Thursday, July 14, 2016

Etiquette for Court Presentation

John Randolph, (or as he was known "John Randolph of Roanoke") was a late 18th and early 19th centuries Congressman from Virginia, who not only served in the House of Representatives, and the Senate, but also as the Minister to Russia in 1830.

John Randolph's Court Presentation

John Randolph, of Roanoke, dressed very eccentrically while he was at home, and his dress during his mission to Russia was hardly more extravagant than what he wore at Roanoke. 

In writing of it he says: “My dress on presentation to their Imperial Majesties was a suit of the finest mack cloth that London could afford; and with the exception of a steel capped sword it was the dress of Mr. Madison during the late convention." It was ornamented with gold shoe and knee buckles, and Randolph says that he was as well dressed as Prince Talleyrand, who was presented at the same time. Josiah Quincy visited Russia some years after this, and in his life there is a story related concerning this presentation of John Randolph.

Says this authority: “When he was presented to the Empress she put out her hand and Randolph went down on his knees to take it. He wore, however, tight gauntlets and he did not attempt to get those off before he fell upon his knee. It was contrary to etiquette to touch the lady’s bare hand with a gloved hand, and it look him so long to get his tight glove off, that her Majesty smiled at his predicament and the courtiers laughed out aloud.” 

Randolph soon took his leave of Russia and returned to the United States. Before he did so, he had a pleasant interview with the Emperor, and he made a remark which it is said, made the Empress laugh most vociferously. He bowed himself out backward as he left, and “it was lucky" said he, “that I happened to be near the door.” —Frank O. Carpenter in American Magazine, 1887

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