I have to open a new entry, because if I put this new discovery at the bottom of the previous one, nobody will ever see it--at least, not today. I guarantee that posterity will see it.
Grandiose of me, I know. But what I think I have found--toward the back of Francis Durivage's compilation, "The Three Brides, Love in a Cottage, and Other Tales," is a missing link--a missing link between a precursor to "A Christmas Carol" found earlier in this same volume, entitled "New Year's Stockings," and that work. This one is called "New Year's Bells." The ending of "New Year's Bells" is essentally identical with "The Christ Church Chimes," inasmuch as in both, an alcoholic, and a miser, respectively, are miraculously converted and transformed by the sound of church bells. These are like treatments of the same story.
This one, too, features a cruel miser who has a change of heart. His name is "Israel Wurm," which clearly implies he is Jewish. But the plot, here, is far closer to "A Christmas Carol." It entails a mystical, transforming overnight dream, in which Israel sees a vision of himself being generous with a friend, in childhood. We are now very close to "Dick and Ebenezer." There is a scene in which the miser sees the old sexton digging a grave, and upon inquiring whose grave it is, he finds it is his own. This, (from memory), closely parallels a scene in the "Carol" with the "Ghost of Christmas Future."
I see no reason why there would be a progression like this after the fact. These are incremental precursors to the story that Mathew and Abby wrote together--and you can clearly see, here, which parts were Mathew's, and what Abby added. Abby added the accurate metaphysics, and in particular, the speeches of the ghosts. It is her pen, I believe, which animates Marley, as he preaches to Scrooge about the law of karma ("you wear the chain you forged yourself"). It is her eloquence, in other words, which has leveraged this story to the degree that it became a world classic. And it is her accurate knowledge of metaphysics, which makes it impossible that Charles Dickens could have originally authored it.
The skeptical explanation is naturally going to be that these were written after 1843, in imitation of Dickens. But this isn't the most logical interpretation, if you know Mathew Franklin Whittier--and these are definitely his works, which I've already established several times over. The presence of "Elnathan Spike" in one of them is enough to stand on its own, as proof.
Now, Mathew would never have published both of these stories, "The New Year's Stockings" and "The New Year's Bells," in the same compilation. That means I have to revise my earlier theory, that Mathew took Durivage to be a literary agent, and handed over to him ready-made compilations for publication. Rather, Durivage must have somehow stolen a very large collection of Mathew's works; some of them recent (when Mathew was making Boston his home base, in 1849); and some of them going back years.
For the sake of comparision, here is "The New Year's Stockings," and here is "The New Year's Bells." For good measure, here again is Christ Church Chimes.
Incidentally, as I read these stories in the compilation, I am literally overwhelmed with the indicators of Mathew Franklin Whittier's authorship. There are far too many to list, either here, or in my sequel. I could write a paper on each story. A few examples out of dozens, are Mathew's use of the colloqualisms, "catch a weasle asleep," which is seen in his "Enoch Timbertoes," and "down brown," which shows up in the earliest piece I have for him, in 1827. We have more Julie's; and we have a Spike-like character named "Simpkins" (a name Mathew will use for an entire series in 1852). "The Stage-Struck Gentleman" is so similar to "Acting Charades," that, once again, both of these stories should not have appeared in the same book. There is also a "Widow Trotter," where Mathew wrote of "Miss Trotter" in the early 1830's, for the New York "Constellation."
I was just recently telling Abby that I did not yet have proof of Mathew's and her co-authorship of "A Christmas Carol." In conjuction with other evidence I've collected, I may have it, now.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Trademark," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, Ah Via Musicom