For one of my age, I have seen very little of the drama. The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was your Leer 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; while others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader. Among the latter are Leer, Richard the Third, Henry Eighth, Hamlet, and especially MacBeth. I think nothing 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.
—from an August 17, 1863 letter to actor James Henry Hackett