At home, I have been keying in those articles from "The Odd Fellow," 1846, which I believe were written by Mathew Franklin Whittier. But at work, today, I had the opportunity to begin reading "The Three Brides, Love in a Cottage, and Other Tales," a compilation published by Francis Durivage in 1850. I am trying to determine which were written by Durivage, himself, and which he plagiarized from Mathew. I got through 11 stories, and my results were just about as expected: three written by Durivage, seven by Mathew, and one undetermined, but probably Mathew, as well.
I thought we might touch on several of these, in turn, and I'll give my rationales for each. I'll provide links to the pdf files for each story. But first, below is something from the September 23, 1846 "Odd Fellow." This is a theatre review signed with Mathew's asterisk. It is precisely like the reviews one might find, with the same signature, in the first half of 1846 in the New York "Tribune." Those reviews were also written by Mathew, although they are mistakenly attributed to Margaret Fuller. The reason is that Mathew refused to identify himself as the freelance writer of this series. Since Fuller had been appointed by the editor, Horace Greeley, as the Literary Editor, the rumor spread that she was the asterisk-signing author. With no-one to contradict her, the rumor gradually morphed into accepted fact, such that when she was sent to Europe as the paper's foreign correspondent, and Mathew went to work on the New Orleans "Daily Delta," she continued signing her overseas reports with an asterisk. But Mathew was not about to give up his secret pseudonym of many years, just because Fuller was unethical, so he just kept right on using it throughout his career. This review appears only 2-3 months (I'd have to look it up) after Mathew's asterisk-signed reviews ceased in the "Tribune."
My apologies for the slight camera-shake. I've rendered it somewhat larger than usual, and Photoshopped it the best I can, for readability.
Now we turn to Durivage's book. The difference between his work, and Mathew's, is stark, even if you haven't read over 1,500 of Mathew's pieces, as I have. Durivage, being a known plagiarist, having been (as I documented recently) caught red-handed stealing from an editor's notebook, was also a sociopath. One expects certain things from a sociopath. He loves a grand external show; but he is heartless, and without either conscience or real ethics. He can sense an ethical person, i.e., a "mark," but he has none, himself. I have recently quoted yogi Baba Hari Dass, who remarked, "Snakes know heart." This is why he steals Mathew's work. But as for his own attempts...
He's a competent writer. But he's lazy. He would prefer to copy over Mathew's stories for the bulk of his book, and then add a handful of his own, sandwiched in-between. So let's look at one of his productions; and then we will look at three of Mathew's.
This, being one of the title pieces, is called "The Three Brides." Immediately you will see that the protagonist is digging his spurs into an exhausted horse. I have numerous examples of Mathew's compassion for horses, so I know this isn't his writing. But the plot... The protagonist encounters a man with three beautiful daughters. He marries the youngest, who subsequently dies; marries the middle daughter, who also dies. The oldest one confesses that she had poisoned the other two, in order to have him, but dies of shock before they can marry, from a close-striking thunderbolt.
So there is no compassion, no ethics, no heart in this, only horror. Or as one contemporary said of Poe's works, it "breathes of Hell." Just as one might expect from a sociopath.
Now, let's look at Mathew's stolen work, in this book.
In the Boston "Carpet-Bag," which began publishing only a couple of years later, is found a recurring character named "Philanthropos." As one might expect, Philanthropos is a sort of bleeding-heart--a parody of the charitable-minded. In one episode, in the heat of the summer, Philanthropos runs around pouring water on the Boston carriage-horse's heads, in order to cool them down. Let me see if that's right, I'm speaking from memory out of 1,500 pieces...
No, not quite right. I'll copy it out of my first book:
Be merciful to Beasts.--It was a very touching and melting sight to see Philanthropos, during the extremely hot weather of last week, engaged in a series of efforts for ameliorating the condition of the omnibus horses. Our benevolent friend spent most of his time in running up and down Washington street, and using all the power of his eloquence to dissuade people from riding in omnibuses, out of sheer pity to the poor nags.
So now, let's look at "Philetus Potts," in Durivage's book, here. First of all, you notice the name. I have demonstrated time and again, that Mathew signed with variations of a cartoonish double-P name. Sometimes--as in this instance--he gives the character the name. Durivage didn't know this was Mathew's long-time secret trademark, based on a childhood nickname, "Peter Pumpkin." You see that Philetus Potts is drawn rather like a precursor to Philanthropos. Durivage, the sociopath, didn't write this. Mathew, being actually very much like this in real life, is writing a parody of himself.
There are more pointers toward Mathew. Mathew is described, by an eye-witness, as retaining the dress of an earlier era, when he was in his 60's (as I recall). "Miss Polly Martine" represents Abby, his true love, and this is a reference to a rival brought in by Abby's father, who stood between him and Abby for a short time. But after her death, he would often be struck by girls who reminded him of her, which we have evidence of from multiple sources. So he is loosely combining a couple of autobiographical elements, here, which is typical for Mathew's stories.
It almost escaped me, but I know from long experience that when Mathew adopts a pseudonym, it's almost always meaningful, and the same is sometimes true of his characters' names. When I see anything that sounds Greek, Biblical, Shakespearian or in any way historical, I've learned to look it up online, and here we find that "Philetus" is a New Testament heretic censored by Paul, who denied the physical resurrection of the dead. "Potts" means a crazy person, probably. So what Mathew is saying, is that in his deep compassion for animals, he finds that society views him as a crazy heretic.
Let's turn to this one, "The Career of an Artist." Mathew frequently uses one of two names to represent Abby: variations on "Juliana," or variations on "Adeline." But sometimes, he names his hero "Julian," as he has done, here. So we are already on-notice. Mathew was raised on a farm in Haverhill, Mass. His father was not in favor of his interest in a literary career. Here, for example, is one of his known "Ethan Spike" sketches, in which Spike's claimed brother, Perseverance W. Spike, writes to the editor of the Boston "Weekly Museum" (I think "Ethan Spike" was exclusive for the Portland "Transcript") as follows:
Mr. Editor--Gentlemen--Sir--Wal, 't would be kinder curos ef you should put this into the Mewsyum! 'T would, I swaow! But I do n't keer ef you do, on the hull. I wish you would; I should jest like to see haow I should look in print--leastways--not me, but my ideers; so put er threw--will yer, 'Squire? Perhaps you do n't know me--guess you do n't, come to think on't. I knows you do n't. My name is Spike--Parseverance W. Spike! Yes, sir, them is my cognermin, and I haint ashamed on't nyther! Trew, I haint egzactly Ethan Spike, but I'm a brother of hisn--leastways--not quite, as we had tew mothers, an' I do n't know haow many fathers. Howsever, I'm a Spike--thar's no daout about that! I feel it in me, as the praoud blood of that anshunt an' supernewmary race sarches an' circumnavigates threw my vanes. I have had a good many literary attacks, but father's most ginerally whopped me aout of 'em--but this that's onto me naow, is the hardest yet. My geenus must have vent, an' I told father so, this morning. Father, says I, it's no use, yer might jest as well try to stop the tongue of aant Jewdy Kyer, when it's fairly sot in for a run--as attempt to stop the bilin' over of raal, omittygated, natyve talent--says I! Father, I will be a litterytoor, says I! "You shan't," says he! I will says I! "Take that," says he--an' he fetched me a crack on the side of my head, that made me see more stars than is put down in the fundament.--But the permethian spark was lit in me. I was bold as a lyon! I clinched the old un--an' though he is paowerful staout--natyve talent was staouter. I licked him! I did n't let the old feller get up, till he promised I might rite one letter to the Musyum. I told Ethan abaout it, an' he says I done jest right.--Says he--"yourn is a case of parseverance under difficulties," says he. Says I--"if you'd sawn me given it to father, you'd a thought it was a case of Parseverance atop of difficulties," says I. "That ere is a pun," says he. "Show!" says I.
Note that Mathew uses the exact phrase, "the old 'un. The entire series, "The Old 'Un," which Durivage stole, was already labeled with one of Mathew's preferred phrases.
This is a heavily stylized autobiographical account of the physical fight that must have developed between Mathew and his father, at age 14, when Mathew insisted on attending Haverhill Academy with his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. But John Greenleaf, although older, couldn't do heavy farm work because of a permanent injury (perhaps, a hernia?); whereas Mathew was the more physically robust son, and was needed on the farm. Mathew, as near as I can tell, ran away to sea after this fight; when he returned, he stayed in the Haverhill area only a short while, before moving to Boston, where he began working as a printer's apprentice for the New-England Galaxy. Very soon, still being only 14 years old, he began publishing work in that paper. I have plenty of evidence for this, but we will move on. This is Mathew Franklin Whittier, giving yet another stylized account of his early career.
Mathew left Boston for New York City in December of 1829, when he was 17 years old, and began writing for the New York "Constellation," for which paper he soon became the acting junior editor. All of this is more-or-less accurate autobiography, except that "Julian" becomes an artist, rather than a writer. The beautiful, upper-class Miss Caroline Greville represents Abby Poyen, whose father was a marquis. As for the denouement, Mathew, of course, did not become wealthy, nor was he conservative. So he appears to have simply gone off the autobiographical track through literary license.
A third story, entitled "Love in a Cottage"--also included in the title of the book--confused me, when I first ran into it in "Gleason's Pictorial," as I was writing my first book. Mathew is non-materialistic, and honest--would he write of tricking a girl into thinking he was poor, and then have his hero and heroine living in style? But then I extrapolated more of Mathew's history. Mathew and Abby were both extremely idealistic. Abby, having been raised upper-class, had renounced her father's wealth, which he had inherited from his father's plantation in Guadeloupe--money gotten from slave labor. When the couple moved to Amesbury, Mass., and Mathew launched his own newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor" (Salisbury is just adjacent to Amesbury), it appears to me that they took a cheap house in the working district, so as to living among the poor as one of them. But these poor shunned them; and Abby became disillusioned with her ideals of philanthropy.
All of this comes through various clues, and also from past-life intuitive impressions. I can substantiate some of it, not all. I had a past-life glimpse of the house, but cannot verify it.
Nonetheless, what Mathew appears to be doing, is recounting some portion of this experience in this story, re-working it as a sort of success fantasy where they were able to get out of the situation. In real life, they were not. Their first child, Joseph, died in a local scarlet fever epidemic; they went to live with Mathew's cousin, Richard Whittier, in Methuen, and then moved here, to Portland (where I am, today). But sometimes Mathew writes a wish-fulfilling fantasy--making everything come out alright. I think this is one of those instances. You will note that the girl's name is "Julia," while the man's name is "Belmont." Mathew would, apparently, use variations of names he liked, in different series and different publications. "Belmont" is similar to "Bertram" (the hero in "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," which I also claim for his pen). In another of the stories in this book, he features a "Mr. Tubbs," whereas in the "Carpet-Bag," he twice writes stories about a "Mr. Tuggs." There are other examples, like "Mr. Blinks" and "Mr. Blifkins," but that will suffice.
I'm not even scratching the surface of the evidence that Francis Durivage stole Mathew's work. This one is proven well beyond a reasonable doubt. Durivage must have represented himself as a literary agent to Mathew; and Mathew must have presented him with two unpublished compilations: one of adventure stories, such as he had previously published in the Portland "Transcript" (including under his own name); and a series of humorous sketches under the name, "The Old 'Un." Durivage published all of these in various newspapers as his own work, and then published the lot in mixed compilations, of which this book is one.
I know how Mathew felt about this, because I still feel it, today. This was a shattering blow to his literary career. It would have put him on the map, and opened countless doors. He would go on to make one more big push, in the "Carpet-Bag"; but when he was forced out of that venture, and the paper died of the resulting mediocrity, that was it. He continued to write and publish, but I think that was the last of his hopes for a career as a writer. Someday, I hope to set this right, i.e., not privately, but publicly. The public may not have an interest in stories like these anymore; but someday, I'm going to change the history books on this one, so that Mathew officially gets the credit for those pieces he had so obviously written.
Again, I can prove just as definitely that Mathew was the real author of "The Raven." I hope to change that in the history books, too. But that one will be a bit more of a hassle for them to correct, I think.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Take A Pebble," by Emerson, Lake and Palmer,
from the album, "Emerson, Lake and Palmer"