I had mentioned recently that among the other discoveries in the 1853/54 Portland "Transcript," I found two stories signed "The Old 'Un." The first, in 1853, was reprinted from the "New York Flag of Our Union," while the one appearing in the 1854 volume wasn't attributed to any other paper. Both were demonstrably written by Mathew, especially the second, which held identifiable, idiosyncratic clues. This entire series was claimed by (and published by) a proven plagiarist, Francis A. Durivage. I had found a number of these stories in "Gleason's Pictorial" for years (I think it was) 1851/52; but I didn't know he had been publishing them in the "Flag." I just discovered the 1849 volume of the "Flag" online, digitized by the Library of Congress, and went through it. Not counting stories by Durivage's partner, "The Young 'Un," I found 14 stories by "The Old 'Un," and two poems. In quickly scanning them, I could see several distinctive elements pointing to Mathew's authorship. I also found 14 stories published under Durivage's own name (this was typical, also, in "Gleason's"), of which five look like his own work, and the rest Mathew's. These are in Mathew's typical style for foreign adventure stories. It looks as though the ones set in Latin countries are Mathew's; whereas the ones set in France are Durivage's. Their respective writing styles are very different; and Mathew's, in particular, is distinctive.
In my study, this is already a known plagiarism of Mathew's work. But Durivage must have stolen a huge body of stories, plus a few poems. I don't remember how many I already had, from "Gleasons"--perhaps 10 or 12. Now, I have another 14! Mathew really cranked out the work, there's no question about it. I'm not sure what the politics of the "Flag" was, but I've seen Mathew disparage the quality of their prize-winning tales. I saw that in 1849, the "Flag" paid some serious money for these contests--in one instance, at the beginning of the year, $1,000 for the winner, and $500 for the runner-up. Shall I see what $1,000 was in 1849?
The historical inflation counter tells us that in 1849, $1,000 was $32,611.28 in 2018 dollars. Can that be right? At any rate, Mathew has disparaged this paper's prize-winning tales; and he has also said that he never reads "Gleason's." Durivage was publishing Mathew's stories in newspapers Mathew never read.
It's going to take me a long, long time to key these all in. As I do, I will no-doubt run across evidential "bits." I already saw some, as said, while I was running through that volume. And there are probably more in subsequent volumes (though the Library doesn't seem to have those). Durivage must have taken an entire compilation of Mathew's stories, all written under the same pseudonym, and published them, himself. I'm thinking he represented himself as a publishing agent to Mathew, and Mathew, who was known to be gullible, trusted him to find a publisher. He found a publisher, alright--more than one--but he kept the money, and the fame, for himself.
Unless you were prepared to shoot someone or beat them up, I'm not sure there was much you could do about it in the 19th century. Mathew was non-violent, being raised Quaker. Perhaps by the time he realized what Durivage had been up to (having probably told him he couldn't find a publisher for the material), it was too late. All of these pieces had already been published, and the money paid (to Durivage). But Mathew did, apparently, publish one more, in the 1854 Portland "Transcript," which contains very strong clues to his own authorship--perhaps so posterity would be sure to figure it out. That is, if anybody ever researched his life and work.
Nobody ever did--except me. And I had already figured it out--just as I had already figured out that he was the real author of the "Quails" travelogue that was attributed to Ossian Dodge, before I found the message that Mathew left to posterity (and, perhaps, to me) about that one.
I suppose no-one cares. The three academicians who might care, wouldn't give me the time of day, if I tried to identify them and write to them. And nobody else is concerned with any minor literary thefts of the 19th century. I can't get anyone to believe me about the ones that are still famous, like "The Raven." But all of these were the same, in the 19th century. "The Raven" was one of some 30 poems Mathew had published, and while it was among his best, it probably wasn't even his top poem--nor was Poe the only plagiarist he had to deal with. Poe's thefts obviously rankled Mathew, based on his various embedded, coded messages to him; but no more than this one would have. And I feel the same way, today. You who think I am trying to inflate my ego by claiming a famous piece of literature, don't get it. I am still pissed about all of them, for the same reason you would be pissed at someone who broke into your house and stole your laptop. It doesn't matter to you whether your laptop was famous. It was your own damned laptop.
If you're interested, you can go through this volume yourself. There is something by either "The Old 'Un" or Durivage in almost every edition. Just keep in mind what I said, that in a quick perusal, all of the "Old 'Un" pieces appear to be Mathew's; while the stories under "Durivage" that are set in Latin countries appear to be Mathew's work, whereas the ones set in France are mostly, if not all, probably Durivage's.
(You will have to cut-and-paste, because by policy I don't put live links into this blog--not even the Library of Congress's--as sooner or later they tend to go dead, which theoretically--if I had any presence on Google at all--would hurt my ranking.) They didn't shoot this volumne in high-enough resolution, but the resolution is better online than it is if you download it.
More on this later as I key these things in.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who
from the album, "Who's Next"