Ah, the fun you are missing by not buying my book! Yesterday, I shared a story which I am quite certain was written by myself, Mathew Franklin Whittier, in the 19th century at age 16. I opined (partly from intuition, partly from familiarity with his works) that this one was not veiled autobiography (as so many of his pieces were), but rather, that he must have taken it from a news story. Today, I confirmed that hunch, because in the next edition is a writer signing "Thomas Thwacker" (Mathew typically used cartoonish names with a repeated initial). Thomas says that some people think that "N.N.K." got the idea from a current news story--and he actually cites it:
Some persons who have read the very well told story of Martin Van Deinster, in the last Galaxy, have thought that ----- Willbor, of Little Compton, who was last week fined in a Rhode Island Court fifty dollars, and sentenced to a few year's imprisonment, for discharging a gun into the chamber of the young woman he was in love with, with the intent to kill her, might be, under another name, the same Andrew Fearencroft who is mentioned in the story aforesaid.
Thomas then proceeds to disavow the speculation, by giving his own personal account of said Andrew Fearencroft. All of this is also Mathew's fiction. But the purpose of the whole thing was probably to protest the absurdly light sentence received by Willbor.
This morning, I came upon a piece from this same edition, in the 1829 "Galaxy," signed "Peter," which is almost certainly Mathew's work. Mathew, as a Quaker, had an ongoing beef about the "militia system," i.e., the requirement that young men show up for military "musters." He was anti-war, and beyond that, he thought the whole thing absurd, and ridiculed it at every opportunity. (During the 1852 election, one of his characters, "Ensign Stebbings," would become as famous as the actual candidates. This work is claimed by historians for Benjamin Drew, but I have looked into the matter very deeply, and have disproved his authorship.)
Now, it so happens that throughout his career, Mathew will sign as "P." or "P.P.," and will use pseudonyms like "Peter Pendergrass," "Peter Popkins," and on one occasion, "Peter Pumple." Many crucial pieces which I would be inclined to attribute to Mathew, signed with these initials, hang in the balance. This may be the first instance of Mathew adopting this signature, "Peter." But why?
As I was adding this information to my book (you can see how it has gotten so large), I got the intuitive impression that Abby--his future wife, now only 12 years old--had teased him with a nursery rhyme. But I couldn't think of one. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" didn't seem right, nor did the "Pied Piper." After a few minutes it suddenly came to me--"Peter, Peter pumpkin eater."
Mathew became very fond of the colloquialism, "some pumpkins!" He used it to refer to both Abby, in veiled tribute, and to himself (also veiled). It was indeed in general usage at that time, but no-one used it so frequently as he did.
I decided to revisit that rhyme:
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.
Abby must have teased Mathew with the name, "Peter," as in "Peter, Peter pumpkin eater." Why? Because he must have loved pumpkin pies--but there was a deeper significance. In March of 2010, psychic medium Candace Zellner, working out of the Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore in Atlanta, put me directly in touch with Abby, who had remained in the astral world after passing in March of 1841. The reading, for which I took real-time notes, contains a great number of "hits," so I feel confident that it was genuine. One of the things she said (from my notes) was:
The books we were studying were based on reincarnation. Black market books. Had to hide them. Abby putting book under her dress if someone approached. Like-mindedness between us, in complete agreement. Abby talks poetically. Her education came after her schooling, largely from Matthew, reading books together. We were ahead of our time.
Matthew reading black market book to her. Black market books hard to get. Metaphysical. Drew them together. Both knew they would come together again. Both understood reincarnation.
While another psychic, who I used in December of that same year, and who is also clearly genuine, said (again, from my notes):
All people equal, get into some scraps. Educated. Willing to get dirty, do gardening, shoe the horse. Most women of her class not allowed to do it.
How do these statements stack up against the actual historical record, as I have been able to piece the picture together after eight years of research? Abby was the daughter of a French marquis who had fled a slave uprising in his native Guadeloupe, with his father, who had owned a plantation. She was undoubtedly given a private education via tutoring, but had not attended school. Her father traded horses. Abby apparently begin tutoring Mathew as early as 1829, when she was 12, and he was 16. Along with history and the classics, she attempted to teach him both the occult, and high mysticism, including Hermeticism. Indeed, they were very much of like mind about most things, but he was highly skeptical about the occult (i.e., anything which smacked of superstition) for several years. Finally, he accepted most of what she had taught him. In the early years, he twice used the pseudonym "Trismegistus" as mockery; but by 1851 he is using it in earnest, after he had accepted Spiritualism.
At age 16, he was still getting over a girl whom historians claim as the girlfriend of Mathew's older brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, named Evelina Bray. But the instant I saw Evelina's portrait, I knew I had been infatuated with her. Turns out Mathew, two years younger, was very serious about her; but she was a "coquette," who flitted from one to another. Mathew, being tall for his age, was very popular in his local Haverhill, Mass. When Evelina, whose home was in Marblehead, attended Haverhill Academy, and would walk from her boarding house to school with John Greenleaf, historians have assumed that they had a relationship. And perhaps there was something to it, inasmuch as Evelina appears to have toyed with a succession of guys. But she toyed with Mathew and released him, so that in 1829, he was still struggling with it. He adopted "bachelorism" as a response, and swore off relationships (this, from a number of his sketches).
Mathew was denied the opportunity to attend Haverhill Academy, as his brother had done. He may have gone to sea for awhile, at age 14--but in any case, at 15 he begins publishing stories in the Boston "New-England Galaxy," and age 16 finds him probably living in Boston, working for the sister-newspaper, the "Courier" (a daily), and publishing his more creative work in the "Galaxy." But he was also being tutored by Abby. Perhaps they began their lessons before he moved to Boston, and continued them by correspondence, or during visits.
But she was only 12 years old; he was a dedicated bachelor on the rebound; and he didn't yet see her in a romantic light. But she had already fallen in love with him. So in this nursery rhyme, she is saying that he doesn't love her now--but once she has educated him, he will.
I'm pretty sure I've put this together correctly. If so, it is something you will not read in the official Whittier legacy. There, Mathew has been almost entirely marginalized, for reasons I won't get into, here.
Oh, I mentioned that I have found a young photographic portrait of Mathew. I'll get back to that, soon. I didn't dare ask permission of the Whittier Home Association to use the painted portrait, from about the same age, in my book. But now I have one of my own. I would gladly share it (i.e., a digital copy), with the Association, if only they would give me the time of day. I have even discovered a retold anecdote of Uncle Moses, which would presumably be precious to them, since no such anecdotes appear to exist in the Whittier legacy, except perhaps the way he died (by a falling tree). But I do understand that I present a somewhat less favorable impression of their hero; and in any case, reincarnation, in this day and age, is so easy to ridicule and dismiss.
There is a great deal more about the Whittier legacy I could set straight. For example, there is a story of John Greenleaf Whittier--brought to us courtesy of one of Mathew's unnamed friends--that JGW met with British novelist William Makepeace Thackery. It is dismissed as apocryphal, because in the story, Whittier drinks wine moderately--which he never did--and it takes place in London, while Whittier never travelled overseas.
But the story is actually about Mathew having dined with Thackeray. Mathew, at this time, embraced "Temperance," but he defined it as "moderation." He drank wine and beer moderately (as I do, today), eschewing hard liquor. He was in London in 1851, writing as "Quails" for the Boston "Weekly Museum" (a pseudonym which historians implausibly attribute to an entertainer named Ossian Dodge). Although "Quails" doesn't mention this meeting in his travelogue, he does mention meeting with Victor Hugo at his home in Paris. Elsewhere, under yet another pseudonym, .Mathew describes meeting with elderly British poet Samuel Rogers. So it all fits together. Nobody contributing to the Whittier legacy even remotely considered the possibility that the story was about Mathew, rather than John Greenleaf. That's because Mathew had been so marginalized (and had kept himself so well hidden), that he was not deemed worthy of meeting with Thackeray as a colleague. But actually, they wrote in much the same genre and style, and of course, they would have been colleagues.
That's enough for today. I'm telling you, you're missing out. I can draw from my store in this book, and never exhaust it. This is what my book is like, cover-to-cover. You probably imagine it is dull. But it is packed with fascinating cross-connections like this, and a great many discoveries. The only reason anyone might find it dull, is if their subconscious mind was fighting, kicking and screaming, against the conclusion that reincarnation is a real phenomenon. Anything you fight against like this will be dull, to you. People who didn't believe in reincarnation, and were adamant that they would never believe in it, subjectively experienced my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America," as a "bunch of talking heads." I challenge anyone to create a documentary, on a working budget of $1,300 (yes, that's the correct number of zeros), that doesn't have some technical drawbacks. But it, too, is chock-full of fascinating information.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page, "Evinrude Fever" by Eric Johnson,
from the album, "Europe Live"