I don't want to spend a lot of time with this, today, because I need to wind down for dinner and a better night's sleep. But my Dec. 16, 1825 edition of the "New-England Galaxy" arrived, and indeed, the poem on the front was not the only piece in it written by young Mathew Franklin Whittier, at age 13.
You may think I just fondly claim anything I can even remotely rationalize as being his, but I don't. This one, a parody on bachelors and spinsters, is a theme he will return to many times throughout his career. It bears all the earmarks of Mathew's work, except that at age 13, he hasn't learned to go easy on the feelings of people who really don't deserve to have their feelings hurt. He will improve in this regard over the years; but nonetheless, he will return to this image of the sharp-faced old spinster several times.
There is even a third piece, an essay defending Byron's "Don Juan" against charges of "blasphemy," that might be his, as well. I felt so when I first saw it in the seller's photographs, on Ebay. But these two--the poem and the bachelor/spinsters sketch, I'm certain of. This means that Mathew, at age 13, and living in New York City, nonetheless has a good relationship with Joseph T. Buckingham, editor of the Boston "New-England Galaxy" (a weekly literary paper) and the "Courier" (a daily). He is sending material directly to Buckingham; and in two years' time, he will be living in Boston, and at least for awhile, working for him, as well as continuing to write for his literary paper.
Without further ado, here, in two pages: one, and two, is the 1825 sketch, which is signed with a typical Mathewsian monicker, "Silas Snipe." And for the sake of comparison, here is a similar piece which Mathew--as the junior editor of the New York "Constellation" under editor-in-chief Asa Greene--wrote in January of 1831, or just about six years later. There are others, but that will do just to show I'm not blowing smoke. (The 1825 sketch begins on the bottom-right of the first of these pages.)
That may be it for the discoveries for awhile, except that I've ordered copies of the pieces that Read erroneously thought were imitations of "Joe Strickland" by other authors, since he didn't include those in his article. They were just spin-offs by Mathew, because he would get restless and begin looking for another creative angle.
If there's anything remarkable in any of those five, or six (I can't remember, now), I'll post a note about it. Otherwise, I'm going to go into relaxation mode as much as I can, and get rested for that interview coming up on the evening of the 15th.
You may notice some odd things about the 1825 bachelor sketch. Mathew has been in love with a girl who is jerking him around (at 15, she is two years older, although Mathew is tall and mature for his age, and handsome). His future wife, Abby, is only nine years old--but she already has a crush on him, as I gather, after he had rescued her from a group of taunting school girls. So he is confused between desiring the supposedly available girl who is teasing him; bachelorism; and feelings of love for the girl who is too young. All this gets expressed as though it was a practical joke by the spinsters, I think. Can't be sure, but my familiarity with Mathew's literary twists, and having the same emotions and the same higher mind, suggests that explanation, to me. I have determined that as a girl, Abby was experimenting with adopting two names she liked better than Abby: "Adeline," and "Juliana." So when his love note to "Ada" gets mixed up and given to "Abby," I think it is his own internal confusion he is expressing. You would never guess all that is going on in the mind of a 13-year-old, would you? Then again, remember what sorts of things were going on in your head when you were 13...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Last House on the Block," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "Europe Live"