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far as having his wits about him he was fit to undertake a much more serious responsibility than matrimony) we find the account of his first attempts as a showman. A Mr. Coley Bartram, in the latter part of July 1835, called at his store, and informed him that he had earned a share in a celebrated negro woman named Joice Heth, who was upwards of 161 years of age, and had been nurse to Washington, and that he had disposed of his interest in her to Mr. R. W. Lindsay, who being an ineffici ent showman was anxious to sell out. Barnum hasting forthwith to see this phenomenon, and judge for himself as to the likelihood of carrying on the cheat of passing off an ordinary old negro woman as double her actual age, declares :

"I was favourably struck with the appearance of the old woman. So far as outward indications were concerned, she might almost as well have been called a thousand years old as any other age. She was lying upon a high lounge in the middle of the room; her lower extremities were drawn up, with her knees elevated some two feet above the top of the lounge; she was apparently in good health and spirits, but former disease or old age, or perhaps both combined, had rendered her unable to change her position; in fact, although she could move one of her arms at will, her lower limbs were fixed in their position, and could not be straightened. She was totally blind, and her eyes were so deeply sunken in their sockets that the eyeballs seemed to have disappeared altogether. She had no teeth, but possessed a head of thick bushy gray hair: her left arm lay across her breast, and she had no power to remove it. The fingers of her left hand were drawn down so as nearly to close it, and remained fixed and immovable. The nails upon that hand were about four inches in length, and extended above her wrist : the nails upon her large toes also had grown to the thickness of nearly a quarter of an inch."

Having thus ascertained that as far as get-up was concerned, to use a theatrical phrase, the old woman looked her part, Barnum proceeds to inquire into the veritable document purporting to be a bill of sale of Joice Heth from Augustine Washington to Elizabeth Atwood, dated 1727, and stating the age of Joice Heth to be fifty-four, which is said to prove the age of Joice. This document came from the Record Office of Virginia, and was even to be one of the great features of the exhibition, lying in state like the old woman, with this difference, that one was under a glass-case and the other not. He was told that Joice had been pining neglected in an outhouse of John Bowling for several years, and that it was the accident of seeing this document which led to her discovery and promotion. Barnum was too shrewd a man not to know well that the whole thing was a perfect farce, and that he had not a particle of evidence to support the assertion as to the old

woman's age; yet, as he says, "the whole account appeared to me satisfactory, and I inquired the price of the negress." That is, it appeared to me that with the assistance of the press I could gull the public, and that the evidence was sufficient for that purpose, and therefore" satisfactory." The old woman told stories about Washington, and sang hymns, all of which reflected a great deal of credit or rather discredit on her ingenious trainers. It must strike any reader that one link was wanting to make out the truth of the statement as to Joice Heth's age, namely, identification of the individual exhibited with the person named in the document. If Mr. Barnum is so easily satisfied, we could undertake to produce one of King James's troopers who was engaged at the Battle of the Boyne. We should first pick up an old muster roll of one of the troops, and take, say Peter Finnerty or Thomas Fogarty, and descending into those unknown parts where abound those rejoicing in the above distinguishedsurnames, pick up some terribly withered old peasant (if bed-ridden all the better), cram him with a few facts, etc, produce him in London, and make him relate the fall of Schomberg, and the pluck of William the Third.

This by the way; Joice Heth became the property of the excellent Barnum, and between advertisements and editoral articles in the New York Sun, New York Evening Star, New York Daily Advertiser, New York Courier and Express, and New York Spirit, from all of which extracts are kindly given in the book, Joice Heth proved a complete triumph, and brought store of dollars to her lord and master. When the exhibitions began to flag in any city or town, resort was had to various artful contrivances to attract public attention to the exhibition. We shall mention one: when the audiences began to decrease in number, a short communication appeared in one of the newspapers signed "A Visitor," in which the writer claimed to have made an important discovery. He stated that Joice Heth as at present exhibited was a humbug, whereas if the simple truth was told in regard to the exhibition, it was really vastly curious and interesting :

"The fact is,' said the communication, Joice Heth is not a human being what purports to be a remarkably old woman, is simply a curiously constructed antomaton made up of whalebone, India rubber, and numberless springs ingeniously put together and made to move at the slightest touch according to the will of the operator: the exhibitor is a ventriloquist, and all the conversations apparently held with the ancient lady are purely imaginary so far as she is concerned. for the answers and incidents purporting to be related by her are merely the ventriloquial voice of the exhibitor.'

This we needly hardly say was the production of Barnum, and the consequence, a rush to see whether or not the public had been taken in, in the way suggested, and thus the desired object was effected of filling the exhibition room and the pockets of the exhibitor. We shall pass briefly over the mock contest for 1000 dollars between Roberts, an American sleight of hand performer, and Barnum's Italian, Vivalla. It is enough to state, that finding his conjurer did not attract, he offered 1000 dollars to whomsoever could surpass Vivalla. A private arrangement was entered into between Roberts and Barnum that Vivalla, who was much the more accomplished artist, should commence with his easiest tricks, so that the contest should be for a time doubtful, and the interest excited the greater. The house was crowded as might be expected, and the receipts enormous, the result being that Roberts when beaten, proclaimed that he had a lame wrist, and but for this he would not fear for the result, and that he would wager five hundred dollars on the result of the second contest:

"Three hearty cheers were given by the enthusiastic audience, and the antagonists looking daggers at each other, withdrew at opposite sides of the curtain. Before the uproar of applause had ceased, Roberts and Vivalla had met upon the stage, shaken hands, and were enjoying a hearty laugh, while little Vivalla with his thumb to his nose, was making curious gyrations to an imaginary picture on the back of the screen, or possibly to a real tableau vivant in front of the curtain."

Mr. Barnum improved as he went along. We next come to the crowning cheat, and one, as it strikes us, peculiarly revolting to every well constituted mind-we speak of what was called the Fejee Mermaid. All through his statement of the circumstances under which he took up this exhibition, he has at least the energy not to stultify himself by professing to believe in the existence of such an animal, or that his specimen was anything more than a clever joining of the head and bust of a monkey to the tail of a fish-that it was a manufactured article. The history of the imposture is needless as well as uninteresting, the probability being that it was the handiwork of some skilful Japanese, at least such was Mr. Barnum's idea, and we have no wish to inquire into the matter. Early in the summer of 1842, Moses Kimball, Esq. the popular proprietor of the Boston Museum, offered to sell Barnum a preserved specimen of a mermaid, concerning which he told a long

history, tracing it from Japanese sailors to an orphan sailor boy, who had sold it a bargain to the popular Moses Kimball. We wish to let Barnum tell the remainder of the tale in his own words:—

"Such was the story. Not trusting my own acuteness on such matters, I requested my naturalist's opinion of the genuineness of the animal. He replied that he could not conceive how it was manufactured; for he never knew a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands, etc., nor had he knowledge of a fish with such peculiar fins. • Then why do you suppose it is manufactured? I enquired. Because I don't believe in mermaids,' replied the naturalist.

That is no reason at all,' said I, and, therefore, I'll believe in the mermaid, and hire it.''

This was the easiest part of the experiment, How to modify general incredulity in the existence of mermaids, so far as to awaken curiosity to see and examine the specimen, was now the all-important question. Some extraordinary means must be resorted to, and I saw no better method than to start the ball a-rolling' at some distance from the centre of attraction.

In due time a communication appeared in the New York Herald, dated and mailed in Montgomery, Ala, giving the news of the day, trade, the crops, political gossip, etc., and also an incidental paragraph about a certain Dr. Griffin, agent of the Lyceum of Natural History in London, recently from Pernambuco, who had in his possession a most remarkable curiosity, being nothing less than a veritable mermaid taken among the Fejee Islands, and preserved in China, where the doctor had bought it at a high figure for the Lyceum of Natural History.

A week or ten days afterwards, a letter of similar tenor, dated and mailed in Charleston, S. C., varying of course in the items of local news, was published in another New York Paper.

This was followed by a third letter, dated and mailed in Washington city, published in still another New York paper-there being in addition the expressed hope that the editors of the Empire City would beg a sight of the extraordinary curiosity before Dr. Griffin took ship for England.


A few days subsequently to the publcation of this thrice-repeated announcement, Mr. Lyman (who was my employé in the case of Joice Heth) was duly registered at one of the principal hotels in Philadelphia as Dr. Griffin, of Pernambuco, for London. gentlemanly, dignified, yet social manners and liberality, gained him a fine reputation for a few days; and when he paid his bill one afternoon, preparatory to leaving for New York the next day, he expressed his thanks to the landlord for special attention and courtsey. If you will step to my room,' said Lyman, alias Griffin, I will permit you to see something that will surprise you.' Whereupon the landlord was shown the most extraordinary curiosity in the world—a mermaid. He was so highly gratified and interested that he earnestly begged permission to introduce certain friends of his, including several editors, to view the wonderful specimen.

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Although it is no interest of mine,' said the curiosity-hunter, the Lyceum of Natural History, of which I am agent, will not be injured by granting the courtsey you request.' And so an appointment was made for the evening.

The result might easily be gathered from the editorial columns of the Philadelphia papers a day or two subsequently to that interview with the mermaid. Suffice it to say, that the plan worked admirably, and the Philadelphia press aided the press of New York in awakening a wide-reaching and increasing curiosity to see the mermaid.

I may as well confess that those three communications from the South were written by myself, and forwarded to friends of mine, with instructions respectively to mail them, each on the day of its date. This fact and the corresponding post-marks did much to prevent suspicion of a hoax,and the New York editors thus unconsciously contributed to my arrangements for bringing the mermaid into public notice.

While Lyman was preparing public opinion on mermaids at the Pacific Hotel, I was industriously at work (though, of course, privately) in getting up wood cuts and transparencies, as well as a pamphlet, proving the authenticity of mermaids, all in anticipation of the speedy exhibition of Dr. Griffin's specimen. I had three several and distinct pictures of mermaids engraved, and with a peculiar description written for each, had them inserted in 10,000 copies of the pamphlet which I had printed and quietly stored away in a back office until the time came to use them.

I then called respectively on the editors of the New York Herald,' and two of the Sunday papers, and tendered to each the free use of a mermaid cut, with a well-written description, for their papers of the ensuing Sunday. I informed each editor that I had hoped to use this cut in showing the Fejee Mermaid, but since Mr. Griffin had announced that, as agent for the Lyceum of Natural History, he could not permit it to be exhibited in America, my chance seemed dubious, and therefore, he was welcome to the use of the engraving and description. The three mermaids made their appearance in the three different papers on the morning of Sunday, July 17, 1842.

Each editor supposed he was giving his readers an exclusive treat in the mermaid line; but when they came to discover that I had played the same game with the three different papers they pronounced it a scaly trick.

The mermaid fever was now getting pretty well up. Few city readers had missed seeing at least one of the illustrations; and as the several printed descriptions made direct allusion to the mermaid of Mr. Griffin, now in town, a desire to see it was generally prevailing. My 10,000 mermaid pamphlets were then put into the hands of boys, and sold at a penny each (half the cost) in all the principal hotels, stores, etc., etc."

The cut referred to, representing the busts of three nude women, terminating, from the middle, in the appearance of a fish. In order, amongst other things, to attract attention, Barnum posted a flag over his exhibition room, representing

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