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.
'name is legion': in Mark 8:9, Jesus meets 'a man with an unclean spirit'. 'And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.' —— David Skilton
Loafers are an aimless, shiftless, and undesirable set of people. Like the man who said he was "a pew-opener by birth,' some of them seem as if they had inherited the principles of loaferism from their cradle.These men are little, or no use, in this world, and idle their own and other people's time away in a disgraceful manner. There are some of these people who loaf or idle about for the mere want of something better to do, and they do not do as much harm as other loafers I shall touch upon later. There is little danger, except to hearts, in the loafing of the young men who, instead of playing tennis, loaf about the courts with racket in hand or talk pretty nonsense to some fair damsel who only takes an interest in tennis for ulterior motives, and who, if the truth be told, thinks the game 'too much of a fag.'
Yet she rather likes to loaf about with a male admirer, and if asked by any one who meets her returning from the courts where she had been, she would say, 'at tennis.' Thus the loafing young man induces a form of mild deception on the part of the young lady.
The most awful specimen of the great army of loafers — and their name is legion — is the man who has fallen from a position of respectability to the loafer-loved gutter of humanity. He is a sight not to be desired. Let me try and sketch the career of such a man, who usually owes his fall to some crank or fad which he sticks to in spite of friends or foes.
He is, perhaps, the head of a department in a large manufactory, and has held his post honourably and successfully for years, and is in the enjoyment of a good salary, and the confidence of his employers. He is clever at his business and has an inventive mind. He is well educated and has a general smattering of knowledge relating to a quantity of subjects. This knowledge, though superficial, is used so artfully as to deceive those who meet him casually into the belief that he is somewhat of an authority on the subject under discussion. Under these circumstances he makes a sort of scientific reputation among the set he moves in. This goes on for some time, until his fancy for invention comes to the fore and demands, as it were, to be given a chance. From that moment he is a doomed man, going slowly but surely down the path which leads to the abode of loaferdom. All his spare time is taken up with his new hobby, even to the detriment of his business. At length he brings his invention to a head, patents it, and straightway offers it, as a pearl of great price, to his employers, who, after carefully considering the idea, which applies to their business, decline to have anything to do with it.
Then the inventor decides to run the thing himself, and, throwing up his comfortable position and salary, hies him forth to try and find some firm with more foresight than his late employers to take up his patent. One firm takes it up, but drops it quickly owing to it not being practical. Then comes the stroke of luck – as the inventor thinks—he finds a young man with money. They enter into a partnership, which does not last long, for the thing fails, the youth loses his money, and the patent has lost any chance of success it may have had.
Yet he sticks to it, and as an antidote to his trouble sets to work to invent something else. He has now used all his capital, and slides gradually down the hill, living from hand to mouth, borrowing money when he can from the men he knew in the days of his prosperity. His clothes are seedy and his boots worn out; he gees unshaven and unshorn, and altogether presents a deplorable appearance.
He avoids the main thoroughfare, and will give no one his address — for obvious reasons. This goes on so long that people ask each other how he lives, and regret that a man of his ability should have sunk so low. He has joined the inglorious army of loafers, and no power will ever put him back into his old position. He lives in hope that his inventions may succeed, and sinks deeper into the mire day by day. The worst types of loafer are men who do not intend work so long as they can do without it. They would sooner exist on what they can catch from their sturdier brothers than live well on their own honest earnings. They are the curse of the country, and will be so long as they remain a tangible blot on our civilization.
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Last modified 18 April 2022