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the social song. In Belgium, female industry presents itself under aspects alike interesting to the painter, the poet, and the philanthropist. Here and there may be seen a happy-looking girl, seated at an open window, turning her spinning-wheel or working at her lace-pillow, whilst at intervals she indulges in the relaxation of a curious gaze at the passers-by in the street. Another young _Speldewerkster_, more sentimentally disposed, will retire into the garden, seating herself in an umbrageous arbor, or under a spreading tree, her eyes intent on her work, but her thoughts apparently divided between it and some object nearer to her heart. At a doorway sits a young mother, surrounded by two or three children playing round the little table or wooden settle on which her lace-pillow rests. Whilst the mother's busy fingers are thus profitably employed, her eyes keep watch over the movements of her little ones, and she can at the same time spare an attentive thought for some one of her humble household duties. Dressmakers, milliners, and other females employed in the various occupations which minister to the exigencies of fashion, are confined to close rooms, surrounded by masses of silk, muslin, &c. They are debarred the healthful practice of working in the open air, and can scarcely venture even to sit at an open window, because a drop of rain or a puff of wind may be fatal to their work and its materials. The lace-maker, on the contrary, whose work requires only her thread and her fingers, is not disturbed by a refreshing breeze or a light shower; and even when the weather is not particularly fine, she prefers sitting at her street-door or in her garden, where she enjoys a brighter light than within doors. In most of the principal towns of the Netherlands there is one particular locality which is the focus of lace-making industry; and there, in fine weather, the streets are animated by the presence of the busy work-women. In each of these districts there is usually one wide open street which the _Speldewerkers_ prefer to all others, and in which they assemble and form themselves into the most picturesque groups imaginable. It is curious to observe them, pouring out of narrow lanes and alleys, carrying with them their chairs and lace-pillows, to take their places in the wide open street, where they can enjoy more of bright light and fresh air than in their own places of abode. "I could not help contrasting," says
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