The Project Gutenberg EBook of Struggles amd Triumphs: or, Forty Years'
Recollections of P.T. Barnum, by Phineas. T. Barnum

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Title: Struggles amd Triumphs: or, Forty Years' Recollections of P.T. Barnum

Author: Phineas. T. Barnum

Release Date: October 2, 2015 [EBook #50115]

Language: English

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A U T H O R’S   E D I T I O N.


“——a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns.”



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Entered also at Stationer’s Hall, London, England.








To the Public:—Although the large octavo edition of Struggles and Triumphs, upon fine paper, has enjoyed an unprecedented large sale at $3.50 and upwards, according to styles of binding; yet determined to supply the popular demand for a cheaper edition, and thus in a measure render to the great American people, who have lavished upon me so many favors, a due recognition of their claims upon my gratitude and esteem,—I have purchased, of the original publishers, the electrotype plates of text and engravings together with the copyright of the work; and, now enabled to control the publication myself, I give the same precise text with the original, (together with an additional chapter bringing the biography down to April 2d, 1872,) at the low price of $1.50.

Copies of the cheap edition can be had on application to the American News Company, New York, Warren, Johnson & Co., Buffalo, and elsewhere.

Your obedient humble servant,

No. 438 Fifth Avenue, New York City, April 2d, 1872.


THIS book is my Recollections of Forty Busy Years. Few men in civil life have had a career more crowded with incident, enterprise, and various intercourse with the world than mine. With the alternations of success and defeat, extensive travel in this and foreign lands; a large acquaintance with the humble and honored; having held the preëminent place among all who have sought to furnish healthful entertainment to the American people, and, therefore, having had opportunities for garnering an ample storehouse of incident and anecdote, while, at the same time, needing a sagacity, energy, foresight and fortitude rarely required or exhibited in financial affairs, my struggles and experiences (it is not altogether vanity in me to think) can not be without interest to my fellow countrymen.

Various leading publishers have solicited me to place at their disposal my Recollections of what I have been, and seen, and done. These proposals, together with the partiality of friends and kindred, have constrained me, now that I have retired from all active participation in business, to put in a permanent form what, it seems to me, may be instructive, entertaining and profitable.

Fifteen years since, for the purpose, principally, of advancing my interests as proprietor of the American Museum, I gave to the press some personal reminiscences and sketches. Having an extensive sale, they were, however, very hastily, and, therefore, imperfectly, prepared. These are not only out of print, but the plates have been destroyed. Though including, necessarily, in common with them, some of the facts of my early life, in order to make this autobiography a complete and continuous narrative, yet, as the latter part of my life has been the more eventful, and my recollections so various and abundant, this book is new and independent of the former. It is the matured and leisurely review of almost half a century of work and struggle, and final success, in spite of fraud and fire—the story of which is blended with amusing anecdotes, funny passages, felicitous jokes, captivating narratives, novel experiences, and remarkable interviews—the sunny and sombre so intermingled as not only to entertain, but convey useful lessons to all classes of readers.

These Recollections are dedicated to those who are nearest and dearest to me, with the feeling that they are a record which I am willing to leave in their hands, as a legacy which they will value.

And above and beyond this personal satisfaction, I have thought that the review of a life, with the wide contrasts of humble origin and high and honorable success; of most formidable obstacles overcome by courage and constancy; of affluence that had been patiently won, suddenly wrenched away, and triumphantly regained—would be a help and incentive to the young man, struggling, it may be, with adverse fortune, or, at the start, looking into the future with doubt or despair.

All autobiographies are necessarily egotistical. If my pages are as plentifully sprinkled with “I’s” as was the chief ornament of Hood’s peacock, “who thought he had the eyes of Europe on his tail,” I can only say, that the “I’s” are essential to the story I have told. It has been my purpose to narrate, not the life of another, but that career in which I was the principal actor.

There is an almost universal, and not unworthy curiosity to learn the methods and measures, the ups and downs, the strifes and victories, the mental and moral personnel of those who have taken an active and prominent part in human affairs. But an autobiography has attractions and merits superior to those of a “Life” written by another, who, however intimate with its subject, cannot know all that helps to give interest and accuracy to the narrative, or completeness to the character. The story from the actor’s own lips has always a charm it can never have when told by another.

That my narrative is interspersed with amusing incidents, and even the recital of some very practical jokes, is simply because my natural disposition impels me to look upon the brighter side of life, and I hope my humorous experiences will entertain my readers as much as they were enjoyed by myself. And if this record of trials and triumphs, struggles and successes, shall stimulate any to the exercise of that energy, industry, and courage in their callings, which will surely lead to happiness and prosperity, one main object I have in yielding to the solicitations of my friends and my publishers will have been accomplished.


Waldemere, Bridgeport,   }
Connecticut, July 5, 1869. }

1.PORTRAIT OF P. T. BARNUM,Frontispiece






I WAS born in the town of Bethel, in the State of Connecticut, July 5, 1810. My name, Phineas Taylor, is derived from my maternal grandfather, who was a great wag in his way, and who, as I was his first grandchild, gravely handed over to my mother at my christening a gift-deed, in my behalf, of five acres of land situated in that part of the parish of Bethel known as the “Plum Trees.” I was thus a real estate owner almost at my very birth; and of my property, “Ivy Island,” something shall be said anon.

My father, Philo Barnum, was the son of Ephraim Barnum, of Bethel, who was a captain in the revolutionary war. My father was a tailor, a farmer, and sometimes a tavern-keeper, and my advantages and disadvantages were such as fall to the general run of farmers’ boys. I drove cows to and from the pasture, shelled corn, weeded the garden; as I grew larger, I rode horse for ploughing, turned and raked hay; in due time I handled the shovel and the hoe, and when I could do so I went to school.

I was six years old when I began to go to school, and the first date I remember inscribing upon my writing-book was 1818. The ferule, in those days, was the assistant school-master; but in spite of it, I was a willing, and, I think, a pretty apt scholar; at least, I was so considered by my teachers and schoolmates, and as the years went on there were never more than two or three in the school who were deemed my superiors. In arithmetic I was unusually ready and accurate, and I remember, at the age of twelve years, being called out of bed one night by my teacher who had wagered with a neighbor that I could calculate the correct number of feet in a load of wood in five minutes. The dimensions given, I figured out the result in less than two minutes, to the great delight of my teacher and to the equal astonishment of his neighbor.

My organ of “acquisitiveness” was manifest at an early age. Before I was five years of age, I began to accumulate pennies and “four-pences,” and when I was six years old my capital amounted to a sum sufficient to exchange for a silver dollar, the possession of which made me feel far richer and more independent than I have ever since felt in the world.

Nor did my dollar long remain alone. As I grew older I earned ten cents a day for riding the horse which led the ox team in ploughing, and on holidays and “training days,” instead of spending money, I earned it. I was a small peddler of molasses candy (of home make), ginger-bread, cookies and cherry rum, and I generally found myself a dollar or two richer at the end of a holiday than I was at the beginning. I was always ready for a trade, and by the time I was twelve years old, besides other property, I was the owner of a sheep and a calf, and should soon, no doubt, have become a small Crœsus, had not my father kindly permitted me to purchase my own clothing, which somewhat reduced my little store.

When I was nearly twelve years old I made my first visit to the metropolis. It happened in this wise: Late one afternoon in January, 1822, Mr. Daniel Brown, of Southbury, Connecticut, arrived at my father’s tavern, in Bethel, with some fat cattle he was driving to New York to sell. The cattle were put into our large barnyard, the horses were stabled, and Mr. Brown and his assistant were provided with a warm supper and lodging for the night. After supper I heard Mr. Brown say to my father that he intended to buy more cattle, and that he would be glad to hire a boy to assist in driving the cattle. I immediately besought my father to secure the situation for me, and he did so. My mother’s consent was also gained, and at daylight next morning, after a slight breakfast, I started on foot in the midst of a heavy snow storm to help drive the cattle. Before reaching Ridgefield, I was sent on horseback after a stray ox, and, in galloping, the horse fell and my ankle was sprained. I suffered severely, but did not complain lest my employer should send me back. But he considerately permitted me to ride behind him on his horse; and, indeed, did so most of the way to New York, where we arrived in three or four days.

We put up at the Bull’s Head Tavern, where we were to stay a week while the drover was disposing of his cattle, and we were then to return home in a sleigh. It was an eventful week for me. Before I left home my mother had given me a dollar which I supposed would supply every want that heart could wish. My first outlay was for oranges which I was told were four pence apiece, and as “four-pence” in Connecticut was six cents, I offered ten cents for two oranges which was of course readily taken; and thus, instead of saving two cents, as I thought, I actually paid two cents more than the price demanded. I then bought two more oranges, reducing my capital to eighty cents. Thirty-one cents was the “charge” for a small gun which would “go off” and send a stick some little distance, and this gun I bought. Amusing myself with this toy in the bar-room of the Bull’s Head, the arrow happened to hit the barkeeper, who forthwith came from behind the counter and shook me and soundly boxed my ears, telling me to put that gun out of the way or he would put it into the fire. I sneaked to my room, put my treasure under the pillow, and went out for another visit to the toy shop.

There I invested six cents in “torpedoes,” with which I intended to astonish my schoolmates in Bethel. I could not refrain, however, from experimenting upon the guests of the hotel, which I did when they were going in to dinner. I threw two of the torpedoes against the wall of the hall through which the guests were passing, and the immediate results were as follows: two loud reports,—astonished guests,—irate landlord,—discovery of the culprit, and summary punishment—for the landlord immediately floored me with a single blow with his open hand, and said:

“There, you little greenhorn, see if that will teach you better than to explode your infernal fire crackers in my house again.”

The lesson was sufficient if not entirely satisfactory. I deposited the balance of the torpedoes with my gun, and as a solace for my wounded feelings I again visited the toy shop, where I bought a watch, breastpin and top, leaving but eleven cents of my original dollar.

The following morning found me again at the fascinating toy shop, where I saw a beautiful knife with two blades, a gimlet, and a corkscrew,—a whole carpenter shop in miniature, and all for thirty-one cents. But, alas! I had only eleven cents. Have that knife I must, however, and so I proposed to the shop woman to take back the top and breastpin at a slight deduction, and with my eleven cents to let me have the knife. The kind creature consented, and this makes memorable my first “swap.” Some fine and nearly white molasses candy then caught my eye, and I proposed to trade the watch for its equivalent in candy. The transaction was made and the candy was so delicious that before night my gun was absorbed in the same way. The next morning the torpedoes “went off” in the same direction, and before night even my beloved knife was similarly exchanged. My money and my goods all gone I traded two pocket handkerchiefs and an extra pair of stockings I was sure I should not want for nine more rolls of molasses candy, and then wandered about the city disconsolate, sighing because there was no more molasses candy to conquer.

I doubt not that in these first wanderings about the city I often passed the corner of Broadway and Ann Street—never dreaming of the stir I was destined at a future day to make in that locality as proprietor and manager of the American Museum.

After wandering, gazing and wondering, for a week, Mr. Brown took me in his sleigh and on the evening of the following day we arrived in Bethel. I had a thousand questions to answer, and then and for a long time afterwards I was quite a lion among my mates because I had seen the great metropolis. My brothers and sisters, however, were much disappointed at my not bringing them something from my dollar, and when my mother examined my wardrobe and found two pocket handkerchiefs and one pair of stockings missing she whipped me and sent me to bed. Thus ingloriously terminated my first visit to New York.

Previous to my visit to New York, I think it was in 1820, when I was ten years of age, I made my first expedition to my landed property, “Ivy Island.” This, it will be remembered, was the gift of my grandfather, from whom I derived my name. From the time when I was four years old I was continually hearing of this “property.” My grandfather always spoke of me (in my presence) to the neighbors and to strangers as the richest child in town, since I owned the whole of “Ivy Island,” one of the most valuable farms in the State. My father and mother frequently reminded me of my wealth and hoped I would do something for the family when I attained my majority. The neighbors professed to fear that I might refuse to play with their children because I had inherited so large a property.

These constant allusions, for several years, to “Ivy Island” excited at once my pride and my curiosity and stimulated me to implore my father’s permission to visit my property. At last, he promised I should do so in a few days, as we should be getting some hay near “Ivy Island.” The wished for day at length arrived and my father told me that as we were to mow an adjoining meadow, I might visit my property in company with the hired man during the “nooning.” My grandfather reminded me that it was to his bounty I was indebted for this wealth, and that had not my name been Phineas I might never have been proprietor of “Ivy Island.” To this my mother added:

“Now, Taylor, don’t become so excited when you see your property as to let your joy make you sick, for remember, rich as you are, that it will be eleven years before you can come into possession of your fortune.”

She added much more good advice, to all of which I promised to be calm and reasonable and not to allow my pride to prevent me from speaking to my brothers and sisters when I returned home.

When we arrived at the meadow, which was in that part of the “Plum Trees” known as “East Swamp,” I asked my father where “Ivy Island” was.

“Yonder, at the north end of this meadow, where you see those beautiful trees rising in the distance.”

All the forenoon I turned grass as fast as two men could cut it, and after a hasty repast at noon, one of our hired men, a good natured Irishman, named Edmund, took an axe on his shoulder and announced that he was ready to accompany me to “Ivy Island.” We started, and as we approached the north end of the meadow we found the ground swampy and wet and were soon obliged to leap from bog to bog on our route. A misstep brought me up to my middle in water. To add to the dilemma a swarm of hornets attacked me. Attaining the altitude of another bog I was cheered by the assurance that there was only a quarter of a mile of this kind of travel to the edge of my property. I waded on. In about fifteen minutes more, after floundering through the morass, I found myself half-drowned, hornet-stung, mud-covered, and out of breath, on comparatively dry land.

“Never mind, my boy,” said Edmund, “we have only to cross this little creek, and ye’ll be upon your own valuable property.”

We were on the margin of a stream, the banks of which were thickly covered with alders. I now discovered the use of Edmund’s axe, for he felled a small oak to form a temporary bridge to my “Island” property. Crossing over, I proceeded to the centre of my domain; I saw nothing but a few stunted ivies and straggling trees. The truth flashed upon me. I had been the laughing-stock of the family and neighborhood for years. My valuable “Ivy Island” was an almost inaccessible, worthless bit of barren land, and while I stood deploring my sudden downfall, a huge black snake (one of my tenants) approached me with upraised head. I gave one shriek and rushed for the bridge.

This was my first, and, I need not say, my last visit to “Ivy Island.” My father asked me “how I liked my property?” and I responded that I would sell it pretty cheap. My grandfather congratulated me upon my visit to my property as seriously as if it had been indeed a valuable domain. My mother hoped its richness had fully equalled my anticipations. The neighbors desired to know if I was not now glad I was named Phineas, and for five years forward I was frequently reminded of my wealth in “Ivy Island.”

As I grew older, my settled aversion to manual labor, farm or other kind, was manifest in various ways, which were set down to the general score of laziness. In despair of doing better with me, my father concluded to



make a merchant of me. He erected a building in Bethel, and with Mr. Hiram Weed as a partner, purchased a stock of dry goods, hardware, groceries, and general notions and installed me as clerk in this country store.

Of course I “felt my oats.” It was condescension on my part to talk with boys who did out-door work. I stood behind the counter with a pen over my ear, was polite to the ladies, and was wonderfully active in waiting upon customers. We kept a cash, credit and barter store, and I drove some sharp bargains with women who brought butter, eggs, beeswax and feathers to exchange for dry goods, and with men who wanted to trade oats, corn, buckwheat, axe-helves, hats, and other commodities for tenpenny nails, molasses, or New England rum. But it was a drawback upon my dignity that I was obliged to take down the shutters, sweep the store, and make the fire. I received a small salary for my services and the perquisite of what profit I could derive from purchasing candies on my own account to sell to our younger customers, and, as usual, my father stipulated that I should clothe myself.

There is a great deal to be learned in a country store, and principally this—that sharp trades, tricks, dishonesty, and deception are by no means confined to the city. More than once, in cutting open bundles of rags, brought to be exchanged for goods, and warranted to be all linen and cotton, I have discovered in the interior worthless woolen trash and sometimes stones, gravel or ashes. Sometimes, too, when measuring loads of oats, corn or rye, declared to contain a specified number of bushels, say sixty, I have found them four or five bushels short. In such cases, some one else was always to blame, but these happenings were frequent enough to make us watchful of our customers. In the evenings and on wet days trade was always dull, and at such times the story-telling and joke-playing wits and wags of the village used to assemble in our store, and from them I derived considerable amusement, if not profit. After the store was closed at night, I frequently joined some of the village boys at the houses of their parents, where, with story-telling and play, a couple of hours would soon pass by, and then as late, perhaps, as eleven o’clock, I went home and slyly crept up stairs so as not to awaken my brother with whom I slept, and who would be sure to report my late hours. He made every attempt, and laid all sorts of plans to catch me on my return, but as sleep always overtook him, I managed easily to elude his efforts.

Like most people in Connecticut in those days, I was brought up to attend church regularly on Sunday, and long before I could read I was a prominent scholar in the Sunday school. My good mother taught me my lessons in the New Testament and the Catechism, and my every effort was directed to win one of those “Rewards of Merit,” which promised to pay the bearer one mill, so that ten of these prizes amounted to one cent, and one hundred of them, which might be won by faithful assiduity every Sunday for two years, would buy a Sunday school book worth ten cents. Such were the magnificent rewards held out to the religious ambition of youth.

There was but one church or “meeting-house” in Bethel, which all attended, sinking all differences of creed in the Presbyterian faith. The old meeting-house had neither steeple nor bell and was a plain edifice, comfortable enough in summer, but my teeth chatter even now when I think of the dreary, cold, freezing hours we passed in that place in winter. A stove in a meeting-house in those days would have been a sacrilegious innovation. The sermons were from an hour and one half to two hours long, and through these the congregation would sit and shiver till they really merited the title the profane gave them of “blue skins.” Some of the women carried a “foot-stove” consisting of a small square tin box in a wooden frame, the sides perforated, and in the interior there was a small square iron dish, which contained a few live coals covered with ashes. These stoves were usually replenished just before meeting time at some neighbor’s near the meeting-house.

After many years of shivering and suffering, one of the brethren had the temerity to propose that the church should be warmed with a stove. His impious proposition was voted down by an overwhelming majority. Another year came around, and in November the stove question was again brought up. The excitement was immense. The subject was discussed in the village stores and in the juvenile debating club; it was prayed over in conference; and finally in general “society’s meeting,” in December, the stove was carried by a majority of one and was introduced into the meeting-house. On the first Sunday thereafter, two ancient maiden ladies were so oppressed by the dry and heated atmosphere occasioned by the wicked innovation, that they fainted away and were carried out into the cool air where they speedily returned to consciousness, especially when they were informed that owing to the lack of two lengths of pipe, no fire had yet been made in the stove. The next Sunday was a bitter cold day, and the stove, filled with well-seasoned hickory, was a great gratification to the many, and displeased only a few. After the benediction, an old deacon rose and requested the congregation to remain, and called upon them to witness that he had from the first raised his voice against the introduction of a stove into the house of the Lord; but the majority had been against him and he had submitted; now, if they must have a stove, he insisted upon having a large one, since the present one did not heat the whole house, but drove the cold to the back outside pews, making them three times as cold as they were before! In the course of the week, this deacon was made to comprehend that, unless on unusually severe days, the stove was sufficient to warm the house, and, at any rate, it did not drive all the cold in the house into one corner.

During the Rev. Mr. Lowe’s ministrations at Bethel, he formed a Bible class, of which I was a member. We used to draw promiscuously from a hat a text of scripture and write a composition on the text, which compositions were read after service in the afternoon, to such of the congregation as remained to hear the exercises of the class. Once, I remember, I drew the text, Luke x. 42: “But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” Question, “What is the one thing needful?” My answer was nearly as follows:

“This question ‘what is the one thing needful?’ is capable of receiving various answers, depending much upon the persons to whom it is addressed. The merchant might answer that ‘the one thing needful’ is plenty of customers, who buy liberally, without beating down and pay cash for all their purchases.’ The farmer might reply, that ‘the one thing needful is large harvests and high prices.’ The physician might answer that ‘it is plenty of patients.’ The lawyer might be of opinion that ‘it is an unruly community, always engaged in bickerings and litigations.’ The clergyman might reply, ‘It is a fat salary with multitudes of sinners seeking salvation and paying large pew rents.’ The bachelor might exclaim, ‘It is a pretty wife who loves her husband, and who knows how to sew on buttons.’ The maiden might answer, ‘It is a good husband, who will love, cherish and protect me while life shall last.’ But the most proper answer, and doubtless that which applied to the case of Mary, would be, ‘The one thing needful is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, follow in his footsteps, love God and obey His commandments, love our fellow-man, and embrace every opportunity of administering to his necessities. In short, ‘the one thing needful’ is to live a life that we can always look back upon with satisfaction, and be enabled ever to contemplate its termination with trust in Him who has so kindly vouchsafed it to us, surrounding us with innumerable blessings, if we have but the heart and wisdom to receive them in a proper manner.”

The reading of a portion of this answer occasioned some amusement in the congregation, in which the clergyman himself joined, and the name of “Taylor Barnum” was whispered in connection with the composition; but at the close of the reading I had the satisfaction of hearing Mr. Lowe say that it was a well written and truthful answer to the question, “What is the one thing needful?”




IN the month of August, 1825, my maternal grandmother met with an accident in stepping on the point of a rusty nail, and, though the matter was at first considered trivial, it resulted in her death. Alarming symptoms soon made her sensible that she was on her death-bed; and while she was in full possession of her faculties, the day before she died she sent for her grandchildren to take final leave of them. I shall never forget the sensations I experienced when she took me by the hand and besought me to lead a religious life, and especially to remember that I could in no way so effectually prove my love to God as by loving all my fellow-beings. The impressions of that death-bed scene have ever been among my most vivid recollections, and I trust they have proved in some degree salutary. A more exemplary woman, or a more sincere Christian than my grandmother, I have never known.

My father, for his time and locality, was a man of much enterprise. He could, and actually did, “keep a hotel”; he had a livery stable and ran, in a small way, what in our day would be called a Norwalk Express; and he also kept a country store. With greater opportunities and a larger field for his efforts and energies, he might have been a man of mark and means. Not that he was successful, for he never did a profitable business; but I, who saw him in his various pursuits, and acted as his clerk, caught something of his enterprising spirit, and, perhaps without egotism, I may say I inherited that characteristic. My business education was as good as the limited field afforded, and I soon put it to account and service.

On the 7th of September, 1825, my father, who had been sick since the month of March, died at the age of forty-eight years. My mother was left with five children, of whom I, at fifteen years of age, was the eldest, while the youngest was but seven. It was soon apparent that my father had provided nothing for the support of his family; his estate was insolvent, and it did not pay fifty cents on the dollar. My mother, by economy, industry, and perseverance, succeeded in a few years afterwards in redeeming the homestead and becoming its sole possessor; but, at the date of the death of my father, the world looked gloomy indeed; the few dollars I had accumulated and loaned to my father, holding his note therefor, were decided to be the property of a minor, belonging to the father and so to the estate, and my small claim was ruled out. I was obliged to get trusted for the pair of shoes I wore to my father’s funeral. I literally began the world with nothing, and was barefooted at that.

Leaving Mr. Weed, I went to Grassy Plain, a mile northwest of Bethel, and secured a situation as clerk in the store of James S. Keeler & Lewis Whitlock at six dollars a month and my board. I lived with Mrs. Jerusha Wheeler and her daughters, Jerusha and Mary, and found an excellent home. I chose my uncle, Alanson Taylor, as my guardian. I did my best to please my employers and soon gained their confidence and esteem and was regarded by them as an active clerk and a ‘cute trader. They afforded me many facilities for making money on my own account and I soon entered upon sundry speculations and succeeded in getting a small sum of money ahead.

I made a very remarkable trade at one time for my employers by purchasing, in their absence, a whole wagon load of green glass bottles of various sizes, for which I paid in unsalable goods at very profitable prices. How to dispose of the bottles was then the problem, and as it was also desirable to get rid of a large quantity of tin ware which had been in the shop for years and was considerably “shop-worn,” I conceived the idea of a lottery in which the highest prize should be twenty-five dollars, payable in any goods the winner desired, while there were to be fifty prizes of five dollars each, payable in goods, to be designated in the scheme. Then there were one hundred prizes of one dollar each, one hundred prizes of fifty cents each, and three hundred prizes of twenty-five cents each. It is unnecessary to state that the minor prizes consisted mainly of glass and tin ware; the tickets sold like wildfire, and the worn tin and glass bottles were speedily turned into cash.

As my mother continued to keep the village tavern at Bethel, I usually went home on Saturday night and stayed till Monday morning, going to church with my mother on Sunday. This habit was the occasion of an experience of momentous consequence to me. One Saturday evening, during a violent thunder shower, Miss Mary Wheeler, a milliner, sent me word that there was a girl from Bethel at her house, who had come up on horseback to get a new bonnet; that she was afraid to go back alone; and if I was going to Bethel that evening she wished me to escort her customer. I assented, and went over to “Aunt Rushia’s” where I was introduced to “Chairy” (Charity) Hallett, a fair, rosy-cheeked, buxom girl, with beautiful white teeth. I assisted her to her saddle, and mounting my own horse, we trotted towards Bethel.

My first impressions of this girl as I saw her at the house were exceedingly favorable. As soon as we started I began a conversation with her and finding her very affable I regretted that the distance to Bethel was not five miles instead of one. A flash of lightning gave me a distinct view of the face of my fair companion and then I wished the distance was twenty miles. During our ride I learned that she was a tailoress, working with Mr. Zerah Benedict, of Bethel. We soon arrived at our destination and I bid her good night and went home. The next day I saw her at church, and, indeed, many Sundays afterwards, but I had no opportunity to renew the acquaintance that season.

Mrs. Jerusha Wheeler, with whom I boarded, and her daughter Jerusha were familiarly known, the one as “Aunt Rushia,” and the other as “Rushia.” Many of our store customers were hatters, and among the many kinds of furs we sold for the nap of hats was one known to the trade as “Russia.” One day a hatter, Walter Dibble, called to buy some furs. I sold him several kinds, including “beaver” and “cony,” and he then asked for some “Russia.” We had none, and, as I wanted to play a joke upon him, I told him that Mrs. Wheeler had several hundred pounds of “Russia.”

“What on earth is a woman doing with ‘Russia?’ ” said he.

I could not answer, but I assured him that there were one hundred and thirty pounds of old Rushia and one hundred and fifty pounds of young Rushia in Mrs. Wheeler’s house, and under her charge, but whether or not it was for sale I could not say. Off he started to make the purchase and knocked at the door. Mrs. Wheeler, the elder, made her appearance.

“I want to get your Russia,” said the hatter.

Mrs. Wheeler asked him to walk in and be seated. She, of course, supposed that he had come for her daughter “Rushia.”

“What do you want of Rushia?” asked the old lady.

“To make hats,” was the reply.

“To trim hats, I suppose you mean?” responded Mrs. Wheeler.

“No, for the outside of hats,” replied the hatter.

“Well, I don’t know much about hats,” said the old lady, “but I will call my daughter.”

Passing into another room where “Rushia” the younger was at work, she informed her that a man wanted her to make hats.

“Oh, he means sister Mary; probably. I suppose he wants some ladies’ hats,” replied Rushia, as she went into the parlor.

“This is my daughter,” said the old lady.

“I want to get your Russia,” said he, addressing the young lady.

“I suppose you wish to see my sister Mary; she is our milliner,” said young Rushia.

“I wish to see whoever owns the property,” said the hatter.

Sister Mary was sent for, and as she was introduced, the hatter informed her that he wished to buy her “Russia.”

“Buy Rushia!” exclaimed Mary in surprise; “I don’t understand you.”

“Your name is Miss Wheeler, I believe,” said the hatter, who was annoyed by the difficulty he met with in being understood.

“It is, sir.”

“Ah! very well. Is there old and young Russia in the house?”

“I believe there is,” said Mary, surprised at the familiar manner in which he spoke of her mother and sister, who were present.

“What is the price of old Russia per pound?” asked the hatter.

“I believe, sir, that old Rushia is not for sale,” replied Mary indignantly.

“Well, what do you ask for young Russia?” pursued the hatter.

“Sir,” said Miss Rushia the younger, springing to her feet, “do you come here to insult defenceless females? If you do, sir, we will soon call our brother, who is in the garden, and he will punish you as you deserve.”

“Ladies!” exclaimed the hatter, in astonishment, “what on earth have I done to offend you? I came here on a business matter. I want to buy some Russia. I was told you had old and young Russia in the house. Indeed, this young lady just stated such to be the fact, but she says the old Russia is not for sale. Now, if I can buy the young Russia I want to do so—but if that can’t be done, please to say so and I will trouble you no further.”

“Mother, open the door and let this man go out; he is undoubtedly crazy,” said Miss Mary.

“By thunder! I believe I shall be if I remain here long,” exclaimed the hatter, considerably excited. “I wonder if folks never do business in these parts, that you think a man is crazy if he attempts such a thing?”

“Business! poor man!” said Mary soothingly, approaching the door.

“I am not a poor man, madam,” replied the hatter. “My name is Walter Dibble; I carry on hatting extensively in Danbury; I came to Grassy Plains to buy fur, and have purchased some ‘beaver’ and ‘cony,’ and now it seems I am to be called ‘crazy’ and a ‘poor man,’ because I want to buy a little ‘Russia’ to make up my assortment.”

The ladies began to open their eyes; they saw that Mr. Dibble was quite in earnest, and his explanation threw considerable light upon the subject.

“Who sent you here?” asked sister Mary.

“The clerk at the opposite store,” was the reply.

“He is a wicked young fellow for making all this trouble,” said the old lady; “he has been doing this for a joke.”

“A joke!” exclaimed Dibble, in surprise. “Have you no Russia, then?”

“My name is Jerusha, and so is my daughter’s,” said Mrs. Wheeler, “and that, I suppose, is what he meant by telling you about old and young Rushia.”

Mr. Dibble bolted through the door without another word and made directly for our store. “You young scamp!” said he as he entered; “what did you mean by sending me over there to buy Russia?”

“I did not send you to buy Rushia; I supposed you were either a bachelor or widower and wanted to marry Rushia,” I replied, with a serious countenance.

“You lie, you young dog, and you know it; but never mind, I’ll pay you off some day”; and taking his furs, he departed with less ill-humor than could have been expected under the circumstances.

Among our customers were three or four old Revolutionary pensioners, who traded out the amounts of their pensions before they were due, leaving their papers as security. One of these pensioners was old Bevans, commonly known as “Uncle Bibbins,” a man who loved his glass and was very prone to relate romantic Revolutionary anecdotes and adventures, in which he, of course, was conspicuous. At one time he was in our debt, and though we held his pension papers, it would be three months before the money could be drawn. It was desirable to get him away for that length of time, and we hinted to him that it would be pleasant to make a visit to Guilford, where he had relations, but he would not go. Finally, I hit upon a plan which “moved” him.

A journeyman hatter, named Benton, who was fond of a practical joke, was let into the secret, and was persuaded to call “Uncle Bibbins” a coward, to tell him that he had been wounded in the back, and thus to provoke a duel, which he did, and at my suggestion “Uncle Bibbins” challenged Benton to fight him with musket and ball at a distance of twenty yards. The challenge was accepted, I was chosen second by “Uncle Bibbins,” and the duel was to come off immediately. My principal, taking me aside, begged me to put nothing in the guns but blank cartridges. I assured him it should be so, and therefore that he might feel perfectly safe. This gave the old man extra courage; he declared that he had not been so long in bloody battles “for nothing,” and that he would put a bullet through Benton’s heart at the first shot.

The ground was measured in the lot at the rear of our store, and the principals and seconds took their places. At the word given both parties fired. “Uncle Bibbins,” of course, escaped unhurt, but Benton leaped several feet into the air, and fell upon the ground with a dreadful yell, as if he had been really shot. “Uncle Bibbins” was frightened. As his second, I ran to him, told him I had neglected to extract the bullet from his gun (which was literally true, as there was no bullet in it to extract), and he supposed, of course, he had killed his adversary. I then whispered to him to go immediately to Guilford, to keep quiet, and he should hear from me as soon as it would be safe to do so. He started up the street on a run, and immediately quit the town for Guilford, where he kept himself quiet until it was time for him to return and sign his papers. I then wrote him that “he could return in safety; that his adversary had recovered from his wound, and now forgave him all, as he felt himself much to blame for having insulted a man of his known courage.”

“Uncle Bibbins” returned, signed the papers, and we obtained the pension money. A few days thereafter he met Benton.

“My brave old friend,” said Benton, “I forgive you my terrible wound and long confinement on the brink of the grave, and I beg you to forgive me also. I insulted you without a cause.”

“I forgive you freely,” said “Uncle Bibbins”; “but,” he added, “you must be careful next time how you insult a dead shot.”

Benton promised to be more circumspect in future, and “Uncle Bibbins” supposed to the day of his death that the duel, wound, danger, and all, were matters of fact.




Mr. Oliver Taylor removed from Danbury to Brooklyn, Long Island, where he kept a grocery store and also had a large comb factory and a comb store in New York. In the fall of 1826 he offered me a situation as clerk in his Brooklyn store, and I accepted it. I soon became conversant with the routine of my employer’s business and before long he entrusted to me the purchasing of all goods for his store. I bought for cash entirely, going into the lower part of New York City in search of the cheapest market for groceries, often attending auctions of teas, sugars, molasses, etc., watching the sales, noting prices and buyers, and frequently combining with other grocers to bid off large lots, which we subsequently divided, giving each of us the quantity wanted at a lower rate than if the goods had passed into other hands, compelling us to pay another profit.

Situated as I was, and well treated as I was by my employer, who manifested great interest in me, still I was dissatisfied. A salary was not sufficient for me. My disposition was of that speculative character which refused to be satisfied unless I was engaged in some business where my profits might be enhanced, or, at least, made to depend upon my energy, perseverance, attention to business, tact, and “calculation.” Accordingly, as I had no opportunity to speculate on my own account, I became uneasy, and, young as I was, I began to talk of setting up for myself; for, although I had no capital, several men of means had offered to furnish the money and join me in business. I was in that uneasy, transitory state between boyhood and manhood when I had unbounded confidence in my own abilities, and yet needed a discreet counsellor, adviser and friend.

In the following summer, 1827, I was taken down with the small-pox and was confined to the house for several months. This sickness made a sad inroad upon my means. When I was sufficiently recovered, I started for home to recruit, taking passage on board a sloop for Norwalk, but the remaining passengers were so frightened at the appearance of my face, which still bore the marks of the disease, that I was obliged to go ashore again, which I did, stopping at Holt’s, in Fulton Street, going to Norwalk by steamboat next morning, and arriving at Bethel in the afternoon.

During my convalescence at my mother’s house, I visited my old friends and neighbors and had the opportunity to slightly renew my acquaintance with the attractive tailoress, “Chairy” Hallett. A month afterwards, I returned to Brooklyn, where I gave Mr. Taylor notice of my desire to leave his employment; and I then opened a porter-house on my own account. In a few months I sold out to good advantage and accepted a favorable offer to engage as clerk in a similar establishment, kept by Mr. David Thorp, 29 Peck Slip, New York. It was a great resort for Danbury and Bethel comb makers and hatters and I thus had frequent opportunities of seeing and hearing from my fellow-townsmen. I lived in Mr. Thorp’s family and was kindly treated. I was often permitted to visit the theatre with friends who came to New York, and, as I had considerable taste for the drama, I soon became, in my own opinion, a discriminating critic—nor did I fail to exhibit my powers to my Connecticut friends who accompanied me to the play. Let me gratefully add that my habits were not bad. Though I sold liquors to others, I do not think I ever drank a pint of liquor, wine, or cordials before I was twenty-two years of age. I always had a Bible, which I frequently read, and I attended church regularly. These habits, so far as they go, are in the right direction, and I am thankful to-day that they characterized my early youth. However worthy or unworthy may have been my later years, I know that I owe much of the better part of my nature to my youthful regard for Sunday and its institutions—a regard, I trust, still strong in my character.

In February, 1828, I returned to Bethel and opened a retail fruit and confectionery store in a part of my grandfather’s carriage-house, which was situated on the main street, and which was offered to me rent free if I would return to my native village and establish some sort of business. This beginning of business on my own account was an eventful era in my life. My total capital was one hundred and twenty dollars, fifty of which I had expended in fitting up the store, and the remaining seventy dollars purchased my stock in trade. I had arranged with fruit dealers whom I knew in New York, to receive my orders, and I decided to open my establishment on the first Monday in May—our “general training” day.

It was a “red letter” day for me. The village was crowded with people from the surrounding region and the novelty of my little shop attracted attention. Long before noon I was obliged to call in one of my old schoolmates to assist in waiting upon my numerous customers and when I closed at night I had the satisfaction of reckoning up sixty-three dollars as my day’s receipts. Nor, although I had received the entire cost of my goods, less seven dollars, did the stock seem seriously diminished; showing that my profits had been large. I need not say how much gratified I was with the result of this first day’s experiment. The store was a fixed fact. I went to New York and expended all my money in a stock of fancy goods, such as pocket-books, combs, beads, rings, pocket-knives, and a few toys. These, with fruit, nuts, etc., made the business good through the summer, and in the fall I added stewed oysters to the inducements.

My grandfather, who was much interested in my success, advised me to take an agency for the sale of lottery tickets, on commission. In those days, the lottery was not deemed objectionable on the score of morality. Very worthy people invested in such schemes without a thought of evil, and then, as now, churches even got up lotteries, with this difference—that then they were called lotteries, and now they go under some other name. While I am very glad that an improved public sentiment denounces the lottery in general as an illegitimate means of getting money, and while I do not see how any one, especially in or near a New England State, can engage in a lottery without feeling a reproach which no pecuniary return can compensate; yet I cannot now accuse myself for having been lured into a business which was then sanctioned by good Christian people, who now join with me in reprobating enterprises they once encouraged. But as public sentiment was forty years ago, I obtained an agency to sell lottery tickets on a commission of ten per cent, and this business, in connection with my little store, made my profits quite satisfactory.

I used to have some curious customers. On one occasion a young man called on me and selected a pocket-book which pleased him, asking me to give him credit for a few weeks. I told him that if he wanted any article of necessity in my line, I should not object to trust him for a short time, but it struck me that a pocket-book was a decided superfluity for a man who had no money; I therefore declined to trust him as I did not see the necessity for his possessing such an article till he had something to put into it. Later in life I have been credited with the utterance of some sagacious remarks, but this with regard to the pocket-book, trivial as the matter is in itself, seems to me quite as deserving of note as any of my ideas which have created more sensation.

My store had much to do in giving shape to my future character as well as career, in that it became a favorite resort; the theatre of village talk, and the scene of many practical jokes. For any excess of the jocose element in my character, part of the blame must attach to my early surroundings as a village clerk and merchant. In that true resort of village wits and wags, the country store, fun, pure and simple, will be sure to find the surface. My Bethel store was the scene of many most amusing incidents, in some of which I was an immediate participant, though in many, of course, I was only a listener or spectator.

The following scene makes a chapter in the history of Connecticut, as the State was when “blue-laws” were something more than a dead letter. To swear in those days was according to custom, but contrary to law. A person from New York State, whom I will call Crofut, who was a frequent visitor at my store, was a man of property, and equally noted for his self-will and his really terrible profanity. One day he was in my little establishment engaged in conversation, when Nathan Seelye, Esq., one of our village justices of the peace, and a man of strict religious principles, came in, and hearing Crofut’s profane language he told him he considered it his duty to fine him one dollar for swearing.

Crofut responded immediately with an oath, that he did not care a d—n for the Connecticut blue-laws.

“That will make two dollars,” said Mr. Seelye.

This brought forth another oath.

“Three dollars,” said the sturdy justice.

Nothing but oaths were given in reply, until Esquire Seelye declared the damage to the Connecticut laws to amount to fifteen dollars.

Crofut took out a twenty-dollar bill, and handed it to the justice of the peace, with an oath.

“Sixteen dollars,” said Mr. Seelye, counting out four dollars to hand to Mr. Crofut, as his change.

“Oh, keep it, keep it,” said Crofut, “I don’t want any change, I’ll d—d soon swear out the balance.” He did so, after which he was more circumspect in his conversation, remarking that twenty dollars a day for swearing was about as much as he could stand.

On another occasion, a man arrested for assault and battery was to be tried before my grandfather; who was a justice of the peace. A young medical student named Newton, volunteered to defend the prisoner, and Mr. Couch, the grand-juryman, came to me and said that as the prisoner had engaged a pettifogger, the State ought to have some one to represent its interests and he would give me a dollar to present the case. I accepted the fee and proposition. The fame of the “eminent counsel” on both sides drew quite a crowd to hear the case. As for the case itself, it was useless to argue it, for the guilt of the prisoner was established by evidence of half a dozen witnesses. However, Newton was bound to display himself, and so, rising with much dignity, he addressed my grandfather with, “May it please the honorable court,” etc., proceeding with a mixture of poetry and invective against Couch, the grand-juryman whom he assumed to be the vindictive plaintiff in this case. After alluding to him as such for the twentieth time, my grandfather stopped Newton in the midst of his splendid peroration and informed him that Mr. Couch was not the plaintiff in the case.

“Not the plaintiff! Then may it please your honor I should like to know who is the plaintiff?” inquired Newton.

He was quietly informed that the State of Connecticut was the plaintiff, whereupon Newton dropped into his seat as if he had been shot. Thereupon, I rose with great confidence, and speaking from my notes, proceeded to show the guilt of the prisoner from the evidence; that there was no discrepancy in the testimony; that none of the witnesses had been impeached; that no defence had been offered; that I was astonished at the audacity of both counsel and prisoner in not pleading guilty at once; and then, soaring aloft on general principles, I began to look about for a safe place to alight, when my grandfather interrupted me with—

“Young man, will you have the kindness to inform the court which side you are pleading for—the plaintiff or the defendant?”

It was my turn to drop, which I did amid a shout of laughter from every corner of the court-room. Newton, who had been very downcast, looked up with a broad grin and the two “eminent counsel” sneaked out of the room in company, while the prisoner was bound over to the next County Court for trial.

While my business in Bethel continued to increase beyond my expectations, I was also happy in believing that my suit with the fair tailoress, Charity Hallett, was duly progressing. Of all the young people with whom I associated in our parties, picnics, and sleigh-rides, she stood highest in my estimation and continued to improve upon acquaintance.

How I managed at one of our sleigh rides is worth narrating. My grandfather would, at any time, let me have a horse and sleigh, always excepting his new sleigh, the finest in the village, and a favorite horse called “Arabian.” I especially coveted this turnout for one of our parties, knowing that I could eclipse all my comrades, and so I asked grandfather if I could have “Arabian” and the new sleigh.

“Yes, if you have twenty dollars in your pocket,” was the reply.

I immediately showed the money, and, putting it back in my pocket, said with a laugh: “you see I have the money. I am much obliged to you; I suppose I can have ‘Arab’ and the new sleigh?”

Of course, he meant to deny me by making what he thought to be an impossible condition, to wit: that I should hire the team, at a good round price, if I had it at all, but I had caught him so suddenly that he was compelled to consent, and “Chairy” and I had the crack team of the party.

There was a young apprentice to the tailoring trade in Bethel, whom I will call John Mallett, whose education had been much neglected, and who had been paying his addresses to a certain “Lucretia” for some six months, with a strong probability of being jilted at last. On a Sunday evening she had declined to take his arm, accepting instead the arm of the next man who offered, and Mallett determined to demand an explanation. He accordingly came to me the Saturday evening following, asking me, when I had closed my store, to write a strong and remonstratory “love-letter” for him. I asked Bill Shepard, who was present, to remain and assist, and, in due time, the joint efforts of Shepard, Mallett, and myself resulted in the following production. I give the letter as an illustrative chapter in real life. In novels such correspondence is usually presented in elaborate rhetoric, with studied elegance of phrase. But the true language of the heart is always nearly the same in all time and in all tongues, and when the blood is up the writer is far more intent upon the matter than the manner, and aims to be forcible rather than elegant. The subjoined letter is certainly not after the manner of Chesterfield, but it is such a letter as a disappointed lover, spurred by

The green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on,

frequently indites. With a demand from Mallett that we should begin in strong terms, and Shepard acting as scribe, we concocted the following:

Bethel, ——, 18—.

Miss Lucretia,—I write this to ask an explanation of your conduct in giving me the mitten on Sunday night last. If you think, madam, that you can trifle with my affections, and turn me off for every little whipper-snapper that you can pick up, you will find yourself considerably mistaken. [We read thus far to Mallett, and it met his approval. He said he liked the idea of calling her “madam,” for he thought it sounded so “distant,” it would hurt her feelings very much. The term “little whipper-snapper” also delighted him. He said he guessed that would make her feel cheap. Shepard and myself were not quite so sure of its aptitude, since the chap who succeeded in capturing Lucretia, on the occasion alluded to, was a head and shoulders taller than Mallett. However, we did not intimate our thoughts to Mallett, and he desired us to “go ahead and give her another dose.”] You don’t know me, madam, if you think you can snap me up in this way. I wish you to understand that I can have the company of girls as much above you as the sun is above the earth, and I won’t stand any of your impudent nonsense no how. [This was duly read and approved. “Now,” said Mallett, “try to touch her feelings. Remind her of the pleasant hours we have spent together”; and we continued as follows:] My dear Lucretia, when I think of the many pleasant hours we have spent together—of the delightful walks which we have had on moonlight evenings to Fenner’s Rocks, Chestnut Ridge, Grassy Plains, Wildcat, and Puppy-town—of the strolls which we have taken upon Shelter Rocks, Cedar Hill—the visits we have made to Old Lane, Wolfpits, Toad-hole and Plum-trees[A]—when all these things come rushing on my mind, and when, my dear girl, I remember how often you have told me that you loved me better than anybody else, and I assured you my feelings were the same as yours, it almost breaks my heart to think of last Sunday night. [“Can’t you stick in some affecting poetry here?” said Mallett. Shepard could not recollect any to the point, nor could I, but as the exigency of the case seemed to require it, we concluded to manufacture a verse or two, which we did as follows:]

Lucretia, dear, what have I done,
That you should use me thus and so,
To take the arm of Tom Beers’ son,
And let your dearest true-love go?
Miserable fate, to lose you now,
And tear this bleeding heart asunder!
Will you forget your tender vow?
I can’t believe it—no, by thunder!

[Mallett did not like the word “thunder,” but being informed that no other word could be substituted without destroying both rhyme and reason, he consented that it should remain, provided we added two more stanzas of a softer nature; something, he said, that would make the tears come, if possible. We then ground out the following:]

Lucretia, dear, do write to Jack,
And say with Beers you are not smitten;
And thus to me in love come back,
And give all other boys the mitten.
Do this, Lucretia, and till death
I’ll love you to intense distraction;
I’ll spend for you my every breath,
And we will live in satisfaction.

[A] These were the euphonious names of localities in the vicinity of Bethel.

[“That will do very well,” said Mallett. “Now I guess you had better blow her up a little more.” We obeyed orders as follows:] It makes me mad to think what a fool I was to give you that finger-ring and bosom-pin, and spend so much time in your company, just to be flirted and bamboozled as I was on Sunday night last. If you continue this course of conduct, we part for ever, and I will thank you to send back that jewelry. I would sooner see it crushed under my feet than worn by a person who abused me as you have done. I shall despise you for ever if you don’t change your conduct towards me, and send me a letter of apology on Monday next. I shall not go to meeting to-morrow, for I would scorn to sit in the same meeting-house with you until I have an explanation of your conduct. If you allow any young man to go home with you to-morrow night, I shall know it, for you will be watched. [“There,” said Mallett, “that is pretty strong. Now I guess you had better touch her feelings once more, and wind up the letter.” We proceeded as follows:] My sweet girl, if you only knew the sleepless nights which I have spent during the present week, the torments and sufferings which I endure on your account; if you could but realize that I regard the world as less than nothing without you, I am certain you would pity me. A homely cot and a crust of bread with my adorable Lucretia would be a paradise, where a palace without you would be a hades. [“What in thunder is hades?” inquired Jack. We explained. He considered the figure rather bold, and requested us to close as soon as possible.] Now, dearest, in bidding you adieu, I implore you to reflect on our past enjoyments, look forward with pleasure to our future happy meetings, and rely upon your affectionate Jack in storm or calm, in sickness, distress, or want, for all these will be powerless to change my love. I hope to hear from you on Monday next, and, if favorable, I shall be happy to call on you the same evening, when in ecstatic joy we will laugh at the past, hope for the future, and draw consolation from the fact that “the course of true love never did run smooth.” This from your disconsolate but still hoping lover and admirer,

Jack Mallett,

P. S.—On reflection I have concluded to go to meeting to-morrow. If all is well, hold your pocket-handkerchief in your left hand as you stand up to sing with the choir—in which case I shall expect the pleasure of giving you my arm to-morrow night.

J. M.

The effect of this letter upon Lucretia, I regret to say, was not as favorable as could have been desired or expected. She declined to remove her handkerchief from her right hand and she returned the “ring and bosom-pin” to her disconsolate admirer, while, not many months after, Mallett’s rival led Lucretia to the altar. As for Mallett’s agreement to pay Shepard and myself five pounds of carpet rags and twelve yards of broadcloth “lists,” for our services, owing to his ill success, we compromised for one-half the amount.




DURING this season I made arrangements with Mr. Samuel Sherwood, of Bridgeport, to go on an exploring expedition to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where we understood there was a fine opening for a lottery office and where we meant to try our fortunes, provided the prospects should equal our expectations. We went to New York where I had an interview with Mr. Dudley S. Gregory, the principal business man of Messrs. Yates and McIntyre, who dissuaded me from going to Pittsburg, and offered me the entire lottery agency for the State of Tennessee, if I would go to Nashville and open an office. The offer was tempting, but the distance was too far from a certain tailoress in Bethel.

As the Pittsburg trip was given up, Sherwood and I went to Philadelphia for a pleasure excursion and put up at Congress Hall in Chestnut Street where we lived in much grander style than we had been accustomed to. The array of waiters and display of dishes were far ahead of our former experiences and for a week we lived in clover. At the end of that time, however, when we concluded to start for home, the amount of our hotel bill astounded us. After paying it and securing tickets for New York, our combined purses showed a balance of but twenty-seven cents.

Twenty-five cents of this sum went to the boot-black, and as our breakfast was included in our bill we secured from the table a few biscuits for our dinner on the way to New York.

Arriving in New York we carried our own baggage to Holt’s Hotel. The next morning Sherwood obtained a couple of dollars from a friend, and went to Newark and borrowed fifty dollars from his cousin, Dr. Sherwood, loaning me one-half the sum. After a few days’ sojourn in the city we returned home.

During our stay in New York, I derived considerable information from the city managers with regard to the lottery business, and thereafter I bought my tickets directly from the Connecticut lottery managers at what was termed “the scheme price,” and also established agencies throughout the country, selling considerable quantities of tickets at handsome profits. My uncle, Alanson Taylor, joined me in the business, and, as we sold several prizes, my office came to be considered “lucky,” and I received orders from all parts of the country.

During this time I kept a close eye upon the attractive tailoress, Charity Hallett, and in the summer of 1829 I asked her hand in marriage. My suit was accepted, and the wedding day was appointed; I, meanwhile, applying myself closely to business, and no one but the parties immediately interested suspecting that the event was so near at hand. Miss Hallett went to New York in October, ostensibly to visit her uncle, Nathan Beers, who resided at No. 3 Allen Street. I followed in November, pressed by the necessity of purchasing goods for my store; and the evening after my arrival, November 8, 1829, the Rev. Dr. McAuley married us in the presence of sundry friends and relatives of my wife, and I became the husband of one of the best women in the world. In the course of the week we went back to Bethel and took board in the family where Charity Barnum as “Chairy” Hallett had previously resided.

I do not approve or recommend early marriages. The minds of men and women taking so important a step in life should be somewhat matured, and hasty marriages, especially marriages of boys and girls, have been the cause of untold misery in many instances. But although I was only little more than nineteen years old when I was married, I have always felt assured that if I had waited twenty years longer I could not have found another woman so well suited to my disposition and so admirable and valuable in every character as a wife, a mother, and a friend.

My business occupations amply employed nearly all my time, yet so strong was my love of fun that when the opportunity for a practical joke presented itself, I could not resist the temptation. On one occasion I engaged in the character of counsel to conduct a case for an Irish peddler whose complaint was that one of our neighbors had turned him out of his house and had otherwise abused him.

The court was just as “real” as the attorney,—no more,—and consisted of three judges, one a mason, the second a butcher, and the third an old gentleman of leisure who was an ex-justice of the peace. The constable was of my own appointment, and my “writ” arrested the culprit who had turned my client out of house and home. The court was convened, but as the culprit did not appear, and as it seemed necessary that my client should get testimonials as to his personal character; the court adjourned nominally for one week, the client consenting to “stand treat” to cover immediate expenses.

I supposed that this was the end of it. But at the time named for the re-assembling of the “court,” a real lawyer from Newtown put in an appearance. He had been engaged by the Irishman to assist me in conducting the case! I saw at once that the joke was likely to prove a sorry one, and immediately notified the members of the “court,” who were quite as much alarmed as I was at the serious turn the thing had taken. I need not say that while the danger threatened we all took precious good care to keep out of the way. However, the affair was explained to Mr. Belden, the lawyer, who in turn set forth the matter to the client, but not in such a manner as to soothe the anger so natural under the circumstances—in fact, he advised the Irishman to get out of the place as soon as possible. The Irishman threatened me and my “court” with prosecution—a threat I really feared he would carry into execution, but which, to the great peace of mind of myself and my companions, he concluded not to follow up. Considering the vexation and annoyance of this Irishman, it was a mitigation to know that he was the party in the wrong and that he really deserved a severer punishment than my practical joke had put upon him.

In the winter of 1829-30, my lottery business had so extended that I had branch offices in Danbury, Norwalk, Stamford and Middletown, as well as agencies in the small villages for thirty miles around Bethel. I had also purchased from my grandfather three acres of land on which I built a house and went to housekeeping. My lottery business, which was with a few large customers, was so arranged that I could safely entrust it to an agent, making it necessary for me to find some other field for my individual enterprise.

So I tried my hand as an auctioneer in the book trade. I bought books at the auctions and from dealers and publishers in New York, and took them into the country, selling them at auction and doing tolerably well; only at Litchfield, Connecticut, where there was then a law school. At Newburgh, New York, several of my best books were stolen, and I quit the business in disgust.

In July, 1831, my uncle, Alanson Taylor, and myself opened a country store, in a building, which I had put up in Bethel in the previous spring, and we stocked the “yellow store,” as it was called, with a full assortment of groceries, hardware, crockery, and “notions”; but we were not successful in the enterprise, and in October following, I bought out my uncle’s interest and we dissolved partnership.

About this time, circumstances partly religious and partly political in their character led me into still another field of enterprise which honorably opened to me that notoriety of which in later life I surely have had a surfeit. Considering my youth, this new enterprise reflected credit upon my ability, as well as energy, and so I may be excused if I now recur to it with something like pride.

In a period of strong political excitement, I wrote several communications for the Danbury weekly paper, setting forth what I conceived to be the dangers of a sectarian interference which was then apparent in political affairs. The publication of these communications was refused and I accordingly purchased a press and types, and October 19, 1831, I issued the first number of my own paper, The Herald of Freedom.

I entered upon the editorship of this journal with all the vigor and vehemence of youth. The boldness with which the paper was conducted soon excited wide-spread attention and commanded a circulation which extended beyond the immediate locality into nearly every State in the Union. But lacking that experience which induces caution, and without the dread of consequences, I frequently laid myself open to the charge of libel and three times in three years I was prosecuted. A Danbury butcher, a zealous politician, brought a civil suit against me for accusing him of being a spy in a Democratic caucus. On the first trial the jury did not agree, but after a second trial I was fined several hundred dollars. Another libel suit against me was withdrawn and need not be mentioned further. The third was sufficiently important to warrant the following detail:

A criminal prosecution was brought against me for stating in my paper that a man in Bethel, prominent in the church, had “been guilty of taking usury of an orphan boy,” and for severely commenting on the fact in my editorial columns. When the case came to trial the truth of my statement was substantially proved by



several witnesses and even by the prosecuting party. But “the greater the truth, the greater the libel,” and then I had used the term “usury,” instead of extortion, or note-shaving, or some other expression which might have softened the verdict. The result was that I was sentenced to pay a fine of one hundred dollars and to be imprisoned in the common jail for sixty days.

The most comfortable provision was made for me in Danbury jail. My room was papered and carpeted; I lived well; I was overwhelmed with the constant visits of my friends; I edited my paper as usual and received large accessions to my subscription list; and at the end of my sixty days’ term the event was celebrated by a large concourse of people from the surrounding country. The court room in which I was convicted was the scene of the celebration. An ode, written for the occasion, was sung; an eloquent oration on the freedom of the press was delivered; and several hundred gentlemen afterwards partook of a sumptuous dinner followed by appropriate toasts and speeches. Then came the triumphant part of the ceremonial, which was reported in my paper of December 12, 1832, as follows:

P. T. Barnum and the band of music took their seats in a coach drawn by six horses, which had been prepared for the occasion. The coach was preceded by forty horsemen, and a marshal, bearing the national standard. Immediately in the rear of the coach was the carriage of the Orator and the President of the day, followed by the Committee of Arrangements and sixty carriages of citizens, which joined in escorting the editor to his home in Bethel.

“When the procession commenced its march amidst the roar of cannon, three cheers were given by several hundred citizens who did not join in the procession. The band of music continued to play a variety of national airs until their arrival in Bethel, (a distance of three miles,) when they struck up the beautiful and appropriate tune of ‘Home, Sweet Home!’ After giving three hearty cheers, the procession returned to Danbury. The utmost harmony and unanimity of feeling prevailed throughout the day, and we are happy to add that no accident occurred to mar the festivities of the occasion.”

My editorial career was one of continual contest. I however published the 160th number of The Herald of Freedom in Danbury, November 5, 1834, after which my brother-in-law, John W. Amerman, issued the paper for me at Norwalk till the following year, when the Herald was sold to Mr. George Taylor.

Meanwhile, I had taken Horace Fairchild into partnership in my mercantile business, in 1831, and I had sold out to him and to a Mr. Toucey, in 1833, they forming a partnership under the firm of Fairchild & Co. So far as I was concerned my store was not a success. Ordinary trade was too slow for me. I bought largely and in order to sell I was compelled to give extensive credits. Hence I had an accumulation of bad debts; and my old ledger presents a long series of accounts balanced by “death,” by “running away,” by “failing,” and by other similarly remunerative returns. I had expended money as freely as I had gained it, for I had already learned that I could make money rapidly and in large sums, when I set about it with a will, and hence I did not realize the worth of what I seemed to gain so readily. I looked forward to a future of saving when I should see the need of accumulation.

There was nothing more for me to do in Bethel; and in the winter of 1834-5, I removed my family to New York, where I hired a house in Hudson Street. I had no pecuniary resources, excepting such as might be derived from debts left for collection with my agent at Bethel, and I went to the metropolis literally to seek my fortune. I hoped to secure a situation in some mercantile house, not at a fixed salary, but so as to derive such portion of the profits as might be due to my individual tact, energy, and perseverance in the interests of the business. But I could find no such position; my resources began to fail; my family were in ill health; I must do something for a living; and so I acted as “drummer” to several concerns which allowed me a small commission on sales to customers of my introduction.

Every morning I used to look at the “wants” in the Sun for something that would suit me; and I had many a wildgoose chase in following up those “wants.” In some instances success depended upon my advancing from three hundred to five hundred dollars; in other cases a new patent life-pill, or a self-acting mouse trap was to make my fortune. An advertisement announcing “An immense speculation on a small capital! $10,000 easily made in one year!” turned out to be an offer of Professor Somebody at Scudder’s American Museum to sell a hydro-oxygen microscope, offered to me at two thousand dollars—one thousand in cash and the balance in sixty and ninety days, on good security,—and warranted to secure an independence after a short public exhibition through the country. If I had the desire to undertake this exhibition and experiment, I had not the capital. Other and many similar temptations were extended, but none of them seemed to open the door of fortune to me.

The advertisement in the Sun, of Mr. William Niblo, of Niblo’s Garden, for a barkeeper first brought me in contact with that gentlemanly and justly-popular proprietor. He wanted a well-recommended, well-behaved, trustworthy man to fill a vacant situation, but as he wished him to bind himself to remain three years, I, who was only seeking the means of temporary support, was precluded from accepting the position.

Nor did all my efforts secure a situation for me during the whole winter; but, in the spring, I received several hundred dollars from my agent in Bethel, and finding no better business, May 1, 1835, I opened a small private boarding-house at No. 52 Frankfort Street. We soon had a very good run of custom from our Connecticut acquaintances who had occasion to visit New York, and as this business did not sufficiently occupy my time, I bought an interest with Mr. John Moody in a grocery store, No. 156 South Street.

Although the years of manhood brought cares, anxieties, and struggles for a livelihood, they did not change my nature and the jocose element was still an essential ingredient of my being. I loved fun, practical fun, for itself and for the enjoyment which it brought. During the year, I occasionally visited Bridgeport where I almost always found at the hotel a noted joker, named Darrow, who spared neither friend nor foe in his tricks. He was the life of the bar-room and would always try to entrap some stranger in a bet and so win a treat for the company. He made several ineffectual attempts upon me, and at last, one evening, Darrow, who stuttered, made a final trial as follows: “Come, Barnum, I’ll make you another proposition; I’ll bet you hain’t got a whole shirt on your back.” The catch consists in the fact that generally only one-half of that convenient garment is on the back; but I had anticipated the proposition—in fact I had induced a friend, Mr. Hough, to put Darrow up to the trick,—and had folded a shirt nicely upon my back, securing it there with my suspenders. The bar-room was crowded with customers who thought that if I made the bet I should be nicely caught, and I made pretence of playing off and at the same time stimulated Darrow to press the bet by saying:

“That is a foolish bet to make; I am sure my shirt is whole because it is nearly new; but I don’t like to bet on such a subject.”

“A good reason why,” said Darrow, in great glee; “it’s ragged. Come, I’ll bet you a treat for the whole company you hain’t got a whole shirt on your b-b-b-back!”

“I’ll bet my shirt is cleaner than yours,” I replied.

“That’s nothing to do w-w-with the case; it’s ragged, and y-y-you know it.”

“I know it is not,” I replied, with pretended anger, which caused the crowd to laugh heartily.

“You poor ragged f-f-fellow, come down here from D-D-Danbury, I’m sorry for you,” said Darrow tantalizingly.

“You would not pay if you lost,” I remarked.

“Here’s f-f-five dollars I’ll put in Captain Hinman’s (the landlord’s) hands. Now b-b-bet if you dare, you ragged c-c-creature, you.”

I put five dollars in Captain Hinman’s hands, and told him to treat the company from it if I lost the bet.

“Remember,” said Darrow, “I b-b-bet you hain’t got a whole shirt on your b-b-back!”

“All right,” said I, taking off my coat and commencing to unbutton my vest. The whole company, feeling sure that I was caught, began to laugh heartily. Old Darrow fairly danced with delight, and as I laid my coat on a chair he came running up in front of me, and slapping his hands together, exclaimed:

“You needn’t t-t-take off any more c-c-c-clothes, for if it ain’t all on your b-b-back, you’ve lost it.”

“If it is, I suppose you have!” I replied, pulling the whole shirt from off my back!

Such a shriek of laughter as burst forth from the crowd I scarcely ever heard, and certainly such a blank countenance as old Darrow exhibited it would be hard to conceive. Seeing that he was most incontinently “done for,” and perceiving that his neighbor Hough had helped to do it, he ran up to him in great anger, and shaking his fist in his face, exclaimed:

“H-H-Hough, you infernal r-r-rascal, to go against your own n-n-neighbor in favor of a D-D-Danbury man. I’ll pay you for that some time, you see if I d-d-don’t.”

All hands went up to the bar and drank with a hearty good will, for it was seldom that Darrow got taken in, and he was such an inveterate joker they liked to see him paid in his own coin. Never till the day of his death did he hear the last of the “whole shirt.”




BY this time it was clear to my mind that my proper position in this busy world was not yet reached. I had displayed the faculty of getting money, as well as getting rid of it; but the business for which I was destined, and, I believe, made, had not yet come to me; or rather, I had not found that I was to cater for that insatiate want of human nature—the love of amusement; that I was to make a sensation on two continents; and that fame and fortune awaited me so soon as I should appear before the public in the character of a showman. These things I had not foreseen. I did not seek the position or the character. The business finally came in my way; I fell into the occupation, and far beyond any of my predecessors on this continent, I have succeeded.

The show business has all phases and grades of dignity, from the exhibition of a monkey to the exposition of that highest art in music or the drama, which entrances empires and secures for the gifted artist a world-wide fame which princes well might envy. Such art is merchantable, and so with the whole range of amusements, from the highest to the lowest. The old word “trade” as it applies to buying cheap and selling at a profit, is as manifest here as it is in the dealings at a street-comer stand or in Stewart’s store covering a whole square. This is a trading world, and men, women and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature. If he worthily fulfils his mission, and amuses without corrupting, he need never feel that he has lived in vain.

Whether I may claim a pre-eminence of grandeur in my career as a dispenser of entertainment for mankind, I may not say. I have sometimes been weak enough to think so, but let others judge; and whether I may assume that on the whole, I have sought to make amusement harmless, and have succeeded to a very great degree, in eliminating from public entertainments certain corruptions which have made so many theatrical “sensations” positively shameful, may safely be left, I think, to the thousands upon thousands who have known me and the character of my amusement so long and so well.

But I shall by no means claim entire faultlessness in my history as a showman. I confess that I have not always been strong enough to rise out of the exceptional ways which characterize the art of amusing—not more, however, than any other art of trade. When, in beginning business under my own name in Bethel, in 1831, I advertised that I would sell goods “25 per cent cheaper” than any of my neighbors, I was guilty of a trick of trade, but so common a trick, that very few who saw my promise were struck with a sense of any particular enormity therein, while, doubtless, a good many, who claim to be specially exemplary, thought they were reading one of their own advertisements. And in the show business I was never guilty of a greater sin than this against truthfulness and fair dealing.

The least deserving of all my efforts in the show line was the one which introduced me to the business; a scheme in no sense of my own devising; one which had been sometime before the public and which had so many vouchers for its genuineness that at the time of taking possession of it I honestly believed it to be genuine; something, too, which, as I have said, I did not seek, but which by accident came in my way and seemed almost to compel my agency—such was the “Joice Heth” exhibition which first brought me forward as a showman.

In the summer of 1835, Mr. Coley Bartram, of Reading, Connecticut, informed me that he had owned an interest in a remarkable negro woman whom he believed to be one hundred and sixty-one years old, and whom he also believed to have been the nurse of General Washington. He then showed me a copy of the following advertisement in the Pennsylvania Inquirer, of July 15, 1835:

Curiosity.—The citizens of Philadelphia and its vicinity have an opportunity of witnessing at the Masonic Hall, one of the greatest natural curiosities ever witnessed, viz: Joyce Heth, a negress, aged 161 years, who formerly belonged to the father of General Washington. She has been a member of the Baptist Church one hundred and sixteen years, and can rehearse many hymns, and sing them according to former custom. She was born near the old Potomac River in Virginia, and has for ninety or one hundred years lived in Paris, Kentucky, with the Bowling family.

All who have seen this extraordinary woman are satisfied of the truth of the account of her age. The evidence of the Bowling family, which is respectable, is strong, but the original bill of sale of Augustine Washington, in his own handwriting, and other evidences which the proprietor has in his possession, will satisfy even the most incredulous.

A lady will attend at the hall during the afternoon and evening for the accommodation of those ladies who may call.

Mr. Bartram further stated that he had sold out his interest to his partner, R. W. Lindsay, of Jefferson County, Kentucky, who was then exhibiting Joice Heth in Philadelphia, but was anxious to sell out and go home—the alleged reason being that he had very little tact as a showman. As the New York papers had also contained some account of Joice Heth, I went on to Philadelphia to see Mr. Lindsay and his exhibition.

Joice Heth was certainly a remarkable curiosity, and she looked as if she might have been far older than her age as advertised. She was apparently in good health and spirits, but from age or disease, or both, was unable to change her position; she could move one arm at will, but her lower limbs could not be straightened; her left arm lay across her breast and she could not remove it; the fingers of her left hand were drawn down so as nearly to close it, and were fixed; the nails on that hand were almost four inches long and extended above her wrist; the nails on her large toes had grown to the thickness of a quarter of an inch; her head was covered with a thick bush of grey hair; but she was toothless and totally blind and her eyes had sunk so deeply in the sockets as to have disappeared altogether.

Nevertheless she was pert and sociable, and would talk as long as people would converse with her. She was quite garrulous about her protege “dear little George,” at whose birth she declared she was present, having been at the time a slave of Elizabeth Atwood, a half-sister of Augustine Washington, the father of George Washington. As nurse she put the first clothes on the infant and she claimed to have “raised him.” She professed to be a member of the Baptist church, talking much in her way on religious subjects, and she sang a variety of ancient hymns.

In proof of her extraordinary age and pretensions, Mr. Lindsay exhibited a bill of sale, dated February 5, 1727, from Augustine Washington, County of Westmoreland, Virginia, to Elizabeth Atwood, a half-sister and neighbor of Mr. Washington, conveying “one negro woman, named Joice Heth, aged fifty-four years, for and in consideration of the sum of thirty-three pounds lawful money of Virginia.” It was further claimed that as she had long been a nurse in the Washington family she was called in at the birth of George and clothed the new-born infant. The evidence seemed authentic and in answer to the inquiry why so remarkable a discovery had not been made before, a satisfactory explanation was given in the statement that she had been carried from Virginia to Kentucky, had been on the plantation of John S. Bowling so long that no one knew or cared how old she was, and only recently the accidental discovery by Mr. Bowling’s son of the old bill of sale in the Record Office in Virginia had led to the identification of this negro woman as “the nurse of Washington.”

Everything seemed so straightforward that I was anxious to become proprietor of this novel exhibition, which was offered to me at one thousand dollars, though the price first demanded was three thousand. I had five hundred dollars, borrowed five hundred dollars more, sold out my interest in the grocery business to my partner, and began life as a showman. At the outset of my career I saw that everything depended upon getting people to think, and talk, and become curious and excited over and about the “rare spectacle.” Accordingly, posters, transparencies, advertisements, newspaper paragraphs—all calculated to extort attention—were employed, regardless of expense. My exhibition rooms in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Albany and in other large and small cities, were continually thronged and much money was made. In the following February, Joice Heth died, literally of old age, and her remains received a respectable burial in the town of Bethel.

At a post-mortem examination of Joice Heth by Dr. David L. Rogers, in the presence of some medical students, it was thought that the absence of ossification indicated considerably less age than had been assumed for her; but the doctors disagreed, and this “dark subject” will probably always continue to be shrouded in mystery.

I had at last found my true vocation. Indeed, soon after I began to exhibit Joice Heth, I had entrusted her to an agent and had entered upon my second step in the show line. The next venture, whatever it may have been in other respects, had the merit of being, in every essential, unmistakably genuine. I engaged from the Albany Museum an Italian who called himself “Signor Antonio” and who performed certain remarkable feats of balancing, stilt-walking, plate-spinning, etc. He had gone from England to Canada, and thence to Albany, and had performed in other American cities. I made terms with him for one year to exhibit anywhere in the United States at twelve dollars a week and expenses, and induced him to change his stage name to “Signor Vivalla.” I then wrote a notice of his wonderful qualities and performances, printed it in one of the Albany papers as news, sent copies to the theatrical managers in New York and in other cities, and went with Vivalla to the metropolis.

Manager William Dinneford, of the Franklin Theatre, had seen so many performances of the kind that he declined to engage my “eminent Italian artist”; but I persuaded him to try Vivalla one night for nothing and by the potent aid of printer’s ink the house was crammed. I appeared as a supernumerary to assist Vivalla in arranging his plates and other “properties”; and to hand him his gun to fire while he was hopping on one stilt ten feet high. This was “my first appearance on any stage.” The applause which followed Vivalla’s feats was tremendous, and Manager Dinneford was so delighted that he engaged him for the remainder of the week at fifty dollars. At the close of the performance, in response to a call from the house, I made a speech for Vivalla, thanking the audience for their appreciation and announcing a repetition of the exhibition every evening during the week.

Vivalla remained a second week at the Franklin Theatre, for which I received $150. I realized the same sum for a week in Boston. We then went to Washington to fulfil an engagement which was far from successful, since my remuneration depended upon the receipts, and it snowed continually during the week. I was a loser to such an extent that I had not funds enough to return to Philadelphia. I pawned my watch and chain for thirty-five dollars, when fortunately Manager Wemyss arrived on Saturday morning and loaned me the money to redeem my property.

As this was my first visit to Washington I was much interested in visiting the capitol and other public buildings. I also satisfied my curiosity in seeing Clay, Calhoun, Benton, John Quincy Adams, Richard M. Johnson, Polk, and other leading statesmen of the time. I was also greatly gratified in calling upon Anne Royall, author of the Black Book, publisher of a little paper called “Paul Pry,” and quite a celebrated personage in her day. I had exchanged The Herald of Freedom with her journal and she strongly sympathized with me in my persecutions. She was delighted to see me and although she was the most garrulous old woman I ever saw, I passed a very amusing and pleasant time with her. Before leaving her, I manifested my showman propensity by trying to hire her to give a dozen or more lectures on “Government,” in the Atlantic cities, but I could not engage her at any price, although I am sure the speculation would have been a very profitable one. I never saw this eccentric woman again; she died at a very advanced age, October 1, 1854, at her residence in Washington.

I went with Vivalla to Philadelphia and opened at the Walnut Street Theatre. Though his performances were very meritorious and were well received, theatricals were dull and houses were slim. It was evident that something must be done to stimulate the public.

And now that instinct—I think it must be—which can arouse a community and make it patronize, provided the article offered is worthy of patronage—an instinct which served me strangely in later years, astonishing the public and surprising me, came to my relief, and the help, curiously enough, appeared in the shape of an emphatic hiss from the pit!

This hiss, I discovered, came from one Roberts, a circus performer, and I had an interview with him. He was a professional balancer and juggler, who boasted that he could do all Vivalla had done and something more. I at once published a card in Vivalla’s name, offering $1000 to any one who would publicly perform Vivalla’s feats at such place as should be designated, and Roberts issued a counter card, accepting the offer. I then contracted with Mr. Warren, treasurer of the Walnut St. Theatre, for one-third of the proceeds, if I should bring the receipts up to $400 a night—an agreement he could well afford to make as his receipts the night before had been but seventy-five dollars. From him I went to Roberts, who seemed disposed to “back down,” but I told him I should not insist upon the terms of his published card, and asked him if he was under any engagement? Learning that he was not, I offered him thirty dollars to perform under my direction one night at the Walnut, and he accepted. A great trial of skill between Roberts and Vivalla was duly announced by posters and through the press. Meanwhile, they rehearsed privately to see what tricks each could perform, and the “business” was completely arranged.

Public excitement was at fever heat, and on the night of the trial the pit and upper boxes were crowded to the full; indeed sales of tickets to these localities were soon stopped, for there were no seats to sell. The “contest” between the performers, was eager and each had his party in the house. So far as I could learn, no one complained that he did not get all he paid for on that occasion. I engaged Roberts for a month and his subsequent “contests” with Vivalla amused the public and put money in my purse.

Vivalla continued to perform for me in various places, including Peale’s Museum, in New York, and I took him to different towns in Connecticut and in New Jersey, with poor success sometimes, as frequently the expenses exceeded the receipts.

In April, 1836, I connected myself with Aaron Turner’s travelling circus company as ticket-seller, secretary and treasurer, at thirty dollars a month and one-fifth of the entire profits, while Vivalla was to receive a salary of fifty dollars. As I was already paying him eighty dollars a month, our joint salaries reimbursed me and left me the chance of twenty per cent of the net receipts. We started from Danbury for West Springfield, Massachusetts, April 26th, and on the first day, instead of halting to dine, as I expected, Mr. Turner regaled the whole company with three loaves of rye bread and a pound of butter, bought at a farm house at a cost of fifty cents, and, after watering the horses, we went on our way.

We began our performances at West Springfield, April 28th, and as our expected band of music had not arrived from Providence, I made a prefatory speech announcing our disappointment, and our intention to please our patrons, nevertheless. The two Turner boys, sons of the proprietor, rode finely. Joe Pentland, one of the wittiest, best, and most original of clowns, with Vivalla’s tricks and other performances in the ring, more than made up for the lack of music. In a day or two our band arrived and our “houses” improved. My diary is full of incidents of our summer tour through numerous villages, towns, and cities in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

While we were at Cabotville, Massachusetts, on going to bed one night one of my room-mates threw a lighted stump of a cigar into a spit-box filled with sawdust and the result was that about one o’clock T. V. Turner, who slept in the room, awoke in the midst of a dense smoke and barely managed to crawl to the window to open it, and to awaken us in time to save us from suffocation.

At Lenox, Massachusetts, one Sunday I attended church as usual, and the preacher denounced our circus and all connected with it as immoral, and was very abusive; whereupon when he had read the closing hymn I walked up the pulpit stairs and handed him a written request, signed “P. T. Barnum, connected with the circus, June 5, 1836,” to be permitted to reply to him. He declined to notice it, and after the benediction I lectured him for not giving me an opportunity to vindicate myself and those with whom I was connected. The affair created considerable excitement and some of the members of the church apologized to me for their clergyman’s ill-behavior. A similar affair happened afterwards at Port Deposit, on the lower Susquehanna, and in this instance I addressed the audience for half an hour, defending the circus company against the attacks of the clergyman, and the people listened, though their pastor repeatedly implored them to go home. Often have I collected our company on Sunday and read to them the Bible or a printed sermon, and one or more of the men frequently accompanied me to church. We made no pretence of religion, but we were not the worst people in the world, and we thought ourselves entitled to at least decent treatment when we went to hear the preaching of the gospel.

The proprietor of the circus, Aaron Turner, was a self-made man, who had acquired a large fortune by his industry. He believed that any man with health and common sense could become rich if he only resolved to be so, and he was very proud of the fact that he began the world with no advantages, no education, and without a shilling. Withal, he was a practical joker, as I more than once discovered to my cost. While we were at Annapolis, Maryland, he played a trick upon me which was fun to him, but was very nearly death to me.

We arrived on Saturday night and as I felt quite “flush” I bought a fine suit of black clothes. On Sunday morning I dressed myself in my new suit and started out for a stroll. While passing through the bar-room Turner called the attention of the company present to me and said:

“I think it very singular you permit that rascal to march your streets in open day. It wouldn’t be allowed in Rhode Island, and I suppose that is the reason the black-coated scoundrel has come down this way.”

“Why, who is he?” asked half a dozen at once.

“Don’t you know? Why that is the Rev. E. K. Avery, the murderer of Miss Cornell!”

“Is it possible!” they exclaimed, all starting for the door, eager to get a look at me, and swearing vengeance.

It was only recently that the Rev. Ephraim K. Avery had been tried in Rhode Island for the murder of Miss Cornell, whose body was discovered in a stack-yard, and though Avery was acquitted in court, the general sentiment of the country condemned him. It was this Avery whom Turner made me represent. I had not walked far in my fine clothes, before I was overtaken by a mob of a dozen, which rapidly increased to at least a hundred, and my ears were suddenly saluted with such observations as, “the lecherous old hypocrite,” “the sanctified murderer,” “the black-coated villain,” “lynch the scoundrel,” “let’s tar and feather him,” and like remarks which I had no idea applied to me till one man seized me by the collar, while five or six more appeared on the scene with a rail.

“Come,” said the man who collared me, “old chap, you can’t walk any further; we know you, and as we always make gentlemen ride in these parts, you may just prepare to straddle that rail!”

My surprise may be imagined. “Good heavens!” I exclaimed, as they all pressed around me, “gentlemen, what have I done?”

“Oh, we know you,” exclaimed half a dozen voices; “you needn’t roll your sanctimonious eyes; that game don’t take in this country. Come, straddle the rail, and remember the stack-yard!”

I grew more and more bewildered; I could not imagine what possible offence I was to suffer for, and I continued to exclaim, “Gentlemen, what have I done? Don’t kill me, gentlemen, but tell me what I have done.”

“Come, make him straddle the rail; well show him how to hang poor factory girls,” shouted a man in the crowd.

The man who had me by the collar then remarked, “Come, Mr. Avery, it’s no use, you see, we know you, and we’ll give you a touch of Lynch law, and start you for home again.”

“My name is not Avery, gentlemen; you are mistaken in your man,” I exclaimed.

“Come, come, none of your gammon; straddle the rail, Ephraim.”

The rail was brought and I was about to be placed on it, when the truth flashed upon me.

“Gentlemen,” I exclaimed, “I am not Avery; I despise that villain as much as you can; my name is Barnum; I belong to the circus which arrived here last night, and I am sure Old Turner, my partner, has hoaxed you with this ridiculous story.”

“If he has we’ll lynch him,” said one of the mob.

“Well, he has, I’ll assure you, and if you will walk to the hotel with me, I’ll convince you of the fact.”

This they reluctantly assented to, keeping, however, a close hand upon me. As we walked up the main street, the mob received a re-enforcement of some fifty or sixty, and I was marched like a malefactor up to the hotel. Old Turner stood on the piazza ready to explode with laughter. I appealed to him for heaven’s sake to explain this matter, that I might be liberated. He continued to laugh, but finally told them “he believed there was some mistake about it. The fact is,” said he, “my friend Barnum has a new suit of black clothes on and he looks so much like a priest that I thought he must be Avery.”

The crowd saw the joke and seemed satisfied. My new coat had been half torn from my back and I had been very roughly handled. But some of the crowd apologized for the outrage, declaring that Turner ought to be served in the same way, while others advised me to “get even with him.” I was very much offended, and when the mob dispersed I asked Turner what could have induced him to play such a trick upon me.



“My dear Mr. Barnum,” he replied, “it was all for our good. Remember, all we need to insure success is notoriety. You will see that this will be noised all about town as a trick played by one of the circus managers upon the other, and our pavilion will be crammed to-morrow night.”

It was even so; the trick was told all over town and every one came to see the circus managers who were in a habit of playing practical jokes upon each other. We had fine audiences while we remained at Annapolis, but it was a long time before I forgave Turner for his rascally “joke.”




An amusing incident occurred when we were at Hanover Court House, in Virginia. It rained so heavily that we could not perform there and Turner decided to start for Richmond immediately after dinner, when he was informed by the landlord that as our agent had engaged three meals and lodging for the whole company, the entire bill must be paid whether we went then, or next morning. No compromise could be effected with the stubborn landlord and so Turner proceeded to get the worth of his money as follows:

He ordered dinner at twelve o’clock, which was duly prepared and eaten. The table was cleared and re-set for supper at half-past twelve. At one o’clock we all went to bed, every man carrying a lighted candle to his room. There were thirty-six of us and we all undressed and tumbled into bed as if we were going to stay all night. In half an hour we rose and went down to the hot breakfast which Turner had demanded and which we found smoking on the table. Turner was very grave, the landlord was exceedingly angry, and the rest of us were convulsed with laughter at the absurdity of the whole proceeding. We disposed of our breakfast as if we had eaten nothing for ten hours and then started for Richmond with the satisfaction that we fairly settled with our unreasonable landlord.

At Richmond, after performances were over one night, I managed to partially pay Turner for his Avery trick. A dozen or more of us were enjoying ourselves in the sitting room of the hotel, telling stories and singing songs, when some of the company proposed sundry amusing arithmetical questions, followed by one from Turner, which was readily solved. Hoping to catch Turner I then proposed the following problem:

“Suppose a man is thirty years of age and he has a child one year of age; he is thirty times older than his child. When the child is thirty years old, the father, being sixty, is only twice as old as his child. When the child is sixty the father is ninety, and therefore only one-third older than the child. When the child is ninety the father is one hundred and twenty, and therefore only one-fourth older than the child. Thus you see, the child is gradually but surely gaining on the parent, and as he certainly continues to come nearer and nearer, in time he must overtake him. The question therefore is, suppose it was possible for them to live long enough, how old would the father be when the child overtook him and became of the same age?”

The company generally saw the catch; but Turner was very much interested in the problem, and although he admitted he knew nothing about arithmetic he was convinced that as the son was gradually gaining on the father he must reach him if there was time enough—say, a thousand years, or so—for the race. But an old gentleman gravely remarked that the idea of a son becoming as old as his father while both were living was simply nonsense, and he offered to bet a dozen of champagne that the thing was impossible, even “in figures.” Turner, who was a betting man, and who thought the problem might be proved, accepted the wager; but he was soon convinced that however much the boy might relatively gain upon his father, there would always be thirty years difference in their ages. The champagne cost him $25, and he failed to see the fun of my arithmetic, though at last he acknowledged that it was a fair offset to the Avery trick.

We went from Richmond to Petersburg, and from that place to Warrenton, North Carolina, where, October 30th, my engagement expired with a profit to myself of $1,200. I now separated from the circus company, taking Vivalla, James Sanford, (a negro singer and dancer,) several musicians, horses, wagons, and a small canvas tent with which I intended to begin a travelling exhibition of my own. My company started and Turner took me on the way in his own carriage some twenty miles. We parted reluctantly and my friend wished me every success in my new venture.

On Saturday, November 12, 1836, we halted at Rocky Mount Falls, North Carolina, and on my way to the Baptist Church, Sunday morning, I noticed a stand and benches in a grove near by, and determined to speak to the people if I was permitted. The landlord who was with me said that the congregation, coming from a distance to attend a single service, would be very glad to hear a stranger and I accordingly asked the venerable clergyman to announce that after service I would speak for half an hour in the grove. Learning that I was not a clergyman, he declined to give the notice, but said that he had no objection to my making the announcement, which I did, and the congregation, numbering about three hundred, promptly came to hear me.

I told them I was not a preacher and had very little experience in public speaking; but I felt a deep interest in matters of morality and religion, and would attempt, in a plain way, to set before them the duties and privileges of man. I appealed to every man’s experience, observation and reason, to confirm the Bible doctrine of wretchedness in vice and happiness in virtue. We cannot violate the laws of God with impunity, and he will not keep back the wages of well-doing. The outside show of things is of very small account. We must look to realities and not to appearances. “Diamonds may glitter on a vicious breast,” but “the soul’s calm sunshine and the heart-felt joy is virtue’s prize.” The rogue, the passionate man, the drunkard, are not to be envied even at the best, and a conscience hardened by sin is the most sorrowful possession we can think of. I went on in this way, with some scriptural quotations and familiar illustrations, for three-quarters of an hour. At the close of my address several persons took me by the hand, expressing themselves as greatly pleased and desiring to know my name; and I went away with the feeling that possibly I might have done some good in the beautiful grove on that charming Sunday morning.

When we were at Camden, South Carolina, Sanford suddenly left me, and as I had advertised negro songs and none of my company was competent to fill Sanford’s place, not to disappoint my audience, I blacked myself and sung the advertised songs, “Zip Coon,” etc., and to my surprise was much applauded, while two of the songs were encored. One evening after singing my songs I heard a disturbance outside the tent and going to the spot found a person disputing with my men. I took part on the side of the men, when the person who was quarrelling with them drew a pistol and exclaiming, “you black scoundrel! how dare you use such language to a white man,” he proceeded to cock it. I saw that he thought I was a negro and meant to blow my brains out. Quick as thought I rolled my sleeve up, showed my skin, and said, “I am as white as you are, sir.” He dropped his pistol in positive fright and begged my pardon. My presence of mind saved me.

On four different occasions in my life I have had a loaded pistol pointed at my head and each time I have escaped death by what seemed a miracle. I have also often been in deadly peril by accidents, and when I think of these things I realize my indebtedness to an all-protecting Providence. Reviewing my career, too, and considering the kind of company I kept for years and the associations with which I was surrounded and connected, I am surprised as well as grateful that I was not ruined. I honestly believe that I owe my preservation from the degradation of living and dying a loafer and a vagabond, to the single fact that I was never addicted to strong drink. To be sure, I have in times past drank liquor, but I have generally wholly abstained from intoxicating beverages, and for more than twenty years past, I am glad to say, I have been a strict “teetotaller.”

At Camden I lost one of my musicians, a Scotchman named Cochran, who was arrested for advising the negro barber who was shaving him to run away to the Free States or to Canada. I made every effort to effect Cochran’s release, but he was imprisoned more than six months.

While I was away from home I generally wrote twice a week to my family and received letters nearly as often from my wife. One of her letters, which I received in Columbia, South Carolina, informed me it was currently reported in Connecticut that I was under sentence of death in Canada for murder! The story grew out of a rumor about a difficulty in Canada between some rowdies and a circus company—not Turner’s,—for we met his troupe at Columbia, December 5, 1836. That company was then to be disbanded and I bought four horses and two wagons and hired Joe Pentland and Robert White to join my company. White, as a negro-singer, would relieve me from that roll, and Pentland, besides being a capital clown, was celebrated as a ventriloquist, comic singer, balancer, and legerdemain performer. My re-enforced exhibition was called “Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theatre.”

Some time previously, in Raleigh, North Carolina, I had sold one-half of my establishment to a man, whom I will call Henry, who now acted as treasurer and ticket-taker. At Augusta, Georgia, the sheriff served a writ upon this Henry for a debt of $500. As Henry had $600 of the company’s money in his possession, I immediately procured a bill of sale of all his property in the exhibition and returned to the theatre where Henry’s creditor and the creditor’s lawyer were waiting for me. They demanded the keys of the stable so as to levy on the horses and wagons. I begged delay till I could see Henry, and they consented. Henry was anxious to cheat his creditor and he at once signed the bill of sale. I returned and informed the creditor that Henry refused to pay or compromise the claim. The sheriff then demanded the keys of the stable door to attach Henry’s interest in the property. “Not yet,” said I, showing a bill of sale, “you see I am in full possession of the property as entire owner. You confess that you have not yet levied on it, and if you touch my property, you do it at your peril.”

They were very much taken aback and the sheriff immediately conveyed Henry to prison. The next day I learned that Henry owed his creditors thirteen hundred dollars and that he had agreed when the Saturday evening performance was ended to hand over five hundred dollars (company money) and a bill of sale of his interest, in consideration of which one of the horses was to be ready for him to run away with, leaving me in the lurch! Learning this, I had very little sympathy for Henry and my next step was to secure the five hundred dollars he had secreted. Vivalla had obtained it from him to keep it from the sheriff; I received it from Vivalla, on Henry’s order, as a supposed means of procuring bail for him on Monday morning. I then paid the creditor the full amount obtained from Henry as the price of his half interest in the exhibition and received in return an assignment of five hundred dollars of the creditor’s claims and a guaranty that I should not be troubled by my late partner on that score. Thus, promptness of action and good luck relieved me from one of the most unpleasant positions in which I had ever been placed.

While travelling with our teams and show through a desolate part of Georgia, our advertiser, who was in advance of the party, finding the route, on one occasion, too long for us to reach a town at night, arranged with a poor widow woman named Hayes to furnish us with meals and let us lodge in her hut and out-houses. It was a beggarly place, belonging to one of the poorest of “poor whites.” Our horses were to stand out all night, and a farmer, six miles distant, was to bring a load of provender on the day of our arrival. Bills were then posted announcing a performance under a canvas tent near Widow Hayes’s, for, as a show was a rarity in that region, it was conjectured that a hundred or more small farmers and “poor whites” might be assembled and that the receipts would cover the expenses.

Meanwhile, our advertiser, who was quite a wag, wrote back informing us of the difficulties of reaching a town on that part of our route and stating that he had made arrangements for us to stay over night on the plantation of “Lady Hayes,” and that although the country was sparsely settled, we could doubtless give a profitable performance to a fair audience.

Anticipating a fine time on this noble “plantation,” we started at four o’clock in the morning so as to arrive at one o’clock, thus avoiding the heat of the afternoon. Towards noon we came to a small river where some men, whom we afterwards discovered to be down-east Yankees, from Maine, were repairing a bridge. Every flooring plank had been taken up and it was impossible for our teams to cross. “Could the bridge be fixed so that we could go over?” I inquired; “No; it would take half a day, and meantime if we must cross, there was a place about sixteen miles down the river where we could get over.” “But we can’t go so far as that; we are under engagement to perform on Lady Hayes’s place to-night and we must cross here. Fix the bridge and we will pay you handsomely.”

They wanted no money, but if we would give them some tickets to our show they thought they might do something for us. I gladly consented and in fifteen minutes we crossed that bridge. The cunning rascals had seen our posters and knew we were coming; so they had taken up the planks of the bridge and had hidden them till they had levied upon us for tickets, when the floor was re-laid in a quarter of an hour. We laughed heartily at the trick and were very glad to cross so cheaply.

Towards dinner time, we began to look out for the grand mansion of “Lady Hayes,” and seeing nothing but little huts we quietly pursued our journey. At one o’clock—the time when we should have arrived at our destination—I became impatient and riding up to a poverty-stricken hovel and seeing a ragged, barefooted old woman, with her sleeves rolled up to her shoulders, who was washing clothes in front of the door, I inquired—

“Hallo! can you tell me where Lady Hayes lives?”

The old woman raised her head, which was covered with tangled locks and matted hair, and exclaimed—


“No, Hayes, Lady Hayes; where is her plantation?”

“This is the place,” she answered; “I’m Widder Hayes and you are all to stay here to-night.”

We could not believe our ears or eyes; but after putting the dirty old woman through a severe cross-examination she finally produced a contract, signed by our advertiser, agreeing for board and lodging for the company and we found ourselves booked for the night. It appeared that our advertiser could find no better quarters in that forlorn section and he had indulged in a joke at our expense by exciting our appetites and imaginations in anticipation of the luxuries we should find in the magnificent mansion of “Lady Hayes.”

Joe Pentland grumbled, Bob White indulged in some very strong language, and Signor Vivalla laughed. He had travelled with his monkey and organ in Italy and could put up with any fare that offered. I took the disappointment philosophically, simply remarking that we must make the best of it and compensate ourselves when we reached a town next day.

When the old woman called us to dinner we crept into her hut and found that she had improvised benches at her table by placing boards upon the only four chairs in her possession, and at that, some of us were obliged to stand. The dinner consisted of a piece of boiled smoked bacon, a large dish of “greens,” and corn bread. Three plates, two knives, and three forks made up the entire table furniture and compelled a resort to our jack-knives. “A short horse is soon curried,” and dinner was speedily despatched. It did not seem possible for an audience to assemble in that forsaken quarter, and we concluded not to take the canvas tent out of the wagon.

By three o’clock, however, at least fifty persons had arrived on the ground to attend the night show and they reported “more a coming.” Accordingly we put up the tent and arranged our small stage and curtains, preparing seats for two hundred people. Those who had already arrived were mostly women, many of them from sixteen to twenty years old—poor, thin, sallow-faced creatures, wretchedly clad, some of them engaged in smoking pipes, while the rest were chewing snuff. This latter process was new to me; each chewer was provided with a short stick, softened at one end, by chewing it, and this stick was occasionally dipped into a snuff box and then stuck into the mouth, from whence it protruded like a cigar. The technical term for the proceeding is “snuff-dipping.”

Before night, stragglers had brought the number of people on Lady Hayes’ plantation up to one hundred, and soon after dark, we opened our exhibition to an audience of about two hundred. The men were a pale, haggard set of uncombed, uncouth creatures, whose constantly-moving jaws and the streams of colored saliva exuding from the corners of their mouths indicated that they were confirmed tobacco chewers. I never saw a more stupid and brutish assemblage of human beings. The performance delighted them; Pentland’s sleight-of-hand tricks astonished them and led them to declare that he must be in league with the evil one; Signor Vivalla’s ball-tossing and plate spinning elicited their loudest applause; and Bob White’s negro songs and break-downs made them fairly scream with laughter.

At last, the performance terminated and Pentland stepped forward and delivered the closing address, which he had repeated, word for word, a hundred times, and which was precisely as follows:

“Ladies and Gentlemen: The entertainments of the evening have now come to a conclusion, and, we hope, to your general satisfaction.”

But now came a dilemma; the meaning of this announcement was quite above the comprehension of the audience; they had not the remotest idea that the performance was finished, and they sat like statues.

With a hearty laugh at Pentland I told him that his language was not understood in this locality and that he must try again. He was chagrined, and declared that he would not say another word. Little Vivalla laughed, danced around like a monkey, and said, in his broken English:

“Ah, ha! Signor Pentland; you no speak good Eenglish, hah! These educated peoples no understand you, eh? By gar what d——d fools. Ah, Signor Barnum, let me speaks to them; I will make them jump double queek.”

I quite enjoyed the fun and said, “Well, Signor, go ahead.”

The little Italian jumped upon the stage and with a broad grimace and tremendous gesture exclaimed—

“Eet is feenish!”

He then retired behind the curtain, but, of course, the audience did not understand that he had told them the performance was finished. No one would have understood him. Hence, the spectators sat still, wondering what would come next. “By gar,” said Vivalla, losing his temper, “I will give them a hint,” and he loosened the cord and down fell the curtain on one side of the stage.

“Good, good,” cried out an enthusiastic “poor white,” giving his quid a fresh roll to the other side of his mouth, “now we are going to have something new.”

“I reckon they’s totin’ that plunder off to get ready for a dance,” said a delicate “dipper,” making a lunge into her box for another mouthful of the dust.

Things were becoming serious, and I saw that in order to get rid of these people they must be addressed in plain language; so, walking upon the stage, I simply said, making at the same time a motion for them to go,—

“It is all over; no more performance; the show is out.”

This was understood, but they still stood upon the order of their going and were loth to leave, especially as the, to them, extraordinary announcements of Pentland and Vivalla had prepared them for something fresh. Several days before, our band of musicians had left us, reducing our orchestra to an organ and pipes, ground and blown by an Italian whom we had picked up on the road. We had, in addition, a large bass drum, with no one to beat it, and this drum was espied by some of the audience in going out. Very soon I was waited upon by a masculine committee of three, who informed me that “the young ladies were very anxious to hear a tune on the big drum.” Pentland heard the request and replied, “I will accommodate the young ladies,” and strapping on the drum he took a stick in each hand and began to pound tremendously. Occasionally he would rap the sticks together, toss one of them into the air, catching it as it came down, and then pound away again like mad. In fact, he cut up all sorts of pranks with that big drum and when he was tired out and stopped, he was gratified at being told by the “young ladies” that they had never heard a big drum before, but he “played it splendid,” and they thought it was altogether the best part of the entire performance!

The next forenoon we arrived at Macon, and congratulated ourselves that we had again reached the regions of civilization.

In going from Columbus, Georgia, to Montgomery, Alabama, we were obliged to cross a thinly-settled, desolate tract, known as the “Indian Nation,” and as several persons had been murdered by hostile Indians in that region, it was deemed dangerous to travel the road without an escort. Only the day before we started, the mail stage had been stopped and the passengers murdered, the driver alone escaping. We were well armed, however, and trusted that our numbers would present too formidable a force to be attacked, though we dreaded to incur the risk. Vivalla alone was fearless and was ready to encounter fifty Indians and drive them into the swamp.

Accordingly, when we had safely passed over the entire route to within fourteen miles of Montgomery, and were beyond the reach of danger, Joe Pentland determined to test Vivalla’s bravery. He had secretly purchased at Mount Megs, on the way, an old Indian dress with a fringed hunting shirt and moccasins and these he put on, after coloring his face with Spanish brown. Then, shouldering his musket he followed Vivalla and the party and, approaching stealthily, leaped into their midst with a tremendous whoop.

Vivalla’s companions were in the secret, and they instantly fled in all directions. Vivalla himself ran like a deer and Pentland after him, gun in hand and yelling horribly. After running a full mile the poor little Italian, out of breath and frightened nearly to death, dropped on his knees and begged for his life. The “Indian” levelled his gun at his victim, but soon seemed to relent and signified that Vivalla should turn his pockets inside out—which he did, producing and handing over a purse, containing eleven dollars. The savage then marched Vivalla to an oak and with a handkerchief tied him in the most approved Indian manner to the tree, leaving him half dead with fright.

Pentland then joined us, and washing his face and changing his dress, we all went to the relief of Vivalla. He was overjoyed to see us, and when he was released his courage returned; he swore that after his companions left him the Indian had been re-enforced by six more to whom, in default of a gun or other means to defend himself, Vivalla had been compelled to surrender. We pretended to believe his story for a week and then told him the joke, which he refused to credit, and also declined to take the money which Pentland offered to return, as it could not possibly be his since seven Indians had taken his money. We had a great deal of fun over Vivalla’s courage, but the matter made him so cross and surly that we were finally obliged to drop it altogether. From that time forward, however, Vivalla never boasted of his prowess.

We arrived at Montgomery, February 28th, 1837. Here I met Henry Hawley a legerdemain performer, about forty-five years of age, but as he was prematurely gray he looked at least seventy, and I sold him one-half of my exhibition. He had a ready wit, a happy way of localizing his tricks, was very popular in that part of the country, where he had been performing for several years, and I never saw him nonplussed but once. This was when he was performing on one occasion the well-known egg and bag trick, which he did with his usual success, producing egg after egg from the bag and



finally breaking one to show that they were genuine. “Now,” said Hawley, “I will show you the old hen that laid them.” It happened, however, that the negro boy to whom had been intrusted the duty of supplying the bag had made a slight mistake which was manifest when Hawley triumphantly produced, not “the old hen that laid the eggs,” but a rooster! The whole audience was convulsed with laughter and the abashed Hawley retreated to the dressing room cursing the stupidity of the black boy who had been paid to put a hen in the bag.

After performing in different places in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee, we disbanded at Nashville in May, 1837, Vivalla going to New York, where he performed on his own account for a while previous to sailing for Cuba, Hawley staying in Tennessee to look after our horses which had been turned out to grass, and I returning home to spend a few weeks with my family.

Early in July, returning west with a new company of performers, I rejoined Hawley and we began our campaign in Kentucky. We were not successful; one of our small company was incompetent; another was intemperate—both were dismissed; and our negro-singer was drowned in the river at Frankfort. Funds were low and I was obliged to leave pledges here and there, in payment for bills, which I afterwards redeemed. Hawley and I dissolved in August and making a new partnership with Z. Graves, I left him in charge of the establishment and went to Tiffin, Ohio, where I re-engaged Joe Pentland, buying his horses and wagons and taking him, with several musicians, to Kentucky.

During my short stay at Tiffin, a religious conversation at the hotel introduced me to several gentlemen who requested me to lecture on the subjects we had discussed, and I did so to a crowded audience in the school-house Sunday afternoon and evening. At the solicitation of a gentleman from Republic, I also delivered two lectures in that town on the evenings of September 4th and 5th.

On our way to Kentucky, just before we reached Cincinnati, we met a drove of hogs and one of the drivers making an insolent remark because our wagons interfered with his swine, I replied in the same vein, when he dismounted and pointing a pistol at my breast swore he would shoot me if I did not apologize. I begged him to permit me to consult with a friend in the next wagon, and the misunderstanding should be satisfactorily settled. My friend was a loaded double-barreled gun which I pointed at him and said:

“Now, sir, you must apologize, for your brains are in danger. You drew a weapon upon me for a trivial remark. You seem to hold human life at a cheap price; and now, sir, you have the choice between a load of shot and an apology.”

This led to an apology and a friendly conversation in which we both agreed that many a life is sacrificed in sudden anger because one or both of the contending parties carry deadly weapons.

In our subsequent southern tour we exhibited at Nashville (where I visited General Jackson, at the Hermitage), Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Vicksburg and intermediate places, doing tolerably well. At Vicksburg we sold all our land conveyances, excepting the band wagon and four horses, bought the steamboat “Ceres” for six thousand dollars, hired the captain and crew, and started down the river to exhibit at places on the way. At Natchez our cook left us and in the search for another I found a white widow who would go, only she expected to marry a painter. I called on the painter who had not made up his mind whether to marry the widow or not, but I told him if he would marry her the next morning I would hire her at twenty-five dollars a month as cook, employ him at the same wages as painter, with board for both, and a cash bonus of fifty dollars. There was a wedding on board the next day and we had a good cook and a good dinner.

During one of our evening performances at Francisville, Louisiana, a man tried to pass me at the door of the tent, claiming that he had paid for admittance. I refused him entrance; and as he was slightly intoxicated he struck me with a slung shot, mashing my hat and grazing what phrenologists call “the organ of caution.” He went away and soon returned with a gang of armed and half-drunken companions who ordered us to pack up our “traps and plunder” and to get on board our steamboat within an hour. The big tent speedily came down. No one was permitted to help us, but the company worked with a will and within five minutes of the expiration of the hour we were on board and ready to leave. The scamps who had caused our departure escorted us and our last load, waving pine torches, and saluted us with a hurrah as we swung into the stream.

The New Orleans papers of March 19, 1838, announced the arrival of the “Steamer Ceres, Captain Barnum, with a theatrical company.” After a week’s performances, we started for the Attakapas country. At Opelousas we exchanged the steamer for sugar and molasses; our company was disbanded, and I started for home, arriving in New York, June 4, 1838.




I HAVE said that the show business has as many grades of dignity as trade, which ranges all the way from the mammoth wholesale establishment down to the corner stand. The itinerant amusement business is at the bottom of the ladder. I had begun there, but I had no wish to stay there; in fact, I was thoroughly disgusted with the trade of a travelling showman, and although I felt that I could succeed in that line, yet I always regarded it, not as an end, but as a means to something better.

Longing now for some permanent respectable business, I advertised for a partner, stating that I had $2,500 to invest and would add my unremitting personal attention to the capital and the business. This advertisement gave me an altogether new insight into human nature. Whoever wishes to know how some people live, or want to live, let him advertise for a partner, at the same time stating that he has a large or small capital to invest. I was flooded with answers to my advertisements and received no less than ninety-three different propositions for the use of my capital. Of these, at least one-third were from porter-house keepers. Brokers, pawnbrokers, lottery-policy dealers, patent medicine men, inventors, and others also made application. Some of my correspondents declined to specifically state the nature of their business, but they promised to open the door to untold wealth.

I had interviews with some of these mysterious million-makers. One of them was a counterfeiter, who, after much hesitation and pledges of secrecy showed me some counterfeit coin and bank notes; he wanted $2,500 to purchase paper and ink and to prepare new dies, and he actually proposed that I should join him in the business which promised, he declared, a safe and rich harvest. Another sedate individual, dressed in Quaker costume, wanted me to join him in an oat speculation. By buying a horse and wagon and by selling oats, bought at wholesale, in bags, he thought a good business could be done, especially as people would not be particular to measure after a Quaker.

“Do you mean to cheat in measuring your oats?” I asked.

“O, I should probably make them hold out,” he answered, with a leer.

One application came from a Pearl street wool merchant, who failed a month afterwards. Then came a “perpetual motion” man who had a fortune-making machine, in which I discovered a main-spring slyly hid in a hollow post, the spring making perpetual motion—till it ran down. Finally, I went into partnership with a German, named Proler, who was a manufacturer of paste-blacking, water-proof paste for leather, Cologne water and bear’s grease. We took the store No. 101½ Bowery, at a rent (including the dwelling) of $600 per annum, and opened a large manufactory of the above articles. Proler manufactured and sold the goods at wholesale in Boston, Charleston, Cleveland, and various other parts of the country. I kept the accounts, and attended to sales in the store, wholesale and retail. For a while the business seemed to prosper—at least till my capital was absorbed and notes for stock began to fall due, with nothing to meet them, since we had sold our goods on long credits. In January, 1840, I dissolved partnership with Proler, he buying the entire interest for $2,600 on credit, and then running away to Rotterdam without paying his note, and leaving me nothing but a few recipes. Proler was a good-looking, plausible, promising—scamp.

During my connection with Proler, I became acquainted with a remarkable young dancer named John Diamond. He was one of the first and best of the numerous negro and “break-down” dancers who have since surprised and amused the public, and I entered into an engagement with his father for his services, putting Diamond in the hands of an agent, as I did not wish to appear in the transaction. In the spring of 1840, I hired and opened the Vauxhall Garden saloon, in New York, and gave a variety of performances, including singing, dancing, Yankee stories, etc. In this saloon Miss Mary Taylor, afterwards so celebrated as an actress and singer, made her first appearance on the stage. The enterprise, however, did not meet my expectation and I relinquished it in August.

What was to be done next? I dreaded resuming the life of an itinerant showman, but funds were low, I had a family to care for, and as nothing better presented I made up my mind to endure the vexations and uncertainties of a tour in the West and South. I collected a company, consisting of Mr. C. D. Jenkins, an excellent singer and delineator of Yankee and other characters; Master John Diamond, the dancer; Francis Lynch, an orphan vagabond, fourteen years old, whom I picked up at Troy, and a fiddler. My brother-in-law, Mr. John Hallett, preceded us as agent and advertiser, and our route passed through Buffalo, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Ottawa, Springfield, the intermediate places, and St. Louis, where I took the steamboat for New Orleans with a company reduced by desertions to Master Diamond and the fiddler.

Arriving in New Orleans, January 2, 1841, I had but $100 in my purse, and I had started from New York four months before with quite as much in my pocket. Excepting some small remittances to my family I had made nothing more than current expenses; and, when I had been in New Orleans a fortnight, funds were so low that I was obliged to pledge my watch as security for my board bill. But on the 16th, I received from the St. Charles Theatre $500 as my half share of Diamond’s benefit; the next night I had $50; and the third night $479 was my share of the proceeds of a grand dancing match at the theatre between Diamond and a negro dancer from Kentucky. Subsequent engagements at Vicksburg and Jackson were not so successful, but returning to New Orleans we again succeeded admirably and afterwards at Mobile. Diamond, however, after extorting considerable sums of money from me, finally ran away, and, March 12th, I started homeward by way of the Mississippi and the Ohio.

While I was in New Orleans I made the acquaintance of that genial man, Tyrone Power, who was just concluding an engagement at the St. Charles Theatre. In bidding me farewell, he wished me every success and hoped we should meet again. Alas, poor Power! All the world knows how he set sail from our shores, and he and his ship were never seen again. Fanny Ellsler was also in New Orleans, and when I saw seats in the dress circle sold at an average of four dollars and one-half, I gave her agent, Chevalier Henry Wyckoff, great credit for exciting public enthusiasm to the highest pitch and I thought the prices enormous. I did not dream then that, within twelve years, I should be selling tickets in the same city for full five times that sum.

At Pittsburg, where I arrived March 30th, I learned that Jenkins, who had enticed Francis Lynch away from me at St. Louis, was exhibiting him at the Museum under the name of “Master Diamond,” and visiting the performance, the next day I wrote Jenkins an ironical review for which he threatened suit and he actually instigated R. W. Lindsay, from whom I hired Joice Heth in Philadelphia in 1835, and whom I had not seen since, though he was then residing in Pittsburg, to sue me for a pipe of brandy which, it was pretended, was promised in addition to the money paid him. I was required to give bonds of $500, which, as I was among strangers, I could not immediately procure, and I was accordingly thrown into jail till four o’clock in the afternoon, when I was liberated. The next day I caused the arrest of Jenkins for trespass in assuming Master Diamond’s name and reputation for Master Lynch, and he was sent to jail till four o’clock in the afternoon. Each having had his turn at this amusement, we adjourned our controversy to New York where I beat him. As for Lindsay, I heard nothing more of his claim or him till twelve years afterwards when he called on me in Boston with an apology. He was very poor and I was highly prosperous, and I may add that Lindsay did not lack a friend.

I arrived in New York, April 23rd, 1841, after an absence of eight months; finding my family in good health, I resolved once more that I would never again be an itinerant showman. Three days afterwards I contracted with Robert Sears, the publisher, for five hundred copies of “Sears’ Pictorial Illustrations of the Bible,” at $500, and accepting the United States agency, I opened an office, May 10th, at the corner of Beekman and Nassau Streets, the site of the present Nassau Bank. I had had a limited experience with that book in this way: When I was in Pittsburg, an acquaintance, Mr. C. D. Harker, was complaining that he had nothing to do, when I picked up a New York paper and saw the advertisement of “Sears’s Pictorial Illustrations of the Bible, price $2 a copy.” Mr. Harker thought he could get subscribers, and I bought him a specimen copy, agreeing to furnish him with as many as he wanted at $1.37½ a copy, though I had never before seen the work and did not know the wholesale price. The result was that he obtained eighty subscribers in two days, and made $50. My own venture in the work was not so successful; I advertised largely, had plenty of agents, and, in six months, sold thousands of copies; but irresponsible agents used up all my profits and my capital.

While engaged in this business I once more leased Vauxhall saloon, opening it June 14th, 1841, employing Mr. John Hallett, my brother-in-law, as manager under my direction, and at the close of the season, September 25th, we had cleared about two hundred dollars. This sum was soon exhausted, and with my family on my hands and no employment I was glad to do anything that would keep the wolf from the door. I wrote advertisements and notices for the Bowery Amphitheatre, receiving for the service four dollars a week, which I was very glad to get, and I also wrote articles for the Sunday papers, deriving a fair remuneration and managing to get a living. But I was at the bottom round of fortune’s ladder, and it was necessary to make an effort which would raise me above want.

I was specially stimulated to this effort by a letter which I received, about this time, from my esteemed friend, Hon. Thomas T. Whittlesey, of Danbury. He held a mortgage of five hundred dollars on a piece of property I owned in that place, and, as he was convinced that I would never lay up anything, he wrote me that I might as well pay him then as ever. This letter made me resolve to live no longer from hand to mouth, but to concentrate my energies upon laying up something for the future.

While I was forming this practical determination I was much nearer to its realization than my most sanguine hopes could have predicted. The road to fortune was close by. Without suspecting it, I was about to enter upon an enterprise, which, while giving full scope for whatever tact, industry and pluck I might possess, was to take me from the foot of the ladder and place me many rounds above.

As outside clerk for the Bowery Amphitheatre I had casually learned that the collection of curiosities comprising Scudder’s American Museum, at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street, was for sale. It belonged to the daughters of Mr. Scudder, and was conducted for their benefit by John Furzman, under the authority of Mr. John Heath, administrator. The price asked for the entire collection was fifteen thousand dollars. It had cost its founder, Mr. Scudder, probably fifty thousand dollars, and from the profits of the establishment he had been able to leave a large competency to his children. The Museum, however, had been for several years a losing concern, and the heirs were anxious to sell it. Looking at this property, I thought I saw that energy, tact and liberality, were only needed to make it a paying institution, and I determined to purchase it if possible.

“You buy the American Museum!” said a friend, who knew the state of my funds, “what do you intend buying it with?”

“Brass,” I replied, “for silver and gold have I none.”

The Museum building belonged to Mr. Francis W. Olmsted, a retired merchant, to whom I wrote stating my desire to buy the collection, and that although I had no means, if it could, be purchased upon reasonable credit, I was confident that my tact and experience, added to a determined devotion to business, would enable me to make the payments when due. I therefore asked him to purchase the collection in his own name; to give me a writing securing it to me provided I made the payments punctually, including the rent of his building; to allow me twelve dollars and a half a week on which to support my family; and if at any time I failed to meet the instalment due, I would vacate the premises and forfeit all that might have been paid to that date. “In fact, Mr. Olmsted,” I continued in my earnestness, “you may bind me in any way, and as tightly as you please—only give me a chance to dig out, or scratch out, and I will do so or forfeit all the labor and trouble I may have incurred.”

In reply to this letter, which I took to his house myself, he named an hour when I could call on him, and as I was there at the exact moment, he expressed himself pleased with my punctuality. He inquired closely as to my habits and antecedents, and I frankly narrated my experiences as a caterer for the public, mentioning my amusement ventures in Vauxhall Garden, the circus, and in the exhibitions I had managed at the South and West.

“Who are your references?” he inquired.

“Any man in my line,” I replied, “from Edmund Simpson, manager of the Park Theatre, or William Niblo, to Messrs. Welch, June, Titus, Turner, Angevine, or other circus or menagerie proprietors; also Moses Y. Beach, of the New York Sun.

“Can you get any of them to call on me?” he continued.

I told him that I could, and the next day my friend Niblo rode down and had an interview with Mr. Olmsted, while Mr. Beach and several other gentlemen also called, and the following morning I waited upon him for his decision.

“I don’t like your references, Mr. Barnum,” said Mr. Olmsted, abruptly, as soon as I entered the room.

I was confused, and said “I regretted to hear it.”

“They all speak too well of you,” he added, laughing; “in fact they all talk as if they were partners of yours, and intended to share the profits.”

Nothing could have pleased me better. He then asked me what security I could offer in case he concluded to make the purchase for me, and it was finally agreed that, if he should do so, he should retain the property till it was entirely paid for, and should also appoint a ticket-taker and accountant (at my expense), who should render him a weekly statement. I was further to take an apartment hitherto used as a billiard room in an adjoining building, allowing therefor, $500 a year, making a total rent of $3,000 per annum, on a lease of ten years. He then told me to see the administrator and heirs of the estate, to get their best terms, and to meet him on his return to town a week from that time.

I at once saw Mr. John Heath, the administrator, and his price was $15,000. I offered $10,000, payable in seven annual instalments, with good security. After several interviews, it was finally agreed that I should have it for $12,000, payable as above—possession to be given on the 15th November. Mr. Olmsted assented to this, and a morning was appointed to draw and sign the writings. Mr. Heath appeared, but said he must decline proceeding any farther in my case, as he had sold the collection to the directors of Peale’s Museum (an incorporated institution), for $15,000, and had received $1,000 in advance.

I was shocked, and appealed to Mr. Heath’s honor. He said that he had signed no writing with me; was in no way legally bound, and that it was his duty to do the best he could for the heirs. Mr. Olmsted was sorry, but could not help me; the new tenants would not require him to incur any risk, and my matter was at an end.

Of course, I immediately informed myself as to the character of Peale’s Museum company. It proved to be a band of speculators who had bought Peale’s collection for a few thousand dollars, expecting to join the American Museum with it, issue and sell stock to the amount of $50,000, pocket $30,000 profits, and permit the stockholders to look out for themselves.

I went immediately to several of the editors, including Major M. M. Noah, M. Y. Beach, my good friends West, Herrick and Ropes, of the Atlas, and others, and stated my grievances. “Now,” said I, “if you will grant me the use of your columns, I’ll blow that speculation sky-high.” They all consented, and I wrote a large number of squibs, cautioning the public against buying the Museum stock, ridiculing the idea of a board of broken-down bank directors engaging in the exhibition of stuffed monkey and gander skins; appealing to the case of the Zoölogical Institute, which had failed by adopting such a plan as the one now proposed; and finally I told the public that such a speculation would be infinitely more ridiculous than Dickens’s “Grand United Metropolitan Hot Muffin and Crumpet-baking and Punctual Delivery Company.”

The stock was as “dead as a herring!” I then went to Mr. Heath and asked him when the directors were to pay the other $14,000. “On the 26th day of December, or forfeit the $1,000 already paid,” was the reply. I assured him that they would never pay it, that they could not raise it, and that he would ultimately find himself with the Museum collection on his hands, and if once I started off with an exhibition for the South, I would not touch the Museum at any price. “Now,” said I, “if you will agree with me confidentially, that in case these gentlemen do not pay you on the 26th of December, I may have it on the 27th for $12,000, I will run the risk, and wait in this city until that date.” He readily agreed to the proposition, but said he was sure they would not forfeit their $1,000.

“Very well,” said I; “all I ask of you is, that this arrangement shall not be mentioned.” He assented. “On the 27th day of December, at ten o’clock A. M., I wish you to meet me in Mr. Olmsted’s apartments, prepared to sign the writings, provided this incorporated company do not pay you $14,000 on the 26th.” He agreed to this, and by my request put it in writing.

From that moment I felt that the Museum was mine. I saw Mr. Olmsted, and told him so. He promised secrecy, and agreed to sign the documents if the other parties did not meet their engagement.

This was about November 15th, and I continued my shower of newspaper squibs at the new company, which could not sell a dollar’s worth of its stock. Meanwhile, if any one spoke to me about the Museum, I simply replied that I had lost it.




MY newspaper squib war against the Peale combination was vigorously kept up; when one morning, about the first of December, I received a letter from the Secretary of that company (now calling itself the “New York Museum Company,”) requesting me to meet the directors at the Museum on the following Monday morning. I went, and found the directors in session. The venerable president of the board, who was also the ex-president of a broken bank, blandly proposed to hire me to manage the united museums, and though I saw that he merely meant to buy my silence, I professed to entertain the proposition, and in reply to an inquiry as to what salary I should expect, I specified the sum of $3,000 a year. This was at once acceded to, the salary to begin January 1, 1842, and after complimenting me on my ability, the president remarked: “Of course, Mr. Barnum, we shall have no more of your squibs through the newspapers”—to which I replied that I should “ever try to serve the interests of my employers,” and I took my leave.

It was as clear to me as noonday that after buying my silence so as to appreciate their stock, these directors meant to sell out to whom they could, leaving me to look to future stockholders for my salary. They thought, no doubt, that they had nicely entrapped me, but I knew I had caught them.

For, supposing me to be out of the way, and having no other rival purchaser, these directors postponed the advertisement of their stock to give people time to forget the attacks I had made on it, and they also took their own time for paying the money promised to Mr. Heath, December 26th—indeed, they did not even call on him at the appointed time. But on the following morning, as agreed, I was promptly and hopefully at Mr. Olmstead’s apartments with my legal adviser, at half-past nine o’clock; Mr. Heath came with his lawyer at ten, and before two o’clock that day I was in formal possession of the American Museum. My first managerial act was to write and despatch the following complimentary note:

American Museum, New York, Dec. 27, 1841.

To the President and Directors of the New York Museum:

Gentlemen:—It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you are placed upon the Free List of this establishment until further notice.

P. T. Barnum, Proprietor.

It is unnecessary to say that the “President of the New York Museum” was astounded, and when he called upon Mr. Heath, and learned that I had bought and was really in possession of the American Museum, he was indignant. He talked of prosecution, and demanded the $1,000 paid on his agreement, but he did not prosecute, and he justly forfeited his deposit money.

And now that I was proprietor and manager of the American Museum I had reached a new epoch in my career which I felt was the beginning of better days, though the full significance of this important step I did not see. I was still in the show business, but in a settled, substantial phase of it, that invited industry and enterprise, and called for ever earnest and ever heroic endeavor. Whether I should sink or swim depended wholly upon my own energy. I must pay for the establishment within a stipulated time, or forfeit it with whatever I had paid on account. I meant to make it my own, and brains, hands and every effort were devoted to the interests of the Museum.

The nucleus of this establishment, Scudder’s Museum, was formed in 1810, the year in which I was born. It was begun in Chatham Street, and was afterwards transferred to the old City Hall, and from small beginnings, by purchases, and to a considerable degree by presents, it had grown to be a large and valuable collection. People in all parts of the country had sent in relics and rare curiosities; sea captains, for years, had brought and deposited strange things from foreign lands; and besides all these gifts, I have no doubt that the previous proprietor had actually expended, as was stated, $50,000 in making the collection. No one could go through the halls, as they were when they came under my proprietorship, and see one-half there was worth seeing in a single day; and then, as I always justly boasted afterwards, no one could visit my Museum and go away without feeling that he had received the full worth of his money. In looking over the immense collection, the accumulation of so many years, I saw that it was only necessary to properly present its merits to the public, to make it the most attractive and popular place of resort and entertainment in the United States.

Valuable as the collection was when I bought it, it was only the beginning of the American Museum as I made it. In my long proprietorship I considerably more than doubled the permanent attractions and curiosities of the establishment. In 1842, I bought and added to my collection the entire contents of Peale’s Museum; in 1850, I purchased the large Peale collection in Philadelphia; and year after year, I bought genuine curiosities, regardless of cost, wherever I could find them, in Europe or America.

At the very outset, I was determined to deserve success. My plan of economy included the intention to support my family in New York on $600 a year, and my treasure of a wife not only gladly assented, but was willing to reduce the sum to $400, if necessary. Some six months after I had bought the Museum, Mr. Olmsted happened in at my ticket-office at noon and found me eating a frugal dinner of cold corned beef and bread, which I had brought from home.

“Is this the way you eat your dinner?” he asked.

“I have not eaten a warm dinner, except on Sundays,” I replied, “since I bought the Museum, and I never intend to, on a week day, till I am out of debt.”

“Ah!” said he, clapping me on the shoulder, “you are safe, and will pay for the Museum before the year is out.”

And he was right, for within twelve months I was in full possession of the property as my own and it was entirely paid for from the profits of the business.

In 1865, the space occupied for my Museum purposes was more than double what it was in 1842. The Lecture Room, originally narrow, ill-contrived and inconvenient, was so enlarged and improved that it became one of the most commodious and beautiful amusement halls in the City of New York. At first, my attractions and inducements were merely the collection of curiosities by day, and an evening entertainment, consisting of such variety performances as were current in ordinary shows. Then Saturday afternoons, and, soon afterwards, Wednesday afternoons were devoted to entertainments and the popularity of the Museum grew so rapidly that I presently found it expedient and profitable to open the great Lecture Room every afternoon, as well as every evening, on every week-day in the year. The first experiments in this direction, more than justified my expectations, for the day exhibitions were always more thronged than those of the evening. Of course I made the most of the holidays, advertising extensively and presenting extra inducements; nor did attractions elsewhere seem to keep the crowd from coming to the Museum. On great holidays, I gave as many as twelve performances to as many different audiences.

By degrees the character of the stage performances was changed. The transient attractions of the Museum were constantly diversified, and educated dogs, industrious fleas, automatons, jugglers, ventriloquists, living statuary, tableaux, gipsies, Albinoes, fat boys, giants, dwarfs, rope-dancers, live “Yankees,” pantomime, instrumental music, singing and dancing in great variety, dioramas, panoramas, models of Niagara, Dublin, Paris, and Jerusalem; Hannington’s dioramas of the Creation, the Deluge, Fairy Grotto, Storm at Sea; the first English Punch and Judy in this country, Italian Fantoccini, mechanical figures, fancy glass-blowing, knitting machines and other triumphs in the mechanical arts; dissolving views, American Indians, who enacted their warlike and religious ceremonies on the stage,—these, among others, were all exceedingly successful.

I thoroughly understood the art of advertising, not merely by means of printer’s ink, which I have always used freely, and to which I confess myself so much indebted for my success, but by turning every possible circumstance to my account. It was my monomania to make the Museum the town wonder and town talk. I often seized upon an opportunity by instinct, even before I had a very definite conception as to how it should be used, and it seemed, somehow, to mature itself and serve my purpose. As an illustration, one morning a stout, hearty-looking man, came into my ticket-office and begged some money. I asked him why he did not work and earn his living? He replied that he could get nothing to do and that he would be glad of any job at a dollar a day. I handed him a quarter of a dollar, told him to go and get his breakfast and return, and I would employ him at light labor at a dollar and a half a day. When he returned I gave him five common bricks.

“Now,” said I, “go and lay a brick on the sidewalk at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street; another close by the Museum; a third diagonally across the way at the corner of Broadway and Vesey Street, by the Astor House: put down the fourth on the sidewalk in front of St Paul’s Church, opposite; then, with the fifth brick in hand, take up a rapid march from one point to the other, making the circuit, exchanging your brick at every point, and say nothing to any one.”

“What is the object of this?” inquired the man.

“No matter,” I replied; “all you need to know is that it brings you fifteen cents wages per hour. It is a bit of my fun, and to assist me properly you must seem to be as deaf as a post; wear a serious countenance; answer no questions; pay no attention to any one; but attend faithfully to the work and at the end of every hour by St. Paul’s clock show this ticket at the Museum door; enter, walking solemnly through every hall in the building; pass out, and resumé your work.”

With the remark that it was “all one to him, so long as he could earn his living,” the man placed his bricks and began his round. Half an hour afterwards, at least five hundred people were watching his mysterious movements. He had assumed a military step and bearing, and looking as sober as a judge, he made no response whatever to the constant inquiries as to the object of his singular conduct. At the end of the first hour, the sidewalks in the vicinity were packed with people all anxious to solve the mystery. The man, as directed, then went into the Museum, devoting fifteen minutes to a solemn survey of the halls, and afterwards returning to his round. This was repeated every hour till sundown and whenever the man went into the Museum a dozen or more persons would buy tickets and follow him, hoping to gratify their curiosity in regard to the purpose of his movements. This was continued for several days—the curious people who followed the man into the Museum considerably more than paying his wages—till finally the policeman, to whom I had imparted my object, complained that the obstruction of the sidewalk by crowds had become so serious that I must call in my “brick man.” This trivial incident excited considerable talk and amusement; it advertised me; and it materially advanced my purpose of making a lively corner near the Museum.

I am tempted to relate some of the incidents and anecdotes which attended my career as owner and manager of the Museum. The stories illustrating merely my introduction of novelties would more than fill this book, but I must make room for a few of them.

An actor, named La Rue, presented himself as an imitator of celebrated histrionic personages, including Macready, Forrest, Kemble, the elder Booth, Kean, Hamblin, and others. Taking him into the green-room for a private rehearsal, and finding his imitations excellent, I engaged him. For three nights he gave great satisfaction, but early in the fourth evening he staggered into the Museum so drunk that he could hardly stand, and in half an hour he must be on the stage! Calling an assistant, we took La Rue between us, and marched him up Broadway as far as Chambers Street, and back to the lower end of the Park, hoping to sober him. At this point we put his head under a pump, and gave him a good ducking, with visible beneficial effect,—then a walk around the Park, and another ducking,—when he assured me that he should be able to give his imitations “to a charm.”

“You drunken brute,” said I, “if you fail, and disappoint my audience, I will throw you out of the window.”

He declared that he was “all right,” and I led him behind the scenes, where I waited with considerable trepidation to watch his movements on the stage. He began by saying:

“Ladies and gentlemen: I will now give you an imitation of Mr. Booth, the eminent tragedian.”

His tongue was thick, his language somewhat incoherent, and I had great misgivings as he proceeded; but as no token of disapprobation came from the audience, I began to hope he would go through with his parts without exciting suspicion of his condition. But before he had half finished his representation of Booth, in the soliloquy in the opening act of Richard III., the house discovered that he was very drunk, and began to hiss. This only seemed to stimulate him to make an effort to appear sober, which, as is usual in such cases, only made matters worse, and the hissing increased. I lost all patience, and going on the stage and taking the drunken fellow by the collar, I apologized to the audience, assuring them that he should not appear before them again. I was about to march him off, when he stepped to the front, and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Booth often appeared on the stage in a state of inebriety, and I was simply giving you a truthful representation of him on such occasions. I beg to be permitted to proceed with my imitations.”

The audience at once supposed it was all right, and cried out, “go on, go on”; which he did, and at every imitation of Booth, whether as Richard, Shylock, or Sir Giles Overreach, he received a hearty round of applause. I was quite delighted with his success; but when he came to imitate Forrest and Hamblin, necessarily representing them as drunk also, the audience could be no longer deluded; the hissing was almost deafening, and I was forced to lead the actor off. It was his last appearance on my stage.

From the first, it was my study to give my patrons a superfluity of novelties, and for this I make no special claim to generosity, for it was strictly a business transaction. To send away my visitors more than doubly satisfied, was to induce them to come again and to bring their friends. I meant to make people talk about my Museum; to exclaim over its wonders; to have men and women all over the country say: “There is not another place in the United States where so much can be seen for twenty-five cents as in Barnum’s American Museum.” It was the best advertisement I could possibly have, and one for which I could afford to pay. I knew, too, that it was an honorable advertisement, because it was as deserved as it was spontaneous. And so, in addition to the permanent collection and the ordinary attractions of the stage, I labored to keep the Museum well supplied with transient novelties; I exhibited such living curiosities as a rhinoceros, giraffes, grizzly bears, ourang-outangs, great serpents, and whatever else of the kind money would buy or enterprise secure.

Knowing that a visit to my varied attractions and genuine curiosities was well worth to any one three times the amount asked as an entrance fee, I confess that I was not so scrupulous, as possibly I should have been, about the methods used to call public attention to my establishment. The one end aimed at was to make men and women think and talk and wonder, and, as a practical result, go to the Museum. This was my constant study and occupation.

It was the world’s way then, as it is now, to excite the community with flaming posters, promising almost everything for next to nothing. I confess that I took no pains to set my enterprising fellow-citizens a better example. I fell in with the world’s way; and if my “puffing” was more persistent, my advertising more audacious, my posters more glaring, my pictures more exaggerated, my flags more patriotic and my transparencies more brilliant than they would have been under the management of my neighbors, it was not because I had less scruple than they, but more energy, far more ingenuity, and a better foundation for such promises. In all this, if I cannot be justified, I at least find palliation in the fact that I presented a wilderness of wonderful, instructive and amusing realities of such evident and marked merit that I have yet to learn of a single instance where a visitor went away from the Museum complaining that he had been defrauded of his money. Surely this is an offset to any eccentricities to which I may have resorted to make my establishment widely known.

Very soon after introducing my extra exhibitions, I purchased for $200, a curiosity which had much merit and some absurdity. It was a model of Niagara Falls, in which the merit was that the proportions of the great cataract, the trees, rocks, and buildings in the vicinity were mathematically given, while the absurdity was in introducing “real water” to represent the falls. Yet the model served a purpose in making “a good line in the bill”—an end in view which was never neglected—and it helped to give the Museum notoriety. One day I was summoned to appear before the Board of Croton Water Commissioners, and was informed that as I paid only $25 per annum for water at the Museum, I must pay a large extra compensation for the supply for my Niagara Falls. I begged the board not to believe all that appeared in the papers, nor to interpret my show-bills too literally, and assured them that a single barrel of water, if my pump was in good order, would furnish my falls for a month.

It was even so, for the water flowed into a reservoir behind the scenes, and was forced back with a pump over the falls. On one occasion, Mr. Louis Gaylord Clark, the editor of the Knickerbocker, came to view my museum, and introduced himself to me. As I was quite anxious that my establishment should receive a first-rate notice at his hands, I took pains to show him everything of interest, except the Niagara Falls, which I feared would prejudice him against my entire show. But as we passed the room the pump was at work, warning me that the great cataract was in full operation, and Clark, to my dismay, insisted upon seeing it.

“Well, Barnum, I declare, this is quite a new idea; I never saw the like before.”

“No?” I faintly inquired, with something like reviving hope.

“No,” said Clark, “and I hope, with all my heart, I never shall again.”

But the Knickerbocker spoke kindly of me, and refrained from all allusions to “the Cataract of Niagara, with real water.” Some months after, Clark came in breathless one day, and asked me if I had the club with which Captain Cook was killed? As I had a lot of Indian war clubs in the collection of aboriginal curiosities, and owing Clark something on the old Niagara Falls account, I told him I had the veritable club with documents which placed its identity beyond question, and I showed him the warlike weapon.

“Poor Cook! poor Cook!” said Clark, musingly. “Well, Mr. Barnum,” he continued, with great gravity, at the same time extending his hand and giving mine a hearty shake, “I am really very much obliged to you for your kindness. I had an irrepressible desire to see the club that killed Captain Cook, and I felt quite confident you could accommodate me. I have been in half a dozen smaller museums, and as they all had it, I was sure a large establishment like yours would not be without it.”

A few weeks afterwards, I wrote to Clark that if he would come to my office I was anxious to consult him on a matter of great importance. He came, and I said:

“Now, I don’t want any of your nonsense, but I want your sober advice.”

He assured me that he would serve me in any way in his power, and I proceeded to tell him about a wonderful fish from the Nile, offered to me for exhibition at $100 a week, the owner of which was willing to forfeit $5,000, if, within six weeks, this fish did not pass through a transformation in which the tail would disappear and the fish would then have legs.

“Is it possible!” asked the astonished Clark.

I assured him that there was no doubt of it.

Thereupon he advised me to engage the wonder at any price; that it would startle the naturalists, wake up the whole scientific world, draw in the masses, and make $20,000 for the Museum. I told him that I thought well of the speculation, only I did not like the name of the fish.

“That makes no difference whatever,” said Clark; “what is the name of the fish?”

“Tadpole,” I replied with becoming gravity, “but it is vulgarly called ‘pollywog.’ ”

“Sold, by thunder!” exclaimed Clark, and he left.

A curiosity, which in an extraordinary degree served my ever-present object of extending the notoriety of the Museum was the so-called “Fejee Mermaid.” It has been supposed that this mermaid was manufactured by my order, but such is not the fact. I was known as a successful showman, and strange things of every sort were brought to me from all quarters for sale or exhibition. In the summer of 1842, Mr. Moses Kimball, of the Boston Museum, came to New York and showed me what purported to be a mermaid. He had bought it from a sailor whose father, a sea captain, had purchased it in Calcutta, in 1822, from some Japanese sailors. I may mention here that this identical preserved specimen was exhibited in London in 1822, as I fully verified in my visit to that city in 1858, for I found an advertisement of it in an old file of the London Times, and a friend gave me a copy of the Mirror, published by J. Limbird, 335 Strand, November 9, 1822, containing a cut of this same creature and two pages of letter-press describing it, together with an account of other mermaids said to have been captured in different parts of the world. The Mirror stated that this specimen was “the great source of attraction in the British metropolis, and three to four hundred people every day pay their shilling to see it.”

This was the curiosity which had fallen into Mr. Kimball’s hands. I requested my naturalist’s opinion of the genuineness of the animal and he said he could not conceive how it could have been manufactured, for he never saw a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands, etc., and he never saw a fish with such peculiar fins; but he did not believe in mermaids. Nevertheless, I concluded to hire this curiosity and to modify the general incredulity as to the possibility of the existence of mermaids, and to awaken curiosity to see and examine the specimen, I invoked the potent power of printer’s ink.

Since Japan has been opened to the outer world it has been discovered that certain “artists” in that country manufacture a great variety of fabulous animals, with an ingenuity and mechanical perfection well calculated to deceive. No doubt my mermaid was a specimen of this curious manufacture. I used it mainly to advertise the regular business of the Museum, and this effective indirect advertising is the only feature I can commend, in a special show of which, I confess, I am not proud. I might have published columns in the newspapers, presenting and praising the great collection of genuine specimens of natural history in my exhibition, and they would not have attracted nearly so much attention as did a few paragraphs about the mermaid which was only a small part of my show. Newspapers throughout the country copied the mermaid notices, for they were novel and caught the attention of readers. Thus was the fame of the Museum, as well as the mermaid, wafted from one end of the land to the other. I was careful to keep up the excitement, for I knew that every dollar sown in advertising would return in tens, and perhaps hundreds, in a future harvest, and after obtaining all the notoriety possible by advertising and by exhibiting the mermaid at the Museum, I sent the curiosity throughout the country, directing my agent to everywhere advertise it as “From Barnum’s Great American Museum, New York.” The effect was immediately felt; money flowed in rapidly and was readily expended in more advertising.

While I expended money liberally for attractions for the inside of my Museum, and bought or hired everything curious or rare which was offered or could be found, I was prodigal in my outlays to arrest or arouse public attention. When I became proprietor of the establishment, there were only the words: “American Museum,” to indicate the character of the concern; there was no bustle or activity about the place; no posters to announce what was to be seen;—the whole exterior was as dead as the skeletons and stuffed skins within. My experiences had taught me the advantages of advertising. I printed whole columns in the papers, setting forth the wonders of my establishment. Old “fogies” opened their eyes in amazement at a man who could expend hundreds of dollars in announcing a show of “stuffed monkey skins”; but these same old fogies paid their quarters, nevertheless, and when they saw the curiosities and novelties in the Museum halls, they, like all other visitors, were astonished as well as pleased, and went home and told their friends and neighbors and thus assisted in advertising my business.

For other and not less effective advertising,—flags and banners, began to adorn the exterior of the building. I kept a band of music on the front balcony and announced “Free Music for the Million.” People said, “Well, that Barnum is a liberal fellow to give us music for nothing,” and they flocked down to hear my outdoor free concerts. But I took pains to select and maintain the poorest band I could find—one whose discordant notes would drive the crowd into the Museum, out of earshot of my outside orchestra. Of course, the music was poor. When people expect to get “something for nothing” they are sure to be cheated, and generally deserve to be, and so, no doubt, some of my out-door patrons were sorely disappointed; but when they came inside and paid to be amused and instructed, I took care to see that they not only received the full worth of their money, but were more than satisfied. Powerful Drummond lights were placed at the top of the Museum, which, in the darkest night, threw a flood of light up and down Broadway, from the Battery to Niblo’s, that would enable one to read a newspaper in the street. These were the first Drummond lights ever seen in New York, and they made people talk, and so advertise my Museum.




THE American Museum was the ladder by which I rose to fortune. Whenever I cross Broadway at the head of Vesey Street, and see the Herald building and that gorgeous pile, the Park Bank, my mind’s eye recalls that less solid, more showy edifice which once occupied the site and was covered with pictures of all manner of beasts, birds and creeping things, and in which were treasures that brought treasures and notoriety and pleasant hours to me. The Jenny Lind enterprise was more audacious, more immediately remunerative, and I remember it with a pride which I do not attempt to conceal; but instinctively I often go back and live over again the old days of my struggles and triumphs in the American Museum.

The Museum was always open at sunrise, and this was so well known throughout the country that strangers coming to the city would often take a tour through my halls before going to breakfast or to their hotels. I do not believe there was ever a more truly popular place of amusement. I frequently compared the annual number of visitors with the number officially reported as visiting (free of charge), the British Museum in London, and my list was invariably the larger. Nor do I believe that any man or manager ever labored more industriously to please his patrons. I furnished the most attractive exhibitions which money could procure; I abolished all vulgarity and profanity from the stage, and I prided myself upon the fact that parents and children could attend the dramatic performances in the so-called Lecture Room, and not be shocked or offended by anything they might see or hear; I introduced the “Moral Drama,” producing such plays as “The Drunkard,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Moses in Egypt,” “Joseph and His Brethren,” and occasional spectacular melodramas produced with great care and at considerable outlay.

Mr. Sothern, who has since attained such wide-spread celebrity at home and abroad as a character actor, was a member of my dramatic company for one or two seasons. Mr. Barney Williams also began his theatrical career at the Museum, occupying, at first, quite a subordinate position, at a salary of ten dollars a week. During the past twelve or fifteen years, I presume his weekly receipts, when he has acted, have been nearly $3,000. The late Miss Mary Gannon also commenced at the Museum, and many more actors and actresses of celebrity have been, from time to time, engaged there. What was once the small Lecture Room was converted into a spacious and beautiful theatre, extending over the lots adjoining the Museum, and capable of holding about three thousand persons. The saloons were greatly multiplied and enlarged, and the “egress” having been made to work to perfection, on holidays I advertised Lecture Room performances every hour through the afternoon and evening, and consequently the actors and actresses were dressed for the stage as early as eleven o’clock in the morning, and did not resume their ordinary clothes till ten o’clock at night. In these busy days the meals for the company were brought in and served in the dressing-rooms and green-rooms, and the company always received extra pay.

Leaving nothing undone that would bring Barnum and his Museum before the public, I often engaged some exhibition, knowing that it would directly bring no extra dollars to the treasury, but hoping that it would incite a newspaper paragraph which would float through the columns of the American press and be copied, perhaps, abroad, and my hopes in this respect were often gratified.

I confess that I liked the Museum mainly for the opportunities it afforded for rapidly making money. Before I bought it, I weighed the matter well in my mind, and was convinced that I could present to the American public such a variety, quantity and quality of amusement, blended with instruction, “all for twenty-five cents, children half price,” that my attractions would be irresistible, and my fortune certain. I myself relished a higher grade of amusement, and I was a frequent attendant at the opera, first-class concerts, lectures, and the like; but I worked for the million, and I knew the only way to make a million from my patrons was to give them abundant and wholesome attractions for a small sum of money.

About the first of July, 1842, I began to make arrangements for extra novelties, additional performances, a large amount of extra advertising, and an outdoor display for the “Glorious Fourth.” Large particolored bills were ordered, transparencies were prepared, the free band of music was augmented by a trumpeter, and columns of advertisements, headed with large capitals, were written and put on file.

I wanted to run out a string of American flags across the street on that day, for I knew there would be thousands of people passing the Museum with leisure and pocket-money, and I felt confident that an unusual display of national flags would arrest their patriotic attention, and bring many of them within my walls. Unfortunately for my purpose, St. Paul’s Church stood directly opposite, and there was nothing to which I could attach my flag-rope, unless it might be one of the trees in the church-yard. I went to the vestrymen for permission to so attach my flag rope on the Fourth of July, and they were indignant at what they called my “insulting proposition”; such a concession would be “sacrilege.” I plied them with arguments, and appealed to their patriotism, but in vain.

Returning to the Museum I gave orders to have the string of flags made ready, with directions at daylight on the Fourth of July to attach one end of the rope to one of the third story windows of the Museum, and the other end to a tree in St. Paul’s churchyard. The great day arrived, and my orders were strictly followed. The flags attracted great attention, and before nine o’clock I have no doubt that hundreds of additional visitors were drawn by this display into the Museum. By half-past nine Broadway was thronged, and about that time two gentlemen in a high state of excitement rushed into my office, announcing themselves as injured and insulted vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church.

“Keep cool, gentlemen,” said I; “I guess it is all right.”

“Right!” indignantly exclaimed one of them, “do you think it is right to attach your Museum to our Church? We will show you what is ‘right’ and what is law, if we live till to-morrow; those flags must come down instantly.”

“Thank you,” I said, “but let us not be in a hurry. I will go out with you and look at them, and I guess we can make it all right.”

Going into the street I remarked: “Really, gentlemen, these flags look very beautiful; they do not injure your tree; I always stop my balcony music for your accommodation whenever you hold week-day services, and it is but fair that you should return the favor.”

“We could indict your ‘music,’ as you call it, as a nuisance, if we chose,” answered one vestryman, “and now I tell you that if these flags are not taken down in ten minutes, I will cut them down.”

His indignation was at the boiling point. The crowd in the street was dense, and the angry gesticulation of the vestryman attracted their attention. I saw there was no use in trying to parley with him or coax him, and so, assuming an angry air, I rolled up my sleeves, and exclaimed, in a loud tone,—

“Well, Mister, I should just like to see you dare to cut down the American flag on the Fourth of July; you must be a ‘Britisher’ to make such a threat as that; but I’ll show you a thousand pairs of Yankee hands in two minutes, if you dare to attempt to take down the stars and stripes on this great birth-day of American freedom!”

“What’s that John Bull a-saying,” asked a brawny fellow, placing himself in front of the irate vestryman; “Look here, old fellow,” he continued, “if you want to save a whole bone in your body, you had better slope, and never dare to talk again about hauling down the American flag in the city of New York.”

Throngs of excited, exasperated men crowded around, and the vestryman, seeing the effect of my ruse, smiled faintly and said, “Oh, of course it is all right,” and he and his companion quietly edged out of the crowd. The flags remained up all day and all night. The next morning I sought the vanquished vestrymen and obtained formal permission to make this use of the tree on following holidays, in consideration of my willingness to arrest the doleful strains of my discordant balcony band whenever services were held on week days in the church.

On that Fourth of July, at one o’clock, P. M., my Museum was so densely crowded that we could admit no more visitors, and we were compelled to stop the sale of tickets. I pushed through the throng until I reached the roof of the building, hoping to find room for a few more, but it was in vain. Looking down into the street it was a sad sight to see the thousands of people who stood ready with their money to enter the Museum, but who were actually turned away. It was exceedingly harrowing to my feelings. Rushing down stairs, I told my carpenter and his assistants to cut through the partition and floor in the rear and to put in a temporary flight of stairs so as to let out people by that egress into Ann Street. By three o’clock the egress



was opened and a few people were passed down the new stairs, while a corresponding number came in at the front. But I lost a large amount of money that day by not having sufficiently estimated the value of my own advertising, and consequently not having provided for the thousands who had read my announcements and seen my outside show, and had taken the first leisure day to visit the Museum. I had learned one lesson, however, and that was to have the egress ready on future holidays.

Early in the following March, I received notice from some of the Irish population that they meant to visit me in great numbers on “St. Patrick’s day in the morning.” “All right,” said I to my carpenter, “get your egress ready for March 17”; and I added, to my assistant manager: “If there is much of a crowd, don’t let a single person pass out at the front, even if it were St. Patrick himself; put every man out through the egress in the rear.” The day came, and before noon we were caught in the same dilemma as we were on the Fourth of July; the Museum was jammed and the sale of tickets was stopped. I went to the egress and asked the sentinel how many hundreds had passed out?

“Hundreds,” he replied, “why only three persons have gone out by this way and they came back, saying that it was a mistake and begging to be let in again.”

“What does this mean?” I inquired; “surely thousands of people have been all over the Museum since they came in.”

“Certainly,” was the reply “but after they have gone from one saloon to another and have been on every floor, even to the roof, they come down and travel the same route over again.”

At this time I espied a tall Irish woman with two good-sized children whom I had happened to notice when they came in early in the morning.

“Step this way, madam,” said I politely, “you will never be able to get into the street by the front door without crushing these dear children. We have opened a large egress here and you can pass by these rear stairs into Ann Street and thus avoid all danger.”

“Sure,” replied the woman, indignantly, “an’ I’m not going out at all, at all, nor the children aither, for we’ve brought our dinners and we are going to stay all day.”

Further, investigation showed that pretty much all of my visitors had brought their dinners with the evident intention of literally “making a day of it.” No one expected to go home till night; the building was overcrowded, and meanwhile hundreds were waiting at the front entrance to get in when they could. In despair I sauntered upon the stage behind the scenes, biting my lips with vexation, when I happened to see the scene-painter at work and a happy thought struck me: “Here,” I exclaimed, “take a piece of canvas four feet square, and paint on it, as soon as you can, in large letters—


Seizing his brush he finished the sign in fifteen minutes, and I directed the carpenter to nail it over the door leading to the back stairs. He did so, and as the crowd, after making the entire tour of the establishment, came pouring down the main stairs from the third story, they stopped and looked at the new sign, while some of them read audibly: “To the Aigress.”

“The Aigress,” said others, “sure: that’s an animal we haven’t seen,” and the throng began to pour down the back stairs only to find that the “Aigress” was the elephant, and that the elephant was all out o’ doors, or so much of it as began with Ann Street. Meanwhile, I began to accommodate those who had long been waiting with their money at the Broadway entrance.

Notwithstanding my continual outlays for additional novelties and attractions, or rather I might say, because of these outlays, money poured in upon me so rapidly that I was sometimes actually embarrassed to devise means to carry out my original plan for laying out the entire profits of the first year in advertising. I meant to sow first and reap afterwards. I finally hit upon a plan which cost a large sum, and that was to prepare large oval oil paintings to be placed between the windows of the entire building, representing nearly every important animal known in zoology. These paintings were put on the building in a single night, and so complete a transformation in the appearance of an edifice is seldom witnessed. When the living stream rolled down Broadway the next morning and reached the Astor House corner, opposite the Museum, it seemed to meet with a sudden check. I never before saw so many open mouths and astonished eyes. Some people were puzzled to know what it all meant; some looked as if they thought it was an enchanted palace that had suddenly sprung up; others exclaimed, “Well, the animals all seem to have ‘broken out’ last night,” and hundreds came in to see how the establishment survived the sudden eruption. At all events, from that morning the Museum receipts took a jump forward of nearly a hundred dollars a day, and they never fell back again. Strangers would look at this great pictorial magazine and argue that an establishment with so many animals on the outside must have something on the inside, and in they would go to see. Inside, I took particular pains to please and astonish these strangers, and when they went back to the country, they carried plenty of pictorial bills and lithographs, which I always lavishly furnished, and thus the fame of Barnum’s Museum became so wide-spread, that people scarcely thought of visiting the city without going to my establishment.

In fact, the Museum had become an established institution in the land. Now and then some one would cry out “humbug” and “charlatan,” but so much the better for me. It helped to advertise me, and I was willing to bear the reputation—and I engaged queer curiosities, and even monstrosities, simply to add to the notoriety of the Museum.

Dr. Valentine will be remembered by many as a man who gave imitations and delineations of eccentric characters. He was quite a card at the Museum when I first purchased that establishment, and before I introduced dramatic representations into the “Lecture Room.” His representations were usually given as follows: A small table was placed in about the centre of the stage; a curtain reaching to the floor covered the front and two ends of the table; under this table, on little shelves and hooks, were placed caps, hats, coats, wigs, moustaches, curls, cravats, and shirt collars, and all sorts of gear for changing the appearance of the upper portion of the person. Dr. Valentine would seat himself in a chair behind the table, and addressing his audience, would state his intention to represent different peculiar characters, male and female, including the Yankee tin peddler; “Tabitha Twist,” a maiden lady; “Sam Slick, Jr.,” the precocious author; “Solomon Jenkins,” a crusty old bachelor, with a song; the down-east school-teacher with his refractory pupils, with many other characters; and he simply asked the indulgence of the audience for a few seconds between each imitation, to enable him to stoop down behind the table and “dress” each character appropriately.

The Doctor himself was a most eccentric character. He was very nervous, and was always fretting lest his audience should be composed of persons who would not appreciate his “imitations.” During one of his engagements the Lecture Room performances consisted of negro minstrelsy and Dr. Valentine’s imitations. As the minstrels gave the entire first half of the entertainment, the Doctor would post himself at the entrance to the Museum to study the character of the visitors from their appearance. He fancied that he was a great reader of character in this way, and as most of my visitors were from the country, the Doctor, after closely perusing their faces, would decide that they were not the kind of persons who would appreciate his efforts, and this made him extremely nervous. When this idea was once in his head, it took complete possession of the poor Doctor, and worked him up into a nervous excitement which it was often painful to behold. Every country-looking face was a dagger to the Doctor, for he had a perfect horror of exhibiting to an unappreciative audience. When so much excited that he could stand at the door no longer, the disgusted Doctor would come into my office and pour out his lamentations in this wise:

“There, Barnum, I never saw such a stupid lot of country bumpkins in my life. I shan’t be able to get a smile out of them. I had rather be horse-whipped than attempt to satisfy an audience who have not got the brains to appreciate me. Sir, mine is a highly intellectual entertainment, and none but refined and educated persons can comprehend it.”

“Oh, I think you will make them laugh some, Doctor,” I replied.

“Laugh, sir, laugh! why, sir, they have no laugh in them, sir; and if they had, your devilish nigger minstrels would get it all out of them before I commenced.”

“Don’t get excited, Doctor,” I said; “you will please the people.”

“Impossible, sir! I was a fool to ever permit my entertainment to be mixed up with that of nigger singers.”

“But you could not give an entire entertainment satisfactorily to the public; they want more variety.”

“Then you should have got something more refined, sir. Why, one of those cursed nigger break-downs excites your audience so they don’t want to hear a word from me. At all events, I ought to commence the entertainment and let the niggers finish up. I tell you, Mr. Barnum, I won’t stand it! I would rather go to the poor-house. I won’t stay here over a fortnight longer! It is killing me!”

In this excited state the Doctor would go upon the stage, dressed very neatly in a suit of black. Addressing a few pleasant words to the audience, he would then take a seat behind his little table, and with a broad smile covering his countenance would ask the audience to excuse him a few seconds, and he would appear as “Tabitha Twist,” a literary spinster of fifty-five. On these occasions I was usually behind the scenes, standing at one of the wings opposite the Doctor’s table, where I could see and hear all that occurred “behind the curtain.” The moment the Doctor was down behind the table, a wonderful change came over that smiling countenance.

“Blast this infernal, stupid audience! they would not laugh to save the city of New York!” said the Doctor, while he rapidly slipped on a lady’s cap and a pair of long curls. Then, while arranging a lace handkerchief around his shoulders, he would grate his teeth and curse the Museum, its manager, the audience and everybody else. The instant the handkerchief was pinned, the broad smile would come upon his face, and up would go his head and shoulders showing to the audience a rollicking specimen of a good-natured old maid.

“How do you do, ladies and gentlemen? You all know me, Tabitha Twist, the happiest maiden in the village; always laughing. Now, I’ll sing you one of my prettiest songs.”

The mock maiden would then sing a lively, funny ditty, followed by faint applause, and down would bob the head behind the table to prepare for a presentation of “Sam Slick, junior.”

“Curse such a set of fools” (off goes the cap, followed by the curls). “They think it’s a country Sunday school” (taking off the lace handkerchief). “I expect they will hiss me next, the donkeys” (on goes a light wig of long, flowing hair). “I wish the old Museum was sunk in the Atlantic” (puts on a Yankee round-jacket, and broadbrimmed hat). “I never will be caught in this infernal place, curse it;” up jump head and shoulders of the Yankee, and Sam Slick, junior, sings out a merry—

“Ha! ha! why, folks, how de dew. Darn glad to see you, by hokey; I came down here to have lots of fun, for you know I always believe we must laugh and grow fat.”

After five minutes of similar rollicking nonsense, down would bob the head again, and the cursing, swearing, tearing, and teeth-grating would commence, and continue till the next character appeared to the audience, bedecked with smiles and good-humor.

On several occasions I got up “Baby shows,” at which I paid liberal prizes for the finest baby, the fattest baby, the handsomest twins, for triplets, and so on. I always gave several months’ notice of these intended shows and limited the number of babies at each exhibition to one hundred. Long before the appointed time, the list would be full and I have known many a fond mother to weep bitterly because the time for application was closed and she could not have the opportunity to exhibit her beautiful baby. These shows were as popular as they were unique, and while they paid in a financial point of view, my chief object in getting them up was to set the newspapers to talking about me, thus giving another blast on the trumpet which I always tried to keep blowing for the Museum. Flower shows, dog shows, poultry shows and bird shows, were held at intervals in my establishment and in each instance the same end was attained as by the baby shows. I gave prizes in the shape of medals, money and diplomas and the whole came back to me four-fold in the shape of advertising.

There was great difficulty, however, in awarding the



principal prize of $100 at the baby shows. Every mother thought her own baby the brightest and best, and confidently expected the capital prize.

For where was ever seen the mother
Would give her baby for another?

Not foreseeing this when I first stepped into the expectant circle and announced in a matter of fact way that a committee of ladies had decided upon the baby of Mrs. So and So as entitled to the leading prize, I was ill-prepared for the storm of indignation that arose on every side. Ninety-nine disappointed, and as they thought, deeply injured, mothers made common cause and pronounced the successful little one the meanest, homeliest baby in the lot, and roundly abused me and my committee for our stupidity and partiality. “Very well, ladies,” said I in the first instance, “select a committee of your own and I will give another $100 prize to the baby you shall pronounce to be the best specimen.” This was only throwing oil upon flame; the ninety-nine confederates were deadly enemies from the moment and no new babies were presented in competition for the second prize. Thereafter, I took good care to send in a written report and did not attempt to announce the prize in person.

At the first exhibition of the kind, there was a vague, yet very current rumor, that in the haste of departure from the Museum several young mothers had exchanged babies (for the babies were nearly all of the same age and were generally dressed alike) and did not discover the mistake till they arrived home and some such conversation as this occurred between husband and wife:

“Did our baby take the prize?”

“No! the darling was cheated out of it.”

“Well, why didn’t you bring home the same baby you carried to the Museum?”

I am glad to say that I could not trace this cruel rumor to an authentic source.

In June 1843, a herd of yearling buffaloes was on exhibition in Boston. I bought the lot, brought them to New Jersey, hired the race course at Hoboken, chartered the ferry-boats for one day, and advertised that a hunter had arrived with a herd of buffaloes—I was careful not to state their age—and that August 31st there would be a “Grand Buffalo Hunt” on the Hoboken race course—all persons to be admitted free of charge.

The appointed day was warm and delightful, and no less than twenty-four thousand people crossed the North River in the ferry-boats to enjoy the cooling breeze and to see the “Grand Buffalo Hunt.” The hunter was dressed as an Indian, and mounted on horseback; he proceeded to show how the wild buffalo is captured with a lasso, but unfortunately the yearlings would not run till the crowd gave a great shout, expressive at once of derision and delight at the harmless humbug. This shout started the young animals into a weak gallop and the lasso was duly thrown over the head of the largest calf. The crowd roared with laughter, listened to my balcony band, which I also furnished “free,” and then started for New York, little dreaming who was the author of this sensation, or what was its object.

Mr. N. P. Willis, then editor of the Home Journal, wrote an article illustrating the perfect good nature with which the American public submit to a clever humbug. He said that he went to Hoboken to witness the Buffalo Hunt. It was nearly four o’clock when the boat left the foot of Barclay Street, and it was so densely crowded that many persons were obliged to stand on the railings and hold on to the awning posts. When they reached the Hoboken side a boat equally crowded was coming out of the slip. The passengers just arriving cried out to those who were coming away, “Is the Buffalo Hunt over?” To which came the reply, “Yes, and it was the biggest humbug you ever heard of!” Willis added that passengers on the boat with him instantly gave three cheers for the author of the humbug, whoever he might be.

After the public had enjoyed a laugh for several days over the Hoboken “Free Grand Buffalo Hunt,” I permitted it to be announced that the proprietor of the American Museum was responsible for the joke, thus using the buffalo hunt as a sky-rocket to attract public attention to my Museum. The object was accomplished and although some people cried out “humbug,” I had added to the notoriety which I so much wanted and I was satisfied. As for the cry of “humbug,” it never harmed me, and I was in the position of the actor who had much rather be roundly abused than not to be noticed at all. I ought to add, that the forty-eight thousand sixpences—the usual fare—received for ferry fares, less what I paid for the charter of the boats on that one day, more than remunerated me for the cost of the buffaloes and the expenses of the “hunt,” and the enormous gratuitous advertising of the Museum must also be placed to my credit.

With the same object—that is, advertising my Museum,—I purchased, for $500, in Cincinnati, Ohio, a “Woolly Horse” I found on exhibition in that city. It was a well formed, small sized horse, with no mane, and not a particle of hair on his tail, while his entire body and legs were covered with thick, fine hair or wool, which curled tight to his skin. This horse was foaled in Indiana, and was a remarkable freak of nature, and certainly a very curious looking animal.

I had not the remotest idea, when I bought this horse, what I should do with him; but when the news came that Colonel John C. Fremont (who was supposed to have been lost in the snows of the Rocky Mountains) was in safety, the “Woolly Horse” was exhibited in New York, and was widely advertised as a most remarkable animal that had been captured by the great explorer’s party in the passes of the Rocky Mountains. The exhibition met with only moderate success in New York, and in several Northern provincial towns, and the show would have fallen flat in Washington, had it not been for the over-zeal of Colonel Thomas H. Benton, then a United States Senator from Missouri. He went to the show, and then caused the arrest of my agent for obtaining twenty-five cents from him under “false pretences.” No mention had been made of this curious animal in any letter he had received from his son-in-law, Colonel John C. Fremont, and therefore the Woolly Horse had not been captured by any of Fremont’s party. The reasoning was hardly as sound as were most of the arguments of “Old Bullion,” and the case was dismissed. After a few days of merriment, public curiosity no longer turned in that direction, and the old horse was permitted to retire to private life. My object in the exhibition, however, was fully attained. When it was generally known that the proprietor of the American Museum was also the owner of the famous “Woolly Horse,” it caused yet more talk about me and my establishment, and visitors began to say that they would give more to see the proprietor of the Museum than to view the entire collection of curiosities. As for my ruse in advertising the “Woolly Horse” as having been captured by Fremont’s exploring party, of course the announcement neither added to nor took from the interest of the exhibition; but it arrested public attention, and it was the only feature of the show that I now care to forget.

It will be seen that very much of the success which attended my many years proprietorship of the American Museum was due to advertising, and especially to my odd methods of advertising. Always claiming that I had curiosities worth showing and worth seeing, and exhibited “dog cheap” at “twenty-five cents admission, children half price”—I studied ways to arrest public attention; to startle, to make people talk and wonder; in short, to let the world know that I had a Museum.

About this time, I engaged a band of Indians from Iowa. They had never seen a railroad or steamboat until they saw them on the route from Iowa to New York. Of course they were wild and had but faint ideas of civilization. The party comprised large and noble specimens of the untutored savage, as well as several very beautiful squaws, with two or three interesting “papooses.” They lived and lodged in a large room on the top floor of the Museum, and cooked their own victuals in their own way. They gave their war-dances on the stage in the Lecture Room with great vigor and enthusiasm, much to the satisfaction of the audiences. But these wild Indians seemed to consider their dances as realities. Hence when they gave a real War Dance, it was dangerous for any parties, except their manager and interpreter, to be on the stage, for the moment they had finished their war dance, they began to leap and peer about behind the scenes in search of victims for their tomahawks and scalping knives! Indeed, lest in these frenzied moments they might make a dash at the orchestra or the audience, we had a high rope barrier placed between them and the savages on the front of the stage.

After they had been a week in the Museum, I proposed a change of performance for the week following, by introducing new dances. Among these was the Indian Wedding Dance. At that time I printed but one set of posters (large bills) per week, so that whatever was announced for Monday, was repeated every day and evening during that week. Before the Wedding Dance came off on Monday afternoon, I was informed that I was to provide a large new red woollen blanket, at a cost of ten dollars, for the bridegroom to present to the father of the bride. I ordered the purchase to be made; but was considerably taken aback, when I was informed that I must have another new blanket for the evening, inasmuch as the savage old Indian Chief, father-in-law to the bridegroom, would not consent to his daughter’s being approached with the Wedding Dance unless he had his blanket present.

I undertook to explain to the chief, through the interpreter, that this was only a “make believe” wedding; but the old savage shrugged his shoulders, and gave such a terrific “Ugh!” that I was glad to make my peace by ordering another blanket. As we gave two performances per day, I was out of pocket $120 for twelve “wedding blankets,” that week.

One of the beautiful squaws named Do-humme died in the Museum. She had been a great favorite with many ladies,—among whom I can especially name Mrs. C. M. Sawyer, wife of the Rev. Dr. T. J. Sawyer. Do-humme was buried on the border of Sylvan Water, at Greenwood Cemetery, where a small monument, erected by her friends, designates her last resting place.

The poor Indians were very sorrowful for many days, and desired to get back again to their western wilds. The father and the betrothed of Do-humme cooked various dishes of food and placed them upon the roof of the Museum, where they believed the spirit of their departed friend came daily for its supply; and these dishes were renewed every morning during the stay of the Indians at the Museum.

It was sometimes very amusing to hear the remarks of strangers who came to visit my Museum. One afternoon a prim maiden lady from Portland, Maine, walked into my private office, where I was busily engaged in writing, and taking a seat on the sofa she asked:

“Is this Mr. Barnum?”

“It is,” I replied.

“Is this Mr. P. T. Barnum, the proprietor of the Museum?” she asked.

“The same,” was my answer.

“Why, really, Mr. Barnum,” she continued, “you look much like other common folks, after all.”

I remarked that I presumed I did; but I could not help it, and I hoped she was not disappointed at my appearance.

“Oh, no,” she said; “I suppose I have no right to be disappointed, but I have read and heard so much about you and your Museum that I was quite prepared to be astonished.”

I asked her if she had been through the establishment.

“I have,” she replied; “I came in immediately after breakfast; I have been here ever since, and, I can say I think with the Queen of Sheba, that ‘the half had not been told me.’ But, Mr. Barnum,” she, continued, “I have long felt a desire to see you; I wanted to attend when you lectured on temperance in Portland, but I had a severe cold and could not go out.”

“Do you like my collection as well as you do the one in the Boston Museum?” I asked.

“Dear me! Mr. Barnum,” said she, “I never went to any Museum before, nor to any place of amusement or public entertainment, excepting our school exhibitions; and I have sometimes felt that they even may be wicked, for some parts of the dialogues seemed frivolous; but I have heard so much of your ‘moral drama’ and the great good you are doing for the rising generation that I thought I must come here and see for myself.”

“We represent the pathetic story of ‘Charlotte Temple’ in the Lecture Room to-day,” I remarked, with an inward chuckle at the peculiarities of my singular visitor, who, although she was nearly fifty years of age, had probably never been in an audience of a hundred persons, unless it might be at a school exhibition, or in Sunday school, or in church.

“Indeed! I am quite familiar with the sad history of Miss Temple, and I think I can derive great consolation from witnessing the representation of the touching story.”

At this moment the gong sounded to announce the opening of the Lecture Room, and the crowd passed on in haste to secure seats. My spinster visitor sprang to her feet and anxiously inquired:

“Are the services about to commence?”

“Yes,” I replied, “the congregation is now going up.”

She marched along with the crowd as demurely as if she was going to a funeral. After she was seated, I watched her, and in the course of the play I noticed that she was several times so much overcome as to be moved to tears. She was very much affected, and when the “services” were over, without seeking another interview with me, she went silently and tearfully away.

One day, two city boys who had thoroughly explored the wonders of the Museum, on their way out passed the open door of my private office, and seeing me sitting there, one of them exclaimed to his companion:

“There! That’s Mr. Barnum.”

“No! is it?” asked the other, and then with his mind full of the glories of the stuffed gander-skins, and other wealth which had been displayed to his wondering eyes in the establishment, he summed up his views of the vastness and value of the whole collection, and its fortunate proprietor in a single sentence:

“Well, he’s an awful rich old cuss, ain’t he!”

Those boys evidently took a strictly financial view of the establishment.




THE president and directors of the “New York Museum Company” not only failed to buy the American Museum as they confidently expected to do, but, after my newspaper squib war and my purchase of the Museum, they found it utterly impossible to sell their stock. By some arrangement, the particulars of which I do not remember, if, indeed, I ever cared to know them, Mr. Peale was conducting Peale’s Museum which he claimed was a more “scientific” establishment than mine, and he pretended to appeal to a higher class of patrons. Mesmerism was one of his scientific attractions, and he had a subject upon whom he operated at times with the greatest seeming success, and fairly astonished his audiences. But there were times when the subject was wholly unimpressible and then those who had paid their money to see the woman put into the mesmeric state cried out “humbug,” and the reputation of the establishment seriously suffered.

It devolved upon me to open a rival mesmeric performance, and accordingly I engaged a bright little girl who was exceedingly susceptible to such mesmeric influences as I could induce. That is, she learned her lesson thoroughly, and when I had apparently put her to sleep with a few passes and stood behind her, she seemed to be duly “impressed” as I desired; raised her hands as I willed; fell from her chair to the floor; and if I put candy or tobacco into my mouth, she was duly delighted or disgusted. She never failed in these routine performances. Strange to say, believers in mesmerism used to witness her performances with the greatest pleasure and adduce them as positive proofs that there was something in mesmerism, and they applauded tremendously—up to a certain point.

That point was reached, when leaving the girl “asleep,” I called up some one in the audience, promising to put him “in the same state” within five minutes, or forfeit fifty dollars. Of course, all my “passes” would not put any man in the mesmeric state; at the end of three minutes he was as wide awake as ever.

“Never mind,” I would say, looking at my watch; “I have two minutes more, and meantime, to show that a person in this state is utterly insensible to pain, I propose to cut off one of the fingers of the little girl who is still asleep.” I would then take out my knife and feel of the edge, and when I turned around to the girl whom I left on the chair she had fled behind the scenes to the intense amusement of the greater part of the audience and to the amazement of the mesmerists who were present.

“Why! where’s my little girl?” I asked with feigned astonishment.

“Oh! she ran away when you began to talk about cutting off fingers.”

“Then she was wide awake, was she?”

“Of course she was, all the time.”

“I suppose so; and, my dear sir, I promised that you should be ‘in the same state’ at the end of five minutes, and as I believe you are so, I do not forfeit fifty dollars.”

I kept up this performance for several weeks, till I quite killed Peale’s “genuine” mesmerism in the rival establishment. After Peale, “Yankee” Hill undertook the management of that Museum, but in a little while he failed. It was then let to Henry Bennett, who reduced the entrance price to one shilling,—a half price which led me to characterize his concern as “cheap and nasty,”—and he began a serious rivalry with my Museum. His main reliances were burlesques and caricatures of whatever novelties I was exhibiting; thus, when I advertised an able company of vocalists, well-known as the Orphean Family, Bennett announced the “Orphan Family;” my Fejee Mermaid he offset with a figure made of a monkey and codfish joined together and called the “Fudg-ee Mermaid.” These things created some laughter at my expense, but they also served to advertise my Museum.

When the novelty of this opposition died away, Bennett did a decidedly losing business. I used to send a man with a shilling to his place every night and I knew exactly how much he was doing and what were his receipts. The holidays were coming and might tide him over a day or two, but he was at the very bottom and I said to him, one day:

“Bennett, if you can keep open one week after New Year’s I will give you a hundred dollars.”

He made every effort to win the money, and even went to the landlord and offered him the entire receipts for a week if he would only let him stay there; but he would not do it, and the day after New Year’s, January 2, 1843, Bennett shut up shop, having lost his last dollar and even failing to secure the handsome premium I offered him.

The entire collection fell into the hands of the landlord for arrearages of rent, and I privately purchased it for $7,000 cash, hired the building, and secretly engaged Bennett as my agent. We ran a very spirited opposition for a long time and abused each other terribly in public. It was very amusing when actors and performers failed to make terms with one of us and went to the other, carrying from one to the other the price each was willing to pay for an engagement. We thus used to hear extraordinary stories about each other’s “liberal terms,” but between the two we managed to secure such persons as we wanted at about the rates at which their services were really worth. While these people were thus running from one manager to the other, supposing we were rivals, Bennett said to me one day:

“You and I are like a pair of shears; we seem to cut each other, but we only cut what comes between.”

I ran my opposition long enough to beat myself. It answered every purpose, however, in awakening public attention to my Museum, and was an advantage in preventing others from starting a genuine opposition. At the end of six months, the whole establishment, including the splendid gallery of American portraits, was removed to the American Museum and I immediately advertised the great card of a “Double attraction” and “Two Museums in One,” without extra charge.

A Museum proper obviously depends for patronage largely upon country people who visit the city with a worthy curiosity to see the novelties of the town. As I had opened a dramatic entertainment in connection with my curiosities, it was clear that I must adapt my stage to the wants of my country customers. While I was disposed to amuse my provincial patrons, I was determined that there should be nothing in my establishment, where many of my visitors would derive their first impressions of city life, that could contaminate or corrupt them. At this period, it was customary to tolerate very considerable license on the stage. Things were said and done and permitted in theatres that elsewhere would have been pronounced highly improper. The public seemed to demand these things, and it is an axiom in political economy, that the demand must regulate the supply. But I determined, at the start, that, let the demand be what it might, the Museum dramatic entertainments should be unexceptionable on the score of morality.

I have already mentioned some of the immediate reforms I made in the abuses of the stage. I went farther, and, at the risk of some pecuniary sacrifice, I abolished what was common enough in other theatres, even the most “respectable,” and was generally known as the “third tier.” Nor was a bar permitted on my premises. To be sure, I had no power to prevent my patrons from going out between the acts and getting liquor if they chose to do so, and I gave checks, as is done in other theatres, and some of my city customers availed themselves of the opportunity to go out for drinks and return again. Practically, then, it was much the same as if I had kept a bar in the Museum, and so I abolished the check business. There was great reason to apprehend that such a course would rob me of the patronage of a considerable class of play-goers, but I rigidly adhered to the new rule, and what I may have lost in money, I more than gained in the greater decorum which characterized my audiences.

The Museum became a mania with me and I made everything possible subservient to it. On the eve of elections, rival politicians would ask me for whom I was going to vote, and my answer invariably was, “I vote for the American Museum.” In fact, at that time, I cared very little about politics, and a great deal about my business. Meanwhile the Museum prospered wonderfully, and everything I attempted or engaged in seemed at the outset an assured success.

The giants whom I exhibited from time to time were always literally great features in my establishment, and they oftentimes afforded me, as well as my patrons, food for much amusement as well as wonder. The Quaker giant, Hales, was quite a wag in his way. He went once to see the new house of an acquaintance who had suddenly become rich, but who was a very ignorant man. When he came back he described the wonders of the mansion and said that the proud proprietor showed him everything from basement to attic; “parlors, bed-rooms, dining room, and,” said Hales, “what he called his ‘study’—meaning, I suppose, the place where he intends to study his spelling-book!”

I had at one time two famous men, the French giant, M. Bihin, a very slim man, and the Arabian giant, Colonel Goshen. These men generally got on together very well, though, of course, each was jealous of the other, and of the attention the rival received, or the notice he attracted. One day they quarrelled, and a lively interchange of compliments ensued, the Arabian calling the Frenchman a “Shanghai,” and receiving in return the epithet of “Nigger.” From words both were eager to proceed to blows, and both ran to my collection of arms, one seizing the club with which Captain Cook or any other man might have been killed, if it were judiciously wielded, and the other laying hands on a sword of the terrific size which is supposed to have been conventional in the days of the Crusades. The preparations for a deadly encounter, and the high words of the contending parties brought a dozen of the Museum attaches to the spot, and these men threw themselves between the gigantic combatants. Hearing the disturbance, I ran from my private office to the duelling ground, and said:

“Look here! This is all right; if you want to fight each other, maiming and perhaps killing one or both of you, that is your affair; but my interest lies here—you are both under engagement to me, and if this duel is to come off, I and the public have a right to participate. It must be duly advertised, and must take place on the stage of the Lecture Room. No performance of yours would be a greater attraction, and if you kill each other, our engagement can end with your duel.”

This proposition, made in apparent earnest, so delighted the giants that they at once burst into a laugh, shook hands, and quarrelled no more.

I now come to the details of one of the most interesting, as well as successful, of all the show enterprises in which I have engaged—one which not only taxed all my ingenuity and industry, but which gave unqualified



delight to thousands of people on two continents and put enormous sums of money into many pockets besides my own.

In November, 1842, I was in Albany on business, and as the Hudson River was frozen over, I returned to New York by the Housatonic Railroad, stopping one night at Bridgeport, Connecticut, with my brother, Philo F. Barnum, who at that time kept the Franklin Hotel. I had heard of a remarkably small child in Bridgeport, and, at my request, my brother brought him to the hotel. He was not two feet high; he weighed less than sixteen pounds, and was the smallest child I ever saw that could walk alone; but he was a perfectly formed, bright-eyed little fellow, with light hair and ruddy cheeks and he enjoyed the best of health. He was exceedingly bashful, but after some coaxing he was induced to talk with me, and he told me that he was the son of Sherwood E. Stratton, and that his own name was Charles S. Stratton. After seeing him and talking with him, I at once determined to secure his services from his parents and to exhibit him in public.

But as he was only five years of age, to exhibit him as a “dwarf” might provoke the inquiry “How do you know he is a dwarf?” Some liberty might be taken with the facts, but even with this license, I felt that the venture was only an experiment, and I engaged him for four weeks at three dollars a week, with all travelling and boarding charges for himself and his mother at my expense. They came to New York, Thanksgiving day, December 8, 1842, and Mrs. Stratton was greatly surprised to see her son announced on my Museum bills as “General Tom Thumb.”

I took the greatest pains to educate and train my diminutive prodigy, devoting many hours to the task by day and by night, and I was very successful, for he was an apt pupil with a great deal of native talent, and a keen sense of the ludicrous. He made rapid progress in preparing himself for such performances as I wished him to undertake and he became very much attached to his teacher.

When the four weeks expired, I re-engaged him for one year at seven dollars a week, with a gratuity of fifty dollars at the end of the engagement, and the privilege of exhibiting him anywhere in the United States, in which event his parents were to accompany him and I was to pay all travelling expenses. He speedily became a public favorite, and, long before the year was out, I voluntarily increased his weekly salary to twenty-five dollars, and he fairly earned it. Sometimes I exhibited him for several weeks in succession at the Museum, and when I wished to introduce other novelties I sent him to different towns and cities, accompanied by my friend, Mr. Fordyce Hitchcock, and the fame of General Tom Thumb soon spread throughout the country.

Two years had now elapsed since I bought the Museum and I had long since paid for the entire establishment from the profits; I had bought out my only rival; I was free from debt, and had a handsome surplus in the treasury. The business had long ceased to be an experiment; it was an established success and was in such perfect running order, that it could safely be committed to the management of trustworthy and tried agents.

Accordingly, looking for a new field for my individual efforts, I entered into an agreement for General Tom Thumb’s services for another year, at fifty dollars a week and all expenses, with the privilege of exhibiting him in Europe. I proposed to test the curiosity of men and women on the other side of the Atlantic. Much as I hoped for success, in my most sanguine moods, I could not anticipate the half of what was in store for me; I did not foresee nor dream that I was shortly to be brought in close contact with kings, queens, lords and illustrious commoners, and that such association, by means of my exhibition, would afterwards introduce me to the great public and the public’s money, which was to fill my coffers. Or, if I saw some such future, it was dreamily, dimly, and with half-opened eyes, as the man saw the “trees walking.”

After arranging my business affairs for a long absence, and making every preparation for an extended foreign tour, on Thursday, January 18, 1844, I went on board the new and fine sailing ship “Yorkshire,” Captain D. G. Bailey, bound for Liverpool. Our party included General Tom Thumb, his parents, his tutor, and Professor Guillaudeu, the French naturalist. We were accompanied by several personal friends, and the City Brass Band kindly volunteered to escort us to Sandy Hook.

My name has been so long associated with mirthful incidents that I presume many persons do not suppose I am susceptible of sorrowful, or even sentimental emotions; but when the bell of the steamer that towed our ship down the bay announced the hour of separation, and then followed the hastily-spoken words of farewell, and the parting grasp of friendly hands, I confess that I was very much in the “melting mood,” and when the band played “Home, Sweet Home,” I was moved to tears.

A voyage to Liverpool is now an old, familiar story, and I abstain from entering into details, though I have abundant material respecting my own experiences of my first sea-voyage in the first two of a series of one hundred letters which I wrote in Europe as correspondent of the New York Atlas. But some of the incidents and adventures of my voyage on the “Yorkshire” are worth transcribing in these pages of my personal history.

Occasional calms and adverse winds protracted our passage to nineteen days, but a better ship and a more competent captain never sailed. I was entirely exempt from sea-sickness, and enjoyed the voyage very much. Good fellowship prevailed among the passengers, the time passed rapidly, and we had a good deal of fun on board.

Several of the passengers were English merchants from Canada and one of the number, who reckoned himself “A, No. 1,” and often hinted that he was too ‘cute for any Yankee, boasted so much of his shrewdness that a Yankee friend of mine confederated with me to test it. I thought of an old trick and arranged with my friend to try it on the boastful John Bull. Coming out of my state-room, with my hand to my face, and apparently in great pain, I asked my fellow passengers what was good for the tooth-ache. My friend and confederate recommended heating tobacco, and holding it to my face. I therefore borrowed a little tobacco, and putting it in a paper of a peculiar color, placed it on the stove to warm. I then retired for a few minutes, during which time the Yankee proposed playing a trick on me by emptying the tobacco, and filling the paper with ashes, which our smart Englishman thought would be a very fine joke, and he himself made the substitution, putting ashes into the paper and throwing the tobacco into the fire.

I soon reappeared and gravely placed the paper to my face to the great amusement of the passengers and walked up and down the cabin as if I was suffering terribly. At the further end of the cabin I slyly exchanged the paper for another in my pocket of the same color and containing tobacco and then walked back again a picture of misery. Whereupon, the Merry Englishman cried out:

“Mr. Barnum, what have you got in that paper?”

“Tobacco,” I replied.

“What will you bet it is tobacco?” said the Englishman.

“Oh, don’t bother me,” said I; “my tooth pains me sadly; I know it is tobacco, for I put it there myself.”

“I’ll bet you a dozen of champagne that it is not tobacco,” said the Englishman.

“Nonsense,” I replied, “I will not bet, for it would not be fair; I know it is tobacco.”

“I’ll bet you fifty dollars it is not,” said John Bull, and he counted ten sovereigns upon the table.

“I’ll not bet the money,” I replied, “for I tell you I know it is tobacco; I placed it there myself.”

“You dare not bet!” he rejoined.

At last, merely to accommodate him, I bet a dozen of champagne. The Englishman fairly jumped with delight, and roared out:

“Open the paper! open the paper!”

The passengers crowded round the table in great glee to see me open the paper, for all but the Yankee thought I was taken in. I quietly opened the paper, and remarked:

“There, I told you it was tobacco—how foolish you were to suppose it was not—for, as I told you, I put it there myself.”

The passengers, my confederate excepted, were amazed and the Englishman was absolutely astounded. It was the biter bitten. But he told the steward to bring the champagne, and turning to my confederate who had so effectually assisted in “selling” him, he pronounced the affair “a contemptible Yankee trick.” It was several days before he recovered his good humor, but he joined at last with the rest of us in laughing at the joke, and we heard no more about his extraordinary shrewdness.

On our arrival at Liverpool, quite a crowd had assembled at the dock to see Tom Thumb, for it had been previously announced that he would arrive in the “Yorkshire,” but his mother managed to smuggle him ashore unnoticed, for she carried him, as if he was an infant, in her arms. We went to the Waterloo Hotel, and, after an excellent dinner, walked out to take a look at the town. While I was viewing the Nelson monument a venerable looking, well-dressed old gentleman volunteered to explain to me the different devices and inscriptions. I looked upon him as a disinterested and attentive man of means who was anxious to assist a stranger and to show his courtesy; but when I gave him a parting bow of thanks, half ashamed that I had so trespassed on his kindness, he put out the hand of a beggar and said that he would be thankful for any remuneration I saw fit to bestow upon him for his trouble. I was certainly astonished, and I thrust a shilling into his hand and walked rapidly away.

In the evening of the same day, a tall, raw-boned man came to the hotel and introduced himself to me as a brother Yankee, who would be happy in pointing out the many wonders in Liverpool that a stranger would be pleased to see.

I asked him how long he had been in Liverpool, and he replied, “Nearly a week.” I declined his proffered services abruptly, remarking that if he had been there only a week, I probably knew as much about England as he did.

“Oh,” said he, “you are mistaken. I have been in England before, though never till recently in Liverpool.”

“What part of England?” I inquired.

“Opposite Niagara Falls,” he replied; “I spent several days there with the British soldiers.”

I laughed in his face, and reminded him that England did not lie opposite Niagara Falls. The impudent fellow was confused for a moment, and then triumphantly exclaimed:

“I didn’t mean England. I know what country it is as well as you do.”

“Well, what country is it?” I asked, quite assured that he did not know.

“Great Britain, of course,” he replied.

It is needless to add that the honor of his company as a guide in Liverpool was declined, and he went off apparently in a huff because his abilities were not appreciated.

Later in the evening, the proprietor of a cheap wax-works show, at three ha’ pence admission, called upon me. He had heard of the arrival of the great American curiosity, and he seized the earliest opportunity to make the General and myself the magnificent offer of ten dollars a week if we would join ourselves to his already remarkable and attractive exhibition. I could not but think, that dwarfs must be literally at a “low figure” in England, and my prospects were gloomy indeed. I was a stranger in the land; my letters of introduction had not been delivered; beyond my own little circle, I had not seen a friendly face, nor heard a familiar voice. I was “blue,” homesick, almost in despair. Next morning, there came a ray of sunshine in the following note:

“Madame Celeste presents her compliments to Mr. Barnum, and begs to say that her private box is quite at his service, any night, for himself and friends.

“Theatre Royal, Williamson Square.”

This polite invitation was thankfully accepted, and we went to the theatre that evening. Our party, including the General, who was partly concealed by his tutor’s cloak, occupied Celeste’s box, and in the box adjoining sat an English lady and gentleman whose appearance indicated respectability, intelligence and wealth. The General’s interest in the performance attracted their attention, and the lady remarked to me:

“What an intelligent-looking child you have! He appears to take quite an interest in the stage.”

“Pardon me, madam,” said I, “this is not a child. This is General Tom Thumb.”

“Indeed!” they exclaimed. They had seen the announcements of our visit and were greatly gratified at an interview with the pigmy prodigy. They at once advised me in the most complimentary and urgent manner to take the General to Manchester, where they resided, assuring me that an exhibition in that place would be highly remunerative. I thanked my new friends for their counsel and encouragement, and ventured to ask them what price they would recommend me to charge for admission.

“The General is so decidedly a curiosity,” said the lady, “that I think you might put it as high as tuppence!” (two-pence.)

She was, however, promptly interrupted by her husband, who was evidently the economist of the family: “I am sure you would not succeed at that price,” said he; “you should put admission at one penny, for that is the usual price for seeing giants and dwarfs in England.”

This was worse than the ten dollars a week offer of the wax-works proprietor, but I promptly answered “Never shall the price be less than one shilling sterling and some of the nobility and gentry of England will yet pay gold to see General Tom Thumb.”

My letters of introduction speedily brought me into friendly relations with many excellent families and I was induced to hire a hall and present the General to the public, for a short season, in Liverpool. I had intended to proceed directly to London and begin operations at “head-quarters,” that is, in Buckingham Palace, if possible; but I had been advised that the royal family was in mourning for the death of Prince Albert’s father, and would not permit the approach of any entertainments.

Meanwhile confidential letters from London informed me that Mr. Maddox, Manager of Princess’s Theatre, was coming down to witness my exhibition, with a view to making an engagement. He came privately, but I was fully informed as to his presence and object. A friend pointed him out to me in the hall, and when I stepped up to him, and called him by name, he was “taken all aback,” and avowed his purpose in visiting Liverpool. An interview resulted in an engagement of the General for three nights at Princess’s Theatre. I was unwilling to contract for a longer period, and even this short engagement, though on liberal terms, was acceded to only as a means of advertisement. So soon, therefore, as I could bring my short, but highly successful season in Liverpool to a close, we went to London.




IMMEDIATELY after our arrival in London, the General came out at the Princess’s Theatre, and made so decided a “hit” that it was difficult to decide who was best pleased, the spectators, the manager, or myself. The spectators were delighted because they could not well help it; the manager was satisfied because he had coined money by the engagement; and I was greatly pleased because I now had a visible guaranty of success in London. I was offered far higher terms for a re-engagement, but my purpose had been already answered; the news was spread everywhere that General Tom Thumb, an unparalleled curiosity, was in the city; and it only remained for me to bring him before the public, on my own account and in my own time and way.

I took a furnished mansion in Grafton Street, Bond Street, West End, in the very centre of the most fashionable locality. The house had previously been occupied for several years by Lord Talbot, and Lord Brougham and half a dozen families of the aristocracy and many of the gentry were my neighbors. From this magnificent mansion, I sent letters of invitation to the editors and several of the nobility, to visit the General. Most of them called, and were highly gratified. The word of approval was indeed so passed around in high circles, that uninvited parties drove to my door in crested carriages, and were not admitted.

This procedure, though in some measure a stroke of policy, was neither singular nor hazardous, under the circumstances. I had not yet announced a public exhibition, and as a private American gentleman, it became me to maintain the dignity of my position. I therefore instructed my liveried servant to deny admission to see my “ward,” excepting to persons who brought cards of invitation. He did it in a proper manner, and no offence could be taken, though I was always particular to send an invitation immediately to such as had not been admitted.

During our first week in London, the Hon. Edward Everett, the American Minister, to whom I had letters of introduction, called and was highly pleased with his diminutive though renowned countryman. We dined with him the next day, by invitation, and his family loaded the young American with presents. Mr. Everett kindly promised to use influence at the Palace in person, with a view to having Tom Thumb introduced to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

A few evenings afterwards the Baroness Rothschild sent her carriage for us. Her mansion is a noble structure in Piccadilly, surrounded by a high wall, through the gate of which our carriage was driven, and brought up in front of the main entrance. Here we were received by half a dozen servants, and were ushered up the broad flight of marble stairs to the drawing-room, where we met the Baroness and a party of twenty or more ladies and gentlemen. In this sumptuous mansion of the richest banker in the world, we spent about two hours, and when we took our leave a well-filled purse was quietly slipped into my hand. The golden shower had begun to fall, and that it was no dream was manifest from the fact that, very shortly afterwards, a visit to the mansion of Mr. Drummond, another eminent banker, came to the same golden conclusion.

I now engaged the “Egyptian Hall,” in Piccadilly, and the announcement of my unique exhibition was promptly answered by a rush of visitors, in which the wealth and fashion of London were liberally represented. I made these arrangements because I had little hope of being soon brought to the Queen’s presence, (for the reason before mentioned,) but Mr. Everett’s generous influence secured my object. I breakfasted at his house one morning, by invitation, in company with Mr. Charles Murray, an author of creditable repute, who held the office of Master of the Queen’s Household. In the course of conversation, Mr. Murray inquired as to my plans, and I informed him that I intended going to the Continent shortly, though I should be glad to remain if the General could have an interview with the Queen—adding that such an event would be of great consequence to me.

Mr. Murray kindly offered his good offices in the case, and the next day one of the Life Guards, a tall, noble-looking fellow, bedecked as became his station, brought me a note, conveying the Queen’s invitation to General Tom Thumb and his guardian, Mr. Barnum, to appear at Buckingham Palace on an evening specified. Special instructions were the same day orally given me by Mr. Murray, by Her Majesty’s command, to suffer the General to appear before her, as he would appear anywhere else, without any training in the use of the titles of royalty, as the Queen desired to see him act naturally and without restraint.

Determined to make the most of the occasion, I put a placard on the door of the Egyptian Hall: “Closed this evening, General Tom Thumb being at Buckingham Palace by command of Her Majesty.”

On arriving at the Palace, the Lord in Waiting put me “under drill” as to the manner and form in which I should conduct myself in the presence of royalty. I was to answer all questions by Her Majesty through him, and in no event to speak directly to the Queen. In leaving the royal presence I was to “back out,” keeping my face always towards Her Majesty, and the illustrious lord kindly gave me a specimen of that sort of backward locomotion. How far I profited by his instructions and example, will presently appear.

We were conducted through a long corridor to a broad flight of marble steps, which led to the Queen’s magnificent picture gallery, where Her Majesty and Prince Albert, the Duchess of Kent, and twenty or thirty of the nobility were awaiting our arrival. They were standing at the farther end of the room when the doors were thrown open, and the General walked in, looking like a wax doll gifted with the power of locomotion. Surprise and pleasure were depicted on the countenances of the royal circle at beholding this remarkable specimen of humanity so much smaller than they had evidently expected to find him.

The General advanced with a firm step, and as he came within hailing distance made a very graceful bow, and exclaimed, “Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen!”

A burst of laughter followed this salutation. The Queen then took him by the hand, led him about the gallery, and asked him many questions, the answers to which kept the party in an uninterrupted strain of merriment. The General familiarly informed the Queen that her picture gallery was “first-rate,” and told her he should like to see the Prince of Wales. The Queen replied that the Prince had retired to rest, but that he should see him on some future occasion. The General then gave his songs, dances, and imitations, and after a conversation with Prince Albert and all present, which continued for more than an hour, we were permitted to depart.

Before describing the process and incidents of “backing out,” I must acknowledge how sadly I broke through the counsel of the Lord in Waiting. While Prince Albert and others were engaged with the General, the Queen was gathering information from me in regard to his history, etc. Two or three questions were put and answered through the process indicated in my drill. It was a round-about way of doing business not at all to my liking, and I suppose the Lord in Waiting was seriously shocked, if not outraged, when I entered directly into conversation with Her Majesty. She, however, seemed not disposed to check my boldness, for she immediately spoke directly to me in obtaining the information which she sought. I felt entirely at ease in her presence, and could not avoid contrasting her sensible and amiable manners with the stiffness and formality of upstart gentility at home or abroad.

The Queen was modestly attired in plain black, and wore no ornaments. Indeed, surrounded as she was by ladies arrayed in the highest style of magnificence, their dresses sparkling with diamonds, she was the last person whom a stranger would have pointed out in that circle as the Queen of England.

The Lord in Waiting was perhaps mollified toward me when he saw me following his illustrious example in retiring from the royal presence. He was accustomed to the process, and therefore was able to keep somewhat ahead (or rather aback) of me, but even I stepped rather fast for the other member of the retiring party. We had a considerable distance to travel in that long gallery before reaching the door, and whenever the General found he was losing ground, he turned around and ran a few steps, then resumed the position of “backing out,” then turned around and ran, and so continued to alternate his methods of getting to the door, until the gallery fairly rang with the merriment of the royal spectators. It was really one of the richest scenes I ever saw; running, under the circumstances, was an offence sufficiently heinous to excite the indignation of the Queen’s favorite poodle-dog, and he vented his displeasure by barking so sharply as to startle the General from his propriety. He, however, recovered immediately, and with his little cane commenced an attack on the poodle, and a funny fight ensued, which renewed and increased the merriment of the royal party.

This was near the door of exit. We had scarcely passed into the ante-room, when one of the Queen’s attendants came to us with the expressed hope of Her Majesty that the General had sustained no damage—to which the Lord in Waiting playfully added, that in case of injury to so renowned a personage, he should fear a declaration of war by the United States!

The courtesies of the Palace were not yet exhausted, for we were escorted to an apartment in which refreshments had been provided for us. We did ample justice to the viands, though my mind was rather looking into the future than enjoying the present. I was anxious that the “Court Journal” of the ensuing day should contain more than a mere line in relation to the General’s interview with the Queen, and, on inquiry, I learned that the gentleman who had charge of that feature in the daily papers was then in the Palace. He was sent for by my solicitation, and promptly acceded to my request for such a notice as would attract attention. He even generously desired me to give him an outline of what I sought, and I was pleased to see afterwards, that he had inserted my notice verbatim.

This notice of my visit to the Queen wonderfully increased the attraction of my exhibition and compelled me to obtain a more commodious hall for my exhibition. I accordingly removed to the larger room in the same building, for some time previously occupied by our countryman, Mr. Catlin, for his great Gallery of Portraits of American Indians and Indian Curiosities, all of which remained as an adornment.

On our second visit to the Queen, we were received in what is called the “Yellow Drawing-Room,” a magnificent apartment, surpassing in splendor and gorgeousness anything of the kind I had ever seen. It is on the north side of the gallery, and is entered from that apartment. It was hung with drapery of rich yellow satin damask, the couches, sofas and chairs being covered with the same material. The vases, urns and ornaments were all of modern patterns, and the most exquisite workmanship. The room was panelled in gold, and the heavy cornices beautifully carved and gilt. The tables, pianos, etc., were mounted with gold, inlaid with pearl of various hues, and of the most elegant designs.

We were ushered into this gorgeous drawing-room before the Queen and royal circle had left the dining-room, and, as they approached, the General bowed respectfully, and remarked to Her Majesty “that he had seen her before,” adding, “I think this is a prettier room than the picture gallery; that chandelier is very fine.”

The Queen smilingly took him by the hand, and said she hoped he was very well.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, “I am first rate.”

“General,” continued the Queen, “this is the Prince of Wales.”

“How are you, Prince?” said the General, shaking him by the hand; and then standing beside the Prince, he remarked, “the Prince is taller than I am, but I feel as big as anybody”—upon which he strutted up and down the room as proud as a peacock, amid shouts of laughter from all present.

The Queen then introduced the Princess Royal, and the General immediately led her to his elegant little sofa, which we took with us, and with much politeness sat himself down beside her. Then, rising from his seat, he went through his various performances, and the Queen handed him an elegant and costly souvenir, which had been expressly made for him by her order—for which, he told her, “he was very much obliged, and would keep it as long as he lived.” The Queen of the Belgians, (daughter of Louis Philippe) was present on this occasion. She asked the General where he was going when he left London?

“To Paris,” he replied.

“Whom do you expect to see there?” she continued.

Of course all expected he would answer, “the King of the French,” but the little fellow replied:

“I shall see Monsieur Guillaudeu in Paris.”

The two Queens looked inquiringly to me, and when I informed them that M. Guillaudeu was my French naturalist, who had preceded me to Paris, they laughed most heartily.

On our third visit to Buckingham Palace, Leopold, King of the Belgians, was also present. He was highly pleased, and asked a multitude of questions. Queen Victoria desired the General to sing a song, and asked him what song he preferred to sing.

“Yankee Doodle,” was the prompt reply.

This answer was as unexpected to me as it was to the royal party. When the merriment it occasioned somewhat subsided, the Queen good-humoredly remarked, “That is a very pretty song, General. Sing it if you please.” The General complied, and soon afterwards we retired. I ought to add, that after each of our three visits to Buckingham Palace, a very handsome sum was sent to me, of course by the Queen’s command. This, however, was the smallest part of the advantage derived from these interviews, as will be at once apparent to all who consider the force of Court example in England.

The British public were now fairly excited. Not to have seen General Tom Thumb was decidedly unfashionable, and from March 20th until July 20th, the levees of the little General at Egyptian Hall were continually crowded, the receipts averaging during the whole period about five hundred dollars per day, and sometimes going considerably beyond that sum. At the fashionable hour, between fifty and sixty carriages of the nobility have been counted at one time standing in front of our exhibition rooms in Piccadilly.

Portraits of the little General were published in all the pictorial papers of the time. Polkas and quadrilles were named after him, and songs were sung in his praise. He was an almost constant theme for the London Punch, which served up the General and myself so daintily that it no doubt added vastly to our receipts.

Besides his three public performances per day, the little General attended from three to four private parties per week, for which we were paid eight to ten guineas each. Frequently we would visit two parties in the same evening, and the demand in that line was much greater than the supply. The Queen Dowager Adelaide requested the General’s attendance at Marlborough House one afternoon. He went in his court dress, consisting of a richly embroidered brown silk-velvet coat and short breeches, white satin vest with fancy-colored embroidery, white silk stockings and pumps, wig, bag-wig, cocked hat, and a dress sword.

“Why, General,” said the Queen Dowager, “I think you look very smart to-day.”

“I guess I do,” said the General complacently.

A large party of the nobility were present. The old Duke of Cambridge offered the little General a pinch of snuff, which, he declined. The General sang his songs, performed his dances, and cracked his jokes, to the great amusement and delight of the distinguished circle of visitors.

“Dear little General,” said the kind-hearted Queen, taking him upon her lap, “I see you have got no watch. Will you permit me to present you with a watch and chain?”

“I would like them very much,” replied the General, his eyes glistening with joy as he spoke.

“I will have them made expressly for you,” responded the Queen Dowager; and at the same moment she called a friend and desired him to see that the proper order was executed. A few weeks thereafter we were called again to Marlborough House. A number of the children of the nobility were present, as well as some of their parents. After passing a few compliments with the General, Queen Adelaide presented him with a beautiful little gold watch, placing the chain around his neck with her own hands. The little fellow was delighted, and scarcely knew how sufficiently to express his thanks. The good Queen gave him some excellent advice in regard to his morals, which he strictly promised to obey.

After giving his performances, we withdrew from the royal presence, and the elegant little watch presented by the hands of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager was not only duly heralded, but was also placed upon a pedestal in the hall of exhibition, together with the presents from Queen Victoria, and covered with a glass vase. These presents, to which were soon added an elegant gold snuff-box mounted with turquoise, presented by his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, and many other costly gifts of the nobility and gentry, added greatly to the attractions of the exhibition. The Duke of Wellington called frequently to see the little General at his public levees. The first time he called, the General was personating Napoleon Bonaparte, marching up and down the platform, and apparently taking snuff in deep meditation. He was dressed in the well-known uniform of the Emperor. I introduced him to the “Iron Duke,” who inquired the subject of his meditations. “I was thinking of the loss of the battle of Waterloo,” was the little General’s immediate reply. This display of wit was chronicled throughout the country, and was of itself worth thousands of pounds to the exhibition.

While we were in London the Emperor Nicholas, of Russia, visited Queen Victoria, and I saw him on several public occasions. I was present at the grand review of troops in Windsor Park in honor of and before the Emperor of Russia and the King of Saxony.

General Tom Thumb had visited the King of Saxony and also Ibrahim Pacha who was then in London. At the different parties we attended, we met, in the course of the season, nearly all of the nobility. I do not believe that a single nobleman in England failed to see General Tom Thumb at his own house, at the house of a friend, or at the public levees at Egyptian Hall. The General was a decided pet with some of the first personages in the land, among whom may be mentioned Sir Robert and Lady Peel, the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, Duke of Bedford, Duke of Devonshire, Count d’Orsay, Lady Blessington, Daniel O’Connell, Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, Lord Chesterfield, Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Bates, of the firm of Baring Brothers &



Co., and many other persons of distinction. We had the free entrée to all the theatres, public gardens, and places of entertainment, and frequently met the principal artists, editors, poets, and authors of the country. Albert Smith was a particular friend of mine. He wrote a play for the General entitled “Hop o’ my Thumb,” which was presented with great success at the Lyceum Theatre, London, and in several of the provincial theatres. Our visit in London and tour through the provinces were enormously successful, and after a brilliant season in Great Britain I made preparations to take the General to Paris.




BEFORE taking the little General and party to Paris, I went over alone to arrange the preliminaries for our campaign in that city. Paris was not altogether a strange place to me. Months before, when I had successfully established my exhibition in London, I ran over to Paris to see what I could pick up in the way of curiosities for my Museum in New York, for during my whole sojourn abroad, and amid all the excitements of my new career, I never forgot the interests of my many and generous patrons at home. The occasion which first called me to France was the “quinquennial exposition” in Paris. At that time, there was an assemblage, every five years, of inventors and manufacturers who exhibited specimens of their skill, especially in articles of curious and ingenious mechanism, and I went from London mainly to attend this exposition.

There I met and became well acquainted with Robert Houdin, the celebrated conjurer. He was a watchmaker by trade, but very soon displayed a wonderful ability and ingenuity which he devoted with so much assiduity to the construction of a complicated machine, that he lost all mental power for a considerable period. When he recovered, he employed himself with great success in the manufacture of mechanical toys and automata which attracted much attention, and afterwards he visited Great Britain and other countries, giving a series of juggling exhibitions which were famous throughout Europe.

At this quinquennial exposition which I attended, he received a gold medal for his automata, and the best figure which he had on exhibition I purchased at a good round price. It was an automaton writer and artist, a most ingenious little figure, which sat at a table, and readily answered with the pencil certain questions. For instance: if asked for an emblem of fidelity, the figure instantly drew a correct picture of a handsome dog; the emblem of love was shown in an exquisite drawing of a little Cupid; the automaton would also answer many questions in writing. I carried this curious figure to London and exhibited it for some time in the Royal Adelaide Gallery, and then sent it across the Atlantic to the American Museum.

During my very brief visit to Paris, Houdin was giving evening performances in the Palais Royale, in legerdemain, and I was frequently present by invitation. Houdin also took pains to introduce me to other inventors of moving figures which I purchased freely, and made a prominent feature in my Museum attractions. I managed, too, during my short stay, to see something of the surface of the finest city in the world.

And now, going to Paris the second time, I was very fortunate in making the acquaintance of Mr. Dion Boucicault, who was then temporarily sojourning in that city, and who at once kindly volunteered to advise and assist me in regard to numerous matters of importance relating to the approaching visit of the General. He spent a day with me in the search for suitable accommodations for my company, and by giving me the benefit of his experience, he saved me much trouble and expense. I have never forgotten the courtesy extended to me by this gentleman.

I stopped at the Hotel Bedford, and securing an interpreter, began to make my arrangements. The first difficulty in the way was the government tax for exhibiting natural curiosities, which was no less than one-fourth of the gross receipts, while theatres paid only eleven per cent. This tax was appropriated to the benefit of the city hospitals. Now, I knew from my experience in London, that my receipts would be so large as to make twenty-five per cent of them a far more serious tax than I thought I ought to pay to the French government, even for the benefit of the admirable hospitals of Paris. Accordingly, I went to the license bureau and had an interview with the chief. I told him I was anxious to bring a “dwarf” to Paris, but that the percentage to be paid for a license was so large as to deter me from bringing him; but letting the usual rule go, what should I give him in advance for a two months’ license?

“My dear sir,” he answered, “you had better not come at all; these things never draw, and you will do nothing, or so little that the percentage need not trouble you.”

I expressed my willingness to try the experiment and offered one thousand francs in advance for a license. The chief would not consent and I then offered two thousand francs. This opened his eyes to a chance for a speculation and he jumped at my offer; he would do it on his own account, he said, and pay the amount of one-quarter of my receipts to the hospitals; he was perfectly safe in making such a contract, he thought, for he had 15,000 francs in bank.

But I declined to arrange this with him individually, so he called his associates together and presented the matter in such a way that the board took my offer on behalf of the government. I paid down the 2,000 francs and received a good, strong contract and license. The chief was quite elated and handed me the license with the remark:

“Now we have made an agreement, and if you do not exhibit, or if your dwarf dies during the two months you shall not get back your money.”

“All right,” thought I; “if you are satisfied I am sure I have every reason to be so.” I then hired at a large rent, the Salle Musard, Rue Vivienne, in a central and fashionable quarter close by the boulevards, and engaged an interpreter, ticket-seller, and a small but excellent orchestra. In fact, I made the most complete arrangements, even to starting the preliminary paragraphs in the Paris papers; and after calling on the Honorable William Rufus King, the United States Minister at the Court of France—who assured me that after my success in London there would be no difficulty whatever in my presentation to King Louis Philippe and family—I returned to England.

I went back to Paris with General Tom Thumb and party some time before I intended to begin my exhibitions, and on the very day after my arrival I received a special command to appear at the Tuileries on the following Sunday evening. It will be remembered that Louis Philippe’s daughter, the wife of King Leopold, of Belgium, had seen the General at Buckingham Palace—a fact that had been duly chronicled in the French as well as English papers, and I have no doubt that she had privately expressed her gratification at seeing him. With this advantage, and with the prestige of our receptions by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, we went to the Tuileries with full confidence that our visit and reception would be entirely satisfactory.

At the appointed hour the General and I, arrayed in the conventional court costume, were ushered into a grand saloon of the palace where we were introduced to the King, the Queen, Princess Adelaide, the Duchess d’Orleans and her son the Count de Paris, Prince de Joinville, Duke and Duchess de Nemours, the Duchess d’Aumale, and a dozen or more distinguished persons, among whom was the editor of the official Journal des Debats. The court circle entered into conversation with us without restraint, and were greatly delighted with the little General. King Louis Philippe was minute in his inquiries about my country and talked freely about his experiences when he wandered as an exile in America. He playfully alluded to the time when he earned his living as a tutor, and said he had roughed it generally and had even slept in Indian wigwams. General Tom Thumb then went through with his various performances to the manifest pleasure of all who were present, and at the close the King presented to him a large emerald brooch set with diamonds. The General expressed his gratitude, and the King, turning to me, said: “you may put it on the General, if you please,” which I did, to the evident gratification of the King as well as the General.

King Louis Philippe was so condescending and courteous that I felt quite at home in the royal presence, and ventured upon a bit of diplomacy. The Longchamps celebration was coming—a day once devoted to religious ceremony, but now conspicuous for the display of court and fashionable equipages in the Champs Élysées and the Bois de Boulogne, and as the King was familiarly conversing with me, I ventured to say that I had hurried over to Paris to take part in the Longchamps display and I asked him if the General’s carriage could not be permitted to appear in the avenue reserved for the court and the diplomatic corps, representing that the General’s small but elegant establishment, with its ponies and little coachman and footman, would be in danger of damage in the general throng unless the special privilege I asked was accorded.

The King smilingly turned to one of the officers of his household and after conversing with him for a few moments he said to me:

“Call on the Prefect of Police to-morrow afternoon and you will find a permit ready for you.”

Our visit occupied two hours, and when we went away the General was loaded with fine presents. The next morning all the newspapers noticed the visit, and the Journal des Debats gave a minute account of the interview and of the General’s performances, taking occasion to say, in speaking of the character parts, that “there was one costume which the General wisely kept at the bottom of his box.” That costume, however,—the uniform of Bonaparte—was once exhibited, by particular request, as will be seen anon.

Longchamps day arrived, and among the many splendid equipages on the grand avenue, none attracted more attention than the superb little carriage with four ponies and liveried and powdered coachman and footman, belonging to the General, and conspicuous in the line of carriages containing the Ambassadors to the Court of France. Thousands upon thousands rent the air with cheers for “General Tom Pouce.” There never was such an advertisement; the journals next day made elaborate notices of the “turnout,” and thereafter whenever the General’s carriage appeared on the boulevards, as it did daily, the people flocked to the doors of the cafés and shops to see it pass.

Thus, before I opened the exhibition all Paris knew that General Tom Thumb was in the city. The French are exceedingly impressible; and what in London is only excitement, in Paris becomes furor. Under this pressure, with the prestige of my first visit to the Tuileries and the numberless paragraphs in the papers, I opened my doors to an eager throng. The élite of the city came to the exhibition; the first day’s receipts were 5,500 francs, which would have been doubled if I could have made room for more patrons. There were afternoon and evening performances and from that day secured seats at an extra price were engaged in advance for the entire two months. The season was more than a success, it was a triumph.

It seemed, too, as if the whole city was advertising me. The papers were profuse in their praises of the General and his performances. Figaro, the Punch of



Paris, gave a picture of an immense mastiff running away with the General’s carriage and horses in his mouth. Statuettes of “Tom Pouce” appeared in all the windows, in plaster, Parian, sugar and chocolate; songs were written about him and his lithograph was seen everywhere. A fine café on one of the boulevards took the name of “Tom Pouce” and displayed over the door a life-size statue of the General. In Paris, as in London, several eminent painters expressed their desire to paint his portrait, but the General’s engagements were so pressing that he found little time to sit to artists. All the leading actors and actresses came to the General’s levees and petted him and made him many presents. Meanwhile, the daily receipts continued to swell, and I was compelled to take a cab to carry my bag of silver home at night.

The official, who had compromised with me for a two months’ license at 2,000 francs, was amazed as well as annoyed at the success of my “dwarf.” He came, or sent a man, to the levees to take account of the receipts and every additional thousand francs gave him an additional twinge. He seriously appealed to me to give him more money; but when I reminded him of the excellent bargain he supposed he was making, especially when he added the conditional clause that I should forfeit the 2,000 francs if I did not exhibit or if the General died, he smiled faintly and said something about a “Yankee trick.” I asked him if he would renew our agreement for two months more on the same terms; and he shrugged his shoulders and said:

“No, Monsieur Barnum; you will pay me twenty-five per cent of your receipts when the two months of our contract expires.”

But I did not; for I appealed to the authorities, claiming that I should pay only the ordinary theatrical tax, since the General’s exhibition consisted chiefly of character imitations in various costumes, and he was more attractive as an actor than as a natural curiosity. My view of the case was decided to be correct, and thereafter, in Paris and throughout France, with few exceptions, I paid only the eleven per cent theatrical tax.

Indeed, in Paris, the General made a great hit as an actor and was elected a member of the French Dramatic Society. Besides holding his levees, he appeared every night at the Vaudeville Theatre in a French play, entitled “Petit Poucet,” and written expressly for him, and he afterwards repeated the part with great success in other cities. The demands upon our time were incessant. We were invited everywhere to dinners and entertainments, and as many of these were understood to be private performances of the General, we were most liberally remunerated therefor. M. Galignani invited us to a soiree and introduced us to some of the most prominent personages, including artists, actors and editors, in Paris. The General was frequently engaged at a large price to show himself for a quarter of an hour at some fancy or charitable fair, and much money was made in this way. On Sundays, he was employed at one or another of the great gardens in the outskirts, and thus was seen by thousands of working people who could not attend his levees. All classes became acquainted with “Tom Pouce.”

We were commanded to appear twice more at the Tuileries, and we were also invited to the palace on the King’s birthday to witness the display of fireworks in honor of the anniversary. Our fourth and last visit to the royal family was by special invitation at St. Cloud. On each occasion we met nearly the same persons, but the visit to St. Cloud was by far the most interesting of our interviews. On this one occasion, and by the special request of the King, the General personated Napoleon Bonaparte in full costume. Louis Philippe had heard of the General in this character, and particularly desired to see him; but the affair was quite “on the sly,” and no mention was made of it in the papers, particularly in the Journal des Debats, which thought, no doubt, that costume was still “at the bottom of the General’s box.” We remained an hour, and at parting, each of the royal company gave the General a splendid present, almost smothered him with kisses, wished him a safe journey through France, and a long and happy life. After bidding them adieu, we retired to another portion of the palace to make a change of the General’s costume, and to partake of some refreshments which were prepared for us. Half an hour afterwards, as we were about leaving the palace, we went through a hall leading to the front door, and in doing so passed the sitting-room in which the royal family were spending the evening. The door was open, and some of them happening to espy the General, called out for him to come in and shake hands with them once more. We entered the apartment, and there found the ladies sitting around a square table, each provided with two candles, and every one of them, including the Queen, was engaged in working at embroidery, while a young lady was reading aloud for their edification. I am sorry to say, I believe this is a sight seldom seen in families of the aristocracy on either side of the water. At the church fairs in Paris, I had frequently seen pieces of embroidery for sale, which were labelled as having been presented and worked by the Duchess d’Orleans, Princess Adelaide, Duchess de Nemours, and other titled ladies.

We also visited, by invitation, the Napoleon School for young ladies, established by the First Napoleon, at St. Denis, five miles north of Paris, and the General greatly delighted the old pensioners at the Invalides by calling upon them, and shaking many of them by the hand. If the General could have been permitted to present to these survivors of Waterloo his representation of their chief and Emperor, he would have aroused their enthusiasm as well as admiration.

On the Fourth of July, 1844, I was in Grenelle, outside the barriers of Paris, when I remembered that I had the address of Monsieur Regnier, an eminent mechanician, who lived in the vicinity. Wishing to purchase a variety of instruments such as he manufactured, I called at his residence. He received me very politely, and I soon was deeply interested in this intelligent and learned man. He was a member of many scientific institutions, was “Chevalier of the Legion of Honor,” etc.

While he was busy in making out my bill, I was taking a cursory view of the various plates, drawings, etc., which adorned his walls, when my eyes fell on a portrait which was familiar to me. I was certain that I could not be mistaken, and on approaching nearer it proved to be, as I expected, the engraved portrait of Benjamin Franklin. It was placed in a glazed frame, and on the outside of the glass were arranged thirteen stars made of metal, forming a half circle round his head.

“Ah!” I exclaimed, “I see you have here a portrait of my fellow-countryman, Dr. Franklin.”

“Yes,” replied M. Regnier, “and he was a great and an excellent man. When he was in Paris in ’98, he was honored and respected by all who knew him, and by none more so than by the scientific portion of the community. At that time, Dr. Franklin was invited by the President of the Society of Emulation to decide upon the merits of various works of art submitted for inspection, and he awarded my father, for a complicated lock, the prize of a gold medal.

“While my father was with him at his hotel, a young Quaker called upon the Doctor. He was a total stranger to Franklin, but at once proceeded to inform him that he had come to Paris on business, had unfortunately lost all his money, and wished to borrow six hundred francs to enable him to return to his family in Philadelphia. Franklin inquired his family name, and upon hearing it immediately counted out the money, gave the young stranger some excellent advice, and bade him adieu. My father was struck by the generosity of Dr. Franklin, and as soon as the young man had departed, he told the Doctor that he was astonished to see him so free with his money to a stranger; that people did not do business in that way in Paris; and what he considered very careless was, that Franklin took no receipt, not even a scratch of a pen from the young man. Franklin replied that he always felt a duty and pleasure in relieving his fellow-men, and especially in this case, as he knew the family; and they were honest and worthy persons. My father, himself a generous man,” continued M. Regnier, “was affected nearly to tears, and begged the Doctor to present him with his portrait. He did so, and this is it. My father has been dead some years. He bequeathed the portrait to me, and there is not money enough in Paris to buy it.”

I need not say that I was delighted with this recital. I remarked to M. Regnier that he should double the number of stars, as we now (in 1844) had twenty-six States instead of thirteen, the original number.

“I am aware of that,” he replied; “but I do not like to touch the work which was left by my father. I hold it sacred; and,” added he, “I suppose you are not aware of the uses we make of these stars?” Assuring him in the negative—“Those stars,” said he, “are made of steel, and on the night of every anniversary of American Independence (which is this night), it was always the practice of my father, and will always be mine, to collect our family and children together, darken the room, and by means of electricity, these stars, which are connected, are lighted up, and the portrait illuminated by electricity, Franklin’s favorite science—thus forming a halo of glory about his head, and doing honor to the name of a man whose fame should be perpetuated to eternity.”

In continuing the conversation, I found that this good old gentleman was perfectly acquainted with the history of America, and he spoke feelingly of what he believed to be the high and proud destiny of our republic. He insisted on my remaining to supper, and witnessing his electrical illumination. Need I say that I accepted the invitation? Could an American refuse?

We partook of a substantial supper, upon which the good old gentleman invoked the blessing of our Father in Heaven, and at the conclusion he returned hearty thanks. At nine o’clock the children and family of M. Regnier and his son-in-law were called in, the room was darkened, the electrical battery was charged, and the wire touched to one of the outer stars. The whole thirteen became instantly bright as fire, and a beautiful effect was produced. What more simple and yet beautiful and appropriate manner could be chosen to honor the memory of Franklin? And what an extraordinary coincidence it was that I, a total stranger in Paris, should meet such a singular man as M. Regnier at all, and more especially on that day of days, the anniversary of our Independence! At ten o’clock I took my leave of this worthy family, but not till we had all joined in the following toast proposed by M. Regnier:

“Washington, Franklin, and Lafayette—heroes, philosophers, patriots, and honest men: May their names stand brightest on the list of earthly glory, when, in after ages, this whole world shall be one universal republic, and every individual under Heaven shall acknowledge the truth that man is capable of self-government.”

It will not be considered surprising that I should feel at home with Monsieur Regnier. Both the day and the man conspired to excite and gratify my patriotism; and the presence of Franklin, my love of my native land.

During my stay in Paris, a Russian Prince, who had been living in great splendor in that city, suddenly died, and his household and personal effects were sold at auction. I attended the sale for several days in succession, buying many articles of vertu, and, among others, a magnificent gold tea-set, and a silver dining-service, and many rare specimens of Sevres china. These articles bore the initials of the family name of the Prince, and his own, “P. T.,” thus damaging the articles, so that the silver and gold were sold for their weight value only. I bought them, and adding “B.” to the “P. T.,” had a very fine table service, still in my possession, and bearing my own initials, “P. T. B.”

While dining one day with my friend, Dr. Brewster, in Paris, all the company present were in raptures over some very fine “Lafitte” wine on the table, and the usual exclamations, “delicious!” and “fruity!” were heard on all sides. When I went to the south of France, the Doctor gave me a letter of introduction to Lafitte’s agent, Mr. Good, at Bordeaux, and I was shown through the extensive cellar of the establishment. The agent talked learnedly, almost affectionately, about the choice and exclusive vineyards of the establishment, and how the stones in the ground retailed the warmth derived from the sun during the day throughout the night, thus mellowing and maturing the grapes, and resulting in the production of a peculiar wine which was possible to no other plot of ground in the entire grape country.

I afterwards learned, however, that this exclusive establishment bought up the entire wine product of all the vineyards in the region round about—it was like the celebrated “Cabana” cigars in Havana. One day a friend was dining with me in Bordeaux and I called for a bottle of “Lafitte,” which, purchased on the very ground of its manufacture, was of course genuine and deliciously “fruity.” It was very old wine of some famous year, and the bottle as brought up from the bin was covered with cobwebs and dust. But while we were sipping the wine and exclaiming “fruity” at proper intervals, I happened to take out my knife and quite inadvertently cut off a bit of the label. The next day when my friend was again dining with me I called for another bottle of the peculiar Lafitte which had so delighted us yesterday. It came cobwebbed and dust-covered and was duly discussed and pronounced deliciously “fruity.” But horrors! all at once, something caught my attention and I exclaimed:

“Do you see that cut label? That is the very bottle which held the rare old wine of yesterday; there is the ‘ear-mark’ which I left with my knife on the bottle”—and I summoned the landlord and thus addressed him:

“What do you mean, you scoundrel, by putting your infernal vin ordinaire into old bottles, and passing it off upon us as genuine ‘Lafitte?’ ”

He protested that such a thing was impossible; we were at the very fountain head of the wine, and no one would dare to attempt such a fraud, especially upon experienced wine-tasters like ourselves. But I showed him my careless but remembered mark on the bottle, and proved by my friend that we had the same bottle for our wine of the day before. This was shown so conclusively and emphatically that the landlord finally confessed his fraud, and said that though he had sold thousands of bottles of so-called “Lafitte” to his guests, he never had two dozen bottles of the genuine article in his possession in his life!

Every one who has been in the wine district knows that the wine is trodden from the grapes by the bare feet of the peasants, and while I was there, desiring a new experience, I myself trod out a half barrel or so with my own naked feet, dancing vigorously the while to the sound of a fiddle.

In spite of the extraordinary attention and unbounded petting the little General received at the hands of all classes, he was in no sense a “spoiled child,” but retained throughout that natural simplicity of character and demeanor which added so much to the charm of his exhibitions. He was literally the pet of Paris, and after a protracted and most profitable season we started on a tour through France. The little General’s small Shetland ponies and miniature carriage would be sure to arouse the enthusiasm of the “Provincials,” so I determined to take them along with us. We went first to Rouen, and from thence to Toulon, visiting all the intermediate towns, including Orleans, Nantes, Brest, Bordeaux,—where I witnessed a review by the Dukes de Nemours and d’Aumale, of 20,000 soldiers who were encamped near the city. From Bordeaux we went to Toulouse, Montpellier, Nismes, Marseilles, and many other less important places, holding levees for a longer or shorter time. While at Nantes, Bordeaux and Marseilles the General also appeared in the theatres in his French part of “Petit Poucet.”

Very soon after leaving Paris for our tour through France, I found that there were many places where it would be impossible to proceed otherwise than by post. General Tom Thumb’s party numbered twelve persons, and these, with all their luggage, four little ponies, and a small carriage, must be transported in posting vehicles of some description. I therefore resolved that as posting in France was as cheap, and more independent than any other method of travel, a purchase of posting vehicles should be made for the sole use of the renowned General Tom Thumb and suite. One vehicle, however large, would have been insufficient for the whole company and “effects,” and, moreover, would have been against the regulations. These regulations required that each person should pay for the use of one horse, whether using it or not, and I therefore made the following arrangements: I purchased a post-chaise to carry six persons, to be drawn by six horses; a vehicle on springs, with seats for four persons, and room for the General’s four ponies and carriage, to be drawn by four horses; and lastly, a third vehicle for conveying the baggage of the company, including the elegant little house and furniture set on the stage in the General’s performances of “Petit Poucet” at the theatres, the whole drawn by two horses.

With such a retinue the General “cut quite a swell” in journeying through the country, travelling, indeed, in grander style than a Field Marshal would have thought of doing in posting through France. All this folly and expense, the uninitiated would say, of employing twelve horses and twelve persons, to say nothing of the General’s four ponies, in exhibiting a person weighing only fifteen pounds! But when this retinue passed along the roads, and especially when it came into a town, people naturally and eagerly inquired what great personage was on his travels, and when told that it was “the celebrated General Tom Thumb and suite,” everybody desired to go and see him. It was thus the best advertising we could have had, and was really, in many places, our cheapest and in some places, our only mode of getting from point to point where our exhibitions were to be given.

During most of the tour I was a week or two ahead of the company, making arrangements for the forthcoming exhibitions, and doing my entire business without the aid of an interpreter, for I soon “picked up” French enough to get along very well indeed. I did not forget that Franklin learned to speak French when he was seventy years of age, and I did not consider myself too old to learn, what, indeed, I was obliged to learn in the interests of my business. As for the little General, who was accompanied by a preceptor and translator, he very soon began to give his entire speaking performances in French, and his piece “Petit Poucet” was spoken as if he were a native.

In fact, I soon became the General’s avant courier, though not doing the duties of an avant courier to an ordinary exhibition, since these duties generally consist in largely puffing the “coming man” and expected show, thus endeavoring to create a public appetite and to excite curiosity. My duties were quite different; after engaging the largest theatre or saloon to be found in the town, I put out a simple placard, announcing that the General would appear on such a day. Thereafter, my whole energies were directed, apparently, to keeping the people quiet; I begged them not to get excited; I assured them through the public journals, that every opportunity should be afforded to permit every person to see “the distinguished little General, who had delighted the principal monarchs of Europe, and more than a million of their subjects,” and that if one exhibition in the largest audience room in the town would not suffice, two or even three would be given.

This was done quietly, and yet, as an advertisement, effectively, for, strange as it may seem, people who were told to keep quiet, would get terribly excited, and when the General arrived and opened his exhibitions, excitement would be at fever heat, the levees would be thronged, and the treasury filled!

Numerous were the word battles I had with mayors, managers of theatres, directors of hospitals, and others, relative to what I considered—justly, I think—the outrageous imposition which the laws permitted in the way of taxes upon “exhibitions.” Thus the laws required, for the sake of charity, twenty-five per cent of my gross receipts for the hospitals; while to encourage a local theatre, or theatres, which might suffer from an outside show, twenty per cent more must be given to the local managers.

Of course this law was nearly a dead letter; for, to have taken forty-five per cent of my gross receipts at every exhibition would soon have driven me from the provinces, so the hospitals were generally content with ten per cent, and five or ten francs a day satisfied the manager of a provincial theatre. But at Bordeaux the manager of the theatre wished to engage the General to appear in his establishment, and as I declined his offer, he threatened to debar me from exhibiting anywhere in town, by demanding for himself the full twenty per cent the law allowed, besides inducing the directors of the hospitals to compel me to pay them twenty-five per cent more.

Here was a dilemma! I must yield and take half I thought myself entitled to and permit the General to play for the manager, or submit to legal extortion, or forego my exhibitions. I offered the manager six per cent of my receipts and he laughed at me. I talked with the hospital directors and they told me that as the manager favored them, they felt bound to stand by him. I announced in the public journals that the General could not appear in Bordeaux on account of the cupidity and extortionate demands of the theatre manager and the hospital directors. The people talked and the papers denounced; but manager and directors remained as firm as rocks in their positions. Tom Thumb was to arrive in two days and I was in a decided scrape. The mayor interceded for me, but to no avail; the manager had determined to enforce an almost obsolete law unless I would permit the General to play in his theatre every night. My Yankee “dander” was up and I declared that I would exhibit the General gratis rather than submit to the demand. Whereupon, the manager only laughed at me the more to think how snugly he had got me.

Now it happened that, once upon a time, Bordeaux, like most cities, was a little village, and the little village of Vincennes lay one mile east of it. Bordeaux had grown and stretched itself and thickly settled far beyond Vincennes, bringing the latter nearly in the centre of Bordeaux; yet, strange to say, Vincennes maintained its own identity, and had its own Mayor and municipal rights quite independent of Bordeaux. I could scarcely believe my informant who told me this, but I speedily sought out the Mayor of Vincennes, found such a personage, and cautiously inquired if there was a theatre or a hospital within his limits? He assured me there was not. I told him my story, and asked:

“If I open an exhibition within your limits will there be any percentages to pay from my receipts?”

“Not a sou,” replied the Mayor.

“Will you give me a writing to that effect?”

“With the greatest pleasure,” replied the Mayor, and he did so at once.

I put this precious paper in my pocket, and in a few moments I hired the largest dancing saloon in the place, a room capable of holding over 2,000 people. I then announced, especially to the delighted citizens of Bordeaux, that the General would open his exhibitions in Vincennes, which he soon did to an overflowing house. For thirteen days we exhibited to houses averaging more than 3,000 francs per day, and for ten days more at largely increased receipts, not one sou of which went for taxes or percentages. The manager and directors, theatre and hospital, got nothing, instead of the fair allowance I would willingly have given them. Oh, yes! they got something,—that is, a lesson,—not to attempt to offset French Shylockism against Yankee shrewdness.

We were in the South of France in the vintage season. Nothing can surpass the richness of the country at that time of the year. We travelled for many miles where the eye could see nothing but vineyards loaded with luscious grapes and groves of olive trees in full bearing. It is literally a country of wine and oil. Our remunerative and gratifying round of mingled pleasure and profit, brought us at last to Lille, capital of the department of Nord, and fifteen miles from the Belgian frontier, and from there we proceeded to Brussels.




IN crossing the border from France into Belgium, Professor Pinte, our interpreter and General Tom Thumb’s preceptor, discovered that he had left his passport behind him—at Lille, at Marseilles, or elsewhere in France, he could not tell where, for it was a long time since he had been called upon to present it. I was much annoyed and indignantly told him that he “would never make a good showman, because a good showman never forgot anything.” I could see that my allusion to him as a “showman” was by no means pleasant, which leads me to recount the circumstances under which I was first brought in contact with the Professor.

He was really a “Professor” and teacher of English in one of the best educational establishments in Paris. Very soon after opening my exhibitions in that city, I saw the necessity of having a translator who was qualified to act as a medium between the General and the highly cultivated audiences that daily favored us at our levees. I had begun with a not over-cultivated interpreter, who, when the General personated Cupid, for instance, would cry out “Coopeed,” to which some one would be sure to respond “Stoopeed,” to the annoyance of myself and the amusement of the audience. I accordingly determined to procure the best interpreter I could find and I was directed to call upon Professor Pinte. I saw him and briefly stated what I wanted, in what capacity I proposed to employ him, and what salary I would pay him. He was highly indignant and informed me that he was “no showman,” and had no desire to learn or engage in the business.

“But, my dear sir,” said I, “it is not as a showman that I wish to employ your valuable services, but as a preceptor to my young and interesting ward, General Tom Thumb, whom I desire to have instructed in the French language and in other accomplishments you are so competent to impart. At the same time, I should expect that you would be willing to accompany my ward and your pupil and attend his public exhibitions for the purpose of translating, as may be necessary, to the cultivated people of your own class who are the principal patrons of our entertainments.”

This seemed to put an entirely new face upon the matter, especially as I had offered the Professor a salary five times larger, probably, than he was then receiving. So he rapidly revolved the subject in his mind and said:

“Ah! while I could not possibly accept a situation as a showman, I should be most happy to accept the terms and the position as preceptor to your ward.”

He was engaged, and at once entered upon his duties, not only as preceptor to the General, but as the efficient and always excellent interpreter at our exhibitions, and wherever we needed his services on the route. As he had lost his passport, when we came to Courtrai on the Belgian frontier, I managed to procure a permit for him which enabled him to proceed with the party. This was but the beginning of difficulties, for I had all our property, including the General’s ponies and equipage, to pass through the Custom-house, and among other things there was a large box of medals, with a likeness of the General on one side and of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on the other side, which were sold in large numbers as souvenirs at our exhibitions. They were struck off at a considerable expense in England, and commanded a ready sale.

The Custom-house officers were informed, however, that these medals were mere advertising cards, as they really were, of our exhibitions, and I begged their acceptance of as many as they pleased to put in their pockets. They were beautiful medals, and a few dozen were speedily distributed among the delighted officials, who forthwith passed our show-bills, lithographs and other property with very little trouble. They wanted, however, to charge a duty upon the General’s ponies and carriage, but when I produced a document showing that the French government had admitted them duty-free, they did the same. This superb establishment led these officials to think he must be a very distinguished man, and they asked what rank he held in his own country.

“He is Prince Charles Stratton, of the Dukedom of Bridgeport, in the Kingdom of Connecticut,” said Sherman.

Whereupon they all reverently raised their hats when the General entered the car. Some of the railway men who had seen the distribution of medals among the Custom-house officers came to me and begged similar “souvenirs” of their distinguished passenger, and I gave the medals very freely, till the applications became so persistent as to threaten a serious pecuniary loss. At last I handed out a final dozen in one package, and said: “There, that is the last of them; the rest are in the box, and beyond my reach.”

All this while Professor Pinte was brooding over my remark to him about the loss of his passport; the word “showman” rankled, and he asked me:

“Mr. Barnum, do you consider me a showman?”

I laughingly replied, “Why, I consider you the eminent Professor Pinte, preceptor to General Tom Thumb; but, after all, we are all showmen.”

Finding himself so classed with the rest of us, he ventured to inquire “what were the qualifications of a good showman,” to which I replied:

“He must have a decided taste for catering for the public; prominent perceptive faculties; tact; a thorough knowledge of human nature; great suavity; and plenty of ‘soft soap.’ ”

“Soft sup!” exclaimed the interested Professor, “what is ‘soft sup.’ ”

I explained, as best I could, how the literal meaning of the words had come to convey the idea of getting into the good graces of people and pleasing those with whom we are brought in contact. Pinte laughed, and as he thought of the generous medal distribution, an idea struck him:

“I think those railway officials must have very dirty hands—you are compelled to use so much ‘soft sup.’ ”

Brussels is Paris in miniature and is one of the most charming cities I ever visited. We found elegant quarters, and the day after our arrival by command we visited King Leopold and the Queen at their palace. The King and Queen had already seen the General in London, but they wished to present him to their children and to the distinguished persons whom we found assembled. After a most agreeable hour we came away—the General, as usual, receiving many fine presents.

The following day, I opened the exhibition in a beautiful hall, which on that day and on every afternoon and evening while we remained there, was crowded by throngs of the first people in the city. On the second or third day, in the midst of the exhibition, I suddenly missed the case containing the valuable presents the General had received from kings, queens, noblemen and gentlemen, and instantly gave the alarm; some thief had intruded for the express purpose of stealing these jewels, and, in the crowd, had been entirely successful in his object.

The police were notified, and I offered 2,000 francs reward for the recovery of the property. A day or two afterwards a man went into a jeweller’s shop and offered for sale, among other things, a gold snuff-box, mounted with turquoises, and presented by the Duke of Devonshire to the General. The jeweller, seeing the General’s initials on the box, sharply questioned the man, who became alarmed and ran out of the shop. An alarm was raised, and the man was caught. He made a clean breast of it, and in the course of a few hours the entire property was returned, to the great delight of the General and myself. Wherever we exhibited afterwards, no matter how respectable the audience, the case of presents was always carefully watched.

While I was in Brussels I could do no less than visit the battle-field of Waterloo, and I proposed that our party should be composed of Professor Pinte, Mr. Stratton, father of General Tom Thumb, Mr. H. G. Sherman, and myself. Going sight-seeing was a new sensation to Stratton, and as it was necessary to start by four o’clock in the morning, in order to accomplish the distance (sixteen miles) and return in time for our afternoon performance, he demurred.

“I don’t want to get up before daylight and go off on a journey for the sake of seeing a darned old field of wheat,” said Stratton.

“Sherwood, do try to be like somebody, once in your life, and go,” said his wife.

The appeal was irresistible, and he consented. We engaged a coach and horses the night previous, and started punctually at the hour appointed. We stopped at the neat little church in the village of Waterloo, for the purpose of examining the tablets erected to the memory of some of the English who fell in the contest. Thence we passed to the house in which the leg of Lord Uxbridge (Marquis of Anglesey) was amputated. A neat little monument in the garden designates the spot where the shattered member had been interred. In the house is shown a part of the boot which is said to have once covered the unlucky leg. The visitor feels it but considerate to hand a franc or two to the female who exhibits the monument and limb. I did so, and Stratton, though he felt that he had not received the worth of his money, still did not like to be considered penurious, so he handed over a piece of silver coin to the attendant. I expressed a desire to have a small piece of the boot to exhibit in my Museum; the lady cut off, without hesitation, a slip three inches long by one in width. I handed her a couple more francs, and Stratton desiring, as he said, to “show a piece of the boot in old Bridgeport,” received a similar slip, and paid a similar amount. I could not help thinking that if the lady was thus liberal in dispensing pieces of the “identical boot” to all visitors, this must have been about the ninety-nine thousandth boot that had been cut as the “Simon pure” since 1815.

With the consoling reflection that the female purchased all the cast-off boots in Brussels and its vicinity, and rejoicing that somebody was making a trifle out of that accident besides the inventor of the celebrated “Anglesey leg,” we passed on towards the battle-field, lying about a mile distant.

Arriving at Mont Saint Jean, a quarter of a mile from the ground, we were beset by some eighteen or twenty persons, who offered their services as guides, to indicate the most important localities. Each applicant professed to know the exact spot where every man had been placed who had taken part in the battle, and each, of course, claimed to have been engaged in that sanguinary contest, although it had occurred thirty years before, and some of these fellows were only, it seemed, from twenty-five to twenty-eight years of age! We accepted an old man, who, at first declared that he was killed in the battle, but perceiving our looks of incredulity, consented to modify his statement so far as to assert that he was horribly wounded, and lay upon the ground three days before receiving assistance.

Once upon the ground, our guide, with much gravity, pointed out the place where the Duke of Wellington took his station during a great part of the action; the locality where the reserve of the British army was stationed; the spot where Napoleon placed his favorite guard; the little mound on which was erected a temporary observatory for his use during the battle; the portion of the field at which Blucher entered with the Prussian army; the precise location of the Scotch Greys; the spot where fell Sir Alexander Gordon, Lieut. Col. Canning, and many others of celebrity. I asked him if he could tell me where Captain Tippitiwichet, of the Connecticut Fusileers, was killed. “Oui, Monsieur,” he replied, with perfect confidence, for he felt bound to know, or to pretend to know, every particular. He then proceeded to point out exactly the spot where my unfortunate Connecticut friend had breathed his last. After indicating the locations where some twenty more fictitious friends from Coney Island, New Jersey, Cape Cod and Saratoga Springs, had given up the ghost, we handed him his commission and declined to give him further trouble. Stratton grumbled at the imposition as he handed out a couple of francs for the information received.

Upon quitting the battle-field we were accosted by a dozen persons of both sexes with baskets on their arms or bags in their hands, containing relics of the battle for sale. These consisted of a great variety of implements of war, pistols, bullets, etc., besides brass French eagles, buttons, etc. I purchased a number of them for the Museum, and Stratton was equally liberal in obtaining a supply for his friends in “Old Bridgeport.” We also purchased maps of the battle-ground, pictures of the triumphal mound surmounted by the colossal Belgic Lion in bronze, etc., etc. These frequent and renewed taxations annoyed Stratton very much, and as he handed out a five franc piece for a “complete guide-book,” he remarked, that “he guessed the battle of Waterloo had cost a darned sight more since it was fought than it did before!”

But his misfortunes did not terminate here. When we had proceeded four or five miles upon our road home, crash went the carriage. We alighted, and found that the axle-tree was broken. It was now a quarter past one o’clock. The little General’s exhibition was advertised to commence in Brussels at two o’clock, and could not take place without us. We were unable to walk the distance in double the time at our disposal, and as no carriage was to be got in that part of the country, I concluded to take the matter easy, and forego all idea of exhibiting before evening. Stratton, however, could not bear the thought of losing the chance of taking in six or eight hundred francs, and he determined to take matters in hand, in order, if possible, to get our party into Brussels in time to save the afternoon exhibition. He hastened to a farm-house, accompanied by the interpreter, Professor Pinte, Sherman and myself leisurely bringing up the rear. Stratton asked the old farmer if he had a carriage. He had not. “Have you no vehicle?” he inquired.

“Yes, I have that vehicle,” he replied, pointing to an old cart filled with manure, and standing in his barnyard.

“Thunder! is that all the conveyance you have got?” asked Stratton. Being assured that it was, Stratton concluded that it was better to ride in a manure cart than not get to Brussels in time.

“What will you ask to drive us to Brussels in three-quarters of an hour?” demanded Stratton.



“It is impossible,” replied the farmer; “I should want two hours for my horse to do it in.”

“But ours is a very pressing case, and if we are not there in time we lose more than five hundred francs,” said Stratton.

The old farmer pricked up his ears at this, and agreed to get us to Brussels in an hour, for eighty francs. Stratton tried to beat him down, but it was of no use.

“Oh, go it, Stratton,” said Sherman; “eighty francs you know is only sixteen dollars, and you will probably save a hundred by it, for I expect a full house at our afternoon exhibition to-day.”

“But I have already spent about ten dollars for nonsense,” said Stratton, “and we shall have to pay for the broken carriage besides.”

“But what can you do better?” chimed in Professor Pinte.

“It is an outrageous extortion to charge sixteen dollars for an old horse and cart to go ten miles. Why, in old Bridgeport I could get it done for three dollars,” replied Stratton, in a tone of vexation.

“It is the custom of the country,” said Professor Pinte, “and we must submit to it.”

By the way, this was a favorite expression of the Professor’s. Whenever we were imposed upon, or felt that we were not used right, Pinte would always endeavor to smooth it over by informing us it was “the custom of the country.”

“Well, it’s a thundering mean custom, any how,” said Stratton, “and I wont stand such an imposition.”

“But what shall we do?” earnestly inquired Mr. Pinte. “It may be a high price, but it is better to pay that than to lose our afternoon performance and five or six hundred francs.”

This appeal to the pocket touched Stratton’s feelings; so submitting to the extortion, he replied to our interpreter, “Well, tell the old robber to dump his dung-cart as soon as possible, or we shall lose half an hour in starting.”

The cart was “dumped” and a large, lazy-looking Flemish horse was attached to it with a rope harness. Some boards were laid across the cart for seats, the party tumbled into the rustic vehicle, a red-haired boy, son of the old farmer, mounted the horse, and Stratton gave orders to “get along.” “Wait a moment,” said the farmer, “you have not paid me yet,” “I’ll pay your boy when we get to Brussels, provided he gets there within the hour,” replied Stratton.

“Oh, he is sure to get there in an hour,” said the farmer, “but I can’t let him go unless you pay in advance.” The minutes were flying rapidly, the anticipated loss of the day exhibition of General Tom Thumb flitted before his eyes, and Stratton, in very desperation, thrust his hand into his pocket and drew forth sixteen five-franc pieces, which he dropped, one at a time, into the hand of the farmer, and then called out to the boy, “There now, do try to see if you can go ahead.”

The boy did go ahead, but it was with such a snail’s pace that it would have puzzled a man of tolerable eyesight to have determined whether the horse was moving or standing still. To make it still more interesting, it commenced raining furiously. As we had left Brussels in a coach, and the morning had promised us a pleasant day, we had omitted our umbrellas. We were soon soaked to the skin. We “grinned and bore it” awhile without grumbling. At length Stratton, who was almost too angry to speak, desired Mr. Pinte to ask the red-haired boy if he expected to walk his horse all the way to Brussels.

“Certainly,” replied the boy; “he is too big and fat to do any thing but walk. We never trot him.”

Stratton was terrified as he thought of the loss of the day exhibition; and he cursed the boy, the cart, the rain, the luck, and even the battle of Waterloo itself. But it was all of no use, the horse would not run, but the rain did—down our backs.

At two o’clock, the time appointed for our exhibition, we were yet some seven miles from Brussels. The horse walked slowly and philosophically through the pitiless storm, the steam majestically rising from the old manure-cart, to the no small disturbance of our unfortunate olfactories. “It will take two hours to get to Brussels at this rate,” growled Stratton. “Oh, no,” replied the boy, “it will only take about two hours from the time we started.”

“But your father agreed to get us there in an hour,” answered Stratton.

“I know it,” responded the boy, “but he knew it would take more than two.”

“I’ll sue him for damage, by thunder,” said Stratton.

“Oh, there would be no use in that,” chimed in Mr. Pinte, “for you could get no satisfaction in this country.”

“But I shall lose more than a hundred dollars by being two hours instead of one,” said Stratton.

“They care nothing about that; all they care for is your eighty francs,” remarked Pinte.

“But they have lied and swindled me,” replied Stratton.

“Oh, you must not mind that, it is the custom of the country.”

Stratton gave “the country,” and its “customs,” another cursing.

All things will finally have an end, and our party did at length actually arrive in Brussels, cart and all, in precisely two hours and a half from the time we left the farmers house. Of course we were too late to exhibit the little General. Hundreds of visitors had gone away disappointed.

With feelings of utter desperation, Stratton started for a barber’s shop. He had a fine, black, bushy head of hair, of which he was a little proud, and every morning he submitted it to the curling-tongs of the barber. His hair had not been cut for several weeks, and after being shaved, he desired the barber to trim his flowing locks a little. The barber clipped off the ends of the hair, and asked Stratton if that was sufficient. “No,” he replied, “I want it trimmed a little shorter; cut away, and I will tell you when to stop.”

Stratton had risen from bed at an unusual hour, and after having passed through the troubles and excitements of the unlucky morning, he began to feel a little drowsy. This feeling was augmented by the soothing sensations of the tonsorial process, and while the barber quietly pursued his avocation, Stratton as quietly fell asleep. The barber went entirely over his head, cutting off a couple of inches of hair with every clip of his scissors. He then rested for a moment; expecting his customer would tell him that it was sufficient; but the unconscious Stratton uttered not a word, and the barber, thinking he had not cut the hair close enough, went over the head again. Again did he wait for an answer, little thinking that his patron was asleep. Remembering that Stratton had told him to “cut away, and he would tell him when to stop,” the innocent barber went over the head the third time, cutting the hair nearly as close as if he had shaved it with a razor! Having finished, he again waited for orders from his customer, but he uttered not a word. The barber was surprised, and that surprise was increased when he heard a noise which seemed very like a snore coming from the nasal organ of his unconscious victim.

The poor barber saw the error that he had committed, and in dismay, as if by mistake, he hit Stratton on the side of the head with his scissors, and woke him. He started to his feet, looked in the glass, and to his utter horror saw that he was unfit to appear in public without a wig! He swore like a trooper, but he could not swear the hair back on to his head, and putting on his hat, which dropped loosely over his eyes, he started for the hotel. His despair and indignation were so great that it was some time before he could give utterance to words of explanation. His feelings were not allayed by the deafening burst of laughter which ensued. He said it was the first time that he ever went a sight-seeing, and he guessed it would be the last!

Several months subsequent to our visit to Waterloo, I was in Birmingham, and there made the acquaintance of a firm who manufactured to order, and sent to Waterloo, barrels of “relics” every year. At Waterloo these “relics” are planted, and in due time dug up, and sold at large prices as precious remembrances of the great battle. Our Waterloo purchases looked rather cheap after this discovery.

While we were in Brussels, Mrs. Stratton, the mother of the General, tasted some sausages which she declared the best things she had eaten in France or Belgium; in fact, she said “she had found little that was fit to eat in this country, for every thing was so Frenchified and covered in gravy, she dared not eat it; but there was something that tasted natural about these sausages; she had never eaten any as good, even in America.” She sent to the landlady to inquire the name of them, for she meant to buy some to take along with her. The answer came that they were called “saucisse de Lyon,” (Lyons sausages,) and straightway Mrs. Stratton went out and purchased half a dozen pounds. Mr. Sherman soon came in, and, on learning what she had in her package, he remarked: “Mrs. Stratton, do you know what Lyons sausages are made of?”

“No,” she replied; “but I know that they are first-rate!”

“Well,” replied Sherman, “they may be good, but they are made from donkeys!” which is said to be the fact. Mrs. Stratton said she was not to be fooled so easily—that she knew better, and that she should stick to the sausages.

Presently Professor Pinte entered the room. “Mr. Pinte,” said Sherman, “you are a Frenchman, and know every thing about edibles; pray tell me what Lyons sausages are made of.”

“Of asses,” replied the inoffensive professor.

Mrs. Stratton seized the package, the street window was open, and, in less than a minute, a large brindle dog was bearing the “Lyons sausages” triumphantly away.

There were many other amusing incidents during our brief stay at Brussels, but I have no space to record them. After a very pleasant and successful week, we returned to London.




IN London the General again opened his levees in Egyptian Hall with undiminished success. His unbounded popularity on the Continent and his receptions by King Louis Philippe, of France, and King Leopold, of Belgium, had added greatly to his prestige and fame. Those who had seen him when he was in London months before came to see him again, and new visitors crowded by thousands to the General’s levees.

Besides giving these daily entertainments, the General appeared occasionally for an hour, during the intermissions, at some place in the suburbs; and for a long time he appeared every day at the Surrey Zoölogical Gardens, under the direction of the proprietor, my particular friend Mr. W. Tyler. This place subsequently became celebrated for its great music hall, in which Spurgeon, the sensational preacher, first attained his notoriety. The place was always crowded, and when the General had gone through with his performances on the little stage, in order that all might see him he was put into a balloon which, secured by ropes, was then passed around the ground just above the people’s heads. Some forty men managed the ropes and prevented the balloon from rising; but, one day, a sudden gust of wind took the balloon fairly out of the hands of half the men who had hold of the ropes, while others were lifted from the ground, and had not an alarm been instantly given which called at least two hundred to the rescue the little General would have been lost.

In addition to other engagements, the General frequently performed in Douglass’s Standard Theatre, in the city, in the play “Hop o’ my Thumb,” which was written for him by my friend, Albert Smith, whom I met soon after my first arrival in London and with whom I became very intimate. After my arrival in Paris, seeing the decided success of “Petit Poucet,” it occurred to me that I should want such a play when I returned to England and the United States. So I wrote to Mr. Albert Smith, inviting him to make me a visit in Paris, intending to have him see this play and either translate or adapt it, or write a new one in English. He came and stayed with me a week, visiting the Vaudeville Theatre to see “Petit Poucet” nearly every night, and we compared notes and settled upon a plan for “Hop o’ my Thumb.” He went back to London and wrote the play and it was very popular indeed.

During our stay of three months, at this time, in Egyptian Hall, we made occasional excursions and gave exhibitions at Brighton, Bath, Cheltenham, Leamington and other watering places and fashionable resorts. It was at the height of the season in these places, and our houses were very large and our profits in proportion.

In October, 1844, I made my first return visit to the United States, leaving General Tom Thumb in England, in the hands of an accomplished and faithful agent, who continued the exhibitions during my absence. One of the principal reasons for my return at this time, was my anxiety to renew the Museum building lease, although my first lease of five years had still three years longer to run. I told Mr. Olmsted that if he would not renew my lease on the same terms, for at least five years more, I would immediately put up a new building, remove my Museum, close his building during the last year of my lease, and cover it from top to bottom with placards, stating where my new Museum was to be found. Pending an arrangement, I went to Mr. A. T. Stewart, who had just purchased the Washington Hall property, at the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street, intending to erect a store on the site, and proposed to join him in building, he to take the lower floor of the new store for his business, and I to own and occupy the upper stories for my Museum. He said he would give me an answer in the course of a week. Meanwhile, Mr. Olmsted gave me the additional five years lease I asked, and I so notified Mr. Stewart. Seeing the kind of building that Mr. Stewart erected on his lots, I do not know if he seriously entertained my proposition to join him in the enterprise; but he was by no means the great merchant then he afterwards became, and neither of us then thought, probably, of the gigantic enterprises we were subsequently to undertake, and the great things we were to accomplish. Having completed my business arrangements in New York, I returned to England with my wife and daughters, and hired a house in London. My house was the scene of constant hospitality which I extended to my numerous friends in return for the many attentions shown to me. It seemed then as if I had more and stronger friends in London than in New York. I had met and had been introduced to “almost everybody who was anybody,” and among them all, some of the best soon became to me much more than mere acquaintances.

Among the distinguished people whom I met, I was introduced to the poet-banker, Samuel Rogers. I saw him at a dinner party at the residence of the American Minister, the Honorable Edward Everett. The old banker was very feeble, but careful nursing and all the appliances that unbounded wealth could bring, still kept the life in him and he managed, not only to continue to give his own celebrated breakfasts, but to go out frequently to enjoy the hospitality of others. As we were going in to dinner, I stepped aside, so that Mr. Rogers who was tottering along leaning on the arm of a friend, could go in before me, when Mr. Rogers said:

“Pass in, Mr. Barnum, pass in; I always consider it an honor to follow an American.”

When our three months’ engagement at Egyptian Hall had expired, I arranged for a protracted provincial tour through Great Britain. I had made a flying visit to Scotland before we went to Paris—mainly to procure the beautiful Scotch costumes, daggers, etc., which were carefully made for the General at Edinburgh, and to teach the General the Scotch dances, with a bit of the Scotch dialect, which added so much to the interest of his exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere. My second visit to Scotland, for the purpose of giving exhibitions, extended as far as Aberdeen.

In England we went to Manchester, Birmingham, and to almost every city, town, and even village of importance. We travelled by post much of the time—that is, I had a suitable carriage made for my party, and a van which conveyed the General’s carriage, ponies, and such other “property” as was needed for our levees,—and we never had the slightest difficulty in finding good post horses at every station where we wanted them. This mode of travelling was not only very comfortable and independent, but it enabled us to visit many out of the way places, off from the great lines of travel, and in such places we gave some of our most successful exhibitions. We also used the railway lines freely, leaving our carriages at any station, and taking them up again when we returned.

I remember once making an extraordinary effort to reach a branch-line station, where I meant to leave my teams and take the rail for Rugby. I had a time-table, and knew at what hour exactly I could hit the train; but unfortunately the axle to my carriage broke, and as an hour was lost in repairing it, I lost exactly an hour in reaching the station. The train had long been gone, and I must be in Rugby, where we had advertised a performance. I stormed around till I found the superintendent, and told him “I must instantly have an extra train to Rugby.”

“Extra train!” said he, with surprise and a half sneer, “extra train! why you can’t have an extra train to Rugby for less than sixty pounds.”

“Is that all?” I asked; “well, get up your train immediately and here are your sixty pounds. What in the world are sixty pounds to me, when I wish to go to Rugby, or elsewhere, in a hurry!”

The astonished superintendent took the money, bustled about, and the train was soon ready. He was greatly puzzled to know what distinguished person—he thought he must be dealing with some prince, or, at least, a duke—was willing to give so much money to save a few hours of time, and he hesitatingly asked whom he had the honor of serving.

“General Tom Thumb.”

We reached Rugby in time to give our performance, as announced, and our receipts were £160, which quite covered the expense of our extra train and left a handsome margin for profit.

When we were in Oxford, a dozen or more of the students came to the conclusion that as the General was a little fellow, the admission fee to his entertainments should be paid in the smallest kind of money. They accordingly provided themselves with farthings, and as each man entered, instead of handing in a shilling for his ticket, he laid down forty-eight farthings. The counting of these small coins was a great annoyance to Mr. Stratton, the General’s father, who was ticket seller, and after counting two or three handsful, vexed at the delay which was preventing a crowd of ladies and gentlemen from buying tickets, Mr. Stratton lost his temper and cried out:

“Blast your quarter pennies! I am not going to count them! you chaps who haven’t bigger money can chuck your copper into my hat and walk in.”

At Cambridge, some of the under-graduates pretended to take offence because our check-taker would not permit them to smoke in the exhibition hall, and one of them managed to involve him in a quarrel which ended with a challenge from the student to the check-taker, who was sure he must fight a duel at sunrise the next morning, and as he expected to be shot, he suffered the greatest mental agony. About midnight, however, after he had been sufficiently scared, I brought him the gratifying intelligence that I had succeeded in settling the dispute. His gratitude at the relief thus afforded, knew no bounds.

Mr. Stratton was a genuine Yankee, and thoroughly conversant with the Yankee vernacular, which he used freely. In exhibiting the General, I often said to visitors, that Tom Thumb’s parents and the rest of the family were persons of the ordinary size, and that the gentleman who presided in the ticket-office was the General’s father. This made poor Stratton an object of no little curiosity, and he was pestered with all sorts of questions; on one occasion an old dowager said to him:

“Are you really the father of General Tom Thumb?”

“Wa’al,” replied Stratton, “I have to support him!”

This evasive method of answering is common enough in New England, but the literal dowager had her doubts, and promptly rejoined:

“I rather think he supports you!”

In my journeyings through England, I always tried to get back to London Saturday night, so as to pass Sunday with my family, and to meet the friends whom we invited to dine with us on the only day in the week when I could be at home. The railway facilities are so excellent in England, that, no matter how far I might be from London, I could generally reach that city by Sunday morning, and yet do a full week’s work in the provinces. This, however, necessitated travel Saturday night, and while I travelled I must sleep. Sleeping cars were, and, I believe, still are unknown in that country; but I travelled so much, and was, by this time, so well known to the guards on the leading lines, that I could generally secure one of the compartments in a first-class “coach” to myself, and my method for obtaining a good night’s sleep, was to lay the seat-cushions on the floor of the car, thus, with my blanket to cover me, making a tolerable bed.

On one of these Saturday night excursions, I lay down on my extemporized couch, with the expectation of arriving at London at five o’clock in the morning. When I awoke the car was standing still, and the sun was well up in the heavens. Thinking we were very much behind time, and wondering why the train did not go on, at last I got up and looked out of the window, and, to my utter amazement, I found my car locked up in a yard, surrounded by a high fence. Espying a man who seemed to have charge of the premises, I shouted to him to come and let me out of the car, which was also locked. It instantly flashed across my mind that at this station, the guard, seeing no person sitting on the seats in the car, and concluding that it was empty, had detached it from the train, and switched it off into the yard. The astonished man whom I summoned to my assistance, informed me that I was sixty miles from London, and that there would not be another train to the city till evening. It was ten o’clock, and I was to have been home at five. I raised a great row, and demanded as my right an extra train to carry me to London, to meet the friends whom it was all-important I should see that day. I had to wait, however, till evening, and I arrived home at seven or eight o’clock, long after my friends had gone, though to the great gratification of my family, who thought some serious accident must have happened to me.

It must not be supposed that during my protracted stay abroad I confined myself wholly to business or limited my circle of observation with a golden rim. To be sure, I ever had “an eye to business,” but I had also two eyes for observation and these were busily employed in leisure hours. I made the most of my opportunities and saw, hurriedly, it is true, nearly everything worth seeing in the various places which I visited. All Europe was a great curiosity shop to me and I willingly paid my money for the show.

While in London, my friend Albert Smith, a jolly companion, as well as a witty and sensible author, promised that when I reached Birmingham he would come and spend a day with me in “sight-seeing,” including a visit to the house in which Shakespeare was born.

Early one morning in the autumn of 1844, my friend Smith and myself took the box-seat of an English mail-coach, and were soon whirling at the rate of twelve miles an hour over the magnificent road leading from Birmingham to Stratford. The distance is thirty miles. At a little village four miles from Stratford, we found that the fame of the bard of Avon had travelled thus far, for we noticed a sign over a miserable barber’s shop, “Shakespeare hair-dressing—a good shave for a penny.” In twenty minutes more we were set down at the door of the Red Horse Hotel, in Stratford. The coachman and guard were each paid half a crown as their perquisites.

While breakfast was preparing, we called for a guide-book to the town, and the waiter brought in a book, saying that we should find in it the best description extant of the birth and burial place of Shakespeare. I was not a little proud to find this volume to be no other than the “Sketch-Book” of our illustrious countryman, Washington Irving; and in glancing over his humorous description of the place, I discovered that he had stopped at the same hotel where we were then awaiting breakfast.

After examining the Shakespeare House, as well as the tomb and the church in which all that is mortal of the great poet rests, we ordered a post-chaise for Warwick Castle. While the horses were harnessing, a stage-coach stopped at the hotel, and two gentlemen alighted. One was a sedate, sensible-looking man; the other an addle-headed fop. The former was mild and unassuming in his manners; the latter was all talk, without sense or meaning—in fact, a regular Charles Chatterbox. He evidently had a high opinion of himself, and was determined that all within hearing should understand that he was—somebody. Presently the sedate gentleman said:

“Edward, this is Stratford. Let us go and see the house where Shakespeare was born.”

“Who the devil is Shakespeare?” asked the sensible young gentleman.

Our post-chaise was at the door; we leaped into it, and were off, leaving the “nice young man” to enjoy a visit to the birth-place of an individual of whom he had never before heard. The distance to Warwick is fourteen miles. We went to the Castle, and approaching the door of the Great Hall, were informed by a well-dressed porter that the Earl of Warwick and family were absent, and that he was permitted to show the apartments to visitors. He introduced us successively into the “Red Drawing-Room,” “The Cedar Drawing-Room,” “The Gilt Room,” “The State Bed-Room,” “Lady Warwick’s Boudoir,” “The Compass Room,” “The Chapel,” and “The Great Dining-Room.” As we passed out of the Castle, the polite porter touched his head (he of course had no hat on it) in a style which spoke plainer than words, “Half a crown each, if you please, gentlemen.” We responded to the call, and were then placed in charge of another guide, who took us to the top of “Guy’s Tower,” at the bottom of which he touched his hat a shilling’s worth; and placing ourselves in charge of a third conductor, an old man of seventy, we proceeded to the Greenhouse to see the Warwick Vase—each guide announcing at the end of his short tour: “Gentlemen, I go no farther,” and indicating that the bill for his services was to be paid. The old gentleman mounted a rostrum at the side of the vase, and commenced a set speech, which we began to fear was interminable; so tossing him the usual fee, we left him in the middle of his oration.

Passing through the porter’s lodge on our way out, under the impression that we had seen all that was interesting, the old porter informed us that the most curious things connected with the Castle were to be seen in his lodge. Feeling for our coin, we bade him produce his relics, and he showed us a lot of trumpery, which, he gravely informed us, belonged to that hero of antiquity, Guy, Earl of Warwick. Among these were his sword, shield, helmet, breast-plate, walking-staff, and tilting-pole, each of enormous size—the horse armor nearly large enough for an elephant, a large pot which would hold seventy gallons, called “Guy’s Porridge Pot,” his flesh-fork, the size of a farmer’s hay-fork, his lady’s stirrups, the rib of a mastodon which the porter pretended belonged to the great “Dun Cow,” which, according to tradition, haunted a ditch near Coventry, and after doing injury to many persons, was slain by the valiant Guy. The sword weighed nearly 200 pounds, and the armor 400 pounds.

I told the old porter he was entitled to great credit for having concentrated more lies than I had ever before heard in so small a compass. He smiled, and evidently felt gratified by the compliment.

“I suppose,” I continued, “that you have told these marvellous stories so often, that you believe them yourself?”

“Almost!” replied the porter, with a grin of satisfaction that showed he was “up to snuff,” and had really earned two shillings.

“Come now, old fellow,” said I, “what will you take for the entire lot of those traps? I want them for my Museum in America.”

“No money would buy these valuable historical mementos of a by-gone age,” replied the old porter with a leer.

“Never mind,” I exclaimed; “I’ll have them duplicated for my Museum, so that Americans can see them and avoid the necessity of coming here, and in that way I’ll burst up your show.”

Albert Smith laughed immoderately at the astonishment of the porter when I made this threat, and I was greatly amused, some years afterwards, when Albert Smith became a successful showman and was exhibiting his “Mont Blanc” to delighted audiences in London, to discover that he had introduced this very incident into his lecture, of course, changing the names and locality. He often confessed that he derived his very first idea of becoming a showman from my talk about the business and my doings, on this charming day when we visited Warwick.

The “Warwick races” were coming off that day, within half a mile of the village, and we therefore went down and spent an hour with the multitude. There was very little excitement regarding the races, and we concluded to take a tour through the “penny shows,” the vans of which lined one side of the course for the distance of a quarter of a mile. On applying to enter one van, which had a large pictorial sign of giantesses, white negro, Albino girls, learned pig, big snakes, etc., the keeper exclaimed:

“Come, Mister, you is the man what hired Randall, the giant, for ‘Merika, and you shows Tom Thumb; now can you think of paying less than sixpence for going in here?”

The appeal was irresistible; so, satisfying his demands, we entered. Upon coming out, a whole bevy of showmen from that and neighboring vans surrounded me, and began descanting on the merits and demerits of General Tom Thumb.

“Oh,” says one, “I knows two dwarfs what is better ten times as Tom Thumb.”

“Yes,” says another, “there’s no use to talk about Tom Thumb while Melia Patton is above the ground.”

“Now, I’ve seen Tom Thumb,” added a third, “and he is a fine little squab, but the only ‘vantage he’s got is he can chaff so well. He chaffs like a man; but I can learn Dick Swift in two months, so that he can chaff Tom Thumb crazy.”

“Never mind,” added a fourth, “I’ve got a chap training what you none on you knows, what’ll beat all the ‘thumbs’ on your grapplers.”

“No, he can’t,” exclaimed a fifth, “for Tom Thumb has got the name, and you all know the name’s everything. Tom Thumb couldn’t never shine, even in my van, ‘long side of a dozen dwarfs I knows, if this Yankee hadn’t bamboozled our Queen,—God bless her—by getting him afore her half a dozen times.”

“Yes, yes,—that’s the ticket,” exclaimed another; “our Queen patronizes everything foreign, and yet she wouldn’t visit my beautiful wax-works to save the crown of Hingland.”

“Your beautiful wax-works!” they all exclaimed, with a hearty laugh.

“Yes, and who says they haint beautiful?” retorted the other; “they was made by the best Hitalian hartist in this country.”

“They was made by Jim Caul, and showed all over the country twenty years ago,” rejoined another; “and arter that they laid five years in pawn in old Moll Wiggin’s cellar, covered with mould and dust.”

“Well, that’s a good ’un, that is!” replied the proprietor of the beautiful wax-works, with a look of disdain.

I made a move to depart, when one of the head showmen exclaimed, “Come, Mister, don’t be shabby; can you think of going without standing treat all round?”

“Why should I stand treat?” I asked.

“ ‘Cause ’tain’t every day you can meet such a bloody lot of jolly brother-showmen,” replied Mr. Wax-works.

I handed out a crown, and left them to drink bad luck to the “foreign wagabonds what would bamboozle their Queen with inferior dwarfs, possessing no advantage over the ‘natyves’ but the power of chaffing.”

While in the showmen’s vans seeking for acquisitions to my Museum in America, I was struck with the tall appearance of a couple of females who exhibited as the “Canadian giantesses, each seven feet in height.” Suspecting that a cheat was hidden under their unfashionably long dresses, which reached to the floor and thus rendered their feet invisible, I attempted to solve the mystery by raising a foot or two of the superfluous covering. The strapping young lady, not relishing such liberties from a stranger, laid me flat upon the floor with a blow from her brawny hand. I was on my feet again in tolerably quick time, but not until I had discovered that she stood upon a pedestal at least eighteen inches high.

We returned to the hotel, took a post-chaise, and drove through decidedly the most lovely country I ever beheld. Since taking that tour, I have heard that two gentlemen once made a bet, each, that he could name the most delightful drive in England. Many persons were present, and the two gentlemen wrote on separate slips of paper the scene which he most admired. One gentleman wrote, “The road from Warwick to Coventry;” the other had written, “The road from Coventry to Warwick.”

In less than an hour we were set down at the outer walls of Kenilworth Castle, which Scott has greatly aided to immortalize in his celebrated novel of that name. This once noble and magnificent castle is now a stupendous ruin, which has been so often described that I think it unnecessary to say anything about it here. We spent half an hour in examining the interesting ruins, and then proceeded by post-chaise to Coventry, a distance of six or eight miles. Here we remained four hours, during which time we visited St. Mary’s Hall, which has attracted the notice of many antiquaries. We also took our own “peep” at the effigy of the celebrated “Peeping Tom,” after which we visited an exhibition called the “Happy Family,” consisting of about two hundred birds and animals of opposite natures and propensities, all living in harmony together in one cage. This exhibition was so remarkable that I bought it and hired the proprietor to accompany it to New York, and it became an attractive feature in my Museum.

We took the cars the same evening for Birmingham, where we arrived at ten o’clock, Albert Smith remarking, that never before in his life had he accomplished a day’s journey on the Yankee go-ahead principle. He afterwards published a chapter in Bentley’s Magazine entitled “A Day with Barnum,” in which he said we accomplished business with such rapidity, that when he attempted to write out the accounts of the day, he found the whole thing so confused in his brain that he came near locating “Peeping Tom” in the house of Shakespeare, while Guy of Warwick would stick his head above the ruins of Kenilworth, and the Warwick Vase appeared in Coventry.




WHILE I was at Aberdeen, in Scotland, I met Anderson, the “Wizard of the North.” I had known him for a long time, and we were on familiar terms. The General’s exhibitions were to close on Saturday night, and Anderson was to open in the same hall on Monday evening. He came to our exhibition, and at the close we went to the hotel together to get a little supper. After supper we were having some fun and jokes together, when it occurred to Anderson to introduce me to several persons who were sitting in the room, as the “Wizard of the North,” at the same time asking me about my tricks and my forthcoming exhibition. He kept this up so persistently that some of our friends who were present, declared that Anderson was “too much for me,” and, meanwhile, fresh introductions to strangers who came in, had made me pretty generally known in that circle as the “Wizard of the North,” who was to astonish the town in the following week. I accepted the situation at last, and said:

“Well, gentlemen, as I perform here for the first time, on Monday evening, I like to be liberal, and I should be very happy to give orders of admission to those of you who will attend my exhibition.”

The applications for orders were quite general, and I had written thirty or forty, when Anderson, who saw that I was in a fair way of filling his house with “dead-heads,” cried out—

“Hold on! I am the ‘Wizard of the North.’ I’ll stand the orders already given, but not another one.”

Our friends, including the “Wizard” himself, began to think that I had rather the best of the joke.

During our three years’ stay abroad, I made a second hasty visit to America, leaving the General in England in the hands of my agents. I took passage from Liverpool on board a Cunard steamer, commanded by Captain Judkins. One of my fellow passengers was the celebrated divine, Robert Baird. I had known him as the author of an octavo volume, “Religion in America”; and while that work had impressed me as exhibiting great ability and an outspoken honesty of purpose, it had also given me the notion that its author must be very rigid and intolerant as a sectarian. Still I was happy to make his acquaintance on board the steamship, and soon regarded with favor the venerable Presbyterian divine.

Dr. Baird had been for some time a missionary in Sweden. He was now paying a visit to his native land. I found him a shrewd, well-informed Christian gentleman, and I took much pleasure in hearing him converse. One night it was storming furiously. The waves, rolling high, afforded a sight of awful grandeur, to witness which I was tempted to put on a pea-jacket, go upon the deck, and lash myself to the side of the ship. After I had been there nearly an hour, wrapt in meditation and wonder, not unmixed with awe, Dr. Baird came up in the darkness, feeling his way cautiously along the deck. As he came where I was, I hailed him; and he asked what I was doing so long up there.

“Listening to the preaching, Doctor,” I replied; “and I think it beats even yours, although I have never had the pleasure of hearing you.”

“Ah!” he replied, “none of us can preach like this. How humble and insignificant we all feel in the presence of such a display of the Almighty power; and how grateful we should be to remember that infinite love guides this power.”

The Sunday following, divine service was held as usual in the large after cabin. Of course it was the Episcopal form of worship. The captain conducted the services, assisted by the clerk and the ship’s surgeon. A dozen or two of the sailors, shaved, washed, and neatly dressed, were marched into the cabin by the mate; most of the passengers were also present.

Those who have witnessed this service, as conducted by Captain Judkins, need not be reminded that he does it much as he performs his duties on deck. He speaks as one having authority; and a listener could hardly help feeling that there would be some danger of a “row” if the petitions (made as a sort of command) were not speedily answered.

After dinner I asked Dr. Baird if he would be willing to preach to the passengers in the forward cabin. He said he would cheerfully do so if it was desired. I mentioned it to the passengers, and there was a generally-expressed wish among them that he should preach. I went into the forward cabin, and requested the steward to arrange the chairs and tables properly for religious service. He replied that I must first get the captain’s consent. Of course, I thought this was a mere matter of form; so I went to the captain’s office, and said:

“Captain, the passengers desire to have Dr. Baird conduct a religious service in the forward cabin. I suppose there is no objection.”

“Decidedly there is,” replied the captain, gruffly; “and it will not be permitted.”

“Why not?” I asked, in astonishment.

“It is against the rules of the ship.”

“What! to have religious services on board?”

“There have been religious services once to-day, and that is enough. If the passengers do not think that is good enough, let them go without,” was the captain’s hasty and austere reply.

“Captain,” I replied, “do you pretend to say you will not allow a respectable and well-known clergyman to offer a prayer and hold religious services on board your ship at the request of your passengers?”

“That, sir, is exactly what I say. So, now, let me hear no more about it.”

By this time a dozen passengers were crowding around his door, and expressing their surprise at his conduct. I was indignant, and used sharp language.

“Well,” said I, “this is the most contemptible thing I ever heard of on the part of the owners of a public



passenger ship. Their meanness ought to be published far and wide.”

“You had better ‘shut up,’ ” said Captain Judkins, with great sternness.

“I will not ‘shut up,’ ” I replied; “for this thing is perfectly outrageous. In that out-of-the-way forward cabin, you allow, on week days, gambling, swearing, smoking and singing, till late at night; and yet on Sunday you have the impudence to deny the privilege of a prayer-meeting, conducted by a gray-haired and respected minister of the gospel. It is simply infamous!”

Captain Judkins turned red in the face; and, no doubt feeling that he was “monarch of all he surveyed,” exclaimed, in a loud voice:

“If you repeat such language, I will put you in irons.”

“Do it, if you dare,” said I, feeling my indignation rising rapidly. “I dare and defy you to put your finger on me. I would like to sail into New York Harbor in handcuffs, on board a British ship, for the terrible crime of asking that religious worship may be permitted on board. So you may try it as soon as you please; and, when we get to New York, I’ll show you a touch of Yankee ideas of religious intolerance.”

The captain made no reply; and, at the request of friends, I walked to another part of the ship. I told the Doctor how the matter stood, and then, laughingly, said to him:

“Doctor, it may be dangerous for you to tell of this incident when you get on shore; for it would be a pretty strong draught upon the credulity of many of my countrymen if they were told that my zeal to hear an Orthodox minister preach was so great that it came near getting me into solitary confinement. But I am not prejudiced, and I like fair play.”

The old Doctor replied: “Well, you have not lost much; and, if the rules of this ship are so stringent, I suppose we must submit.”

The captain and myself had no further intercourse for five or six days; not until a few hours before our arrival in New York. Being at dinner, he sent his champagne bottle to me, and asked to “drink my health,” at the same time stating that he hoped no ill-feeling would be carried ashore. I was not then, as I am now, a teetotaler; so I accepted the proffered truce, and I regret that I must add I “washed down” my wrath in a bottle of Heidsick—a poor example, which I hope never to repeat. We have frequently met since, and always with friendly greetings; but I have ever felt that his manners were unnecessarily coarse and offensive in carrying out an arbitrary and bigoted rule of the steamship company.

Though I have never lacked definite opinions, or hesitated to exhibit decided preferences in regard to the different religious creeds, I have never been so sectarian as to imagine that any one of the denominations is without any truth, or exists for no good purpose. On the contrary, I hold that every faith has somewhat of truth; and that each sect, in its way, does a work which perhaps no one of the other sects can do as well. I was strongly confirmed in this general belief by an impromptu utterance of Dr. Baird, during one of our conversations, which, under the circumstances, was not a little amusing, as it certainly evinced a good deal of insight into human nature. It is well known that the old Doctor was very rigid in his theological views, and in his career never spared either the Methodists or the people of the so-called liberal opinions. During our passage across the Atlantic, we very naturally had considerable tilting in regard to opinions which divided us, though in a thoroughly good-natured way. At last I recalled the case of a woman, somewhat noted among her neighbors for coarseness of speech, including profanity, making her altogether such a person as needed the refining influence of religious teaching. Describing the very unpromising condition of this woman, I said:

“Well, Doctor, if you can do anything with your creed to improve that woman, I should be glad to see you undertake the job.”

I was at once struck with the business air in which he considered the exigencies of what was undoubtedly a hard case. It was clear that he had dropped the character of the sectarian, and was taking a common-sense view of the problem. The problem was soon solved, and he replied:

“Mr. Barnum, it is of no use for you, with your opinions, to attempt to do anything for that sort of a person; and it is equally useless for me, with my views, to attempt it either. But, if you could contrive a way to set some fiery, rousing Methodist to work upon her, why, he is just the man to do it!”

There were a number of pretty wild young men among our passengers, and on several occasions they tried their wits upon Dr. Baird. But he was a man of sterling common sense, and with that, very quick at repartee; and they never made anything out of him. On one occasion, at dinner, they were in great glee, and, for a “lark,” they sent him their champagne bottle to drink a glass of wine with them. They, of course, supposed he was a teetotaler, as, indeed, I believe he was; but when the waiter handed him the bottle, he quietly poured a spoonful or two into his glass, and, gracefully bowing to the young gentlemen, placed it to his lips, but not tasting it. Of course, they could say nothing.

Early one morning, several of these youths came upon deck, and, meeting the Doctor there, one of them exclaimed:

“It is cold as hell this morning, ain’t it, Doctor?”

“I am unable to state the exact height of the thermometer in that locality,” said he, gravely; “but I am afraid you will know all about it some time, if you are not careful.”

The laugh was decidedly against the young man; but one of his companions, who thought considerably of himself, seemed anxious to take up the cudgel, and he remarked:

“Dr. Baird, your brother clergymen are making a great ado in New York about the state of crime there; and they have got a smelling-committee, who go about and smell out all filthy places there, and report them to the public. Indeed, they do say that several of the clergy, and some laymen of the Arthur Tappan stripe, have got a book in which they have written down a list of all the bad houses in New York. I should like to see that book. Ha! ha! I wonder if they have really got one?”

“I don’t know how that is,” replied Doctor Baird; “but,” casting his eyes heavenward, “I can assure you there is a book in which all such places are recorded, as well as the names of those who occupy or visit them; and in due time it will be opened to public gaze.”

The young man looked cowed, and extending his hand to Doctor Baird, said:

“Sir, I confess I have made too light of a serious matter. I sincerely beg your pardon, if I have offended you.”

“You have not offended me,” said the Doctor, with a benignant smile; “but I am rejoiced to perceive that you have offended your own sense of propriety and morality. I trust you will not forget it.”

This was the last attempt on board that ship to try a lance with Doctor Baird.

Several years later, when I was engaged in the Jenny Lind enterprise, Doctor Baird called upon me. Having been so long a missionary in Sweden, the native land of the great songstress, he had a special desire to make her acquaintance and listen to her singing. I introduced him to her, and gave him the entrée to her concerts. He improved the opportunity, and he also made frequent calls upon her. She became much interested in him. Indeed, on several occasions she contributed liberally to the charitable institutions he had recommended to her favorable notice.

During my residence in London I made the acquaintance of an American, whom I will call Simpson, and his wife. They had originally been poor, and accustomed to pretty low society. Their opportunities for education had been limited, and they were what we should term vulgar, ignorant, common people. But by a turn of Fortune’s wheel they became suddenly rich, and like some other fools who know nothing of their own country, they must rush to make the tour of Europe.

Mr. Simpson was an ignorant, good-natured fellow, fond of sporting large amounts of jewelry; was very social with Englishmen; always bragging of our “glorious country”; and was particularly given to boasting that he was once poor and now he was rich. Whenever he met Americans he was delighted, and insisted on the privilege of “standing treats” to all around, familiarly slapping on the back, and treating as an old chum, any American gentleman, however refined, whom he might come in contact with.

Mrs. Simpson was a coarse woman, yet always studying politeness, and particularly the proper pronunciation of words. She was ever trying to appear refined; and she prided herself upon understanding all the rules of etiquette and fashion. She was continually purchasing new dresses and fashionable articles of apparel. She loaded herself down with diamonds and tawdry jewelry, and would frequently appear in the streets with six or eight different dresses in a day. But, strange to say, with all her pride and vanity with regard to being considered the perfection of refinement, she had an awful habit of using profane language! She really seemed to think this an evidence of good breeding. Perhaps she thought it a luxury which rich people were entitled to enjoy. This peculiarity occasionally led to most ludicrous scenes.

The Simpsons were from New England; and in their conversation they had the nasal Yankee twang, and the peculiar pronunciation of the illiterate class of the New England people.

Those who have heard John E. Owens in “Solon Shingle,” are aware that preserved fruits are in New England called “sauce,” by the vulgar pronounced “sass.” But when Mrs. Simpson heard the word in England pronounced sauce, she was very anxious that John, her husband, should adopt the new pronunciation. He tried hard to learn, but would frequently forget himself and say “sass.” Mrs. Simpson would lose her patience on such occasions, and reprove her husband sharply. Indeed, if he escaped without receiving some profane epithet from the lips of his would-be fashionable wife, it was a wonder.

On one occasion I happened to meet them at dinner with an English family in London, to whom I had, in the way of business, introduced them a few weeks previously. We had scarcely taken our seats at the table before Simpson happened to discover a dish of sweetmeats at the further corner of the table. Turning to the servant he said:

“Please pass me that sass.”

Mrs. Simpson’s eyes flashed indignantly, and she angrily exclaimed, almost in a scream:

“Say sauce; don’t say ‘sass.’ I’d rather hear you say h—l a d—d sight!”

That our English hostess was amazed and shocked it is needless to say, although she preserved her equanimity better than could be expected. As for myself, I confess I could not refrain from laughing, which, of course, served only to increase the wrath of Mrs. Simpson.

Fourteen years subsequent to this event, I called on this English lady in company with an American friend. In the course of conversation, I happened to ask her if she remembered about Mrs. Simpson’s “sass.” She took from a drawer her memorandum book, and showed us the above expression verbatim, which, she said, she wrote down the same day it was uttered; and she added she had never been able to think of it since without laughing.

I met Simpson and his wife at a hotel in Marseilles, France, in the summer of 1845. Mrs. Simpson said she and Simpson had almost determined not to go to France at all when they “heard it was necessary to hire an interpreter to tell what folks said.” Said she, “I told Simpson I didn’t want to go among a set of folks who were such cussed fools they couldn’t speak English! But of course we must go to France just for the speech of the people when we get home, so here we are. For my part,” she continued, “I speak English to these Frenchmen anyhow, and if they can’t understand me they can go without understanding. The other morning, I told the waiter my tea was too sweet. I found afterwards that too sweet (toute de suite) was French for ‘very quick.’ ”

“ ‘Oui, madame,’ he replied, ‘oui, oui, que voulez vous?’ (what will you have?)”

“ ‘Too sweet, too sweet,’ I repeated, ‘too sweet, too sweet.’ Then I pointed to my tea, and said again, ‘Too sweet, d—n your stupid head, can’t you understand too sweet?’ The fool jumped around like a hen with her head cut off, and kept saying, ‘Oui, oui, madame, too sweet, qu’est ceque c’est? (What is it?)’ Finally an English gentleman asked me what was the matter, and when I told him, he explained by telling me that too sweet (toute de suite) in French meant quick, very quick, and that was what made the stupid waiter jump around so.”

“But d—n the French waiters,” she continued, “I have got quit of them finally, for I have found out a language we both understand.

“The same day my tea was too sweet, Simpson was out at dinner time; and I went to the table alone. I called for soup, and the sap-heads brought me some sort of preserves. I then called for fish, and the fools could not understand me. Then I said, ‘Bring me some chicken,’ and d—n ’em, they danced about in a quandary till I thought I should starve to death. But finally I thought of roast duck. I am dreadfully fond of duck, and I knew they always had stuffed ducks at dinner time. So I called to the waiter once more, and pointed to my plate and said, ‘quack, quack, quack, now do you understand?’ and the fool began to laugh, and said, ‘Oui, madame, oui, oui,’ and off he ran, and soon brought me the nicest piece of duck you ever saw. So now every day at dinner, I say ‘quack, quack,’ and I always get some first-rate duck.”

I congratulated her on having discovered a universal language.

The same day, I met a young Englishman in the hotel, who had been travelling in Spain. During our conversation we were summoned to dinner. At the table d’hote, Simpson happened to be seated exactly opposite us. As we continued our conversation, Simpson heard it, and his attention was particularly arrested—it being something of a novelty to meet a stranger in these parts, who spoke our native tongue. The English gentleman mentioned that he ascended the Pyrenees the week previous.

“I should like to have been with you,” I remarked, “but I am almost too fat and lazy to climb high mountains. I suppose you found it pretty hard work.”

“Yes, we had to rough it some; we encountered considerable snow,” he replied.

“Snow!” exclaimed Simpson, in astonishment.

The Englishman looked with surprise at this interruption; for he did not know Simpson, nor had he ever heard him speak before. However, he quietly replied, “Yes, sir, snow.”

“Not by a d—d sight, you didn’t,” replied Simpson, emphatically. “That wont go down. Snow in August wont do. I have seen snow myself in Connecticut, the last of September, but it wont do in August, by a thundering sight.”

The Englishman sprang to his feet, but I hit him a nudge, and said, “It is all right. Excuse me; let me introduce my friend, Mr. Simpson, from America. He has travelled some, and it is pretty hard to take him in with big stories.”

He comprehended the matter instantly and sat down.

“Yes, sir,” remarked Simpson, “I have heard travellers before, but August is a leetle too early for snow.”

“But suppose I should say it was not this year’s snow?” said the Englishman, who was ready now to carry on the joke.

“Worse and worse,” exclaimed Simpson, with a triumphant laugh; “if it would not melt in August, when in thunder would it melt! You might as well say it would lay all the year round.”

“I give it up,” said the Englishman, “you are too sharp for me.”

Simpson was delighted, and took special pains for several days to inform the interpreters in the neighboring hotels and billiard saloons, that he had “took down” an impudent John Bull, who had tried to stuff him with the idea that he had seen snow in August.

I met the Simpsons afterwards in Brussels, and the head of the family, who had heard nothing but French spoken, outside of his own circle, for a long time, called me in great glee to the door, to see and hear some Dutchmen, who were conversing together in the street.

“There!” exclaimed Simpson, “those fellows are Dutchmen; I know by their talk.”

“Very well,” said I, “how far do you suppose those Dutchmen are from their native place?”

“Why,” replied Simpson, “I suppose they came from Western Pennsylvania; that’s where I have always seen ’em.”

With the exception of the brief time passed in making two short visits to America, I had now passed three years with General Tom Thumb in Great Britain and on the Continent. The entire period had been a season of unbroken pleasure and profit. I had immensely enlarged my business experiences and had made money and many friends. Among those to whom I am indebted for special courtesies while I was abroad are Dr. C. S. Brewster, whose prosperous professional career in Russia and France is well known, and Henry Sumner, Esq., who occupied a high position in the social and literary circles of Paris and who introduced me to George Sand and to many other distinguished persons. To both these gentlemen, as well as to Mr. John Nimmo, an English gentleman connected with Galignani’s Messenger, Mr. Lorenzo Draper, the American Consul, and Mr. Dion Boucicault, I was largely indebted for attention. In London, two gentlemen especially merit my warm acknowledgments for many valuable favors. I refer to the late Thomas Brettell, publisher, Haymarket; and Mr. R. Fillingham, Jr., Fenchurch Street. I was also indebted to Mr. G. P. Putnam, at that time a London publisher, for much useful information.

We had visited nearly every city and town in France and Belgium, all the principal places in England and Scotland, besides going to Belfast and Dublin, in Ireland. I had several times met Daniel O’Connell in private life and in the Irish capital I heard him make an eloquent and powerful public Repeal speech in Conciliation Hall. In Dublin, after exhibiting a week in Rotunda Hall, our receipts on the last day were £261, or $1,305, and the General also received £50, or $250, for playing the same evening at the Theatre Royal. Thus closing a truly triumphant tour, we set sail for New York, arriving in February 1847.




ONE of my main objects in returning home at this time, was to obtain a longer lease of the premises occupied by the American Museum. My lease had still three years to run, but Mr. Olmsted, the proprietor of the building, was dead, and I was anxious to make provision in time for the perpetuity of my establishment, for I meant to make the Museum a permanent institution in the city, and if I could not renew my lease, I intended to build an appropriate edifice on Broadway. I finally succeeded, however, in getting the lease of the entire building, covering fifty-six feet by one hundred, for twenty-five years, at an annual rent of $10,000 and the ordinary taxes and assessments. I had already hired in addition the upper stories of three adjoining buildings. My Museum receipts were more in one day, than they formerly were in an entire week, and the establishment had become so popular that it was thronged at all hours from early morning to closing time at night.

On my return, I promptly made use of General Tom Thumb’s European reputation. He immediately appeared in the American Museum, and for four weeks drew such crowds of visitors as had never been seen there before. He afterwards spent a month in Bridgeport, with his kindred. To prevent being annoyed by the curious, who would be sure to throng the houses of his relatives, he exhibited two days at Bridgeport. The receipts, amounting to several hundred dollars, were presented to the Bridgeport Charitable Society. The Bridgeporters were much delighted to see their old friend, “little Charlie,” again. They little thought, when they saw him playing about the streets a few years previously, that he was destined to create such a sensation among the crowned heads of the old world; and now, returning with his European reputation, he was, of course, a great curiosity to his former acquaintances, as well as to the public generally. His Bridgeport friends found that he had not increased in size during the four and a half years of his absence, but they discovered that he had become sharp and witty, “abounding in foreign airs and native graces”; in fact, that he was quite unlike the little, diffident country fellow whom they had formerly known.

“We never thought Charlie much of a phenomenon when he lived among us,” said one of the first citizens of the place, “but now that he has become ‘Barnumized,’ he is a rare curiosity.”

But there was really no mystery about it; the whole change made by training and travel, had appeared to me by degrees, and it came to the citizens of Bridgeport suddenly. The terms upon which I first engaged the lad showed that I had no over-sanguine expectations of his success as a “speculation.” When I saw, however, that he was wonderfully popular, I took the greatest pains to engraft upon his native talent all the instruction he was capable of receiving. He was an apt pupil, and I provided for him the best of teachers. Travel and attrition with so many people in so many lands did the rest. The General left America three years before, a diffident, uncultivated little boy; he came back an educated, accomplished little man. He had seen much, and had profited much. He went abroad poor, and he came home rich.

On January 1, 1845, my engagement with the General at a salary ceased, and we made a new arrangement by which we were equal partners, the General, or his father for him, taking one-half of the profits. A reservation, however, was made of the first four weeks after our arrival in New York, during which he was to exhibit at my Museum for two hundred dollars. When we returned to America, the General’s father had acquired a handsome fortune, and settling a large sum upon the little General personally, he placed the balance at interest, secured by bond and mortgage, excepting thirty thousand dollars, with which he purchased land near the city limits of Bridgeport, and erected a large and substantial mansion, where he resided till the day of his death, and in which his only two daughters were married, one in 1850, the other in 1853. His only son, besides the General, was born in 1851. All the family, except “little Charlie,” are of the usual size.

After spending a month in visiting his friends, it was determined that the General and his parents should travel through the United States. I agreed to accompany them, with occasional intervals of rest at home, for one year, sharing the profits equally, as in England. We proceeded to Washington city, where the General held his levees in April, 1847, visiting President Polk and lady at the White House—thence to Richmond, returning to Baltimore and Philadelphia. Our receipts in Philadelphia in twelve days were $5,594.91. The tour for the entire year realized about the same average. The expenses were from twenty-five dollars to thirty dollars per day. From Philadelphia we went to Boston, Lowell, and Providence. Our receipts on one day in the latter city were $976.97. We then visited New Bedford, Fall River, Salem, Worcester, Springfield, Albany, Troy, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and intermediate places, and in returning to New York we stopped at the principal towns on the Hudson River. After this we visited New Haven, Hartford, Portland, Me., and intermediate towns.

I was surprised to find that, during my long absence abroad, I had become almost as much of a curiosity to my patrons as I was to the spinster from Maine who once came to see me and to attend the “services” in my Lecture Room. If I showed myself about the Museum or wherever else I was known, I found eyes peering and fingers pointing at me, and could frequently overhear the remark, “There’s Barnum.” On one occasion soon after my return, I was sitting in the ticket-office reading a newspaper. A man came and purchased a ticket of admission. “Is Mr. Barnum in the Museum?” he asked. The ticket-seller, pointing to me, answered, “This is Mr. Barnum.” Supposing the gentleman had business with me, I looked up from the paper. “Is this Mr. Barnum?” he asked. “It is,” I replied. He stared at me for a moment, and then, throwing down his ticket, exclaimed, “It’s all right; I have got the worth of my money”; and away he went, without going into the Museum at all!

In November, 1847, we started for Havana, taking the steamer from New York to Charleston, where the General exhibited, as well as at Columbia, Augusta, Savannah, Milledgeville, Macon, Columbus, Montgomery, Mobile and New Orleans. At this latter city we remained three weeks, including Christmas and New Year’s. We arrived in Havana by the schooner Adams Gray, in January, 1848, and were introduced to the Captain-General and the Spanish nobility. We remained a month in Havana and Matanzas, the General proving an immense favorite. In Havana he was the especial pet of Count Santovania. In Matanzas we were very much indebted to the kindness of a princely American merchant, Mr. Brinckerhoff. Mr. J. S. Thrasher, the American patriot and gentleman, was also of great assistance to us, and placed me under deep obligations.

The hotels in Havana are not good. An American who is accustomed to substantial living, finds it difficult to get enough to eat. We stopped at the Washington House, which at that time was “first-rate bad.” It was filthy, and kept by a woman who was drunk most of the time. Several Americans boarded there who were regular gormandizers. One of them, seeing a live turkey on a New Orleans vessel, purchased and presented it to the landlady. It was a small one, and when it was carved, there was not enough of it to “go round.” An American, (a large six-footer and a tremendous eater,) who resided on a sugar plantation near Havana, happened to sit near the carver, and seeing an American turkey so near him, and feeling that it was a rare dish for that latitude, kept helping himself, so that when the carving was finished, he had eaten about one half of the turkey. Unfortunately the man who bought it was sitting at the further end of the table, and did not get a taste of the coveted bird. He was indignant, especially against the innocent gormandizer from the sugar plantation, who, of course, was not acquainted with the history of the turkey. When they arose from the table, the planter smacked his lips, and patting his stomach, remarked, “That was a glorious turkey. I have not tasted one before these two years. I am very fond of them, and when I go back to my plantation I mean to commence raising turkeys.”

“If you don’t raise one before you leave town, you’ll be a dead man,” said the disappointed poultry purchaser.

From Havana we went to New Orleans, where we remained several days, and from New Orleans we proceeded to St. Louis, stopping at the principal towns on the Mississippi river, and returning via Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. We reached the latter city early in May, 1848. From this point it was agreed between Mr. Stratton and myself, that I should go home and henceforth travel no more with the little General. I had competent agents who could exhibit him without my personal assistance, and I preferred to relinquish a portion of the profits, rather than continue to be a travelling showman. I had now been a straggler from home most of the time for thirteen years, and I cannot describe the feelings of gratitude with which I reflected, that having by the most arduous toil and deprivations succeeded in securing a satisfactory competence, I should henceforth spend my days in the bosom of my family. I was fully determined that no pecuniary temptation should again induce me to forego the enjoyments to be secured only in the circle of home. I reached my residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the latter part of May, rejoiced to find my family and friends in good health, and delighted to find myself once more at home.

My new home, which was then nearly ready for occupancy, was the well-known Iranistan. More than two years had been employed in building this beautiful residence. In 1846, finding that fortune was continuing to favor me, I began to look forward eagerly to the time when I could withdraw from the whirlpool of business excitement and settle down permanently with my family, to pass the remainder of my days in comparative rest.

I wished to reside within a few hours of New York. I had never seen more delightful locations than there are upon the borders of Long Island Sound, between New Rochelle, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut; and my attention was therefore turned in that direction. Bridgeport seemed to be about the proper distance from the great metropolis. It is pleasantly situated at the terminus of two railroads, which traverse the fertile valleys of the Naugatuck and Housatonic rivers. The New York and New Haven Railroad runs through the city, and there is also daily steamboat communication with New York. The enterprise which characterized the city, seemed to mark it as destined to become the first in the State in size and opulence; and I was not long in deciding, with the concurrence of my wife, to fix our future residence in that vicinity.

I accordingly purchased seventeen acres of land, less than a mile west of the city, and fronting with a good view upon the Sound. Although nominally in Bridgeport, my property was really in Fairfield, a few rods west of the Bridgeport line. In deciding upon the kind of house to be erected, I determined, first and foremost, to consult convenience and comfort. I cared little for style, and my wife cared still less; but as we meant to have a good house, it might as well, at the same time, be unique. In this, I confess, I had “an eye to business,” for I thought that a pile of buildings of a novel order might indirectly serve as an advertisement of my Museum.

In visiting Brighton, in England, I had been greatly pleased with the Pavilion erected by George IV. It was the only specimen of Oriental architecture in England, and the style had not been introduced into America. I concluded to adopt it, and engaged a London architect to furnish me a set of drawings after the general plan of the Pavilion, differing sufficiently to be adapted to the spot of ground selected for my homestead. On my second return visit to the United States, I brought these drawings with me and engaged a competent architect and builder, giving him instructions to proceed with the work, not “by the job” but “by the day,” and to spare neither time nor expense in erecting a comfortable, convenient, and tasteful residence. The work was thus begun and continued while I was still abroad, and during the time when I was making my tour with General Tom Thumb through the United States and Cuba. New and magnificent avenues were



opened in the vicinity of my property. The building progressed slowly, but surely and substantially. Elegant and appropriate furniture was made expressly for every room in the house. I erected expensive water works to supply the premises. The stables, conservatories and out-buildings were perfect in their kind. There was a profusion of trees set out on the grounds. The whole was built and established literally “regardless of expense,” for I had no desire even to ascertain the entire cost. All I cared to know was that it suited me, and that would have been a small consideration with me if it had not also suited my family.

The whole was finally completed to my satisfaction. My family removed into the premises, and, on the fourteenth of November, 1848, nearly one thousand invited guests, including the poor and the rich, helped us in the old-fashioned custom of “house-warming.”

When the name “Iranistan” was announced, a waggish New York editor syllabled it, I-ran-i-stan, and gave as the interpretation, that “I ran a long time before I could stan’!” Literally, however, the name signifies, “Eastern Country Place,” or, more poetically, “Oriental Villa.”

The plot of ground upon which Iranistan was erected, was at the date of my purchase, in March 1846, a bare field. But I transplanted many hundreds of fruit and forest trees, some of the latter of very large growth when they were moved, and thus in a few years my premises were adorned with what, in the ordinary process of growth, would have required a whole generation. I have never waited for my trees to grow, if money would transplant them of nearly full growth at the start.

The years 1848 and 1849 were mainly spent with my family, though I went every week to New York to look after the interests of the American Museum. While I was in Europe, in 1845, my agent, Mr. Fordyce Hitchcock, had bought out for me the Baltimore Museum, a fully-supplied establishment, in full operation, and I placed it under the charge of my uncle, Alanson Taylor. He died in 1846, and I then sold the Baltimore Museum to the “Orphean Family,” by whom it was subsequently transferred to Mr. John E. Owens, the celebrated comedian. After my return from Europe, I opened, in 1849, a Museum in Dr. Swain’s fine building, at the corner of Chestnut and Seventh streets, in Philadelphia.

This was in all respects a first-class establishment. It was elegantly fitted up, and contained, among other things, a dozen fine large paintings, such as “The Deluge,” “Cain and his Family,” and other similar subjects which I had ordered copied, when I was in Paris, from paintings in the gallery of the Louvre. There was also a complete and valuable collection of curiosities and I sent from New York, from time to time, my transient novelties in the way of giants, dwarfs, fat boys, animals and other attractions. There was a lecture room and stage for dramatic entertainments; but I was catering for a Quaker population, and was careful to introduce or permit nothing which could possibly be objectionable. While the Museum contained such wax-works as “The Temperate Family,” “The Intemperate Family,” and Mrs. Pelby’s representation of “The Last Supper,” the theatre presented “The Drunkard” and other moral dramas. The most respectable people in the city patronized the Museum and attended the theatre. “The Drunkard” was exceedingly well played and it made a great impression. There was a temperance pledge in the box-office, which was signed by thousands during the run of the piece. Almost every hour during the day and evening, women could be seen bringing their husbands to the Museum to sign the pledge.

I stayed in Philadelphia long enough to identify myself with this Museum and to successfully start the enterprise and then left it in the hands of different managers who profitably conducted it till 1851, when, finding that it occupied too much of my time and attention, I sold it to Mr. Clapp Spooner for $40,000. At the end of that year, the building and contents were destroyed by fire. The loss was a serious one to Philadelphia, and the people were very desirous that Mr. Spooner should rebuild the establishment; but a highly profitable business connection with the Adams Express Company prevented him from doing so.

While my Philadelphia Museum was in full operation, Peale’s Museum ran me a strong opposition at the Masonic Hall. That enterprise proved disastrous, and I purchased the collection at sheriff’s sale, for five or six thousand dollars, on joint account of my friend Moses Kimball and myself. The curiosities were equally divided, one-half going to his Boston Museum and the other half to my American Museum in New York.

In 1848 I was elected President of the Fairfield County Agricultural Society in Connecticut. Although not practically a farmer, I had purchased about one hundred acres of land in the vicinity of my residence, and felt and still feel a deep interest in the cause of agriculture. I had begun by importing some blood stock for Iranistan, and, as I was at one time attacked by the “hen fever,” I erected several splendid poultry-houses on my grounds. These were built for me by a carpenter who wrote an application for a situation, sending me a frightfully mis-spelled letter, in which he said that he was “youste” to hard work. I thought if his work was as strong as his spelling, he was the man I wanted, and I employed him. When the time came to prepare for our agricultural fair in the fall, he made a series of gorgeous cages in which to exhibit my shanghaes, bantams, and other fancy fowls. I went out to see them before they were sent away, and was horrified to find that he had marked the cages in his own peculiar style, describing my “Jersey Blues,” for instance, in startling capitals as “Gersy Blews.” I called for a jack-plane to remove every mark on the cages and told the astonished carpenter that he might do anything in the world for me, except to spell.

In 1849 it was determined by the Society that I should deliver the annual address. I begged to be excused on the ground of incompetency, but my excuses were of no avail, and as I could not instruct my auditors in farming, I gave them the benefit of several mistakes which I had committed. Among other things, I told them that in the fall of 1848 my head gardener reported that I had fifty bushels of potatoes to spare. I thereupon directed him to barrel them up and ship them to New York for sale. He did so, and received two dollars per barrel, or about sixty-seven cents per bushel. But, unfortunately, after the potatoes had been shipped, I found that my gardener had selected all the largest for market, and left my family nothing but “small potatoes” to live on during the winter. But the worst is still to come. My potatoes were all gone before March, and I was obliged to buy, during the spring, over fifty bushels of potatoes, at $1.25 per bushel! I also related my first experiment in the arboricultural line, when I cut from two thrifty rows of young cherry-trees any quantity of what I supposed to be “suckers,” or “sprouts,” and was thereafter informed by my gardener that I had cut off all his grafts!

A friend of mine, Mr. James D. Johnson, lived in a fine house a quarter of a mile west of Iranistan, and as I owned several acres of land at the corner of two streets directly adjoining his homestead, I surrounded the ground with high pickets, and introducing a number of Rocky Mountain elk, reindeer, and American deer, I converted it into a deer park. Strangers passing by would naturally suppose that it belonged to Johnson’s estate, and to render the illusion more complete, his son-in-law, Mr. S. H. Wales, of the Scientific American, placed a sign in the park, fronting on the street, and reading:

All persons are forbid trespassing on these grounds, or disturbing the deer. J. D. Johnson.

I “acknowledged the corn,” and was much pleased with the joke. Johnson was delighted, and bragged considerably of having got ahead of Barnum, and the sign remained undisturbed for several days. It happened at length that a party of friends came to visit him from New York, arriving in the evening. Johnson told them he had got a capital joke on Barnum; he would not explain, but said they should see it for themselves the next morning. Bright and early he led them into the street, and after conducting them a proper distance, wheeled them around in front of the sign. To his dismay he discovered that I had added directly under his name the words, “Game-keeper to P. T. Barnum.” His friends, as soon as they understood the joke, enjoyed it mightily, but it was said that neighbor Johnson laughed out of “the wrong side of his mouth.”

Thereafter, Mr. Johnson was known among his friends and acquaintances as “Barnum’s game-keeper.” Sometime afterwards when I was President of the Pequonnock Bank, it was my custom every year to give a grand dinner at Iranistan to the directors, and in making preparations I used to send to certain friends in the West for prairie chickens and other game. On one occasion a large box, marked “P. T. Barnum, Bridgeport; Game,” was lying in the express office, when Johnson seeing it, and espying the word “game,” said:

“Look here! I am ‘Barnum’s game-keeper,’ and I’ll take charge of this box.”

And “take charge” of it he did, carrying it home and notifying me that it was in his possession, and that as he was my game-keeper he would “keep” this, unless I sent him an order for a new hat. He knew very well that I would give fifty dollars rather than be deprived of the box, and as he also threatened to give a game dinner at his own house, I speedily sent the order for the hat, acknowledged the good joke, and my own guests enjoyed the double “game.”

During the year 1848, Mr. Frank Leslie, since so widely known as the publisher of several illustrated journals, came to me with letters of introduction from London, and I employed him to get up for me an illustrated catalogue of my Museum. This he did in a splendid manner, and hundreds of thousands of copies were sold and distributed far and near, thus adding greatly to the renown of the establishment.

I count these two years—1848 and 1849—among the happiest of my life. I had enough to do in the management of my business, and yet I seemed to have plenty of leisure hours to pass with my family and friends in my beautiful home of Iranistan.




MANY of my most fortunate enterprises have fairly startled me by the magnitude of their success. When my sanguine hopes predicted a steady flow of fortune, I have been inundated; when I calculated upon making a curious public pay me liberally for a meritorious article, I have often found the same public eager to deluge me with compensation. Yet, I never believed in mere luck and I always pitied the simpleton who relies on luck for his success. Luck is in no sense the foundation of my fortune; from the beginning of my career I planned and worked for my success. To be sure, my schemes often amazed me with the affluence of their results, and, arriving at the very best, I sometimes “builded better” than “I knew.”

For a long time I had been incubating a plan for an extraordinary exhibition which I was sure would be a success and would excite universal attention and commendation in America and abroad. This was nothing less than a “Congress of Nations”—an assemblage of representatives of all the nations that could be reached by land or sea. I meant to secure a man and woman, as perfect as could be procured, from every accessible people, civilized and barbarous, on the face of the globe. I had actually contracted with an agent to go to Europe to make arrangements to secure “specimens” for such a show. Even now, I can conceive of no exhibition which would be more interesting and which would appeal more generally to all classes of patrons. As it was, and while positively preparing for such a congress, it occurred to me that another great enterprise could be undertaken at less risk, with far less real trouble, and with more remunerative results.

And now I come to speak of an undertaking which my worst enemy will admit was bold in its conception, complete in its development, and astounding in its success. It was an enterprise never before or since equalled in managerial annals. As I recall it now, I almost tremble at the seeming temerity of the attempt. That I am proud of it I freely confess. It placed me before the world in a new light; it gained me many warm friends in new circles; it was in itself a fortune to me—I risked much but I made more.

It was in October 1849, that I conceived the idea of bringing Jenny Lind to this country. I had never heard her sing, inasmuch as she arrived in London a few weeks after I left that city with General Tom Thumb. Her reputation, however, was sufficient for me. I usually jump at conclusions, and almost invariably find that my first impressions are correct. It struck me, when I first thought of this speculation, that if properly managed it must prove immensely profitable, provided I could engage the “Swedish Nightingale” on any terms within the range of reason. As it was a great undertaking, I considered the matter seriously for several days, and all my “cipherings” and calculations gave but one result—immense success.

Reflecting that very much would depend upon the manner in which she should be brought before the public, I saw that my task would be an exceedingly arduous one. It was possible, I knew, that circumstances might occur which would make the enterprise disastrous. “The public” is a very strange animal, and although a good knowledge of human nature will generally lead a caterer of amusements to hit the people, they are fickle, and ofttimes perverse. A slight misstep in the management of a public entertainment, frequently wrecks the most promising enterprise. But I had marked the “divine Jenny” as a sure card, and to secure the prize I began to cast about for a competent agent.

I found in Mr. John Hall Wilton, an Englishman who had visited this country with the Sax-Horn Players, the best man whom I knew for that purpose. A few minutes sufficed to make the arrangement with him, by which I was to pay but little more than his expenses if he failed in his mission, but by which also he was to be paid a large sum if he succeeded in bringing Jenny Lind to our shores, on any terms within a liberal schedule which I set forth to him in writing.

On the 6th of November, 1849, I furnished Wilton with the necessary documents, including a letter of general instructions which he was at liberty to exhibit to Jenny Lind and to any other musical notables whom he thought proper, and a private letter, containing hints and suggestions not embodied in the former. I also gave him letters of introduction to my bankers, Messrs. Baring Brothers & Co., of London, as well as to many friends in England and France.

The sum of all my instructions, public and private, to Wilton amounted to this: He was to engage her on shares, if possible. I, however, authorized him to engage her at any rate, not exceeding one thousand dollars a night, for any number of nights up to one hundred and fifty, with all her expenses, including servants, carriages, secretary, etc., besides also engaging such musical assistants, not exceeding three in number, as she should select, let the terms be what they might. If necessary, I should place the entire amount of money named in the engagement in the hands of London bankers before she sailed. Wilton’s compensation was arranged on a kind of sliding scale, to be governed by the terms which he made for me—so that the farther he kept below my utmost limits, the better he should be paid for making the engagements. He proceeded to London, and opened a correspondence with Miss Lind, who was then on the Continent. He learned from the tenor of her letters, that if she could be induced to visit America at all, she must be accompanied by Mr. Julius Benedict, the accomplished composer, pianist, and musical director, and also she was impressed with the belief that Signor Belletti, the fine baritone, would be of essential service. Wilton therefore at once called upon Mr. Benedict and also Signor Belletti, who were both then in London, and in numerous interviews was enabled to learn the terms on which they would consent to engage to visit this country with Miss Lind. Having obtained the information desired, he proceeded to Lubeck, in Germany, to seek an interview with Miss Lind herself. Upon arriving at her hotel, he sent his card, requesting her to specify an hour for an interview. She named the following morning, and he was punctual to the appointment.

In the course of the first conversation, she frankly told him that during the time occupied by their correspondence, she had written to friends in London, including my friend Mr. Joshua Bates, of the house of Baring Brothers, and had informed herself respecting my character, capacity, and responsibility, which she assured him were quite satisfactory. She informed him, however, that at that time there were four persons anxious to negotiate with her for an American tour. One of these gentlemen was a well-known opera manager in London; another, a theatrical manager in Manchester; a third, a musical composer and conductor of the orchestra of Her Majesty’s Opera in London; and the fourth, Chevalier Wyckoff, a person who had conducted a successful speculation some years previously by visiting America in charge of the celebrated danseuse, Fanny Ellsler. Several of these parties had called upon her personally, and Wyckoff upon hearing my name, attempted to deter her from making any engagement with me, by assuring her that I was a mere showman, and that, for the sake of making money by the speculation, I would not scruple to put her into a box and exhibit her through the country at twenty-five cents a head.

This, she confessed, somewhat alarmed her, and she wrote to Mr. Bates on the subject. He entirely disabused her mind, by assuring her that he knew me personally, and that in treating with me she was not dealing with an “adventurer” who might make her remuneration depend entirely upon the success of the enterprise, but I was able to carry out all my engagements, let them prove never so unprofitable, and she could place the fullest reliance upon my honor and integrity.

“Now,” said she to Mr. Wilton, “I am perfectly satisfied on that point, for I know the world pretty well, and am aware how far jealousy and envy will sometimes carry persons; and as those who are trying to treat with me are all anxious that I should participate in the profits or losses of the enterprise, I much prefer treating with you, since your principal is willing to assume all the responsibility, and take the entire management and chances of the result upon himself.”

Several interviews ensued, during which she learned from Wilton that he had settled with Messrs. Benedict and Belletti, in regard to the amount of their salaries, provided the engagement was concluded, and in the course of a week, Mr. Wilton and Miss Lind had arranged the terms and conditions on which she was ready to conclude the negotiations. As these terms were within the limits fixed in my private letter of instructions, the following agreement was duly drawn in triplicate, and signed by herself and Wilton, at Lubeck, January 9, 1850; and the signatures of Messrs. Benedict and Belletti were affixed in London a few days afterwards:

Memorandum of an agreement entered into this ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty, between John Hall Wilton, as agent for Phineas T. Barnum, of New York, in the United States of North America, of the one part, and Mademoiselle jenny Lind, Vocalist, of Stockholm in Sweden, of the other part, wherein the said Jenny Lind doth agree:

1st. To sing for the said Phineas T. Barnum in one hundred and fifty concerts, including oratorios, within (if possible) one year, or eighteen months from the date of her arrival in the City of New York—the said concerts to be given in the United States of North America and Havana. She, the said Jenny Lind, having full control as to the number of nights or concerts in each week, and the number of pieces in which she will sing in each concert, to be regulated conditionally with her health and safety of voice, but the former never less than one or two, nor the latter less than four; but in no case to appear in operas.

2d. In consideration of said services, the said John Hall Wilton, as agent for the said Phineas T. Barnum, of New York, agrees to furnish the said Jenny Lind with a servant as waiting-maid, and a male servant to and for the sole service of her and her party; to pay the travelling and hotel expenses of a friend to accompany her as a companion; to pay also a secretary to superintend her finances; to pay all her and her party’s travelling expenses from Europe, and during the tour in the United States of North America and Havana; to pay all hotel expenses for board and lodging during the same period; to place at her disposal in each city a carriage and horses with their necessary attendants, and to give her in addition, the sum of two hundred pounds sterling, or one thousand dollars, for each concert or oratorio in which the said Jenny Lind shall sing.

3d. And the said John Hall Wilton, as agent for the said Phineas T. Barnum, doth further agree to give the said Jenny Lind the most satisfactory security and assurance for the full amount of her engagement, which shall be placed in the hands of Messrs. Baring Brothers, of London, previous to the departure and subject to the order of the said Jenny Lind, with its interest due on its current reduction, by her services in the concerts or oratorios.

4th. And the said John Hall Wilton, on the part of the said Phineas T. Barnum, further agrees, that should the said Phineas T. Barnum, after seventy-five concerts, have realized so much as shall, after paying all current expenses, have returned to him all the sums disbursed, either as deposits at interest, for securities of salaries, preliminary outlay, or moneys in any way expended consequent on this engagement, and in addition, have gained a clear profit of at least fifteen thousand pounds sterling, then the said Phineas T. Barnum will give the said Jenny Lind, in addition to the former sum of one thousand dollars current money of the United States of North America, nightly, one fifth part of the profits arising from the remaining seventy-five concerts or oratorios, after deducting every expense current and appertaining thereto; or the said Jenny Lind agrees to try with the said Phineas T. Barnum fifty concerts or oratorios on the aforesaid and first-named terms, and if then found to fall short of the expectations of the said Phineas T. Barnum, then the said Jenny Lind agrees to reorganize this agreement, on terms quoted in his first proposal, as set forth in the annexed copy of his letter; but should such be found unnecessary, then the engagement continues up to seventy-five concerts or oratorios, at the end of which, should the aforesaid profit of fifteen thousand pounds sterling have not been realized, then the engagement shall continue as at first—the sums herein, after expenses for Julius Benedict and Giovanni Belletti, to remain unaltered except for advancement.

5th. And the said John Hall Wilton, agent for the said Phineas T. Barnum, at the request of the said Jenny Lind, agrees to pay to Julius Benedict, of London, to accompany the said Jenny Lind as musical director, pianist, and superintendent of the musical department, also to assist the said Jenny Lind in one hundred and fifty concerts or oratorios, to be given in the United States of North America and Havana, the sum of five thousand pounds (£5,000) sterling, to be satisfactorily secured to him with Messrs. Baring Brothers, of London, previous to his departure from Europe; and the said John Hall Wilton agrees further, for the said Phineas T. Barnum, to pay all his travelling expenses from Europe, together with his hotel and travelling expenses during the time occupied in giving the aforesaid one hundred and fifty concerts or oratorios—he, the said Julius Benedict, to superintend the organization of oratorios, if required.

6th. And the said John Hall Wilton, at the request, selection, and for the aid of the said Jenny Lind, agrees to pay to Giovanni Belletti, baritone vocalist, to accompany the said Jenny Lind during her tour and in one hundred and fifty concerts or oratorios in the United States of North America and Havana, and in conjunction with the aforesaid Julius Benedict, the sum of two thousand five hundred pounds (£2,500) sterling, to be satisfactorily secured to him previous to his departure from Europe, in addition to all his hotel and travelling expenses.

7th. And it is further agreed that the said Jenny Lind shall be at full liberty to sing at any time she may think fit for charitable institutions or purposes independent of the engagement with the said Phineas T. Barnum, she, the said Jenny Lind, consulting with the said Phineas T. Barnum with a view to mutually agreeing as to the time and its propriety, it being understood that in no case shall the first or second concert in any city selected for the tour be for such purpose, or whereever it shall appear against the interests of the said Phineas T. Barnum.

8th. It is further agreed that should the said Jenny Lind by any act of God be incapacitated to fulfil the entire engagement before mentioned, that an equal proportion of the terms agreed upon shall be given to the said Jenny Lind, Julius Benedict, and Giovanni Belletti, for services rendered to that time.

9th. It is further agreed and understood, that the said Phineas T. Barnum shall pay every expense appertaining to the concerts or oratorios before mentioned, excepting those for charitable purposes, and that all accounts shall be settled and rendered by all parties weekly.

10th. And the said Jenny Lind further agrees that she will not engage to sing for any other person during the progress of this said engagement with the said Phineas T. Barnum, of New York, for one hundred and fifty concerts or oratorios, excepting for charitable purposes as before mentioned; and all travelling to be first and best class.

In witness hereof to the within written memorandum of agreement we set hereunto our hand and seal.

[L. S.] John Hall Wilton, Agent for Phineas T. Barnum, of New York, U. S.
[L. S.] Jenny Lind.
[L. S.] Julius Benedict.
[L. S.] Giovanni Belletti.

In the presence of C. Achilling, Consul of His Majesty the King of Sweden and Norway.

Extract from a Letter addressed to John Hall Wilton by Phineas T. Barnum, and referred to in paragraph No. 4 of the annexed agreement.

New York, November 6, 1849.

Mr. J. Hall Wilton:

Sir:—In reply to your proposal to attempt a negotiation with Mlle. Jenny Lind to visit the United States professionally, I propose to enter into an arrangement with her to the following effect: I will engage to pay all her expenses from Europe, provide for and pay for one principal tenor and one pianist, their salaries not exceeding together one hundred and fifty dollars per night; to support for her a carriage, two servants, and a friend to accompany her and superintend her finances. I will furthermore pay all and every expense appertaining to her appearance before the public, and give her half of the gross receipts arising from concerts or operas. I will engage to travel with her personally and attend to the arrangements, provided she will undertake to give not less than eighty nor more than one hundred and fifty concerts, or nights’ performances.

Phineas T. Barnum.

I certify the above to be a true extract from the letter.

J. H. Wilton.

I was at my Museum in Philadelphia when Wilton arrived in New York, February 19, 1850. He immediately telegraphed to me, in the cipher we had agreed upon, that he had signed an engagement with Jenny Lind, by which she was to commence her concerts in America in the following September. I was somewhat startled by this sudden announcement; and feeling that the time to elapse before her arrival was so long that it would be policy to keep the engagement private for a few months, I immediately telegraphed him not to mention it to any person, and that I would meet him the next day in New York.

When we reflect how thoroughly Jenny Lind, her musical powers, her character, and wonderful successes, were subsequently known by all classes in this country as well as throughout the civilized world, it is difficult to realize that, at the time this engagement was made, she was comparatively unknown on this side the water. We can hardly credit the fact, that millions of persons in America had never heard of her, that other millions had merely read her name, but had no distinct idea of who or what she was. Only a small portion of the public were really aware of her great musical triumphs in the Old World, and this portion was confined almost entirely to musical people, travellers who had visited the Old World, and the conductors of the press.

The next morning I started for New York. On arriving at Princeton we met the New York cars, and purchasing the morning papers, I was surprised to find in them a full account of my engagement with Jenny Lind. However, this premature announcement could not be recalled, and I put the best face on the matter. Anxious to learn how this communication would strike the public mind, I informed the conductor, whom I well knew, that I had made an engagement with Jenny Lind, and that she would surely visit this country in the following August.

“Jenny Lind! Is she a dancer?” asked the conductor.

I informed him who and what she was, but his question had chilled me as if his words were ice. Really, thought I, if this is all that a man in the capacity of a railroad conductor between Philadelphia and New York knows of the greatest songstress in the world, I am not sure that six months will be too long a time for me to occupy in enlightening the public in regard to her merits.

I had an interview with Wilton, and learned from him that, in accordance with the agreement, it would be requisite for me to place the entire amount stipulated, $187,500, in the hands of the London bankers. I at once resolved to ratify the agreement, and immediately sent the necessary documents to Miss Lind and Messrs. Benedict and Belletti.

I then began to prepare the public mind, through the newspapers, for the reception of the great songstress. How effectually this was done, is still within the remembrance of the American public. As a sample of the manner in which I accomplished my purpose, I present the following extract from my first letter, which appeared in the New York papers of February 22, 1850:

“Perhaps I may not make any money by this enterprise; but I assure you that if I knew I should not make a farthing profit, I would ratify the engagement, so anxious am I that the United States should be visited by a lady whose vocal powers have never been approached by any other human being, and whose character is charity, simplicity, and goodness personified.

“Miss Lind has great anxiety to visit America. She speaks of this country and its institutions in the highest terms of praise. In her engagement with me (which includes Havana), she expressly reserves the right to give charitable concerts whenever she thinks proper.

“Since her débût in England, she has given to the poor from her own private purse more than the whole amount which I have engaged to pay her, and the proceeds of concerts for charitable purposes in Great Britain, where she has sung gratuitously, have realized more than ten times that amount.”

The people soon began to talk about Jenny Lind, and I was particularly anxious to obtain a good portrait of her. Fortunately, a fine opportunity occurred. One day, while I was sitting in the office of the Museum, a foreigner approached me with a small package under his arm. He informed me in broken English that he was a Swede, and said he was an artist, who had just arrived from Stockholm, where Jenny Lind had kindly given him a number of sittings, and he now had with him the portrait of her which he had painted upon copper. He unwrapped the package, and showed me a beautiful picture of the Swedish Nightingale, inclosed in an elegant gilt frame, about fourteen by twenty inches. It was just the thing I wanted; the price was fifty dollars, and I purchased it at once. Upon showing it to an artist friend the same day, he quietly assured me that it was a cheap lithograph pasted on a tin back, neatly varnished, and made to appear like a fine oil painting. The intrinsic value of the picture did not exceed thirty-seven and one half cents!

After getting together all my available funds for the purpose of transmitting them to London in the shape of United States bonds, I found a considerable sum still lacking to make up the amount. I had some second mortgages which were perfectly good, but I could not negotiate them in Wall Street. Nothing would answer there short of first mortgages on New York or Brooklyn city property.

I went to the president of the bank where I had done all my business for eight years. I offered him, as security for a loan, my second mortgages, and as an additional inducement, I proposed to make over to him my contract with Jenny Lind, with a written guaranty that he should appoint a receiver, who, at my expense, should take charge of all the receipts over and above three thousand dollars per night, and appropriate them towards the payment of my loan. He laughed in my face, and said: “Mr. Barnum, it is generally believed in Wall Street, that your engagement with Jenny Lind will ruin you. I do not think you will ever receive so much as three thousand dollars at a single concert.” I was indignant at his want of appreciation, and answered him that I would not at that moment take $150,000 for my contract; nor would I. I found, upon further inquiry, that it was useless in Wall Street to offer the “Nightingale” in exchange for Goldfinches. I finally was introduced to Mr. John L. Aspinwall, of the firm of Messrs. Howland & Aspinwall, and he gave me a letter of credit from his firm on Baring Brothers, for a large sum on collateral securities, which a spirit of genuine respect for my enterprise induced him to accept.

After disposing of several pieces of property for cash, I footed up the various amounts, and still discovered myself five thousand dollars short. I felt that it was indeed “the last feather that breaks the camel’s back.” Happening casually to state my desperate case to the Rev. Abel C. Thomas, of Philadelphia, for many years a friend of mine, he promptly placed the requisite amount at my disposal. I gladly accepted his proffered friendship, and felt that he had removed a mountain-weight from my shoulders.




AFTER the engagement with Miss Lind was consummated, she declined several liberal offers to sing in London, but, at my solicitation, gave two concerts in Liverpool, on the eve of her departure for America. My object in making this request was, to add the éclat of that side to the excitement on this side of the Atlantic, which was already nearly up to fever heat.

The first of the two Liverpool concerts was given the night previous to the departure of the Saturday steamer for America. My agent had procured the services of a musical critic from London, who finished his account of this concert at half past one o’clock the following morning, and at two o’clock my agent was overseeing its insertion in a Liverpool morning paper, numbers of which he forwarded to me by the steamer of the same day. The republication of the criticism in the American papers, including an account of the enthusiasm which attended and followed this concert,—her trans-Atlantic,—had the desired effect.

On Wednesday morning, August 21, 1850, Jenny Lind and Messrs. Benedict and Belletti, set sail from Liverpool in the steamship Atlantic, in which I had long before engaged the necessary accommodations, and on board of which I had shipped a piano for their use. They were accompanied by my agent, Mr. Wilton, and also by Miss Ahmansen and Mr. Max Hjortzberg, cousins of Miss Lind, the latter being her Secretary; also by her two servants, and the valet of Messrs. Benedict and Belletti.

It was expected that the steamer would arrive on Sunday, September 1, but, determined to meet the songstress on her arrival whenever it might be, I went to Staten Island on Saturday, and slept at the hospitable residence of my friend, Dr. A. Sidney Doane, who was at that time the Health Officer of the Port of New York. A few minutes before twelve o’clock, on Sunday morning, the Atlantic hove in sight, and immediately afterwards, through the kindness of my friend Doane, I was on board the ship, and had taken Jenny Lind by the hand.

After a few moments’ conversation, she asked me when and where I had heard her sing.

“I never had the pleasure of seeing you before in my life,” I replied.

“How is it possible that you dared risk so much money on a person whom you never heard sing?” she asked in surprise.

“I risked it on your reputation, which in musical matters I would much rather trust than my own judgment,” I replied.

I may as well state, that although I relied prominently upon Jenny Lind’s reputation as a great musical artiste, I also took largely into my estimate of her success with all classes of the American public, her character for extraordinary benevolence and generosity. Without this peculiarity in her disposition, I never would have dared make the engagement which I did, as I felt sure that there were multitudes of individuals in America who would be prompted to attend her concerts by this feeling alone.

Thousands of persons covered the shipping and piers, and other thousands had congregated on the wharf at Canal Street, to see her. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed as the steamer approached the dock. So great was the rush on a sloop near the steamer’s berth, that one man, in his zeal to obtain a good view, accidentally tumbled overboard, amid the shouts of those near him. Miss Lind witnessed this incident, and was much alarmed. He was, however, soon rescued, after taking to himself a cold duck instead of securing a view of the Nightingale. A bower of green trees, decorated with beautiful flags, was discovered on the wharf, together with two triumphal arches, on one of which was inscribed, “Welcome, Jenny Lind!” The second was surmounted by the American eagle, and bore the inscription, “Welcome to America!” These decorations were not produced by magic, and I do not know that I can reasonably find fault with those who suspected I had a hand in their erection. My private carriage was in waiting, and Jenny Lind was escorted to it by Captain West. The rest of the musical party entered the carriage, and mounting the box at the driver’s side, I directed him to the Irving House. I took that seat as a legitimate advertisement, and my presence on the outside of the carriage aided those who filled the windows and



sidewalks along the whole route, in coming to the conclusion that Jenny Lind had arrived.

A reference to the journals of that day will show, that never before had there been such enthusiasm in the City of New York, or indeed in America. Within ten minutes after our arrival at the Irving House, not less than twenty thousand persons had congregated around the entrance in Broadway, nor was the number diminished before nine o’clock in the evening. At her request, I dined with her that afternoon, and when, according to European custom, she prepared to pledge me in a glass of wine, she was somewhat surprised at my saying, “Miss Lind, I do not think you can ask any other favor on earth which I would not gladly grant; but I am a teetotaler, and must beg to be permitted to drink your health and happiness in a glass of cold water.”

At twelve o’clock that night, she was serenaded by the New York Musical Fund Society, numbering, on that occasion, two hundred musicians. They were escorted to the Irving House by about three hundred firemen, in their red shirts, bearing torches. There was a far greater throng in the streets than there was even during the day. The calls for Jenny Lind were so vehement that I led her through a window to the balcony. The loud cheers from the crowds lasted for several minutes, before the serenade was permitted to proceed again.

I have given the merest sketch of but a portion of the incidents of Jenny Lind’s first day in America. For weeks afterwards the excitement was unabated. Her rooms were thronged by visitors, including the magnates of the land in both Church and State. The carriages of the wealthiest citizens could be seen in front of her hotel at nearly all hours of the day, and it was with some difficulty that I prevented the “fashionables” from monopolizing her altogether, and thus, as I believed, sadly marring my interests by cutting her off from the warm sympathies she had awakened among the masses. Presents of all sorts were showered upon her. Milliners, mantua-makers, and shopkeepers vied with each other in calling her attention to their wares, of which they sent her many valuable specimens, delighted if, in return, they could receive her autograph acknowledgment. Songs, quadrilles and polkas were dedicated to her, and poets sung in her praise. We had Jenny Lind gloves, Jenny Lind bonnets, Jenny Lind riding hats, Jenny Lind shawls, mantillas, robes, chairs, sofas, pianos—in fact, every thing was Jenny Lind. Her movements were constantly watched, and the moment her carriage appeared at the door, it was surrounded by multitudes, eager to catch a glimpse of the Swedish Nightingale.

In looking over my “scrap-books” of extracts from the New York papers of that day, in which all accessible details concerning her were duly chronicled, it seems almost incredible that such a degree of enthusiasm should have existed. An abstract of the “sayings and doings” in regard to the Jenny Lind mania for the first ten days after her arrival, appeared in the London Times of Sept. 23, 1850, and although it was an ironical “showing up” of the American enthusiasm, filling several columns, it was nevertheless a faithful condensation of facts which at this late day seem even to myself more like a dream than reality.

Before her arrival I had offered $200 for a prize ode, “Greeting to America,” to be sung by Jenny Lind at her first concert. Several hundred “poems” were sent in from all parts of the United States and the Canadas. The duties of the Prize Committee, in reading these effusions and making choice of the one most worthy the prize, were truly arduous. The “offerings,” with perhaps a dozen exceptions, were the merest doggerel trash. The prize was awarded to Bayard Taylor for the following ode:



I GREET with a full heart the Land of the West,
Whose Banner of Stars o’er a world is unrolled;
Whose empire o’ershadows Atlantic’s wide breast,
And opens to sunset its gateway of gold!
The land of the mountain, the land of the lake,
And rivers that roll in magnificent tide—
Where the souls of the mighty from slumber awake,
And hallow the soil for whose freedom they died!
Thou Cradle of Empire! though wide be the foam
That severs the land of my fathers and thee,
I hear, from thy bosom, the welcome of home,
For Song has a home in the hearts of the Free!
And long as thy waters shall gleam in the sun,
And long as thy heroes remember their scars,
Be the hands of thy children united as one,
And Peace shed her light on thy Banner of Stars!

This award, although it gave general satisfaction, yet was met with disfavor by several disappointed poets, who, notwithstanding the decision of the committee, persisted in believing and declaring their own productions to be the best. This state of feeling was doubtless, in part, the cause which led to the publication, about this time, of a witty pamphlet entitled “Barnum’s Parnassus; being Confidential Disclosures of the Prize Committee on the Jenny Lind song.”

It gave some capital hits in which the committee, the enthusiastic public, the Nightingale, and myself, were roundly ridiculed. The following is a fair specimen from the work in question:



WHEN to the common rest that crowns his days,
Dusty and worn the tired pedestrian goes,
What light is that whose wide o’erlooking blaze
A sudden glory on his pathway throws?
’Tis not the setting sun, whose drooping lid
Closed on the weary world at half-past six;
’Tis not the rising moon, whose rays are hid
Behind the city’s sombre piles of bricks.
It is the Drummond Light, that from the top
Of Barnum’s massive pile, sky-mingling there,
Darts its quick gleam o’er every shadowed shop,
And gilds Broadway with unaccustomed glare.
There o’er the sordid gloom, whose deep’ning tracks
Furrow the city’s brow, the front of ages,
Thy loftier light descends on cabs and hacks,
And on two dozen different lines of stages!
O twilight Sun, with thy far darting ray,
Thou art a type of him whose tireless hands
Hung thee on high to guide the stranger’s way,
Where, in its pride, his vast Museum stands.
Him, who in search of wonders new and strange,
Grasps the wide skirts of Nature’s mystic robe
Explores the circles of eternal change,
And the dark chambers of the central globe.
He, from the reedy shores of fabled Nile,
Has brought, thick-ribbed and ancient as old iron,
That venerable beast the crocodile,
And many a skin of many a famous lion.
Go lose thyself in those continuous halls,
Where strays the fond papa with son and daughter
And all that charms or startles or appals,
Thou shalt behold, and for a single quarter!
Far from the Barcan deserts now withdrawn,
There huge constrictors coil their scaly backs;
There, cased in glass, malignant and unshorn,
Old murderers glare in sullenness and wax.
There many a varied form the sight beguiles,
In rusty broadcloth decked and shocking hat,
And there the unwieldy Lambert sits and smiles,
In the majestic plenitude of fat.
Or for thy gayer hours, the orang-outang
Or ape salutes thee with his strange grimace,
And in their shapes, stuffed as on earth they sprang,
Thine individual being thou canst trace!
And joys the youth in life’s green spring, who goes
With the sweet babe and the gray-headed nurse,
To see those Cosmoramic orbs disclose
The varied beauties of the universe.
And last, not least, the marvellous Ethiope,
Changing his skin by preternatural skill,
Whom every setting sun’s diurnal slope
Leaves whiter than the last, and whitening still.
All that of monstrous, scaly, strange and queer,
Has come from out the womb of earliest time,
Thou hast, O Barnum, in thy keeping here,
Nor is this all—for triumphs more sublime
Await thee yet! I, Jenny Lind, who reigned
Sublimely throned, the imperial queen of song,
Wooed by thy golden harmonies, have deigned
Captive to join the heterogeneous throng.
Sustained by an unfaltering trust in coin,
Dealt from thy hand, O thou illustrious man,
Gladly I heard the summons come to join
Myself the innumerable caravan.

Besides the foregoing, this pamphlet contained eleven poems, most of which abounded in wit. I have room for but a single stanza. The poet speaks of the various curiosities in the Museum, and representing me as still searching for further novelties, makes me address the Swedish Nightingale as follows:

“So Jenny, come along! you’re just the card for me,
And quit these kings and queens, for the country of the free;
They’ll welcome you with speeches, and serenades, and rockets,
And you will touch their hearts, and I will tap their pockets;
And if between us both the public isn’t skinned,
Why, my name isn’t Barnum, nor your name Jenny Lind!”

Various extracts from this brochure were copied in the papers daily, and my agents scattered the work as widely as possible, thus efficiently aiding and advertising my enterprise and serving to keep up the public excitement.

Among the many complimentary poems sent in, was the following, by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, which that distinguished writer enclosed in a letter to me, with the request that I should hand it to Miss Lind:



BLEST must their vocation be
Who, with tones of melody,
Charm the discord and the strife
And the railroad rush of life,
And with Orphean magic move
Souls inert to life and love.
But there’s one who doth inherit
Angel gift and angel spirit,
Bidding tides of gladness flow
Through the realms of want and woe;
’Mid lone age and misery’s lot,
Kindling pleasures long forgot,
Seeking minds oppressed with night,
And on darkness shedding light.
She the seraph’s speech doth know,
She hath done their deeds below:
So, when o’er this misty strand
She shall clasp their waiting hand,
They will fold her to their breast,
More a sister than a guest.

Jenny Lind’s first concert was fixed to come off at Castle Garden, on Wednesday evening, September 11th, and most of the tickets were sold at auction on the Saturday and Monday previous to the concert. John N. Genin, the hatter, laid the foundation of his fortune by purchasing the first ticket at $225. It has been extensively reported that Mr. Genin and I are brothers-in-law, but our only relations are those of business and friendship. The proprietors of the Garden saw fit to make the usual charge of one shilling to all persons who entered the premises, yet three thousand people were present at the auction. One thousand tickets were sold on the first day for an aggregate sum of $10,141.

On the Tuesday after her arrival I informed Miss Lind that I wished to make a slight alteration in our agreement. “What is it?” she asked in surprise.

“I am convinced,” I replied, “that our enterprise will be much more successful than either of us anticipated. I wish, therefore, to stipulate that you shall receive not only $1,000 for each concert, besides all the expenses, as heretofore agreed on, but after taking $5,500 per night for expenses and my services, the balance shall be equally divided between us.”

Jenny looked at me with astonishment. She could not comprehend my proposition. After I had repeated it, and she fully understood its import, she cordially grasped me by the hand, and exclaimed, “Mr. Barnum, you are a gentleman of honor: you are generous; it is just as Mr. Bates told me; I will sing for you as long as you please; I will sing for you in America—in Europe—anywhere!”

Upon drawing the new contract which was to include this entirely voluntary and liberal advance on my part, beyond the terms of the original agreement, Miss Lind’s lawyer, Mr. John Jay, who was present solely to put in writing the new arrangement between Miss Lind and myself, insisted upon intruding the suggestion that she should have the right to terminate the engagement at the end of the sixtieth concert, if she should choose to do so. This proposition was so persistently and annoyingly pressed that Miss Lind was finally induced to entertain it, at the same time offering, if she did so, to refund to me all moneys paid her up to that time, excepting the $1,000 per concert according to the original agreement. This was agreed to, and it was also arranged that she might terminate the engagement at the one-hundredth concert, if she desired, upon paying me $25,000 for the loss of the additional fifty nights.

After this new arrangement was completed, I said: “Now, Miss Lind, as you are directly interested, you must have an agent to assist in taking and counting the tickets”; to which she replied, “Oh, no! Mr. Barnum; I have every confidence in you and I must decline to act upon your suggestion”; but I continued:

“I never allow myself, if it can be avoided, when I have associates in the same interests, to be placed in a position where I must assume the sole responsibility. I never even permitted an actor to take a benefit at my Museum, unless he placed a ticket-taker of his own at the door.”

Thus urged, Miss Lind engaged Mr. Seton to act as her ticket-taker, and after we had satisfactorily arranged the matter, Jay, knowing the whole affair, had the impudence to come to me with a package of blank printed affidavits, which he demanded that I should fill out, from day to day, with the receipts of each concert, and swear to their correctness before a magistrate!

I told him that I would see him on the subject at Miss Lind’s hotel that afternoon, and going there a few moments before the appointed hour, I narrated the circumstances to Mr. Benedict and showed him an affidavit which I had made that morning to the effect that I would never directly or indirectly take any advantage whatever of Miss Lind. This I had made oath to, for I thought if there was any swearing of that kind to be done I would do it “in a lump” rather than in detail. Mr. Benedict was very much opposed to it, and arriving during the interview, Jay was made to see the matter in such a light that he was thoroughly ashamed of his proposition, and, requesting that the affair might not be mentioned to Miss Lind, he begged me to destroy the affidavit. I heard no more about swearing to our receipts.

On Tuesday, September 10th, I informed Miss Lind that, judging by present appearances, her portion of the proceeds of the first concert would amount to $10,000. She immediately resolved to devote every dollar of it to charity; and, sending for Mayor Woodhull, she acted under his and my advice in selecting the various institutions among which she wished the amount to be distributed.

My arrangements of the concert room were very complete. The great parterre and gallery of Castle Garden were divided by imaginary lines into four compartments, each of which was designated by a lamp of a different color. The tickets were printed in colors corresponding with the location which the holders were to occupy, and one hundred ushers, with rosettes and bearing wands tipped with ribbons of the several hues, enabled every individual to find his or her seat without the slightest difficulty. Every seat was of course numbered in color to correspond with the check, which each person retained after giving up an entrance ticket at the door. Thus, tickets, checks, lamps, rosettes, wands, and even the seat numbers were all in the appropriate colors to designate the different departments. These arrangements were duly advertised, and every particular was also printed upon each ticket. In order to prevent confusion, the doors were opened at five o’clock, while the concert did not commence until eight. The consequence was, that although about five thousand persons were present at the first concert, their entrance was marked with as much order and quiet as was ever witnessed in the assembling of a congregation at church. These precautions were observed at all the concerts given throughout the country under my administration, and the good order which always prevailed was the subject of numberless encomiums from the public and the press.

The reception of Jenny Lind on her first appearance, in point of enthusiasm, was probably never before equalled in the world. As Mr. Benedict led her towards the foot-lights, the entire audience rose to their feet and welcomed her with three cheers, accompanied by the waving of thousands of hats and handkerchiefs. This was by far the largest audience to which Jenny Lind had ever sung. She was evidently much agitated, but the orchestra commenced, and before she had sung a dozen notes of “Casta Diva,” she began to recover her self-possession, and long before the scena was concluded, she was as calm as if she was in her own drawing-room. Towards the last portion of the cavatina, the audience were so completely carried away by their feelings, that the remainder of the air was drowned in a perfect tempest of acclamation. Enthusiasm had been wrought to its highest pitch, but the musical powers of Jenny Lind exceeded all the brilliant anticipations which had been formed, and her triumph was complete. At the conclusion of the concert Jenny Lind was loudly called for, and was obliged to appear three times before the audience could be satisfied. They then called vociferously for “Barnum,” and I reluctantly responded to their demand.

On this first night, Mr. Julius Benedict firmly established with the American people his European reputation, as a most accomplished conductor and musical composer; while Signor Belletti inspired an admiration which grew warmer and deeper in the minds of the American people, to the end of his career in this country.

It would seem as if the Jenny Lind mania had reached its culminating point before she appeared, and I confess that I feared the anticipations of the public were too high to be realized, and hence that there would be a reaction after the first concert; but I was happily disappointed. The transcendent musical genius of the Swedish Nightingale was superior to all that fancy could paint, and the furor did not attain its highest point until she had been heard. The people were in ecstasies; the powers of editorial acumen, types and ink, were inadequate to sound her praises. The Rubicon was passed. The successful issue of the Jenny Lind enterprise was established. I think there were a hundred men in New York, the day after her first concert, who would have willingly paid me $200,000 for my contract. I received repeated offers for an eighth, a tenth, or a sixteenth, equivalent to that price. But mine had been the risk, and I was determined mine should be the triumph. So elated was I with my success, in spite of all obstacles and false prophets, that I do not think half a million of dollars would have tempted me to relinquish the enterprise.

Upon settling the receipts of the first concert, they were found to be somewhat less than I anticipated. The sums bid at the auction sales, together with the tickets purchased at private sale, amounted to more than $20,000. It proved, however, that several of the tickets bid off at from $12 to $25 each, were not called for. In some instances, probably the zeal of the bidders cooled down when they came out from the scene of excitement, and once more breathed the fresh sea-breeze which came sweeping up from “the Narrows,” while perhaps, in other instances, bids were made by parties who never intended to take the tickets. I can only say, once for all, that I was never privy to a false bid, and was so particular upon that point, that I would not permit one of my employees to bid on, or purchase a ticket at auction, though requested to do so for especial friends.

The amount of money received for tickets to the first concert was $17,864.05. As this made Miss Lind’s portion too small to realize the $10,000 which had been announced as devoted to charity, I proposed to divide equally with her the proceeds of the first two concerts, and not count them at all in our regular engagement. Accordingly, the second concert was given September 13th, and the receipts, amounting to $14,203.03, were, like those of the first concert, equally divided. Our third concert, but which, as between ourselves, we called the “first regular concert,” was given Tuesday September 17, 1850.




NO one can imagine the amount of head-work and hand-work which I performed during the first four weeks after Jenny Lind’s arrival. Anticipating much of this, I had spent some time in August at the White Mountains to recruit my energies. Of course I had not been idle during the summer. I had put innumerable means and appliances into operation for the furtherance of my object, and little did the public see of the hand that indirectly pulled at their heart-strings, preparatory to a relaxation of their purse-strings; and these means and appliances were continued and enlarged throughout the whole of that triumphal musical campaign.

The first great assembly at Castle Garden was not gathered by Jenny Lind’s musical genius and powers alone. She was effectually introduced to the public before they had seen or heard her. She appeared in the presence of a jury already excited to enthusiasm in her behalf. She more than met their expectations, and all the means I had adopted to prepare the way were thus abundantly justified.

As a manager, I worked by setting others to work. Biographies of the Swedish Nightingale were largely circulated; “Foreign Correspondence” glorified her talents and triumphs by narratives of her benevolence; and “printer’s ink” was invoked in every possible form, to put and keep Jenny Lind before the people. I am happy to say that the press generally echoed the voice of her praise from first to last. I could fill many volumes with printed extracts which are nearly all of a similar tenor to the following unbought, unsolicited editorial article, which appeared in the New York Herald of Sept. 10, 1850 (the day before the first concert given by Miss Lind in the United States):

Jenny Lind and the American People.—What ancient monarch was he, either in history or in fable, who offered half his kingdom (the price of box tickets and choice seats in those days) for the invention of an original sensation, or the discovery of a fresh pleasure? That sensation—that pleasure which royal power in the old world failed to discover—has been called into existence at a less price, by Mr. Barnum, a plain republican, and is now about to be enjoyed by the sovereigns of the new world.

“Jenny Lind, the most remarkable phenomenon in musical art which has for the last century flashed across the horizon of the old world, is now among us, and will make her début to-morrow night to a house of nearly ten thousand listeners, yielding in proceeds by auction, a sum of forty or fifty thousand dollars. For the last ten days our musical reporters have furnished our readers with every matter connected with her arrival in this metropolis, and the steps adopted by Mr. Barnum in preparation for her first appearance. The proceedings of yesterday, consisting of the sale of the remainder of the tickets, and the astonishing, the wonderful sensation produced at her first rehearsal on the few persons, critics in musical art, who were admitted on the occasion, will be found elsewhere in our columns.

“We concur in everything that has been said by our musical reporter, describing her extraordinary genius—her unrivalled combination of power and art. Nothing has been exaggerated, not an iota. Three years ago, more or less, we heard Jenny Lind on many occasions when she made the first great sensation in Europe, by her début at the London Opera House. Then she was great in power—in art—in genius; now she is greater in all. We speak from experience and conviction. Then she astonished, and pleased, and fascinated the thousands of the British aristocracy; now she will fascinate, and please, and delight, and almost make mad with musical excitement, the millions of the American democracy. To-morrow night, this new sensation—this fresh movement—this excitement excelling all former excitements—will be called into existence, when she pours out the notes of Casta Diva, and exhibits her astonishing powers—her wonderful peculiarities, that seem more of heaven than of earth—more of a voice from eternity, than from the lips of a human being.

“We speak soberly—seriously—calmly. The public expectation has run very high for the last week—higher than at any former period of our past musical annals. But high as it has risen, the reality—the fact—the concert—the voice and power of Jenny Lind—will far surpass all past expectation. Jenny Lind is a wonder, and a prodigy in song—and no mistake.”

As usual, however, the Herald very soon “took it all back” and roundly abused Miss Lind and persistently attacked her manager. As usual, too, the public paid no attention to the Herald and doubled their patronage of the Jenny Lind concerts.

After the first month the business became thoroughly systematized, and by the help of such agents as my faithful treasurer, L. C. Stewart, and the indefatigable Le Grand Smith, my personal labors were materially relieved; but from the first concert on the 11th of September, 1850, until the ninety-third concert on the 9th of June, 1851, a space of nine months, I did not know a waking moment that was entirely free from anxiety.

I could not hope to be exempted from trouble and perplexity in managing an enterprise which depended altogether on popular favor, and which involved great consequences to myself; but I did not expect the numerous petty annoyances which beset me, especially in the early period of the concerts. Miss Lind did not dream, nor did any one else, of the unparalleled enthusiasm that would greet her; and the first immense assembly at Castle Garden somewhat prepared her, I suspect, to listen to evil advisers. It would seem that the terms of our revised contract were sufficiently liberal to her and sufficiently hazardous to myself, to justify the expectation of perfectly honorable treatment; but certain envious intermeddlers appeared to think differently. “Do you not see, Miss Lind, that Mr. Barnum is coining money out of your genius?” said they; of course she saw it, but the high-minded Swede despised and spurned the advisers who recommended her to repudiate her contract with me at all hazards, and take the enterprise into her own hands—possibly to put it into theirs. I, however, suffered much from the unreasonable interference of her lawyer, Mr. John Jay. Benedict and Belletti behaved like men, and Jenny afterwards expressed to me her regret that she had for a moment listened to the vexatious exactions of her legal counsellor.

To show the difficulties with which I had to contend thus early in my enterprise, I copy a letter which I wrote, a little more than one month after Miss Lind commenced her engagement with me, to my friend Mr. Joshua Bates, of Messrs. Baring, Brothers & Co., London:

New York, Oct. 23, 1850.

Joshua Bates Esq.:

Dear Sir,—I take the liberty to write you a few lines, merely to say that we are getting along as well as could reasonably be expected. In this country you are aware that the rapid accumulation of wealth always creates much envy, and envy soon augments to malice. Such are the elements at work to a limited degree against myself, and although Miss Lind, Benedict and myself have never, as yet, had the slightest feelings between us, to my knowledge, except those of friendship, yet I cannot well see how this can long continue in face of the fact that, nearly every day, they allow persons (some moving in the first classes of society) to approach them, and spend hours in traducing me; even her attorney, Mr. John Jay, has been so blind to her interests, as to aid in poisoning her mind against me, by pouring into her ears the most silly twaddle, all of which amounts to nothing and less than nothing—such as the regret that I was a ‘showman,’ exhibitor of Tom Thumb, etc., etc.

Without the elements which I possess for business, as well as my knowledge of human nature, acquired in catering for the public, the result of her concerts here would not have been pecuniarily one half as much as at present—and such men as the Hon. Edward Everett, G. G. Howland, and others will tell you that there is no charlatanism or lack of dignity in my management of these concerts. I know as well as any person that the merits of Jenny Lind are the best capital to depend upon to secure public favor, and I have thus far acted on this knowledge. Everything which money and attention can procure for their comfort, they have, and I am glad to know that they are satisfied on this score. All I fear is, that these continual backbitings, if listened to by her, will, by and by, produce a feeling of distrust or regret, which will lead to unpleasant results.

The fact is, her mind ought to be as free as air, and she herself as free as a bird, and, being satisfied of my probity and ability, she should turn a deaf ear to all envious and malevolent attacks on me. I have hoped that by thus briefly stating to you the facts in the case, you might be induced for her interests as well as mine to drop a line of advice to Mr. Benedict and another to Mr. Jay on this subject. If I am asking or expecting too much, I pray you to not give it a thought, for I feel myself fully able to carry through my rights alone, although I should deplore nothing so much as to be obliged to do so in a feeling of unfriendliness. I have risked much money on the issue of this speculation—it has proved successful. I am full of perplexity and anxiety, and labor continually for success, and I cannot allow ignorance or envy to rob me of the fruits of my enterprise.

Sincerely and gratefully, yours,
P. T. Barnum.

It is not my purpose to enter into full details of all of the Lind concerts, though I have given elsewhere a transcript from the account books of my treasurer, presenting a table of the place and exact receipts of each concert. This will gratify curiosity, and at the same time indicate our route of travel. Meanwhile, I devote a few pages to interesting incidents connected with Miss Lind’s visit to America.

Jenny Lind’s character for benevolence became so generally known, that her door was beset by persons asking charity, and she was in the receipt, while in the principal cities, of numerous letters, all on the same subject. Her secretary examined and responded favorably to some of them. He undertook at first to answer them all, but finally abandoned that course in despair. I knew of many instances in which she gave sums of money to applicants, varying in amount from $20, $50, $500, to $1,000, and in one instance she gave $5,000 to a Swedish friend.

One night, while giving a concert in Boston, a girl approached the ticket-office, and laying down $3 for a ticket, remarked, “There goes half a month’s earnings, but I am determined to hear Jenny Lind.” Miss Lind’s secretary heard the remark, and a few minutes afterwards coming into her room, he laughingly related the circumstance. “Would you know the girl again?” asked Jenny, with an earnest look. Upon receiving an affirmative reply, she instantly placed a $20 gold-piece in his hand, and said, “Poor girl! give her that with my best compliments.” He at once found the girl, who cried with joy when she received the gold-piece, and heard the kind words with which the gift was accompanied.

The night after Jenny’s arrival in Boston, a display of fireworks was given in her honor, in front of the Revere House, after which followed a beautiful torchlight procession by the Germans of that city.

On her return from Boston to New York, Jenny, her companion, and Messrs. Benedict and Belletti, stopped at Iranistan, my residence in Bridgeport, where they remained until the following day. The morning after her arrival, she took my arm and proposed a promenade through the grounds. She seemed much pleased, and said, “I am astonished that you should have left such a beautiful place for the sake of travelling through the country with me.”

The same day she told me in a playful mood, that she had heard a most extraordinary report. “I have heard that you and I are about to be married,” said she; “now how could such an absurd report ever have originated?”

“Probably from the fact that we are ‘engaged,’ ” I replied. She enjoyed a joke, and laughed heartily.

“Do you know, Mr. Barnum,” said she, “that if you had not built Iranistan, I should never have come to America for you?”

I expressed my surprise, and asked her to explain.

“I had received several applications to visit the United States,” she continued, “but I did not much like the appearance of the applicants, nor did I relish the idea of crossing 3,000 miles of ocean; so I declined them all. But the first letter which Mr. Wilton, your agent, addressed me, was written upon a sheet headed with a beautiful engraving of Iranistan. It attracted my attention. I said to myself, a gentleman who has been so successful in his business as to be able to build and reside in such a palace cannot be a mere ‘adventurer.’ So I wrote to your agent, and consented to an interview, which I should have declined, if I had not seen the picture of Iranistan!”

“That, then, fully pays me for building it,” I replied; “for I intend and expect to make more by this musical enterprise than Iranistan cost me.”

“I really hope so,” she replied; “but you must not be too sanguine, you know, ‘man proposes but God disposes.’ ”

Jenny Lind always desired to reach a place in which she was to sing, without having the time of her arrival known, thus avoiding the excitement of promiscuous crowds. As a manager, however, I knew that the interests of the enterprise depended in a great degree upon these excitements. Although it frequently seemed inconceivable to her how so many thousands should have discovered her secret and consequently gathered together to receive her, I was not so much astonished, inasmuch as my agent always had early telegraphic intelligence of the time of her anticipated arrival, and was not slow in communicating the information to the public.

On reaching Philadelphia, a large concourse of persons awaited the approach of the steamer which conveyed her. With difficulty we pressed through the crowd, and were followed by many thousands to Jones’s Hotel. The street in front of the building was densely packed by the populace, and poor Jenny, who was suffering from a severe headache, retired to her apartments. I tried to induce the crowd to disperse, but they declared they would not do so until Jenny Lind should appear on the balcony. I would not disturb her, and knowing that the tumult might prove an annoyance to her, I placed her bonnet and shawl upon her companion, Miss Ahmansen, and led her out on the balcony. She bowed gracefully to the multitude, who gave her three hearty cheers and quietly dispersed. Miss Lind was so utterly averse to any thing like deception, that we never ventured to tell her the part which her bonnet and shawl had played in the absence of their owner.

Jenny was in the habit of attending church whenever she could do so without attracting notice. She always preserved her nationality, also, by inquiring out and attending Swedish churches wherever they could be found. She gave $1,000 to a Swedish church in Chicago.

While in Boston, a poor Swedish girl, a domestic in a family at Roxbury, called on Jenny. She detained her visitor several hours, talking about home, and other matters, and in the evening took her in her carriage to the concert, gave her a seat, and sent her back to Roxbury in a carriage, at the close of the performances. I have no doubt the poor girl carried with her substantial evidences of her countrywoman’s bounty.

My eldest daughter, Caroline, and her friend, Mrs. Lyman, of Bridgeport, accompanied me on the tour from New York to Havana, and thence home, via New Orleans and the Mississippi.

We were at Baltimore on the Sabbath, and my daughter, accompanying a friend, who resided in the city, to church, took a seat with her in the choir, and joined in the singing. A number of the congregation, who had seen Caroline with me the day previous, and supposed her to be Jenny Lind, were yet laboring under the same mistake, and it was soon whispered through the church that Jenny Lind was in the choir! The excitement was worked to its highest pitch when my daughter rose as one of the musical group. Every ear was on the alert to catch the first notes of her voice, and when she sang, glances of satisfaction passed through the assembly. Caroline, quite unconscious of the attention she attracted, continued to sing to the end of the hymn. Not a note was lost upon the ears of the attentive congregation. “What an exquisite singer!” “Heavenly sounds!” “I never heard the like!” and similar expressions were whispered through the church.

At the conclusion of the services, my daughter and her friend found the passage way to their carriage blocked by a crowd who were anxious to obtain a nearer view of the “Swedish Nightingale,” and many persons that afternoon boasted, in good faith, that they had listened to the extraordinary singing of the great songstress. The pith of the joke is that we have never discovered that my daughter has any extraordinary claims as a vocalist.

Our orchestra in New York consisted of sixty. When we started on our southern tour, we took with us permanently as the orchestra, twelve of the best musicians we could select, and in New Orleans augmented the force to sixteen. We increased the number to thirty-five, forty or fifty, as the case might be, by choice of musicians residing where the concerts were given. On our return to New York from Havana, we enlarged the orchestra to one hundred performers.

The morning after our arrival in Washington, President Fillmore called, and left his card, Jenny being out. When she returned and found the token of his attention, she was in something of a flurry. “Come,” said she, “we must call on the President immediately.”

“Why so?” I inquired.

“Because he has called on me, and of course that is equivalent to a command for me to go to his house.”

I assured her that she might make her mind at ease, for whatever might be the custom with crowned heads, our Presidents were not wont to “command” the movements of strangers, and that she would be quite in time if she returned his call the next day. She did so, and was charmed with the unaffected bearing of the President, and the warm kindnesses expressed by his amiable wife and daughter, and consented to spend the evening with them in conformity with their request. She was accompanied to the “White House” by Messrs Benedict, Belletti and myself, and several happy hours were spent in the private circle of the President’s family.

Mr. Benedict, who engaged in a long quiet conversation with Mr. Fillmore, was highly pleased with the interview. A foreigner, accustomed to court etiquette, is generally surprised at the simplicity which characterizes the Chief Magistrate of this Union. In 1852 I called on the President with my friend the late Mr. Brettell, of London, who resided in St. James Palace, and was quite a worshipper of the Queen, and an ardent admirer of all the dignities and ceremonies of royalty. He expected something of the kind in visiting the President of the United States, and was highly pleased with his disappointment.

Both concerts in Washington were attended by the President and his family, and every member of the Cabinet. I noticed, also, among the audience, Henry Clay, Benton, Foote, Cass and General Scott, and nearly every member of Congress. On the following morning, Miss Lind was called upon by Mr. Webster, Mr. Clay, General Cass, and Colonel Benton, and all parties were evidently gratified. I had introduced Mr. Webster to her in Boston. Upon hearing one of her wild mountain songs in New York, and also in Washington, Mr. Webster signified his approval by rising, drawing himself up to his full height, and making a profound bow. Jenny was delighted by this expression of praise from the great statesman. When I first introduced Miss Lind to Mr. Webster, at the Revere House, in Boston, she was greatly impressed with his manners and conversation, and after his departure, walked up and down the room in great excitement, exclaiming: “Ah! Mr. Barnum, that is a man; I have never before seen such a man!”

We visited the Capitol while both Houses were in session. Miss Lind took the arm of Hon. C. F. Cleveland, representative from Connecticut, and was by him escorted into various parts of the Capitol and the grounds, with all of which she was much pleased.

While I was in Washington an odd reminiscence of my old show-days in the South came back to me in a curious way. Some years before, in 1836, my travelling show company had stopped at a hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, and, as the house was crowded, soon after I went to bed five or six men came into the room with cards and a candle and asked permission, as there was no other place, to sit down and play a quiet game of “brag.” I consented on condition that I might get up and participate, which was permitted and in a very little while, as I knew nothing whatever of the game, I lost fifty dollars. Good “hands” and good fortune soon enabled me to win back my money, at which point one of the players who had been introduced to me as “Lawyer Foote” said:

“Now the best thing you can do is to go back to bed; you don’t know anything about the game, and these fellows do, and they’ll skin you.”

I acted upon his advice. And now, years afterwards, when Senator Foote called upon Miss Lind the story came back to me, and while I was talking with him I remarked:

“Fifteen years ago, when I was in the South, I became acquainted with a lawyer named Foote, at Jackson, Mississippi.”

“It must have been me,” said the Senator, “I am the only ‘lawyer Foote, of Jackson, Mississippi.’ ”

“Oh! no, it could not have been you,” and I told him the story.

“It was me,” he whispered in my ear, and added, “I used to gamble like h—l in those days.”

During the week I was invited with Miss Lind and her immediate friends, to visit Mount Vernon, with Colonel Washington, the then proprietor, and Mr. Seaton, ex-Mayor of Washington, and Editor of the Intelligencer. Colonel Washington chartered a steamboat for the purpose. We were landed a short distance from the tomb, which we first visited. Proceeding to the house, we were introduced to Mrs. Washington, and several other ladies. Much interest was manifested by Miss Lind in examining the mementoes of the great man whose home it had been. A beautiful collation was spread out and arranged in fine taste. Before leaving, Mrs. Washington presented Jenny with a book from the library, with the name of Washington written by his own hand. She was much overcome at receiving this present, called me aside, and expressed her desire to give something in return. “I have nothing with me,” she said, “excepting this watch and chain, and I will give that if you think it will be acceptable.” I knew the watch was very valuable, and told her that so costly a present would not be expected, nor would it be proper. “The expense is nothing, compared to the value of that book,” she replied, with deep emotion; “but as the watch was a present from a dear friend, perhaps I should not give it away.” Jenny Lind, I am sure, never forgot the pleasurable emotions of that day.

At Richmond, half an hour previous to her departure, hundreds of young ladies and gentlemen had crowded into the halls of the house to secure a glimpse of her at parting. I informed her that she would find difficulty in passing out. “How long is it before we must start?” she asked. “Half an hour,” I replied. “Oh, I will clear the passages before that time,” said she, with a smile; whereupon she went into the upper hall, and informed the people that she wished to take the hands of every one of them, upon one condition, viz: they should pass by her in rotation, and as fast as they had shaken hands, proceed down stairs, and not block up the passages. They joyfully consented to the arrangement, and in fifteen minutes the course was clear. Poor Jenny had shaken hands with every person in the crowd, and I presume she had a feeling remembrance of the incident for an hour or two at least. She was waited on by many members of the Legislature while in Richmond, that body being in session while we were there.

The voyage from Wilmington to Charleston was an exceedingly rough and perilous one. We were about thirty-six hours in making the passage, the usual time being seventeen. There was really great danger of our steamer being swamped, and we were all apprehensive that we should never reach the Port of Charleston alive. Some of the passengers were in great terror. Jenny Lind exhibited more calmness upon this occasion than any other person, the crew excepted. We arrived safely at last, and I was grieved to learn that for twelve hours the loss of the steamer had been considered certain, and had even been announced by telegraph in the Northern cities.

We remained at Charleston about ten days, to take the steamer “Isabella” on her regular trip to Havana. Jenny had been through so much excitement at the North, that she determined to have quiet here, and therefore declined receiving any calls. This disappointed many ladies and gentlemen. One young lady, the daughter of a wealthy planter near Augusta, was so determined upon seeing her in private, that she paid one of the servants to allow her to put on a cap and white apron, and carry in the tray for Jenny’s tea. I afterwards told Miss Lind of the joke, and suggested that after such an evidence of admiration, she should receive a call from the young lady.

“It is not admiration—it is only curiosity,” replied Jenny, “and I will not encourage such folly.”

Christmas was at hand, and Jenny Lind determined to honor it in the way she had often done in Sweden. She had a beautiful Christmas tree privately prepared, and from its boughs depended a variety of presents for members of the company. These gifts were encased in paper, with the names of the recipients written on each.

After spending a pleasant evening in her drawing-room, she invited us into the parlor, where the “surprise” awaited us. Each person commenced opening the packages bearing his or her address, and although every individual had one or more pretty presents, she had prepared a joke for each. Mr. Benedict, for instance, took off wrapper after wrapper from one of his packages, which at first was as large as his head, but after having removed some forty coverings of paper, it was reduced to a size smaller than his hand, and the removal of the last envelope exposed to view a piece of cavendish tobacco. One of my presents, choicely wrapped in a dozen coverings, was a jolly young Bacchus in Parian marble, intended as a pleasant hit at my temperance principles!

The night before New Year’s day was spent in her apartment with great hilarity. Enlivened by music, singing, dancing and story-telling, the hours glided swiftly away. Miss Lind asked me if I would dance with her. I told her my education had been neglected in that line, and that I had never danced in my life, “That is all the better,” said she; “now dance with me in a cotillion. I am sure you can do it.” She was a beautiful dancer, and I never saw her laugh more heartily than she did at my awkwardness. She said she would give me the credit of being the poorest dancer she ever saw!

About a quarter before twelve, Jenny suddenly checked Mr. Burke,—formerly celebrated as the musical prodigy, “Master Burke,”—who was playing on the piano, by saying, “Pray let us have quiet; do you see, in fifteen minutes more, this year will be gone forever!”

She immediately took a seat, and rested her head upon her hand in silence. We all sat down, and for a quarter of an hour the most profound quiet reigned in the apartment. The remainder of the scene I transcribe from a description written the next day by Mrs. Lyman, who was present on the occasion:

“The clock of a neighboring church struck the knell of the dying year. All were silent—each heart was left to its own communings, and the bowed head and tearful eye told that memory was busy with the Past. It was a brief moment, but thoughts and feelings were crowded into it, which render it one never to be forgotten. A moment more—the last stroke of the clock had fallen upon the ear—the last faint vibration ceased; another period of time had passed forever away—a new one had dawned, in which each felt that they were to live and act. This thought recalled them to a full consciousness of the present, and all arose and quietly, but cordially, presented to each other the kind wishes of the season. As the lovely hostess pressed the hands of her guests, it was evident that she, too, had wept,—she, the gifted, the admired, the almost idolized one. Had she, too, cause for tears? Whence were they?—from the overflowings of a grateful heart, from tender associations, or from sad remembrances? None knew, none could ask, though they awakened deep and peculiar sympathy. And from one heart, at least, arose the prayer, that when the dial of time should mark the last hour of her earthly existence, she should greet its approach with joy and not with grief—that to her soul spirit-voices might whisper, ‘Come, sweet sister! come to the realms of unfading light and love—come, join your seraphic tones with ours, in singing the praises of Him who loved us, and gave himself for us’—while she, with meekly-folded hands and faith-uplifted eye, should answer, ‘Yes, gladly and without fear I come, for I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ ”

I had arranged with a man in New York to transport furniture to Havana, provide a house, and board Jenny Lind and our immediate party during our stay. When we arrived, we found the building converted into a semi-hotel, and the apartments were any thing but comfortable. Jenny was vexed. Soon after dinner, she took a volante and an interpreter, and drove into the suburbs. She was absent four hours. Whither or why she had gone, none of us knew. At length she returned and informed us that she had hired a commodious furnished house in a delightful location outside the walls of the city, and invited us all to go and live with her during our stay in Havana, and we accepted the invitation. She was now freed from all annoyances; her time was her own, she received no calls, went and came when she pleased, had no meddlesome advisers about her, legal or otherwise, and was as merry as a cricket. We had a large court-yard in the rear of the house, and here she would come and romp and run, sing and laugh, like a young school-girl. “Now, Mr. Barnum, for another game of ball,” she would say half a dozen times a day; whereupon, she would take an india-rubber ball, (of which she had two or three,) and commence a game of throwing and catching, which would be kept up until, being completely tired out, I would say, “I give it up.” Then her rich, musical laugh would be heard ringing through the house, as she exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Barnum, you are too fat and too lazy; you cannot stand it to play ball with me!”

Her celebrated countrywoman, Miss Frederika Bremer, spent a few days with us very pleasantly, and it is difficult to conceive of a more delightful month than was passed by the entire party at Jenny Lind’s house in the outskirts of Havana.




SOON after arriving in Havana, I discovered that a strong prejudice existed against our musical enterprise. I might rather say that the Habaneros, not accustomed to the high figure which tickets had commanded in the States, were determined on forcing me to adopt their opera prices, whereas I paid one thousand dollars per night for the Tacon Opera House, and other expenses being in proportion, I was determined to receive remunerating prices, or give no concerts. This determination on my part annoyed the Habaneros, who did not wish to be thought penurious, though they really were so. Their principal spite, therefore, was against me; and one of their papers politely termed me a “Yankee pirate,” who cared for nothing except their doubloons. They attended the concert, but were determined to show the great songstress no favor. I perfectly understood this feeling in advance, but studiously kept all knowledge of it from Miss Lind. I went to the first concert, therefore, with some misgivings in regard to her reception. The following, which I copy from the Havana correspondence of the New York Tribune, gives a correct account of it:

*   *  *  *  *  *   *  *  

“Jenny Lind soon appeared, led on by Signor Belletti. Some three or four hundred persons clapped their hands at her appearance, but this token of approbation was instantly silenced by at least two thousand five hundred decided hisses. Thus, having settled the matter that there should be no forestalling of public opinion, and that if applause was given to Jenny Lind in that house it should first be incontestably earned, the most solemn silence prevailed. I have heard the Swedish Nightingale often in Europe as well as in America and have ever noticed a distinct tremulousness attending her first appearance in any city. Indeed this feeling was plainly manifested in her countenance as she neared the foot-lights; but when she witnessed the kind of reception in store for her—so different from anything she had reason to expect—her countenance changed in an instant to a haughty self-possession, her eye flashed defiance, and, becoming immovable as a statue, she stood there, perfectly calm and beautiful. She was satisfied that she now had an ordeal to pass and a victory to gain worthy of her powers. In a moment her eye scanned the immense audience, the music began and then followed—how can I describe it?—such heavenly strains as I verily believe mortal never breathed except Jenny Lind, and mortal never heard except from her lips. Some of the oldest Castilians kept a frown upon their brow and a curling sneer upon their lip; their ladies, however, and most of the audience began to look surprised. The gushing melody flowed on increasing in beauty and glory. The caballeros, the senoras and senoritas began to look at each other; nearly all, however, kept their teeth clenched and their lips closed, evidently determined to resist to the last. The torrent flowed deeper and faster, the lark flew higher and higher, the melody grew richer and grander; still every lip was compressed. By and by, as the rich notes came dashing in rivers upon our enraptured ears, one poor critic involuntarily whispered a ‘brava.’ This outbursting of the soul was instantly hissed down. The stream of harmony rolled on till, at the close, it made a clean sweep of every obstacle, and carried all before it. Not a vestige of opposition remained, but such a tremendous shout of applause as went up I never before heard.

“The triumph was most complete. And how was Jenny Lind affected? She who stood a few moments previous like adamant, now trembled like a reed in the wind before the storm of enthusiasm which her own simple notes had produced. Tremblingly, slowly, and almost bowing her face to the ground, she withdrew. The roar and applause of victory increased. ‘Encore! encore! encore!’ came from every lip. She again appeared, and, courtesying low, again withdrew, but again, again, and again did they call her out and at every appearance the thunders of applause rang louder and louder. Thus five times was Jenny Lind called out to receive their unanimous and deafening plaudits.”

I cannot express what my feelings were as I watched this scene from the dress circle. Poor Jenny! I deeply sympathized with her when I heard that first hiss. I indeed observed the resolute bearing which she assumed, but was apprehensive of the result. When I witnessed her triumph, I could not restrain the tears of joy that rolled down my cheeks; and rushing through a private box, I reached the stage just as she was withdrawing after the fifth encore. “God bless you, Jenny, you have settled them!” I exclaimed.

“Are you satisfied?” said she, throwing her arms around my neck. She, too, was crying with joy, and never before did she look so beautiful in my eyes as on that evening.

One of the Havana papers, notwithstanding the great triumph, continued to cry out for low prices. This induced many to absent themselves, expecting soon to see a reduction. It had been understood that we would give twelve concerts in Havana; but when they saw, after the fourth concert, which was devoted to charity, that no more were announced, they became uneasy. Committees waited upon us requesting more concerts, but we peremptorily declined. Some of the leading Dons, among whom was Count Penalver, then offered to guarantee us $25,000 for three concerts. My reply was, that there was not money enough on the island of Cuba to induce me to consent to it. That settled the matter, and gave us a pleasant opportunity for recreation.

We visited, by invitation, Mr. Brinckerhoff, the eminent American merchant at Matanzas, whom I had met at the same place three years previously, and who subsequently had visited my family in Connecticut. The gentlemanly host did everything in his power to render our stay agreeable; and Miss Lind was so delighted with his attentions and the interesting details of sugar and coffee plantations which we visited through his kindness, that as soon as she returned to Havana, she sent on the same tour of pleasure Mr. Benedict, who had been prevented by illness from accompanying us.

I found my little Italian plate-dancer, Vivalla, in Havana. He called on me frequently. He was in great distress, having lost the use of his limbs on the left side of his body by paralysis. He was thus unable to earn a livelihood, although he still kept a performing dog, which turned a spinning-wheel and performed some curious tricks. One day, as I was passing him out of the front gate, Miss Lind inquired who he was. I briefly recounted to her his history. She expressed deep interest in his case, and said something should be set apart for him in the benefit which she was about to give for charity. Accordingly, when the benefit came off, Miss Lind appropriated $500 to him, and I made the necessary arrangements for his return to his friends in Italy. At the same benefit $4,000 were distributed between two hospitals and a convent.

A few mornings after the benefit our bell was rung, and the servant announced that I was wanted. I went to the door and found a large procession of children, neatly dressed and bearing banners, attended by ten or twelve priests, arrayed in their rich and flowing robes. I inquired their business, and was informed that they had come to see Miss Lind, to thank her in person for her benevolence. I took their message, and informed Miss Lind that the leading priests of the convent had come in great state to see and thank her. “I will not see them,” she replied; “they have nothing to thank me for. If I have done good, it is no more than my duty, and it is my pleasure. I do not deserve their thanks, and I will not see them.” I returned her answer, and the leaders of the grand procession went away in disappointment.

The same day Vivalla called, and brought her a basket of the most luscious fruit that he could procure. The little fellow was very happy and extremely grateful. Miss Lind had gone out for a ride.

“God bless her! I am so happy; she is such a good lady. I shall see my brothers and sisters again. Oh, she is a very good lady,” said poor Vivalla, overcome by his feelings. He begged me to thank her for him, and give her the fruit. As he was passing out of the door, he hesitated a moment, and then said, “Mr. Barnum, I should like so much to have the good lady see my dog turn a wheel; it is very nice; he can spin very good. Shall I bring the dog and wheel for her? She is such a good lady, I wish to please her very much.” I smiled, and told him she would not care for the dog; that he was quite welcome to the money, and that she refused to see the priests from the convent that morning, because she never received thanks for favors.

When Jenny came in I gave her the fruit, and laughingly told her that Vivalla wished to show her how his performing dog could turn a spinning-wheel.

“Poor man, poor man, do let him come; it is all the good creature can do for me,” exclaimed Jenny, and the tears flowed thick and fast down her cheeks. “I like that, I like that,” she continued; “do let the poor creature come and bring his dog. It will make him so happy.”

I confess it made me happy, and I exclaimed, for my heart was full, “God bless you, it will make him cry for joy; he shall come to-morrow.”

I saw Vivalla the same evening, and delighted him with the intelligence that Jenny would see his dog perform the next day, at four o’clock precisely.

“I will be punctual,” said Vivalla, in a voice trembling with emotion; “but I was sure she would like to see my dog perform.”

For full half an hour before the time appointed did Jenny Lind sit in her window on the second floor and watch for Vivalla and his dog. A few minutes before the appointed hour, she saw him coming. “Ah, here he comes! here he comes!” she exclaimed in delight, as she ran down stairs and opened the door to admit him. A negro boy was bringing the small spinning-wheel, while Vivalla led the dog. Handing the boy a silver coin, she motioned him away, and taking the wheel in her arms, she said, “This is very kind of you to come with your dog. Follow me. I will carry the wheel up stairs.” Her servant offered to take the wheel, but no, she would let no one carry it but herself. She called us all up to her parlor, and for one full hour did she devote herself to the happy Italian. She went down on her knees to pet the dog and to ask Vivalla all sorts of questions about his performances, his former course of life, his friends in Italy, and his present hopes and determinations. Then she sang and played for him, gave him some refreshments, finally insisted on carrying his wheel to the door, and her servant accompanied Vivalla to his boarding-house.

Poor Vivalla! He was probably never so happy before, but his enjoyment did not exceed that of Miss Lind. That scene alone would have paid me for all my labors during the entire musical campaign. A few months later, however, the Havana correspondent of the New York Herald announced the death of Vivalla and stated that the poor Italian’s last words were about Jenny Lind and Mr. Barnum.

When Captain Rawlings, of the Steamer “Isabella” made his next return trip from Charleston, he brought a fine lot of game and invited Messrs. Benedict, Belletti and myself to a breakfast on board, where we met Mr. John Howard, of the Irving House, New York, Mr. J. B. Monnot, of the New York Hotel, Mr. Mixer, of the Charleston Hotel, and Mr. Monroe of one of the Havana hotels. The breakfast was a very nice one, and was accompanied by some “very fine old Madeira,” which received the highest encomiums of the company.

“Now,” said Captain Rawlings, “you must break your rule once, Mr. Barnum, and wash down your game with a glass or two of this choice Madeira. It is very old and fine, as smooth as oil, and the game is hardly game without it. Do take some.”

I positively declined, saying I did not doubt that he had the genuine article for once, but that most of what was offered and sold as wine did not contain a single drop of the juice of the grape. This led to a general talk about the impositions practised, even in the best hotels, in serving customers with “fine old wines and liquors” at the bar and at the table, and some very curious and amusing stories were told and confessions made. But there could be no mistake about this Madeira; it was rich, rare, old, oily, and genuine in flavor and quality; all the connoisseurs at the table were unanimous in their verdict.

But when the breakfast was over and we were going ashore, as I was sitting next the captain in his own boat, he said to me:

“Barnum, that fine old Madeira is the real ‘game’ of my game breakfast; I wanted to test those experienced tasters, and I gave them some wine which I bought for a dollar and a half a gallon at a corner grocery in Charleston.”

In the party which accompanied me to Havana, was Mr. Henry Bennett, who formerly kept Peale’s Museum in New York, afterwards managing the same establishment for me when I purchased it, and he was now with me in the capacity of a ticket-taker. He was as honest a man as ever lived, and a good deal of a wag. I remember his going through the market once and running across a decayed actor who was reduced to tending a market stand; Bennett hailed him with “Hallo! what are you doing here; what are you keeping that old turkey for?”

“O! for a profit,” replied the actor.

“Prophet, prophet!” exclaimed Bennett, “patriarch, you mean!”

With all his waggery he was subject at times to moods of the deepest despondency, bordering on insanity. Madness ran in his family. His brother, in a fit of frenzy, had blown his brains out. Henry himself had twice attempted his own life while in my employ in New York. Some time after our present journey to Havana, I sent him to London. He conducted my business precisely as I directed, writing up his account with me correctly to a penny. Then handing it to a mutual friend with directions to give it to me when I arrived in London the following week, he went to his lodgings and committed suicide.

While we were in Havana, Bennett was so despondent at times that we were obliged to watch him



carefully, lest he should do some damage to himself or others. When we left Havana for New Orleans, on board the steamer “Falcon,” Mr. James Gordon Bennett, editor of the New York Herald, and his wife were also passengers. After permitting one favorable notice in his paper, Bennett had turned around, as usual, and had abused Jenny Lind and bitterly attacked me. There was an estrangement, no new thing, between the editor and myself. The Herald, in its desire to excite attention, has a habit of attacking public men and I had not escaped. I was always glad to get such notices, for they served as inexpensive advertisements to my Museum, and brought custom to me free of charge.

Ticket-taker Bennett, however, took much to heart the attacks of Editor Bennett upon Jenny Lind, and while in New York he threatened to cowhide his namesake, as so many men have actually done in days gone by, but I restrained him. When Editor Bennett came on board the “Falcon,” he had in his arms a small pet monkey belonging to his wife, and the animal was placed in a safe place on the forward deck. When Henry Bennett saw the editor he said to a bystander:

“I would willingly be drowned if I could see that old scoundrel go to the bottom of the sea.”

Several of our party overheard the remark and I turned laughingly to Bennett and said: “Nonsense; he can’t harm any one and there is an old proverb about the impossibility of drowning those who are born to another fate.”

That very night, however, as I stood near the cabin door, conversing with my treasurer and other members of my company, Henry Bennett came up to me with a wild air, and hoarsely whispered:

“Old Bennett has gone forward alone in the dark to feed his monkey, and d—n him, I am going to throw him overboard.”

We were all startled, for we knew the man and he seemed terribly in earnest. Knowing how most effectively to address him at such times, I exclaimed.

“Ridiculous! you would not do such a thing.”

“I swear I will,” was his savage reply. I expostulated with him, and several of our party joined me.

“Nobody will know it,” muttered the maniac, “and I shall be doing the world a favor.”

I endeavored to awaken him to a sense of the crime he contemplated, assuring him that it could not possibly benefit any one, and that from the fact of the relations existing between the editor and myself, I should be the first to be accused of his murder. I implored him to go to his stateroom, and he finally did so, accompanied by some of the gentlemen of our party. I took pains to see that he was carefully watched that night, and, indeed, for several days, till he became calm again. He was a large, athletic man, quite able to pick up his namesake and drop him overboard. The matter was too serious for a joke, and we made little mention of it; but more than one of my party said then, and has said since, what I really believe to be true, that “James Gordon Bennett would have been drowned that night had it not been for P. T. Barnum.”

This incident has long been known to several of my intimate friends, and when Mr. Bennett learns the fact from this volume, he may possibly be somewhat mollified over his payment to me, fifteen years later, of $200,000 for the unexpired lease of my Museum, concerning which some particulars will be given anon.

In New Orleans the wharf was crowded by a great concourse of persons, as the steamer “Falcon” approached. Jenny Lind had enjoyed a month of quiet, and dreaded the excitement which she must now again encounter.

“Mr. Barnum, I am sure I can never get through that crowd,” said she, in despair.

“Leave that to me. Remain quiet for ten minutes, and there shall be no crowd here,” I replied.

Taking my daughter on my arm, she threw her veil over her face, and we descended the gangway to the dock. The crowd pressed around. I had beckoned for a carriage before leaving the ship.

“That’s Barnum, I know him,” called out several persons at the top of their voices.

“Open the way, if you please, for Mr. Barnum and Miss Lind!” cried Le Grand Smith over the railing of the ship, the deck of which he had just reached from the wharf.

“Don’t crowd her, if you please, gentlemen,” I exclaimed, and by dint of pushing, squeezing and coaxing, we reached the carriage, and drove for the Montalba buildings, where Miss Lind’s apartments had been prepared, and the whole crowd came following at our heels. In a few minutes afterwards, Jenny and her companion came quietly in a carriage, and were in the house before the ruse was discovered. In answer to incessant calls, she appeared a moment upon the balcony, waved her handkerchief, received three hearty cheers, and the crowd dispersed.

A poor blind boy, residing in the interior of Mississippi, a flute-player, and an ardent lover of music, visited New Orleans expressly to hear Jenny Lind. A subscription had been taken up among his neighbors to defray the expenses. This fact coming to the ears of Jenny, she sent for him, played and sang for him, gave him many words of joy and comfort, took him to her concerts, and sent him away considerably richer than he had ever been before.

A funny incident occurred at New Orleans. Our concerts were given in the St. Charles Theatre, then managed by my good friend, the late Sol. Smith. In the open lots near the theatre were exhibitions of mammoth hogs, five-footed horses, grizzly bears, and other animals.

A gentleman had a son about twelve years old, who had a wonderful ear for music. He could whistle or sing any tune after hearing it once. His father did not know nor care for a single note, but so anxious was he to please his son, that he paid thirty dollars for two tickets to the concert.

“I liked the music better than I expected,” said he to me the next day, “but my son was in raptures. He was so perfectly enchanted that he scarcely spoke the whole evening and I would on no account disturb his delightful reveries. When the concert was finished we came out of the theatre. Not a word was spoken. I knew that my musical prodigy was happy among the clouds, and I said nothing. I could not help envying him his love of music, and considered my thirty dollars as nothing, compared to the bliss which it secured to him. Indeed, I was seriously thinking of taking him to the next concert, when he spoke. We were just passing the numerous shows upon the vacant lots. One of the signs attracted him, and he said, ‘Father, let us go in and see the big hog!’ The little scamp! I could have horse-whipped him!” said the father, who, loving a joke, could not help laughing at the ludicrous incident.

Some months afterwards, I was relating this story at my own table to several guests, among whom was a very matter-of-fact man who had not the faintest conception of humor. After the whole party had laughed heartily at the anecdote, my matter-of-fact friend gravely asked:

“And was it a very large hog, Mr. Barnum?”

I made arrangements with the captain of the splendid steamer “Magnolia,” of Louisville, to take our party as far as Cairo, the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, stipulating for sufficient delay in Natchez, Mississippi, and in Memphis, Tennessee, to give a concert in each place. It was no unusual thing for me to charter a steamboat or a special train of cars for our party. With such an enterprise as that, time and comfort were paramount to money.

The time on board the steamer was whiled away in reading, viewing the scenery of the Mississippi, and other diversions. One day we had a pleasant musical festival in the ladies’ saloon for the gratification of the passengers, at which Jenny volunteered to sing without ceremony. It seemed to us she never sang so sweetly before. I also did my best to amuse my fellow passengers with anecdotes and the exhibition of sundry legerdemain tricks which I had been obliged to learn and use in the South years before and under far different circumstances than those which attended the performance now. Among other tricks, I caused a quarter of a dollar to disappear so mysteriously from beneath a card, that the mulatto barber on board came to the conclusion that I was in league with the devil.

The next morning I seated myself for the operation of shaving, and the colored gentleman ventured to dip into the mystery. “Beg pardon, Mr. Barnum, but I have heard a great deal about you, and I saw more than I wanted to see last night. Is it true that you have sold yourself to the devil, so that you can do what you’ve a mind to?”

“Oh, yes,” was my reply, “that is the bargain between us.”

“How long did you agree for?” was the question next in order.

“Only nine years,” said I. “I have had three of them already. Before the other six are out, I shall find a way to nonplus the old gentleman, and I have told him so to his face.”

At this avowal, a larger space of white than usual was seen in the darkey’s eyes, and he inquired, “Is it by this bargain that you get so much money?”

“Certainly. No matter who has money, nor where he keeps it, in his box or till, or anywhere about him, I have only to speak the words, and it comes.”

The shaving was completed in silence, but thought had been busy in the barber’s mind, and he embraced the speediest opportunity to transfer his bag of coin to the iron safe in charge of the clerk.

The movement did not escape me, and immediately a joke was afoot. I had barely time to make two or three details of arrangement with the clerk, and resume my seat in the cabin, ere the barber sought a second interview, bent on testing the alleged powers of Beelzebub’s colleague.

“Beg pardon, Mr. Barnum, but where is my money? Can you get it?”

“I do not want your money,” was the quiet answer. “It is safe.”

“Yes, I know it is safe—ha! ha!—it is in the iron safe in the clerk’s office—safe enough from you!”

“It is not in the iron safe!” said I. This was said so quietly, yet positively, that the colored gentleman ran to the office, and inquired if all was safe. “All right,” said the clerk. “Open, and let me see,” replied the barber. The safe was unlocked and lo! the money was gone!

In mystified terror the loser applied to me for relief. “You will find the bag in your drawer,” said I, and there it was found!

Of course, I had a confederate, but the mystification of that mulatto was immense.




ACCORDING to agreement, the “Magnolia” waited for us at Natchez and Memphis, and we gave profitable concerts at both places. The concert at Memphis was the sixtieth in the list since Miss Lind’s arrival in America, and the first concert in St. Louis would be the sixty-first. When we reached that city, on the morning of the day when our first concert was to be given, Miss Lind’s secretary came to me, commissioned, he said, by her, and announced that as sixty concerts had already taken place, she proposed to avail herself of one of the conditions of our contract, and cancel the engagement next morning. As this was the first intimation of the kind I had received, I was somewhat startled, though I assumed an entirely placid demeanor, and asked:

“Does Miss Lind authorize you to give me this notice?”

“I so understand it,” was the reply.

I immediately reflected that if our contract was thus suddenly cancelled, Miss Lind was bound to repay to me all I had paid her over the stipulated $1,000 for each concert, and a little calculation showed that the sum thus to be paid back was $77,000, since she had already received from me $137,000 for sixty concerts. In this view, I could not but think that this was a ruse of some of her advisers, and, possibly, that she might know nothing of the matter. So I told her secretary that I would see him again in an hour, and meanwhile I went to my old friend Mr. Sol. Smith for his legal and friendly advice.

I showed him my contract and told him how much I had been annoyed by the selfish and greedy hangers-on and advisers, legal and otherwise, of Jenny Lind. I talked to him about the “wheels within wheels” which moved this great musical enterprise, and asked and gladly accepted his advice, which mainly coincided with my own views of the situation. I then went back to the secretary and quietly told him that I was ready to settle with Miss Lind and to close the engagement.

“But,” said he, manifestly “taken aback,” “you have already advertised concerts in Louisville and Cincinnati, I believe.”

“Yes,” I replied; “but you may take my contracts for halls and printing off my hands at cost.” I further said that he was welcome to the assistance of my agent who had made these arrangements, and, moreover, that I would cheerfully give my own services to help them through with these concerts, thus giving them a good start “on their own hook.”

My liberality, which he acknowledged, emboldened him to make an extraordinary proposition:

“Now suppose,” he asked, “Miss Lind should wish to give some fifty concerts in this country, what would you charge as manager, per concert?”

“A million dollars each, not one cent less,” I replied. I was now thoroughly aroused; the whole thing was as clear as daylight, and I continued:

“Now we might as well understand each other; I don’t believe Miss Lind has authorized you to propose to me to cancel our contract; but if she has, just bring me a line to that effect over her signature and her check for the amount due me by the terms of that contract, some $77,000, and we will close our business connections at once.”

“But why not make a new arrangement,” persisted the Secretary, “for fifty concerts more, by which Miss Lind shall pay you liberally, say $1,000 per concert?”

“Simply because I hired Miss Lind, and not she me,” I replied, “and because I never ought to take a farthing less for my risk and trouble than the contract gives me. I have voluntarily paid Miss Lind more than twice as much as I originally contracted to pay her, or as she expected to receive when she first engaged with me. Now, if she is not satisfied, I wish to settle instantly and finally. If you do not bring me her decision to-day, I shall go to her for it to-morrow morning.”

I met the secretary soon after breakfast next morning and asked him if he had a written communication for me from Miss Lind? He said he had not and that the whole thing was a “joke.” He merely wanted, he added, to see what I would say to the proposition. I asked him if Miss Lind was in the “joke,” as he called it? He hoped I would not inquire, but would let the matter drop. I went on, as usual, and gave four more concerts in St. Louis, and followed out my programme as arranged in other cities for many weeks following; nor at that time, nor at any time afterwards, did Miss Lind give me the slightest intimation that she had any knowledge of the proposition of her secretary to cancel our agreement or to employ me as her manager.

During our stay at St. Louis, I delivered a temperance lecture in the theatre, and at the close, among other signers, of the pledge, was my friend and adviser, Sol. Smith. “Uncle Sol,” as every one called him, was a famous character in his time. He was an excellent comedian, an author, a manager and a lawyer. For a considerable period of his life, he was largely concerned in theatricals in St. Louis, New Orleans and other cities, and acquired a handsome property. He died at a ripe old age, in 1869, respected and lamented by all who knew him. I esteem it an honor to have been one of his intimate friends.

A year or two before he died, he published a very interesting volume, giving a full account of the leading incidents in his long and varied career as an actor and manager. He had previously, in 1854, published an autobiographical work, comprising an account of the “second seven years of his professional life,” together with sketches of adventure in after years, and entitled “The Theatrical Journey-Work and Anecdotical Recollections of Sol. Smith, Comedian, Attorney at Law,” etc. This unique work was preceded by a dedication which I venture to copy. It was as follows:


Great Impressario: Whilst you were engaged in your grand Jenny Lind speculation, the following conundrum went the rounds of the American newspapers:

“ ‘Why is it that Jenny Lind and Barnum will never fall out?’ Answer: ‘Because he is always for-getting, and she is always for-giving.’

“I have never asked you the question directly, whether you, Mr. Barnum, started that conundrum, or not; but I strongly suspect that you did. At all events, I noticed that your whole policy was concentrated into one idea—to make an angel of Jenny, and depreciate yourself in contrast.

“You may remember that in this city (St. Louis), I acted in one instance as your ‘legal adviser,’ and as such, necessarily became acquainted with all the particulars of your contract with the so-called Swedish Nightingale, as well as the various modifications claimed by that charitable lady, and submitted to by you after her arrival in this country; which modifications (I suppose it need no longer be a secret) secured to her—besides the original stipulation of one thousand dollars for every concert, attendants, carriages, assistant artists, and a pompous and extravagant retinue, fit (only) for a European princess—one half of the profits of each performance. You may also remember the legal advice I gave you on the occasion referred to, and the salutary effect of your following it. You must remember the extravagant joy you felt afterwards, in Philadelphia, when the ‘Angel’ made up her mind to avail herself of one of the stipulations in her contract, to break off at the end of a hundred nights, and even bought out seven of that hundred—supposing that she could go on without your aid as well as with it. And you cannot but remember, how, like a rocket-stick she dropped, when your business connection with her ended, and how she ‘fizzed out’ the remainder of her concert nights in this part of the world, and soon afterwards retired to her domestic blissitude in Sweden.

“You know, Mr. Barnum, if you would only tell, which of the two it was that was ‘for-getting,’ and which ‘for-giving’; and you also know who actually gave the larger portion of those sums which you heralded to the world as the sole gifts of the ‘divine Jenny.’

“Of all your speculations—from the negro centenarina, who didn’t nurse General Washington, down to the Bearded Woman of Genoa—there was not one which required the exercise of so much humbuggery as the Jenny Lind concerts; and I verily believe there is no man living, other than yourself, who could, or would, have risked the enormous expenditure of money necessary to carry them through successfully—travelling, with sixty artists, four thousand miles, and giving ninety-three concerts, at an actual cost of forty-five hundred dollars each, is what no other man would have undertaken—you accomplished this, and pocketed by the operation but little less than two hundred thousand dollars! Mr. Barnum, you are yourself, alone!

“I honor you, oh! Great Impressario, as the most successful manager in America or any other country. Democrat, as you are, you can give a practical lesson to the aristocrats of Europe how to live. At your beautiful and tasteful residence, ‘Iranistan’ (I don’t like the name, though,) you can and do entertain your friends with a warmth of hospitality, only equalled by that of the great landed proprietors of the old country, or of our own ‘sunny South.’ Whilst riches are pouring into your coffers from your various ‘ventures’ in all parts of the world, you do not hoard your immense means, but continually ‘cast them forth upon the waters,’ rewarding labor, encouraging the arts, and lending a helping hand to industry in all its branches. Not content with doing all this, you deal telling blows, whenever opportunity offers, upon the monster Intemperance. Your labors in this great cause alone, should entitle you to the thanks of all good men, women and children in the land. Mr. Barnum, you deserve all your good fortune, and I hope you may long live to enjoy your wealth and honor.

“As a small instalment towards the debt, I, as one of the community, owe you, and with the hope of affording you an hour’s amusement (if you can spare that amount of time from your numerous avocations to read it), I present you with this little volume, containing a very brief account of some of my ‘journey-work’ in the south and west; and remain, very respectfully,

“Your friend, and affectionate uncle,

Sol. Smith.

Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis,
“Nov. 1, 1854.”

“Uncle” Sol. Smith must be held solely responsible for his extravagant estimate of P. T. Barnum, and for his somewhat deprecatory view of the attributes of the “divine Jenny.” It is true that he derived many of his impressions of Miss Lind from the annoying circumstances that compelled me to seek his professional advice and assistance in St. Louis, when Jenny Lind’s secretary came to me with an assumed authorization from her to abruptly close our engagement. But when Sol. Smith’s dedication was first published, there were plenty of people and papers throughout the land that were eager to catch up and indorse this new view of Miss Lind’s character. The Athenians were sometimes sick, no doubt, of hearing Aristides always called “the Just.” Yet, some of the sharp things which Sol. Smith means to say about Miss Lind, apply rather to the selfish persons who, unfortunately, were more in her confidence than I ever aspired to be, and who assumed to advise her and thus easily perverted her better judgment.

With all her excellent and even extraordinarily good qualities, however, Jenny Lind was human, though the reputation she bore in Europe for her many charitable acts led me to believe, till I knew her, that she was nearly perfect. I think now that her natural impulses were more simple, childlike, pure and generous than those of almost any other person I ever met. But she had been petted, almost worshipped, so long, that it would have been strange indeed if her unbounded popularity had not in some degree affected her to her hurt, and it must not be thought extraordinary if she now and then exhibited some phase of human weakness.

Like most persons of uncommon talent, she had a strong will which, at times, she found ungovernable; but if she was ever betrayed into a display of ill-temper she was sure to apologize and express her regret afterwards. Le Grand Smith, who was quite intimate with her, and who was my right-hand man during the entire Lind engagement, used sometimes to say to me:

“Well, Mr. Barnum, you have managed wonderfully in always keeping Jenny’s ‘angel’ side outside with the public.”

More than one Englishman—I may instance Mr. Dolby, Mr. Dickens’s agent during his last visit to America—expressed surprise at the confirmed impression of “perfection” entertained by the general American public in regard to the Swedish Nightingale. These things are written with none but the kindest feelings towards the sweet songstress, and only to modify the too current ideas of superhuman excellence which cannot be characteristic of any mortal being.

As I have before intimated in giving details of my management of the enterprise, believing, as I did when I engaged her, in her “angelic” reputation, I am frank enough to confess that I considered her private character a valuable adjunct, even in a business point of view, to her renown as a singer. I admit that I took her charities into account as part of my “stock in trade.” Whenever she sang for a public or private charity, she gave her voice, which was worth a thousand dollars to her every evening. At such times, I always insisted upon paying for the hall, orchestra, printing, and other expenses, because I felt able and willing to contribute my full share towards the worthy objects which prompted these benefits.

This narration would be incomplete if I did not add the following:

We were in Havana when I showed to Miss Lind a paper containing the conundrum on “for-getting” and “for-giving,” at which she laughed heartily, but immediately checked herself and said:

“O! Mr. Barnum, this is not fair; you know that you really give more than I do from the proceeds of every one of these charity concerts.”

And it is but just to her to say that she frequently remonstrated with me and declared that the actual expenses should be deducted and the thus lessened sum devoted to the charity for which the concert might be given; but I always laughingly told her that I must do my part, give my share, and that if it was purely a business operation, “bread cast upon the waters,” it would return, perhaps, buttered; for the larger her reputation for liberality, the more liberal the public would surely be to us and to our enterprise.

I have no wish to conceal these facts; and I certainly have no desire to receive a larger meed of praise than my qualified generosity merits. Justice to myself and to my management, as well as to Miss Lind, seems to permit, if not to demand, this explanation.




AFTER five concerts in St. Louis, we went to Nashville, Tennessee, where we gave our sixty-sixth and sixty-seventh concerts in this country. At the first ticket auction in that city, the excitement was considerable and the bidding spirited, as was generally the case. After the auction was over, one of my men, happening in at a dry-goods store in the town, heard the proprietor say, “I’ll give five dollars to any man who will take me out and give me a good horse-whipping! I deserve it, and am willing to pay for having it done. To think that I should have been such a fool as to have paid forty-eight dollars for four tickets for my wife, two daughters, and myself, to listen to music for only two hours, makes me mad with myself, and I want to pay somebody for giving me a thundering good horse-whipping!” I am not sure that others have not experienced a somewhat similar feeling, when they became cool and rational, and the excitement of novelty and competition had passed away.

While at Nashville, Jenny Lind, accompanied by my daughter, Mrs. Lyman, and myself, visited “the Hermitage,” the late residence of General Jackson. On that occasion, for the first time that season, we heard the wild mocking-birds singing in the trees. This gave Jenny Lind great delight, as she had never before heard them sing except in their wire-bound cages.

The first of April occurred while we were in Nashville. I was considerably annoyed during the forenoon by the calls of members of the company who came to me under the belief that I had sent for them. After dinner I concluded to give them all a touch of “April fool.” The following article, which appeared the next morning in the Nashville Daily American, my amanuensis having imparted the secret to the editor, will show how it was done:

“A series of laughable jokes came off yesterday at the Veranda in honor of All Fools’ Day. Mr. Barnum was at the bottom of the mischief. He managed in some mysterious manner to obtain a lot of blank telegraphic despatches and envelopes from one of the offices in this city, and then went to work and manufactured ‘astounding intelligence’ for most of the parties composing the Jenny Lind suite. Almost every person in the company received a telegraphic despatch written under the direction of Barnum. Mr. Barnum’s daughter was informed that her mother, her cousin, and several other relatives were waiting for her in Louisville, and various other important and extraordinary items of domestic intelligence were communicated to her. Mr. Le Grand Smith was told by a despatch from his father that his native village in Connecticut was in ashes, including his own homestead, etc. Several of Barnum’s employees had most liberal offers of engagements from banks and other institutions at the North. Burke, and others of the musical professors, were offered princely salaries by opera managers, and many of them received most tempting inducements to proceed immediately to the World’s Fair in London.

“One married gentleman in Mr. Barnum’s suite received the gratifying intelligence that he had for two days been the father of a pair of bouncing boys (mother and children doing well), an event which he had been anxiously looking for during the week, though on a somewhat more limited scale. In fact, nearly every person in the party engaged by Barnum received some extraordinary telegraphic intelligence, and as the great impressario managed to have the despatches delivered simultaneously, each recipient was for some time busily occupied with his own personal news.

“By and by each began to tell his neighbor his good or bad tidings; and each was, of course, rejoiced or grieved according to circumstances. Several gave Mr. Barnum notice of their intention to leave him, in consequence of better offers; and a number of them sent off telegraphic despatches and letters by mail, in answer to those received.

“The man who had so suddenly become the father of twins, telegraphed to his wife to ‘be of good cheer,’ and that he would ‘start for home to-morrow.’ At a late hour last night the secret had not got out, and we presume that many of the victims will first learn from our columns that they have been taken in by Barnum and All Fools’ Day!”

From Nashville, Jenny Lind and a few friends went by way of the Mammoth Cave to Louisville, while the rest of the party proceeded by steamboat.

While in Havana, I engaged Signor Salvi for a few months, to begin about the 10th of April. He joined us at Louisville, and sang in the three concerts there, with great satisfaction to the public. Mr. George D. Prentice, of the Louisville Journal, and his beautiful and accomplished lady, who had contributed much to the pleasure of Miss Lind and our party, accompanied us to Cincinnati.

A citizen of Madison had applied to me on our first arrival in Louisville, for a concert in that place. I replied that the town was too small to afford it, whereupon he offered to take the management of it into his own hands, and pay me $5,000 for the receipts. The last concert at Louisville, and the concerts at Natchez and Wheeling were given under a similar agreement, though with better pecuniary results than at Madison. As the steamer from Louisville to Cincinnati would arrive at Madison about sundown, and would wait long enough for us to give a concert, I agreed to his proposition.

We were not a little surprised to learn upon arriving, that the concert must be given in a “pork house”—a capacious shed which had been fitted up and decorated for the occasion. We concluded, however, that if the inhabitants were satisfied with the accommodations, we ought not to object. The person who had contracted for the concert came $1,300 short of his agreement, which I consequently lost, and at ten o’clock we were again on board the fine steamer “Ben Franklin” bound for Cincinnati.

The next morning the crowd upon the wharf was immense. I was fearful that an attempt to repeat the New Orleans ruse with my daughter would be of no avail, as the joke had been published in the Cincinnati papers; so I gave my arm to Miss Lind, and begged her to have no fears, for I had hit upon an expedient which would save her from annoyance. We then descended the plank to the shore, and as soon as we had touched it, Le Grand Smith called out from the boat, as if he had been one of the passengers, “That’s no go, Mr. Barnum; you can’t pass your daughter off for Jenny Lind this time.”

The remark elicited a peal of merriment from the crowd, several persons calling out, “That won’t do, Barnum! you may fool the New Orleans folks, but you can’t come it over the ‘Buckeyes.’ We intend to stay here until you bring out Jenny Lind!” They readily allowed me to pass with the lady whom they supposed to be my daughter, and in five minutes afterwards the Nightingale was complimenting Mr. Coleman upon the beautiful and commodious apartments which were devoted to her in the Burnett House. The crowd remained an hour on the wharf before they would be convinced that the person whom they took for my daughter was in fact the veritable Swede. When this was discovered, a general laugh followed the exclamation from one of the victims, “Well, Barnum has humbugged us after all!”

In passing up the river to Pittsburg, the boat waited four hours to enable us to give a concert in Wheeling. It was managed by a couple of gentlemen in that city, who purchased it for five thousand dollars in advance, by which they made a handsome profit for their trouble. The concert was given in a church.

At Pittsburg, the open space surrounding the concert room became crowded with thousands of persons, who, foolishly refusing to accommodate each other by listening to the music, disturbed the concert and determined us to leave the next morning for Baltimore, instead of giving a second concert that had been advertised.

Le Grand Smith here paid me off for my “April fool” joke. He induced a female of his acquaintance to call on me and reveal an arrangement which she pretended accidentally to have overheard between some scoundrels, who were resolved to stop our stage coach on the Alleghany mountains and commit highway robbery. The story seemed incredible, and yet the woman related it with so much apparent sincerity, that I swallowed the bait, and remitting to New York all the money I had, except barely enough to defray our expenses to Baltimore, I purchased several revolvers for such members of the company as were not already provided, and we left Pittsburg armed to the teeth! Fortunately, Jenny Lind and several of the company had left before I made this grand discovery, and hence she was saved any apprehensions on the subject. It is needless to say we found no use for our firearms.

We reached New York early in May, 1851, and gave fourteen concerts in Castle Garden and Metropolitan Hall. The last of these made the ninety-second regular concert under our engagement. Jenny Lind had now again reached the atmosphere of her legal and other “advisers,” and I soon discovered the effects of their influence. I, however, cared little what course they advised her to pursue. I indeed wished they would prevail upon her to close with her hundredth concert, for I had become weary with constant excitement and unremitting exertions. I was confident that if she undertook to give concerts on her own account, she would be imposed upon and harassed in a thousand ways; yet I felt it would be well for her to have a trial at it, if she saw fit to credit her advisers’ assurance that I had not managed the enterprise as successfully as it might have been done.

At about the eighty-fifth concert, therefore, I was most happy to learn from her lips that she had concluded to pay the forfeiture of twenty-five thousand dollars, and terminate the concerts with the one hundredth.

We went to Philadelphia, where I had advertised the ninety-second, ninety-third, and ninety-fourth concerts, and had engaged the large National Theatre on Chestnut Street. It had been used for equestrian and theatrical entertainments, but was now thoroughly cleansed and fitted up by Max Maretzek for Italian opera. It was a convenient place for our purpose. One of her “advisers,” a subordinate in her employ, who was already itching for the position of manager, made the selection of this building a pretext for creating dissatisfaction in the mind of Miss Lind. I saw the influences which were at work, and not caring enough for the profits of the remaining seven concerts, to continue the engagement at the risk of disturbing the friendly feelings which had hitherto uninterruptedly existed between that lady and myself, I wrote her a letter offering to relinquish the engagement, if she desired it, at the termination of the concert which was to take place that evening, upon her simply allowing me a thousand dollars per concert for the seven which would yet remain to make up the hundred, besides paying me the sum stipulated as a forfeiture for closing the engagement at the one-hundredth concert. Towards evening I received the following reply:

To P. T. Barnum, Esq.

My Dear Sir:—I accept your proposition to close our contract to-night, at the end of the ninety-third concert, on condition of my paying you seven thousand dollars, in addition to the sum I forfeit under the condition of finishing the engagement at the end of one hundred concerts.

“I am, dear Sir, yours truly,

Jenny Lind,

Philadelphia, 9th of June, 1851.”

I met her at the concert in the evening, and she was polite and friendly as ever. Between the first and second parts of the concert, I introduced General Welch, the lessee of the National Theatre, who informed her that he was quite willing to release me from my engagement of the building, if she did not desire it longer. She replied, that upon trial, she found it much better than she expected, and she would therefore retain it for the remainder of the concerts.

In the mean time, her advisers had been circulating the story that I had compelled her to sing in an improper place, and when they heard she had concluded to remain there, they beset her with arguments against it, until at last she consented to remove her concerts to a smaller hall.

I had thoroughly advertised the three concerts, in the newspapers within a radius of one hundred miles from Philadelphia, and had sent admission tickets to the editors. On the day of the second concert, one of the new agents, who had indirectly aided in bringing about the dissolution of our engagement, refused to recognize these tickets. I urged upon him the injustice of such a course, but received no satisfaction. I then stated the fact to Miss Lind, and she gave immediate orders that these tickets should be received. Country editors’ tickets, which were offered after I left Philadelphia, were however refused by her agents (contrary to Miss Lind’s wish and knowledge), and the editors, having come from a distance with their wives, purchased tickets, and I subsequently remitted the money to numerous gentlemen, whose complimentary tickets were thus repudiated.

Jenny Lind gave several concerts with varied success, and then retired to Niagara Falls, and afterwards to Northampton, Massachusetts. While sojourning at the latter place, she visited Boston and was married to Mr. Otto Goldschmidt, a German composer and pianist, to whom she was much attached, and who had studied music with her in Germany. He played several times in our concerts. He was a very quiet, inoffensive gentleman, and an accomplished musician.

I met her several times after our engagement terminated. She was always affable. On one occasion, while passing through Bridgeport, she told me that she had been sadly harassed in giving her concerts. “People cheat me and swindle me very much,” said she, “and I find it very annoying to give concerts on my own account.”

I was always supplied with complimentary tickets when she gave concerts in New York, and on the occasion of her last appearance in America, I visited her in her room back of the stage, and bade her and her husband adieu, with my best wishes. She expressed the same feeling to me in return. She told me she should never sing much, if any more, in public; but I reminded her that a good Providence had endowed her with a voice which enabled her to contribute in an eminent degree to the enjoyment of her fellow beings, and if she no longer needed the large sums of money which they were willing to pay for this elevating and delightful entertainment, she knew by experience what a genuine pleasure she would receive by devoting the money to the alleviation of the wants and sorrows of those who needed it.

“Ah! Mr. Barnum,” she replied, “that is very true, and it would be ungrateful in me to not continue to use for the benefit of the poor and lowly, that gift which our kind Heavenly Father has so graciously bestowed upon me. Yes, I will continue to sing so long as my voice lasts, but it will be mostly for charitable objects, for I am thankful to say I have all the money which I shall ever need.” Pursuant to this resolution, the larger portion of the concerts which this noble lady has given since her return to Europe, have been for objects of benevolence.

If she consents to sing for a charitable object in London, for instance, the fact is not advertised at all, but the tickets are readily disposed of in a private quiet way, at a guinea and half a guinea each.

After so many months of anxiety, labor and excitement, in the Jenny Lind enterprise, it will readily be believed that I desired tranquility. I spent a week at Cape May, and then came home to Iranistan, where I remained during the entire summer.



New York,$17,864 05No.46.Havana,$2,931 95
14,203 0347.New Orleans,12,599 85
   ————48.10,210 42
1.12,519 5949.8,131 15
2.14,266 0950.6,019 85
3.12,174 7451.6,644 00
4.16,028 3952.9,720 80
5.Boston,16,479 5053.7,545 50
6.11,848 6254.6,053 50
7.8,639 9255.4,850 25
8.10,169 2556.4,495 35
9.Providence,6,525 5457.6,630 35
10.Boston,10,524 8758.4,745 10
11.5,240 0059.Natchez,5,000 00
12.7,586 0060.Memphis,4,539 56
13.Philadelphia,9,291 2561.St. Louis,7,811 85
14.7,547 0062.7,961 92
15.8,458 6563.7,708 70
16.New York,6,415 9064.4,086 50
17.4,009 7065.3,044 70
18.5,982 0066.Nashville,7,786 30
19.8,007 1067.4,248 00
20.6,334 2068.Louisville,7,833 90
21.9,429 1569.6,595 60
22.9,912 1770.5,000 00
23.5,773 4071.Madison,3,693 25
24.4,993 5072.Cincinnati,9,339 75
25.6,670 1573.11,001 50
26.9,840 3374.8,446 30
27.7,097 1575.8,954 18
28.8,263 3076.6,500 40
29.10,570 2577.Wheeling,5,000 00
30.10,646 4578.Pittsburg,7,210 58
31.Philadelphia,5,480 7579.New York,6,858 42
32.5,728 6580.5,453 00
33.3,709 8881.5,463 70
34.4,815 4882.7,378 35
35.Baltimore,7,117 0083.7,179 27
36.8,357 0584.6,641 00
37.8,406 5085.6,917 13
38.8,121 3386.6,642 04
39.Washington City,6,878 5587.3,738 75
40.8,507 0588.4,335 28
41.Richmond,12,385 2189.5,339 23
42.Charleston,6,775 0090.4,087 03
43.3,653 7591.5,717 00
44.Havana,4,666 1792.9,525 80
45.2,837 9293.Philadelphia,3,852 75

Charity Concerts.—Of Miss Lind’s half receipts of the first two Concerts, she devoted $10,000 to charity in New York. She afterwards gave Charity Concerts in Boston, Baltimore, Charleston, Havana, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia, and donated large sums for the like purposes in Richmond, Cincinnati, and elsewhere. There were also several Benefit Concerts, for the Orchestra, Le Grand Smith, and other persons and objects.


New York35Concerts.Receipts,$286,216 64Average,$8,177 50
Philadelphia848,884 416,110 55
Boston770,388 1610,055 45
Providence16,525 546,525 54
Baltimore432,101 888,000 47
Washington215,385 607,692 80
Richmond112,385 2112,385 21
Charleston210,428 755,214 37
Havana310,436 043,478 68
New Orleans1287,646 127,303 84
Natchez15,000 005,000 00
Memphis14,539 564,539 56
St. Louis530,613 676,122 73
Nashville212,034 306,017 15
Louisville319,429 506,476 50
Madison13,693 253,693 25
Cincinnati544,242 138,848 43
Wheeling15,000 005,000 00
Pittsburg17,210 587,210 58
Total95 Concerts.Receipts, $712,161 34 Average, $7,496 43


From the Total Receipts of Ninety-five Concerts$712,161 34
Deduct the receipts of the first two, which, as between P. T. Barnum and Jenny Lind, were aside from the contract, and are not numbered in the Table32,067 08
Total Receipts of Concerts from No. 1 to No. 93$680,094 26
Deduct the receipts of the 28 Concerts, each of which fell short of $5,500$123,311 15 
Also deduct $5,500 for each of the remaining 65 Concerts357,500 00 480,811 15
      Leaving the total excess, as above $199,283 11
Being equally divided, Miss Lind’s portion was$99,641 55
I paid her $1,000 for each of the 93 Concerts93,000 00
Also one half the receipts of the first two Concerts16,033 54
      Amount paid to Jenny Lind$208,675 09
She refunded to me as forfeiture, per contract, in case she withdrew after the 100th Concert$25,000
She also paid me $1,000 each for the seven Concerts relinquished7,00032,000 00
Jenny Lind’s net avails of 95 Concerts $176,675 09
P. T. Barnum’s gross receipts, after paying Miss Lind535,486 25
      Total Receipts of 95 Concerts$712,161 34

Price of Tickets.—The highest prices paid for tickets were at auction as follows:—John N. Genin, in New York, $225; Ossian E. Dodge, in Boston, $625; Col. William C. Ross, in Providence, $650; M. A. Root, in Philadelphia, $625; Mr. D’Arcy, in New Orleans, $240; a keeper of a refreshment saloon in St. Louis, $150; a Daguerrotypist, in Baltimore, $100. I cannot now recall the names of the last two. After the sale of the first ticket, the premium usually fell to $20, and so downward in the scale of figures. The fixed price of tickets ranged from $7 to $3. Promenade tickets were from $2 to $1 each.




WHILE I was managing the Lind concerts, in addition to the American Museum I had other business matters in operation which were more than enough to engross my entire attention and which, of course, I was compelled to commit to the hands of associates and agents.

In 1849 I had projected a great travelling museum and menagerie, and, as I had neither time nor inclination to manage such a concern, I induced Mr. Seth B. Howes, justly celebrated as a “showman,” to join me, and take the sole charge. Mr. Sherwood E. Stratton, father of General Tom Thumb, was also admitted to partnership, the interest being in thirds.

In carrying out a portion of the plan, we chartered the ship “Regatta,” Captain Pratt, and despatched her, together with our agents, Messrs. June and Nutter, to Ceylon. The ship left New York in May, 1850, and was absent one year. Their mission was to procure, either by capture or purchase, twelve or more living elephants, besides such other wild animals as they could secure. In order to provide sufficient drink and provender for a cargo of these huge animals, we purchased a large quantity of hay in New York. Five hundred tons were left at the Island of St. Helena, to be taken on the return trip of the ship, and staves and hoops of water-casks were also left at the same place.

As our agents were unable to purchase the required number of elephants, either in Columbo or Kandy, the principal towns of the island, (Ceylon,) they took one hundred and sixty native assistants, and plunged into the jungles, where, after many most exciting adventures, they succeeded in securing thirteen elephants of a suitable size for their purpose, with a female and her calf, or “baby” elephant, only six months old. In the course of the expedition, Messrs. Nutter and June killed large numbers of the huge beasts, and had numerous encounters of the most terrific description with the formidable animals, one of the most fearful of which took place near Anarajah Poora, while they were endeavoring, by the aid of the natives and trained elephants, to drive the wild herd of beasts into an Indian kraal.

They arrived in New York in 1851 with ten of the elephants, and these, harnessed in pairs to a chariot, paraded up Broadway past the Irving House, while Jenny Lind was staying at that hotel, on the occasion of her second visit to New York. Messrs. Nutter and June also brought with the elephants a native who was competent to manage and control them. We added a caravan of wild animals and many museum curiosities, the entire outfit, including horses, vans, carriages, tent, etc., costing $109,000, and commenced operations, with the presence and under the “patronage” of General Tom Thumb, who travelled nearly four years as one of the attractions of “Barnum’s Great Asiatic Caravan, Museum and Menagerie,” returning us immense profits.

At the end of that time, after exhibiting in all sections of the country, we sold out the entire establishment—animals, cages, chariots and paraphernalia, excepting one elephant, which I retained in my own possession two months for agricultural purposes. It occurred to me that if I could put an elephant to plowing for a while on my farm at Bridgeport, it would be a capital advertisement for the American Museum, which was then, and always during my proprietorship of that establishment, foremost in my thoughts.

So I sent him to Connecticut in charge of his keeper, whom I dressed in Oriental costume, and keeper and elephant were stationed on a six-acre lot which lay close beside the track of the New York and New Haven Railroad. The keeper was furnished with a time-table of the road, with special instructions to be busily engaged in his work whenever passenger trains from either way were passing through. Of course, the matter soon appeared in the papers and went the entire rounds of the press in this country and even in Europe, and it was everywhere announced that P. T. Barnum, “Proprietor of the celebrated American Museum in New York”—and here is where the advertisement came in—had introduced elephants upon his farm, to do his plowing and heavy draft work. Hundreds of people came many miles to witness the novel spectacle. Letters poured in upon me from the secretaries of hundreds of State and County agricultural societies throughout the Union, stating that the presidents and directors of such societies had requested them to propound to me a series of questions in regard to the new power I had put in operation on my farm. These questions were greatly diversified, but the “general run” of them were something like the following:

1. “Is the elephant a profitable agricultural animal?”

2. “How much can an elephant plow in a day?”

3. “How much can he draw?”

4. “How much does he eat?”—this question was invariably asked, and was a very important one.

5. “Will elephants make themselves generally useful on a farm?” I suppose some of my inquirers thought the elephant would pick up chips, or even pins as they have been taught to do, and would rock the baby and do all the chores, including the occasional carrying of a trunk, other than his own, to the depot.

6. “What is the price of an elephant?”

7. “Where can elephants be purchased?”

Then would follow a score of other inquiries, such as, whether elephants were easily managed; if they would quarrel with cattle; if it was possible to breed them; how old calf elephants must be before they would earn their own living; and so on indefinitely. I began to be alarmed lest some one should buy an elephant, and so share the fate of the man who drew one in a lottery, and did not know what to do with him. I accordingly had a general letter printed, which I mailed to all my anxious inquirers. It was headed “strictly confidential,” and I then stated, begging my correspondents “not to mention it,” that to me the elephant was a valuable agricultural animal, because he was an excellent



advertisement to my Museum; but that to other farmers he would prove very unprofitable for many reasons. In the first place, such an animal would cost from $3,000 to $10,000; in cold weather he could not work at all; in any weather he could not earn even half his living; he would eat up the value of his own head, trunk, and body every year; and I begged my correspondents not to do so foolish a thing as to undertake elephant farming.

Newspaper reporters came from far and near, and wrote glowing accounts of the elephantine performances. One of them, taking a political view of the matter, stated that the elephant’s sagacity showed that he knew more than did any laborer on the farm, and yet, shameful to say, he was not allowed to vote. Another said that Barnum’s elephant built all the stone wall on the farm; made all the rail fences; planted corn with his trunk, and covered it with his foot; washed my windows and sprinkled the walks and lawns, by taking water from the fountain-basin with his trunk; carried all the children to school, and put them to bed at night, tucking them up with his trunk; fed the pigs; picked fruit from branches that could not otherwise be reached; turned the fanning mill and corn-sheller; drew the mowing machine, and turned and cocked the hay with his trunk; carried and brought my letters to and from the post-office (it was a male elephant); and did all the chores about the house, including milking the cows, and bringing in eggs. Pictures of Barnum’s plowing elephant appeared in illustrated papers at home and abroad, and as the cars passed the scene of the performance, passengers’ heads were out of every window, and among many and varied exclamations, I heard of one man’s saying:

“Well, I declare! That is certainly a real elephant and any man who has so many elephants that he can afford to work them on his farm, must have lots of wild animals and curious ‘critters’ in his Museum, and I am bound to go there the first thing after my arrival in New York.”

The six acres were plowed over at least sixty times before I thought the advertisement sufficiently circulated, and I then sold the elephant to Van Amburgh’s Menagerie.

A substantial farmer friend of mine, Mr. Gideon Thompson, called at Iranistan during the elephant excitement and asked me to accompany him to the field to let him see “how the big animal worked.” I knew him to be a shrewd, sharp man and a good farmer, and I tried to excuse myself, as I did not wish to be too closely questioned. Indeed, for the same reason, I made it a point at all times to avoid being present when the plowing was going on. But the old farmer was a particular friend and he refused to take “no” for an answer; so I went with him “to see the elephant.”

Arriving at the field, Mr. Thompson said nothing, but stood with folded arms and sedately watched the elephant for at least fifteen minutes. Then he walked out on to the plowed ground, and found it so mellow that he sank nearly up to his knees; for it had already been plowed over and over many times. As usual, several spectators were present. Mr. Thompson walked up to where I was standing, and, looking me squarely in the eyes, he asked with much earnestness:

“What is your object, sir, in bringing that great Asiatic animal on to a New England farm?”

“To plow,” I replied very demurely.

“To plow!” said Thompson; “don’t talk to me about plowing! I have been out where he has plowed, and the ground is so soft I thought I should go through and come out in China. No, sir! You can’t humbug me. You have got some other object in bringing that elephant up here; now what is it?”

“Don’t you see for yourself that I am plowing with him?” I asked.

“Nonsense,” said Thompson “that would never pay; I have no doubt he eats more than he earns every day; you have some other purpose in view, I am sure you have.”

“Perhaps he does not eat so much as you think,” I replied; “and you see he draws nobly—in fact, I expect he will be just the animal by and by, to draw saw logs to mill, and do other heavy work.”

But Uncle Gid., was not to be put aside so easily so he asked very sharply:

“How much does he eat in a day?”

“Oh,” I replied carelessly, “not more than a quarter of a ton of hay and three or four bushels of oats.”

“Exactly,” said Thompson, his eyes glistening with delight; “that is just about what I expected. He can’t draw so much as two pair of my oxen can, and he costs more than a dozen pair.”

“You are mistaken, friend Thompson,” I replied with much gravity; “that elephant is a powerful animal; he can draw more than forty yoke of oxen, and he pays me well for bringing him here.”

“Forty yoke of oxen!” contemptuously replied the old farmer; “I don’t want to tell you I doubt your word, but I would just like to know what he can draw.”

“He can draw the attention of twenty millions of American citizens to Barnum’s Museum,” I replied.

“Oh, you can make him pay in that way, of course,” responded the old farmer.

“None but a greenhorn could ever have expected he would pay in any other way,” I replied.

The old man gave a hearty laugh, and said, “Well, I give it up. I have been a farmer thirty-five years, and I have only just discovered that an elephant is a very useful and profitable animal on a farm—provided the farmer also owns a museum.”

In 1851 I became a part owner of the steamship “North America.” Our intention in buying it was to run it to Ireland as a passenger and freight ship. The project was, however, abandoned, and Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt bought one half of the steamer, while the other half was owned by three persons, of whom I was one. The steamer was sent around Cape Horn to San Francisco, and was put into the Vanderbilt line.

After she had made several trips I called upon Mr. Vanderbilt, at his office, and introduced myself, as this was the first time we had met.

“Is it possible you are Barnum?” exclaimed the Commodore, in surprise, “why, I expected to see a monster, part lion, part elephant, and a mixture of rhinoceros and tiger! Is it possible,” he continued, “that you are the showman who has made so much noise in the world?”

I laughingly replied that I was, and added that if I too had been governed in my anticipation of his personal appearance by the fame he had achieved in his line, I should have expected to have been saluted by a steam whistle, and to have seen him dressed in a pea jacket, blowing off steam, and crying out “all aboard that’s going.”

“Instead of which,” replied Mr. Vanderbilt, “I suppose you have come to ask me, ‘to walk up to the Captain’s office and settle.’ ”

After this interchange of civilities, we talked about the success of the “North America” in having got safely around the Horn, and of the acceptable manner in which she was doing her duty on the Pacific side.

“We have received no statement of her earnings yet,” said the Commodore, “but if you want money, give your receipt to our treasurer, and take some.”

A few months subsequent to this, I sold out my share in the steamship to Mr. Daniel Drew. The day after closing with Mr. Drew, I discovered an error of several hundred dollars (a matter of interest on some portion of the purchase money, which had been overlooked). I called on Mr. Drew, and asked him to correct it, but could get no satisfaction. I then wrote him a threatening letter, but received no response. I was on the eve of suing him for the amount due me, when the news came that the steamship “North America” was lying at the bottom of the Pacific. It turned out that she was sunk several days before I sold out, and as the owners were mulcted in the sum of many thousands of dollars damages by their passengers, besides suffering a great loss in their steamship, I said no more to the millionnaire Drew about the few hundreds which he had withheld from the showman.

Some reference to the various enterprises and “side shows” connected with and disconnected from my Museum, is necessary to show how industriously I have catered for the public’s amusement, not only in America but abroad. When I was in Paris in 1844, in addition to the purchase of Robert Houdin’s ingenious automaton writer, and many other costly curiosities for the Museum, I ordered, at an expense of $3,000, a panoramic diorama of the obsequies of Napoleon. Every event of that grand pageant, from the embarkation of the body at St. Helena, to its entombment at the Hotel des Invalides, amid the most gorgeous parade ever witnessed in France, was wonderfully depicted. This exhibition, after having had its day at the American Museum, was sold, and extensively and profitably exhibited elsewhere. While I was in London, during the same year, I engaged a company of “Campanalogians, or Lancashire Bell Ringers,” then performing in Ireland, to make an American tour. They were really admirable performers, and by means of their numerous bells, of various sizes, they produced the most delightful music. They attracted much attention in various parts of the United States, in Canada, and in Cuba.

As a compensation to England for the loss of the Bell Ringers, I despatched an agent to America for a party of Indians, including squaws. He proceeded to Iowa, and returned to London with a company of sixteen. They were exhibited by Mr. Catlin on our joint account, and were finally left in his sole charge.

On my first return visit to America from Europe, I engaged Mr. Faber, an elderly and ingenious German, who had constructed an automaton speaker. It was of life-size, and when worked with keys similar to those of a piano, it really articulated words and sentences with surprising distinctness. My agent exhibited it for several months in Egyptian Hall, London, and also in the provinces. This was a marvellous piece of mechanism, though for some unaccountable reason it did not prove a success. The Duke of Wellington visited it several times, and at first he thought that the “voice” proceeded from the exhibitor, whom he assumed to be a skillful ventriloquist. He was asked to touch the keys with his own fingers, and after some instruction in the method of operating, he was able to make the machine speak, not only in English but also in German, with which language the Duke seemed familiar. Thereafter, he entered his name on the exhibitor’s autograph book, and certified that the “Automaton Speaker” was an extraordinary production of mechanical genius.

During my first visit to England I obtained, verbally, through a friend, the refusal of the house in which Shakespeare was born, designing to remove it in sections to my Museum in New York; but the project leaked out, British pride was touched, and several English gentlemen interfered and purchased the premises for a Shakespearian Association. Had they slept a few days longer, I should have made a rare speculation, for I was subsequently assured that the British people, rather than suffer that house to be removed to America, would have bought me off with twenty thousand pounds. I did not hesitate to engage, or attempt to secure anything, at any expense, to please my patrons in the United States, and I made an effort to transfer Madame Tussaud’s world-wide celebrated wax-work collection entire to New York. The papers were actually drawn up for this engagement, but the enterprise finally fell through.

The models of machinery exhibited in the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London, pleased me so well that I procured a duplicate; also duplicates of the “Dissolving Views,” the Chromatrope and Physioscope, including many American scenes painted expressly to my order, at an aggregate cost of $7,000. After they had been exhibited in my Museum, they were sold to itinerant showmen, and some of them were afterwards on exhibition in various parts of the United States.

In June 1850, I added the celebrated Chinese Collection to the attractions of the American Museum. I also engaged the Chinese Family, consisting of two men, two “small-footed” women and two children. My agent exhibited them in London during the World’s Fair. It may be stated here, that I subsequently sent to London the celebrated artist De Lamano to paint a panorama of the Crystal Palace, in which the World’s Fair was held, and Colonel John S. Dusolle, an able and accomplished editor, whom I sent with De Lamano, wrote an accompanying descriptive lecture. Like most panoramas, however, the exhibition proved a failure.

The giants whom I sent to America were not the greatest of my curiosities, though the dwarfs might have been the least. The “Scotch Boys” were interesting, not so much on account of their weight, as for the mysterious method by which one of them, though blindfolded, answered questions put by the other respecting objects presented by persons who attended the surprising exhibition. The mystery, which was merely the result of patient practice, consisted wholly in the manner in which the question was propounded; in fact, the question invariably carried its own answer; for instance:

“What is this?” meant gold; “Now what is this?” silver; “Say what is this?” copper; “Tell me what this is,” iron; “What is the shape?” long; “Now what shape?” round; “Say what shape,” square; “Please say what this is,” a watch; “Can you tell what is in this lady’s hand?” a purse; “Now please say what this is?” a key; “Come now, what is this?” money; “How much?” a penny; “Now how much?” sixpence; “Say how much,” a quarter of a dollar; “What color is this?” black; “Now what color is this?” red; “Say what color,” green; and so on, ad infinitum. To such perfection was this brought that it was almost impossible to present any object that could not be quite closely described by the blindfolded boy. This is the key to all exhibitions of what is called “second sight.”

In 1850, the celebrated Bateman children acted for several weeks at the American Museum and in June of that year I sent them to London with their father and Mr. Le Grand Smith, where they played in the St. James Theatre, and afterwards in the principal provincial theatres. The elder of these children, Miss Kate Bateman, subsequently attained the highest histrionic distinction in America and abroad, and reached the very head of her profession.

In October, 1852, having stipulated with Mr. George A. Wells and Mr. Bushnell that they should share in the enterprise and take the entire charge, I engaged Miss Catherine Hayes and Herr Begnis to give a series of sixty concerts in California, and the engagement was fulfilled to our entire satisfaction. Mr. Bushnell afterwards went to Australia with Miss Hayes and they were subsequently married. Both of them are dead.

Before setting out for California, Miss Catherine Hayes, her mother and sister spent several days at Iranistan and were present at the marriage of my eldest daughter, Caroline, to Mr. David W. Thompson. The wedding was to take place in the evening, and in the afternoon I was getting shaved in a barber-shop in Bridgeport, when Mr. Thompson drove up to the door in great haste and exclaimed:

“Mr. Barnum, Iranistan is in flames!”

I ran out half-shaved, with the lather on my face, jumped into his wagon and bade him drive home with all speed. I was greatly alarmed, for the house was full of visitors who had come from a distance to attend the wedding, and all the costly presents, dresses, refreshments, and everything prepared for a marriage celebration to which nearly a thousand guests had been invited, were already in my house. Mr. Thompson told me that he had seen the flames bursting from the roof and it seemed to me that there was little hope of saving the building.

My mind was distressed, not so much at the great pecuniary loss which the destruction of Iranistan would involve as at the possibility that some of my family or visitors would be killed or seriously injured in attempting to save something from the fire. Then I thought of the sore disappointment this calamity would cause to the young couple, as well as to those who were invited to the wedding. I saw that Mr. Thompson looked pale and anxious.

“Never mind!” said I; “we can’t help these things; the house will probably be burned; but if no one is killed or injured, you shall be married to-night, if we are obliged to perform the ceremony in the coach-house.”

On our way, we overtook a fire-company and I implored them to “hurry up their machine.” Arriving in sight of Iranistan we saw huge volumes of smoke rolling out from the roof and many men on the top of the house were passing buckets of water to pour



upon the fire. Fortunately, several men had been engaged during the day in repairing the roof, and their ladders were against the house. By these means and with the assistance of the men employed upon my grounds, water was passed very rapidly and the flames were soon subdued without serious damage. The inmates of Iranistan were thoroughly frightened; Catherine Hayes and other visitors packed their trunks and had them carried out on the lawn; and the house came as near destruction as it well could, and escape.

While Miss Hayes was in Bridgeport I induced her to give a concert for the benefit of the “Mountain Grove Cemetery,” and the large proceeds were devoted to the erection of the beautiful stone tower and gateway at the entrance of that charming ground. The land for this cemetery, about eighty acres, had been bought by me, years before, from several farmers. I had often shot over the ground while hunting a year or two before, and had then seen its admirable capabilities for the purpose to which it was eventually devoted. After deeds for the property were secured, it was offered for a cemetery, and at a meeting of citizens several lots were subscribed for, enough, indeed, to cover the amount of the purchase money. Thus was begun the “Mountain Grove Cemetery,” which is now beautifully laid out and adorned with many tasteful and costly monuments. Among these are my own substantial granite monument, the family monuments of Harral, Bishop, Hubbell, Lyon, Wood, Loomis, Wordin, Hyde, and others, and General Tom Thumb has erected a tall marble shaft which is surmounted by a life-size statue of himself. There is no more charming burial ground in the whole country; yet when the project was suggested, many persons preferred an intermural cemetery to this rural resting-place for their departed friends; though now, all concur in considering it fortunate that this adjunct was secured to Bridgeport before the land could be permanently devoted to other purposes.

Some time afterwards, when Mr. Dion Boucicault visited me at Bridgeport, at my solicitation he gave a lecture for the benefit of this cemetery. I may add that on several occasions I have secured the services of General Tom Thumb and others for this and equally worthy objects in Bridgeport. When the General first returned with me from England, he gave exhibitions for the benefit of the Bridgeport Charitable Society. September 28, 1867, I induced him and his wife, with Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren to give their entertainment for the benefit of the Bridgeport Library, thus adding $475 to the funds of that institution; and on one occasion I lectured to a full house in the Methodist Church, and the entire receipts were given to the library, of which I was already a life member, on account of previous subscriptions and contributions.




IN the summer, I think, of 1853, I saw it announced in the newspapers that Mr. Alfred Bunn, the great ex-manager of Drury Lane Theatre, in London, had arrived in Boston. Of course, I knew Mr. Bunn by reputation, not only from his managerial career, but from the fact that he made the first engagement with Jenny Lind to appear in London. This engagement, however, Mr. Lumley, of Her Majesty’s Theatre, induced her to break, he standing a lawsuit with Mr. Bunn, and paying heavy damages. I had never met Mr. Bunn, but he took it for granted that I had seen him, for one day after his arrival in this country, a burly Englishman abruptly stepped into my private office in the Museum, and assuming a theatrical attitude, addressed me:

“Barnum, do you remember me?”

I was confident I had never seen the man before, but it struck me at once that no Englishman I ever heard of would be likely to exhibit more presumption or assumption than the ex-manager of Drury Lane, and I jumped at the conclusion:

“Is not this Mr. Bunn?”

“Ah! Ah! my boy!” he exclaimed, slapping me familiarly on the back, “I thought you would remember me. Well, Barnum, how have you been since I last saw you?”

I replied in a manner that would humor his impression that we were old acquaintances, and during his two hours’ visit we had much gossip about men and things in London. He called upon me several times, and it probably never entered into his mind that I could possibly have been in London two or three years without having made the personal acquaintance of so great a lion as Alfred Bunn.

I met Mr. Bunn again in 1858, in London, at a dinner party of a mutual friend, Mr. Levy, proprietor of the London Daily Telegraph. Of course, Bunn and I were great chums and very old and intimate acquaintances. At the same dinner, I met several literary and dramatic gentlemen.

In 1851, 1852, and 1853, I spent much of my time at my beautiful home in Bridgeport, going very frequently to New York, to attend to matters in the Museum, but remaining in the city only a day or two at a time. I resigned the office of President of the Fairfield County Agricultural Society in 1853, but the members accepted my resignation, only on condition that it should not go into effect until after the fair of 1854. During my administration, the society held six fairs and cattle-shows,—four in Bridgeport and two in Stamford,—and the interest in these gatherings increased from year to year.

Pickpockets are always present at these country fairs, and every year there were loud complaints of the depredations of these operators. In 1853 a man was caught in the act of taking a pocket-book from a country farmer, nor was this farmer the only one who had suffered in the same way. The scamp was arrested, and proved to be a celebrated English pickpocket. As the Fair would close the next day, and as most persons had already visited it, we expected our receipts would be light.

Early in the morning the detected party was legally examined, plead guilty, and was bound over for trial. I obtained consent from the sheriff that the culprit should be put in the Fair room for the purpose of giving those who had been robbed an opportunity to identify him. For this purpose he was handcuffed, and placed in a conspicuous position, where of course he was “the observed of all observers.” I then issued handbills, stating that as it was the last day of the Fair, the managers were happy to announce that they had secured extra attractions for the occasion, and would accordingly exhibit, safely handcuffed, and without extra charge, a live pickpocket, who had been caught in the act of robbing an honest farmer the day previous. Crowds of people rushed in “to see the show.” Some good mothers brought their children ten miles for that purpose, and our treasury was materially benefited by the operation.

At the close of my presidency in 1854, I was requested to deliver the opening speech at our County Fair, which was held at Stamford. As I was not able to give agricultural advice, I delivered a portion of my lecture on the “Philosophy of Humbug.” The next morning, as I was being shaved in the village barber’s shop, which was at the time crowded with customers, the ticket-seller to the Fair came in.

“What kind of a house did you have last night?” asked one of the gentlemen in waiting.

“Oh, first-rate, of course. Barnum always draws a crowd,” was the reply of the ticket-seller, to whom I was not known.

Most of the gentlemen present, however, knew me, and they found much difficulty in restraining their laughter.

“Did Barnum make a good speech?” I asked.

“I did not hear it. I was out in the ticket-office. I guess it was pretty good, for I never heard so much laughing as there was all through his speech. But it makes no difference whether it was good or not,” continued the ticket-seller, “the people will go to see Barnum.”

“Barnum must be a curious chap,” I remarked.

“Well, I guess he is up to all the dodges.”

“Do you know him?” I asked.

“Not personally,” he replied; “but I always get into the Museum for nothing. I know the doorkeeper, and he slips me in free.”

“Barnum would not like that, probably, if he knew it,” I remarked.

“But it happens he don’t know it,” replied the ticket-seller, in great glee.

“Barnum was on the cars the other day, on his way to Bridgeport,” said I, “and I heard one of the passengers blowing him up terribly as a humbug. He was addressing Barnum at the time, but did not know him. Barnum joined in lustily, and indorsed everything the man said. When the passenger learned whom he had been addressing, I should think he must have felt rather flat.”

“I should think so, too,” said the ticket-seller.

This was too much, and we all indulged in a burst of laughter; still the ticket-seller suspected nothing. After I had left the shop, the barber told him who I was. I called into the ticket-office on business several times during the day, but the poor ticket-seller kept his face turned from me, and appeared so chap-fallen that I did not pretend to recognize him as the hero of the joke in the barber’s shop.

This incident reminds me of numerous similar ones which have occurred at various times. On one occasion—it was in 1847—I was on board the steamboat from New York to Bridgeport. As we approached the harbor of the latter city, a stranger desired me to point out “Barnum’s house” from the upper deck. I did so, whereupon a bystander remarked, “I know all about that house, for I was engaged in painting there for several months while Barnum was in Europe.” He then proceeded to say that it was the meanest and most ill-contrived house he ever saw. “It will cost old Barnum a mint of money, and not be worth two cents after it is finished,” he added.

“I suppose old Barnum don’t pay very punctually,” I remarked.

“Oh, yes, he pays punctually every Saturday night—there’s no trouble about that; he has made half a million by exhibiting a little boy whom he took from Bridgeport, and whom we never considered any great shakes till Barnum took him and trained him.”

Soon afterwards one of the passengers told him who I was, whereupon he secreted himself, and was not seen again while I remained on the boat.

On another occasion, I went to Boston by the Fall River route. Arriving before sunrise, I found but one carriage at the depot. I immediately engaged it, and giving the driver the check for my baggage, told him to take me directly to the Revere House, as I was in great haste, and enjoined him to take in no other passengers, and I would pay his demands. He promised compliance with my wishes, but soon afterwards appeared with a gentleman, two ladies, and several children, whom he crowded into the carriage with me, and placing their trunks on the baggage rack, started off. I thought there was no use in grumbling, and consoled myself with the reflection that the Revere House was not far away. He drove up one street and down another, for what seemed to me a very long time, but I was wedged in so closely that I could not see what route he was taking.

After half an hour’s drive he halted, and I found we were at the Lowell Railway depot. Here my fellow-passengers alighted, and after a long delay the driver delivered their baggage, received his fare, and was about closing the carriage door preparatory to starting again. I was so thoroughly vexed at the shameful manner in which he had treated me, that I remarked;

“Perhaps you had better wait till the Lowell train arrives; you may possibly get another load of passengers. Of course my convenience is of no consequence. I suppose if you land me at the Revere House any time this week, it will be as much as I have a right to expect.”

“I beg your pardon,” he replied, “but that was Barnum and his family. He was very anxious to get here in time for the first train, so I stuck him for $2, and now I’ll carry you to the Revere House free.”

“What Barnum is it?” I asked.

“The Museum and Jenny Lind man,” he replied.

The compliment and the shave both having been intended for me, I was of course mollified, and replied, “You are mistaken, my friend, I am Barnum.”

“Coachee” was thunderstruck, and offered all sorts of apologies.

“A friend at the other depot told me that I had Mr. Barnum on board,” said he, “and I really supposed he meant the other man. When I come to notice you, I perceive my mistake, but I hope you will forgive me. I have carried you frequently before, and hope you will give me your custom while you are in Boston. I never will make such a mistake again.” I had to be satisfied.

Late in August, 1851, I was visited at Bridgeport by a gentleman who was interested in an English invention patented in this country, and known as Phillips’ Fire Annihilator. He showed me a number of certificates from men of eminence and trustworthiness in England, setting forth the merits of the invention in the highest terms. The principal value of the machine seemed to consist in its power to extinguish flame, and thus prevent the spread of fire when it once broke out. Besides, the steam or vapor generated in the Annihilator was not prejudicial to human life. Now, as water has no effect whatever upon flame, it was obvious that the Annihilator would at the least prove a great assistant in extinguishing conflagrations, and that, especially in the incipient stage of a fire, it would extinguish it altogether, without damage to goods or other property, as is usually the case with water.

Hon. Elisha Whittlesey, First Comptroller of the United States Treasury at Washington, was interested in the American patent, and the gentleman that called upon me desired that I should also take an interest in it. I had no disposition to engage in any speculation; but, believing this might prove a beneficent invention, and be the means of saving a vast amount of human life as well as property, I visited Washington City for the purpose of conferring with Mr. Whittlesey, Hon. J. W. Allen and other parties interested.

I was there shown numerous certificates of fires having been extinguished by the machine in Great Britain, and property to the amount of many thousands of pounds saved. I also saw that Lord Brougham had proposed in Parliament that every Government vessel should be compelled to have the Fire Annihilator on board. Mr. Whittlesey expressed his belief in writing, that “if there is any reliance to be placed on human testimony, it is one of the greatest discoveries of this most extraordinary age.” I fully agreed with him, and have never yet seen occasion to change that opinion.

I agreed to join in the enterprise. Mr. Whittlesey was elected President, and I was appointed Secretary and General Agent of the Company. I opened the office of the Company in New York, and sold and engaged machines and territory in a few months to the amount of $180,000. I refused to receive more than a small portion of the purchase money until a public experiment had tested the powers of the machine, and I voluntarily delivered to every purchaser an agreement, signed by myself, in the following words:

“If the public test and demonstration are not perfectly successful, I will at any time when demanded, within ten days after the public trial, refund and pay back every shilling that has been paid into this office for machines or territory for the sale of the patent.”

The public trial came off in Hamilton Square on the 18th December, 1851. It was an exceedingly cold and inclement day. Mr. Phillips, who conducted the experiment, was interfered with and knocked down by some rowdies who were opposed to the invention, and the building was ignited and consumed after he had extinguished the previous fire. Subsequently to this unexpected and unjust opposition, I refunded every cent which I had received, sometimes against the wishes of those who had purchased, for they were willing to wait the result of further experiments; but I was utterly disgusted with the course of a large portion of the public upon a subject in which they were much more deeply interested than I was.

The arrangements of the Annihilator Company with Mr. Phillips, the inventor, predicated all payments which he was to receive on bona fide sales which we should actually make; therefore he really received nothing, and the entire losses of the American Company, which were merely for advertising and the expense of trying the experiments, hire of an office, etc., amounted to nearly $30,000, of which my portion was less than $10,000.

In the spring of 1851 the Connecticut Legislature chartered the Pequonnock Bank of Bridgeport, with a capital of two hundred thousand dollars. I had no interest whatever in the charter, and did not even know that an application was to be made for it. More banking capital was needed in Bridgeport in consequence of the great increase of trade and manufactures in that growing and prosperous city, and this fact appearing in evidence, the charter was granted as a public benefit. The stock-books were opened under the direction of State Commissioners, according to the laws of the Commonwealth, and nearly double the amount of capital was subscribed on the first day. The stock was distributed by the Commissioners among several hundred applicants. Circumstances unexpectedly occurred which induced me to accept the presidency of the bank, in compliance with the unanimous vote of its directors. Feeling that I could not, from my many avocations, devote the requisite personal attention to the duties of the office, C. B. Hubbell, Esq., then Mayor of Bridgeport, was at my request appointed Vice-President of the institution.

In the fall of 1852 a proposition was made by certain parties to commence the publication of an illustrated weekly newspaper in the City of New York. The field seemed to be open for such an enterprise, and I invested twenty thousand dollars in the concern, as special partner, in connection with two other gentlemen, who each contributed twenty thousand dollars, as general partners. Within a month after the publication of the first number of the Illustrated News, which was issued on the first day of January, 1853, our weekly circulation had reached seventy thousand. Numerous and almost insurmountable difficulties, for novices in the business, continued however to arise, and my partners becoming weary and disheartened with constant over-exertion, were anxious to wind up the enterprise at the end of the first year. The good-will and the engravings were sold to Gleasons Pictorial, in Boston, and the concern was closed without loss.

In 1851, when the idea of opening a World’s Fair in New York was first broached, I was waited upon by Mr. Riddell and the other originators of the scheme, and invited to join in getting it up. I declined, giving as a reason that such a project was, in my opinion, premature. I felt that it was following quite too closely upon its London prototype, and assured the projectors that I could see in it nothing but certain loss. The plan, however, was carried out, and a charter obtained from the New York Legislature. The building was erected on a plot of ground upon Reservoir Square, leased to the association, by the City of New York, for one dollar per annum. The location, being four miles distant from the City Hall, was enough of itself to kill the enterprise. The stock was readily taken up, however, and the Crystal Palace opened to the public in July, 1853. Many thousands of strangers were brought to New York, and however disastrous the enterprise may have proved to the stockholders, it is evident that the general prosperity of the city has been promoted far beyond the entire cost of the whole speculation.

In February, 1854, numerous stockholders applied to me to accept the Presidency of the Crystal Palace, or, as it was termed, “The Association for the Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations.” I utterly declined listening to such a project, as I felt confident that the novelty had passed away, and that it would be difficult to revive public interest in the affair.

Shortly afterwards, however, I was waited upon by numerous influential gentlemen, and strongly urged to allow my name to be used. I repeatedly objected to this, and at last consented, much against my own judgment. Having been elected one of the directors, I was by that body chosen President. I accepted the office conditionally, reserving the right to decline if I thought, upon investigation, that there was no vitality left in the institution. Upon examining the accounts said to exist against the Association, many were pronounced indefensible by those who I supposed knew the facts in the case, while various debts existing against the concern were not exhibited when called for, and I knew nothing of their existence until after I accepted the office of President. I finally accepted it, only because no suitable person could be found who was willing to devote his entire time and services to the enterprise, and because I was frequently urged by directors and stockholders to take hold of it for the benefit of the city at large, inasmuch as it was well settled that the Palace would be permanently closed early in April, 1854, if I did not take the helm.

These considerations moved me, and I entered upon my duties with all the vigor which I could command. To save it from bankruptcy, I advanced large sums of money for the payment of debts, and tried by every legitimate means to create an excitement and bring it into life. By extraneous efforts, such as the Re-inauguration, the Monster Concerts of Jullien, the Celebration of Independence, etc., it was temporarily galvanized, and gave several life-like kicks, generally without material results, except prostrating those who handled it too familiarly; but it was a corpse long before I touched it, and I found, after a thorough trial, that my first impression was correct, and that so far as my ability was concerned, “the dead could not be raised.” I therefore resigned the presidency and the concern soon went into liquidation.

In 1854, my esteemed friend, Reverend Moses Ballou, wrote, and Redfield, of New York, published a volume entitled “The Divine Character Vindicated” in which he reviewed some of the principal features of a work by the Rev. E. Beecher, brother of Henry Ward Beecher, “The Conflict of Ages; or, the Great Debate on the Moral Relations of God and Man.” The dedication in Rev. Mr. Ballou s volume was as follows:

To P. T. Barnum, Esq., Iranistan.

My Dear B.:—I am more deeply indebted to you for personal favors than to any other living man, and I feel that it is but a poor acknowledgment to beg your acceptance of this volume. Still, I know that you will value it somewhat, not only for the sake of our personal friendship, but because it is an advocate of that interpretation of Christianity of which you have ever been a most generous and devoted patron. With renewed assurances of my best regards,

I am, yours, always,

M. B.

Bridgeport, January 22, 1854.

The following trifling incident which occurred at Iranistan in the winter of 1852, has been called to my mind by a lady friend from Philadelphia, who was visiting us at the time. The poem was sent to me soon after the occurrence, but was lost and the subject forgotten until my Philadelphia friend recently sent it to me with the wish that I should insert it in the present volume:


An Incident in the life of an American Citizen.

The poor man’s garden lifeless lay
Beneath a fall of snow;
But Art in costly greenhouses,
Keeps Summer in full glow.
And Taste paid gold for bright bouquets,
The parlor vase that drest,
That scented Fashion’s gay boudoir,
Or bloomed on Beauty’s breast.
A rich man sat beside the fire,
Within his sculptured halls;
Brave heart, clear head, and busy hand,
Had reared those stately walls.
He to his gardener spake, and said
In tone of quiet glee—
“I want a hundred fine bouquets—
Canst make them, John, for me?”
John’s eyes became exceeding round,
This question when he heard;
He gazed upon his master,
And he answered not a word.
“Well, John,” the rich man laughing said,
“If these too many be,
What sayest to half the number, man?
Canst fifty make for me?”
Now John prized every flower, as ’twere
A daughter or a son;
And thought, like Regan—“what the need
Of fifty, or of one?”
But keeping back the thought, he said,
“I think, sir, that I might;
But it would leave my lady’s flowers
In very ragged plight.”
“Well, John, thy vegetable pets
Must needs respected be;
We’ll halve the number once again—
Make twenty-five for me.
And hark ye, John, when they are made
Come up and let me know;
And I’ll give thee a list of those
To whom the flowers must go.”
The twenty-five bouquets were made,
And round the village sent;
And to whom thinkest thou, my friend,
These floral jewels went?
Not to the beautiful and proud—
Not to the rich and gay—
Who, Dives-like, at Luxury’s feast
Are seated every day.
An aged Pastor, on his desk
Saw those fair preachers stand;
A Widow wept upon the gift,
And blessed the giver’s hand.
Where Poverty bent o’er her task,
They cheered the lonely room;
And round the bed where Sickness lay,
They breathed Health’s fresh perfume.
Oh! kindly heart and open hand—
Those flowers in dust are trod,
But they bloom to weave a wreath for thee,
In the Paradise of God.
Sweet is the Minstrel’s task, whose song
Of deeds like these may tell;
And long may he have power to give,
Who wields that power so well!

Mrs. Anna Bache.





I NOW come to a series of events which, all things considered, constitute one of the most remarkable experiences of my life—an experience which brought me much pain and many trials; which humbled my pride and threatened me with hopeless financial ruin; and yet, nevertheless, put new blood in my veins, fresh vigor in my action, warding off all temptation to rust in the repose which affluence induces, and developed, I trust, new and better elements of manliness in my character. This trial carried me through a severe and costly discipline, and now that I have passed through it and have triumphed over it, I can thank God for sending it upon me, though I feel no special obligations to the human instruments employed in the severe chastening.

When the blow fell upon me, I thought that I could never recover; the event has shown, however, that I have gained both in character and fortune, and what threatened, for years, to be my ruin, has proved one of the most fortunate happenings of my career. The “Bull Run” of my life’s battle was a crushing defeat, which, unknown to me at the time, only presaged the victories which were to follow.

In my general plan of presenting the facts and incidents of my life in chronological order, I shall necessarily introduce in the history of the next seven years, an account of my entanglement in the “Jerome Clock Company,”—how I was drawn into it, how I got out of it, and what it did to me and for me. The great notoriety given to my connection with this concern—the fact that the journals throughout the country made it the subject of news, gossip, sympathy, abuse, and advice to and about me, my friends, my persecutors, and the public generally—seems to demand that the story should be briefly but plainly told. The event itself has passed away and with it the passions and excitements that were born of it; and I certainly have no desire now to deal in personalities or to go into the question of the motives which influenced those who were interested, any farther than may be strictly essential to a fair and candid statement of the case.

It is vital to the narrative that I should give some account of the new city, East Bridgeport, and my interests therein, which led directly to my subsequent complications with the Jerome Clock Company.

In 1851, I purchased from Mr. William H. Noble, of Bridgeport, the undivided half of his late father’s homestead, consisting of fifty acres of land; lying on the east side of the river, opposite the City of Bridgeport. We intended this as the nucleus of a new city, which we concluded could soon be built up, in consequence of many natural advantages that it possesses.

Before giving publicity to our plans, however, we purchased one hundred and seventy-four acres contiguous to that which we already owned, and laid out the entire property in regular streets, and lined them with trees, reserving a beautiful grove of six or eight acres, which we inclosed, and converted into a public park. We then commenced selling alternate lots, at the same price which the land cost us by the acre. Our sales were always made on the condition that a suitable dwelling-house, store, or manufactory should be erected upon the land, within one year from the date of purchase; that every building should be placed at a certain distance from the street, in a style of architecture approved by us; that the grounds should be enclosed with acceptable fences, and kept clean and neat, with other conditions which would render the locality a desirable one for respectable residents, and operate for the mutual benefit of all persons who should become settlers in the new city.

This entire property consists of a beautiful plateau of ground, lying within less than half a mile of the centre of Bridgeport city. Considering the superiority of the situation, it is a wonder that the City of Bridgeport was not originally founded upon that side of the river. The late Dr. Timothy Dwight, for a long time President of Yale College, in his “Travels in New England in 1815,” says of the locality:

“There is not in the State a prettier village than the borough of Bridgeport. In the year 1783, there were scarcely half a dozen houses in this place. It now contains probably more than one hundred, built on both sides of Pughquonnuck (Pequonnock) river, a beautiful mill-stream, forming at its mouth the harbor of Bridgeport. The situation of this village is very handsome, particularly on the eastern side of the river. A more cheerful and elegant piece of ground can scarcely be imagined than the point which stretches between the Pughquonnuck and the old mill-brook; and the prospects presented by the harbors at the mouths of these streams, the Sound, and the surrounding country, are, in a fine season, gay and brilliant, perhaps without a parallel.”

This “cheerful and elegant piece of ground,” as Dr. Dwight so truly describes it, had only been kept from market by the want of means of access. A new foot-bridge was built, connecting this place with the City of Bridgeport, and a public toll-bridge which belonged to us was thrown open to the public free. We also obtained from the State Legislature a charter for erecting a toll-bridge between the two bridges already existing, and under that charter we put up a fine covered draw-bridge at a cost of $16,000 which also we made free to the public for several years. We built and leased to a union company of young coach makers a large and elegant coach manufactory, which was one of the first buildings erected there, and which went into operation on the first of January, 1852, and was the beginning of the extensive manufactories which were subsequently built in East Bridgeport.

Besides the inducement which we held out to purchasers to obtain their lots at a merely nominal price, we advanced one half, two-thirds, and frequently all the funds necessary to erect their buildings, permitting them to repay us in sums as small as five dollars, at their own convenience. This arrangement enabled many persons to secure and ultimately pay for homes which they could not otherwise have obtained. We looked for our profits solely to the rise in the value of the reserved lots, which we were confident must ensue. Of course, these extraordinary inducements led many persons to build in the new city, and it began to develop and increase with a rapidity rarely witnessed in this section of the country. Indeed, our speculation, which might be termed a profitable philanthropy, soon promised to be so remunerative, that I offered Mr. Noble for his interest in the estate, $60,000 more than the prime cost, which offer he declined.

It will thus be seen that, in 1851, my pet scheme was to build up a city in East Bridgeport. I had made a large fortune and was anxious to be released from the harassing cares of active business. But I could not be idle, and if I could be instrumental in giving value to land comparatively worthless; if I could by the judicious investment of a portion of my capital open the way for new industries and new homes, I should be of service to my fellow men and find grateful employment for my energies and time. I saw that in case of success there was profit in my project, and I was enough like mankind in general to look upon the enlargement of my means as a consummation devoutly and legitimately to be wished.

Yet, I can truly say that mere money-making was a secondary consideration in my scheme. I wanted to build a city on the beautiful plateau across the river; in the expressive phrase of the day, I “had East Bridgeport on the brain.” Whoever approached me with a project which looked to the advancement of my new city, touched my weak side and found me an eager listener. The serpent that beguiled me was any plausible proposition that promised prosperity to East Bridgeport, and it was in this way that the coming city connected me with that source of so many annoyances and woes, the Jerome Clock Company.

There was a small clock manufactory in the town of Litchfield, Connecticut, in which I became a stockholder to the amount of six or seven thousand dollars, and my duties as a director in the company called me occasionally to Litchfield and made me somewhat acquainted with the clock business. Thinking of plans to forward my pet East Bridgeport enterprise, it occurred to me that if the Litchfield clock concern could be transferred to my prospective new city, it would necessarily bring many families, thus increasing the growth of the place and the value of the property. Negotiations were at once commenced and the desired transfer of the business was the result. A new stock company was formed under the name of the “Terry & Barnum Manufacturing Company,” and in 1852 a factory was built in East Bridgeport.

In 1855, I received a suggestion from a citizen of New Haven, that the Jerome Clock Company, then reputed to be a wealthy concern, should be removed to East Bridgeport, and shortly afterwards I was visited at Iranistan by Mr. Chauncey Jerome, the President of that company. The result of this visit was a proposition from the agent of the company, who also held power of attorney for the president, that I should lend my name as security for $110,000 in aid of the Jerome Clock Company, and the proffered compensation was the transfer of this great manufacturing concern, with its seven hundred to one thousand operatives, to my beloved East Bridgeport. It was just the bait for the fish; I was all attention; yet I must do my judgment the justice to say that I called for proofs, strong and ample, that the great company deserved its reputation as a substantial enterprise that might safely be trusted.

Accordingly, I was shown an official report of the directors of the company, exhibiting a capital of $400,000, and a surplus of $187,000, in all, $587,000. The need for $110,000 more, was on account of a dull season, and the market glutted with the goods, and immediate money demands which must be met. I was also impressed with the pathetic tale that the company was exceedingly loth to dismiss any of the operatives, who would suffer greatly if their only dependence for their daily food was taken away.

The official statement seemed satisfactory, and I cordially sympathized with the philanthropic purpose of keeping the workmen employed, even in the dull season. The company was reputed to be rich; the President, Mr. Chauncey Jerome, had built a church in New Haven, at a cost of $40,000, and proposed to present it to a congregation; he had given a clock to a church in Bridgeport, and these things showed that he, at least, thought he was wealthy. The Jerome clocks were for sale all over the world, even in China, where the Celestials were said to take out the “movements,” and use the cases for little temples for their idols, thus proving that faith was possible without “works.” So wealthy and so widely-known a company would surely be a grand acquisition to my city.

Further testimony came in the form of a letter from the cashier of one of the New Haven banks, expressing the highest confidence in the financial strength of the concern, and much satisfaction that I contemplated giving temporary aid which would keep so many workmen and their families from suffering, and perhaps starvation. I had not, at the time, the slightest suspicion that my voluntary correspondent had any interest in the transfer of the Jerome Company from New Haven to East Bridgeport, though I was subsequently informed that the bank, of which my correspondent was the cashier, was almost the largest, if not the largest, creditor of the clock company.

Under all the circumstances, and influenced by the rose-colored representations made to me, not less than by my mania to push the growth of my new city, I finally accepted the proposition and consented to an agreement that I would lend the clock company my notes for a sum not to exceed $50,000, and accept drafts to an amount not to exceed $60,000. It was thoroughly understood that I was in no case to be responsible for one cent in excess of $110,000. I also received the written guaranty of Chauncey Jerome that in no event should I lose by the loan, as he would become personally responsible for the repayment. I was willing that my notes, when taken up, should be renewed, I cared not how often, provided the stipulated maximum of $110,000 should never be exceeded. I was weak enough, however, under the representation that it was impossible to say exactly when it would be necessary to use the notes, to put my name to several notes for $3,000, $5,000, and $10,000, leaving the date of payment blank; but it was agreed that the blanks should be filled to make the notes payable in five, ten, or even sixty days from date, according to the exigencies of the case, and I was careful to keep a memorandum of the several amounts of the notes.

On the other side it was agreed that the Jerome Company should exchange its stock with the Terry & Barnum stockholders and thus absorb that company and unite the entire business in East Bridgeport. It was scarcely a month before the secretary wrote me that the company would soon be in condition to “snap its fingers at the banks.”

Nevertheless, three months after the consolidation of the companies, a reference to my memoranda showed that I had already become responsible for the stipulated sum of $110,000. I was then called upon in New York by the agent who wanted five notes of $5,000 each and I declined to furnish them, unless I should receive in return an equal amount in my own cancelled notes, since he assured me they were cancelling these “every week.” The cancelled notes were brought to me next day and I renewed them. This I did frequently, always receiving cancelled notes, till finally my confidence in the company became so established that I did not ask to see the notes that had been taken up, but furnished new accommodation paper as it was called for.

By and by I heard that the banks began to hesitate about discounting my paper, and knowing that I was good for $110,000 several times over, I wondered what was the matter, till the discovery came at last that my notes had not been taken up as was represented, and that some of the blank date notes had been made payable in twelve, eighteen, and twenty-four months. Further investigation revealed the frightful fact that I had endorsed for the clock company to the extent of more than half a million dollars, and most of the notes had been exchanged for old Jerome Company notes due to the banks and other creditors. My agent who made these startling discoveries came back to me with the refreshing intelligence that I was a ruined man!

Not quite; I had the mountain of Jerome debts on my back, but I found means to pay every claim against me at my bank, all my store and shop debts, notes to the amount of $40,000, which banks in my neighborhood, relying upon my personal integrity, had discounted for the Clock Company, and then I—failed!

What a dupe had I been! Here was a great company pretending to be worth $587,000, asking temporary assistance to the amount of $110,000, coming down with a crash, so soon as my helping hand was removed, and sweeping me down with it. It failed; and even after absorbing my fortune, it paid but from twelve to fifteen per cent of its obligations, while, to cap the climax, it never removed to East Bridgeport at all, notwithstanding this was the only condition which ever prompted me to advance one dollar to the rotten concern!

If at any time my vanity had been chilled by the fear that after my retirement from the Jenny Lind enterprise the world would forget me, this affair speedily reassured me; I had notice enough to satisfy the most inordinate craving for notoriety. All over the country, and even across the ocean, “Barnum and the Jerome Clock Bubble” was the great newspaper theme. I was taken to pieces, analyzed, put together again, kicked, “pitched into,” tumbled about, preached to, preached about, and made to serve every purpose to which a sensation-loving world could put me. Well! I was now in training, in a new school, and was learning new and strange lessons.

Yet, these new lessons conveyed the old, old story. There were those who had fawned upon me in my prosperity, who now jeered at my adversity; people whom I had specially favored, made special efforts to show their ingratitude; papers which, when I had the means to make it an object for them to be on good terms with me, overloaded me with adulation, now attempted to overwhelm me with abuse; and then the immense amount of moralizing over the “instability of human fortunes,” and especially the retributive justice that is sure to follow “ill-gotten gains,” which my censors assumed to be the sum and substance of my honorably acquired and industriously worked for property. I have no doubt that much of this kind of twaddle was believed by the twaddlers to be sincere; and thus my case was actual capital to certain preachers and religious editors who were in want of fresh illustrations wherewith to point their morals.

As for myself, I was in the depths, but I did not despond. I was confident that with energetic purpose and divine assistance I should, if my health and life were spared, get on my feet again; and events have since fully justified and verified the expectation and the effort.




HAPPILY, there is always more wheat than there is chaff. While my enemies and a few envious persons and misguided moralists were abusing and traducing me, my very misfortunes revealed to me hosts of hitherto unknown friends who tendered to me something more than mere sympathy. Funds were offered to me in unbounded quantity for the support of my family and to re-establish me in business. I declined these tenders because, on principle, I never accepted a money favor, unless I except the single receipt of a small sum which came to me by mail at this time and anonymously so that I could not return it. Even this small sum I at once devoted to charity towards one who needed the money far more than I did.

The generosity of my friends urged me to accept “benefits” by the score, the returns of which would have made me quite independent. There was a proposition among leading citizens in New York to give a series of benefits which I felt obliged to decline though the movement in my favor deeply touched me. To show the class of men who sympathized with me in my misfortunes and also the ground which I took in the matter I venture to copy the following correspondence which appeared in the New York papers of the day:

New York, June 2, 1856.

Mr. P. T. Barnum:

Dear Sir,—The financial ruin of a man of acknowledged energy and enterprise is a public calamity. The sudden blow, therefore, that has swept away, from a man like yourself, the accumulated wealth of years, justifies we think, the public sympathy. The better to manifest our sincere respect for your liberal example in prosperity, as well as exhibit our honest admiration of your fortitude under overwhelming reverses, we propose to give that sympathy a tangible expression by soliciting your acceptance of a series of benefits for your family, the result of which may possibly secure for your wife and children a future home, or at least rescue them from the more immediate consequences of your misfortune.

Freeman Hunt, E. K. Collins, Isaac Y. Fowler, James Phalen, Cornelius Vanderbilt, F. B. Cuting, James W. Gerard, Simeon Draper, Thomas McElrath, Park Godwin, R. F. Carman, Gen. C. W. Sanford, Philo Hurd, President H. R. R.; Wm. Ellsworth, President Brooklyn Ins. Co.; George S. Doughty, President Excelsior Ins. Co.; Chas. T. Cromwell, Robert Stuyvesant, E. L. Livingston, R. Busteed, Wm. P. Fettridge, E. N. Haughwout, Geo. F. Nesbitt, Osborne, Boardman & Townsend, Charles H. Delavan, I. & C. Berrien, Fisher & Bird, Solomon & Hart, B. Young, M. D., Treadwell, Acker & Co., St. Nicholas Hotel, John Wheeler, Union Square Hotel, S. Leland & Co., Metropolitan Hotel, Albert Clark, Brevoort House, H. D. Clapp, Everett House, John Taylor, International Hotel, Sydney Hopman, Smithsonian Hotel, Messrs. Delmonico, Delmonico’s, Geo. W. Sherman, Florence’s Hotel, Kingsley & Ainslee, Howard Hotel, Libby & Whitney, Lovejoy’s Hotel, Howard & Brown, Tammany Hall, Jonas Bartlett, Washington Hotel, Patten & Lynde, Pacific Hotel, J. Johnson, Johnson’s Hotel, and over 1,000 others.

To this gratifying communication I replied as follows:

Long Island, Tuesday, June 3, 1856.

Gentlemen,—I can hardly find words to express my gratitude for your very kind proposition. The popular sympathy is to me far more precious than gold, and that sympathy seems in my case to extend from my immediate neighbors, in Bridgeport, to all parts of our Union.

Proffers of pecuniary assistance have reached me from every quarter, not only from friends, but from entire strangers. Mr. Wm. E. Burton, Miss Laura Keene and Mr. Wm. Niblo have in the kindest manner tendered me the receipts of their theatres for one evening. Mr. Gough volunteered the proceeds of one of his attractive lectures; Mr. James Phalon generously offered me the free use of the Academy of Music; many professional ladies and gentlemen have urged me to accept their gratuitous services. I have, on principle, respectfully declined them all, as I beg, with the most grateful acknowledgments (at least for the present), to decline yours—not because a benefit, in itself, is an objectionable thing, but because I have ever made it a point to ask nothing of the public on personal grounds, and should prefer, while I can possibly avoid that contingency, to accept nothing from it without the honest conviction that I had individually given it in return a full equivalent.

While favored with health, I feel competent to earn an honest livelihood for myself and family. More than this I shall certainly never attempt with such a load of debt suspended in terrorem over me. While I earnestly, thank you, therefore, for your generous consideration, gentlemen, I trust you will appreciate my desire to live unhumiliated by a sense of dependence; and believe me, sincerely yours, P. T. Barnum.

To Messrs. Freeman Hunt, E. K. Collins, and others.

And with other offers of assistance from far and near, came the following from a little gentleman who did not forget his old friend and benefactor in the time of trial:

Jones’ Hotel, Philadelphia, May 12, 1856.

My Dear Mr. Barnum,—I understand your friends, and that means “all creation,” intend to get up some benefits for your family. Now, my dear sir, just be good enough to remember that I belong to that mighty crowd, and I must have a finger (or at least a “thumb”) in that pie. I am bound to appear on all such occasions in some shape, from “Jack the Giant Killer,” up stairs, to the doorkeeper down, whichever may serve you best; and there are some feats that I can perform as well as any other man of my inches. I have just started out on my western tour, and have my carriage, ponies and assistants all here, but I am ready to go on to New York, bag and baggage, and remain at Mrs. Barnum’s service as long as I, in my small way, can be useful. Put me into any “heavy” work, if you like. Perhaps I cannot lift as much as some other folks, but just take your pencil in hand and you will see I can draw a tremendous load. I drew two hundred tons at a single pull to-day, embracing two thousand persons, whom I hauled up safely and satisfactorily to all parties, at one exhibition. Hoping that you will be able to fix up a lot of magnets that will attract all New York, and volunteering to sit on any part of the loadstone, I am, as ever, your little but sympathizing friend,

Gen. Tom Thumb.

Even this generous offer from my little friend I felt compelled to refuse. But kind words were written and spoken which I could not prevent, nor did I desire to do so, and which were worth more to me than money. I should fail to find space, if I wished it, to copy one-tenth part of the cordial and kind articles and paragraphs that appeared about me in newspapers throughout the country. The following sentence from an editorial article in a prominent New York journal was the key-note to many similar kind notices in all parts of the Union: “It is a fact beyond dispute that Mr. Barnum’s financial difficulties have accumulated from the goodness of his nature; kind-hearted and generous to a fault, it has ever been his custom to lend a helping hand to the struggling; and honest industry and enterprise have found his friendship prompt and faithful.” The Boston Journal dwelt especially upon the use I had made of my money in my days of prosperity in assisting deserving laboring men and in giving an impulse to business in the town where I resided. It seems only just that I should make this very brief allusion to these things, if only as an offset to the unbounded abuse of those who believed in kicking me merely because I was down; nor can I refrain from copying the following from the Boston Saturday Evening Gazette, of May 3, 1856:



Barnum, your hand! Though you are “down,”
And see full many a frigid shoulder,
Be brave, my brick, and though they frown,
Prove that misfortune makes you bolder.
There’s many a man that sneers, my hero,
And former praise converts to scorning,
Would worship—when he fears—a Nero,
And bend “where thrift may follow fawning.”
You humbugged us—that we have seen,
We got our money’s worth, old fellow,
And though you thought our minds were green,
We never thought your heart was yellow.
We knew you liberal, generous, warm,
Quick to assist a falling brother,
And, with such virtues, what’s the harm
All memories of your faults to smother?
We had not heard the peerless Lind,
But for your spirit enterprising,
You were the man to raise the wind,
And make a coup confessed surprising.
You’re reckoned in your native town
A friend in need, a friend in danger,
You ever keep the latchstring down,
And greet with open hand the stranger.
Stiffen your upper lip. You know
Who are your friends and who your foes now;
We pay for knowledge as we go;
And though you get some sturdy blows now,
You’ve a fair field,—no favors crave,—
The storm once passed will find you braver,—
In virtue’s cause long may you wave,
And on the right side, never waver.

Desirous of knowing who was the author of this kindly effusion, I wrote, while preparing this autobiography, to Mr. B. P. Shillaber, one of the editors of the journal, and well known to the public as “Mrs. Partington.” In reply, I received the following letter in which it will be seen that he makes sympathetic allusion to the burning of my last Museum, only a few weeks before the date of his letter:

Chelsea, April 25, 1868.

My Dear Mr. Barnum:—The poem in question was written by A. Wallace Thaxter, associate editor with Mr. Clapp and myself, on the Gazette—since deceased, a glorious fellow—who wrote the poem from a sincere feeling of admiration for yourself. Mr. Clapp, (Hon. W. W. Clapp,) published it with his full approbation. I heard of your new trouble, in my sick chamber, where I have been all winter, with regret, and wish you as ready a release from attending difficulty as your genius has hitherto achieved under like circumstances.

Yours, very truly,

B. P. Shillaber.

But the manifestations of sympathy which came to me from Bridgeport, where my home had been for more than ten years, were the most gratifying of all, because they showed unmistakably that my best friends, those who were most constant in their friendship and most emphatic in their esteem, were my neighbors and associates who, of all people, knew me best. With such support I could easily endure the attacks of traducers elsewhere. The New York Times, April 25, 1856, under the head of “Sympathy for Barnum,” published a full report of the meeting of my fellow-citizens of Bridgeport, the previous evening, to take my case into consideration.

In response to a call headed by the mayor of the city, and signed by several hundred citizens, this meeting was held in Washington Hall “for the purpose of sympathizing with P. T. Barnum, Esq., in his recent pecuniary embarrassments, and of giving some public expression to their views in reference to his financial misfortunes.” It was the largest public meeting which, up to that time, had ever been held in Bridgeport. Several prominent citizens made addresses, and resolutions were adopted declaring “that respect and sympathy were due to P. T. Barnum in return for his many acts of liberality, philanthropy and public spirit,” expressing unshaken confidence in his integrity, admiration for the “fortitude and composure with which he has met reverses into which he has been dragged through no fault of his own except a too generous confidence in pretended friends,” and hoping that he would “yet return to that wealth which he has so nobly employed, and to the community he has so signally benefited.” During the evening the following letter was read:

New York, Thursday, April 24, 1856.

Wm. H. Noble, Esq.,

Dear Sir:—I have just received a slip containing a call for a public meeting of the citizens of Bridgeport to sympathize with me in my troubles. It is headed by His Honor the Mayor, and is signed by most of your prominent citizens, as well as by many men who by hard labor earn their daily bread, and who appreciate a calamity which at a single blow strips a man of his fortune, his dear home, and all the worldly comforts which years of diligent labor had acquired. It is due to truth to say that I knew nothing of this movement until your letter informed me of it.

In misfortune the true sympathy of neighbors is more consoling and precious than anything which money can purchase. This voluntary offering of my fellow-citizens, though it thrills me with painful emotions and causes tears of gratitude, yet imparts to me renewed strength and fills my heart with thankfulness to Providence for raising up to my sight, above all this wreck, kind hearts which soar above the sordid atmosphere of “dirty dollars.” I can never forget this unexpected kindness from my old friends and neighbors.

I trust I am not blind to my many faults and shortcomings. I, however, do feel great consolation in believing that I never used money or position to oppress the poor or wrong my fellow-men, and that I never turned empty away those whom I had the power to assist.

My poor sick wife, who needs the bracing air which our own dear home (made beautiful by her willing hands) would now have afforded her, is driven by the orders of her physician to a secluded spot on Long Island where the sea-wind lends its healthful influence, and where I have also retired for the double purpose of consoling her and of recruiting my own constitution, which, through the excitements of the last few months, has most seriously failed me.

In our quiet and humble retreat, that which I most sincerely pray for is tranquillity and contentment. I am sure that the remembrance of the kindness of my Bridgeport neighbors will aid me in securing these cherished blessings. No man who has not passed through similar scenes can fully comprehend the misery which has been crowded into the last few months of my life; but I have endeavored to preserve my integrity, and I humbly hope and believe that I am being taught humility and reliance upon Providence, which will yet afford a thousand times more peace and true happiness than can be acquired in the din, strife and turmoil, excitements and struggles of this money-worshipping age. The man who coins his brain and blood into gold, who wastes all of his time and thought upon the almighty dollar, who looks no higher than blocks of houses, and tracts of land, and whose iron chest is crammed with stocks and mortgages tied up with his own heart-strings, may console himself with the idea of safe investments, but he misses a pleasure which I firmly believe this lesson was intended to secure to me, and which it will secure if I can fully bring my mind to realize its wisdom. I think I hear you say—

“When the devil was sick,
The devil a saint would be.
But when the devil got well,
The devil a saint was he.”

Granted, but, after all, the man who looks upon the loss of money as anything compared to the loss of honor, or health, or self-respect, or friends,—a man who can find no source of happiness except in riches,—is to be pitied for his blindness. I certainly feel that the loss of money, of home and my home comforts, is dreadful,—that to be driven again to find a resting-place away from those I love, and from where I had fondly supposed I was to end my days, and where I had lavished time, money, everything, to make my descent to the grave placid and pleasant,—is, indeed, a severe lesson; but, after all, I firmly believe it is for the best, and though my heart may break, I will not repine.

I regret, beyond expression, that any man should be a loser for having trusted to my name; it would not have been so, if I had not myself been deceived. As it is, I am gratified in knowing that all my individual obligations will be met. It would have been much better if clock creditors had accepted the best offer that it was in my power to make them; but it was not so to be. It is now too late, and as I willingly give up all I possess, I can do no more.

Wherever my future lot may be cast, I shall ever fondly cherish the kindness which I have always received from the citizens of Bridgeport.

I am, my dear Sir, truly yours,


Shortly after this sympathetic meeting, a number of gentlemen in Bridgeport offered me a loan of $50,000 if that sum would be instrumental in extricating me from my entanglement. I could not say that this amount would meet the exigency; I could only say, “wait, wait, and hope.”

Meanwhile, my eyes were fully opened to the entire magnitude of the deception that had been practised upon my too confiding nature. I not only discovered that my notes had been used to five times the amount I stipulated or expected, but that they had been applied, not to relieving the company from temporary embarrassment after my connection with it, but almost wholly to the redemption of old and rotten claims of years and months gone by. To show the extent to which the fresh victim was deliberately bled, it may be stated that I was induced to become surety to one of the New Haven banks in the sum of $30,000 to indemnify the bank against future losses it might incur from the Jerome company after my connection with it, and by some legerdemain this bond was made to cover past obligations which were older even than my knowledge of the existence of the company. In every way it seemed as if I had been cruelly swindled and deliberately defrauded.

As the clock company had gone to pieces and was paying but from twelve to fifteen per cent for its paper, I sent two of my friends to New Haven to ask for a meeting of the creditors and I instructed them to say in substance for me as follows:

“Gentlemen: This is a capital practical joke! Before I negotiated with your clock company at all, I was assured by several of you, and particularly by a representative of the bank which was the largest creditor of the concern, that the Jerome company was eminently responsible and that the head of the same was uncommonly pious. On the strength of such representations solely, I was induced to agree to indorse and accept paper for that company to the extent of $110,000—no more. That sum I am now willing to pay for my own verdancy, with an additional sum of $40,000 for your ‘cuteness, making a total of $150,000, which you can have if you cry ‘quits’ with the fleeced showman and let him off.”

Many of the old creditors favored this proposition; but it was found that the indebtedness was so scattered it would be impracticable to attempt a settlement by an unanimous compromise of the creditors. It was necessary to liquidation that my property should go into the hands of assignees; I therefore at once turned over my Bridgeport property to Connecticut assignees and I removed my family to New York, where I also made an assignment of all my real and personal estate, excepting what had already been transferred in Connecticut.

About this time I received a letter from Philadelphia proferring $500 in case my circumstances were such that I really stood in need of help. The very wording of the letter awakened the suspicion in my mind that it was a trick to ascertain whether I really had any property, for I knew that banks and brokers in that city held some of my Jerome paper which they refused to compound or compromise. So I at once wrote that I did need $500, and, as I expected, the money did not come, nor was my letter answered; but, as a natural consequence, the Philadelphia bankers who were holding the Jerome paper for a higher percentage at once acceded to the terms which I had announced myself able and willing to pay.

Every dollar which I honestly owed on my own account I had already paid in full or had satisfactorily arranged. For the liabilities incurred by the deliberate deception which had involved me I offered such a percentage as I thought my estate, when sold, would eventually pay; and my wife, from her own property, advanced from time to time money to take up such notes as could be secured upon these terms. It was, however, a slow process. More than one creditor would hold on to his note, which possibly he had “shaved” at the rate of two or three per cent a month, and say:

“Oh! you can’t keep Barnum down; he will dig out after a while; I shall never sell my claim for less than par and interest.”

Of course, I knew very well that if all the creditors took this view I should never get out of the entanglement in which I had been involved by the old creditors of the Jerome Company, who had so ingeniously managed to make me take their place. All I could do was to take a thorough survey of the situation, and consider, now that I was down, how I could get up again.

“Every cloud,” says the proverb, “has a silver lining,” and so I did not despair. “This blow,” I thought “may be beneficial to my children, if not to me.” They had been brought up in luxury; accustomed to call on servants to attend to every want; and almost unlimited in the expenditure of money. My daughter Helen, especially, was naturally extravagant. She was a warm-hearted, generous girl, who knew literally nothing of the value of money and the difficulty of acquiring it. At this time she was fifteen years old, and was attending a French boarding school in the City of Washington. A few days after the news of my failure was published in the papers, my friend, the Rev. Dr. E. H. Chapin, of New York, was at my house. He had long been intimate with my family, and was well acquainted with the extravagant ideas and ways of my daughter Helen. One morning, I received a letter from her, filled with sympathy and sorrow for my misfortunes. She told me how much shocked she was at hearing of my financial disasters, and added: “Do send for me immediately, for I cannot think of remaining here at an expense which my parents cannot afford. I have learned to play the piano well enough to be able to take some little girls as pupils, and in this way I can be of some assistance in supporting the family.”

On reading this I was deeply affected; and, handing the letter to Dr. Chapin, I said: “There, sir, is a letter which is worth ten thousand dollars.”

“Twenty thousand, at the least!” was the exclamation of the Doctor when he had read it.

We were now living in a very frugal manner in a hired furnished house in Eighth Street, near Sixth Avenue, in New York, and our landlady and her family boarded with us. At the age of forty-six, after the acquisition and the loss of a handsome fortune, I was once more nearly at the bottom of the ladder, and was about to begin the world again. The situation was disheartening, but I had energy, experience, health and hope.




IN the summer of 1855, previous to my financial troubles, feeling that I was independent and could retire from active business, I sold the American Museum collection and good will to Messrs. John Greenwood, Junior, and Henry D. Butler. They paid me double the amount the collection had originally cost, giving me notes for nearly the entire amount secured by a chattel mortgage, and hired the premises from my wife, who owned the Museum property lease, and on which, by the agreement of Messrs. Greenwood and Butler, she realized a profit of $19,000 a year. The chattel mortgage of Messrs. Greenwood and Butler, was, of course, turned over to the New York assignee with the other property.

And now there came to me a new sensation which was at times terribly depressing and annoying. My wides-pread reputation for shrewdness as a showman had induced the general belief that my means were still ample, and certain outside creditors who had bought my clock notes at a tremendous discount and entirely on speculation, made up their minds that they must be paid at once without waiting for the slow process of the sale of my property by the assignees.

They therefore took what are termed “supplementary proceedings,” which enabled them to haul me any day before a judge for the purpose, as they phrased it, of “putting Barnum through a course of sprouts,” and which meant an examination of the debtor under oath, compelling him to disclose everything with regard to his property, his present means of living, and so on.

I repeatedly answered all questions on these points; and reports of the daily examinations were published. Still another and another, and yet another creditor would haul me up; and his attorney would ask me the same questions which had already been answered and published half a dozen times. This persistent and unnecessary annoyance created considerable sympathy for me, which was not only expressed by letters I received daily from various parts of the country, but the public press, with now and then an exception, took my part, and even the Judges, before whom I appeared, said to me on more than one occasion, that as men they sincerely pitied me, but as judges of course they must administer the law. After a while, however, the judges ruled that I need not answer any question propounded to me by an attorney, if I had already answered the same question to some other attorney in a previous examination in behalf of other creditors. In fact, one of the judges, on one occasion, said pretty sharply to an examining attorney:

“This, sir, has become simply a case of persecution. Mr. Barnum has many times answered every question that can properly be put to him to elicit the desired information; and I think it is time to stop these examinations. I advise him to not answer one interrogatory which he has replied to under any previous inquiries.”

These things gave me some heart, so that at last, I went up to the “sprouts” with less reluctance, and began to try to pay off my persecutors in their own coin.

On one occasion, a dwarfish little lawyer, who reminded me of “Quilp,” commenced his examination in behalf of a note-shaver who held a thousand dollar note, which it seemed he had bought for seven hundred dollars. After the oath had been administered the little “limb of the law” arranged his pen, ink and paper, and in a loud voice, and with a most peremptory and supercilious air, asked:

“What is your name, sir?”

I answered him, and his next question, given in a louder and more peremptory tone, was:

“What is your business?”

“Attending bar,” I meekly replied.

“Attending bar!” he echoed, with an appearance of much surprise; “Attending bar! Why, don’t you profess to be a temperance man—a teetotaler?”

“I do,” I replied.

“And yet, sir, do you have the audacity to assert that you peddle rum all day, and drink none yourself?”

“I doubt whether that is a relevant question,” I said in a low tone of voice.

“I will appeal to his honor the judge, if you don’t answer it instantly,” said Quilp in great glee.

“I attend bar, and yet never drink intoxicating liquors,” I replied.

“Where do you attend bar, and for whom?” was the next question.

“I attend the bar of this court, nearly every day, for the benefit of two-penny, would-be lawyers and their greedy clients,” I answered.

A loud tittering in the vicinity only added to the vexation which was already visible on the countenance of my interrogator, and he soon brought his examination to a close.

On another occasion, a young lawyer was pushing his inquiries to a great length, when, in a half laughing, apologetic tone, he said:

“You see, Mr. Barnum, I am searching after the small things; I am willing to take even the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table!”

“Which are you, Lazarus, or one of the dogs?” I asked.

“I guess a blood-hound would not smell out much on this trail,” he said good-naturedly, adding that he had no more questions to ask.

I still continued to receive many offers of pecuniary assistance, which, whenever proposed in the form of a gift, I invariably refused. In a number of instances, personal friends tendered me their checks for $500, $1,000, and other sums, but I always responded in substance: “Oh, no, I thank you; I do not need it; my wife has considerable property, besides a large income from her Museum lease. I want for nothing; I do not owe a dollar for personal obligations that is not already secured, and when the clock creditors have fully investigated and thought over the matter, I think they will be content to divide my property among themselves and let me up.”

Just after my failure, and on account of the ill-health of my wife, I spent a portion of the summer with my family in the farmhouse of Mr. Charles Howell, at Westhampton, on Long Island. The place is a mile west of Quogue, and was then called “Ketchebonneck.” The thrifty and intelligent farmers of the neighborhood were in the habit of taking summer boarders, and the place had become a favorite resort. Mr. Howell’s farm lay close upon the ocean and I found the residence a cool and delightful one. Surf bathing, fishing, shooting and fine roads for driving made the season pass pleasantly and the respite from active life and immediate annoyance from my financial troubles was a very great benefit to me.

Our landlord was an eccentric character, who took great pleasure in showing me to his friends and neighbors as “the Museum man,” and consequently, as a great curiosity; for in his estimation, the American Museum was chief among the institutions of New York. He was in a habit of gathering shells and such rarities as came within his reach, which he took to the city and disposed of at the Museum. He often spoke of certain phenomena in his neighborhood, which he thought would take well with the public, if they were properly brought out. One day he said:

“Mr. Barnum, I am going to Moriches this morning, and I want you to go along with me and see a great curiosity there is there.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“It is a man who has got a natural ‘honk’ ” replied Howell, “and it is worth fifty dollars a year to him.”

“A what?” I inquired.

“A honk! a honk! a perfectly natural honk! he makes fifty dollars a year out of it,” Howell reiterated.

I could not comprehend what a “honk” was, but concluded that if it was worth fifty dollars a year among the Long Island fishermen and farmers who could hardly be expected to pay much for mere sight-seeing, it would be much more valuable to exhibit in the Museum. So I remarked that as I was authorized by Messrs. Greenwood and Butler to purchase curiosities for them, I would go with him and buy the honk from its possessor if I could get it at a reasonable price.

“Buy it!” exclaimed Howell; “I guess you can’t buy it! You don’t seem to understand me; the man has got a natural honk, I tell you; that is, he honks exactly like a wild goose; when flocks are flying over he goes out and honks and the geese, supposing that some goose has settled and is honking for the rest of the flock to come down and feed, all fly towards the ground and he ‘lets into ’em’ with his gun, thus killing a great many, and in this way his honk is worth fifty dollars a year to him, and perhaps more.”

I decided not to attempt to buy the “honk,” but my eagerness to do so and my entire ignorance of the character of the curiosity furnished food for laughter to Howell and his neighbors for a long time.

One morning we discovered that the waves had thrown upon the beach a young black whale some twelve feet long. It was dead, but the fish was hard and fresh and I bought it for a few dollars from the men who had taken possession of it. I sent it at once to the Museum, where it was exhibited in a huge refrigerator for a few days, creating considerable excitement, the general public considering it “a big thing on ice,” and the managers gave me a share of the profits, which amounted to a sufficient sum to pay the entire board bill of my family for the season.

This incident both amused and amazed my Long Island landlord. “Well, I declare,” said he, “that beats all; you are the luckiest man I ever heard of. Here you come and board for four months with your family, and when your time is nearly up, and you are getting ready to leave, out rolls a black whale on our beach, a thing never heard of before in this vicinity, and you take that whale and pay your whole bill with it! I wonder if that ain’t ‘providential’? Why, that beats the ‘natural honk’ all to pieces!” This was followed by such a laugh as only Charles Howell could give, and like one of his peculiar sneezes, it resounded, echoed, and re-echoed through the whole neighborhood.

Soon after my return to New York, something occurred which I foresaw, I thought, at the time, was likely indirectly to lead me out of the wilderness into a clear field again, and, indeed, it eventually did so. Strange to say, my new city which had been my ruin was to be my redemption, and dear East Bridgeport which plunged me into the slough was to bring me out again. “Dear” as the place had literally proved to me, it was to be yet dearer, in another and better sense, hereafter.

The now gigantic Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machine Company was then doing a comparatively small, yet rapidly growing business at Watertown, Connecticut. The Terry & Barnum clock factory was standing idle, almost worthless, in East Bridgeport, and Wheeler & Wilson saw in the empty building, the situation, the ease of communication with New York, and other advantages, precisely what they wanted, provided they could procure the premises at a rate which would compensate them for the expense and trouble of removing their establishment from Watertown. It is enough to say here, that the clock factory was sold for a trifle and the Wheeler & Wilson Company moved into it and speedily enlarged it. I felt then that this was providential; the fact that the empty building could be cheaply purchased was the main motive for the removal of this Watertown enterprise to East Bridgeport, and was one of the first indications that my failure might prove a “blessing in disguise.” It was a fresh impulse towards the building up of the new city and the consequent increase of the value of the land belonging to my estate. Many persons did not see these things in the same light in which they were presented to me, but I had so long pondered upon the various means which were to make the new city prosperous, that I was quick to catch any indication which promised benefit to East Bridgeport.

This important movement of the Wheeler and Wilson Company gave me the greatest hope, and moreover, Mr. Wheeler kindly offered me a loan of $5,000, without security, and as I was anxious to have it used in purchasing the East Bridgeport property, when sold at public auction by my assignees, and also in taking up such clock notes as could be bought at a reasonable percentage, I accepted the offer and borrowed the $5,000. This sum, with many thousand dollars more belonging to my wife, was devoted to these purposes.

It seemed as if I had now got hold of the thread which would eventually lead me out of the labyrinth of financial difficulty in which the Jerome entanglement had involved me. Though the new plan promised relief, and actually did succeed, even beyond my most sanguine expectations, eventually putting more money into my pocket than the Jerome complication had taken out—yet I also foresaw that the process would necessarily be very slow. In fact, two years afterwards I had made very little progress. But I concluded to let the new venture work out itself and it would go on as well without my personal presence and attention, perhaps even better. Growing trees, money at interest, and rapidly rising real estate, work for their owners all night as well as all day, Sundays included, and when the proprietors are asleep or away, and with the design of coöperating in the new accumulation and of saving something to add to the amount, I made up my mind to go to Europe again. I was anxious for a change of scene and for active employment, and equally desirous of getting away from the immediate pressure of troubles which no effort on my part could then remove. While my affairs were working out themselves in their own way and in the speediest manner possible, I might be doing something for myself and for my family.

Accordingly, leaving all my business affairs at home in the hands of my friends, early in 1857 I set sail once more for England, taking with me General Tom Thumb, and also little Cordelia Howard and her parents. This young girl had attained an extended reputation for her artistic personation of “Little Eva,” in the play of “Uncle Tom,” and she displayed a precocious talent in her rendering of other juvenile characters. With these attractions, and with what else I might be able to do myself, I determined to make as much money as I could, intending to remit the same to my wife’s friends, for the purpose of repurchasing a portion of my estate, when it was offered at auction, and of redeeming such of the clock notes as could be obtained at reasonable rates.




ON arriving at Liverpool, I found that my old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lynn, of the Waterloo Hotel, had changed very little during my ten years’ absence from England. Even the servants in the hotel were mainly those whom I left there when I last went away from Liverpool—which illustrates, in a small way, how much less changeable, and more “conservative” the English people are than we are. The old head-waiter, Thomas, was still head-waiter, as he had been for full twenty years. His hair was more silvered, his gait was slower, his shoulders had rounded, but he was as ready to receive, as I was to repeat, the first order I ever gave him, to wit: “Fried soles and shrimp sauce.”

And among my many friends in Liverpool and London, but one death had occurred, and with only two exceptions they all lived in the same buildings, and pursued the same vocations as when I left them in 1847. When I reached London, I found one of these exceptions to be Mr. Albert Smith, who, when I first knew him, was a dentist, a literary hack, a contributor to Punch, and a writer for the magazines,—and who was now transformed to a first-class showman in the full tide of success, in my own old exhibition quarters in Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly.

A year or two before, he had succeeded in reaching the top of Mont Blanc, and after publishing a most interesting account, which was re-published and translated into several languages, the whole world over, he concluded to make further use of his expedition by adapting it to a popular entertainment. He therefore illustrated his ascent by means of a finely painted and accurate panorama, and he accompanied the exhibition with a descriptive lecture full of amusing and interesting incidents, illustrative of his remarkable experiences in accomplishing the difficult ascent. He also gave a highly-colored and exciting narrative of his entire journey from London to Switzerland, and back again, including his trip up and down the Rhine, and introducing the many peculiar characters of both sexes, he claimed to have met at different points during his tour. These he imitated and presented in so life-like a manner, as to fairly captivate and convulse his audiences.

It was one of the most pleasing and popular entertainments ever presented in London, and was immensely remunerative to the projector,—resulting, indeed, in a very handsome fortune. The entertainments were patronized by the most cultivated classes, for information was blended with amusement, and in no exhibition then in London was there so much genuine fun. Two or three times Albert Smith was commanded to appear before the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and at Windsor, and as he gave his entertainment with great success on these occasions, spite of the fact that he could not take his panorama with him, it can readily be imagined that the frame was quite as good as the picture, and that the lecture as compared with the panorama, admirable as both were, was by no means the least part of the “show.”

Calling upon Albert Smith, I found him the same kind, cordial friend as ever, and he at once put me on the free list at his entertainment, and insisted upon my dining frequently with him at his favorite club, the Garrick.

The first time I witnessed his exhibition he gave me a sly wink from the stage at the moment of his describing a scene in the golden chamber of St. Ursula’s church in Cologne, where the old sexton was narrating the story of the ashes and bones of the eleven thousand innocent virgins who, according to tradition, were sacrificed on a certain occasion. One of the characters whom he pretended to have met several times on his trip to Mont Blanc, was a Yankee, whom he named “Phineas Cutecraft.” The wink came at the time he introduced Phineas in the Cologne Church, and made him say at the end of the sexton’s story about the Virgins’ bones:

“Old fellow, what will you take for that hull lot of bones? I want them for my Museum in America!”

When the question had been interpreted to the old German, he exclaimed in horror, according to Albert Smith:

“Mine Gott! it is impossible! We will never sell the Virgins’ bones!”

“Never mind,” replied Phineas Cutecraft, “I’ll send another lot of bones to my Museum, swear mine are the real bones of the Virgins of Cologne, and burst up your show!”

This always excited the heartiest laughter; but Mr. Smith knew very well that I would at once recognize it as a paraphrase of the scene wherein he had figured with me in 1844 at the porter’s lodge of Warwick Castle. In the course of the entertainment, I found he had woven in numerous anecdotes I had told him at that time, and many incidents of our excursion were also travestied and made to contribute to the interest of his description of the ascent of Mont Blanc.

When we went to the Garrick club that day, Albert Smith introduced me to several of his acquaintances as his “teacher in the show business.” As we were quietly dining together, he remarked that I must have recognized several old acquaintances in the anecdotes at his entertainment. Upon my answering that I did, “indeed,” he remarked, “you are too old a showman not to know that in order to be popular, we must snap up and localize all the good things which we come across.” By thus engrafting his various experiences upon this Mont Blanc entertainment, Albert Smith succeeded in serving up a salmagundi feast, which was relished alike by royal and less distinguished palates.

At one of the Egyptian Hall matinees, Albert Smith, espying me in the audience, sent an usher to me with a note of invitation to dine with him and a number of friends immediately after the close of the entertainment. To this invitation he added the request that as soon as he concluded his lecture I should at once come to him through the small door under the stage at the end of the orchestra, and by thus getting ahead of the large crowd of ladies and gentlemen composing the audience we should save time and reach the club at an hour for an early dinner.

As soon as he uttered the last word of his lecture, I pushed for the little door, the highly distinguished audience, which on this occasion was mainly made up of ladies, meanwhile slowly progressing towards the exits, while the orchestra was “playing them out” with selections of popular music. Closing the stage door behind me, I instantly found myself enveloped in that Egyptian darkness which was peculiar, I suppose, if not appropriate, to that part of Egyptian Hall. I could hear Smith and his assistants walking on the stage over my head, but I dare not call out lest some nervous Duchess or Countess should faint under the apprehension that the hall was on fire, or that some other severe disaster threatened.

Groping my way blindly and hitting my head several times against sundry beams, at last, to my joy, I reached the knob of the door which led me into this hole, but to my dismay it had been locked from the outside! In feeling about, however, I discovered a couple of bell pulls, both of which I desperately jerked and heard a faint tinkling in two opposite directions. Next, I heard the heavy canvas drop-curtain roll down rapidly till it struck the stage with a thud. Then the music in the orchestra suddenly ceased, and I could readily understand by the shrieks of the women and the loud protestations of masculine voices that the gas had been turned off and the whole house left in darkness. This was followed by hurried and heavy footsteps on the stage, the imprecations of stage carpenters and gasmen, jargon of foreign musicians in the orchestra, and the earnest voice of my friend Smith excitedly exclaiming: “Who rung those bells? why are we all left in the dark? Light up here at once; bless my soul! what does all this mean?”

I was amazed, yet amused and half alarmed. What to do, I did not know, so I sat still on a box which I had stumbled over, as well as upon, afraid to move or put out my hand lest I might touch some machinery which would give the signal for thunder and lightning, or an earthquake, or more likely, a Mont Blanc avalanche. Restored tranquillity overhead assured me that the gas had been relighted. I knew Smith must be anxiously awaiting me, for he was not a man to be behind time when so important a matter as dinner was the motive of the appointment. Something desperate must be done; so I carefully groped my way to the stage door again and with a strong effort managed to wrench it open. Covered with dust and perspiration I followed behind the rear of the out-going audience and found Smith, to whom I narrated my under-ground experiences.

Brushes, water and towels soon put me once more in presentable condition and we went to the Garrick Club where we dined with several gentlemen of note. Smith could not refrain from relating my mishaps and their consequences in my search for him under difficulties, and worse yet, under his stage, and great was the merriment over the idea that an old manager like myself should so lose his reckoning in a place with which he might well be supposed to be perfectly familiar.

When the late William M. Thackeray made his first visit to the United States, I think in 1852, he called on me at the Museum with a letter of introduction from our mutual friend Albert Smith. He spent an hour with me, mainly for the purpose of asking my advice in regard to the management of the course of lectures on “The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century,” which he proposed to deliver, as he did afterwards, with very great success, in the principal cities of the Union. I gave him the best advice I could as to management, and the cities he ought to visit, for which he was very grateful and he called on me whenever he was in New York. I also saw him repeatedly when he came to America the second time with his admirable lectures on “The Four Georges,” which, it will be remembered he delivered in the United States in the season of 1855-56, before he read these lectures to audiences in Great Britain. My relations with this great novelist, I am proud to say, were cordial and intimate; and now, when I called upon him, in 1857, at his own house he grasped me heartily by the hand and said:

“Mr. Barnum, I admire you more than ever. I have read the accounts in the papers of the examinations you underwent in the New York courts, and the positive pluck you exhibit under your pecuniary embarrassments is worthy of all praise. You would never have received credit for the philosophy you manifest, if these financial misfortunes had not overtaken you.”

I thanked him for his compliment, and he continued:

“But tell me, Barnum, are you really in need of present assistance? for if you are you must be helped.”

“Not in the least,” I replied, laughing; “I need more money in order to get out of bankruptcy and I intend to earn it; but so far as daily bread is concerned, I am quite at ease, for my wife is worth £30,000 or £40,000.”

“Is it possible?” he exclaimed, with evident delight; “well, now, you have lost all my sympathy; why, that is more than I ever expect to be worth; I shall be sorry for you no more.”

During my stay in London, I met Thackeray several times, and on one occasion I dined with him. He was a most genial, noble-hearted gentleman. In our conversations he spoke with the warmest appreciation of America, and of his numerous friends in this country, and he repeatedly expressed his obligations to me for the advice and assistance I had given him on the occasion of his first lecturing visit to the United States.

The late Charles Kean, then manager of the Princess’s Theatre, in London, was also exceedingly polite and friendly to me. He placed a box at my disposal at all times, and took me through his theatre to show me the stage, dressing rooms, and particularly the valuable “properties” he had collected. Among other things, he had twenty or more complete suits of real armor and other costumes and appointments essential to the production of historical plays, in the most complete and authentic manner. In the mere matter of stage-setting, Charles Kean has never been surpassed.

Otto Goldschmidt, the husband of Jenny Lind, also called on me in London. He and his wife were then living in Dresden, and he said the first thing his wife desired him to ask me was, whether I was in want. I assured him that I was not, although I was managing to live in an economical way and my family would soon come over to reside in London. He then advised me to take them to Dresden, saying that living was very cheap there; and, he added, “my wife will gladly look up a proper house for you to live in.” I thankfully declined his proffered kindness, as Dresden was too far away from my business. A year subsequent to this, a letter was generally published in the American papers, purporting to have been written to me by Jenny Lind, and proffering me a large sum of money. I immediately pronounced the letter a forgery, and I soon afterwards received a communication from a young reporter in Philadelphia acknowledging himself as the author, and saying that he wrote it from a good motive, hoping it would benefit me. On the contrary it annoyed me exceedingly.

My old friends Julius Benedict and Giovanni Belletti, called on me and we had some very pleasant dinners together, when we talked over incidents of their travels in America. Among the gentlemen whom I met in London, some of them quite frequently at dinners, were Mr. George Augustus Sala, Mr. Edmund Yates, Mr. Horace Mayhew, Mr. Alfred Bunn, Mr. Lumley, of Her Majesty’s Theatre, Mr. Buckstone, of the Haymarket, Mr. Charles Kean, our princely countrymen Mr. George Peabody, Mr. J. M. Morris, the manager, Mr. Bates, of Baring, Brothers & Co., Mr. Oxenford, dramatic critic of the London Times, Dr. Ballard, the American dentist, and many other eminent persons.

I had numerous offers from professional friends on both sides of the Atlantic who supposed me to be in need of employment. Mr. Barney Williams, who had not then acted in England, proposed in the kindest manner to make me his agent for a tour through Great Britain, and to give me one-third of the profits which he and Mrs. Williams might make by their acting. Mr. S. M. Pettengill, of New York, the newspaper advertising agent, offered me the fine salary of $10,000 a year to transact business for him in Great Britain. He wrote to me: “when you failed in consequence of the Jerome clock notes, I felt that your creditors were dealing hard with you; that they should have let you up and give you a chance, and they would have fared better and I wish I was a creditor so as to show what I would do.” These offers, both from Mr. Williams and Mr. Pettengill, I was obliged to decline.

Mr. Lumley, manager of Pier Majesty’s Theatre, used to send me an order for a private box for every opera night, and I frequently availed myself of his courtesy. I had an idea that much money might be made by transferring his entire opera company, which then included Piccolomini and Titjiens to New York for a short season. The plan included the charter of a special steamer for the company and the conveyance of the entire troup, including the orchestra, with their instruments, and the chorus, costumes, scores, and properties of the company. It was a gigantic scheme, which would no doubt have been pecuniarily successful, and Mr. Lumley and I went so far as to draw up the preliminaries of an arrangement, in which I was to share a due proportion of the profits for my assistance in the management; but after a while, and to the evident regret of Mr. Lumley, the scheme was given up.

Meanwhile, I was by no means idle. Cordelia Howard as “Little Eva,” with her mother as the inimitable “Topsy,” were highly successful in London and other large cities, while General Tom Thumb, returning after so long an absence, drew crowded houses wherever he went. These were strong spokes in the wheel that was moving slowly but surely in the effort to get me out of debt, and, if possible, to save some portion of my real estate. Of course, it was not generally known that I had any interest whatever in either of these exhibitions; if it had been, possibly some of the clock creditors would have annoyed me; but I busied myself in these and in other ways, working industriously and making much money, which I constantly remitted to my trusty agent at home.




AFTER a pleasant and successful season of several weeks in London and in the provinces, I took the little General into Germany, going from London to Paris and from thence to Strasbourg and Baden-Baden. I had not been in Paris since the times of King Louis Philippe, and while I noticed great improvements in the city, in the opening of the new boulevards and the erection of noble buildings, I could see also with sorrow that there was less personal liberty under the Emperor Napoleon III., than there was under the “Citizen King.” The custom-house officials were overbearing and unnecessarily rigid in their exactions; the police were over-watchful and intolerant; the screws were turned on everywhere. I had a lot of large pictorial placards of General Tom Thumb, which were merely in transitu, as I wished only to forward them to Germany to be used as advertisements of the forthcoming exhibitions. These the French custom-house officers determined to examine in detail, and when they discovered that one of the pictures represented the General in the costume of the First Napoleon, the whole of the bills were seized and sent to the Prefecture of Police. I was compelled to stay three days in Paris before I could convince the Prefect of Police that there was no treason in the Tom Thumb pictures. I was very glad to get out of Paris with my baggage and taking a seat in the express train on the Paris and Strasbourg railway I soon forgot my custom-house annoyances.

One would suppose that by this time I had had enough to do with clocks to last me my lifetime, but passing one night and a portion of a day at Strasbourg, I did not forget or fail to witness the great church clock which is nearly as famous as the cathedral itself. At noon precisely a mechanical cock crows; the bell strikes; figures of the twelve apostles appear and walk in procession; and other extraordinary evidences of wonderful mechanical art are daily exhibited by this curious old clock.

From Strasbourg we went to Baden-Baden. I had been abroad so much that I could understand and manage to speak French, but I had never been in Germany and I did not know six words of the language of that country. As a consequence, I dreaded to pass the custom-house at Kehl, nearly opposite Strasbourg, and the first town on the German border at that point. When the diligence stopped at this place I fairly trembled. I knew that I had no baggage which was rightfully subject to duty, as I had nothing but my necessary clothing and the package of placards and lithographs illustrating the General’s exhibitions. This was the package which had given me so much trouble in Paris, and as the official was examining my trunks, I assured him in French that I had nothing subject to duty; but he made no reply and deliberately handled every article in my luggage. He then cut the strings to the large packages of show bills. I asked him, in French, whether he understood that language. He gave a grunt, which was the only audible sound I could get out of him, and then laid my show bills and lithographs on his scales as if to weigh them. I was almost distracted, when an English gentleman who spoke German, kindly offered to act as my interpreter.

“Please to tell him,” said I, “that those bills and lithographs are not articles of commerce; that they are simply advertisements.”

My English friend did as I requested; but it was of no use; the custom-house officer kept piling them upon his scales. I grew more excited.

“Please tell him I give them away,” I said. The translation of my assertion into German did not help me; a double grunt from the functionary was the only response. Tom Thumb, meanwhile, jumped about like a little monkey for he was fairly delighted at my worry and perplexity. Finally, I said to my new found English friend: “Be good enough to tell the officer to keep the bills if he wants them, and that I will not pay duty on them any how.”

He was duly informed of my determination, but he was immovable. He lighted his huge Dutch pipe, got the exact weight, and marking it down, handed it to a clerk, who copied it on his book, and solemnly passed it over to another clerk, who copied it on still another book; a third clerk then took it, and copied it on to a printed bill, the size of a half letter sheet, which was duly stamped in red ink with several official devices. By this time I was in a profuse perspiration; and as the document passed from clerk to clerk, I told them they need not trouble themselves to make out a bill for I would not pay it; they would get no duty and they might keep the property.

To be sure, I could not spare the placards for any length of time, for they were exceedingly valuable to me as advertisements and I could not easily have duplicated them in Germany; but I was determined that I would not pay duties on articles which were not merchandise. Every transfer, therefore, of the bill to a new clerk, gave me a fresh twinge, for I imagined that every clerk added more charges, and every charge was a tighter turn to the vise which held my fingers. Finally, the last clerk defiantly thrust in my face the terrible official document, on which were scrawled certain cabalistic characters, signifying the amount of money I should be forced to pay to the German government before I could have my property. I would not touch it; but resolved I would really leave my packages until I could communicate with one of our consuls in Germany, and I said as much to the English gentleman who had kindly interpreted for me.

He took the bill, and examining it, burst into a loud laugh. “Why, it is but fifteen kreutzers!” he said.

“How much is that?” I asked, feeling for the golden sovereigns in my pocket.

“Sixpence!” was the reply.

I was astonished and delighted, and as I handed out the money, I begged him to tell the officials that



the custom house charge would not pay the cost of the paper on which it was written. But this was a very fair illustration of sundry red-tape dealings in other countries as well as in Germany.

I found Baden a delightful little town, cleaner and neater than any city I had ever visited. I learned afterwards that Mr. Benazet, the lessee of the kurasal and gambling house, was compelled annually to expend large sums for keeping the streets and public places clean. Indeed, he could well afford to do so, as one would readily perceive upon witnessing the vast amounts of money which were daily lost by the men and women of nearly all nations, upon his tables of roulette and rouge et noir.

The town has all the characteristics and accompaniments of a first-class watering-place,—a theatre, public library, and several very fine hotels. The springs are presumed to be the inducements which draw hundreds of invalids to Baden-Baden every summer, but the gaming tables are the real attractions to thousands of far weaker persons who spend the entire season in gambling. It is no unusual thing to see ladies sitting around these gaming tables, betting their silver and gold pieces, until they lose five hundred or a thousand dollars, while men frequently “invest” many times these amounts. If they happen to be winners, they are very sure to be tempted to try again; and thus in the long run succumb to the “advantage” which is given in the game to the bankers over the “betters.”

The games open at eleven o’clock every morning, Sundays included, and close at eleven o’clock at night. Players have been known to sit at the table, without once rising, even to eat or to drink, through the entire day and night session. Very early in the day, however, many a player finds himself penniless, and, in such case, if he does not step to some quiet place and blow his brains out, the proprietor of the “hell” will present to him money enough to carry him at least fifty miles from Baden-Baden.

A few days before my arrival, a young lady hung herself. Indeed, several suicides occur in all the German spas every year from the one cause—ruin by gambling; but so callous do the players, as well as the card-dealers become, that I can easily credit a story told me at Homburg, the greatest gambling place in Europe: A Frenchman, sitting at the table where scores of others were betting their money, lost his last sou, and immediately drew a razor from his pocket and cut his throat. The circumstance was scarcely sufficient to induce the players to raise their eyes from the cards;—it was a mere incident, an episode in matters more important. A sheet was thrown over the body, and as the servants quietly removed the corpse, some one slipped into the vacated chair, the dealer crying out in French, “make your bets, gentlemen,” and the play went on as usual.

In due time, when our preliminary arrangements were completed, the General’s attendants, carriage, ponies and liveried coachman and footmen arrived at Baden-Baden and were soon seen in the streets. The excitement was intense and increased from day to day. Several crowned heads, princes, lords and ladies who were spending the season at Baden-Baden, with a vast number of wealthy pleasure seekers and travellers, crowded the saloon in which the General exhibited during the entire time we remained in the place. The charges for admission were much higher than had been demanded in any other city.

Some time before I left America I received several letters from a young man residing in the Black Forest in regard to a wonderful orchestrion which he was building and which he wished to sell or send to me for exhibition. When he saw the accounts of my arrival with Tom Thumb at Baden-Baden, he announced his willingness to bring his orchestrion and set it up in that place so that I could see and hear it. His letter was forwarded to me at Frankfort and I replied that my engagements were made many days in advance, that my time was invaluable, but that if he would have his orchestrion set up and in perfect order at such a time on such a day I would be there promptly to see it. Arriving at the appointed time, I found that he had not completed his work. The beautiful case was up, but the interior was unfinished. I was much disappointed, but not nearly so much so as was the orchestrion builder.

“Oh! Mr. Barnum,” said he, “I have worked with my men all last night and all to-day and I will work all night again and have it in readiness to-morrow morning. If you will only stay, I will go down on my knees to you; yes, Mr. Barnum, I will cut off one of my fingers for you, if you will only wait.”

But I could not wait, even under this strong and certainly extraordinary inducement, and was obliged to return to my engagements without hearing the orchestrion, which, I afterwards learned, was sold and set up in St. Petersburg.

From Baden-Baden we went to other celebrated German Spas, including Ems, Homburg and Weisbaden. These are all fashionable gambling as well as watering places, and during our visits they were crowded with visitors from all parts of Europe. Our exhibitions were attended by thousands who paid the same high prices that were charged for admission at Baden-Baden, and at Wiesbaden, among many distinguished persons, the King of Holland came to see the little General. These exhibitions were among the most profitable that had ever been given, and I was able to remit thousands of dollars to my agents in the United States to aid in re-purchasing my real estate and to assist in taking up such clock notes as were offered for sale. A short but very remunerative season at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, the home and starting-place of the great house of the Rothschilds, assisted me largely in carrying out these purposes.

There was the greatest difficulty, however, in getting permission to hold our exhibitions in Frankfort. When I applied for a permit at the office of the Commissary of Police, I was told that office hours were ended for the day, and that the chief official, who alone could give me the permit, had gone home to dinner. As I was in a great hurry to begin, I went to the residence of the Commissary, where I was met at the door by a gorgeously arrayed flunkey, to whom I stated my business, and who informed me that I could on no account see the distinguished official till dinner was over.

I waited one hour and a half by my watch for that mighty man to dine, and then he condescended to admit me to his presence. When I had stated my business, he demanded to know why I had not applied to him at his office in the proper hours, declaring that he would do no business with me at his house, and that I must come to him to-morrow. I went, and after a great deal of questioning and delay, I received the sought-for license to exhibit; but I have never seen more red-tape wound up on a single reel. All my men, all Tom Thumb’s attendants, the General and myself, in addition to showing our passports, were obliged to register our names, ages, occupations, and what not, in a huge book, and to answer all sorts of questions. At last we were permitted to go, and we opened our doors to the throng that came to see the General.

But a day or two after our exhibitions began, came a messenger with a command that I should appear before the Commissary of Police. I was very much frightened, I confess; I was sure that some of my men had been doing or saying something which had offended the authorities, and although I was conscious that my own conduct had been circumspect, I started for the police office in fear and trembling. On the way, I met Mr. Henry J. Raymond, editor of the New York Times, who was in company with a gentleman from Ohio, to whom he introduced me, and thereupon I stated my trouble, and my opinion that I was about to be fined, imprisoned, possibly beheaded,—I knew not what.

“Don’t be alarmed,” said Mr. Raymond, “we will keep an eye on the proceedings, and if you get into trouble we will try to get you out.”

Arriving at head-quarters, I was solemnly shown into the private office of the Commissary who asked me to be seated, and then rose and locked the door. This movement was by no means calculated to calm my agitation, and I at once exclaimed, in the best French I could summon:

“Sir, I demand an interpreter.”

“We do not need one,” he replied; “I can understand your French, and you can understand mine; I wish to consult you confidentially on a very private matter, and one that concerns me deeply.”

Somewhat reassured at this remarkable announcement, I begged him to proceed, which he did as follows:

“Do not be uneasy, sir, as this matter wholly affects me; I must state to you in entire secrecy that the half of my whole fortune is invested in the bonds of one of your American railways (giving me the name of the road), and as I have received no interest for a long time I am naturally alarmed for the safety of my property. I wish to know if the road is good for anything, and if so, why the interest on the bonds is not paid.”

I was happy to tell him that I had met that very morning a gentleman from Ohio who was well acquainted with the condition of this road, which was in his vicinity at home, and that I would speedily derive from him the desired information. The Commissary overwhelmed me with profuse thanks, adding: “Remember, the half of my entire fortune is at stake.”

Impressed with the magnitude of the loss he might be called upon to suffer, I ventured, as I was going out, to ask him the amount of his investment.

“Four thousand dollars,” was the reply.

When I thought of his liveried lackeys, his house, his style, his dignity, and his enormous consequence, I could not but smile to think that all these things were supported on his small salary and an “entire” fortune of $8,000, one-half of which was invested in the bonds of a doubtful American railway company.

We exhibited at Mayence and several other places in the vicinity, reaping golden harvests everywhere, and then went down the Rhine to Cologne. The journey down the river was very pleasant and we duly “did” the scenery and lions on the way. The boats were very ill-provided with sleeping accommodations, and one night, as I saw our party must sit up, I suggested that we should play a social game of euchre if we could get the cards. The clerk of the boat was prompt in affording the gratifying intelligence that he had cards to sell and I bought a pack, paying him a good round price. Immediately thereafter, the clerk, pocketing the money, stated that “it was nine o’clock and according to the regulations he must turn out all the lights”—which he did, leaving us to play cards, if we wished to, in the dark.

The slowness of the boat was a great annoyance and on one occasion I said to the captain:

“Look here! confound your slow old boat. I have a great mind to put on an opposition American line and burst up your business.”

He knew me, and knew something of Yankee enterprise, and he was evidently alarmed, but a thought came to his relief:

“You cannot do it,” he triumphantly exclaimed; “the government will not permit you to run more than nine miles an hour.”

We remained at Cologne only long enough to visit the famous cathedral and to see other curiosities and works of art, and then pushed on to Rotterdam and Amsterdam.




HOLLAND gave me more genuine satisfaction than any other foreign country I have ever visited, if I except Great Britain. Redeemed as a large portion of the whole surface of the land has been from the bottom of the sea by the wonderful dykes, which are monuments of the industry of whole generations of human beavers, Holland seems to me the most curious as well as interesting country in the world. The people, too, with their quaint costumes, their extraordinary cleanliness, their thrift, industry and frugality, pleased me very much. It is the universal testimony of all travellers that the Hollanders are the neatest and most economical people among all nations. So far as cleanliness is concerned, in Holland it is evidently not next to, but far ahead of godliness. It is rare, indeed, to meet a ragged, dirty, or drunken person. The people are very temperate and economical in their habits; and even the very rich,—and there is a vast amount of wealth in the country—live with great frugality, though all of the people live well.

As for the scenery I cannot say much for it, since it is only diversified by thousands of windmills, which are made to do all kinds of work, from grinding grain to pumping water from the inside of the dykes back to the sea again. As I exhibited the General only in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and to no great profit in either city, we spent most of our time in rambling about to see what was to be seen. In the country villages it seemed as if every house was scrubbed twice and white-washed once every day in the week, excepting Sunday. Some places were almost painfully pure, and I was in one village where horses and cattle were not allowed to go through the streets, and no one was permitted to wear their boots or shoes in the houses. There is a general and constant exercise of brooms, pails, floor brushes and mops all over Holland, and in some places even, this kind of thing is carried so far, I am told, that the only trees set out are scrub-oaks.

The reason, I think, why our exhibitions were not more successful in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, is that the people are too frugal to spend much money for amusement, but they and their habits and ways afforded us so much amusement, that we were quite willing they should give our entertainment the “go by,” as they generally did. We were in Amsterdam at the season of “Kremis,” or the annual Fair which is held in all the principal towns, and where shows of all descriptions are open, at prices for admission ranging from one to five pennies, and are attended by nearly the whole population. For the people generally, this one great holiday seems all-sufficient for the whole year. I went through scores of booths, where curiosities and monstrosities of all kinds were exhibited, and was able to make some purchases and engagements for the American Museum. Among these, was the Albino family, consisting of a man, his wife, and son, who were by far the most interesting and attractive specimens of their class I had ever seen.

We visited the Hague, the capital and the finest city in Holland. It is handsomely and regularly laid out, and contains a beautiful theatre, a public picture-gallery, which contains some of the best works of Vandyke, Paul Potter, and other Dutch masters, while the museum is especially rich in rarities from China and Japan. When we arrived at the Hague, Mr. August Belmont, who had been the United States Minister at that court, had just gone home; but I heard many encomiums passed upon him and his family, and I was told some pretty good stories of his familiarity with the king, and of the “jolly times” these two personages frequently enjoyed together. I did not miss visiting the great government museum, as I wished particularly to see the rich collection of Japan ware and arms, made during the many years when the Dutch carried on almost exclusively the entire foreign trade with the Japanese. I spent several days in minutely examining these curious manufactures of a people, who were then almost as little known to nations generally as are the inhabitants of the planet Jupiter.

On the first day of my visit to this museum, I stood for an hour before a large case containing a most unique and extraordinary collection of fabulous animals, made from paper and other materials, and looking as natural and genuine as the stuffed skins of any animals in the American Museum. There were serpents two yards long, with a head and pair of feet at each end; frogs as large as a man, with human hands and feet; turtles with three heads; monkeys with two heads and six legs; scores of equally curious monstrosities; and at least two dozen mermaids, of all sorts and sizes. Looking at these “sirens” I easily divined from whence the Fejee mermaid originated.

While I was standing near this remarkable cabinet the superintendent of the Museum came, and, introducing himself to me, asked me from what country I came and how I liked the Museum. I told him that I was an American and that the collection was interesting and remarkable, adding:

“You seem to have a great variety of mermaids here.”

“Yes,” he replied; “the Japanese exercise great ingenuity in manufacturing fabulous animals, especially mermaids; and by the way,” he added, “your great showman, Barnum, is said to have succeeded in humbugging the Americans to a very considerable extent, by means of what he claimed to be a veritable mermaid.”

I said that such was the story, though I believed that Barnum only used the mermaid as an advertisement for his Museum.

“Perhaps so,” responded the superintendent, “but he is a shrewd and industrious manager. We have had frequent applications from his European agents for duplicates from our collection and have occasionally sold some to them to be sent to America.”

The superintendent then politely asked me to go into his office, as he had something to offer me, which, as an American gentleman, he was sure I would prize highly; but the business was of a strictly confidential character. He asked me to be seated, and cautiously locking the door and drawing his chair near to mine, he informed me in a tone scarcely above a whisper that he was the executor of the estate of a wealthy gentleman, recently deceased, with power to dispose of the property, which included a large number of exceedingly valuable ancient and modern paintings.

“You must be well aware,” he continued, “that my countrymen would be extremely unwilling to permit these precious specimens of art to leave Holland, but,” and here he gave my hand a slight but most friendly squeeze, “I have such a high respect, I might almost say reverence for your great republic that I am only too happy in the opportunity now afforded me of allowing you to take a very few of these fine paintings to America at an unprecedentedly low price.”

I thought he was a little too generous, and I gave him what the Irishman called an “evasive answer;” but this only seemed to stimulate him to further efforts to effect a sale,—so he turned to his memorandum book and pointed out the names of gentlemen from Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans, who had ordered one or more cases from this large gallery of paintings. This exhibition was conclusive, and I at once said that I would not decide to purchase till I returned from Amsterdam. I quite understood the whole thing; but not to leave my anxious friend too long in suspense I quietly handed my card to him, remarking, “Perhaps you have heard of that name before.”

His cheeks were fairly crimson; “surely,” said he, “you are not Mr. Barnum, of the New York Museum?”

“Nobody else,” I replied with a laugh.

He stammered out an apology for his mermaid remarks, but I patted him on the shoulder in a friendly way, telling him it was “all right,” and that I considered it a capital joke. This re-assured him and we then had a very pleasant half-hour’s conversation, in which he gave me several valuable hints of curiosities to be procured at the Hague and elsewhere in Holland, and we parted good friends.

A week afterwards, a young gentleman from Boston introduced himself to me at Amsterdam and remarked that he knew I was there for he had been so informed by the museum superintendent at the Hague. “And, by the by,” he added, “as soon as this superintendent discovered I was from America, he told me if I would go into his office he would show me the greatest curiosity in the Museum. I went, and he pointed to the card of ‘P. T. Barnum’ which he had conspicuously nailed up over his desk; he then told me about your visit to the museum last week.”

“Did he sell you any paintings?” I asked.

“No,” was the reply; “but he informed me that as executor of an estate, including a fine gallery, he could sell me a few cases at a very low price, mainly on account of his high regard for the great republic to which I belonged.”

I have no doubt that this estate is still unsettled, and that a few of the valuable paintings, if cheap Dutch artists keep up the supply, are still for sale to the public generally, and to representatives of the revered republic especially. Undoubtedly this kind of business will continue so long as Waterloo relics are manufactured at Birmingham, and are sent to be plowed in and dug up again on the memorable field where Wellington met Napoleon. And how many very worthy persons there are, like the superintendent of the Hague Museum, who have been terribly shocked at the story of the Fejee Mermaid and the Woolly Horse!

After a truly delightful visit in Holland, we went back to England; and, proceeding to Manchester, opened our exhibition. For several days the hall was crowded to overflowing at each of the three, and sometimes four, entertainments we gave every day. By this time, my wife and two youngest daughters had come over to London, and I hired furnished lodgings in the suburbs where they could live within the strictest limits of economy. It was necessary now for me to return for a few weeks to America, to assist personally in forwarding a settlement of the clock difficulties. So leaving the little General in the hands of trusty and competent agents to carry on the exhibitions in my absence, I set my face once more towards home and the west, and took steamer at Liverpool for New York.

The trip, like most of the passages which I have made across the Atlantic, was an exceedingly pleasant one. These frequent voyages were to me the rests, the reliefs from almost unremitting industry, anxiety, and care, and I always managed to have more or less fun on board ship every time I crossed the ocean. During the present trip, for amusement and to pass away the time, the passengers got up a number of mock trials which afforded a vast deal of fun. A judge was selected, jurymen drawn, prisoners arraigned, counsel employed, and all the formalities of a court established. I have the vanity to think that if my good fortune had directed me to that profession I should have made a very fair lawyer, for I have always had a great fondness for debate and especially for the cross-examination of witnesses, unless that witness was P. T. Barnum in examination under supplementary proceedings at the instance of some note-shaver who had bought a clock note at a discount of thirty-six per cent. In this mock court, I was unanimously chosen as prosecuting attorney, and as the court was established expressly to convict, I had no difficulty in carrying the jury and securing the punishment of the prisoner. A small fine was generally imposed, and the fund thus collected was given to a poor sailor boy who had fallen from the mast and broken his leg.

After several of these trials had been held, a dozen or more of the passengers secretly put their heads together and resolved to place the “showman” on trial for his life. An indictment covering twenty pages was drawn up by several legal gentlemen among the passengers, charging him with being the Prince of Humbugs, and enumerating a dozen special counts, containing charges of the most absurd and ridiculous description. Witnesses were then brought together, and privately instructed what to say and do. Two or three days were devoted to arranging this mighty prosecution. When everything was ready, I was arrested, and the formidable indictment read to me. I saw at a glance that time and talent had been brought into requisition, and that my trial was to be more elaborate than any that had preceded it. I asked for half an hour to prepare for my defence, which was granted. Meanwhile, seats were arranged to accommodate the court and spectators, and extra settees were placed for the ladies on the upper deck, where they could look down, see and hear all that transpired. Curiosity was on tip-toe, for it was evident that this was to be a long, exciting and laughable trial. At the end of half an hour the judge was on the bench, the jury had taken their places; the witnesses were ready; the counsel for the prosecution, four in number, with pens, ink, and paper in profusion, were seated and everything seemed ready. I was brought in by a special constable, the indictment read, and I was asked to plead guilty, or not guilty. I rose, and in a most solemn manner stated that I could not conscientiously plead guilty or not guilty; that I had in fact committed many of the acts charged in the indictment, but these acts I was ready to show were not criminal, but on the contrary, worthy of praise. My plea was received and the first witness called.

He testified to having visited the prisoner’s Museum, and of being humbugged by the Fejee Mermaid; the nurse of Washington; and by other curiosities, natural and unnatural. The questions and answers having been all arranged in advance, everything worked smoothly. Acting as my own counsel, I cross-examined the witness by simply asking whether he saw anything else in the Museum besides what he had mentioned.

“Oh! yes, I saw thousands of other things.”

“Were they curious?”

“Certainly; many of them very astonishing.”

“Did you witness a dramatic representation in the Museum?”

“Yes, sir, a very good one.”

“What did you pay for all this?”

“Twenty-five cents.”

“That will do, sir; you can step down.”

A second, third and fourth witness were called, and the examination was similar to the foregoing. Another witness then appeared to testify in regard to another count in the indictment. He stated that for several weeks he was the guest of the prisoner at his country residence, Iranistan, and he gave a most amusing description of the various schemes and contrivances which were there originated for the purpose of being carried out at some future day in the Museum.

“How did you live there?” asked one of the counsel for the prosecution.

“Very well, indeed, in the daytime,” was the reply; “plenty of the best to eat and drink, except liquors. In bed, however, it was impossible to sleep. I rose the first night, struck a light, and on examination found myself covered with myriads of little bugs, so small as to be almost imperceptible. By using my microscope I discovered them to be infantile bedbugs. After the first night I was obliged to sleep in the coach-house in order to escape this annoyance.”

Of course this elicited much mirth. The first question put on the cross-examination was this:

“Are you a naturalist, sir?”

The witness hesitated. In all the drilling that had taken place before the trial, neither the counsel nor witnesses had thought of what questions might come up in the cross-examination, and now, not seeing the drift of question, the witness seemed a little bewildered, and the counsel for the prosecution looked puzzled.

The question was repeated with some emphasis.

“No, sir!” replied the witness, hesitatingly, “I am not a naturalist.”

“Then, sir, not being a naturalist, dare you affirm that those microscopic insects were not humbugs instead of bedbugs”—(here the prisoner was interrupted by a universal shout of laughter, in which the solemn judge himself joined)—“and if they were humbugs, I suppose that even the learned counsel opposed to me, will not claim that they were out of place?”

“They may have been humbugs,” replied the witness.

“That will do, sir—you may go,” said I; and at the same time turning to the array of counsel, I remarked, with a smile, “You had better have a naturalist for your next witness, gentlemen.”

“Don’t be alarmed, sir, we have got one, and we will now introduce him,” replied the counsel.

The next witness testified that he was a planter from Georgia, that some years since the prisoner visited his plantation with a show, and that while there he discovered an old worthless donkey belonging to the planter, and bought him for five dollars—the next year the witness visited Iranistan, the country seat of the prisoner, and, while walking about the grounds, his old donkey, recognizing his former master, brayed; “whereupon,” continued the witness, “I walked up to the animal and found that two men were engaged in sticking wool upon him, and this animal was afterwards exhibited by the prisoner as the woolly horse.”

The whole court—spectators, and even the “prisoner” himself were convulsed with laughter at the gravity with which the planter gave his very ludicrous testimony.

“What evidence have you,” I inquired, “that this was the same donkey which you sold to me?”

“The fact that the animal recognized me, as was evident from his braying as soon as he saw me.”

“Are you a naturalist, sir?”

“Yes, I am,” replied the planter, with firm emphasis, as much as to say, you can’t catch me as you did the other witness.

“Oh! you are a naturalist, are you? Then, sir, I ask you, as a naturalist, do you not know it to be a fact in natural history that one jackass always brays as soon as he sees another?”

This question was received with shouts of laughter, in the midst of which the nonplussed witness backed out of court, and all the efforts of special constables, and even the high sheriff himself, were unavailing in getting him again on the witness stand.

This trial lasted two days, to the great delight of all on board. After my success with the “naturalist” not one half of the witnesses would appear against me. In my final argument I sifted the testimony, analyzed its bearings, ruffled the learned counsel, disconcerted the witnesses, flattered the judge and jury, and when the judge had delivered his charge, the jury acquitted me without leaving their seats. The judge received the verdict, and then announced that he should fine the naturalist for the mistake he made, as to the cause of the donkey’s braying, and he should also fine the several witnesses, who, through fear of the cross-fire, had refused to testify.

The trial afforded a pleasant topic of conversation for the rest of the voyage; and the morning before arriving in port, a vote of thanks was passed to me, in consideration of the amusement I had intentionally and unintentionally furnished to the passengers during the voyage.

After my arrival in New York, oftentimes in passing up and down Broadway I saw old and prosperous friends coming, but before I came anywhere near them, if they espied me they would dodge into a store, or across the street, or opportunely meet some one with whom they had pressing business, or they would be very much interested in something that was going on over the way or on top of the City Hall. I was delighted at this, for it gave me at once a new sensation and a new experience. “Ah, ha!” I said to myself; “my butterfly friends, I know you now; and what is more to the point, if ever I get out of this bewilderment of broken clock-wheels, I shall not forget you”; and I heartily thanked the old clock concern for giving me the opportunity to learn this sad but most needful lesson. I had a very few of the same sort of experiences in Bridgeport, and they proved valuable to me.

Mr. James D. Johnson, of Bridgeport, one of my assignees, who had written to me that my personal presence might facilitate a settlement of my affairs, told me soon after my arrival that there was no probability of disposing of Iranistan at present, and that I might as well move my family into the house. I had arrived in August and my family followed me from London in September, and October 20, 1857, my second daughter, Helen, was married in the house of her elder sister, Mrs. D. W. Thompson, in Bridgeport, to Mr. Samuel H. Hurd.

Meanwhile, Iranistan which had been closed and unoccupied for more than two years, was once more opened to the carpenters and painters whom Mr. Johnson sent there to put the house in order. He agreed with me that it was best to keep the property as long as possible, and in the interval, till a purchaser for the estate appeared, or till it was forced to auction, to take up the clock notes whenever they were offered. The workmen who were employed in the house were specially instructed not to smoke there, but nevertheless it was subsequently discovered that some of the men were in the habit occasionally of going into the main dome to eat their dinners which they brought with them, and that they stayed there awhile after dinner to smoke their pipes. In all probability, one of these lighted pipes was left on the cushion which covered the circular seat in the dome and ignited the tow with which the cushion was stuffed. It may have been days and even weeks before this smouldering tow fire burst into flame.

I was staying at the Astor House, in New York, when, on the morning of December 18, 1857, I received a telegram from my brother Philo F. Barnum, dated at Bridgeport and informing me that Iranistan was burned to the ground that morning. The alarm was given at eleven o’clock on the night of the 17th, and the fire burned till one o’clock on the morning of the 18th. My beautiful Iranistan was gone! This was not only a serious loss to my estate, for it had probably cost at least $150,000, but it was generally regarded as a public calamity. It was the only building in its peculiar style of architecture, of any pretension, in America, and many persons visited Bridgeport every year expressly to see Iranistan. The insurance on the mansion had usually been about $62,000, but I had let some of the policies expire without renewing them, so that at the time of the fire there was only $28,000 insurance on the property. Most of the furniture and pictures were saved, generally in a damaged state.

Subsequently, my assignees sold the grounds and out-houses of Iranistan to the late Elias Howe, Jr., the celebrated inventor of the needle for sewing-machines. The property brought $50,000, which, with the $28,000 insurance, went into my assets to satisfy clock creditors. It was Mr. Howe’s intention to erect a splendid mansion on the estate, but his untimely and lamented death prevented the fulfilment of the plan. The estate (in 1869) was to be divided among Mr. Howe’s three children and in all probability three houses will be built upon the beautiful grounds.




SEEING the necessity of making more money to assist in extricating me from my financial difficulties, and leaving my affairs in the hands of Mr. James D. Johnson—my wife and youngest daughter, Pauline, boarding with my eldest daughter, Mrs. Thompson, in Bridgeport—early in 1858, I went back to England, and took Tom Thumb to all the principal places in Scotland and Wales, giving many exhibitions and making much money which was remitted, as heretofore, to my agents and assignees in America.

Finding, after a while, that my personal attention was not needed in the Tom Thumb exhibitions and confiding him almost wholly to agents who continued the tour through Great Britain, under my general advice and instruction, I turned my individual attention to a new field. At the suggestion of several American gentlemen, resident in London, I prepared a lecture on “The Art of Money-Getting.” I told my friends that, considering my clock complications, I thought I was more competent to speak on “The Art of Money Losing”; but they encouraged me by reminding me that I could not have lost money, if I had not previously possessed the faculty of making it. They further assured me that my name having been intimately associated with the Jenny Lind concerts and other great money-making enterprises, the lecture would be sure to prove attractive and profitable.

The old clocks ticked in my ear the reminder that I should improve every opportunity to “turn an honest penny,” and my lecture was duly announced for delivery in the great St. James’ Hall, Regent Street, Piccadilly. It was thoroughly advertised—a feature I never neglected—and, at the appointed time, the hall, which would hold three thousand people, was completely filled, at prices of three and two shillings, (seventy-five and fifty cents,) per seat, according to location. It was the evening of December 29, 1858. Since my arrival in Great Britain the previous spring, I had spent months in travelling with General Tom Thumb, and now I was to present myself in a new capacity to the English public as a lecturer. I could see in my audience all my American friends who had suggested this effort; all my theatrical and literary friends; and as I saw several gentlemen whom I knew to be connected with the leading London papers, I felt sure that my success or failure would be duly chronicled next morning. There was, moreover, a general audience that seemed eager to see the “showman” of whom they had heard so much, and to catch from his lips the “art” which, in times past, had contributed so largely to his success in life. Stimulated by these things, I tried to do my best, and I think I did it. The following is the lecture substantially as it was delivered, though it was interspersed with many anecdotes and illustrations which are necessarily omitted; and I should add, that the subjoined copy being adapted to the meridian in which it has been repeatedly delivered, contains numerous local allusions to men and matters in the United States, which, of course, did not appear in the original draft prepared for my English audiences:


In the United States, where we have more land than people, it is not at all difficult for persons in good health to make money. In this comparatively new field there are so many avenues of success open, so many vocations which are not crowded, that any person of either sex who is willing, at least for the time being, to engage in any respectable occupation that offers, may find lucrative employment.

Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done. But however easy it may be found to make money, I have no doubt many of my hearers will agree it is the most difficult thing in the world to keep it. The road to wealth is, as Dr. Franklin truly says, “as plain as the road to mill.” It consists simply in expending less than we earn; that seems to be a very simple problem. Mr. Micawber, one of those happy creations of the genial Dickens, puts the case in a strong light when he says that to have an income of twenty pounds, per annum, and spend twenty pounds and sixpence, is to be the most miserable of men; whereas, to have an income of only twenty pounds, and spend but nineteen pounds and sixpence, is to be the happiest of mortals. Many of my hearers may say, “we understand this; this is economy, and we know economy is wealth; we know we can’t eat our cake and keep it also.” Yet I beg to say that perhaps more cases of failure arise from mistakes on this point than almost any other. The fact is, many people think they understand economy when they really do not.

True economy is misapprehended, and people go through life without properly comprehending what that principle is. Some say, “I have an income of so much, and here is my neighbor who has the same; yet every year he gets something ahead and I fall short; why is it? I know all about economy.” He thinks he does, but he does not. There are many who think that economy consists in saving cheese-parings and candle ends, in cutting off two pence from the laundress’ bill and doing all sorts of little, mean, dirty things. Economy is not meanness. The misfortune is also that this class of persons let their economy apply in only one direction. They fancy they are so wonderfully economical in saving a half-penny where they ought to spend two pence, that they think they can afford to squander in other directions. A few years ago, before kerosene oil was discovered or thought of, one might stop over night at almost any farmer’s house in the agricultural districts and get a very good supper, but after supper he might attempt to read in the sitting room, and would find it impossible with the inefficient light of one candle. The hostess, seeing his dilemma, would say: “It is rather difficult to read here evenings; the proverb says ‘you must have a ship at sea in order to be able to burn two candles at once;’ we never have an extra candle except on extra occasions.” These extra occasions occur, perhaps, twice a year. In this way the good woman saves five, six, or ten dollars in that time; but the information which might be derived from having the extra light would, of course, far outweigh a ton of candles.

But the trouble does not end here. Feeling that she is so economical in tallow candles, she thinks she can afford to go frequently to the village and spend twenty or thirty dollars for ribbons and furbelows, many of which are not necessary. This false economy may frequently be seen in men of business, and in those instances it often runs to writing paper. You find good business men who save all the old envelopes, and scraps, and would not tear a new sheet of paper, if they could avoid it, for the world. This is all very well; they may in this way save five or ten dollars a year, but being so economical (only in note paper), they think they can afford to waste time; to have expensive parties, and to drive their carriages. This is an illustration of Dr. Franklin’s “saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung-hole”; “penny wise and pound foolish.” Punch in speaking of this “one-idea” class of people says “they are like the man who bought a penny herring for his family’s dinner and then hired a coach and four to take it home.” I never knew a man to succeed by practising this kind of economy.

True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress; live on plainer food if need be; so that under all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income. A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way the desired result is attained. It requires some training, perhaps, to accomplish this economy, but when once used to it, you will find there is more satisfaction in rational saving, than in irrational spending. Here is a recipe which I recommend; I have found it to work an excellent cure for extravagance and especially for mistaken economy: When you find that you have no surplus at the end of the year, and yet have a good income, I advise you to take a few sheets of paper and form them into a book and mark down every item of expenditure. Post it every day or week in two columns, one headed “necessaries” or even “comforts,” and the other headed “luxuries,” and you will find that the latter column will be double, treble, and frequently ten times greater than the former. The real comforts of life cost but a small portion of what most of us can earn. Dr. Franklin says “it is the eyes of others and not our own eyes which ruin us. If all the world were blind except myself I should not care for fine clothes or furniture.” It is the fear of what Mrs. Grundy may say that keeps the noses of many worthy families to the grindstone. In America many persons like to repeat “we are all free and equal,” but it is a great mistake in more senses than one.

That we are born “free and equal” is a glorious truth in one sense, yet we are not all born equally rich, and we never shall be. One may say, “there is a man who has an income of fifty thousand dollars per annum, while I have but one thousand dollars; I knew that fellow when he was poor like myself; now he is rich and thinks he is better than I am; I will show him that I am as good as he is; I will go and buy a horse and buggy;—no, I cannot do that but I will go and hire one and ride this afternoon on the same road that he does, and thus prove to him that I am as good as he is.”

My friend, you need not take that trouble, you can easily prove that you are “as good as he is”; you have only to behave as well as he does, but you cannot make anybody believe that you are as rich as he is. Besides, if you put on these “airs,” and waste your time and spend your money, your poor wife will be obliged to scrub her fingers off at home, and buy her tea two ounces at a time, and everything else in proportion, in order that you may keep up “appearances,” and after all, deceive nobody. On the other hand, Mrs. Smith may say that her next-door neighbor married Johnson for his money, and “everybody says so.” She has a nice one thousand dollar camel’s hair shawl, and she will make Smith get her an imitation one and she will sit in a pew right next to her neighbor in church, in order to prove that she is her equal.

My good woman you will not get ahead in the world, if your vanity and envy thus take the lead. In this country, where we believe the majority ought to rule, we ignore that principle in regard to fashion, and let a handful of people, calling themselves the aristocracy, run up a false standard of perfection, and in endeavoring to rise to that standard, we constantly keep ourselves poor; all the time digging away for the sake of outside appearances. How much wiser to be a “law unto ourselves” and say, “we will regulate our out-go by our income, and lay up something for a rainy day.” People ought to be as sensible on the subject of money-getting as on any other subject. Like causes produce like effects. You cannot accumulate a fortune by taking the road that leads to poverty. It needs no prophet to tell us that those who live fully up to their means, without any thought of a reverse in this life, can never attain a pecuniary independence.

Men and women accustomed to gratify every whim and caprice, will find it hard, at first, to cut down their various unnecessary expenses, and will feel it a great self denial to live in a smaller house than they have been accustomed to, with less expensive furniture, less company, less costly clothing, fewer servants, a less number of balls, parties, theatre goings, carriage ridings, pleasure excursions, cigar smokings, liquor drinkings, and other extravagances; but, after all, if they will try the plan of laying by a “nest-egg,” or in other words, a small sum of money, at interest or judiciously invested in land, they will be surprised at the pleasure to be derived from constantly adding to their little “pile,” as well as from all the economical habits which are engendered by this course.

The old suit of clothes, and the old bonnet and dress, will answer for another season; the Croton or spring water will taste better than champagne; a cold bath and a brisk walk will prove more exhilarating than a ride in the finest coach; a social chat, an evening’s reading in the family circle, or an hour’s play of “hunt the slipper” and “blind man’s buff,” will be far more pleasant than a fifty or a five hundred dollar party, when the reflection on the difference in cost is indulged in by those who begin to know the pleasures of saving. Thousands of men are kept poor, and tens of thousands are made so after they have acquired quite sufficient to support them well through life, in consequence of laying their plans of living on too broad a platform. Some families expend twenty thousand dollars per annum, and some much more, and would scarcely know how to live on less, while others secure more solid enjoyment frequently on a twentieth part of that amount. Prosperity is a more severe ordeal than adversity, especially sudden prosperity. “Easy come, easy go,” is an old and true proverb. A spirit of pride and vanity, when permitted to have full sway, is the undying canker worm which gnaws the very vitals of a man’s worldly possessions, let them be small or great, hundreds or millions. Many persons, as they begin to prosper, immediately expand their ideas and commence expending for luxuries, until in a short time their expenses swallow up their income, and they become ruined in their ridiculous attempts to keep up appearances, and make a “sensation.”

I know a gentleman of fortune who says, that when he first began to prosper, his wife would have a new and elegant sofa. “That sofa,” he says, “cost me thirty thousand dollars!” When the sofa reached the house, it was found necessary to get chairs to match; then side-boards, carpets and tables “to correspond” with them, and so on through the entire stock of furniture; when at last it was found that the house itself was quite too small and old-fashioned for the furniture, and a new one was built to correspond with the new purchases; “thus,” added my friend, “summing up an outlay of thirty thousand dollars caused by that single sofa, and saddling on me, in the shape of servants, equipage, and the necessary expenses attendant upon keeping up a fine ‘establishment,’ a yearly outlay of eleven thousand dollars, and a tight pinch at that; whereas, ten years ago, we lived with much more real comfort, because with much less care, on as many hundreds. The truth is,” he continued, “that sofa would have brought me to inevitable bankruptcy, had not a most unexampled tide of prosperity kept me above it, and had I not checked the natural desire to ‘cut a dash.’ ”

The foundation of success in life is good health; that is the substratum of fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a fortune very well when he is sick. He has no ambition; no incentive; no force. Of course, there are those who have bad health and cannot help it; you cannot expect that such persons can accumulate wealth; but there are a great many in poor health who need not be so.

If, then, sound health is the foundation of success and happiness in life, how important it is that we should study the laws of health, which is but another expression for the laws of nature! The closer we keep to the laws of nature, the nearer we are to good health, and yet how many persons there are who pay no attention to natural laws, but absolutely transgress them, even against their own natural inclination. We ought to know that the “sin of ignorance” is never winked at in regard to the violation of nature’s laws; their infraction always brings the penalty. A child may thrust its finger into the flame without knowing it will burn, and so suffers; repentance even will not stop the smart. Many of our ancestors knew very little about the principle of ventilation. They did not know much about oxygen, whatever other “gin” they might have been acquainted with; and consequently, they built their houses with little seven-by-nine feet bedrooms, and these good old pious Puritans would lock themselves up in one of these cells, say their prayers, and go to bed. In the morning they would devoutly return thanks for the “preservation of their lives,” during the night, and nobody had better reason to be thankful. Probably some big crack in the window, or in the door, let in a little fresh air, and thus saved them.

Many persons knowingly violate the laws of nature against their better impulses, for the sake of fashion. For instance, there is one thing that nothing living except a vile worm ever naturally loved, and that is tobacco; yet how many persons there are who deliberately train an unnatural appetite, and overcome this implanted aversion for tobacco, to such a degree that they get to love it. They have got hold of a poisonous, filthy weed, or rather that takes a firm hold of them. Here are married men who run about spitting tobacco juice on the carpet and floors, and sometimes even upon their wives besides. They do not kick their wives out of doors like drunken men, but their wives, I have no doubt, often wish they were outside of the house. Another perilous feature is that this artificial appetite, like jealousy, “grows by what it feeds on”; when you love that which is unnatural, a stronger appetite is created for the hurtful thing than the natural desire for what is harmless. There is an old proverb which says that “habit is second nature,” but an artificial habit is stronger than nature. Take for instance an old tobacco-chewer; his love for the “quid” is stronger than his love for any particular kind of food. He can give up roast beef easier than give up the weed.

Young lads regret that they are not men; they would like to go to bed boys and wake up men; and to accomplish this they copy the bad habits of their seniors. Little Tommy and Johnny see their fathers or uncles smoke a pipe and they say, “If I could only do that I would be a man too; uncle John has gone out and left his pipe of tobacco, let us try it.” They take a match and light it, and then puff away. “We will learn to smoke; do you like it Johnny?” That lad dolefully replies: “Not very much; it tastes bitter”; by and by he grows pale, but he persists, and he soon offers up a sacrifice on the altar of fashion; but the boys stick to it and persevere until at last they conquer their natural appetites and become the victims of acquired tastes.

I speak “by the book,” for I have noticed its effects on myself, having gone so far as to smoke ten or fifteen cigars a day, although I have not used the weed during the last fourteen years, and never shall again. The more a man smokes, the more he craves smoking; the last cigar smoked, simply excites the desire for another, and so on incessantly.

Take the tobacco-chewer. In the morning when he gets up, he puts a quid in his mouth and keeps it there all day, never taking it out except to exchange it for a fresh one, or when he is going to eat; oh! yes, at intervals during the day and evening, many a chewer takes out the quid and holds it in his hand long enough to take a drink, and then pop it goes back again. This simply proves that the appetite for rum is even stronger than that for tobacco. When the tobacco chewer goes to your country seat and you show him your grapery and fruit house and the beauties of your garden, when you offer him some fresh, ripe fruit, and say, “My friend, I have got here the most delicious apples and pears and peaches and apricots; I have imported them from Spain, France and Italy,—just see those luscious grapes; there is nothing more delicious nor more healthy than ripe fruit, so help yourself; I want to see you delight yourself with these things,” he will roll the dear quid under his tongue and answer, “No, I thank you, I have got tobacco in my mouth.” His palate has become narcotized by the noxious weed, and he has lost, in a great measure, the delicate and enviable taste for fruits. This shows what expensive, useless and injurious habits men will get into. I speak from experience. I have smoked until I trembled like an aspen leaf, the blood rushed to my head, and I had a palpitation of the heart which I thought was heart disease, till I was almost killed with fright. When I consulted my physician, he said “break off tobacco using.” I was not only injuring my health and spending a great deal of money, but I was setting a bad example. I obeyed his counsel. No young man in the world ever looked so beautiful, as he thought he did, behind a fifteen cent cigar or a meerschaum!

These remarks apply with ten-fold force to the use of intoxicating drinks. To make money, requires a clear brain. A man has got to see that two and two make four; he must lay all his plans with reflection and forethought, and closely examine all the details and the ins and outs of business. As no man can succeed in business unless he has a brain to enable him to lay his plans, and reason to guide him in their execution, so, no matter how bountifully a man may be blessed with intelligence, if the brain is muddled, and his judgment warped by intoxicating drinks, it is impossible for him to carry on business successfully. How many good opportunities have passed, never to return, while a man was sipping a “social glass,” with his friend! How many foolish bargains have been made under the influence of the “nervine,” which temporarily makes its victim think he is rich. How many important chances have been put off until to-morrow, and then forever, because the wine cup has thrown the system into a state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so essential to success in business. Verily “wine is a mocker.” The use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, is as much an infatuation, as is the smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite as destructive to the success of the business man as the latter. It is an unmitigated evil, utterly indefensible in the light of philosophy, religion, or good sense. It is the parent of nearly every other evil in our country.

Don’t Mistake your Vocation.—The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes. Parents and guardians are often quite too negligent in regard to this. It is very common for a father to say, for example: “I have five boys. I will make Billy a clergyman; John a lawyer; Tom a doctor, and Dick a farmer.” He then goes into town and looks about to see what he will do with Sammy. He returns home and says “Sammy, I see watch-making is a nice, genteel business; I think I will make you a goldsmith.” He does this regardless of Sam’s natural inclinations, or genius.

We are all, no doubt, born for a wise purpose. There is as much diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born natural mechanics, while some have great aversion to machinery. Let a dozen boys of ten years get together and you will soon observe two or three are “whittling” out some ingenious device; working with locks or complicated machinery. When they were but five years old, their father could find no toy to please them like a puzzle. They are natural mechanics; but the other eight or nine boys have different aptitudes. I belong to the latter class; I never had the slightest love for mechanism; on the contrary, I have a sort of abhorrence for complicated machinery. I never had ingenuity enough to whittle a cider tap so it would not leak. I never could make a pen that I could write with, or understand the principle of a steam engine. If a man was to take such a boy as I was and attempt to make a watchmaker of him, the boy might, after an apprenticeship of five or seven years, be able to take apart and put together a watch; but all through life he would be working up hill and seizing every excuse for leaving his work and idling away his time. Watch making is repulsive to him.

Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed. I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find the right vocation. Yet we see many who have mistaken their calling, from the blacksmith up (or down) to the clergyman. You will see for instance, that extraordinary linguist the “learned blacksmith,” who ought to have been a teacher of languages; and you may have seen lawyers, doctors and clergymen who were better fitted by nature for the anvil or the lapstone.

Select the Right Location.—After securing the right vocation, you must be careful to select the proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper, and they say it requires a genius to “know how to keep a hotel.” You might conduct a hotel like clockwork, and provide satisfactorily for five hundred guests every day; yet, if you should locate your house in a small village where there is no railroad communication or public travel, the location would be your ruin. It is equally important that you do not commence business where there are already enough to meet all demands in the same occupation. I remember a case which illustrates this subject. When I was in London in 1858, I was passing down Holborn with an English friend and came to the “penny shows.” They had immense cartoons outside, portraying the wonderful curiosities to be seen “all for a penny.” Being a little in the “show line” myself, I said “let us go in here.” We soon found ourselves in the presence of the illustrious showman, and he proved to be the sharpest man in that line I had ever met. He told us some extraordinary stories in reference to his bearded ladies, his Albinos, and his Armadillos, which we could hardly believe, but thought it “better to believe it than look after the proof.” He finally begged to call our attention to some wax statuary, and showed us a lot of the dirtiest and filthiest wax figures imaginable. They looked as if they had not seen water since the Deluge.

“What is there so wonderful about your statuary?” I asked.

“I beg you not to speak so satirically,” he replied, “Sir, these are not Madam Tussaud’s wax figures, all covered with gilt and tinsel and imitation diamonds, and copied from engravings and photographs. Mine, sir, were taken from life. Whenever you look upon one of those figures, you may consider that you are looking upon the living individual.”

Glancing casually at them, I saw one labelled “Henry VIII.,” and feeling a little curious upon seeing that it looked like Calvin Edson, the living skeleton, I said:

“Do you call that ‘Henry the Eighth’?”

He replied, “Certainly, sir; it was taken from life at Hampton Court by special order of his majesty, on such a day.”

He would have given the hour of the day if I had insisted; I said “everybody knows that ‘Henry VIII,’ was a great stout old king, and that figure is lean and lank; what do you say to that?”

“Why,” he replied, “you would be lean and lank yourself, if you sat there as long as he has.”

There was no resisting such arguments. I said to my English friend, “Let us go out; do not tell him who I am; I show the white feather; he beats me.”

He followed us to the door, and seeing the rabble in the street he called out, “ladies and gentlemen, I beg to draw your attention to the respectable character of my visitors,” pointing to us as we walked away. I called upon him a couple of days afterwards; told him who I was, and said:

“My friend, you are an excellent showman, but you have selected a bad location.”

He replied, “This is true, sir; I feel that all my talents are thrown away; but what can I do?”

“You can go to America,” I replied. “You can give full play to your faculties over there; you will find plenty of elbow room in America; I will engage you for two years; after that you will be able to go on your own account.”

He accepted my offer and remained two years in my New York Museum. He then went to New Orleans and carried on a travelling show business during the summer. To-day he is worth sixty thousand dollars, simply because he selected the right vocation and also secured the proper location. The old proverb says, “Three removes are as bad as a fire,” but when a man is in the fire, it matters but little how soon or how often he removes.

Avoid Debt.—Young men starting in life should avoid running into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. It is a slavish position to get in, yet we find many a young man hardly out of his “teens” running in debt. He meets a chum and says, “Look at this; I have got trusted for a new suit of clothes.” He seems to look upon the clothes as so much given to him; well, it frequently is so, but, if he succeeds in paying and then gets trusted again, he is adopting a habit which will keep him in poverty through life. Debt robs a man of his self respect, and makes him almost despise himself. Grunting and groaning and working for what he has eaten up or worn out, and now when he is called upon to pay up, he has nothing to show for his money; this is properly termed “working for a dead horse.” I do not speak of merchants buying and selling on credit, or of those who buy on credit in order to turn the purchase to a profit. The old Quaker said to his farmer son, “John, never get trusted; but if thee gets trusted for anything, let it be for ‘manure,’ because that will help thee pay it back again.”

Mr. Beecher advised young men to get in debt if they could to a small amount in the purchase of land in the country districts. “If a young man,” he says, “will only get in debt for some land and then get married, these two things will keep him straight, or nothing will.” This may be safe to a limited extent, but getting in debt for what you eat and drink and wear is to be avoided. Some families have a foolish habit of getting credit at “the stores,” and thus frequently purchase many things which might have been dispensed with.

It is all very well to say, “I have got trusted for sixty days, and if I don’t have the money, the creditor will think nothing about it.” There is no class of people in the world who have such good memories as creditors. When the sixty days run out, you will have to pay. If you do not pay, you will break your promise and probably resort to a falsehood. You may make some excuse or get in debt elsewhere to pay it, but that only involves you the deeper.

A good looking, lazy young fellow, was the apprentice boy Horatio. His employer said, “Horatio, did you ever see a snail?” “I—think—I—have,” he drawled out. “You must have met him then, for I am sure you never overtook one,” said the “boss.” Your creditor will meet you or overtake you and say, “Now, my young friend, you agreed to pay me; you have not done it, you must give me your note.” You give the note on interest and it commences working against you; “it is a dead horse.” The creditor goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning better off than when he retired to bed because his interest has increased during the night, but you grow poorer while you are sleeping, for the interest is accumulating against you.

Money is in some respects like fire—it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you, when interest is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst kind of slavery. But let money work for you, and you have the most devoted servant in the world. It is no “eye-servant.” There is nothing animate or inanimate that will work so faithfully as money when placed at interest, well secured. It works night and day, and in wet or dry weather.

I was born in the blue law State of Connecticut, where the old Puritans had laws so rigid that it was said, “they fined a man for kissing his wife on Sunday.” Yet these rich old Puritans would have thousands of dollars at interest, and on Saturday night would be worth a certain amount; on Sunday they would go to church and perform all the duties of a Christian. On waking up on Monday morning, they would find themselves considerably richer than the Saturday night previous, simply because their money placed at interest had worked faithfully for them all day Sunday, according to law!

Do not let it work against you; If you do, there is no chance for success in life so far as money is concerned. John Randolph, the eccentric Virginian, once exclaimed in Congress, “Mr. Speaker, I have discovered the philosopher’s stone: pay as you go.” This is indeed nearer to the philosopher’s stone than any alchemist has ever yet arrived.

Persevere.—When a man is in the right path, he must persevere. I speak of this because there are some persons who are “born tired”; naturally lazy and possessing no self reliance and no perseverance. But, they can cultivate these qualities, as Davy Crockett said:

“This thing remember, when I am dead,
Be sure you are right, then go ahead.”

It is this go-aheaditiveness, this determination not to let the “horrors” or the “blues” take possession of you, so as to make you relax your energies in the struggle for independence, which you must cultivate.

How many have almost reached the goal of their ambition, but losing faith in themselves have relaxed their energies, and the golden prize has been lost forever.

It is, no doubt, often true, as Shakespeare says:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

If you hesitate, some bolder hand will stretch out before you and get the prize. Remember the proverb of Solomon: “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

Perseverance is sometimes but another word for self-reliance. Many persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow trouble. They are born so. Then they ask for advice, and they will be governed by one wind and blown by another, and cannot rely upon themselves. Until you get so that you can rely upon yourself, you need not expect to succeed. I have known men personally who have met with pecuniary reverses, and absolutely committed suicide, because they thought they could never overcome their misfortune. But I have known others who have met more serious financial difficulties, and have bridged them over by simple perseverance, aided by a firm belief that they were doing justly, and that Providence would “overcome evil with good.” You will see this illustrated in any sphere of life.

Take two Generals; both understand military tactics, both educated at West Point, if you please, both equally gifted; yet one, having this principle of perseverance, and the other lacking it, the former will succeed in his profession, while the latter will fail. One may hear the cry, “the enemy are coming, and they have got cannon.”

“Got cannon?” says the hesitating General.


“Then halt every man.”

He wants time to reflect; his hesitation is his ruin. The enemy passes unmolested, or overwhelms him. The General of pluck, perseverance and self reliance goes into battle with a will, and amid the clash of arms, the booming of cannon, and the shrieks of the wounded and dying, you will see this man persevering, going on, cutting and slashing his way through with unwavering determination, and if you are near enough, you will hear him shout, “I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”

Whatever you do, do with all your might.—Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now. The old proverb is full of truth and meaning, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” Many a man acquires a fortune by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life because he only half does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for success in business.

Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who does not help himself. It won’t do to spend your time like Mr. Micawber, in waiting for something to “turn up.” To such men one of two things usually “turns up”: the poor-house or the jail; for idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in rags. The poor spendthrift vagabond said to a rich man:

“I have discovered there is money enough in the world for all of us, if it was equally divided; this must be done, and we shall all be happy together.”

“But,” was the response, “if everybody was like you, it would be spent in two months, and what would you do then?”

“Oh! divide again; keep dividing, of course!”

I was recently reading in a London paper an account of a like philosophic pauper who was kicked out of a cheap boarding-house because he could not pay his bill, but he had a roll of papers sticking out of his coat pocket, which, upon examination, proved to be his plan for paying off the national debt of England without the aid of a penny. People have got to do as Cromwell said: “not only trust in Providence, but keep the powder dry.” Do your part of the work, or you cannot succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in the desert, overheard one of his fatigued followers remark: “I will loose my camel, and trust it to God.” “No, no, not so,” said the prophet, “tie thy camel, and trust it to God!” Do all you can for yourselves, and then trust to Providence, or luck, or whatever you please to call it, for the rest.

Depend upon your own personal exertions.—The eye of the employer is often worth more than the hands of a dozen employees. In the nature of things, an agent cannot be so faithful to his employer as to himself. Many who are employers will call to mind instances where the best employees have overlooked important points which could not have escaped their own observation as a proprietor. No man has a right to expect to succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by personal application and experience. A man may be a manufacturer; he has got to learn the many details of his business personally; he will learn something every day, and he will find he will make mistakes nearly every day. And these very mistakes are helps to him in the way of experiences if he but heeds them. He will be like the Yankee tin-peddler, who, having been cheated as to quality in the purchase of his merchandise, said: “All right, there’s a little information to be gained every day; I will never be cheated in that way again.” Thus a man buys his experience, and it is the best kind if not purchased at too dear a rate.

I hold that every man should, like Cuvier, the French naturalist, thoroughly know his business. So proficient was he in the study of natural history, that you might bring to him the bone or even a section of a bone of an animal which he had never seen described, and reasoning from analogy, he would be able to draw a picture of the object from which the bone had been taken. On one occasion his students attempted to deceive him. They rolled one of their number in a cow skin and put him under the Professor’s table as a new specimen. When the philosopher came into the room, some of the students asked him what animal it was. Suddenly the animal said “I am the devil and I am going to eat you.” It was but natural that Cuvier should desire to classify this creature, and examining it intently, he said, “Divided hoof; graminivorous! it cannot be done.”

He knew that an animal with a split hoof must live upon grass and grain, or other kind of vegetation, and would not be inclined to eat flesh, dead or alive, so he considered himself perfectly safe. The possession of a perfect knowledge of your business is an absolute necessity in order to insure success.

Among the maxims of the elder Rothschild was one, an apparent paradox: “Be cautious and bold.” This seems to be a contradiction in terms, but it is not, and there is great wisdom in the maxim. It is, in fact, a condensed statement of what I have already said. It is to say, “you must exercise your caution in laying your plans, but be bold in carrying them out.” A man who is all caution, will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. A man may go on “ ‘change” and make fifty or one hundred thousand dollars in speculating in stocks, at a single operation. But if he has simple boldness without caution, it is mere chance, and what he gains to-day he will lose to-morrow. You must have both the caution and the boldness, to insure success.

The Rothschilds have another maxim: “Never have anything to do with an unlucky man or place.” That is to say, never have anything to do with a man or place which never succeeds, because, although a man may appear to be honest and intelligent, yet if he tries this or that thing and always fails, it is on account of some fault or infirmity that you may not be able to discover, but nevertheless which must exist.

There is no such thing in the world as luck. There never was a man who could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street to-day, and another to-morrow, and so on, day after day. He may do so once in his life; but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as to find it. “Like causes produce like effects.” If a man adopts the proper methods to be successful, “luck” will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it, although perhaps, he may not be able to see them.

Use the best tools.—Men in engaging employees should be careful to get the best. Understand, you cannot have too good tools to work with, and there is no tool you should be so particular about as living tools. If you get a good one, it is better to keep him, than keep changing. He learns something every day, and you are benefited by the experience he acquires. He is worth more to you this year than last, and he is the last man to part with, provided his habits are good and he continues faithful. If, as he gets more valuable, he demands an exorbitant increase of salary on the supposition that you can’t do without him, let him go. Whenever I have such an employee, I always discharge him; first, to convince him that his place may be supplied, and second, because he is good for nothing if he thinks he is invaluable and cannot be spared.

But I would keep him, if possible, in order to profit from the result of his experience. An important element in an employee is the brain. You can see bills up, “Hands Wanted,” but “hands” are not worth a great deal without “heads.” Mr. Beecher illustrates this, in this wise:

An employee offers his services by saying, “I have a pair of hands and one of my fingers thinks.” “That is very good,” says the employer. Another man comes along, and says “he has two fingers that think.” “Ah! that is better.” But a third calls in and says that “all his fingers and thumbs think.” That is better still. Finally another steps in, and says, “I have a brain that thinks; I think all over; I am a thinking as well as a working man!” “You are the man I want,” says the delighted employer.

Those men who have brains and experience are therefore the most valuable and not to be readily parted with; it is better for them, as well as yourself, to keep them, at reasonable advances in their salaries from time to time.

Don’t get above your business.—Young men after they get through their business training, or apprenticeship, instead of pursuing their avocation and rising in their business, will often lie about doing nothing. They say, “I have learned my business, but I am not going to be a hireling; what is the object of learning my trade or profession, unless I establish myself?”

“Have you capital to start with?”

“No, but I am going to have it.”

“How are you going to get it?”

“I will tell you confidentially; I have a wealthy old aunt, and she will die pretty soon; but if she does not, I expect to find some rich old man who will lend me a few thousands to give me a start. If I only get the money to start with I will do well.”

There is no greater mistake than when a young man believes he will succeed with borrowed money. Why? Because every man’s experience coincides with that of Mr. Astor, who said, ‘it was more difficult for him to accumulate his first thousand dollars, than all the succeeding millions that made up his colossal fortune.’ Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience. Give a boy twenty thousand dollars and put him in business and the chances are that he will lose every dollar of it before he is a year older. Like buying a ticket in the lottery, and drawing a prize, it is “easy come, easy go.” He does not know the value of it; nothing is worth anything, unless it costs effort. Without self denial and economy, patience and perseverance, and commencing with capital which you have not earned, you are not sure to succeed in accumulating. Young men instead of “waiting for dead men’s shoes” should be up and doing, for there is no class of persons who are so unaccommodating in regard to dying as these rich old people, and it is fortunate for the expectant heirs that it is so. Nine out of ten of the rich men of our country to-day, started out in life as poor boys, with determined wills, industry, perseverance, economy and good habits. They went on gradually, made their own money and saved it; and this is the best way to acquire a fortune. Stephen Girard started life as a poor cabin boy, and died worth nine million dollars. A. T. Stewart was a poor Irish boy; now he pays taxes on a million and a half dollars of income, per year. John Jacob Astor was a poor farmer boy, and died worth twenty millions. Cornelius Vanderbilt began life rowing a boat from Staten Island to New York; now he presents our government with a steamship worth a million of dollars, and he is worth fifty millions.

“There is no royal road to learning,” says the proverb, and I may say it is equally true, “there is no royal road to wealth.” But I think there is a royal road to both. The road to learning is a royal one; the road that enables the student to expand his intellect and add every day to his stock of knowledge, until, in the pleasant process of intellectual growth, he is able to solve the most profound problems, to count the stars, to analyze every atom of the globe, and to measure the firmament—this is a regal highway, and it is the only road worth travelling.

So in regard to wealth. Go on in confidence, study the rules, and above all things, study human nature; for “the proper study of mankind is man,” and you will find that while expanding the intellect and the muscles, your enlarged experience will enable you every day to accumulate more and more principal, which will increase itself by interest and otherwise, until you arrive at a state of independence. You will find, as a general thing, that the poor boys get rich and the rich boys get poor. For instance, a rich man at his decease, leaves a large estate to his family. His eldest sons, who have helped him earn his fortune, know by experience the value of money, and they take their inheritance and add to it. The separate portions of the young children are placed at interest, and the little fellows are patted on the head, and told a dozen times a day, “you are rich; you will never have to work, you can always have whatever you wish, for you were born with a golden spoon in your mouth.” The young heir soon finds out what that means; he has the finest dresses and playthings; he is crammed with sugar candies and almost “killed with kindness,” and he passes from school to school, petted and flattered. He becomes arrogant and self-conceited, abuses his teachers, and carries everything with a high hand. He knows nothing of the real value of money, having never earned any; but he knows all about the “golden spoon” business. At college, he invites his poor fellow-students to his room where he “wines and dines” them. He is cajoled and caressed, and called a glorious good fellow, because he is so lavish of his money. He gives his game suppers, drives his fast horses, invites his chums to fêtes and parties, determined to have lots of “good times.” He spends the night in frolics and debauchery, and leads off his companions with the familiar song, “we won’t go home till morning.” He gets them to join him in pulling down signs, taking gates from their hinges and throwing them into back yards and horse-ponds. If the police arrest them, he knocks them down, is taken to the lock-up, and joyfully foots the bills.

“Ah! my boys,” he cries, “what is the use of being rich, if you can’t enjoy yourself?”

He might more truly say, “if you can’t make a fool of yourself”; but he is “fast,” hates slow things, and don’t “see it.” Young men loaded down with other people’s money are almost sure to lose all they inherit, and they acquire all sorts of bad habits which, in the majority of cases, ruins them in health, purse and character. In this country, one generation follows another, and the poor of to-day are rich in the next generation, or the third. Their experience leads them on, and they become rich, and they leave vast riches to their young children. These children, having been reared in luxury, are inexperienced and get poor; and after long experience another generation comes on and gathers up riches again in turn. And thus “history repeats itself,” and happy is he who by listening to the experience of others avoids the rocks and shoals on which so many have been wrecked.

Learn something useful.—Every man should make his son or daughter learn some trade or profession, so that in these days of changing fortunes—of being rich to-day and poor to-morrow,—they may have something tangible to fall back upon. This provision might save many persons from misery, who by some unexpected turn of fortune have lost all their means.

Let hope predominate, but be not too visionary.—Many persons are always kept poor, because they are too visionary. Every project looks to them like certain success, and therefore they keep changing from one business to another, always in hot water, always “under the harrow.” The plan of “counting the chickens before they are hatched” is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.

Do not scatter your powers.—Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centred on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers because he was engaging in too many occupations at a time. There is good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in the fire at once.

Be systematic.—Men should be systematic in their business. A person who does business by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work promptly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it carelessly and slipshod. By introducing system into all your transactions, doing one thing at a time, always meeting appointments with punctuality, you find leisure for pastime and recreation; whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something else and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be done. Of course there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the happy medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can never find them again. It is too much like the “red tape” formality at Washington and Mr. Dickens’ “Circumlocution Office,”—all theory and no result.

When the “Astor House” was first started in New York City, it was undoubtedly the best hotel in the country. The proprietors had learned a good deal in Europe regarding hotels, and the landlords were proud of the rigid system which pervaded every department of their great establishment. When twelve o’clock at night had arrived and there were a number of guests around, one of the proprietors would say, “Touch that bell, John”; and in two minutes sixty servants with a water bucket in each hand, would present themselves in the hall. “This,” said the landlord, addressing his guests, “is our fire bell; it will show you we are quite safe here; we do everything systematically.” This was before the Croton water was introduced into the city. But they sometimes carried their system too far. On one occasion when the hotel was thronged with guests, one of the waiters was suddenly indisposed, and although there were fifty waiters in the hotel, the landlord thought he must have his full complement, or his “system” would be interfered with. Just before dinner time he rushed down stairs and said, “There must be another waiter, I am one waiter short, what can I do?” He happened to see “Boots” the Irishman. “Pat,” said he, “wash your hands and face; take that white apron and come into the dining room in five minutes.” Presently Pat appeared as required, and the proprietor said: “Now Pat, you must stand behind these two chairs and wait on the gentlemen who will occupy them; did you ever act as a waiter?”

“I know all about it sure, but I never did it.”

Like the Irish pilot, on one occasion when the captain, thinking he was considerably out of his course, asked, “Are you certain you understand what you are doing?”

Pat replied, “Sure and I knows every rock in the channel.”

That moment “bang” thumped the vessel against a rock.

“Ah! be jabers, and that is one of ’em,” continued the pilot. But to return to the dining-room. “Pat,” said the landlord, “here we do everything systematically. You must first give the gentlemen each a plate of soup, and when they finish that, ask them what they will have next.”

Pat replied, “Ah! an’ I understand parfectly the vartues of shystem.”

Very soon in came the guests. The plates of soup were placed before them. One of Pat’s two gentlemen ate his soup, the other did not care for it. He said “Waiter, take this plate away and bring me some fish.” Pat looked at the untasted plate of soup, and remembering the injunctions of the landlord in regard to “system,” replied:

“Not till ye have ate yer supe!”

Of course that was carrying “system” entirely too far.

Read the newspapers.—Always take a trustworthy newspaper and thus keep thoroughly posted in regard to the transactions of the world. He who is without a newspaper is cut off from his species. In these days of telegraphs and steam, many important inventions and improvements in every branch of trade are being made, and he who don’t consult the newspapers will soon find himself and his business left out in the cold.

Beware of “outside operations.”—We sometimes see men who have obtained fortunes, suddenly become poor. In many cases this arises from intemperance, and often from gaming, and other bad habits. Frequently it occurs because a man has been engaged in “outside operations,” of some sort. When he gets rich in his legitimate business, he is told of a grand speculation where he can make a score of thousands. He is constantly flattered by his friends, who tell him that he is born lucky, that everything he touches turns into gold. Now if he forgets that his economical habits, his rectitude of conduct and a personal attention to a business which he understood, caused his success in life, he will listen to the syren voices. He says:

“I will put in twenty thousand dollars. I have been lucky, and my good luck will soon bring me back sixty thousand dollars.”

A few days elapse and it is discovered he must put in ten thousand dollars more; soon after he is told “it is all right,” but certain matters not foreseen require an advance of twenty thousand dollars more, which will bring him a rich harvest; but before the time comes around to realize, the bubble bursts, he loses all he is possessed of, and then he learns what he ought to have known at the first, that however successful a man may be in his own business, if he turns from that and engages in a business which he don’t understand he is like Sampson when shorn of his locks,—his strength has departed, and he becomes like other men.

If a man has plenty of money he ought to invest something in everything that appears to promise success and that will probably benefit mankind; but let the sums thus invested be moderate in amount, and never let a man foolishly jeopardize a fortune that he has earned in a legitimate way, by investing it in things in which he has had no experience.

Don’t indorse without security.—I hold that no man ought ever to indorse a note or become security for any man, be it his father or brother, to a greater extent than he can afford to lose and care nothing about, without taking good security. Here is a man that is worth twenty thousand dollars; he is doing a thriving manufacturing or mercantile trade; you are retired and living on your money; he comes to you and says:

“You are aware that I am worth twenty thousand dollars, and don’t owe a dollar; if I had five thousand dollars in cash, I could purchase a particular lot of goods and double my money in a couple of months; will you indorse my note for that amount?”

You reflect that he is worth twenty thousand dollars, and you incur no risk by indorsing his note; you like to accommodate him, and you lend your name without taking the precaution of getting security. Shortly after, he shows you the note with your indorsement cancelled, and tells you, probably truly, “that he made the profit that he expected by the operation,” you reflect that you have done a good action, and the thought makes you feel happy. By and by, the same thing occurs again, and you do it again; you have already fixed the impression in your mind that it is perfectly safe to indorse his notes without security.

But the trouble is, this man is getting money too easily. He has only to take your note to the bank, get it discounted and take the cash. He gets money for the time being without effort; without inconvenience to himself. Now mark the result. He sees a chance for speculation outside of his business. A temporary investment of only $10,000 is required. It is sure to come back before a note at the bank would be due. He places a note for that amount before you. You sign it almost mechanically. Being firmly convinced that your friend is responsible and trustworthy, you indorse his notes as “a matter of course.”

Unfortunately the speculation does not come to a head quite so soon as was expected, and another $10,000 note must be discounted to take up the last one when due. Before this note matures the speculation has proved an utter failure and all the money is lost. Does the loser tell his friend, the indorser, that he has lost half of his fortune? Not at all. He don’t even mention that he has speculated at all. But he has got excited; the spirit of speculation has seized him; he sees others making large sums in this way (we seldom hear of the losers), and like other speculators, he “looks for his money where he loses it.” He tries again. Indorsing his notes has become chronic with you, and at every loss he gets your signature for whatever amount he wants. Finally you discover your friend has lost all of his property and all of yours. You are overwhelmed with astonishment and grief, and you say “it is a hard thing, my friend here has ruined me,” but, you should add, “I have also ruined him.” If you had said in the first place, “I will accommodate you, but I never indorse without taking ample security,” he could not have gone beyond the length of his tether and he would never have been tempted away from his legitimate business. It is a very dangerous thing, therefore, at any time, to let people get possession of money too easily; it tempts them to hazardous speculations, if nothing more. Solomon truly said “he that hateth suretiship is sure.”

So with the young man starting in business; let him understand the value of money by earning it. When he does understand its value, then grease the wheels a little in helping him to start business, but remember men who get money with too great facility cannot usually succeed. You must get the first dollars by hard knocks, and at some sacrifice, in order to appreciate the value of those dollars.

Advertise your business.—We all depend, more or less, upon the public for our support. We all trade with the public,—lawyers, doctors, shoemakers, artists, blacksmiths, showmen, opera singers, railroad presidents, and college professors. Those who deal with the public must be careful that their goods are valuable; that they are genuine, and will give satisfaction. When you get an article which you know is going to please your customers, and that when they have tried it, they will feel they have got their money’s worth, then let the fact be known that you have got it. Be careful to advertise it in some shape or other, because it is evident that if a man has ever so good an article for sale, and nobody knows it, it will bring him no return. In a country like this, where nearly everybody reads, and where newspapers are issued and circulated in editions of five thousand to two hundred thousand, it would be very unwise if this channel was not taken advantage of to reach the public in advertising. A newspaper goes into the family and is read by wife and children, as well as the head of the house; hence hundreds and thousands of people may read your advertisement, while you are attending to your routine business. Many, perhaps, read it while you are asleep. The whole philosophy of life is, first “sow,” then “reap.” That is the way the farmer does; he plants his potatoes and corn, and sows his grain, and then goes about something else, and the time comes when he reaps. But he never reaps first and sows afterwards. This principle applies to all kinds of business, and to nothing more eminently than to advertising. If a man has a genuine article, there is no way in which he can reap more advantageously than by “sowing” to the public in this way. He must, of course, have a really good article, and one which will please his customers; anything spurious will not succeed permanently, because the public is wiser than many imagine. Men and women are selfish, and we all prefer purchasing where we can get the most for our money; and we try to find out where we can most surely do so.

You may advertise a spurious article, and induce many people to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as an imposter and swindler, and your business will gradually die out, and leave you poor. This is right. Few people can safely depend upon chance custom. You all need to have your customers return and purchase again. A man said to me, “I have tried advertising, and did not succeed; yet I have a good article.”

I replied, “My friend, there may be exceptions to a general rule. But how do you advertise?”

“I put it in a weekly newspaper three times, and paid a dollar and a half for it.”

I replied: “Sir, advertising is like learning—‘a little is a dangerous thing.’ ”

A French writer says that “The reader of a newspaper does not see the first insertion of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases.” Your object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost. You are like the fellow who told the gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save him a dollar. “How can I help you so much with so small a sum?” asked the gentleman in surprise. “I started out this morning (hiccupped the fellow) with the full determination to get drunk, and I have spent my only dollar to accomplish the object, and it has not quite done it. Ten cents worth more of whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the dollar already expended.”

So a man who advertises at all must keep it up until the public know who and what he is, and what his business is, or else the money invested in advertising is lost.

Some men have a peculiar genius for writing a striking advertisement, one that will arrest the attention of the reader at first sight. This tact, of course, gives the advertiser a great advantage. Sometimes a man makes himself popular by an unique sign or a curious display in his window. Recently I observed a swing sign extending over the sidewalk in front of a store, on which was the inscription, in plain letters,


Of course I did, and so did everybody else, and I learned that the man had made an independence by first attracting the public to his business in that way and then using his customers well afterwards.

Genin, the hatter, bought the first Jenny Lind ticket at auction for two hundred and twenty-five dollars, because he knew it would be a good advertisement for him. “Who is the bidder?” said the auctioneer, as he knocked down that ticket at Castle Garden. “Genin, the hatter,” was the response. Here were thousands of people from the Fifth Avenue, and from distant cities in the highest stations in life. “Who is ‘Genin,’ the hatter?” they exclaimed. They had never heard of him before. The next morning the newspapers and telegraph had circulated the facts from Maine to Texas, and from five to ten millions of people had read that the tickets sold at auction for Jenny Lind’s first concert amounted to about twenty thousand dollars, and that a single ticket was sold at two hundred and twenty-five dollars, to “Genin, the hatter.” Men throughout the country involuntarily took off their hats to see if they had a “Genin” hat on their heads. At a town in Iowa it was found that in the crowd around the Post Office, there was one man who had a “Genin” hat, and he showed it in triumph, although it was worn out and not worth two cents. “Why,” one man exclaimed, “you have a real ‘Genin’ hat; what a lucky fellow you are.” Another man said “Hang on to that hat, it will be a valuable heir-loom in your family.” Still another man in the crowd, who seemed to envy the possessor of this good fortune, said, “come, give us all a chance; put it up at auction!” He did so, and it was sold as a keepsake for nine dollars and fifty cents! What was the consequence to Mr. Genin? He sold ten thousand extra hats per annum, the first six years. Nine-tenths of the purchasers bought of him, probably, out of curiosity, and many of them, finding that he gave them an equivalent for their money, became his regular customers. This novel advertisement first struck their attention, and then as he made a good article, they came again.

Now, I don’t say that everybody should advertise as Mr. Genin did. But I say if a man has got goods for sale, and he don’t advertise them in some way, the chances are that some day the sheriff will do it for him. Nor do I say that everybody must advertise in a newspaper, or indeed use “printers’ ink” at all. On the contrary, although that article is indispensable in the majority of cases, yet doctors and clergymen, and sometimes lawyers and some others can more effectually reach the public in some other manner. But it is obvious, they must be known in some way, else how could they be supported?

Be polite and kind to your customers. Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him. “Like begets like.” The man who gives the greatest amount of goods of a corresponding quality for the least sum (still reserving to himself a profit) will generally succeed best in the long run. This brings us to the golden rule, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them,” and they will do better by you than if you always treated them as if you wanted to get the most you could out of them for the least return. Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They never will see them again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also.

One of the ushers in my Museum once told me he intended to whip a man who was in the lecture room as soon as he came out.

“What for?” I inquired.

“Because he said I was no gentleman,” replied the usher.

“Never mind,” I replied, “he pays for that, and you will not convince him you are a gentleman by whipping him. I cannot afford to lose a customer. If you whip him, he will never visit the Museum again, and he will induce friends to go with him to other places of amusement instead of this, and thus, you see, I should be a serious loser.”

“But he insulted me,” muttered the usher.

“Exactly,” I replied, “and if he owned the Museum, and you had paid him for the privilege of visiting it, and he had then insulted you, there might be some reason in your resenting it, but in this instance he is the man who pays, while we receive, and you must, therefore, put up with his bad manners.”

My usher laughingly remarked, that this was undoubtedly the true policy, but he added that he should not object to an increase of salary if he was expected to be abused in order to promote my interests.

Be charitable.—Of course men should be charitable, because it is a duty and a pleasure. But even as a matter of policy, if you possess no higher incentive, you will find that the liberal man will command patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable miser will be avoided.

Solomon says: “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” Of course the only true charity is that which is from the heart.

The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves. Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring into the worthiness of the applicant, is bad in every sense. But to search out and quietly assist those who are struggling for themselves, is the kind that “scattereth and yet increaseth.” But don’t fall into the idea that some persons practise, of giving a prayer instead of a potato, and a benediction instead of bread, to the hungry. It is easier to make Christians with full stomachs than empty.

Don’t blab.—Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business secrets. If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing is gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions. And this should apply to letters as well as to conversation. Goethe makes Mephistophiles say: “never write a letter nor destroy one.” Business men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in them. If you are losing money, be specially cautious and not tell of it, or you will lose your reputation.

Preserve your integrity.—It is more precious than diamonds or rubies. The old miser said to his sons: “Get money; get it honestly, if you can, but get money.” This advice was not only atrociously wicked, but it was the very essence of stupidity. It was as much as to say, “if you find it difficult to obtain money honestly, you can easily get it dishonestly. Get it in that way.” Poor fool! Not to know that the most difficult thing in life is to make money dishonestly! not to know that our prisons are full of men who attempted to follow this advice; not to understand that no man can be dishonest without soon being found out, and that when his lack of principle is discovered, nearly every avenue to success is closed against him forever. The public very properly shun all whose integrity is doubted. No matter how polite and pleasant and accommodating a man may be, none of us dare to deal with him if we suspect “false weights and measures.” Strict honesty not only lies at the foundation of all success in life (financially), but in every other respect. Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable. It secures to its possessor a peace and joy which cannot be attained without it—which no amount of money, or houses and lands can purchase. A man who is known to be strictly honest, may be ever so poor, but he has the purses of all the community at his disposal;—for all know that if he promises to return what he borrows, he will never disappoint them. As a mere matter of selfishness, therefore, if a man had no higher motive for being honest, all will find that the maxim of Dr. Franklin can never fail to be true, that “honesty is the best policy.”

To get rich, is not always equivalent to being successful. “There are many rich poor men,” while there are many others, honest and devout men and women, who have never possessed so much money as some rich persons squander in a week, but who are nevertheless really richer and happier than any man can ever be while he is a transgressor of the higher laws of his being.

The inordinate love of money, no doubt, may be and is “the root of all evil,” but money itself, when properly used, is not only a “handy thing to have in the house,” but affords the gratification of blessing our race by enabling its possessor to enlarge the scope of human happiness and human influence. The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to humanity.

The history of money getting, which is commerce, is a history of civilization, and wherever trade has flourished most, there, too, have art and science produced the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general thing, money getters are the benefactors of our race. To them, in a great measure, are we indebted for our institutions of learning and of art, our academies, colleges and churches. It is no argument against the desire for, or the possession of wealth, to say that there are sometimes misers who hoard money only for the sake of hoarding, and who have no higher aspiration than to grasp everything which comes within their reach. As we have sometimes hypocrites in religion, and demagogues in politics, so there are occasionally misers among money getters. These, however, are only exceptions to the general rule. But when, in this country, we find such a nuisance and stumbling block as a miser, we remember with gratitude that in America we have no laws of primogeniture, and that in the due course of nature the time will come when the hoarded dust will be scattered for the benefit of mankind. To all men and women, therefore, do I conscientiously say, make money honestly, and not otherwise, for Shakespeare has truly said, “He that wants money, means and content, is without three good friends.”

Nearly every paper in London had something to say about my lecture, and in almost every instance the matter and manner of the lecturer were unqualifiedly approved. Indeed, the profusion of praise quite overwhelmed me. The London Times, December 30, 1858, concluded a half-column criticism with the following paragraph:

“We are bound to admit that Mr. Barnum is one of the most entertaining lecturers that ever addressed an audience on a theme universally intelligible. The appearance of Mr. Barnum, it should be added, has nothing of the ‘charlatan’ about it, but is that of the thoroughly respectable man of business; and he has at command a fund of dry humor that convulses everybody with laughter, while he himself remains perfectly serious. A sonorous voice and an admirably clear delivery complete his qualifications as a lecturer, in which capacity he is no ‘humbug,’ either in a higher or lower sense of the word.”

The London Morning Post, the Advertiser, the Chronicle, the Telegraph, the Herald, the News, the Globe, the Sun, and other lesser journals of the same date, all contained lengthy and favorable notices and criticisms of my lecture. My own lavish advertisements were as nothing to the notoriety which the London newspapers voluntarily and editorially gave to my new enterprise. The weekly and literary papers followed in the train; and even Punch, which had already done so much to keep Tom Thumb before the public, gave me a half-page notice, with an illustration, and thereafter favored me with frequent paragraphs. The city thus prepared the provinces to give me a cordial reception.

During the year 1859, I delivered this lecture nearly one hundred times in different parts of England, returning occasionally to London to repeat it to fresh audiences, and always with pecuniary success. Every provincial paper had something to say about Barnum and “The art of Money Getting,” and I was never more pleasantly or profusely advertised. The tour, too, made me acquainted with many new people and added fresh and fast friends to my continually increasing list. My lecturing season is among my most grateful memories of England.

Remembering my experiences, some years before, with General Tom Thumb at Oxford and Cambridge, and the fondness of the undergraduates for practical joking, I was quite prepared when I made up my mind to visit those two cities, to take any quantity of “chaff” and lampooning which the University boys might choose to bring. I was sure of a full house in each city, and as I was anxious to earn all the money I could, so as to hasten my deliverance from financial difficulties, I fully resolved to put up with whatever offered—indeed, I rather liked the idea of an episode in the steady run of praise which had followed my lecture everywhere, and I felt, too, in the coming encounter that I might give quite as much as I was compelled to take.

I commenced at Cambridge, and, as I expected, to an overflowing house, largely composed of undergraduates. Soon after I began to speak, one of the young men called out: “Where is Joice Heth?” to which I very coolly replied:

“Young gentleman, please to restrain yourself till the conclusion of the lecture, when I shall take great delight in affording you, or any others of her posterity, all the information I possess concerning your deceased relative.”

This reply turned the laugh against the youthful and anxious inquirer and had the effect of keeping other students quiet for a half hour. Thereafter, questions of a similar character were occasionally propounded, but as each inquirer generally received a prompt Roland for his Oliver, there was far less interruption than I had anticipated. The proceeds of the evening were more than one hundred pounds sterling, an important addition to my treasury at that time. At the close of the lecture, several students invited me to a sumptuous supper where I met, among other undergraduates, a nephew of Lord Macaulay, the historian. This young gentleman insisted upon my breakfasting with him at his rooms next morning, but as I was anxious to take an early train for London, I only called to leave my card, and after his “gyp” had given me a strong cup of coffee, I hastened away, leaving the young Macaulay, whom I did not wish to disturb, fast asleep in bed.

At Oxford the large hall was filled half an hour before the time announced for the lecture to begin and the sale of tickets was stopped. I then stepped upon the platform, and said: “Ladies and Gentlemen: As every seat is occupied and the ticket-office is closed, I propose to proceed with my lecture now, and not keep you waiting till the advertised hour.”

“Good for you, old Barnum,” said one; “Time is money,” said another; “Nothing like economy,” came from a third, and other remarks and exclamations followed which excited much laughter in the audience. Holding up my hand as a signal that I was anxious to say something so soon as silence should be restored, I thus addressed my audience:

“Young gentlemen, I have a word or two to say, in order that we may have a thorough understanding between ourselves at the outset. I see symptoms of a pretty jolly time here this evening, and you have paid me liberally for the single hour of my time which is at your service. I am an old traveller and an old showman, and I like to please my patrons. Now, it is quite immaterial to me; you may furnish the entertainment for the hour, or I will endeavor to do so, or we will take portions of the time by turns—you supplying a part of the amusement, and I a part;—as we say sometimes in America, ‘you pays your money, and you takes your choice.’ ”

My auditors were in the best of humor from the beginning, and my frankness pleased them. “Good for you, old Barnum,” cried their leader; and I went on with my lecture for some fifteen minutes, when a voice called out:

“Come, old chap! you must be tired by this time; hold up now till we sing ‘Yankee Doodle,’ ” whereupon they all joined in that pleasing air with a vigor which showed that they had thoroughly prepared themselves for the occasion, and meanwhile I took a chair and sat down to show them that I was quite satisfied with their manner of passing the time. When the song was concluded, the leader of the party said: “Now, Mr. Barnum, you may go ahead again.”

I looked at my watch and quietly remarked, “Oh! there is time for lots of fun yet; we have nearly forty minutes of the hour remaining,” and I proceeded with my lecture, or rather a lecture, for I began to adapt my remarks to the audience and the occasion. At intervals of ten minutes, or so, came interruptions which I, as my audience saw, fully enjoyed as much as the house did. When this miscellaneous entertainment was concluded, and I stopped short at the end of the hour, crowds of the young men pressed forward to shake hands with me, declaring that they had had a “jolly good time,” while the leader said: “Stay with us a week, Barnum, and we will dine you, wine you, and give you full houses every night.” But I was announced to lecture in London the next evening and I could not accept the pressing invitation, though I would gladly have stayed through the week. They asked me all sorts of questions about America, the Museum, my various shows and successes, and expressed the hope that I would come out of my clock troubles all right.

At least a score of them pressed me to breakfast with them next morning, but I declined, till one young gentleman put it on this purely personal ground: “My dear sir, you must breakfast with me; I have almost split my throat in screaming here to-night and it is only fair that you should repay me by coming to see me in the morning.” This appeal was irresistible, and at the appointed time I met him and half a dozen of his friends at his table and we spent a very pleasant hour together. They complimented me on the tact and equanimity I had exhibited the previous evening, but I replied: “Oh! I was quite inclined to have you enjoy your fun, and came fully prepared for it.”

But they liked better, they said, to get the party angry. A fortnight before, they told me, my friend Howard Paul had left them in disgust, because they insisted upon smoking while his wife was on the stage, adding that the entertainment was excellent and that Howard Paul could have made a thousand pounds if he had not let his anger drive him away. My new-found friends parted with me at the railway station, heartily urging me to come again, and my ticket seller returned £169 as the immediate result of an evening’s good-natured fun with the Oxford boys.

After delivering my lecture many times in different places, a prominent publishing house in London, offered me £1,200 ($6,000,) for the copyright. This offer I declined, not that I thought the lecture worth more money, but because I had engaged to deliver it in several towns and cities, and I thought the publication would be detrimental to the public delivery of my lecture. It was a source of very considerable emolument to me, bringing in much money, which went towards the redemption of my pecuniary obligations, so that the lecture itself was an admirable illustration of “The Art of Money Getting.”




WHILE visiting Manchester, in 1858, I was invited by Mr. Peacock, the lessee, to deliver a lecture in “Free Trade Hall.” I gave a lecture, the title of which I now forget; but I well remember it contained numerous personal reminiscences. The next day a gentleman sent his card to my room at the hotel where I was stopping. I requested the servant to show the gentleman up at once, and he soon appeared and introduced himself. At first he seemed somewhat embarrassed, but gradually broke the ice by saying he had been pleased in listening to my lecture the previous evening, and added that he knew my history pretty well, as he had read my autobiography. As his embarrassment at first meeting with a stranger wore away, he informed me that he was joint proprietor with another gentleman in a “cotton-mill” in Bury, near Manchester, “although,” he modestly added, “only a few years ago I was working as a journeyman, and probably should have been at this time, had it not been for your book.” Observing my surprise at this announcement, he continued:

“The fact is, Mr. Barnum, upon reading your autobiography, I thought I perceived you tried to make yourself out something worse than you really were; for I discovered a pleasant spirit and a good heart under the rougher exterior in which you chose to present yourself to the public; but,” he added, “after reading your life I found myself in possession of renewed strength, and awakened energies and aspirations, and I said to myself, ‘Why can’t I go ahead and make money as Barnum did? He commenced without money and succeeded; why may not I?’ In this train of thought,” he continued, “I went to a newspaper office and advertised for a partner with money to join me in establishing a cotton-mill. I had no applications, and, remembering your experiences when you had money and wanted a partner, I spent half a crown in a similar experiment. I advertised for a partner to join a man who had plenty of capital. Then I had lots of applicants ready to introduce me into all sorts of occupations, from that of a banker to that of a horse-jockey or gambler, if I would only furnish the money to start with. After a while, I advertised again for a partner, and obtained one with money. We have a good mill. I devote myself closely to business, and have been very successful. I know every line in your book; so, indeed, do several members of my family; and I have conducted my business on the principles laid down in your published ‘Rules for Money-making.’ I find them correct principles; and, sir, I have sought this interview in order to thank you for publishing your autobiography, and to tell you that to that act of yours I attribute my present position in life.”

Of course, I was pleased and surprised at this revelation, and, feeling that my new friend, whom I will call Mr. Wilson,[B] had somewhat exaggerated the results of my labors as influencing his own, I said:

“Your statement is certainly very flattering, and I am glad if I have been able in any manner, through my experiences, to aid you in starting in life; but I presume your genius would have found vent in good time if I had never written a book.”

“No, indeed it would not,” he replied, in an earnest tone; “I am sure I should have worked as a mill-hand all my life if it had not been for you. Oh, I have made no secret of it,” he continued; “the commercial men with whom I deal know all about it: indeed, they call me ‘Barnum’ on ‘change here in Manchester.”

[B] By his consent I state that his name is John Fish.

This singular yet gratifying interview led to several others, and from that time a warm personal friendship sprung up between us. In our conversations, my enthusiastic friend would often quote entire pages from my autobiography, which I had almost forgotten; and, after he had frequently visited me by appointment where I happened to be stopping in different parts of Great Britain, he would write me letters, often quoting scraps of my conversation, and extolling what he called the “wisdom” of these careless remarks. I laughed at him, and told him he was about half Barnum-crazy. “Well,” he replied, “then there is method in my madness, for whenever I follow the Barnum rules I am always successful.”

On one occasion, when General Tom Thumb exhibited in Bury, Mr. Wilson closed his mill, and gave each of his employés a ticket to the exhibition; out of respect, as he said, to Barnum. On a subsequent occasion, when the little General visited England the last time, Mr. Wilson invited him, his wife, Commodore Nutt, Minnie Warren, and the managers of “the show,” to a splendid and sumptuous dinner at his house, which the distinguished little party enjoyed exceedingly; and several interesting incidents occurred on that pleasant occasion, which the miniature guests will never cease to remember with gratitude. When I was about to leave England for home, in 1859, my friend Wilson made an appointment to come to Liverpool to see me off. He came the day before I sailed, and brought his little daughter, some twelve years old, with him. We had a remarkably pleasant and social time, and I did not part with them until the tug was almost dropping off from the steamer in the river Mersey. It was a very reluctant parting. We waved our handkerchiefs until we could no longer distinguish each other; and up to the present writing we have never again met. To my numerous invitations to him and his family, to visit me in America, he sends but one response,—that, as yet, his business will not permit him to leave home. I hope ere long to receive a different answer. Our correspondence has been regularly kept up ever since we parted.

My friend Wilson expressed himself extremely anxious to do any service for me which might at any time be in his power. Soon after I arrived in America, I read an account of a French giant, then exhibiting in Paris, and said to be over eight feet in height. As this was a considerably greater altitude than any specimen of the genus homo within my knowledge had attained, I wrote to my friend to take a trip to Paris for me, secure an interview with this modern Anak, and by actual measurement obtain for me his exact height. I enclosed an offer for this giant’s services, arranging the price on a sliding scale, according to what his height should actually prove to be,—commencing at eight feet, and descending to seven feet two inches; and if he was not taller than the latter figure, I did not want him at all.

Mr. Wilson, placing an English two-foot rule in his pocket, started for Paris; and, after much difficulty and several days’ delay in trying to speak with the giant, who was closely watched by his exhibitor, Mr. Wilson succeeded, by the aid of an interpreter, in exchanging a few words with him, and appointing an interview at his own (the giant’s) lodgings. And now came a trouble which required all the patience and diplomacy which my agent could command. Mr. Wilson, arriving at the place of rendezvous, told the giant who he was, and the object of his visit. In fact, he showed him my letter, and read the tempting offers which I made for his services, provided he measured eight feet, or even came within six inches of that height.

“Oh, I measure over eight feet in height,” said the giant. “Very likely,” replied my faithful agent, “but you see my orders are to measure you.” “There’s no need of that, you can see for yourself,” stretching himself up a few inches, by aid of that peculiar muscular knack which giants and dwarfs exercise when they desire to extend or diminish their apparent stature. “No doubt you are right,” persisted the agent; “but you see that is not according to orders.” “Well, stand alongside of me; see, the top of your hat don’t come to my shoulder,” said the giant, as he swung his arm completely over Mr. Wilson’s head, hat and all.

But my wary agent happened just then to be watching



the giant’s feet and knees, and he thought he saw a movement around the “understandings” that materially helped the elevation of the “upperworks.” “It is all very well,” said Mr. Wilson; “but I tell you I have brought a two-foot rule from England, and, if I am not permitted to measure your height with that, I shall not engage you.” My offer had been very liberal; in fact, provided he was eight feet high, it was more than four times the amount the giant was then receiving; it was evidently a great temptation to his “highness,” and quite as evidently he did not want to be fairly measured. “Well,” said the giant, “if you can’t take my word for it, look at that door; you see my head is more than two feet above the top:” (giving his neck and every muscle in his body a severe stretch:) “just measure the height of that door.” My English friend plainly saw that the giant felt that he could not come up to the mark, and he laughed at this last ruse. “Oh, I don’t want to measure the door; I prefer to measure you,” said Mr. Wilson, coolly. The giant was now desperate, and, stretching himself up to the highest point, he exclaimed: “Well, be quick! put your rule down to my feet and measure me; no delay, if you please.”

The giant knew he could not hold himself up many seconds to the few extra inches he had imparted to his extended muscles; but his remark had drawn Mr. Wilson’s attention to his feet, and from the feet to the boots, and he began to open his eyes. “Look here, Monsieur,” he exclaimed with much earnestness, “this sort of thing wont do, you know. I don’t understand this contrivance around the soles of your boots, but it seems to me you have got a set of springs in there which materially aids your altitude a few inches when you desire it. Now, I shall stand no more nonsense. If I engage you at all, you must first take off your boots, and lie flat upon your back in the middle of the floor; there you will have no purchase, and you may stretch as much as you like; and for every inch you fairly measure above seven feet two inches you know what I am authorized to give you.” The giant grumbled and talked about his word being doubted and his honor assailed, but Mr. Wilson calmly persisted, until at length he slowly took off his coat and gradually got down on the floor. Stretched upon his back, he made several vain efforts to extend his natural height. Mr. Wilson carefully applied his English two-foot rule, the result of the measurement causing him much astonishment and the giant more indignation, the giant measuring exactly seven feet one and one half inches. So he was not engaged, and my agent returned to England and wrote me a most amusing letter, giving the particulars of the gigantic interview.

On the occasion of the erection of a new engine in his mill, Mr. Wilson proposed naming it after his daughter, but she insisted it should be christened “Barnum,” and it was so done, with considerable ceremony. Subsequently he introduced a second engine into his enlarged mill, and named this, after my wife, “Charity.”

A short time since, I wrote informing him that I desired to give some of the foregoing facts in my book, and asked him to give me his consent, and also to furnish me some particulars in regard to the engines, and the capacity of his mill. He wrote in return a modest letter, which is so characteristic of my whole-souled friend that I cannot forbear making the following extracts from it:

Had I made a fortune of £100,000 I should have been proud of such a place in your book as Albert Smith has in your Autobiography; but, as I have only been able to make (here he named a sum which in this country would be considered almost a fortune), I feel I should be out of place in your pages; at all events, if you mention me at all, draw it mildly, if you please.

The American war has made sad havoc in our trade, and it is only by close attention to business that I have lately been at all successful. I have built a place for one thousand looms, and have, as you know, put in a pair of engines, which I have named “Barnum” and “Charity.” Each engine has its name engraved on two large brass plates at either end of the cylinder, which has often caused much mirth when I have explained the circumstances to visitors. I started and christened “Charity” on the 14th of January last, and she has saved me £12 per month in coals ever since. The steam from the boiler goes first to “Charity” (she is high pressure), and “Barnum” only gets the steam after she has done with it. He has to work at low pressure (a condensing engine), and the result is a saving. Barnum was extravagant when he took steam direct, but, since I fixed Charity betwixt him and the boiler, he can only get what she gives him. This reminds me that you state in your “Life” you could always make money, but formerly did not save it. Perhaps you never took care of it till Charity became Chancellor of Exchequer. When I visited you at the Bull Hotel, in Blackburn, you pointed to General Tom Thumb, and said: “That is my piece of goods; I have sold it hundreds of thousands of times, and have never yet delivered it!” That was ten years ago, in 1858. If I had been doing the same with my pieces of calico, I must have been wealthy by this time: but I have been hammering at one (cotton) nail several months, and, as it did not offer to clinch, I was almost tempted to doubt one of your “rules,” and thought I would drive at some other nail; but, on reflection, I knew I understood cotton better than anything else, and so I back up your rule and stick to cotton, not doubting it will be all right and successful.

Mr. Wilson was one of the large class of English manufacturers who suffered seriously from the effects of the rebellion in the United States. As an Englishman he could not have a patriot’s interest in the progress of that terrible struggle; but he made a practical exhibition of sympathy for the suffering soldiers, in a pleasant and characteristic manner.

The great fair of the Sanitary Commission, held in New York during the war, affords one of the most interesting chapters in American history. It meant cordial for the sick and suffering in the hospitals, and balm and relief for the wounded in the field. None of those who visited the Fair will forget, in the multiplicity of offerings to put money into the treasury of the Commission, two monster cakes, which were as strange in shape and ornament as they were fairly mammoth in their proportions. One of these great cakes was covered with miniature forts, ships of war, cannon, armies, arms of the whole “panoply of war,” and it excited the attention of all visitors. This strange cake was what is called in Bury, England, where name, cake and custom originated, a “Simnel cake,” and an interesting history pertains to it.

There is an anniversary in Bury, and I believe only in that place in England, called “Simnel Sunday.” Like many old observances, its origin is lost in antiquity; but on the fourth Sunday in Lent, which is Simnel Sunday, everybody in Bury eats Simnel cake. It is a high day for the inhabitants, and the streets are thronged with people. During the preceding week, the shop windows of the confectioners exhibit a plethora of large, flat cakes, of a peculiar pattern and of toothsome composition. Every confectioner aims to outdo his rivals in the bigness of the one show-cake which nearly fills his window, and in the moulding and ornamental accessories. A local description, giving the requisite characteristics, says: “The great Simnel must be rich, must be big, and must be novel in ornamentation.” Such is the Simnel cake, the specialty of Simnel Sunday, in the town of Bury, in Old England.

And such was the monster cake, with its warlike emblems, which attracted so much attention at the Fair, and added considerably to the receipts for the Sanitary Commission. It was sent to me expressly for this Fair, by my friend Wilson, and, while it was in itself a generous gift, it was doubly so as coming from an English manufacturer who had suffered by the war. The second great Simnel cake which stood beside it in the Fair was sent to me personally by Mr. Wilson; but with his permission I took much pleasure in contributing it, with his own offering, for the benefit of our suffering soldiers.

It may thus be seen that my friend Wilson is not only “an enterprising Englishman,” but that he is also a generous, noble-hearted man,—one who in a great struggle like the late civil war in America, could sincerely sympathize with suffering humanity, notwithstanding, as he expressed it, “the American war has made sad havoc in our trade.” His soul soars above “pounds, shillings and pence”; and I take great pleasure in expressing admiration for a gentleman of such marked enterprise, philanthropy and integrity.




IN 1859 I returned to the United States. During my last visit abroad I had secured many novelties for the Museum, including the Albino Family, which I engaged at Amsterdam, and Thiodon’s mechanical theatre, which I found at Southampton, beside purchasing many curiosities. These things all afforded me a liberal commission, and thus, by constant and earnest effort, I made much money, besides what I derived from the Tom Thumb exhibitions, my lectures, and other enterprises. All of this money, as well as my wife’s income and a considerable sum raised by selling a portion of her property, was faithfully devoted to the one great object of my life at that period—my extrication from those crushing clock debts. I worked and I saved. When my wife and youngest daughter were not boarding in Bridgeport, they lived frugally in the suburbs, in a small one-story house which was hired at the rate of $150 a year. I had now been struggling about four years with the difficulties of my one great financial mistake, and the end still seemed to be far off. I felt that the land, purchased by my wife in East Bridgeport at the assignees’ sale, would, after a while, increase rapidly in value; and on the strength of this expectation more money was borrowed for the sake of taking up the clock notes, and some of the East Bridgeport property was sold in single lots, the proceeds going to the same object.

At last, in March 1860, all the clock indebtedness was satisfactorily extinguished, excepting some $20,000 which I had bound myself to take up within a certain number of months, my friend, James D. Johnson, guaranteeing my bond to that effect. Mr. Johnson was by far my most effective agent in working me through these clock troubles, and in aiding to bring them to a successful conclusion. Another man, however, who pretended to be my friend, and whom I liberally paid to assist in bringing me out of my difficulties, gained my confidence, possessed himself of a complete knowledge of the situation of my affairs, and then coolly proposed to Mr. Johnson to counteract all my efforts to get out of debt, and to divide between them what could be got out of my estate. Failing in this, the scoundrel, taking advantage of the confidence reposed in him, slyly arranged with the owners of clock notes to hold on to them, and share with him whatever they might gain by adopting his advice, he assuming that he knew all my secrets and that I would soon come out all right again. Thus I had to contend with foes from within as well as without; but the “spotting” of this traitor was worth something, for it opened my eyes in relation to former transactions in which I had intrusted large sums of money to his hands, and it put me on guard for the future. But I bear no malice towards him; I only pity him, as I do any man who knows so little of the true road to contentment and happiness as to think that it lies in the direction of dishonesty.

I need not dwell upon the details of what I suffered from the doings of those heartless, unscrupulous men who fatten upon the misfortunes of others. It is enough to say that I triumphed over them and all my troubles. I was once more a free man. At last I was able to make proclamation that “Richard’s himself again”; that Barnum was once more on his feet. The Museum had not flourished greatly in the hands of Messrs. Greenwood & Butler, and so, when I was free, I was quite willing to take back the property upon terms that were entirely satisfactory to them. I had once retired from the establishment a man of independent fortune; I was now ready to return, to make, if possible, another fortune.

On the 17th of March, 1860, Messrs. Butler & Greenwood signed an agreement to sell and deliver to me on the following Saturday, March 24th, their good will and entire interest in the Museum collection. This fact was thoroughly circulated and it was everywhere announced in blazing posters, placards and advertisements which were headed, “Barnum on his feet again.” It was furthermore stated that the Museum would be closed, March 24th, for one week for repairs and general renovation, to be re-opened, March 31st, under the management and proprietorship of its original owner. It was also announced that on the night of closing I would address the audience from the stage.

The American Museum, decorated on that occasion, as on holidays, with a brilliant display of flags and banners, was filled to its utmost capacity, and I experienced profound delight at seeing hundreds of old friends of both sexes in the audience. I lacked but four months of being fifty years of age; but I felt all the vigor and ambition that fired me when I first took possession of the premises twenty years before; and I was confident that the various experiences of that score of years would be valuable to me in my second effort to secure an independence.

At the rising of the curtain and before the play commenced, I stepped on the stage and was received by the large and brilliant audience with an enthusiasm far surpassing anything of the kind I had ever experienced or witnessed in a public career of a quarter of a century. Indeed, this tremendous demonstration nearly broke me down, and my voice faltered and tears came to my eyes as I thought of this magnificent conclusion to the trials and struggles of the past four years. Recovering myself, however, I bowed my grateful acknowledgments for the reception, and addressed the audience as follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen: I should be more or less than human, if I could meet this unexpected and overwhelming testimonial at your hands, without the deepest emotion. My own personal connection with the Museum is now resumed, and I avail myself of the circumstance to say why it is so. Never did I feel stronger in my worldly prosperity than in September, 1855. Three months later, I was so deeply embarrassed that I felt certain of nothing, except the uncertainty of everything. A combination of singular efforts and circumstances tempted me to put faith in a certain clock manufacturing company, and I placed my signature to papers which ultimately broke me down. After nearly five years of hard struggle to keep my head above water, I have touched bottom at last, and here, to-night, I am happy to announce that I have waded ashore. Every clock debt of which I have any knowledge has been provided for. Perhaps, after the troubles and turmoils I have experienced, I should feel no desire to re-engage in the excitements of business, but a man like myself, less than fifty years of age, and enjoying robust health, is scarcely old enough to be embalmed and put in a glass case in the Museum as one of its million of curiosities. ‘It is better to wear out than rust out.’ Besides, if a man of active temperament is not busy, he is apt to get into mischief. To avoid evil, therefore, and since business activity is a necessity of my nature, here I am, once more, in the Museum, and among those with whom I have been so long and so pleasantly identified. I am confident of a cordial welcome, and hence feel some claim to your indulgence while I briefly allude to the means of my present deliverance from utter financial ruin. Need I say, in the first place, that I am somewhat indebted to the forbearance of generous creditors. In the next place, permit me to speak of sympathizing friends, whose volunteered loans and exertions vastly aided my rescue. When my day of sorrow came, I first paid or secured every debt I owed of a personal nature. This done, I felt bound in honor to give up all of my property that remained towards liquidating my “clock debts.” I placed it in the hands of trustees and receivers for the benefit of all the “clock” creditors. But, at the forced sale of my Connecticut real estate, there was a purchaser behind the screen, of whom the world had little knowledge. In the day of my prosperity I made over to my wife much valuable property, including the lease of this Museum building,—a lease then having about twenty-two years to run, and enhanced in value to more than double its original worth. I sold the Museum collection to Messrs. Greenwood and Butler, subject to my wife’s separate interest in the lease, and she has received more than eighty thousand dollars over and above the sums paid to the owners of the building. Instead of selfishly applying this amount to private purposes, my family lived with a due regard to economy, and the savings (strictly belonging to my wife) were devoted to buying in portions of my estate at the assignees’ sales, and to purchasing “clock notes” bearing my indorsements. The Christian name of my wife is Charity. I may well acknowledge, therefore, that I am not only a proper ‘subject of charity,’ but that ‘without Charity, I am nothing.’

“But, ladies and gentlemen, while Charity thus labored in my behalf, Faith and Hope were not idle. I have been anything but indolent during the last four years. Driven from pillar to post, and annoyed beyond description by all sorts of legal claims and writs, I was perusing protests and summonses by day, and dreaming of clocks run down by night. My head was ever whizzing with dislocated cog-wheels and broken main-springs; my whole mind (and my credit) was running upon tick, and everything pressing on me like a dead weight.

“In this state of affairs I felt that I was of no use on this side of the Atlantic; so, giving the pendulum a swing, and seizing time by the forelock, I went to Europe. There I furtively pulled the wires of several exhibitions, among which that of Tom Thumb may be mentioned for example. I managed a variety of musical and commercial speculations in Great Britain, Germany, and Holland. These enterprises, together with the net profits of my public lectures, enabled me to remit large sums to confidential agents for the purchase of my obligations. In this manner, I quietly extinguished, little by little, every dollar of my clock liabilities. I could not have achieved this difficult feat, however, without the able assistance of enthusiastic friends,—and among the chief of them let me gratefully acknowledge the invaluable services of Mr. James D. Johnson, a gentleman of wealth, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Other gentlemen have been generous with me. Some have loaned me large sums, without security, and have placed me under obligations which must ever command my honest gratitude; but Mr. Johnson has been a ‘friend indeed,’ for he has been truly a ‘friend in need.’

“You must not infer, from what I have said, that I have completely recovered from the stunning blow to which I was subjected four years ago. I have lost more in the way of tens of thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands, than I care to remember. A valuable portion of my real estate in Connecticut, however, has been preserved, and as I feel all the ardor of twenty years ago, and the prospect here is so flattering, my heart is animated with the hope of ultimately, by enterprise and activity, obliterating unpleasant reminiscences, and retrieving the losses of the past. Experience, too, has taught me not only that even in the matter of money, ‘enough is as good as a feast,’ but that there are, in this world, some things vastly better than the Almighty Dollar! Possibly I may contemplate, at times, the painful day when I said: ‘Othello’s occupation’s gone;’ but I shall more frequently cherish the memory of this moment, when I am permitted to announce that ‘Richard’s himself again.’

“Many people have wondered that a man considered so acute as myself should have been deluded into embarrassments like mine, and not a few have declared, in short metre, that ‘Barnum was a fool.’ I can only reply that I never made pretensions to the sharpness of a pawn-broker, and I hope I shall never so entirely lose confidence in human nature as to consider every man a scamp by instinct, or a rogue by necessity. ‘It is better to be deceived sometimes, than to distrust always,’ says Lord Bacon, and I agree with him.

“Experience is said to be a hard schoolmaster, but I should be sorry to feel that this great lesson in adversity has not brought forth fruits of some value. I needed the discipline this tribulation has given me, and I really feel, after all, that this, like many other apparent evils, was only a blessing in disguise. Indeed, I may mention that the very clock factory which I built in Bridgeport, for the purpose of bringing hundreds of workmen to that city, has been purchased and quadrupled in size by the Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine Company, and is now filled with intelligent New England mechanics, whose families add two thousand to the population, and who are doing a great work in building up and beautifying that flourishing city. So that the same concern which prostrated me seems destined as a most important agent towards my recuperation. I am certain that the popular sympathy has been with me from the beginning; and this, together with a consciousness of rectitude, is more than an offset to all the vicissitudes to which I have been subjected.

“In conclusion, I beg to assure you and the public that my chief pleasure, while health and strength are spared me, will be to cater for your and their healthy amusement and instruction. In future, such capabilities as I possess will be devoted to the maintenance of this Museum as a popular place of family resort, in which all that is novel and interesting shall be gathered from the four quarters of the globe, and which ladies and children may visit at all times unattended, without danger of encountering anything of an objectionable nature. The dramas introduced in the Lecture Room will never contain a profane expression or a vulgar allusion; on the contrary, their tendency will always be to encourage virtue, and frown upon vice.

“I have established connections in Europe, which will enable me to produce here a succession of interesting novelties otherwise inaccessible. Although I shall be personally present much of the time, and hope to meet many of my old acquaintances, as well as to form many new ones, I am sure you will be glad to learn that I have re-secured the services of one of the late proprietors, and the active manager of this Museum, Mr. John Greenwood, Jr. As he is a modest gentleman, who would be the last to praise himself, allow me to add that he is one to whose successful qualities as a caterer for the popular entertainments, the crowds that have often filled this building may well bear testimony. But, more than this, he is the unobtrusive one to whose integrity, diligence and devotion, I owe much of my present position of self-congratulation. Mr. Greenwood will hereafter act as assistant manager, while his late co-partner, Mr. Butler, has engaged in another branch of business. Once more, thanking you all for your kind welcome, I bid you, till the re-opening, ‘an affectionate adieu.’ ”

This off-hand speech was received with almost tumultuous applause. At nearly fifty years of age, I was now once more before the public with the promise to put on a full head of steam, to “rush things,” to give double or treble the amount of attractions ever before offered at the Museum, and to devote all my own time and services to the enterprise. In return, I asked that the public should give my efforts the patronage they merited, and the public took me at my word. The daily number of visitors at once more than doubled, and my exertions to gratify them with rapid changes and novelties never tired.

The announcement that “Richard’s himself again”—that I was at last out of the financial entanglement—was variously received in the community. That portion of the press which had followed me with abuse when I was down, under the belief that my case was past recovery, were chary in allusions to the new state of things, or passed them over without comment. The sycophants always knew I would get up again, “and said so at the time;” the many and noble journals which had stood by me and upheld me in my misfortunes, were of course rejoiced, and their words of sincere congratulation gave me a higher satisfaction than I have power of language to acknowledge. Letters of congratulation came in upon me from every quarter. Friendly hands that had never been withheld during the long period of my misfortune were now extended with a still heartier grip. I never knew till now the warmth and number of my friends.

My editorial friend, Mr. Robert Bonner, of the New York Ledger, sincerely congratulated me upon my full and complete restoration. I had some new plays which were adapted from very popular stories which had been written for Mr. Bonner’s paper, and I went to him to purchase, if I could, the large cuts he had used to advertise these stories in his street placards. He at once generously offered to lend them to me as long as I wished to use them and tendered me his services in any way. Mr. Bonner was the boldest of advertisers, following me closely in the field in which I was the pioneer, and to his judicious use of printers’ ink, he owes the fine fortune which he so worthily deserves and enjoys.

Nor must I neglect to state that a large number of my creditors who held the clock notes, proved very magnanimous in taking into consideration the gross deception which had put me in their power. Not a few of them said to me in substance: “you never supposed you had made yourself liable for this debt; you were deluded into it; it is not right that it should be held over you to keep you hopelessly down; take it, and pay me such percentage as, under the circumstances, it is possible for you to pay.” But for such men and such consideration I fear I should never have got on my feet again; and of the many who rejoiced in my bettered fortune, not a few were of this class of my creditors.

My old friend, the Boston Saturday Evening Gazette, which printed a few cheering poetical lines of consolation and hope when I was down, now gave me the following from the same graceful pen, conveying glowing words of congratulation at my rise again:


Barnum, your hand! The struggle o’er,
You face the world and ask no favor;
You stand where you have stood before,
The old salt hasn’t lost its savor.
You now can laugh with friends, at foes,
Ne’er heeding Mrs. Grundy’s tattle;
You’ve dealt and taken sturdy blows,
Regardless of the rabble’s prattle.
Not yours the heart to harbor ill
’Gainst those who’ve dealt in trivial jesting;
You pass them with the same good will
Erst shown when they their wit were testing.
You’re the same Barnum that we knew,
You’re good for years, still fit for labor,
Be as of old, be bold and true,
Honest as man, as friend, as neighbor.

At about this period, the following poem was published in a Pottsville, Pa., paper, and copied by many journals of the day:


Companions! fill your glasses round,
And drink a health to one
Who has few coming after him,
To do as he has done;
Who made a fortune for himself,
Made fortunes, too, for many,
Yet wronged no bosom of a sigh,
No pocket of a penny.
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
And make the glasses ring,—
Here’s health and luck to Barnum!
The Exhibition King.
Who lured the Swedish Nightingale
To Western woods to come?
Who prosperous and happy made
The life of little Thumb?
Who oped Amusement’s golden door
So cheaply to the crowd,
And taught Morality to smile
On all his stage allowed?
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
Until the glasses ring,—
Here’s health and luck to Barnum!
The Exhibition King.
And when the sad reverses came,
As come they may to all,
Who stood a Hero, bold and true,
Amid his fortune’s fall?
Who to the utmost yielded up
What Honor could not keep,
Then took the field of life again
With courage calm and deep?
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
Until the glasses dance,—
Here’s health and luck to Barnum,
The Napoleon of Finance.
Yet, no—our hero would not look
With smiles on such a cup;
Throw out the wine—with water clear,
Fill the pure crystal up.
Then rise, and greet with deep respect,
The courage he has shown,
And drink to him who well deserves
A seat on Fortune’s throne.
Here’s health and luck to Barnum!
An Elba he has seen,
And never may his map of life
Display a St. Helene!

Mrs. Anna Bache.





I WAS now fairly embarked on board the good old ship American Museum, to try once more my skill as captain, and to see what fortune the voyage would bring me. Curiosities began to pour into the Museum halls, and I was eager for enterprises in the show line, whether as part of the Museum itself, or as outside accessories or accompaniments. Among the first to give me a call, with attractions sure to prove a success, was James C. Adams, of hard-earned, grizzly-bear fame. This extraordinary man was eminently what is called “a character.” He was universally known as “Grizzly Adams,” from the fact that he had captured a great many grizzly bears, at the risk and cost of fearful encounters and perils. He was brave, and with his bravery there was enough of the romantic in his nature to make him a real hero. For many years a hunter and trapper in the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, he acquired a recklessness, which, added to his natural invincible courage, rendered him one of the most striking men of the age, and he was emphatically a man of pluck. A month after I had re-purchased the Museum, he arrived in New York with his famous collection of California animals, captured by himself, consisting of twenty or thirty immense grizzly bears, at the head of which stood “Old Sampson,” together with several wolves, half a dozen different species of California bears, California lions, tigers, buffalo, elk, and “Old Neptune,” the great sea-lion from the Pacific.

Old Adams had trained all these monsters so that with him they were as docile as kittens, though many of the most ferocious among them would attack a stranger without hesitation, if he came within their grasp. In fact the training of these animals was no fool’s play, as Old Adams learned to his cost, for the terrific blows which he received from time to time, while teaching them “docility,” finally cost him his life.

Adams called on me immediately on his arrival in New York. He was dressed in his hunter’s suit of buckskin, trimmed with the skins and bordered with the hanging tails of small Rocky Mountain animals; his cap consisting of the skin of a wolf’s head and shoulders, from which depended several tails, and under which appeared his stiff, bushy, gray hair and his long, white, grizzly beard; in fact Old Adams was quite as much of a show as his beasts. They had come around Cape Horn on the clipper ship “Golden Fleece,” and a sea voyage of three and a half months had probably not added much to the beauty or neat appearance of



the old bear-hunter. During our conversation, Grizzly Adams took off his cap, and showed me the top of his head. His skull was literally broken in. It had on various occasions been struck by the fearful paws of his grizzly students; and the last blow, from the bear called “General Fremont,” had laid open his brain so that its workings were plainly visible. I remarked that I thought it was a dangerous wound and might possibly prove fatal.

“Yes,” replied Adams, “that will fix me out. It had nearly healed; but old Fremont opened it for me, for the third or fourth time, before I left California, and he did his business so thoroughly, I’m a used-up man. However I reckon I may live six months or a year yet.” This was spoken as coolly as if he had been talking about the life of a dog. The immediate object of “old Adams” in calling upon me was this; I had purchased, a week previously, one-half interest in his California menagerie, from a man who had come by way of the Isthmus from California, and who claimed to own an equal interest with Adams in the show. Adams declared that the man had only advanced him some money, and did not possess the right to sell half of the concern. However, the man held a bill of sale for half of the “California Menagerie,” and old Adams finally consented to accept me as an equal partner in the speculation, saying that he guessed I could do the managing part, and he would show up the animals. I obtained a canvas tent, and erecting it on the present site of Wallack’s Theatre, Adams there opened his novel California Menagerie. On the morning of opening, a band of music preceded a procession of animal cages down Broadway and up the Bowery, old Adams dressed in his hunting costume, heading the line, with a platform wagon on which were placed three immense grizzly bears, two of which he held by chains, while he was mounted on the back of the largest grizzly, which stood in the centre and was not secured in any manner whatever. This was the bear known as “General Fremont,” and so docile had he become, that Adams said he had used him as a pack-bear to carry his cooking and hunting apparatus through the mountains for six months, and had ridden him hundreds of miles. But apparently docile as were many of these animals, there was not one among them that would not occasionally give Adams a sly blow or a sly bite when a good chance offered; hence old Adams was but a wreck of his former self, and expressed pretty nearly the truth when he said:

“Mr. Barnum, I am not the man I was five years ago. Then I felt able to stand the hug of any grizzly living, and was always glad to encounter, single handed, any sort of an animal that dared present himself. But I have been beaten to a jelly, torn almost limb from limb, and nearly chawed up and spit out by these treacherous grizzly bears. However, I am good for a few months yet, and by that time I hope we shall gain enough to make my old woman comfortable, for I have been absent from her some years.”

His wife came from Massachusetts to New York and nursed him. Dr. Johns dressed his wounds every day, and not only told Adams he could never recover, but assured his friends, that probably a very few weeks would lay him in his grave. But Adams was as firm as adamant and as resolute as a lion. Among the thousands who saw him dressed in his grotesque hunter’s suit, and witnessed the seeming vigor with which he “performed” the savage monsters, beating and whipping them into apparently the most perfect docility, probably not one suspected that this rough, fierce looking, powerful demi-savage, as he appeared to be, was suffering intense pain from his broken skull and fevered system, and that nothing kept him from stretching himself on his death-bed but his most indomitable and extraordinary will.

Old Adams liked to astonish others, as he often did, with his astounding stories, but no one could astonish him; he had seen everything and knew everything, and I was anxious to get a chance of exposing this weak point to him. A fit occasion soon presented itself. One day, while engaged in my office at the Museum, a man with marked Teutonic features and accent approached the door and asked if I would like to buy a pair of living golden pigeons.

“Yes,” I replied, “I would like a flock of golden pigeons, if I could buy them for their weight in silver; for there are no ‘golden’ pigeons in existence, unless they are made from the pure metal.”

“You shall see some golden pigeons alive,” he replied, at the same time entering my office, and closing the door after him. He then removed the lid from a small basket which he carried in his hand, and sure enough, there were snugly ensconced a pair of beautiful, living ruff-necked pigeons, as yellow as saffron, and as bright as a double-eagle fresh from the mint.

I confess I was somewhat staggered at this sight and quickly asked the man where those birds came from. A dull, lazy smile crawled over the sober face of my German visitor, as he replied in a slow, guttural tone of voice:

“What you think yourself?”

Catching his meaning, I quickly replied:

“I think it is a humbug.”

“Of course, I know you will say so; because you ‘forstha’ such things; so I shall not try to humbug you; I have color them myself.”

On further inquiry I learned that this German was a chemist, and that he possessed the art of coloring birds any hue desired, and yet retain a natural gloss on the feathers, which gave every shade the appearance of reality.

“I can paint a green pigeon or a blue pigeon, a gray pigeon or a black pigeon, a brown pigeon or a pigeon half blue or half green,” said the German; “and if you prefer it, I can paint them pink or purple, or give you a little of each color, and make you a rainbow pigeon.”

The “rainbow pigeon” did not strike me as particularly desirable; but thinking here was a good chance to catch “Grizzly Adams,” I bought the pair of golden pigeons for ten dollars, and sent them up to the “Happy Family” (where I knew Adams would soon see them), marked, “Golden Pigeons, from California.” Mr. Taylor, the great pacificator, who had charge of the Happy Family, soon came down in a state of excitement.

“Really, Mr. Barnum,” said he, “I could not think of putting those elegant golden pigeons into the Happy Family,—they are too valuable a bird, and they might get injured; they are by far the most beautiful pigeons I ever saw; and as they are so rare, I would not jeopardize their lives for anything.”

“Well,” said I, “you may put them in a separate cage, properly labelled.”

Monsieur Guillaudeu, the naturalist and taxidermist of the Museum, had been attached to that establishment since the year it was founded, in 1810. He is a Frenchman, and has read nearly everything upon natural history that was ever published in his own or in the English language. When he saw the “Golden Pigeons from California,” he was considerably astonished. He examined them with great delight for half an hour, expatiating upon their beautiful color and the near resemblance which every feature bore to the American ruff-necked pigeon. He soon came to my office, and said:

“Mr. Barnum, these golden pigeons are superb, but they cannot be from California. Audubon mentions no such bird in his work upon American Ornithology.”

I told him he had better take Audubon home with him that night, and perhaps by studying him attentively he would see occasion to change his mind.

The next day, the old naturalist called at my office and remarked:

“Mr. Barnum, those pigeons are a more rare bird than you imagine. They are not mentioned by Linnæus, Cuvier, Goldsmith, or any other writer on natural history, so far as I have been able to discover. I expect they must have come from some unexplored portion of Australia.”

“Never mind,” I replied, “we may get more light on the subject, perhaps, before long. We will continue to label them ‘California Pigeons’ until we can fix their nativity elsewhere.”

The next morning, “Old Grizzly Adams,” passed through the Museum when his eyes fell on the “Golden California Pigeons.” He looked a moment and doubtless admired. He soon after came to my office.

“Mr. Barnum,” said he, “you must let me have those California pigeons.”

“I can’t spare them,” I replied.

“But you must spare them. All the birds and animals from California ought to be together. You own half of my California menagerie, and you must lend me those pigeons.”

“Mr. Adams, they are too rare and valuable a bird to be hawked about in that manner.”

“Oh, don’t be a fool,” replied Adams. “Rare bird, indeed! Why they are just as common in California as any other pigeon! I could have brought a hundred of them from San Francisco, if I had thought of it.”

“But why did you not think of it?” I asked, with a suppressed smile.

“Because they are so common there,” said Adams, “I did not think they would be any curiosity here. I have eaten them in pigeon-pies hundreds of times, and have shot them by the thousands!”

I was ready to burst with laughter to see how readily Adams swallowed the bait, but maintaining the most rigid gravity, I replied:

“Oh well, Mr. Adams, if they are really so common in California, you had probably better take them, and you may write over and have half a dozen pairs sent to me for the Museum.”

“All right,” said Adams, “I will send over to a friend in San Francisco, and you shall have them here in a couple of months.”

I told Adams that, for certain reasons, I would prefer to have him change the label so as to have it read: “Golden Pigeons from Australia.”

“Well, I will call them what you like,” said Adams; “I suppose they are probably about as plenty in Australia as they are in California.”

Six or eight weeks after this incident, I was in the California Menagerie, and noticed that the “Golden Pigeons” had assumed a frightfully mottled appearance. Their feathers had grown out and they were half white. Adams had been so busy with his bears that he had not noticed the change. I called him up to the pigeon cage, and remarked:

“Mr. Adams, I fear you will lose your Golden Pigeons; they must be very sick; I observe they are turning quite pale.”

Adams looked at them a moment with astonishment, then turning to me, and seeing that I could not suppress a smile, he indignantly exclaimed:

“Blast the Golden Pigeons! You had better take them back to the Museum. You can’t humbug me with your painted pigeons!”

This was too much, and “I laughed till I cried,” to witness the mixed look of astonishment and vexation which marked the grizzly features of old Adams.

After the exhibition on Thirteenth Street and Broadway had been open six weeks, the doctor insisted that Adams should sell out his share in the animals and settle up all his worldly affairs, for he assured him that he was growing weaker every day, and his earthly existence must soon terminate. “I shall live a good deal longer than you doctors think for,” replied Adams doggedly; and then, seeming after all to realize the truth of the doctor’s assertion, he turned to me and said: “Well, Mr. Barnum, you must buy me out.” He named his price for his half of the “show,” and I accepted his offer. We had arranged to exhibit the bears in Connecticut and Massachusetts during the summer, in connection with a circus, and Adams insisted that I should hire him to travel for the season and exhibit the bears in their curious performances. He offered to go for $60 per week and travelling expenses of himself and wife. I replied that I would gladly engage him as long as he could stand it, but I advised him to give up business and go to his home in Massachusetts; “for,” I remarked, “you are growing weaker every day, and at best cannot stand it more than a fortnight.”

“What will you give me extra if I will travel and exhibit the bears every day for ten weeks?” added old Adams, eagerly.

“Five hundred dollars,” I replied, with a laugh.

“Done!” exclaimed Adams, “I will do it, so draw up an agreement to that effect at once. But mind you, draw it payable to my wife, for I may be too weak to attend to business after the ten weeks are up, and if I perform my part of the contract, I want her to get the $500 without any trouble.”

I drew up a contract to pay him $60 per week for his services, and if he continued to exhibit the bears for ten consecutive weeks I was then to hand him, or his wife, $500 extra.

“You have lost your $500!” exclaimed Adams on taking the contract; “for I am bound to live and earn it.”

“I hope you may, with all my heart, and a hundred years more if you desire it,” I replied.

“Call me a fool if I don’t earn the $500!” exclaimed Adams, with a triumphant laugh.

The “show” started off in a few days, and at the end of a fortnight I met it at Hartford, Connecticut.

“Well,” said I, “Adams, you seem to stand it pretty well. I hope you and your wife are comfortable?”

“Yes,” he replied, with a laugh; “and you may as well try to be comfortable, too, for your $500 is a goner.”

“All right,” I replied, “I hope you will grow better every day.”

But I saw by his pale face and other indications that he was rapidly failing. In three weeks more, I met him again at New Bedford, Massachusetts. It seemed to me, then, that he could not live a week, for his eyes were glassy and his hands trembled, but his pluck was as great as ever.

“This hot weather is pretty bad for me,” he said, “but my ten weeks are half expired, and I am good for your $500, and, probably, a month or two longer.”

This was said with as much bravado as if he was offering to bet upon a horse-race. I offered to pay him half of the $500 if he would give up and go home; but he peremptorily declined making any compromise whatever. I met him the ninth week in Boston. He had failed considerably since I last saw him, but he still continued to exhibit the bears although he was too weak to lead them in, and he chuckled over his almost certain triumph. I laughed in return, and sincerely congratulated him on his nerve and probable success. I remained with him until the tenth week was finished, and handed him his $500. He took it with a leer of satisfaction, and remarked, that he was sorry I was a teetotaler, for he would like to stand treat!

Just before the menagerie left New York, I had paid $150 for a new hunting suit, made of beaver skins, similar to the one which Adams had worn. This I intended for Herr Driesbach, the animal tamer, who was engaged by me to take the place of Adams, whenever he should be compelled to give up. Adams, on starting from New York, asked me to loan this new dress to him to perform in once in a while in a fair day, where he had a large audience, for his own costume was considerably soiled. I did so, and now when I handed him his $500, he remarked:

“Mr. Barnum, I suppose you are going to give me this new hunting dress?”

“Oh, no,” I replied, “I got that for your successor, who will exhibit the bears to-morrow; besides, you have no possible use for it.”

“Now, don’t be mean, but lend me the dress, if you won’t give it to me, for I want to wear it home to my native village.”

I could not refuse the poor old man anything, and I therefore replied:

“Well, Adams, I will lend you the dress; but you will send it back to me?”

“Yes, when I have done with it,” he replied, with an evident chuckle of triumph.

I thought to myself, he will soon be done with it, and replied: “That’s all right.”

A new idea evidently struck him, for, with a brightening look of satisfaction, he said:

“Now, Barnum, you have made a good thing out of the California menagerie, and so have I; but you will make a heap more. So if you won’t give me this new hunter’s dress, just draw a little writing, and sign it, saying that I may wear it until I have done with it.”

Of course, I knew that in a few days at longest, he would be “done” with this world altogether, and, to gratify him, I cheerfully drew and signed the paper.

“Come, old Yankee, I’ve got you this time—see if I haint!” exclaimed Adams, with a broad grin, as he took the paper.

I smiled, and said:

“All right, my dear fellow; the longer you live the better I shall like it.”

We parted, and he went to Neponset, a small town near Boston, where his wife and daughter lived. He took at once to his bed, and never rose from it again. The excitement had passed away, and his vital energies could accomplish no more. The fifth day after arriving home, the physician told him he could not live until the next morning. He received the announcement in perfect calmness, and with the most apparent indifference; then, turning to his wife, with a smile he requested her to have him buried in the new hunting suit. “For,” said he, “Barnum agreed to let me have it until I have done with it, and I was determined to fix his flint this time. He shall never see that dress again.” His wife assured him that his request should be complied with. He then sent for the clergyman and they spent several hours in communing together.

Adams, who, rough and untutored, had nevertheless, a natural eloquence, and often put his thoughts in good language, said to the clergyman, that though he had told some pretty big stories about his bears, he had always endeavored to do the straight thing between man and man. “I have attended preaching every day, Sundays and all,” said he, “for the last six years. Sometimes an old grizzly gave me the sermon, sometimes it was a panther; often it was the thunder and lightning, the tempest, or the hurricane on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, or in the gorges of the Rocky Mountains; but whatever preached to me, it always taught me the majesty of the Creator, and revealed to me the undying and unchanging love of our kind Father in heaven. Although I am a pretty rough customer,” continued the dying man, “I fancy my heart is in about the right place, and look with confidence for that rest which I so much need, and which I have never enjoyed upon earth.” He then desired the clergyman to pray with him, after which he took him by the hand, thanked him for his kindness, and bade him farewell. In another hour his spirit had taken its flight. It was said by those present, that his face lighted into a smile as the last breath escaped him, and that smile he carried into his grave. Almost his last words were: “Won’t Barnum open his eyes when he finds I have humbugged him by being buried in his new hunting dress?” That dress was indeed the shroud in which he was entombed.

And that was the last on earth of “Old Grizzly Adams.”

After the death of Adams, the grizzly bears and other animals were added to the collection in my Museum, and I employed Herr Driesbach, the celebrated lion-tamer, as an exhibitor. Some time afterwards the bears were sold to a menagerie company, but I kept “old Neptune,” the sea-lion, for several years, sending him occasionally for exhibition in other cities, as far west as Chicago. This noble and ferocious animal was a very great curiosity and attracted great attention. He was kept in a large tank, which was supplied with salt water every day from the Fall River steamboats, whose deck hands filled my barrels on every passage to the



city with salt water from the deepest part of Long Island Sound. On his tours through the country the sea-lion lived very well in fresh water.

It was at one time my serious intention to engage in an American Indian Exhibition on a stupendous scale. I proposed to secure at the far West not less than one hundred of the best specimens of full-blood Indians, with their squaws and papooses, their paint, ponies, dresses, and weapons, for a general tour throughout the United States and Europe. The plan comprehended a grand entry at every town and city where the Indians were to exhibit—the Indians in all the glory of paint and feathers, beads and bright blankets, riding on their ponies, followed by tame buffaloes, elks and antelopes; then an exhibition on a lot large enough to admit of a display of all the Indian games and dances, their method of hunting, their style of cooking, living, etc. Such an exhibition is perfectly practicable now to any one who has the capital and tact to undertake it, and a sure fortune would follow the enterprise.

On the 13th of October, 1860, the Prince of Wales, then making a tour in the United States, in company with his suite, visited the American Museum. This was a very great compliment, since it was the only place of amusement the Prince attended in this country. Unfortunately, I was in Bridgeport at the time, and the Museum was in charge of my manager, Mr. Greenwood. Knowing that the name of the American Museum was familiar throughout Europe, I was quite confident of a call from the Prince, and from regard to his filial feelings I had, a day or two after his arrival in New York, ordered to be removed to a dark closet a frightful wax figure of his royal mother, which, for nineteen years, had excited the admiration of the million and which bore a placard with the legend, “An exact likeness of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, taken from life.” Mr. Greenwood, who was an Englishman, was deeply impressed with the condescension of the Prince, and backed his way through the halls, followed by the Prince, the Duke of Newcastle, and other members of the royal suite, and he actually trembled as he attempted to do the reception honors.

Presently they arrived in front of the platform on which were exhibited the various living human curiosities and monstrosities. The tall giant woman made her best bow; the fat boy waddled out and kissed his hand; the “negro turning white” showed his ivory and his spots; the dwarfs kicked up their heels, and like the clown in the ring, cried “here we are again”; the living skeleton stalked out, reminding the Prince, perhaps, of the wish of Sidney Smith in a hot day that he could lay off his flesh and sit in his bones; the Albino family went through their performances; the “What is it?” grinned; the Infant Drummer-boy beat a tattoo; and the Aztec children were shown and described as specimens of a remarkable and ancient race in Mexico and Central America. The Prince and his suite seemed pleased, and Greenwood was duly delighted. He was, however, quite overwhelmed with the responsibility of his position, especially whenever the Prince addressed him, and leading the way to the wax figure hall he called attention to the figures of the Siamese Twins and the Quaker Giant and his wife.

“I suppose,” said the Prince, “these figures are representatives of different living curiosities exhibited from time to time in your Museum?”

“Yes, your Royal Highness, all of them,” replied the confused Greenwood, and as “all of them” included very fair figures of the Emperors Nicholas and Napoleon, the Empress Eugenie, and other equally distinguished personages, the Prince must have thought that the Museum had contained, in times past, some famous “living curiosities.” On leaving the Museum, the Prince asked to see Mr. Barnum, and when he was told that I was out of town, he remarked: “We have missed the most interesting feature of the establishment.” A few days afterwards, when the Prince was in Boston, happening to be in that city, I sent my card to him at the Revere House, and was cordially received. He smiled when I reminded him that I had seen him when he was a little boy, on the occasion of one of my visits to Buckingham Palace with General Tom Thumb. The Prince told me that he was much pleased with his recent inspection of my Museum, and that he and his suite had left their autographs in the establishment, as mementos of their visit.

When I arrived in Boston, by the by, on this visit, the streets were thronged with the military and citizens assembled to receive the Prince of Wales, and I had great difficulty, in starting from the depot to the Revere House, in getting through the assembled crowd. At last, a policeman espied me, and taking me for Senator Stephen A. Douglas, he cried out, at the top of his voice: “Make way there for Judge Douglas’s carriage.” The crowd opened a passage for my carriage at short notice, and shouted out “Douglas, Douglas, hurrah for Douglas.” I took off my hat and bowed, smiling from the windows on each side of my carriage; the cheers and enthusiasm increased as I advanced, and all the way to the Revere House I continued to bow Judge Douglas’s grateful acknowledgments for the enthusiastic reception. There must have been at least fifty thousand people who joined in this spontaneous demonstration in honor of Judge Douglas.

When Douglas ran for the presidency in 1860, my democratic friend, J. D. Johnson, bet me a hat that the Judge would be elected. Douglas passed through Bridgeport on his electioneering tour down East, and made a brief speech from the rear platform of the car, to the people assembled at the depot. The next day Mr. Johnson met me in a crowded barber shop and asked me if I had ever seen Douglas? I answered that I had, and Johnson then asked what sort of a looking man he was. Remembering our hat bet, and knowing that Johnson expected a pretty hard description of his favorite candidate, I said:

“He is a red-nosed, blear-eyed, dumpy, swaggering chap, looking like a regular bar-room loafer.”

“I thought as much,” said Johnson, “for here is the New Haven paper of this morning, which says that he is the very image, in personal appearance, of P. T. Barnum.”

When the roar that followed subsided, I told Johnson I must have had some other man in my mind’s eye, when I answered his question.

One day I went out of the Museum in great haste to Tom Higginson’s barber shop, in the Park Hotel, where my daily tonsorial operations were performed, and finding a rough-looking Hibernian just ahead of me, I told him that if he would be good enough to give me his “turn,” I would pay his bill; to which he consented, and taking his turn and my own shave, I speedily departed, saying to Tom, as I went out: “Fix out this man, and for whatever he has done I will pay the bill.”

Two or three clerks and reporters, who were in the shop, and who knew me, put their freshly-dressed heads together and suggested to Tom that here was an opportunity to perpetrate a practical joke on Barnum, and they explained the plan, in which Higginson readily acquiesced.

“Now,” says one of them to the Irishman, “get everything done which you like, and it will cost you nothing; it will be charged to the gentleman to whom you gave your turn.”

“Sure and a liberal gintleman he must be,” said Pat.

“Will you take a bath?” asked the barber.

“That indade I will, if the gintleman pays,” was the reply.

When he came out of the bath he was asked if he would be shampooed. “And what is that?” asked the bewildered Hibernian. The process was explained and he consented to go through with the operation. Thereafter, moved and instigated thereto by the barber and his confederates, Pat permitted Higginson to dye his red hair and whiskers a beautiful brown, and then to curl them. When all was done, the son of Erin looked in the mirror and could scarcely believe the evidence of his own eyes. A more thorough transformation could scarcely be conceived, and as he went out of the door he said to Higginson:

“Give the generous gintleman me best complements and tell him he can have my turn ony day on the same terms.”

One of the newspaper reporters, who assisted in the joke, published the whole story the next day, and when I called at the barber shop a bill for $1.75 was presented, which, of course, I could do no less than to pay. The joke went the rounds of the papers; and after a few months, an English friend sent me the whole story in a copy of the London Family Herald—a publication that issues about half a million of copies weekly. Mr. Currier, the lithographer, put the joke into pictorial form, representing the Irishman as he appeared before, also as he appeared after the “barbar-ous” operations. After all, it was a good advertisement for me, as well as for Higginson; and it would have been pretty difficult to serve me up about these times in printers’ ink in any form that I should have objected to.

Meanwhile, the Museum flourished better than ever; and I began to make large holes in the mortgages which covered the property of my wife in New York and in Connecticut. Still, there was an immense amount of debts resting upon all her real estate, and nothing but time, economy, industry and diligence would remove the burdens.






FOR nearly five years my family had been knocked about, the sport of adverse fortune, without a settled home. Sometimes we boarded, and at other times we lived in a small hired house. Two of my daughters were married, and my youngest daughter, Pauline, was away at boarding school. The health of my wife was much impaired, and she especially needed a fixed residence which she could call “home.” Accordingly, in 1860, I built a pleasant house adjoining that of my daughter Caroline, in Bridgeport, and one hundred rods west of the grounds of Iranistan. I had originally a tract of twelve acres, but half of it had been devoted to my daughter, and on the other half I now proposed to establish my own residence. To prepare the site it was necessary to cart in several thousands of loads of dirt to fill up the hollow and to make the broad, beautiful lawn, in the centre of which I erected the new house, and after supplying the place with fountains, shrubbery, statuary and all that could adorn it, I named my new home “Lindencroft.” It was, in truth, a very delightful place, complete and convenient in all respects, and there is scarcely a more beautiful residence in Bridgeport now.

Meanwhile, my pet city, East Bridgeport, was progressing with giant strides. The Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine manufactory had been quadrupled in size, and employed about a thousand workmen. Numerous other large factories had been built, and scores of first-class houses were erected, besides many neat, but smaller and cheaper houses for laborers and mechanics. That piece of property, which, but eight years before, had been farm land, with scarcely six houses upon the whole tract, was now a beautiful new city, teeming with busy life, and looking as neat as a new pin. The greatest pleasure which I then took, or even now take, was in driving through those busy streets, admiring the beautiful houses and substantial factories, with their thousands of prosperous workmen, and reflecting that I had, in so great a measure, been the means of adding all this life, bustle and wealth to the City of Bridgeport. And reflection on this subject only confirmed in my mind the great doctrine of compensations. How plain was it in my case, that an “apparent evil” was a “blessing in disguise!” How palpable was it now, that, had it not been for the clock failure, this prosperity could not have existed here. An old citizen of Bridgeport used to say to me, when, a few years before, he had noticed my zeal in trying to build up the east side:

“Mr. Barnum, your contemplated new city is like a fire made with chestnut wood; it burns so long as you keep blowing it, and when you stop, it goes out!”

I like, now-a-days to laugh at him about his “chestnut wood fire.” Of course, I did blow the fire in all possible ways, but the result proved that the wood which fed the fire was not chestnut, but the best and soundest old hickory. The situation was everything that could be desired, and I knew that in order to induce manufacturers to establish their business in the new city, a prime requisite was the advantage I could offer to employers, agents and workmen, to secure good and cheap homes in the vicinity of their place of labor. To show the method I adopted to secure this end, I copy from the files of the Bridgeport Standard, an offer which I made, and the editorial comment thereon. This offer, I may add, was not so much for the purpose of blowing the fire, which was already fairly roaring with a lively blaze, as for the sake of helping those who were willing to help themselves, and, at the same time, contribute to my happiness, as well as their own, by forwarding the growth of the new city.



“There is a demand at the present moment for two hundred more dwelling-houses in East Bridgeport. It is evident that if the money expended in rent can be paid towards the purchase of a house and lot, the person so paying will in a few years own the house he lives in, instead of always remaining a tenant. In view of this fact, I propose to loan money at six per cent to any number, not exceeding fifty, industrious, temperate and respectable individuals, who desire to build their own houses.

“They may engage their own builders, and build according to any reasonable plan (which I may approve), or I will have it done for them at the lowest possible rate, without a farthing profit to myself or agent, I putting the lot at a fair price and advancing eighty per cent of the entire cost; the other party to furnish twenty per cent in labor, material or money, and they may pay me in small sums weekly, monthly or quarterly, any amount not less than three per cent per quarter, all of which is to apply on the money advanced until it is paid.

“It has been ascertained that by purchasing building materials for cash, and in large quantities, nice dwellings, painted and furnished with green blinds, can be erected at a cost of $1,500 or $1,800, for house, lot, fences, etc., all complete, and if six or eight friends prefer to join in erecting a neat block of houses with verandas in front, the average cost need not exceed about $1,300 per house and lot. If, however, some parties would prefer a single or double house that would cost $2,500 to $3,000, I shall be glad to meet their views.

P. T. Barnum.

“February 16, 1864.”

The editor of the Standard printed the following upon my announcement:

An Advantageous Offer.—We have read with great pleasure Mr. Barnum’s advertisement, offering assistance to any number of persons, not exceeding fifty, in the erection of dwelling houses. This plan combines all the advantages and none of the objections of Building Associations. Any individual who can furnish in cash, labor, or material, one-fifth only of the amount requisite for the erection of a dwelling house, can receive the other four-fifths from Mr. Barnum, rent his house and by merely paying what may be considered as only a fair rent for a few years, find himself at last the owner, and all further payments cease. In the mean time, he can be making such inexpensive improvements in his property as would greatly improve its market value, and besides have the advantage of any rise in the value of real estate. It is not often that such a generous offer is made to working men. It is a loan on what would be generally considered inadequate security, at six per cent, at a time when a much better use of money can be made by any capitalist. It is therefore generous. Mr. Barnum may make money by the operation. Very well, perhaps he will, but if he does, it will be by making others richer, not poorer; by helping those who need assistance, not by hindering them, and we can only wish that every rich man would follow such a noble example, and thus, without injury to themselves, give a helping hand to those who need it. Success to the enterprise. We hope that fifty men will be found before the week ends, each of whom desires in such a manner to obtain a roof which he can call his own.”

Quite a number of men at once availed themselves of my offer, and eventually succeeded in paying for their homes without much effort. I am sorry to add, that rent is still paid, month after month, by many men who would long ago have owned neat homesteads, free from all incumbrances, if they had accepted my proposals and had signed and kept the temperance pledge, and given up the use of tobacco. The money they have since expended for whiskey and tobacco, would have given them a house of their own, if the money had been devoted to that object, and their positions, socially and morally, would have been far better than they are to-day. How many infatuated men there are in all parts of the country, who could now be independent, and even owners of their own carriages, but for their slavery to these miserable habits!

I built a number of houses to let, in order to accommodate those who were unable to buy. I find this the most unpleasant part of my connection with the new city. The interest on the investment, the taxes, repairs, wear and tear, and insurance render tenant-houses the most unprofitable property to own; besides which the landlord is often looked upon by the tenants as an overbearing, grasping man and one whose property it is their highest duty to injure as much as possible; for all concerned therefore, it is much better that every person should somehow manage to own the roof he sleeps under. Men are more independent and feel happier who live in their own houses; they keep the premises in neater order, and they make better citizens. Hence I always encourage poor people to become householders if possible, for I find that oftentimes when they have lived long in one of my houses they think it very hard if the property is not given to them. They argue that the landlord is rich and would never feel the loss of one little place, not stopping to consider that the aggregate of a great many “little places” thus given away would make the landlord poor,—nor would the tenants be benefited so much by homes that were given to them as they would by homes that were the fruits of their own industry and economy.

The land in East Bridgeport was originally purchased by me at from $50 to $75, and from those sums to $300 per acre; and the average cost of all I bought on that side of the river was $200 per acre. Some portions of this land are now assessed in the Bridgeport tax-list at from $3,000 to $4,000 per acre. At the time I joined Mr. Noble in this enterprise, the site we purchased was not a part of the City of Bridgeport. It is now, however, a most important section of the city, and the three bridges connecting the two banks of the river, and originally chartered as toll-bridges, have been bought by the city and thrown open as free highways to the public. A horse railroad, in which I took one-tenth part of the stock, connects the two portions of the city, extending westerly beyond Iranistan and Lindencroft, while a branch road runs to the beautiful “Sea-side Park” on the Sound shore.

The eastern line of East Bridgeport, when I first purchased so large a portion of the property, was bounded by a long, narrow swale or valley of salt meadow, through which a small stream passed, and which was flooded with salt water at every tide. At considerable expense, I erected a dam at the foot of this meadow, and thus converted this heretofore filthy, repulsive, mosquito-inhabited and malaria-breeding marsh into a charming sheet of water, which is now known as Pembroke Lake. If this improvement had not been made, in all probability the eastern portion of my property would never have been devoted to dwelling houses; as it is, Barnum Street has