Of course, I know that I write too often to build a following, since nobody would have the time and inclination to follow this blog--which is to say, nobody would, who doesn't have the time or inclination to read my books. But I'm a bit at loose ends, having completed my on-site research and incorporated all of that into my sequel; and, I like to write. I have a job, now, which gives me enough time; and I have the perfect location. Once again--as I was in the 19th century--I'm in a "garrett," i.e., an attic, in a very pleasant neighborhood in Portland, Maine. It's cool outside (in mid-June!), the maple tree outside my window is rustling gently in the breeze, and I can take my time, here.
In the previous three entries (accessible, as always, by the "Archives" link at the bottom of this page), I shared a significant discovery. I found objective evidence that my subject, Mathew Franklin Whittier, as a 15-year-old boy, was already publishing in the New-England Galaxy, a Boston-based literary newspaper, in 1827. There was one brief paragraph about him, in the editor's 1852 memoirs. His identity was disguised--but not enough that I couldn't penetrate it. And it was specific enough that it's very unlikely he was referring to anybody else.
Why is it so hard to find Mathew's tracks in the historical record? Well, there are a few different reasons. First and foremost, he appears to have been an undercover agent for the cause of abolition, reporting to William Lloyd Garrison. I first began to wonder about that when I saw his name published in Garrison's paper in a list of convention attendees. And when I looked up that convention, I found (from memory, now) a letter between Garrison and Samuel May, indicating that the convention had been cancelled for the top people, but that Garrison's "agents" would still be presenting, and would make it lively--something to that effect. The exact quote with references is in my book, I'm just not bothering to look it up as I write off-the-cuff this morning. In any case, that triggered something inside me, and I began to feel, "Mathew was one of those agents."
Then I started finding clues, and more clues. Suddenly I realized that he was actually using his humorous, seemingly innocuous published travelogues, to report his contacts! His pseudonym was being claimed by someone else, and he was letting them have it, because this deepened his cover. But the person claiming it was a conservative, and a racist--whereas the person writing the travelogue was visiting with radicals, and especially with abolitionists. Except that this was never mentioned. Everything else about them was mentioned. I think it was Alonzo Lewis who was known for having built an eccentric house. So when the travelogue writer visits Lewis, no mention is made of him being an ardent abolitionist; but his house is described.
Another reason Mathew kept himself under wraps was that he was in profound grief for Abby, his first wife, for his entire lifetime after her death in 1841. In this regard, he was something like Queen Victoria--except that he was talked into a family-arranged marriage one year after Abby's death, and then, he entered a practical marriage later in life. Nobody knew he remained in grief for Abby--but he wrote about their relationship, in a disguised form, for many years. I was able to piece together enough details about that relationship to string them into a novel (available for sale as an e-book on my online store, entitled "Twin Stars Descending").
The third reason he kept hidden, is that he was so far ahead of his time, that nobody understood him. When you are in this position, you quickly learn to write on two levels--the obvious level, which you know will entertain the masses, and a deeper level, which only a handful of kindred spirits might recognize. I have reversed this solution. I write brazenly, out in the open, about things that I know hardly anybody is going to either understand, or believe. And, given the nature of the internet, I throw it out to the universe, so that those few people can find it, if Fate so decrees.
So far Fate has not decreed.
Now, (and it always takes me quite awhile to get to the point, in these entries), what I had in mind to write about was the few instances where I have caught Mathew red-handed. There weren't too many of them, over the course of eight years of research. He was very, very crafty. This most-recent discovery was one of them. Joseph Buckingham, who had been editor of the New-England Galaxy, couldn't resist bragging that the real author of "Trismegistus," who was now becoming very popular in the Boston "Carpet-Bag," had written for his own paper as a boy. But no-doubt he and Mathew were personal friends. You can see their mentoring relationship in Mathew's letters to the editor, when he was 15; I can also feel it, when I look at Buckingham's older etching. So Mathew had sworn him to secrecy (which was a matter of life and death, at the time). But, as said, Buckingham couldn't resist saying something about it in his memoirs. At least, he had to leave a trace which would be clearly decipherable for posterity.
All that is described in the previous three entries. But there have been other such discoveries. Another, which comes to mind, is Mathew's undercover report of a slave auction in New Orleans, published in the liberal Boston "Chronotype" in 1848. Of course it was written under yet another pseudonym. But, writing from New Orleans, he mentions that his family is 3,000 miles away. That's a very long distance, and if you take the map, and draw a circle with a radius of 3,000 miles, there are very few points of land that it intersects. One place it does intersect, is St. John, Nova Scotia. Mathew's second wife, Jane, often took the children back to her extended family in St. John, when Mathew was traveling. Look at the map, yourself--there's basically nowhere else it could have been. And how many writers, of this type and writing in this style, had family in St. John?
Then there is this travelogue I spoke of. The author, according to the editor, and now, according to historians, was a famous singer named Ossian Dodge. Dodge, by character, was a con artist, whose nickname was "The Dodge." But the travelogue writer, "Quails," was obviously a sensitive, deeply moral individual. The whole identification with Dodge was absurd. And yet, the itinerary for "Quails," and Dodge's performance itinerary, seemed to match up, which is one reason his fellow-writers for the paper seemed to be convinced of it.
Long story short, Mathew was personal friends with this character,* probably wrote comedy for him, and, at times, traveled with him. But I caught him out on two occasions. (Actually, on numerous occasions, but these stand out as examples of "smoking guns," which is our topic, this morning.)
"Quails" visits Eastport, Maine, and, with a guide, goes out on a huge rock that juts out into the ocean, called Todd's Head. He sits on the very edge of this thing, with his legs dangling over, so that he can say he has been on the eastern-most point of the United States. However, he has a bad cold, and is losing his voice. The weather conditions are (as I recall) cold and windy. He had in mind to sing a song which had words appropriate to the situation (by a group that competed with Dodge, no less--free advertising); but because his voice is hoarse, he only whistles it.
But if this were Dodge, he would be traveling from performance to performance. Losing his voice would be a disaster. There is no possible way he would risk going out to that point on the rock, when he already has a bad cold. And yes, people in the 19th century did know enough to get in out of the rain--or wind, in this case, when coming down with a cold.
So "Quails" cannot possibly be Ossian Dodge.
In Europe--when the historians tells us Dodge was writing this travelogue--"Quails" visits with Victor Hugo, in Hugo's Paris home. Obviously, Mathew is there as an envoy for William Lloyd Garrison. The idea that conservative con-artist Ossian Dodge would somehow get a personal invitation like that is absurd. But that's not when I really caught him.
As Mathew and Dodge are traveling together near Dodge's hometown, in New York State, in order that Dodge can attend to his father's funeral arrangements, Dodge can't resist taking time out to do a gig in nearby Rochester. "Quails" reports seeing a "Boston boy" perform there. So "Quails" cannot be the performer, himself. Now, all I had to do is to find a report of that performance.
It was easier said than done, but I finally found it--written by no less than Frederick Douglass, in his own paper. The dates lined up. But now, we have Mathew, an agent for Garrison, attending Dodge's Rochester concert with Douglass. Douglass indicates wryly that he was "proscribed," i.e., not permitted to sit with the white audience. Mathew would have sat with him in the balcony, or whatever seating was reserved for blacks.
If that was the strongest piece of evidence for Mathew being the true author of the "Quails" travelogue, then perhaps the coolest one was finding "Quails'" picture--as Mathew--in Europe. Mathew, as an agent for Garrison, was naturally very careful not to leave a footprint. For example, he didn't sign any meeting rosters. However, "Quails" describes working as a reporter at the World Peace Congress in London, in 1851. He says that he sat at the reporter's table. But he couldn't know that a London artist was sketching the entire scene of the opening. His sketch was so extremely detailed, that one can see the individuals sitting at the reporter's table. And Mathew is there. It's not 100% proof--but it's pretty darned close, because Mathew's hair, including his muttonchops, match his younger portrait. And a loop of hair, protruding from the left side of his head, matches an older portrait. I kid you not--the same darned loop is seen in both images. Meanwhile, compare that tiny image with portraits of Ossian Dodge, and it's pretty clear which man it represents. Dodge wore a goatee, and slicked his hair back. His features are not as chiseled, his eyes not so deep-set, and his nose doesn't have the slight bend at the bridge that Mathew's had. This is one thing Mathew wouldn't have counted on. The artist must have used a magnifying glass to draw this thing, in an age when you couldn't draw large and reduce it for printing; and quite likely, he had met Mathew personally. I say that, because Mathew's image is fairly detailed, while the man behind him is just dashed off with a couple of strokes. Mathew, as a reporter, was writing a travelogue column. He was taking notes verbatim--a skill he had acquired (and which Dodge is unlikely to have had)--but he would not have needed to transcribe the opening remarks. Therefore, he is the only man at the table who is looking at the speaker, in the detailed etching. I'm tempted to "show-and-tell" here--but it's all in my book.
Incidentally, you may have noticed--if you've read these blogs for awhile--that I keep sharing evidence from my book, and never seem to run out. That's because, in that book, there's a very cool discovery every ten pages or so. I could draw on it almost indefinitely. This makes for interesting reading, if you like detective work.
Is detective work interesting to you? Over eight years of research, I began to develop a keen appreciation for it. And I should briefly say, when I assert something as fact, like "'Quails' was not actually Ossian Dodge as the historians claim," I have done my homework. I don't make assertions like this (or, about reincarnation) unless I can prove it.
But if I have offended people's boggle threshold so badly--or, if they are so lazy--that they can't be bothered to read my book, and hence see my evidence, what can I do? They apparently assume that my claims are so outrageous, that I couldn't possibly have real evidence, so it's not even worth checking it out. I understand--I, myself, have come to that conclusion about several paranormal presenters and conspiracy theorists. I already can tell they're bogus, so why should I waste my time? Except that I come to that conclusion by noting certain clues in their presentation. If I see bad logic, or hype, or other subtle indicators in the person's presentation, I know that I don't have to spend hours proving to myself what I already know about them. But people who dismiss me, aren't doing it on such a rational basis. They only think they are.
You wouldn't be wasting your time if you read my books. Far from it. They take work; but work is fun if one has the requisite motivation and intelligence, and if the books are entertaining.
They are entertaining.
This is getting too long, but one always prefers three examples, to two. Let me see...
There are examples of substantiating reincarnation memories, but I'm specifically on the topic of historical proofs, today. Okay, here's one. (I could think of several, but not all would be so convincing to you without the larger context of having read my book, first.)
"Quails" is traveling to St. John (obviously, Mathew is visiting his children there, if you know the context). He is on the back-roads, and driving a sleigh, when he sees someone coming in the opposite direction reading the Boston "Pathfinder." Knowing that there is a biography of B.P. Shillaber's "Mrs. Partington" in that edition (from memory--I actually think he said a picture of Mrs. Partington), he stops the person and offers to buy the copy off him. The man is reluctant, but "Quails" won't let him pass until he does, and finally offers him a quarter, and promises to replace it when he gets back to Boston. The man finally agrees, and is allowed to go on his way.
Now, several questions arise from this. First of all, not having seen the paper, how does he know what will be printed in it? Secondly, this account is presented as though "Quails" (who is always delightfully child-like and impulsive), is just a huge fan of Mrs. Partington--so much so, that he must see her picture. But that's obviously a ruse--his behavior would be too far over-the-top with just that motivation. It's painted as though he was a teenage girl longing for a picture of Elvis, which is a deliberate caricature. And yet, knowing "Quails'" style, he would exaggerate a real event, but would never make one up out of whole cloth. Therefore, he did stop someone and insist on buying it from him. So what's really going on, here?
First of all, the Boston "Pathfinder" was a free publication, supported entirely by its advertising. This makes the offer of a quarter--which was equal to roughly $7.50, today--even more suspicious. Indeed, B.P. Shillaber was editing for this publication, and including some of his "Mrs. Partington" material in it. This was just before he would launch the "Carpet-Bag"--a venture in which Mathew became a silent financial partner, and a heavy contributor under multiple pseudonyms.
Clearly, Mathew wanted to see that faux biography of Mrs. Partington in print. It suddenly struck me that he had written it, and the reason he wanted to see it in print, was to see how it had turned out. I was finally able to substantiate that theory, by a number of clues. The "Pathfinder" is an extremely rare paper, today--I was only ever able to find one edition, which I purchased. You can hardly even find a historical mention of it. But Shillaber reprinted that particular faux biography (with portrait) in the "Carpet-Bag"; and it also appears in a book Shillaber published--listing himself as the editor--many years later. Long story short, Mathew was collaborating with Shillaber. Where you see the faux biography, this was Mathew's contribution. Where you see the actual anecdotes of Mrs. Partington and her family, that was Shillaber.
Each of these discoveries is interconnected with the others. It is like a series of strings tied together--pull one, and you get all the others. There is a clue in one of these collaborations, clearly suggesting that Mathew had told Shillaber, in private, that he had been the original author of "The Raven." Quite possibly, Shillaber didn't believe him, but it amused him enough to include it in his stories of "Blifkins, the Martyr." The life of "Blifkins" was based on stories Mathew must have told Shillaber about his second, unfortunate family-arranged marriage.**
There is another very strong clue, in which Mathew tells us, in so many words, that Poe was unscrupulous, and that Mathew, as a Christian (which Poe was not), would rather have his integrity than fame. Mathew would very often arrange for his pieces, written under different pseudonyms, to appear back-to-back, or side-by-side, on the page. There are dozens of examples. One would never guess they were written by the same author. In this case, Mathew arranges for a very revealing and relevant quote by poet Francis Quarles, to appear in the Portland (Maine) "Transcript"--in 1846, as I recall, the year after "The Raven" was published--under what seems to be a hastily-written "Ethan Spike" derivative. "Ethan Spike" is Mathew's one historically-known series. The piece--not one of his best, about "Libbyville" instead of his usual town of "Hornby"--seems to have been written specifically so that he could place the "Quarles" quote underneath it. Or so it appears, to me.*** The poem, "The Raven," was first published in 1845 under the pseudonym of "---- Quarles." I have evidence indicating that in 1832, Mathew was proud to have found and purchased an old volume of Quarles' poetry, and he writes a review on it with examples. So Mathew was quite familiar with Quarles.
Edgar Allan Poe never used pseudonyms like this. He published his first poetry compilation under "A Bostonian," and then again he used a variation on his name, retaining his real initials, "Edgar A. Perry." (Rather as we see with Buckingham's variation on Mathew's name, "Moses Whitney.") That's it.
Something else which just occurred to me is that Poe's work had been reprinted in the "Transcript." It's a paper Poe was likely to read. Hence, he would get the message, whether or not anybody else understood it.
In the early 1840's, writing for this same paper, Mathew would use the pseudonym, "Poins." Poins is a Shakespearian character, who would dovetail with Mathew's personality (or rather, a caricature of his personality). And here's another example--whereas Mathew's sole biographer, Lloyd W. Griffin, wasn't sure whether "Poins" was Mathew, I can prove it. There is a letter to Mathew from his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, in which John Greenleaf thanks Mathew for the published pieces he had sent him. One was a travelogue, and the other, a humorous story about "avalanches" of snow that would fall on unsuspecting citizens from shop awnings, in Portland. The humorous story is unsigned (though it can be clearly identified); while the travelogue is signed "Poins." There are quite a few pieces with this signature in the "Transcript" of this era, and they are all clearly Mathew's work.
Therefore, it would have been entirely plausible for Mathew--who used dozens, if not hundreds of different pseudonyms over the course of his literary career--to have signed "---- Quarles" in 1845. But it would have been implausible, for Poe.
Someday, somebody is going to ask me, "Why didn't you tell people these things?" The answer will be that I did tell them, but nobody was taking me seriously, at the time. Nobody was inviting me on radio talk shows, nobody was writing about me, and I don't believe in (nor can I afford) hype advertising. So outside of this blog--which gets a handful of readers each day--there hasn't been much opportunity for people to be exposed to it. The only way they can find me, is through serendipity--or synchronicity--or word of mouth. And those of you who read this blog aren't even reading my book, no less telling anyone else about me.
So, do you like detective work? Meaning, detective work where somebody hasn't been murdered? The appeal of the entire "Ancient Aliens" series is based on this kind of detective work. Except, in that case, one is encouraged (shall we say) to believe that it is evidence of aliens--and aliens are sexy. (Well, actually, that's one thing that aliens aren't--except possibly to other aliens. But you know what I mean.)
Is reincarnation as sexy as aliens? Perhaps not. Supposedly almost a quarter of the United States believes in reincarnation--but I haven't seen much evidence of that. No sooner do I open up to anybody about my research, than I get the "slowly backing away" response. Maybe it's that I actually know who I was in the 19th century--maybe it's that part of it that scares people.
I can only tell you that, all modesty aside, the detective work in my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words"--and now, its sequel, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own world"--is superb. Add to that the plentiful examples of Mathew's own writing, and it's really quite entertaining. If it makes your eyes cross--and it seems to have had that effect on the handful of people who have tried to read it--I think this has more to do with a subconscious resistance to the subject.
It's hard to enjoy something that's scaring the crap out of you, because it's too real. If reincarnation is real, karma is real. If karma is real, you are 100% accountable for everything you have ever done.
People don't like to be held accountable. I wonder if that's it?
Sorry--you will be held 100% accountable by your karma, whether you believe it, or not. So you might as well enjoy the book.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Oddly enough, as much as Mathew tried to be an astute judge of character, by nature he was gullible, and was sometimes fooled in his choice of companions. Here's something for the future--I feel, by past-life impression, that author Bret Harte and Mathew were friends in Boston; and that Harte was a bad influence, and probably got Mathew drinking again. But I have found scant evidence for it--only one possible clue, a cynical parody that Harte wrote of John Greenleaf Whittier's "Maud Muller," which suggests Mathew's influence.
**The same anecdote contains a clear reference to Mathew attempting to maintain psychic spirit contact with Abby, and having visitation dreams of her. Both Mathew and Shillaber were Spiritualists at the time.
***After the first "Ethan Spike" story was published in the Portland "Transcript," in Jan. of 1846, he began publishing "Spike" stories, which were politically edgier, in the more liberal Boston "Chronotype." It may be he had a gentleman's agreement with the Chronotype editor, Elizur Wright, to write "Ethan Spike from Hornby" exclusively for that paper; he would then have stretched that agreement, to write a one-off about "Libbyville" for the "Transcript." Poe's work had been reprinted in the "Transcript," and Mathew would have known that he read that paper.
Audio opening this page: "The Inspector," by Wally Badarou,
from the album, "Echoes"