It's really the evening of the 3rd, but I discovered some evidence I want to share, and for the sake of convenience, I'll date it for tomorrow. Always, my greatest frustration is wanting to share what I'm doing, and not finding anyone very interested.
There is always the future...if these survive along with my books, perhaps someone will read them, as well.
This is so complex (i.e., without you having read my book and built up the background a little at a time), I'm trying to think of how to encapsulate it. Okay, Mathew Franklin Whittier, myself in the 19th century, had been writing for three literary newspapers--two in Boston, and one in Portland, Maine. He had written most heavily for one of the Boston papers for 2-3 years; then he had taken a financial interest in another one, which focused more on humor, and was contributing more heavily to that one. The ultra-liberal Boston paper he had been contributing to some years back, had folded a couple years earlier. This is now 1852.
One of the two remaining Boston papers changes hands, and Mathew has a falling out with the old editor and the new owner. He will submit nothing more to it. He now focuses on the humorous paper, and the one in Portland, which he has had a long relationship with.
In addition to traveling for the postal service, when he was in-between assignments, he had been working in the office of the first Boston paper as an editor's assistant. Now, he switches over to doing the same kind of work for the Portland paper. The editor's assistant, among other duties, probably had to put together the "fillers." These are little pithy announcements, wry observations, and such, running anywhere from a couple of lines, to, say, 10 lines.
Two months earlier Mathew's flat above a grocery store had caught fire, and he probably lost a great many papers and personal momentoes of great personal importance. I feel it was arson, and had to do with retaliation for some of his political satire, which was written under pseudonyms that had been penetrated.
Within a month, Mathew will take a permanent job with the Portland post office, though he will still travel. His first wife, his soul-mate, Abby, had died 11 years earlier, but was contacting him from the spirit world in visitation dreams. He was separated from his second wife (an ill-advised arranged marriage), but supported her and their three children in Portland, living separately. These are things I learned through research, which do not match with his biography, which is a student thesis from 1941.
Okay, so you have the background, the bare bones of it. In the humor newspaper, around this period, two characters appear: "Philanthropos," and "The Sensitive Man." I learned of them last year, I think it was. I determined that they were probably written mostly by the editor, about Mathew, who was also his personal friend. The editor thought Mathew was a bit eccentric, and liked to poke gentle fun at him. Mathew would play along. So Mathew was more deeply sensitive than was considered normal for that day and age; and he was also more compassionate and concerned for the welfare of the less fortunate. The "Philanthropos" series made fun of the one trait, and "The Sensitive Man" series poked fun at the other. I knew these were Mathew, instinctively; and I had brought quite a bit of evidence to bear on that identification. Most significantly, however, Mathew's actual poetry to Abby, in the astral realm, was quoted within the "Sensitive Man" lampoons.
I also have identified two of Mathew's pseudonyms. One is a single asterisk; and the other is variations on the initial "P.", or, names beginning with "P". Why, I'm not sure. In the early years he signed with "P"; then he used "Poins"; then he used "P" again, seemingly, for pieces that he and Abby had collaborated on, submitted posthumously. He then created a pseudonym for a series of essays, for the now-defunct Boston paper, called "Peter Popkins." And there were others. I note only that "Poins" is a character from Shakespeare that Mathew might have jokingly seen himself in, as a young man (there was something of the rogue, and something of nobility in him; and he would choose wealthier young men for friends, who would lead him into trouble); while Abby's family name was "Poyen," so that "Poins" could also be phonetically rendered as "Poyen's," a secret tribute to his first marriage.
On this particular page of the Portland paper I looked more closely at, today, I realized that he must have actually been responsible for most of it, aside from the lead editorial. There is a one filler signed with his asterisk; there are two mini-essays signed "P.P."; and there is an unsigned anecdote about "our Philanthropos," trying to help a street vendor whose beer dispenser had gone haywire and was spewing beer into the street, just outside the paper's office. There is also a brief report on Spiritualism in Portland, and a protest that a friend--the editor of the defunct liberal Boston paper he used to submit to some years earlier--has been forced out as editor of another paper by political infighting (no doubt for his strong anti-slavery views).
Now, it is possible that "Philanthropos" was popular slang at the time, though I couldn't find any reference to it online. Perhaps you can. If so, "our Philanthropos" could simply mean, "our do-gooder," in the sense that every paper has at least one do-gooder on staff. But I don't think it's that simple. Mathew had long been an avid student of ancient Greece--if he hadn't originated the title, he would very likely have adopted it. And he loved nuanced pseudonyms and references with hidden meanings, both personal and philosophical.
What all this means, is that Mathew was, in fact, writing poetry to Abby in the astral realm in mid-1852. There are other indications of this, as well. These "Sensitive Man" lampoons, with his actual, serious poetry embedded in them, aren't the only ones.
But look at the chronology of events. This is for people who have dismissed my case, thinking that I just went looking for a historical figure who "filled the bill."
I discovered Mathew in 2005, being sent, by a friend, a link to his etching online. The only information it contained in the caption was that he was brother to poet John Greenleaf Whittier, and that he was "an author." I felt a deep sense of recognition looking into his eyes, as in, "I know that's me."
In 2010, I begin contacting his first wife, Abby, whom I realized was his soul-mate, would also, therefore, be my soul-mate.
In 2016, I learn that he was writing poetry to her and attempting to contact her in the astral realm, in 1852. In short, he was attempting the same thing I was attempting, but I didn't learn of that until years after I started doing it.
Beyond that, are you a regular reader of this blog; or, failing that, have you read several entries? Have you noticed the odd mix in my personality--that I am a devotional mystic, deeply sensitive, and yet, I have this defiant, radical element to my character?*
If you believe I was just lucky, that Mathew Franklin Whittier turned out to be eccentric in precisely the same way that I'm eccentric, you must really believe that I am very, very, very lucky. Perhaps I should start playing the lottery?
Because I knew almost nothing about John Greenleaf Whittier; and if I had, I certainly would not have thought his brother would be like that. I could see from the caption that he was an "author"; but there are a lot of different kinds of authors. Had I looked into it a little bit, I would have learned only that he wrote scathing political satire in dialect. I would have found nothing at all about him being a Spiritualist; nor about his undying love for his first wife. In fact, half of what I would have learned about his life from the readily-available sources would have been wrong.
So was it just a coincidence, that I believe so strongly in the afterlife, and have taught it for years, and Mathew turned out to have been doing the same thing? That I quickly realized that Abby was my soul-mate, and was trying to contact me, and picked up a relationship with her across death--only to discover, many years later, that Mathew had felt the same, and had done the same?
Tell you what--if I'm that lucky, mail me the money, I'll play the lottery with it, and we'll split the proceeds.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*And for the matter of that, have you noticed that Abby's personality, as I have attempted to channel her in her online journal for several years, now, is palpably different from my own? I don't deliberately set out to do that; it just comes out that way. I, myself, am amazed by it when I finish writing stream-of-consciousness, trying to let her prompt me for the next thought, and the next.
Music opening this page: "Never Tell the World" by The Free Design, from the album, "Kites Are Fun"