fifteen. There are two divisions of study; the first embraces jurisprudence and political science; that is to say, the diplomatic history of states and international law (taught in French), statistics, national law and financial science, commercial law and bills of exchange, civil and criminal law and modes of procedure, and the consular system. The second division is that of languages. These embrace the Turkish, the written Arabic and common Arabic, Persian, modern Greek, French, Italian, and English. The students assume no obligation to serve the state. The eight excelling students have preference of admission into the consular and diplomatic service of the Ea stand may be also transferred into the same career in the West. The salaries of the teachers range from 600 to 3,000 florins.
III. The present organization of the academy is as follows:
PLAN OF STUDY.
Division I.—Law and Political Science.
Criminal law and criminal course of pleading: Prof. Dr. Ritter von Keller.
Civil law: Prof. Dr. Singer.
Civil judicial procedure in and without litigation: Prof. Dr. Pann.
Law of commerce and bills of exchange: Prof. Dr. Pann.
Statistics, national economy, and financial science: Prof. Dr. von Neumann Spallart.
Diplomatic history of states and international law (in the French language): Prof. Dr. Leopold Baron von Neumann.
Consular system: Prof. Dr. Leopold Neumann.
Turkish language: Professor Plechacsek.
Turkish language: Corregititor Pekotsch.
Grammar and literature of the Arabic written language: Lecturer, Dr. Wahrmund.[Page 47]
Common Arabic language: George Dellal.
Persian language: Director Barb.
Modern Greek language: Tutor Damianis.
French language: Prof. Abbé Piqueré.
French language: Prof. Bréant.
Italian language: Prof. Abbé Adami.
English language: Tutor Comarek.
IV. I append to this dispatch a copy of the regulations for the admission of students to the academy as they appeared for the current academic year 1880–’81.
Some two years ago the attention of the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States was called by the Secretary of State to the best modes of improving the commercial relations of the United States abroad. But all lines of thought lead back to deficiencies in our agencies. We have the arts of manufacture and the facilities of production in the highest degree. But, on the other hand, we have almost no ships under our own flag, under American officers, controlled by American interests, and directed to the profit of American commerce. We have few American commercial employés who speak any other language than their own. We have few native-born consuls who are really masters of any other language than the English. Even after years of employment, when they have picked up shreds of a foreign language, they are often transferred to posts where the language and the usages are wholly unknown to them. A real knowledge of the interests and wants of a foreign people cannot be acquired without the facility of a common language.
As a rule such agents content themselves with mere routine, and for ordinary intercourse depend upon some poorly paid interpreter of foreign origin, of whom the English language becomes in turn the victim. The same is true of some of our legations. The real interpreter of our interests becomes at last an irresponsible and partially educated foreigner.
It is to be greatly desired that the United States should escape from this condition of inferiority. Occupying a continent in which it may almost be said a single language is spoken, we are almost without facilities for acquiring the practical mastery and use of foreign languages. The Pacific Ocean alone separates us from the vast commercial populations for whose trade all Europe is struggling and has been struggling for a century and more—nations which embrace nearly half the population of the globe. How many of our people can speak the language of Japan, or of China, or of the Indies Our merchants ought to control the trade of the West Indies and of the South American states. How many of our native citizens can speak the Spanish, or write an order in that language? Both for international commercial transport and for commercial intercourse, we are dependent on foreign agencies.
There is no limit to private and public expenditure for abundant native agencies of our internal development, including schools of every grade. We have our special naval school, that men may be fitted for the work of national defense and commercial protection on the seas. We have our military schools, that they may be fitted to defend the country on land. But we fit nobody for the work of developing the influence and the commerce of the United States in countries speaking other languages and having other forms of civil and social life. Yet it is in intercourse with these that our future prosperity must be largely found, and with these that our geographical situation gives us a great advantage. In those countries strangers are jealously observed. Nothing makes a man so much a stranger as the inability to converse in the common language of the people, among whom he is only one in a million.[Page 48]
This sentiment is practically experienced in every part of the United States, in presence of the foreign-born, numerous as they are.
It is to destroy this inability and isolation of the American representatives in Asiatic and European countries, of diplomatic, consular, and commercial representatives especially, that I venture to call your attention to this foundation of an “Oriental Academy,” and to raise the inquiry whether it would not inure greatly to the advantage of the United States to establish at Washington a school of languages and international law.
It would be in accord with the purposes of the Smithsonian Institution to give room for the classes. The expense of instructors would only require a moderate grant of money by Congress. Non-partisan admission could be secured by giving to State institutions, or boards of trade, the nomination of the scholars, who should be graduates of some advanced institution of learning. Its excelling graduates should be preferred for the clerkships of the State Department, and for the consular or inferior diplomatic posts, for which they should be best fitted. For the others the mercantile houses having foreign relations and foreign agencies should be eager competitors. The French, German, Japanese, and Chinese languages should be taught both as written and spoken languages.
Our diplomatic history and treaties, should be studied together with general diplomatic history and international law.
So far as the development of our foreign relations and the reform of our foreign civil service are concerned, this seems to me to open a useful line of action, to promise better things than the present time affords, and to be attainable at a slight cost to the government.
I have only to add that the director of this Oriental Academy informs me that, at present, the Austrian Government requires for its service in consular and diplomatic posts more of its graduates than are now at its command.
I have, &c.,