Literary Thoughts edition presents Autobiography of Matthew Scott, Jumbo's Keeper by Matthew Scott ------ "Autobiography of Matthew Scott, Jumbo's Keeper" is the autobiography of Matthew Scott (1834-1914) and his biography of P.T. Barnum's great 19th-century male African Bush Elephant named Jumbo. All books of the Literary Thoughts edition have been transscribed from original prints and edited for better reading experience. Please visit our homepage www.literarythoughts.com to see our other publications.
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Liczba stron: 63
Transscribed and Published by Jacson Keating (editor)
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I take great pleasure in dedicating this book, containing my autobiography and the biography of Jumbo, to the people of the United States of America and Great Britain.
I have travelled through the United States, North, East, South, and West, and have received in my travels the greatest kindness. If “Jumbo” could but speak, I know he would endorse what I say here. I have had the same experience in Great Britain, and the spirit of gratitude impels me to acknowledge my appreciation of the good will of the people of both countries, by dedicating my humble efforts to them, hoping that this attempt may be received with the same kindness that has been always extended to me in person.
January 14, 1885.
I purpose giving to the world, for the benefit of my fellow-men, my humble and truthful history. I have many times thought I would do so, not for my own glory, but for the enlightenment of such people as are anxious to obtain knowledge. It is only to-day, January 14, 1885, that I have concluded to set about writing it, and I purpose to give a faithful record of my life, setting forth the various experiences through which I have passed.
I was born at Knowsley, Lancashire, England, in 1834. It was the seat of Lord Derby, the grandfather of the present earl; and from a child I learned to love that family.
The Earls of Derby were, and are, among the greatest statesmen of England.
My start in life was very humble, and I have even now, in my fifty-first year, very little to boast of with regard to this world’s goods. I have lived with Jumbo day and night for twenty years of my life. I am what is called a “self-made man,” and can boast that the knowledge and experience I possess, I have learned while living with wild beasts, latterly in the company of my friend and companion “Jumbo,” the greatest known animal on earth. I suppose my companion and I have seen more human faces than most people, and I have spoken to as many people as almost any other man. My life has been, perhaps, as peculiar and checkered as that of any man of my time of life; yet I claim nothing but to show to the people of the United States and Great Britain, to whom this book is dedicated, what an humble son of toil has passed through in the precarious, though to me, pleasant, occupation of keeper, breeder, and lover of the beasts and birds of the forests and fields of all countries and climes.
I have already remarked in the previous chapter that I was born at Knowsley, near Liverpool, England, on the estate of Lord Derby. My father was born at the same place, and was “brewer” to the earl.
My dear, good, and much-loved mother was born on the same estate.
Our family consisted of sixteen sons and one daughter—a goodly number—and I am the fifteenth son (though “better late than never”).
I lost my dear father when I was four years old—he lived to the age of three score years and ten.
My mother lived to survive him several years.
When I was sent to London in 1851, I left the dear old soul hearty and in good spirits, proud of her boy’s going up to the biggest city in the world. I verily believe the good woman thought her fifteenth son was going to turn out something unusual. Although she used to say that I was “a rough, naughty lad, full of devilment,” she also said, in her quaint way, “if you take that lad and strip him naked, and put him on top of a mountain anywhere on the globe, he can get his own living; for, if there’s nobody round the neighborhood of the mountain, he will have the birds and animals feed him, like old Elijah and the raven in the wilderness, or, like John the Baptist, he will live on locusts and honey, and clothe himself with the skins of animals.”
Oh! my dear young readers, such a mother is worth more to you than all the world. You just listen to your mother, and mark every word she says when she advises and directs you, and you cannot fail to get along in life.
I returned from London to Knowsley to visit the dear soul once before she died.
However, to continue my story, I grew up at Knowsley, and at ten years of age was engaged to feed the feathered tribes at the private menagerie of the earl, who was a great lover of birds and beasts, and who spent much time and money in their importation and breeding in Great Britain. I had a great love (I suppose it was inherent) for birds, and I also was proud to earn a few shillings a week for my dear old mother. So I turned in under the guidance of my brother, who had charge of the aviary, and was put to work at cleaning, feeding, breeding, and generally attending to the parrots—that talkative tropical bird, whose tongue imitates so well the speech of man and woman.
It was, perhaps, the happiest week’s work I ever put in, and I assure my readers it was a delightful occupation.
“Feed and tend birds,” say you, “a delightful occupation? Oh! I like birds well enough; but then I want the servants, my sister, or mother, to feed and clean after them. I like to see them, and listen to their singing; but I don’t care about the bother of attending to their wants.” Oh, my dear readers, there’s where you miss it. You cannot have the affection of any of the feathered tribe, nor really love the little pets, unless you sacrifice something for them. You must learn how to clean for them, what their various wants are, and you must also study their character to learn their little ways, before you can appreciate them, or they will appreciate you.
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