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

A secularised sermon, as full of loss and sadness as of hope. Samuel is in lay-preacher mode, and once more full of platitudes.

The young man in the third illustration is in uniform and seems to be holding a plumed helmet, and, if he looks forward to 1891, does so while mourning the losses of 1890.

The quotation 'all sad words of tongue or pen,/ The saddest are these: It might have been' is from 'Maud Muller' (1856) by New England poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). —— David Skilton

Decorated initial A

Happy and Prosperous New Year to all my readers. By the time they are perusing their weekly Samuel the old year will have died, and they will one and all have welcomed the New Year with new hopes and fresh aspirations in their hearts and minds.

The Old Year.

These new years seem to me to come more quickly than they used to do, and the old ones seem to pass away more rapidly as we grow older.

There is something about watching the old year out, and ringing in the new, that is absent from the festivities of Christmas. At the latter season all is fun and frivolity; the little ones are all happy in the knowledge that the morn will bring them presents galore, and that a season of f[easting] and merrim[ent] is in store for them.

The New Year.

But with the departing year it is not so, and few of us but have our moments of sadness, as we sit and watch the lagging hands roll slowly but surely on to the midnight hour which shall proclaim to all mankind that the old year is dead and the new year upon us.

'Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: It might have been,'

says the poet, and it is the memory of the 'might have been' that gives the tinge of sadness and regret to our midnight vigil.

We all love to sit over the fire on New Year's Eve and wonder what the coming year will bring to us. How we plan and promise, and how we sigh over the wasted moments of the departing year. If good resolutions be paving-stones to Hades, then the primrose path that is supposed to lead to it should surely be well repaired each New Year's Eve, for no period of our lives is so prolific of good resolutions as the last hour of the old year which will never return. To the people who have watched the years depart until the snows of old age have gathered round their heads and left the grey aura of old age as legacies, the new years are sadder and less welcome than to those whose foreheads are covered with the sunlit coating of youth and energy.

The old people who have fought the good fight, and are now resting on their oars, know full well that each new year brings them closer to the end of the journey, and nearer to the little spot where their dear ones rest in the hallowed corner of God's acre. They have been through the crush and hurry of life’s battle, and know that one year is much like another, and that the bells which ring with sounds of gladness to the lucky ones on earth, but ring out a discordant jangle to those who have fallen by the way, and who face the new year with a broken faith and a weary heart.

New Year hopes.

The new year brings both shine and shadow in its train, and while life remains the complex thing it is, it will ever be so. The weak must go to the wall, and each departing year sees some poor mortal driven into one of life's corners by the force of the successful ones who push and hurry on their wealth-laden way, all eager for the new year which shall bring them more of the filthy lucre which their less fortunate brothers sigh for but cannot procure.

To the young the new year is the harbinger of all that is bright and pleasant, and their minds are full of projects and ideas which they propose to carry out to the full before the bells peal out their notification that another year has passed into the realms of oblivion.

How many young people set out upon new year's morning with their minds and hearts bent upon amending the faults which have been their stumbling blocks in the year that is past? Thousands! They set out with the knowledge that they ought to lead different lives and ought to drop many of the bad habits they have contracted in the old year. And for a little while they are almost saintly in their newly-chosen ways. One, for instance gives up his pipe and another turns teetotal. And their friends and relations pride themselves upon the fact that their favourite has really turned over a new leaf with the new year, and is going to reform and prove a credit to himself and his family.

Old Year memories.

But alas too often, the resolutions are but the outcome of the new year bells, and when the sound of their jingle is lost to both ears and memory, the resolutions so firmly and solemnly made as they rung in the new year begin to show signs of weakness, and by the time the new year is fairly on the way they have broken down. and the old Adam of pleasure and self-indulgence has mounted his throne again and reigns supreme -- the monarch of that kingdom where weakness and pleasure go hand-in-hand, and where strength of purpose is a thing unknown.

God grant that in the coming year some of this monarch's subjects may secede from his kingdom permanently, and casting to the winds their old year weaknesses enter upon the new one with renewed strength and conquering their old habits become better and sturdier men and women in the new year than they have been in the old.

Last modified 17 April 2022