Short, short past time briefs

COMPULSORY SCHOOLING. There are five thousand children running around the streets of Montreal who never enter a school. It is now proposed that compulsory education shall be enforced in the great centre of mercantile life, and certainly the principle is necessary. These children are to be our future leaders, and they ought to know something. Toronto Mail, November 14, 1891.

TALK, TALK, TALK. The Ottawa Journal, October 23, 1899, notes the political penchant for prolixity. “Sir Charles Tupper’s speech the other day contained about 25,000 words. Mr. Foster’s three-hour effort held about 17,000, or about as many as the gospel of St. John, which revolutionized the world. It will be observed that some of our political leaders talk many dozens of times as much matter every year as there is not merely in St. John, but in the whole New Testament, yet don’t revolutionize anything.

FAST DANGEROUS TRAINS. Trains race through Toronto at speeds up to 30 or 40 miles per hour “to the imminent peril of life and limb,” complains The Growler, August 12, 1864. If a cabman or a farmer be caught driving at a dangerous pace through our streets, he is instantly and properly taken up, and punished by the Police Magistrate; but, strange to say, we have [railway] engines driving along the esplanade, sometimes at the rate of 30 or 40 miles an hour, and not one sentence do we hear about it. Now, from morning to night, the esplanade is used as a busy and common thoroughfare, and it is not right that trains should be driven along at such a rate, to the imminent peril of life and limb.

BAN THE LOVING CUP. The Peterborough Review, July 23, 1910, applauds the state of Minnesota in its efforts to curb the use of “the old tin cup, the gourd and the cracked water glass” at “free drinking places.” A notice that the state intends to post at public wells and fountains reads: “Warning. Dangerous diseases, such as diphtheria, tuberculosis, etc., are frequently communicated by the use of the public drinking cup. Provide yourself with an individual drinking cup and thus avoid the possibilities of contamination.”

IN PRAISE OF WASHERWOMEN

Lillie Langtry (nee Emile Charlotte Breton, 1853-1929) was considered one of the stunning beauties of her time. An actress, she attracted the attention of Britain’s King Edward VII and became his mistress. But on a visit to Toronto, she failed to impress the editor of The Week magazine, who professed a greater attraction to hard-working washerwomen. From The Week, April 12, 1895.

Mrs. Langtry’s portrait as plastered around the city on walls and boards seems to be an admirable presentation of the characteristics of that much talked of woman. But I have seen many washerwomen whose faces were far pleasanter to the discerning eye. Why don’t we plaster drawings of these on our vacant spaces? I stand up for the good old, hard-working washerwoman.

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