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. —— David Skilton
Upon my word, sir, I am disappointed when I put my mind back, like a clock, for 12 months, and my reflections are anything but pleasurable ones when I glance, as it were, into the mirror of my life. But then, after all, 12 months is a very short time in which to achieve anything worth achieving, but one does like to think that one is just a bit nearer some achievement, eh? Well, I can't say for certain that I am nearer anything — unless it be old age and the Bankruptcy Court. Though the last year has gone, like just a few previous one, I can't say that it has left me much, save perhaps a few more grey hairs and a degree of more intense pressure on the part of persons (and yourself, unhappily, among the number) who venture to question the purity of my motives and the rectitude of my habits. There are certain men, sir, who at some particular period of their lives, or during the lifelong course of existence, seem fated to be the victims of their fellow men, and it seems as though the year of disgrace 1889 was of such a nature to me. In fact, I couldn't do right that year – all the lines I tried turned out to be hard lines. I must at the beginning of the year have seen the new moon through glass or something or other. I started on New Year's Day by falling down a coal grate, and splitting the knees of a new pair of [13.61] trousers, and nearly splitting my head at the same time. The accident is in some degree atoned for by the fact that I have not yet paid for the garments. Only a night or two afterwards I was bidden to make a speech at the dinner of the Decrepit Order of Soakers, and I made immense preparations in the way of oratorical effort, with a view, of course, of 'knocking lumps,' as it were, off the Grand Delirium (our President) and the brother Soakers of less degree. But whether it was that the other Soakers could not follow my flights of eloquence, or that they were too busy with the decanters, my efforts fell flat, as several of the Brothers also did, by-the-way, before the meeting terminated. But worst of all, another Brother got up; an Irishman he is, with a brogue that you could cut with a knife. He actually made a butt at me, and went so far as to refer to me as an 'ancient humbug,' and the Soakers all laughed.
Got up and called me a humbug.
It has been the same all the year through. I went away for rest and quiet in the spring, and lost my luggage on the journey. I found out that the terrace where I resided was the happy hunting ground of all the piano-organ High-Italians, German-band men, and hawkers of the place, and that there was a municipal election going on. The open-air meeting-place of the candidates was directly opposite my window, and I heard shrieking and yelling from morning till night, this being varied by the monotonous shouting of the candidates. My half-brother Rhadamanthus came over to see me, and, as he rather happens to resemble Mr Gladstone, a big crowd followed him. and an enthusiastic opponent of a Gladstonian administration, who could not subsequently be found, shied a rotten turnip at him out of the crowd. Then the mumps broke out in the house, and I caught it, as I generally do anything of that sort which is throwing about, and which one doesn’t want to find, and then the new Russian invention, the influenza, came round and paid me a visit. After that I was summoned in [i]respect of the dog-tax, and I fell over a bit of garbage or something and broke a ten-pound-in-value square of glass, and a man threatened me with an action for libel -- and, oh dear, I have had a lively year of it and no mistake.
Rhadamanthus Robinson is mistaken for the Grand Old Man [Gladstone].Then a friend of mine, old Kit Coyne, to whom I owed £12, and who said that he would never trouble me for a farthing of it, was obstinate to go and die, and his executors said that they had found my IOU and should make me pay up – and they did, too, 'sharp,' as one of them (the brute) ungrammatically put it; and then I slaved away at a five-act melodrama of the most blood-curdling sort, and this was eagerly snapped up by Driup[ ]Smalls, 'the eminent comedian,' as he calls himself, who said that he would take it on tour to all the big towns with lots of posting, and with 'the finest company that ever came out of London.' I was to have £300 down and a Royalty of so much a night during the run of the piece. The piece has had a long run since then. It has run off to Australia and taken Smalls with it. I am now waiting for the £300. Smalls can have the Royalty as a little perquisite. It has been a lucky year, rather!
My children have caused me a good deal of trouble. My eldest son has taken to wearing his hair long like Irving, and to reciting 'Eugene Aram's Dream' in the back attic – his recitation is more or a kind of nightmare than a dream. He takes turns at the back attic with my second lad, who practises on the flageolet, or some other horrific wind instrument, whose precise nature I wot not of. The sounds he produces are about as soothing as the noise of a dog howling through a keyhole. I have told him that his ultimate fate will be as the collector for a German band; but he doesn't seem alarmed at the prospect, and says that I have no taste for anything but 'Scotch, with a little water, please.' Fancy such insult from one's own flesh and blood. But I shall put my foot down, not to say both my feet – though truth to tell, all men must do that unless they want to progress on their hands and knees
My daughters are just the same. The eldest, who might any day marry young Catchweight, the eldest son of my butcher (to whom I am under considerable obligations) obstinately refuses to entertain the young gentleman's suet — suit I mean, dear, dear, me! I quite admit that young Catchweight is not exactly what you would call a well-educated man; but there is a good deal of honesty of purpose about him, though he does soak his hair in beef dripping or something like it, and spell breast 'brest.' She prefers that jackanapes, young Smudge, who appears to be something in an office – probably the young gentleman who washes out the inkstand, minds the fire, and embezzles the stamp money. I actually caught Smudge kissing my daughter under the mistletoe at our Christmas party – think of that and pull up your socks, you bald-headed fathers of families. But I am sick and disgusted of recounting my tribulations. I think I shall 'give 'em the sack, never go back, never go home any more,' as Lord Tennyson observes in one of his most beautiful and precious lyrics. I will go and be a strong man, a la Sandow, or an editor, or something else abandoned and Godless
Last modified 25 March 2022