The announcement of Hawthorne’s death caused a feeling of deep sadness in all parts of the Union. His body was taken to Concord for burial, and was accompanied to the grave by the best and most gifted of the land, to each of whom he had endeared himself in life.
There are many persons who remember the elder Booth, the “Great Booth,” as he was called, in his palmy days, when the bare announcement of his name was sufficient to cram our old-fashioned theaters from pit to dome. He was sublime in the stormy passions which he delineated, and never failed to draw down from the gods of the gallery the uproarious yells with which they testify their approval; even the more dignified occupants of the boxes found themselves breaking into outbursts of applause which they were powerless to restrain. He was a favorite with all classes, and a deserved one, and the lovers of the drama looked forward with genuine regret to the period when he should be no longer with them. They felt that the glories of the stage would pass away with him. It was in vain that they were told that he had sons destined to the same profession. They shook their heads, and said it was impossible that the mantle of the great tragedian should rest upon any of his sons, for it was then, as now, a popular belief that great men never have great children. How very much these good people were mistaken we will see in the progress of this chapter.
One of these sons was destined in the course of time to eclipse the fame won by his father, and to endear himself to the American people as a more finished, if less stormy, actor. This was EDWIN BOOTH. He was born on his father’s farm near Baltimore, Maryland, In 1833, and after receiving a good common-school education, began his training for the stage. The elder Booth was quick to see that his boy had inherited his genius, and he took great pains to develop the growing powers of the lad, and to incline them toward those paths which his experience had taught him were the surest roads to success. He took him with him on his starring engagements, and kept him about him so constantly that the boy may be said to have grown up on the stage from his infancy. He was enthusiastically devoted to his father, and it was his delight to stand at the wings and watch the great tragedian in his personations, and the thunders of applause which proclaimed some fresh triumph were sweeter to the boy, perhaps, than to the man.