Tuesday, 23 April 2013

1885 - The Town Tramp #1

When’er I Take My Walk abroad
   How many things I see (and hear)”
-      After I. Watts

So began an article in the Hamilton Spectator of July 3, 1885 under the headline “The Town Tramp.
An unnamed reporter had been given permission to anonymously put together a long article of observations garnered during a stroll about Hamilton as the summer month of July 1885 arrived.
The full article follows:
“ ‘Tramps has feelins,’ as one of the lower orders of the fraternity remarked when asked to eat cold meat, and I wish to add that some of them have aspirations too. From the nature of their occupation they have abundant opportunity for seeing things as they are, and not as the unsuspecting general public believes them to be; and from out of the kindness of his generous heart, the editor has promised to allot The Town Tramp some ‘valuable space’ about once a week, more or less, in which to give vent to his feelings, set forth his aspirations and record his observations for the benefit of – well, the dear public.
The editor has often remarked in the portion of this journal devoted to his especial use, that some people in this city appear to be seized with a feverish desire to cut down a shade tree so soon as they see it putting forth its leaves. And the editor very properly condemns such people. They are ill-balanced; imperfect; monomaniacs; and ought to be pitied. How can a man with any sense of beauty look north on Park street from Merrick street, at this season of the year, and not rejoice in the noble lines of shade trees which meet his gaze. It is in this delightful July season that nature asserts itself in this vigorous strength of the new year’s life. The heat of the summer has not yet dried up the life-giving sap, and changed the restful green of the trees and fields into a withered yellow; and Hamilton’s streets and avenues, some of which are bordered by maples and chestnuts and others of the best species of shade trees, are really beautiful. Looking down upon the city from the mountain top, the eyes rests upon a mass of verdure, broken here and there by a glittering chimney top, or perhaps a house gable, peeping through the topmost branches of the swaying trees. Victoria avenue south is a most attractive promenade on a summer evening, when the rays of the setting sun tint the leaves of the noble trees lining the roadway in the golden sun. Soon the last ray of sunlight is gone, and in the dusky evening, lovers walk the avenue, happy and content, listening to the soft rustle of the leaves and the twittering of the birds overhead.

What is my neighbor’s is mine, in a sense, and it delights The Town Tramp to know that some of the rich men of this city have made good use of their wealth in beautifying their houses and grounds for his benefit. The Tramp is not at all partial. He thanks them all for their efforts on his behalf. As an example of what can be done by the exercise of ingenuity and good taste with what perhaps might be called a small plot of ground, he likes the residence and grounds of Mr. Winer on Main street east. Often he has been made glad on a hot summer day in watching a tiny sparrow bathing, with an immense amount of fuss, in the pretty fountain there. No terraced wall or studded fence obstructs the view; what wealth obtains for one is shared with others too.

The Town Tramp, having a fellow-feeling for the letter carriers, was pained to learn of their sad defeat in their baseball match with the post office clerks the other day. But when the carriers put on the field a one-armed man and two cripples, what can they expect? Nevertheless the gentleman with one arm was a first-class pitcher. But the clerks had the best pitcher, and the inflammatory rheumatism on their side. For this is what ailed the cripples.
Which leads The Town Tramp to observe with sadness that the life of a letter carrier is one of great hardship, full of struggles, with bad weather and the diseases exposure is sure to engender. So, if you don’t get a letter from your lover on a stormy day, don’t blame the carrier.

The Town tramp had a talk with a prohibitionist the other day. He prophesied that within five years a general prohibition act would be passed in Canada. He is a preacher and declared that the clergyman who is not found upon the side of prohibition in this day makes a great mistake, and is liable to lose his influence, if not his position. The Tramp remarked that, according to the teachings of his very early youth, the chief end of preachers was to secure the conversion of men and women to Christianity, and if they attended strictly to business, they would possibly accomplish the purpose whereunto they were sent more effectually than by stumping for prohibition.

This is the picnic time. Behold not now the day of the seductive lemon pie and exhilarating lemonade. For the benefit of his friends who go to picnics, The Tramp offers the following advice, borrowed from an eminent American authority on the subject:
1.   Never take food to a picnic.
2.   Take plenty of wholesome drink and something to drink it from.
3.   Never go to a great distance.
4.   Never take very small children.
5.   Do not stay long.
6.   Have a hearty meal as soon as you get home.
This advice, generously bestowed, is the last offering of
          THE TOWN TRAMP.”

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