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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 238

              [loose newspaper clipping]
                      BY ONE WHO KNEW HIM.
  �Why I thought Blondin had gone to Heaven long
ago,� I heard a man say in the train yesterday morn-
ing, as he read the brief paragraph announcing the
death of the famous King of the Rope.  On the con-
trary, he was very much alive, and had worked almost
to the last.  He was a genial old fellow, and I well recol-
lect his cheerful manner and his kindly hospitality when
I paid him a visit a few years ago.  At that time he was
living in St. John�s-wood, where everyone knew
Niagara Villa, as he called his house.  He was a model
of muscular compactness and symmetry, a Frenchman
to the bone, with small twinkling eyes, hair thin and
streaked with grey, a moustache, and a thick Imperial.
He was a very free and easy host, and received me on
this occasion in his shirt sleeves.
  �You see I am busy gardening; it is only the salt
of the earth (your Barnatos) who can dig and delve
with great diamond studs for shirt buttons.�  At that
time he was some sixty-five or more, and spurned the
notion of nerves.  �Feel the muscles of my fore arm
and my legs.  I am fat; I admit it.�  He then told me
that he had never had a fall, and only one accident.
He told me that the reason he never tumbled was
because of the marvellous strength of his fore-arm,
which enabled him to carry a balancing pole of great
weight.  But he also declared that it was beause he did
not want to tumble.
  The Chevalier was very proud of his house, and loved
to play he cicerone.  He had been a very Ulysses, and
had collected curios from India, Australia, North
America, and South America, which gave Niagara Villa
the appearance of a great museum.  He pointed (I re-
member) with pride to a well-stocked aviary, and as
we walked slowly through the rooms pointed with a
pro�s pleasure to the many photographs of himself in
the various acts which he performed.  There he was clad
in a suit of mail armour, there with a �masher� of
the period on his back, there crossing a dizzy height on
a bicycle again, blindfolded, walking on his head, cook-
ing an omelette on the tight rope (looking as much at
ease before his stove as the chef of the Reform Club in
his kitchen.)  There he was actually eating an omelette,
and washing it down with a glass of champagne.  The
hall was adorned with trophies and relics of the hon-
orable past.  In another room was a wonderful paint
ing of the scene at Niagara.  There was the foam, the
rope, the hero�a mere speck on the face of the canvas
�with an excited group, including the Prince of Wales,
awaiting his safe arrival.  The Chevalier then showed me
his wonderful collection of medals and his diplomas,
each with a history of its own.  Then he took me into
another room, whose walls were hung with more por-
traits of himself, of his wife (who had shared many a
danger with him), dusty wreaths, faded white               
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