CIRCUS AND THEATRE START ON TOUR
AMAN with a dog drifts into the tap-room of a tavern. He plays a fiddle or a flute, and to its tune the dog does its tricks. Then the hat is passed around among the denizens of the bar. The Boniface stakes the solitary showman to a drink and a snack. Finally he goes out, to show his dog on the village common or wherever he can attract a crowd.
From this simple, primitive and pitiable figure comes the circus of to-day, with its adjectival press agents, its menagerie of strange and rare animals, its gaudily uniformed bands, clowns, parades, acrobats, special trains, and luxurious winter quarters.
As we have seen in the previous chapter, the solitary showman with one or two trained or uncommon animals, was followed by the man with a caravan of numerous animals, for there was money to be made showing them to people in isolated towns where the current of amusement ran slowly. At the same time there were men who gave exhibitions of horsemanship and acrobatic skill and prowess. These two were quite separate kinds of attractions at first. Not until a relatively late date--1851--were both shown together for one price of admission. But that is getting ahead of the story.
The cities that claim Homer's birth are few compared with the years that claim to have seen the first elephant brought to this country. Controversy has long raged around this initial pachyderm.
It appears that the first elephant was landed at New York in April 1796, a fact recorded by the New York Journal of that date and further corroborated by John Davis, an English traveller here between 1798 and 1802, who, at Asheepo,