I was wrong yesterday--but happily wrong--when I indicated that the essay on the front page of the Dec. 16, 1825 edition of the "New-England Galaxy" might not be young Mathew Franklin Whittier's work. I keyed it in this morning, and noticed something in the author's introductory comments to the editor, that I'd missed, before:
Mr. Buckingham,--Sir, The following is an attempt, not to persuade any one, but perhaps to induce a reader of your Galaxy, now and then, by recurring to facts to make out his own persuasion. If you should think that the zeal and good intent compensate for the various defects of style and expression, you will oblige me by inserting this copy. If, however, you should condemn it, my feelings will be but slightly injured, and no great wrong will be done the rising generation. Yours with respect,
That means this is a young author. The essay is a defense of Lord Byron against charges that his work is blasmphemous. Burns and Byron were the two poets who are known to have had the greatest influence on John Greenleaf Whittier. These two triangulating facts, plus the style and several references, identify it, in my opinion, as Mathew's work. This, despite the fact that the signature includes what I take to be the Greek feminine, for poetess. I think Mathew had only begun his tutoring sessions with Abby at this time, and his Greek wasn't up to snuff.
The essay, if taken to be Mathew's work at age 13, stands as a very early representative of what I have called his "debate style." It also sets forth his personal philosophy of morally-based satire. And if I didn't point this out, before, these discoveries yield the astounding information that Mathew Franklin Whittier published before his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, even though the latter was five years older. It was Mathew who had his heart set on a literary career, two years before his brother's poem was secretly submitted to William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper by their older sister, Mary. At least, if we take the Whittier legacy at face value.
I do know that when Mathew was junior editor of the New York "Constellation," in the early 1830's, he would print his brother's poems there, presumably by way of giving him more exposure. Otherwise, they were primarily appearing in the local Haverhill paper, as near as I can tell. I've mentioned before, that one of these early efforts that Mathew apparently caused to be published in the "Constellation," was called "The Raven."
Here is the front page of the "New-England Galaxy" of Dec. 16, 1825.
Of course, this means that Mathew was probably submitting to the New York "National Advocate," the New York "Enquirer," and the "New-England Galaxy" from mid-1825 onward (switching to the "Enquirer" when the editor, Mordecai Noah, established it). That means more research, if and when I can afford it. I could very much use donations at this point. I would try to crowd-source, but there is no "crowd" to "source" from. If my work were popular, and my books were selling even a reasonable amount, I would try to build something like that. The problem is, I disagree with the ethics of having an inner circle who get there solely by "virtue" (if we can call it that) of having donated more. I refuse to do it. Therefore, because the very structure of these crowd-sourcing websites is unethical, I can't use them, even if more people were interested. I simply have a link to a page near the bottom of my home page, with a gif of an opening rose, telling people how they could help. Presumably, nobody ever clicks on it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Gem," by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "Up Close"