Monday, 14 October 2013


From childhood for centuries past, each generation has had it instituted into its youthful mind the story of Ananias and Sapphira being struck dead, “caught with a lie on their tongues.” What a snap it would be for the undertakers of the present day if instant death was meted out to every prevaricator. It would be a lonesome world, for there would be but few of us left to tell the story of what had become of the other fellows, especially after the assessor had made his annual visit to discover how good Hamiltonians  had stored away their wealth to dodge the tax collector. When Teddy Roosevelt had the job of president of the neighboring republic, he found occasion to organize an Ananias club, and it is wonderful how its membership increased, especially in the last presidential election. A Detroit Methodist preacher has come to the rescue, and henceforth that old Ananias story will have to go in the wastebasket. The preacher has evidently been reading his Bible to some purpose, for he has discovered another character different altogether from the lying old Ananias, the titular saint of Teddy’s club. The preacher, in his Sunday sermon recently, goes into the thing scientifically, and tells us that interest in the Ananias club has been greatly revived in the last three or four years. There has been evidence along the same lines even in this city of churches, my ancient Hamiltonian. The Detroit preacher has turned the limelight on the Book of Acts and proves to us that there were two ancients of the name of Ananias, one a rascal that gets headlines and special write-ups in this Great Family Journal, while the other was a saint living in Damascus, who led the great apostle Paul into the comprehension of spiritual values. The Damascus saint of the strong, fine, useful life is forgotten by most, and never finds his way into the newspaper columns at all. This is an unhealthy condition. Men get so used to looking for faults that they over look the virtues. Life is all evil to them. The life and character of that old rascal, the Ananias of Jerusalem, seems to have clouded the purer and brighter life of the Ananias of Damascus. Now the only object this Muser has in calling attention to the discovery of the Detroit preacher is that our readers will hunt through the Book of Acts and get at the true story of the Damascus Ananias.

          “There are too many jacks of all trades and masters of none,” said a preacher in a recent sermon. That is as true in Hamilton today as it is in any part of this old world. Every man should have something to do, and should do that something well. There is no more important question for a boy to settle at that start than what is to be his future in the line of earning his daily bread. The majority of boys rarely give a thought as to what is to become of them when school days are over. Parents make every sacrifice to give their children an education to fit them for future life, but unfortunately but few parents ever give a thought to the trade their boys should learn, or the training their daughters should have to fit them to earn a living or become the head of a family. With many young people, the question remains unsettled till it is too late to begin the learning of a trade, and the result is the great army of young men who are drifting about, like Micawber, waiting for something to turn up. In boyhood there is no responsibility resting upon them even to earning the money they spend for pleasure, for indulgent mother will make any sacrifice rather than that her boy not should be able to hold up his end when there is money to be provided. This old Muser feels an interest in boys, and for that reason we keep harping on that old-time subject; “Learn a trade!” The board of education has provided a way for every boy in the city to lay a foundation for becoming a skilled workman, and it can be done while the boy is yet a pupil in the public school, or a beginner in some of the four hundred workshops in this great industrial centre. For three nights each week during the school term, the Technical School is open to any boy or girl who is willing to hit himself, or herself, to become skilled and independent workers by the time school days are over. The demand of the present day for educated brains in the workshops has been well said. It is up to the boys of today to get the very best possible preparation for life. They cannot always depend upon father and mother for food and clothing, for the time will come when parents are old and are not able to do these things for their children. Skilled brains are what count in Hamilton’s four hundred workshops, and the boys who takes advantage of the training to be had in the Technical School is faraway ahead of the boy who spends his evenings on the street corners, in the pool rooms or gymnasiums that even churches are fitting up to teach boys the manly art of self-defense.
          It is a hopeful sign that our boards of education have come to the point where the foundations of a trade are looked upon as part of the practical education of every boy. Hamilton has reason to be proud of its Technical school, but more is the pity, parents and children fail to appreciate the advantages afforded by it, and where there should be hundreds of boys in the technical school room, you can find them out on the street corners learning to be the future loafers of our city and not the skilled workmen every master mechanic is calling to fill some responsible place. Hamilton has earnest teachers in the technical school, who feel the responsibility and importance of training boys for future lives of usefulness. It is up to the parents to see that their boys take advantage of the course of study provided for them by the generosity of the taxpayers and the thoughtfulness of the board of education. The more boys that are educated and prepared for the workshop, the fewer in number will be the criminals that are educated on the street corners and in the pool rooms. Half a century ago, nearly every boy expected to learn some trade or profession when he arrived at the age of fifteen or eighteen years of age, nowadays it is different. It is not always easy for the boy to make a choice, but he will certainly not make any mistake by taking a course of thorough training in Hamilton’s splendidly equipped technical school. Don’t be a jack of all trades.


          A young man begins life with a determination to lay a certain sum aside each year during his earnings so that when age comes upon him, and his wife who has economized with him all those years to add to the future income, the house of refuge will not stare them in the face. Husband and wife know what every dollar of them cost them in the way of self-denial and close economy. Not being a speculator and timid about risking his savings, he invests in bank stocks or in a mortgage on real estate, faithfully applying the dividends or interest toward increasing the principal. It is a slow process to save the first thousand dollars, but there is always the pleasure of knowing that, by and by, comfort wi8ll be insured when age comes, and the earning days are over. Now and then in this busy world, there stands out a few men who by speculation amass great fortunes, but it is only the very thrifty ones who save small amounts weekly, monthly, yearly, till the time comes when the manger of the workshop, in which he may have labored many years, tells him that he will have to make way for a younger man, and he goes out never to take up his work again. It is then that the few thousands he may have saved bring him comfort and solace, for he feels independent as to the few remaining years allotted to him and his good wife. While he was at work, there was a certain portion of his savings exempt from taxation, but now that his earning days are over, the tax collector swoops down on his little savings in the bank stock and demands that he pay to the municipality twenty mills or more on the amount of dividends he may receive from his savings. The provident and careful are punished, while the spendthrift and neglectful escape. During all the years the provident and careful man has been saving for the rainy day, the spendthrift has been blowing his earnings in extravagant living, playing the ponies, improving his muscle in the tenpin alleys, burning the midnight gas at the poker tables, or is filling himself with strong drink. The provident man has been supporting the municipal government during all his years by the payment of taxes on his home, while too often the spendthrift’s family have to be aided from the municipal charity fund.


          When Thomas White, Hamilton’s ancient organ builder died, he left as a legacy to his nephew, Morley Fager, a package of Branigan’s Chronicles, and a package of The Growler, two small papers published weekly in Hamilton in 1859. The old-timers will remember Terry Branigan, a member of the city council and afterward clerk of the market, the reputed editor of the Chronicles, when it was well-known that he could not write a paragraph. The Growler was the first of the two papers published. In due time, Branigan’s Chronicles was started, and between the two papers very few public characters were safe from vicious attacks. Withal there was something amusing in each issue, and the Growler and the Chronicles were profitable to the publishers. But in the vcourse of time, the papers got so personal that it was time for public opinion to call a halt and they were suppressed. Here is an amusing item the old-timers entitled, “A Local Soliloquy;”  (Edotor’s Note – this is an extended fantasy using the surnames of prominent Hamiltonians of 1859 throughout, capitalized – difficult to read but it would have humorously resonated with the readers at that time) “I am a Freeman and stand upon a Proudfoot, ready still to tread o’er Craigie rocks. Sometimes I walk ‘neath Bridges to the water’s edge, where, in the distance, on the bank of the silvery stream, the Martins build their nests, and further on stand the money-making Mills. Oft I have wandered in sunny days in company with an old uncle Tomson – in moneymaking times, old father used to say to me, ‘Make on, I’ve caught an urchin climbing o’er my fence, who shouted out let me heg-go.’ Yea, and the time was when my friends accompanied by our musical Reed, we’ve wandered to the Dundas swamp, and on its broken banks stood like Adam’s sons sounding our music and debating upon the wonders of decayed nature, when. lo, a voice is heard – we start, and leave behind the tremulous frog Spohn. Still we’ve proceeded when, lo, another voice – we listen – it is crying ‘Hold On.’ We look and behold a man, striving with an ass. We approach and hear him praying for a Sadler. What upon the ass’ back ? – a fish? – nought but a Burt-on. Yea, and forth comes a gust of wind, proclaimed by all a Spring-er. O’Hat is the next exclamation – my hat is gone, chased and found. We reach and enter a lovely cottage, whose inmates are devoring Ham-brose. We light our pipes, proceed and reach the monstrous Cahill, whose verdant covering recollection loves to bring to view. Yea, there upon its dangerous summit have I learned many of my useful lessons, yes, there oft have I wished myself a member of the Barr, and there I first resolved to neither joke nor Crack-more, for that oft brought me sorrow. I have read and thought of the race of Stewarts and the War-dells of bonnie Scotland with uncle Robertson. I’ve walked to Jarvis – O lovely village of two doctors and two taverns – pity that thou wert founded to so disgrace the country. O’Really! I fear I dream, or else too Mickle-ken. I’ve often thought that any man Mayken-n, if he only strives to learn it. Have I not seen Logie strive to make Lemon come to fortune. Yea, these were my palmy days, in which the Macs and the Denaids had the brightest share. The noise of the bells in my ears goes dingle, dingle, and my children around go Pringle, Pringle, Pringle and so for the present, I must have Dunn, and leave all the dears to revel in the Park.”

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