The Humbugs of the World

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The Humbugs of the World  (1866) 
by P. T. Barnum
This work is subtitled An Account of Humbugs, Delusions, Impositions, Quackeries, Deceits and Deceivers Generally, in All Ages.


  • Publisher’s Note
  • Introduction
  • I. Personal Reminiscences.
    • Chapter I. General View of the Subject. — Humbug Universal. — In Religion. — In Politics. — In Business. — In Science. — In Medicine. — How Is It to Cease. — The Greatest Humbug of All.
    • Chapter II. Definition of the Word Humbug. — Warren of London. — Genin, the Hatter. — Gosling’s Blacking.
    • Chapter III. Monsieur Mangin, the French Humbug.
    • Chapter IV. Old Grizzly Adams.
    • Chapter V. The Golden Pigeons. — Grizzly Adams. — German Chemist. — Happy Family. — French Naturalist.
    • Chapter VI. The Whale, The Angel Fish, and The Golden Pigeon.
    • Chapter VII. Pease’s Horehound Candy. — The Door Rebellion. — The Philadelphia Aldermen.
    • Chapter VIII. Brandreth’s Pills. — Magnificent Advertising. — Power of Imagination.
  • II. The Spiritualists.
    • Chapter IX. The Davenport Brothers, Their Rise And Progress. — Spiritual Rope-Tying. — Music Playing. — Cabinet Secrets. — “They Choose Darkness Rather Than Light,” Etc. — The Spiritual Hand. — How the Thing Is Done. — Dr. W. F. Van Vleck.
    • Chapter X. The Spirit-Rapping and Medium Humbugs. — Their Origin. — How The Thing Is Done. — $500 Reward.
    • Chapter XI. The “Ballot-Test.” — The Old Gentleman and His “Diseased” Relatives. — A “Hungry Spirit.” — “Palming” A Ballot. — Revelations on Strips of Paper.
    • Chapter XII. Spiritual “Letters on the Arm.” — How to Make Them Yourself. — The Tambourine and Ring Feats. — Dexter’s Dancing Hats. — Phosphorescent Oil. — Some Spiritual Slang.
    • Chapter XIII. Demonstrations by “Sampson” Under a Table. — A Medium Who Is Handy with Her Feet. — Exposé of Another Operator in Dark Circles.
    • Chapter XIV. Spiritual Photographing. — Colorado Jewett and the Spirit-Photographs of General Jackson, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Stephen A. Douglas, Napoleon Bonaparte, Etc. — A Lady Of Distinction Seeks and Finds a Spiritual Photograph of Her Deceased Infant, and Her Dead Brother Who Was Yet Alive. — How It Was Done.
    • Chapter XV. Banner of Light. — Messages from the Dead. — Spiritual Civilities. — Spirit “Hollering.” — Hans von Vleet, The Female Dutchman. — Mrs. Conant’s “Circles.” — Paine’s Table-Tipping Humbug Exposed.
    • Chapter XVI. Spiritualist Humbugs Waking Up. — Foster Heard From. — S. B. Brittan Heard From. — The Boston Artists and Their Spiritual Portraits. — The Washington Medium and His Spiritual Hands. — The Davenport Brothers and the Sea-Captain’s Wheat-Flour. — The Davenport Brothers Roughly Shown Up by John Bull. — How a Shingle “Stumped” the Spirits.
    • Chapter XVII. The Davenport Brothers Shown Up Once More. — Dr. Newton at Chicago. — The Spiritualist Bogus Baby. — A Lady Brings Forth a Motive Force. — “Gum” Arabic. — Spiritualist Hebrew. — The Allen Boy. — Dr. Randall. — Portland Evening Courier. — The Fools Not All Dead Yet.
  • III. Trade and Business Impositions.
    • Chapter XVIII. Adulterations of Food. — Adulterations of Liquor. — The Colonel’s Whiskey. — The Humbugometer.
    • Chapter XIX. Adulterations in Drinks. — Riding Home on Your Wine-Barrel. — List of Things to Make Rum. — Things to Color It With. — Canal-Boat Hash. — English Adulteration Law. — Effects of Drugs Used. — How To Use Them. — Buying Liquors Under the Custom-House Lock. — A Homœopathic Dose.
    • Chapter XX. The Peter Funks and Their Functions. — The Rural Divine and the Watch. — Rise and Progress of Mock Auctions. — Their Decline and Fall.
    • Chapter XXI. Lottery Sharks. — Boult and His Brothers. — Kenneth, Kimball and Company. — A More Central Location Wanted for Business. — Two Seventeenth-Lies. — Strange Coincidence.
    • Chapter XXII. Another Lottery Humbug. — Two Hundred and Fifty Recipes. — Vile Books. — “Advantage-Cards.” — A Package for You; Please Send the Money. — Peddling in Western New York.
    • Chapter XXIII. A California Coal Mine. — A Hartford Coal Mine. — Mysterious Subterranean Canal on the Isthmus.
  • IV. Money Manias.
    • Chapter XXIV. The Petroleum Humbug. — The New York and Rangoon Petroleum Company.
    • Chapter XXV. The Tulipomania.
    • Chapter XXVI. John Bull’s Great Money Humbug. — The South Sea Bubble in 1720.
    • Chapter XXVII. Business Humbugs. — John Law. — The Mississippi Scheme. — Johnny Crapaud as Greedy as Johnny Bull.
  • V. Medicine and Quacks.
    • Chapter XXVIII. Doctors and Imagination. — Firing A Joke out of a Cannon. — The Paris Eye Water. — Majendie on Medical Knowledge. — Old Sands of Life.
    • Chapter XXIX. The Consumptive Remedy. — E. Andrews, M. D. — Born Without Birthrights. — Hasheesh Candy. — Roback the Great. — A Conjurer Opposed to Lying.
    • Chapter XXX. Monsignore Cristoforo Rischio; Or, il Créso, The Nostrum-Vendor of Florence. — A Model for Our Quack Doctors.
  • VI. Hoaxes.
    • Chapter XXXI. The Twenty-Seventh Street Ghost. — Spirits on the Rampage.
    • Chapter XXXII. The Moon-Hoax.
    • Chapter XXXIII. The Miscegenation Hoax. — A Great Literary Sell. — Political Humbugging. — Tricks of the Wire-Pullers. — Machinery Employed to Render the Pamphlet Notorious. — Who Were Sold and How It Was Done.
  • VII. Ghosts and Witchcrafts.
    • Chapter XXXIV. Haunted Houses. — A Night Spent Alone with a Ghost. — Kirby, the Actor. — Colt’s Pistols Versus Hobgoblins. — The Mystery Explained.
    • Chapter XXXV. Haunted Houses. — Ghosts. — Ghouls. — Phantoms. — Vampires. — Conjurors. — Divining. — Goblins. — Fortune-Telling. — Magic. — Witches. — Sorcery. — Obi. — Dreams. — Signs. — Spiritual Mediums. — False Prophets. — Demonology. — Deviltry Generally.
    • Chapter XXXVI. Magical Humbugs. — Virgil. — A Pickled Sorcerer. — Cornelius Agrippa. — His Students and His Black Dog. — Doctor Faustus. — Humbugging Horse-Jockeys. — Ziito and His Large Swallow. — Salamanca. — Devil Take the Hindmost.
    • Chapter XXXVII. Witchcraft. — New York Witches. — The Witch Mania. — How Fast They Burned Them. — The Mode of Trial. — Witches To-Day in Europe.
    • Chapter XXXVIII. Charms and Incantations. — How Cato Cured Sprains. — The Secret Name of God. — Secret Names of Cities. — Abracadabra. — Cures for Cramp. — Mr. Wright’s Sigil. — Whiskerifusticus. — Witches’ Horses. — Their Curses. — How to Raise the Devil.
  • VIII. Adventurers.
  • IX. Religious Humbugs.
    • Chapter XLIV. Diamond Cut Diamond; Or, Yankee Superstitions. — Matthias the Impostor. — New York Follies Thirty Years Ago.
    • Chapter XLV. A Religious Humbug on John Bull. — Joanna Southcott. — The Second Shiloh.
    • Chapter XLVI. The First Humbug in the World. — Advantages of Studying the Impositions of Former Ages. — Heathen Humbugs. — The Ancient Mysteries. — The Cabiri. — Eleusis. — Isis.
    • Chapter XLVII. Heathen Humbugs No. 2 — Heathen Stated Services. — Oracles. — Sibyls. — Auguries.
    • Chapter XLVIII. Modern Heathen Humbugs. — Fetishism. — Obi. — Vaudoux. — Indian Powwows. — Lamaism. — Revolving Prayers. — Praying to Death.
    • Chapter XLIX. Ordeals. — Duels. — Wager of Battle. — Abraham Thornton. — Red Hot Iron. — Boiling Water. — Swimming. — Swearing. — Corsned. — Pagan Ordeals.
    • Chapter L. Apollonius of Tyana.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.