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.

This article had renewed relevance 130 years later. Little was known about infections and nothing about viruses in 1890. The meaning of 'egg-paste and nites' has not been traced. —— David Skilton

'Russian influenza, sir: nonsense, sir: cold in the head. None of your new-fangled notions for me.'

TSCH-SCH-OO-OO! There we are; I've got it, certain enough, or a very good imitation of it. I'm certain always to be in for anything throwing about that is catching and disagreeable. It is La Grippe – 'Russian Influenza', right enough; I’m certain of it. The newspaper[s]; which never lie, say that it is going about, and the doctors, who also never lie (and who, of course, don’t benefit much by a panic –what do you think? I back them up, so of course it must be frightfully prevalent. 'Tsch oo o-o-o: another pocket-handkerchief, please –and one that hasn’t a hole in it this time. I’m free to confess that despite the painful symptoms I am enduring, I should, had the papers not had so much to say, have set this particular case of m own down as one of ordinary cold in the head, a case of common or garden 'blow your nose, by dose is blowd:' but one likes to be in ' t'feshun,' as the mill-girl said when she made an 'improver' out of the sofa cushion, and therefore one cannot resist being able to claim an attack of 'influenza;' it is so nice and soothing to describe one’s symptoms, with much stress and particularity, to all on’es friends who are willing to listen. I am not a proud man myself – ordinary influenza was always quite good enough for me; but of course when a really superfine, unshrinkable, copper-bottomed rticle like the Russian variety is a mere drug in the market, I can afford to go in for luxuries and revel in La Grippe, as all men of well-consituted minds who go with the times must.

A victim: ‘Oh, let me die and be done with it.’

I’ve got a nice raspy throat, just as though I’d been eating broken glass and washing it down with naptha; I’ve blear eyes too; and for tone, variety, and frequency of sneezing I’m prepared to back myself against any man in the West Riding. If I go on sneezing as I have been doing, I fully expect that I shall undermine the foundations of the building and have the ladlord in to complain. My wretched mouth is dry and parched, and y head is hot and feverish. Now I don’t as a general rule object to my mouth being a bit dry, especially when I have just drawn one of your cheques: indeed, I’m rather partial to being dry –but not when the senses of taste and smell have alike departed. A man is indeed, as I should respectfully hold, sir, in a parlous state who cannot either smell or taste good rum not, with lemon. It makes one's heart bleed to think that any influenza or anything ele should be as depraved as to deaden a man’s appreciation of rum hot with lemon and sugar. I could bear much –but not that, sir, not that.

The Grad Old Bad with a cold in his nose.

The worst of this complaint is that it gives all these consummate nuisances, the people with infallible recipes, their devilish opportunity of working mischief and gratifying their own vanity at the same time. Hundreds of suggestions for a complete cure have been thrown out to me, and if I'd adopted one half of them I should have been the nside fare of a hearse by this time’ Astonishing what a lot of interest people, who certainly have had no cause to wish me particularly well, have taken in me. The suggested remedies of those, now I think of the, strike me as being particularly nauseous. There is only one man of my acquaintance who has really seemed to appreciate the situation,and whose recipe appears to be based on strict common sense, and that is Grogham’s. A man of sterling worth is Grogam. 'I'll tell you what you ought to do, 'said Grogam. ‘Go home, Samuel, have a big fire lighted in you bedroom; get a couple of novels and a few periodicals, jump into bed, order a big blttle of E. Y. O., a lemon, the kettle, and some sugar –light your pipe, and there you are, don’t you know. If you are not warm enough in bed, pile on all the overcoats you have and a chest of drawer as well, and you'll soon be all right.'Pleasanter recipe that, sir, than all the (urgh they give me the creeps) sickening remedies prescribed by soe friends [?fiends] in human form — who never seem to try their own formulas – worse luck!

A good many public men seem to be suffering. According to the newspapers, which are most diligent always in recording that Mr Gladstone has a corn on one of his toes, or that of Lord Randolph Churchill has a pimple at the back of his neck. No wonder that a public man does not appear on the platform when he has the 'fluence' on him; a man with a red nose, fiery, bleary eyes, parched and seared-looking skin – a sneezy, wheezy man does not look heroic anywhere, and not even the Grad Old Bad would be very impressive did he stand on a platform holding his egg-paste and nites in one band and a huge pocket handkerchief about the size of a temperance-society banner in the other. Fancy, too, Lord Salisbury beginning a speech somewhat as follows: -- 'Ladies ad gedlebed; (sneeze) the codstitutied bust be baidtaided; c Bister Pardell says of the (sneeze) Cobbissiod, the inquiry at Westbidster, &c., &c.['] It wouldn't work at all, would it now? I notice, good sir, that in all our public offices the epidemic has spread amazingly, and has entailed the absence of not a few of the clerks and officials. I know that many of them have suffered in such a way as to render them quite incapable of duty, because I have seen them nursing themselves round billiard tables and in bar parlours. Most of them, however, have sat over the fire in the front parlour reading novels. Their coadjutors who remain at the office wish they would look sharp and get better, in order that they (the coadjutors in the office) might have their little turn. Of course, they want to make it conveniently turn and turn about — 'when you cease Sneezing, I’ll commence,' sort of business.

Links Related Material by Samuel

  • Samuel on some of the Distressing Situations of Every-day Life
  • Diseaseas and Epidemics (homepage)