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[466]

January 8.—I passed—by appointment made according to the court ceremonies — an hour this afternoon with Prince John. Nothing could be more simple and unpretending than his manners. I wanted to see him on account of his knowledge of Dante, of whose ‘Inferno’ he has printed a translation with very good notes; and during the greater part of the time I was with him he was occupied in showing me the books and apparatus he had collected for the study of the great Italian master. Some of them were quite curious. . . . . In all respects I found him well-informed, in some learned, and he was truly agreeable, because it was plain he desired to be so.

His establishment is very elegant and luxurious, and his study, where he received me, looked truly scholar-like and comfortable. Among other things he showed me a beautiful collection of drawings in an album, relating to Dante, which had been from time to time given to him by his family, all original, of course, and two or three by Retzsch, of the greatest vigor and beauty, and executed in pencil with the most delicate finish.

January 10.—This evening happened the first grand court ball; for the season of Carnival, from Christmas to Lent, is the season into which all the amusements, both at the Court and in private houses, are crowded,1. . . . and we are to have a ball every fortnight until the period of gayety is over. Like everything else here, it began early. We were invited for six o'clock, and, arriving a few minutes afterwards, found ourselves among the last. Six fine large halls were open,. . . . all well lighted and most agreeably heated, the last but one being arranged for dancing; and the last, which was the presence-chamber, was prepared for cards. Round three sides of the dancinghall were barriers, covered with tapestry, behind which stood, I should think, five hundred of the common people, who seemed to enjoy the show very much, and were perfectly quiet the whole evening. In the centre were about four hundred invited guests, comprehending the nobility of Saxony and the principal foreigners now in Dresden, all in full dress. It was a fine show in a fine hall.

Soon after we arrived the King and Court entered, preceded by the


1 Frequent extracts are given from the journal describing these court receptions and fetes, because even then they had a flavor of bygone times about them, and because they were the only large and elegant entertainments given during the winter. Kindliness and intellectual refinement mingled so largely with the regal splendor of this Court, that it really formed the heart of society for the Saxon nobility, as well as for the very few foreigners who then visited Dresden. No other American family was there that year, and not many English.

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