The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous

Author: Artemus Ward

7.2. Artemus Ward’s Autobiography.

New York, near Fifth Avenoo Hotel, Org. 31ct.


Dr Sir,—Yrs, into which you ask me to send you sum leadin incidents in my life so you can write my Bogfry for the papers, cum dooly to hand. I hav no doubt that a article onto my life, grammattycally jerked and properly punktooated, would be a addition to the chois literatoor of the day.

To the youth of Ameriky it would be vallyble as showin how high a pinnykle of fame a man can reach who commenst his career with a small canvas tent and a pea-green ox, which he rubbed it off while scrachin hisself agin the center pole, causin in Rahway, N.Y., a discriminatin mob to say humbugs would not go down in their village. The ox resoom’d agricultooral pursoots shortly afterwards.

I next tried my hand at givin Blind-man concerts, appearin as the poor blind man myself. But the infamus cuss who I hired to lead me round towns in the day time to excite simpathy drank freely of spiritoous licker unbeknowns to me one day, & while under their inflooance he led me into the canal. I had to either tear the green bandige from my eyes or be drownded. I tho’t I’d restore my eyesight.

In writin about these things, Mr. Editer, kinder smooth em over. Speak of ’em as eccentrissities of gen’us.

My next ventur would hav bin a success if I hadn’t tried to do too much. I got up a series of wax figgers, and among others one of Socrates. I tho’t a wax figger of old Sock. would be poplar with eddycated peple, but unfortinitly I put a Brown linen duster and a U.S. Army regulation cap on him, which peple with classycal eddycations said it was a farce. This enterprise was onfortnit in other respecks. At a certin town I advertised a wax figger of the Hon’ble Amos Perkins, who was a Railroad President, and a great person in them parts. But it appeared I had shown the same figger for a Pirut named Gibbs in that town the previs season, which created a intense toomult, & the audience remarked "shame onto me," & other statements of the same similarness. I tried to mollify em. I told ’em that any family possessin children might have my she tiger to play with half a day, & I wouldn’t charge ’em a cent, but alars! it was of no avail. I was forced to leave, & I infer from a article in the "Advertiser" of that town, in which the Editer says, "Atho’ time has silvered this man’s hed with its frosts, he still brazenly wallows in infamy. Still are his snakes stuffed, and his wax works unrelible. We are glad that he has concluded never to revisit our town, altho’, incredible as it may appear, the fellow really did contemplate so doing last summer, when, still true to the craven instincts of his black heart, he wrote the hireling knaves of the obscure journal across the street to know what they would charge for 400 small bills, to be done on yellow paper! We shall recur to this matter again!"

I say, I infer from this article that a prejudiss still exists agin me in that town.

I will not speak of my once bein in straitend circumstances in a sertin town, and of my endeaverin to accoomulate welth by lettin myself to Sabbath School picnics to sing ballads adapted to the understandins of little children, accompanyin myself on a claironett—which I forgot where I was one day, singing, instid of "Oh, how pleasant to be a little child,"

"Rip slap—set em up again,
Right in the middle of a three-cent pie,"

which mistake, added to the fact that I couldn’t play onto the claironett except makin it howl dismal, broke up the picnic, and children said, in voices choked with sobs and emotions, where was their home and where was their Pa? and I said, Be quiet, dear children, I am your Pa, which made a young woman with two twins by her side say very angryly, "Good heavens forbid you should ever be the Pa of any of these innocent ones, unless it is much desirable for them to expire igminyusly upon to a murderer’s gallus!"

I say I will not speak of this. Let it be Berrid into Oblivyun.

In your article, Mr. Editer, please tell him what sort of a man I am.

If you see fit to kriticise my Show speak your mind freely. I do not object to kriticism. Tell the public, in a candid and graceful article, that my Show abounds in moral and startlin cooriosities, any one of whom is wuth dubble the price of admission.

I hav thus far spoke of myself excloosivly as a exhibiter.

I was born in the State of Maine of parents. As a infant I attracted a great deal of attention. The nabers would stand over my cradle for hours and say, "How bright that little face looks! How much it nose!" The young ladies would carry me round in their arms, sayin I was muzzer’s bezzy darlin and a sweety ’eety ’ittle ting. It was nice, tho’ I wasn’t old enuf to properly appreciate it. I’m a healthy old darlin now.

I have allers sustained a good moral character. I was never a Railroad director in my life.

Altho’ in early life I did not inva’bly confine myself to truth in my small bills, I have been gradoolly growin respectabler and respectabler ev’ry year. I luv my children, and never mistake another man’s wife for my own. I’m not a member of any meetin house, but firmly bel’eve in meetin houses, and shouldn’t feel safe to take a dose of laudnum and lay down in the street of a village that hadn’t any, with a thousand dollars in my vest pockets.

My temperament is billious, altho’ I don’t owe a dollar in the world.

I am a early riser, but my wife is a Presbyterian. I may add that I am also bald-heded. I keep two cows.

I live in Baldinsville, Indiany. My next door naber is Old Steve Billins. I’ll tell you a little story about Old Steve that will make you larf. He jined the Church last spring, and the minister said, "You must go home now, Brothern Billins, and erect a family altar in your own house," whereupon the egrejis old ass went home and built a reg’lar pulpit in his sittin room. He had the jiners in his house over four days.

I am 56 (56) years of age. Time, with its relentless scythe, is ever busy. The Old Sexton gathers them in, he gathers them in! I keep a pig this year.

I don’t think of anything more, Mr Ed’ter.

If you should giv my portrait in connection with my Bogfry, please have me ingraved in a languishin attitood, learnin on a marble pillar, leavin my back hair as it is now.—Trooly yours.

Artemus Ward.


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Chicago: Artemus Ward, "7.2. Artemus Ward’s Autobiography.," The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous, ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed August 22, 2019,

MLA: Ward, Artemus. "7.2. Artemus Ward’s Autobiography." The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous, edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 22 Aug. 2019.

Harvard: Ward, A, '7.2. Artemus Ward’s Autobiography.' in The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Complete Works of Artemus Ward Part 7: Miscellaneous, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 August 2019, from