Mr. Gottschalk’s return to America in February, 1862, was celebrated by a concert in Irving Hall, on the anniversary of his debut in New York. This was the beginning of another brilliant musical series, in pursuance of which he appeared in every prominent city of the country. While many found fault with Gottschalk for descending to pure “claptrap” and bravura playing, for using his great powers to merely superficial and unworthy ends, he seemed to retain as great a hold as ever over the masses of concert-goers. Gottschalk himself, with his epicurean, easy-going nature, laughed at the lectures read him by the critics and connoisseurs, who would have him follow out ideals for which he had no taste. It was like asking the butterfly to live the life of the bee. Great as were the gifts of the artist, it was not to be expected that these would be pursued in lines not consistent with the limitations of his temperament. Gottschalk appears to have had no desire except to amuse and delight the world, and to have been foreign to any loftier musical aspiration, if we may judge by his own recorded words. He passed through life as would a splendid wild singing-bird, making music because it was the law of his being, but never directing that talent with conscious energy to some purpose beyond itself.
In 1863 family misfortunes and severe illness of himself cooperated to make the year vacant of musical doings, but instantly he recovered he was engaged by M. Strakosch to give another series of concerts in the leading Eastern cities. Without attempting to linger over his career for the next two years, let us pass to his second expedition to the tropics in 1865. Four years were spent in South America, each country that he visited vieing with the other in doing him honor. Magnificent gifts were heaped on him by his enthusiastic Spanish-American admirers, and life was one continual ovation. In Peru he gave sixty concerts, and was presented with a costly decoration of gold, diamond, and pearl. In Chili the Government voted him a grand gold medal, which the board of public schools, the board of visitors of the hospitals, and the municipal government of Valparaiso supplemented