A Unique Story of a Marvellous Career. Life of Hon. Phineas T. Barnum, by Joel Benton.
Part 6 out of 8
signed an agreement to sell and deliver to Barnum on the
following Saturday their entire good-will and interest in the
Museum collection. This fact was thoroughly circulated, and
blazing posters, placards, and advertisements announced that
"Barnum is on his feet again." It was furthermore stated that the
Museum would be closed for one week, opening March 31st, under
the management and proprietorship of its original owner. It was
also promised that Barnum would address the audience on the night
The Museum, decked in its holiday dress of flags and banners, was
crowded to its utmost capacity when Barnum made his appearance.
His reception was an enthusiastic one, cheers and shouts rent the
air, and tears filled the showman's eyes as he thought of this
triumphant conclusion of his four years' struggle.
Recovering himself, he bowed his acknowledgments for the
reception, and addressed the audience as follows:
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I should be more or less than human, if I
could meet this unexpected and overwhelming testimonial at your
hands, without the deepest emotion. My own personal connection
with the Museum is now resumed, and I avail myself of the
circumstance to say why it is so. Never did I feel stronger in my
worldly prosperity than in September, 1855. Three months later I
was so deeply embarrassed that I felt certain of nothing, except
the uncertainty of everything. A combination of singular efforts
and circumstances tempted me to put faith in a certain clock
manufacturing company, and I placed my signature to papers which
ultimately broke me down. After nearly five years of hard
struggle to keep my head above water, I have touched bottom at
last, and here to-night I am happy to announce that I have waded
ashore. Every clock debt of which I have any knowledge has been
provided for. Perhaps, after the troubles and turmoils I have
experienced, I should feel no desire to re-engage in the
excitements of business; but a man like myself, less than fifty
years of age, and enjoying robust health, is scarcely old enough
to be embalmed and put in a glass case in the Museum as one of
its million of curiosities. 'It is better to wear out than rust
out.' Besides, if a man of active temperament is not busy, he is
apt to get into mischief. To avoid evil, therefore, and since
business activity is a necessity of my nature, here I am, once
more, in the Museum, and among those with whom I have been so
long and so pleasantly identified. I am confident of a cordial
welcome, and hence feel some claim to your indulgence while I
briefly allude to the means of my present deliverance from utter
financial ruin. Need I say, in the first place, that I am
somewhat indebted to the forbearance of generous creditors. In
the next place, permit me to speak of sympathizing friends, whose
volunteered loans and exertions vastly aided my rescue. When my
day of sorrow came, I first paid or secured every debt I owed of
a personal nature. This done, I felt bound in honor to give up
all of my property that remained toward liquidating my 'clock
debts.' I placed it in the hands of trustees and receivers for
the benefit of all the 'clock' creditors. But at the forced sale
of my Connecticut real estate, there was a purchaser behind the
screen, of whom the world had little knowledge. In the day of my
prosperity I made over to my wife much valuable property,
including the lease of this Museum building--a lease then having
about twenty-two years to run, and enhanced in value to more than
double its original worth. I sold the Museum collection to
Messrs. Greenwood & Butler, subject to my wife's separate
interest in the lease, and she has received more than $80,000
over and above the sums paid to the owners of the building.
Instead of selfishly applying this amount to private purposes, my
family lived with a due regard to economy, and the savings
(strictly belonging to my wife) were devoted to buying in
portions of my estate at the assignees' sales and to purchasing
'clock notes' bearing my indorsements. The Christian name of my
wife is Charity. I may well acknowledge, therefore, that I am not
only a proper 'subject of charity,' but that 'without Charity, I
"But, ladies and gentlemen, while Charity thus labored in my
behalf, Faith and Hope were not idle. I have been anything but
indolent during the last four years. Driven from pillar to post,
and annoyed beyond description by all sorts of legal claims and
writs, I was perusing protests and summonses by day, and dreaming
of clocks run down by night. My head was ever whizzing with
dislocated cog-wheels and broken main-springs; my whole mind (and
my credit) was running upon tick, and everything pressing on me
like a dead weight.
"In this state of affairs I felt that I was of no use on this
side of the Atlantic, so, giving the pendulum a swing, and
seizing time by the forelock, I went to Europe. There I furtively
pulled the wires of several exhibitions, among which that of Tom
Thumb may be mentioned for example. I managed a variety of
musical and commercial speculations in Great Britain, Germany,
and Holland. These enterprises, together with the net profits of
my public lectures, enabled me to remit large sums to
confidential agents for the purchase of my obligations. In this
manner, I quietly extinguished, little by little, every dollar of
my clock liabilities. I could not have achieved this difficult
feat, however, without the able assistance of enthusiastic
friends--and among the chief of them let me gratefully
acknowledge the invaluable services of Mr. James D. Johnson, a
gentleman of wealth, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Other gentlemen
have been generous with me. Some have loaned me large sums
without security, and have placed me under obligations which must
ever command my honest gratitude "but Mr. Johnson has been a
'friend in deed,' for he has been truly a 'friend in need.'
"You must not infer, from what I have said, that I have
completely recovered from the stunning blow to which I was
subjected four years ago. I have lost more in the way of tens of
thousands, yes, hundreds of thousands, than I care to remember. A
valuable portion of my real estate in Connecticut, however, has
been preserved, and as I feel all the ardor of twenty years ago,
and the prospect here is so flattering, my heart is animated with
the hope of ultimately, by enterprise and activity, obliterating
unpleasant reminiscences, and retrieving the losses of the past.
Experience, too, has taught me not only that, even in the matter
of money, 'enough is as good as a feast,' but that there are, in
this world, some things vastly better than the Almighty Dollar!
Possibly I may contemplate, at times, the painful day when I said
'Othello's occupation's gone'; but I shall the more frequently
cherish the memory of this moment, when I am permitted to
announce that Richard's himself again.'
"Many people have wondered that a man considered so acute as
myself should have been deluded into embarrassments like mine,
and not a few have declared, in short meter, that 'Barnum was a
fool.' I can only reply that I never made pretensions to the
sharpness of a pawnbroker, and I hope I shall never so entirely
lose confidence in human nature as to consider every man a scamp
by instinct, or a rogue by necessity. 'It is better to be
deceived sometimes, than to distrust always,' says Lord Bacon,
and I agree with him.
"Experience is said to be a hard schoolmaster, but I should be
sorry to feel that this great lesson in adversity has not brought
forth fruits of some value. I needed the discipline this
tribulation has given me, and I really feel, after all, that
this, like many other apparent evils, was only a blessing in
disguise. Indeed, I may mention that the very clock factory which
I built in Bridgeport for the purpose of bringing hundreds of
workmen to that city, has been purchased and quadrupled in size
by the Wheeler & Wilson Sewing-Machine Company, and is now filled
with intelligent New England mechanics, whose families add two
thousand to the population, and who are doing a great work in
building up and beautifying that flourishing city. So that the
same concern which prostrated me seems destined as a most
important agent toward my recuperation. I am certain that the
popular sympathy has been with me from the beginning; and this,
together with a consciousness of rectitude, is more than an
offset to all the vicissitudes to which I have been subjected.
"In conclusion, I beg to assure you and the public that my chief
pleasure, while health and strength are spared me, will be to
cater for your and their healthy amusement and instruction. In
future, such capabilities as I possess will be devoted to the
maintenance of this Museum as a popular place of family resort,
in which all that is novel and interesting shall be gathered from
the four quarters of the globe, and which ladies and children may
visit at all times unattended, without danger of encountering
anything of an objectionable nature. The dramas introduced in the
Lecture Room will never contain a profane expression or a vulgar
allusion; on the contrary, their tendency will always be to
encourage virtue and frown upon vice.
"I have established connections in Europe, which will enable me
to produce here a succession of interesting novelties otherwise
inaccessible. Although I shall be personally present much of the
time, and hope to meet many of my old acquaintances, as well as
to form many new ones, I am sure you will be glad to learn that I
have re-secured the services of one of the late proprietors, and
the active manager of this Museum, Mr. John Greenwood, Jr. As he
is a modest gentleman, who would be the last to praise himself,
allow me to add that he is one to whose successful qualities as a
caterer for the popular entertainments, the crowds that have
often filled this building may well bear testimony. But, more
than this, he is the unobtrusive one to whose integrity,
diligence, and devotion I owe much of my present position of
self-congratulation. Mr. Greenwood will hereafter act as
assistant manager, while his late co-partner, Mr. Butler, has
engaged in another branch of business. Once more, thanking you
all for your kind welcome, I bid you, till the re-opening, 'an
affectionate adieu.' "
The speech was received with wild enthusiasm, and after the
re-opening of the Museum the number of visitors was at once
Among the many newspaper congratulations he received, none gave
Barnum more pleasure than a poem from his old admirer on the
Boston Saturday Evening Gazette.
ANOTHER WORD FOR BARNUM.
Barnum, your hand! The struggle o'er,
You face the world and ask no favor;
You stand where you have stood before,
The old salt hasn't lost its savor.
You now can laugh with friends, at foes'
Ne'er heeding Mrs. Grundy's tattle;
You've dealt and taken sturdy blows,
Regardless of the rabble's prattle.
Not yours the heart to harbor ill
'Gainst those who've dealt in trivial jesting;
You pass them with the same good will
Erst shown when they their wit were testing.
You're the same Barnum that we knew,
You're good for years, still fit for labor,
Be as of old, be bold and true,
Honest as man, as friend, as neighbor.
At about this period, the following poem was published in a
Pottsville, Pa., paper, and copied by many journals of the-day:
A HEALTH TO BARNUM.
Companions! fill your glasses round
And drink a health to one
Who has few coming after him,
To do as he has done;
Who made a fortune for himself,
Made fortunes, too, for many,
Yet wronged no bosom of a sigh,
No pocket of a penny.
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
And make the glasses ring,
Here's health and luck to Barnum!
The Exhibition King.
Who lured the Swedish Nightingale
To Western woods to come?
Who prosperous and happy made
The life of little Thumb?
Who oped Amusement's golden door
So cheaply to the crowd,
And taught Morality to smile
On all HIS stage allowed?
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
Until the glasses ring--
Here's health and luck to Barnum!
The Exhibition King.
And when the sad reverses came,
As come they may to all,
Who stood a Hero, bold and true,
Amid his fortune's fall?
Who to the utmost yielded up
What Honor could not keep,
Then took the field of life again
With courage calm and deep?
Come! shout a gallant chorus,
Until the glasses dance--
Here's health and luck to Barnum,
The Napoleon of Finance
Yet, no--OUR hero would not look
With smiles on such a cup;
Throw out the wine--with water clear,
Fill the pure crystal up
Then rise, and greet with deep respect,
The courage he has shown,
And drink to him who well deserves
A seat on Fortune's throne.
Here's health and luck to Barnum!
An ELBA he has seen,
And never may his map of life
Display a ST HELENE!
It is of interest to observe that the phrase "Napoleon of
Finance," which has in recent years been applied to several Wall
Street speculators, was first coined in honorable description of
Phineas T. Barnum, because of his honesty as well as his signal
CHAPTER XXXII. THE STORY OF "GRIZZLY ADAMS."
BARNUM'S PARTNERSHIP WITH THE FAMOUS BEAR HUNTER--FOOLING HIM
WITH THE "GOLDEN PIGEONS"--ADAMS EARNS $500 AT DESPERATE
COST--TRICKING BARNUM OUT OF A FINE HUNTING SUIT--PROSPERITY OF
THE MUSEUM--VISIT OF THE PRINCE OF WALES.
The famous old American Museum was now the centre of Barnum's
interests, and he devoted himself to its development with such
energy as never before. His enterprise in securing new
curiosities, and his skill in presenting them to the public in
the most attractive light, surpassed all previous efforts. To his
office, as to their Mecca, flocked all the "freaks" of the land,
and all who possessed any objects of rare or marvelous nature.
Foremost among these visitors was one veteran frontiersman, who
had attained--and well deserved--much fame as a fighter of the
most savage wild beasts. His name was James C. Adams, but he was
universally known as "Grizzly Adams," from the fact that he had
captured a great many grizzly bears at the risk and cost of
fearful encounters and perils. He was brave, and with his bravery
there was enough of the romantic in his nature to make him a real
hero. For many years a hunter and trapper in the Rocky and Sierra
Nevada Mountains, he acquired a recklessness, which, added to his
natural invincible courage, rendered him one of the most striking
men of the age, and he was emphatically a man of pluck. A month
after Barnum had re-purchased the Museum, Adams arrived in New
York with his famous collection of California animals, captured
by himself, consisting of twenty or thirty immense grizzly bears,
at the head of which stood "Old Samson," together with several
wolves, half a dozen different species of California bears,
California lions, tigers, buffalo, elk, and "Old Neptune," the
great sea-lion from the Pacific.
Old Adams had trained all these monsters so that with him they
were as docile as kittens, though many of the most ferocious
among them would attack a stranger without hesitation, if he came
within their grasp. In fact, the training of these animals was no
fool's play, as Old Adams learned to his cost, for the terrific
blows which he received from time to time, while teaching them
"docility," finally cost him his life.
Adams called on Barnum immediately on his arrival in New York. He
was dressed in his hunter's suit of buckskin, trimmed with the
skins and bordered with the hanging tails of small Rocky Mountain
animals; his cap consisting of the skin of a wolf's head and
shoulders, from which depended several tails, and under which
appeared his stiff bushy, gray hair and his long, white, grizzly
beard; in fact, Old Adams was quite as much of a show as his
beasts. They had come around Cape Horn on the clipper ship
"Golden Fleece," and a sea voyage of three and a half months had
probably not added much to the beauty or neat appearance of the
old bear-hunter. During their conversation Grizzly Adams took off
his cap, and showed Barnum the top of his head. His skull was
literally broken in. It had, on various occasions, been struck by
the fearful paws of his grizzly students; and the last blow, from
the bear called "General Fremont," had laid open his brain so
that its workings were plainly visible. Barnum remarked that he
thought it was a dangerous wound and might possibly prove fatal.
"Yes," replied Adams, "that will fix me out. It had nearly
healed; but old Fremont opened it for me, for the third or fourth
time, before I left California, and he did his business so
thoroughly, I'm a used-up man. However, I reckon I may live six
months or a year yet." This was spoken as coolly as if he had
been talking about the life of a dog.
This extraordinary man had come to see Barnum about the
"California Menagerie," of which he, Adams, was the owner. Barnum
had shortly before, however, purchased one-half interest in it
from a man who had claimed to be Adams's equal partner. This
Adams disputed, declaring that he had merely borrowed from the
man some money on the security of the show, that the man was not
his partner, and that he had no right to sell one-half or any
portion of the menagerie. As a matter of fact, however, the man
did have a bill of sale for one-half of the show, and Adams was
soon convinced that Barnum's purchase was entirely legitimate.
The result was that Barnum and Adams formed a regular
partnership, the former to attend to all business affairs, the
latter to exhibit the animals. The show was opened in a huge
canvas tent on Broadway, at the corner of Thirteenth Street.
On the morning of opening, a band of music preceded a procession
of animal cages down Broadway and up the Bowery, old Adams,
dressed in his hunting costume, heading the line, with a platform
wagon on which were placed three immense grizzly bears, two of
which he held by chains, while he was mounted on the back of the
largest grizzly, which stood in the centre and was not secured in
any manner whatever. This was the bear known as "General
Fremont," and so docile had he become that Adams said he had used
him as a pack-bear, to carry his cooking and hunting apparatus
through the mountains for six months, and had ridden him hundreds
of miles. But apparently docile as were many of these animals,
there was not one among them that would not occasionally give
Adams a sly blow or a sly bite when a good chance offered; hence
old Adams was but a wreck of his former self, and expressed
pretty nearly the truth when he said:
"Mr. Barnum, I am not the man I was five years ago. Then I felt
able to stand the hug of any grizzly living, and was always glad
to encounter, single handed, any sort of an animal that dared
present himself. But I have been beaten to a jelly, torn almost
limb from limb, and nearly chawed up and spit out by these
treacherous grizzly bears. However, I am good for a few months
yet, and by that time I hope we shall gain enough to make my old
woman comfortable, for I have been absent from her some years."
His wife came from Massachusetts to New York and nursed him. Dr.
Johns dressed his wounds every day, and not only told Adams he
could never recover, but assured his friends that probably a very
few weeks would lay him in his grave. But Adams was as firm as
adamant and as resolute as a lion. Among the thousands who saw
him dressed in his grotesque hunter's suit, and witnessed the
seeming vigor with which he "performed" the savage monsters,
beating and whipping them into apparently the most perfect
docility, probably not one suspected that this rough,
fierce-looking, powerful semi-savage, as he appeared to be, was
suffering intense pain from his broken skull and fevered system,
and that nothing kept him from stretching himself on his
death-bed but his most indomitable and extraordinary will.
Adams was an inveterate story-teller, and often "drew the long
bow" with daring hand. He loved to astonish people with
extraordinary tales, which were sheer inventions, but which no
one could disprove. He pretended, too, to have been everywhere
and to have seen everything. This weakness made him good game for
Barnum, who determined to expose his foibles to him at the first
opportunity. The opportunity soon came. One day, amid the
innumerable caravan of cranks that moved to the weird realm of
Barnum's wonder-house, there appeared a fat, stolid German,
carrying in his hand a small basket, which he guarded with
"I have come," he said, "to see if you would not like some golden
pigeons to buy?"
"Yes," Barnum replied, "I would like a flock of golden pigeons,
if I could buy them for their weight in silver; for there are no
'golden pigeons' in existence, unless they are made from the pure
"You shall some golden pigeons alive see," he replied, at the
same time entering the office, and closing the door after him. He
then removed the lid from the basket, and sure enough, there were
snugly ensconced a pair of beautiful, living ruff-necked pigeons,
as yellow as saffron, and as bright as a double-eagle fresh from
Barnum was somewhat staggered at this sight, and quickly asked
the man where those birds came from. A dull, lazy smile crawled
over the sober face of the German visitor, as he replied in a
slow, guttural tone of voice:
"What you think yourself?"
Catching his meaning, Barnum quickly replied:
"I think it is a humbug."
"Of course, I know you will so say; because you 'forstha' such
things; so I shall not try to humbug you; I have them myself
It then came out that the man was a chemist, and that he had
invented a process by which he could dye the feathers of living
birds any color he pleased, retaining at the same time all the
natural gloss of the plumage. Barnum at once closed a bargain
with him for the birds, for ten dollars, and then put them in his
"Happy Family" at the Museum. He marked them "Golden Pigeons,
from California," and then gleefully awaited Adams' next visit,
feeling sure that the old fellow would be completely taken in.
Sure enough, next morning Adams came along, saw the pigeons,
looked at them earnestly for a few minutes, and then went
straight to the office.
"Mr. Barnum," said he, "you must let me have those California
"I can't spare them," said Barnum.
"But you must spare them. All the birds and animals from
California ought to be together. You own half of my California
menagerie, and you must lend me those pigeons."
"Mr. Adams, they are too rare and valuable a bird to be hawked
about in that manner."
"Oh, don't be a fool," replied Adams. "Rare bird, indeed! Why,
they are just as common in California as any other pigeon! I
could have brought a hundred of them from San Francisco, if I had
thought of it."
"But why did you not think of it?" with a suppressed smile.
"Because they are so common there," said Adams. "I did not think
they would be any curiosity here."
Barnum was ready to burst with laughter to see how readily Adams
swallowed the bait, but, maintaining the most rigid gravity, he
"Oh! well, Mr. Adams, if they are really so common in California,
you had probably better take them, and you may write over and
have half a dozen pairs sent to me for the Museum."
A few weeks later Barnum, being in the California Menagerie,
noticed that something ailed the pigeons. They had a
sadly-mottled appearance. Their feathers had grown out, and they
were half white. Adams had not yet noticed it, being too busy
with his bears. But Barnum called him at once to the pigeon cage.
"Look here, Adams," he said, "I'm afraid you are going to lose
your Golden Pigeons. They must be very sick. Just see how pale
they look! Good thing they're so common in California, so you can
easily get some more, eh?"
Adams looked at them a moment in astonishment, then turning to
Barnum, and seeing that he could not suppress a smile, he
"Blast the Golden Pigeons! You had better take them back to the
Museum. You can't humbug me with your painted pigeons!"
This was too much, and Barnum laughed till he cried, to witness
the mixed look of astonishment and vexation which marked the
grizzly features of old Adams.
After the exhibition on Thirteenth Street and Broadway had been
open six weeks, the doctor insisted that Adams should sell out
his share in the animals and settle up his worldly affairs, for
he assured him that he was growing weaker every day, and his
earthly existence must soon terminate. "I shall live a good deal
longer than you doctors think for," replied Adams, doggedly; and
then, seeming after all to realize the truth of the doctor's
assertion, he turned and said: "Well, Mr. Barnum, you must buy me
A bargain was soon concluded. Arrangements had been made to
exhibit the bears in Connecticut and Massachusetts during the
summer, in connection with the Museum, and Adams insisted that
Barnum should engage him to travel for the season and manage the
bears. He offered to do it for $60 a week and expenses. Barnum
replied that he would gladly make such an arrangement, but he
feared Adams was not strong enough to stand it.
"You are growing weaker every day," he said; "and would better go
to your home and rest."
"What will you give me extra if I will travel and exhibit the
bears every day for ten weeks?" added old Adams, eagerly.
"Five hundred dollars."
"Done!" exclaimed Adams, "I will do it, so draw up an agreement
to that effect at once. But mind you, draw it payable to my wife,
for I may be too weak to attend to business after the ten weeks
are up, and if I perform my part of the contract, I want her to
get the $500 without any trouble."
Barnum drew up a contract to pay him $60 per week for his
services, and if he continued to exhibit the bears for ten
consecutive weeks, to hand him, or his wife, $500 extra.
"You have lost your $500!" exclaimed Adams on taking the
contract; "for I am bound to live and earn it."
"I hope you may, with all my heart, and a hundred years more if
you desire it," replied Barnum.
"Call me a fool if I don't earn the $500!" exclaimed Adams, with
a triumphant laugh.
The "show" started off in a few days, and at the end of a
fortnight Barnum met it at Hartford, Connecticut.
"Well" said he, "Adams, you seem to stand it pretty well. I hope
you and your wife are comfortable?"
"Yes," he replied with a laugh; "and you may as well try to be
comfortable, too, for your $500 is a goner."
"All right," Barnum replied, "I hope you will grow better every
But the case was hopeless. Adams was dying. When Barnum met him
three weeks later at New Bedford his eyes were glassy and his
hands trembling, but his courage and will were strong as ever.
"This hot weather tells on me," he said, "but I'll last the ten
weeks and more, and get your $500."
Barnum urged him to quit work, to take half of the $500 and go
home. But, no. He would not listen to it. And he did actually
serve through the whole ten weeks, and got the $500; remarking,
as he pocketed the cash,
"Barnum, it's too bad you're a teetotaler, for I'd like to stand
treat with you on this."
When Adams set out on this last tour, Barnum had a fine new
hunting-suit made of beaver-skins. He had procured it for Herr
Driesbach, the animal tamer, whom he had engaged to take Adams'
place whenever the latter should give out. Adams had asked him to
loan him the suit, to wear occasionally when he had great
audiences, as his own suit was badly worn. Barnum did so; and at
the end of the engagement, as he received the $500, Adams said:
"Mr. Barnum, I suppose you are going to give me this new
"Oh, no," Barnum replied, "I got that for your successor, who
will exhibit the bears to-morrow, besides, you have no possible
use for it."
"Now, don't be mean, but lend me the dress, if you won't give it
to me, for I want to wear it home to my native village."
Barnum could not refuse the poor old man anything, and he
"Well, Adams, I will lend you the dress, but you will send it
back to me?"
"Yes, when I have done with it," he replied, with an evident
chuckle of triumph.
Barnum thought, "he will soon be done with it," and replied:
"That's all right."
A new idea evidently struck Adams, for, with a brightening look
of satisfaction, he said:
"Now, Barnum, you have made a good thing out of the California
menagerie, and so have I; but you will make a heap more. So if
you won't give me this new hunter's dress, just draw a little
writing, and sign it, saying that I may wear it until I have done
Barnum knew that in a few days, at longest, he would be "done"
with this world altogether, and, to gratify him, he cheerfully
drew and signed the paper.
"Come, old Yankee, I've got you this time--see. if I hadn't!"
exclaimed Adams, with a broad grin, as he took the paper.
Barnum smiled, and said:
"All right, my dear fellow; the longer you live the better I
shall like it,"
They parted, and Adams went to Charlton, Worcester County,
Massachusetts, where his wife and daughter lived. He took at once
to his bed, and never rose from it again. The excitement had
passed away, and his vital energies could accomplish no more, The
fifth day after arriving home, the physician told him he could
not live until the next morning. He received the announcement in
perfect calmness, and with the most apparent indifference; then,
turning to his wife, with a smile he requested her to have him
buried in the new hunting-suit. "For," said he, "Barnum agreed to
let me have it until I have done with it, and I was determined to
fix his flint this time. He shall never see that dress again."
That dress was indeed the shroud in which he was entombed.
After Adams' death, Barnum incorporated the California Menagerie
with the American Museum, for a time, but afterward sold most of
the animals. The Museum was now most prosperous, and Barnum was
making steady progress toward paying off the debts that burdened
In the fall of 1860 the Museum was visited by the Prince of Wales
and his suite, in response to an invitation from Barnum.
Unfortunately, Barnum himself had gone to Bridgeport that very
morning, the invitation not having been accepted until about an
hour before the visit. Mr. Greenwood, the manager, when he heard
that the Prince was coming, caused the performance in the
lecture-room to be commenced half an hour before the usual time,
so as to clear the floors of a portion of the crowd, in order
that he might have a better opportunity to examine the
curiosities. When the Prince arrived, there was a great crowd
outside the Museum, and hundreds more were soon added to the
numbers assembled within the building. He was received by Mr.
Greenwood, and immediately conducted to the second story, where
the first object of interest pointed out was the "What Is It?" in
which his Royal Highness manifested much curiosity. In compliance
with his wish, the keeper went through the regular account of the
animal. Here, also, the party were shown the Albino family,
concerning whom they made inquiries. The Siamese twins, the
sea-lions, and the seal were also pointed out, and some of the
animals were fed in the presence of the Prince at his own
request. He was conducted through the building, and his attention
was called to many objects of special interest. At the close of a
short visit, the Prince asked for Mr. Barnum, and regretted that
he had not an opportunity of seeing him also. "We have," he said,
"missed the most interesting feature of the establishment."
A few days later Barnum called on the Prince in Boston and was
cordially received. The Prince was much interested and amused at
Barnum's reminiscences of the visits to Buckingham Palace with
Tom Thumb. He told Barnum that he had been much pleased with the
Museum, and had left his autograph there as a memento of his
CHAPTER XXXIII. BUILDING A CITY.
AT HOME ONCE MORE--GROWTH OF EAST BRIDGEPORT--BARNUM'S OFFER TO
MEN WANTING HOMES OF THEIR OWN--REMARKABLE PROGRESS OF THE
PLACE--HOW THE STREETS WERE NAMED.
It was now about five years since Barnum had had a settled home.
The necessities of his business combined with the adversities of
fortune had kept him knocking about from pillar to post.
Sometimes they lived in boarding-houses, and sometimes they kept
house in temporary quarters. Mr. and Mrs. Barnum were now alone,
two of their daughters being married and the third being away at
a boarding-school. Mrs. Barnum's health was much impaired, and it
was desirable that she should have a comfortable and permanent
home. Accordingly, in 1860, Barnum built a pleasant house at
Bridgeport, next to that of his daughter Caroline and not far
from the ruins of Iranistan.
His unfortunate enterprise in the clock business had not
discouraged him from further business ventures. His pet city,
East Bridgeport, was growing rapidly. An enormous sewing-machine
factory had been built, employing a thousand workmen. Other large
factories were springing up, many private residences were being
erected, and there was a great demand for houses of all kinds,
but especially for small cottages suitable for mechanics and
other laboring men. The farm-land which Barnum had purchased only
a few years before was rapidly becoming a city.
It was characteristic of Barnum to place himself in the forefront
in this city-building movement, and in the double role of
speculator and public benefactor. The enterprise which he
undertook was calculated both to help those who were willing to
help themselves to obtain independent homes, and at the same time
to pay a handsome profit to Mr. Barnum. His scheme was described
by himself as follows in the Bridgeport Standard:
"NEW HOUSES IN EAST BRIDGEPORT.
"EVERY MAN TO OWN THE HOUSE HE LIVES IN.
"There is a demand at the present moment for two hundred more
dwelling-houses in East Bridgeport. It is evident that if the
money expended in rent can be paid towards the purchase of a
house and lot, the person so paying will in a few years own the
house he lives in, instead of always remaining a tenant. In view
of this fact, I propose to loan money at six per cent. to any
number, not exceeding fifty, industrious, temperate and
respectable individuals, who desire to build their own houses.
"They may engage their own builders, and build according to any
reasonable plan (which I may approve), or I will have it done for
them at the lowest possible rate, without a farthing profit to
myself or agent, I putting the lot at a fair price and advancing
eighty per cent. of the entire cost; the other party to furnish
twenty per cent. in labor, material, or money, and they may pay
me in small sums weekly, monthly, or quarterly, any amount not
less than three per cent. per quarter, all of which is to apply
on the money advanced until it is paid.
"It has been ascertained that by purchasing building materials
for cash, and in large quantities, nice dwellings, painted, and
furnished with green blinds, can be erected at a cost of $1,500
or $1,800, for house, lot, fences, etc., all complete, and if six
or eight friends prefer to join in erecting a neat block of
houses with verandas in front, the average cost need not exceed
about $1,300 per house and lot. If, however, some parties would
prefer a single or double house that would cost $2,500 to $3,000,
I shall be glad to meet their views.
"P. T. BARNUM. "February 16, 1864."
On this the editor of the paper commented as follows:
"AN ADVANTAGEOUS OFFER.--We have read with great pleasure Mr.
Barnum's advertisement, offering assistance to any number of
persons, not exceeding fifty, in the erection of dwelling-houses.
This plan combines all the advantages and none of the objections
of building associations. Any individual who can furnish in cash,
labor, or material, one-fifth only of the amount requisite for
the erection of a dwelling-house, can receive the other
four-fifths from Mr. Barnum, rent his house, and by merely paying
what may be considered as only a fair rent, for a few years, find
himself at last the owner, and all further payments cease. In the
meantime, he can be making such inexpensive improvements in his
property as would greatly increase its market value, and besides
have the advantage of any rise in the value of real estate. It is
not often that such a generous offer is made to working men. It
is a loan on what would be generally considered inadequate
security, at six per cent., at a time when a much better use of
money can be made by any capitalist. It is therefore generous.
Mr. Barnum may make money by the operation. Very well, perhaps he
will, but if he does, it will be by making others richer, not
poorer; by helping those who need assistance, not by hindering
them, and we can only wish that every rich man would follow such
a noble example, and thus, without injury to themselves, give a
helping hand to those who need it. Success to the enterprise. We
hope that fifty men will be found before the week ends, each of
whom desires in such a manner to obtain a roof which he can call
A considerable number of men immediately availed themselves of
Barnum's offer, and succeeded after a time in paying for their
homes without much effort. There were many others, however, who
did not fully accept his proposals. They would not sign the
temperance pledge, and they would not give up the use of tobacco.
The result was, that they continued month after month and year
after year to pay rent on hired tenements. "The money they have
expended for whiskey and tobacco," remarked Mr. Barnum,
moralizing upon this topic, "would have given them homes of their
own if it had been devoted to that object, and their positions,
socially and morally, would have been far better. How many
infatuated men there are in all parts of the country who could
now be independent, and even owners of their own carriages, but
for their slavery to these miserable habits!"
This East Bridgeport land was originally purchased by Barnum at
an average cost of about $200 per acre. A few years after the
above-described enterprise, a considerable part of it was
assessed in the tax list at from $3,000 to $4,000 per acre. It
was presently annexed to the city, and connected with it by three
bridges across the river. A horse-railroad was also built, of
which Mr. Barnum was one of the original stockholders.
This part of the city was laid out by General Noble and Mr.
Barnum, and various streets were named after members of the two
families. Hence there are Noble street, Barnum street, William
street (General Noble's first name), Harriet street (Mrs. Noble's
name), Hallett street (Mrs. Barnum's maiden name), and Caroline
street, Helen street, and Pauline street, the names of Barnum's
three daughters. A public school was also named for Mr. Barnum.
The streets were lined with beautiful shade trees, set out by
thousands by Barnum; and Noble, and the same gentlemen gave to
the city its beautiful Washington Park of seven acres.
CHAPTER XXXIV. GREAT YEAR AT THE MUSEUM.
CAPTURING AND EXHIBITING WHITE WHALES NEWSPAPER COMMENTS--A
TOUCHING OBITUARY--THE GREAT BEHEMOTH--A LONG "LAST
WEEK"--COMMODORE NUTT--REAL LIVE INDIANS ON EXHIBITION.
The year 1861 was notable in the history of the American Museum.
Barnum heard that some fishermen at the mouth of the St. Lawrence
river had captured alive a fine white whale. He was also told
that such an animal, if packed in a box filled with sea-weed and
salt water, could be transported over land a considerable
distance without danger to its life or health. He accordingly
determined to secure and place on exhibition in his Museum a
couple of live whales. So he built in the basement of the
building a tank of masonry, forty feet long and eighteen feet
wide, to contain them. Then he went to the St. Lawrence river on
a whaling expedition. His objective point was the Isle au
Coudres, which was populated by French Canadians. There he
engaged a party of twenty-four fishermen, and instructed them to
capture for him, alive and unharmed, a couple of the white whales
which at almost any time were to be seen in the water not far
from the island.
The plan decided upon was to plant in the river a "kraal,"
composed of stakes driven down in the form of a V, leaving the
broad end open for the whales to enter. This was done in a
shallow place, with the point of the kraal towards shore; and if
by chance one or more whales should enter the trap at high water,
the fishermen were to occupy the entrance with their boats, and
keep up a tremendous splashing and noise till the tide receded,
when the frightened whales would find themselves nearly "high and
dry," or with too little water to enable them to swim, and their
capture would be next thing in order. This was to be effected by
securing a slip-noose of stout rope over their tails, and towing
them to the sea-weed lined boxes in which they were to be
transported to New York.
Many times fine whales were seen gliding close by the entrance to
the trap, but they did not enter it, and the patience of Barnum
and his fishermen was sorely tried. One day one whale did enter
the kraal, and the fishermen proposed to capture it, but Barnum
was determined to have two, and while they waited for the second
one to enter the first one went out again. After several days of
waiting, Barnum was aroused early one morning by the excited and
delighted shouts of his men. Hastily dressing, he found that two
whales were in the trap and were sure of being captured. Leaving
the rest of the task to his assistants, he hurried back to New
York. At every station on the route he gave instructions to the
telegraph operators to take off all whaling messages that passed
over the wires to New York, and to inform their fellow-townsmen
at what hour the whales would pass through each place.
The result of these arrangements may be imagined; at every
station crowds of people came to the cars to see the whales which
were travelling by land to Barnum's Museum, and those who did not
see the monsters with their own eyes, at least saw some one who
had seen them, and thus was secured a tremendous advertisement,
seven hundred miles long, for the American Museum.
Arrived in New York, dispatches continued to come from the
whaling expedition every few hours. These were bulletined in
front of the Museum and copies sent to the papers. The excitement
was intense, and, when at last, these marine monsters arrived and
were swimming in the tank that had been prepared for them,
anxious thousands literally rushed to see the strangest
curiosities ever exhibited in New York.
Barnum's first whaling expedition was thus a great success.
Unfortunately he did not know how to feed or take care of the
animals. A supply of salt water could not be obtained, so they
were put into fresh water artificially salted, and this did not
agree with them. The basement of the Museum building was also
poorly ventilated and the air was unwholesome. As the result of
these circumstances the whales died within a week, although not
until they had been seen by thousands of people. Barnum
immediately resolved to try again. In order to secure a better
home for his pets, he laid an iron pipe under the streets of the
city, from his Museum clear out into New York bay. Through this,
by means of a steam-engine, he was able to secure a constant
supply of genuine sea-water. In order that the whales should have
good air to breathe, he constructed for them another tank on the
second floor of the Museum building. This tank had a floor of
slate, and the sides were made of French plate-glass, in huge
pieces six feet long, five feet wide, and one inch thick. These
plates were imported by Barnum expressly for the purpose. The
tank was twenty-four feet square. Two more white whales were soon
caught in the same manner as before, and were conveyed in a ship
to Quebec and thence by rail to New York.
Barnum was always proud of this enterprise, and it yielded him
handsome profits. The second pair of whales, however, soon died.
Barnum remarked that their sudden and immense popularity was too
much for them. But a third pair was quickly secured to take their
place. Envious and hostile critics declared that they were not
whales at all, but only porpoises, but this did no harm. Indeed,
Barnum might well have paid them to start these malicious
reports, for much good advertising was thereby secured. The
illustrious Agassiz was appealed to. He came to see the animals,
gave Barnum a certificate that they were genuine white whales,
and this document was published far and wide.
The manner in which the showman advertised his curiosities may be
seen from the following, taken from one of the daily papers of
BARNUM'S AMERICAN MUSEUM. ----After months of unwearied labor,
and spending NEARLY TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS NEARLY TEN THOUSAND
DOLLARS NEARLY TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS
in capturing and transporting them from that part of the Gulf of
St. Lawrence nearest Labrador, the Manager is enabled to offer
TWO LIVING WHALES, TWO LIVING WHALES, TWO LIVING WHALES, TWO
LIVING WHALES, TWO LIVING WHALES, TWO LIVING WHALES,
a male and a female. Everybody has heard of WHALES
IN NURSERY TALES and "SAILOR'S YARNS," IN NURSERY TALES and
everybody has read of WHALES in story, song, and history, and
WANTS TO SEE A WHALE, WANTS TO SEE A WHALE, WANTS TO SEE A WHALE,
WANTS TO SEE A WHALE,
and now they have the opportunity. Barnum has
CAPTURED TWO OF THE LEVIATHANS, CAPTURED TWO OF THE LEVIATHANS,
CAPTURED TWO OF THE LEVIATHANS,
has built a small ocean in his Museum, filled it from the briny
deep, and there
THE TWO LIVING WHALES, THE TWO LIVING WHALES, THE TWO LIVING
WHALES, THE TWO LIVING WHALES,
measuring respectively fifteen and twenty feet in length, may be
seen at all hours sporting in their native element. Who will miss
the opportunity of seeing them? Another may not offer in a
lifetime. Embrace this ere it be too late. See Mr. Barnum's card
LAST TWO DAYS OF WILLIAM TILLMAN AND WILLIAM STEDDING,
The Colored Steward and German Sailor of the
SCHOONER S. J. WARING,
Who slew three of the piratical prize crew, and rescued
themselves and the vessel from their power.
WHAT IS IT? OR, MAN MONKEY.
MADAGASCAR ALBINOS, PURE WHITE NEGROES, OR MOORS. SEA LION,
MAMMOTH BEAR SAMSON, with a variety of other living Bears;
MONSTER SNAKES, AQUARIA, HAPPY FAMILY, LIVING SEAL, WAX FIGURES,
In the Lecture-Room, a great Dramatic Novelty is offered,
EMBRACING FARCE, VAUDEVILLE and BURLETTA, with a brilliant and
talented company, including LITTLE LOLA, THE INFANT WONDER,
Mr. and Mrs. C. B. REYNOLDS;
Miss DORA DAWRON, DOUBLE-VOICED SINGER, LA PETITE ADDIE LE BRUN,
The favorite Juvenile Danseuse, always popular.
MARIE; THE CHILD OF SORROW,
With a laughable farce, every day at 3 and 7 3/4 o'clock.
Admission to all, 25 cents; Children under 10, 15 cents.
CARD FROM P. T. BARNUM.--LIVING WHALES on exhibition.--Having
learned from fishermen and eminent naturalists, including the
written statement of the celebrated Prof. Agassiz, that the White
Whale could be found in that portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
nearest to Labrador, I made a journey there in June last,
accompanied by my agent. I remained there a fortnight, and made
every arrangement for capturing and keeping alive two of these
monsters. This arrangement included the service of thirty-five
men, beside my special agent. I then returned and had erected in
the Museum a reservoir fifty feet in length and twenty-five feet
in width, in which was placed sea-water, and arrangements made
for a continual fresh supply. I also made arrangements with
steamers and railroads to convey these leviathans to New York at
the fastest possible speed, without regard to the expense.
I am highly gratified in being able to assure the public that
they have arrived safe and well, a MALE and FEMALE, from 15 to 20
feet long, and are now swimming in the miniature ocean in my
Museum, to the delight of visitors. As it is very doubtful
whether these wonderful creatures can be kept alive more than a
few days, the public will see the importance of seizing the first
moment to see them.
P. T. BARNUM.
AMERICAN MUSEUM, Thursday, August 8, 1861.
"A real live whale," said an editorial writer in the New York
Tribune of that date, "is as great a curiosity as a live lord or
prince, being much more difficult to catch, and far more
wonderful in its appearance and habits. After all people are
people, and have much the same ways of feeling and doing. But
when we get among the whales, we catch glimpses of a new and neat
thing in nose, recall the narrative of Jonah without throwing a
shadow of a doubt upon its authenticity, and appreciate keenly
the difficulties with which mermaid society must have to contend.
"We owe the presence of two whales in our midst to the enterprise
of Mr. P. T. Barnum. He has had them in tow for a long while, but
has kept his secret well, and it was not until his own special
whaler telegraphed from Troy that he had come so far into the
bowels of the earth with his submarine charge, and all well, that
he felt warranted in whispering whale to the public. The public
was delighted, but not surprised, because it feels that the
genius that is equal to a What Is It is also equal to the biggest
thing, and would experience no unusual thrill of wonder if a real
iceberg, or a section of the identical North Pole, should be
announced on the bills of the Museum.
"But flocks of the public sought the Museum yesterday, and were
not disappointed. They saw not, as Polonius, something 'very like
a whale,' but the original animal in its original element. The
bears, and the anacondas, the hatchet, and the seal, sank into
merited insignificance, although they will have their day again
if the whales should expire. The transfer of the fish was neatly
effected. They travelled the whole distance in first-class
hermetical boxes, filled with water and thickly lined with
seaweed, and were landed, if the expression may be used, in the
new and excellent tank provided for them in the basement of the
Museum. This tank is fifty feet deep and twenty-five in width,
has seven feet of sea-water in it, and seems to suit the whales
eminently. Mr. Barnum has fears that the pets will have but a
brief, if brilliant, career, in their new quarters, but we prefer
to predict for them a long and happy one.
"These are white whales, and were taken near the Labrador coast
by a crew of thirty-five men. The largest has attained the
extreme size reached by this species, and is about 22 feet long;
the other is 18 feet long. Their form and motion are graceful,
and their silver backs and bellies show brightly through the
water. A long-continued intimacy has endeared them to each other,
and they go about quite like a pair of whispering lovers, blowing
off their mutual admiration in a very emphatic manner. Just at
present they are principally engaged in throwing their eyes
around the premises, and pay small attention to visitors, upon
whom, indeed, the narrative of Jonah has a strong hold. And yet
neither of these whales could make a single mouthful of a man of
ordinary size. Even if one of them should succeed in swallowing a
man, he could just stand up with the whale, and make it, at
least, as uncomfortable as himself.
"Here is a real 'sensation.' We do not believe the enterprise of
Mr. Barnum will stop at white whales. It will embrace sperm
whales and mermaids, and all strange things that swim or fly or
crawl, until the Museum will become one vast microcosm of the
animal creation. A quarter seems positively contemptible weighed
against such a treat."
And this was the public tribute, from the same pen, to the first
of the cetaceans that died through too much publicity:
"The community was shocked to hear of the death of one of
Barnum's whales yesterday morning. Death apparently loves a
shining mark. It seems but yesterday--in fact it was the day
before--we gazed upon the youthful form, instinct with life, and
looking forward to a useful and pleasant career. The whale shared
not the forebodings of its friends. Mr. Barnum was possessed with
a strange presentiment of calamity, and summoned the public to
either a house of mourning or a house of joy, he knew not which,
but at all events to be quick. At daybreak, we believe, the great
natural curiosity passed away.
"The blow is a severe one. To Mr. Barnum it must be a shocking
reminder of the emptiness of all human plans. Enterprise, liberal
expenditure, courage--what are they all before the fell
destroyer? Even whales have their time to sink and rise no more.
To the dear companion of all the joys and sorrows of the troubled
life of the deceased the bereavement must be sore indeed.
Delicacy forbids that we should lay bare such sorrows. No
twenty-five cent ticket should admit to them, including the
lecture-room. Such as witnessed the tender endearments between
these white whales, and saw how they had hearts that beat as one,
and how they were not happy when they were not pretty near each
other in the tank, may, perhaps, realize the anguish of their
separation. We are not surprised to learn, indeed, that the
affliction has borne so heavily upon the survivor that there may
be tidings at any moment of the flight of its spirit also. May
both whales meet again in the open seas of immortality! The loss
of the public is great, although not irreparable. The world moves
on, and many natural curiosities remain to fill up the gaps
caused by death. Mr. Barnum's spirit, although saddened, is not
broken. He sees the objects of his care and best management
snatched from him, and yet he announces that he will immediately
send on for two more whales of the same sort. We shall soon
forget the lost whales in contemplation of the new. Such is life,
it is well known.
"The decease may be attributed in a great measure to bear. It is
true that there might have been something injurious to the health
of the fish in a long overland journey. 'A fish out of water' is
a case that tries the utmost skill of the faculty. If a man were
confined in the most comfortable of water-tight boxes and
carried, under the care of a special agent, hundreds of miles
beneath the water, we should not be startled to hear that his
constitution was much shattered at the end of the journey. And
yet we are more encouraged to think that the whale owed his death
to other causes than the overland transportation, because the sea
lion does so well, and the fishes in the aquaria appear to be so
hearty and contented. To bear, then, we must attribute our loss.
This animal abounded in the basement where the tank is, and
whether through jealousy of the fame of the new-comers, or
through some settled antipathy between flesh and fish, or simply
through his natural beastliness, he communicated effluvia to the
atmosphere that were perfectly unendurable by whale, which
promptly expired from want of good breath.
"This agent of destruction will be removed from the premises
before the next whales arrive, and suitable measures will be
taken to guard against such a mournful catastrophe. There is a
whale in Boston whose health is so good that it never requires
"The deceased was about sixty years of age. It bore an excellent
character. Its patience and sweet disposition under the most
trying circumstances will long be remembered. The remains,
weighing not less than twenty-six hundred pounds, will be
suitably disposed off. While the public mourns it may also
console itself with the reflection that there are plenty more
where it came from, and that the energy of Barnum is not to be
abated by any of the common disasters of life, and may hopefully
anticipate a speedy announcement of an entirely new whale. Vale!
The tank in the basement of the Museum was now devoted to a yet
more interesting exhibition. On August 12, 1861, Barnum placed in
it the first live hippopotamus that had ever been seen in
America. The brute was advertised most extensively and
ingeniously as "the great behemoth of the Scriptures," and
thousands of scientific men, biblical students, clergymen and
others, besides the great host of the common people, flocked to
see it. There was fully as much excitement in New York over this
wonder in the animal creation as there was in London when the
first hippopotamus was placed in the Regent's Park "Zoo."
Barnum began by advertising that the animal was on exhibition for
a short time only. Then he announced the "last week" of the novel
show. Then, "by special request," another week was added. And
thus the "last week of the hippopotamus" was prolonged through
many months. The following is a fair sample of the advertisements
with which the daily papers literally teemed:
BARNUM'S MUSEUM ----SECOND WEEK OF THAT WONDERFUL LIVING
FROM THE RIVER NILE IN EGYPT THE GREAT BEHEMOTH OF THE SCRIPTURES
AND THE MARVEL OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM.
The history of this animal is full of interest, and to every
class, especially the educated and intelligent, but above all to
the biblical student, who has read with interest the glowing
THE GREAT BEHEMOTH
in the Book of Job. He is strictly an
living in the water and out of it; under the water, or on the top
of it, floats on its surface with perfect ease, or beneath the
surface, midway between the top and the bottom. In their natural
state these animals are wild and ferocious; though on the land,
they are not very formidable, but when pursued they fly to the
DESCEND TO THE BOTTOM AND WALK ACROSS,
frequently appearing on the opposite side without the least
indication of their course on the surface of the stream. If
exasperated by assaults, in the water they are the most
their gigantic proportions and herculean strength, giving them
power over every opposing force, frequently destroying whole
boat-loads of men and their boats, crushing with their huge jaws
everything that comes in their way. In the Museum the specimen
here exhibited has an
ARTIFICIAL OCEAN OR RIVER,
where he is to be seen in all his natural peculiarities, floating
on, and swiming beneath the surface, walking on the bottom
several feet beneath, exhibiting, in short, all the peculiarities
of his nature; and to perfect the scene, native
ARABIAN KEEPER, SALAAMA,
who is himself a curiosity as a specimen of that historic tribe
of men, who exhibits all the stolidity and Arabian dignity of
that Oriental race; the only man who can control or exhibit his
hippopotamiship, is in constant attendance. They are both to be
seen at all hours, DAY and EVENING.
This is the
FIRST AND ONLY REAL HIPPOPOTAMUS
ever seen in America. He is engaged at a cost of many thousand of
dollars, and will remain
A SHORT TIME ONLY. A SHORT TIME ONLY.
Also just obtained at great expense, and now to be seen swimming
in the large tank in the Aquarial Hall,
A LIVING SHARK,
beside a great variety of other living Fish, Turtles, &c., &c.
WHAT IS IT? OR, MAN MONKEY. SEA LION, MAMMOTH BEAR SAMSON,
MONSTER SNAKES, AQUARIA, HAPPY FAMILY, LIVING SEAL, &c.
The Lecture-Room Entertainments embrace PETITE DRAMA, VAUDEVILLE,
BURLETTA and FARCE. By a company of rare musical and dramatic
talent. Miss DAWRON, DOUBLE-VOICED VOCALIST, Mlle. MATILDA E.
The Talented Young Violinist, &c.
Admission to all, 25 cents; Children under 10, 15 cents.
Nor did the monster fail to receive much other notice in the
press. Said one writer: "Nothing discomfitted by the sudden death
that overtook the gentle and loving whales, Mr. Barnum has again
invested untold heaps of money in a tremendous water-monster. The
great tank has again a tenant, and the great public have huge
amphibious matter for their wonderment. The new curiosity comes
to us staggering under the unwieldy name of Hippo-potamus. He is
a comely gentleman, fair and beauteous to look upon; and the
strange loveliness of his countenance cannot fail to captivate
the crowd. His youth, too, gives him a special claim to the
consideration of the ladies, for he is a little darling of only
three years--a very baby of a hippopotamus in fact, who, only a
few months ago, daily sucked his few gallons of lacteal
nourishment from the fond bosom of mamma Hippo, at the bottom of
some murmuring Egyptian river. The young gentleman is about as
heavy as an ox, and gives you the idea that he is the result of
the amalgamation of a horse, a cow, two pigs, a seal, a dozen
India-rubber blankets, and an old-fashioned horse-hide covered
trunk. Big as he is, unwieldy as he is, strange, uncouth, and
monstrous as he is, he appears after all to be most mild and
even-tempered. In truth, he is no more vicious than a
good-natured muley cow; and if by chance he should hurt anybody,
he would have to achieve it much in the same manner that such a
cow would, by running against him, or rolling over upon him. So
that the red-breeched individual, who so valiantly gets over the
railing and stands by the side of young Hippo, doesn't, after
all, do a deed of such superhuman daring, for all he does it with
such an air of reckless sacrifice of self for the public good.
The hippopotamus is certainly one of the most interesting and
attractive of all the strange creatures ever yet caught by Mr.
Barnum, and offered for the delectation of the paying public. He
is well worth a visit, and an hour's inspection. He receives
daily, from 9 A.M. to some time after dark."
Having now a good supply of salt water Barnum greatly enlarged
his aquarium, which was the first show of the kind ever seen in
America. He exhibited in it living sharks, porpoises, sea-horses
and many rare fishes. For several seasons he kept a boat cruising
the ocean in search of marine novelties. In this way he secured
many of the beautiful angel fishes and others that never had been
seen in New York before. He also purchased the Aquarial Gardens
in Boston, and removed the entire collection to his Museum.
The story of another of Barnum's greatest hits must be told in
his own words: "In December, 1861," he related, "I was visited at
the Museum by a most remarkable dwarf, who was a sharp,
intelligent little fellow, with a deal of drollery and wit. He
had a splendid head, was perfectly formed, and was very
attractive, and, in short, for a 'showman,' he was a perfect
treasure. His name, he told me, was George Washington Morrison
Nutt, and his father was Major Rodnia Nutt, a substantial farmer,
of Manchester, New Hampshire. I was not long in dispatching an
efficient agent to Manchester, and in overcoming the competition
with other showmen who were equally eager to secure this
extraordinary pigmy. The terms upon which I engaged him for three
years were so large that he was christened the $30,000 Nutt; I,
in the meantime, conferring upon him the title of Commodore. As
soon as I engaged him, placards, posters and the columns of the
newspapers proclaimed the presence of 'Commodore Nutt' at the
Museum. I also procured for the Commodore a pair of Shetland
ponies, miniature coachman and footman, in livery, gold-mounted
harness, and an elegant little carriage, which, when closed,
represented a gigantic English walnut. The little Commodore
attracted great attention, and grew rapidly in public favor.
General Tom Thumb was then travelling in the South and West. For
some years he had not been exhibited in New York, and during
these years he had increased considerably in rotundity and had
changed much in his general appearance. It was a singular fact,
however, that Commodore Nutt was almost a fac-simile of General
Tom Thumb, as he looked half-a-dozen years before. Consequently,
very many of my patrons, not making allowance for the time which
had elapsed since they had last seen the General, declared that
there was no such person as 'Commodore Nutt;' but that I was
exhibiting my old friend Tom Thumb under a new name.
"Commodore Nutt enjoyed the joke very much. He would sometimes
half admit the deception, simply to add to the bewilderment of
the doubting portion of my visitors.
"It was evident that here was an opportunity to turn all doubts
into hard cash, by simply bringing the two dwarf Dromios
together, and showing them on the same platform. I therefore
induced Tom Thumb to bring his Western engagements to a close,
and to appear for four weeks, beginning with August 11, 1862, in
my Museum. Announcements headed 'The Two Dromios,' and 'Two
Smallest Men, and Greatest Curiosities Living,' as I expected,
drew large crowds to see them, and many came especially to solve
their doubts with regard to the genuineness of the 'Nutt.' But
here I was considerably nonplussed, for, astonishing as it may
seem, the doubts of many of the visitors were confirmed! The
sharp people who were determined 'not to be humbugged, anyhow,'
still declared that Commodore Nutt was General Tom Thumb, and
that the little fellow whom I was trying to pass off as Tom
Thumb, was no more like the General than he was like the man in
the moon. It is very amusing to see how people will sometimes
deceive themselves by being too incredulous.
"In 1862 I sent the Commodore to Washington, and, joining him
there, I received an invitation from President Lincoln to call at
the White House with my little friend. Arriving at the appointed
hour, I was informed that the President was in a special Cabinet
meeting, but that he had left word if I called to be shown in to
him with the Commodore. These were dark days in the rebellion,
and I felt that my visit, if not ill-timed, must at all events be
brief. When we were admitted, Mr. Lincoln received us cordially,
and introduced us to the members of the Cabinet. When Mr. Chase
was introduced as the Secretary of the Treasury, the little
" 'I suppose you are the gentleman who is spending so much of
Uncle Sam's money?'
" 'No, indeed,' said the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, very
promptly; 'I am spending the money.'
" 'Well,' said Commodore Nutt, 'it is in a good cause, anyhow,
and I guess it will come out all right.'
"His apt remark created much amusement. Mr. Lincoln then bent
down his long, lank body, and taking Nutt by the hand, he said:
" 'Commodore, permit me to give you a parting word of advice.
When you are in command of your fleet, if you find yourself in
danger of being taken prisoner, I advise you to wade ashore.'
The Commodore found the laugh was against him, but placing
himself at the side of the President, and gradually raising his
eyes up the whole length of Mr. Lincoln's very long legs, he
" 'I guess, Mr. President, you could do that better than I
In no place did extremes ever meet in a more practical sense than
in the American Museum. Commodore Nutt was the shortest of men;
and at the same time the Museum contained the tallest of women.
Her name was Anna Swan, and she came from Nova Scotia. Barnum
first heard of her through a Quaker, who was visiting the Museum.
This visitor came to Barnum's office, and told him of a wonderful
girl, only seventeen years old, who lived near him at Pictou.
Barnum soon sent an agent up there, who brought the young lady
back to New York. She was an intelligent girl, and, despite her
enormous stature, was decidedly good-looking. For a long time she
was a leading attraction at Barnum's Museum, and afterwards went
to England and attracted great attention there.
For many years Barnum had been in the habit of engaging parties
of American Indians from the far West to exhibit at the Museum.
He had also sent several parties of them to Europe, where they
were regarded as extraordinary curiosities.
In 1864 ten or twelve chiefs, of as many different tribes,
visited the President of the United States, at Washington. By a
pretty liberal outlay of money, Barnum succeeded in inducing the
interpreter to bring them to New York, and to pass some days at
the Museum. Of course, getting these Indians to dance, or to give
any illustration of their games or pastimes, was out of the
question. They were real chiefs of powerful tribes, and would no
more have consented to give an exhibition of themselves than the
chief magistrate of our own nation would have done. Their
interpreter could not therefore promise that they would remain at
the Museum for any definite time; "for," said he, "you can only
keep them just so long as they suppose all your patrons come to
pay them visits of honor. If they suspected that your Museum was
a place where people paid for entering," he continued, "you could
not keep them a moment after the discovery."
On their arrival at the Museum, therefore, Barnum took them upon
the stage and personally introduced them to the public. The
Indians liked this attention from him, as they had been informed
that he was the proprietor of the great establishment in which
they were invited and honored guests. His patrons were of course
pleased to see these old chiefs, as they knew they were the "REAL
thing," and several of them were known to the public, either as
being friendly or cruel to the whites. After one or two
appearances on the stage, Barnum took them in carriages and
visited the Mayor of New York in the Governor's room at the City
Hall. Here the Mayor made them a speech of welcome, which, being
interpreted to the savages, was responded to by a speech from one
of the chiefs, in which he thanked the "Great Father" of the city
for his pleasant words, and for his kindness in pointing out the
portraits of his predecessors hanging on the walls of the
On another occasion Barnum took them by special invitation to
visit one of the large public schools up town. The teachers were
pleased to see them, and arranged an exhibition of special
exercises by the scholars, which they thought would be most
likely to gratify their barbaric visitors. At the close of these
exercises, one old chief arose, and simply said: "This is all new
to us. We are mere unlearned sons of the forest, and cannot
understand what we have seen and heard."
On other occasions he took them to ride in Central Park, and
through different portions of the city. At every street-corner
which they passed they would express their astonishment to each
other, at seeing the long rows of houses which extended both ways
on either side of each cross-street. Of course, after each of
these outside visits Barnum would return with them to the Museum,
and secure two or three appearances upon the stage to receive the
people who had there congregated "to do them honor."
As they regarded him as their host, they did not hesitate to
trespass upon his hospitality. Whenever their eyes rested upon a
glittering shell among his specimens of conchology, especially if
it had several brilliant colors, one would take off his coat,
another his shirt, and insist that he should exchange the shell
for the garment. When he declined the exchange, but on the
contrary presented the coveted article, he soon found he had
established a dangerous precedent. Immediately they all commenced
to beg for everything in the vast collection which they happened
to take a liking to. This cost Barnum many valuable specimens,
and often "put him to his trumps" for an excuse to avoid giving
them things which he could not part with.
The chief of one of the tribes one day discovered an ancient
shirt of chain-mail which hung in one of the cases of antique
armor. He was delighted with it, and declared he must have it.
Barnum tried all sorts of excuses to prevent his getting it, for
it had cost a hundred dollars, and was a great curiosity. But the
old man's eyes glistened, and he would not take "no" for an
answer. "The Utes have killed my little child," he said through
the interpreter; and now he must have this steel shirt to protect
himself; and when he returned to the Rocky Mountains he would
have his revenge. Barnum remained inexorable until the chief
finally brought a new buckskin Indian suit, which he insisted
upon exchanging. Barnum then felt compelled to accept his
proposal; and never did anyone see a man more delighted than the
Indian seemed to be when he took the mailed shirt into his hands.
He fairly jumped up and down with joy. He ran to his
lodging-room, and soon appeared again with the coveted armor upon
his body, and marched down one of the main halls of the Museum,
with folded arms, and head erect, occasionally patting his breast
with his right hand, as much as to say, "Now, Mr. Ute, look
sharp, for I will soon be on the war-path!"
Among these Indians were War Bonnet, Lean Bear, and
Hand-in-the-water, chiefs of the Cheyennes; Yellow Buffalo, of
the Kiowas; Yellow Bear, of the same tribe; Jacob, of the Caddos;
and White Bull, of the Apaches. The little wiry chief known as
Yellow Bear had killed many whites as they had travelled through
the "far West." He was a sly, treacherous, bloodthirsty savage,
who would think no more of scalping a family of women and
children than a butcher would of wringing the neck of a chicken.
But now he was on a mission to the "Great Father" at Washington,
seeking for presents and favors for his tribe, and he pretended
to be exceedingly meek and humble, and continually urged the
interpreter to announce him as a "great friend to the white man."
He would fawn about Barnum, and although not speaking or
understanding a word of our language, would try to convince him
that he loved him dearly.
In exhibiting these Indian warriors on the stage, Barnum
explained to the large audiences the names and characteristics of
each. When he came to Yellow Bear he would pat him familiarly
upon the shoulder, which always caused him to look up with a
pleasant smile, while he softly stroked Barnum's arm with his
right hand in the most loving manner. Knowing that he could not
understand a word he said, Barnum pretended to be complimenting
him to the audience, while he was really saying something like
"This little Indian, ladies and gentlemen, is Yellow Bear, chief
of the Kiowas. He has killed, no doubt, scores of white persons,
and he is probably the meanest black-hearted rascal that lives in
the far West." Here Barnum patted him on the head, and he,
supposing he was sounding his praises, would smile, fawn upon
him, and stroke his arm, while he continued: "If the bloodthirsty
little villain understood what I was saying, he would kill me in
a moment; but as he thinks I am complimenting him, I can safely
state the truth to you, that he is a lying, thieving,
treacherous, murderous monster. He has tortured to death poor,
unprotected women, murdered their husbands, brained their
helpless little ones; and he would gladly do the same to you or
to me, if he thought he could escape punishment. This is but a
faint description of the character of Yellow Bear." Here Barnum
gave him another patronizing pat on the head, and he, with a
pleasant smile, bowed to the audience, as much as to say that the
words were quite true, and that he thanked Barnum very much for
the high encomiums he had so generously heaped upon him.
After the Indians had been at the Museum about week they
discovered the real character of the place. They found they were
simply on exhibition, and that people paid a fee for the
privilege of coming in and gazing at them. Forthwith there was an
outcry of discontent and anger. Nothing would induce them again
to appear upon the stage. Their dignity had been irretrievably
offended, and Barnum was actually fearful lest they should wreak
vengeance upon him with physical violence. It was with a feeling
of great relief that he witnessed their departure for Washington
the next day.
In the fall of this year Barnum produced at his Museum a
dramatization of Dickens's "Great Expectations." On the opening
night of the play, before the curtain rose, the great showman
himself went upon the stage and made this poetical address of
welcome to the audience:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
"That Prince of Humbugs, Barnum," so it appears
Some folks have designated me for several years.
Well, I don't murmur; indeed, when they embellish it,
To tell the truth, my friends, I rather relish it,
Since your true humbug's be, who as a host,
For the least money entertains you most.
In this sense I'm a "humbug," I succumb!
Who as a "General" thing brought out Tom Thumb?
Who introduced (you can't say there I sinned)
The Swedish Nightingale, sweet Jenny Lind?
Who brought you Living Whales from Labrador?
The Hippopotamus from Nilus's shore,
The Bearded Lady with her (h)airs and graces,
The Aztec Children with their normal faces,
The Twins of Siam--rarest of dualities--
Two ever separate, ne'er apart realities?
The Family of Albinos? the Giraffe?
The famous Baby Show that made you laugh?
The Happy Family--cats, rats, doves, hawks, harmonious?
Their voices blend in tones euphonious.
The great Sea Lion from Pacific's coast,
The "Monarch of the Ocean," no empty boast;
Old Adam's Bears, cutest of brute performers,
In modern "peace meetings" models for reformers.
That living miracle, the Lightning Calculator,
Those figures confound Hermann the "Prestidigitator."
The Grand Aquaria, an official story
Of life beneath the waves ill all its glory;
The curious "What is It?" which you, though spunky,
Won't call a man and cannot call a monkey.
These things and many more time forbids to state,
I first introduced, if I did not originate;
"The World's Seven Wonders," pooh! let them invite you,
Here "seven" saloons all wonder-full delight you.
To call this "humbug" admits of no defence,
For all is shown for five and twenty cents.
And now, good friends, to use less rhyme than reason,
To-day re-opens our dramatic season;
Therefore I welcome you! And though we're certain
To raise "Great Expectations" with the curtain,
And "play the Dickens" afternoon and nightly,
I bid you welcome none the less politely,
To these my "quarters," merry and reliable,
That yours are always welcome 'tis undeniable!
And Patrick Henry like I say, I boast of it,
If that be "humbug," gentlemen, "make the most of it."
The foregoing address may be correctly said to have as much truth
as poetry. It is a graceful summary of the curiosities which
Barnum had brought before the world up to his sixtieth year. It
does not include the Sacred White Elephant of Siam, the mammoth
Jumbo and other wonders of nature which he was yet to reveal to
astonished and delighted millions. Nor does it indicate that
grand genius of aggregation by which in later years he surpassed
all his previous performances--masterly as they were. Not till
the veteran had reached the age of seventy--the allotted span of
life--did he gather and create "The Greatest Show on Earth."
In connection with the dramatization of Dickens' novel, it seems
surprising that the Great Showman had little intercourse with the
Great Novelist. He was on intimate terms with Thackeray and gave
him useful hints for his lecturing tour in the United States, by
which the humorist duly profited. But Dickens, who reached the
popular heart as Barnum did their senses, seems to have held
aloof from one whose knowledge of men rivalled his own.
CHAPTER XXXV. GENERAL AND MRS. TOM THUMB.
MISS LAVINIA WARREN--THE RIVALS--MISS WARREN'S ENGAGEMENT TO TOM
THUMB--THE WEDDING--GRAND RECEPTION--LETTER FROM A WOULD-BE
GUEST, AND DR. TAYLOR'S REPLY.
In 1862 Mr. Barnum heard of an extraordinary dwarf girl named
Lavinia Warren, who was living at Middleboro, Massachusetts, and
sent an invitation to her and her parents to visit him at
Bridgeport: they came, and Barnum found her to be a very
intelligent and refined young lady. He immediately made a
contract with her for several years, she agreeing to visit the
He purchased a splendid wardrobe for her, including many elegant
dresses, costly jewels and everything else that could add to her
naturally charming person. She was placed on exhibition at the
Museum, and from the first was a great success. Commodore Nutt
was exhibited with her, and although he was several years her
junior, he at once took a violent fancy to her. One day Mr.
Barnum gave Miss Warren a diamond and emerald ring, and as it did
not exactly fit her finger, he offered to get her another one
just like it, and told her to present this one to Commodore Nutt
in her own name. She did so, and the Commodore, who possessed a
full proportion of masculine vanity, construed the gift to be a
love token, and poor Lavinia was much distressed, for she
considered herself quite a woman, and the Commodore only "a nice
boy." Still she did not like to offend him, and continued to
treat him kindly, while not actually encouraging his attentions.
At the time Tom Thumb was not on exhibition at the Museum; he was
taking a vacation at his home in Bridgeport. One day he came to
New York quite unexpectedly, and naturally called on Mr. Barnum
at the Museum. Lavinia was holding one of her levees when he came
in, and he was presented to her.
After a short interview with her he went directly to Mr. Barnum's
private office and asked to see him alone. The door was closed
and the General sat down. His first question gave Mr. Barnum a
slight inkling of the object of the interview. The General wanted
to know all about the family of Lavinia Warren. Mr. Barnum gave
him all information, and the General said, earnestly, "That is
the most charming little lady I ever saw, and I believe she was
created to be my wife. Now, Mr. Barnum, you've always been a
friend of mine, and I want you to say a good word for me to her.
I've got plenty of money and I want to marry and settle down, and
I really feel as though I must marry that young lady."
Mr. Barnum laughed, and recalling his ancient joke, said:
"Lavinia is already engaged, General."
"To whom? Commodore Nutt?" asked Tom Thumb, jealously.
"No, to me."
"Oh!" laughed the General, much relieved. "Never mind; you may
exhibit her for a while, and then give up the engagement; but I
do hope you will favor my suit with her."
"Well, General," replied Barnum, "I will not oppose your suit,
but you must do your own courting. I will tell you, however, that
Commodore Nutt will be jealous of you, and more than that, Miss
Warren is nobody's fool, and you will have to proceed very
cautiously if you succeed in winning her."
The General promised to be very discreet. A change now came over
him. He had been very fond of his country home at Bridgeport,
where he spent all his leisure time with his horses and his
yacht, for he had a great passion for the water; but now he was
constantly running down to the city, and the horses and yacht
were sadly neglected. He had a married sister living in New York,
and his visits to her multiplied to such an extent that his
mother, who lived in Bridgeport, remarked that Charles had never
before shown so much brotherly affection, nor so much fondness
for city life.
His visits to the Museum were frequent, and it was very amusing
to watch his new relations with Commodore Nutt, who strutted
around like a bantam rooster whenever the General approached
Lavinia. One day the rivals got into a friendly scuffle in the
dressing-room, and the Commodore laid the General very neatly on
But while the Commodore was performing on the stage, and on
Sunday afternoons and evenings, the General found plenty of
opportunities to talk to Lavinia, and it was evident that his
suit was progressing.
Finally, Tom Thumb returned to Bridgeport, and privately begged
Mr. Barnum to bring Lavinia up the next Saturday evening, and
also to invite him to the house.
His immediate object was that his mother might see Miss Warren.
Mr. Barnum agreed to the proposition, and on the following
Friday, while Miss Warren and the Commodore were sitting in the
green-room, he said:
"Lavinia, would you like to go up to Bridgeport with me
to-morrow, and stay until Monday?"
"I thank you," she replied, "it will be a great relief to get
into the country for a couple of days."
"Mr. Barnum," said the Commodore, "I should like to go up to
"What for?" asked Barnum.
"I want to see my ponies; I have not seen them for several
months;" he replied.
Mr. Barnum remarked that he was afraid he could not spare the
Commodore from the Museum, but he said:
"Oh! I can perform at half past seven o'clock and then jump on
the evening train and go up by myself, reaching Bridgeport at
eleven, and return early Monday morning."
Fearing a clash of interests between the two little men, but
wishing to please the Commodore, Mr. Barnum consented, especially
as Miss Warren seemed to favor it.
The Commodore had made his feelings almost as plain to the
manager as had General Tom Thumb, but Lavinia Warren's secret was
her own. She kept up a wonderful self-possession under the
circumstances, for she must have known the reason of the
General's frequent visits to the Museum. Barnum was afraid that
she intended to reject Tom Thumb, and he told him as much; the
General was nervous but determined; hence his anxiety to have
Lavinia meet his mother, and also to see the extent of his
possessions in Bridgeport.
The General met his lady-love and Mr. Barnum at the station
Saturday morning, and drove them to the latter's house in his own
carriage--the coachman being tidily dressed, with a broad velvet
ribbon and a silver buckle on his hat, especially for the
After resting for a half hour at Lindencroft, he came back and
took Lavinia out to drive. They stopped at his mother's house,
where she saw the apartments which had been built for him and
filled with the most gorgeous furniture, all corresponding to his
diminutive size. Then he took her to East Bridgeport, and
undoubtedly took occasion to point out all of the houses which he
owned, for he depended much on his wealth making an impression on
He stayed to lunch at Lindencroft, and was much pleased when
Lavinia expressed her opinion that "Mr. Barnum or Tom Thumb owned
about all Bridgeport."
The General took his leave and returned to five o'clock dinner,
accompanied by his mother, who was delighted with Lavinia. The
General took Mr. Barnum aside and begged him for an invitation to
stay all night, "For," said he, "I intend to ask her to marry me
before the Commodore arrives."
After tea Lavinia and the General sat down to play backgammon. By
and by the rest went to their separate rooms, but Tom Thumb had
volunteered to sit up for the Commodore, and persuaded Miss
Warren to keep him company.
The General was beaten at backgammon, and after sitting a few
minutes, he evidently thought it time to put a clincher on his
financial abilities. So he drew from his pocket a policy of
insurance and handed it to Lavinia, asking her if she knew what
Examining it, she replied, "It is an insurance policy. I see you
keep your property insured."
"But the beauty of it is, it is not my property," replied the
General, "and yet I get the benefit of the insurance in case of
fire. You will see," he continued, unfolding the policy, "this is
the property of Mr. Williams, but here, you will observe, it
reads 'loss, if any, payable to Charles S. Stratton, as his
interest may appear.' The fact is, I loaned Mr. Williams three
thousand dollars, took a mortgage on his house, and made him
insure it for my benefit. In this way, you perceive, I get my
interest, and he has to pay the taxes."
"That is a very wise way, I should think," remarked Lavinia.
"That is the way I do all my business," replied the General,
complacently, as he returned the huge insurance policy to his
pocket. "You see," he continued, "I never lend any of my money
without taking bond and mortgage security, then I have no trouble
with taxes; my principal is secure, and I receive my interest
The explanation seemed satisfactory to Lavinia, and the General's
courage began to rise. Drawing his chair a little nearer to hers,
"So you are going to Europe, soon?"
"Yes," replied Lavinia, "Mr. Barnum intends to take me over in a
couple of months."
"You will find it very pleasant," remarked the General; "I have
been there twice, in fact I have spent six years abroad, and I
like the old countries very much."
"I hope I shall like the trip, and I expect I shall," responded
Lavinia; "for Mr. Barnum says I shall visit all the principal
cities, and he has no doubt I will be invited to appear before
the Queen of England, the Emperor and Empress of France, the King
of Prussia, the Emperor of Austria, and at the courts of any
other countries which we may visit. Oh! I shall like that, it
will be so new to me."
"Yes, it will be very interesting indeed. I have visited most of
the crowned heads," remarked the General, with an evident feeling
of self-congratulation. "But are you not afraid you will be
lonesome in a strange country?" asked the General.
"No, I think there is no danger of that, for friends will
accompany me," was the reply.
"I wish I was going over, for I know all about the different
countries, and could explain them all to you," remarked Tom
"That would be very nice," said Lavinia.
"Do you think so?" said the General, moving his chair still
closer to Lavinia's.
"Of course," replied Lavinia, coolly, "for I, being a stranger to
all the habits and customs of the people, as well as to the
country, it would be pleasant to have some person along who could
answer all my foolish questions."
"I should like it first rate, if Mr. Barnum would engage me,"
said the General.
"I thought you remarked the other day that you had money enough,
and was tired of traveling," said Lavinia, with a slightly
mischievous look from one corner of her eye.
"That depends upon my company while traveling," replied the
"You might not find my company very agreeable."
"I would be glad to risk it."
"Well, perhaps Mr. Barnum would engage you, if you asked him,"
"Would you really like to have me go?" asked the General, quietly
insinuating his arm around her waist, but hardly close enough to
"Of course I would," was the reply.
The little General's arm clasped the waist closer as he turned
his face nearer to hers, and said:
"Don't you think it would be pleasanter if we went as man and
And after a little hesitation she agreed that it would.
A moment later a carriage drove up to the door, the bell rang and
the Commodore entered.
"You here, General?" said the Commodore as he espied his rival.
"Yes," said Lavinia, "Mr. Barnum asked him to stay, and we were
waiting for you."
"Where is Mr. Barnum?" asked the Commodore.
"He has gone to bed," answered Tom Thumb, "but a supper has been
prepared for you."
"I am not hungry, thank you," said the Commodore petulantly,
"What room does Mr. Barnum sleep in?"
He was answered, and immediately went to Mr. Barnum whom he found
reading in bed.
"Mr. Barnum," he said sarcastically, "does Tom Thumb BOARD here?"
"No," said Mr. Barnum, "Tom Thumb does not BOARD here. I invited
him to stop over night, so don't be foolish, but go to bed."
"Oh, it's no affair of mine. I don't care anything about it. Only
I thought he'd taken up his residence here." And off he went to
bed, in a very bad humor.
Ten minutes after, Tom Thumb rushed into the room in the greatest
excitement, and cried joyfully: "We're engaged, Mr. Barnum! We're
"Is that possible?" said Barnum.
"Yes sir, indeed it is," responded the General, "but you must'nt
mention it. We've agreed to tell no one, so don't say a word. I'm
going to ask her Mother's consent Tuesday."
Barnum swore secrecy, and the General went off radiant with
The next day the family plied Lavinia with all sorts of
questions, but not a breath passed her lips that would give the
slightest indication as to what had transpired. She was most
amiable to the Commodore, and as the General concluded to go home
the next morning, the Commodore's happiness and good humor were
fully restored. The General made a call Sunday evening and
managed to have an interview with Lavinia. The next morning she
and the Commodore returned to New York, without Mr. Barnum.
The General called on Monday to tell Mr. Barnum that he had
concluded to send his letter to Lavinia's mother by his friend,
Mr. Wells, who had consented to go to Middleboro' the next day,
and to urge the General's suit if necessary.
The General went to New York on Wednesday to wait there for Mr.
Wells's return. That same day he and Lavinia came to Mr. Barnum,
and Tom Thumb said: "Mr. Barnum, I want somebody to tell the
Commodore that Lavinia and I are engaged, for I'm afraid there
will be a row when he hears of it."
"Why don't you do it yourself, General?" asked Barnum.
"Oh!" said the General, almost shuddering, "I would not dare do
it, he might knock me down."
"I will do it myself," said Lavinia. So the General retired and
the Commodore was sent for. When he had joined them, Mr. Barnum
began by saying, "Commodore, do you know what this little witch
has been doing?"
"No, I don't," he answered.
"Well, she has been cutting up the greatest prank you ever heard
of. She almost deserves to be shut up for daring to do it. Can't
you guess what it is?"
He mused a moment, and then said in a low tone, and looking full
at her, "Engaged?"
"Yes," said Barnum, "actually engaged to be married to General
Tom Thumb. Did you ever hear of such a thing?"
"Is it so, Lavinia?" he asked, earnestly.
"Yes," said Lavinia, "it is really so."
The Commodore turned pale, choked a little, and turning on his
heel, he said, in a broken voice:
"I hope you may be happy."
As he passed out the door a tear rolled down his cheek. "That's
pretty hard," said Barnum.
"Yes it is hard," said Lavinia, "and I am very sorry. Only I
couldn't help it. It was all the fault of your emerald and
Half an hour later the Commodore returned to the office and said:
"Mr. Barnum do you think it would be right for Miss Warren to
marry Charlie Stratton if her mother should object?"
"No, indeed," replied Mr. Barnum.
"Well, she says she will marry him anyway; that she gives her
mother the chance to consent, but if she objects, she will have
her way and marry him."
"On the contrary," said Barnum, "I will not permit it. She is
engaged to go to Europe with me, and I will not release her if
her mother does not consent to her marriage."
The Commodore's eyes glistened, and he said: "Between you and me,
Mr. Barnum, I don't believe she will consent."
But she did, although at first she had objected, thinking that it
might be merely a money-making scheme; but after she read Tom
Thumb's letter, and heard Mr. Barnum's assurance that he would
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