Phineas Taylor Barnum Was Born in Bethel, Connecticut, on July 5, 1810,
and grew up to be one of the world's greatest (and wealthiest) showmen. When he
would do almost anything to entice paying customers.
One of his first acts featured Joice Heth, an African-American woman who
was 'apparently' 161 years old. Barnum told his audiences that she was
George Washingtons (the first president of the United States) nurse. But
after she died in 1836, it was discovered that she was a mere 80 years old
and PT Barnum was accused of making up the whole story.
Barnum attracted visitors in the early '40's to his American Museum in
New York City. Where such human attractions like Siamese twins and
a midget called General Tom Thumb appeared, alongside other artifacts,
such as the Feejee, or Fiji Mermaid, which looked like it was half-monkey
Tom Thumb, (Charles S. Stratton), was only 25 inches tall when he joined the
museum in 1842, and even though still a child at that time, Barnum told
visitors that he was a grown man.
Thumb and some of the other attractions went on tour with Barnum. They
traveled to England and performed for Queen Victoria in 1844.
One of PT Barnums biggest successes, was introducing Opera Star
Jenny Lind to the American audiences in 1850. They both made a great
deal of money from the perfomances Barnum arranged accross the country.
Barnum then took a break from the world of entertainment and entered
politics. He served in the Connecticut legislature and was mayor of the
city of Bridgeport, in Connecticut.
In 1871, after experiencing money problems, he went back on the road with
P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus.
It was possibly the largest circus of its kind at the time. Traveling the country,
it was reported to have earned about $400,000 in its first year, a very large
amount of money in those days.
He began calling his circus "the Greatest Show on Earth" and everyone
flocked to see the sideshow attractions, animal acts, and amazing feats,
such as sword swallowing etc.
Barnum partnered with rival James A. Bailey and formed 'Ringling Bros.
and Barnum & Bailey Circus'. (The Ringling brothers bought the circus in
1907.) Jumbo the elephant was one of the early 'real' crowd pleasers.
Barnum's old friend, Tom Thumb, also appeared in the circus.
PT Barnum was a real 'Showman' right up to his death, and
it's remembered that his last words were about the circus:
"Ask Bailey what the box office was at the Garden last night."
He died in his sleep on April 7, 1891
PT Barnum, considered to be 'The Greatest Showman in the History of
the Universe' reveals his own hard learned secrets for accumulating vast
sums of wealth, so that anyone copying his aptitude can become rich.
After an amazing career where he 'made' and 'lost' fortunes, captivated
Kings and Queens, by using his genius, wit and fortitude. PT. Barnum
wrote these golden rules for everyone to be making money.
Phineas T. (P.T.) Barnum (1810-1891) was a very popular lecturer in his
day. He captivated audiences at lyceum`s, museums, theatres, in private
homes, or any room that would hold an audience willing to pay.
He never uttered the phrase "there`s a sucker born every minute",
(Contrary to public acclaim). Barnum alway endeavoured to conduct his
business enterprises in an honest, ethical manner. Showing respect to his
customers and ensuring that they were satisfied. Infact, he was one of the
first to really appreciate fully, and to articulate that an 'honest' approach
was the most rewarding, and reliable route to long-term wealth.
He was one of the 'old pioneers' of business ethics.
Barnum discovered throughout his business career, that nearly all of his
deceptive, or 'shady' schemes "ended in disaster," reducing him "to the
pinching income of $4 per week." Whereas his vast fortune derived
almost wholly from his legitimate enterprises.
Barnum learned that, in business, as in life generally. Virtue is considerably
more than its own reward. News about this discovery can be lost easily when
it's imbedded among novels, films and plays of the day. But it was of great
significance to Barnum. But more importantly, to the massive economic
expansion that took place in what we now call 'the developed world' during
and after his lifetime.
The Art of Money Getting.
Golden Rules for Making Money.
P. T. Barnum
In the United States, where we have more land than people, it is not at all
difficult for persons in good health to make money. In this comparatively
new field there are so many avenues of success open, so many vocations
which are not crowded, that any person of either sex who is willing, at least
for the time being, to engage in any respectable occupation that offers,
may find lucrative employment.
Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only to set their
minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any
other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done.
But however easy it may be found to make money, I have no doubt many
of my hearers will agree it is the most difficult thing in the world to keep it.
The road to wealth is, as Dr. Franklin truly says, “as plain as the road to the
mill.” It consists simply in expending less than we earn; that seems to be a
very simple problem. Mr. Micawber, one of those happy creations of the
genial Dickens, puts the case in a strong light when he says that to have
annual income of twenty pounds per annum, and spend twenty pounds and
sixpence, is to be the most miserable of men; whereas, to have an income
of only twenty pounds, and spend but nineteen pounds and sixpence is to
be the happiest of mortals. Many of my readers may say, “we understand
this: this is economy, and we know economy is wealth; we know we can’t
eat our cake and keep it also.”
Yet I beg to say that perhaps more cases of failure arise from mistakes on
this point than almost any other. The fact is, many people think they under-
stand economy when they really do not.
True economy is misapprehended, and people go through life without
properly comprehending what that principle is. One says, “I have an income
of so much, and here is my neighbor who has the same; yet every year he
gets something ahead and I fall short; why is it? I know all about economy.”
He thinks he does, but he does not.
There are men who think that economy consists in saving cheese-parings
and candle-ends, in cutting off two pence from the laundress’ bill and doing
all sorts of little, mean, dirty things. Economy is not meanness.
The misfortune is, also, that this class of persons let their economy apply in
only one direction. They fancy they are so wonderfully economical in saving
a half-penny where they ought to spend twopence, that they think they can
afford to squander in other directions.
A few years ago, before kerosene oil was discovered or thought of, one
might stop overnight at almost any farmer’s house in the agricultural districts
and get a very good supper, but after supper he might attempt to read in
the sitting-room, and would find it impossible with the inefficient light of one
candle. The hostess, seeing his dilemma, would say: “It is rather difficult to
read here evenings; the proverb says ‘you must have a ship at sea in order
to be able to burn two candles at once; we never have an extra candle
except on extra occasions.”
These extra occasions occur, perhaps, twice a year. In this way the good
woman saves five, six, or ten dollars in that time: but the information which
might be derived from having the extra light would, of course, far outweigh
a ton of candles.
But the trouble does not end here. Feeling that she is so economical in
tallow candies, she thinks she can afford to go frequently to the village
and spend twenty or thirty dollars for ribbons and furbelows, many of which
are not necessary. This false connote may frequently be seen in men of
business, and in those instances it often runs to writing-paper. You find
good businessmen who save all the old envelopes and scraps, and would
not tear a new sheet of paper, if they could avoid it, for the world.
This is all very well; they may in this way save five or ten dollars a year, but
being so economical (only in note paper), they think they can afford to waste
time; to have expensive parties, and to drive their carriages. This is an
illustration of’ Dr. Franklin’s “saving at the spigot and wasting at the bung-
hole;” “penny wise and pound foolish.” Punch in speaking of this “one idea”
class of people says “they are like the man who bought a penny herring for
his family’s dinner and then hired a coach and four to take it home.” I never
knew a man to succeed by practising this kind of economy.
True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-goings.
Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair
of gloves; mend the old dress: live on plainer food if need be; so that, under
all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a
margin in favor of the income. A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at
interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way the desired result is attained.
It requires some training, perhaps, to accomplish this economy, but when
once used to it, you will find there is more satisfaction in rational saving than
in irrational spending.
Here is a recipe which I recommend: I have found it to work an excellent
cure for extravagance, and especially for mistaken economy: When you
find that you have no surplus at the end of the year, and yet have a good
income, I advise you to take a few sheets of paper and form them into a
book and mark down every item of expenditure. Post it every day or week
in two columns, one headed “necessaries” or even “comforts”, and the
other headed “luxuries,” and you will find that the latter column will be
double, treble, and frequently ten times greater than the former.
The real comforts of life cost but a small portion of what most of us can earn.
Dr. Franklin says “it is the eyes of others and not our own eyes which ruin us.
If all the world were blind except myself l should not care for fine clothes or
furniture.” It is the fear of what Mrs. Grundy may say that keeps the noses of
many worthy families to the grindstone.
In America many persons like to repeat “we are all free and equal,” but it
is a great mistake in more senses than one.
That we are born “free and equal” is a glorious truth in one sense, yet we
are not all born equally rich, and we never shall be. One may say;
“there is a man who has an income of fifty thousand dollars per annum,
while I have but one thousand dollars; I knew that fellow when he was poor
like myself; now he is rich and thinks he is better than I am; I will show him
that I am as good as he is; I will go and buy a horse and buggy; no, I cannot
do that, but I will go and hire one and ride this afternoon on the same road
that he does, and thus prove to him that I am as good as he is.”
My friend, you need not take that trouble; you can easily prove that you are
“as good as he is;” you have only to behave as well as he does; but you
cannot make anybody believe that you are rich as he is. Besides, if you
put on these “airs,” add waste your time and spend your money, your poor
wife will be obliged to scrub her fingers off at home, and buy her tea two
ounces at a time, and everything else in proportion, in order that you may
keep up “appearances,” and, after all, deceive nobody. On the other hand,
Mrs. Smith may say that her next-door neighbor married Johnson for his
money, and “everybody says so.” She has a nice one-thousand dollar
camel’s hair shawl, and she will make Smith get her an imitation one, and
she will sit in a pew right next to her neighbor in church, in order to prove
that she is her equal.
My good woman, you will not get ahead in the world, if your vanity and envy
thus take the lead. In this country, where we believe the majority ought to
rule, we ignore that principle in regard to fashion, and let a handful of
people, calling themselves the aristocracy, run up a false standard of
perfection, and in endeavoring to rise to that standard, we constantly keep
ourselves poor; all the time digging away for the sake of outside
How much wiser to be a “law unto ourselves” and say, “we will regulate
our out-goings by our income, and lay up something for a rainy day.”
People ought to be as sensible on the subject of money-getting as on
any other subject.
Like causes produces like effects. You cannot accumulate a fortune
by taking the road that leads to poverty. It needs no prophet to tell us that
those who live fully up to their means, without any thought of a reverse in
this life, can never attain a pecuniary independence.
Men and women accustomed to gratify every whim and caprice, will find
it hard, at first, to cut down their various unnecessary expenses, and will
feel it a great self-denial to live in a smaller house than they have been
accustomed to, with less expensive furniture, less company, less costly
clothing, fewer servants, a less number of balls, parties, theater-goings,
carriage-ridings, pleasure excursions, cigar-smokings, liquor-drinkings,
and other extravagances; but, after all, if they will try the plan of laying by
a “nest-egg,” or, in other words, a small sum of money, at interest or
judiciously invested in land, they will be surprised at the pleasure to be
derived from constantly adding to their little “pile,” as well as from all the
economical habits which are engendered by this course.
The old suit of clothes, and the old bonnet and dress, will answer for
another season; the Croton or spring water taste better than champagne;
a cold bath and a brisk walk will prove more exhilarating than a ride in
the finest coach; a social chat, an evening’s reading in the family circle,
or an hour’s play of “hunt the slipper” and “blind man’s buff” will be far
more pleasant than a fifty or five hundred dollar party, when the reflection
on the difference in cost is indulged in by those who begin to know the
pleasures of saving.
Thousands of men are kept poor, and tens of thousands are made so
after they have acquired quite sufficient to support them well through life,
in consequence of laying their plans of living on too broad a platform.
Some families expend twenty thousand dollars per annum, and some
much more, and would scarcely know how to live on less, while others
secure more solid enjoyment frequently on a twentieth part of that
Prosperity is a more severe ordeal than adversity, especially sudden
prosperity. “Easy come, easy go,” is an old and true proverb. A spirit of
pride and vanity, when permitted to have full sway, is the undying canker-
worm which gnaws the very vitals of a man’s worldly possessions, let
them be small or great, hundreds, or millions. Many persons, as they
begin to prosper, immediately expand their ideas and commence
expending for luxuries, until in a short time their expenses swallow up
their income, and they become ruined in their ridiculous attempts to
keep up appearances, and make a “sensation.”
I know a gentleman of fortune who says, that when he first began to
prosper, his wife would have a new and elegant sofa. “That sofa,” he
says, “cost me thirty thousand dollars!” When the sofa reached the
house, it was found necessary to get chairs to match; then side-boards,
carpets and tables “to correspond” with them, and so on through the
entire stock of furniture; when at last it was found that the house itself
was quite too small and old-fashioned for the furniture, and a new one
was built to correspond with the new purchases; “thus,” added my friend,
“summing up an outlay of thirty thousand dollars, caused by that single
sofa, and saddling on me, in the shape of servants, equipage, and the
necessary expenses attendant upon keeping up a fine ‘establishment,’
a yearly outlay of eleven thousand dollars, and a tight pinch at that:
whereas, ten years ago, we lived with much more real comfort, because
with much less care, on as many hundreds.
The truth is,” he continued, “that sofa would have brought me to
inevitable bankruptcy, had not a most unexampled title to prosperity
kept me above it, and had I not checked the natural desire to ‘cut a dash’.
The foundation of success in life is good health: that is the substratum
fortune; it is also the basis of happiness. A person cannot accumulate
a fortune very well when he is sick. He has no ambition; no incentive;
no force. Of course, there are those who have bad health and cannot
help it: you cannot expect that such persons can accumulate wealth,
but there are a great many in poor health who need not be so. If, then,
sound health is the foundation of success and happiness in life, how
important it is that we should study the laws of health, which is but
another expression for the laws of nature! The nearer we keep to the
laws of nature, the nearer we are to good health, and yet how many
persons there are who pay no attention to natural laws, but absolutely
transgress them, even against their own natural inclination.
We ought to know that the “sin of ignorance” is never winked at in
regard to the violation of nature’s laws; their infraction always brings
the penalty. A child may thrust its finger into the flames without knowing
it will burn, and so suffers, repentance, even, will not stop the smart.
Many of our ancestors knew very little about the principle of ventilation.
They did not know much about oxygen, whatever other “gin” they might
have been acquainted with; and consequently they built their houses
with little seven-by-nine feet bedrooms, and these good old pious Puritans
would lock themselves up in one of these cells, say their prayers and go
to bed. In the morning they would devoutly return thanks for the
“preservation of their lives,” during the night, and nobody had better
reason to be thankful. Probably some big crack in the window, or in
the door, let in a little fresh air, and thus saved them.
Many persons knowingly violate the laws of nature against their
better impulses, for the sake of fashion. For instance, there is
one thing that nothing living except a vile worm ever naturally
loved, and that is tobacco; yet how many persons there are who
deliberately train an unnatural appetite, and overcome this
implanted aversion for tobacco, to such a degree that they get
to love it. They have got hold of a poisonous, filthy weed, or rather
that takes a firm hold of them. Here are married men who run
about spitting tobacco juice on the carpet and floors, and
sometimes even upon their wives besides.
They do not kick their wives out of doors like drunken men, but
their wives, I have no doubt, often wish they were outside of the
house. Another perilous feature is that this artificial appetite, like
jealousy, “grows by what it feeds on;” when you love that which
is unnatural, a stronger appetite is created for the hurtful thing
than the natural desire for what is harmless.
There is an old proverb which says that “habit is second nature,”
but an artificial habit is stronger than nature. Take for instance,
an old tobacco-chewer; his love for the “quid” is stronger than
his love for any particular kind of food. He can give up roast
beef easier than give up the weed.
Young lads regret that they are not men; they would like to go to
bed boys and wake up men; and to accomplish this they copy
the bad habits of their seniors. Little Tommy and Johnny see
their fathers or uncles smoke a pipe, and they say, “If I could
only do that, I would be a man too; uncle John has gone out and
left his pipe of tobacco, let us try it.” They take a match and light
it, and then puff away.
“We will learn to smoke; do you like it Johnny?”
That lad dolefully replies: “Not very much; it tastes bitter;” by and
by he grows pale, but he persists arid he soon offers up a
sacrifice on the altar of fashion; but the boys stick to it and
persevere until at last they conquer their natural appetites and
become the victims of 'acquired tastes'.
I speak “by the book,” for I have noticed its effects on myself,
having gone so far as to smoke ten or fifteen cigars a day;
although I have not used the weed during the last fourteen years,
and never shall again. The more a man smokes, the more he
craves smoking; the last cigar smoked simply excites the desire
for another, and so on incessantly.
Take the tobacco-chewer. In the morning, when he gets up, he
puts a quid in his mouth and keeps it there all day, never taking
it out except to exchange it for a fresh one, or when he is going
to eat; oh! yes, at intervals during the day and evening, many a
chewer takes out the quid and holds it in his hand long enough
to take a drink, and then pop it goes back again.
This simply proves that the appetite for rum is even stronger than
that for tobacco. When the tobacco-chewer goes to your country
seat and you show him your grapery and fruit house, and the
beauties of your garden, when you offer him some fresh, ripe fruit,
and say, “My friend, I have got here the most delicious apples, and
pears, and peaches, and apricots; I have imported them from
Spain, France and Italy—just see those luscious grapes; there is
nothing more delicious nor more healthy than ripe fruit, so help
yourself; I want to see you delight yourself with these things;” he
will roll the dear quid under his tongue and answer, “No, I thank
you, I have got tobacco in my mouth.”
His palate has become narcotized by the noxious weed, and he
has lost, in a great measure, the delicate and enviable taste for
fruits. This shows what expensive, useless and injurious habits
men will get into. I speak from experience. I have smoked until I
trembled like an aspen leaf, the blood rushed to my head, and I
had a palpitation of the heart which I thought was heart disease,
till I was almost killed with fright.
When I consulted my physician, he said “break off tobacco using.”
I was not only injuring my health and spending a great deal of
money, but I was setting a bad example. I obeyed his counsel.
No young man in the world ever looked so beautiful, as he
thought he did, behind a fifteen cent cigar or a meerschaum!
These remarks apply with tenfold force to the use of intoxicating
drinks. To make money, requires a clear brain. A man has got to
see that two and two make four; he must lay all his plans with
reflection and forethought, and closely examine all the details
and the ins and outs of business. As no man can succeed in
business unless he has a brain to enable him to lay his plans,
and reason to guide him in their execution, so, no matter how
bountifully a man may be blessed with intelligence, if the brain
is muddled, and his judgment warped by intoxicating drinks, it
is impossible for him to carry on business successfully.
How many good opportunities have passed, never to return,
while a man was sipping a “social glass,” with his friend!
How many foolish bargains have been made under the influence
of the “nervine,” which temporarily makes its victim think he is rich.
How many important chances have been put off until to-morrow,
and then forever, because the wine cup has thrown the system
into a state of lassitude, neutralizing the energies so essential
to success in business. Verily, “wine is a mocker.” The use of
intoxicating drinks as a beverage, is as much an infatuation, as
is the smoking of opium by the Chinese, and the former is quite
as destructive to the success of the business man as the latter.
It is an unmitigated evil, utterly indefensible in the light of
philosophy; religion or good sense. It is the parent of nearly
every other evil in our country.
DON’T MISTAKE YOUR VOCATION
The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young
man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most
congenial to his tastes. Parents and guardians are often quite
too negligent in regard to this. It very common for a father to say,
for example: “I have five boys. I will make Billy a clergyman; John
a lawyer; Tom a doctor, and Dick a farmer.” He then goes into
town and looks about to see what he will do with Sammy. He
returns home and says “Sammy, I see watch-making is a nice
genteel business; I think I will make you a goldsmith.” He does this,
regardless of Sam’s natural inclinations, or genius.
We are all, no doubt, born for a wise purpose. There is as much
diversity in our brains as in our countenances. Some are born
natural mechanics, while some have great aversion to machinery.
Let a dozen boys of ten years get together, and you will soon
observe two or three are “whittling” out some ingenious device;
working with locks or complicated machinery. When they were
but five years old, their father could find no toy to please them like
a puzzle. They are natural mechanics; but the other eight or nine
boys have different aptitudes.
I belong to the latter class; I never had the slightest love for
mechanism; on the contrary, I have a sort of abhorrence for
complicated machinery. I never had ingenuity enough to whittle
a cider tap so it would not leak.
I never could make a pen that I could write with, or understand
the principle of a steam engine. If a man was to take such a boy
as I was, and attempt to make a watchmaker of him, the boy
might, after an apprenticeship of five or seven years, be able to
take apart and put together a watch; but all through life he would
be working up hill and seizing every excuse for leaving his work
and idling away his time. Watchmaking is repulsive to him.
Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature,
and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.
I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find their right
vocation. Yet we see many who have mistaken their calling, from
the blacksmith up (or down) to the clergyman. You will see, for
instance, that extraordinary linguist the “learned blacksmith,” who
ought to have been a teacher of languages; and you may have
seen lawyers, doctors and clergymen who were better fitted by
nature for the anvil or the lapstone.
SELECT THE RIGHT LOCATION.
After securing the right vocation, you must be careful to select the
proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper,
and they say it requires a genius to “know how to keep a hotel.”
You might conduct a hotel like clock-work, and provide satisfact-
orily for five hundred guests every day; Yet, if you should locate
your house in a small village where there is no railroad commun-
ication or public travel, the location would be your ruin.
It is equally important that you do not commence business where
there are already enough to meet all demands in the same
occupation. I remember a case which illustrates this subject.
When I was in London in 1858, I was passing down Holborn with
an English friend and came to the “penny shows.” They had
immense cartoons outside, portraying the wonderful curiosities
to be seen “all for a penny.”
Being a little in the “show line” myself, I said “let us go in here.”
We soon found ourselves in the presence of the illustrious
showman, and he proved to be the sharpest man in that line I
had ever met. He told us some extraordinary stories in reference
to his bearded ladies, his Albinos, and his Armadillos, which
we could hardly believe, but thought it “better to believe it than
look after the proof’.”
He finally begged to call our attention to some wax statuary, and
showed us a lot of the dirtiest and filthiest wax figures imaginable.
They looked as if they had not seen water since the Deluge.
“What is there so wonderful about your statuary?” I asked.
“I beg you not to speak so satirically,” he replied.
“Sir, these are not Madam Tussaud’s wax figures, all covered
with gilt and tinsel and imitation diamonds, and copied from
engravings and photographs. Mine, sir, were taken from life.
Whenever you look upon one of those figures, you may consider
that you are looking upon the living individual.”
Glancing casually at them, I saw one labeled “Henry VIII,” and
feeling a little curious upon seeing that it looked like Calvin Edson,
the living skeleton, I said: “Do you call that ‘Henry the Eighth?”
He replied, “Certainly; sir; it was taken from life at Hampton Court,
by special order of his majesty; on such a day.”
He would have given the hour of the day if I had asked.
I said, “Everybody knows that ‘Henry VIII.’ was a great stout old
king, and that figure is lean and lank; what do you say to that?”
“Why,” he replied, “you would be lean and lank yourself if you sat
there as long as he has.”
There was no resisting such arguments. I said to my English friend,
“Let us go out; do not tell him who I am; I show the white feather;
he beats me.”
He followed us to the door, and seeing the rabble in the street, he
called out, “ladies and gentlemen, I beg to draw your attention to
the respectable character of my visitors,” pointing to us as we
I called upon him a couple of days afterwards; told him who I was,
and said: “My friend, you are an excellent showman, but you have
selected a bad location.”
He replied, “This is true, sir; I feel that all my talents are thrown
away; but what can I do?”
“You can go to America,” I replied. “You can give full play to your
faculties over there; you will find plenty of elbowroom in America;
I will engage you for two years; after that you will be able to go on
your own account.”
He accepted my offer and remained two years in my New York
Museum. He then went to New Orleans and carried on a traveling
show business during the summer.
To-day he is worth sixty thousand dollars, simply because he
selected the right vocation and also secured the proper location.
The old proverb says, “Three removes are as bad as a fire,” but
when a man is in the fire, it matters but little how soon or how
often he removes.
Young men starting in life should avoid running into debt.
There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt.
It is a slavish position to get ill, yet we find many a young man,
hardly out of his “teens,” running in debt. He meets a chum and
says, “Look at this: I have got trusted for a new suit of clothes.”
He seems to look upon the clothes as so much given to him; well,
it frequently is so, but, if he succeeds in paying and then gets
trusted again, he is adopting a habit which will keep him in
poverty through life.
Debt robs a man of his self-respect, and makes him almost
despise himself. Grunting and groaning and working for what
he has eaten up or worn out, and now when he is called upon to
pay up, he has nothing to show for his money; this is properly
termed “working for a dead horse.”
I do not speak of merchants buying and selling on credit, or of
those who buy on credit in order to turn the purchase to a profit.
The old Quaker said to his farmer son, “John, never get trusted;
but if thee gets trusted for anything, let it be for ‘manure,’
because that will help thee pay it back again.”
Mr. Beecher advised young men to get in debt if they could to a
small amount in the purchase of land, in the country districts.
“If a young man,” he says, “will only get in debt for some land
and then get married, these two things will keep him straight,
or nothing will.” This may be safe to a limited extent, but getting
in debt for what you eat and drink and wear is to be avoided.
Some families have a foolish habit of getting credit at “the
stores,” and thus frequently purchase many things which might
have been dispensed with.
It is all very well to say; “I have got trusted for sixty days, and if I
don’t have the money the creditor will think nothing about it.”
There is no class of people in the world, who have such good
memories as creditors. When the sixty days run out, you will
'have' to pay. If you do not pay, you will break your promise,
and probably resort to a falsehood. You may make some
excuse or get in debt elsewhere to pay it, but that only involves
you the deeper.
A good-looking, lazy young fellow, was the apprentice boy,
Horatio. His employer said, “Horatio, did you ever see a snail?”
“I - think - I - have,” he drawled out. “You must have met him
then, for I am sure you never overtook one,” said the 'boss'.
”Your creditor will meet you or overtake you and say, “Now,
my young friend, you agreed to pay me; you have not done it,
you must give me your note.” You give the note on interest and
it commences working against you; “it is a dead horse.”
...The creditor goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning
better off than when he retired to bed, because his interest has
increased during the night, but you grow poorer while you are
sleeping, for the interest is accumulating against you........
Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant
but a terrible master. When you have it mastering you; when
interest is constantly piling up against you, it will keep you down
in the worst kind of slavery. But let money work for you, and you
have the most devoted servant in the world. It is no 'eye-servant.'
There is nothing animate or inanimate that will work so faithfully
as money when placed at interest, well secured. It works night
and day, and in wet or dry weather.
I was born in the blue-law State of Connecticut, where the old
Puritans had laws so rigid that it was said, “they fined a man for
kissing his wife on Sunday.” Yet these rich old Puritans would
have thousands of dollars at interest, and on Saturday night
would be worth a certain amount; on Sunday they would go to
church and perform all the duties of a Christian. On waking up
on Monday morning, they would find themselves considerably
richer than the Saturday night previous, simply because their
money placed at interest had worked faithfully for them all day
Sunday, according to law!
Do not let it work against you; if you do there is no chance for
success in life so far as money is concerned. John Randolph,
the eccentric Virginian, once exclaimed in Congress,
“Mr. Speaker, I have discovered the philosopher’s stone:
pay as you go.” This is, indeed, nearer to the philosopher’s
stone than any alchemist has ever yet arrived.
When a man is in the right path, he must persevere. I speak of
this because there are some persons who are “born tired;”
naturally lazy and possessing no self-reliance and no persever-
ance. But they can cultivate these qualities, as Davy Crockett
said: “This thing remember, when I am dead: Be sure you are
right, then go ahead.”
It is this go-aheaditiveness, this determination not to let the
“horrors” or the “blues” take possession of you, so as to make
you relax your energies in the struggle for independence, which
you must cultivate.
How many have almost reached the goal of their ambition, but,
losing faith in themselves, have relaxed their energies, and the
golden prize has been lost forever.
It is, no doubt, often true, as Shakespeare says:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood,
leads on to fortune.”
If you hesitate, some bolder hand will stretch out before you
and get the prize. Remember the proverb of Solomon:
“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the
hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
Perseverance is sometimes but another word for self-reliance.
Many persons naturally look on the dark side of life, and borrow
trouble. They are born so. Then they ask for advice, and they
will be governed by one wind and blown by another, and cannot
rely upon themselves. Until you can get so that you can rely upon
yourself, you need not expect to succeed.
I have known men, personally, who have met with pecuniary
reverses, and absolutely committed suicide, because they
thought they could never overcome their misfortune. But I have
known others who have met more serious financial difficulties,
and have bridged them over by simple perseverance, aided by
a firm belief that they were doing justly, and that Providence
would “overcome evil with good.” You will see this illustrated in
any sphere of life.
Take two generals; both understand military tactics, both
educated at West Point, if you please, both equally gifted; yet
one, having this principle of perseverance, and the other lacking
it, the former will succeed in his profession, while the latter will
fail. One may hear the cry, “the enemy are coming, and they
have got cannon.”
“Got cannon?” says the hesitating general.
“Then halt every man.”
He wants time to reflect; his hesitation is his ruin; the enemy
passes unmolested, or overwhelms him; while on the other hand,
the general of pluck, perseverance and self-reliance, goes into
battle with a will, and, amid the clash of arms, the booming of
cannon, the shrieks of the wounded, and the moans of the dying,
you will see this man persevering, going on, cutting and slashing
his way through with unwavering determination, inspiring his
soldiers to deeds of fortitude, valor, and triumph.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.
Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of
season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for
a single hour that which can be done just as well now.
The old proverb is full of truth and meaning, “Whatever is worth
doing at all, is worth doing well.” Many a man acquires a fortune
by doing his business thoroughly, while his neighbor remains
poor for life, because he only half does it. Ambition, energy,
industry, perseverance, are indispensable requisites for
success in business.
Fortune always favors the brave, and never helps a man who
does not help himself. It won’t do to spend your time like
Mr. Micawber, in waiting for something to “turn up.” To such men
one of two things usually “turns up:” the poorhouse or the jail;
For idleness breeds bad habits, and clothes a man in rags.
The poor spendthrift vagabond says to a rich man:
“I have discovered there is enough money in the world for all
of us, if it was equally divided; this must be done, and we shall
all be happy together.”
“But,” was the response, “if everybody was like you, it would be
spent in two months, and what would you do then?”
“Oh! divide again; keep dividing, of course!”
I was recently reading in a London paper an account of a like
philosophic pauper who was kicked out of a cheap boarding-
house because he could not pay his bill, but he had a roll of
papers sticking out of his coat pocket, which, upon examination,
proved to be his plan for paying off the national debt of England
without the aid of a penny.
People have got to do as Cromwell said: “not only trust in
Providence, but keep the powder dry.” Do your part of the work,
or you cannot succeed. Mahomet, one night, while encamping in
the desert, overheard one of his fatigued followers remark: “I will
loose my camel, and trust it to God!”
“No, no, not so,” said the prophet, “tie thy camel, and trust it to
Do all you can for yourselves, and then trust to Providence, or luck,
or whatever you please to call it, for the rest.
DEPEND UPON YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXERTIONS.
The eye of the employer is often worth more than the hands of a
dozen employees. In the nature of things, an agent cannot be so
faithful to his employer as to himself. Many who are employers will
call to mind instances where the best employees have overlooked
important points which could not have escaped their own
observation as a proprietor. No man has a right to expect to
succeed in life unless he understands his business, and nobody
can understand his business thoroughly unless he learns it by
personal application and experience.
A man may be a manufacturer: he has got to learn the many details
of his business personally; he will learn something every day, and
he will find he will make mistakes nearly every day. And these very
mistakes are helps to him in the way of experiences if he but heeds
them. He will be like the Yankee tin-peddler, who, having been
cheated as to quality in the purchase of his merchandise, said:
“All right, there’s a little information to be gained every day; I will
never be cheated in that way again.” Thus a man buys his
experience, and it is the best kind if not purchased at too dear a rate.
I hold that every man should, like Cuvier, the French naturalist,
thoroughly know his business. So proficient was he in the study of
natural history, that you might bring to him the bone, or even a
section of a bone of an animal which he had never seen described,
and, reasoning from analogy, he would be able to draw a picture
of the object from which the bone had been taken.
On one occasion his students attempted to deceive him.
They rolled one of their number in a cow skin and put him under
the professor’s table as a new specimen. When the philosopher
came into the room, some of the students asked him what animal
it was. Suddenly the animal said “I am the devil and I am going to
eat you.” It was but natural that Cuvier should desire to classify
this creature, and examining it intently, he said:
“Divided hoof; graminivorous! It cannot be done.”
He knew that an animal with a split hoof must live upon grass and
grain, or other kind of vegetation, and would not be inclined to eat
flesh, dead or alive, so he considered himself perfectly safe.
The possession of a perfect knowledge of your business is an
absolute necessity in order to insure success.
Among the maxims of the elder Rothschild was one, all apparent
“Be cautious and bold.” This seems to be a contradiction in terms,
but it is not, and there is great wisdom in the maxim. It is, in fact,
a condensed statement of what I have already said. It is to say;
“you must exercise your caution in laying your plans, but be bold
in carrying them out.” A man who is all caution, will never dare to
take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is
merely reckless, and must eventually fail.
A man may go on “’change” and make fifty, or one hundred
thousand dollars in speculating in stocks, at a single operation.
But if he has simple boldness without caution, it is mere chance,
and what he gains to-day he will lose to-morrow. You must have
both the caution and the boldness, to insure success.
The Rothschilds have another maxim: “Never have anything to
do with an unlucky man or place.” That is to say, never have
anything to do with a man or place which never succeeds,
because, although a man may appear to be honest and intelligent,
yet if he tries this or that thing and always fails, it is on account of
some fault or infirmity that you may not be able to discover but
nevertheless which must exist.
There is no such thing in the world as luck.
There never was a man who could go out in the morning and
find a purse full of gold in the street to-day, and another to-
morrow, and so on, day after day: He may do so once in his life;
but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as
to find it. “Like causes produce like effects.” If a man adopts the
proper methods to be successful, “luck” will not prevent him.
If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it, although, perhaps,
he may not be able to see them.
USE THE BEST TOOLS.
Men in engaging employees should be careful to get the best.
Understand, you cannot have too good tools to work with, and
there is no tool you should be so particular about as living tools.
If you get a good one, it is better to keep him, than keep changing.
He learns something every day; and you are benefited by the
experience he acquires. He is worth more to you this year than
last, and he is the last man to part with, provided his habits are
good, and he continues faithful. If, as he gets more valuable, he
demands an exorbitant increase of salary; on the supposition
that you can’t do without him, let him go.
Whenever I have such an employee, I always discharge him;
first, to convince him that his place may be supplied, and second,
because he is good for nothing if he thinks he is invaluable and
cannot be spared.
But I would keep him, if possible, in order to profit from the result
of his experience. An important element in an employee is the
brain. You can see bills up, “Hands Wanted,” but “hands” are not
worth a great deal without “heads.” Mr. Beecher illustrates this,
in this wise: An employee offers his services by saving, “I have
a pair of hands and one of my fingers thinks.”
“That is very good,” says the employer. Another man comes
along, and says “he has two fingers that think.”
“Ah! that is better.”
But a third calls in and says that “all his fingers and thumbs think.”
That is better still.
Finally another steps in and says, “I have a brain that thinks;
I think all over; I am a thinking as well as a working man!”
“You are the man I want,” says the delighted employer.
Those men who have brains and experience are therefore the
most valuable and not to be readily parted with; it is better for
them, as well as yourself, to keep them, at reasonable advances
in their salaries from time to time.
DON’T GET ABOVE YOUR BUSINESS.
Young men after they get through their business training, or
apprenticeship, instead of pursuing their avocation and rising in
their business, will often lie about doing nothing. They say; “I have
learned my business, but I am not going to be a hireling; what is
the object of learning my trade or profession, unless I establish
“Have you capital to start with?”
“No, but I am going to have it.”
“How are you going to get it?”
“I will tell you confidentially; I have a wealthy old aunt, and she will
die pretty soon; but if she does not, I expect to find some rich old
man who will lend me a few thousands to give me a start. If I only
get the money to start with I will do well.”
There is no greater mistake than when a young man believes he
will succeed with borrowed money. Why? Because every man’s
experience coincides with that of Mr. Astor, who said, “it was
more difficult for him to accumulate his first thousand dollars,
than all the succeeding millions that made up his colossal fortune.
” Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by
experience. Give a boy twenty thousand dollars and put him in
business, and the chances are that he will lose every dollar of it
before he is a year older. Like buying a ticket in the lottery; and
drawing a prize, it is “easy come, easy go.” He does not know the
value of it; nothing is worth anything, unless it costs effort.
Without self-denial and economy; patience and perseverance,
and commencing with capital which you have not earned, you are
not sure to succeed in accumulating. Young men, instead of
“waiting for dead men’s shoes,” should be up and doing, for there
is no class of persons who are so unaccommodating in regard to
dying as these rich old people, and it is fortunate for the expectant
heirs that it is so.
Nine out of ten of the rich men of our country to-day, started out in
life as poor boys, with determined wills, industry, perseverance,
economy and good habits. They went on gradually, made their
own money and saved it; and this is the best way to acquire a
fortune. Stephen Girard started life as a poor cabin boy, and
died worth nine million dollars.
A.T. Stewart was a poor Irish boy; and he paid taxes on a million
and a half dollars of income, per year. John Jacob Astor was a
poor farmer boy, and died worth twenty millions.
Cornelius Vanderbilt began life rowing a boat from Staten Island
to New York; he presented our government with a steamship
worth a million of dollars, and died worth fifty million. “There is no
royal road to learning,” says the proverb, and I may say it is equally
true, “there is no royal road to wealth.”
But I think there is a royal road to both.
The road to learning is a royal one; the road that enables the
student to expand his intellect and add every day to his stock of
knowledge, until, in the pleasant process of intellectual growth,
he is able to solve the most profound problems, to count the stars,
to analyze every atom of the globe, and to measure the firmament
this is a regal highway, and it is the only road worth traveling.
So in regard to wealth.
Go on in confidence, study the rules, and above all things, study
human nature; for “the proper study of mankind is man,” and you
will find that while expanding the intellect and the muscles, your
enlarged experience will enable you every day to accumulate
more and more principal, which will increase itself by interest and
otherwise, until you arrive at a state of independence.
You will find, as a general thing, that the poor boys get rich and
the rich boys get poor. For instance, a rich man at his decease,
leaves a large estate to his family. His eldest sons, who have
helped him earn his fortune, know by experience the value of
money; and they take their inheritance and add to it.
The separate portions of the young children are placed at interest,
and the little fellows are patted on the head, and told a dozen times
a day, “you are rich; you will never have to work, you can always
have whatever you wish, for you were born with a golden spoon
in your mouth.” The young heir soon finds out what that means; he
has the finest dresses and playthings; he is crammed with sugar
candies and almost “killed with kindness,” and he passes from
school to school, petted and flattered. He becomes arrogant and
self-conceited, abuses his teachers, and carries everything with
a high hand. He knows nothing of the real value of money, having
never earned any; but he knows all about the “golden spoon”
At college, he invites his poor fellow-students to his room, where
he “wines and dines” them. He is cajoled and caressed, and called
a glorious good follow, because he is so lavish of his money.
He gives his game suppers, drives his fast horses, invites his
chums to fetes and parties, determined to have lots of “good times.”
He spends the night in frolics and debauchery, and leads off his
companions with the familiar song, “we won’t go home till morning.”
He gets them to join him in pulling down signs, taking gates from
their hinges and throwing them into back yards and horse-ponds.
If the police arrest them, he knocks them down, is taken to the
lockup, and joyfully foots the bills.
“Ah! my boys,” he cries, “what is the use of being rich, if you can’t
He might more truly say, “if you can’t make a fool of yourself;” but he
is “fast,” hates slow things, and doesn’t “see it.” Young men loaded
down with other people’s money are almost sure to lose all they
inherit, and they acquire all sorts of bad habits which, in the majority
of cases, ruin them in health, purse and character. In this country,
one generation follows another, and the poor of to-day are rich in
the next generation, or the third. Their experience leads them on,
and they become rich, and they leave vast riches to their young
These children, having been reared in luxury, are inexperienced
and get poor; and after long experience another generation comes
on and gathers up riches again in turn. And thus “history repeats
itself,” and happy is he who by listening to the experience of others
avoids the rocks and shoals on which so many have been wrecked.
“In England, the business makes the man.” If a man in that country
is a mechanic or working-man, he is not recognized as a gentleman.
On the occasion of my first appearance before Queen Victoria, the
Duke of Wellington asked me what sphere in life General Tom
Thumb’s parents were in.
“His father is a carpenter,” I replied.
“Oh! I had heard he was a gentleman,” was the response of His Grace.
In this Republican country, the man makes the business. No matter
whether he is a blacksmith, a shoemaker, a farmer, banker or lawyer,
so long as his business is legitimate, he may be a gentleman.
So any “legitimate” business is a double blessing it helps the man
engaged in it, and also helps others. The Farmer supports his own
family, but he also benefits the merchant or mechanic who needs the
products of his farm. The tailor not only makes a living by his trade,
but he also benefits the farmer, the clergyman and others who cannot
make their own clothing.
But all these classes often may be gentlemen.
The great ambition should be to excel all others engaged in the
The college-student who was about graduating, said to an old lawyer:
“I have not yet decided which profession I will follow.
Is your profession full?”
“The basement is much crowded, but there is plenty of room up-
stairs,” was the witty and truthful reply.
No profession, trade, or calling, is overcrowded in the upper story.
Wherever you find the most honest and intelligent merchant or banker,
or the best lawyer, the best doctor, the best clergyman, the best
shoemaker, carpenter, or anything else, that man is most sought for,
and has always enough to do.
As a nation, Americans are too superficial— they are striving to get
rich quickly, and do not generally do their business as substantially
and thoroughly as they should, but whoever excels all others in his
own line, if his habits are good and his integrity undoubted, cannot
fail to secure abundant patronage, and the wealth that naturally follows.
Let your motto then always be “Excelsior,” for by living up to it there
is no such word as fail.
LEARN SOMETHING USEFUL.
Every man should make his son or daughter learn some useful trade
or profession, so that in these days of changing fortunes of being rich
to-day and poor tomorrow they may have something tangible to fall back
upon. This provision might save many persons from misery, who by
some unexpected turn of fortune have lost all their means.
LET HOPE PREDOMINATE, BUT BE NOT TOO VISIONARY
Many persons are always kept poor, because they are too visionary.
Every project looks to them like certain success, and therefore they keep
changing from one business to another, always in hot water, always
“under the harrow.”
The plan of “counting the chickens before they are hatched” is an error
of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.
DO NOT SCATTER YOUR POWERS
Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you
succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it.
A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so
that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered on
one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value,
which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different
subjects at once. Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers
because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.
There is good sense in the old caution against having too many irons in
the fire at once.
Men should be systematic in their business. A person who does business
by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work promptly,
will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it
carelessly and slipshod.
By introducing system into all your transactions, doing one thing at a time,
always meeting appointments with punctuality, you find leisure for pastime
and recreation; whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then
turns to something else, and half does that, will have his business at loose
ends, and will never know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be
Of course, there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the
happy medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are
men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can
never find them again. It is too much like the “red tape” formality at
Washington, and Mr. Dickens’ “Circumlocution Office,”—all theory and no
When the “Astor House” was first started in New York city, it was undoubtedly
the best hotel in the country. The proprietors had learned a good deal in
Europe regarding hotels, and the landlords were proud of the rigid system
which pervaded every department of their great establishment.
When twelve o’clock at night had arrived, and there were a number of guests
around, one of the proprietors would say, “Touch that bell, John;” and in two
minutes sixty servants, with a water-bucket in each hand, would present them-
selves in the hall.
“This,” said the landlord, addressing his guests, “is our fire-bell; It will show
you we are quite safe here; we do everything systematically".
This was before the Croton water was introduced into the city. But they
sometimes carried their system too far. On one occasion, when the hotel
was thronged with guests, one of the waiters was suddenly indisposed, and
although there were fifty waiters in the hotel, the landlord thought he must have
his full complement, or his “system” would be interfered with.
Just before dinner-time, he rushed down stairs and said, “There must be
another waiter, I am one waiter short, what can I do?” He happened to see
“Boots,” the Irishman. “Pat,” said he, “wash your hands and face; take that
white apron and come into the dining-room in five minutes.”
Presently Pat appeared as required, and the proprietor said: “Now Pat, you
must stand behind these two chairs, and wait on the gentlemen who will
occupy them; did you ever act as a waiter?”
“I know all about it, sure, but I never did it.”
Like the Irish pilot, on one occasion when the captain, thinking he was
considerably out of his course, asked, “Are you certain you understand what
you are doing?”
Pat replied, “Sure, and I knows every rock in the channel.”
That moment, “bang” thumped the vessel against a rock.
“Ah! be-jabers, and that is one of ‘em,” continued the pilot.
But to return to the dining-room. “Pat,” said the landlord, “here we do
everything systematically. You must first give the gentlemen each a plate of
soup, and when they finish that, ask them what they will have next.”
Pat replied, “Ah! an’ I understand parfectly the vartues of shystem.”
Very soon in came the guests. The plates of soup were placed before them.
One of Pat’s two gentlemen ate his soup; the other did not care for it.
He said: “Waiter, take this plate away and bring me some fish.”
Pat looked at the untasted plate of soup, and remembering the instructions
of the landlord in regard to “system,” replied: “Not till ye have ate yer supe!”
Of course that was carrying “system” entirely too far.
READ THE NEWSPAPERS.
Always take a trustworthy newspaper, and thus keep thoroughly posted in
regard to the transactions of the world. He who is without a newspaper is
cut off from his species. In these days of telegraphs and steam, many
important inventions and improvements in every branch of trade are being
made, and he who don’t consult the newspapers will soon find himself and
his business left out in the cold.
BEWARE OF “OUTSIDE OPERATIONS”.
We sometimes see men who have obtained fortunes, suddenly become
poor. In many cases, this arises from intemperance, and often from gaming,
and other bad habits. Frequently it occurs because a man has been
engaged in “outside operations,” of some sort. When he gets rich in his
legitimate business, he is told of a grand speculation where he can make a
score of thousands. He is constantly flattered by his friends, who tell him that
he is born lucky, that everything he touches turns into gold.
Now if he forgets that his economical habits, his rectitude of conduct and a
personal attention to a business which he understood, caused his success in
life, he will listen to the siren voices. He says: “I will put in twenty thousand
dollars. I have been lucky, and my good luck will soon bring me back sixty
A few days elapse and it is discovered he must put in ten thousand dollars
more: soon after he is told “it is all right,” but certain matters not foreseen,
require an advance of twenty thousand dollars more, which will bring him a
rich harvest; but before the time comes around to realize, the bubble bursts,
he loses all he is possessed of, and then he learns what he ought to have
known at the first. That however successful a man may be in his own business,
if he turns from that and engages ill in a business which he doesn’t understand,
he is like Samson when shorn of his locks his strength has departed, and he
becomes like other men.
If a man has plenty of money, he ought to invest something in everything that
appears to promise success, and that will probably benefit mankind; but let
the sums thus invested be moderate in amount, and never let a man foolishly
jeopardize a fortune that he has earned m a legitimate way, by investing it in
things of which he has had no experience.
DON’T ENDORSE WITHOUT SECURITY.
I hold that no man ought ever to indorse a note or become security, for any
man, be it his father or brother, to a greater extent than he can afford to lose
and care nothing about, without taking good security.
Here is a man that is worth twenty thousand dollars; he is doing a thriving
manufacturing or mercantile trade; you are retired and living on your money;
he comes to you and says:
“You are aware that I am worth twenty thousand dollars, and don’t owe a dollar;
if I had five thousand dollars in cash, I could purchase a particular lot of goods
and double my money in a couple of months; will you endorse my note for that
You reflect that he is worth twenty thousand dollars, and you incur no risk by
endorsing his note; you like to accommodate him, and you lend your name
without taking the precaution of getting security. Shortly after, he shows you
the note with your endorsement canceled, and tells you, probably truly, “that he
made the profit that he expected by the operation,” you reflect that you have
done a good action, and the thought makes you feel happy.
By and by, the same thing occurs again and you do it again; you have already
fixed the impression in your mind that it is perfectly safe to indorse his notes
without security. But the trouble is, this man is getting money too easily. He
has only to take your note to the bank, get it discounted and take the cash.
He gets money for the time being without effort; without inconvenience to
Now mark the result. He sees a chance for speculation outside of his business.
A temporary investment of only $10,000 is required. It is sure to come back
before a note at the bank would be due. He places a note for that amount before
you. You sign it almost mechanically. Being firmly convinced that your friend is
responsible and trustworthy; you endorse his notes as a “matter of course.”
Unfortunately the speculation does not come to a head quite so soon as was
expected, and another $10,000 note must be discounted to take up the last one
when due. Before this note matures the speculation has proved an utter failure
and all the money is lost.
Does the loser tell his friend, the endorser, that he has lost half of his fortune?
Not at all. He doesn’t even mention that he has speculated at all. But he has
got excited; the spirit of speculation has seized him; he sees others making
large sums in this way (we seldom hear of the losers), and, like other
speculators, he “looks for his money where he loses it.” He tries again.
Endorsing notes has become chronic with you, and at every loss he gets your
signature for whatever amount he wants. Finally you discover your friend has
lost all of his property and all of yours. You are overwhelmed with astonishment
and grief, and you say “it is a hard thing; my friend here has ruined me,” but,
you should add, “I have also ruined him.” If you had said in the first place,
“I will accommodate you, but I never endorse without taking ample security,”
he could not have gone beyond the length of his tether, and he would never
have been tempted away from his legitimate business. It is a very dangerous
thing, therefore, at any time, to let people get possession of money too easily;
it tempts them to hazardous speculations, if nothing more.
Solomon truly said “he that hateth suretiship is sure.”
So with the young man starting in business; let him understand the value of
money by earning it. When he does understand its value, then grease the
wheels a little in helping him to start business, but remember, men who get
money with too great facility cannot usually succeed. You must get the first
dollars by hard knocks, and at some sacrifice, in order to appreciate the
value of those dollars.
ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS.
We all depend, more or less, upon the public for our support.
We all trade with the public—lawyers, doctors, shoemakers, artists,
blacksmiths, showmen, opera stagers, railroad presidents, and college
professors. Those who deal with the public must be careful that their goods
are valuable; that they are genuine, and will give satisfaction.
When you get an article which you know is going to please your customers,
and that when they have tried it, they will feel they have got their money’s
worth, then let the fact be known that you have got it. Be careful to advertise
it in some shape or other because it is evident that if a man has ever so
good an article for sale, and nobody knows it, it will bring him no return.
In a country like this, where nearly everybody reads, and where newspapers
are issued and circulated in editions of five thousand to two hundred thousand,
it would be very unwise if this channel was not taken advantage of to reach the
public in advertising.
A newspaper goes into the family, and is read by wife and children, as well
as the head of the home; hence hundreds and thousands of people may read
your advertisement, while you are attending to your routine business. Many,
perhaps, read it while you are asleep.
The whole philosophy of life is, first “sow,” then “reap.” That is the way the
farmer does; he plants his potatoes and corn, and sows his grain, and then
goes about something else, and the time comes when he reaps. But he never
reaps first and sows afterwards.
This principle applies to all kinds of business, and to nothing more eminently
than to advertising. If a man has a genuine article, there is no way in which he
can reap more advantageously than by “sowing” to the public in this way.
He must, of course, have a really good article, and one which will please his
customers; anything spurious will not succeed permanently because the
public is wiser than many imagine. Men and women are selfish, and we all
prefer purchasing where we can get the most for our money and we try to find
out where we can most surely do so.
You may advertise a spurious article, and induce many people to call and buy
it once, but they will denounce you as an impostor and swindler, and your
business will gradually die out and leave you poor. This is right. Few people
can safely depend upon chance custom. You all need to have your customers
return and purchase again. A man said to me, “I have tried advertising and
did not succeed; yet I have a good article.”
I replied, “My friend, there may be exceptions to a general rule. But how do
“I put it in a weekly newspaper three times, and paid a dollar and a half for it.
” I replied: “ Sir, advertising is like learning—‘a little is a dangerous thing!’”
A French writer says that “The reader of a newspaper does not see the first
mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but
does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at
the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he
is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases.”
Your object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have
got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have
imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost. You are like
the fellow who told the gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save
him a dollar. “How can I help you so much with so small a sum?” asked the
gentleman in surprise. “I started out this morning (hiccuped the fellow) with
the full determination to get drunk, and I have spent my only dollar to
accomplish the object, and it has not quite done it. Ten cents worth more of
whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the dollar already
So a man who advertises at all must keep it up until the public know who
and what he is, and what his business is, or else the money invested in
advertising is lost.
Some men have a peculiar genius for writing a striking advertisement,
one that will arrest the attention of the reader at first sight. This fact, of
course, gives the advertiser a great advantage. Sometimes a man makes
himself popular by an unique sign or a curious display in his window, recently
I observed a swing sign extending over the sidewalk in front of a store, on
which was the inscription in plain letters, “DON’T READ THE OTHER SIDE”
Of course I did, and so did everybody else, and I learned that the man had
made all independence by first attracting the public to his business in that
way and then using his customers well afterwards.
Genin, the hatter, bought the first Jenny Lind ticket at auction for two hundred
and twenty-five dollars, because he knew it would be a good advertisement
for him. “Who is the bidder?” said the auctioneer, as he knocked down that
ticket at Castle Garden. “Genin, the hatter,” was the response. Here were
thousands of people from the Fifth avenue, and from distant cities in the
highest stations in life. “Who is ‘Genin,’ the hatter?” they exclaimed.
They had never heard of him before.
The next morning the newspapers and telegraph had circulated the facts from
Maine to Texas, and from five to ten millions off people had read that the
tickets sold at auction For Jenny Lind’s first concert amounted to about twenty
thousand dollars, and that a single ticket was sold at two hundred and twenty-
five dollars, to “Genin, the hatter.”
Men throughout the country involuntarily took off their hats to see if they had a
“Genin” hat on their heads.
At a town in Iowa it was found that in the crowd around the post office, there
was one man who had a “Genin” hat, and he showed it in triumph, although it
was worn out and not worth two cents. “Why,” one man exclaimed, “you have
a real ‘Genin’ hat; what a lucky fellow you are.”
Another man said, “Hang on to that hat, it will be a valuable heir-loom in your
family.” Still another man in the crowd who seemed to envy the possessor of
this good fortune, said, “Come, give us all a chance; put it up at auction!”
He did so, and it was sold as a keepsake for nine dollars and fifty cents!
What was the consequence to Mr. Genin? ........He sold ten thousand extra
hats per annum, the first six years. Nine-tenths of the purchasers bought of
him, probably, out of curiosity, and many of them, finding that he gave them
an equivalent for their money, became his regular customers.
This novel advertisement first struck their attention, and then, as he made a
good article, they came again.
Now I don’t say that everybody should advertise as Mr. Genin did. But I say
if a man has got goods for sale, and he don’t advertise their in some way,
the chances are that some day the sheriff will do it for him.
Nor do I say that everybody must advertise in a newspaper, or indeed use
“printers’ ink” at all. On the contrary, although that article is indispensable in
the majority of cases, yet doctors and clergymen, and sometimes lawyers
and some others, can more effectually reach the public in some other manner.
But it is obvious, they must be known in some way, else how could they be
BE POLITE AND KIND TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.
Large stores, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if
you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind
and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed
upon him. “Like begets like.” The man who gives the greatest amount of
goods of a corresponding quality for the least sum (still reserving for himself
a profit) will generally succeed best in the long run.
This brings us to the golden rule, “As ye would that men should do to you,
do ye also to them” and they will do better by you than if you always treated
them as if you wanted to get the most you could out of them for the least return.
Men who drive sharp bargains with their customers, acting as if they never
expected to see them again, will not be mistaken. They will never see them
again as customers. People don’t like to pay and get kicked also.
One of the ushers in my Museum once told me he intended to whip a man
who was in the lecture-room as soon as he came out.
“What for?” I inquired.
“Because he said I was no gentleman,” replied the usher.
“Never mind,” I replied, “he pays for that, and you will not convince him you
are a gentleman by whipping him. I cannot afford to lose a customer. If you
whip him, he will never visit the Museum again, and he will induce friends to
go with him to other places of amusement instead of this, and thus you see,
I should be a serious loser.”
“But he insulted me,” muttered the usher.
“Exactly,” I replied, “and if he owned the Museum, and you had paid him for
the privilege of visiting it, and he had then insulted you, there might be some
reason in your resenting it, but in this instance he is the man who pays, while
we receive, and you must, therefore, put up with his bad manners.”
My usher laughingly remarked, that this was undoubtedly the true policy; but
he added that he should not object to an increase of salary if he was
expected to be abused in order to promote my interest.
Of course men should be charitable, because it is a duty and a pleasure.
But even as a matter of policy, if you possess no higher incentive, you will find
that the liberal man will command patronage, while the sordid, uncharitable
miser will be avoided.
Solomon says: “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that
withholdeth more than meet, but it tendeth to poverty.”
Of course the only true charity is that which is from the heart.
The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves.
Promiscuous almsgiving, without inquiring into the worthiness of the applicant,
is bad in every sense. But to search out and quietly assist those who are
struggling for themselves, is the kind that “scattereth and yet increaseth.”
But don’t fall into the idea that some persons practice, of giving a prayer
instead of a potato, and a benediction instead of bread, to the hungry.
It is easier to make Christians with full stomachs than empty.
Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business secrets.
If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done.
Nothing is gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your
profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions. And this should apply
to letters as well as to conversation. Goethe makes Mephistophilles say:
“Never write a letter nor destroy one.” Business men must write letters, but
they should be careful what they put in them.
If you are losing money, be specially cautious and not tell of it, or you will
lose your reputation.
PRESERVE YOUR INTEGRITY.
It is more precious than diamonds or rubies.
The old miser said to his sons: “Get money; get it honestly if you can, but get
This advice was not only atrociously wicked, but it was the very essence of
stupidity: It was as much as to say, “if you find it difficult to obtain money
honestly, you can easily get it dishonestly........So get it in that way.”
Poor fool! Not to know that the most difficult thing in life is to make money
dishonestly! Not to know that our prisons are full of men who attempted to
follow this advice; not to understand that no man can be dishonest, without
soon being found out, and that when his lack of principle is discovered, nearly
every avenue to success is closed against him forever.
The public very properly shun all whose integrity is doubted. No matter how
polite and pleasant and accommodating a man may be, none of us dare to
deal with him if we suspect “false weights and measures.” Strict honesty, not
only lies at the foundation of all success in life (financially), but in every other
Uncompromising integrity of character is invaluable. It secures to its possessor
a peace and joy which cannot be attained without it—which no amount of money,
or houses and lands can purchase. A man who is known to be strictly honest,
may be ever so poor, but he has the purses of all the community at his disposal—
for all know that if he promises to return what he borrows, he will never
As a mere matter of selfishness, therefore, if a man had no higher motive for
being honest, all will find that the maxim of Dr. Franklin can never fail to be true,
that “honesty is the best policy.”
To get rich, is not always equivalent to being successful. “There are many rich
poor men,” while there are many others, honest and devout men and women,
who have never possessed so much money as some rich persons squander
in a week, but who are nevertheless really richer and happier than any man can
ever be while he is a transgressor of the higher laws of his being.
The inordinate love of money, no doubt, may be and is “the root of all evil,” but
money itself, when properly used, is not only a “handy thing to have in the house,”
but affords the gratification of blessing our race by enabling its possessor to
enlarge the scope of human happiness and human influence. The desire for
wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the
possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to humanity.
The history of money-getting, which is commerce, is a history of civilization, and
wherever trade has flourished most, there, too, have art and science produced
the noblest fruits. In fact, as a general thing, money-getters are the benefactors
of our race. To them, in a great measure, are we indebted for our institutions of
learning and of art, our academies, colleges and churches.
It is no argument against the desire for, or the possession of wealth, to say that
there are sometimes misers who hoard money only for the sake of hoarding
and who have no higher aspiration than to grasp everything which comes within
their reach. As we have sometimes hypocrites in religion, and demagogues in
politics, so there are occasionally misers among, money-getters.
These, however, are only exceptions to the general rule.
But when, in this country, we find such a nuisance and stumbling block as a
miser, we remember with gratitude that in America we have no laws of
primogeniture, and that in the due course of nature the time will come when
the hoarded dust will be scattered for the benefit of mankind. To all men and
women, therefore, do I conscientiously say, make money honestly, and not
otherwise, for Shakespeare has truly said;-
“He that 'wants' money, means, and content, is 'without' three good friends.”
This site is published by 'Future Past Publishing' (UK). Reading, Berks. RG1 7UG.
All work is World copyright protected. (P. Moring © 2006)
PT Barnum 'Showman' and 'Money-Getter' - (1810-1891)
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