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3/21/19

This story, "Jack and the 'Game,' is classic Mathew Franklin Whittier. This is one submitted by Francis Durivage to "The Flag of Our Union," in 1849. It appears in the Dec. 15 edition. I'm not sure why I keep hammering away at this. I think, aside from lingering emotional involvement, I want to prove some of these false attributions so thoroughly, that some of the others may be taken seriously.

I just keyed the whole thing in, and then lost the file. So while my computer is searching for it, I'll proceed looking at the pdf page. Again, these are hard to read. But let's go through some of the "Mathewsian" elements--the markers which identify it as his work. I am going to be drawing from literally hundreds of Mathew's works, without quoting from them or citing them. Doing so would take up the rest of my afternoon, and having keyed in one of Mathew's lengthy adventure stories this morning, which took several hours, I have neither the time nor the energy for that.

First of all, Mathew is a humorist, and loves a good comedian. He also frequents the theatre, and sometimes reviews same. So it is entirely plausible that he would have a particular fondness for "old Jack Barnes."

Secondly, Mathew moved to New York, to find work in merchandising, and to write for the "Constellation," in December of 1829--or almost exactly 20 years earlier. He was 17 years old, coming off an early career start in Boston, where he was writing for the "New-England Galaxy" since age 14. So the 20-year figure, in New York, for Mathew, is plausible. These things are crucial, because one impossible reference can throw a monkey-wrench in the entire theory. And I'm honest about it, if I run into one.

Mathew has written another humorous story about a Tithingman--one who owned an inn, and would make money by forcing travelers to stay at his inn when he arrested them. So it is a topic which amused him. And, Mathew loves a good practical joke. I saw evidence of that, recently, in his account of visiting with his friends in Falmouth, which is a satellite, now, of Portland.

Let's look at the deliberate misspellings, as the author approximates Yankee dialect. This is Mathew's specialty; and he is pretty consistent with his spelling, across pseudonyms and series. "Rayther" is Mathew's; so is "skripter," "natur," "airth," and "buzzum." I could search my digital archives and tell you precisely how many times Mathew has used each of these words, but again, it would take time. I have to search on variations, and I have to look at each example. Shall we try "buzzum"? I don't expect too many of those. "Natur" would be in the 30's or 40's, too many to bother counting.

I got--(wait, they're still loading)--five "Ethan Spikes" (Mathew's known, flagship series), and a one-off, "Patty Pumple" (you may recall that Mathew frequently used variations on double-"P" names). That's something not many other writers are likely to use, unless they are imitating "Ethan Spike."

Oh, I noticed that in the compilation Francis Durivage published, of Mathew's stolen work, he included "The Surrender of Cornwallis." It also appeared in the May 17, 1851 edition of "Gleason's Pictorial"--but this proves to you (in case you've been wondering) that it was Durivage who was publishing them, not Mathew. Now compare this with the story that Charles Farrar Browne surreptitiously inserted into "The Carpet-Bag," under the pseudonym of "Lieut. Chub," in the July 17, 1852 edition. Remember that Mathew had a financial interest in the "Carpet-Bag," wrote as many as eight pieces under different pseudonyms for each weekly edition for much of its run, and (as we have seen) had a key to the office, if he wasn't officially on-staff.

In "The Complete Works of Artemus Ward, (Charles Farrar Browne)," which includes a biographical sketch by Melville D. Landon, we read:

Here he wrote his first contribution in a disguised hand, slyly put it into the editorial box, and the next day disguised his pleasure while setting it up himself. The article was a description of a Fourth of July celebration in Skowhegan. The spectacle of the day was a representation of the battle of Yorktown, with G. Washington and General Horace Cornwallis in character. The article pleased Mr. Shillaber, and Mr. Browne, afterwards speaking of it, said: "I went to the theatre that evening, had a good time of it, and thought I was the greatest man in Boston."

The biographer is speaking of Browne when he worked as a printer's apprentice for the "Carpet-Bag."

If you compare Durivage's stolen "Old 'Un" sketch, here, taken from his book, with this version--having the same title--from Browne's book, you will see that Browne's is clearly a re-write of Durivage's--which was stolen from Mathew. (And no, this is not an instance of synchronicity, where two different people get the same idea independently.) The question then becomes whether Mathew shared the story directly with Browne, at the Carpet-Bag office, or whether Browne got it from "Gleason's." I would guess the former, which is far more likely. Mathew must have been mentoring Browne. But as so often seems to have happened, the young men Mathew mentored didn't have enough creativity to create fresh pieces from their own imaginations. They either stole Mathew's work, or imitated it. Browne achieved fame imitating Mathew's "Ethan Spike," and got fairly good at the technicality of representing Yankee dialect. He admittedly had a good comedic sense, but he didn't have Mathew's philosophical depth. This worked for him, actually, given that the general public wasn't able to perceive Mathew's depth, either. It was a "match," in other words, between the watered-down imitation Browne created with his character, "Artemus Ward," and the public.

This is just a tiny snippet from my first book. You see, it is as long as it is, because it is jam-packed with fascinating evidence like this. But nobody will part with $12.00 and about three weeks of their time to read it. They are much happier spending months and months reading memes on Facebook.

These things I'm sharing, today, are "done deals." It's a done deal that Francis A. Durivage, and Charles Farrar Browne (who has been called the "first stand-up comedian"), achieved their success by stealing from Mathew Franklin Whittier.

I can prove just as solidly, that Edgar Allan Poe stole "The Raven" from Mathew. When is somebody going to take me seriously? Doesn't anybody see how much power is in this thing? As much as you think I'm a fruitcake--by that same degree, when you understand that all of this is quite real, you will understand the power in it.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

 

Music opening this page: "Remote Outpost," by the author

 

   

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