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Lincoln and his cane?
08-09-2017, 12:25 PM
Post: #31
RE: Lincoln and his cane?
(08-08-2017 07:29 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Thanks David - I now remember this and that I found it a remarkable statement. A self-carved stick with hidden practical features would match a boy (of every age), and what an un-fashy fashion association -
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/4...-merrilies

In the way that the story was told, I had assumed that Meg Merrilies was an actress that President Lincoln had seen in a play and not a subject of poetry by John Keats. So, I did a bit more research and found out that the poem was in a letter that Keats wrote to his sister.

Letter To Fanny Keats (his sister)

I will endeavour to get rid of my prejudices and tell you fairly about the Scotch.

[Dumfries, July 2nd, 1818.]

In Devonshire they say, “Well, where be ye going?” Here it is, “How is it wi’ yoursel?” A man on the Coach said the horses took a Hellish heap o’ drivin’; the same fellow pointed out Burns’s Tomb with a deal of life—“There de ye see it, amang the trees—white, wi’ a roond tap?”

Yesterday was an immense Horse-fair at Dumfries, so that we met numbers of men and women on the road, the women nearly all barefoot, with their shoes and clean stockings in hand, ready to put on and look smart in the Towns. There are plenty of wretched cottages whose smoke has no outlet but by the door. We have now begun upon Whisky, called here Whuskey,—very smart stuff it is. Mixed like our liquors, with sugar and water, ’tis called toddy; very pretty drink, and much praised by Burns.

Yesterday we visited Burns’s Tomb and this morning the fine Ruins of Lincluden.

[Auchencairn, same day, July 2.]

I had done thus far when my coat came back fortified at all points—so as we lose no time we set forth again through Galloway—all very pleasant and pretty with no fatigue when one is used to it—We are in the midst of Meg Merrilies’s country of whom I suppose you have heard.

Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
And liv’d upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.

If you like these sort of Ballads I will now and then scribble one for you—if I send any to Tom I’ll tell him to send them to you.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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08-11-2017, 11:32 PM (This post was last modified: 08-11-2017 11:52 PM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #32
RE: Lincoln and his cane?
Has anyone else noticed that the last portion of Carpenter's story is illogical?

"Have you ever noticed how a stick in one's hand will change his appearance? Old women and witches wouldn't look so without sticks. Meg Merrilies understands that." (Six Months at the White House," F.B. Carpenter, 1879, page 256.)

I believe that Carpenter should have written: "The great actress Charlotte Cushman, playing the role of Meg Merrilies, understands that."

Note: The attached file is a Brady photograph of Charlotte Cushman in the role of Meg Merrilies. See Wikipedia - Charlotte Cushman - for a larger image.


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"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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08-13-2017, 01:57 PM
Post: #33
RE: Lincoln and his cane?
My previous post brings up an important point about the accuracy of historical quotations and stories relating to Lincoln. How do we know how accurate these quotations and stories are? This question applies even to honest and well-meaning sources of the time such as I consider F.B. Carpenter to be.

The John Keats' ballad to which Eva Elisabeth provided a hyperlink makes no mention of a stick being used by Meg Merrilies. This was a stage prop (as shown by the Brady photograph) used by one of the great actresses of Lincoln's time, Charlotte Cushman.

And, why, you may ask, do I believe specifically that the actress in question was Charlotte Cushman?

The source authority that I cite is Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book "Team of Rivals" at pages 610-611: "Seward and Miss Cushman had met in the 1850's and become great friends. When ever she was in Washington, she stayed at the Seward home. . . . Fred Seward recalled that Lincoln made his way to their house almost every night while Miss Cushman visited. Seward had introduced Cushman to the president in the summer of 1861."

I could not find a specific reference as to when President Lincoln saw her perform in the role but obviously the Brady photograph does prove that she did play this role in Washington DC.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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08-13-2017, 03:49 PM
Post: #34
RE: Lincoln and his cane?
(08-13-2017 01:57 PM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  I could not find a specific reference as to when President Lincoln saw her perform in the role but obviously the Brady photograph does prove that she did play this role in Washington DC.

David, I tried to find that Abraham Lincoln saw Charlotte Cushman in her most famous role as Meg Merrilies (in Guy Mannering), but so far I am drawing a blank. I checked Tom Bogar's American Presidents Attend the Theatre and found that President Grant saw her in this role on March 7, 1873, at Wall's Opera House in Washington. As far as I can tell, Lincoln saw Cushman at Grover's Theatre in a performance of Macbeth on October 17, 1863. So far I have not been able to find that he ever saw her as Meg Merrilies. As you correctly say, she did perform in this role in Washington (probably many times), but I cannot find that Lincoln ever was in attendance to see her in that particular role.
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