Yesterday I made the point that I am 100% independent in my work, and that this is necessary if one is to derive at, and convey, the truth of any subject. I suppose my defiant attitude may be off-putting to some people. Try doing exceptional work and being studiously ignored for several years, and see how your attitude fares. Still, I do think that to an extent this facet of my personality has been stimulated by contact with my past-life writings. Interestingly, Abby's journal doesn't have nearly so much of this. I don't deliberately withhold it; nor do I most-times deliberately exaggerate it for my own blog. I try to stand up for truth, as best I understand it; and I try not to slip into standing up for my own ego, in the guise of standing up for truth. Sometimes I get an "A"; sometimes a "B." Whether I ever get a "C-minus" is up to the reader to determine; but then, he or she also has to take projection into account.
Right now, I am waiting for my researcher/friend to make what may be the final foray into a historical library, which she should be doing sometime next week. She will be looking for my past-life submissions, as Mathew Franklin Whittier, to the 1829 "New-England Galaxy," based in Boston. It appears, from a few mentions in Mathew's work in the 1830 New York "Constellation," that he had earlier submitted occasional pieces to that newspaper. Now, the further I go back in Mathew's writing career, the more immature his views. In 1830 (at age 17/18), he is not even pro-abolition (as he will be all his adult life). He is, instead, in favor of "Colonization" of black people, i.e., sending them back to Africa and forming new countries there. This he advocates specifically because of the bloodshed he believes would occur if blacks are stirred up, resulting in violent insurrections and equally violent suppression. Instances have already occurred, with horrific scenes; and the young Mathew feels these must be avoided. He is also prejudiced; though he is aware of his prejudice as such; he champions the underdog, but he makes good-natured fun of just about every ethnic group he sees, including (and especially) Dutch, but also Irish, French, blacks, sailors, and his own group, rural Yankees.
This last is what I'm especially interested in, because I think he originated this genre. Prior to my research, his earliest-known productions were his "Ethan Spike" series, which began in Jan. of 1846; whereas Seba Smith, the man historically credited with this style, first published letters from his character, "Major Jack Downing," and from Downing's relatives, in January of 1830.
But my research into the "Constellation" yielded a humorous sketch by Mathew, using Yankee dialect, published in December 1829; and a faux letter to the editor, written by a Frenchman, in February 1830. Neither of these look like first efforts, and especially, the letter from the Frenchman looks like Mathew's full-blown style. He had to have written still-earlier ones, perhaps in Yankee dialect; and if so, I will be able to take the crown from Smith/Downing.
B.P. Shillaber, the creator of the "Mrs. Partington" character, speaking of Mathew (as Ethan Spike), said that he was a genius who originated the genre, and that he had many imitators. I thought he was just speaking in ignorance (extremely unlikely), when I first discovered this quote, because the earliest of Mathew's works I knew of was "Spike," launched in 1846. In fact, that first one was clearly an open tribute to Seba Smith, because it was titled "My First and Last Visit to Portland," while Smith had written a sketch entitled "My First Visit to Portland." Smith had ceased writing "Major Jack Downing," as I read the historical record, for about 10 years when Mathew launched "Spike" in 1846; but then he took it up, again. So Mathew's "First and Last Visit to Portland" was indeed a tribute, not plagiarism or direct competition.
But in May of 1830--five months after Seba Smith launched "Major Jack Downing"--Mathew began a series of letters from a backwoods Yankee named "Enoch Timbertoes."* They are very clearly a precusor to "Ethan Spike," if you compare the two series. But even if one concedes Mathew's authorship of "Timbertoes," one would naturally assume that it was in imitation of, or inspired by, "Downing." Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't--but if Mathew was writing similar faux letters to the editor prior to Jan. 1830, when "Downing" was launched, then the situation might be reversed. Smith might have launched "Downing" in imitation of, or inspired by, an earlier letter or series of letters written by Mathew. That's what I strongly suspect.
Mathew's attitude toward Smith, in the very early days, was sort of benign neglect. He was aware of him, but didn't mention "Downing." In fact, there is a filler which I believe Mathew wrote for the "Constellation," describing in humorous tones how Smith offended someone, and being attacked by the man in the street, defended himself in a rather unorthodox manner. There is mention of the little newspaper that Smith had launched; but there is no mention of him being the author of "Downing," at the time.
Years later, Mathew would mention "Downing" with appreciation and respect, never bringing up the question of who was first.
Is it important? It is, to me; and I think it is, to history. Mathew was imitated all his life. If you are a regular, you know that I have concluded that it was Mathew and Abby who wrote the original of "A Christmas Carol." I present a great deal of evidence for this theory in my book, and in my opinion, it's compelling. I've been looking for any sign of that work in the media this Christmas season. So far I think I only glimpsed one very camp animated version, or something inspired by it. I think it is fast fading from the public consciousness, such that the younger generation will only recognize what you're talking about if you mention "Scrooge"--and then, all they know is that it had something to do about a mega-grouch. It has been diluted, now, to that extent. But it was first diluted by Dickens, when he reworked it for hasty publication in 1843.
While I am waiting for this (presumably) last round of research, I have been cleaning out and organizing my computer folders, in a succession of hard drives going back years. It is sort of like the situations that the "American Pickers" on History Channel encounter, when they are out "picking" and visit a hoarder. I am fairly organized with my physical belongings, but I have a habit of dumping things I don't want to make a decision about into a "temp" folder on my computer. When that gets too full, I make another one, "temp2." And "temp2" gets huge. I have temp2 folders going back three or four computer hard drives, now (I pulled the hard drives when I threw away the computers). So this little project will keep me busy. It's a good thing, because after eight years of intense, daily research on this book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," I don't know what to do with myself when I'm caught up.
Today, I found two very useful files. The first one is the earliest version of my book, which I published in 2012. I had lost track of it, and the importance is this: if, in the years that followed, I substantiated any past-life memory impression via the deep historical record, I need to be able to show that I had documented that hunch before I found the historical evidence for it. Many of those impressions were set forth in italics in the text of my book. So because that file is date-stamped, if there is every any question as to when I first had the memory, I can point to it in that earliest version.
The second discovery was equally significant--the notes I took from my very first encounter with the historical record for Mathew Franklin Whittier. I had ordered a copy of the "Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier," by Samuel Pickard (Mathew's son-in-law), through interlibrary loan; and I took hand-written notes as I perused it at the library. I then typed up those notes very shortly afterwards (how long exactly I'm not sure, but maybe the next day), and that is the file I just discovered this morning.
This shows what information I was exposed to at this early period. So if, for example, I had a memory of Mathew working with horses in year 2013, I cannot prove that it was genuine past-life memory, because I have a record of having read this in "Life and Letters" on May 23, 2005 (or shortly before). I went into this research project with the determination to be as rigorous as possible. I always try my best to shoot down my own theories and conclusions (something the Ancient Alien theorists don't do). So anything I could have seen in that book is off-limits for past-life memory claims.
But this book was primarily about Mathew's brother, John Greenleaf Whittier. Only in the introduction, where John's childhood is described, does Mathew enter in by association to any significant degree (as in "the boys did this" or "the boys did that"). But I remembered a great many things--i.e., all the way from emotional impressions, to detailed cognitive memories--which are not touched on by Pickard.
For example, I read in that book--and I have it in my notes--that the family's two oxen were like pets to the boys, and one of them even leapt over one of the boys, when it was running down a hill, to avoid killing him when the ox wouldn't have been able to stop. I had the immediate, strong emotional feeling that the oxen were sold to someone who butchered them, or who might butcher them, which upset Mathew deeply. Obviously, I did know that the oxen were as pets to the boys. But keep in mind that this was my first contact with any historical information about this person--I had no idea of his character at this time, whether he was sensitive, or insensitive, whether he was concerned about animal cruelty, or oblivious to the issue. I am sensitive about it--so at this point I could, admittedly, have been projecting my own personality onto his. But over the past several years, I would find that his personality does, in fact, dovetail very closely with mine. Note also, that even though the oxen were like pets to the Whittier brothers in their childhood, this didn't stop John Greenleaf from selling them to the highest bidder. So my suspicion is that they were like pets to Mathew, more than to his brother. Apparently, much that was Mathew's in the Whittier legacy was simply grafted onto John Greenleaf for posterity, since JGW was the famous one for whom people were keen about anecdotes. Mathew does not even appear in John Greenleaf's famous poem about his childhood, "Snow-Bound," except, again, by way of association, as in "we did this."
I never thought I would be able to substantiate this impression about the oxen with the historical record. (Unfortunately, I didn't set that impression down in my 2005 notes, only the facts as presented in the book.) But recently, I did prove that it was entirely plausible. There is a record, in the local newspaper, of the auction that was held some months, as I recall, after Mathew's father's death in mid-1830. The oxen were included in the auction; and moreover, Mathew was in New York City and likely would not have been able to attend. These two facts, combined, tell us that the oxen were sold to the highest bidder, not excluding someone who might choose to butcher them; and that Mathew would not have been present to stop it. I also have an instance where Mathew bought a horse and sleigh, to travel to Canada with; when he returned to Maine, he sold them to a personal friend in Bucksport, with the stipulation that they would be used for a "fancy rig" or something of that sort (I'd have to look it up); i.e., he made sure to get a good home for it. Now we have three triangulated facts, which make it extremely likely that my past-life emotional impression, in May 2005, was probably correct. I also have numerous examples of Mathew's sensitivity and concern for the treatment of horses, and so-on. In short, I have everything necessary to prove this memory, except the clinching smoking-gun of a direct statement in a letter or diary.
Therefore I cannot say that it is 100% proven, but I can say it is extremely plausible that I was correct. Now it remains for the reader to decide whether it could have been imagination and lucky guesswork. That's with one example. But suppose I give you over 100 examples, with very few if any errors? And suppose that three or four of them are, in fact, clinched, which indicates that this is, in fact, a genuine past-life match?
That's what my book is like. If you aren't considering buying it and immersing yourself in it, you are missing a treat. If, on the other hand, the prospect has you feeling distinctly queasy in the stomach, that's okay. Maybe you will be ready for it in 20 or 30 years.
Meanwhile, at some point, all my work will be done. Then it will simply be a matter of passing it on to the next generation, or the next, and waiting until it's time for me to check out.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Historians appear to disagree as to the author of this series; but so far as I know, none of them have suspected Mathew Franklin Whittier, the author of the "Ethan Spike" series, despite numerous direct parallels in style.
Music opening this page: "Weightless" by Billy Goodrum,
from the album, "Weightless"