I don't have time or energy to spend all day on this, but I'm going to leave a dated marker in the shape of this posted entry.
Some months ago, when I was perusing the 1849 Portland "Transcript," I discovered that Mathew Franklin Whittier appeared to have renewed his private attack on Edgar Allan Poe, regarding Poe's theft of "The Raven" in 1845. One of those missives was an article entitled "Mr. Poe's Valentine," published in the "Transcript" of March 3, 1849. In it, he reproduces the poem, which is said to include a coded name. Mathew easily breaks the code, publishes the solution, and suggests that one might expect something more sophisticated from the (supposed) author of "The Gold Bug."
As I prepare to key in the fourth "Old 'Un" sketch in the 1849 "Flag of Our Union" (the entire series having been plagiarized from Mathew by Francis Durivage), I see that in the March 3, 1849 edition, Poe's poem, "A Valentine," appears on the second page--the same page as the "Old 'Un" sketch appears. But Poe's poem is indicated, in this paper, as having been "Written for The Flag of our Union." That means that Mathew's response was published on the same day as Poe's poem made its debut.
It gets more interesting. Mathew's one-off signature for this response is "Polonius." I have explained earlier that in the early 1840's, Mathew used the signature, "Poins," and that this is 100% confirmed for his pen. "Poins" and "Polonius," aside from sounding similar, are both Shakespearean characters. "Poins," as I had looked into it (not having read Shakespeare in this life), represented Mathew's character. If Mathew shared his work from the early 1840's with Edgar Allan Poe, Poe would have been aware of this pseudonym. But "Polonius" is a disparaging reference--a sort of gadfly, if I remember the description I read of him. When I first discovered this response by Mathew, I felt that Poe would have to have privately mocked him as "Polonius" (i.e., as a play on "Poins"), such that Mathew, exposing Poe's childish code, is deliberately taking it on as a pseudonym in defiance, and because Poe (and no-one else) will know that he is the author.
I could flesh this out, but I'm going back to my digitizing. How did Mathew get an advance copy of this poem? Being a personal friend of the editor of the "Transcript," was he able to get a proof of the "Flag," early enough to insert it into the March 3rd "Transcript"? Or did he have a confederate inside the "Flag"? I'm assuming that the "Flag's" printing of that poem was, in fact, the first, as "Written for" normally indicates.
It gets curiouser and curiouser..."
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. I had mentioned that if I were to show someone all the cross-correspondences between Mathew's known work, and the "Old 'Un" sketches plagiarized by Durivage, it would take three days. But I didn't give any examples. Mathew was fond of idiosyncratic colloquialisms, which is fortunate for us, because one can cross-reference his use of them under different pseudonyms. One such expression was "2-40," which I finally figured out was a racing term--presumably, two minutes, 40 seconds. He didn't use it as much as some others, but it seems to be pretty rare. As said, I had trouble finding any examples online, at all. I don't think it was all that common in the day. So when I find three examples in Mathew's known "Ethan Spike," and two examples in the "Old 'Un" series, it's significant. I just found the second example for the "Old 'Un," today, in the March 31, 1849 edition of the "Flag of Our Country." I already had another one, from the group that Francis Durivage published a couple of years later in "Gleason's Pictorial." So I thought I'd just present them graphically (as a picture tends to be more impactful, for skeptics, than words). This is not proof by itself. This is a fraction of my cumulative evidence. You will note that one of these "Ethan Spikes," and one of the "Old 'Un" sketches, each feature a deacon. These excerpts were chosen for the term "2 40," so the inclusion of a deacon in two of them is coincidental. Mathew wrote so many deacon stories, that I've published a separate compilation of them (for sale in my online store). By the way, these stories are really, really, really good. I'm just saying. I'm not into marketing hype. So here are the examples--I couldn't find a photograph of one of the three "Ethan Spikes," so I'm just showing two, along with the two "Old 'Un" examples. These are from, in order: 1) "Ethan Spike," Portland "Transcript," 1/7/60; "Ethan Spike," Portland "Transcript," 9/18/69; "The Old 'Un," "Gleason's Pictorial," 9/6/51; "The Old 'Un," "The Flag of Our Country," 3/31/49.
Music opening this page: "Did You Steal My Money," by The Who,
from the album, "Face Dances"