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.

Explanatory Notes

'the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to': Hamlet III.i.63-5. —— David Skilton

Decorated initial I

t is a far easier thing to get behindhand than to get forward in the race of life, and people who, without special effort or intention, perform the first-named task with ease are totally unable at times to perform the second, though they lay themselves out to do so with a persistence worthy of emulation.

It is so easy to slide into the rear rank, so difficult, once having got there, to slide out of it.

Trying to Get Forward

I remember a story in this connection of two men who were employed in a large workshop. One lived close to the works, and the other lived some distance away from them. The man who lived close by was never there in time by any chance, while the one who resided at a distance was invariably punctual to the minute. One day the manager said to the delinquent, 'How is it that you are always late, while John, who has much further to come, can always get here in time?'

'Well, you see,' replied the workman, 'if he's late he can run and make it up.'

This form of argument seems on the face of it to be convincing, but investigation will show that it is futile.

Bad to Get Forward

But there is a serious side to getting behindhand in life, and those who through really no fault of their own find themselves in the position of being so, know full well how wearing and wearying is the struggle that ensues ere they extricate themselves from the meshes of worry and uncertainty that are the result of getting behindhand.

Once things get behindhand in this life, they accumulate with a surprising and annoying rapidity, and the man who is able, after a long struggle, to free himself from the toils feels as if a load of the heaviest kind had been lifted from his shoulders.

It is usually from small beginnings that these behindhand toils commence. Men think they are going to go certain things in life, and, thinking so, do others in consequence; but, the hopes they cherished being dashed to the ground, they find that the things they have done in anticipation are leaving them behindhand in some other direction. It is only after a long and tedious struggle that they succeed in putting things on a proper level — or, as I once heard a parvenu say, on a 'tangible basis.'

Never Behindhand

The worst form of getting behindhand is that in which money is the principal item. Once let a man drop into the nick [arrears] in monetary matters, and he will find that it will take him a long time to recover himself. The harass and anxiety of knowing that you are in arrears with things pecuniary is terrible, and only those who have had to try and make ends meet week after week and month after month have the remotest idea of the wear-and-tear of the mental system occasioned by thus being behindhand.

It does not at all follow that a man is entirely to blame for getting back in his monetary transactions.

There are many men who are driven into this position owing to the fact that they are compelled to keep up a respectable position on an inadequate salary, and when the time comes that they are provided with the needful filthy lucre to keep themselves without bother and without worry at to expenditure and income, they have to pinch themselves for some time to clear off the accumulations of the past.

Such men are rather to be pitied than blamed, and if some now and then throw up the sponge and 'end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,'[i] it is hardly surprising.

At the same time if people would, so far as possible, strive to keep within bounds in matters both monetary and material there would be much misery and unpleasantness avoided.

Always Behindhand

For those who get behindhand through misfortune or unforeseen circumstances I have always considerable pity, but for those who fall into the rear from carelessness or idleness I have none, for they deserve all and more than they get.

Any man who neglects his opportunities should not grumble if he does not succeed in life, for he has his chance to do so, but the poor mortal who struggles on year after year with little or no hope of getting any nearer the front is a man to be helped over the stile and to be commiserated with upon his trying and wearing out existence.

No one knows what it is to the man who desires to get on to be perpetually behindhand unless they have been in the same boat, and when they have they will desire to give him a lift.

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Last modified 2 May 2022