Page 831. " enjoy eating the calf "
Tolstoy in his Study by Ilya Repin
Public DomainTolstoy in his Study by Ilya Repin
 Tolstoy became a vegetarian in 1885, although moments like this in his writing shows that the question of meat eating was on his mind long before then. He wrote: 

Not long ago I had a talk with a retired soldier, a butcher, and he was surprised at my assertion that it was a pity to kill, and said the usual things about it being ordained. But afterwards he agreed with me: `Especially when they are quiet, tame cattle. They come, poor things! trusting you. It is very pitiful.'

 See here for more on Tolstoy's vegetarianism.

Page 833. " gone to look for mushrooms "
Mushroom Picking by Franciszek Kostrzewski
Public DomainMushroom Picking by Franciszek Kostrzewski

 Mushroom picking is a form of extreme sport popular in several parts of the world, including Russia. The main danger involved is when poisonous mushrooms are misidentified and eaten. But there are other risks: in 2010 a number of Italian mushroom pickers died in falls as they tried to collect particularly sought-after specimens from inaccessible places. In Florida in 1976, two collectors of the hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms were shot dead by a policeman.

 However, as with many extreme sports, the dangers of mushroom picking can be mitigated. A number of common species can be correctly identified after a little instruction; others that bear close resemblance to poisonous mushrooms can simply be avoided by those who are not experienced mycologists.

Page 836. " It was a portrait, painted in bright colours by Gérard, of the son born to Napoleon by the daughter of the Emperor of Austria "

Napoleon II by François Gérard
Public DomainNapoleon II by François Gérard
 Here is the portrait to which Tolstoy refers. François Gérard (1770-1837) was a French painter who studied under Jacques-Louis David; he is now best remembered for his portraits. He painted Napoleon several times, as well as Empress Josephine, Joachim Murat, Michel Ney, and other famous people of his time.

Page 836. " with a look of the Christ in the Sistine Madonna "

 The Sistine Madonna is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It is perhaps now best known for the two putti who appear at the bottom, and whose images are often reproduced independently to the rest of the painting.

On a somewhat unrelated note, these putti are often mistakenly called cherubs. A cherub, in the original sense, is a terrifying form of angel originating from the Assyrian karabu, human-headed winged bulls who guarded the entrance to temples. The Bible retains these supernatural figures as guardians of Paradise. Over time, the word cherubim has slipped in meaning until it is equated with putti, the baby or toddler-aged angels who are far less terrifying to behold.

Page 841. " the Massacre of St Bartholomew "


 The St Bartholomew's Day Massacre took place in France in August-September 1572. Starting on St Bartholomew's Day, 23rd August, it was an act of aggression perpetrated by the French Catholics against the Huguenots as part of the French Wars of Religion. It is difficult to estimate how many French Protestants died in massacre; estimates range from 5000 to 30,000.