‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’

Owain Wright

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    In 1875 Sir Edward Malet spent just a few months of his diplomatic career as a young attaché at the British Legation in Rome, yet when he came to write his memoirs a quarter of a century later he described it as ‘the pleasantest post in the service’. Malet’s words could easily have been those of a number of other British diplomats who showed a remarkable affection for Italy and the cities which served successively as its capital during the years following Italian unification: Turin (1861-5), Florence (1865-71), and Rome (from 1871). For certain other British representatives, however, life in Italy could be a much less pleasant experience. Many members of the consular service found that their careers brought them experiences to be endured rather than enjoyed, leading them to form very different views on their country of residence. During the mid-nineteenth century, the value of both diplomats and consuls to their home government often rested rather more in their ability to describe and explain foreign affairs than in their function as implementers of foreign policy or representatives of British interests overseas. Such observations and opinions could prove influential, and by comparing and contrasting the personal experiences of such individuals in Italy during the 1860s and ’70s, this paper enhances our understanding of British perceptions of the country at the same time as seeking to account for the strange combination of adoration and contempt they felt towards it during this critical phase of Italian history.
    LanguageEnglish
    Title of host publicationExiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions
    EditorsBarbara Schaff
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam & New York
    Pages141-157
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Fingerprint

    Italy
    Diplomats
    Rome
    Unification
    1860s
    Contempt
    Memoir
    Residence
    Foreign Policy
    Italian History
    Adoration
    Turin
    Personal Experience
    Florence
    Affection
    Foreign Affairs
    Government
    Consuls

    Cite this

    Wright, O. (2010). ‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’. In B. Schaff (Ed.), Exiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions (pp. 141-157). Amsterdam & New York.
    Wright, Owain. / ‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’. Exiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions. editor / Barbara Schaff. Amsterdam & New York, 2010. pp. 141-157
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    abstract = "In 1875 Sir Edward Malet spent just a few months of his diplomatic career as a young attach{\'e} at the British Legation in Rome, yet when he came to write his memoirs a quarter of a century later he described it as ‘the pleasantest post in the service’. Malet’s words could easily have been those of a number of other British diplomats who showed a remarkable affection for Italy and the cities which served successively as its capital during the years following Italian unification: Turin (1861-5), Florence (1865-71), and Rome (from 1871). For certain other British representatives, however, life in Italy could be a much less pleasant experience. Many members of the consular service found that their careers brought them experiences to be endured rather than enjoyed, leading them to form very different views on their country of residence. During the mid-nineteenth century, the value of both diplomats and consuls to their home government often rested rather more in their ability to describe and explain foreign affairs than in their function as implementers of foreign policy or representatives of British interests overseas. Such observations and opinions could prove influential, and by comparing and contrasting the personal experiences of such individuals in Italy during the 1860s and ’70s, this paper enhances our understanding of British perceptions of the country at the same time as seeking to account for the strange combination of adoration and contempt they felt towards it during this critical phase of Italian history.",
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    Wright, O 2010, ‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’. in B Schaff (ed.), Exiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions. Amsterdam & New York, pp. 141-157.

    ‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’. / Wright, Owain.

    Exiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions. ed. / Barbara Schaff. Amsterdam & New York, 2010. p. 141-157.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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    AB - In 1875 Sir Edward Malet spent just a few months of his diplomatic career as a young attaché at the British Legation in Rome, yet when he came to write his memoirs a quarter of a century later he described it as ‘the pleasantest post in the service’. Malet’s words could easily have been those of a number of other British diplomats who showed a remarkable affection for Italy and the cities which served successively as its capital during the years following Italian unification: Turin (1861-5), Florence (1865-71), and Rome (from 1871). For certain other British representatives, however, life in Italy could be a much less pleasant experience. Many members of the consular service found that their careers brought them experiences to be endured rather than enjoyed, leading them to form very different views on their country of residence. During the mid-nineteenth century, the value of both diplomats and consuls to their home government often rested rather more in their ability to describe and explain foreign affairs than in their function as implementers of foreign policy or representatives of British interests overseas. Such observations and opinions could prove influential, and by comparing and contrasting the personal experiences of such individuals in Italy during the 1860s and ’70s, this paper enhances our understanding of British perceptions of the country at the same time as seeking to account for the strange combination of adoration and contempt they felt towards it during this critical phase of Italian history.

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    Wright O. ‘The “Pleasantest Post” in the Service? Contrasting British Diplomatic and Consular Experiences in Early Liberal Italy’. In Schaff B, editor, Exiles, Emigrés and Intermediaries: Anglo-Italian Cultural Transactions. Amsterdam & New York. 2010. p. 141-157