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.
It is striking that, despite its title, this article doesn’t mention the Easter holiday. Perhaps the paper’s management was making sure it did not offend its many Non-Conformist readers who might object to the secular celebration of Easter. This article strikes only one note – ill-tempered complaint. There is some quite effective, inflated diction, and the conceit of ‘the wooing of Bacchus’ is, as a Victorian might have said, ‘happy’ – imitating, as it does, the titles of the classical burlesques which were popular in the period. Yet unlike earlier articles, it fails to engage imaginatively with Samuel’s fellow-travellers. It is not surprising that the editor adds a note in an effort to avoid alienating his readership on the grounds of social class. The relevance of the fourth image is not immediately apparent. Since the death of its previous editor and proprietor in January 1888, the paper is possibly struggling to keep ‘Samuel’s Sentiments’ going. — David Skilton
HE majority of our learned ecclesiastics tell us that we are growing less religious nowadays – I don't personally know about that; but, anyhow, it does seem to me that nearly all our religious festivals are, with the general body of the people, becoming less notable for spiritual meditation and solemn worship than for policking, rollicking, and sometimes rioting. But, following the bent of the world at large, and as a student of mankind, I have, sir, for these many Easters past, entered fully into the festivities of the people, and, as a result of my observations, I am bound to admit that, taking it for all in all, I don't much care about Easter as a holidaytide. It seemeth to me that it has all the Arctic stand-and-freeze qualities of Christmas, with none of the heartiness of hospitality of that bounteous yet bilious season. I do not make this assertion lightly, nor do I make it on the poor faith of insufficient observation; no, I have had much experience of Eastertide. I have been out yachting in the Bristol Channel on a wet day (oh, mackintoshes and umbrellas, that was ‘lovelly’); I have refreshed myself at inns (you are aware, sir. that I know all the ‘inns and outs’ of this district – especially the ins) whilst howling storms went raging without, and in the company, too, of grumbling fathers of families, very much sat-upon mothers (‘I told you, EIiza, that it was going to rain: but you are so obstinate you would come’) of the said families, and the families themselves.
. ‘Dost like the picture?’ I have drunk, and fathoms deep, too, to the death and destruction of the clerk of the weather. By my halidame, are not these experiences? And I have shivered on the promenade at Penarth till all the false teeth I was possessed of dropped out and literally strewed the beach; I have journeyed by a cheap excursion and have been left, along with a lot of fellow-unfortunates in the same excursion, in a melancholy siding for a few hours; I have travelled with men who have been taking too much sea-breeze – with sticky babies that conceived a violent affection for me – with persons about to marry, who conceived for obvious reasons that my presence was a bugbear – with men who wanted to fight; with men who played at cards, ultimately quarrelled amongst themselves and then bespattered the rest of the passengers with each other's ‘bleed;’ I have got into the wrong trip and been carried through several counties before the mistake was discovered. I have lost my ticket and been held by the guard to be an object of suspicion until the missing hit of pasteboard has ultimately been found in the lining of my hat, in my left boot, or in some unlikely place or another. I have had lots of Easter trips, i' faith. And I have stayed at home and rejoiced exceedingly that I had done so when eventide came.
Of course, sir, you know full well that I am anything if not discreet; you know full well that I would not deliberately eat (I use the word eat advisedly and in contra-distinction to another word) anything that was bad for me. Thus it is, sir, that the hot cross bun of the million is avoided by me as I should try to evade any other death-dealing instrument. Suicide and sudden death are amusements that have no charms for me – and thus it is I refuse to eat hot cross buns. Their upper surface may be never so cunningly polished (a mahogany sideboard at a furniture scarcely shines more brightly) with the white of eggs – may be never so ornately decorated with candied peel (Oh, that peel – the death peal to many a dyspeptic) still do I refuse to swallow the horrific agglomeration. Rather than a swallow candied peel, I would load my interior with scrap iron and bits of india rubber. It may be all very well for mothers whose families are too large to give such of their children as have been well insured ill some such office as ‘The Great Kidkiller Assurance Co.’ a dose of hot cross buns, but I do not at present wilfully seek my own destruction. As for the Easter eggs, sir, I could by no means wax egg static about them. I have seen them so hard boiled that, if you cut one of them in two with a lapidary's saw, you could, polish the surface of each cut portion as jewellers do ammonites, and make brooches of them. Easter eggs, indeed, why should a man attempt to eat a thing that a steam road roller couldn't crush? Hi hi, what price – indigestion? As for dyeing them of different colours, I should respectfully maintain that you couldn't dye them of as vivid green as are the persons who eat them.
The fact is, sir, that Easter is a fraud as a holiday season. It provides the sort of days – a special and a beauteous feature of this, our pleasing climate – when if you leave your overcoat at home you are the most ‘starved’ or be-draggled object all the rest of the same day, and, if you take it with you you are so be-sweltered that you imagine that you are a furnace man on a small steamer in the tropics or a malefactor who has been condemned to a life-long Turkish bath.
Sometimes one given day promises all these interesting features in its one glorious space, and at 10 a.m. you lard the lean earth as you walk; 11 a.m. you smart under the fusillade of a hail-storm; at 12 a.m. you shiver so that your knees knock together like a pair of clappers; at 1 p.m. you are wet to the skin, and are betting ‘odds on’ rheumatic fever with friend of yours in the tombstone line – and so you go on throughout the remainder of the day. And, oh, for the merry working man, sir – how he does enjoy himself! Wages, Thursday evening; the cheerful flutter and living at the rate of about a million a minute Friday; less exuberant mirth and symptoms of collapse in the treasury department, Saturday – this day to terminate with the great and universal spectacle, ‘The wooing of Bacchus’; dejection and but scantily appeased thirst, Sunday; morbid inclinations, a longing for some-one else's tobacco-pouch and for a friend who has had a fortune left, Monday; and, on the self same day, when neither the pouch nor the friend enter an appearance, violent communistic expressions of belief, such as ‘who are these people who stalk about in fine raiment and actually throw down half-crowns and demand the change?’ And query, ‘where's the rent to come from?’ Then comes Tuesday; sometimes the bread-winner goes back to his business; sometimes he doesn't – he goes instead to the business of the Knight of the Three Balls. Nice thing for the working man, isn't it? Consequent reflection on the part of Samuel – we have too many holidays, and they last too long when we have 'em – especially Easter.
[Samuel is dejected this week, and his rambling remarks must not be taken too literally. His knowledge of the working man is as deficient as his tone is deprecatory.—Ed.]
Last modified 1 February 2022