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The rules of life of the muslin lady

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Author: Maria Anisimova

They were called schoolgirls or muslin ladies - graduation dresses were sewn from muslin. The owner of these titles differed infantilism, eccentricity, sentimentality. She could jump and clap her hands for joy, clap her hands in public, sob for any reason and just faint. Such a violent reaction to the environment was explained by many years of isolation from the outside world.

In 1764, the Educational Society of Noble Maidens was created in St. Petersburg, which later became the Smolny Institute, the first female educational institution in Russia. If we consider that before this the need for women's education was put under great doubt, the matter was truly revolutionary. The decree of Catherine II stated that the purpose of the establishment of the institution was "to give the state educated women, good mothers, useful members of the family and society." The institute existed for a century and a half (until 1917), the “spirit of enlightenment” evaporated, and the barracks remained. The ability to bypass them, too, was a science.

All are divided into parfetki and moveshek

The first title was given to those who were perfect (from the French parfaite) in all respects, knew how to behave comme il faut, respond politely, gracefully curtsy and always keep the body straight. Those who were deprived of these virtues were called moveshki (from mauvaise - "bad"). One could get into their number for a carelessly made bed, a loud conversation, a torn stocking, or a loose strand. Corporal punishment was not applied, but to the violators were harsh: the apron was replaced with a special one - with teak, transferred to a special table in the dining room, where you had to eat standing, or left for the whole lunch time to stand still in the middle of the dining room. But some rebelled against the orders consciously. Such Covers by conviction ("desperate") are much more interesting than parquet.

Color clothes do not choose

Pupils wore a uniform that was different in color depending on the age. The younger ones had practical coffee dresses (for which they were called coffee shops or kofulka) with white aprons. The middle ones are blue, the older ones are white with green aprons. The pepinières (those who remained after the end of the main course in order to "grow up" to the classroom lady) had gray outfits. Many girls were kept in the Smolny due to scholarships of individuals. Such young ladies wore a ribbon around the neck with the color of a benefactor. So, the scholars of Emperor Paul I had blue ribbons, the business of the Demidovs were orange, the Saltykovs were crimson.Other girlish things are kept in boxes or hidden on the chest.

Teachers - only "married", elderly and with a defect

Male teachers in the Smolny took only married, if possible older, and even better - with some kind of defect of appearance, but the fans have not been translated. The idol was given gifts, they poured perfume on the hat, they punctured the initials of the celestial being in his honor, they ate soap in his honor, and, wading through the night to the local church, they prayed for his well-being. The eldest pupil could also become a subject of worship, but adoration crossed all the boundaries when it came to the emperor. "Pieces of roast, cucumber, bread" from the table, where Their Majesty dined, were gathered and stored as precious talismans. The royal handkerchief, which happened to be in the hands of the young ladies, was cut into pieces and divided into all, “to wear on the chest.”Adore someone should be sure.

You can sleep off in the infirmary

The temperature in the dormitory did not exceed 16 ° C. The mattresses are hard. Getting up at 6 in the morning, washing with cold Neva water, up to eight lessons a day - so hardened noble maidens.It was possible to warm up and sleep off at the local infirmary, where the young ladies, who perfectly mastered the art of fainting, easily fell.

It is impossible to step on snow

For the winter festivities, the Smolny avenue was covered with boards. The pupils walked exclusively on their own territory and only once a year, in the summer, they were taken to the Tauride Garden, from where all visitors had been expelled.It was considered a great valor to drag a melted snow into the room.

Reading books outside the program is prohibited

So as not to gain harmful ideas and preserve the innocence of thoughts, about which teachers were so concerned. It got to the point thatThe seventh commandment of the law of God ("Do not commit adultery") was covered with a piece of paper.. For institutes there were special editions of the classics in which there were more dots than text. Varlam Shalamov wrote that "the places that were thrown away were collected in a special last volume of the publication, which pupils could buy only after graduating from the institute. This last volume was the subject of special desire for the institutes." If you manage to get the book, you need to hide it well.

Meetings with relatives - on schedule and in front of witnesses

Four hours a week on weekends - in the presence of caregivers. The girls, who spent nine years at the Smolny camp (from 9 to 18), were not allowed to go home. Correspondence with relatives was controlled: both "incoming" and "outgoing" were read by classy ladies. So pupils were protected from the harmful influence of the outside world. Parents could not stop studying at will and take their daughter home; it was impossible to meet more often, butto send letters "bypassing censorship", all that was needed was to pay the maid.

Need to eat no frills

Here is the usual menu for the day. Breakfast: bread with butter and cheese, milk porridge or pasta, tea. Lunch: thin soup without meat, meat from the soup, patty. Dinner: tea with bread. On Wednesdays, Fridays and in the posts, the ration was even tougher: lean soup with cereals, a small piece of boiled fish, nicknamed "carrion" by schoolgirls, a small lean pie. It was possible to expand the diet with the help of pocket money.If you pay the servants, she will bring food in secret.

After hanging up in the dormitory should be quiet

At bedtime, stories about white ladies, black knights and severed hands were popular in the bedrooms. The walls had this: a legend about a walled-up nun was connected with Smolny. The storytellers staged a real theater of horror, moving from a terrible whisper to a formidable bass and occasionally grabbing hands at the listeners in the dark.It was very important not to scream from fear.

Life after graduation is a holiday. Is it so?

When confronted with the real world, this confidence created, as they say, cognitive dissonance. In everyday life, schoolgirls were completely helpless. “Immediately after leaving the institute,” a graduate Elizaveta Vodovozova recalled, “I had no idea that first of all I had to agree on a driver about the price, I didn’t know that he needed to pay for the fare, and I didn’t have a purse.” .It remained only to make infantilism its highlight- Innocently clap eyes and speak a touching childish voice, lovers to save the "innocent child" were.

P.S. Many graduates of Smolny went down in history. Among them is the first Russian aeronaut Princess Praskovia Gagarin, one of the leaders of the White Guard Union (ROVS), Maria Zakharchenko-Schultz, a terrorist and scout, Baroness Sophia de Bode, who commanded a squad of cadets in 1917 and remembered to contemporaries with incredible courage and rigors. Zakrevskaya-Benkendorf-Budberg, a double agent of the OGPU and British intelligence and the beloved of Maxim Gorky, the famous harpist Xenia Erdelyi, and also one of the first futurists, the poet Nina Habias.

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