It's a quiet Sunday, and pretty-much the entire day is dedicated to formatting these star-signed reviews and essays from the 1844-46 New York "Tribune," which Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote, but which have been erroneously attributed to Margaret Fuller. I have over 100 of them still to go--it's a bit of a slog. But this morning my eye fell on a pseudo-letter from the "Old Man of the Mountain," in the New Hampshire White Hills. I had seen this before, and dismissed it--but I remembered feeling it was my past-life work. I got the same feeling today, only stronger, so I stopped to read it. It's MFW, alright. Mathew has done this, before--personified, or anthropomorphized something, writing as though that thing was a person. He has done this with a jacknife, a bed-bug, an "album" (the kind people wrote pithy poems in), and an old city pump--I think there were one or two others I've forgotten--and here, he writes as though he's a mountain. There are a number of clues to his authorship, including a liberal scattering of italicized puns.
This is letter #3 in the series, and it is signed on April 14, 1846. I don't know how many might have come after. In order to definitely prove this could be Mathew, I'd have to find all of them; I'd then have to check the logistics of his whereabouts, comparing any clues in the star-signed reviews, with his alleged vacation in the White Hills. So far, what I can see is that the star-signed reviews in this same edition, of April 18, 1846, could have been written anywhere, at any time (and the long-time concern with philanthropic issues, expressed by the "star" in this edition, is not Fuller's--it's Mathew's, the co-author of "A Christmas Carol"). All I need is a suitable stretch of time--say, a week--when Mathew could plausibly have been out-of-town. Suppose he's reporting on local music concerts every other day--that would preclude such a vacation. But if he's reviewing books for a straight week, then he could have read them, and reviewed them, anywhere.*
This is why the project has gone on for 10 years. I just about think I'm finished, when I stumble upon another series (sometimes, in another newspaper). And then it's "off to the races," again.
I really need to move on with the next phase of this project, namely, interviews, talks, promoting my book, etc. I can't research Mathew's life for the rest of my life. So I may not look up these other entries of the "Old Man of the Mountain." They are going to be roughly of the same pattern I've seen before, with the jackknife, and the pump, etc. The interesting thing, here, is that he is bringing this idea back, in 1846, from pieces he did in the early 1830's. At this point, I may not have seen all the actual pieces, but I think I've seen all of Mathew's ideas.
Meanwhile, once again, we have Mathew living and working in New York City, writing for the New York "Tribune," during the period when "The Raven" was published in "American Review." I have so many interlocking clues for Mathew's authorship of "The Raven" it's not even a question anymore. But isn't it odd--you can actually prove something, and display it in plain sight, and yet, if it offends too greatly, people STILL won't believe you.
I'm telling you, it's a myth that if you have good enough evidence, people will believe you. It's not true.
But, for the three people who inexplicably continue to read this blog, here is the "Old Man of the Mountain," writing to the "Tribune."
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. I think this is one of those instances where I have proven my speculations wrong. I had the whim, this evening, to go backwards from the third "Old Man of the Mountain" letter, and I found one in the April 4, 1846 edition of the "Tribune," dated from March 28th. I don't think Mathew would have taken that long a vacation--and here, we see that the writer speaks as a New Hampshire native. Now, Mathew can sometimes take on a character and say things in-character...but when he dates a letter, it's generally literal. I haven't located the first letter, but again, I don't think he was on vacation that long. I could prove it, if any of his star-signed pieces were reviews of local events. Hold on a minute...
Yes, he writes about overhearing two women on the street on April 1st. So if we take the date of the second "Old Man in the Mountain" letter, March 28th, literally, it cannot be the same author. I have abundant evidence that Mathew was writing the star-signed column, so I have to cut the Old Man loose. Presumably, this is a talented writer in a similar style to Mathew's. Mathew was inspired by the New England storytelling tradition; and he was hardly the only writer to have drawn his inspiration from the this source.
What bothers me is that I felt so strongly that this was Mathew's work. Either this was sheer imagination, or else what I feeling is that Mathew especially appreciated this series. It still seems confusing to me; the other option is that Margaret Fuller took over while Mathew had a two-week vacation in the White Mountains! But I don't think that's right, either, as the star-signed pieces during this period bear his stamp.
I'll just leave this Update intact, as it is. I did the same thing in my books, except that I usually shortened my mistakes, leaving a trace of them but reducing the verbiage, for the sake of practicality. That's not necessary, here.
*I scanned pages one and two (the only ones which would have a lengthy sketch like this) through April 28. In the edition of the 28th, is a brief star-signed review of a recently philharmonic concert--probably, the previous evening. There were no more letters from the "Old Man of the Mountain"; and furthermore, none of the star-signed pieces were date specific. Not only that, but the one review during this period which was date-specific--a book which had just come out--was written by a different author. All indications are that Mathew was indeed on vacation in the mountains of New Hampshire. However, to be absolutely certain, one would have to scan ahead, say, two months, to be sure that the "Old Man" didn't show up later on.
Music opening this page: "Starlight," by The Free Design
from the album, "Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love"