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10/7/18
I think I'm winding down the daily writing of these entries; or at least, I feel that I should, as my motives are too mixed. I do it to keep alive my hopes that I am reaching someone; and that my efforts might come to the public attention, thereby. But if that was going to work, presumably it would have worked by now; and the Archive link is always there at the bottom of each entry. I do it for other reasons, as well, but I notice one of the signs of an addiction, and that is, I feel restless if I'm not working on this project.

However, as I key in Mathew Franklin Whittier's star-signed reviews, written for the 1845 New York "Tribune," and I run across something worthwhile, I'll share it. I am now typing the review found in the Jan. 16, 1845 edition, regarding a compilation of poetry edited by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There are some interesting clues here--I think Mathew knew Longfellow personally, but I haven't found any direct evidence of it. He almost certainly knew and admired one of the poets represented here, Rev. John Pierpont, who I think was actually a mentor to Mathew. But note the following comment:

Almost all the poems are familiar to ourself, but we meet them again with great pleasure; and we presume that, to many, who have not had the same convenient access to books, most of those from the older writers, and several from contemporaries, will be new. To all such of pure native feeling acquaintance with those here given from Marvel, Crashaw, Lovelace, Quarles and Herrick, will be a treasure.

We will mention, as among the most beautiful of these, "The Drop of Dew" by Marvel, "The Grasshopper" by Lovelace, "Primroses" by Herrick, and "Sweet Phospher bring the Day" by Quarles.

I have mentioned that Mathew, signing as "Franklin, Jr.," twice reviewed and presented poetry by Francis Quarles, in a Boston young man's magazine called "The Essayist" in 1831/32. He said, at that time, that he was quoting from an antiquarian volume he had obtained (whether on loan, or owned, is not clear). Here, we have Mathew mentioning that he was already familiar with this poem by Quarles--and that it was among his favorites--less than a month before "The Raven" first appears under the pseudonym, "---- Quarles."

This is hardly a smoking gun. Like the other evidence I have, that Mathew was the real author of "The Raven," it is one piece of an ever-growing pile of cumulative evidence. That Mathew was writing this review, in New York City, for a major newspaper--and did so, under this already-identified pseudonym, a "star" or single asterisk--tells us his authorship of "The Raven" is entirely plausible. That he especially liked the deeply devotional Christian poetry of Francis Quarles, puts him ahead of Edgar Allan Poe, in plausibility. That he had such a deep understanding of poetry, as to accurately and fairly critique Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, puts him at least on an equal footing with, if not ahead of, Poe (whose critiques were unnecessarily harsh). Compare Mathew's fair and astute analysis, with Poe's "The Philosophy of Composition." Any English teacher worth his or her salt should be able to immediately discern a real essay, from a bullshit essay.

You may read the entire Jan. 16, 1845 review here.

You can download the book he's reviewing from either Hathi Trust or Archive.org, and read the poem by Quarles. It is a very likely poem for a deeply spiritual man like Mathew Franklin Whittier. It is an extremely unlikely poem, to be admired by a secular horror writer like Edgar Allan Poe. This is what I mean, when I say that "The Raven" is not a horror poem, but a poem of grief by a deeply religious person experiencing a faith crisis. So Mathew Franklin Whittier's deep expression of appreciation for this poem, less than a month after "The Raven" is published under "---- Quarles," is far stronger evidence than it might seem, at first glance.

Since some people apparently find music opening web pages "annoying," and since I can't think of a tune that fits today's entry, in deference to Mathew's sensibilities regarding illustrative analogies, perhaps I'll forgo the music this time. I would say that the closing paragraph of this review is music, enough.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

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