I've finished keying in all the newly-discovered pieces written by MFW, or suspected of being by written by him, in the 1852-54 Portland (Maine) "Transcript." Some of these threw new light on Mathew's relationships after his first wife, Abby, died of consumption, in 1841--including his attempts to continue their own relationship, with her in heaven. Some of you (or all of you) may know that I'm doing that, today. I had no idea, when I remarried Abby in March of 2010--almost nine years ago--that Mathew, himself, had done this for several years. I learned it piecemeal, as I encountered relevant poems, and found additional clues here and there. Obviously, all of this material was written under pseudonyms, or with no signature, at all. One sees it obliquely referred to in his travelogues, in his involvement with Swedenborgianism and Spiritualism, in the artwork he praises and the artists he visits, and so-on.
It's all contained in my books, but it is nowhere presented as a unit, because my books are chiefly the chronological account of my research. Therefore, whereas I have been attempting, in the last several entries, to give any interested academics the evidence, in black and white, that Mathew could very well have been the real author of several 19th-century literary classics, plagiarized by the famous authors he had naively shared his unpublished work with, in this entry I want to give an overview of what I call Mathew's "cross-dimensional" relationship with Abby; or, more precisely, I want to touch on the evidence for same. The acadamics, if there be any, may take a break on this one. I just want to get this down, because I feel it needs to be done.
Really-speaking, I resisted the idea altogether for a day or so. I'm still not going to get extremely personal, here; and I think I'll omit what I believe were Abby's motivations and behavior during this period. That's guesswork, anyway. This is about the evidence I found that Mathew was attempting this kind of continuing relationship. I will only have time and space to refer to these pieces--one can use the search function to find the references in my book, and its sequel, if one wants the original document.
When I began researching Mathew Franklin Whittier, none of his poems were known except for a supposedly frivolous one he wrote as a boy, when his mother challenged him to write poems on a serious topic "like his brother," i.e. John Greenleaf Whittier. There was also a mention by unofficial Whittier biographer, William Sloan Kennedy, that Mathew was a "versifier," and one or two other references. I learned that he had been a member of the "Pnyxian Club," a prestigious debate club in Portland, in the early 1840's; and that he had read an original poem to that group for one of their anniversary ceremonies. That peaked my interest, because you don't get asked to read a poem before an assembly like that, unless you are more than a mere "versifier." Later, I found that his own short-lived newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor," was said to have contained a poem he wrote, probably inspired by Abby, about a slave girl in her family's native Guadeloupe (I now know that she also wrote poetry, and probably was the author of this one, though I have never seen it).
So there were hints, early on, that he had written poetry; I just couldn't find any of his poems.
I don't recall which was the first that I found, but I think it was when I discovered his work published in the "Transcript" of the early 1840's, written under the pseudonym, "Poins." This signature can be proven absolutely for his pen, because his brother mentions one of them (a travelogue) in personal correspondence. But "Poins" also wrote poetry--and suddenly, I had several examples. This was just the beginning. When I later identified the "star," or single asterisk, as Mathew's pseudonym in that newspaper (and then, in a number of others), I found quite a few poems written under that signature, as well. From this point on, as I followed the trail of clues, and became conversant with his preferred style, I found more and more of them. I was, as you can imagine, very careful and rigorous about claiming any poem for Mathew's pen. When I wasn't sure about it, I said so, and left it in the "possible" category.
I'm not sure how many poems attributable to Mathew I ended up with--I'm thinking, off the top of my head, 30 or so at last count. But many of them have to do with this cross-dimensional relationship. Mostly, these are references to what the paranormal researchers and advocates call "visitation dreams"--a well-documented, and not uncommon, phenomenon. Some, however, indicate his attempt to continue their marriage across the Great Divide--precisely as I have learned to do in this lifetime. So while it is difficult (though perhaps not impossible) for me to prove that this relationship is real, I can certainly prove, in a scholarly fashion, that Mathew Franklin Whittier attempted the same thing, with the same woman, in spirit.
I say "can" prove; I probably should say "could" prove, inasmuch as I won't be able to give all the examples, this morning. It's all in my head, but looking them up, and making sure I have them all, would take all day, and I have to do laundry and work a shift this evening. So I'm going to hit as many as I can call to mind.
Mathew wrote several tribute poems to Abby, most of which cover either their courtship (as in "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," published by Elizabeth Barrett in 1844), her passing and continued life in heaven, or their relationship after her death. As said, there are multiple references to visitation dreams, and at least one reference to a waking contact, in conjunction with a "sign." One short story alludes to the content of a vistation dream offering guidance and support, which event is mentioned briefly in a poem that appears in a different newspaper. Mathew spread out these clues, and hid them well.
It seems, from various such clues, that Mathew was personal friends, as well as a literary collaborator, with Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, creator of the "Mrs. Partington" character and editor of the Boston "Carpet-Bag." Mathew may have brought Shillaber into the fold of Spiritualism, by taking him to a seance where evidential information came through from the spirit world--ostensibly, it is inferred, from Abby, herself. If this was Mathew writing an unsigned "filler" article, he had felt knocks on his hat; and having presumably told no-one about it, Abby came through in the reading, telling him she was the one who had done it. This may have convinced Shillaber to the extent that he became a Spiritualist, himself--but he remained more skeptical even than Mathew was. Both retained a certain amount of skepticism, which Mathew had evinced prominently in his early writings--at a time when Abby was attempting to introduce him to occult subjects.
Shillaber never accepted that Mathew had re-established a relationship with Abby in the spirit world. He was of that persuasion which one commonly sees expressed by mediums, today--"She (or he) wants you to know that when you're ready, it's okay to move on." So Shillaber would poke fun at Mathew's ongoing spirit relationship. In fact, Shillaber seems to have mocked Mathew's sensitive nature, in general, dubbing him "The Sensitive Man." Mathew, with self-deprecating humor, played along. Thus we actually see two characters repesenting Mathew in the "Carpet-Bag": the "Sensitive Man," and "Philanthropos." I don't want to get too far afield, here. The point is, the "Sensitive Man" wrote poetry to the spirit world, "Over the Way"; and to his beloved there, "The Absent One." This was Mathew's actual poetry, sandwiched in-between the gentle (or not-so-gentle) lampoons of his character, which were either written by Shillaber, or by Mathew, or both.
These poems are deeply personal, and a very clear indication of what Mathew was trying to do at this period in his life. I'll give you one as an example, but I don't want this entry to be filled with examples--both because they are so deeply personal, and also because I have to moderate the amount of energy I'm putting into these hardly-ever-read blog entries.
Incidentally, on a totally different topic, Adobe seems to think this photograph of a baby is so amusing, that they insert it into my copy of Photoshop Elements 9 as an advertisement:
Understanding the principles of reincarnation as I do, my take on it is totally different. My theory is, that if a person persists in certain character traits for enough lifetimes, those traits start to become hardwired into the body (and brain), and also show up earlier and earlier in childhood. The explanation is that the deepest and strongest mental impressions, stored in the mental body, start showing up in the formation of the physical body and that portion of the character which is hardwired into the brain. This also goes to child prodigies. One can see just how much work there is to do in this field, beyond the mere question of whether reincarnation exists, or not! But, I digress...
Of course, these poems trigger intuitive memories, and I find myself knowing deeply what Mathew was alluding to in them. This one, I think, is a reference to a memory that he is only half-relating, here. Mathew has written of inanimate objects many times, giving them human qualities (there's a term for that--is it "anthropomorphism"?). He was also of a jealous disposition. He must have seen Abby mending his clothes, and envied them, wishing that he could lay his head where they were so fortunate to be. Knowing him so well, she would catch his glance, set down her mending, and wordlessly beckon to him. As he is longing for contact with her, now, his mind goes to this deep, powerful memory; and he concludes that he may still experience this same intimacy with her, in his heart.
You can see why I'm reluctant to share these with an unknown audience. But one example is only fair. If you look at the introduction, this one is written not by Mathew, but by Shillaber, and there is clearly a mocking tone to it, as there is in all of these "Sensitive Man" pieces.* Exactly why Mathew played along with this, I don't know. I think he used humor to hide the depth of his feelings; but when Shillaber poked fun at it, that was different. One can make light of something to hide one's deeper feelings, but when a friend joins you in doing that, he is expressing disrespect. A real friend is supposed to do the opposite of this--i.e., encourage you, not join you in your self-deprecating humor. Mathew never understood this dynamic between them. But if you read the "Mrs. Partington" work, you find that while the old lady was quite benign, her nephew, Ike, was cruel in his supposed childish pranks--as, for example, hanging the cat. Both of these characters came out of Shillaber's imagination, and thus both were sides of his own personal character.
To be fair, that was the tenor of the 19th century--an era in which children were referred to with the impersonal pronoun "it," rather than as "he" or "she." Anyone who had a soft spot for animals, or fondly imagined that he was still in a loving relationship with his late wife, was to be mocked--gently or harshly, as the case may be. Margaret Fuller seems to have done the same a few years earlier in her capacity as literary editor of the New York "Tribune," when she inserted her own paragraphs into Mathew's report of a charitable institution. She as much as called him a "bleeding heart." But that's another story.
Now, I'd better get on track, here, or this is going to be a very long entry.
Shillaber alluded briefly to Mathew reaching out to Abby in spirit, in his series about "Blifkins the Martyr." "Blifkins" appears to have been based on Mathew's disastrous, family-arranged second marriage to Jane Vaughn of St. John, Canada. In it, he has a dream of visiting with the "Widow Thompson" on a boat; Blifkins says that the Widow looks something like the bust of Pallas he has above his chamber door; and that while strumming the tune to the "Hallelulah Chorus" on the chair, he attempts to telepathically communicate with the bust. This is Mathew being filtered through Shillaber's cynicism (Abby did, in fact, look somewhat like the bust of Pallas recovered from Herculaneum, suggesting this was loosely based on fact). It means that Mathew has privately shared with Shillaber a visitation dream he had of Abby, his attempts to contact her, and the fact that he was the original author of "The Raven." And Shillaber ain't buyin' any of it.
In other words, the same reaction you may have to my presentation, today.
Except that I am demonstrating to you that I said the same things in the 19th century, which sort of tilts the whole thing in my favor, doesn't it? Or was I coincidentally able to find a 19th-century man just as nuts as I am, by simply seeing his engraving on a website?
I see that I can't go through all of this evidence. There turned out to be a great deal of it. I can only give an overview of what transpired, as best I can put it together from all these clues. Abby passed on March 27, 1841, of consumption. Mathew wrote a number of tributes to her in the months that followed, including "Geraldine's Courtship," "The Raven," and "Annabel Lee." Of course, he also wrote tributes which weren't stolen by famous authors. The first I found is called "To A Bright Lady," published originally in the New York "Mirror" (though I can't find it there), and reprinted in the Portland "Transcript," signed with the "star." Another piercingly beautiful poem with the same signature, which I think I've shared earlier, is called "The Spirit Lyre." Comparing Abby to the lyre (she apparently played the harp, as well as having a fine singing voice), it takes her through the three stages of childhood, marriage, and heaven. The concluding line is "The lyre discourseth of immortality." Indeed it did, as I have a poem written by Abby, perhaps hours before she passed--but I can barely bring myself to read it, no less share it, here. In my opinion, "The Spirit Lyre" is every bit as fine a poem as "The Raven," but of course the public has no taste for such.
Mathew's mother appears to have prevailed on Mathew to remarry Jane Vaughn, a rather masculine-looking woman, one year after Abby's death. There was a branch of the Whittier family in Nova Scotia. But all that Mathew's sole student biographer, Lloyd W. Griffin, can say about this marriage is that the "Whittier boys were always attractive to the ladies." I felt immediately that it was arranged, and this was confirmed by psychic Whittier descendant Bruce Whittier, from Nova Scotia, in a phone conversation which took place very early in my research. He would only comment, tersely, "It was the mother." I found numerous references in Mathew's various works, primarily in his travelogues. But as my research progressed, it became obvious. Mathew, being handsome and still relatively young, could have had his pick, there in Portland. He didn't need to arrange a marriage from St. John, and this, probably sight-unseen. I know what Mathew's deep motivations were, but I won't go into that. Basically, I think his mother wanted to insure the family's respectability; therefore, she needed not only to get Mathew married, but married to a woman whose job it would be to keep him in line. She played on Mathew's survivor's guilt, to induce him to marry as a kind of penance. But enough on that. Historians tell us that his mother was going to seances; I think she reported to Mathew that Abby came through, saying that she wanted Mathew to marry this woman.
Just as one sees in the readings, today, in other words--"She says she wants you to move on."
This was just barely plausible to Mathew, because (as his poetry the year after Abby's death indicates) there must have been a discussion between them about remarrying if one of them should die first, where Abby took the "pro" position and Mathew protested. But I think she did it because she had just learned she was dying; not because she actually would have remarried, had he died first. She was broaching the topic, and trying to be selfless about it. Mathew, feeling deeply hurt (when before this, Abby had talked about them being twin-stars, etc.), never understood that she didn't really mean it. Until, that is, later on--but we will come to that, shortly.
In any case, Mathew would have obeyed Abby--and as Griffin points out, he was known for being especially gullible.
But, you see, the family history is that the Whittier's never approved of Abby--as Candace, the psychic I employed in March of 2010, told me. She wasn't Quaker, and the Quakers disowned Mathew after they married. She also encouraged Mathew's literary genius and philosophical studies, and being raised French, she probably was accustomed to having a glass of wine with meals. Mathew's mother arranged a second marriage that she approved of. John Greenleaf Whittier never mentions Abby in his correspondence with his brother--but he does refer to Jane as "Mrs. W."
I can't give all the evidence, especally for something that's already patently obvious, but I can't resist sharing this remark found in a letter of Oct. 17, 1847, where Mathew is writing to Elizur Wright, editor of the Boston "Chronotype," signing as "X.F.W."
The Lynde divorce case is still going on, though not much progress was made with it yesterday. The testimony of the daughter against her mother seems likely to be set entirely aside, and indeed no one could read it without seeing it bore strong marks of exaggeration and a disturbed mind. It is said that the animus of the young lady's testimony is jealousy of her mother added to the influence of father. What a commentary is this affair on our social institutions. A daughter voluntarily testifying to bring the deepest disagrace on the mother that gave her life. The marriage was originally brought about against the will of the wife;--it was the work of her mother;--there was no such love in it as should alone be the basis of the conjugal union, and here are the consequences. And in how many cases are the evils that have here come to light kept hidden only to gnaw and consume the very life of their victims? Is there not something rotten in our refined and Christian society?
There are a lot more clues dropped among Mathew's published works, but you get the picture. Mathew and Jane didn't get along at all--she had no respect for his literary or philosophical interests, and in fact was materialistic and practical. I'm sure she had good qualities--she raised their three children, and she is said to have liked animals. They simply had nothing in common. Mathew worked in New York City for much of their marriage, supporting the family from there and visiting by train. By 1847, he knew it was over, and Abby began contacting him directly, from the spirit world. (This, I have evidence for.) By 1849, that marriage was formally (if not legally) dissolved. Despite Griffin's blithe assertion that Mathew "abandoned his family" in 1857, he supported them as long as he could. Only when he was publicly exposed as the author of the satirical "Ethan Spike" series, and he lost the trading business he had at the time, being blacklisted, was he unable to continue supporting them.
Two of Abby's sisters, Annette and Franchette, visited Mathew and his second family in Portland over the Christmas holidays in 1847. This, we know from a letter written by Annette to Mathew's sister, which was donated to a historical library. It is my feeling that they privately shared something with him during this visit, which made him realize that he should never have remarried. I can only speculate what that was--they may have given him some of her writings, or told him something she had said before she died. Perhaps, as I feel most strongly, they said that she had told them privately that she hoped he would wait for her, and not remarry. Mathew had already begun turning back to her, and away from his second wife--but whatever he was told at this time, sealed it.
I felt, early on in my research, that Mathew had had one or more affairs. I found evidence for four of them, from 1849-1857. But all of these would have occurred after he had already split from his second wife. (It's not entirely clear whether the first one instigated the formal split, or came after, but I think that it, too, came afterwards.) To make a long story short, Abby forgave the first two of these these disastrous, brief relationships; but after the third one, she apparently hung back for good. Mathew drifted away from Spiritualism, and married on a practical basis for a third time in 1858. However, they split up very quickly only to get back together again permanently in 1864. Or so I read the clues.
Why Abby stayed away after the third relationship, I'm not certain, but I have been given to understand that it wasn't voluntary on her part; rather, she was prevented from attempting to contact Mathew further. I don't want to delve into that, here.**
The new evidence I found, in the 1852-54 Portland "Transcript," consists of poems and a travelogue. I already had evidence of this, the second relationship, in mid-1852. But now I was putting together the whole picture. Mathew's friends, and especially Shillaber, were urging him to "move on." Being too easily influenced by others, and his own faith being somewhat tenuous, he finally tried to do so. The lady must have been a Transcendentalist, and an admirer of Margaret Fuller. She must have been intellectual, and superficially "spiritual"--a New Age type, in other words. I repeated this pattern half a dozen times, myself, so I know it all too well. Mathew imagined he was replacing Abby with a similiarly spiritual woman--but Abby was a very rare gem, one in a million. The neurotic variety are far more common. So it didn't last, and Mathew bounced through Kubler-Ross's stages of loss. In one series, he expresses sarcastic anger. I already had that one, and had extrapolated the relationship from it. But now I find poetry which expresses how devastated he felt; and finally, a poem which indicates that he had turned back to Abby, and she had welcomed him. In the meantime, there is an account of going with a group of friends--evidentally, these same Spiritualist friends--on a boat excursion to the islands off Portland. It is written in Mathew's lyrical style, which he sometimes adopted for such reports, but it is signed "Casco" (for Casco Bay). I'm certain it's his, based on other examples. I've shared with you, previously, his account of a fishing expedition outside New Orleans, about the "Piscatorian Brotherhood." This is written in precisely the same style, except that here, he is not meeting clandestinely with a group of northern and southern abolitionists. He's going for his "health," which means, his friends suggested the trip to get his mind off this failed relationship. Always, it is travel and male camaraderie which has eased Mathew's grief most effectively, as a palliative.
So now I have the three cynical humorous sketches (as well as two cynical essays written during this period under "Peter Popkins," about love); the two devastated poems (only one of which is directly on-target--long story); the excursion to the Casco Bay islands; and the poem about reconciling with Abby, in spirit. All of them, together, tell me that Mathew had difficulty sustaining his relationship with Abby. He could achieve it for some years, but then he would be tempted into a physical relationship with a girl who reminded him of her. Furthermore, the last poem in this series suggests that Abby was instigating this as much as he was; that he felt half a captive, in fact. And that his faith, as her student in matters spiritual, still wasn't quite up to the mark. He couldn't deny it, and yet he couldn't fully accept it. It wasn't entirely real to him; and yet, she had provided him with proof after proof. He loved her desperately--he just struggled to believe she had really survived death, and that she still loved him and wanted to be with him.
There's more, but I think that's enough to put all the evidence--which is scattered throughout my two books--into perspective. Today, I'm getting it right. I now have the requisite faith to sustain that relationship, where Mathew didn't. I may briefly feel attraction for this or that woman who reminds me, subconsciously, of Abby, but I never pursue it. I've learned my lesson--as said, I went through a string of these disasters, before Abby contacted me in this life, in 2010. Never again. I am happily married, in what you might call a long-distance relationship. I'll be seeing her soon enough; and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to wait for her.
Of course--to wrap up this series of entries--when I honestly say that I have proven that I am the reincarnation of Mathew Franklin Whittier; that he was the real co-author, with his first wife, Abby, of "A Christmas Carol," and the original author of "The Raven" as well as other famous works; and that I have remarried Abby across the Great Divide--this is too much. Any modern, nicely materialistic person reading this, will immediately dismiss me from serious consideration. Even wacky paranormal radio show hosts must think I'm too flaky for them, no less people in academia.
And yet...and yet...I actually can prove these things in a rigorous, scholarly fashion. If only I could gain someone's ear long enough, and their respect. This study is quite real. Like Mathew, I remain ahead of my time. Like Mathew, I go through Kubler Ross's stages--not regarding failed relationships anymore, but regarding the failure of my work to get any response out there. I have not even reached the stage of being ridiculed--I am still in the first stage, of being ignored.
Studiously ignored, I would say, where I press the matter and attempt to introduce myself.
I continue to feel that this is a matter of timing. If my work survives me and remains available for discovery, it will have to come to light, eventually. Assuming, that is, that mankind survives, and progresses to a higher understanding of life and death.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Note that the "Sensitive Man" is on personal terms with the editor of the "Carpet-Bag." In other installments (as I recall from memory), one sees that he had the key to the office, because he comes in early before anyone else has arrived. Thus, if Mathew wasn't officially on-staff at this paper, he had the same privileges.
**You will find a very different attitude expressed by spirits contacted by mediums, and also by NDE experiencers. All I can say is that Abby and Mathew were true soul-mates, and this is a total game-changer. Soul-mates have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of past lives together, becoming as though one person. They are a law unto themselves, and react differently when one dies and finds him- or herself in the astral realm, despite its overwhelming beauty. Most people feel that heaven is home; for soul-mates, home is where their other half is.
Music opening this page: "Something in the Way She Moves," by James Taylor,
from a TV special, live with Carol King