This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.
Little is known about the authorship of the 203 articles in the series of ‘Samuel’s Sentiments', and no editorial records have been found which would help in identifying who wrote what. There can be no doubt that more than one writer was involved. A few articles make references which imply a writer resident in Cardiff, while numerous other articles appear to originate in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in Leeds or in Bradford. The use of West Riding dialect and idioms is striking in some articles, and not present in others. I have not analysed the various 'Samuel' styles thoroughly enough to risk a statement as to how many 'Samuels' there were, or exactly which articles each wrote. The social and political views also vary significantly. Some are conservative; others are politically mildly radical. Corporal punishment is viewed with varying degrees of approval and disapproval. The degree of understanding of Welsh religious belief also varies.
Many accidents and misunderstandings and their attendant social embarrassments recur in ‘Samuel’s Sentiments’. For skating accidents, see no. 7 (22nd January 1887) ‘Samuel on Skating’; no. 33 (7th January 1888) ‘Samuel on Skating’, and no.114 ( 21st December 1889) ‘Samuel on the Advent of Winter’. For taking the wrong hat see no. 39 (25th February 1888) ‘Samuel on Birthday Presents’, no.31 (26th November 1887) ‘Samuel at a "Tea Fight"’, no. 65 (1st December 1888) ‘Samuel on Smoking Concerts, and one Concert in Particular’, no.85 (7th April 1889) ‘Samuel on some Little Secrets he keeps apart from Mrs Samuel’, and no. 125 (8th March 1890) ‘Samuel on Impulses -- Unaccountable and Otherwise’. —David Skilton
here are many awkward situations for a man to be in, sir; but, as the title of this article will import, those I wish chiefly to refer to in this article are the kind which pertain to our everyday life at home, and not those brought about by extraordinary circumstances, and which are subsequently related to persons incapable of making any contradiction thereof by sailors, soldiers, travellers of all sorts, and other hereditary descendants of Ananias. No, sir, I need not go far ahead to tell you of some awkward dilemmas and situations to be in. To open the ball at once, were you ever asked, sir, by an engaging young female person to hold a baby for a moment, only to find subsequently that the child was left upon your hands, either wilfully or through some terrible mistake ? Have you ever travelled in a railway carriage with a baby which took a fancy to you, and have you been virtually obliged to nurse that child because you did not wish to appear what the other people in the same compartment might call a ‘brute?’ Has an inebriated female ever claimed you for her husband whilst you were standing at a shop door in a principal street, waiting for the girl of your heart? Tell me, are not these awkward situations to be in, and do they not occur by no means seldom in our daily life? Have you ever, now, flirted with a pretty girl in an omnibus (I believe you do flirt occasionally; sly dog!), vowed all sorts of silly things to her, and then found -- oh, horror -- that she lived next door, and was on terms of friendship with your wife? You have never perhaps sent a note to your employer to the effect that you were "taken very bad," as the phrase goes, and subsequently met him on some race-course the same day? Is it not awkward, I would ask any of your readers, to demand a “beah”, and then to find you have only three-halfpence, the charge per glass being twopence? There is, in such circumstances, a cool, cynical look about the barmaid which makes you wish that an earthquake were about to swallow you up. It is bad enough to find that you have left your purse at home when you have to pay your ’bus fare, for you are regarded by your fellow passengers as something like a criminal, but not so bad as the beer incident (which naturally is simply unbeerable), for at bars are assembled ribald men who guffaw in concert as you make the most dignified exit you can of under such conditions.
A striking error.
There are but few men, sir, who have not slapped some being on the back, only to find that instead of a hearty, good natured [‘]pal,’ they have unwittingly thundered on the shoulder of an exceedingly truculent and irate individual who resolutely refuses to receive any apology, and talks about seeking redress before the bench. I call it an awkward situation, sir, when you are an active and agreeable member of a picnic party, and when, nine miles from anywhere, you[r] suspenders break utterly, and just us you are showing the ladies how to jump too. Even worse than this, though, for acute torture, and for prolonged misery, too, is it to find at a dinner party that you desire to sneeze as only a man who wants to sneeze can desire, but that, alas, you have left that fatal pocket-handkerchief at home. Tearing a lady's dress, or spilling the claret over her, is, I own it, bad, but it can never parallel the pocket-handkerchief dilemma. I would not again for worlds of spice and honey walk into a neighbour's parlour (and whilst they were at tea, too) instead of my own, only to unconsciously find myself in the domicile of a choleric man whose intrusive and marauding cat I had shot, and who was having legal correspondence with me on the subject even at that time.
‘Look on this picture – and on this.’ Somebody else’s hat – and your own! [Hamlet showing his mother pictures of his father and his uncle (Hamlet III.iv.53.)
Mistaking the waiter for your host, sir, however pardonable the error may sometimes be, calls into being a very awkward situation indeed, and so does being married to the wrong woman when you are being united in big batches at some fashionable church where business in the matrimonial line is good. But this error might have its counter-balancing advantage, were the wrong (I mean wrong so far as you are concerned) lady attractive in person and endowed with some means and were hot young man agreeable to the change. It is very awkward to go to a Mayor's banquet and take somebody's [sic] else's hat – by mistake of course – and then to be charged by the indignant owner with wilfully abstracting it. The fact that the hat you thus take is invariably very much better than your own always tells against you somehow in the minds of unduly suspicious and busily uncharitable persons. You have heard perhaps of the man, sir, who being shown into a drawing-room to a lady who had lost her husband and just cast her weeds, imagined that he was in the presence of her sister, whose husband was sojourning in India. Said the lady, ‘It is exceedingly hot to-day!’ ‘Yes,’ replied the gentleman, ‘but not so hot by far as where your husband is.’ Now, I call that, sir, a typical – or typically; which shall I say ? – awkward situation to be in –I didn't mean, of course, the situation of the widow’s late husband. But it is not worse, sir, than taking up a stranger's change by mistake. What gay young batchelor who has tarried by the salt sea waves and sighed his heart out to them (having sighed it out of course it would be outside, wouldn’t it?) has not become, on some stilly night, acquainted with the fairest creature he ever saw ? He doesn't exist, I should think. But how if, after he has allowed himself to become badly smitten, he is introduced by the lady to her husband?
Left: An ice affair. Right: [‘]Police! Murder! Ar, H, H, H.’
That is certainly not pleasant, but it can scarcely be worse than having to wait up a tree whilst an infuriated beast of a dog at the foot of the tree is anticipating your descent to the bottom thereof. It is an awkward situation enough to have your clothes stolen whilst you are bathing but it is even worse to wander into the wrong bed room [sic] at an hotel, and to find that a lady occupies it. In the realm of sport, sir, there are hundreds of awkward situations to be faced. How do you feel as a member of a shooting party, when you have landed half-a-dozen pellets in your host? And how does he feel, I wonder.
Look at skating! Did you ever endeavour on the ice to excite the admiration of the throng, and especially of one member thereof, and whilst you imagined you were doing so[,] cross — or rather, try to cross — the portion commonly marked ‘Dangerous,’ and then you have heard the ominous crack, and felt the icy cold of the water and the sharp points of the grappling irons? Oh, it is a sad situation. Life is, sir, positively full of such unpleasantness, and there are but few amongst us who do not shrink from even recalling some such incident or other in their careers.
Last modified 5 March 2022