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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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						213
	     Blondin s Performances.
of it.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
  BLONDIN AT JONES S WOOD. Upwards of three
thousand persons assembled, yesterday afternoon, to
witness the first ascent of this daring rope-walker in
New York.  The preparations consisted of two
poles, one 100, the other 205 feet high, from the sum-
mits of which was stretched a rope 1,000 feet long
and seven inches in circumference.  To this were
attached numerous ropes of  guys,  reaching at
wide angles to the ground, and many weights of
fifty-six pounds each suspended from the perilous
hempen path, both guys and weights serving the
purpose of steadying it.  Great difficulty had been
experienced in arranging and fastening these ropes,
in consequence of intervening trees, hence some de-
lay occurred, which the spectators bore with due
consideration and good nature.
  At 4:20 Blondin appeared, dressed in an Indian,
or rather Peruvian costume, comprising of a short,
close fitting tunic, gaily ornamented with beads,
tights, mocassins, and and a coronet of feathers.  He
wore his breast the gold medal presented to him
by the residents of Niagara, representing, on one
side, the feat it rewarded his carrying his agent
across the falls upon his back and the reverse dis-
playing a suitable inscription, by which it was as-
certained his real name Gravlet.  He is rather
short in stature, weighs 145 lbs., has light hair, a 
mustache and imperial, and a resolute, French
physiognomy.  His accent is very marked, and he
converses with great animation.

[newspaper clipping: second column]
  Being drawn up to the top of the lower mast, he
walked out bodily on the rope, holding a balancing
pole 20 feet long and 30 pounds in weight, at right
angles with his body.  After proceeding rapidly, but 
carefully, for some distance he seated himself, but
immediately arose and continued his journey.  There
was considerable wind stirring above the trees, which,
in connection with the imperfect fastening of the
ropes, rendered his progress a matter of some danger
and difficulty.
  He accomplished it, however, with perfect success,
pausing when within a hundred yards or so of the
taller pole to partially disrobe himself of his Indian
decorations and then to perform a variety of feats,
such as kneeling on the rope, reclining horizontally,
while imitating the action of swimming, suspending
himself by one arm, or with his head downwards,
swinging by the guys and turning numerous somer-
sets, all of which the concourse surveyed with much 
interest.  The spectators had apparently entire con-
fidence in his ability.
  He did not proceed to the latter pole in cones-
quence of the hazardous upward curve of the rope,
and the insecurity of the guys already alluded to.
After half an hour s gymnastics he retraced his
steps, walking backwards the entire distance, and
then slid down a rope to the ground, when a hearty
cheer from the spectators welcomed his safe return.
  He will repeat his entertainment on Friday of
next week.  Last night he started for Niagara, to
perform on Saturday before the Prince of Wales.

[Gunn s diary continued]
  I was talking with Blondin, previous to his
ascent, at the hotel, when Frank Wood ap-
peared (amateur-reporter for the Tribune, in place
of Neal to whom he was going to communicate
particulars), and Fontin, a Herald man.
We were together throughout the performance and
had wine at the house subsequently, when Blon-
din was dressing himself in his ordinary costume.
The man s face seemed set, intense and rigid,
as if each nerve had been braced to its extreme
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Thirteen: page two hundred and thirty
Description:Includes a newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York World,'' regarding a performance by tightrope walker Charles Blondin at Jones's Wood.
Date:1860-09-13
Subject:Blondin, Charles; Clothing and dress; Fontin; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Neal; New York world.; Tightrope walking; Wood, Frank
Coverage (City/State):New York, [New York]
Scan Date:2011-01-29

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Thirteen
Description:Includes descriptions of boarding house living, his freelance writing and drawing work, antics of New York literary Bohemians, Frank Cahill fleeing for England after spending money that was meant for ''The New York Picayune,'' visits to the Edwards family, the state of Charles Damoreau's marriage, a sailing excursion to Nyack with the Edwards family and other friends on the Fourth of July, a fight between Fitz James O'Brien and House at Pfaff's, witnessing a fire at Washington Market, the execution of pirate Albert Hicks on Bedloe's Island, an excursion aboard the ship Great Eastern, a vacation at Grafton with the Edwards family, his growing friendship with Sally Edwards, Lotty Granville's behavior with Brentnall and Hill at his boarding house, Frank Bellew's return to England, and visits to dance houses in the Fourth Ward with friends for an article.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Grafton, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.