After securing the right vocation, you must be careful to select the proper location. You may have been cut out for a hotel keeper, and they say it requires a genius to „know how to keep a hotel.” You might conduct a hotel like clock-work, and provide satisfactorily for five hundred guests every day; yet, if you should locate your house in a small village where there is no railroad communication or public travel, the location would be your ruin. It is equally important that you do not commence business where there are already enough to meet all demands in the same occupation. I remember a case which illustrates this subject. When I was in London in 1858, I was passing down Holborn with an English friend and came to the „penny shows.” They had immense cartoons outside, portraying the wonderful curiosities to be seen „all for a penny.” Being a little in the „show line” myself, I said „let us go in here.” We soon found ourselves in the presence of the illustrious showman, and he proved to be the sharpest man in that line I had ever met. He told us some extraordinary stories in reference to his bearded ladies, his Albinos, and his Armadillos, which we could hardly believe, but thought it „better to believe it than look after the proof’.” He finally begged to call our attention to some wax statuary, and showed us a lot of the dirtiest and filthiest wax figures imaginable. They looked as if they had not seen water since the Deluge.
„What is there so wonderful about your statuary?” I asked.
„I beg you not to speak so satirically,” he replied, „Sir, these are not Madam Tussaud’s wax figures, all covered with gilt and tinsel and imitation diamonds, and copied from engravings and photographs. Mine, sir, were taken from life. Whenever you look upon one of those figures, you may consider that you are looking upon the living individual.”
Glancing casually at them, I saw one labeled „Henry VIII,” and feeling a little curious upon seeing that it looked like Calvin Edson, the living skeleton, I said: „Do you call that ‚Henry the Eighth?'” He replied, „Certainly; sir; it was taken from life at Hampton Court, by special order of his majesty; on such a day.”
He would have given the hour of the day if I had resisted; I said, „Everybody knows that ‚Henry VIII.’ was a great stout old king, and that figure is lean and lank; what do you say to that?”
„Why,” he replied, „you would be lean and lank yourself if you sat there as long as he has.”
There was no resisting such arguments. I said to my English friend, „Let us go out; do not tell him who I am; I show the white feather; he beats me.”
He followed us to the door, and seeing the rabble in the street, he called out, „ladies and gentlemen, I beg to draw your attention to the respectable character of my visitors,” pointing to us as we walked away. I called upon him a couple of days afterwards; told him who I was, and said:
„My friend, you are an excellent showman, but you have selected a bad location.”
He replied, „This is true, sir; I feel that all my talents are thrown away; but what can I do?”
„You can go to America,” I replied. „You can give full play to your faculties over there; you will find plenty of elbowroom in America; I will engage you for two years; after that you will be able to go on your own account.”
He accepted my offer and remained two years in my New York Museum. He then went to New Orleans and carried on a traveling show business during the summer. To-day he is worth sixty thousand dollars, simply because he selected the right vocation and also secured the proper location. The old proverb says, „Three removes are as bad as a fire,” but when a man is in the fire, it matters but little how soon or how often he removes.