« PreviousContinue »
DESCRIPTION OF FORD'S THEATRE.
Ford's Theatre is situated on Tenth street, just above E street, in Washington. It is a large edifice, constructed of brick, and of plain appearance. Its internal arrangements are somewhat novel, differing from those in our large cities. There are eight private boxes instead of six, as is the case in the Philadelphia theatres. The four lower boxes, two on each side of the stage, are scarcely more than loopholes, and are very excellent points from which those who wish to see and remain unseen may take inspection. The apertures which appear above the stage are about three feet square. Consequently the boxes immediately above them are elevated but a short distance above the stage, a distance which any one could easily leap, even were his nerves not freshly braced from the commission of a murder.
The four upper boxes are the boxes of the theatre, and are very elegant and spacious. They give a tone of elegance to the auditorium, and are sumptuously appointed. It is in them that the most magnificent displays of toilette are made upon nights of opera, and that at once command the whole house, and are central points of inspection from it. Each accommodates quite a party, and the locale is so arranged that the greater portion of the occupants, except those in the back of the box, are in full view of the audience.
The box which the President occupied, and which was known as "THE PRESIDENT'S Box," consisted of the two upper boxes on the right hand side of the house as you face the stage, thrown into one. Mr. Lincoln was always accompanied by a party, which, although limited to personal friends and foreign officials, to whom courtesy required the extension of an invitation, was always sufficiently large to render more than one box necessary for comfort.
The proprietor of the theatre had, therefore, at the commencement of the season, made arrangements by which these two boxes could at any time be thrown into one. They were fitted up with great elegance and taste. The curtains were of fine lace and buff satin, the paper dark and figured, the carpet Turkey, the seats velvet, and the exterior ornamentations were lit up with a chaste chandelier suspended from the outside. A winding staircase leads up to the lobbies which conduct to the box, and unless the arrangements are more stringent than they used to be, no decently dressed person would find much difficulty, probably, in entering one of these boxes after they had once been opened for the ingress of the party using them.
The parquet consists of cane-seat chairs, rising in very gradual elevation, so that even the most distant observers obtain a fair view of the stage, and the entire parquette on an opera night, viewed from the stage or private boxes, resembles an exquisitely variegated parterre. The first tier or balcony is very commodious, and opens into a retiring-saloon, elegantly illuminated and appointed. A second tier, corresponding to the family circle, completed the portion of the house dedicated to the accommodation of the audience. The house would hold probably between two and three thousand people.
There are two alleys at Ford's Theatre. One leads from the stage, along the east side of the theatre, between the theatre and a refreshment saloon, and so out to Tenth street. The alley is neatly paved, and is boarded and papered on both sides. The entry to it from the stage is through a glass door, and the exit from it on to Tenth street through a wooden one.
The other passage-way leads from the back of the theatre to a small alley which communicates with Ninth and other streets, and conducts to a livery-stable locality.
It was in this alley that the horse of the murderer was kept waiting.
The Tenth street door would have been too public, and escape, even temporary, a matter of impossibility. But the escape by the alley leading from the back of the stage was comparatively safe.
There are two doors there, one used for the egress and ingress of the actors, and the other devoted to the accommodation of scenery and machinery. It was through the smaller one that the assassin made his exit.
In Cabinet Council it was determined that Wednesday, the 19th of April, 1865, should be devoted to the obsequies at the Capital, and acting Secretary of State, MR. HUNTER, issued the following dispatch to the people of the United States:
"TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES:-The undersigned is directed to announce that the funeral ceremonies of the late lamented Chief Magistrate will take place at the Executive Mansion, in this city, at 12 o'clock noon, on Wednesday, the 19th inst. The various religious denominations throughout the country are invited to meet in their respective places of worship at that hour, for the purpose of solemnizing this occasion with appropriate ceremonies.
Acting Secretary of State. "Department of State, Washington, April 17th, 1865."
Tuesday, April 18th, was set apart for the citizens of Washington to visit the remains lying in state at the White House, and fully twenty thousand persons, irrespective of rank or color, looked upon the face of the dead President, and passed out with eyes weeping and hearts overburdened with grief.
Wednesday, April 19th, dawned with a clear sky and a genial sun. Washington was in the deepest mourning.
All the stores were closed as they had been since the assassination. Sadness was depicted on every countenance, and soon the streets were thronged with military, societies, and citizens, wending their way to Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House. All the public buildings. were draped in black, and every house in the city hung out the sombre crape.
At ten o'clock those invited to attend the funeral ceremonies in the White House began to assemble, while all the avenues leading to it were crowded with the military forming for procession, and the sidewalks were blockaded with an anxious and orderly multitude of spectators.
THE SCENES AT THE WHITE HOUSE.
By 10.30 it was almost impossible to wend one's way to the White House. None were admitted except by cards, which were inscribed as follows:
In the centre of the East Room was the catafalque. Around the coffin was a large wreath of white camelias, orange blossoms, and evergreens. At the feet was a beautiful anchor, of choicest flowers, sent by Hon. Mrs. Sperry, of Connecticut; at the head was a cross of white camelias, and the delicate white exotics which, with a basket of flowers, was the present of Mrs. James H. Orne, of Philadelphia. A number of wreaths were scattered around in profusion.
Upon the centre, east side of the catafalque, was the
PRESIDENT AND CABINET.
Upon their right was the
THE ASSISTANT SECRETARIES.
GOVERNORS OF STATES AND TERRITORIES.
THE ARMY AND NAVY.
THE NEW YORK DELEGATION.
Upon the left of the President were the
MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Upon the west side were the Press; upon the south side, and at the foot of the catafalque, were the family of Mr. Lincoln.
The guard of honor, consisting of Major-General Hunter and Brigadier-General Dyer, marched in silence to and fro. The lilies, the orange blossoms, and the choicest of flowers that decked the corpse filled the room with the sweetest fragrance. The windows, shrouded with crape, kept out the light, and made the gloom, that all felt, seem like being in a living tomb!
The echoes of the funeral dirges in the distance seemed like the terrible murmur of the avenging God's wrath at the impiety of the awful crime that brought all here as mourners. As the various delegations came in they quietly took the places assigned them. Not a word was spoken loudly. Whispers faint, as though the loved one was sleeping after his weary troubles and all feared to wake him, were the only noises that marred the death-like stillness of the room, which had been the scene of two similar services. First, over the body of William Henry