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.

The quality of the original is poor, and the illustrations are therefore less crisp than usual. — David Skilton

The old gentleman who is ‘all of a tremble lest there should be burglars in the house.’

E (that is, myself and you, sir) may start with the idea that fidgetty people as a rule are not alone fidgetty of themselves, but the cause of fidgets in others. Theirs seems a communicable sort of ailment, and one of them is quite capable of setting a whole company which has hitherto been in a jocose and festive mood, completely by the ears. Look at the people who always affect to know (‘they don't know why,’ they explain to you) that ‘something is going to happen – they feel that it is.’ These are the disagreeable people who indulge in ‘intuitive ideas’ and ‘forcible presentiments;’ they feel that there is something in the air, that they ‘can’t explain. you know.’ Of course they will be glad to know that nothing has not happened, [sic] but then – they are seldom mistaken, and they hope that your wife will come back safely from her railway journey. And they look so solemn and mysterious, do these morbid humbugs, that they actually affect one’s spirits whether one wills it or not. If you are facetiously inclined and venture to bear out their opinion that something will happen; that, in fact, the sun will probably rise on the following morning, they shake their heads gravely and regard you in a half-reproachful, half-pitying sort of way. Their own lives must indeed be a burden to them, if they honestly believe that something untoward is really about to occur.

The uncomfortable man who is always smelling imaginary fires.

Then, sir, have you not often met those highly strung people who, when you are feeling a bit nervous yourself, are perpetually swinging, pendulum fashion, the leg which is crossed over the other as they sit and converse with you? I have – and if I had had my will I'd have attached a fifty-two pounder to the perpetual motion leg, as I call it. The more exciting the conversation, the quicker goes the leg, and I daresay that if you said anything insulting to the owner the leg might swing out pretty near you; at least, I have known such cases. This species of fidgetty being is almost as bad as the man who is perpetually changing his seat. As to this latter being, he will first throw himself down into the arm-chair; then he will try the rocking chair; then he will bounce out to show you something and take a hard strait-backed chair, and after that he will try the sofa. Such men ought to be fastened down. I shouldn't, by the way, think that they can be very ‘soIid’ men.

The man who wouldn’t cross a field with a cow in it for all the world.

It may seem something of a paradox, sir, but I have frequently met men whose very stolidity had something of fidgetiness in it – men who surveyed one with a glassy and unmeaning stare (a stare unpalliated by any mobility of feature or verbal symptom of approval or the reverse) the while you told them your choicest stories, plied them with your best poem, confided to them your best bon mots [sic], treated them to your best rounded periods, till at length the fidgetty feeling begotten of their stoniness has caused the words to die on your lips, has, in fact, completely ‘dried you up.’ Deliberate men are often the producing cause of fidgetiness on the part of those who earnestly watch them – and you scarcely can help, regarding them, if you be a man of any observation, for there is something positively serpent-like in the way in which their dreadful acts of deliberation fascinate your gaze. Such an act as filling a pipe of tobacco is with them an act seeming to require quite a succession of elaborate processes, and it is a positive torture to sit opposite to one of these individuals at dinner and to mark the aggravating deliberation with which he crumbles bread (about a crumb at a time) into his soup and goes through the various stages of his meal.

The disputatious man who gives one the fidgets.

I must not omit to mention the fidgetty people who seem to be eternally doing sums in mental arithmetic – whose lives move and seem to give forth no sound — for I meet them everywhere and every day. And there is the old lady so frequently met with in tramcars and omnibuses, too, who, seems to be in a perpetual fidget about her very numerous parcels, and is, every other moment or so, to be discovered telling them over with a very anxious visage. Possibly at the second counting she inadvertently leaves one out, and then it is highly amusing [i] to watch the spasm of pain which passes over her face. And there are every day fidgetty people who are eternally biting something — their finger nails, a darning needle, a match, the ends of their cravats — anything biteable, in fact. A code of manners, sir, ought to come into force whereby it should be decreed that it should not be considered a rudeness on the part of any given man or woman to point out to any other given man or woman (even though they were strangers) that the latter was fidgetting the former and rendering his or her life for the time being a miserable burden. Oh, what glorious rows there would be if such social law held vogue.

Last modified 15 February 2022