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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 377

updated
Saturday, 4 December 2004

Robinson's British Cornet Band
take part in Cooper, Bailey & Co's
mammoth pageant and circus,
at the Capitoline Grounds, Brooklyn, New York,
week beginning Monday, 3 May 1880

Robinson's British Cornet Band

Robinson's British Cornet Band and London Orchestra

standing, left to right: Edward Marsden, flute and horn; Charles F. Spalding, double drums, &c.
seated, left to right: Professor J. Rowe, tuba and double bass; Professor J.S. Robinson, leader, violin and cornet;
John Walsh, solo cornet

(photo: Cowell's, New Haven, Connecticut, 1872)

'The London Show.
'An Overwhelming Crowd at the Capitoline - The Great Circus in Brooklyn. Over 18,000 Visitors Yesterday.
'The great London show of Cooper, Bailey & Co. has fairly taken the city by storm, and their visit promises to be the most successful of the kind which has ever been made to Brooklyn. Although following so closely in the tracks of the Barnum circus, public curiosity only seems to have been intensified, and the public verdict is already pronounced that the greatest showman of the world [i.e. P.T. Barnum] has at last been outdone by the present combination. The magnificent pageant of Monday night drew universal attention to the show, and it was only to be expected that the Capitoline Grounds, where the company have spread their tents, would prove the most interesting spot in Brooklyn during the present week. That such will be the case was fully demonstrated yesterday afternoon, when business began in earnest. For nearly two hours there was a steady stream of humanity, representing all classes in the community and all ages, pouring toward the objective point, and every car going in that direction was crowded to its utmost capacity. The weather could not have been more perfect, the heavens smiling much more auspiciously than they did last week. Owing to the perfection of the system which prevails in every department of the mammoth shows, the masses of people quickly disappeared beneath the acres of canvas until every seat in the vast space was occupied, and only standing room remained. In accordance with the rule to prevent overcrowding, the sale of tickets was stopped soon after the performance began, and hundreds of visitors were obliged to postpone their anticipated enjoyment.
'The Arrangements are much the same as prevailed last week. The principal tent is gigantic in size, being 270 feet long by 186 wide, and it can seat 8,000 people. There are two spacious equestrian rings, both of which are visible from every point beneath the canvas. The interior is most handsomely decorated with flags and bunting. A dressing tent 50 feet in diameter is at one side, with a wide opening to the main tent. The dressing tent is divided into two parts, one for the horses and riders, and the other for the performers. The menagerie [i.e. Sanger's Royal British Menagerie] occupies the second largest tent, covering an area of 260 by 110 feet. The third tent is for the hay feeding animals. The visitor first enters this tent, and for a few moments can find much interest and pleasure in inspecting the fine collection of animals, embracing camels, mules, ponies, elephants and trained oxen. From this he passes directly to the menagerie, which is, in many respects, the finest ever exhibited in this country. There are forty cages of animals, the collection of lions and tigers being especially good. It is here that the visitor finds the grand and unique feature of the show, the baby elephant, Columbia, and its mother, Hebe. A large space roped in in the centre of the pavilion, is devoted to Hebe and the baby, with whom is also a fine Dalmatian coach dog. The trio form a very happy family, and prove a never failing source of interest to the visitors. The mother elephant, majestic in size, is chained to the floor, but baby wanders around the inclosure at its own sweet will. The baby is rapidly increasing in size and weight. When born, on March 10, in Philadelphia, it weighed 213 ½ pounds, and its height was 34 ½ inches. It now weighs 255 pounds and is a few inches taller. It is a perfect miniature copy of the mother, and is as sportive and playful as a kitten. It has the same frisky manner that all young animals seem to be possessed of, and the affection of the mother is wonderfully marked. Nothing could exceed her gentleness to baby. The habits of the juvenile elephant set at defiance all the theories on the subject. It nurses with its mouth instead of its trunk, as commonly taught by the authorities. The visitors do not seem to tire in looking at the baby and its mother, who are undoubtedly the great drawing cards of the show, presenting as they do, something entirely novel and remarkable. On either side of the inclosure at the magnificent chariots which were such conspicuous features in the procession on Monday night.
'The programme of the entertainment in the big tent is the most varied and in many respects the best which any circus company has ever presented. Although the great London Circus and the great International Circus are united, separate performances are given by each, in the two rings, and at the same time, the former occupying the ring nearest the entrance from the menagerie and the latter the more remote. Six powerful electric lights illumine the tent, giving a soft but brilliant light. This light is manufactured by Mr. M. F. Sherman, the electrician of the combination. For three hours the visitor is fairly bewildered by the quick succession of startling and picturesque spectacles presented in both rings simultaneously. The striking characteristic of the performance is the absolute perfection with which the minutest act is done. He must be a true artist in his business to secure a place in the great London show. The entire programme is divided into two parts, in each of which there are what are styled nine acts. There are, however, in reality, thirty-six acts in all, owing to the separate performances in each ring. Robinson's British cornet band introduce the entertainment with an overture of five airs, and then follow the grand entrée and spectacular march by the combination companies, introducing many new features, elephants, camels, Lillipution ponies, banner bearing footmen and gaily dressed ladies. The spectacle was brilliant in the extreme, and the vast audience showed their appreciation by loud applause. The third act introduces in one ring six full grown performing elephants and in the other small elephants, under the respective management of their trainers, Messrs. Arstingstall and Johnston. The intelligence of these animals has evidently been cultivated to the finest possible point, and it was remarkable to witness how they followed the orders of their masters. They marched in single and double file, saluted the audience with their trunks, and even moved their immense bodies to the music of the waltz. They showed in every respect the same capacity for being trained as the famous Bronco horses, and went through the same performance as the latter were occasioned to do. The next treat was the ground and lofty tumbling of the London band of athletes, let by James Murray, the English champion, and athletic sports of the arena by the Internationals, let by Fred Runnells, the American champion athlete. The fifth act was devoted to equestrianism, in which William Dutton and Charles W. Fish appeared. During the intervals between their daring feats of horsemanship Johnny Patterson, the Irish clown, made plenty of fun for the audience, whose enthusiasm he also aroused by singing in fine style a favorite Irish ballad. And so the show continued for three hours, other features of the programme, in addition to many wonderful equestrian performances, in which Madame Cordona, Lina Jeal, Geronima Bell, W. O'Dale, Sevens and Charles W. Fish too part, being feats of strength, startling aerial performances by the French troupe Devene and the Lawrence Sisters; juggling on the floating wire by Miss Jeal and juggling feats by the Japanese prince; the leap for life through the fire hoop by Miss Jeal, etc. In the fourteenth act the baby elephant and its mother are introduced. The programme was brought to a close with battoute leaping by the entire double company, led by the champion, William H. Batchelor, who threw a double forward somersault over eight elephants, one being elevated upon pedestals. It was estimated that fully 9,000 persons witnesses the performance yesterday afternoon, and in the evening the number was even larger.
'The manner in which the mammoth show is managed shows that brains and good judgment are employed, for there was no disorder of any kind and things moved as smoothly as on the stage of a first class theatre. The visitors were treated most courteously, and there was not the slightest rudeness manifested. There was a large force of police on the grounds under the command of Captain McLaughlin, of the Ninth Precinct, and the detective squad was also well represented. The light fingered gentry, if any were present, seem to have been aware of this fact, for not a single case of robbery has been reported. Superintendent Campbell will co-operate with the managers of the show in giving abundant police protection in this respect during the week.
'The gigantic character of this show may be judge by the fact that attached to it are 265 horses and over 250 employes. The proprietors are Messrs. Cooper, Bailey & Co., and the officers are Henry Barnum, Assistant Manager; Merritt Young, Treasurer; Nathaniel Austin, Equestrian Director; John J. Parkes, Superintendent of Privileges; Bryan Rose, Master of Transportation; L.M. Hedges, General Superintendent of Menagerie; Homer Silvie, Boss Canvasman; Messrs. John Hamilton, Crowley and Durand, press agents; J.L. Fuller, Advance Agent, and Ch. W. Fuller, Railroad Contractor.
'The show will continue throughout the week and two performances will be given daily. On Thursday morning there will be a grand parade in Williamsburgh, the start to be from the grounds at 9 o'clock. The Eastern District people felt a little jealous that the pageant on Monday night was confined to this part of the city, and the parade on Thursday is for their special benefit. The route will be through Grand street, Broadway and Fourth street.'
(The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, Wednesday, 5 May 1880, p.3a)

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