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FEMININE FANCIES., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889, Supplement
St. Swithin’s day having been a fine one, we should, according to the established belief of one’s childhood, have another six weeks of the splendid weather we have enjoyed for as many months, or more, I don’t fancy, though, that St. Swithin has so much faith placed in his prophecies here as in tho Old Country. I can remember in my young days how anxiously we scanned the skies the moment we were out of bed on the 15th of July, and if no rain fell during the day we firmly believed that none would fall for the forty days following. Our faith was not shaken even when a wet day would occur, apparently without authority, for we at once decided it must have rained on the day of our revered saint before we were awake to the fact. Children nowadays are far too knowing and incredulous, and there is no such thing as taking them in with Santa Claus, Father Christmas, etc. I think they lose a good deal of pleasure through it. Last Sunday was as perfect a day as St. Swithin ever heralded, and the Ocean Beach was thickly sprinkled with people. Amongst others I met the tiniest little man I have seen out of a show, and suppose he must be the Australian Tom Thumb belonging to the Buffalo Minstrels. Ho is active enough, for he jumped about the rocks at St. Clair, and trotted along the sands at a great pace, of course followed by an admiring crowd—at a respectful distance at first, hut they soon gained courage and gathered closely round him.
In my last letter 1 was speaking of the sale of work which the ladies belonging to the guilds of the three English churches in the town propose holding next December or January. I hear a rumor that it may take the form of an old English fair, an Eastern dream, or something of the kind, which will, I hope, turn out to be a true one. Possibly some of the performers in the late kinderspiel given at the St. Paul’s Schoolroom may help in it, and so utilise further the pretty costumes and admirable drilling which was such a treat to their audiences the week before last. The whole thing was very well organised, and it was surprising to see such a number of little mites moving with so much precision, and speaking their parts so clearly and well. The dresses, banners, in fact the whole raise en scene, made a pretty sight. How steadily moire silk and ribbons keep the ascendency in the world of fashion ; seeming to be introduced into all kinds of costumes and with all kinds of material. The very broad moire sashes are particularly effective, setting off well a simple gown, I have seen three dresses lately with which they gave a happy result. One was fresh from the Old Country, and was of a rich peacock blue color, worn with cashmere of the same tint, and hanging in front. Another, worn at a recent wedding by a bride of a fortnight, was of creamy white, and was knotted on one side of a green gown, narrower ribbons to match forming “ bretelles ” on the bodice. The third was also on a bride, and was of black with fringed ends, arranged at the back of a skirt of a deep rich crimson, and reaching tothefootof it, havingalsolongloops. The number of yards of ribbon the necessary width would be pretty costly, but a sash in cither black, white, or cream color would harmonise or contrast well with different gowns, and would, I should think, be a fairly safe investment. A little bird tells me that grey and black is to be a favorite combination this season, and I see that silver grey is the fashion for notepaper ; leather of this hue being used also for the writing table equipments. One could make an exquisite set of the latter in mirroir satin, embroidered with silver and gold, in accordance with my suggestions In last letter, A well-found and dainty-looking writing table is to me a sine qua non in a drawing room, and I don’t think women would be such bad correspondents if they always had a tempting-looking escritoire or davenport inviting them to the light labor of a chat with distant friends.
As we have only one skating rink this winter, I suppose the craze for roller skating has somewhat abated, though at the meeting of tho club which has engaged it twice a week for' an hour the members attend well, and seem to enjoy the amusement as much as ever. From live to six is a very good time for it, as it is too dark for shopping and calling, and too early to go home for dinner, while even for the nonskaters it makes a pleasant rendezvous for a chat.
What a fine meeting place the Exhibition will bo in this respect! I hear in Melbourne people gave up calling upon each other almost while the Exhibition was open, but visited there instead, and I daresay we shall fall into the same habit here. What pleasant little afternoon tea-parties, too, we shall be able to have. We women folk groan at the necessity for making calls, but I begin to think the trouble is not so great us we make out, or wo should surely have taken some measures before now to reform society in this respect. Icandidlyconfessllikepayingcalls, provided I haven’t many to pay, and can remain for a comfortable chat at each house. Of course, this is where the difficulty lies ; the quality of the occupation is spoilt by its quantity. With a little method one can overcome it to a certain extent. It’s a good plan to make a regular campaign when the weather is settled, in the spring or autumn, and when, like the church of Laodicea, it is neither hot nor cold, giving up each afternoon for a week to go the rounds, then you have months left free for just dropping in at a house when, like Mrs Gamp’s Mrs ’Arris, you feel “so dispojed,” Method is everything, and that is why you will find, as a rule, it is the busy people who have most time—the fact being that they know how to dovetail one occupation in with another, and to use up their odd half-hours profitably, as a good housewife does her caudle ends and scraps of soap. How small it makes one feel to read of Romo keeping her 2,4C2nd birthday while we are going to celebrate our 60th ! New Zealand is but a baby yet in its long-clothes, but possibly has an equally glorious future before it, without (let us trust) such a swift decay in its old age. Another fact to make us feel our insignificance is that of there having been as many visitors—soo,ooo —in one day to the Paris Exhibition as nearly the whole of the white population of this colony can produce, for I believe we don’t as yet much exceed the half-million.
Many of my readers being interested in the Y.VV.C.A. will be glad to hear of its growth during the past year, owing probably a good deal to the more central position of its rooms. An increase of 5,000 in those attending the luncheon room is indeed surprising, and shows that it js becoming much piqre generally known. There being now a debt of not much over LSOO, we can hope that with the help of the sale of work to be held next December
this incubus may soon be removed entirely. Apropos of sales of this kind, the work done by the children at Leavitt House astonished me, both in quality and quantity, and does great credit to their instructors. It appeared to be well appreciated, for the rooms in which the sale was held were crowded, and by very ready buyers—indeed the sellers scarcely had breathing time, trade was so brisk, We must after all be a philanthropic people, judging by the hearty support all these admirable institutions meet with.
The concert given in aid of the St. Peter's Ladies’ Guild in the Choral Hall on Wednesday night was another proof of tho readiness of the public to help in such matters, though in this case, too, “good value ” was given for the money. Indeed, I think eighteonpence was too little for the feast provided, and heard others make the same remark. Of Mrs Rose’s songs I preferred the last one, ‘ I love thee, I love thee, tis all that I can say,’ tho simple setting and the feeling with which it was sung suiting so thoroughly Hood’s charming verses. She was dressed in a simple black evening gown, with front avd panel of white moir6 silk to relieve its sombre hue. Whilst on the subject of dress, I must mention that the stage, too, had been seen to, and had draperies of muslin, a palm and Japanese screen, and pots of ferns and flowers. The quartets sung by Messrs Umbers, Hunter, Densem, and Smith were a great treat, and made us wish for more of the Leidertafel concerts, that we used to enjoy, blr Densem’s pathetic singing of ‘The lifeboat,’ followed by his humorous rendering of ‘Tit Willow’ as an encore, showed hia histrionic versatility. The audience was certainly an appreciative one—not to say greedy—for encores were the order of the evening, and in most cases were readily responded to. In the second part the performers seemed to be having a game at “general post”; but, as all the promised selections were given, although in their wrong places, we had no reason for complaint, especially as Mr H. B. Smith gave us his fine song of ‘ The pilgrim ’ in addition. Many of us bad already heard it at the concert given by Miss Annette Wilson and Mr Towsey the Saturday before, and were only too glad to hear it again, This, too, was a pleasant entertainment, some of the instrumental music being exceptionally good, notably a duet between Mr Schacht and Mr Towsey. Probably had our weather not been so glorious, tempting people to outdoor amusement, these afternoon concerts would have been better attended; and as, in spite of St. Swithin, it cannot go on for ever, wo may yet see them attract the numbers they deserve. Martha.
FEMININE FANCIES., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889, Supplement
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