I spent about 45 minutes writing the bulk of this entry, without having saved it (apparently), and my laptop just crashed and rebooted itself for no reason. It has been doing that every once in a blue moon; I have no idea why. But I am starting over. As a result, I will be somewhat more succinct.
Sometimes I address myself to people who don't believe me, or who are new to the ideas I present. For them, I try to provide logical evidence. That takes time, and it slows me down. I have to provide background for things I have already proven, to a reasonable degree of certainty, in my book--and that, to people who can't be bothered to purchase and study it. It hardly seems fair. But if I just assert things, without providing the background, it seems as though I am simply delusional. At least, if I provide the evidence, the reader has to go into denial. I suppose that's accomplishing something. Because they know when they do it. At least, I believe people know, for a half-a-half-a-second, when they go into denial. After that, of course, they are in denial. There is a debate as to whether people know they are in denial at that point, or by definition, they don't know. I think of it like a "macro," a tiny program that fires off. Until that program does fire, the person knows they are going in denial. After it starts running, perhaps they know subconsciously or unconsciously.
In any case, I know my research is good, and my arguments are sound. So I write accordingly. Why should I adopt someone else's denial, for my writing?
In my book, I have established the following. Myself, in the 19th century, Mathew Franklin Whittier, was working anonymously as the junior editor/acting editor of a New York newspaper called the "Constellation," from late 1829 until (I think it was, from memory) about September of 1832, or maybe it was end of 1832. He is very clever, a veritable font of creativity, and has a wicked sense of humor. Being raised a Quaker, he is anti-war and anti-military, but he doesn't outwardly practice Quaker dress or Quaker speech. He has a friend back in his hometown of Haverhill, Mass., a French boy named Francis, and is also friends with Francis' younger sister, Abby, who has been tutoring him. Abby has had an upper-class private education, and is sharing it with Mathew, who has had no opportunity to attend college as he would have wished. Now at age 14, she has a terrible crush on him. He knows, and he likes her, but due to her age he humors her somewhat. Having been disappointed in love some years earlier, he is a sworn bachelor; so he uses this as his excuse to relieve Abby's jealousy. Secretly, he likes her very much, and is waiting for her to grow up. He often includes her in his humorous sketches; where you see the name "Juliana," for example, in his writings, this is a playful reference to Abby.* (It would seem that she tried several names on for size, as a teenager, that she felt were more mellifluous, and "Juliana" was one of them. "Adeline" or "Adela" was another, which appears less often.)
Now, that's a brief recap of what I'd written before, except to say that Mathew pioneered a New England genre of humor, in which ordinary folks write to the editor of a big-city newspaper. His first efforts along this line, as near as I can tell, were in imitation of British humorist Theodore Hook, who wrote letters from a character named "Mrs. Ramsbottom." What Mathew did, when he first experimented with this style, was to age-progress Mrs. Ramsbottom's daughter, and have her travel to Boston. But Mathew's dialect was much thicker than Hook's ever was, and it was chock full of malapropisms--essentially, it's a parody of Hook's work, or one might say that Mathew is taking Hook's idea, and running with it.
(Save, damn you computer ghost-in-the-machine.)
The earliest of these faux letters to the editor--two of them in a series--appear in the 1829 Boston-based "New-England Galaxy," which Mathew was contributing to before he moved to New York City. This means that Mathew's work in this genre precedes the man whom historians credit with starting it. Seba Smith launched his "Major Jack Downing" letters the following year, in 1830. Whether or not he was influenced by Mathew's work is unknown.
I have more evidence bearing on this, but, to the example I wanted to introduce. Yesterday, I spoke of discovering Abby's very last poem, written, as it appears, only days before her death. Here, Abby is a girl of 14-going-on-15, while Mathew is 18-going-on-19. Abby has been trying to teach Mathew various types of mystical and occult concepts; Mathew, the skeptic, pokes fun at them. Whether Abby believed in phrenology is questionable to me (though Mathew seems to be indicating she did), but in any case, here, he is lampooning this science, in the voice of one Henrietta Huckabuck. Abby wrote brilliant mystical poetry, and played the piano masterfully. So here, Mathew has sort of split her up between two of Mrs. Huckabee's daughters, "Jooliana" and "Araminty."
That's enough of an introduction for the second round. This is Mathew Franklin Whittier, myself in the 19th century, younger brother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier, pioneering this local dialect style in 1831.
The New York "Constellation"
April 16, 1831
MRS. HUCKABUCK'S LETTER
Respeckted Mister Editurs,
I'm a farm beleever in the doctorin of freenullogy. I've bin reedin bucks and heerin leckters on that subjeckt, and I say it's not to be introvarted. Fokes may laff as mutch as they pleeze--but that's neyther hear nor thare--I say the doctorin of freenullogy is not to be introvarted. O've been a studdin my own head before the lookin glass and I'm convinced thare's somethin in it. The noggins on my cranickum, thof I say it myself, are a stonishinly developed. And whare thare's so mutch fier you know, thare must be a leetle smoake, as the old maximum says. It cant be awl fol-de-rol. Now as to the noggins of my own head, I havnt kwite so good a noppertunity to xamin um as another parson. But I'm pecooliary struck with my noggins of intellecktyuallity, whitch you know bein on the frunt parte of the forred, ar most cognizabl to the vishual site. For instants thare is the noggin of low-callity and the noggin of kilculation--thay're amazinly developed. Did you ever studdy freenullogy? if so you know the noggin of low-callity is sitiated jest above the stump of the nose (I'm sure it's stump or root or some sich thing) but that's neyther hear nor thare as I said before. Then thare's the noggin of indiwidowallity jest above the ant-eerior part of the cranickum and a leetle to the xterior side of the ridiculous portion of the templeton bone. It's so wunderfully developed that I dont marvell in the leest at my bein a widow--blessed bee the mark!
But awl this is nothin as tware to the head of my sun Thumas. O he's got sich noggins as wood farely amaze one. Do you beleeve it? why his head is awl over noggins. They're so jammed together by the hand of natur that thare aint rum enuff to put down the pint of a pin atwixt um. But the noggins of the xpensatives on the hind part of the cranickum are tremendjeously devellopd--especially the filo-genesis and noomerous other noggins whitch ar two tejus to mention. And then his cent-imental noggins ar wunderfull--wunderfull! Why thare's the noggin of combattitiveness, I neer seed any thing so strikinly developed. And it aint developed for nothin I can tell ye--for atwixt you and mee he beets about him wright and left, hand-over fist. Now what do you think I'd better put him to? Shall I make a bockser on him or a soger? or do you think his noggins are better kilculated for a bootcher or a dockter? Hear you see the amazin advantige of freenullogy--it shoes you by the bumps and noggins on your childun's heads, what they ar best kilkulated for.
My dotter Joolianna (by the buy Mr. Editurs are you married?) I say my dotter Joolinanna--she's jest seventeen the fust of april--has a head tremendjeously nogginized. And atwixt you and mee and the dore she's a gurl of xtrordinary parts. O if you was ownly to hear her talk once! she's every inch on her a freenulloger. If you was ownly to here her dispoote on the subjeckt! She can run down the aunty-freeullogers in the trinklin of a powder post as lord Dubious says. But it aint for me to bost of my childun's talons and kwalifications by no means--I despise the omission on't. But I must say of my dotter Joolianna, thare aint the together to her in the hole sitty of Nu-Yorck. She's got the noggin of I-D-ability a stonishingly developed. And thare's somethin in't you may relye upon't, for she writes poatry like an aingill--like a very pea-gassus. I'll send you some ont in my neckst if so bee you're indisposed to incurridge the Moosys. Besides all this Joolianna has the noggin of impossibility and the noggin of irreverence wunderfully developd. Dont you think I'd better cultivate her xpensities?
My seckund dotter, Araminty, two is pretty considerably developed in the noggin of intellecktyuality. Her noggin of moosic is uncummonly pruminent--and I think she'll make a wunderfull deficiency in that siance. At awl evence I shall bye her a P-Annah-forty on the strenth of her moosikal noggin. Dont you think she'll be likely to make a grate deel of ingress in that bootiful art? It's troo she hant got no voyce and dont know Yankydoolittle from any other [saam?] techune. But what of that? she's got the moosical noggin and tharefore must suckseed.
As for my sun Peetur--that is my youngest sun--I cant tell yet xactly what his noggins are a goin to bee. He's too young to have em properly developd--thof as far as I can form an opinyun, his hole head appears to bee one entyre noggin--and for one of his aige I must say it is tremendjeously developed. He cant say his A, B, C's yit (bein ownly nine yer owld) but I think from awl I can gather from his cranikum, that he'll turn out a surprizing scollard--and therefore I shall send him to collidge and make a luyer on him. Don't you think he'll suckseed at the bar?
To conclude the windin up of my subjeckt, Mr. Editurs, I don't for my part see how it's an impossible thing for any parson of cummon reprehension to dout the trooth of freenullogy. as I said afore I'm a farm beleever in the doctorin, and soe I remain, yours unutterably,
Up Brodeway, Nu-Yorck,
Aprill 15, 1831.
P.S. Joolianna sends her cumpliments, and wishes to know if you'll have rum in your next paper for her poatry. Dont you think Shaikespeare must a had the noggin of I-D-allity tremendjeously developd? H.H.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Variations of the name appear multiple times in Mathew's humorous works across his various pseudonyms, including well after her death, when the story content is clearly based, however loosely, on reminiscences of their relationship.
Proofreading the next letter in the series from "Mrs. Huckabee," I note one of Mathew's naughty malapropisms. Writing as "Ethan Spike," which series began in Jan. 1846, he would often try to mischievously sneak in off-color language. I just caught one in the introductory paragraph, here in 1831:
Deer Mister Editur,—When I first diskivered that you had printed my letter on freenullogy, I was so much wexed, that I declared pisityvely I never would rite you another synable as long as I drawed the breath of life. The girls too said how you had ought to be ashamed of yourself to take sich liberties with your frinds and currespondents; and that their noggins would now become the talk of the hole country. In short, you nevver seed a madder family than we were. But when we seed my letter printed in all the nuspapers from Nu-Orleens to Pismirequoddy; and how much my sentiments on freenullogy were admired, and how famous my dotters were getting to be on account of their noggins, we changed our tune, and was very glad you had been so considderte as to print the letter—nott that I would have you take any hint to publish this, whitch I think proper to inform you is nott on freenullogy, but eddication.
"Pismirequoddy" should be Passamaquoddy. There's no question that he has morphed this into "piss mire quoddy." This is simply another strong indicator that it is, indeed, Mathew Franklin Whittier's work. Numerous instances of this kind of off-color malapropism can be found in "Ethan Spike," including the following wrap-up to a faux lyceum report:
James was so used up by this peroaration that he had to be cared home on a cheer. This mornin, haowever, he was as well as could be expected, an ef convalessence don’t set in, he’ll be about in a day or two. We’ve got three lecters engaged. The fust by Daniel Pratt of Boston—the “Great American Traveller” an editor of the “Gridiron.”
Subjeck—Will Salt Peter Burn?
The next will be by the editor of “The Genius.”
The third will be gin by me.
Daniel Pratt was a crazy lecturer, and people couldn't figure out if he was really crazy, or just acted the part. Baby shows were just what the name sounds like--exhibitions of babies, including babies with genetic abnormalities. Elsewhere, Mathew describes one sponsored by P.T. Barnum, indicating that the babies were crying as people were gawking at them. "Orfis Seekin" is a reference to obtaining government positions through influence; it is an obvious pun on "orifice seeking," perhaps the most off-color reference that Mathew was ever able to sneak past the editor. This piece, a lampoon of an astrology lecture, was reprinted across the country, including in William Lloyd Garrison's paper, "The Liberator," but this closing was omitted from all the reprintings I have seen.
You can see why Mathew is treated as the black sheep of the Whittier family, when the others are portrayed as pious Quakers. Once again, Mathew was somewhat similar to Lee Camp. He was attacking societal evils with satire; and if he had to throw in a little spice, by way of some daring naughtiness, he was quite happy to do it, in a mischievous spirit. But only in this sense was he any sort of a "black sheep." In my opinion, he had more personal integrity than the others, inasmuch as he refused to put on a show of piety. If he was a black sheep in the real sense, you can be sure that Garrison would not have reprinted his "Ethan Spike" letters.
As I continue proofreading this second "Mrs. Huckabee" letter, I find a very small confirmation of past-life memory. Don't take this out of context. It's just a tiny piece of the evidence. Basically, this kind of evidence is bound to be there, if you are right. For example, suppose you are blindfolded, and instructed to try to find your house, and then enter it by the front door. If you successfully find your house, once inside, you will start feeling your familiar belongings. If you stumble into the wrong house, you won't. So if I described this experiment, and I told you, "He felt his Liberty Bell paperweight on the desk," you might not think this was very strong evidence. Other people could have a Liberty Bell paperweight. But I'm not telling you all the things he found. If I told you he found his paperweight, and his coffee mug, and his antique telephone, and his boots, etc. etc., all of this, together, would be stronger proof. But what if you refused to read the longer list, because you just thought the whole thing was so absurd on the face of it, that he could ever find his house, blindfolded?
Sorry, I digress. So, I had felt--perhaps not from my own past-life memory, but from Abby, directly (so we are now into evidence for spirit communication, as much, or more, than past-life memory), that when she was a girl, she was threatened with being sent away to boarding school. Being an eccentric free spirit, as well as being small for her age, she was terrified of the prospect. Mathew would have known this, and therefore he was lampooning those schools. Note that one of the subjects the girls will be studying is "hostility":
Being instigated soally by my nolledge of their noggins, pretty soon after I rote to you I sent my two dotters, Jooliana and Araminty, to a famous boording skoole to finish their eddication. Joolianna I resolved should cultiwate her taste for potery, and Araminty follow the bent of her moosical noggins. But I dont confine them alltogether to these--I desire to have them parfected in all manner of perlite accomplishments--sich as drawing, astrumomy, jollogy, kimnistry, fleabottomy, hostility, embroadery, dansing, jograpy, filosofy, monogamy, rettorick, billetters, lugic, gastrunomy, gentility, imposition, buttany, trigenumetry, whimsicality, and the use of the globes. All these warious branchs of syance I intend they shall acquire in one year. Our minister tells me that there is studdys enuff in that are list for any good scollard to get in a hole life time. But, la, sir! feemales are a grate deal more quickerer in their reprehensions than mails, and will run over an amazing deal [of] nolledge in a wery short time. Why, sir, would you beleeve it, I never went to skoole putt it all together, more than two years, for all I write with sich phasillity. But then I was oncummon smart, as every boddy said.
A little more proofreading, and I ran across the following. This is included in a series of pithy philosophical commentaries from "Israel Icicle." The writer is assumed, by at least one historian, to be the editor of the "Constellation," Asa Greene--but this, too, is Mathew Franklin Whittier (the installment quoted from below is counter-signed "D.," and we have already established that Mathew was using this signature). Years later, he will imply that he is the reincarnation of a "high Jewish priest"*; he certainly looks the part. However, in his current lifetime he has been raised Quaker, and it is, perhaps, Quaker sensibilities we see most clearly expressed in this series. Here, Mathew is reflecting Abby's fear and distaste for the prospect of being sent to a boarding school. Her father uses, as his excuse, her misbehavior, which is to say, her eccentricities. She apparently took long walks in nature, wrote poetry, and swam in the nearby Merrimack River, keeping much to herself. Being a child prodigy, she didn't fit in and was teased mercilessly by the village girls, for her oddness and also for being French and Catholic. But really-speaking, her father wanted to marry her to someone of his own class, and in order for that to happen, he knew he would have to "tame" her. Abby was terrified of the prospect, because she knew she would never allow herself to be tamed, but she would be crushed as the teachers attempted it; and she would be teased by the classmates, where she couldn't get away from them as she could in their hometown. Mathew, supporting her, writes:
Boarding Schools. Young ladies should never be sent to a boarding-school. It is bad enough for boys to be congregated together by hundreds, under one roof, but to young ladies the consequences are most pernicious. There, they must learn to put off that delicacy of feeling, that maiden modesty, which, like the sensitive plant, shrink[s] from contact with others. They assume a boldness of manners, a forwardness of address, at once displeasing and unnatural. There, the worst passions of the human breast are roused into action: envy, vanity, jealousy and hatred. The amiable qualities of the heart are neglected and forgotten. There domestic, fire-side enjoyments lose their attractions; and pomp, show, affectation, coquetry and a love of excitement take their place.
*Note the word "reappearance" in the passage below. Here, in 1857, he is describing his character, Ethan Spike, for which he has recently been exposed as the author, under the name of a new character, "Old Casual." Mathew never used anything frivolously--every apparent slip of the tongue had meaning. The description is accurate for Mathew, not the character "Ethan Spike"; and the reference to the "church to Mecanic Haul" means that he attended--and on occasion, gave--sermons at the meetings of the Portland Spiritualist Society, held at the Mechanics Hall. We know this from a personal letter written by Mathew to his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier.
When i tould em what a grave kinder of a Ministerial looking man Ethan Spike was; haow he looked like a reglar Jewish hy preast, a handlin shoebread--that he was tall and kind of commandin in his reappearance; that he woar a long black cloak; that he was a member of the church to Mecanic Haul--one kind of a sailer feller swore rite aout, and said he'd be dod rotted if he didn't believe i was stuffin on um--dogged if he did,--a chap like that never could wright them ar--dogged if he could!
Music opening this page: "She's So High," by Tal Bachman