|Shortly before Léotard’s arrival in England, the following article appeared in the Era (19 May 1861):
‘What will be thought when we say that there exists at the present day a man whose marvellous feats seem to have almost realised the inconceivable prodigy of vanquishing the laws of eccentric and concentric forces, who defies the laws of gravity, who hovers in the air like a bird, and supplies his want of wings by his elasticity of muscle … The feats of Leotard must be seen to be believed. The enthusiasm Leotard has called forth in Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg and Berlin is unprecedented; everyone is unanimous in dubbing him the flying man. Whether there is any exaggeration in these reports we are not in a position to decide, but fortunately we shall shortly be able to judge for ourselves, as daily advertisements in the morning papers and numerous posters all over London inform us that Leotard will (by consent of Mr. T. B. Simpson) appear on Whit Monday at the Alhambra and shortly afterwards at Cremorne.’
This was followed up a week later with a report on Leotard’s performance (26 May 1861):
‘No mere description can convey an idea of what he does during that intensely exciting half-hour. Literally throwing himself through the air at immense altitude, he gyrates as he goes, clings for a second to one of the intervening bars, and then projects himself twenty feet forward to the next bar, where he hangs by his feet and then turns backward somersaults through the air back to his original starting point, with no greater impetus beyond what is acquired from the oscillation of the ropes with which he swings himself onwards in his aerial progress. Nothing like it has been seen in England before … All who want a new sensation will be sure to number themselves among the Alhambra audience during his engagement, and whatever they may have previously seen in the way of proofs of physical courage and alacrity, they must be sure here of seeing greatly surpassed. It is emphatically one of these performances that once witnessed are never afterwards to be forgotten.’
[Quoted in Michael Diamond’s Victorian Sensation, London, 2003.]
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