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December 25 1812: Diplomatic Dinner


On December 25 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams writes the following diary entry
25th. I dined at Count Romanzofts with a company of about sixty persons, the Corps diplomatique, and the principal Ministers of the country. I was seated at the table between Count Maistre and the Duke de Polignac, with both of whom I had much conversation. The news was the evacuation of Courland by the French, and the taking of three thousand Prussians prisoners by the Marquis de Paulucci, the Governor of Riga. This was so small an affair amidst the multitude of great and brilliant successes of the Russian arms that it was spoken of rather contemptuously. Count Romanzoft, laughing heartily and apologizing to me for laying aside the reserve of the Chancellor, told me that the boys in the streets who sold the bulletins, when they followed persons and found them slow to take their goods, would urge them by saying, " Oh, take it! take it| It is not from Paulucci, but from Wittgenstein." The new-comer, Count Lowenhielm, appeared to be in a sort of ecstasy after dinner, at the band of music, particularly the horns, in the chamber adjoining the dining-hall. Admiral Bentinck complained that they smelt too strong of human nature. The Admiral told me that Napoleon had confiscated in Holland property belonging to him worth a hundred thousand pounds sterling. 

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