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It is only a few years since the Russians emerged from a state of
A late empress of Russia, as a punishment for some female frailties,
ordered a most beautiful young lady of family to be publicly chastised,
in a manner which was hardly less indelicate than severe.
It is said that the Russian ladies were formerly as submissive to their
husbands in their families, as the latter are to their superiors in the
field; and that they thought themselves ill treated, if they were not
often reminded of their duty by the discipline of a _whip_, manufactured
by themselves, which they presented to their husbands on the day of
their marriage. The latest travellers, however, assert, that they find
no remaining traces of this custom at present.
Russian fathers, of all classes, generally arrange marriages for their
children, without consulting their inclinations. Among the peasantry, if
the girl has the name of being a good housewife, her parents will not
fail to have applications for her, whatever may be her age or personal
endowments. As soon as a young man is old enough to be married, his
parents seek a wife for him, and all is settled before the young couple
know any thing of the matter.
Their nuptial ceremonies are peculiar to themselves; and formerly
consisted of many whimsical rites, some of which are now disused. On her
wedding day, the bride is crowned with a garland of wormwood; and, after
the priest has tied the nuptial knot, his clerk or sexton throws a
handful of hops upon the head of the bride, wishing that she might prove
as fruitful as that plant. She is then led home, with abundance of
coarse ceremonies, which are now wearing off even among the lowest
ranks; and the barbarous treatment of wives by their husbands is either
guarded against by the laws of the country, or by particular
stipulations in the marriage contract.
In the conversation and actions of the Russian ladies, there is hardly
any thing of that softness and delicacy which distinguishes the sex in
other parts of Europe. Even their exercises and diversions have more of
the masculine than the feminine. The present empress, with the ladies of
her court, sometimes divert themselves by shooting at a mark.
Drunkenness, the vice of almost every cold climate, they are so little
ashamed of, that not many years ago, when a lady got drunk at the house
of a friend, it was customary for her to return next day, and thank him
for the pleasure he had done her.
Females, however, in Russia, possess several advantages. They share the
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