Here's my third video, presenting the 16th piece of evidence concerning Mathew Franklin Whittier's authorship of "The Raven":
Today, I made a couple of discoveries--and you can see how my books have grown so large. They're both crammed with evidence. It's not a matter of me running off at the mouth.
Anyway, this afternoon I went to the Portland Room at the Portland Public Library, where one can access the Portland "Transcript" on microfilm (except where there are gaps in the collection). I was looking for Mathew's reviews signing as "M.D.W." I'd found a number of them in my own 1870 volume, and earlier I'd found one in 1874, so I assumed they would be in the intervening volumes, as well. Unfortunately, the library didn't have 1871, so I simply moved on to 1872. I wasn't seeing "M.D.W.," but I was seeing book reviews written under "A. Bookworm." I knew that Mathew had once used a similar pseudonym, "A. Trunk," and I felt that it was his series--but my mind was so set on the assumption that "M.D.W." would be spanning 1870 and 1874, that I kept ignoring them. Finally, I noticed one on the origin of one of Mathew's favorite characters from "La Fontaine's Fables," Reynard the Fox. There's a back-story to that, but perhaps you recall it if you've been reading these for awhile. Mathew, as I believe, translated those Fables from French verse into English verse, as part of his homework under Abby's tutelage, many years earlier (despite the fact that his friend, Elizur Wright, published them giving himself as the translator). But Mathew has made reference to Reynard the Fox more than once over the years.
Then, I saw another "A. Bookworm" review, this time of a book recounting the history of the Underground Railroad. Of course, by 1872, this is history. But Mathew was directly involved in the Railroad, and this history was personal, for him.
So with these two examples, and the fact that the writing style matches, I'm pretty sure Mathew switched over, for some reason, from "M.D.W." to "A. Bookworm." This was obviously bread-and-butter stuff, for him. I made the decision--the first time I've ever done this--to copy a few samples, but not to attempt to preserve and digitize every single installment of this series. I'm burned out, I have enough of this sort of thing from Mathew, and, frankly, while he was getting paid for the time it took him, I'm not getting paid for archiving them. This isn't tremendously creative work, though of course it's well-written. The same goes for Mathew's lyceum (speech) reviews. I copied a couple of them from 1872, but I don't intend to make an exhaustive search of it. I once calculated that if Mathew wrote every day during the 50 years he was publishing, it would come out to something like (as I recall) 18,000 pieces. Is that right? Three-hundred sixty-five times 50...
Yes, 18,250. I have something like 1,600 or 1,700, now. So at most I have a 10th of his total output.
Now, here's the more interesting of today's discoveries. I'm still going through the New York humor magazine from 1846/47, "Yankee Doodle," the brainchild of author Cornelius Mathews. In the introduction to Vol. II, in 1847, I see a number in an ongoing series entitled "Scenes in Our Sanctum," which is to say, the goings-on in the editor's office. But I'm pretty sure this one features Mathew. I'll just link to the pdf, here. Mathew is the "chief jester."
This is a not-especially-kind caricature of Mathew, from someone who is supposedly his friend and colleague. Mathew was so naive, he would good-naturedly let a friend poke fun at him like this, laughing along with him. But really, he shouldn't have. This isn't the only time I've seen this. It's disturbingly similar to the relationship that Mathew seems to have developed with B.P. Shillaber, editor of the Boston "Carpet-Bag" (a similar magazine), in 1851-53. In fact, before I started this entry, I called up a few of these, so let me share with you a quote from Shillaber. You'll see how similar it is to the "Yankee Doodle" editor. But here, Shillaber is making fun, not of Mathew's unhappiness (because he was grieving for Abby somewhat less intensely in 1852 than he had been in 1847); but rather, Mathew's sensitivity. Instead of grieving for Abby, by 1852 Mathew was attempting to contact her in the astral realm, as I do, today (and if you want comparisons between a past-life personality and the present-life personality, I'd say this is a good one--I didn't know Mathew had done that, when I started doing it).
So Mathew writes piercingly beautiful poetry about reaching out to Abby and the other occupants of the astral world--but Shillaber prefaces these poems with cartoonish descriptions of him as "The Sensitive Man" (with friends like this, you don't need enemies*). This is from the Sept. 25, 1852 edition:
The Sensitive Man stood by our window as a strain of music was borne upon the wings of the circumambient air to his waiting spirit. A voice, rich in melody, was, trilling forth notes long familiar to his ear, which his soul received as the parched earth receives the latter rain, or the withering flower opes its petals to the midnight dew. Sinking into our chair he thus uttered himself while his ear still drank in the melody from
Over the Way.
Oh, sweet the note ringing there
Over the way,
Blessed thoughts bringing there
Over the way;
Sweet voices swelling
Glad tales are telling,
All gloom dispelling
Over the way.
Music sweet sounding there
Over the way,
Rapture abounding there
Over the way;
Oh, cease not its trilling,
Oh, cease not distilling
That melody "killing"
Over the way.
Sing thou that strain again
Over the way,
Let me not ask in vain
Over the way:
'Tis joy to my spirit—
My heart leaps to hear it,
Fair minstrel, still cheer it
Over the way.
Abby had a fine singing voice, and used to sing for Mathew. I've shared with you that the passage in "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" (which the future Elizabeth Barrett Browning stole from Mathew in 1844), in which "Lady Geraldine" sings for "Bertram," was based on Abby singing for Mathew, out in Nature.
Regarding Cornelius Mathews' perception of Mathew, it will be interesting to compare the way that famous psychic Andrew Jackson Davis perceived him, when they met privately in 1854. This is from Davis' book, "Events in the Life of a Seer":
To-day I have come within one of having a personal interview with the poet Whittier; that is, I have just had a long, pleasant talk with the poet's own brother. He is a rather solemn, quiet gentleman; smiles rarely and confidently; converses with great caution, like a retired clergyman, and looks like one who seldom felt the emotions of humor. Fancy my great pleasure when a friend assured me that this same solemn, thoughtful, unsmiling gentleman is the celebrated "Ethan Spike, Esq., of Hornby, Me."
I have many times had the feeling, when examining this passage, that Mathew was a bit more taciturn than usual, because he was testing Davis. But in 1854, Mathew was not publicly known as the author of "Ethan Spike." He was only exposed as its author in 1857. There's a possibilty that Davis, himself, was the unwitting culprit, though this book came out later on. I say that, because of Mathew's self-description at that time. This is a little confusing--Mathew has just been "outed" as "Ethan Spike"; here, he takes on a new character named "Old Casual," who claims to know Ethan Spike. Being, as it appears, down-and-out on a remote island off the coast of northern Maine, he tells the vagabonds and sailors he has fallen in with, about Spike, and they don't believe him!
My bizness ain't to get published, fur thank George! ive ben thru that tryin ordeul, and cum aout double; but being daown hear to see about them spilin, and not havin anything perticular to ingage my attention Sabber days, I kinder boarded raound amungts the nabobs, and paid for my :shack readin stories out of them are transcrip newspapers that yer gin me when i was to Portland. But of all the peaces that yeou hav printed, ther was'nt nothin' that tickled um like Ethan Spikes letters--i thought to my soul they would her split theirselves laffin. They had scene sum of them papers afore, and red sum of them letters, but they told me they maid sure that they was maid up aout of hul cloff--but when I told um that i had sein Mr. Spike, and all about him, and excribed jist haow he looked, and haow he went dresst--and what kind of a housen he lived inter--and what kind ov a baird he had--and all abought his little spikes--and what fine harty helthy galls he had, with cheeks as red as roses--and what a dasher he was at writin--and how sedate he was, and how he sumtimes preached--then they couldn't seam to contain themselves any longer, but all belched aout together, and told me i was welcome to stay there as long as they had a mowful of vittles left, and wanted me for to rite wright off to yeou, and tu git you to git him tu right one of his crank letters as much as every weak---
I telled 'em i hadn't much influenze as i new on with the editurs, but that I lived enamost tu his hous when i was tu hum, and that i would taik an airly oppertunity when i arriv hum, and lay thar case before him, and try to interseed on thair account, and i didn't doubt but i could hav a grate wait on his detarmination, in as much as we had sot tugether so long in the chamber uv the Common Skowndrels.
When i tould em what a grave kinder of a Ministerial looking man Ethan Spike was; haow he looked like a reglar Jewish hy preast, a handlin shoebread--that he was tall and kind of commandin in his reappearance; that he woar a long black cloak; that he was a member of the church to Mecanic Haul--one kind of a sailer feller swore rite aout, and said he'd be dod rotted if he didn't believe i was stuffin on um--dogged if he did,--a chap like that never could wright them ar--dogged if he could!
Tu maik a long story short, abought 17 or 18 hev agread to superscribe and pa doun in advance beforehand for the Trans Script ef you will giv um suthin, every weak from Ethan Spike. Yours to sarve
P.S. To save inquiries let me just ad, that Pidgeon Hill is in the County of Hancock, and in the intermediate vicinity of Bobair Ileand--O.C.
There are a lot of clues embedded in just what I've copied, above. Shall I touch on them?
The first line refers to publisher George W. Light, his editor way back in the early 1830's, having plagiarized his and Abby's poetry in a very small book entitled "Keep Cool, Go Ahead and a Few Other Poems." "Thank George...cum aout double..."
Mathew writes "Old Casual" in precisely the same style that he writes "Ethan Spike." But while he speaks of Spike as an acquaintance, when he describes him, that's him. Which is to say, he had two little girls (and an older boy who isn't mentioned); he was separated from his wife, but supported her and kept a place nearby so he could visit his children. He became unable to support this second family, as he had been doing for about eight years, because of this financial blow.
Mathew had written his brother about preaching four Spiritualist sermons the previous year, in Mechanics' Hall, in Portland.
Mathew knew the editors of the Portland "Transcript" personally, and could ask them for personal favors, as for example requesting that his pieces, written under different pseudonyms, be printed back-to-back (for reasons of his own).
Because he had been exposed as the author of the radical "Ethan Spike" series, he was being blacklisted, and had lost his trading company (a front for his abolitionist activities). He had probably hit the bottle again, and thus had been sitting in the "chamber uf the Common Skowndrels."
Now we come to Andrew Jackson Davis' description, which Mathew here caricatures. Mathew did look like a Jewish priest--in fact, when he says "commandin in his reappearance," he is saying that he believes he is the reincarnation of such a person. The two letters, "re," change the meaning completely--and this was Mathew's subtlety. "Member of the church to Mecanic Haul" means the Spiritualist church in Mechanics' Hall.
Mathew was low on cash, having lost his company and being unable to find work due to being blacklisted in Portland. So he is joking--to the editors--that he wants "Ethan Spike" to be made a weekly column in the "Transcript."
Bois Bubert Island, off the coast of Northern Maine, is shown in the cover of my sequel, "Mathew Franklin Franklin Whittier in his own world."
I know all of Mathew's work in this depth, including its hidden meanings and references. When I say that Mathew was the real author of "The Raven," I'm not just blowing smoke. I've done my homework, and I understand the back-story in as much depth as I've revealed in this "Old Casual" piece.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*It's not entirely clear when Mathew, himself, may have written some of the "Sensitive Man" carictures in self-deprecating humor; but since he was out of town when one of them was published, Shillaber appears to have written at least some of them. Furthermore, Shillaber seems to have written an entire series in a similar vein, entitled "Blifkins, the Martyr," based on anecdotes Mathew told him about his second, arranged marriage.
Music opening this page: "Take a Pebble," by Emerson, Lake & Palmer,
from the album, "Emerson, Lake & Palmer"