Fred. W Waithman.

Indolent impressions : sketches in light and shade online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryFred. W WaithmanIndolent impressions : sketches in light and shade → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Ex Libris



Digby's Popular Novel Series

Crown Zvo, handsome cloth, price v.s. 6d. per Voi

Each Book contains 320 //., and is printed

on superior paper from new type.

Girl in a Thousand.' &c. [Third Edition

Author of ' The Other Bond,' ' Footprints in
the Snow,' &c. [Third Edition.


ARABELLA KEN EALY. Author of ' Some
Men are such Gentlemen,' &c.

[Sixth Edition viith Portrait.

Author of ' Her Loving Slave,' ' Bail Up,'
&c. With Illustrations by the Author.

[Fifth Edition.

** Other Works in same Series in due course.



Sfcetcbes in Xigbt ant) Sbafce






All Rights reserved









The Disadvantages of Respectability, 1

The Morning Kiss, 7

Having a Drink, 14

Domestic Nuisances, . ....... 20

Love, 29

Memory, .......... 36

Amateur Tipsters, 43

Shabby Gentility, 51

The Drama of Legs, 60

Domestic Music, 70

Pictorial Advertisements, ....... 77

Breach of Promise, ........ 86

Forgetfulness, 95

Holidays and Holiday-Makers 102

Inadequate Salaries, .111

Going on to the Stage, 119

Backing Horses, 127

Wasted Time, 135

Married Life, 141

Picture Galleries, '. . .146

Fads and Faddists, 156

The Weather, . 166

People Who want to know, . . . . . . .175

Pantomimes, 185

Sympathy, 194

Dreams, 198

Sleep ? An Allegory, . . . . . . ~ . ? . 204


THERE are few people in this world, out-
side the criminal classes, but have at some
period of their lives felt a desire to enter
that portion of society at large labelled
" respectable." But many having got there
after a hard struggle, have not unfrequently
wished themselves well out of the thraldom
imposed upon the not too wealthy members
of the respectable portion of the great
middle-class community of the British Isles.
Respectability on a limited income is
indeed a hard and trying thing to keep up,
and many a man has found himself com-
pelled to submit to the degradation of a
private arrangement with his creditors from
no other cause than the difficulty of main-
taining a respectable appearance on an


2 The Disadvantages of Respectability.

income totally inadequate to the require-
ments of a middle-class respectability.

Take the case of a young married man
holding a position as clerk in a mercantile
establishment of standing and repute. He
is expected to be respectable in appearance,
to turn up in the regulation costume of re-
spectability, and to reside in a respectable
quarter of the town or district in which he
is employed. All this is necessary to give him
any chance of advancement in his business ;
for if he once show signs of seediness or
necessity, he is sure to be sneered at by his
fellow-clerks, and passed over by his superiors.

Therefore, the semblance of respectability
means to him the keeping of his position
and the possibility of advancement. Away
from his employment he is still haunted by
the bugbear of respectability. His wife
and children, if he have any must be
respectably dressed at all seasons and times,
and his house must present a respectable
appearance outside and in.

The Disadvantages of Respectability. 3

The very appearance in question will, as
likely as not, determine the attention or
inattention he will receive at the hands of
his medical attendant, and will also help to
reassure any creditor who, having to wait
for his money owing to illness, may call to
inquire about his "small account." And all
this has generally to be done on a salary
totally inadequate to the demands of re-
spectability. What is the result?

The discovery that respectability has the
most distinct and unpleasant disadvantages
if it be not fully backed up by an adequate
supply of that necessary evil money. Re-
spectability on a limited income means con-
stant anxiety and constant self-denial. It
means worry and inconvenience, and if many
a worn-out wife and wearied husband were
truthfully to state the cause of their
troubles, they would unhesitatingly answer
" respectability."

Respectability too frequently means pinch-
ing to make ends meet, contriving and ar-

4 The Disadvantages of Respectability.

ranging to convince the world that you
are not hard-up, and a constant state of
false appearances before the light of re-
spectability's criticisms, which is, alas, too
often paid for when the light is off by a
hand-to-mouth existence of a far from
pleasant nature.

Not only is the small salaried clerk
made to feel keenly the disadvantages of
respectability, but others in better social
positions know as well as he does what a
thorny path the high road of respectability
may be. Take the vicar with a moderate
stipend, a family, and constant calls on his
purse from the varied channels of a poor
and crowded parish. He is expected to
maintain a good social position, to keep
his wife and children well-dressed, and to
give the latter an education befitting their
social standing and respectability. He is
frequently compelled to pay a curate, and
has to help his parish poor, and visit
with and receive the best society in the

The Disadvantages of Respectability. 5

district of which he has spiritual charge.
No one knows better than this man what
are the disadvantages of respectability, for
he not only has them painfully and practi-
cally demonstrated by his own daily life,
but he comes into constant contact with
them in his daily round of parish duties.

Much more does his curate, with a
smaller stipend than the vicar, feel the
calls and responsibilities of respectability,
which cripple his desire to help his poorer
fellows, and compel him, too often, to think
seriously of how he is to make ends meet,
without losing caste in the social circle
in which he is compelled to move.

Children brought up respectably, and having
all done for them that is considered requisite
in the matter of education, have no idea
of the hours of anxious thought their very
respectability has cost their parents, but
many a fond father and loving mother
could testify to the straits they have at
times been put to, for the purpose of en-

6 The Disadvantages of Respectability.

abling them to bring their children up in
due accordance with the unwritten but un-
deviating laws of respectability.

The atmosphere of respectability brings
in its train tastes and habits which add
considerably to the difficulties of such people
as are compelled to keep up the semblance
of it under the greatest disadvantages, and
there can be no doubt that the working-
man is, from many points of view, in a
happier condition than is the representative
of typical respectability.

For the "clodhopper" appearances have
no terrors. He eats, drinks, works and
sleeps, and provided he can get enough
of this world's goods to keep him out of
the workhouse, he is fairly well satisfied.
He has no fear of the opinion of respect-
ability, and if he be not possessed of any
of the advantages of that state of life, he
is at least not troubled with its disadvan-
tages, and he goes on the even tenor of his
way with a light pocket and a light heart.


THE morning kiss is not merely the meeting
of two mouths. It is the sign manual of
a lasting love. To its absence has, ere this,
been traced the beginning of a jealousy
which ended in two wrecked lives. The
kiss apart from the commodity supplied
in schools and families has long been
looked upon as the seal which ratifies the
vows of love ; and, as everybody knows, it
is the usual thing, on the occasion of a
maiden giving her heart and hand to a
successful wooer, for them to embrace and
clinch their amatory bargain with a kiss.
From this period the kiss becomes a recog-
nised institution, and the lovers would no
more dream of meeting or parting without
kissing than they would dream of discussing

8 The Morning Kiss.

the proceedings of the divorce court prior
to the consummation of their marriage.

But it is after that ceremony has been
completed, and they have set out upon their
double-harnessed journey, that the import-
ance of the morning kiss begins to assert

The newly-made bride looks for her morn-
ing kiss with the same regularity that she
looks for the weekly supply of filthy lucre
wherewith she keeps the wheels of the
domestic machinery in working order. And
for a time she has no cause to complain as
to the receipt of it.

But in course of time the husband, with
no direct intention of offence, does not supply
it as regularly as of yore, and it is relegated
to the same oblivion as are many other
small attentions that were wont to sweeten
the halcyon days of courtship.

It is the old tale of familiarity, and with-
out knowing it, he is slowly but surely
sowing the seeds of mistrust and misery.

The Morning Kiss. 9

Women are quick to notice the small
things of life, and when they come so near
home as to touch their own pride, they
soon make mountains out of what other
people would consider but mole-hills.

When the husband, with his head full of
business cares, evinces a desire to leave
home as early as possible in the morning
without the usual kiss or, on coming
home at night tired out, puts on his slippers
and, seeking solace in his pipe, sits silently
thinking out some commercial problem, his
wife imagines she is being neglected, and
without going straight to the point and
stating her grievance, falls back upon that
form of feminine consolation known as

She does not answer her husband's ques-
tions in the old way, and when asked if
she is not well, replies with a negative
that carries with it all the appearances of
an affirmative. Her husband not unnatur-
ally concludes that she is out of temper

io The Morning Kiss.

about something, and failing to elicit any
tangible cause for the effect, as likely as
not goes off to his club to get out of the
way of a brewing storm, and to ruminate
over the inconsistencies of womankind and
the difference between married life and love-
making. The wife meanwhile nurses her
secret sorrow, and they gradually drift into
a pair of common-place disciples of Hymen,
who, while not breaking out into open re-
bellion, feel that they are not so well suited
to each other as they once imagined they

And all for the mere omission of the
morning kiss.

The process of drifting is an easy but
dangerous one, and once commenced is
difficult to conquer, and it is usually from
causes as slight as these that it is indulged
in by men and women who, finding them-
selves apathetic to what they once adored,
seek in fresh fields and pastures new to find
a pleasant antidote for their domestic banes.

The Morning Kiss. 1 1

All men and women are not endowed
with the same natures, and the absence of
the morning kiss and similar attentions
often produces in a woman's heart a yearn-
ing for the love she imagines she has not
possessed. It is to women of this class
that neglect in the matter of affection is
so dangerous. They must be loved or
imagine that they are and the first sign
of a slumbering passion is the keynote
for the uprising of their souls. Love and
adoration they must and will have, and
if they find it not within the precincts of
their own castles, they promptly, and with
no thought of consequences, seek for it
elsewhere. They would tell you, and be-
lieve it to be true, that they drifted into
their fatal error ; but those of the world
who know their kind, know also that, given
what they desire, they do not count its
cost or the penalty their action carries
with it. They yearn to let their stifled
passions have full play, and if at the end

1 2 The Morning Kiss.

of a brief Elysium they find the shadow
of unfaithfulness, they still hug to their
hearts the thought they have at least been
loved and have lived, if only to fall from
the heights of Olympus to the depths of

Nor are women the only sinners in this
direction, for men are equally sensitive, and
many a man, who thought himself neglected
by his wife, has found in another's charms
some consolation for his wounded vanity.

Divorce court records but tell the bare
facts so far as they concern the law ; they
seldom, if ever, trace the history of the
family skeleton to its true source. As the
spring runs on until it merges into the
river, so do the trivialities of life provide
the mainspring which sets up the rift within
the lute, and that frequently from no
greater cause than the missing of the morn-
ing kiss.

The moral is obvious.

Men more than women should remember

The Morning Kiss. 1 3

that courtesy costs nothing, and that if the
thoughtfulness and attention of their en-
gagement days were but carried into their
wedded life, they would have little to fear
from the demons of jealousy or apathy.
If this were carried out to the full, there
would be more happy homes than there
are, and thousands of women would worship
their husbands who now drag out a hope-
less existence instead of trying honestly to
do their duty in the sphere of life to
which it has pleased God to call them.


THE convivial operation known as "having
a drink " is one of the most popular customs
of this, our Island of England, and if it
were only carried out in a reasonable and
rational manner it would be one of the
pleasantest. But it is not; as many a man
can testify to his sorrow, especially when
he wakes up "next morning" with a
parched throat and a head three sizes too
large for his hat.

It is when this feeling comes over him
that the average man begins to moralise,
and it is strange how confoundedly moral
he generally is "next morning." When
he comes to reflect how many drinks he
consumed during the progress of the day
before, he usually arrives at the conclusion

that the game is not worth the candle,


Having a Drink. 1 5

and that from thence he will, to use a
vulgarism, " chuck it up " and reform.
And he means it, but the flesh is weak
and the spirits of the night before were
strong, and as strength invariably over-
comes weakness, he decides to "treat
resolution" with "just one" to pull him-
self together prior to commencing his walk
along the trying path of temperance or
teetotalism. But the primrose path of
dalliance is a tempting thoroughfare, and
has ere this lured men on when they knew
in their heart of hearts that they ought to
stick to the road of resolution. He has
one drink and tackles it with a firmness of
resolution and an unfirmness of hand that
look on the face of it a fair sign that he
means to depart from the ways of the night
before and give it a miss for the future.

But at this particular moment a friend
turns up and he feels bound, as a matter
of common courtesy, to ask him to "have
one," which he promptly does, accompany-

1 6 Having a Drink.

ing the action by an endorsement of his
friend's ideas as to the folly of extensive
imbibing of alcoholic refreshment. Well,
so far, so good, but the second friend feels
that he cannot accept a drink without ask-
ing his chum to have another in return, so,
with emphatic remarks as to this being the
last one, they imbibe once more. They are
in no particular hurry, and do not feel
particularly inclined to face the cares and
anxieties of business so early in the morn-
ing, and so they sit and chat about things
in general, and as often as not the
chances of certain gee-gees in particular.
While this is going on certain other birds-
of-a-feather have appeared upon the scene
and a commiseration committee is promptly
formed by the suffering ones. This is the
beginning of the end, and the two resolute
reformers are gradually lured back to
the old paths they trod the day before.
Resolution is routed by companionship, and
conversational conviviality reigns supreme.

Having a Drink. 1 7

That any sensible man goes out in the
morning with the deliberate intention of
getting inebriated is, on the face of it,
absurd, but that men do regularly get
into that condition without intention is a
patent fact. With these it is, as I have
pointed out already, companionship and
sociability that brings about the undesired
result, and so long as men have brains and
education so long will they seek to vary the
monotony of business life by the relief afforded
by the enticing accompaniments of a refresher.

It is, perhaps, no exaggeration to say
that a large percentage of ordinary business
is done over a morning bitter and its
subsequent results, and this is a point that
must be a source of annoyance to the rabid
teetotaller, who will find it an absolute
impossibility to put down drinking so long
as commerce and alcohol are combined.

There is no one more intemperate than
your platform teetotaller, with his sweep-
ing assertions and his smug hypocrisy,


1 8 Having a Drink.

which do more harm to the cause he
wishes to urge than he can possibly
imagine. That drinking is frequently the
cause of misery and poverty I admit, but
it will never be put down by the rabid
railings of paid advocates. It has become
a custom, and if it is an evil it has to
some extent become a necessary one. The
ordinary drinker does little harm to any-
one but himself, and is entirely without
the pale of the agitator's condemnation.

The shady side of the drink question
is a deeper study, and cannot be treated
in the same way as the above examples,
which are types of every - day drinking
among average middle - class, commercial,
and private individuals. When it comes
to the case of the chronic drinker, who
does his imbibing on the quiet, it is
another matter. Drink, to him, is life
rapidly leading to death, it is true and he
could no more get on from day to day
without his constant "nips" than he could

Having a Drink. 1 9

fly. Many cases of this sort are hereditary,
but there are to be found, in the seamy
side of life, cases where men have been
driven to drink by circumstances over
which they had no control. Faithless
wives, false friends, and the millstone of
misfortune are all things calculated to
drive a man to drink, and if the Elysium it
provides be a fatal one, it is still to him,
pro tern., a respite from his sorrows, and
dulls the powers of a wracking brain whose
action brings back memories of the past,
and heaps up shadows that he dare not
face. There is no reformation for this class
of drinkers, and when they end their miser-
able lives by suicide or any other means, their
friends can only whisper a fervent "Amen," and
pray to God to guard them from a similar fate.
There is no harm in drinking, providing
it be done reasonably and rationally, and
it is only when the alchoholic demon
gets possession of men, body and soul, that
it becomes a blot upon our civilisation.


THERE are many kinds and orders of
domestic nuisances even excluding the
domestic tabby (responsible for breakages
and disappearances of an extraordinary
kind), and the punctual and frequently
unsatisfied collector of taxes. There is, for
instance, a certain type of the domestic
slavey who possesses an unique collection
of original ideas eminently unsuited to her
position in life. This kind of nuisance
seems to have a notion that she ought to
be allowed to solve, at her employer's ex-
pense, the problem of how to obtain the
maximum amount of wages for the minimum
amount of labour. She has also peculiar
ideas as to the meaning of a specified hour
(at which hour she has to relinquish her
young man and return to the domicile


Domestic Nuisances. 2 1

where she breaks pots and retails her woes
to her fellow slaveys), and fondly imagines
that 9 P.M. means 9.30, and 10 o'clock as
near 10.45 as she can with any degree of
safety make it.

But it is not of the nuisances of the
kitchen or basement that I desire to
speak. It is of the recreative or drawing-
room types that I wish to discourse. They
are the bete noir of people who are so placed
in life that they pass a certain portion of
their leisure time at "At Homes" and
domestic evening parties. Like many other
people in this vale of tears, they labour
under the fond delusion that they are, like
a certain well-known pen, "a boon and a
blessing to men " and women. But a
painful experience has proved they are in
error. They are the innocent cause of pain
and suffering in the bosoms of their friends
and enemies, who are occasionally driven to
do rash things in consequence of their

22 Domestic Nuisances.

Firstly, there is the amateur reciter, who
will recite pieces that have been hacked to
death by all sorts and conditions of elocu-
tionists. This nuisance appears to think
that people are not yet familiar with the
fact that a certain young party of historic
fame was blessed with the cognomen of
Norval, and that his respected sire fed sheep
upon the Grampian Hills. He also desires
to impress on the minds of the limited
public he appeals to, that one Horatius did
deeds of daring in keeping at bay the
Tuscan army " in the brave days of old."
Now, as all schoolboys and children of a
larger growth are as familiar with these
facts as he is, I cannot help thinking that
the reciting nuisance is, in addition to
inflicting pain upon innocent people, wast-
ing his time and energy by unnecessary
reiteration of fact or fiction. This nuisance
is a curious example of the fact that the
human anatomy is not at all times what it
should be. He invariably has trouble with

Domestic Nuisances. 23

his hands and arms. He gets them into
the most peculiar positions, and finally,
after imitating the action of windmill sails,
and indulging in other gesticulatory efforts
of an equally peculiar kind, he dives his
hands into his trousers pockets and lays the
flattering unction to his soul that he has
overcome the difficulty of being perfectly at
ease. Poor deluded mortal, if he only
knew how awkward he looks he would take
a few elementary lessons in gesticulation
and then cease reciting altogether. But he
is not constructed in that manner. He be-
lieves he has a mission to fulfil, and he
will proceed upon the uneven tenor of his
elocutionary way without regard to the con-
sequences either to himself or his hearers.

Then there is that terrible nuisance, the
amateur tenor, who delights to announce
vocally his admiration for a maiden rejoic-
ing in the name of Sally and residing in a
common or garden alley. I have long had
my doubts as to the accuracy of Miss

24 Domestic Nuisances.

Sarah's address, and have a notion that
the poet who sung her praises used an
alley for the purposes of rhyme only. Else,
why did he become so familiar and call the
lady Sally instead of Sarah. Might he not,
with more propriety, have written

Of all the girls that are so smart
There's none like pretty Sarah,

She is the darling of my heart,
And no maid could be fairer.

This would at least have been more polite,
and would also have been a sort of pallia-
tion for the liberty taken in publishing
the lady's private address. But poets have
no sense of the ordinary fitness of things.

But to return to the domestic tenor.
Whatever the failings of domestic tenors
may be, no one can deny that their vocal
aims and desires are identical. There is a
similarity about them which is appalling.
They delight to sit at the threshold of
their sweethearts' chambers and sigh. They
all want their lady-loves to "come into the
garden," and they are one and all wildly

Domestic Nuisances. 25

anxious to fall like soldiers (I wonder how
a soldier really does fall ?). Then again,
they all have a message to send to a
maiden, whom, strange to say, they all
"loved best." Now, however laudable these
aims and desires may be, one is apt to be-
come tired of hearing of them when they
are trotted out on every possible occasion.
Domestic tenors are of various qualities,
and the suffering inflicted by their efforts
varies largely in accordance with the
strength or weakness of their vocal powers.
No amateur tenor is ever happy until he

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryFred. W WaithmanIndolent impressions : sketches in light and shade → online text (page 1 of 9)