Part 1 out of 4
(Charles Farrar Browne) Part 1
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ARTEMUS WARD
(CHARLES FARRAR BROWNE)
PRELIMINARY NOTES BY JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN.
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH BY MELVILLE D. LANDON, "ELI PERKINS"
AN INTRODUCTION BY T.W. ROBERTSON.
A PREFATORY NOTE BY EDWARD P. HINGSTON.
PRELIMINARY NOTES BY JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN.
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH BY MELVILLE D. LANDON.
AN INTRODUCTION BY T.W. ROBERTSON.
A PREFATORY NOTE BY EDWARD P. HINGSTON.
ESSAYS, SKETCHES, AND LETTERS.
1.1. One of Mr. Ward's Business Letters.
1.2. On "Forts."
1.3. The Shakers.
1.4. High-handed Outrage at Utica.
1.5. Celebration at Baldinsville.
1.6. Among the Spirits.
1.7. On the Wing.
1.8. The Octoroon.
1.9. Experience as an Editor.
1.11. The Showman's Courtship.
1.12. The Crisis.
1.13. Wax Figures vs. Shakespeare.
1.14. Among the Free Lovers.
1.15. A Visit to Brigham Young.
1.16. Scandalous doings at Pittsburg.
1.17. The Census.
1.18. An Honest Living.
1.19. The Press.
1.20. Edwin Forest as Othello.
1.21. The Show Business and Popular Lectures.
1.22. Woman's Rights.
1.23. Would-be Sea Dogs.
1.24. The Prince of Wales.
1.26. Little Patti.
1.27. Ossawatomie Brown.
1.28. Joy in the House of Ward.
1.29. Boston. (A. Ward to his Wife.)
1.30. How Old Abe Received the News of his Nomination.
1.31. Interview with President Lincoln.
1.32. Interview with the Prince Napoleon.
1.35. A Hard Case.
1.36. Affairs around the Village Green.
1.37. About Editors.
1.40. A Little Difficulty in the Way.
1.41. Colored People's Church.
1.43. Mr. Blowhard.
1.44. Market Morning.
1.45. We See Two Witches.
1.46. From a Homely Man.
1.47. The Elephant.
1.48. How the Napoleon of Sellers was Sold.
1.49. On Autumn.
1.50. Paying for his Provender by Praying.
1.51. Hunting Trouble.
1.52. Dark Doings.
1.54. He had the Little Voucher In His Pocket.
1.55. The Gentlemanly Conductor.
1.56. Morality and Genius.
1.57. Rough Beginning of the Honeymoon.
1.58. A Colored man of the Name of Jeffries.
1.60. He found he Would.
1.61. "Burial in Richmond and Resurrection in Boston."
1.62. A Mayoralty Election.
1.63. Fishing Excursion.
2.1. The Show is Confiscated.
2.2. Thrilling Scenes in Dixie.
2.3. Fourth of July Oration.
2.4. The War Fever in Baldinsville.
2.5. A War Meeting.
2.6. The Draft in Baldinsville.
2.7. Surrender of Cornwallis.
2.8. Things in New York.
2.9. Touching Letter from a Gory Member.
2.10. In Canada.
2.11. The Noble Red Man.
2.12. Artemus Ward in Richmond.
2.13. Artemus Ward to the Prince of Wales.
STORIES AND ROMANCES.
3.1. Moses the Sassy; or, The Disguised Duke.
3.2. Marion: A Romance of the French School.
3.3. William Barker, the Young Patriot.
3.4. A Romance--The Conscript.
3.5. A Romance--Only a Mechanic.
3.6. Roberto the Rover; A Tale of Sea and Shore.
3.7. Red Hand: A Tale of Revenge.
3.8. Pyrotechny: A Romance after the French.
3.9. The Last of the Culkinses.
3.10. A Mormon Romance--Reginald Gloverson.
TO CALIFORNIA AND RETURN.
4.1. On the Steamer.
4.2. The Isthmus.
4.6. Mr. Pepper.
4.7. Horace Greely's Ride to Placerville.
4.8. To Reese River.
4.9. Great Salt Lake City.
4.10. The Mountain Fever.
4.11. "I am Here."
4.12. Brigham Young.
4.13. A Piece is Spoken.
4.14. The Ball.
4.15. Phelp's Almanac.
4.16. Hurrah for the Road.
4.17. Very Much Married.
4.18. The Revelation of Joseph Smith.
THE LONDON PUNCH LETTERS.
5.1. Arrival in London.
5.2. Personal Recollections.
5.3. The Green Lion and Oliver Cromwell.
5.4. At the Tomb of Shakespeare.
5.5. Introduction to the Club.
5.6. The Tower of London.
5.7. Science and Natural History.
5.8. A Visit to the British Museum.
ARTEMUS WARD'S PANORAMA.
6.1. Prefatory Note by Melville D. Landon.
6.2. The Egyptian Hall Lecture.
6.3. "The Times" Notice.
6.4. Programme of the Egyptian Hall Lecture.
6.5. Announcement and Programme of the Dodworth Hall Lecture.
7.1. The Cruise of the Polly Ann.
7.2. Artemus Ward's Autobiography.
7.3. The Serenade.
7.4. O'Bourcy's "Arrah-na-Pogue."
7.5. Artemus Ward among the Fenians.
7.6. Artemus Ward in Washington.
7.7. Scenes Outside the Fair Grounds.
7.8. The Wife.
7.9. A Juvenile Composition On the Elephant.
7.10. A Poem by the Same.
7.11. East Side Theatricals.
7.12. Soliloquy of a Low Thief.
7.13. The Negro Question.
7.14. Artemus Ward on Health.
7.15. A Fragment.
7.16. Brigham Young's Wives.
7.17. A. Ward's First Umbrella.
7.18. An Affecting Poem.
7.19. Mormon Bill of Fare.
7.20. "The Babes in the Wood."
7.21. Mr. Ward Attends a Graffick (Soiree.)
7.22. A. Ward Among the Mormons.--Reported by Himself--or Somebody Else.
* * *
PUBLISHERS' PREFACE TO THE NEW (1898) EDITION.
The present edition is of a work which has been for more than
thirty years prominently before the public, and which may justly
be said to have maintained a standard character. It is issued
because of a demand for a BETTER EDITION than has ever been
In order to supply this acknowledged want, the publishers have
enlarged and perfected this edition by adding some matter not
heretofore published in book form.
More than one hundred thousand copies of the work have been
printed. The plates had become so worn as to render it
unreadable, yet the sale kept on. In preparing this new edition,
many of the author's fragmentary pieces, not contained in the old
edition, have been added. The earliest of the author's writings,
published in periodicals in 1862, are included, together with
many additional illustrations, which now, for the first time,
make the work complete.
It is universally conceded that no country in the world has ever
produced a genius like Artemus Ward. Writers of ACKNOWLEDGED
GENIUS are never very numerous. He attained a great and deserved
popularity, which will be lasting.
It has been observed that the wit of one generation is rarely
appreciated by the next, but this is not true of Artemus Ward.
There is a constant demand for his writings, for the reason that
his jokes require no appendix for their elucidation. No one who
speaks the English language can fail to appreciate his wonderful
humor. It will always be funny. There is a fascination about it
which can neither be questioned nor resisted. His particular
niche in the temple of Fame will not be claimed by another. His
intellect was sharp and electric. He saw the humor of anything
at a glance, and his manner of relating these laughter-provoking
absurdities is original and "fetching."
PRELIMINARY NOTES BY JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN.
Piccadilly, W. Jan. 30, 1865.
There is a story of two "smart" Yankees, one named Hosea and the
other Hezekiah, who met in an oyster shop in Boston. Said Hosea,
"As to opening oysters, why nothing's easier if you only know
how." "And how's how?" asked Hezekiah. "Scotch snuff," replied
Hosea, very gravely--"Scotch snuff. Bring a little of it ever so
near their noses, and they'll sneeze their lids off." "I know a
man who knows a better plan," observed Hezekiah. "He spreads the
bivalves in a circle, seats himself in the centre, reads a
chapter of Artemus Ward to them, and goes on until they get
interested. One by one they gape with astonishment at A. Ward's
whoppers, and as they gape my friend whips 'em out, peppers away,
and swallows 'em."
Excellent as all that Artemus Ward writes really is, and
exuberantly overflowing with humour as are nearly all his
articles, it is too bad to accuse him of telling "whoppers." On
the contrary, the old Horatian question of "Who shall forbid me
to speak truth in laughter?" seems ever present to his mind. His
latest production is the admirable paper "Artemus Ward among the
Fenians" which appears in Part 7.
If Artemus has on any occasion really told "whoppers," it has
been in his announcements of being about to visit England. From
time to time he has stated his intention of visiting this
country, and from time to time has he disappointed his English
He was coming to England after his trip to California, when,
laden with gold, he could think of no better place to spend it
He was on his way to England when he and his companion, Mr.
Hingston, encountered the Pi-ute Indians, and narrowly escaped
He was leaving for England with "Betsy Jane" and the "snaiks"
before the American war was ended.
He had unscrewed the head of each of his "wax figgers," and sent
each on board in a carpet-bag, labelled "For England," just as Mr
Lincoln was assassinated.
He was hastening to England when the news came a few weeks ago
that he had been blown up in an oil well!
He has been on his way to England in every newspaper of the
American Union for the last two years.
Here is the latest announcement:
"Artemus Ward, in a private letter, states that Doctor Kumming,
the famous London seer and profit, having foretold that the end
of the world will happen on his own birthday in January 1867, he,
Artemus, will not visit England until the latter end of 1866,
when the people there will be selling off, and dollars will be
plentiful. Mr. Ward says that he shall leave England in the last
steamer, in time to see the American eagle spread his wings, and
with the stars and stripes in his beek and tallents, sore away to
his knativ empyrehum.--" American Paper.
But even this is likely to be a "whopper," for a more reliable
private letter from Artemus declares his fixed purpose to leave
for England in the steamship City of Boston early in June; and
the probabilities are that he will be stepping on English shores
just about the time that these pages go to press.
Lest anything should happen to him, and England be for ever
deprived of seeing him, the most recent production of his pen,
together with two or three of his best things, are here embalmed
for preservation, on the principle adopted by the affectionate
widow of the bear-trainer of Perpignan. "I have nothing left,"
said the woman; "I am absolutely without a roof to shelter me and
the poor animal." "Animal!" exclaimed the prefect; "you don't
mean to say that you keep the bear that devoured your husband?"
"Alas!" she replied, "it is all that is left to me of the poor
If any other excuse be needed for thus presenting the British
public with A. Ward's "last," in addition to the pertinency of
the article and its real merit, that excuse may be found in the
fact that it is thoroughly new to readers on this side of the
The general public will undoubtedly receive "Artemus Ward among
the Fenians" with approving laughter. Should it fall into the
hands of a philo-Fenian the effect may be different. To him it
would probably have the wrong action of the Yankee bone-picking
"I've got a new machine," said a Yankee pedlar, "for picking
bones out of fish. Now, I tell you, it's a leetle bit the
darndest thing you ever did see. All you have to do is to set it
on a table and turn a crank, and the fish flies right down your
throat and the bones right under the grate. Well, there was a
country greenhorn got hold of it the other day, and he turned the
crank the wrong way; and, I tell you, the way the bones flew down
his throat was awful. Why, it stuck that fellow so full of
bones, that he could not get his shirt off for a whole week!"
In addition to the paper on the Fenians, two other articles by
Artemus Ward are reprinted in the present work. One relates to
the city of Washington, and the other to the author's imaginary
town of Baldinsville. Both are highly characteristic of the
writer and of his quaint spellings--a heterography not more odd
than that of the postmaster of Shawnee County, Missouri, who,
returning his account to the General Office, wrote, "I hearby
sertify that the four going A-Counte is as nere Rite as I now how
to make It, if there is any mistake it is not Dun a purpers."
Artemus Ward has created a new model for funny writers; and the
fact is noticeable that, in various parts of this country as well
as in his own, he has numerous puny imitators, who suppose that
by simply adopting his comic spelling they can write quite as
well as he can. Perhaps it would be as well if they remembered
the joke of poor Thomas Hood, who said that he could write as
well as Shakespere if he had the mind to, but the trouble was--he
had not got the mind.
* * *
A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH BY MELVILLE D. LANDON.
Charles Farrar Browne, better known to the world as "Artemus
Ward," was born at Waterford, Oxford County, Maine, on the
twenty-sixth of April, 1834, and died of consumption at
Southampton, England, on Wednesday, the sixth of March, 1867.
His father, Levi Browne, was a land surveyor, and Justice of the
Peace. His mother, Caroline E. Brown, is still living, and is a
descendant from Puritan stock.
Mr. Browne's business manager, Mr. Hingston, once asked him about
his Puritanic origin, when he replied: "I think we came from
Jerusalem, for my father's name was Levi and we had a Moses and a
Nathan in the family, but my poor brother's name was Cyrus; so,
perhaps, that makes us Persians."
Charles was partially educated at the Waterford school, when
family circumstances induced his parents to apprentice him to
learn the rudiments of printing in the office of the "Skowhegan
Clarion," published some miles to the north of his native
village. Here he passed through the dreadful ordeal to which a
printer's "devil" is generally subjected. He always kept his
temper; and his eccentric boy jokes are even now told by the
residents of Skowhegan.
In the spring, after his fifteenth birthday, Charles Browne bade
farewell to the "Skowhegan Clarion;" and we next hear of him in
the office of the "Carpet-Bag," edited by B.P. Shillaber ("Mrs.
Partington"). Lean, lank, but strangely appreciative, young
Browne used to "set up" articles from the pens of Charles G.
Halpine ("Miles O'Reilly") and John G. Saxe, the poet. Here he
wrote his first contribution in a disguised hand, slyly put it
into the editorial box, and the next day disguised his pleasure
while setting it up himself. The article was a description of a
Fourth of July celebration in Skowhegan. The spectacle of the
day was a representation of the battle of Yorktown, with G.
Washington and General Horace Cornwallis in character. The
article pleased Mr. Shillaber, and Mr. Browne, afterwards
speaking of it, said: "I went to the theatre that evening, had a
good time of it, and thought I was the greatest man in Boston."
While engaged on the "Carpet-Bag," the subject of our sketch
closely studied the theatre and courted the society of actors and
actresses. It was in this way that he gained that correct and
valuable knowledge of the texts and characters of the drama,
which enabled him in after years to burlesque them so
successfully. The humorous writings of Seba Smith were his
models, and the oddities of "John Phoenix" were his especial
Being of a roving temper Charles Browne soon left Boston, and,
after traveling as a journeyman printer over much of New York and
Massachusetts, he turned up in the town of Tiffin, Seneca County,
Ohio, where he became reporter and compositor at four dollars per
week. After making many friends among the good citizens of
Tiffin, by whom he is remembered as a patron of side shows and
traveling circuses, our hero suddenly set out for Toledo, on the
lake, where he immediately made a reputation as a writer of
sarcastic paragraphs in the columns of the Toledo "Commercial."
He waged a vigorous newspaper war with the reporters of the
Toledo "Blade," but while the "Blade" indulged in violent
vituperation, "Artemus" was good-natured and full of humor. His
column soon gained a local fame and everybody read it. His fame
even traveled away to Cleveland, where, in 1858, when Mr. Browne
was twenty-four years of age, Mr. J.W. Gray of the Cleveland
"Plaindealer" secured him as local reporter, at a salary of
twelve-dollars per week. Here his reputation first began to
assume a national character and it was here that they called him
a "fool" when he mentioned the idea of taking the field as a
lecturer. Speaking of this circumstance while traveling down the
Mississippi with the writer, in 1865, Mr. Browne musingly
repeated this colloquy:
WISE MAN:--"Ah! you poor foolish little girl--here is a dollar
FOOLISH LITTLE GIRL:--"Thank you, sir; but I have a sister at
home as foolish as I am; can't you give me a dollar for her?"
Charles Browne was not successful as a NEWS reporter, lacking
enterprise and energy, but his success lay in writing up in a
burlesque manner well-known public affairs like prize-fights,
races, spiritual meetings, and political gatherings. His
department became wonderfully humorous, and was always a favorite
with readers, whether there was any news in it or not. Sometimes
he would have a whole column of letters from young ladies in
reply to a fancied matrimonial advertisement, and then he would
have a column of answers to general correspondents like this:--
VERITAS:--Many make the same error. Mr. Key, who wrote the "Star
Spangled Banner," is not the author of Hamlet, a tragedy. He
wrote the banner business, and assisted in "The Female Pirate,"
BUT DID NOT WRITE HAMLET. Hamlet was written by a talented but
unscrupulous man named Macbeth, afterwards tried and executed for
YOUNG CLERGYMAN:--Two pints of rum, two quarts of hot water, tea-
cup of sugar, and a lemon; grate in nutmeg, stir thoroughly and
drink while hot.
It was during his engagement on the "Plaindealer" that he wrote,
dating from Indiana, his first communication,--the first
published letter following this sketch, signed "Artemus Ward" a
sobriquet purely incidental, but borne with the "u" changed to an
"a" by an American revolutionary general. It was here that Mr.
Browne first became, IN WORDS, the possessor of a moral show
"consisting of three moral bares, the a kangaroo (a amoozing
little rascal; 'twould make you larf yourself to death to see the
little kuss jump and squeal), wax figures of G. Washington, &c.
&c." Hundreds of newspapers copied this letter, and Charles
Browne awoke one morning to find himself famous.
In the "Plaindealer" office, his companion, George Hoyt, writes:
"His desk was a rickety table which had been whittled and gashed
until it looked as if it had been the victim of lightning. His
chair was a fit companion thereto,--a wabbling, unsteady affair,
sometimes with four and sometimes with three legs. But Browne
saw neither the table, nor the chair, nor any person who might be
near, nothing, in fact, but the funny pictures which were
tumbling out of his brain. When writing, his gaunt form looked
ridiculous enough. One leg hung over the arm of his chair like a
great hook, while he would write away, sometimes laughing to
himself, and then slapping the table in the excess of his mirth."
While in the office of the "Plaindealer," Mr. Browne first
conceived the idea of becoming a lecturer. In attending the
various minstrel shows and circuses which came to the city, he
would frequently hear repeated some story of his own which the
audience would receive with hilarity. His best witticisms came
back to him from the lips of another who made a living by quoting
a stolen jest. Then the thought came to him to enter the lecture
field himself, and become the utterer of his own witticisms--the
mouthpiece of his own jests.
On the 10th of November, 1860, Charles Browne, whose fame,
traveling in his letters from Boston to San Francisco, had now
become national, grasped the hands of his hundreds of New York
admirers. Cleveland had throned him the monarch of mirth, and a
thousand hearts paid him tributes of adulation as he closed his
connection with the Cleveland Press.
Arriving in the Empire City, Mr. Browne soon opened an engagement
with "Vanity Fair," a humorous paper after the manner of London
"Punch," and ere long he succeeded Mr. Charles G. Leland as
editor. Mr. Charles Dawson Shanly says: "After Artemus Ward
became sole editor, a position which he held for a brief period,
many of his best contributions were given to the public; and,
whatever there was of merit in the columns of "Vanity Fair" from
the time he assumed the editorial charge, emanated from his pen."
Mr. Browne himself wrote to a friend: "Comic copy is what they
wanted for "Vanity Fair." I wrote some and it killed it. The
poor paper got to be a conundrum, and so I gave it up."
The idea of entering the field as a lecturer now seized Mr.
Browne stronger than ever. Tired of the pen, he resolved on
trying the platform. His Bohemian friends agreed that his fame
and fortune would be made before intelligent audiences. He
resolved to try it. What should be the subject of my lecture?
How shall I treat the subject? These questions caused Mr. Browne
grave speculations. Among other schemes, he thought of a string
of jests combined with a stream of satire, the whole being
unconnected--a burlesque upon a lecture. The subject,--that was
a hard question. First he thought of calling it "My Seven
Grandmothers," but he finally adopted the name of "Babes in the
Woods," and with this subject Charles Browne was introduced to a
metropolitan audience, on the evening of December 23d, 1861. The
place was Clinton Hall, which stood on the site of the old Astor
Place Opera House, where years ago occurred the Macready riot,
and where now is the Mercantile Library. Previous to this
introduction, Mr. Frank Wood accompanied him to the suburban town
of Norwich, Connecticut, where he first delivered his lecture,
and watched the result. The audience was delighted, and Mr.
Browne received an ovation. Previous to his Clinton Hall
appearance the city was flooded with funny placards reading--
SPEAK A PIECE.
Owing to a great storm, only a small audience braved the
elements, and the Clinton Hall lecture was not a financial
success. It consisted of a wandering batch of comicalities,
touching upon everything except "The Babes." Indeed it was
better described by the lecturer in London, when he said, "One of
the features of my entertainment is, that it contains so many
things that don't have anything to do with it."
In the middle of his lecture, the speaker would hesitate, stop,
and say: "Owing to a slight indisposition we will now have an
intermission of fifteen minutes." The audience looked in utter
dismay at the idea of staring at vacancy for a quarter of an
hour, when, rubbing his hands, the lecturer would continue:
"but, ah--during the intermission I will go on with my lecture!"
Mr. Browne's first volume, entitled "Artemus Ward; His Book," was
published in New York, May 17th, 1862. The volume was everywhere
hailed with enthusiasm, and over forty thousand copies were sold.
Great success also attended the sale of his three other volumes
published in '65, '67, and '69.
Mr. Browne's next lecture was entitled "Sixty Minutes in Africa,"
and was delivered in Musical Fund Hall, Philadelphia. Behind him
hung a large map of Africa, "which region," said Artemus,
"abounds in various natural productions, such as reptiles and
flowers. It produces the red rose, the white rose, and the neg-
roes. In the middle of the continent is what is called a
'howling wilderness,' but, for my part, I have never heard it
howl, nor met with any one who has."
After Mr. Browne had created immense enthusiasm for his lectures
and books in the Eastern States, which filled his pockets with a
handsome exchequer, he started, October 3d, 1863, for California,
a faithful account of which trip is given by himself in this
book. Previous to starting, he received a telegram from Thomas
Maguire, of the San Francisco Opera House, inquiring "what he
would TAKE FOR FORTY NIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA." Mr. Brown
immediately telegraphed back,--
"Brandy and water.
And, though Maguire was sorely puzzled at the contents of the
dispatch, the Press got hold of it, and it went through
California as a capital joke.
Mr. Browne first lectured in San Francisco on "The Babes in the
Woods," November 13th, 1863, at Pratt's Hall. T. Starr King took
a deep interest in him, occupying the rostrum, and his general
reception in San Francisco was warm.
Returning overland, through Salt Lake to the States, in the fall
of 1864, Mr. Browne lectured again in New York, this time on the
"Mormons," to immense audiences, and in the spring of 1865 he
commenced his tour through the country, everywhere drawing
enthusiastic audiences both North and South.
It was while on this tour that the writer of this sketch again
spent some time with him. We met at Memphis and traveled down
the Mississippi together. At Lake Providence the "Indiana"
rounded up to our landing, and Mr. Browne accompanied the writer
to his plantation, where he spent several days, mingling in
seeming infinite delight with the negroes. For them he showed
great fondness, and they used to stand around him in crowds
listening to his seemingly serious advice. We could not prevail
upon him to hunt or to join in any of the equestrian amusements
with the neighboring planters, but a quiet fascination drew him
to the negroes. Strolling through the "quarters," his grave
words, too deep with humor for darkey comprehension, gained
their entire confidence. One day he called up Uncle Jeff., an
Uncle-Tom-like patriarch, and commenced in his usual vein: "Now,
Uncle Jefferson," he said, "why do you thus pursue the habits of
industry? This course of life is wrong--all wrong--all a base
habit, Uncle Jefferson. Now try to break it off. Look at me,--
look at Mr. Landon, the chivalric young Southern plantist FROM
NEW YORK, he toils not, neither does he spin; he pursues a career
of contented idleness. If you only thought so, Jefferson, you
could live for months WITHOUT PERFORMING ANY KIND OF LABOR, and
at the expiration of that time FEEL FRESH AND VIGOROUS ENOUGH TO
COMMENCE IT AGAIN. Idleness refreshes the physical organization
--IT IS A SWEET BOON! Strike at the roots of the destroying habit
to-day, Jefferson. It tires you out; resolve to be idle; no one
should labor; HE SHOULD HIRE OTHERS TO DO IT FOR HIM;" and then
he would fix his mournful eyes on Jeff. and hand him a dollar,
while the eyes of the wonder-struck darkey would gaze in mute
admiration upon the good and wise originator of the only theory
which the darkey mind could appreciate. As Jeff. went away to
tell the wonderful story to his companions, and backed it with
the dollar as material proof, Artemus would cover his eyes, and
bend forward on his elbows in a chuckling laugh.
"Among the Mormons" was delivered through the States, everywhere
drawing immense crowds. His manner of delivering his discourse
was grotesque and comical beyond description. His quaint and sad
style contributed more than anything else to render his
entertainment exquisitely funny. The programme was exceedingly
droll, and the tickets of admission presented the most ludicrous
of ideas. The writer presents a fac-simile of an admission
ticket which was presented to him in Natchez by Mr. Browne:--
ADMIT THE BEARER
AND ONE WIFE.
In the spring of 1866, Charles Browne first timidly thought of
going to Europe. Turning to Mr. Hingston one day he asked:
"What sort of a man is Albert Smith? Do you think the Mormons
would be as good a subject to the Londoners as Mont Blanc was?"
Then he said: "I should like to go to London and give my lecture
in the same place. Can't it be done?"
Mr. Browne sailed for England soon after, taking with him his
Panorama. The success that awaited him could scarcely have been
anticipated by his most intimate friends. Scholars, wits, poets,
and novelists came to him with extended hands, and his stay in
London was one ovation to the genius of American wit. Charles
Reade, the novelist, was his warm friend and enthusiastic
admirer; and Mr. Andrew Haliday introduced him to the "Literary
Club," where he became a great favorite. Mark Lemon came to him
and asked him to become a contributor to "Punch," which he did.
His "Punch" letters were more remarked in literary circles than
any other current matter. There was hardly a club-meeting or a
dinner at which they were not discussed. "There was something so
grotesque in the idea," said a correspondent, "of this ruthless
Yankee poking among the revered antiquities of Britain, that the
beef-eating British themselves could not restrain their laughter."
The story of his Uncle William who "followed commercial pursuits,
glorious commerce--and sold soap," and his letters on the Tower
and "Chowser," were palpable hits, and it was admitted that
"Punch" had contained nothing better since the days of
"Yellowplush." This opinion was shared by the "Times," the
literary reviews, and the gayest leaders of society. The
publishers of "Punch" posted up his name in large letters over
their shop in Fleet Street, and Artemus delighted to point it out
to his friends. About this time Mr. Browne wrote to his friend
Jack Rider, of Cleveland:
"This is the proudest moment of my life. To have been as well
appreciated here as at home; to have written for the oldest comic
Journal in the English language, received mention with Hood, with
Jerrold and Hook, and to have my picture and my pseudonym as
common in London as in New York, is enough for
England was thoroughly aroused to the merits of Artemus Ward,
before he commenced his lectures at Egyptian Hall, and when, in
November, he finally appeared, immense crowds were compelled to
turn away. At every lecture his fame increased, and when
sickness brought his brilliant success to an end, a nation
mourned his retirement.
On the evening of Friday, the seventh week of his engagement at
Egyptian Hall, Artemus became seriously ill, an apology was made
to a disappointed audience, and from that time the light of one
of the greatest wits of the centuries commenced fading into
darkness. The Press mourned his retirement, and a funeral pall
fell over London. The laughing, applauding crowds were soon to
see his consumptive form moving towards its narrow resting-place
in the cemetery at Kensal Green.
By medical advice Charles Browne went for a short time to the
Island of Jersey--but the breezes of Jersey were powerless. He
wrote to London to his nearest and dearest friends--the members
of a literary club of which he was a member--to complain that his
"loneliness weighed on him." He was brought back, but could not
sustain the journey farther than Southampton. There the members
of the club traveled from London to see him--two at a time--that
he might be less lonely.
His remains were followed to the grave from the rooms of his
friend Arthur Sketchley, by a large number of friends and
admirers, the literati and press of London paying the last
tribute of respect to their dead brother. The funeral services
were conducted by the Rev. M.D. Conway, formerly of Cincinnati,
and the coffin was temporarily placed in a vault, from which it
was removed by his American friends, and his body now sleeps by
the side of his father, Levi Browne, in the quiet cemetery at
Waterford, Maine. Upon the coffin is the simple inscription:--
"CHARLES F. BROWNE,
AGED 32 YEARS,
Better Known to the World as 'Artemus Ward.'"
His English executors were T.W. Robertson, the playwright, and
his friend and companion, E.P. Hingston. His literary executors
were Horace Greeley and Richard H. Stoddard. In his will, he
bequeathed among other things a large sum of money to his little
valet, a bright little fellow; though subsequent denouments
revealed the fact that he left only a six-thousand-dollar house
in Yonkers. There is still some mystery about his finances,
which may one day be revealed. It is known that he withdrew
10,000 dollars from the Pacific Bank to deposit it with a friend
before going to England; besides this, his London "Punch" letters
paid a handsome profit. Among his personal friends were George
Hoyt, the late Daniel Setchell, Charles W. Coe, and Mr. Mullen,
the artist, all of whom he used to style "my friends all the year
Personally Charles Farrar Browne was one of the kindest and most
affectionate of men, and history does not name a man who was so
universally beloved by all who knew him. It was remarked, and
truly, that the death of no literary character since Washington
Irving caused such general and widespread regret.
In stature he was tall and slender. His nose was prominent,--
outlined like that of Sir Charles Napier, or Mr. Seward; his eyes
brilliant, small, and close together; his mouth large, teeth
white and pearly; fingers long and slender; hair soft, straight,
and blonde; complexion florid; mustache large, and his voice soft
and clear. In bearing, he moved like a natural-born gentleman.
In his lectures he never smiled--not even while he was giving
utterance to the most delicious absurdities; but all the while
the jokes fell from his lips as if he was unconscious of their
meaning. While writing his lectures, he would laugh and chuckle
to himself continually.
There was one peculiarity about Charles Browne--HE NEVER MADE AN
ENEMY. Other wits in other times have been famous, but a
satirical thrust now and then has killed a friend. Diogenes was
the wit of Greece, but when, after holding up an old dried fish
to draw away the eyes of Anaximenes' audience, he exclaimed "See
how an old fish is more interesting than Anaximenes," he said a
funny thing, but he stabbed a friend. When Charles Lamb, in
answer to the doting mother's question as to how he liked babies,
replied, "b-b-boiled, madam, BOILED!" that mother loved him no
more: and when John Randolph said "THANK YOU!" to his
constituent who kindly remarked that he had the pleasure of
PASSING his house, it was wit at the expense of friendship. The
whole English school of wits--with Douglas Jerrold, Hood,
Sheridan, and Sidney Smith, indulged in repartee. They were
PARASITIC wits. And so with the Irish, except that an Irishman
is generally so ridiculously absurd in his replies as to only
excite ridicule. "Artemus Ward" made you laugh and love him too.
The wit of "Artemus Ward" and "Josh Billings" is distinctively
American. Lord Kames, in his "Elements of Criticism," makes no
mention of this species of wit, a lack which the future
rhetorician should look to. We look in vain for it in the
English language of past ages, and in other languages of modern
time. It is the genus American. When Artemus says in that
serious manner, looking admiringly at his atrocious pictures,--"I
love pictures--and I have many of them--beautiful photographs--of
myself;" you smile; and when he continues, "These pictures were
painted by the Old Masters; they painted these pictures and then
they--they expired;" you hardly know what it is that makes you
laugh outright; and when Josh Billings says in his Proverbs,
wiser than Solomon's "You'd better not know so much, than know so
many things that ain't so;"--the same vein is struck, but the
text-books fail to explain scientifically the cause of our mirth.
The wit of Charles Browne is of the most exalted kind. It is
only scholars and those thoroughly acquainted with the SUBTILTY
of our language who fully appreciate it. His wit is generally
about historical personages like Cromwell, Garrick, or
Shakspeare, or a burlesque on different styles of writing, like
his French novel, when hifalutin phrases of tragedy come from the
clodhopper who--"sells soap and thrice--refuses a ducal coronet."
Mr. Browne mingled the eccentric even in his business letters.
Once he wrote to his Publisher, Mr. G.W. Carleton, who had made
some alterations in his MSS.: "The next book I write I'm going
to get YOU to write." Again he wrote in 1863:
"Dear Carl:--You and I will get out a book next spring, which
will knock spots out of all comic books in ancient or modern
history. And the fact that you are going to take hold of it
convinces me that you have one of the most MASSIVE intellects of
this or any other epoch.
"Yours, my pretty gazelle,
When Charles F. Browne died, he did not belong to America, for,
as with Irving and Dickens, the English language claimed him.
Greece alone did not suffer when the current of Diogenes' wit
flowed on to death. Spain alone did not mourn when Cervantes,
dying, left Don Quixote, the "knight of la Mancha." When Charles
Lamb ceased to tune the great heart of humanity to joy and
gladness, his funeral was in every English and American household;
and when Charles Browne took up his silent resting-place in the
sombre shades of Kensal Green, JESTING CEASED, and one great
Like a muffled drum went beating
Funeral marches to his grave.
MELVILLE D. LANDON.
INTRODUCTION BY T.W. ROBERTSON.
Few tasks are more difficult or delicate than to write on the
subject of the works or character of a departed friend. The pen
falters as the familiar face looks out of the paper. The mind is
diverted from the thought of death as the memory recalls some happy
epigram. It seems so strange that the hand that traced the jokes
should be cold, that the tongue that trolled out the good things
should be silent--that the jokes and the good things should remain,
and the man who made them should be gone for ever.
The works of Charles Farrar Browne--who was known to the world as
"Artemus Ward"--have run through so many editions, have met with
such universal popularity, and have been so widely criticised, that
it is needless to mention them here. So many biographies have been
written of the gentleman who wrote in the character of the 'cute
Yankee Showman, that it is unnecessary that I should touch upon his
life, belongings, or adventures. Of "Artemus Ward" I know just as
much as the rest of the world. I prefer, therefore, to speak of
Charles Farrar Browne, as I knew him, and, in doing so, I can
promise those friends who also knew him and esteemed him, that as I
consider no "public" man so public, that some portion of his work,
pleasures, occupations, and habits may not be considered private, I
shall only mention how kind and noble-minded was the man of whom I
write, without dragging forward special and particular acts in proof
of my words, as if the goodness of his mind and character needed the
certificate of facts.
I first saw Charles Browne at a literary club; he had only been a
few hours in London, and he seemed highly pleased and excited at
finding himself in the old city to which his thoughts had so often
wandered. Browne was an intensely sympathetic man. His brain and
feelings were as a "lens," and he received impressions immediately.
No man could see him without liking him at once. His manner was
straightforward and genial, and had in it the dignity of a
gentleman, tempered, as it were, by the fun of the humorist. When
you heard him talk you wanted to make much of him, not because he
was "Artemus Ward," but because he was himself, for no one less
resembled "Artemus Ward" than his author and creator, Charles Farrar
Browne. But a few weeks ago it was remarked to me that authors were
a disappointing race to know, and I agreed with the remark, and I
remember a lady once said to me that the personal appearance of
poets seldom "came up" to their works. To this I replied that,
after all, poets were but men, and that it was as unreasonable to
expect that the late Sir Walter Scott could at all resemble a
Gathering of the Clans as that the late Lord Macaulay should appear
anything like the Committal of the Seven Bishops to the Tower. I
told the lady that she was unfair to eminent men if she hoped that
celebrated engineers would look like tubular bridges, or that Sir
Edwin Landseer would remind her of a "Midsummer Night's Dream." I
mention this because, of all men in the world, my friend Charles
Browne was the least like a showman of any man I ever encountered.
I can remember the odd half disappointed look of some of the
visitors to the Egyptian Hall when "Artemus" stepped upon the
platform. At first they thought that he was a gentleman who
appeared to apologise for the absence of the showman. They had
pictured to themselves a coarse old man, with a damp eye and a
puckered mouth, one eyebrow elevated an inch above the other to
express shrewdness and knowledge of the world--a man clad in
velveteen and braid, with a heavy watch-chain, large rings, and
horny hands, the touter to a waxwork show, with a hoarse voice, and
over familiar manner. The slim gentleman in evening dress, polished
manners, and gentle voice, with a tone of good breeding that hovered
between deference and jocosity; the owner of those thin--those much
too thin--white hands could not be the man who spelt joke with a
"g." Folks who came to laugh, began to fear that they should remain
to be instructed, until the gentlemanly disappointer began to speak,
then they recovered their real "Artemus," Betsy Jane, wax-figgers,
and all. Will patriotic Americans forgive me if I say that Charles
Browne loved England dearly! He had been in London but a few days
when he paid a visit to the Tower. He knew English history better
than most Englishmen; and the Tower of London was to him the history
of England embalmed in stone and mortar. No man had more reverence
in his nature; and at the Tower he saw that what he had read was
real. There were the beef-eaters; there had been Queen Elizabeth
and Sir Walter Raleigh, and Lady Jane Grey, and Shakspere's murdered
princes, and their brave, cruel uncle. There was the block and the
axe, and the armour and the jewels. "St George for Merrie England!"
had been shouted in the Holy Land, and men of the same blood as
himself had been led against the infidel by men of the same brain
and muscle as George Washington. Robin Hood was a reality, and not
a schoolboy's myth like Ali Baba and Valentine and Orson.
There were two sets of feelings in Charles Browne at the Tower. He
could appreciate the sublimity of history, but, as the "Show" part
of the exhibition was described to him, the humorist, the wit, and
the iconoclast from the other side the Atlantic must have smiled at
the "descriptions." The "Tower" was a "show," like his own--Artemus
Ward's. A price was paid for admission, and the "figgers" were
"orated." Real jewellery is very like sham jewellery after all, and
the "Artemus" vein in Charles Browne's mental constitution--the vein
of humour, whose source was a strong contempt of all things false,
mean, shabby, pretentious, and only external--of bunkum and
Barnumisation--must have seen a gigantic speculation realising
shiploads of dollars if the Tower could have been taken over to the
States, and exhibited from town to town--the Stars and Stripes flying
over it--with a four-horse lecture to describe the barbarity of the
ancient British Barons and the cuss of chivalry.
Artemus Ward's Lecture on the Mormons at the Egyptian Hall,
Piccadilly, was a great success. His humour was so entirely fresh,
new, and unconventional, it took his hearers by surprise, and
charmed them. His failing health compelled him to abandon the
lecture after about eight or ten weeks. Indeed, during that brief
period he was once or twice compelled to dismiss his audience. I
have myself seen him sink into a chair and nearly faint after the
exertion of dressing. He exhibited the greatest anxiety to be at
his post at the appointed time, and scrupulously exerted himself to
the utmost to entertain his auditors. It was not because he was
sick that the public was to be disappointed, or that their enjoyment
was to be diminished. During the last few weeks of his
lecture-giving he steadily abstained from accepting any of the
numerous invitations he received. Had he lived through the
following London fashionable season, there is little doubt that the
room at the Egyptian Hall would have been thronged nightly. Our
aristocracy have a fine delicate sense of humour, and the success,
artistic and pecuniary, of "Artemus Ward" would have rivalled that
of the famous "Lord Dundreary." There are many stupid people who
did not understand the "fun" of Artemus Ward's books. In their
vernacular "they didn't see it." There were many stupid people who
did not understand the fun of Artemus Ward's lecture on the Mormons.
They could not see it. Highly respectable people--the pride of
their parish, when they heard of a lecture "upon the Mormons"-
-expected to see a solemn person, full of old saws and new
statistics, who would denounce the sin of polygamy, and bray against
polygamists with four-and-twenty boiling-water Baptist power of
denunciation. These uncomfortable Christians do not like humour.
They dread it as a certain personage is said to dread holy water,
and for the same reason that thieves fear policemen--it finds them
out. When these good idiots heard Artemus offer, if they did not
like the lecture in Piccadilly, to give them free tickets for the
same lecture in California, when he next visited that country, they
turned to each other indignantly, and said "What use are tickets for
California to us? We are not going to California. No! we are too
good, too respectable, to go so far from home. The man is a fool!"
One of these ornaments of the vestry complained to the doorkeepers,
and denounced the lecture as an imposition; "and," said the wealthy
parishioner, "as for the panorama, it's the worst painted thing I
ever saw in all my life!"
But the entertainment, original, humorous, and racy though it was,
was drawing to a close! In the fight between youth and death, death
was to conquer. By medical advice Charles Browne went for a short
time to Jersey--but the breezes of Jersey were powerless. He wrote
to London to his nearest and dearest friends--the members of a
literary club of which he was a member--to complain that his
"loneliness weighed on him." He was brought back, but could not
sustain the journey farther than Southampton. There the members of
the beforementioned club travelled from London to see him--two at a
time--that he might be less lonely--and for the unwearying
solicitude of his friend and agent, Mr. Hingston, and to the kindly
sympathy of the United States Consul at Southampton, Charles
Browne's best and dearest friends had cause to be grateful. I
cannot close these lines without mention of "Artemus Ward's" last
joke. He had read in the newspapers that a wealthy American had
offered to present the Prince of Wales with a splendid yacht,
"It seems," said the invalid, "a fashion now-a-days for everybody to
present the Prince of Wales with something. I think I shall leave
Charles Browne died beloved and regretted by all who knew him, and
by many who had known him but a few weeks; and when he drew his last
breath, there passed away the Spirit of a true gentleman.
London, August 11, 1868.
BY EDWARD P. HINGSTON.
In Cleveland, Ohio, the pleasant city beside the lakes, Artemus Ward
first determined to become a public lecturer. He and I rambled
through Cleveland together after his return from California. He
called on some old friends at the Herald office, then went over to
the Weddel House, and afterwards strolled across to the offices of
the "Plain Dealer", where, in his position as sub-editor, he had
written many of his earlier essays. Artemus inquired for Mr. Gray,
the editor, who chanced to be absent. Looking round at the vacant
desks and inkstained furniture, Artemus was silent for a minute or
two, and then burst into one of those peculiar chuckling fits of
laughter in which he would occasionally indulge; not a loud laugh,
but a shaking of the whole body with an impulse of merriment which
set every muscle in motion. "Here," said he, "here's where they
called me a fool." The remembrance of their so calling him seemed
to afford him intense amusement.
>From the office of the Cleveland Plain Dealer we continued our tour
of the town. Presently we found ourselves in front of Perry's
statue, the monument erected to commemorate the naval engagement on
Lake Erie, wherein the Americans came off victorious. Artemus
looked up to the statue, laid his finger to the side of his nose,
and, in his quaint manner, remarked, "I wonder whether they called
him 'a fool' too, when he went to fight!"
The remark, following close as it did upon his laughing fit in the
newspaper office, caused me to inquire why he had been called "a
fool," and who had called him so.
"It was the opinion of my friends on the paper," he replied. "I
told them that I was going in for lecturing. They laughed at me,
and called me `a fool.' Don't you think they were right?"
Then we sauntered up Euclid Street, under the shade of its avenue of
trees. As we went along, Artemus Ward recounted to me the story of
his becoming a lecturer. Our conversation on that agreeable evening
is fresh in my remembrance. Memory still listens to the voice of my
companion in the stroll, still sees the green trees of Euclid Street
casting their shadows across our path, and still joins in the laugh
with Artemus, who, having just returned from California, where he
had taken sixteen hundred dollars at one lecture, did not think that
to be evidence of his having lost his senses.
The substance of that which Artemus Ward then told me was, that
while writing for the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" he was accustomed, in
the discharge of his duties as a reporter, to attend the
performances of the various minstrel troups and circuses which
visited the neighbourhood. At one of these he would hear some story
of his own, written a month or two previously, given by the
"middle-man" of the minstrels and received with hilarity by the
audience. At another place he would be entertained by listening to
jokes of his own invention, coarsely retailed by the clown of the
ring, and shouted at by the public as capital waggery on the part of
the performer. His own good things from the lips of another "came
back to him with alienated majesty," as Emerson expresses it. Then
the thought would steal over him--Why should that man gain a living
with my witticisms, and I not use them in the same way myself? why
not be the utterer of my own coinage, the quoter of my own jests,
the mouthpiece of my own merry conceits? Certainly, it was not a
very exalted ambition to aim at the glories of a circus clown or the
triumphs of a minstrel with a blackened face. But, in the United
States a somewhat different view is taken of that which is fitting
and seemly for a man to do, compared with the estimate we form in
this country. In a land where the theory of caste is not admitted,
the relative respectability of the various professions is not quite
the same as it is with us. There the profession does not disqualify
if the man himself be right, nor the claim to the title of gentleman
depend upon the avocation followed. I know of one or two clowns in
the ring who are educated physicians, and not thought to be any the
less gentlemen because they propound conundrums and perpetrate jests
instead of prescribing pills and potions.
Artemus Ward was always very self-reliant; when once he believed
himself to be in the right it was almost impossible to persuade him
to the contrary. But, at the same time, he was cautious in the
extreme, and would well consider his position before deciding that
which was right or wrong for him to do. The idea of becoming a
public man having taken possession of his mind, the next point to
decide was in what form he should appear before the public. That of
a humorous lecturer seemed to him to be the best. It was unoccupied
ground. America had produced entertainers who by means of facial
changes or eccentricities of costume had contrived to amuse their
audiences, but there was no one who ventured to joke for an hour
before a house full of people with no aid from scenery or dress.
The experiment was one which Artemus resolved to try. Accordingly,
he set himself to work to collect all his best quips and cranks, to
invent what new drolleries he could, and to remember all the good
things that he had heard or met with. These he noted down and
strung together almost without relevancy or connexion. The
manuscript chanced to fall into the hands of the people at the
office of the newspaper on which he was then employed, and the
question was put to him of what use he was going to make of the
strange jumble of jest which he had thus compiled. His answer was
that he was about to turn lecturer, and that before them were the
materials of his lecture. It was then that his friends laughed at
him, and characterised him as "a fool."
"They had some right to think so," said Artemus to me as we rambled
up Euclid Street. "I half thought that I was one myself. I don't
look like a lecturer--do I?"
He was always fond, poor fellow, of joking on the subject of his
personal appearance. His spare figure and tall stature, his
prominent nose and his light-colored hair, were each made the
subject of a joke at one time or another in the course of his
lecturing career. If he laughed largely at the foibles of others,
he was equally disposed to laugh at any shortcomings he could detect
in himself. If anything at all in his outward form was to him a
source of vanity, it was the delicate formation of his hands.
White, soft, long, slender, and really handsome, they were more like
the hands of a high-born lady than those of a Western editor. He
attended to them with careful pride, and never alluded to them as a
subject for his jokes, until, in his last illness, they had become
unnaturally fair, translucent, and attenuated. Then it was that a
friend calling upon him at his apartments in Piccadilly, endeavoured
to cheer him at a time of great mental depression, and pleasantly
reminded him of a ride they had long ago projected through the
South-Western States of the Union. "We must do that ride yet,
Artemus. Short stages at first, and longer ones as we go on." Poor
Artemus lifted up his pale, slender hands, and letting the light
shine through them, said jocosely, "Do you think these would do to
hold a rein with? Why, the horse would laugh at them."
Having collected a sufficient number of quaint thoughts, whimsical
fancies, bizarre notions, and ludicrous anecdotes, the difficulty
which then, according to his own confession, occurred to Artemus
Ward was, what should be the title of his lecture. The subject was
no difficulty at all, for the simple reason that there was not to be
any. The idea of instructing or informing his audience never once
entered into his plans. His intention was merely to amuse; if
possible, keep the house in continuous laughter for an hour and a
half, or rather an hour and twenty minutes, for that was the precise
time, in his belief, which people could sit to listen and to laugh
without becoming bored; and, if possible, send his audience home
well pleased with the lecturer and with themselves, without their
having any clear idea of that which they had been listening to, and
not one jot the wiser than when they came. No one better understood
than Artemus the wants of a miscellaneous audience who paid their
dollar or half-dollar each to be amused. No one could gauge better
than he the capacity of the crowd to feed on pure fun, and no one
could discriminate more clearly than he the fitness, temper, and
mental appetite of the constituents of his evening assemblies. The
prosiness of an ordinary Mechanics' Institute lecture was to him
simply abhorrent; the learned platitudes of a professed lecturer
were to him, to use one of his own phrases, "worse than poison." To
make people laugh was to be his primary endeavour. If in so making
them laugh he could also cause them to see through a sham, be
ashamed of some silly national prejudice, or suspicious of the value
of some current piece of political bunkum, so much the better. He
believed in laughter as thoroughly wholesome; he had the firmest
conviction that fun is healthy, and sportiveness the truest sign of
sanity. Like Talleyrand, he was of opinion that "Qui vit sans jolie
n'est pas si sage qu'il croit."
Artemus Ward's first lecture was entitled "The Babes in the Wood."
I asked him why he chose that title, because there was nothing
whatever in the lecture relevant to the subject of the child-book
legend. He replied, "It seemed to sound the best. I once thought
of calling the lecture 'My Seven Grandmothers.' Don't you think
that would have been good?" It would at any rate have been just as
Incongruity as an element of fun was always an idea uppermost in the
mind of the Western humorist. I am not aware that the notes of any
of his lectures, except those of his Mormon experience, have been
preserved, and I have some doubts if any one of his lectures, except
the Mormon one, was ever fairly written out. "The Babes in the
Wood," as a lecture, was a pure and unmitigated "sell." It was
merely joke after joke, and drollery succeeding to drollery, without
any connecting thread whatever. It was an exhibition of fireworks,
owing half its brilliancy and more than half its effect to the skill
of the man who grouped the fireworks together and let them off. In
the hands of any other pyrotechnist the squibs would have failed to
light, the rockets would have refused to ascend, and the
"nine-bangers" would have exploded but once or twice only, instead
of nine times. The artist of the display being no more, and the
fireworks themselves having gone out, it is perhaps not to be
regretted that the cases of the squibs and the tubes of the rockets
have not been carefully kept. Most of the good things introduced by
Artemus Ward in his first lecture were afterwards incorporated by
him in subsequent writings, or used over again in his later
entertainment. Many of them had reference to the events of the day,
the circumstances of the American War and the politics of the Great
Rebellion. These, of course, have lost their interest with the
passing away of the times which gave them birth. The points of many
of the jokes have corroded, and the barbed head of many an arrow of
Artemus's wit has rusted into bluntness with the decay of the bow
from which it was propelled.
If I remember rightly, the "Babes in the Wood" were never mentioned
more than twice in the whole lecture. First, when the lecturer told
his audience that the "Babes" were to constitute the subject of his
discourse, and then digressed immediately to matters quite foreign
to the story. Then again at the conclusion of the hour and twenty
minutes of drollery, when he finished up in this way: "I now come to
my subject 'The Babes in the Wood.'" Here he would take out his
watch, look at it with affected surprise, put on an appearance of
being greatly perplexed, and amidst roars of laughter from the
people, very gravely continue, "But I find that I have exceeded my
time, and will therefore merely remark that, so far as I know, they
were very good babes--they were as good as ordinary babes. I really
have not time to go into their history. You will find it all in the
story-books. They died in the woods, listening to the woodpecker
tapping the hollow beech-tree. It was a sad fate for them, and I
pity them. So, I hope, do you. Good night!"
Artemus gave his first lecture at Norwich in Connecticut, and
travelled over a considerable portion of the Eastern States before
he ventured to give a sample of his droll oratory in the Western
cities, wherein he had earned reputation as a journalist. Gradually
his popularity became very great, and in place of letting himself
out at so much per night to literary societies and athenaeums, he
constituted himself his own showman, engaging that indispensable
adjunct to all showmen in the United States, an agent to go ahead,
engage halls, arrange for the sale of tickets, and engineer the
success of the show. Newspapers had carried his name to every
village of the Union, and his writings had been largely quoted in
every journal. It required, therefore, comparatively little
advertising to announce his visit to any place in which he had to
lecture. But it was necessary that he should have a bill or poster
of some kind. The one he adopted was simple, quaint, striking, and
well adapted to the purpose. It was merely one large sheet, with a
black ground, and the letters cut out in the block, so as to print
white. The reading was "Artemus Ward will Speak a Piece." To the
American mind this was intensely funny from its childish absurdity.
It is customary in the States for children to speak or recite "a
piece" at school at the annual examination, and the phrase is used
just in the same sense as in England we say "a Christmas piece."
The professed subject of the lecture being that of a story familiar
to children, harmonised well with the droll placard which announced
its delivery. The place and time were notified on a slip pasted
beneath. To emerge from the dull depths of lyceum committees and
launch out as a showman-lecturer on his own responsibility, was
something both novel and bold for Artemus to do. In the majority of
instances he or his agent met with speculators who were ready to
engage him for so many lectures, and secure to the lecturer a
certain fixed sum. But in his later transactions Artemus would have
nothing to do with them, much preferring to undertake all the risk
himself. The last speculator to whom he sold himself for a tour
was, I believe, Mr. Wilder, of New York City, who realised a large
profit by investing in lecturing stock, and who was always ready to
engage a circus, a wild-beast show, or a lecturing celebrity.
As a rule Artemus Ward succeeded in pleasing every one in his
audience, especially those who understood the character of the man
and the drift of his lecture; but there were not wanting at any of
his lectures a few obtuse-minded, slowly-perceptive, drowsy-headed
dullards, who had not the remotest idea what the entertainer was
talking about, nor why those around him indulged in laughter.
Artemus was quick to detect these little spots upon the sunny face
of his auditory. He would pick them out, address himself at times
to them especially, and enjoy the bewilderment of his Boeotian
patrons. Sometimes a stolid inhabitant of central New York,
evidently of Dutch extraction, would regard him with an open stare
expressive of a desire to enjoy that which was said if the point of
the joke could by any possibility be indicated to him. At other
times a demure Pennsylvania Quaker would benignly survey the poor
lecturer with a look of benevolent pity; and on one occasion, when
my friend was lecturing at Peoria, an elderly lady, accompanied by
her two daughters, left the room in the midst of the lecture,
exclaiming, as she passed me at the door, "It is too bad of people
to laugh at a poor young man who doesn't know what he is saying, and
ought to be sent to a lunatic asylum!"
The newspaper reporters were invariably puzzled in attempting to
give any correct idea of a lecture by Artemus Ward. No report could
fairly convey an idea of the entertainment; and being fully aware of
this, Artemus would instruct his agent to beg of the papers not to
attempt giving any abstract of that which he said. The following is
the way in which the reporter of the Golden Era, at San Francisco,
California, endeavoured to inform the San Franciscan public of the
character of "The Babes in the Wood" lecture. It is, as the reader
will perceive, a burlesque on the way in which Artemus himself dealt
with the topic he had chosen; while it also notes one or two of the
salient features of my friend's style of Lecturing:
"HOW ARTEMUS WARD 'SPOKE A PIECE.'"
"Artemus has arrived. Artemus has spoken. Artemus has triumphed.
Great is Artemus!
"Great also is Platt's Hall. But Artemus is greater; for the hall
proved too small for his audience, and too circumscribed for the
immensity of his jokes. A man who has drank twenty bottles of wine
may be called `full.' A pint bottle with a quart of water in it
would also be accounted full; and so would an hotel be, every bed in
it let three times over on the same night to three different
occupants; but none of these would be so full as Platt's Hall was on
Friday night to hear Artemus Ward `speak a piece.'
"The piece selected was `The Babes in the Wood,' which reminds us
that Mr. Ward is a tall, slender-built, fair-complexioned,
jovial-looking gentleman of about twenty-seven years of age. He has
a pleasant manner, an agreeable style, and a clear, distinct, and
"'The Babes in the Wood' is a 'comic oration,' with a most
comprehensive grasp of subject. As spoken by its witty author, it
elicited gusto of laughter and whirlwinds of applause. Mr. Ward is
no prosy lyceum lecturer. His style is neither scientific,
didactic, or philosophical. It is simply that of a man who is
brimful of mirth, wit, and satire, and who is compelled to let it
flow forth. Maintaining a very grave countenance himself, he plays
upon the muscles of other people's faces as though they were piano-
strings, and he the prince of pianists.
"The story of 'The Babes in the Wood' is interesting in the extreme.
We would say, en passant, however, that Artemus Ward is a perfect
steam factory of puns and a museum of American humour. Humanity
seems to him to be a vast mine, out of which he digs tons of fun;
and life a huge forest, in which he can cut down 'cords' of
comicality. Language with him is like the brass balls with which
the juggler amuses us at the circus--ever being tossed up, ever
glittering, ever thrown about at pleasure. We intended to report
his lecture in full, but we laughed till we split our lead pencil,
and our shorthand symbols were too infused with merriment to remain
steady on the paper. However, let us proceed to give an idea of
'The Babes in the Wood.' In the first place, it is a comic oration;
that is, it is spoken, is exuberant in fun, felicitous in fancy,
teeming with jokes, and sparkling as bright waters on a sunny day.
The 'Babes in the Wood' is--that is, it isn't a lecture or an
oratorical effort; it is something sui generis; something reserved
for our day and generation, which it would never have done for our
forefathers to have known, or they would have been too mirthful to
have attended to the business of preparing the world for our coming;
and something which will provoke so much laughter in our time, that
the echo of the laughs will reverberate along the halls of futurity,
and seriously affect the nerves of future generations.
"The 'Babes in the Wood,' to describe it, is--Well, those who
listened to it know best. At any rate, they will acknowledge with
us that it was a great success, and that Artemus Ward has a fortune
before him in California.
"And now to tell the story of 'The Babes in the Wood'--But we will
not, for the hall was not half large enough to accommodate those who
came, consequently Mr. Ward will tell it over again at the
Metropolitan Theatre next Tuesday evening. The subject will again
be 'The Babes in the Wood.'"
Having travelled over the Union with "The Babes in the Wood"
lecture, and left his audiences everywhere fully "in the wood" as
regarded the subject announced in the title, Artemus Ward became
desirous of going over the same ground again. There were not
wanting dreary and timid prophets who told him that having "sold"
his audiences once, he would not succeed in gaining large houses a
second time. But the faith of Artemus in the unsuspecting nature of
the public was very large, so with fearless intrepidity he conceived
the happy thought of inventing a new title, but keeping to the same
old lecture, interspersing it here and there with a few fresh jokes,
incidental to new topics of the times. Just at this period General
McClellan was advancing on Richmond, and the celebrated fight at
Bull's Run had become matter of history. The forcible abolition of
slavery had obtained a place among the debates of the day, Hinton
Rowan Helper's book on "The Inevitable Crisis" had been sold at
every bookstall, and the future of the negro had risen into the
position of being the great point of discussion throughout the land.
Artemus required a very slender thread to string his jokes upon, and
what better one could be found than that which he chose? He
advertised the title of his next lecture as "Sixty Minutes in
Africa." I need scarcely say that he had never been in Africa, and
in all probability had never read a book on African travel. He knew
nothing about it, and that was the very reason he should choose
Africa for his subject. I believe that he carried out the joke so
far as to have a map made of the African continent, and that on a
few occasions, but not on all, he had it suspended in the
lecture-room. It was in Philadelphia and at the Musical Fund Hall
in Locust Street that I first heard him deliver what he jocularly
phrased to me as "My African Revelation." The hall was very
thronged, the audience must have exceeded two thousand in number,
and the evening was unusually warm. Artemus came on the rostrum
with a roll of paper in his hands, and used it to play with
throughout the lecture, just as recently at the Egyptian Hall, while
lecturing on the Mormons, he invariably made use of a lady's riding-
whip for the same purpose. He commenced his lecture thus, speaking
very gravely and with long pauses between his sentences, allowing
his audience to laugh if they pleased, but seeming to utterly
disregard their laughter:
"I have invited you to listen to a discourse upon Africa. Africa is
my subject. It is a very large subject. It has the Atlantic Ocean
on its left side, the Indian Ocean on its right, and more water than
you could measure out at its smaller end.
Africa produces blacks--ivory blacks--they get ivory. It also
produces deserts, and that is the reason it is so much deserted by
travellers. Africa is famed for its roses. It has the red rose,
the white rose, and the neg-rose. Apropos of negroes, let me tell
you a little story."
Then he at once diverged from the subject of Africa to retail to his
audience his amusing story of the Conversion of a Negro, which he
subsequently worked up into an article in the Savage Club Papers,
and entitled "Converting the Nigger." Never once again in the
course of the lecture did he refer to Africa, until the time having
arrived for him to conclude, and the people being fairly worn out
with laughter, he finished up by saying, "Africa, ladies and
gentlemen, is my subject. You wish me to tell you something about
Africa. Africa is on the map--it is on all the maps of Africa that
I have ever seen. You may buy a good map for a dollar, and if you
study it well, you will know more about Africa than I do. It is a
comprehensive subject, too vast, I assure you, for me to enter upon
to-night. You would not wish me to, I feel that--I feel it deeply,
and I am very sensitive. If you go home and go to bed it will be
better for you than to go with me to Africa."
The joke about the "neg-rose" has since run the gauntlet of nearly
all the minstrel bands throughout England and America. All the
"bones," every "middle-man," and all "end-men" of the burnt-cork
profession have used Artemus Ward as a mine wherein to dig for the
ore which provokes laughter. He has been the "cause of wit in
others," and the bread-winner for many dozens of black-face
songsters--"singists" as he used to term them. He was just as fond
of visiting their entertainments as they were of appropriating his
jokes; and among his best friends in New York were the brothers
Messrs Neil and Dan Bryant, who have made a fortune by what has been
facetiously termed "the burnt-cork opera."
It was in his "Sixty Minutes in Africa" lecture that Artemus Ward
first introduced his celebrated satire on the negro, which he
subsequently put into print. "The African," said he, "may be our
brother. Several highly respectable gentlemen and some talented
females tell me that he is, and for argument's sake I might be
induced to grant it, though I don't believe it myself. But the
African isn't our sister, and wife, and uncle. He isn't several of
our brothers and first wife's relations. He isn't our grandfather
and great grandfather, and our aunt in the country. Scarcely."
It may easily be imagined how popular this joke became when it is
remembered that it was first perpetrated at a time when the negro
question was so much debated as to have become an absolute nuisance.
Nothing else was talked of; nobody would talk of anything but the
negro. The saying arose that all Americans had "nigger-on
the-brain." The topic had become nauseous, especially to the
Democratic party; and Artemus always had more friends among them
than among the Republicans. If he had any politics at all he was
certainly a Democrat.
War had arisen, the South was closed, and the lecturing arena
considerably lessened. Artemus Ward determined to go to California.
Before starting for that side of the American continent, he wished
to appear in the city of New York. He engaged, through his friend
Mr. De Walden, the large hall then known as Niblo's, in front of the
Niblo's Garden Theatre, and now used, I believe, as the dining-room
of the Metropolitan Hotel. At that period Pepper's Ghost chanced to
be the great novelty of New York City, and Artemus Ward was casting
about for a novel title to his old lecture. Whether he or Mr. De
Walden selected that of "Artemus Ward's Struggle with a Ghost" I do
not know; but I think that it was Mr. De Walden's choice. The title
was seasonable, and the lecture successful. Then came the tour to
California, whither I proceeded in advance to warn the miners on the
Yuba, the travellers on the Rio Sacramento, and the citizens of the
Chrysopolis of the Pacific that "A. Ward" would be there shortly.
In California the lecture was advertised under its old name of "The
Babes in the Wood." Platt's Hall was selected for the scene of
operation, and, so popular was the lecturer, that on the first night
we took at the doors more than sixteen hundred dollars in gold. The
crowd proved too great to take money in the ordinary manner, and
hats were used for people to throw their dollars in. One hat broke
through at the crown. I doubt if we ever knew to a dollar how many
dollars it once contained.
California was duly travelled over, and "The Babes in the Wood"
listened to with laughter in its flourishing cities, its
mining-camps among the mountains, and its "new placers beside
gold-bedded rivers. While journeying through that strangely-
beautiful land, the serious question arose--What was to be done
next? After California--where?
Before leaving New York, it had been a favourite scheme of Artemus
Ward not to return from California to the East by way of Panama, but
to come home across the Plains, and to visit Salt Lake City by the
way. The difficulty that now presented itself was, that winter was
close upon us, and that it was no pleasant thing to cross the Sierra
Nevada and scale the Rocky Mountains with the thermometer far below
freezingpoint. Nor was poor Artemus even at that time a strong man.
My advice was to return to Panama, visit the West India Islands, and
come back to California in the spring, lecture again in San
Francisco, and then go on to the land of the Mormons. Artemus
doubted the feasibility of this plan, and the decision was
ultimately arrived at to try the journey to Salt Lake.
Unfortunately the winter turned out to be one of the severest. When
we arrived at Salt Lake City, my poor friend was seized with typhoid
fever, resulting from the fatigue we had undergone, the intense cold
to which we had been subjected, and the excitement of being on a
journey of 3500 miles across the North American Continent, when the
Pacific Railway had made little progress and the Indians were
reported not to be very friendly.
The story of the trip is told in Artemus Ward's lecture. I have
added to it, at the special request of the publisher, a few
explanatory notes, the purport of which is to render the reader
acquainted with the characteristics of the lecturer's delivery. For
the benefit of those who never had an opportunity of seeing Artemus
Ward nor of hearing him lecture, I may be pardoned for attempting to
describe the man himself.
In stature he was tall, in figure, slender. At any time during our
acquaintance his height must have been disproportionate to his
weight. Like his brother Cyrus, who died a few years before him;
Charles F. Browne, our "Artemus Ward," had the premonitory signs of
a short life strongly evident in his early manhood. There were the
lank form, the long pale fingers, the very white pearly teeth, the
thin, fine, soft hair, the undue brightness of the eyes, the
excitable and even irritable disposition, the capricious appetite,
and the alternately jubilant and despondent tone of mind which too
frequently indicate that "the abhorred fury with the shears" is
waiting too near at hand to "slit the thin-spun life." His hair was
very light-colored, and not naturally curly. He used to joke in his
lecture about what it cost him to keep it curled; he wore a very
large moustache without any beard or whiskers; his nose was
exceedingly prominent, having an outline not unlike that of the late
Sir Charles Napier. His forehead was large, with, to use the
language of the phrenologists, the organs of the perceptive
faculties far more developed than those of the imaginative powers.
He had the manner and bearing of a naturally-born gentleman. Great
was the disappointment of many who, having read his humorous papers
descriptive of his exhibition of snakes and waxwork, and who having
also formed their ideas of him from the absurd pictures which had
been attached to some editions of his works, found on meeting with
him that there was no trace of the showman in his deportment, and
little to call up to their mind the smart Yankee who had married
"Betsy Jane." There was nothing to indicate that he had not lived a
long time in Europe and acquired the polish which men gain by coming
in contact with the society of European capitals. In his
conversation there was no marked peculiarity of accent to identify
him as an American, nor any of the braggadocio which some of his
countrymen unadvisedly assume. His voice was soft, gentle, and
clear. He could make himself audible in the largest lecture-rooms
without effort. His style of lecturing was peculiar; so thoroughly
sui generis, that I know of no one with whom to compare him, nor can
any description very well convey an idea of that which it was like.
However much he caused his audience to laugh, no smile appeared upon
his own face. It was grave, even to solemnity, while he was giving
utterance to the most delicious absurdities. His assumption of
indifference to that which he was saying, his happy manner of
letting his best jokes fall from his lips as if unconscious of their
being jokes at all, his thorough self-possession on the platform,
and keen appreciation of that which suited his audience and that
which did not, rendered him well qualified for the task which he had
undertaken--that of amusing the public with a humorous lecture. He
understood and comprehended to a hair's breadth the grand secret of
how not to bore. He had weighed, measured, and calculated to a
nicety the number of laughs an audience could indulge in on one
evening, without feeling that they were laughing just a little too
much. Above all, he was no common man, and did not cause his
audience to feel that they were laughing at that which they should
feel ashamed of being amused with. He was intellectually up to the
level of nine-tenths of those who listened to him, and in listening,
they felt that it was no fool who wore the cap and bells so
excellently. It was amusing to notice how with different people his
jokes produced a different effect. The Honourable Robert Lowe
attended one evening at the Mormon Lecture, and laughed as
hilariously as any one in the room. The next evening Mr. John
Bright happened to be present. With the exception of one or two
occasional smiles, he listened with grave attention.
In placing the lecture before the public in print, it is impossible,
by having recourse to any system of punctuation, to indicate the
pauses, jerky emphases, and odd inflexions of voice which
characterised the delivery. The reporter of the Standard newspaper,
describing his first lecture in London, aptly said: "Artemus dropped
his jokes faster than the meteors of last night succeeded each other
in the sky. And there was this resemblance between the flashes of
his humour and the flights of the meteors, that in each case one
looked for jokes or meteors, but they always came just in the place
that one least expected to find them. Half the enjoyment of the
evening lay, to some of those present, in listening to the hearty
cachinnation of the people who only found out the jokes some two or
three minutes after they were made, and who then laughed apparently
at some grave statements of fact. Reduced to paper, the showman's
jokes are certainly not brilliant; almost their whole effect lies in
their seemingly impromptu character. They are carefully led up to,
of course; but they are uttered as if they are mere afterthoughts,
of which the speaker is hardly sure." Herein the writer in the
Standard hits the most marked peculiarity of Artemus Ward's style of
lecturing. His affectation of not knowing what he was uttering, his
seeming fits of abstraction, and his grave, melancholy aspect,
constituted the very cream of the entertainment. Occasionally he
would amuse himself in an apparently meditative mood, by twirling
his little riding-whip, or by gazing earnestly, but with affected
admiration, at his panorama. At the Egyptian Hall his health
entirely failed him, and he would occasionally have to use a seat
during the course of the lecture. In the notes which follow I have
tried, I know how inefficiently, to convey here and there an idea of
how Artemus rendered his lecture amusing by gesture or action. I
have also, at the request of the publisher, made a few explanatory
comments on the subject of our Mormon trip. In so doing I hope that
I have not thrust myself too prominently forward, nor been too
officious in my explanations. My aim has been to add to the
interest of the lecture with those who never heard it delivered, and
to revive in the memory of those who did some of its notable
peculiarities. The illustrations are from photographs of the
panorama painted in America for Artemus, as the pictorial portion of
In the lecture is the fun of the journey. For the hard facts the
reader in quest of information is referred to a book published
previously to the lecturer's appearance at the Egyptian Hall, the
title of which is, "Artemus Ward: His Travels among the Mormons."
Much against the grain as it was for Artemus to be statistical, he
has therein detailed some of the experiences of his Mormon trip,
with due regard to the exactitude and accuracy of statement expected
by information-seeking readers in a book of travels. He was not
precisely the sort of traveller to write a paper for the evening
meetings of the Royal Geographical Society, nor was he sufficiently
interested in philosophical theories to speculate on the
developments of Mormonism as illustrative of the history of
religious belief. We were looking out of the window of the Salt
Lake House one morning, when Brigham Young happened to pass down the
opposite side of Main Street. It was cold weather, and the prophet
was clothed in a thick cloak of some green-colored material. I
remarked to Artemus that Brigham had seemingly compounded Mormonism
from portions of a dozen different creeds; and that in selecting
green for the color of his apparel, he was imitating Mahomet. "Has
it not struck you," I observed, "that Swedenborgianism and
Mahometanism are oddly blended in the Mormon faith?"
"Petticoatism and plunder," was Artemus's reply--and that
comprehended his whole philosophy of Mormonism. As he remarked
elsewhere: "Brigham Young is a man of great natural ability. If you
ask me, How pious is he? I treat it as a conundrum, and give it up."
To lecture in London, and at the Egyptian Hall, had long been a
favourite idea of Artemus Ward. Some humorist has said, that "All
good Americans, when they die--, go to Paris." So do most, whether
good or bad, while they are living.
Still more strongly developed is the transatlantic desire to go to
Rome. In the far west of the Missouri, in the remoter west of
Colorado and away in far north-western Oregon, I have heard many a
tradesman express his intention to make dollars enough to enable him
to visit Rome. In a land where all is so new, where they have had
no past, where an old wall would be a sensation, and a tombstone of
anybody's great grandfather the marvel of the whole region, the
charms of the old world have an irresistible fascination. To visit
the home of the Caesars they have read of in their school-books, and
to look at architecture which they have seen pictorially, but have
nothing like it in existence around them, is very naturally the
strong wish of people who are nationally nomadic, and who have all
more or less a smattering of education. Artemus Ward never
expressed to me any very great wish to travel on the European
continent, but to see London was to accomplish something which he
had dreamed of from his boyhood. There runs from Marysville in
California to Oroville in the same State a short and singular little
railway, which, when we were there, was in a most unfinished
condition. To Oroville we were going. We were too early for the
train at the Marysville station, and sat down on a pile of timber to
chat over future prospects.
"What sort of a man was Albert Smith?" asked Artemus "And do you
think that the Mormons would be as good a subject for the Londoners
as Mont Blanc was?"
I answered his questions. He reflected for a few moments, and then
"Well, old fellow, I'll tell you what I should like to do. I should
like to go to London and give my lecture in the same place. Can it
It was done. Not in the same room, but under the same roof and on
the same floor; in that gloomy-looking Hall in Piccadilly, which was
destined to be the ante-chamber to the tomb of both lecturers.
Throughout this brief sketch I have written familiarly of the late
Mr. Charles F. Browne as "Artemus Ward," or simply as "Artemus." I
have done so advisedly, mainly because, during the whole course of
our acquaintance, I do not remember addressing him as "Mr. Browne,"
or by his real Christian name. To me he was always "Artemus"--
Artemus the kind, the gentle, the suave, the generous. One who was
ever a friend in the fullest meaning of the word, and the best of
companions in the amplest acceptance of the phrase. His merry laugh
and pleasant conversation are as audible to me as if they were heard
but yesterday; his words of kindness linger on the ear of memory,
and his tones of genial mirth live in echoes which I shall listen to
for evermore. Two years will soon have passed away since last he
"Silence now, enamour'd of his voice
Looks its mute music in her rugged cell."
LONDON, October 1868.
* * *
ESSAYS, SKETCHES, AND LETTERS.
1.1. ONE OF MR. WARD'S BUSINESS LETTERS.
To the Editor of the --
Sir--I'm movin along--slowly along--down tords your place. I
want you should rite me a letter, sayin how is the show bizniss
in your place. My show at present consists of three moral Bares,
a Kangaroo (a amoozin little Raskal--t'would make you larf
yerself to deth to see the little cuss jump up and squeal) wax
figgers of G. Washington Gen. Tayler John Bunyan Capt Kidd and
Dr. Webster in the act of killin Dr. Parkman, besides several
miscellanyus moral wax statoots of celebrated piruts & murderers,
&c., ekalled by few & exceld by none. Now Mr. Editor, scratch
orf a few lines sayin how is the show bizniss down to your place.
I shall hav my hanbills dun at your offiss. Depend upon it. I
want you should git my hanbills up in flamin stile. Also git up
a tremenjus excitemunt in yr. paper 'bowt my onparaleld Show. We
must fetch the public sumhow. We must wurk on their feelins.
Cum the moral on 'em strong. If it's a temperance community tell
'em I sined the pledge fifteen minits arter Ise born, but on the
contery ef your peple take their tods, say Mister Ward is as
Jenial a feller as we ever met, full of conwiviality, & the life
an sole of the Soshul Bored. Take, don't you? If you say anythin
abowt my show say my snaiks is as harmliss as the new-born Babe.
What a interestin study it is to see a zewological animil like a
snaik under perfeck subjecshun! My kangaroo is the most larfable
little cuss I ever saw. All for 15 cents. I am anxyus to skewer
your infloounce. I repeet in regard to them hanbills that I shall
git 'em struck orf up to your printin office. My perlitercal
sentiments agree with yourn exackly. I know thay do, becawz I
never saw a man whoos didn't.
P.S.--You scratch my back & Ile scratch your back.
1.2. ON "FORTS."
Every man has got a Fort. It's sum men's fort to do one thing,
and some other men's fort to do another, while there is numeris
shiftliss critters goin round loose whose fort is not to do
Shakspeer rote good plase, but he wouldn't hav succeeded as a
Washington correspondent of a New York daily paper. He lackt the
rekesit fancy and imagginashun.
Old George Washington's Fort was not to hev eny public man of the
present day resemble him to eny alarmin extent. Whare bowts can
George's ekal be found? I ask, & boldly anser no whares, or eny
Old man Townsin's Fort was to maik Sassyperiller. "Goy to the
world! anuther life saived!" (Cotashun from Townsin's
Cyrus Field's Fort is to lay a sub-machine tellegraf under the
boundin billers of the Oshun, and then hev it Bust.
Spaldin's Fort is to maik Prepared Gloo, which mends everything.
Wonder ef it will mend a sinner's wickid waze? (Impromptoo
Zoary's Fort is to be a femaile circus feller.
My Fort is the grate moral show bizniss & ritin choice famerly
literatoor for the noospapers. That's what's the matter with ME.
&c., &c., &c. So I mite go on to a indefnit extent.
Twict I've endeverd to do things which thay wasn't my Fort. The
fust time was when I undertuk to lick a owdashus cuss who cut a
hole in my tent & krawld threw. Sez I, "my jentle Sir go out or
I shall fall onto you putty hevy." Sez he, "Wade in, Old wax
figgers," whareupon I went for him, but he cawt me powerful on
the hed & knockt me threw the tent into a cow pastur. He pursood
the attack & flung me into a mud puddle. As I aroze & rung out
my drencht garmints I koncluded fitin wasn't my Fort. Ile now
rize the kurtin upon Seen 2nd: It is rarely seldum that I seek
consolation in the Flowin Bole. But in a sertin town in Injianny
in the Faul of 18--, my orgin grinder got sick with the fever &
died. I never felt so ashamed in my life, & I thowt I'd hist in
a few swallows of suthin strengthin. Konsequents was I histid in
so much I dident zackly know whare bowts I was. I turnd my livin
wild beests of Pray loose into the streets and spilt all my wax
wurks. I then Bet I cood play hoss. So I hitched myself to a
Kanawl bote, there bein two other hosses hitcht on also, one
behind and anuther ahead of me. The driver hollerd for us to git
up, and we did. But the hosses bein onused to sich a arrangemunt
begun to kick & squeal and rair up. Konsequents was I was kickt
vilently in the stummuck & back, and presuntly I fownd myself in
the Kanawl with the other hosses, kickin & yellin like a tribe of
Cusscaroorus savvijis. I was rescood, & as I was bein carrid to
the tavern on a hemlock Bored I sed in a feeble voise, "Boys,
playin hoss isn't my Fort."
MORUL--Never don't do nothin which isn't your Fort, for ef you do
you'll find yourself splashin round in the Kanawl, figgeratively
1.3. THE SHAKERS.
The Shakers is the strangest religious sex I ever met. I'd hearn
tell of 'em and I'd seen 'em, with their broad brim'd hats and
long wastid coats; but I'd never cum into immejit contack with
'em, and I'd sot 'em down as lackin intelleck, as I'd never seen
'em to my Show--leastways, if they cum they was disgised in white
peple's close, so I didn't know 'em.
But in the Spring of 18--, I got swampt in the exterior of New
York State, one dark and stormy night, when the winds Blue
pityusly, and I was forced to tie up with the Shakers.
I was toilin threw the mud, when in the dim vister of the futer I
obsarved the gleams of a taller candle. Tiein a hornet's nest to
my off hoss's tail to kinder encourage him, I soon reached the
place. I knockt at the door, which it was opened unto me by a
tall, slick-faced, solum lookin individooal, who turn'd out to be
"Mr. Shaker," sed I, "you see before you a Babe in the woods, so
to speak, and he axes shelter of you."
"Yay," sed the Shaker, and he led the way into the house, another
Shaker bein sent to put my hosses and waggin under kiver.
A solum female, lookin sumwhat like a last year's beanpole stuck
into a long meal bag, cum in axed me was I athurst and did I
hunger? to which I urbanely anserd "a few." She went orf and I
endeverd to open a conversashun with the old man.
"Elder, I spect?" sed I.
"Yay," he said.
"Helth's good, I reckon?"
"What's the wages of a Elder, when he understans his bizness--or
do you devote your sarvices gratooitus?"
"Stormy night, sir."
"If the storm continners there'll be a mess underfoot, hay?"
"It's onpleasant when there's a mess underfoot?"
"If I may be so bold, kind sir, what's the price of that pecooler
kind of weskit you wear, incloodin trimmins?"