As much as I don't want to, for health reasons, I am going to have to write one more entry, here, because something has come up.
I have continued to key in Mathew Franklin Whittier's star-signed reviews for the 1845 New York "Daily Tribune," and this morning I began one on a book entitled "Etherology: or the Philosophy of Mesmerism and Phrenology." I came to a passage which, being a personal account, sounded as though it was written by a woman. Looking at it closely, I determined that it was actually an extended quote, which the typesetter had failed to set off accordingly. The review is written using the royal "we," while the quote is written in the first person, "I." Furthermore, the introduction ends in a full colon. So clearly, this was an excerpt from a female writer's account, which wasn't properly presented as such.
But just to be sure, I decided to do an internet search on an interior line, to see if I could identify the original source. And I was in for a shock. Perhaps any historians who have been reading this blog snorted in derision at my oversight, and dismissed my presentation out-of-hand. In any case, all of this work is claimed for famous Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, who is said to have been hired by the editor, Horace Greeley, as his literary editor. Some of these reviews are reprinted in a book published after her death by her brother, entitled "Life Without and Life Within."
This series was Mathew's work, not Fuller's. Whether history has it wrong, or whether he was ghost-writing for her, I don't know. So far, as near as I can tell, it isn't a mixture--all of it is Mathew's. And I have evidence. In the Feb. 5, 1845 review of a children's book, Mathew writes:
O that winter! freezing, snow-laden winter, which slowly ushered in our eighth birth-day.--There, in the lonely farm-house, the day's work done, and the bright wood fire a' in a low, we were permitted to slide back the panel of the cupboard in the wall; most fascinating object still in our eyes, with which no stateliest alcoved library can vie; and there saw, neatly ranged on its two shelves, not, praised be our natal star! Peter Parley nor "A history of the good little boy that never took any thing that did not belong to him;" but--the "Spectator," "Telemachus," "Goldsmith's Animated Nature" and the "Iliad."
I have quoted this before in another context. This is the same winter, presumably, about which Mathew's brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote in his famous poem, "Snow-Bound." Only the birthday has been changed--being an out-of-context addition to the narrative--to hide his identity (Mathew was born on July 18, 1812). This was his typical modus operandi, and I have numerous examples of him throwing in a deliberate false historical detail like this, to prevent being identified by his pro-slavery enemies.
Margaret Fuller was born on May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport, Mass. (a suburb of Boston), being the first child of a Congressman. She was not poor, her parents no doubt owned more than two cabinet shelves' worth of books, and she did not grow up in a "lonely farmhouse."
This may not be proof, inasmuch as she could have simply made up an alternate childhood persona--though I know of no precedent for her doing that--but it is certainly strong enough evidence to make my claim plausible. Especially given that Mathew did grow up in a lonely farmhouse, with, as the official Whittier biographer tells us, about "30 volumes" in the house. Probably, there are other subtle indications of male gender throughout these reviews, which total (not having counted them) something over a hundred. As I key them in and then proofread them, I will keep a watchful eye out for them. Note that in the example above, the author refers to a "good little boy," not a "good little girl," as one might expect if Fuller were describing her own childhood. Meanwhile, I think just the "lonely farmhouse" reference is enough to throw serious doubt on her authorship of this series.
Here is what Mathew had to say about Margaret Fuller in 1852, writing a scathing lampoon in the character of an egotistical, pretentious femininst he names "Sally Sage" (who appears to have taken him for a ride, romantically). Sally is a great admirer of Fuller:
I worship her, I dream of her daily and nightly, ever since I have read those three sweetest of all sweet volumes of her biography. Last night I saw her in glory, in the highest degree of the highest sphere, surrounded by a group of kindred spirits--all forming a grand Mutual Admiration Society, and she, the Margaret, was President thereof. In my vision, she was clothed in a pair of brazen breeches, with a sceptre in her left hand, one end of which was in the device of a sharp stick, designed to chastise all the simples whom she dignified by the name of jackasses; the other and uppermost end beseemed to me a trowel with which she used to lay soft soap on to the faces of the compounds whom she had stuffed out into "old Bottoms in lions' skins." Upon her brow was a crown of mandrakes.
She first appeared to me with a pair of tiny scales in her right hand, with which she was weighing the mortal brains of Jean Jadques Rosseau. The balance was struck, and, winking violently, she cried--"My Bestest one!"
Whereupon the fawned lion responded--"Blessedest art thou, Margaret, among women!"*
What this means, is that in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe stole Mathew's poem, "The Raven," as well as his story, "Some Words with a Mummy"; and then Margaret Fuller claimed all of his star-signed reviews for the "Tribune." It's no wonder he became bitter, despite trying his best to turn the other cheek and take it philosophically.
Just this one corrected attribution, were I a doctoral student, would be enough for a killer dissertation; and it would insure my future career as a literary historian. But no-one will give me the time of day, either in the field of literary history, or in the field of paranormal research.
Never mind. When the time is right, I'll have my day. And instead of me looking like a fool, it will be the other way around.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*There is a hidden clue in the opening quote of this humorous sketch, which I discuss in my first book, "Mathew Franklin Whitter in his own words." Mathew truncates the quote from Fuller's biography with elipses, but when you look up the full quote, there is a telling reference in the missing portion, being a quote from Emerson.
Music opening this page: "Trademark," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "Ah Via Musicom"