Parker House, Boston, 7 o’clock, a.m.
Saturday, April 15, 1865.
Edwin Booth, Esq.
My Dear Sir: A fearful calamity is upon us. The President of the United States has fallen by the hand of an assassin, and I am shocked to say suspicion points to one nearly related to you as the perpetrator of this horrid deed. God grant it may not prove so! With this knowledge, and out of respect to the anguish which will fill the public mind as soon as the appalling fact shall be fully revealed, I have concluded to close the Boston theatre until further notice. Please signify to me your co-operation in this matter.
In great sorrow, and in haste,
I remain, yours very truly,
Henry C. Jarrett.
Franklin Square, Boston, April 15,1865.
Henry C. Jarrett, Esq.
My Dear Sir: With deepest sorrow and great agitation, I thank you for relieving me from my engagement with yourself and the public. The news of the morning has made me wretched indeed, not only because I have received the unhappy tidings of the suspicions of a brother’s crime, but because a good man, and a most justly honoured and patriotic ruler, has fallen, in an hour of national joy, by the hand of an assassin. The memory of the thousands who have fallen in the field, in our country’s defence, during this struggle, cannot be forgotten by me, even in this, the most distressing day of my life. And I most sincerely pray that the victories we have already won may stay the brand of war and the tide of loyal blood. While mourning, in common with all other loyal hearts, the death of the President, I am oppressed by a private woe not to be expressed in words. But whatever calamity may befall me and mine, my country, one and indivisible, has my warmest devotion.
Life and Art of Edwin Booth by William Winter
I am amazed that at that time Edwin could pen such an elegant reply. What must have been going through his head. Writing was an art that we have sadly lost touch with.
Eloquent doesn’t do that piece justice. How he summoned all those thoughts about his family, the President and the sacrifices made by those in the field is astounding, given what he was going through in his personal Hell that had only just begun.
It is a masterful letter I have always been in awe of. I think the old radio drama, “You Are There,” in the 1947 episode on the assassination had the late Shakespearian actor, Richard Waring reciting an edited version of it, as tho he was being asked by a reporter to make a public statement. I hope I’;m correct about it being this letter. Regardless, if anyone has a copy of it, play it and listen to Waring’s moving portrayal of Edwin near end of the program..It’s readily available on CD on ebay. Just go to “Lincoln radio shows.”.There are some wonderful old Lincoln-related radio shows included..