I found it--the missing link. It's just a little thing, that nobody else would notice, nor ascribe any meaning to. But to my practiced eye, it completes the chain. This is the little puzzle piece which brings out the entire picture.
If you haven't already, you may wish to read the previous entry of two days ago (Archives link at the bottom of the page). That way I won't have to repeat everything. But briefly, from year 2006, the year after I first discovered my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier in the 19th century, when I first publicly expressed the feeling that he had something to do with the writing of "A Christmas Carol," up until now, I have been discovering and reporting clues to this effect. I had built a very strong case--far stronger than most people probably imagine I have, just seeing my bare claim without studying the evidence closely.
But there was one gap. I knew that Mathew had corresponded with Dickens; but how could he have passed off the manuscript to him? The "acknowedgment of a letter" from Mathew in Dickens' published correspondence doesn't mention any accompanying materials. I felt that maybe Mathew was, in fact, one of the unnamed young men who tagged around with Dickens, socially, when Dickens was in Boston, in 1842. But how could he have gotten into that select circle? His brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, would have been publicly prominent enough to do it--But John snubbed Dickens, and wasn't in attendance. Did he just sort of work his way into the crowd? He would have had to be riding on some more publicly prominent person's coattails, to gain access.
I knew that as of 1851, nine years later, Mathew (writing a travelogue under a pseudonym that was attributed to someone else), claimed a personal friendship with Oliver Wendell Holmes. That would have done it, because Holmes, in addition to being a popular writer, was a member of the Boston social elite, and was, in fact, among the group around Dickens. But how far back did that friendship go?
Just yesterday, my researcher was at it again, into the 1837 newspaper that Mathew and Abby contributed to. Primarily, they were writing together, as "Kappa, Lambda & Mu," in defense of Abolitionism. But they each submitted a few pieces on their own. My researcher snagged one yesterday, a poetical and light-hearted account of a Fourth of July celebration, which was capped off with a formal ball. He closes the piece with a quote: "God bless our Yankee girls."
"F.," or Mathew's middle initial, is a signature which he used on many occasions, in the late 1830's and 1840's. This is the earliest instance I've found of it, but there is one later in the year, and there are several the following year. It is also written in his unmistakable style. So there is no serious question that this piece is his work.
Thanks to the internet, which makes me into a sort of instant scholar, I found that this was a poem written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Published by him in 1861, it also appears as sheet music, with himself listed as the lyricist, in 1854--but it appears, unattributed, in the American Monthly Magazine in 1836. It is thus barely possible it could be a coincidence, i.e., that Mathew quoted it without realizing it was Holmes' poem. But Occam's Razor is screaming out in protest at that one, and the reason is, I have over 650 of Mathew's works at this time, and I know his habits. He likes to quote his friends. We see him often quote his brother's poetry, and when he becomes friends with Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, he quotes or references his creation, "Mrs. Partington."
I can't hold this out to a skeptic and say, "There, I've proven it." This isn't that kind of proof. You can't show a skeptic a tiny little puzzle piece, and expect him to be converted on-the-spot once he gets out his magnifying glass to see it properly. So what? It's just a puzzle piece--he can't even tell what it's supposed to be.
But I know, seeing the entire picture. Mathew quoted that line, the title of the poem, because it was his friend's. Now follow the chain--Mathew was invited by Holmes to meet Dickens in Boston, in 1842. Mathew brought along his and Abby's manuscript, as a final tribute to her (she had died about a year earlier). Mathew was said by his daughter, in later years, to have been a "brilliant conversationalist" (as was Holmes). He charmed Dickens, and Dickens took his manuscript. A year later, Dickens is very worried about going into debt, and we know that his greatest fear was, in fact, being thrown into debtor's prison as his father had been. The Christmas season is approaching. He rifles through the copious materials that he had been given during his American tour; and this one catches his eye, because it bears the Whittier name. He cares nothing for the metaphysics--but could he re-work it into "A Ghost Story of Christmas"? (This ended up being his subtitle.) He copies it over by hand, burns the original, and feverishly works at it day and night to get it ready for publication. He completes his revision in a mere six weeks (since he didn't have to write it from scratch), and self-publishes--writing, in the final draft, "My own, and only, MS of the Book," with his characteristic signature, including the multiple bold underlines beneath it.
He "doth protest too much, methinks."
Mathew is secretly pleased--at first--even with the watering-down of Abby's metaphysics. This was never a "ghost story." This is what people have to understand. This was always a metaphysical story, like the film, "Ghost." It was only Dickens who dumbed it down into a "ghost story," because Dickens was a scoffer when it came to the supernatural.
All it took was that little tiny piece...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page from "The Inspector," by Wally Badarou, from the album, "Echoes"