Evening. Again, as I key in my past-life works, at age 18, for the New York "Constellation," I revisit the piece I'm going to reproduce for you, below. Now, as early as year 2006, in this very blog, I noted the feeling that Mathew had something to do with the writing of "A Christmas Carol." Years of research into that topic, and into Mathew's work, in general, has convinced me--with very good reason--that he and his first wife, Abby, co-authored that work originally. Mathew would have handed it to Dickens in Boston, the year after Abby's death, when Dickens visited that city on his first American tour. He appears to have been personal friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was one of those around Dickens at the time; so Mathew could very easily have been invited to be one of the unnamed young men in that inner circle. I have a great deal of research, presented in my book, supporting this contention. It is not nearly as wild as you might thing--in fact, with all the evidence in, it is actually a no-brainer. It's one of those things that, once you see it, you say "Why didn't I see it before?"
Naturally, if I want to claim such a thing for Mathew, I have to show that, before "A Christmas Carol" was published in 1843, Mathew has demonstrated matching proclivities, talent, and style. I have done so, in my book. But here is an example of Mathew's compassion for the downtrodden.
There is a caveat here, in terms of research clues. I had assumed that Mathew would naturally have set his original in New York City, which was the large city he was personally most familiar with (the next being Boston). But in Dickens' handwritten draft, the portion dealing with charity and workhouses, is not scratched through and revised. Logically, that probably means either that Dickens was, in fact, the author (and I have a hundred clues saying he wasn't); or else, that Mathew and Abby set it in London. This would not be so surprising--Mathew subsequently set a number of stories in other countries, both European and South American. He also wrote an article in which he indicated that England did a far better job of observing Christmas than America did--so if he was going to build his story around Christmas-time, he would have chosen England. The reason this is significant, is debtor's prison had been outlawed in America by 1843. But Dickens did add one detail--where the original speaks of work-houses (from memory, now, I'm not looking at my book where I discuss this), Dickens added, Union work-houses. Mathew, keeping abreast of social issues in Europe, would have known they still had work-houses--and he would have made a point to protest them, as he does in the piece, below. But Dickens would have known that there was some reason to specify that they were Union work-houses, that Mathew wasn't familiar with (or didn't agree with, if it was particular point of politics).
I won't argue this any further. I actually discuss different facets of this authorship question in three distinct sections of my book; and the strength of my argument is built on the foundation of the work as a whole. One cannot cherry-pick this evidence (as a couple of experts have tried to do, regarding the evidence for my past-life memories). Taken as a whole, I think it's a done deal.
But we can say this much with confidence. In 1831, some five years before Charles Dickens came on the literary scene, Mathew (if he is indeed the author of the piece below, as I have good reason to believe) is expressing a social conscience which we would expect from one of the authors of "A Christmas Carol." I also have his wife Abby's expressions of social conscience, in both short stories and poetry--so she and Mathew were entirely of like mind on this point.
This is by no means the only instance in Mathew's work from this period. For example, in one article he speaks of visiting a debtor's prison, describing the conditions, and mentioning that he is working to try to free one of the inmates. In other sketches, he decries the cruel treatment of horses by the coach drivers.
I feel that I am writing to the air, to a vacuum. All hype aside, I still can't imagine who could read these entries and not be interested enough to plop down a mere $12.00 to immerse themselves in my book--that is, if they took me seriously. I was thinking today, and not for the first time, it's a very long book now, well over 2,000 pages (i.e., in Microsoft Word at 12 point type). But if you knew, for a fact, that it was Mathew and Abby who wrote "A Christmas Carol"; and it was Mathew who wrote "The Raven" after her death--would 2,000 pages be too much to expect someone to read, then? If you knew there was an author (actually, two authors) of this calibre who had somehow almost entirely escaped the notice of every historian of 19th century American literature, and you could read about his life from his own reincarnation in the 21st century, wouldn't it be a no-brainer to buy that book immediately, take the phone off the hook, and immerse yourself in it for a few weeks?
Of course it would. Either you don't even begin to believe me, for half-a-half-a-half-a split second; or else you're terrified I might be right, in which case your world view is going to experience an 8.5 on the Richter scale.
But the caveat is, you have to want the truth. You have to be so much in love with truth, that you will risk anything for it.
Such a person is the only one who is going to understand this book, anyway.
The following is taken from the front page (leading article) of the May 21, 1831 edition of the New York "Constellation." Once again, forgive any typos--I will be going back and proofreading all of these in a separate step.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
SKETCHES OF INHUMANITY.
Or, What I Have Seen.
I have seen a blind beggar, groping his way through the streets, no friendly hand to lead him, no friendly voice to warn him of danger, no one to guide or guard his footsteps, but one solitary companion--a dog. The kind offices which man would not render, he has rendered--connected to his master by a cord, I have seen this faithful little animal, pilot his way through a crowd with unerring sagacity, and whle thus performing this noble act, I have seen a mischievous urchin cut the cord by which the blind beggar was led, and himself and his playmates raise the loud laugh at the consequences of their malicious sport.
I have seen a poor woman, wandering, in the midst of winter, barefoot and half-clad, and with an infant in her arms--at yon corner stood a group of merchants, talking over their business and calculating the profits of a late speculation--she approaches them, and presents herself, both mother and child, as objects of charity--she utters no accent of distress, not even a faint whisper of supplication--her lips tell no tale of wo--but her looks, eloquent in their silence, speak a language to him who has a heart to feel, far more intelligible thn words. But its appeal is lost upon those to whom it is now addressed. They understand not its meaning, or rather they pretend not to understand it, and they turn away, as if from some object whose presence is contaminating.
I have seen a carman, beating his horse, because the strength of the poor beast being exhausted, he could no longer bear up under his load, but had fallen, overpowered beneath it. Yet this monster in human form, I have seen adding lash to lash upon that animal, by whose labor he derived his daily support. Ever and anon, as the stripes touched him tot he quick, the dumb creature would turn up his head towards his master, with a look more in sorrow than in anger--a look which the very stones on which he lay might feel, but at which the heart of his brutal master, harder than the stones, was untouched--unmoved.
I have seen the man, who once stood high in society--whom fortune had heaped her favors upon: and who shared them, with a liberal hand, with others. I have seen him, by a sudden reverse of fortune, bankrupt and ruined. Deserted by his friends, I have seen him driven, by their ingratitude, to drown the remembrance of himself and his misfortunes, in the bowl--and, poor helpless man!--I have seen him reeling and tottering through the streets, an object of pity and compassion to all who, in his better days, had been acquainted with him. Yet I have seen this man treated with ridicule and contempt, and the eye of scorn cast upon him, and the lip curled in mockery, at his condition, by those, who, knowing the cause, might have looked with charity upon the effects of this man's calamities.
I have seen the groping landlord take the last cent from his miserable, but honest tenant, and then, because the law protected from his grasp the scanty furniture with which his family were provided, I have seen him cast the father of that family in prison, and leave those dependent on him, to wander homeless through the streets. Here, in the gloomy abode of a prison I have seen this victim of cruelty wearing out his existence, and denied the comforts which the veriest wretch in a dungeon is allowed. Well may we rejoice that the time is coming--nay, is already come--when poor debtors will no longer be immured in the charnel house of a Gothic age--a debtor's prison--nay, when the very name of such a place will no longer disgrace our statute book nor be familiar in the mouth of men.
These acts of inhumanity have I seen. Similar ones may, every day, be witnessed in a populous and flourishing city, where men, intent only upon riches, care little or nothing at the distress which meets them in their path. It is strange, most strange--but true,--that man, by constant intercourse with the world, loses that keen sensibility which is ever alive to others' woes, and to prompt to relieve them. His heart grows cold and callaous--self-interest dictates his every action.
Music opening this page: "Isn't It a Pity," by George Harrison, from the album, "All Things Must Pass"