THE LECTURE FIELD--SUCCESS--CAMBRIDGE--OXFORD--AN UNIQUE
ENTERTAINMENT--BARNUM EQUAL TO THE OCCASION--INVITED TO STAY A WEEK.
Seeing the necessity of making more money to assist in
extricating his affairs from financial disorder, Barnum went back to England, taking with
him Tom Thumb, whom he exhibited in all the principal places of England, Scotland and
Wales; this was early in 1858.
The tour was a profitable one, and the money, as fast as it
came in, was remitted to his agents and assignees in America.
At the suggestion of some of his American friends In London,
Barnum next appeared on the lecture platform. The subject chosen was "The Art of
Money Getting," although Barnum told his friends that in the light of recent events
he felt more competent to speak on the art of money losing. But they assured him that his
name having been associated with the Jenny Lind concerts and other great money-making
enterprises, the lecture would undoubtedly prove both attractive and profitable.
The lecture was widely advertised, of course, and at the
appointed time the great St. James' Hall, Regent Street, Piccadilly, was completely
filled. It was the evening of December 29, 1858. We subjoin extracts from the lecture,
which was closely listened to and well received by many more audiences than the one which
heard it first at St. James' Hall.
Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only
to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other
object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done. But however easy it
may be found to make money, I have no doubt many of my hearers will agree it is the most
difficult thing in the world to keep it. The road to wealth is, as Dr. Franklin truly
says, "as plain as the road to mill." It consists simply in expending less than
we earn; that seems to be a very simple problem. Mr. Micawber, one of those happy
creations of the genial Dickens, puts the case in a strong light when he says that to have
an income of twenty pounds per annum, and spend twenty pounds and sixpence, is to be the
most miserable of men; whereas, to have an income of only twenty pounds, and spend but
nineteen pounds and sixpence, is to be the happiest of mortals. Many of my hearers may
say, "we understand this; this is economy, and we know economy is wealth; we know we
can't eat our cake and keep it also." Yet I beg to say that perhaps more cases of
failure arise from mistakes on this point than almost any other. The fact is, many people
think they understand economy when they really do not.
True economy is misapprehended, and people go through life
without properly comprehending what that principle is. One says, "I have an income of
so much, and here is my neighbor who has the same; yet every year he gets something ahead
and I fall short; why is it? I know all about economy." He thinks he does, but he
does not. There are many who think that economy consists in saving cheese-parings and
candle-ends, in cutting off twopence from the laundress' bill and doing all sorts of
little mean, dirty things. Economy is not meanness. The misfortune is, also, that this
class of persons let their economy apply in only one direction. They fancy they are so
wonderfully economical in saving a half-penny where they ought to spend twopence, that
they think they can afford to squander in other directions. A few years ago, before
kerosene oil was discovered or thought of, one might stop over night at almost any
farmer's house in the agricultural districts and get a very good supper, but after supper
he might attempt to read in the sitting-room, and would find it impossible with the
inefficient light of one candle. The hostess, seeing his dilemma, would say: "It is
rather difficult to read here evenings; the proverb says 'you must have a ship at sea in
order to be able to burn two candles at once;' we never have an extra candle except on
extra occasions." These extra occasions occur, perhaps, twice a year. In this way the
good woman saves five, six, or ten dollars in that time; but the information which might
be derived from having the extra light would, of course, far outweigh a ton of candles.
But the trouble does not end here. Feeling that she is so
economical in tallow candles, she thinks she can afford to go frequently to the village
and spend twenty or thirty dollars for ribbons and furbelows, many of which are not
necessary. This false economy may frequently be seen in men of business, and in those
instances it often runs to writing-paper. You find good business men who save all the old
envelopes and scraps, and would not tear a new sheet of paper, if they could avoid it, for
the world. This is all very well; they may in this way save five or ten dollars a year,
but being so economical (only in note-paper), they think they can afford to waste time; to
have expensive parties, and to drive their carriages.
True economy consists in always making the income exceed the
out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of
gloves; mend the old dress; live on plainer food if need be; so that, under all
circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of
the income. A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating,
and in this way the desired result is attained. It requires some training, perhaps, to
accomplish this economy, but when once used to it, you will find there is more
satisfaction in rational saving than in irrational spending. Here is a recipe which I
recommend; I have found it to work an excellent cure for extravagance, and especially for
mistaken economy: When you find that you have no surplus at the end of the year, and yet
have a good income, I advise you to take a few sheets of paper and form them into a book
and mark down every item of expenditure. Post it every day or week in two columns, one
headed "necessaries" or even "comforts," and the other headed
"luxuries," and you will find that the latter column will be double, treble, and
frequently ten times greater than the former. The real comforts of life cost but a small
portion of what most of us can earn.
The foundation of success in life is good health; that is the
substratum of fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate a
fortune very well when he is sick. He has no ambition; no incentive; no force. Of course,
there are those who have bad health and cannot help it; you cannot expect that such
persons can accumulate wealth; but there are a great many in poor health who need not be
If, then, sound health is the foundation of success and
happiness in life, how important it is that we should study the laws of health, which is
but another expression for the laws of nature! The closer we keep to the laws of nature
the nearer we are to good health, and yet how many persons there are who pay no attention
to natural laws, but absolutely transgress them, even against their own natural
inclination. We ought to know that the "sin of ignorance" is never winked at in
regard to the violation of nature's laws; their infraction always brings the penalty. A
child may thrust its finger into the flames without knowing it will burn, and so suffers;
repentance, even, will not stop the smart. Many of our ancestors knew very little about
the principle of ventilation. They did not know much about oxygen, whatever other
"gin" they might have been acquainted with; and consequently, they built their
houses with little seven-by-nine feet bedrooms, and these good old pious Puritans would
lock themselves up in one of these cells, say their prayers and go to bed. In the morning
they would devoutly return thanks for the "preservation of their lives" during
the night, and nobody had better reason to be thankful. Probably some big crack in the
window, or in the door, let in a little fresh air, and thus saved them.
Many persons knowingly violate the laws of nature against
their better impulses, for the sake of fashion. For instance, there is one thing that
nothing living except a vile worm ever naturally loved, and that is tobacco; yet how many
persons there are who deliberately train an unnatural appetite, and overcome this
implanted aversion for tobacco, to such a degree that they get to love it. They have got
hold of a poisonous, filthy weed, or rather that takes a firm hold of them. Here are
married men who run about spitting tobacco-juice on the carpet and floors, and sometimes
even upon their wives besides. They do not kick their wives out-of-doors like drunken men,
but their wives, I have no doubt, often wish they were outside of the house. Another
perilous feature is that this artificial appetite, like jealousy, "grows by what it
feeds on;" when you love that which is unnatural, a stronger appetite is created for
the hurtful thing than the natural desire for what is harmless. There is an old proverb
which says that "habit is second nature," but an artificial habit is stronger
than nature. Take, for instance, an old tobacco-chewer; his love for the "quid"
is stronger than his love for any particular kind of food. He can give up roast beef
easier than give up the weed.
These remarks apply with tenfold force to the use of
intoxicating drinks. To make money, requires a clear brain. A man has got to see that two
and two make four; he must lay all his plans with reflection and forethought, and closely
examine all the details and the ins and outs of business. As no man can succeed in
business unless he has a brain to enable him to lay his plans, and reason to guide him in
their execution, so, no matter how bountifully a man may be blessed with intelligence, if
the brain is muddled, and his judgment warped by intoxicating drinks, it is impossible for
him to carry on business successfully. How many good opportunities have passed, never to
return, while a man was sipping a "social glass" with his friend! How many
foolish bargains have been made under the influence of the "nervine," which
temporarily makes its victim think he is rich. How many important chances have been put
off until to-morrow, and then forever, because the wine-cup has thrown the system into a
state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so essential to success in business. Verily,
"wine is a mocker." The use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage is as much an
infatuation as is the smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite as
destructive to the success of the business man as the latter. It is an unmitigated evil,
utterly indefensible in the light of philosophy, religion or good sense. It is the parent
of nearly every other evil in our country.
The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the
young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his
tastes. Parents and guardians are often quite too negligent in regard to this. It is very
common for a father to say, for example: "I have five boys. I will make Billy a
clergyman; John a lawyer; Tom a doctor, and Dick a farmer." He then goes into town
and looks about to see what he will do with Sammy. He returns home, and says: "Sammy,
I see watchmaking is a nice, genteel business; I think I will make you a goldsmith."
He does this, regardless of Sam's natural inclinations or genius.
We are all, no doubt, born for a wise purpose. There is as
much diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born natural mechanics,
while some have great aversion to machinery. Let a dozen boys of ten years get together,
and you will soon observe two or three are "whittling" out some ingenious
device; working with locks or complicated machinery. When they were but five years old
their father could find no toy to please them like a puzzle. They are natural mechanics;
but the other eight or nine boys have different aptitudes I belong to the latter class; I
never had the slightest love for mechanism; on the contrary, I have a sort of abhorrence
for complicated machinery. I never had ingenuity enough to whittle a cider-tap so it would
not leak. I never could make a pen that I could write with, or understand the principle of
a steam-engine. If a man was to take such a boy as I was, and attempt to make a watchmaker
of him, the boy might, after an apprenticeship of five or seven years be able to take
apart and put together a watch; but all through life he would be working uphill and
seizing every excuse for leaving his work and idling away his time. Watchmaking is
repulsive to him.
Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by
nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed. I am glad to believe
that the majority of persons do find their right vocation. Yet we see many who have
mistaken their calling from the blacksmith up (or down) to the clergyman. You will see,
for instance, that extraordinary linguist, the "learned blacksmith," who ought
to have been a teacher of languages; and you may have seen lawyers, doctors and clergymen
who were better fitted by nature for the anvil or the lapstone.
Avoid debt. Young men starting in life should avoid running
into debt. There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. It is a slavish
position to get in, yet we find many a young man, hardly out of his "teens,"
running in debt. He meets a chum, and says, "Look at this: I have got trusted for a
new suit of clothes." He seems to look upon the clothes as so much given to him;
well, it frequently is so, but, if he succeeds in paying and then gets trusted again, he
is adopting a habit which will keep him in poverty through life. Debt robs a man of his
self-respect, and makes him almost despise himself. Grunting and groaning and working for
what he has eaten up or worn out, and now when he is called upon to pay up he has nothing
to show for his money; this is properly termed "working for a dead horse." I do
not speak of merchants buying and selling on credit, or of those who buy on credit in
order to turn the purchase to a profit. The old Quaker said to his farmer son, "John,
never get trusted; but if thee gets trusted for anything, let it be for 'manure,' because
that will help thee pay it back again."
Mr. Beecher advised young men to get in debt if they could to
a small amount in the purchase of land in the country districts. "If a young
man," he says, "will only get in debt for some land and then get married, these
two things will keep him straight, or nothing will." This may be safe to a limited
extent, but getting in debt for what you eat and drink and wear is to be avoided. Some
families have a foolish habit of getting credit at "the stores," and thus
frequently purchase many things which might have been dispensed with.
It is all very well to say, "I have got trusted for
sixty days, and if I don't have the money the creditor will think nothing about it."
There is no class of people in the world who have such good memories as creditors. When
the sixty days run out you will have to pay. If you do not pay, you will break your
promise, and probably resort to a falsehood. You may make some excuse or get in debt
elsewhere to pay it, but that only involves you the deeper.
A good-looking, lazy young fellow, was the apprentice boy,
Horatio. His employer said, "Horatio, did you ever see a snail?"
"I--think--I--have," he drawled out. "You must have met him, then, for I am
sure you never overtook one," said the "boss." Your creditor will meet you
or overtake you and say, "Now, my young friend, you agreed to pay me; you have not
done it, you must give me your note." You give the note on interest and it commences
working against you; "it is a dead horse." The creditor goes to bed at night and
wakes up in the morning better off than when he retired to bed, because his interest has
increased during the night, but you grow poorer while you are sleeping, for the interest
is accumulating against you.
Among the maxims of the elder Rothschild was one, an apparent
paradox: "Be cautious and bold." This seems to be a contradiction in terms, but
it is not, and there is great wisdom in the maxim. It is, in fact, a condensed statement
of what I have already said. It is to say, "you must exercise your caution in laying
your plans, but be bold in carrying them out." A man who is all caution will never
dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness is merely reckless, and
must eventually fail. A man may go on "'change" and make fifty or one hundred
thousand dollars in speculating in stocks at a single operation. But if he has simple
boldness without caution, it is mere chance, and what he gains to-day he will lose
to-morrow. You must have both the caution and the boldness to insure success.
The Rothschilds have another maxim: "Never have anything
to do with an unlucky man or place." That is to say, never have anything to do with a
man or place which never succeeds, because, although a man may appear to be honest and
intelligent, yet if he tries this or that thing and always fails, it is on account of some
fault or infirmity that you may not be able to discover, but nevertheless which must
There is no such thing in the world as luck. There never was
a man who could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street to-day,
and another to-morrow, and so on, day after day. He may do so once in his life; but so far
as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as to find it. "Like causes
produce like effects." If a man adopts the proper methods to be successful,
"luck" will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it,
although, perhaps, he may not be able to see them.
We all depend, more or less, upon the public for our support.
We all trade with the public--lawyers, doctors, shoemakers, artists, blacksmiths, showmen,
opera singers, railroad presidents, and college professors. Those who deal with the public
must be careful that their goods are valuable; that they are genuine, and will give
satisfaction. When you get an article which you know is going to please your customers,
and that when they have tried it they will feel they have got their money's worth, then
let the fact be known that you have got it. Be careful to advertise it in some shape or
other, because it is evident that if a man has ever so good an article for sale, and
nobody knows it, it will bring him no return. In a country like this, where nearly
everybody reads, and where newspapers are issued and circulated in editions of five
thousand to two hundred thousand, it would be very unwise if this channel was not taken
advantage of to reach the public in advertising. A newspaper goes into the family, and is
read by wife and children, as well as the head of the house; hence hundreds and thousands
of people may read your advertisement, while you are attending to your routine business.
Many, perhaps, read it while you are asleep. The whole philosophy of life is, first
"sow," then "reap." That is the way the farmer does; he plants his
potatoes and corn, and sows his grain, and then goes about something else, and the time
comes when he reaps. But he never reaps first and sows afterwards. This principle applies
to all kinds of business, and to nothing more eminently than to advertising. If a man has
a genuine article, there is no way in which he can reap more advantageously than by
"sowing" to the public in this way. He must, of course, have a really good
article, and one which will please his customers; anything spurious will not succeed
permanently, because the public is wiser than many imagine. Men and women are selfish, and
we all prefer purchasing where we can get the most for our money; and we try to find out
where we can most surely do so.
You may advertise a spurious article, and induce many people
to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as an impostor and swindler, and your
business will gradually die out and leave you poor. This is right. Few people can safely
depend upon chance custom. You all need to have your customers return and purchase again.
A man said to me, "I have tried advertising and did not succeed; yet I have a good
I replied, "My friend, there may be exceptions to a
general rule. But how do you advertise?"
"I put it in a weekly newspaper three times, and paid a
dollar and a half for it." I replied: "Sir, advertising is like learning--'a
little is a dangerous thing!' "
A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper
does not see the first insertion of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he
sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at
the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is
ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases." Your object in
advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have
not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money
you have spent is lost.
Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out
of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which
can be done just as well now. The old proverb is full of truth and meaning: "Whatever
is worth doing at all, is worth doing well." Many a man acquires a fortune by doing
his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains poor for life, because he only half
does it. Ambition, energy, industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for
success in business.
Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who
does not help himself. It won't do to spend your time like Mr. Micawber, in waiting for
something to "turn up." To such men one of two things usually "turns
up:" the poor-house or the jail; for idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in
rags. The poor spendthrift vagabond said to a rich man:
"I have discovered there is money enough in the world
for all of us, if it was equally divided; this must be done, and we shall all be happy
"But," was the response, "if everybody was
like you, it would be spent in two months, and what would you do then?"
"Oh! divide again; keep dividing, of course!"
I was recently reading in a London paper an account of a like
philosophic pauper, who was kicked out of a cheap boarding-house because he could not pay
his bill, but he had a roll of papers sticking out of his coat pocket, which, upon
examination, proved to be his plan for paying off the national debt of England without the
aid of a penny. People have got to do as Cromwell said: "Not only trust in
Providence, but keep the powder dry." Do your part of the work, or you cannot
succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in the desert, overheard one of his fatigued
followers remark: "I will loose my camel, and trust it to God." "No, no,
not so," said the prophet; "tie thy camel, and trust it to God." Do all you
can for yourselves, and then trust to Providence, or luck, or whatever you please to call
it, for the rest.
Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business
secrets. If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing is
gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your profits, your hopes,
your expectations, your intentions. And this should apply to letters as well as to
conversation. Goethe makes Mephistophiles say: "Never write a letter nor destroy
one." Business men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in
them. If you are losing, money, be specially cautious and not tell of it or you will lose
Preserve your integrity. It is more precious than, diamonds
or rubies. The old miser said to his sons: "Get money; get it honestly, if you can,
but get money." This advice was not only atrociously wicked, but it was the very
essence of stupidity. It was as much as to say, "if you find it difficult to obtain
money honestly, you can easily get it dishonestly. Get it in that way." Poor fool!
Not to know that the most difficult thing in life is to make money dishonestly! not to
know that our prisons are full of men who attempted to follow this advice; not to
understand that no man can be dishonest without soon being found out, and that when his
lack of principle is discovered, nearly every avenue to success is closed against him
forever. The public very properly shun all whose integrity is doubted. No matter how
polite and pleasant and accommodating a man may be, none of us dare to deal with him if we
suspect "false weights and measures." Strict honesty not only lies at the
foundation of all success in life (financially), but in every other respect.
Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable. It secures to its possessor a peace
and joy which cannot be attained without it--which no amount of money, or houses and
lands, can purchase. A man who is known to be strictly honest, may be ever so poor, but he
has the purses of all the community at his disposal--for all know that if he promises to
return what he borrows, he will never disappoint them. As a mere matter of selfishness,
therefore, if a man had no higher motive for being honest, all will find that the maxim of
Dr. Franklin can never fail to be true--that "honesty is the best policy."
I hold that no man ought ever to indorse a note or become
security for any man, be it his father or brother, to a greater extent than he can afford
to lose and care nothing about, without taking good security. Here is a man that is worth
twenty thousand dollars; he is doing a thriving manufacturing or mercantile trade; you are
retired and living on your money; he comes to you and says:
"You are aware that I am worth twenty thousand dollars,
and don't owe a dollar: if I had five thousand dollars in cash, I could purchase a
particular lot of goods and double my money in a couple of months; will you indorse my
note for that amount?"
You reflect that he is worth twenty thousand dollars, and you
incur no risk by indorsing his note; you like to accommodate him, and you lend your name
without taking the precaution of getting security. Shortly after, he shows you the note
with your indorsement cancelled, and tells you, probably truly, "that he made the
profit that he expected by the operation;" you reflect that you have done a good
action, and the thought makes you feel happy. By and by the same thing occurs again and
you do it again; you have already fixed the impression in your mind that it is perfectly
safe to indorse his notes without security.
But the trouble is, this man is getting money too easily. He
has only to take your note to the bank, get it discounted, and take the cash. He gets
money for the time being without effort; without inconvenience to himself. Now mark the
result. He sees a chance for speculation outside of his business. A temporary investment
of only $10,000 is required. It is sure to come back before a note at the bank would be
due. He places a note for that amount before you. You sign it almost mechanically. Being
firmly convinced that your friend is responsible and trustworthy, you indorse his notes as
a "matter of course."
Unfortunately the speculation does not come to a head quite
so soon as was expected, and another $10,000 note must be discounted to take up the last
one when due. Before this note matures the speculation has proved an utter failure and all
the money is lost. Does the loser tell his friend, the indorser, that he has lost half of
his fortune? Not at all. He don't even mention that he has speculated at all. But he has
got excited; the spirit of speculation has seized him; he sees others making large sums in
this way (we seldom hear of the loser), and, like other speculators, he "looks for
his money where he loses it." He tries again. Indorsing notes has become chronic with
you, and at every loss he gets your signature for whatever amount he wants. Finally you
discover your friend has lost all of his property and all of yours. You are overwhelmed
with astonishment and grief, and you say "it is a hard thing; my friend here has
ruined me," but, you should add, "I have also ruined him." If you had said
in the first place, "I will accommodate you, but I never indorse without taking ample
security," he could not have gone beyond the length of his tether, and he would never
have been tempted away from his legitimate business. It is a very dangerous thing,
therefore, at any time, to let people get possession of money too easily; it tempts them
to hazardous speculations, if nothing more. Solomon truly said, "He that hateth
suretiship is sure."
We sometimes see men who have obtained fortunes suddenly
become poor. In many cases this arises from intemperance, and often from gaming and other
bad habits. Frequently it occurs because a man has been engaged in "outside
operations" of some sort. When he gets rich in his legitimate business, he is told of
a grand speculation where he can make a score of thousands. He is constantly flattered by
his friends, who tell him that he is born lucky, that everything he touches turns into
gold. Now if he forgets that his economical habits, his rectitude of conduct and a
personal attention to a business which he understood, caused his success in life, he will
listen to the siren voices. He says:
"I will put in twenty thousand dollars. I have been
lucky, and my good luck will soon bring me back sixty thousand dollars."
A few days elapse, and it is discovered he must put in ten
thousand dollars more; soon after he is told "it is all right," but certain
matters not foreseen require an advance of twenty thousand dollars more, which will bring
him a rich harvest; but before the time comes around to realize the bubble bursts, he
loses all he is possessed of, and then he learns what he ought to have known at the first,
that however successful a man may be in his own business, if he turns from that and
engages in a business which he don't understand, he is like Samson when shorn of his
locks--his strength has departed, and he becomes like other men.
If a man has plenty of money, he ought to invest something in
everything that appears to promise success, and that will probably benefit mankind; but
let the sums thus invested be moderate in amount, and never let a man foolishly jeopardize
a fortune that he has earned in a legitimate way by investing it in things in which he has
had no experience.
When a man is in the right path he must persevere. I speak of
this because there are some persons who are "born tired;" naturally lazy and
possessing no self-reliance and no perseverance. But they can cultivate these qualities,
as Davy Crockett said:
"This thing remember, when I am dead,
Be sure you are right, then go ahead."
It is this go-aheaditiveness, this determination not to let
the "horrors" or the "blues" take possession of you, so as to make you
relax your energies in the struggle for independence, which you must cultivate.
How many have almost reached the goal of their ambition, but,
losing faith in themselves, have relaxed their energies, and the golden prize has been
It is, no doubt, often true, as Shakespeare says:
"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
If you hesitate, some bolder hand will stretch out before you
and get the prize. Remember the proverb of Solomon: "He becometh poor that dealeth
with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
Perseverance is sometimes but another word for self-reliance.
Many persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow trouble. They are born
so. Then they ask for advice, and they will be governed by one wind and blown by another,
and cannot rely upon themselves. Until you can get so that you can rely upon yourself, you
need not expect to succeed. I have known men, personally, who have met with pecuniary
reverses, and absolutely committed suicide, because they thought they could never overcome
their misfortune. But I have known others who have met more serious financial
difficulties, and have bridged them over by simple perseverance, aided by a firm belief
that they were doing justly, and that Providence would "overcome evil with
Learn something useful. Every man should make his son or
daughter learn some trade or profession, so that in these days of changing fortunes--of
being rich to-day and poor to-morrow--they may have something tangible to fall back upon.
This provision might save many persons from misery, who by some unexpected turn of fortune
have lost all their means.
Let hope predominate, but be not too visionary. Many persons
are always kept poor because they are too visionary. Every project looks to them like
certain success, and therefore they keep changing from one business to another, always in
hot water, always "under the harrow." The plan of "counting the chickens
before they are hatched" is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve
Do not scatter your powers. Engage in one kind of business
only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that
you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at
last, so that it can be clinched. When a man's undivided attention is centred on one
object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape
him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once. Many a fortune has
slipped through a man's fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.
There is good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in the fire at once.
Be systematic. Men should be systematic in their business. A
person who does business by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work
promptly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it
carelessly and slipshod. By introducing system into all your transactions, doing one thing
at a time, always meeting appointments with punctuality, you will find leisure for pastime
and recreation; whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something
else, and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never know when
his day's work is done, for it never will be done. Of course, there is a limit to all
these rules. We must try to preserve the happy medium, for there is such a thing as being
too systematic. There are men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully
that they can never find them again. It is too much like the "red-tape"
formality at Washington, and Mr. Dick-ens' "Circumlocution Office,"--all theory
and no result.
To get rich is not always equivalent to being successful.
"there are many rich poor men," while there are many others, honest and devout
men and women, who have never possessed so much money as some rich persons squander in a
week, but who are nevertheless really richer and happier than any man can ever be while he
is a transgressor of the higher laws of his being.
The inordinate love of money, no doubt, may be and is
"the root of all evil," but money itself, when properly used, is not only a
"handy thing to have in the house," but affords the gratification of blessing
our race by enabling its possessor to enlarge the scope of human happiness and human
influence. The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable,
provided the possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to
The history of money-getting, which is commerce, is a history
of civilization, and wherever trade has flourished most, there, too, have art and science
produced the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general thing, money-getters are the
benefactors of our race. To them in a great measure, are we indebted for our institutions
of learning and of art, our academies, colleges and churches. It is no argument against
the desire for, or the possession of, wealth, to say that there are sometimes misers who
hoard money only for the sake of hoarding, and who have no higher aspiration than to grasp
everything which comes within their reach. As we have sometimes hypocrites in religion,
and demagogues in politics, so there are occasionally misers among money-getters. These,
however, are only exceptions to the general rule. But when, in this country, we find such
a nuisance and stumbling block as a miser, we remember with gratitude that in America we
have no laws of primogeniture, and that in the due course of nature the time will come
when the hoarded dust will be scattered for the benefit of mankind. To all men and women,
therefore, do I conscientiously say, make money honestly, and not otherwise, for
Shakespeare has truly said, "He that wants money, means and content, is without three
Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent
servant but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you; when interest is constantly
piling up against you, it will keep you down in the worst kind of slavery. But let money
work for you, and you have the most devoted servant in the world. It is no
"eye-servant." There is nothing animate or inanimate that will work so
faithfully as money when placed at interest, well secured. It works night and day, and in
wet or dry weather.
Do not let it work against you; if you do, there is no chance
for success in life so far as money is concerned. John Randolph, the eccentric Virginian,
once exclaimed in Congress, "Mr. Speaker, I have discovered the philosopher's stone:
pay as you go." This is, indeed, nearer to the philosopher's stone than any alchemist
has ever yet arrived.
Barnum and the newspapers had always been on the best of
terms, and in nearly every instance the press praised the lecture in most unqualified
terms. The following extract from the London Times is a fair sample of many notices which
"We are bound to admit that Mr. Barnum is one of the
most entertaining lecturers that ever addressed an audience on a theme universally
intelligible. The appearance of Mr. Barnum, it should be added, has nothing of the
'charlatan' about it, but is that of the thoroughly respectable man of business; and he
has at command a fund of dry humor that convulses everybody with laughter, while he
himself remains perfectly serious. A sonorous voice and an admirably clear delivery
complete his qualifications as a lecturer, in which capacity he is no 'humbug,' either in
a higher or lower sense of the word."
During the year 1859 he delivered this lecture nearly one
hundred times in London and in different parts of England, always with great success.
Remembering his experiences with Tom Thumb at Oxford and
Cambridge, and knowing the fondness of the college men for joking, Barnum made up his mind
to endure any amount of friendly chaff when he visited their cities.
He commenced at Cambridge, where he was greeted with a
crowded house, composed largely of under-graduates. Soon after he began to speak, one of
the young men called out: "Where is Joice Heth?" to which Barnum replied:
"Young gentleman, please to restrain yourself till the close of the lecture, when I
shall take great pleasure in affording you all the information I possess concerning your
This turned the laugh against the youthful inquirer, and kept
the students quiet for a few moments. Questions of a similar character were occasionally
propounded and as promptly answered, and on the whole the lecture was interrupted less
than Barnum had anticipated, while the receipts were over one hundred pounds sterling.
At Oxford the hall was filled to suffocation half an hour
before the time announced for the lecture to begin, and the sale of tickets was stopped.
Barnum therefore stepped upon the platform, and said:
"Ladies and gentlemen: as every seat is now occupied and the ticket-office is closed,
I propose to begin my lecture now and not keep you waiting till the advertised hour."
"Good for you, old Barnum,"--"Time is
money,"--"Nothing like economy," yelled the audience. Holding up his hand
for silence, Barnum proceeded:
"Young gentlemen, I have a word or two to say, in order
that we may have a thorough understanding between ourselves at the outset. I see symptoms
of a pretty jolly time here this evening, and you have paid me liberally for the single
hour of my time, which is at your service. I am an old traveller and an old showman, and I
like to please my patrons. Now, it is quite immaterial to me; you may furnish the
entertainment for the hour, or I will endeavor to do so, or we will take portions of the
time by turns --you supplying a part of the amusement and I a part--as we say sometimes in
America, 'you pays your money, and you takes your choice.' "
This frankness pleased the students, who agreed to this
unique proposition unhesitatingly.
The lecture proceeded for fifteen minutes, when a voice
called out: "Come, old chap! you must be tired by this time. Hold up now till we sing
Yankee Doodle." Whereupon they all joined in that honorable song with lusty
good-will, Barnum meanwhile sitting down comfortably, to show them that he was quite
satisfied with their manner of passing the time. When the song was concluded, the leader
of the party said: "Now, Mr. Barnum, you may go ahead again."
The lecture went on, or rather A lecture, for Barnum began to
adapt his remarks to the occasion. Every few minutes would come some interruption, which
was always as much enjoyed by Barnum as by the audience. When the entertainment concluded,
the young men crowded to the platform to shake hands with the speaker, declaring that they
had had a "jolly good time," while the leader said: "Stay with us a week,
Barnum, and we'll dine you, wine you, and give you full houses every night."
Barnum would have accepted the invitation had he not been
announced to lecture in London the next evening, and he told the students so. They asked
him all sorts of questions about America, the Museum and other shows, and expressed the
hope that he would come out of his troubles all right.
At least a score of them invited him to breakfast with them
the next morning, but he declined, until one young gentleman insisted on personal grounds.
"My dear sir," said he, "you must breakfast with me. I have almost split my
throat here to-night, and it is only fair for you to repay me by coming to see me in the
morning." This appeal was irresistible, and Barnum agreed to come.
The boys were pleased with his nerve and good nature, but
they confided to him that they liked better to get people angry. A few weeks before Howard
Paul had left them in disgust, because they insisted on smoking when his wife was on the
stage. They added that the entertainment was excellent, and Howard Paul might have made a
thousand pounds if he had kept his temper.
Some time later Barnum was offered L1,200, or $6,000, for the
copyright of his lecture; the offer was, however, refused.