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pole procuring us admission to the open centre-space, we have been able to drive rapidly up and down the street, so as to pass in review the two lines of sledges on either side. The weather during the whole week has been most beautiful, a hard frost and a bright sun. The Tamboff promenaders, however, instead of enjoying the fine and pleasant portion of the day, do not begin to appear till about four o'clock, when the sun is not very far from the horizon. By about five o'clock the street is crowded, and the sledgers continue patiently to glide up and down till nearly seven.
This inconvenient fashion arises, I presume, from the Russian habit of wasting two or three hours of day-light in sleeping after an early dinner. The lower orders consider it most unlucky not to appear in a sledge at the promenade at least once during the carnival ; thinking, as I am told, that it helps them on their way to heaven; the forfeiture of which it is also said they fear to risk if they omit to get drunk in the course of the week. Be this as it
are few among them who do not scrupulously avoid all difficulty on this score; and during the two last days happy is the master who has a cook sober enough to dress his dinner, or a servant steady enough to place it on the table.
On Thursday there was a public assembly, the last ball of the season, and an extremely dull affair. Yesterday there was a masquerade for the servants,
small traders, &c. We went with some friends into the gallery to witness the amusement, and the decorum, and even politeness, which prevailed was quite as great as among the more fashionable society which had appeared in the same room the night before. The ladies' maids were dressed in imitation of their mistresses, and for the most part wore neither mask nor fancy dress.
The men were, however, equipped in general in various grotesque costumes, being disguised by veils placed instead of masks, to hide their features; these were, however, removed in general as the wearers became hot with dancing. Waltzes, quadrilles, and Polonaises were executed with tolerable success, but the national dance, which was frequently repeated, was the great attraction of the evening. This is performed by two persons at a time, and is a sort of pantomime representing a courtship. The partners are placed opposite to one another about seven or eight feet apart; the gentleman first advances with many graceful and winning steps to his fair vis-à-vis, who remains in her place; he then figures in various attractive attitudes before her, but in vain, as she turns brusquely round and rejects him, upon which he finally retires. It is now the lady's turn to make similar advances, which, of course, are received in the same manner with demonstrations of scorn. This alternate advance and retreat is carried on for some time; the talent of the performers consisting in the
coquetry displayed on both sides, and the grace and variety of their movements; at last, the lady instead of rejecting her suitor, accepts his attentions, and deigns to receive the kiss which concludes the dance.
Yesterday, however, I only saw the dance executed in this manner once; the performers on the occasion being a masked man and a very pretty girl dressed in the Russian costume, who both played their parts extremely well. With the exception of this one instance, the performers were all men, and the dance in each case became a trial of skill and activity between the two partners, to see which could invent the most extraordinary and grotesque steps and motions, and which could keep up longest the violent exertion of this amusement.
A farewell dinner was yesterday given by the nobility of this province, to the Ex-Governor on his departure. I was favoured with an invitation, and was glad of the opportunity of witnessing a public dinner in this country.
About seventy gentlemen were assembled on the occasion; the tables being laid so as to form three sides of an oblong. At four o'clock, the Ex-Governor arrived, and was received by the principal people in the room; a military band (a very bad one), which was stationed in the gallery, striking up as he entered. We sat down to dinner almost immediately, the guest of the day being placed in the centre of the cross-table, supported on
his right hand by my brother-in-law, who being Marshal, officiated as President; and on his left by two Generals, Oushakoff and Arapoff: I sat opposite to these gentlemen. The dinner was very good, all the best cooks in the town having contributed their services, without, as the event proved, “spoiling the broth.” Towards the conclusion of dinner, we stood up and drank the Emperor's health in champagne, the wine always used for toasts in Russia. The band played “God save the king," the glasses were replenished, and the President gave the health of the Ex-Governor without speech or comment; we again rose to do honour to the toast, and the compliment was acknowledged in a few words. General Oushakoff's health was then drunk with congratulations on a new Order which he had lately received; he briefly returned thanks, and dinner being by this time brought to a close, we rose from table, and coffee was handed round the room, where we stood conversing in groups.
The ExGovernor soon after made his bow and took his leave, but not till the champagne had once more circulated as a stirrup cup to wish him a safe journey o Petersburg
A public dinner in England is generally arranged for the purpose of allowing some person or persons an opportunity of making speeches, and expressing opinions on public matters: but this can never be the case in Russia, where no one can venture to discuss
political topics : and under these circumstances I certainly think that the few words in which the toasts were yesterday proposed and responded to, were far preferable to harangues half an hour long, on the extraordinary merits of the gentlemen to whom the compliment of drinking their health was paid, and equally tedious assurances in return of deep feeling and sincere gratitude, in which, most probably, no one would have believed.