Today, I'm keying in a bunch of Mathew Franklin Whittier's pieces from the 1846 New York humor magazine, "Yankee Doodle." I wanted to share this one with you, for several reasons. Firstly, how well it's done. This is a faux letter from a soldier at the front in the Mexican-American War, written by Mathew--who was raised Quaker--in protest. It is Mathew's speciality to write ironic letters in-character, to undermine his opponent's position. I could give numerous examples, including an anti-duelling letter he published in 1838 in his own short-lived paper, the Salisbury "Monitor," which was picked up and praised by William Lloyd Garrision in his own paper, "The Liberator."
So the second point is that there is no question that this is Mathew's work; and that puts him in New York City in late 1846.
This is also the period when I have determined he was writing a regular column of reviews and essays for the "Tribune," signing them with a single printer's asterisk, or "star." That was his long-time secret pseudonym since 1831, and he returned to it periodically throughout his career. But that series in the "Tribune" has been erroneously attributed to Margaret Fuller.
If Mathew was the "star" in the "Tribune"--which column began in late 1844, a few months before "The Raven" was published--that puts him in a direct position to submit the poem to "American Review" in February of 1845, under the one-time signature, "---- Quarles" (and we have abundant evidence that Mathew greatly admired the poetry of Francis Quarles).
Now, with this much evidence, if I write a personal (not canned) letter to dozens and dozens of university professors in America, Canada and the UK, who specialize in a related area, what should be happening is that some significant portion of them should be sincerely interested. Because I've got the goods--I have the evidence. Which is to say, I have enough evidence--and enough credentials--that what I'm saying should be taken seriously, and they should want to know more.
That is not what happened. I got brushed off--tersely, or politely, as the case may be.
This, in turn, indicates that not a single one of these academicians is objective, in his or her search for scholastic truth.
Now, it may gradually dawn on some of them that maybe they should have paid more attention--and some may write me back, say, in a matter of months or even years. But that's not good enough. These are supposed to be the champions of truth in our Western society. These are the "priests of knowledge." But the priests have their ears stopped up.
This spells trouble. It means that there is a decay at the heart of Society, if the priests won't take good research, which contradicts their beliefs and which comes from outside the system, seriously.
Read the previous entry. What I'm suggesting is really not as far-fetched as it seems. I'm looking now at a Rolling Stone article, which gives us 12 historical copyright suits in popular music. It includes:
1) "Surfin' U.S.A." by the Beach Boys (1963) vs. "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry;
2) "Bring It On Home," by Led Zeppelin (1969) vs. "Bring It On Home," by Sonny Boy Williamson (written by Willie Dixon) (1966); and
"Whole Lotta Love," by Led Zeppelin (1969) vs. "You Need Love," by Muddy Waters (written by Willie Dixon) (1962);
3) "My Sweet Lord," by George Harrison (1970) vs. "He's So Fine," by the Chiffons (written by Ronnie Mack) (1962) (ruled "subconscious plagiarism");
4) "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr. (1984) vs. "I Want a New Drug," by Huey Lewis and the News (1984);
5) "Blurred Lines," by Robin Thicke (cowritten by Pharrell) (2013) vs. "Got to Give It Up," by Marvin Gaye (1977)
My research results are perfectly sound, and perfectly reasonable. The (unstated) knee-jerk reaction that I must be a crazy conspiracy theorist, is uncalled for. It says more about the highly-credentialed people making that assumption, than it does about me or my results.
Meanwhile, take just a little time out to read this faux letter by Mathew. It's extremely well-written, and I'll bet it cut down significantly on the rate of young men volunteering for the Mexican-American War, in what was by far the most heavily-populated city in America--all from behind a cloak of anonymity.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. There's one more little tie-in with this piece I just shared--did you see it? Such things are not proof, in-and-of themselves. They are just part of the intricate tapestry of a real life, where one sees repeating and intersecting elements. Mathew, as I have determined from other clues, was fascinated by ancient ruins, and in particular by Herculaneum. It is the bust of Pallas (i.e., Athena) from Herculaneum which, Mathew tells us (through B.P. Shillaber's satire on him), reminded him of Abby. And it is that bust which shows up, symbolically representing Abby's guiding wisdom, in "The Raven." Here, Mathew compares his long-time medical complaint to Mt. Vesuvius, signing with that name. But note the asterisk. Where "Vesuvius" says he has "buried a generation," the asterisk tells us that he--Vesuvius--buried Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Music opening this page, "War," by Edwin Starr