A Unique Story of a Marvellous Career. Life of Hon. Phineas T. Barnum, by Joel Benton.
Part 3 out of 8
When they were in Oxford, a dozen or more of the students came to
the conclusion that, as the General was a little fellow, the
admission fee to his entertainments should be paid in the
smallest kind of money. They accordingly provided themselves with
farthings, and as each man entered, instead of handing in a
shilling for his ticket, he laid down forty-eight farthings. The
counting of these small coins was a great annoyance to Mr.
Stratton, the General's father, who was ticket-seller, and after
counting two or three handfuls, vexed at the delay which was
preventing a crowd of ladies and gentlemen from buying tickets,
Mr. Stratton lost his temper, and cried out:
"Blast your quarter-pennies! I am not going to count them! you
chaps who haven't bigger money can chuck your copper into my hat
and walk in."
Mr. Stratton was a genuine Yankee, and thoroughly conversant with
the Yankee vernacular which he used freely. In exhibiting the
General, Barnum often said to visitors that Tom Thumb's parents,
and the rest of the family, were persons of the ordinary size,
and that the gentleman who presided in the ticket-office was the
General's father. This made poor Stratton an object of no little
curiosity, and he was pestered with all sorts of questions; on
one occasion an old dowager said to him:
"Are you really the father of General Tom Thumb?"
"Wa'al," replied Stratton, "I have to support him!"
This evasive answer is common enough in New England, but the
literal dowager had her doubts, and promptly rejoined:
"I rather think he supports you!"
Although Barnum was in Europe on business, he made the most of
his opportunities for sight-seeing, and in his few leisure hours
managed to visit nearly every place of interest both in England
and on the continent.
While in Birmingham, with his friend Albert Smith, then author
and afterwards a successful showman, he visited
Stratford-on-Avon, where lived and wrote the greatest of English
While breakfasting at the Red House Inn, at Stratford, they
called for a guide-book of the town, and to Barnum's great
delight the volume proved to be Washington Irving's
"Sketch-book." His pleasure was even more increased when he
discovered, on reading the vivid and picturesque description of
Stratford, that Irving had stopped at the very same hotel where
they were awaiting breakfast.
After visiting the house as well as the church where is the tomb
of the poet, they took a post-chaise for Warwick Castle, fourteen
The Earl of Warwick and his family being absent, the visitors
were shown through the apartments. One guide took them over the
Castle, another escorted them to the top of "Guy's Tower,"
another showed them the famous Warwick Vase. They were
congratulating themselves on not being called upon for any more
tips, when the old porter at the lodge informed them that for a
consideration he could show them more interesting things
connected with the Castle than any they had yet seen. They tossed
him his fee, and he produced what purported to be Guy of
Warwick's sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, walking-staff, etc.
The armor must have weighed two hundred pounds and the sword
alone one hundred. Barnum listened, and gazed in silence at the
horse-armor, large enough for an elephant, and a pot called
"Guy's porridge-pot," which could have held seventy gallons, but
when the old man produced the ribs of a mastodon which he
declared had belonged to a huge dun cow, which had done much
injury to many persons before being slain by the dauntless Guy,
he drew a long breath, and feelingly congratulated the old porter
on his ability to concentrate more lies than anyone had ever
before heard in so small a compass.
"I suppose," said Barnum, "that you have told these marvellous
tales so often that you almost believe them yourself."
"Almost," answered the old man, with a broad grin.
"Come now, old fellow," continued Barnum, "what will you take
for the entire lot of these old traps? I want them for my Museum
"No money would buy these priceless relics of a bygone age,"
replied the porter, leering.
"Never mind," exclaimed the showman; "I'll have them duplicated
for my Museum, so that Americans can see them without coming
here, and in that way I'll burst up your old show."
The porter was paralyzed with astonishment at this threat, and
Albert Smith was convulsed with laughter. He afterwards told
Barnum that he first derived his idea of becoming a showman from
this day at Warwick, and Barnum's talk about his doings and
adventures in the business.
They visited that same day Kenilworth and Coventry, in which
latter place Barnum discovered the exhibition known as the "Happy
Family," about two hundred birds and animals of opposite natures,
dwelling in one cage in perfect harmony. He was so delighted with
it that he bought it on the spot, and hired the manager to
accompany the exhibition to New York, where it became a famous
feature of the Museum.
Albert Smith afterwards published a chapter in Bentley's
Magazine, entitled "A Day with Barnum," in which he said they
accomplished business with such rapidity that, when he attempted
to write out the accounts of the day, he found the whole thing so
confused in his brain that he came near locating "Peeping Tom" in
the house of Shakespeare, while Guy of Warwick WOULD stick his
head above the ruins of Kenilworth, and the Warwick Vase appeared
With the exception of two brief trips to America, Barnum had been
abroad with General Tom Thumb three years. The season had been
one of unbroken pleasure and profit. They had visited nearly
every city and town in France, Belgium, England, Scotland, and
the cities of Belfast and Dublin in Ireland. After this truly
triumphant tour, they set sail in February, 1847, for New York.
Barnum was a man who never could bear to see injustice done. On
one of his business trips to America he took passage on a Cunard
steamer, commanded by a Captain Judkins. Among the passengers was
the celebrated preacher, Robert Baird. One Sunday after dinner
Barnum asked Mr. Baird if he would be willing to preach to the
passengers in the forward cabin. The captain had read the
Episcopal service that morning, but it was done as a mere matter
of form, without the slightest suggestion of devotion in its
Mr. Baird consented to preach, and Barnum, after mentioning it to
the other passengers, who were delighted at the prospect, went to
the captain and said: "Captain, the passengers desire to have Dr.
Baird conduct a religious service in the forward cabin. I suppose
there is no objection?" The rest of the story may as well be told
in Barnum's own words. To his inquiry, the captain replied
"Decidedly there is, and it will not be permitted."
"It is against the rules of the ship."
"What! to have religious services on board?"
"There have been religious services once to-day, and that is
enough. If the passengers do not think that is good enough, let
them go without," was the captain's hasty and austere reply.
"Captain," Barnum replied, "do you pretend to say you will not
allow a respectable and well-known clergyman to offer a prayer
and hold religious services on board your ship at the request of
"That, sir, is exactly what I say. So, now, let me hear no more
By this time a dozen passengers were crowding around his door,
and expressing their surprise at his conduct. Barnum was
indignant, and used sharp language.
"Well," said he, "this is the most contemptible thing I ever
heard of on the part of the owners of a public passenger ship.
Their meanness ought to be published far and wide."
"You had better 'shut up,' " said Captain Judkins, with great
"I will not 'shut up,' " he replied; "for this thing is perfectly
outrageous. In that out-of-the-way forward cabin you allow, on
week-days, gambling, swearing, smoking and singing till late at
night; and yet on Sunday you have the impudence to deny the
privilege of a prayer-meeting, conducted by a gray-haired and
respected minister of the gospel. It is simply infamous!"
Captain Judkins turned red in the face; and, no doubt feeling
that he was "monarch of all he surveyed," exclaimed in a loud
"If you repeat such language, I will put you in irons."
"Do it, if you dare," said Barnum, feeling his indignation rising
rapidly. "I dare and defy you to put your finger on me. I would
like to sail into New York harbor in handcuffs, on board a
British ship, for the terrible crime of asking that religious
worship may be permitted on board. So you may try it as soon as
you please; and, when we get to New York, I'll show you a touch
of Yankee ideas of religious intolerance."
Turning on his heel, he walked over to Mr. Baird and told him how
matters stood, adding, with a laugh:
"Doctor, it may be dangerous for you to tell of this incident
when you get on shore; for it would be a pretty strong draught
upon the credulity of many of my countrymen if they were told
that my zeal to hear an orthodox minister preach was so great
that it came near getting me into solitary confinement. But I am
not prejudiced, and I like fair play."
The old doctor replied: "Well, you have not lost much; and, if
the rules of this ship are so stringent I suppose we must
The captain afterwards came to Barnum and apologized for the rude
manner in which he had carried out the rules of the ship. Barnum
was not at the time a teetotaler, and the two men "washed down"
their differences in a bottle of champagne, and were excellent
friends from that moment.
CHAPTER XV. AT HOME.
PARTNERSHIP WITH TOM THUMB--VISIT TO CUBA--IRANISTAN, HIS FAMOUS
PALACE AT BRIDGEPORT--AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCES--BARNUM'S
GAME-KEEPER AND THE GREAT GAME DINNER--FRANK LESLIE.
One of Barnum's principal objects in returning to America at this
time was to insure the permanence of his "American Museum." He
had a lease of the property, which had yet three years to run.
But he wanted to make sure of it after that term had expired. Mr.
Olmsted, the former owner, was now dead, and It was not certain
that the new proprietor would renew the lease. If not, another
home for the great show must be secured, and Barnum decided that
in that event he would buy land on Broadway and erect a building
to suit him. The new owner of the old property was persuaded,
however, to renew the lease for a term of twenty-five years. The
building covered an area of fifty-six by one hundred feet and was
four stories high. Barnum agreed to pay for it a rental of
$10,000 a year in addition to the taxes and all assessments.
Then, as the place was not large enough for his purposes, he
rented and connected with it the upper floors of several adjacent
buildings. The Museum was at this time enormously prosperous, and
was thronged with visitors from morning to late at night.
Tom Thumb's European reputation was of course a great
advertisement, and it was "worked for all it was worth." He
appeared at the Museum daily for four weeks, and drew such crowds
of visitors as had never been seen there before. He afterwards
spent a month in Bridgeport with his kindred. To prevent being
annoyed by the curious, who would be sure to throng the houses of
his relatives, he exhibited two days at Bridgeport, and the
receipts, amounting to several hundred dollars, were presented to
the Bridgeport Charitable Society.
Barnum's contract with Tom Thumb had expired on January 1, 1845,
while they were in England, and they had then formed a
partnership, dividing equally between them the profits of their
enterprise; excepting during the first four weeks of their return
to New York, during which time the General waived his partnership
rights and exhibited himself for a salary of $50 a week. Mr.
Stratton, Tom Thumb's father, was now a rich man, and he settled
a handsome fortune upon his tiny son.
Soon a tour of America was arranged, the party consisting of Mr.
Barnum and Tom Thumb and his parents. They began at Washington,
in April, 1847, where they visited President and Mrs. Polk at the
White House. Thence they went to Richmond, to Baltimore, and to
Philadelphia, where they took in $5,594.91 in twelve days. Next
they visited Boston and Lowell; Providence, where they received
nearly $1,000 in a day; New Bedford, Fall River, Salem,
Worcester, Springfield, Albany, Troy, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and
various other places. During the whole year's tour their receipts
averaged from $400 to $500 per day, and their expenses only from
$25 to $30. On their way back to New York they stopped at all
large towns along the Hudson river, and then went to New Haven,
Hartford, Portland and some other New England cities.
Absence did not make them forgotten in New York, however, but
only increased public interest in them. When he returned to his
Museum Mr. Barnum found that he himself had come to be regarded
as one of its chief curiosities. "If I showed myself about the
Museum, or wherever else I was known, I found eyes peering and
fingers pointing at me, and could frequently overhear the remark,
'There's Barnum.' On one occasion, soon after my return, I was
sitting in the ticket-office, reading a newspaper. A man came and
purchased a ticket of admission. 'Is Mr. Barnum in the Museum?'
he asked. The ticket-seller, pointing to me, answered, 'This is
Mr. Barnum.' Supposing the gentleman had business with me, I
looked up from the paper. 'Is this Mr. Barnum?' he asked. 'It
is,' I replied. He stared at me for a moment, and then, throwing
down his ticket, exclaimed, 'It's all right; I have got the worth
of my money;' and away he went, without going into the Museum at
In the fall of 1847 they went South, visiting and giving
exhibitions at Charleston, Columbia, Augusta, Savannah,
Milledgeville, Macon, Columbus, Montgomery, Mobile and New
Orleans. At the last-named place they spent three weeks,
including the Christmas holidays. After New Year's they went to
Cuba, and were received at Havana by the Captain-General and the
aristocracy of the city. For a month they gave exhibitions in
Havana and Matanzas with great success. The only serious drawback
was the hotels, which they did not find good; indeed, it was
difficult for them to get enough to eat. The Washington House, at
Havana, where they lived for some time, was characterized by Mr.
Barnum as "first-rate bad!"
From Cuba they returned to New Orleans, and thence to New York by
way of the Mississippi river, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati
and Pittsburg. And then, in May, 1848, it was agreed that Barnum
should travel no more with the little General. "I had," says
Barnum, "competent agents who could exhibit him without my
personal assistance, and I preferred to relinquish a portion of
the profits rather than continue to be a travelling showman. I
had now been a straggler from home most of the time for thirteen
years, and I cannot describe the feelings of gratitude with which
I reflected that, having by the most arduous toil and
deprivations succeeded in securing a satisfactory competence, I
should henceforth spend my days in the bosom of my family."
Barnum had selected the city of Bridgeport, Conn., for his home,
and thither he now repaired. He wanted to be near New York, and
he considered the northern shore of Long Island Sound the most
beautiful country he had ever seen. Bridgeport was about the
right distance from New York, and was well situated. It was also
an enterprising place, with the promise of a prosperous future.
Some three or four years before this time Barnum had purchased
seventeen acres of land at the western side of the city, and for
two years had been building a palace upon it, the famous
"Iranistan," which was now nearly ready for him to occupy.
In telling how he came to erect this gorgeous and eccentric home,
Barnum once said that in visiting Brighton, England, he had been
greatly pleased with the pavilion built there by George IV. It
was at that time the only specimen of Oriental architecture in
England, and the style had not been introduced into America. "I
concluded to adopt it, and engaged a London architect to furnish
me a set of drawings after the general plan of the pavilion,
differing sufficiently to be adapted to the spot of ground
selected for my homestead. On my second return visit to the
United States, I brought these drawings with me and engaged a
competent architect and builder, giving him instructions to
proceed with the work, not 'by the job' but 'by the day,' and to
spare neither time nor expense in erecting a comfortable,
convenient, and tasteful residence. The work was thus begun and
continued while I was still abroad, and during the time when I
was making my tour with General Tom Thumb through the United
States and Cuba. Elegant and appropriate furniture was made
expressly for every room in the house. I erected expensive
water-works to supply the premises. The stables, conservatories
and out-buildings were perfect in their kind. There was a
profusion of trees set out on the grounds. The whole was built
and established literally 'regardless of expense,' for I had no
desire even to ascertain the entire cost."
Into this splendid place he moved on November 14, 1848, nearly a
thousand fellow-citizens of Bridgeport, rich and poor alike,
participating in the "housewarming" as his guests. The estate was
called, in reference to its Oriental appearance, Iranistan, which
being interpreted means "a Persian home." This name was the
subject of many a joke, as the place itself was of much
wonderment and admiration.
The next two years were spent by Mr. Barnum chiefly at home with
his family, though he paid frequent visits to his various places
of business and amusement; business for him, amusement for the
world. He had for several years a fine Museum in Baltimore, which
was afterward the property of John E. Owens, the actor. In 1849
he also opened a Museum in Philadelphia, at the corner of
Chestnut and Seventh streets. He spent some time in Philadelphia,
until the Museum was profitably established, and then turned it
over to a manager. Two years later he sold it for a good price.
While he was running it, however, his old rival, Peale, conducted
a strong opposition show in Masonic Hall, near by. The
competition between them proved disastrous to Peale, who failed
and was sold out by the sheriff. Barnum and his friend, Moses
Kimball, purchased most of his effects and divided them between
Barnum's American Museum in New York and Kimball's Museum in
Barnum took an active interest in the affairs of Bridgeport and
of the State of Connecticut. In 1848, soon after settling in
Iranistan, he was elected President of the Fairfield County
Agricultural Society. He was not much of a practical farmer,
although he had bought a hundred or more acres of farm land near
his residence and felt a deep interest in agricultural affairs.
He had imported a lot of choice livestock, which he had at
Iranistan, and had gone pretty deeply into fancy poultry raising.
So he was considered eligible to the office of President of the
In 1849 the Society insisted that he should deliver the annual
address. "I begged to be excused on the ground of incompetency,"
he said, "but my excuses were of no avail, and as I could not
instruct my auditors in farming, I gave them the benefit of
several mistakes which I had committed. Among other things, I
told them that in the fall of 1848 my head-gardener reported that
I had fifty bushels of potatoes to spare. I thereupon directed
him to barrel them up and ship them to New York for sale. He did
so, and received two dollars per barrel, or about sixty-seven
cents per bushel. But, unfortunately, after the potatoes had been
shipped, I found that my gardener had selected all the largest
for market, and left my family nothing but 'small potatoes' to
live on during the winter. But the worst was still to come. My
potatoes were all gone before March, and I was obliged to buy,
during the spring, over fifty bushels of potatoes, at $1.25 per
bushel! I also related my first experiment in the arboricultural
line, when I cut from two thrifty rows of young cherry-trees any
quantity of what I supposed to be 'suckers,' or 'sprouts,' and
was thereafter informed by my gardener that I had cut off all his
A friend of Barnum's, Mr. J. D. Johnson, had a fine place near
Iranistan; and Barnum owned a couple of acres just beyond and
adjoining his property. This plot Barnum presently converted into
a deer park, stocking it with fine animals from the Rocky
Mountains. From its location, however, everybody supposed it to
be a part of Johnson's estate, and to confirm this notion--in a
waggish spirit--a member of Johnson's family put up in the park a
conspicuous sign, which every passer-by on the street could read:
"All persons are forbid trespassing on these grounds, or
disturbing the deer.
--J. D. JOHNSON."
Barnum "acknowledged the corn," and was much pleased with the
joke. Johnson was delighted, and bragged considerably of having
got ahead of Barnum, and the sign remained undisturbed for
several days. It happened, at length, that a party of friends
came to visit him from New York, arriving in the evening. Johnson
told them that he had got a capital joke on Barnum; he would not
explain, but said they should see it for themselves the next
morning. Bright and early he led them into the street, and, after
conducting them a proper distance, wheeled them around in front
of the sign. To his dismay he discovered that I had added
directly under his name the words "Game-keeper to P. T. Barnum."
Thereafter Mr. Johnson was known among his friends and
acquaintances as "Barnum's gamekeeper."
Johnson had his revenge, however. Some time afterward Barnum
became president of the Pequonnock Bank, and gave each year a
grand dinner at Iranistan to the directors. In preparing for
these banquets he would send to the West for some boxes of
prairie chickens and other choice game. So, one day, Johnson saw
a big case at the railroad station, addressed to Barnum, and
"See here," said he to the station-master, "I am Mr. Barnum's
game-keeper, and I'll take charge of that!"
And he did so, taking it to his house, and then notifying Barnum
that it could only be redeemed at cost of a new hat. He knew very
well that Barnum would rather give him a dozen hats than lose the
box; and he added that unless he got the hat very soon he would
give a game dinner on his own account! Barnum sent an order for
the hat in a hurry, and recovered his game, enjoying the whole
joke as much as Johnson did.
In 1848, Mr. Frank Leslie, afterward famous as a publisher, came
to America, bringing letters of introduction to Barnum from
friends in England, and Barnum gave him a start in business by
employing him to prepare an elaborate illustrated catalogue of
the American Museum. This he did in an admirable manner, and
hundreds of thousands of copies of it were distributed throughout
CHAPTER XVI. JENNY LIND.
DARING VENTURE--BARNUM'S AMBASSADOR--UNPRECEDENTED TERMS
OFFERED--TEXT OF THE CONTRACT--HARD WORK TO RAISE THE GUARANTEE
FUND--EDUCATING THE AMERICAN MIND TO RECEIVE THE FAMOUS SINGER.
The next enterprise undertaken by Barnum was an entirely new
departure. It was justly regarded by him as bold in its
conception, complete in its development, and astounding in its
success. To the end of his days he looked upon it with pride and
satisfaction. Probably it did more than anything else in all his
career to give him a permanent and supreme position in the esteem
of the public.
This enterprise was the bringing of Jenny Lind to America for a
Miss Lind, often called the "Swedish Nightingale," was one of the
most remarkable singers of the world, in that or any generation.
All Europe was enraptured by her art, and her fame had encircled
the globe. Barnum had never heard her, as she had not visited
London until a few weeks after his return to America. But her
reputation was enough to determine him to engage her, if
possible, for an American tour. So he sent Mr. J. H. Wilton, an
English musician, who was visiting New York, back to London to
negotiate terms with her. Barnum agreed to pay Wilton his
expenses if he had to return without her; but a handsome sum if
he succeeded in bringing the songstress to America with him. He
told Wilton to engage her on shares if possible. If not, to
engage her for any sum up to a thousand dollars a night, for any
number of nights up to 150, besides paying all her expenses,
including servants, carriages, etc., and not more than three
musical assistants. He also offered to secure her by placing the
whole $150,000 in the hands of her London bankers in advance!
Wilton went to London, had some correspondence with her, and then
went to Lubeck, where she was singing. She told him frankly that
she had, since he first wrote to her, been busy making inquiries
about Barnum's character, trustworthiness, etc., and that she was
perfectly satisfied with what she had found out. There were,
however, four other men negotiating with her to the same end. One
of these gentlemen was a well-known opera manager in London;
another, a theatrical manager in Manchester; a third, a musical
composer and conductor of the orchestra of Her Majesty's Opera in
London; and the fourth, Chevalier Wyckoff, who had conducted a
successful speculation some years previously by visiting America
in charge of the celebrated danseuse, Fanny Ellsler.
She also insisted that, under whatever auspices she should go to
America, she should have as an accompanist Mr.--afterwards
Sir--Julius Benedict, the composer, and Signor Belletti, an
eminent Italian singer.
Finally, on January 9, 1850, Wilton succeeded in his mission.
Miss Lind agreed to come to America under Barnum's management,
and an elaborate contract was drawn up and signed This historic
document was as follows:
MEMORANDUM of an agreement entered into this ninth day of
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
fifty, between John Hall Wilton, as agent for PHINEAS T. BARNUM,
of New York, in the United States of North America, of the one
part, and Mademoiselle JENNY LIND, Vocalist, of Stockholm, in
Sweden, of the other part, wherein the said Jenny Lind doth
First. To sing for the said Phineas T. Barnum in one hundred and
fifty concerts, including oratorios within (if possible) one year
or eighteen months from the date of her arrival in the city of
New York--the said concerts to be given in the United States of
North America and Havana. She, the said Jenny Lind, having full
control as to the number of nights or concerts in each week, and
the number of pieces in which she will sing in each concert, to
be regulated conditionally with her health and safety of voice,
but the former never less than one or two, nor the latter less
than four; but in no case to appear in operas.
Second. In consideration of said services, the said John Hall
Wilton, as agent for the said Phineas T. Barnum, of New York,
agrees to furnish the said Jenny Lind with a servant as
waiting-maid, and a male servant to and for the sole service of
her and her party; to pay the travelling and hotel expenses of a
friend to accompany her as a companion; to pay also a secretary
to superintend her finances; to pay all her and her party's
travelling expenses from Europe, and during the tour in the
United States of North America and Havana; to pay all hotel
expenses for board and lodging during the same period; to place
at her disposal in each city a carriage and horses with their
necessary attendants, and to give her in addition the sum of two
hundred pounds sterling, or one thousand dollars, for each
concert or oratorio in which the said Jenny Lind shall sing.
Third. And the said John Hall Wilton, as agent for the said
Phineas T. Barnum, doth further agree to give the said Jenny Lind
the most satisfactory security and assurance for the full amount
of her engagement, which will be placed in the hands of Messrs.
Baring Brothers, of London, previous to the departure, and
subject to the order of the said Jenny Lind, with its interest
due on its current reduction by her services in the concerts or
Fourth. And the said John Hall Wilton, on the part of the said
Phineas T. Barnum, further agrees, that should the said Phineas
T. Barnum, after seventy-five concerts, have realized so much as
shall, after paying all current expenses, have returned to him
all the sums disbursed, either as deposits at interest, for
securities of salaries, preliminary outlay, or moneys in any way
expended consequent on this engagement, and in addition, have
gained a clear profit of at least fifteen thousand pounds
sterling, then the said Phineas T. Barnum will give the said
Jenny Lind, in addition to the former sum of one thousand dollars
current money of the United States of North America, nightly,
one-fifth part of the profits arising from the remaining
seventy-five concerts or oratorios, after deducting every expense
current and appertaining thereto; or the said Jenny Lind agrees
to try, with the said Phineas T. Barnum, fifty concerts or
oratorios on the aforesaid and first-named terms, and if then
found to fall short of the expectations of the said Phineas T.
Barnum, then the said Jenny Lind agrees to reorganize this
agreement, on terms quoted in his first proposal, as set forth in
the annexed copy of his letter; but should such be found
necessary, then the engagement continues up to seventy-five
concerts or oratorios, at the end of which, should the aforesaid
profit of fifteen thousand pounds sterling have not been
realized, then the engagement shall continue as at first--the
sums herein, after expenses for Julius Benedict and Giovanni
Belletti, to remain unaltered, except for advancement.
Fifth. And the said John Hall Wilton, agent for the said Phineas
T. Barnum, at the request of the said Jenny Lind, agrees to pay
to Julius Benedict, of London, to accompany the said Jenny Lind,
as musical director, pianist, and superintendent of the musical
department, also to assist the said Jenny Lind in one hundred and
fifty concerts or oratorios, to be given in the United States of
North America and Havana, the sum of five thousand pounds
(L5,000) sterling, to be satisfactorily secured to him with
Messrs. Baring Brothers, of London, previous to his departure
from Europe, and the said John Hall Wilton agrees further, for
the said Phineas T. Barnum, to pay all his travelling expenses
from Europe, together with his hotel and travelling expenses
during the time occupied in giving the aforesaid one hundred and
fifty concerts or oratorios--he, the said Julius Benedict, to
superintend the organization of oratorios if required.
Sixth. And the said John Hall Wilton, at the request, selection,
and for the aid of the said Jenny Lind, agrees to pay to Giovanni
Belletti, barytone vocalist, to accompany the said Jenny Lind
during her tour and in one hundred and fifty concerts or
oratorios in the United States of North America and Havana, and
in conjunction with the aforesaid Julius Benedict, the sum of two
thousand five hundred pounds (L2,500) sterling, to be
satisfactorily secured to him previous to his departure from
Europe, in addition to all his hotel and travelling expenses.
Seventh. And it is further agreed that the said Jenny Lind shall
be at full liberty to sing at any time she may think fit for
charitable institutions, or purposes independent of the
engagement with the said Phineas T. Barnum, with a view to
mutually agreeing as to the time and its propriety, it being
understood that in no case shall the first or second concert in
any city selected for the tour be for such purpose, or wherever
it shall appear against the interests of the said Phineas T.
Eighth. It is further agreed that should the said Jenny Lind, by
any act of God, be incapacitated to fulfil the entire engagement
before mentioned, that an equal proportion of the terms agreed
upon shall be given to the said Jenny Lind, Julius Benedict, and
Giovanni Belletti, for services rendered to that time.
Ninth. It is further agreed and understood, that the said Phineas
T. Barnum shall pay every expense appertaining to the concerts or
oratorios before mentioned, excepting those for charitable
purposes, and that all accounts shall be settled and rendered by
all parties weekly.
Tenth. And the said Jenny Lind further agrees that she will not
engage to sing for any other person during the progress of this
said engagement with the said Phineas T. Barnum, of New York, for
one hundred and fifty concerts or oratorios, excepting for
charitable purposes as before mentioned; and all travelling to be
first and best class.
In witness hereof to the within written memorandum of agreement
we set hereunto our hand and seal.
[L. S.] JOHN HALL WILTON, Agent for Phineas
T. Barnum, of New York, U. S.
[L. S.] JENNY LIND.
[T. S.] JULIUS BENEDICT.
[L. S.] GIOVANNI BELLETTI.
In the presence of C. ACHILLING, Consul of His Majesty the King
of Sweden and Norway.
Extract from a letter addressed to John H. Wilton by Phineas T.
Barnum, and referred to in paragraph No. 4 of the annexed
NEW YORK, November 6, 1849.
MR. J. HALL WILTON:
Sir. In reply to your proposal to attempt a negotiation with
Mlle. Jenny Lind to visit the United States professionally, I
propose to enter into an arrangement with her to the following
effect: I will engage to pay all her expenses from Europe,
provide for and pay for one principal tenor, and one pianist,
their salaries not exceeding together one hundred and fifty
dollars per night; to support for her a carriage, two servants,
and a friend to accompany her and superintend her finances. I
will furthermore pay all and every expense appertaining to her
appearance before the public, and give her half of the gross
receipts arising from concerts or operas. I will engage to travel
with her personally, and attend to the arrangements, provided she
will undertake to give not less than eighty, nor more than one
hundred and fifty concerts, or nights' performances.
PHINEAS T. BARNUM.
I certify the above to be a true extract from the letter.
J. H. WILTON.
There was no Atlantic cable in those days, and Barnum did not
know the result of Wilton's embassy until the latter returned to
America. Barnum was in Philadelphia when Wilton landed in New
York, on February 19. Wilton at once telegraphed to him that he
had secured the singer, who was to come over and begin her
concerts in September. The great showman was startled, and felt
pretty nervous; and as so long a time was to elapse before she
came over, he thought it best to keep the whole matter a secret
for a time.
When we reflect how thoroughly Jenny Lind, her musical powers,
her character, and wonderful successes, were subsequently known
by all classes in this country as well as throughout the
civilized world, it is difficult to realize that, at the time
this engagement was made, she was comparatively unknown on this
side the water. We can hardly credit the fact that millions of
persons in America had never heard of her, that other millions
had merely read her name, but had no distinct idea of who or what
she was. Only a small portion of the public were really aware of
her great musical triumphs in the Old World, and this portion was
confined almost entirely to musical people, travellers who had
visited the Old World, and the conductors of the press.
Barnum telegraphed to Wilton to keep the matter secret, and next
morning set out for New York. But it was too late. When he got to
New York, he found the news of the engagement in full in all the
papers. Everybody was talking about it, and wondering who Jenny
Lind was, and Barnum soon perceived that he must improve the
time, from then to September, in educating the public up to an
approximate appreciation of her worth.
His first act was to send, as per agreement, the sum of $187,000
to Miss Lind's bankers in London. It was not altogether easy for
him to do this. After he had scraped together all his available
cash he was still short a large sum. He had plenty of securities
in the form of second mortgages that were perfectly good, but no
one in Wall street would lend him a dollar on them.
In his extremity, he at last went to the president of the bank
where he had transacted his business for the past eight years. "I
offered him," said Barnum afterward, "as security for a loan, my
second mortgages, and, as additional security, I offered to make
over to him my contract with Jenny Lind, with a written guaranty
that he should appoint a receiver, who, at my expense, should
take charge of all the receipts over and above $3,000 per night,
and appropriate them toward the payment of my loan He laughed in
my face, and said: 'Mr. Barnum, it is generally believed in Wall
street that your engagement with Jenny Lind will ruin you. I do
not think you will ever receive so much as $3,000 at a single
concert.' I was indignant at his want of appreciation, and
answered him that I would not at that moment take $150,000 for my
contract; nor would I. I found, upon further inquiry, that it was
useless in Wall street to offer the 'Nightingale' in exchange for
'Goldfinches.' I finally was introduced to Mr. John L. Aspinwall,
of the firm of Messrs. Howland & Aspinwall, and he gave me a
letter of credit from his firm on Baring Brothers, for a large
sum on collateral securities, which a spirit of genuine respect
for my enterprise induced him to accept.
"After disposing of several pieces of property for cash, I footed
up the various amounts, and still discovered myself $5,000 short.
I felt that it was indeed the last feather that breaks the
camel's back.' Happening casually to state my desperate case to
the Rev. Abel C. Thomas, of Philadelphia, for many years a friend
of mine, he promptly placed the requisite amount at my disposal.
I gladly accepted his proffered friendship, and felt that he had
removed a mountain-weight from my shoulders."
And now nothing remained to do but to arouse public curiosity and
interest. Barnum was a master-hand at that work, and never did he
show himself more of a master than on this occasion. He kept the
press literally teeming with notices in one form or another. Here
is a sample of the strain in which he wrote:
"Perhaps I may not make any money by this enterprise; but I
assure you that if I knew I should not make a farthing profit, I
would ratify the engagement, so anxious am I that the United
States should be visited by a lady whose vocal powers have never
been approached by any other human being, and whose character is
charity, simplicity, and goodness personified.
"Miss Lind has great anxiety to visit America. She speaks of this
country and its institutions in the highest terms of praise. In
her engagement with me (which includes Havana), she expressly
reserves the right to give charitable concerts whenever she
Since her debut in England, she has given to the poor from her
own private purse more than the whole amount which I have engaged
to pay her, and the proceeds of concerts for charitable purposes
in Great Britain, where she has sung gratuitously, have realized
more than ten times that amount."
And so it came to pass that, before September rolled around,
curiosity, interest and enthusiasm over the great singer were at
fever heat, and New York thought and dreamed only of her coming.
Never, in the history of music or in the history of
entertainments in America, has the advent of a foreign artist
been hailed with so much enthusiasm.
A large share of this public interest was natural and genuine,
and would, in any event, have been accorded to Miss Lind. But a
considerable portion of it was due to the shrewd and energetic
advertising of Mr. Barnum. Under any auspices the great singer's
tour in America would have been successful; but under no other
management would it have approximated to what it was under
CHAPTER XVII. 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
"I never had the pleasure of seeing you before in my life," he
"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
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 arrived.
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
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 and
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
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 distributed.
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 September 17th.
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
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
"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 nowhere!' '
"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
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 his brain.
"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
"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 Italians.
"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 speak."
CHAPTER XVIII. CONTINUED TRIUMPH.
SUCCESSFUL ADVERTISING--THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF RICHES--VISIT TO
IRANISTAN--OVATIONS AT BOSTON, PHILADELPHIA, BALTIMORE AND
WASHINGTON--VISIT TO MT. VERNON--CHARLESTON--HAVANA--FREDERICKA
All of Barnum's inventive powers were called into play
effectually to advertise his song-bird. Biographies of Jenny Lind
were circulated. "Foreign correspondence" raved over her talents,
narratives of her benevolence filled the papers; her pictures and
her name were seen everywhere. So when she made her first
appearance, it was before an audience already wrought up to a
high pitch of enthusiasm in her behalf. Never before, or after
for that matter, was any singer so lauded by the press. The
following editorial from the New York Herald of September 10th,
1850, is a fair sample:
"What ancient monarch was he, either in history or in fable, who
offered half his kingdom (the price of box-tickets and choice
seats in those days) for the invention of an original sensation,
or the discovery of a fresh pleasure? That sensation--that
pleasure which royal power in the Old World failed to
discover--has been called into existence at a less price, by Mr.
Barnum, a plain republican, and is now about to be enjoyed by the
sovereigns of the New World.
"Jenny Lind, the most remarkable phenomenon in the musical art
which has for the last century flashed across the horizon of the
Old World, is now among us, and will make her debut to-morrow
night to a house of nearly ten thousand listeners, yielding in
proceeds by auction, a sum of forty or fifty thousand dollars.
For the last ten days our musical reporters have furnished our
readers with every matter connected with her arrival in this
metropolis, and the steps adopted by Mr. Barnum in preparation
for her first appearance. The proceedings of yesterday,
consisting of the sale of the remainder of the tickets, and the
astonishing, the wonderful sensation produced at her first
rehearsal on the few persons, critics in musical art, who were
admitted on the occasion, will be found elsewhere in our columns.
"We concur in everything that has been said by our musical
reporter, describing her extraordinary genius--her unrivalled
combination of power and art. Nothing has been exaggerated, not
an iota. Three years ago, more or less, we heard Jenny Lind on
many occasions, when she made the first great sensation in
Europe, by her debut at the London Opera House. Then she was
great in power--in art--in genius; now she is greater in all. We
speak from experience and conviction. Then she astonished, and
pleased, and fascinated the thousands of the British aristocracy;
now she will fascinate, and please, and delight, and almost make
mad with musical excitement, the millions of the American
democracy. To-morrow night, this new sensation--this fresh
movement--this excitement excelling all former excitements--will
be called into existence, when she pours out the notes of Casta
Diva, and exhibits her astonishing powers--her wonderful
peculiarities, that seem more of heaven than of earth--more of a
voice from eternity, than from the lips of a human being.
"We speak soberly--seriously--calmly. The public expectation has
run very high for the last week--higher than at any former period
of our past musical annals. But high as it has risen, the
reality--the fact--the concert--the voice of Jenny Lind--will far
surpass all past expectations. Jenny Lind is a wonder, and a
prodigy in song--and no mistake."
Barnum had not hoped to manage such an enormous enterprise as
this one, without some trouble and anxiety, but he soon
discovered that in this case, realization far exceeded
anticipation. He often declared that from the first concert,
September 11th, 1850, until the ninety-third concert, June 9th,
1851, he did not experience a single waking moment that was free
Miss Lind was utterly unprepared for the enthusiasm of her
American audience, and it is scarcely to be wondered at that she
should appear to listen at first to the dishonorable counsels of
some of her friends, who constantly besought her to break her
contract with Barnum, who, they urged, was "coining money out of
her genius," and to take the enterprise into her own hands. But
whether Miss Lind realized that Mr. Barnum's management was
largely responsible for her triumph, or whether she was simply
too high-minded to consider such a breach of honor, certain it is
that she continued to stand by her contract. John Jay, her
lawyer, took every occasion to interfere, and Barnum suffered
much from his unreasonable intrusions. The following letter,
written to Mr. Joshua Bates of Baring Bros. & Co., London, will
show the difficulties which beset the perplexed manager:
"NEW YORK, October 23, 1850.
"JOSHUA BATES, Esq.:
"Dear Sir: I take the liberty to write you a few lines, merely to
say that we are getting along as well as could reasonably be
expected. In this country you are aware that the rapid
accumulation of wealth always creates much envy, and envy soon
augments to malice. Such are the elements at work to a limited
degree against myself, and although Miss Lind, Benedict and
myself have never, as yet, had the slightest feelings between us,
to my knowledge, except those of friendship, yet I cannot well
see how this can long continue in the face of the fact that,
nearly every day they allow persons (some moving in the first
classes of society) to approach them, and spend hours in
traducing me; even her attorney, Mr. John Jay, has been so blind
to her interests, as to aid in poisoning her mind against me, by
pouring into her ears the most silly twaddle, all of which
amounts to nothing and less than nothing--such as the regret that
I was a showman, exhibiter of Tom Thumb, etc., etc.
"Without the elements which I possess for business, as well as my
knowledge of human nature, acquired in catering for the public,
the result of her concerts here would not have been pecuniarily
one-half as much as the present--and such men as the Hon. Edward
Everett, G. G. Howland, and others, will tell you that there is
no charlatanism or lack of dignity in my management of these
concerts. I know as well as any person, that the merits of Jenny
Lind are the best capital to depend upon to secure public favor,
and I have thus far acted on this knowledge. Everything which
money and attention can procure for their comfort, they have, and
I am glad to know that they are satisfied on this score. All I
fear is, that these continued backbitings, if listened to by her,
will, by and by, produce a feeling of distrust or regret, which
will lead to unpleasant results.
"The fact is, her mind ought to be as free as air, and she
herself as free as a bird, and being satisfied of my probity and
ability, she should turn a deaf ear to all envious and malevolent
attacks on me. I have hoped that by thus briefly stating to you
the facts in the case, you might be induced for her interests as
well as mine to drop a line of advice to Mr. Benedict and another
to Mr. Jay on this subject. If I am asking or expecting too much,
I pray you to not give it a thought, for I feel myself fully able
to carry through my rights alone, although I should deplore
nothing so much as to be obliged to do so in a feeling of
unfriendliness. I have risked much money on the issue of this
speculation--it has proved successful. I am full of perplexity
and anxiety, and labor continually for success, and I cannot
allow ignorance or envy to rob me of the fruits of my enterprise.
"Sincerely and gratefully yours,
"P. T. BARNUM."
Miss Lind's benevolence had been so largely extolled that it was
not surprising that she should have been continually beset by
applicants for charity.
In almost all cases she gave liberally in sums varying from $20
to $1,000, and to one Swedish friend, it is said, she actually
On her return from Boston to New York the whole party stopped at
Iranistan, Mr. Barnum's Bridgeport place. The next morning Miss
Lind was escorted over the grounds, the beauty of which delighted
her. "Do you know, Mr. Barnum," she said, "that if you had not
built Iranistan, I should never have come to America for you?"
Mr. Barnum, much surprised, asked her to explain.
"I had received several applications to visit the United States,"
she continued, "but I did not much like the appearance of the
applicants, nor did I relish the idea of crossing 3,000 miles of
ocean; so I declined them all. But the first letter which Mr.
Wilton, your agent, addressed me, was written upon a sheet headed
with a beautiful engraving of Iranistan. It attracted my
attention. I said to myself, a gentleman who has been so
successful in his business as to be able to build and reside in
such a palace cannot be a mere 'adventurer.' So I wrote to your
agent, and consented to an interview, which I should have
declined, if I had not seen the picture of Iranistan."
"That, then, fully pays me for building it," replied Barnum.
The night after Miss Lind's arrival in Boston, there was a
display of fireworks, in her honor, in front of the Revere House,
which was followed by a torchlight procession by the Germans of
the city. At Philadelphia, they were met by such a dense throng
of people that it was with the greatest difficulty that they
pressed through the crowds to their hotel. Jenny was suffering
from a very severe headache and retired at once to her rooms.
Outside, the streets were packed with the thousands that had
followed them to the door, and were now clamoring for Jenny Lind.
Knowing that the noise would seriously disturb the sensitive
songstress, Barnum tried to induce the crowd to disperse; but
they declared they would not until Miss Lind appeared on the
balcony. In despair he finally put Jenny's bonnet and shawl on
her companion, Miss Ahmansen, who went out on the balcony and
bowed gracefully to the multitude, who gave three hearty cheers
Miss Lind hated crowds, and always wished her arrival in any city
kept secret, so as to avoid the excitement of a public reception,
but Barnum knew that the success of the enterprise depended in a
large measure on this very excitement.
One day Miss Lind remarked to Mr. Barnum, "I have just heard that
you and I are to be married. Now how do you suppose such a report
"Probably from the fact that we are 'engaged,' suggested Barnum,
the inveterate punster.
Miss Lind always went to church when she could do so without
attracting too much attention, always inquiring for the Swedish
church wherever it could be found.
One Sunday in Baltimore, Miss Caroline Barnum, now Mrs. David W.
Thompson, of New York, went with a friend of hers who resided in
the city, into the choir, where she joined in the singing.
A number of people in the audience had seen her with her father
the day previous and supposed her to be Jenny Lind. Like
lightning the news that Jenny Lind was in the choir, flew through
the church, and when Miss Barnum, whose voice was not at all
extraordinary, rose with the rest to sing, the congregation
listened breathlessly. "Heavenly!" "Exquisite!" "Angelic!" sighed
the excited audience. The two young ladies, all unconscious of
the furore they had inspired were utterly astonished when, after
church, the crowd pressed round them so closely that they had the
greatest difficulty in reaching their carriage.
The day after their appearance in Washington, President Fillmore
called, and left his card, Miss Lind being out. Jenny was very
much flurried when she returned, and was prepared to call at the
White House immediately, as would have been proper had Mr.
Fillmore been the head of any European country. Barnum assured
her, however, that etiquette was not so strict in America, and
she postponed her visit until the next day, when with Benedict,
Belletti and Mr. Barnum she spent several delightful hours in the
The President, the Cabinet and nearly every member of Congress
attended both concerts. The great Statesman Webster was so
pleased with one of her songs that he drew himself up to his full
height and bowed profoundly, to Miss Lind's great gratification.
Of all the distinguished men who called upon her in Washington,
none impressed her like Webster. She walked up and down in great
excitement after he had gone, exclaiming: "Ah! Mr. Barnum, what a
man! I have never before seen such a man!"
Miss Lind was escorted through both Houses of Congress and
through the Capitol and grounds, by Hon. C. F. Cleveland,
Representative from Connecticut. She was very much pleased with
everything and asked innumerable questions about the American
During their stay in Washington, they were invited by Colonel
Washington, then owner of Mt. Vernon, to visit the home and the
tomb of the first President.
The party first visited the tomb and then proceeded to the house
where they were introduced to Mrs. Washington and several other
Much interest was shown by Miss Lind in examining the various
mementos of the great man, and when before leaving, Mrs.
Washington presented her with a book from the library with
Washington's autograph on the title page, she was overwhelmed
Miss Lind had been through so much excitement in the North that
she determined to see no callers during her stay in the South.
One young lady, the daughter of a wealthy planter, was so
determined to see her, that she bribed a maid to lend her her cap
and apron, and let her carry in Miss Lind's tea. This incident
amused Barnum immensely, but Miss Lind was much vexed, declaring
the young lady's motive to be curiosity rather than admiration.
The voyage from Wilmington to Charleston had been very rough, the
trip requiring over thirty-six hours. When they arrived at last,
the vessel had been given up for lost and the wreck had been
telegraphed all over the country. The voyage to Havana was very
much pleasanter, however.
Arriving there, they found the house which Mr. Barnum had sent a
man on to provide for them, anything but comfortable. Miss Lind,
especially, was much displeased, and, hiring a carriage, she
drove off, accompanied by an interpreter. She was gone four
hours, to the great alarm of the rest of the party. Returning,
she announced that she had hired a charming house in the suburbs,
and invited the whole company to be her guests during their stay
in Havana. It is needless to say they accepted her invitation.
There, freed from all care and annoyance and away from the too
zealous counsellors, she spent a delightful month, seeing no
callers, coming and going as she pleased, and romping like a
schoolgirl in the great court-yard back of the house. She used to
force Mr. Barnum to play ball with her until he was exhausted and
fain to beg off. Then she would laugh and say: "Oh, Mr. Barnum!
you are too fat and lazy; you cannot stand it to play ball with
The celebrated Swedish authoress, Fredericka Bremer, spent a few
days with them in their Havana retreat.
CHAPTER XIX. HAVANA.
CONQUEST OF THE HABANEROS--THE ITALIAN AND HIS DOG--MAD
BENNETT--A SUCCESSFUL RUSE--RETURN TO NEW ORLEANS--A LUDICROUS
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