Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/124

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

versity), whose knowledge of English and ability to use it are unsurpassed in the South, writes:[1] "Style is something so subtle, and varies so much with the mood of the writer, that it is difficult to say, generally, whether such or such a writing is or is not in the style of a given man. I should say, with Custis Lee, that this writing (Duty Letter) is a fair imitaton of General Lee's style—that is, of his mode of thought and expression. Yet, somehow—I cannot say exactly how—it seems to me not like him. The story of the old Puritan is not like him. I doubt if any similar passage can be found in his writings. And the very sentence, 'Duty,' etc., does not sound like him; for General Lee thought or cared little about 'words.' He would hardly have said: 'Duty is the sublimest word.' Yet all this is conjectural; for style is too subtle a thing to be positively identified."

The third expert is Dr. Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., whose remarkable book, "Lee the American," has already been referred to. In a letter to the writer, dated July 22, 1914, Dr. Bradford says: "With my present knowledge on the subject, it would ill become me to differ from such experts as Colonel McCabe and Professor Joynes, and on the whole my impression agrees with theirs in doubting the genuineness of the whole letter, though I frankly confess that, had I not been rendered suspicious by external circumstances, I do not know whether any such doubt would have occurred to me. In other words, the forgery, if it is one, is executed with surprising cleverness. The error, if there is an error, consists in slightly exaggerating General Lee's habits of thought and expression, so that it is extremely difficult to determine where the genuine begins, and the spurious ends. . . . . . Still, it does seem to me that something in the tone of the moralizing of the suspected letter is a little more strained, a little more formal, than is ordinary in other letters (of General Lee). The sermonizing (in other letters) is not generally so sustained or keyed to such an elaborate pitch. Especially, I cannot quite reconcile myself to the anec-

  1. Letter to the writer, July 14, 1914. Dr. Joynes is now Professor Emeritus of the University of South Carolina.