Wanted, A Young
Man from the
All of our mercantile cities are overrun with young men who have
been bred for the counter or desk, and thousands of these genteel young
gents find it any thing but an easy matter to find bread or situations
half their time, in these crowded marts of men and merchandise. An
advertisement in a New York or New Orleans paper, for a clerk or
salesman, rarely fails to turn up a hundred needy and greedy
applicants, in the course of a morning! In New York, where a vast
number of these misguided young men are manufactured, and continue to
be manufactured by the regiment, for an already surfeited market, there
are wretches who practise upon these innocent victims of perverted
usefulness, a species of fraud but slightly understood.
By a confederacy with some experienced dry goods dealer, the
proprietor of one of those agencies for procuring situations for young
men, victims of misplaced confidence are put through at five to
ten dollars each, somewhat after this fashion: Sharp, the keeper of the
Agency, advertises for two good clerks, one book-keeper, five salesmen,
ten waiters, &c., &c.; and, of course, as every steamboat, car and
stage, running into New York, brings in a fresh importation of young
men from the country, all fitted out in the knowledge box for salesmen,
book-keepers and clerk-ships,every morning, a new set are offered to
be taken in and done for. Sharp demands a fee of five or ten dollars
for obtaining a situation; victim forks over the amount, and is sent to
Sharp number two, who keeps the dry goods shop; he has got through with
a victim of yesterday, and is now ready for the fresh victim of to-day;
for he makes it a point to put them through such a gamut of labor,
vexatious man[oe]uvres and insolence, that not one out of fifty come
back next day, and if they dohe don't want them! If the
unsuspecting victim returns to the Agency, he is lectured roundly for
his incapacity or want of energy!and advised to return to the
country and recuperate.
Jeremiah Bumps having graduated with all the honors of Sniffensville
Academy, and having many unmistakable longings for becoming a Merchant
Prince, and seeing sights in a city; and having read an account of the
great fortunes piled up in course of a few years, by poor, friendless
country boys, like Abbot Lawrence, John Jacob Astor, he up and came
right straight to Boston, having read it in the papers that clerks,
salesmen, book-keepers, and so on, were wanted, dreadfullyyoung men
from the country preferredso he called on the suffering agent
for the public, and paying down his fee, was sent off to an
Importing House, on street, where a clerk and salesman were
wanted. Jeremiah found his idea of an Importing House knocked
into a disarranged chapeau, by finding the one in the present case, a
large and luminous store, filled up with paper boxes and sham
bundles; while gaudily festooned, were any quantity of calicoes, cheap
shawls, ribbons, tapes, and innumerable other tuppenny affairs.
Nebuchadnezzar Cheatum, the proprietor of this importing and jobbing
house, was a keen, little, slick-as-a-whistle, heavy-bearded, shaved
and starched genus, of six-and-thirty, more or less; and received
Jeremiah with a rather patronizing survey personelle, and opened
the engagement with a few remarks.
From the country, are you?
Sniffensville, sir, said Jeremiah; County of Scrub-oak, State of
Ah, well, I prefer country-bred young men; they are better
trained, said Cheatum, to industry, perseverance, honest frugality,
and the duties of a Christian man. I was brought up in the country
myself. I've made myself; carved out, and built up my own position,
sir. Yes, sir, give me good, sound, country-bred young men; I've tried
them, I know what they are, said Cheatum; and he spoke near enough the
truth to be partly true, for he had tried them; he averaged
some fifty-two clerks and an equal number of salesmenyearly.
Jeremiah Bumps grew red in the face at the complimentary manner in
which Nebuchadnezzar Cheatum was pleased to review the country and its
What salary did you think of allowing? says Jeremiah.
Well, said Cheatum, I allow my salesmen three dollars a week the
first year, (Jeremiah's ears cocked up,) and three per cent. on the
sales they make the second year.
By cyphering it up in his head, Jeremiah came to the conclusion
that the first year wouldn't add much to his pecuniary
elevation, whatever the second did with its three per cents. But he was
bound to try it on, anyhow.
Now, said Cheatum, in the first place, Solomon
Jeremiah, if you please, sir, said the young man.
Ah, yes, Thomaspshaw!Jediah, I would say, continued
Cheatum, correcting himself
JeremiahJeremiah Bumps, sir, sharply echoed Mr. Bumps.
Oh, yes, yes; one has so many clerks and salesmen in course of
business, said Cheatum, that I get their names confused. Well,
Jeremiah, in the first place, you must learn to please the customers;
you must always be lively and spry, and never give an offensive answer.
Many women and girls come in to price and overhaul things, without the
remotest idea of buying anything, and it's often trying to one's
patience; but you must wait on them, for there is no possible means of
telling a woman who shops for pastime, from one who shops in
earnest; so you must be careful, be polite, be lively and spry, and
never let a person go without making a purchase, if you can
possibly help it. If a person asks for an article we have not got,
endeavor to make them try something else. If a woman asks whether
four-penny calico, or six-penny delaines will wash, say 'yes, ma'am,
beautifully; I've tried them, or seen them tried;' and if they say,
'are these ten cent flannels real Shaker flannels? or the
ninepence hose all merino?' better not contradict them; say
'yes, ma'am, I've tried them, seen them tried, know they are,' or
similar appropriate answers to the various questions that may be
asked, said Cheatum.
Yes, sir, Jeremiah responded, I understand.
Jeremiah, sir, if you please.
Oh, yes; well, JediahJeremiah, I would saywhen you make change,
never take a ten cent piece and two cents for a shilling, but give it
as often as practicable; look out for the fractions in adding up, and
beware of crossed six-pences, smooth shillings, and what are called
Bungtown coppers, said Cheatum, with much emphasis.
I'm pooty well posted up, sir, in all that, said Jeremiah.
And, Jeemspshaw!JacobJeremiah! I would say, in measuring,
always put your thumb so, and when you move the yardstick
forward, shove your thumb an inch or so back; in measuring
close you may manage to squeeze out five yards from four and
three-quarters, you understand? And always be watchful that some of
those nimble, light-fingered folks don't slip a roll of ribbon, or a
pair of gloves or hose, or a piece of goods, up their sleeves, in their
bosoms, pockets, or under their shawls. Be careful, HenryJeems, I
should say, said Cheatum.
Being duly rehearsed, Jeremiah Bumps went to work. The first
customer he had was a little girl, who bought a yard of ribbon for
ninepence, and Jeremiah not only stretched seven-eighths of a yard into
a full yard, but made twelve cents go for a ninepence, which feat
brought down the vials of wrath of the child's mother, a burly old
Scotch woman, who tongue-lashed poor Jeremiah awfully! His next
adventure was the sale of a dress pattern of sixpenny de-laine, which
he warranted to contain all the perfections known to the best
article, and in dashing his vigorous scissors through the fabric, he
caught them in the folds of a dozen silk handkerchiefs on the counter,
and ripped them all into slitters! The young woman who took the dress
pattern, upon reaching home, found it contained but eight yards, when
she paid for nine. She came back, and Jeremiah Bumps got another
bombasting! He sold fourpenny calico, and warranted it to wash; next
day it came back, and an old lady with it; the colors and starch were
all out, by dipping it in water, and the woman went on so that Cheatum
was glad to refund her money to get rid of her. Two dashing young
ladies, out shopping for their own diversions, gave Jeremiah a call;
he labored hand and tongue, he hauled down and exhibited Cheatum's
entire stock; the girls then were leaving, saying they would call
again, and Jeremiah very amiably said, do, ladies, do; call again,
like to secure your custom! The young ladies took this as an
insult. Their big brothers waited on Mr. Bumps, and nothing short of
his humble apologies saved him from enraged cowhides! Jeremiah saw a
suspicious woman enter the store, and after overhauling a box of
gloves, he thought he saw her pocket a pair. He intercepted the
lady as she was going outhe grabbed her by the pocketthe lady
resistedJeremiah held onthe lady fainted, and Jeremiah Bumps nearly
tore her dress off in pulling out the gloves! The lady proved to be the
wife of a distinguished citizen, and the gloves purchased at another
store! A lawsuit followed, and Mr. Bumps was fined $100, and sent to
the House of Correction for sixty days.
How many new clerks Nebuchadnezzar Cheatum has put through since, we
know not; but Jeremiah Bumps is now engaged in the practical science of
agriculture, and shudders at the idea of a young man from the country
being wanted in a dry goods shop, if they have got to see the
elephant that he observedin Boston.