About Magnanimous-Incident Literature 333
of obligation, Mr. Lincoln wrote a genial little note to the actor expressing his pleasure at witnessing his performance. Mr. Hackett, in reply, sent a book of some sort; perhaps it was one of his own authorship. He also wrote several notes to the President. One night, quite late, when the episode had passed out of my mind, I went to the White House in answer to a message. Passing into the President's office, I noticed, to my surprise, Hackett sitting in the anteroom as if waiting for an audience. The President asked me if any one was outside. On being told, he said, half sadly, " Oh, I can't see him, I can't see him; I was in hopes he had gone away." Then he added, "Now this just illustrates the difficulty of having pleasant friends and acquaintances in this place. You know how I liked Hackett as an actor, and how I wrote to tell him so. He sent me that book, and there I thought the matter would end. He is a master of his place in the profession, I suppose, and well fixed in it; but just because we had a little friendly correspondence, such as any two men might have, he wants something. What do you suppose he wants ? " I could not guess, and Mr. Lincoln added, "Well, he wants to be consul to London. Oh, dear!"
I will observe, in conclusion, that the William Ferguson incident occurred, and within my personal knowledge— though I have changed the nature of the details, to keep William from recognizing himself in it.
All the readers of this article have in some sweet and gushing hour of their lives played the role of Magnanimous-Incident hero. I wish I knew how many there are among them who are willing to talk about that episode and like to be reminded of the consequences that flowed from it.