Sawdust and Spangles/Chapter 8
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Anecdotes of Men and Animals
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ANECDOTES OF MEN AND ANIMALS
ORIGIN OF THE AMERICAN CIRCUS
The first circus in America was started by Nathan A. Howes and Aaron Turner under a top canvas in 1826. Previous to that time others had shows in frame buildings and some simply with side canvas in hotel yards, and in theaters in New York City. The full tent circus originated in the towns of Somers and North Salem, Westchester County, New York, and Southeast and Carmel, Putnam County, New York. The original showmen were Raymond, Titus, June, Quick, Angevine Crane, Smith and Nathans, and so far as I have been able to ascertain, June, Titus and Angevine were the first to import wild animals on their own account.
Previous to this the Raymond and Titus companies were in the habit of purchasing wild animals from sea captains who, in a spirit of speculation, would bring them to our shores. There existed a great rivalry between these companies and they soon became possessed of more animals than they needed. They toured the East during the period from about 1826 to 1834, with but indifferent success, and then Titus & Company took their show to England, where John June had preceded them.
The circus and menagerie in those days were separate and distinct attractions and, while the menagerie had the greater drawing power, it was only exhibited in the daytime. In the case of an opposition circus the attendance would generally split up, but would result in a benefit to each attraction, for the same crowd which gazed at the menagerie during the day would also be able to enjoy the circus which exhibited at night. It was not until 1851 that a circus and a menagerie were exhibited together, at one price of admission and owned by the same proprietors.
At that time George F. Bailey induced Turner, who was his father-in-law, to purchase an elephant and some other animals from Titus & Company, and others from incoming vessels at New York, Boston and Charleston. Mr. Bailey had six cages built, and these, together with the elephants, he added to the circus in order to reach the church-going invariably remained, when the band commenced to play, "because the children wanted to see the circus."which would go to see the "menagerie only," but
To Mr. George F. Bailey must also be given the credit of devising a tank on wheels in which could be exhibited the hippopotamus. This animal proved a wonderful drawing card, and was then advertised as it sometimes is today as "the blood-sweating Behemoth of Holy Writ." This animal made several men wealthy. L. B. Lent, the well-known circus man, afterwards hired it and paid for its use no less than twenty-five per cent of the gross receipts of his show. From the death of this hippopotamus until 1873 there was none in the country; but in that year Mr. Barnum and I secured one from Reiche Brothers, whose men had captured it from a school on the river Nile. It cost us $10,000, and we had previously spent several thousand dollars in sending our own men to Egypt on a similar errand that proved fruitless.
THE FIRST ELEPHANT BROUGHT TO AMERICA
I am informed by the best living authority that the first elephant brought to this country was imported by Hackaliah Bailey, an uncle of George F. Bailey, the retired circus manager. It was exhibited in barns in the eastern country and was considered a great curiosity and sufficient in itself to constitute a whole show and satisfy the people. It traveled altogether at night—principally that the country people should not get a free glimpse of the wonderful animal, and also because, in Connecticut, there was a law prohibiting the driving of elephants through that State during the daytime without a license, the neglect to obtain which entailed a fine of $100, half of that going to the informer and half to the State. The law was passed in 1828, and, so far as I know, has never been repealed. This piece of information will doubtless astonish a good many showmen.
At some place in Rhode Island this elephant was fatally shot by some malicious person, and no one at the present day seems able to explain the wanton outrage. It may be that it was done out of curiosity, to see whether a bullet would penetrate the skin, but I think it is more likely to have been the spite of some countryman who was disappointed at not being able to obtain a free glimpse of the animal. I am encouraged in this opinion because it is a matter of record that the farmers would gather on the road over which the elephant was to pass at night and build huge stacks of faggots, straw and brushwood which they would ignite on the approach of the beast in order to secure a distinct view of the wonder; but the showmen would blanket a horse and send him ahead, shouting "Mile up! Mile up!" when approaching a party of nocturnal spectators. This command has been used in handling elephants as long as these creatures have served the white race. On hearing this call the farmers would light their bonfires only to discover, on the approach of the draped horse, that they had been fooled. And bitter would be their disappointment when, after the last flickering ember of their fire had died out, the huge object of their curiosity would pass unseen in the darkness. At the death of this elephant Hackaliah Bailey went into the hotel business at Somers, N. Y., and erected, outside of his tavern, the cast of an elephant in bronze, mounted on a stone pedestal more than twelve feet in height. The elephant monument may to this day be seen in perfect condition, although placed there nearly seventy years ago. The first drove of elephants seen in this country were brought from Ceylon to America by Mr. S. B. Howes and P. T. Barnum in 1850. The exhibition was in charge of George Nutter, and the expedition was about six months en voyage. After losing one or two on the way they finally landed in New York, about 1850, with ten elephants, and they proved a very great attraction.
THE FIRST DROVE OF CAMELS
The first drove of camels was, likewise, brought into this country by S. B. Howes, and, being broken to drive in harness, they also proved a powerful drawing card. This first drove he imported in 1847 from Cairo, Egypt. Mr. Howes then sent Augustus Crane to the Canary Islands, in 1848, in search of camels, and in 1849 he landed in Baltimore with a drove of eleven. No more camels were brought in after this for several years, until a lady in Texas, the owner of a "slaver" or slave ship, brought some over as a subterfuge. Her excuse was that she wanted them to use as beasts of burden on her plantation; but, although the camels were on deck, she had a lower deck on which were huddled together, after the inhuman fashion of the time, many poor blacks, who were really the "beasts of burden" of greatest value to this feminine slave trader.
The government also imported a lot of camels and made the experiment of carrying the mails from Texas to California by "Camel Post"; but, this proving unsuccessful, the animals were turned loose to shift for themselves until showmen created a demand for them and bought most of them for very little money, in some cases paying only $80 apiece for them. It is said that even now there are a few camels running wild in Western Texas and Mexico.
THE FIGHT OF THE OSTRICHES
For the opening of the Hippodrome we had imported a drove of nearly forty ostriches and had quartered them at the American Institute. The birds attracted a great deal of attention, not only on account of their rarity, but also on account of their magnificent plumage, some of them being marvels of natural splendor. They would walk around their enclosure with the most majestic gait imaginable. Among the professional spectators one morning was Mr. J. J. Nathans, a retired circus proprietor. Mr. Nathans wore in his scarf a very valuable diamond stud, and the stone evidently attracted a great deal of the attention of the birds. They would turn their heads around and the gleam in their small eyes would rival that of the stone. Suddenly one of the ostriches made a vicious peck at Mr. Nathans. That gentleman immediately drew back, but too late to save the precious stone. The bird had swallowed a $400 solitaire! Mr. Nathans ever afterwards admired ostriches from a distance.
At the American Institute we had placed the ostriches in charge of an old employé named Delaney. This man had noticed that for some time two of the male birds had been pecking at each other and, to use his own expression, were "spoiling for a fight." This increasing viciousness one day culminated in a battle royal.
The morning of that day both seemed to be in a particularly ugly mood, and the rest of the drove gave them a wide berth. Every now and then one of them would stretch out his long neck and, with head uplifted, give vent to a sharp hissing sound. This was evidently a challenge, for it would be immediately taken up and answered by the other. They would follow each other around the wooden enclosure, striking viciously at each other. As by concerted action all the female birds huddled themselves together at one end of the enclosure and eight or ten males took up positions just in front as if to protect them. This left the enclosure almost clear for the two belligerents, and they went at it in fearful earnest.
Word was immediately sent me, but neither I nor any of my employés were on terms of sufficient intimacy with them to justify a personal attempt at arbitration. Delaney, however, armed himself with a stout club, deliberately threw himself into the breech and attempted to separate them. In doing so he only exposed himself to the risk of sustaining severe bodily injuries. The birds took no notice of him whatever, but continued to fight, uttering at times a series of piercing screams and hisses. They would swing around each other and land fearful blows.
Their mouths were wide open, their eyes red and hideous, and their magnificent plumage ruffled, until the spectators, while deploring the fight, could not help admiring the splendid appearance of the birds in their rage. The smaller of the two was the more cautious. After a severe blow he would with some difficulty recover his equilibrium and, running off a little distance would suddenly wheel about and deal the big fellow two or three blows in rapid succession.
Delaney jumped between them and used his club on their long necks, but without any effect, for the birds seemed tireless. Their cries grew harsher and louder and the resounding blows fell like the beats of an automatic sledgehammer. Suddenly a most peculiar cry was heard. The others of the herd seemed to manifest more attention; and the two principals spread their wings, like the dragons of old, and made the final onslaught. Screaming with frightful shrillness and with their little bloodshot eyes gleaming hideously they made the crucial rush. Just as they were within a few feet of each other, Delaney managed to strike the larger bird a severe blow on the neck. The creature wavered for a moment and then fell prostrate. Another peculiar cry came from the smaller bird and both principals receded from each other. They were about to resume hostilities when a second blow brought the larger bird to the floor and the other one seeing this, evidently adjudged himself the victor, for he walked proudly away, followed by many of the admiring female birds. We immediately took steps to prevent a repetition of this remarkable fight by keeping the combatants in separate pens.
The fight, however, was most stirring and splendid, and the birds themselves seemed to be the very embodiment of knightly pride, so manifestly aggressive did they look in their ruffled plumage. Alas for vanity! Scarcely twelve hours had passed when a message was brought me from Delaney to come at once to the ostrich pen. I did so, expecting to hear of another combat of feathered gladiators. Instead a sorry sight met my eyes. During the night some vandal had plucked the brilliant plumage from the birds and left them miserable and dejected specimens of despoiled pride. I would cheerfully have given $1,000 to have discovered the miscreant. As for the birds, the life seemed to have left them. They would gaze sadly at each other, peer at their own denuded bodies, and with an indescribably piteous expression, slink away into corners as if inexpressibly ashamed of their appearance.
Every possible inquiry was made in the hope of finding out the vandals who had plucked their feathers, but in vain. I dare say, if the truth were known, some of our own men secured the plumes. The birds did not regain their beauty for many moons, and all we got that season for our big outlay was the thrilling spectacle of the ostrich fight.
THE BELLIGERENT ALLIGATORS
During the whale season we utilized the whale tank, which was empty owing to the death of the whale, by placing in it a number of alligators from Florida. Our agent had just returned from an expedition, with forty of these creatures ranging in length from one to twelve feet. Although the tank was an immense one, these forty saurians did not have as much room as they would have liked. This overcrowding was doubtless the cause of a most terrible fight between them, which occurred very soon after they were installed in their new quarters. It is impossible for me to describe this conflict. Nearly all the larger "gators" took part in it, springing at each other and locking their jaws with a resounding, crashing noise that could be heard all over the building.
While thus locked together they would toss each other about and swish their tails with such vigor as to completely destroy the tank, breaking the thick glass. Our attendants were almost paralyzed with fear and confusion at the strange battle, and vainly endeavored to separate the combatants. There seemed, however, to be no way of doing this, as they would snap at each other so violently as to break each other's jaws, and this horrible snap really sounded like the report of a gun. To prevent their escape into the exhibition room a temporary barrier was soon erected and, when they became exhausted in attempting to kill each other, we determined, for fear that returning strength would bring about a repetition of the horrible scene, to dispatch all save the smaller ones. This was done by sending bullets into their eyes. We buried the carcasses on Long Island, much to the regret of an eminent taxidermist, who would have been glad to have secured them; but we were eager to be rid of the monsters. The fight was not down on the bills and was one we were entirely unprepared for; but it was the most exciting and at the same time most terrifying combat I ever saw. Had it not been so horrible and could it have been advertised, I am sure it would have drawn together more people than a Spanish bull fight. The tank, which was totally destroyed, was made of glass one and one-fourth inches thick, embedded in cement and bound with solid iron columns. It was erected at a cost of $4,500, and yet was destroyed in ten minutes by these vicious alligators from the slimy depths of southern swamps.
I remember vividly the time when (in Winchester, Va.) Charles Dayton, the Herculean cannon ball performer and general gymnast, was attacked by hyenas just after entering the den for the street parade. Only such a man of strength, undeniable courage and great presence of mind would ever have escaped from the cage alive. Apparently for no reason whatever and without the slightest warning these hideous creatures sprang upon Dayton on this particular occasion, though he had been in the cage many times. The expression of mingled hope, fear and determination depicted on Dayton's countenance as he nobly fought his way to the rear of the cage can never be forgotten by any witness of the thrilling scene. Death stared him in the face and blood flowed in streams from his frightful wounds. Seemingly every portion of his body was lacerated. At last after a fearful battle he reached the rear of the cage and the door. The latter was quickly opened, and the brave fellow fell bleeding and exhausted into the arms of his attendants, narrowly escaping a death too horrible to contemplate. We succeeded in getting him to his hotel, where physicians were called, but they gave no hope of poor Charlie's recovery. They said the hyenas had done their awful work too thoroughly. The citizens, especially the noble women of Winchester, volunteered their aid and did everything in their power for him. We left him with our own doctor and in the hands of these good people, as we thought, to die. Notwithstanding the fact that his body was so terribly lacerated, however, in a few days Dayton gave signs of improvement and he eventually recovered. Ultimately he returned to the show.
PARROTS AND COCKATOOS
I have always watched animals with a great deal of interest, from the bulky but docile elephant to the smallest bird that flies; indeed, I believe my love for animals, especially the horse, was the incentive that led me to continue so many years in the circus business. Although I never had a natural taste for the circus, and for the details connected therewith, still I always enjoyed organizing and putting together different drawing attractions. All my other work was given to the care of assistants.
During our exhibitions in Fourteenth Street, New York, I became very much attached to many of the birds and animals, and would spend my leisure time in playing with and feeding them, besides studying their characters and dispositions, for even among the lower animals there is character just as there is in mortals.
Among my collection of parrots, there was a white cockatoo. When I entered the building in the morning he would set up such a noise and racket, unless I came immediately to speak to him for a few minutes, that he would soon have the entire menagerie in an uproar—the monkeys chattering, the lions roaring, and, in fact, a regular pandemonium. But as soon as I had complied with the wishes of the cockatoo, quiet would be restored. Some time later when I was in New Orleans, I received a telegram announcing the Fourteenth Street fire and the complete destruction of the menagerie.
These beautiful birds are very easily taught. I once knew a man named Prescott who had trained one of these white beauties to sing the Star Spangled Banner, to crow like a rooster, bark like a dog, cry like a child, and so on; and in this way he could entertain a crowd of people for hours together. Unlike most of its feathered brothers, this bird enjoyed pleasing its master, and would repeat his performance whenever called upon to do so, and he seemed to take a pride in his wonderful acts.
At one time in Fourteenth Street, I had a troop of educated dogs; one of their acts was in the nature of a mock trial. One dog, a very little fellow, steals a collar of another. A trial takes place, in which there are judge, and jury advocates. The little culprit is convicted and condemned to be hung—which the dogs proceed to do. The little fellow is hung and drops apparently dead, is placed in a hearse and rolled away to the music of the "Dead March." Several complaints were made against this by citizens and kind-hearted women; and Professor Bergh, president of the Humane Society, came to me about it. I had the performance repeated for his benefit, and further said that it had been repeated twice a day for several months. After the professor saw that the dogs enjoyed it, he laughed and said no more about it, and nothing more was heard from the Humane Society.
I have seen many acts done by dogs; and, as a rule, there is nothing to appeal to their intelligence; but in this case they certainly showed reasoning powers. I wish space would permit me to give my experience with the canine family. A short time before I left the show business I heard of a dog in California that could talk. I sent for the owner, Professor Madden, and bargained for this dog. When he reached Chicago I found he could actually say, "Oh, no." Sometimes it was easier for him to speak than at others, and invariably he would have some trouble in talking the first time.
Of all the dumb creatures the dog is by far the most faithful to his master, and it is said to be the only animal that has ever died of grief on his master's grave.
A WOUNDED HORSE IN THE GRAND MARCH
In 1880 I met with a very severe railroad accident, in which many of my valuable horses were injured; and among them an "entry" horse which, being of considerable value, I ordered to be taken on the train again, after the wreck was cleared away; but we could not use him for several days as he was so bruised that he presented a horrible appearance. One day, however, just as the "grand entry" was going into the ring, our head groom was surprised at the entrance of this horse. The creature had dashed into the ring with the others of his companions, and without bridle, saddle or halter, he went through the figures as he had been in the habit of doing before he was injured. The music was stopped, and our groom wanted to have the horse taken out, but I refused. Hearing the familiar music by which he had always entered the ring and performed his acts, habit was stronger than bodily pain, and, unfastening his rope in some unaccountable way, he had burst upon us. There is no doubt that a horse does know when his particular music strikes up, for I have often watched them at that time. They will rear and prance and if secured will make every endeavor to get loose. I lost this horse later in a wreck and few similar losses have grieved me more.
Hearing once that Professor Bartholomew had some wonderful horses I determined to purchase them, although I had really retired from the circus business. I saw the owner and paid him $10,000 for the horses and exhibited them in the New York Aquarium, where they drew great crowds. Among this troupe was the well-known Nettle, the most beautiful animal I ever saw, being of a cream color and about fourteen hands high. He was remarkable more particularly for his jumping feats, being able to jump over an eight-foot gate and six horses, doing this act twice a day for four years. Finally he was able to jump over a gate and eight horses: but this feat was too great a strain and I would not allow it to be repeated. Like a human being he would never undertake this jump until he had first examined the horses carefully to see that all was as it should be, and then, with apparent pride and confidence, he would make his leap. The act performed, he would trot to his trainer with all the pride of one who had accomplished what had been expected of him.
I once concluded that it would be good policy to buy a herd of untamed bronchos and educate them for the circus business. Thereupon I hired a young fellow named George Costello and sent him to Colorado, Texas and New Mexico in search of handsome bronchos and Pintos, as this was the same breed of horses that I first owned. They are certainly the wildest and hardest to break, but with these untamed animals I concluded to make a start. It was more difficult work to find exactly what I wanted than we had hoped. Finally, at Pendleton, Oregon, we found a herd of about 3,000 head that were white and spotted and belonged to a tribe of Indians. We bought about forty of them and then shipped them to Chicago, where we sold all but sixteen. We engaged a celebrated trainer and built a training stable, where we watched them work.
The bronchos at first refused to take the food which we gave them, and would blow the oats out of the trough; but hunger finally subdued them. They were very curious, investigating everything around them, and it did not take long to learn the customs of civilization. They not only learned to eat tame hay, and whinny for their food, but each horse also learned to know his own name and those of his companions. We would place these horses in a row and call out the name of one of them. If he did not immediately respond the other bronchos would bite him to remind him that he should obey orders.
As is usual to a herd, this band of ponies looked to one of their number as the leader. The leader's name was Duke, and when the herd was turned loose in the yard for exercise Duke was evidently commander. In my experience with these wild animals I became convinced that they had different intonations to express different feelings—that they have a language of their own. Their whinnys when happy, when frightened, when angry and as a warning differed greatly, and by careful study could be easily distinguished.
THE KING OF THE HERD
Mr. Cross, a celebrated animal painter, who owns a ranch in Montana, told me that his horses had, at one time, disappeared in great numbers, much to his astonishment and wonder. He finally discovered that whenever a herd of wild horses, headed by a certain spirited stallion, came near the ranch, some of his own horses were sure to be missed. Setting a watch over them he found that the big handsome stallion was the thief. This magnificent animal would approach the tame horses and by some mute eloquence would induce them to follow him. Mr. Cross determined to capture this noble beast and thief, and procured the best lasso throwers. After following the stallion for many days they were compelled to give up the chase. Finally they decided to shoot the animal if he again interfered with the tame animals. Some weeks passed, but no more horses were lost. Suddenly, however, a number were again gone. With great compunctions of conscience, Mr. Cross at length decided that the leader must be shot. His death struggles were noble—he died as befitted a great chief whose power, strength and beauty had made him the leader of his kind. Next to the dog I believe the horse to be the most intelligent of creatures.
AN ELEPHANT'S HUMOR
The humor of elephants is sometimes almost as remarkable as their intelligence. In 1887 I purchased an elephant in New York to send to Australia, and as we were in a great hurry to catch the steamer from San Francisco, I arranged to have the animal brought as far west as Chicago by passenger train instead of freight. He was loaded in a special car which was placed just behind the baggage car, and in due time started from the depot in New York. Shortly after leaving Albany the conductor was surprised to have the bell rope pulled violently. The train, of course, stopped, but the conductor could not find that anything was wrong or discover the man who had pulled the rope. Another start was made, and when nearing Syracuse a second violent tugging brought the train to a stop. The conductor instructed the brakeman to keep strict watch on the passengers, thinking all the time that some one had been playing a joke on him. Nearing Rochester, however, the same thing occurred again, to the great fright of some of the passengers, notably one old lady, who declared the train to be haunted, and averred that spirit forms were tugging at the rope. As the rope continued to be pulled thorough investigations were now made and the train crew experienced little difficulty in tracing the cause of the trouble to the elephant. On opening the door of the last car that animal was discovered sitting on his haunches and deliberately pulling the cord, and the elephant seemed to derive as much pleasure from it as a child would from a new toy. The passengers were reassured and the old lady was convinced of her error when she learned that the spirit form that pulled the cord weighed about three tons.
In India where elephants are kept at all military barracks for transportation purposes, it is no uncommon thing for the officers to leave their children in the elephants' charge for hours together, the huge animals taking the most tender care of their little friends. Elephants have a great dread of rodents and even insects. The presence of a rat or mouse will greatly excite them, and even the gnats or fleas annoy them exceedingly.
One of our largest elephants took quite a fancy to the son of a rider, and the boy used to spend every afternoon in the menagerie lying on the hay close to the animal. The lad never displayed the slightest fear, and the elephant invariably showed its pleasure when its pet came inside the inclosure. It would entwine its trunk around him and gently draw him close, then settle back in a recumbent position, allowing the child to take whatever liberty he liked. The pair attracted great attention and were called "Beauty and the Beast."
ZULUS IN LONDON
But it is not always animals that make the success of a circus. An unfamiliar type of the human species will occasionally make the fortune of a showman. Mr. N. Berhens, one of my ablest agents and a great traveler, at the time of the breaking out of the Zulu war was connected with the Royal Westminster Aquarium in London, an institution at that time celebrated. These Zulus had made such a bold resistance to the British government that the excitement ran high and the press of the world contained daily reports of England's conflict with this now subdued people. Their bravery in battle and gallant defense of their homes attracted widespread attention and made them objects of deep interest and curiosity. Being satisfied that their exhibition would be everywhere heralded with approval, he determined to visit Africa, although at the risk of his life, and secure a band of these sable sons of the tropics, that the world might know more of their laws, customs and characteristics. He reached Africa after a very perilous voyage early in the spring of 1878, first visiting Durban, the headquarters of the English army and the coast outlet to Zululand. Letters of introduction to the British officers and the experience of three previous trips to that country soon placed him in the way of attaining his object. First securing the services of an interpreter and buying his horses and supplies he followed in the rear of the columns of the British army en route for "Ulundi," the royal Kraal of King Cetewayo of Zululand.
When the Tugela river was reached he was surprised by the sudden appearance of what proved to be a band of about four hundred Zulu men, women and children, under the leadership of Oham, brother of King Cetewayo and lieutenant-general of the Zulu army. They had come to surrender to the British authorities, having rebelled against the rule of King Cetewayo, who was then in the British prison at Cape Town, Africa. This surrender was instigated for revenge growing out of the subjugation of Oham, by the Zulu king in a strife for the rulership of the Zulu people.
This band of natives contained three genuine Zulu princesses and the daring chief Incomo. Negotiations were at once begun, and through the influence of the British officers were finally concluded. Being at the mercy of their captors a reasonable consideration was agreed upon. The following day the Prince Imperial of France was slain by the formidable assigais only a few miles from where he was stationed. On hearing of his death the Zulus exhibited signs of sincere sorrow, as he was regarded with great admiration on account of his valor. It is characteristic of this tribe to admire and applaud courage in their opponents, so much so, indeed, that they seem to take pleasure in acknowledging their masters after defeat.
Arrangements were at once made for their voyage. At first the Zulus were frightened at the idea of going on board a ship and refused to go to the "white man's country" unless they could walk. Further persuasion, however, induced them to yield, and they agreed to undertake the voyage. They embarked at Durban in May, 1878, on board the royal mail steamer "Balmoral Castle," en route for London. The length of the voyage and the absence of land filled them with superstition and fear, and they insisted that the captain had lost his way; that their food would soon be gone and themselves thrown into the sea. Indeed, so excited did they become that they visited the ship officers in a body and insisted on knowing their whereabouts. It was with great difficulty that they were pacified; they were all violently seasick and believed they were under the influence of the "evil one."
This embassy consisted of three Zulu princesses, a Zulu baby, the celebrated chief Incomo and twenty-three swarthy warriors. Their arrival in London was greeted by over one hundred thousand people on the docks and as far up the street as the eye could reach. Deafening cheers ascended as they passed through the crowd, many going so far as to pat them on the back in recognition of their bravery. Anonymous letters were received threatening death if they were exhibited.
Mr. Cross, Home Secretary of England, issued an order prohibiting their exhibition, but public opinion was so much in favor of their being shown that the authorities were defied, and they were placed on exhibition at the Royal Westminster Aquarium, London, three times a day for two years and four months. All London came to see them. Their performance consisted of songs and dances commemorative of marriage, death, hunting, joy and sorrow, changes of the moon, rain, sunshine and war. They gave exhibitions of the throwing of the assagais, that formidable weapon which is thrown with unerring precision and with a force capable of penetrating a horse at a distance of four hundred yards.
The making of fire by means of friction, produced by rubbing together two pieces of wood, was practiced nightly. Here one could see the exhibitions of the witch doctor, his means of ascertaining disease and his method of curing. They showed also their methods of fencing and of conducting battles, their sports, pastimes and strange characteristics. Among their strange customs was that of offering prayer to their king every time they smoked. Their marriage relations are strange. When a man becomes enamored of a girl he immediately begins negotiations with the parents for her purchase, the price being from six to ten cows, according to her beauty and age. A cow is worth about five dollars in our money, so a pretty and attractive Zulu maiden is worth from forty to fifty dollars. A man of any other nationality is at liberty to buy them as if he were a Zulu. A man may have as many wives as he has cows to purchase them with. Their marital laws are very strict and worthy the recognition of many races graded higher in the scale of civilization.
It was the intention to bring this group to America to join my show, but owing to their enormous success in London they were not brought until early in the spring of 1881. After their arrival in this country they were visited by many African missionaries. In this way the whereabouts of two missionary families supposed to have been killed during their war were ascertained.