A Unique Story of a Marvellous Career. Life of Hon. Phineas T. Barnum, by Joel Benton.
Joel Benton

Part 2 out of 8

washing clothes in front of the door, I inquired--" 'Hello! 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--" 'Hey?'

" '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.

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

"In going from Columbus, Ga., to Montgomery, Ala., 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 Mt. 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' leveled 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-inforced 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."

At the end of February, 1837, they reached Montgomery, and there
Barnum sold a half interest in his show to Henry Hawley, a
sleight-of-hand performer. He was a very clever fellow and was
never known to be non-plussed or embarrassed in his tricks,
except upon one occasion. This was when he was performing the
well-known egg and bag trick, which he did with great success,
taking egg after egg from the bag and finally breaking one to
show that they were genuine. "Now," said he "I will show you the
old hen that laid them." But it happened that the negro boy to
whom had been intrusted the duty of supplying "properties," had
made a slight mistake. The result was that Hawley triumphantly
produced not "the old hen that laid the eggs," but a most
palpable and evident rooster. The audience roared with laughter,
and Hawley, completely taken aback, fled in confusion to his
dressing room, uttering furious maledictions upon the boy who was
the author of his woe.

The show visited various places in Alabama, Tennessee and
Kentucky, and finally disbanded at Nashville in May, 1837.
Vivalla went to New York and gave some performances on his own
account before sailing for Cuba. Hawley remained in Tennessee,
and Barnum went home to his family. Early in July, however, he
formed a new company and went back to rejoin Hawley. But they
were not successful, and in August they parted again, Barnum
forming a new partnership with one Z. Graves. He then went to
Tiffin, Ohio, where he re-engaged Joe Pentland and got together
the nucleus of a new company.

During his short stay at Tiffin, Barnum got into a discussion
with various gentlemen on religious subjects, and in response to
their invitation lectured, or preached, in the school-house on
Sunday afternoon and evening. He also went to the neighboring
town of Republic and delivered two lectures.

On his way back to Kentucky, just before he reached Cincinnati,
he met a drove of hogs. One of the drivers made an insolent
remark because the circus wagons interfered with the driving of
the hogs, and Barnum responded angrily. Thereupon the fellow
jumped from his horse, pointed a pistol at Barnum's breast and
swore he would shoot him if he did not apologize. Barnum asked
permission to speak first to a friend in the next wagon, after
which, he said, he would give the man full satisfaction. The
"friend" proved to be a loaded double barrelled gun, which Barnum
leveled at the hog-driver's head, saying:

"Now, sir, you must apologize, or have your brains blown out. You
drew a weapon upon me for a careless remark. You seem to hold
human life at a cheap price. Now you have the choice between a
load of shot and an apology."

The man apologized promptly, a pleasant conversation ensued, and
they parted excellent friends.

On this tour they exhibited at Nashville, where Barnum visited
General Jackson at the Hermitage; at Huntsville, Tuscaloosa,
Vicksburg and various other places, generally doing well. At
Vicksburg they bought a steamboat and went down the river,
stopping at every important landing to exhibit. At Natchez their
cook deserted them, and Barnum set out to find another. He found
a white woman who was willing to go, only she expected to marry a
painter in that town, and did not want to leave him. Barnum went
to see the painter and found that he had not fully made up his
mind whether to marry the woman or not. Thereupon the
enterprising showman told the painter that if he would marry the
woman the next morning he would hire him for $25 a month as
painter, and his bride at the same wages as cook, give them both
their board and add a cash bonus of $50. There was a wedding on
the boat the next day, and they had a good cook and a good

During one evening performance at Francisville, Louisiana, a man
tried to pass Barnum at the door of the tent, claiming that he
had paid for admittance. Barnum refused him entrance; and as he
was slightly intoxicated, he struck Barnum with a slung shot,
mashing his 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 the showmen to pack up their
"traps and plunder" and to get on board their steamboat within an
hour. The big tent speedily came down. No one was permitted to
help, but the company worked with a will, and within five minutes
of the expiration of the hour they were on board and ready to
leave. The scamps who had caused their departure escorted them
and their last load, waving pine torches, and saluted them with a
hurrah as they swung into the stream.

The New Orleans papers of March 19th, 1838, announced the arrival
of the "Steamer Ceres, Captain Barnum, with a theatrical
company." After a week's performance, they started for the
Attakapas country. At Opelousas they exchanged the steamer for
sugar and molasses; the company was disbanded, and Barnum started
for home, arriving in New York. June 4th, 1838.



Looking around now for some permanent business, Barnum at last
resorted to the expedient of advertising for a partner, stating
that he had $2,500 to invest, and was willing to add his entire
personal attention to the business. He was immediately
overwhelmed with answers, the most of them coming from sharpers.
One was a counterfeiter who wanted $2,500 to invest in paper,
ink, and dies.

One applicant was a sedate individual dressed in sober drab; he
proposed to buy a horse and wagon and sell oats in bags, trusting
that no one would be particular in measuring after a Quaker.

"Do you mean to cheat in measuring your oats?" asked Barnum.

"Well," said the Quaker, with a significant leer, "I shall
probably make them hold out."

Finally Barnum decided to go into business with a good-looking,
plausible German, named Proler, who was a manufacturer of
paste-blacking, cologne, and bear's grease. They opened a store
at No. 101 1/2 Bowery, where Proler manufactured the goods, and
Barnum kept accounts and attended to sales in the store. The
business prospered, or appeared to, until the capital was
exhausted, and early in 1840 Barnum sold out his interest to
Proler, taking the German's note for $2,600, which was all he
ever got, Proler shortly afterward running away to Rotterdam.

Barnum had formed the acquaintance of a very clever young dancer
named John Diamond, and soon after leaving the paste-blacking
enterprise, he gathered together a company of singers, etc.,
which, with the dancer, Diamond, he placed in the hands of an
agent, not caring to have his name appear in the transaction. He
hired the Vauxhall Garden Saloon in New York and gave a variety
of performances. This, however, proved unprofitable, and was
abandoned after a few months.

Much as Barnum dreaded resuming the life of an itinerant showman,
there seemed nothing else to be done, so January 2d, 1841, found
him in New Orleans, with a company consisting of C. D. Jenkins,
an excellent Yankee character artist; Diamond, the dancer; a
violinist, and one or two others. His brother-in-law, John
Hallett, acted as advance agent. The venture was fairly
successful, though after the first two weeks in New Orleans, the
manager and proprietor of the show was obliged to pledge his
watch as security for the board-bill. A dancing match between
Diamond and a negro from Kentucky put nearly $500 into Barnum's
pocket, and they continued to prosper until Diamond, after
extorting as much money as possible from his manager, finally ran
away. The other members of the troop caused considerable trouble
later. Jenkins, the Yankee character man, went to St. Louis, and
having enticed Francis Lynch, an orphan protege of Barnum's into
the scheme, proceeded to the Museum, where he exhibited Lynch as
the celebrated dancer, John Diamond. Barnum poured out his wrath
at this swindler in a letter, for which Jenkins threatened suit,
and actually did instigate R. W. Lindsay to bring an action
against Barnum for a pipe of brandy, alleged to have been
included in his contract. Being among strangers, Barnum had some
difficulty in procuring the $500 bond required, and was committed
to jail until late in the afternoon. As soon as he was released,
he had Jenkins arrested for fraud, and then went on his way

After an absence of eight months Barnum found himself back in New
York, resolved never again to be a traveling showman. Contracting
with the publisher, Robert Sears, for five hundred copies of
"Sear's Pictorial Illustrations of the Bible," and accepting the
United States agency for the book, he opened an office at the
corner of Beekman and Nassau Streets. He advertised widely, had
numerous agents, and sold thousands of books, but for all that,
lost money.

While engaged in this business the Vauxhall Saloon was re-opened,
under the management of John Hallett, Mrs. Barnum's brother. At
the end of the season they had cleared about $200. This sum was
soon exhausted, and for the rest of the winter Barnum managed to
eke out a living by writing for the Sunday papers, and getting up
unique advertisements for the Bowery Amphitheatre.

His ambition received a stimulus at last from a friend in
Danbury, who held a mortgage on a piece of property owned by Mr.
Barnum. Mr. Whittlesey wrote that as he was convinced of Mr.
Barnum's inability to lay up money, he thought he might as well
demand the five hundred dollars then as at any time. Barnum's
flagging energies were aroused, and he began in earnest to look
for some permanent investment.

In connection with the Bowery Amphitheatre, the information came
to him that the collection of curiosities comprising Scudder's
American Museum, at the corner of Broadway and Ann Streets, was
for sale. The original proprietor had spent $50,000 on it, and at
his death had left a large fortune as the result of the
speculation. It was now losing money and the heirs offered it for
sale, at the low price of $15,000. Realizing that with tact,
energy, and liberality, the business might be made as profitable
as ever, Barnum resolved to buy it.

"You buy the American Museum!" exclaimed a friend to whom he
confided the scheme. "What will you buy it with?"

"With brass," answered Barnum, "for silver and gold have I none."

And buy it with brass he did, as the story of the transaction

The Museum building belonged to Mr. Francis W. Olmsted, a retired
merchant, to whom he wrote, stating his desire to buy the
collection, and that although he had no means, if it could be
purchased upon reasonable credit, he was confident that his tact
and experience, added to a determined devotion to business, would
enable him to make the payments when due. Barnum therefore asked
him to purchase the collection in his own name; to give a writing
securing it to Barnum, provided he made the payments punctually,
including the rent of his building; to allow Barnum twelve
dollars and a half a week on which to support his family; and if
at any time he failed to meet the installment due, he would
vacate the premises, and forfeit all that might have been paid to
that date. "In fact, Mr. Olmsted." Barnum continued, earnestly,
"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 Barnum took to his house himself,
Mr. Olmsted named an hour when he could call on him. Barnum was
there at the exact moment, and Olmsted was pleased with his
punctuality. He inquired closely as to Barnum's habits and
antecedents, and the latter frankly narrated his experiences as a
caterer for the public, mentioning his amusement ventures in
Vauxhall Garden, the circus, and in the exhibitions he had
managed at the South and West.

"Who are your references?" Olmsted inquired.

"Any man in my line," Barnum 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?"

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

"I don't like your references, Mr. Barnum," said Mr. Olmsted,
abruptly, as soon as he entered the room.

Barnum was confused, and said, "he regretted to hear it."

"They all speak too well of you," Olmsted 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," says Barnum. "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 his
adjoining building, allowing therefor $500 a year, making a total
rental 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
installments, 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 of 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 further 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

"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 unite 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 monkeys and
gander-skins; appealing to the case of the Zoological 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 Crumpit-baking and Punctual Delivery

"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 could 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 document 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."

This newspaper war against the Peales was kept up unceasingly
until one morning in 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 1st, 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. Olmsted'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 dispatch the following
complimentary note:

" 'AMERICAN MUSEUM, NEW YORK, Dec. 27th, 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 furthur
" '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."



With great hopes for the success of his project, Barnum entered
upon the management of the Museum. It was a new epoch in his
career, he felt that the opportunity of his life had presented
itself--in the show business, to be sure, but in a permanent,
substantial phase of it.

He must pay for the establishment within the stipulated time, or
forfeit all he had paid on account. A rigid plan of economy was
determined upon, his wife agreeing to support the family on $600
a year, or even on four hundred if necessary. Barnum himself made
every possible personal retrenchment. One day, some six months
after the purchase had been made, Mr. Olmsted happened into the
ticket office, while the proprietor was eating his lunch of cold
corned beef and bread.

"Is that all you eat for dinner?" asked Mr. Olmsted.

"I have not eaten a warm dinner, except on Sundays, since I
bought the Museum," was the reply, "and I don't intend to, until
I am out of debt."

"That's right," said Mr. Olmsted, heartily, "and you'll pay for
the Museum before the year is out."

And he was right.

The nucleus of this establishment, Scudder's Museum, was formed
in 1810. It was begun in Chatham Street, and was afterward
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, the previous proprietor had
actually expended, as was stated, $50,000 in making the
collection, which valuable as it was when Barnum bought it, was
only the beginning of its subsequent greatness. In 1842 the
entire contents of Peale's Museum was purchased, and in 1850 the
Peale collection of Philadelphia was added. In 1865 the space
occupied for museum purposes was more than twice as large as 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 the 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
afterward, Wednesday afternoons, were devoted to entertainments,
and the popularity of the Museum grew so rapidly that it was
presently found expedient and profitable to open the great
Lecture Room every afternoon, as well as every evening, on every
weekday in the year. The first experiments in this direction more
than justified expectations, for the day exhibitions were always
more thronged than those of the evening.

Holidays, of course, were made the most of, and there is a record
of twelve performances, to as many audiences, being given in one

By degrees the character of the stage performances were changed.
The transient attractions of the Museum were constantly
diversified, and educated dogs, industrious fleas, automatons,
jugglers, ventriloquists, living statuary, tableaux, gypsies,
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 Fantoceini, 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.

No man ever understood the art of advertising better than Barnum.
Knowing that mammon is ever caught with glare, he took pains that
his posters should be larger, his transparencies more brilliant,
his puffing more persistent than anybody elses. And if he
resorted to hyperbole at times in his advertisements, it was
always his boast that no one ever went away from his Museum,
without having received the worth of his money. It used to amuse
Mr. Barnum later in life, to relate some of the unique
advertising dodges which his inventive genius devised. Here is a
fair sample, as he once told it:

"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 resume 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 afterward, 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
afterward returning to his round. This was repeated every hour
until 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 Barnum
had imparted his object, complained that the obstruction of the
sidewalk by crowds, had become so serious that he must call in
his "brick man." This trivial incident excited considerable talk
and amusement; it advertised Barnum; and it materially advanced
his purpose of making a lively corner near the Museum.

Barnum realized above all that to have people pleased with his
attractions was the best advertisement he could possibly have,
and he tried honestly to keep the Museum supplied with every
novelty. A curiosity which possessed some merit, and considerable
absurdity was the celebrated model of Niagara, "with real water."

One day the enterprising proprietor was called before the Board
of Water Commissioners, and informed that he must pay a large
extra compensation for the immense amount of water that supplied
his Niagara. To the astonishment of the Board Mr. Barnum gave his
assurance that a single barrel of water per month served to run
the machine.

Apropos of this wonderful model, Barnum used to tell how he got
even with his friend, Louis Gaylord Clark, editor of the
Knickerbocker, an inveterate joker, and who was fond of guying
the Museum. The first time Clark viewed "Niagara" he assumed
great admiration.

"Well, Barnum, I declare, this is quite an idea; I never saw the
like of this before in all my life."

"No?" inquired Barnum, quite pleased.

"No," said Clark, fervently, "and I hope to the Lord, I never

Barnum might have forgiven this, but Clark's next joke was too
much to bear. He came in one day and asked Barnum if he had the
club with which Captain Cook was killed. The Museum boasted a
large collection of Indian curiosities, and Barnum showed one
warlike weapon which he assured Clark was the identical club and
he had all the documents to prove it.

"Poor Cook! Poor Cook!" said Clark, musingly. "Well, Mr. Barnum,"
he continued, with great gravity, at the same time extending his
hand, "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

But Barnum's turn came. A few weeks afterward, he wrote to Clark
that if he would come to his office he was anxious to consult him
on a matter of great importance. He came, and Barnum said:

"Now, I don't want any of your nonsense, but I want your sober

Clark assured him that he would serve him in any way in his
power, and Barnum proceeded to tell him about a wonderful fish
from the Nile, offered 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.

Barnum assured him that there was no doubt of it.

Thereupon Clark advised Barnum 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. Barnum told him that he thought well of the speculation,
only he did not like the name of the fish.

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

"Tadpole," Barnum replied, with becoming gravity, "but it is
vulgarly called 'pollywog.' "

"Sold, by thunder!" exclaimed Clark, and he left.

Another story is illustrative of some of the trials incident to
theatrical management.

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, Barnum 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! Barnum called an
assistant, and they took La Rue 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 they 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 them
that he should be able to give his imitations "to a charm."

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

He declared that he was "all right," and Barnum led him behind
the scenes, where he waited with considerable trepidation to
watch his movements on the stage. La Rue 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
Barnum had great misgivings as he proceeded; but as no token of
disapprobation came from the audience, he 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. Barnum lost all patience, and, going on
the stage and taking the drunken fellow by the collar, apologized
to the audience, assuring them that he should not appear before
them again. Barnum was about to march him off, when he stepped to
the front, and said:

"Ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Booth has 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. Barnum 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
Barnum was forced to lead the actor off. It was his last
appearance on that stage.

Barnum always denied that the "Feejee Mermaid," which attained
such lasting notoriety, was an invention of his own. It was first
exhibited in London in 1822, where it was purchased by Mr. Moses
Kimball, of the Boston Museum, who sold it to Barnum. The
creature was really most ingeniously constructed, probably by
some Japanese. It drew like magic, and afterward served as a good
advertisement, sent throughout the country for exhibition, the
posters reading, "From Barnum's Great American Museum, New York."

Barnum believed in making his place of exhibition as attractive
as possible, and the building was decorated with flags and
banners, the posters were of the most sensational character, and
the first "Drummond Lights" ever seen in New York were placed on
top of the Museum, flooding the streets around with brilliance.



The fame of the American Museum rose higher and higher. It is
doubtful if any place of entertainment ever attracted such
enthusiastic crowds. It was the first place visited by strangers
in the city.

The small Lecture Room had been converted into a large and
beautiful theatre, and in it many afterward celebrated actors and
actresses made their first appearance; Sothern, Barney Williams,
and the charming Mary Garmon. On holidays there were lecture
performances every hour. The actors kept on their stage clothes
from eleven o'clock in the morning until ten at night, their
meals were served in the green-room, and the company received
extra pay.

The 4th of July, 1842, was a great day in the history of the
Museum. Barnum had planned a magnificent display of American
flags, as one of the outside attractions, and applied to the
vestrymen of St. Paul's Church, opposite the Museum, for
permission to attach his flag-rope to a tree in the church-yard.
Their reply was an indignant refusal. Returning to the Museum,
Barnum directed that his original order concerning the
disposition of the flags be carried out to the letter.

The morning dawned, and the crowds on Broadway were admiring the
display, when two representatives of the baffled vestry rushed
into the office and demanded that the ropes be taken down. "The
Church of St. Paul's, where Washington worshiped, attached to a
Museum! Sacrilege!"

Barnum assumed a conciliatory tone, reminding them that he always
stopped his band playing during their week-day services, and
suggesting the fairness of the obligation being made mutual.

"If those flags are not down in ten minutes," cried one of the
vestrymen, "I will cut them down."

Then Barnum sprang to his feet and exclaimed loudly enough for
the crowd to hear:

"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 birthday of American

"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 the ruse, smiled faintly and
said, "Oh, of course it is all right," and he and his companion
quietly edged out of the crowd.

By one o'clock that day, the Museum was so densely packed that no
more visitors could be admitted, and the proprietor saw with
despair the crowds being turned away from the door. Rushing
down-stairs, he directed the carpenter to cut down the partition
and floor in the rear and to put in a temporary flight of stairs.
The egress was ready by three o'clock, and people poured out into
Ann Street, while the crowd from Broadway poured in. After that,
the egress was always ready on holidays. One of Barnum's most
amusing reminiscences related to this egress.

"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 17th;' 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 thus 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 either, for we've brought our
dinners and we are going to stay all day.'

"Further investigation showed that pretty much all of the
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 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,

{pointing finger} TO THE EGRESS.'

"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."

Barnum had planned to expend the entire profits of the first year
in advertising, but so fast did the money pour in, that he was
often embarrassed to devise means to get rid of it, according to
his first idea. One of the most expensive advertisements
consisted of a large number of oil paintings of every animal in
zoology. These paintings were prepared secretly, and were put
between the windows of the building at night. The town was
paralyzed with astonishment, and the daily receipts took an
upward jump of nearly a hundred dollars.

Flower shows, dog shows, poultry and bird shows, with prizes to
the best specimens, had long been features of the Museum, and at
last Barnum rashly decided on a baby show. There was a prize of
one hundred dollars attached, and a committee of ladies were
appointed to decide on the best baby. The unsuspecting Barnum
stepped into the circle and announced the prize winner, but to
his astonishment the verdict did not suit anybody but the mother
of one baby. The other ninety-nine indignant mothers "jumped on"
to Mr Barnum and the committee, and denounced the whole
proceeding as impartial and unjust. Barnum offered to let them
select a new committee, and even agreed to give another hundred
dollar prize, but the storm raged with unabating fury. There were
baby shows after that, but the verdict was delivered in writing,
and Mr. Barnum never gave the prize in person.

In June, 1843, a herd of yearling buffaloes was on exhibition in
Boston. Barnum 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, 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 the balcony band, which was 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 their laugh over the Buffalo hunt,
Barnum let it become known that he was the author of the joke. Of
course, their cry of "charlatan," "humbug," and "swindler" was
louder than ever from that time, but Barnum never objected to
being celled names. The more advertising the better.

About this time Barnum engaged a band of Indians from Iowa.

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, Barnum had a
high rope barrier placed between them and the savages on the
front of the stage.

Barnum counted one incident in connection with his Indian show as
notable, being one of the few occasions when he played the losing

"After they had been a week in the Museum," he said, "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 woolen 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. 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.



Barnum would never submit to being outdone by a rival. In "poker"
parlance, he would "see him and go one better." His chief
competitor now was Peale, who was running Peale's Museum, and
proudly proclaiming it to be a more scientific institution than
Barnum's. Thus, he said, he was catering to a higher class of

"Science, indeed!" said Barnum. "I'll give him science to his
heart's content!"

Mesmerism was then a great novelty, and Peale was given
exhibitions of it. He had one subject on whom he operated daily,
with most surprising results; though at times she was
unimpressionable, and the people who had paid to come in and see
her performances complained loudly that they were being swindled.
Barnum saw here a great opportunity to squelch a rival and
increase his own fame at a single stroke. He engaged a bright
little girl who was exceedingly susceptible to such mesmeric
influences as he could induce. That is, she learned her lesson
thoroughly, and when he had apparently put her to sleep with a
few passes and stood behind her, she seemed to be duly
"impressed," as he desired; raised her hands as he willed, fell
from her chair to the floor; and if he put candy or tobacco into
his own 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," Barnum
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 his "passes" would not put a man in the mesmeric
state; at the end of three minutes he was as wide awake as ever.

"Never mind," Barnum would say, "looking at his 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." He would
then take out a knife and feel of the edge, and when he turned
around to the girl whom he 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

"Why! where's my little girl?" he asked, with feigned

"Oh! she ran away when you began to talk about cutting off

"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."

Barnum kept up this performance for several weeks, till he quite
killed Peale's "genuine" mesmerism in the rival establishment. At
the end of six months he bought Peale's Museum, and the whole,
including the splendid gallery of American portraits, was removed
to the American Museum, and he immediately advertised the great
card of a "Double Attraction," and "Two Museums in One," without
extra charge.

Barnum was now devoting all his attention and energy to this
enterprise, and was achieving great success. He made everything
contribute to its popularity. When a politician asked him for
what candidate he was going to vote, he would answer, "For the
American Museum;" and this was an index of his whole demeanor.

Among the genuine and literally "great" features of his show were
several giants. They often gave both the showman and his 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 calls his
'study'--meaning, I suppose, the place where he intends to study
his spelling-book!"

He 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 quarreled, 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 the 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, Barnum ran from his private
office to the dueling 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
quarreled no more.

From giants to dwarfs. None of Barnum's attractions has been more
famous than "Tom Thumb." The story of his discovery and
engagement is dated in November, 1842. Barnum was then at
Bridgeport, Conn. One day he heard that there belonged in one of
the families of the place a phenomenally small child, and he got
his brother, Philo F. Barnum, to bring the little fellow to his
hotel. "He was," Barnum afterward said, "not two feet high; he
weighed less than sixteen pounds, and was the smallest child I
ever saw that could walk alone; 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. I engaged him for four weeks, at
three dollars a week, with all traveling and boarding charges for
himself and his mother at my expense. They came to New York
Thanksgiving day, December 8th, 1842, and I announced the dwarf
on my Museum bills as 'General Tom Thumb.' "

Barnum took the greatest pains to educate and train the
diminutive prodigy, devoting many hours to the task by day and by
night, and he was very successful, for the boy was an apt pupil,
with a great deal of native talent, and a keen sense of the
ludicrous. Barnum afterward 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 Barnum was to pay all traveling expenses. He speedily became
a public favorite, and long before the year was out, Barnum
voluntarily increased his weekly salary to twenty-five dollars,
and he fairly earned it.

For two years Barnum had been the owner of the Museum. He had
enjoyed great prosperity. Long ago he had paid every dollar of
the purchase-money out of the profits of the place. All rivals
had been driven from the field. He was out of debt, and had a
handsome balance in the bank. The experimental stage was passed,
and the enterprise was an established success. It was, indeed, in
such perfect order that Barnum felt safe in leaving it to his
lieutenants, while he went forth to seek new realms of conquest.
Accordingly he made 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. He proposed to test
the curiosity of men and women on the other side of the Atlantic.

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

They were met at Liverpool by a large crowd of sight-seers, who
had been attracted thither by the fame of "Tom Thumb." The
curiosity of the populace was not gratified, however, for Barnum
had the child smuggled ashore unseen, under his mother's shawl.

"My letters of introduction," said the showman, 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
'headquarters,' 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



The first public appearance of Tom Thumb in London occurred soon
after the arrival of the party there, at the Princess's Theatre.
A short engagement only had been made, but it was exceedingly
successful. The spectators were delighted, the manager overjoyed,
and Barnum himself pleased beyond measure. This brief engagement
answered his purpose, in arousing public interest and curiosity.
That was all the shrewd showman wanted for the present.
Accordingly, when the manager of the theatre urged a renewal of
the engagement, at a much higher price, Barnum positively
declined it. He had secured the desired advertising; now he would
exhibit on his own account and in his own way.

He therefore took a splendid mansion in Grafton Street, Bond
Street, in the fashionable and aristocratic West End of London.
Lord Talbot had lived in it, and Lord Brougham lived close by. It
was an audacious stroke for the Yankee showman to invade this
select and exclusive region, but it was successful. In response
to his invitations members of the nobility came eagerly flocking
to the house to see the wonderful child. Barnum showed himself as
exclusive as any of them, for he gave orders to his servants that
no callers were to be received who did not present cards of
invitation. This procedure he afterward explained, was entirely
proper. He had not yet announced himself as a public showman. He
was simply an American citizen visiting London, and it was
incumbent upon him to maintain the dignity of his position! His
servants, of course, exercised proper tact, and no offense was
given, although many of the nobility and gentry, who drove to his
door in carriages adorned with crests and coats of arms, were
thus turned away.

Among the early callers was the Hon. Edward Everett, the American
minister to England. He was much pleased with Mr. Barnum and his
tiny ward, and had them dine with him the next day. He also
promised that they should, if possible, be received by the Queen
at Buckingham Palace.

A few evenings afterward the Baroness Rothschild sent her
carriage for them. They were received by a half a dozen servants,
and were ushered up a broad flight of marble stairs to the
drawing-room, where they met the Baroness and a party of twenty
or more ladies and gentlemen. In this sumptuous mansion of the
richest banker in the world, they spent about two hours, and when
they took their leave a well-filled purse was quietly slipped
into Mr. Barnum's hand. The golden shower had begun to fall.

Mr. Barnum now thought the time ripe for beginning his public
exhibitions. He engaged Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, and announced
that Tom Thumb was to be seen there. The rush of visitors was
tremendous. The aristocracy of London thronged the hall night
after night, and a phenomenal success was assured. Barnum did not
look beyond such work. True, Everett had spoken of an audience
with the Queen, but Barnum had no idea that it would ever be
granted. One day, however, he met Mr. Murray, Master of the
Queen's Household, at Everett's at breakfast, and that gentleman
asked him what were his plans for the future. Barnum replied that
he expected presently to go to the Continent, but he would most
gladly stay in London if he could get the favor of an audience
with Her Majesty.

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 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 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, Mr. Barnum put a
placard on the door of the Egyptian Hall: "Closed this evening,
General Tom Thumb being at Buckingham Palace by command of Her

When they arrived at the palace, a Lord-in-Waiting met them, and
began "coaching" them on points of court etiquette. Mr. Barnum,
especially, was told that he must in no event speak directly to
Her Majesty, but through the medium of the aforesaid Lord. He
must also keep his face constantly turned toward the Queen, and
so, in retiring from the royal presence, must walk backward.
Having thus been instructed in the ways of royalty, Mr. Barnum
and the diminutive General were led to the presence of the Queen.

They passed through a long corridor to a broad flight of marble
steps, which led to the picture gallery, and there the Queen and
Prince Albert, the Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Wellington, and
others were awaiting their arrival. They were standing at the
further 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,
they were permitted to depart.

But before this Mr. Barnum had broken the instructions in
etiquette which had been so carefully impressed upon him by the
Lord-in-Waiting. When the Queen began asking him questions, he
answered her, as she addressed him, through the lordly medium, as
he had been told. That was inconvenient and irksome, however, and
presently Barnum addressed his reply directly to her. The
Lord-in-Waiting was horror-struck, but the Queen did not appear
to be displeased, for she instantly followed her guest's example,
and spoke thereafter directly to him. In a few minutes Her
Majesty and the Yankee showman were talking together with the
greatest ease and freedom.

"I felt," said Mr. Barnum afterward, "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
his 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 offense 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 visitors were then escorted about the Palace, and treated to
refreshments. Before leaving Mr. Barnum bethought him of the
"Court Circular," in which the doings of the Royal Family were
chronicled to the world. Would his reception by the Queen be
mentioned in it? Certainly. Well, then, would it not be possible
to secure something more than mere mention; some words of special
commendation; a "free advertisement" in fact? He would try it! So
he inquired where he could find the gentleman who prepared the
circular, and was informed that that functionary was in the
Palace at that very moment.

"He was sent for," related Mr. Barnum, "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 afterward, that he had
inserted my notice verbatim.

"This notice of my visit to the Queen wonderfully increased the
attraction of 'Gen. Tom Thumb,' and compelled me to obtain a more
commodious hall for my exhibition. I accordingly moved to a
larger room in the same building."

On their second visit to the Queen, they were received in what is
called the Yellow Drawing Room, a magnificent apartment. 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 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.

They 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

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 he took
with him, and with much politeness sat 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.

"Monsieur Guillaudeu."

The two queens looked inquiringly, and when Mr. Barnum informed
them that M. Guillaudeu was his French naturalist, they laughed
most heartily.

On their 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 Mr. Barnum as it was to the
royal party. When the merriment it occasioned had somewhat
subsided, the Queen good-humoredly remarked, "that is a very
pretty song, General, sing it, if you please." The General
complied, and soon afterward retired.

The Queen sent to Barnum a handsome fee for each of his visits,
but that was only a small part of the benefits which his
acquaintance with her brought to him. Such was the force of Court
example that it was now deemed unfashionable, almost disloyal,
not to have seen Tom Thumb. Carriages of the nobility, fifty or
sixty at a time, were to be seen at Barnum's door in Piccadilly.
Egyptian Hall was crowded at every exhibition, and the net
profits there were on the average more than $500 per day from
March 20th to July 20th. Portraits of the tiny General were for
sale everywhere, and were eagerly purchased by thousands. Musical
compositions were dedicated to him, and songs were sung in his
honor. Week after week he was the subject of Punch's wittiest
cartoons; and of course all this was just so much free
advertising. Besides his three public performances per day, the
little General attended three or four private parties per week,
for which they were paid eight to ten guineas each. Frequently he
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, bagwig, cocked hat, and 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 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 they 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.

This watch, also, served the purpose of an advertisement, and a
good one, too. It was not only duly heralded, but was 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 turquois, presented by his grace the Duke of
Devonshire, and many other costly gifts of the nobility and
gentry, added to the attraction 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. Barnum
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.

General Tom Thumb had visited the King of Saxony and also Ibrahim
Pacha, who was then in London. At the different parties he
attended, he met, in the course of the season, nearly all of the
nobility. Scarcely a 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 were
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, and many other persons of distinction They had the
free entree 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 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.

Thus the London visit and the tour of England were successful
beyond all anticipation, and it was with an overflowing purse
that Barnum set out with his charge for the French capital.



Barnum having returned from a preliminary trip to France, in
which all arrangements, even to starting the first paragraphs in
the Paris papers were made, now went back accompanied by Tom
Thumb. They reached Paris some days before the exhibition was
opened, but on the day following their arrival, a special command
reached them to appear at the Tuileries on the next Sunday

At the appointed hour the General and his manager were ushered
into the presence of the King, the Queen, the Count de Paris,
Prince de Joinville, the Duchess d'Orleans, and a dozen more
distinguished persons, among whom was the editor of the Journal
des Debats.

At the close of the General's performances, which he went through
with to the evident delight of all present, the King gave him a
large emerald and diamond brooch, at the same time saying to Mr.
Barnum: "You may put it on the General, if you please." Which
command was obeyed, to the gratification of the King and the
immense delight of the General.

The King was so condescending and affable that Mr. Barnum at
length ventured to ask a favor of him. The Longchamps celebration
was close at hand--a day once devoted to religious ceremony, but
now conspicuous for the display of court and fashionable
equipages in the various drives and parks--and after the King had
conversed with Mr. Barnum on various topics in a familiar manner,
the diplomatic showman remarked that he had hastened his arrival
in Paris for the express purpose of taking part in the Longchamps
celebration. The General's carriage, he explained, with its
ponies and little coachman and footman, was so small that it
would be in great danger in the crowd unless the King would
graciously permit it to appear in the avenue reserved for the
court and the diplomatic corps

The King smiled, and after a few minutes' consultation with one
of the officers of his household. said: "Call on the Prefect of
Police to-morrow afternoon and you will find a permit ready for

After a two hours' visit they retired, the General loaded with

The next morning all the newspapers chronicled the royal
audience, the Journal des Debats giving a full account of the
interview and of the General's performances.

Thus all Paris knew that Tom Thumb, in all his glory, was in the

Longchamps day arrived, and conspicuous among the splendid
equipages on the grand avenue, Tom Thumb's beautiful little
carriage, with four ponies and liveried and powdered coachman and
footman, rode along in the line of carriages bearing the
ambassadors to the Court of France. The air was fairly rent with
cheers for "le General Tom Ponce."

The first day's receipts were 5,500 francs--over three hundred
dollars, and this sum might have been doubled had there been room
for more visitors. The elite of Paris flocked to the exhibition.
There were afternoon and evening performances, and seats were
reserved in advance at an extra price for the entire two months.

The papers were full of praises for the performance; Figaro gave
a picture of an immense mastiff running away with the General's
horse and carriage in his mouth.

Statuettes and pictures of "Tom Ponce" appeared everywhere; a
cafe on one of the boulevards took the name of "Tom Ponce," with
a life-size statue of the General for a sign. Eminent painters
here, as in London, asked to paint his portrait, but the
General's engagements were so pressing that he had little time to
sit to artists. All the leading actors and actresses came to see
him, and he received many fine presents from them. The daily
receipts continued to increase, and the manager had to take a cab
to carry home the silver at night.

Twice more was the General summoned to appear before the royal
family at the Tuileries, and on the King's birthday a special
invitation was sent him to view the display of fireworks in honor
of the anniversary.

The last visit to the Court was made at St. Cloud. The papers, in
speaking of the General's characterizations, mentioned that there
was one costume which Tom Thumb wisely kept at the bottom of his
trunk. This was the uniform of Napoleon Bonaparte, and by special
request of the King, it was worn at St. Cloud. The affair was
quite sub rosa, however, none of the papers mentioning it.

At the end of the visit each of the royal company gave the
General a magnificent present, overwhelmed him with kisses,
wishing him a safe journey through France, and a long and happy
life. After making their adieux they retired to another part of
the palace to permit the General to change his costume and to
partake of a collation which was served them. As they were
leaving the palace they passed the sitting-room where the royal
family were spending the evening. The door was open, and some one
spying the General there was a call for him to come in and shake
hands once more. They went in, finding the Queen and her ladies
engaged in embroidering, while one young lady read aloud. They
all kissed and petted the General many times around before
finally permitting him to depart.

After leaving Paris they made a most profitable tour, including
the cities of Rouen, Orleans, Brest, and Bordeaux, where they
were invited to witness a review of 20,000 soldiers by the Dukes
de Nemours and d'Aumale. Thence to Toulon, Montpelier, Nismes,
Marseilles, and many other less important places. At Nantes,
Bordeaux, and Marseilles the General appeared in the theatres in
a part written for him in a French play called "Petit Poncet."

During their stay in Paris, Barnum made a characteristically
profitable investment. A Russian Prince, who had lived in great
splendor in Paris, died suddenly, and his household effects were
sold at auction. There was a magnificent gold tea-set, a dinner
service of silver, and some rare specimens of Sevres china, the
value of which were impaired by the Prince's initials being on
them. The initials were "P. T ," and Mr. Barnum bought them, and
adding "B." to the other letters, had a very fine table service
appropriately marked.



The day after the arrival of the party in Brussels they were
summoned to the palace. The king and queen had seen the General
in London, but they wished their children and the distinguished
people of the court to have the same pleasure.

After a delightful visit they came away, the General, as usual,
laden with gifts.

The following day the exhibition opened, and from the first was
crowded by throngs of the best people in the city. One day, in
the midst of the exhibition, it was discovered that the case
containing all the valuable presents Tom Thumb had received from
royalty' etc., was missing.

The alarm was instantly given, and the police notified. A reward
was offered of 2,000 francs, and, after a day or two, the thief
was captured and the jewels returned. After that the case of
presents was more carefully guarded.

Everyone who goes to Brussels is supposed to visit the field of
Waterloo; so, before they left, the entire party--Tom Thumb,
Barnum, Prof. Pinte (tutor), and Mr. Stratton (father of the
General), and Mr. H. G. Sherman, went together.

After visiting the church in the village of Waterloo and viewing
the memorial tablets there, they passed to the house where Lord
Uxbridge--Marquis of Anglesey--had had his leg amputated. There
is a little monument in the garden over the shattered limb, and a
part of the boot that covered it was seen in the house. Barnum
procured a three-inch bit of the boot for his Museum, at the same
time remarking, that if the lady in charge was as liberal to all
visitors, that boot had held out wonderfully since 1815.

On approaching the ground they were beset by a dozen or more
guides, each one professing to know the exact spot where every
man had stood, and each claiming to have himself taken part in
the struggle, although most of them were less than twenty-five,
and the battle had been fought some thirty years before. They
finally accepted one old man, who at first declared that he had
been killed in the front ranks, but afterward acknowledged that
he had only been wounded and left on the field for dead three

After having the location of Napoleon's Guard, the Duke of
Wellington, the portion of the field where Blucher entered with
the Prussian army, pointed out to them, and the spots where fell
Sir Alexander Gordon and other celebrities, they asked the guide
if he knew where Captain Tippitiwichet, of Connecticut, was
killed? "Oh, oui, Monsieur," replied the guide confidently. After
pointing out the precise spots where fictitious friends from
Coney Island, New Jersey, Cape Cod and Saratoga had received
their death-wounds, they paid the old humbug and dismissed him.

Upon leaving the field they were met by another crowd of peasants
with relics of the battle for sale. Barnum bought a large number
of pistols, bullets, brass French eagles, buttons, etc., for the
Museum, and the others were equally liberal in their purchases.
They bought also maps, guide-books and pictures, until Mr.
Stratton expressed his belief that the "darned old battle of
Waterloo" had cost more since it was fought than it ever did

Some months afterwards, while they were in Birmingham, they made
the acquaintance of a firm who manufactured and sent to Waterloo
barrels of these "relics" every year.

Four or five miles on the road home they had the misfortune to
break the axle-tree of the carriage. It was past one o'clock, and
the exhibition was advertised to commence in Brussels at two. Of
course, they could not expect to walk the distance in less than
three hours, and Barnum was disposed to give up the afternoon
performance altogether. But Mr. Stratton could not bear the idea
of losing six or eight hundred francs, so, accompanied by the
interpreter, Prof. Pinte, he rushed down the road to a
farm-house, followed leisurely by the rest of the party.

Mr. 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 to 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
them 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

"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."

"Well, it's a thundering mean custom, anyhow," said Stratton,
"and I won't stand such 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

"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 they had
left Brussels in a coach, and the morning had promised a pleasant
day, they had omitted umbrellas. They were soon soaked to the
skin, but they "grinned and bore it" a while 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
anything 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 their backs.

At two o'clock, the time appointed for the exhibition, they 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 their 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

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

"I'll sue him for damages, 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."

The party arrived in Brussels precisely two hours and a half from
the time they left the farmer's house. Of course it was too late
for the afternoon performance, and hundreds of people had been
turned away disappointed.



In London the General again opened his levees in Egyptian Hall,
with increased 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 Zoological Gardens, under the direction of the proprietor,
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 October Barnum made a flying visit to America, remaining long
enough to renew the lease of the Museum building, and to attend
to various other business matters. When he returned he was
accompanied by his wife and daughters. They took a furnished
house, which, during all their three months' residence, was the
scene of constant hospitality, all the distinguished people in
London being entertained there.

When the engagement at Egyptian Hall expired they made an
extensive tour through England and Scotland, going as far north
as Aberdeen. The General's Scotch costumes, his national dances
and the "bit of dialect" which he had acquired had long been a
feature of the performance and was especially admired in
Scotland. The party travelled much of the time in Barnum's own
carriage, the General's carriage, ponies and other properties
being conveyed in a huge van. They found this way of travelling
more comfortable than the other, besides enabling them to visit
out of the way places, where often the most successful
exhibitions were given.

There was one occasion when their carriage broke down, and, as
they had advertised a performance in Rugby that evening, they
decided to take the cars; but on arriving at the station they
found the last train gone. Barnum immediately looked up the
superintendent and told him that they must have an extra train
for Rugby, without an instant's delay.

"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? 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."

The performance at Rugby netted L160, which not only covered
expenses but left a handsome margin.


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