Summer and Flirtation in Russia.
With the earliest advent of summer the tide of travel from F.ussiau cities to the country assumes gigantic proportions; but even in the nearest and most frequented summer resorts it would be futile to look for any kind of boarding-house. People begin hiring furnished and unfurnished houses—called datchas— in such places as early as February and Maroh, and as soon as May sets in you see great car loads of furniture and kitchen utensils slowly wending their way along the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to their destinations. Each family brings its own cook and a separate retinue of servants, often its horses and its carriages—bringe, in fact, all the cares and annoyances of housekeeping. The Imperial Family iB the first to set the example of plain living, adherence to the popular Russian dress, and the observance of oldtime customs. Taking in this their cue from the Czar's household, all grades of society follow suit. The moat approved style of feminine dress on the datcha is simply the Russian peasant woman's cos tume, while men don plain brown holland or pongee suits—the peasant dress being worn only by men of pronounced Slavophil tendencies. IDYLLIC FREEDOM. One very important feature of city life which is invariably loft behind is the clannishness which prevails among the urban population while at home. In St. Petersburg, families live in large apartmenthouses, not caring even to know who their next-door neighbors are. In Moscow, again, families occupy separate houses, shutting themselves up from their neighbors, visiting only among the set to which they belong by family connection or business affiliation. But the advent of summer brings a thorough revolution in social intercourse. The datchas stand in such close proximity that neighbors are not long in striking up acquaintances. Though the elder people may show little inclination to form friendships among strangers, young people are frequently thrown together, and in the course of the season many such wahlverwandschaft& are firmly cemented which would never have come into existence under the separative tendencies of eity life. Young people spend their days rowing on the lakes and rivers, playing oroquet, or tramping through woods in search of mushrooms and wild berries; or else—in season—the men go out hunting, while the wives, eweathearts, and sisters
join them at midday, bringing over in a cart all the necessaries for an al fresco dinner, to be spread in some dry Bhady spot within reach of the marshy grounds where the game-birds are found. In the evening, again, when that world-famed twilight sets in, which in Northern Russia, during the summer months, extends almost from sunset to dawn, the youDg people drift together once more; PHILOSOPHICAL FLIRTATION.
Of course flirtations are proceeding on every side; There is not a girl who, at the end of the season, will not have found her special " affinity," Social life in Russia—even in large centres of population—is cast on such lines as constantly to throw the men and women together ; family men are in the habit of bringing their unmarried friends to their homes. Here social and business questions, as well as politics, all such topics as are considered of interest to men alone, are freely discussed in the family circle mostly over the tea-table. The 'girls, as well as the women, get to be thoroughly versed and interested in the most serious of life's problems, and, as occasion offers, turn out splendid helpmeets to men in all their undertakings. No matter what social or political question is brought uppermost by the times', it is thoroughly discussed in the presence of women, and the men's course is frequently modified according to the women's suggestions. So, in their flirtations, then, the younger of the two kindred spirits the more they vie with each othor in stringing up their talk to the most serious topics; their idea is that love may make them womanish and handicap their usefulness in their chosen sphere of action, LIBEKAL-MINDED YOUNG LADIES. As soon, however, as a couple of lovers come to an understanding, thsy begin to lay plans for a life's work in common. The future does not appear to these enthusiasts in any other form than that of a wide Held of duties toward their lower, oppressed brethren. A Russian girl of liberal tendencies scorns the idea of being " supported ' by her husband. And, again, it would bo difficult to find young people in Russia nowadays who would be willing to pledge their love to one another " for ever and ever," as was the custom of sentimental lovers of former times. Their acknowledged ambition, however, is to be " honest " before anything else, and they promise to deal fairly with each other and not treat each other with rcchavffi sentiment when there is nothing else to offer. When the ardor of love gives out they are prepared to remain true and fast friends. It is understood, nevertheless (according to an American critic of Russian manners), that were a stronger unconquerable passion to assert itself in either of the two for another, then the ethics of the young " Intelligencia " would command the unloved husband or wife to commit a. peculiar kind of ha7-ikari giving his or her partner full liberty of choice. Though the Greek Church is strongly set agaiast divorce, and there is no other than church marriage recognised by Russian laws, there is a kind of pride among liberal-minded young married people which impels them not to impose love and company on one who refuses to appreciate it. Not long since still stranger ideas were popular among the educated Russian young people. A few years ago it was by no means an uncommon thing for two young enthusiasts to marry on a firm understanding never to assume towards one another the relations of husband and wife. This transaction was called a "fictitious" marriage, and was generally resorted to to help a liberal-minded maiden who had not yet reached her legal majority to throw off the tutelage of unsympathetic parents or tutors, and to acquire the right to dispose of her estate or her money at her own will; since in Russia a married woman—no matteHiow young and inexperienced—is perfectly independent of her husband in her property rights.
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Summer and Flirtation in Russia., Evening Star, Issue 8038, 15 October 1889
Summer and Flirtation in Russia. Evening Star, Issue 8038, 15 October 1889
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