Okay, kiddies (I mean, of course, my future audience who are really kids now, as well as any present-day grown-ups who take a gleeful delight in this, as I do), let's see what Uncle Steve has found at the library yesterday. And it's a good thing I did go back after work yesterday afternoon, because it's snowing as I look out the window this morning, at 3:45 a.m....
Let's start with Mathew's "star," the signature he also used for reviews and essays in the 1844-46 New York "Tribune" (which body of work has been claimed by, and for, Margaret Fuller). Here, in 1853/54, he used it sparingly as he usually did throughout his career, but where he does use it, we have some new evidence.
First of all there are a couple of new poems. These are not the humorous variety, but rather, in a philosophical and religious vein. The subjects are death and hope, not too surprising for this era--the king and the sage both seem to be happy, but the truth or falsehood of their happiness will be seen in the their respective deaths. And, of course, in death the poet retains a resolute hope. This is the stoical, religious streak which runs through most of Mathew's serious work--and it is precisely why Mathew would have admired the poetry of Francis Quarles (the first published instance of "The Raven" being signed "---- Quarles"). You don't see anything like this with Edgar Allan Poe, who was neither truly spiritual, nor stoic. That's because "The Raven" was a poem about a grieving man's deep faith crisis, not an academic exercise in the horror genre. Inasmuch as it was a poem which portrays madness, this wasn't an approximation via imaginative literary license. It was a poem written by an actual madman, i.e., a grieving man crazed with grief, and torn by doubt. It's powerful because it's real. If it's a skillful poem, that's because the poet knew what he was doing and had some 15 years of writing and publishing experience under his belt (Mathew first began publishing at age 14, in 1827).
One of the two poems I just found at the library, published (and presumably written) in 1854, is in Mathew's preferred style. I don't know it by name--I think Poe names it in his "Philosophy of Composition" as--I'd have to look it up--here it is, the rhythm is "trochaic," while the metre is "octametre acatalectic, alternating with heptametre catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrametre catalectic." I didn't even know there was a difference between "rhythm" and "metre"! But I know that Poe's entire essay is high-sounding horseshit. He stole the poem, and now he is pretending to use "The Raven" in a (coincidental) essay, as an (off-hand) example. It's not coincidental, he is shoring up his false claim to "The Raven" by way of defending against those who are getting suspicious. I think he protesteth too much. Those of you who think I "discovered" Mathew Franklin Whittier in history by first creating an imaginary person I'd like to have been, and then finding such an actual historical person, are mistaken. I didn't "work it backwards"--but Poe is working it backwards in this essay. This asshole actually has the gall to open the relevant paragraph with, "Of course I pretend no originality in either the rhythm or metre of the 'Raven.'" (At least I know how to quote a title--it should be "The Raven"). But then, Mathew said Poe exhibited amazing "sang froid" when he read the poem before what was left of a Boston audience. This is typical sociopathic behavior.
But, I digress. Again, one of these two star-signed poems I recently discovered is in Mathew's preferred style, which, except for the little variation (as Poe points out), are in the same style as "The Raven." It is also in the same style as "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," which, as scholars know, contains a line which is very similar to one found in "The Raven," and which was published by Elizbeth Barrett the preceding year. The other poem is in a similar style, being sort of masculine and sombre, but I don't have the technical expertise to give it any labels.
Here's the first poem in Mathew's preferred style that I ever found, so you can see for yourself. It is definitely his, being signed with a 100% confirmed pseudonym, "Poins," having appeared in this same newspaper, the Portland "Transcript" of March 11, 1843.
There is another one, signed with his first initial, "M," in the December 27, 1844 edition of the New York "Tribune," appearing just one month before "The Raven" was published in "American Review" under the pseudonym "---- Quarles." I give it, below, for style comparison. I cannot absolutely prove it is Mathew's, but with all the evidence taken together, in context, I'm telling you, it is also his work. It is signed from "South Attleboro, Mass.," which is roughly 75 miles south of Mathew's native Haverhill. Either he was visiting someone over the Christmas holiday, or more likely, per his usual M.O., he picked a different town in order to hide his identity.
Mathew appeaers to have adopted this style after his beloved Abby passed in 1841. There is more about "The Crucifixion" I could point out by way of interpretive back-story, but let's move on. The poem below, entitled "Hoping," was published in the May 18, 1854 edition of the "Transcript." I don't know whether or not it is "trochaic" and "octametre acatalectic." If "octametre" means eight beats per line, I think "The Raven" is eight beats, instead of four, because the lines aren't broken in half on the page. Sometimes Mathew did that, and sometimes not. But the rhythm was the same.
First we want to establish that this is Mathew's work, because the asterisk is not clearly visible in these microfilm copies unless one zooms in.
Now here is the poem in its entirety:
I can't get a good translation of the Latin--apparently it has to do with breath, but it doesn't seem to be "While there is breath, there's hope." Incidentally, there is ample evidence that Mathew knew both Latin, and all the technical terms concerning poetry and prose. I simply haven't consciously retained them in this incarnation--and in school, I felt rather an aversion to them. Remember that Mathew had the same home schooling as John Greenleaf Whittier, one of the top American poets of 19th-century America. Both boys (presumably both of them) had access to the private library of the local physician, Dr. Weld. JGW obained his higher education at the Haverhill Academy, for about a year, I think it was, in 1827/28; while Mathew obtained his by self-effort, as well as being tutored by Abby Poyen, who was manifestly a poetical prodigy. She, herself, was no-doubt home-schooled by her mother, Sally Poyen, whom historians tell us was "brilliant." In fact, all that the historians tell us about Sally, is that she was "handsome," and "brilliant." It's not easy for a housewife of the early 19th century, who is barely mentioned at all, to leave a two-word description as handsome and brilliant. You would have to be extremely smart, really remarkable.
Don't forget that there is a virtually repeated line in "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" and "The Raven," because we will come back to that, in a minute.
I have shared with you, earlier, this asterisk-signed review of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Dred," which contains Mathew's own assessment of slavery. That was published in the Nov. 15, 1856 edition of the "Transcript." But here, two years earlier, is an impassioned essay about the Fugitive Slave Act, which I found in the July 15, 1854 edition, also signed with an asterisk, and unquestionably also written by Mathew Franklin Whittier. It may not be "unquestionable" for you, but that's because you don't have all the evidence in front of you that I have. If you want that evidence, you may read my books carefully. If you choose not to read my books carefully, you may take my word for it. (See how it works? You can't have it both ways, not and be rigorous.)
Here is Mathew's essay on the Fugitive Slave Act, signed with his "star" signature. (Sorry that I have had to piece it together like this.) Now, I have speculated that a few years earlier, in 1851-53, Mathew was traveling (probably as a postal inspector), but also working as a secret liaison for William Lloyd Garrison, whose motto was "No Union With Slaveholders." He reported his contacts in a public travelogue published in the Boston "Weekly Museum," signing it as "Quails." He appears to have been personal friends with entertainer Ossian Dodge during a portion of this time, and even to have travelled with Dodge on occasion. My feeling is that Mathew actually wrote some of Dodge's comic material, because I got a "hit" of recognition on one of the routines, as it was described (the facial features of various types of people upon first seeing Niagara Falls). Because "Quails'" itinerary matched up with Dodge's performing itinerary, some of the other contributors to the "Museum" got the clever idea that "Quails" was Dodge--and the rumor spread, with Mathew's own humorous assistance, as he played along with it. That mistake was a stroke of luck that fell into his lap, because it deepened his cover, at the time. But Dodge--and the editor of the "Museum," Charles A.V. Putnam--ran with it and wouldn't let it go, so that Dodge has become the unlikely official author of "Quails," according to historians.
Now that you have seen Mathew Franklin Whittier with "gloves off" giving his real opinion of the Fugitive Slave Act, let's see what happens when he meets with the chief political architect of that hated compromise, Daniel Webster--a mere two weeks after the Act was passed. (This, from memory--I have to double-check it.) "Quails" visits Daniel Webster on the morning of Oct. 14, 1850--Mathew makes a point to even give us the time of day--seven past eight, on Monday morning! Because he wants posterity to know when this took place, once they figure out who he was, and why he was doing it. The Fugitive Slave Act had been passed on Sept. 18, 1850, or almost a month previously. (So I was off by two weeks.) Here is "Quails'" account of his visit with Daniel Webster. All very cordial, isn't it? Dan'l (as Mathew's "Ethan Spike" would call him) shows him around his farm; they both have colds. But you can bet it was a tense meeting.
Am I certain about these attributions? Am I sure that the "star" and "Quails" were the same person? Absolutely. I've told you, that if I'm uncertain about anything, I'll tell you.
By the way, does my attitude put you off? It's Mathew's personality melded with my own--although I had it much more strongly when I was an adolescent. It's years, and years, and years of frustration at being marginalized. That'll do it to you. It's what you see in John Edward, when he's tired of people denying what he's being given by his spirit team, even though he knows, from experience, that it's going to be accurate.
Now we return to the "star," and this business of Mathew re-using favorite bits. It appears he would not only rehash themes, or descriptions--he might actually rehash a favorite line, at times. Perhaps he'd just modify it a little bit. He did so with these two lines from "The Raven" and "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," respectively, as scholars have pointed out:
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
With a murmurous stir uncertain, in the air, the purple curtain
I just stumbled on another example, but for this I have to give just a tad of back-story. Do you find these back-stories interesting? I do, but perhaps that's my problem--maybe everybody else is bored. Anyway, in the May 11, 1850 edition of the Boston "Weekly Museum," "Quails," writing on May 1st, has returned to his home base in Boston. His letter sounds up-beat (even including a typical humorous sketch about a deacon), but then he closes:
Taking the cars of the Boston and Providence Railroad from Foxboro', we came in on a rail, and now that we're once more home, we again have a "poetic pheling," and, strange to say--but perhaps it is on account of our ride--it is in a vein of sadness; but what subject shall we write on? Ah! we have it--our past--roving and lonely--life, so here goes.--
Alone we're ever on our flight,
With no fair one to love us;
On barren rocks we've passed the night,
With only stars above us.
We've passed through old Gibralter's straits,
Through gloomy swamps and dry land,
Through all of the United States,
And most part of Rhode Island,
Oh, dear, oh, dear! We'll never try it again, for our old stub of a gold pen won't write poetry, any way we can fix it; but, dear Putnam, don't scold, for we thought we were in the right mood when we commenced, and if you'll only overlook it this once, we'll be sure to be in the right trim next time, or not attempt it.
Thine, with much feeling, Quails.
So far, so good. Just joking around. But in the following edition of May 18, 1850, we see am unsigned poem entitled "Love's Song." The author only tells us that it was written from Norwich, Conn. on May 1st--the same day as "Quails'" letter from Boston. I have determined that Mathew proposed to Abby on May Day; but that, in turn, comes only about two weeks after the anniversary of her funeral. So she would be very much on his mind at this time. It so happens that Norwich was on Mathew's route; he could have written the poem early that morning, and the "Quails" letter in the evening, after arriving in Boston (likely, he was experiencing insomnia). I'll cut to the chase, as the logistics are given in my book--this is also Mathew, who is an excellent, albeit extremely shy, poet. (I should mention that this poem may have been inspired, in part, by a somewhat similar one on the same theme by Emerson's mentor, Prof. Levi Frisbee.) This is the younger brother of world-famous poet John Greenleaf Whittier--and you can guess what it's like to compete with a famous older brother. You don't try--you remain hidden. You remain especially well-hidden when you reveal your deepest feelings about your late beloved--but you really keep it quiet if you are still getting visits from her, in spirit! This is Mathew's poem to Abby in spirit, and in my opinion it is every bit as good as "The Raven." Only, now, we are talking nine years after her death, when he has won the battle with his faith. She is alive, alright, and she still comes to him. This, in fact, could be looked upon as the corollary to "The Raven," the solution:
All that to show you this, from the May 14, 1853 Portland "Transcript":
One might even conclude that Mathew does this on purpose. Is he, in fact, leaving a trail of these clues, so that someone in the future will know that he was the author of "Love's Song"? I mean, of course, the almost identical line which is seen in both poems, which we our attention is forcibly drawn to, in this extremely brief poem, because it is in the title, the first line, and the last line!:
I am thine and thou art mine.
"Thou art mine, and I am thine."
This cannot be a new relationship, because Mathew speaks of "days agone." But "We have sealed it" sounds more contemporary--had this been a decade ago, he would phrase it "We had sealed it," or simply "We sealed it." So this is a girl Mathew knew long ago, and whom he still knows. The only such woman in his life as of 1853 is Abby, who is now in spirit.
In "Love's Song," this phrase is put in quotes, and I find it in a Christian hymn written by Charles and John Wesley, so one could reasonably interpret that "Love's Song" and "Mine-Thine" were written by two different poets referencing the same hymn. My case weakens slightly, here, accordingly. But not many poets using this same style would borrow this known religious phrase to represent romantic love, so these two things in juxtaposition cut down on the chances of it being a mere coincidence. And remember that we know the asterisk is Mathew's signature, especially in the "Transcript," so we know the identity of the author of this little poem. I am reasonably certain that "Love's Song" is also Mathew's--and if so, the shorter one, published three years later, appears to be an intentional reference to the first one, with the same line repeated (albeit inverted).
That isn't all I discovered in the library, but this entry is probably already too long. Just one more, okay? There is confirmation, both in 1853 and 1854, that Mathew was the original author of a series of humorous sketches written under "The Old 'Un." That series was stolen and published by Francis A. Durivage, who was actually caught plagiarizing from his editor. Durivage published these stories piecemeal, in the upscale newspaper "Gleason's Pictorial." But he also apparently tricked another writer into footing the bill for a compilation entitled "Stray Subjects Arrested and Bound Over, Being the Fugitive Offspring of the 'Old 'Un' and the 'Young 'Un," That Have Been 'Lying Round Loose,' and Are Now 'Tied Up' For Fast Keeping," on the strength of these stolen works. The other writer, one George P. Burnham, adopted the name "The Young 'Un." His sketches are "okay," not nearly the quality of Mathew's work. But I would bet dollars-to-doughnuts that's how it went down--Durivage talked Burnham into using his own money to publish the book, by flattery and camaraderie.
Very clever title, isn't it? Long-hand for "I stole 'em."
Although the vast majority of stories appearing under "The Old 'Un" in "Gleason's Pictorial" are Mathew's work, a very few of them look more like Durivage's attempts. However, the two sketches signed as "The Old 'Un" which I found in the 1853 Portland "Transcript," and the 1854 "Transcript," respectively, are clearly Mathew's, by style and content. The first one is reprinted from a newspaper which (like "Gleason's") Mathew took a dim view of. Hence, it was probably submitted to the original paper by Durivage. But Mathew would have seen it in the "Transcript." The one appearing in the 1854 "Transcript" is not indicated as having been reprinted from any other paper. If anything, it is even more clearly Mathew's work, containing (as we might expect) some clues which he seems to have planted, therein, deliberately. The first story is a typical Mathewsian "deacon" tall-tale--the sort of thing old New Englanders told around the Franklin stove at the general store. I have so many examples of Mathew's deacon stories, that I published an e-book of them. I may have to add this one, when I get a minute. But the second story is a veiled autobiographical tale referring to his and Abby's relationship--one of three or four I've found on the subject of jealousy. The name given to the girl representing Abby is "Julia," variations of which he has used for that purpose many times. Her last name is "Popkin," and Mathew has already created an essayist named "Peter Popkins," and his cousin, one "Miss Popkins," for the 1849 Boston "Weekly Museum." There's no question, "The Old 'Un" is Mathew Franklin Whittier, not known plagiarist Francis A. Durivage--his flattery-struck, rich understudy, the "Young 'Un," and their book of "stray subjects lying around loose" notwithstanding.
But I may present the evidence for that another time. Nobody cares whether "The Old 'Un" was Mathew, or Durivage. They wouldn't think this is particularly crazy of me, to claim it, and to claim that I have proven it. However, when I claim that Mathew was the original author of "The Raven"--and I have even better evidence for that claim--people probably dismiss me as a nutcase, a megalomaniac. But it isn't that. It's that I want to reclaim these works for Mathew. I don't care (at least primarily) whether they subsequently became famous, or not. The only reason it matters to me that some of these became famous, is the logistical angle. If I can prove it (which I have, now); and if I can get the right person to take me seriously, and champion my discovery (which I have not been able to do, so far), I can get proof of reincarnation out into the mainstream, in such a way that it can't be covered up by anybody, no matter how much money they have or how many strings they can pull. Once "The Raven" goes public as Mathew Franklin Whittier's work (or, if "A Christmas Carol" goes public as Mathew and Abby's collaboration), reincarnation is a genie out of the bottle that can't be stuffed back in. Pandora's Box is open at that point.
And, yes, there is a certain pride. But frankly, I am every bit as proud of "Love's Song" as I am of "The Raven," and more so inasmuch as it represents faith conquering grief.
What fun going through the old Portland "Transcript" microfilm at the library--it's like the Wells Fargo wagon! You never know what it might bring...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "The Wells Fargo Wagon," from "The Music Man"