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. The four images in the original are in such poor shape that they and their captions have been omitted.
‘When it Comes’ is traditionally appended to a New Year greeting in Scotland and some other parts of the United Kingdom at any time before midnight on 31st December. 'Not having an invitation from Victoria, by the Grace of God, on that day' means not being on the New Year’s Honours list. The amateur tenor in the third illustration perhaps imagines himself to be a second John Sims Reeves, who was an English tenor who had announced his retirement for 1882, but continued to perform until 1891. The gentle mockery works in two directions: the amateur’s self-delusion, and Reeves’s years of performance after his supposed retirement. 'Ask a Policeman' is a catch-phrase derived from the popular music-hall song 'If You Want to Know the Time Ask a Policeman’, first performed in 1888 by English comedian James Fawn, and written by Edward William Rogers (1864–1913) and Augustus Edward Durandeau (1848–1893). The boy ‘fiend’ in the first illustration is one of the subjects of ‘Samuel on Snow and Snowballers‘ (4th February 1888). —— David Skilton
Not had much of this sort of fiend during the past month happily.
HE New Year -- another of them. Ah, me, how time flies; and Time is 'fly,' too; it creeps on one 'unbewares,' as an old lady friend of mine hath it. Do you know, sir, there is one sort of satisfaction that I have never yet experienced on any New Year's Day, and that is feeling, on any such given day, that I am a richer and a better man than I was on the previous first of January A.D.? Perhaps there are others in the same boat; I claim no monopoly of singularity in the matter I have spoken of. These days that are as milestones in our lives are not pleasurable ones, are they? A nice even, average day that doesn't affect to stand aloof from its fellows and to put on 'side' is tolerable, that is unless one has an invitation from Victoria, by the Grace of God, on that day;[i] it is tolerable from its very unpretentiousness; but a stuck-up exclusive day that demands all manner of ridiculous homage and observances ought to be scouted. To a man who has got leisure to take too much drink on any other day in the year (given the drink of course -- very much 'given'), a public holiday, when it seems to be demanded of every man (I judge that by what I see around me) that he shall take more than is good for him — a public holiday is as nought, and I can't see myself where the 'catch' comes in as to the observance of New Year's Day. Most people are very bilious after the Christmas observances, and all that gaiety is only a flash in the pan. Most of them have expended all their powder and shot and ammunition generally that they have got or care to lay out, and, then, oh, horror, we all begin to count the cost of roysterings past, and the grim tradesman begins to think that it is about time he made out his bill.
The sort of cheerful apparition that haunts the dreams of people who have Christmassed too much. Nice sort of ‘pal’ to start the New Year with.
There is distinctly nothing soothing about New Year's Day. If a man do not care to perjure himself by making rash resolutions that he must, and he be in his right mind, know can only be broken, there is nothing left for him but to indulge in a melancholy retrospect as to the past, and an insane desire that the universe might be put back 20 years, so that he could start in life all over again. Some men there are who welcome the New Year with extra effusion, because they know full well that it can't very well be worse than the past one, and may be a jolly sight better; others are there to whom it brings dull and leaden despair, for they begin to realise that though the years are creeping on, they are as far off the goal of their hopes and ambition as ever they were. I like the former sort best, I must say – few people in this world know how to make the best of things. Speaking personally, mine Editor, I never feel really unhappy except when I haven't got a shot in the locker. I can generally be quite cheerful when I owe a lot of money – though you might not think it; but on New Year's Day, when those blue envelopes begin to arrive with vague hints about consulting 'legal advisers,' I must confess that there is a sort of 'all-over-alike' feeling […… … … .] and as I regard this feeling as a sort of necessary concomitant of the season I don't like the latter. I begin to wonder whether the climate of Vancouver would suit me, and whether, if it came to a push, I could carry bricks up a ladder in Sydney. Emigration has its advantages, has it not?
Left: The amateur tenor who is in such request about this time of the year. Does not fancy himself – well ask a policeman. ‘Sims’ Reeves No. 2. Right: The sort of man who ought to make good resolutions on New Year’s Day – and keep them.
As for all the false-faced people who wish me a 'Happy New Year,' not to speak of 'Many on 'em,' I wish that some 'strange fatality,' to use the evening-paper phrase, would happen to them, and 'Many on ’em.' I get nauseated very soon with this 'Happy New Year' business, for I am a bit of a pessimist after all, and I cannot but feel that all the people who cordially detest me just adopt the same formula as those who are indifferent to me and that the phrase has lost all its significance. I frequently have to reply with 'Same to you,' when I'd like to order them something soothing with boiling oil in it. We men and women are a thundering lot of liar—prevaricators, aren't we? I don t know what I've done to any man that he should wish me a Happy New Year -- I can't recall any crime that I have committed that might justly entitle me to such a punishment. What a Happy New Year I would make it though for some people had I the power of wielding a fairy's wand. (Nice fairy, I should make, by-the-way — almost more 'scrany' [skiny] than the grandmotherly first row of the ballet.) But I suppose that we all say these kindly things – till we get the money and the power to gratify ourselves, and then what a falling-off is there [Hamlet I.v.46.]. On the other hand, I am fain to confess that there are a good many people for whom I should make the New Year a very sultry one – I am yery human in such matters. The New Year ushers in plenty of material for good, many a grievance that ought to be removed, many a wrong that ought to be righted, many a sad heart and many a joyous one — the world goes wagging on just In the old sweet way.
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Last modified 22 March 2022