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. Where the original column appears without paragraph breaks, these have been added for easier reading. The text has not been edited to remove offensive language and attitudes that were widespread at the time. All but one of the articles were accompanied by small illustrations, a few of which are reproduced here. This is the first of a number accounts of alcoholic excess, presented as a Dickensian tradition, and brought up-to-date in the prospect of a labour-saving device in ‘this greatly improved and continually progressing world’. — David Skilton
e are getting on, sir, there is no doubt of it. Day after day the humble minded and easily pleased individual may patiently tackle the toothsome red herring for breakfast, but he is conscious while rejecting the bones that he could, if he chose, revel in the canned boneless luxury of foreign climes. There are still people, sir, who do their travelling by railway, although they know it might be possible to go by balloon. There are old-fashioned people, sir, who yet waste valuable time and labour in giving each mouthful of food twenty-four separate and individual bites, notwithstanding that some medical authorities declare that so much mastication is not absolutely necessary. Obstinate people, sir, will persist in dying and putting their relations to the expense of burying them, in preference to buying a dozen bottles of some patent medicine at Is. 1½d., and so staving off the Old Reaper for all time. All these and a hundred other different kinds of eccentric cranks, who have had the misfortune to be born into this greatly improved and continually progressing world, have had something done for them; but there is one class, sir, which has hitherto had no really effective ameliorating development devised to improve its condition.
I refer, sir, to that great and patriotic band of citizens who contribute so much to the revenue of the country by imbibing liquid comforts. Efforts have been made to invent some means whereby their circumstances could be as pleasant as possible after a salmon dinner. Paternal municipal bodies have held inquiries on patent wheelbarrows which promised the minimum of bumps and rattle and the maximum of comfort to those who have looked on the wine when it was red; in some places of exceptional advancement, sir, these vehicles have been adopted, and are in daily use. In most police cells frequent experience and rigid investigation have finally decided the exact slope of the boards and the correct height of the wooden pillow which is best adapted for the repose of the saturated sinner who has achieved the whisky habit with sufficient ability to entitle him to the municipal hospitality. But these, my dear sir, are merely extraneous aids, and must be applied by the outsiders. Since the days of Noah till now all that a man could do for himself when suffering from alcoholic excitement was to select the softest place to sleep it off, and then to apply to the nearest hydrant when restored to consciousness. But advancing science has at last come to the rescue, sir, and an invention is announced which will enable a man to go deliberately on a howling, fighting, crying, or singing drunk, and to know at the same time that he will wake up next morning all right, without having his watch in the water-jug or his boots in the bed.
It is almost needless to state, sir, that the prime motor in this most beneficent invention is electricity. Almost every great discovery is now identified with that potent fluid, but the method in which the electricity is applied is still the secret of the inventor, who naturally declines to divulge too much till he has secured full patent rights on an invention which is so sure to be popular and productive of much money to its designer. The invention does not offer to do too much; it does not make a man sober, nor will it remove a black eye, or repair a broken nose, or do anything to mitigate the enjoyment of the superior headache which over[-]indulgence in alcoholic fluids produces next morning. It simply proposes to enable a man to get drunk, and yet be able to reach his house, or anywhere else he may have set the machine to take him to. It is called the "The Electrical Inebriate Guide," and the machine is no bar to perfect freedom of movement till a man becomes boozy and appears to lo[o]se his power of straightforward motion. The guide consists of an arm or prong not unlike a photographer's rest, or a trousers' stretcher, and being neatly and lightly constructed is easily concealed beneath the coat collar. A section of the instrument extends down the back inside the coat, and connects with a battery and clockwork arrangement which is attached to the cross of an ordinary pair of braces.
The moment a man begins to discover symptoms of earthquake in the pavement, or sees two moons, or fancies that he ought to wash his face in a mud puddle and dry it on a door mat, all he has to do is to press a small button, the machine at once takes the entire control of his movements, and the wearer finds himself, by a gentle pressure on the back of the neck, impelled to go straight home, or wherever the machine is arranged to take him. A development of the instrument, sir, which is to be retailed at a much higher price can be set to compel him to return at a certain time, and when the moment arrives no resistance is of avail. This latter instrument is of such a compact nature that it can be attached in position without the wearer knowing it, and this fact will doubtless arouse joy in many a wifely bosom. Great as is the boon which the apparatus will confer on humanity, the inventor is not entirely satisfied that it is complete. He hopes by the addition of two or three arms to make it even more perfect. Some portion of the proposed additions is intended to support the knees of the wearer, and another concealed in the sleeve of the coat will enable him to get his latchkey inserted into the keyhole with more promptitude than hitherto, and so prevent any knowledge of his condition coming to the neighbours. Undoubtedly the invention, sir, has a magnificent future before it, and it cannot fail to be popular about the 25th of December, and at other festive occasions.
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Last modified 19 November 2021