This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Timess 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 necessary paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.

Samuel’s irony in his article requires a little explanation. The advice ‘First catch your hare’ is usually attributed to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861). Samuel himself explains the word ‘masher’ in his column ‘On Slang’ on 4 May 1889 as ‘the sort of young man who fancies that he can overcome and overawe everybody by the potency of his attractions’. According to Hotton’s Slang Dictionary of 1865, ‘dining with Duke Humphrey’ is to go without dinner, ‘a phrase common in Elizabethan literature, said to be from the practice of the poor gentry, who beguiled the dinner hour by a promenade near the tomb of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in Old Saint Paul's’. The Shakespearean quotation ‘Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits’ is from Love’s Labours Lost I.i.26-7. Diner à la russe, or dinner in the Russian manner, was much spoken of but was in fact rare in Britain, since it required a footman behind each person at table. The Scottish locution ‘d’ye ken’ is Samuel’s way of alluding to the English myth of Scottish meanness with money. The word ‘brown’ in the caption to the first illustration means ‘knowing’ or ‘wideawake’. — David Skilton

N EARLY days, sir, I used to read, ‘First catch your hare and then eat it,’ and this is a wise and a trite proverb, sir. You may not have heard it, but if you haven't, please to rally up as well as possible under the shock the exposition of such a great truth must inflict upon you. In the same way, sir, I should say, ere beginning to show my fellow men how to live within their means, first get your means and then live on 'em. I address this remark to all those men who are always looking for work – and never mean to get any, if they can help it. Personally, sir, I have always lived in accordance with my means [of getting credit. – ED.], as you well know, and this is in spite of the fact that I am paid by everyone who employs me (yourself included) on a scale of lavishness almost phenomenal in this grasping age. Another proverb which I would quote for you, sir, is that ‘it is not the money we make but the money we save which makes us rich,’ and it is upon this text that I would expound to all you who would cough, or sneeze, or interrupt the lecturer by throwing ginger-beer bottles, please leave the building. You can have your money back at the door – if you can succeed in finding the man who took it; I believe that he had a train to catch about this time.

A party who is obliged to be economical.

Now the first canon of economy is, never spend anything if you can help it, and never treat yourself if you can find anyone ‘mug’ enough to treat you. Now, we'll suppose that you are a masher [an overdressed young man]; let me show you how to economise. You have a certain outward seeming to maintain; very good, coats, waistcoats, and trousers are cheap enough, and it is not an absolute necessity that you should wear any other garments. In relation to clothes, the best way is to pay for them in the first instance – if your father won't, but if a tailor is fool enough to give you credit, what fault is it of yours? Why go in for such wasteful extravagance as shirts, singlets, and socks? Does the South Sea Islander find a shirt necessary? Are not a pair of epaulettes a sufficient garment for him? Emphatically he does not find it necessary. Does the peaceful Esquimaux pamper himself by wearing a singlet? – again, no! Does the healthful and dignified Bedouin think that socks are a necessity, and that their absence derogates from his position amongst the tribes? He would be doing a foolish thing if he did! But how much better are you than these natives of other climes, you have other garments (garments which effectually conceal the articles of apparel I have mentioned) to render you attractive, and is it not a sinful waste to wear shirts, singlets, and collars? No one would know if you dispensed with them – unless you took off your coat when your host asked you to wash your hands. Who would notice a shirt (or rather its absence) when you had a gorgeous dickey [false shirt-front] and a collar of buckram-like stiffness about your chest and throat? The whole might be admirably fastened in front by means of a stud, of brilliant copper, and behind it might fitly be attached to your waistcoat by means of a safety-pin or a skewer. Your cuffs would fall off were they not fastened to something, you might argue: Quite so; but could you not train bits of band down from above the elbow and thus solve the difficulty?

‘ ‘‘Look here, old man, never dine at your own expense, when you can dine at anyone else’s.’

We wax superfluous in but too many things in this age. Haply you dine at a fashionable restaurant, and don't know what you are eating – and possibly the proprietor does not know either – and you pay a good price for your dinner, as times go. Well, take my advice, drop the restaurant and try a herring – a good fat bloater; a two-eyed steak [Atlantic herring], a real Irish steak, you know – at home two or three days a week. You may not find it quite so feeding and so satisfying as the restaurant repast, but it is every bit as wholesome and by no means as expensive. Besides, if you still feel that your ‘innards,’ as they are often called, have not been done justice to, you can easily and cheaply fill up the void by means of a penn'orth of polony. Of course, I quite admit that if you have a fancy for soup, a herring will not be quite sufficient, as herrings, I believe do not make good soup, even when the savoury onion and other vegetables are added. The great thing, mind you, is to live within your means, but if you really want to be luxurious and to live at the rate of about a million a minute – if you find that a man in your elevated sphere must absolutely have four courses at the least, let me recommend the following menu; it is not very expensive and it is eminently [em}recherché{/em]:— Dessicated soup (one penny), bloater (one penny), tripe with onions (three-half-pence), a tart, (one penny) – total four pence ha'p'ny, and a very excellent and wholesome meal, too. If you want dessert, what more need you do than buy a ha'p'ny orange or an apple – or a ha'p'orth of hokey-pokey [boiled sweet of sugar and golden syrup], which is at once toothsome, nourishing, and refreshing. Remember always that, as the poet has it, ‘Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.’ It is a most comforting doctrine to cherish is that –especially when a man has dined with the supposititio[u]s nobleman of high degree known as ‘Duke Humphrey,’ this being equivalent to not dining – at all. If you really want to dine more cheaply than I have indicated, call on a friend about dinner time, do a little bit of theatrical business indicative of indisposition, and say that you feel rather faint, could he oblige you with a biscuit and a glass of wine. This is called a la ruse, in contradistinction to dining a la Russe [with one servant per guest], d'ye ken? If you don't like this plan, try licking the steam off a cook shop window. Let the same rule guide you in the way of drinks. When you are asked to drink, and it comes to your turn to tender a similar compliment let it be at once understood that you have a most particular appointment – one which will admit of no postponement. You ought always to endeavour to discourage the abominable plan of asking people back, it is more provocative of excessive dramming than any other system. And let me countenance you always to order the most expensive drinks that you can – when someone else has to pay for them. Order a brandy and seltzer – it is good for trade. Of course if you should be compelled, as matter of self-interest, to ask a man to drink with you, take care always to order a modest glass of beer for yourself, for the same rules do not apply as when somebody else pays. In the matter of tobacco, I scarcely know what to say. Formerly my task would have been easy but since the advent of those abominable pouches with ‘You've had quite enough of mine’, ‘What, cadging again?’ and ‘Buy your own’ inscribed on them, a man cannot without a certain compromise of dignity even innocently ask an acquaintance for a pipe of tobacco. But if you choose the proper man – an individual who would disdain to carry such a pouch as that I have indicated, you are safe enough, and always take care to have a pipe with a good big bowl – a bowl that holds about half an ounce. It is quite surprising how cheaply a man can smoke if he only takes care – and everybody else's ‘bacca.’

An economical garment; nothing required but an Ulster and a pair of boots.

Remember that, in trying to live within your income, thrift is everything – never refuse anything. Whenever you are invited out to dinner or tea – go! and when you are on the job, show your friends that you know what it is to be there I show them that you appreciate the fare they have provided; for it is very bad manners to eat finickingly at a friend's house. If you are fond of theatrical amusements, mind and take care to be on terms of friendship, if possible, with someone connected with the stage, or ‘the front of the I house,’ who can give you orders, but mind you do not ask for too many orders lest he should give you one of a very pertinent nature – an order to go out, in fact.

Last modified 7 February 2022