Issuu on Google+


FIFTY YEARS IN THE

BEING

AN ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR'S PROFESSIONAL LIFE ; IIIS WONDERFUL TRICKS AND FEATS; WITH LAUGHABLE INCIDENTS, AND ADVENTURES AS A MAGICIAN, NECROMANCER, AND VENTRILOQUIST.

BY

BLITZ. PUBLISHED BY SCBSCllIPTION ONLY.

lUnstrated with Numerous Engravings, and Portrait or the Author on Steel.

HARTFORD, CONN.:

BEL KNAP & BLISS. W. E. BLISS, TOLEDO, OHIO. DUFFIELD ASHMEAD, PHILADELPHIA, PENN. NETTLETON & CO., CINCINNATI, OHIO. GEORGE M. SMITH & CO., BOSTON, MASS. A. L. BANCROFT & CO., SAN FRANCISCO, CAL.

1872.


ENTEUKD, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by BELKNAP & BLISS, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

M. l | . MALLUUY 4 CO., FBIXTKKS AND KLEfTTlOTYrK IIAKTPUKD, CONN,


TO

IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF TIIEIK

FEIENDSHIP

THIS

A.NID KINDNESS, VOIJVMJS IS

5lffrrtinnatrlt[


PREFACE. IN presenting my Autobiography, I am fully aware of the grave responsibility I assume, and equally so of the presumption of a person describing, in a measure, his own character;—yet it is essentially better to relate one's adventures himself, than to entrust them to the dictation of others. The reminiscences of my life may not be entitled to any special merit, beyond the amusement they may afford for the moment; yet, to pass away as others have done whose record would have been useful and interesting, we should be derelict in duty to ourselves and the public. Not that my life presents any particular traits above a busy career; yet, if of no special benefit to mankind, it will not be detrimental to the morals and impulses of those who may be pleased to peruse it. It is an axiom that positions and fortunes are frequently the result of outward circumstances and incidents, and if the experience of every man was written, what a variety of books we should have for society ! My whole object has been to present facts,—to draw from truth, not fiction,—to present events as they occurred, rather than appeared,-—to demonstrate the variety and peculiar phases of mankind; not only to smile at the follies


vi

PREFACE.

and foibles that surround us, but to sympathize with the aggravations and misfortunes of poor humanity,—to create a laugh rather than a tear. Life is like a vast ocean: to many, it is calm and placid, with picturesque harbors; to others, a boisterous voyage, of great perils, and ofttimes shipwreck. My own pilgrimage has been a felicitous one, for I have always yielded to those convictions on which our individual prosperity is based; yet, favored or afflicted, who can or should but feel happy ? The bright sun shines alike for the good and wicked. The gates of heaven are open to all who seek an entrance therein, or entertain hopes of the future. Time brings forth something new daily; indeed, we have become so dependent upon novelty, that unless our anticipations are satisfied in this direction, we are all discontented and unhappy. This feeling has inculcated itself so tenaciously in our ordinary habits, that I almost doubt the propriety of appearing as an author, fearing the same sensitiveness may operate in regard to what I present to my readers. We have not all the faculty of being great, or endurable, out of our just sphere; yet something, however little, may be contributed to gratify the most morose or fastidious, to cheer the distressed and desponding, to invoke charity and kindness, and infuse rational gayety around our homes, places of business, and general duties; in short, to induce us to feel and act better; above all, to know ourselves, and fulfil the mission we have to complete; for, indeed, there are a thousand duties to perform, which, however trifling they may appear, are not less momentous


PREFACE.

vii

when combined, for they reveal their own truth, and create a moral brilliancy in the atmosphere of our daily associations, and repudiate the inconsistencies that mingle in the general formation of our habits. During my fifty years before the public, it may be presumed that my experience and association with distinguished persons in the Old and New "Worlds have been alinost unlimited. Their pleasantries and anecdotes, with brief sketches of their eccentricities, I have given, to the best of my recollection. During this long period I have never made a memorandum, therefore have written entirely from memory; consequently, there may be some slight inaccuracies in regard to dates and circumstances; if so, they will in no way invalidate the facts. Before concluding these remarks, it will be a pleasure to express my grateful thanks to all my American friends, to assure them of my warm regard for their uniform kindness and indulgence to me in my professional capacity, and an appreciation of their esteem and attention in private life. I can only regret my inability to return a proportionate compensation, one at least adequate to what they are entitled to receive; but, however deficient I may be in this respect, I can congratulate them upon the growth of their beautiful country—the increase of the population from 14,000,000, at the time of my arrival in America, to the present estimate of 40,000,000, which is not only marvellous and unsurpassed in the history of nations, but enables us to anticipate the great destiny that awaits her future. New States and Territories have been admitted into the


viii

PREFACE.

Union in rapid succession; their huge forests have disappeared, and countless towns and cities occupy their space. The whole surface of the land presents an industrious and progressive race. In every department of life a vitality prevails that proves the advantages which republican institutions bestow upon labor and capital,—the independence it provides for thought and action, and the opportunities for all classes to become wealthy, happy, and contented.


thou art the prince of fun, The very soul of wit and mirtli, And aged sire and youthful son Admit thy art and own thy worth. The mother and the child alike, Are moved to merriment by thee; And thus thou art a blessing sent To gladden dull humanity I DEAR BLITZ!

How many a pleasant hour has passed, Beneath the magic of thy wand! How many a snow-white egg has grown, Before thy wondrous sleight of hand 1 Thy pleasant smile—thy rapid speech— The tricks that made e'en cynics gay— Thy never-failing fund of wit— Oh 1 can they ever pass away 1 Time has but gently touched thee yet. And tliough thy locks are getting gray, The eye is full of living light— The face is open as the day. GOD bless thee, Blitz! and when at last, The sands of life are nearly done, May angels watch around thy couch, To bear thee to th' ETERNAL ONE ! Truly Your Friend, ROBERT MORRIS.


1. PORTRAIT OP TIIE AUTHOR ON S T E E L

Frontispiece.

2. MAGICAL COMBINATIONS

3. T H E V E T E R A N TEACHER

24

4. A SPRIG OP NOBILITY

53

5. STOP T H I E F ! STOP T H I E F !

87

6. DocnESS OF ST. ALBANS

107

7. T H E KIND-HEARTED SAILOR

141

8. EMIGRATING W E S T ; OR. W E S T W A R D , H o !

1G0

9. GEORGE GUEST, T H E H A L F - B R E E D

193

10. DETERMINED TO FLOAT

214

11. T H E FAMILY BEDROOM

251

12. PRINTING-HOUSE SQUARE

274

13. MAGICIAN IN A BALL-ROOM

296

14. STORM AT SEA

315

15. T H E NONPLUSSED MERCHANT

340

16. HAVANA

376

17. INDEPENDENCE SQUARE

421

ALSO NUMEROUS SMALL ENGRAVINGS.


CHAPTER I. MY EARLY LIFE.

Philosophy of Laughing-—Birth and Parentage—The "Black Eagle"—Juvenile Tricka — School-days—The Old Veteran Teacher, . . . . . . . .

24

CHAPTER II. APPEARANCE IN PUBLIC.

Thirteen Tears of Age—Parting from my Mother—First Appearance on the Stage—Hamburg and Lubec—The Conceited Doctor—Dr. Von Kelperstein's Love-letters—Return Home—First Great Affliction, . . . . . . .

29

CHAPTER III. INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND.

Appearance in England—Clerical Opposition—The Watch Trick —Indictment and Trial before the Council—Trying an Experiment—The Frightened Judges—The Black Art—Bewitching the Parish—Visit to London—A Nervous Landlady,

o'J

CHAPTER IV. ADVENTURE WITH GAMBLERS. T r i c k s of a G a m e s t e r — A G a m b l i n g S a l o o n — T h e R u i n e d Y o u n g M a n — H i s Sad S t o r y — T h e B i t e r B i t — L o s t , b u t S a v e d — T h e Magician's Trick, . . . . . -

44


CONTENTS. CHAPTER V. " THE INQUISITIVE LADIES.

The Fortune-teller—The Broken-hearted Maiden—Her Sad Story —Effects of Fortune-telling—The Mysterious Paper—The Lovers made Happy—Jack Ketch, the Hangman—The Hat aud Whiskers—A good Joke, -

51

CHAPTER VI. IRELAND.

Entertainments in Dublin—An Aristocratic Cabbage—Ventriloqui.sm Illustrated—The Frightened Doctor—Doctor Crampton and the Students, -

56

CHAPTER VII. IRISH CHARACTER.

Daniel O'Connell—Irish Wit—The Marchioness of Donegal—The Talking Codfish—The Dishonest Servant—The Repentant Chambermaid—The Frightened Tax-collector—Martial Law in Kilkenny, . . . . . . .

66

CHAPTER VIII. THE WITCHES UNDER THE BRIDGE.

The Sergeant and the Soldiers—The Female Bathers—Attempting an Arrest the Sergeant gets a Ducking—Game of Hideand-Seek—Ominous Signs—Effect of Superstition, -

73

CHAPTER IX. VISIT TO SCOTLAND.

Coronation of King William—Glasgow—Spirit of the Mill—Paganini, the Violinist—Babe in the Violin Case—My Marriage —Personal Adventure—Falling in Love, and its Consequences,

80


CONTENTS.

XU1

CHAPTER X. INCIDENTS m EDINBURG.

The Bottled Janitor—The Bewitched Horse—My Silver Snuff-box —A Clergyman in Trouble—Struggles of a Poor Man—Poll Parrot Pays the Rent—An Aerial Voyage—The Freaks of Fortune—What Happened at a Dinner-party—Personal Jokes,

99

CHAPTER XL VERY PECULIAR PEOPLE.

The Two Pictures—Individual Oddities—Amateur Magicians—A Wig Regiment—An Original Feat—Before the Nobility—Picture of a Rich Man—Duchess of St. Albans—A Brilliant Assembly,

108

CHAPTER XII. ACROSS THE ATLANTIC.

Farewell Soirees at Liverpool—Packet-ship " Columbus "—A Mississippi Major—Arrival in New York—Young America—The Original Blitz—Bogus Personages—Finding one's Talent— The Man of Brass—Ambitious Office-seeker—Persevering Politician—American Enterprise, . . . . .

121

CHAPTER XIII. ENGAGEMENT AT NIBLO'S GARDEN.

How to Dine with Kings—A Disturbed Dinner—The King of Pigs —The Great and Little Magician—The Marketman Outwitted —Quakeress and Chickens—The Wonderful Money-bag—Egg Trick—Game of Cricket—A man of Veracity, -

132

CHAPTER XIV. THE ECCENTRIC DR. VALENTINE.

The Land Doctor—A Wise Phrenologist—Agricultural Chemistry —Villanous Heads—A Natural Thief —The Clun Trick—A Dangerous Experiment—The Kind-hearted Sailor—Almost a Catastrophe, . . . . . .

141


CONTENTS. CHAPTER XV. PASSAGE TO BOSTON, AND INCIDENTS.

A Sound Steamer—Laughable Occurrences—The Gormandizers— A Temperance Governor—His Bottle of Whiskey—The Coat of all Colors—A Boston Merchant—Tricks at Faneuil Hall Market — Beelzebub's Wife — Cambridge—Judge Story—Au American General, . . . . . -

152

CHAPTER XVI. SALEM WITCHCRAFT.

History of Witches—Superstition and Spiritualism—Monomaniacs—Doctor John Price—Fire from Glass—Codfish Aristocracy at Marblchead—Lodgings in a Poor-house—A Laughable Feat —The Great West,

166

CHAPTER XVII. ADVENTURES IN PnrLADELPIIIA.

A Model City—The Automaton Chess-player—The Beautiful Lady —A Truant Husband—The Deserted Wife—A Prophecy— Victimizing a Judge—Dissecting a Mummy, -

179

CHAPTER XVIII. VISIT TO THE SOTJTH.

Ventriloquism in the Senate Chamber—Reminiscences of Webster, Clay, Fillmore—The Frightened Darkies—Joo and the Bale of Cotton—Tom in a Rice Barrel—" De Debil about, sure!"—Puss and the Rabbits — An Indian Raid—Wheel within a Wheel—An Inventive Genius, -

193

CHAPTER XIX. A DANGEROUS CTJSTOMEIt.

Bad Men and Worthless Money—Escape from Danger—A Shot from Behind—Five Dollars Fine—Experience as a Detective —Gambling and its Results—A Surprising Treat—The Foolish " Schoolmarin "—A Practical Joke—Jealousy and Love— Happy Conclusion, . . . .

204


CONTENTS.

XV

CHAPTER XX. ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

Effects of my Tricks upon the Indians—Gifted Horses—The Surprised Hostler—Value of a Negro's Head—Financial Crisis— Shinplasters—Slave Labor—A Nervous Traveller—Monomania for Life-preservers—Outwitted by Patrick — American Pleasure Travel, -

218

CHAPTER XXI. IN TIIE BRITISH PROVINCES.

A Dead-head—One of the Smiths—A Myth—The Captain and his Tricks—Great Mystery—A Full Disclosure—Spirit and Energy of Americans—A Prophecy Fulfilled—Sir John Harvey,

230

CHAPTER XXII. NOVA SCOTIA.

Residence of the Duke of Kent—Animals Bewitched—The Golden Oranges—Up the St. Lawrence—Great Excitement at my Feats—Before the Bishops and Clergy—Alleged Miracles— Newspaper Bullets—Entertainment at the Government House —Sir George Arthur, -

244

CHAPTER XXIII. LAUGIIABLE INCIDENTS.

The Wise Turkeys—The Gobbler's Talk — Astonished Clergyman—Misplaced Confidence—Professional Thieves—Philosophy of Pocket-picking—Family Bedroom—A Serious Mistake —Smuggling a Passenger—Child in a Carpet-bag—Travelling under Difficulties—The Mystified Quaker, -

258

CHAPTER XXIV. AMTJSING INCIDENTS.

Excitement in a Market—The Pig in a Beet Barrel—The Vegetable Trick—The E g g Trick—Ancient Magicians—A Discomfited Widow—Hours witli the Insane—Touching Appeal—An Interesting Case, -

271


XVI

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXV. DAME FORTUNE.

Thirty-five Tears Ago—Poverty and Riches—John Jacob Astor at Eighteen—The Millionaires of New York—Future of NewYork City—Ventriloquial Illusion—A Royal Bed—Dangerous Attempt—Barbadoes and George III.—Dinner-party Disturbed —The Mystery Explained—Believera in Sorcery, -

288

CHAPTER XXVI. THE CHRISTIAN SKIPPER.

A Great Surprise—Prayer and Praise—Sea Voyage—Trinidad— Temporary Amalgamation—Ignorance of the People—The Connecticut Captain—Cook and the Monkey—An Expensive Pet—Last of tile Monkey, . . . . .

301

CHAPTER XXVII. *

ANTIGUA.

Negro Pilot—Educated Horses—An Enraged Captain—Kidnapped Negro—The Old Nick—Conscientious Minister—Sir Charles and Lady Fitz Roy—Capital of St. Kitts—Chartering a Vessel,

312

CHAPTER XXVIII. A SEA VOYAGE.

Schooner Dart—Storm at Sea—Queen of the Fairies—A Dream of Heaven—Joe Spoils the Dream—Water-nymphs — Captain's Argument—Results of Education—The Unknown Visitor— An Old Maid—Skipper Confounded—Secret Revealed, -

326

CHAPTER XXIX. CONTINUATION AND CLOSE OP TROPICAL TOUR.

My Entertainments—Jamaica.—A Diabolical Character—Haunted House—Party of Cowards—Great Battle with Hobgoblins— The Singing Mule—Obstinate Dick—The Prolific Eggs—Unhatched Chickens — Nonplussed Merchant—Awful Predicament—A Warning Voice—A Drunkard Saved, -

344


CONTENTS.

xvii

CHAPTER XXX. CUBA.

Public Conveyances—The King Pig—Havana—Rights and Privileges of Travellers—Appearance of the City—Governor-General—Qualifications of Rulers—Judges—Land and Naval Forces—Great Contrast—Schools—Sugar Plantations—Labor,

3G1

CHAPTER XXXI. INCIDENTS IN HAVANA. Great S u p e r s t i t i o n — E n c h a n t e d Apple—Tho Mystic B o u q u e t — T h i e v i n g Soldiers—An Unjust Fine—Magician's Gold—Gold Changed to S i l v e r — N a t u r a l Magic—A Bit of P h i l o s o p h y — Liberal L a n d l a d y — P e c u l i a r P e o p l e , . . . .

375

CHAPTER XXXII. THE CUBAN LOVERS.

Senorita Inez Garcia—Senor Carlos, the Old Castilian—Great Opposition of Parents—Tho Warning Voice—The Magician's Trick—All's Well that Ends Well—Captain-General of Cuba —He Becomes a Victim—Before the Alcalde—Battle with tho Bees—Tho Beautiful Lady, -

389

CHAPTER XXXIII. THE SPEAKING PORTRAIT.

The Story of Senorita Alonzo—Tho Sad Farewell—Off to the Battle-field—Don Felix—A Hurricano at Sea—The Catastrophe—Civil War in Spain—Defrauding an Orphan—Results of Ventriloquism—Senorita Obtains her Fortune — Justice at Last, . . . . . . .

401

CHAPTER XXXIV. INCIDENTS AND ADVENTURES ELSEWHERE.

The Landlord and his Quest—Tho Musical Quash—Quash and his Master—The Educated Horse—Billy Loinon, and what he did —A Surprise Party Surprised—Tricks Played on Both Sides— Old Scratch—A Rich Joke—Total Depravity, but Quick Justice—A Sleigh-ride, . . . . . .

414


xviii

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XXXV. PHILADELPHIA AND TIIE REBELLION.

My Present Residence—Patriotic Ladies—Sanitary Commissions— Effects of a Good Laugh—Soldiers' Reading-room—An Affecting Picture—Free Entertainments to the Soldiera—Independence Hall—Singular Ideas of Freedom, . . .

423

CHAPTER XXXVI. CONCLUSION.

The Quaker City — A Buzz on 'Change — A Great Surprise— Thoughts and Sayings of Children—An Impossible Trick— Poor Little Dickey—A Prospective Genius—A Public Servant —Labor of Pleasing, . . . . . .

432


CHAPTER I. LIFE.

IFE certainly presents to us, as we move along, many strange and changeful scenes. At one time, all is light and golden sunshine around us; at another, the sky wears a sable hue, and the scene is changed to darkness and gloom; •CLnaught but sad looks meet our gaze wherever we turn, whilst sighing is the only music that falls upon the ear. And how oddly, too, is the world divided. The opinions and ways of its people are so diametrically opposed to each other, that for us to laugh and amuse ourselves, no matter how innocently, is with some a crime for which there is no forgiveness, while at another time the whole people among whom we are placed are holding momus carnival, and he who perchance wears a serious or saddened face, dampens their enjoyment, and by his presence casts a shadow over the hour's festivity. " Life is filled with variety."

So says the song, and no one doubts its truth. It is a very old, and not at all remarkable observation, that, go the world through, " we shall find no two things alike." But the people who are always so very busy moving about, engaged in all sorts of plain and mysterious doings, and pur-



Fifty years in the magic circle