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on entering the room walked up to his Eminence, and kissed his hand, receiving his blessing ; we of course avoided this ceremony.
He is a strong, harsh-featured man of about forty, with no great expression of dignity in his countenance, which is, however, grave and calm. He was dressed in a long robe, or caftan of dark brown flowered satin, with large sleeves, displaying an under-dress of pale green silk. He was decorated with the red ribbon, cross, and star of St. Anne, and on his breast hung a miniature image, set in diamonds ; in his hand he held a rosary of white beads; and on his head he wore the usual monk's cap of black velvet, made like a hat without a rim, and with a hood hanging down behind. The whole party amounted to twenty-nine, among them were several priests, and one monk, who of course were in attendance on their superior. When dinner was announced, the Archbishop led the procession into the dining-room, walking alone at the head of the guests: the choristers of his convent were placed in a gallery, and they sung a prayer before we sat down, and several hymns at intervals during dinner: they were, however, rather nearer to us than they should have been, and their voices, adapted to a church, were too loud for the room.
The dinner, which consisted entirely of fish and vegetables under various forms, was most recherchè, and served in excellent style; but the number of dishes, between the sterlet soup which began the repast, and the ice
which ushered in the dessert, was so great, that although each was handed round in duplicate, we were nearly three hours at table, and I could not help asking my next neighbour, as the variety of good things appeared interminable,-how many were necessary
in Russia to constitute a fast dinner? he replied as many as possible. Wine of every kind appeared in turn, and in short the object seemed to be that of showing how luxuriously people might fare without the use of meat, and the whole thing amounted to a practical satire on the Russian system of fasting.
Towards the conclusion of dinner, while the servants were handing round champagne, a burly deacon, who was seated near the bottom of the table, rose from his seat, and placed himself before the image in the corner of the room. I could not at all understand what he was about, but I thought that he was appointed to say grace after dinner, and that he had rather mistaken his time. However, he kept looking over his shoulder, his back being turned to the table, and was evidently waiting for a signal, which at last he apparently received, for all of a sudden he opened his mouth, and thundered forth a chaunt, while in an instant the whole party, excepting the archbishop, rose to their feet, and I was utterly at a loss to comprehend
On the one side I saw the deacon singing with the voice of a stentor, and bowing and crossing
himself before the image ; and I might have supposed myself in a church. If I looked the other way, there were the guests standing up on both sides of the table, each with a bumper of champagne in his right hand; it appeared a convivial party, where a popular toast was to be welcomed with three times three. This incongruous spectacle lasted for two or three minutes, when the chaunt ceased, and we all resumed our seats. I then asked my neighbour, who was somewhat amused at my surprise, what all this meant, and he told me we had only been drinking with the usual forms the health of the prelate at the top of the table.
I am very glad to have had an opportunity of witnessing an entertainment of this kind, as it is not an every-day occurrence; and much of it was both new to me and strongly characteristic of Russian manners and customs. In general, however, it must be owned that a set-dinner at three o'clock is not a thing to be desired, as it breaks up the day, and the whole affair is generally over, and the house clear of guests by five o'clock, just as the ice might otherwise begin to thaw and the society become animated. At dinner the two sexes are carefully separated, the ladies sitting on one side of the table and the gentlemen on the other, as if they were afraid of one another. In consequence of which gothic arrangement, the conversation at table is apt to be peculiarly dull and
languid. Sometimes the master of the house, instead of sitting down with his guests, spends the whole time of dinner in walking about from one to another, and seeing that the servants are alert in attending to or anticipating their wishes; this, however, is an antiquated notion of hospitality which is now almost obsolete.
Severity of Frost- Frost-bites-Snow Storms in the Steppes-Panic
-Destruction of the Winter Palace by Fire --Conduct of the Emperor and Empress-Anecdote-Washerwomen in WinterSentinels - Christmas Gaieties — Mode of issuing InvitationsMorning calls--Ladies' dress--Evening parties--Room for improvement--Separation of the sexes in society--Secret Police-Count Benkendorf --National reserve--Remarkable occurrence at a Masquerade.
Tamboff, January 16th, 1837. The frost has now lasted for two months without interruption, and the winter is considered very severe even in Russia. We have frequently had twentyfour or five, and sometimes, thirty degrees of cold by Reaumur; and the intensity of this cold has been often increased by wind; for twenty degrees of frost on a still day are more supportable than ten with a wind.
The difficulty in going out is to preserve the face, especially the nose and forehead from being frost-bitten or rather frozen. When this misfortune occurs no pain is felt, but the part
affected becomes hard and white ;* it is easily cured at first
* A stranger will often stop a person in the street to tell him that his nose or his cheek is frozen.