This item was going to be written last week, in somewhat different form. Chaloner M. Barnes of Oxon Hill, the son of Edwin N.C. Barnes, the D.C. schools' music director in the 1920s and 1930s and the composer of "Washington Fair Capital," a song sung by students of that era, said his wife was very upset by MetroScene. We had asserted that the Lincoln Memorial--contrary to the words of the song--"is no tomb" because the martyred president is not buried there but in Springfield, Ill.

Mrs. Barnes cited dictionary definitions that a tomb is not necessarily a burial place, but may be a cenotaph that honors the departed. Granted, conditionally: but my personal prime source, the 1955 version of the Oxford University Dictionary (abridged), goes through several permutations before acknowledging that a tomb, by minor derivative, may be "a sepulchral monument erected in honour of a person whose body is elsewhere."

An item to this effect was crowded out last week. And since then, in keeping with Murphy's Law (Paraphrased: "If something can go wrong, it will"), Sunday's Washington Post Magazine ran a story on the capital's monuments by art critic Paul Richard that declared: "Lincoln's body may lie elsewhere, but his loss is felt so sharply that his grand memorial must be counted as a Tomb."

Mrs. Barnes, I've been blindsided.