I'm not going to go into this story, "Funeral Shadows," from "The Three Brides, Love in a Cottage, and Other Tales" (published by Francis Durivage in 1850), in great detail. It speaks for itself as Mathew Franklin Whittier's very personal work, symbolically representing himself as a writer, and his first marriage to Abby Poyen. Strangely, he has given his heroine the last name of "Vaughan," which was the maiden name of his second wife, Jane. That marriage was arranged by family, and pushed upon Mathew while he was still vulnerable, by his mother. The only reason I can see he would do this, is because this story was written by the time he had remarried, a year after Abby's death. That--and the tenor of the piece--probably dates this story to just about the same time that he wrote "The Raven."
The parallels to Mathew's life are probably fairly precise. We don't know whether or not he lived on the third floor of a house in Washington Street, Boston at this time. Quite plausibly, he could have in the early 1850's; or, perhaps in the late 1820's. But we see, here, evidence of being well-acquainted with metaphysical teachings (as one sees in "The Raven"); we see an eccentric, sensitive artist who refuses to truck with hypocrisy, and paints things and people as they truly are; we see, of course, his own genius and talent; and we see Abby as Mathew perceived her, expressed in dozens of tributes and references. Abby died of consumption in March of 1841; though Mathew was not with her when she passed, having tried to rescue her by sending her to her family home a few days before her death.
Mathew, of course, didn't die soon afterwards; he lived until age 70. As my first psychic, Candace Zellner, relayed in March 2010 (from my real-time notes):
As a result of Abby's death, his heart wasn't in it after that. He didn't show his emotion, depression. Abby was his soul mate. They had overcome great obstacles to be together, her death was unexpected. He never thought he'd live so long without her. Became withdrawn, eccentric.
There's not too much more to say about this. Reading it just now affected me profoundly, and I recognized having written it before I was very far along. This is how Mathew felt about Abby's passing. One would hardly recognize the humorist, here--but Mathew used humor to deflect deep, overwhelming feelings like this. Only very rarely did he write about them publicly, and he never signed them. That makes me wonder how it ended up in Durivage's compilation. Perhaps the original intent was for the compilation to remain unsigned.
I am not guessing about these attributions. I have all the research dots connected, now, and I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote this. I keep finding corroborating evidence, because one can't help doing so when one's theory is correct. Here, you are reading a short story written by the real author of "The Raven," probably written at about the same time. Durivage no more wrote this; and Poe no more wrote "The Raven"; than Celine Dion wrote "The Heart Will Go On."
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "The Heart Will Go On," by James Horner,
performed by Celine Dion as the theme for the film, "Titanic"