Frederick Forrest Brings His Lear to Louisville
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
From the Louisville Courier-Journal, May 2, 1845
Forrest in Lear – One of the London papers speaks of Forrest’s Lear as a splendid piece of acting. The London Punch does not seem to have relished it so much. That repository of wit, fun, and humor bestows the subjoined exquisitely excoriating notice on the “great American tragedian.”
Punch to Mr. Forrest: Dear Sir: Allow me, as an old critic, to very sincerely thank you for the handsome palsy which you have put upon King Lear. Had Shakespeare really known anything of his art, he would – by two or three lines – have strongly marked the necessity of King Lear’s shaking his head to show the age of the man. The poet, however, only half knew his business. You have been his best, his most practical annotator; and in your hands there can be no doubt of the senility of King Lear, seeing that he continually niddle-noddles his head like a toy mandarin. Considering the mere poetry of the part, the fact of Lear’s great age might otherwise have escaped us.
Do you think, sir, that a touch of lumbago, with – in the latter scenes – a violent attack of gout, as indicated by flannel swathings, would also considerably assist the moral majesty of Lear, elevated as it unquestionably is by your capital palsy?
Yours, & c.,
From the Louisville Courier-Journal, April 23, 1864
Mr. Lincoln attended the Washington theatre to see Mr. Forrest in King Lear. He was, we learn, much affected. Ingratitude seems to wound him. He said that Mr. Chase reminded him of Regan, and General Fremont of Goneril.