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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 14, page 11, September 28, 1860

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Identifier: DX01302648

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 14, page 11, September 28, 1860

Description: Describes witnessing tightrope walker Charles Blondin perform.



[Charles] Blondin’s Performance.

28. Friday. Office and to the “Courier” one; anon to [Jesse] Haney’s, where I saw him and Mr. [George] Edwards, gave the latter tickets to Blondin’s exhibition, and sent the opera ones to Sally [Edwards]. It was her turn. Haney had to go to Newark, so couldn’t to Jones’ Wood. At F. Leslie’s met [John] Watson the ex-engraver and saw J. A. Wood. Up town. Chores. To Palace Garden by 3 1/2, then by 3rd avenue car to Jones’ Wood. Met Colcord at the entrance. Was talking to little Coppia, the aeronaut, about his balloon, when [James] Parton and Mort Thomson appeared. With them awhile, and subsequently with Parton, losing Thomson once or twice in the crowd, which rushed-together, to witness the ascent. Here’s the detail of it.

[newspaper clipping]


Blondin’s third exhibition took place yesterday afternoon, when an audience of perhaps a thousand persons were present within the grounds, and fifteen hundred without, for, unfortunately and unfairly for the ingenious Frenchman’s pocket, it has been discovered that the northern border affords an excellent gratuitous view of the entire performance, of which curious and unpecunious citizens were not slow in availing themselves. Those who did pay constituted an eminently respectable and even fashionable assemblage, many private carriages thronged with ladies being present. In pursuance of his plan of heightening the attraction of each successive performance, Blondin yesterday undertook to wheel his barrow from pole to pole, over a space of a thousand feet of rope.

At 4:50 he appeared in his carriage, bareheaded, and dressed in a close-fitting green tunic, tights, and shoes. Being driven to the bottom of the shorter pole, he mounted quickly by means of the ladder to its summit, and then, taking his pole in both hands, walked out briskly upon the rope, the band playing all the time. When he had progressed about five hundred yards, he stood upon his head, turned a somerset–a feat which only the happy ignorance of the spectators enables them to contemplate with the complacency they display—extended himself, face upwards, at full length upon the rope, allowed his arms and legs to hang downward while in that position, dangled them to and fro, recovered himself suddenly, stood erect, and continued his journey. Presently he was seen sitting sideways, anon proceeding at rapid dancing pace towards the farther pole. He slackened his speed, however, as he approached it for the wind was evidently blowing fiercely. At ten minutes to five he reached the pole, having occupied about fifteen in the transit. He returned almost immediately in a more rapid manner, sometimes verging on a run. Then, without resting, he immediately prepared himself for the barrow performance.

The barrow is composed of thin wood, of ornamental shape, painted and gilded. With the handles fastened on either side of him, a little below his waist, and holding his balance pole as before, he re-

coverage:New York, New York
coverage:Newark, New Jersey

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1860-09-28

Type(s): Diary

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

Subjects: Diaries
Tightrope walking


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