(page 6 of 6)
Upon that wild ocean, then, he did seek its ‘wasteful’ manner, so to wash away his past, at least, such as did abide the flames of his Yankee foes, and his own hand.
ACT, the Fifth, or, the Foggy, Foggy Night of a Mighty Life
[herein, of an object lesson concerning one Fitzgerald’s proscription of secondary scenarios in American life]
During the Second World War the structure known as Inner Temple Hall, the scene, in 1883, of the prosperous, top-of-the barrister heap Judah P. Benjamin’s farewell address to the profession which had redeemed him many times over (its record, like its speaker’s own private papers, lost to the long night of history) was bombed to smitherines.
Having begun his law practice in London in 1866, he rose to the high post of Queen’s Counsel, QC, by appointment in 1869. He retired in 1883 with full panoply and highest honors.
Yet, his life, his property, even his slim claim to progeny are vanished as if having never been save for a few remnants of officialdom for the U.S. and C.S.A. Of his many dwellings in New Orleans, Paris, and London we have only, tangibly, the still-available Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property
. How fleeting, yet haunting, both his name and his once scandalous personal definition of ‘property’.(15) His was the stuff that foolish dreams are made on, his larger than little life suffused by the rounding night
EPILOGUE: The Author’s Little Night Musing..............
[herein, of his wonderings of his wanderings, @ The Willard Hotel]
His farewell to service to the U.S. Government having come, this, then, young lawyer pondered his fate in the wider world; that same venue where he sat, nicely updated by late 1970’s standards, no longer a flop house for political creatures of all stripes, had hosted his now deserted goodbye repast and, as he stared into and beyond that historic space, his idle mouth birthed a nascent smile. He was, after all, a devoted Anglophile, and lover of Albion’s literature, determined not to go gentle into that good night, rapidly approaching........... jolted from his torpor, his ears awoke to his mind’s accompaniment, the piped-in Musak featured, at crescendo, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Note: All double quote symbols (“ ) denote actual attributable quotes; all italicization denotes our Players’s sometimes inexact remembrances, as internal thoughts, of his schoolboy Shakespeare, or Hebrew Bible
(1) King Henry V
(2)’Song of Myself’, W. Whitman, 1855, variously titled ‘W.Whitman, American for a While’
(3)As You Like It
(4) ‘Repast’: both a pun (forgiveable?), and a reference to an old southern post-funeral customary prayer
(5) The Merchant of Venice
(6) The Tempest
(7)The name of the ship is unknown, hence poetic license of no consequence to fact, save for art.
(8) Othello/ (8a) Julius Caesar
(9)The substance of this conversation is a composite of several such alleged confidences (recounted by diarist Mrs. Varina Davis, et.al.) between two later intimates in a foreign government; key quotes are based upon The Congressional Globe
(10) Julius Caesar
(11) The fictional ‘narrator’ of The Band’s song, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’
(12) King Henry IV, Pt. 2
(13) Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
(14) King Henry V
(15) A slaveholder’s ironic expertise, i.e., personal property, a legal concept centered upon ‘chattels’, which had included night-colored human beings.
(16) The Tempest