Jenny Lind
Performs in Madison, Ind., 1851

(from Charles Rosenberg's Jenny Lind in America, 1851)

Excerpt from text available at Google Books.

Jenny Lind, an internationally acclaimed singing sensation, made an American tour in 1850 and 1851. Her only appearance in Indiana was on April 11, 1851, in Madison.

Charles Rosenberg, a music critic who was in the "caravan" of supporters who followed her across the country, wrote a book describing her American tour. Excerpted here are descriptions of her travels and performances in northern Kentucky, along the Ohio River, and in Madison, Indiana.

After Lind's performance in Nashville, Tennessee, she travelled overland to Louisville, Kentucky, a route that allowed her to visit Mammoth Cave. Rosenberg took what he expected to be the more comfortable river route. Another member of her party, Julius Benedict, went to Mammoth Cave with Lind and described their experiences there. From there they went to Louisville and then to Madison and on to Cincinnnati.

[Julius Benedict narrates Jenny Lind's visit to Mammoth Cave.]

Early in the morning, after the close of our last concert in Nashville, we started, with a somewhat smaller party than had hitherto accompanied us, on a trip to the Mammoth Cave. It consisted of Mademoiselle Lind and Mademoiselle Ahmansen, Belletti, Max Hjortzberg, Mr. Burke, Mr. Seyton, and myself. Our road was rough, and in many instances almost impassable for a carriage. The rain had, however, laid the dust, and although there was little of the pieturesque to be met with in the country that was stretched on either side of us, the fresh brilliancy of the young year sheeted trees and meadows alike in its budding green. After partaking of luncheon at Teyress' Springs, and pausing to dine afterwards at the Bowling Green, we arrived in the course of the evening, and found ourselves in comfortable lodgings, at Bell's Hotel.

On the following morning we quitted this tarrying-place at nine o'clock, and had the satisfaction of travelling over eight miles of the very worst road we had yet traversed in the United States - charmingly broken up with snatches of woodland and forest scenery - here bending past the edge of a jagged and abrupt glen, and then breaking into a sweep of meadow or budding foliage. At length we arrived at the hotel, a dismal and queer-looking building, the roof of which was seamed with the chance sky-lights made by age and decay, and the service of which was performed by domestics, who were scrupulously bent on following their own fancies in the management of our table, for here it was that we breakfasted. In truth, the meal itself was excellent, and the room in which it was held, considering the time of year, was in good order - Jenny Lind's presence, we presume, having, as is usual in hotels, railways, and steamboats, made an extra season.

Fortunately, we here met with Mr. Croghan, the proprietor of the estate in which the Cave is situated, a most gentlemanly and delightful person, who did us the honors of his subterranean dominions in the most agreeable manner. It was about twelve o'clock that we started in his company for the Cave, and to avoid the pertinacious curiosity of the guests, who had been collected here by the report of Mademoiselle Lind's visit, he conducted us by a less frequented pathway than the one usually taken to its mouth. Lamps were now procured, and as it happened, we were fortunate enough to be placed in the hands of the very Prince of Guides. This was Stephen, who must be a well known character to those who visit this palace of the Gnomes. Half Indian and half negro, (a singularly rare mixture of blood,) he has been living in or about this cavern for the last fifteen years, until he himself has begun to fancy it would be impossible to quit it . Although, of course, uneducated, he is essentially a clever man, and has contrived to pick up a vast amount of information from associating with every description of persons. Now he sports a bit of science, derived from some of the more learned visitors he has conducted through the cavern, or a bit of artistic knowledge which has been dropped behind him by some wandering painter, or haply a touch of the life of the world beyond, which has filtered throngh his mind from a thousand sources. In addition to this, when it is remembered that he is as much at home in the lengthy avenues, the gorgeous churches, and palatial halls, the domes and the pits of this wierd region, as if he had been born amongst them, it must be admitted that it would be somewhat difficult to find a guide better calculated to do its honors.

To give anything approaching a thorough description of the cavern, is far from our purpose. Indeed, we shall be well satisfied if we can but impress the reader with the conception that masters our own sense, as we take the pen in our hand with the vain hope (for we cannot but feel that it is so), of doing something like justice to the effect it produced upon our minds. In fact, it is and would be well nigh impossible to give with pen and ink any idea of the wondrous effects and extraordinary combinations of nature's architecture, with her wondrous and delicate tracery which strike the visitor at every step he takes in these intricate and winding labyrinths. Now you enter what would appear to be the sacred precincts of a Gothie Chapel. What is visible of the roof as the light of the flashing torches is caught upon it is seamed with arches. Elaborate pillars wreathed with tracery cluster along its sides. The very pulpit is chased with elaborate and tangled ornaments, and appears ready for the preacher. After this, you bend your way through a rough and tedious path, that winds through fragments of rock, and fallen masses of rough and jagged stone. This brings you to a wooden bridge, over which you pass, and reaching apparently the side of the cave, gaze through a broken space into the thick and heavy darkness beyond it. Here the glaring lustre of a Bengal light, touched by the torch of Stephen, falls into and for some moments partially illumines the profound depths of a place which is called the 'Bottomless Pit;' and, indeed, nothing could well give a more vivid idea of the earthly entrance to a spiritual Hades than does this place. The spot of intense and glowing light - the unfathomable space below - the unnatural features of the place, all brought out in strong relief by the unusual radiance, and the awful silence that reigns around, unbroken, save by the whispers and muttered observations of the party which stands almost lost in the gloom of the silent cavern, give it a character of extreme and unutterable solemnity.

What, however, must we say of the 'Star Chamber ?' After having wandered for a mile or more along what we presumed was the principal avenue, (the height of this varies, as we should suppose, from thirty to eighty feet,) we passed the "Giant's Coffin," a mass of stone presupposed by the dealer in fabulous nomenclature to be the tomb of some antediluvian hero. Here the Cave widened, and we found ourselves standing, as we seemed to emerge from it, under a broad and sable sky, spotted with unknown stars. Almost for the first moment you might dream that you had entered upon another world. The illusion is complete. Above you lies the vault of the dark and novel heaven, seamed with apparently countless planets, and around you stretches the dark and wierd-lookiug horizon, apparently dying away into the gloom of that strange firmament.

Here also our guide shone in all his glory. First he would withdraw within the entrance, carrying the torches with him. Then the stars would disappear, one by one, until we were left in silence and darkness. Anon a crimson light would break out among the rocks, whose intense brilliance would give us some idea of the grandeur and splendid proportions of the ' Star Chamber,' sparkling in its brilliant glory on the glistening spots of the sable coping. Then he would descend and move further off, to throw the light of the torches on others of the incrustations and glistening stalactites of the Hall. Suddenly the notes of a violin were heard breaking on the stillness, and the Prayer from the Der Freyschutz poured its melody on the Chamber. For a moment we were so struck by the unexpected sounds, that we barely looked at each other. Soon we, however, began to notice that Burke was absent, and remembered that he had brought his instrument with him on this trip. The mystery - a rare and delicate one, too, was unravelled.

After leaving this spot, we passed through the 'Fat Man's Misery' and the 'Happy Relief' which last, we confess, we should have presupposed to have been achieved only by a course of sudorifics, and at last reached the borders of Lethe. Unluckily there was no Charon in waiting to bear us across the ominously named stream. This may possibly appear an anomaly, yet when it is known that the grandest part of the Cave lies beyond Lethe and Styx, our mortification at finding the first river impassable, and the Tartarus beyond it, out of our reach, may very readily be conceived. The waters had unfortunately risen so high during the last few weeks, that the impossibility of passing the streams of this subterranean Tophet was self-evident. We were therefore compelled unwillingly to satisfy ourselves with the glowing reports of Stephen and Mr. Croghan,of the 'Crystal Chambers,' the 'Echo Halls' stalactitic Domes, fishes without eyes, and rats that were half rabbits, with sundry other breathing and visual oddities that were to bo found in these infernal regions.

We were, however, richly repaid for our visit by that which we had already seen, and the crowning point was our pause on our return beneath Goran Dome. Fancy an immense wall in the bowels of the earth, lit up as if by magic, (i. e. Bengal lights,) with its carved cornices and sculptured or arabesqued architraves coming crisply and exquisitely off in the momentary and brilliant lustre - the wall standing some 400 or 500 feet in height, and the silence of the scene being only broken by the slow dripping of the water which trickles through the interstices of the rock. Possibly the only disappointment which was induced in my mind, arose from the width and breadth of the chamber not corresponding with the height, which had it done, the impression of grandeur given by this singular scene would have been quadrupled.

At length, after having roamed about without a moment's rest for more than four hours, in which time we had not explored the twentieth part that is already known of this splendid palace, reared, as it might almost seem, for another race of beings, we passed through the 'Bats' Chamber,' where thousands of these creatures remain, as though they were spell-bound, hanging to the walls in their winter sleep - and, emerged again into the world above us, which seemed to fasten upon our senses with an almost crushing weight, as we found its light dimming and blinding the eyes which instinctively sought the radiance of the sunny heaven.

We returned to the hotel - dined there, and bidding a kindly farewell to Mr. Croghan, were soon on our way to the place at which we were that night to sleep - carrying with us a recollection which will not readily be effaced either from the minds of Mademoiselle Lind or of myself.

[Charles Rosenberg resumes the narrative with his own arrival in Louisville.]

It was early on the Sunday morning, somewhere about three o'clock, that we arrived at Louisville, and very sincerely can I say that I was never more glad to quit any public conveyance than I was to leave the E. W. Stephens. Suffice it, that I here recommend none who relish comfortable travelling ever to expose themselves to the blessings of such a steamer.

For the remainder of the night, or rather of the morning, I went to the Galt House, where I remained in bed till close upon dinner time. The next day I stowed myself away in the Exchange Hotel, where the greater portion of the orchestra, and others of the party, were accommodated with rooms. As for Jenny and her companions, they arrived towards the evening, and became the tenants of a house which had been placed at their disposal by the proprietors of the Louisville Hotel, in the upper part of Sixth street. They were all well and in raptures with that portion of the Mammoth Cave which they had been able to see - the river which crosses the cavern having been too swollen to give them an opportunity of passing it.

Having little to do in the evening, I took the opportunity of wandering through the town, and was much struck by the absence of the awnings over the streets, which would seem to be a prescriptive feature of all American cities. Certainly, at present, they were not much needed. Bright and clear as the sky was, the temperature was cold, and even bleak, convincing us that we had moved Northerly, while a slight touch of frost awoke us in the morning to the feeling that Spring had not yet wholly emerged from its chilly youth.

The first concert, which was given in Louisville, was crowded.{1} Not a seat in the Mozart Hall, which had been selected, but was filled, and, as in St. Louis, the crowd who stood about the walls, might almost exceed belief. Unlike the mob of St. Louis, they were not, however, of the most peaceable description, and occasional rows diversified the external entertainments of the evening. In one of them I had the proud satisfaction of seeing a drunken white knock down two "gentlemen of color." Shortly after, feeling inclined for better game, he struck at a white man who was standing near him. This individual polished him off in a short time, and then consigned him to the care of a policeman. I mention this fact simply to show that the inhabitants of Louisville partake, very decidedly, of the bellicose disposition which so strongly characterizes the dwellers in Nashville. Fortunately, they depend rather upon thew and muscle than on small shot and bowie-knives. We were gradually emerging from that quarter of the world in which these agreeable referees are appealed to for the purpose of settling every little difference.

I should, prior to my allusion to it at present, have mentioned the fact that Mr. Barnum had entered into an engagement with Signer Salvi, while at the Havana, for the purpose of strengthening these concerts. It would have been impossible for him to find a more admirable tenor, in the whole of America. He is a refined and accomplished artist, and although, like Belletti, better suited for the stage than the concert-room, which affords few means for the display of anything like histrionic talent, could not fail of becoming a very great addition to the company.

It had been understood that he was to arrive in Louisville in time for the second concert which was to be given there, and, consequently, his name had been inserted in the advertisement. By some mischance, he was prevented from eoming, and the programme was, necessarily, changed on the Wednesday morning, substituting instrumental music, for the pieces which he had been announced to sing. In consequence of this, Salvi would not have appeared here, had Mr. Barnum persisted in his determination of giving only two concerts. The inhabitants of Louisville were, however, mad to have another, and a Mr. Raine offered to purchase a third concert from him for $5,000. It had been settled that we were to start on the Friday morning, and, indeed, our passage had been already taken in the Ben Franklin, which left only one day at Barnum's disposal, after the close of the Thursday's concert. But for this, he himself would certainly have given it. He was, therefore, induced to accept the offer made him by Mr. Raine, and, after Jenny's sanction had been obtained to this proposal, this concert was announced,in the Louisville papers which appeared on the following day.

Salvi had been telegraphed for from Cincinnati five minutes after the arrangements had been concluded. He arrived in Louisville at 10 o'clock on the morning of the Thursday, - rehearsed at 11 o'clock, and sung in the evening. Never, possibly, have I heard him in better voice than he was on this occasion. - N. B. a vocalist is always in excellent voice on the first night of his engagement - and very certainly never have I heard him sing better. Indeed, such was the popularity of Mademoiselle Lind, and of Belletti, and the additional attraction given to the concert by the presence of Signor Salvi, that considerably more than $6,500 were realized by it in the course of the day, putting into Mr. Raine's pocket the very handsome sum of $1,500 on his one night's speculation.

In this Concert Salvi sung, when he first appeared, the well-known duet from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore - "Voglio dire," with Belletti. Both singers delivered this exquisite duet charmingly, and the applause which was awarded them at once convinced us, how much the concerts would gain by the presence in them of such an artist. After this he gave a Cavatina of Verdis', and the favorite romance of "Spirto onde 1'alma," from the Favorita of Donizetti. Nothing could well have been more beautifully rendered than was this last. I have heard Mario sing it, and save that his voice is somewhat fresher, cannot prefer him to Salvi: and, indeed, he is the only tenor with whom this singer could be compared, at present, upon the Italian stage. Suffice it that it was rewarded with as warm an encore as I have ever heard given to a male singer in a concert room. In fact nothing could have been more triumphant than was his debut, and this must have amply satisfied Mr. Barnum of the good sense which suggested the engagement to him, and the wisdom which induced him to conclude it.

On the following morning we started on the river-road to Cincinnati in the Ben Franklin, the finest steamer next to the Magnolia which we had yet seen on the waters of Western America. The day was somewhat fresh, and a delicious, yet tolerably chilly breeze curled the surface of the Ohio, which was beginning to lose the muddiness of its complexion. As we sped along it, and when scarcely more than ten or fifteen miles above Louisville, we passed into a perpetual and changing panorama of the most lovely description. Two weeks later the scenery would have been glorious. As it was, winter was still lingering among the budding branches of the trees, and keeping back the leaf which in half a dozen more warm days would sheet them in emerald.

Here were a succession of small hills covered with the ash tree and the beech, and occasionally spotted with the Red Bud. There a long sweep of rising ground swept down to the river, broken short by the bluff which terminated it, and here rose a rough and jagged shelf of broken rocks, covered with turf and moss, from the uneven and swelling brow of brushwood that ran above one bank of the river. It was like a second Rhine, and to the full as lovely. It was unmarked with the tedious monotony that characterizes the long ranges of vine and vineyard which seam the sides of the Rhenish hillocks with the regularity of a staircase. But, in another fortnight, not a hill that would not be waving with foliage, and draped with a robe, which has not had much fashioning from the axe of man, or the shears of the market-gardener. It was true that it lacks the broken and shattered fortresses of those robber-chieftains, who, in the olden time, tenanted either side of the picturesque river of Northern Germany. To the White, it is not at present a river, the very murmur of whose flashing and rolling waves is pregnant with memories of story and of song. Here are no castles of "the brothers." Yon rocky hill is not a Rolandseck, nor is yonder rocky knoll a Greifenberg. And yet to one who needs a past to dream in, thought has but to bridge the lapse of the last one hundred and fifty years. It only needs one stride athwart the change which a century and half have made upon this vast continent, and a plunge into the life which was then busy in its forests and on its streams. Then the Red Man haunted those wild woods that swept down to the river's brink. They were his hunting grounds and his empire. On his own land he whetted his arrows for the chase, and ground his tomahawk for the war.

But then civilization came against him; and, is there no poetry to be traced in the results of that rapid and astounding progress which civilization has made?

The forests have been hewn through by the axe of the settler - roads have been constructed by his hands - the anvil and the forge have entered into the scene - the wigwam has been replaced by the town and the village - the canoe has shrunken from the waters, and the giant steamer has encroached upon them [N. B. where half a dozen Red Men were wont formerly to be drowned, a hundred or two of Whites are now blown up] - everywhere, has civilized man trodden upon the territories of the Indian. The remnants of the tribes of the Red Man are already adopting, or have adopted, the habits of the Whites: and this has occurred in less than two centuries - this, one of the greatest changes that has ever passed over the surface of the habitable earth. The very country that was owned by his fathers has been taken from the Indian. Those of his tribes who would not civilize have gradually been swept back, until stationary at length, they must either do so or be borne away.

It was about six in the evening when we finally arrived in Madison. This was a lovely place, calm and quiet as one of the ancient towns that nestle in the arms of the Old Father Rhine. It lay lapped among the green and grassy hills that circled it. A long and shelving gravelly bank swept down to the very edge of the Ohio, and a stray church spire or two rose amongst the roofs of the little town.

The concert room, however, it must fairly be confessed, was fixed in a location of the most unromantic class. A pork butcher's shed had been selected for it. This was sufficiently long, and sufficiently spacious, and sufficiently low to hold somewhere about eight hundred people, but to hold them very inconveniently. Nor, indeed, was the concert room the only annoyance. It seemed that Mr. Barnum had been induced to arrange pausing at Madison by a Mr. Wilson, who had purchased the concert of him for $5000, or who had, rather, arranged so to purchase it. This gentleman professed to have made no more than $3600 by the sale of the tickets, and professed his utter inability to pay more than this amount. It was so obvious from what Mr. Bushnell, who had been sent to Madison upon the Thursday, had seen, that this was not the case, that Mr. Barnum at once decided on quitting Madison without giving a concert at all. Mademoiselle Lind, however, interposed, and representing to him that the people were in no wise instrumental in this swindling transaction - and that, in all probability, this would be the only possibility she might have of being heard by them - and that she was prepared to sing - and, indeed, that she wished to sing - and, consequently, that she would sing - succeeded in overruling his determination, and singing that night in Madison.

1. Rosenberg notes that "The first ticket of [the first Louisville] concert was sold to Mr. Louis Trippe, at a premium of $100. More than one thousand tickets were sold at premiums ranging from one to nine dollars. The gross receipts of the concert as I understood were about $12,000." At a similar auction in Cincinnati, the highest bidder paid $575 for the first ticket.

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