The P.T. Barnum of the
Barnum and Bailey Circus
by Joel Benton
Closing the Grand Tour
APRIL FOOL JOKES AT NASHVILLE--A TRICK AT CINCINNATI--RETURN
TO NEW YORK--JENNY LIND PERSUADED TO LEAVE BARNUM--FINANCIAL RESULTS OF THE ENTERPRISE.
Five concerts were given at St. Louis, and then they went to
Nashville, Tenn., where the sixty-sixth and sixty-seventh of the series were given. At the
latter place, Jenny Lind, accompanied by Barnum and his daughter, Mrs. Lyman, visited
"The Hermitage," where Barnum himself had years before seen "Old
Hickory" Jackson. While there, the prima donna heard, for the first time in her life,
wild mocking birds singing in the trees, and great was her delight thereat.
They spent the first of April, 1851, at Nashville. In the
forenoon of the day, the various members of the party amused themselves by playing little
"April Fool" jokes on Barnum, and after dinner he took his revenge upon them.
Securing a supply of telegraph blanks and envelopes, he set to work preparing messages
full of the most sensational and startling intelligence, for most of the people in the
party. Almost every one of them presently received what purported to be a telegraphic
despatch. Barnum's own daughter did not escape. She was informed that her mother, her
cousin, and several other relatives, were waiting for her in Louisville, and various other
important and extraordinary items of domestic intelligence were communicated to her. Mr.
Le Grand Smith was told by a despatch from his father that his native village in
Connecticut, was in ashes, including his own homestead, etc. Several of Barnum's employees
had most liberal offers of engagements from banks and other institutions at the North.
Burke, and others of the musical professors, were offered princely salaries by opera
managers, and many of them received most tempting inducements to proceed immediately to
the World's Fair in London.
One married gentleman received the gratifying intelligence
that he had for two days been the father of a pair of bouncing boys (mother and children
doing well), an event which he had been anxiously looking for during the week, though on a
somewhat more limited scale. In fact, nearly every person in the party engaged by Barnum
received some extraordinary telegraphic intelligence; and, as the great impressario
managed to have the despatches delivered simultaneously, each recipient was for some time
busily occupied with his own personal news.
By and by each began to tell his neighbor his good or bad
tidings; and each was, of course, rejoiced or grieved, according to circumstances. Several
gave Mr. Barnum notice of their intention to leave him, in consequence of better offers;
and a number of them sent off telegraphic despatches and letters by mail, in answer to
The man who had so suddenly become the father of twins,
telegraphed to his wife to "be of good cheer," and that he would "start for
home to-morrow." And so cleverly did Barnum manage the whole business that his
victims did not discover how they had been fooled until next morning, when they read the
whole story in a local newspaper, to which it had been given by Barnum himself.
From Nashville, Jenny Lind and a few of the party went to the
Mammoth Cave, and thence to Louisville, the others going directly to the latter point by
steamer. There they were joined by Signor Salvi, whom Barnum had engaged at Havana. Three
concerts were given at Louisville, and they then proceeded to Cincinnati, accompanied by
George D. Prentice, the famous editor of The Louisville Journal. A stop was made at
Madison long enough to give one concert, and they reached Cincinnati the next morning.
There was a tremendous crowd on the wharf, and Barnum was afraid that an attempt to repeat
the ruse he had played with his daughter at New Orleans would not work here, as an account
of it had been published in the Cincinnati papers, and everyone would be suspecting it.
But he was fertile in expedients, and quickly devised another scheme.
So he took Miss Lind on his arm and boldly started to walk
down the gang-plank in the face of the crowd. As he did so, Le Grand Smith, who was in the
plot, called out from the deck of the boat, as if he had been one of the passengers,
"That's no go, Mr. Barnum; you can't pass your daughter off for Jenny Lind this
time." The remark elicited a peal of merriment from the crowd, several persons
calling out, "that won't do, Barnum! You may fool the New Orleans folks, but you
can't come it over the 'Buckeyes.' We intend to stay here until you bring out Jenny
Lind!" They readily allowed him to pass with the lady whom they supposed to be his
daughter, and in five minutes afterwards the Nightingale was complimenting Mr. Coleman
upon the beautiful and commodious apartments which were devoted to her in the Burnett
A concert was given at Wheeling, and another at Pittsburg,
and then, early in May, the company returned to New York. There they gave fourteen
concerts, partly at Castle Garden and partly at Metropolitan Hall, making ninety-two of
the regular series.
Miss Lind now came within the influence of various legal and
other advisers, who seemed intent on creating trouble between her and her manager. Barnum
soon discovered this state of affairs, but was little troubled by it. Indeed he really
hoped that they would persuade her to stop at the hundredth concert, for he was already
worn out with the constant excitement and unremitting exertions of the tour. He thought
that perhaps it would be well for Miss Lind to try giving a few concerts on her own
account, or under some other manager, in order to disprove what her friends had told her,
namely, that Mr. Barnum had not managed the enterprise as successfully as he might have
Accordingly he was much pleased when, after the eighty-fifth
concert, she told him that she had decided to pay the forfeit of $25,000, and terminate
the concert tour after the one hundredth performance. After the second series of concerts
in New York, they went to Philadelphia, where Barnum had advertised the ninety-third and
ninety-fourth concerts. As he did not care enough for the probable profits of the last
seven of the hundred concerts to run the risk of disturbing the very friendly relations
which had so far existed between him and Miss Lind, he now offered to relinquish the
engagement, if she desired it, at the end of the ninety-third concert. The only terms he
required were that she would allow him $1,000 for each of the remaining seven concerts,
besides the $25,000 forfeit already agreed upon. She accepted this offer, and the
engagement was forthwith ended.
After parting with Barnum, Miss Lind gave a number of
concerts, with varied success. Then she went to Niagara Falls for a time, and afterward to
Northampton, Massachusetts. While living at the latter place she visited Boston, and was
there married to Otto Goldschmidt. He was a German composer and pianist, who had studied
music with her in Germany, and to whom she had long been much attached. He had, indeed,
travelled with her and Barnum during a portion of their tour, and had played at several of
After the end of their engagement, Barnum and Miss Lind met
on several occasions, always in the friendliest manner. Once, at Bridgeport, she
complained rather bitterly to him of the unpleasant experiences she had had since leaving
him. "People cheat me and swindle me very much," said she, "and I find it
very annoying to give concerts on my own account."
"I was always," said Mr. Barnum, sometime
afterward, "supplied with complimentary tickets when she gave concerts in New York,
and on the occasion of her last appearance in America I visited her in her room back of
the stage, and bade her and her husband adieu, with my best wishes. She expressed the same
feeling to me in return. She told me she should never sing much, if any more, in public;
but I reminded her that a good Providence had endowed her with a voice which enabled her
to contribute in an eminent degree to the enjoyment of her fellow beings, and if she no
longer needed the large sums of money which they were willing to pay for this elevating
and delightful entertainment, she knew by experience what a genuine pleasure she would
receive by devoting the money to the alleviation of the wants and sorrows of those who
"Ah! Mr. Barnum," she replied, "that is very
true; and it would be ungrateful in me to not continue to use, for the benefit of the poor
and lowly, that gift which our kind Heavenly Father has so graciously bestowed upon me.
Yes, I will continue to sing so long as my voice lasts, but it will be mostly for
charitable objects, for I am thankful to say that I have all the money which I shall ever
It is pleasant to add that this noble resolution was carried
out. A large proportion of the concerts which she gave after her return to Europe and
during the remainder of her entire public career, were devoted to objects of charity. If
she consented, for example, to sing for a charitable object in London, the fact was not
advertised at all, but the tickets were readily disposed of in private for from $5 to $10
As for Mr. Barnum, he was glad to enjoy a season of rest and
quiet after such an arduous campaign. After leaving Miss Lind, in Philadelphia, therefore,
he went to Cape May for a week and then to his home Iranistan, where he spent the
remainder of the summer.
It is interesting, as a matter of record, to review at this
point, the financial results of this notable series of concerts. The following
recapitulation is entirely accurate, being taken from Mr. Barnum's own account books:
Of Miss Lind's half receipts of the first two Concerts she
devoted $10,000 to charity in New York. She afterwards gave Charity Concerts in Boston,
Baltimore, Charleston, Havana, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia, and donated large
sums for the like purposes in Richmond, Cincinnati and elsewhere. There were also several
Benefit Concerts, for the Orchestra, Le Grand Smith, and other persons and objects.
New York 35 Concerts. Receipts, $286,216.64 Average,
Total 95 Concerts. Receipts, $712,161.34 Average, $7,496.43
JENNY LIND'S RECEIPTS.
From the Total Receipts of Ninety-five
Concerts.....$712,161.34 Deduct the receipts of the first two, which, as between P. T.
Barnum and Jenny Lind were aside from the contract, and are not numbered in the
Total Receipts of Concerts from No. 1 to No.
93....$680,094.26 Deduct the Receipts of the 28 Concerts, each of which fell short of
$5,500.....$123,311.15 Also deduct $5,500 for each of the remaining 65
Leaving the total excess, as above....$199,283.11 Being
equally divided, Miss Lind's portion was....$99,641.55 Barnum paid her $1,000 for each of
the 93 Concerts.....93,000.00 Also one-half the receipts of the first two
Amount paid to Jenny Lind.....................$208,675.09 She
refunded to Barnum as forfeiture, per contract, in case she withdrew after the 100th
Concert..........$25,000 She also paid him $1,000 each for the seven concerts
JENNY LIND'S net avails of 95
concerts................$176,675.09 P. T. BARNUM'S gross receipts, after paying Miss Lind
TOTAL RECEIPTS of 95 Concerts $712,161.34
The highest prices paid for tickets were at auction, as
follows: John N. Genin, in New York, $225; Ossian E. Dodge, in Boston, $625; Col. William
C. Ross, in Providence, $650; M. A. Root, in Philadelphia, $625; Mr. D'Arcy, in New
Orleans, $240; a keeper of a refreshment saloon in St. Louis, $150; a Daguerrotypist, in
Baltimore, $100. After the sale of the first ticket the premium usually fell to $20, and
so downward in the scale of figures. The fixed price of tickets ranged from $7 to $3.
Promenade tickets were from $2 to $1 each.
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