Born in small-town New England, Charles Browne began his career as a young contributor to the Boston Carpet Bag, a humor magazine, and later at Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer he adopted the persona of circus showman Artemus Ward. As Ward, he began writing letters from this fictional character whose travels inspired social commentaries, satires, and burlesques. In 1860 he became editor of New York’s Vanity Fair in addition to writing the Artemus Ward stories and letters, and by 1862 Artemus Ward, His Book, a collection containing the best of the Artemus sketches and letters, was published. The Ward sketches play on the regional differences of the country, combining Down East drollery with Southwest humor.
By the early 1860s, "Artemus Ward" became a traveling road show, and Browne began offering lectures as Ward in territories as far-flung as the American West, Canada, and London. His comedy routine was called The Babes in the Wood (203). Pfaff’s regular Elihu Vedder recalls that when Ward lectured, all of them would go to see him; once Ward joked about Vedder’s painting, The Lair of the Sphinx, and in the recognition that followed, Vedder states that "I felt what Fame was, for the first time" (Digressions 242). Browne capitalized on the success of his crafted persona, publishing the work, Artemus Ward, His Book, which became a best seller and even attracted the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, who read parts of the book before presenting the Emancipation Proclamation to members of his cabinet (Martin 204-5). A contemporary of Ward, William Winter described the comedic genius of his act saying "he was comically eccentric, equally as a character and as a writer. . .He possessed, in an extraordinary degree, the faculty of maintaining a solemn composure of countenance while making comic of ridiculous statements,--as when, in his first lecture in New York, he mentioned the phenomenal skill of his absent pianist, who, he said, 'always wore mittens when playing the paino,'--and he could impart an irresistible effect of humor by means of a felicitous, unexpected inflection of tone. There is little in his published writings that fully explains the charm he exercised in conversation and in public speaking" (285-6).
At the age of 26, Browne was first introduced to Pfaff's when he moved to New York City from Cleveland to work at a magazine (Martin 127-8). In the words of Junius Browne, "he was a pure Bohemian, thoroughly good-natured, incapable of malice toward any one, with a capacity for gentleness and tenderness, like a woman's, open-handed, imprudent, seeing everything at a queer angle, and always wondering at his own success" (154-5). Charles Browne developed a close relationship with many Pfaffians, as a contributor to the Saturday Press. Furthermore, according to scholar Justin Martin, Browne often experimented with his work as "Artemus Ward" at Pfaff's in front of the artists and writers gathered there with whom was "quick to make friends" (132-3). It was with the help of Pfaffians that Browne developed a costume for his alternate persona, Artemus Ward (Martin 134). In August 1865, he would try and help fellow Pfaffians who had allowed him to test out his performance. Brown, along with Henry Clapp, Charles Pfaff, George Arnold, and others, attempted to restart the Saturday Press (Lause 115).
In 1866, Brown traveled to London to perform his famous act, The Babes in the Wood, to a new crowd. Here, Brown continued his habit of going out and drinking following his shows and became acquainted with a group of writers fro the humor magazine, Punch, to which he contributed several articles. However, his bad habits began to take their toll, and he eventually became unable even to make it through his performances. He contracted tuberculosis after two months in London, progressively growing sicker until his death in March of 1867 fulfilling Vedder’s assessment that Ward "looked so frail and delicate that he gave an impression of one doomed to die young" (Digressions 242).. Brown was 32 years old when he died, another member of the Pfaffian crowd to die at a young age (Martin 255). Brown’s legacy was his Artemus Ward performances and use of deadpan humor, which influenced Mark Twain’s public persona on lecture tours (see the letter from Twain to Ward in the "I remain" collection). Ward was also involved in Twain’s literary career; as Twain later recalled, it was Ward who suggested publishing what would become one of Twain’s most famous sketches, "The Famous Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," in The Saturday Press.
Ward is mentioned as one of the "bright spirits" who met at Pfaff's.[pages:10]
Charles F. Browne became famous for his "Artemus Ward" columns while he was the editor of the Cleveland Plaindealer (154).
Browne states Browne/Ward "came to the Metropolis, where clever men naturally tend, worked to his advantage his droll vein for the Saturday Press, Vanity Fair and Mrs. Grundy. He was a pure Bohemian, thoroughly good-natured, incapable of malice toward any one, with a capacity for gentleness and tenderness, like a woman's, open-handed, imprudent, seeing everything at a queer angle, and always wondering at his own success" (154-5).
Browne remarks that Browne/Ward "drew about him in New-York a number of knights of the quill; gained their esteem and affection, and left a vacancy in the circle and their sympathies when his kindly soul went out across the sea" (155).[pages:154-155]
The Editorial Comments lists Mr. C.F. Browne (Artemus Ward) as one of the passengers sailing for Liverpool from Boston today (4).[pages:4]
He is listed as one of the "associates" of the Saturday Press. Derby notes that he is deceased at the time of his writing (232).
He is mentioned as one of the "brightest and most popular humorous men of the day," known to rally around the book store of George W. Carleton. Derby notes that "the noonday hour frequently found most of them at Pfaff's celebrated German restuarant, in a Broadway basement, near Bleecker-street, the rendezvous at that day of the so-called Bohemians." Derby notes that his real name is Charles F. Brown (sic) (239).
Derby writes that "Artemus Ward -- His Book" was a great success for publisher George W. Carleton; more than forty thousand copies of the book sold in its first six months (242).
Derby also includes the following about Brown/Ward: "My readers will remember the humorous lectures of Mr. Charles Brown ('Artemus Ward'), which became so popular throughout the country, and soon place him at the front of the humorists of the day. A little incident is told of him, during the days of his great popularity. He was puffing away at a cigar in Mr. Carleton's private office, when a telegram was handed to him from San Francisco, wired by Maguire, the manager of the Opera House of that city, who inquired, 'What will you take for two nights in California?' Brown immediately replied by the same messenger, without altering his position on the sofa, 'Brandy and water. -- A. Ward.' But he did take something else after all, in the shape of a large sum of money from his California audiences, where he lectured with pronounced success. The funny dispatch having been previously printed in the California papers, made everybody laugh, and all wanted to hear him. When Artemus Ward was in Utah lecturing, some one spoke to him about giving a pass to Brigham Young. He immediately wrote a pass, admitting, 'Brigham Young and One Wife'" (242).
Derby notes that the earliest writings of Browne/Ward appear in the weekly paper, the Carpet Bag, started in 1850 by B.P. Shillaber (411).
Derby writes about Shillaber's early recollections of Browne: "Mr. Shillaber says that Charles F. Browne came to the Carpet Bag office from Maine, a shrewd, verdant, good-natured printer, not out of his time. He gave no early evidence of hidden genius, and rarely let himself out beyond joking with his printer associates, and an occiasional short article, modestly submitted, over the signature of 'Lieut. Chub.' These attracted attention, especially one, a reprint, where the Battle of Yorktown was described as the programme of a country muster, and General Washington, under the influence of liquor, got kicked. It was intensely funny. Browne showed that under a rough covering there was a big promise. He soon left for New York, where Mr. Shillaber next met him, a year or two afterwards, transformed into a city buck, associating with Henry Clapp, editing Vanity Fair, and dined at Pfaff's with Ada Clare and the Bohemians. He soon after went off on his lecturing tour, taking the world captive under the nom de plume of 'Artemus Ward' (412).
Derby writes that "Henry J. Raymond once related a curious anecdote about the Proclamation of Emancipation. He said that Secretary Chase told him that the President came into the meeting of the Cabinet after the battle of Antietam, and said he had come across something very amusing in one of Artemus Ward's letters, and he read it through for the edification of the Secretaries. He then said he had brought another document to read to them -- not for their advice and criticism, for his mind was fully made up on the subject, but for their information." According to Raymond, the document was the Proclamiation of Emancipation (492).[pages:232,239,242,411,412,492]
Figaro talks about his own failures to write in Octochirophonic style and his suspicion that Ward would also be unable to write in that style (2).[pages:2]
Figaro mentions that Ward was in court to "witness the fun" that occurred during the Daly vs. Bateman case (4).[pages:4]
Figaro claims that he's been so busy watching the Keans at the Broadway that he's been unable to get over to Irving Hall for Ward's lectures; "to laugh and cry over Artemus Ward's 'Adoo!'" (73).[pages:73]
Figaro reports that due to his recent successes, Ward will not be making his trip to England soon (153).[pages:153]
Figaro refers to him as the "Wild Humorist of the Plains" and claims that he had to leave the stage due to his "cholera-morbus." Figaro claims that Ward has been cured by Dr. Sanger and is currently being waited for by President Johnson and his cabinet in Washington because it is too late for him to appear again in New York this season (89).[pages:89]
Figaro writes that his "semi-religious friend" "sits under Artemus Ward Beecher" (40).[pages:40]
Figaro claims that he was asked the other day if Mr. Editor was Artemus Ward. Discusses Ward's upcoming lectures, his style of lecturing, and his persona (56-57).[pages:56-57]
Figaro reports that Ward will perform at the Brooklyn Athenaeum on Monday and Tuesday (137).[pages:137]
Figaro reports that Ward will "positively" be giving "a series of Farewell Entertainments at Irving Hall" at the end of August (25). Figaro also reports in a P.S. that Ward's "Farewell Entertainments" will not be of the "Much Adieu About Nothing" school, but will be the real deal, as "He is about to take leave of this world. Where he is going, I don't know. Probably to the old world. To another, at any rate, and, it is to be hoped, a better" (25).[pages:25]
Figaro claims that he could write about Arrah-na-Pogue at Niblo's, but that Ward has already done it. He also claims that "when you catch me following Artemus Ward you may take note of it" (8). Figaro also notes that unlike many others, he will not be following Ward to England (9). Figaro reports that Ward is expected to repeat "his Mormon entertainment" at Irving Hall in September (9). A humorous note following the Feuilleton claims that Ward has "caused considerable embarassment to the Tax Commissioners by returning his income in 'wax figgers'" (9).[pages:8-9]
Ward is mentioned as one of the "men of distinct talent" who patronized Pfaff's beer cellar (1).[pages:1]
Identified as one of "The group of men at that table [who] constituted the Bohemia of a quarter of a century ago, the most notable gathering of its kind that one city has ever known."
Ward is mentioned as one of "the best know writers who frequented that cozy corner [Pfaff's]," as well as a regular contributor to the Saturday Press.[pages:9]
Ward is mentioned as one of the Bohemians at Pfaff's "gossiped" about by Rufus B. Wilson in a "reminiscent letter to the Galveston News."[pages:479]
In a letter to Aldrich, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) recollects Aldrich being toasted by Ward at Barnum's Restaurant in Virginia, Nevada at 3:20 A.M. Ward's toast: "Let every man 'at loves his fellow man and 'preciates a poet 'at loves his fellow-man, stan' up!...stan' up and drink health and long life to Thomas Bailey Aldrich!...and drink it stanning (98). Aldrich parenthetically remarks, "On all hands fervent, enthusiastic, and sincerly honest attempts to comply." Ward continued, "Well -- consider it stanning, and drink it just as ye are! (98-99). Greenslet reprints Aldrich's reply, in which he apologizes for having "wronged" Clemens in a manner that prompted him to re-tell the story of Ward's toast (99).[pages:98-99]
A newspaper engraving of Artemus ward (151).
Gunn describes attending Ward's lecture: "A cold hall and a pretty full house, mostly dead-heads. Saw Haney enter and in conversation with F[rank]. Wood, who is 'hagent' for Artemus. Was joined by Jack Edwards. The lecture proved awful rot, stale Joe Millerisms and resuscitated rubbish from Vanity Fair. I heard the great raw laugh of the 'hagent' amid those of others, though the bosh didn't encounter a warm reception. New York audiences are the best-natured in the world I believe; the stuff would have provoked a storm of hisses in London" (152).[pages:151 (ill.), 152]
Hahn says he was an occasional visitor.[pages:21]
The author identifies the following pseudonym: Artemus Ward (14).[pages:14]
He is identified as a friend of Arnold's who sometimes visited Pfaff's. Hemstreet gives his real name as George Farrar Browne, but mentions that "few will remember him by this name, while many will recall that which he made famous, Artemus Ward. He had passed his apprenticeship as a printer and reporter, had made the country ring with the name of the lively but illiterate showman, and was in New York trying to carry Vanity Fair to success--a task which he could not accomplish" (217-18).[pages:217-218]
Howells mentions that he sailed for Liverpool without the money for some poems that Vanity Fair bought for him, but that he was unsurprised about not being paid, as "the editor, who was then Artemus Ward, had frankly told me in taking my address that ducats were few at that moment with Vanity Fair" (68).[pages:68,71(ill.)]
The obituary identifies him as one of the "Knights of the Round Table" of the "lions of Bohemia."[pages:2]
Charles Farrar Browne created the persona "Artemus Ward" while editing the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Soon after he moved to New York and worked for the Saturday Press and Vanity Fair. "'He was a pure Bohemian, thoroughly good-natured, incapable of malice towards any one, with a capacity for gentleness and tenderness.'" He also attained fame on the lecture circuit (54).
The bohemians often chose to do battle over "questions of culture rather than electoral politics." Artemus Ward in particular offered a crisp focus on the absurdity of race (92).
By his death in 1867, Ward had gained a net worth of almost $100,000, which was enough to support his aged mother and open an asylum for old and disabled printers (116).[pages:as Charles Farrar Browne, 21, 54, 92, 110, 111, 115, 116, 113-14]
Leland refutes the charge that he introduced Ward to the "Bohemian brotherhood" (235).
He acknowledges that he initially helped Ward develop story ideas and also edited a few of his articles (235-36).[pages:235-36]
Ward is cited as a member of Clapp's "cabinet" in the "Kingdom of Bohemia" and at the Saturday Press. He is described as having "taken the road to dusty death."[pages:192]
He is described as one of the "others who rallied" at Pfaff's. His real name is given as Charles F. Brown.[pages:396]
Ward would drink at Pfaff's whenever he was in New York City (17). Miller includes in the description of Ward the phrase "literary life of the city" (17).
Ward was one of many young writers assisted by Henry Clapp (25). Ward died in 1866 (128).[pages:16, 17, 25, 128]
The column reports that Ward will sail for Liverpool on June 2 and that E.H. House will be on the same ship (4).[pages:4]
Odell states that on August 28, 1865, Ward "inaugurated a series of 'farewell' talks, 'Artemus Ward among the Mormons,'still with panoramic effects -- this time of the Moonlight Waters of Salt Lake, the Illuminated Mormon Temple, etc. These were his 'last nights' prior to a journey in Europe. He lectured at Irving Hall for two weeks; then, on the 9th [of September], 'adoo! adoo!'" (91).
After this engagement, but before Europe, Ward appeared at the Athenaeum and gave the same "Mormon-Utah pictures and comicalities" (111-12). Ward also appeared on Oct. 5 at Tenor's Washington Hall in one of his "Farewell Nights in America" and gave his lecture on the Mormons with "eighteen panoramic pictures of the 'Streets of Salt Lake City and the Valley of Utah'" (116). Odell expresses a wish to have attended the event.[pages:91,111-112,116]
Ward lectured Dec.23,1861, on The Children in the Wood at Clinton Hall (445). "Great Snaix! Artemus Ward, the great Exhibitor of Wax Wurx and other natur'l Curiousities," showed on Dec. 18 at Lee Avenue Sabbath School Hall, "those wonderful Children known as the Babes in the Wood." Ward brought the Union Minstrels to Washington Hall for afternoon and evening performances Christmas afternoon and evening, 1861 (460).
Odell claims that Ward was probably funny Feb. 16, 1863 at the Anthenaeum in a lecture called Sixty Minutes in Africa. Ward delivered the oration An Hour With a Ghost Sept. 30,1863, at Irving Hall.
Ward is called "one of the most original American humorists" (689).
He began an engagement at Dodworth's that lasted several nights during the 1864-1865 season. Ward gave his lecture Artemus Ward among the Mormons, a "pictoral tour from Pier 3, North River, to Salt Lake City - illustrations painted by Hillard and Maeder." The 50th night of this show was Nov.28. Odell quotes the Dec. 5 Herald that states Ward "calls your attention to a mile of pictures, five square yards of jokes, sixteen cubic feet of fine moral sentiment, four rods of sad and beautiful pathos, a dooryard full of burning eloquence, a small black travelling bag full of phosphorescent quips, petroleum oil paintings by the high old masters." Ward's lectures were called "rich entertainment." He left Dodworths at the end of Dec. 1864 (689).
Ward followed this performance with another engagement at the Brooklyn Academy with performances of Life Among the Mormons, January 28, 1864 (704).[pages:445,460,537,604,689,704]
Ward is described as a Pfaffian who "tried to make the democrats of literature believe that he was born to be an undertaker," and he is included here among the "happy, careless children of Bohemia" who attended the "carnivals in Pfaff's cellar" (5).(5)[pages:5]
According to Parry, the first time Ward entered Pfaff's, his "cicerone reassured him: 'Don't be afraid, they won't hurt you. These are Bohemians. A Bohemian is an educated hoss-theif!'" Parry contends that this is precisely the reason why Ward did fear them, as "more than one of them tried to mount a Pegasus that did not belong to him" and there were frequent claims of plagiarism made about the members of the group (55). Charles Godfrey Leland was later rumored to have been a frequenter of Pfaff's and to have introduced Ward to the beer cellar and the Bohemians; however, he had a "restraining wife" during this time and he refuted these claims when they were made in an article in an 1871 Revue de Deux Mondes of Paris (152).
As an example of Clapp's "bon mots" Parry gives the following anecdote: "In the Summer of 1863, lingering with Artemus Ward at Pfaff's bar, Clapp saw a telegram from California just handed to the embryo lecturer: 'What will you take for forty nights in California?' Clapp puckered his bushy eyebrows and advised: 'Brandy and soda, answer them.' Artemus did as advised, and the answer was the sensation of the country, crowding out even anti-Rebel jokes from the tops of the newspaper columns" (45).[pages:45,55,152]
Ward was a comedian known for vernacular humor (377).[pages:377]
Ward was a regular in the bohemian circle at Pfaff's.[pages:142]
As an example of his claim that "The wit and frolic, at least, were beyond cavil," Starr cites the following exchange: "Charles F. Browne ('Artemus Ward') read a telegram from a California lecture bureau: 'What will you take for forty nights?' Clapp sang out: 'Brandy and soda, tell them,' an answer that endeared Browne to the West Coast" (4).[pages:4]
Twain claims "I used to tell the story of the Jumping Frog in San Francisco, and presently Artemus Ward came along and wanted it to help fill out a little book which he was about to publish; so I wrote it out and sent it to his publisher, Carleton; but Carleton thought the book had enough matter in it, so he gave the story to Henry Clapp as a present, and Clapp put it in his Saturday Press, and it killed that paper with a suddenness that was beyond praise" (450).[pages:450]
Watson claims that he suggested Artemus Ward as the new editor for Vanity Fair and that he solicited Ward on behalf of the publishers to leave Cleveland for New York and assume the editorial position. Watson recounts that the paper ceased publication a few months later and "regretting the result," he urged Ward to take up lecturing rather than return to Cleveland, suggesting "ghosts" as his first topic (521).
Watson further relates that "Artemus had promised to write such a lecture and to meet a knot of literary and artist friends the next evening at Pfaff's, on Broadway, near Bleecker Street, a noted restaurant and resort of Bohemians, and read what he had written. He came with about half his effort, and for three-quarters of an hour the party was, literally, in a roar. He called it 'A Lecture About Ghosts,' and no small part of the fun was that there was not a word about ghosts in it" (521-522).[pages:521-522]
In 1862, Browne travelled to California and Utah to gather material for what would later become his humorist depiction of Mormon life. These sketches soon gained tremedous popularity.[pages:412-413]
Winter recalls Ward's first visit to Pfaff's during a crowded evening around the table in Pfaff's Cave: "One such occasion I recall when the humorist Artemus Ward (Charles F. Browne) made his first appearance there, accompanied by an acquaintance whose name he mentioned, and whom, with reassuring words, he gleefully commanded to take a seat. 'Don't be afraid,' he said: 'they won't hurt you. These are Bohemians. A Bohemian is an educated hoss-theif!'" (89).
Winter decribes Artemus Ward, Charles Farrar Browne" as "a good man, but he was not a sectarian in religious belief" (285).
Winter recalls meeting him for the first time in the autumn of 1860, when Browne came from the West to New York to write for and eventually edit "Vanity Fair" (285).
Winter writes the following description of Ward: "He was comically eccentric, equally as a character and as a writer. His person was tall and thin; his face aquiline; his carriage bouyant; his demeanor joyous and eager. His features were irregular; his eyes of a light blue color and, in expression, merry and gentle. His movements were rapid and inelegant. His voice was fresh and clear, and, though not sympathetic, distinctly communicative of a genial spirit. His attire was rich and gay,--the attire of a man of fashion. He possessed, in an extraordinary degree, the faculty of maintaining a solemn composure of countenance while making comic of ridiculous statements,--as when, in his first lecture in New York, he mentioned the phenominal skill of his absent pianist, who, he said, 'always wore mittens when playing the paino,'--and he could impart an irresistable effect of humor by means of a felicitous, unexpected inflection of tone. There is little in his published writings that fully explains the charm he exercised in conversation and in public speaking. The prominent characteristics of those writings are broadly farcial humor, sportive levity, and comic inconsequence,--as when, in describing his visit to the Tower of London, he mentioned that he saw the 'Traitor's Gate,' and thought that as many as twenty traitors might go through it abreast. The charm of Artemus Ward was that of a kindly, droll personality, compact of spontaneous mirth and winning sweetness. It is an attribute that words can but faintly suggest" (285-286).
Winter claims that "in the days of our intimacy I sometimes urged upon the attention of Artemus the importance of a serious purpose in humorous writings, especially commending to him an example of Thackeray. Those monitions of mine were always gravely accepted, but with a demure glance and a twinkle of the blue eyes that seemed to betoken more amusement than heed" (286-287).
Winter relates a story about a night when he and Ward retired to Jones House, where Ward was staying, at about three in the morning. Ward asked a servant to provide them with refreshments and then asked for the landlord to be woken. Ward promised the servant that he would take full responsibility for the landlord's displeasure, and asked the servant to speak "distinctly" and wake the landlord with the statement, "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Winter cites this incidence as "only a hint of the skill which with the humorist maintained his gravity and the abounding glee with which he exulted over the accomplishment of his playfully mischevious design. That was one way of signifying to me his assent to the proposition that humor can be made to convey a serious truth" (287-288).
Winter states that he did not see Artemus after he went to England, but that Artemus enjoyed success over there through both his "comic entertainments" in public performances and through his contributions to "Punch." Winter cites Ward's friends Mr. and Mrs. Charles Millward and Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Burgess as the source of information and anecdotes relating to Artemus' life in London (288-290).
Artemus Ward died March 6, 1867, at the South Western Railway Hotel at Southampton at the age of 32. He refused medicine and had to be persuaded by friends to medicate during his illness. Ward suggested his friend take the medicine for him. Ward was first buried in Kensal Green Cemetary in London and then was reburied in the United States at his birthplace in Waterford, Maine. Winter feels that the tribute to Artemus Ward written by James Rhoades of Haslemere, Surrey, and published in a London paper (but often wrongly attribued to Charles Algernon Swinburne) was the most moving and Winter reprints the poem on p.291. It is the memory of Ward and his presence among the Bohemian group during Winter's Bohemian days in New York that prompts Winter to return to the topic of the group (290-291).[pages:89,285,286(ill.), 285-291]
Ward was associated with The Saturday Press . He was also known as Charles F. Browne.[pages:168]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015