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11/28/18
I'm going to make this quick--it's just a lesson in logic.

I am now at the stage of spot-checking my sequel, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own world," for errors. In re-reading a particular section, I realized I had proof of something. Here's how the detective logic goes.

Among the star-signed reviews in the 1844-46 New York "Tribune"--which are historically attributed to Margaret Fuller--is one of a poem called "Festus." The reviewer mentions that she, or he (as I believe this is Mathew Franklin Whittier), had reviewed this poem some years earlier.

Now, I have strong evidence that the writer is, in fact, MFW. So if I could find the earlier alluded to review, he should be the author of that one, also.

I found that Margaret Fuller, when she was the editor of the Transcendentalist magazine, "The Dial," is said to have written several reviews, which she signed with her last initial, "F." But this was also Mathew's occasional signature, i.e., his middle initial.

I found seven "F."-signed reviews, and there are clues which point to Mathew. But one of them contains proof, if my interpretation is correct. I'm not going to quote it, here. The gist, however, is that it appears to be a personal anecdote of Mathew having been teased, as a boy, by his older brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. I have seen Mathew tell personal anecdotes in third person, before. This is precisely the same MO. If it is, in fact, a personal anecdote, the writer cannot be Margaret Fuller, because the wording makes clear it's a story about two brothers.

Here's an example of Mathew telling a personal story in third person, this time with a broad wink to his readers, in the Boston "Weekly Museum" as "Quails." This series of travelogue letters was supposedly written by an entertainer named Ossian Dodge who had no previous literary experience. It wasn't, this was Mathew, but it took me something like 250 pages of my first book to prove it. I was absolutely determined to do so, because in this case I had a large number of samples, and if I could prove one of these stolen attributions, the others would seem more plausible. Dodge was famous in his day, but hardly anyone remembers him, now. His name comes up among Edgar Allan Poe scholars because he mysteriously owned a copy of Poe's last portrait, called the "Ultima Thule" portrait. But "Quails" writes of having been sent one by the photographer, Samuel Masury. So Mathew had it first.

There was another reason I wanted to prove Mathew's authorship of "Quails," because if I did, then the psychic medium who came up with Mathew's name, and tied him to the little town of Methuen, Mass., did so at a time when even I didn't know he had lived there. The proof subsequently turned up in "Quails"--but in order to show that the medium had made a hit which even ESP couldn't explain, I had to destroy Dodge's claim to that series and re-establish it as Mathew's work. This wasn't easy, because the editor of the paper, in collusion with Dodge, had actually asserted Dodge's authorship in black-and-white. Normally, this would be taken as proof, and it has been, by historians. Not only that, but Mathew actually played along with the ruse for reasons of his own, so I had my work cut out for me.

There are a number of clues pointing to Mathew in this particular piece, including one of his favorite sayings, "some pumpkins," and the skillfully-rendered dialect. Mathew is known as the author of "Ethan Spike," where this style was prominently featured. Anyway, towards the end is an account of how he mistakenly bought the wrong railroad stock. It's simply an example of using this same technique that he had used for the childhood account. In both cases, the primary reason he fudged it like that, is to avoid being identified. Writing as "Quails," he was remaining anonymous because he was working under cover as an Abolitionist; writing for "The Dial," it's obvious that he wanted to be certain the anecdote was never tied to his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. I apologize for the visual quality of the sample from the "Museum." I know how impatient most of you are, so I reduced the quality of the pdf to the lowest setting, so it would download faster.

I'll let you find that quote in "The Dial" yourself, or, the easiest thing, if you had the inclination, would be to purchase my sequel and do a digital search for it in there... Technically, this could be a story about two of Margaret Fuller's brothers, or two other brothers. But the story depicts life-long trauma and a difficulty trusting others--in other words, a profound personal impact. The way it is worded, it is far more likely to be a story from the writer's own personal past, than to be about someone else--even a family member. Because if a child sees one sibling picking on another (the event was giving a book, and then tearing out two or three pages by way of tormenting him*), it is not going to make so deep an impression. Only if it was done to oneself will it constitute a lifelong trauma. And the reason it was traumatic, is that Mathew worshipped his brother, older by five years, and could never understand his brother's psychological makeup. Their father had a sadistic streak, the entire family was severely dysfunctional, and all of this has an extensive history, which I have gone into in depth in my first book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words." There are just a few hints of it in the official Whittier legacy, which has been greatly white-washed.

Admittedly, it could be argued that one of Fuller's brothers has confided in her how traumatizing the event was, when they were children. But the account doesn't read that way. It reads like a sensitive man baring his soul, but hiding by presenting it as a third-person account--like the fellow who tells the psychiatrist "my friend has a problem." So I would say that this is almost certainly the writer's own personal childhood experience. If it is, that writer, signing with the initial "F.," cannot possibly be Margaret Fuller.

End of lesson.

Oh, there are people who presumably have found this blog continuing, because as of yesterday there have been 89 hits on the Archives link, and that link is no-longer on the "last" Update page. I've hit the Archives page some, myself--perhaps 10 or at most 20 times in the course of writing these additional entries, but about 70 of them are somebody else. Nice to have you on-board, whoever you are.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

*My intuitive sense of it, as I sit here, today, is that John Greenleaf was probably censoring rather than teasing. Possibly, this was being wryly implied in the telling, though again, it didn't initially strike me that way. If so, this makes it even more plausible for Mathew, because such censorship would be more likely in a Quaker home.

 

Music opening this page: "One of These Things is Not Like the Others," from Sesame Street

 

   

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