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leading man reached Washington on the day of our meeting he was instantly invited. A journal of the proceedings of these hearty foregatherings would be unusually attractive reading. At one table Thaddeus Stevens would be found playing a game of whist with the Democratic Representative from Indiana, the venerable John Law; at another William Pitt Fessenden and Senator Nesmith, of Oregon. Speaker, now Vice-President Colfax, would be seen in the corner with his inevitable cigar, talking with Hon. Samuel J. Randall, the Democratic Representative from the First Pennsylvania district. In another recess George D. Prentice, of the Louisville Fournal, would be discussing politics with Joseph Medill, of the Chicago Tribune. The great portrait-painter, Elliott, would be engaged in artethics with Brady, the photographer; and so on through all the grades of sentiment and society.
One evening in particular I shall never forget, when William H. Russell, the famous correspondent of the London Times, was present. While we were singing the “Star-spangled Banner” (this was before we got rid of the peculiar institution), he joined in the chorus in a loud voice, singing “ America, the land of the free, and the home of the slave.” There were argumentations and discussions, but no quarreling. Another night, when nearly all the Cabinet were present, General Cameron, Secretary of War, startled the proprieties by taking bold ground in favor of arming the negroes. He was immediately answered by Hon. Caleb N. Smith, Secretary of the Interior, and the controversy became exceedingly animated, enlisting all the company, silencing the music, and creating a deal of consternation. Robert J. Walker, George D. Prentice, and several more par ticipated in the discussion, while Edwin M. Stanton, then a quiet practitioner of the law, stood by, a silent figure in the
Edwin Forrest was always one of us whenever he visited Washington, and, as I said in a former number, was the toast
and the star of the night. He gave liberally to the Union cause, without being a Republican. Though he did not unite with us when we sung "John Brown,” none could have been more graceful and ready in contributing to the general pleasure. One dramatic night I shall never forget. Forrest was in royal condition. He came early and stayed late. He seemed to be prepared to make every body happy. He needed no solicitation to display his varied stores of humor and of information : sketches of foreign travel ; photographs of Southern manners, alike of the master and the slave; his celebrated French criticism upon Shakespeare ; his imitation of the old clergyman of Charleston, South Carolina, who, deaf himself, believed every body else to be so; his thrilling account of his meeting with Edmund Kean, at Albany, when Forrest was a boy; his incidents of General Jackson ; his meeting with Lafayette at Richmond, in 1825. Few that heard him can ever forget that night. But nothing that he did will be remembered longer than the manner in which he recited “The Idiot Boy,” a production up to that time unknown to every body in the room except Forrest and myself, and to me only because I heard him repeat it seven years before, when I lived on Eighth Street, in the house lately known as the Waverley. These lines are so beautiful and so unique that I print them for the benefit of the readers of these hasty sketches.
To add to their present value, it may be interesting to say that the verses subjoined are taken from an autograph copy, forwarded to me yesterday by my dear friend Forrest himself, accompanied by the following note. The style of Mr. Forrest's writing is as clear, correct, and careful as it was twenty years ago:
“PHILADELPHIA, May 4, 1871. “MY DEAR FORNEY, I could not find the book that contains the little poem. I think friend Dougherty has it, and so I have written it from memory.
“The author, who is doubtless in Heaven, will, I trust, pardon all mistakes. Your friend,
EDWIN FORREST. “Colonel John W. FORNEY.
""THE IDIOT BOY.
A thing of idiot mind,
God had not been unkind.
“Old Sarah loved her helpless child,
Whom helplessness made dear;
Who knew no hope or fear.
Each half-articulate call,
And she to him was all.
« « And so for many a year they lived,
Nor knew a wish beside;
And she fell sick-and died.
He called her o'er and o'er;
The words to him no import bore.
While he stood wondering by,
He followed silently.
They sung the funeral stave;
He lingered by that grave.
Whene'er they saw poor Ned,
And not a word they said.
di They came and went and came again,
Till night at last came on;
Till every one had gone.
He swift removed the clay;
And bore it swift away.
And laid it on the floor,
He barred the cottage door.
And placed it in a chair ;
And made the kindling fire with care.
And in its wonted place,
Reflected in her face.
“And, pausing now, her hand would feel,
And then her face behold:
And why are you so cold ?”
His only friend to call;
In death restored him all.””
The picture of the Idiot Boy and his widowed mother, the broken voice and sobs of the son when the poor woman died and was followed to the grave by her witless child—if this grand picture could have been presented from the stage, it would have been even greater than his Lear or his Richelieu. I had Jefferson more than once as a visitor, and Davenport, and generous, true-hearted Murdoch.
But long before I was a tenant in the old Mills House it had a peculiar story of its own. It is one of the institutions of Washington. Occupied during the last hundred years by men of all shades of politics, there is hardly a room in it that has not a legend by which to be remembered. George Washington, John Marshall, and their contemporaries, have met and counseled within its walls, and the political leaders of a later period have successively gathered there. When I bade farewell, nothing seemed more saddening to me than to feel that I had probably left the old house forever, and yet, whenever business calls me back to the National Capital, I return to these ancient rooms as a son goes back to home and fireside. But there are so many more reminiscences connected with these reunions that I shall venture some other allusions to them in a future number.
[May 7, 1871.]
RUFUS CHOATE, of Massachusetts, must have been, in most of his qualities, very like the lamented George W. Barton, of Pennsylvania. Quick and impetuous of speech, wholly original in manner, abounding in rich and gorgeous imagery, he was also a melancholy man, and his keen, quick intellect wore out and wore through a nervous organization. It will be remembered that his great heart was severely wounded when Daniel Webster was defeated by General Scott for the Whig nomination for President at the Baltimore Convention in 1852, which he attended as a delegate from Massachusetts, and that from that hour his allegiance to his favorite party began to weaken, until 1856, when he took ground in favor of James Buchanan in his celebrated speech at Worcester—the effect of which will be recalled by the unforgotten sentence in which he called