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.

Explanatory notes

‘all sorts and conditions’: there are prayers in the Church of England concerning 'all sorts and conditions of men' (Book of Common Prayer, 1662, Morning or Evening Prayer).

Primrose Day was the anniversary of the death of Benjamin Disraeli (ennobled as Earl of Beaconsfield), Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister; the Primrose League was established in 1883 to spread Conservative principles in Great Britain. The primrose was Disraeli’s favourite flower, and Queen Victoria famously sent primroses as a tribute on his funeral in 1881.

‘mashers:’ elsewhere 'Samuel' defines a masher as 'the sort of young man who fancies that he can overcome and overawe everybody by the potency of his attractions.

‘people with brains and no money are made for the benefit of people with money and no brains: or vice versa, surely.’

Two of the dicta which Samuel quotes cannot be traced, and may be his inventions: 'the world is a mêlé[e]of special constables, each bent upon getting his own fad enforced at the point. of the truncheon', and 'an indiscriminate collection of other people's signatures'. —— David Skilton

Mashers’ fads.

Not only individuals but organisations are subject to effects of fads, and it is to a peculiar fad – more or less authenticated — of the late Earl of Beaconsfield that we owe the existence of Primrose, Day and Primrose Leagues. Politicians and Puritans, Saints and Sinners alike, are all victims to fads. In fact, 'the world is a mêlé[e]of special constables, each bent upon getting his own fad enforced at the point of the truncheon.' Had there never been any fads there would have been no mashers and high collars, and their accompanying discomfort would not have existed. Fads are responsible for more things in this world, sir, than a casual observer would be tempted to imagine. Men take things up as fads, and by sticking to them long enough in many cases produce results undreamed of at the time the fad took possession of them. Take the case of a man with a taste for mechanics. He potters about in his miniature workshop experimenting at his leisure. It is his fad. One day he discovers that some improvement might be made in the tools he is using, and he sets to work to find out how. The result is a patent that not only enriches the inventor, but proves of practical use to a portion of the world at large, simply the result of a fad.

With a fad for jewellery.

But there are fads, sir, wh[ich] do not carry with them the redeeming feature of usefulness, and their possessors are not unfrequently a nuisance to their friends and acquaintances. For instance, there is the ventilating faddist, a being who has a theory for remedying all errors of atmosphere and temperature. Once let him get a footing in your homestead and you are doomed. He will never leave you, but your peace of mind will. He will tell you the exact amount of cold air necessary for the preservation of good health, and if your rooms be pleasantly warm and comfortable he will, even on the coldest day, talk scientifically about vitiated atmosphere until you feel it your bounden duty to open all the windows in spite of the fact that you are subject to rheumatism and neuralgia. He is a walking catalogue of patent ventilators, and the vigour of his recommendations is suggestive of a commission on results.

Another faddist is the man with a mania for old china, which he accumulates to the full extent his means will allow. This faddist is very often a living proof of the veracity of the adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. He will buy almost anything, provided it be a pot, and has an appearance of age. Therefore, on the principle that people with brains and no money are made for the benefit of people with money and no brains, certain dealers in modern-ancient pottery provide for his delectation a choice selection of pots of more or less value – principally the latter— which they palm off for the real articles at prices commensurate with their value as genuine relics of departed ages. In spite of this, sir, he is perfectly happy in the enjoyment of his fad: and unless some unkind friend shatters his happiness by proving his collection more or less worthless, he will end his days in the belief that he is an authority on ceramic art, and that his collection is of the utmost value. He is not the only faddist who lives in a dreamland of his own. The peculiarity of his pots is their intense ugliness. This is supposed to add to their value.

A checked fad.

Then, sir, there is the man who has a peculiar fad in reference to medicine and the providers thereof. His pet aversion is a medical man, and he will insist upon doctoring himself. He has a large collection of medical dictionaries and cyclopædias, and keeps a miscellaneous assortment of drugs and patent, medicines on the premises. If by any accident you tell him you are not feeling quite up to the mark, he at once prescribes for you, and suggests an alternative list of medicines, patent and otherwise. As an ally to the ventilating faddist he would be invaluable – from a doctor's point of view. He says it saves doctor's bills, but it is a peculiar thing that all his knowledge is of no avail when he is taken seriously ill. On the contrary, he is invariably told by the despised doctor he is compelled to call in that he has been doing his level best to ruin his constitution generally, and has materially lessened his chances of recovery in the case immediately in question. This faddist is one whom experience cannot teach, for no sooner does he recover (under the treatment of pet aversion) than he is as ready as ever to fIy to his old fads when he feels unwell. Foolish faddist. If he but knew it, he is spending more money on worthless nostrums than would pay for advice and medicine from a reliable practitioner.

I once knew a man who had a fad as to the peculiar style of cloth he wore for his trousers He always wore a peculiar large cheque pattern and ordered his breeches by the dozen pairs, Winter or summer he never changed his check (no imputation as to his commercial stability intended). If he be living still, he is certain to be wearing the same check trousers as of yore. The principal objection to this peculiar fad was that it gave people the impression that its owner never got a new pair of trousers. And such a notion is hardly one a man would care for his friends to entertain. Yet I verily believe the [the] man would have sooner given up a friend or two than have given up his beloved check. You couldn't check his fad. There are certainly some advantages attached to a large check. It is not only distinctive, but it, on occasion, can be used with advantage as a substitute for draught board.

A faddist, who is a nuisance to many people, is the man or woman who desires to possess what an eminent journalist once called 'an indiscriminate collection of other people's signatures.' In a word, I mean the autograph-hunter. He, it is generally a man, usually goes very mad on his fad, but there is monetary method in his madness. He has no sense of delicacy, and gathers in his, or other people's, signatures with an eye to the main chance, for autographs have a saleable value. He will worry the life out of a celebrity with a persist[e]nce worthy of a better cause, and having at last obtained his prize, will show it in triumph to his friends with an intimation that he saw the same celebrity's autograph advertised for sale in a paper for a certain sum of money. He worries his victims in all sorts of ways, and is for ever trying to invent new methods for obtaining signatures from people, who, like the late Charles Reade, think autograph-collectors an emphatic nuisance. And the old maid's fads, sir, what are they? 'Silly,' says the world. But are they in reality so? I think not. Are they not rather a cloak behind which lie hidden the sweetest memories of a happy girlhood; memories of a time when the flowers and blossoms of spring seemed laden with love, and the world but a garden where grew the flowers of hope and contentment? Believe me, sir, there is much true sentiment and reverence pent up beneath the womanish fads the worlds sneers at if only one had the key to the mystery. There is seldom any harm in the fads indulged in by the old ladies of the world, be they maids or widows. In both cases the peculiarities are invariably the customs of departed days, and the sleek tabby who is tended and cared for with a seeming extravagance by its maiden owner knows it will never have a kinder mistress. The widow's fads usually take the form of idolising relics, and who shall grudge her the right to shed her heartfelt tears over a picture or a lock of hair. To her they are not the inanimate things they are to us – they speak full eloquently of the past, and bring to mind with vivid reality many pleasures long since passed away. Life is sad enough to those whose idols exist only in the mind, without the scoffers making fun of their little eccentricities. Therefore do not sneer at their little fads which emanate from the corner of a woman's heart, where loving memories are stored away, and where the sunlight of departed hours still shines at intervals, when the world is sleeping and she is alone with her thoughts.

Last modified 8 April 2022