All these exquisites wore white hats lined with crimson, in consequence of the head of the all-influential Emilius von Aslingen having, on the preceding day, been kept sacred from the profaning air by that most tasteful covering. The young lords were loud in their commendations of this latest evidence of von Aslingen’s happy genius, and rallied with unmerciful spirit the unfortunate von Bernstorff for not having yet mounted the all-perfect chapeau. Like all von Aslingen’s introductions, it was as remarkable for good taste as for striking singularity; they had no doubt it would have a great run, exactly the style of thing for a hot autumn, and it suited so admirably with the claret-coloured riding coat which Madame considered von Aslingen’s chef-d’oeuvre. Inimitable von Aslingen! As they were in these raptures, to Vivian’s delight and to their dismay, the object of their admiration appeared. Our hero was, of course, anxious to see so interesting a character; but he could scarcely believe that he, in fact, beheld the ingenious introducer of white and crimson hats, and the still happier inventor of those chef-d’oeuvres, claret-coloured riding coats, when his attention was directed to a horseman who wore a peculiarly high heavy black hat and a frogged and furred frock, buttoned up, although it was a most sultry day, to his very nose. How singular is the slavery of fashion! Notwithstanding their mortification, the unexpected costume of von Aslingen appeared only to increase the young lords’ admiration of his character and accomplishments; and instead of feeling that he was an insolent pretender, whose fame originated in his insulting their tastes, and existed only by their sufferance, all cantered away with the determination of wearing on the next day, even if it were to cost them each a calenture, furs enough to keep a man warm during a winter party at St. Petersburg, not that winter parties ever take place there; on the contrary, before the winter sets in, the Court moves on to Moscow, which, from its situation and its climate, will always, in fact, continue the real capital of Russia.
Emilius von Aslingen leant against a door in full uniform, with his vacant eyes fixed on no object. The others were only awkward copies of an easy original; and among these, stiff or stretching, lounging on a chaise-lounge, or posted against the wall, Vivian’s quick eye recognised more than one of the unhappy votaries of white hats lined with crimson.
Vivian met Emilius von Aslingen in his ride through the gardens. As that distinguished personage at present patronised the English nation, and astounded the Reisenburg natives by driving an English mail, riding English horses, and ruling English grooms, he deigned to be exceedingly courteous to our hero, whom he had publicly declared at the soirée of the preceding night to be “very good style.”