I have compared myself, as Mathew Franklin Whittier in the 19th century, to radical comedian Lee Camp. In the previous entry, I established that it was not the editor, Asa Greene, who was writing "Israel Icicle" in the New York "Constellation" of 1830, and probably not quite a bit of the other material on the editorial page. In fact, it appears that Asa Greene was only too happy to turn over control of the editorial page to Mathew for several issues in a row.
Now, without the need for much further commentary (unless something comes to me which needs to be said), I'm going to present a brief piece from the Oct. 16, 1830 edition. If one understands it properly, it is scathing social commentary regarding the politically correct attitude of whites toward the Native Americans. It is, in my opinion, worthy of anything that Lee Camp has done--and this, simply with the written word.
Nothing else has occurred to me, except to say that from my read of this paper, the editor was far more socially conservative; but he gave Mathew the freedom to create the editorial page entirely, when Mathew was acting as editor pro tem, probably not even checking it before it was published. This piece, like much of his satirical humor, can be taken on two levels, and I think it speaks for itself. Mathew, here, is 18 years old.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
PATHOS OF A WHITE HANDKERCHIEF.
There is not perhaps in the whole range of tragedy a more affecting scene than the closing one of Metamora. The strong feelings of the Indian Chief on the death of his only chld, and the ruin of his and his nation's hopes, as well as the touching death scene of Nameokee, are scarcely to be surpassed. It is difficult with ordinary feelings, not to be beguiled of one's tears, and many a white handkerchief is raised, by as white a hand, to dry the moistened eye. And here we cannot but refer to the importance of a white handkerchief in the proper exhibition of grief. There are indeed some children of nature who can weep with a handkerchief of any color, or even without a handkerchief. But there are others, better taught in the fashionable world, who would think themselves degraded by shedding "one tear of sorrow," unaccompanied by a white handkerchief.
"How were you pleased with Metamora last evening?" said a gentleman to a coxcomb who flourished a handsome cane and had a quizzing-glass suspended to his button hole.
Cox. Oh very well--very well indeed--I think 'twas surpassingly fine--I do.
H. Dont you think the last scene very touching?
Cox. Why, yes, I must say I do--very touching--almost enough to make one weep, under proper circumstances.
H. Under proper circumstances! eh? what may those circumstances be?
Cox. Why, I mean, being properly prepared for it.
H. In the tender and melting mood I suppose.
Cox. No, I dont exactly mean that--but--
H. What then?
Cox. Is it possible that a man, so well acquainted with all the decencies of grief, should'nt guess what I mean? Why then I'll tell you--it is a white handkerchief.
H. A white handkerchief!
Cox. Ay, a white handkerchief.
H. And can there be no grief without a white handkerchief?
Cox. It would be extremely vulgar to weep with a bandana, or flag handkerchief.
H. Indeed! then I was guilty of a sad mistake last night.
Cox. Is it possible you could think of weeping with a coloured handkerchief?
H. I did'nt think of weeping at all. But the tears would start unbidden.
Cox. Ha, ha, ha! Well now that's monstrous queer. For my part I could'nt think of weeping last night, for I had somehow unaccountably forgotten my white handkerchief, which I make it a point always to carry with me when I expect any thing pathetic.
Music opening this page: "The John Birch Society" by the Chad Mitchel Trio, from the album, At the Bitter End