I'm still reading "The Mistake of a Lifetime" (see today's earlier entry), and taking notes as I go, looking for "Mathewsian" elements, i.e., typical elements of Mathew Franklin Whittier's style. They are legion, so much so that I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of summarizing them in my sequel, when I'm finished reading it. But I thought I'd share just one, of many. Mathew adopted the dialect of many different ethnic groups; but among them, he would occasionally represent the speech of sailors. He had, as I have concluded from many hints and clues in his writing, run away to sea when he was a boy, only to be dropped off in Cuba when his stomach wasn't strong enough for lengthy open-sea voyages. But he picked up the lingo, and the nautical terminology. No-doubt he could confer with experienced seamen to be certain his narrations were accurate (just as I conferred with a physics professor for the Einstein video sketch I shared recently). But I'm going to share a page from "The Mistake," which you can compare with two sketches he wrote when he was 17 and 19 years old, respectively, for the New York "Constellation." These are unsigned, but he was the working junior editor of that paper, and contributed heavily to it both as the editor (unsigned), and under several different pseudonyms and signatures. You will be looking for "Trivial Trialogues" in this edition of June 5, 1830; and "Sailors on a Rail-Road," in this edition of Sept. 17, 1831. You may then compare it to page 38 of "The Mistake."
Let me be clear. This, by itself, in isolation, is not proof. This is sharing. Proof comes from having scrutinized the entire book, and comparing it against some 1,600 of Mathew's other works, as I alone am currently in a position to do. Someday, posterity will have this material, and can do its own research at the little museum I hope to dedicate to his legacy.
It's obvious to me that "The Mistake" is Mathew's work. I strongly suspect that "Waldo Howard" is his own pseudonym, being somewhat cartoonish, as was his habit. The question is whether the manuscript was stolen from him and sold for $3,000 to "Gleason's Pictorial," or whether Mathew sold it to them, himself. That his glowing review, of his own work, appears in "The Odd Fellows" (a clear conflict of interest, one would think), as well as appearing in an ad taken out by a New York book distributor in NY, is very, very odd. It may be that Mathew didn't get the royalty payment for this book, but he saw fit to at least defend his creative work. All I can do, where I present this in my sequel, is to give the evidence I have, along with the plausible alternative explanations. In any case, I bought a copy of the book in fair condition; and then I bought a bound copy of the original series, taken from "Gleason's Pictorial." That may possibly be the only instance of a bound copy in existence. At any rate, some day when it is understood that it was written by the co-author of "A Christmas Carol" and the author of "The Raven," it's going to be quite valuable. I will never sell it--it will go into MFW's little museum.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "The Mermaid Song" (a variation of which
my father, who was in the merchant marine, taught me
as a boy, having learned it from some old salt)