From the New York Times, May 28, 1852:
"We remember, in a provincial town, seeing on a temporary stage a tall, lank, wizard-looking being, with long dark hair falling over his shoulders, and an eye and face expressing together the genius and the sensualist, eliciting thunders of applause from a numerous audience for his marvellous performances on the violin, which, in his think transparent, skeleton-like left hand, became at will a one-stringed or a twenty-stringed instrument, rising from its full natural tones to the softness and sweetness of the flageolet, or imitation the tinkling of the harp . . .
"This strange mixture of dross and gold was born at Genoa, the 18th February, 1784. His father, Antonio, and his mother, Teresa, were both dilletanti in music, and were not long in discerning in their youthful son a strong taste for the art they cultivated. To encourage this taste his mother had, or pretended to have, an angelic vision, and in the morning thus spake to him: "My son, thou shalt become a great musician; for an angel, radiant with beauty, appeared to me this night, and has listed to the prayer I made him. I prayed him that thou mayest become the first of violinists, and the angel has promised me it shall be so." From this time the study of the violin became his sole object, and it was not many years before he surprised and delighted the most eminent masters of that instrument with his compositions and performances."