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There are no better rules for business success than those laid down by Mr. Barnum, and which have guided his course. Among them are these—“select the kind of business suited to your temperament and inclination; let your pledged word p. 58ever be sacred; whatever you do, do with all your might; use no description of intoxicating drinks; let hope predominate, but do not be visionary; pursue one thing at a time; do not scatter your powers; engage proper assistance; live within your income, if you almost starve; depend upon yourself, and not upon others.”

Perhaps one of the men who made most money by advertising, was Mr. Barnes, the proprietor of the New York Ledger. The manner was entirely his own. When he startled the public by taking columns of a daily journal, or one entire side, he secured the end he had in view. His method of repeating three or four lines—such as, “Jenny Jones writes only for the Ledger!” or “Read Mrs. Southwort’s new story in the Ledger!”—and this repeated over and over again, till men turned from it in disgust, and did not conceal their ill-temper—was a system of itself. “What is the use,” said a man to Mr. Barnes, “of your taking the whole side of the Herald, and repeating that statement a thousand times?” “Would you have asked me that question,” replied Mr. Barnes, “if I had inserted it but once? I put it in to attract your attention, and to make you ask that question.” This mode of advertising was new, and it excited both astonishment and ridicule. His ruin was predicted over and over again; and when he had thus amassed a fine fortune, it was felt that the position he had secured was the one he aimed at when he was a mere printer’s lad. He sought for no short paths to success; he mastered his trade as a printer patiently and perfectly; he earned his money before he spent it; in New York he was preferred because he did his work better than others; he was truthful, sober, honest, and industrious; if he took a job, he finished it at the time and in the manner agreed upon. He borrowed no money, incurred no debts, and suffered no embarrassments. He was born in the north of Ireland, not far from Londonderry, and was true to the Scotch Presbyterian blood in his veins.

I now come to the most illustrious name, as regards money-getters, either in England or America. Mr. George Peabody was something more than a money-hunter, and, in the history of money-making men, deserves the post of honour for his philanthropy. He was born in Massachusetts, and was, essentially, a self-taught and self-made man. After he had learnt, in the district school, how to read and write, having p. 59been four years in a grocer’s score, and having spent another year with his grandfather in rustic life in Vermont, he went to join his brother David, who had set up a drapery or dry-goods store at Newburyport. This was stopped, a few months after, by a fire, which destroyed Peabody’s shop and most of the other houses in the town. Fortunately, at this juncture, an uncle, who had settled in George Town, in the district of Columbia, invited young George to become his commercial assistant; and he stayed with him a couple of years, managing the most part of the business. In May, 1812, during the unhappy war between Great Britain and America, when a British fleet came up the Potomac, this young merchant’s clerk, with others of his time, volunteered into the patriot army, and served a few months in the defence of Port Warburton, as a true citizen soldier. The short war being over, his proved skill and diligence brought him the offer of a partnership in a new concern—it was that of Elisha Riggs, who was about to commence the sale of dry goods throughout the middle States of the union. Riggs found the capital, while Peabody did the work, and the firm at once achieved immense success. Peabody acted as bagsman, and often travelled alone, on horseback, through the western wilds of New York and Pennsylvania, or the plantations of Maryland and Virginia, if not farther, lodging with farmers or gentlemen slave-owners, and so becoming acquainted with every class of people, and every way of living: indeed, so fast did the Southern connection increase, that the house was removed to Baltimore, though its branches were established, seven years later, at Philadelphia and New York. About the year 1830, Mr. Riggs having retired from business, Mr. Peabody found himself at the head of one of the largest mercantile firms in the home-trade of America. But Mr. Peabody had also, by this time, distinguished himself as a man of superior integrity, discretion, and public spirit. “He coveted no political office; he courted the votes of no party; he waited upon no caucus; put his foot down,” says the writer of the account of his life in the “Annual Register,” “upon no platform; but held aloof from the strife of American factions.” His first visit to London was in 1827, whole he was still chief partner in the Baltimore firm. In 1843, he fixed himself here, as merchant and money-broker, with others, by the style of “George Peabody and Co., of Warnford p. 60Court, City.” As one of the three commissioners appointed by the State of Maryland to obtain means for restoring its credit, he refused to be paid for his services; but the State could not do less than vote him their special thanks. To the last he retained his fondness for his native land, and used to celebrate the anniversary of American Independence, on the 4th of July, with a kind of public dinner at the Crystal Palace.

It is as a magnificent giver as well as getter of money that Mr. Peabody has become famous. He knew perfectly well what he was about. He had seen as much of the world as most elderly men of business accustomed to society and travel, and he had come to the conclusion that a man was not made happy by fine houses, and grand equipages, and stately parks, and galleries filled with the choicest productions of art in ancient or modern times, or by the social status which assuredly the possession of money gives. None of these things, he found, made a man happy; though if he had them, and were deprived of them, the loss would make him truly unhappy indeed. Mr. Peabody thought he knew a surer way to the possession of happiness; and that was, by dedicating the wealth he had honourably acquired, to the promotion of the well-being of his less fortunate fellow-men.

Some of his first acts of pecuniary munificence, as was to be expected, had an American bearing. At the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, he promptly supplied the sum needed to pay for the arrangements of the United States contributions. In the following year he joined Mr. Henry Grinnell, of New York, shipowner, in fitting out the expedition to the Arctic Sea in search of Sir John Franklin. In the same year he bestowed a large donation, since augmented to £100,000, to found a free library and educational institute at Danvers, his native place. In 1857, he revisited his native land, after an absence of twenty years. On this occasion he gave £100,000 to form, at Baltimore, a noble institute devoted to science and art, in conjunction with a free public library. The corner-stone of this building was laid in 1858, and the structure was then completed; but its opening was delayed by the civil war which at that time prevailed. It was not till after the conclusion of the war that it was finally dedicated to the purposes for which it was founded. Mr. Peabody afterwards gave a second £100,000 to the institute.

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p. 61In 1862, Mr. Peabody made the magnificent donation of £150,000 for the amelioration of the condition of the poor of London, and the trustees, who were men of mark and position, immediately employed the money in accordance with the noble donor’s wishes, in the erection of model dwellings for working-men. In 1866, he added another £100,000 to the fund; and in 1868, he made a further donation of about fifteen acres of land at Brixton, 5,642 shares in the Hudson’s Bay Company, and £5,405 in cash (altogether another £100,000); thus making the value of his gifts to the poor of London as much as £350,000. By the last will and testament of Mr. Peabody, opened on the day of his funeral, his executors, Sir Curtis Sampson and Sir Charles Reed, were directed to apply a further sum of £150,000 to the Peabody Fund, thus making a sum of half a million sterling so employed.

This extraordinary beneficence, on the part of a private citizen, was acknowledged in Great Britain. The freedom of the City of London was conferred on Mr. Peabody by the corporation. The Queen, not content with offering him either a baronetcy or the Grand Cross of the Bath, which he respectfully declined, wrote him a grateful letter, and invited him to visit her at Windsor. In 1866, just before his second visit to his native country, he received from her the gift of a beautiful miniature portrait of herself, framed in the most costly style, which he deposited in the Peabody Institute at Danvers. The last token of public honour which was rendered to Mr. Peabody before his death, was the uncovering, by the Prince of Wales, of Storey’s fine bronze statue of himself behind the Royal Exchange.

Mr. Peabody remained in his native land three years, during which time he largely increased the amount of his donations, and founded more than one or two important institutions. He gave 2,000,000 dollars for the education of the blacks and whites in the South; 300,000 dollars for museums of American relics at Yale and Harvard Colleges; 50,000 dollars for a free museum at Salem; 25,000 dollars to Bishop McIlxame for Kenyon College; and presented a sum of 230,000 dollars to the State of Maryland. He also expended 100,000 dollars on a memorial church to his mother, and distributed among the members of his family 2,000,000 dollars. In recognition of his many large gifts to public p. 62institutions in America, Mr. Peabody received, in March 1867, a special vote of thanks from the United States. He died in London, at the house of his friend, Six Curtis Sampson, at Eaton Square, in the seventy-filth year of his age. The funeral took place in Westminster Abbey though, in accordance with the wishes of the deceased, the body was afterwards conveyed to America. The coffin-lid bore the following inscription:—

George Peabody,

Born at Danvers, Massachusetts, February 18th, 1795;

Died in London, England, November 4th, 1869.

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The remains were taken over to America in her Majesty’s turret-ship, the Monarch.

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The late Mr. A. T. Stewart, dry-goods merchant of New York, has left a curious monument of his administrative skill in the great Working Women’s Hotel, recently completed in that city. As a large employer of labour, male as well as female, Mr. Stewart became impressed with the difficulty that working-folk have in finding lodgings even in comparatively new cities. In swiftly-growing New York, the constantly increasing demand for business premises has pushed the population higher and higher up the island, until one fashionable street after another has been converted into stores and offices, and people fairly well off have built themselves handsome dwellings further afield. This has been by no means an unprofitable change for house-owners; for the compensation received for a house “down town,” more than suffices to build and furnish a handsome dwelling in that part of the city still devoted to private residences; but to the poorer classes of inhabitants, rapid change and development of this kind have been not a little oppressive. Far more swiftly and suddenly than in London, the working-people have found themselves thrust from the space previously occupied by them, but grown too valuable to be covered by their humble homes. Like their brethren in London, they have either retired to the suburbs and find a tiresome morning and evening journey added to the miseries of life, or have taken refuge in large houses let out in tenements and built expressly for the accommodation of artisan families. Both English and American experiments in this latter direction have been very successful. Practice has taught the proper principle of constructing large p. 63tenement houses as well as artisans’ and labourers’ cottages, and the working family is probably not less commodiously, and is certainly more healthily, lodged than it has been at any preceding period. The single man, too, is cared for; but the single woman has hitherto been under certain disadvantages. It is obvious that a house almost always contains more space than she wants, and costs more money than she can afford; and it is equally clear that in cooking her own meals separately she is wasting time, food, and fuel. Some of these objections might, perhaps, be got over by four or five women clubbing together; but their general feeling has never been strongly manifested in favour of divided rule or responsibility. It is subjecting human nature to a severe test to ask people to “room together,” as it is called in America, the ordinary result being that the temporary “chums” never speak again to each other for the rest of their lives. It was to obviate this strain on human sympathy that Mr. Stewart projected the Working Women’s Hotel, the completion of which he did not live to see.

“Judging from the prices charged,” says a writer in the Daily News, “and the regulations enforced, the working women for whom the great hotel at New York has been constructed, are of a class somewhat above that of the factory or work-girl proper. Seven dollars a-week for board and a separate room, or six dollars a-head if two persons occupy the same room, is a price that would absorb an ordinary workwoman’s entire earnings. When it is recollected that the value of a paper dollar is now within a fraction of that of a gold one, and that wages and other things have fallen in price with the contraction of the currency since the civil war, it is not easy to see from what class of actual workwomen the hotel is to draw its customers. Women working at trades clearly cannot aspire to the comforts provided for seven dollars a-week, and it is doubtful whether those in a position to pay that sum will submit to the restrictions imposed upon boarders. For the sum asked they can, at the present moment, obtain board easily elsewhere, and enjoy perfect liberty. It is very likely that the food and accommodation provided at the hotel are much superior to those offered at the smaller boarding-houses with which the outer edges of New York, Brooklyn, and Jersey City are thickly studded; but mere eating and sleeping seem to be regarded p. 64by women, in America at least, in a far less serious light than by men. The code of regulations at the Working Women’s Hotel affords an amusing instance of the severity which comes over the American when called to the lofty and important position of keeping an hotel. In other walks of life he is easy and good-natured, but when impelled by destiny to ‘run’ an hotel, he undergoes a sudden transformation into a despot. The guests at the new hotel are informed that eight large parlours have been provided for the reception of visitors, who will not be allowed in other rooms or parlours except by express permission of the manager. The eight parlours specified correspond, in fact, to the strangers’ rooms at a club. It is furthermore provided that no visiting to a room will be allowed except by consent of all the occupants; that no washing of clothes will be permitted in the rooms, and that no sewing-machines or working apparatus shall be brought into them. This last regulation may appear severe, but it is probably intended to protect those who do not sew from annoyance. A sewing-machine is an unpleasant neighbour, it is true; but so is a rocking-chair; yet it may be doubted whether even the despot who reigns over this last new ‘institution’ will prove equal to the task of tabooing that pestilent article of furniture. Animals will be rigidly excluded. No dogs, cats, birds, or other pet creatures will be suffered; meals will be served at fixed hours; the gas will be turned off and the hotel closed at half-past eleven. Whether this code will be submitted to by American working-women capable of paying from 24s. to 28s. weekly for board and lodging remains to be seen. The upper lady-clerk in a store is, as a rule, gifted with great strength of character, and as a fairly educated, self-reliant, and hardworking member of society, is perfectly entitled to display her sense of independence. She will be quick to perceive the advantages offered by the new hotel, but it is at least probable that she will be equally quick to resent the restrictions which it is sought to impose upon her sovereign will and pleasure.”

A poor rich man, not long since, died at Cincinnati, leaving property worth considerably more than half a million sterling. He lived up an alley in one small room, dressed in rags, and looked like a penniless tramp, and yet he owned more than 100,000 acres of land. Another citizen of Cincinnati also offered to present to the city his valuable art-collection, p. 65worth £40,000, on condition that a fire-proof building should be erected in which to store it.