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Omne ignotum pro miriflco." " Wonderful, because mysterious." 



Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1865, by 

In the Clerk s Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 


ONE of Mr. Barnum s secrets of success is his unique methods 
of advertising, and we can readily understand how he can bear to 
be denounced as a " Humbug," because this popular designation, 
though undeserved in the popular acceptation of it, " brought grist 
to his mill." He has constantly kept himself before the public 
nay, we may say that he has been kept before the public constantly, 
by the stereotyped word in question ; and what right, or what 
desire, could he have to discard or complain of an epithet which 
was one of the prospering elements of his business as " a show 
man ?" In a narrow sense of the word he is a "Humbug:" in 
the larger acceptation he is not. 

He has in several chapters of this book elaborated the distinc 
tion, and we will only say in this place, what, indeed, no one who 
knows him will doubt, that, aside from his qualities as a caterer to 
popular entertainment, he is one of the most remarkable men of 
the age. As a business man, of far-reaching vision and singular 
executive force, he has for years been the liie of Bridgeport, near 
which city he has long resided, and last winter he achieved high 
rank in the Legislature of Connecticut, as both an effective speaker 
and a patriot, having " no axe to grind," and seeking only the 
public welfare. We, indeed, agree with the editor of The New 
York Independant, who, in an article drawn out by the burning of 
the American Museum, says : " Mr. Barnum s rare talent as a 
speaker has always been exercised in behalf of good morals, and 
for patriotic objects. No man has done better service in the 
temperance cause by public lectures during the past ten years, 
both in America and Great Britain, and during the war he was 
most efficient in stimulating the spirit which resulted in the pre 
servation of the Union, and the destruction of Slavery." 

We cannot forbear quoting two or three additional paragraphs 
from that article, especially as they are so strongly expressive of 
the merits of the case : 

" Mr. Barnum s whole career has been a very transparent one. 
He has never befooled the public to its injury, and, though his 


name has come to be looked upon as n. synonym for humbuggory, 
there never was a public man who was less of one. 

." The hearty good wishes of many good men, and the sympathies 
of the community in which he has lived, go with him, and the 
public he has so long amused, but never abused, will be ready to 
sustain him whenever he makes another appeal to them. Mr. 
Barnum is a very good sort of representative Yankee. When 
crowds of English traders and manufacturers in Liverpool, Man 
chester, and London, flocked to hear his lectures on the art of 
making money, they expected to hear from him some very smart 
recipes for knavery ; but they were as much astonished as they 
were edified to learn that the only secret he had to tell them was 
to be honest, and not to expect something for nothing." 

We could fill many pages with quotations of corresponding 
tenor from the leading and most influential men and journals in 
the land, but we will close this publisher s note with the following 
from the N. Y. Sun. 

" One of the happiest impromptu oratorical efforts that we have 
heard for some time was that made by Barnum at the benefit per 
formance given for his employes on Friday afternoon. If a 
stranger wanted to satisfy himself how the great showman had 
managed so to monopolize the ear and eye of the public during his 
long career he could not have had a better opportunity of doing 
so than by listening to this address. Every word, though deli 
vered with apparent carelessness, struck a key-note in thj hearts 
of his listeners. Simple, forcible, and touching, it showed how 
thoroughly this extraordinary man comprehends the character of 
his countrymen, and how easily he can play upon their feelings. 

" Those who look upon Barnum as a mere charlatan, have really 
no knowledge of him. It would be easy to demonstrate that the 
qualities that have placed him in his present position of notoriety 
and affluence would, in another pursuit, have raised him to far 
greater eminence. In his breadth of views, his profound know 
ledge of mankind, his courage under reverses, his indomitable per 
severance, his ready eloquence, and his admirable busine.-s tact, 
we recognise the eleVnents that are conducive to success in most 
other pursuits. More than almost any other living man, Barnum 
may be said to be a representative type of the American mind." ; 


In the "Autobiography of P. T. Barnum," published in 1855, I 
partly promised to write a book which should expose some of the 
chief humbugs of the world. The invitation of my friends 
Messrs. Cauldwell and Whitney of the " Weekly Mercury " caused 
me to furnish for that paper a series of articles in which I very natu 
rally took up the subject in question. This book is a revision and 
re-arrangement of a portion of those articles. If I should find that I 
have met a popular demand, I shall in due time put forth a second 
volume. There is not the least danger of a dearth of materials, 

I once travelled through the Southern States in company with a 
magician. The first day in each town, he astonished his auditors 
with his deceptions. He then announced that on the following 
day he would show how each trick was performed, and how every 
man might thus become his own magician. That expost spoiled 
the legerdemain market on that particular route, for several years. 
So, if we could have a full exposure of " the tricks of trade " of all 
sorts, of humbugs and deceivers of past times, religious, political, 
financial, scientific, quackish and so forth, we might perhaps look 
for a somewhat wiser generation to follow us. I shall be well 
satisfied if I can do something towards so good a purpose. 






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A little reflection will show that humbug is an as 
tonishingly wide-spread phenomenon in fact almost 
universal. And this is true, although we exclude 
crimes and arrant swindles from the definition of it, 
according to the somewhat careful explanation which is 
given in the beginning of the chapter succeeding this 

I apprehend that there is no sort of object which 
men seek to attain, whether secular, moral or religious* 
in which humbug is not very often an instrumentality. 
Religion is and has ever been a chief chapter of human 
life. False religions are the only ones known to two 
thirds of the human race, even now, after nineteen cen 
turies of Christianity ; and__false religions are perhaps 
the most monstrous, complicated and thorough-going 
specimens of humbug that can be found. And even 
within the pale of Christianity, how unbroken has 
been the succession of impostors, hypocrites and pre- 


tiidi\s, .male and female, of every possible variety of 
age, sex, doctrine and discipline ! 

Politics and government are certainly among the 
most important of practical human interests. Now it 
was a diplomatist that is, a practical manager of one 
kind of government matters who invented that won 
derful phrase a whole world full of humbug in half-a- 
dozen words that " Language was given to us to con 
ceal our thoughts." It was another diplomatist, who 
said " An ambassador is a gentleman sent to lie abroad 
for the good of his country." But need I explain to 
my own beloved countrymen that there is humbug in 
politics ? Does anybody go into a political campaign 
without it ? are no exaggerations of our candidate s mer 
its to be allowed ? no depreciations of the other candi 
date ? Shall we no longer prove that the success of the 
party opposed to us will overwhelm the land in ruin ? 
Let me see. Leaving out the two elections of General 
Washington, eighteen times that very fact has been 
proved by the party that was beaten, and immediately 
we have not been ruined, notwithstanding that the 
dreadful fatal fellows on the other side got their hands 
on the offices and their fingers into the treasury. 

Business is the ordinary means of living for nearly 
all of us. And in what business is there not humbug ? 
" There s cheating in all trades but ours," is the prompt 
reply from the boot-maker with his brown paper soles, 
the grocer with his floury sugar and chicoried coffee, 
the butcher with his mysterious sausages and queer 
veal, the dry goods man with his " damaged goods wet 
at the great fire " and his " selling at a ruinous loss," 


the stock-broker with his brazen assurance that your 
company is bankrupt and your stock not worth a cent 
(if he wants to buy it,) the horse jockey with his black 
arts and spavined brutes, the milkman with his tin 
aquaria, the land agent with his nice new maps and 
beautiful descriptions of distant scenery, the newspaper 
man with his " immense circulation," the publisher 
with his " Great American Novel," the city auctioneer 
with his u Pictures by the Old Masters " all and 
every one protest each his own innocence, and warn 
you against the deceits of the rest. My inexperienced 
friend, take it for granted that they all tell the 
truth about each other ! and then transact your busi 
ness to the best of your ability on your own judgment. 
Never fear but that you will get experience enough, 
and that you will pay well for it too ; and towards the 
time when you shall no longer need earthly goods, you 
will begin to know how to buy. 

Literature is one of the most interesting and significant 
expressions of humanity. Yet books are thickly pep 
pered with humbug. " Travellers stories " have been 
the scoff of ages, from the u True Story" of witty old 
Lucian the Syrian down to the gorillarities if I may 
coin a word of the Frenchman Du Chaillu. Ire 
land s counterfeited Shakspeare plays, Chatterton s 
forged manuscripts, George Psalmanazar s forged For- 
mosan language, Jo Smith s Mormon Bible, (it should 
be noted that this and the Koran sounded two strings 
of humbug together the literary and the religious,) 
the more recent counterfeits of the notorious Greek 
Simonides such literary humbugs as these are equal 


in presumption and in ingenuity too, to any of a mere 
ly business kind, though usually destitute of that sort 
of impiety which makes the great religious humbugs 
horrible as well as impudent. 

Science is another important field of human effort. 
Science is the pursuit of pure truth, and the system 
atizing of it. In such an employment as that, one 
might reasonably hope to find all things done in hon 
esty and sincerity. Not at all, my ardent and inquir 
ing friends, there is a scientific humbug just as large as 
any other. We have all heard of the Moon Hoax. 
Do none of you remember the Hydrarchos Sillimannii, 
that awful Alabama snake ? It was only a little while 
ago that a grave account appeared in a newspaper of a 
whole new business of compressing ice. Perpetual 
motion has been the dream of scientific visionaries, and a 
pretended but cheating realization of it has been exhib 
ited by scamp after scamp. I understand that one is 
at this moment being invented over in Jersey City. I 
have purchased more than one " perpetual motion " 
myself. Many persons will remember Mr. Paine 
"The Great Shot-at" as he was called, from his story 
that people were constantly trying to kill him and 
his water-gas. There have been other water gases too, 
which were each going to show u s how to sot the North 
River on fire, but something or other has always brok 
en down just at the wrong moment. Nobody seems to 
reflect, when these water gases come up, that if water 
could really be made to burn, the right conditions 
would surely have happened at some one of the thou 
sands of city fires, and that the very stuff with which 


our stout firemen were extinguishing the flames, would 
have itself caught and exterminated the whole brave 
wet crowd ! 

Medicine is the means by which we poor feeble crea 
tures try to keep from dying or aching. In a world so 
full of pain it would seem as if people could not be so 
foolish, or practitioners so knavish, as to sport with men s 
and women s and children s lives by their professional 
humbugs. Yet there are many grave M. D. s who, if 
there is nobody to hear, and if they speak their minds, 
will tell you plainly that the whole practice of medicine 
is in one sense a humbug. ! One of its features is cer 
tainly a humbug, though so innocent and even useful 
that it seems difficult to think of any objection to it. 
This is the practice of giving a placebo ; that is, a 
bread pill or a dose of colored water, to keep the pa 
tient s mind easy while imagination helps nature to per 
fect a cure. As for the quacks, patent medicines and 
universal remedies, I need only mention their names. 
Prince Hohenlohe, Valentine Greatrakes, John St. John 
Long, Doctor Graham and his w r onderful bed, Mesmer 
and his tub, Perkins metallic tractors these are 
half a dozen. Modern history knows of hundreds of 

It would almost seem as if human delusions became 
more unreasoning and abject in proportion as their sub 
ject is of greater importance. A machine, a story, an 
animal skeleton, are not so very important. But the 
humbugs which have prevailed about that wondrous 
machine, the human body, its ailments and its cures, 
about the unspeakable mystery of human life, and still 


more about the far greater and more awful mysteries 
of the life beyond the grave, and the endless happi 
ness and misery believed to exist there, the humbugs 
about these have been infinitely more absurd, more 
shocking, more unreasonable, more inhuman, more de 

I can only allude to whole sciences (falsely so called) 
which are unrningled humbugs from beginning to end. 
Such was Alchemy, such was Magic, such was and still 
is Astrology, and above all, Fortune-telling. 

But there is a more thorough humbug than any of 
these enterprises or systems. The greatest humbug of 
all is the man who believes or pretends to believe 
that everything and everybody are humbugs. We 
sometimes meet a person who professes that there is no 
virtue ; that every man has his price, and every wo 
man hers ; that any statement from anybody is just as 
likely to be false as true, and that the only way to de 
cide which, is to consider whether truth or a lie was 
likely to have paid best in that particular case. Relig 
ion he thinks one of the smartest business dodges ex 
tant, a firstrate investment, and by all odds the most 
respectable disguise that a lying or swindling business 
man can wear. Honor he thinks is a sham. Honesty 
he considers a plausible word to flourish in the eyes of 
the greener portion of our race, as you would hold out 
a cabbage leaf to coax a donkey. What people want, he 
thinks, or says he thinks, is something good to eat, 
something good to drink, fine clothes, luxury, laziness, 
wealth. If you can imagine a hog s mind in a man s 
body sensual, greedy, selfish, cruel, cunning, sly, 


coarse, yet stupid, short-sighted, unreasoning, unable 
to comprehend anything except what, concerns the 
flesh, you have your man. He thinks himself philo 
sophic and practical, a man of the world; he thinks to 
show knowledge and wisdom, penetration, cJ e P ac 
quaintance with men and things. Poor fellow I he has 
exposed his own nakedness. Instead of showing that 
others are rotten inside, he has proved that lie is. He 
claims that it is not safe to believe others - it is per 
fectly safe to disbelieve him. He claims that every 
man will get the better of you if possible let him 
alone ! Selfishness, he says, is the universal rule leave 
nothing to depend on his generosity or honor ; trust 
him just as far as you can sling an elephant by the tail. 
A bad world, he sneers, full of deceit and nastiness 
it is his own foul breath that he smells ; only a thor 
oughly corrupt heart could suggest such vile thoughts. 
He sees only what suits him, as a turkey-buzzard spies 
only carrion, though amid the loveliest landscape. I 
pronounce him who thus virtually slanders his father 
and dishonors his mother and defiles the sanctities of 
home and the glory of patriotism and the merchant s 
honor and the martyr s grave and the saint s crown 
who does not even know that every sham shows that 
there is a reality, and that hypocrisy is the homage 
that vice pays to virtue I pronounce him no, I do 
not pronounce him a humbug, the word does not apply 
to him. He is a fool. 

Looked at on one side, the history of humbug is 
truly humiliating to intellectual pride, yet the long silly 
story is less absurd during the later ages of history, 


and grows less and less so in proportion to the spread 
of real Christianity. This religion promotes good 
sense, actual knowledge, contentment with what we 
cannot help, and the exclusive use of intelligent means 
for increasing human happiness and decreasing human 

sorrow. /And whenever the time shall come when men 
are kind and just and honest ; when they only want 
what is fair and right, judge only on real and true ev 
idence, and take nothing for granted, then there will be 
no place left for any humbugs, either harmless or hurt 



Upon a careful consideration of my undertaking to 
give an account of the " Humbugs of the World, I 
find myself somewhat puzzled in regard to the true 
definition of that word. To be sure, Webster says 
that humbug, as a noun, is an " imposition under fair 
pretences ; " and as a verb, it is " to deceive ; to im 
pose on." With all due deference to Doctor Webster, 
I submit that, according to present usage, this is not the 
only, nor even the generally accepted definition of that 

We w r ill suppose, for instance, that a man with " fair 
pretences " applies to a wholesale merchant for credit 
jn a large bill of goods. His " fair pretences " compre- 


hend an assertion that he is a moral and religious man, 
a member of the church, a man of wealth, etc., etc. 
It turns out that he is not worth a dollar, but is a base, 
lying wretch, an impostor and a cheat. He is arrested 
and imprisoned " for obtaining property under false 
pretences " or, as Webster says, " fair pretences." He 
is punished for his villainy. The public do not call 
him a " humbug ; " they very properly term him a 

A man, bearing the appearance of a gentleman in 
dress and manners, purchases property from you, and 
with " fair pretences " obtains your confidence. You 
find, when he has left, that he paid you with counter 
feit bank-notes, or a forged draft. This man is justly 
called a " forger," or " counterfeiter ; " and if arrested, 
he is punished as such ; but nobody thinks of calling 
him a " humbug." 

A respectable-looking man sits by your side in an 
omnibus or rail-car. He converses fluently, and is evi 
dently a man of intelligence and reading. He attracts 
your attention by his " fair pretences." Arriving at 
your journey s end, you miss your watch and your 
pocket-book. Your fellow passenger proves to be the 
thief. Everybody calls him a " pickpocket," and not 
withstanding his " fair pretences," not a person in the 
community calls him a " humbug." 

Two actors appear as stars at two rival theatres. 
They are equally talented, equally pleasing. One ad 
vertises himself simply as a tragedian, under his proper 
name the other boasts that he is a prince, and wears 
decorations presented by all the potentates of the world, 


including the " King of the Cannibal Islands." He is 
correctly set down as a " humbug," while tins term is 
never applied to the other actor. But if the man who 
boasts of having received a foreign title is a miserable 
actor, and he gets up gift-enterprises and bogus enter 
tainments, or pretends to devote the proceeds of his 
tragic efforts to some charitable object, without, in fact, 
doing so he is then a humbug in Dr. Webster s sense 
of that word, for he is an " impostor under fair pre 

Two physicians reside in one of our fashionable av 
enues. They were both educated in the best medical 
colleges ; each has passed an examination, received his 
diploma, and been dubbed an M. D. They are- equally 
skilled in the healing art. One rides quietly about the 
city in his gig or brougham, visiting his patients with 
out noise or clamor the other sallies out in his coach 
and four, preceded by a band of music, and his car 
riage and horses are covered with handbills and pla 
cards, announcing his " wonderful cures." This man 
is properly called a quack and a humbug. Why ? 
Not because he cheats or imposes upon the public, for 
he does not, but because, as generally understood, 
" humbug " consists in putting on glittering appear 
ances outside show novel expedients, by which 
to suddenly arrest public attention, and attract the 
public eye and ear. 

Clergymen, lawyers, or physicians, who should re 
sort to such methods of attracting the public, would 
not, for obvious reasons, be apt to succeed. Bankers, 
insurance-agents, and others, who aspire to become the 


custodians of the money of their fellow-men, would re 
quire a different species of advertising from this ; but 
there are various trades and occupations which need 
only notoriety to insure success, always provided that 
when customers are once attracted, they never fail to 
get their money s worth. An honest man who thus 
arrests public attention will be called a " humbug," but 
he is not a swindler or an impostor. If, however, after 
attracting crowds of customers by his unique displays, 
a man foolishly fails to give them a full equivalent for 
their money, they never patronize him a second time, 
but they very properly denounce him as a swindler, a 
cheat, an impostor ; they do not, however, call 
him a " humbug." He fails, not because he advertises 
his wares in an outre manner, but because, after at 
tracting crowds of patrons, he stupidly and wickedly 
cheats them. 

When the great blacking-maker of London dispatch 
ed his agent to Egypt to write on the pyramids of 
Ghiza, in huge letters, " Buy Warren s Blacking, 
30 Strand, London," he was not " cheating" travelers 
upon the Nile. His blacking was really a superior arti 
cle, and well worth the price charged for it, but he was 
" humbugging " the public by this queer way of arrest 
ing attention. It turned out just as he anticipated, 
that English travelers in that part of Egypt were indig 
nant at this desecration, and they wrote back to the 
London Times (every Englishman writes or threatens 
to " write to the Times," if anything goes wrong,) de 
nouncing the " Goth " who had thus disfigured these 
ancient pyramids by writing on them in monstrous 


letters : " Buy Warren s Blacking, 30 Strand, London." 
The Times published these letters, and backed them up 
by several of those awful, grand and dictatorial editori 
als peculiar to the great " Thunderer," in which the 
blacking-maker, " Warren, 30 Strand," was stigma 
tized as a man who had no respect for the ancient pa 
triarchs, and it was hinted that he would probably not 
hesitate to sell his blacking on the sarcophagus of Pha 
raoh, " or any other " mummy, if he could only 
make money by it. In fact, to cap the climax, Warren 
was denounced as a " humbug." These .indignant ar 
ticles were copied into all the Provincial journals, and 
very soon, in this manner, the columns of every news 
paper in Great Britain were teeming with this advice : 
" Try Warren s Blacking, 30 Strand, London." The 
curiosity of the public was thus aroused, and they did 
" try " it, and finding it a superior article, they contin 
ued to purchase it and recommend it to their friends, 
and Warren made a fortune by it. He always attribu 
ted his success to his having " humbugged " the public 
by this unique method of advertising his blacking in 
Egypt ! But Warren did not cheat his customers, nor 
practice " an imposition under fair pretences." He_vva 
a humbug, but he was an honest upright man, and no 
one called him an impostor or a cheat. 

When the tickets for Jenny Lind s first concert in 
America were sold at auction, several business-men, as 
piring to notoriety, " bid high " for the first ticket. It 
was finally knocked down to " Genin, the hatter," for 
$225. The journals in Portland (Maine) and Houston 
(Texas,) and all other journals throughout the United 


States, between these two cities, which were connected 
with the telegraph, announced the fact in their columns 
the next morning. Probably two millions of readers 
read the announcement, and asked, " Who is Genin, 
the hatter? " Genin became famous in a day. Every 
man involuntarily examined his hat, to see if it was 
made by Genin ; and an Iowa editor declared that one 
of his neighbors discovered the name of Genin in his 
old hat and immediately announced the fact to his 
neighbors in front of the Post Office. It was suggest 
ed that the old hat should be sold at auction. It was 
done then and there, and the Genin hat sold for four 
teen dollars ! Gentlemen from city and country rush 
ed to Genin s store to buy their hats, many of them 
willing to pay even an extra dollar, if necessary, pro 
vided they could get a glimpse of Genin himself. This 
singular freak put thousands of dollars into the pocket 
of " Genin, the hatter," and yet I never heard it 
charged that he made poor hats, or that he would be 
guilty of an " imposition under fair pretences." On 
the contrary, he is a gentleman of probity, and of the 
first respectability. 

When the laying of the Atlantic Telegraph was nearly 
completed, I was in Liverpool. I offered the company 
one thousand pounds sterling ($5,000) for the privi 
lege of sending the first twenty words over the cable to 
my Museum in New York not that there was any in 
trinsic merit in the words, but that I fancied there was 
more than $5,000 worth of notoriety in the operation. 
But Queen Victoria and " Old Buck " were ahead of 
me. Their messages had the preference, and I was 
compelled to " take a back seat. * 


By thus illustrating what I believe the public will 
concede to be the sense in which the word " humbug " 


is generally used and understood at the present time, in 
this country as well as in England, I do not propose 
that my letters on this subject shall be narrowed down 
to that definition of the word. On the contrary, -I ex 
pect to treat of various fallacies, delusions, and decep 
tions in ancient and modern times, which, according to 
Webster s definition, may be called "humbugs," inas 
much as they were " impositions under fair pretences." 

In writing of modern humbugs, however, I shall 
sometimes have occasion to give the names of honest 
and respectable parties now living, and I felt it but just 
that the public should fully comprehend my doctrine, 
that a man may, by common usage, be termed a " hum 
bug," without by any means impeaching his integrity. 

Speaking of " blacking-makers," reminds me that one 
of the first sensationists in advertising whom I remem 
ber to have seen, was Mr. Leonard Gosling, known as 
" Monsieur Gosling, the great French blacking-maker." 
He appeared in New York in 1830. He flashed like a 
meteor across the horizon ; and before he had been in 
the city three months, nearly everybody had heard of 
" Gosling s Blacking." I well remember his magnifi 
cent " four in hand." A splendid team of blood bays, 
with long black tails, was managed with such dexterity 
by Gosling himself, who was a great " whip," that they 
almost seemed to fly. The carriage was emblazoned 
with the words " Gosling s Blacking," in large gold 
letters, and the whole turnout was so elaborately orna 
mented and bedizened that everybody stopped and 


gazed with wondering admiration. A bugle-player or 
a band of music always accompanied the great Gosling, 
and, of course, helped to attractt he public attention to 
his establishment. At the turning of every street- 
corner your eyes rested upon " Gosling s Blacking." 
From every show-window gilded placards discoursed 
eloquently of the merits of u Gosling s Blacking." 
The newspapers teemed with poems written in its 
praise, and showers of pictorial handbills, illustrated 
almanacs, and tinseled souvenirs, all lauding the vir 
tues of " Gosling s Blacking," smothered you at every 

The celebrated originator of delineations, " Jim 
Crow Rice," made his first appearance at Hamblin s 
Bowery Theatre at about this time. The crowds which 
thronged there were so great that hundreds from the 
audience were frequently admitted upon the stage. In 
one of his scenes, Rice introduced a negro boot-blacking 
establishment. Gosling was too " wide awake " to let 
such an opportunity pass unimproved, and Rice was 
paid for singing an original black Gosling ditty, while a 
score of placards bearing the inscription, " Use Gos 
ling s Blacking," were suspended at different points in 
this negro boot polishing hall. Everybody tried " Gos 
ling s Blacking ; " and as it was a really good article, 
his sales in city and country soon became immense ; 
Gosling made a fortune in seven years, and retired but, 
as with thousands before him, it was " easy come easy 
go." He engaged in a lead-mining speculation, and it 
was generally understood that his fortune was, in a 
great measure, lost as rapidly as it was made. 


Here let me digress, in order to observe that one of 
the most difficult things in life is for men to bear dis 
creetly sudden prosperity. Unless considerable time 
and labor are devoted to earning money, it is not appre 
ciated by its possessor ; and, having no practical knowl 
edge of the value of money, he generally gets rid of it 
with the same ease that marked its accumulation. Mr. 
Astor gave the experience of thousands when he said 
that he found more difficulty in earning and saving his 
first thousand dollars than in accumulating all the sub 
sequent millions which finally made up his fortune. 
The very economy, perseverance, and discipline which 
he was obliged to practice, as he gained his money dol 
lar by dollar, gave him a just appreciation of its value, 
and thus led him into those habits of industry, pru 
dence, temperance, and untiring diligence so conducive 
and necessary to his future success. 

Mr. Gosling, however, was not a man to be put down 
by a single financial reverse. He opened a store in 
Canajoharie, N. Y., which was burned, and on which 
there was no insurance. He came a^ain to New York 


in 1839, and established a restaurant, where, by devot 
ing the services of himself and several members of his 
family assiduously to the business, he soon reveled in 
his former prosperity, and snapped his fingers in glee 
at what unreflecting persons term " the freaks of Dame 
Fortune." He is still living in New York, hale and 
heartj at the age of seventy. Although called a 
" French " blacking-maker, Mr. Gosling is in reality a 
Dutchman, having been born in the city of Amster 
dam, Holland. He is the father of twenty-four child- 


ren, twelve of whom are still living, to cheer him in 
his declining years, and to repay him in grateful atten 
tions for the valuable lessons of prudence, integrity, 
and industry through the adoption of which they are 
honored as respectable and worthy members of society. 

I cannot however permit this chapter to close with 
out recording a protest in principle against that method 
of advertising of which Warren s on the Pyramid is an 
instance. Not that it is a crime or even an immorality 
in the usual sense of the words ; but it is a violent 
offence against good taste, and a selfish and inexcusable 
destruction .of other people s enjoyments. No man 
ought to advertise in the midst of landscapes or scenery, 
in such a way as to destroy or injure their beauty by 
introducing totally incongruous and relatively vulgar 
associations. Too many transactions of the sort have 
been perpetrated in our own country. The principle 
on which the thing is done is, to seek out the most at 
tractive spot possible the wildest, the most lovely, 
and there, in the most staring and brazen manner to 
paint up advertisements of quack medicines, rum, or as 
the case may be, in letters of monstrous size, in the 
most obtrusive colors, in such a prominent place, and in 
such a lasting way as to destroy the beauty of the 
scene both thoroughly and permanently. 

Any man with a beautiful wife or daughter would 
probably feel disagreeably, if he should find branded in 
delibly across her smooth white forehead, or on her 
snowy shoulder in blue and red letters such a phrase as 
this : " Try the Jigamaree Bitters ! " Very much like 
this is the sort of advertising I am speaking of. It is 


not likely that I shall be charged with squeamishness 
on this question. I can readily enough see the selfish 
ness and vulgarity of this particular sort of advertising, 

It is outrageously selfish to destroy the pleasure of 
thousands, for the sake of a chance of additional gain. 
And it is an atrocious piece of vulgarity to flaunt the 
names of quack nostrums, and of the coarse stimulants 
of sots, among the beautiful scenes of nature. The 
pleasure of such places depends upon their freedom 
from the associations of every day concerns and trou 
bles and weaknesses. A lovely nook of forest scenery, 
or a grand rock, like a beautiful woman, depends for 
much of its attractiveness upon the attendant sense of 
freedom from whatever is low ; upon a sense of purity 
and of romance. And it is about as nauseous to find 
" Bitters " or " Worm Syrup " daubed upon the land 
scape, as it would be upon the lady s brow. 

Since writing this I observe that two legislatures 
those of New Hampshire and New York have passed 
laws to prevent this dirty misdemeanor. It is greatly 
to their credit, and it is in good season. For it is mat 
ter of wonder that some more colossal vulgarian has 
not stuck up a sign a mile long on the Palisades. But 
it is matter of thankfulness too. At the White Moun 
tains, many grand and beautiful views have been 
spoiled by these nostrum and bedbug souled fellows. 

It is worth noticing that the chief haunts of the city 
of New York, the Central Park, has thus far remained 
unviolated by the dirty hands of these vulgar adver 
tisers. Without knowing anything about it, I have 


no doubt whatever that the commissioners have been 
approached often by parties desiring the privilege of 
advertising within its limits. Among the advertising 
fraternity it would be thought a gigantic opportunity to 
be able to flaunt the name of some bug-poison, fly- 
killer, bowel-rectifier, or disguised rum, along the walls 
of the Reservoir ; upon the delicate stone-work of the 
Terrace, or the graceful lines of the Bow Bridge ; to 
nail up a tin sign on every other tree, to stick one up 
right in front of every seat ; to keep a gang of young 
wretches thrusting pamphlet or handbill into every per 
son s palm that enters the gate, to paint a vulgar sign 
across every gray rock ; to cut quack words in ditch- 
work in the smooth green turf of the mall or ball- 
ground. I have no doubt that it is the peremptory de 
cision and clear good taste of the Commissioners alone, 
which have kept this last retreat of nature within our 
crowded city from being long ago plastered and daubed 
with placards, handbills, sign-boards and paint, from 
side to side and from end to end, over turf, tree, rock, 
wall, bridge, archway, building and all. 


One of the most original, unique, and successful hum 
bugs of the present day was the late Monsieur Mangin, 
the blacklead pencil maker of Paris. Few persons 
who have visited the French capital within the last ten 


or twelve years can have failed to have seen him, and 
once seen he was not to be forgotten. While passing 
through the public streets, there was nothing in his 
personal appearance to distinguish him from any ordi 
nary gentlemen. He drove a pair of bay horses, at 
tached to an open carriage with two seats, the back 
one always occupied by his valet. Sometimes he 
would take up his stand in the Champs Elysees ; at 
other times, near the column in the Place Vendome ; 
but usually he was seen in the afternoon in the Place 
de la Bastille, or the Place de la Madeleine. On Sun 
days, his favorite locality was the Place de la Bourse. 
Mangin was a well-formed, stately-looking individual, 
with a most self-satisfied countenance, which seemed to 
say : " I am master here ; and all that my auditors 
have to do is, to listen and obey." Arriving at his des 
tined stopping-place, his carriage halted. His servant 
handed him a case from which he took several large 
portraits of himselt, which he hung prominently upon 
the sides of his carriage, and also placed in front of him 
a vase filled with medals bearing his likeness on one 
side and a description of his pencils on the other. He 
then leisurely commenced a change of costume. His 
round hat was displaced by a magnificent burnished 
helmet, mounted with rich plumes of various brilliant 
colors. His overcoat was laid aside, and he donned in 
its stead a costly velvet tunic with gold fringes. He 
then drew a pair of polished steel gauntlets upon his 
hands, covered his breast with a brilliant cuirass, and 
placed a richly-mounted sword at his side. His ser 
vant watched him closely, and upon receiving a sign 


from his master, he too put on his official costume, 
which consisted of a velvet robe and a helmet. The 
servant then struck up a tune on the richly-toned or 
gan which always formed a part of Mangin s outfit. 
The grotesque appearance of these individuals, and the 
music, soon drew together an admiring crowd. 

Then the great charlatan stood upon his feet. His 
manner was calm, dignified, imposing, indeed almost 
solemn, for his face was as serious as that of the chief 
mourner at a funeral. His sharp, intelligent eye scru 
tinized the throng which was pressing around his car 
riage, until it rested apparently upon some particular 
individual, when he gave a start ; then, with a dark, 
angry expression, as if the sight w r as repulsive, he ab 
ruptly dropped the visor of his helmet and thus cov 
ered his face from the gaze of the anxious crowd. 
This bit of coquetry produced the desired effect in 
whetting the appetite of the multitude, who were im 
patiently waiting to hear him speak. When he had 
carried this kind of by-play as far as he thought the 
audience would bear it, he raised his hand, and his ser 
vant understanding the sign, stopped the organ. Man- 
gin then rang a small bell, stepped forward to the front 
of the carriage, gave a slight cough indicative of a 
preparation to speak, opened his mouth, but instantly 
giving a more fearful start and assuming a more sudden 
frown than before, he took his seat as if quite overcome 
by some unpleasant object which his eyes had rested 
upon. Thus far he had not spoken a word. At last 
the prelude ended, and the comedy commenced. Step 
ping forward again to the front of his carriage where 


all the gaping crowd could catch every word, he ex 
claimed : 

* Gentlemen, you look astonished ! You seem to 
wonder and ask yourselves who is this modern Quix- 
otte. What mean this costume of by-gone centuries 
this golden chariot these richly caparisoned steeds? 
What is the name and purpose of this curious knight- 
errant? Gentlemen, I will condescend to answer your 
queries. I am Monsieur Mangin, the great charlatan 
of France ! Yes, gentlemen, I am a charlatan a 
mountebank ; it is my profession, not from choice, but 
from necessity. You, gentlemen, created that necessi 
ty I You would not patronize true, unpretending, 
honest merit, but you are attracted by my glittering 
casque, my sweeping crest, my waving plumes. You 
are captivated by din and glitter, and therein lies my 
strength. Years ago, I hired a modest shop in the 
Rue Rivoli, but I could not sell pencils enough to pay 
my rent, whereas, by assuming this disguise it is 
nothing else I have succeeded in attracting general 
attention, and in selling literally millions of my pen 
cils ; and I assure you there is at this moment scarcely 
an artist in France 9r in Great Britian who don t know 
that I manufacture by far the best blacklead pencils 
ever seen." 

And this assertion was indeed true. His pencils 
were everywhere acknowledged to be superior to any 

While he was thus addressing his audience, he would 
take a blank card, and with one of his pencils would pre 
tend to be drawing the portrait of some man standing 


near him ; then showing his picture to the crowd, it 
proved to be the head of a donkey, which, of course, 
produced roars of laughter. 

" There, do you see what wonderful pencils these 
are ? Did you ever behold a more striking likeness ? " 

/ O 

A hearty laugh would be sure to follow, and then he 
would exclaim : " Now who will have the first pencil 
only five sous." One would buy, and then another ; a 
third and a fourth would follow ; and with the delivery 
of each pencil he would rattle off a string of witti 
cisms which kept his patrons in capital good-humor ; 
and frequently he would sell from two hundred to five 
hundred pencils in immediate succession. Then he 
would drop down in his carriage for a few minutes and 
wipe the perspiration from his face, while his servant 
played another overture on the organ. This gave his 
purchasers a chance to withdraw, and afforded a good 
opportunity for a fresh audience to congregate. Then 
would follow- a repetition of his previous sales, and in 
this way he \vould continue for hours. To those dis 
posed to have a souvenir of the great humbug he would 
sell six pencils, a medal and a photograph of himself 
for a franc (twenty cents.) After taking a rest he 
would commence a new speech. 

" When I was modestly dressed, like any of my 
hearers, I was half starved. Punch and his bells 
would attract crowds, but my good pencils attracted 
nobody. I imitated Punch and his bells, and now I 
have two hundred depots in Paris. I dine at the best 
cafe s, drink the best wine, live on the best of every 
thing, while my defamers get poor and lank, as they 


deserve to be. Who are my defamers ? Envious 
swindlers I Men who try to ape me, but are too stupid 
and too dishonest to succeed. They endeavor to at 
tract notice as mountebanks, and then foist upon the 
public worthless trash, and hope thus to succeed. Ah ! 
defamers of mine, you are fools as well as knaves. 
Fools, to think that any man can succeed by systemat 
ically and persistently cheating the public. Knaves, 
for desiring the public s money without giving them an 
equivalent. I am an honest man. I have no bad hab 
its ; and I now declare, if any trader, inventor, manu 
facturer, or philanthropist will show me better pencils 
than mine, I will give him l,000f. no, not to him, 
for I abhor betting but. to the poor of the Thirty- 
first Arrondissement, where "I live." 

Mangin s harangues were always accompanied by a 
peculiar play of feature and of voice, and with unique 
and original gestures, which seemed to excite and cap 
tivate his audience. 

About seven years ago, I met him in one of the 
principal restaurants in the Palais Royale. A mutual 
friend introduced me. 

u Ah ! " said he, " Monsieur Barnum, I am delight 
ed to see you. I have read your book with infinite 
satisfaction. It has been published here in numerous 
editions. I see you have the right idea of things. 
Your motto is a good one we study to please. I 
have much wanted to visit America ; but I cannot 
speak English, so I must remain in my dear belle 

I remarked that I had often seen him in public, and 
bought his pencils, 


" Aha ! you never saw better pencils. You know I 
could never maintain my reputation if I sold poor pen 
cils. But sacre bleu, my miserable would-be imitators 
do not know our grand secret. First, attract the pub 
lic by din and tinsel, by brilliant sky-rockets and Ben- 
ola lights, then give them as much as possible for 
their money." 

"You are very happy," I replied, "in your manner 
of attracting the public. Your costume is elegant, 
your chariot is superb, and your valet and music are 
sure to draw." 

" Thank you for your compliment, Mr. B., but I 
have not forgotten your Buffalo-hunt, your Mermaid, 
nor your Woolly Horse. They were a good offset to 
my rich helmet and sword, my burnished gauntlets. and 
gaudy cuirass. Both are intended as advertisements 
of something genuine, and both answer the purpose." 

After comparing notes in this way for an hour, we 
parted, and his last words were : 

" Mr. B., I have got a grand humbug in my head, 
which I shall put in practice within a year, and it shall 
double the sale of my pencils. Don t ask me what it 
is, but within one year you shall see it for yourself, and 
you shall acknowledge Monsieur Mangin knows some 
thing of human nature. My idea is magnifique, but it 
is one grand secret." 

I confess my curiosity was somewhat excited, and I 
hoped that Monsieur Mangin would " add another 
wrinkle to my horns." But, poor fellow ! within four 
months after I bade him adieu, the Paris newspapers 
announced his sudden death. They added that he had 


left two hundred thousand francs, which he had given 
in his will to charitable objects. The announcement 
was copied into nearly all the papers on the Continent 
and in Great Britain^ for almost everybody had seen 
or heard of the eccentric pencil maker. 

His death caused many an honest sigh, and his ab 
sence seemed to cast a gloom over several of his favor 
ite halting-places. The Parisians really loved him, and 
were proud of his genius. 

" Well," people in Paris would remark, " Man gin 
was a clever fellow. He was shrewd, and possessed a 
thorough knowledge of the world. He was a gentle 
man and a man of intelligence, extremely agreeable 
and witty. His habits were good ; he was charitable. 
He never cheated anybody. He always sold a good 
article, and no person who purchased from him had 
cause to complain." 

I confess I felt somewhat chagrined that the Mon 
sieur had thus suddenly taken " French leave " with 
out imparting to me the " grand secret " by which he 
was to double the sales of his pencils. But I had not 
long to mourn on that account ; for after Monsieur 
Mangin had been for six months as they say of 
John Brown " mouldering in his grave " judge of 
the astonishment and delight of all Paris at his re 
appearance in his native city in precisely the same cos 
tume and carriage as formerly, and heralded by the 
same servant and organ that had always attended him. 
It now turned out that Monsieur Mangin had lived in 
the most rigid seclusion for half a year, and that the 
extensively-circulated announcements of his sudden 


death had been made by himself, merely as an " adver 
tising dodge " to bring him still more into notice, and 
give the public something to talk about. I met Man- 
o-in in Paris soon after this event. 


" Aha, Monsieur Barnum ! " he exclaimed, " did I 
not tell you I had a new humbug that would double 
the sales of my pencils ? I assure you my sales are 
more than quadrupled, and it is sometimes impossible 
to have them manufactured fast enough to supply the 
demand. You Yankees are very clever, but by gar, 
none of you have discovered you should live all the 
better if you would die. for six months. It took Man- 
gin to teach you that." 

The patronizing air with which he made this speech, 
slapping me at the same time familiarly upon the back, 
showed him in his true character of egotist. Although 
good-natured and social to a degree, he was really one 
of the most self-conceited men I ever met. 

Monsieur Mangin died the present year, and it is 
said that his heirs received more than half a million of 
frances as the fruit of his eccentric labors. 


James C. Adams, or " Grizzly Adams," as he was 
generally termed, from the fact of his having captured 

* Although the subject of the following sketch can hardly be classed 
under the head of " Humbugs," he was an original genius, and a 
knowledge of some of his prominent traits seems appropriate in con 
nection Avith one or two other passages of this book. 


so many grizzly bears, and encountered such fearful 
perils by his unexampled daring, was an extraordinary 
character. For many years a hunter and trapper in 
the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, he acquired 
a recklessness which, added to his natural invincible 
courage, rendered him truly one of the most striking 
men of the age. He was emphatically what the Eng 
lish call a man of u pluck." In 1860, he arrived in 
New York with his famous collection of California ani 
mals, captured by himself, consisting of twenty or thir 
ty immense grizzly bears, at the head of which stood 
"Old Sampson" now in the American Museum 
wolves, half a dozen other species "of bear, California 
lions, tigers, buffalo, elk, etc., and Old Neptune, the 
great sea-lion, from the Pacific. 

Old Adams had trained all these monsters so that 
with him they were as docile as kittens, while many of 
the most ferocious among them would attack a stranger 
without hesitation, if he came within their grasp. In 
fact, the training of these animals was no fool s play, 
as Old Adams learned to his cost ; for the terrific blows 
which he received from time to time, while teaching 
them " docility," finally cost him his life. 

When Adams and his other wild beasts (for he was 
nearly as wild as any of them) arrived in New York, 
he called immediately at the Museum. He was dress 
ed in his hunter s suit of buckskin, trimmed with the 
skins and bordered with the hanging tails of small Rocky 
Mountain animaks ; his cap consisting of the skin of a 
wolf s head and shoulders, from which depended several 
tails as natural as life, and under which appeared his 


stiff bushy gray hair and his long white grizzly beard. 
In fact, Old Adams was quite as much of a show as 
his bears. They had come around Cape Horn on the 
clipper-ship Golden Fleece, and a sea-voyage of three 
and a half months had probably not added much to the 
beauty or neat appearance of the old bear-hunter. 

During our conversation, Grizzly Adams took off his 
cap, and showed me the top of his head. His skull 
was literally broken in. It had on various occasions 
been struck by the fearful paws of his grizzly students ; 
and the last blow, from the bear called "General Fre 
mont," had laid open his brain, so that its workings 
were plainly visible. I remarked that I thought that 
was a dangerous wound, and might possibly prove fatal. 

"Yes," replied Adams, "that will fix me out. It 
had nearly healed ; but old Fremont opened it for me, 
for the third or fourth time, before I left California, 
and he did his business so thoroughly, I m a used-up 
man. However, I reckon I may live six months or a 
year yet." 

This was spoken as coolly as if he had been talking 
about the life of a doo-. 


The immediate object of " Old Adams" in calling 
upon me was this. I had purchased one-half interest 
in his California menagerie from a man who had come 
by way of the Isthmus from California, and who claim 
ed to own an equal interest with Adams in the show. 
Adams declared that the man had only advanced hiui 
some money, and did not possess the right to sell half 
of the concern. However, the man held a bill of sale 
for one-half of the " California Menagrie," and Old 


Adams finally consented to accept me as an equal part 
ner in the speculation, saying that he guessed I could 
do the managing part, and he would show up the ani 
mals. I obtained a canvas tent, and erecting it on the 
present site of Wallack s Theatre, Adams there open 
ed his novel California Menagerie. On the mornino- 

O T) 

of opening, a band of music preceded a procession of 
animal-cages, down Broadway and up the Bowery; 
Old Adams dressed in his hunting costume, heading the 
line, with a platform-wagon on which were placed three 
immense grizzly bears, two of which he held by chains, 
while he was mounted on the back of the largest griz 
zly, which stood in the centre, and was not secured in 
any manner whatever. This was the bear known as 
" General Fremont ; " and so docile had he become that 
Adams said he had used him as a packbear to carry his 
cooking and hunting apparatus through the mountains 
for six months, and had ridden him hundreds of miles. 
But apparently docile as were many of these animals, 
there was not one among them that would not occa- 


sionally give even Adams a sly blow or a sly bite when 
a good chance offered ; hence Old Adams was but a 
wreck of his former self, and expressed pretty nearly 
the truth when he said : 

" Mr. Barnum, I am not the man I was five years 
ago. Then I felt able to stand the hug of any grizzly 
living, and was always glad to encounter, single-hand 
ed, any sort of an animal that dared present himself. 
But I have been beaten to a jelly, torn almost limb 
from limb, and nearly chawed up and spit out by these 
treacherous grizzly bears. However, I am good for a 


few months yet, and by that time I hope we shall gain 
enough to make my old woman comfortable, for I have 
been absent from her some years." 

His wife came from Massachusetts to New York, and 
nursed him. Dr. Johns dressed his wounds every day, 
and not only told Adams he could never recover, but 
assured his friends that probably a very few weeks 
would lay him in his grave. 

But Adams was as firm as adamant and as resolute 
as a lion. Amono; the thousands who saw him dressed 


in his grotesque hunter s suit, and witnessed the appar 
ent vigor with which he " performed " the savage mon 
sters, beating and whipping them into apparently the 
most perfect docility, probably not one suspected that 
this rough, fierce-looking, powerful demi-savage, as he 
appeared to be, was suffering intense pain from his 
broken skull and fevered system, and that nothing kept 
him from stretchino- himself on his deathbed but that 


most indomitable and extraordinary will of his. 

After the exhibition had been open six weeks, the 
Doctor insisted that Adams should sell out his share in 
the animals and settle up all his worldly affairs ; for he* 
assured him that he was growing weaker every day, 
and his earthly existence must soon terminate. 

" I shall live a good deal longer than you doctors 
think for," replied Adams, doggedly ; and then, seem 
ing after all to realize the truth of the Doctor s asser 
tion, he turned tome and said: " Well, Mr. B., you 
must buy me out. " He named his price for his half 
of the " show," and I accepted his offer . We had ar 
ranged to exhibit the bears in Connecticut and Massa- 


chusetts during the summer, in connection with a cir 
cus, and Adams insisted that I should hire him to travel 
for the summer, and exhibit the bears in their curious 
performances. He offered to go for $60 per week and 
traveling expenses of himself and wife. 

I replied that I would gladly engage him as long as 
he could stand it, but I advised him to give up business 
and go to his home in Massachusetts ; " for," I remark 
ed, " you are growing weaker every day, and at best 
cannot stand it more than a fortnight." 


" What will you give me extra if I will travel and 
exhibit the bears every day for ten weeks ? " asked old 
Adams, eagerly. 

" Five hundred dollars," I replied, with a laugh. 

" Done ! " exclaimed Adams. " I will do it ; so 
draw up an agreement to that effect at once. But mind 
you, draw it payable to my wife, for I may be too weak 
to attend to business after the ten weeks are up, and if 
I perform my part of the contract, I want her to get 
the $500 without any trouble." 

I drew up a contract to pay him $60 per week for 
his services, and if he continued to exhibit the bears 
for ten consecutive weeks I was then to hand him, or 
his wife $500 extra. 

" You have lost your $500 ! " exclaimed Adams on 
taking the contract ; " for I am bound to live and earn 

" I hope you may, with all my heart, and a hundred 
years more if you desire it," I replied. 

" Call me a fool if I don t earn the $500 ! " exclaim 
ed Adams, with a triumphant laugh. 


The " show" started off in a few days, and at the 
end of a fortnight I met it at Hartford, Connecticut. 

" Well," says I, " Adams, you seem to stand it pret 
ty well. I hope you and your wife are comfortable ? " 

" Yes," he replied, with a laugh ; " and you may as 
well try to be comfortable too, for your $500 is a 

" All right," I replied ; " I hope you will grow bet 
ter every day." 

But I saw by his pale face, and other indications, 
that he was rapidly failing. 

In three weeks more, I met him again at New Bed 
ford, Mass. It seemed to me, then, that he could not 
live a week, for his eyes were glassy and his hands 
trembled, but his pluck was great as ever. 

" This hot weather is pretty bad for me," he said, 
" but my ten weeks are half expired, and I am good 
for your $500, and, probably, a month or two longer." 

This was said with as much bravado as if he was 
offering to bet upon a horse-race. I offered to pay him 
half of the $500 if he would give up and go home ; 
but he peremptorily declined making any compromise 

I met him the ninth week in Boston. He had failed 
considerably since I last saw him, but he still continued 
to exhibit the bears and chuckled over his almost cer 
tain triumph. I laughed in return, and sincerely con 
gratulated him on his nerve and probable success. I 
remained with him until the tenth week was finished, 
and handed him his $500. He took it with a leer of 
satisfaction, and remarked, that he was sorry I was a 
teetotaller, for he would like to stand treat ! 


Just before the menagerie left New York, I had paid 
$150 for a new hunting-suit, made of beaver-skins sim 
ilar to the one which Adams had worn. This I in- 
t tended for Herr Driesbach, the animal-tamer, who was 
engaged by me to take the place of Adams whenever 
he should be compelled to give up. 

Adams, on starting from New York, asked me to 
loan this new dress to him to perform in once in a while 
in a fair day when we had a large audience, for his own 
costume was considerably soiled. I did so, and now 
when I handed him his $500 he remarked : 

" Mr. B., I suppose you are going to give me this 
new hunting-dress." 

" Oh no," I replied. " I got that for your successor, 
who will exhibit the bears to-morrow ; besides, you 
have no possible use for it." 

" Now, don t be mean, but lend me the dress, if you 
won t give it to me, for I want to wear it home to my 
native village." 

I could not refuse the poor old man anything, and I 
therefore replied : 

" Well, Adams, I will lend you the dress ; but you 
will send it back to me." 

" Yes, when I have done with it," he replied, with 
an evident chuckle of triumph. 

I thought to myself, he will soon be done with it, 
and replied : 

" That s all right." 

A new. idea evidently seized him, for, with a bright 
ening look of satisfaction, he said : 

" Now, Barnum, you have made a good thing out of 


the California menagerie, and so have I ; but you will 
make a heap more. So, if you won t give me this new 
hunter s dress, just draw a little writing, and sign it, 
saying that I may wear it until I have done with it." 

Of course, 1 knew that in a few days at longest he 
would be " done" with this world altogether, and, to 
gratify him, I cheerfully drew and signed the paper. 

" Come, old Yankee, I ve got you this time see if 
I hain t ! " exclaimed Adams, with a broad grin, as he 
took the paper. 

I smiled, and said : 

" All right, my dear fellow ; the longer you live, the 
better I shall like it." 

We parted, and he went to Neponset, a small town 
near Boston, where his wife and daughter lived. He 
took at once to his bed, and never rose from it again. 
The excitement had passed away, and his vital energies 
could accomplish no more. 

The fifth day after arriving home, the physician told 
him he could not live until the next morning. He re 
ceived the announcement in perfect calmness, and with 
the most apparent indifference ; then, turning to his 
wife, with a smile, he requested her to have him bur 
ied in the new hunting suit. 

" For," said he, " Barnum agreed to let me have it 
until I have done with it, and I was determined to fix 
his flint this time. He shall never see that dress again." 

His wife assured him that his request should be com 
plied with. He then sent for the clergyman, and thej 
spent several hours in communing together. 

Adams told the clergyman he had told some pretty 


big stories about his bears, but he had always endeav 
ored to do the straight thing between man and man. 
" I have attended preaching every day, Sundavs and 
all," said he, " for the last six years. Sometimes an 
old grizzly gave me the sermon, sometimes it was a 
panther ; often it was the thunder and lightning, the 
tempest, or the hurricane on the peaks of the Sierra 
Nevada, or in the gorges of the Rocky Mountains ; 
but whatever preached to me, it always taught me the 
majesty of the Creator, and revealed to me the undy 
ing and unchanging love of our kind Father in heaven. 
Although I am a pretty rough customer," continued 
the dying man, " I fancy my heart is in about the right 
place, and look with confidence to the blessed Saviour 
for that rest which I so much need, and which I have 
never enjoyed upon earth." He then desired the clergy 
man to pray with him, after which he grasped him by the 
hand, thanked him for his kindness, and bade him fare 

In another hour his spirit had taken its flight ; and 
it was said by those present that his face lighted up 
into a smile as the last breath escaped him, and that 
smile he carried into his grave. Almost his last words 
were : " Won t Barnum open his eyes when he finds I 
have humbugged him by being buried in his new 
hunting-dress ? " That dress was indeed the shroud 
in which he was entombed. 

And that was the last on earth of " Old Grizzly 





" Old Grizzly Adams " was quite candid when, in 
his last hours, he confessed to the clergyman that he 
had " told some pretty large stories about his bears." 
In fact, these " large stories " were Adam s " besetting 
sin." To hear him talk, one would suppose that he 
had seen and handled everything ever read or heard of. 
In fact, according to his story, California contained 
specimens of all things, animate and inanimate, to be 
found in any part of the globe. He talked glibly about 
California lions, California tigers, California leopards, 
California hyenas, California camels, and California 
hippopotami. He furthermore declared he had, on one 
occasion, seen a California elephant, " at a great dis 
tance," but it was "very shy," and he would not per 
mit himself to doubt that California giraffes existed 
somewhere in the neighborhood of the " tall trees." 

I was anxious to get a chance of exposing to Adams 
his weak point, and of showing him the absurdity of 
telling such ridiculous stories. A fit. occasion soon pre 
sented itself. One day, while engaged in my office at 
the Museum, a man with marked Teutonic features and 
accent approached the door and asked if I would like 
to buy a pair of living golden pigeons. 

" Yes," I replied, " I would like a flock of 4 golden 


pigeons/ if I could buy them for their weight in 
silver ; for there are no golden pigeons in existence, 
unless they are made from the pure metal." 

" You shall see some golden pigeons alive," he re 
plied, at the same time entering my office and closing 
the door after him. He then removed the lid from a 
small basket which he carried in his hand, and sure 
enough there were snugly ensconced a pair of beauti 
ful living ruff-necked pigeons, as yellow as saffron and 
as bright as a double eagle fresh from the mint. 

I confess I was somewhat staggered at this sight, and 
quickly asked the man where those birds came from. 

A dull, lazy smile crawled over the sober face of my 
German visitor, as he replied in a slow, guttural tone 
of voice : 

" What you think yourself? " 

Catching his meaning, I quickly answered : 

" I think it is a humbug? " 

" Of course, I know you will say so ; because you 
4 forstha such things better as any man living, so I 
shall not try to humbug you. I have color them my 

On further inquiry, I learned that this German was 
a chemist, and that he possessed the art of coloring 
birds any hue desired, and yet retain a natural gloss 
on the feathers, which gave every shade the appearance 
of reality. 

" I can paint a green pigeon or a blue pigeon, a gray 
pigeon or a black pigeon, a brown pigeon or a pigeon 
half blue and half green," said the German ; " and if 
you prefer it, I can paint them pink or purple, or give 


you a little of each color, and make you a rainbow pi 

The " rainbow pigeon " did not strike me as particu 
larly desirable ; but, thinking here was a good chance 
to catch " Grizzly Adams," I bought the pair of gold 
en pigeons for ten dollars, and sent them up to the 
" Happy Family," marked " Golden Pigeons from Cal 
ifornia." Mr. Taylor the great pacificator, who has 
charge of the Happy Family, soon came down in a state 
of perspiration. 

" Really, Mr* Barnum," said he, " I could not think 
of putting those elegant golden pigeons into the Happy 
Family they are too valuable a bird they might 
get injured they are by far the most beautiful pig 
eons I ever saw ; and as they are so rare, I would not 
jeopardize their lives for anything." 

" Well," I replied, " you may put them in a separate 
cage, properly labeled." 

Monsieur Guillaudeu, the naturalist and taxidermist 
of the Museum, has been attached to that establishment 
since the year it was founded, 1810. He is a French 
man, and has read everything upon Natural History 
that was ever published in his own or in the English 
language. He is now seventy-five years old, but is 
lively as a cricket, and takes as much interest in Natu 
ral History as he ever did. When he saw the " golden 
pigeons from California," he was considerably aston 
ished ! He examined them with great delight for .half 
an hour, expatiating upon their beautiful color, and the 
near resemblance which every feature bore to the Amer- 


lean ruff-neck pigeon. He soon came to my office and 
said : 

" Mr. B., these golden pigeons are superb, but they 
cannot be from California. Audubon mentions no such 
bird in his work upon American Ornithology." 

I told him he had better take Audubon home with 
him that night, and perhaps by studying him attentive 
ly he would see occasion to change his mind. 

The next day, the old naturalist called at my office 
and remarked : 

" Mr. B., those pigeons are a more rare bird than 
you imagine. They are not mentioned by Linnasus, 
Cuvier, Goldsmith, or any other writer on Natural His 
tory, so far as I have been able to discover. I expect 
they must have come from some unexplored portion of 

" Never mind," I replied, " we may get more light 
on the subject, perhaps, before long. We will continue 
to label them California Pigeons until we can fix 
their nativity elsewhere." 

The next morning, " Old Grizzly Adams." whos^ 
exhibition of bears was then open in Fourteenth street, 
happened to be passing through the Museum, when his 
eyes fell on the " Golden California Pigeons." He 
looked a moment and doubtless admired. He soon 
after came to my office. 

" Mr. B," said he, " you must let me have those 
California pigeons." 

" I can t spare them," I replied. 

" But you must spare them. All the birds and ani 
mals from California ought to be together. You own 


half of my California menagerie, and you must lend 
me those pigeons." 

" Mr. Adams, they are too rare and valuable a bird 
to be hawked about in that manner ; besides, I expect 
they will attract considerable attention here." 

" Oh, don t be a fool," replied Adams. " Rare bird, 
indeed ! Why, they are just as common in California 
as any other pigeon ! I could have brought a hundred 
of them from San Francisco, if I had thought of it." 

" But why did you not think of it ? " I asked, with 
a suppressed smile. 

" Because they are so common there," said Adams. 
" I did not think they would be any curiosity here. I 
have eaten them in pigeon-pies hundreds of times, and 
shot them by the thousand ! " 

I was ready to burst with laughter to see how readi 
ly Adams swallowed the bait, but maintaining the most 
rigid gravity, I replied : 

" Oh well, Mr. Adams, if they are really so common 
in California, you had probably better take them, and 
you may write over and have half a dozen pairs sent to 
me for the Museum." 

" All right," said Adams ; " I will send over to a f 
friend in San Francisco, and you shall have them here 
in a couple of months." 

I told Adams that, for certain reasons, I would pre 
fer to change the label so as to have it read : u Golden 
Pigeons from Australia." 

" Well, call them what you like," replied Adams ; 
" I suppose they are probably about as plenty in Au 
stralia as they are in California." 


I fancied I could discover a sly smile lurking in the 
eye of the old bear-hunter as he made this reply. 

The pigeons were labeled as I suggested, and this is 
how it happened that the Bridgeport non-believing lady, 
mentioned in the next chapter, was so much attracted 
as to solicit some of their eggs in order to perpetuate 
the species in old Connecticut. 

Six or eight weeks after this incident, I was in the 
California Menagerie, and noticed that the " Golden 
Pigeons " had assumed a frightfully mottled appearance. 
Their feathers had grown out, and they were half 
white. Adams had been so busy with his bears that he 
had not noticed the change. I called him up to the 
pigeon cage, and remarked : 

" Mr. Adams, I fear you will lose your Golden 
Pigeons ; they must be very sick ; I observe they are 
turning quite pale ! " 

Adams looked at them a moment with astonishment 
then turning to me, and seeing that I could not suppress 
a smile, he indignantly exclaimed : 

" Blast the Golden Pigeons ! You had better take 
them back to the Museum. You can t humbug me 
with your painted pigeons ! " 

This was too much, and " I laughed till I cried " to 
witness the mixed look of astonishment and vexation 
which marked the " grizzly " features of old Adams. 

44 These Golden Pigeons," I remarked, " are very 
common in California, I think I heard you say ? 
When do you expect my half-dozen pairs will arrive ? " 

" You go to thunder, you old humbug ! " replied 
Adams, as he marched off indignantly, and soon disap 
peared behind the cages of his grizzly bears. 


From that time, Adams seemed to be more careful 
about telling his large stories. Perhaps he was not 
cured altogether of his habit, but he took particular 
pains when making marvelous statements to have them 
of such a nature that they could not be disproved so 
easily as was that regarding the " Golden California 



If the fact could be definitely determined, I think it 
would be discovered that in this " wide awake " coun 
try there are more persons humbugged by believing too 
little than too much. Many persons have such a hor 
ror of being taken in, or such an elevated opinion of 
their own acuteness, that they believe everything to be 
a sham, and in this way are continually humbugging 

Several years since, I purchased a living white whale? 
captured near Labrador, and succeeded in placing it, 
" in good condition," in a large tank, fifty feet long, 
and supplied with salt water, in the basement of the 
American Museum. I was obliged to light the base 
ment with gas, and that frightened the sea-monster to 
such an extent that he kept at the bottom of the tank, 
except when he was compelled to stick his nose above 
the surface in order to breathe or " blow," and then 


down he would go again as quick as possible. Visitors 
would sometimes stand for half an hour, watching 
in vain to get a look at the whale ; for, although he 
could remain under water only about two minutes at a 
time, he would happen to appear in some unlocked fpr 
quarter of the huge tank, and before they could all get 
a chance to see him, he would be out of sight again. 
Some impatient and incredulous persons after waiting 
ten minutes, which seemed to them an hour, would 
sometimes exclaim : 

" Oh, humbug ! I don t believe there is a whale 
here at all ! " 

This incredulity often put me out of patience, and I 
would say : 

" Ladies and gentlemen, there is a living whale in 
the tank. He is frightened by the gaslight and by vis- 
tors ; but he is obliged to come to the surface every 
two minutes, and if you will watch sharply, you will 
see him. I am sorry we can t make him dance a horn 
pipe and do all sorts of wonderful things at the word 
of command ; but if you will exercise your patience a 
few minutes longer, I assure you the whale will be seen 
at considerably less trouble than it would be to go to 
Labrador expressly for that purpose." 

This would usually put my patrons in good humor ; 
but I was myself often vexed at the persistent stub 
bornness of the whale in not calmly floating on the sur 
face for the gratification of my visitors. 

One day, a sharp Yankee lady and her daughter? 
from Connecticut, called at the Museum. I knew them 
well ; and in answer to their inquiry for the locality of 


the whale, I directed them to the basement. Half an 
hour afterward, they called at my office, and the acute 
mother, in a half-confidential, serio-comic whisper, said : 

" Mr. B., it s astonishing to what a number of pur 
poses the ingenuity of us Yankees has applied India" 

I asked her meaning, and was soon informed that 
she was perfectly convinced that it was an india-rubber 
whale, worked by steam and machinery, by means of 
which he was made to rise to the surface at short inter 
vals, and puff with the regularity of a pair of bellows. 
From her earnest, confident manner, I saw it would be 
useless to attempt to disabuse her mind on the subject. 
I therefore very candidly acknowledged that she was 
quite too sharp for me, and I must plead guilty to the 
imposition ; but I begged her not to expose me, for I 
assured her that she was the only person who had dis 
covered the trick. 

It was worth more than a dollar to see with what a 
smile of satisfaction she received the assurance that no 
body else was as shrewd as herself; and the patronizing 
manner in which she bade me be perfectly tranquil, for 
the secret should be considered by her as " strictly con 
fidential," was decidedly rich. She evidently received 
double her money s worth in the happy reflection that 
she could not be humbugged, and % that I was terriblv 
humiliated in being detected through her marvelous 
powers of discrimination ! I occasionally meet the 
good lady, and always try to look a little sheepish, but 
she invariably assures me that she has never divulged 
my secret and never will ! 


On another occasion, a lady equally shrewd, who 
lives neighbor to me in Connecticut, after regarding for 
a few minutes the " Golden Angel Fish " swimming in 
one of the Aquaria, abruptly addressed me with : 

" You can t humbug me, Mr. Barnum ; that fish is 
painted ! ". 

" Nonsense ! " said I, with a laugh ; " the thing is 
impossible ! " 

" I don t care, I know it is painted ; it is as plain as 
can be." 

" But, my dear Mrs. H., paint would not adhere to 
a fish while in the water ; and if it would, it would 
kill him. Besides," I added, with an extra serious air, 
" we never allow humbugging here ! " 

" Oh, here is just the place to look for such things," 
she replied with a smile ; " and I must say I more than 
half believe that Angel Fish is painted." 

She was finally nearly convinced of her error, and 
left. In the afternoon of the same day, I met her in 
Old Adams California Menagerie. She knew that I 
was part-proprietor of that establishment, and seeing 
me in conversation with " Grizzly Adams," she came 
up to me in some haste, and with her eyes glistening 
with excitement, she said : 

" O, Mr. B., I never saw anything so beautiful as 
those elegant GoMen Pigeons from Australia. I 
want you to secure some of their eggs for me, and let 
my pigeons hatch them at home. I should prize them 
beyond all measure." 

" Oh, you don t want " Golden Australian Pigeons," 
I replied ; " they are painted." 


" No, they are not painted/ said she, with a laugh, 
" but I half think the Angel Fish is." 

I could not control myself at the curious coincidence, 
and I roared with laughter while I replied : 

44 Now, Mrs. H., I never let a good joke be spoiled, 
even if it serves to expose my own secrets. I assure 
you, upon honor, that the Golden Australian Pigeons, 
as they are labeled, are really painted ; and that in their 
natural state they are nothing more nor less than the 
common ruff-necked white American pigeons ! " 

And it was a fact. How they happened to be ex 
hibited under that auriferous disguise was owing to an 
amusing circumstance, explained in another chapter. 

Suffice it at present to say, that Mrs. H. to this day 
" blushes to her eyebrows " whenever an allusion is 
made to " Angel Fish " or " Golden Pigeons." 



In the year 1842, a new style of advertising appear- 
.ed in the newspapers and in handbills which arrested 
public attention at once on account of its novelty. The 
thing advertised was an article called " Pease s Hoar- 
hound Candy ; " a very good specific for coughs and 
colds. It was put up in twenty-five cent packages, and 
was eventually sold wholesale and retail in enormous 
quantities. Mr. Pease s system of advertising was one 


which, I believe, originated with him in this country, al 
though many have practiced it since, but of course, 
with less success for imitations seldom succeed. Mr. 
Pease s plan was to seize upon the most prominent topic 
of interest and general conversation, and discourse elo 
quently upon that topic in fifty to a hundred lines of a 
newspaper-column, then glide off gradually into a pan 
egyric of " Pease s Hoarhound Candy." The conse 
quence was, every reader was misled by the caption 
and commencement of his article, and thousands of 
persons had " Pease s Hoarhound Candy " in their 
mouths long before they had seen it ! In fact, it was 
next to impossible to take up a newspaper and attempt 
to read the legitimate news of the day without stum 
bling upon a package of Pease s Hoarhound Candy." 
The reader would often feel vexed to find that, after 
reading a quarter of a column of interesting news upon 
the subject uppermost in his mind, he was trapped into 
the perusal of one of Pease s hoarhound candy adver 
tisements. Although inclined sometimes to throw down 
the newspaper in disgust, he would generally laugh at 
the talent displayed by Mr. Pease in thus captivating 
and capturing the reader. The result of all this would 
generally be, a trial of the candy on the first premoni 
tory symptoms of a cough or influenza. The degree to 
which this system of advertising has since been carried 
has rendered it a bore and a nuisance. The usual re 
sult of almost any great and original achievement is, 
the production of a shoal of brainless imitators, who 
are " neither useful nor ornamental." 

In the same year that Pease s hoarhound candy ap- 


peared upon the commercial and newspaper horizon, the 
" Governor Dorr Rebellion " occurred in Rhode Island. 
As many will remember, this rebellion caused a great 
excitement throughout the country. Citizens of Rhode 
Island took up arms against each other, and it was 
feared by some that a bloody civil war would ensue. 

At about this time a municipal election was to come 
off in the city of Philadelphia. The two political par 
ties were pretty equally divided there, and there were 
some special causes why this was regarded as an unu 
sually important election. Its near approach caused 
more excitement in the " Quaker City " than had been 
witnessed there since the preceding Presidential elec 
tion. The party-leaders began to lay their plans early, 
and the wire-pullers on both sides were unusually busy 
in their vocation. At the head of the rabble upon 
which one of the parties depended for many votes, was 
a drunken and profane fellow, whom we will call Tom 
Simmons. Tom was great at electioneering and stump- 
spouting in bar-rooms and rum-caucuses, and his party 
always looked to him, at each election, to stir up the 
subterraneans "with a long pole" and a whiskey- 
jug at the end of it. 

The exciting election which was now to come off for 
Mayor and Aldermen of the good city of Brotherly 
Love soon brought several of the "ring" to Tom. 

" Now, Tom," said the head wire-puller, " this is 
going to be a close election, and we want you to spare 
neither talent nor liquor in arousing up and bringing to 
the polls every voter within your influence." 

" Well, Squire," replied Tom carelessly, " I ve con- 


eluded I won t bother myself with this lection it 
don t pay ! " 

" Don t pay ! " exclaimed the frightened politician. 
" Why, Tom, are you not a true friend to your party ? 
Haven t you always been on hand at the primary meet 
ings, knocked down interlopers, and squelched every 
man who talked about conscience, or who refused to 
support regular nominations, and vote the entire clean 
ticket straight through ? And as for pay, havn t you 
always been supplied with money enough to treat all 
doubtful voters, and in fact to float them up to the polls 
in an ocean of whiskey ? I confess Tom, I am almost 
petrified with astonishment at witnessing your present 
indifference to the alarming crisis in which our country 
and our party are involved, and which nothing on earth 
can avert, except our success at the coming election." 

" Oh, tell that to the marines," said Tom. " We 
never yet had an election that there wasn t a crisis, 
and yet, whichever party gained, we somehow managed 
to live through it, crisis or no crisis. In fact, my curi 
osity has got a little excited, and I would like to see 
this * crisis that is such a bugaboo at every election ; 
so trot out your crisis let us see how it looks. Be 
sides, talking of pay, I acknowledge the whiskey, and 
that is all. While I and my companions lifted you and 
your companions into fat offices that enabled you to 
roll in your carriages, and live on the fat of the land, 
we got nothing or. at least, next to nothing all 
we got was well we got drunk ! Now, Squire^ 
I will go for the other party this lection if you don t 
give me an office." 


" Give you an office ! " exclaimed the " Squire," 
raising his hands and rolling his eyes in utter amaze 
ment ; " why, Tom, what office do you want ? " 

" I want to be Alderman ! " replied Tom, u and I 
can control votes enough to turn the lection either 


way ; and if our party don t gratefully remember my 
past services and give me my reward, t other party will 
be glad to run me on their ticket, and over I go." 

The gentleman of the " ring " saw by Tom s firm 
ness and clenched teeth that he was immovable ; that 
his principles, like those of too many others, consisted 
of " loaves and fishes ; " they therefore consented to 
put Tom s name on the municipal ticket ; and the worst 
part of the story is, he was elected. 

In a very short time, Tom was duly installed into the 
Aldermanic chair, and, opening his office on a promi 
nent corner, he was soon doing a thriving business. 
He was generally occupied throughout the day in sit 
ting as a judge in cases of book debt and promissory 
notes which were brought before him, for various small 
sums ranging from two to five, six, eight, and ten dol 
lars. He would frequently dispose of thirty or forty of 
these cases in a day, and as imprisonment for debt was 
permitted at that time, the poor defendants would 
" shin " around and make any sacrifice almost, rather 
than go to jail. The enormous " costs " went into the 
capacious pocket of the Alderman ; and this dignitary, 
as a natural sequence, " waxed fat " and saucy, ex 
emplifying the truth of the adage " Put a beggar on 
horseback," etc. 

As the Alderman grew rich, he became overbearing, 


headstrong, and dictatorial. He began to fancy that he 
monopolized the concentrated wisdom of his party, and 
that his word should be law. Not a party-caucus or ;i 
political meeting could be held without witnessing the 
vulgar and profane harangues of the self-conceited 
Alderman, Tom Simmons. As he was one of the 
" ring," his fingers were in all the " pickings and steal 
ings ;" he kept his family-coach, and in his general 
swagger exhibited all the peculiarities of " high life be 
low stairs." 

But after Tom had disgraced his office for two years? 
a State election took place and the other party were 
successful. Among the first laws which they passed 
after the convening of the Legislature, was one declar 
ing that from that date imprisonment for debt should 
not be permitted in the State of Pennsylvania for any 
sum less than ten dollars. 

This enactment, of course, knocked away the chief 
prop which sustained the Alderman, and when the 
news of its passage reached Philadelphia, Tom was the 
most indignant man that had been seen there for some 



Standing in front of his office the next morning, sur 
rounded by several of his political chums, Tom ex 
claimed : 

44 Do you see what them infernal tories have done 
down there at Harrisburg ? They have been and 
passed an outrageous, oppressive, barbarous, and uncon 
stitutional law ! A pretty idea, indeed, if a man can t 
put a debtor in jail for a less sum than ten dollars ! 
How am I going to support my family, I should like 


to know, if this law is allowed to stand ? I tell you, 
gentlemen, this law is unconstitutional, and you will see 
blood running in our streets, if them tory scoundrels 
try to carry it out ! " 

His friends laughed, for they saw that Tom was rea 
soning from his pocket instead of his head ; and, as he 
almost foamed at the mouth in his impotent wrath 
they could not suppress a smile. 

" Oh, you may laugh, gentlemen you may laugh ; 
but you will see it. Our party will never disgrace 
itself a permitting the tories to rob them of their 
rights by passing unconstitutional laws ; and I say, the 
sooner we come to blood, the better ! " 

At this moment, a gentleman stepped up, and ad 
dressing the Alderman, said : 

" Alderman, I want to bring a case of book debt be 
fore you this morning." 

" How much is your claim ? " asked Tom. 

44 Four dollars," replied the rumseller for such he 
proved to be and his debt was for drinks chalked up 
against one of his " customers." 

" You can t have your four dollars, Sir," replied the 
excited Alderman. u You are robbed of your four dol 
lars, Sir. Them legislative tories at Harrisburg, Sir, 
have cheated you out of your four dollars, Sir. I un 
dertake to say, Sir, that fifty thousand honest men in 
Philadelphia have been robbed of their four dollars by 
these bloody tories and their cursed unconstitutional 
Jaw ! Ah, gentlemen, you will see blood running in 
our streets before you are a month older. (A laugh.) 
Oh, you may laugh ; but you will see it see if you 
don t ! " 


A newsboy was just passing by. 

" Here, boy, give me the Morning Ledger," said the 
Alderman, at the same time taking the paper and hand 
ing the boy a penny. " Let us see what them blasted 
cowboys are doing down at Harrisburg nqw^ Ah ! 
what is this ? " (Reading :) " 4 Blood, blood, blood ! 
Aha! laugh, will you, gentlemen? Here it is." 
Reads : 

" * Blood, blood, blood ! The Dorrites have got possession of Provi 
dence. The military are called out. Father is arrayed against father, 
and son against son. Blood is already running in our streets. 

" Now laugh, will you, gentlemen ? Blood is run 
ning in the streets of Providence ; blood will be run 
ning in the streets of Philadelphia before you are a 
fortnight older ! The tories of Providence and the 


tories of Harrisburg must answer for this blood, for 
they and their unconstitutional proceedings are the cause 
of its flowing ! Let us see the rest of this tragic scene. 
Reads : 

" Is there any remedy for this dreadful state of things ? " 

ALDERMAN. " Of course not, except to hang every 
rascal of them for trampling on our g-1-orious Consti 
tution." Reads : 

" Is there any remedy for this dreadful state of things? Yes, 
there is. " 

ALDERMAN. " Oh, there is, is there ? What is it ? 
Let me see." Reads : 

" Buy two packages of Pease s hoarhound candy. " 


" Blast the infernal Ledger ! " exclaimed the now 
doubly incensed and indignant Alderman, throwing the 
paper upon the pavement with the most ineffable dis 
gust, amid the shouts and hurrahs of a score of men 
who by this time had gathered around the excited 
Alderman Tom Simmons. 

As I before remarked, the " candy " was a very good 
article for the purposes for which it was made ; and as 
Pease was an indefatigable man, as well as a good ad 
vertiser, he soon acquired a fortune. Mr. Pease, Junior, 
is now living in affluence in Brooklyn, and is bringing 
up a " happy family " to enjoy the fruits of his indus 
try, probity, good habits, and genius. 

The " humbug " in this transaction, of course con 
sisted solely in the manner of advertising. There was 
no humbug or deception about the article manufactured- 



In the year 1834, Dr. Benjamin Brandreth com 
menced advertising in the city of New York, " Brand- 
reth s Pills specially recommended to purify the blood. 
His office consisted of a room about ten feet square, lo 
cated in what was then known as the Sun building, an 
edifice ten by forty feet, situated at the corner of Spruce 
and Nassau streets, where the Tribune is now published* 
His " factory " was at his residence in Hudson street. 


He put up a large gilt sign over the Sun office, five or 
six feet wide by the length of the building, which at 
tracted much attention, as at that time it was probably 
the largest sign in New York. Dr. Brandreth had 
great faith in his pills, and I believe not without rea 
son ; for multitudes of persons soon became convinced 
of the truth of his assertions, that " all diseases arise 
from impurity or imperfect circulation of the blood, and 
by purgation with Brandreth s Pills all disease may be 

But great and reasonable as might have been the 
faith of Dr. Brandreth in the efficacy of his pills, his 
faith in the potency of advertising them was equally 
strong. Hence he commenced advertising largely in 
the Sun newspaper paying at least $5,000 to that 
paper alone, for his first year s advertisements. That 
may not seem a large sum in these days, when parties 
have been known to pay more than five thousand dol 
lar for a single day s advertising in the leading jour 
nals ; but, at the time J^randreth started, his was con 
sidered the most liberal newspaper-advertising of the 

Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to 
land, it largely increases the product. Thousands 
of persons may be reading your advertisement while 
you are eating, or sleeping, or attending to your busi 
ness; hence public attention is attracted, new cus 
tomers come 10 you, and, if you render them a satisfac 
tory equivalent for their money, they continue to pat 
ronize you and recommend you to their friends. 

At the commencement of his career, Dr. Brandreth 


was indebted to Mr. Moses Y. Beach, proprietor of the 
New York Sun, for encouragement and means of ad 
vertising. But this very advertising soon caused his re 
ceipts to be enormous. Although the pills were but 
twenty-five cents per box, they were soon sold to such 
a great extent, that tons of huge cases filled with the 
" purely vegetable pill " were sent from the new and 
extensive manufactory every week. As his business in 
creased, so in the same ratio did he extend his adver 
tising. The doctor engaged at one time a literary gen 
tleman to attend, under the supervision of himself, sole 
ly to the advertising department. Column upon col 
umn of advertisements appeared in the newspapers, in 
the shape of learned and scientific pathological disser 
tations, the very reading of which would tempt a poor 
mortal to rush for a box of Brandreth s Pills ; so evi 
dent was it (according to the advertisement) that no 
body ever had or ever would have " pure blood," until 
from one to a dozen boxes of the pills had been taken 
as "purifiers." The ingenuity displayed in concocting 
these advertisements was superb, and was probably 
hardly equaled by that required to concoct the pills. 

No pain, ache, twinge, or other sensation, good, bad, 
or indifferent, ever experienced by a member of the 
human family, but was a most irrefragable evidence of 
the impurity of the blood ; and it would have been 
blasphemy to have denied the " self-evident " theory, 
that u all diseases arise from impurity or imperfect cir 
culation of the blood, and that by purgation with 
Brandreth s Pills all disease may be cured." 

The doctor claims that his grandfather first manu- 


factured the pills in 1751. I suppose this may be true ; 
at all events, no living man will be apt to testify to the 
contrary. Here is an extract from one of Dr. Bran- 
dretlvs early advertisements, which will give an idea 
of his style : 

What has been longest known has been most considered, and what 
has been most considered is best understood. 

"The life of the flesh is in the blood. Lev. xxii, 2. 

" Bleeding reduces the vital powers; Brandreth s Pills increase them. 
So in sickness never be bled, especially in Dizziness and Apoplexy, but 
always use Brandreth s Pills. 

" The laws of life are written upon the face of Nature. The Temp 
est, Whirlwind, and Thunder-storm bring health from the Solitudes of 
God. The Tides are the daily agitators and purifiers of the Mighty 
World of Waters. 

* What these Providential means are as purifiers of the Atmosphere 
or Air, Brandreth s Pills are to man." 

This splendid system of advertising, and the almost 
reckless outlay which was required to keep it up, chal 
lenged the admiration of the business community. In 
the course of a few years, his office was enlarged ; and 
still being too small, he took the store 241 Broadway, 
and also opened a branch at 187 Hudson street. The 
doctor continued to let his advertising keep pace with 
his patronage ; and he was finally, in the year 1836, 
compelled to remove his manufactory to Sing Sing, 
where such perfectly incredible quantities of Bran 
dreth s Pills have been manufactured and sold that it 
would hardly be safe to give the statistics. Suffice it 
to say, that the only " humbug " which I suspect in 
connection with the pills was, the very harmless and 
unobjectionable yet novel method of advertising them ; 


and as the doctor amassed a great fortune by their 
manufacture, this very fact is prima facie evidence that 
the pill was a valuable purgative. 

A funny incident occurred to me in connection with 
this great pill. In the year 1836, while I was trav 
elling through the States of Alabama, Mississippi, and 
Louisiana, I became convinced by reading .Doctor 
Brandreth s advertisements that I needed his pills. In 
deed, I there read the proof that every symptom that I 
experienced, either in imagination or in reality, ren 
dered their extensive consumption absolutely necessary 
to preserve my life. I purchased a box of Brandreth s 
Pills in Columbus, Miss. The effect was miraculous ! 
Of course, it was just what the advertisement told me 
it would be. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I purchased 
half a dozen boxes. They were all used up before my 
perambulating show reached Vicksburg, Miss., and I 
was a confirmed disciple of the blood theory. There I 
laid in a dozen boxes. In Natchez, I made a similar 
purchase. In New Orleans, where I remained several 
months, I was a profitable customer, and had become 
thoroughly convinced that the only real u greenhorns " 
.in the world were those who preferred meat or bread to 
Brandreth s Pills. I took them morning, noon, and 
night. In fact, the advertisements announced that one 
could not take too many ; for if one box was sufficient 
to purify the blood, eleven extra boxes would have no 
injurious effect. 

I arrived in New York in June 1838, and by that 
time I had become such a firm believer in the efficacy 
of Brandreth s Pills, that I hardly stopped long enough 


to speak with my family, before I hastened to the 
" principal office " of Doctor Brandreth to congratu 
late him on being the greatest public benefactor of the 

I found the doctor " at home," and introduced my 
self without ceremony. I told him my experiences. 
He was delighted. I next heartily indorsed every word 
stated in his advertisements. He was not surprised, for 
he knew the effects of his pills were such as I described. 
Still he was elated in having another witness whose ex 
tensive experiments with his pills were so eminently 
satisfactory. The doctor and myself were both happy 
he in being able to do so much good to mankind ; I in 
being the recipient of such untold benefits through his 
valuable discovery. 

At last, the doctor chanced to say that he wondered 
how I happened to get his pills in Natchez, " for," said 
he, " I have no agent there as yet." 

" Oh ! " I replied, " I always bought my pills at the 
drug stores." 

" Good Heavens ! " exclaimed the doctor, " then 
they are were all counterfeits ! vile impositions ! poison 
ous compounds ! I never sell a pill to a druggist I 
never permit an apothecary to handle one of my pills. 
But they counterfeit them by the bushel ; the unprin 
cipled, heartless, murderous impostors ! : 

I need not say I was surprised. Was^Jj^ possible, 
then, that my imagination^ had done all tljis business, 
and that I had been cured by poisons which I supposed 
were Brandreth s Pill ? I confess I laughed heartily ; 
and told the doctor that, after all, it seemed the conn- 


terfeits were as good as the real pills, provided the pa 
tient had sufficient faith. 

ThcTcfoctor was puzzled as well as vexed, but an idea 
struck him that soon enabled him to recover his usual 

" I ll tell you what it is," said he, " those Southern 
druggists have undoubtedly obtained the pills from me 
under false pretences. They have pretended to be 
planters, and have purchased pills from me in large 
quantities for use on the plantations, and then they 
have retailed the pills from their drug-shops." 

I laughed at this shrewd suggestion, and remarked : 
" This may be so, but I guess my imagination did the 
business I " 

The doctor was uneasy, but he asked me as a favor to 
bring him one of the empty pill boxes which I had 
brought from the South. The next day, I complied 
with his request, and I will do the doctor justice to say 
that, on comparison, it proved as he had suspected 
the pills were genuine, and although he had advertised 
that no druggist should sell them, they were so popular 
that druggists found it necessary to get them * by hook 
or by crook ; " and the consequence was, I had the 
pleasure of a glorious laugh, and Doctor Brandreth ex 
perienced " a great scare." 

The doctor " made his pile " long ago, although he 
still devotes his personal attention to the " entirely veg 
etable and innocent pills, whose life-giving power no 
pen can describe." 

In 1849, the doctor was elected President of the 
Village of Sing Sing, N. Y. (where he still resides,) 


and was re-elected to the same office for seven consecu 
tive years. In the same year, he was elected to the 
New York State Senate, and in 1859 was again elected. 
Dr. Brandreth is a liberal man and a pleasant, enter 
taining, and edifying companion. He deserves all the 
success he has ever received. " Long may he wave ! " 






The Davenport Brothers are natives of Buffalo, N. Y., 
and in that city commenced their career as " mediums " 
about twelve years ago. They were then mere lads. 
For some time, their operations were confined to their 
own place, where, having obtained considerable noto 
riety through the press, they were visited by people 
from all parts of the country. But, in 1855, they were 
induced by John F. Coles, a very worthy spiritualist of 
New York City, to visit that metropolis, and there 
exhibit their powers. Under the management of Mr. 
Coles, they held " circles " afternoon and evening, for 
several days, in a small hall at 195 Bowery. The au 
dience were seated next the walls, the principal space 
being required for the use of " the spirits." The 
" manifestations " mostly consisted in the thrumming 
and seemingly rapid movement about the hall of sever 
al stringed instruments, the room having been made en 
tirely dark, while the boys were supposed or asserted to 


be quietly seated at the table in the centre. Two guitars, 
with sometimes a banjo, were the instruments used, and 
the noise made by " the spirits " was about equal to 
the united honking of a large flock of wild geese. 
The manifestations were stunning as well as astonish 
ing ; for not only was the sense of hearing smitten by 
the dreadful sounds, but, sometimes, a member of the 
circle would get a " striking demonstration " over his 
head ! 

At the request of the "controlling spirit," - made 
through a horn, the hall was lighted at intervals during 
the entertainment, at which times the mediums could be 
seen seated at the table, looking very innocent and de 
mure, as if they had never once thought of deceiving 
anybody. On one of these occasions, however, a po 
liceman suddenly lighted the hall by means of a dark 
lantern, without having been specially called upon to 
do so ; and the boys were clearly seen with instru 
ments in their hands. They dropped them as soon as 
they could, and resumed their seats at the table. Sat 
isfied that the thing was a humbug, the audience left in 
disgust ; and the policeman was about to march the 
boys to the station-house on the charge of swindling, 
when he was prevailed upon to remain and farther test 
the matter. Left alone with them, and the three seat 
ed together at the table on which the instruments had 
been placed, he laid, at their request, a hand on each 
medium s head ; they then clasped both his arms with 
their hands. While they remained thus situated (as he 
supposed,) the room being dark, one of the instruments, 
with an infernal twanging of its strings, rose from the 


table and hit the policeman several times on the head ; 
then a strange voice through the trumpet advised him 
not to interfere with the work of the spirits by perse 
cuting the mediums ! Considerably astonished, if not 
positively scared, he took his hat and left, fully per 
suaded that there was u something in it ! " 

The boys produced the manifestations by grasping 
the neck of the instrument, swinging it around, and 
thrusting it into different parts of the open space of 
the room, at the same time vibrating the strings with 
the fore-finger. The faster the finger passed over the 
strings, the more rapidly the instrument seemed to 
move. Two hands could thus use as many instruments. 

When sitting with a person at the table, as they did 
with the policeman, one hand could be taken off the 
investigator s arm without his knowing it, by gently in 
creasing, at the same time, the pressure of the other 
hand. It was an easy matter then to raise and thrum 
the instrument or talk through the horn. 

About a dozen gentlemen several of whom were 
members of the press had a private seance with the 
boys one afternoon, on which occasion <fc the spirits " 
ventured upon an extra " manifestation." All took 
seats at one side of a long, high table the position of 
the mediums being midway of the row. This time, a 
little, dim, ghostly gaslight was allowed in the room. 
What seemed to be a hand soon appeared, partly above 
the edge of the vacant side of the table, and opposite 
the " mediums." One excited spiritualist present said 
he could see the finger-nails. 

John F. Coles who had for several days, sus- 


pected the innocence of the boys sprang from his 
seat, turned up the gaslight, and pounced on the elder 
boy, who was found to have a nicely stuffed glove 
drawn partly on to the toe of his boot. That, then, 
was the spirit-hand ! The nails that the imaginative 
spiritualist thought he saw were not on the fingers. 
The boy alleged that the spirits made him attempt the 

The father of these boys, who had accompanied them 
to New York, took them home immediately after that 
exposure. In Buffalo, they continued to hold " circles," 
hoping to retrieve their lost reputation as good medi 
ums by being, not more honest, but more cautious. 
To prevent any one getting hold of them while opera 
ting, they hit upon the plan of passing a rope through 
a button-hole of each gentleman s coat, the ends to be 
held by a trusty person assigning, as a reason for 
that arrangement, that it would then be*known no one 
in the circle could assist in producing the manifesta 
tions. The plan did not always work well, however ; 
for a skeptic would sometimes cut the rope, and then 
pounce upon "the spirit" that is, if he didn t hap 
pen to miss that individual, on account of the darkness 
and while trying to avoid a collision with the instru 

To secure greater immunity from detection, and to 
enable them to exhibit in large halls which could not 
easily be darkened, the boys finally fixed upon a " cab 
inet " as the best thing in which to work. They had, 
some time before, made the " rope-test " a feature of 
their exhibitions ; and in their cabinet-show they de- 


pended for success in deceiving entirely upon the pre 
sumption of the audience that their hands were so se 
cured with ropes as to prevent their playing upon the 
musical instruments, or doing whatever else the spirits 
were assumed to do. 

Their cabinet is about six feet high, six feet long, and 
two and a half feet deep, the front consisting of three 
doors, opening outward. In each end is a seat, with 
holes through which the ropes can be passed in securing 
the mediums. In the upper part of the middle door is 
a lozenge-shaped aperture, curtained on the inside with 
black muslin or oilcloth. The bolts are on the inside 
of the doors. 

The mediums are generally first tied by a committee 
of two gentlemen appointed from the audience. The 
doors of the cabinet are then closed, those at the ends 
first, and then the middle one, the bolt of which is 
reached by the manager through the aperture. 

By the time the end doors are closed and bolted, the 
Davenports, in many instances, have succeeded in 
loosening the knots next their wrists, and in slipping 
their hands out, the latter being then exhibited at the 
aperture. Lest the hands should be recognized as be 
longing to the mediums, they are kept in a constant 
shaking motion while in view ; and to make the hands 
look large or small, they spread or press together the 
fingers. With that peculiar rapid motion imparted to 
them, four hands in the aperture will appear to be half-a- 
dozen. A lady s flesh colored kid glove, nicely stuffed 
with cotton, is sometimes exhibited as a female hand 
a critical observation of it never being allowed. It does 


not take the medium long to draw the knots close to 
their wrists again. They are then ready to be inspect 
ed by the Committee, who report them tied as they 
were left. Supposing them to have been securely bound 
all the while, those who witness the show are very nat 
urally astonished. 

Sometimes, after being tied by a committee, the me 
diums cannot readily extricate their hands and get them 
back as they were ; in which case they release them 
selves entirely from the ropes before the door? are again 
opened, concluding to wait till after " the spirits " have 
bound them, before showing hands or making music. 

It is a common thing for these impostors to give the 
rope between their hands a twist while those limbs are 
being bound ; and that movement, if dexterously made, 
while the attention of the committee-men is momentari 
ly diverted, is not likely to be detected. Reversing 
that movement will let the hand out. 

The great point with the Davenports in tying them, 
selves is, to have a knot next their wrists that looks sol 
id, u fair and square," at the same time that they can 
slip it and get their hands out in a moment. There 
are several ways of forming such a knot, one of which 
I will attempt to describe. In the middle of a rope a 
square knot is tied, loosely at first, so that the ends of 
the rope can be tucked through, in opposite directions, 
below the knot, and the latter is then drawn tight. 
There are then two loops which should be made 
small through which the hands are to pass after the 
rest of the tying is done. Just sufficient slack is left to 
admit of the hands passing through the loops, which, 


lastly, are drawn close to the wrists, the knot coming 
between the latter. No one, from the appearance of 
such a knot, would suspect it could be slipped. The 
mediums thus tied can, immediately after the committee 
have inspected the knots, and closed the doors, show 
hands or play upon musical instruments, and in a few 
seconds be, to all appearance, firmly tied again. 

If flour has been placed in their hands, it makes no 
difference as to their getting those members out of or 
into the ropes ; but, to show hands at the aperture, or 
to make a noise on the musical instruments, it is neces 
sary that the} should get the flour out of one hand in 
to the other. The moisture of the hand and squeezing, 
packs the flour into a lump, which can be laid into the 
other hand and returned without losing any. The lit 
tle flour that adheres to the empty hand can be wiped 
off in the pantaloons pocket. The mediums seldom if 
ever take flour in their hands while they are in the 
bonds put upon them by the committee. The princi 
pal part of the show is after the trying has been done 
in their own way. Wm. Fay, who accompanies the 
Davenports, is thus fixed when the hypothetical spirits 
take the coat off his back. 

As I before remarked, there are several ways in 
which the mediums tie themselves. They always do 
it, however, in sucli a manner that, though the tying 
looks secure, they can immediately get one or both 
hands out. Let committees insist upon untying the 
knots of the spirits, whether the mediums are willing 
or not. A little critical observation will enable them 
to learn the trick. 


To make this subject of tying clearer, I will repeat 
that the Davenports always untie themselves by using 
their hands ; as they are able in ninety-nine cases out 
of a hundred, however impossible it may seem, to re 
lease their hands by loosening the knots next their 
wrists. Sometimes they do this by twisting the rope 
between their wrists ; sometimes it is by keeping their 
muscles as tense as possible during the tying, so that 
when relaxed there shall be some slack. Most " com 
mittees " know so little about tying, that anybody, by a 
little pulling, slipping, and wriggling, could slip his 
hands out of their knots. 

A violin, bell, and tambourine, with perhaps a gui 
tar and drum, are the instruments used by the Dav 
enports in the cabinet. The one who plays the violin 
holds the bell in his hand witli the bow. The other 
chap beats the tambourine on his knee, and has a hand 
for something else. 

The u mediums " frequently allow a person to re 
main with them, providing he will let his hands be tied 
to. their knees, the operators having previously been 
tied by " the spirits." The party who ventures upon that 
experiment is apt to be considerably " mussed up," as 
" the spirits " are not very gentle in their manipula 

To expose all the tricks of these impostors would re 
quire more space than I can afford at present. They 
have exhibited throughout the Northern States and the 
Canaclas ; but never succeeded very well pecuniarily 
until about two years ago, when they employed an agent, 
who advertised them in such a way as to attract public 


attention. In September last, they went to England, 
where they have since created considerable excitement. 

If the hands of these boys were tied close against 
the side of their cabinet, the ropes passing through 
holes and fastened on the outside, I think " the spirits " 
would always fail to work. 

Dr. W. F. Van Vleck, of Ohio, to whom I am in 
debted for some of the facts contained in this chapter, 
can beat the Davenport brothers at their own game. 
In order that he might the better learn the various 
methods pursued by the professed " mediums " in de 
ceiving the public, Dr. Van Vleck entered into the 
medium-business himself, and by establishing confiden 
tial relations with those of the profession whose ac 
quaintance he made, he became duly qualified to ex 
pose them. 

He was accepted and indorsed by leading spiritual 
ists in different parts of the country, as a good medium, 
who performed the most remarkable spiritual wonders. 
As the worthy doctor practiced this innocent deception 
on the professed mediums solely in order that he might 
thus be able to expose their blasphemous impositions, 
the public will scarcely dispute that in this case the end 
justified the means. I suppose it is not possible for 
any professed medium to puzzle or deceive the doctor. 
He is up to all their " dodges," because he has learned 
in their school. Mediums always insist upon certain 
conditions, and those conditions are just such as will 
best enable them to deceive the senses and pervert the 

Anderson u the Wizard of the North," and other 


conjurers in England, gave the Davenports battle, but 
the " prestidigitators " did not reap many laurels. 
Conjurers are no more likely to understand the tricks 
of the mediums than any other person is. Before a 
trick can be exposed it must be learned. Dr. Van 
Vleck, having learned " the ropes," is competent to ex 
pose them ; and he is doing it in many interesting pub 
lic lectures and illustrations. 

If the Davenports were exhibiting simply as jugglers, 
I might admire their dexterity, and have nothing to say 
against them ; but when they presumptuously pretend 
to deal in " things spiritual," I consider it my duty, 
while treating of humbugs, to do this much at least in 
exposing them. 




The " spirit-rapping " humbug was started in Hydes- 
ville, New York, about seventeen years ago, by several 
daughters of a Mr. Fox, living in that place. These 
girls discovered that certain exercises of their anatomy 
would produce mysterious sounds mysterious to those 
who heard them, simply because the means of their 
production were not apparent. Reports of this wonder 
soon went abroad, and the Fox family were daily visit 
ed by people from different sections of the country 
all having a greed for the marvelous. Not long after 


the strange sounds were first heard, some one suggested 
that they were, perhaps, produced by spirits ; and a re 
quest was made for a certain number of raps, if that 
suggestion was correct. The specified number were 
immediately heard. A plan was then proposed by 
means of which communications might be received 
from " the spirits." An investigator would repeat the 
alphabet, writing down whatever letters were designa 
ted by the " raps." Sentences were thus formed the 
orthography, however, being decidedly bad. 

What purported to be the spirit of a murdered ped 
dler, gave an account of his " taking off ." He said 
that his body was buried beneath that very house, in a 
corner of the cellar ; that he had been killed by a for 
mer occupant of the premises. A peddler really had 
disappeared, somewhat mysteriously, from that part of 
the country some time before : and ready credence was 
given the statements thus spelled out through the 
" raps." Digging to the depth of eight feet in the 
cellar did not disclose any " dead corpus," or even the 
remains of one. Soon after that, the missing peddler 
reappeared in Hydesville, still " clothed with mortali 
ty," and having a new assortment of wares to sell. 

That the " raps " were produced by disembodied 
spirits many firmly believed. False communications 
were attributed to evil spirits. The answers to ques 
tions were as often wrong as right ; and only right 
when the answer could be easily guessed, or inferred 
from the nature of the question itself. 

The Fox family moved to Rochester, New York, 
soon after the rapping-humbug was started ; and it was 


there that their first public effort was made. A com 
mittee was appointed to investigate the matter, most of 
whom reported adversely to the claims of the " medi 
ums ; " though all of them were puzzled to know how 
the thing was done. In Buffalo, where the Foxes sub 
sequently let their spirits flow, a committee of doctors 
reported that these loosely-constructed girls produced 
the " raps " by snapping their toe and knee joints. 
That theory, though very much ridiculed bv the spir 
itualists then and since, was correct, as further devel 
opments proved. 

Mrs. Culver, a relative of the Fox girls, made a sol 
emn deposition before a magistrate, to the effect that 
one of the girls had instructed her how to produce the 
" raps," on condition that she (Mrs. C.) should not 
communicate a knowledge of the matter to any one. 
Mrs. Culver was a good Christian woman, and she felt 
it her duty as the deception had been carried so far 
to expose the matter. She actually produced the 
"raps," in presence of the magistrate, and explained 
the manner of making them. 

Doctor Von Vleck to whom I referred in connec 
tion with my exposition of the Davenport imposture 
produces very loud " raps " before his audiences, and so 
modulates them that they will seem to be at any desired 
point in his vicinity ; yet not a movement of his body 
betrays the fact that the sounds are caused by him. 

The Fox family found that the rapping business 
would be made to p:iy ; and so they continued it, with 
varying success, for a number of years, making New 
York city their place of residence and principal Held of 


operation. I believe that none of them are now in the 
" spiritual line. . Margaret Fox, the youngest of the 
rappers, has for some time been a member of the Ro 
man Catholic Church. 

From the very commencement of spiritualism, there 
has been a constantly increasing demand for " spiritual " 
wonders, to meet which numerous " mediums " have 
been " developed." 

Many, who otherwise would not be in the least dis 
tinguished, have become " mediums " in order to obtain 
notoriety, if nothing more. 

Communicating by " raps " was a slow process ; so 
some of the mediums took to writing spasmodically ; 
others talked in a " trance " all under the influence 
of spirits ! 

Mediumship has come to be a profession steadily pur 
sued by quite a number of persons, who get their living 
by it. 

There are various classes of " mediums," the opera 
tions of each class being confined to a particular de 
partment of " spiritual " humbuggery. 

Some call themselves " test mediums ; " and, bv in 
sisting upon certain formulas, they succeed in astonish 
ing, if they don t convince most of them who visit 
them. It is by this class that the public is most likely 
to be deceived. 

There is a person by the name of J. V. Mansfield^ 
who has been called by spiritualists the " Great Spirit 
Postmaster," his specialty being the answering of sealed 
letters addressed to spirits. The letters are returned 
some of them at least to the writers without appear- 


ing to have been opened, accompanied by answers 
purporting to be written through Mansfield by the spir 
its addressed. Such of these letters as are sealed with 
gum-arabic merely, can be steamed open, and the envel 
opes resealed and reglazed as they were before. If 
sealing-wax has been used, a sharp, thin blade will en 
able the medium to nicely cut off the seal by splitting 
the paper under it ; and then, after a knowledge of the 
contents of the letter is arrived at, the seal can be re 
placed in its original position, and made fast with gum- 
arabic. Not more than one out of a hundred would be 
likely to observe that the seal had ever been tampered 
with. The investigator opens the envelope, when re 
turned to him, at the end, preserving the sealed part 
intact, in order to show his friends that the letter was 
answered without being opened ! 

Another method of the medium is, to slit open the 
envelope at the end with a sharp knife, and afterward 
stick it together again with gum, rubbing the edge 
slightly as soon as the gum is dry. If the job is nicely 
done, a close observer would hardly perceive it. 

Mr. Mansfield does not engage to answer all letters ; 
those unanswered being too securely sealed for him to 
open without detection. To secure the services of the 
" Great Spirit-Postmaster," a fee of five dollars must 
accompany your letter to the spirits ; and the money is 
retained whether an answer is returned or not. 

Rather high postage that ! 

Several years since, a gentleman living in Buffalo, 
N. Y., addressed some questions to one of his spirit- 
friends, and inclosed them, together with a single hair 


and a grain of sand, in an envelope, which he sealed so 
closely that no part of the contents could escape while 
being transmitted by mail. The questions were sent 
to Mr. Mansfield and answers requested through his 
" mediumship." The envelope containing the ques 
tions was soon returned, with answers to the letter. 
The former did not appear to have been opened. 
Spreading a large sheet of blank paper on a table be 
fore him, the gentleman opened the envelope and placed 
its contents on the table. The hair and grain of sand 
were not there. 

Time and again has Mansfield been convicted of im 
posture, yet he still prosecutes his nefarious business. 

The " Spirit-Postmaster " fails to get answers to 
such questions as these : 

" Where did you die ? " 

" When?" 

" Who attended you in your last illness ? " 

" What were your last words ? " 

" How many were present at your death ? " 

But if the questions are of such a nature as the fol 
lowing, answers are generally obtained : 

" Are you happy ? " 

" Are you often near me ? " 

" And can you influence me ? " 

u Have you changed your religious notions since en 
tering the spirit-world ? r 

It is to be observed that the questions which the 
" Spirit-Postmaster " can answer require no knowledge 
of facts about the applicant, while those which he can 
not answer, do require it. 


Address, for instance, your spirit-father without men 
tioning his name, and the name will not be given in 
connection with the reply purporting to come from him 
unless the medium knows your family. 

I will write a series of questions addressed to one of 
my spirit-friends, inclose them in an envelope, and if 
Mr. Mansfield or any other professed medium will an 
swer those questions pertinently in my presence, and 
without touching the envelope, I will give to such par 
ty five hundred dollars, and think I have got the worth 
of my money. 




An aptitude for deception is all the capital that a 
person requires in order to become a " spirit-medium ; " 
or, at least, to gain the reputation of being one. Back 
ing up the pretence to mediumship with a show of 
something mysterious, is all-sufficient to enlist attention, 
and insure the making of converts. 

One of the most noted of the mediumistic fraternity 
whose name I do not choose to give at present 
steadily pursued his business, for several years, in a 
room in Broadway, in this city, and succeeded not only 
in humbugging a good many people, but in what was 


more important to him acquiring quite an amount of 
money. His mode of operating was " the ballot-test," 
and was as follows : 

Medium and investigator being seated opposite each 
other at a table, the latter was handed several slips of 
blank paper, with the request that he write the first 
(or Christian) names one on each paper of sever 
al of his deceased relatives, which being done, he was 
desired to touch the folded papers, one after the other, 
till one should be designated, by three tips of the table, 
as containing the name of the spirit who would com 
municate. The selected paper was laid aside, and the 
others thrown upon the floor, the investigator being 
further requested to write on as many different pieces 
of paper as contained the names, and the relation (to 
himself) of the spirits bearing them. Supposing the 
names written were Mary, Joseph, and Samuel, being, 
respectively, the investigator s mother, father, and broth 
er. The last-named class would be secondly written, 
and one of them designated by three tips of the table, 
as in the first instance. The respective ages of the 
deceased parties, at the time of their decease, would 
also be written, and one of them selected. The first 
u test " consisted in having the selected name, relation 
ship, and age correspond that is, refer to the same 
party ; to ascertain which the investigator was desired 
to look at them, and state if it was the case. If the 
correspondence was affirmed, a communication was 
soon given, with the selected name, relationship, and 
age appended. Questions, written in the presence of 
the medium, were answered relevantly, if not perti- 


nently. Investigators generally did their part of the 
writing in a guarded manner, interposing their left hand 
between the paper on which they wrote and the medi 
um s eyes ; and they were very much astonished when 
they received a communication, couched in affectionate 
terms, with the names of their spirit-friends attached. 

By long practice, the medium was enabled to deter 
mine what the investigator wrote, by the motion of his 
hand in writing. Nine out of ten wrote the relation 
ship first that corresponded with the first name they had 
written. Therefore, if the medium selected the first 
that was written of each class, they in most cases re 
ferred to the same spirit. He waited till the investiga 
tor had affirmed the coincidence, before proceeding ; for 
he did not like to write a communication, appending to 
it, for instance, " Your Uncle John," when it ought 
to be " Your Father John." The reason he did not 
desire inquirers to write the surnames of their spirit- 
friends, was this: almost all Christian names are com 
mon, and he was .familiar with the motions which the 
hand must make in writing them ; but there are com 
paratively few people who have the same surnames, 
and to determine them would have been more difficult. 
No fact was communicated that had not been surrepti 
tiously gleaned from the investigator. 

An old gentleman, apparently from the country, one 
day entered the room of this medium and expressed a 
desire for a " sperit communication." 

He was told to take a seat at the table, and to write 
the names of his deceased relatives. The medium, like 
many others, incorrectly pronounced the term " de- 


ceased," the same as "diseased" sounding the s 
like z. 

The old gentleman carefully adjusted his " specs " 
and did what was required of him. A name and rela 
tionship having been selected from those written, the 
investigator was desired to examine and state if they 
referred to one party. 

" Wai, I declare they do ! " said he. " But I say- 
Mister, what has them papers to do with a sperit com 
munication ? 

" You will see,, directly," replied the medium. 

Whereupon the latter spasmodically wrote a " com 
munication," which read somewhat as follows : 

" MY DEAR HUSBAND : 1 am very glad to be able to address you 
through this channel. Keep on investigating, and you will soon be 
convinced of the great fact of spirit-intercourse. I am happy in my 
spirit-home ; patiently awaiting the time when you will join me here, 
etc. Your loving wife, BETSEY." 

" Good gracious ! But my old woman can t be 
dead," said the investigator, " for I left her tu hum ! " 

" Not dead ! " exclaimed the medium. " Did I not 
tell you to write the names of deceazed relatives ? " 

"Diseased!" returned the old man; "Wai, she 
ain t anything else, for she s had the rumatiz orfully for 
six months ! " 

Saying which, he took his hat and left, concluding 
that it was not worth while to " keep on investigating " 
any longer at that time. 

This same medium, not long since, visited Great 
Britian for the purpose of practicing his profession 


In one of the cities of Scotland, some shrewd inves 
tigator divined that he was able to nearly guess from 
the motion of the hand what questions were written. 

"Are you happy?" being a question commonly 
asked the " spirits," one of these gentlemen varied it by 
asking : 


" Are you hungry ? " 

The reply was, an emphatic affirmative. 

They tricked the trickster in other ways ; one of 
which was to write the names of mortals instead of 
spirits. It made no difference, however, as to getting a 
" communication." 

To tip the table without apparent muscular exertion, 
this impostor placed his hands on it in such a way that 
the " pisiform bone " (which may be felt projecting at 
the lower corner of the palm, opposite the thumb) 
pressed against the edge. By pushing, the table tipped 
from him, it being prevented from sliding by little 
spikes in the legs of the side opposite the operator. 

There are other " ballot-test mediums," as thev are 
called, who have a somewhat different method of cheat 
ing. They, too, require investigators to write the 
names in full, however of their spirit-friends; the 
slips of paper containing the names, to be folded and 
placed on a table. The medium then seizes one of the 
" ballots," and asks : 

" Is the spirit present whose name is on this ? " 

Dropping that and taking another : 

"On this?" 

So he handles all the papers without getting a re 
sponse. During this time, however, he has dextrously 


" palmed " one of the ballots, which while telling 
the investigator to be patient, as the spirits would doubt 
less soon come he opens with his left hand, on his 
knee, under the edge of the table. 

A mere glance enables him to read the name. Re 
folding the paper, and retaining it in his hand, he re 
marks : 

" I will touch the ballots again, and perhaps one of 
them will be designated this time." 

Dropping among the rest the one he had " palmed," 
he soon picks it up again, whereat three loud u raps " 
are heard. 

" That paper," says he to the investigator, " proba 
bly contains the name of the spirit who rapped ; please 
hold it in your hand." 

Then seizing a pencil, he w r rites a name, which the 
investigator finds to be the one contained in the select- 


ed paper. 

If the ballots are few in number, a blank is put with 
the pile, when the medium " palms " one, else the 
latter might be missed. 

It seems the spirits can never give their names with 
out being reminded of them by the investigator, and 
then they are so doubtful of their o\vn identity that 
they have but little to say for themselves. 

One medium to whom I have already alluded, after 
a sojourn of several years in California whither he 
went from Boston, seeking whom he might humbug 
has now returned to the East, and is operating in this 
city. Besides answering sealed letters, he furnishes 
written " communications " to parties visiting him at 


his rooms a " sitting," however, being granted to 
but one person at a time. His terms are only five dol 
lars an hour. 

Seated at a table in a part of the room where is the 
most light, he hands the investigator a strip of blank, 
white paper, rather thin and light of texture, about a 
yard long and six inches wide, requesting him to write 
across one end of it a single question, addressed to a 
spirit-friend, then to sign his own name, and fold the 
paper once or twice over what he has written. For 
instance : 

" BROTHER SAMUEL : Will you communicate with me through this 

To learn what has been written, the medium lays 
the paper down on the table, and repeatedly rubs the 
fingers of his right hand over the folds made by the 
inquirer. If that does not render the writing visible 
through the one thickness of paper that covers it, he 
slightly raises the edge of the folds with his left hand 
while he continues to rub with his right ; and that ad 
mits of the light shining through, so that the writing 
can be read. The other party is so situated that the 
writing is not visible to him through the paper, and he 
is not likely to presume that it is visible to the medium ; 
the latter having assigned as a reason for his manipu 
lations that spirits were able to read the questions only 
by means of the odylic, magnetic, or some other ema 
nation from the ends of his fingers ! 


Having learned the question, of course the medium 
can reply to it, giving the name of the spirit addressed ; 


but before doing so, he doubles the two folds made by 
the inquirer, and, for a show of consistency, again rubs 
his fingers over the paper. Then more folds and more 
rubbing all the folding, additional to the inquirer s, 
being done to keep the latter from observing, when he 
comes to read the answer, that it was possible for the 
medium to read the question through the two folds of 
paper. The answer is written upon the same strip of 
paper that accompanies the question. 

The medium requires the investigator to write his 
questions each on a different strip of paper ; and before 
answering, he every time manipulates the paper in the 
way I have described. When rubbing his fingers over 
the question, he often shuts the eye which is toward 
the inquirer which prevents suspicion ; but the other 
eye is open wide enough to enable him to read the 
question through the paper. 

Should a person write a test-question, the medium 
could not answer it correctly even if he did see it. In 
his " communications " he uses many terms of endear 
ment, and if possible flatters the recipient out of his 
common-sense, and into the belief that " after all there 
may be something in it ! " 

Should the inquirer tc smell a rat," and take meas 
ures to prevent the medium from learning, in the way 
I have stated, what question is written, he (the medium) 
gets nervous and discontinues the " sitting," alleging 
that conditions are unfavorable for spirit-communication. 






The mediums produce " blood-red letters on the 
arm " in a very simple way. It is done with a pencil, 
or some blunt-pointed instrument, it being necessary to 
bear on hard while the movement of writing is being 
executed. The pressure, though not sufficient to 
abrade the skin, forces the blood from the capillary 
vessels over which the pencil passes, and where, when 
the reaction takes place, an unusual quantity of blood 
gathers and becomes plainlv visible throuo-h the cuticle. 

C5 1 / ?!? 

Gradually, as an equilibrium of the circulation is re 
stored, the letters pass away. 

This " manipulation " is generally produced by the 
medium in connection with the ballot-test. Having 
learned the name of an investigator s spirit-friend, in 
the manner stated in a previous article, the investiga 
tor is set to writing some other names. While he is 
thus occupied, the medium quickly slips up his sleeve 
under the table, and writes on his arm the name he has 

Try the experiment yourself, reader. Hold out your 
left arm ; clench the fist so as to harden the muscle a 
little, and write your name on the skin with a blunt 


pencil or any similar point, in letters say three-quarters 
of an inch long, pressing firmly enough to feel a little 
pain. Rub the place briskly a dozen times ; this brings 
out the letters quickly, in tolerably-distinct red lines. 

On thick, tough skins it is difficult to produce letters 
in this way. They might also be outlined more deeply 
by sharply pricking in dots along the lines of the de 
sired letters. 

Among others who seek to gain money and notoriety 
by the exercise of their talents for " spiritual " hum- 
buggery, is a certain woman, whom I will not further 
designate, but whose name is at the service of any 
proper person, and who exhibited not long since in 
Brooklyn and New York. This woman is accompa 
nied by her husband, who is a confederate in the play 
ing of her " little game." 

She seats herself at a table, which has been placed 
against the wall of the room. The audience is so seat 
ed as to form a semicircle, at one end of which, and near 
enough to the medium to be able to shake hands with 
her, or nearly so, sits her husband, with perhaps an 
accommodating spiritualist next to him. Then the me 
dium, in an assumed voice, engages in a miscellaneous 

* " O O 

talk, ending with a request that some one sit by her 
and hold her hand. 

A skeptic is permitted to do that. When thus 
placed, skeptic is directly between the medium and her 
husband, and with his back to the latter. The hus 
band plays spirit, and with his right hand which is 
free, the other only being held by the accommodating 
spiritualist pats the investigator on the head, thumps 


him with a guitar and other instruments, and may be 
pulls his hair. 

The medium assumes all this to be done by a spirit, 
because her hands are held and she could not do it ! 
Profound reasoning ! If any one suggests that the 
husband had better sit somewhere else, the medium 
Avill not hear to it " he is a part of the battery," and 
the necessary conditions must not be interfered with. 
Sure enough ! Accommodating spiritualist also says 
he holds husband fast. 

A tambourine-frame, without the head, and an iron 
ring, large enough to pass over one s arm, are exhibited 
to the audience. Medium says the spirits have such 
power over matter as to be able to put one or both 
those things on to her arm while some one holds her 

The party who is privileged to hold her hands on 
such occasion, has to grope his way to her in the dark. 
Having reached her, she seizes his hands, and passes 
one of them down her neck and along her arm, saying: 

" Now you know there is no ring already there ! " 

Soon after he feels the tambourine-frame or ring 
slide over his hand and on to his arm. A light is pro 
duced in order that he may see it is there. 

When he took her hands he felt the frame or ring 
or at any rate, a frame or ring under his elbow on 
the table, from which place it was pulled by some pow 
er just before it went on to his arm. Such is his re 
port to the audience. But in fact, the medium has two 
frames, or else a tambourine, and a tambourine-frame. 
She allows the investigator to feel one of these. 


She has, however, previous to his taking her hands, 
put one arm and head through the frame she uses ; so 
that of course he does not feel it when she passes his 
hand down one side of her neck and over one of her 
arms, as it is under that arm. Her husband pulls the 
tambourine from under the investigator s elbow ; then 
the medium o-etc her head back through the frame, 

O O 

leaving it on her arm, or sliding it on to his, and the 
work is done ! 

She has also two iron rings. One of them she puts 
over her arm and the point of her shoulder, where it 
snugly remains, covered with a cape which she persists 
in wearing on these occasions, till the investigator takes 
her hands (in the dark) and feels the other ring under 
his elbows ; then the husband disposes of the ring on 
the table, and the medium works the other one down 
on to her arm. The audience saw but one ring, and 
the person sitting with the medium thought he had 
that under his elbow till it was pulled away and put on 
the arm ! 

Some years ago, a man by the name of Dexter, who 
kept an oyster and liquor saloon on Bleecker street, de 
vised a somewhat novel exhibition for the purpose of 
attracting custom. A number of hats, placed on the 
floor of his saloon, danced (or bobbed up and down) 
in time to music. His place was visited by a number 
of the leading spiritualists of New York, several of 
whom were heard to express a belief that the hats were 
moved by spirits ! Dexter, however, did not claim to 
be a medium, though he talked vaguely of " the power 
of electricity," when questioned with regard to his ex- 


hibition. Besides making the hats dance, he would 
(apparently) cause a violin placed in a box on the floor 
to sound, by waving his hands over it. 

Tiie hats were moved by a somewhat complicated 
arrangement of wires, worked by a confederate, out of 
sight. These wires were attached to levers, and finally 
came up through the floor, through small holes hidden 
from observation by the sawdust strewn there, as is 
common in such places. 

The violin in the box did not sound at all. It was 
another violin, under the floor, that was heard. It is 
not easy for a person to exactly locate a sound when 
the cause is not apparent. In short, Mr. Dexter s 
operations may be described as only consisting of a 
little well-managed Dexterity ! 

A young man " out West," claiming to be influenced 
by spirits, astonished people by reading names, telling 
time by watches, etc., in a dark room. He sat at a 
centre-table, which was covered with a cloth, in the 
middle of the room. Investigators sat next the walls. 
The name of a spirit, for instance, would be written 
and laid on a table, when in a short time he pronounced 
it. To tell the time by a watch, he required it to be 
placed on the table, or in his hand. With the table 
cloth over his head, a bottle of phosphorated oil en 
abled him to see, when not the least glimmer of light 
was visible to others in the room. 

If any of the " spiritualist " philosophers were to be 
asked what is the philosophy of these proceedings, he 
would probably reply with a mess of balderdash pretty 
much like the following : 


" There is an infinitesimal influence of sympathy 
between mind and matter, which permeates all beings, 
and pervades all the delicate niches and interstices of 
human intelligence. This sympathetic influence work 
ing upon the affined intelligence of an affinity, coagu 
lates itself into a corporiety, approximating closely to 
the adumbration of mortality in its highest admensu- 
ration, at last accumulating in an accumination." 

On these great philosophic principles it will not be 
difficult to comprehend the following actual quotation 
from the Spiritual Telegraph : 

" In the twelfth hour, the holy procedure shall crown 
the Triune Creator with the most perfect disclosive 
illumination. Then shall the creation in the effulgence 
above the divine seraphemal, arise into the dome of the 
disclosure in one comprehensive revolving galaxy of 
supreme created beatitudes." 

That those not surcharged with the divine afflatus 


may be able to get at the meaning of the above para 
graph, it is translated thus : 

" Then shall all the blockheads in the iiincora- 
poopdome of disclosive procedure above the all-fired 
leather-fungus of Peter Nephninnygo, . the gooseberry 
grinder, rise into the dome of the disclosure until co- 
equaled and coexistensive and conglomerate lumuxes in 
one comprehensive rnux shall assimilate into nothing, 
and revolve like a bob-tailed pussy cat after the space 
where the tail was." 

What power there is in spiritualism ! 

I shall be glad to receive, for publication, authentic 
information, from all parts of the world in regard to 



the doings of pretended spiritualists, especially those 
who perform for money. It is high time that the cred 
ulous portion of our community should be saved from 
the deceptions, delusions, and swindles of these bias 
phemous mountebanks and impostors. 




Considerable excitement has been created in various 
parts of the West by a young woman, whose name need 
not here be given, who pretends to be a " medium for 
physical manifestations." She is rather tall and quite 
muscular, her general manner and expression indicating 
innocence and simplicity. 

The " manifestations" exhibited by her purport to be 
produced by Samson, the Hebrew champion and anti- 

In preparing for her exhibition, she has a table 
placed sideways against the wall of the room, and cov 
ered with a thick blanket that reaches to the floor. A 
large tin dish pan, with handles (or -ears,) a German 
accordeon, and a tea-bell are placed under the table, 
at the end of which she seats herself in such a way 
that her body is against the top, and her lower limbs 
underneath, her skirts being so adjusted as to fill the 
space between the end legs of the table, and at the 


same time allow free play for her pedal extremities. 
The blanket, at the end where she sits, comes to her 
waist and hangs down to the floor on each side of her 
chair. The space under the table is thus made dark 
a necessary condition, it is claimed and all therein 
concealed from view. The " medium " then folds her 
arms, looks careless, and the " manifestations " com 
mence. The accordeon is sounded, no music being exe 
cuted upon it, and the bell rung at the same time. Then 
the dishpan receives such treatment that it makes a ter 
rible noise. Some one is requested to go to the end of the 
table opposite the " medium," put his hand under the 
blanket, take hold of the dishpan, and pull. He does so, 
and finds that some power is opposing him, holding the 
dishpan to one place. Not being rude, he forbears to 
jerk with all his force, but retires to his seat. The 
table rises several inches and comes down " kerslap," 
then it tips forward a number of times ; then one end 
jumps up and down in time to music, if there is any 
one present to play ; loud raps are heard upon it, and 
the hypothetical Samson has quite a lively time gener 
ally. Some of the mortals present, one at a time, put 
their fingers, by request, against the blankets, through 
which those members are gingerly squeezed by what 
might be a hand, if there was one under the table. A 
person being told to take hold of the top of the table 
at the ends, he does so, and finds it so heavy that he 
can barely lift it. Setting it down, he is told to raise 
it again several inches ; and at the second lifting it is 
no heavier than one would naturally judge such a piece 
of furniture to be. Another person is asked to lift the 


end furthest from the medium ; having done so, it sud 
denly becomes quite weighty, and, relaxing his hold, it 
comes down with much force upon the floor. Thus, 
by the power exercised beneath the table of an 
assumed spirit, that piece of cabinet-ware becomes heavy 
or light, and is moved in various ways, the medium not 
appearing to do it. 

In addition to her other " fixins," this medium has a 
spirit-dial, so called, on which are letters of the alpha 
bet, the numerals, and such words as " Yes," " No," 
and " Don t know." The whole thing is so arranged 
that the pulling of a string makes an index hand go 
the circuit of the dial-face, and it can be made to stop 
at any of the characters or words thereon. This 
" spirit-dial " is placed on the table, near the end fur 
thest from the medium, the string passing through a 
hole and hanging beneath. In the end of the string 
there is a knot. While the medium remains in the 
same position in which she sat when the other u mani 
festations " were produced, communications are spelled 
out through the dial, the index being moved by some 
power under the table that pulls the string. A coil- 
spring makes the index fly back to the starting-point, 
when the power is relaxed at each indication of a char 
acter or word. The orthography of these " spirits " is 
" bad if not worse." 

Now for an explanation of the various " manifesta 
tions " that I have enumerated. 

The medium is simply handy with her feet. To 
sound the accordeon and ring the bell at the same time, 
she has to take off one of her shoes or slippers, the 


latter being generally worn by her on these occasions. 
That done, she gets the handle of the tea-bell between 
the toes of her right foot, through a hole in the stock 
ing, then putting the heel of the same foot on the keys 
of the accordeon, ahd the other foot into the strap on 
the bellows part of that instrument, she easily sounds 
it, the motion necessary to do this also causing the bell 
to ring. She can readily pass her heels over the keys 
to produce different notes. She is thus able to make 
sounds on the accordeon that approximate to the very 
simple tune of " Bounding Billows," and that is the 
extent of her musical ability when only using her 
" pedals." 

To get a congress-gaiter off the foot without using 
the hands is quite easy ; but how to get one on again, 
those members not being employed to do it, would puz 
zle most people. It is not difficult to do, however, if a 
cord has been attached to the strap of the gaiter and tied 
to the leg above the calf. The cord should be slack, and 
that will admit of the gaiter coming off. To get it on, 
the toe has to be worked into the top of it, and then 
pulling on the cord with the toe of the other foot will 
accomplish the rest. 

The racket with the dishpan is made by putting the 
toe of the foot into one of the handles or ears, and 
beating the pan about. By keeping the toe in this 
handle and putting the other foot into the pan, the ope 
rator can " stand a pull " from an investigator, who 
reaches under the blanket and takes hold of the other 

To raise the table, the " medium " puts her knees 


under and against the frame of it, then lifts her heels, 
pressing the toes against the floor, at the same time 
bearin^ with her arms on the end. To make the table 


tip forward, one knee only is pressed against the frame 
at the back side. The raps are made with the toe of 
the medium s shoe against the leg, frame, or top of the 

What feels like a hand pressing the investigator s 
fingers when he pats them against the blanket, is noth 
ing more than the medium s feet, the big toe of one 
foot doing duty for a thumb, and all the toes of the 
other foot being used to imitate fingers. The pressure 
of these, through a thick blanket, cannot well be dis 
tinguished from that of a hand. When this experi 
ment is to be made, the medium wears slippers that she 
can readily get off her feet. 

To make the table heavy, the operator presses her 
knees outwardly against the legs of the table, and then 
presses down in opposition to the party who is lifting, 
or she presses her knees against that surface of the legs 
of the table that is toward her, while her feet are 
hooked around the lower part of the legs ; that gives 
her a leverage, b} r means of which she can make the 
whole table or the end furthest from her seem quite 
heavy, and if the person lifting it suddenly relaxes his 
hold, it will come down with a forcible bang to the 

To work the " spirit-dial," the medium has only to 
press the string with the toe of her foot against the top 
of the table, and slide it (the string) along till the in 
dex points at the letter or word she wishes to indicate. 


The frame of the dial is beveled, the face declining 
toward the medium, so that she has no difficulty in 
observing where the index points. 

After concluding her performances under the table, this 
medium sometimes moves her chair about two feet back 
and sits with her side toward the end of the table, with 
one leg of which, however, the skirt of her dress comes 
in contact. Under cover of the skirt she then hooks 
her foot around the leg of the table and draws it to 
ward her. This is done without apparent muscular ex 
ertion, while she is engaged in conversation ; and par 
ties present are humbugged into the belief that the ta 
ble was moved without " mortal contact " so they 
report to outsiders. 

This medium has a " manager," and he does his best 
in managing the matter, to prevent " Samson being 
caught " in the act of cheating. The medium, too, is 
vigilant, notwithstanding her appearance of careless 
ness and innocent simplicity. A sudden rising of the 
blanket once exposed to view her pedal extremities in 
active operation. 

Another of the " Dark Circle " mediums gets a good 
deal of sympathy on account of her " delicate health." 
Her health is not so delicate, however, as to prevent 
her from laboring hard to humbug people with " physical 
demonstrations." She operates only in private, in pres 
ence of a limited number of people. 

A circle being formed, the hands of all the members 
are joined except at one place where a table intervenes. 
Those sitting next to this table place a hand upon it, 
the other hand of each of these parties being joined 


with the circle. The medium takes a position close bv 
the table, and during the manifestations is supposed to 
momentarily touch with her two hands the hands of 
those parties sitting next to the table. Of course, she 
could accomplish little or nothing if she allowed her 
hands to be constantly held by investigators ; so she hit 
upon the plan mentioned above, to make the people 
present believe that the musical instruments are not 
sounded by her. These instruments are within her 
reach ; and instead of touching the hands of those next 
the table with both her hands, as supposed, she touches, 
alternately, their hands with but one of hers, the other 
she expertly uses in sounding the instruments. 

Several years ago, at one of the circles of this medi 
um, in St. John s, Mich., a light was suddenly intro 
duced, and she was seen in the act of doing what she 
had asserted to be done by the " spirits." She has also 
been exposed as an impostor in other places. 

As I have said before, the mediums always insist on 
having such " conditions " as will best enable them to 
deceive the senses and mislead the judgment. 

If there were a few more " detectives " like Doctor 
Von Vleck, the whole mediumistic fraternity would 
soon " come to grief." 





In answer to numerous inquiries and several threats 
of prosecution for libel in consequence of what I have 
written in regard to impostors who (for money) per 
form tricks of legerdemain and attribute them to the 
spirits of deceased persons, I have only to say, I have 
no malice or antipathies to gratify in these expositions. 
In undertaking to show up the " Ancient and Modern 
Humbugs of the World," I am determined so far as in 
me lies, to publish nothing but the truth. This I shall 
do, " with good motives and for justifiable ends," and I 
shall do it fearlessly and conscientiously. No threats 
will intimidate, no fawnings will flatter me from pub 
lishing everything that is true which I think will con 
tribute to the information or to the amusement of my 

Some correspondents ask me if I believe that all pre- 


tentions to intercourse with departed spirits are imposi 
tions. I reply, that if people declare that they pri 
vately communicate with or are influenced to write or 
speak by invisible spirits, I cannot prove that they are 
deceived or are attempting to deceive me although I 
believe that one or the other of these propositions is 
true. But when they pretend to give me communica 
tions from departed spirits, to tie or untie ropes to 
read sealed letters, or to answer test-questions through 
spiritual agencies, I pronounce all such pretensions ri 
diculous impositions, and I stand ready at any time to 
prove them so, or to forfeit five hundred dollars, when 
ever these pretended mediums will succeed in produc 
ing their " wonderful manifestations " in a room of my 
selecting, and with apparatus of my providing ; they 
not being permitted to handle the sealed letters or fold 
ed ballots which they are to answer, nor to make con 
ditions in regard to the manner of rope tying, etc. If 
they can answer my test-questions relevantly and truly, 
without touching the envelopes in which they are 
sealed or even when given to them by my word of 
mouth, I will hand over the $500. If they can cause 
invisible agencies to perform in open daylight many of 
the things which they pretend to accomplish by spirits 
in the dark, I will promptly pay $500 for the sight. 
In the mean time, I think I can reasonably account for 
and explain all pretended spiritual gymnastic perform 
ances throwings of hair-brushes dancing pianos 
spirit-rapping table-tipping playing of musical in 
struments, and flying through the air (in the dark,) 
and a thousand other " wonderful manifestations " 


which, like most of the performances of modern " ma 
gicians," are " passing strange " until explained, and 
then they are as flat as dish-water. Dr. Von Vleck 
publicly produces all of these pretended " manifesta 
tions " in open dayl.ght, without claiming spiritual aid. 
Among the number of humbugs that owe their ex 
istence to various combinations of circumstances and 
the extreme gullibility of the human race, the following 
was related to me by a gentleman whose position and 
character warrant me in announcing that it may be im 
plicitly relied upon as correct in every particular. 

Some time before the Presidental election-, a photo 
grapher residing in one of our cities (an ingenious man 
and a scientific chemist,) was engaged in making ex 
periments with his camera, hoping to discover some 
new combination whereby to increase the facility of 
" picturing the human form divine," etc. One morn 
ing, his apparatus being in excellent order, he deter 
mined to photograph himself. No sooner thought of, 
than he set about making his arrangements. All being 
ready, he placed himself in a position, remained a sec 
ond or two, and then instantly closing his camera, sur 
veyed the result of his operation. On bringing the 
picture out upon the plate, he was surprised to find a 
shadowy representation of a human being, so remarka 
bly ghostlike and supernatural, that he became amused 
at the discovery he had made. The operation was re 
peated, until he could produce similar pictures by a 
suitable arrangement of his lenses and reflectors known 
to no other than himself. About this time he became 
acquainted with one of the most famous spiritualist- 


writers, and in conversation with him, showed him con 
fidentially one of those photographs, with also the 
shadow of another person, with the remark, mysteri 
ously whispered : 

" I assure you, Sir, upon my word as a gentleman, 
and by all my hopes of a hereafter, that this picture 
was produced upon the plate as you see it, at a time 
when I had locked myself in my gallery, and no other 
person was in the room. It appeared instantly, as you 
see it there ; and I have long wished to obtain the 
opinion of some man, like yourself, who has investiga 
ted these mysteries." 

The spiritualist listened attentively, looked upon the 
picture, heard other explanations, examined other pic 
tures, and sagely gave it as his opinion that the inhabit 
ants of the unknown sphere had taken this mode of 
re-appearing to the view of mortal eyes, that this ope 
rator must be a " medium " of especial power. The 
New York Herald of Progress, a spiritualist paper, 
printed the first article upon this man s spiritual 

The acquaintance thus begun was continued, and the 
photographer found it very profitable to oblige his spir 
itual friend, by the reproduction of ghost-like pictures, 
ad infinitum, at the rate of five dollars each. Mothers 
came to the room of the artist, and gratefully retired with 
ghostly representations of departed little ones. Wid 
ows came to purchase the shades of their departed hus 
bands. Husbands visited the photographer and pro 
cured the spectral pictures of their dead wives. Parents 
wanted the phantom-portraits of their deceased child- 


ren. Friends wished to look upon what they believed 
to be the lineaments of those who had long since gone 
to the spirit-land. All who sought to look on those 
pictures were satish ed with what had been shown them, 
and, by conversation on the subject, increased the num 
ber of visitors. In short, every person who heard 
about this mystery determined to verify the wonderful 
tales related, by looking upon the ghostly lineaments of 
some person, who, they believed, inhabited another 
sphere. And here I may as well mention that one of 
the faithful obtained a " spirit " picture of a deceased 
brother who had been dead more than five years, and 
said that he recognized also the very pattern of his cra 
vat as the same that he wore in life. Can human cre 
dulity go further than to suppose that the departed still 
appear in the old clo of their earthly wardrobe? and 
the fact that the appearance of " the shade " of a young 
lady in one of the fashionable cut Zouave jackets of 
the hour did not disturb the faith of the believers, fills 
us indeed with wonder. 

The fame of the photographer spread throughout the 
" spiritual circles," and pilgrims to this spiritual Mecca 
came from remote parts of the land, and before many 
months, caused no little excitement among some per 
sons, inclined to believe that the demonstrations were 
entirely produced by human agency. 

The demand for u spirit " pictures consequently in 
creased, until the operator was forced to raise his price 
to ten dollars, whenever successful in obtaining a true 
" spirit-picture," or to be overwhelmed with business 
that now interfered with his regular labors. 


About this time the famous " Peace Conference " 
had been concluded by the issue of Mr. Lincoln s cele 
brated letter, " To whom it may concern," and Wil 
liam Cornell Jewett (with his head full of projects for 
restoring peace to a suffering country) heard about the 
mysterious photographer, and visited the operator. 

" Sir," said he, " I must consult with the spirits of 
distinguished statesmen. We need their counsel. This 
cruel war must stop. Brethren slaying brethren, it is 
horrible, Sir. Can you show me John Adams ? Can 
you show me Daniel Webster ? Let me look upon the 
features of Andrew Jackson. I must see that noble, 
glorious, wise old statesman, Henry Clay, whom I knew. 
Could you reproduce Stephen A. Douglas, with whom 
to counsel at this crisis in our national affairs ! I should 
like to meet the great Napoleon. Such, here obtained, 
would increase my influence in the political work that 
I have in hand." 

In his own nervous, impetuous, excited way, Colorado 
Jewett continued to urge upon the photographer the 
great importance of receiving such communications, or 
some evidence that the spirits of our deceased states 
men were watching over and counseling those who de 
sire to re-unite the two opposing forces, fighting against 
each other on the soil of a common country. 

With much caution, the photographer answered the 
questions presented. Arranging the camera, he pro 
duced some indistinct figures, and then concluded that 
the " conditions " were not sufficiently favorable to at 
tempt anything more before the next day. On the fol 
lowing morning, Jewett appeared nervous, garru- 


Ions, and excited at the prospect of being in the pres 
ence of those great men, whose spirits he desired to 
invoke. The apparatus was prepared ; utter silence 
imposed, and for some time the heart of the peace- 
seeker could almost be heard thumping within the 
breast of him who sought supernatural aid, in his ef 
forts to end our cruel civil war. Then, overcome by 
his own thoughts, Jewett disturbed the " conditions " 
by changing his position, and muttering short invoca 
tions, adressed to the shades of those he wished to be 
hold. The operator finally declared he could not pro 
ceed, and postponed his performance for that day. So, 
excuses were made, until the mental condition of Mr. 
Jewett had reached that state which permitted the pho 
tographer to expect the most complete success Every 
thing being prepared, Jewett breathlessly awaited the 
expected presence. Quietly the operator produced the 
spectral representation of the elder Adams. Jewett 
scrutinized the plate, and expressed a silent wonder, ac 
companied, no doubt, with some mental appeals ad 
dressed to the ancient statesman. Then, writing the 
name of Webster upon a slip of paper, he passed it 
over to the photographer, who gravely placed the scrap 
of writing upon the camera, and presently drew there 
from the " ghost-like " but well remembered features 
of the " Sao;e of Marshfield." Colorado Jewett was 


now thoroughly impressed with the spiritual power pro 
ducing these images ; and in ecstacy breathed a prayer 
that Andrew Jackson might appear to lend his counte 
nance to the conference he wished to hold with the 
mighty dead. Jackson s well known features came out 


upon call, after due manipulation of the proper instru 
ment. " Glorious trio of departed statesmen ! " thought 
Jewett, " help us by your counsels in this the day of 
our nation s great distress." Next Henry Clay s out 
line was faintly shown from the tomb, and here the 
sitter remarked that he expected him. After him came 
Stephen A. Douglas, and the whole affair was so entire 
ly satisfactory to Jewett, that, after paying fifty dollars 
for what he had witnessed, he, the next day, implored 
the presence of George Washington, offering fifty dol 
lars more for a " spiritual " sight of the " Father of our 
Country." This request smote upon the ear of the 
photographer like an invitation to commit sacrilege. 
His reverence for the memory of Washington was not 
to be disturbed by the tempting offer of so many green 
backs. He could not allow the features of that great 
man to be used in connection with an imposture perpe 
trated upon so deluded a fanatic as Colorado Jewett. 
In short, the " conditions were unfavorable for the ap 
parition of " General Washington ; " and his visitor 
must remain satisfied with the council of great men that 
had been called from the spirit world to instill wisdom 
into the noddle of a foolish man on this terrestrial plan 
et. Having failed to obtain, by the agency of the ope 
rator, a glimpse of Washington, Jewett clasped his 
hands together, and sinking upon his knees, said, look 
ing toward Heaven : " O spirit of the immortal Wash 
ington ! look down upon the warring elements that con 
vulse our country, and kindly let thy form appear, to 
lend its influence toward re-uniting a nation convulsed 
with civil war ! " 


It is needless to say that this prayer was not an 
swered. The spirit would not come forth ; and, al 
though quieted by the explanations and half promises 
of the photographer, the peace-messenger departed, con 
vinced that he had been in the presence of five great 
statesmen, and saddened by the reflection that the shade 
of the immortal Washington had turned away its face 
from those who had refused to follow the counsels he 
gave while living. 

Soon after this, Jewett ordered duplicates of these 
photographs to the value of $20 more. I now have on 
exhibition in my Museum several of the veritable por 
traits taken at this time, in which the well-known form 
and face of Mr. Jewett are plainly depicted, and on 
one of which appears the shade of Henry Clay, on 
another that of Napoleon the First, and on others ladies 
supposed to represent deceased feminines of great ce 
lebrity. It is said that Jewett sent one of the Napo 
leonic pictures to the Emperor Louis Napoleon. 

Not Ions: after Colorado Jewett had beheld these 


wonderful pictures, and worked himself up into the be 
lief that he was surrounded by the great and good 
statesmen of a former generation, a lady, without mak 
ing herself known, called upon the photographer. I 
am informed that she is the wife of a distinguished 
official. She had heard of the success of others, and 
came to verify their -experience under her own bereave 
ment. Completely satisfied by the apparition exhib 
ited, she asked for and obtained a spectral photograph 
resembling her son, who, some months previously, had 
gone to the spirit-land. It is said that the same lady 


asked for and obtained a spiritual photograph of her 
brother, whom she had recently heard was slain in bat 
tle ; and when she returned home she found him alive, 
and as well as could be expected under the circum 
stances. But this did not shake her faith in the least. 
She simply remarked that some evil spirit had assumed 
her brother s form in order to deceive her. This is a 
very common method of spiritualists " digging out " 
when the impositions of the " money-operators " are 
detected. This same lady has recently given her per 
sonal influence in favor of the " medium " Colchester, 
in Washington. One of these impressions bearing the 
likeness of this distinguished lady was accidentally re 
cognized by a visitor. This capped the climax of the 
imposture and satisfied the photographer that he was 
committing a grave injury upon society by continuing 
to produce " spiritual pictures," and subsequently he 
refused to lend himself to any more " manifestations " 
of this kind. He had exhausted the fun. 

I need only explain the modus operandi of effecting 
this illusion, to make apparent to the most ignorant 
that no supernatural agency was required to produce 
photographs bearing a resemblance to the persons whose 
" apparition " was desired. The photographer always 
took the precaution of inquiring about the deceased, his 
appearance and ordinary mode of wearing the hair. 
Then, selecting from countless old " negatives " the 
nearest resemblance, it was produced for the visitor, in 
dim, ghostlike outline differing so much from anything 
of the kind ever produced, that his customers seldom 
failed to recognize some lineament the dead person pos- 


sessed when living, especially if such relative had de 
ceased long since. The spectral illusions of Adams, 
Webster, Jackson, Clay, and Douglas were readily ob 
tained from excellent portraits of the deceased states 
men, from which the scientific operator had prepared 
his illusions for Colorado Jewett. 

In placing before my readers this incident of " Spir- 
tual Photography," I can assure them that the facts 
are substantially as related ; and I am now in corres 
pondence with gentlemen of wealth and position who 
have signified their willingness to support this state 
ment by affidavits and other documents prepared for 
the purpose of opening the eyes of the people to the 
delusions daily practised upon the ignorant and super 





44 The Banner of Light," a weekly journal of romance, 
literature, and general intelligence, published in Bos 
ton, is the principal organ of spiritualism in this coun 
try. Its " general intelligence " is rather questionable, 
though there is no doubt about its being a "journal of 
romance," strongly tinctured with humbug and impos 
ture. It has a " Message Department," the proprie- 


tors of the paper claiming that " each message in this 
department of the " Banner " was spoken by the spirit 
whose name it bears, through the instrumentality of 
Mrs. J. H. Conant, while in an abnormal condition 
called the trance. 

I give a few specimens of these " messages." Thus, 
for instance, discoursed! the Ghost of Lolley : 

" How do? Don t know me, do you ? Know George 
Lolley ? [Yes. How do you do ? ] I m first rate. I m 
dead ; ain t you afraid of me ? You know I was familiar 
with those sort of things, so I wasn t frightened to go. 

" Well, won t you say to the folks that I m all right, 
and happy ? that I didn t suffer a great deal, had a pretty 
severe wound, got over that all right ; went out from 
Petersburg. I was in the battle before Petersburg; got 
my discharge from there. Remember me kindly to Mr. 

" Well, tell em as soon as I get the wheels a little 
greased up and in running order I ll come back with the 
good things, as I said I would, George W. Lolley. 

Immediately after a " message " from the spirit of 
John Morgan, the guerrilla, came one from Charles 
Talbot, who began as follows with a curious apostro 
phe to his predecessor : 

" Hi-yah ! old grisly. It s lucky for you I didn t get in 
ahead of you. 

"I am Charlie Talbot, of Chambersburg, Pa. Was 
wounded in action, captured by the Rebels, and died on 
their hands as they say of the horse." 

It seems a little rude for one " spirit " to term anoth 
er " Old Grisly ; " but such may be the style of com 
pliment prevailing in the spirit-world. 


Here is what Brother Klink said : 

"John Klink, of the Twenty-fifth South Carolina. I 
want to open communication with Thomas Lefar, Charles 
ton, S. C. I am deucedly ignorant about this coming 
back dead railroad business. It s new business to me, 
as I suppose it will be to some of you when you travel 
this way. Say I will do the best I can to communicate 
with my friends, if they will give me an opportunity. I 
desire Mr. Lefar to send my letter to my family when he 
receives it he knows where they are and then re 
port to this office. 

" Good night, afternoon or morning, I don t know which. 
I walked out at Petersburg." 

Here is a message from George W. Gage, with some 
of the questions which he answered : 

" [How do you like your new home ?] First rate. I 
likes heigho ! I likes to come here, for they clears all 
the truck away before you get round, and fix up so you 
can talk right off. [Wasn t you a medium ?] No, Sir ; 
I wasn t afraid, though ; nor my mother ain t, either. 
Oh, I knew about it ; I knew before I come to die, about 
it. My mother told me about it. I knew I d be a wo 
man when I come here, too. [Did you ?] Yes, sir ; my 
mother told me, and said I musn t be afraid. Oh, I don t 
likes that, but I likes to come. 

" I forgot, Sir ; my mother s deaf j and always had to 
holler. That gentleman says folks ain t deaf here." 

The observable points are first that he seems to have 
excused his " hollering" by the habits consequent upon 
his mother s deafness. The " hollering consisted of 
unusually heavy thumping, I suppose. But the second 
point is of far greater interest. George intimates that 


he has changed his " sect," and become a woman ! 
For this important alteration his good mother had pre 
pared his mind. This style of thing will not seem so 
strange if we consider that some men become old wo 
men before they die ! 

Here is another case of feminifi cation and restitu 
tion combined. Hans Von Vleet has become a vrow 
what you may call a female Dutchman ! It has al 
ways been claimed that women are purer and better 
than men ; and accordingly we see that as soon as Hans 
became a woman he insisted on his widow s returning 
to a Jew two thousand dollars that naughty Hans had 
" Christianed " the poor Hebrew out of. But let Hans 
tell his own story : 

" I was Hans Yon Vleet ven I vas here. 1 vas Von 
Vleet here ; I is one vrow now. I is one vrow ven I 
comes back ; I vas no vrow ven I vas here (alluding to 
the fact that he was temporarily occuping the form of our 
medium.) I wish you to know that I first live in Harlem, 
State of New York. Ven I vos here, I take something I 
had no right to take, something that no belongs to me. 
I takes something ; I takes two thousand dollars that was 
no my own ; that s what I come back to say about. I 
first have some dealings with one Jew ; that s what you 
call him. He likes to Jew me, and I likes to Christian 
him. I belongs to the Dutch Reform Church. (Do you 
think you were -a good member?) Veil, I vas. I be 
lieves in the creed ; I takes the sacrament ; I lives up to 
it outside. I no lives up to it inside, I suppose. (How 
do you find yourself now, Hans ?) Veil, I finds myself 
veil, I don t know; I not feel very happy. Ven I 
comes to the spirit-land, I first meet that Jew s brother, 
and he tells me, Hans, you raus go back and makes some 
right with my brother. So I comes here. 

"I vants my vrow, what I left in Harlem, to takes that 


two tousand dollars and gives it back to that Jew s vrow. 
That s what I came for to-day, Sir. (Has your vrow got 
it ?) Veil, my vrow has got it in a tin box. Yen I first 
go, I takes the money, I gives it to my vrow, and she 
takes care of it. Now I vants my vrow to give that 
two tousand dollars to that Jew s vrow. 

" (How do you spell your name ?) The vrow knows 
how to spell. (Hans Von Vleet.) There s a something 
you cross in it. The vrow spells the rest. Ah, that s 
wrong; you makes a blunder. Its V. not F. That s like 
all vrows. (Do all vrows make blunders ?) Veil, I don t 
know ; all do sometimes, I suppose. (Didn t you like 
vrows here ?) Oh, veil, I likes em sometimes. I likes 
mine own vrow. I not likes to be a vrow myself. 
(Don t the clothes fit ?) Ah, veil, I suppose they fits, 
but I not likes to wear what not becomes me." 

It is scarcely necessary to make comments on such 
horrible nonsense as this. I may recur to the subject 
in future, should it appear expedient. At present I 
must drop the subject of female men. 

At the head of the " Message Department " is a 
standing advertisement, which reads as follows : 

" Our free circles are held at No. 158 Washington 
street, Room No. 4 (up stairs,) on Monday, Tuesday and 
Thursday afternoons. The circle-room will be open for 
visitors at two o clock ; services commence at precisely 
three o clock, after which time no one will be admitted. 
Donations solicited." 

On the days and at the hour mentioned in the above 
advertisement, quite an audience assembles to hear the 
messages Mrs. C. may have to deliver. If a stran 
ger present should request a message from one of his 
spirit-friends, he would be told that a large number of 


spirits were seeking to communicate through that 
" instrument," and each must await his turn ! Having 
read obituary notices in the files of old newspapers, 
and the published list of those recently killed in battle, 
the medium has data for any number of "messages." 
She talks in the style that she imagines the person 
whom she attempts to personate w r ould use, being one 
of the doctrines of spiritualism that a person s charac 
ter and feelings are not changed by death. To make 
the humbug more complete, she narrates imaginary in 
cidents, asserting them to have occurred in the earth- 
experience of the spirit who purports to have possession 
of her at the same time she is speaking. Mediums in 
various parts of the country furnish her with the names 
of and facts relative to different deceased people of 
their acquaintance, and those names and facts are used 
by her in supplying the " Message Department " of the 
" Banner of Light." 

If the assumed " mediumship " of this woman was 
not an imposture, some of the many people who have 
visited her for the purpose of getting communications 
from their spirit-friends would have been gratified. In 
most of the " messages " published in the Banner, the 
spirits purporting to give them, express a great desire 
to have their mortal friends receive them ; but those 
mortals who seek to obtain through Mrs. Conant satis 
factory messages from their spirit-friends, are not grati 
fied the medium riot being posted. The mediums 
are as much opposed to " new tests " as a non-committal 

Time and again have leading spiritualists, in various 


parts of the country, indorsed as " spiritual manifesta 
tions," what was subsequently proved to be an impos 

Several years ago, a man by the name of Paine cre 
ated a great sensation in Worcester, Mass., by causing 
a table to move " without contact," he claiming that it 
was done by spirits through his " mediumship." He 
subsequently came to New York, and exhibited the 
" manifestation " at the house of a spiritualist where 
he boarded in the upper part of the city. A great 
many spiritualists and not a few " skeptics " went to see 
his performance. Paine was a very soft-spoken, " good 
sort of a fellow," and appeared to be quite sincere in 
his claims to " mediumship." He received no fee from 
those who witnessed his exhibition ; and that fact, in 
connection with others, tended to disarm people of sus 
picion. His seances were held in the evening, and each 
visitor was received by him at the door, and immedi 
ately conducted to a seat next the wall of the room. 

The visitors all in and seated, Mr. Paine took a seat 
with the rest in the " circle." In the middle of the 
room a small table had previously been placed, and the 
gas had been turned partly off, leaving just enough 
light to make objects look ghostly. 

In order to get "harmonized," singing was indulged 
in for a short time by members of the " circle." Soon 
a number of raps would be heard in the direction of 
the table, and one side of that piece of furniture would 
be seen to rise about an inch from the floor. Some 
very naturally wanted to rush to the table and investi 
gate the matter more closely, but Paine forbade that 


the necessary " conditions " must be observed, he said, 
or there would be no further manifestation of spirit- 
power. As there was no one nearer to the table than 
six or eight feet, the fact of its moving, very naturally 
astonished the skeptics present. Several " seeing me 
diums " who attended Mr. Paine s stances, were able 
to see the spirits so they declared who moved the 
table. One was described as a " big Injun," who cut 
various capers, and appeared to be much delighted with 
the turn of affairs. Believers were wonderfully well- 
pleased to know that at last a medium was " developed " 
through whom the inhabitants of another world could 
manifest their presence to mortals in such a way that 
no one could gainsay the fact. The " invisibles " free 
ly responded, by raps on the table, to various questions 
asked by those in the " circle." They thumped time 
to lively tunes, and seemed to have a decidedly good 
time of it in their particular way. When the stance 
was concluded, Mr. Paine freely permitted an examina 
tion of his table. 

In the Sunday Spiritual Conferences, then held in 
Clinton Hall, leading spiritualists gave an account of 
the " manifestations of the spirits " through Mr. Paine, 
and, as believers, congratulated themselves upon the 
existence of such " indubitable facts." The spiritual 
ist in whose house this exhibition of table-moving 
" without contact " took place, was well known as a 
man of strict honesty ; and it was reasonably presumed 
that no mechanical contrivance could be used without 
his cognizance, in thus moving a piece of his furniture 
for the table belonged to him and that he would 


countenance a deception was out of the question. 


There were in the city three gentlemen who had, for 
some time, been known as spiritualists ; but they were, 
at the period of Paine s debut as a medium in New 
York, very skeptical with regard to tc physical manifes 
tations." They had, a short time before, detected the 
Davenports and other professsed mediums in the prac 
tice of imposture ; and they determined not to accept, 
as true, Paine s pretence to mediumship, till after a 
thorough investigation of his " manifestations," they 
should fail to find a material cause for them. After at 
tending several of his seances, these gentlemen conclud 
ed that Paine moved the table by means of a mechani 
cal contrivance fixed under the floor. One of this trio 
of investigators was a mechanic, and he had conceived 
a way and it seemed to him the only way in which 
the " manifestation " could be produced under the cir 
cumstances that apparently attended it. Paine was a 
mechanic, and these parties were aware of that fact. 
They made an appointment with him for a private 
seance. The evening fixed upon, having arrived, they 
met with him at his room. The table was raised and 
raps were made upon it, as had been done on previous 
occasions. One of the three investigators stepped to 
the door of the room, locked it, put the key in his pock 
et, took off his coat, and told Mr. Paine that he was 
determined to search his (Paine s) person, and that if 
he did not find about him a small short iron rod, by 
means of, which, through a hole in the floor, a lever 
underneath was worked in moving the table, he (the 
speaker) would beg his (Mr. Paine s) pardon, and be 
forever after a firm believer in the power of disembod- 


ied spirits to move ponderable bodies. This impressive 
little speech had a decided and instant effect upon the 
" medium." " Gentlemen," said the latter, " 1 might 
as well own up. Please to be quietly seated, and I will 
tell you all about it." And he did tell them all about 
it ; subsequently repeating his confession before quite a 
number of disgusted and cheaply sold spiritualists at 
the " New York Spiritual Lyceum." The theory 
formed by one of the three investigators referred to, as 
to Paine s method of moving the table, was singularly 

Whilst the family with whom Paine boarded was 
away, one day, in attendance at a funeral, he took up 
several of the floor boards of the back parlor, and on 
the under side of them affixed a lever, with a cross- 
piece at one end of it ; and, in the ends of the cross- 
piece, bits of wire were inserted, the wire being just as 
far apart as the legs of the table to be moved. Small 
holes were made in the floor-boards for the wire to come 
through to reach the table-legs. The other end of the 
lever came within an inch or two of the wall. When 
all the arrangements were completed, and the table 
being properly placed in order to move it, Mr. Paine 
had only to insert one end of a short iron rod in a hole 
in the heel of his boot, put the other end of the rod 
through a hole in the floor, just under the edge of the 
carpet near the wall, and then press the rod down upon 
the end of the lever. 

The movements necessary in fixing the iron rod to 
its place were executed while he was picking up his 
handkerchief, that he had purposely dropped. 


The middle of the lever was attached to the floor, 
and the end with the cross-piece, being the heavier, 
brought the other end close up against the floor, the 
wires in the cross-piece having their points just within 
the bottom of the holes in the floor. The room was 
carpeted, and there were little marks on the carpet, 
known only to Paine, that enabled him to know just 
where to place the table. Pressing down the end of 
the lever nearest the wall, an inch would bring the 
wires in the cross-piece on the other end of the lever 
against the leo-s of the table, and slightlv raise the lat- 

& o o .< 

ter. One of the wires would strike the table-leg a 
very little before the other did, and that enabled the 
" medium " to very nicely rap time to the tunes that 
were sung or played. Of course, no holes that any 
one could observe would be made in the carpet by the 
passage of the wires through it. 

For appearance sake, Paine, before his detection, 
visited, by invitation, the houses of several different 
spiritualists, for the purpose of holding seances ; but he 
never got a table to move " without contact " in any 
other than the place where he had properly prepared 
the conditions. 









I hear from spiritualists sometimes. These gentry 
are much exercised in their minds by my letters about 
them, and some of them fly out at me very much as 
bumble-bees do at one who stirs up their nest. For in 
stance, I received, not long ago, from my good friends, 
Messrs. Cauldwell & Whitney, an anonymous letter 
to them, dated at Washington, and suggesting that if 
I would attend what the latter calls " a seance of that 
celebrated humbug, Foster," I should see something 
that I could not explain. Now, this anonymous letter, 
as I know by a spiritual communication, (or otherwise,) 
is in a handwriting very wonderfully like that of Mr. 
Foster himself. And as for the substance of it, it is 
very likely that Foster has now r gotten up some new 
tricks. He needs them. The exhibiting mediums 


must, of course, contrive new tricks as fast as Dr. Von 
Vleck and men like him show up their old ones. It is 
the universal method of all sorts of impostors to adopt 
new means of fooling people when their old ones are 


exposed. And Mr. Foster shall have all the attention 
he wants if I ever find the leisure to bestow on him, 
though my time is fully occupied with worthier objects. 
I have also been complimented with a buzz and an 
attempt to sting from my old friend S. B. Brittan, the 
ex-Universalist minister the very surprisingly effi 
cient " man Friday " of Andrew Jackson Davis, in the 
production of the " Revelations " of the said Davis, and 
also ghost-fancier in general ; who has .gently aired 
part of his vocabulary in a communication to the " Ban 
ner of Light," with the heading " Exposed for Two 
Shillings." I can afford very well to expose friend 
Biittan and his spiritualist humbugs for two shillings. 
The honester the cheaper. It evidently vexes the 
spiritualists to have their ghosts put with the monkeys 
in the Museum. They can t help it, though ; and it is 
my deliberate opinion that the monkeys are much the 
most respectable. I have no wish to displease any honest 
person ; but the more the spiritualists squirm, and snarl, 
and scold, and call names, the more they show that I 
am hurting them. Or does my friend Brittan him 
self want an engagement at the Museum ? Will he pro 
duce some " manifestations" there, and get that $500 ? 
the money is ready ! 

A valued friend of mine has furnished me a pleasant 
and true narrative of a fine " spiritual " humbug which 
took place in a respectable Massachusetts village not 
\ery long ago. I give the story in his own graphic 
words : 

" Two artists of Boston, tired of the atmosphere of 
their studios, resolved themselves, in joint session, into 


spiritual mediums, as a means of raising the wind or 
the devil and of getting a little fresh air in the rural 
districts. One of them had learned Mansfield s trick 
of answering communications and that of writing on 
the arms. They had large handbills printed, announc 
ing that " Mr. W. Howard, the celebrated test-medium, 

would visit the town of , and would remain at 

the Hotel during three days." One of the artists 

preceded the other by a few hours, engaged rooms, and 
attended to sundry preliminaries. " Mr. Howard " 
donned a white choker, put his hair behind his ears, 
and mounted a pair of plain glass spectacles ; and such 
was his profoundly spiritual appearance on entering his 
apartments at the hotel, that he had to lock the door 
and give his partner opportunity to explode, and abso 
lutely roll about on the floor with laughter. 

" Well, they rigged a clothes-horse for a screen ; and 
to heighten the effect, the assistant, who was expert in 
portraiture, covered this screen, and, indeed, the walls 
of the room, with scraggy outlines of the human coun 
tenance upon large sheets of paper. These, they said, 
were executed by the draftsman, whose right hand, 
when under spiritual influence, uncontrollably jerked 
off these likenesses. They added, that the spirits had 
given information that, before the mediums left town, 
the people would recognize these pictures as likenesses 
of persons there deceased within twenty years or so. 
Price, two dollars each ! They absolutely sold quite a 
large number of these portraits, as they were from time 
to time recognized by surviving friends ! The operation 
of drawi.ig portraits was alsolllustrated at certain hours, 


admission, fifty cents ; if not satisfactory, the money 

" Other tricks of various kinds were performed with 
pleasure to all parties and profit to the performers. The 
artists stood it as long as they could, and then departed. 
But there was every indication that the towns-people 
would have stood it until this day." 

Thus far my friend s curious and truthful account. 

A little while ago, there was exhibiting, at Washing 
ton, a " test-medium " whose name I would print, were 
it not that I do not want to advertise him. One of his 
most impressive feats was, to cause spiritual hands and 
other parts of the human frame to appear in the air 
a la Davenport Brothers. A gentleman, whose name I 
also know very well indeed, but have particular reasons 
for not mentioning, went one day to see this " test- 
medium," along with a friend, and asked to see a hand. 
" Certainly," the medium said ; and the room was dark 
ened, and the " circle " made round the table in the 
usual manner. After about five minutes, my friend, 
who had contrived to place himself pretty near the me 
dium, saw, sure enough, a dim glimmering blue light 
in the air, a foot or so before and above the head of the 
medium. In a minute, he could see, dimly outlined in 
this blue light, the form of a hand, back toward him, 
fingers together, and no thumb. 

" Why is no thumb visible ? " asked my friend of the 
medium in a solemn manner. 

" The reason is," said the medium, still more solemn 
ly, " that the spirits have not power enough to produce 
a whole hand and so they exhibit as much as they can." 

. I 


, " And do they always show hands without thumbs ? " 

" Yes." 

Here my friend, with a sudden jump, grabbed for the 
place where the wrist of the mysterious hand ought to 
be. Strange to relate, he caught it, and held it stoutly, 
to. A light was quickly had, when, still stranger, the 
spirit-hand was clearly seen to be the fleshy paw of the 
medium and a fat paw it was too. Mr. Medium 
took the matter with the coolness of a thorough rascal, 
and, lighting a cigar, merely observed : 

" Well gentlemen, you needn t trouble yourselves to 
come here any more ! " 

He also insisted on his usual fee of five dollars, until 
threatened with a prosecution for swindling. 

The secret of this worthy gentleman is simple and 
soon told. Holding one hand up in the air, he held up 
with the other, between the thumb and finger, a little 
pinch of phosphorus and bi-sulphide of carbon, which 
gave the blue light. If inconvenient to hold up the 
other hand, he had a reserve pinch of blue-light under 
that invisible thumb. It is a curious instance of the 
thorough credulity of genuine spiritualists that a believer 
in this wretched rogue, on being circumstantially told 
this whole story, not only steadily and firmly refused to 
credit it, and continued his faith in the fellow, but abso 
lutely would not go to see the application of any other 
test. That s the sort of follower that is worth having ! 

Another case was witnessed as follows, by the very 
same person on whose authority I give the spirit-hand 
story. He was present also, this time in Washington, 
as it happened, at an exhibition by a certain pair of spirit- 


ual brothers, since well known as the " Davenport 

These chaps, after the fashion of their kind, caused 
themselves to be tied up in a rope, an old sea-captain 
tying them. This done, their " shop" or cabinet, was 
shut upon them as usual, and the bangs, throwing of 
sticks, etc., through a window, and the like, took place. 
Well, this sly and inconvenient old sea-captain now slip 
ped out of the hall a few minutes, and came back with 
some wheat flour. Having tied up the " brothers " 
again, be remarked : 

" Now, gentlemen, please to take, each, your two 
hands full of wheat flour." 

The " brothers " got mad and flatly refused. Then 
they cooled down and argued, saying it wouldn t make 
any difference, and was of no use. 

" Well, 7 said the ancient mariner, u if it won t make 
any difference you can just as well do it, can t you? " 

The audience, seeing the point, were so evidently 
pleased with the old sailor, that the grumbling "broth 
ers " though with a very bad grace, took their fists full 
of flour, and were shut up. 

There was not the least sign of a " manifestation " 
no more than if the wheat-flour had shot the " broth 
ers " dead in their tracks. The audience were immensely 
delighted. The " brothers," since that time, have learn 
ed to perform some tricks with flour in their fists, but 
only when tied by their own friends. 

Since these facts came to my knowledge, the Daven 
port Brothers have suffered an unpleasant exposure in 
Liverpool, in England, the details of which have been 


, kindly forwarded to me by attentive friends there. The 
circumstances in question occurred on the evenings of 
Tuesday and Wednesday, February 14 and 15,1865. 
On the first of these evenings, a gentleman named Cum 
mins, selected by the audience as one of the Tying 
Committee, tied one of the Brothers, and a Mr. Hulley, 
the other committee-man, the other. But the Brothers 
saw instantly that they could not wriggle out of these 
knots. They, therefore, refused to let the tying be finish 
ed, saying that it was " brutal " although a surgeon 
present said it w^as not ; one tied brother was untied by 
Ferguson, the agent ; and then the Brothers went to 
work and performed their various tricks without the 
supervison of any committee, but amid a constant fire 
of derision, laughter, groans, shouts, and epithets from 
the audience. On the next evening, the audience insist 
ed on having the same committee ; the Brothers were 
very reluctant to allow it, but had to do so after a long 
time. Ira Davenport refused again, however, instantly 
to be tied, as soon as he saw what knot Mr. Cummins 
was going to use. Cummins, however, though Ira 
squirmed most industriously, got him tied fast, and then 
Ira called to Ferguson to cut the knot ! Ferguson did 
so, and cut Ira s hand. Ira now shewed the blood to 
the audience, and the Brothers, with an immense pre 
tense of indignation, went off the stage. Cummins at 
once explained ; the audience became disgusted, and, 
enraged at the impudence of the imposture, broke 
over the foot-lights, knocked Ferguson backward into 
the " cabinet ; " and when the discomfited agent had 
scrambled out and run away, smashed the thing fairly 


into kindling-wood, and carried it off, all distributed 
into splinters and chips. Early next morning, the ter 
rified Davenports ran away out of Liverpool ; and a 
number of the audience were, at last accounts, intending 
to go to law to get back the money paid for an exhibition 
which they did not see. 

The very thorough exposure of the Davenports thus 
made is an additional proof if such were needed of 
the truth of \vhat I have alleged about the impostures 
perpetrated by them and their " mysterious " brethren 
of the exhibiting sort. 

Once the " spirits " were " stumped " with a shingle 
a very proper yankee jaw-bone of an ass to route 
such disembodied Philistines. One day a certain per 
son was present where some tables were rambling about, 
and other revolutions taking place in the furniture- 
business, when he stepped boldly forth like a herald 
bearing defiance, and cast down a common white pine 
shingle upon the floor. " There," said he, coolly, " if 
you can trot those tables about in that style, do it with 
that shingle. Make it go about the room. Make it 
move an inch ! " And lo, and behold ! the shingle lay 
perfectly still. 









Other " spiritual " facts have come to my hand, some 
of them furnishing additional details about persons to 
whom I have already alluded, and others being impor 
tant to illustrate some general tendencies of spiritual 

And first, about the Davenport Brothers ; they have 
met with another "awful exposure," at the hands of a 
merciless Mr. Addison. This gentleman is a London 
stockbroker, and his cool, sharp business habits seem to 
have stood him in good stead in taking some fun out of 
the fools who follow the Davenports. Mr. Addison, it 
seems, went to work, and, just to amuse his friends, ex 
ecuted all the Davenport tricks. Upon this the spirit 
ualist newspapers in England, which, like the Boston 
Herald of Progress, claim to believe in the " Brothers," 
came out and said that Addison was a very wonderful 
medium indeed. On this the cold-blooded Addison at 
once printed a letter, in which he not only said he had 
done all their tricks without spiritual aid, but he more 
over explained exactly how he caught the Davenports 


in their impositions. He and a long-legged friend went 
to one of the " dark sdances " of the Davenports, dur 
ing which musical instruments were to fly about over 
the heads of the audience, bang their pates, thrum, 
twang, etc. Addison and his friend took a front seat ; 
as soon as the lights were put out they put out their 
legs too ; stretching as far as possible ; and, to use the 
unfeeling language of Mr. Addison, they " soon had 
the satisfaction of feeling some one falling over them." 
They then caught hold of an arm, from which a guitar 
was forthwith let drop on the floor. In order to be 
certain who the guitar-carrier was, they waited until 
the next time the lights were put out, took each a 
mouthful of dry flour, and blew it out right among the 
" manifestations." When the lamps were lighted, lo 
and behold ! there was Fay, the agent and manager of 
the Davenports, with his back all powdered with flour. 
Addison showed this to an . acquaintance, who said, 
" Yes, he saw the flour ; but he could not understand 
what made Addison and his friend laugh so excessively 
at it." 

The spiritualist newspapers don t think Addison is so 
great a medium as they did ! 

Great accounts have recently come eastward from 


Chicago, of a certain Doctor Newton, who is said to be 
working miracles by the hundred in the way of healing 
diseases. This man operates with exactly the weapons 
all the miracle-workers, quacks, and impostors, ancient 
and modern use. All of them have appealed to the 
imaginations of their patients, and no person acquainted 
with mental philosophy is ignorant that many a sick 


man has been cured either by medicine and imagination 
together, or by imagination alone. Therefore, even if 
this Newton should really be the cause of the recovery 
of some persons from their ailments, it would be no 
more a miracle than if Dr. Mott should do it ; nor 
would Newton be any the less a quack and a humbug. 

Newton has operated at the East already. He had 
a career at New Haven and Hartford, and in other 
places, before he steered westward in the wake of the 
"Star of Empire." What he does is simply to ask 
what is the matter, and where it hurts. Then he sticks 
his thumb into the seat of the difficulty, or he pokes or 
strokes or pats it, as the case may be. Then he says, 
"There you re cured! God bless you! Take 
yourself off ! " 

Chicago must be a credulous place, for we are in 
formed of immense crowds besieging this man, and un 
dergoing his manipulations. One of the Chicago pa 
pers, having little faith and a good deal of fun which 
in such cases is much better published some burlesque 
stories and certificates about " Doctor " Newton, some 
of them humorous enough. There is a certificate from 
a woman with fourteen children, all having the measles 
at once. She says that no sooner had Doctor Newton 
received one lock of hair of one of them, than the 
measles left them all, and she now has said measles 
corked up in a bottle ! Another case was that of a 
merchant who had lost his strength, but went and was 
stroked by Newton, and the very next day was able to 
lift a note in bank, which had before been altogether 
too heavy for him. There was also an old lady, whose 


story I fear was imitated from Hood s funny conceit of 
the deaf woman who bought an ear-trumpet, which 
was so effective that 

" The very next day 

She heard from her husband in Botany Bay ! " 

The Chicago old lady in like manner, after having 
had Doctor Newton s thumbs "jobbed " into her ears, 
certifies that she heard next morning from her son in 

One would think that this ridicule would put the 
learned Dr. Newton to flight ; but it will not until he 
is through with the fools. 

I have already given an account of some of the mes 
sages from the other world in the " Banner of Light," 
in which some of the spirits explain that they have 
turned into women since they died. This is by no 
means the first remarkable trick that the spirits have 
performed upon the human organization. Here is what 
they did at High Rock, in Massachusetts, a number of 
years ago. It beats Joanna Southcott in funny absurd 
ity, if not in blasphemy. 

At High Rock, in the year 1854 or thereabouts, cer 
tain spiritualist people were building some mysterious 
machinery. While this was in process of erection, a 
female medium, of considerable eminence in those parts, 
was informed by certain spirits, with great solemnity 
and pomp, that " she would become the Mary of a new 
dispensation ; " that is, she was going to be a mother. 
Well, this was all proper, no doubt, and the lady her 
self so say the spiritualist accounts had for some 
time experienced indications that she was pregnant 


These indications continued, and became increasingly 
obvious, and also, it was observed, a little queer in some 

After a while, one Spear a " Reverend Mr. Spear " 
who was mixed up, it appears, with the machinery- 
part of the business, and who was a medium himself, 
transmitted to the lady a request from the spirits that 
she would visit said Spear at High Rock on a* certain 
day. She did so, of course ; and while there was un 
expectedly taken with the pains of childbirth, which the 
spiritualist authorities say, were " internal " where 
should they be, pray ? and " of the spirit rather than 
of the physical nature ; but were, nevertheless, quite as 
uncontrollable as those of the latter, and not less severe." 
The labor proceeded. It lasted two hours. As it 
went on, lo and behold ! one part and another part of 
the machinery began to move ! And when, at the end 
of the two hours, the parturition was safely over, all the 
machinery was going ! 

The lady had given birth to a Motive Force. Does 
anybody suppose I am manufacturing this story ? Not 
a bit of it. It is all told at length in a book published 
by a spiritualist ; and probably a good many of my read 
ers will remember about it. 

Well, the baby had to be nursed fact ! This 
superhumanly silly female actually went through the 
motions of nursing the motive force for some weeks. 
Though how the thing sucked Excuse me, ladies ; I 
would not discuss such delicate subjects did not the in 
terests of truth require it. 

If I had been the physician, at any rate, I think I 


should have recommended to hire a healthy female 
steam-engine for a wet nurse to this young motive force ; 
say a locomotive, for instance. I feel sure the thing 
would have lived if it could have had a guao-e-faucet 

O ?5 

or something of that sort to draw on. But the medi 
cal folks in charge chose to permit the mother to 
nurse the child, and she not being able to supply proper 
nutriment, the poor little innocent faded if that 
word be appropriate for what couldn t be seen, and 
finally >c crin eout ; " and the machinery, after some 
abortive joggles and turns, stood hopelessly still. 

This story is true that is, it is true that the story 
was told, the pretences were gone through, and the 
birth was actually believed by a good many people. 
Some of them were prodigiously enthusiastic about it, 
and called the invisible brat the New Motive Power, 
the Physical Savior, Heaven s Last Best Gift to Man, 
the New Creation, the Great Spiritual Revelation of the 
Age, the Philosopher s Stone, the Act of all Acts, and 
so on, and so forth. 

The great question of all was, Who was the daddy ? 
I don t know of anybody s asking this question, but its 
importance is extreme and obvious. For if things like 
this are going to happen, the ladies will be afraid to sleep 
alone in the house if so much as a sewing-machine or 
apple-corer be about, and will not dare take solitary 
walks along any stream where there is a water power. 

A couple of miscellaneous anecdotes may not inappro 
priately be appended to this story of monstrous delu 

Once a " writing medium" was producing sentences 


in various foreign languages. One of these was Arabic. 
An enthusiastic youth, a half-believer, after inspecting 
the wondrous scroll, handed it to his seat-mate, a pro 
fessor (as it happened) in one of our oldest colleges, and 
a man of real learning. The professor scrutinized the 
idocument. What was the youth s delight to hear him 
at last observe gravely, " It is a ki?id of Arabic, sure 
enough ! " 

" What kind ? " asked the young man with intense 

u Gum-arabic," said the professor. 

The spirit of the prophet Daniel came one night into 
the apartment of a medium named Fowler, # and right 
before his eyes, he said, wrote down some marks on a 
piece of paper. These were shown to the Reverend 
George Bush, Professor of Hebrew in the New- York 
University, who said that they were " a few verses 
from the last chapter of Daniel " and were learnedly 
written. Bush was a spiritualist as well as a professor 
of Hebrew, and he ought to have known better than to 
indorse spirit-Hebrew ; for shortly there came others, 
who, to use a rustic phrase, " took the rag off the Bush." 
These inconvenient personages were three or four per 
sons of learning : one a Jew, who proved that the doc 
ument was an attempt to copy the verses in question, 
by some one so ignorant of Hebrew as not to know that 
it is written backward, that is, from right to left. 

During the last few months, a " boy medium," by the 
name of Henry B. Allen, thirteen years of age, has 
been astonishing people in various parts of the country 
by u Physical Manifestations in the Light." The exlii- 


bitions of this precocious youngster have been " manag 
ed " by a Dr. Randall, who also lectures upon Spirit 
ualism, expounding its " beautiful philosophy." For a 
number of weeks this couple held forth in Boston, some 
times giving several seances during the day, not more 
than thirty being allowed to attend at one time, each of 
whom were required to pay an admission fee of one 

" The Banner of Light " fully indorsed this Allen boy, 
and gave lengthy accounts of his manifestations. The 
arrangements for his exhibition were very simple. A 
dulcimer, guitar, bell, and small drum being placed on 
a sofa or several chairs set against the wall, a clothes- 
horse was set in front of them and covered with a blan 
ket, which came to the floor. To obtain " manifesta 
tions," a person was required to take off his coat and sit 
with his back to the clothes-horse. The medium then 
took a seat close to, and facing the investigator s left 
side, and grasped the left arm of the latter on the under 
side, above the elbow, with his (the medium s) right hand 
and near the wrist with the other hand. The " manag 
er " then covered with a coat, the arms and left shoulder 
of the medium including the left arm of the investigator. 
The medium soon commenced to wriggle and twist 
the " manager " said he was always nervous under u in 
fluence " and worked the coat away from the position 
in which it had been placed. Taking his right hand 
from the investigator s arm, he readjusted the coat, and 
availed himself of that opportunity to get the investiga 
tor s wrist between his (the medium s) left arm and 
knee. That brought his left hand in such a position that 


with it he could grasp the investigator s arm where he 
had previously grasped it with his right hand. With 
the latter he could then reach around the edge of the 
clothes-horse and make a noise on the instruments. With 
the drumsticks he thumped on the dulcimer. Taking 
the guitar by the neck, he could vibrate the strings and 
show the body of the instrument above the clothes-horse, 
without any one seeing his hand ! All persons present 
were so seated that they could not see behind the 
clothes-horse, or have a view of the medium s right 
shoulder. When asked why people were not allowed to 
occupy such a position, that they could have a fair view 
of the instruments when sounded, the "manager" re 
plied that he did not exactly know, but presumed it was 
because the magnetic emanations from the eves of the 

O - 

beholders would prevent the spirits being able to move 
the instruments at all ! What was claimed to be a 
spirit-hand was often shown above the clothes-horse, 
where it flickered for an instant and was withdrawn ; 
but it was invariably a right hand with the wrist toward 
the medium. When the person sitting with the medium 
was asked if the hands of the latter had constantly hold 
of his arm, he replied in the affirmative. Of course, 
he felt what he supposed to be both the medium s 
hands ; but as I before explained, the pressure on his 
wrist was from the medium s left arm the left hand 
of whom, by means of a very accommodating crook in 
the elbow, was grasping the investigator s arm where 
the medium s right hand was supposed to be. 

From Boston the Allen boy went to Portland, 
Maine, where he succeeded " astonishingly," till some 


gentleman applied the lampblack test to his assumed 
mediumship, whereupon he " came to grief." 

The following is copied from the " Portland Daily 
Press," of March 21. 

"EXPOSED. The wonderful spiritual manifestations 
of the boy-medium, Master Henry B. Allen, in charge ot 
Doctor J.H. Randall, of Boston, were brought to a sad 
end last evening by the impertinent curiosity and wicked 
doings of some of the gentlemen present at the seance at 
Congress Hall. 

"As usual, one of the company present was selected to 
sit at the side of the boy, and allowed his hand and arm 
to be held by both hands of the boy while the manifesta 
tions were going on. The boy seized hold of the gentle 
man s wrist with his left hand, and his shoulder, or near 
it, with the right hand. The manifestations then began, 
and among them was one trick of pulling the gentleman s 

"Immediately after this trick was performed, the hand 
of the boy was discovered to be very black from lamp 
black, of the best quality, with which the gentleman 
had dressed his head on purpose to detect whose was the 
spirit-hand that pulled his hair. His shirt-sleeve, upon 
which the boy immediately replaced his hand after pull 
ing his hair, was also black where the hand had been 
placed. The gentleman stated the. facts to the company 
present, and the seance broke up. Dr. Randall refunded 
the fifty cents admission fee to those present." 

The spiritualists of the city were somewhat 


by this expose, but soon rallied as one of their number 
announced a new discovery in spiritual science. Here 
it is, as stated by himself: 

" Whatever the electrical or spirit-hand touches, 
will inevitably be transferred to the hand of the medium 


in every instance, unless something occurs to prevent 
the full operation of the law by which this result is pro 
duced. The spirit- hand being composed in part of the 
magnetic elements drawn from the medium, when it is 
dissolved again, and the magnetic fluid returns whence 
it came, it must of necessity carry with it whatever ma 
terial substance it has touched, and leave it deposited 
upon the surface or material hand of the medium. This 
is a scientific question. How many innocent mediums 
have been wronged ? and the invisible have permitted 
it, until we should discover that it was the natural re 
sult of a natural law." 

What a great discovery ! and how lucidly it is set 
forth ! The author (who, by the way, is editor of the 
" Portland Evening Courier") of this new discovery, 
was not so modest but that he hastened to announce and 
claim full credit for it in the columns of the " Banner of 
Light" - the editor of which journal congratulates him 
on having done so much for the cause of spiritualism ! 
Those skeptics who were present when the lamp-black 
was " transferred " from the gentleman s hair to the me 
dium s hand, rashly concluded that the boy was an im 
postor. It remained for Mr. Hall that is the philoso 
pher s name to make the " electro-magnetic transfer " 
discovery. The Allen boy ought ever to hold him in 
grateful remembrance for coming to his rescue at such 
a critical period, when the spirits would not vouchsafe 
an explanation that would exculpate him from the griev 
ous charge of imposture. Mr. Hall deserves a leather 
medal now, and a soapstone monument when he is 


A person, whose initials are the same as the gentle 
man s named above, once lived in Aroostook, Maine, and 
was in the habit of attending " spiritual circles," in 
which he was sometimes influenced as a " personating 
medium," and to represent the symptoms of the disease 
which caused the controlling spirit s translation to 
another sphere. It having been reported in Aroostook 
that a certain well-known individual, living further east, 
had died of cholera, a desire was expressed at the next 
" circle " to have him u manifest " himself. The me 
dium above referred to got " under influence," and per 
sonated, with an exhibition of all the symptoms of 
cholera, the gentleman who was reported to have died 
of that disease. So faithful to the supposed facts was 
the representation, that the medium had to be cared for 
as if he was himself a veritable cholera-patient. Sev 
eral days after, the man who was " personated " ap 
peared in Aroostook, alive and well, never having been 
attacked with the cholera. The local papers gave a 
graphic account of the " manifestation " soon after it 

But to return to the Allen boy. After his exposure 
by means of the lamp-black test, and Mr. Hall, of the 
" Portland Evening Courier," had announced his new 
discovery in spiritual science, several of the Portland spir 
itualists had a private " sitting * with the boy. While 
he sat with, his hands upon the arm of one of their num 
ber, they tied a rope to his wrists, and around the per 
son s arm, covering his hands in the way I have be 
fore described. After some wriorffling and twistino* 

OO 3 3 

(the usual amount of u nervousness,") the bell was 


heard to ring behind the clothes-horse. The boy s 
right hand was then examined, and it was found to be 
stained with some colored matter that had previously 
been put upon the handle of the bell. As the boy s 
wrists were still tied, and the rope remained upon the 
man s arm, the " transfer " theory was considered to be 
established as a fact, and the previous exposure shown 
to be not only no exposure at all, but a " stepping-stone 
to a grand truth in spiritual science." Again ami again 
did these persistent and infatuated spiritualists try what 
they call the " transfer test," varying with. each exper 
iment the coloring-material used, and every time the bell 
was rung the medium s right hand was found out to be 
stained with what had been put upon the bell-handle. 
By having a little slack-rope between his wrist and the 
man s arm, it was not a difficult matter for the medium, 
while his " nervousness " was beino- manifested, to set 

r> " o 

hold of the bell and ring it, and to make sounds upon the 
strings of the dulcimer or guitar, with a drumstick that 
the " manager " had placed at a convenient distance 
from his (the boy s) hand. 

The u Portland Daily Press," in noticing a lecture 
against Spiritualism, recently delivered by Dr. Von 
Vleck, in that city, says: u He (Dr. V. V.) per 
formed the principal feats of the Allen boy, with his 
hands tied to the arm of the person with whom he was 
in communication." 

Horace Greeley says that if a man will be a consum 
mate jackass and fool, he is not aware of anything in 
the Constitution to prevent it. I believe Mr. Greeley 
is right ; and I think no one can reasonably be expect- 


ed to exercise common sense unless he is known to pos 
sess it. It is quite natural, therefore, that many of the 
spiritualists, lacking common sense, should pretend to 
have something better. 




It was about eight hundred and fifty years before 
Christ when the young prophet cried out to his master, 
Elisha, over the pottage of wild gourds, " There is 
death in the pot ! " It was two thousand six hundred 
and seventy years afterward, in 1820, that Accum, the 
chemist cried out over again, " There is death in the 
pot ! " in the title page of a book so named, which 
gave almost everybody a pain in the stomach, with its 
horrid stories of the unhealthful humbugs sold for food 
and drink. This excitement has been stirred up more 
than once since Mr. Accum s time, with some success ; 
yet nothing is more certain than that a very large pro 
portion of the food we eat, of the liquid we drink 
always excepting good well-filtered water and the 
medicines we take, not to say a word about the clothes 
we wear and the miscellaneous merchandise we use, 
is more or less adulterated with cheaper materials. 
Sometimes these are merely harmless; as flour, starch, 
annatto, lard, etc. ; sometimes they are vigorous, de 
structive poisons as red lead, arsenic, strychnine, oil 
of vitriol, potash, etc. 


It is not agreeable to find ourselves so thickly beset 
by humbugs ; to find that we are not merely called on 
to see them, to hear them, to believe them, to invest 
capital in them, but to eat and drink them. Yet so it 
is ; and, if my short discussion of this kind of humbug 
shall make people a little more careful, and help them 
to preserve their health, I shall think myself fortunate. 

To begin with bread. Alum is very commonly put 
into it by the bakers, to make it white. Flour of infe 
rior quality, "runny " flour, and even that from wormy 
wheat ground-up worms, bugs, and all is often 
mixed in as much as the case will bear. Potato flour 
has been known to be mixed with wheat ; and so, thirty 
years ago, were plaster-of-Paris, bone-dust, white clay, 
etc. But these are little used now, if at all ; and the 
worst thing in bread, aside from bad flour, which is bad 
enough, is usually the alum. It is often put in ready 
mixed with salt, and it accomplishes two things, viz., 
to make the bread white, and to suck up a good deal 
of water, and make the bread weigh well. It has been 
sometimes found that the alum was put in at the mill 
instead of the bakery. 

Milk is most commonly adulterated with cold water ; 
and many are the jokes on the milkmen about their best 
cow being choked etc., by a turnip in the pump-spout 
- their " cow with the wooden tail " (i. e., the pump- 
handle,) and so on. Awful stories are told about the 
London milkmen, who are said to manufacture a fear 
ful kind of medicine to be sold as milk, the cream being 
made of a quantity of calf s brain beaten to a slime. 
Stories are told around New York, too, of a mysteri- 


ous powder sold by druggists, which with water makes 
milk ; but it is milk that must be used quickly, or it 
turns into a curious mess. But the worst adulteration 
of milk is to adulterate the old cow herself; as is done 
in the swill-milk establishments which received such an 
exposure a. few years ago in a city paper. This milk is 
still furnished ; and many a poor little baby is daily 
suffering convulsions from its effects. So difficult is it 
to find real milk for babies in the city, that physicians 
often prescribe the use of what is called " condensed " 
milk instead ; which, though very different from milk 
not evaporated, is at least made of the genuine article. 
A series of careful experiments to develop the milk- 
humbug was made by a competent physician in Boston 
within a few years, but he found the milk there (aside 
from swill-milk) adulterated with nothing worse than 

f O 

water, salt, and burnt sugar. 

Tea is bejuggled first by John Chinaman, who is a 
very cunning rascal ; and second, by the seller here. 
Green and black tea are ma:le from the same plant, but 
by different processes the green being most expensive. 
To meet the increased demand for green tea, Master 
John takes immense quantities of black tea and " paints " 
it, by stirring into it over a fire a fine powder of plaster 
Paris and Prussian-blue, at the rate of half a pound to 
each hundred pounds of tea. John also sometimes 
takes a very cheap kind, and puts on a nice gloss by stir 
ring it in gum-water, with some stove-polish in it. We 
may imagine ourselves, after drinking this kind of tea, 
with a beautiful black gloss on ourinsides. John more 
over, manufactures vast quantities of what he plainly 


calls " Lie-tea/ This is dust and refuse of tea-leaves 
and other leaves, made up with dust and starch or gum 
into little lumps, and used to adulterate better tea. 
Seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds of this nice 
stuff were imported into England in one period of eight 
een months. It seems to be used in New-York only for 
green tea. 

Coffee is adulterated with chicory-root (which costs 
only about one-third as much) dandelion-root, peas, 
beans, mangold-wurzel, wheat, rye, acorns, carrots, pars 
nips, horse-chestnuts, and sometimes with livers of horses 
and cattle ! All these things are roasted or baked to the 
proper color and consistency, and then mixed in. Xo 
great sympathy need be expended on those who suffer 
from this particular humbug, however ; for when it is so 
easy to buy the real berry, and roast or at least grind it 
one s self, it is our own fault if our laziness leaves us to 
eat all those sorts of stuff. 

Cocoa is " extended " with sugar, starch, flour, iron- 
rust, Venetian-red, grease, and various earths. But it 
is believed by pretty good authority that the American- 
made preparations of cocoa are nearly or quite pure. 
Even if they are not the whole bean can be used instead. 

Butter and lard have one tenth, and sometimes even 
one-quarter, of water mixed up in them. It is easy to 
find this out by melting a sample before the fire and 
putting it away to cool, when the humbug appears by 
the grease going up, and the water, perhaps turbid with 
whey, settling below. 

Honey is humbugged with sugar or molasses. Sugar 
is not often sanded as the old stories have it. Fine 


white sugar is sometimes floured pretty well ; and 
brown sugar is sometimes made of a portion of good 
sugar with a cheaper kind mixed in. Inferior brown 
sugars are often full of a certain crab-like animalcule 
or minute bug, often visible without a microscope, in 
water where the sugar is dissolved. It is believed that 
this pleasing insect sometimes gets into the skin, and 
produces a kind of itch. I do not believe there is much 
danger of adulteration in good loaf or crushed white 
sugar, or good granulated or brown sugar. 

Pepper is mixed with line dust, dirt, linseed-meal, 
ground rice, or mustard and wheat-flour; ginger, with 
wheat flour colored by turmeric and reinforced by 
cayenne. Cinnamon is sometimes not present at all in 
what is so called the stuff being the inferior and 
cheaper cassia bark ; sometimes it is only part, cassia ; 
sometimes the humbug part of it is flour and ochre. 
Cayenne-pepper is mixed with corn-meal and salt, 
Venetian-red, mustard, brickdust, fine sawdust, and red- 
lead. Mustard with flour and turmeric. Confectionery 
is often poisoned with Prussian-blue, Antwerp-blue, 
gamboge, ultramarine, chrome yellow, red-lead, white- 
lead, vermillion, Brunswick-green, and Scheele s green, 
or arsenite of copper ! Never buy any confectionery 
that is colored or painted. Vinegar is made of whisky, 
or of oil of vitriol. Pickles have verdigris in them to 
make them a pretty green. " Pretty green " he must 
be who will eat bought pickles ! Preserved fruits often 
have verdigris in them, too. 

An awful list ! Imagine a meal of such bewitched 
food, where the actual articles are named. " Take 


some of the alum bread." " Have a cup of pea-soup 
and chicory-coffee ? " " I ll trouble you for the oil-of- 
vitriol, if you please." " Have some sawdust on your 
meat, or do you prefer this flour and turmeric mus 
tard ? " "A piece of this verdigris-preserve goose 
berry pie, Madam?" "Won t you put a few more 
sugar- bugs in your ash-leaf tea?" "Do you prefer 
black tea, or Prussian-blue tea ? " " Do you like your 
tea with swill-milk, or without ? " 

I have not left myself space to speak of the tricks 
played by the druggists and the liquor-dealers ; but I 
propose to devote another chapter exclusively to the 
adulteration of liquors in this country. It is a subject 
so fearful and so important that nothing less than a chap 
ter can do it justice. I must now end with a story or 
two and a suggestion or two, 

Old Colonel P. sold much whisky ; and his manner 
was to sell by sample out of a pure barrel over night, 
at 3 marvelous cheap rate, and then to " rectify " before 
"morning, under pretence of coopering and marking. 
Certain persons having a grudge against the Colonel, 
once made an arrangement with a carman, who exe 
cuted their plan, thus : He went to the Colonel, and 
asked to see whisky. The jolly old fellow took him 
down stairs and showed him a great cellar full. Car 
man samples a barrel. " Fust rate, Colonel, how d ye 
sell it ? " Colonel names his price on the rectified ba 
sis. " Well, Colonel, how much yer got ? " " So 
many barrels two or three hundred." " Colonel, 
here s your money. I ll take the lot." " All right," 
says Colonel P. ; " there s some coopering to be done 


on it ; some of the hoops and heads are a very little 
loose. You shall have it all in the mornino-." "No, 

JT 1 

Colonel, we ll roll it right out this minnit ! My trucks 
are up there, all ready." And, sure enough, he had 
a string of a dozen or more brigaded in the street. The 
Colonel was sadly dumbfounded; he turned several 
colors red mostly stammered, made excuses. It 
was no go, the whisky was the customer s, and the game 
was up. The humbugged old humbug finally " came 
down," and bought his man off by paying him several 
hundred dollars. 

There is a much older and better known story about 
a grocer who was a deacon, and who was heard to call 
down stairs before breakfast, to his clerk : " John, have 
you watered the rum? " " Yes, Sir." " And sanded 
the sugar ? " " Yes, Sir." " And dusted the pep 
per ? " " Yes, Sir." " And chicoried the coffee ? " 
"Yes, Sir." "Then come up to prayers." Let us 
hope that the grocers of the present day, while tl^ey 
adulterate less, do not pray less. 

Between 1851 and 1854, Mr. Wakley of the " Lon 
don Lancet " gave an awful roasting to the adulteration- 
interest in London. He employed an able analyzer, 
who began by going about without telling what he was 
at; and buying a great number of samples of all kinds 
of food, drugs, etc., at a great number of shops. Then 
he analyzed them ; and when he found humbug in any 
sample, he published the facts, and the seller s name 
and place of business. It may be imagined what a ter 
rible row this kicked up. Very numerous and violent 
threats were made ; but the " Lancet," was never once 
sued by any of the aggrieved, for it had told the truth. 


Perhaps some discouraged reader may ask, What 
can I eat? Well, I don t pretend to direct people s 
diet. Ask your doctor, if you can t find out. But I 
will surest that there are a few thin 0-3 that can t be 

oo o 

adulterated. You can t adulterate an egg, nor an oys 
ter, nor an apple, nor a potato, nor a salt codfish ; and 
if they are spoiled they will notify you themselves ! and 
when good, they are all good healthy food. In 
short, one good safeguard is, to use, as far as you can, 
things with their life in them when you buy them, 
whether vegetable or animal. The next best rule 
against these adulteration-humbugs is, to buy goods 
crude instead of manufactured ; coffee, and pepper, and 
spices, etc., whole instead of ground, for instance. 
Thus, though you give more work, you buy purity with 
it. And lastly, there are various chemical processes, 
and the microscope, to detect adulterations ; and milk, 
in particular, may always be tested by a lactometer, a 
simple little instrument which the milkmen use, which 
costs a few shillings, and which tells the story in an in 
stant. It is a glass bulb, with a stem above and a scale 
on it, and a weight below. In good average milk, at 
sixty degrees of heat, the lactometer floats at twenty on 
its scale ; and in poorer milk, at from that figure down. 
If it floats at fifteen, the milk is one-fourth water; if 
at ten, one half. 

It would ba a wonderful thing for mankind if some 
philosophic Yankee would contrive some kind of " oin- 
eter " that would measure the infusion of humbug in 
anything. A " Humbugometer " he might call it. I 
would warrant him a good sale. 









As long as the people of the United States tipple 
down rum and other liquors at the rate of a good deal 
more than one hundred million gallons a year, besides 
what is imported and what is called imported as long 
as they pay for their tippling a good deal more than fif 
ty millions, and probably over a hundred millions of dol 
lars a year so long it will be a great object to manu 
facture false liquors, and sell them at the price of true 
ones. When liquor of good quality costs from four to 
fifteen dollars a gallon, and an imitation can be had 
that tastes just as good, and has just as much "jizm" in 
it, and probably a good deal more, for from twenty- 
five cents to one dollar a gallon, somebody will surely 
make and sell that imitation. 

Adulterating and imitating liquors is a very large bu 
siness ; and I don t know of anybody who will deny 
that this particular humbug is very extensively culti 
vated. There are a great many people, however, who 
will talk about it as they do in Western towns about 
fever and ague : " We don t do anything of the kind 
here, but those other people over there do ! " 


There is very little pure liquor, either malt or spirit 
uous, to be obtained in any way. The more you pay 
for it, as a rule, the more the publican gains, but what 
you drink is none the purer. Importing don t help 
you. Port is or used to be, for very little is now 
made, comparatively imitated in immense quantities 
at Oporto ; and in the log-wood trade, the European 
wine-makers competed with the dyers. It is a London 
proverb, that if you want genuine port-wine, you have 
got to go to Oporto and make your own wine, and then 
ride on the barrel all the way home. It is perhaps 
possible to get pure wine in France by buying it at the 
vineyard ; but if any dealer has had it, give up the 
idea ! 

As for what is done this side of the water, now for 
it. I do not rely upon the old work of Mr. " Death-in- 
the-pot Accum," printed some thirty years ago, in Eng 
land. My statements come mostly from a .New York 
book put forth within a few years by a New York man, 
whose name is now in the Directory, and whose busi 
ness is said to consist to a great extent in furnishing 
one kind or another of the queer stuff he talks about, 
to brewers,, or distillers, or wine and brandy merchants. 

This gentleman, in a sweet alphabetical miscellany 
of drugs, herbs, minerals, arid groceries commonly used 
in manufacturing our best Old Bourbon whisky, Swan 
gin, Madeira wine, pale ale, London brown stout, Heid- 
sieck, Cliquot, Lafitte, and other nice drinks ; names 
the chief of such ingredients as follows : 

Aloes, alum, calamus (flag-root) capsicum, cocculus 
indicus, copperas, coriander-seed, gentian-root, ginger, 


grains-of-paradise, honey, liquorice, logwood, molasses, 
onions, opium, orange-peel, quassia, salt, stramonium- 
seed (deadly nightshade), sugar of lead, sulphite of 
soda, sulphuric acid, tobacco, turpentine, vitriol, yarrow. 
I have left strychnine out of the list, as some persons 
have doubts about this poison ever being used in adul 
terating liquors. A wholesale liquor-dealer in New 
York city, however, assures me that more than one-half 
the so-called whisky is poisoned with it. 

Besides these twenty-seven kinds of rum, here come 
twenty-three more articles, used to put the right color 
to it when it is made ; by making a soup of one or 
another, and stirring it in at the right time. I alpha 
bet these, too : alkanet-root, annatto, barwood, black 
berry, blue-vitriol, brazil-wood, burnt sugar, cochineal, 
elderberry, garancine (an extract of madder), indigo, 
Nicaragua-wood, orchil, pokeberry, potash, quercitron, 
red beet, red cabbage, red carrots, saffron, sanders-wood, 
turmeric, whortleberry. 

In all, in both lists, just fifty. There are more, how 
ever. But that s enough. Now then, my friend, what 
did you drink this morning ? You called it Bourbon, 
or Cognac, or Old Otard, very likely, but v^hat was it ? 
The " glorious uncertainty " of drinking liquor under 
these circumstances is enough to make a man s head 
swim without his getting drunk at all. There might, 
perhaps, be found a consolation like that of the Western 
traveller about the hash. " When I travel in a canal- 
boat or steam-boat," quoth this brave and stout-stom 
ached man, "I always eat the hash, because then I 
know what I ve got ! " 


It was a good many years ago that the Parliament 
of England found it necessary to make a law to pre 
vent sophisticating malt liquors. Here is the list of 
things they forbid to put into beer : " molasses, honey, 
liquorice, vitriol, quassia, cocculus indicus, grains-of-par- 
adise, Guinea-pepper, opium." The penalty was one 
thousand dollars fine on the brewer, and two thousand 
five hundred dollars on the druggist who supplied him. 

I know of no such law in this country. The theory 
of our. government leaves people to take care of them 
selves as much as possible. But now let us see what 
some of these fifty ingredients will do. Beets and car 
rots, honey and liquorice, orange-peel and molasses, will 
not do much harm ; though I should think tipplers 
would prefer them as the customer at the eating-house 
preferred his flies, " on a separate plate." But the 
case is different with cocculus indicus, and stramonium, 
and sulphuric acid, and sugar of lead, and the like. I 
take the following accounts, so far as they are medical, 
from a standard work by Dr. Dunglison : Aloes is a 
cathartic. Cocculus indicus contains picrotoxin, which 
is an u acrid narcotic poison ; " from five to ten grains 
will kill a stroii" 1 doo-. The boys often call it " cockle- 

> & / 

cinders ; " they pound it and mix it in dough, and throw 
it into the water to catch fish. The poor fish eat it, 
soon become delirious, whirling and dancing furiously 
about on the top of the water, and then die. Copperas 
tends to produce nausea, vomiting, griping, and purg 
ing. Grains- of-paradise, a large kind of cardamom, is 
" strongly heating and carminative" (i. e., anti-flatu 
lent and anti-spasmodic.) Opium is known well enough. 


Stramonium-seed would seem to have been made on 
purpose for the liquor business. In moderate doses it 
is a powerful narcotic, producing vertigo, headache, 
dimness or perversion of vision (i. e., seeing double) 
and confusion of thought. (N. B. What else does li 
quor do ?) In larger doses (still like liquor,) you ob 
tain these symptoms aggravated ; and then a delirium, 
sometimes whimsical (snakes in your boots) and some 
times furious, a stupor, convulsions, and death. A fine 
drink this stramonium ? Sugar of lead is what is called 
a cumulative poison ; having the quality of remaining 
in the system when taken in small quantities, and piling 
itself up, as it were, until there is enough to accom 
plish something, when it causes debility, paralysis, and 
other things. Sulphuric acid is strongly corrosive, a 
powerful caustic, attacking the teeth, even when very 
dilute; eating up flesh and bones alike when strong 
enough ; and, if taken in a large enough dose, an aw 
fully tearing and agonizing fatal poison. 

The way to use these delectable nutriments is in part 
as follows: Stir a little sulphuric acid into your beer. 
This will give you a fine " old ale " in about a quarter 
of a minute. Take a mixture of alum, salt, and cop 
peras, ground fine, and stir into your beer, and this will 
make it froth handsomely. Cocculus indicus, tobacco- 
leaves, and stramonium, cooked in the beer, etc., give 
it force. Potash is sometimes stirred into wine to cor 
rect acidity. Sulphite of soda is now very commonly 
stirred into cider, tp keep it from fermenting further. 
Sugar of lead is stirred into wines to make them clear, 
and to keep them sweet. And so on, through the 
whole long list. 


It is a curious instance of people s quiet acknowledg 
ment of their own foolishness, that a popular form of 
the invitation to take a drink is, " Come and h ist in 
some pizen ! " 

I know of no plan by which anybody can be sure of 
obtaining pure liquor of any description. Some persons 
always purchase their wines and liquors while they are 
under the custom-house lock and consequently before 
they have reached the hands of the importer. Yet 
there are scores of men in New York and Philadelphia 
who have made large fortunes by sending whisky to 
France, there refining, coloring, flavoring, and doctor 
ing it, then re-shipping it to New York as French bran 
dy, paying the duty, and selling it before it has left the 
custom-house ! There is a locality in France where a 
certain brand of wine is made. It is adulterated with 
red-lead, and every year more or less of the inhabi 
tants of that locality are attacked with u lead-colic," 
caused by drinking this poisoned wine right at the 
fountain-head where it is made. There is more bogus 
champagne drank in any one year, in the city of Paris 
alone, than there is genuine champagne made in any 
one year in the world. America ordinarily consumes 
more so-called champagne annually than is made in the 
world, and yet nearly all the genuine champagne in the 
world is taken by the courts of Europe. The genuine 
Hock wine made at Johannisberg on the Rhine is worth 
three dollars per bottle by the large quantity, and 
nearly all of it is shipped to Russia ; yet, at any of the 
hotels in the village of Johannisberg, within half a mile 
from the wine-presses of the pure article, you can be 


supplied for a dollar per bottle with what purports to 
be the genuine Hock wine. Since chemistry has en 
abled liquor dealers to manufacture any description of 
wine or liquor for twenty-five cents to a dollar a gallon, 
there are annually made and sold thousands of gallons 
of wine and brandy that never smelt a grape. 

Suppose a wholesale liquor-merchant imports genu 
ine brandy. He usually " rectifies " and adulterates 
it by adding eighty-five gallons of pure spirits (refined 
whisky,) to fifteen gallons of brandy, to give it a fla 
vor ; then colors and " doctors" it, and it is ready for 
sale. Suppose an Albany wholesale-dealer purchases, 
for pure brandy, ten pipes of this adulterated brandy 
from a New York importer. The Albany man imme 
diately doubles his stock by adding an equal quantity 
of pure spirits. There are then seven and a half gal 
lons of brandy in a hundred. A Buffalo liquor-dealer 
buys from the Albany man, and he in turn adds one- 
half pure spirits. The Chicago dealer buys from the 
Buffalo dealer, and as nearly all spirit-dealers keep 
large quantities of pure spirits on hand, and know how 
to use it, he again doubles the quantity of his brandy 
by adding pure spirits ; and the Milwaukee liquor- 
dealer does the same, after purchasing from the Chica 
go man. So, in the ordinary course of liquor transac 
tions, by the time a hundred gallon pipe of pure brandy 
reaches Wisconsin, at a cost of five or perhaps ten dol 
lars per gallon, ninety-nine gallons and one pint of it is 
the identical whisky that was shipped from Wisconsin 
the same year at fifty cents per gallon. Truly a hom 
oeopathic dose of genuine brandy ! And even that 


whisky when it left Wisconsin was only half whisky ; 
for there are men in the whisky-making States who 
make it a business to take whisky direct from the dis 
tillery, add to it an equal quantity of .water, and then 
brini^ it up to a bead and the power of intoxication, by 
mixing in a variety of the villainous drugs and deadly 
poisons enumerated in this chapter. The annual loss 
of strength, health, and life caused by the adulteration 
of liquor is truly appalling. Those who have not ex 
amined the subject, can form no just estimate of the 
atrocious and extensive effects of this murderous hum 





Not many years ago, a dignified and reverend man, 
whose name is well known to me, was walking sedately 
down Broadway. He was dressed in clerical garb of 
black garments and white neckcloth. He was a man of 
great learning, profound thought, long experience, 
unaffected piety, and pure and high reputation. 

All at once, a kind of chattering shout smote him fair 
in the left ear : 

" Narfnarfnarf ! Three shall I have ? Narfnarfnarf- 
narfnarf ! Goinjr at two and a half! Gone ! ! " 


And the grave divine, pausing, beheld a doorway, 


over which waved a little red flag. Within, a compa 
ny of eager bidders thronged around an auctioneer s 
stand ; and the auctioneer himself, a well-dressed man 
with a highly respectable look, was just handing over 
to the delighted purchaser a gold watch. 

" It would be cheap at one hundred dollars," said lie, 
in a despondent tone. " It s mere robbery to sell it for 
that price. I d buy it myself if twas legal." 

And while the others, with exclamations of surprise 
and congratulation, crowded to see this famous purchase, 
and the buyer exhibited it with a joyful countenance 
close by the door, the divine, just out of curiosity, step 
ped in. He owned no watch ; he was a country clergy 
man, and poor in this world s goods ; so poor that, to use 
a familiar phrase, " if steamboats were selling at a dime 
a piece, he would hardly be able to buy a gang-plank." 
But what if he could, by good luck, buy a good gold 
watch for two dollars and a half in this wonderful city ! 

Somehow, that watch was snapped open and closed 
a^ain right under his ministerial nose about six times. 

v"7> c5 

The auctioneer held up another of exactly the same 
kind, and began to chatter again. 

" Now gentlemen, what moffered f this first-class 
M. I. Tobias gold English lever watch full jeweled, 
compensation-balance, anchor-escapement, hunting case ? 
One, did I hear ? Say two cents, wont yer ? Two and 
a half! narfnarfnarfnarfnarf and a half! Two and a 
half, and three quarters. Thank you, Sir," to a sailor- 
like man in the corner. 

" Three," said a tall and well-dressed young gentle 
man with short hair, near the clergyman, adding, in an 
undertone, " I can sell it for fifty this afternoon." 


" Three I am offered," says Mr. Auctioneer, and 
chattered on as before : " And a half, did you say, Sir ? 
Thank you, Sir. And a halfnarfnarf ! " 

The reverend divine had said, " And a half." The 
Peter Funks had got him ! But he didn t find it 


out quite yet. The bidding was run up to four dol 
lars ; the clergyman took the watch, opened and exam 
ined it ; was convinced, handed it back, ventured 
another half, and the watch was knocked down to him. 
The auctioneer fumbled in some papers, and, in a 
moment, handed him his bargain neatly done up. 

" This way to the clerk s office if you please, Sir," he 
added, with a civil bow. The clergyman passed a little 
further in ; and while the sales proceeded behind him, 
the clerk made out a bill and proffered it. 

" Fifty-four dollars and a half! " read the country 
divine, astounded. " Four and a half is what I bid ! " 
"Four and a half!" exclaimed the clerk, with 
sarcastic indignation ; u Four dollars and a half ! A 
pretty story ! A minister to have the face to say he 
could buy an M. I. Tobias gold watch, full jeweled, 
for four dollars and a half ! Ill thank you for the 
money, Sir. Fifty-four, fifty, if you please." 

The auctioneer, as if interrupted by the loud tones 
of the indignant clerk, stopped the sale to see what was 
the matter. On hearing the statement of the two par 
ties, he cast a glance of angry contempt upon the poor 
clergyman, who, by this time, was uneasy enough at 
their scowling faces. Then, as if relenting, he said half- 
sneeringly : 

" I don t think you look very well in this business, 


Sir. But you are evidently a clergyman, and we wish 
everybody to have fair treatment in this office. We 
won t be imposed upon, Sir, by any man ! " (Here his 
face darkened, and his fists could be seen to clench with 
much meaning.) " Pay that money, Sir ! This es 
tablishment is not to be humbugged. But you needn t 
be afraid of losing anything. You may let me take the 
watch and sell it for you again on the spot. Very like 
ly you can get more for it. You can t lose. The cler 
gyman hesitated. The tall and well-dressed young man 
with short hair pushed up and said : 

"Don t want it? Put her up again. G ! I d like 
another chance myself! " 

A heavily-built fellow with one eye, observed over 
the auctioneer s shoulder, with an evil look at the 
divine, " D d if I don t believe that cuss is a gambler, 
come in here to fool us country-folks. They allus wears 
white neckcloths. I say, search him and boot him out 
of the shop ! " 

u Hold your tongue ! " answered the auctioneer, 
with dignity. " I will see you safe, Sir," to the cler 
gyman. But you bid that money, and you must pay 
it. We can t do this business- on any other principles." 

" You will sell it for me again at once ? " asked the 
poor minister. 

" Certainly," said the mollified auctioneer. And the 
humbugged divine, with an indistinct sense of something 
wrong, but not able to tell what, took out forty dollars 
from his lean wallet and handed it to the clerk. 

" It s all I have to get home with," he said, simply. 

" Never fear, old gentleman," said the clerk, affably ; 
" You ll be all right in two minutes." 


The watch was put up again. The clergyman, scarce 
able to believe his ears, heard it rapidly run up to sixty 
dollars and knocked down at that price. The cash was 
handed to the clerk, and another bill made out ; ten 
per cent., deducted, commission on sales. " Usual 
terms, Sir, observed the clerk, handing over the notes 
just received for the watch. And the divine, very 
thankful to get off for half a dollar, hurried off as fast 
as he could. 

I need not say that his fifty -four dollars was all coun 
terfeit money. When he went next morning, after en 
deavoring in vain to part with his new funds, to find 
the place where he had been humbugged, it was close 
shut, and he could hardly identify even the door 
way. He went to the police, and the shrewd captain 
told him that it was a difficult business ; but sent an 
officer with him to look up the rascals. Officer found 
one ; demanded redress ; clergyman did the same. 
Rascal asked clergyman s name ; got it ; told him he 
could prosecute if he liked. Clergyman looked at 
officer ; officer, with indifference, observed : 

" Means to stick your name in the papers." 

Clergyman said he would take further advice ; did 
take it ; thought he wouldn t be shown up as a " greeny " 
in the police reports ; borrowed money enough to get 
home with, and if he has a gold watch now which 
I really hope he has got it either for its real value, or 
as a " testimonial." 

There, that (with many variations) is the whole sto 
ry of Peter Funk. These " mock auctioneers," some 
times, as in the case I have mentioned, take advantage 


of the respectability of their victims, sometimes of their 
haste to leave the city on business. When they could 
not possibly avoid it, they disgorged their prey. No 
instance is known to me of any legal penalty being in 
flicted on them by a magistrate ; but they were always, 
until 1862, treated by police, by magistrate, and by 
mayor, just as thieves would be who should always be 
let off on returning their stealings ; so that they could 
not lose by thieving, and might gain. 

These rascally mock-auctioneers, thus protected by 
the authorities, used to fleece the public out of not less 
than sixty thousand dollars a year. One of them 
cleared twelve thousand dollars during the year 1861 
alone. And this totally shameless and brazen-faced 
humbug flourished in New York for twenty-five years ! 

About the first day of June, 1862, the Peter Funks 
had eleven dens, or traps, in operation in New York ; 
five in Broadway below Fulton street, and the others 
in Park row, and Courtlandt, Greenwich, and Chat 
ham streets. 

The name, Peter Funk, is said to have been that of 
the founder of their system ; but I know nothing more 
of his career. At this date, in 1862, the system was in 
a high state of organization and success, and included 
the following constituents : 

1. Eight chief Funks, or capitalists, and managers, 
whose names are well enough known. I have them 
on record. 

2. About as many more salesmen, who took turns 
with the chiefs in selling and clerking. 

3. Seventy or eighty, rank and file, or ropers-in. 


These acted the part of buyers, like the purchaser whose 
delight over his watch helped to deceive the minister 
and the other bidders on that occasion. These fellows 
dressed up as countrymen, sailors, and persons of mis 
cellaneous respectability. They bid and talked when 
that was sufficient, or helped the managers thrash any 
troublesome person, if necessary. Once m a long time 
they met their match ; as, for instance, when the mate 
of a ship brought up a squad of his crew, burst into one 
of their dens, and beat and battered up the whole gang 
w r ithin an inch of their lives. But, in most cases, the 
reckless infamy of these dregs of city vice gave them 
an immense advantage over a decent citizen ; for they 
could not be defiled nor made ridiculous, and he could. 

4. Two or three traders in cheap jewelry and fancy- 
goods supplied the Funks with their wares. One of 
these fellows used to sell them fifty or a hundred dol 
lars worth of this trash a day; and he lamented as 
much over their untimely end as the Ephesian silver 
smiths did over the loss of their trade in shrines. 

5. A lawyer received a regular salary of $1,200 a 
year to defend all the Funk, cases. 

6. The city politicians, in office and out of it, who 
were wont to receive the aid of the Funks (a very en 
ergetic cohort) at elections, and who in return unscru 
pulously used both power and influence to keep them 
from punishment. 

All this cunning machinery was brought to naught 
and New York relieved of a shame and a pest by the 
courage, energy, persverance, and good sense of one 
Yankee officer Russell Wells, a policeman. Mr. 


Wells took about six months to finish up his work. He 
began it of his own accord, finding that the spirit of 
the police regulations required it ; prosecuted the un 
dertaking without fear or favor, finding not very much 
support from the judicial authorities, and sometimes act 
ual and direct discouragement. His method was to 
mount guard over one auction shop at a time, and warn 
all whom lie saw going in, and to follow up all complaints 
to the utmost until that shop was closed, when he laid 
siege to another. Various offers of money, direct and 
indirect, were made him. One fellow offered him $500 
to walk on the other side of the street. Another offered 
him $1,000 to drop the undertaking. Another hinted 
at a regular salary of hush-money, saying 4t he had now 
got these fellows where he could make as much out of 
them as he wanted to, right along." 

Sometimes they threatened him with " murder and 
sudden death." Several times they got out an injunc 
tion upon him, and several times sued him for slander. 
One of their complaints charged, with ludicrous hypoc 
risy, that the defendant, " with malicious intent, stood 
round the door uttering slanderous charges against the 
good name, fame, and credit of the defendant," just as 
foolish old lawyers used to argue that " the greater the 
truth the greater the libel." Sometimes they argued 
and indignantly denounced. One of them told him, 
44 he was a thief and a murderer, driving men out of 
employment whose wives and children depended on 
their business for support." 

Another contended that their business was just as 
fair as that of the stock-operators in Wall street. I 
fear that wasn t making out much of a case. 


But their threats were idle ; their suits, and prosecu 
tions, and injunctions, never came to a head ; their 
bribes did not operate. The officer, imperturbably good- 
natured, but horribly diligent, watched, and warned, 
and hunted, and complained, and squeezed back their 
money at the rate of $500 or $1,000 every month, 
until they were perfectly sickened. One by one they 
shut up shop. One went to his farm, another to his 
merchandise, another to emigrant running, another 
(known by the elegant surname of Blur-eye Thomp 
son) to raising recruits, several into the bounty jumping 

Such was the life and death of an outrageous hum 
bug and nuisance, whose like was not to be found in 
any other city on earth ; and would not have been en 
dured in any except this careless, money-getting, mis 
governed one of New York. 




I have before me a mass of letters, printed and litho 
graphed circulars, and the like, which illustrate well 
two or three of the most foolish and vicious swindles 
[it is wrong to call them humbugs] now extant. They 
also prove that there are a good many more fools alive 


in our Great Republic than some of us would like to 

These letters and papers are signed, respectively, by 
the following names : Alexander Van Dusen ; Thomas 
Boult & Co. ; E. F. Mayo ; Geo. P. Harper ; Browne, 
Sherman & Co. ; Hammett & Co. ; Charles A. Her 
bert ; Geo. C. Kenneth ; T. Seymour & Co. ; C. W. 
White, Purchasing Agency ; C. J. Darlington ; B. H. 
Robb & Co. ; James Conway ; S. B. Goodrich ; Eger- 
ton Brothers ; C. F. Miner ; E. J. Kimball ; E. A. 
Wilson ; and J. T. Small. 

All these productions, with one or two exceptions, 
are dated during the last three months of 1864, and 
January 1865. They are mailed from a good many 
different places, and addressed to respectable people in 
all directions. 

In particular, should be noticed, however, two lots 
of them. 

The first lot are signed either by Thomas Boult & 
Co., Hammett & Co., Egerton Brothers, or T. Sey 
mour & Co. When these four documents are placed 
together, each with its inclosure, a story is told that 
seems clear enough to explain itself to the greenest fool 
in the world. 

These fellows Boult and the rest of them, I mean 
are lottery sharks. Now, those who buy lottery tick 
ets are very silly and credulous, or very lazy, or both. 
They want to get money without earning it. This 
foolish and vicious wish, however, betrays them into 
the hands of these lottery sharks. I wish that each of 
these poor foolish, greedy creatures could study on this 


set of letters awhile. Look at them. You see that 
the lithographed handwriting in all four is in the same 
hand. You observe that each of them incloses a print 
ed hand-bill with " scheme," all looking as like as so 
many peas. They refer, you see, to the same u Havana 
scheme," the same u Shelby College Lottery," the 
same fct managers," and the same place of drawing. 
Now, see what they say. Each knave tells his fool his 
only object is to put said fool in possession of a hand 
some prize, so that fool may run round and show the 
money, and rope in more fools. What an ingenious 
way to make the fool think he will return value for the 
prize ! Each knave further says to his fool (I copy the 
words of the knave from his lithograph letter :) " We 
are so certain that w r e know how to select a lucky cer 
tificate, that if the one we select for you does not, at 
the very least, draw a $5,000 prize, we will " what ? 
Pay the money ourselves ? Oh no. Knave does not 
offer to pay half of it. " Will send you another pack 
age in one of our extra lotteries for nothing ! " 

Observe how particularly every knave is to tell his 
fool to " give us the name of the nearest bank," so that 
the draft for the prize-money can be forwarded instantly. 

And in return for all this kindness, what do Messrs. 
Boult and-so-forth want ? Why, almost nothing. ct The 
ridiculously small sum," as Mr. Montague Tigg ob 
served to Mr. Pecksniff, of $10. You observe that 
Hammett & Co., in one circular, demand $20, for the 
same $5,000 prize. But the amount, they would say,, 
is too trifling to be so particular about ! 

I will suggest a form for answering these 


Let every one of my readers who receives one of their 
circulars just copy and date and sign, and send them 
the following : 

" GENTLEMEN : I thank you for your great kindness in 
wishing to make me the possessor of a $5,000 prize in 
your truly rich and splendid Royal Havana Lottery. I 
fully believe that you know, as you say, all about how to 
get these prizes, and that you can make it a big thing. 
But I cannot think of taking all that money from such 
kind of people as you. I must insist upon your having 
half of it, and I will not hear of any refusal, I therefore 
hereby authorize you to invest for me the trifle of $10, 
which you mention ; and when the prize is drawn, to put 
half of it, and $10 over, right into your own benevolent 
pantaloons-pocket, and to remit the other half to me, ad 
dressed as follows : (Here give the name of the " nearest 

" I have not the least fear that you will cheat me out 
of my half; and, as you see, I thus place myself confi 
dently in your hands. With many thanks for your great 
and undeserved kindness, I remain your obliged and 
obedient servant. ETC., ETC." 

My readers will observe that this mode of replying 
affords full swing to the expansive charities of Boult 
and his brethren, and is a sure method of saving the 
expenditure of $10, although Boult is to get that 
amount back when the prize is drawn. 

I charge nothing for these suggestions ; but will not 
be so discourteous as to refuse a moderate percentage on 
all amounts received in pursuance of them from Brother 
Boult & Co. 

Here is the second special lot of letters I spoke of. 
I lay them out on my desk as before : There are six 
letters signed respectively by Kimball, Goodrich, Dar- 


lington, Kenneth, Harper, and Herbert. Now notice, 
first the form, and next the substance. 

As to form they are all written, not, lithograph- 
. ed ; they are on paper of the same make and size, and 
out of the same lot, as you observe by the manufactur 
er s stamp a representation of the Capitol in the 
upper corner. They are in the same hand, an easy 
legible business-hand, though three of them are written 
with a backward slope. Those who sent them have not 
sent me the envelopes with them, except in one case, 
so that I cannot tell where they were mailed. Neither 
is any one of them dated inside at any town or post- 
office. But, by a wonderful coincidence, every one of 
them is dated at " No. 17 Merchants Exchange." A 
busy mart that No. 17 must be ! And it is a still 
more curious coincidence that every one of these six 
industrious chaps has been unable to find a sufficiently 
central location for transacting his business. Every let 
ter you see, contains a printed slip advising of a remov 
al, as follows : 

" REMOVAL. Desiring a more central location for 
transacting my business, I have removed my office to 
No. 17 Merchants Exchange." Where ? One savs to 

O / 

West Troy, New York; another to Patterson, New 
Jersey ; another to Bronxville, New York ; another, to 
Salem, New- York, and so on ! It is a new thing to find 
how central all those places are. Undeveloped metrop 
olises seem to exist in every corner. Well, the slip 
ends with a notice that in future letters must be directed 
to the new place. 

Next, as to substance. The six letters all tell the 


same story. They are each the second letter ; the first 
one having been sent to the same person, and having 
contained a lottery-ticket, as a gift of love or free 
charity. This second letter is the one which is expected 
to " fetch." It says in substance : u Your ticket has 
drawn a prize of 8200 , the letters all name the same 
amount " but you didn t pay for it,- and therefore are 
not entitled to it. Now send me $10 and I will cheat 
the lottery-man by altering the post-mark of your letter 
so that the money shall seem to have been sent before 
the lottery was drawn. This forgery will enable me 
to get the $200, which I will send you." 

How cunning that is ! It is exactly calculated to 
hit the notions of a vulgar, ignorant, lazy, greedy, and 
unprincipled bumpkin. Such a fellow would see just 
far enough into the millstone to be tickled at the idea 


of cheating those lottery fellows. And the knave ends 
his letter with one more touch most delicately adapted 
to make Master Bumpkin feel certain that his cash is 
coming. He says, " Be sure to show your prize to all 
your friends, so as to make them buy tickets at my 

Moreover, these letters inclose each a " report of the 
seventeenth monthly drawing of the Cosmopolitian Art 
Union Association." You may observe that one of 
these " seventeenth drawings " took place November 7 
1864, and another December 5, 1864 ; so that seven- 
teenthly came twice. What is a far more remarkable 
coincidence is this; that in each of these "reports is 
a list of a hundred and thirty or forty numbers that 
drew prizes, and it is exactly the same list each time, 


and the same prize to each number ! There is a third 
coincidence ; that one of these two drawings is said to 
have been at London. New York, and the other at 
London, New Jersey. And lastly, there is a fourth co 
incidence, viz., that neither of these places exists. 

Now, what a transparent swindle this is ! how plain, 
how impudent, how rascally ! And all done entirely 
by the use of the Post Office privileges of the United 
States. Try to catch this fellow. You can find where 
he mailed his circular ; but he probably stopped there 
over night to do so, and nobody knew it. In each cir 
cular, he wrote to his dupes to address him at that new 
" more central location " that he struggles after so 
hard ; and how is the pursuer to find it ? Would any 
body naturally go and watch the Post Office at Bronx- 
ville, New York, for instance, as a particularly central 
location for business ? 

Besides, no one person is cheated out of enough to 
make him follow up the affair, and probably nobody 
who sends the cash wants to say much about it after 
ward. He wants to wait and show the prize ! 

These dirty sharking traps will always be set, and 
will always catch silly people, as long as there are any 
to catch. The only means of stopping such trickery is 
to diffuse the conviction that the best way to get a liv 
ing is, to go to work like a man and earn it honestly. 





The readiness with which people will send off their 
money to a swindler is perfectly astounding. It does 
really seem as if an independent fortune could be made 
simply by putting forth circulars and advertisements, 
requesting the receiver to send five dollars to the ad 
vertiser, and saying that " it will be all right." 

I have already given an account of the way in which 
lottery dealers operate. From among the same pile of 
documents which I used then, I have selected a few 
others, as instances in part, of a class of humbugs some 
times of a kind even far more noxious, and which show 
that their devisers and patrons are not only sharpers or 
fools, but often also very cold-blooded villains or very 
nasty ones. Some of them are managed by printed cir 
culars and written letters, such as those before me ; 
some of them by newspaper advertisements. Some are 
only to cheat you out of money, and others offer in re 
turn for money some base gratification. But whatever 
means are used, and whatever purpose is sought, they 
are all alike in one thing they depend entirely on the 
monstrous number of simpletons who will send money 
to people they know nothing about. 


Of the nasty ones, I can give no details. Vile books, 
pictures, etc., are from time to time advertised, sold, 
and forwarded, by circular, and through the mails, and 
for large prices. 

There have been some cases where a funny sort of 
swindle has been effected by these peddlers of prurien 
cy, by selling some dirty-minded dupe a cheap good 
book, at the extravagant price of a dear bad one. 
More than one foolish youth has received, instead of 
the vile thing that he sent five dollars for, a nice little 
New Testament. It is obvious that no very loud com 
plaints are likely to be made about such cheating as 
that. It is, perhaps, one of the safest swindles ever 

The first document which I take from my pile is the 
announcement of a fellow who operates lottery-wise. 
His scheme appeals at once to benevolence and to 
greediness. He says : " The profits of the distribu 
tion are to be given to the Sanitary Commission ; " and 
secondly, u Every ticket brings a prize of at least its 
full value, and some of them 85,000. 

If, therefore you won t buy tickets for filthy lucre s 
sake, buy for the sake of our soldiers. 

" But," somebody says, " how can you afford this 
arrangement, which is a direct loss of the whole cost of 
working your lottery, and moreover of the w r hole val 
ue of all prizes costing more than a ticket ? " 

" Oh," replies our benevolent friend, " a number of 
manufacturers in New England have asked me to do 
this, and the prizes are given by them as friends of the 


One observation will sufficiently show what an im 
pudent mess of lies this story is, namely ; If the man 
ufacturers of New England wanted to give money to 
the Sanitary Commission, they would give money ; if 
goods, they would give goods. They certainly would 
not put their gifts through the additional roundabout, 
useless nonsense of a lottery, which is to turn over only 
the same amount of funds to the Commission. 

The next document is a circular sent from a Western 
town by a fellow who claims also to be a master of arts, 
doctor of medicines, and doctor of laws, but whose hand 
writing and language are those of a stable-boy. This 
chap sends round a list of two hundred and fifty recipes 
at various prices, from twenty-five cents to a dollar 
each. Send him the money for any you wish, and he 
promises to return you the directions for making the 
stuff. You are then to go about and peddle it, and 
swiftly become independently rich. You can begin with 
a dollar, he says ; in two days make fifty dollars, and 
then sweep- on in a grand career of afHuence, making 
from $75 to $200 a day, " if you are industrious." 
What is petroleum to this ? It is a mercy that we don t 
all turn to and peddle to each other ; we should all get 
too rich to speak ! 

The fellow, out of pure kindness and desire for your 
good, recommends you to buy all his recipes, as then 
you will be sure to sell something to everybody. Most 
of these recipes are for sufficiently harmless purposes 
shaving-soap, cement, inks ;t live gallons of good ink 
for fifteen cents " tooth-powders, etc. Some of them 
are arrant nonsense; such as "tea better than the 


Chinese," winch is as if he promised something wetter 
than water; " to make thieves vinegar ;" " prismatic dia 
mond crystals for windows ;" " to make yellow butter " 

is the butter blue where the man lives ? Others are 
of a sort calculated to attract foolish rustic rascals who 
would like to gain an easy living by cheating, if they 
were only smart enough. Thus, there is " Rothschild s 
great secret ; or how to make common gold." Aly 
readers shall have a better recipe than this swindler s 

work hard, think hard, be honest, and spend little 
this will " make common gold," and this is all the 
secret Rothschild ever had. A number of these recipes 
are barefaced quackeries ; such as cures for consump 
tion, cancer, rheumatism, and sundry other diseases ; 
to make whiskers and mustaches grow ah, boys, you 
cant hurry up those things. Greasing your cheeks is 
just as good as trying to whistle the hair out, but not a 
bit better. Don t hurry ; you will be old quite soon 
enough ! But this fellow is ready for old fools as well 
young ones, for he has recipes for curing baldness and 
removing wrinkles. And last, but not least, quietly in 
serted among all these fooleries and harmless humbugs, 
are two or three recipes which promise the safe gratifi 
cation of the basest vices. Those are what he really 
hoped to get money for. 

I have carefully refrained from giving any names or. 
information which would enable anybody to address any 
of these folks. I do not propose to cooperate with 
them, if I know it. 

The next is a circular only to be very briefly alluded 
to: it promises to furnish, on receipt of the price, and 


" by mail or express, with perfect safety, so as to defy 
detection, any of twenty-two wholly infamous books, 
and various other cards and commodities, well suited to 
the public of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. The most hon 
est and decent things advertised in this unclean list are 
u advantage-cards " which enable the player to swindle 
his adversary by reading off his hand by the backs of 
the cards. 

The next paper I can copy verbatim, except some 
names, etc., is a letter as follows: 

"Dear Sir There is a. Package in My care for a 
Mrs. preston New Griswold wich thare is 48 cts. frat- 
age. Pleas forward the same. I shall send it Per 
Express Your recpt." 

It is some little comfort to know that this gentleman, 
who is so much opposed to the present prevailing meth 
ods of spelling, lost the three cents which he invested 
in seeking " fratage." But a good many sensible peo 
ple have carelessly sent away the small amoimts de 
manded by letters like the above, and have wondered 
why their prepaid parcels never came. 

Next, is an account by a half amused and half indig 
nant eye-witness, of what happened in a well known 
town in Western New York, on Friday, January 6, 
1865. A personage described as * dressed in Yankee 
style," drove into the principal street of the place with 
a horse and buggy, and began to sell what is called in 
some parts of New England ;u Attleboro," that is, imi 
tation jewelry, but promising to return the customers 
their money, if required, and doing so. After a num 
ber of transactions of this kind, he bawls out, like the 


sorcerer in Aladdin, who went around crying new 
lamps for old, " Who will give me four dollars for this 
five-dollar greenback ? " 

He found a customer ; sold a one-dollar greenback 
for ninety cents ; then sold some half-dollar bills for 
twenty-five cents each ; then flung out among the crowd 
what a fisherman would call ground bait, in the shape 
of a handful of " currency." 

Everybody scrambled for the money. This liberal 
trader now drove slowly a little way along, and the 
crowd pressed after him. 

He now began, without any further promises, to sell 
a lot of bogus lockets at five dollars each, and in a few 
minutes had disposed of about forty. Having, there 
fore, about two hundred dollars in his pocket, and trade 
slackening, he coolly observes, with a terseness and clear 
ness of oratory that would not discredit General Sher 
man : 

" Gentlemen I have sold you those goods at my 
price. I am a licensed peddler. If I give you your 
money back you will think me a lunatic. I wish you 
all success in your ordinary vocations ! Good morn- 

And sure enough, he drove off. That same cunning 
chap has actually made a small fortune in this way. 
He really is licensed as a peddler, and though arrested 
more than once, has consequently not been found legal 
ly punishable. 

I will specify only one more of my collection, of yet 
another kind. This is a printed circular appealing to a 
class of fools, if possible, even shallower, sillier, and 


more credulous than any I have named yet. It is 
headed u The Gypsies Seven Secret Charms." These 
charms consist of a kind of hellbroth or decoction. 
You are to wet the hands and the forehead with them, 
and this is to render you able to tell what any person 
is thinking of; upon taking any one by the hand, you 
will be able to entirely control the mind and will of 
such person (it is unnecessary to specify the purpose 
intended to be believed possible). These charms are 
also to enable you to buy lucky lottery-tickets, discover 
things lost or hid, dream correctly of the future, in 
crease the intellectual faculties, secure the affections of 
the other sex, etc. These precious conceits are set 
forth in a ridiculous hodge-podge of statements. The 
" charms," it says, were used by the " Antediluvians ; " 
were the secret of the Egyptian enchanters and of Mo 
ses, too ; of the Pythoness and the heathen conjurors 
and humbugs generally ; and (which will be news to 
the geographers of to-day) " are used by the Psyli (the 
swindler mis-spells again) of South America to charm 
Beasts, Birds, and Serpents." The way to control the 
mind, he says, was discovered by a French traveler 
named Tunear. This Frenchman is perhaps a relative 
of the equally celebrated Russian traveller, Toofaroff. 

But here is the point, after all. You send the mon 
ey, we will say, for one of these charms for they are 
for sale separately. You receive in return a second 
circular, saying that they work a great deal better all 
together, and so the man will send you all of them 
when you send the rest of the money. Send it, if you 
choose ! 


Now, how is it possible for people to be living among 
us here, who are fooled by such wretched balderdash as 
this ? There are such, however, and a great many of 
them. I do not imagine that there are many of these 
addlepates among my readers ; but there is no harm 
in giving once more a very plain and easy direction 
which may possibly save somebody some money and 
some mortification. Be content with what you can 
honestly earn. Know whom you deal with. Do not 
try to get money without giving fair value for it. And 
pay out no money on strangers promises, whether by 
word of mouth, written letters, advertisements, or print 
ed circulars. 




Some twelve years ago or so, in the early days of 
Californian immigration, a curious little business humbug 
came off about six miles from Monterey. A United 
States officer, about the year 1850, was on his way into 
the interior on a surveying expedition, with a party of 
men, a portable forge, a load of coal, and sundry other 
articles. At the place in question, six miles inland, the 
Lieutenant s coal wagon " stalled " in a " tule " 
swamp. With true military decision the greater part 
of the coal was thrown out to extricate the team, and 


not picked up again. The expedition went on and 
so did time, and the latter, in his progress, had some 
years afterward dried up the tuld swamp. Some enter 
prising prospecters, with eyes wide open to the nature 
of tilings, now espied one fine morning the lumps of 
coal, sticking their black noses up out of the mud. It 
was a clear case there was a coal mine there ! The 
happy discoverers rushed into town. A company was 
at once organized under the mining laws of the state 
of California. The corporators at first kept the whole 
matter totally secret except from a few particular friends 
who were as a very great favor allowed to buy stock 
for cash. A " compromise " was made with the owner 
of the land, largely to his advantage. When things 
had thus been set properly at work, specimens of coal 
were publicly exhibited at Monterey. There was a gi 
gantic excitement ; shares went up almost out of sight. 
Twelve hundred dollars in coin for one share (par $100) 
was laughed at. About this time a quiet honest Dutch 
man of the vicinity passing along by the " mine " one 
evening with his cart, innocently and unconsciously 
picked up the whole at one single load and carried it 
home. Prompt was the discovery of the " sell " by 
the stockholders, and voluble and intense, it is said, 
their profane expressions of dissatisfaction. But the 
original discoverers of the mine vigorously protested 
that they were " sold " themselves, and that it was only 
a case of common misfortune. It is however reported 
that a number of persons in Monterey, after the explo 
sion of the speculation, remembered all about the coal- 
wagon part of the business, which they said, the excite- 


ment of the " company " had put entirely out of their 

An equally unfounded but not quite so barefaced 
humbug came off a good many years ago in the good 
old city of Hartford, in Connecticut, according to the 
account given me by an old gentleman now deceased, 
who was one of the parties interested. This was a 
coal mine in the State House -yard. It sounds like 
talking about getting sunbeams out of cucumbers 
but something of the sort certainly took place. 

Coal is found among rocks of certain kinds, and not 
elsewhere. Among strata of granite or basalt for in 
stance, nobody expects to find coal. But along with a 
certain kind of sandstone it may reasonably be expect 
ed. Now the Hartford wiseacres found that tremen 
dously far down under their city, there was a sort of 
sandstone, and they were sure that it was the sort. So 
they gathered together some money, there is a vast 
deal of that in Hartford, coal or no coal organized a 
company, employed a Mining Superintendent; set up 
a boring apparatus, and down went their hole into the 
ground an orifice some four or. six inches across. 
Through the surface stratum of earth it went, and bang 
it came against the sandstone. They pounded away, 
with good courage, and got some fifties or hundreds of 
feet further. Indefinable sensations were aroused in 
their minds at one time by the coming up among the 
products of boring, of some chips of wood. Now wood, 
shortly coal, they thought. They might, I imagine, 
have brought up some pieces of boiled potato or even 
of fresh shad, provided it had fallen down first. They 


duo; on until they got tired, and then they stopped. 
If they had gone down ten thousand feet they would 
have found no coal. Coal is found in the new red 
sandstone ; but theirs was the old red sandstone, 
which is a very fine old stone itself, but in which no 
coal was ever found, except what might have been put 
there on purpose, or possibly some faint indications. 
The hole they made, however, as my informant gravely 
observed, was left sticking in the ground, and if he is 
right is to this day a sort of appendix or tail to the well 
north-west corner of the State House Square. So, I 
suppose, any one who chooses can go and poke down 
there after it and satisfy himself about the accuracy of 
this account. Such an inquirer ought to find satisfaction, 
for " truth lies in the bottom of a well " says the proverb. 
Yet some ill natured skeptics have construed this to mean 
that all will tell lies sometimes, for as they accent 
it, even "Truth lies, at the bottom of a well I " 

Still- a different sort of business humbug, again, was 
a wonderful story which went the rounds about fifteen 
years ago, and which was cooked up to help some one 
or other of the various enterprises for new routes by 
Central America to California. This story started, I 
believe, in the " New Orleans Courier." It was, that 
a French Doctor of Vera Paz in Guatemala, while 
making a canal from his estate to the sea, discovered, 
away up at the very furthest extremity of the Gulf of 
Honduras, a vast ancient canal, two hundred and forty 
feet wide, seventy I eet deep, and walled in on both 
sides with "gigantic masses of rough cut stone. The 
Doctor at once crave up his own triflirm- modern exca- 

O 1 <^ 


vation, and plunged into an explanation of this vast 
ancient one, as zealously as if he were probing after 
some uncertain bullet in a poor fellow s leg. The mon 
strous canal carried him in a straight line up the coun 
try? to the south-westward. Some twenty miles or so 
inland it plunged under a volcano ! 

But see what a French doctor is made of! 

Cutting down the great, old trees that obstructed the 
entrance, and procuring a canoe with a crew of Indians, 
in he went. The canal became a prodigious tunnel, 
of the same width and depth of water, and vaulted 
three hundred and thirty five feet high in the living 
rock. Nothing is said about the bowels of the volcano, 
so that we must conclude either that such affairs are 
not planted so deep as is supposed, or that the fire-pot 
of the concern was shoved one side or bridged over by 
the canallers, or that the Frenchman had some remark 
ably good style of Fire Annihilator, or else that there 
is some mistake ! 

Eighteen hours of incessant travel brought our intre- 

^ O 

pid M. D. safe through to the Pacific Ocean ; during 
which time, if the maps of that country are of any au 
thority, he passed under quite a number of mountains 
and rivers. The trip was not dark at all, as shafts were 
sunk every little way, which lighted up the interior 
quite well, and then the volcano gave or ought to 
have given some light inside. Indeed, if the doctor 
had only thought of it, I presume he would have notic 
ed double rows of street gas lamps on each side of the 
canal ! The exclusive right to use this excellent transit 
route has not, to my knowledge, been secured to anybody 


yet. It will be observed that ships as large as the 
Great Eastern could easily pass each other in this canal, 
which renders it a sure thing for any other vessel unless 
that shrewd and grasping fellow the Emperor Louis 
Napolean, has got hold of this canal and is keeping it 
dark for some still darker purposes of his own as for 
instance to run his puppet Maximilian into for refuge, 
when he is run out of Mexico it is therefore still in 
the market. And my publication of the facts effectu 
ally disposes of the Emperor s plan of secrecy, of course. 




Every sham, as has often been said, proves some rea - 
ity. Petroleum exists, no doubt, and is an important ad 
dition to our national wealth. But the Petroleum hum 
bug or mania or superstition, or whatever you choose 
to call it, is a humbug, just as truly, and a big one, 
whether we use the word in its milder or its bitterer 

There are more than six hundred petroleum compa 
nies. The capital they call for, is certainly not less than 
five hundred million dollars. The money invested in 
the notorious South Sea Bubble was less than two-fifths 
as much only about $190,000,000. 

Now, this petroleum business very much of it 
is just as thorough a gambling business as any faro 
bank ever set up in Broadway, or any other stock spec 
ulation ever conjured up in Wall Street as much so, 
for instance, as the well known Parker Vein coal 

I shall here tell exactly how those well known and 
enterprising financiers, Messrs. Peter Rolleum and Did 
dle Digwell proceeded in organizing the New- York and 


Rangoon Petroleum Company, of which all my readers 
have seen the advertisements everywhere, and of which 
the former is the Vice President and managing officer, 
and the latter Secretary. In June 1864, neither ot 
these worthy gentleman was worth a cent. Rolleum 
shinned up and down in some commission agency or 
other, and Digwell had a small salary as clerk in some 
insurance or money concern. They barely earned a 
living. Now, Rolleum says he is worth $200,000 ; 
and Mr. Secretary Digwell, besides about $10,000 
worth of stock in the New York and Rangoon, has his 
comfortable salary and his highly respectable " posish " 
to use a little bit of business slang. 

Mr. Rolleum was the originator of the scheme, and 
let Digwell into it ; and together they went to work. 
They had a few hundred dollars in cash, no particular 
credit, an entirely unlimited fund of lies, a good deal of 
industry, plausibility, talk, and cheek, considerable 
acquaintance with business, and an instinctive apprecia 
tion of some of the more selfish motives commonly influ 
ential among men. 

First of all, Rolleum made a trip into the oil country. 
Here, while picking up some of his ordinary agency 
business, he looked around among the wells and oil 
lands, talking, and examining and inquiring of everybody 
about everything, with a busy, solemn face, and the air 
of one who does not wish it to be supposed that he has 
important interests in his care. Then he talked with 
some men at (we will say) Titusville and thereabouts ; 
told all about his valuable business connections in New 
York City : and after getting a little acquainted, he laid 


before each of half-a-dozen or so of them, this proposi 
tion : 

" You can have a good many shares of a first class 
new oil company about to be formed just for permit 
ting your name to be used in its interest, and for being 
a trustee." A thousand shares apiece, he said; to be 
valued at five dollars each, the par value however, be 
ing ten dollars. Five thousand dollars each man, and 
to be made ten thousand, as soon as the proposed puf 
fing should enable them to sell out. After a little hes 
itation, a sufficient number consented. There was 
nothing to pay, something handsome to get, and all 
they were asked for it was, to let a man talk about them. 
What if he did lie ? That was his business. 

This fixed four out of the nine intended trustees. 

Rolleum also obtained memoranda or printed circu 
lars showing the amounts for which a number of oil 
land owners would sell their holes in the ground or the 
room for making others, and describing the premises. 
He now flew back to New York, and went to sundry 
persons of some means and some position but of no 
great nobility, and thus he said : 

" Here are these wealthy and distinguished oil men 
right there on the ground who are going to be trustees 
of my new company. 

" You serve too, won t you ? One thousand shares 
for your trouble five thousand dollars. No money 
to pay I will see to all that. Here are the lands we 
can buy," and he showed his lists. The bribe, and 
the names of those already bribed, influenced them, and 
this secured three more trustees. Two more were 


needed, namely the President and Vice President. 
Rolleum himself was to be the latter ; his next move 
was to secure the former. 

This, the most critical part of the scheme, was cun 
ningly delayed until this time. Rolleum went to the 
Honorable A. Bee, a gentleman of a good deal of abil 
ity, pretty widely known, not very rich, believed (per 
haps for that reason) to be honest, no longer young, 
and of a reverend yet agreeable presence. Him the 
plausible Rolleum told all about the new Company ; 
what a respectable board of trustees there was going to 
be and he showed the names ; all either experienced 
and substantial men of the oil country, or reputable 
business men of New York City. And they have 
agreed to serve, in part because they know what a very 
honest company this is, and still more because they 
hope that the Honorable A. Bee will become Presi 

" My dear Sir," urged Rolleum, sweetly, " this 
legitimate business enterprise must succeed, and must 
secure wealth, reputation, and influence to all connect 
ed with it. We know that you are above pecuniary 
considerations, and that you do not need our influence, 
or anybody s. We need yours. And you need not 
do any work. I will do that. We only need your 
name. And merely as a matter of form, because the 
officers are expected to be interested in their own com 
pany, I have set apart two thousand shares, being at 
half par or $5 a share, $10,000 of stock, to stand in 
your name. See how respectable all these Trustee? 
are ! " And he showed the list and preached upon the 
items of it. 


" This man is worth so many millions, that man is 
such an influential editor. Could I have obtained such 
names if this were not a perfectly square thing ? " 

Ten thousand dollars will go some ways towards 
squaring almost anything, with many people, even if it 
is a mere matter of form ; " and so the old gentleman 
consented. This fixed the whole official " slate." 

Now to set up the machine. 

In a few days of sharp running and talking, Rolleum 
and Digwell accomplished this, as follows : 

First, they hired and furnished handsomely, paying 
cash whenever they couldn t help it, a couple of pleas 
ant first floor rooms close to Wall Street. No dingy 
desk-room up in some dark corner or attic, for them. 
Respectability is the thing for Rolleum. 

Second, they hired a lawyer to draft the proper pa 
pers, and had the New York and Rangoon Petroleum 
Company " Duly incorporated under the mining and 
statute laws of the State of New York," with charter, 
by-laws, seal, officers names, and everything fine, 
new, grand, magnificent, impressive, formal, respectable 
and business-like. 

Third, they now had every requisite of a powerful, 
enterprising and highly successful corporation, except 
the small trifles of money, land and oil. But what are 
these, to such geniuses as Rolleum and Digwell ? Sin 
gular if having invented and set the trap, they could 
not catch the birds ! 

They bought about three pints of oil, for one dollar ; 
and that settled one part of the question. They bought 
it ready sorted and vialled and labelled ; some crude 


and green, some yellowish, some limpid as water, half a 
dozen or so of different specimens. These, in their tall 
vials of most respectable appearance, they placed casu 
ally on the mantel-piece of the outer office. They 
were specimens of the oils which the company s wells 
are confidently expected to yield when they get em ! 

Last of all land and money. Subscriptions to cap 
ital stock are to furnish money, money will buy land. 
And saying we ve got land will procure subscriptions. 

" It s not much of a lie, after all," said Rolleum, 
confidentially, to brother Digwell. " When we ve 
said we ve got it for awhile, we shall get it. It s not 
a lie at all. It s only discounting the truth at sixty 
days ! " 

So he and Digwell went to work and made a splendid 
prospectus and advertisement, the latter an abridged 
edition of the former. This prospectus was a great 
triumph of business lying mixed with plums and spices 
of truth, and all set forth with taking " display lines." 

It began with a stately row of names : New York 
and Rangoon Petroleum Company ; Honorable Abra 
ham Bee, President ; Peter Rolleum, Esq., Vice Presi 
dent ; Diddle Digwell, Esq., Secretary ; and so on. 
With cool impudence it then gave a list headed " Lands 
and Property " not saying " of the Company " for fear 
of a prosecution for swindling. But the list below be 
gan with the words " the oil lands to be conveyed to the 
Company are as follows : " that s exactly it " quoth 
Rolleum "no lie there, at any rate. They are. to 
4 to be conveyed to us if we choose just as soon 
as we can pay for them." And then the list went on from 


" No. 1 " to " No. 43," giving in a row all those mem- 

O O 

orand a which Rolleum had obtained in Venango County 
and the region round about, of the descriptions of the 
real estate which the landsharks up there would be glad 
to sell for what they asked for it. 

The Prospectus said the capital of the company was 
one million dollars, in one hundred thousand shares at 
ten dollars each. But in order to obtain a WORKING 
CAPITAL, twenty thousand shares are offered for a lim 
ited period at five dollars each, not subject to further 

And it added, though with more phrases, something 
to the following effect : Hurry ! Pay quick ! Or you 
will lose your chance ! In conclusion the whole was 
wound up with many wise and moral observations about 
legitimate business, interests of stockholders, heavy 
capitalists, economical management, and other such 
things ; and it bestowed some rather fat compliments 
upon the honorable Abraham Bee and the Trustees. 

Having, concocted this choice morsel of bait, they 
set it in the great stream of newspapers, there to catch 
fish. In plain terms, with some cash and some credit 
for their means would not even reach to pay in ad 
vance the whole of their first advertising bill they 
managed to have their advertisement published during 
several weeks in a carefully chosen group of about thir 
ty of the principal newspapers of the United States. 

The whole web was now woven ; and Rolleum and 

Dig well, like two hungry spiders, squatted in their den, 

every nerve thrilling to feel the first buzz of the 

first fly. It was natural that the scamps should feel a 



good deal excited : it was life or death with them. It 
a confiding public, in answer to their impassioned appeal, 
should generously remit, they were made men for life. 
If not, instead of being -rich and respected gentlemen, 
they were ridiculous, detected swindlers. 

Well they succeeded. So truthful is our Great 
American Nation so confiding, so sure of the truth 
of what is said in print, even if only in the advertising 
columns of a newspaper so certain of the good faith 
of people who have their names printed in large capi 
tals and with a handle at one end that actually these 
fellows had a hundred thousand dollars in bank within 
ten weeks before they owned one foot of land, or 
one inch of well, or one drop of oil, except those three 
pints in the vials on the office shelf! 

And remember this is no imaginary case. I am giv 
ing point by point the exact transactions of a real 
Petroleum Company. 

Everything I have told was done, only if possible 
with a more false and baseless impudence then I have 
described. And scores and scores of other Petroleum 
Companies have been organized in ways exactly as un 
principled. Some of them may perhaps have proceeded 
as real business concerns. Some have stopped and dis 
appeared as soon as the managers could get a handsome 
sum of money into their pockets for stock. 

What the result will be, in the present case., I don t 
know. The New York and Rangoon Petroleum Com 
pany, when I last knew about it, " still lived." They 
had or said they had bought some land. I have 
not heard of their receiving any oil raised from their 


own wells. They have sent off a monstrous quantity of 
circulars, prospectuses and advertisements. They caus 
ed a portrait and biography of the Honorable A. Bee 
to be printed in a very respectable periodical, and paid 
five hundred dollars for it. They had themselves sys 
tematically puffed up to the seventh heaven in a long 
series of articles in another periodical, and paid the 
owner of it $2,000 or so in stock. They talk very big 
about a dividend. But although they have received 
a great deal of money, and paid out a great deal, I do 
not know of their paying their stockholders any yet. 
If they should, it would not prove much. For it is 
sometimes considered " a good dodge " to declare and 
pay a large dividend before any real profits have been 
earned ; as this is calculated to enhance the price of 
shares, and to make them " go off like hot cakes." 

I shall not make any " moral " about this story. It 
teaches its own. It is a very mild statement of what 
was done to establish an actual specimen, and far 
from being of the w T orst description of a great part 
of the Petroleum Company enterprises of the day. 

It is whispered that somehow or other the trustees 
and officers of the New York and Rangoon do not own 
so much stock of their company as they did, having 
managed to have their stock sold to subscribers as if it 
were company stock. If this is so, those gentlemen 
have made their reward sure ; and Mr. Peter Rolleum, 
having the cash in hand for that very liberal allotment 
of stock which he gave himself for his trouble in get 
ting up the New York and Rangoon Petroleum Com 
pany, is very likely half or a quarter as rich as he says. 



Alboni, the singer, had an exquisitely sweet voice, but 
was a very big fat woman. Somebody accordingly re 
marked that she was an elephant that had swallowed a 
nightingale. About as incongruous is the idea of a na 
tion of damp, foggy, fat, full-figured, broad-sterned, gin- 
drinking, tobacco-smoking Dutchmen in Holland, going 
crazy over a flower. But they did so, for three or four 
years together. Their craze is known in history as the 
Tulipomania, because it was a mania about tulips. 

Just a word about the Dutchmen first. 

These stout old fellows were not only hardy naviga 
tors, keen discoverers, ingenious engineers, laborious 
workmen, able financiers, shrewd and rich merchants, 
enthusiastic patriots and tremendous fighters, but they 
were eminently distinguished (as they still are to a 
considerable extent) by a love, of elegant literature, 
poetry, painting, music and other fine arts, including 
horticulture. It was a Fleming that invented painting 
in oils. Before him, white of egg was used, or gum- 
water, or some such imperfect material, for spreading 
the color. Erasmus, one of the most learned, ready- 
minded, acute, graceful and witty scholars that ever 
lived, was a Dutchman. All Holland and Flanders, 
in days when they were richer, and stronger compared 


with the rest of the world than they are now, were 
full of singing societies and musical societies and poe 
try making societies. The universities of Leyden and 
Utrecht and Louvain are of highly an ancient Euro 
pean fame. And as for flowers, and bulbs in particular, 
Holland is a principal home and market of them now, 
more than two hundred years after the time I am going 
to tell of. 

Tulips grow wild in Southern Russia, the Crimea 
and Asia Minor, as potatoes do in Peru. The first 
tulip in Christian Europe was raised in Augsburg, in 
the garden of a flower-loving lawyer, one Counsellor 
Herwart, in the year 1559. thirteen years after Luther 
died. This tulip bulb was sent to Herwart from Con-, 
stantinople. For about eighty years after this the flow 
er continually increased in repute and became more 
and more known and cultivated, until the fantastic ea 
gerness ot* the demand for fine ones and the great prices 
that they brought, resulted in a real mania like that 
about the moms multicaulis, or the petroleum mania 
of to-day, but much more intense. It began in the. 
year 1635, and went out with an explosion in the year 

This tulip business is, I believe, the only speculative 
excitement in history whose subject-matter did not even 
claim to have any real value. Petroleum is worth 
some shillings a gallon for actual use for many purposes. 
Stocks always claim to represent some real trade or bu 
siness. The morns multicaulis was to be as permanent 
a source of wealth as corn, and was expected to pro 
duce the well known mercantile substance of silk. But 


nobody ever pretended that tulips could be eaten, or 
manufactured, or consumed in any way of practical use 
fulness. They have not one single quality of the kind 
termed useful. They have nothing desirable except 
the beauty of a peculiarly short-lived blossom. You 
can do absolutely nothing with them except to look at 
them. A speculation in them is exactly as reasonable 
as one in butterflies would be. 

In the course of about one year, 1634-5, the tulip 
frenzy, after having increased for fifteen or twenty 
years with considerable speed, came to a climax, and 
poisoned the whole Dutch nation. Prices had at the 
end of this short period risen from high to extravagant, 
and from extravagant to insane. High and low, counts, 
burgomasters, merchants, shop-keepers, servants, shoe 
blacks, all were buying and selling tulips like mad. In 
order to make the commodity of the day accessible to 
all, a new weight was invented, called a perit, so small 
that there were about eight thousand of them in one 
pound avoirdupois, and a single tulip root weighing 
from half an ounce to an ounce, would contain from 
200 to 400 of these perits. Thus, anybody unable to 
buy a whole tulip, could buy a perit or two, and have 
what the lawyers call an " undivided interest" in a root. 
This way of owning shows how utterly unreal was the 
pretended value. For imagine a small owner attempt 
ing to. take his own perits and put them in his pocket. 
He would make a little hole in the tulip-root, would 
probably kill it, and would certainly obtain a little bit 
of utterly worthless pulp for himself, and no value at 
all. There was a whole code of business regulations 


made to meet the peculiar needs of the tulip business, 
besides, and in every town were to be found " tulip-no 
taries," to conduct the legal part of the business, take 
acknowledgments of deeds, note protests, &c. 

To say that the tulips were worth their weight in 
gold would be a very small story. It would not be a 
very great exaggeration to say that they were worth 
their size in diamonds. The most valuable species of 
all w r as named " Semper Augustus," and a bulb of it 
which weighed 200 perits, or less than half an ounce 
avoirdupois, was thought cheap at 5,500 florins. A 
florin may be called about 40 cents ; so that the little 
brown root was worth $2,200, or 220 gold eagles, 
which would weigh, by a rough estimate, eight pounds 
four ounces, or 132 ounces avoirdupois. Thus this half 
ounce Semper Augustus was worth I mean he would 
bring two hundred and sixty-four times his weight in 

There were many cases where people invested whole 
fortunes equal to $40,000 or $50,000 in collections of 
forty or fifty tulip roots. Once there happened to be 
only two Semper Augustuses in all Holland, one in 
Haarlem and one in Amsterdam. The Haarlem one 
was sold for twelve acres of building lots, and the Am 
sterdam one for a sum equal to $1,840,00, together 
with a new carriage, span of grey horses and double 
harness, complete. 

Here is the list of merchandise and estimated prices 
given for one root of the Viceroy tulip. It is interest 
ing as showing what real merchandise was worth in 
those days by a cash standard, aside from its exhibition 
of tremendous speculative bedlamism : 


160 bushels wheat . . $179,20 

320 bushels rye . . 223,20 

Four fat oxen . . . 192,00 

Eight fat hogs . . . 96,00 

Twelve fat sheep . . 48,00 

Two hogsheads wine . . 28,00 

Four tuns beer . . 12,80 

Two tuns butter . . . 76,80 

1000 Ibs. cheese . . 48,00 

A bed all complete . . 40,00 

One suit clothes . . 32,00 

A silver drinking cup . . 24,00 

Total exactly $1,000,00 

In 1636, regular tulip exchanges were established in 
the nine Dutch towns where the largest tulip business 
was done, and while the gambling was at its intensest, the 
matter was managed exactly as stock camblinor is man- 

O / O 

aged in Wall street to-day. You went out into " the 
street " without owning a tulip or a perit of a tulip in 
the world, and met another fellow with just as many 
tulips as yourself. You talk and " banter " with him, 
and finally (we will suppose) you " sell short " ten 
Semper Augustuses, " seller three," for 2,000 each, 
in all $20,000. This means in ordinary English, that 
without having any tulips (i. e., short,) you promise to 
deliver the ten roots as above in three days from date. 
Now when the three days are up, if Semper Augustuses 
are worth in the market only $1,500, you could, if this 
were a real transaction, buy ten of them for $15,000, and 
deliver them to the other gambler for $20,000, thus 
winning from him the difference of $5,000. But if the 


roots have risen and are worth $2,500 each, then if the 
transactions were real you would have to pay ,$25,000 
for the ten roots and could only get $20,000 from the 
other gambler, and he, turning round and selling them 
at the market price, would win from you this difference 
of $5,000. But in fact the transaction was not real, 
it was a stock gambling one ; neither party owned tu 
lips or meant to, or expected the other to ; and the 
whole was a pure game of chance or skill, to see which 
should win and which should lose that $5,000 at the 
end of three days. When the time came, the affair 
was settled, still without any tulips, by the loser paying 
the difference to the winner, exactly as one loses what 
the other wins at a game of poker or faro. Of course 
if you can set afloat a smart lie after making your bar 
gain, such as will send prices up or down as your profit 
requires, you make money by it, just as stock gamblers 
do every day in New York, London, Paris, and other 
Christian commercial cities. 

While this monstrous Dutch gambling fury lasted, 
money was plenty, everybody felt rich and Holland was 
in a whiz of windy delight. After about three years of 
fool s paradise, people began to reflect that the shuttle 
cock could not be knocked about in the air forever, and 
that when it came down somebody would be hurt. So 
first one and then another began quietly to sell out and 
quit the game, without buying in again. This cautious 
infection quickly spread like a pestilence, as it always 
does in such cases, and became a perfect panic or 
fright. All at once, as it were, rich people all over 
Holland found themselves with nothing in the world 


except a pocket full or a garden-bed full of flower roots 
that nobody would buy and that were not good to eat, 
and would not have made more than one tureen of soup 
if they were. 

Of course this state of things caused innumerable 
bankruptcies, quarrels, and refusals to complete bar 
gains, everywhere. The government and the courts 
were appealed to, but with Dutch good sense they re 
fused to enforce gambling transactions, and though the 
cure was very severe because very sudden, they prefer- 
ed to let "the bottom drop out" of the whole affair at 
once. So it did. Almost everybody was either ruined 
or impoverished. The very few who had kept any or 
all of their gains by selling out in season, remained so 
far rich. And the vast actual business interests of Hol 
land received a damaging check, from which it took many 
years to recover. 

There were some curious incidents in the course of 
the tulipomania. They have been told before, but they 
are worth telling again, as the poet says, " To point the 
moral or adorn the tale. r 

A sailor brought to a rich Dutch merchant news of 


the safe arrival of a very valuable cargo from the Le 
vant. The old hunks rewarded the mariner for his good 
tidings with one red herring for breakfast. Now Ben 
Bolt (if that was his name perhaps as he was a 
Dutchman it was something like Benje Boltje) was 
very fond of onions, and spying one on the counter as 
he went out of the store, he slipped it into his pocket, 
and strolling back to the wharf, sat down to an odorif- 


ous breakfast of onions and herring. He munched 
away without finding anything unusual in the flavor, 
until just as he was through, down came Mr. Merchant, 
tearing along like a madman at the head of an excited 
procession of clerks, and flying upon the luckless son of 
Neptune, demanded what he had carried off besides his 
herring ? 


" An onion that I found on the counter." 
" Where is it ? Give it back instantly ! " 
" Just ate it up with my herring, mynheer." 
Wretched merchant ! In a fury of useless grief he 
apprized the sailor that his sacrilegious back teeth had 
demolished a Semper Augustus valuable enough, explain 
ed the unhappy old fellow, to have feasted the Prince of 
Orange and the Stadtholder s whole court. " Thieves ! " 
he cried out " Seize the rascal ! " So they did seize 
him, and he was actually tried, condemned and impris 
oned for some months, all of which however did not 
bring back the tulip root. It is a question after all in 
my mind, whether that sailor was really as green as he 
pretended, and whether he did not know very well 
what he was taking. It would have been just like a 
reckless seaman s trick to eat up the old miser s twelve 
hundred dollar root, to teach him not to give such stingy 
gifts next time. 

An English traveller, very fond of botany, was one 
day in the conservatory of a rich Dutchman, when he 
saw a strange bulb lying on a shelf. With that ex 
treme coolness and selfishness which too many travel 
lers have exercised, what does he do but take out his 


penknife and carefully dissect it, peeling off the outer 
coats, and quartering the innermost part, making all 
the time a great many wise observations on the phe 
nomena of the strange new root. In came the Dutch 
man all at once, and seeing what was going on, he 
asked the Englishman, with rage in his eyes, but with 
a low bow and that sort of restrained formal civility 
which sometimes covers the most furious anger, if he 
knew what he was about ? 

" Peeling a very curious onion," answered Mr. Trav 
eller, us calmly as if one had a perfect right to destroy 
other people s property to gratify his own curiosity. 

" One hundred thousand devils ! " burst out the 
Dutchman, expressing the extent of his anger by the 
number of evil spirits he invoked " It is an Admiral 
van der Eyck ! " , 

" Indeed ? " remarked the scientific traveller, " thank 
you. Are there a good many of these admirals in your 
country ? " and he drew forth his note book to write 
down the little fact. 

" Death and the devil ! " swore the enraged Dutch 
man again " come before the Syndic and you shall 
find out all abofct it ! " So he collared the astounded 
onion-peeler, and despite all he could say, dragged him 
straightway before the magistrate, where his scientific 
zeal suffered a dreadful quencher in the shape of an 
affidavit that the "onion" was worth four thousand 
florins about $1600 and in the immediate judg 
ment of the Court, which " considered " that the pris 
oner be forthwith clapt into jail until he should give 
security for the amount. He had to do so accordingly, 


and doubtless all his life retained a distaste for Dutch 
men and Dutch onions. 

These stories about such monstrous valuations of 
flower roots recall to my mind another anecdote which 
I shall tell, not because it has anything to do with tu 
lips, but because it is about a Dutchman, and shows in 
striking contrast an equally low valuation of human 
life. It is this : Once, in time of peace, an English 
and a Dutch Admiral met at sea, each in his flag ship, 
and for some reason or other exchanged complimentary 
salutes. By accident, one of the Englishman s guns 
was shotted and misdirected, and killed one of the 
Dutch crew. On hearing the fact the Englishman at 
once manned a boat and went to apologize, to inquire 
about the poor fellow s family and to send them some 
mone} . provide for the funeral, etc. etc., as a kind 
hearted man would naturally do. But the Dutch 
commander, on meeting him at the quarter-deck, and 
learning his errand, at once put all his kindly intentions 
completely one side, saying in imperfect English : 

" It sh no matter, it sh no matter dere s blaanty 
more Tutchmen in Holland ! 



BUBBLE IN 1720. 

The "South Sea Bubble" is one of the most start 
ling lessons which history gives us of the ease with 


which the most monstrous, and absurd, and wicked 
humbugs can be crammed down the throat of poor hu 
man nature. It ought also to be a useful warning of 
the folly of mere " speculation," as compared with real 
" business undertakings." The history of the South Sea 
Bubble has been told, before, but it is too prominent a 
case to be entirely passed over. It occupied a period 
of about eight months, from February 1, 1720, to the 
end of the following September. It was an unreason 
able expansion of the value of the stock of the " South 
Sea Company." This Company was formed in 1711 ; 
its stock was at first about $30,000,000, subscribed by 
the public and handed over by the corporators to Gov 
ernment to meet certain troublesome public debts. In 
return, Government guaranteed the stockholders a div 
idend of six per cent., and gave the Company sundry 
permanent important duties and a monopoly of all trade 
to the South Pacific, or " South Sea." This matter 
went on with fair success as a money enterprise, until 
the birth of the u Bubble," which was as follows : In 
the end of January, 1720, probably in consequence of 
catching infection from " Law s Mississippi Scheme " 
in France, the South Sea Company and the Bank of 
England made competing propositions to the English 
Government, to repeat the original South Sea Compa 
ny financiering plan on a larger scale. The proposi 
tion of the Company, which was accepted by Govern 
ment, was : to assume as before the whole public debt, 
now amounting to over one hundred and fifty millions 
of dollars ; and to be guaranteed at first a five per cent, 
dividend, and afterward a four per cent, one, to the 


stockholders by Government. For this privilege, the 
Company agreed to pay outright a bonus of more than 
seventeen million dollars. This plan is said to have 
been originated and principally carried through by Sir 
John Blunt, one of the Company s directors. Parlia 
ment adopted it after two months discussion the 
Bubble having, however, been swelling monstrously all 
the time. 

It must be remembered that the wonderful profits 
expected from the Company were to come from their 
monopoly of the South Sea trade. Tremendous stories 
were told by Blunt and his friends, who can hardly 
have believed more than one half of their own talk, 
about a free trade with all the Spanish Pacific colonies, 
the importation of silver and gold from Peru and Mex 
ico in return for dry goods, etc., etc.; all which fine 
things were going to produce two or three times the 
amount of the Company s stock every year. When 
the bill authorizing the arrangement passed, South Sea 
stock had already reached a price of four hundred per 
cent. The bill was stoutly opposed in Parliament by 
Mr. afterwards Sir Robert Walpole, and a few 
others but in vain. Under the operation of the beau 
tiful stories of the speculative Blunt and his friends, 
South Sea stock, after a short lull in April, began to 
rise again, and the bubble swelled and swelled to a size 
so monstrous, and with colors so gay, that it filled the 
whole horizon of poor foolish John Bull : perfectly 
turned his bull-headed brain, and made him for the 
time absolutely crazy. The directors opened books on 
April 12th for <5, 000,000 new stock, charging, how- 


ever, 300 for each share of =100, or three hundred 
per cent, to begin with. Double the amount was sub 
scribed in a few clays ; that is, John Bull subscribed 
thirty million dollars for ten millions of stock, where 
only five millions were to be had. In a few days more, 
these subscribers were selling at double what they paid. 
April 21st. a ten per cent, dividend was voted for mid 
summer. In a day or two, another five million sub 
scription was opened at four hundred per cent, to begin 
with. The whole, and half as much more, was taken 
in a few hours. In the end of May, South Sea stock 
was worth five hundred to one. On the 28th, it was 
five hundred and fifty. In four days more, for some 
reason or other, it jumped up to eight hundred and 
ninety. The speculating Blunt kept all this time blow 
ing and blowing at his bubble. All summer, he and 
his friends blew and blew ; and all summer the bubble 
swelled and floated, and shone ; and high and low, men 
and women, lords and ladies, clergymen, princesses and 
duchesses, merchants, gamblers, tradesmen, dressmak 
ers, footmen, bought and sold. In the beginning of 
August, South Sea stock stood at one thousand per 
cent ! It was really worth about twenty-five per cent. 
The crowding in Exchange Alley, the Wall street of 
the day, was tremendous. So noisy, and unmanage 
able and excited was this mob of greedy fools, that the 
very same stock was sometimes selling ten per cent, 
higher at one end of the Alley than at the other. 

The growth of this monstrous, noxious bubble hatch 
ed out a multitude of young cockatrices. Not only was 
the stock of the India Company, the Bank of England, 


and other sound concerns, much increased in price by 
sympathy with this fury of speculation, but a great 
number of utterly ridiculous schemes and barefaced 
swindles were ad\ r ertised and successfully imposed on 
the public. Any piece of paper purporting to be stock 
could be sold for money. Not the least thought of in- 
vestio-atinp; the solvency of advertisers seems to have oc- 

Cr^ o t/ 

curred to anybody. Nor was any rank free from the 
poison. Almost a hundred projects were before the 
public at once, some of them incredibly brazen hum 
bugs. There were schemes for a wheel for perpetual 
motion capital, $ 5, 000. 000; for trading in hair (for 
wigs), in those days u a big thing;" for furnishing 
funerals to any part of Britain ; for " improving the art 
if making soap ; " for importing walnut-trees from Vir 
ginia capital, $10.000,000 ; for insuring against losses 
hy servants capital $15,000,000 ; for making quick 
silver malleable ; Puckle s Machine Company," for 
discharging cannon-balls and bullets, both round and 

O O 

square, and so on. One colossal genius in humbugging 
actually advertised in these words : " A company for 
carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but no 
body to know what it is." The capital he called for was 
$2,500,000, in shares of $500 each ; deposit on subscrib 
ing, $10 per share. Each subscriber was promised $500 
per share per annum, and full particulars were to be 
given in a month, when the rest of the subscription 
was to be paid. This great financier, having put forth 
his prospectus, opened his office in Cornhill next morn 
ing at nine o clock. Crowds pressed upon him. At 
three p. M., John Bull had paid this immense humbug 


$10,000, being deposits on a thousand shares subscribed 
for. That night, the financier a shrewd man! 
modestly retired to an unknown place upon the Conti 
nent, and was never heard of again. Another humbug 
almost as preposterous, was that of the " Globe Permits." 
These were square pieces of playing-cards with a seal 
on them, haA^ing the picture of the Globe Tavern, and 
with the words, " Sailcloth Permits." What they 
" permitted " was a subscription at some future period 
to a sailcloth-factory, projected by a certain capitalist. 
These " permits " sold at one time for -$300 each. 

But the more sensible members of Government soon 
exerted their influence against these lesser and more 
palpable humbugs. Some accounts say that the South 
Sea Company itself grew jealous, for it was reckoned 
that these " side-shows " called for a total amount of 
$1,500,000,000, and itself took legal means against 
them. At any rate, an " order in council " was pub 
lished, peremptorily dismissing and dissolving them all. 

During August, it leaked out that Sir John Blunt 
and some other " insiders " had sold out their South 
Sea stock. There was also some charges of unfairness 
in managing subscriptions. After so long and so in 
tense an excitement, the time for reaction and collapse 
was come. The price of stock began to fall in spite of 
all that the directors could do. September 2, it was 
down to 700. 

A general meeting of the company was held to try 
to whitewash matters, but in vain. The stock fell, fell, 
fell. The great humbug had- received its death-blow. 
Thousands of families saw beggary staring them in the 


face, grasping them with its iron hand. The conster 
nation was inexpressible. Out of it a great popular 
rage began to flame np, just as fires often break out 
among the prostrate houses of a city ruined by an earth 
quake. Efforts were meanwhile vainly made to stay 
the ruin by help from the Bank of England. Bankers 
and goldsmiths (then often doing a banking business) 
absconded daily. Business corporations failed. Credit 
was almost paralyzed. In the end of September, the 
stock fell to 175/150, 135. 

Meanwhile violent riots were feared. South Sea di 
rectors could not be seen in the streets without being 
insulted. The King, then in Hanover, was imperative 
ly sent for home, and had to come. So extensive was 
the misfortune and the wrath of the people, so numer 
ous the public meetings and petitions from all over the 
kingdom, that Parliament found it necessary to grant 
the public demand, and to initiate a formal inquiry into 
the whole enterprise. This was done ; and the fool 
ish, swindled, disappointed, angry nation, through this 
proceeding, vented all the wrath it could upon the per 
sons and estates of the manao-ers and officers of the 


South Sea Company. They were forbidden to leave 
the kingdom, their property \vas sequestrated, they were 
placed in custody and examined. Those of them in 
Parliament were insulted there to their faces, several of 
them expelled, the most violent charges made against 
them all, A secret investigating committee was set to 
rip up the whole affair. Knight, the treasurer, who 
possessed all the dangerous secrets of the concern, ran 
away to Calais and the Continent, and so escaped. 
The books were found to have been either destroyed, 


secreted, or mutilated and garbled. Stock bribes of 
$250,000, $150,000, $50,000 had been paid to the Earl 
of Sunderland, the Duchess of Kendal (the King s fa 
vorite,) Mr. Craggs (one of the Secretaries of State,) 
and others. Mr. Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Ex 
chequer, had accumulated $4,250,000 and more out of 
the business. Many other noblemen, gentlemen, and 
reputable merchants were disgracefully involved. 

The trials that were had resulted in the imprison 
ment, expulsion or degradation of Aislabie, Craggs, Sir 
George Caswell (a banker and member of the House,) 
and others. Blunt, a Mr. Stanhope, and a number 
more of the chief criminals were stripped of their wealth, 
amounting to from $135,000 to $1.200,000 each, and 
the proceeds used for the partial relief of the ruined, 
except amounts left to the culprits to begin the world 
anew. Blunt, the chief of all the swindlers, was strip 
ped of about $925,000, and allowed only $5,000. By 
this means and by the use of such actual property as 
the Company did possess, about one-third of the money 
lost by its means was ultimately paid to the losers. It 
was a long time, however, before the tone of public 
credit was thoroughly restored. 

The history of the South Sea bubble should always 
stand as a beacon to warn us that reckless speculation 
is the bane of commerce, and that the only sure meth 
od of gaining a fortune, and certainly of enjoying it, is 
to diligently prosecute some legitimate calling, which, 
like the quality of mercy, is " twice blessed." Every 
man s occupation should be beneficial to his fellow-man 
as well as profitable to himself. All else is vanity and 






In the " good old times," people were just as eager 
after money as they are now ; and a great deal more 
vulgar, unscrupulous, and foolish in their endeavors to 
get it. During about two hundred years after the dis 
covery of America, that continent was a constant source 
of great and little money humbugs. The Spaniards 
and Portuguese and French and English all insisted 
upon thinking that America was chiefly made of gold ; 
perhaps believing, as the man said about Colorado, that 
the hardship of the place was, that you have to dig 
through three or four feet of solid silver before the 
gold could be reached. . This curious delusion is shown 
by the fact that the early charters of lands in America 
so uniformly reserved to the King his proportion of all 
gold and silver that should be found. And if gold 
were not to be had, these lazy Europeans were equally 
crazy about the rich merchandize which they made sure 
of finding in the vast and solitary American mountains 
and forests. 

In a previous letter, I have shown how one of those 
delusions, about the unbounded wealth to be obtained 
from the countries on the South Sea, caused the English 
South Sea bubble. 


A similar belief, at the same time, in the neighboring 
country of France, formed the airy basis of a similar 
business humbug, even more gigantic, noxious, and de 
structive. This was John Law s Mississippi scheme, 
of which I shall give an account in this chapter. It 
was, I think, the greatest business humbug of history. 

Law was a Scotchman, shrewd and able, a really 
good financier for those days, but vicious, a gambler, 
unprincipled, and liable to wild schemes. He had pos 
sessed a good deal of property, had traveled and gam 
bled all over Europe, was witty, entertaining, and cap 
ital company, and had become a favorite with the Duke 
of Orleans and other French nobles. When the Duke 
became Regent of France at the death of Louis XIV, 
in 1715, that country was horribly in debt, and its peo 
ple in much misery, owing to the costly wars and flay 
ing taxations of the late King. When, therefore, Law 
came to Paris with a promising scheme of finance in 
his hand, the Regent was particularly glad to see him, 
both as financier and as friend. 

The Regent quickly fell in with Law s plans ; and in 
the spring of 1716, the first step not, however, so in 
tended at the time toward the Mississippi Scheme 
was taken. This was, the establishment by royal au 
thority of the banking firm of Law & Co., consisting 
of Law and his brother. This bank, by a judicious or 
ganization and issue of paper money, quickly began to 
help the distressed finances of the kingdom, and to in 
vigorate trade and commerce. This success, which 
seems to have been an entirely sound and legitimate 
business success, made one sadly mistaken but very 


deep impression upon the ignorant and shallow mind of 
the Regent of France, which was the foundation of all 
the subsequent trouble. The Regent became firmly 
convinced, that if a certain quantity of bank bills could 
do so much good, a hundred thousand times as many 
bills would surely do a hundred thousand times as much. 
That is, he thought printing and issuing the bills was 
creating money. He paid no regard to the need of 
providing specie for them on demand, but thought he 
had an unlimited money factory in the city of Pans. 

So far, so good. Next, Law planned, and, with the 
ever ready consent of the Regent, effected, an enlarge 
ment of the business of his bank, based on that delu 
sion I spoke of about America. This enlargement was 
the formation of the Mississippi Company, and this was 
the contrivance which swelled into so tremendous a 
humbug. The company was closely connected with the 
banks, and received (to begin with) the monopoly of all 
trade to the Mississippi River, and all the country west 
of it. It was expected to obtain vast quantities of gold 
and silver from that region, and thus to make immense 
dividends on its stock. At home, it was to have the 
sole charge of collecting all the taxes and coining all 
the money. Stock was issued to the amount of one 
hundred thousand shares, at $200 (five hundred livres) 
each. And Law s help to the Government funds was 
continued by permitting this stock to be paid for in 
those funds, at their par value, though worth in market 
only about a third of it. Subscriptions came in rapidly 
for the French community was far more ignorant 
about commercial affairs, finances, and the real re- 


sources of distant regions, than we can easily conceive 
of now-a-days ; and not only the Regent, but every 
man, woman, and child in France, except a very few 
tough and hard-headed old skeptics, believed every 
word Law said, and would have believed him if he had 
told stories a hundred times as incredible. 

Well, pretty soon the Regent gave the associates 
the bank and the company two other monopolies: 
that of tobacco, always monstrously profitable, and that 
of refining gold and silver. Pretty soon, again, he 
created the bank a state institution, by- the magnificent 
name of The Royal Bank of France. Having done 
this, the Regent could control the bank in spite of Law 
(or order either) ; for, in those days, the kings of 
France were almost perfectly despotic, and the Regent 
was acting king. I have mentioned the Regent s ter 
rible delusion about paper-money. No sooner had he 
the bank in his power, than he added to the reasonable 
and useful total of 812,000,000 of notes already out, a 
monstrous issue of $200,000,000 worth in one vast 
batch, with the firm conviction that he was thus adding 
so much to the par currency of France. 

The Parliament of France, a body mostly of lawyers, 
originating in the Middle Ages, a steady, conservative, 
wise, and brave assembly, was always hostile to Law 
and his schemes. When this great expansion of paper- 
currency began, the Parliament made a resolute fight 
against it, petitioning, ordaining, threatening to hang 
Law, and frightening him well, too ; for the thorough en 
mity of an assembly of old lawyers may well frighten 
anybody. At last, the Regent, by the use of the des- 


potic power of which the Kings of France had so much, 
reduced these old fellows to silence by sticking a few 
of them in jail. 

The cross-grained Parliament thus disposed of, every 
thing was quickly made to "look lovely." In the be 
ginning of 1719, more grants were made to Law s asso 
ciated concerns. The Mississippi Company was granted 
the monopoly of all trade to the East Indies, China, the 
South Seas, and all the territories of the French India 
Company, and of the Senegal Company. It took a 
new and imposing name : " The Company of the In 
dies." They had already, by the way, also obtained 
the monopoly of the Canada beaver-trade. Of this co 
lossal corporation, monopolizing the whole foreign com 
merce of France with two-thirds or more of the world, 
its whole home finances, and other important interests 
besides, fifty thousand new shares were issued, as before, 
at $100 each. These might be bought as before, with 
Government securities at par. Law was so bold as to 
promise annual dividends of 20 per share, which, as 
the Government funds stood, was one hundred and 
twenty per cent, per annum.! Every body believed 
him. More than three hundred thousand applications 
were made for the new shares. Law was besieged in 
his house by more than twice as many people as Gener 
al Grant had to help -him take Richmond. The Great 
Huinbu o 1 was at last in full buzz. The street where 


the wonderful Scotchman lived was busy, filled, crowd 
ed, jammed, choked. Dangerous accidents happened 
in it every day, from the excessive pressure. From, 
the princes of the blood down to cobblers and lackeys, 


all men and all women crowded and crowded to sub 
scribe their money, and to pay their money, and to 
know how many shares they had gotten. Law moved 
to a roomier street, and the crazy mob crowded harder 
than ever ; so that the Chancellor, who held his court 
of law hard by, could not hear his lawyers. 

A tremendous uproar surely, that could drown the 
voices of those gentlemen ! And so he moved again, 
to the great Hotel de Soissons, a vast palace, with a 
garden of some acres. Fantastic circumstances varie 
gated the wild rush of speculation. The haughtiest of 
the nobility rented mean rooms near Law s abode, to be 
able to get at him. Rents in his neighborhood rose to 
twelve and sixteen times their usual amount. A cob 
bler, whose lines had fallen in those pleasant places, 
made $40 a day by letting his stall and furnishing writ 
ing materials to speculators. Thieves and disreputable 
characters of all sorts flocked to this concourse. There 
were riots and quarrels all the time. They often had 
to send a troop of cavalry to clear the street at night. 
Gamblers posted themselves with their implements 
among the speculators, who gambled harder than the 
gamblers, and took an occasional turn at roulette by 
way of slackening the excitement ; as people go to 
sleep, or go into the country. A hunchback fellow 
made a good deal of money by letting people write on 
his back. When Law had moved into the Hotel de 
Soissons, the former owner, the Prince de Carignan, 
reserved the gardens, procured an edict confining all 
stock-dealings to that place ; put up five hundred tents 
there, leased them at five hundred livres a month each, 


and thus made money at the rate of $50,000 a month. 
There were just two of the aristocracy who were sensi 
ble and resolute enough not to speculate in the stock 
The Duke de St. Simon and the old Marshal Villars. 

Law became infinitely the most important person in 
the kingdom. Great and small, male and female, high 
and low, haunted his offices and ante-chambers, hunted 
him down, plagued his very life out, to get a moment s 
speech with him, and get him to enter their names as 
buyers of stock. The highest nobles would wait halt 
a day for the chance. His servants received great sums 
to announce some visitor s name. Ladies of the highest 
rank gave him anything he would ask of them for leave 
to buy stock. One of them made her coachmen upset 
her out of her carriage as Law came by, to get a word 
with him. He helped her up ; she got the word, and 
bought some stock. Another lady ran into the house 
where he was at dinner, and raised a cry of fire. 
The rest ran out, but she ran further in to reach Law, 
who saw what she was at, and like a pecuniary Joseph, 
ran away as fast as he could. 

As the frenzy rose toward its height, and the Regent 
took advantage of it to issue stock enough to pay the 
whole national debt, namely, three hundred thousand 
new shares, at $1,000 each, or a thousand per cent, in 
the par value. They were instantly taken. Three 
times as many would have been instantly taken. So 
violent were the changes of the market, that shares rose 
or fell twenty per cent, within a few hours. A servant 
was sent to sell two hundred and fifty shares of stock ; 
found on reaching the gardens of the Hotel de Soissons, 


that since he left his master s house the price had risen 
from $1,600 (par value 8100 remember) to $ 2,000. 
The servant sold, gave his master the proceeds at 
81,600 a share, put the remaining $100,000 in his own 
pocket, and left France that evening. Law s coach 
man became so rich that he left service, and set up his 
own coach ; and when his master asked him to find a 
successor, he brought two candidates, and told Law to 
choose, and he would take the other himself. There 
were many absurd cases of vulgarians made rich. 
There were also many robberies and murders. That 
committed by the Count de Horn, one of the higher 
nobility and two accomplices, is a famous case. The 
Count, a dissipated rascal, poniarded a broker in a tav 
ern for the money the broker carried with him. But 
he was taken, and, in spite of the utmost and most de 
termined exertions of the nobility, the Regent had him 
broken on the wheel in public, like any other mur 

The stock of the Company of the Indies, though it 
dashed up and down ten and twenty per cent, from day 
to day, was from the first immensely inflated. In Au 
gust 1719, it sold at 610 per cent. ; in a few weeks 
more it arose to 1,200 per cent, all winter it still went 
up until, in April 1720, it stood at 2,050 per cent. 
That is, one one-hundred dollar share would sell for two 
thousand and fifty dollars. 

At this extreme point of inflation, the bubble stood 
a little, shining splendidly as bubbles do when they are 
nearest bursting, and then it received two or three quiet 
pricks. The Prince de Conti, enraged because Law 


would not send him some shares on his own terms, sent 
three wagon-loads of bills to Law s bank, demanding spe 
cie. Law paid it, and complained to the Regent, who 
made him put two-thirds of it back again. A shrewd 
stock-gambler drew specie by small sums until lie had 
about $200,000 in coin, and lest he should be forced to 
return it, lie packed it in a cart, covered it with ma 
nure, put on a peasant s disguise, and carted his fortune 
over the frontiers into Belgium. Some others quietly 
realized their means in like manner by driblets and 
funded them abroad. 

By such means coin gradually grew very scarce, and 
signs of a panic appeared. The Regent tried to adjust 
matters by a decree that coin should be five per cent. 
less than paper ; as much as to say, It is hereby enacted 
that there is a great deal more coin than than there is ! 
This did not serve, and the Regent decreed again, that 
coin should be worth ten per cent, less than paper. 
Then he decreed that the bank must not pay more than 
$22 at once in specie ; and, finally, by a bold stretch of 
his authority, he issued an edict that no person should 
have over $100 in coin, on pain of fine and confiscation. 
These odious laws made a great deal of trouble, spying, 
and distress, and rapidly aggravated the difficulty they 
were meant to cure. The price of shares in the great 
company began to fall steadily and rapidly. Law and 
the Regent began to be universally hated, cursed, and 
threatened. Various foolish and vain attempts were 
made to stay the coming ruin, by renewing the stories 
about Louisiana sending out a lot of conscripted labor 
ers, ordering that all payments must be made in paper, 


and printing a new batch of notes, to the amount of 
another $300,000,000. Law s two corporations were 
also doctored in several ways. The distress and fright 
grew worse. An edict was issued that Law s notes and 
shares should depreciate gradually by law for a year, 
and then be worth but half their face. This made 
such a tumult and outcry that the Regent had to re 
tract it in seven days. On this seventh day, Law s 
bank stopped paying specie. Law was turned out ol 
his public employments, but still well treated by the 
Regent in private. He was, however, mobbed and 
stoned in his coach in the street, had to have a compa 
ny of Swiss Guards in his house, and at last had to flee 
to the Regent s own palace. 

I have not space to describe in detail the ruin, mis 
ery, tumults, loss and confusion which attended the 
speedy descent of Law s paper and shares to . entire 
worthlessness. Thousands of families were made pau 
pers, and trade and commerce destroyed by the painful 
process. Law himself escaped out of France poor ; and, 
after another obscure and disreputable career of gam 
bling, died in poverty at Venice, in 1729. 

Thus this enormous business-humbug first raised a 
whole nation into a fool s paradise of imaginary wealth, 
and then exploded, leaving its projector and many thou 
sands of victims ruined, the country disturbed and dis 
tressed, long-enduring consequences, in vicious and law 
less and unsteady habits, contracted while the delusion 
lasted, and no single benefit except one more most 
dearly-bought lesson of the wicked folly of mere specu 
lation without a real business basis and a real business 


method. Let not this lesson he lost on the rampant 
and half-crazed speculators of the present day. Those 
who buy gold or flour, leather, butter, dry goods, gro 
ceries, hardware, or anything else on speculation, when 
prices are inflated far beyond the ordinary standard, are 
taking upon themselves great risks, for the bubble must 
eventually be pricked ; and whoever is the " holder " 
when that time comes, must necessarily be the loser. 






Medical humbugs constitute a very critical subject 
indeed, because I shall be almost certain to offend some 
of three parties concerned, namely ; physicians, quacks, 
and patients. But it will never do to neglect so impor 
tant a division of my whole theme as this. 

To begin with, it is necessary to suggest, in the most 
delicate manner in the world, that there is a small in 
fusion of humbug among the very best of the regular 
practitioners. These gentlemen, for whose learning, 
kind-heartedness, self-devotion, and skill I entertain 
a profound respect, make use of what I may call the 
gaseous element of their practice, not for the lucre of 
gain, but in order to enlist the imaginations of their pa 
tients in aid of nature and great remedies. 

The stories are infinite in number, which illustrate 
the force of imagination, ranging through all the grades 
of mental action, from the lofty visions of good men 
who dream of seeing heaven opened to them, and all 
its ineffable glories and delights, down to the low com 
edy conceit of the fellow who put a smoked herring in 
to the tail of his coat and imagined himself a mermaid. 


Probably, however, imagination displays its real 
power more wonderfully in the operations of the mind 
on the body that holds it, than anywhere else. It is 
true that there are some people even so utterly without 
imagination that they cannot take a joke ; such as that 
grave man of Scotland who was at last plainly told by 
a funny friend quite out of patience, " Why, you 
wouldn t take a ioke if it were fired at you out of a 

J / 

cannon ! " 

" Sir," replied the Scot, with sound reasoning and 
grave thought, " Sir, you are absurd. You cannot 
fire a joke out of a cannon ! " 

But to return : It is certainly the case that frequent 
ly " the doctor r .takes great care not to let the patient 
know what is the matter, and even not to let him know 
what he is swallowing. This is because a good many 


people, if at a critical point of disease, may be made to 
turn toward health if made to believe that they are 
doing so, but would be frightened, in the literal sense 
of the words, to death, if told what a dangerous state 
they are in. 

One sort of regular practice humbug is rendered ne 
cessary by the demands of the patients. This is giving 
good big doses of something with a horrid smell and 
taste. There are plenty of people who don t believe 
the doctor does anything to earn his money, if he does 
not pour down some dirty brown or black stuff very 
nasty in flavor. Some, still more exacting, wish for 
that sort of testimony which depends on internal con 
vulsions, and will not be satisfied unless they suffer tor 
ments and expel stuff enough to quiet the inside of 
Mount Vesuvius or Popocatapetl. 


" He s a good doctor," was the verdict of one of this 
class of leather-boweled fellows " he ll work your in- 
ards for you ! " 

It is a milder form of this same method to give what 
the learned faculty term a placebo. This is a thing in 
the outward form of medicine, but quite harmless in 
itself. Such is a bread-pill, for instance ; or a draught 
of colored water, with a little disagreeable taste in it. 
These will often keep the patient s imagination headed 
in the right direction, while good old Dame Nature is 
quietly mending up the damages in " the soul s dark 

One might almost fancy that, in proportion as the 
physician is more skillful, by so much he gives less med 
icine, and relies more on imagination, nature, and, 
above all, regimen and nursing. Here is a story in 
point. There was an old gentleman in Paris, who sold 
a famous eye-water, and made much gain thereby. He 
died, however, one fine day, and unfortunately forgot 
to leave the recipe on record. " His disconsolate widow 
continued the business at the old stand," however to 
quote another characteristic French anecdote and be 
ing a woman of ready and decisive mind, she very 
quietly filled the vials with water from the river Seine, 
.and lived respectably on the proceeds, finding, to her 
great relief, that the eye-water was just as good as ever. 
At last however, she found herself about to die, and 
under the stings of an accusing conscience she confessed 
her trick to her physician, an eminent member of the 
profession. " Be entirely easy, Madam," said the wise 
man ; " don t be troubled at all. You are the most in- 


nocent physician in the world ; you have done nobody 
any harm." 

It is an old and illiberal joke to compare medicine to 
war, on the ground that the votaries of both seek to de 
stroy life. It is, however, not far from the truth to say 
that they are alike in this ; that they are both pre 
eminently liable to mistakes, and that in both he is most 
successful who makes the fewest. 

How can it be otherwise, until we know more than 
we do at present, of the great mysteries of life and 
death ? It seems risky enough to permit the wisest and 
most experienced physician to touch those springs of 
life which God onlv understands. And it is enough to 


make the most stupid stare, to see how people will let 
the most disgusting quack jangle their very heart 
strings with his poisonous messes, about as soon as if 
he were the best doctor in the world. A true phy 
sician, indeed, does not hasten to drug. The great 
French surgeon, Majendie, is even said to have com 
menced his official course of lectures on one occasion 
by coolly saying to his students : " Gentlemen, the cur 
ing of disease is a subject that physicians know nothing 
about." This was doubtless an extreme way of putting 
the case. Yet it was in a certain sense exactly true. 
There is one of the geysers in Icelend, into which vis 
itors throw pebbles or turfs, with the invariable result 
of causing the disgusted geyser in a few minutes to 
vomit the close out again, along with a great quantity 
of hot water, steam, and stuff. Now the doctor does 
know that some of his doses are pretty sure to work, as 
the traveler knows that his dose will work on the gey- 


ser. It is only the exact how and why that is not un 

But however mysterious is nature, however ignorant 
the doctor, however imperfect the present state of phys 
ical science, the patronage and the success of quacks 
and quackeries are infinitely more wonderful than those 
of honest and laborious men of science and their care 
ful experiments. 

I have come about to the end of my tether for this 
time ; and quackery is something too monstrous in di 
mensions as well as character to be dealt with in a par 
agraph. But I may with propriety put one quack at 
the tail of this letter ; it is but just that he should Jet 
decent people go before him. I mean " Old Sands of 
Life." Everybody has seen his advertisement, begin 
ning " A retired Physician whose sands of life have 
nearly run out," etc. And everybody almost 
knows how kind the fellow is in sending gratis his re 
cipe. All that is necessary is (as you find out when 
you get the recipe) to buy at a high price from him one 
ingredient which (he says) you can get nowhere else. 
This swindling scamp is in fact a smart brisk fellow of 
abotft thirty-five years of age, notwithstanding the 
length of time during which to use a funny phrase 
which somebody got up for him he has been " afflicted 
with a loose tail-board to his mortal sand-cart." Some 
benevolent friend was so much distressed about the fee 
bleness of " Old Sands of Life " as to send him one 
day a large parcel by express, marked " C. O. D.," 
and costing quite a figure. " Old Sands " paid, and 
opening the parcel, found half a bushel of excellent 






There is a fellow in Williamsburg who calls himself 
a clergyman, and sells a "consumptive remedy," by 
which I suppose he means a remedy for consumption. 
It is a mere slop corked in a vial ; but there are a good 
many people who are silly enough to buy it of him. 
A certain gentleman, during last November, earnestly 
sought an interview with this reverend brother in the 
interests of humanity, but he was as inaccessible as a 
chipmunk in a stone fence. The gentleman wrote a 
polite note to the knave asking about prices, and receiv 
ed a printed circular in return, stating in an affecting 
manner the good man s grief at having to raise his 
price in consequence of the cost of gold "with which 
I am obliged to buy my medicines " saith he, " in Paris." 
This was both sad and unsatisfactory ; and the gentle 
man went over to Williamsburgh to seek an interview 
and find out all about the prices. He reached the 
abode of the man of piety, but, strange to relate, he 
wasn t at home. 

Gentleman waited. 

Reverend brother kept on not being at home. When 
gentleman had waited to his entire satisfaction he came 


It is understood it is practically out of the question 
to see the reverend brother. Perhaps lie is so modest 
and shy that he will not encounter the clamorous grati 
tude which would obstruct his progress through the 
streets, from the millions saved by his consumptive 
remedy. It is a pity that the reverend man cannot 
enjoy the still more complete seclusion by which the 
state of New York testifies its appreciation of unobtru 
sive and retiring virtues like his, in the salubrious and 
quiet town of Sing Sing. 

A quack in an inland city, who calls himself E. An 
drews, M. D., prints a " semi-occasional " document in 
the form of a periodical, of which a copy is lying before 
me. It is an awful hodgepodge of perfect nonsense 
and vulgar rascality. He calls it " The Good Samari 
tan and Domestic Physician," and this number is called 
" volume twenty." Only think what a great man we 
have among us unless the Doctor himself is mistaken. 
He says : " I will here state that I have been favored 
by nature and Providence in gaining access to stores of 
information that has fell to the lot of but very few per 
sons heretofore, during the past history of mankind." 
Evidently these " stores" were so vast that the great 
doctor s brain was stuffed too full to have room left for 
English Grammar. Shortly, the Doctor thus bursts 
forth again with some views having their own merits, 
but not such as concern the healing art very directly : 
" The automaton powers of machinery " there s a new 
style of machinery, you observe " must be made to 
WORK FOR, instead of as now, against mankind ; the 
Land of all nations must be made FREE to Actual Set- 


tiers in LIMITED quantities. No one must be born with 
out his birthright being born with him." The italics, 
etc., are the Doctor s. What an awful thought is this 
of being born without any birthright, or, as the Doctor 
leaves us to suppose possible, having one s birthright born 
first, and dodging about the world like a stray canary- 
bird, while the unhappy and belated owner tries in vain 
to put salt on its tail and catch it ! 

Well, this wiseacre, after his portentous introduction, 
fills the rest of his sixteen loosely printed double- 
columned octavo pages with a farrago of the most in 
describable character, made up of brags, lies, promises, 
forged recommendations and letters, boasts of systemat 
ic charity, funny scraps of stuff in the form of little 
disquisitions, advertisements of remedies, hair-oils, cos 
metics, liquors, groceries, thistle-killers, anti-bug mix 
tures, recipes for soap, ink, honey, and the Old Harry 
only knows what. The fellow gives a list of seventy- 
one specific diseases for which his Hasheesh Candy is a 
sure cure, and he adds that it is also a sure cure for all 
diseases of the liver, brain, throat, stomach, ear, and 
other internal disorders ; also for " all long standing 
diseases " whatever that means ! and for insanity ! 
In this monstrous list are jumbled together the most in 
congruous troubles. " Bleeding at the nose, and abor 
tions ; " " worms, fits, poisons and cramps." And the 
impudent liar quotes General Grant, General Mitchell, 
the Rebel General Lee, General McClellan, and Doc 
tor Mott of this city, all shouting in chorus the praises 
of the Hasheesh Candy ! Next conies the " Secret of 
Beauty," a " preparation of Turkish Roses ; " then a 


lot of forged references, and an assertion that the Doc 
tor gives to the poor five thousand pounds of bread 
every winter; then some fearful denunciations of the 
regular doctors. 


But as the auctioneers say "I can t dwell." 
I will only add that the real villainy of this fellow only 
appears here and there, where he advertises the means 
of ruining innocence, or of indulging with impunity in 
the foulest vices. He will sell for $3.30, the " Mystic 
Weird Ring." In a chapter of infamous blatherumskite 
about this ring he says : " The wearer can drive from, 
or draw to him, any one, and for any purpose what 
ever." I need not explain what this scoundrel means. 
He also will sell the professed means of robbery and 
swindling ; saying that he is prepared to show how to 
remove papers, wills, titles, notes, etc., from one place 
to another " by invisible means." It is a wonder that 
the Bank of Commerce can keep any securities in its 
vaults of course ! 

But enough of this degraded panderer to crime and 
folly. He is beneath notice, so far as he himself con 
cerned ; I devote the space to him, because it is well 
worth while to understand how base an imposture can 
draw a steady revenue from a nation boasting so much 
culture and intelligence as ours. It is also worth con 
sidering whether the authorities must not be remiss, 
who permit such odious deceptions to be constantly per 
petrated upon the public. 

I ought here to give a paragraph to the great C. W. 
Roback, one of whose Astrological Almanacs is before 
me. This erudite production is embellished in front 


with a picture of the doctor and his six brothers for 
he is the seventh son of a seventh son. The six elder 
brethren nice enough boys stand submissively 
around their gigantic and bearded junior, reaching only 
to his waist, and gazing up at him with reverence, as 
the sheaves of Joseph s brethren worshipped his sheaf 
in his dream. At the end is a picture of Magnus Ro- 
back, the grandfather of C. W., a bull-headed, ugly 
old Dutchman, with a globe and compasses. This pic 
ture, by the way, is in fact a cheap likeness of the old 
discoverers or geographers. Within the book we find 
Gustavus Roback, the father of C. W., for whom is 
used a cut of Jupiter or some other heathen god 
half-naked, a-straddle of an eagle, with a hook in one 
hand and a quadrant in the other ; which is very much 
like the picture by one of the " Old Masters v of Abra 
ham about to offer up Isaac, and taking a long aim at 
the poor boy with a flint-lock horse-pistol. Doctor Ro 
back is good enough to tell us where his brothers are : 
" One, a high officer in the Empire of China, another a 
Catholic Bishop in the city of Rome," and so on. 
There is also a cut of his sister, whom he cured of con 
sumption. She is represented " talking to her bird, 
after the fashion of her country, when a maiden is un 
expectedly rescued from the jaws of death ! " 

Roback cures all sorts of diseases, discovers stolen 
property, insures children a marriage, and so on, all by 
means of " conjurations." He also casts nativities and 
foretells future events ; and he shows in full how Ber- 
nadotte, Louis Philippe, and Napoleon Bonaparte either 
did well or would have done well by following his ad- 


vice. The chief peculiarity of this impostor is, that he 
really avoids direct pandering to vice and crime, and 
even makes it a specialty to cure drunkenness and of 
all things in the world lying I On this point Roback 
gives in full the certificate of Mrs. Abigail Morgan, 
whose daughter Amanda " was sorely given to fibbing, 
in so much that she would rather lie than speak the 
truth." And the delighted mother certifies that our 
friend and wizard " so changed the nature of the girl 
that, to the best of our knowledge and belief, she has 
never spoken anything but the truth since." 

There is a conjurer " as is a conjurer." 

What an uproar the incantation of the great Roback 
would make, if set fairly to work among the politicians, 
for instance ! But after all, on second thoughts, what 
a horrible mass of abominations would they lay bare in 
telling the truth about each other all round ! No, no 
it won t do to have the truth coming out, in politics 
at any rate ! Away with Roback I I will not give 
him another word not a single chance not even to 
explain his great power over what he calls " Fits ! 
Fits I Fits ! Fits ! Fits ! " 



Every visitor to Florence during the last twenty 
years must have noticed on the grand piazza before the 


Ducal Palace, the strange genius known as Monsignore 
Creso, or, in plain English, Mr. Croesus. He is so call 
ed because of his reputed great wealth ; but his real 
name is Christoforo Rischio, which I may again trans 
late, as Christopher Risk. Mrs. Browning refers to 
him in one of her poerns the " Casa Guidi Windows," 
I think and he has also been the staple of a tale by 
one of the Trollope brothers. 

Twice every week, he comes into the city in a 
strange vehicle, drawn by two fine Lombardy ponies, 
and unharnesses them in the very centre of the square. 
His assistant, a capital vocalist, begins to sing imme 
diately, and a crowd soon collects around the wagon. 
Then Monsignore takes from the box beneath his seat a 
splendidly jointed human skeleton, which he suspends 
from a tall rod and hook, and also a number of human 
skulls. The latter are carefully arranged on an adjusta 
ble shelf, and Cre so takes his place behind them, while 
in his rear a perfect chemist s shop of flasks, bottles, 
and pillboxes is disclosed. Very soon his singer ceases, 
and in the purest Tuscan dialect the very utterance 
of which is music the Florentine quack-doctor pro 
ceeds to address the assemblage. Not being conver 
sant with the Italian, I am only able to give the sub 
stance of his harangue, and pronounce indifferently 
upon the merit of his elocution. I am assured, how 
ever, that not only the common people, who are his 
chief patrons, but numbers of the most intelligent citi 
zens, are always entertained by what he has to say ; 
and certainly his gestures and style of expressions seem 
to betray great excellence of oratory. Having turned 


the skeleton round and round on its pivot, and mi 
nutely explained the various anatomical parts, in or 
der to show his proficiency in the basis of medical 
science, he next lifts the skulls, one by one, and des 
cants upon their relative perfection, throwing in a 
shrewd anecdote now and then, as to the life of the ori 
ginal owner of each cranium. 

One skull, for example, he asserts to have belonged 
to a lunatic, who wandered for half a lifetime in the 
Val d Ema, subsisting precariously upon entirely vege 
table food roots, herbs, and the like ; another is the 
superior part of a convict, hung in Arezzo for numerous 
offences ; a third is that of a very old man who lived a 
celibate from his youth up, and by his abstinence and 
goodness exercised an almost priestly influence upon the 
borghesa. When, by this miscellaneous lecture, he has 
both amused and edified his hearers, he ingeniously turns 
the discourse upon his own life, and finally introduces 
the subject of the marvellous cures he has effected. The 
story of his medical preparations alone, their components 
and method of distillation, is a fine piece of popularized 
art, and he gives a practical exemplification of his skill 
and their virtues by calling from the crowd successively, 
a number of invalid people, whom he examines and pre 
scribes for on the spot. Whether these subjects are 
provided by himself or not, I am unable to decide ; but 
it is very possible that by long experience, Christoforo 
who has no regular diploma has mastered the sim 
pler elements of Materia Medica, and does in reality 
effect cures. I class him among what are popularly 
known as humbugs, however, for he is a pretender to 


more wisdom than he possesses. It was to me a strange 
and suggestive scene the bald, beak-nosed, coal-eyed 
charlatan, standing in the market-place, so celebrated in 
history, peering through his gold spectacles at the up 
turned faces below him, while the bony skeleton at his 
side swayed in the wind, and the grinning skulls below, 
made grotesque faces, as if laughing at the gul labilfty 
of the people. Behind him loomed up the massive Pal 
azzo Vecchio, with its high tower, sharply cut, and 
set with deep machicolations ; to the left, the splendid 
Loggia of Orgagna, filled with rare marbles, and the long 
picture-gallery of the Uffizi, heaped with the rarest art- 
treasures of the world ; to his right, the Giant Foun 
tain of Ammanato, throwing jets of pure water one 
drop of which outvalues all the nostrums in the world ; 
and in front, the Post Office, built centuries before, by 
Pisan captives. If any of these things moved the imper 
turbable Creso, he showed no feeling of the sort ; but for 
three long hours, two days in the week, held his hideous 
clinic in the open daylight. 

Seeing the man so often, and interested always in his 
manner as much so, indeed, as the peasants or conta- 
dini, who bought his vials and pillboxes without stint 
I became interested to know the main features of his 
life ; and, by the aid of a friend, got some clues which 
I think reliable enough to publish. I do so the more 
willingly, because his career is illustrative, after an odd 
fashion, of contemporary Italian life. 

He was the son of a small farmer, not far from Sienna, 
and grew up in daily contact with vine-dressers and 
olive-gatherers, living upon the hard Tuscan fare of 


maccaroni and maroon-nuts, with a cutlet of lean mut 
ton once a day, and a pint of sour Tuscan wine. Be 
ing tolerably well educated for a peasant-boy, he im 
bibed a desire for the profession of an actor, and studied 
Alfieri closely. 

Some little notoriety that he gained by recitations 
led him, in an evil hour, to venture an appearance en 
grand role, in Florence, at a third-rate theatre. His 
father had meanwhile deceased and left him the prop 
erty ; but to make the de*but referred to, he sold almost- 
his entire inheritance. As may be supposed, his fail 
ure was signal. However easy he had found it to 
amuse the rough, untutored peasantry of his neighbor 
hood, the test of a large and polished city was beyond 
his merit. 

So, poor and abashed, he sank to the lower walks of 
dramatic art, singing in choruses at the opera, playing 
minor parts in show-pieces, and all the while feeling 
the stiiig of disappointed ambition and half-deserved 

One day found him, at the beginning of winter, with 
out work, and without a soldo in his pocket. Passing 
a druggist s shop, he saw a placard asking for men to 
sell a certain new preparation. The druggist advanc 
ed him a small sum for travelling expenses, and he took 
to peripatetic lectures at once, going into the country 
and haranguing at all the villages. 

Here he found his dramatic education available. 
Though not good enough for an actor, he was sufficient 
ly clever for a nomadic eulogizer of a patent-medicine. 
His vocal abilities were also of service to him in gath- 


ering the people together. The great secret of success 
in anything is to get a hearing. Half the object is 
gained when the audience is assembled. 

Well ! poor, vagabond, peddling Christopher Risk, 
selling so much for another party, conceived the idea 
of becoming his own capitalist. He resolved to prepare 
a medicine of his own ; and, profiting by the assistance 
of a young medical student, obtained bona fide prescrip 
tions for the commonest maladies. These he had made 
up in gross, originated labels for them, and concealing 
the real essences thereof by certain harmless adultera 
tions, began to advertise himself as the discoverer of a 

To gain no ill-will among the priests, whose influ 
ence is paramount with the peasantry, he dexterously 
threw in a revere-nt word for them in his nomadic ha 
rangues, and now and then made a sounding present to 
the Church. 

He profited also by the superstitions abroad, and to 
the skill of Hippocrates added the roguery of Simon 
Magus. By report, he was both a magician and phy 
sician, and a knack that he had of slight-of-hand was 
not the least influential of his virtues. 

His bodily prowess was as great as his suppleness. 
One day, at Fiesole, a foreign doctor presumed to chal 
lenge Monsignore to a debate, and the offer was ac 
cepted. While the two stood together in Cristoforo s 
wagon, and the intruder was haranguing the people, 
the quack, without a movement of his face or a twitch 
of his body, jerked his foot against his rival s leg and 
threw him to the ground. He had the effrontery to 


proclaim the feat as magnetic entirely, accomplished 
without bodily means, and by virtue of his black-art 

An awe fell upon the listeners, and they refused to 
hear the checkmated disputant further. 

As soon as Cristoforo began to thrive, he indulged 
his dramatic taste by purchasing a superb wagon, team, 
and equipments, and hired a servant. Such a turnout 
had never been seen in Tuscany since the Medician 
days. It gained for him the name of Creso straight 
way, and, enabling him to travel more rapidly, enlarged 
his business sphere, and so vastly increased his profits. 

He arranged regular days and hours for each place 
in Tuscany, and soon became as widely known as the 
Grand Duke himself. When it was known that he 
had bought an old castle at Pontassieve on the banks 
of the Arno, his reputation still further increased. He 
was now so prosperous that he set the faculty at defi 
ance. He proclaimed that they were jealous of his pro- 
founder learning, and threatened to expose the bane- 
fulness of their systems. 

At the same time, his talk to the common people be 
gan to savor of patronage, and this also enhanced his 
reputation. It. is much better, as a rule, to call atten 
tion up to you rather than charity down to you. The 
shrewd impostor became also more absolute now. It 
was known that the Grand Duke had once asked him 
to dine, and that Monsignore had the hardihood to re 
fuse. Indeed, he sympathized too greatly with the 
aroused Italian spirit of unity and progress to compro 
mise himself with the house of Austria. When at last 


the revolution came, Cristoforo was one of its best 
champions in Tuscany. His cantante sang only the 
march of Garibaldi and the victories of Savoy. His 
own speeches teemed with the gospel of Italy regener 
ated ; and for a whole month he wasted no time in 
the sale of his bottighias and pillolas, but threw all his 
vehement, persuasive, and dramatic eloquence into the 
popular cause. 

The end we know. Tuscany is a dukedom no long 
er, but a component part of a great peninsular kingdom 
with " Florence the Beautiful " for its capital. 

And still before the ducal palace, where the deputies 
of Italy are to assemble, poor, vain Cristoforo Rischio 
makes his harangue every Tuesday and Saturday. 
He is now or was four years ago upward of sixty 
years of age, but spirited and athletic as ever, and so 
rich that it would be superfluous for him to continue 
his peripatetic career. 

His life is to me noteworthy, as showing what may 
be gained by concentrating even humble energies upon 
a paltry thing. Had Creso persevered as well upon 
the stage, I do not doubt that he would have made a 
splendid actor. If he did so well with a mere nostrum, 
why should he not have gained riches and a less gro 
tesque fame by the sale of a better article ? He under 
stood human nature, its credulities and incredulities, its 
superstitions, tastes, changefulness, and love of display 
and excitement. He has done no harm, and given as 
much amusement as he has been paid for. Indeed, I 
consider him more an ornamental and useful character 
than otherwise. He has brightened many a traveler s 


recollections, relieved the tedium of many a weary 
hour in a foreign city, and, with all his deception, has 
never severed himself from the popular faith, nor sold 
out the popular cause. I dare say his death, when it 
occurs, will cause more sensation and evoke more tears, 
than that of any better physician in Tuscany. 






In classing the ghost excitement that agitated our 
good people to such an extent some two years ago 
among the " humbugs " of the age, 1 must, at the out 
set, remind my readers that there was no little accumu 
lation of what is termed " respectable " testimony, as to 
the reality of his ghostship in Twenty-seventh street. 

One fine Sunday morning, in the early part of 1863, 
my friends of the " Sunday Mercury " astonished their 
many thousands of patrons with an account that had 
been brought to them of a fearful spectre that had 
made its appearance in one of the best houses in Twenty- 
seventh Street. The narrative was detailed with cir 
cumstantial accuracy, and yet with an apparent discreet 
reserve, that gave the finishing touch of delightful mys 
tery to the story. 

The circumstances, as set forth in the opening letter 
(for many others followed) were briefly these : A high 
ly respectable family residing on Twenty-seventh Street, 
one of our handsome up-town thoroughfares, became 
aware, toward the close of the year 1862, that something 
extraordinary was taking place in their house, then one 
of the best in the neighborhood. Sundry mutterings and 


whisperings began to be heard among the servants em 
ployed about the domicil, and, after a little while it be 
came almost impossible to induce them to remain there 
for love or money. The visitors of the family soon 
began to notice that their calls, which formerly were so 
welcome, particularly among the young people of the 
establishment, seemed to give embarrassment, and that 
the smiles that greeted them, as early as seven in the 
evening gradually gave place to uneasy gestures, and, 
finally to positive hints at the lateness of the hoar, or 
the fatigue of their host by nine o clock. 

The head of the family was a plain, matter-of-fact 
old gentleman, by no means likely to give way to any 
superstitious terrors one of your hard-headed busi 
ness men who pooh-poohed demons, hobgoblins, and 
all other kinds of spirits, except the purest Santa Cruz 
and genuine old Otard ; and he fell into a great rage, 
when upon his repeated gruff demands for an explana 
tion, he was delicately informed that his parlor was 
" haunted." He vowed that somebody wanted to drive 
him from the house ; that there was a conspiracy afoot 
among the women to get him still higher up town, and 
into a bio ser brown-stone front, and refused to believe 

C5O 7 

one word of the ghost-story. At length, one day, 
while sitting in his " growlery," as the ladies called it, 
in the lower story, his attention was aroused by a clat 
ter on the stairs, and looking out into the entry he saw a 
party of carpenters and painters who had been employ 
ed upon the parlor-floor, beating a precipitate retreat 
toward the front door. 

" Stop ! stop ! you infernal fools ! What s all this 
hullabaloo about ? " shouted the old gentleman. 

HOAXES. 253 

No reply no halt upon the part of the mechanics, 
but away they went down the steps and along the street, 
as though Satan himself, or Moseby the guerrilla, was 
at their heels. They were pursued and ordered back, 
but absolutely refused to come, swearing that they had 
seen the Evil One, in propria persona; and threats, 
persuasions, and bribes alike proved vain to induce them 
to return. This made the matter look serious, and a 
family-council was held forthwith. It wouldn t do to 
let matters go on in this way, and something must be 
thought of as a remedy. It was in this half-solemn 
and half-tragic conclave that the pater-familias was at 
last put in possession of the mysterious occurrences 
that had been disturbing the peace of his domestic 

A ghost had been repeatedly seen in his best drawing- 
room ! a genuine, undeniable, unmitigated ghost ! 

The spectre was described by the female members of 
the family as making his appearance at all hours, chiefly, 
however in the evening, of course. Now the good old 
orthodox idea of a ghost is, of a very long, cadaverous, 
ghastly personage, of either sex, appearing in white 
draperies, with uplifted finger, and attended or preced 
ed by sepulchral sounds whist ! hush ! and sometimes 
the rattling of casements and the jingling of chains. 
A bluish glare and a strong smell of brimstone seldom 
failed to enhance the horror of the scene. This ghost, 
however, came it seems, in more ordinary guise, but 
none the less terrible for his natural style of approach and 
costume. He was usually seen in the front parlor, 
which was on the second story and faced the street. 


There he would be found seated in a chair near the fire 
place, his attire the garb of a carman or "carter" and 
hence the name " Carter s G host " afterward frequently 
applied to him. There he would sit entirely unmoved 
by the approach of living denizens of the house, who, at 
first, would suppose that he was some drunken or insane 
intruder, and only discover their mistake as they drew 
near, and saw the fire-light shining through him, and 
notice the glare of his frightful eyes, which threatened 
all comers in a most unearthly way. Such was the 
purport of the first sketch that appeared in the " Sunday 
Mercury," stated so distinctly and impressively that the 
effect could not fail to be tremendous among our sensa 
tional public. To help the matter, another brief notice, 
to the same effect, appeared in the Sunday issue of a 
leading journal on the same morning. The news deal 
ers and street-carriers caught up the novelty instanter, 
and before noon not a copy of the " Sunday Mercury " 
could be bought in any direction. The country issue 
of the " Sunday Mercury " had still a larger sale. 

On Sunday morning, every sheet in town made some 
allusion to the Ghost, and many even went so far as to 
give the very (supposed) number of the house favored 
with his visitations. The result of this enterprising 
guess was ludicrous enough, bordering a little, too, upon 
the serious. Indignant house-holders rushed down to 
the " Sunday Mercury " office with the most amusing 
wrath, threatening and denouncing the astonished pub 
lishers with all sorts of legal action for their presumed 
trespass, when in reality, their paper had designated no 
place or person at all. But the grandest demonstration 

HOAXES. 255 

of popular excitement was revealed in Twenty-seventh 
street itself. Before noon a considerable portion of the 
thoroughfare below Sixth Avenue was blocked up with a 
dense mass of people of all ages, sizes, sexes, and nation 
alities, who had come " to see the Ghost. A liquor 
store or two, near by, drove a splendid " spiritual " 
business ; and by evening " the fun " grew so " fast and 
furious " that a whole squad of police had to be employ 
ed to keep the side- walks and even the carriage-way 
clear. The " Ghost " was shouted for to make a speech, 
like any other new celebrity, and old ladies and gentle 
men peering out of upper-story windows were saluted 
with playful tokens of regard, such as turnips, eggs of 
ancient date, and other things too numerous to mention, 
from the crowd. Nor was the throng composed entire 
ly of Gothamites. The surrounding country sent in its 
contingent. They came on foot, on horseback, in wag 
ons, and arrayed in all the costumes known about these 
parts, since the days of Rip Van Winkle. Cruikshanks 
would have made a fortune from his easy sketches of 
only a few figures in the scene. And thus the con 
course continued for days together, arriving at early 
morn and staying there in the street until " dewy eve." 
As a matter of course, there were various explana 
tions of the story propounded by various people all 
wondrously wise in their own conceit. Some would 
have it that " the Ghost" was got up by some of the 
neighbors, who wished, in this manner, to drive away 
disreputable occupants ; others insisted that it was the 
revenge of an ousted tenant, etc., etc. Everybody 
offered his own theory, and, as is usual, in such cases, 
nobody was exactly right. 


Meanwhile, the " Sunday Mercury " continued its pub 
lications of the further progress of the " mystery," 
from week to week, for a space of nearly two months, 
until the whole country seemed to have gone ghost- 
mad. Apparitions and goblins dire were seen in Wash 
ington, Rochester, Albany, Montreal, and other cities. 

The spiritualists took it up and began to discuss u the 
Carter Ghost " with the utmost zeal. One startling in 
dividual a physician and a philosopher emerged 
from his professional shell into full-fledged glory, as the 
greatest canard of all, and published revelations of his 
own intermediate intercourse with the terrific u Car 
ter." In every nook and corner of the land, tremen 
dous posters, in white and yellow, broke out upon the 
walls and windows of news-depots, with capitals a foot 
long, and exclamation-points like drumsticks, announc 
ing fresh installments of the " Ghost " story, and it was 
a regular fight between go-ahead vendors who should 
get the next batch of horrors in advance of his rivals. 

Nor was the effect abroad the least feature of this 
stupendous u sell." The English, French, and Ger 
man press translated some of the articles in epitome, 
and wrote grave commentaries thereon. The stage 
soon caught the blaze ; and Professor Pepper, at the 
Royal Polytechnic Institute, in London, invented a 
most ingenious device for producing ghosts which 
should walk about upon the stage in such a perfectly- 
astounding manner as to throw poor Hamlet s father 
and the evil genius of Brutus quite into the u shade." 
" Pepper s Ghost " soon crossed the Atlantic, and all 
our theatres were speedily alive with nocturnal appari- 

HOAXES. 257 

tions. The only real ghosts, however four in num 
ber came out at the Museum, in an appropriate dra 
ma, which had an immense run " all for twenty-five 
cents," or only six and a quarter cents per ghost ! * 

But I must not forget to say that, really, the details 
given in the " Sunday Mercury " were well calculated to 
lead captive a large class of minds prone to luxuriate 
in the marvelous when well mixed with plausible rea 
soning. The most circumstantial accounts were given 
of sundry " gifted young ladies," 4i grave and learned 
professors," " reliable gentlemen " where are those 
not found? " lonely watchers," and others, who had 
sought interviews with the " ghost," to their own great 
enlightenment, indeed, but, likewise, complete discomfit 
ure. Pistols were fired at him, pianos played and songs 
sung for him, and, finally, his daguerreotype taken on 
prepared metallic plates set upright in the haunted room. 
One shrewd artist brought out an " exact photographic 
likeness " of the distinguished stranger on cartes de 
visite, and made immense sales. The apparitions, too ? 
multiplied. An old man, a woman, and a child made 
their appearance in the house of wonders, and, at last, 
a gory head with distended eyeballs, swimming in a sea 
of blood, upon a platter like that of Holofernes 
capped the climax. 

Certain wiseacres here began to see political allusions 
in the Ghost, and many actually took the whole affair 
to be a cunningly devised political satire upon this or 
that party, according as their sympathies swayed them. 

It would have been a remarkable portion of * this 
strange, eventful history," of course, if " Barnum " 


could have escaped the accusation of being its progeni 

I was continually beset, and frequently, when more 
than usually busy, thoroughly annoyed by the innuen 
does of my visitors, that I was the father of " the 

" Come, now, Mr. Barnum this is going a little 
too far ! " some ood o ld dame or grandfather would 

5 C> 

say to me. " You oughtn t to scare people in this way. 
These ghosts are ugly customers ! " 

" My dear Sir," or " Madam," I would say, as the 
case might be, " I do assure you I know nothing what 
ever about the Ghost" and as for u spirits," you 
know I never touch them, and have been preaching 
against them nearly all my life." 

" Well ! well ! you will ,have the last turn," they d 
retort, as they edged away ; " but you needn t tell us. 
We guess we ve found the ghost." 

Now, all I can add about this strange hallucination 
is, that those who came to me to see the original " Car 
ter," really saw the " Elephant." 

The wonderful apparition disappeared, at length, as 
suddenly as he had come. The " Bull s-Eye Brigade," 
as the squad of police put on duty to watch the neigh 
borhood, for various reasons, was termed, hung to their 
work, and flashed the light of their lanterns into the 
faces of lonely couples, for some time afterward ; but 
quiet, at length, settled down over all : and it has been 
it seems, reserved for my pen to record briefly the his 
tory of " The Twenty-seventh street Ghost." 

HOAXES. 259 


The most stupendous scientific imposition upon the 
public that the generation with which we are numbered 
lias known, was the so-called " Moon-Hoax," published 
in the columns of the " New York Sun," in the months 
of August and September, 1835. The sensation created 
by this immense imposture, not only throughout the 
United States, but in every part of the civilized world, 
and the consummate ability with which it was written, 
will render it interesting so long as our language shall 
endure ; and, indeed, astronomical science has actually 
been indebted to it for many most valuable hints a 
circumstance that gives the production a still higher 
claim to immortality. 

At the period when the wonderful " yarn " to which 
I allude first appeared, the science of astronomy was en 
gaging particular attention, and all works on the sub 
ject were eagerly bought up and studied by immense 
masses of people. The real discoveries of the younger 
Herschel, whose fame seemed destined to eclipse that 
of the elder sage of the same name, and the eloquent 
startling works of Dr. Dick, which the Harpers were 
republishing, in popular form, from the English edition, 
did much to increase and keep up this peculiar mania 
of the time, until the whole community at last were 
literally occupied with but little else than u star-gazing." 


Dick s works on " The Sidereal Heavens," u Celestial 
Scenery," " The improvement of Society," etc., were 
read with the utmost avidity by rich and poor, old and 
young, in season and out of season. They were quoted 
in the. parlor, at the table, on the promenade, at church, 
and even in the bedroom, until it absolutely seemed as 
though the whole community had " Dick " upon the 
brain. To the highly educated and imaginative por 
tion of our good Gothamite population, the Doctor s 
glowing periods, full of the grandest speculations as to 
the starry worlds around us, their wondrous magnifi 
cence and ever-varying aspects of beauty and happiness 
were inexpressibly fascinating. The author s well- 
reasoned conjectures as to the majesty and beauty of 
their landscapes, the fertility and diversity of their soil, 
and the exalted intelligence and comeliness of their in 
habitants, found hosts of believers ; and nothing elsfc 
formed the staple of conversation, until the beaux and 
belles, and dealers in small talk generally, began to 
grumble, and openly express their wishes that the 
Dickens had Doctor Dick and all his works. 

It was at the very height of the furor above mention 
ed, that one morning the readers of the " Sun " at that 
time only twenty-five hundred in number were thrill 
ed with the announcement in its columns of certain 
u Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir 
John Herschel, LL. D., F. R. S. etc., at the Cape of 
Good Hope," purporting to be a republication from 
a Supplement to the Edinburgh Journal of Science. 
The heading of the article was striking enough, yet was 
far from conveying any adequate idea of its contents. 

HOAXES. 261 

When the latter became known, the excitement went 
beyond all bounds, and grew until the " Sun " office was 
positively besieged with crowds of people of the very 
first class, vehemently applying for copies of the issue 
containing the wonderful details. 

As the pamphlet form in which the narrative was 
subsequently published is now out of print, and a copy 
can hardly be had in the country, I will recall a few 
passages from a rare edition, for the gratification of my 
friends who have never seen the original. Indeed, the 
whole story is altogether too good to be lost ; and it is 
a great pity that we can not have a handsome reprint 
of it given to the world from time to time. It is con 
stantly in demand ; and, during the year 1859, a single 
copy of sixty pages, sold at the auction of Mr. Haswell s 
library, brought the sum of $3,75. In that same year, 
a correspondent, in Wisconsin, writing to the " Sunday 
Times" of this city, inquired where the book could be 
procured, and was answered that he could find it at the 
old bookstore, No. 85 Centre Street, if anywhere. 
Thus, after a search of many weeks, the Western bib 
liopole succeeded in obtaining a well-thumbed specimen 
of the precious work. Acting upon this chance sugges 
tion, Mr. William Gowans, of this city, during the 
same year, brought out a very neat edition, in paper 
covers, illustrated with a view of the moon, as seen 
through Lord Rosse s grand telescope, in 1856. But 
this, too, has all been sold ; and the most indefatigable 
book-collector might find it difficult to purchase a sin 
gle copy at the present time. I, therefore, render the 
inquiring reader no slight service in culling for him 


some of the flowers from this curious astronomical gar 

The opening of the narrative was in the highest 
Review style ; and the majestic, yet subdued, dignity 
of its periods, at once claimed respectful attention ; 
while its perfect candor, and its wealth of accurate sci 
entific detail exacted the homage of belief from all but 
cross-grained and inexorable skeptics. 

It commences thus : 

"In this unusual addition to our Journal, we have the 
happiness to make known to the British public, and 
thence to the whole civilized world, recent discoveries in 
Astronomy, which will build an imperishable monument 
to the age in which we live, and confer upon the present 
generation of the human race a proud distinction through 
all future time. It has been poetically said, that the stars 
of heaven are the hereditary regalia of man, as the intel 
lectual sovereign of the animal creation. Pie may now 
fold the Zodiac around him with a loftier consciousness 
of his mental superiority," etc., etc. 

The writer then eloquently descanted upon the sublime 
achievement by which man pierced the bounds that 
hemmed him in, and with sensations of awe approached 
the revelations of his own genius in the far-off heavens, 
and with intense dramatic effect described the younger 
Herschel surpassing all that his father had ever attain 
ed ; and by some stupendous apparatus about to unvail 
the remotest mysteries of the sidereal space, pausing for 
many hours ere the excess of his emotions would allow 
him to lift the vail from his own overwhelming success. 

I must quote a line or two of this passage, for it 
capped the climax of public curiosity : 

HOAXES. 263 


" Well might he pause ! He was about to become the 
sole depository of wondrous secrets which had been hid 
from the eyes of all men that had lived since the birth of 
time. He was about to crown himself with a diadem of 
knowledge which would give him a conscious pre 
eminence above every individual of his species who then 
lived or who had lived in the generations that are passed 
away. He paused ere he broke the seal of the casket that 
contained it." 

Was not this introduction enough to stimulate the 
wonder bump of all the star-gazers, until 

" Each particular hair did stand on end, 
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine ? 

At all events, such was the effect, and it was impos 
sible at first to supply the frantic demand, even of the 
city, not to mention the country readers. 

I may very briefly sum up the outline of the discov 
eries alleged to have been made, in a few paragraphs, 
so as not to protract the suspense of my readers too 

It was claimed that the " Edinburgh -Journal " was in 
debted for its information to Doctor Andrew Grant 
a savant of celebrity, who had, for very many years, 
been the scientific companion, first of the elder and sub 
sequently of the younger Herschel, and had gone with 
the latter in September, 1834, to the Cape of Good 
Hope, whither he had been sent by the British Govern 
ment, acting in conjunction with the Governments of 
France and Austria, to observe the transit of Mercury 
over the disc of the sun an astronomical point of 
great importance to the lunar observations of longitude, 


and consequently to the navigation of the world. This 
transit was not calculated to occur before the 7th of No 
vember, 1835 (the year in which the hoax was print 
ed ;) but Sir John Herschel set out nearly a year in 
advance, for the purpose of thoroughly testing a new 
and stupendous telescope devise^ by himself under this 
peculiar inspiration, and infinitely surpassing anything 
of the kind ever before attempted by mortal man. 
It has been discovered by previous astronomers and 
among others, by Herschel s illustrious father, that the 
sidereal object becomes dim in proportion as it is magni 
fied, and that, beyond a certain limit, the magnifying 
power is consequently rendered almost useless. Thus, 
an impassable barrier seemed to lie in the way of future 
close observation, unless some means could be devised 
to illuminate the object to the eye. By intense research 
and the application of all recent improvements in optics, 
Sir John had succeeded in securing a beautiful and per 
fectly lighted image of the moon with a magnifying 
power that increased its apparent size in the heavens 
six thousand times. Dividing the distance of the moon 
from the earth, viz. : 240,000 miles, by six thousand, we 
we have forty miles as the distance at which she would 
then seem to be seen ; and as the elder Herschel, with 
a magnifying power, only one thousand, had calculated 
that he could distinguish an object on the moon s surface 
not more than 122 yards in diameter, it was clear that 
his son, with six times the power, could see an object 
there only twenty-two yards in diameter. But, for 
any further advance in power and light, the way seem 
ed insuperably closed until a profound conversation 

HOAXES. 265 

with the great savant and optician, Sir David Brewster y - 
led Herschel to suggest to the latter the idea of the re- 
adoption of the old fashioned telescopes, without tubes, 
which threw their images upon reflectors in a dark 
apartment, and then the illumination of these images 
by the intense hydro-oxygen light used in the ordinary 
illuminated microscope. At this suggestion, Brewster 
is represented by the veracious chronicler as leaping with 
enthusiasm from his chair, exclaiming in rapture to 
Herschel : 

" Thou art the man ! " 

" The suggestion, thus happily approved, was immedi 
ately acted upon, and a subscription, headed by that 
liberal patron of science, the Duke of Sussex, with 
.10,000, was backed by the reigning King of England 
with his royal word for any sum that might be needed to 
make up 70, 000, the amount required. No time was 
lost ; and, after one or two failures, in January 1833, the 
house of Hartley & Grant, at Dumbarton, succeeded in 
casting the huge object-glass of the new apparatus, 
measuring twenty-four feet (or six times that of the 
elder Herschel s glass) in diameter ; weighing 14,826 
pounds, or nearly seven tons, after being polished, and 
possessing a magnifying power of 42,000 times ! a per 
fectly pure, spotless, achromatic lens, without a material 
bubble or flaw ! 

Of course, after so elaborate a description of so as 
tounding a result as this, the " Edinburg Scientific Jour 
nal " (i. e., the writer in the " New York Sun ") could 
not avoid being equally precise in reference to subse 
quent details, and he proceeded to explain that Sir John 


Herschel and his amazing apparatus having been select 
ed by the Board of Longitude to observe the transit of 
Mercury, the Cape of Good Hope was chosen be 
cause, upon the former expedition to Peru, acting in 
conjunction with one to Lapland, which was sent out for 
the same purpose in the eighteenth century, it had been 
noticed that the attraction of the mountainous regions 
deflected the plumb-line of the large instruments seven 
or eight seconds from the perpendicular, and, conse 
quently, greatly impaired the enterprise. At the Cape, 
on the contrary, there was a magnificent table-land of 
vast expanse, where this difficulty could not occur. 
Accordingly, on the 4th of September, 1834, with a de 
sign to become perfectly familiar with the working of 
his new gigantic apparatus, and with the Southern Con 
stellations, before the period of his observations of Mer 
cury, Sir John Herschel sailed from London, accompa 
nied by Doctor Grant (the supposed informant,) Lieu 
tenant Drummond, of the Royal Engineers, F. R. A. S., 
and a large party of the best English workmen. On 
their arrival at the Cape, the apparatus was conveyed, 
in four days time, to the great elevated plain, thirty- 
five miles to the N. E. of Cape Town, on trains drawn 
by two relief-teams of oxen, eighteen to a team, the 
ascent aided by gangs of Dutch boors. For the details 
of the huge fabric in which the lens and its reflectors 
were set up, I must refer the curious reader to the 
pamphlet itself not that the presence of the " Dutch 
boors" alarms me at all, since we have plenty of boors 
at home, and one gets used to them in the course of 
time, but because the elaborate scientific description of 

HOAXES. 267 

the structure would make most readers see " stars " in 
broad daylight before they get through. 

I shall only go on to say that, by the 10th of Janu 
ary, everything was complete, even to the two pillars 
u one hundred and fifty feet high ! " that sustained the 
lens. Operations then commenced forthwith, and so, 
too, did the " special wonder " of the readers. It is a 
matter of congratulation to mankind that the writer of 
the hoax, with an apology (Heaven save the mark !) 
spared us Herschel s notes of " the Moon s tropical, side 
real, and synodic revolutions," and the " phenomena of 
the syzygies," and proceeded at once to the pith of the 
subject. Here came in his grand stroke, informing 
the world of complete success in obtaining a distinct 
view of objects in the moon " fully equal to that which 
the unaided eye commands of terrestrial objects at the 
distance of a hundred yards, affirmatively settling the 
question whether the satellite be inhabited, and by what 
order of beings," " firmly establishing a new theory of 
cometary phenomena," etc., etc. This announcement 
alone was enough to take one s breath away, but when 
the green marble shores of the Mare Nubiurn ; the 
mountains shaped like pyramids, and of the purest and 
most dazzling crystalized, wine-colored amethyst, dot 
ting green valleys skirted by " round- breasted hills; " 
summits of the purest vermilion fringed with arching 
cascades and buttresses of white marble glistening in 
the sun when these began to be revealed, the delight 
of our Luna-tics knew no bounds and the whole 
town went moon-mad ! But even these immense pic 
tures were surpassed by the " lunatic " animals discov- 


ered. First came the " herds of brown quadrupeds " 
very like a no ! not a whale, but a bison, and u with 
a tail resembling that of the bos grunniens " the 
reader probably understands what kind of a " bos " 
that is, if he s apprenticed to a theatre in midsummer 
with musicians on a strike ; then a creature, which the 
hoax-man naively declared " would be classed on earth 
as a monster " I rather think it would ! " of a 
bluish lead color, about the size of a goat, with a head 
and a beard like him, and a single horn, slightly inclined 
forward from the perpendicular " it is clear that if 
this goat was cut down to a single horn, other people 
were not ! I could not but fully appreciate the exqui 
site distinction accorded by the writer to the female 
of this lunar animal for she, while deprived of horn 
and beard, he explicitly tells us, " had a much larger 
tail ! " When the astronomers put their fingers on the 
beard of this " beautiful " little creature (on the reflect 
or, mind you !) it would skip away in high dudgeon, 
which, considering that 240,000 miles intervened, was 
something to show its delicacy of feeling. 

Next in the procession of discovery, among other ani 
mals of less note, was presented " a quadruped with an 
amazingly long neck, head like a sheep, bearing two 
long spiral horns, white as polished ivory, and standing 
in perpendiculars parallel to each other. Its body was 
like that of a deer, but its forelegs were most dispropor 
tionately long, and its tail, which was very bushy and 
of a snowy whiteness, curled high over its rump and 
hung two or three feet by its side. Its colors were bright 
bay and white, brindled in patches, but of no regular 

HOAXES. 269 

form." This is probably the animal known to us on 
earth, and particularly along the Mississippi River, as the 
" guyascutus," to which I may particularly refer in a 
future article. 

But all these beings faded into insignificance compar 
ed with the first sight of the genuine Lunatics, or men in 
the moon, " four feet high, covered, except in the face, 
with short, glossy, copper-colored hair," and " with 
wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, ly 
ing snugly upon their backs from the top of their shoul 
ders to the calves of their legs," with faces of a yellow 
ish flesh-color a slight improvement on the large 
ourang-outang." Complimentary for the Lunatics ! 
But, says the chronicler, Lieutenant Drummond declar 
ed that " but for their long wings, they would look as 
well on a parade-ground as some of the cockney mili 
tia ! " A little rough, my friend the reader will ex 
claim, for the aforesaid militia. 

Of course, it is impossible, in a sketch like the pres 
ent, to do more than give a glimpse of this rare combi 
nation of astronomical realities and the vagaries of mere 


fancy, and I must omit the Golden-fringed Mountains, 
the Vale of the Triads, with their splendid triangular 
temples, etc., but I positively cannot pass by the glow 
ing mention of the inhabitants of this wonderful valley 
a superior race of Lunatics, as beautiful and as hap 
py as angels, " spread like eagles " on the grass, eating 
yellow gourds and red cucumbers, and played with by 
snow-white stags, with jet-black horns ! The descrip 
tion here is positively delightful, and I even now remem 
ber my poignant sigh of regret when, at the conclusion, I 


read that these innocent and happy beings, although 
evidently " creatures of order and subordination," and 
" very polite," were seen indulging in amusements which 
would not be deemed " within the bounds of strict pro 
priety " on this degenerate ball. The story wound up 
rather abruptly by referring the reader to an extended 
work on the subject by Herschel, which has not yet ap 

One can laugh very heartily, now, at all .this ; but 
nearly everybody, the gravest and the wisest, too, was 
completely taken in at the time : and the " Sun," then 
established at the corner of Spruce street, where the 
" Tribune " office now stands, reaped an increase of 
more than fifty thousand to its circulation in fact, there 
gained the foundation of its subsequent prolonged success. 
Its proprietors sold no less than $25,000 worth of the 
" Moon Hoax " over the counter, even exhausting an edi 
tion of sixty thousand in pamphlet form. And who was 
the author ? A literary gentleman, who has devoted very 
many years of his life to mathematical and astronomi 
cal studies, and was at the time connected as an editor 
with the " Sun " one whose name has since been wide 
ly known in literature and politics Richard Adams 
Locke, Esq., then in his youth, and now in the decline 
of years. Mr. Locke, who still survives, is a native of 
the British Isles, and, at the time of his first connection 
with the Ne\v York press, was the only short-hand re 
porter in this city, where he laid tho basis of a compe 
tency he now enjoys. Mr. Locke declares that his ori 
ginal object in writing the Moon story was to satirize 
some of the extravagances of Doctor Dick, and to make 

HOAXES. 271 

some astronomical suggestions which he felt diffident 
about offering seriously. 

Whatever may have been his object, his hit was un 
rivaled ; and for months the press of Christendom, but 
far more in Europe than here, teemed with it, until Sir 
John Herschel was actually compelled to come out with 
a denial over his own signature. In the meantime, it 
was printed and published in many languages, with su 
perb illustrations. Mr. Endicott, the celebrated litho 
grapher, some years ago had in his possession a splen 
did series of engravings, of extra folio size, got up 
in Italy, in the highest style of art, and illustrating the 
" Moon Hoax." 

Here, in New York, the public were, for a long time, 
divided on the subject, the vast majority believing, and 
a few grumpy customers rejecting the story. One day, 
Mr. Locke was introduced by a mutual friend at the 
door of the " Sun " office to a very grave old orthodox 
Quaker, who, in the calmest manner, went on to tell him 
all about the embarkation of Herschel s apparatus at 
London, where he had seen it with his own eyes. Of 
course, Locke s optics expanded somewhat while he lis 
tened to this remarkable statement, but he wisely kept 
his own counsel. 

The discussions of the press were very rich ; the 
" Sun," of course, defending the affair as genuine, and 
others doubting it. The " Mercantile Advertiser," 
The "Albany Daily Advertiser," "the New York 
Commercial Advertiser," the " New York Times," the 
" New Yorker," the " New York Spirit of 76," the 
"Sunday News," the "United States Gazette," the 


" Philadelphia Inquirer," and hosts of other papers 
came out with the most solemn acceptance and admir 
ation of these " wonderful discoveries," and were 
eclipsed in their approval only by the scientific journals 
abroad. The " Evening Post," however, was decidedly 
skeptical, and took up the matter in this irreverent way : 

"It is quite proper that the " Sun" should be the means 
of shedding so much light on the Moon. That there 
should be winged people in the moon does not strike us 
as more wonderful than the existence of such a race of 
beings on the earth ; and that there does still exist such 
a race, rests on the evidence of that most veracious of 
voyagers and circumstantial of chroniclers, Peter Wilkins, 
whose celebrated work not only gives an account of the 
general appearance and habits of a most interesting tribe 
of flying Indians; but, also, of all those more delicate and 
engaging traits which the author was enabled to discover 
by reason of the conjugal relations he entered into with 
one of the females of the winged tribe." 

The moon-hoax had its day, and some of its glory 
still survives. Mr. Locke, its author, is now quietly 
residing in the beautiful little home of a friend on the 
Clove Road, Staten Island, and no doubt, as he gazes 
up at the evening luminary, often fancies that he sees 
a broad grin on the countenance of its only well- 
authenticated tenant, u the hoary solitary whom the 
criminal code of the nursery has banished thither for 
collecting fuel on the Sabbath-day." 

HOAXES. 273 





Some persons say that " all is fair in politics." With 
out agreeing with this doctrine, I nevertheless feel that 
the history of Ancient and Modern Humbugs would 
not be complete without a record of the last and one of 
the most successful of known literary hoaxes. This 
is the pamphlet entitled " Miscegenation," which advo 
cates the blending of the white and black races upon 
this continent, as a result not only inevitable from the 
freeing of the negro, but desirable as a means of cre 
ating a more perfect race of men than any now exist 
ing. This pamphlet is a clever political quiz; and was 
written by three young gentlemen of the " World " 
newspaper, namely. D. G. Croly, George Wakeman, 
and E. C. Howell. 

The design of "Miscegenation" was exceedingly 
ambitious, and the machinery employed was probably 
among the most ingenious and audacious ever put into 
operation to procure the indorsement of absurd theories, 
and give the subject the widest notoriety. The object 
was to so make use of the prevailing ideas of the ex 
tremists of the Anti-Slavery party, as to induce them 


to accept doctrines which would be obnoxious to the 
great mass of the community, and which would, of 
course, be used in the political canvass which was to en 
sue. It was equally important that the " Democrats " 
should be made to believe that the pamphlet in question 
emanated from a " Republican " source. The idea was 
suggested by a discourse delivered by Mr. Theodore 
Tilton, at the Cooper Institute, before the American 
Anti-Slavery Society, in May 1863, on the negro, in 
which that distinguished orator argued, that in some 
future time the blood of the negro would form one of 
the mingled bloods of the great regenerated American 
nation. The scheme once conceived, it began immedi 
ately to be put into execution. The first stumbling- 
block was the name " amalgamation," by which this 
fraternizino 1 of the races had been always known. It 


was evident that a book advocating amalgamation would 
fall still-born, and hence some new and novel word had 
to be discovered, with the same meaning, but not so ob 
jectionable. Such a word was coined by the combina 
tion of the Latin miscere, to mix, and genus, race : 
from these, miscegenation a mingling of the races. 
The word is as euphonious as " amalgamation," and 
much more correct in meaning. It has passed into the 
language, and no future dictionary will be complete 
without it. Next, it was necessary to give the book an 
erudite appearance, and arguments from ethnology 
must form no unimportant part of this matter. Neither 
of the authors being versed in this science, they were 
compelled to depend entirely on enclyclopedias and 
books of reference. This obstacle to a New York edit- 

HOAXES. 275 

or or reporter was not so great as it might seem. The 
public are often favored in our journals with disserta 
tions upon various abstruse matters by men who are en 
tirely ignorant of what they are writing about. It was 
said of Cuvier that he could restore the skeleton of an 
extinct animal if he were only given one of its teeth, 
and so a competent editor or reporter of a city journal 
can get up an article of any length on any given sub 
ject, if he is only furnished one word or name to start 
with. There was but one writer on ethnology distinct 
ly known to the authors, which was Prichard ; but 
that being secured, all the rest came easily enough. 
The authors went to the Astor Library and secured a 
volume, of Prichard s works, the perusal of which of 
course gave them the names of many other authorities, 
which were also consulted ; and thus a very respecta 
ble array of scientific arguments in favor of Miscegena 
tion were soon compiled. The sentimental and argu 
mentative portions were quickly suggested from the 
knowledge of the authors of current politics, of the va 
garies of some of the more visionary reformers, and 
from their own native wit. 

The book was at first written in a most cursory man 
ner the chapters got up without any order or reference to 
each other, and afterward arranged. As the impression 
sought to be conveyed was a serious one, it would clear 
ly not do to commence with the extravagant and absurd 
theories to which it was intended that the reader should 
gradually be led. The scientific portion of the work 
was therefore given first, and was made as grave and 
terse and unobjectionable as possible ; and merely urged, 


by arguments drawn from science and history, that the 
blending of the different races of men resulted in a bet 
ter progeny. As the work progressed, they continued 
to " pile on the agony," until, at the close, the very fact 
that the statue of the Goddess of Liberty on the Capitol, 
is of a bronze tint, is looked upon as an omen of the 
color of the future American ! 

" When the traveler approaches the City of Magnficent 
Distances," it says, " the seat of what is destined to be 
the greatest and most beneficent power on earth, the first 
object that will strike his eye will be the figure of Liberty 
surmounting the Capitol; not white, symbolizing but one 
race, nor black, typifying another, but a statue represent 
ing the composite race, whose sway will extend from 
the Atlantic to the. Pacific Ocean, from the Equator to the 
North Pole the Miscegens of the Future." 

The Book once written, plans \vere laid to obtain the 
indorsement of the people who were to be humbugged. 
It Was not only necessary to humbug the members of 
the Reform and Progressive party, but to present as 
I have before said such serious arguments that Demo 
crats should be led to believe it as a bonafide revelation 
of the u infernal" designs of their antagonists. In 
both respects there was complete success. Although, 
of course, the mass of the Republican leaders entirely 
ignored the book, yet a considerable number of Anti- 
Slavery men, with more transcendental ideas, were 
decidedly " sold." The machinery employed was ex 
ceedingly ingenious. Before the book was published, 
proof-copies were furnished to every prominent aboli 
tionist in the country, and also to prominent spiritual 

HOAXES. 277 

mediums, to ladies known to wear Bloomers, and to all 
that portion of our population who are supposed to be 
a little u soft " on the subject of reform. A circular 
was nKo enclosed, requesting them, before the publica 
tion of the book, to give the author the benefit of their 
opinions as to the value of the arguments presented, and 
the desirability of the immediate publication of the 
work ; to be inclosed to the American News Company, 
121 Nassau street, New York the agents for the pub 
lishers. The bait took. Letters came pouring in from 
all sides, and among the names of prominent persons 
who gave their indorsements were Albert Brisbane, 
Parker Pillsbury, Lucretia Mott, Sarah M. Grimke, 
Angelina G. Weld, Dr. J. McCune Smith, Win. Wells 
Brown. Mr. Pillsbury was quite excited over the book, 
saving ; -Your work has cheered and gladdened a winter- 
morning, which I began in cloud and sorrow. You are 
on the right track. Pursue it, and the good God speed 
you." Mr. Theodore Tilton, upon receiving the pamph 
let, wrote a note promising to read it, and to write the 
author a long and candid letter as soon as he had time ; 
and saying, that the subject was one to which he had giv 
en much thought. The promised letter, I believe, how 
ever, was never received ; probably because, on a careful 
perusal of the book, Mr. Tilton " smelt a rat." He 
might also have been influenced by an ironical para 
graph relating to himself, and arguing that, as he was 
a " pure specimen of the blonde," and " when a young 
man was noted for his angelic type of feature," his 
sympathy for the colored race was accounted for by the 
natural love of opposites. Says the author with much 
gravity : 


" The sympathy Mr. Greeley, Mr. Phillips anrl Mr. Tilton 
feel for the negro is the love which the blonde bears for 
the black; it is the love of race, a sympathy stronger to 
them than the love they bear to woman. It is founded 
upon natural law. We love our opposites. It is the na 
ture of things that we should do so, and where Nature 
has free course, men like those we have indicated, wheth 
er Anti-Slavery or Pro-Slavery, Conservative or Radical, 
Democrat or Republican, will marry and be given in mar 
riage to the most perfect specimens of the colored race." 

So far, tilings worked favorably ; and, having thus 
bagged a goodly number of prominent reformers, the 
next effort was to get the ear of the public. Here, new 
machinery was brought into play. A statement was 
published in the " Philadelphia Inquirer " (a paper 
which, ever since the war commenced, has been noto 
rious for its " sensation " news,) that a charming and 
accomplished young mulatto girl was about to publish 
a book on the subject of the blending of the races, in 
which she took the affirmative view. Of course, so 
piquant a paragraph was immediately copied by almost 
every paper in the country. Various other stories, 
equally ingenious and equally groundless, were set 
afloat, and public expectation was riveted on the forth 
coming work. 

Some time in February last, the book was published. 
Copies, of course, were sent to all the leading journals. 
The 4 i Anglo-African," the organ of the colored popula 
tion of New York, warmly, and at great length, in 
dorsed the doctrine. The " Anti-Slavery Standard," 
edited by Mr. Oliver Johnson, gave over a column of 
serious argument and endorsement to the work. Mr. 


Tilton, of the " Independent," was not to be caught 

HOAXES. 279 

napping. In that journal, under date of February 25, 
1864, he devoted a two-column leader to the subject of 
Miscegenation and the little pamphlet in question. Mr. 
Til ton was the first to announce a belief that the book 
was a hoax. I quote from his article : 

" Remaining a while on our table unread, our atten 
tion was specially called to it by noticing how savage 
ly certain newspapers were abusing it." 


"The authorship of the pamphlet is a well-kept secret; 
at least it is unknown to us. Nor, after a somewhat care 
ful reading, are we convinced that the writer is in earn 
est. Our first impression was, and remains, that the work 
was meant as a piece of pleasantry a burlesque upon 
what are popularly called the extreme and fanatical no 
tions of certain radical men named therein. Certainly, 
the essay is not such a one as any of these gentlemen 
would have written on the subject, though some of their 
speeches are conspicuously quoted and commended in it." 

" If written in earnest, the work is not thorough enough 
to be satisfactory ; if in jest, we prefer Sydney Smith or 
McClellan s Report. Still, to be frank, we agree with a 
large portion of these pages, but disagree heartily with 
another portion." 


"The idea of scientifically undertaking to intermingle 
existing populations according to a predetermined plan 
for reconstructing the human race for flattening out its 
present varieties into one final unvarious dead-level of 
humanity is so absurd, that we are more than ever 
convinced such a statement was not written in earnest! " 

Mr. Tilton, however, hints that the colored race 
is finally in some degree to form a component .part of 


the future American ; and that, in time, " the negro 
of the South, growing paler with every generation, will 
at last completely hide his face under the snow." 

One of the editorial writers for the " Tribune " was 
so impressed with the book that he wrote an article on 
the subject, arguing about it with apparent seriousness, 
and in a manner with some readers supposed to be rath 
er favorable than otherwise to the doctrine. Mr. Gree- 
ley and the publishers, it is understood, were displeased 
at the publication of the article. The next morning 
nearly all the city journals had editorial articles upon 
the subject. 

The next point was, to get the miscegenation contro 
versy into Congress. The book, with its indorsements, 
was brought to the notice of Mr. Cox, of Ohio (com 
monly called " Sunset Cox ; ") and he made an earn 
est speech on the subject. Mr. Washburne replied 
wittily, reading and commenting on extracts from a 

. 7 C> O 

work by Cox, in which the latter deplored the existence 
of the prejudice against the Africans. A few days 
after, Mr. Kelly, of Perisylvania, replied very elaborate 
ly to Mr. Cox, bringing all his learning and historical 
research to bear on the topic. It was the subject of a 
deal of talk in Washington afterward. Mr. Cox was 


charged by some of the more shrewd members of Con 
gress with writino- it. It was said that Mr. Sumner, 

o o 

on reading it, immediately pronounced it a hoax. 

Through the influence of the authors, a person visit 
ed James Gordon Bennett, of the u Herald," and spoke 
to him about " Miscegenation." Mr. Bennett thought 
the idea too monstrous and absurd to waste an article 

HOAXES. 281 

" But," said the gentleman, " the Democratic papers 
are all noticing it." 

u The Democratic editors are asses," said Bennett. 

" Senator Cox has just made a speech in Congress on 

" Cox is an ass," responded Bennett. 

" Greeley had an article about it the other day." 

" Well, Greeley s a donkey." 

" The 4 Independent yesterday had a leader of a 
column and a half about it." 

" Well, Beecherisno better," said Bennett. " They re 
all asses. But what did he say about it ? " 

" Oh, he rather indorsed it." 

"Well, I ll read the article," said Bennett. " And 
perhaps I ll have an article written ridiculing Beecher. 

" It will make a very good handle against the radi 
cals," said the other. 

" Oh, I don t know," said Bennett, " Let them 
marry together, if they want to, with all my heart." 

For some days, the " Herald " said nothing about it, 
but the occasion of the departure of a colored regiment 
from New York City having called forth a flattering 
address to them from the ladies of the " Loyal League," 
the " Herald," saw a chance to make a point against 
Mr. Charles King and others ; and the next day it con 
tained a terrific article, introducing miscegenation in 
the most violent and offensive manner, and saying that 
the ladies of the " Loyal League " had offered to marry 
the colored soldiers on their return I After that, the 
", Herald " kept up a regular fusilade against the sup 
posed miscegenic proclivities of the Republicans. And 


thus, after all, Bennett swallowed the " critter " horns, 
hoofs, tail, and all. 

The authors even had the impudence to attempt to 
entrap Mr. Lincoln into an indorsement of the work, 
and asked permission to dedicate a new work, on a kin 
dred subject, " Melaleukation," to him. Honest Old 
Abe however, who can see a joke, was not to be taken 
in so easily. 

About the time the book was first published, Miss 
Anne E. Dickinson happened to lecture in New York. 
The authors here exhibited a great degree of acuteness 
and tact, as well as sublime impudence, in seizing the 
opportunity to have some small hand bills, with the en 
dorsement of the book, printed and distributed by boys 
among the audience. Before Miss Dickinson appeared, 
therefore, the audience were gravely reading the mis 
cegenation handbill ; and the reporters, noticing it, 
coupled the facts in their reports. From this, it went 
forth, and was widely circulated, that Miss Dickinson 
was the author ! 

Dr. Mackay, the correspondent of the " London 
Times," in New York, was very decidedly sold, and 
hurled all manner of big words against the doctrine in 
his letters to " The Thunderer ; " and thus " the lead 
ing paper of Europe " was, for the hundredth time dur 
ing the American Rebellion, decidedly taken in and 
done for. 

The " Saturday Review " perhaps the cleverest 
and certainly the sauciest of the English hebdomadals 
also berated the book and its authors in the most 

HOAXES. 283 

pompous language at its command. Indeed, the " West 
minster Review " seriously refers to the arguments of 
the book in connection with Dr. Broca s pamphlet on 
Human Hybridity, a most profound work. " Miscege 
nation " was republished in England by Triibner & 
Co. ; and very extensive translations from it are still 
passing the rounds of the French and German papers. 

Thus passes into history one of the most impudent 
as well as ingenious literary hoaxes of the present day. 
There is probably not a newspaper in the country but 
has printed much about it ; and enough of extracts 
might be collected from various journals upon the sub 
ject to fill my whale-tank. 

It is needless to say that the book passed through 
several editions. Of course, the mass of the intelligent 
American people rejected the doctrines of the work, 
and looked upon it either as a political dodge, or as the 
ravings of some crazy man ; but the authors have the 
satisfaction of knowing that it achieved a notoriety 
which has hardly been equalled by any mere pamphlet 
ever published in this country. 






A great many persons believe more or less in haunt 
ed houses. In almost every community there is some 
building that has had a mysterious history. This is 
true in all countries, and among all races and nations. 
Indeed it is to this very fact that the ingenious author 
of the " Twenty-seventh-street Ghost " may attribute 
his success in creating such an excitement. In fact, I 
wjll say, " under the rose," he predicted his hopes of 
success entirely upon this weakness in human nature. 
Even in " this day and age of the world " there are 
hundreds of deserted buildings which are looked upon 
with awe, or terror, or superstitious interest. They 
have frightened their former inhabitants away, and left 
the buildings in the almost undisputed possession of real 
moles, bats, and owls, and imaginary goblins and 

In the course of my travels in both hemispheres I 
have been amazed at the great number of such cases 
that have come under my personal observation. 

But for the present, I will give a brief account of a 


haunted house in Yorkshire, England, in which some 
twenty years ago, Kirby, the actor, who formerly play 
ed at the Chatham Theatre, passed a pretty strange 
night. I met Mr. Kirby in London in 1844, and I will 
give, in nearly his own language, a history of his lone 
night in this haunted house, as he gave it to me within a 
week after its occurrence. I will add, that I saw no 
reason to doubt Mr. Kirby s veracity, and he assured 
me upon his honor that the statement was literally true 
to the letter. Having myself been through several 
similar places in the daytime, I felt a peculiar interest 
in the subject, and hence I have a vivid recollection of 
nearly the exact words in which he related his singular 
nocturnal adventure. One thing is certain : Kirby was 
not the man to be afraid of trying such an experiment. 

44 I had heard wonderful stories about this house," 
said Mr. Kirby to me, " and I was very glad to get a 
chance to enter it, although, I confess, the next morn 
ing I was about as glad to get out of it." 

44 It was an old country-seat a solid stone man 
sion which had long borne the reputation of a haunted 
house. It was watched only by one man. He was the 
old gardener, an ancient servant of the family that 
once lived there, and a person in whom the family re 
posed implicit confidence. 

" Having had some inklino- of this wonderful place, 

c"5 O J 

and having a few days to spare before going to London 
to fulfil an engagement at the Surry Theatre, I thought 
I would probe this haunted-house story to the bottom. 
I therefore called on the old gardener who had charge 
of the place, and introduced myself as an American 


traveller desirous of spending a night with his ghosts. The 
old man seemed to be about seventy-five or eighty years 
of age. I met him at the gate of the estate, where he 
kept guard. He told me, when I applied, that it was a 
dangerous spot to enter, but I could pass it if I pleased. 
I should, however, have to return by the same door, if 
I ever came back again. 

" Wishing to make sure of the job, I gave him a sov 
ereign, and asked him to give me all the privileges of 
the establishment; and if his bill amounted to more, 
I would settle it when I returned. He looked at me 
with an expression of doubt and apprehension, as much 
as to say that he neither understood what I was going 
to do nor what was likely to happen. He merely re 
marked : 

" You can go in. 

" Will you go with me, and show me the road ? 

" I will . 

" 4 Go ahead. 

" We entered. The gate closed. I suddenly turned 
on my man, the old gardener and custodian of the 
place, and said to him : 

" Now, my patriarchal friend, I am going to sift 
this humbug to the bottom, even if I stay here forty 
nights in succession ; and I am prepared to lay all 
" spirits " that present themselves ; but if you will save 
me all trouble in the matter and frankly explain to me 
the whole affair, I will never mention it to your injury, 
and I will present you with ten golden sovereigns." 

" The old fellow looked astonished ; but he smirked, 
and whimpered, and trembled, and said : 


" I am afraid to do that ; but I will warn you 
against going too far. 

" When we had crossed a courtyard^ he rang a bell, 
and several strange noises were distinctly heard. I 
was introduced to the establishment through a well- 
constructed archway, which led to a large stairway, 
from which we proceeded to a great door, which open 
ed into a very large room. It was a library. The old 
custodian had carried a torch (and I was prepared 
with a box of matches.) He was acting evidently 4 on 
the square, and I sat myself down in the library, 
where he told me that I should soon see positive evi 
dence that this was a haunted house. 

44 Not being a very firm believer in the doctrine of 
houses really haunted, I proposed to keep a pretty good 
hold of my match-box, and lest there should be any 
doubt about it, I had also provided myself with two 
sperm candles, which I kept in my pocket, so I should 
not be left too suddenly and too long in the dark. 

44 Now Sir," said he, " I wish you to hold all your 
nerves steady and keep your courage up, because I in 
tend to stand by you as well as I can, but I never come 
into this house alone." 

44 4 Well, what is the matter with the house ? 

44 Oh ! everything, Sir ! 

444 What? 

44 4 Well, when I was much younger than I am now, 
the master of this estate got frightened here by some 

O O J 

mysterious appearances, noises, sounds, etc., and he 
preferred to leave the place. 
44 4 Why ? 


" He had a tradition from his grandfather, and 
pretty well kept alive in the family, that it was a 
haunted house ; and he let out the estate to the small 
er farmers of the neighborhood, and quit the premises, 
and never returned again, except one night, and after 
that one night he left. We suppose he is dead. Now, 
Sir, if you wish to spend the night here as you have 
requested, what may happen to you I don t know ; but 
I tell you it is a haunted house, and I would not sleep 
here to-night for all the wealth of the Bank of Eng 
land ! 

" This did not deter me in the least, and having the 
means of self-protection around me, and plenty of luci- 
fer matches, etc., I thought I would explore this mys 
tery and see whether a humbug which had terrified 
the proprietors of that magnificent house in the midst 
of a magnificent estate, for upward of sixty years, could 
not be explored and exploded. That it was a humbug, 
I had no doubt ; that I would find it out, I was not so 

" I sat down in the library, fully determined to 
spend the night in the establishment. A door was 
opened into an adjoining room where there was a dust- 
covered lounge, and every thing promised as much 
comfort as could be expected under the circumstances. 

However, before the old keeper of the house left, I 
asked him to show me over the building, and let me 
explore for myself the different rooms and apartments. 
To all this he readily consented ; and as he had some 
prospect before him of making a good job out of it, he 
displayed a great deal of alacrity, and moved along 


verv quick and smart for a man apparently eighty years 
of age. 

u I went from room to room and story to story. 
Everything seemed to be well arranged, but somewhat 
dusty and time-worn. I kept a pretty sharp lookout, 
but I could see no sort of machinery for producing a 
grand effect. 

" We finally descended to the library, when I closed 
the door, and bolting and locking it, took the key and 
put it in my pocket. 

" Now, Sir, I said to the keeper, 4 where is the 
humbug ? 

u 4 There is no humbug here, he answered. 

" Well, why don t you show me some evidence of 
the haunted house ? 

" 4 You wait, said he, 4 till twelve o clock to-night, 
and you will see " haunting " enough for you. I will 
not stay till then. 

" He left ; I staid. Everything was quiet for some 
time. Not a mouse was heard, not a rat was visible, 
and I thought I would go to sleep. 

" I lay down for this purpose, but I soon heard cer 
tain extraordinary sounds that disturbed my repose. 
Chains were clanked, noises were made, and shrieks 
and groans were heard from various parts of the man 
sion. All of these I had expected. They did not 
frighten me much. A little while after, just as I was 
going to sleep again, a curious string of light burned 
around the room. It ran along on the walls in a zigzag 
line, about six feet high, entirely through the apartment. 
I did not smell anything bituminous or like sulphur. 


It flashed quicker than powder, and it did not smell 
like it. Thinks I : fc This looks pretty well, we will 
have some amusement now. Then the ] uno-lin<r of 

J & & 

bells, and clanking of chains, and flashes of light ; then 
thumpings and knockings of all sorts came along, in 
terspersed with shrieks and groans. I sat very quiet. 
I had two of Colt s best pistols in my pocket, and I 
thought I could shoot anything spiritual or material 
with these machines made in Connecticut. I took 
them out and laid them on the table. One of them sud 
denly disappeared ! I did not like that, still my nerves 
were firm, for I knew it was all gammon. I took the 
other pistol in my hand and surveyed the room. No 
body was there; and, finally half suspicious that I had 
gone to sleep and had a drearn, I woke up with a grasp 
on my hand which was holding the other pistol. This 
soon made me fully awake. 

" I tried to recover my balance, and at this moment 
the candle went out. I lit it with one of my lucifers. 
No person was visible, but the noises began again, and 
they were infernal. I then took one of my sperm can 
dles out, and went to unlock the door. I attempted to 
take the key out of my pocket. It was not there ! 
Suddenly the door opened, I saw a man or a somebody 
about the size of a man, standino- straight in front of 

o r? 

me. I pointed one of Colt s revolvers at his head, for 
I thought I saw something human about him ; and I 
told him that whether he was ghost or spirit, goblin or 
robber, he had better stand steady, or I would blow 
his brains out, if he had any. And to make sure that 
he should not escape I got hold of his arm, and told 


him that if he was a ghost he would have a tolera 
bly hard time of it, and that if he was a humbug I 
would let him off if he would tell me the whole story 
about the. trick. 

" He saw that he was caught, and he earnestly beg 
ged me not to fire that American pistol at him. I did 
not ; but I did not let go of him. I brought him into 
the library, and with pistol in hand I put him through 
a pretty close examination. He was clad in mailed 
armor, with breastplate and helmet, and a great sword, 
in the style of the Crusaders. He promised, on condi 
tion of saving his life, to give me an honest account of 
the facts. 

In substance they were, that he, an old family- 
servant, and ultimately a gardener in charge of the 
place, had been employed by an enemy of the gentle 
man who owned the property, to render it so uncom 
fortable that the estate should be sold for much less 
than its value ; and that he had got an ingenious ma 
chinist and chemist to assist him in arranging such con 
trivances as would make the house so intolerable that 
they could not live there. A galvanic battery with 
wires were provided, and every device of chemistry and 
mechanism was resorted to in order to effect this pur 

" One by one, the family left ; and they had remain 
ed away for nearly two generations under the terror of 
such forms, and appearances, and sights and sounds, as 
frightened them almost to death. And futherrnore, the 
old gardener added, that he expected his own grand 
daughter would become the lady of that house, when 


the property should have been neglected so long and the 
place became so fearful that no one in the neighborhood 
would undertake to purchase it, or to even pass one mo 
ment after dark in exploring its horrible mysteries. 

" He begged on his knees that I would spare him 
with his gray hairs, since he had* so short a time to live. 
He declared that he had been actuated by no other mo 
tive than pride and ambition for his child. 

" I told the poor old fellow that his secret should be 
safe with me, and should not be made public so long 
as he lived. The old man grasped mv hand easier! v and 

o I - O 

expressed his gratitude in the strongest terms. Thus, 
Mr. Barnum, I have given you the pure and honest facts 
in regard to my adventure in a so called haunted house. 
Don t make it public until you are convinced that the 
old gardener has shuffled off this mortal coil." 

So much for Kirby s story of the haunted house. 
No doubt, the old gardener has before this become in 
reality a disembodied spirit, but that his grand-daughter 
became legally possessed of the estate is not at all prob 
able. Real estate does not change hands so easily in 
England. So powerful, however is the superstitious 
belief in haunted houses, that it is doubtful whether that 
property will for many years sustain half so great a cash 
value in the market as it would have done had it not 
been considered a " haunted house." 

It is to be hoped that, as schools multiply and educa 
tion increases, the follies and superstitions which under 
lie a belief in ghosts and hobgoblins will pass away. 







Whether superstition is the father of humbug, or 
humbug the mother of superstition (as well as its 
nurse,) I do not pretend to say ; for the biggest fools 
and the greatest philosophers can be numbered among 
the believers in and victims of the worst humbugs that 
ever prevailed on the earth. 

As we grow up from childhood and begin to think 
we are free from all superstitions, absurdities, follies, a 
belief in dreams, signs, omens, and other similar stuff, 
we afterward learn that experience does not cure the 
complaint. Doubtless much depends upon our " bring 
ing up." If children are permitted to feast their ears 
night after night (as I was) with stories of ghosts, hob 
goblins, ghouls, witches, apparitions, bugaboos, it is 
more difficult in after-life for them to rid their minds of 
impressions thus made. 

But whatever may have been our early education. I 
am convinced that there is an inherent love of the mar 
velous in every breast, and that everybody is more or 
less superstitious ; and every superstition I denominate 


a humbug, for it lays the human mind open to any 
amount of belief, in any amount of deception that may 
be practised. 

One object of these chapters consists in showing how 
open everybody is to deception, that nearly everybody 
" hankers " after it, that solid and solemn realities arc 
frequently set aside for silly impositions and delusions, 
and that people, as a too general thing, like to be led 
into the region of mystery. As Hudibras lias it : 

** Doubtless the pleasure is as great 
Of being cheated as to ch^al, 
As lookers-on feel most delight 
That least perceive a juggler s sleight; 
And still the less they understand, 
The more they admire his sleight of hand." 

The amount or strength of man s brains have little to 
do with the amount of their superstitions. The most 
learned and the greatest men have been the deepest be 
lievers in ingeniously-contrived machines for running 
human reason off the track. If any expositions I can 
make on this subject will serve to put people on their 
guard against impositions of all sorts, as well as foolish 
superstitions, I shall feel a pleasure in reflecting that I 
have not written in vain. The heading of this chapter 
enumerates the principal kinds of supernatural hum 
bugs. These, it must be remembered, are quite differ 
ent from religious impostures. 

It is astonishing to reflect how ancient is the date of 
this class of superstitions (as well as of most others, in 
fact,) and how universally they have prevailed. Near 
ly thirty-six hundred years ago, it was thought a matter 


of course that Joseph, the Hebrew Prime Minister of 
Pharaoh, should have a silver cup that he commonly 
used to do his divining with : so that the practice must 
already have been an established one. 

In Homer s time, about twenty-eight hundred years 
ago, ghosts were believed to appear. The Witch of 
Endor pretended to raise the ghost of Samuel, at about 
the same time. 

To-day, here in the City of New York, dream books 
are sold by the edition ; a dozen fortune-tellers regular 
ly advertise in the papers ; a haunted house can gather 
excited crowds for weeks ; abundance of people are 
uneasy if they spill salt, dislike to see the new moon 
over the wrong shoulder, and are delighted if they can 
find an old horse-shoe to nail to their door-post. 

I have already told about one or two haunted houses, 
but must devote part of this chapter to that division of 
the subject. There are hundreds of such that is, of 
those reputed to be such ; and have been for hundreds 
of years. In almost every city, and in many towns 
and country places, they are to be found. I know of 
one, for instance, in New Jersey, one or two in New 
York, and have heard of several in Connecticut. There 
are great numbers in Europe ; for as white men have 
lived there so much longer than in America, ghosts 
naturally accumulated. In this country there are 
houses and places haunted by ghosts of Hessians, and 
Yankee ghosts, not to mention the headless Dutch 
phantom of Tarrytown, that turned out to be Brom 
Bones ; but who ever heard of the ghost of an Indian ? 
And as for the ghost of a black man, evidently it would 


have to appear by daylight. You couldn t see it in the 
dark ! 

I have no room to even enumerate the cases of 
haunted houses. One in Aix-la-Chapelle, a fine large 
house, stood empty five years on account of the knock- 
ings in it, until it was sold for almost nothing, and the 
new owner (lucky man !) discovered that the ghost was 
a draft through a broken window that banned a loose 

O <> 

door. An English gentleman once died, and his heir, 
in a day or two, heard of mysterious knockings which 
the frightened servants attributed to the defunct. He, 
however, investigated a little, and found that a rat in 
an old store room, was trying to get out of an old- 
fashioned box trap, and being able to lift the door only 
partly, it dropped again, constituting the ghost. Better 
pleased to find the rat than his father, the young man 
exterminated rat and phantom together. 

A very ancient and impressive specimen of a haunted 
house was the palace of Vauvert, belonging to King 
Louis IX, of France, who was so pious that he was 
called Saint Louis. This fine building was so situated 
as to become very desirable, in the year 1259, to some 
monks. So there was forthwith horrid shriekings at 
night-times, red and green lights shone through the 
windows, and, finally, a large green ghost, with a white 
beard and a serpent s tail, came every midnight to a 
front window, and shook his fist, and howled at those 
who passed by. Everybody was frightened King 
Louis, good simple soul ! as well as the rest. Then the 
bold monks appearing at the nick of time, intimated 
that if the King would give them the palace, they 


would do up the ghost in short order. He did it, and 
was very thankful to them besides. They moved in, 
and sure enough, the ghost appeared no more. Why 
should he ? 

The o-hosts of Woodstock are well known. How 


they tormented the Puritan Commissioners who came 
thither in 1649, to break up the place, and dispose of it 
for the benefit of the Commonwealth ! The poor Puri 
tans had a horrid time. A disembodied dog growled 
under their bed, and bit the bed-clothes ; something in 
visible walked all about ; the chairs and tables danced ; 
something threw the dishes about (like the Davenport 
" spirits ;" ) put logs for the pillows ; flung brickbats up 
and down, without regard to heads ; smashed the win 
dows ; threw pebbles in at the frightened commission 
ers ; stuck a lot of pewter platters into their beds ; ran 
away with their breeches ; threw dirty water over them 
in bed ; banged them over the head until, after sev 
eral weeks, the poor fellows gave it up, and ran away 
back to London. Many years afterward, it came out 
that all this was done by their clerk, who was" secretly 
a royalist, though they thought him a furious Puritan, 
and who knew all the numerous secret passages and con 
trivances in the old palace. Most people have read 
Sir Walter Scott s capital novel of "Woodstock," 
founded on this very story. 

The well known " Demon of Tedworth," that drum 
med, and scratched, and pounded, and threw things 
about, in 1681, in Mr. Mompesson s house turned out 
to be a gipsy drummer and confederates. 

The still more famous " Ghost in Cock Lane," in 


London in 1762, consisted of a Mrs. Parsons and her 
daughter, a little girl, trained by Mr. Parsons to knock 
and scratch very much after the fashion of the alpha 
bet talking of the "spirits" of to-day. Parsons got 
up the whole affair, to revenge himself on a Mr. Kent. 
The ghost pretended to be that of a deceased sister-in- 
law of Kent, and to have been poisoned by him. But 
Parsons and his assistants were found out, and had to 
smart for their fun, being heavily fined, imprison 
ed, etc. 

A very able ghost indeed, a Methodist ghost the 
spectral property, consequently, of my good friends the 
Methodists used to rattle, and clatter, and bang, and 
communicate, in the house of the Rev. Mr. Wesley, the 
father of John Wesley, at Epworth, in England. This 
ghost was very troublesome, and utterly useless. In 
fact, none of the ghosts that haunt houses are of the 
leas-t possible use. They plague people, but do no good. 
They act like the spirits of departed monkeys. 

I must add two or three short anecdotes about ghosts, 
got up in the devil-manner. They are not new, but il 
lustrate very handsomely the state of mind in which a 
ghost should be met. One is, that somebody undertook 
to scare Cuvier, the great naturalist, with a ghost hav- 
in an ox s head. Cuvier woke, and found the fearful 
thing glaring and grinning at his bedside. 

" What do you want? " 

" To devour you ! " growled the ghost. 

" Devour me? " quoth the great Frenchman " Hoofs, 
horns, graminivorous ! You can t do it clear out ! " 

And he did clear out. 


A pious maiden lady, in one of our New-England 

villages, was known to possess three peculiarities. First, 
she was a very religious, honest, matter-of-fact woman. 
Second, she supposed everybody else was equally honest ; 
hence she was very credulous, always believing every 
thing she heard. And third, having " a conscience 
void of offense," she saw no reason to be afraid of any 
thing ; consequently, she feared nothing. 

On a dark night, some boys, knowing that she would 
be returning home alone from prayer-meeting, through 
an unfrequented street, determined to test two of her 
peculiarities, viz., her credulity and her courage. One 
of the boys was sewed up in a huge shaggy bear-skin, 
and as the old lady s feet were heard pattering down the 
street, he threw himself directly in her path and com 
menced making a terrible noise. 

" Mercy ! " exclaimed the old lady. " Who are 

O * } 

you f 

" I am the devil ! " was the reply. 

Weil, you are a poor creature ! " responded the an 
tiquated virgin, as she stepped aside and passed by the 
strange animal, probably not for a moment doubting it 
was his Satanic Majesty, but certainly not dreaming of 
being afraid of him. 

It is said that a Yankee tin peddler, who had fre 
quently cheated most of the people in the vicinity of a 
New England village through which he was passing, 
was induced by some of the acute ones to join them in 
a drinking bout. He finally became stone drunk ; and 
in that condition these wags carried him to a dark rocky 
cave near the village, then, dressing themselves in raw- 


head-and-bloody-bones style, awaited liis return to con 

As he began rousing himself, they lighted some huge 
torches, and also set fire to some bundles of straw, and 
three or four rolls of brimstone, which they had placed 
in different parts of the cavern. The peddler rubbed 
his eyes, and seeing and smelling all these evidences of 
pandemonium, concluded he had died, and was now 
partaking of his final doom. But lie took it very phi 
losophically, for he complacently remarked to himself. 

" In hell just as I expected ! " 

A story is told of a cool old sea captain, with a vira 
go of a wife, who met one of these artificial devils in a 
lonely place. As the ghost obstructed his path, the old 
fellow remarked : 

" If you are not the devil, get out ! If you are, come 
along with me and get supper. I married your sister ! 





Magic, sorcery, witchcraft, enchantment, necromancy, 
conjuring, incantation, soothsaying, divining, the black 
art, are all one and the same humbug. They show 
how prone men are to believe in some supernatural power, 


in some beings wiser and stronger than themselves, 
but at the same time how they stop short, and find sat 
isfaction in some debasing humbug, instead of looking 
above and beyond it all to God, the only being that it is 
really worth while for man to look up to or beseech. 

Magic and witchcraft are believed in by the vast ma 
jority of mankind, and by immense numbers even in 
Christian countries. They have always been believed 
in, so far as I know. In following up the thread of 
history, we always find conjuring or witch work of 
some kind, just as long as the narrative has space 
enough to include it. Already, in the early dawn of 
time, the business was a recognized and long established 
one. And its history is as unbroken from that day 
down to this, as the history of the race. 

In the narrow space at my command at present, I 
shall only gather as many of the more interesting sto 
ries about these humbugs, as I can make room for. 
Reasoning about the subject, or full details of it, are at 
present out of the question. A whole library of books 
exists about it. 

It is a curious fact that throughout the middle ages, 
the Roman poet Virgil was commonly believed to have, 
been a great magician. Traditions were recorded by 
monastic chroniclers about him, that he made a brass 
fly and mounted it over one of the gates of Naples, 
having instilled into this metallic insect such potent 
magical qualities that as long as it kept guard over the 
gate, no musquitos, or flies, or cockroach, or other trou 
blesome insects could exist in the citv. What would 
have become of the celebrated Bug Powder man in 


those clays ? The story is told about Virgil as well as 
about Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and other magi 
cians, that he made a brazen head which could prophe 
sy. He also made some statues of the gods of the va 
rious nations subject to Rome, so enchanted that if one 
of those nations was preparing to rebel, the statue of 
its god rung a bell and pointed a finger toward the na 
tion. The same set of stories tells how poor Virgil 
came to an untimely end in consequence of trying to 
live forever. He had become an old man, it appears, 
and wishing to be young again, he used some appropri 
ate incantations, and prepared a secret cavern. In this 
he caused a confidential disciple to cut him up like a 
hog and pack him away in a barrel of pickle, out of 
which he was to emerge in his new mao-ic youth after a 

O "> J 

certain time. But by that special bad luck which seems 
to attend such cases, some malapropos traveller some 
how made his way into the cavern, where he found the 
magic pork-barrel standing silently all alone in the 
middle of the place, and an ever-burning lamp illumin 
ating the room, and slowly distilling a magic oil upon 
the salted sorcerer who was cookino- below. The trav- 


eller rudely jarred the barrel, the light went out, as the 
torches flared upon it ; and suddenly there appeared to 
the eyes of the astounded man, close at one side of the 
barrel, a little naked child, which ran thrice around the 
barrel, uttering deep curses upon him who had thus de 
stroyed the charm, and ranished. The frightened trav 
eller made off as fast as he could, and poor old Virgil, 
for what I know, is in pickle yet. 

Cornelius Agrippa was one of the most celebrated 


magicians of the middle ages. He lived from the year 
1486 (six years before the discovery of America) until 
1534. and was a native of Cologne, Agrippa is said to 
have had a ma^ic <ilass in which he showed to his custom- 

!""> o 

ers such dead or absent persons as they might wish to see. 
Thus he would call up the beautiful Helen of Troy, or 
Cicero in the midst of an oration ; or to a pining lover, 
the figure of his absent lady, as she was employed at the 
moment a dangerous exhibition! For who knows, 
whether the consolation sought by the fair one, will al 
ways be such as her lover will approve ? Agrippa, 
they say, had an attendant devil in the form of a huge 
black dog, whom on his death-bed the magician dismis 
sed with curses. The dog ran away, plunged into the 
river Saone and was seen no more. We are of course 
to suppose that his Satanic Majesty got possession of the 
conjuror s soul however, as per agreement. There is 
a story about Agrippa, which shows conclusively how 
u a little learning" may be "a dangerous thing." 
When Agrippa was absent on a short journey, his stu 
dent iu magic slipped into the study and began to read 
spells out of a great book. After a little there was a 
knock at the door, but the young man paid no attention 
to it. In another moment there was another louder one, 
which startled him, but still he read on. In a moment 
the door opened, and in came a fine large devil who an 
grily asked, " What do you call me for ? The fright 
ened youth answered very much like those naughty 
boys who say u I didn t do nothing ! " But it will not 
do to fool with devils. The angry demon caught 
him by the throat and strangled him. Shortly, when 


Agrippa returned, lo and behold, a strong squad of 
evil spirits were kicking up their heels and playing tag 
all over the house, and crowding his study particularly 
full. Like a school master among mischievous boys, the 
great enchanter sent all the little fellows home, cate 
chised the big one, and finding the situation unpleasant, 
made him reanimate the corpse of the student and walk 
it about town all the afternoon. The malignant demon 
however, was free at sunset, and let the corpse drop 
dead in the middle of the market place. The people 
recognized it, found the claw-marks and traces of stran 
gling, suspected the fact, and Agrippa had to abscond 
very suddenly. 

Another student of Agrippa s came very near an 
equally bad end. The magician was in the habit of 
enchanting a broomstick into a servant to do his house 
work, and when it \vas done, turning it back to 
a broomstick again and putting it behind the door. 
This young student had overheard the charm which 
made the servant, and one day in his master s absence, 
wanting a pail of water he said over the incantation 
and told the servant " Bring some water." The evil 
spirit promptly obeyed ; flew to the river, brought a 
pail ml and emptied it, instantly brought a second, 
instantly a third; and the student, startled, cried out, 
" that s enough ! " But this was not the " return charm," 
and the ill tempered demon, rejoicing in doing mischief 
within the letter of his obligation, now flew backward 
and forward like lightning, so that he even began to 
flood the room about the rash student s feet. Desper 
ate, he seized an axe and hewed this diabolical serving- 


man in two. Two serving-men jumped up, with two 
water-pails, grinning in devilish glee, and both went 
to work harder than ever. The poor student gave him 
self op for lost, when luckily the master came home, 
dismissed the over-officious water carrier with a word, 
and saved the student s life. 

How thoroughly false all these absurd fictions are, 
and yet how ingeniously based on some fact, appears 
by the case of Agrippa s black dog. Wierus, a writer 
of good authority, and a personal friend of Agrippa s, 
reports that he knew very well all about the dog; that 
it was not a superhuman dog at all, but (if the term be 
amissable) a mere human dog an animal whioh he, 
Wierus, had often led about by a string, and only a 
domestic pet of Agrippa. 

Another eminent magician of those days was Doctor 
Faustus, about whom Goethe wrote " Faust," Bailey 
wrote " Festus," and whose story, mingled of human 
love and of the devilish tricks of Mephistopheles, is 
known so very widely. The truth about Faust seems 
to be, that he was simply a successful juggler of the 
sixteenth century. Yet the wonderful stories about 
him were very implicitly and extensively believed. It 
was the time of the Protestant Reformation, and even 
Melanchthon and Luther seem to have entirely believed 
that Faustus could make the forms of the dead appear, 
could carry people invisibly through the air, and play all 
the legendary tricks of the enchanters. So strong a hold 
does humbug often obtain even upon the noblest and 
clearest and wisest minds ! 

Faustus, according to the traditions, had a pretty 


keen eye for a joke. He once sold a splendid horse to 
a horse-jockey at a fair. The fellow shortly rode his 

*J J 

fine horse to water. When he got into the water, lo and 
behold, the horse vanished, and the humbugged jockey 
found himself sitting up to his neck in the river on a 
straw saddle. There is something quite satisfactory in 
the idea of playing such a trick on one of that sharp 
generation, and Faust felt so comfortable over it that he 
entered his hotel and went quietly to sleep or pre 
tended to. Shortly in came the angry jockey ; he 
shouted and bawled, but could not awaken the doctor, 
and in his anger he seized his foot and gave it a good 
pull. Foot and leg came off in his hand. Faustus 
screamed out as if in horrible agony, and the terrified 
jockey ran away as fast as he could, and never trou 
bled his very loose-jointed customer for the money. 

A magician named Ziito, resident at the court of 
Wenceslaus of Bohemia (A. D. 1368 to 1419,) ap 
pears to great advantage in the annals of these hum 
bugs. He was a homely, crooked creature, with an im 
mense mouth. He had a collision once in public on a 
question of skill with a brother conjuror, and becoming 
a little excited, opened his big mouth and swallowed 
the other magician, all to his shoes, which as lie ob 
served were dirty. Then he stepped into a closet, got 
his rival out of him somehow, and calmly led him back 
to the company. A story is told about Ziito and some 
hogs, just like that about Faust and the horse. 

In all these stories about magicians, their power is 
derived from the devil. It was long believed that the 
ancient university of Salamanca in Spain, founded 


A. D. 1240, was the chief school of magic, and had 
regular professors and classes in it. The devil was sup 
posed to be the special patron of this department, and 
he had a curious fee for his trouble, which he collected 
every commencement day. The last exercise of the grad 
uating class on that day was, to run across a certain 
cavern under the University. The devil was always 
on hand at this time, and had the privilege of grab 
bing at the last man of the crowd. If he caught him, 
as he commonly did, the soul of the unhappy student 
became the property of his captor. Hence arose the 
phrase " Devil take the hindmost." Sometime it hap 
pened that some very brisk fellow r was left last by some 
accident. If he were brisk enough to dodge the devil s 
grab, that personage only caught his shadow. In this 
case it was well understood that this particular enchant 
er never had any shadow afterwards, and he always be 
came very eminent in his art. 





Witchcraft is one of the most baseless, absurd, dis 
gusting and silly of all the humbugs. And it is not a 
dead humbug either ; it is alive, busily exercised by 
knaves and believed by fools all over the world. 
Witches and wizards operate and prosper among the 


Hottentots and negroes and barbarous Indians, among 
the Siberians and Kirgishes and Lapps, of course. 
Everybody knows that they are poor ignorant crea 
tures ! Yes : but are the French and Germans and Eng 
lish and Americans poor ignorant creatures too ? They 
are, if the belief and practice of witchcraft among them 
is any test ; for in all those countries there are witches. 
I take up one of the New York City dailies of this 
very morning, and find in it the advertisements of seven 
Witches. In 1858, there were in full blast in New 
York and Brooklyn sixteen witches and two wizards. 
One of these wizards was a black man ; a very proper 
style of person to deal with the black art. 

Witch means, a woman who practices sorcery under 
an agreement with the devil, who helps her. Before 
the Christian era, the Jewish witch was a mere diviner 
or at most a raiser of the dead, and the Gentile witch 
was a poisoner, a maker of philtres or love potions, 
and a vulgar sort of magician. The devil part of the 
business did not begin until a good while after Christ. 
During the last century or so, again, while witchcraft 
has been extensively believed in, the witch has degen 
erated into a very vulgar and poverty stricken sort of 
conjuring woman. Take our New York city witches, 
for instance. They live in "cheap and dirty streets that 
smell bad ; their houses are in the same style, infected 
with a strong odor of cabbage, onions, washing-day, 
old dinners, and other merely sublunary smells. Their 
room s are very ill furnished, and often beset with wash- 
tubs, swill-pails, mops and soiled clothes ; their personal 
appearance is commonly unclean, homely, vulgar, 


coarse, and ignorant, and often rummy. Their fee is a 
quarter or half of a dollar. Sometimes a dollar. Their 
divination is worked by cutting and dealing cards or 
studying the palm of your hand. And the things which 
they tell you are the most silly and shallow babble in 
the world ; a mess of phrasps worn out over and over 
again. Here is a specimen, as gabbled to the customer 
over a pack of cards laid out on the table; anybody 
can do the like : " You face a misfortune. I think it 
will come upon you within three w r eeks, but it may not. 
A dark complexioned man faces your life-card. He is 
plotting against you, and you must beware of him. 
Your marriage-card faces two young women, one fair 
and the other dark. One you will have, and the other 
you will not. I think you will have the fair one. She 
favors the dark complexioned man, which means trouble. 
You face money, but you must earn it. There is a 
good deal, but you may not get much of it " etc., etc. 
These words are exactly the sort of stuff that is sold by 
the witches of to-day. But the greatest witch humbug 
of all the witchcraft of history, is that of Christendom 
for about three hundred years, beo-innino- about the time 

/ <"" 5 O 

of the discovery of America. To that period belonged 
the Salem witchcraft of New England, the witch- 
"finding of Matthew Hopkins in Old England, the 
Scotch witch trials, and the Swedish and German and 
French witch mania. 

The peculiar traits of the witchcraft of this period 
are among the most mysterious of all humbugs. The 
most usual points in a case of witchcraft were, that the 
witch had sold herself to the devil for all eternity, in 


order to get the power during a few years of earthly 
life, to inflict a few pains on the persons of those she 
disliked, or to cause them to lose part of their property. 
This was almost always the whole story, except the 
mere details of the witch baptism and witch sabbath, 
parodies on the ceremonies, of the Christian religion. 
And the mystery is, how anybody could believe that to 
accomplish such very small results, seldom equal even 
to the death of an enemy, one would agree to accept 
eternal damnation in the next world, almost certain 
poverty, misery, persecution and "torment in this, be 
sides having for an amusement performances more dirty, 
obscene and vulgar than I can even hint at. 

But such a belief was universal, and hundreds of the 
witches themselves confessed as much as I have de 
scribed, and more, with numerous details, and they were 
burnt alive for their trouble. The extent of wholesale 
murdering perpetrated under forms of law, on charges 
of witchcraft, is astonishing. A magistrate named 
Remigius, published a book in which he told how much 
he thought of himself for having condemned and burned 
nine hundred witches in sixteen years, in Lorraine. 
And the one thing that he blamed himself for was this : 
that out of regard for the wishes of a colleague, he 
had only caused certain children to be whipped naked 
three times round the market place where their parents 
had been burned, instead of burning them. At Bam- 
berg, six hundred persons were burned in five years, 
at Wurzburg nine hundred in two years. Sprenger, 
a German inquisitor-general, and author of a celebrat 
ed book on detecting and punishing witchcraft, called 


Malleus Maleficarum, or " The Mallet of Malefactors," 
burned more than five hundred in one year. In Gene 
va, five hundred persons were burned during 1515 and 
1516. In the district of Como in Italy, a thousand 
persons were burned as witches in the single year 1524, 
besides over a hundred a year for several years after 
wards. Seventeen thousand persons were executed for 
witchcraft in Scotland during thirty-nine years, ending 
with 1603. Forty thousand were executed in England 
from lb 00 to 1680. Bodinus, another of the witch kill- 
in or iudffes, oravelv announced that there were undoubt- 

^ J C> . c5 

edly not less than three hundred thousand witches in 

The way in 1 which the witch murderers reasoned, and 
their modes of conducting trials and procuring confess 
ions, were truly infernal. The chief rule was that 
witchcraft being an " exceptional crime," no regard 
need be had to the ordinary forms of justice. All 
manner of tortures were freely applied to force confess 
ions. In Scotland " the boot " was used, being an iron 
case in which the legs are locked up to the knees, and 
an iron wedge then driven in until sometimes the bones 
were crushed and the marrow spouted out. Pin stick 
ing, drowning, starving, the rack, were too common 
to need details. Sometimes the prisoner was hung up 
by the thumbs, and whipped by one person, while 
another held lighted candles to the feet and other parts 
of the body. At Arras, while the prisoners were being 
torn on the rack, the executioner stood by, sword in 
hand, promising to cut off at once the heads of those 
who did not confess. At Offenburg, when the prison- 


ers had been tortured until beyond the power of speak 
ing aloud, they silently assented to abominable confess 
ions read to them out of a book. Many were cheated 
into confession by the promise of pardon and release 
and then burned. A poor woman in Germany was 
tricked by the hangman, who dressed himself up. as a 
devil and went into her cell. Overpowered by pain, 
fear and superstition, she begged him to help her out ; 
her beseeching was taken for confession, she was Tburned, 
and a ballad which treated the trick as a jolly and com 
ical device, was long popular in the country. Several 
of the judges in witch cases tell us how victims, utterly 
weary of their tormented lives, confessed whatever was 
required, merely as the shortest way to death, and an 
escape out of their misery. All who dared to argue 
against the current of popular and judicial delusion 
were instantly refuted very effectively by being attack 
ed for witchcraft themselves ; and once accused, there 
was little hope of escape. The Jesuit Delrio, in a book 
published in 1599, states the witch killers side of the 
discussion very neatly indeed ; for in one and the same 
chapter he defies any opponents to disprove the exist 
ence of witchcraft, and then shows that a denial of 
witchcraft is the worst of all heresies, and must be pun 
ished with death. Quite a number of excellent and 
sensible people were actually burnt on just this princi 

I do not undertake to give details of any witch 
trials ; this sketch of the way in which they operated 
is all I can make room for, and sufficiently delineates 
this cruel and bloody humbug. 


I have already referred to the fact that we have right 
here among us in this city a very fair supply of a vul 
gar, dowdy kind of witchcraft. Other countries are 
favored in like manner. I have not just now the most 
recent information, but in the year 1857 and 1858, for 
instance, mobbing and prosecutions growing out of a 
popular belief in witchcraft were quite plentiful enough 
in various parts of Europe. No less than eight cases 
of the kind in England alone were reported during 
those two years. Among them was the actual murder 
of a woman as a witch by a mob in Shropshire ; and an 
attack by another mob in Essex, upon a perfectly inof 
fensive person, on suspicion of having " bewitched " a 
scolding ill-conditioned girl, from which attack the mob 
was diverted with much difficulty, and thinking itself 
very unjustly treated. Some others of those cases show 
a singular quantity of credulity among people of re 

While therefore some of us may perhaps be justly 
thankful for safety from such horrible follies as these, 
still we can not properly feel very proud of the pro 
gress of humanity, since after not less than six thou 
sand years of existence and eighteen hundred of reve 
lation, so many believers in witchcraft still exist among 
the most civilized nations. 







It is worth while to print in plain English for my 
readers a good selection of the very words which have 
been believed, or are still believed, to possess magic 
power. Then any who choose, may operate by them 
selves or may put some bold friend up in a corner, and 
blaze away at him or her until they are wholly satisfied 
about the power of magic. 

The Roman Cato, so famous for his grumness and vir 
tue, believed that if he were ill, it would much help him, 
and that it would cure sprains in others, to say over 
these words : " Daries, dardaries, astaris, ista, pista, sis- 
ta," or, as another account has it, " inotas, daries, 
dardaries, astaries ; " or, as still another account says, 
" Huat, huat, huat ; ista, pista, sista ; domiabo, dam- 
naustra." And sure enough, nothing is truer, as any 
physician will tell you, that if the old censor only be 
lieved hard enough, it would almost certainly help him ; 
not by the force of the words, but by the force of his 
own ancient Roman imagination. Here are some 
Greek words of no less virtue : " Aski, Kataski, Te- 


trax" When the Greek priests let out of their doors 
those who had been completely initiated in the Eleusi- 
nian mysteries, they said to them last of all the awful 
and powerful words, " Konx, ompax" If you want to 
know what the usual result was, just say them to some 
body, and you will see, instantly. The ancient Hebrews 
believed that there was a secret name of God, usually 
thought to be inexpressible, and only to be represent 
ed by a mystic figure kept in the Temple, and that if 
any one could learn it, and repeat it, he could rule 
the intelligent and unintelligent creation at his will. It 
is supposed by some, that Jehovah is the word which 
stands for this secret name ; and some Hebraists think 
that the word " Yah veh " is much more nearly the 
right one. The Mohammedans, who have received many 
notions from the Jews, believe the same story about the 
secret name of God, and they think it was engraved on 
Solomon s signet, as all readers of the Arabian Nights 
will very well remember. The Jews believed that if 
you pronounced the word " Satan " any evil spirit that 
happened to be by could in consequence instantly pop 
into you if he wished, and possess you, as the devils in 
the New Testament possessed people. 

Some ancient cities had a secret name, and it was be 
lieved that if their enemies could find this out, they 
could conjure with it so as to destroy such cities. Thus, 
the secret name of Rome was Yalentia, and the word 
was very carefully kept, with the intention that none 
should know it except one or two of the chief pontiffs. 
Mr. Borrow, in one of his books, tells about a charm 
which a gipsy woman knew, and which she used to re- 


peat to herself as a means of obtaining supernatural aid 
when she happened to want it. This was, " Saboca 
enrecar maria ereria." He induced her after much 
effort to repeat the words to him, but she always wished 
she had not, with an evident conviction that some harm 
would result. He explained to her that they consisted 
of a very simple phrase, but it made no difference. 

An ancient physician named Serenus Sammonicus, 
used to be quite sure of curing fevers, by means of 
what he called Abracadabra, which was a sort of inscrip 
tion to be written on something and worn on the pa 
tient s person. It was as follows : 







Another gentleman of the same school used to cure 
sore eyes by hanging round the patient s neck an in 
scription made up of only two letters, A and Z ; but 
how he mixed them we unfortunately do not know. 

By the way, many of the German peasantry in the 
more ignorant districts still believe that to write Abra- 


cadabra on a slip of paper and keep it with you, will 
protect you from wounds, and that if your house is on 
fire, to throw this strip into it will put the fire out. 

Many charms or incantations call on God, Christ or 
some saints, just as the heathen ones call on a spirit. 
Here is one for epilepsy that seems to appeal to both 


religions, as if with a queer proviso against any possi 
ble mistake about either. Taking the epileptic by the 
hand, you whisper in his ear u I adjure thee-by the sun 
and the moon and the gospel of to-day, that thou arise 
and no more fall to the ground ; in the name of the 
Father, Son and Holy Ghost. 

A charm for the cramp found in vogue in some rustic 
regions is this : 

" The devil is tying a knot in my leg, 
Mark, Luke and John, unloose it, I beg, 
Crosses three we make to ease us 
Two for the thieves, and one for Christ Jesus." 

Here is another, often used in Ireland, which in the 
same spirit of superstition and ignorant irreverence 
uses the name of the Savior for a slight human occa 
sion. It is to cure the toothache, and requires the re 
peating of the following string of words : 

" St. Peter sitting on a marble stone, our Savior 
passing by, asked him what was the matter. Oh Lord, 
a toothache ! Stand up, Peter, and follow me ; 
and whoever keeps these words in memory of me, shall 
never be troubled with a toothache, Amen." 

The English astrologer Lilly, after the death of his 
wife, formerly a Mrs. Wright, found in a scarlet bag 
which she wore under her arm a pure gold " sigil " or 
round plate worth about ten dollars in gold, which the 
former husband of the defunct had used to exorcise a 
spirit that plagued him. In case any of my readers can 
afford bullion enough, and would like to drive away 
any such visitor, letthem get such a plate and have en 
graved round the edge of one side, " Vicit Leo de tri- 


bus Judae tetragrammaton -]-." Inside this engrave 
a " holy lamb." Round the edge of the other side en 
grave " Arinaphel " and three crosses, thus : -[ \~ -J- ; 

and in the middle, " Sanctus Petrus Alpha et Omega." 

The witches have always had incantations, which 
they have used to make a broom-stick into a horse, to 
kill or to sicken animals and persons, etc. Most 
of these are sufficiently stupid, and not half so wonder 
ful as one I know, which may be found in a certain 
mysterious volume called " The Girl s Own Book," 
and which, as I can depose, has often power to tickle 
children. It is this : 

" Bandy-legged Borachio Mustachio Whiskerifusticus, 
the bald and brave Bombardino of Bagdad, helped 
Abomilique Bluebeard Bashaw of Babel mandel beat 
down an abominable bumblebee at Balsora." 

But to the other witches. Their charms were repeated 
sometimes in their own language and sometimes in gib 
berish. When the Scotch witches wanted to fly away to 
their " Witches Sabbath," they straddled a broom-handle, 
a corn stalk, a straw, or a rush, and cried out " Horse and 
hattock, in the Devil s name ! " and immediately away 
they flew, " forty times as high as the moon," if they 
wished. Some English witches in Somersetshire used 
instead to say, " Thout, tout, throughout and about ;" 
and when they wished to return from their meeting they 
said " Rentum, tormentum ! " If this form of the charm 
does not manufacture a horse, not even a saw-horse, 
then I recommend another version of it, thus : 

* Horse and pattock, horse and go ! 
Horse and pellats, ho, ho, ho ! 


German witches said (in Higli Dutch :) 

" Up and away ! 
Hi ! Up aloft, and nowhere stay ! " 

Scotch witches had modes of working destruction to 
the persons or property of those to whom they meant 
evil, which were strikingly like the negro obeah or 
mandinga. One of these was, to make a hash of the 
flesh of an unbaptised child, with that of dogs and sheep, 
and to put this goodly dish in the house of the victim, 
reciting the following rhyme : 

" We put this untill this hame 
In our Lord the Devil s name ; 
The first hands that handle thee, 
Burned and scalded may they be ! 
We will destroy houses and hald, 
With the sheep and nolt (i. e. cattle) into the fauld; 
And little shall come to the fore (i. e. remain,) 
Of all the rest of the little store." 

Another, used to destroy the sons of a certain gentle 
man named Gordon was, to make images for the boys, 
of clay and paste, and put them in a fire, saying : 

* We put this water among this meal 
For long pining and ill heal, 
We put it into the fire 

To burn them up stook and stour (i. e. stack and band.) 
That they be burned with our will, 
Like any stikkle (stubble) in a kiln." 

In case any lady reader finds herself changed into a 
hare, let her remember how the witch Isobel Gowdie 
changed herself from hare back to woman. It was by 
repeating : 

" Hare, hare, God send thee care ! 
I am in a hare s likeness now ; 
But I shall be woman even now 
Hare, hare, God send thee care ! " 


About the year 1600 there was both hanged and 
burned at Amsterdam a poor demented Dutch girl, who 
alleged that she could make cattle sterile, and bewitch 
pigs and poultry by saying to them i; Turius und Shur- 
ius Inturius." I recommend to say this first to an old 
hen, and if found useful it might then be tried on a pig. 

Not far from the same time a woman was executed 
as a witch at Bamberg, having, as was often, the case, 
been forced by torture to make a confession. She said 
that the devil had given her power to send diseases 
upon those she hated, by saying complimentary things 
about them, as "What a strong man ! " " what a beau 
tiful woman ! " " what a sweet child ! " It is my own 
impression that this species of cursing may safely be 
tried where it does not include a falsehood. 

Here are two charms which the German witches 
used to repeat to raise the devil with in the form of a 
he goat : 

"Lalle, Bachea, Magotte, Baphia, Dajam, 
Vagoth Heneche Ammi Nagaz, Adomator 
Raphael Immanuel Christus, Tetragrammaton 
Agra Jod Loi. Konig ! Kouig ! " 

The two last words to be screamed out quickly. 
This second one, it must be remembered, is to be read 
backward except the two last words. It was supposed 
to be the strongest of all, and was used if the first one 
failed ; 

" Anion, Lalle, Sabolos. Sado, Poter, Aziel, 
Adonai Sado Vagoth Agra, Jod, 
liaphra ! Komm ! Koinm ! " 

In case the devil staid too long, he could be made to 
take himself off by addressing to him the following 
statement, repeated backward : 


" Zellitmelle Heotti Bonus Vagotha 
Plisos sother osech unions Beelzebub 
Dax ! Komm ! Komm ! " 

"Which would evidently make almost anybody go 

A German charm to improve one s finances was per 
haps no worse than gambling in gold. It ran thus : 

" As God be welcomed, gentle moon 
Make thou my money more and soon ! " 

To get rid of a fever in the German manner, go and 
tie up a bough of a tree, saying, " Twig, I bind thee ; 
fever, now leave me ! " To give your ague to a willow 
tree, tie three knots in a branch of it early in the 
morning, and say, " Good morning, old one ! I give 
thee the cold ; good morning, old one ! " and turn and 
run away as fast as you can without lookino- back. 

/ * O 

Enough of this nonsense. It is pure mummery. 
Yet it is worth while to know exactly what the means 
were which in ancient times were relied on for such 
purposes, and it is not useless to put this matter on 
record ; for just such formulas are believed in now by 
many people. Even in this city there are " witches " 
who humbug the more foolish part of the community 
out of their money by means just as foolish as these. 



Bristol was, in 1812, the second commercial city of 
Great Britain, having in particular an extensive East 
India trade. Among its inhabitants were merchants, 
reckoned remarkably shrewd, and many of them very 
wealthy ; and quite a number of aristocratic families, 
who were looked up to with the abject toad-eating kind 
of civility that follows " the nobility." On the whole, 
Bristol was a very fashionable, rich, cultivated, and in 
telligent place considering. 

One fine evening in the winter of 1812-13, the 
White Lion hotel, a leading inn at Bristol, was thrown in 
to a wonderful flutter by the announcement that a very 
beautiful and fabulously wealthy lady, the Princess Car 
iboo, had just arrived by ship from an oriental port. Her 
agent, a swarthy and wizzened little Asiatic, who spoke 
imperfect English, gave this information, and ordered 
the most sumptuous suite of rooms in the house. Of 
course, there was great activity in all manner of prepar 
ations ; and the mysterious character of this lovely but 
high-born stranger caused a wonderful flutter of excite 
ment, which grew and grew until the fair stranger at 
length deigned to arrive. She carne at about ten 


o clock, in great state, and with two or three coaches 
packed with servants and luggage the former of sin 
gularly dingy complexion and fantastic vestments, and the 
latter of the most curious forms and material imaginable. 


The eager anticipations of hosts and guests alike were 
not only fully justified but even exceeded by the rare 
beauty of the unknown, the oriental style and magnifi 
cence of her attire and that of her attendants, and the 
enormous bulk of her baggage a circumstance that 
has no less weight at an English inn than any where 
else. The stranger, too, was most liberal with her fees 
to the servants, which were always in gold. 

It was quickly discovered that her ladyship spoke not 
one word of English, and even her agent a dark, wild, 
queer little fellow, got along with it but indifferently, 
preferring all his requests in very " broken China " in 
deed. The landlord thought it a splendid opportunity 
to create a long bill, and got up rooms and a dinner 
in flaring style, with wax candles, a mob of waiters, 
ringing of bells, and immense ceremony. But the lady, 
like a real princess, while well enough pleased and very 
gracious, took all this as a matter of course, and prefer 
red her own cook, a flat-faced, pug-nosed, yellow- 
breeched and almond-eyed Oriental, with a pigtail 
dangling from his scalp, which was shaved clean, ex 
cepting at the back of the head. This gentleman ran 
about in the kitchen-yard with queer little brass uten 
sils, wherein he concocted sundry diabolical preparations 
as they seemed to the English servants to be, of 
herbs, rice, curry powder, etc., etc., for the repast of his 
mistress. For the next three or four days, the White Lion 


was in a state bordering upon frenz} T , at the singular 
deportment of the " Princess " and her numerous at 
tendants. The former arrayed herself in the most 
astonishing combinations of apparel that had ever been 
seen by the good gossips of Bristol, and the latter in 
dulged in gymnastic antics and vocal chantings that 
almost deafened the neighborhood. There was a pecu 
liar nasal balla4 in which they were fond of indulging, 
that commenced about midnight and kept up until well 
nigh morning, that drove the neighbors almost beside 
themselves. It sounded like a concert by a committee 
of infuriated cats, and wound up with protracted whin 
ing notes, commencing in a whimper, and then with a 
sudden jerk, bursting into a loud, monotonous howl. 
Yet, withal, these attendants, who slept on mats, in the 
rooms adjacent to that of their mistress, and fed upon 
the preparations of her own cuisine, were, in the main, 
very civil and inoffensive, and seemed to look upon the 
Princess with the utmost awe. . The " agent," or 
" secretary," or " prime-minister, or whatever he 
might be called, was very mysterious as to the objects, 
purposes, history, and antecedents of her Highness, and 
the quidnuncs were in despair until, one morning, the 
" Bristol Mirror," then a leading paper, came out with a 
flaring announcement, expressing the pleasure it felt in 
acquainting the public with the fact, that a very emi 
nent and interesting foreign personage had arrived from 
her home in the remotest East to proffer His Majesty, 
George III, the unobstructed commerce and friendship 
of her realm, which was as remarkable for its untold 
wealth as for its marvelous beauty. The lady was de- 


scribed as a befitting representative of the loveliness 
and opulence of this new Golconda and Ophir in one, 
since her matchless wealth and munificence were ap 
proached only by her ravishing personal charms. The 
other papers took up the topic, and were even more ex 
travagant. " Felix Farley s Journal" gave a long nar 
rative of her wanderings and extraordinary adventures 
in the uttermost East, as gleaned, of course, from her 
garrulous agent. The island of her chief residence 
was described as being of vast extent and fertility, 
immensely rich and populous, and possessing many rare 
and beautiful arts unknown to the nations of Europe. 
The princess had become desperately enamored of a 
certain young Englishman of high rank, who had been 
shipwrecked on her coast, but had afterward escaped, 
and as she learned, safely reached a port in China, and 
thence departed for Europe. The Princess had here 
upon set out upon her journeyings over the world in 
search of him. In order to facilitate her enterprise, 
and softened by the deep affection she felt for the son 
of Albion, she had determined to break through the 
usages of her country, and form an alliance with that of 
her beloved. 

Such were the statements everywhere put in circula 
tion ; and when the Longbows of the place got full hold 
of it, Gulliver, Peter Wilkins, and Sinbad the Sailor 
were completely eclipsed. Diamonds as big as hen s 
eggs, and pearls the size of hazelnuts, were said to be 
the commonest buttons and ornaments the Princess 
wore, and her silks and shawls were set beyond all 



The announcement of this romantic and mysterious 
history, this boundless wealth, this interesting mission 
from majesty to majesty in person and the reality which 
every one could see of so much grace and beauty, sup 
plied all that was wanting to set the upper-tendom of 
the place in a blaze. It was hardly etiquette for a roy 
al visitor to receive much company before having been 
presented at Court; but as this princely lady came from 
a point so far outside of the pale of Christendom, and all 
its formalities, it was deemed not out of place, to show 
her befitting attentions ; and the ice once broken, there 
was no arresting the flood. The aristocracy of Bristol 
vied with each other in seeing who should be first and 
most extravagant in their demonstrations. The street 
in front of the " White Lion " was day after day blocked 
up, with elegant equipages, and her reception-rooms 
thronged with " fair women and brave men." Milliners 
and mantuarnakers pressed upon the lovely and myste 
rious Princess Cariboo the most exquisite hats, dresses, 
and laces, just to acquaint her with the fashionable 
style and solicit her distinguished patronage ; dry-goods- 
men sent her rare patterns of their costliest and richest 
stuffs, perfumers their most exquisite toilet-cases, filled 
with odors sweet ; jewellers, their most superb sets of 
gems ; and florists and visitors nearly suffocated her 
with the scarcest and most delicate exotics. Pictures, 
sketches, and engravings, oil-paintings, and portraits on 
ivory of her rapturous admirers, poured in from all 
sides, and her. own fine form and features were repro 
duced by a score of artists. Daily she was feted, and 
nightly serenaded, until the Princess Cariboo became the 


furore of the United Kingdom. Magnificent enter 
tainments were given her in private mansions ; and at 
length, to cap the climax, Mr Worrall, the Recorder of 
Bristol, managed, by his influence, to bring about for 
her a grand municipal reception in the town-hall, and 
people from far and near thronged to it in thousands. 

In the meantime the papers were gravely trying to 
make out whether the Cariboo country meant some re 
mote portion of Japan, or the Island of Borneo, or 
some comparatively unfamiliar archipelago in the re 
motest East, and the " Mirror " was publishing type ex 
pressly cut for the purpose of representing the charac 
ters of the language in which the Princess spoke and 
wrote. They were certainly very uncouth, and pre 
tended sages, who knew very well that there was no 
one to contradict them, declared that they were " an 
cient Coptic ! " 

Upon reading the sequel of the story, one is irresisti 
bly reminded of the ancient Roman inscription discovered 
by one of Dickens characters, which some irreverent 
rogue subsequently declared to be nothing more nor less 
than " Bil Stumps His Mark." 

All this went on for about a fortnight, until the whole 
town and a good deal of the surrounding country had 
made complete fools of themselves, and only the 
" naughty little boys " in the streets held out against 
the prevailing mania, probably because they were not 
admitted to the sport. Their salutations took the form 
of an inharmonious thoroughfare-ballad, the chorus of 
which terminated with : 


" Boo ! hoo ! hoo ! 
And who s the Princess Cariboo? " 

yelled out at the top of their voices. 

At length one day, the luggage of her Highness was 
embarked upon a small vessel to be taken round by 
water to London, while she announced, through her 
" agent," her intention to reach the capital by post- 

Of course, the most superb traveling-carriages and 
teams were placed at her disposal ; but, courteously de 
clining all these offers, she set out in the night-time 
with a hired establishment, attended by her retinue. 

Days and weeks rolled on, and yet no announcement 
came of the arrival of her Highness at London or at 
any of the intervening cities after the first two or three 
towns eastward of Bristol. Inquiry began to be made, 
and, after long and patient but unavailing search, it be 
came apparent to divers and sundry dignitaries in the 
old town that somebody had been very particularly 
" sold." 

The landlord at the " White Lion " who had accepted 
the agent s order for < 1,000 on a Calcutta firm in 
London ; poor Mr. Worrall, who had been Master of 
Ceremonies at the town hall affair, and had spent large 
sums of money ; and the tradespeople and others who 
sent their finest goods, all felt that they had " heard 
something drop." The Princess Cariboo had disap 
peared as mysteriously as she came. 

For years, the people of Bristol were unmercifully 
ridiculed throughout the entire Kingdom on account of 
this affair, and burlesque songs and plays immortalized 
its incidents for successive seasons. 


One of these insisted that the Princess was no other 
than an actress of more notoriety than note, humbly 
born in the immediate vicinity of the old city, where 
she practiced this gigantic hoax, and that she had been 
assisted in it by a set of dissolute young noblemen and 
actors, who furnished the money she had spent, got up 
the oriental dresses, published the fibs, and fomented 
the excitement. At all events, the net profit to her 
and her confederates in the affair must have been some 

Within a few months, and since the first publica 
tion of the above paragraphs, the English newspapers 
have recorded the death of the " Princess Cariboo," 
who it appears afterward married in her own rank in 
life and spent a considerable number of years of use 
fulness in the leech trade an occupation not without 
a metaphorical likeness to her early and more ambi 
tious exploit. 



One of the most striking, amusing, and instructive 
pan;es in the history of humbug is the life of Count Al- 
essandro di Cagliostro, whose real name was Joseph or 
Giuseppe Balsamo. He was born at Palermo, in 1743, 
and very early began to manifest his brilliant talents 
for roguery. 


He ran away from his first boarding-school, at the 
age of eleven or twelve, getting up a masquerade of 
goblins, by the aid of some scampish schoolfellows, 
which frightened the monkish watchmen of the gates 
away from their posts, nearly dead with terror. He 
had gained little at this school, except the pleasant sur 
name of Beppo Maldetto (or cursed Joe.) At the age 
of thirteen he was a second time expelled from the con 
vent of O artegirone, belonging to the order of Benfra- 
telli, the good fathers having in vain endeavored to train 
him up in the way he should go. 

While in this convent, the boy was in charge of the 
apothecary, and probably picked up more or less of the 
smattering of chemistry and physics which he after 
wards used. His final offence was a ridiculous and 
.characteristic one. He was a greedy and thievish fellow, 
and was by way of penalty set to read aloud about the 
ancient martyrs, those dry though pious old gentlemen, 
while the monks ate dinner. Thus put to what he liked 
least, and deprived of what he liked best, he impudently 
extemporized, instead of the stories of holy agonies, all 
the indecorous scandal he could think of about the more 
notorious disreputable women of Palermo, putting their 
names instead of those of the martyrs. 

After this, Master Joe proceeded to distinguish him 
self by forging opera-tickets, and even documents of 
various kinds, indiscriminate pilfering and swindling, 
interpreting visions, conjuring, and finally, it is declared, 
a touch of genuine assassination. 

Pretty soon he made a foolish, greedy goldsmith, one 
Marano, believe that there was a treasure hidden in the 


sand on the sea-shore near Palermo, and induced the 
silly man to go one night to dig it up. Having reached 
the spot, the dupe was made to strip himself to his shirt 
and drawers, a magic circle was drawn round him with all 
sorts of raw-head and bloody-bones ceremonies, and 
Beppo, exhorting him not to leave the ring, lest the 
spirits should kill him, stepped out of sight to make the 
incantations to raise them. Almost instantly, six devils, 
horned, hoofed, tailed, and clawed, breathing fire and 
smoke, leaped from among the rocks and beat the 
wretched goldsmith senseless, and almost to death. 
They were of course Cursed Joe and some confederates ; 
and taking Marano s money and valuables, they left 
him. He got home in wretched plight, but had sense 
enough left to suspect Master Joe, whom he shortly 
promised, after the Sicilian manner, to assassinate. So 
Joe ran away from Palermo, and went to Messina. 
Here he said he fell in with a venerable humbug, named 
Athlotas, an " Armenian Sage," who united his talents 
with Beppo s own, in making a peculiar preparation of 
flax and hemp and passing it off upon the people of Alex 
andria, in Egypt, as a new kind of silk. This feat made 
not only a sensation but plenty of money ; and the two 
swindlers now traversed Greece, Turkey, and Arabia, 
in various directions, stirring up the Oriental " old 
fogies " in amazing style. Harems and palaces, accord 
ing to Cagliostro s own apocryphal story, were thrown 
open to them everywhere, and while the Scherif of Mec- 
uca took Balsao under his high protection, one of the 
Grand Muftis actually gave him splendid apartments 
in his own abode. It is only necessary to reflect upon 


the unbounded reverence felt by all good Mussulmen for 
these exalted dignitaries, to comprehend the height of 
distinction thus attained by the Palermo thimble-rigger. 
But, among the many obscure records that exist in the 
Italian, French, and German languages, touching this 
arch impostor, there is a hint of a night adventure in the 
harem of a high and mighty personage, at Mecca, 
whereby the latter was put out of doors, with his robes 
torn and his beard singed, by his own domestics, and 
left to wander in the streets, while Beppo, in disguise, 
received the salaams and sequins of the establishment, 
including the attentions of the fair ones therein caged, 
for an entire night. His escape to the seacoast after this 
adventure was almost miraculous ; but escape he did, 
and shortly afterward turned up in Rome, with the ti 
tle (conferred by himself) of Count Cagliostro, the rep 
utation of enormous wealth, and genuine and enthusi 
astic letters of recommendation from Pinto, Grand 
Master of the Knights of Malta. Pinto was an alchy- 
mist, and had been fooled to the top of his bent by the 
cunning Joseph. 

These letters introduced our humbug into the first 
families of Rome ; who, like some other first families, 
were first also as fools. He also married a very beau 
tiful, very shrewd, and very wicked Roman donzella, 
Lorenza Feliciani by name ; and the worthy couple, 
combining their various talents, and regarding the world 
as their oyster, at once proceeded to open it in the most 
scientific style. I cannot follow this wonderful human 
chameleon in all his transformations under his various 
names of Fischio, Melissa, Feni.ce, Anna, Pellegrini, 


Harat, and Belmonte, nor state the studies and processes 
by which he picked up sufficient knowledge of physic, 
chemistry, the hidden properties of numbers, astronomy, 
astrology, mesmerism, clairvoyance, and the genuine old- 
fashioned " black art ;" but suffice it to say, that he 
travelled through every part of Europe, and set it in a 
blaze with excitement. 

There were always enough of silly coxcombs, young 
and old, of high degree, to be allured by the siren 
smiles of his " Countess ;" and dupes of both sexes eve 
rywhere, to swallow his yarns and gape at his juggle 
ries. In the course of his rambles, he paid a visit to his 
great brother humbug, the Count of St. Germain, in 
Westphalia, or Schleswig, and it was not long afterward 
that he began to publish to the world his grand discoveries 
in Alchemy, of the Philosopher s Stone, and the Elixir of 
Life, or Waters of Perpetual Youth. These and many 
similar wonders were declared to be the result of his in 
vestigations under the Arch of Old Egyptian Masonry, 
which degree he claimed to have revived. This notion 
of Egyptian Masonry, Cagliostro is said to have found 
in some manuscripts left by one George Cofton, which 
fell into our quack s hands. This degree was to give 
perfection to human beings, by means of moral and 
physical regeneration. Of these two the former was to 
be secured by means of a Pentagon, which removes orig 
inal sin and renews pristine innocence. The physical 
kind of regeneration was to be brought about by using 
the " prime matter " or philosopher s stone, and the 
" Acacia," which two ingredients will give immortal 
youth. In this new structure, he assumed the title of 


the " Grand Cophta " and actually claimed the worship 
of his followers ; declaring that the institution had been 
established by Enoch and Elias, and that lie had been 
summoned by " spiritual " agencies to restore it to its 
pristine glory. In fact, this pretension, which influenc 
ed thousands upon thousands -of believers, was one of 
the most daring impostures that ever saw the light ; 
and it is astounding to think that, so late as 1780, it 
should, for a long time, have been entirely successful. 
The preparatory course of exercises for admission to 
the mystic brotherhood has been described as a series of 
" purgation, starvation, and desperation," lasting for 
forty days ! and ending in " physical regeneration " 
and an immortality on earth. The celebrated Lavater, 
a mild and genial, but feeble man, became one of Caglios- 
tro s disciples, and was bamboozled to his heart s con 
tent in fact, made to believe that the Count could put 
the devil into him, or take him out, as the case might be. 

The wondrous " Water of Beauty," that made old 
wrinkled faces look young, smooth, and blooming again, 
was the special merchandise of the Countess, and was, 
of course, in great request among the faded beaux and 
dowagers of the day, who were easily persuaded of their 
own restored loveliness. The transmutation of baser 
metals into gold usually terminated in the transmigra- 
of all the gold his victims had into the Count s own 

In 1776, the Count and Countess came to London. 
Here, funnily enough, they fell into the hands of a 
gambler, a shyster, and a female scamp, who together 
tormented them almost to death, because the Count 


would no*, pick them put lucky numbers to gamble by. 
They persecuted him fairly into jail, and plagued and 
outswindled him so awfully, that, after a time, the poor 
Count sneaked back to the Continent with only fifty 
pounds left out of three thousand which he had brought 
with him. 

One incident of Cagliostro s English experience was 
the affair of the " Arsenical Pio-s " a notice of which 

"> f 

may be found in the " Public Advertiser," of London 
of September 3, 1786. A Frenchman named, 
was at that time editing there a paper in his own lan 
guage, entitled " Le Courrier de PEurope," and lost no 
opportunity to denounce the Count as a humbug. Cag- 
liostro, at length, irritated by these repeated attacks, 
published in the " Advertiser " an open challenge, offer 
ing to forfeit five thousand guineas if Morande should 
not be found dead in his bed on the morning after par 
taking of the flesh of a pig, to be selected by himself 
from among a drove fattened by the Count the cook 
ing, etc., all to be done at Morande s own house, and 
under his own eye. The time was fixed for this singu 
lar repast, but when it came round, the French Edit 
or " backed down " completely, to the great delight of 
his opponent and his credulous followers. 

Cagliostro and his spouse now resumed their travels 
upon the Continent, and, by their usual arts and trades, 
in a great measure renewed their fallen fortunes. 


Among other new dodges, he now assumed so super 
natural a piety that (he said) he could distinguish an 
unbeliever by the smell ! which, of course, was just the 
opposite of the " odor of sanctity." The Count s 


claim to have lived for hundreds of years was, by some, 
thoroughly believed. Pie ascribed his immortality to 
his own Elixir, and his comparatively youthful appear 
ance to his " Water of Beauty," his Countess readily 
assisting him by speaking of her son, a Colonel in the 
Dutch service, fifty years old, while she appeared 
scarcely more than twenty. 

At length, in Rome, he and the Countess fell into 
the clutches of the Holy Office ; and both having been 
tried for their manifold offences against the Church, 
were found guilty, and, in spite of their contrition and 
eager confessions, immured for life ; the Count with 
in the walls of the Castle of Sante Leone, irr the Duchy 
of Urbino, where, after eight years imprisonment, he 
died in 1795, and the Countess in a suburban convent, 
where she died some time after. 

The portraits of Cagliostro, of which a number are 
extant, are pictures of a strong-built, bull-necked, fat, 
gross man, with a snub nose, a vulgar face, a look of 
sensuality and low hypocritical cunning. 

The celebrated story of " The Diamond Necklace," 
in which Cagliostro, Marie Antoinette, the Cardinal de 
Rohan, and others were mixed in such a hodge-podge 
of rascality and folly, must form a narrative by itself. 



In my sketch of Joseph Balsamo, alias the Count 
Alessandro de Cagliostro, t referred to the affair of the 
diamond necklace, known in French history as the 
Collier de la Reine, or Queen s necklace, from the man 
ner in which the name and reputation of Marie An 
toinette, the consort of Louis XVI, became entangled 
in it. I shall now give a brief account of this celebrat 
ed imposition perhaps the boldest and shrewdest ever 
known, and almost wholly the work of a woman. 

On the Quai de la Ferraille, not far from the Pont 
Neuf, stood the establishment, part shop, part manufac 
tory, of Messrs. Boehmer & Bassange, the most cele 
brated jewelers of their day. After triumphs which had 
given them world-wide fame during the reign of 
Louis XV, and made them fabulously rich, they deter 
mined, with the advent of Louis XVI, to eclipse all 
their former efforts and crown the professional glory of 
their lives. Their correspondents in every chief jewel 
market of the world were summoned to aid their enter 
prise, and in the course of some two or three years they 
succeeded in collecting the finest and most remarkable 
diamonds that could be procured in the whole world of 

The next idea was to combine all these superb frag 
ments in one grand ornament to grace the form of 




beauty. A necklace was the article fixed upon, and 
the best experience and most delicate taste that Europe 
could boast were expended on the design. Each and 
every diamond was specially set and faced in such 
manner as to reveal its excellence to the utmost advan 
tage, and all were arranged together in the style best 
calculated to harmonize their united effecjt. Forin^ 
shape, and the minutest shades of color were studied, 
and the result, after many attempts and many failures.* 
and the anxious labor of many months, was the most 
exquisite triumph that the genius of the lapidary and 
the goldsmith could conceive. 

The \vhole necklace consisted of three triple rows 
of diamonds, or nine rows in all, containing eight hun 
dred faultless gems. The triple rows fell away from 
each in the most graceful and flexible curves over each 
side of the breast and each shoulder of the wearer, the 
curves starting from the throat, whence a magnificent 
pendant, depending from a single knot of diamonds, 
each as large as a hazel-nut, hung down half way upon 
the bosom in the design of a cross and crown, surround 
ed by the lilies of the royal house the lilies them 
selves dangling on stems which were strung with small 
er jewels. Rich clusters and festoons spread from the 
loop over each shoulder, and the central loop on the 
back of the neck was joined in a pattern of emblematic 
magnificence corresponding with that in front. 

It was in 1782 that this grand work was finally com 
pleted, and the happy owners gloated with delight over 
a monument of skill as matchless in its way as the Pyr 
amids themselves. But, alas ! the necklace might as 


well have been constructed of the common boulders 
piled in those same pyramids as of the finest jewels of 
the mine, for all the good it seemed destined to bring 
the poor jewelers, beyond the rapture of beholding it 
and calling it theirs. 

The necklace was worth 1,500,000 francs, equivalent 
to more than $300,000 in gold, as money then went, or 
nearly $500,000 in gold, now-a-days. Rather too large 
a sum to keep locked up in a casket, the reader will 
confess ! And then it seems that Messrs. Boehmer & 
Bassange had not entirely paid for it yet. They had 
ten creditors on the diamonds in different countries, and 
an immense capital still locked up in their other jewel 

Of course, then, after their first delight had subsided, 

they were most anxious to sell an article that had to be 
constantly and painfully watched, and that might so easily 
disappear. How many a nimble-fingered and stout 
hearted rogue would not, in those days, have imperiled a 
dozen lives to clutch that blazing handful of dross, con 
vertible into an elysium of pomp and pleasure ! It would 
hardly have been a safe noonday plaything in moral 
Gothaii:, let alone the dissolute Paris of eighty years 

The first thought, of course, that kindled in the 
breasts of Boehmer and Bassange was, that the only 
proper resting-place for their matchless bauble was the 
snowy neck of the Queen Marie Antionette, then the 
admired and beloved of all ! Her peerless beauty alone 
could live in the glow of such supernal splendor, and 
the French throne was the only one in Christendom 


that could sustain such glittering weight. Moreover, 
the Queen had already once been a good customer to 
the court jewelers, for in 1774 she bought four dia 
monds of them for 175,000. 

Louis XV would not have hesitated to fling it on the 
shoulders of the Du Barry, and Louis XVI, in spite of 
his odd notions upon economy and just administration, 
easily listened to the delicate insinuations of his court- 
jewelers ; and, one fine morning, laid the necklace in 
its casket on the table of his Queen. Her Majesty, for 
a moment, yielded to the promptings of feminine weak 
ness, and danced and laughed with the glee of an over 
joyed child in the new sunshine of those burning, spark 
ling, dazzling gems. Once and once only she placed it 
on her neck and breast, and probably the world has 
never before or since seen such a countenance in such a 
setting. It was almost the head of an angel shining in 
the glory of the spheres. But a better thought pre 
vailed, and quickly removing it, she, with a wave of 
her beautiful hand, declined the gift and besought the 
King to apply the sum to any other purpose that would 
be useful or honorable to France, whose finances were 
sadly straitened. " We want ships of war more than we 
do necklaces," said she. The King was really delight 
ed at this act of the Queen s, and the incident soon be 
coming widely known, gave the latter immense popu 
larity for at least twenty-four hours after it occurred. 
In fact, the amount was really applied to the construction 
of a grand line-of-battle ship called the Suffren, after 
the great Admiral of that name. 

Boehrner, who seems to have been the business man- 


ager of the jeweler firm, found his necklace as trouble 
some as the cobbler did the elephant he won in a raffle, 
and tried so perseveringly to induce the Queen to buy it, 
that he became a real torment. She seems to have 
thought him a little cracked on the subject ; and one 
day, when he obtained a private audience, he besought 
her either to buy the necklace or to let him go and 
drown himself in the Seine. Out of all patience, the 
Queen intimated that he would have been wiser to se 
cure a customer to begin with ; that she would not buy ; 
that if he chose to throw himself into the Seine it would 
be entirely on his own responsibility ; and that as for 
the necklace, he had better pick it to pieces and sell it. 
The poor German (for Boehmer was a native of Sax 
ony) departed in deep distress, but accepted neither his 
own sufwestion nor the Queen s. 

OO * 

For some months after this, the court jewelers 
busied themselves in peddling their necklace about 
among the courts of Europe. But none of these con 
cerns found it convenient just then to pay out three 
hundred and sixty thousand dollars for a concatenation 
of eight hundred diamonds ; and still the sparkling ele 
phant remained on the jewelers hands. 

Time passed on. Madame Campan, one of the 
Queen s confidential ladies, happened to meet Boehmer 
one day, and the necklace was alluded to. 

" What is the state of affairs about the necklace," 
asked the lady. 

fct> Highly satisfactory," replied Boehmer, whose seren 
ity of countenance Madame Campan had already re 
marked/ I have sold it to the Sultan at Constantiople, 
for his favorite Sultana." 


This the lady thought rather curious, but she was 
glad the thing was disposed of, and said no more. 

Time passed on again. In the beginning of August 
1785, Boehmer took the trouble to call on Madame 
Campan at her country-house, somewhat to her surprise. 

" Has the Queen given you no message for me? " he 

" No ! " said the lady ; What message should she 
give ? " 

" An answer to my note," said the jeweler. 

Madame remembered a note which the Queen had 
received from Boehmer a little while before, along with 
some ornaments sent by his hands to her as a present 
from the King. It congratulated her on having the 
finest diamonds in Europe, and hoped she would remem 
ber him. The Queen could make nothing of it, and 
destroyed it. Madame Campan therefore replied, 

44 There is no answer, the Queen burned the note. 
44 She does not even understand what you meant by 
writing that note." 

This statement very quickly elicited from the now 
startled German a story which astounded the lady. He 
said the Queen owed him the first instalment of the 
money for the diamond necklace; that she had bought 
it after all ; that the story about the Sultana was a lie 
told by her directions to hide the fact ; since the Queen 
meant to pay by instalments, and did not wish the pur 
chase known. And Boehmer said, she had employed the 
Cardinal de Rohan to buy the necklace for her, and it 
had been delivered to him for her, and by him to her. 

Now the Queen, as Madame Campan knew very 


well, had always strongly disliked this Cardinal ; he 
had even been kept from attending at Court in conse 
quence, and she had not so much as spoken to him for 
years. And so Madame Carapan told Boehmer, and 
further she told him he had been imposed upon. 

" No," said the man of sparklers decisively, " It is 
you who are deceived. She is decidedly friendly to the 
cardinal. I have myself the documents with her own 
signature authorizing the transaction, for I have had 
to let the bankers see them in order to get a little 
time on my own payments." 

Here was a monstrous mystification for the lady of 
honor, who told Boehmer to instantly go and see his 
official superior, the chief of the king s household. She 
herself being very soon afterwards summoned to the 
Queen s presence, the affair came up, and she told the 
Queen all she knew about it. Marie Antoinette was 
profoundly distressed by the evident existence of a 
great scandal and swindle, with which she was plainly 
to be mixed up through the forced signatures to the 

O O ?T5 

documents which Boehmer had been relying on. 

Now for the Cardinal. 

Louis de Rohan, a scion of the great house of Ro 
han, one of the proudest of France, was descended of 
the blood royal of Brittany ; was a handsome, proud, 
dissolute, foolish, credulous, unprincipled noble, now 
almost fifty years old, a thorough rake, of large reve 
nues, but deeply in debt. He was Peer of France, Arch 
bishop of Strasburg, Grand Almoner of France, Com 
mander of the Order of the Holy Ghost, Commendator 
of the benefice of St. Wast d Arras, said to be the most 



wealthy in Europe, and a Cardinal. He had been am 
bassador at Vienna a little after Marie Antoinette was 
married to the Dauphin, and while there had taken 
advantage of his official station to do a tremendous 
quantity of smuggling. He had also further and most 
deeply offended the Empress Maria Theresa, by out 
rageous debaucheries, by gross irreligion, and above all 
by a rather flat but in effect stingingly satirical descrip 
tion of her conduct about the partition of Poland. 
This she never forgave him, neither did her daughter 
Marie Antoinette ; and accordingly, when he presented 
himself at Paris soon after she became Queen, he re 
ceived a curt repulse, and an intimation that he had 
better go to Strasburg. 

Now in those days a sentence of exclusion from 
Court was to a French noble but just this side of a 
banishment to Tophet ; and de Rohan was just silly 
enough to feel this infliction most intensely. He went 
however, and from that time onward, for year after 
year, lived the life of a persevering Adam thrust out of 
his paradise, hanging about the gate and trying all pos 
sible ways to sneak in again. Once, for instance, he 
had induced the porter at the palace of the Trianon to 
let him get inside the grounds during an illumination, 
and was recognized by the glow of his cardinal s red 
stockings from under his cloak. But he was only 
laughed at for his pains ; the porter was turned off, and 
the poor silly miserable cardinal remained " out in the 
cold," breaking his heart over his exclusion from the 
most tedious mess of conventionalities that ever was 
contrived except those of the court of Spain. 


About 1783, this great fool fell in with an equally 
great knave, who must be spoken of here, where he be 
gins to converge alono- with the rest, towards the explo- 

cT* <""> ?T> I 

sion of the necklace swindle. This was Cagliostro, who 
at that time came to Strasburg and created a tremen 
dous excitement with his fascinating Countess, his 
Egyptian masonry, his Spagiric Food (a kind of Bran- 
dreth s pill of the period,) which he fed out to poor sick 
people, his elixir of life, and other humbugs. 

The Cardinal sent an intimation that he would like 
to see the quack. The quack, whose impudence was 
far greater than the Cardinal s pride, sent back this sub 
lime reply : " If he is sick let him come to me, and I 
will cure him. If he is well, he does not need to see 
me, nor I him." 

This piece of impudence made the fool of a cardinal 
more eager than ever. After some more affected shy 
ness, Cagliostro allowed himself to be seen. He was 
just the man to captivate the Cardinal, and they were 
quickly intimate personal friends, practising transmuta 
tion, alchemy, masonry, and still more particularly con 
ducting a great many experiments on the Cardinal s 
remarkably fine stock of Tokay wine. Whatever poor 
de Rohan had to do, he consulted Cagliostro about it, 
and when the latter went to Switzerland, his dupe main 
tained a constant communication with him in cipher. 

Lastly is to be mentioned Jeanne de St. Remi, 
Countess de Lamotte de Valois de France, the chief 
scoundrel, if the term may be used of a woman of 
the necklace affair. She seems to have been really a 
descendant of the royal house of Valois, to which 


Francis I. belonged ; through an illegitimate son of Hen 
ry II. created Count de St. Remi. The family had run 
down and become poor and rascally, one of Jeanne s 
immediate ancestors having practiced counterfeiting for 
a living. She herself had been protected by a certain 
kind hearted Countess de Boulainvilliers ; was receiv 
ing a small pension from the the Court of about $325 
a year; had married a certain tall soldier named 
Lamotte : had come to Paris, and was living in poverty 
in a garret, hovering about as it were for a chance to 
better her circumstances. She was a quick-witted, 
bright-eyed, brazen-faced hussy, not beautiful, but with 
lively pretty ways, and indeed somewhat fascinating. 

Her protectress, the countess de Boulainvilliers, was 
now dead ; while she was alive Jeanne had once visited 
her at de Rohan s palace of Saverne, and had thus 
scraped a slight acquaintance with the gay Cardinal, 
which she resumed during her abode at Paris. 

Everybody at Paris knew about the Diamond Neck 
lace, and about de Rohan s desire to get into court favor. 
This sharp-witted female swindler now came in among 
the elements I have thus far been describing, to frame 
necklace, jeweller, cardinal, queen, and swindler, all to 
gether into her plot, just as the key-stone drops into an 
arch and locks it up tight. 

No mortal knows where ideas come from. Suddenly 
a conception is in the mind, whence, or how, we do not 
know, any more than we know Life. The devil himself 
might have furnished that which now popped into the 
cunning, wicked mind of this adventuress. This is 
what she saw all at once ; 


Boelimer is crazy to sell his necklace. De Rohan is 
crazy after the Queen s favor. I am crazy after money. 
Now if I can make De Rohan think that the Queen 
wants the necklace, and will become his friend in re 
turn for his helping her to it ; if I can make him think 
I am her agent to him, then I can steal the diamonds 
in their transit. 

A wonderfully cunning and hardy scheme ! And 
most wonderful was the cool, keen promptitude with 
which it was executed. 

The countess began to hint to the cardinal that she 
was fast getting into the Queen s good graces, by virtue 
of being a capital gossip and story-teller ; and that she 
had frequent private audiences, Soon she added inti 
mations that the Queen was far from being really so 
displeased with the cardinal, as he supposed. At this 
the old fool bit instantly, and showed the keenest emo 
tions of hope and delight. On a further suggestion, he 
presently drew up a letter or memoir humbly and plain 
tively stating his case, which the countess undertook 
to put into the Queen s hands. It was the first of over 
two liundred notes from him, notes of abasement, be 
seeching argument, expostulation, and so on, all entrust 
ed to Jeanne. She burnt them, I suppose. 

In order to make her dupe sure that she told the 
truth about her access to the Queen, Jeanne more 
than once made him go and watch her enter a side gate 
into the grounds of the Trianon palace, to which she 
had somehow obtained a key ; and after waiting he saw 
her come out again, sometimes under the escort of a 
man, who was, she said one Desclos, a confidential 


valet of the Queen. This was Villette de Re*taux, a 
" pal" of Jeanne s and of her husband Lamotte, who had, 
by the way, become a low-class gambler and swindler 
by occupation. 

Next Jeanne talked about the Queen s charities ; and 
on one occasion, told how much the amiable Marie An 
toinette longed to expend certain sums for benevolent 
purposes if she only had them but she was out of 
funds, and the King was so close about money ! 

The poor cardinal bit again " If the Queen would 
only allow him the honor to furnish the little amount ! " 

The countess evidently had nt thought of that. She 
reflected hesitated. The cardinal urged. She con 
sented it was not much and was so kind as to 
carry the cash herself. At their next meeting she 
reported that the Queen was delighted, telling a very 
nice story about it. The cardinal would only be 
too happy to do so again. And sure enough he did, 
and quite a number of times too ; contributing in all to 
the funds of the countess in this manner, about 

Well : after a time the cardinal is at Strasburg, 
when he receives a note from the countess that brings 
him back again as quick as post-horses can carry him. 
It says that there is something very important, very 
sec.ret, very delicate, that the queen wants his help 
about. He is overflowing with zeal. What is it ? 
Only let him know his life, his purse, his soul, are at 
the service of his liege ladv. 

O / 

His purse is all that is needed. With infinite shy 
ness and circumspection, the countess gradually, half 


unwillingly, lets him find out that it is the diamond 
necklace that the Queen wants. By diabolical ingenui 
ties of talk she leads de Rohan to the full conviction 
that if he secures the Queen that necklace, he will 
thenceforward bask in all the sunshine of court favor 
that she can show or control. 

And at proper times sundry notes from the Queen 
are bestowed upon the enraptured noodle. These are 
written in imitation of the Queen s handwriting, by 
that Villette de Retaux who personated the Queen s 
valet, and who was an expert at counterfeiting. 

A last and sublime summit of impudent pretension 
is reached by a secret interview which the Queen, says 
the countess, desires to grant to her beloved servant the 
cardinal. This suggestion was rendered practicable by 
one of those mere coincidences which are found though 


rarely in history, and which are too improbable to put 
into a novel the casual discovery of a young woman 
of loose character who looked much like the Queen. 
Whether her name was d Essigny or Gay d Oliva, is un 
certain ; she is usually called by the latter. She was 
hired and taught ; and with immense precautions, this os 
trich of a cardinal \vas one night introduced into the gar 
dens of the Trianon, and shown a little nook among the 
thickets where a stately female in the similitude of the 
Queen received him with soft spoken words of kindly 
greeting, allowed him to kneel and kiss a fair and shape 
ly hand, and showed no particular timidity of any kind. 
Yet the interview had scarcely more than besjun before 
steps were heard. " Some one is coming," exclaimed 
the lady, " it is Monsieur and Madame d Artois We 


must part. There " she gave him a red rose " You 
know what that means ! Farewell ! " And away 
they went Mademoiselle d Oliva to report to her 
employers, and the cardinal, in a seventh heaven of 
ineffable tomfoolery, to his hotel. 

But the interview, and the lovely little notes that 
came sometimes, " fixed " the necklace business ! And 
if further encouragement had been needed, Cagliostro 
gave it. For the cardinal now consulted him about the 
future of the affair, having indeed kept him fully in 
formed about it for a long time, as he did of all matters 
of interest. So the quack set up his tabernacles of 
mummery in a parlor of the cardinal s hotel, and con 
ducted an Egyptian Invocation there all night long in 
solitude and pomp ; and in the morning he decreed (in 
substance) " go ahead." And the cardinal did so. 
Boehmer and Bassange were only too happy to bargain 
with the great and wealthy church and state dignitary. 
A memorandum of terms and time of payment was 
drawn up, and was submitted to the Queen. That is, 
swindling Jeanne carried it off, and brought it back, 
with an entry made by Villette de Retaux in the mar 
gin, thus : " Bon, bon Approuve, Marie Antoinette de 
France." That is, " Good, good I approve. Marie 
Antoinette de France." The payment was to be by 
instalments, at six months, and quarterly afterwards ; 
the Queen to furnish the money to the cardinal, while he 
remained ostensibly holden to the jewellers, she thus 
keeping out of sight. 

So the jewels were handed over to the cardinal de 
Rohan ; he took them one evening in great state to 


the lodgings of the countess, where with all imaginable 
formality there came a knock at the door, and when it 
was open a tall valet entered who said solemnly " On 
the part of the Queen ! De Rohan knew it was the 
Queen s confidential valet, for he saw with his own 
eves that it was the same man who had escorted the 
countess from the side gate at the Trianon ! And so it 
was; to wit, Villette de Retaux, who, calmly receiving 
the fifteen huudred thousand franc treasure, marched 
but as solemnly as he had come in. 

As that counterfeiting rascal goes out of the door, 
the diamond necklace itself disappears from our knowl 
edge. The swindle was consummated, but there is no 
whisper of the disposition of the spoils. Villette, and 
Jeanne s husband Lamotte, went to London and Am 
sterdam, and had some money there ; but seemingly no 
more than the previous pillages upon the cardinal might 
have supplied ; nor did the countess subsequent expen 
ditures show that she had any of the proceeds. 

But that is not the last of the rest of the parties to 
the affair, by any means. Between this scene and the 
time when the anxious Boehmer. havino- a little bill to 


meet, beset Madame Campan about his letter and the 
money the Queen was to pay him, there intervened six 
months. During that time countess Jeanne was 
smoothing as well as she could, with endless lies and 
contrivances, the troubles of the perplexed cardinal, 
who " could nt seem to see " that he was much better 
off in spite of his loyal performance of his part of the 

But this application by Boehmer, and the enormous 


swindle which it was instantly evident had been perpe 
trated on somebody or other, of course waked up a 
commotion at once. The baron de Breteuil, a deadly 
enemy of de Rohan, got hold of it all, and in his over 
powering eagerness to ruin his foe, quickly rendered the 
matter so public that it was out of the question to hush 
it up. It seems probable that Jeanne de Lamotte ex 
pected that the business would be kept quiet for the 
sake of the Queen, and that thus any very severe or 
public punishments would be avoided and perhaps no 
inquiries made. It is clear that this would have been 
the best plan, but de Breteuil s officiousness prevented 
it, and there was nothing for it but legal measures. De 
Rohan was arrested and put in the Bastile, having bare 
ly been able to send a message in German to his hotel 
to a trusty secretary, who instantly destroyed all the 
papers relating to the affair. Jeanne was also impris 
oned, and Miss Gay d Oliva and Villette de Retaux, 
being caught at Brussels and Amsterdam, were in like 
manner secured. As for Cagliostro, he was also im 
prisoned, some accounts saying that he ostentatiously 
gave himself up for trial. 

This was a public trial before the Parliament of Paris, 
with much form. 

The result was that the cardinal, appearing to be 
only fool, not knave, was acquitted. Gay d Oliva 
appeared to have known nothing except that she was 
to play a part, and she had been told that the Queen 
wanted her to do so, so she was let go. Villette was 
banished lor life. Lamotte, the countess husband, had 
escaped to England, and was condemned to the gal- 


leys in his absence, which didn t hurt him much. 
Cagliostro was acquitted. But Jeanne was sentenced to 
he whipped, branded on the shoulder with the letter V 
for Voleuse (thief), and banished. 

This sentence was executed in full, but with great 
difficulty ; for the woman turned perfectly furious on 
the public scaffold, flew at the hangman like a tiger, bit 
pieces out of his hands, shrieked, cursed, rolled on the 
floor, kicked, squirmed and jumped, until they held her 
by brute force, tore. down her dress, and the red hot 
iron going aside as she struggled, plunged full into her 
snowy white breast, planting there indelibly the horri 
ble black V, while she yelled like a fiend under the 
torment of the smoking brand. She fled away to Eng 
land, lived there some time in dissolute courses, and is 
said to have died in consequence of falling out of a 
window when drunk, or as another account states, of 
being flung out by the companions of her orgy, whom 
she had stung to fury by her frightful scolding. Before 
her death she put forth one or two memoirs, false, 
scandalous things. 

The unfortunate Queen never entirely escaped some 
shadow of disrepute from the necklace business. For 
to the very last, both on the trial and afterwards, 
Jeanne de Lainotte impudently stuck to it that at 
least the Queen had known about the trick played on 
the Cardinal at the Trianon, and had in fact been hid 
den close by and saw and laughed heartily at the whole 
interview. So sore and morbid was the condition of 
the public mind in France in those days, when symp 
toms of the coming Revolution were breaking out on 


every side, that this odious story found many and wil 

ling believers. 



Superior to Cagliostro, even in accomplishments, and 
second to him in notoriety only, was that human non 
descript, the so-called Count de St. Germain, whom Fred 
rick the Great called, " a man no one lias ever been 
able to make out." 

The Marquis de Crequy declares that St. Germain 
was an Alsatian Jew, Simon Wolff by name, and born 
at Strasburg about the close of the seventeenth or the 
beginning of the eighteenth century ; others insist that 
he was a Spanish Jesuit named Ayrnar ; and others 
again intimate that his true title was the Marquis de 
Betmar, and that he was a native of Portugal. The 
most plausible theory, however, makes him the natural 
son of an Italian princess, and fixes his birth at San 
Germane, in Savoy, about the year 1710 ; his ostensi 
ble father being one Rotondo, a tax-collector of that 

This supposition is borne out by the fact that he 
spoke all his many languages with an Italian accent. 
It was about the year 1750 that he first began to be 
heard of in Europe as the Count St. Germain, and put 
forth the astounding pretensions that soon gave him ce- 


lebrity over the whole continent. The celebrated Mar 
quis de Belleisle made his acquaintance about that time 
in Germany, and brought him to Paris, where he was 
introduced to Madame de Pompadour, whose favor he 
very quickly gained. The influence of that famous 
beauty was just then paramount with Louis XV, and 
the Count was soon one of the most eminent men at 
court. He was remarkably handsome as an old por 
trait at Friersdorf, in Saxony, in the rooms he once oc 
cupied, sufficientlv indicated ; and his musical accom 
plishments, added to the ineffable charm of his manners 
and conversation, and the miracles he performed, ren 
dered him an irresistible attraction, especially to the 
ladies, who appear to have almost idolized him. Endow 
ed with an enchanting voice, he could also play every 
instrument then in vogue, but especially excelled upon 
the violin, which he could handle in such a manner as 
to give it the effect of a small orchestra. Cotemporary 
writers declare that, in his more ordinary performances, 
a connoisseur could distinctly hear the separate tones of 
a full quartet when the count was extemporizing on his 
favorite Cremona. His little work, entitled " La Musi- 
que Raisonnee, published in England, for private circu 
lation only, bears testimony to his musical genius, and 
to the wondrous eccentricity, as well as beauty, of his 
conceptions. But it was in alectromancy, or divination 
by signs and circles ; hydromancy, or divination by 
water; cleidomancy, or divination by the kev, and 
dactylomancy, or divination by the fingers, that the 
count chiefly excelled, although he, at the same time, 
professed alchemy, astrology, and prophecy in the high 
er branches. 


The fortunes of the Count St. Germain rose so rapid 
ly in France, that in 1760 he was sent by Louis XV, to 
the Court of England, to assist in negotiations for a 
peace. M. de Choiseul, then Prime Minister of 
France, however, greatly feared and detested the 
Count ; and secretly wrote to Pitt, begging the latter 
to have that personage arrested, as lie was certainly a 
Russian spy. But St. Germain, through his attendant 
sprites, of course, received timely warning, and escaped 
to the Continent. In England, he was the inseparable 
friend of Prince Lobkowitz a circumstance that gave 
some color to his alleged connection with the Russians. 
His sojourn there was equally distinguished by his devo 
tion to the ladies, and his unwavering success at the 
gaming-table, where he won fabulous sums, which were 
afterward dispensed with imperial munificence. It was 
there, too, that he put forward his claims to the highest 
rank in Masonry ; and, of course, added, thereby, im 
mensely to the eclat of his position. He spoke English, 
French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Russian, 
Polish, the Scandinavian, and many of the Oriental 
tongues, with equal fluency ; and pretended to have 
traveled over the whole earth, and even to have visited 
the most distant starry orbs frequently, in the course of 
a lifetime which, with continual transmigrations, he de 
clared to have lasted for thousands of years. His birth, 
he said, had been in Chaldea, in the dawn of time ; and 
that he was the sole inheritor of the lost sciences and 
mysteries of his own and the Egyptian race. He 
spoke of his personal intimacy with all the twelve Apos 
tles and even the august presence of the Savior; 


and one of his pretensions would have been most singu 
larly amusing, had it not bordered upon profanity. 
This was no less an assertion than that he had upon 
several occasions remonstrated with the Apostle Peter 
upon the irritability of his temperament ! In regard 
to later periods of history, he spoke with the careless 
ease of an every-day looker on ; and told anecdotes that 
the researches of scholars afterwards fully verified. 
His predictions were, indeed, most startling ; and the 
cotemporaneous evidence is very strong and explicit, 
that he did foretell the time, place, and manner of the 
death of Louis XV, several years before it occurred. 
His gift of memory was perfectly amazing. Having 
once read a journal of the day, he could repeat its con 
tents accurately, from beginning to end ; and to this 
endowment he united the faculty of writing with both 
hands, in characters like copperplate. Thus, he could 
indite a love-letter with his right while he composed a 
verse with his left hand, and, apparently, with the ut 
most facility a splendid acquisition for the Treasury 
Department or a literary newspaper ! He would, how 
ever, have been ineligible for any faithful Post Office, 
since he read the contents of sealed letters at a glance ; 
and, by his clairvoyant powers, detected crime, or, in 
fact, the movements of men and the phenomena of na 
ture, at any distance. Like all the great Magi, nnd 
Brothers of the Rosy Cross, of whom he claimed to be 
a shining light, he most excelled in medicine ; and 
along with remedies for " every ill that flesh is heir to," 
boasted his " Aqua Benedetta" as the genuine elixir of 
life, capable of restoring youth to age, beauty and 


strength to decay, and brilliant intellect to the exhaust 
ed brain ; and, if properly applied, protracting human 
existence through countless centuries. As a proof of 
its virtues, he pointed to his own youthful appearance, 
and the testimony of old men who had seen him sixty 
or seventy years earlier, and who declared that time 
had made no impression on him. Strangely enough, 
the Margrave of Anspach, of whom I shall presently 
speak, purchased what purported to be the recipe of the 
" Aqua Benedetta," from John Dyke, the English 
Consul at Leghorn, towards the close of the last centu 
ry ; and copies of it are still preserved with religious 
care and the utmost secrecy by certain noble families 
in Berlin and Vienna, where the preparation has been 
used (as they believe) with perfect success against a 
host of diseases. 

Still another peculiarity of the Count would be high 
ly advantageous to any of us, particularly at this peri 
od of high prices and culinary scarcity. He never ate 
nor drank ; or, at least, he was never seen to do so ! 
It is said that boarding house regime in these days is 
rapidly accustoming a considerable class of our fellow- 
citizens to a similar condition, but I can scarcely be 
lieve it. 

Again, the Count would fall into cataleptic swoons, 
which continued often for hours, and even days; and, 
during these periods, he declared that he visited, in spir 
it, the most remote regions of the earth, and even the 
farthest stars, and would relate, with astonishing power, 
the scenes he there had witnessed ! 

He, of course, laid claim to the transmutation of 


baser metals into gold, and stated that, in 1755, while 
on a visit to India, to consult the erudition of the Hin 
doo Brahmins, he solved, by their assistance, the prob 
lem of the artificial crystallization of pure carbon or, 
in other words, the production of diamonds ! One 
thing is certain, viz. : that upon a visit to the French 
ambassador to the Hague, in 1780, he, in the presence 
of that functionary, induced him to believe and testify 
that he broke to pieces, with a hammer, a superb dia 
mond, of his own manufacture, the exact counterpart 
of another, of similar origin, which he had just sold for 
5,500 louis d or. 

His career and transformations on the Continent 
were multiform. In 1762, he was mixed up with the 
dynastic conspiracies and changes at St. Petersburg ; 
and his importance there was indicated ten years later, 
by the reception given to him at Vienna by the Russian 
Count Orloff, who accosted him joyously as " caro pa 
dre " (dear father,) and gave him twenty thousand 
golden Venetian sequins. 

From Petersburg he went to Berlin, where he at once 
attracted the attention of Frederick the Great, who 
questioned Voltaire about him ; the latter replying, as 
it is said, that he was a man who knew all things, and 
would live to the end of the world a fair statement, 
in brief, of the position assumed by more than one of 
our ward politicians ! 

In 1774, he took up his abode at Schwabach, in Ger 
many, under the name of Count Tzarogy, which is a 
transposition of Ragotzy, a well-known noble name. 
The Margrave of Anspach met him at the house of his 


favorite Clairon, the actress, and became so fond of him, 
that he insisted upon his company to Italy. On his 
return, he went to Dresden, Leipzig, and Hamburg, and 
finally to Eckernfiorde, in Schleswig, where he took up 
his residence with the Landgrave Karl of Hesse ; and 
at length, in 1788, tired, as he said, of life, and dis 
daining any longer immortality, he gave up the ghost. 

It was during St. Germain s residence in Schleswig 
that he was visited by the renowned Cagliostro, who 
openly acknowledged him as master, and learned many 
of his most precious secrets from him among others, 
the faculty of discriminating the character by the hand 
writing, and of fascinating birds, animals, and reptiles. 

To trace the wanderings of St. Germain is a difficult 
task, as he had innumerable aliases, and often totally 
disappeared tor months together. In Venice, he was 
known as the Count de BelJamare ; at Pisa, as the 
Chevalier de Schoening ; at Milan, as the Chevalier 
Welldone ; at Genoa, as the Count Soltikow, etc. 

In all these journeys, his own personal tastes were 
quiet and simple, and he manifested more attachment 
for a pocket-copy of Guarini s "Pastor Fido " his 
only library than for any other object in his posses 

On the whole., the Count de St. Germain was a man 
of magnificent attainments, but the use he made of his 
talents proved him to be also a most magnificent hum 



The most gorgeous, and with one sole exception the 
most glorious reign that France has known, so far as 
military success is concerned, was that of Louis XIV, 
the Grand Monarque. His was the age of lavish ex 
penditure, of magnificent structures, grand festivals, 
superb dress and equipage, aristocratic arrogance, bril 
liant campaigns, and great victories. It was, more 
over, particularly distinguished for the number and 
high character of the various special embassies sent to 
the court of France by foreign powers. Among these, 
Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Venice ri 
valed each other in extravagant display and pomp. 
The singular and really tangible imposture I am about 
to describe, practiced at such a period and on such a 
man as Louis of France, was indeed a bold, and dashing 

" L Etat c est moi " "I am the State," was Louis* 
celebrated and very significant motto ; for in his own 
hands he had really concentrated all the powers of the 
realm, and woe to him who trifled with a majesty so 
real and so imperial ! 

However, notwithstanding all this imposing strength, 

this mighty domineering will, and this keen intelligence, 

a man was found bold enough to brave them all in the 

arena of pure humbug. It was toward the close of the 



year 1667, when Louis, in the plenitude of military 
success, returned from his campaign in Flanders, where 
his invincible troops had proven too much for the broad 
breeched but gallant Dutchmen. In the short space of 
three months he had added whole provinces, including 
some forty or fifty cities and towns, to his dominions ; 
and his fame was ringing throughout Christendom. It 
had even penetrated to the farthest East ; and the King 
of Siam sent a costly embassy from his remote kingdom, 
to offer his congratulations and fraternal greeting to the 
most eminent potentate of Europe. 

Louis had already removed the pageantries of his 
royal household to his magnificent new palace of Ver 
sailles, on which the- wealth of conquered kingdoms had 
been lavished, and there, in the Great Hall of Mirrors, re 
ceived the homage of his own nobles and the ambassa 
dors of foreign powers. The utmost splendor of which 
human life was susceptible seemed so common and fa 
miliar in those days, that the train was dazzling indeed 
that could excite any very particular attention. What 
would have seemed stupendous elsewhere was only in 
conformity with all the rest of the scene at Versailles. 
But, at length, there came something that made even 
the pampered courtiers of the new Babylon stare a 
Persian embassy. Yes, a genuine, actual, living envoy 
from that wonderful Empire in the East, which in her 
time had ruled the whole Oriental world, and still re 
tained almost fabulous wealth and splendor. 

It was announced formally, one morning, to Louis, 
that His Most Serene Excellency, Riza Bey, with an 
interminable tail of titlejs, hangers-on and equipages, 


had reached the port of Marseilles, having journeyed by 
way of Trebizond and Constantiople, to lay before the 
great " King of the Franks" brotherly congratulations 
and gorgeous presents from his own illustrious master, 
the Shah of Persia. This was something entirely to 
the taste of the vain French ruler, whom unlimited good 
fortune had inflated beyond all reasonable proportions. 
He firmly believed that he was by far the greatest man 
who had ever lived ; and had an embassy from the moon 
or the planet Jupiter been announced to him, would 
have deemed it not only natural enough, but absolutely 
due to his preeminence above all other human beings. 
Nevertheless, he was, secretly, immensely pleased with 
the Persian demonstration, and gave orders that no ex 
pense should be spared in giving the strangers a recep 
tion worthy of himself and France. 

It would be needless for me to detail the events of the 
progress of Riza Bey from Marseilles to Paris, by way 
of Avignon and Lyons. It was certainly in keeping 
with the pretensions of the Ambassador. From town 
to town the progress was a continued ovation. Tri 
umphal arches, bonfires, chimes of bells, and hurrahing 
crowds in their best bibs and tuckers, military parades 
and civic ceremonies, everywhere awaited the children 
of the farthest East, who were stared at. shouted at 
and by some wretched cynics sneered and laughed at 
to their hearts content. All modern glory very largely 
consists in being nearly stunned with every species of 
noise, choked with dust, and dragged about through the 
streets, until you are well nigh dead. Witness the 
Japanese Embassy and their visit to this country, where, 


in some cases, the poor creatures, after hours of unmiti 
gated boring with all sorts of mummery, actually had 
their pigtails pulled by Young America in the rear, and 
as at the windows of Wi Hard s Hotel in Wash in or- 


ton were stirred up with long canes, like the Polar 
Bear or the Learned Seal. 

Still Iliza Bey and his dozen or two of dusky 
companions did not, by any means, cut so splendid a 
figure as had been expected. They had with them 
some camels, antelopes, bulbuls, and monkeys like any 
travelling caravan, and were dressed in the most outra 
geous and outlandish attire. They jabbered, too, a 
gibberish utterly incomprehensible to the crowd, and 
did everything that had never been seen or clone before. 
All this, however, delighted the populace. Had they 
been similarly transmogrified, or played such queer 
pranks themselves, it would only have been food for 
mockery ; but the foreign air and fame of the thing 
made it all wonderful, and, as the chief rogue in the 
plot had foreseen, blinded the popular eye and made his 
" embassy " a complete success. 

At length, after some four weeks of slow progress, 
the " Persians " arrived at Paris, where they were re 
ceived, as had been expected, with tremendous eclat. 
They entered by Barrio* re du Trcme, so styled because 
it was there that Louis Quatorze himself had been re 
ceived upon a temporary throne, set up, with splendid 
decorations and triumphal arches, in the open air, when 
he returned from his Flanders campaign. Riza Bey was 
upon this occasion a little more splendid than he had 
been on his way from the sea-coast, and really loomed 


up in startling style in his tall, black, rimless hat of 
wool, shaped precisely like an elongated flower-pot, 
and his silk robes dangling to his heels and covered 
with huge painted figures and bright metal decorations 
of every shape and size unknown, to European man- 
millinery. A circlet or collar, apparently of gold, set 
with precious stones (California diamonds !) surrounded 
his neck, and monstrous glittering rings covered all the 
fingers, and even the thumbs of both his hands. His 
train, consisting of sword, cup, and pipe bearers, doc 
tors, chief cooks, and bottle-washers, cork extractors 
and chiropodists (literally so, for it seems that sharing 
the common lot of humanity, great men have corns 
even in Persia,) were similarly arrayed as to fashion, 
but less stupendously in jewelry. 

Well, after the throng had scampered, crowded, and 
shouted themselves hoarse, and had straggled to their 
homes, sufficiently tired and pocket-picked, the Ambas 
sador and his suite were lodged in sumptuous apartments 
in the old royal residence of the Tuileries, under the 
care and charge of King Louis own assistant Major- 
Domo and a guard of courtiers and regiments of Royal 
Swiss. Banqueting and music filled up the first eve 
ning ; and upon the ensuing day His Majesty, who thus 
did his visitors especial honor, sent the Due de Riche 
lieu, the most polished courtier and diplomatist in France, 
to announce that he would graciously receive them on 
the third evening at Versailles. 


Meanwhile the most extensive preparations were 
made for the grand audience thus accorded ; and 
when the appointed occasion had arrived, the entire 


Gallery of Mirrors with all the adjacent spaces and cor 
ridors, were crowded with the beauty, the chivalry, 
the wit, taste, and intellect of France at that dazzling 
period. The gallery, which is three hundred and eighty 
feet in length by fifty in height, derives its name from 
the priceless mirrors which adorn its walls, reaching from 
floor to ceiling, opposite the long row of equally tall 
and richly mullioned windows that look into the great 
court and gardens. These windows, hung with the 
costliest silk curtains and adorned with superb histori 
cal statuary, give to the hall a light and aerial appear 
ance indescribably enchanting ; while the mirrors reflect 
in ten thousand variations the hall itself and its moving 
pageantry, rendering both apparently interminable. 
Huge marble vases filled with odorous exotics lined the 
stairways, and twelve thousand wax lights in gilded 
brackets, and chandeliers of the richest workmanship, 
shone upon three thousand titled heads. 

Louis the Great himself never appeared to finer ad 
vantage. His truly royal countenance was lighted up 
with pride and satisfaction as the Envoy of the haughty 
Oriental king approached the splendid throne on which 
he sat, and as he descended a step to meet him and 
stood there in his magnificent robes of state, the Per 
sian envoy bent the knee, and with uncovered head pre 
sented the credentials of his mission. Of the crowd 
that immediately surrounded the throne, it is something 
to say that the Grand Colbert, the famous Minister, 
and the Admiral Duquesne were by no means the most 
eminent, nor the lovely Duchess of Orleans and her 
companion, the bewitching Mademoiselle de Kerouaille, 


who afterward changed the policy of Charles II, of Eng 
land, by no means the most beautiful personages in the 

A grand ball and supper concluded this night of 
splendor, and Riza Bey was> fairly launched at the 
French court ; every member of which, to please the 
King, tried to outvie his compeers in the assiduity of 
his attentions, and the value of the books, pictures, 
gems, equipages, arms, &c, which they heaped upon the 
illustrious Persian. The latter gentleman very quietly 
smoked his pipe and lounged on his divan before com 
pany, and diligently packed up the goods when he and 
his "jolly companions " were left alone. The presents 
of the Shah had not yet arrived, but were daily expect 
ed via Marseilles, and from time to time the olive-colored 
suite was diminished by the departure of one of the 
number with his chest on a special mission (so stated) 
to England, Austria, Portugal, Spain, and other Euro 
pean powers. 

In the meantime, the Bey was feted in all directions, 
with every species of entertainment, and it was whis 
pered that the fair ones of that dissolute court were, 
from the first, eager in the bestowal of their smiles. 
The King favored his Persian pet with numerous per 
sonal interviews, at which, in broken French, the En 
voy unfolded the most imposing schemes of Oriental 
conquest and commerce that his master was cordially 
willing to share with his great brother of France. At 
one of these chatty tete-4-tetes, the munificent Riza 
Bey, upon whom the King had already conferred his 
own portrait set in diamonds, and other gifts worth sev- 


eral millions of francs, placed in the Royal hand seve- 
eral superb fragments of opal and turquoise said to 
have been found in a district of country bordering on 
the Caspian sea, which teemed with limitless treasures 
of the same kind, and which the Shah of Persia pro 
posed to divide with France for the honor of her alli 
ance. The king was enchanted ; for these mere speci 
mens, as they were deemed, must, if genuine, be worth 
in themselves a mint of money ; and a province full of 
such why, the thought was charming ! 

Thus the great King-fish was fairly hooked, and 
Riza Bey could take his time. The golden tide that 
flowed in to him did not slacken, and his own expenses 
were all provided for at the Tuileries. The only thing 
remaining to be done was a grand foray on the tradesmen 
of Paris, and this was splendidly executed. The most 
exquisite wares of all descriptions were gathered in, 
without mention of payment; and one by one the Per 
sian phalanx distributed itself through Europe until 
only two or three were left with the Ambassador. 

At length, word was sent to Versailles that the gifts 
from the Shah had come, and a day was appointed for 
their presentation. The day arrived, and the Hall of 
Audience was again thrown open. All was jubilee ; 
the King and the court waited, but no Persian no 
Riza Rey no presents from the Shah ! 

That morning three men, without either caftans or 
robes, but very much resembling the blacklegs of the 
day in their attire and deportment, had left the Tuiler 
ies at daylight with a bag and a bundle, and returned 
no more. They were Riza Bey and his last body-guard ; 


the bag* and the bundle were the smallest in bulk but 
the most precious in value of a month s successful plun 
der. The turquoises and opals left with the King 
turned out, upon close inspection, to be a new and very 
ingenious variety of colored glass, now common enough* 
and then worth, if anything, about thirty cents in cash. 

Of course, a hue and cry was raised in all directions, 
but totally in vain. Riza Bey, the Persian Shah, and 
the gentlemen in flower-pots, had " gone glimmering 
through the dream of things that were." L etat c est 
moi had been sold for thirty cents ! It was afterward 
believed that a noted barber and suspected bandit at 
Leghorn, who had once really traveled in Persia, and 
there picked up the knowledge and the ready money 
that served his turn, was the perpetrator of this pretty 
joke and speculation, as he disappeared from his native 
city about the time of the embassy in France, and did 
not return. 

All Europe laughed heartily at the Grand Monarque 
and his fair court-dames, and " An Embassy from Per 
sia " was for many years thereafter an expression sim 
ilar to " Walker ! " in English, or " Buncombe ! " in 
American conversation, when the party using it seeks to 
intimate that the color of his optics is not a distinct pea- 

green ! 







There is a story that on a great and solemn public 
occasion of the Romish Church, a Pope and a Cardinal 
were, with long faces, performing some of the gyrations 
of the occasion, when, instead of a pious ejaculation and 
reply, which were down in the programme, one said to 
the other gravely, in Latin " mundus vult decipi;" and 
the other replied, with equal gravity and learning, 
" decipiatur ergo : " that is, " All the world chooses to 
be fooled." " Let it be fooled then." 

This seems, perhaps, a reasonable way for priests to 
talk about ignorant Italians. It may seem inapplicable 
to cool, sharp, school-trained Protestant Yankees. It 
is not, however at least, not entirely. Intelligent 
Northerners have, sometimes, superstition enough in 
them to make a first-class Popish saint. If it had not 
been so, I should not have such an absurd religious 
humbug to tell of as Robert Matthews, notorious in 
our goodly city some thirty years ago as " Matthias, 
the Impostor." 

In the summer of 1832, there was often seen riding 


in Broadway, in a handsome barouche, or promenading 
on the Battery (usually attended by a sort of friend 
or servant,) a tall man, of some forty years of age, 
quite thin, with sunken, sharp gray eyes, with long, 
coarse, brown and gray hair, parted in the middle and 
curling on his shoulders, and a long and coarse but well- 
tended beard and mustache. These Esau-like adorn 
ments attracted much attention in those close-shaving 
days. He was commonly dressed in a fine green frock- 
coat, lined with white or pink satin, black or green pan 
taloon s, with polished Wellington boots drawn on out 
side, fine cambric ruffles and frill, and a crimson silk 
sash worked with gold and with twelve tassels, for the 
twelve tribes of Israel. On his head was a steeple- 
crowned patent-leather shining black cap with a shade. 
Thus bedizened, this fantastic-looking personage 
marched gravely up and down, or rode in pomp in the 
streets. Sometimes he lounged in a bookstore or other 
place of semi-public resort ; and in such places he often 
preached or exhorted. His preachments were sufficient 
ly horrible. He claimed to be God the Father ; and 
his doctrine was, in substance, this : " The true king 
dom of God on earth began in Albany in June 1880, 
and will be completed in twenty-one years, or by 1851. 
During this time, wars are to stop, and I, Matthias, am 
to execute the divine judgments and destroy the wicked. 
The day of grace is to close on December 1, 1836 ; 
and all who do not begin to reform by that time, I shall 
kill." The discourses by which this blasphemous 
humbug supported his pretensions were a hodge-podge 
of impiety and utter nonsense, with rants, curses and 


cries, and frightful threats against all objectors. Here 
is a passage from one ; " All who eat swine s flesh 
are of the devil ; and just as certain as he eats it lie 
will tell a lie in less than half an hour. If you eat a 
piece of pork, it will go crooked through you, and the 
Holy Ghost will not stay in you ; but one or the other 
must leave the house pretty soon. The pork will be as 
crooked in you as rams horns." Again, he made these 
pleasant points about the ladies : " They who teach 
women are of the wicked. All females who lecture 
their husbands their sentence is : 4 Depart, ye wicked, 
I know you not/ Everything that has the smell of 
woman will be destroyed. Woman is the cap-sheaf of 
the abomination of desolation, full of all deviltry." 
There, ladies ! Is anything further necessary to con 
vince you what a peculiarly wicked and horrible hum 
bug this fellow was ? 

If we had followed this impostor home, we should have 
found him lodged, during most of his stay in New- York 
city, with one or the other of his three chief disciples. 
These were Pierson, who commonly attended him 
abroad, Folger, and for a time only Mills. All 
three of these men were wealthy merchants. In their 
handsome and luxuriously-furnished homes, this noxious 
humbug occupied the best rooms, and controlled the 
whole establishment, directing the marketing, meal 
times, and all other household-matters, Master, mistress 
(in Mr. Folger s home,) and domestics were disciples, 
and obeyed the scamp with an implicitness and prostrate 
humility even more melancholy than absurd, both as to 
housekeeping and as to the ceremonies, washing of feet, 


etc., which he enjoined. When he was angry with his fe 
male disciples, he frequently whipped them ; but, being 
a monstrous coward, he never tried it on a man. The 
least opposition or contradiction threw him into a great 
rage, and set him screaming, and cursing, and gesticula 
ting like any street drab. When he wished more clothes, 
which was pretty often, one of his dupes furnished the 
money. . When he wanted casli for any purpose in 
deed, they gave it him. 

This half-crazy knave and abominable humbug was 
Robert Matthews, who called himself Matthias. He 
was of Scotch descent, and born about 1790, in Wash 
ington county, New York ; and his blood was tainted 
with insanity, for a brother of his died a lunatic. He 
was a carpenter and joiner of uncommon skill, and up 
to nearly his fortieth year lived, on the whole, a useful 
and respectable life, being industrious, a professing 
Christian of good standing, and (having married in 
1813) a steady family-man. In 1823 and 1829, while 
living at Albany, he gradually became excited about re 
ligious subjects; his first morbid symptoms appearing 
after hearing some sermons by Rev. E. N. Kirk, and 
Mr. Finney the revivalist. He soon began to exhort 
his fellow-journeymen instead of minding his work, so 
uproariously that his employer turned him away. 

He discovered a text in the Bible that forbid Chris 
tians to shave. He let his hair and beard grow ; began 
street-preaching in a noisy, brawling style ; announced 
that he was going to set about converting the whole 
city of Albany which needed it badly enough, if we 
may believe the political gentlemen. Finding however, 


that the Lobby, or the Regency, or something or othei 
about the peculiar wickedness of Albany, was altogether 
too much for him, he began, like Jonah at Nineveh, to 
announce the destruction of the obstinate town ; and at 
midnight, one night in June, 1826, he waked up his 
household, and saying that Albany was to be destroyed 
next day, took his three little boys two, four, .and 
six years old his wife and oldest child (a daughter re 
fusing to go,) and " fled to the mountains." He actu 
ally walked the poor little fellows fort} miles in twenty- 
four hours, to his sister s in Washington county. Here 
lie was reckoned raving crazy ; was forcibly turned 
out of church for one of his brawling interruptions of 
service, and sent back to Albany, where he resumed 
his street-preaching more noisily than ever. He now 
began to call himself Matthias, and claimed to be a 
Jew. Then he went on a long journey to the Western 
and Southern States, preaching his doctrines, getting in 
to jail, and sometimes fairly cursing his way out ; and, 
returning to New York city, preached up and down 
the streets in his crazy, bawling fashion, sometimes on 
foot and sometimes on an old bony horse. 

His New York city dupes, Elijah Pierson and Ben 
jamin H. Folger and their families, together with a Mr. 
Mills and a few more, figured prominently in the chief 
chapter of Matthews career, during two years and a 
half, from May, 1832, to the fall of 1834. 

Pierson and Folger were the leaders in the folly. 
These men, merchants of wealth and successful in 
business, were of that sensitive and impressible religious 
nature which is peculiarly credulous and liable to enthu- 


siams and delusions. They had been, with a number of 
other persons, eagerly engaged in some extravagant re 
ligious performances, including excessive fasts and ascet- 
isms, and a plan, formed by one of their lady friends, 
to convert all New York by a system of female visit 
ations and preachings a plan not so very foolish, I 
may just remark, if the she apostles are only pretty 
enough ! 


Pierson, the craziest of the crew, besides other wretch 
ed delusions, had already fancied himself Elijah the 
Tishbite ; and when his wife fell ill and died a little 
while before this time, had first tried to cure her, and 
then to raise her from the dead, by anointing with oil 
and by the prayer of faith, as mentioned in the Epistle 
of Saint James. 

Curiously enough, a sort of lair or nest, very soft 
and comfortable, was thus made ready for our religious 
humbug, just as he wanted it worst ; for in these days 
he was but seedy. He heard something of Pierson, I 
don t know how ; and on the 5th of May, 1832, he call 
ed on him. Very quickly the poor fellow recognized 
the long-bearded prophetical humbug as all that he 
claimed to be a possessor and teacher of all truth, 
and as God himself. 

Mills and Folger easily fell into the same pitiable 
foolery, on Pierson s introduction. And the lucky 
humbug was verv soon living in clover in Mills house, 
which he chose first ; had admitted the happy fools, 
Pierson and Folger, as the first two members of his 
true church ; Pierson, believing that from Elijah the 
Tishbite he had become John the Baptist, devoted him- 


self as a kind of servant to his new Messiah ; and the 
deluded men began to supply all the temporal wants of 
the impostor, believing their estates set apart as the be 
ginning of the material Kingdom of God ! 

After three months, some of Mills friends, on charg 
es of lunacy, caused Mills to be sent to Bloomingdale 
Asylum, and Matthias to be thrust into the insane poor s 
ward at Bellevue, where his beard was forcibly cut off, 
to his extreme disgust. His brother, however, got him 
out by a habeas corpus, and he went to live with Folger. 
Mills now disappears from the story. 

Matthias remained in the full enjoyment of his luxu 
rious establishment, until September, 1834, it is true, 
with a few uncomfortable interruptions. He was al 
ways both insolent and cowardly, and thus often irritat 
ed some strong-minded auditor, and got himself into 
some pickle where he had to sneak out, which he did 
with much ease. In his seedy days the landlord of a 
hotel in whose bar-room he used to preach and curse, put 
him down when he grew too abusive, by coolly and stern 
ly telling him to go to bed. Mr. Folger himself had one 
or two brief intervals of sense, in one of which, angered 
at some insolence of Matthias, he seized him by the 
throat, shook him well, and flung him down upon a 
sofa. The humbug knowing that his living was in 
danger, took this very mildly, and readily accepted the 
renewed assurances of belief which poor Folger soon 
gave him. In the village of Sing Sing where Folger 
had a country-seat which he called Mount Zion, Mat 
thias was exceedingly obnoxious. His daughter had 
married a Mr. Laisdell ; and the humbug, who claimed 


that all Christian marriages were void and wicked, by 
some means induced the young wife to come to Sing Sing, 
where he whipped her more than once quite cruelly. 
Her husband came and took her away after encounter 
ing all the difficulty which Matthias dared make; and, 
at a hearing in the matter before a magistrate, lie was 
very near getting tarred and feathered, if not something 
worse, and the danger frightened him very much. 

He barely escaped being shaved by violence, and being 
thrown overboard to test his asserted miraculous powers, 
at the hands of a stout and incredulous farmer on the 
steamboat between Sing Sing and New York. While 
imprisoned at Bellevue before his trial, he was tossed in 
a blanket by the prisoners, to make him give them some 
money. The unlucky prophet dealt out damnation to 
them in great quantities ; but they told him it wouldn t 
work, and the poor humbug finally, instead of casting 
them into hell, paid them a quarter of a dollar apiece to 
let him off. When he was about to leave Folger s house, 
some roguish young men of Sing Sing forged a warrant, 
and with a counterfeit officer seized the humbug, and a 
second time shaved him by force. Pie was one day 
terribly " set back " as the phrase is, by a sharpish an 
swer. He gravely asserted to a certain man that he had 
been on the earth eighteen hundred years. His hearer, 
startled and irreverent, exclaimed : 

u The devil you have ! Do you tell me so ? " 

" I do," said the prophet. 

" Then," rejoined the other, " all I have to say is, you 
are a remarkably good-looking fellow for one of your 


The confounded prophet grinned, scowled, and ex 
claimed indignantly : 

" You are a devil, Sir ! " and marched off. 

In the beginning of August, 1834, the unhappy 
Pierson died in Folger s house, under circumstances 
amounting to strong circumstantial evidence that Mat 
thias, with the help of the colored cook, an enthusiastic 
disciple, had poisoned him with arsenic. The rascal 
pretended that his own curse had slain Pierson. There 
was a post mortem, an indictment, and a trial, but the 
evidence was not strong enough for conviction. Being 
acquitted, he was at once tried again for an assault and 
battery on his daughter by the aforesaid whippings ; and 
on this charge he was found guilty and sent to the coun 
ty jail for three months, in April, 1835. The trial for 
murder was just before the prophet having lain in 
prison since his apprehension for murder in the preced 
ing autumn. Mr. Folger s delusion had pretty much 
disappeared by the end of the summer of 1834. He 
had now become ruined, partly in consequence of fool 
ish speculations jointly with Pierson, believed to be 
conducted under Divine guidance, and partly because 
his strange conduct destroyed his business reputation 
and standing. The death of Pierson, and some very 
queer matters about another apparent poisoning-trick, 
awakened the suspicions of the Folgers ; and after a 
good deal of scolding and trouble with the impostor, 
who hung on to his comfortable home like a good follow, 
Folorer finallv turned him out, and then had him taken 
up for swindling. He had been too foolish himself, how 
ever, to maintain this charge ; but, shortly after, the 


others, for murder and assault, followed, with a little bet 
ter success. 

This imprisonment seems to have put a sudden and 
final period to the prophetical and religious operations 
of Master Matthias, and to the follies of his victims, too. 
I know of no subsequent developments of either kind. 
Matthias disappears from public life, and died, it is said, 
in Arkansas ; but when, or after what further career, I 
don t know. He was a shallow knave, and undoubt 
edly also partly crazy and partly the dupe of his own 
nonsense. If he had not so opportunely found victims 
of good standing, he would not have been remembered 
at all, except as George Mnnday, the " hatless proph 
et," and " Angel Gabriel Orr," are remembered as 
one more obscure, crazy street-preacher. And as soon 
as his accidental supports of other people s money and 
enthusiasm failed him, he disappeared at once. Many 
of my readers will remember distinctly, as I do, the re 
markable career of this man, and the humiliating posi 
tion in which his victims were placed. In the face of 
such an exposition as this of the weakness and credulity 
of poor human nature in this enlightened country of 
common schools and colleges, in the boasted wide 
awake nineteenth century, who shall deny that we can 
study with interest and profit the history of impositions 
which have been practiced upon mankind in every pos 
sible phase throughout every age of the world, includ 
ing the age in which we live ? There is literally no end 
to these humbugs ; and the reader of these pages, 
weak as may be my attempts to do the subject jus 
tice, will learn that there is no country, no period, and 


no sphere in life which has not been impiously invaded 
by the genius of humbug, under more disguises and in 
more shapes than it has entered into the heart of man 
to conceive. 




Joanna Southcott was born at St. Mary s Ottery 
in Devonshire, about the year 1750. She was a plain, 
stout-limbed, hard-fisted farmer lass, whose toils in the 
field for her father was in but very moderate circum 
stances had tawned her complexion and hardened 
her muscles, at an early age. As she grew toward wo 
man s estate, necessity compelled her to leave her home 
and seek service in the city of Exeter, where for many 
years, she plodded on very quietly in her obscure path, 
first, as a domestic hireling, and subsequently as a wash 
er woman. 

I have an old and esteemed friend on Staten Island 
whose father, still living, recollects Joanna well, as she 
used to come regularly to his house of a Monday morn 
ing, to her task of cleansing the family linen. He 
was then but a little lad, yet he remembers her quite 
well, with her stout, robust frame, and buxom and rath 
er attractive countenance, and her queer ways. Even 
then she was beginning to invite attention by her singu 
lar manners and discourse, which led many to believe 
her demented. 


It was at Exeter that Joanna became religiously im 
pressed, and joined the Wesleyan Methodists, as a strict 
and extreme believer in the doctrines of that sect. 
During her attendance upon the Wesleyan rites, she 
became intimate with one Sanderson, who, whether a 
designing rogue, or only a very fanatical believer, pre 
tended that he had discovered in the good washerwoman 
a Bible prodigy ; and it was not long before the poor 
creature began literally, to " see sights " and dream 
dreams of the most preternatural description, for which 
Sanderson always had ready some very telling intepre- 
tation. Her visions were of the most thoroughly u mix 
ed " character withal, sometimes transporting her to the 
courts of heaven, and sometimes to a very opposite re 
gion, celebrated for its latent and active caloric. When 
she ranged into the lower world, she had a very un 
pleasant habit of seeing sundry, scoffers and unbelievers 
(in herself) belonging to the congregation, in very close 
but disadvantageous intercourse with the Evil One, who 
was represented as having a particular eye to others 
around her, even while they laid claim to special piety. 
Of course, such revelations as these could not be toler 
ated in any well regulated community, and when some 
most astounding religious gymnastics performed by 
Joanna in the midst of prayers and sermons, occurred 
to heap up the measure of her offences, it became full 
time to take the matter in hand, and the prophetess was 
expelled. Now, those whom she had not served up 
openly with brimstone, agreeing with her about those 
whom she had thus " cooked," and delighted at. their 
own exemption from that sort of dressing, seceded in 


considerable numbers, and became Joanna s followers. 
This gave her a nucleus to work upon, and between 
1790 and 1800, she managed to make herself known 
throughout Britain, proclaiming that she was to be the 
destined Mother of the Second Messiah, and although 
originally quite illiterate, picking up enough general in 
formation and Bible lore, to facilitate her publication of 
several very curious, though sometimes incoherent 
works. One of the earliest and most startling of these 
was her "Warning to the whole World, from the Seal 
ed Prophecies of Joanna Southcott, and other commu 
nications given since the writings were opened on the 
12th of January, 1803." This foretold the close 
approach of the great red dragon of the Revelations, 
" with seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns 
upon his heads," and the birth of the " man-child who 
was to rule all nations with a rod of iron." 

In 1805, a shoemaker named Tozer built her a chap 
el in Exeter at his own expense, and it was, from the 
first, constantly rilled on service-days with eager wor 
shipers. Here she gave exhortations, and prophesied in 
a species of religious frenzy or convulsion, sometimes 
uttering very heavy prose, and sometimes the most fear 
ful doggrel rhyme resembling well perhaps our al 
bum effusions here at home ! Indeed, I can think 
of nothing else equally fearful. In these paroxysms, 
Joanna raved like an ancient Pythoness whirling on her 
tripod, and to just about the same purpose. Yet, it was 
astonishing to see how the thing went down. Crowds 
of intelligent people came from all parts of the United 
Kingdom to listen, be converted, and to receive the 


" seals" (as they were called) that secured their fortu 
nate possessor unimpeded and immediate admission to 
heaven. Of course, tickets so precious could not be giv 
en away for nothing, and the seal trade in this new 
form proved very lucrative. 

The most remarkable of all these conversions was 
that of the celebrated engraver, William Sharp, who, 
notwithstanding his eminent position as an artist, by no 
means bore out his name in other things. He had 
previouslv become thoroughly imbued with the notions of 
Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the famous Richard Broth 
ers, and was quite ripe for anything fantastic. Such a 
convert was a perfect godsend to Joanna, and she was 
easily persuaded to accompany him to London, where 
her congregations rapidly increased to enormous pro 
portions, even rivaling those now summoned by the 
" drum ecclesiastical" and orthodox of the Rev. Mr. 

The whole sect extended until, in 1813, it numbered 
no less than one hundred thousand members, signed and 
" sealed " Mr. Sharp occupying a most conspicuous 
position at the very footstool of the Prophetess. Late 
in 1813, appeared the " Book of Wonders," " in five 
parts," and it was a clincher. Poor Sharp came in 
largely for the expenses, but valiantly stood his ground 
against it all. At length, in 1814, the great Joanna 
dazzled the eyes of her adherents and the world at large 
with her " Prophecies concerning the Prince of Peace." 
This delectable manifesto flatly announced to mankind 
that the second Shiloh. so long expected, would be born 
of the Prophetess at midnight, on October 19, in that 


same year, i. e. 1814. The inspired writer was then 
enceinte, although a virgin, as she expressly and solemn 
ly declared, and in the sixty-fourth year of her age. 
Among the other preternatural concomitants of this 
anticipated eventful birth, was the fact that the period 
of her pregnancy had lasted for several years. 

Of course, this stupendous announcement threw the 
whole sect into ecstasies of religious exultation ; while, 
on the other hand, it afforded a fruitful subject of ridi 
cule for the utterly irreverent London pamphleteers. 
Poor Sharp, who had caused a magnificent cradle and 
baby-wardrobe to be got ready at his own expense, was 
most unmercifully scored. The infant was caricatured 
with a long gray beard and spectacles, with Sharp in a 
duster carefully rocking him to sleep, while Joanna the 
Prophetess treated the engraver to some " cuts " in her 
own style, with a bunch of twigs. 

On the appointed night, the street in which Joanna 
lived was thronged with the faithful, who, undeterred 
by sarcasm, fully credited her prediction. They bi 
vouacked on the side-walks in motley crowds of men, 
women, and children ; and as the hours wore on, and 
their interest increased, burst forth into spontaneous 
psalmody. The adjacent thoroughfares were as densely 
jammed with curious and incredulous spectators, and the 
mutton pie and ballad businesses flourished extensively. 
The interior of the house, with the exception of the 
sick chamber, was illuminated in all directions, and the 
dignitaries of the sect held the ante-rooms and cofVidors, 
" in full fig," to receive the expected guest. But the 
evening passed, then midnight came, then morning, but 


alas ! no Shiloh ; and, little by little, the disappointed 
throngs dispersed I Poor Joanna, however, kept her 
bed, and finally, after many fresh paroxysms and 
prophecies, on the 27th of December, 1814, gave 
up the ghost the indefatigable Sharp still declar 
ing that she had gone to heaven for a season, only to 
legitimatize the unborn infant, and would re-arise again 
from death, after four days, with the Shiloh in her arms. 
So firm was this faith in him and many other respecta 
ble persons, that the body of the Prophetess was re 
tained in her house until the very last moment. When 
the dissection demanded by the majority of the sect 
could no longer be delayed, that operation was per 
formed, and it was found that the subject had died of 
ovarian dropsy ; but was as she had always main 
tained herself to be a virgin. Dr. Reece, who had 
been a devout believer, but was now undeceived, pub 
lished a full account of this and all the other circum 
stances of her death, and another equally earnest disci 
ple bore the expenses of her burial at St. John s Wood, 
and placed over her a tombstone with appropriate in 

As late as 1863, there were many families of believers 
still existing near Chatham, in Kent ; and even in this 
country can here and there be found admirers of the 
creed of Joanna Southcott, who are firmly convinced 
that she will re-appear some fine morning, with San 
derson on one side of her and Sharp on the other. 







The domain of humbug reaches back to the Garden 
of Eden, where the Father of lies practised it upon 
our poor, innocent first grandmother, Eve. This was 
the first and worst of all humbugs. But from that 
eventful day to the present moment, falsehood, hypocri 
sy,- deception, imposition, cant, bigotry, false appear 
ances and false pretences, superstitions, and all con 
ceivable sorts of humbugs, have had a full swing, and he 
or she who watches these things most closelv, and re 
flects most deeply upon these various peculiarities, bear 
ings, and results, will be best qualified to detect and to 
avoid them. For this reason, I should look upon my 
self as somewhat of a public benefactor, in exposing 
the humbugs of the world, if I felt competent to do the 
subject full justice. 

Next to the fearful humbug practiced upon our first 
parents, came heathen humbugs generally. All heathen 
ism and idolatry are one grand complex humbug to be 
gin with. All the heathen religions always were, and 
are still, audacious, colossal, yet shallow and foolish, 
humbugs. The heathen humbugs were played off by 
the priests, the shrewdest men then alive. It is a curi- 


cms fact that the heathen humbugs were all solemn. 
This was because they were intended to maintain the 
existing religions, which, like all false religions, could 
not endure ridicule. They always appealed to the 
pious terrors of the public, as well as to its ignorance 
and appetite for marvels. They offered nothing pleas 
ant, nothing to love, nothing to gladden the heart and 
lift it up in joyful gratitude, true adoration, and child 
like confidence, prayer, and thanksgiving. On the con 
trary, awful noises, fearful sights, frightful threats, 
foaming at the mouth, dark sayings, secret processions, 
bloody sacrifices, grim priests, costly offerings, sleeps in 
darksome caverns to wait for a dream from the god 
these were the machineries of the ancient heathen. 
They were as crude and as ferocious as those of the 
King of Dahomey, or of the barbarous negroes of the 
Guinea coast. But they often show a cunning as keen 
.and effective as that of any quack, or Philadelphia lawyer, 
or Davenport Brother, or Jackson Davis of to-day. 

The most prominent of the heathen humbugs were 
the mysteries, the oracles, the sibyls (N. B., the word 
is often mis-spelled sybils,) and augury. Every respect 
able Pagan religion had some mysteries, just as every 
respectable Christian family has a bible and, as an 
ill-natured proverb has it, a skeleton. It was consid 
ered a poor religion a one horse religion, so to speak 
that had no mysteries. 

The chief mysteries were those of the Cabiri, of 
Eleusis, and of Isis. These mysteries used exactly the 
same kind of machinery which proves so effective every 
day in modern mysteries, viz., shows, processions, voices, 


lights, dark rooms, frightful sights, solemn mummeries, 
striking costumes, big talks and preachments, threats, 
gabbles of nonsense, etc., etc. 

The mysteries of the Cabiri are the most ancient of 
which anything is known. These Cabiri were a sort 
of " Original old Dr. Jacob Townsends " of divinities. 
They were considered senior and superior to Jupiter, 
Neptune, Plato, and the gods of Olympus. They 
were Pelasgic, that is, they belonged to that unknown 
ancient people from whom both the Greek and the 
Latin nations are thought to have come. The Cabiri 
afterward figured as the " elder gods " of Greece, the 
inventors of religion, and of the human race in fact, 
and were kept so very dark that it is not even known, 
with any certainty, who they were. The ancient 
heathen gods, like modern thieves, very usually objected 
to pass by their real names. The Cabiri were particular 
ly at home in Lemnos, and afterward in Samothrace. 

Their mysteries were of a somew r hat unpleasant char 
acter, as far as we know them. The candidate had to 
pass a long time almost starved, and without any enjoy 
ment whatever ; was then let into a dark temple, 
crowned with olive, tied round with a purple girdle, 
and frightened almost to death with horrid noises, ter 
rible sights of some kind, great flashes of light and deep 
darkness between, etc., etc. There was a ceremony of 
absolution from past sin, and a formal beginning of a 
new life. It is a curious fact, that this performance 
seems to have been a kind of pious marine insurance 
company ; as the initiated, it was believed, could not be 
drowned. Perhaps they were put in a way to obtain a 


drier strangulation. The reason why these ceremonies 
were kept so successfully secret, is plain. Each man, as 
he was let in, and found what nonsense it was, was sure 
to hold his tongue and help the next man in, as in the 
modern case of the celebrated " Sons of Malta." It is 
to be admitted, however, to the credit of the Cabiri, that 
a doctrine of reformation, or of living a better practical 
life, seems to have been part of their religion. This is 
an interesting recognition, by heathen consciences, of 
one of the greatest moral truths which Christianity has 
enforced. Something of the same kind can be traced 


in other heathen mysteries. But these heathen at 
tempts at virtue invariably rotted out into aggravations 
of vice. No religion except Christianity ever con 
tained the principle of improvement in it. Bugaboos 
and hob-goblins may serve for a time to frighten the 
ignorant into obedience ; but if they get a chance to 
cheat the devil, they will be sure to do it. Nothing 
but the great doctrine of Christian love and brother 
hood, and of a kind and paternal Divine government, 
has ever proved to be permanently reformatory, and 
tending to lift the heart above the vices and passions to 
which poor human nature is prone. 

The mysteries of Eleusis were celebrated every year 
at Eleusis, near Athens, in honor of Ceres, and were a 
regular " May Anniversary," so to speak, for the pious 
heathens of the period. It took just nine days to com 
plete them ; long enough for a puppy to get its eyes 
open. The candidates were very handsomely put 
through. On the first day, they got together ; on the 
second, they took a wash in the sea ; on the third, they 


had some ceremonies about Proserpine ; on the fourth, 
no mortal knows what they did ; on the fifth, they 
marched round a temple, two and two, with torches, 
like a Wide-Awake procession : on the sixth, seventh, 
and eighth, there were more processions, and the initia 
tion proper, said to have been something like that of 
Free-masonry ; so that we may suppose the victims rode 
the goat and were broiled on the gridiron. On the ninth 
day, the ceremony, they say, consisted in overturning 
two vessels of wine. I fear by this means that they all 
got drunk ; and the more so, because the coins of Eleu- 
sis have a hog on one side, as much as to say, We make 
hogs of ourselves. 

There was a set of mysteries at Athens, called Thes- 
mophoria, and one at Rome, called the mysteries of the 
Bona Dea, which were celebrated by married women 
only. Various notions prevailed as to what they did. 
But can there be any reasonable doubt about it ? They 
were, I fear, systematic conspirators meetings, in which 
the more experienced matrons instructed the junior ones 
how to manage their husbands. If this was not their ob 
ject, then it was to maintain the influence of the heath 
en clergy over the heathen ladies. Women have always 
been the constituents of priests where false religions 
prevailed, as they have, for better purposes, of the min 
isters of the Gospel among Christians. 

The mysteries of the goddess Isis, which originated in 
Egypt, were, in general, like those of Ceres at Eleusis. 
The Persian mysteries of Mithra, which were very pop 
ular during part of the latter days of the Roman empire, 
were of the same sort. So were those of Bacchus, Juno, 


Jupiter, and various other heathen gods. All of them 
were celebrated with great solemnity and secrecy ; all 
included much that was terrifying ; and all of their se 
crets have been so faithfully kept that we have only 
guesses and general statements about the details of the 
performances. Their principal object seems to have 
been to secure the initiated against misfortunes, and to 
gain prosperity in the future. Some have imagined 
that very wonderful and glorious truths were revealed 
in the midst of these heathen humbugs. But I guess 
that the more we find out about them, the bigger hum 
bugs they will appear, as happened to the travelers who 
held a post mortem on the great heathen god in the 
story. This was a certain very terrible and powerful 
divinity among some savage tribes, of whom dreadful 
stories were told very authentic, of course! Some 
unbelieving scamps of travelers, by unlawful ways, man 
aged to get into the innermost sacred place of the tem 
ple one night. They found the god to be done up in a 
very large and suspicious looking bundle. Having sac 
rilegiously cut the string, they unrolled one envelop 
of mats and cloths after another, until they had taken 
off more than a hundred wrappers. The god grew 
smaller, and smaller, and smaller ; and the wonder of 
the travelers what he could be, larger and larger. At 
last, the very innermost of all the coverings fell off, and 
the great heathen god was revealed in all his native 
majesty. It was a cracked soda-water bottle ! This 
indicates what is beyond all question the fact that 
the heathen mysteries had their foundation in gas. In 
deed, the whole composition of these impositions was, 


gammon, deception, hypocrisy Humbug! Truly, 
the science of Humbug is entitled to some considera 
tion, simply for its antiquity, if for nothing else. 




Something must be said about the Oracles, the Sibyls, 
and the Auguries ; which, besides the mysteries else 
where spoken of, were the chief assistant humbugs or 
side shows used for keeping up the great humbug hea 
then religion. 

One word about the regular worship of heathenism ; 
what maybe called their stated services. They had no 
weekly day of worship, indeed no week, and no preach 
ing such as ours is ; that is, no regular instruction by 
the ministers of religion, intended for all the people. 
They had singing and praying after their fashion ; the 
singing being a sort of chant of praise to whatever idol 
was under treatment at the time, and the praying being 
in part vain repetitions of the name of their god, and 
for the rest a request that the god would do or give 
whatever was asked of him as a fair business transaction, 
in return for the agreeable smell of the fine beef they 
had just roasted under his nose, or for whatever else 
they had given him ; as, a sum of money, a pair of pan 
taloons (or whatever they wore instead,) a handsome 
golden cup. This made the temple a regular shop, 


where the priests traded off promised benefits for real 
beef; coining blessings into cash on the nail ; a very 
thorough humbug. Such public religious ceremonies 
as the heathen had were mostly annual, sometimes 
monthly. There were also daily ones, which were, how 
ever, the daily business of the priests, and none of the 
business of the laymen. To return to the subject. 

All the heathen oracles, old and new (for abundance 
of them are still agoing,) sibyls, auguries and all, show 
how universally and naturally, and humbly and help 
lessly too, poor human nature longs to see into the future, 
and longs for help and guidance from some power, high 
er than itself. 

Thus considered, these shallow humbugs teach a use 
ful lesson, for they constitute a strong proof of man s in 
born natural recognition of some God, of some obligation 
to a higher power,. of some disembodied existence; and 
so they show a natural human want of exactly what the 
Christian revelation supplies, and constitute a powerful 
evidence for Christianity. 

All the heathen religions, I believe, had oracles of 
some kind. But the Greek and Latin ones tell the 
whole story. Of these there were over a hundred ; 
more than twenty of Apollo, who was the god of sooth 
saying, divination, prophecy, and of the supernatural side 
of heathen humbug generally ; thirty or forty collectively 
of Jupiter, Ceres, Mercury, Pluto, Juno, Ino (a very 
good name for a goddess that gave oracles, though she 
didn t know !) Faunus, Fortune, Mars, etc., and nearly 
as many of demi-gods, heroes, giants, etc., such as Am- 
phiaraus, Amphilochus, Trophonius, Geryon, Ulysses, 


Calchas, JEsculapius, Hercules, Pasiphae, Phr} T xus, etc. 
The most celebrated and most patronized of them all was 
the great oracle of Apollo, at Delphi. The " little fee " 
appears to have been the only universal characteristic of 
the proceedings for obtaining an answer from the god. 
Whether you got your reply in words spoken by the rat 
tling of an old pot, by observing an ox s appetite, throw 
ing dice, or sleeping for a dream, your own proceedings 
were essentially the same. u Terms invariably net cash 
in advance or its equivalent." A fine ox or sheep sacri 
ficed was cash ; for after the god had had his smell 
(those ladies and gentlemen appear to have eaten as 
they say the Yankees talk through their noses,) all 
the rest was put carefully away by the reverend clergy 
for dinner, and saved so much on the butcher s bill. If 
your credit was good, you might receive your oracle and 
afterward send in any little acknowledgment in the form 
of a golden goblet, or statue, or vase, or even of a remit 
tance in specie. Such gifts accumulated in the oracle at 
Delphi and to an immense amount, and to the great 
emolument of Brennus, a matter of fact Gaulish com 
mander, who, at his invasion of Greece, coolly carried 
off all the bullion, without any regard to the screeches 
of the Pythoness, and with no more scruples than any 

The Delphian oracle w r orked through a woman, who, 
on certain days, went and sat on a three-legged stool 
over a hole in the ground in Apollo s temple. This 
hole sent out gas ; which, instead of being used like 
that afforded by holes in the ground at Fredonia, N. Y., 
to illuminate the village, was much more shrewdly em- 


ployed by the clerical gentlemen to shine up the knowl 
edge-boxes of their customers, and introduce the glitter 
of gold into their own pockets. I merely throw out the 
hint to any speculating Fredonian who owns a hole in 
the ground. Well, the Pythia, as this female was termed, 
warmed up her understanding over this hole, as you 
have seen ladies do over the register of a hot-air fur 
nace, and becoming excited, she presently began to be 
drunk or crazy, and in her fit she gabbled forth some 
words or noises. These the priests took down, and then 
told the customer that the noises meant so-and-so ! 
When business was brisk they worked two Pythias, turn 
and turn about (or, as they say at sea, watch and watch), 
and kept a third all cocked and primed in case of acci 
dent, besides ; for this gas sometimes gave the priest 
ess (literally) fits, which killed her in a few days. 

Other oracles gave answers in many various ways. 
The priest quietly wrote down whatever answer he 
chose ; or inspected the insides of a slaughtered beast, 
and said that the bowels meant this and that. At Tel- 
messus the inquirer peeped into a well, where he must 
see a picture in the water which was his answer ; at any 
rate, if this wouldn t do he got none. This plan was 
evidently based on the idea that " truth is at the bottom 
of a well." At Dodona, they hung brass pots on the 
trees and translated the banging these made when the 

O ? 

wind blew them together. At PheraB, you whispered 
your question in the ear of the image of Mercury, and 
then shutting your ears until you got out of the market 
place, the first remark you heard from anybody was the 
answer, and you might make the best of it. At Pluto s 


oracle at Charae, the priest took a dream, and in the 
mornino; told you what he chose. In the cave of Tro- 

<5 / 

phonius, after various terrifying performances, they 
pulled you through a hole the wrong way of the feath 
ers, and then back again, and then stuck you upon a 
seat, and made you write down your own oracle, being 
what you had seen, which would, I imagine, usually be 
" the elephant." 

And so-forth, and so on. Humbug ad libitum ! 

Like some of the more celebrated modern fortune 
tellers, the managers of the oracles were frequently 
shrewd fellows, and could often pick up the materials 
of a very smart and judicious answer from the appear 
ance of the customer and his question. Very often the 
answer was sheer nonsense. It was, in fact, believed by 
many that as a rule you couldn t tell what the response 
meant until after it was fulfilled, when you were ex 
pected to see it. In many cases the answers were ingen 
iously arranged, so as to mean either a good or evil re 
sult, one of which was pretty likely. 

Thus, one of the oracles answered a general who 
asked after the fate of his campaign as follows : (the 
ancients, remember, using no punctuation marks) 
" Thou shalt go thou shalt return never in war shalt 
thou perish." The point becomes visible when you 
first make a pause before " never," and then after it. 

On a similar occasion, the Delphic oracle told Croe 
sus that if he crossed the River Halys he would over 
throw a great empire. This empire he chose to under 
stand as that of Cyrus, whom he was going to fight. 
It came out the other way, and it was his own empire 


that was overthrown. The immense wisdom of the 
oracle, however, was tremendously respected in conse 
quence ! 

Pyrrhus, of Epirus, on setting off against the Ro 
mans, received equal satisfaction, the Pythia telling him 
(in Latin) what amounted to this : 

" I say that you Pyrrhus the Romans are able to 
conquer ! " 

Pyrrhus took it as he wished it, but found himself sad 
ly thimble-rigged, the little joker being under the wrong 
cup. The Romans beat him, and most wofully too. 

Trajan was advised to consult the oracle at Heliopo- 
lis, about his intended expedition against the Parthians. 
The custom was to send your query in a letter ; so 
Trajan sent a blank note in an envelope. The god 
(very naturally) sent back a blank note in reply, which 
was thought wonderfully smart ; and so the imperial 
dupe sent again, a square question : 

" Shall I finish this war and get safe back to Rome ? " 

The Heliopolitan humbug replied by sending a piece 
of an old grape-vine cut into pieces, which meant 
either : " You will cut them up," or " They will cut 
you up ; " and Trajan, like the little boy at the peep- 
show who asked : " which is Lord Wellington and which 


is the Emperor Napoleon ? " had paid his penny and 
might take his choice. 

Sometimes the oracles were quite jocular. A man 
asked one of them how to get rich ? The oracle said : 
" Own all there is between Sicyon and Corinth." 
Which places are some fifteen miles apart. 

Another fellow asked how he should cure his gout ? 


The oracle coolly said : " Drink nothing but cold wa 
ter ! " 

The Delphic oracle, and some of the others, used for 
a long time to give their answers in verses. At last, 
however, irreverent critics of the period made so much 
fun of the peculiarly miserable style of this poetry, 
that the poor oracle gave it up and came down to plain 
prose. Every once in a while some energetic and cun 
ning man, of skeptical character, insisted on having just 
such an answer as he wanted. It was well known that 
Philip of Macedon bought what responses he wished at 
Delphi. Anybody with plenty of money, who would 
quietly " see " the priests, could have such a response as 
he chose. Or, if he was a bull-headed, hard-fisted 
fighting-man, of irreligious but energetic mind, the 
priests gave him what he wished, out of fear. When 
Themistocles wanted to encourage the Greeks against 
the Persians, he " fixed " Delphi by bribes. When Al 
exander the Great came to consult the same oracle, the 
Pythia was disinclined to perform. But Alexander 
rather roughly gave her to understand that she must, 
and she did. The Greek and Roman oracles finally all 
gave out not far from the time of Christ s coming, hav 
ing gradually become more or less disreputable for many 

All the heathen nations, as I have said, had their 
oracles too. The heathen Scandinavians had a famous 
one at Upsal. The Getae, in Scythia, had one. The 
Druids had them ; so did the Mexican priests. The 
Egyptian and Syrian divinities had them ; in short, 
oracles were quite as necessary as mysteries, and con- 


tinne so in heathen religions. The only exception, I 
believe, is in Mohammedanism, whose votaries save 
themselves any trouble about the future by their thor 
ough fatalism. They believe so fully and vividly that 
everything is immovably predestinated, being at the 
same time perfectly sure of heaven at last, that they 
quietly receive everything as it comes, and don t take 
the least trouble to find out how it is coming. 

The Sibyls were women, supposed to be inspired by 
some divinity, who prophesied of the future. Same 
say there was but one ; some two, three, four, or ten. 
All sorts of obscure stories are told about the time and 
place of their activity. There was the Persian or Chal 
dean, who is said to have foretold with many details the 
coming and career of Christ; the Lybian, the Delphic, 
the Cnmaean, much honored by the Romans, and half 
a dozen more. Then there was Mantho, the daughter 
of Tiresias, who w r as sent from Thebes to Delphi in a 
bag, seven hundred and twenty years before the de 
struction of Troy. These ladies lived in caves, and 
among them are said to have composed the Sibylline 
books, which contained the mysteries of religion, were 
carefully kept out of sight at Rome, and finally came 
into the hands of the Emperor Constantine. They 
were burned, one story has it, about fifty years after 
his death. But there are some Sibylline books extant, 
which, however, are among the most transparent of 
humbugs, for they are full of all sorts of extracts and 
statements from the Old and New Testaments. I do 
not believe there ever were any Sibyls. If there were 
any, they were probably ill-natured and desperate old 


maids, who turned so sour-tempered that their friends 
had to drive them off to live by themselves, and who, 
under these circumstances, went to work and wrote 

I must crowd in here a word or two about the Au 
guries and the Augurs. These gentlemen were a sort 
of Roman priests, who were accustomed to foretell fu 
ture events, decide on coming good or bad fortune, 
whether it would do to go on with the elections, to be 
gin any enterprise or not, etc., by means of various 
signs. These were thunder ; the way any birds hap 
pened to fly ; the way that the sacred chickens ate ; 
the appearance of the entrails of beasts sacrificed, etc., 
etc. These augurs were, for a long time, much re 
spected in Rome, but, at last, the more thoughtful peo 
ple lost their belief in them, and they became so ridicu 
lous that Cicero, who was himself one of them, said he 
could not see how one augur could look another in the 
face without laughing. 

It is humiliating to reflect how long and how exten 
sively such barefaced and monstrous humbugs as these 
have maintained unquestioned authority over almost 
the whole race of man. Nor has humanity, by any 
means, escaped from such debasing slavery now ; for 
millions and millions of men still believe and practice 
forms and ceremonies even more absurd, if possible, 
than the Mysteries, Oracles, and Auguries. 






A scale of superstition and religious beliefs of to-day, 
arranged from the lowest to the highest, would show 
many curious coincidences with another scale, which 
should trace the history of superstitions and religious 
beliefs backward in time toward -the origin of man. 
Thus, for instance, the heathen humbugs, whether re 
volting or ridiculous, which I am to speak of in this 
chapter, are in full blast to day ; and they furnish perfect 
specimens of the beliefs which prevailed among the 
heathen of four thousand and of eighteen .hundred 
years ago ; of the Chaldee and Canaanite superstitions, 
and equally of those of the Romans under Augustus 

The most dirty, vulgar, low, silly and absurd of all 
the superstitions in the world are, as is natural, those of 
the darkest minded of all the heathen, who have any 
superstition at all. For, as if for the .humiliation of 
our proud human nature, there are really some human 
beings who seem to have too little intellect even to rise 
to the height of a superstition. Such are the Andaman 
Islanders, who crawl on all fours, wear nothing but a 
plaster of mud to keep the musquitos off, eat bugs, and 
grubs, and ants, and turn their children out to shift for 


themselves as soon as the little wretches can learn to 
crawl and eat bugs. 

These lowest of superstitions are Fetishism and Obi, 
believed and practiced bynegro tribes, and, remember 
this, even by their ignorant white mistresses in the 
West Indies and in the United States, to day. Yes, I 
know where Southern refugee secessionist women are 
living in and about New York city at this moment, who 
really believe in the negro witchcraft called Obi, prac 
ticed by the slaves. 

A Fetish is anything not a living being, worshiped 
because supposed to be inhabited by some god. In some 
parts of Africa the Fetishes are a sort of guardian divin 
ity, and there is one for each district like a town con 
stable ; and sometimes one for each family. The Fetish 
is any stone picked up in the street a tree, a chip, a 
rag. It may be some stone or wooden image an old 
pot, a knife, a feather. Before this precious divinity 
the poor darkeys bow down and worship, and sometimes, 
sacrifice a sheep or a rooster. Each more important Fe 
tish has a priest, and here is where the humbug comes 
in. This gentleman lives on the offerings made to the 
Fetish, and he " exploits " his god, as a Frenchman 
would say, with great profit. 

Obi or Obeah, is the name of the witchcraft of the ne 
gro tribes ; and the practitioner is termed an Obi-man or 
Obi- woman. They practice it at home in Africa, and car 
ry it with them to continue it when they are made slaves 
in other lands. Obi is now practiced, as I have already 
hinted, in Cuba and in the Southern States, and is believ 
ed in by the more ignorant and foolish white people, as 


much as by their barbarous slaves. Obi is used only to 
injure, and the way to perform it upon your enemy is, 
to hire the Obi man or woman to concoct a charm, and 
then to hide this, or cause it to be hidden, in some place 
about the person or abode of the victim where lie will 
find it. He is expected thereupon to fall ill, to wither 
and waste away, and so to die. 

Absurd as it may seem, this cursing business operates 
with a good deal of certainty on the poor negroes, who 
fall sick instantly on finding the ball of Obi, two or 
three inches in diameter, hidden in their bed, or in the 
roof, or under the threshold, or in the earthen floor of 
their huts. The poor wretches become dejected, lose 
appetite, strength, and spirits, grow thin and ill, and 
really wither away and die. It is a curious fact, how 
ever, that if under these circumstances you can cause 
one of them to become converted to Christianity, or 
to become a Christian by profession, he becomes at 
once free from the witches dominion and quickly re 

The ball of Obi or, as it is called among the Bra 
zilian negroes, Mandinga may be made of various 
materials, always, I believe, including some which are 
disgusting or horrible. Leaves of trees and scraps of 
rag may be used ; ashes, usually from bones or flesh of 
some kind ; pieces of cats bones and skulls, feathers, 
hair, earth, or clay, which ou<Hit to be from a orave ; 
teeth of men and of snakes, alligators or other beasts: 
vegetable gum, or other sticky stuff; human blood, 
pieces of eggshell, etc., etc. This mixture is curiously 
like that in the witches caldron in Macbeth, which, 


among other equally toothsome matters, contained frogs 
toes, bats wool, lizards legs, owlets wings, wolfs teeth, 
witches mummy, Jew s liver, tigers bowels, and lastly, 
as a sort of thickening to the gravy, baboon s blood. 

A creole lady, now at the North, recently told a 
friend of mine that " the negroes can put some pieces 
of paper, or powder, or something or other in your 
shoes, that will make you sick, or make you do anything 
they want I " The poor foolish woman told this with a 
face full of.-awe and eyes wide open. Another lady 
known to me, long resident at the South, tells me that 
the belief in this sort of devilism is often found among 
the white people. 

The practices called Vaudoux < >r Voudoux, are a sort 
of Obi ; being, like that, an invoking of the aid of some 
god to do what the worshipers wish. The Vaudoux 
humbug is quite prevalent in Cuba, Hayti, and other 
West India islands, where there are wild negroes, or 
where they are still imported from Africa. There is 
also a good deal of this sort of humbug among the 
slaves in New Orleans, and cases arising from it have 
recently quite often appeared in the police reports in the 
newspapers of that city. 

The Vaudoux worshipers assemble secretly, with a 
kind of chief witch or mistress of ceremonies ; there is 
a boiling caldron of hell-broth, a la Macbeth ; the vo 
taries dance naked around their soup ; amulets and 
charms are made and distributed. During a quarter of 
a century last past, some hundreds of these orgies have 
been broken up by the New Orleans police, and prob- 
bably as many more have come off as per programme. 


The Yaudoux processes are most frequently appealed to 
for the purposes of some unsuccessful or jealous lover ; 
and the Creole ladies believe in Vaudouxism as much as 
in Obi. 

In the West Indies, the Vaudoux orgies are more 
savage than in this country. It is but a little while 
since in Hayti, under the energetic and sensible admin 
istration of President Geffrard, eight Vaudoux worship 
ers were regularly tried and executed for having mur 
dered a young girl, the niece of two of them, by way of 
human sacrifice to the god. They tied the poor child 
tight, put her in a box called a humfort, fed her with 
some kind of stuff for four days, and then deliberately 
strangled her, beheaded her, flayed her, cooked the 
head with yams, ate of the soup, and then performed a 
solemn dance and chant around an altar with the skull 
on it. 

The Caffres in Southern Africa have a kind of hum 
bug somewhat like the Obi-men, who are known as rain 
makers. These gentlemen furnish what blessing and 
cursing may be required for other purposes ; but as 
that country is liable to tremendous droughts, their 
best business is to make rain. This they do by various 
prayers and ceremonies, of which the most important 
part is, receiving a large fee in advance from the cus 
tomer. The rain-making business, though very lucra 
tive, is not without its disadvantages ; for whenever 
Moselekatse, or Dingaan, or any other chief sets his rain 
maker at work, and the rain was not forthcoming as 
per application, the indignant ruler caused an assegai or 
two to be stuck through the wizard, for the encourage- 


ment of the other wizards. This was not so unreason 
able as it may seem ; for if the man could not make 
rain when it was wanted, what was he good for ? 

The ceremonies of the pow-wows or medicine-men of 
the North American Indians, are less brutal than the Af 
rican ones. These soothsayers, like the Obi-men, pre 
pared charms for their customers, usually, however, not 
so much to destroy others as to protect the wearer. 
These charms consist of some trifling matters tied up in 
a small bag, the " medicine-bag," which is to be worn 
round the neck, and will,- it is supposed, insure the wear 
er the special help and protection of the Great Spirit- 
The pow-wows sometimes do a little in the cursing line. 

There is a funny story of a Puritan minister in the 
early times of New England, who coolly defied one of 
the most famous Indian magicians to play off his infer 
nal artillery. A formal meeting was had, and the pow 
wow rattled his traps, howled, danced, blew feathers, 
and vociferated jargon until he was perfectly exhaust 
ed, the old minister quietly looking at him all the time. 
The savage humbug w r as dumbfounded, but quickly 
recovering his presence of mind, saved his home-reputa 
tion by explaining to the red gentlemen in breech-cloths 
and nose-rings, that the Yankee ate so much salt that 
curses wouldn t take hold on him at all. 

The Shamans (or Schamans) of Siberia, follow a 
very similar business, but are not so much priestly hum 
bugs as mere conjurors. The Lamas, or Buddhist lead 
ers of Central and Southern Asia are, however, regular 
priests, again, and may be said, with singular propriety, 
to " run their machine " on principles of thorough reli- 


gious humbug, for they do really pray by a machine. 
They set up a little mill to go by water or wind, which 
turns a cylinder. On this cylinder is written a prayer, 
and every time the barrel goes round once, it counts, 
they say, for one prayer. It may be imagined how 
piety intensifies in a freshet, or in a heavy gale of wind | 
And there is a ludicrous notion of economy, as well as a 
pitiable folly in the conception of profiting by such 
windy supplications, and of saving all one s time and 
thoughts for business, while the prayers rattle out by the 
hundred at home. Only imagine the pious fervor of 
one of these priests in a first-class Lowell mill, of say a 
hundred thousand spindles. Print a large edition of 
some good prayer and paste a copy on each spindle, and 
the place would seem to him the very gate of a Buddhist 
heaven. He would feel sure of taking heaven by 
storm, with a sustained fire of one hundred thousand 
prayers every second. His first requisite for a prosper 
ous church would be a good water-power for prayer- 
mills. And yet, absurd as these prayer-mills of the 
heathen really are, it may not be safe to bring them un 
der unqualified condemnation : for who among us has 
not sometimes heard windy prayers even in our Chris 
tian churches ? Young clergymen are especially liable 
and, I might say, prone to this mockery. These, how 
ever, are but exceptions to the general Christian rule, 
viz. : that the Omniscient careth only for heart-service ; 
and that, before Him, all mere lip-service or machine- 
service, is simply an abomination. 

A less innocent kind of praying is one of the religious 
humbugs of the bloody and cruel Sandwich Islands form 


of heathenism. Here a practice prevailed, and does yet, 
of paving money to a priest to pray your enemy to 
death. For cash in advance, this bargain could always 
be made, and so groveling was the spiritual cowardice 
of these poor savages, that, like the negro victim of Obi, 
the man prayed at seldom failed to sicken as soon as he 
found out what was going on, and to waste away 
and die. 

This bit of heathen humbug now in operation, from so 
many distant portions of the earth, shows how radically 
similar is all heathenism. It shows, too, how mean, vul 
gar, filthy, and altogether vile, is such religion as man, 
unassisted, contrives for himself. It shows, again, how 
sadly great is the proportion of the human race still 
remaining in this brutal darkness. And, by contrast, it 
affords us great reason for thankfulness that we live in 
a land of better culture, and happier hopes and practices. 





Ordeals belono- to times and communities of rudeness, 


violence, materialism, ignorance, gross superstition and 
blind faith. The theory of ordeals is, that God will 
miraculously decide in the case of any accused person 
referred to Him. He will cause the accused to be vie- 


torious or defeated in a duel, will punish him on the 
spot for perjury, and if the innocent be exposed to cer 
tain physical dangers, will preserve him harmless. 

The duel, for instance, used to be called the " ordeal 
by battle," and was simply the commitment of the de 
cision of a cause to God. Duels were regularly pre 
faced by the solemn prayer " God show the right." 
Now-a-days nobody believes that skill with a pistol is 
going to be specially bestowed by the Almighty, with 
out diligent practice at a mark. Accordingly, the idea 
of a divine interposition has long ago dropped out of 
the question, and duelling is exclusively in the hands 
of the devil and his human votaries, is a purely bru 
tal absurdity. But in England, so long was this bloody, 
superstitious humbug kept up, that any hardened scoun 
drel who was a good hand at his weapon might, down 
to the year 1819, absolutely have committed murder 
under the protection of English law. Two years be 
fore that date, a country " rough " named Abraham 
Thornton, murdered his sweetheart, Mary Ashford, 
but by deficiency of proof was acquitted on trial. There 
was however a moral conviction that Thornton had 
killed the girl, and her brother, a mere lad, caused an 
appeal to be entered according to the English statute, 
and Thornton was a^aiii arraigned before the Kind s 

O O CT> 

Bench. In the mean time his counsel had looked up 
the obsolete proceedings about " assize of battle," arid 
when Thornton was placed at the bar he threw down 
his glove upon the floor according to the ancient forms, 
and challenged his accuser to mortal combat. In reply, 
the appellant, Ashford, set forth facts so clearly showing 


Thornton s guilt as to constitute (as be alleged,) cause 
for exemption from the combat, and for condemnation 
of the prisoner. The court, taken by surprise, spent 
five months in studying on the matter. At last it de 
cided that the fighting man had the law of England on 
his side, admitted his demand, and further, found that 
the matters alleged for exemption from combat were 
not sufficient. On this, poor William Ashford, who 
was but a boy, declined the combat by reason of his 
youth, and the prisoner was discharged, and walked in 
triumph out of court, the innocent blood still unaveng 
ed upon his hands. The old fogies of Parliament were 
startled at finding themselves actually permitting the 
practice of barbarisms abolished by the Greek emperor, 
Michael Palaeologus, in 1259, and by the good King 
Louis IX of France in 1270 ; and two years after 
wards, in 1819, the legal duel or " assize of battle " was 
by law abolished in England. It had been legal there 
for five centuries and a half, having been introduced by 
statute in 1261. 

Before that time, the ordeals by fire and by water 
were the regular legal ones in England. These were 
known even to the Anglo Saxon law, being mentioned 
in the code of Ina, A. D., about 700. It appears that 
fire was thought the most aristocratic element, for the 
ordeal by fire was used for nobles, and that by water 
for vulgarians and serfs. The operations were as fol 
lows : When one was accused of a crime, murder for 
instance, he had his choice whether to be tried " by 
God and his country," or " by God." If he chose the 
former he went before a jury. If the latter, he under- 


went the ordeal. Nine red hot ploughshares were laid 
on the ground in a row. The accused was blindfolded, 
and sent to walk over them. If he burnt himself he 
was guilty ; if not, not. Sometimes, instead of this, 
the accused carried a piece of red hot iron of from one 
to three pounds weight in his hand for a certain dis 

The ordeal by water was, in one form at least, the 
same wise alternative in after years so often offered to 
witches. The accused was tied up in a heap, each arm 
to the other leg, and flung into water. If he floated 
he was guilty, and must be killed. If he sank and 
drowned, he was innocent but killed. Trial was 
therefore synonymous with execution. The nature of 
such alternatives shows how important it was to have 
a character above suspicion ! Another mode was, for 
the accused to plunge his bare arm into boiling water 
to the elbow. The arm was then instantly sealed up 
in bandages under charge of the clergy for three days. 
If it was then found perfectly well, the accused was 
acquitted ; if not, he was found guilty. 

Another ordeal was expurgation or compurgation. 
It was a simple business "as easy as swearing;" 
very much like a " custom house oath." It was only 
this : the accused made solemn oath that he was not 
guilty, and all the respectable men he could muster 
came and made their solemn oath that they believed so 
too. This is much like the jurisprudence of the Dutch 
justice of the peace in the old story, before whom two 
men swore that they saw the prisoner steal chickens. 
The thief however, crettino; a little time to collect tes- 


timony, brought in twelve men who swore that they 
did not see him take the chickens. " Balance of evi 
dence overwhelmingly in favor of the prisoner,* said 
the sapient justice (in Dutch I suppose,) and finding 
him innocent in a ratio of six to one, he discharged 
him at once. 

This ordeal by oath was reserved for people of emi 
nence, whose word went for something, and who had a 
good many thorough-going friends. 

Another sort of ordeal was reserved for priests. It 
was called corsned. The priest who took the ordeal by 
corsned received a bit of bread or a bit of cheese which 
was loaded heavily, by way of sauce, with curses upon 
whomsoever should eat it falsely. This he ate, togeth 
er with the bread of the Lord s supper. Everybody 
knew that if he were guilty, the sacred mouthful would 
choke him to death on the spot. History records no 
instance of the choking of any priest in this ordeal, but 
there is a story that the Saxon Earl Godwin of Kent 
took the corsned to clear himself of a charge of mur 
der, and (being a layman) was choked. I fully be 
lieve that Earl Godwin is dead, for he was born about 
the year 1000. But I have not the least idea that 
corsned killed him. 

The priests had the management of ordeals, which, 
being appeals to God, were reckoned religious ceremo 
nies. They of course much preferred the swearing and 
eating and hot iron and water ordeals, which could be 
kept under the regulation of clerical good sense. Not 
so with the ordeal by battle. No priests could do any 
thing with the wrath of two great mad ugly brutes, 


hot to kill each other, and crazy to risk having their 
own throats cut or skulls cleft rather than not have the 
chance. In consequence, the whole influence of the 
Romish church went against the ordeal by battle, and 
in favor of the others. Thus the former soon lost its 
religious element and became the mere duel ; abase in 
dulgence of a beast s passion for murder and revenge. 
The progress of enlightenment gradually pushed or 
deals out of court. Mobs have however always tried 
the ordeal by water on witches. 

Almost all the heathen ordeals have depended on fire, 
water, or something to eat or drink. Even in the Bible 
we find an ordeal prescribed to the Jews (Number^, 
chap v.,) for an unfaithful wife, who is there directed 
to drink some water with certain ceremonies, which 
drink God promises shall cause a fatal disease if she be 
guilty, and if not, not. It is worth noticing that Moses 
says not a word about any " water of jealousy," or any 
other ordeal, for unfaithful husbands ! 

This drinking or eating ordeal prevails quite exten 
sively even now. In Hindostan, theft is often enquir 
ed into by causing the suspected party to chew some 
dry rice or rice flour, which has some very strong curses 
stirred into it, corsned fashion. After chewing, the ac 
cused spits out his mouthful, and if it is either dry or 
bloody, he is guilty. It is easy to see how a rascal, if 
as credulous as rascals often are, would be so frightened 
that his mouth would be dry, and would thus betray his 
o\vn peccadillo. Another Hindoo mode was, to give a 
certain quantity of poison in butter, and if it did no 
harm, to acquit. Here, the man who mixes the dose 


is evidently the important person. In Madagascar they 
give some tangena water. Now tangena is a fruit of 
which a little vomits the patient, and a good deal poisons 
or kills him ; a quality which sufficiently explains how 
they manage that ordeal. 

Ordeals by fire and water are still practiced, with 
some variations, in Hindostan, China, Pegu, Siberia, 
Congo, Guinea, Senegambia and other pagan nations. 
Some of those still in use are odd enough. A Malabar 
one is to swim across" a certain river, which is full of 
crocodiles. A Hindoo one is, for the two parties to 
r,n accusation to stand out doors, each with one bare 
leg in a hole, he to win who can longest endure the 
bites they are sure to get. This would be a famous 
method in some of the New Jersey and New York and 
Connecticut seashore lowlands I know of. The mosqui 
toes would decide cases both civil and criminal, at a 
speed that would make a Judge of the Supreme Court 
as dizzy as a humming-top. Another Hindoo plan 
was for the accused to hold his head under water while 
a man walked a certain distance. If the walker chose 
to be lazy about it, or the prisoner had diseased lungs, 
this would be a rather severe method. The Wanakas 
in Eastern Africa, draw a red hot needle through the 
culprit s lips a most judicious place to get hold of an 
African ! and if the wound bleeds, he is guilty. In 
Siam, accuser and accused are put into a pen and a ti 
ger is let loose on them. He whom the tiger kills is 
guilty. If he kills both, both are guilty ; if neither, 
they try another mode. 

Blackstone says that an ordeal might always be tried 


by attorney. I should think this would give the le 
gal profession a very lively time whenever the courts 
were chiefly using tigers, poison, drowning, fire and 
red hot iron, but not so much so when a little swearing 
or eating was the only thing required. 

This whole business of ordeals is a singular supersti 
tion, and the extent of its employment shows how 
ready the human race is to believe that God is constant 
ly influencing even their ordinary private affairs. In oth 
er words, it is in principle like the doctrine of " special 
providence." Looked at as a superstition however 
considered as a humbug the history of ordeals show 
how corrupt becomes the nuisance of religious ways of 
deciding secular business, and how proper is our great 
American principle of the separation of state and 


The annals of ancient history are peculiarly rich in 
narratives of pretension and imposition, and either ow 
ing to the greater ignorance and credulity of mankind, 
or the superior skill of gifted but unscrupulous men in 
those days, present a few examples that even surpass the 
most remarkable products of the modern science of 

One of their most surprising instances in fact, per 
haps, absolutely the leading impostor was the sage or 


charlatan (for it is difficult to determine which) known 
as Apollomus Tyana3us so called from Tyana, in Cap- 
padocia, Asia Minor, his birthplace, where he first saw 
the light about four years earlier than Christ, and con 
sequently more than eighteen and a halt centuries ago. 
His arrival upon this planet was attended with some 
very amazing demonstrations. With his first cry, a 
flash of lightning darted from the heavens to the earth 
and hack again, dogs howled, cats mewed, roosters crow 
ed, and flocks of swans, so say the olden chroniclers 
probably geese, every one of them clapped their 
wings in the adjacent meadows with a supernatural clat 
ter. Ushered into the world with such surprising omens 
as these, young Apollonius could not fail to make a 
noise himself, ere long. Sent by his doting father to 
Tarsus, in Cilicia, to be educated, he found the dissipa 
tions of the place too much for him, and soon removed 
to ^Egse, a smaller city, at no great distance from the 
other. There he adopted the doctrines of Pythagoras, 
and subjected himself to the regular discipline of that 
curious system whose first process was a sort of juvenile 
gag-law, the pupils being required to keep perfectly silent 
for a period of five years, during which time it was for 
bidden to utter a single word. Even in those days, few 
female scholars preferred this practice, and the boys had 
it all to themselves, nor were they by any means nu 
merous. After this probation was over, they were en 
joined to speak and argue with moderation. 

At JEga3 there stood a temple dedicated to ^Escula- 
pius, who figured on earth as a great physician and com- 
pounder of simples, and after death was made a god. The 


edifice was much larger and more splendid than the 
Brandreth House on Broadway, although we have no 
record of JEsculapius having bestowed upon the world 
any such benefaction as the universal pills. However, 
unlike our modern M. D.s, the latter was in the habit of 
re-appearing after death, in this temple, and there hold 
ing forth to the faithful on various topics of domestic 
medicine. Apollonius was allowed to take up his res 
idence in the establishment, and, no doubt, the priests 
initiated him into all their dodges to impose upon the 
people. Another tenet of the Pythagorean faith was a 
total abstinence from beans, an arrangement which 
would be objectionable in New England and in Nassau 
street eating houses. 

Apollonius however, who knew nothing of Yankees or 
Nassau street, manfully completed his novitiate. Re 
stored at length to the use of beans and of his talking 
apparatus, he set forth upon a lecturing tour through 
Pamphylia and Cilicia. His themes were temperance, 
economy, and good behavior, and for the very novelty 
of the thing, crowds of disciples soon gathered about 
him. At the town of Aspenda he made a great hit, 
when he " pitched into " the corn merchants who had 
bought up all the grain during a period of scarcity, and 
sold it to the people at exorbitant prices. Of course, 
such things are not permitted in our day ! Apollonius 
moved by the sufferings of women and children, took his 
stand in the market place, and with his stylus wrote in 
large characters upon a tablet the following advice to 
the speculators in grain : 

" The earth, the common mother of all, is just. 


But, ye being unjust, would make her a bountiful moth 
er to yourselves alone. Leave off your dishonest traffic, 
or ye sha*ll be no longer permitted to live." 

The grain-merchants, upon beholding this appeal, re 
lented, for there was conscience in those days ; and, 
moreover, the populace had prepared torches, and pro 
posed to fry a few of the offenders, like oysters in 
bread-crumbs. So they yielded at once, and ereat was 
the fame of the prophet. Thus elevated in his own 
opinion, Apollonius, still preaching virtue by the way 
side, set out for Babylon, after visiting the cities of 
Antioch, Ephesus, etc., always attracting immense 
crowds. As he penetrated further toward the remote 
East, his troops of followers fell off , until he was left 
with only three companions, who went with him to the 
end. One of these was a certain Damis, who wrote a 
description of the journey, and, by the way, tells us 
that his master spoke all languages, even those of the 
animals. We have men in our own country who can 
talk " horse-talk " at the races, but probably none so 
perfectly as this great Tyanean. The author of " The 
Ruined Cities of Africa," a recent publication, informs 
us that at Lamba, an African village, there is a leopard 
who can " speak." This would go to show that the 
" animals," are aspiring in a direction directly the op 
posite of the acquirements of Apollonius, and I shall 
secure that leopard, if possible, for exhibition in the 
Museum, and for a fair consideration send him to any 
public meeting where some one is needed who will 
come up to the scratch ! 

But, to resume. On his way to Babylon, Apollonius 


saw by the roadside a lioness and eight whelps, where 
they had been killed by a party of hunters, and argued 
from the omen that he should remain in that city just 
one year and eight months, which of course turned out 
to be exactly the case. The Babylonish monarch was 
so delighted with the eloquence and skill of the noted 
stranger, that he promised him any twelve gifts that he 
might choose to ask for. but Apollonius declined accept 
ing anything but food and raiment. However, the 
King gave him camels and escort to assist his journey 
over the northern mountains of Hindostan, which he 
crossed, and entered the ancient city of Taxilia. On 
the way, he had a high time in the gorges of the hills 
with a horrible hobgoblin of the species called empusa 
by the Greeks. This demon terrified his companions 
half out of their wits, but Apollonius bravely assailed 
him with all sorts of hard words, and, to literally trans 
late the old Greek narrative, " blackguarded " him so 
effectually that the poor devil fled with his tail between 
his legs. At Taxilia, Phraortes, the King, a lineal de 
scendant of the famous Porus and truly a porous 
personage, since he was renowned for drinking gave 
the philosopher a grand reception, and introduced him to 
the chief of the Brahmins, whose temples he explored. 
These Hindoo gentlemen opened the eyes of Apollo 
nius wider than they had ever been before, and taught 
him a few things he had never dreamed of, but which 
served him admirably during his latter career. He re 
turned to Europe by way of the Red Sea, passing 
through Ephesus, where he vehemently denounced the 
speculators in gold and other improper persons. As 


they did not heed him, he predicted the plague, and 
left for Smyrna. Sure enough, the pestilence broke 
out just after his departure, and the Ephesians tele 
graphed to Smyrna, by the only means in their power, 
for his immediate return ; gold, in the meanwhile, fall 
ing at least ten per cent. Apollonius reappeared in 
the twinkling of an eye, suddenly, in the very midst 
of the wailing crowd, on the market place. Pointing 
to a beggar, he directed the people to stone that par 
ticular unfortunate, and they obeyed so effectually, that 
the hapless creature was in a few moments completely 
buried under a huge heap of brickbats. The next 
morning, the philosopher commanded the throng to re 
move the pile of stones, and as they did so, a dog was 
discovered instead of the beggar. The dog sprang up, 
wagged his tail, and made away at "two-forty " and with 
him the pestilence departed. For this feat, the Ephe 
sians called Apollonius a god, and reared a statue to 
his honor. The appellation of divinity he willingly ac 
cepted, declaring that it was only justice to good men. 
In these degenerate days, we have accorded the term 
to only one person, " the divine Fanny Ellsler ! " 
That, too, was a tribute to superior understanding ! 

Our hero next visited Pergamus, the site of ancient 
Troy, where he shut himself up all night in the tomb 
of Achilles ; and having raised the great departed, held 
conversation with him on a variety of military topics. 
Among otber things, Achilles told him that the theory 
of his having been killed by a wound in the heel was 
all nonsense, as he had really died from being bitten by 
a puppy, in the back. If the reader does not believe 


me, let him consult the original MS. of Damis. The 
same accident has disabled several great generals in 
modern times. 

Apollonius next made a tour through Greece, visit 
ing Athens, Sparta, Olympia, and other cities, and ex 
horting the dissolute Greeks to mend their evil courses. 
The Spartans, particularly, came in for a severe lecture 
on the advantages of soap and water ; and, it is said, 
that the first clean face ever seen in that republic was 
the result of the great Tyanean s teachings. At Ath 
ens, he cured a man possessed of a demon ; the latter 
bouncing out of his victim, at length, with such fury 
and velocity as to dash down a neighboring marble 

The Isle of Crete was the next point on the journey, 
and an earthquake occurring at the time, Apollonius 
suddenly exclaimed in the streets : 

" The earth is bringing forth land." 

Folks looked as he pointed toward the sea, and there 
beheld a new island in the direction of Therae. 

He arrived at Rome, whither his fame had preceded 
him, just as the Emperor Nero h;d issued an edict 
against all who dealt in magic ; and, although he knew 
that he was included in the denunciation, he boldly 
w r ent to the forum, where he restored to life the dead 
body of a beautiful lady, and predicted an eclipse of 
the sun, which shortly occurred. Nero caused him to 
be arrested, loaded with chains, and flung into an un 
derground dungeon. When his jailers next made their 
rounds, they found the chains broken and the cell 
empty, but heard the chanting of invisible angels. 


This story would not be believed by the head jailer at 
Sing Sing. 

Prolonging his trip as far as Spain, Apollonius there 
got up a sedition against the authority of Nero, and 
thence crossed over into Africa. This was the darkest 
period of his history. From Africa, he proceeded to 
the South of Italy and the island of Sicily, still discours 
ing as he went. About this time, he heard of Nero s 
death, and returned to Egypt, where Vespasian was en 
deavoring to establish his authority. While in Egypt, 
he explored the supposed sources of the Nile, and learned 
all the lore of the Ethiopean necromancers, who could 
do any thing, even to making a black man white ; thus 
greatly excelling the skill of after ages. 

Vespasian had immense faith in the Tyanean sage, 
and consulted him upon the most important matters of 
State. Titus, the successor of that monarch, manifest 
ed equal confidence, and regarded him absolutely as an 
oracle. Apollonius, who really seems to have been a 
most sensible politician, wrote the following brief but 
pithy note to Titus, when the latter modestly refused 
the crown of victory, after having destroyed Jerusalem. 

44 Apollonius to Titus, Emperor of Rome, sendeth 
greeting. Since you have refused to be applauded for 
bloodshed and victory in war, I send you the crown of 
moderation. You know to what kind of merit crowns 
are due." 

Yet Apollonius was by no means an ultra peace man, 
for he strongly advocated the shaving and clothing of 
the Ethiopians, and their thorough chastisement when 
they refused to be combed and purified. 


When Domitian grasped at the imperial sceptre, the 
great Tyanean sided with his rival, Nerva, and having 
for this offence been seized and cast into prison, sudden 
ly vanished from sight and reappeared on the instant at 
Puteoli, one hundred and fifty miles away. The dis 
tinguished Mr. Jewett, of Colorado, is the only instance 
of similar rapidity of locomotion known to us in this 
country and time. 

After taking breath at Puteoli, the sage resumed his 
travels and revisted Greece, Asia Minor, etc. At Eph- 
esus he established his celebrated school, and then, once 
more returning to Crete, happened to give his old friends, 
the Cretans, great offence, and was shut up in the tem 
ple Dictymna to be devoured by famished dogs ; but the 
next morning was found perfectly unharmed in the 
midst of the docile animals, who had already made con 
siderable progress in the Pythagorean philosophy, and 
were gathered around the philosopher", seated on their 
hind legs, with open mouths and lolling tongues, intent 
ly listening to him while he lectured them in the canine 
tongue. So devoted had they become to their eloquent 
instructor, and so enraged were they at the interruption 
when the Cretans re-opened the temple, that they rush 
ed out upon the latter and made a breakfast of a few of 
the leading men. 

This is one of the last of the remarkable incidents 
that we find recorded of the mighty Apollonius. How 
he came to his end is quite uncertain, but some vera 
cious chroniclers declare that he simply dried up and 
blew away. Others aver that he lived to the good old 
age of ninety-seven, and then quietly gave up the ghost 
at Tyana, where a temple was dedicated to his memory. 


However that may be, he was subsequently worshiped 
with divine honors, and so highly esteemed bv the 
greatest men of after days, that even Aurelian refused 
to sack Tyana, out of respect to the philosopher s ashes. 

Dion Cassius, the historian, records one of the most 
remarkable instances of his clairvoyance or second 
sight. He states that Apollonius, in the midst of a dis 
course at Ephesus, suddenly paused, and then in a differ 
ent voice, exclaimed, to the astonishment of all : - 
" Have courage, good Stephanus ! Strike ! strike ! 
Kill the tyrant ! " On that same day, the hated Do- 
mitian was assassinated at Rome by a man named Ste 
phanus. The humdrum interpretation of this " mir 
acle " is simply that Apollonius had a foreknowledge 
of the intended attempt upon the tyrant s life. 

Long afterwards, Cagliostro claimed that he had been 
a fellow-traveler with Apollonius, and that his myster 
ious companion, the sage Athlotas, was the very same 
personage, who, consequently, at that time, must have 
reached the ripe age of some 1784 years a lapse of 
time beyond the memory of even " the oldest inhabi 
tant," in these parts, at least ! 


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Victor Hugo. 

LES MISERABLES. The best edition, two elegant 8vo. vols., 
beautifully bound in cloth, $5.50; half calf, . . $10.00 

LES MISERABLES. The pabular edition, one large octavo vol 
ume, paper covers, $2.00 ; cloth bound, . . $2.50 

JARGAL.-A very remarkable novel. With six illustra 
tions. In press. . . . izmo. cloth, $1.50 

LES MISERABLES In the Spanish language. Fine 8vo. edition 
two vols., paper covers, $4.00 ; or cloth, bound, . $5.00 

THE LIFE OF VICTOR HUGO. By himself. 8vo. cloth, $1.75 
By the Author of "Kutledge." 

RUTLEDGE. A deeply interesting novel. izmo. cloth, $1.75 

THE SUTHERLANDS. do. . . do. $1.75 

FRANK WARRINGTON. do. . . do. $1-75 

LOUIE S LAST TERM AT ST. MARY S. . . do. $1-75 

ST. PHILIP S. Just published. . . do. $i75 
Haiid-Books of Good Society. 

THE HABITS OF GOOD SOCIETY; with Thoughts, Hints, and 
Anecdotes, concerning nice points of taste, good manners 
and the art of making oneself agreeable. Reprinted fron 
the London Edition. The best and most entertaining wor 
of the kind ever published. . . izmo. cloth, $1.7 
UE ART OF CONVERSATION. With directions for self-culture 
A sensible and instructive work, that ought to be in th 
hands of every one who wiohes to be either an agreeabl 
talker or listener. . . . I2mo. cloth, $1.50 

Mis* Augusta J. Evans. 

BEULAH. A novel of great power. . izmo. cloth, 81.75 
MACARIA. do. do. . do. $1.75 


Mrs. Mary J. Holmes Work*. 

DARKNESS AN D DAYLIGHT. Just published. 1 Zmo. cl $1.50 

LENA RIVERS.- . . A Novd. do. $1.50 

TEMPEST AND SUNSHINE, . do. do. $1.50 

MARIAN GREY - . do do. $1.$C 

MEADOW BROOK. . . . do. do. $1.50 

ENGLISH ORPHANS. . . do. do. ^l.JC 

DORA DEANE. . . . do. do. $1.50 

COUSIN MAUDE.- . . . do. do. $1.50 


HUGH WORTHINGTON.- Just published. do. $1.50 

ArlcituiM Ward. 

HIS BOOK. An irresistibly hinny volume of writings by the 
immortal American humorist. . . izmo. cloth, $1.^0 

HIS TRAVELS.-A rich and racy new volume with Mormon ad 
ventures. Full of laughable illustrations. izmo. cl., $1.50 
MiNN Mulocli. 

JOHN HALIFAX. A novel. With illust. izmo., cloth, $1.75 

A LIFE FOR A LIFE. . do. . do. $1.75 

Charlotte Bronte (Currer Bell). 

JANE EYRE. A novel. With illustration, izmo. cloth, $1.75 

THE PROFESSOR. QO. . do. . do. $1*75 

SHIRLEY. . do. . do. . do. $i-75 

VILLETTE. . do. . do. . do. $1.75 

Gco \V. Carleton. 

OUR ARTIST IN CUBA. A humorous vol. of travels ; with 
fifty comic illustrations by the author, izmo. cloth, $1.50 

Robinson Crusoe. 
Complete unabridged edition. Illustrated, izmo. cloth, $1.50 

H. T. Sperry. 
COUNTRY LOVE. Illustrated by Hoppin. izmo. cloth, $2.00 

Joseph Hodman Drake. 
THE CULPRIT FAY. A charming poem. Cloth bound, $l.oo 

Richard B. KimbalL 
WAS HE SUCCESSFUL.- A novel. izmo. cloth, $1.75 

UNDERCURRENTS.- do. do. $1-75 

SAINT LEGER.- do. do. $1.75 

ROMANCE OF STUDENT LIFE.- do. do. $1.75 

IN THE TROPICS.- do. do. $175 


A. S. Roe s Works. 

A LONG LOOK AHEAD. A novel. 1ZH1O. cloth, $1.50 

TO LOVE AND TO BE LOVED.- do. . . do. $1.50 

TIME AND TIDE. do. . . do. $1.50 

TVE BEEN THINKING. do. . . do. $1.50 

OHE STAR AND THE CLOUD. do. . . do. $1.5C 

RUE TO THE LAST. do. . . do. $1.5< 

OW COULD HE HELP IT. do. . . do. $1.50 

LIKE AND UNLIKE. do. . . do. $1.50 

LOOKING AROUND.- Just published. do $1.50 

Walter Barrett, Clerk. 

OLD MERCHANTS OF NEW YORK.-Being personal incidents, 
interesting sketches, bits of biography, and gossipy events 
in the life of nearly every leading merchant in New York 
City. Three series. . . izmo. cloth, each, $1.75 

T. S. Arthur s New \Vorks. 

LIGHT ON SHADOWED PATHS.-A novel. 1 ZmO. cloth, $1.50 

OUT IN THE WORLD. do. . do. $1.50 

NOTHING BUT MONEY, do. . do. $1.50 


Orpheus C. Kerr. 

ORPHEUS o. KERR PAPERS. Three series, izmo. cloth, $1.50 
THE PALACE BEAUTIFUL. And other poems, do. $1.50 

OT. nrichelet 8 Works. 

LOVE (L AMOUH). From the French. izmo. cloth, $1.50 

WOMAN (LA FEMME.) do. . . do. $1.50 

Kdmuitd Itirke. 

AMONG THE PINES. A Southern sketch. izmo. cloth, $1.50 

MY SOUTHERN FRIENDS. do. do. . $1.50 

DOWN IN TENNESSEE, fust published. . do. $1.50 

Cutlibert Bcde. 

VKPJDANT GREEN. A rollicking, humorous novel of English 

student life; with zoo comic illustrations, izmo. cloth, $1.50 

a tiAKER AND DEARER. A novel, illustrated, izmo. clo. $1.50 

truest Kenan. 

THE LIFE OF JESUS. Translated by C. E. Wilbour fiom the 

celebrated French work. . . izmo. cloth, Si. 7 5 


Cuyler Pine. 

MARY BRANDEGEE. An American novel * $i75 
* NEW NOVEL. In 6ress $1.7 5 


Josh Billings. 

HIS BOOK. Containing all the rich comic sayings of this cele 
brated writer. Illustrated. In press. 121110. cloth, 1.50 

Eyes Sargent. 

PECULIAR. -One of the most remarkable and successful novels 
published in this country. . . 121110. cloth, $1.75 

Mrs. Ritchie (Anna Cora Mowatt). 
FAIRY FiNGERS.-A new novel. . I2ino. cloth, $1.75 

THE. MUTE SINGER.- do. InpTtSS. do. $1.7) 

Robert 15. Roosevelt. 

THE GAME FISH OF THE NORTH.-Illustrated. 1 2IT1O. cl. $2.OO 


John Phoenix. 

THE SQUIBOB PAPERS.-A new humorous volume, filled with 
comic illustrations by the author. 12 mo. cloth, $1.50 

J. Sheridan Le Fanu. 
WYLDER S HAND. A powerful new novel. 121110. cloth, $1.75 


P. T. Bariums. 
THE HUMBUGS OF THE WORLD.- In preSS. 1 2IT1O. cloth, $1.7$ 

Charles Reade. 

THE CLOISTER AND THE HEARTH. A magnificent new novel, by 
the author of " Hard Cash," etc. . 8vo. cloth, 82.00 

The Opera. 

TALES FROM THE OPERAS.-A collection of clever stories, based 
upon the plots of all the famous operas. I2mo. cl., $i.yO 

J. C. Jeaffreson. 

A BOOK ABOUT DOCTORS. An entertaining volume abou ( 
famous physicians and surgeons. . 1 2mo. cloth, $1.75 

F. D. Guerrazzi. 

BEATRICE CENCi.-The great historical novel. Translated from 
the Italian ; with a portrait of the Cenci, from Guide s 
famous picture in Rome. . . 121110. cloth, $1.75 

Private Miles O Reilly. 

HIS BOOK.-Comic songs, speeches, etc. i 2mo. cloth, $1.50 
A NEW BOOK.- Jn press. . . . . do. $1.50 

Rev. John dimming, D.D., of London. 

THE GREAT TRIBULATION.-TwO series. 1 2IT1O. cloth, $1.53 

THE GREAT PREPARATION.- do. . do. $1.53 

THE GREAT CONSUMMATION.- do. . do. $1.50 


Comery of Montgomery. 

A striking new novel. One thick vol., izmo. cloth, $2.00 

1W. A. Fisher. 
A SPINSTER S STORY.-A novel. In press, izmo. cloth, $1.75 

Novels by Itufflui. 

DR. ANTONIO.-A love story of Italy. I2mo. cloth, $1.75 


VINCENZO; OR, SUNKEN ROCKS.- 8vO. cloth, $1.75 

Iflother Goose for Grown Folks. 

HUMOROUS RHYMES for grown people ; based upon the famous 
" Mother Goose Melodies." . . izmo. cloth, $1.00 
The New York Central Park. 

4 SUPERB GIFT BOOK. The Central Park pleasantly described, 
and magnificently embellished with more than 50 exquisite 
photographs of the principal views and objects of interest. 
A large quarto volume, sumptuously bound in Turkey 
morocco. An elegant Presentation Book. $30.00 

ML T. Walworth. 
LULU. A new novel. . . . izmo. cloth, $1.50 

HOTSPUR.- do. ... do. $1.50 

Author of " Olie." 

NEPENTHE.-A new novel. . . izmo. cloth, $1.50 

TOGETHER.- do. . . do. $1.50 

N. H. Chamberlain. 


Amelia 15. Edwards. 

BALLADS. By author of " Barbara s History." $1.50 

S. M. Johnson. 

Captain Semmes. 


Hewes Gordon. 

LOVERS AND THINKERS.-A new novel. . . . $1.50 

Caroline May. 

POEMS. Printed on tinted paper. izmo. cloth, $1.50 

James H. Hackett. 


Stephen Ttlassctt. 

DRIFTING ABOUT,-Comic book, illustrated, izmo. cloth, $1.50 


miscellaneous Works. 

vicioiRE.-A new novel. . . . izmo. cloth, $1.75 

QUEST.- do. ... do. $1.50 

POEMS.-By Mrs. Sarah T. Bolton. . do. $1.50 

THE MORGESONS.-A novel by Mrs. Stoddard. do. $1.50 

JOHN -GLTILDEKSTRING S SIN. A novel. . 1 ZHIO. cloth, $1.50 

CENTEOLA. By author "Green Mountain Boys." do. $1.50 


THE PARTISAN LEADER. By Beverly Tucker. do. $1.50 

TREATISE ON DEAFNESS. By Dr. E. B. Lighthill. do. $1.50 

THE PRISONER OF STATE. By D. A. Mahoney. do. $1.50 

AROUND THE PYRAMIDS. By Gen. Aaron Ward. do. $1,50 

CHINA AND THE CHINESE. By W. L. G. Smith, do. $1.50 

THE WIXTHROPS.-A novel by J. R. Beckwith. do. $1.75 

bPREES AND SPLASHES. By Henry Morford. do. $1.50 

GARRET VAN HORN. A novel by J. S. Sauzade. do. $1.50 

SCHOOL FOR THE SOLDIER. By Capt. Van Ness. do. 50 cts. 

THE YACHTMAN S PRIMER. By T. R. Warren, do. 50 cfs. 

EDGAR POE AND HIS CRITICS. By Mrs. Whitman, do. $1.00 

ERIC; OR, LITTLE BY LITTLE. By F. W. Farrar. do. 81.50 

SAINT WINIFRED S. By the author of " Eric." do. $1.50 


MARRIED OFF. Illustrated satirical poem. c do. 50 cts. 



THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. J. G. Saxe, illustrated, do. 75 cts. 

ALEXANDER VON UUMBOLDT. Life and travels, do. $1.50 

LIFE OF HUGH MILLER The celebrated geologist, do. $1.50 

TACTICS ; or, Cupid in Shoulder-Straps. . do. 81.50 

DEBT AND GRACE. By Rev. C. F. Hudson. do. 81.75 

THE RUSSIAN BALL. Illustrated satirical poem. do. 50 cts. 

THE SNOBLACE BALL.- do. do. do. do. 50 cts. 

TEACH us TO PRAY. By Dr. Cumming. . do. $1.50 

AN ANSWER TO HUGH MILLER. By T. A. Davies. do. $1.50 
COSMOGONY.-By Thomas A. Davies. . 8vo. cloth, 82.00 

TWENTY YEARSaround the World. J. Guy Vassar. do. $3.75 

THE SLAVE POWER. By J. E. Cairnes. . . do. $2.00 

UURAL ARCHITECTURE. By M. Field, illustrated, do. $2.00 



TO ^ 202 Main Library 








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