The fabricator of The Duty Letter was a bright young fellow (though a little weak on his English, as is the case with a good many college graduates), and he saw that the total absence of personal allusions might arouse suspicion, and lead to discovery of the forgery. But how venture on personals? Ignorance and blunders would surely betray him. In this dilemma he resorted to the ingenious device of pretending that the forged letter was a second reply to letters already once answered. And he makes General Lee refer to the receipt of three letters to explain the need of a second reply. Doubtless he was aware how extraordinary, not to say preposterous, three letters on three successive days, by a young man to his father, would appear to anyone who had ever been a student or a cadet; but again he reflected that this sentence, too, would be "a good enough Morgan until after the election"—and the event so proved.
It has been objected, however, that this explanation of the genesis of the forged letter fails, in that it does not take account of the war, and the bitter feeling between the North and the South. Why, it is asked, should a Northern man, a "warrior in arms" against General Lee, fabricate a letter so much to his credit, thus giving aid and comfort to the South? But how else could the fabricator impersonate Lee, with any hope that his imposture would be successful? North and South, General Lee was already recognized as "a noble figure, lofty and patriotic"—a man who "reverenced his conscience as his King," and ever gave ear to Duty, that "Stern Daughter of the Voice of God." There was no bitterness against General Lee in the North (as there was against Jefferson Davis). Is it inconceivable that such a letter should be written in the name of Lee by a Federal soldier, when we know that the New York Sun, in 1864, had the courage and magnanimity to publish it (believing it genuine), and to scatter it broadcast through the North? The Sun, however, did not forget to remind its readers that the letter "illustrated one phase of Lee's character." (Italics mine.) There might be others not so amiable.And now our inquiry into the authenticity of this famous Duty Letter is ended. Was ever a genuine letter enmeshed in