[2]   The first of the letters signed ``Rebecca'' dated August 10, 1842, appeared in the Journal, on August 19, 1842. The author of this first letter was not Lincoln. In all probability the same pen produced it which had produced an earlier series of letters from ``Lost Townships,'' printed in the Journal on February 10, May 5, May 26, and September 15, 1838. The first of this series, dated January 20, 1838, has a number of interesting parallels in style to the first of the ``Rebecca'' series, and reiterates the correspondent's intention of sending the editor a present (a pot of butter in the 1838 letter, a jar of pickles in the 1842 letter) in such a way that one may suspect the editor of the Journal of bending his literary talent to stimulate rural subscribers, notoriously in arrears, to pay in produce.

Be this as it may, there is no satisfactory evidence that Lincoln wrote the earlier series of letters from Lost Townships, and Lincoln's own testimony is against his having written any of the second series except the second letter, which is printed here.

Two more letters appeared in the Journal on September 9: one dated August 29 was comparatively mild in its satire and written in the same vein as the first letter of August 10; the other dated September 8 was somewhat amateurish and made even more offensive personal allusions than those contained in Lincoln's letter. This fourth letter, written by Mary Todd and Julia Jayne, and a piece of doggerel signed ``Cathleen,'' which appeared in the Journal on September 16, presumably had much to do with James Shields' decision to demand from the editor, Simeon Francis, the name of the pseudonymous author. Francis may have given Shields Lincoln's name only, or Shields may have concluded on his own responsibility that only Lincoln could give him satisfaction.

In any event, the remainder of the story is told in the duel correspondence (vide infra).

 [ return to text ]