The Judges of the Secret Court: A Novel About John Wilkes Booth (New York Review Books Classics)
David Stacton’s The Judges of The Secret Court is a long-lost triumph of American fiction as well as one of the finest books ever written about the Civil War. Stacton’s gripping and atmospheric story revolves around the brothers Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, members of a famous theatrical family. Edwin is a great actor, himself a Hamlet-like character whose performance as Hamlet will make him an international sensation. Wilkes is a blustering mediocrity on stage who is determined, however, to be an actor in history, and whose assassination of Abraham Lincoln will change America. Stacton’s novel about how the roles we play become, for better or for worse, the lives we lead, takes us back to the day of the assassination, immersing us in the farrago of bombast that fills Wilkes’s head while following his footsteps up to the fatal encounter at Ford’s Theatre. The political maneuvering around Lincoln’s deathbed and Wilkes’s desperate flight and ignominious capture then set the stage for a political show trial that will condemn not only the guilty but the—at least relatively—innocent. For as Edwin Booth broods helplessly many years later, and as Lincoln, whose tragic death and wisdom overshadow this tale, also knew, “We are all accessories before or after some fact. . . . We are all guilty of being ourselves.”
Was the sound of Mrs. Lincoln’s laughter. It was whole hearted, but it was not easy. There was a ragged edge of hysteria in it which slashed the silence like a piece of glass, the laugh of a woman who can never be noticed enough, and who is most embarrassing when most spontaneous. She was happy now, but who knew what she would be half an hour from now? Even the cripples turned to watch, and there were a good many cripples in Washington these days. Mrs. Lincoln did not like to see them, outside of.
Control him. Welles did not know who could control him now. He was one of the new men. There was nothing to be done with him. Welles suggested they should go to the house on 10th Street. He said he had commandeered a carriage. For the first time, he saw Stanton hesitate. “I am going at once,” he said. “I think it is your duty to go.” Stanton drew back. “This is not my carriage,” he said. A Grand Inquisitor may not respect anything else, but he does respect property. So do the new men. Men,.
Then he took a swig of whisky and rode on. The Lucas shanty was nothing but a clapboard ruin badly chinked. At first, Lucas would not come out when summoned. When he did come out, he was a shivering darky of the kind that makes you want to kick them as soon as they open their mouths. He wouldn’t let them in. He said his wife was ill, and besides, he only had one room. Booth would have to go away. What right did a nigger, freed man or not, have to tell a white man what he could or couldn’t do?.
He’d been doing was lighting out for the swamps until things blew over. He always felt safer in the swamps than he did at home. And now they wouldn’t even let him go home. It wasn’t his fault Mr. Booth had made him guide him through the swamps. He’d been scared. He hadn’t known what to do, and at least Mr. Booth had been somebody to be with. Didn’t they understand that? No, they didn’t. XXXVIII It was Edward Spangler’s turn to stand accused. At least Spangler knew why he was here. He.
Theatre. He hated to expend the money, for Congress begrudged him every penny, so that it was already necessary to pad the budget with imaginary expenses, in order to pay his secret police, but there was nothing else he could do. At least the theatre would remain closed. And now, just when he had thought the Conspiracy Trial over and done with, Holt, who as Judge Advocate should never have permitted such a thing, had arrived to tell him that five out of nine members of the Commission, though.