In March, 1864, Edwin Forrest
came to Washington
to fulfil an engagement at Ford
It was announced one day that he was to appear that evening in “Richelieu
I was with the President
, when Senator Harris
of New York came in. After he had finished his business, which was to secure the remittance of the sentence of one of his constituents, who had been imprisoned on what seemed insufficient grounds, I told the President
was to play Richelieu
that evening, and, knowing his tastes, I said it was a play which I thought he would enjoy, for Forrest
's representation of it was the most life-like of anything I had ever seen upon the stage.
“Who wrote the play?”
said he. “Bulwer
,” I replied.
he rejoined; “well, I knew Bulwer
wrote novels, but I did not know he was a play-writer also.
may seem somewhat strange to say,” he continued, “but I never read an entire novel in my life!”
Said Judge Harris
, “Is it possible?”
“Yes,” returned the President
, “it is a fact.
I once commenced ‘Ivanhoe,’ but never finished it.”
This statement, in this age of the world, seems almost incredible — but I give the circumstance as it occurred.
However it may have been with regard to novels, it is very certain — as I have already illustrated — that he found time to read Shakspeare
; and that he was also fond of certain kinds of poetry.
N. P. Willis
once told me, that he was taken quite by surprise, on a certain occasion when he was riding with the President
and Mrs. Lincoln
, by Mr. Lincoln
, of his own accord, referring to, and quoting several lines from his poem entitled “Parrhasius
In the spring of 1862, the President
spent several days at Fortress Monroe
, awaiting military operations upon the Peninsula
As a portion of the Cabinet
were with him, that was temporarily the seat of government, and he bore with him constantly the burden of public affairs.
His favorite diversion was reading Shakspeare
One day (it chanced to be the day before the capture of Norfolk
) as he sat reading alone, he called to his aide1
in the adjoining room,--“You have been writing long enough, Colonel
; come in here; I
want to read you a passage in ‘Hamlet.’
” He read the discussion on ambition between Hamlet and his courtiers, and the soliloquy, in which conscience debates of a future state.
This was followed by passages from “MacBETHeth
Then opening to “King John,” he read from the third act the passage in which Constance bewails her imprisoned, lost boy.
Closing the book, and recalling the words,--
And, father cardinal, I have heard you say Mr. Lincoln
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven:
If that be true, I shall see my boy again,--
, did you ever dream of a lost friend, and feel that you were holding sweet communion with that friend, and yet have a sad consciousness that it was not a reality?--just so I dream of my boy Willie.”
Overcome with emotion, he dropped his head on the table, and sobbed aloud.