As I continue to reformat and archive Mathew's star-signed reviews for the 1846 New York "Tribune" (mistakenly attributed, by scholars, to Margaret Fuller), I run across one review which reminds me vividly of a travelogue he wrote in 1851, signed "Quails." This series, scholars tell us, was written by an unlikely entertainer named Ossian Dodge. You see, it is no accident that so much of Mathew's work has been misattributed in this way. He was exceptionally talented--and as I have said in this blog a thousand times, an unattended Ferrari left unattended, running with the keys inside in a poor neighborhood, is very likely to be stolen.
I don't have a lot of time; and the irony is, that if I spell it out for people, today, they still won't read it; whereas, if I simply provide the pdf's of the relevant pages for people of the future, they will scrutinize both articles without any further urging.
One could hardly imagine two more different people than Margaret Fuller, and Ossian Dodge. One was a prima donna; the other was a rubber-faced, slap-stick musical comedian. And yet, scholars would have us believe that they wrote these respective articles. But it is the same voice, and the same mind behind each of them. I know, because I retain this same higher mind, today. I know my own. All of Mathew's Quaker upbringing; all of his anti-war convictions; all of his moral sense; all of his radical world-view; is behind both of these pieces. Likewise his sarcastic, wry humor.
This is Mathew's asterisk-signed review in the June 18, 1846 New York "Tribune"; and this is Mathew in London, in August of 1851, writing as "Quails."
Now, compare the opening of the asterisk-signed piece, with the following paragraphs in "Quails'" travelogue letter: 1) the paragraph beginning "But to return to the Cathedral," near the bottom of the second column; and 2) The paragraph near the end in the third column, beginning, "And here are two finely-sculptured forms..." The back-story he is obliquely referring to, if you look it up, is that Major-General Samuel Gibbs spurred on his men (who, as I recall, were outnumbered), by promising to permit them to rape the women of New Orleans if they succeeded in taking the city. Mathew is pointing out the hypocrisy of placing a statue to this man's memory in St. Paul's Cathedral.
While we are here, continue with the paragraph below, which begins, "The most pleasing monument, to us..." This is Mathew's ideal, which he and Abby shared. Note that where you see themes of philanthropy and social reform in the star-signed material, this is not--I repeat not--Margaret Fuller, the upper-class snob. This is Mathew Franklin Whittier, the anonymous freelancer who is ghost writing this column.
There are many other clues as to Mathew's authorship of the "Quails" letter. He describes the monuments of the historical figures he admires. One will see the same mix in the star-signed reviews. This is not a goofy entertainer, who had never published anything before in his life, who just likes to wander around gazing at interesting statues. This is Mathew Franklin Whittier, who has studied philosophy and the arts deeply since childhood, and who has been publishing since age 12, and as of 1846, has a literary track record of 21 years.
I've said that Mathew continued "the work," i.e., the efforts at social reform, in tribute to Abby, and to what he and she had set out to accomplish together, as soul-mates. Here's a bit of evidence for that. In the midst of other types of reviews, suddenly, on June 2, 1846, comes this blatantly anti-war review (the leading article). Mathew was firmly against the Mexican American War, which he saw as raw imperialism, i.e., a land-grab. But the "Tribune" was reporting the war news without comment, so far as I can see. In Abby's honor, Mathew sneaked this one in there. June 2nd was her birthday.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Dessert Rose," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "Ah Via Musicom"