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ambassador. But then he is treated as a sort of semi-
ambassador, something more than a mere envoy, and has
been all winter preparing to live in style.

The agent from the Hanseatic cities vanished from the
diplomatic circle about two months ago, upon the incorpora-
tion of his sovereigns with the French empire. I have not
seen him since. He was a very respectable man, and from
his long residence in this country an agreeable acquaintance.
His name is Wiggers.

The charge d'affaires from Portugal, the Chevalier Navarro
d'Andrade, I had known as the Secretary of the Portugal
legation at Berlin. He is also my very worthy and valuable
friend, but he is recalled. A minister is appointed to come
in his stead, and he expects to depart in May or June.

Lastly the French ambassador, Coulaincourt, Duke do
Vicenza, Grand Ecuyer of France, one of the most accom-
plished as well as one of the greatest noblemen of the Na-
poleon creation, has received his recall, and only waits for
the arrival of his successor, a Count and General Lauriston.^
We shall regret the ambassador, whose civilities to us have
been frequent and uninterrupted, and but for a reserve
which we have thought necessary in accepting them, would
have been much more frequent still. He lives in a style
of magnificence scarcely surpassed by the Emperor himself,
and has an easy unassuming simplicity of manners, which
is not very common among the modern grandees, and which
does not always distinguish even the antediluvian great.

* Jacques-Alexandre-Bernard Law, Marquis de Lauriston (1768-1828).


And here ends my first canto of mutability. I will make
you acquainted with many of the persons whom we have
most frequently associated with here, and show you how
they pass like Chinese shadows before us. But whatever
changes I may witness or experience, be assured that my
duty and affection to you will remain immutable. All well.


St. Petersburg, 10/22 March, 181 1.

I dined yesterday at the French ambassador's, at a diplo-
matic dinner of about sixty persons, in the highest and most
formal style. I give you a description of this entertain-
ment, which may amuse you as a specimen of the usages at
the time and place, and give you an idea of what is under-
stood to be the suitable style of an ambassador. The in-
vitation was by printed card, sent five or six days before the
dinner, which by the custom is the signal of a formal enter-
tainment. All invitations to dinner without ceremony are
sent by verbal message, or given personally. The printed
cards, although on the face of them they ask for an answer,
never are answered, unless to decline the invitation. The
only answer expected is personal attendance. When the
Invitation is without ceremony, the guests are expected to go
not In full dress, but In frock coats, and if you choose in
boots and with a round hat. But when the Invitation Is by
card, they must go in full court dress, that Is to say in uni-
form, for there Is no court dress here but an uniform. In
the summer season, however, the Chancellor of the Empire,
Count Romanzoff, sometimes Invites by cards, specifying
that the company are to come in frock coats.


The hour of dining varies at different houses from four to
five o'clock. The Chancellor's cards are always for four
o'clock, the ambassador's for half-past four. These are the
only two houses where entertainments of this kind are given,
or at least where I have witnessed them.

At half-past four therefore I went to the ambassador's
hotel, at the outer door of which stood the porter, or StvisSj
in full dressed livery, deeply bordered with gold lace, a three-
cornered hat, also gold laced, a broad girdle of cloth passing
over from the right shoulder to the left side, bordered with
gold lace and worked with gold embroidery, and a large thick
staff about five feet long, and headed with silver. He opened
the folding doors and I stepped from the carriage into the
house. As my style here is altogether republican, I went
only in a chariot and four, attended by two footmen in livery,
and driven by a coachman on the carriage box, and a postil-
lion, between boy and man, on the right side horse of the
leading pair. My own footmen followed me about half the
way up the stairs, when I threw off and gave them my
shoop, a large outside fur garment, fit only for wearing in a
carriage. The weather not being cold I had not taken with
me the loose boots lined with fur or flannel, which are also
worn in winter when riding in carriages, and are thrown off
on entering the house. These are indispensable in the sever-
ity of the season, and are slipped on and off over shoes and
silk stockings with as much ease as the shoop Is from the

On the steps of the staircase at the Ambassador's hotel
stood a line of twenty footmen, reaching from the bottom to
the top of the stairs, all in the same livery as the Swiss, ex-
cepting the girdle, staff and hat, and In silk stockings In-
stead of boots. They stand there from the time when the
company begins to come, until all the guests are arrived.


They stand like so many statues, and are there merely for
the magnificence of the show. At the top of the staircase,
at the folding doors of the first antichamber, stood two
chasseurs with pea green liveries, as deeply laced with silver
as those of the footmen with gold, and with each a hanger
suspended at the thigh by a leathern baldric passing over
the shoulder. These like the Swiss were in boots. In the
second antichamber was a line of eight upper servants, above
the rank of footmen and chasseurs, in uniform dresses em-
broidered in gold, but of the same colors with the liveries.
They were all in silk stockings, and stood like the footmen,
merely to be seen by the company. In the third antichamber
the guests were received and greeted by the Ambassador's
secretaries and by the French consul. The Ambassador him-
self stood in the saloon, near the door of entrance, both folds
of which were wide open, and there received and returned the
salutations of each guest as he arrived, after which the guest
passed on into the circle standing without any regular order
about the hall. In the course of half an hour the whole
company was assembled, and all continued standing until
the Ambassador's steward in a full dress, not of livery, but
of cloths richly embroidered in the ancient style of court
dresses, came and announced to him that the shaal was
ready. The shaal is a dram of cordials served with a relish
of cold tongue, or ham, caviar, cheese, anchovies and other
stimulants to appetite, which it is customary to take im-
mediately before sitting down to dinner. It was served on a
small table In the second antichamber, and each guest who
chose to take it helped himself at the table, without sitting
down. This ceremony being performed, which did not oc-
cupy more than five minutes of time, the Ambassador bowing
round to the company Invited the Chancellor to pass into
the dining hall, and accompanied him to his place at his


own right hand at the middle of the table. The remainder
of the company followed without any particular order of
precedence, each person taking his place according to his
own idea of propriety, or to the courtesy of others. All the
ministers and general officers, however, national and foreign,
waited yesterday, and gave the step of precedence, imme-
diately after the Chancellor and the Ambassador, to the
Austrian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary,
Count St. Julien, who for certain reasons is treated with
very peculiar distinction at this time. The rest of the com-
pany took their places as I have mentioned at discretion.
The dinner was over in about an hour, and seldom lasts
longer on these occasions of parade. There is no distinction
of different services, and no time lost in getting on and re-
moving dishes, or in carving. The table is elegantly dec-
orated with a plateau, and a variety of images in porcelain
and ornamented plates filled with confectionery and fruits,
which form part of the dessert, but no dish is ever set upon
the table. Those that require carving are all carved by the
principal servants in attendance. The dinner begins with
soup, a plate of which Is carried by the footman and offered to
every guest at the table. The soup plates are of elegant
porcelain. Then follows a succession of seven or eight
dishes of flesh and fish variously cooked, with and without
vegetables, and some of them with pastry according to the
fashion of French cookery. If the dishes in which they are
served are large, the footmen bring small portions of it
round, and present them to every guest as with the soup.
If the dishes are small, they are presented in succession to
the guest, each of whom helps himself from the dish as he
pleases. Bottles of French table wines, red and white al-
ternately, and decanters of water are placed on the table
between every two persons seated at it, with a tumbler and


a wine glass to each person. But a variety of fine wines are
served round by the butler and some of the footmen, between
every dish or two that is presented. One glass of each sort
of wine is offered to each guest. They usually begin with
madeira, to which succeed various French wines, red and
white alternately, until champagne is presented with the
last dish of flesh. Then come jellies, preserves, fruits,
sweetmeats, and last of all ice creams, with a small glass of
sweet wine. There are no healths drunk and no toasts,
and every guest has as little to do with the drinking as with
the eating of another. Among the liquors served round are
equally English porter and ale, and frozen punch in cham-
pagne glasses. On rising from the table the footmen be-
hind the chairs offer tumblers of green glass filled with
water to every guest to wash his mouth and fingers. The
company return through the antichamber into the saloon,
where they continue standing as before dinner. The servants
hand round coffee, and afterwards cordials in glasses not
much larger than thimbles, after which each guest drops off
one by one without taking leave, or being noticed by any
person as he retires. At the head of the staircase he finds
the chasseurs and footmen, who the moment he appears
call for his servants, one of whom comes to him and puts on
his shoop and fur boots, while another goes and orders his
carriage up to the door. There stands the Swiss, and at
the moment when the carriage drives up opens the door, the
guest enters his carriage, and goes home or wherever his
business or pleasure calls him.

I said there was no distinction of services at the table,
but after the soup until the last dish of flesh emphatically
called roast, which is always accompanied with a salad and
followed by the glass of champagne, the plates in which every-
thing is presented and the dishes are of silver plate, after


which the plates are of the most magnificent china, usually
of Sevres, painted with portraits, views, landscapes or history
pieces, no two plates of which are alike. At this period of the
repast the silver plates are taken away from before every
guest, and in their stead is substituted a plate of this superb
porcelain, with a napkin of more beautiful damask than the
first served, which is however not taken away, two dessert
knives, a fork, a spoon and a paddle^ all of silver gilt, except
the blade of one of the knives which is of steel. The knife
with the silver blade is to pare or to cut fruit, that with a
steel blade to cut preserves or confectionery, or anything
requiring a keener edge than silver. The paddle (I call it
so from its form, I know not its proper name,) is to take up
the liquid jellies, or preserves, or ice creams, which spread
themselves over the surface of your plate and might escape
the scoop and thickness of a spoon. The second napkin is
merely to wipe your lips and fingers when you wash them in
rising from table, that which you have used at dinner being
supposed less suitable for that purpose.

The attention of the servants to the guests at table is so
vigilant that you scarcely ever have occasion to ask for any-
thing. The instant that you have emptied your plate, or
that you lay down your knife, and fork, or spoon, your plate
is taken away and a clean one is given you in its stead. If
you choose to have your knife, fork and spoon changed,
you lay them, or either of them, in the plate. If you lay
them aside on the cloth, they are not taken away; whenever
they are, others are immediately given you with the plate.
If you have occasion for a fresh supply of bread, the footmen
perceive it at least as soon as you do yourself, and present you
a new piece, just as you are ready to call for it. If you
take two or three glasses of the various kinds of wine that
are handed round, the glasses as you empty them are taken


away without any hint from you. The name of each kind
of wine is mentioned to you by the servant who offers it.
If you decline taking any dish or glass offered you, there is
no occasion to speak, you only raise your hand, or touch
the back of your forefinger on the edge of the plate or of
the waiter in which it is presented. The servant understands
you, and offers the same plate or waiter to the guest seated
next you. As several plates are serving from the same dish
at once in various parts of the table, the whole company
is served in a very few minutes. The conversations of each
guest are merely with his next neighbors at table, and in a
low voice that they may all be carried on at once. The
voice of a servant is never heard, unless to mention the
names of the wines as they are offered. The Ambassador
and the Chancellor sometimes have a band of music,
who occasionally strike up an air or a march at intervals
during the dinner; yesterday however there was none.

Ex uno discs omnes. I give you the description of an in-
dividual for an idea of the genus. All these parade dinners
are alike, differing only in some insignificant details. For in-
stance the Ambassador, who is one of the politest men in the
world, never pays any attention to any part of the dinner
more than any one of the guests. The Chancellor usually
himself pours out the sweet wine, the last that is served,
two kinds of which he has before him, he calls out to each
guest by name, asks him which of the two he will have, and
according to his choice sends him a glass by a footman. This
you will observe is a mark of special attention, but it is
troublesome both to the Chancellor and to the guests. The
Ambassador's fashion is more of a piece with the whole
system. The servants carry round the sweet wines like all
the rest. They offer to each guest the choice of two, but in
that as in everything else the master of the house can be


distinguished from the guests while at table only hy the
seat which he occupies. Everything moves like a piece of
clockwork. The dishes, the cookery, the wines are all of
the most exquisite inventions of luxury, and yet there is
less of intemperance in fifty such feasts, than in one of our
dinners succeeded by a carousal of six hours long, swilling
upon a mixture of madeira wine and brandy.

No. 43. [Robert Smith]

St. Petersburg, 26 March, 181 1.


In my letter to you of 12 February last. No. 39, I men-
tioned that of the twenty-three American vessels which
had arrived in Russian ports at the close of last season, and
the admission of which had been suspended so far as related
to the disposal of their cargoes, the papers of seventeen had
been returned, and that the cargoes and parts of cargoes
which were provided with certificates of origin conformably
to the laws of this country were ordered to be admitted.
I informed you of the repeated promises, which I had re-
ceived from Baron Campenhausen (who has since that time
been promoted to the office of Comptroller General of the
Empire) with regard to the cases upon which the decision
was still suspended, and of my reasons for not speaking
positively to you concerning them. I had afterwards at
various times farther conversations with the Baron, in which
the same promises were repeated, and in terms which left
me nothing to desire but to see them realized. In the mean-
time nothing was done and the impatience and uneasiness


of the persons concerned in the property were continually
increasing. After waiting upwards of three weeks, I re-
quested a conference with the Chancellor, Count Romanzoff,
and on the eighth instant ^ delivered to him a minute con-
taining a statement of all the suspended cases and urging
a speedy and favorable decision upon them. The Count
intimated some surprise that the decision had been so long
delayed, and assured me that he would send an official note
to the Baron to hasten his proceedings, which I know he
accordingly did. Last Thursday, the 21st instant,^ I met
Baron Campenhausen in company, and he told me that the
Emperor's decision had been given the day before; that it
was favorable upon all the cases with regard to which I had
made representations; that in all the cases where the proper
certificates were wanting, the goods should be admitted on
the engagement of the persons interested to produce the
certificates hereafter; and that in respect of all the other
parts of cargoes which were deficient on various points of
formality, his Majesty, in consideration that they were cases
of Americans, had ordered that they should all be admitted.
The Baron at the same time expressed much personal regret
that the matter had been so long delayed. There is still one
case, of a character different from all the rest, and which is
not included in this decision. It is of a vessel called the Eliza,
which arrived last summer from the island of TenerifTe at
Archangel. She had the misfortune to have come from the
place, from which all the English vessels with the false papers,
which were condemned, and the cargoes of which were con-
fiscated last summer, were pretended to have been cleared.
And as the papers of a part of her cargo were similar in ap-
pearance to those which in the other cases had been detected

^ The conference is given in the Memoirs, under this date.

^ lb., where the date has dropped from before the first paragraph on II. 246.


as forgeries, they were unfortunately brought under the
same suspicion, and the Commission of Neutral Navigation
at Archangel have sentenced it to be confiscated. At the
same time, however, the vessel and a part of her cargo have
been cleared. The vessel and all the cargo belonged to Mr.
Thorndike of Beverly in the state of Massachusetts. As
the law stands here, if a part of a ship's cargo upon which
false papers are produced is more than half the value of the
whole, it subjects the whole to confiscation. If less than
half, then the confiscation applies only to the articles falsely
documented. The cargo of the Eliza consisted of dye-woods
and wine. The papers for the wood were found regular;
those for the wines incurred the sentence of condemnation.
It became a question whether the value of the wines con-
stituted more or less than half that of the whole cargo. The
Commission adjudged it to be less and therefore cleared
the wood. But from this part of the sentence the imperial
procurer or public attorney appealed to the Council of the
empire, while Mr. Thorndike's agent appealed from the part
which sentenced the wine to condemnation. In the minute
which I delivered to Count Romanzoff on the 8th instant,
I included the statement of the Eliza's case with the rest;
but as it must come separately for the consideration of the
Council, it was not determined with them, and Baron Camp-
enhausen informed me, that it would be necessarily delayed
some time longer. He led me however to expect, that the
eventual decision of the Imperial Council would be as favor-
able in this case as in the others.

I mentioned in a former letter the recall of the French
Ambassador, who has resided upwards of three years at
this court, and the appointment of a General Count Lauris-
ton, as his successor. The misunderstandings between the
cabinets of St. Petersburg and Paris have become so con-


sidcrablc and so notorious, that this event contributes to
excite the uneasiness of those who were already apprehen-
sive of a speedy rupture between France and Russia. The
Duke de Vicence has during the whole of his embassy here
been treated by the Emperor Alexander with a degree of
favor and until lately of confidence, which he never showed
to any other ambassador. He has on his own part constantly
endeavored to conciliate the sentiments of the principal
persons of the Empire towards France, and although their
aversions were too deeply rooted to render this a practicable
task, he succeeded at least in making himself personally as
agreeable as to any individual of his nation in the same situa-
tion would have been possible. In supporting to the utmost
of his ability the influence of France with this government
he had contracted attachments, which led him to estimate
very highly the importance of harmony between his country
and Russia, and to give all its weight to the Russian side of
the discussion between them. He was sincerely and anxiously
desirous of preserving peace and among the conjectured
reasons of his recall it has been surmised that he has not
urged the late demands and pretentions of France here with
sufficient energy for the satisfaction of his master. The
reason assigned in the French official gazette for his recall
is the state of his health and his own repeated solicitations.
His health, without being perfectly good, is hardly infirm
enough to serve as more than the pretext for a resignation.^
It is not probable that this consideration alone has occasioned
his sudden and unexpected recall (such it certainly was to
himself) at this period so universally viewed as critical in
the relations between the two countries. The personal re-
spect and attention shown him by the Emperor and the

' See despatches from Caulaincourt to the Due de Cadore in Vandal, Napoleon el
Alexander /, H. 553-559.


Chancellor have not suffered any abatement, and the most
magnificent present ever made to an ambassador on his
departure from this port Is by the Emperor's order preparing
for him. It Is probable that the first occasion upon which
the Influence, which he had so long exercised here, failed of
success was that upon which Count Romanzoff told me that
the attachment of the Russian government to the United
States was more obstinate than I was aware of. The next
was In the permission to the late king of Sweden to embark
from Riga. Then came the refusal to adopt the French
tariff of prohibitory duties upon all colonial merchandises:
and the auto-da-fe of English manufactures: then the refusal
to confiscate or even to exclude the American vessels from
Gothenburg under pretence that they were English property
in disguise: and lastly the Russian tariff and manifest re-
specting commerce during the present year, which as was
anticipated has given great dissatisfaction at Paris. On the
other hand his Inability to give satisfaction to the Russian
government upon any of the numerous and Important
causes of complaint, which France has given to Russia;
the detection of his correspondence with a Russian officer,^
which occasioned the arrest and exile of that officer; and the
direct violation of the treaty of Tilsit In the spoliation com-
mitted upon the Duke of Oldenburg, with the known
Intrigue of the French charge d'affaires at Constantinople
to prevent the peace with Turkey, have all concurred to
shake his credit and to make the substitution of another
person in his stead as desirable as It may be expedient for
the present purposes of his government. It remains to be
seen what tone of negotiation will be assumed by his successor,
whose arrival is expected in a fortnight or three weeks.
Count Chernlcheff, a confidential officer of the Emperor

^ General Hitroff, p. 14, supra.


Alexander, who had been dispatched about three months
ago to Paris, arrived here last week with a letter expressive
of the most friendly sentiments from the Emperor Napoleon
and is this day gone again with the reply. ^ The Emperor

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