Tuesday 22 May 2012

May 23, 1876

“The keeper of toll gate, No. 1 Hamilton and Ancaster Road wishes that part of the public who drive on the said road (and particularly those driving that way on Sundays) to understand that it is not part of his duty to demand or call after them to pay their toll.”
Hamilton Spectator               May 23, 1876
A warning from the gate keeper for those wishing to use the toll road from Hamilton Ancaster, but not wishing to pay the required toll, appeared in the Spectator of May 23, 1876:
“The toll gate being a legally authorized institution, it is the duty of persons travelling the road to stop at the gate and pay for the use of thereof. A little attention to this perhaps will save trouble to some, who appear to think that unless toll is demanded of them, they need not take the trouble to pay. This is a mistake, as those parties may find to their cost.”

Three brief items helped set up Spectator readers for the upcoming holiday:
-      Tomorrow is the Queen’s Birthday.
-      Horse racing in Dundas tomorrow.
-      Three pleasure steamers ply between this point and the Beach tomorrow.

Young boys in both Hamilton and Dundas came up with two inventive ways to make a little money :
   “Little boys in Dundas make ten cents a trip to show strangers where the late Thomas Ireland fell into the Dundas Creek and was drowned.
“There is a very large number of youthful beggars in the city, who have already victimized several parties. They tell doleful tales of poverty and sickness, obtain money, and spend it in soda water and candy.”
       The appearance of one of the world’s most famous, and well-paid, actors in Hamilton prompted a thorough review of his performance in the lead role of Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
“An audience which was limited only by the capacity of the Mechanics’ Hall greeted Mr. Edwin Booth’s first appearance in Hamilton last night. Of the Hamlet with which he held the audience spellbound from first to last, it is needless for us to speak, it is a performance which long ago took its place in the dramatic world as one of the dramatic art; a world in which the genius of the author is blended with the genius of the actor and which fills the mind with a satisfying sense of its harmonious proportions and with the failure of its interpretation. He who has seen Booth’s Hamlet with appreciative sympathy has added to his mental endowments p has been placed in possession of a key to the subtle intellect of that most unique of all characters of fiction, which must give the study of them a new zest.
But one artist has appeared before a Hamilton audience who admits of any comparison with Mr. Booth, and that is Mr. Lawrence Barrett. Which of their Hamlets is entitled to the highest praise we should find it difficult to decide, if called upon to make the selection. There is indeed a strong resemblance between the two works, and it is more than probable that Mr. Barrett’s has been largely modelled upon an attentive study of Mr. Booth’s, but without any servile imitation. In power, Mr. Booth probably has some advantage over his younger rival, but in completeness of artistic finish, the latter is at least his equal.
Last night Mr. Booth was fairly supported by the company. Mr. Ward made an excellent Laertes and was called before the curtain. Mr. McVicker as the first grave digger was everything which the part called for. Miss Ellen Cummings made a very satisfactory Ophelia, and in some of the pathetic passages between her and Hamlet, Miss Jenny Garrol, as the Queen, showed excellent dramatic powers. It need scarcely be added that Mr. Booth has left behind in Hamilton an audience which will welcome him back at any time with cordiality and delight.
On the part of the audience, there was a slight tendency towards the fault which we felt called upon the criticise in the case of Mr. Sothern, a tendency to embarrassing applause; a prompt and emphatic “hush” however, from the judicious portion of the audience checked it. Applause well timed is no doubt inspiring to the actor, but when it drowns his voice with its boisterous infelicity, it serves but to discomfort him.”
          Finally, considerable space was afforded an interesting love affair involving a young man from Dundas and a bewitching female visitor from the United States:
       “Some months ago, there arrived at the picturesque village of Wellington Square a young American lady, whose advent produced a ripple upon the surface of society in that rural but highly-formed community. La Belle Americane was by profession a music teacher, and as she possessed all the dash and élan which takes so well in that circle of society which considers itself “good,” it soon became quite the “thing” for everybody who was anybody to send his children to Miss ---- for instruction in the most approved methods of torturing that much-abused and long suffering instrument, the piano, to the accompaniment of those frantic shrieks and agonizing howls which pass current as singing with --- we need not say whom. Having taken “the Square” by storm, the lady stranger marched on to fresh conquests. Dundas had a swell ball last winter, and as anybody who wears good clothes can always make an easy conquest of the Valley City, too, our heroine secured an invitation to this assembly, at which she broke the hearts of half puppydom and left Dundas belles so completely in the shade that some of them had serious notions for a time of becoming sensible. Amongst those who fell to her spear upon that occasion was one who belongs to that class known as “serious young men,” and who had abandoned worldly pursuits for the more congenial calling of pushing Bibles – but hardly without money and without price. His heart caught fire from the ardent glances of the dashing piano pounder, and he soon became a welcome visitor at her ranch, and together they pad many visits to the secluded spots in which the neighbourhood of “the Square” abounds. During one of these delightful interludes, when love’s young dream was causing the stricken swain to make a greater ass of himself than usual, the buzzing of their commingled voices kept time to the murmured monotone of Lake Ontario’s ebb and flow, the music teacher’s servant rushed upon the scene with a letter in which a base and sordid creditor demanded immediate payment of a bill for $100, failing which heartless bailiffs would be put in possession of the gentle happy home. Need the agony of this scene be prolonged? You bet not! How the lady tried to hide her great grief, how she broke down, how, between tears and blushes, the sad story of the dirty dun – that’s what we care-hardened men call it – was elicited bit by bit, and how the gallant bush ranger from Coote’s Paradise arose and grasping the base fellow’s bill aforesaid, as Daniel Webster grappled with the national debt of the United States, exclaimed : “I’ll pay it myself.” These are incidents too sacred for the pen of a reporter. Time rolled on, its away time has when you owe anything. And one fine day, as time was rolling on, the scripture merchant was again in the presence of the dashing music teacher, and again there appeared upon the scene the inevitable servant with the despicable dun. The lady tried hard to hide the secret in her pocket, but those tie-backs always put the pocket out of range. The son of the valley again pried into her affairs, and learned for a second time that, owing to the backwardness of her pupils in coming forward with their tuition fees, combined with the tardiness of certain remittances from the executors of her father’s estate, she was temporarily embarrassed for $100. Sitting in that fascinating presence, the young man felt he could go Daniel Webster one better and pay the national debt twice. He tried all his pockets, looked in his hat with a suspicious eye as if that innocent tile were guilty of petty larceny, opened his empty pocket book as though he expected it to turn into a bank vault under his gaze, inclined to stand on his head and shake his clothes to see if some designing person had not been playing tricks upon him by concealing money there, and concluded the pantomime by going out and borrowing the hundred dollars and paying it over to the distressed damsel, who packed up her movables that night, and, like the poetic but dishonest Arab, silently stole away with those two hundred dollars! Her pupils had paid her in advance, the parties from whom she had purchased her furniture – including the tortured piano – removed their chattels, and the generous young Bible agent from Dundas, was left to mourn upon the sandy shore, his fevered feet in the water, and his heavy hand upon his broken – pocket.
          She was a “wider” or, at least, professed to be one, and when the philosophical Weller hears this plain, unvarnished tale, he will turn round in his grave and mutter : “Samivel, beware of widders.”
          Has man no rights that Woman – with a big W – is bound to respect? Are the finest feelings and noblest aspirations of the human heart to be trampled upon by No. 3 boots? It would seem so, but that $200 wasn’t ours.
          Dundas and Wellington Square society will find the vacancy hard to fill – as so will her landlord – but the vacuum in their ranks will be but a hole in the sky as compared with the unfathomable abyss – the bottomless gulf – the unbridgeable chasm – which yawns in that young man’s bank account.
          In the language of the novelists, we have done, and if any trusting maiden who peruses these few brief remarks is thereby taught not to trust the deluding smiles and honeyed words of the Tyrant Man – with a big m – we shall be more than repaid for the sleepless nights and dry days which we have spent in unearthing this social cancer and laying it here before a discriminating public, who love to go upon juries and find verdicts against men for breaches of promise.”

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