The P.T. Barnum of the
Barnum and Bailey Circus
by Joel Benton
Arrival of Jenny Lind
FIRST MEETING WITH BARNUM--RECEPTION IN NEW YORK--POEMS IN
HER HONOR--A FURORE OF PUBLIC INTEREST--SALE OF TICKETS FOR THE FIRST CONCERT--BARNUM'S
CHANGE IN TERMS--TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR CHARITY--ENORMOUS SUCCESS OF THE FIRST CONCERT.
Jenny Lind sailed for America on Wednesday morning, August
21, 1850. She was accompanied by Messrs. Benedict and Belletti, Mr. Wilton, her two
cousins, and three or four servants. She also brought with her a piano for her use. Mr.
Barnum had engaged the necessary accommodations for the company on the steamship Atlantic,
and their departure from England was an event of great public interest. In America their
coming was looked upon much as the visit of a royal personage would have been. It was
expected that the steamer would reach New York on Sunday, September 1st. Mr. Barnum,
however, determined to be on hand to meet his distinguished guest at no matter what time
she reached the port. He, therefore, went on Saturday to Staten Island, and spent the
night at the house of his friend, Dr. Doane, the health officer of the port.
The steamship was sighted just before noon on Sunday, and
soon afterward Mr. Barnum, who went out with the health officer, was standing on the deck
where, for the first time, he met the famous singer. After they had shaken hands and
uttered a few commonplace words of greeting Miss Lind asked him when and where he had
heard her sing.
"I never had the pleasure of seeing you before in my
life," he replied.
"How is it possible that you dared risk so much money on
a person whom you never heard sing?" she asked in great surprise.
"I risked it," answered Barnum, "on your
reputation, which in musical matters I would much rather trust than my own judgment."
The fact was that, although Barnum did rely largely upon Miss
Lind's reputation as an artist, he also took into account her equally great reputation for
benevolence, generosity and general loveliness of disposition. He knew that these traits
of character would appeal with a special force to the warm-hearted and enthusiastic
American public. Indeed, he afterward confessed that had it not been for this peculiarity
of her disposition, he never would have ventured to make the engagement with her; and he
always believed that as many people came to see and hear her on this account as on account
of her skill as a singer.
Seldom has any visitor to New York received a more remarkable
greeting than did the "Swedish Nightingale." Mr. Barnum's efforts to arouse
public interest in her had not been in vain. The whole city was anxious to get the first
possible glimpse of her. But beside this bona fide interest in her, Mr. Barnum had seen to
it that her landing was made all possible use of as an advertisement. On the wharf at
which she landed a bower of green trees, decorated with flags, had been prepared. There
were also two handsome triumphal arches, on one of which was inscribed, "Welcome,
Jenny Lind!" and on the other, "Welcome to America!"
Probably the singer thought, and possibly some of the general
public also imagined, that these decorations had been erected by the city government, or
at least by some committee of public-spirited citizens. Mr. Barnum, however, never found
fault with any one for suspecting that he was chiefly responsible for them, and there is
every reason to believe that the cost of them was to be found entered in his books,
charged to the account of advertising.
Thousands of people were thronged along the water front, on
the piers and on the shipping, to greet the Atlantic as it reached its dock. So great was
the rush to see the illustrious guest that one man was crowded overboard, an incident
which Miss Lind herself witnessed, and at which she was much alarmed. He was rescued with
no other harm than a thorough wetting. Barnum's carriage was in waiting for Miss Lind, and
the great showman himself, after placing her within it, mounted the box at the driver's
side. He took that seat as a legitimate advertisement, and his presence there aided those
who filled the windows and sidewalks along the entire way to the Irving House, and there
were many thousands of them, in coming to the conclusion that Jenny Lind had really
Five minutes after Miss Lind had entered the hotel, Barnum
invited her to look out of a window opening on Broadway. When she did so she saw a throng
of not less than twenty thousand persons gathered to do her honor. And there that throng
remained all the rest of the afternoon and until late in the evening. At her request
Barnum took dinner with her that afternoon. According to the European custom she offered
to pledge his health in a glass of wine, and was doubtless much surprised at his response.
He said to her: "Miss Lind, I do not think you can ask any other favor on earth which
I would not gladly grant. But I am a teetotaler, and must beg to be permitted to drink to
your health and happiness in a glass of cold water."
Late that night Miss Lind was serenaded by the New York
Musical Fund Society, which numbered, on that occasion, two hundred musicians. They were
escorted to the hotel by about three hundred firemen, clad in their picturesque uniform
and bearing flaming torches. Fully thirty thousand spectators were at this hour gathered
about the hotel, and in response to their vociferous calls Miss Lind stepped upon the
balcony and bowed to them.
Such was the great singer's first day in America, and for
several weeks thereafter the public interest in her was scarcely less demonstrative. Her
rooms were thronged by visitors, among whom were the most notable people in society, in
the learned professions and in public life. The street before the hotel was almost blocked
day after day by the carriages of fashionable people, and Barnum's only anxiety was lest
the aristocratic part of the community should monopolize her altogether, and thus mar his
interest by cutting her off from the sympathy she had excited among the common people. The
shop-keepers of the city showered their attentions upon her, sending her cart-loads of
specimens of their most valuable wares, for which they asked no other return than her
acceptance and her autograph acknowledgment. Gloves, bonnets, shawls, gowns, chairs,
carriages, pianos, and almost every imaginable article of use or ornament was named for
her. Songs and musical compositions were dedicated to her, and poems were published in her
honor. Day after day and week after week her doings formed the most conspicuous news in
the daily journals.
Some weeks before Miss Lind's arrival in America Barnum had
offered a prize of two hundred dollars for the best ode, to be set to music and sung by
her at her first concert. Its topic was to be, "Greeting to America." In
response several hundred poems were sent in, mostly pretty poor stuff; though several of
them were very good. After a great deal of hard work in reading and considering them, the
Prize Committee selected as the best the one offered by Bayard Taylor. It was set to music
by Julius Benedict, and was as follows:
GREETING TO AMERICA
WORDS BY BAYARD TAYLOR--MUSIC BY JULIUS BENEDICT.
I greet with a full heart the Land of the West,
Whose Banner of Stars o'er a world is unrolled;
Whose empire o'ershadows Atlantic's wide breast,
And opens to sunset its gateway of gold!
The land of the mountain, the land of the lake,
And rivers that roll in magnificent tide--
Where the souls of the mighty from slumber awake,
And hallow the soil for whose freedom they died!
Thou Cradle of empire! though wide be the foam
That severs the land of my fathers and thee,
I hear, from thy bosom, the welcome of home,
For song has a home in the hearts of the Free!
And long as thy waters shall gleam in the sun,
And long as thy heroes remember their scars,
Be the hands of thy children united as one,
And Peace shed her light on thy Banner of Stars!
This award gave general satisfaction, although a few
disappointed competitors complained. This remarkable competition and the other features of
Miss Lind's reception in America, attracted so much attention in England that the London
Times in one day devoted several columns of space to the subject.
Of course the American press literally teemed with matter
about Miss Lind and Barnum. The poetical competition demanded much attention, and
presently a witty pamphlet was published, entitled "Barnum's Parnassus; being
Confidential Disclosures of the Prize Committee on the Jenny Lind Song." It pretended
to give all or most of the poems that had been offered in the competition, though of
course none of them were genuine. Many of them, however, contained fine satirical hits on
the whole business; such, for example, as the following:
When to the common rest that crowns his days,
Dusty and worn the tired pedestrian goes,
What light is that whose wide o'erlooking blaze
A sudden glory on his pathway throws?
'Tis not the setting sun, whose drooping lid
Closed on the weary world at half-past six;
'Tis not the rising moon, whose rays are hid
Behind the city's sombre piles of bricks.
It is the Drummond Light, that from the top
Of Barnum's massive pile, sky-mingling there,
Dart's its quick gleam o'er every shadowed shop,
And gilds Broadway with unaccustomed glare.
There o'er the sordid gloom, whose deep'ning tracks
Furrow the city's brow, the front of ages,
Thy loftier light descends on cabs and hacks,
And on two dozen different lines of stages!
O twilight Sun, with thy far darting ray,
Thou art a type of him whose tireless hands
Hung thee on high to guide the stranger's way,
Where, in its pride, his vast Museum stands.
Him, who in search of wonders new and strange,
Grasps the wide skirts of Nature's mystic robe
Explores the circles of eternal change,
And the dark chambers of the central globe.
He, from the reedy shores of fabled Nile,
Has brought, thick-ribbed and ancient as old iron,
That venerable beast, the crocodile,
And many a skin of many a famous lion.
Go lose thyself in those continuous halls,
Where strays the fond papa with son and daughter;
And all that charms or startles or appals,
Thou shalt behold, and for a single quarter.
Far from the Barcan deserts now withdrawn,
There, huge constrictors coil their scaly backs;
There, cased in glass, malignant and unshorn,
Old murderers glare in sullenness and wax.
There many a varied form the sight beguiles,
In rusty broadcloth decked and shocking hat,
And there the unwieldy Lambert sits and smiles,
In the majestic plenitude of fat.
Or for thy gayer hours, the orang-outang
Or ape salutes thee with his strange grimace,
And in their shapes, stuffed as on earth they sprang,
Thine individual being thou canst trace!
And joys the youth in life's green spring, who goes
With the sweet babe and the gray headed nurse,
To see those Cosmoramic orbs disclose
The varied beauties of the universe.
And last, not least, the marvellous Ethiope,
Changing his skin by preternatural skill,
Whom every setting sun's diurnal slope
Leaves whiter than the last, and whitening still.
All that of monstrous, scaly, strange and queer,
Has come from out the womb of earliest time,
Thou hast, O Barnum, in thy keeping here,
Nor is this all--for triumphs more sublime
Await thee yet! I, Jenny Lind, who reigned
Sublimely throned, the imperial queen of song,
Wooed by thy golden harmonies, have deigned
Captive to join the heterogeneous throng.
Sustained by an unfaltering trust in coin,
Dealt from thy hand, O thou illustrious man,
Gladly I heard the summons come to join
Myself the immeasurable caravan.
A number of complimentary greetings in verse were also sent
in to Miss Lind by various writers of more or less eminence, among them being the
following from Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney:
THE SWEDISH SONGSTRESS AND HER CHARITIES.
BY MRS. L. H. SIGOURNEY.
Blest must their vocation be
Who, with tones of melody,
Charm the discord and the strife
And the railroad rush of life,
And with Orphean magic move
Souls inert to life and love.
But there's one who doth inherit
Angel gift and angel spirit,
Bidding tides of gladness flow
Through the realms of want and woe;
'Mid lone age and misery's lot,
Kindling pleasures long forgot,
Seeking minds oppressed with night,
And on darkness shedding light,
She the seraph's speech doth know,
She hath done their deeds below;
So, when o'er this misty strand
She shall clasp their waiting hand,
They will fold her to their breast,
More a sister than a guest.
The first concert was announced for the evening of September
11th, and it was to take place in the great hall of Castle Garden, afterward famous as the
landing-place for emigrants at New York. The tickets for this occasion were sold at
auction, and the first one was bid up to the extraordinary figure of $225. This was bid
and the ticket was secured by John N. Genin, a hatter; and the public notice which was
thereby attracted to him was such a great advertisement for his business that within a few
years thereafter he amassed a fortune. It was afterward stated that Mr. Genin was Barnum's
brother-in-law, and that his high bid for this ticket was a pre-arranged job; but there
was no truth in this whatever. The auction itself was regarded as an occasion of such
public interest that the proprietors of the Garden, where it was held, charged a shilling
admission fee to it. No less than 3,000 persons paid this fee and attended the auction,
and the first day's sale aggregated 1,000 tickets, which brought a total sum of $10,141.
A few days after her arrival Barnum told Miss Lind that it
would be desirable to make a change in the terms of their contract, if she would consent.
She was startled at this, and asked him what the change was to be. "I am
convinced," replied Barnum, "that this enterprise will be far more successful
than either of us anticipated. So I wish to stipulate that you shall receive not only
$1,000 for each concert, beside all expenses, but also that, after taking out $5,500 per
night for expenses and for my services, the balance shall be equally divided between you
She looked at him in utter bewilderment, unable to understand
his proposition. He repeated it, and at last made her realize what it was that he proposed
to do. Then she grasped him by the hand and exclaimed: "Mr. Barnum, you are a
gentleman of honor; you are generous; it is just as I was told. I will sing for you as
long as you please. I will sing for you in America--in Europe--anywhere!"
The day before the first concert Mr. Barnum told Miss Lind
that, judging by appearances, her portion of the proceeds of the first concert, over and
above her fee of $1,000, would amount to at least $10,000. She immediately resolved to
devote every dollar of it to charity, and forthwith sent for the Mayor of the city, under
whose advice she acted in selecting the various institutions among which it was to be
The amount of money actually received for tickets for the
first concert was $17,864.05. So it appeared that Barnum's estimate had been a little too
high, and Miss Lind's portion was too small to realize the $10,000 which she was to give
to charity. Barnum therefore proposed to make a similar arrangement for the second
concert, and to count neither of these first two in the regular engagement. To this she
agreed. The second concert was given on September 13th, and the receipts, which amounted
to $14,203.03, were disposed of as before, and she was thus enabled to give the $10,000 to
charity. The third concert, which was the first of the regular series, was given on
Barnum's arrangements of the concert-room for the singer's
appearance were very complete. One hundred ushers, adorned with rosettes and carrying
wands tipped with ribbons, looked after the seating of the audience. In order to prevent
confusion the doors were opened at five o'clock, although the concert was not to commence
until eight. The result was that the five thousand persons who attended made their entry
without crowding and without confusion.
The reception of Jenny Lind, on her first appearance, in
point of enthusiasm, was probably never before equalled. As Mr. Benedict led her towards
the footlights, the entire audience rose to their feet and welcomed her with three cheers,
accompanied by the waving of thousands of hats and handkerchiefs. This was perhaps the
largest audience to which Jenny Lind had ever sung. She was evidently much agitated, but
the orchestra commenced, and before she had sung a dozen notes of "Casta Diva,"
she began to recover her self-possession, and long before the scena was concluded she was
as calm as if she was in her own drawing-room. Towards the last portion of the cavatina,
the audience were so completely carried away by their feelings, that the remainder of the
air was drowned in a perfect tempest of acclamation. Enthusiasm had been wrought to its
highest pitch, but the musical powers of Jenny Lind exceeded all the brilliant
anticipations which had been formed, and her triumph was complete. At the conclusion of
the concert Jenny Lind was loudly called for, and was obliged to appear three times before
the audience could be satisfied. Then they called vociferously for "Barnum," and
he "reluctantly" responded to their demand.
On this first night Julius Benedict firmly established with
the American people his European reputation as a most accomplished conductor and musical
composer; while Signor Belletti inspired an admiration which grew warmer and deeper in the
minds of the public, to the end of his career in this country.
"The Rubicon was passed," says Barnum. "The
successful issue of the Jenny Lind enterprise was established. I think there were a
hundred men in New York, the day after her first concert, who would have willingly paid me
$200,000 for my contract. I received repeated offers for an eighth, a tenth, or a
sixteenth, equivalent to that price. But mine had been the risk, and I was determined mine
should be the triumph."
The triumph of Jenny Lind is a legitimate part of Barnum's
history, and it will be of interest to the present generation to read what the musical
critics of that day thought of that wonderful singer. Here is the New York Tribune's
account of her opening concerts in America:
"Jenny Lind's first concert is over, and all doubts are
at an end. She is the greatest singer we have ever heard and her success is all that was
anticipated from her genius and her fame. As this is something of an era in our history of
art, we give a detailed account of all that took place on the occasion.
"All the preparatory arrangements for the concert were
made with great care, and from the admirable system observed, none of the usual
disagreeable features of such an event were experienced. Outside of the gate there was a
double row of policemen extending up the main avenue of the Battery grounds. Carriages
only were permitted to drive up to the gate from the Whitehall side, and pass off into
Battery-place. At one time the line of carriages extended to Whitehall and up State street
into Broadway. Everything was accomplished in a quiet and orderly manner. The chief of
police, with about sixty men, came on the ground at 5 o'clock, and maintained the most
complete order to the end.
"Mr. Barnum, according to promise, had put up a
substantial frame-work, and thrown an immense awning over the bridge, which is some 200
feet in length. This was brilliantly lighted, and had almost the appearance of a triumphal
avenue on entering the gate.
"There was an immense crowd on the Battery, clustering
around the gates during the whole evening, but no acts of disorder occurred. When Jenny
Lind's carriage came, but very few persons knew it, and no great excitement followed. The
principal annoyance was occasioned by a noisy crowd of boys in boats, who gathered around
the outer wall of the castle, and being by their position secure from the police, tried to
disturb those within by a hideous clamor of shouts and yells, accompanied by a discordant
din of drums and fifes. There must have been more than 200 boats and a thousand persons on
the water. They caused some annoyance to that portion of the audience in the back seats of
the balcony, but the nuisance was felt by none in the parquet. By 10 o'clock they had
either become tired or ashamed of the contemptible outrage they were attempting, and
dispersed. We may here remark that if the river police asked for by Chief Matsell had been
in existence this attempt could not have been made.
"On entering the castle, a company of ushers,
distinguished by their badges, were in readiness to direct the visitors to that part of
the hall where their seats were located. Colored lamps and hangings suspended to the
pillars indicated at a glance the different divisions, and the task of seating the whole
audience of near seven thousand persons was thus accomplished without the least
inconvenience. The hall was brilliantly lighted, though from its vast extent the stage
looked somewhat dim. The wooden partition which was built up in place of the drop-curtain,
is covered with a painting representing the combined standards of America and Sweden,
below which are arabesque ornaments in white and gold. Considering the short time allowed
for these improvements, the change was remarkable. The only instance of bad taste which we
noticed was a large motto, worked in flowers, suspended over the pillars of the balcony
directly in front of the stage. 'Welcome, Sweet Warbler' (so ran the words), was not only
tame and commonplace, but decidedly out of place.
"The sight of the grand hall, with its gay decoration,
its glittering lamps, and its vast throng of expectant auditors, was in itself almost
worth a $5 ticket. We were surprised to notice that not more than one-eighth of the
audience were ladies. They must stay at home, it seems, when the tickets are high, but the
gentlemen go, nevertheless. For its size, the audience was one of the most quiet, refined
and appreciative we ever saw assembled in this city. Not more than one-third were seated
before 7 o'clock, and when the eventful hour arrived they were still coming in. A few of
the seats were not taken when the orchestra had assembled, and Mr. Benedict, who was
greeted with loud cheers on his appearance, gave the first flourish of his baton.
"The musical performance commenced with Jules Benedict's
overture to his opera, The Crusaders, himself conducting the orchestra of 60 instruments.
It was an admirably balanced and effective orchestra, and notwithstanding that we had to
listen as it were round a corner, we felt the unity and full force of its strong chords,
and traced the precise and delicate outline of its melodies with a distinctness which
proved that a clear musical idea was there, too clearly embodied to be lost even in that
vast space. We liked the first half of the composition best; it had the dark shading and
wild vigor and pathos of Von Weber; the allegro which set in upon it was more in the light
popular manner of Auber and the French. Yet Mr. Benedict has proved his mastery in this
work, which the vast audience acknowledged with very hearty plaudits.
"Signor Belletti was the next mark of expectation. In
one of Rossini's most ornate and florid bravura songs (from Maometto Secondo) he produced
a barytone of such warm, rich, solid, resonant and feeling quality as we perhaps have
never heard in this country (though without closer observation from the less remote
position in which a barytone naturally requires to be heard, we hardly dare to place it
above Badiali's); while in refinement of conception and of execution he left little to be
"Now came a moment of breathless expectation. A moment
more, and Jenny Lind, clad in a white dress, which well became the frank sincerity of her
face, came forward through the orchestra. It is impossible to describe the spontaneous
burst of welcome which greeted her. The vast assembly rose as one man, and for some
minutes nothing could be seen but the waving of hands and handkerchiefs, nothing heard but
a storm of tumultuous cheers. The enthusiasm of the moment, for a time beyond all bounds,
was at last subdued after prolonging itself by its own fruitless efforts to subdue itself,
and the divine songstress, with that perfect bearing, that air of all dignity and
sweetness, blending a child-like simplicity and half-trembling womanly modesty with the
beautiful confidence of genius and serene wisdom of art, addressed herself to song, as the
orchestral symphony prepared the way for the voice in Casta Diva. A better test-piece
could not have been selected for her debut. Every soprano lady has sung it to us; but
nearly every one has seemed only trying to make something of it, while Jenny Lind WAS the
very music of it for the time being. We would say no less than that; for the wisest and
honestest part of criticism on such a first hearing of a thing so perfect, was to give
itself purely up to it, without question, and attempt no analysis of what too truly fills
one to have yet begun to be an object of thought.
"If it were possible, we would describe the quality of
that voice, so pure, so sweet, so fine, so whole and all-pervading, in its lowest
breathings and minutest fioriture as well as in its strongest volume. We never heard tones
which in their sweetness went so far. They brought the most distant and ill-seated auditor
close to her. They WERE tones, every one of them, and the whole air had to take the law of
their vibrations. The voice and the delivery had in them all the good qualities of all the
good singers. Song in her has that integral beauty which at once proclaims it as a type
for all, and is most naturally worshipped as such by the multitude.
"Of those who have been before her we were most
frequently reminded of Madame Bishop's quality (not quantity) of voice. Their voices are
of metal somewhat akin. Jenny Lind's had incomparably more power and more at all times in
reserve; but it had a shade of that same veiled quality in its lowest tones, consistently
with the same (but much more) ripeness and sweetness, and perfect freedom from the
crudeness often called clearness, as they rise. There is the same kind of versatile and
subtile talent, too, in Jenny Lind, as appeared later in the equal inspiration and
perfection of her various characters and styles of song. Her's is a genuine soprano,
reaching the extra high notes with that ease and certainty which make each highest one a
triumph of expression purely, and not a physical marvel. The gradual growth and sostenuto
of her tones; the light and shade, the rhythmic undulation and balance of her passages;
the bird-like ecstacy of her trill; the faultless precision and fluency of her chromatic
scales; above all, the sure reservation of such volume of voice as to crown each
protracted climax with glory, not needing a new effort to raise force for the final blow;
and indeed all the points one looks for in a mistress of the vocal art were eminently
her's in Casta Diva. But the charm lay not in any POINT, but rather in the inspired
vitality, the hearty, genuine outpouring of the whole--the real and yet truly ideal
humanity of all her singing. That is what has won the world to Jenny Lind; it is that her
whole soul and being goes out in her song, and that her voice becomes the impersonation of
that song's soul if it have any, that is, if it BE a song. There is plainly no vanity in
her, no mere aim to effect; it is all frank and real and harmoniously earnest.
"She next bewitched all by the delicate naivete and
sparkling espieglerie, interchanged with true love pathos, of her duet with Belletti, from
Rossini's I Turchi in Italia, the music being in the same voice with that of his 'Barber
of Seville.' The distinct rapidity, without hurry, of many passages, was remarkable in
both performers. But perhaps the most wonderful exhibition of her vocal skill and pliancy
and of her active intimacy with nature was in the Trio Concertante, with two flutes, from
Meyerbeer's 'Camp of Silesia.' Exquisitely her voice played in echo between the tasteful
flute-warblings of Messrs. Kyle and Siede.
"But do not talk of her flute-like voice; the flute-tone
is not one a real voice need cultivate; except where it silvers the edges of a dark mass
of orchestral harmony, the flute's unmitigated sweetness must and should contrast with the
more clarionet and reed-like quality of a voice as rich and human as that of Jenny Lind.
"Naturally the favorites of the evening were the two
national songs. Her Swedish 'Herdsman's Song' was singularly quaint, wild and innocent.
The odd musical interval (a sharp seventh) of the the echo, as if her singing had brought
the very mountains there, were extremely characteristic. This was loudly encored and
repeated; and when again encored was of course answered with her 'Greeting to America,'
the National Prize Song, written by Bayard Taylor, and set to a vigorous and familiar
style of music, well harmonizing with the words, by Benedict. The greeting had a soul in
it coming from those lips.
"We have but now to acknowledge the fine style of
Belletti's Largo al Factotum (though the gay barber's song always requires the stage) and
the admirable orchestra performance of Weber's Overture to Oberon.
"We are now sure of Jenny Lind, the singer and the
artist. Last night she was herself, and well accompanied, and gloriously responded to. But
we have yet to hear her in the kind of music which seems to us most to need and to deserve
such a singer--in the Agatha of Der Freyschutz, and in Mozart and the deep music of the
great modern German operas.
"At the close the audience (who made no movement to
leave till the last note had been uttered) broke out in a tempest of cheers, only less
vehement than those which welcomed her in Casta Diva. She came forward again, bowed with a
bright, grateful face, and retired. The cheers were now mingled with shouts of 'Barnum!'
who at last came forward, and with some difficulty obtained sufficient order to speak. 'My
friends,' said he, 'you have often heard it asked, 'Where's Barnum?" Amid the cheers
and laughter which followed, we only caught the words: 'Henceforth, you may say, 'Barnum's
"Mr. Barnum, after expressing his gratification at the
splendid welcome which had been given Mdlle. Lind, stated that he would disclose a piece
of news which he could no longer keep secret, and which would show how well that welcome
was deserved. Mdlle. Lind on Monday morning informed him that it was her intention to give
her share of the net proceeds of the present concert, amounting to considerable more than
$10,000, to the various charities in the city.
"The announcement was a signal for another storm. We did
not count the number of cheers given, but we never witnessed such a pitch of enthusiasm.
Mr. Barnum then proceeded to read the list of her donations, interrupted at every name by
a fresh burst of applause:
To the Fire Department Fund . . . . . . . . . $3,000
Musical Fund Society. . . . . . . . . . . .2,000
Home for the Friendless . . . . . . . . . . .500
Society for the Relief of Indigent Females. .500
Dramatic Fund Association . . . . . . . . . .500
Home for Colored and Aged Persons . . . . . .500
Colored and Orphan Association. . . . . . . .500
Lying-in Asylum for Destitute Females . . . .500
New York Orphan Asylum. . . . . . . . . . . .500
Protestant Half-Orphan Asylum . . . . . . . .500
Roman Catholic Half-Orphan Asylum . . . . . .500
Old Ladies' Asylum. . . . . . . . . . . . . .500
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . .$10,000
"In case the money coming to her shall exceed this sum,
she will hereafter designate the charity to which it is to be appropriated. Mr. Barnum was
then about retiring, when there was a universal call for Jenny Lind. The songstress,
however, had already taken her departure, and the excited crowd, after giving a few more
cheers, followed her example, and slowly surged out of the castle door, and down the
canopied bridge, in a glow of good-humor and admiration. A few disorderly vagrants
collected on the bridges leading to the Bath Houses, hooted at the throng as it passed
out, but everybody went home quietly, with a new joy at his heart, and a new thought in
"Jenny Lind's second concert was in every respect as
complete a triumph as the first. The audience numbered upward of SEVEN THOUSAND, filling
the vast amphitheatre to the topmost circles of the gallery. The sight of that dense sea
of heads, from either extremity of the balcony, reminded us of one of Martin's grand,
gloomy pictures, and the resemblance was further increased by the semi-oriental appearance
of the hall, with its long, light pillars dropping from the centre, as well as by the
dimness of its illumination, the lamps, many and bright as they were, being lost in the
immense area of the building.
"The concert was a repetition of the first, with the
only difference that the orchestra volunteered the "Wedding March," from
Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream," whose short, crackling blaze of harmony
received full justice from the sure and well-tempered brass instruments. Weber's overture
to "Oberon" was finely rendered, and the composition is as fine a specimen of
musical fairy-land as could be found before young Mendelssohn dreamed Shakspere's dream
over in his own way.
"In Jenny Lind we still feel that it is not easy to
separate the singer from the person. She sings herself. She does not, like many skilful
vocalists, merely recite her musical studies, and dazzle you with splendid feats
unnaturally acquired; her singing, through all her versatile range of parts and styles, is
her own proper and spontaneous activity--integral, and whole. Her magnificent voice,
always true and firm, and as far beyond any instrument as humanity is beyond nature, seems
like the audible beauty of her nature and her character. That she is an artist in the
highest sense is a question long since settled, and any little incidental variation from
the bold and perfect outline of success in any special effort, as the faltering of her
voice from natural embarrassment in the commencing of Casta Diva that first night, could
not to a true listener at all impede the recognition of the wonderful art which could
afford a little to humanity on so trying an occasion. For she was as it were beginning her
career anew; literally to her was this a new world; and she felt for a moment as if in her
first blushing maidenhood of song. This second time the hesitation of the voice in that
commencement was not felt. The note began soft and timid and scarce audible, as the prayer
of Norma might have done; but how it gradually swelled with the influx of divine strength
into the soul! The grand difficulty in the opening andante movement of Casta Diva lies in
its broad, sustained phrasing, in the long, generous undulation of its rhythm, which with
most singers drags or gets broken out of symmetry. Jenny Lind conceived and did it truly.
The impassioned energy of the loud-pleading syncopated cries in which the passage attains
its climax; the celestial purity and penetrating sweetness of that highest note afterward;
the exquisite cadenza to the andante; and the inspiring eloquence of the allegro: Ah!
bello a me ritorna, were far beyond anything WE have had the fortune hitherto to hear.
"They that sat, or even stood, in Castle Garden, may
mark down a white day in their calendar. In point of audience, programme, execution and
inspiration, it was the greatest concert, so far. If anything more had been needed to
confirm the impression which Jenny Lind had previously made on an American public, and to
place her continued success beyond the possibility of doubt, last night's experience
certainly supplied it.
"It was foreseen in the morning that the attendance
would be greater even than on Friday night. The American Museum and Hall's Music Store
were besieged through the whole day and up to the very hour of commencement. At the former
place the crowding for tickets was tremendous, the very sidewalk in front being blockaded
most of the time. At seven o'clock, when we took up the line of march for Castle Garden,
both sides of Broadway were thronged, and the main avenue of the Battery was filled with a
steady stream of persons pressing into the Castle gate. As on the first night, a double
line of policemen had been formed, which effectually prevented all disorder. A few more
lamps were introduced into the hall, rendering its aspect much more light and cheerful. By
eight o'clock the vast hall was crowded to overflowing. Scarcely a foot of space was
unoccupied; from the very edge of the ceiling to the orchestral platform in the centre,
around the immense span of the building, there was but one dense mass of heads. We should,
at a rough guess, estimate the number in the auditory at SEVEN THOUSAND. A much larger
proportion than on former nights were ladies, and for the first time we caught glimpses of
the fashionable society from above Bleecker. It is worthy of note, that the first and
second concerts, immense as they were, were composed almost entirely of the intelligent
and appreciative middle class.
"Some disturbance was created by a rush to obtain seats,
made by those who had promenade tickets for the balcony, the moment the orchestra began to
collect. This proceeding, in violation of the specified arrangements, was most
disgraceful. The ushers did all they could to prevent it, but in spite of all their
efforts many persons who arrived before the hour of commencement were deprived of their
seats. It would be a good plan to have a few policemen in the balcony on future occasions.
"The orchestra commenced with Rossini's Overture to
"William Tell"--perhaps the finest piece of instrumental picture music since
Haydn's Creation and the Pastoral Symphony of Beethoven. Its fresh and vivid coloring, its
atmospheric changes, its smart Alpine vigor and heroic ensemble, were made as present and
as real as any sixty instruments could make them. Exquisitely did those three violoncellos
sketch the first scene of soft, cool sunset on the unruffled lake; the mellow Corno
Anglaise, male partner to the oboe, sweetly woke the flute-like mountain echoes; the low
moan and whistle of the storm rose life like in the crescendo of the violins, and as it
died away the startling quick-step of liberty leaped strong and simultaneous from such a
tutti as we have hardly heard from any orchestra. We can believe that Mr. Benedict was
quite sincere in telling them he had not conducted a better orchestra in Europe. The other
Overture to Masaniello was also splendidly played, but the composition is, to our taste,
too hackneyed to fill out the programme of a Jenny Lind before the largest audience in the
world. The accompaniments to the singing were usually given with sympathetic precision,
and subdued shading or vigorous seconding, as the case required. We cannot speak too well
of M. Benedict's control of his forces.
"The second piece was the Viravviso ("As I View
Now") from La Somnambula, delivered in the richest and most vibrating barytone that
WE Americans have heard, by Sig. Belletti. Now that we have heard him from a nearer
position, we have not a doubt left of his superiority in voice, style, execution to all
our Italian favorites of the same register hitherto. He absolutely glorified the cavatina
which rapidly grew commonplace with Brough, and had but half recovered even in the hands
of the worthy Italian artists who have since sung it on the stage for us. His crowning
achievement last night, however, was the actual singing of a Tarentella by Rossini--a kind
of movement which we have hitherto heard only from instruments--a whirling, spinning,
delirious, top-like movement in which the singer seems galvanized and tyrannized by one
too happy and all-mastering idea in spite of himself. The audience too, in spite of
themselves, were sucked into its whirling ecstacy, and it was imperatively encored. In
Mozart's Non piu Andrai the chaster prototype of Rossini's Largo al factotum, his
vocalization was elastic, spirited and elegant, but the effect of such a piece was
necessarily lost upon the outer circles of so vast an auditory.
"For other variety there was a brilliant show duett on
themes from La Somnambula for piano and violin by Messrs. Benedict and Noll, and a solo on
the pianoforte by that most promising young artist, Hoffman. For this he chose De Meyer's
fantasy on Semiramide, decidedly of the modern monster school of pianoforte composition,
though quite a vigorous, graceful and redeeming specimen thereof.
"And now for the 'Queen of Song'--or, if so qualifying
it will better suit the Italians, the NORTHERN Queen of Song.
"She commenced with one of the most tender and graceful,
and hereabouts least hackneyed airs of Bellini--the Qui la Voce from I Puritani. Her
liquid purity of voice and graceful gliding through its flowery labyrinthine passages was
to us not more remarkable than the true but quiet fervor which animated it. Jenny Lind
shows no feeling! and excites none! draws no tears! True Art supplies the place of tears
by touching the emotions which are deeper and serener, and not a whit less human. But of
this more fully when we have room.
"The splendid song from Mozart's 'Magic Flute,' Non
Paventar, brought into play the salient diamonds of her highest voice, which arches like
the tall shaft of a fountain sparkling in the sun. The introduction, a bold, exhorting
strain, in grandiose style, full of large intervals, was given with a glorious fervor, and
no lark ever carolled more blithely or more at ease than her voice as it soared to F in
alt! Benedict's English ballad, 'Take this Lute,' she sang with a simplicity and pathos
that won the audience completely; and no part seemed more genuine or more expressive than
the difficult cadenza at its close.
"The romanza from Robert le Diable was perhaps the most
fascinating of her more studied performances. This, like all her brilliant things, if not
impassioned in the cheaper superficial sense, was at all events vital, and from the soul.
She is never mechanical, whatever you may say about want of passion. Is any tragic pathos,
such as is ready on the smallest occasion, or on none, more admirable and more inspiring,
more from the inmost soul, than is that gushing up of a full, glad, true heart which is
her native mood of song, and which was so glorious last night in the Ah! non Giunge from
Somnambula? The rapturous encore to this was answered by the Swedish 'Herdsman's Song.'
"It was in the song from Mozart's 'Magic Flute' that we
first fully KNEW the voice and art and soul of Jenny Lind. She warmed to that music. It is
narrow criticism which imprisons such a singer within the partial scope, albeit classical,
of the Italian School; ignores that vital part of her which may exceed the conventional
requirements of such a School, and condemns whatever in her is most characteristic, and in
contrast with its models. It has been well said by those who make the most intelligent
reference to those models and that school, that the style of the Swedish Nightingale is
sui generis, as marked as her own personality. True, you would not say of her, in the
conventional Italian sense of the word, what is often said in first acknowledgment of a
good singer: 'She has STYLE'--meaning the one style which is assumed as the standard. If
we are to limit style to that sense, Mdlle. Lind has more than style; she has
genius--Northern genius, to be sure, which is precisely what she should have to make her
greatness genuine. Song is original in her; and from her singing we drink in new life,
after long satiety of such passion-sweets as have become habits rather than fresh
inspirations in the delightful--we may almost say perfected--but yet confined music of the
"It is, perhaps, too late to await the advent of a Queen
of Song from the warm South. The South has had its turn; it has fulfilled its mission; the
other end of the balance now comes up. The Northern Muse must sing her lesson to the
world. Her fresher, chaster, more intellectual, and (as they only SEEM to some) her colder
strains come in due season to recover our souls from the delicious languor of a Music
which has been so wholly of the Feelings, that, for the want of some intellectual tonic
and some spiritual temper, Feeling has degenerated into mere Sensibility and a very cheap
kind of superficial, skin-deep excitability that usurps the name of Passion.
"We admire and feel and love the Melody of Italy. We
reverence her native gift of song, her popular sensibility to it. We have been again and
again transported by her best vocal artists who have visited these shores, and they are
not THE best--the world-wide celebrities, we have to confess, are only traditions to
us--traditions, however, to which we yield ourselves in full faith. From what we HAVE
heard and experienced of Italian singing, we know, as well as if we had heard Grisi, Pasta
and Rubini, that it is not IN the genius of the Italian School to produce or hardly to
appreciate such a new revelation of song as this human nightingale or canary of Sweden.
"Is this underrating the Italian music? By no means.
That is an established fact, and has its characteristic worth. Equally so, but in a
contrasted way has the music of the North, which, till this Nightingale appeared, had
found its utterance mainly through instruments and orchestras. Now it finds worthy
utterance in song. But of its peculiar characteristic we must take another time to
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