One of the things I ran across recently, while perusing the Boston Weekly "Chronotype" in a volume covering its run from 1846 to 1849, was a poem entitled "Keep Cool" by George W. Light, in the August 11, 1849 edition. The editor's introduction reads:
The following is a revision and union of two pieces, one of which appeared in the Young American's Magazine, the other in the National Era.
In 1851, Light registered copyright for a 49-page compilation of poetry entitled "Keep Cool, Go Ahead and a Few Other Poems." (The edition found on Archive.org is the second, printed in 1853--I'm not certain when the first edition was published.) It includes a poem entitled "Keep At Work." This second poem did, in fact, appear under Light's name in the May, 1847 edition of "Young American's Magazine," and thus is probably one of the two poems referred to in the quote, above. Presumably, the editor of the "Chronotype," Elizur Wright, is paraphrasing Light's cover letter. "Keep Cool" appears in the same edition of "Young American's." It so happens that Light is also the editor of this magazine, so he has published these poems in his own journal.
The problem with all this, is that "Keep At Work" appeared in the April 1, 1847 edition of the "Chronotype," under the signature, "FRANKLIN." It is specifically designated as having been written "For the Chronotype," meaning it is original, and this is its first appearance. Mathew occasionally signed with his middle name, "Franklin." George W. Light always signed with his own name, or his initials. He never used "FRANKLIN." In the months which follow the first appearance of this poem, it appears in various publications either unsigned and attributed to the "Chronotype" (standard procedure in that era), or, as in the June 12, 1847 edition of the Lincoln "Courier," still attributed to "FRANKLIN."
Before I discovered this fly in the ointment, I immediately recognized that poem as Mathew's work. He is saying that even if his work to reform society doesn't seem to be having any effect, and if he, himself, doesn't achieve literary recognition, he will doggedly persevere. George W. Light, being a more superficial mind, hasn't understood it properly, so he imitates it with a frivilous version, "Keep Cool"--while claiming Mathew's poem, in the bargain!
I was interested to find, in the Dec. 30, 1848 edition of the "Chronotype," reprinted from the "John Donkey," a scathing review of "Keep Cool." Perhaps by this time, Mathew had apprised editor Elizur Wright, a close personal friend, of the situation. The reviewer concludes:
All this nonsense is very pretty in print!—very. But if this amateur Driesbach were to meet the lion of Want!—if he were condemned to keep body and soul together binding shoes at an average rate of $1.50 per week, or making coarse shirts at a shilling apiece, it is very probable that in such a contingency it would be the poet who would dwindle to the calf, and not the lion of Want. “Keep calm!” quoth he. Certainly. Starvation is calm. So is the sexton, as he comes along with his pickaxe and shovel, “and his great coat on.” Calm! Yes—sir!
My investigation into this question, attempting to confirm Mathew's authorship of this one poem, "Keep At Work," led me on a fascinating journey. I can only summarize it, here. When I got hold of Light's supposed compilation of his own works, I found three distinctly different styles represented. Long story short, some of them are Light's (i.e., the trite ones); some are Mathew's; and some are Abby's. Abby, for anyone new, here, was Mathew's first wife and true love. The proof, aside from the obvious style disparities, is that one of Abby's ecstatic, feminine poems has the poet dancing for joy amidst the streams and flowers. It's obvious, if you stop to think about it, that it's unlikely Light wrote this, i.e., from his own experience.
And no, Light wasn't gay, in case you're wondering. In fact, his outward personality was that of a moralistic Puritan. This, I discovered when I found the first printing of many of these poems, in a Boston magazine called "The Essayist," which runs from late 1831 to mid-1833. Mathew's work is prominently featured in this magazine, and this is no surprise, because he had been working as the junior editor for the New York "Constellation," and before that, as a mere boy, he was a regular contributor to the Boston-based "New-England Galaxy."
But Abby's young poetry--much of it, as near as I can determine, written two years earlier when she was only 14 years old--appears in "The Essayist," as well. One of her poems is unsigned; another is signed by the editor, George W. Light. These end up in his 1851 compilation, in a revised form. The revisions are not true to Abby's sensibilities, as much as they would be to Light's, so he has taken it upon himself to tone down their mystical and occult content.
Some of Abby's poems are signed with her intials, "A.P." But these were claimed by Albert Pike, who apparently was her teacher in Newburyport, Mass. in 1830/31. One of them is signed from Arkansas, where he relocated to escape some trouble he had gotten into with a local girl in Newburyport, at the house where he had been lodging. Or so I have determined. One of these poems, entitled "Ode to the Mocking Bird," Pike later claimed. But he tips his hat, when he explains to his biographer that he wrote that poem "a couple of days after" his wedding. Pike married in 1834. If you compare the 1834 version with the 1832 version in "The Essayist," you will see that Pike took the earlier version and almost completely rewrote it. But the "almost" is key, because clearly he was working off the 1832 original.
Therefore, we have two grown men stealing the work of a female child prodigy. Both of them achieved some degree of brief literary fame, thereby.
Note that the Table of Contents for "Young American's Magazine" also includes a poem "From Albert Pike" entitled "Sunset in Arkansas," apparently written when he had first fled there from Newburyport, Mass., back in 1831. The poem, itself, which I had never seen before this morning, isn't bad. It's heavier in tone that most of Abby's, but I read it carefully to see whether this, also, couldn't be one that Pike stole from her. However, it clearly compares the sunsets of New England with those of Arkansas, and thus this has to be Pike's own work, at least to that extent. His poems tend to be more masculine, worldy and darker. If you look into his poetry, you will find that his primary claim to fame is a series entitled "Hymns to the Gods." As near as I can tell, this was a class assignment, and Abby typically wrote a couple of stanzas for each Roman god (Abby would have written about the Greek gods, if she had had her choice). Pike then added his own stanzas to Abby's poems (in one instance, sandwiched in the middle), and also wrote some of his own, publishing them all under their shared initials, "A.P."--and claiming the lot for posterity. You will see the contrast in styles within some of the poems. For example, where you see stars, that's Abby--but where you see a drunken Bacchus going for a joy-ride with a goddess, that's Pike.
I must say I was surprised by the overall quality of Pike's poem comparing the sunsets of Arkansas with those of New England. Some of his other work is truly awful. Perhaps he rewrote this one from an original by Abby, or by some other poet, as he did with "Ode to the Mocking Bird." In fact, as it sort of cooks on the back burner while I edit this entry, I'm almost certain that's the case, here, because there are traces of Abby's style remaining within it. She must have been going through a difficult period, and wrote of viewing the sunset out her bedroom window--as she does, in a later poem--and Pike then modified it to compare the sunsets of the two states. (Pike's premise is contrived, if you think about it, since sunsets are pretty much the same everywhere.) I do notice that here, he signs with his full name, rather than with his initials, "A.P.," as he did in the early 1830's.
In this regard, I'm confused by Light's convention, in the Table of Contents, of attributing a poem as "From Albert Pike" and "From Richard H. Dana," in contradistinction to "By D.H. Howard" and "By the Editor." Is it just sloppiness on his part, or is it meant to signify something? Taken literally, it would mean that the poem was mailed to him by the person cited. Could it mean "reworked by" or "modified by"? I'm not suggesting this--I really don't know, and I can't recall having seen this convention anywhere else.
Meawhile, to give you some idea of Light's hypocrisy, it is mentioned in "The Essayist" that he served on the "Board of Censors" for the Young Men's Literary and Scientific Association. He became a publisher, and one of the books he published advises a young man to remain celibate for the first few years of his marriage!
Here's an example of Mathew signing with "FRANKLIN" in the Feb. 4, 1832 edition of the New York "Constellation," for which he was the acting junior editor:
Were I to pursue this lead, I would get us in even deeper. Mathew was writing back and forth to himself as several different people. Here, he is responding to a sketch entitled "No Ear for Music," signed with his go-to signature on this paper, "D." (and when he hails "D." as a brother, this is a little inside joke). "D." probably stands for "devil," as in "printer's devil," a monicker he acquired when he had worked in that capacity--as I gather--for the New-England Galaxy in 1827. "No Ear for Music" is one of two sketches in which Mathew exposes the true reason why Albert Pike fled from Newburyport, Mass. to Arkansas. The premise--that the person described in the narrative (ostensibly written first-person) has "no ear for music," is really a disguised inference that Albert Pike had no music in his soul (and hence could not write his own poetry, at least, not of the depth and power we see in Abby's work). I know this because of the quote he opens the sketch with:
"The man that hath no music in himself,
And is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategisms and spoils;
Let no such man be trusted."
Mathew was very, very precise with quotes--he used them the way that I use the opening music in these blog entries. This quote would be off-target for the ostensible theme of the story that follows, i.e., a man who confesses he is tone-deaf. This is about a man who has no music in his soul--i.e., a sociopath--who is not to be trusted. Never mind the charges made against Pike regarding his adult life--Mathew knew he was a sociopath in 1832.
The narrative of "No Ear For Music" also switches, mid-stream, to describe--in heavily disguised form--what was happening in young Abby's life at that time. As she grew up, and remained an eccentric loner who preferred to spend her time composing poems in Nature, her parents must have given her the option of either being sent to a boarding school, or attending Pike's class. She was far more advanced than her teacher, but Pike was smart enough to recognize, and take advantage of, her talent. I have gone into all that, in my book.
In one of Abby's earliest stories, about a precocious Irish orphan named Mary Mahony, Abby gives us some idea of what her experience of this class must have been. Of course, she is trying to champion the cause of poor Irish immigrants, but she naturally projects something of herself into her protagonist, as well:
Next, we hear of Mary, some three years later, as a member of a city high school. And now behold the interior of a large well lighted, well ordered schoolroom. Here was the teacher's desk, isolated and upon an elevated platform in front, rows of girls, sixteen, eighteen and even twenty years of age and more, mostly competitors for a prize, which was to be bestowed upon the first scholar in the school at the close of the term. Behind them, and on either side, were ranged the younger grades, and far in the loneliest corner arose a golden head, that would have attracted notice anywhere. Its many bright curls encircled it like a halo, and the flush in the young face came and went, and the brightness of the eyes varied, as the child poured over her books, unceasingly.
A very little creature, meanly dressed indeed, but with such a radiance, such a life surrounding her, the proudest in the school looked mean before her. I need not tell that this was Mary Mahony.
I'm guessing Abby wrote this story when she was about 16 years old. It's Victorian and old-fashioned, but within that genre, it has a certain magic. The concluding line in the following passage gives me a thrill every time I read it--I think it was one of Mathew's favorites:
"What is your name, child?" demanded the teacher, recovering from her astonishment, and regarding her sternly.
The reply was very low, though uttered with perfect self-possession.
"Mary Mahony? And who sent you here, pray?"
"No one; I came."
"Came?" repeated the instructress, angrily.--"But do you know where you are? Can you tell what house you are intruding into in this manner, child?"
For the first time, the stranger lifted up her beautiful head with an expression of misgiving.
"Why, is it not a school?" she asked apprehensively, "and cannot any children come here?"
The teacher frowned.
"Will I do any harm here?" entreated the little one, unawed and unembarrassed still, looking anxiously around upon the school.
The flush began to fade away from the teacher's face; and people love to relate how the lone, self-relying thing was really welcomed at last; for who could have repulsed her? The meek, pure-hearted Mary Mahony, her age and acquirements were taken, a desk was appointed to her, and she was written down a member of the school. Alas! she was seven years old, and could not name a letter of the alphabet. "But then," she added, very gracefully, "she could learn."
Here is what Lili Dale certified psychic Joseph Shiel said regarding Abby (from my notes), in December of 2010--long before I discovered any of what I'm presenting, here:
Liked animals more than people, who could be cruel and stupid, didn't deal well with ignorance. Intelligent, well before her time.
I must also note that one of Mathew's signatures for George W. Light's magazine, "The Essayist," in the early 1830's, had been "Franklin, Jr." So "FRANKLIN," who signs "Keep At Work" when it first appears in the "Chronotype," is definitely Mathew Franklin Whittier. It appears that all of these men--Mathew, George Light, and Albert Pike--knew each other. Certainly, Mathew's hometown of Haverhill, and Newburyport (which lies directly adjacent), were small towns--and you know that everybody in a small town knows everybody else's business.
Incidentally, how can I figure all this out, when hundreds of literary historians with a string of letters after their names, couldn't do it? Is it because I am the best detective in the world, or a superior scholar? No, it's because I was Mathew, and my intuition has guided me through the process, where a better scholar's mind would lead them astray, based on their a priori assumptions.
There are more clues, which I cite in my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words." The point is that suddenly I had several poems written by Abby at age 14, and they are powerful, and sophisticated. There is no question that she was a prodigy; and there is no question that she was deeply versed in high mysticism, even at that tender age. Thus, for example, when psychic Candace Zellner told me, in a reading in March 2010, that she saw Mathew and Abby reading "black market metaphysical books together," she made an astounding "hit." Because obviously it was not so common for young people to be reading this sort of material, even in the 19th century.
Little Mary Mahony, in the story I have shared with you, above, earns income by translating French books; and then she begins translating German. The publishers she works for are so impressed, they visit her at home:
Of all that transpired that night, it is impossible to obtain an exact record. An old wood sawyer tells us of seeing the child flit by, with such a look in her blue eyes, it filled his soul with dreams of heaven that night. The visitors, it is told, staid till far into the night, discussing with the strange being, themes her humble friends could nowise understand. Deep sciences, it is said, such as men alone converse upon, while the little creature was at home and clear in everything.
Obviously, "deep sciences" means metaphysics.
This series of "A.P"-signed stories, beginning with "Mary Mahony," shows up in the 1849 Boston "Weekly Museum." It apears that Mathew, a regular contributor to this paper since its pinception in mid-1848, has decided to publish a number of them for her, posthumously. For some of these, he has provided his own introductions, cleverly adopting the device of an older man writing to his niece. Probably, he did this where he had to convert one of Abby's plays into a short story; or, where the story was left unfinished.
By style, and other clues of content and Mathew's involvement with each of the respective newspapers, I was then able to identify (I think it was) three more of Abby's short stories, which were unsigned, and which appeared in other newspapers (including one which opens the first edition of the Boston "Carpet-Bag," that I have shared with you recently).
In case you're wondering about the "A.P." signature, that attribution was clinched, recently, when I discovered Abby's last poem. It was written just days (or perhaps the day) before she died of consumption, in her old bedroom at her family home--and it is this poem which mentions viewing the sunset out her bedroom window. The poem is published in the Feb. 17, 1883 edition of the Portland (Maine) "Transcript." Mathew had died on Jan. 7 of that year. Obviously, he had sent it to the editor, Edward Elwell, asking, as a personal favor, that it be printed after his death. (Just as obviously, neither the short stories, nor this poem, were written by Albert Pike.)
Abby had been taken from Portland to her family home in East Haverhill, Mass. a few days before she died on March 27, 1841, in a last-ditch effort to save her. As I mentioned recently, the poem "Annabel Lee," originally written by Mathew about Abby, as "Abigail P-----," describes her being borne away by her high-born kinsmen from the kingdom by the sea. Abby's father was a French marquis, and what Mathew wrote in that poem was literally true. He evidentally made a sort of fairy tale of it, as a way of handling the pain. He must have written that poem on one of the early anniversaries of her death, and later, showed it to Edgar Allan Poe--who, like George W. Light and Albert Pike, falsely claimed it as his own.
Have you ever heard of George W. Light? You may have heard of Albert Pike. I saw him on a documentary about a conspiracy theory, a couple of years ago. It is claimed that he was at the head of a secret organization which intended to reinstitute slavery after the Civil War. He was a high-ranking Mason, who has also been charged with teaching a form of Satanism. That's another story.
Obviously, you have heard of Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens. When I assert that I have extensive evidence that Poe and Dickens stole works from Mathew, you no-doubt assume I am indulging in what the skeptics call "magical thinking." Fond imagining--self-aggrandizement through a reincarnation claim.
Plagiarism was as common as picking pockets in the 19th century. Mathew wrote primarily under pseudonyms--dozens and dozens of them. He didn't publicly defend his work. Abby probably wrote without intending to publish, at all. I question whether any of her poems, or short stories, would ever have been published if it weren't for Light, Pike, and then Mathew. I have discovered Mathew's works being plagiarized by something like a dozen other writers, in the course of my study. Furthermore, he ghost-wrote at least two books. This is, in short, a much broader picture. It is unfair for any reader to "glom" onto the two famous claims, without looking carefully at the entire body of evidence. And contrary to the snap decisions of some, it is well worth the look.
As far as the scholars are concerned, I have no real antagonism towards them. I understand that they have their knowledge-base, their credentials, and their livelihood. I simply can't help it if they're wrong--and thankfully I am not in a position to have to accommodate them to any degree, whatsoever. I pay for my freedom by complete obscurity (which would then ripen into ridicule, if it ever progressed to the next stage). I might as well enjoy the benefits. I am beholden to no committees, no university presidents, no press and no public. I fear no journal editors, referees, or granting agencies. I am not even swayed by my own fear of embarrassment, if I find that I've been mistaken about something. I report whatever I find.
For me, the entire picture is the totality of Mathew and Abby's work. If most of the plagiarists were obscure, or achieved only brief fame by their theft, fine. If two of them achieved great fame, fine. Exposing their crimes is exciting, to some extent--but it is not what's driving me. It's part of the story--it's grist for the mill. All results must be honestly reported. If those results make Mathew look bad, that's scholarship. If they make him look good, that's also scholarship. And if they make him look exceptionally good, that's still scholarship.
In short, I'm objective. What I need is a truly objective audience.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page, "Battle We Have Won," by Eric Johnson,
from the album "Venus Isle"