I see, by my stats, that perhaps ten of you have discovered that I'm continuing this blog incognito, which is to say, by word-of-mouth only. Yesterday, upon discovering that the asterisk-signed reviews continued on into August of 1846 in the New York "Tribune," I had to put in some long hours (on both sides of a work shift) to rectify the situation, and revise my sequel accordingly. That done, I will have even more of them to keyed in. I noted that this work has already been done, by modern editors who attribute them to Magaret Fuller. But even if I purchased that book, I still wouldn't have them digitized. I could use optical character recognition software, but last I looked that's more trouble than it's worth. My typing speed was clocked at 111 wpm minute in an interview many years ago--it's easier for me to just type it.
Incidentally, I had a peek inside that book, and found, not surprisingly, that there is a very long, scholarly introduction. Then I had the whim to see if I could find contact information for one of the co-editors. I couldn't, because one can never contact these famous academicians without a great deal of trouble, and I was just idly curious. I probably wouldn't have written, anyway. But what I did see was that this person has written a number of books on Fuller, making this historical person her life's work. And she has garnered honors for it. What would happen to her, if she realized that she had been writing about the wrong author all this time? That she had made such a fundamental error, that her entire life's work was fatally flawed? It would probably devastate her. I know how I have felt, when I thought, for a terrifying instant (or, longer than an instant), that I was fundamentally wrong in some conclusion or other. Say, for example, that it was proven to me that Mathew was not, in fact, the true author of these reviews. It's an awful feeling. On the one hand, I want to see the truth come out. Those who pretended to own it, or who were mistakenly assumed to own it, have bathed in borrowed glory long enough. (And don't forget how he must have felt.) But on the other hand, could I wish on someone the destruction of their life's work, crumbling into the abyss of a giant mistake?
If my study ever became established and generally accepted, this same thing would happen to hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of academicians. It's a sobering thought. People have jumped out of windows for less.
Still, I can't help but wonder if this scholar, or other scholars studying Fuller, have an explanation for why she says she was raised in a "lonely farmhouse" with only two shelves' worth of books in a cabinet, when in fact she was a Congressman's daughter raised in a house in Cambridgeport, Mass., and as her father pressed for her education, no doubt she had an entire library of books:
Of course, our famous scholar would have no way of knowing that the asterisk had been the real author's signature--for reviews--since 1832; or that he did, in fact, grow up in a lonely farmhouse which contained approximately 30 books (so says the official Whittier biographer, Samuel Pickard); or that Mathew's older brother became famous writing about that same winter, in a poem entitled "Snow-Bound."
It is hard to claim that a piece of evidence is "proof," because someone can always come up with an alternative explanation. But I think most people would concede that the above excerpt is proof of something. At the very least, I would say it's proof that Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote the review in the Feb. 5, 1845 edition of the New York "Tribune." But if you admit that much, you have opened Pandora's Box, and whole bunch of other clues come flying out.
As a caveat, I should point out that neither Mathew Franklin Whittier, nor Margaret Fuller, had a birthday in winter. But I have observed time and again that it is Mathew's modus operandi to insert a piece of misleading false biography, to throw anti-slavery enemies off his trail, and to keep from being identified, in general. Margaret Fuller was aleady the literary editor of the paper, and was assumed to be the author, so she had no reason to obfuscate her identity in this manner. Note that in this case, the reference to the eighth birthday is really without context, being entirely unnecessary to the narrative, except, perhaps, to answer Poe's claim to have been a child prodigy.
Recently I had a very odd exchange. Many years ago, a fellow wrote me expressing admiration for my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America." I exchanged 2-3 e-mails with him per usual in such situations. Apparently, my effort inspired him, such that he has more recently created some 20 videos of his own, in a similar vein--on reincarnation, on mediumship, and related topics. I didn't realize it was the same person. In the spirit of "leaving no stone unturned," or "casting my bread upon the waters," I wrote him, setting forth my case as succinctly as possible, and asking if he would wish to produce a video about it. He suddenly took what I perceived as a superior tone. He had previously been approached by (as he thought) a similar person, with a similar request, which turned out to be sloppy research, and which wasted a great deal of his time. He advised me to write a book about my case and get back to him, but he was burned out with making videos, and was planning a nice vacation and a new focus.
When I got back to him that I already had a book and a sequel, that my research (like the documentary he admired) was rigorous, and that I had written an article about my method, suddenly he had no time, he was done with videos, he had a vacation planned, etc. etc. etc.
Here's my take on it. When I told him I was the past-life co-author of "A Christmas Carol," and the past-life author of "The Raven," he had only two logical places to take that. Either I was nuts, or I was doing sloppy research. Since he had once been my admirer, neither option really fit, but as he didn't want to accuse me of having gone insane, he chose Option Number Two. But it turned out, when I wrote back to him, that Number Two was demonstrably false.* Not only that, I was daring him to see for himself that I wasn't doing sloppy research, by reading my article on my method. His response? He had printed out my article, but would read it "later." He had no time; he was done with making videos, etc.
Finally, he made sure to plug his 21st video, something about the case of a missing leg.
Now, this fellow will put time and energy into a film about a missing leg, but won't touch the past-life author of two plagiarized classics in world literature. Something is wrong with this picture.
What's wrong, of course, is that he didn't believe me for a half-a-half-a-half-a-half-a second. It didn't even briefly flash across his mind that I could be genuine. Faster than a speeding bullet, the two alternative explanations presented themselves to his mind, because of his a priori assumptions that anyone claiming this has to be wrong.
Because, if you, as a filmmaker, were the first to present this information to the public, and it was actually true, it would put you on the map for hundreds of years. That is, if anybody believed you.
Telling people that Mathew Franklin Whittier was the real co-author, and author, of these now-famous works, is misleading in a particular sense. He wasn't the real author of these works exclusively. A long list of people stole, claimed, or imitated his works; and then one must add the mistaken attributions made by historians. I had the whim to list them, here. Making a fully comprehensive list would require that I go back into my books and do a series of seaches--and I'm already feeling the stress reaction that has been concerning me, of late. So I'm just going to list some of them from memory. Just to give you an idea, at last count I think I was up to about 15. Some of these are known, today, only to historians (and to Googlers, if one has the inclination). Some are still famous--and their "one-hit wonder," in most cases, was precisely the material they stole from Mathew, or which was claimed for them erroneously from Mathew's work. Before we begin, I want to make it clear that the evidence for these various attributions is laid out in my books. Each instance could take a lengthy scholarly paper--or even, in some cases, a book--to present. That's one reason my books are so long, since in order to prove the reincarnation case, I first had to prove Mathew's authorship of the work I was drawing my historical evidence from. And some of these plagiarsts, as one might expect, were very cagey. It is tough enough to prove a plagiarism case in a court of law, today, no less a cold case from the 1800's. That being said, I think I brought each of them to a satisfactory level of "beyond a reasonable doubt" by a "preponderance of the evidence." Some of them I was able to prove outright.
Let's start with Charles Dickens, who re-worked (fluffed out) "A Christmas Carol" from a manuscript--perhaps, originally a play--written by Mathew and his first wife, Abby. Secondly, Edgar Allan Poe stole "The Raven," "Some Words with a Mummy," and "Annabel Lee" from Mathew, though the third one was only published after Poe's death and attributed to him. Thirdly, Margaret Fuller, as literary editor of the 1845-46 New York "Tribune," did not write the asterisk-signed reviews in that paper, until she took over the pseudonym shortly before leaving for Europe in her assignment as the paper's foreign correspondent. Those were Mathew's, written under a pseudonym he had been using since the early 1830's, including for reviews. And Elizabeth Barrett did not write "Lady Geraldine's Courtship." That (as near as I can tell, virtually from top-to-bottom), was Mathew's tribute to Abby, in allegory. Essentially, it was literal except for assuming a British earl's grown daughter, instead of a French marquis' young daughter in America. "Annabel Lee" was written in very much the same vein, except that it told of Abby's death, instead of their courtship.
The book, "Mike Martin, or, the Last of the Highwaymen," was not written by Francis A. Durivage. It was written--perhaps ghost-written--by Mathew. The series that Durivage printed in book form, and also submitted by the piece in "Gleason's Pictorial," signed "the Old 'Un," was Mathew's series. The signature held a metaphysical signficance for Mathew (as in "old souls"), which went entirely over Durivage's head. Durivage wrote a few of his own stories under that signature, but by far the bulk of it was Mathew's work. The book, "The Life and Adventures of Dr. Dodimus Duckworth," was ghost-written by Mathew for Asa Greene, who had also been Mathew's editor-in-chief on the New York "Constellation" and the New York "Transcript," in the early-to-mid 1830's. The editorials in the "Constellation," including all the material under the signature "D.," "Israel Icicle," and the character "Enoch Timbertoes," was written by Mathew (not Greene). The humorous Police Office Reports (i.e., what we would now call the "blotter"), in the New York "Transcript," were written by Mathew, not by reporter William H. Atree, as historians have attributed them. Atree wrote some of them, but not the funny, creative, insightful ones which drove the paper's popularity.
Historians will tell you that Mathew Franklin Whittier only wrote the "Ethan Spike" spin-offs appearing in "The Carpet-Bag," and that the most famous characters, "Ensign Stebbings" and "Dr. E. Goethe Digg," were conceived under the umbrella signature of "Trismegistus" by Benjamin Drew. All of this was Mathew's work, plus a bunch more under various pseudonyms. Mathew, a silent financial partner in that paper, wrote as many as eight pieces under as many signatures for each weekly edition of the "Carpet-Bag," until he was forced out due to his more liberal political views. Practically every writer (except his friend, John Townsend Trowbridge) on the papaer imitated Mathew's style--some, like John C. Moore ("Peter Snooks"), quite blatantly. Joseph Torrey ("John Fisher") was another such pesky imitator in the Boston "Weekly Museum."
Mathew ghost-wrote the faux biography of B.P. Shillaber's character, "Mrs. Partington," which opens Shillaber's book, "The Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington." Shillaber honestly listed himself as the editor, not the author, of that book.
The compilation of poetry entitled "Keep Cool, Go Ahead, and Several Other Poems," published by George W. Light, included poetry written by both Mathew and Abby; but Light claimed all of it as his own. And while we are on the subject of Abby's work, Albert Pike, her classroom teacher in 1830/31, stole a number of her poems and published them in various newspapers. Some of them he edited, or rewrote; a few of them, published under their shared initials, "A.P.," he wrote, himself.
One of the most famous parodies of "The Raven," called "The Vulture," was written by Mathew. It debuted, unsigned, in the Dec. 18, 1852 edition of "The Carpet-Bag." It was not written by either John Saxe, or Robert Barnabas Brough, as historians have speculated. It was part of a series that Mathew had been writing for the "Carpet-Bag," some of which place the writer in Boston. However, he may have been working in collaboration with a British artist, which is what has confused historians--that, and the fact that two pieces from the series were reprinted, in revised form (one being very much revised), in a British humor magazine, "Cruikshank's."
A poet who is little known, today, but who contributed heavily to the Boston "Weekly Museum," named Robert Johnson, stole at least one of Mathew's poems-in-progress, giving it the absurdly long Biblical reference as a title, "Remember How Short My Time is; Wherefore Hast Thou Made All Men in Vain!" The poem described Abby weeping for one of their late children, and was so intimate that he probably never intended to publish it. He would, however, naively share unpublished work by way of mentoring aspiring poets, as he apparently did with Poe.
Another unpublished poem by Mathew ended up in the official legacy of poet Charles Loring, who published in the Portand "Transcript" under the signature, "Oxford." Loring was a younger man, and it appears that Mathew was mentoring him, as well. This is also a very intimate poem, probably descibing a lengthy period when Mathew and Abby were separated, as she was convalescing somewhere from "consumption." Where Loring is represented in a book about New England poets, it is this poem which was used to represent his work, although it is atypical of his style (and precisely typical of Mathew's).
An essay on "Scepticism," which is probably Abby's work, or perhaps Mathew's rendering, from memory, of her philosophy, ended up, in an edited form, in the legacy of a young pastor named William Reed Prince. It was signed "P.," a signature Mathew had used, with variations, for many years, and which he was using in the publication where this essay appeared, for two other pieces which were very unlikely to have been Prince's (because he was in divinity school at the time, and one of them has the plot of exacting revenge by murder).
Let me see...
Ossian Dodge, the con-artist entertainer, was not the author of the "Quails" travel letters in the Boston "Weekly Museum." That was Mathew's series, both while he was traveling the New England states, and in Europe. Mathew was working undercover as a liaison for the Abolition movement, probably answering to William Lloyd Garrison. It was Mathew who met privately with Victor Hugo in his home in Paris, not Ossian Dodge; and it was Mathew who met privately with Daniel Webster, on Webster's farm, shortly after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed with Webster's help. It was also Mathew who met with Abolitionists like Alphonso Lewis and Elihu Burritt, supposedly as a social call, without mentioning their affiliation with the Cause; and who met with famous singer Jenny Lind, soliciting funds. Not "The Dodge," Ossian Dodge, a racist who couldn't write his way out of a paper bag, and who had to buy his material from others via advertised contests.
The story which Samuel Clemens read for John Greenleaf Whittier's 70th birthday bash in Boston, was written by Mathew. Clemens revised it so as to set it in California, where he had lived. Probably, it was originally set in New England, but Clemens personalized it by placing it in a miner's cabin in CA.** It got Clemens in hot water, because Mathew was fed up with being shunned by the literati in Boston, and used the occasion (and Clemens) to lampoon them in retaliation. Mathew, himself, doesn't show up on the seating chart of his brother's own birthday party, but it appears that he crashed it, and was the only one laughing during Clemens' reading.
Charles Farrar Browne, who has been called the first stand-up comedian, rewrote a story from the "Old 'Un" series--the series plagiarized by Francis Durivage--about a military re-enactment of the Seige of Yorktown which went humorously wrong. He placed that story into the "Carpet-Bag" where he was working as a printer's apprentice, without the editor's knowledge. That was Browne's start. But it wasn't his story. Browne went on to fame with his character "Artemus Ward," which was a blatant imitation of Mathew's "Ethan Spike." Among the other humorous writers who imitated Spike, was David Ross Locke, with his "Petroleum V. Nasby." Browne and Locke are said to have been President Lincoln's favorites.
James Russell Lowell's "Biglow Papers" were also written in imitation of "Ethan Spike," appearing in the Boston "Courier" shortly after "Spike" appeared in the Boston "Chronotype." Mathew incorporated "Biglow" into an "Ethan Spike" sketch, in response.
It's unclear whether Seba Smith was imitating Mathew's work when he launched his "Major Jack Downing" character in Jan. 1830, in his own paper, the Portland "Courier"; Mathew's "Enoch Timbertoes" first appeared a year later in the New York "Constellation." In any case, Mathew preceded Smith in this genre (humorous characters writing letters in local dialect) with "Joe Strickland," which appeared in July of 1827 (when Mathew had just turned 15) in the Boston-based "New-England Galaxy."
There is even one of Mathew's poems, entitled "Song of the Pumpkin," which ended up in a compilation of his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier's, poetry. I would hope that that compilation was published without Whittier's knowledge or consent, however. Probably, the poems were gleaned by the editors from newspapers, and that they heard through the grapevine that this anonymous one was written "by Whittier." However, unlike Mathew, John Greenleaf Whittier always signed his work.
I'm pretty sure there are some which are escaping me at the moment, but you get the idea. Mathew was the dark planet circling the skies of 19th-century literature. The vacuum his anonymity created, was filled in by numerous erroneous attributions. His talent kept rising to the surface--but no sooner did a pearl flush to the top, than someone scooped it up and claimed it, either for themselves or for someone else.
Under these circumstancs, it would have been strange if his work hadn't made a number of people famous; and it is no surprise that some of them reached such a level of fame, that they are household names still today. In other words, my "claims" are not outrageous, at all, once you know Mathew's history (the history I can't get anybody to read, making this a Catch-22). What was outrageous--if inevitable--were these false claims to his work.
My friend Linda recently wrote me, specifically as regards life after death, "People don't know, and they don't want to know." If, when I give people an entirely honest--and rigorous--introduction to my findings, they don't take me seriously for half-a-half-a-half-a-half-a second--when their a priori assumptions cause their mind to immediately derail into an alternative explanation--then I can't reach anybody. But this is like a spring-loaded device. The instant the spring goes off, it's going to be a radically different story.
The "gate-keepers" are the frauds and phonies and sloppy researchers. This documentarian I approached most recently, had been soured by a sloppy researcher, whose work had taken up so much of his time that he wasn't willing to risk it, again. These frauds have always served the function of protecting both individuals, and society, from powerful information that they aren't ready to assimilate. In the Christian tradition, it is stated as "The Devil knows not for whom he works." These people--the gatekeepers, and the frauds--have, unknown to them, their legitimate and necessary function. Just about the time that society is ready for this information, someone will break that knee-jerk reaction, that "macro," or mini-program in the mind, which generates the alternative explanations. That person will take me seriously for half-a-second.
When that happens--when the dark planet of Mathew's hidden legacy is revealed--watch out! Because it is tied directly to my own reincarnation case, in which I have proved reincarnation, itself. The two can't be separated--but the historical discovery, once it is taken seriously, can't be ignored, either. That means that the reality of reincarnation will be forcibly dragged before the public in a way that we have never seen before.
Do you think I was justified in telling this fellow--who really is a very nice, well-meaning chap--that someday he's going to kick himself? Or do you think it was just my megalomania talking?
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*The irony is that he is fully cognizent of the principle that skeptics were so disillusioned by fraudulent mediums that they dismissed even the genuine ones--and yet, here he is getting caught by the same spurious logic, with regard to sloppy vs. rigorous reincarnation cases.
**Think about it--why would three men in California--which might as well have been Timbuktu at that time--be impersonating three Boston literati? It's an out-of-context revision. Mathew's original would have retained the complete back-story, in context.
Music opening this page: "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who,
from the album, "Who's Next"