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.
'rifts in the domestic lute':
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
– Tennyson, 'Merlin and Vivien' (1859) ll.388-390, in his Idylls of the King.
Paul Pry is a character in John Poole's farce of the same name (1825) —— David Skilton
here are some people in this world who can never realise the value of the advice 'Mind your own business,' and they seem to occupy the greatest part of their time in minding the business of other people. They can tell you the most interesting details of their neighbours' lives, and they would, if put to it, give you more or less accurate information as to the weekly expenditure of Messrs Brown, Jones, or Robinson.
Is Asked Out for His Stories
They are prepared to swear to the number of 'tiffs' that go on in the houses of their dearest friends, and know to a quarter of an hour what time Mr Smith arrives at his domicile every evening in the week.
They are the originators of more scandal than any one else on earth; also they are responsible for more rifts in the domestic lute than even cold dinners or the domestic cat.
The women are by far the worst busybodies, and their natural curiosity is a thing to be avoided as one would avoid the plague.
Asks if you've heard about the Latest Scandal
They want a reason for every action of their friends and neighbours, and they are not satisfied until they have found or invented one. If Mrs Johnson, the wife of a respectable tradesman, turns out in a sealskin jacket, these busy-bodies at once begin to enquire how she came to be possessed of it, and by the time their enquiries are ended they have fully satisfied themselves that her husband could not afford to give it to her, and that it must have been the gift of some admirer with more money than sense.
Having come to this conclusion the busy-bodies set to work to enquire from their friends and acquaintances whether Mrs Johnson has been seen about with any one in particular, for they fancy it is their duty to acquaint Johnson with the fact that his wife is wearing an expensive sealskin jacket for which he has not paid. It may be that Mrs Johnson has saved the money to buy the jacket, and if the opportunity occurs for the busybodies to tell Johnson, there is as likely as not to be a domestic scene of an unpleasant character in the Johnson household, though the ideas and suspicions of the busybodies be totally unfounded.
Only Repeats What She's been Told
Yet these people imagine they are doing their duty in ferreting out all the petty scandal they can lay their hands on.
While women are the chief offenders as busy- bodies, the men are far from being free from all blame in this direction, and some men are in reality worse than the women.
These men scrape up all the items of scandal they can gather, and, under the guise of secrecy, tell them to everybody they come across.
They usually commence operations by saying to a friend, 'Have you heard the latest about So-and-so?' And on your inquiring what the 'latest' is, they say in a mysterious manner, 'Well, I’m told that he is in a regular mess.' Thereupon they proceed to tell an imaginary story of sin and wickedness calculated to appal even the most broad-minded of men.
What pleasure these scandal-monger busybodies obtain from the promulgation of their inaccurate statements I am at a loss to understand; but that they do an immensity of harm is an incontrovertible fact.
If they could, for a change, mind their own business for a brief space of time, they would confer a lasting benefit upon humanity, and release themselves from the charge of being mischief-making busybodies.
It is more pleasant to be charitable than spiteful, and the busybodies of this world would be a happier and less harmful set of people if they left off their pet amusements, and left their friends and acquaintances to pursue the even tenor of their way without their interference.
Last modified 24 April 2022