The Genial Showman: Being Reminiscences of the Life of Artemus Ward, and Pictures of a Showman's Career in the Western World
By Harper and Brothers.. New York:
MR. HINGSTON was the agent of Mr. Charles F. Browne during that humorist’s career as a comic lecturer in this country, and here is what he remembers of him. It is not much, nor particularly worth knowing. Mr. Hingston is an Englishman, and enjoys in a high degree the national disqualification for understanding or reproducing any other type. His Americans talk the conventional Americanese of the English tourists,—a dialect which no one else ever heard, — and they are pretty nearly all figures of the cockney fancy. If he ever saw the finer and better side of “Artemus Ward’s ” nature, he does not let us see it; and here again we think his nationality disabled him. His “genial showman” is a vulgar bore, not at all like the real Browne ; who, in spite of evident defects, had yet ever so much good in him, and always considerably more good-humor than humor. About the quality of his humor it does not seem worth while to dispute : as written and as spoken it was fatally dependent upon manner. More amusing than anything he said or did was the fact that he became quite identified in the popular imagination with his own grotesque invention ; but Browne’s best things were not said in Artemus Ward’s person. A pathos, from the circumstances of his early death, rests upon his memory; and this vaguely pensive association is more desirable than any information which his exagent has it in his power to give.