P. T. Barnum wanted to be liked. He wanted to be seen as an affable, congenial presenter of the world's greatest curiosities. The fact is that Barnum was cynical, somewhat ruthless, not above anything, He was as hard-nosed a businessman as they come, and would not scruple to exploit anything or anyone if he thought that it could make money for him. He provided well for some of his exhibits, notably General Tom Thumb, the Smallest Man in The World (seen above with his Arranged Bride Lavinia); others were not so lucky.
This is the man who expounded at length on the great wonders and the great mysteries of the world, yes... but this is also the man who said "There is a Sucker born every minute." Barnum may not have had outright contempt for his exhibits: but he certainly had it for the people who came to see them and thus caused his bank account and pocket book to practically burst at the seams.