Friday, March 10, 2017

Diary of John Hay: December 13, 1863

The President, speaking to-day about Missouri matters, said he had heard some things of Schofield which had very much displeased him: — That while Washburne was in Missouri, he saw or thought he saw that Schofield was working rather energetically in the politics of the State, and that he approached Schofield and proposed that he should use his influence to harmonize the conflicting elements so as to elect one of each wing, Gratz Brown and Henderson. Schofield’s reply was that he would not consent to the election of Gratz Brown.

Again when Gratz Brown was about coming to Washington, he sent a friend to Schofiled to say that he would not oppose his confirmation, if he (S.) would, so far as his influence extended, agree to a Convention of Missouri to make necessary alterations in her State Constitution. Schofield’s reply, as reported by Brown to the President was that he would not consent to a State Convention. These things, the President says, are obviously transcendent of his instructions and must not be permitted. He has sent for Schofiled to come to Washington and explain these grave matters.

The President is inclined to put Rosecrans in Schofield’s place, and to give to Gen. Curtis the Department of Kansas. But Halleck and Stanton stand in his way, and he has to use the strong hand so often with those impractical gentlemen that he avoids it when he can.

To-night Hackett arrived and spent the evening with the President. The conversation at first took a professional turn, the President showing a very intimate knowledge of those plays of Shakespeare where Falstaff figures. He was particularly anxious to know why one of the best scenes in the play — that where Falstaff and Prince Hal alternately assume the character of the king — is omitted in the representation. Hackett says it is admirable to read, but ineffective on stage; — that there is generally nothing sufficiently distinctive about the actor who plays Henry to make an imitation striking.

Hackett plays with stuffing of india-rubber; — says Shakespeare refers to it when he says: “How now! blown Jack!” Hackett is a very amusing and garrulous talker. He had some good reminiscences of Houston, Crockett (the former he admires, the latter he thinks a dull man), McCarty and Prentiss. . . .

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 139-40; For the whole diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 137-9.

No comments: