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taining money under false pretences." After informing us that he was born on the 5th of July, 1810, or in his own words, that "the cannon had ceased to thunder forth their remembrances of our National Anniversary, the smoke had all cleared away, the drums had finished,” (it is to be hoped they concluded with “See the conquering hero comes, ")" and when peace and quiet were restored, I made my debut," — he proceeds to give us some details of his boyish days and companions, pursuits, turn for trading ginger-bread and sugar-candies, first visit to New York, and other equally interesting facts, which he expects will be read with the same avidity as the record of the boyhood of Pitt, of Byron, of Edmund Burke, of Moore, or of any other of those men equally great with himself. Mr. Barnum appears to have learned some of the tricks of bookmaking in addition to his other accomplishments, for he informs us with the most charming naiveté, that knowing what tricks his grandfather, in the character of a professed practical joker, had played off, he pumped the old gentleman for facetiæ to swell his volume. These anecdotes, with a great many more of his own experience or invention, fill a considerable part of the book, and may be briefly described as details of low roguery, or coarse horse play, with all the vulgarity, without the fun or extravagance of Sam Slick's selections from American humorists. While on this matter we shall give one of this collection, a case of diamond cut diamond, which is, it must be admitted, a very wonderful specimen of that 'cateness for which Yankees are proverbial.
" What is the price of razor strops," inquired my grandfather of a pedlar, whose waggon, loaded with Yankee notions, stood in front of our store.
“A dollar each for Pomeroy's strops," responded the itinerant.
"A dollar a piece," exclaimed my grandfather, "they'll be sold for half the money before the year is out.”
** If one of Pomeroy's strops is sold for fifty cents within a year, I'll make you a present of one,” replied the pedlar.
"I'll purchase one on these conditions. "Now Ben, I call you to witness the contract," said my grandfather, addressing himself to Esquire Hoyt.
" All right,” responded Ben. “Yes," said the pedlar,““I'll do as I say and there's no back-out in me." My grandfather took the strop and put it in his side coat-pocket. Presently drawing it out and turning to Esquire Hoyt he said.“ Ben, I don't much like this strop now that I have bought it. How much will you give me for it?” *** Well, I guess, seeing it's you, I'll give fifty cents," drawled the squire, with a wicked twinkle in his eye,
which said that the strop' and the pedlar were both incontinently sold.
“ You can take it. I guess I'll get along with my old one a spell longer," said my grandfather, giving the pedlar a knowing look.
The strop changed hands, and the pedlar exclaimed, “I acknowledge, gentlemen; what's to pay?" .
“ Treat the company, and confess you are taken in, or else give me a strop," replied my grandfather.
“ I never will confess nor treat," said the pedlar, “but I'll give you a strop for your wit ;" and suiting the action to the word, he handed a second strop to his customer. A hearty laugh ensued in which the pedlar joined.
“ Some pretty sharp fellows here in Bethel,” said a byestander addressing the pedlar.
“ Tolerable, but nothing to brag of,” replied the pedlar ; “ I have made seventy-five cents by the operation,"
“How is that?" was the inquiry.
“I have received a dollar for two strops which cost me only twelve and a half cents each," replied the pedlar ; " but having heard of the cute tricks of the Bethel chaps, I thought I would look out for them and fix my prices accordingly. I generally sell these strops at twentyfive cents each, but, gentlemen, if you want any more at fifty cents a piece I shall be bappy to supply your whole village." Our neighbours laughed out of the other side of their mouths, but no more strops were purchased.”
The first recorded specimen of ingenuity (some people would call it by a harder name) worthy of note of which this excellent Barnuin gives us the details, was practised at somewhat about the age of sixteen. The only thing that seems puzzling to us in the matter is, that it should have been for the benefit of his employers, and not a little private speculation of his own. It may be, however, that he wished to test the gullibility of the public, the experiment being made at another's risk. We have learned from himself quite enough of his proficiency in scheming, but we doubt if his natural or acquired love for dirty ways would have been a sufficient inducement for him to exercise his abilities when he did not expect a fair share of the profits.
We sliall permit Mr. Barnum to tell the story in his own language :
« On one occasion a pedlar called at our store with a large waggon filled with common green glass bottles of various sizes, holding from half a pint to a gallon. My employers were both absent, and I bantered him to trade his whole load of bottles in exchange for goods. Thinking me a greenhorn he accepted my proposition, and I managed to pay him off in unsaleable goods at exorbitant prices. Soon after he departed, Mr. Keeler returned, and found his little store half filled with bottles !"
After explaining that he had got the bottles at less than half the wholesale price, from the worthlessness of the goods he had given in exchange for them, he proceeded to broach his plan, which was to dispose, by a lottery, of the bottles and large quantities of tinware which had been in the store for some years, and had become begrimed with dirt and fly-specks :“On the first wet day, therefore, when there were but few customers, I spent several hours in making up my scheme. The highest prize was twenty-five dollars, payable in any kind of goods the customer desired. Then I had fifty prizes of five dollars each, designating in my scheme what goods each prize should consist of. For instance, one five-dollar prize consisted of one pair of cotton hose, one cotton handkerchief, two tin cups, four pint glass bottles, three tin skimmers, one quart glass bottle, six tin nutmeg graters, eleven half-pint glass bottles, &c. &c.-the glass and hardware always forming the greater portion of each prize. I had one hundred prizes of one dollar each, one hundred prizes of fifty cents each, and three hundred prizes of twenty-five cents each. There were 1000 tickets at 50 cents each. The prizes amounted to the same as the tickets-500 dollars" (he means in value but has enough of grace not to say so). “I had taken an idea here from the church lottery in which my grandfather was manager, and had many prizes of only half the cost of the tickets. I headed the scheme with glaring capitals, written in my best hand, sitting forth that it was a “magnificent lottery ! 25 dollars for only 50 cents !-over 550 prizes ! only 1000 tickets !! goods put in at the lowest cash prices ! ! ! &c. &c.
The tickets went like wild fire: customers did not stop to consider the nature of the prizes.”
The drawing takes place, and with the most perfect coolness Mr. Barnum relates numerous amusing little details connected with the prizes :
“A young lady who had drawn five dollars would find herself entitled to a piece of tape, a spool of cotton, a paper of pins, sixteen tin skimmers, cups, and nutmeg graters, and
a few dozen glass bottles of various sizes! She would beg me to retain the glass and hardware and pay her in some other goods, but was informed that such a proceeding would be contrary to the rules of the establishment, and could not be entertained for a moment.
One man would find all his prizes to consist of tinware. Another would discover that out of twenty tickets he had drawn perhaps ten prizes, and that they consisted entirely of glass bottles. Some of the customers were vexed, but most of them laughed at the joke.* My grandfather enjoyed my lottery speculation very much, and seemed to agree with many others, who declared that I was indeed a chip of the old block.'"
After confiding to his reader several of his vicissitades as a storekeeper, a lottery office keeper, a clerk, &c. and his courtship and marriage at the precocious age of nineteen (certainly as
far as having his wits about him he was fit to undertake a much more serious responsibility than matrimony) we find the account of his first attempts as a showman. A Mr. Coley Bartram, in the latter part of July 1835, called at his store, and informed him that he had earned a share in a celebrated negro woman named Joice Heth, who was upwards of 161 years of age, and had been nurse to Washington, and that he had disposed of his interest in her to Mr. R. W. Lindsay, who being an inefficient showman was anxious to sell out. "Barnum hasting forthwith to see this phenomenon, and judge for himself as to the likelihood of carrying on the cheat of passing off an ordinary old negro woman as double her actual age, declares :
“I was favourably struck with the appearance of the old woman. So far as outward indications were concerned, she might almost as well have been called a thousand years old as any other age. She was lying upon a high lounge in the middle of the room ; her lower extremities were drawn up, with her knees elevated some two feet above the top of the lounge ; she was apparently in good health and spirits, but former disease or old age, or perhaps both combined, had rendered her unable to change her position ; in fact, although she could move one of her arms at will, her lower limbs were fixed in their position, and could not be straightened. She was totally blind, and her eyes were so deeply sunken in their sockets that the eyeballs seemed to have disappeared altogether. She had no teeth, but possessed a head of thick bushy gray hair : her left arm lay across her breast, and she had no power to remove it. The fingers of her left hand were drawn down so as nearly to close it, and remained fixed and immovable. The nails upon that hand were about four inches in length, and extended above her wrist : the nails upon her large toes also had grown to the thickness of nearly a quarter of an inch.”
Having thus ascertained that as far as get-up was concerned, to use a theatrical phrase, the old woman looked her part, Barnum proceeds to inquire into the veritable document purporting to be a bill of sale of Joice Heth from Augustine Washington to Elizabeth Atwood, dated 1727, and stating the age of Joice Heth to be fifty-four, which is said to prove the age of Joice. This document came from the Record Office of Virginia, and was even to be one of the great features of the exhibition, lying in state like the old woman, with this difference, that one was under a glass-case and the other not. He was told that Joice had been pining neglected in an outhouse of John Bowling for several years, and that it was the accident of seeing this document which led to her discovery and promotion. Barnum was too shrewd a man not to know well that the whole thing was a perfect farce, and that he had not a particle of evidence to support the assertion as to the old
woman's age; yet, as he says, “the whole account appeared to me satisfactory, and I inquired the price of the negress.” That is, it appeared to me that with the assistance of the press I could gull the public, and that the evidence was sufficient for that purpose, and therefore“ satisfactory." The old woman told stories about Washington, and sang hymns, all of which reilected a great deal of credit or rather discredit on her ingenious trainers. It must strike any reader that one link was wanting to make out the truth of the statement as to Joice Heth's age, namely, identification of the individual exhibited with the person named in the document. If Mr. Barnum is so easily satisfied, we could undertake to produce one of King James's troopers who was engaged at the Battle of the Boyne. We should first pick up an old muster roll of one of the troops, and take, say Peter Finnerty or Thomas Fogarty, and descending into those unknown parts where aboundthose rejoicing in the above distinguishedsurnames, pick np some terribly withered old peasant (if bed-ridden all ihe better), cram hin with a few facts, etc, produce him in London, and make him relate the fall of Schomberg, and the pluck of William the Third.
This by the way; Joice Heth became the property of the excellent Barnum, and between advertisements and editoral articles in the New York Sun, New York Evening Star, New York Daily Advertiser, New York Courier and Express, and New York Spirit, from all of which extracts are kindly given in the book, Joice Heth proved a complete triumph, and brought store of dollars to her lord and master. When the exhibitions began to flag in any city or town, resort was had to various artful contrivances to attract public attention to the exhibition. We shall mention one: when the audiences began to decrease in number, a short communication appeared in one of the newspapers signed "A Visitor,” in which the writer claimed to have made an important discovery. He stated that Joice Heth as at present exhibited was a humbug, whereas if the simple truth was told in regard to the exhibition, it was really vastly curious and interesting :