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- The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 6 - 1/9 -



With a biographical sketch by Melville D. Landon, "Eli Perkins"



Artemus Ward's Panorama.

6.1. Prefatory Note by Melville D. Landon.

6.2. The Egyptian Hall Lecture.

6.3. "The Times" Notice.

6.4. Programme of the Egyptian Hall Lecture.

6.5. Announcement and Programme of the Dodworth Hall Lecture.




The fame of Artemus Ward culminated in his last lectures at Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, the final one breaking off abruptly on the evening of the 23d of January, 1867. That night the great humorist bade farewell to the public, and retired from the stage to die! His Mormon lectures were immensely successful in England. His fame became the talk of journalists, savants, and statesmen. Every one seemed to be affected differently, but every one felt and acknowledged his power. "The Honorable Robert Lowe," says Mr. E.P. HINGSTON, Artemus Ward's bosom friend, "attended the Mormon lecture one evening, and laughed as hilariously as any one in the room. The next evening Mr. John Bright happened to be present. With the exception of one or two occasional smiles, he listened with GRAVE attention."

The "London Standard," in describing his first lecture in London, aptly said, "Artemus dropped his jokes faster than the meteors of last night succeeded each other in the sky. And there was this resemblance between the flashes of his humor and the flights of the meteors, that in each case one looked for jokes or meteors, but they always came just in the place that one least expected to find them. Half the enjoyment of the evening lay, to some of those present, in listening to the hearty cachinnation of the people, who only found out the jokes some two or three minutes after they were made, and who laughed apparently at some grave statements of fact. Reduced to paper, the showman's jokes are certainly not brilliant; almost their whole effect lies in their seeming impromptu character. They are carefully led up to, of course; but they are uttered as if they are mere afterthoughts of which the speaker is hardly sure."

His humor was so entirely fresh and unconventional, that it took his hearers by surprise, and charmed them. His failing health compelled him to abandon the lecture after about eight or ten weeks. Indeed, during that brief period he was once or twice compelled to dismiss his audience. Frequently he sank into a chair and nearly fainted from the exertion of dressing. He exhibited the greatest anxiety to be at his post at the appointed time, and scrupulously exerted himself to the utmost to entertain his auditors. It was not because he was sick that the public was to be disappointed, or that their enjoyment was to be diminished. During the last few weeks of his lecture-giving, he steadily abstained from accepting any of the numerous invitations he received. Had he lived through the following London fashionable season, there is little doubt that the room at the Egyptian Hall would have been thronged nightly. The English aristocracy have a fine, delicate sense of humor, and the success, artistic and pecuniary, of "Artemus Ward" would have rivalled that of the famous "Lord Dundreary." There were many stupid people who did not understand the "fun" of Artemus Ward's books. There were many stupid people who did not understand the fun of Artemus Ward's lecture on the Mormons. Highly respectable people--the pride of their parish--when they heard of a lecture "upon the Mormons," expected to see a solemn person, full of old saws and new statistics, who would denounce the sin of polygamy,--and rave without limit against Mormons. These uncomfortable Christians do not like humor. They dread it as a certain personage is said to dread holy water, and for the same reason that thieves fear policemen--it finds them out. When these good idiots heard Artemus offer if they did not like the lecture in Piccadilly, to give them free tickets for the same lecture in California, when he next visited that country, they turned to each other indignantly, and said, "What use are tickets for California to US? WE are not going to California. No! we are too good, too respectable to go so far from home. The man is a fool!" One of these vestrymen complained to the doorkeeper, and denounced the lecturer as an impostor--"and," said the wealthy parishioner, "as for the panorama, it is the worst painted thing I ever saw."

During the lecture Artemus was always as solemn as the grave. Sometimes he would seem to forget his audience, and stand for several seconds gazing intently at his panorama. Then he would start up and remark apologetically, "I am very fond of looking at my pictures." His dress was always the same--evening toilet. His manners were polished, and his voice gentle and hesitating. Many who had read of the man who spelled joke with a "g," looked for a smart old man with a shrewd cock eye, dressed in vulgar velvet and gold, and they were hardly prepared to see the accomplished gentleman with slim physique and delicate white hands.

The letters of Artemus Ward in "Punch" from the tomb of Shakspeare and the London Tower, had made him famous in England, and in his audience were the nobility of the realm. His first lecture in London was delivered at Egyptian Hall, on Tuesday, November 13th, 1866. The room used was that which had been occupied by Mr. Arthur Sketchley, adjoining the one in which Mr. Arthur Smith formerly made his appearances. The stage, with the curtain down, had this appearance while Artemus was delivering his prologue:

(Drawing of stage with curtain closed and eight footlights.)

Punctually at eight o'clock he would step hesitatingly before the audience, and rubbing his hands bashfully, commence the lecture.


You are entirely welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to my little picture-shop.

I couldn't give you a very clear idea of the Mormons--and Utah--and the Plains--and the Rocky Mountains--without opening a picture-shop--and therefore I open one.

I don't expect to do great things here--but I have thought that if I could make money enough to by me a passage to New Zealand I should feel that I had not lived in vain.

I don't want to live in vain.--I'd rather live in Margate-- or here. But I wish when the Egyptians built this hall they had given it a little more ventilation.

If you should be dissatisfied with anything here to-night--I will admit you all free in New Zealand--if you will come to me there for the orders. Any respectable cannibal will tell you where I live. This shows that I have a forgiving spirit.

I really don't care for money. I only travel round to see the world and to exhibit my clothes. These clothes I have on were a great success in America.

How often do large fortunes ruin young men! I should like to be ruined, but I can get on very well as I am.

I am not an Artist. I don't paint myself--though perhaps if I were a middle-aged single lady I should--yet I have a passion for pictures--I have had a great many pictures-- photographs taken of myself. Some of them are very pretty-- rather sweet to look at for a short time--and as I said before, I like them. I've always loved pictures.

I could draw on wood at a very tender age. When a mere child I once drew a small cart-load of raw turnips over a wooden bridge.--the people of the village noticed me. I drew their attention. They said I had a future before me. Up to that time I had an idea it was behind me.

Time passed on. It always does, by the way. You may possibly have noticed that Time passes on.--It is a kind of way Time has.

I became a man. I haven't distinguished myself at all as an artist--but I have always been more or less mixed up with Art. I have an uncle who takes photographs--and I have a servant who--takes anything he can get his hands on.

When I was in Rome--Rome in New York State I mean--a distinguished sculpist wanted to sculp me. But I said "No." I saw through the designing man. My model once in his hands--he would have flooded the market with my busts-- and I couldn't stand it to see everybody going round with a bust of me. Everybody would want one of course--and wherever I should go I should meet the educated classes with my bust, taking it home to their families. This would be more than my modesty could stand--and I should have to return to America--where my creditors are.

I like Art. I admire dramatic Art--although I failed as an actor.

It was in my schoolboy days that I failed as an actor. (Artemus made many attempts as an amateur actor, but never

The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, Part 6 - 1/9

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