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Jenny Lind: The Swedish Nightingale
by [?]

At her first appearance in Robert le Diable, the welcome was almost a frenzy of enthusiasm as her clear rich voice rang out. At once she received an offer from a Danish manager, but dreaded to accept it, saying, “Everybody in my native land is so kind. I fear if I made my appearance in Copenhagen, I should be hissed. I dare not venture it.”

Her objection, however, was overruled. She went to Copenhagen and sang Alice in Robert le Diable so marvellously that the whole city was in a state of rapture, and it is said the youthful, fresh voice forced itself into every heart. At a later concert she sang Swedish songs and in her manner of singing them there was something so peculiar, so bewitching that the audience were swayed by intense emotion, the young singer was at once so feminine and so great a genius. The Danish students for the first time in their history, gave a serenade in her honour, torches blazed around the villa where the serenade was sung, and Jenny responded to it by singing some of her Swedish songs, for which she was famous, then, overcome with emotion, she hurried to a dark room where no one could see the tears with which her eyes were filled, and exclaimed modestly, “Yes, yes, I will exert myself. I will endeavour. I will be better qualified than I now am when I again come to Copenhagen!”

The wonderful courage and perseverance of Jenny’s girlhood in the face of almost insuperable obstacles was now rewarded. She was the great artist of Sweden, never again to be taken from the pedestal on which she was placed by an adoring public, both for her wonderful singing and for her lovely character.

Once on a disengaged night, she gave a benefit performance for unfortunate children, and when informed of the large sum raised by it, exclaimed, “How beautiful that I can sing so!” She felt that both the voice and the money which poured in now in a golden flood, were God-given responsibilities which she assumed with all the earnestness of her sweet, religious nature, and her first pleasure was to buy a little home in the country for her mother and father.

As we leave her on the threshold of mature womanhood, serene in her poise of body and spirit, with a noble purpose and a wonderful gift, we can but feel that Jenny Lind, the girl, was responsible for the marvellous achievements of the great artist of later years, who believed as she said, that “to develop every talent, however small, and use it to the fullest extent possible, is the duty of every human being. Indolence makes thousands of mediocre lives.”

The verses written of her by Topelius of Finland sum up the feeling of those who knew her in her girlhood:

“I saw thee once, so young and fair
In thy sweet spring-tide, long ago,
A myrtle wreath was in thy hair
And at thy breast a rose did blow.

“Poor was thy purse, yet gold thy gift,
All music’s golden boons were thine,
And yet, through all the wealth of art
It was thy soul which sang to mine.

“Yea, sang as no one else has sung
So subtly skilled, so simply good,
So brilliant! yet as pure and true
As birds that warble in the wood.”