The P.T. Barnum of the
Barnum and Bailey Circus
by Joel Benton
General and Mrs. Tom Thumb
MISS LAVINIA WARREN--THE RIVALS--MISS WARREN'S ENGAGEMENT TO
TOM THUMB--THE WEDDING--GRAND RECEPTION--LETTER FROM A WOULD-BE GUEST, AND DR. TAYLOR'S
In 1862 Mr. Barnum heard of an extraordinary dwarf girl named
Lavinia Warren, who was living at Middleboro, Massachusetts, and sent an invitation to her
and her parents to visit him at Bridgeport: they came, and Barnum found her to be a very
intelligent and refined young lady. He immediately made a contract with her for several
years, she agreeing to visit the Old World.
He purchased a splendid wardrobe for her, including many
elegant dresses, costly jewels and everything else that could add to her naturally
charming person. She was placed on exhibition at the Museum, and from the first was a
great success. Commodore Nutt was exhibited with her, and although he was several years
her junior, he at once took a violent fancy to her. One day Mr. Barnum gave Miss Warren a
diamond and emerald ring, and as it did not exactly fit her finger, he offered to get her
another one just like it, and told her to present this one to Commodore Nutt in her own
name. She did so, and the Commodore, who possessed a full proportion of masculine vanity,
construed the gift to be a love token, and poor Lavinia was much distressed, for she
considered herself quite a woman, and the Commodore only "a nice boy." Still she
did not like to offend him, and continued to treat him kindly, while not actually
encouraging his attentions.
At the time Tom Thumb was not on exhibition at the Museum; he
was taking a vacation at his home in Bridgeport. One day he came to New York quite
unexpectedly, and naturally called on Mr. Barnum at the Museum. Lavinia was holding one of
her levees when he came in, and he was presented to her.
After a short interview with her he went directly to Mr.
Barnum's private office and asked to see him alone. The door was closed and the General
sat down. His first question gave Mr. Barnum a slight inkling of the object of the
interview. The General wanted to know all about the family of Lavinia Warren. Mr. Barnum
gave him all information, and the General said, earnestly, "That is the most charming
little lady I ever saw, and I believe she was created to be my wife. Now, Mr. Barnum,
you've always been a friend of mine, and I want you to say a good word for me to her. I've
got plenty of money and I want to marry and settle down, and I really feel as though I
must marry that young lady."
Mr. Barnum laughed, and recalling his ancient joke, said:
"Lavinia is already engaged, General."
"To whom? Commodore Nutt?" asked Tom Thumb,
"No, to me."
"Oh!" laughed the General, much relieved.
"Never mind; you may exhibit her for a while, and then give up the engagement; but I
do hope you will favor my suit with her."
"Well, General," replied Barnum, "I will not
oppose your suit, but you must do your own courting. I will tell you, however, that
Commodore Nutt will be jealous of you, and more than that, Miss Warren is nobody's fool,
and you will have to proceed very cautiously if you succeed in winning her."
The General promised to be very discreet. A change now came
over him. He had been very fond of his country home at Bridgeport, where he spent all his
leisure time with his horses and his yacht, for he had a great passion for the water; but
now he was constantly running down to the city, and the horses and yacht were sadly
neglected. He had a married sister living in New York, and his visits to her multiplied to
such an extent that his mother, who lived in Bridgeport, remarked that Charles had never
before shown so much brotherly affection, nor so much fondness for city life.
His visits to the Museum were frequent, and it was very
amusing to watch his new relations with Commodore Nutt, who strutted around like a bantam
rooster whenever the General approached Lavinia. One day the rivals got into a friendly
scuffle in the dressing-room, and the Commodore laid the General very neatly on his back.
But while the Commodore was performing on the stage, and on
Sunday afternoons and evenings, the General found plenty of opportunities to talk to
Lavinia, and it was evident that his suit was progressing.
Finally, Tom Thumb returned to Bridgeport, and privately
begged Mr. Barnum to bring Lavinia up the next Saturday evening, and also to invite him to
His immediate object was that his mother might see Miss
Warren. Mr. Barnum agreed to the proposition, and on the following Friday, while Miss
Warren and the Commodore were sitting in the green-room, he said:
"Lavinia, would you like to go up to Bridgeport with me
to-morrow, and stay until Monday?"
"I thank you," she replied, "it will be a
great relief to get into the country for a couple of days."
"Mr. Barnum," said the Commodore, "I should
like to go up to Bridgeport to-morrow."
"What for?" asked Barnum.
"I want to see my ponies; I have not seen them for
several months;" he replied.
Mr. Barnum remarked that he was afraid he could not spare the
Commodore from the Museum, but he said:
"Oh! I can perform at half past seven o'clock and then
jump on the evening train and go up by myself, reaching Bridgeport at eleven, and return
early Monday morning."
Fearing a clash of interests between the two little men, but
wishing to please the Commodore, Mr. Barnum consented, especially as Miss Warren seemed to
The Commodore had made his feelings almost as plain to the
manager as had General Tom Thumb, but Lavinia Warren's secret was her own. She kept up a
wonderful self-possession under the circumstances, for she must have known the reason of
the General's frequent visits to the Museum. Barnum was afraid that she intended to reject
Tom Thumb, and he told him as much; the General was nervous but determined; hence his
anxiety to have Lavinia meet his mother, and also to see the extent of his possessions in
The General met his lady-love and Mr. Barnum at the station
Saturday morning, and drove them to the latter's house in his own carriage--the coachman
being tidily dressed, with a broad velvet ribbon and a silver buckle on his hat,
especially for the occasion.
After resting for a half hour at Lindencroft, he came back
and took Lavinia out to drive. They stopped at his mother's house, where she saw the
apartments which had been built for him and filled with the most gorgeous furniture, all
corresponding to his diminutive size. Then he took her to East Bridgeport, and undoubtedly
took occasion to point out all of the houses which he owned, for he depended much on his
wealth making an impression on her.
He stayed to lunch at Lindencroft, and was much pleased when
Lavinia expressed her opinion that "Mr. Barnum or Tom Thumb owned about all
The General took his leave and returned to five o'clock
dinner, accompanied by his mother, who was delighted with Lavinia. The General took Mr.
Barnum aside and begged him for an invitation to stay all night, "For," said he,
"I intend to ask her to marry me before the Commodore arrives."
After tea Lavinia and the General sat down to play
backgammon. By and by the rest went to their separate rooms, but Tom Thumb had volunteered
to sit up for the Commodore, and persuaded Miss Warren to keep him company.
The General was beaten at backgammon, and after sitting a few
minutes, he evidently thought it time to put a clincher on his financial abilities. So he
drew from his pocket a policy of insurance and handed it to Lavinia, asking her if she
knew what it was.
Examining it, she replied, "It is an insurance policy. I
see you keep your property insured."
"But the beauty of it is, it is not my property,"
replied the General, "and yet I get the benefit of the insurance in case of fire. You
will see," he continued, unfolding the policy, "this is the property of Mr.
Williams, but here, you will observe, it reads 'loss, if any, payable to Charles S.
Stratton, as his interest may appear.' The fact is, I loaned Mr. Williams three thousand
dollars, took a mortgage on his house, and made him insure it for my benefit. In this way,
you perceive, I get my interest, and he has to pay the taxes."
"That is a very wise way, I should think," remarked
"That is the way I do all my business," replied the
General, complacently, as he returned the huge insurance policy to his pocket. "You
see," he continued, "I never lend any of my money without taking bond and
mortgage security, then I have no trouble with taxes; my principal is secure, and I
receive my interest regularly."
The explanation seemed satisfactory to Lavinia, and the
General's courage began to rise. Drawing his chair a little nearer to hers, he said:
"So you are going to Europe, soon?"
"Yes," replied Lavinia, "Mr. Barnum intends to
take me over in a couple of months."
"You will find it very pleasant," remarked the
General; "I have been there twice, in fact I have spent six years abroad, and I like
the old countries very much."
"I hope I shall like the trip, and I expect I
shall," responded Lavinia; "for Mr. Barnum says I shall visit all the principal
cities, and he has no doubt I will be invited to appear before the Queen of England, the
Emperor and Empress of France, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Austria, and at the
courts of any other countries which we may visit. Oh! I shall like that, it will be so new
"Yes, it will be very interesting indeed. I have visited
most of the crowned heads," remarked the General, with an evident feeling of
self-congratulation. "But are you not afraid you will be lonesome in a strange
country?" asked the General.
"No, I think there is no danger of that, for friends
will accompany me," was the reply.
"I wish I was going over, for I know all about the
different countries, and could explain them all to you," remarked Tom Thumb.
"That would be very nice," said Lavinia.
"Do you think so?" said the General, moving his
chair still closer to Lavinia's.
"Of course," replied Lavinia, coolly, "for I,
being a stranger to all the habits and customs of the people, as well as to the country,
it would be pleasant to have some person along who could answer all my foolish
"I should like it first rate, if Mr. Barnum would engage
me," said the General.
"I thought you remarked the other day that you had money
enough, and was tired of traveling," said Lavinia, with a slightly mischievous look
from one corner of her eye.
"That depends upon my company while traveling,"
replied the General.
"You might not find my company very agreeable."
"I would be glad to risk it."
"Well, perhaps Mr. Barnum would engage you, if you asked
him," said Lavinia.
"Would you really like to have me go?" asked the
General, quietly insinuating his arm around her waist, but hardly close enough to touch
"Of course I would," was the reply.
The little General's arm clasped the waist closer as he
turned his face nearer to hers, and said:
"Don't you think it would be pleasanter if we went as
man and wife?"
And after a little hesitation she agreed that it would.
A moment later a carriage drove up to the door, the bell rang
and the Commodore entered.
"You here, General?" said the Commodore as he
espied his rival.
"Yes," said Lavinia, "Mr. Barnum asked him to
stay, and we were waiting for you."
"Where is Mr. Barnum?" asked the Commodore.
"He has gone to bed," answered Tom Thumb, "but
a supper has been prepared for you."
"I am not hungry, thank you," said the Commodore
petulantly, "What room does Mr. Barnum sleep in?"
He was answered, and immediately went to Mr. Barnum whom he
found reading in bed.
"Mr. Barnum," he said sarcastically, "does Tom
Thumb BOARD here?"
"No," said Mr. Barnum, "Tom Thumb does not
BOARD here. I invited him to stop over night, so don't be foolish, but go to bed."
"Oh, it's no affair of mine. I don't care anything about
it. Only I thought he'd taken up his residence here." And off he went to bed, in a
very bad humor.
Ten minutes after, Tom Thumb rushed into the room in the
greatest excitement, and cried joyfully: "We're engaged, Mr. Barnum! We're
"Is that possible?" said Barnum.
"Yes sir, indeed it is," responded the General,
"but you must'nt mention it. We've agreed to tell no one, so don't say a word. I'm
going to ask her Mother's consent Tuesday."
Barnum swore secrecy, and the General went off radiant with
The next day the family plied Lavinia with all sorts of
questions, but not a breath passed her lips that would give the slightest indication as to
what had transpired. She was most amiable to the Commodore, and as the General concluded
to go home the next morning, the Commodore's happiness and good humor were fully restored.
The General made a call Sunday evening and managed to have an interview with Lavinia. The
next morning she and the Commodore returned to New York, without Mr. Barnum.
The General called on Monday to tell Mr. Barnum that he had
concluded to send his letter to Lavinia's mother by his friend, Mr. Wells, who had
consented to go to Middleboro' the next day, and to urge the General's suit if necessary.
The General went to New York on Wednesday to wait there for
Mr. Wells's return. That same day he and Lavinia came to Mr. Barnum, and Tom Thumb said:
"Mr. Barnum, I want somebody to tell the Commodore that Lavinia and I are engaged,
for I'm afraid there will be a row when he hears of it."
"Why don't you do it yourself, General?" asked
"Oh!" said the General, almost shuddering, "I
would not dare do it, he might knock me down."
"I will do it myself," said Lavinia. So the General
retired and the Commodore was sent for. When he had joined them, Mr. Barnum began by
saying, "Commodore, do you know what this little witch has been doing?"
"No, I don't," he answered.
"Well, she has been cutting up the greatest prank you
ever heard of. She almost deserves to be shut up for daring to do it. Can't you guess what
He mused a moment, and then said in a low tone, and looking
full at her, "Engaged?"
"Yes," said Barnum, "actually engaged to be
married to General Tom Thumb. Did you ever hear of such a thing?"
"Is it so, Lavinia?" he asked, earnestly.
"Yes," said Lavinia, "it is really so."
The Commodore turned pale, choked a little, and turning on
his heel, he said, in a broken voice:
"I hope you may be happy."
As he passed out the door a tear rolled down his cheek.
"That's pretty hard," said Barnum.
"Yes it is hard," said Lavinia, "and I am very
sorry. Only I couldn't help it. It was all the fault of your emerald and diamond
Half an hour later the Commodore returned to the office and
"Mr. Barnum do you think it would be right for Miss
Warren to marry Charlie Stratton if her mother should object?"
"No, indeed," replied Mr. Barnum.
"Well, she says she will marry him anyway; that she
gives her mother the chance to consent, but if she objects, she will have her way and
"On the contrary," said Barnum, "I will not
permit it. She is engaged to go to Europe with me, and I will not release her if her
mother does not consent to her marriage."
The Commodore's eyes glistened, and he said: "Between
you and me, Mr. Barnum, I don't believe she will consent."
But she did, although at first she had objected, thinking
that it might be merely a money-making scheme; but after she read Tom Thumb's letter, and
heard Mr. Barnum's assurance that he would release her from her engagement with him, in
event of the marriage, she consented.
After the Commodore heard the news Mr. Barnum said to him:
"Never mind, Commodore; Minnie Warren is a better match
for you anyhow. She is two years younger than you, and Lavinia is older."
But the Commodore replied grandly; "Thank you sir, but I
would not marry the best woman living. I don't believe in women."
Barnum then suggested that he stand with Minnie, as groom and
bridesmaid, but he declined. A few weeks later, however, he told Barnum that Tom Thumb had
asked him to stand with Minnie, and that he was going to do so.
"And when I asked you, you refused," said Barnum.
"It was not your business to ask me," said the
Commodore pompously, "when the proper person asked me, I accepted."
The approaching wedding was announced and created an immense
excitement. Lavinia's levees were crowded and she not infrequently sold three hundred
dollars' worth of photographs in a day. The General was engaged to exhibit and his own
photograph was largely in demand. The Museum was so well attended, the daily receipts
being nearly three thousand dollars, that Barnum offered them fifteen thousand dollars if
they would postpone their wedding for a month and continue the levees.
"No sir," said the General excitedly, "not for
fifty thousand dollars."
"Good for you Charlie," said Lavinia, "only
you should have said one hundred thousand."
It was suggested to Barnum to have the wedding take place in
the Academy of Music and charge a good admission.
But Barnum refused.
Grace Church, at Broadway and Tenth St., was the scene of
this historic wedding, which occurred at noon of Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1863. Long before the
hour designated the entire neighborhood was thronged by expectant and smiling crowds
awaiting the arrival of the happy pair with their attendants, and looking with
ill-concealed envy upon the scores of carriages that bore to the scene of action the
fortunate possessors of cards of invitation. At the entrance the ubiquitous Brown was to
be seen, bland and smiling, looking more like an honest Alderman of yore than a sexton,
and recognizing in each new deposit of youth or beauty or wealth another star to shed
lustre upon the extraordinary occasion.
Excellent police arrangements, no less than the self-respect
and decorum that always characterizes an American crowd, secured the utmost quiet and
order. The truth was that an outsider could only have discovered the marriage to have been
one of peculiar interest from the snatches of feminine gossip that met the ear, in which
small-sized adjectives were profusely employed.
The church was crowded with a gay assemblage of ladies and
gentlemen, the former appearing in full opera costume, and the latter in dress coats and
white neck-cloths. In front of the altar a platform three feet high covered with Brussels
carpet had been erected. Pending the arrival of the wedding cortege, Mr. Morgan performed
a number of operatic selections on the organ.
At high noon the murmuring of the swarming throng outside and
the turning of all heads townward presaged the arrival of the bridal party; its undoubted
arrival was announced by the arrival of Barnum himself.
The bridal party quickly entered the church, and proceeding
up the middle aisle, took proper positions upon the platform. Commodore Nutt acting as
groomsman, and Miss Minnie Warren as bridesmaid.
After several operatic performances on the organ, the
marriage services were commenced, the Rev. Dr. Taylor and the Rev. Junius M. Willey
officiating. The petite bride was given away by the Rev. Mr. Palmer, at the request of her
parents. Dr. Taylor pronounced the marital benediction, when the party left the church and
were rapidly driven to the Metropolitan Hotel, the street, stoops, buildings and windows
in the neighborhood of which were crowded with men, women and children.
At 1 o'clock the reception commenced, the bride and groom,
attended by the Commodore and Miss Minnie Warren, occupying a dais in one of the front
parlors. The crowd soon resolved into a perfect jam, and for some time great confusion
prevailed. After a time, certain arrangements were made by which the company were enabled
to pay their respects to the little couple.
The graceful form of Mrs. Charles S. Stratton was shown to
advantage in her bridal robe, which was composed of plain white satin, the skirt en
traine, being decorated with a flounce of costly point lace, headed by tulle puffings; the
berthe to match. Her hair, slightly waved, was rolled a la Eugenie, and elaborately puffed
in noeuds behind, in which the bridal veil was looped: natural orange blossoms breathed
their perfume above her brow, and mingled their fragrance with the soft sighs of her
gentle bosom. Roses and japonicas composed a star-shaped bouquet, which she held in her
Her jewels consisted of diamond necklace, bracelets,
earrings, and a star-shaped ornament en diadem, with brooch to match.
Mr. Stratton was attired in a black dress coat and a vest of
white corded silk, with an undervest of blue silk.
The Commodore was similarly attired, and Miss Minnie Warren
appeared in a white silk skirt, with a white illusion overdress, trimmed half way up the
skirt with bouillonnes of the same material, dotted with pink rosebuds. The corsage was
decollete, with berthe to match.
At 3 o'clock the bridal party left the reception room, and
retired to their private parlor, when the company soon after dispersed. Upon leaving the
hotel the guests were supplied with wedding cake, over two thousand boxes being thus
distributed. In a parlor adjoining that used for the reception were exhibited the bridal
The jewelry and silverware were displayed in glass cases.
That night, at 10 o'clock, the New York Excelsior Band
serenaded the bridal party at the Metropolitan, when Mr. Stratton appeared upon the
balcony and made the following speech to the large assemblage in front of the hotel:
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--I thank you most sincerely for
this and many other tokens of kindness showered upon me to-day. After being for more than
twenty years before the public, I little expected at this late day, to attract so much
attention. Indeed if I had not become a family man I should never have known how high I
stood in public favor, and I assure you I appreciate highly and am truly grateful for this
evidence of your esteem and consideration. I am soon off for foreign lands, but I shall
take with me the pleasant recollection of your kindness to-day. But, ladies and gentlemen,
a little woman in the adjoining apartment is very anxious to see us, and I must,
therefore, make this speech, like myself, short. I kindly thank the excellent band of
music for its melody, the sweetness of which is only exceeded by my anticipations of
happiness in the new life before me. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, wishing you all health
and happiness, I bid you all a cordial good-night." Applause.
The following entirely authentic correspondence, the only
suppression being the name of the person who wrote to Dr. Taylor, and to whom Dr. Taylor's
reply is addressed, shows how a certain would-be "witness" was not a witness of
the famous wedding. In other particulars the correspondence speaks for itself.
TO THE REV. DR. TAYLOR.
Sir: The object of my unwillingly addressing you this note is
to inquire what right you had to exclude myself and other owners of pews in Grace Church
from entering it yesterday, enforced, too, by a cordon of police for that purpose. If my
pew is not my property, I wish to know it; and if it is, I deny your right to prevent me
from occupying it whenever the church is open, even at a marriage of mountebanks, which I
would not take the trouble to cross the street to witness.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
804 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 1863.
MR. W*** S***
Dear Sir: I am sorry, my valued friend, that you should have
written me the peppery letter that is now before me. If the matter of which you complain
be so utterly insignificant and contemptible as "a marriage of mountebanks, which you
would not take the trouble to cross the street to witness," it surprises me that you
should have made such strenuous, but ill-directed efforts to secure a ticket of admission.
And why, permit me to ask, in the name of reason and philosophy, do you still suffer it to
disturb you so sadly? It would, perhaps, be a sufficient answer to your letter, to say
that your cause of complaint exists only in your imagination. You have never been excluded
from your pew. As rector, I am the only custodian of the church, and you will hardly
venture to say that you have ever applied to me for permission to enter, and been refused.
Here I might safely rest, and leave you to the comfort of
your own reflections in the case. But as you, in common with many other worthy persons,
would seem to have very crude notions as to your rights of "property" in pews,
you will pardon me for saying that a pew in a church is property only in a peculiar and
restricted sense. It is not property, as your house or horse is property. It vests you
with no fee in the soil; you cannot use it in any way, and in every way, and at all times,
as your pleasure or caprice may dictate; you cannot put it to any common or unhallowed
uses; you cannot remove it, nor injure it, nor destroy it. In short, you hold by purchase,
and may sell the right to, the undisturbed possession of that little space within the
church edifice which you call your pew during the hours of divine service. But even that
right must be exercised decorously, and with a decent regard for time and place, or else
you may at any moment be ignominiously ejected from it.
I regret to be obliged to add that, by the law of custom, you
may, during those said hours of divine service (but at no other time) sleep in your pew;
you must, however, do so noiselessly and never to the disturbance of your sleeping
neighbors; your property in your pew has this extent and nothing more. Now, if Mr. W***
S*** were at any time to come to me and say, "Sir, I would that you should grant me
the use of Grace Church for a solemn service (a marriage, a baptism, or a funeral, as the
case may be), and as it is desirable that the feelings of the parties should be protected
as far as possible from the impertinent intrusion and disturbance of a crowd from the
streets and lanes of the city, I beg that no one may be admitted within the doors of the
church during the very few moments that we expect to be there, but our invited friends
only,"--it would certainly, in such a case, be my pleasure to comply with your
request, and to meet your wishes in every particular; and I think that even Mr. W*** S***
will agree that all this would be entirely reasonable and proper. Then, tell me, how would
such a case differ from the instance of which you complain? Two young persons, whose only
crimes would seem to be that they are neither so big, nor so stupid, nor so ill-mannered,
nor so inordinately selfish as some other people, come to me and say, sir, we are about to
be married, and we wish to throw around our marriage all the solemnities of religion. We
are strangers in your city, and as there is no clergyman here standing in a pastoral
relation to us, we have ventured to ask the favor of the bishop of New York to marry us,
and he has kindly consented to do so; may we then venture a little further and request the
use of your church in which the bishop may perform the marriage service? We assure you,
sir, that we are no shams, no cheats, no mountebanks; we are neither monsters nor
abortions; it is true we are little, but we are as God made us, perfect in our littleness.
Sir, we are simply man and woman of like passions and infirmities with you and other
mortals. The arrangements for our marriage are controlled by no "showman," and
we are sincerely desirous that everything should be ordered with a most scrupulous regard
to decorum. We hope to invite our relations and intimate friends, together with such
persons as may in other years have extended civilities to either of us; but we pledge
ourselves to you most sacredly that no invitation can be bought with money. Permit us to
say further, that as we would most gladly escape from the insulting jeers, and ribald
sneers and coarse ridicule of the unthinking multitude without, we pray you to allow us,
at our own proper charges, so to guard the avenues of access from the street, as to
prevent all unseemly tumult and disorder.
I tell you, sir, that whenever, and from whomsoever, such an
appeal is made to my Christian courtesy, although it should come from the very humblest of
the earth, I would go calmly and cheerfully forward to meet their wishes, although as many
W*** S***'s as would reach from here to Kamtschatka, clothed in furs and frowns, should
rise up to oppose me.
In conclusion, I will say, that if the marriage of Charles S.
Stratton and Lavinia Warren is to be regarded as a pageant, then it was the most beautiful
pageant it has ever been my privilege to witness. If, on the contrary, it is rather to be
thought of as a solemn ceremony, then it was as touchingly solemn as a wedding can
possibly be rendered. It is true the bishop was not present, but Mr. Stratton's own
pastor, the Rev. Mr. Willey, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, read the service with admirable
taste and impressiveness, and the bride was given away by her mother's pastor and her own
"next friend," a venerable Congregational clergyman from Massachusetts. Surely,
there never was a gathering of so many hundreds of our best people, when everybody
appeared so delighted with everything; surely it is no light thing to call forth so much
innocent joy in so few moments of passing time; surely it is no light thing, thus to
smooth the roughness and sweeten the acerbities which mar our happiness as we advance upon
the wearing journey of life. Sir, it was most emphatically a high triumph of
Respectfully submitted, by your obedient servant,
THOMAS HOUSE TAYLOR.
Not long after the wedding, a lady called at Barnum's office
and called his attention to a little six-paged pamphlet which she said she had written. It
was called "Priests and Pigmies," and she asked Barnum to read it. He glanced at
the title, and at once estimating the character of the publication, promptly declined to
devote any portion of his valuable time to its perusal.
"But you had better look at it, Mr. Barnum; it deeply
interests you, and you may think it worth your while to buy it."
"Certainly, I will buy it, if you desire," said he,
tendering her a sixpence, which he supposed to be the price of the little pamphlet.
"Oh! you quite misunderstand me; I mean buy the
copyright and the entire edition, with the view of suppressing the work. It says some
frightful things, I assure you," urged the author.
He lay back in his chair and fairly roared at this
exceedingly feeble attempt at blackmail.
"But," persisted the lady, "suppose it says
that your Museum and Grace Church are all one, what then?"
"My dear madam," he replied, "you may say what
you please about me or about my Museum; you may print a hundred thousand copies of a
pamphlet stating that I stole the communion service, after the wedding, from Grace Church
altar, or anything else you choose to write; only have the kindness to say something about
me, and then come to me and I will properly estimate the money value of your services to
me as an advertising agent. Good morning, madam,"--and she departed.
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