Wednesday April 28, 1886
Jervis McEntee Diary Entry, April 28, 1886, from the Jervis McEntee papers, 1850-1905, in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Wednesday, Apr 28, 1886 Booth sent me a box with seats for four. I went over and told Mary and Marion. Called at Mrs. Custers apartment to invite her but she has not returned. McCann says she is expected tomorrow so I asked Bowyer in stead. Remained to lunch. Tried to paint a little picture of an effect I saw on the river Saturday, but it is poor. I am in no mood for painting, my picture came back from Gills today. I dont think I will send there again. I dont think he tries to sell my pictures. Mary, Marion, Bowyer and I attended the Salvini-Booth Othello representation this evening and had box 31 on the left side, first tier next the proscenium box. The house was packed to the ceiling with an intelligent audience. The moment Booth came on we all noticed something was wrong. We could not hear a word and his voice seemed thick and as the noise of people coming in late subsided it was apparent Booth was hampered by some disadvantage. Of course we suspected what was the matter and we were all full of anxiety. He had to be prompted several times, his utterance was thick and spiritless and he repeated his phrases. In the scene between him and Othello where he insinuates Desdemonas infidelity and where the Moor in his phrensy throttles him and flings him on the floor, he arose, staggered backward towards the front of the stage and fell backwards at full length upon the foot lights breaking the guard rod in his fall. Some one from the audience sprang and assisted him to rise, when he went on with his part. But the strain of anxiety was terrible. I went over to Mrs. Stoddards box on the opposite side of the house to see if she noticed any thing wrong. She only said "those horrid people in the next box said when he fell, he is drunk." Salvini acted with great power but Booths performance of this one of his greatest characters was disappointing and discouraging. I had a feeling of the greatest pity for him and wished I could hide him from what seemed to me a situation which must cover him with shame. It was an awful evening to me and to all of us.
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