I have only a few minutes to write this at the end of my lunch break. It's for all of you who are waiting with baited breath to find out what I have discovered in the "New-England Galaxy," year 1829. (kidding)
It is as I expected--Mathew Franklin Whittier, as a boy of 16, is contributing to this paper, but is not working for it or directly associated with it. He is writing in much the same style(s) as he will in the early 1830's, and on many of the same topics. In fact, more than one of his pieces are distinctly similar to what he will write for the New York "Constellation" in 1830/31.
The only consistent pseudonym I can associate with him, is the initials "N.N.K." It must have a meaning, but I can't fathom it--nor is anything suggesting itself to me via intuitive past-life memory. I'm thinking of the words "Never," or "Not," and "Know" or "Knowledge"--but I have no sense of this, at all. I do know that he was probably trying to hide himself from his own family, where his brother, older by five years, was considered the "man of letters" (having recently attended the local academy). Intuitive feeling-impression has suggested to me that he and his brother had an intense sibling rivalry--but at the same time, Mathew felt sorry for his brother, who was what we could call, today, Aspergers. So he did not wish to effectively compete with him--my feeling is, he did not want to crush him, because he knew he had the horsepower to do it.
John Greenleaf Whittier developed an almost uncanny ability to write poetic ballads--to cast a sort of literary spell on the reader. He did not, necessarily, draw from his own inner experience. He was a bard who could sing any song. It was even remarked, to him, by one particular reader, that he could hardly imagine that John Greenleaf was colorblind (as I am, today, in red and green), given the lush descriptions he had given of those colors. It's a gift--I don't mean to put it down. But he was not the writer that Mathew was. He (John Greenleaf) could write prose such that you would swear he was expressing his true feelings, and his poetry was the same way. But Mathew was the true philosopher, and the true artist. And he secretly knew it.
There are several discoveries in this new body of Mathew's earliest work. At age 16, he blows Samuel Clemens out of the water (Clemens published his first humorous sketch at that age, in the 1852 "Carpet-Bag," which Mathew was heavily involved in.) But I found what I was looking for--a faux letter to the editor written as a Frenchman having trouble with the English language, and a letter from a small-town Yankee who protests a scientist trying to rename granite. That means that Mathew was writing faux letters to the editor, in dialect, before Seba Smith began publishing his character, "Major Jack Downing." Unless Smith likewise published in this style before January of 1830, he was not first.
That's all for now...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Trademark," by Eric Johnson,
from the album "Ah Via Musicom