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Letter to James H. Hackett

Abraham Lincoln

Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C.

August 17, 1863

MY DEAR SIR: Months ago I should have acknowledged the receipt of your book and accompanying kind note, and I now have to beg your pardon for not having done so.

For one of my age I have seen very little of the drama. The first presentation of “Falstaff” I ever saw was yours here last Winter or Spring. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. Some of SHAKESPEARE’s plays I have never read, whilst others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader. Among the latter are “Lear,” “Richard Third,” “Henry Eighth,” Hamlet,” and especially “Macbeth.” I think none equals “Macbeth.” It is wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in “Hamlet,” commencing, “O, my offence is rank,” surpasses that commencing, “To be or not to be.” But pardon this small attempt at criticism. I should like to hear you pronounce the opening speech of “Richard the Third.”

Will you not soon visit Washington again? If you do, please call and let me make your personal acquaintance. Yours, truly, A. LINCOLN.

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