I'm almost there, with my digitizing project--on the very last day of 1831, in the New York "Constellation." Then I have to go back and try to sharpen up some blurry pages and key as much of those as I can. So there always seems to be something more. Still, I'm like the horse within sight of the barn.
I just had an insight related to my last couple of entries. There, I showed you proof that the historians are flat-out wrong in their conclusions about the well-known parody of "The Raven," called "The Vulture." That was my past-life work, unsigned. And in this particular case, I can prove it. Meaning, I can prove it was not written by any of the authors that the experts tentatively assign it to, immediately; and by a preponderance of the evidence (should anyone ever take my evidence seriously), I can prove that Mathew Franklin Whittier was the author.
Word to the wise, this bit of evidence is the 75-cent accounting error; a little tiny smoking gun. Because it's not just a good parody of "The Raven"--it's far and away the best one. And this wasn't just a fluke for Mathew--he could pull off this level of technical expertise, and raw, inspired creativity, time and time again. The reason you don't know it, is because he wrote anonymously, and there was a feeding frenzing of plagiarism, so that the attribution for these works ended up being scattered amongst a number of claimants.
This got me thinking of how the official history of the literature of the 19th century has had to twist itself into a pretzel to accommodate the loss of MFW. If Mathew was the real author of so many works--some famous--which were claimed by and attributed to other authors--it means that the entire history is distorted by Mathew's absence. And what occurred to me is that this is a general principle. Get one crucial element wrong, and you can't just leave it there. A whole system must be constructed; an entire view must be assembled. Therefore, if a key element is missing, still, a faux reality must arise which fills in the gaps somehow. And all the elements of the system will be stressed and distorted out of shape, accordingly. There is a ripple effect, much as chiropractors claim for misalignment of the spine, into the rest of the body.
If Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol," then he must have been a spiritual man. Therefore every contrary piece of evidence must be suppressed (and there is plenty, it turns out). If Poe wrote "The Raven," then he must have been a poetic genius; and anything contrary must likewise be expunged or discounted. And so-on. If Charles Farrar Browne was an original comic, then any similarity of style to Mathew's "Ethan Spike" character must be ignored; and if the fact that Mathew Franklin Whittier induced Mark Twain to read out a sketch, that he (Mathew) had written for the occasion of his brother's 70'th birthday dinner, is obvious once you look at it that way, still, that suspicion must be bypassed entirely.
That's just the tip of the iceberg; there is the entire matter of poet John Greenleaf Whittier being a literary genius, while his younger brother was just a minor figure, a literary hack. And that JGW was the spiritual one, practically a saint, while his younger brother was a worldly "nihilist," as one biographer put it.
In other words, it all has to be made to fit--even if you have to jam some round pegs into square holes, and take some puzzle pieces out altogether. But if you have to recut the jig-saw pieces to make them fit, and if you have some left over, chances are the picture is distorted.
This principle is true for society's adoption of philosophical Materialism; it is true of Christianity being duped by "St. Paul"; and it is no-doubt true for a great many other things (I won't even get into the political realm).
But my eight years of research into Mathew Franklin Whittier tells me it is definitely true for American literature of the 19th century. I've said it before and I'll say it again--Mathew was the dark planet circling the literary solar system of that century. The entire history is going to have to be rewritten once he is discovered. Or, rather, once my discovery of him is acknowledged.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Awaken," by Eric Johnson, from the album "Up Close"