Section 9: September-October 1889
Sept 11th [Wednesday]. Two months since my last entry. I hardly know why I have not written anything, partly I suppose because I have been very unwell partly because we have been so busy and mostly because I did not feel inclined. The Tableaux kept us fully engaged for about five weeks, we had ladies working every afternoon & evening & messages & notes going all day long. The trouble & delay in getting things we wanted was quite beyond explaining, a very great deal of time was wasted in looking over piles of books & papers before we could make our selection of pictures that would do in every way. I think we went in for more elaborate things than last year & so gave ourselves more trouble. Ellen counted up eighty four changes of dresses we had to make & arrange. The greatest bother however was to get wigs. I think we should [have] very much enjoyed the whole thing only we all got feverish colds, first Frances was ill for a week, in bed several days, then Ellen ditto, & then I took it. With every care & precaution we could not prevent ourselves from being obliged to stay in bed for several days. & then most provoking when we had got rid of one cold, we each got another cold one after another. Mine came last & worst, running in & out to our Schoolroom and working all day at the theatre for the dress rehearsal on Saturday had the answer for that.
The dress rehearsal went off very well considering, if we could have had two it would have been perfect. All Sunday & Monday I was obliged to stay in bed in a fearful state of mind because I wanted to do so much on Monday.
However on Tuesday morning I was well enough to drive down to the theatre, where there was a lot to do and arrange, plenty of others working besides ourselves. Many hands make light work is an old saying, at the same time many hands do not make one head. Fortunately for us we found at the last one gentleman who was able to suggest many things of great use.
By half past five we had everything ready for the first scene, we then drove home to have tea & dress which refreshed us very much. We all drove down again in good time. The night was not very fine, it looked like rain. Soon the theatre began to fill fast. I sat down feeling very much excited & quite well. Everything was ready but the band came late & made a delay. So provoking because all those who took part in the first scene were tired of waiting, but when the curtain did go up I think the audience were very much enchanted & round after round of applause burst forth. All sorts of things seemed to go wrong that first evening, yet still the Tableaux were put on and still the audience seemed delighted. I peeped through the curtain & saw the Bishop & Mrs Suter looking as much pleased as anyone.
I will copy out the programme.
- No. 1. Overture (Orchestra)
- Gregory and the Angles (Reading)
- Scene from the Norman Conquest (Reading)
- Queen Margaret and the Robber (Reading)
- Shakespeare at the Court of Queen Elizabeth (Recitation)
- Song — The Gallants of England
- Unveiling the Bride at a Russian Wedding (Reading)
| Interval |
- Overture (Orchestra)
- Bassanio Choosing the Casket (Reading)
- Desdemona in the presence of her Father and the Senate (Reading)
- Chorus from The Ancient Mariner — ‘It is an Ancient Mariner’
- Scene Ditto
- Chorus — ‘The Bride hath paced into the Hall’
- Scene Ditto
- Chorus — ‘But in the Garden Bower the Bride’
- Scene Ditto
- God Save the Queen
In every case the reading came before the Tableau, people were then prepared for what was to come. We got through to the end without a single failure.
A gentleman asked the Bishop what he thought of it, and he replied that he thought it was ‘most interesting and instructive.’
I was not able to go to the Theatre the next day, my head & eyes were so bad. Mr G. Patterson came in in the afternoon to talk over the performance & help me make notes for various improvements.
In the afternoon the weather became very cloudy & after tea it began to rain steadily much to our disgust. I dressed to go yet feeling that I was running a very great risk. We drove down, it rained so heavily that we had but a very small audience compared with the night before. We had to set to work to get the first scene ready, they all wanted me to sit still & give my orders but I could not. Indeed the flying about to get things in place did me good, I had scarcely any voice so could not have talked much.
We improved all the Tableaux. I made several alterations. It was such a pity that we had not a crowded house. When the entertainment was over and the audience gone, I had all the scenes put back so that the greenroom and stage were thrown into one. I then collapsed into a chair in a corner of the greenroom. I had done my part & now I was myself done. But a very pleasant part was to come. Colonel Farrington although an invalid and unable to witness the performance took such interest in it all that he thought we deserved a supper to finish up with. So Mrs Farrington had had a most tempting repast laid out in the greenroom. The company sat about in groups wherever they liked & all seemed inclined to enjoy themselves. I had a cup of delicious soup & felt all the better for it. During supper Dr Cressey made a speech in which he begged to propose the health of three ladies. We were listening very much amused & wondering who he meant when to our amazement he said, ‘I beg to propose the health of the three Misses Harris.’ The health of the hostess was also proposed. The next day I was very ill & for some days after. It must have been quite three weeks before I felt quite myself again.
Sept 11th. Yesterday I sent a note to Miss Harrison to ask her to come & see me for a few minutes. She came this morning & I asked her if she would like to show Lady Onslow some specimens of the drawings for my book. So she will take the drawings, & also ask her if she would like to see my collection of paintings of New Zealand Flowers etc. And now having fired my little train I impatiently await what may happen.
12th [Thursday]. This morning Mrs Farrington sent us some new laid eggs & this afternoon Mrs Kempthorne sent us some also.
While I was sitting at work in my room this afternoon I noticed an express stop near our gate & a man took out of it a small case which I thought he carried in to the next house. However about a quarter of an hour afterwards Frances called upstairs to know what I had been ordering from Wilkins & Field. ‘Nothing,’ I answered, it was not likely. Then, she replied, I had better come down and look at a case left at our back door. So down I went & found both my sisters examining a case with ‘Miss Harris, Nile Street,’ written on it.
‘It is some mistake,’ I said. Still we thought we had better look inside to try & find out what it was, so we partly undid the cover and saw that it was a sewing machine. Ellen had just come in from a walk so I said, ‘You had better go at once to Field’s & ask if it is not sent to the wrong house.’
Ellen soon returned. She said the clerk looked rather amused, he said we should find it all right. Mrs Kempthorne has ordered it to be sent to us. We at once unpacked it & found that it was a very handsome hand sewing machine. There was also a note which ran as follows:
Nelson, Sept 12th / 89
Dear Miss Harris,
I have been requested by the Ladies & Gentlemen who took part in the recent Tableaux Vivants to convey to your sisters and yourself their appreciation of the great trouble and artistic skill bestowed upon the making up of the Tableaux whereby they were brought to so successful an issue.
We beg your acceptance of a sewing machine which we trust that you will be long spared to make use of.
We were very much astonished. If something had been given us some few days after the Tableaux we would not have been so much surprised. We hoped they would not do so & were a little vexed. But after a bit when we thought how very useful this nice machine will be & how quiet they kept it & how they must have consulted about what they could give us, I am so thankful that it was not an epergne or an album. We know now that Mrs Kempthorne took the trouble to find out that we wished we had a good sewing machine.
13th. I had to send a note of thanks to Dr Cressey. We heard from Totsy that it was Dr C. who suggested to Mrs Richmond that a presentation should be made & when it was at last decided that it should be a sewing machine (for many other things had been thought of) Mrs R. said, ‘Well it must be the handsomest that can be got,’ but Mrs Kempthorne got Frances to say what machine she liked the best. And now having such a lovely machine the next thing will be to get some money to buy some material to use it on. Frances had been wanting to make herself a little opera mantle to wear this evening so she set to work on it this morning but the first thing made was a collar for Lindo to wear as a Lady Abbess in the Theatricals to come off next week at the Bishop’s School.
In the afternoon Mrs Boor came to say they were going to drive out to call upon Mrs J. Oldham & others & would one of us like to drive with them. Neither F. nor E. could go so I went & enjoyed it very much. On the way I told Mrs K. about the machine & how we knew how she got Frances to say what machine we would like & so on and how we were a little bit vexed that they should have given us anything. Mrs Boor said, ‘Why! I am sure I do not know of anything that has given us more pleasure.’
In the evening we all went to the Opera to hear Maritana. Mr F. Smith had sent us three tickets for reserved seats. We had been waiting all the week to go but we thought we should like Maritana the best besides if we had gone to one of the first we should have been longing all the rest of the week to go again whereas now we cannot. We did enjoy it so much, far more than we expected, as the singers were far better than we were led to suppose. It seemed so odd to be sitting there quietly one of the audience, I think we all felt that we ought to be behind the scenes doing something or other.
15th [Sunday]. I cannot get the opera out of my head. I want to hear it again. I think of it by day & dream of it at night. However it was a great treat, how fortunate we are although we are so poor.
Sept 25th [Wednesday]. The Earl & Countess of Onslow with their children & suite are now staying at the Cliffs. They have taken Mrs Richmond’s residence for six weeks. (Mrs Richmond has gone to Napier on a visit.) Last week a notice appeared in the Evening Mail that Lady Onslow would be ‘At Home’ on Wednesday afternoon at four o’clock.
Of course there has been an immense discussion as to who should go & who ought not to go. Some said that a great crowd of people would go & that very few would go or had any right to go & so on. I settled the matter to our own satisfaction in this way. If Lady Onslow only wished a select few of the Nelson upper ten to call upon her she [would] not have had the notice put in the paper as those people would be sure to call. But as the Governor’s wife she wished to extend her invitation to a much larger number of persons and so I considered that our being so poor was no reason why we should not go, as those who would go were many of them our friends, it was not as if we tried to push our way among people we did not know, it was a sort of duty we owed to ourselves. And so we decided that I should go to represent the family as I had the most decent looking dress & bonnet. I had to give 5/6 for pair of kid gloves to match my dress (much against my will), with that one extravagance I felt quite at ease about my costume.
It was a lovely day. I went with Mr & Mrs & Miss Kempthorne, on the way met lots of our friends bound for the same place. People had all to get out of their carriages at the foot of the hill at the Rocks, as the Governor was afraid some accident might occur if carriages met on that narrow drive at the gate. A little way inside a table was placed on which were two large books for people to write their names & addresses. There was a small tent a little way back and an orderly walking up & down. It took a long time for each lady & gentleman to write their names so people went on in little groups, it being some distance from the gate to the house. A lovely walk. The trees & shrubs & flowers looking so fresh, while here & there between the trees were views of blue sea & snowy mountains so beautiful one wanted to begin painting them at once.
As we came in sight of the house we saw that Lady Onslow was receiving her guests outside on the lawn. A good many had arrived before us. As we came up two footmen advanced & showed us where to go, a footman announcing our names one after the other as Lady Onslow shook hands with each of her guests in a very pleasant & cordial manner. We then passed on to make room for others.
Chairs were placed on the lawn & several small tents in various parts of the grounds. In a large marquee afternoon tea was being served. There were a great many people there, just those I expected would go, it was more like a garden party than a formal call. Most of my friends were there & I enjoyed it very much. It appears that those who arrived first were received in the drawing room but as the room filled the Countess came out on the lawn. The house is not very large & was not built for grand receptions.
27th. Made out the school accounts & gave the children a week’s holiday. In the afternoon went to Mrs Gully’s sewing party for Dr Barnardo.
28th. Walked down to the Rocks with Frances, we both did some [sketching]. When we were coming home Mrs Pitt overtook us, she was driving. She stopped & asked if she should drive us the rest of the way home, an offer we were most thankful to accept.
Oct 16th [Wednesday]. It is now more than five weeks since I gave Miss Harrison [my drawings]. A few days after she told me that she had not found an opportunity of showing them. I said, ‘Perhaps you will later on.’ When three weeks had elapsed I wrote to her asking her to return the drawings if she thought that she was not likely to have an opportunity of showing them. No notice was taken of that note, & Miss Harrison went in the Country to stay. So a week after I wrote to her again, asking her to return them at once. Some days elapsed & no answer. I then went to call at Bishopdale and asked Mrs Suter about them. She had got them there so I brought them away with me.
Thursday evening I posted a letter to Captain Savile, requesting the honour of showing my drawings to Lady Onslow.
Friday. Mr Lucas came to ask Frances if she could put them in the way to get up the May Pole dance for the Garden Party on the 9th of November. It is a Wesleyan affair to raise money for their new Church. Frances said she would teach the children at 10/ each but would not direct them at the party. Their Committee will have to decide, if they accept her it will be hard work every day to get it up. At the same time we do not think the Committee will accept her terms.
Saturday 19th. The Postman brought [two letters].
The one with the Royal crest, no stamp & ‘R. Stuart Savile’ on the outside, of course I opened first. It ran as follows.
Capt. Savile is desired to say that the Countess of Onslow will be very pleased to see Miss Harris’ collection of drawings & paintings of New Zealand flowers etc., on Wednesday next Oct 23rd at 11 a.m.
I wish it had been tomorrow that it could have been got over sooner. I then read the other note, it was from Miss Harrison.
My dear Miss Harris,
I was so sorry to find from your note that you had not received the book yet. I left it ten days ago at the Cottage with instructions to be sent to you at once, but I suppose they have forgotten. I was unable to go to the Cliffs just before I left or I would have taken your book up with me. Please forgive me for the delay – I shall be in on Saturday & will see that it is sent to you then, unless you like to call for it.
Margaret A. Harrison
Before the Postman came Miss C. Gascoigne had called to say that Mr Moir from Dunedin, a gentleman staying with them, had been collecting ferns and had found a pretty little green orchid in flower. It was one that they used to see in the bush often & they hoped that I would come & sketch it. I went, found I had it but sketched that one as well.
I was introduced to Mr Moir, I invited him to come & see my paintings. He came on Sunday & was evidently very much pleased with them. He also came on Monday & bought some small drawings & a copy of Silver-eye & Nest & another drawing which I have to copy & send to him. He also took a copy of my book, paying for all in advance, two pound four, the first money I have received for drawings for a very long time & most thankful I am to have it.
Tuesday evening I went to Sutton’s to order a cab for Wednesday, an open carriage with two horses. I took it for an hour and five minutes. I thought by ordering it beforehand that the man might give the horses an extra grooming, which I am sure he did.
I took my best pictures out of their frames & packed them up, eight of my panels I tied up, put some smaller drawings in a portfolio. F. & E. were very much troubled at my taking so much. However I said I did not mean to produce them unless they were wanted.
Wednesday was fine but windy. I arrived at the Cliffs in good time, was shown into the drawing room. There was no one in the room, but the Countess came in at once, shook hands, looking very smiling & pleasant. She placed a stool for me to rest the Portfolio on. Then we both sat down & I began to show & explain the drawings for the book. Her Ladyship appeared to be very much interested, said she would like a copy, asked the price & said it should have a rapid sale.
I then showed some of the paintings & finding she admired them, I requested to have the others brought in, on which Lady Onslow rang the bell, the footman was told to bring in the parcels, which he did, untied them, & then retired.
I showed the pictures first, some of them she admired very much, particularly the Bell-bird & Clematis, the panels also she liked very much, some more than others. Lady Onslow had plenty to say & I explained everything so the time passed quickly. She asked if I intended to exhibit in Dunedin. When I said no she said she was very sorry indeed as she would like to have seen some of the pictures there. I replied, ‘I think some day I shall have a little exhibition of my own.’
‘Oh! do,’ she said, ‘come to Wellington. I would like to do what I could for you.’
After I had tied up the pictures & panels, her Ladyship showed me a little drawing done by Lady Gwendoline at seven years of age. It showed decided talent, then after showing me some lovely photographs she pointed out the magnificent view from the window. After a few remarks, I said only Mr Gully could do justice to it, then I asked if she had seen any of Mr Gully’s pictures. She said, ‘Yes, at a ball, but you know pictures never look so well at night. I should very much like to see Mr Gully’s sketches but I have been told that Mrs Gully is very fond of them & does not care to show them.’
‘Oh,’ I exclaimed, ‘I feel sure that must be a mistake because I know people who have seen them and she is always most kind in showing them to strangers.’
‘Do you know Mrs Gully?’
‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘she is a great friend of mine.’
‘Then I have spoken to the right person,’ said her Ladyship.
‘I will ask Mrs Gully to show you the pictures,’ I ventured to say.
‘Oh, that would be so kind, and will you write me a little note?’
‘And what day & what time would suit you best?’ I asked. ‘From two to four would be a good time for the light to see them.’
‘That must depend on Mrs Gully. I will suit my time to hers,’ replied her Ladyship.
Soon after I took my leave feeling that my visit had been most pleasant & very satisfactory.
On reaching home I found I had been an hour & a half. I asked Sutton what I had to pay him. ‘Five shillings,’ he said, ‘we don’t count a few minutes over the time.’ However I gave him six shillings as he had been half an hour over the time.
After relating all the incidents of the interview to my father & sisters I had to go and arrange with Mrs Gully, she was exceedingly pleased and Friday morning was the time decided upon. In the afternoon I had to write what to me seemed a difficult note. It could not be formal or to the Aide de Camp Capt. Savile as the Countess had said ‘write me a little note.’ So at last I decided to write as one lady would to another, and began, ‘My dear Lady Onslow.’
Thursday afternoon I went over to see Mrs Kempthorne. I stayed there some time talking, we noticed the Governor’s carriage dash by looking so grand with the tall coachman & footman in livery. Such a new thing for Nelson.
When I passed Mrs Levien’s on my way back Mrs Levien & Totsy were just going out. Totsy laughed & said, ‘You had better make haste home, there has been such a commotion in this street, Governor’s carriage standing at your door, footman running in & out & no Miss Harris to be found. But there’s a note, I know.’
There was a note left which ran as follows.
Dear Miss Harris,
Many thanks for your kindness in asking Mrs Gully to show me the pictures & sketches. Would Mrs Gully entrust the Portfolio to a messenger if I sent for it tomorrow morning? If so I will ask Mr Garland to call for it and he will take every care to bring it here safely & himself return it to her without any delay in an hour’s time – that is of course if she will permit the Portfolio to leave her house, if not I fear it will be impossible for me to see them before I leave here on Monday – thanking you very much for the trouble you have taken –
I was vexed to think that after all she could not go, and very vexed with myself for letting Mrs Gully say Friday morning instead of Thursday afternoon, and yet perhaps it might have been the same as we found afterwards that Lady Onslow had so many places to go crowded into the last few days of her stay that she could not have gone at any time.
The note was a very nice one & we were proud to have it, especially as it proved that mine was all right.
I had to go & tell Mrs Gully – she was very disappointed, but told me to say she was most welcome to have the Portfolio & that if any other time on Friday or Saturday afternoon would suit her Ladyship better she would be pleased to show her the finished pictures.
So I had another note to write & in due time came another note with a coronet on the outside.
Dear Miss Harris,
Many thanks for all the trouble you have taken. I am greatly obliged to Mrs Gully for sending [me] the sketches to see. I have already seen many of Mr Gully’s finished pictures & I shall be delighted to see the unfinished ones.
I am very truly yours
Mr Garland went for & returned the Portfolio to Mrs Gully, taking also a note from Lady Onslow thanking Mrs Gully for her kindness.
I will copy out the programme
The Grand Tableaux Vivants were performed at the Nelson Theatre Royal 13 and 14 August 1889. The programme indicates that Emily’s initial idea of having splendid historical scenes has been carried through: the tableaux rehearse episodes from English history and literature from the sixth to the eighteenth centuries, with a notable emphasis on weddings and families that reflects community values of the day. The tableaux vivants received close attention in local papers and the role of the Harris sisters was acknowledged:
Long before the hour announced for the doors of the Theatre to be opened last evening, a large crowd had assembled, and before the performance had commenced the sale of front seats had ceased, and the order, ‘Standing room only,’ was issued. The gallery was comfortably filled, and though some seats in the rear of the body of the building were unoccupied, the promoters of the entertainment had every reason to congratulate themselves on having achieved a financial success. At a few minutes past eight the orchestra commenced the overture, which comprised a number of selections from the ever welcome Maritana. Notwithstanding the fact that that opportunities for rehearsal have been few, the band acquitted themselves very creditably, and appropriate music accompanied each scene throughout the evening. Quaint airs softly played selected from the National melodies of England, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Turkey, added a charm to the tableaux. In the first Shakespearean scene the characteristic songs, ‘Hearts of Oak,’ ‘The roast beef of old England,’ &c., were given, and a Venetian dance was rendered with effect during the scene from Othello. In the tableaux from Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner,’ the three choruses taken from Barnett’s cantata, bearing the same title were excellently given, and the libretto was sufficiently descriptive of the scenes depicted. Between the various tableaux the orchestra played some of the new and most favored waltzes, including one from ‘The Mikado.’ Miss Pratt was very successful with her song, albeit her selection, Parker’s “Gwendoline,” is comparatively unknown. Mr Grace received an enthusiastic encore for his contribution, ‘The Gallants of England,’ and repeated the last verse. It must have been a severe trial to the vocalists to stand immediately over the footlights, and this defect will doubtless be avoided at this evening’s representation.
Coming to the tableaux themselves, it may be said that they were all good, and that the exponents of the various characters filled their roles with success. The grouping throughout was artistic and the general effect excellent. Perhaps the best of the series of pictures was that of ‘Gregory and the Angles.’ The group of pretty children and fair haired girls, with the cowled monk and Roman soldier in the foreground, was a charming picture, which well deserved the plaudits bestowed on it. ‘Queen Margaret and the Robber’ was also a fine scene, and the representation of a scene depicting the Bard of Avon reciting the dying speech of John of Gaunt, from Richard II, was really excellently given. Another Shakespearian tableau, showing ‘Desdemona in the presence of her Father and the Senate,’ was a decided success, the picture being one of the most realistic of the evening, the facial expression of the heroine being particularly good. The two later scenes from the Ancient Mariner were picturesque, and met with a hearty reception. The explanatory readings were clearly given, with one exception, and the Shakespearian recitation was delivered with due regard to the spirit of the lines. Altogether the evening’s entertainment was a decided success, and no doubt an equally large attendance will be present this evening, when the tableaux-will be repeated. (Colonist 14 Aug 1889: 3)
The tableaux vivants were repeated at the Theatre last night, when there was a fair audience, but not nearly as large as had been expected, owing to the heavy rain which was falling at intervals. The entertainment went off very satisfactorily, and at its close the whole company, including the members of the orchestra, were invited by one of the ladies who had taken a prominent part in getting up the tableaux to supper in the green room, where a substantial meal was provided, during which the health was proposed of the Misses Harris, to whose un-wearying exertions the success of the tableaux was mainly due, and also of the kind hostess. (Nelson Evening Mail 15 Aug 1889: 2)
Mr G. Patterson came in in the afternoon to talk over the performance
Mr Patterson has not been identified.
Sept 11th. Yesterday I sent a note to Miss Harrison
Niece of the bishop’s wife, Amelia Suter, and a mistress at the girls’ college. See section 7. Margaret Annie Harrison (1856-1947) appears to have a personal connection with the Governor’s wife, Lady Florence Onslow. She was the eldest child of Edward Francis Harrison and his wife Lilian Young Riley and was born in Calcutta, West Bengal. Her father’s sister was Amelia Damaris Harrison, who married Andrew Burn Suter and came to New Zealand with him when he was appointed Bishop of Nelson in 1866. Margaret Harrison joined the staff of Nelson Girls’ College soon after its inception in 1883 and was second mistress there until her appointment as headmistress of Whanganui Girls’ Collegiate in 1890. She died in England aged 90.
MISS HARRISON APPOINTED PRINCIPAL WANGANUI GIRL’S HIGH SCHOOL
Wanganui, October 29. Miss Harrison, second assistant mistress at the Nelson Girls’ College, has been appointed Lady Principal of the Wanganui Girls’ High School, Miss Burgoyne Hudson of Auckland, has been appointed assistant teacher. Miss Harrison has the M.A, degree with class honours and is classed A1. (Nelson Evening Mail 29 Oct 1890: 2)
Frances called upstairs to know what I had been ordering from Wilkins & Field
Local hardware merchants with premises in Nelson and Wellington:
This large business was established nearly thirty years ago in Westport by Mr. Thomas Field, but about the year 1880 Mr. Field entered into partnership with Mr. W. C. Wilkins, in Nelson, when the style of this old-established business was changed to Wilkins and Field, in which name it is still carried on, although Mr. W. C. Wilkins retired from the firm after a few years through ill health. The head office was established in Wellington in 1889. […] The firm are large manufacturers of spouting, ridging, wire mattresses, perambulators, and everything in their line that can be made in the Colony to compete with imported goods. (Cyclopedia of NZ)
We know now that Mrs Kempthorne took the trouble to find out
Mrs Annie Louisa Kempthorne (1859-1939) was the second daughter of Dr Leonard and Emily Boor. She was the wife of Archdeacon John Pratt Kempthorne, Vicar of Christ Church, Nelson.
but the first thing made was a collar for Lindo to wear as Lady Abbess in the Theatricals
Saul Lindo Levien (1876-1971), fifth son of Robert and Henrietta Levien, and a pupil at the Bishop’s School.
In the afternoon Mrs Boor came to say they were going to drive out to call upon Mrs J. Oldham
Emily Boor and her daughter Annie Kempthorne visit Mrs Oldham at Wakapuaka, taking Emily with them. Adelaide Georgina (Addy) Oldham (c.1832-1916) was a well-known Nelson figure:
In the person of Mrs John Oldham, death last week removed from our midst a very old resident and a lady held in the highest esteem by all with whom she came in contact. Mr. Oldham, who survives his wife, came to New Zealand in 1857, and three years, later returned to England to be married, bringing his wife to Nelson in 1860. After a short residence in Nelson Mr and Mrs Oldham returned to England, but four years later they came back to Nelson and lived at “Brookside.” Then, another trip to the Old Country was undertaken, and in 1871 they returned to take up residence at ‘Werneth,’ Wakapuaka, where they lived continuously up till two years ago, when they removed to town. (Colonist 7 June 1916: 4)
In the evening we all went to the Opera to hear Maritana
Maritana is a three act opera including both spoken dialogue and some recitatives, composed by William Vincent Wallace, with a libretto by Edward Fitzball. The opera premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 15 November 1845 and remained popular with audiences into the twentieth century. In 1889 it was part of a repertoire toured by Simonsen’s English and Comic Opera Company that played at the Theatre Royal in Nelson 9-13 September. The Harris sisters had good seats for the performance:
SIMONSEN’S ENGLISH AND COMIC OPERA COMPANY,
Commencing MONDAY, 9th Sept., with Verdi’s Grand Opera “Il Trovatore,”
To be followed by ‘Martha,’ ‘The Bohemian Girl,’ ‘Carmen,’ ‘Maritana,’ and ‘La Perichole.’
Prices of Admission – Reserved Seats, Five Shillings, or packet of 6 tickets available for any night, £1 5s; Second Seats, Three Shillings; Gallery, Two Shillings. (Nelson Evening Mail 5 Sept 1889: 2)
Local reviews of Maritana were detailed and enthusiastic. One of them begins:
There was a large audience last evening at the Theatre, when Wallace’s charming opera Maritana was presented. Without doubt, the representation was an unqualified success, the audience demonstrating their thorough appreciation by their hearty applause and frequent encores. The opera may be said to be completely one of ballads, and the principal numbers are as familiar as household words, so that it was only to be expected that the audience would be thoroughly in sympathy with the vocalists from the overture to the finale. The cast was as follows: — Maritana, Miss Elsa May; Lazarillo, Miss Florence Seymour; Marchioness, Miss Julia Beaumont; Don Caesar de Bazan, Mr Walshe; Don Jose, Mr Gainor; King of Spain, Mr England; Marquis, Mr Dean. (Colonist 14 Sept 1889: 3)
Sept. 25th. The Earl & Countess of Onslow with their children & suite are now staying at the Cliffs
The Cliffs was the residence of widow Mrs Anna Selina Richmond (see section 4), who was part of the committee that produced the tableaux vivants in August and then organised the gift of a sewing machine for the Harris sisters.
Florence Coulstoun Gardner (1853-1934), elder daughter of Lord Gardner, married William Hillier, Onslow (1853-1911), fourth earl of Onslow, in London in 1875. Onslow was governor of New Zealand 1889-92. The Onslows’ young son caught typhoid in Wellington not long after the family’s arrival and they removed to Nelson for his recuperation (DNZB).
Last week a notice appeared in the Evening Mail that Lady Onslow would be ‘At Home’
Details of the Vice-Regal visit were extensively reported in Nelson papers
We have been requested to state that His Excellency the Governor will lay the foundation stone of the Wesleyan Church on Tuesday next, the 24th inst., and that the Countess of Onslow will be “at home” on Wednesday, the 25th inst., at 4 p.m. (Nelson Evening Mail 18 Sept 1889: 2)
LADY ONSLOW having announced that she would be “at home” yesterday afternoon, a large number of residents in Nelson and the suburbs availed themselves of the opportunity of calling upon her at the Cliffs. (Nelson Evening Mail 26 Sept 1889: 2)
If Lady Onslow only wished a select few of the Nelson upper ten to call upon her
Upper Ten Thousand, or simply, The Upper Ten, is a 19th-century phrase referring to the wealthiest 10,000 residents of New York City. The phrase was coined in 1844 by American poet and author Nathaniel Parker Willis. The term came to be used to describe the upper circles not only of New York, but also those of other major cities.
When we were coming home Mrs Pitt overtook us
Colonel Albert Pitt (1842-1906) commanded the Nelson Volunteer Artillery Corp and the Nelson militia and later became a successful politician. During his political career he served as Provincial Solicitor for the Nelson Provincial Council, the representative for the City of Nelson electorate, a member of the Legislative Council, a Minister, and Attorney-General in the Seddon Government.
Mrs Pitt is Emma Bartlett (1847-1899) who married Albert Pitt in Tasmania in 1866. Pitt returned to Hobart from Nelson where he was settled and working as a lawyer, and the couple came to New Zealand after their wedding. They had three daughters Minnie Constance Pitt (1867-1949), Charlotte Emma Georgina Pitt (1869-1934), Annie Ida Ruby Pitt (1871-1871) and one son Wilmot Bartlett (Jim) Pitt (1874-1954).
Thursday evening I posted a letter to Captain Savile
Captain R Stuart Savile, aide de camp of the Vice-Regal suite. At the time of Emily’s letter Captain Savile had rejoined the Onslow family after recovering from Typhoid fever, which he fell sick with at the same time as Earl and Lady Onslow’s son Lord Cranley. Captain Savile’s condition was continuously reported on in the papers from July to late September.
Mr Lucas came to ask Frances if she could put them in the way to get up the May Pole dance
Perhaps Mr Lucas, manager and proprietor of the Nelson Evening Mail (see section 10).
I was introduced to Mr Moir
Probably James Moir (1865-1944), Dunedin teacher and horticulturist. His obituary reads:
MR JAMES MOIR The death occurred in Dunedin on Tuesday of Mr James Moir, who had been seriously ill for some weeks. Mr Moir was born in Balclutha in 1865, and after attending the Tokomairiro High School he studied at the Dunedin Training College and the Otago University. For a period of 40 years he was in the service of the Otago Education Board, and was headmaster at the Circle Hill, Mount Cargill, Pukeuri, Wakari, and Moray Place Schools. Many of his pupils will recall with gratitude the inspiring effect of his influence upon them. Mr Moir’s enthusiasm for horticulture led him to encourage school gardens, and he also stimulated the holding of flower shows in the various districts in which he lived. His own garden received his constant attention, and even during the last few years when he was in failing health the garden at his residence in Littlebourne crescent was a delight at all seasons of the year. He was a keen sportsman, and played cricket in North Otago, and in Dunedin he was well known on the bowling green. He was an enthusiastic angler and enjoyed the distinction of having held a fishing licence every year for over 50 years. Throughout his life he was a loyal member of the Presbyterian Church, and was session clerk of the Kaikorai Presbyterian Church for several years. Following his retirement from the teaching profession in 1930, he took an active part in social welfare organisations, and during the depression he was a member of the Mayor’s Relief Committee. He also helped to found the Roslyn District Nursing Association, of which he had been chairman since its inception. These, and other activities, endeared him to a large circle of friends. Mrs Moir died in 1941, and he is survived by a son, Dr George M. Moir, of Upper Hutt, and a daughter, Mrs S. W. Young, of Christchurch. (Otago Daily Times 6 Jan 1944: 4)
Emily’s mention of Moir buying ‘a copy of Silver-eye & nest’ refers to her practice of making copies of paintings to order. The nesting silver-eye was a longstanding subject in her work. Field-Dodgson notes a painting entitled ‘Silver Eyes & Nest’ in the 1883 catalogue of the Fine Arts Association exhibition in Wellington, priced at £2 0s (Appendix 1). The Harris family exhibitions of November 1889 and August 1890 drew comment on the same or a similarly-themed painting:
The ‘Voice of the Morning,’ representing the pretty little bell bird feeding on a magnificent sprig of clematis, is a very attractive picture, as is also a ‘silver eye’ visiting its nest in a manuka bush. (Nelson Evening Mail 25 Nov 1889: 2)
‘Voice of the morning’ is the title of an exceedingly pretty picture, and the beautiful native clematis, no less than the bell bird, appear to be greeting the morn. Below it is a silver-eye’s nest in a manuka bush, a glimpse of the blue eggs being obtained between the sprays of blossom. (Colonist 24 Dec 1889: 5 [sup])
Two studies, the ‘Voice of Morning,’ and the ‘Silver Eye’s Nest’ have been shown before. (Colonist 15 Aug 1890: 3)
Tuesday evening I went to Sutton’s
William Sutton, cab proprietor, had a business in Selwyn Place, Nelson, about ten minutes’ walk from Nile St.
some of them she admired very much, particularly the Bell-Bird & Clematis,
Emily takes her ‘Voice of the Morning’ painting to The Cliffs. We can assume that its companion piece, the silver-eye’s nest was also shown to Lady Onslow.
She asked if I intended to exhibit in Dunedin
The New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition 1889-90, shortly to be opened in Dunedin by Lord Onslow. (Te Ara)
So I had another note to write & in due time came another note with a coronet on the outside
Florence Onslow’s note of 25 Oct 1889, on Government House notepaper, is preserved in the Cranstone Papers. Photocopy at ATL. MS-Papers-0489. Item 3.
Mr Garland went for & returned the Portfolio to Mrs Gully
Garland was part of the Vice-Regal suite: ‘Lord Onslow’s family arrived at Wellington on Monday morning by the Tekapo, from Sydney, accompanied by Mr Walrond, the Governor’s private secretary, and Mr A. S. Garland, tutor to Lord Onslow’s son. The family consists of Richard William Alan Viscount Cranley, aged 13; Lady Gwendoline Florence Mary (born 22nd July, 1881; Lady Dorothy Evelyn Augusta (born 7th February, 1885)’ (Taranaki Herald 24 Apr 1889: 2). There is confusion in newspaper reports mentioning Garland, some of which give his initials as A. S., others as N. H.
Section 1: August 1885
Section 2: September-November 1885
Section 3: January-March 1886
Section 4: March-July 1886
Section 5: August-November 1886
Section 6: August-December 1888
Section 7: January 1889
Section 8: February-August 1889
Section 9: September-October 1889: You Are Here
Section 10: November-December 1889
Section 11: January-February 1890
Section 12: August 1890-February 1891