For the Behaviour of All Those Entering These Doors


I found a delightful postcard at the museum of fine arts containing the following text. I’m actually sending this card to someone very close to me, but couldn’t help sharing it here with you all. Might ruin the surprise for the recipient of the card, but I’m sure said recipient won’t mind too much. I’m thinking of coming up with my own list of “Rules for Smiler’s home as determined by Smiler” but that might be a tad… obnoxious maybe?

Rules for the Hermitage as determined by
Catherine the Great

For the Behaviour of All Those Entering These Doors
1. All ranks shall be left behind at the doors,
as well as swords and hats.
2. Parochialism and ambitions shall also be left behind
at the doors.
3. Be merry, but neither spoil nor break anything,
nor indeed gnaw at anything.
4. Be seated, stand or walk as it best pleases you,
regardless of others.
5. Speak with moderation and not too loudly,
so that others present do not get an earache or headache.
6. One shall not argue angrily or passionately.
7. Do not sigh or yawn, neither bore nor fatigue others.
8. Agree to partake of any innocent entertainment
suggested by others.
9. Eat well of good things, but drink with moderation
so that each should be able always to find his legs
on leaving these doors.
10. All disputes must stay behind closed doors;
and what goes in one ear should go out the other
before departing through the doors.

If any infringe the above, on the evidence of two witnesses,
for any crime each guilty party shall drink a glass of cold water, ladies not excepted, and read a page from the Telemachida* out loud.

Who infringes three points on one evening, shall be sentenced
to learn three lines from the Telemachida* by heart.

If any shall infringe the tenth point, he shall no longer be permitted entry.

[*The Telemachida was a contemporary Russian poem
about the adventures of Telemachus, son of Odysseus, which most contemporaries found tedious and long-winded.]

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