I have been in "proof mode" for most of these entries, for some time. But there is, of course, a legitimate place for speculation, so long as one makes clear that is what one's doing. Speculation is based on evidence which isn't yet strong enough to clinch the theory; and it gives a direction to research. So let me briefly recap what I'm basing this speculation on. I can't cite all the evidence, because at this point it's massive, and is all presented in my books as I discovered it. But I can give a summary, here.
Before I start, do you mind the introductory music for these pages? I use them as Mathew Franklin Whittier used inline poetry quotes. If sometimes they are longish, I'm quite aware of that. I refuse to bow to Society's disease of ADD. When it's appropriate for it to be longer, I make it longer. It's always relevant in some way, or I wouldn't use it.
Now, in this very blog, for date May 31, 2006, I wrote, as an aside:
Here's something that might be useful as evidence. I have a strong feeling that I had some impact or influence on Charles Dickens's writing of "A Christmas Carol," as Mathew Whittier. But I have seen absolutely no evidence in that regard.
Unlike the entry in which I announced the discovering of the historical figure, Mathew Franklin Whittier, and my immediate feeling of recognition upon seeing his engraving, this entry was not preserved by Archive.org's "Wayback Machine," online. However, all these files contain a digital date-stamp. As does this entry. That, of course, is very handy to prove that I haven't been working things backwards. So, let us assume that I really did write this, out-of-the-blue, on May 31, 2006, roughly a year after I first discovered MFW. I did it deliberately as a marker, against the day when it might prove relevant.
Oh, I take that back! It is preserved on the Wayback Machine, here:
Hot-diggity-dog!! Give me a minute to archive this...you will be looking for paragraph #9. ("No. 9, no. 9, no. 9...") What is that from? I've forgotten, now. (My memory probably was state-dependent at the time, and I've long since given up drugs.)
I had never investigated the history of "A Christmas Carol," nor the life of Charles Dickens, when I finally began researching my past-life case, and this question in particular, in 2009. I didn't know the book's publication date, and I remember being a bit concerned that it might immediately disprove MFW's authorship. But the more I dug into the question, the more plausible my theory became. In fact, other than signs of a coverup, I didn't find any contradictory evidence in this particular theory. The coverup came in the enthusiastic interpretations by Dickens' admirer, John Forster. For example (from memory), Forster describes Dickens feverishly walking the streets at night while composing the "Carol" in a fit of inspired genius, over a period of six weeks. You know, sort of the way Handel is said to have composed "The Messiah."
But this is very suspect. Dickens was afraid of going into debt at this point. He needed a "potboiler"--something with popular appeal. What better than a ghost story--or better yet, a "Ghost Story of Christmas?" This is what he subtitled the "Carol" when he self-published it. Dickens had no respect for the metaphysics in this story--but if you have studied metaphysics and the occult, you know the "Carol" is written like the film "Ghost." This is the real thing, or, at least, some of it is. When Dickens tried his hand at sounding occult and mystical in later holiday efforts, he fell flat on his face. Mathew, reviewing one of these later efforts anonymously, commented wryly on it.
Let's cut to the chase on this, because the case is built carefully in my first book, with plenty of evidence. This is the scenario that I have put together from dozens of clues.
In the fall of 1838, Mathew and Abby, having suffered the loss of their first child in a local scarlet fever epidemic, are invited to recuperate in the farm house of his cousin, Richard Whittier, in nearby Methuen, Mass. There, to keep Abby's mind occupied, he suggests they collaborate, by re-writing one of his humorous stories into a novella (or, possibly, a play). His version had a clerk with a harsh, penny-pinching employer, who secretly tests his honesty, and rewards him by secretly filling the family's stockings on New Year's Eve. Abby has remarked that the story doesn't make sense as written, because people don't change like that without "turning," i.e., a radical change of heart. The story needs some spiritual impetus to create such a change.
Now, Mathew had, in past years, written many ghost stories, of the type where the "ghost" turns out to be someone playing a prank. But Abby, being actually steeped in occult knowledge, suggested that the unrepentant employer be visited, first by his late business partner, now an earthbound spirit; and then by his spirit-guides. He will be given a life-review, and as a result, he will experience a turning of the heart. It is Abby who writes all the ghosts' speeches.
After Abby's death on March 27, 1841 (making tomorrow the 178th anniversary), Mathew was invited, by his friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, to be among the young Boston literati around Charles Dickens when he visited Boston in February of 1842. (Mathew moved in the same social circle as his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, though he was probablly considered by most the "hanging-on little brother.") During one of these sessions, Mathew, who also admired Dickens, brought along his and Abby's unpublished manuscript, and it was taken back to England along with all the other manuscripts that hopeful writers, seeking feedback, had given him. When the book came out the following year, Mathew was thrilled that the great "Boz" had condescended to modify and use his and Abby's manuscript. It was many years before Mathew realized that Dickens' character was flawed, and that in fact he had been taken advantage of--one of many, in fact, who had been plagiarized by Dickens.
What has happened, is that I think I've stumbled across that precursor--the story that Abby helped him rework into a spiritual story of personal redemption. If you compare her short stories--including one of Christmas--with Mathew's work, you can see how their talents and sensibilities might combine. And indeed, I have a few works which I have reason to believe they wrote, jointly--so I know they sometimes did this. The precursor appears in the compilation of stories--most of which were plagiarized from Mathew--published by Francis Durivage in 1850.
Incidentally, this book is entitled "The Three Wives, Love in a Cottage, and Other Tales." I was aware that Durivage published a similar compilation in 1853, entitled "Life Scenes. Shadows in Light & Shade from the World Around Us," in 1853. I thought I might have an entire second book to go through, but it is precisely the same book with a new title. That's clever, because a certain percentage of people would buy it, thinking it to be a sequel, without checking the table of contents. Durivage, it seems, was all about the profits.
I bought the original of "The Three Wives," just recently, for $2.50. And it's in pretty good condition. This includes the precursor to "A Christmas Carol." Can you imagine? But here, I'll give you the pdf version from Archive.org.
To speculate further--and my speculation is "juiced" by intuitive past-life memory--I think that this story was published in Mathew's 1838 paper, the Salisbury "Monitor." There's no way to corroborate that, now, because some collector has it squirreled away in his private collection.* But that fellow (or woman) can't live forever--and having paid $7,000 for it, he's unlikely to simply throw it out. When he dies, it may go public--before or after my own passing. If I am successful in preserving this work I'm doing for the future, and the Salisbury "Monitor" surfaces, this story may be found in it. The timing would make sense. They publish the precursor in the "Monitor" sometime in the spring or summer of 1838; then, in the fall of 1838, when Mathew is trying to distract Abby from her grief for their son, and trying to give her a reason to live, he chooses this sketch. The reason he does that is that he knows she may be suicidal, or may simply give up on life. He knows that she is charitable-minded and reform-minded. If he can convince her that she will be doing a service to humanity by collaborating with him on this story--which she has criticized for not having a spiritual basis--then he can give her a reason to live.
You see the deep back story which emerges from these things. Everything that real people do, has a deep back story. And everything that real authors--especially, inspired authors--write, has a deep back story. Nothing comes out of the blue, sans context. Nothing inspired is done as an academic exercise, as Poe tried to convince us in his essay, "The Philosophy of Composition," regarding his supposed writing of "The Raven." And by the way, Poe did not write an essay on the "Philosophy of Composition," coincidentally using "The Raven" as an example. That's a ruse. He wrote the essay around the poem, to counter increasing suspicions that he didn't, actually, write it. And it is, as I've said before, a prime example of bullshit essaying.
When Charles Dickens returned to America, in 1867, he gave public readings, drawing heavily, it is said, from the "Carol." Mathew's brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, who had stayed away in 1842, prevailed upon his publisher to get a ticket, and sung Dickens' praises. There is no indication that Mathew attended one of these readings. But another writer, Louisa May Alcott, did--and she wasn't impressed. The quote appears in "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father," but I don't think that book made it in my move from North Myrtle Beach to Portland. Online, you can find the page right before the quote in which she describes Dickens' reading, so it must be on page 323. It begins:
Louisa spent seven weeks in London, taking in all that the city had to offer. She was perhaps most grateful for the chance to indulge her ongoing fascination with Dickens. She spent a day eagerly crisscrossing the city in search of real-life locations that had surfaced in the pages of Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombrey and Son, and David Copperfield. She even managed to secure admission to a reading by the author himself and doubtlessly looked forward to the even with expectations that could only be disappointed...
But that is author John Matteson's "damage control" introduction. Her impressions of the reading were nothing short of damning. The reason is that Dickens had also plagiarized "David Copperfield"--I don't know about the other two works. If you take "Copperfield" and "A Christmas Carol" out of Dickens' repertoire, and stop associating those works with him, I think Louisa May's disappointment makes sense.
Well, none of this will convince the skeptic. He will say that my assertion, in 2006, was merely a coincidence. He will not bother to study the evidence I've amassed in my books, with an open mind--but he will assume that it can't be compelling. He will say that any similarity between this story--which he believes was written by Francis Durivage--and "A Christmas Carol," is either another coincidence, or that Durivage piggy-backed on Dickens' earlier work, in 1850.
I get very weary of stubborn, irrational skepticism, which seeks to bolster its own assumptions and conclusions, and has no real respect for the truth--and yet which falsely claims the high ground of rationality and scientific thinking.
But today's entry carries with it a digital date-stamp. If you don't live long enough, your children or grandchildren will live in a world in which Dickens' plagiarism is known, including of "A Christmas Carol." It will be self-evident that he couldn't have written this book, because in that future era, people will recognize real metaphysics when they see it. The only question will be, "who was the real author, or authors?"
At that time, my time-stamped blog entry of 2006, having been preserved online by Archive.org, will mean something. Meanwhile, today I have a researcher going into the library to look for Mathew's work in the Onondaga "Standard," from Nov. 1846 through Feb. 1847. I'll report on whatever he finds, or doesn't find. I continue to go through Durivage's compilation, and I'm finding all sorts of evidence. For one thing, I have previously indicated that where Mathew secretly represents Abby in his short stories, he uses variations of one of her two preferred names--Juliana, or Adeline. In this book, the name "Julia" appears over and over--so much so, that when Durivage inserted a couple of his own productions, I think he followed suit, just for the sake of apparent consistency. At any rate, if you read these stories you will see that it is clearly the "Julia book," even though so far as I know, Durivage never gave an explanation. I had the explanation long before I started reading these stories. Let's avail ourselves of the digital search function, and my digital archives, and see just how many times variations on "Julia" show up in Mathew's other works. And I don't mean it just shows up, I mean, the context is such that a story about Abby, or an allegory for their relationship, is being portrayed in some way.
Nine times in a relevant context, including a story signed with Mathew's own name, "The Cousins," which appears on the front page of the June 1, 1844 Portland "Transcript" (a weekly paper). Abby's birthday was June 2nd. In this story, the female love interest is named Louisa, but a reference is slipped in, sans context, to "Donna Julia's eyes." I hadn't noticed it, before.
The name "Julia" probably appears in as many stories, just in this book. One of them contains both "Julia" and "Adelaide." Variations on Adelaide, including Adeline and Adela, appear only four times in Mathew's work, one being a passing reference to "Queen Adelaide's jewels." This suggests to me (in context with other clues) that Abby admired or identified with Queen Adeliade (they did indeed look similar, and I have comparison portraits in my book). But that, not liking her name, "Abigail" (which had connotations of an English maid), her personal preference would have been "Juliana."
This entry is poorly-written, because I am closing it on a digression. But I don't see a seamless way to bring it back on-topic. All I can say is that I am providing real evidence for what will naturally seem to be absurd claims. That's how thoroughly sociopathic people like Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens, fooled the public. They even fooled astute colleagues like Louisa May Alcott--until, that is, she saw Dickens in person. (Look up that quote in "Eden's Outcasts"--it's a shocker, Matteson's attempts to cushion it where he quotes it, notwithstanding.)
There is one thing I'd like to add. Although we cannot prove that Mathew wrote this story prior to the 1843 publication of "A Christmas Carol," we know that he wrote it--and we know that he prided himself on being original. This story is far too close to the plot of "A Christmas Carol" for him to have authored it without an open acknowledgment to Dickens, unless 1) he had written the "Carol" himself and thus owed Dickens no acknowledgment; or 2) he wrote it before the "Carol" was ever written.
Here--I should have introduced this early in this entry, but I just now discovered it. This is another story--an editorial, really--by Mathew Franklin Whittier, found in Durivage's compilation. Mathew has written in this vein, before, most notably in New York City, in the early 1830's, for the "Constellation," when he was writing the editorials as the junior editor. He did the same, signing with his secret pseudonym, a "star," in the New York "Tribune" of 1844-46 (which work has been wrongly attributed by historians to Margaret Fuller). This lead editorial from the "Constellation" is a prime example. It is Mathew Franklin Whittier, and his wife Abby, who express their profound compassion and social conscience in "A Christmas Carol."
Oh, this is rich. I have to add this one...
In this story from Durivage's compilation, a character sketch about "Jack Withers," I find the following typical slice of Mathew's humor. I'd never heard of the "Sacred Cod," but the miracle of the internet enabled me to locate it in a couple of clicks. This thing would definitely have amused Mathew...
I have mentioned that Mathew first wrote, signing as "K.K. Blifkins," in the "Carpet-Bag"; and then, editor B.P. Shillaber wrote a series of satires about "Blifkins, the Martyr," based on Mathew's second, disastrous arranged marriage. Contained in that series is a reference to Mathew having a spirit visitation dream of Abby, and trying to communicate with her telepathically through the bust of Pallas over his chamber door. Well, Jack's friend in this story is named "Bill Bliffins." The girl's name, meanwhile, is "Juliet."
I might as well keep on. This will be read in its entirety by the truly interested, like my books. Here is yet another story from Durivage's compilation, which is clearly Mathew's work. It is a succinct Temperance caution tale, and a miracle conversion story. I know Mathew was formally involved in the Temperance movement as of the mid-1840's; but this one is very old-style Victorian, and looks to me as though it was written even earlier. In any case, I can't say with any certainty that it is pre-"Carol." But here, we see a miraculous conversion, on Christmas Eve, written by Mathew Franklin Whittier. Note the conclusion--that the conversion is credited to the "power of music." This is not a traditionally religious person writing this story.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*It has occurred to me that that may be why this historical discovery--which the historian writing for Bonham's Auction House said would be "worthy of much further study"--has been kept from the public eye. Published in 1838, it would at the very least be clear evidence that Dickens borrowed heavily from Mathew's work. But they ain't seen nothin' yet--wait until Mathew's story is compared with Abby's Christmas story, which features a palm-reader...
Music opening this page: "Trademark," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, Ah Via Musicom