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The Bixby Letter
08-04-2017, 02:11 PM (This post was last modified: 08-04-2017 02:13 PM by Finnigan.)
Post: #121
RE: The Bixby Letter
I was at the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield this past Friday (the 28th) and I stopped in the Lincoln Collection to see Dr. Cornelius.

He told me that he's being cautious and waiting a few months to see what the consensus ultimately is. He did remark however that this is the only example of Lincoln using the word "beguile" in any of his known writing. However, he says that the word has been found in letters written from Kentucky in the early 19th century, so it's probably a word that would have been in his vocabulary at an early age.

Two humorous points from our conversation on the letter: First off, he said "The computer algorithm was 90% accurate, and you know what happens when computers are 90% accurate! The stock market crashes!"

And then when he had pulled out of the vertical files the article from Time.com for me to read, he had meanwhile pulled out another paper with the Bixby letter, written in ink on old-fashioned parchment paper. He read this as I read the article, and I jokingly asked, "Oh, is that the original?" And he replied likewise, "Ah yes, it's been here the entire time, and now I'm holding it in my ungloved hand!"

Former site interpreter at Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield.
ILTomb.org - A new web site on Lincoln's Tomb.
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08-04-2017, 05:19 PM
Post: #122
RE: The Bixby Letter
Many thanks, David, for posting about your visit with Dr. Cornelius. (Time to short the market?)
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08-04-2017, 10:50 PM (This post was last modified: 08-04-2017 10:51 PM by ELCore.)
Post: #123
RE: The Bixby Letter
(08-04-2017 02:11 PM)Finnigan Wrote:  Two humorous points from our conversation on the letter: First off, he said "The computer algorithm was 90% accurate, and you know what happens when computers are 90% accurate! The stock market crashes!"

Granted, that was an attempt at humor. However, it mischaracterizes what the researchers say happened:

Quote:Nearly 90% of the time, the n-gram tracing method identified Hay as the author of the Bixby letter. The other roughly 10% of the time, the analysis was inconclusive. (Those times were when the researchers used groupings of just 1 or 2 letters at a time, rather than whole words, and those combinations proved extremely common overall.)

I don't believe "90% accuracy" is a correct description of the results. This would be a better description: the results indicated Hay as author 9 times out of 10, but never indicated Lincoln as author.

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it. (Letter to James H. Hackett, November 2, 1863)
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