Following up on yesterday's entry, I thought I'd link to the original, unsigned story which Mathew wrote concerning his visitation dream. I am simply pulling out bits, here, from my books. Those books are crammed full of these fascinating finds. This is not the sort of tome which drones on and on with intellectual formulae and speculation. Both books are as large as they are, because they are stuffed full of discoveries. I have been drawing from that material for these blogs for some years now, and haven't run out, yet.
But of course, for the sake of space, in the books I rarely attempt to present an entire work--I usually have to excerpt and summarize. (Though I did break with policy in the second book, by presenting some complete poems.) Here in this blog, however, for the three people who read it and for any audience I might have in the future, I can give entire pieces. This is Mathew's allegorical tale from the Jan. 3, 1852 edition of the Boston "Weekly Museum," entitled "Scene in a Western Editor's Sanctum." Presumably, Mathew has placed the story in the West, because it is thought to be rougher there; and also, as a typical precaution against being identified as the author and symbolic subject. I have read interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita which indicate that it, too, is an allegory. For example, where you have Krishna and Arjuna, his charioteer, driving into battle (or contemplating doing so), Krishna is the real Self; Arjuna is the individualized ego; the chariot is the mind (I think--this is from memory), the horses are the senses, and so-on.
Here, the Poet is the heart; the "Tough" is the overwhelming desire, in grief, to believe that the visitation dream or contact from the other side was real; and the reluctant Editor is the skeptical mind. The Editor finally agrees to "publish" (i.e., to accept) the poem, only on the condition that he can edit it. And his edit is a very serious one, because he changes the conclusion to that of finding a new partner, rather than dying soon to join the lost one. I don't think I need to interpret that being "released from prison" means, dying.
I wonder--how many readers, do you think, pierced through the superficial, humorous layer of this piece to its deeper, personal meaning? Which was based on an actual experience? Did the editor, himself, even understand it? I strongly suspect that half the time, even Mathew's editors didn't realize what he was up to, because many of them were conservatives, while Mathew was a politically radical Spiritualist.
As I look at the pdf, myself, I note that the unsigned review of Ralph Waldo Emerson's lecture was very likely also written by Mathew.* Not only is it his style, his sense of humor, and his irreverent, half-believing take on "phrenology," but it would be totally inconsistent with the editor of this paper, Charles A.V. Putnam, as my research has revealed his character and temperament. Putnam (as later described by Samuel Clemens) was bright enough, but he was a man's man, a sort of rough-and-ready character, a womanizer and a racist. He's unlikely to have either attended Emerson's lecture, or to have appreciated it. Mathew, however, knew Emerson and the other Transcendentalists, and reported on lectures as a side income. Incidentally, while Mathew may not have agreed with Emerson regarding Fate, what he says is actually correct, in the sense that in the early stages of an individual's development, he is, relatively-speaking, at the mercy of his karma; but in later stages, he masters it. So if Emerson was speaking of an individual moving through the reincarnation process, but referring to karma only as "Fate," then this would have been correct. The error would have been Mathew's, as in 1852, he was only beginning to seriously entertain the possibility of past lives. I have mentioned that I now have evidence that Mathew knew these people (Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, directly, and probably others). His relationship with them was ambivalent, because by rights and by his acumen as a philosopher, he belonged among their ranks; but they generally did not accept him as an equal, knowing him primarily as John Greenleaf Whittier's little brother, and a humorous writer of (ostensible) slapstick. Mathew, here, anonymously reviews Emerson not only with humor, but as his intellectual peer. Emerson does seem to have praised Mathew as a young philosopher at one point, but I can't prove it was he that Emerson was referring to--only that Mathew alludes to the quote in a context which suggests it.
Note also, on this same page, the reprinted private postscript from "Quails" regarding having seen the Crystal Palace (where the London World Fair was held) the previous year. Putnam, himself, asserted, toward the end of the paper's life in mid-1852, that "Quails" had been entertainer Ossian Dodge, who subsequently bought out the paper. But "Quails" was Mathew, as well. (In January, 1852, Mathew had already returned from his overseas trip, but the "Museum" was still running his European letters in a delayed series--thus, he could be attending lectures in Boston, while "Quails" was still reporting from Europe. Neither Mathew, nor "Quails," are seen in Dodge's overtly racist paper once he takes over.)
Now, returning to the "A. Trunk" poem and the story, there is a logistical problem with the dates, if this is, in fact, the visitation dream that Mathew reports as "A. Trunk," writing for the Boston "Carpet-Bag." This story is published on Jan. 3; whereas the "A. Trunk" poem about seeing the panorama in Amory Hall, in Boston, appears roughly a month later, on Feb. 7. Furthermore, Mathew seems to have been on a freelance reporting assignment in Washington, D.C. during this period. However, the panorama opened on Dec. 31, 1851. Mathew would typically have gone to the opening, for his report (and I would expect this given his personal eagerness and temperament, as well). At the outset of the poem, he tells us that "the snow was hard, and the stars were bright," which is plausible for Dec. 31st, but perhaps more likely for early February. Weather history is sketchy for the mid-19th century--you have to rely on incidental newspaper reports, or diaries. With some digging, one might be able to find whether it had snowed at the end of 1851, in Boston. That could disprove my speculation that this story reflects the same visitation dream as the one Mathew reported in the poem... Actually, I found it right away, on this website:
There was a "mid-December snowfall of 6 inches in Boston," and "subzero cold in New England on December 26" (minus eight in Boston). So a December 31st description that the "snow was hard, and the stars were bright" would be entirely consistent. Once again, this is the sort of thing that happens when your theory is essentially correct. Most of the time, by far, the more you poke into things, the more corroboration you find. You don't have to jam a square peg into a round hole, because both the peg and the hole are round, so that in the main, the peg goes in quite easily. I found this with regard to Mathew's proposed co-authorship of "A Christmas Carol," as well. I knew nothing about the history of this story, or of Dickens' supposed authorship of it, but the more I dug, the more likely it became that he had not really written it, but rather had obtained the original manuscript from Mathew when he was in Boston, in February of 1842. (I distinctly remember being concerned, when I started looking into this history, that the date of publication and Dickens' first U.S. visit might not line up.)
I think the point I wish to make, with this, is how Mathew wrote in layers. He did this all his life. In fact, a poem that Mathew wrote when he was 14 years old (going on 15), for the "New-England Galaxy," in doggerel form, was in two layers. It was ostensibly a letter, in verse, to his cousin Dick at Buxton, Maine. Mathew had an actual second cousin, Richard Whittier, in Methuen, Mass.--where he and Abby were staying, as I believe, when they began work on "A Christmas Carol" in 1838. Mathew would typically have changed the town to protect his, and Richard's, identity. But, I digress. This poem seems to be a letter about the author's job as a cabinet maker's assistant--but it is actually commentary on Dionysius Lardner's "Cabinet Cyclopaedia."
Note the signaure, "P.P.," which as I explained in yesterday's entry, appears to have stood for Mathew's nickname, "Peter Pumpkin."
"The Raven" was also written in layers. But Poe, when he explained his supposed process of writing this poem, ignored them. Instead, he bullshitted his way through what would have been his own method, had he written it--strictly an intellectual exercise of building it from various stylistic elements. Poe's explanation is stylistic, with no back-story. Mathew had a deep back-story for this poem, as he had for almost all of his works, including his pseudonym, "---- Quarles." I have never seen Poe give an explanation for his having (supposedly) chosen this pseudonym. The explanation offered by academicians is the lame one, that "American Review" required pseudonyms. Actually, they did not, as I recall seeing a digital copy of the magazine--they required anonymity, but you could simply omit a signature, if you wanted to. I'd have to check on that to be certain... That is correct, some are unsigned, some have pseudonyms, and one is written "By A Contributor." So Poe did not have to adopt a pseudonym for "The Raven." (He rarely used them, presumably because, like Mathew's brother John Greenleaf Whittier, he wanted to promote himself.) I have pointed out before, that Mathew praised deeply religious poet Francis Quarles not long before "The Raven" was published, whereas Poe is very unlikely to have appreciated him, no less used his name as a pseudonym. Obviously, Poe made sure his own name was attached to the plagiarized copy he arranged to have published in the paper he wrote for as a critic, the New York "Evening Mirror."
I could go into the symbolism which Mathew embedded in "The Raven," and how it related to him, personally--the deep back-story in the poem, for him--but I have done that elsewhere in this blog, and I've done an even more thorough job of it, in my books. What I'm trying to do, here, is to show the precedent for this kind of writing, in Mathew's work. Practically everything he wrote--from his very first poem about "Daniel in the Lions' Den," to his 14-year-old doggerel about cabinet-making, was written in layers. Mathew didn't believe in building a poem out of intellectual blocks, like a lego project, as Poe did. He wrote from flashes of inspiration which pressed from inside to be put onto paper. He had enough skill that he could express himself without undo strain, on the technical side. In other words, he had that mastery of his craft which enabled him to express himself, unhindered--much as guitarist Eric Johnson can do, today. He did not have to think about whether the Raven's black plumage might contrast with the white alabaster of the bust of Pallas. Or whether it would have more "moral weight" for the events to take place in an enclosed space, as opposed to outdoors. Mathew had an actual replica of the Herculaneum bust of Pallas, which reminded him somewhat of Abby; and as we have seen in the "A. Trunk" poem, he was hoping for a spirit visitation, but was also afraid of it (read the ending of that poem). Whether or not a raven actually tapped at his window, we don't know--probably he heard something, and was both hopeful and fearful that it might be a vistation. He was literally up late reading, as was his habit--possibly even the old volume of Francis Quarles, which he mentions having in his possession, in his 1831/32 review in "The Essayist" under "Franklin, Jr."
In other words, Poe's explanation of writing this poem in his "Essay on Composition" is pure horseshit. Which is what it reads like. He was faking it, probably because people were questioning his authorship, and he had to shore up his claim with this pseudo-scholarly explanation.
It's obvious when you have all the facts in. I'm not citing all of them, here. Those of you who are struggling with your skeptical mind, I'm telling you, this is not sloppy magical thinking. I am not putting 2 plus 2 together and getting 5. I have done my homework. Mathew Franklin Whittier was the real author of "The Raven," and he was screwed by this phony literati wannabe, Poe, with whom he appears to have shared several very personal poems, written in honor of Abby, sometime (as I recall my conclusions) in late 1842 or very early 1843. He also must have sent at least two poems to Elizabeth Barrett--"Lady Geraldine's Courtship,"** and "The Lost Bower"--which she simply included in her 1844 compilation. That's why there is a nearly identical line about purple curtains (which Mathew actually had) in "Geraldine" and "The Raven"--not because Poe had imitated her by way of flattery. His lavish dedication of his compilation, "The Raven and Other Poems," to Barrett, was damage control when he realized what had happened.***
Poe was a slick con-artist. He couldn't write poetry. As near as I can tell, all his quality poems were stolen. Same with Barrett. Not all of them were stolen from Mathew. But these people--and Margaret Fuller, too, who claimed Mathew's asterisk-signed reviews in the New York "Tribune"--were phonies. And, they apparently knew each other. It was a society of phony literati, who were preying upon the real ones, the obscure ones, who for one reason or another wished to remain anonymous.
I get so frustrated with this. But I am aware that if I ever get anyone's attention, the likelihood is that I will get the attention of someone who wants to claim this discovery for him- or herself, and get famous thereby. I can only say that this is the age of the internet, and I can prove that I was first. Having written these entries so frequently, I'm guessing that at least some of them have been archived on Archive.org's "Wayback Machine"--let me check...here's one they have preserved for July 24, 2016:
That means I can prove my claim as of that date, unequivocally (which lawyers like). The internet makes the little guy almost as powerful as the big guy, in many respects. If someone attempts to scoop me on this, I will not remain in the shadows and take symbolic pot-shots, the way I did as Mathew Franklin Whittier. I will come out swinging, with the best lawyer I can convince to take it on, and perhaps with the press, as well. And that might give me the publicity I can't afford any other way...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*In the April 7, 1849 edition of the Portland (Maine) "Transcript," for which (as I have all but proven) Mathew anonymously covered the Mercantile Library Association's lyceum series, he opens his report on another lecture by Emerson in a very similar vein:
"On Wednesday evening of last week our citizens had the pleasure of again listening to our deep thinking countryman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and upon this occasion the subject was more congenial to the man, and better calculated to display his peculiar style and manner of thinking, than was his lecture upon the English. Mr. Emerson's style and expression are so different from any other lecturer's, his thoughts run in such deep and unusual channels, and the subjects of which he treats are of so subtle and metaphysical a nature, that it is impossible to report him in a full and connected manner. We can but give a few detached thoughts as samples of his discourse, a few fragments of ore as specimens of the richness of his mine of thought. And indeed, it is only in fragments that his ideas are thrown out. They are not fully elaborated, but only mysteriously hinted at. His intellect does not emit a steady light, but shoots out vivid flashes of thought, irradiating the mind's horizon for a moment, and then giving place to the original misty twilight."
**Note that "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" is a letter written (by a man!) to a friend in verse, just as Mathew's doggerel to his cousin Dick was a letter in verse. And his "A. Trunk" poem about the panorama was a report in verse. This was typical of Mathew's literary MO.
***To my mind, what Poe is inferring by dedicating his compilation to Barrett is nonsensical. If you have a nearly identical line, you are not imitating in admiration, you are flat-out plagiarizing. But Poe doesn't admit to plagarizing Barrett, he admits to the lesser charge of admiration. If we admit that he was plagiarizing Barrett, then it is more logical (or at least just as logical) that both Barrett and Poe were plagiarizing Mathew, not just for one line, but with entire poems. The nearly-identical lines appear because they were derived from a common, third source. Mathew portrayed the purple curtain in two different poems, because it was an actual momento of his life with Abby, which contained strong sentimental meaning for him.
Music opening this page, "Desert Rose," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "A Via Musicom"