No Entertainment on a Sunday

The Grand Master of Ceremonies hastens to inform Mr. Clifton R. Breckinridge, Minister of the United States of America, that tomorrow, Sunday, January 1, he will have the honor to give to His Majesty the Emperor his letters of credentials.

Last February I posted about one of my favorite letters. The one where the Breckinridges are presented to the Tsar and Tsarina on New Years Day.

Recently I arrived at a letter dated January 22, 1895 from KCB to her aunt Susanna Preston Lees. During the thesis process, I explored a lot of the letters to and from aunt and niece but I don’t remember this one. And it is has a fascinating bit of information.

Last Sunday week we were presented to the Emperor and Empress. It was the Russian New Year when the notice came that we would be expected at the Palace for the purpose our first inchilation (sic) was not to go, but as there seemed to be no entertainment but simply that we would be presented and express good wishes for the New Year, we hesitated.

Letter from KCB to My darling auntie, January 22, 1895, St Petersburg

Why would you hesitate? Because it was Sunday? What observing the Sabbath that important to her? Was it important in 19th century Presbyterianism?

We decided to send for our pastor and consult him. He advised us to go. He said it would be looked upon as a personal affront not to go, and that there was nothing in it but the presentation, absolutely no entertainment so we went. I believe we did right still. I went with a rather a heavy heart.

Letter from KCB to My darling auntie, January 22, 1895, St Petersburg

Can you imagine being posted to a foreign country as the wife of a diplomat and being invited to an official ceremony to be presented to your host countries head of state (and royalty at that) and not going? For any reason!

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