When Mlle. Lind arrived in London, she was received by her friend Mrs. Grote, wife of the great historian, and for several weeks was her guest, the most distinguished men and women calling to pay their respects to the gifted singer. She secluded herself, however, as much as possible from general society, and it may be said, during the larger part of her London engagement, lived in seclusion, much to the disgust of the social celebrities who were eager to lionize her. Lablache, the basso, was one of the first to hear Jenny sing. His pleasant criticism, “Every note was like a perfect pearl,” got to her ears. The naive and charming jest by which she made her acknowledgment is quite worth the repeating. Stepping to the side of Lablache one morning at rehearsal, she made a courtesy, and borrowed his hat from the smiling basso. She then placed her lips to the edge and sang into its capacious depths a beautiful French romance. At the conclusion of the song, she ordered Lablache, who was bewildered by this fantastic performance, to kneel before her, as she had a valuable present for him, declaring that on his own showing she was giving him a hatful of “pearls.” Lablache was so delighted by this simple and innocent gayety that he avowed he could not be more pleased if she had given him a hatful of diamonds.
Mr. Lumley had prepared the English public for the coming of Mlle. Lind with consummate skill. The game of suspense was artfully managed to stir curiosity to the uttermost. The provocations of doubt and disappointment had been made to stimulate the musical appetite. There was a powerful opposition to Lumley at the other theatre—Grisi, Persiani, Alboni, Mario, and Tamburini—and the shrewd impressario played all the cards in his hand for their full value. It had been asserted that Mlle. Lind would not come to England, and that no argument could prevail on her to change her resolution, and this, too, after the contract was signed, sealed, and delivered. The opera world was kept fevered by such artifices as stories of broken pledges, long diplomatic pour parlera, special messengers, hesitation, and vacillation, kept up during many months. Lumley in his “Reminiscences” has described how no stone was left unturned, not a trait of the young singer’s character, public or private, left un-exploite, by which sympathy and admiration could be aroused. After appearing as the heroine of one of Miss Bremer’s novels, “The Home,” the splendors of her succeeding career were glowingly set forth. The panegyrics of the two great German composers, Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer, were swollen into the most flowing language. All the secrets of Jenny Land’s life were made the subjects of innumerable puffs by the paragraph makers, and her numerous deeds of charity were trumpeted in clarion tones, as if she, a member of a profession famous for its deeds of unostentatious kindness, were the only one who had the right to wear the lovely crown of mercy and beneficence. All this machinery of advertisement, though wofully opposed to all the instincts of Jenny Lind’s modest and timid nature, had the effect of fixing the popular belief into a firm faith that what had cost so much trouble to secure must indeed be unspeakably precious.