In response to:

Lincoln Up Close from the August 15, 1991 issue

To the Editors:

A correspondent writes to say that the Bible I examined at the Library of Congress [“Lincoln Up Close,” NYR, August 15] was the one used not at Lincoln’s second Inauguration but at his first, which makes it all the more potent as a totem since the oath that Lincoln swore upon this little book, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, was for him a mystical mandate to fight a very big war to preserve the Union if not at all costs, at the cost of 620,000 men.

A member of the Lincoln Brigade of hagiographers has taken exception to my comment on the signs of stress in Lincoln’s handwriting, particularly the letter to Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, which I have examined (at Brown), so unlike in its straggling lines “the eloquent thought-out letters to Mrs. Bixby and other mourners for the dead.” I have only seen a reproduction of the Bixby letter, the work of a secretary but very like Lincoln’s own clear firm hand when not in a state of panic. As usual, the brigadier misses the point which is not who did or did not copy Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby but the revealing letter to Andrew so unlike, etc.

Gore Vidal
Ravello, Italy

This Issue

November 21, 1991