In my most-recent entry, I presented a seemingly-cartoonish, apparently pseudo-scientific article, written by Mathew Franklin Whittier for the 1847 New York "Yankee Doodle" humor magazine, on the subject of The Nose. I showed an image of Mathew's own long nose, cited a cameo appearance in one of his travelogues with a matching self-description, and gave several examples of humorous pieces Mathew had written over the years, regarding large noses.
But I have often asserted that Mathew wrote in layers, with the most superficial layer being slapstick humor; and the layers underneath being social or political commentary, psychological insights, or philosophy. I have also mentioned many times that Mathew was introduced to high mysticism by his beloved first wife, Abby, and had embraced those teachings after her death. The opening scene in "The Raven," portraying a grieving man studying "many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore" was quite literal.
Now, Mathew was aware that there are inner senses, and their physical reflections, the outer senses; that there are the inner organs of perception, and the outer organs. That these senses correspond with the elements; and that, in general, "As above, so below." But he hid this knowledge from view, and revealed it only under cover of ostensibly innocuous humor.
That, as it turns out, is what he is doing, here. I didn't catch it right away, and this is typical. I often have not immediately recognized Mathew's purpose. It dawns on me, or is awakened in me, more often than it hits me right away.
What Mathew calls "NOSE," with initial large cap and smaller caps (which I don't know how to reproduce easily in HTML), would actually translate to intuition, inner sight, or spiritual wisdom. So now, in the second installment, when he divides up humanity into eight classes, mixing the three dichotomies of "handsome or ugly," "rich or poor," and "with or without NOSE," what he means is these conditions with or with spiritual wisdom:
Handsome Rich Men with NOSE
Handsome Rich Men without NOSE
Handsome Poor Men with NOSE
Handsome Poor Men without NOSE
Ugly Rich Men with NOSE
Ugly Poor Men without NOSE
Ugly Rich Men with NOSE
Ugly Poor Men without NOSE
As I download the photographic pages of "Yankee Doodle," I have gotten to Chapter Four, where he quotes at some length an autobiographical writer in "American Review" named Philip Yorick. So far as I know, "American Review" insisted on pseudonyms--so this must also be a pseudonym. I am glancing through the original work, as it appeared in the "Review." Could this, actually, be Mathew, himself? In the fourth NOSE chapter, Mathew points out the fact that the "Review" author is saying essentially the same thing he is saying in "Yankee Doodle"--but instead of accusing Yorick of plagiarism, he counts him as "a disciple"! I smell a rat...but let's pause a minute, while I look through this lengthy article in the "Review" somewhat more carefully. If "Philip Yorick" is also Mathew, and this is in any sense an autobiography, we should see some sign of Abby...
I see one possible indication on page 77:
If a philosopher comes among sturdy fools, he is in danger of calcitration and ejectment; saith Diogenes, who suffered severely in that cause a harsh and idle martyrdom. But for me, I am not so much as literally a 'lover of wisdom,' were you to judge me by the company I seek which is chiefly that of children and simpletons, on whom wisdom is most part wasted.
So far so good. One of Mathew's old pseudonyms, "D.," may have stood, in part at least, for "Diogenes," and Mathew strongly identified with this sage from ancient Greece.
Here in the second installment, he claims the "occupation of a surgeon and physican," which came upon him by a kind of accident. So either this is not Mathew, or he has assumed a fictional persona (and it would hardly be the first time)--but we should definitely still see Abby appear somewhere in this narrative, with hints to the knowing.
Yorick's childhood, if this is Mathew, would be entirely fictional--an Italian actress for a mother, the family moved from Italy to London when he was eight years old. Brought up by a bachelor surgeon named Mr. Yorick, raised in his mansion.* He mentions his "very dear friend, Charles Lamb," and Mathew deeply admired Lamb's essays. But this is a very, very long series. I don't have time, right now, to scrutinize it word-for-word as I would have to. Because Mathew wrote so much material, I have had to adopt a policy of focusing on the pieces I can prove are his to a reasonable degree of certainty, while just flagging the others I run across. In any case, if this is Mathew's work, it is a fanciful biography. Faux biographies of fictional characters were one of Mathew's specialties.** So the jury is still out on this one. There would be shreds of autobiography in it, brief references, but nothing substantial.
Now, I knew that "Yorick" is a Shakespearean character; and I know that Mathew has adopted the names of Shakepsearean charcters as pseudonyms, before (most notably, "Poins"). Mathew frequently quotes Shakespeare, and seems to be well-versed in his works. So is "Yorick" particularly plausible, for Mathew? Here's what Hamlet says, looking at Yorick's exhumed skull:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
The life-story of Philip Yorick is not ostensibly humorous--but the author has put us on notice that he is, in fact, a humorist. Not only a humorist, but a dead humorist, which is to say, he died inside, when Abby died. I'd say this series stands a very good chance of being Mathew's work--but it's going to require reading it carefully, and probably keying it in, and frankly, I'm burned out and even the sequel, which I originally thought would come in under a comfortable 300 pages, is now closer to 600...
But back to the NOSE series, this is definitely Mathew Franklin Whittier's work; and he has evidently seen fit to read the Yorick piece in its entirety, such that he has pulled out a quote which closely reflects his "NOSE" philosophy. It would be like him to state, tongue-in-cheek, that Yorick is his "disciple," when he was actually being his own disciple. His mind worked that way--and so does mine, today, which is how I can so easily interpret him.
I don't even have to read the philosophy that Mathew sets forth in this series. From the premise, I already get it (I've keyed in the first three, so I have a leg-up--or rather, a NOSE-up.) A rich, handsome man without spiritual wisdom is in terrible spiritual danger. He is more likely to enter heaven than a rope is to go through the eye of a needle. He will almost certainly lose himself in the maze of Maya.
A rich, ugly man without spiritual wisdom at least will have humility of appearance shielding him from false pride of ownership.
A poor, handsome man without spiritual wisdom is likely to try to leverage his looks into success, perhaps through a wealthy widow, or by becoming a model or an actor. He will become devious and inauthentic, which traits will plague him in subsequent incarnations.
A poor, ugly man without spiritual wisdom is likely to get it, through sheer suffering; depending on whether or not he turns to crime.
And conversely, for the different classes of men (i.e., mankind) who have spiritual wisdom.
If I read between the lines correctly, in a satire Mathew wrote about an arrogant feminist in 1852, where he lampoons Margaret Fuller, he tells us that Ralph Waldo Emerson praised his prowess as a young philosopher, in comparison with Fuller. This appears in that portion of Fuller's memoirs written by Emerson, where she is quoted as saying "He appreciates me." It is quoted by Mathew; but in such a way, that the relevant portion is left out with ellipses. If, however, one looks up the full quote, and reads the omitted portion, that is the reference. And this sort of trickery was Mathew's MO, with a delicate subject like that.
One may or may not admire Mathew's sneaky way of doing things. My theory is that Mathew was a slave in a past life; and slaves learn to communicate in this way. In the 19th-century, he devoted a great deal of his energies to defeating slavery. But he remained hidden, and he used the coded language of the slave.
There is no end to the depth that I see in Mathew's life, because I am Mathew, reincarnated; and I have the same mind. There is no end to the depth of the mind; and one could look back into the history of one's own incarnations as far back as one wanted to, and never see the end of that, either.
How do I know? I just NOSE.
Here are the NOSE chapters I've found, so far:
Chapter 4, first page
Chapter 4, second page
Read the story of "Daniel Dust, Esq." in the Fourth Chapter, and see if this isn't precisely what I have been saying about myself, for years, in this blog. I could give exactly parallel examples from my experience of owning a one-man video production business. For me, reading Mathew's works is like looking back into an infinite hall of mirrors...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. I think I found the autobiographical reference to Abby. This is a long series--I've got a monthly installment in each issue for the first half of 1847, for six total. I'm not sure, as I write this note, whether the series continues on in the next volume for the second half of 1847, or whether I can obtain that one. But in the sixth installment, it appears that Yorick is tutoring a young female prodige, for whom he secretly has feelings. What Mathew appears to have done is to reverse his tutoring relationship with Abby, but retain their age difference--because it was she who tutored him, and secretly fell in love with him, despite being four years younger. Note this is quite similar to what he did with "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" (published by Elizabeth Barrett), where he has retained the real story but altered or even reversed certain key elements.
P.P.S. I've learned that "The Life and Opinions of Philip Yorick, Esq." is actually a serialized book, appearing through the entire year of 1847 in "American Review." There are 10 installments. As near as I can tell, no scholar has bothered to comment on it. I am pretty sure that this is Mathew's work. It seems similar, in style, to his book "The Mistake of a Lifetime: or, the Robber of the Rhine Valley," published initially in serial form in the 1850 "Flag of Our Union" in Boston, under the pseudonym, "Waldo Howard." That book, I have definitely identified as Mathew's. (And see, it's basically irrelevant to me whether the work was claimed by a famous author, or not--I'm trying to gather together Mathew's literary "children," the way that Jenny Cockell yearned to bring her scattered children back together.
I'll have to read this entire book and take notes, looking for content elements which clearly point to Mathew, and style elements which point to his writing style. There's no way I'm going to be able to digitize this one--with very large works like this, I just save a pdf, or try to buy a physical volume if I can. Unfortunately, because some famous authors did publish in this journal (including Edgar Allan Poe), the prices are too high given my current budget. But maybe someday in the future--I'd like at least to have one edition as a sample, if I determine this is really Mathew's work.
What to do about my book is another matter. It would take a book in itself to properly comment on. I'll have to simply mention it in passing, at this point.
*Many years ago, the same genuine psychic who told me I had been a female writer on the West coast in the 1920's or 1930's, also told me of an earlier lifetime in England when I had been a street urchin, rescued by a medical doctor and researcher, who raised me as his son and taught me medicine. That means Mathew could actually be giving a biography of one of his past lives, as told to him by a psychic of his era.
**He was the author of the faux biography, "The Life and Adventures of Dr. Dodimus Duckworth," incorrectly attributed by historians to Asa Greene; as well as the faux biography of B.P. Shillaber's character, "Mrs. Partington," in "The Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington." If you compare the tenor of those works with this series by "Philip Yorick" in the 1847 "American Review," you may see some parallels.
Music opening this page: "Brilliant Room," by Eric Johnson,
from the album "Up Close"