91st PA: Jesse Wharton--school stories

Jesse Wharton--school stories

[for more information, see Jesse Wharton]

[source: Asia Booth Clarke. The Unlocked book: a memoir of John Wilkes Booth. New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1938]
[page 75]

Jesse Wharton, an old schoolmate from Catonsville, was an ever welcome guest at our house. He was a rarely endowed youth both physically and mentally. I sat listening one day to their astounding stories of schooldays, and Jesse said,

"Do you remember the day, Billy, that you were nearly drowned, sucked under by the current? I tell you," he continued, addressing himself to me, "our hearts stood still that time; we never thought to see this fellow open his big eyes again."

At the moment of speaking thus, Jesse laid his arm affectionately around Wilkes' neck, who laid his cheek down upon his friend's hand as it rested upon his shoulder.

He said, drawing a long breath, "No, Jess, I am not to drown, hang, or burn, although my sister yonder has believed I am a predestined martyr of some sort, ever since the time when she sat the whole night through reading Fox's Book of Martyrs."

This led to comparison of books they had read. There were no novels in those days within easy grasp of young [page 76] people, if indeed there were such publications; all that we knew of were little pamphlets of Boz's bewildering English life, Sir Walter Scott and Bulwer. The two walked away to inspect Wilkes' unpretentious library in his own room. I could smell the tobacco of their pipes and hear their occasional laughter, while I sat wondering what they would both be in the far-off time. They were both so handsome, so gifted, and so light-hearted; for my brother, no visions or dreams were too extravagantly great for me to indulge; to all who knew him, his was a future so full of promise.

[source: 'His schooldays', by "a classmate". Published in The unlocked book [see above,], pages 151 sqq. quotation from pages 153-155]

In 1853 there occurred a "Rebellion" at St. Timothy's Hall, caused by the principal, Rev. L. Van Bockelen, depriving the whole school of the Wednesday and Saturday afternoon holidays, because three or four boys killed a lot of his chickens and did not eat them. They were spoiled, and the boys tied them to a pole and marched around the college in procession, finally leaving the pole resting on the ground by the house with the upper end with the chickenson it resting against the window of the housekeeper, Mrs. Bockelen, who was the principal's aunt. No one would tell who were the guilty ones, and the whole school were made to suffer.

[p.154] The senior department with all the Sophomore and Freshman classes marched out into Reed's woods, and formed a camp, when with guns from the school armory, guards mounted and all prepared for defense, we waited a deputation from the faculty--Drs. Diffenderffer, Starr and Wharton, and Mr. Arnold, the well-known confectioner of Baltimore--were sent to us and made speeches. Dr. Wharton was replied to by his son Jesse (afterwards shot by a sentinel for looking out of the window at the old capitol prison in Washington) and Drs. Diffenderfer and Starr by their sons Michael Diffenderffer and George Starr, and Mr. Arnold by his son, Samuel Arnold (afterward connnected with Booth in the Lincoln tragedy). Compromise was the order of the day. It was finally settled, after the boys had slept in the woods three nights. Thos. F. Bayard, the present Senator of Delaware, was one of the most indignant rebels we had. While all the boys were sitting on the fence and looking the situation in the face, Bayard cut a pole, and straddling it came galloping into our midst and dismounted. He then made a speech which I feel sure he has never beaten since--in the effect it created; we made the welkin ring. He was taking the part of the great Caesar and after he had made his speech in imitation of the Caesar to his soldiers when about to cross the Rubicon, he mounted his horse (pole) and galloped across a small trench that happened to be in [page 155] front of him, with a stick waving in the air representing a sword, and to have heard the applause and hearty concurrence of his fellow students, was enough to have convinced anyone of his eloquence and the favor with which his speech was received. The huzzas were heard up at the Hall about a mile off, and we were told the faculty got frightened and supposed we were going up and clean out the place.

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revised 22 Feb 06
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