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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Schism, parts 3573 - 3577

 3573. The Tsar replied, “How well Napoleon must have understood that look, for I suppose it was what inspired him to give his troops the crossed white belts over the dark blue tunic.”

 3574. But we Russians will be content with the single diagonal belt, just like the English now use. A three-inch leather belt across the chest, meeting with a three-inch band across the waste is best. It inspires respect, established authority, without frightening the simple citizen.

3575. Such was an example of the dinner conversation in the Winter Palace, but the Tsar preferred to listen, and liked to speak only to answer a direct question. He felt that if he ventured his opinion everyone else would hasten to agree and to double over in an effort to please him. 

3576. For years he knew that if he spoke on any subject his voice would come back to him like a paraphrased echo, only varied by the accent of individual voices. What he longed for in his heart was the boisterous, even angry, contradictory tumultuousness of conversation in a democracy.

3577. The Tsar set up a miniature scene of democracy at his dinner parties, where everyone was equal and anybody could say anything on any topic without fear of punishment.  In this way he was like a little boy in the bathtub playing with his toy boats. He sloshes about to make a wave, overturns his boats, and imagines he is in the boundless stormy ocean.

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