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"Among the more intellectual it was the admirable custom that the gentlemen should read aloud while the ladies worked at embroidery. The standard English authors were their textbooks on these occasions; they had but few, but these were the works of the ablest historians and the most distinguished poets."
(From a description of life in Halifax around the turn of the 19th century by G. W. Hill in his Memoir of Sir Brenton Halliburton--excerpted in Elliott's "Domestic Life in Early Halifax," 1976, p. 2.)