Search Our New Beta Online Collections!

Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 13, page 230, September 13, 1860

<< Back to search results

View this document

From collection:Part of:

Identifier: DX02809760

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 13, page 230, September 13, 1860

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.



[Charles] Blondin’s Performances.

of it.

[newspaper clipping]

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 summits 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 delay 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 [sic], 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 displaying a suitable inscription, by which it was ascertained 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.

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 somersets, all of which the concourse surveyed with much interest. The spectators had apparently entire confidence in his ability.

He did not proceed to the latter pole in consequence 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 appeared (amateur-reporter for the Tribune, in place of [Harry] 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 Blondin 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

coverage:New York, New York, Cliff Street; Franklin Square; Pearl Street

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1860-09-13

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Amusements
Tightrope walking


| More

Disclaimer: We are working to create a web-based collection index. Information available through this website should be considered "draft only."