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Title: The History of The Hen Fever - A Humorous Record
Author: Burnham, George P.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The History of The Hen Fever - A Humorous Record" ***

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                            [Illustration]

              [Illustration: Painted by F. Winterhalter.]

           H.M.G. Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain,
          IN THE ROBES OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER.
                     DAGUERREOTYPED BY THOMPSON,
          From the Portrait in possession of Geo. P. Burnham;

          PRESENTED TO HIM BY HER MAJESTY, THE QUEEN, IN 1853

                       [See Letter, page 130.]



                             THE HISTORY
                                  OF
                            THE HEN FEVER.

                          A Humorous Record.

                                  BY
                           GEO. P. BURNHAM.

                            [Illustration]

                     In one Volume.--Illustrated

                               BOSTON:
                      JAMES FRENCH AND COMPANY.
                        NEW YORK: J.C. DERBY.
                     PHILADELPHIA: T.B. PETERSON.


       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
                          GEORGE P. BURNHAM,
     In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
                            Massachusetts.

                            STEREOTYPED BY
                           HOBART & ROBBINS,
                New England Type and Stereotype Foundery,
                                BOSTON.

                   GEO. C. RAND, PRINTER, 3 CORNHILL.


                                TO THE
                    Amateurs, Fanciers, and Breeders
                                  OF
                               POULTRY,
                THE SUCCESSFUL AND UNFORTUNATE DEALERS,
                    THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES;
                                 AND
                THE VICTIMS OF MISPLACED CONFIDENCE IN
                       THE HEN TRADE, GENERALLY,
                             I DEDICATE
                            This Volume.



PREFACE.


In preparing the following pages, I have had the opportunity to inform
myself pretty accurately regarding the ramifications of the subject upon
which I have written herein; and I have endeavored to avoid setting down
"aught in malice" in this "_History of the_ HEN FEVER" in the United
States.

I have followed this extraordinary _mania_ from its incipient stages to
its final death, or its _cure_, as the reader may elect to term its
conclusion. The first symptoms of the fever were exhibited in my own
house at Roxbury, Mass., early in the summer of 1849. From that time
down to the opening of 1855 (or rather to the winter of 1854), I have
been rather intimately connected with the movement, if common report
speaks correctly; and I believe I have seen as much of the tricks of
this trade as one usually meets with in the course of a single natural
life.

Now that the most serious effects of this (for six years) alarming
epidemic have passed away from among us, and when "the people" who have
been called upon to pay the cost of its support, and for the burial of
its victims, can look back upon the scenes that have in that period
transpired with a disposition cooled by experience, I have thought that
a volume like this might prove acceptable to the hundreds and thousands
of those who once "took an interest in the hen trade,"--who _may_ have
been mortally wounded, or haply who have escaped with only a broken
wing; and who will not object to learn how the thing has been done, and
"who threw the bricks"!

If my readers shall be edified and amused with the perusal of this work
as much as I have been in recalling these past scenes while writing it,
I am content that I have not thrown the powder away. I have written it
in perfect good-nature, with the design to gratify its readers, and to
offend no man living.

And trusting that _all_ will be pleased who may devote an hour to its
pages, while at the same time I indulge the hope that _none_ will feel
aggrieved by its tone, or its text, I submit this book to the public.

                       Respectfully,

                                               GEO. P. BURNHAM.

    RUSSET HOUSE, _Melrose_, 1855.



CONTENTS.


  Chapter                                             Page

        I. PREMONITORY SYMPTOMS OF THE DISEASE,          9

       II. THE "COCHIN-CHINAS." BUBBLE NUMBER ONE,      14

      III. THE FIRST FOWL SHOW IN BOSTON,               21

       IV. HOW "POULTRY-BOOKS" ARE MADE,                26

        V. THREATENING INDICATIONS,                     32

       VI. THE EPIDEMIC SPREADING,                      37

      VII. ALARMING DEMONSTRATIONS,                     41

     VIII. THE FEVER WORKING,                           47

       IX. THE SECOND POULTRY SHOW IN BOSTON,           52

        X. THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY'S SECOND SHOW, 58

       XI. PROGRESS OF THE MALADY,                      65

      XII. MY CORRESPONDENCE,                           70

     XIII. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION,              85

      XIV. "BOTHER'EM POOTRUMS." BUBBLE NUMBER TWO,     90

       XV. ADVERTISING EXTRAORDINARY,                   98

      XVI. HEIGHT OF THE FEVER,                        104

     XVII. RUNNING IT INTO THE GROUND,                 111

    XVIII. ONE OF THE FINAL KICKS,                     119

      XIX. THE FOURTH FOWL SHOW IN BOSTON,             124

       XX. PRESENT TO QUEEN VICTORIA,                  129

      XXI. EXPERIMENTS OF AMATEURS,                    137

     XXII. TRUE HISTORY OF "FANNY FERN,"               147

    XXIII. CONVALESCENCE,                              155

     XXIV. AN EXPENSIVE BUSINESS,                      160

      XXV. THE GREAT PAGODA HEN,                       165

     XXVI. "POLICY THE BEST HONESTY,"                  176

    XXVII. A GENUINE HUMBUG,                           182

   XXVIII. BARNUM IN THE FIELD,                        190

     XXIX. FIRST "NATIONAL" POULTRY SHOW IN NEW YORK,  198

      XXX. BARNUM'S INNATE DIFFIDENCE,                 204

     XXXI. A SUPPRESSED SPEECH,                        213

    XXXII. A "CONFIDENCE" MAN,                         220

   XXXIII. THE ESSENCE OF HUMBUG,                      224

    XXXIV. A TRUMP CARD,                               229

     XXXV. "HOLD YOUR HORSES,"                         237

    XXXVI. TRICKS OF THE TRADE,                        243

   XXXVII. FINAL DEATH-THROES,                         252

  XXXVIII. THE PORTE-MONNAIE I OWE 'EM COMPANY,        259

    XXXIX. A SATISFACTORY PEDIGREE,                    263

       XL. DOING THE GENTEEL THING,                    273

      XLI. THE FATE OF THE "MODEL" SHANGHAES,          279

     XLII. AN EMPHATIC CLINCHER,                       288

    XLIII. "STAND FROM UNDER,"                         294

     XLIV. BURSTING OF THE BUBBLE,                     302

      XLV. THE DEAD AND WOUNDED,                       307

     XLVI. A MOURNFUL PROCESSION,                      312

    XLVII. MY SHANGHAE DINNER,                         318



THE HISTORY OF THE HEN FEVER.



CHAPTER I.

PREMONITORY SYMPTOMS OF THE DISEASE.


I was sitting, one afternoon, in the summer of 1849, in my little
parlor, at Roxbury, conversing with a friend, leisurely, when he
suddenly rose, and passing to the rear window of the room, remarked to
me, with considerable enthusiasm,

"What a splendid lot of fowls you have, B----! Upon my word, those are
very fine indeed,--do you know it?"

I had then been breeding poultry (for my own amusement) many years; and
the specimens I chanced at that time to possess were rather even in
color, and of good size; but were only such as any one might have
had--bred from the common stock of the country--who had taken the same
pains that I did with mine.

There were perhaps a dozen birds, at the time, in the rear yard, and my
friend (_then_, but who subsequently passed to a competitor, and
eventually turned into a sharp but harmless enemy) was greatly delighted
with them, as I saw from his enthusiastic conversation, and his
laudation of their merits.

I am not very fast, perhaps, to appreciate the drift of a man's motives
in casual conversation,--and then, again, it may be that I am "not so
slow" to comprehend certain matters as I might be! At all events, I have
sometimes flattered myself that, on occasions like this, I can "see as
far into a millstone as can he who picks it;" and so I listened to my
friend, heard all he had to say, and made up my mind accordingly, before
he left me.

"I tell you, B----, those are handsome chickens," he insisted. "I've got
a fine lot, myself. You keep but one variety, I notice. I've got 'em
_all_."

"All what?" I inquired.

"O, all kinds--all kinds. The Chinese, and the Malays, and the Gypsies,
and the Chittaprats, and the Wang Hongs, and the Yankee Games, and
Bengallers, and Cropple-crowns, and Creepers, and Top-knots, and Gold
Pheasants, and Buff Dorkings, and English Games, and Black Spanish and
Bantams,--and I've several _new breeds_ too, I have made myself, by
crossing and mixing, _in the last year_, which beat the world for beauty
and size, and excellence of quality."

"Indeed!" I exclaimed. "So you have made several new _breeds_ during
_one_ year's crossing, eh? That _is_ remarkable, doctor, certainly. I
have never been able yet to accomplish so extraordinary a feat, myself,"
I added.

"Well, _I_ have," said the doctor,--and probably, as he was a practising
physician of several years' experience, he knew how this reversion of
nature's law could be accomplished. I didn't.

"Yes," he continued; "I have made a breed I call the 'Plymouth
Rocks,'--superb birds, and great layers. The--a--'Yankee
Games,'--regular knock-'em-downs,--rather fight than eat, any time; and
never flinch from the puncture of steel. Indeed, _so_ plucky are these
fowls, that I think they rather _like_ to be cut up than
otherwise,--alive, I mean. Then, I've another breed I've made--the
'Bengal Mountain Games.' These _are_ smashers--never yield, and are
magnificent in color. Then I have the '_Fawn-colored Dorkings_,' too;
and several other fancy breeds, that I've fixed up; and fancy poultry is
going to sell well in the next three years, you may be sure. Come and
see my stock, B----, won't you? And I'll send you anything you want from
it, with pleasure."

I was then the editor of a weekly paper in Boston. I accepted my
friend's kind invitation, and travelled forty miles and back to examine
his poultry. It looked well--_very_ well; the arrangement of his houses,
&c., was good, and I was gratified with the show of stock, and with his
politeness. But he was an enthusiast; and I saw this at the outset. And
though I heard all he had to say, I could not, for the life of me,
comprehend how it was that he could have decided upon the astounding
merits of all these different _breeds_ of fowls in so short a space of
time--to wit, by the crossings in a single year! But that was his
affair, not mine. He was getting his fancy poultry ready for the market;
and he repeated, "It will _sell_, by and by."

And I believe it did, too! The doctor was right in _this_ particular.

He informed me that he intended to exhibit several specimens of his
fowls, shortly, in Boston; and soon afterwards I met with an
advertisement in one of the agricultural weeklies, signed by my friend
the doctor, the substance of which was as follows:

     NOTICE.--I will exhibit, at _Quincy Market_, Boston, in a few days,
     sample pairs of my fowls, of the following pure breeds; namely,
     Cochin-China, Yellow Shanghae, Black Spanish, Fawn-colored
     Dorkings, Plymouth Rocks, White Dorkings, Wild Indian, Malays,
     Golden Hamburgs, Black Polands, Games, &c. &c; and I shall be happy
     to see the stock of other fanciers, at the above place, to compare
     notes, etc. etc.

The above was the substance of the "notice" referred to; and the doctor,
coming to Boston shortly after, called upon me. I showed him the
impropriety of this movement at once, and suggested that some spot
other than Quincy Market should be chosen for the proposed
exhibition,--in which I would join, provided an appropriate place should
be selected.

After talking the matter over again, application was made to an
agricultural warehouse in Ann-street, or Blackstone-street, I believe;
the keepers of which saw the advantages that must accrue to themselves
by such a show (which would necessarily draw together a great many
strangers, out of whom they might subsequently make customers); but, at
my suggestion, this very stupid plan was abandoned--even after the
advertisements were circulated that such an exhibition would come off
there.

Upon final consideration it was determined that the first Exhibition of
Fancy Poultry in the United States of America should take place in
November, 1849, at the _Public Garden_, Boston.



CHAPTER II.

THE "COCHIN-CHINAS." BUBBLE NUMBER ONE.


A public meeting was soon called at the legislative hall of the
Statehouse, in Boston, which had the effect of drawing together a very
goodly company of savans, honest farmers, amateurs, poulterers, doctors,
lawyers, flats, fanciers and _humbugs_ of one kind or another. _I_ never
attended one of the meetings; and only know, from subsequent public and
private "reports," what occurred there.

On this _first_ occasion, however, after a great deal of bosh and stuff,
from the lips of old men and young men, who possessed not the slightest
possible shadow of practical knowledge of the subject proposed to be
discussed, it was finally resolved that the name for the (now defunct)
association then and there formed, should be "_The New England Society
for the Improvement of Domestic Poultry_"!!!

Now, the only objection I ever raised to this title was that it was not
sufficiently _lengthy_! When applied to for my own views on the subject,
_I_ recommended that it should be called the "Mutual Admiration
Society." But, though I was thought a great deal of by its
members,--especially when the concern was short of funds,--in _this_
case they thought my proposed title was altogether too applicable; and
the original name, above quoted, was adhered to.

I was honored with the office of vice-president of the society, for
Massachusetts; to which place I was reëlected annually, I believe, until
the period of its death. For which honor I was not ungrateful, and in
consideration of which, "as in duty bound, I have ever prayed" for the
association's prosperity and weal.

The first name that was placed upon the list of subscribers to the
constitution of this society was that of His Excellency Geo. N. Briggs,
formerly Governor of this commonwealth. He was followed by a long list
of "mourners," most of whom probably ascertained, within five years from
the hour when they subscribed to this roll, that causing the cock's spur
_to grow between his eyes_ was not quite so easy a thing to accomplish
as one "experienced poultry-breeder" at this meeting coolly asserted it
to be! How many attempted this experiment (as well as numerous others
there suggested as feasible), I am not advised. But I am inclined to
think that those who did try it found it to be "all in their eye."

While these gentlemen were arranging the details of the new "society,"
and were deciding upon what the duties of the officers and committees
should be, I quietly wrote out to England for information regarding the
somewhat notorious "_Cochin-China_" fowl, then creating considerable
stir among fanciers in Great Britain; and soon learned that I could
procure them, in their purity, from a gentleman in Dublin, whose stock
had been obtained, through Lord Heytsbury (then Lord Lieutenant of
Ireland), direct from Queen Victoria's samples. I ordered six of
them,--two cocks and four hens,--and in December, 1849, I received them
through Adams & Co.'s Transatlantic Express.

At this period there was no telegraph established from Boston to
Halifax, I believe. Some of the reporters for the daily city papers
usually visited the steamers, upon their arrival here, to obtain their
foreign files of exchanges; and here my birds were first seen by those
gentlemen who have made or broken the prospects of more than one
enterprise of far greater consequence than this "importation of fancy
fowls" could seem to be.

But on the day succeeding the coming of those birds, several very
handsome notices of the arrival of these august Chinamen appeared in the
Boston papers, and a vast amount of credit was accorded to the
"enterprising importer" of the outlandish brutes, that were described in
almost celestial language!

After considerable trouble and swearing (custom-house swearing, I mean),
the officers on board permitted my team to take the cage out of the
steamer, and it was conveyed to my residence in Roxbury, where it
arrived two hours after dark.

I had long been looking for the coming of these Celestial strangers, and
the "fever," which I had originally taken in a very kindly way, had by
this time affected me rather seriously. I imagined I had a fortune on
board that steamer. I looked forward with excited ideas to beholding
something that this part of the world had never yet seen, and which
would surely astound "the people," when I could have the opportunity to
show up my rare prize,--all the way from the yards or walks of royalty
itself! I waited and watched, with anxious solicitude,--and, at last,
the box arrived at my house. It was a curiously-built box--the fashion
of it was unique, and substantial, and foreign in its exterior. I
supposed, naturally, that its contents must be similar in character.
That box contained my "Cochin-Chinas,"--bred from the Queen's
stock,--about which, for many weeks, I had been so seriously disturbed.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF THE "COCHIN-CHINA" FOWL!]

I am _now_ well satisfied that the "Cochin-China" variety of fowl is a
gross fable. If such a breed exist, in reality, we have never had them
in this country. Anything (and everything) has been _called_ by this
name among us, in the last five years; but the engraving on the
following page, in my estimation (and I have been there!), is the
nearest thing possible to a likeness of this _long_ petted bird; and
will be recognized, I think, by more than one victim, as an accurate
and faithful portrait of this lauded "magnificent" and "superb" bird!

I was anxious to examine my celestial friends at once. I caused the box
to be taken into a shed, at the rear of the house, and I tore from its
front a piece of canvas that concealed them from view, to behold
a----well! _n'importe_--they were _Cochin-China_ fowls!

But, since God made me, I never beheld six _such_ birds before, or
since! They resembled _giraffes_ much more nearly than they did any
other thing, carnivorous, omnivorous,--fish, flesh, or fowl. I let them
out upon the floor, and one of the cocks seized lustily upon my
India-rubber over-shoe, and would have swallowed it (and myself), for
aught I know, had not a friend who stood by seized him, and absolutely
choked him off!

This is truth, strange as it may seem; but I presume they had scarcely
been fed at all upon their fortnight's voyage from Dublin, and I never
saw any animals so miserably low in flesh, in my life, before. What with
their long necks, and longer legs, and their wretchedly starved
condition, I never wondered that the friendly reporters spoke of their
appearance as being "extraordinary, and strikingly peculiar."

These were the original "Cochin-China" fowls of America. And they
probably never had the first drop of Chinese blood in their veins, any
more than had the man who bred them, and who knew this fact much better
than I did--who knew it well enough.

I housed my "prize" forthwith, however, and provided them with
everything for their convenience and comfort. The six fowls cost me
ninety dollars. They _were_ beauties, to be sure! When I informed a
neighbor of their cost, he ventured upon the expressive rejoinder that I
"was a bigger d----d fool than he had ever taken me for."

To which I responded nothing, for I rather agreed with him myself!

Nine months afterwards, however, I sold him a cock and three pullets,
four months old, raised from those very fowls, for sixty-five dollars;
and I didn't retort upon him even _then_, but took his money. The
chickens I sold him were "dog-cheap," at that!

[Illustration]



CHAPTER III.

THE FIRST FOWL-SHOW IN BOSTON.


Never in the history of modern "bubbles," probably, did _any_ mania
exceed in ridiculousness or ludicrousness, or in the number of its
victims surpass this inexplicable humbug, the "hen fever."

Kings and queens and nobility, senators and governors, mayors and
councilmen, ministers, doctors and lawyers, merchants and tradesmen, the
aristocrat and the humble, farmers and mechanics, gentlemen and
commoners, old men and young men, women and children, rich and poor,
white, black and grey,--_everybody_ was more or less seriously affected
by this curious epidemic.

The press of the country, far and near, was alive with accounts of
"extraordinary pullets," "enormous eggs" (laid on the tables of the
editors), "astounding prices" obtained for individual specimens of rare
poultry; and all sorts of people, of every trade and profession and
calling in life, were on the _qui vive_, and joined in the hue-and-cry,
regarding the suddenly and newly ascertained fact that hens laid
eggs----_sometimes_; or, that somebody's crower was heavier, larger, or
higher on the legs (and consequently higher in value), than somebody
else's crower. And the first exhibition of the society with the long
name came off duly, at last, as agreed upon by the people, _and_ myself.

"The _people_"! By this term is ordinarily meant the body-politic, the
multitude, the citizens at large, the voters, the--the--a--the masses;
the----well, no matter! At the period of which I am now writing, the
term signified the "hen-men." This covered the whole ground, at that
time. Everybody was included, and thus nobody was left outside!

At this first show, the committee "flattered themselves" (and who ever
heard of, or from, a committee that didn't do this!) that never, within
the memory of the oldest inhabitant,--who, by the way, was then living,
but has since departed to that bourn from which even defunct hen-men do
not return,--never had such a display been witnessed; never had the
feathered race before appeared in such pristine beauty; never had any
such exhibition been seen or read of, since the world begun! And, to say
truth, it wasn't a very bad sight,--that same first hen-show in Boston.

Thousands upon thousands visited it, the newspapers appropriated
column after column to its laudation, and all sorts of people
flocked to the Public Garden to behold the "rare and curious and
inexpressibly-beautiful samples" of poultry caged up there, every
individual specimen of which had, up to that hour, been straggling and
starving in the yards of "the people" about Boston (they and their
progeny) for years and years before, unknown, unhonored and unsung.

Gilded complimentary cards, in beautifully-embossed envelopes, were duly
forwarded by the "committee" to all "our first men," who came on foot or
in carriages, with their lovely wives and pretty children, to see the
extraordinary sight. The city fathers, the public functionaries,
governors, senators, representatives, all responded to the invitation,
and everybody was there.

The cocks crowed lustily, the hens cackled musically, the ducks quacked
sweetly, the geese hissed beautifully, the chickens peeped delightfully,
the gentlemen talked gravely, the ladies smiled beneficently, the
children laughed joyfully, the uninitiated gaped marvellously, the crowd
conversed wisely, the few knowing ones chuckled quietly,--everybody
enjoyed the thing immensely,--and suddenly, prominent among the throng
of admirers present, loomed up the stalwart form and noble head of
Daniel Webster, who came, like the rest, to _see_ what he had only "read
of" for the six months previously.

The committee saw him, and they instantly lighted on him for a speech;
but he declined.

"Only a few words!" prayed one of them.

"One word, _one_ word!" insisted the chairman.

"I can't!" said Daniel.

But they were importunate and unyielding, that enthusiastic committee.

"Gentlemen!" said the honorable senator, at last, amid the din. "Ladies
and gentlemen!" he continued, as a monster upon feathered stilts, at his
elbow, shrieked out an unearthly crow, that drowned the sound of his
voice instanter,--"Ladies and gentlemen, really--I--would--but the noise
and confusion is so great, that I cannot be heard!"--and a roar followed
this capital hit, that drowned, for the moment, at least, even the
rattling, crashing, bellowing, squeaking _music_ of the feathered bipeds
around him.

The exhibition lasted three days. Unheard-of prices were asked, and
readily paid, for all sorts of fowls; most of those sold being mongrels,
however. As high as thirteen dollars was paid by one man (who soon
afterwards became an inmate of a lunatic asylum) for a single pair of
domestic fowls. It was monstrous, ridiculous, outrageous, exclaimed
every one, when this fact--the absolute paying down of thirteen round
dollars, then the price of two barrels of good wheat flour--was
announced as having been squandered for a single pair of chickens.

I _sold_ some fowls at that show. I didn't _buy_ any there, I believe.

The receipts at the gates paid the expenses of the exhibition, and left
a small surplus in the hands of somebody,--I never knew who,--but who
took good care of the money, I have not a doubt; as most of the officers
at _that_ time were, like myself, "poor, but honest."

By the time this fair closed, the pulse of the "dear people" had come to
be rather rapid in its throbs, and the fever was evidently on the
increase. Fowls were in demand. Not _good_ ones, because nothing was
then said by the anxious would-be purchasers about _quality_. Nobody had
got so far as that, then. They wanted _fowls_ only,--hens and cocks,--to
which they themselves gave a name.

Some fancied one breed, or variety, and some another; but anything that
sported feathers,--from the diminutive Bantam to the stork-shaped
Chinaman,--everything was being sought after by "amateurs" and
"fanciers" with a zest, and a readiness to pay for, that did honor to
the zeal of the youthful buyers, and a world of good to the hearts of
the quiet breeders and sellers, who began _first_ to get posted up, and
inured to the disease.

_I_ was an humble and modest member of this latter class. _I_ kept and
raised only _pure_ breeds of fowls.



CHAPTER IV.

HOW "POULTRY-BOOKS" ARE MADE.


Soon after this, I learned that one Asa Rugg, of Pennsylvania (a _nom de
guerre_), was in the possession of a breed of fowls that challenged all
comparison for size and weight. They were called the _Chittagong_ fowl,
and were thus described in the poultry-books published in 1850:

"The fowl thus alluded to has been imported, within the last two or
three years, into Pennsylvania, and ranks at the head of the list, in
that region, for all the good qualities desirable in a domestic bird.
The color is a _streaked grey_, rather than otherwise, and the portraits
below" (my birds) "are fine samples of this great stock. They are
designated as the GREY CHITTAGONGS."

"Asa Rugg," in his letter to me, described this stock as being at the
head of the races of poultry, having "the _largest_ blood in them of any
variety of fowl with which he was acquainted." The pair he first sent me
were light-grey and streaked, and "at less than seven months old weighed
over _nineteen_ pounds."

He said, in that insinuating and delicate manner so peculiar to the
habits of gentlemen who possess what another wishes to buy of them,--"I
did not intend, my dear Mr. B----, to part with these magnificent
specimens at _any_ figure whatever. I assure you I had much rather
retain them; for they are _very_ fine, as you would say, could you see
them. If, however, you are disposed to pay my price, I shall let you
have them. I really shall regret their absence from my yard, however.
Try and make up your mind to be satisfied with something else--won't
you? _These_ fowls I must keep, if possible," &c. &c.

Now, Asa _knew_ very well, if he had charged me two hundred (instead of
twenty) dollars for those grey fowls, I should have taken them from him.
Of course I sent for them at once; and, within ten days, they were in my
poultry-house, a new wonder for the hundreds who called to see my
"superb" and "extraordinary" fowls.

A competitor turned up, a few months after this, a notorious breeder in
P----, who, though a respectable man, otherwise, never knew a hen from a
stove-pipe, but who had more money at that time than I had, and who, in
the hen-trade, possessed the impudence of the devil, without the
accompanying graces to carry out his object.

This man chanced, while in Pennsylvania, to hear Asa speak of _me_, and
at once he stepped in to "head me" in that quarter. He bought all the
"_Grey_ Chittagongs" that Rugg had left (most of which, when they
reached P----, happened to be dark _red_ and _brown_), and forthwith set
up an establishment in _opposition_ to me; for what purpose I never
knew. I did not know him from a side of sole-leather, I had never spoken
to or of him, and I could not comprehend why this person should render
himself, as he did, my future "death's head" in the fowl-trade.

If he went into the traffic for the purpose of making money out of it,
he has found, by this time, I have no doubt, that he would have been, at
the very least calculation, five thousand dollars better off had he
never thrust himself into a business of which he did not know the first
rudiments.

If he embarked in it to interfere with or to injure me, personally, he
has now ascertained, I imagine, that it required a faster horse than
_he_ was in the habit of driving to keep in sight of _my_ team.

If his purpose was the gratification of his own petty spite or ambition
only, he has had to pay for the enjoyment of it,--ay, to his dear
cost!--and he is welcome to all he ever made out of his contemptible,
niggardly huckstering.

Soon after the first exhibition, it was announced by the publishers in
Boston that Dr. Bennett's new Treatise would be immediately issued by
them. The doctor had originally applied to the establishment in which I
was then a partner, to issue this work; but I recommended him to the
others, because our own facilities for getting it out were not so good
as I thought were theirs.

I furnished a considerable amount of the matter for that book, and had
already obtained, at my own individual expense, several of the
engravings which appear in the work spoken of. After the original cuts
were placed in the publishers' hands, they were reduced in size, and
injured (for my purposes), as I conceived, when they finally appeared in
print.

The doctor's book on poultry had been announced again and again; but it
did not make its appearance in the market, in consequence of his
tardiness. Week after week, and month after month, passed by, but still
no Dr. Bennett's book could be found. I saw some of the proof-sheets
finally, observed the fate of the illustrations of _my_ fowls, and made
up my mind what I would do. The book was at last announced positively to
appear in three weeks.

I immediately called at a stereotype foundery, and asked how much time
it would require to stereotype a work of one hundred and fifty pages for
me. I was told that it would occupy three to four weeks to complete it.
"Can't it be done in _one_ week?" I inquired. The proprietor smiled, and
said that this was impossible. I replied, "Well, sir, to-day is Tuesday.
I have engaged to deliver in New York city, on the morning of a week
from next Saturday, three thousand copies of a book _which I am about
to write_. Is there _no_ way that you can help me out?" The gentleman
looked at me incredulously.

I added, "Mr. ----, I have been in the newspaper business a good many
years, and I have had the message of the President of the United
States--a document occupying a dozen columns of solid brevier and
minion--set up and put to press within forty-two minutes from the time
it reached our office. _Anything_ can be accomplished, now-a-days, if we
but will it."

"But, you say you _are about_ to write it. When will the 'copy' be
ready?" said the stereotyper.

"I have thought of this," I replied, "but a few hours. The _title_,
even, is not yet decided upon. I will give you fifty pages of manuscript
to-morrow morning, the next day I will add another fifty, and you shall
have the whole in hand by Friday morning."

He kindly undertook to aid me. I engaged three engravers, who worked day
and night upon the drawings and transfers of the fowls for my
illustrations; the paper was wet down on Monday and Tuesday; I read the
final revised proof of my work on Wednesday night; the book went to
press on Thursday; the binders were ready for it as it came up, the
covers were put on on Friday morning, and I sent to the New York house
(who had bespoken them), by Harnden's Express, on Friday evening, three
thousand five hundred copies of the "NEW ENGLAND POULTRY-BREEDER,"
_illustrated with twenty-five correct engravings_ of _my_ choice,
magnificent, superb, unapproachable, pure-bred fowls.

This book had an extraordinary sale,--far beyond my own calculations,
certainly. I got it out for the purpose of "doing justice" to my own
stock, and calculated that it would prove a good advertising medium for
me,--which it _did_, by the way. But the demand for the "New England
Poultry-Breeder" was immense. And _thirteen_ different editions (varying
from three thousand five hundred to one thousand copies each) were
issued within as many weeks, and were sold, every copy of them. This is
the true history of the "New England Poultry-Breeder."

By and by Dr. Bennett's book appeared. The market was now glutted with
this kind of thing, and this work, though a good one, generally, dragged
on the hands of its originators. I doubt if a thousand copies of this
book ever found their way into the market, the author being too deeply
engrossed with his then thriving trade, to trouble himself about urging
the sale of his book, or of thinking about the interests of his
publishers.



CHAPTER V.

THREATENING INDICATIONS.


Another meeting was now called at the Statehouse, which was even more
fully attended than the first, and at which much more serious
indications of enthusiasm were apparent.

Old men, and middle-aged farmers, and florists, and agriculturists, and
live-stock breeders, from all parts of this and the neighboring states,
congregated together on this eventful occasion, and entered into the
debate with an earnestness worthy of so important and "glorious" a
cause.

Some of the speakers had by this time got to be so elated and so ardent
that they rehearsed all they knew, and some of them told of a great deal
more than themselves or anybody else had ever dreamed of, bearing upon
the subject of poultry-raising. But, really, the subject was an exciting
one, and the talkers were excusable; they couldn't help it!

Shades of morus multicaulis victims! Shadows of defunct tulip-growers!
Spirits of departed Merino sheep speculators! Ghosts of dead Berkshire
pig fanciers! Where were ye all on that eventful night, when six
hundred sober, "respectable" representatives of "the people" were
assembled within the walls of our time-honored state edifice upon Beacon
Hill, in serious and animated conclave, to decide the momentous question
that "hens _was_ hens," notwithstanding, nevertheless!

"Mr. President," exclaimed one of these gentlemen (whose speech was not
publicly reported, I think), "Mr. President, the times is propishus.
We're a-enterin' on a new ery. The _people_ is a-movin' in this 'ere
great, and wonderful, and extraordinary--I may say, Mr. President, this
'ere soul-stirrin' and 'lectrefyin--branch of interestin' rural
erconomy." (Applause, during which the speaker advanced a step or two
nearer to the presiding officer's desk, wiped his nose fiercely upon a
fiery-red bandanna handkerchief, and proceeded.)

"The world, Mr. President," he continued, "is a-growin' wiser ev'ry
day,--I may say ev'ry hour, Mr. President! Ay, sir, ev'ry minute." (Loud
applause, amid which one old gentleman in a bob-wig was particularly
vociferous.)

"I say, Mr. President, the people is a-growin' wiser continu'lly; and by
that expression, sir, I mean to convey the idee that they are a-gettin'
to know more, sir! Who will gainsay this position? Whar's the
man--whar's the er--individooal, sir--that'll stan' up 'ere to-night, in
this hallowed hall, under the shadder of this doom above our heads,
sir, in view of the great American eagle yender,--that 'bird of
promise,' sir,--and dispute the assertion that I now make, Mr.
President, as an American citizen, without fear and without reproach!"
(Deafening shouts of "Nobody! nobody _can_ dispute it!")

"No, _sir_! I think not, I wot not, I ventur' not, I cal'k'late _not_! I
say, Mr. President, it is no use for nun of us to contend agin the
mighty ingine of progress; 'nless we'd like to get our crowns mashed in
for our pains, sir. That's the way it 'pears to _me_; and I've no doubt
that this 'nlitened ordinance now present, sir, will agree with me on
_this_ p'int, and admit the truth that present indications, sir, p'int,
with strikin' force, to the proberble likelihood that the deeds begun
here to-night must be forever perpetooated hereafter, and that--a--they
will--er--go down, sir, to our children, and our children's children, _a
posteriori_, in the futur, forever!" ("Yes, yes!" and thundering
applause.)

"But, sir, the p'int at issoo seems to me to be clear as the broad-faced
sun on a cloudy day. I'm no speaker, sir. I am not the man, sir, that
goes about to proclaim on tops of houses! I'm a quiet citizen, and calls
myself one o' 'the people,' sir. But w'en the questions comes up of
_this_ natur',--w'en it 'pears to me to be so clear and so
transparent,--w'en the people goes abroad, sir, in their might,
and--er--and can't stay ter home,--w'en _such_ things occurs, sir, then
_I'm round_!" (Shouts of "Good! good! good!" the respectable old
gentleman in the bob-wig creating a cloud of dust about him with his
stamping and excited gestures.)

"Mr. President, I have a'most done----" ("No, no! Go on, go on!" from
all parts of the house.)

"No, sir; as I've said afore, I'm no speaker, an' I make no pretenshuns
to oraterry. I'm a plain man, sir; but I feel deeply interested in this
subject." (Nobody had yet ascertained what the "subject" was, because
the gentleman hadn't alluded to any.) "And, sir, I feel that I should be
unjust to myself and to this ordinance ef I did not say what I have,
sir. I go in for the poultry-breedin', sir, all over! Sir,

     I love 'em, I love 'em,--an' who shall _dar'_
     To chide me for lovin' and praisin' them _'are_?

"I love 'em, sir,--chickens or poultry,--dead or alive. My father afore
me loved 'em, sir; and I'm rejoiced to see the feelin's that's exhibited
here to-night. And, 'less anybody should suspect that I have ventured
upon these few remarks with mercenary motives, Mr. President (though
_perhaps_ no such suppersishun would animate no man's bosom), I will
state, sir, that I have no fowls to sell, sir,--none whatever. _No_,
sir! not a fowl! I'm a buyer, sir,--I want to _buy_," shouted the
excited man,--and he sat down amid the deafening plaudits of his
associates at this meeting, who fully appreciated his speech and his
palpable disinterestedness.

(_Item._--I found this gentleman the next day, and informed him that I
had heard of his destitution. I had understood that he had no poultry,
but was in search of _pure-blooded_ stock. Before night I had fully
supplied him with _genuine_ samples, at thirty dollars a pair, and no
"discount for cash.")

Before this meeting concluded, the prices of fowls, and eggs, and
feathers, were duly discussed, the details of which I will defer to the
next chapter.

But all the indications at this convention were really of a threatening
character; and it would have required the strength of several stout men
to have held certain of the speakers as they got warmed up, and rattled
away, for dear life, upon the advantages that must accrue to the nation,
in a thousand ways, from the encouragement of this epidemic, and the
certain, inevitable losses that must be sustained by "the people" if
they didn't go into this thing with a rush.

Most of these speakers, however, had fowls _for sale_!



CHAPTER VI.

THE EPIDEMIC SPREADING.


While all this was transpiring, my "splendid" Cochin-China fowls had
arrived from England, and I had had a nice house arranged, in which to
keep and exhibit them to visitors.

The pullets began to lay in January, 1850, and immediately afterwards my
trade commenced in earnest, which continued, without interruption, up to
the close of the year 1854.

Among the "monstrosities" presented at the second meeting at the Boston
Statehouse were several propositions that were suggested by
gentlemen-amateurs and farmers in regard to the price that should be
fixed on, by members of the Society with the elongated title, for _eggs_
sold for incubation.

One man thought that _two_ dollars a dozen for most of the fancy kinds
would pay well. This gentleman (I do not remember who he was) probably
calculated to furnish fancy eggs as a certain agricultural concern had
been doing for some months: that is, by first purchasing them at a
shilling a dozen from the eastern packets, or in Quincy Market. The next
man thought that _three_ dollars per dozen would be fair. Another member
believed that _one_ dollar was enough for twelve eggs, "but he didn't
know much about it," he acknowledged; which was pretty evident from his
remarks. At any rate, he had never fed a "laying hen" long enough on
good corn to ascertain how much she would devour while she was
furnishing him with the said twelve eggs, I imagine! One gentleman, more
liberally disposed, probably, ventured to express his willingness to pay
_five_ dollars a dozen for what he wanted. I understood he got home
safely after the meeting, though it was feared he would be mobbed for
his temerity in making this ridiculous offer!

I had already fixed _my_ price for the eggs that were to be dropped by
my "extraordinary and superb" Cochin-China fowls, which by this time had
got to be "the admiration of the State" (so the newspapers said). I had
the _best_ fowls in this world, or in any other; this being conceded by
every one who saw them, there was no necessity of "talking the subject
up" to anybody. I charged _twelve_ dollars a dozen for my eggs--and
never winked at it!

And why shouldn't I have the highest price? Were not my fowls the
"choicest specimens" ever seen in America? Didn't everybody so declare?
Didn't the press and the poultry-books concede this, without an
exception? Well, they did! And so, for months, I obtained one dollar
each for my Cochin-China fowls' eggs; and I received order after order,
and remittance after remittance, for eggs (at this figure), which I
could not _begin_ to supply.

And I didn't laugh, either! I had no leisure to laugh. I filled the
orders as they came,--"first come, first served,"--and for several
months I found my list of promises six or eight weeks in advance of my
ability to meet them with _genuine_ eggs.

I was not so well informed, then, as I was afterwards. I think all the
eggs that were then wanted _might_ have been had. But, as the boy said,
when asked where all the stolen peaches he had eaten were gone, "I
donno!"

Will it be credited that, during the summer of 1850, I had dozens of
full-grown men--gentlemen--but enthusiastic hen-fanciers (who had
contracted the fever suddenly), who came to my residence for
Cochin-China eggs, at one dollar each, and who, upon being informed that
I hadn't one in the house, would quietly sit down in my parlor and wait
two, three, or four hours at a time, _for the hens to lay them a few_,
that they might take them away with them? Such is the fact, however it
may be doubted.

I subsequently sold the eggs at ten dollars a dozen; then at six
dollars; and finally, the third and fourth years, at five dollars. This
paid me, because I sent off a great many.

But they didn't hatch well after having been transported away and shaken
over in the hands of careless and ignorant or reckless express agents.
Thus the buyers came again. Many of the early fanciers tried this
experiment over and over again, but with similar ill-success; and when
they had expended ten, twenty, or thirty dollars, perhaps, for eggs,
they would begin at the _beginning_ aright, and purchase a few chickens
to rear, from which they could finally procure their own eggs, and go
forward more successfully. But all this took time to bring it about.

And meanwhile _somebody_ (I don't say who) was "feathering a certain
nest" as rapidly as a course of high-minded and honorable dealing with
his fellow-men would permit.



CHAPTER VII.

ALARMING DEMONSTRATIONS.


My premises were literally besieged with visitors, and my family
attendants were worn out with answering the door-bell summons, from
morning till night.

"Is Mr. B---- at home? Can we see his Cochin-Chinas? Can we look at Mr.
B----'s fowls? Might we take a look at the chickens?" were the questions
from sun to sun again, almost; and I was absolutely compelled, in
self-defence, to send the fowls away from home, for a while, for the
sake of relief from the continual annoyances to which, in consequence of
having them in my yard, I was subjected.

Fifteen, twenty, often forty callers in a single day, would come to see
my "magnificent" Cochin-China fowls. But I sent them off, and then "the
people" cried for them!

"Who's dead?" queried a stranger, passing my door one day, and observing
the carriages and vehicles standing in a line along the front of my
garden-fence.

"Nobody, I guess," said another; "that's where the _Cochin-Chinas_ are
kept."

"The what?"

"The Cochin-Chinas."

"What's them?"

"Don't you know?"

"No; never heard of 'em, afore."

"Never heard of Burnham's Cochin-Chinas?"

"Never! What are they?"

"Well, I reckon you ha'n't lived in these 'ere parts long, my friend,"
continued the other; "and you'd better step in and look at 'em."

In came the stranger, and after examining the fowls he returned.

"How do you like 'em?" asked the man who had already seen them, and was
waiting for his friend outside.

"They're _ronchers_, that's a fact!" exclaimed the gratified stranger.
And this was the universal opinion.

Nobody had ever seen such fowls (_I_ had seen a good many better
ones!)--nobody had ever beheld any so large, so heavy, so fine. And
every one who came to look at them purchased or engaged either eggs or
chickens from these "extraordinary" and "never-to-be-too-much-lauded"
royal Cochin-China fowls!

For my first broods of chickens (at three and four months old) I readily
obtained twenty-five dollars a pair; and every one of them went off
"like hot cakes" at this figure. It was too low for them, altogether;
and I had occasion to regret, subsequently, that I did not charge fifty
dollars a pair;--a price which I might just as easily then have obtained
as if I had charged but one dollar a pair, as events proved to my
satisfaction.

But everything connected with this fever could not well be learned at
once. I was not a very dull scholar, and I progressed gradually. One
year after the receipt of my Cochins, I got my own price for them, ask
what I might. I sold a good many pairs at one hundred dollars the
couple; and, oftentimes, I received this sum for a trio of them.

Things begun to look up with me. I had got a very handsome-looking stock
on hand, at last; and when my numerous customers came to see me, they
were surprised (and so was _I_) to meet with such "noble" samples of
domestic fowls. "Magnificent!" "Astonishing!" cried everybody.

A splendid open carriage halted before my door, one day, and there
alighted from it a fine, portly-looking man, whom I had never seen
before, and whose name I did not then learn; who, leaving an
elegantly-dressed lady behind in the vehicle, called for me.

I saw and recognized the _carriage_, however, as one of Niles'; and I
was satisfied that it came from the Tremont House. As soon as the
gentleman spoke, I was also satisfied, from his manner of speech, that
he was a Southerner. He was polite and frank, apparently. I invited him
in, and he went to look at my fowls; that being the object, he said, of
his visit.

He examined them all, and said, quietly:

"I'd like to get half a dozen of these, if they didn't come too high;
but I understand you fanciers have got the price up. I used to buy these
chickens for a dollar apiece. _Now_, they say, you're asking five
dollars each for them."

I showed him my stock,--the "_pure_-bred" ones,--and informed him at
once that I had not sold any of _my_ chickens, latterly, at less than
_forty_ dollars a pair.

He was astounded. He didn't want any--much: that is, he wasn't
particular. He could buy them for five dollars; shouldn't pay that,
_no_how; wanted them for his boy; would come again, and see about it,
&c. &c.

A five-year-old stag mounted the low fence at this moment, and sent
forth an electrifying crow, such as would (at that period) have taken a
novice "right out of his boots;" and a beautiful eight-pound pullet
showed herself beside him at the same time. The stranger turned round,
and said:

"There! What is your price for such a pair as that, for instance?"

"Not for sale, sir."

"But you _will_ sell them, I s'pose?"

"No, sir. I have younger ones to dispose of; but _that_ pair are my
models. I can't sell _them_."

The gentleman's eye was exactly filled with this pair of chickens.

"What will you _take_ for those two fowls?"

"One hundred dollars, sir," I replied.

"I guess you will--when you can get it," he added.--"Name your lowest
price, now, for those two. I want _good_ ones, if any."

"I prefer to keep them, rather than to part with them at _any_ price," I
insisted. "If, however, a gentleman like yourself, who evidently knows
what good fowls are, desires to procure the choicest specimens in the
country, why, I confess to you that those are the persons into whose
hands I prefer that my best stock should fall. But I will show you some
at a lower figure," I continued, driving this pair from the fence.

"Don't you! Don't drive 'em away!" said the gentleman;--"let's see.
That's the cock?"

"Yes, sir."

"And this is the hen?"

"Yes."

"One _hundred_ dollars! You don't _mean_ this, of course," he persisted.

"No, I mean that I would rather keep them, sir."

"Well--I'll----_take them_," said the stranger. "It's cruel. But, I'll
take them;" and he paid me five twenty-dollar gold pieces down on the
spot, for two ten-months-old chickens, from my "splendid" Royal
Cochin-China fowls.

He had a tender spot _somewhere_, that I had hit, during the
conversation, I presume. He took the two chickens into his carriage, and
I have never seen or heard from him from that day to this. I trust,
however, if "these few lines" should ever meet his eye, that his poultry
turned out well, and that he himself is in good health and spirits!

I called this gallant young cock "Frank Pierce," in honor of my valiant
friend now of the White House, at Washington. It will be seen that I
thus sold Frank for fifty dollars; a sum which the majority of the
people of this country have since most emphatically determined was _a
good deal more than he ever was worth_!



CHAPTER VIII.

THE FEVER WORKING.


About this time an ex-member of Congress, formerly from Pennsylvania,
was invited to deliver the address before one of the county agricultural
societies of that state (where the fever had now begun to spread with
alarming rapidity), who, in the course of his speech on that occasion,
delivered himself of the following pointed and forcible remark.

Speaking of poultry and the rare qualities of certain domestic fowls, he
said, "Ladies and gentlemen, next to a beautiful woman, and an honest
farmer, I deem a Shanghae cock the noblest work of God!"

Now, this expression might be looked upon, by some persons, as savoring
of demagogism, or, at the least, as an approach to "running this thing
into the ground" (or into the air); but the honorable gentleman no doubt
felt just what he said. I have seen many sensible men who felt worse
than this--a good deal--on this self-same subject; and who expressed
themselves much more warmly in regard to the characteristics and
beauties of domestic poultry; but, to be sure, it was _after_ they had
"gone through the mill," and had come out at the _small_ end of the
funnel.

In New England, especially, prior to the _second_ show of poultry in
Boston, the fever had got well up to "concert pitch;" and in New York
State "the people" were getting to be very comfortably interested in the
subject--where _my_ stock, by this time, had come to be pretty
extensively known.

The expenses attendant upon this part of the business, to wit, the
process of furnishing the requisite amount of information for "the
people" (on a subject of such manifestly great importance), the _quantum
sufficit_ in the way of drawings, pictures, advertisements, puffings,
etc., through the medium of the press, can be _imagined_, not described.

The cost of the drawings and engravings which I had executed for the
press, from time to time, during the years 1850, '51, '52, and '53,
exceeded over eight hundred dollars; but this, with the descriptions of
my "rare" stock (which I usually furnished the papers, accompanying the
cuts), was _my_ chosen mode of advertising. And I take this method
publicly to acknowledge my indebtedness to the press for the kindness
with which I was almost uniformly treated, while I was thus seriously
affected by the epidemic which destroyed so many older and graver men
than myself; though few who survived the attack "suffered" more
seriously than I did, during the course of the fever. For instance, the
large picture of the fowls which I had the pleasure of sending to Her
Majesty Queen Victoria (in 1852), and which appeared in _Gleason's
Pictorial_, the _New York Spirit of the Times_, _New England
Cultivator_, &c., cost me, for the original drawing, engraving,
electrotyping, and duplicating, _eighty-three dollars_.

All these expenses were cheerfully paid, however, because I found my
reward in the consciousness that I performed the duty I owed to my
fellow-men, by thus aiding (in my humble way) in disseminating the
information which "the people" were at that time so ravenously in search
of, namely, as to the person of whom they could obtain (without regard
to price) the _best_ fowls in the country.

This was what "the people" wanted; and thus the malady extended far and
wide, and when the fall of 1850 arrived, buyers had got to be as plenty
as blackberries in August, whilst sellers "of reputation" were, like the
visits of angels, few and far between. _I_ was, by this time, considered
"one of 'em." I strove, however, to carry my honors with Christian
meekness and forbearance, and with that becoming consideration for the
wants and the wishes of my fellow-men that rendered myself and my
"purely-bred stock" so universally popular.

Ah! when I look back on the past,--when I reflect upon the noble
generosity and disinterestedness that characterized all my transactions
at that flush period,--when I think of what I did for "the cause," and
how liberally I was rewarded for my candor, my honesty of purpose, and
my disingenuousness,--tears of gratitude and wonder rush to my eyes, and
my overcharged heart only finds its solace by turning to my ledger and
reading over, again and again, the list of prices that were then paid me
by "the people," week after week, and month after month, for my
"magnificent samples" of "pure-bred" Cochin-China chickens, the original
of which I had imported, and which were _said_ to have been bred from
the stock of the Queen of Great Britain.

But, the Mutual Admiration----I mean, the "Society" whose name was like

     "Lengthened sweetness, long drawn out,"

was about to hold its second annual exhibition; and, as the number of
its members had largely increased, and as each and all of those who
pulled the wires of this concern (while at the same time they were
pulling the wool over the eyes of "the people") had plans of their own
in reference to details, I made up my mind, although I felt big enough
to stand up even in this huge hornet's nest of competition, to have
things to suit _my_ "notions."

I _now_ had fowls to sell! I had raised a large quantity of chickens;
winter was approaching, corn was high, they required shelter, the _roup_
had destroyed scores of fowls for my neighbors, and I didn't care to
winter over three or four hundred of these "splendid" and "mammoth"
specimens of ornithology, each one of which could very cleverly dispose
of more grain, in the same number of months, than would serve to keep
one of my heifers in tolerable trim.

Such restrictions were proposed by the officers of the Society with the
lengthened cognomen, that my naturally democratic disposition revolted
against the arbitrary measures talked of, and I resolved to get up an
exhibition of my own, where this matter could be talked over at leisure,
and which I did not doubt would "turn an honest penny" into my own
pocket; where, though I had done _well_ thus far, there was still room,
as there was in hungry Oliver Twist's belly, for "more."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

THE SECOND POULTRY-SHOW IN BOSTON.


On the 2d, 3d, and 4th days of October, in the year of our Lord 1850,
the "grand exhibition" (so the _Report_ termed it), for that year, came
off at the large hall over the Fitchburg Railroad Dépôt, in Boston,
"which proved a most extensive and inviting one" (so continued the
Report), "far exceeding, both in _numbers_ and in the _quality_ of
specimens offered, anything of its kind ever got up in America.

"The birds looked remarkably fine in every respect, and the undertaking
was very successful. A magnificent show of the feathered tribe greeted
the thousands of visitors who called at the hall, and all parties
expressed their satisfaction at the proceedings.

"The Committee awarded to George P. Burnham, of Melrose, the _first_
premiums for fowls and chickens. The prize birds were the '_Royal
Cochin-Chinas_' and their progeny, which have been bred with care from
his imported stock; and which were generally acknowledged at the head
of the list of specimens."

The prices obtained at this exhibition ranged very high, and "full
houses" were constantly in attendance, day and evening, to examine and
select and purchase from the "pure-bred" stock there. "Mr. Burnham, of
Melrose" (continued the Report), "declined an offer of $120 for his
twelve premium Cochin-China chickens, and subsequently refused $20 for
the choice of the pullets."

"The show was much larger than the first one, and the character of the
birds exhibited was altogether finer, though the old fowls were, for the
most part, moulting. A deep interest was manifested in this enterprise,
and it went off with satisfaction to all concerned," added the Report.

In order that the details of this experiment (which _I_ projected and
carried through, myself) may be appreciated and understood, I extract
from the "official" Report the following items regarding this show, the
expenses, the prize-takers, &c.

The "Committee of Judges," consisting of myself, G.P. Burnham, Esq., and
a gentleman of Melrose, made the following statements and
"observations," in the _Report_ above referred to:

"The Exhibition was visited by full ten thousand persons, during the
three days mentioned. The amount of money received for tickets was four
hundred and seventy-three dollars and thirty-eight cents; and the
following disbursements were made:

     Cash paid for rent of hall,                          $175.00
       "      "    amount of premiums and gratuities,      135.00
       "      "    for lumber and use of tables,            17.60
       "      "    for lighting hall, advertising, etc.,    70.40
       "      "    tickets, cards and handbills,            18.21
       "      "    carpenters and attendants,               27.50
       "      "    police and door-keepers,                 15.00
       "      "    grain, seed, buckets, pans, etc.,        25.56
       "      "    coops, cartage and sundries,              7.37
                                                           ------
                   Total expenses,                        $491.64
                   Amount received, as stated,             473.38
                                                           ------
                   Deficit,                                $18.26"

When the state of the funds was subsequently more particularly inquired
into, however, it was found that the amount of money actually received
at the door was a little rising _nine_ hundred and seventy dollars,
instead of "_four_ hundred and seventy-three," as above quoted. But this
was a trifling matter; since the "Committee of Judges" spoken of above
accounted for this sum, duly, in the final settlement.

The "Committee" aforesaid awarded the following premiums at this show,
after attending to the examination confided to them--namely:

"_First_ premium, for the best six fowls contributed, to _George P.
Burnham_, of Melrose, Mass., $10.

"For the three best Cochin-China Fowls (Royal), to _George P. Burnham_,
Melrose, Mass., $5.

"For the twelve best chickens, of this year's growth (Royal
Cochin-China), to _George P. Burnham_, Melrose, $5."

And there were some _other_ premiums awarded, I believe, there, but by
which I was not particularly benefited; and so I pass by this matter
without further remark, entertaining no doubt whatever that all the
gentlemen who were awarded premiums (and who obtained the amount of the
awards) exhibited at the Fitchburg Hall Show _pure_-bred fowls.

After making these awards, the "Committee of Judges" (consisting, as
aforesaid, of myself, Mr. Burnham, and a fancier from Melrose) state
that "they find great pleasure"--(mark this!)--"they find great pleasure
in alluding again to the splendid contributions" of some of the
gentlemen who had fowls in this show,--and then the Report continues as
follows:

"The magnificent samples of _Cochin-China_ fowls, contributed by G.P.
Burnham, of Melrose, were the theme of much comment and deserved praise.
These birds include his imported fowls and their progeny--of which he
exhibited nineteen splendid specimens. To this stock the Committee
unanimously awarded the _first_ premiums for fowls and chickens; and
finer samples of domestic birds will rarely be found in this country.
They are bred from the Queen's variety, obtained by Mr. Burnham last
winter, at heavy cost, through J. Joseph Nolan, Esq., of Dublin, and are
unquestionably, at this time, the finest thorough-bred Cochin-Chinas in
America."

My early hen-friend the "Doctor"--alluded to in the opening chapter of
this book--exhibited a fowl which the "Committee" thus described in
their report:

"The rare and beautiful imported _Wild India Game_ hen, contributed by
Mr. B.F. Griggs, Columbus, Geo., was a curiosity much admired. This fowl
(lately sold by Dr. J.C. Bennett, of Plymouth, to Mr. Griggs, for $120)
is thorough game, without doubt; and her progeny, exhibited by Dr.
Bennett, were very beautiful specimens. To this bird, and the '_Yankee
Games_' of Dr. Bennett, the Committee awarded a gratuity of $5."

So miserable a _hum_ as this was, I never met with, in all my long
_Shanghae_ experience. It out-bothered the Doctor's famous "Bother'ems,"
and really out-_Cochined_ even my noted Cochin-Chinas! But I was
content, _I_ was one of the "Committee of Judges." I had forgot!

This Committee's Report was thus closed:

"It has been the aim of the Committee to do _justice_ to all who have
taken an interest in the late Fowl Exhibition, and they congratulate
the gentlemen who have sustained this enterprise upon its success."

They did _ample_ justice to this Wild Bengal Injun Hen, that is certain.
The Cochin-China trade received an impulse (after this show concluded)
that astonished even _me_, and I am not easily disturbed in this
traffic. And I have no doubt that the people who paid their money to
witness this never-to-be-forgotten (by me) exhibition, were also
satisfied.

The experiment was perfectly successful, however, throughout. I
forwarded to all my patrons and friends copies of this Report,
beautifully illustrated; and the orders for "_pure_-bred chickens from
the _premium_ stock" rushed in upon me, for the next four or five
months, with renewed vigor and spirit.

This first exhibition at the Fitchburg Dépôt Hall proved to me a
satisfactorily profitable advertisement, as I carried away all the
premiums there that were of any value to anybody. But then it will be
observed that the "Committee of Judges" of this show were my "friends."
And, at that time, the competition had got to be such that all the
dealers acted upon the general democratic principle of going "for the
greatest good of the greatest number." In my case, I considered the
"greatest number" Number _One_!



CHAPTER X.

THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY'S SECOND SHOW.


In the month following, to wit, on the 12th, 13th and 14th of November,
1850, the second annual exhibition of the Simon Pure Society with the
extended title was held at the Public Garden, in Boston.

No premiums were offered by the society this year, and there wasn't much
to labor for. I was a contributor, and I believe I was elected a member
of the Committee of Judges that year. How, I did not know. At any rate,
I wrote the published _Report_ upon the exhibition. A Mr. Sanford Howard
was chairman of this committee, if I remember rightly; and though
undoubtedly a very respectable and well-meaning man (if he had not been
so, he wouldn't have been placed on a Committee of Judges with _me_, I
imagine), this Mr. Howard knew positively _nothing_ whatever in regard
to the merits or faults of poultry generally. He had acquired some vague
notions about what he was pleased to term "crested" fowls, and
five-toed, white-legged, white-plumed, white-billed, white-bellied
Dorkings,--of which he conversed technically and learnedly; but as to
his knowledge of the different varieties and breeds of domestic poultry
then current, and their characteristics, it was evidently warped and
very limited.

But Mr. Howard had been connected for some months with a small monthly
publication in New York State, and, like myself, I presume, among the
board (God knows who they were, but _I_ don't, and never did!) who
originally chose this "Committee," he had "a friend at court," and was
made _chairman_ of the committee too,--_how_, I never knew, either.

In their Report, the Committee observe, again, that "_never_ in this
country, if in the world, was there collected together so large a number
of domestic fowls and birds as were sent to this exhibition, probably;
and, though the most liberal arrangements were made in advance, it was
found that the accommodations, calculated for _ten thousand specimens_,
were entirely insufficient. The Committee merely allude to this fact to
show the actual extent of this enterprise, and the importance which the
undertaking has assumed, in a single year from the birth of the
Association.

"According to the records of the Secretary, there were contributed to
the Society's exhibition of 1850 some four hundred and eighty coops and
cages. There were in all over three hundred and fifty contributors; in
addition to which about forty coops, containing some six hundred fowls,
were sent to the Garden and received on exhibition upon the two last
days of the Show; and which could not be recorded agreeably with the
regulations made originally.

"The palpable improvement in the appearance of the fowls exhibited in
1850, as compared with the samples shown in 1849, offers ample
encouragement to breeders for _further and more extended efforts_; and
your Committee would urge it upon those who have already shown
themselves competent to do so much, _to go on and effect still greater
progress_ in the improvement of the poultry of New England."

This Report (the second of the series) did _my_ stock ample justice, I
have not a doubt. I wrote it myself, and intended that it should do so.
The text was in nowise changed when printed, and a reference to the
document (for that year) will convince the skeptical--if any
exist--whether I was or was not acquainted with adjectives in the
superlative degree!

A very singular occurrence took place about this time, the _basis_ of
which I did not then, and have never since, been able to comprehend,
upon any principles of philosophy, economy, business, benevolence, or
even of sanity. But I am not very clear-headed.

In the _addenda_ to my Report (above named) there appeared the annexed
statement, by somebody:

"The Trustees refer to the following with mixed pride and pleasure; the
munificence and motive of the gift are most creditable. A voluntary
kindness such as that of Mr. Smith is a very gratifying proof that the
labors of the Society are not regarded by enlightened men as vain:

                                         "_Boston, 12th February, 1851._

     "G.W. SMITH, ESQ.

     "SIR: A meeting of the Trustees of the 'New England Society for the
     Improvement of Domestic Poultry' was held last evening, Col. Samuel
     Jaques, President of the Society, in the chair, and a full quorum
     being present, when the Treasurer announced the receipt of your
     very handsome _donation of one hundred and fifty dollars_ in aid of
     the Society's funds; whereupon it was moved, and unanimously
     agreed, that the most grateful thanks of the Society were justly
     due to you for such a munificent testimony of your desire for its
     prosperity; that the Secretary communicate to you the assurance of
     the high appreciation with which the donation was received; and
     that its receipt, and also a thankful expression of gratitude
     towards you, should be placed on the records of the Society.

     "I can only reiterate the sentiments contained in my instructions,
     in which I fully and gratefully concur; and, with best wishes for
     your long-continued welfare,

                         "I am, sir, very truly yours,

                                      "JOHN C. MOORE, _Rec. Secretary_."

Now, it will be observed that this was not _John_ Smith who presented
this sum, but another gentleman, and a different sort of individual
altogether. He gave it (one hundred and fifty dollars in hard cash) the
full value of a nice pair of my _best_ "pure-bred" Cochin-Chinas,
without flinching, without any fuss, outright, freely, "in aid of the
Society's funds."

Liberal, generous, benevolent, charitable, kindly Mr. Smith! You did
yourself honor! _You_ were one of the kind of men that I should very
much liked to have had for a customer, about those days. But, after due
inquiry, I ascertained that you did not keep, or breed, poultry. You
were only a "friend" to the Society with the elongated name,--the _only_
friend, by the way, it ever had! Heaven will reward you, Mr. Smith,
sooner or later, for your disinterestedness, but the Society never can.
Be patient, however, and console yourself with the reflection that he
who giveth to the poor, lendeth, &c. &c. The Society with the
long-winded title was _poor_ enough, and you cannot have forgotten that
he who casteth his bread (or money) upon the waters will find it, after
many days. You will find yours again, I have no doubt; but it will be
emphatically "after _many_ days."

The second show closed, the expenses of which reached the sum of one
thousand and twenty-seven dollars eighteen cents, and the receipts at
which amounted to one thousand and seventy-nine dollars eighty-four
cents, exclusive of the above-named donation. The Society had now a
balance of two hundred and two dollars sixty-six cents in hand, and it
went on its way rejoicing.

COL. JAQUES (the first President) now "resigned his commission," and
MOSES KIMBALL, Esq., was chosen in his stead. I found myself once more
among the Vice Presidents, John C. Moore was elected Secretary, Dr. Eben
Wight was made Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and H.L. Devereux
became Treasurer for the succeeding year.

These officers were all "honorable men" who were thus placed in position
_to watch each other_! The delightful consequences can readily be
fancied. What my own duties were (as Vice-President) I never knew. I
supposed, however, that, as "one of 'em" thus elevated in official rank,
I was expected to do my uttermost to keep the bubble floating, and to
aid, in my humble way, to maintain the inflation. And I acted
accordingly; performing my duty "as I understood it"!

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI.

PROGRESS OF THE MALADY.


Immediately after this second exhibition, the sales of poultry largely
increased. Everybody had now got fairly under weigh in the hen-trade;
and in every town, at every corner, the pedestrian tumbled over either a
fowl-raiser or some huge specimen of unnameable monster in chicken
shape.

I had been busy, and had added largely to my "superior" stock of
"pure-blooded" birds, by importations from Calcutta, Hong-Kong, Canton
and Shanghae, direct. In two instances I sent out for them expressly,
and in two or three other instances I had obtained them directly from on
shipboard, as vessels arrived into Boston and New York harbors.

I was then an officer in the Boston Custom-house,--a democrat under a
whig collector,--otherwise, a live skinned eel in a hot frying-pan. But
I found that my business had got to be such that I could not fulfil my
duty to Uncle Sam and attend appropriately to what had now got to be of
very much greater importance to me; and so I resigned my situation as
Permit Clerk at the public stores, very much to the regret of everybody
in and out of the Custom-house, and especially those who were applicants
for my place!

I had purchased a pretty estate in Melrose, and now I enlarged my
premises, added to my stock, and raised (during the summer and fall of
1851) over a thousand fowls, upon my premises. This did not begin to
supply the demands of my customers, however, or even approach it. And,
to give an idea of my trade at that period, I will here quote a letter
from one of my new patrons. It came from the interior of Louisiana, in
the fall of 1851.

    "GEO. P. BURNHAM, ESQ., BOSTON.

    "I am about to embark in the raising of poultry, and I hear of
    yourself as an extensive breeder in this line. Do me the favor to
    inform me, by return mail, what you can send me _one hundred pairs_
    of Chinese fowls for, of the yellow, red, white, brown and black
    varieties; the cocks to be not less than eight to ten months old,
    and pullets ready to lay; say twenty pairs of each color. And also
    state how I shall remit you, in case your price suits me, &c.

                                                          "---- ----."

I informed this gentleman that I had just what he wanted (of course),
and that if he would remit me a draft by mail for fifteen hundred
dollars--though this price was really too low for them--I would forward
him one hundred pairs of fowls "that would astonish him and his
neighbors." Within three weeks from the date of my reply to him, I
received a sight draft from the Bank of Louisiana upon the Merchants'
Bank, Boston, for fifteen hundred dollars. I sent him such an invoice of
fowls as pleased him, and I have no doubt he was (as he seemed to be)
perfectly satisfied that he had thus made the best trade he ever
consummated in the whole course of his life.

During the next spring I bred largely again, and supplied all the best
fanciers in New England and New York State with stock, from which _they_
bred continually during that and the succeeding year.

In the spring of 1852 the Mutual Admiration Society of hen-men got up
their _third_ show, at the Fitchburg Dépôt (in _May_, I think), where a
goodly exhibition came off, and where there were now fowls _for sale_ of
every conceivable color and description, good, bad, and indifferent. I
contributed as usual, and, as usual, carried away the palm for the
_best_ samples shown. And here was evinced some of the shifts to which
certain hucksters resorted, to make "the people" believe that white was
black, that they originally brought this subject before the public eye,
and that _they_ only possessed the pure stock then in the country.

Reverends, and doctors, and deacons, and laymen,--all were there, in
force. Every man cried down every other man's fowls, while he as
strenuously cried up his own. Upon one cage appeared a card vouching
for the fact that a certain _original_ Shanghae crower within it, all
the way from the land of the Celestials, weighed fourteen pounds and
three ounces, and that a hen, with him, drew nine pounds six ounces
(almost twenty-four pounds). When the birds were weighed, the first drew
ten and a half pounds, and the other eight and a quarter only. This
memorandum appeared upon the box of a _clergyman_ contributor, who had
understood that size and great weight only were to be the criterion of
merit and value thenceforward. Another contributor boldly declared
himself to be the original holder of the only good stock in America. A
third claimed to be the father of the current movement, and had a gilded
vane upon his boxes which he asserted he had had upon his poultry-house
for five years previously. Another stated that all my fowls (there
shown) were bred from _his_ stock. And still another proclaimed that the
identical birds which I contributed were purchased directly of him; he
knew every one of them. Finally, one competitor impudently hinted that
my birds actually then belonged to _him_, and had only been _loaned_ to
me (for a consideration) for exhibition on this occasion!

When the fair closed, however, the matter was all set right, as may be
gathered from the following extract from the official Report of the
third show, of the Committee of Judges, of which I was _not_ a member:

"At this third Boston Show," says the Committee, "the best and most
faultless descriptions of Red and Buff Shanghaes were shown by G.P.
Burnham, Esq., and others. And of the Cochin-Chinas, the specimens of
Geo. P. Burnham, etc., were each and all notable, and worthy of public
appreciation."

This was satisfactory to me, and I made the most of this "werry
fav'rable opinion" of the august Committee,--who added the following, in
their Report, in reference to the action of Southern purchasers:

     "It seems, from reliable information received by members of the
     Committee, that fowls raised in New England, and exported South,
     attain to a much larger size, and are vastly more prolific, than in
     our colder climate. This is specially so in reference to the
     produce of stocks recently imported from the East, namely, the
     Shanghaes, Cochin-China fowls, and others of larger varieties. _So
     sensible have some of the most eminent Southern breeders become
     that such is the case, that they are annually in the habit of
     buying their young stock from the Northern States, and they find
     the system profitable._ In this way, New England bids fair to
     become the supply-market, in a great measure, for the South and
     West."

This was beautiful! "_Annually_ in the habit." I liked _that_ portion
of it. And Southern buyers seemed to like it, too, judging from the
manner in which orders poured in upon us, after this gentle hint from
_such_ authority! I believe that the Chinese fowls really did better in
the South than they did with us, this way. At least, I _hope_ they did!



CHAPTER XII.

MY CORRESPONDENCE.


By this time my correspondence with gentlemen in all parts of America
and Great Britain had got to be rather extended. I took from the
post-office from ten to twenty-five or thirty letters, daily; and
amongst them were some curious samples of orthography, etymology,
syntax, and prosody. I offer the annexed specimens--of course without
names or dates--merely to show how the young aspirants for fame (in the
poultry-trade) felt, about those days; and, also, to give some idea of
the progress of the fever among us, as time passed by, etc. etc.

     No. 1.

     SIR--MR. BURNHAM;

     i red in Nu england poultry breeder that yu kep fouls an aigs for
     sail. i want one duzen aigs if tha doant cum tu tu mutch. ime a
     poor mann an carnt pa a gret pris. wot can yu cend me a duzen of
     yure best aigs for. ansur by male and direck yure leter tu me tu
     mi dress.

                                  Yr Respec'y, &c.

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 2.

     MY DEAR SIR:

     I am a poor clergyman, and I have some leisure, which I can devote
     to raising a few good fowls. If your price is not too high for the
     rather limited contents of my purse, please inform me, by return of
     mail, what you can furnish me with _pure_ Cochin-China eggs for. I
     am desirous to procure a few; and I prefer that you would select
     for me,--in a half-dozen, say two _male_ and four _female_ eggs. I
     suggest this, because I am informed that your long experience in
     this interesting branch of rural economy has enabled you to decide
     (upon examining them) whether eggs will produce cocks or pullets.
     Your early answer will confer a favor on,

                                  Sir, yours, truly,

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 3.

     MR. BURMAN:

     I close you ten dolls. Cend me a doz. of your Cotchen Chiny eggs
     rite away--cause I hav a hen thats been a setting on some stones I
     put under her now most a week. You rote me that you would hav them
     about this time, you know. Cend them by ----'s Express, and tell
     the man who fetches them not to turn the box over, at all. I want
     half and half--that is to say, half cock eggs, and half hen eggs.
     You know what I mean by this. Them that has the sharp ends on to
     one side--them's the cocks, and them that's round and smooth at
     both ends--them's the hens. Forwud immediately, and mark _with care
     glass this side up--don't shake this with speed_.

                                  Yours, &c.

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 4.

     G.P. BURNHAM, ESQ.

     DEAR SIR: I saw your beautiful Cochin-China fowls last week, in the
     paper, and am desirous to obtain a few eggs from them, if possible.

     Will they hatch under our common hens? Or, must we have the _pure_
     bloods to sit upon them? I am a novice, somewhat, in this business.
     I enclose you twelve dollars (the price for a dozen, I believe),
     which please forward, at your early convenience, by express, and
     oblige

                                  Yours, &c.

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 5.

     FRIEND BURNHAM:

     Enclosed please find ten dollars for another dozen of your _pure_
     Cochin-China eggs. The first ones you sent me (from some cause)
     did not hatch. I have kept a hen (a very good sitter, too) upon
     that first lot, _constantly_, for four weeks, now--and I don't
     believe I shall get a chick, you see! So, please forward these now,
     _right away_--because my hen will get tired of waiting, you know,
     if I don't keep her right along, steady. The $10 you will find
     within.

                                  Yours, resp'y,

                                                            ---- ----.

     P.S. Can you inform me what is good for _lice_ on fowls? I find
     that my hen is covered with a million of them, now. Don't forget
     this, please.[1]

     No. 6.

     SUR--wen i cum to boston nex weak i want to see yure poltry i am a
     ole hand at the bizness myself an I like to see good kinds of
     poltry every ware. i see yurn in the paper an i like them verry
     much can yu sel a hen without a cock, i have sevral cocks now of
     the _black dawkin_ pure bred and fine an i would change one of them
     with yu for a cochon chiner hen if yu say so. answer by fust male.

                                  Yure in haist

                                                            ---- ----.

     Mr. P.G. Barnum,}
              boston.}

     No. 7.

     DEAR SIR: Yours duly received. I did not suppose that the price of
     the "Cochins" was so high--but I must have a trio of them, at _any_
     figure. I enclose you fifty dollars for them, agreeably with your
     proposal, relying upon your known good taste in selections, and
     upon your proverbial reputation as regards the keeping only of
     _pure_ stock. Send them by Adams & Co.'s Express, in a roomy cage.
     If they are prime, my neighbors will very shortly order from you, I
     am sure.

                                  Yours, resp'y,

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 8.

     MR. BARNAM:

     Them two fowls I bought of you, by seeing the pictur in the
     newspaper, and which I paid you $35 cash down on the nail for, aint
     what they're cracked up to be--not by a long short, sir. Now, what
     I want you to do is to sen me back my munney, or I'll prosecute you
     and put you in prizon for cheating people by false pertences. I was
     so mad when I took them out of the box that I'd a good mine to kill
     an eat em both on the spot.[2] I aint no _hen_-man, I'd have you to
     understan, an you can't come none of this kine of nonsense over
     _me_. Sen me back my munney, or I'll complain of you in tu days
     before a Justis of the Peas--a friend of mine, that'll give you
     _fits_ if you _air_ a big man. I don't keer for that. I want my
     munney. The fowls is both sick, too. Answer this tu once, or els
     sen me back my munney.[3]

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 9.

     G.P. BURNHAM; ESQ.:

     I saw a cage of superb Cochin-China fowls from your yard,
     yesterday, _en route_ to Mobile. Can you duplicate them? If so, at
     what price? I had understood that a Mr. ---- kept choice fowls. I
     visited his place, but saw none there that seemed worth the taking
     away. If you can send me such a trio as I saw at Adams & Co.'s, let
     me know it immediately, and your price for them. How shall I remit
     you?

                                  Yours, &c.

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 10.

     MR. BURNHAM:

     I enclose you one hundred dollars, by check on Shoe and Leather
     Dealers' Bank, Boston (No. 417), to your order, for the fine fowls
     you describe in yours received this day. They should be _good_
     ones, as I have no doubt they are. Forward, at once,

                                  And believe me,

                                                         Yours,

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 11.

     G.B. BURNHAM, BOSTON.

     SIR: When I paid you $25 (twenty-five dolls.) for a pair of
     _Cochin-China_ chickens, according to your own terms, I did not
     suppose you would dare to send to _me_ (whom you must know to be a
     judge of all kinds of poultry) a pair of _Shanghaes_, instead of
     those I ordered![4] I want none but _pure_-bred fowls in my
     collection, nor will I have them there, either. I have now a plenty
     of the Shanghaes, and I ordered a pair of Cochin-Chinas of you.
     Now, I want to know what you will do in this matter. Will you send
     me a pair of _Cochins_, or not? That is all I want to know at
     present. From

                                  Yours, truly,

                                                            ---- ----.

     P.S. I am a lawyer by profession; and I submit to no imposition of
     this sort, you may be sure.

     No. 12.

     G.P. BURNHAM.

       MY DEAR SIR:

     The magnificent "Cochin-China" birds you forwarded me last are the
     admiration of every one who beholds them; and I am greatly your
     debtor for this superb lot of fowls. My neighbor, Hon. Mr. M----,
     desires me to request you to forward him four as nearly like mine
     as possible, and your draft on me, at sight, for the cost, will be
     duly honored. He can afford (and is willing) to pay liberally for
     them.[5] Charge him accordingly; but be careful that you do not
     send him finer samples than _mine_ are,--which, by the way, I do
     not think possible. I enclose you draft for $120, on Merchants'
     Bank, Boston, for your bill. And am

                                  Yours, truly,

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 13.

     SIR--I hav alwas heerd yu was a scamp, and now I _know_ yu are.[6]
     Them egs yu sent me was smasht all up, an they was runnin' down the
     sides of the box. What am I to do with them, sir--do yu think? Do
     yu spose I've gut money so plenty as to throw it way in this
     manner? Yu didn't put in _harf_ meal anuf, and the hole of them was
     spilte, besides being roten I hav no manner of dout. Now if yu send
     me back the six dolls. that the postmaster see me put into my fust
     letter to yu, all's well an good. And ef yu don't, see if I don't
     publis yu and yure caracter tu the hole wurld yu infermus cheet yu.
     Yu'd aughter be ashamed tu send a man egs that wa, anny how. So no
     more at present tell I heer from yu.

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 14.

     FRIEND BURNHAM:

     I have heard creditable accounts of thy poultry (of the
     Cochin-China variety), and I am induced from common rumor to
     believe thee a man who dealeth justly and honorably. I desire to
     procure a few of these choice fowls, if not too expensive; and will
     thank thee to inform me what thy price is for such, at ages varying
     from four to eight months old. Thy early reply will oblige thy
     friend and well-wisher,

                                                       ---- ---- ----.

     No. 15.

     G.P. BURNHAM, ESQ.--DEAR SIR: Send me ten trios more of the
     Cochin-China chickens, _immediately_. If you can put them down to
     $35 the trio, now, it will leave me a better margin. All the others
     are sold, at $60 the trio. Enclosed is draft on Bank of Commerce,
     Boston, for $400.

                                  In haste, yours,

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 16.

     SIR--

     I want tu get sum coshin chiney aggs, them as will hatch out
     chickns with fethers onto the leggs an no mistaik. if you got them
     kind yu can cend me wun dusen an i will cen yu bak the munny wen
     the chickns is hached with fethers onto there leggs not otherwise.
     If yu dont like tu cend them on this turms yu can keepe 'em
     yureself. I bort too duzsen eg in bostun an their wasn't none of em
     had no fethers on the leg, i mene the chick'ns, wen tha was hached.
     an I dont expek i shall be fuled no mor by no such humbugg by a
     good dele. i pade my munny for genwine aigs and I donte see no
     reesun wy peeple isn't onnest. How could i tell wether their was
     chickns in the egs or not? of course i cou'dn't. and i doant
     consider sech bissiness no bettern than cheetin rite out. i bort em
     _twict_ this wa, an i sharnt be fuled agin arter waitin as I did
     both times over three weeks. ef yu will plese to sen me the pure
     aigs abuv menciond and wate tell tha hach fether leggs chickns,
     well an good, ive no dout yu air a onnest man, cos all the
     noospapers pufs yu. But sum of the hen traiders aint no better than
     thaid oughter be--that's _my_ pinion.[7]

                                  Yours &c. etc.

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 17.

     MR. P.B. BURNUM; Sur,

     If you hav enny of them big Cokin Shiney fowl, that eat off tops of
     flour barils, I want sum. I gut a big nufoulan dogg that ways hard
     onto 140 pouns, and I want tu cell him, an git sum of them Cokin
     Shinys. This dogg is a gud dogg and dont eat much. I feed him on
     fish and hoggs hasslits and it dont cost much to keep him. He bitt
     a pedler's arm most off yisterday, but he woudnt be much trubble to
     you, if you kep him chaind _all the time_ sose he couldnt bite
     nobody. If you will rite me what you ask for yure fowls, I will
     inform you what I ask for my dog. I dont want none nless thay can
     eat off tops of flour barrils, of course. Them's the kind for
     me.[8] Anser by return mail.

                                  Yours Resp'y,

                                                            ---- ----.

[Illustration: THE SHANGHAE REFERRED TO IN LETTER NO. 17.--(See page
80.)]

     No. 18.

     G.P. BURNHAM, ESQ.:

     I have got a Shanghae cock weighing 15-1/2 pounds, and I want a few
     hens to match him. Can you supply me? My crower stands three feet
     four inches high, and his middle toe measures 7-1/2 inches in
     length. What do you think of that? I want six twelve-pound hens.
     Dr. Bennett can supply me, I presume; but I want _pure_-bred stock.
     I have no doubt my crower will weigh eighteen or nineteen pounds,
     at two years old; he is now only eight months old! Let me hear from
     you.

                                                 Resp'y, ---- -- ----.

     No. 19.

     MR. BURNHAM:

     I always took you to be a man of honor, and I supposed _you_ knew
     (if anybody did) what a Cochin-China fowl was, because you imported
     your stock. Now, those you sent me, and for which I willingly paid
     you $40 for the three, are feathered on the legs; this should _not_
     be, of course. How is this? They are fine, but I am certain they
     can be nothing but mere Shanghae fowls. Let me know about this,
     will you?

                                  Yours, &c.

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 20.

     MY DEAR SIR:

     I hardly know what to write you about the stock I had of you, six
     months ago, for "Cochin-Chinas." That they are _not_ Cochins I feel
     positive, however; for one half the chickens came smooth-legged,
     and the rest are heavily-feathered on the legs!! I consider them
     only _Shanghaes_, and now I want to know if you can send me a trio
     of _pure_ bloods, that you _know_ to be Cochins. If so, I care
     nothing about price. I want _blood_. "Blood tells," you know. Let
     me hear from you, and state your own views in this matter. I will
     be governed by your advice. Enclosed is ten dollars for a dozen of
     your "Cochin" eggs--_pure_, you know.

                                  In haste,

                                               Yours truly, ---- ----.

     No. 21.

     MR. BURNHAM.

     SIR: Do you call yourself a man of honor? I bought one doz.
     Cochin-China eggs of you, for which I paid you six dollars, cash. I
     set them, and I got but _ten_ chickens out of them (two eggs I
     found rotten, in the nest). Every one of these chicks are cocks,
     sir--_cocks_! Now, what the devil can _I_ do, do you imagine, with
     ten cocks? I want to breed fowls. That is what I bought the eggs
     for; to begin _right_. You must have _known_ better than this.
     Anybody could have seen that these were all male eggs. _I_ saw it,
     at once (I remember), but I _hoped_ I was mistaken. What do you
     propose to do about this? Let me know, _at once_, without fail.

                                  In haste,

                                                         ---- -- ----.

     No. 22.

     SIR: You may think well of the Cochin-China fowls,--I _don't_.
     Those you sent me are long-legged, and there are no feathers on
     their legs, or feet, as there _ought_ to be. _I_ know what a
     Cochin-China fowl is, too well to be deceived in this way. I will
     keep them. _You are a humbug._ You are welcome to the thirty
     dollars I paid you. I don't ask you to return it. I don't want it.
     I can get along very well without it. You need it. Keep it. Much
     good may it do you!

                                  In haste,

                                                            ---- ----.

     P.S. Don't you wish you may get another $30 out of me, that way? O,
     yes--I guess you will--ha! ha!

     No. 23.

     MR. BARMAN. Dear Sir: I see in the Poultry Books that the
     Cotchin-China fowls lays two eggs every day,[9] and sometimes
     three a-day. I have hens that lays two eggs a-day, frequenly, but I
     want to get the breed that will lay _three_ eggs a-day, reglar. If
     you have got anny of the Cotchins that you _know_ lays three eggs
     a-day, I would like to get a few, at a fair price. I don't pay no
     fancy prices for 'em, though. The hen fever won't larst forever, I
     don't believe; and then when its busted up, what's the fowls good
     for, even if they _do_ lay three eggs a-day? Let me hear from
     you,--but don't send any fowls unless you are _sure_ they lay three
     eggs every day!

                                  Yours, &c.,

                                                            ---- ----.

     No. 24.

     MR. BURNHAM.--SIR: I am a gentleman, and I have no disposition to
     be fractious. I sent you twelve dollars, in a letter, for a dozen
     "Cotchin" eggs, and I set them. After waiting twenty-three days, I
     found two grizzled-colored chickens in the nest yesterday, both of
     them with huge _top-knots_ on their polls! What does this mean? Am
     I to be swindled out of my money thus? By return of mail if you do
     not refund my money, if I live I will prosecute you, if it costs
     me a thousand dollars. You may rely on this. I am not a man to be
     trifled with, and I refer you to Messrs. ---- & ----, who know me;
     you evidently do _not_!

                                  In haste,

                                                            ---- ----.

[I did not reply to this spicy favor, because, if the gentleman really
was not a "fractious" man, I imagined he would like his pure-bred
chickens better as they grew up; and, besides, I could afford to wait
for "a gentleman" to cool off. I never heard from him, afterwards; and
concluded that he didn't _live_ to carry out his laudable intention of
expending a thousand dollars in prosecuting me! I trust that, before he
departed, he became hopefully pious. Peace to his manes!]

     No. 25.

     SIR: Them fouls you sent me, got the sore-hed. I gin em tuppentyn
     and unyuns and brandy, but it want no use. The poletry books sed
     so, and I follered the direction, and _it killed 'em both deader'n
     thunder, in one night_! Now you've gut my mony, and I haint narry
     fowls. What'll I do? Don't you think this a pooty impersition? Send
     me another pear, to once--if you don't want _fits_.

                                  In haist,

                                                            ---- ----.

[I sent this man "another _pear_,"--only I didn't!]

[1] After a hen had set over four weeks on her nest, I should suppose
she _might_ have been thus affected!

[2] O, the cannibal!

[3] I never heard from this customer again, and should now be glad to
know if he ever got his "munney"!

[4] _Here_ was a "lawyer," who knew the difference between a
Cochin-China and a Shanghae!

[5] This was the kind of gentleman I loved to fall in with.

[6] _Some_ persons would consider this personal!

[7] I would liked to have seen the dealer that could "fule" this
customer more than "twict."

[8] I informed this purchaser that I could send him a pair which, if
they "couldn't eat off the tops" of his flour-barrels, I'd warrant would
eat up the _contents_ of one as quickly as he could desire!

[9] "This gigantic bird," says Richardson, a noted English writer, "is
very prolific, _frequently laying two, and occasionally three eggs on
the same day_!" And, in support of this monstrous assertion, he
subsequently refers, as his authority for this statement (which was
called in question), to the "Rt. Hon. Mr. Shaw, Recorder of Dublin, to
Mr. Walters, Her Majesty's poultry-keeper, and to J. Joseph Nolan, Esq.,
of Dublin." This was, in _my_ opinion, one of the hums of the time, and
I never had occasion to change that opinion. I do not believe the hen
that _really_ laid two eggs in one day ever lived to do it a second
time! I have _heard_ of this thing, however. But I never knew of the
instance, myself.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION.


The foregoing are only a very few samples of hundreds upon hundreds of
similar letters I constantly received, for nearly five years.

All the blame occasioned by careless express-men, of false blood imposed
upon me originally, of tardy hens, of the hatching or non-hatching of
eggs transported hundreds of miles, of feathered legs upon chickens, or
the absence of them, of every species of mishap that could by any
possibility befall the fancier and amateur, through his own ignorance or
errors,--every kind of mistake was charged to _me_! But, with a
Christian meekness, I bore it all.

I was threatened with civil prosecutions, with the House of Correction,
the State Prison, the Penitentiary, and all sorts of other punishments,
for my remissness; but I submitted with a quiet resignation, because
"the people" were so deeply engaged in this pursuit, and everybody now
had the fever so shockingly, that I sympathized with all mankind, and
attributed these trifling ebullitions of ill-will, or raving, to the
spasms caused by the prevalence and the severity of the epidemic.

On the other hand, I was so often cheered on in my labors of love by the
kind consideration of a very different sort of patrons, that I did not
sink under the persecution of those who would gladly have floored me,
could the thing have been readily accomplished. I pocketed the money of
my customers, however, bred good fowls, followed up the trade sharply,
and found myself sailing easily along, in spite of the contemptible and
small-fry opposition of which I was continually the object. As an
agreeable offset to the complaints and murmurings in certain quarters,
the following few letters will tell their own story:

                    From Hon. Henry Clay.

                                                      _Ashland, 1851._

     GEO. P. BURNHAM, ESQ., BOSTON.

     MY DEAR SIR: I duly received your obliging letter, informing me
     that you had sent by the Express of Messrs. Adams & Co. a cage
     containing four fowls for me, and I postponed acknowledging it
     until the fate of the fowls should be ascertained. I have now the
     satisfaction to advise you that they all reached here safely.

     They have been greatly admired, not only for their enormous size,
     but for their fine proportions and beautiful plumage. I thank you,
     my dear sir, most cordially, for this very acceptable present. It
     has been my aim, for many years, to collect at this place the best
     improved breeds of the horse, the cow, the sheep, swine and the
     ass--though the last, not the least valuable, in this mule-raising
     state.

     To my stock on hand your splendid Cochin-China fowls will be a
     congenial and valuable addition; and, if we succeed with them, I
     will take care not to monopolize the benefit of them. I am greatly
     obliged to you, and,

                         With high respect, I am

                                             Your obd't servant,

                                                              H. CLAY.

                    From Gov. Geo. N. Briggs.

                                                   _Pittsfield, 1851._

     MY DEAR SIR:

     The cage of Cochin-China chickens you were kind enough to send,
     reached me in safety; and I am much obliged to you for this favor.

     They are, beyond comparison, the finest domestic fowls I have ever
     seen, and I shall breed them with such care that I hope to be able
     to give you a good account of them in the future.

     They are very much liked by all who have seen them, and you will
     please accept my thanks for your attention.

                                  I am, resp'y, yours,

                                                       GEO. N. BRIGGS.

                    From Hon. Daniel Webster.

                                                   _Marshfield, 1851._

     G.P. BURNHAM, ESQ.

     DEAR SIR: The coop of chickens arrived safely, and are noble
     specimens of the Chinese fowl. You will rarely meet with samples
     apparently so well bred, and they will do any one credit. I thank
     you for the consignment, and consider them a most valuable addition
     to my stock of poultry. Accept my best wishes, and believe me, dear
     sir,

                                  Yours, very truly,

                                                       DANIEL WEBSTER.

                    From Hon. Col. Phipps, H.R.M. Secretary.

                                         _Windsor Castle, Eng., 1853._

     DEAR SIR:

     The cage of Grey Shanghae fowls intended as a present from you to
     Her Majesty the Queen has this day been received from Mr. Mitchell,
     of the Zoological Gardens, and they have been highly admired by Her
     Majesty.

     I have received Her Majesty's commands to assure Mr. Burnham of her
     high appreciation of his attention; and to add that it affords
     another addition to the many marks of good will from the citizens
     of the United States which the Queen has received, and to which Her
     Majesty attaches so high a value.

                                  I have the honor to be

                                      Your ob't and humble ser't,

                                                          C.B. PHIPPS.

Similar documents were often received by me, from friends and customers
who knew how to appreciate good stock; and I have now hundreds of
letters on file, of the most flattering character,--from _every_ State
in the Union, from England, Ireland, France, Bavaria, etc., where my
stock was sent, and was roundly paid for,--all of which letters (with
their enclosures, from time to time) served amply to "balance accounts"
against the few received of an opposite character, and aided materially,
also, to keep "the subscriber" from caving in!

Among the most friendly customers I ever had, and those who bought the
most liberally,--while they were the most kindly in all their
intercourse with me,--I must mention my patrons of the South generally,
but especially the buyers in New Orleans and its vicinity. I never met
with a trickster amongst them, and they paid me thousands upon thousands
of dollars, without a word of cavil or complaint, from first to last.
These fanciers had long purses, and are live _men_, with hearts "as big
as a barn," so far as my experience goes.



CHAPTER XIV.

"BOTHER'EM POOTRUMS." BUBBLE NUMBER TWO.


There was something tangible, and _real_, in the "Cochin-China"
fowl,--something that could be seen and realized (precious little, to be
sure!), but still there was _something_. The Cochin-China hens would lay
eggs (occasionally), and when they didn't breed their chickens with
feathers upon the legs, they came without them. If the legs were not
black or green skinned, they were either yellow or some _other_ color.
Their plumage was either spotted and speckled, or it wasn't. And thus
the true article, the _pure_-bred Cochins, could always be designated
and identified,--by the knowing ones,--I _presume_. I studied them
pretty carefully, however, for five years; but _I_ never knew what a
"Cochin-China" fowl really was, yet!

But when, in 1850 and '51, the "_Bother'ems_" begun to be brought into
notice, I saw at once that, although this was bubble number two, it
ought to have been number _one_, decidedly.

Never was a grosser hum promulgated than this was, from beginning to
end, even in the notorious hum of the hen-trade. There was absolutely
nothing whatever in it, about it, or connected with it, that possessed
the first shade of substance to recommend it, saving its _name_. And
this could not have saved it, but from the fact that nobody (not even
the originator of the unpronounceable cognomen himself) was ever able to
write or spell it twice in the same manner.

The variety of fowl itself was the _Grey Chittagong_, to which allusion
has already been made, and the _first_ samples of which I obtained from
"Asa Rugg" (Dr. Kerr), of Philadelphia, in 1850. Of this no one now
entertains a doubt. They were the identical fowl, all over,--size,
plumage and characteristics.

But my friend the Doctor wanted to put forth something that would take
better than his "Plymouth Rocks;" and so he consulted me as to a name
for a brace of _grey_ fowls I saw in his yard. I always objected to the
multiplying of titles; but he insisted, and finally entered them at our
Fitchburg Dépôt Show as "_Burrampooters_," all the way from India.

These three fowls were bred from Asa Rugg's Grey Chittagong cock, with a
yellow Shanghae hen, in Plymouth, Mass. They were an evident cross, all
three of them having a _top-knot_! But, _n'importe_. They were then
"Burrampooters."

Subsequently, these fowls came to be called "Buram-pootras," "Burram
Putras," "Brama-pooters," "Brahmas," "Brama Puters," "Brama Poutras,"
and at last "Brahma Pootras." In the mean time, they were advertised to
be exhibited at various fairs in different parts of the country under
the above changes of title, varied in certain instances as follows:
"Burma Porters," "Bahama Paduas," "Bohemia Prudas," "Bahama Pudras."
And, for these three _last_ named, prizes were actually offered at a
Maryland fair, in 1851!

The following capital sketch (which appeared originally in the Boston
_Carpet-Bag_) is from the pen of the late Secretary of the Mutual
Admiration Society,--a gentleman, and a very happy writer in his way. It
gives a faithful and accurate description of what many of these monsters
really were, and will be read with gusto by all who have now come to be
"posted up" in the secrets of the hen-trade.

The editor of the above-named journal remarks that "as our _Carpet-Bag_
contains something connected with everything under the sun, we have
abstracted therefrom a chapter on chicken-craft, which embraces a very
important detail of that most abstruse science. When our readers scan
the beautiful proportions of the stately fowl that _roosts_ at the head
of this article, they will acknowledge that we have some right to
_cackle_ because of the good fortune we have had in securing such an
un_eggs_ceptionable picture, exhibiting the very perfection of
cockadoodledom. Isn't he a beauty, this BOTHER'EM POOTRUM?

[Illustration]

"Examine his altitude! Observe the bold courage that stands forth in his
every lineament! There is no dunghill bravery there! See what symmetry
floats round every detail of his noble proportions! What kingly grace
associates with the comb that adorns his head as it were a crown! What
fire there is in his eye! With what proud bearing does he not wear his
abbreviated posterior appendage! Looking at the latter, we, and every
one knowing in hen-craft, will readily exclaim, 'Gerenau de
Montbeillard! you must have been a most unmitigated muff to designate
_that_ beautiful fowl the _gallus ecaudatus_, or tailless rooster.' For
ourselves, our indignity teaches us to say, 'Mons. M.! your Essai sur
Historie Nat. des Gallinacæ Fran. tom. ii., pp. 550 et 656, is a
humbug!' We know that the universal world will sympathize in our
sentiment on this point."

Peter Snooks, Esq. (a correspondent of this journal), it appears, had
the honor to be the fortunate possessor of this invaluable variety of
fancy poultry, in its unadulterated purity of blood. He furnished from
his own yard samples of this rare and desirable stock for His Royal
Highness Prince Albert, and also sent samples to several other noted
potentates, whose taste was acknowledged to be unquestionable, including
the King of Roratonga, the Rajah of Gabble-squash, His Majesty of the
Cannibal Islands, and the Mosquito King. Peter supplies the annexed
description of the superior properties of this variety of fowls:

"The _Bother'em Pootrums_ are generally hatched from eggs. The
original pair were not; they were sent from India, by way of
Nantucket, in a whale-ship.

"They are a singularly _pictur-squee_ fowl from the very shell. Imagine
a crate-full of lean, plucked chickens, taking leg-bail for their
liberty, and persevering around Faneuil Hall at the rate of five miles
an hour, and you have an idea of their extremely ornamental appearance.

"They are remarkable for producing bone, and as remarkable for producing
offal. I have had one analyzed lately by a celebrated chemist, with the
following result:

     Feathers and offal,          39.00
     Bony substances,             50.00
     Very tough muscle and sinew, 09.00
     Miscellaneous residuum,      02.00
                                 ------
                                 100.00"

A peculiarly well-developed faculty in this extraordinary fine breed of
domestic fowls is that of _eating_. "A tolerably well-fed Bother'em will
dispose of as much corn as a common horse," insists Mr. S----. This goes
beyond _me_; for I have found that they could be kept on the allowance,
ordinarily, that I appropriated daily to the same number of good-sized
store hogs. As to affording them _all_ they would eat, I never did that.
O, no! I am pretty well off, pecuniarily, but not rich enough to attempt
any such fool-hardy experiment as that!

But Snooks is correct about one thing. They are not fastidious or
"particular about _what_ they eat." Whatever is portable to them is
adapted to their taste for devouring. Old hats, India-rubbers, boots and
shoes, or stray socks, are not out-of-the-way fare with them. They are
amazingly fond of corn, especially _a good deal of it_. They _will_ eat
wheaten bread, rather than want.

They are very inquisitive in their nature. Their habit of stalking
around the dwelling-house, and popping their heads into the
garret-windows, is evidence of this peculiar trait.

Their flesh is firm and compact, and requires a great deal
of eating to do it justice. Like Barney Bradley's leather
"O-no-we-never-mention-'ems," when cut up and stewed for tripe, "a
fellow could eat a whole bushel of potatoes to the plateful." It is of
the color of a stale red herring, and very much like that edible in
taste. Its scarcity constitutes its value.

This _rara avis in terris_ grows to a height somewhere between .00 feet
.16 inches and 25 feet. Its weight somewhat between .06 pounds and 1
cwt. It never lays, except when it rolls itself in the sand. The female
fowls sometimes do that duty, though amazingly seldom.

Mr. Snooks says he will back his Bother'em, for a chicken-feast, to
outcrow any three asthmatical steam-whistles that any railroad company
can scare up; and adds, "I am ashamed of the prejudice which makes my
fellow-men unjust. The Fowl Society--the New England organization, I
mean--repudiate the special merits of my _Bother'em Pootrums_, and tell
me that their ideas of improvement go entirely contrary to the propriety
of tolerating my noble breed of fowls. _Disgustibus non disputandum_, as
Shakspeare, or somebody for him, emphatically says,--which means, 'Every
one to his taste, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.' One
thing it will not be hard to prove, I think; that is, simply the
probability of something like envy operating among the members of the
Hen Society, on account of the exclusive attention paid my _Bother'ems_
at the late Fowl Fairs in Boston,"--where the 'squire's contributions
_did_ rather "astonish the boys" who were not thoroughly acquainted with
the excellent qualities of these birds. Verily, Snooks' "Bother'ems" did
bother 'em exceedingly!



CHAPTER XV.

ADVERTISING EXTRAORDINARY.


From the outset of my experience in the final attack of the hen fever, I
took advantage of every possible opportunity to disseminate the now
world-wide known fact that nobody else but myself possessed any
"pure-bred" poultry! I could have proved this by the affidavits of more
than a thousand "disinterested witnesses," at any time after April and
May, 1851, had I been called upon so to do. But as no one _doubted_
this, there was then no controversy.

But, as time wore along, competition became rife, and the foremost
chicken-raisers began to look about them for the readiest means
obtainable with which to cut each other's throats; not "with a feather,"
by any means, because that would have "smelt of the shop;" but whenever,
wherever, or however, their neighbors could be traduced, maligned,
vilified, or injured (in this pursuit), they embraced the opportunity,
and followed it up, without stint, especially towards my humble self,
until most of them, fortunately, broke their own backs, and were
compelled to retire from the field, while "the people" grinned, and
comforted them with the friendly assurance that it "sarved 'em right."

At the Fitchburg Dépôt Show, in 1850, my original "Grey Chittagongs"
(already described) were in the possession of G.W. George, Esq., of
Haverhill, to whom they had been sold by the party to whom I had
previously sold them. Nobody thought well of them; but they took a first
prize there, and the "Chittagongs" (so entered at the same time) of Mr.
Hatch, of Connecticut, also took a prize. My friend the Doctor then
insisted that these were _also_ "Burrampooters;" but, as nobody but
himself could pronounce this jaw-cracking name, it was taken little
notice of at that time.

Mr. Hatch had a large quantity of the Greys at this show, which sold
readily at $12 to $20 the pair; and immediately after this exhibition
the demand for "Grey Chittagongs" was very active. I watched the current
of the stream, and I beheld with earnest sympathy the now alarming
symptoms of the fever. "The people" had suffered a relapse in the
disease, and the ravages now promised to become frightful--for a time!

An ambitious sea-captain arrived at New York from Shanghae, bringing
with him about a hundred China fowls, of all colors, grades, and
proportions. Out of this lot I selected a few _grey_ birds, that were
very large, and (consequently) "very fine," of course. I bred these,
with other grey stock I had, at once, and soon had a fine lot of birds
to dispose of--to which I gave what I have always deemed their only true
and appropriate title (as they came from Shanghae), to wit, _Grey
Shanghaes_.

In 1851 and '52 I had a most excellent "run of luck" with these birds. I
distributed them all over the country, and obtained very fair prices for
them; and, finally, the idea occurred to me that a present of a few of
the choicest of these birds to the Queen of England wouldn't prove a
very bad advertisement for me in this line. I had already reaped the
full benefit accruing from this sort of "disinterested generosity" on my
part, toward certain _American_ notables (whose letters have already
been read in these pages), and I put my newly-conceived plan into
execution forthwith.

I then had on hand a fine lot of fowls, bred from my "imported" stock,
which had been so much admired, and I selected from my best "Grey
Shanghae" chickens nine beautiful birds. They were placed in a very
handsome black-walnut-framed cage, and after having been duly lauded by
several first-rate notices in the Boston and New York papers, they were
duly shipped, through Edwards, Sanford & Co.'s Transatlantic Express,
across the big pond, addressed in purple and gold as follows:

     +-----------------------------------------------+
     |               TO H.M.G. MAJESTY,              |
     |                   Victoria,                   |
     |            QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN.            |
     |                                               |
     |    _To be Delivered at Zoological Gardens_,   |
     |                 LONDON, ENG.                  |
     |                                               |
     |  FROM GEO. P. BURNHAM, BOSTON, MASS., U.S.A.  |
     +-----------------------------------------------+

The fowls left me in December, 1852. The _London Illustrated News_ of
January 22d, 1853, contained the following article in reference to this
consignment:

     "By the last steamer from the United States, a cage of very choice
     domestic fowls was brought to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, a present
     from George P. Burnham, Esq., of Boston, Mass. The consignment
     embraced nine beautiful birds--two males and seven pullets, bred
     from stock imported by Mr. Burnham direct from China. The fowls are
     seven and eight months old, but are of mammoth proportions and
     exquisite plumage--light silvery-grey bodies, approaching white,
     delicately traced and pencilled with black upon the neck-hackles
     and tips of the wings and tails. The parent stock of these
     extraordinary fowls weigh at maturity upwards of twenty-three
     pounds per pair; while their form, notwithstanding this great
     weight, is unexceptionable. They possess all the rotundity and
     beauty of the Dorking fowl; and, at the same age, nearly double the
     weight of the latter. They are denominated Grey Shanghaes (in
     contradistinction to the Red or Yellow Shanghaes), and are
     considered in America the finest of all the great Chinese
     varieties. _That they are a distinct race, is evident from the
     accuracy with which they breed, and the very close similarity that
     is shown amongst them; the whole of these birds being almost
     precisely alike, in form, plumage and general characteristics._
     They are said to be the most prolific of all the Chinese fowls. At
     the time of their shipment, these birds weighed about twenty pounds
     the pair."

This was a very good _beginning_. In another place (see page 88) I have
given a copy of the letter from Hon. Col. Phipps, her Majesty's
Secretary of the Privy Purse, acknowledging the receipt of this present.
A few weeks afterward, the _London News_ contained a spirited original
picture of seven of the nine Grey Shanghae fowls which I had the honor
to forward to Queen Victoria. The drawing was made by permission of the
Queen, at the royal poultry-house, from life, by the celebrated _Weir_,
and the engraving was admirably executed by _Smythe_, of London. The
effect in the picture was capital, and the likenesses very truthful. In
reference to these birds, the _News_ has the following:

     "GREY SHANGHAE FOWLS FOR HER MAJESTY.--In the _London Illustrated
     News_ for January 22d, we described a cage of very choice domestic
     fowls, bred from stock imported by Mr. George P. Burnham, of
     Boston, Mass., direct from China, and presented by him to Her
     Majesty. We now engrave, by permission, these beautiful birds. They
     very closely resemble the breed of _Cochin-Chinas_ already
     introduced into this country, the head and neck being the same; the
     legs are yellow and feathered; the carriage very similar, but the
     tail being more upright than in the generality of Cochins. The
     color is creamy white, slightly splashed with light straw-color,
     with the exception of the tail, which is black, and the hackles,
     which are pencilled with black. The egg is the same color and form
     as that of the Cochins hitherto naturalized in this country. These
     fowls are very good layers, and have been supplying the royal table
     since their reception at the poultry-house, at Windsor."

All this "helped the cause along" amazingly. It proved a most excellent
mode of advertising my "superb," "magnificent," "splendid,"
"unsurpassable," "inapproachable" GREY SHANGHAES.

The above articles found their way (somehow or other) into the papers of
this country immediately; and, within sixty days afterwards, the price
of "Bother'ems" went up from $12 and $15 to $50, $75, $100, and $150,
the pair!!

"Cochin-Chinas" were now _no_whar! But _I_ was so as to be about yet.



CHAPTER XVI.

HEIGHT OF THE FEVER.


While this cage of Grey Shanghaes stood for an hour or two in the
express-office of Adams & Co., in Boston, a servant came from the Revere
House to inform me that "a gentleman desired to see me there, about some
poultry."

As I never had had occasion to run round much after my customers, and,
moreover, as I felt that the dignity of the business--(the _dignity_ of
the hen-trade!)--might possibly be compromised by my responding in
person to this summons, I directed the servant to "say to the gentleman,
if he wished to see me, that I should be at my office, No. 26
Washington-street, for a couple of hours,--after that, at my residence
in Melrose."

The man retired, and half an hour afterwards a carriage stopped before
my office-door. The gentleman was inside. He invited me to ride with
him--(I could afford to _ride_ with him)--to Adams & Co.'s office. He
had seen the "Grey Shanghaes" intended for the Queen there.

"I want that cage of fowls," he said.

"My dear sir," I replied, "they are going to England."

"I _want_ them. What will you take for them?"

"I can't sell them, sir."

"You can send others, you know."

"No, sir. I can't dispose of _these_, surely."

"Can you duplicate this lot?"

"Pretty nearly--perhaps not quite."

"I see," he continued. "I will give you two hundred dollars for them."

"No, sir."

"Three hundred--come!"

"I can't sell them."

"Will you take _four_ hundred dollars for the nine chickens, sir?" he
asked, drawing his pocket-book in presence of a dozen witnesses.

I declined, of course. I couldn't sell these identical fowls; for I had
an object in view, in sending them abroad, which appeared to me of more
consequence than the amount offered--a good deal.

"Will you _name_ a price for them?" insisted the stranger.

I said, "No, sir--excuse me. I would not take a thousand dollars for
these birds, I assure you. Their equals in quality and number do not
live, I think, to-day, in America!"

"I won't give a--a--thousand dollars, for them," he said, slowly. "No,
I won't give _that_!" and we parted. Yet, I have no doubt, had I
encouraged him with a prospect of his obtaining them at all, he _would_
have given me a thousand dollars for that very cage of fowls! To _this_
extent did the hen fever rage at that moment.

I subsequently sent this gentleman two trios of my grey chickens, for
which he paid me $200.

And now the Grey Shanghae trade commenced in _earnest_. Immediately
after the announcements were made (which I have quoted) orders poured in
upon me furiously from all quarters of this country, and from Great
Britain. Not a steamer left America for England, for months and months,
on board of which I did not send more or less of the "Grey Shanghaes."
From every State in the Union, my orders were large and numerous; and
letters like the following were received by me almost every day, for
months:

     "G.P. BURNHAM.

     "SIR: I have just seen the pair of superb Grey Shanghae fowls which
     you sent to Mr. ---- ----, of this city, and I want a pair like
     them. If you can send me _better_ ones, I am willing to pay higher
     for them. He informs me that your price per pair is forty dollars.
     I enclose you _fifty_ dollars; do the best you can for me, but
     forward them _at once_,--don't delay.

                                  "Yours, &c.,

                                                     "---- ---- ----."

I almost always had "_better_ ones." That was the kind I always kept
behind, or for my own use. I rarely sent away these better ones until
they cried for 'em! I always had a great _many_ of the "best" ones, too;
which were even better than those "better" ones for which the demand had
come to be so great!

Strange to say, everybody got to want _better_ ones, at last; and,
finally, I had none upon my premises but this very class of birds--to
wit, the "better ones." To be sure, I reserved a very _few_ pairs of the
_best_ ones, which could be obtained at a fair price; but these were the
ones that would "take down" the fanciers, occasionally, who wanted to
beat _me_ with them at the first show that came off. But I didn't sleep
much over this business. I always had one cock and three or four hens
that the boys didn't _see_--until we got upon the show-ground. Ha, ha!

A stranger called at my house, one Sunday morning, just as I was ready
with my family for church. He apologized for coming on that day, but
couldn't get away during the week. He had never seen the Grey
Shanghaes--didn't know what a Chinese fowl was--had no idea about them
at all. He wanted a few eggs--heard I had them--wouldn't stop but a
moment--saw that I was just going out, &c. &c. He sat down--was sorry to
trouble me--wouldn't do so again--would like just to take a peep at the
fowls--when, suddenly, as he sat with his back close to the open
window, my old crower sent forth one of those thundering, unearthly,
rolling, guttural shrieks, that, once heard, can never be forgotten!

The stranger leaped from his chair, and sprang over his hat, as he
yelled,

"Good God! what's _that_?"

His face was as white as his shirt-bosom.

"That's one of the Grey Shanghaes, crowing," I replied.

"_Crow!_ I beg your pardon," he said; "I don't want any eggs--no! I'll
leave it to another time. I--a--I couldn't take 'em now; won't detain
you--good-morning, sir," he continued; and, rushing out of my front
door, he disappeared on "a dead run," as fast as his legs could carry
him. And I don't know but he is running yet. He was desperately alarmed,
surely!

[Illustration: "I DON'T WANT ANY EGGS--NO!"--(See page 109.)]

I was so amused at this incident, that I was in a precious poor mood to
attend church that morning. And when my friend the minister arose at
length, and announced for his text that "the wicked flee when no man
pursueth," those words capped the climax for me.

I jammed my handkerchief into my mouth, until I was nearly suffocated,
as I thought of that wicked fellow who had just been so frightened while
in the act of attempting to bargain for fancy hen's eggs on the Sabbath!

A Western paper, in alluding to the fever, about this period, observed
that "this modern epidemic has shown itself in our vicinity within a
short time, and is characterized by all the peculiarities which have
marked its ravages elsewhere. Some of our most valuable citizens are now
suffering from its attacks, and there is no little anxiety felt for
their recovery. The morning slumbers of our neighbors are interrupted by
the sonorous and deep-toned notes of our Shanghae Chanticleer, and
various have been the inquiries as to how he took '_cold_,' and what we
gave him for it. 'Chittagongs' and 'Burma Porters' are now as learnedly
discussed as 'Fancy Stocks' on change.

The N.Y. _Scientific American_ stated, at this time, that the
"Cochin-China fowl fever was then as strong in England as in some parts
of New England,--in fact, stronger. One pair exhibited there was valued
at $700. What a sum for a hen and rooster! The common price of a pair is
$100," added this journal; and still the trade continued excellent with
me.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVII.

RUNNING IT INTO THE GROUND.


There now seemed to be no limit whatever to the _prices_ that fanciers
would pay for what were deemed the best samples of fowls. For my own
part, from the very commencement I had been considerate and merciful in
_my_ charges. True, I had been taken down handsomely by a Briton (in my
original purchase of Cochin-Chinas), but I did not retaliate. I was
content with a fair remuneration; _my_ object, principally, was to
disseminate good stock among "the people," for I was a democrat, and
loved the dear people.

So I charged lightly for my "magnificent" samples, while other persons
were selling second and third rate stock for five or even six and eight
dollars a pair. The "Grey Shanghaes" had got to be a "fixed fact" in
England, as well as in this country, and still I was flooded with orders
continually.

I obtained $25, $50, $100 a pair, for mine; and one gentleman, who
ordered four greys, soon after the Queen's stock reached England, paid
me _sixty guineas_ for them--$150 a pair. But these were of the _better_
class of birds to which I have alluded.

In 1852 a Boston agricultural journal stated that "within three months
extra samples of two-year-old fowls, of the large Chinese varieties,
have been sold in Massachusetts at $100 the pair. Several pairs, within
our own knowledge, have commanded $50 a pair, within the past six
months. Last week we saw a trio of White Shanghaes sold in Boston for
$45. And the best specimens of Shanghaes and Cochin-China fowls now
bring $20 to $25 a pair, readily, to purchasers at the South and West."

Now, these prices may be looked upon by the uninitiated as
extraordinary. So they were for this country. But at a Birmingham (Eng.)
show, in the fall of 1852, a single pair of "Seabright Bantams," very
small and finely plumed, sold for $125; a fine "Cochin-China" cock and
two hens, for $75; and a brace of "White Dorkings," at $40. An English
breeder went to London, from over a hundred miles distant, for the sole
purpose of procuring a setting of Black Spanish eggs, and paid one
dollar for each egg. Another farmer there sent a long distance for the
best Cochin-China eggs, and paid one dollar and fifty cents _each_ for
them, at this time!

This was keeping up the rates with a vengeance, and beat us Yankees, out
and out. But later accounts from across the water showed that this was
only a beginning, even. In the winter of 1852 the _Cottage Gardener_
stated that "within the last few weeks a gentleman near London sold a
pair of Cochin-China fowls for 30 guineas ($150), and another pair for
32 guineas ($160). He has been offered £20 for a single hen; has sold
numerous eggs at 1 guinea ($5) each, and has been paid down for chickens
just hatched 12 guineas ($60) the half-dozen, to be delivered at a month
old. One amateur alone had paid upwards of £100 for stock birds."

To this paragraph in the _Gardener_ the _Bury and Norwich Post_ added
the following: "In our own neighborhood, during the past week, we happen
to know that a cock and two hens (Cochin-Chinas) have been sold for 32
guineas, or $160. The fact is, choice birds, well bred, of good size and
handsome plumage, are now bringing very high prices, everywhere; and the
demand (in our own experience) has never been so great as at the present
time."

In this way the fever raved and raged for a long year or more. Shows
were being held all over this country, as well as in every principal
city and town in England. Everybody bought fowls, and everybody had to
pay for them, too, in 1852 and 1853!

In a notice of one of the English shows in that year (1853), a paper
says: "There is a pen of three geese weighing forty-eight pounds; and
among the _Cochin-China_ birds are to be found hens which, in the period
that forms the usual boundary of chicken life, have attained a weight of
seven or eight pounds. Of the value of these birds it is difficult to
speak without calling forth expressions of incredulity. It is evident
that there is a desperate _mania_ in bird-fancying, as in other things.
Thus, for example, there is a single fowl to which is affixed the
enormous money value of 30 _guineas_; two Cochin-China birds are
estimated at 25 _guineas_; and four other birds, of the same breed, a
cock and three hens, are rated in the aggregate at 60 _guineas_,--a
price which the owner confidently expects them to realize at the
auction-sale on Thursday. A further illustration of this ornithological
enthusiasm is to be found in the fact that, at a sale on Wednesday last,
one hundred and two lots, comprising one hundred and ten Cochin-China
birds, all belonging to one lady, realized £369. 4s. 6d.; the highest
price realized for a single one being 20 guineas."

Another British journal stated, a short time previously, that "a
circumstance occurred which proves that the Cochin-China mania has by no
means diminished in intensity. The last annual sale of the stock of Mr.
Sturgeon, of Greys, has taken place at the Baker-street Bazaar. The two
hundred birds there disposed of could not have realized a less sum than
nearly £700 (or $3500), some of the single specimens being knocked down
at more than £12, and very many producing £4, £5, and £6 each."

The attention, at this sale, devoted to the pedigree of the birds, was
amusing to a mere observer; one fowl would be described as a cockerel by
_Patriarch_, another as a pullet by _Jerry_, whilst a third was
recommended as being the off-spring of _Sam_. Had the sale been one of
horses, more care could hardly have been taken in describing their
pedigrees or their qualifications. Many were praised by the auctioneer
as being particularly _clever_ birds, although in what their cleverness
consisted did not appear. The fancy had evidently extended to _all_
ranks in society. The peerage sent its representatives, who bought what
they wanted, regardless of price. Nor was the lower house without its
delegates; a well-known metropolitan ex-member seems to have changed his
constituency of voters for one of Cochins; and we can only hope that it
may not be his duty to hold an inquest on any that perish by a violent
or unnatural death. The sums obtained for these birds depended on their
being in strict accordance with the then taste of the fancy. They were
magnificent in size, docile in behavior, intelligent in expression, and
most of them were very finely bred.

And while the hen fever was thus at its height, almost, in England, we
were following close upon the footsteps of John Bull in the United
States. At the Boston Fowl Show in 1852, three Cochin-Chinas were sold
at $100; a pair of Grey Chittagongs, at $50; two Canton Chinese fowls,
at $80; three Grey Shanghae chicks, at $75; three White Shanghaes, at
$65; six White Shanghae chickens, $40 to $45, etc.; and these prices,
for similar samples, could have been obtained again and again.

At this time there was found an ambitious individual, occasionally, who
got "ahead of his time," and whose laudable efforts to outstrip his
neighbors were only checked by the natural results of his own superior
"progressive" notions. A case in point:

"Way down in Lou'siana," for instance, a correspondent of mine stated
that there lived one of these go-ahead fellows, who had been afflicted
with a serious attack of hen fever, and who was not content with the
ordinary speed and prolificness in breeding of the noted Shanghae fowls.
He desired to possess himself of the biggest kind of a pile of chickens
for the rapidly augmenting trade; and so he had constructed an
Incubator, of moderate dimensions, into which he carefully stowed only
three hundred nice fresh eggs, from his fancy fowls.

The secret of his plan to "astonish the boys" was limited to the
knowledge of only two or three friends; and--thermometer in hand--he
commenced operations. With close assiduity and Job-like patience, our
amateur applied himself to his three weeks' task, by day and night, and
at the end of fifteen days, one egg was broken, and Mr. Shanghae was
_thar_,--alive and kicking, but as yet immature.

The neighborhood was in the greatest excitement at this prospect of
success. Our friend commenced to crow (slightly), and, to hasten
matters, put on, a _leetle_ more steam at a venture. The twenty-second
day arrived, and the "boys" assembled to witness the _entrée_ of three
hundred steam-hatched Shanghaes into this breathing world. Our amateur
was full of expectation and "fever." One egg was broken; another, and
then another; when, upon inspection, the entire mass was found to have
been _thoroughly boiled_!

A desperate guffaw was heard as our amateur friend disappeared, and his
only query since has been to ascertain what actual time is required to
boil a certain quantity of eggs at a given heat, and the smallest
probable cost thereof! As far as heard from, the reply has been, say six
gallons of good alcohol, at one dollar per gallon, for three hundred
eggs; time (night and day), twenty-two days and seven hours; and the
product it is generally thought would make capital fodder for young
turkeys,--provided said eggs are not boiled _too hard_!

On the subject of the _diseases_ of poultry many learned and sapient
dissertations appeared about these days. In one agricultural journal we
remember to have met with the following scientific prescription. The
learned writer is talking about _roup_ in fowls, and says:

"This is probably a chronic condition, the result of frequent colds.
Give the following medicines: _Aconite_, if there is fever,
_hepar-suliphuris third trituration_, or mercury, _third trituration_,
for a day or two, once in three or four hours; then _pulsatilla
tincture_ for the eyes; _antimonium_, third trituration or _arsenic_, or
_nux vomica_, for the crop."

Isn't this _clear_, reader? How many poultry-raisers in the United
States are there who would be likely to comprehend one line of this
stuff? We advise this writer to try again; the above is an "elegant
extract," verily!

We now come down to the fourth and last exhibition in Boston of the
Mutual Admiration Society, _alias_ the Association with the long-winded
cognomen, which took place in September, 1852.



CHAPTER XVIII.

ONE OF THE FINAL KICKS.


I was chosen by somebody (who will here permit me to present them my
thanks for the honor) as one of the judges to decide upon the merits of
the birds then to be exhibited: and my colleagues on this Committee were
Dr. J.C. Bennett, and Messrs. Andrews, Balch and Fussell.

On the morning of the opening of this show the names of the judges were
first announced to the contributors. Immediately there followed a
"hullabaloo" that would have done credit to any bedlam, ancient or
modern, ever heard or dreamed of. The lead in this burst of rebellion
amongst the hitherto "faithful" was taken by one prominent member, who
announced publicly, then and there, that the selection of the judges was
an infamous imposition. They were incompetent, dishonest, prejudiced,
calculating, speculative, ambitious competitors. Moreover, that it had
all been "contrived by that damned Burnham, who would rob a church-yard,
or steal the cents off the eyes of his dead uncle, any time, for the
price of a hen."

These were the gentleman's own expressive words. He added that he could
stand anything in the hen-trade but _this_. This, however, he would
_not_ submit to. Burnham should be kicked out of that Committee, or he
would kick himself out of his boots, and the Society's traces also;--a
threat which did not seem to alarm or disturb anybody, "as I knows on,"
except this same tall, stout, athletic, brave, honorable, honest,
truthful, smart, gentlemanly member of this Mutual Admiration Society!

Now, it was very well known, at this time, that the Committee of Judges
had been chosen entirely without their own knowledge. So far as I was
myself concerned, I should greatly have preferred at that time to have
remained an outsider, because it would have then been quite as well for
me to have contributed to the exhibition, where, with the "splendid
specimens" I then possessed of the Cochin-China and Shanghae varieties
of fowl, I could have knocked all the others "higher than a fence" in
_that_ show, as I had done in all the previous exhibitions where I had
ever competed with the boys.

But the same power which had formed the Committee of Judges also
provided that they must not be competitors. Thus, three or four of those
persons who had at the previous exhibitions of this Society been the
most extensive contributors,--men who had bred by far the largest
assortments and quantities of good fowls up to this period, and who had
till now paid ten or twenty dollars for one (compared with any other of
the members) toward the good of the association, and in the furtherance
of its objects,--_these_ men were made the judges, and were cut off as
contributors. I was satisfied, however, because I saw that the framing
of the _Report_ of this show would fall to my lot again; and I had no
doubt that, under these circumstances, I could afford to be "persecuted"
for the time being.

It is not in my nature to harm anybody; and those who are personally
acquainted with me, know that I am _constitutionally_ of a calm,
retiring, meek, religious turn of mind. My aim in life is to "do unto
others as I would have others do unto me." I "love my neighbor" (if he
doesn't permit his hens to get into my garden) "as myself." And, "if a
man smite me upon one cheek, I turn to him the other also," immediately,
if not sooner. I never retaliate upon an enemy or an opponent--until I
make _sure that I have him where the hair is short_.

I once knew of an extraordinary instance of patience that taught me a
powerful lesson in submissiveness. It occurred in a Western court, where
the judge (a most exemplary man, I remember) sat for two mortal days
quietly listening to the arguments of a couple of contending lawyers in
reference to the construction they desired him to assume in regard to a
certain act of the Legislature of that State. When the two legal
gentlemen had "thrown themselves," in this long and wearying debate, for
forty-eight hours, his Honor cut off the controversy by remarking, very
quietly,

"Gentlemen, this law that you have been speaking of _has been
repealed_!"

I thought of this circumstance, and I permitted the hen-men to gas, to
their hearts' content. When they got through with their anathemas, their
spleen, and their stupidity, I informed them that the "Committee" had
unanimously left to _my_ charge _the writing of the Report of that
Exhibition_.

From that moment, up to the hour when the Report was published, I never
suspected (before) that I had so many _friends_ in this world!

The fear that seemed to pervade every mind present was, that _I_ should
probably do precisely what _they_ would have done under similar
circumstances,--to wit, take care of myself.

I had no fowls in this exhibition; but there were present numerous
specimens bred from my stock, that were very choice (so every one said),
and which commanded the highest prices during the show.

There were several _Southern_ gentlemen present, who bought (and paid
roundly for them, too) some of the best fancy-birds on sale. It was
astonishing how much some of those buyers did know about the different
breeds of Chinese fowls there! Yes, it certainly was astounding! I think
I _never_ saw before so much real, downright _bona fide_ knowledge of
henology displayed as was shown by one or two Southern gentlemen, then
and there;--never, in the whole course of my experience!

By reference to the next chapter, it will be seen how shamefully I
neglected my own interests, and how self-sacrificing I was in the report
of the Society's last kick, which, as I have already hinted, the
Committee left to _my_ charge to prepare.

I had no disposition (in the preparation of this document) to underrate
the stock of any one else, _provided_ it did not interfere with me! And,
after carefully noting down whatever seemed of importance to my
well-being there, I sat myself down to oblige the Committee by writing
the "Report" of this show, which an ill-natured competitor subsequently
declared was "only in favor of Burnham and his stock, all over,
underneath, in the middle, outside, overhead, on top, on all sides, and
at both ends!"

And _I believe he was right_!



CHAPTER XIX.

THE FOURTH FOWL-SHOW IN BOSTON.


This show (in September, 1852) was the fifth exhibition held in Boston,
but the _fourth_ only of the Society with the long name.

The Report commences with a congratulation (as usual) that the
association still lives, and has a being; and, after alluding to the
general state of the affairs of the concern,--without touching upon its
financial condition,--it thus proceeds:

"Your Committee would call your attention to the fact that among the
numerous fowls exhibited this season,--as upon former occasions,--a very
unnecessary practice seems to have obtained, in the mis-_naming_ of
varieties. Crossbred fowls have been called by original cognomens,
unknown to practical breeders; and a host of birds well known to the
Committee, as well as to poulterers generally, have been denominated by
any other than their _real_ and universally conceded ornithological
titles. This savors of bad taste; it leads to ridicule among strangers
who visit our shows from abroad; and should not be sanctioned by your
Society. Errors may creep in among your transactions, in this
particular, and many honest, careful breeders may be deceived; but the
multiplying of _unpronounceable and meaningless names_ for domestic
fowls is entirely uncalled for; and your committee recommend a close
adherence, hereafter, to recognized titles only.

"In this connection, it may be proper to allude to a case in point. The
largest and unquestionably one of the finest varieties of domestic fowls
ever shown among us was entered by the breeders of this variety as the
'Chittagong;' other coops of the same stock were labelled 'Grey
Chittagongs;' others were called 'Bramah Pootras;' and others, 'Grey
Shanghae' and 'Malays.'

"Your Committee are divided in opinion as to what these birds ought,
rightfully, to be called,--though the majority of the Committee have no
idea that 'Bramah Pootra' is their correct title. That they are not
'Malays' is also quite as clear. Several of the specimens are positively
known to have come direct from Shanghae; and _none_ are known to have
come originally from anywhere else. Nevertheless, it has been thought
proper to leave this question open, for the present; and the Committee,
believing that this fowl originates in and hails directly from the East,
are content to accept for them the title of 'Grey Shanghae,'
'Chittagong,' or 'Bramah Pootra,' as different breeders may
elect,--admitting, at the same time, that they are really a very
superior bird, and believing that if carefully bred they may be found
decidedly the most valuable among all the large _Chinese_ breeds, of
which they are clearly a good variety."

       *       *       *       *       *

"A large sum of money was expended at this exhibition, by visitors,
amateurs and breeders,--one gentleman investing upwards of $700 in
choice fowls; another, from the South, purchasing to the amount of $350
for extra samples; another bought $200 worth, etc. The highest figures
ever yet paid on this side of the Atlantic (for individual purchases)
were realized at this show.

"Samples of the China stock originally imported from Shanghae were very
plentiful on this occasion, and the high reputation of this blood was
fully sustained in the specimens exhibited. Very superior fowls, bred
from G.P. Burnham's importations of Cochin-Chinas, were also numerous,
and were sold, in four or five instances, at the very _highest_ prices
paid for any samples that were disposed of."

Among the premiums awarded to the _Chinese_ fowls by this "Committee,"
were the following:

"CHINA FOWLS.--To H.H. Williams, best cock and two hens (of Burnham's
_Canton_ importation), $5. To C. Sampson, West Roxbury, best cock and
single hen (Burnham's _Canton_ importation), $3. To H.H. Williams,
third prize, for same stock, $2. To C.C. Plaisted, Great Falls, N.H.,
the Committee awarded a first prize, $5, for what he called
'_Hong-Kong_' fowls; these were of Burnham's _Canton_ stock, also. To A.
White, E. Randolph, for six best chickens (Burnham's importation), $2.

"COCHIN-CHINA.--To H.H. Williams, West Roxbury, best cock and two hens
(splendid samples, of extraordinary size and beauty), first prize, $5.
To A. White, E. Randolph, best cock and single hen (of Burnham's
importation), $3. To A. White, for six best chickens (Burnham's
importation), $2."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Committee then allude to the _prices_ which were paid there for
fowls, "_not because they advocate the propriety of keeping them up_"
(O, no!), "but rather to show that the welfare of the Association is by
no means derogating.

"The three prize _Cochin-China_ fowls were sold for $100. The two prize
_Grey Shanghaes_, or 'Bramah Pootras,' were sold for $50. Three chickens
of the same, at $50. A pair of Burnham's importation of _Cochins_, at
$80; another pair, at $40; another trio (chickens), at $40. Six Black
Spanish chickens (Child's), at $50. Six _White Shanghae_ chickens
(Wight's), at $45. Three hens, of same stock, at $50--and several pairs
and trios of other varieties, at from $25 each, to $25 and $30 to $40
the lot."

       *       *       *       *       *

At a subsequent meeting of the Trustees, Mr. George P. Burnham, on the
part of the Judges at the late exhibition of the Society, presented
their _Report_, whereupon it was

"_Voted_, That the Report of the Judges on the recent show of poultry in
the Public Garden be accepted."

And this was the end of _that_ ball of worsted! I rather have the
impression, now,--as nearly as I can recollect (though my memory is
somewhat treacherous in these matters), but I _think_ I sold a few
fowls, just after that fair. "I may be mistaken,--but that is my
opinion!"

The Report was duly accepted, in form, and I had the satisfaction of
seeing my "extraordinary" and "superb" stock again lauded to the very
echo, at the expense of the old-fogyism of the "Mutual Admiration
Society."

The consequence was a renewed activity in my sales, which continued
delightfully lively and correspondingly remunerative for several months
after _this_ exhibition, also, where I did not enter the first fowl!



CHAPTER XX.

PRESENT TO QUEEN VICTORIA.


I have already alluded to the fine Grey Shanghaes which I forwarded to
Her Majesty the Queen. In relation to this circumstance the Boston
papers contained the following announcement, in the month of April,
1853; a circumstance which did not greatly retard the prospects of my
business either on this or on the other side of the water! The
compliment thus paid me by Royalty was duly appreciated, and its
delicacy will be apparent to the reader. This picture is the only one of
its _kind_ ever sent to an American citizen.

"A COMPLIMENT FROM VICTORIA.--Some weeks ago, Mr. George P. Burnham, of
Boston, forwarded to Her Majesty Queen Victoria a present of some _Grey
Shanghae_ fowls, which have been greatly admired in England. By the last
steamer Mr. Burnham received the following letter from Her Majesty's
Secretary of the Privy Purse, accompanying a fine portrait of the Queen,
sent over to Mr. B.:

                            THE QUEEN'S LETTER.

                                                 { "Buckingham Palace,
                                                 {     March 15, 1853.

     "Dear Sir: I have received the commands of Her Majesty the Queen,
     to assure you of Her Majesty's high appreciation for the kind
     motives which prompted you to forward for her acceptance the
     magnificent 'Grey Shanghae' fowls which have been so much admired
     at Her Majesty's aviary at Windsor.

     "Her Majesty has accepted, with great pleasure, such a mark of
     respect and regard, from a citizen of the United States.

     "I have, by Her Majesty's command, shipped in the 'George Carl,' to
     your address, a case containing a portrait of Her Majesty,[10] of
     which the Queen has directed me to request your acceptance.

                            "I have the honor to be,

                                  "Sir, your ob't and humble servant,

                                                         "C.B. Phipps.

       "To Geo. P. Burnham, Esq.,
             Boston, U.S.A."

I caused a copy to be taken from this portrait of the Queen, and have
had it engraved for this book; it appears as the frontispiece.

Immediately after this paragraph appeared, a new zest appeared to have
been given to the Grey Shanghae trade. Orders came from Canada and from
Nova Scotia to a very considerable amount; and during this season my
sales were again very large. During the year 1853, I started and raised
over sixteen hundred chickens of all kinds; but this did not supply my
orders. I bought largely, and paid high prices, too, generally. But few
persons were now doing any business in the fowl-trade, except myself,
however.

The _N.Y. Spirit of the Times_ published portraits of the birds sent to
the Queen, and remarked that "the engraving represented six of the nine
beautiful _Grey Shanghae_ fowls lately presented to Her Majesty
_Victoria_, Queen of Great Britain, by _George P. Burnham_, Esq., of
Boston, Mass.

"These birds were forwarded by one of the last month's Collins steamers,
in charge of Adams & Co.'s Express, and passed through this city on the
24th ult. Their extraordinary size and fine plumage were the admiration
of all who examined them. The picture is from life, engraved by Brown,
and is a faithful representation of the birds, which are very closely
bred.

"The color of this variety of the China fowl is a light silver-grey,
approximating to white; the body is a light downy white, sparsely
spotted and pencilled with metallic black in the tail and wing tips; the
legs are feathered to the toes, and the form is unexceptionable for a
large fowl; this variety having proved the biggest of all the
'Shanghaes' yet imported into this State.

"The two cocks above delineated weighed between ten and eleven pounds
each at six months old; the pullets drew seven and a half to nine pounds
each at seven to eight months old; the original imported pair of _old_
ones now weigh upwards of twenty-three pounds, together. In the existing
rage for weighty birds, this variety will naturally satisfy the ambition
of those who go for the 'biggest kind' of fowls!

"The group represents this variety with accuracy, and are, without
doubt, for their kind, rare specimens of the genuine _gallus giganteus_
of modern ornithologists. As Her Majesty has long been known among the
foremost patrons of that agreeable branch of rural pursuits,
poultry-raising, we do not doubt but that this splendid present from Mr.
Burnham will prove highly gratifying to her tastes in this particular."

Portraits of these fowls appeared in _Gleason's Pictorial_ for January,
1853, and the editor spoke as follows of them:

"The Grey Shanghae Fowls lately presented to Her Majesty Queen Victoria,
of Great Britain, by George P. Burnham, Esq., of Boston, were
extraordinary specimens of domestic poultry, and were bred the past
season by Mr. Burnham from stock imported by him direct from China. They
were universally admitted, by the thousands who saw them before they
left, to be the largest and choicest-bred lot of chickens ever seen
together in this vicinity. These fowls were from the same broods as
those lately sent to Northby, of Aldborough, by Mr. Burnham, who is,
perhaps, the most successful poultry-raiser in America; and while these
beautiful birds are creditable to him as a breeder, they are a present
really 'fit for a queen.'"

The New York journals alluded to them in flattering terms, during their
transit through that city on the way to their destination; and the
numerous orders that crowded in upon me was the best evidence of the
estimation in which this variety of domestic fowls was then held, as
well as of the determined disposition of "the people" to be supplied
from my "_pure_-bred stock."

By one of the British steamers, in the summer of 1853, the express of
Edwards, Sanford & Co., took out to Europe from my stock, for Messrs.
Bakers, of Chelsea, Baily, of London, Floyd, of Huddersfield, Deming, of
Brighton, Simons, of Birmingham, and Miss Watts, Hampstead, six cages of
these "extraordinary" birds. The best of the hens weighed nine to nine
and a half pounds each, and three of the cocks drew over twelve pounds
each! There were forty-two birds in all, which, together, could not be
equalled, probably, at that time, in America or England, for size,
beauty and uniformity of color. The sum paid me for this lot of Greys
was eight hundred and seventy dollars.

Of the three fowls sent to Mr. John Baily (above mentioned), and which
he exhibited in the fall of that year in England, the following account
reached me, subsequently:

"Mr. Geo. P. Burnham, of Melrose, sent out to England, last fall, to Mr.
John Baily, of London, a cage of his fine 'Grey Shanghaes,' which were
exhibited at the late Birmingham Show. The London _Field_ of Dec. 24th
says that '_one pair_ of these fowls, from Mr. Burnham, of the United
States, the property of Mr. Baily, of Mount-street, were shown among the
extra stock, and were purchased from him, during the exhibition, by Mr.
Taylor, of Shepherd's Bush, at one hundred guineas' ($500)!"

This was the biggest figure ever paid for _two_ fowls, I imagine! Mr.
Baily paid me twenty pounds sterling for the trio, and I thought that
fair pay, I remember. The following brief account of my trade for the
year of our Lord 1853, I published on the last day of December of that
year, for the gratification of my numerous friends, and for the
information of "the people" who felt an interest in this still exciting
and (to me) very agreeable subject:

     "EDS. BOSTON DAILY TIMES: In a late number of your journal you were
     pleased to allude to the sales of live-stock made by me latterly.
     At the close of the present year, I find upon my books the
     following aggregate of sales for 1853, which--to show how much
     has been done by _one_ dealer--may be interesting to some of your
     readers who 'love pigs and chickens.'

     "I have sent into the Southern and Western States, through Adams &
     Co.'s Express alone, from Jan. 1st to Dec. 27th, 1853, a little
     rising $17,000 worth of Chinese fowls and fancy pigs. By Edwards,
     Sanford & Co.'s Transatlantic Express, in the same period, I have
     sent to England and the continent about $2000 worth of my 'Grey
     Shanghaes.' By Thompson and Co. and the American Western Express
     Co., I have sent west and south-west, in the same time, over $1200
     worth; and my minor cash sales (directly at my yards in Melrose)
     have been over $1000; making the entire sales from my establishment
     for the past year nearly or quite _twenty-two thousand dollars_ in
     value. Of this amount, $7300 worth has been sold since the 10th of
     Sept last.

     "By the first steamer that leaves New York in January, '54, I shall
     send to New Orleans (to a single customer) between five and six
     hundred dollars' worth, ordered a few days since. I have also now
     in hand three large orders to fill for Liverpool and London,
     immediately; and the present prospect is that the poultry-trade
     will be considerably better next year than we have ever yet known
     it in New England. Wishing you and my competitors in the trade a
     'Happy New Year,' I am theirs and yours, truly,

                                                     "GEO. P. BURNHAM.

          "_Melrose, Dec. 30, 1853._"

I have offered these statistics and facts to give some idea of the
amount of trade that must have been current, in the _aggregate_, when
these isolated instances are considered, and for the purpose of
affording the reader an opportunity to judge measurably to what an
extent this _fever_ really raged.

Thousands and tens of thousands of "the people" were now (or had been)
engaged in this extraordinary excitement, who were continuously
humbugging themselves and each other, at round cost. And when these
thousands are multiplied by the fives or tens, twenties or fifties, one
hundreds or five hundreds of dollars, that they invested in this mania,
the "prime cost" of this hum can be fancied, though it can never be
known with accuracy.

[10] See Frontispiece.



CHAPTER XXI.

EXPERIMENTS OF AMATEURS.


The newspapers of the day were now occupied with speculative and actual
statistics, of various kinds, relating to the utility and value of
poultry and its produce, and every one seemed to join, in his or her
way, to magnify the vastness of this enterprise; and statements like the
following, in respectable public journals, had the effect to increase
and keep up to fever-heat the state of the hen malady:

"By reference to the agricultural statistics of the United States,
published from reliable sources in 1850, it may be seen that the actual
value of poultry, in New York State alone, was two millions three
hundred and seventy-three thousand and twenty-nine dollars! Which was
more than the value of _all the swine_ in the same state; nearly equal
to _one half the value of its sheep_, the _entire_ value of its _neat
cattle_, and nearly _five times_ the value of its _horses and mules_!"

The amount of sales of live and dead _poultry_ in Quincy Market, Boston,
for the year 1848, said another paper, was six hundred seventy-four
thousand four hundred and twenty-three dollars: the average sales of one
dealer alone amounting to twelve hundred dollars per week for the whole
year. The amount of sales for the whole city of Boston, for the same
year, was over one million of dollars. The amount of sales of _eggs_ in
and around the Quincy Market for 1848 was one million one hundred and
twenty-nine thousand seven hundred and thirty-five dozen, which, at
eighteen cents per dozen, makes the amount paid for eggs to be two
hundred three thousand three hundred and fifty-two dollars and thirty
cents; while the amount of sales of eggs for the whole city of Boston,
for the same year, was a fraction short of one million of dollars; the
daily consumption of eggs at one of its hotels being seventy-five dozen
daily, and on Saturday one hundred and fifty dozen.

At this time, a single dealer in the egg-trade, at Philadelphia, sent to
the New York market, daily, one hundred barrels of eggs; while the value
of eggs shipped from Dublin to Liverpool and London was more than five
millions of dollars for the year 1848.

In addition to these facts, frequent allusions were made to the enormous
quantities required for other markets, in the interior, to supply which
the number of laying hens must be kept good, and increased, as the
demand for the eggs was constantly augmenting, and the business, "if
skilfully and judiciously managed" (said the agricultural papers),
_must_ prove immensely profitable to those who engage in it.

If "skilfully and judiciously managed"! This was good advice. But no one
could inform "the people" how this management was to be effected. In the
mean time, every sort of experiment was resorted to, by amateurs and
fanciers and humbugs (who had been humbugged), to "improve" the breeds
of poultry, and to produce new fowls that would lay two or three or four
eggs for one, as compared with the old-fashioned birds.

We knew one beginner who had purchased a pretty little place a few miles
from the city, who contracted the fever, and "suffered" badly, but who
was cured by the following curious result of his early experiments. Eggs
were scarce (genuine ones), and, after considerable searching, he
finally procured of some one in Boston a clutch of "fancy" eggs, for
which he paid big figures, but which did not _turn out_ exactly what he
anticipated; and so _he_ concluded, after a time, that the hen fever was
a rascally hum. (He didn't procure these eggs of _me_, be it understood.
_I_ never had any but _genuine_ ones!)

He purchased what he was assured were pure "Cochin-China" eggs. (Perhaps
they were--who knows?) And after waiting patiently for six long weeks
for the "curious" eggs to hatch, he found six young _ducks_ in his coop,
one morning!--So much for his knowledge of eggs!

But this was not so bad as was the case of one of his neighbors,
however, who paid a round price for half a dozen choice eggs,
queer-looking speckled eggs--small, round, "outlandish" eggs--which he
felt certain would produce _rare_ chicks, and which he was very cautious
in setting under his very best hen.

At the end of a few days he was startled, at the breakfast-table, to
hear his favorite hen screaming "bloody murder" from within the coop! He
rushed to the rescue, raised the box-lid, and found her still on the
nest, but in a frightful perturbation--struggling, yelling and cackling,
most vociferously.

He spoke to her kindly and softly; he would fain, appease and quiet her;
for there was great danger lest, in her excitement and struggles, she
would destroy the favorite eggs--those rare eggs, which had cost him so
much money and trouble. But soft words were vain. His "best" hen
continued to scream lustily, and he raised her from the nest to look
into the cause of the trouble more critically. His astonishment was
instantaneous, but immense; and his surprise found vent in the brief but
expressive exclamation, "_Turkles--by thunder_!"

Such was the fact. This poor, innocent poultry-"fancier" was the victim
of misplaced confidence. The party who sold him _them_ eggs had sold the
buyer shockingly! And instead of a brood of pure Cochin-Chinas, he
found that his favorite hen had hatched half a dozen pure _mud-turtles_,
all of which, upon breaking from the shells, seized upon the flesh of
the poor fowl, and had well-nigh taken her life before they could be
"choked off." He has given up the chicken-trade, and has since gone into
the dwarf-pear business. Poor devil!

A youthful lawyer of my acquaintance, away Down East, who was proverbial
for his "sharp practice" at the bar, met with a young doctor, who was a
great bird-fancier, and with whom he subsequently formed an intimate
acquaintance. Our medicinal friend owned a pretty little estate; distant
a few miles from the city of P----, where he kept up a very neat
establishment, which was thoroughly appointed. Among his out-of-door
appurtenances, he maintained a modern bee-house, a choice dove-cot, and
a well-selected aviary; in the latter he had some choice poultry, and
into this the doctor invited his legal associate, one day, to examine
his specimens of cacklers and crowers.

There was a super-excellent "Bother'em" fowl among this collection,--a
rare hen, the many good qualities of which the doctor dilated on (as he
always did before his visitors), and the lawyer took a fancy to the
beauty, instanter; but this fowl was a great favorite, and the doctor
would neither sell, lend, or give her away; and then the visitor begged
some of her eggs, as a last favor. But the doctor was selfish in regard
to this particular bird--he wanted the breed exclusively to himself. It
was of no avail, however, and his friend promised to embrace the first
opportunity to steal the hen, and all the eggs he could find, if his
request were not complied with; whereupon the doctor at length
reluctantly promised to send him a dozen within a week, provided he said
nothing about it. He would do it for _him_, as a particular favor--and
so he was as good as his word.

The young lawyer had his poultry-yard, also; and, selecting a fine hen,
he quickly set her upon the choice Bother'em eggs, resolved to have as
good a show as his neighbor. But three weeks passed--four, and
upwards--but no chickens appeared! He broke up the nest, at last, and
then called upon the doctor at once.

"What luck, Tom?"

"Not a chick!"

"No!"

"Not a _one_. The eggs weren't good."

"No? That is queer," continued the doctor, "when I took so much extra
pains with 'em."

"Extra pains--how?"

"Why, _I boiled every one of 'em_, the last thing before I sent 'em down
to you!"

And so he did. Tom grinned, squirmed, and went home,--but that wasn't
the last of this joke.

Six months afterwards, the keen-witted doctor visited the lawyer's
little place, where he saw a magnificent large Bucks County rooster
stalking about in the latter's yard.

"By Jove, Tom! That's a rouser," exclaimed the doctor, enthusiastically,
"'pon my word! Where d'you get him?"

"Pennsylvania--Buxton's; a fine fellow that. Only eight months old."

"Will you sell him?"

"Yes--no; I reckon not, on the whole."

"I'll give you an X for him."

"Well, take him. He's worth twenty dollars; but you shall have him for
ten dollars, being an old friend."

The doctor placed the huge crower in his gig immediately, went home,
killed off two of the finest Dorking roosters in the county, and put the
new comer into his nice poultry-house; congratulating himself upon
having at last secured a "tip-top breeder," and nothing else.

At the end of the season, however, he complained to his friend the
lawyer that he had had but very few eggs latterly; he could raise no
chickens from them--not a _one_; and he didn't think much of the
ten-dollar bird he purchased of him, any way.

"He's a rouser, Bill, surely," said the lawyer, with a knowing smirk,
repeating the doctor's exclamation on first beholding the rooster.

"Well, yes--large, large--but--"

"And a finer _capon_ I never sold to anybody in my life!"

"A _what_!" screamed the doctor, springing towards his horse, which
stood near by.

"What's the price of _b'iled eggs_, Bill?" roared the lawyer, in reply.

"Ten dollars a dozen, by thunder!" was the answer, as the doctor drove
his rowels into the sides of his nag, and dashed away from his friend's
gate a _wiser_ if not a better man.

Many amateur poultry-raisers resorted to the most ridiculous and
injurious shifts for remedies against the ills that hen-flesh is heir
to. I have known certain friends who passed two or three hours every
morning in running about their fowl-premises with pill-box and
pepper-cup in hand, zealously dosing their drooping chickens, to their
certain destruction. And some of the "doctors" went into _jalap_, in
cases of colds, fevers, &c., in their fowls. We should as soon think of
using arsenic, or any other poison, under such circumstances. The
internal formation of a hen is scarcely believed to resemble that of a
human being, surely; and why such medicinal applications, pray? This
reminds us of a private joke, by the way, that was "let out" by a young
fancier (out West) a little while ago.

He had a bad cold himself, and had mixed "summat hot" to swallow, one
evening. His servant informed him that his favorite Cochin-China crower
had been ill for a day or two; and he ordered twenty grains of jalap to
be prepared for his fine bird. By some mistake his toddy was given to
the crower, and he swallowed the hen-medicine himself, and retired to
bed.

He slept soundly for a time, but was visited with shocking dreams. He
fancied himself to be a huge rooster--one of the biggest kind; that he
had taken all the premiums at all the shows, and that he had finally
been set to hatch over a bushel of Shanghae eggs. It was the twentieth
day, at last, and the chickens commenced to come forth from their shells
beneath him. He dare not move,--his fowl-cure was at work,--and his
critical position, for the time being, can be better imagined than
portrayed. With a desperate effort, and a shrieking crow, he at length
sprang from his couch, dashed out of doors, and, since the day
afterwards, has resolved to eschew the use of jalap among his
poultry,--a determination which, in all candor, we recommend earnestly
to the hen-Galens who imagine that a hen is "a human."

It had now become an every-day occurrence to hear of black chickens
emerging from what were "warranted" pure white fowls' eggs; top-knot
birds peeped forth from the eggs of pure-bred anti-crested hens; and all
colors and shapes and varieties of chickens, except those that they
were purchased for, made their appearance about the time of hatching the
eggs so bought.

All the old-fashioned fowls were utterly discarded. Cochin-Chinaism,
Shanghae-ism, Bother'em Pootrumism, was rampant. The fancy egg-trade had
begun to fall off sensibly. "The people" had had enough of _this_ part
of the enterprise, which was destined to prove so "immensely
profitable," if "judiciously and skilfully managed;" and the price was
reduced to the miserable sum of three to five dollars a dozen, only, as
customers chanced to turn up.

From the commencement of the trade, in 1849, down to the month of
August, 1853, I had a continued and certain sale, however, for every egg
deposited upon my premises, at _my_ price.

But this, though an exception, was not to be wondered at. _I_ kept and
raised only the "genuine" article.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XXII.

TRUE HISTORY OF "FANNY FERN."


I was riding through Brookline, Mass., one fine afternoon, on my
round-about way home from a fowl-hunting excursion in Norfolk County,
when my attention was suddenly attracted by the appearance and carriage
of the most extraordinary-looking bird I ever met with in the whole
course of my poultry experience.

I drew up my horse, and watched this curiosity for a few minutes, with a
fowl-admirer's wonder. It was evidently a _hen_, though the variety was
new to me, and its deportment was very remarkable. Her plumage was a
shiny coal-black, and she loitered upon a bright-green bank in the
sunshine, at the southerly side of a pretty house that stood a few yards
back from the road. She was rather long-legged, and "spindle-shanked,"
but she moved about skippingly and briskly, as if she were treading upon
thin egg-shells. Her feet were very delicate and very narrow, and her
body was thin and trim; but her plumage--that glossy, jet-black,
brilliant feathery habit--was "too much" for my then excited "fancy"
for beautiful birds; and I thought I had never seen a tip-top fowl
before.

As I gazed and wondered, this bird observed me coquettishly, and,
raising herself slightly a tip-toe, she flapped her bright wings
ludicrously, opened her pretty mouth, and sent forth a _crow_ so clear
and sharp, and so utterly defiant and plucky, that I laughed outright in
her face. I did. I couldn't help it.

She noticed my merriment, and instantly flap went those glittering wings
again, and another shout--a very shriek of a crow, a termagant yell of a
crow--rang forth piercingly from the lungs of my sable but beautiful
inamorata.

This second crow was full of fire, and daring, and challenge, and
percussion. It seemed to say, as plainly as words could have uttered it,
"Who are _you_? What you after? Wouldn't you like to cage _me_
up--_s-a-y_?"

I laughed again, wondered more, stared, and shouted "Bravo! Milady, you
_are_ a rum 'un, to be sure!" And again she hopped up and crowed
bravely, sharply, maliciously, wildly, marvellously.

I was puzzled. I had heard of such animals before. I had read in the
newspapers about Woman's Rights conventions. I had seen it stated that
hens occasionally were found that "crowed like a cock." But I had never
seen one before. This _was_ an extraordinary bird, evidently.

There it went again! That same shrill; crashing, challenging crow, from
the gullet of the ebon beauty before me. O, _what_ a crow was that, my
countrymen! I resolved to possess this bird, at any cost. And I was soon
in communication with the gentleman who then had her.

"Is this _your_ hen, sir?" I inquired. And I think the gentleman
suspected me, instanter.

"Yes," he answered. "That is, I support her."

"Will you sell her?"

"No--no, sir."

"I will give you ten dollars for her."

Crack! Crash! Whew! went that crow, again. I was electrified.

"I'll give you fifteen----"

"No, sir."

"Twenty dollars, then."

"No."

"What will you take for her?"

"Hark!" he replied. "Isn't that music? Isn't that heavenly?"

"What _is_ that?" I asked, eagerly.

"My hen."

"What is she doing?"

"Singing," said the gentleman.

"Beautiful!" I responded. "I will give you forty dollars for her."

"Take her," replied her keeper. "She is yours."

"What breed is it?" I inquired.

"Spanker," said the gentleman, "but rare. It is one of Ellett's
importation--genuine."

"Remarkable pullet!" I ventured.

"Hen, sir, _hen_," insisted the stranger.

I paid him forty dollars down, and seized my prize, though she proved
hard to catch.

"She's much like the Frenchman's flea, sir," said her previous
possessor. "Put your finger on her, and she's never there. Feed her
well, however, keep her in good quarters, let her do as she pleases, and
she'll always crow--always, sir. Hear _that_? You can't stop her, unless
you stop her breath. She always crows and sings. There it is again!
Isn't that a crow, for a hen--eh?"

It was, indeed.

"Good-day," said the Brookline gentleman, quietly pocketing his money.
"Fanny will please you, I've no doubt."

"Fanny?" I queried.

"Yes; I call her '_Fanny Fern_,'" said the stranger to me, as I entered
my wagon; and, half an hour afterwards, my forty-dollar cock-hen, "Fanny
Fern," was crowing again furiously, lustily, magnificently, on the
bright-green lawn beneath my own parlor-windows.

"Fanny" proved a thorough trump. Bantams, Games, Cochins, Dorkings,
Shanghaes, Bother'ems, were _no_where when "Fanny" was round. She could
outcrow the lustiest feathered orchestra ever collected together in
Christendom. She was a wonder, that redoubtable but frisky, flashy,
sprightly, sputtery, spunky "Fanny Fern."

And didn't the boys run after her? Well, they did! And didn't they want
to buy her? Didn't they bid high for her, at last? Didn't everybody
flock to see her, and to hear "Fanny" crow? And _didn't_ she continue to
crow, too? Ah! it was heaven, indeed (and sometimes the other thing), to
listen to "Fanny's" voice.

When "Fanny" opened her mouth, everybody held their breath and listened.
"Fanny" crowed to some purpose, verily! She crowed lustily against
oppression, and vice, and wrong, and injustice; and she crowed aloud
(with her best strength) in behalf of injured innocence, and virtue, and
merit, exalted or humble.

And, finally, "Fanny" hatched a brace of chickens; and _didn't_ she crow
for and over _them_? She now cackled and scratched, and crowed harder
and louder and shriller than ever. The people stopped in the street to
listen to her; old men heard her; young men sought after her; all the
women began to "swear" by her; the children thronged to see her; the
newspapers all talked about her; and thousands of books were printed
about my charming, astonishing, remarkable, crowing "Fanny Fern."

I sent her to the fowl-shows, where she "took 'em all down" clean, and
invariably carried away the first premium in her class. Never was such a
hen seen, before or since. I was offered a hundred, two hundred, five
hundred dollars for her. I was poor; but didn't I own this hen
"Fanny,"--the extraordinary, wonderful, magnificent, coal-black,
blustering, but inapproachable and world-defying "Fanny"?

"I will give you _eight_ hundred dollars for her," said a publisher to
me, one day. "I want to put her in a book. She's a wonder! a star of the
first magnitude! a diamond without blemish! a God-send to the world in
1854!"

At this moment "Fanny" crowed.

"Will you take eight hundred?" screamed the publisher, jumping nearly to
the ceiling.

"No, sir."

"A thousand?"

"No."

"Two thousand?"

"No, sir."

"_Five_ thousand?"

"No! I will keep her."

And I did. What was five thousand dollars to me? _Bah!_ I had the
hen-cock "Fanny Fern." I didn't want money. My pocket-book was full to
bursting, and so was my head with the excitement of the hen fever. And
"Fanny" crowed again. Ah! _what_ a crow was Fanny's!

"Fanny" couldn't be bought, and so my competitors clanned together to
destroy her. The old fogies didn't like this breed, and they resolved to
annihilate all chance of its perpetuation. I placed her in better
quarters, where she would be more secure from intrusion or surprise. I
told her of my fears,--and _didn't_ she crow? She flapped her bright
black wings, and crowed all over. "Cock-a-doodle-_doo--oo--oo_!" shouted
"Fanny," while her sharp eyes twinkled, her fair throat trembled, and
the exhilarating tone of defiance seemed to reach to the very tips of
her shining toe-nails. "Cock-a-too--_roo--oo_!" she shrieked; "let 'em
come, too! See what they'll _do--oo_! I'll take care of _you--oo_! Don't
get in a _stoo--oo_! Pooh--pooh--poo--_poo_!"

Maybe "Fanny" didn't crow! And _I_ learned to crow. It was beautiful!
She crowed, and I crowed. We crowed together. She in her way,--I in
mine. The duet was mellifluous, cheering, soul-stirring,
life-invigorating, _profitable_.

"Fanny" went into New York State, crowing when she left, crowing as she
went, and continuing to crow until she crowed the community there clear
through the next fourth o' July, out into the fabled millennium. She
crowed Messrs. Derby & Miller into a handsome fortune, and Mason &
Brothers into ditto. She crowed one Hyacinth into the shreds of a cocked
hat and battered knee-buckles. She crowed the Hall breed of old hens so
far out of sight that the "search for Sir John Franklin" would be a fool
to the journey requisite to overtake that family. And still she
_crowed_.

The more they bade her stop, the more she wouldn't.
"Cock-a-tootle--_too_!" "I-know-what-_I_-shall--_doo_!"
"What-do-I-care-for--_yoo_?" "This-world-is-all--foo--_foo_."
"Leave-_me_-and-I'll-leave--_you_." "If-not-I'll-lamm--_you_--TOO--OO!"

And "Fanny" crowed herself at last into the good graces of two _long
brothers_ in Gotham, where she is now crowing with all her might and
main. Let her crow!

She was a remarkable "bird," that rollicking, joyous, inexplicable,
flirting, funny, furious "Fanny Fern." I hear her now again!

"COCK-A-DOODLE--DOO--OO!" "Young 'Un,--you-will-do!!"
"_Et--tu--Brute--o-o-o!!!_"



CHAPTER XXIII.

CONVALESCENCE.


One striking feature that exhibited itself in the midst of this mania,
was the fact that prominent among the leading dealers in fancy poultry,
constantly appeared the names of clergymen, doctors, and other
"liberally-educated" gentlemen.

In Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and most of the Eastern States, this
circumstance was especially noticeable; and more particularly in
England. Whether this class of the community had the most money to throw
away, or whether their leisure afforded them the better opportunity to
indulge in this fancy, I cannot say; but one thing is certain,--among my
own patrons and correspondents, for the past five or six years, I find
the names of this class of "the people" by far the most conspicuous and
frequent.

There came into my office, one morning late in 1853, a Boston physician
(whom I had never seen before), who introduced himself civilly, and
invited me to ride a short distance with him up town. I was busy; but
he insisted, and his manner was peculiarly urgent and determined.

"My carriage is at the door," he said; "and I will bring you back here
in twenty minutes. I have some pure-blood stock I desire to dispose of."

"What _is_ it, doctor?" I asked.

"Chickens, chickens!" replied the doctor, briefly.

I assured the gentleman that I had near a thousand fowls on hand at this
time, and had no possible wish to increase the number.

"They are pure-bred--cost me high," he continued; "are very fine, but I
must part with them--come!"

I joined him, and we rode a mile or more, when he halted before a fine,
large house; his servant in waiting took his horse, and he ushered me
into his well-appointed poultry-house, at the rear of his dwelling.

The buildings were glazed in front and upon the roofs; the yards were
spacious and cleanly, and appropriately divided; the laying and hatching
rooms were roomy and convenient; the roosting-house was airy and
pleasant, and everything was, seemingly, in excellent order, and
arranged with good taste throughout.

"That cock cost me twenty dollars," said the doctor, calmly. "Those two
hens I paid eighteen dollars for. That bird, yonder, twelve dollars.
These five pullets stand me in about forty-five dollars. I have never
yet been able to hatch but one brood of chickens. The rats carried
_them_ off by the third morning after they came into this world. The
hens sometimes lay, I believe; at least, my man says so. I have never
_seen_ any eggs from them myself, however. I have no doubt this species
of fowls (these Changays) _do_ lay eggs, though. There are twenty-two of
them. Buy them, Mr. B----," continued the doctor, urgently.

I said no; I really did not want them.

"I _had_ nigh forty of them," continued the doctor, "two months ago. But
they have disappeared. Disease, roup, vermin, night-thieves, sir. Will
you buy them? John----drive them out!"

The fowls were driven into the main yard. There were but sixteen in all.

"Where are the rest, John?" inquired the doctor, anxiously. "There were
twenty-two here yesterday."

"I dunno, sir," said John.

"Drive 'em back, and box them up, John. Mr. B----, will you make an
offer for the remainder? To-morrow I shall probably have none to sell!
Will you give anything for them?"

I declined to buy.

"Will you permit me to send them to you as a present, sir?" he
continued.

I did not want them, any way. I had a full supply.

"What will you charge me, Mr. B----, to allow them to be sent to you?"
continued the fancier, desperately, and resolutely, at last.

I saw he was determined, and I took his fowls (fifteen of them), and
gave him ten dollars.

He smiled.

"I have had the hen fever," he added, "_badly_--but I am better of it. I
am convalescent, now," said the doctor. "You see what I have here for
houses; cost me over seven hundred dollars; my birds over four hundred
more; grain and care for a year, a hundred more. I am _satisfied_! Your
money, here, is the first dollar I ever received in return for my
investment. You see what I have left out of my venture of twelve or
thirteen hundred dollars; the manure, and--and--the lice!"

Such were the exact facts! His stock was selected from the Marsh and
Forbes importations, and the birds were good; but, by the time he got
ready to believe that it wasn't _all_ gold that glittered, the sale of
_this_ variety of fowl had passed by. A chance purchaser happened to
come along soon after, however, who "hadn't read the papers" so
attentively as some of us had, and who wanted these very fowls. I sold
them to him, "cheap as a broom," because the fever for this kind of bird
was rapidly declining. He paid me only $150 for this lot; which _was_ a
bargain, of a truth. The buyer was satisfied, however, and so was _I_.

These were but isolated instances. Scores and hundreds of gentlemen and
amateur fanciers found themselves in a similar predicament, at the end
of one or two or three years. Without possessing a single particle of
knowledge requisite to the successful accomplishment of their
purpose,--utterly ignorant of the first rudiments of the business,--they
jumped into it, without reason, forgetting the wholesome advice
contained in the musty adage, "look before you leap." And, after sinking
tens and hundreds or (in some cases) _thousands_ of dollars in
experiments, they woke up to find that they had _had_ the fever badly,
but, fortunately, were at last convalescent!

I was busy, all this time, in supplying my friends with "pure-bred"
stock, however, and had very little leisure to tarry to sympathize with
these "poor creeturs." The demand for _my_ stock continued, and the best
year's business I ever enjoyed, was from the spring of 1853 to May and
June, 1854; when it commenced to fall off very sensibly, and the
prospect became dubious, for future operations, even with _me_.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AN EXPENSIVE BUSINESS.


During the past six years I have expended, outright, for breeding stock,
and for appropriate buildings for my fowls, over four thousand dollars,
in round numbers--without taking into the account the expenses of their
care, and the cost of feeding.

Few breeders have spent anything like this sum, for this purpose,
_strictly_. In the mean time, the aggregate of my receipts has reached
(up to January, 1855) upwards of seventy thousand dollars. I have raised
thousands upon thousands of the Chinese varieties of fowls, and my
purchases to fill orders which came to hand during this term--in
addition to what I was able to fill from those I myself raised--have
been very large. And, while I have been thus engaged, hundreds and
hundreds of amateurs and fanciers have sprung up in various directions,
all of whom have had their share, too, in this trade.

To the fanciers--those who purchased, as many did at first, simply for
their amusement, or for the mere satisfaction of having good, or,
perhaps, the best birds--this fever proved an expensive matter. I have
known amateurs who willingly paid twenty, fifty, or a hundred dollars,
and even more, for a pair, or a trio, of what were considered very
choice Shanghaes. These fowls, after the first few weeks or months of
the purchaser's excitement had passed by, could be bought of him for
five or ten dollars a pair! Yet, his next-door neighbor, who would not
now take these identical birds for a gift, scarcely, would pay to a
stranger a similarly extravagant amount to that which had a hundred
times been paid by others before him, for something, perhaps, inferior
in quality, but which chanced to be called by the most popular name
current at the moment.

Thus, for a time, bubble number one, the _Cochin-Chinas_, prevailed. The
eggs of these fowls sold at a dollar each, for a long period. Then came
the _Shanghaes_, of different colors,--as the yellow, the white, the
buff, or the black,--and took their turn. Many thousands of these were
disposed of, at round rates. The smooth-legged birds at first commanded
the best price; then the feathered-legged. And, finally, came the Grey
Shanghaes, or "Chittagongs," or "Brahmas," as they were differently
termed; and this proved bubble number two, in earnest.

Everybody wanted them, and everybody had to pay for them, too! They were
large, heavy fowls, of China blood, plainly, but, with some few
exceptions, were indifferent birds. They were _leggy_, however, and
stood up showy and tall, and, to _look at_, appeared advantageously to
the fancy, at this period. In the maw of this bubble, thousands of good
dollars were thrown; and no race of poultry ever had the run that did
these Greys, under various names, both in this country and in England.

A most excellent Southern trade had sprung up, and large shipments of
fowls went forward to the West, from Massachusetts, and to Charleston,
Augusta, Mobile, New Orleans, etc., where the fever broke out furiously,
and continued, without abatement, for three years or more.

No buyers were so liberal, generally, and no men in the world, known to
Northern breeders, bought so extensively, as did these fanciers in New
Orleans and vicinity. They purchased largely, from the very start; and
the trade was kept up with a singular vigor and enterprise, from the
beginning to the end. Orders, varying in value from $500 to $1200 and
$1500, were of almost weekly occurrence from that region; and in one
instance, I sent forward to a gentleman in Louisiana, a single shipment
for which he paid me $2230! This occurred in September, 1853.

In this same year, I sent, from January to December, to another
gentleman (at New Orleans), over _ten thousand_ dollars' worth of stock.

The prices for chickens ranged from $12 or $15 a pair, to $25 or $30,
and often $40 to $50, a pair. These rates were always willingly and
freely paid, and the stock was, after a while, disseminated throughout
the entire valley of the Mississippi; where the China fowls always did
better than in our own climate.

It proved an expensive business to some of these gentlemen, most
emphatically. But they always paid cheerfully, promptly, and liberally;
and _knew_ the Yankees they were dealing with, a good deal better than
many of the sharpers supposed they did. For myself, I shall not permit
this opportunity to pass without expressing my thanks to my numerous and
generous Southern patrons, to whom I sent a great many hundred pairs of
what were deemed "good birds," and to whom I am indebted, largely, for
the trade I enjoyed for upwards of five years. I sincerely hope they
made more money out of all this than I did; and I trust that their
substance, as well as "their shadows, may never be less."

During this year, and far into 1854, the current of trade turned towards
Great Britain; and John Bull was not very slow to appreciate the rare
qualities of my "magnificent" and "extraordinary" birds; "the like of
which," said a London journal, when the Queen's fowls first arrived,
"was never before seen in England."

For upwards of a year, I had all _this_ trade in my own way.
Subsequently, some of the smaller dealers sent out a few pairs to
London, but "the people" there could never be brought to believe those
fowls were anything but mongrels; and, while these interlopers contrived
to murder the trade there, they at the same time "cut off their own
noses," for the future, with those who knew what poultry was, upon the
other side of the Atlantic.

I had _my_ shy at the Britons, seasonably!

But, a few months afterwards (as I shall show in a future chapter),
through the mismanagement of an ambitious dealer in other fancy
live-stock, the trade with England, from this side of the water, was
completely ruined. Over two hundred American fowls were thrown suddenly
upon the London market, and were finally sold there, at auction, for a
very small sum; and we were subsequently unable (with all our
chicken-eloquence) to make John Bull believe that even the _Grey
Shanghaes_ were any longer "scarce" with us, here!



CHAPTER XXV.

THE GREAT PAGODA HEN.


The most ridiculous and fulsome advertisements now occupied the columns
of certain so-called agricultural papers in this country, particularly
one or two of these sheets in New York State.

Stories were related by correspondents (and endorsed by the nominal
editors), regarding the proportions and weights and beauties of certain
of the "Bother'em" class of fowls, that rivalled Munchausen, out and
out. Fourteen and fifteen pound cocks, and ten or eleven pound hens,
were as common as the liars who told the stories of these
impossibilities. And one day the following capital hit, by Durivage,
appeared in a Boston journal. He called it "The Great Pagoda Hen." There
is as much truth in this as there was in many of the more
seriously-intended articles of that time. It ran as follows:

"Mr. Sap Green retired from business, and took possession of his country
'villa,' just about the time the 'hen fever' was at its height; and he
soon gave evidence of having that malignant disorder in its most
aggravated form. He tolerated no birds in his yard that weighed less
than ten pounds at six months, and he allowed no eggs upon his table
that were not of a dark mahogany color, and of the flavor of pine
shavings. He supplied his own table with poultry, and the said poultry
consisted of elongated drum-sticks, attached by gutta-percha muscles and
catgut sinews to ponderous breast-bones. He frequently purchased a
'crower' for a figure that could have bought a good Morgan horse; but
then, as the said crower consumed as much grain as a Morgan horse, he
could not help being perfectly satisfied with the bargain. His wife
complained that he was 'making ducks and drakes' of his property; but,
as that involved a high compliment to his ornithological tastes, he
attempted no retort. He satisfied himself that it 'would pay in the
end.' His calculations of profits were 'clear as mud.' He would have a
thousand hens. The improved breeds were warranted to lay five eggs
apiece a week; and eggs were worth--that is, _he was paying_--six
dollars a dozen. His thousand hens would lay twenty thousand eight
hundred and thirty-three dozen eggs per annum, which, at six dollars per
dozen, would amount to the sum of one hundred and twenty-four thousand
nine hundred and ninety-eight dollars. Even deducting therefrom the
original cost of the hens and their keep,--say thirty-six thousand
dollars,--the very pretty trifle of eighty-eight thousand nine hundred
and ninety-eight was the remainder--clear profit. Eggs--even dark
mahogany eggs--_went down to a shilling a dozen_! But we will not
anticipate.

"To facilitate the multiplication of the feathered species; Mr. Green
imported a French Eccaleobion, or egg-hatching machine, that worked by
steam, and was warranted to throw off a thousand chicks a month.

"One day an 'ancient mariner' arrived at the villa, with a small basket
on his arm, and inquired for the master of the house. Sap was just then
engaged in important business,--teaching a young chicken to crow,--but
he left his occupation, and received the stranger.

"'Want to buy an egg?' asked the mariner.

"'One egg? Why, where did it come from?' asked the hen-fancier.

"'E Stingies,' replied the mariner.

"'Domestic fowl's egg?'

"'Domestic.'

"'Let's see it.'

"The sailor produced an enormous egg, weighing about a pound. Sap
'hefted' it carefully.

"'Did you ever see the birds that lay such eggs?' he asked.

"'Lots on 'em,' replied the sailor. 'They're big as all out-doors. They
calls 'em the Gigantic Pagoda Hen. I'm afeared to tell you how big they
are; you won't believe me. But jest you hatch out that 'ere, and you'll
see wot'll come of it.'

"'But they must eat a great deal?' said Sap.

"'Scarcely anything,' replied the mariner; 'that's the beauty on 'em.
Don't eat as much as Bantams.'

"'Are they good layers?'

"'You can't help 'em laying,' replied the seaman, enthusiastically.
'They lay one egg every week-day, and two Sundays.'

"'But when do they set?' queried Green.

"'They don't set at all. They lays their eggs in damp, hot places, and
natur' does the rest. The chicks take keer of themselves as soon as
they're out of the shell.'

"'Damp, hot place!' said Sap. 'My Eccaleobion is the very thing, and my
artificial sheep-skin mother will bring 'em up to a charm. My friend,
what will you take for your egg?'

"'Cap'n,' said the mariner, solemnly, 'if I was going to stay ashore, I
wouldn't take a hundred dollars for it; but, as I've shipped ag'in, and
sail directly, you shall have it for forty.'

"The forty dollars were instantly paid, and the hen-fancier retired with
his prize, his conscience smiting him for having robbed a poor,
hard-working sailor.

"O, how he watched the egg-hatching machine while that extraordinary egg
was undergoing the steaming process! He begrudged the time exacted by
eating and sleeping; but his vigils were rewarded by the appearance, in
due time, of a stout young chick, with the long legs that are a proof of
Eastern blood. The bird grew apace; indeed, almost as rapidly as Jack's
bean-stalk, or the prophet's gourd. But the sailor was mistaken in one
thing; it ate voraciously. Moreover, as it increased in size and
strength, the Pagoda exhibited extraordinary pugnacity. It kicked a
dozen comrades to death in one night. It even bit the hand of the
feeder. Soon it was necessary to confine it in a separate apartment. Its
head soon touched the ceiling. What a pity it had no mate! Sap wrote to
a correspondent at Calcutta to ship him two pairs of the Great Pagoda
birds, without regard to cost. Meanwhile he watched the enormous growth
of his single specimen. He kept its existence a profound secret. It was
under lock and key, in a separate apartment, lighted by a large window
in the roof. Sap's man-of-all-work wheeled daily two bushels of corn and
a barrel of water to the door of the apartment, and Green fed them out
when no one was looking. Even this supply was scanty; but, out of
justice to his family, Sap was compelled to put the monster bird on
allowance.

"'Poor thing!' he would say, when he saw the creature devouring broken
glass, and even bolting stray nails and gravel-stones, 'it cuts me to
the soul to see it reduced to such extremity. But it's eating me out of
house and home. Decidedly, that sailor-man must have been deceived
about their being moderate feeders.'

"When the bird had attained to the enormous altitude of six feet, the
proud proprietor sent for the celebrated Dr. Ludwig Hydrarchos, of
Cambridge, to inspect him, and furnish him with a scientific
description, wherewith he might astonish his brethren of the Poultry
Association. The doctor came, and was carefully admitted by Green to the
presence of the Great Pagoda Hen. The bird was not accustomed to the
sight of strangers, and began to manifest uneasiness and displeasure at
seeing the man of science. It lifted first one foot and then the other,
as if it were treading on hot plates.

"'Hi! hi!' said Green, soothingly. 'Pagy! Pagy! come, now, be
quiet!--will you?'

"'Let me out!' cried Hydrarchos, in great alarm. The huge bird was
polking up to him. 'Let me out, I say!'

"'I never knew it to act so before,' said Green, fumbling at the lock.

"A whirr, a rush, a whizzing of the wings, and the bird was down on the
doctor, treading on his heels, and pecking at the nape of his neck.

"'Pagy! Pagy!' supplicated the owner.

"But the angry bird would not listen to reason, and Sap received a thump
on the head for his pains. And now both rushed for the opening door,
stumbling and falling prostrate in their eagerness to escape. The
monster bird danced a moment on their prostrate bodies, and then darted
forth from its late prison-house.

"It rushed through a couple of grape-houses, carrying destruction in its
progress. It scoured through the flower-beds, ruining the bright
parterres. Mrs. Green, who was walking in the garden with her child, saw
the horrid apparition, and stood paralyzed with terror. In an instant
she was thrown down and trampled under foot, shrieking and clasping her
infant in her arms.

"Mr. Green beheld this last atrocity, and his conjugal affection
overcame his love of birds. He caught up his fowling-piece and fired at
the ungrateful monster; the shot ripped up some of its tail-feathers,
but failed to inflict a mortal wound,--nothing short of a field-piece
could produce an impression on that living mass. Away sped the fowl to
the railroad-track, down which it rushed with headlong speed. But its
career was brief; an express train, coming up in an opposite direction,
struck it full in front, and rushed on, scattering feathers, wings and
drum-sticks, wildly in the air.

"'Tell me, doctor,' gasped Green, 'what do you think of my Great
Pagoda?'

"'Great Pagoda!' said the professor, in indignant disdain. 'That was a
Struthio,--Greek, _Strothous_,--in other words, an ostrich. If you
hadn't belonged to the genus _Asinus_, you'd have known that, without
asking me. Good-morning, Mr. Green.'

"'Where is the monster?' cried Mrs. Green. 'I believe the poor child is
killed. O, Sap, I didn't expect this of you!'

"'Be quiet, my dear,' said Green; 'it was only an experiment.'

"'An experiment, Mr. Green!' retorted the lady, sharply; 'your wife and
child nearly killed, and you call it an experiment! Nurturing ostriches
to devour your off-spring! I wonder you don't take to raising
elephants.'

"'No danger of that, Maria,' replied her husband, meekly. 'I have "seen
the elephant." And to-morrow I shall send my entire stock to the
auction-room,--Shanghaes, Chittagongs, Brahma Pootras, Cochins, Warhens
and Warhoos. They're nice birds, great layers, small eaters, but
they--_don't pay_.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Green was cured, of course; and though his anticipations were great,
yet he had his predecessors and his successors in the hen traffic, who
were almost as sanguine as he, and who not only "paid through the nose"
for their experience, but who came off, in the end, really, with quite
as little success. Mr. Green was but one of many. Mr. Green was one of
"the people."

It will be remembered that my correspondents allude to the fowls they
"_see in the noospapers_."

_I_ had seen these birds, in the same way, before _they_ did. And a
London dealer wrote me that he could send me a lot of Egleton's "famous"
stock, "which took the three first premiums at a metropolitan show, and
two descendants of which, at the close of the late exhibition, were sold
_at auction_ for forty-eight guineas ($262)."

I immediately sent out for a few of these monsters. They were described
to me as being of enormous size, and _feathered upon the legs_; and I
was now somewhat surprised to note that several of the English societies
decided that the _true_ "Cochin-China" fowl (as _they_ term this
variety) come only with feathered legs. The very stock above alluded to,
however, came direct from the city of _Shanghae_; and duplicate birds of
the same blood were delineated in the _London Illustrated News_. The
metropolitan associations required that all Cochin-China fowls put in
competition for premiums _must_ be feathered-legged. This was a new
decision, as it is well known that every importation of domestic fowl
yet brought out from China direct come more or less _clean_-legged; and
that fully one half of their progeny are so, with the most careful
breeding, both in England and in this country. This was immaterial,
however; and I repeated the story to my correspondents in good faith,
and sent them copies of the portraits of these new, "extraordinary,"
"splendid" and "astonishing" hens, precisely as their history and
pictures came to _me_. The result can be fancied. Here is the
"original" portrait of one of 'em.

[Illustration: ONE OF 'EM.]

This was the kind of thing that "took down" the outsiders. Orders for
this strain of pure blood poured in upon me, and I supplied them. I
trust the purchasers were always satisfied. In _my_ case, it might
answer; but I would not recommend the practice _generally_ of purchasing
chickens out of the newspapers. Such a portrait as the above _might_
chance to be a little fanciful; or, _perhaps_, it might be a trifling
exaggeration, you see. Yet this was the breed that were always "put in
the _newspapers_." You very rarely found them in your coops, though!



CHAPTER XXVI.

"POLICY THE BEST HONESTY."


This reversion of the old saying that "honesty's the best policy" seemed
to have finally attained among many hen-men, and the ambition to dispose
of their now large surplus stock, at the best possible prices, had
become very general, while the means to accomplish it came to be
immaterial, so that they got rid of their fancy poultry at fancy
figures.

Nothing that could be said against me and my stock was neglected, or
omitted to be said. But, as long as fowls would sell at all, I had my
full share of the trade, notwithstanding this. The following veritable
letter, received from a noted "breeder," in 1853, will explain itself;
and it exhibits the disposition of more than _one_ huckster still left
around us. It will be observed that this gentleman called me his
"friend"!

     "FRIEND B----: What has become of all the trade? I haven't sold
     twenty dollars' worth of chickens, in a month! I've now got over
     three hundred of these curses on hand--and they're eating me up,
     alive. What'll we do with them? Do you want them? Will you buy
     them--_any_how? And give what you like for them.

     "They are a better lot than you ever owned,--everybody says
     so,--Greys, Cochins (_pure_) and Shanghaes. D--n the business! I'm
     sick of it. My fowls and fixin's cost me over twelve hundred
     dollars. What do you think of an auction? Has the bottom fallen
     out, entirely? Could I get back two or three dollars apiece for
     this lot, do you think, at public sale?

     "B---- is stuck with about five hundred of the gormandisers. I'm
     glad of it--glad--_glad_! An't you? He always lammed you, as well
     as me; and though I think _you_ can swinge the green 'uns as cutely
     as 'most any of 'em, _he_ has been an eye-sore for three years that
     ought to be put down. He got his stock of you, he says,--but (no
     offence to you, friend B----), it an't worth a cuss. All of it's
     sick and lousy, and he shan't sell no more fowls, if I can help it.

     "Have you seen W----'s stock, lately? Isn't _he_ a beauty! I told
     him, last week, he'd ought to be ashamed of himself ever to gone
     into this trade, at all. He's well enough off, without stealing the
     bread out of the mouths of them that's a long way honester than he
     ever was. I'll have a lick at _him_, yet.

     "Come and see my stock,--and buy it. I don't want it. I must give
     it up. I'm too busy about something else. Come--will you? I don't
     say anything against your fowls, outside; but you know, as well as
     I do, that you haven't got the _real thing_. Bennett says you
     haven't, and everybody else says so. As to your 'importations,' you
     never had a fowl that was imported from any further off than Cape
     Cod, and you know it! But that is neither here nor there. _I_ don't
     care a fig how much you gouge 'em. All I want is to get rid of
     _mine_. If you don't buy them, I shall sell them,--somehow,--or
     give them away, sure. They shan't eat me up, nohow.

     "They don't eat nothing--these fowls don't! O, what an infernal
     humbug this is! I never got much out of it, though. I tell
     everybody what all the rest of you do,--of course. But _I_ had
     rather keep the same number of Suffolk pigs, anyhow, so far as
     that's concerned. I an't afraid of your showing this letter to
     nobody--ha! ha! So I don't mark it 'private.' But of all the
     owdacious humbugs that ever this country saw, _this_ thing is the
     steepest,--and you know it!

     "Write me and say what you'll give me for my lot. I won't peach on
     you. You can buy 'em on your own terms. I want to get out of it.
     And you may say just what you've a mind about 'em. I'll back you,
     of course. Couldn't you take them, and get up another fresh guy on
     a 'new importation'?? That's it. Come, now, friend B----, help me
     out. And answer immediately. All I want is to get out of it, and
     catch _me_ there again if you can!

                                  "Yours, &c.,

                                                          "---- ----.

     "P.S. If you don't buy them, I shall kill the brutes, and send 'em
     to market; though they are too _poor_ for that, I think."

This complimentary epistle from a brother-fancier was rather cool, but
it didn't equal the following. I had more than one of this sort,
too,--of which I had no occasion, for the time being, to take the
slightest notice, for I had "other fish to fry," decidedly!

     "MR. BURNHAM.--SIR: How is it that you have the impudence to try to
     palm off on the public those fowls of yours for genuine '_imported_
     ones,' when it is known that you bought them all of me, and A----,
     and B----? How can you sleep nights? Don't you feel a squirming in
     your conscience? Or is it made of ingy-rubber, or gutter-perchy?
     You have made hundreds, and I don't know but thousands of dollars,
     by your impudence and bare-faced deceit. They are _not_ genuine
     fowls. I say this _bolely_. I wish there was a noospaper that would
     show the inderpendence to print an article that I could rite for
     it, on this subject of poletry. If I wouldn't make you stare, and
     shet your eyes up, too, then I aint no judge of swindling!

     "Why don't you act like a man? _Carnt_ you? Havn't you got the
     pluck to own up that other people have done for you what you never
     had the gumption to do for yourself? Why don't you act fair,--and
     tell where the genuine fowls can be got, and of who? You're a doing
     the poultry business more hurt than all the rest of the men in the
     country is doing, or ever did, or ever will, sir.

     "I don't mind a man's being sharp, and looking out for himself. _I_
     do that. But I carn't humbug people as you are doing,--and I won't,
     neither. You're sticking it into the people nicely,--don't you
     think you are? And they _believe_ it, too! The people believes what
     you tell them, and sucks it all down, and wants more of it. And you
     keep a giving it to them, too! How long do you suppose such
     infamous things as these can last? I hope this letter will do you
     good. I havn't no ends to answer. I keep but a few fowls, and I
     have never charged over twenty-five dollars a pair for the best of
     them,--as you know. _You_ get fifty or a hundred dollars a pair. So
     the noospapers say, but I believe you lie when they say so. You
     carn't come this over _me_! You don't pull none of that wool over
     _my_ eyes! No, sir!

     "If you want to get an honest living,--get it! I don't say nothin
     against that; you've a rite to. But don't cheat the people out of
     their eye-teeth, by telling these stories that you carn't
     prove.[11] You've no right to. You sell fowls, by this means, but
     you don't get no clear conscience by it. It's wrong, Mr. Burnum,
     and you know it. While you do this, nobody can sell no fowls except
     _you_. Give other people a chance, say I. I wouldn't do this,
     nohow, to sell my fowls at your expense; and I go for having
     everybody do unto others as _I_ would do to _them_. This is moral
     and Christian-like, and you'd better adopt it. That's my advice,
     and I don't charge nothing for it. So, no more at present--from

                                  "Your, resp'y,

                                                     "---- ---- ----."

These missives never disturbed me. Why should they? These very men would
have sold, from that very stock,--_had_ done so, repeatedly,
before,--whatever a buyer sought to purchase. I never knew either of
them to permit the chance of a sale to pass by him, on account of the
_variety_ of bird sought! They invariably possessed whatever was wanted.
With them, "_policy_ was the best _honesty_." I did not complain. I was
a "hen-man," but no Mentor.

[11] I never found, in my limited experience in this business, any
particular necessity for attempting to prove anything. "The people"
wanted FOWLS--not _proofs_!



CHAPTER XXVII.

A GENUINE HUMBUG.


[Illustration: A GENUINE HUMBUG.]

It was now getting pretty clear to the vision of most of the initiated
that the hen fever was in the midst of its height. Buyers with long
purses were about, but they were not so ravenous as formerly. They
talked knowingly and cautiously, and chose their fowls with more care
than formerly; but still a great many samples were being circulated, and
at very handsomely remunerating prices.

A gentlemanly-_looking_ man called upon me, one day, about this time,
in Boston, and introduced himself, in his own felicitous manner,
something in this wise:

"How are you? Mr. Burnum, I suppose. My name is T----. I'm from
Phil'delphy."

"Happy to see you, Mr. T----," I replied. "Take a seat, sir?"

"I want to _look_ at your fowls, Burnum," he continued, in a rather
bluff manner. "I know what poultry is, I _think_. I've been at it, now,
over thirty year; and I'd oughter know what fowls is. You're a humbug,
Burnum! There's no doubt about _that_; and you're all a set of hums,
together--you hen-men! I haven't got the fever. I'm never disturbed by
no such stupid nonsense. These China fowls are an old story with _me_. I
had 'em twenty years ago,--brought into Phil'delphy straight from
Shanghae by a friend of mine."

[This gentleman had forgotten, or didn't know (or thought _I_ didn't),
that the port of Shanghae had been open to communication with this
country only a dozen years or less; and so I permitted him to proceed in
his remarks without offering any opposition to his assumption.]

"These big fowls never lay no eggs, Burnum. You know it as well as
anybody. _Do_ they?"

"None to hurt," I answered.

"No, no--I reck'n not," continued my visitor. "_I_ know 'em, like a
book. Can't fool _me_ with them. They an't worth a curse to nobody.
I'll go out and _see_ yours, though, 'cause you're a good deal fairer
than I expected to find you. I thought you'd try to hum _me_, same as I
s'pose you do the rest."

"O, no!" I replied, meekly. "When I meet with gentlemen who are posted
up, as _you_ are, sir, I conceive it to be useless to attempt to urge
them to possess themselves of this stock; because I am always satisfied,
at first sight, what my customer is. And I govern myself accordingly. I
will take you out to my place, directly. My carriage is in town, and
we'll ride out together. You can see it,--but you say you don't want to
purchase any?"

"No, no--that's not my object, at all. Still, I like to look at the
humbugs, any way."

I was as well satisfied that this man knew very little of what he thus
boldly talked of, as I also was that he had come all the way from
Philadelphia _purposely_ to buy some Chinese fowls. But I gave him no
hint of this suspicion; and we arrived, an hour afterwards, at my
residence in Melrose.

He examined my fowls carefully; went through all the coops and houses,
and finally we entered the "green-house" where the _selected_ animals
were kept. As soon as he saw these birds, _I_ saw that he was "a goner."

He denounced the whole race as he passed along; but when we entered this
well-appointed place, he stopped. These were very respectable, and he
wouldn't mind having a few of _these_, he said.

"What do you get for such as these?" he inquired.

"Twenty-five dollars each," I replied, "when I sell them. But they're
all alike. _You_ know it as well as I do. They're worth no such money.
These fowls are well-grown, and are in good condition; but five or six
shillings each is their full _real_ value. Still, you know when 'the
children cry for them,' why, we get a little more for them."

"Yes; but twenty-five dollars is a thundering hum, anyhow, Burnum! I
can't go _that_! You mustn't think of getting no such price as that out
of _me_, you see; 'cause you know that _I_ know what all this bosh
means. I'd like that cock and those three big hens," he added, pointing
to four of my "best" birds. "That is," he continued, "if I could have
them at anything like a fair rate."

"My dear sir," I responded; "_you_ don't want any such hum as this
imposed upon _you_. You know, evidently, what all this kind of thing
signifies. But, at the same time, you see I can get this price, and do
get it every day in the week, out of the 'flats' that you have been
speaking of. I don't sell any of these things to gentlemen, who know, as
_you_ do, what they are, you see."

"Yes, yes!" continued the stranger; "I know; I see. I comprehend you,
exactly--precisely. But I should like them four fowls. What's the
_lowest_ price you'll name for them?"

"I never have but one price, sir," I replied. "_These_ fowls I keep here
for show-birds. They are my 'sign,' you perceive--my models. The younger
stock, that you have seen outside, are bred _from_ these; and thus I am
enabled to show gentlemen, when they come here, what the others will
be"--(_perhaps_, I might have added; but I didn't).

This gentleman remained half an hour at my house, and we talked the
whole subject over, at our leisure. I agreed with him in every
proposition that he advanced, and he finally left me with the assurance
that I had been traduced villanously. He really expected to meet with a
regular sharper when he encountered me; but he was satisfied, if there
was a gentleman and an honest poultry-breeder in New England, _I_ was
that fortunate individual!

I did not dispute even this assurance on his part. And when he left, _I_
had one hundred dollars of his money, and _he_ took away with him four
of my "splendid" pure-bred Grey Shanghaes, which I sent to the cars with
him when he bade me good-day.

This was but a single sample of the _real_ humbugs that presented
themselves to us, from time to time, _all_ of whom were certain to
inform us that they were "thoroughly acquainted" with the entire details
of the business; all of whom had been through the routine, and "knew
every rope in the ship;" none of whom were affected with the "fever" (so
they always declared), and not one of whom believed, while they were
thus striving to pull wool over the eyes of others, that they were all
the time being "shaken down" without mercy!

_This_ was the very class of men who, in the later days of the malady,
assisted most to keep up the delusion, and to aid in carrying on the hum
of the trade. To be sure, the keepers of agricultural warehouses talked,
and told big stories to their poor customers, who would buy eggs and
chickens of them, for a while, at round prices; true, most of the
agricultural papers strove from week to week to keep up the deceit,
after the editors or proprietors found their yards over-stocked with
this species of property, for which they had originally paid me (or
somebody else) roundly, and which they "couldn't afford to lose," though
they _knew_ it to be valueless! True, the hen-men themselves kept their
advertising and the big stories of their success constantly before "the
people," whom they gulled from day to day. But no portion of the
community did more to "help the cause along" than did this
self-sufficient, learned, know-nothing, thin-skinned class of
"wise-acres," who never chanced to make much more than a considerable
out of the writer of this paragraph--I _think_!

Among this well-informed (?) set of men there was a "John Bull" who was
connected in some way with a Boston weekly, which was nominally called
an agricultural sheet, but which for several years was filled with
articles upon the subject of "the equality of the sexes."

His name was Pudder, or Pucker, or Padder, as nearly as I remember. From
the commencement of this fever he was sorely affected, and his articles
upon the merits of the different breeds of fowls he raised were very
learned and instructive! He sold eggs for three, four, or five dollars a
dozen, for a few weeks; but, as they didn't hatch, his game was soon
blocked. Still, he stuck to this hum with the obstinacy of a "bluenose;"
and his readers were indebted to his advice for possessing themselves of
the most worthless mass of trash (in the shape of poultry) that ever
cursed the premises of amateur. His lauded "Plymouth Rocks," his
"Fawn-colored Dorkings," his "Italians," his "Drab Shanghaes," etc.,
sold, however; and the poor devils who read the paper, and who purchased
this stuff, lived (like a good many others) to realize, to their hearts'
content, after paying this fellow for being thus humbugged, the truth of
the old adage that "the fool and his money is soon parted."

Still, Podder was useful--in his way--in the hen-trade. The operations
of such ignorant and wilful hucksters had the effect of opening the eyes
of those who desired to obtain _good_ stock, and who were willing to
pay for it. And after they had been thus fleeced, they became cautious,
and procured their poultry only of "honorable" and responsible breeders
(like myself), who imported and bred nothing but known _pure_ stock.

As late as in January, 1855, a western agricultural sheet alludes to the
flaming advertisement of an old hand in this traffic, and says: "It is
known to all who know anything about poultry that Mr. G---- has been an
amateur breeder for about forty years, and is undoubtedly better
'posted,' in reference to domestic and fancy fowls, than any other man
in America; and, beside this, he is an honest man, and has no 'axe to
grind.' He has raised fowls, heretofore, _solely for his own amusement_;
but _now_ he proposes to accommodate the public by disposing of some of
them."

This man is my "fat friend" in Connecticut,--who has bred and bought and
sold as much _trash_, in the past ten years, as the best (or the worst)
of us. Friend Brown, we could tell you a story worth two of yours, on
this point! But--we forbear.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

BARNUM IN THE FIELD.


The prince of showmen was suddenly developed as a "hen-man"! Mr. Barnum
was seized, one morning, with violent spasms, and, upon finding himself
safely within the friendly shelter of "Iranistan," his physicians were
duly consulted, who examined his case critically, and reported that the
disease lay chiefly in the head of their patient--who, it was
subsequently ascertained, was suffering from a severe attack of hen
fever.

Such was the violence of the demonstrations in this gentleman's case,
however, and so fearful were the indications with him, even during the
incipient stages of the affection, that his friends feared that Phineas
T. had really contracted his "never-get-over." But, upon being informed
(as I was, soon afterwards) of this case, and questioned as to his
probable eventual recovery, I unhesitatingly gave it as my opinion that
his friends might rest assured the humbug that could kill _him_ was yet
to be discovered; and that, so far as he was personally concerned, I
entertained no sort of doubt that "he would feel much better when it
was done aching." (A prediction which, I have no question, has been
accurately fulfilled, ere this.)

The man who could succeed, as he had, with no-haired horses,
gutta-percha mermaids, fat babies, etc., and who had gone into and out
of fire-annihilators, prepared mastodons, illustrated newspapers, copper
mines, defunct crystal palaces, and the like, unscathed, would scarcely
be jeopardized by an attack of the prevailing malady of the day, however
violently it might exhibit itself in his case. And so there was hope for
Phineas, though his symptoms were really alarming.

My friend took the very best possible means for alleviating the
virulence of his attack; and, looking about him for the
largest-_sized_ humbug known in the trade, he alighted upon a
two-hundred-and-forty-pound Connecticut joker, who quickly offered to
inform him how he could find relief.

"How shall I do it, John?" exclaimed Phineas, as his fat friend made his
appearance.

"Heesiest thing in life," responded John; "hall you 'ave to do is to put
yer 'and in yer pocket."

"_So?_" said Phineas, putting his fist gently out of sight.

"No--you aren't deep enough down yet," replied John. "Go down deeper.
That's better,--that'll do."

"How much'll it cost?" queried Phineas.

"Carn't say," responded John. "You're pooty bad. There's nuth'n' in
_this_ country that'll cure you. Hi'll go hout to Hingland, if you say
so, and hi can git somethin' there that'll 'elp you. It ar'n't to be 'ad
in Ameriky, though."

"Sho!" exclaimed Barnum; "you don't say so! Do you think, John, that we
could find something in England that would knock 'em, here?"

"Nothing else," replied John. "_Hi_ know where they keep 'em." (John was
raised in Great Britain.)

"But, John," persisted Phineas, "there's _Burnham_, you know, of Boston.
They say _he_ has the best poultry in the world; and I've no doubt of
it, between you and I."

"Fudge!" exclaimed John; "Burn'am's a very clever fellow, hi've no
manner o' doubt, and hi won't say nuth'n' ag'inst 'im; but 'ee's the
wust 'umbug you _ever_ see, since you 'ad breath. 'Ee don't know the
dif'rence 'tween a Shanghi and a Cochin-Chiny--an' never did. 'Ee's a
_hum_, 'is Burn'am. Don't go near _'im_, unless you want the skin shaved
hoff o' yer knuckles, clean."

"Well, John," said the show-man, "something must be done. I've got the
fever, bad, I'm afraid, as you suggest; and it must be fed. What can you
do for me?"

John thought the matter over, and it was finally agreed, as there were
no good fowls in America (according to John's notions), that _he_ should
be deputized by Phineas to proceed to "Hingland," and procure some
genuine (that is, _pure_) stock, for the coops at Iranistan, at the
liberal show-man's expense! A capital recipe, this, for Barnum's
disease, as well as for John's own benefit.

But Phineas isn't taken down easy, though they do occasionally "fetch
him." And so he hesitated. He thought the matter over a while, and
finally said to his friend, one day,

"John, I've got it!"

"'Ave you?" says John.

"Yes, I've got it. You know I've something in my head besides grey
hairs, John."

"Hi've no manner o' doubt o' _that_," replied John.

"Well, I have thought this thing over, and I have determined to see,
first, what there is in America, before I send you out to Europe."

"It'll take you a long time to do that," said John, "and you'd 'ave to
travel a great w'ile to see all the poultry we've 'ere."

"I won't travel at all," said Phineas.

"No? As 'ow, then?" inquired John.

"I'll get up a show--a poultry exhibition--on a grand scale, and it
shall come off at my Museum, at New York. Everybody'll come, of course;
and we can see what there is, buy what I want from the best of 'em, and
make our selections as we may fancy; you shall go out afterwards to
England, and obtain for me what I can't get here, you see."

"Capital!--hexellent!" responded John.

"And I'll call it the--the--_what_?" said Barnum, stopping for an
appropriate title to this anticipated exhibition.

"I donno," said John, puzzled.

"Well--then--the _National Show_," continued Phineas. "How'll that do?
The first exhibition of the 'National Poultry Society.' I think that's
good. You see that includes all quarters of the country; and we shall
know no north, no south, no east, no west! A quarter admission--Museum
included--capital!"

"Yes--just _the_ thing!" chimed in his friend. And shortly afterwards
advertisements and circulars found their way into the hands of all the
hen-men in the country, who were thus invited to visit New York, in
February, 1854, to contribute to the grand show of the "National Poultry
Society," of which P.T. Barnum, Esq., was _President_.

A long string of names was attached to this call, and the list of
"Managers" embraced one or more representatives from every State in the
Union--my own humble name appearing among the Vice-presidents for
Massachusetts.

The whole thing was clearly one of Barnum's _dodges_ to fill his Museum
for a few days; and probably not a single individual except himself had
any knowledge of the formation or existence of any such _society_ as
this, of which he thus nominally appeared to be the presiding officer.
At any rate, after diligent inquiry, I could never ascertain that
anybody knew anything about any such an association, except himself.

However, this was a matter of no sort of consequence, of course. The
Fitchburg Dépôt Show, in Boston, was a similar affair; and I now joined
in this exhibition without asking unnecessary questions,--because I saw
that there was fun ahead, and that _I_ could make an honest penny out of
it, whether Barnum did or not.

Every one now put his best foot foremost; and, as this fair approached,
Shanghaes were converted into Cochin-Chinas (by the knowing ones), by
the removal of the feathers from the legs; the mongrels were made
feathered-legged Bother'ems, by the free use of gum-tragacanth and down;
the long-tailed fowls were deprived of all superfluous plumes, through
the aid of the pincers; and what this last process did not
satisfactorily effect, the application of the _shears_ completed (see
engraving!); until, at last, the unlucky bipeds, whom nature had
originally supplied with decent caudal appendages, were reduced to that
requisite state of brevity, astern, which the _mode_ or the taste of the
day demanded. And, at length, all was ready for the great "National
Show" in New York city.

[Illustration: PREPARING FOR THE FOWL SHOW.--(See page 195.)]

As it turned out, the whole thing (though an utter _sham_ as regarded
its being a _society_ matter) proved to have been well conceived, and,
from beginning to end, was admirably well carried out. Mr. Barnum did
his part most creditably at this first show in New York, and the
experiment was eminently successful.

The birds were afforded excellent care, and an immense quantity of good
specimens found their way to the Museum at the appointed time. For a
week, notwithstanding the very dull weather, the great rooms of the
American Museum on Broadway were thronged with visitors; and Barnum was
in high glee at the entire success of his undertaking.

Not content with one week's show of the fowls, Barnum proposed that it
should be continued for six days longer; and the crowd continued to
visit this exhibition for another week, and to pour in with their
friends, their wives, their children, and their quarters, to the great
edification and satisfaction of the proprietor of the show, and the
"President" of the "National Poultry Society."

I was there, with a goodly quantity of my "rare" and "unexceptionable"
and "pure-bred" fowls, which were greatly admired by the thousands of
lookers-on, who flocked to this extraordinary exhibition. It was really
astonishing (to _me_, at least) what very fine birds I had at this show.

And, "may be," fowls didn't _sell_ there! If I remember rightly, "the
people" were round, on that occasion. And so was _I_!



CHAPTER XXIX.

FIRST "NATIONAL" POULTRY-SHOW IN NEW YORK.


Whether it was because Barnum had taken this enterprise in hand, whether
it was because it was known that my "superior" stock was to be seen at
the Museum, or whether it was because the intrepid "Fanny Fern" had
promised to visit the show, I cannot say; but one thing was
certain,--such a gathering of "the people" was seldom witnessed, even in
busy, driving, sight-seeing New York, as that which crowded the great
rooms of Barnum's establishment on the occasion of the first exhibition
of the so-called "National Poultry Society."

"All the world" was there, with his wife and babies, and nieces and
nephews. The belle and the beau, the merchant and the mechanic, the
lawyer and the parson, the rich and the poor, old and young, grave and
gay,--all were in attendance upon this extraordinary display of
cockadoodledom; and Barnum--the indefatigable, the enterprising, the
determined, the incomparable Barnum--was in his glory, as the quarters
were piled up at the counter of the ticket-office, and "the people"
wedged their way up the crowded stairs and aisles of his Museum.

The great show-man was as busy as His Satanic Majesty is vulgarly
supposed to be in a snow-storm! Now here, now there; up stairs, down
stairs; in the halls, in the lobbies; busy with John, button-holing the
"committees," from morning till night. All smiles, all good-nature, all
exertion to please the throngs of visitors who constantly jammed their
way about the building. And, to say that everything about this
undertaking (so far as he was personally concerned) was not managed with
tact and good judgment, as well as complete propriety and liberality,
would be to state what was untrue. Mr. Barnum rarely does anything by
halves; and to him, in this instance, belongs the credit of getting up,
and carrying through successfully, the very best show of poultry ever
seen in America,--beyond all comparison.

In due season I selected from my then somewhat reduced stock sixty
specimens of the Shanghae tribe of fowls, which, with some twenty
samples of choice Madagascar Rabbits, I forwarded (in charge of my own
agent) to this long-talked-of show.

The person whom I employed to look after my stock--(for I had long since
got to be "a gentleman," and couldn't attend to such trifling matters,
personally)--the man who went with it to this exhibition was thoroughly
posted up in his "profession," and knew a hawk from a handsaw, as well
as a Shanghae from a Cochin-China. And when he started for New York with
my contributions, I enjoined it upon him to bear in mind, under _all_
circumstances, that the gentleman he represented had the only
_pure_-bred poultry in America, any way. To which he replied, briefly,

"Is _that_ all? I knew that before."

I said, "John, you're a brick. A faced-brick. A _hard_-faced-brick.
You'll _do_."

John winked, and left me, with the understanding that, as soon as he
should have time to look around the show, he would telegraph me at
Boston what the prospect was, comparatively. I felt quite _sure_ that my
fowls would take all the premiums, for they always had done so before;
and my "pure-bred" stock grew better and better every year!

I did not go to the show for a day or two after my agent left; and, on
the morning succeeding the opening, I received from him the following
brief but expressive telegraphic dispatch:

     "G.P. BURNHAM, BOSTON.

     "Arrived safe; thought we'd got 'em, _sure_. We have--_over the
     left_. You are nowhar!

                                                                "B."

Here was a precious fix, to be sure! For five years, I had carried away
the palm at every exhibition where my "splendid" and deservedly
"unrivalled" samples had been put in competition with the stock of
others. And now, at the first great _national_ exhibition, where
everybody would of course be present (and where the first cages that
would be looked for, or looked into, must be those of Mr. Burnham, the
breeder of the only original "pure"-blooded poultry in the country),
according to my agent's dispatch I was _no_whar!

This dispatch reached me at noon, and on the following morning I was in
New York. I looked about the several apartments in the Museum, and
satisfied myself who had the best fowls there, very quickly. As it
happened, they were not inside of _my_ cages, by a long mark!

Yet "the people" crowded around my showy coops, for which my agent had
secured an advantageous position, and in displaying them (if I remember
aright) he lost no opportunity in saying just _enough_ (and no more) to
the throng who passed and admired their beautiful proportions, their
great size, and splendid colors. There were not a few choice birds
scattered about the rooms,--under the benches, or in the far-off
corners,--which my eye fell upon, which my agent subsequently purchased
at very modest prices, and which found their way, somehow, into my
coops.

"The people" now stared with more earnestness than ever. By the evening
of the second day, my "pure-bred" stock _did_ look remarkably well! And
when the "committee" came round, at last, I found myself the recipient
of several of the leading premiums, for my "magnificent," "superb" and
"extraordinary" contributions, again. And now commenced the fun, once
more, in earnest.

Everything that I sent to New York was quickly bought up at enormous
prices. Fifty, eighty, a hundred, a hundred and twenty-five dollars per
trio, was willingly paid my agent for the rare and incomparable fowls I
exhibited there. "The people" were literally mad on the subject; and I
hadn't half enough to supply my customers with, at figures that
astonished even _my_ ideas of prices,--which, by the way, were not
easily disturbed!

During this exhibition, Mr. Barnum announced that a "conversational"
gathering would be held, one day, in the lecture-room of his Museum;
whither the throng were invited to repair, at last, to talk over matters
pertaining to the welfare of the trade generally, and the hen-humbug
more particularly.

A rush was directly made for this hall, which was quickly filled up by
the multitude, who now stood or sat, with gaping mouths and staring
eyes, in readiness to be further bamboozled by the managers of this
_National_ "Society," who duly paraded themselves upon the platform, and
commenced to show themselves up for the edification of the uninitiated,
and to the great amusement of those who had "been there" before them.

Mr. Barnum presided, but with that grace and modesty and extreme
diffidence for which he is so noted. The enthusiasm of the occasion soon
reached concert-pitch, however, and everybody on the stage, in the
parquette, and around the gallery, desired to relieve themselves of the
pent-up patriotism that rioted in their bosoms; and all desired to be
heard at the same time.

Cries of "Barnum! Barnum!" "Where's Bennett?" "Speech from Burnham!"
"Down in front!" "Give 'em a chance!" "Hear the president!--there he
is!" "Hurra for the Bother'ems!" &c. &c., rang from the lungs of the
crowd. And finally order was restored, and Mr. Barnum approached the
front of the stage, to deliver himself of "feelings that could be
fancied, not described," amid the cheers and shouts of that crazy
multitude.



CHAPTER XXX.

BARNUM'S INNATE DIFFIDENCE.


As soon as the vociferous cheering had subsided, Mr. Barnum reached the
foot-lights, and smiled beneficently upon the crowd before him.

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN," said the show-man, modestly, "unaccustomed as I
am to public speaking, you will pardon me, _imprimis_, for hinting at
the extreme diffidence with which I now rise to address you; and I am
sure that, notwithstanding the commendable zeal that now animates this
enlightened audience, you will sympathize with me in the midst of the
embarrassments under which you must readily perceive _I_ am laboring,
and extend to the speaker your lenity (all unused, as you are aware he
is, to this sort of scene), while he ventures upon a few very brief
remarks on the interesting and laudably-exciting topic that has brought
us together here, on this happy occasion."

This modest appeal brought down the house, of course; and the bashful
Mr. B., after clearing his throat, was requested by the crowd to "Go on,
Barnum! Proceed--put 'er through!"

"The hen fever," continued Mr. B----, "is but just _begun_ to be
realized, ladies and gentlemen, among us." (Barnum had been attacked by
the malady only a few weeks previously, and hadn't "heard from the back
counties" then!) "This first exhibition of the National Poultry Society,
my friends, is ample evidence in support of this statement. Was there
ever such a show seen, or heard of, ladies and gentlemen, as this which
you are now the witnesses of? Never! Yet, I repeat it, this is but the
commencement. The enthusiasm which has attended upon this exhibition,
the feelings that have been stirred up by this before unheard-of
display, the people of every grade in society that come forward here in
its support, the zeal which animates the bosoms of the thousands upon
thousands who have attended it, and the names of the men connected with
its origin and present patronage, afford ample evidence in support of my
assertions, that the fire has but just begun--just _begun_ to burn,
fairly, ladies and gentlemen!" ("That's a fact," was the ready response
of a young gentleman who had just paid my agent over three hundred
dollars for a few samples of my "choice" chickens; the first he ever
owned!)

"_I_ want to say a few words," remarked a stranger, under the gallery,
at this point. But he was requested by the chairman to "_hold in!_"
until Mr. Barnum concluded. After considerable urging, this anxious man
was prevailed upon to sit down; though he was evidently "full to
bursting," with his enthusiastic emotions.

"We have a good deal to learn yet, gentlemen," continued Barnum (and
that was truthful, at any rate!) "We have much to learn; but we know
enough to spur us on to acquire more. More knowledge, more experience,
more fowls. We haven't enough--we don't know enough, yet. I am greatly
rejoiced at the prospects, to-day, and with the entire success of this
enterprise, here!" (And well he might be.) "I have freely given my time
and humble talents to its consummation, and we have triumphed! We, _the
people_, the men who have the heart and the pluck to undertake and carry
through this sort of thing. There's no hum in _this_, gentlemen! None,
whatever. How _can_ there be? We see this thing before our very eyes. It
is a tangible, living, breathing, walking, crowing" (and he might have
added _eating_!) "reality, ladies and gentlemen. There can be no humbug
in anything of this sort; because we can take hold upon it, handle it,
view it with our eyes open. A humbug is but an unexplained or
half-concluded _fact_. This is a self-evident, clearly-defined fact--

     'A thing that _is_--and to be blessed!'

And when you, or I, can take a crower in our hands that will weigh
twelve or fourteen or fifteen pounds,--when we can see and feel
him,--can there, by any possibility, be humbug in it?"

"No--no--no!" shouted the crowd; the ladies kindly joining in the
decisive negative given to this forcible appeal.

"Then, I repeat it, we are but just in the beginning of the commencement
of this new and promising era. The fire has just begun to burn, and to
illumine the world; and, as I said before (or intended to say), it is
not to be subdued! It is a mighty conflagration, which assails everybody
at this moment, and is now enveloping all classes of the community, from
the highest to the lowest! This land is in a blaze! In a threatening,
exciting, violent, whirling, astounding blaze, gentlemen--and no
opposition or invention can put it out!" ("Fetch on your
fire-'nihilators, then!" shouted a vicious wag, from the gallery.)

"We don't want to put it out," continued Mr. Barnum, growing warmer as
the fire of his zeal in this cause continued to glow within him; "we
have no wish to put it out. Let it burn! Let it come! Let it
conflagrate! We love it--_you_ love it--_I_ love it--it's one of the
things we admire to think of, and speak of, and read of, and pay for,
and help to keep alive here, and everywhere, and elsewhere! Our country
is big enough; we have millions of broad acres, miles on miles of
fertile fields, and cords of maize and grain that cannot be used or
disposed of, unless it be devoted to the uses and benefits of these
beautiful birds, sometimes so cavalierly spoken of by their enemies, but
the value of which _I_ know, and most of _you_, gentlemen, know how to
appreciate!" (Applause, and cries of "Go it, old hoss! You'll be a
capital customer for some of the hen-men to pick up! Go it, Barnum!")

"I did not rise, gentlemen," continued the speaker, "with any idea of
telling you anything new. I am but an humble coadjutor with you in this
pleasing and innocent undertaking. I can see, as you can, also, the
importance of this subject" (he didn't say _what_ "subject"), "and I
trust that we may go on, and increase, and multiply domestic fowls and
customers, in a ratio commensurate with the rapidly increasing throbs of
the public pulse--which is now beating only at 2.40, and which must soon
reach a 2.10 pace, if nothing breaks!" ("Hurra! Hurra!" yelled the boys;
"that's a good 'un!") And the President sat down, blushing, amid the
uproarious applause that followed his remarks.

As soon as order was comparatively restored, other gentlemen, whom the
President introduced as "honorable," and "talented," and "professional,"
and "influential," took the rostrum, and "followed suit" upon Barnum's
lead.

A vote of thanks was finally passed to Mr. Barnum for his services, and
the _sacrifices_ he had made in behalf of the "Society;" another to the
"orator" of the day (whose name I have now forgotten), formerly a member
of Congress, I believe; another similar vote to the Secretary, to whom,
also, a plated jug was subsequently presented; a vote to Mr. Burnham, of
Boston, for his speech and his "magnificent" contributions of
_pure_-bred stock; a vote condemning everybody who had or should
thenceforward nickname fowls; a vote of condolence and sympathy with
John Giles, because none of his _pure_ Black Spanish fowls were in the
exhibition; a vote to Porter, of the New York _Spirit of the Times_, for
his disinterested notices of the show; another to Greeley, of the
_Tribune_, who hadn't time to visit it; another to pay the bills of the
"Committees" at the Astor House (_minus_ the champagne charges!);
another to Dr. Bennett, for not being present at this show; another
endorsing the claims of patent pill-venders and cross-grained bee-hive
makers; another to Frank Pierce, for the allusions in his inaugural to
the "march of progress" in our land, which of course included
Shanghae-ism; another to Caleb Cushing (an honorary member), who was
lauded as the most thoroughly graceless humbug known to the "national"
society; another endorsing the collector and postmaster of Boston as
disinterested democrats; another that my "Grey Shanghaes" were evidently
the only full-blooded fowls exhibited at the American Museum on this
occasion; and numerous other resolves were duly "voted," of which no
note was taken at the time.

While this bosh was transpiring, I sent to Boston for some fifty pairs
more of my "superb" specimens of Shanghaes and Cochins, all of which
were disposed of during the second week of this show, at curiously
"ruinous" rates. And at the close of the exhibition my agent had taken
very nearly _three thousand dollars_ for the "pure" Shanghaes, and
Cochins, and Greys, he had sold there for my account!

I trust that every one was as well satisfied with the results of this
first exhibition of the "National Poultry Society" as I was. It is the
last show _I_ shall ever attend. And having invariably taken the lead,
from the beginning up to this trial, I retired, content with the
self-assurance that I had made all I could make out of this sort of
thing, and that the field now legitimately belonged to my juniors in the
profession. May success attend them!

At the close of the exhibition, my friend Barnum congratulated me.

"They tell me you've done _well_, Burnham," said my friend, cheerfully.
"I'm glad of it. And, since you've made it so handsomely, suppose you
leave me a couple of your best Fancy Rabbits, yonder; I'll add them to
the 'Happy Family.'"

"Certainly," I replied. "With great pleasure, B----. And, since _you_
have done so capitally with this show, you shall give me a quarter of
your profits on the tickets sold. Here--take the rabbits!"

"A-_hem_!" said Barnum. "No--no. It's no matter. You needn't--no--we
won't say anything about it. It's all right. You'll do. You can run
alone, I guess. _I believe I don't spell my name right!_
Good-by--good-by."

I haven't seen friend Barnum since.

At this exhibition of poultry I managed to show a pair of my pure-bred
Suffolk pigs, too, which did not set me back any. I took numerous orders
for these animals, and I have given on page 174 what passes for a
likeness of a fancy "Shanghae" fowl, such as we "read of in the
newspapers," and which everybody, during the last five years, imagined
he was buying, when he ordered "such," after seeing the "pictur'."

In this class of illustration, there was quite as much deceit and
chicanery practised, commonly, as in any part of the general system of
the humbug. The uninitiated saw the well-rounded forms of the huge fowls
or hogs he sought, in his weekly agricultural journal, from time to
time; and, through the same channel, he met with "portraits,"
represented to have had originals at some time or other, and which were
said to be in the possession of this or that breeder, who "had been
induced, after earnest solicitation, to part with a very few choice
samples," out of such imaginary stock. With the _swine_, the thicker the
ham, the smaller the feet, the shorter the nose, and the thinner the
hair, the better and the _purer_ blooded pig you got, for instance!

The following is a sample of this kind of guy, which has had its run in
the past three years, and upon which tens of thousands of dollars have
been squandered by enthusiastic admirers of these bloated bladders of
lard. This is _supposed_ to be a likeness of the "genuine" Suffolk pig.

[Illustration: SUFFOLK PIG.]

The good old lady replied, when asked if she loved the Lord, "I donno
much about him, but I hain't nothin' agin him!" So I affirm in reference
to this hog. But one thing I may be permitted to remark in this
connection; to wit, that the more pure Suffolk _pigs_ there are, the
less _corn_ you find round. That's all!



CHAPTER XXXI.

A SUPPRESSED SPEECH.


The following remarks, on the occasion referred to, were neither
published at the time, nor would the "Committee on Printing" admit them
into the official report of the proceedings of this _national_ show. For
what reason, I am utterly unable to determine. These were the author's
sentiments, and I give the speech a place _here_, because I have no idea
of being thus "headed" by my colleagues in that enterprise. This speech
was delivered by the Young 'Un "with emphasis and discretion;" but the
managers suppressed it. I now submit it, in the hope that it will be
duly appreciated. When called upon, I said, as modestly and as
gracefully as I knew how:

     "MR. PRESIDENT: _Vox populi, vox Dei!_ The people assembled within
     the classic and well-painted walls of your American Museum call
     upon me for a few words of encouragement; and, while I assure you I
     find myself totally unprepared to speak (though my present address
     has been written some four weeks), I cheerfully respond to the
     flattering demonstration that greets me on this electrifying
     occasion." (Applause, and waving of hats and handkerchiefs.)

     "I am but an humble disciple in this profession, Mr. President, and
     know very little of the deceit and chicanery that _some_ persons
     charge others with practising in the ramifications of the
     hen-trade; and, although it has been said that 'what I don't know
     about this part of the business wouldn't be worth much to anybody,'
     yet I here solemnly disclaim any superhuman or supernatural
     knowledge of the tricks of this laudable and highly respectable
     calling." (Cries of "Good, good! You're an injured man! Go on!")

     "For six years, Mr. President, I have carefully watched the
     progress of this disease, and it really warms the recesses of my
     heart to find myself surrounded, as I do to-day, by the highly
     honorable and respectable throng of gentlemen who now grace this
     rostrum,--yourself, Mr. President, prominent among this galaxy of
     talent, education, genius, morality, and thrift!" (Immense
     applause, during which the speaker removed his outside coat.)

     "The day is auspicious, Mr. Barnum,--I beg pardon--Mr. _President_.
     The spirit of liberty,--of American liberty,--sir, is abroad! To be
     sure, our valued friends who pretend to Know Nothing (and whose
     pretensions none of here, I think, will gainsay) have commenced an
     onslaught upon almost everything of foreign extraction; but they
     kindly permit us to import Chinese _fowls_, and allow us to breed
     them--for the present, at least--without interruption; for which I
     trust they may receive a unanimous vote of thanks from this
     American _National_ Poultry Society." ("Yes, yes!" followed this
     allusion, with hearty cheers.)

     "I repeat it, sir,--the times are auspicious. Money is a drug in
     the market, plainly. The patronage bestowed upon this show (in
     which, Mr. President, I am sure your native modesty and national
     patriotism cannot suffer you to feel the slightest _personal_
     interest) is evidence of this fact. The prices paid here, in 1854,
     for domestic fowls--though so clearly below their actual
     value!--supports this assertion: and your own entire lack of
     backwardness in coming forward to assume the risk and
     responsibility of the expenses of this exhibition is the crowning
     proof that _l'argent_ is plenty--somewhere, at least. I have no
     disposition, Mr. President,--far be it from me--Heaven forbid that
     I should attempt--to offer one word of flattery, that you might, by
     any possibility, appropriate personally. No, sir,--I am no such
     man! But, if ever there was an individual whose pure-bred
     disinterestedness, whose incomparable generosity, whose astonishing
     sacrifice of self, stuck out like a sore thumb, these attributes
     have now been evinced, beyond the shadow of a shade of question, on
     this exhilarating occasion, through the astounding liberality of a
     gentleman, the initials of whose name are Finnyous Tee Barman!"
     (Immense applause, during which the Young 'Un laid aside his
     dress-coat, and took off his cravat,--while the President, with
     both hands over his face, sat overpowered with his emotions.)

     "Mr. President, I am no clap-trap orator. I shall say what I have
     to say, sir, to-day, without any hope or aim towards future reward.
     To be sure, I have the originals of the finest-blooded fowls in the
     land, and nobody disputes it; and I have now a fine lot here to
     dispose of; but this is not the time or place to allude to this
     matter; and I will only say that I do not charge so much for them
     as many breeders do, while, at the same time, mine are very much
     finer and purer than anybody else's, as can readily be seen upon
     examining the contents of my cages, in the first room below this
     hall, on the right-hand side as you enter the building. The people,
     sir, are in search of information on this interesting subject; and
     I will only add, gentlemen,--call as you pass out, and judge for
     yourselves." (Loud cries of "We will!--we will!" "That's true!"
     "That's a fact!" "Your fame is firmly established!")

     "Mr. President, I have been too long a resident of these United
     States--I am too old a citizen of this enlightened country--to be
     ignorant of the true character of the American people. I am a
     Yankee, sir! My father was a Yankee, and my grandfather (if I ever
     had one, sir), before him. 'The people' know what they are about.
     You cannot deceive _them_, sir, as you and I well know. When they
     undertake a thing, it must go forward. There's no stopping them,
     sir. They enter into any enterprise that promises so much of
     universal success to the whole country as does this business of
     poultry-raising, with a rush, sir! And they carry out their
     objects,--_nil disperandum hic jacit est glorii mundi morning_,
     sir,--as the poet remarks." (Hurra! Hurra! "Three cheers for
     Burnham," suggested the President, which were given with a will;
     and during which the speaker removed his vest and
     braces,--carefully securing his watch, however, at the same time.)

     "We are not here to be humbugged, sir, nor do we aspire to humbug
     anybody, at this exhibition;--a performance which would be rather
     difficult to effect, in my humble judgment, even if we did! We come
     here to show the people what has been done, what is now doing, and
     what may be done again, sir, by our friends here, all of them and
     any of them, who choose to undertake the pleasing and delightful
     task of rearing _pure_-bred fowls. And, should there now be within
     the sound of my voice any lady or gentleman who has never seen the
     tiny Shanghae chick as it emerged from its delicate prison-shell
     and leaped forth into liberty and the glorious sunlight,--should
     any one of my listeners never have enjoyed the dulcet tone of that
     chicken's tender 'peep,'--if any of you are strangers to the habits
     and beauties and innocence of these rare but graceful birds,--if
     you have never listened to the melody of their musical crow, from
     youth to green old age,--I will only say, procure some of the
     genuine specimens, and there is much of joy and happiness yet in
     store for yourselves, your wives, your children, or your
     friends,--if you chance to have any." (Applause, and marked
     sensation.)

     "Mr. President, I am no speech-maker. Had I, for one moment,
     supposed that _I_ should have been thought of, by this talented and
     well-informed audience, I should not have been present here, I
     assure you. But, sir, my fame preceded me here. I'm a poor but
     honest man; and modesty, sir, that native modesty which so
     preeminently characterizes your own composition, Mr. President (had
     I suspected that I should have been called upon), would have
     prompted me to have left to others the pleasing task of speaking of
     me and mine. Still, if my friends '_will_ buckle fortune on my
     back, whether I will or no,' I can only say that I feel impressed
     that the duty and moral obligations I owe to society compel me to
     submit to the burthen, with the best possible grace at my humble
     command." (Deep sensation among the audience; the ladies, for the
     most part, in tears.)

     "But, sir, the future is before us! The brilliant star of fortune
     still shines in the distance, for the encouragement of those who
     have not yet availed themselves of the splendid promise that awaits
     the men who are yet to come after us, to do as _we_ have done! And,
     to those who are now about to undertake the commendable occupation
     of attempting to breed 'fancy poultry,' I will only say, 'Go on,
     gentlemen! Forward, in your delightfully pleasing and
     profit-promising ambition! Purchase none but the best stock,
     without regard to price; and _breed_ it (if you can!). Everybody
     wants to buy,--everybody _will_ buy,--and the hens that lay the
     golden eggs are still for sale, within the sound of my voice
     (unless they have all been bought up since I entered this hall).
     But there are still a few more left, I have no doubt, gentlemen;
     and, I charge you, seize them while you may!'"

A general stampede followed my speech. I secured my clothes, and, for
three hours afterwards, I found it impossible to get within fifty feet
of my show-cages, in consequence of the throng of purchasers that
crowded around them!

There must have been some charm about those magical coops of mine. They
were filled and refilled, twenty times over; but they were as often
emptied, and at singularly gratifying prices, both to buyer and seller.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A "CONFIDENCE" MAN.


Towards the close of this show in New York, a somewhat noted
cattle-breeder (who was then absent in England) wrote home to an agent
in this country, directing him to secure all the Grey Shanghaes
obtainable, and further to contract for the raising of hundreds or
thousands more, to be delivered during the following season.

At this late day, such an undertaking appeared (to the initiated) to
exhibit a most extraordinary confidence in the reality of the hen-trade;
but, to those who "had been there," it was very amusing to witness the
new-born zeal of this curiously verdant purchaser, who invested so large
an amount of money, in 1854, in this hum!

The most extravagant prices were paid by this person for Grey fowls, and
large orders were given by the agent, to different breeders, in New
England, for future supplies. Several hundred birds were then purchased,
at rates varying from four or five dollars to fifty dollars _each_; and
finally some twenty cages were filled, and consigned to London, to be
disposed of (as it was supposed) at enormous figures.

This speculation was a total failure. The fowls were inferior, and sick,
and worthless. An auction sale followed quickly upon their arrival in
England, the proceeds of which failed to pay even their freight and
expenses out from this country; and the "confidential" proprietor of the
stock, who had not the slightest conception of the details of the trade,
was the loser of hundreds of dollars by this foolish and reckless
undertaking.

But his contracts with home breeders, who had raised for him one
hundred, three hundred, or five hundred pairs of chickens, each, were
yet in _statu quo_! Two or three thousand Grey chickens were awaiting
this confident gentleman's orders, and in the mean time were devouring
huge quantities of corn and meal, then ranging at from a dollar to a
dollar and ten cents a bushel!

Sales were merely nominal; buyers of fancy fowls were _no_whar; grain
continued on the rise; the chickens grew longer in the legs and necks,
and devoured more corn than ever; cold weather approached, and the
breeders had no conveniences for housing these thousands of monsters;
and finally the victims became importunate.

The contractor didn't want the fowls. Of course he didn't. He had "put
his foot into it" with a vengeance! But the parties who had raised
these birds "to order" insisted upon the fulfilment of the contractor's
promise to take them, at four, six and eight months old.

But the confident gentleman, who, in the spring of 1854, had made up his
mind that the "hen fever had but just then made its appearance, in
fact," _now_ discovered that the bottom had been shaky for a
twelvemonth, at the least, and had at length fallen out altogether!

The folly of this enterprise was apparent to every fowl-raiser in New
England, from the outset. But this man knew what he was about,--so he
declared,--and he scouted the advice of those who, from long experience,
were able to instruct and advise him better. It was but a single
instance of its kind, however, and it served, for the time being, to aid
in keeping up the excitement of the humbug which had cost so many men
before him large sums of money, and months of labor and care, without
the slightest subsequent compensation.

By the fall of 1854, the price of this "fancy stock" began to
approximate towards its intrinsic level, somewhat, in consequence of its
being thus overdone; and very fair birds were offered for five to seven
dollars the pair, with but few purchasers.

In England, the fever had subsided. During the spring and summer, my own
sales for that market had been continuously, and without any abatement,
extremely liberal; but the prospect suddenly became clouded--the demand
fell off--and I saw that the gate was about to be shut down.

The jig was nearly up, evidently, in December, 1854. In all the suburban
towns of this state, and more especially throughout the entire length
and breadth of Rhode Island and Connecticut, immense numbers of the
Chinese varieties of fowls were being bred; and I saw, months before,
that the market must of necessity be glutted, to the full, in the winter
that was then approaching. Many of the experienced fanciers still clung
to the hope that the trade would rally again, however,--but I was
satisfied that the engine-bell had rung for the last time, and that the
train was already now on the move.

[Illustration: A "PURE-BRED" SPECIMEN, IMPORTED FROM BRIGHTON.]



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE ESSENCE OF HUMBUG.


During this and the previous years, some of the older fanciers and
breeders had resorted to the most fulsome and nonsensical style of
advertisements, to push off their stock upon the unguarded. No quality
of superlative goodness, known or unknown, that could be described in
the English language (either by means of "communications" through the
public prints, or by ordinary forms of advertising), was omitted to be
proclaimed by the owners of fancy stock, in order to force off upon the
credulous or the uninitiated their "newly-imported" stuff, and its
progeny.

High-sounding but most ridiculous titles were given, by the nominal
"importers," to their live stock; and the public were asked to purchase
"Hong-Kong" fowls, "Bengal Eagle" chickens, "Wild Indian Mountain" hens,
"Whang-tongs," "Quittaquongs," "Hoang-Hos," "Paduas," etc.; and the
following advertisement appeared, finally, to cap the climax of this
inexpressibly stupid nonsense. It was printed in an agricultural
monthly, issued somewhere in western New York, and it ran as follows:

     "MORMANN & HUMM, Importers and Exporters of, and Dealers in, all
     breeds and varieties of Blooded Live Stock, Big Falls, N.S. Messrs.
     Mormann and Humm are now perfecting their arrangements for
     _importing_ from Europe and Asia all the best breeds of Horses,
     Cattle, Hogs, Dogs, Sheep, Rabbits, Goats, Fowls, &c. &c., and for
     _exporting_ Buffalo, Elk, Deer, Moose, Badgers, Bears, Foxes,
     Swifts, Eagles, Swans, Pelicans, Cranes, Loons, &c. &c. They will
     keep on hand, as near as may be, all the best Blooded Animals and
     Fowls--gallinaceous and aquatic--fancy and substantial--which they
     will furnish to their numerous patrons in Europe and America at
     reasonable rates. All orders should be directed to Big Falls, N.S.,
     until otherwise notified.

     "Also, they have imported the finest and only PTARMAGINS ever
     introduced into the United States. These surprisingly beautiful
     fowls are direct from the original stock. The Ptarmagins--white in
     winter and ash-colored in summer--booted and tufted--are the most
     unique of domestic fowls. They will supply orders for Ptarmagin
     chickens; also, Hoang-Hos, Imperials, Falcon-hocked Cochins, (!)
     and a large variety of Improved Suffolks and other fine hogs, from
     the choice stocks of His Royal Highness Prince Albert, His Grace
     the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Wenlock, the Earl of Radnor, late Earl
     of Ducie, Rev. Mr. Thursby, Mr. Garbanati, &c. &c. Also some choice
     Chinese Mandarin and Siamese hogs, &c. &c. &c."

In this same pamphlet, appeared the annexed communication (in the form
of a letter to the nominal publisher), which will explain itself,
probably, to those who are acquainted with its hifalutin author. It was
a rich "card," in the estimation of the "boys," at the time of its
first appearance, though nobody ever saw this extraordinary beast or its
progeny, I imagine:

                            Chinese Mandarin Hogs.

                                                "_----, Nov. 7, 1854._

     "FRIEND M----:

     "We have just purchased the lot of _Chinese Mandarin Swine_,
     imported, &c. &c. &c....

     "This is the best breed of China hogs, and are great favorites with
     the inhabitants, _the meat being remarkably tender and
     fine-flavored_. At maturity they weigh from fifteen to eighteen
     score, and are very prolific.

     "The head and face of these animals very closely resemble an
     elephant, both as to the appearance of the skin and ears, and the
     number and depth of facial fissures; perfectly unique, and
     strikingly oriental in capital aspect.

     "The neck is longer than that of anything of the hog race,
     imparting a most singular appearance to the proportions of the
     whole animal.

     "These Chinese hogs are entirely different from anything of the
     sort ever imported into this country before, and are the most
     prolific of the swine race. The imported sow and each of the
     sow-pigs have _eighteen_ well-developed dugs. The number of
     well-defined dugs is always the best _prima facie_ evidence of
     prolificness in any animal.

     "The bodies of these hogs are shaped like the _white_ Berkshire
     breed of England. They take on fat with remarkable rapidity, and,
     in color, though not so spotted as the leopard, these hogs are
     beautifully striated, the body spotted like polished alabaster and
     ebony, checkered and rounded most exquisitely.

     "We shall have an engraving of these animals for the northern
     agricultural papers, and one of the great English periodicals.

                                  "Yours, truly,

                                                         "---- & ----."

The editor adds, cautiously, "The importers are gentlemen of strict
probity and honor, so far as our knowledge extends; but, in these
hurrying times, when the public excitement is up on any kind of stock, a
man _may_ import and sell worthless animals, to a great extent, before a
reaction can take place."

Now, this sort of mush and moonshine very soon nauseated upon the
stomachs of "the people," even; who ordinarily can (and will) patiently
submit to a vast deal of mummery. But when such palpable bosh as this is
placed before them, they are apt to dodge all association with it and
its clearly-expressed humbuggery; and so the tide now very quickly began
to turn against the trade. "Brahmas," and "Quittaquong" fowls, and
"Mandarin" pigs, proved too threatening a dose for the masses! They
hadn't time to spell out the names of such stock--to say nothing of
purchasing it, at round figures, and attempting to _breed_ it
afterwards.

What those men imagined they could possibly effect by this sort of
ridiculous nonsense, I am unable to conceive of. Yet it was put forth in
sober earnest; and scores of similar advertisements filled the papers,
from time to time--each having for its object the continuous gulling of
the "dear people," each in its own peculiar way.

And for years--up to this period--the star-gazing, wonder-loving,
humbug-seeking portion of the community,--the mass who fill every
corner of the land, and who watch for something continuously "new under
the sun," out of which money can be made,--I say, for years, this
portion of the public believed what they saw and read of, and responded
to this sort of thing with a gusto equalled only by the zest with which,
in years before, they had encouraged and supported the score of other
"hums" that had been current around them.

But the delusions of morus multicaulis, and Merino sheep, and patent
bee-keeping, and Berkshire pigs, and tulip-growing, had passed away; and
the hen fever, at last, subsided, too. Unpronounceable names and
long-winded advertisements wouldn't do! "The people" had ascertained
that there was an end even to Shanghae and Brahma-ism! And this
flimsiest of _all_ bubbles was now inflated fully to bursting.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A TRUMP CARD.


Not to be beaten by this sort of thing (since the columns of certain
friendly journals were still open to me), I adopted the style of
advertising then current; and soon after the articles noted in the last
chapter made their appearance in the "agricultural" paper alluded to,
the following letter from the Young 'Un was published in the New York
_Spirit of the Times_, upon the subject of live stock generally, and
what _I_ had for sale particularly.

     "UNCLE PORTER:

     "During the last few years, I have turned my attention to
     trafficking in stock (as you may _possibly_ already be aware). Not
     copper stock, or Reading, or Hoosac Tunnel, or similar
     'bores,'--but in _live_ stock; to wit, living stock. As is usual in
     this great and free country, other people have got to doing the
     same kind of business, since it has been now found to 'pay;' and
     who's a better right?

     "_I_ desire, at the commencement of the new year, through the
     _Spirit_, to call the attention of such of _your_ friends (as you
     cannot supply readily) to my present assortment of _ominus_,
     omnivorous, carnivorous, graminivorous and bipederous
     specimens--which I have imported from Europe, Asia, Africa,
     Oceanica, South America, and _other_ places; and consisting, _in
     part_, of the following, namely:

     "All the best and choicest breeds and varieties of horses, cattle,
     swine, dogs, cats, sheep, rabbits, goats, fowls, pigeons, rats,
     catamounts, hyenas, alligators, cormorants, kangaroos, grizzly
     bears, antelopes, envelopes, llamas, lam'ems, jaguars, fox and
     geese, kinkajous, petrel, periwinkles, long-tailed rabbits, Nubian
     fennecs, red eagles, condors, hooded ducks and hood-winked drakes,
     swifts, sloes (intended for 'fast' men and old 'fogies'), chamois,
     armadilloes, wingless emus, beadles, crabs, cranes, coons (bred
     from 'that same old 'un'), white zebras, macaws, catspaws,
     cantelopes, carbuncles and shuttle-sewing machines.

     "I also have, for _exporting_, a splendid assortment of buffalo,
     elk, deer, moose, bears, cranes, owls, badgers, woodchucks, swans,
     pelicans, gulls (genuine), rattle-snakes (domesticated), fighting
     hen-turkeys (from Iowa), larks (from Nauvoo), and a superior
     assortment of _fishes_, of every conceivable size, color and
     variety, which are warranted to live out of the water, in any
     climate. In short, I will keep on hand all the best 'blooded'
     animals, fowls, quadrupeds, fishes, reptiles, insects and
     birds,--be they gallinaceous, aquatic, aërial, fancy, substantial,
     good, bad or indifferent, that may be had; which I will furnish to
     my numerous friends, patrons, and the rest of mankind, in Europe,
     Asia, Africa or America, at all hours of the day or night (Sundays
     excepted); and at prices so reasonable that Christendom shall 'vote
     me' a philanthropist, or no sale.

     "Among my most recently received samples, I beg especially to call
     the attention of fanciers, amateurs and breeders, to a 'vaggin-load
     of monkeys, vith their tails burned off,' which I warrant will not
     frighten the most skittish of horses. A crate of she-basilisks, of
     most virtuous exteriors, and with eyes as large as saucers. Eleven
     pet elephants (intended to have been offered to Mr. Barnum, but who
     informs me that he has done breeding them, on account of the high
     price of provender). One pair of red ostriches,--supposed to be the
     original progenitors of the famous 'Cochin-China' race of poultry.
     (The male has a 'horse-shoe mark' upon his breast, described by
     certain modern authors on poultry. Unluckily for this theory,
     however, I happen to know that this individual was kicked by a mare
     of mine, while the beauty was skulking behind her, and attempting
     to rob her of the corn she was eating from her crib.) I have a trio
     of very healthy walruses, from Norway, that will eat snowballs from
     your hand. Also, a brace of young mastodons, very docile, and as
     easily kept, _almost_, as a trio of 'Brahma Pootras.' Three _green_
     swans (delightfully green), that never seek for or approach the
     water; supposed not yet to have learned to swim. I have also in my
     collection a family of very curious chameleons (believed to be),
     but none of which are supplied with the usual caudal extremity
     yclept _a tail_.

     "My friend Durivage--who, as you are aware, is now in the Boston
     Custom-house, and whose opinion, consequently, isn't worth
     much--examined this family, and at once pronounced them hop-toads!
     But I don't mind _his_ jokes. _You_ must see them. They are
     beautiful creatures, and '_do_ live on air,' I assure you; I have
     seen them do it frequently, without changing color. Dr. Bennett, of
     Fort des Moines, has recently sent me a fine male porcupine,--a
     nice little fellow to handle, so long as you rub his feathers the
     right way,--which I purpose to cross upon my Chinese Mandarin sow,
     at a future day, for experiment. In addition to all these, I have,
     of _fowls_, the Mum-chums, Hong-Kongs, Whamphoas, Quittaquongs,
     Hoanghos, Brama-pooters, Damphules,
     Rocky-mountain-Indian-wharhoops, Nincompoops, etc., and an endless
     variety of white blackbirds, sleeping weasels, very fine mules (for
     breeding), fan-tail tumblers and tumbling fantails, no-woolled
     sheep, etc. etc., and so forth.

     "The principal object of this communication, however, is _not_ to
     particularize my stock, but rather to call attention to my new
     breed of Hogs, which I have lately imported; and of which I send
     you a striking likeness herewith. I call it the Chinese Mandarin
     Hog.

[Illustration: THE CHINESE MANDARIN HOG.--(See page 234.)]

     "The drawing of this very faithful and life-like picture--copies of
     which I have already forwarded to _Punch_, the Paris _Charivari_,
     etc.--was executed by Phizz; the engraving is by Quizz; the
     portraits are perfect.

     "This breed of hogs is most extraordinary; and has been pronounced
     of great value for their beautiful model (see portrait), and easy
     fattening qualities. Their meat is also remarkably tender and
     fine-flavored, as can be proved by several gentlemen in this
     country, although this is the _first_ hog of the kind ever brought
     here, and she is now alive! As you will note in the drawing, the
     head and face of these hogs (supposing it possible that another
     could be found on God's footstool of the same kind) very closely
     resemble an elephant; perfectly unique, and strikingly oriental in
     capital aspect. (Which, if you do not understand, I can only say is
     plain English, and I must again refer you to the picture.) There is
     another singular feature, you will probably have observed (allowing
     that you are somewhat acquainted with the _ordinary_ formation of
     animals), and that is, that the trunk of this animal is upon the
     wrong extremity; but it answers, apparently, a very good purpose
     for a tail, as will be noted. True, the neck is longer than that of
     any hogs ever seen here, imparting a singular appearance; but it is
     a long lane that has no turn in it, and so _n'importe_ on this
     point.

     "This is the most _prolific_ of the whole swine race. There never
     was one in America before, but this point is settled. She has
     eighteen dugs (see portrait), and learned doctors inform us that
     the number of dugs (teats) is always evidence of prolificness. The
     bodies of these hogs are like the _white_ 'Berkshires' of England
     (admitting that the white and the black Berkshires have
     different-shaped _bodies_). In color, though not so spotted as the
     leopard, these hogs are beautifully striated, like polished
     alabaster and ebony, checkered and rounded (see drawing) most
     exquisitely, like a slice of mouldy sage cheese.

     "P.S. Although I am now short--or shall be, in the spring--full
     eleven thousand pairs of pigs, from this sow (to fill present
     orders), yet I will undertake to furnish a few more to gentlemen
     who may fancy them, at the advanced price,--seven-and-sixpence per
     pair. (I have no _boar_ of this breed, but that is immaterial.)

     "N.B. I have frequently been asked to account for the singular
     facial appearance of this sow; but I can only do so, satisfactorily
     to myself, upon the theory of my friend Jacob, of old; that, _at
     some time or other_, her mother must have 'seen the elephant'!

     "***The other figures in the accompanying drawing are likenesses,
     also from life, of my harmless and beautiful 'Bramerpootrers.' They
     are very fond of little children (see picture) and I send to my
     uncle William Porter, herewith, as a New Year's Gift to our mutual
     friend, Solon Robinson, a very fine sample, with the gentle hint
     that if he keeps his 'Hot Corn' as far out of this fellow's reach
     as it has thus far been out of mine, it will be perfectly safe.

     "==>All orders for my famous 'Bramerpootrers,' or my imported
     'Chinese Mandarin Hogs,' etc., must be put in water-proof condition,
     post-paid, endorsed by the collector of this port, and sent, by Adams
     & Co.'s Express, to Niagara Falls, until I conclude to remove to Salt
     Lake, Nebraska, or 'elsewhere,' of which due notice will be given
     (provided I don't decide to 'step out' between two days). _Adios!_

                                  "Yours,

                                                     "_The_ YOUNG 'UN.

          "_Boston, Jan., 1854._"

Now, the above letter explains itself fairly, upon its face; yet--would
it be believed?--I actually received four or five sober (I _presume_ the
writers were sober) letters of inquiry, relating to the "curious and
remarkable Chinese Mandarin Hog in my possession," immediately after the
above article appeared in the _Spirit_! Such are the knowledge and
acquirements of "the people," in certain quarters, upon the subject of
live stock!



CHAPTER XXXV.

"HOLD YOUR HORSES."


My competitors in the hen-trade, by this time, had got to be exceedingly
active and zealous, though they rarely indulged in personalities towards
me, at all. Generous, disinterested, liberal, kind-hearted, valiant men!
Providence will reward you all, I have no doubt, _some day or other_!

The following article, which appeared in a "respectable" agricultural
sheet (which, though I was solicited so to do, I neither subscribed for
nor advertised in), I offer here as a sample of the puffs that were
extended to me for five years, by the small-fry humbugs whom I rarely
condescended to notice. This "elegant extract" appeared in a northern
_Farmer_:

     "We did suppose that the strait-jacket we fitted to this fellow
     (Burnham) would be worn by him, but it appears that, on reading our
     article relative to his movements in England in regard to Grey
     Shanghae fowls, he cast it off, and made an attempt to put us _hors
     du combat_, in his usual style.

     "But we must say that his pretensions to being an '_importer_' of
     these fowls, to having the '_original_' stock, to being the
     importer of the fowls he sent to England, is the greatest deception
     that ever came under our observation. But this is only in character
     with the general transactions of the man. In his dealings generally
     he seems to have had no other object in view but to _get all he
     could for his fowls_, with no regard to their _merits_. This is
     shown by a letter of his, which we have in our possession, written
     in 1852 to Dr. Bennett, in which he uses the following language, in
     regard to fowls: 'Anything that will _sell_,--bah!'

     "We will take the liberty to digress a moment, to make a few
     remarks on his penchant for the use of the expression '_bah!_'
     which is his common habit in correspondence. When Burnham was a
     loafer at large, previous to his _foul_ speculations, it is said
     that he was very fond of _mutton_; and as many a fat lamb was
     missed in the vicinity where he resided, it was more than suspected
     that he knew what became of them. Whether this be so or not, it
     seems that '_bah_' is ever escaping from his lips, a judgment, as
     it were, for the alleged iniquity of disturbing the nocturnal peace
     of that quiet animal....

     "Now, friend Burnham, do be civil and _honest_. Your having sold
     'premium' Cochins all over the country, with the _real_ 'premium'
     fowls in your own yard, will soon be forgotten, and you may yet be
     considered a clever, honest fellow; but you _must_ stop pretending
     to be an 'importer' of fowls."

I was thus charged with putting my "friend" _hors du combat_, with lying
generally, with sheep-stealing, with selling "premium" fowls over and
over again, as well as with striving _to get all I could for my
poultry_,--this _last_ offence being the most heinous of all! But, as I
lived (as I supposed I should) to see this cub and his allies on their
knees to me (as I could show, if I desired to do so, now), I did not
mind these first-rate notices. They were most decidedly of _miner_
consideration in my esteem, when I thought how "the people" crowded
around me to obtain eggs or samples of my famed "imported," "superior,"
"magnificent" and "never-to-be-too-much-lauded" pure-bred fowls!

In the official Report upon the first New York show, the Committee of
Judges there state that, "though they have been governed by the
nomenclature of the list, they by no means assent to it as a proper
classification. _Shanghae_ and _Cochin-China_ are convertible terms, and
Brahma Pootra is a name for a sub-variety of Shanghaes, of great size
and beauty. White _Calcuttas_ and _Hong-Kongs_ were not on exhibition.
Believing them to be inferior specimens of White and Black Shanghaes, it
is likely that we would not have awarded them premiums, if found. In
lieu thereof, we have assigned several additional second premiums for
_Brahma Shanghaes_.

"For the sake of simplicity, we would recommend that _all_ thorough-bred
large Asiatic fowls be classed under the name of _Shanghae_, to be
further designated by their color; and, inasmuch as these shows are
intended not solely for the aggrandizement of breeders, but for the
purpose of converting 'Henology' into a science, we would earnestly
suggest that all ridiculous, unmeaning _aliases_ be abandoned, and a
simple, intelligible and truthful classification strictly observed."
After quoting this, the writer above alluded to objects to the
recommendation to call _all_ Asiatic fowls _Shanghaes_, notwithstanding
the action of the Committees of the National Society. He insists:

     "This is a ridiculous affair, and we call on fowl-breeders to
     _veto_ this nonsense at the outset. Just imagine what a ridiculous
     figure breeders would cut in calling their fowls '_Brahma_
     Shanghaes,' '_Chittagong_ Shanghaes,' &c.! Why this desire to
     overturn _established_ names? It arises from a _prejudice_ against
     the _name_ 'Brahma Pootra,' and a desire to _put down_ that popular
     breed. Again: _Who_ are the gentlemen who recommend such a course?
     Why don't they give their _names_? These 'recommendations' and
     'resolutions' are no more the act of the _National Poultry Society_
     than of the Emperor of Russia! Where were the _forty_ MANAGERS when
     the above 'resolution' was passed? _We_, as _one_, were not there;
     and we learn that not over _three_ out of the entire number were
     present, and that the resolution was passed by _outsiders_, and,
     perhaps, influenced to do so by G.P. Burnham, of '_Grey Shanghae_'
     notoriety."

This clown even "regrets that he did not attend this show;" as if it
would have made a difference in the result! Well, well!--the impudence
and ignorance of some people really astound us, at times! He says "some
of the best Brahma Pootra fowls were entered 'Chittagongs.' Now, we
declare emphatically that the desire on the part of certain breeders to
class the _Brahmas_ as identical with the _Chittagong_ fowl is absurd;
and we assert that no man can produce any evidence that the Brahmas are
identical with Chittagongs, beyond the fact that many breeders have
produced mongrels, by crossing Brahmas with Chittagongs, and now seek to
amalgamate the two breeds."

Who ever wished to "produce any evidence" on this subject, pray? "The
people" wanted _fowls_; they never sought for "evidence," man! The
breeder who could "produce" fowls was the man to succeed in the
hen-trade. As you never did this, and only bought and sold wretched
mongrels, with long names, you never succeeded. And "the people" said,
"Served you right!"

This sapient editor then declares that he "doubts the ability of any
_Poultry_ Society to maintain its existence _permanently_, for the
reason that such societies will, sooner or later, degenerate into mere
_speculating_ cliques, and the premiums will become a matter of
_barter_, or a matter of _favor_ to particular men, like the operations
of our government."

Is it possible! When did you discover this extraordinary and singular
fact, my dear sir? Not until the close of the year 1854! After the cars
had long since passed by, and the fun was over, effectually and forever,
in this country. Your warning was valuable, indeed! The colt had left
the stable, and you _now_ come to fasten the door! O, chief of prophets
in Henology! how much "the people" owe you for your advice and foresight
in this hum!

This writer finally thus wriggles over the action of the "National"
Society at New York, which knocked his "Bother'ems" on the head so
effectually, substituting their true name (the "Grey Shanghaes") for
this ridiculously assumed cognomen. He continues:

     "The most absurd thing which came under our observation at the fair
     was the _classification_ of certain fowls. There were the beautiful
     white Brahmas, with pencilled neck hackles, placed by the side of
     fowls of an owl or hawk color, and both classed '_Grey Shanghaes_!'
     How long will a few old fogies thus stultify themselves? Many
     exhibitors were highly displeased with this absurdity. They who
     think that the name of Brahma fowls can be changed to 'Grey
     Shanghaes' have entirely mistaken their ability to make such an
     innovation. What did all the nonsense in the resolutions passed at
     the National Poultry Show in New York about the nomenclature of
     fowls effect? Just nothing at all."

Indeed! Didn't it? Is it possible? You don't say so! My dear friend, you
have a great deal to learn yet; and I here advise you, affectionately
and lovingly, and with an ardent desire for your present and future
good, to--"hold your horses!"



CHAPTER XXXVI.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE.


Poultry exhibitions had been or were now being held all over the
country. In the New England States, in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Maryland and Virginia, numerous fairs had come off, at which the
customary competition among breeders of fancy poultry had been duly
shown; and for a time, yet, out of Massachusetts, the fever still raged,
though with comparative abatement.

It was now a common thing, and certain men were in the habit of visiting
the express offices, and examining coops of fowls, and taking the names
of the persons to whom they were directed, and then writing them that
they would furnish such fowls at a much cheaper rate. This occurred,
generally, while the stock was _en route_ to its destination; but it
never disturbed _me_.

Among the Rhode Islanders (who, by the way, generally speaking, have
raised the best of all the Chinese varieties of fowls, for five years
past) a feeling of desperate rivalry had grown up. At the Providence
shows, many of the choicest specimens ever seen among us were exhibited
and disposed of at high rates. But the management of the fairs there was
not satisfactory to certain breeders, who, unfortunately, and naturally,
drove rather "too slow coaches" to keep pace with a few of the leaders
in the traffic there, as will be seen by the following _exposé_, which I
find in the shape of an advertisement in the _Woonsocket Patriot_:

In a report published subsequently to this State Fair in Rhode Island,
the Committee on Poultry at the exhibition held there in the fall of
1854 awarded their first premium to the _chairman_ of the committee. The
second premium was awarded to another man, who had just as good fowls,
probably, but who wasn't smart enough to "keep up" with his competitor.
The person who came out thus second-best, only, at once charged, through
the public prints, that an attempt had been made by the chairman thus
"to hoodwink the public" in their future purchases (which was very
likely, because it was a very common matter). The injured party says, in
his published "card,"--

     "No doubt Mr. C---- was ready to grasp at the appointment as the
     committee, and he was progressing in the examination, when I
     remonstrated, and had two other men added to the committee with
     him, supposing that justice would then be administered to the
     parties concerned. But Mr. C---- was determined to have the sole
     arrangement of the report, contending with the other two upwards of
     five hours, aggrandizing to himself the first premium, and then
     affixing to the committee's report the name of Mr. A----, instead
     of his own, to deceive the public, that he was not interested. Mr.
     C---- intended that justice should not be done his competitor, by
     withholding his right as to the first premium; and I challenge him
     to an impartial exhibition of the poultry (although some of his
     number were borrowed), for the sum of one hundred dollars, to be
     decided by three disinterested men."

Another member of this committee then states that, "being one of the
Committee on Poultry at the late State Fair, held in Providence, R.I.,
and having seen the report of the same, I feel it my duty to say that
such was _not_ the decision of the committee. Two were in favor of
giving to ---- the _first_ premium; as we could not agree, we decided to
award a premium of _twelve dollars_ to ----, also the same to Mr. C----,
provided each were represented equal in the report."

Now, this was a very trifling affair to trouble the public with, yet it
shows "how the thing was done." Mr. C---- had a happy way of "laying 'em
all out," when _I_ was not in the field. If the advertisements "to the
public" were paid for duly (and I presume they were), I have no doubt
the public are satisfied; and Mr. ----, the injured party, must keep his
eyes open tight, if he trains in company with experienced hen-men. This
is but "a part of the system," man!

Now, as this sort of thing was of very common occurrence among the
hucksters who kept the hen-trade alive, for years, this was in nowise a
matter of astonishment to the "hard heads" in the business. The only
wonder was that the man who performed _this_ trifling trick did not
carry out the dodge more effectually, and bear away _all_ the premiums
in a similar manner, as had been done by some of his smarter
predecessors!

The editor of a New York journal undertook as follows to "inform the
public" (in 1854) of a little performance in kind, which had been common
for several years at these fairs where "premiums" were awarded, and
which proved a very profitable mode of operation, almost from the very
beginning of fowl-shows in the United States. In an article upon a
recent exhibition, under the caption "_How the Cards are Played_," he
says:

"A fowl-breeder, by extraordinary means, raises a _few_ specimens of
fowls of great size, which he takes to the exhibition; and, on the
appearance and character of those _few_ specimens, he contracts to
furnish fowls and eggs of the 'same stock.' He goes home with his
pockets full of orders, and with not a _single fowl, for sale_, in his
possession at the time, and hastens to purchase of A, B and C, such
fowls as he can find, say at $3, $5 to $10 a pair, which he sends to
fill his orders at $20 to $50 a pair, and no nearer in value to the
stock that appeared on exhibition than a turkey is to a turkey
_buzzard_! The same of _eggs_. Now, there are exceptions to this
allegation, but we KNOW that such things are done, and we think that
the public should be put on their guard."

There is no question about the accuracy of this statement. The writer
says he "_knows_ that such things were done;" and I feel sure that no
man in New York State ever knew the details of this dodge so well as
_he_ did. It was a very common thing everywhere, however, among the
hucksters. I had no occasion to resort to this plan; for the game _we_
played was a deeper one, altogether.

There was a "live Yankee," all the way from Rhode Island, who attended
the New York show, who took the boys down there after the following
style, as appears from another advertisement, which I recently met with,
and which feat is thus described by one of the sufferers. In a "card"
published soon after that exhibition, this victim of misplaced
confidence says, with a show of seeming injured innocence:

     "Justice to the public, as well as myself, demands a slight
     explanation of a few facts connected with the recent National
     Poultry Show, in New York City.

     "Mr. C----, of Woonsocket, R.I., accompanied me to New York for the
     purpose of attending the fair. On the fourth day of the exhibition
     it was announced that the judges were about to commence their
     labors. Mr. C----, seeing that his chance for a premium of _any_
     kind on Asiatic fowls was very slim, came to me and requested, nay,
     even _insisted_, on grounds of mutual friendship, that I should put
     my two best hens with a cock of his, for the purpose of taking the
     first premium. I finally consented, with the express
     understanding, _and no other_, that we should each share the
     honors and proceeds equally. On Friday it was announced, in the
     lecture-room, that _he_ had taken the first premium on the best
     pair of Asiatic fowls, of whatever sub-variety. I went to him, at
     once, and expressed my dissatisfaction, and reminded him of his
     agreement. He then agreed to see the secretary and all the
     reporters, and publish, or cause to be published, a card, stating
     that I was equally entitled to the premium with himself, as the
     hens were raised by me; and he furthermore agreed that his name
     should not be mentioned or published, in relation to the premium,
     except in connection with my own. How was that agreement fulfilled?
     On taking up one of the New York dailies the next morning, I was
     surprised to see a puff laudatory of Mr. C----, while _my_ name was
     not alluded to,--which puff, report says, was paid for with a
     rooster. On my return home, a few days afterwards, I found that he
     had volunteered to make the following assertions: 'Well, I have
     laid 'em all out. I took the first premium on everything, best pair
     and all, and I can beat the world.' When asked how it was done, he
     said, 'I will tell you, _some time_, how I played my card.'"

But Mr. C----, with that reserve and indifference peculiar to gentlemen
in the hen-trade who have accomplished a "neat operation," did not see
fit to explain the process, and hesitated to inform his "friend" how he
played his card. And so the aggrieved party resorted to the newspaper,
and come the "power of the press" upon Mr. C----, as follows:

     "Mr. C---- stated that my stock was 'mongrel,' and inferior.
     Whether it be so or not, is for the thousands and tens of
     thousands who saw them, while on exhibition, to judge. After
     selecting two of my best hens for Mr. C----'s especial benefit (as
     it appears), the committee _even then_ saw fit to award me a
     premium, while his two coops of '_pure, full-blooded_ Asiatic
     fowls,' which he had cracked up so loud and extensively, did not
     receive, as I can learn, even a passing notice, _except the old
     cock_, which was put in the coop with my 'mongrel hens,' as he is
     pleased to call them. Perhaps the public would also be gratified to
     learn the manner in which he obtained the first premium at the
     recent Agricultural Fair in Providence, R.I. Was it not done by
     entering several coops of fowls, belonging to another person, in
     his own name, without that person's knowledge and consent, and
     pointing out those fowls to one or more of the judges, representing
     them as his own? No doubt the books of the society, and those of
     the railroad corporation which conveyed Mr. C----'s poultry to and
     from the fair, if compared, will throw some light upon the subject.
     Is not this the manner in which he has frequently played his card;
     or, in other words, 'laid 'em all out'? As I have always treated
     him as a gentleman, a neighbor and friend, to what cause can I
     impute this low, mean contemptible and underhand manner of exalting
     himself at my expense? I would advise him, in conclusion, to peruse
     Æsop's moral and instructive fable of the ambitious Jackdaw, and
     learn from that, that however well a course of deception and
     duplicity may at first prosper, the day of exposure and disgrace
     will come, and the ungainly Jackdaw, stripped of his ill-gotten
     plumage, will stand forth in all his native blackness and
     deformity."

Now, I have no doubt, that this Mr. C----, when he read the above "card"
(which must have cost its author considerable time and money), felt very
badly about it, the more especially as the show-prizes had been duly
announced, and he had the premium-money safely in his own pocket! And it
certainly must have been a very gratifying circumstance, to the man who
had been thus duped, to see his advertisement thus in print, too. Had
_I_ been similarly situated, however, after losing my premium and the
credit that belonged to my having had the best fowls on exhibition, also
(only by thus joining issue with another to gull the "dear people"), I
rather think I should not have _published_ the facts, to show myself up
a fool as well as a knave. But this is merely a matter of taste. Mr.
B----, who signs this "card," will scarcely be caught in this way again.
We "live to learn."

Mr. B---- had not become apprised of the fact that, from the very
commencement, the hen-trade was a huge gull, possessing an
unconscionable maw, and most inconceivable powers of digestion. Older
heads and wiser men than he had been duped or swallowed by this monster,
that stalked about the earth for six long years, seeking whom he might
devour. If this is the worst treatment he ever experienced at the hands
of those who helped to feed the vampire, Mr. B---- is, indeed, a
fortunate man. There _be_ those who would gladly exchange places with
this gentleman, and give him large odds.

C---- was _smart_. I have known him for several years. He is one of the
few "hen-men" whom I would trust alone with my purse. And whether he
raised them, or purchased them, it matters nothing; he has _sold_ some
of the best fowls in America.

In all human probability, the author of the "card" last quoted will live
long enough (unless he shall have already stepped out) to know that "the
people" went into the hen-trade blindfolded, and that the bandages have
now dropped from their eyes. He will have ascertained, too, I think,
that a resort to the newspapers for redress against such of his
"friends" as may get ahead of his time in this way is precious poor
consolation, when he reflects that advertisements cost money, and that
the anathemas of an over-reached chicken-man have never yet been known
to harm anybody--as far as heard from! _Selah!_



CHAPTER XXXVII.

FINAL DEATH-THROES.


The officers and the judges at the poultry-fairs (most of whom are
self-constituted), as will be seen, usually carried away all the first
prizes. At a late show of the New York _State_ Society, the president
thereof received about _one third_ of all the premiums awarded, and yet
his fowls were nearly all _second_ and _third_ rate, and not one of
them, it was stated, was _bred_ by him. He may have bred a few specimens
during last season, but not _one_ on exhibition was bred by him. The
people and certain greenhorns were astonished to see the way in which
the premiums were awarded to him. One of the judges there seemed
determined to award to him every premium that his influence could
secure, right or wrong; and, from what was learned from exhibitors, it
did look very much like an existing understanding between the parties in
regard to the premiums.

For the above statement we have the authority of a huckster in New York,
who did _not_ obtain any premiums, and who says of the management of
the state show there, that this sort of partiality shown in favor of the
wire-pullers "is the rock on which the 'New England Poultry Society'
foundered; and our state society is treading in the footsteps of its
'illustrious predecessor.'"

This writer contends that the president of the New York society, who
thus received about all the premiums at one of their late shows, was a
man of too much discernment not to see that such a _farce_ as some of
the judges played would redound to his discredit. They went _too
far_--overdid the matter; hence the universal indignation of exhibitors.
And then concludes that "poultry-societies generally merge into mere
_speculating_ gatherings, a _few_ receiving most of the premiums, while
the uninitiated exhibitor is made a tool to swell the income of those
who pull the wires. Many breeders exhibit solely for the sake of the
_notoriety_ that their fowls will receive,--a sort of _gratuitous_
advertising,"--and it is now got to be "notorious that an order sent to
one who receives the _first_ premium for fowls is no more likely, in
many cases, to be filled with any better fowls than if sent to one who
took no premium at all; as the _prize_ fowls are not often for sale, and
very inferior specimens are sent when orders are received."

This information would have answered very well, had it been afforded
years ago. Now that the fever has disappeared almost entirely, and now
that everybody has been gulled, and gouged, and _gorged_, with the
fulsome and glowing accounts of the asserted reality of this thing, from
the pen of this very man among the rest, it comes rather late in the day
for such an one to "warn the people," and in such a manner!

But, soon after the exhibition above referred to had closed, the
president of the society issued a most astounding "card," _declining_ to
receive the premiums awarded him, and in which appears the following
sentence:

     "In connection with the report of the Judges of the late State
     Poultry Show, allow me to make a statement. As appears from the
     report, my birds have been unusually successful in the contest for
     premiums, sixteen out of twenty distinct varieties exhibited being
     so honored. This was more than I expected, and more than I honestly
     think they deserved. And I am strongly of opinion that, had they
     had more time, they would have come to a different conclusion, in
     two or three cases."

I was prepared for almost anything in the hen-trade, up to this time;
but this performance really astonished _me_! The man actually refused to
take the premiums awarded him! He even went so far as to show the
"judges" who _ought_ to have had the prizes, rather than himself. And he
actually sent back to the committee the money they forwarded to him
after the exhibition was over!!

Now, if this were not sufficient to astonish "the people," I am very
much in error regarding the ordinary strength of their nerves. It was an
almost immaculate performance; and the "New York State Poultry Society"
should positively insist that this extraordinary man (if he can be
proved to be sane) should at once accept from them one of the
largest-sized leather medals, to be worn next to his gizzard, for this
unexampled disinterestedness, and extraordinary sacrifice of self. O,
but _that_ gentleman must be "a brick," indeed!

A journal that alluded to this singular circumstance, at the time,
asserted that this procedure on the part of the president "was highly
commendable in the author, if his statements were made through
_principle_, rather than through fear to encounter _public opinion_. He
stands high in the estimation of the public, and we have ever considered
him as strictly honorable in all his business transactions; but we
cannot help thinking that 'a screw was loose' somewhere in the matter.
His statements are not very flattering to the judgment of the judges,
and show that some of them, at least, were not competent to discharge
their duties properly," etc.; while, in _my_ opinion, than this, a more
bare-faced piece of _mush_ was never yet perpetrated, in the details
even of the hen-trade.

This was emphatically among the "death-throes" of the _mania_. And cards
like the following found their way into the newspapers, about this
time, in further proof that the valve of this huge balloon had slipped
out. An ambitious Western man says:

     "I have long been expecting to hear of the swindling operations of
     a certain dealer, who makes a great display of _pretending_ to have
     _every_ breed known or bred in this country; and, to my _certain_
     knowledge, buys all, or nearly all, of his fowls, as wanted, and as
     many on _credit_ as he can, but does not _pay_, nor can the _law
     reach_ him to make him pay. I believe, also, that the papers that
     advertise for him are doing it for _nothing_--that is, that they
     are not, and never will be paid for it.

     "Such a course, in my opinion, is no better than highway robbery;
     and I hereby give said person fair warning to act honestly
     hereafter, or I will point him out in a way that shall not be
     misunderstood, as I cannot see such rascality perpetrated, and
     remain silent.

     "A man who deals in high-priced fowls, in receiving pay in
     _advance_, has his customers completely at his mercy, especially
     when he is not _responsible_ for a copper; and at the rates that
     fowls sell for--say, from ten dollars to one hundred dollars a
     pair--purchasers should receive what is promised them,--good
     specimens of the _pure_ breeds. So far as _weight_ is concerned, a
     pair of fowls will fall off _a few pounds_ in a journey of a week
     or less, in a cramped condition, and perhaps without food for a
     portion of the time; but in other respects justice should be done
     to the confiding purchaser."

Beautiful!--poetical!--musical! This advertiser, I have no doubt, keeps
only _pure_ stock. I do not know who he is; but, if I wanted to buy
(which I don't), I should certainly apply to such an honest and
justice-loving person, because I should feel assured, after reading
such an advertisement, that _that_ man was a professor of religion; and,
even if he had the chance, would never fleece me--_over the left_!

Other fanciers, in their utter desperation (as the fever so positively
and now rapidly begun to decline), resorted to the printing of the
_pedigrees_ of their stock; and the following advertisements made their
appearance late in 1854:

"By the influence of Mr. Ellibeth Watch (editor of the _London Polkem
Chronicler_, and uncle to the Turkish Bashaw with three long tails), I
have just procured a few of Prince Albert's famous breed of 'Windsor
fowls.' In a letter to me of the 32d day of April, Mr. Watch observes:

     'I have positively ordered a trio of _Windsor_ Fowls of Prince
     Albert, for you. It is THE BEST BREED IN ENGLAND, and they are much
     run after, and cannot be had without giving previous notice; but
     you are safe to have yours. I have engaged a friend to choose yours
     for you; and I consider it _a great thing_ to get them direct from
     the Prince, for you must be aware that persons generally cannot
     exactly _pick and choose_ FROM THE PRINCE'S OWN STOCK. I shall
     employ an efficient person to have them shipped, etc.'"

In due time this remarkable stock arrived in America, and their
pedigrees were duly published; the advertiser being "thus particular,"
because (as he asserted) "there had been so much imposition upon the
public by irresponsible persons _claiming to have made importations_"!

Now I never entertained the slightest objections to this sort of
advertisement,--not _I_, i'faith! On the contrary, I deem all this kind
of thing very excellent, in its way, to be sure. The more the merrier.
"The people" want it, and let them have it, say I.

But, at the same time, though the "Porte-Monnaie I owe 'ems" declare
that their unrivalled stock comes from Prince Albert's yards, I feel
very well assured that all this is a mere guy, it being very well known
that His Royal Highness is not engaged in the hen-trade particularly,
and of course has something else to do besides supplying even the
"Porte-Monnaie Company" with his pigs and chickens.

It was a rare undertaking, this importing live stock (with any
expectation of selling it) in the fall of 1854! But we shall soon see
who were the final victims of the "fever."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE PORTE-MONNAIE I OWE 'EM COMPANY.


It has been said, with much of truth, that "two of a calling rarely
agree;" and this applies with force to those engaged in the "hen-trade."
Messrs. Mormann and Humm, whom I have before spoken of, couldn't long
agree together, and their "dissolution" soon appeared; and, from the
ashes of the professional part of this firm, there suddenly arose an
entirely new dodge, under the big-sounding title of

     "THE PORTE-MONNAIE I OWE 'EM COMPANY."

The presiding genius of this concern was one Doctor Bangit,--an old
friend of mine, who had been through wars enough to have killed a
regiment of ghouls, who was among the earliest advocates and supporters
of the "New England Mutual Admiration Society," who was one of the very
first physicians employed in prescribing for the hen fever in this
country, and who, I _supposed_, had had sufficient experience not to
embark (at this late day) in such a ridiculous enterprise as this so
clearly seemed to be.

But the doctor saw his victims in prospective, probably; and, though he
had run the hummery of the fowl-fever so far into the ground that, in
his case, it would surely never know a day of resurrection, still he was
ambitious and hopeful; and he flattered himself (and some others) that
the _last man_ who bought live stock had _not_ yet turned up! And so the
doctor pushed on, once more.

The "BLOOD STOCK" of the "_Porte-Monnaie I owe 'em Company_"[12] was
thus advertised, also:

"IN ADDITION to the genuine, unadulterated Prince Albert fowls, the
'Porte-Monnaie I owe 'ems' offer pigs, with tails on, of the Winsor,
Unproved Essex, Proved Suffolks, Yorkshire, Wild Indian, Bramerpouter,
Siam, Hong-Kongo, Emperor Napoleons, and Shanghae Breeds; most of them
of new styles, and warranted to hold their colors in any climate.

"Also, Welsh Rarebits--bred from their Merino buck 'Champum,' of England
(that _didn't_ take the first prize at the National Show, because Mr.
Burnham's 'Knockum' did!), whose ears are each thirty-three feet longer
than those of our best pure-bred jackasses, and wider than five
snow-shovels, by actual measurement.

"Also, A-quack-it fowls; as Swans (_Porte-Monnaie I owe 'em_ strain),
Two-lice, Hong-gong, Brumagem and other Geese. Ruin and Ailsburied
Ducks, and Pharmigan Pigeons (blue-billed).

"Also, every breed of Gallinaceous fowls,--Games and other bloods
already noted,--together with every species of pure and select
blood-stock, which has been secured in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the
Arctic Ocean, with reference to QUALITY, without regard to _price_.

"==>We can furnish pedigrees to all buyers who desire them, which will
be endorsed by the faculty of Riply College, Iowa.

"N.B. The 'Winsor' breed of pigs imported by us is a great addition to
the already fine hog stock of the United States, and is fully _equal_,
if not _superior_, to any other breed. They are the very choicest of the
royal stock which is so much admired in England. We are in possession of
the shipping papers of these splendid pigs. The freight and incidental
expenses on them, alone, amount to about six hundred dollars. They ought
to be fine pigs. Three hundred dollars a _pair_ for the pigs from this
splendid stock would be _low_, taking their great value into
consideration. We have often heard of Prince Albert's stock of pigs, but
until G.P. Burnham, Esq., of Russet House, Melrose, first imported this
superb stock into this country, no American was ever honored with a shy
at this extraordinary breed of swine. The company, at great expense and
trouble, prevailed upon Mr. Burnham to part with a few of his
second-rate samples; and they have now no doubt that they will be able
to 'beat him all to rags,' in a few months, since they have been lucky
enough to get them from him _pure_ly bred (probably!).

"P.S. Of these pigs, which gained the first prize and gold and silver
medal at London in December, 1863, and the first prize and gold and
silver medal in Birmingham, were from Tibby, by Wun-eyed Jack. Old
Pulgubbin's pigs gained a prize at Mutton-head in 1729, and one at
London in 1873."

Still, notwithstanding all this extra flourish of trumpets, the "Porte
Monnaie I owe 'em Company" is well-nigh defunct. It was started,
unfortunately, about five years and eight months "too late in the
season."

Yet, as I honor talent and enterprise, wherever they may be shown, I
trust that this association may be galvanized into successful
operation--as, _perhaps_, it will!

[12] I trust that this association may not be confounded with the
"_Fort Des Moines Iowa Company_." The difference will plainly be seen,
of course.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

A SATISFACTORY PEDIGREE.


In the course of my live-stock experience, and especially during the
excitement that prevailed amidst the routine of the hen-trade, I found
myself constantly the recipient of scores and hundreds of the most
ridiculously unreasonable and meaningless letters, from the fever-struck
(and innocent) but uninitiated victims of this epidemic.

In England, amongst other nonsense bearing upon this subject, the more
cunning poultry-keepers resorted to the furnishing of _pedigrees_ for
the birds they sold. This trick worked to admiration in Great Britain
for a time, and the highest-sounding names were given to certain
favorite fowls, the progeny of which ("with pedigree attached")
commanded the most extravagant and ruinous prices, in the English
"fancy" market.

For instance, I noticed in the London papers, in 1852, an account given
of the sale of "two splendid cinnamon-colored chickens, out of the
famous cock 'Jerry,' by the noted hen 'Beauty,' sired by 'Napoleon,'
upon the well-known 'Queen Dowager,' grandsire 'Prince Albert,' on
'Victoria First,'" &c. &c., which brought the handsome sum of one
hundred and sixty pounds (or about eight hundred dollars). And, soon
afterwards, the same dodge was adopted on this side of the Atlantic. The
"Porte-Monnaie I owe 'em Company" have _now_ an advertisement in several
New York and Western papers, concluding thus:

     "To all who desire it, we will furnish authentic pedigrees of our
     stock of _all_ descriptions, which may be relied on for their
     accuracy."

This sort of thing was rather too much for my naturally republican turn
of mind; and, though I could endure _almost_ anything in the humbug of
this bubble, I couldn't swallow _this_. I received from New York State,
one day, the following spicy epistle:

     "MR. BURNHAM.

     "SIR: I have been a live-stock breeder for some years in this and
     the old country, and I was desirous to obtain only _pure_-blooded
     fowls when I ordered the 'Cochins' of you last month. I asked you
     for their _pedigree_. You have sent none. What does this mean? I
     paid you your price--seventy-five dollars--for three chickens. What
     have you sent me? Am I dealing with a gentleman? Or are you a mere
     shambles-huckster? What are these fowls bred from? Perhaps I may
     find myself called upon to speak more plainly, sir. I hope not. Who
     _are you_? I sent for a pedigree, and I want it. _I must have it_,
     sir. You will comprehend this, I presume. If you do not, I can
     enlighten you further.

                                  "In haste,

                                                       "---- -- ----."

I smiled at the earnestness of this letter, the more particularly when I
reflected that this gentleman always supplied to his patrons a thing he
called a pedigree, for all the animals he sold--so intricate,
conglomerated and lengthy, that no one would ever venture to dispute the
authenticity and reliability of the document he sent them.

I re-read his sharp communication, and I found the sentence again, "Who
_are you_? I sent for a pedigree, and I must have it." And I sat down,
at once, and wrote him as follows:

                                              "_Melrose, Mass., 1853._

     "MY DEAR SIR:

     "Your peppery favor came duly to hand. You say you 'want a
     pedigree,' and that you 'must have it;' and you inquire who _I_ am?
     I cannot furnish any such history for my _fowls_, for I haven't the
     slightest idea what they are, except that they are bred from my
     superb imported 'Cochin-Chinas,' which have so long been pronounced
     the 'admiration of the world.'

     "But, since you must have a pedigree, you say, and as you seem
     anxious to know who _I_ am, I enclose you the following, as an
     accurate account of my _own_ pedigree, which I furnished to a legal
     gentleman in New York city, some years since,[13] and which, I
     presume, will answer your purpose as well as any other would; as I
     observe, by your polite favor now before me, that you 'want A
     pedigree.' Please read this carefully, and then inform me (as you
     promise to do) if you 'can enlighten _me_ further'!

                                  "Very profoundly yours,

                                                              "G.P.B."

It will be necessary, in order that my readers may the better appreciate
the pedigree that follows (and which I enclosed to my correspondent, as
above stated), to inform them that some fifteen years ago, or more,
there was a person named _Burnham_, who died in England, leaving no will
behind him; but who was possessed, at the time of his decease, of an
immense fortune, said to amount to several millions of pounds sterling
in value. As soon as the intelligence reached this country, the Burnhams
were greatly elated with their prospects, and meetings of the
imaginative "heirs" to this estate were held, who, each and all,
believed that a windfall was now in certain prospect before them. The
excitement ended as all this sort of thing does. No one among the
Burnhams could identify himself, or substantiate the fact of his ever
having had a grandfather; and the bubble was soon exploded. Among the
parties who were addressed on the subject of this supposed "Burnham
fortune," was my humble self; the ambitious lawyer who undertook to
unravel the mystery, and to recover the money for us, informing me by
mail that "it would be of material pecuniary advantage to me to
establish my pedigree." I wrote _him_ as follows:

     "MY DEAR SIR:

     "Your favor, under date 4th instant, came duly to hand, and I
     improve my earliest moment of leisure (after the unavoidable delays
     attendant upon procuring the information you seek) to reply. You
     are desirous of being made acquainted with my 'pedigree.'

     "I have to inform you that I have taken some days to examine into
     this matter, and, after a careful investigation of the 'records,'
     find that I am a descendant, in the direct line, from a gentleman,
     very well remembered in these parts, by the name of ADAM. The old
     man had two sons. 'Cain' and 'Abel' they were called. The latter,
     by the other's hands, went dead one day; but as no coroner had
     then been appointed in the county where they resided, 'verdict was
     postponed.' A third son was born, whom they called 'Seth.' _Cain_
     Adam had a son named Enoch, who had a son (in the fourth
     generation) by the name of Malech. Malech had a son whom he called
     NOAH, from whom I trace directly my own being.

     "Noah had three sons, 'Shem,' '_Ham_' and 'Japheth.' The eldest and
     youngest--Shem and Japheth--were a couple of the 'b'hoys;' and Ham
     was a very well-disposed young gentleman, who slept at home o'
     nights. But his two brothers, unfortunately, were not so well
     inclined. _Ham_ was a sort of 'jethro'--the butt of his two
     brothers, who had done him 'brown' so many times, that they called
     him 'burnt.' For many years he was known, therefore, as
     'Burnt-Ham.' Before his death he applied to the Legislature in his
     diggings for a change of name. He dropped the _t_, a bill was
     passed entitling him to the name of BURN-HAM, and hence the
     _sur_name of your humble servant. So much for the _name_.

     "In several of the newspapers of that period I find allusions made
     to _a very severe rain-storm_ which occurred 'just about this
     time;' and the public prints (of all parties) agree that 'this
     storm was tremendous,' and that 'an immense amount of damage was
     done to the shipping and commercial interest.' As this took place
     some six thousand years back, however, you will not, I presume,
     expect me to quote the particular details of this circumstance,
     except in so far as refers directly to my own relatives. I may here
     add, however, that subsequent accounts inform me that everything of
     any particular value was totally destroyed. A private letter from
     Ham, dated at the time, declares that 'there wasn't a peg left to
     hang his hat on.'

     "Old Noah found it was 'gittin' werry wet under foot' (to use a
     familiar expression of his), and he wisely built a canal-boat (of
     very generous dimensions) for the safety of himself and family.
     Finding that the rain continued, he enlarged his boat, so that he
     could carry a very considerable amount of luggage, in case of
     accident. This foresight in the old gentleman proved most
     fortunate, and only confirms the established opinion, that the
     family is 'smart;' for the 'storm continued unabated for forty days
     and forty nights' (so say the accounts), until every species of
     animal and vegetable matter had been 'used up,' always excepting
     the old gentleman's canal-boat _and_ cargo.

     "Now, Noah was a great lover of animals. 'Of every kind, a male and
     female,' did he take into his boat with him, and 'a nice time' they
     must have had of it for six weeks! Notwithstanding the fact (which
     I find recorded in one of the journals of the day), that 'a
     gentleman, who was swimming about, and who requested the old man to
     let him in, upon being refused, declared that he might go to grass
     with his old canoe, for he didn't think it would be much of a
     shower, anyhow,'--I say, notwithstanding this opinion of the
     gentleman, who is represented as having been a 'very expert
     swimmer,' everything was destroyed.

     "Ham was one of 'em--_he_ was! He 'knew sufficient to get out of
     the rain,' albeit he wasn't thought _very_ witty. He took passage
     with the rest, however, and thus did away with the necessity of a
     life-preserver. From _Ham_ I trace my pedigree directly down
     through all the grades, to King Solomon, without any difficulty,
     who, by the way, was reported to have been a little loose in his
     habits, and was very fond of the ladies and Manzanilla Sherry. He
     used to sing songs, too, of which 'the least said the soonest
     mended.' But, on the whole, Sol was a very clever, jolly-good
     fellow, and on several occasions gave evidence of possessing his
     share of the cunning natural to our family. Some thought him
     'wise;' but, although I have no disposition to abuse any of my
     ancestors, I think the Queen of Sheba (a very nice young woman she
     was, too) rather 'come it' over the old fellow!

     "By a continuous chain, I trace my relationship thence through a
     rather tortuous line, from generation to generation, down to Mr.
     Matthew,--not the comedian, but to Matthew, the Collector (of
     Galilee, I think), who 'sat at the receipt of customs.' To _this_
     connection I was, undoubtedly, indebted for an appointment in the
     Boston Custom-house. Matthew lived in the good old 'high tariff'
     times, when something in the shape of duties was coming in. But,
     as nothing is said of his _finale_, I rather think he absquatulated
     with the funds of the government. But I will come to the
     information you desire, without further ado.

     "You know the 'OLD 'UN,' undoubtedly. (If you don't, there is very
     little doubt but you will know his _namesake_ hereafter, if you
     don't cease to squander your time in looking after the plunder of
     the Burnham family!) Well, the 'Old 'Un' is in the 'direct line,'
     to which I have now endeavored to turn your attention; and I have
     been called, of late years, the 'YOUNG 'UN,' for reasons that will
     not interest you. To my honored senior (whom I set down in the
     category as my legitimate 'dad') I would refer you for further
     particulars. He is tenacious of the character of his progeny, and
     loves me; I would commend you to him, for it will warm the cockles
     of his old heart to learn that the 'YOUNG 'UN' _is in luck_.

     "If you chance to live long enough to get as far down in my letter
     as _this_ paragraph, allow me to add that, should you happen to
     receive any very considerable amount as _my_ share of the
     'property' for the Burnham family, please not overlook the fact
     that I am I 'one of 'em,' and that I have taken pains to tell you
     'whar I cum from.' Please forward my dividend by Adams & Co.'s
     Express (if their crates should be big enough to convey it), and if
     it should prove too bulky, turn it into American gold, and charter
     a steamer to come round for the purpose; I shan't mind the expense.

     "In conclusion, I can only intimate the high consideration I
     entertain towards yourself for having prepaid the postage upon your
     communication; a very unusual transaction with legal gentlemen. My
     sensations, upon closing this hasty scrawl, are, I fancy, very
     nearly akin to those of the Hibernian who '_liked_ to have found a
     sovereign once,'--but you will allow me to assure you that it will
     afford me the greatest pleasure to meet you hereafter, and I shall
     be happy to give you any further information in my power touching
     _that_ 'putty' in prospective.

                     "I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                           "GEO. P. BURNHAM, _alias the_ 'YOUNG 'UN.'"

I presume this pedigree was perfectly satisfactory to my correspondent;
and I am quite certain that it was of as much account as this kind of
thing usually is. At any rate, I heard nothing more from him, in any
way; and I made up my mind, therefore, that, after reading this, he
concluded that he couldn't "enlighten me further," as he had so pertly
suggested in his communication, quoted in the beginning of this chapter.
He is a very nice man, I have no manner of doubt.

[13] This article was originally published in the New York _Spirit of
the Times_, substantially, and was afterwards issued in an edition of my
fugitive literary productions, by Getz & Buck, of Philadelphia, in a
volume entitled "_Stray Subjects_."



CHAPTER XL.

"DOING THE GENTEEL THING."


"There is one thing you should always bear in mind," said a notorious
shark to me, one day, while we conversed upon the subject of breeding
live-stock successfully--"there is one thing you should always remember;
and that is, under no circumstances ever permit a fowl or a pig to pass
out of your hands to a purchaser, unless you _know_ him to be of _pure
blood_."

This is a pretty theory, and, I have no doubt, such a course would work
to admiration, if faithfully carried out (as _I_ always intended to do,
by the way); but in this country this was easier to talk about than to
accomplish. I have now a letter before me, received some years since,
upon this point, and which will give the reader some idea how far this
thing extended in certain quarters, and what came of it.

     "SIR: I have been informed by my friends, and I have seen it stated
     in the poultry-books generally, that _you_ are a breeder of fowls
     who can be relied on. I wish I could say as much of some other
     parties with whom I have dealt, during the past year or two.

     "I have been striving, for a long time, to get possession of some
     _pure_-bred domestic fowls, and a strain of thorough-bred Suffolk
     swine. I am satisfied _you_ have got them. Now, I beg you will
     understand that I am fortunately pecuniarily able to _pay_ for what
     I seek. I care nothing for _prices_;[14] but I do desire, and
     stipulate for, purity of blood. Can you supply me? What are your
     strains? When did you import it, and how has it been bred?

     "If you can send me half a dozen Chinese fowls, all _pure_ bloods,
     of each of the different varieties, do so, and charge me whatever
     you please,--only let them be fine, and such as will produce their
     like.

     "I have read much on this subject of poultry, and I want to _begin_
     right, you perceive. I have made up my mind that there are not so
     many _varieties_ of fowls extant as many breeders describe. I am
     satisfied that these domestic birds hail originally from China, and
     that _all_ of them are of one blood. What is your opinion?

     "Write me your views, please, and let me know if you can furnish me
     what I seek, upon honor; bearing in mind that I am ready to pay
     your price, whatever it may be; but that I want only pure-blooded
     stock.

                                  "Yours, respectfully,

                                                          "---- ----."

I immediately forwarded to this customer (as I usually did to my
newly-found patrons) copies of the _portraits_ of my "genuine Suffolk"
pigs, and of my "pure-bred" and "imported" Chinese-fowls. These
"pictures," samples of which appear in this work upon pages 174 and 212,
had the desired effect. I rarely forwarded to these beginners one of
these nicely-got-up circulars that didn't "knock 'em" at first sight.

These gentlemen stared at the engravings, exclaimed, "_Can_ it be?"
thrust their hands to the very bottom of their long purses, and ordered
the stock by return of mail.

In this last-mentioned case, I informed my correspondent that I agreed
with him in the ideas he had advanced precisely (I usually did agree
with such gentlemen), and I entertained no doubt that he was entirely
correct in his views as to the origin of domestic fowls, of which he
evidently knew so much. (This helped me, amazingly.) I pointed out to
him the distinction that existed (without a difference) between a
"Shanghae" and a "Cochin-China," and finally concluded my learned and
_un_selfish appeal by hinting (barely _hinting_) to him that I felt
certain _he_ was the best judge of the facts in the case, and I would
only _suggest_ that, so far as my experience went, there were, in
reality, but _ten_ varieties of _pure_-bred fowls known to
ornithologists (I was one of this latter class), and that these ten
varieties were the Cochins, the White, Grey, Dominique, Buff, Yellow,
Red, Brown, Bronze and Black _Shanghaes_--and these were the only kinds
_I_ ever bred.

As to their purity of blood, I could only say, that I imported the
original stock myself, and "enclosed" he had their _portraits_; to which
I referred with pride and confidence and pleasure, &c. &c. &c. Of their
probable merits I must leave it entirely to his own good judgment to
decide. I had this stock _for sale_, and it did not become me (mind
this!) didn't _become me_ to praise it, of course (O no!). And I would
say no more, but simply refer him to the public prints for my character
as a breeder of blooded stock, etc. etc. etc.

Did this take him down? Well, it did; _vide_ the following reply from
him, two weeks subsequently.

     "MY DEAR SIR:

     "I never entertained a doubt that you were _all_ you had been
     represented; and your reputation is, indeed, an enviable one, in
     the midst of these times, when so much deceit and trickery is being
     practised among this community. I am flattered with the tone of
     your kind letter, just received, and I am greatly pleased that you
     thus readily coincide with me in regard to my opinions touching the
     fowl race.

     "I had come to the conclusion that there were but _eight_ real
     varieties of genuine fowls; but I observe that, in your last favor,
     you describe _ten_ strains of pure-bloods, that you know to be
     such. The portraits of your stock are beautiful. You allude to the
     'Bronze' and the 'Dominique' colored Shanghaes. These must be very
     fine, I have no doubt; and I gladly embrace the opportunity to
     enclose you a draft on Merchants' Bank, Boston, for six hundred
     dollars, in payment for six of each of your splendid varieties of
     this pure China stock, the like of which (on paper, at least) I
     have never yet been so fortunate as to meet with.

     "Please forward them, as per schedule, in care of Adams & Co.'s
     Express; whose agents, I am assured, will feed and water them
     regularly _three times a day_[15] on the route, and who are
     universally proverbial for their attention to the birds thus
     directed and intrusted to their care. I shall order the 'Suffolks'
     shortly.

                                  "Yours, truly,

                                                          "---- ----."

I sent this anxious purchaser sixty chickens, at ten dollars each
(cheap enough, to be sure), in accordance with his directions, and he
was delighted with them. I do not _now_ entertain a shadow of doubt that
every _one_ of those ten "different varieties" were bred from white hens
and a black cock, of the ordinary "Shanghae" tribe.

[14] This was the kind of customer I met with occasionally, and whom I
always took at his word. The gentleman who "didn't care about price" was
always the man after my own heart.

[15] Certainly--of course. The express agents had nothing else to do
but to "feed and water" fowls "_three times a day_" on the way!



CHAPTER XLI.

THE FATE OF THE "MODEL" SHANGHAES.


Napoleon, the great, found himself compelled to succumb to adverse fate,
at the end of a long and brilliantly triumphant career. "It was
destiny," he said; and he bowed to the fiat; which at last he was unable
successfully to dodge.

I was the fortunate owner of a pair of fine Shanghae fowls, that were
universally acknowledged to be "at the head of the crowd,"--so far as
there was any beauty or attractive qualities, whatever, in this species
of animal,--and I thought they were not bad-looking birds, really.

I caused a likeness to be taken of them from life, accurately, and it
was placed, some years since, at the head of the circulars which I
always enclosed back to my correspondents, in reply to their favors and
inquiries regarding my views as to what was the _best_ kind of domestic
bird for breeding.

The cock was very handsomely formed, and when in full feather was
exceedingly showy, and graceful, and noble in his carriage. His hen
companions were fine, too; but there was one in particular, that, in
company with this bird, I showed at several fairs, where they invariably
carried away the first premium, without any question or cavil as to
comparative beauty and merit. I named them "Napoleon" and the "Empress."

Their joint weight, when in the best condition, was about twenty-two
pounds; and as the "fancy" then raged, they were really unexceptionable.
I "donno" how many chickens I have sold by means of the _pictures_ of
these birds, but I _do_ know that, unfortunately, this particular hen
never laid an egg while I owned her, which was some two years. Still,
she was very handsome, as was also her husband; and I certainly raised a
great many fine chickens while they were in my yards. I called them my
very best,--and they were, indeed, to look at,--_a model pair of
Shanghaes_, as will be seen by a glance at their portraits on the next
page.

[Illustration: THE "MODEL" SHANGHAES.----(See page 280.)]

But they were singled out for a curious fate. At two or three of our
early fairs they had taken the first prizes; and at one of the
exhibitions, finally, there chanced to come along a gentleman who
fancied them exceedingly, and who was bound to possess himself of the
best that could be had. He had a long purse (though, at the time _he_
bought, prices were not up to the mark they reached subsequently, by a
long margin); and when he offered forty dollars for this "model" pair,
it was thought, by most of the outsiders, to be a fabulous transaction
altogether, made up between us to aid in gulling "the people." However,
he paid his money for them, sent them off, and the following account of
their subsequent fate is thus touchingly furnished by my friend "Acorn,"
who chanced to be "in at the death":

     "The gentleman who became the fortunate purchaser of these fine
     fowls had come to the city in the morning for the purpose of
     posting himself up generally, and to procure a pair of these then
     very desirable birds, though he did not imagine that he would be
     called upon to come down so 'werry han'some' for a single pair. He
     saw these, however, and visions of brilliant promise loomed up
     before him, if he could contrive to obtain them, however high a
     figure this 'magnificent' twain might be held at. As soon as he
     secured them, he felt that his fortune was made.

     "He calculated to remain in town until evening, and, sitting down,
     he hastily wrote a note to the keeper of a fashionable hotel in
     T---- street, informing him that he would dine with him, and that
     the bearer would deliver him a pair of nice chickens, which he
     desired him to take charge of. He also directed the boy (to whom he
     gave this note and the coop) to say that he would take dinner with
     his friend at four P.M.; and, sending up the fowls, he turned to
     other matters, for the day.

     "Arriving at the hotel, the youngster found the landlord, and said,

     "'Here's a pair of rousing big chickens Mr. M----s has sent up; and
     he says he'll be here to dine with you at four o'clock,'

     "The landlord supposed that his friend knew a hawk from a handsaw,
     as well as a canvass-back from a broiled owl; and believed that he
     had 'sent up' something a little extra for the proposed dinner. He
     therefore ordered the two birds to be placed in the hands of the
     cook, and gave directions also to have these 'model Shanghaes'
     killed and dressed at once, for the proposed dinner, to come off at
     four o'clock P.M.!

     "This order was promptly obeyed; and at the hour appointed the
     chicken-fancier made his appearance, in company with a few of the
     'boys,' and the dinner was served up with due accompaniments. After
     indulging in sundry wine bitters, as a sharpener to their
     appetites, the snug party sat down to table, and the liberal owner
     of the forty-dollar Shanghaes was politely invited to carve. While
     in the act of dissecting those enormous 'members of the late hen
     convention,' the amateur remarked,

     "''Pon my word, Major, you've a noble pair of chickens here, to be
     sure.'

     "'Yes, yes,' responded the Major. 'I think they _are_ an
     indifferently good-sized pair of birds. They were sent up to me,
     to-day, by a mutual friend of ours. I think we shall find them
     choice.'

     "'A present, eh?' said the owner, unwittingly. 'A very clever
     fellow our friend must be, Major. Capital,--really!' And as he
     finally commenced to enjoy the feast, he added, 'I declare they are
     very fine, and of the most delicious flavor I ever tasted. Juicy,
     too,--juicy as a canvass-back.'

     "Thus continued the victim, praising the rich excellence of the
     birds, until at last he had bagged a bottle or more of sparkling
     Schreider. While chatting over their Sherry, at last, and enjoying
     the rich aroma of their regalias, the now unlucky owner of the
     model Shanghaes suddenly said,

     "'By the way, Major, speaking of fowls, what do you think of my
     hen-purchase, this morning? Aren't they good 'uns?'

     "'Well, Bill,' rejoined his friend, 'I think they were delicious.
     And I won't mind if you dine with me every day in the week,
     provided you can send me up such chickens as those!'

     "'_Such_ chickens!' exclaimed Bill, astounded, as the thought for
     the first time flashed upon him that he might possibly now have
     been dining upon his 'model Shanghaes.' 'Why, Major, what the deuce
     do you mean?'

     "'Mean?' replied the Major; 'nothing,--only to say--without any
     intention of disturbing your nerves,--that we have just finished a
     most capital dinner upon those nice Shanghaes that you sent up to
     me, this morning.'

     "'_What!_' yelled Bill, jumping wildly up from the table; 'what do
     you say, Major?'

     "'Those Shanghaes--'

     "Bill groaned, rammed his hands clean up to the elbows into his
     breeches-pockets, and, after striding fiercely across the room some
     half a dozen times, without uttering another word, but with his
     eyes all this time 'in a fine frenzy rolling,' he stopped short,
     and, turning to the Major, he exclaimed, with no little
     gesticulation,

     "'Good God, Major, you don't mean to say you're serious, now?'

     "'Nothing else, Bill. What's the matter?'

     "'Why, _I paid forty dollars for that pair of chickens, this
     morning, at the hen-show_!'

     "'You did!'

     "'Yes. Didn't that stupid boy give you my note, when he left the
     chickens?'

     "'Not a note; not even a due-bill,' said the Major, provokingly.

     "'I mean my letter,' continued Bill.

     "'No,' said the Major, 'he gave me no letter; he simply delivered
     the fowls, and informed me that you would dine with me at four P.M.
     I thought, of course, you would like them thus, and so I had 'em
     roasted.'

     "Bill didn't stop for further explanations, but rushed for his
     horse and wagon, and wasn't seen in the city but once afterwards,
     for a long time. He was then closely muffled up, and had both his
     ears stopped up with cotton-batting, lest he might possibly hear
     some one say _Shanghae_!

     "A few weeks afterwards, while passing near his residence, I
     halted, and dropped in upon him for an hour; and, after a while, I
     ventured to touch upon the merits and beauties of the different
     breeds of poultry;--but I discovered, at once, that there was a
     wildness about Bill's eyes, and therefore ceased to allude to this
     usually interesting 'rural' subject, as Bill exclaimed,
     imploringly,

     "'Don't hit me, old boy, now I'm down! _That chicken dinner has
     never yet digested!_'"

Thus "passed away" one of the handsomest pairs of domestic fowls ever
seen in this part of the country, and which were well known, by all the
fanciers around me, as tip-top specimens of the then lauded race of
Shanghaes.

This result proved rather an expensive dinner for Mr. M----s; but, while
it served for an excellent lesson to him (as well as to many of his
friends who chanced to hear of what the Major called "this capital
joke"), he had the satisfaction, subsequently, of ascertaining that he
got off at a remarkably low figure. _His_ hen fever was very quickly,
and fortunately, cured. But for this sudden and happy turn in his case,
the disease _might_ have cost him far more dearly.

The fowls he thus lost were what were then deemed "tall specimens;" but
they did not, in this respect, equal those of a neighbor, who declared
that a young Shanghae cock of his grew so high on the leg, that he got
to be afraid of him; and, instead of eating him, one day while the
rooster was in a meditative mood, he contrived to place a twenty-feet
ladder beside him, and, mounting it, managed to blow out the monster's
brains, greatly to the owner's relief.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XLII.

AN EMPHATIC CLINCHER.


One of the last specimen _letters_ that I will offer I received late in
the year of our Lord 1854, which afforded me as much amusement
(considering the circumstances of the case) as any one I ever yet
received, of the thousands that found their way to "Geo. P. Burnham,
Esq.; Boston, Mass." Here it is, word for word:

     "GEORG BURNAM:

     "More'n a yeer aggo i cent yu twenty six dollers in a leter for 3
     coshin chiner Chickns, an yu sed tha wus perfeck pure bludds an yu
     lade yerseff lyble tu a Sute of prosekushn fer letin such dam stuf
     go intu yure yard or out of it, eether.

     "i bred them orl by themselfs an never had no uther cockrill on my
     plase. an i _no_ yu cheeted me like the devl, an yu no it 2. the
     fust lot of chickns i gut was awl _wite_ as snobawls. but i didnt
     sa nothin, cause wy? Wat did I Want tu let fokes no ide bin fuled
     an suckt in by a Corntemtible yanky, fer! i sed nothin an kep
     shaidy, an stuk to it that i gut em to _breed_ wite fouls out
     on--caus i Ment peeple shudent larf at me, no how!

     "Wel, the nex lot of chickns i gut wus _black_ as thunder! _black_,
     Geo Burnam--bred out of yur Patent yaller impoted preemum stock,
     that yu an the lyin Noospappers ced wus pure bludds. i chocked
     Every wun on em quicker 'n _scatt_--wen i found um, an ef Yude a
     bin thare then i guess you Wuddent razed not more'n ten thowsen
     more fouls to cheet Peeple with after ide a gut a holt on yure
     desaitful gullet.

     "never yu mind now, yuve gut my monny an yu can maik the most of
     it. aint yu a Pooty kine of mann? dont yu think yu ort tu hav yure
     Naim put in the nuspapper an let em say more'n fifty times a Munth
     that yu breed onny pure Impoted stock? dont yu feel nice wen Yu
     heer about the luck that peeple has with the stuf you impose on em
     in this shaimfull maner? Yu muss be a Nise kine of a sort of mann,
     i _dont_ think.

     "i tell yu wot i think on yu. i think if yu Shud taik to sum onnest
     imploiment, sech as drivin a express Waggin or sorring wood, yude
     be Considurd a gentle mann Compaired with wat yu now be. everyboddy
     nose how yu ar cheetin and Gougin and bleadin the publick, an yur
     naim stinks wuss'n a ole Hen-cupe enny how. i spose tho ef yu
     _shud_ taik to enny kine of onness sort of way tu git a livin it ud
     kill yu dam quik cos yu aint uste tu it, an that wud serv yu rite,
     yu Cheetin lyin onprinsipled nave. ide orter taikn bennits an
     Minur's advise, an then i Shudent bin suckt by yu. _tha_ air Gentle
     mann to yu, an tha aint no better then tha shud be Neyther--_no_
     how!

     "i dont mine the Eckspence, it aint no cornsidable matter of
     konsekens Tu me, i 'shure yu. i can _stan_ it, yu needn't be
     Afeered of that. i can aford tu be suckt wunce. But ide like yu tu
     tell me how Blak chickns an wite chickns an sum of em _orl_ Cullers
     tu, can cum out of pure bludded Aigs, or pure bludded fouls? tha
     _carnt_, an yu kno it. an yu kno'de it afore, an yure Welcom tu orl
     yule evver maik More out of _me_, bait yure life on that, georg
     Burnam!

     "go ahed. suc em as long as Yu can. tha wunt fine yu out fer a
     wile, an yu can maik sum cornsidable mor Monny out of the flatts,
     yit. yu thort yude suckt _me_ I spoze. well i own up. yu _did_. yu
     gut twenty six dollers of my monny an i spose yu chukled about it,
     same's yu did Wen yu stuk them roten aigs onto bill turner. Yude
     beter cum here, this wa, sum fine da an See the stock here thats
     bred out of yure preemum fouls. praps Yude git hoam agin without a
     saw hed. i think yu wood. haddn't yu Better try it on--_hay_?

     "dont yu wish ide pade the postige on this leter? Yule git a wus
     wun nex time. ile rite yu agin, wunct a weak, cee ef i dont. ile
     Meat yu sum day at sum of the _fares_ an then cee if i dont Rake
     yu down with a corse comb. i haint harf dun with yu yit, by a dam
     site. so wate.

                                  "In haist,

                                                   "B---- F---- L----.

     "_Poss Skrip._--P.S. i seen in boston _Times_ yisterday that yu
     'Lade six aigs on The editurs table, 8 inchis long an 4 inchis
     Round.' This was put in that paper i Spose sose yu cud cell Aigs.
     yu ma pool wull over thair ies But yu dont fule _Me_. i doant
     bleeve yu ever Lade a aig in yur life--yu Hombugg. go tu the devl
     gorge Burnam!"

A German friend of mine once temporarily left the profession to which he
had been educated thoroughly, and, with a few hundred dollars in hand,
purchased a small place, a dozen miles out from the city, which was
called by the seller of it "a farm."

Mynheer went to work lustily at his new vocation, slaving and sweating
and puffing away over his lately acquired grounds, every moment of time
that he could borrow or steal from his legitimate duties, and expending
upon his "farm" every dollar he could rake and scrape together.

In the fall of his first year as a "practical agriculturist," I met him
casually, and I said,

"A----, how does the farming succeed with you? How have you made it?"

"By gar," he replied, "I 'av try vera hard all de time, I 'av plant
potato an quash an corn an all dat, I 'av hire all my neighbors to 'elp,
I buy all de manoor in town, I 'av spent all my monish--an wot you tink,
now, Burnham--wot you tink I get--eh? Well, I git one dam big
watermel'n, dass all;--but _he never git ripe, by gar_!"

When I had read the letter which I have just quoted above, I thought of
my friend A----, and I said that my correspondent (like a good many
before him), as did Mynheer A----, had undertaken a business which was
entirely beyond his comprehension.

His letter was complimentary, (!) to say the least of it. But the young
man was easily excited, I think. He did pay me some twenty-six dollars
for four chickens, and from some cause (unknown to this individual) he
got only white or black progeny from the _yellow_ fowls I sent him! Was
that any business of _mine_? He should have thanked, rather than have
abused me, surely,--for didn't he thus obtain a _variety_ of "pure"
stock, from one and the same source?

Such fortune as this was by no means uncommon. The yellow stock was
crossed in China, oftentimes, long before we ever saw it here; and there
was only one means of redress that I could ever recommend to these
unlucky wights, conscientiously, and that was to buy _more_, and try it
again.

_Sometimes_ "like would breed its like" in poultry; not often, however,
within _my_ humble experience! The amateurs were continually trying
experiments, and grumbling, and constantly dodging from one "fancy" kind
of fowl to another, in search of the _right_ thing; and I endeavored to
aid them in their pursuit; though they did not always attain their
object, even when they purchased of _me_.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XLIII.

"STAND FROM UNDER!"


I have asserted, in another place, that, in all probability, in _no_
bubble, short of the famous "South Sea Expedition," has there ever been
so great an amount of money squandered, from first to last, as in the
chicken-trade; and, surely, into the meshes of no humbug known to us of
the present day have there been so many persons inveigled, as could now
be counted among the victims of this inexplicable mania.

A copy of the _Liverpool Express_ in January, 1854, now lies before me,
from which I notice that the great metropolitan show in London, just
then closed, surpassed all its predecessors; and that the excitement in
England, at that time, was at its height. The editor asserts that "it
was not an easy thing to exhaust the merits of the three thousand
specimens of the feathered tribe there shown. No one," continues the
writer, "who is at all conversant with natural history, can fail to find
abundance of material for an hour's instruction and amusement. The
general character of the exhibition has been already indicated; but
this is one of those cases in which _no_ description, however elaborate,
can supply the place of personal inspection."

The British correspondent of the _Boston Post_, but a short time
previously, writes that "the fowl fever, which has raged with so much
violence in _New England_ during the last three years, has extended to
this country. There was a great crowing among the cocks at the late
Smithfield cattle-show, and there seems to have been a still louder one
at the Birmingham fair.

"The mania for the purchase of fine fowls," continues this writer, "was
as furious there as if each of them had been the hen in the fable that
found the jewel in the dunghill. Some pairs brought as high as forty
pounds (two hundred dollars). One very fine pair of Cochin-Chinas sold
for fifty pounds (two hundred and fifty dollars). In the catalogue some
were marked at one hundred pounds, the _valuation_ prices of owners who
did not wish to sell. With you, in America, the rage for fowl-raising is
simply one of fancy and profit,[16] but here it is the result--and a
very beneficial one, too--of free trade. The price of eggs and poultry,
owing to the great demand, does not fall; the price of grain, owing to
free importation, does fall; and hence the great profit which is
realized from keeping fowls. The Dorkings are great favorites, less
difficult to raise than with you; and, though not abundant layers, still
command, from the greater whiteness and superior delicacy of their
flesh, a high price in the market. But the new Cochin-China varieties
are in the greatest demand; the display of them at Birmingham exceeded
all others, and they are now much sought after here."

Such accounts as these continually occupied the papers; and the fever
had been kept furiously alive, by this means, until far into the year
1854. The most glowing accounts of the poultry-shows, at home and
abroad, were kept up, too; but, in the mean time, Shanghae chickens
multiplied rapidly, and grew up, and filled the barns and yards of "the
people,"--and at the same time they did not forget how to eat corn, when
they could get it.

And, in spite of the best endeavors of interested parties to galvanize
the hum into a continued existence, it was now evident to those who
watched its progress, as _I_ had done, that the death-rattle was clearly
in its throat.

At this juncture I was reminded of the details of the mulberry-tree
bubble, the tulip fever, and the Merino sheep speculation; and I had
taken care not to become involved in the final ruin of the hen-trade (as
I knew many had been, and more were destined to be), in the eventual
winding-up of this affair, which was now close at hand.

A brief account of the famous sheep mania (so like the hen fever in its
workings) will not be uninteresting at this point; and its record here,
perhaps, will have the effect of opening the eyes of some chance reader,
haply, who is, even now, half inclined to _try_ his hand in the
chicken-trade.

This sheep bubble originated in the year 1815 or 1816, immediately after
the treaty of Ghent, and at a period when thousands of the American
people were actually "wool-mad" in reference to the huge profits that
were then apparent, prospectively, in manufacturing enterprises.

In the summer of the last-named year (as nearly as can be fixed upon), a
gentleman in Boston first imported some half-dozen sheep from one of the
southern provinces of Spain, whose fleeces were of the finest texture,
as it was said; and such, undoubtedly, was the fact, though the sheep
were so thoroughly and completely imbedded in tar, and every other
offensive article, upon their arrival in America, that it would have
been very difficult to have proved this statement. But the very
offensive appearance of the sheep seemed to imbue them with a mysterious
value, that rendered them doubly attractive.

It was contended that the introduction of these sheep into the United
States would enable our manufactories, then in their infancy, to produce
broadcloths, and other woollen fabrics, of a texture that would compete
with England and Europe. Even Mr. Clay was consulted in reference to the
sheep; and he at once decided that they were exactly the animals that
were wanted; and some of them subsequently found their way to Ashland.

The first Merino sheep sold, if I recollect right, for fifty dollars the
head. They cost just _one dollar each_ in Andalusia! The speculation was
too profitable to stop here; and, before a long period had elapsed, a
small fleet sailed on a sheep speculation to the Mediterranean. By the
end of the year 1816 there probably were one thousand Merino sheep in
the Union, and they had advanced in price to _twelve hundred_ dollars
the head.

Before the winter of that year had passed away, they sold for fifteen
hundred dollars the head; and a lusty and good-looking buck would
command two thousand dollars at sight. Of course, the natural Yankee
spirit of enterprise, and the love which New Englanders bore to the
"almighty dollar," were equal to such an emergency as this, and hundreds
of Merino sheep soon accumulated in the Eastern States.

But, in the course of the year 1817, the speculation, in consequence of
the surplus importation, began to decline; yet it steadily and rapidly
advanced throughout the Western country, while Kentucky, in consequence
of the influence of Mr. Clay's opinions, was especially benefited.

In the fall of 1817, what was then deemed a very fine Merino buck and
ewe were sold to a gentleman in the Western country for the sum of eight
_thousand_ dollars; and even that was deemed a very small price for the
animals! They were purchased by a Mr. Samuel Long, a house builder and
contractor, who fancied he had by the transaction secured an immense
fortune.

Now, Mr. Long had acquired the sheep fever precisely as thousands of
others (in later days) have taken the hen fever. And, in this case, the
victim was really _rabid_ with the Merino mania. In proof of this, the
following authentic anecdote will be amply sufficient and convincing.

There resided, at this time, in Lexington, Ky., and but a short distance
from Mr. Clay's villa of _Ashland_, a wealthy gentleman, named Samuel
Trotter, who was, in fact, the money-king of Kentucky, and who, to a
very great extent, at that time, controlled the branch of the Bank of
the United States. He had two sheep,--a buck and an ewe,--and Mr. Long
was very anxious to possess them.

Mr. Long repeatedly bantered and importuned Mr. Trotter to obtain this
pair of sheep from him, but without success; but, one day, the latter
said to the former, "If you will build me such a house, on a certain lot
of land, as I shall describe, you shall have the Merinos."

"Draw your plans for the buildings," replied Long, instantly, "and let
me see them; I will then decide."

The plans were soon after submitted to him, and Long eagerly accepted
the proposal, and forthwith engaged in the enterprise. He built for
Trotter a four-story brick house, about fifty feet by seventy, on the
middle of an acre of land; he finished it in the most approved modern
style, and enclosed it with a costly fence; and, finally, handed it over
to Trotter, for the _two Merino sheep_. The establishment must have
cost, at the very least, fifteen thousand dollars.

But, alas! A long while before this beautiful and costly estate was
fully completed, the price of Merinos declined gradually; and six months
had not passed away before they would not command twenty dollars each,
even in Kentucky.

Mr. Long was subsequently a wiser but a _poorer_ man. He held on to this
pair till their price reached the par value only of any other sheep; and
then he absolutely killed this buck and ewe, made a princely barbecue,
called all his friends to the feast, and whilst the "goblet went its
giddy rounds," like the ruined Venetian, he thanked God that, at that
moment, he was not worth a ducat!

This is absolute, sober _fact_. Mr. Long was completely and
irretrievably ruined in his pecuniary affairs; and very soon after this
"sumptuous dinner," he took sick, and actually died of a broken heart.

Along in the summer and fall of 1854, having watched the course that
matters were taking in the chicken-trade, I became cautious; for I
thought I heard in the far-off distance something indefinite, and almost
undistinguishable, yet pointed and emphatic in its general tone. I
listened; and, as nearly as I could make the warning out, it sounded
like "TAKE CARE!"

And so I waited for the _dénouement_ that was yet to come. In the mean
time, I had a friend who for five long years had been religiously
seeking for that incomprehensible and never-yet-come-at-able _ignis
fatuus_, a genuine "Cochin-China" fowl of undoubted purity!

I had not heard of or from him for some weeks; until, one morning, about
this time, a near relative of his sent to my house all that remained of
this indefatigable searcher after truth; an accurate drawing of which I
instantly caused to be made--and here it is!

[Illustration]

[16] _We_ have found it a very comfortable "rage," thank you!



CHAPTER XLIV.

BURSTING OF THE BUBBLE.


My friend John Giles, of Woodstock, Conn., has somewhere said, of late,
"I often hear that the 'fowl' fever is dying out. If by this is meant
the unhealthy excitement which we have had for a few years past, for
one, I say the sooner that it dies out the better. But as to the
enthusiasm of _true_ lovers of the feathered tribe dying out, it never
will, as long as man exists. It is part of God's creation. The thinking
man loves and admires his Maker's work; always did; always will. And I
have not the least doubt that any enterprising young man, with a
suitable place and fancier's eye, would find it to his advantage to
embark in the enterprise of fowl-raising for market."

Now, I don't know but John is honest in this assertion,--that is, I can
imagine that he believes in this theory! But how he can ever have
arrived at such a conclusion (with the results of his own experience
before him), is more than I _can_ comprehend.

Laying aside all badinage, for the moment, I think it may be presumed
that I have had some share of experience in this business,
_practically_, and I think I can speak advisedly on this subject. As far
back as during the years 1839, '40 and '41, I erected, in Roxbury, a
poultry establishment on a large scale, upon a good location, where I
had the advantages of ample space, twenty separate hen-houses, running
water and a fine pond on the premises, glass-houses (cold, and
artificially heated, for winter use), and every appurtenance, needful or
ornamental, was at my command.

I purchased and bred all kinds of domestic fowls there, and they were
attended with care from year's end to year's end. But there was _no_
profit whatever resulting from the undertaking,--and why?

The very week that a _mass_ of poultry--say three to five hundred
fowls--is put together _upon one spot_, they begin to suffer, and fail,
and retrograde, and die. No amount of care, cleanliness or watching, can
evade this result. _In a body_ (over a dozen to twenty together), they
cannot thrive; nor can the owner coax or force them to lay eggs, by any
known process.[17]

To succeed with the breeding of poultry, the stock must be _colonized_
(if a large number of fowls be kept), or else only a few must find
shelter in any one place, about the farm or country residence. And my
experience has taught me that five hens together will yield more eggs
than fifty-five together will in the same number of months.

I honestly assert, to-day, that of all the humbug that exists, or which
has been made to exist, on this subject, no part of it is more glaringly
deceptive, in my estimation, than that which contends for the _profit_
that is to be gained _by breeding poultry_--_as a business by
itself_--_for market consumption_. The idea is preposterous and
ridiculous, and no man can accomplish it,--I care not _what_ his
facilities may be,--to any great extent, _upon a single estate_. The
thing is impossible; and I state this, candidly, after many years of
practical experience among poultry, on a liberal scale, and in the
possession of rare advantages for repeated experiment.

I do not say that certain persons who have kept a _few_ fowls (from
twenty-five to a hundred, perhaps), and who have looked after them
carefully, may not have realized a profit upon them, in connection with
the farm. But, to make it a business _by itself_, I repeat it, a _mass_
of domestic and aquatic fowls cannot be kept together to any advantage
whatever, their produce to be disposed of at ordinary market value.

The fever for the "fancy" stock broke out at a time when money was
plenty, and when there was no other speculation rife in which every one,
almost, could easily participate. The prices for fowls increased with
astonishing rapidity. The whole community rushed into the breeding of
poultry, without the slightest consideration, and the mania was by no
means confined to any particular class of individuals--though there was
not a little shyness among certain circles who were attacked at first;
but this feeling soon gave way, and our first men, at home and abroad,
were soon deeply and riotously engaged in the subject of henology.

Meantime, in England they were doing up the matter somewhat more
earnestly than with us on this side of the water. To show how even the
nobility never "put their hand to the plough and look back" when
anything in this line is to come off, and the better to prove how fully
the poultry interests were looked after in England, I would point to the
names of those who, from 1849 to 1855, patronized the London and
Birmingham associations for the improvement of domestic poultry.

The Great Annual Show, at Bingley Hall, was got up under the sanction of
His Royal Highness Prince Albert, the Duchess of Sutherland, Lady
Charlotte Gough, the Countess of Bradford, Rt. Hon. Countess of
Littlefield, Lady Chetwynd, Hon. Viscountess Hill, Lady Littleton, Hon.
Mrs. Percy, Lady Scott, and a host of other noble and royal lords and
ladies, whose names are well known among the lines of English
aristocracy.

But, as time advanced, the star of Shanghae-ism began to wane. The
nobility tired of the excitement, and the people of England and of the
United States began to ascertain that there was absolutely nothing in
this "hum," save what the "importers and breeders" had made, through the
influence of the newspapers; and while a few of the _last men_ were
examining the thickness of the shell, cautiously and warily, the
long-inflated bubble burst! and, as the fragments descended upon the
devoted heads of the unlucky star-gazers, a cry was faintly heard, from
beneath the ruins--"_Stand from under_!"

I had been watching for this climax for several months; and when the
explosion occurred, as nearly as I can "cal-'late," _I_ wasn't _thar_!

[17] Since this was written, I find in the _Country Gentleman_ a
communication from L.F. Allen, Esq., on this very subject, in which he
says that "A correspondent desires to know how to build a chicken-house
for 'about one thousand fowls.' If my poor opinion is worth anything,
_he will not build it at all_. Fowls, in any large number, will not
thrive. Although I have seen it tried, I never knew a large collection
of several hundred fowls succeed _in a confined place_. I have known
sundry of these enterprises tried; but I never knew one _permanently_
successful. They were all, in turn, abandoned." The thing is entirely
impracticable.



CHAPTER XLV.

THE DEAD AND WOUNDED.


I have never yet been able to ascertain, authentically, all the exact
particulars of the final catastrophe; but, basing an opinion upon the
numerous "dispatches" I received from November, 1854, to February, 1855,
the number of dead and wounded must have been considerable, if not more.
I received scores of letters, during this last period mentioned, of
which the annexed is a fair sample:

     "G.P. BURNHAM, ESQ.

     "DEAR SIR: I'm afraid the jig is up! There's a big hole in the
     bottom somewhere, or I am mistaken. I _think_ the dance is
     concluded; and if it isn't time to 'blow out the lights' and shut
     down the gate, just let us know,--will you? Where's Bennett, and
     Harry Williams, and Dr. Eben, and Childs, and Ad. White, and
     Brackett, and Johnny Giles, and Uncle Alden, and Buckminster, and
     Chickering, and Coffin, and Fussell, and Chenery, and Gilman, and
     Hatch, and Jaques, and Barnum, and Southwick, and Packard, and
     Balch, and Morton, and Plarsted, and Geo. White, _et id omne
     genus_? Where are they all? _S-a-y!_

     "What has become of Platt, and Miner, and Newell, and Hudson, and
     Heffron, and Taggard, and Hill, and Swett, and M'Clintock, and Dr.
     Kerr, and Devereux, and Thacher, and Haines, and Hildreth; and
     Brown, and Smith, and Green, and _their_ allies? Are they dead, or
     only 'kilt'? Let me know, if you can, I beseech you!

     "'O, where, tell me where,' is my bonnie friend John Moore, and
     mine ancient _frère_ Morse, and my loved chum Howard, and the wily
     Butters? And where's Pedder--the immaculate Pedder? And Charley
     Belcher, too, and bragging Cornish, and Billy Everett, and our good
     neighbors Parkinson, and George, and Sol. Jewett, and President
     Kimball, and know-nothing King, and the reverend Marsh, and
     Pendletonian Pendleton of Pendleton Hill, and their satellites?
     Have all departed, and left no _wreck_ behind? I reckon not!

     "Seriously, friend B----, what does all this mean? Has the fever
     passed by? Can't we offer another single prescription? Has the
     _last_ man been heard from? Has there been found 'a balm in Gilead'
     to heal the wounds of the afflicted sufferers? Is the thing
     finished? Are they all cured? Did you say _all_? Dunder and blixen!
     Is anybody hurt? What are we to do? '_Speak_, or die!'

     "Where are the 'Committee,' and the 'Judges,' and the 'Trustees,'
     and the 'Managers'? Where is the 'Society' whose name, 'like linked
     sweetness long drawn out,' I haven't time to write? Where is _that_
     balance in the _Treasurer's_ hands,'--and where is that functionary
     himself? Did he ever exist at all? What has become of the premiums
     that were _awarded_ at the last show in Boston? And when, in the
     language of the enthusiastic Mr. Snooks (at the Statehouse in
     1850), will that Association begin 'to be forever
     perpetuated,'--eh?

     "I have got on hand three hundred of the Shanghae devils! What can
     I do with them? There is a neighbor of mine (a police-officer), who
     has got stuck with a lot of 'Cochin' chickens, which he swears he
     won't support this winter; and he has at last advertised them as
     _stolen property_, in the faint hope, I suppose, that some 'green
     'un' will come forward and claim them. You can't get rid of these
     birds! It is useless to try to sell them; _you can't give them
     away_; nobody will take them. You can't starve them, for they are
     fierce and dangerous when aggravated, and will kick down the
     strongest store-closet door; and you can't kill them, for they are
     tough as rhinoceroses, and tenacious of life as cats. Ah! Burnham,
     I have never forgiven the man who made me a present of my first
     lot! Do you want what I've got left? Will you take them? How much
     shall I pay you to receive them? Help me out, if you can.

     "I am not aware that I ever committed any offence, that this
     judgment should be thus visited upon _my_ poor head! I never sold
     fowls for what they were _not_; I never cheated anybody, that I
     know of; I do not remember ever having done any unjust act that
     should bring down upon me this terrible vengeance. Yet I am now the
     owner of nearly three hundred of these infernal, cursed, miserable
     ghosts in 'feathered mail,' which I cannot get rid of! Tell me what
     I shall do, and answer promptly.

                                  "Yours, in distress,

                                                       "---- -- ----."

I have smiled over this document, so full of feeling and earnestness, so
lively and touching in its recollections of the days when we went
_chicken_-ing, long time ago! But I have never been able to reply fully
to my ardent friend's numerous inquiries. I don't want those "three
hundred Shanghae devils," though. I have now on hand _nine_ of them
(only, thank Heaven!) myself; and that is quite enough for one farm, at
the present current price of grain.

What has become of all the friends about whom my correspondent so
carefully inquires, I don't know. Not _five_ of them are now _in_ the
hen-trade, however; and there are not ten of them who got _out_ of the
business with a whole skin, from the commencement.

The engine has collapsed its boiler. There was altogether too much
steam crowded on, and the managers were not all "up to snuff." The dead
and wounded and dying are now scattered throughout New England and New
York State chiefly, and their moans can occasionally be heard, though
their groans of repentance come too late to help them.

They recklessly invested their twenties, or fifties, or hundreds, and,
in some instances, their thousands of dollars, in this hum, without any
knowledge of the business, and without any consideration whatever,
except the single aim to keep the bubble floating aloft until they could
realize anticipated fortunes, on a larger or smaller scale, as the case
might be. But the "cars have gone by," and they may now wait for another
train. _Perhaps_ it will come!

Poor fellows! Poor, deluded, crazy, reckless dupes! You have had your
fun, many of you, and you will now have the opportunity to reflect over
the ruins that are piled up around you; while, for the time being, you
may well exclaim, with the sulky and flunkey Moor,

     "_Othello's occupation's_ GONE!"



CHAPTER XLVI.

A MOURNFUL PROCESSION.


I was sitting before my comfortable library fire in midwinter, 1854, and
had been reflecting upon the mutability of human affairs generally, and
the uncertainty of Shanghae-ism more particularly, when I finally
dropped into a gentle slumber in my easy-chair, where I dozed away an
hour, and dreamed.

My thoughts took a very curious turn. I fancied myself sitting before a
large window that opened into a broad public street, in which I suddenly
discovered a multitude of people moving actively about; and I thought it
was some gala-day in the city, for the throng appeared to be excited and
anxious. "The people" were evidently abroad; and the crowds finally
packed themselves along the sidewalks, leaving the wide street open and
clear; and I could overhear the words "They're coming!" "Here they are!"

I looked out, and beheld an immense gathering of human beings
approaching in a line that stretched away as far as the eye could
reach,--a dense mass of moving mortality, that soon arrived, and passed
the window, beneath me. I was alone in the room, and could ask no
questions. I could only see what occurred before me; and I noted down,
as they passed by, this motley PROCESSION, which moved in the following

                             =Order of March.=

                         ESCORT OF INDESCRIBABLES.

            Hatless Aid. [Chief Marshal in Black.] Bootless Aid.

           Police.    TWO EX-MORMONS IN WHITE TUNICS.    Police.

                             Calathumpian Band.

        Whig      {The "_Know Nothing Guards_," with guns}    Democrat
  Office-holders. {    enough for all useful purposes.   }   Expectants.

              THE "INS." [COLLECTOR AND POSTMASTER.] THE "OUTS."

             U.S.   {The "National" Democracy, two deep,} U.S. Dist.
           Marshal. {          in one section.          }   Att'y.

                                   BANNER.
         Motto--"_We know of_ BURNS _that Russia Salve can't cure_."

       "Aids to the Revenue."     [MARSHAL.]    Drawbacks on the Revenue.

     _Kaleb Krushing._ [THE MAN WHO FAINTED IN MEXICO.] Jorge ah! Poll.

                                "_Fanny Fern_,"
                Flanked by a company of disappointed Publishers,
                      twenty-four deep, in twelve sections.

                                   BANNER.
                         Motto.--"_She's a brick!_"

                          Aids.  [MARSHAL.]  Aids.

           President of the "N.E. Mutual Admiration" Hen Society.

           Fat Marshal.    [THE GREAT SHOW MAN.]    Lean Marshal.

                     BAND, playing the "Rogue's March."

                 Marshal.    GHOST OF JOICE HETH.   Marshal.

          Aids,          {A Fejee Mermaid, astride}         Aids,
   of Quaking Shakers.   {    the Woolly Horse.   }   The Happy Family.

          Aids,     {         _Invited Guests._         }     and
      Their readers {      _The Three Historians_,      } "admirers."
                    {  BURNHAM, PRESCOT, and BANCRAFT.  }

                  Escort in the rear, with charged bayonets.

    Police.   {      A _genuine_ "COCHIN-CHINA" Rooster,      }   Police.
              {succeeded by the man who _knew_ him to be such!}

     Marshal.  {The entire United States American National }   Marshal.
   Pea Wilder. {Agricultural Society, in a one-horse buggy.} w. ESS king.

  [The _good_ this association had accomplished was borne along by a stout
  "practical farmer," in a small thimble; the _records_ of its doings were
  inscribed on a huge roll of paper, 16,000 yards long, carried upon a
  truck drawn by twelve yoke of "pure" Devon oxen.]

          BANNER.--Motto: "_Ourselves and those who vote for us._"

      Aid,    {An ex-U.S. Navy Agent who left that office }     Aid,
  Naval store {without having made money out of his place!}     U.S.
    Keeper.   {   BANNER.--Motto: "_Poor, but honest._"   }Sub-Treasurer.

                  { The Mass. Hort. Improvement Society, }
  One hundred and {_en masse_, with several full bands of}   Twenty-five
    twenty-five   {music, on "seedling" accompaniments,  }   hundred and
      Marshals.   {etc.                                  } one gold-medal
                  {                BANNER.               }     seekers
                  {  Motto: "_Cuss the Concord Grape._"  }

   No   { The man who voluntarily gave up his office under the }    No
  Aids. {   National government, _solus_, on horseback, with   } friends.
        {     BANNER.--Motto: "_Few die, and none resign._"    }

               {              "THE YOUNG 'UN,"              }
  The defunct  { in his own barouche, drawn by four "superb }   His
  New England  {          dapple-grey Shanghaes."           } vanquished
  Hen Society. { BANNER.--Motto: }MUSIC.{  BANNER.--Motto:  }Competitors.
               {"_Who's afraid?_"}      {"_Not this child!_"}

       Police. {   HEN MEN WHO HAD MISTAKEN THEIR CALLING,  } Police.
               {twenty-eight deep, in four hundred sections.}

       Aids,     { GRAIN MEN, _with their bills_, }     Aids,
   24 Constables {      in seventy sections,      } All in a row.
                 {        sixty-four deep.        }

           BAND, playing "_Hope told a flattering tale._"

                    { The great-grandson of the man who set }
    Tree-venders    {  out an orchard of dwarf Pear-trees   } with thumbs
         and        {   (in a barouche). He was 102 years   } on their
   Horticulturists, { old, and believed he should see fruit } noses.
                    {   on those same trees "next season"!  }

               Pall Bearers. [ HIS COFFIN, BEHIND. ] Heirs to his estate.

        Aids,     { BELIEVERS THAT COCHITUATE WATER IS }      Aids,
   12 Respectable {       WHOLESOME (in a chaise)      }    Board of
     Physicians.  {                                    } Commissioners.

       15     { Chicken Fanciers who _didn't_ buy their eggs }    15
    Marshals. {  of me, and who _expected they would hatch_! } Marshals.
              {            (Four thousand strong.)           }

     Aids,    { A body of Express Agents, who never shook up }   Aids,
      the     {    the eggs intrusted to them (though they   }    the
  Conductors. {   occasionally shook down their employers).  } Brakemen.

                BAND.--Air: "_O, I never will deceive you!_"

      Flanked by    {   "_My friend_ THE PRESIDENT,"   }     and the
   the Subscribers  { In the carriage presented to him }  "mourners" who
      for _that_    {  by "the people," drawn by that  } _didn't_ obtain
  "Double Harness," { "_superb_ pair of $1500 horses"  }   fat offices.
                    { which we read of in the papers.  }

             Motto:             {          }            Motto:
  "_I'll see you in the Fall._" { BANNERS. } "_Save me from my friends!_"

                                  Full Band.

                 { The Hatch Grey Shanghae Express Co., }
        Aid,     { with the latest news from Nantucket  }       Aid,
    BRASS & CO.  {    and "Marm Hackett's Garden."      }  THE "COLONEL."
                 {   _Motto_: "IMPORTANT, IF TRUE!"     }

      Aid,     { Holders of _Second_ Mortgage R.R. Bonds, }    Aid,
      Two      {        24 deep, in 2400 sections.        }    One
   Presidents. {                 BANNER.                  } Treasurer.
               {  Motto: "_There's a good time coming._"  }

      Aids,    { The owner of the first "Brahma Pootra" }      Aids,
    5 Regular  { fowls in America, with a map of India  }    Faculty of
     Doctors.  { on the seat of his pantaloons.         }  Ripum College.

      Aid    {         The original members of the        }     Aid,
  Lucy Brick {        "WOMEN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION."        } Abby Fulsome.
             { BAND.--Air: "_Why don't the men propose?_" }

      Aids,     { The "wreck of Burnham's character" }       Aids,
    The First   { caused by the _powerful_ newspaper } The "Porte-Monnaie
  Premium Fowls { assaults of one                    }     I owe 'em
                {        THE BEE MINUR, A.SS.        }     Company."

                BANNER.--Motto: "_Don't_ he feel bad!"

       No   { The Poultry Fancier who had found out the exact } Too far
    aid for { difference between a "Cochin-China" and a       }  gone!
      him!  { "Shanghae."                                     }

         Unpaid    { Delinquent subscribers to northern } Disappointed
      Compositors. { _Farmers_, twelve deep, and three  } "Press Gang."
                   {             miles long!            }

          Marshal.  {      The "editor," suffering     }  Marshal.
                    {  from a severe attack of _roup_. }

              {                 Dr. Bangit,                   }
      DAVID.  {  with the unsold copies of his Poultry-Book,  }  GOLIAH.
              { in a huge baggage-wagon, drawn by 14 horses.  }

              { A battalion of victims to the Hen Fever, who }    Aids,
     Aids,    { had bought eggs that "didn't hatch" and who  } 15 friends
  15 Sisters  { were waiting patiently to have their money   }   to the
  of Charity. { returned!                                    }   Insane
              {                                              }    Poor.

    Marshal    { My _legal_ friend (on a mule) who promised } Jail Keeper
      and      { to spend a thousand dollars in prosecuting }    and 4
    Deputy     { me for selling him _Shanghae_ eggs for     } Constables.
    Sheriff.   { _Cochin-Chinas_!                           }

      Aid,    { Fat Johnny Jiles, with the head of a _pure_  }    Aid,
     Barnam.  {     "Black Spanish" crower on a salver.      }   Burnum.

              { The men who _didn't_ take the first premiums }
    Marshals. { (when I was round) at the Poultry-Shows      }  Marshals.
              { (in deep mourning).                          }

       Aids, A   {  The political remains of Frank Pierce, }   Aids,
    "Cabinet" of {  in a toy wheelbarrow, with BANNER,     }  His own
    Curiosities. {  on a "sharp stick." Motto: "_Veto._"   } Opinions!

           Aid,     {   Victims who purchased Minor's   }      Aid,
      Editor of the { "Patent Cross-grained Collateral  }  GEN. BANGIT,
        _Northum    {      Beehives," with Motto:       } of the "Nauvoo
        Farmer_.    { "_Burned child dreads the fire._" }    Legion."

       Aids,    {    _Customers for_ "_Ozier Willow_,"     }    Aids,
   The Sellers. {     in two sections, _one man deep_.     } The Victims.
                { BANNER.--Motto: "_I rather guess not!_"  }

      Marshals   { A huge concourse of "Copper Stock" and }   Marshals.
                 { "Agewuth Land" owners, in deep sables. }

                      FULL BAND.--Air: _Dead March._

        BANNER.--Motto: "_You're sure to win--if you don't lose!_"

        ==> A smooth-skinned _pure_ "Suffolk" Pig, _imported_. <==

                Twenty-four Sewing Machines, "_warranted_."

       Aid,    { President of the "PORTE-MONNAIE I OWE 'EM }    Aid,
    Secretary. {  COMPANY," as Richard III. on horseback.  } Treasurer.

                    Nine "Bother'em Pootrums," rampant.

     The few { The identical lot of "pure-bred" fowls that  }    The
     unlucky { Bangit, Plarsterd, Minor, Humm & Co.,        } Believers
     Buyers. { _imported_ (over the left) "for the Southern }  in this
             { market," in 1853!                            }   story!

                     The Hen that lays two eggs a day!

                  Treasurer of the "Mut. Adm'n Society."

                     Defunct Hucksters, in a tip-cart.

                      Four empty Hen-Coops, on wheels.

                ==> Breeders of _pure_ Alderney cattle! <==
                   who furnish Pedigrees with long tails.

         An effigy of the LAST MAN that will buy Shanghae chickens
                           (in a strait-jacket).

  Police { Purchasers of Live Stock who bought of my competitors; } Sheriff
   and   {                     with BANNER.                       }   and
  Aids.  {     Motto: "_We got more than we bargained for!_"      }  posse.

                   The Hen-Men who "pity Poor Burnham."

                          MY OWN CASH CUSTOMERS,
                             10,000 _strong_!

                                CAVALCADE.

                              "THE PEOPLE,"
                                  MUSIC,
                         And the rest of Mankind,
                                   etc.

The scene was closing! That immense concourse of humbugs and humbugged
had passed on, and I was alone once more. But, a moment afterwards, I
saw the head and face of a comical and good-humored looking Yankee (just
beneath the window), who was in the act of puffing into the air a huge
budget of bubbles, that danced and floated in the atmosphere for a brief
moment, and which, bursting, suddenly awoke me. Here is a sketch of the
_finale_.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XLVII.

MY SHANGHAE DINNER.


I saw by the papers, one day, late in the year 1854, an account of the
return from England of my fat friend Giles, who brought with him the
poultry purchased abroad for Mr. Barnum, and which proved to be a lot of
_pure_ stock, of a remarkable character, as I supposed it would be.

But, while John was absent in Great Britain, the knowing ones there
shook him down, beautifully! His theory, when he left America, four
months previously, was that "hall 'at was wanted 'ere was to get hover
from Hingland pure-bred fowls, and such would _sell_." John brought over
"such," and they _did_ sell; but Barnum was sold by far the worst!

An auction was immediately got up at the American Museum, in New York;
and after a vast deal of drumming, puffing and advertising this
magnificent, just-imported, pure-bred poultry, the sale came off, to a
sorry company, indeed! And the gross amount of the sales of the fowls
thus disposed of, really, was insufficient to pay the _freight_ bills
for bringing them across the Atlantic, to say nothing of their original
high cost abroad. The show-man has since left the hen-business, I learn,
"a wiser if not a better man;" while John retired with the simple
exclamation, "Most extr'ornerry result I hever 'eer'd of in hall my
life!"

Soon after this little episode occurred, the second show of the
"National Poultry Society" (in January, 1855) came off at Barnum's
Museum, in New York; which, notwithstanding the best endeavors of the
"President," was a failure. The "Committee" shut out of their premium
list the Grey Shanghaes, altogether; and the result of this last
exhibition was just what I had anticipated. But Mr. Barnum can well
afford to foot the bills; and, as he is perfectly willing to do this, no
objection will be raised to his choice, I presume. This final exhibition
at New York, I have no doubt, closed up the business, for the present.

As soon as this last fair had closed, and when the lucky and unlucky
contributors returned to Boston, I invited a party of my former
_confrères_ to my residence, to dinner. I had been preparing for this
little event for several days; and the following was the actual "bill of
fare" to which we all sat down, at RUSSET HOUSE, _Melrose_, on the fifth
day of February, 1855:

  +--------------------------------------------------------------------+
  |                                                                    |
  |                              Dinner.                               |
  |                                                                    |
  |                       SOUP--_A la_ SHANGHAE.                       |
  |                                                                    |
  |                   FRESH FISH--WITH CHINA SAUCE.                    |
  |                                                                    |
  | BOILED FOWL--_To wit, the identical Grey Shanghae cock (two years  |
  | old) which took the premium at the_ FIRST _National Poultry Show,  |
  |            in New York, in 1854; then valued at $100_.             |
  |                                                                    |
  |  ROAST--Shanghae Cock, nine months old, weighing, dressed, 10-3/4  |
  |  pounds. Do. Shanghae Pullets, same age, drawing, dressed, 7-1/2   |
  |       pounds each. Do. Spring Shanghae Chickens in variety.        |
  |                                                                    |
  |    BAKED--Pure "Suffolk" Pig, with genu-wine "Mandarin" Sauce.     |
  |                                                                    |
  |                                                                    |
  |                            ENTREMENTS.                             |
  |                                                                    |
  |    BROILED Shanghae Chicks.      |     FRIED Shanghae Pullets.     |
  |    STEWED Shanghae Chickens.     |     CODDLED Shanghae Stags.     |
  |    CURRIED Shanghae Fowls.       |     FRICASSEED Shanghaes.       |
  |                         SHANGHAES TRUFFLED,                        |
  |                                 and                                |
  |                     MORE SHANGHAES, IF WANTED!                     |
  |                                                                    |
  |                                                                    |
  |                              DESSERT.                              |
  |                                                                    |
  |    Shanghae Chicken Pie.         |    Pudding _a la_ Shanghae.     |
  |    Shanghae Omelets.             |    Candied Cocks' Spurs.        |
  |    Shanghae Custards.            |    Crystallized Pullets' Combs. |
  |    Chinese Pudding.              |    Shanghae Wattles, in Syrup.  |
  |                                                                    |
  |                                                                    |
  |                    SHANGHAE-QUILL TOOTH-PICKS,                     |
  |                                 and                                |
  |                    MORE SHANGHAES IN THE YARD!                     |
  |                                                                    |
  +--------------------------------------------------------------------+

To this repast, with thankful hearts, a company of five-and-twenty sat
down, and, as nearly as my recollection now serves me, the friends did
ample justice to my Shanghae dinner. After two hours over the _varied_
dishes (varied in size and style of cooking only), the cloth was
removed, and the intellectual treat commenced with a song, written
"expressly for this occasion," by the Young 'Un, which was delivered
with admirable effect by "one who had been there," and in the chorus of
which the guests unitedly joined, with surprising harmony and unison.
The following toasts were then submitted:

_By the Man in the Black Coat._--The Memory of the defunct Rooster we
have this day devoured: Peace to his manes! (Drank standing, in
silence.)

_By a Successful Breeder._--The health, long life, and prosperity, of
our absent cash customers,--at home and abroad.

_By an Amateur._--Honor to the discoverer of the exact difference
between a "Shanghae" and a "Cochin-China" fowl, if he shall ever turn
up!

_By the "Confidence" Man._--The Continuity of the beautifully-elongated
Chinese fowls: May their shadows never be less!

_By a Victim._--The Bother'em Wot-yer-call-'ems: Dammum! (Nine cheers
for Doctors Bennett and Miner.)

_By a Disappointed "Fancier."_--Barn-yard fowls and white-shelled eggs,
for _my_ money. (Three cheers for the old-style biddies.)

_By the Youth in a White Vest._--"Fanny Fern": The hen that lays the
golden eggs. (Six cheers for Fanny, and the fair sex generally.)

_By a Repentant._--The whole Shanghae Tribe: Curse 'em; the more _fowls_
you see of this race, the less _eggs_ there are about! (This was deemed
slightly _personal_, but it was permitted to pass; the gentleman spoke
with unusual feeling; he had been only three years in the trade, and had
expended some sixteen hundred dollars in experimenting with a view to
establish a _breed_ that would lay _two_ eggs daily.)

_By One of my "Friends."_--The Young 'Un: The only hen-man who has put
the knife in up to the handle with a decent grace! (Nine cheers
followed, for the importer of the only pure-bred poultry in America.)

This last sentiment called me to my feet, naturally enough; and, as
nearly as I remember, I thus addressed my guests, amidst the most marked
and respectful attention:

     "GENTLEMEN: I think I have seen it written somewhere, or I have
     heard it said, 'It is a long lane that has no turn in it.' I
     believe, however, that, although the lane we have most of us been
     travelling for the last six years has proved somewhat tortuous as
     well as lengthy, we have now passed the _turn_ in it, and have
     arrived very nearly at the end of the road.

     "Few of you, gentlemen, have met with so many thorns, _en route_,
     as I have; none of you, perhaps, have gathered so many roses. I am
     content, and I trust that everybody is as well satisfied with the
     results of this journey as _I_ am. _The Shanghae trade is done_,
     gentlemen! We have this day eaten up what, four years ago, would
     have been the nucleus, at least, of a small fortune to any one of
     us who at that time might have chanced to have possessed it. But
     the fever is over; the demand for giraffe cocks and chaise-top hens
     is passed; the 'poor remains of beauty once admired, in my premium
     fowls,' now lie scattered about the dishes that have just left this
     table; and 'Brahma-pootra-ism' is now no longer rampant.

     "Perhaps, gentlemen, as you entertain opinions of your own upon
     this delightfully pleasing subject of poultry-raising generally,
     and of the propagation of Shanghae fowls in particular, you would
     care to hear nothing of my views regarding this point. Yet, I pray
     you, indulge me for a single moment--in all seriousness--and permit
     me to say (without the slightest intention of being personal), that
     we have proved ourselves a clan of short-sighted mortals, at the
     best, during the last half-dozen years, in our crazy devotion to
     what we have deemed an honorable and laudable 'profession,' but
     which has been, in reality, the most shallow, heartless,
     unreasonable, silly and bottomless humbug that grown-up men have
     ever been cajoled with, since the hour when Adam was fooled by the
     accomplished and coquetting Eve!" (Cries of "You're more'n half
     right!" "That's a fact!" "Exactly--just so!")

     "There is now living in Melrose, Mass., gentlemen, a breeder who
     begun at the beginning of this excitement, who has since followed
     up the details of this hum with a zeal worthy of a better cause;
     and who has accumulated a handsome competency in this traffic, by
     attending strictly to his own affairs, while he has uniformly acted
     upon the principle that this world is sufficiently capacious to
     accommodate all God's creatures, without jostling. If you should
     chance to meet this now retired fowl-fancier, he will tell you that
     he has had, and believes he still has, many personal friends; but
     the very _best_ 'friend' he has ever known is the enjoyment of his
     present income of eight per cent. interest, per annum, upon thirty
     thousand dollars. But this is a digression, and I beg pardon for
     the allusion.

     "I look back with no regrets at the past, gentlemen. We have seen a
     great many merry days, and, in the midst of the competition and
     humbuggery in which we enlisted, we have often differed in
     sentiment. But _here_,--at the close of the route on which we have
     so long been journeying,--let us remember only the good traits that
     we any of us possess, while from this point we forget the errors
     that ourselves and our companions may have committed, forever."
     (Three times three, "and one more," were here given for the
     speaker, his friends, and all the rest of mankind.)

     "I will say no more, gentlemen. My stomach is too full for further
     convenient utterance; and I will conclude with a sentiment to
     which, I am sure, you will all respond. I will give you--

     "'The Hen Fever!'"--

     "Don't, _don't_!" shrieked the crowd. "We've had that disease once,
     and that is quite sufficient."

     "Indulge me, gentlemen, one moment, and I will propose, then--

     "'THE HEN TRADE: Though a _fowl_ calling, it puts _fair_ money in
     the purse, when "judiciously" managed. May none of you ever do
     worse, pecuniarily, in this humble "profession," than has your
     friend--the subscriber.'"

Another round of hearty cheers succeeded this sentiment, a parting
bumper was enjoyed, and the circle separated, to meet again at
Philippi,--or elsewhere,--where the author hopes to encounter only
friendly faces, whatever may have been his business relations with his
acquaintances in the days that are now passed away.

The mania is over. I have frankly repeated to you the humble history of
this curious fever, and we have reached

THE END.

[Illustration]



                               LIST OF BOOKS
                                PUBLISHED BY
                             JAMES FRENCH & CO.,
                        78 Washington Street, Boston.


                               SCHOOL BOOKS.

FOSTER'S BOOK-KEEPING, BY DOUBLE AND SINGLE ENTRY, both in single and
copartnership business, exemplified in three sets of books. Twelfth
Edition. 8vo. Cloth, extra.                                         1 00

FOSTER'S BOOK-KEEPING, BY SINGLE ENTRY, exemplified in two sets of
books. Boards.                                                        38

FRENCH'S SYSTEM OF PRACTICAL PENMANSHIP, founded on scientific
movements; combining the principles on which the method of teaching is
based.--Illustrated by engraved copies, for the use of Teachers and
Learners. Twenty-seventh Edition.                                     25

    This little treatise seems well fitted to teach everything which
    can be taught of the theory of Penmanship. The style proposed is
    very simple. The copperplate fac-similes of Mr. French's writing
    are as neat as anything of the kind we ever saw.--_Post._

    Mr. French has illustrated his theory with some of the most
    elegant specimens of execution, which prove him master of his
    science.--_Courier._

    This work is of a useful character, evidently illustrating an
    excellent system. We have already spoken of it in terms of
    approbation.--_Journal._

    This little work of his is one of the best and most useful
    publications of the kind that we have seen.--_Transcript._

BEAUTIES OF WRITING, containing twenty large specimens of Ornamental
Penmanship, Pen Drawing, and off-hand Flourishing.                    75

BOSTON COPY-BOOK, comprising nearly two hundred engraved copies, for the
use of Schools and Academies.                                         42

LADIES' COPY-BOOK, containing many beautiful engraved copies, which are
a perfect imitation of the natural hand writing; also including German
Text and Old English.                                                 17

BOSTON ELEMENTARY COPY-BOOK, comprising large and small Text Hand, for
Schools.                                                          12-1/2

COOK'S MERCANTILE SYSTEM OF PENMANSHIP. Fourth Revised Edition.   37-1/2

THE ART of PEN-DRAWING, containing examples of the usual styles, adorned
with a variety of Figures and Flourishes, executed by command of hand.
Also a variety of Ornamental Penmanship.                              75


                         MISCELLANEOUS AND JUVENILE.

TURKEY AND THE TURKS, by Dr. J.V.C. Smith, Mayor of Boston. 320 pages.
12mo. Cloth.                                                          75

    It is a most excellent work. It will have a large sale, for it
    embraces more real information about real Turks and their strange
    peculiarities than anything we have yet read.--_Post._

THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE RECORD, for the years 1847, 1848, 1849, 1850 and
1851; one of the most valuable American Statistical Works. 5 vols. 12mo.
Cloth.                                                              5 00

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE FESTIVAL. A graphic account of the Assemblage of the
"Sons of New Hampshire" at Boston, Hon. Daniel Webster presiding.
Illustrated with portraits of Webster, Woodbury and Wilder. 8vo. Cloth,
gilt.                                                               2 00

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                     3 00

SECOND FESTIVAL of the "Sons of New Hampshire." Illustrated with
portraits of Webster, Wilder, Appleton and Chickering. 8vo. Cloth, gilt.
                                                                    2 00

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                     3 00

FESTIVAL. 2 vols. in one. 8vo. Cloth, gilt.                         2 50

ELEANOR: or, Life without Love. 12mo. Cloth.                          75

LIFE IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA. Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth.                75

THE VACATION: OR, MRS. STANLEY AND HER CHILDREN. By Mrs. J. Thayer.
Illustrated. 18mo. Cloth. Third Edition.                              50

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 75

SUNSHINE AND SHADE: OR, THE DENHAM FAMILY. By Sarah Maria. Fourth
Edition. 18mo. Cloth.                                             37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 56

THE DREAM FULFILLED: OR, THE TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS OF THE MORELAND FAMILY.
18mo. Cloth.                                                          42

THE SAME, Gilt Edges. Fifth Edition.                              62-1/2

THE COOPER'S SON: OR, THE PRIZE OF VIRTUE. A Tale of the Revolution.
Written for the Young. 18mo. Cloth. Sixth Edition. (In press.)    37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 56

THE SOCIABLE STORY TELLER. Being a Selection of new Anecdotes, humorous
Tales, amusing Stories and Witticisms; calculated to entertain and
enliven the Social Circle. Third Edition. 18mo. Cloth.                42

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                             62-1/2

TALMUDIC MAXIMS. Translated from the Hebrew; together with other
sayings, compiled from various authors. By L.S. D'Israel. 18mo.
Cloth.                                                                50

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 75

LECTURES TO YOUTH. Containing instructions preparatory to their entrance
upon the active duties of life. By Rev. R.F. Lawrence. 18mo. Cloth.   50

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 75

THE SABBATH MADE FOR MAN: or, INSTITUTED BY DIVINE AUTHORITY. By Rev.
Dr. Cornell. 18mo. Cloth.                                         33-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 50

CONSUMPTION FORESTALLED AND PREVENTED. By. W.M. Cornell, A.M., M.D.,
member of the Mass. Medical Society. 18mo. Cloth. Fourth Edition. 37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges.                                                 56

PASSION AND OTHER TALES. By Mrs. J. Thayer, Author of "Floral Gems,"
&c. &c. 16mo. Cloth.                                              62-1/2

TURNOVER. A Tale of New Hampshire. Paper.                             25

THE HISTORY OF THE HEN FEVER; A HUMOROUS RECORD. By Geo. P. Burnham.
With twenty Illustrations. 12mo. Cloth.                             1 25

    The work is written in a happy but ludicrous style, and this
    reliable history of the fowl _mania_ in America, will create an
    immense sensation.--_Courier._


                           NEW MINIATURE VOLUMES.

THE ART OF CONVERSING. Written for the instruction of Youth in the
polite manners and language of the drawing-room, by a Society of
Gentlemen; with an illustrative title. Fourteenth Edition. Gilt
Edges.                                                            37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50

FLORAL GEMS: OR, THE SONGS OF THE FLOWERS. By Mrs. J. Thayer.
Thirteenth Edition, with a beautiful frontispiece. Gilt Edges.    37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50

THE AMETHYST: OR, POETICAL GEMS. A Gift Book for all seasons.
Illustrated. Gilt Edges.                                          37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       40

ZION. With Illustrative Title. By Rev. Mr. Taylor.                    42

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50

THE TRIUNE. With Illustrative Title. By Rev. Mr. Taylor.          37-1/2

TRIAD. With Illustrative Title. By Rev. Timothy A. Taylor.        37-1/2

TWO MOTTOES. By Rev. T.A. Taylor.                                 37-1/2

SOLACE. By Rev. T.A. Taylor.                                      37-1/2

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50

SONNETS. By Edward Moxon.                                         31-1/4

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50

GRAY'S ELEGY, AND OTHER POEMS. The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray.
"Poetry--Poetry;--Gray--Gray!" [Daniel Webster, the night before his
death, Oct. 24, 1852.].                                               31

THE SAME, Gilt Edges and Sides.                                       50


The following Writing Books are offered on Liberal Terms.

FRENCH'S NEW WRITING BOOK, with a fine engraved copy on each page. Just
published, in Four Numbers, on a highly-improved plan.

    No. 1 Contains the First Principles, &c.              10
    No. 2 A fine Copy Hand.                               10
    No. 3 A bold Business Hand Writing.                   10
    No. 4 Beautiful Epistolary Writing for the Lady.      10

    James French & Co., No. 78 Washington street, have just published
    a new series of Writing Books for the use of Schools and Academies.
    They are arranged upon a new and improved plan, with a copy on each
    page, and ample instructions for learners. We commend them to the
    attention of teachers and parents.--_Transcript._

    They commence with those simple forms which the learner needs first
    to make, and they conduct him, by natural and appropriate steps, to
    those styles of the art which indicate the chirography not only of
    the finished penman, but which are adapted to the wants of those who
    wish to become accomplished accountants.--_Courier._

    A new and original system of Writing Books, which cannot fail to
    meet with favor. They consist of a series, and at the top of each
    page is a finely-executed copy. We cordially recommend the
    work.--_Bee._

    It is easily acquired, practical and beautiful.--_Fitchburg
    Sentinel._

    We have no hesitation in pronouncing them superior to anything
    of the kind ever issued.--_Star Spangled Banner._

FRENCH'S PRACTICAL WRITING BOOK, for the use of Schools and Academies;
in Three Numbers, with a copy for each page.

    No. 1, Commencing with the First Principles.                     10
    No. 2, Running-hand copies for Business Purposes.                10
    No. 3, Very fine copies, together with German Text and Old
    English.                                                         10

BOSTON SCHOOL WRITING BOOK, for the use of Public and Private Schools;
in Six Numbers, with copies to assist the Teacher and aid the Learner.

    No. 1 Contains the Elementary Principles, together with the Large
    Text Hand.                                                       10

    No. 2 Contains the Principles and First Exercises for a Small
    Hand.                                                            10

    No. 3 Consists of the Capital Letters, and continuation of Small
    Letters.                                                         10

    No. 4 Contains Business-hand Copies, beautifully executed.       10

    No. 5 Consists of a continuation of Business Writing, also an
    Alphabet of Roman Print.                                         10

    No. 6 Contains many beautiful specimens of Epistolary Writing,
    also an Alphabet of Old English and German Text.                 10

LADIES' WRITING BOOK, for the use of Teachers and Learners, with three
engraved copies on each page, and the manner of holding the pen, sitting
at the table, &c., explained.                                        13

GENTLEMEN'S WRITING BOOK, for the use of Teachers and Learners, with
three engraved copies on each page, and the manner of holding the pen,
sitting at the table, &c., explained.                                13

YANKEE PENMAN, Containing 48 pages, with engraved copies.            33

FRENCH'S EAGLE COVER WRITING BOOKS, made of fine blue paper, without
copies.                                                               7



Transcriber's Note


Punctuation and formatting markup have been normalized.

Apparent printer's errors have been retained, unless stated below.

Page numbers cited in illustration captions refer to their discussion in
the text. Illustrations have been moved near their mention in the text.

The symbols, ==> and <==, replace the character of a pointing hand that
appeared in the text.

Page 21, "gray" changed to "grey" for consistency. (...rich and poor,
white, black and grey,--_everybody_ was more or less seriously affected
by this curious epidemic.)

Page 60, "anexed" changed to "annexed". (In the _addenda_ to my Report
(above named) there appeared the annexed statement, by somebody:)

Page 88, "H.B.M." changed to "H.R.M." (Her Royal Majesty) for
consistency. (From Hon. Col. Phipps, H.R.M. Secretary.)

Page 116, "oustrip" changed to "outstrip". (At this time there was found
an ambitious individual, occasionally, who got "ahead of his time," and
whose laudable efforts to outstrip his neighbors were only checked by
the natural results of his own superior "progressive" notions)

Page 153, "millenium" changed to "millennium". ("Fanny" went into New
York State, crowing when she left, crowing as she went, and continuing
to crow until she crowed the community there clear through the next
fourth o' July, out into the fabled millennium.)

Page 162, "@" changed to "or". (The prices for chickens ranged from $12
_or_ $15 a pair, to $25 or $30, and often $40 to $50, a pair.)

On Page 235, *** represents the symbol used in the text which resembles
an inverted asterism.





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