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. A decorative initial has been added. —— David Skilton
eighbours are a peculiar set of beings, who can on occasion make themselves intensely disagreeable, and who, when they make their minds up to do so, are capable, without ever entering it, of creating an eruption in another person's domicile only to be equalled in unpleasantness by an eruption at Vesuvius.
Yet, I doubt not, that if you were to interview any particular set of neighbours they would promptly tell you that the above statement was arrant nonsense if nothing worse, and they might be perfectly sincere in thinking so. But they would not be correct all the same. There are, of course, neighbours and neighbours, and the efforts of some of the fraternity to keep out of mischief and eschew scandal and back-biting go far to mitigate the results produced by neighbours of the order first-named. It is a peculiar feature of objectionable neighbours that they seem to be imbued with a perpetual desire to become possessed of an unlimited stock of information relative to the private and confidential affairs of other people. Having gained this – by what means is best known to themselves — they at once proceed to disseminate their knowledge throughout the neighbourhood in which they reside, with results that may be most unpleasant to the people concerned.
Should they, by any chance, be unable to satisfy their desire and craving for scandal, owing to the absence of accurate information, they do not give up their self-imposed occupation, but proceed to invent such stories as they fancy are best likely to be received as truthful, and at the same time to annoy the persons to whom they are intended to refer.
Nothing is too bad for your scandal-loving neighbour — who is generally a woman -- and she welcomes the smallest hint that will enable her to tell her dearest friend some new item of scandal concerning a person who all the time may be under the false impression that her neighbours are a decent set of people, with no feeling of spite or unfriendliness about them.
One thing the average neighbour cannot stand, and that is having anyone living in their immediate vicinity whose worldly position is better than their own. In the eyes of the neighbour the possession of such position, if not an actual crime, is at least a thing to be objected to in the most strenuous manner, and no means are, as a rule, considered too mean to be used in making things as uncomfortable as possible for the objectionable persons who are better off than their neighbours.
Always Ready to Give Advice
Some people, though they mind their own business thoroughly, will find all kinds of rumours as to the way in which they get their means circulated in the district where they reside. Each action of their lives will be freely commented on should they foolishly do something at all out of the ordinary. They need hardly be surprised if the rumours verge upon libel, and take the form of insinuations which would come out badly if disputed in a court of law. This class of people rely largely on the fact that respectable people with any position at all do not care to appeal to the law oftener than they are compelled to do, and they therefore fancy they are perfectly safe in circulating statements about them which are entirely devoid of truth.
Yet it would do an immensity of good if someone did make an example of a set of these backbiting nuisances and invoke the aid of the law to stop their slanderous and objectionable tongues. Slaveys [servants] are great lovers of scandal, and much of the gossip of the neighbours comes through them. To take the good neighbour in hand for a while is a pleasure after discoursing of the objectionable one. This lady – it is always a lady in this case — is ever ready to lead a helping hand in times of need or sickness, and begrudges neither time nor trouble to help a young wife over a domestic worry, or to give a lift to a neighbour who is pushed for time, or who, by reason of having a large family, is unable to get all the rest she needs. This good soul has no spite about her, but has a good word for everybody, and is never so happy as when she hears of a stroke of good fortune coming to a friend or neighbour.
It is largely in the middle classes that these specimens of the genus neighbour are to be found, though in all walks of life the neighbour exists, and his or her faults and virtues are simply a matter of degree.
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Last modified 30 April 2022