Today begins my mid-week "weekend," and I was just leisurely re-reading, and occasionally editing, yesterday's entry. There was some amateurish writing in there that needed correction, but my excuse is, that I drafted it in a huge hurry, before leaving for work. I do see that my writing can be redundant, and I have various other bad habits--most of which I clean up as I re-read the entry during the next couple of days. Some of these I put more time into, than others. So far this month, there are 39 hits on the Archives link at the bottom of this page. That's significant--it suggests a small number of readers who are serious enough to go back and see what I've been writing the past few days. I also see two views on my real-time evidence videos, i.e., videos I took with my cell phone on-site, while putting myself in places associated with my past life, and recording my reactions. And six people have viewed my video interview. All this means there are a handful of people expressing a serious interest. They don't buy my e-books, but they aren't just passing through.
This morning, as I was perusing my "saved searches" on Ebay, my eye was arrested by a CDV of William Makepeace Thackeray. I recognized him immediately, and my first thought was, "I wonder if this seller knows who it is?" Occasionally, I will recognize a 19th-century photograph being sold on Ebay, from my research on Mathew Franklin Whittier, and the seller won't know who he has. In such a case, I'll usually send him or her a quick message.
In this case, however, he did have it labeled correctly. It was an over-exposed shot of Thackeray, labeled on the back "Warren Studio, Cambridgeport," and my assumption was it must have been taken during one of his lecture tours in the States. He has a kindly, intelligent expression, as though he is looking off-camera at someone he knows; the price was quite low for a famous writer, and I bought it outright at the higher "Buy It Now" price.
There was some question in my mind about the date and location, but I tentatively concluded that it was probably taken during Thackeray's second, 1855 U.S. tour. There are two I found online, sold by Getty Images, which appear to have been taken during the same session. One is attributed to a London photographer, and is dated to "circa 1860." But Thackeray died in 1863; and there is another portrait which clearly looks older:
Thackeray cannot be any older than 52 in the portrait above, because that's how old he was at death. (I am 64, and look younger than this.) If we accept that the portrait I purchased was taken in London around 1860, we would have to assume that the Warren studio in Cambridgeport, Mass. copied it. Mine is a CDV--CDV's had been invented by 1855. That means that Thackeray (who was born exactly one year earlier than Mathew, on July 18, 1811) would be 44 in my photograph. He'd be an old-looking 44; but he seems to have aged prematurely in any case, based on a still-earlier daguerreotype portrait. This one is dated circa 1855:
Taken literally, he would be 44 years old here, and he still looks old for that age. The photographer in this case was Jesse Harrison Whitehurst, an American who is said to have been "one of the first, if not the first, daguerreotypists in the South," and whose work goes back to 1843.
Of the three portraits which seem to have been taken during the same session, the one I purchased is markedly over-exposed. I think the reason it doesn't appear in anyone's collection online, is that it was discarded, but kept by someone nonetheless. If it's a copy, that person would have had to carry the reject to the United States, and have it copied, there.
This, just in from the seller--she says "This came with Civil War era cdvs from a dealer in New Hampshire." Finally, I thought to look up the history of the studio, "Warren." I found that George Warren worked in Lowell, Mass. from 1851 until 1863 (the year of Thackeray's death), when he opened a studio in Cambridge. In 1879 he moved to Boston, and opened a second and third studio near his home in Cambridgeport.
Since the back of my portrait is stamped "Warren, Cambridgeport," this new information tips the scales. My CDV must be a copy of a discard, shot in London around 1860, and brought to the United States, where it was copied at one of the Cambridgeport Warren studios no earlier than 1863 (and possibly as late as 1879).
You see, I wanted to interpret that Mathew could have been with Thackeray when this picture was taken--even that he could have been looking at him, off-camera. I spent all morning trying to make this scenario fit, but finally I had to admit defeat.* So while this is all slightly embarrassing (and expensive), you can see that I follow the clues until I get the truth; and I admit when the historians are right, and I'm wrong. Somewhat grudgingly, at times, but I admit it.
I bought this portrait because Thackeray figures in Mathew's life history. The first indication I had, was a very strange story about John Greenleaf Whittier having dinner with Thackeray in London. It was a newspaper story, which was then reproduced by a Whittier biographer. The source was said to have been one of Mathew's friends--but because everything important was deemed to relate to John Greenleaf Whittier, while everything ridiculous or unimportant was deemed to belong to his younger brother--you know, the hack writer of "Ethan Spike"--it was assumed that the story was about JGW.
But the biographer pronounced it apocryphal, on several counts. The story has "Whittier" drinking moderately, while John Greenleaf was a teetotaler. John Greenleaf never traveled overseas, etc. etc.
It didn't even occur to him in his wildest dreams, that the story could be about Mathew. What would the inconsequential little brother have been doing dining with William Makepeace Thackeray, who was considered on a par with Charles Dickens?
That's where "Quails" comes in. I have talked about "Quails" at some length--those of you who have, collectively, hit the Archives 39 times this month, already know the story. But for those of you who don't, "Quails" was the pseudonym for the author of a travelogue written for the Boston "Weekly Museum," from fall 1849 until mid 1852. It was claimed for, and later, by, a slick entertainer named Ossian Dodge, who couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. Dodge, known as "The Dodge," was wealthy enough to sponsor contests, and pay the winner a hefty sum. In this way he would collect material for his act; and later, when he took over the "Museum" (renaming it "Dodge's Literary Museum") in mid-1852, he launched it with a similar contest for stories. (You should see the one he paid the prize money for--it features a bare-breasted slave girl kneeling at the feet of her white master, pleading, "I didn't steal de money!") I have gone to great lengths to prove that Dodge could not possibly have been "Quails"--even though he and the editor, Charles A.V. Putnam, colluded to assert it in print.
I've got enough dirt on both men to demonstrate, in my book, that they were wanting in the ethics department. Dodge is only claimed by historians as the author of the European portion of "Quails"--they don't mention the stateside letters. Dodge was, in fact, in London at the same time. He was promoting himself, after having recently flopped in New York City. But he was hardly the type to attend the World Peace Congress in London, and so far as I know, he did not have the skills to be admitted to the reporter's table there, where "Quails" tells us he sat. Mathew's image actually appears at the reporter's table in an etching of the opening day of that event. The same stray loop of hair is seen both in that tiny image, and in a portrait of Mathew taken a few years later. It's a done deal.
Now, "Quails" takes a tour of Europe in mid-1851. He does not report meeting with Thackeray; however, he does meet with Victor Hugo, at Hugo's home in Paris. Writing under a one-off signature, Mathew has also described meeting with British poet Samuel Rogers. He had published an "Ethan Spike" story in Douglas Jerrold's Newspaper in 1848, and he attends the World Peace Congress, which Jerrold also attended. Very likely they met, as well. Thackeray, Jerrold, and Dickens were friends--but there is no indication that Mathew met with, or tried to meet with, Dickens.
It's clear what's going on. Mathew is actually moving in very high literary circles (as I said I had been doing in that lifetime, in 2003, before I ever learned of him); but he spreads it out under various pseudonyms, or doesn't even report it at all, so as to obfuscate what's really happening. He is hiding his light under a bushel, and remaining under cover.
Mathew would have had dinner with Thackeray in London, in 1851, because they were both accomplished writers in the same genre, i.e., satirical social commentary. Mathew's daughter described him as a brilliant conversationalist, so nothing about this meeting is implausible. That Thackeray made a lecture tour of the U.S. in 1852/53, including a stop in Boston, may or may not have had something to do with Mathew suggesting it the previous year. Mathew maintained a dual residence in Boston and Portland, in 1852; but by 1855 he had only the Portland residence. Still, he could easily have traveled by train to Boston, to meet with Thackeray, during the latter's 1855 tour.
I have recently mentioned a piece written by Mathew, which he signed as "Caleb Leathers." That essay makes it clear that Mathew had a deep grasp of the Perennial Philosophy. Let me see which entry that was--I can do a keyword search of my website folder, here, faster than you can find it...
It's the second July 4, 2018 entry--this one. At that time, I mentioned that the other piece signed "Caleb Leathers" is a tribute to Thackeray. I've quoted it in my book, but let me look that up, too, and quote from it here to give you an idea. This appears in the March 3, 1855 edition of the Portland (Maine) "Transcript":
Thackeray.--Thackeray is the baldest novelist in the world. He don't idealize, nor sentimentalize one particle, but shows up his characters just as they are. The judgment seat before which he calls them, knows no favoritism, but awards equal and exact justice. They cannot with any amount of finesse, elude the light that beams from the tribunal he erects. The inner and out man of his personages are completely correspondent. Soul and spirit appear in the most undisguised shape in their manners, faces, dress, and conversation. If they are hypocrites the unmistakable odor of hypocrisy surrounds them;--if canting drivelling fools, they shine in their true light--if knaves, their knavery,--be they male or female,--is so inscribed upon them that there is no possibility of their being misjudged. The destiny of his characters accords with their deserts. Like the traitor Judas, they go to their own places. This stern judge of men, has in a measure forestalled the judgments of the world to come. In the more penetrable light of that world, we shall all appear as we really are--there will be no skulking, no dodging in that world of most obvious realities. There, reputation and character will be entirely identical. Thackeray is trying, as he should, to bring about a similar state of things in this world. He is aiming to strip off the masks with which men and women veil their real motives and characters, and to bring them forth to the deserved judgment of shame and everlasting contempt. This stern yet just and noble purpose appears clearly beneath the light and bantering play of his stories. Thackeray does not write to tickle or amuse his readers, but to compass a most laudable and high end. He flatters no class or caste, but summons all to a common judgment--the judgment of truth and of genuine manhood. How relentlessly he pursues the English "horristocracy!" Neither honeyed nor flattering words has he for women, and consequently, it is said, he is not a favorite with them. It has been too much the custom of writers, and speakers, too, to treat women as mere ornamental puppets, and not as moral persons who are co-ordinate with men in all the responsibilities of life. Thackeray deals justly and nobly with women, in treating them as equally responsible with men,--thereby acknowledging them the equals of men in all general respects.
This is not just some newspaperman. This is the younger brother of John Greenleaf Whittier, author of "Ethan Spike," a co-author of the original treatment of "A Christmas Carol," and the real author of "The Raven"--incognito.** I have often remarked that when Mathew praises someone, you see him reflected in it. These are Mathew's own values, and this is why the two men would get along so well at dinner. I am quoting, now, from the newspaper article which was reproduced--but not believed--in a biography of John Greenleaf Whittier. This originally appeared in the Feb. 5, 1883 edition of the Cleveland "Leader." That date puts it roughly one month after Mathew's death, which probably has something to do with its appearance there.
How Thackeray Hugged Whittier.
Now that I am talking of literary men, I want to repeat a good story which was told me the other day of the little quarrel which John G. Whittier had with Thackeray, the great English novelist. Whittier, as you know, is very reserved, and the story comes through a friend of his brother for the first time to the public. When Mr. Whittier was in London many years ago, he was made a lion by the literary people of the metropolis. The father of Pendennis and Becky Sharp was prominent among his entertainers, and among other things he honored him by a dinner at his club. Whittier and Thackeray went together in Thackerayís carriage to the club rooms. At the dinner much wine was drunk, as is the custom at all such feasts in England. Thackeray seemed to have no limit in his capacity in this direction, and drank bottle after bottle apparently without being in the least affected by it. He was as witty and clear-headed as though he had been taking nothing but soda. Whittier was temperate, and drank but little. As morning crept on, however, and the feast ended, Thackeray succumbed, and, on leaving, his valet had to carry him to the carriage. On the way home he became maudlin, and threw his arms around Whittierís neck, vowing eternal friendship. In short, he acted so that Whittier grew thoroughly disgusted and left, resolving to have nothing more to do with Thackeray.
How did this happen? Obviously, Thackeray did hug "Whittier"--the other Whittier. And not just because he was drunk (though that would have loosened him up). The final sentence was added, to fit with John Greenleaf Whittier's character. There was no quarrel, no disgust, no resolve to "have nothing more to do with Thackeray." Mathew understood. He was a Temperance man, himself, at this time--his definition of "temperance" being moderation, as indicated in the story. Precisely at what point this account became attributed to John Greenleaf, instead of to Mathew, is unknown. It could have passed through two or three friends before it got to the newspaper editor; or, the editor himself might have thought it made better copy this way.
But it's a crucial clue. Suddenly we have Mathew, dining in London with one of the top literary figures there, as a colleague. Remember, he meets with Victor Hugo in Paris on the same trip.
Does it now seem so unlikely that he was the original author of the famous works I claim for him? Remember that Mathew loved to tell real-life anecdotes--not from his brother's life, or anyone else's, but from his own. I've given an example in the entry for the 13th of this month, along with my own modern attempt to duplicate his style. For obvious reasons, Mathew would have told this one privately to his friends, but would not have seen fit to embarrass Thackeray, or his memory, by publishing it.
Here's something interesting--an excerpt from one of Thackeray's lectures, in the States. This was printed in the Feb. 19, 1853 edition of the Portland "Transcript," being quoted from the "Tribune":
As to the characterstics of Dickensí fervid pen, I think we have all reason to be thankful to him for bringing such pleasures in our family, and awakening in our hearts such kindly sympathies. There are many personages in Dickensí writings which make us feel better for conversing with them. You come away better for your contact with them. Was there ever a better charity sermon preached in the world than Dickensís Christmas Carol? It was the means of lighting up hundreds of Christmas-fires, awakening numberless social sympathies.
But it was Abby, Mathew's soul-mate, who had written these portions of "A Christmas Carol." She was the one with the "fervid pen"--Dickens was a sensationalist, and a plagiarist. Could Mathew have mentioned this to Thackeray (as he appears to have opened up to B.P. Shillaber), and, like Shillaber, had Thackeray not believed him at the time? (I think I have a long, long history of not being taken seriously.) As I understand these historical events, it was Thackeray who exposed Dickens' affair with actress Ellen Ternan, some five years later. Had he finally understood Dickens' true character?
Now, I have just claimed that it was Abby who wrote with a "fervid pen." Perhaps you would like to see an example. This is from a poem entitled "Ode to the Mocking Bird." But this, too, has a convoluted back-story, which I don't have space to go into fully, here. It was claimed by Albert Pike--notorious, in certain circles, as a high-ranking Mason who taught (shall we say) unconventional ideas. Pike appears to have been Abby's teacher, in a class in Newburport, Mass., when she was 14 years old. He claimed this poem--but he tipped his hand, by writing, to a biographer, that he had written it "a couple days after his marriage." Pike married in 1834. But the version he wrote, in 1834, is a complete re-do of the original, which had been published two years earlier. There is just barely enough of it left to show what Pike was working from. With all the evidence in (as set forth in my book), it's clear that this original was Abby's poem, signed with her initials, "A.P." Probably, it was a class assignment, to "write in the style of 'Ode to the Nightingale.'" Abby, however, could not write in anybody else's style. Here's what she did with her assignment, at age 14:
Ode to the Mocking Bird.
O bird, who dwellest in the lonely woods,
Far from all cities—where men dream of life,
Walking with blinded eyes, and dull care broods
Upon their withered hearts, and angry strife
Flaps her broad wings before the eyes of men,
And gnaws upon their souls, and avarice halts
Out from his gold and misery-piled den,
And grasps menís souls, with yellow, shriveled hands,
And shrinks them up, and filthy gods exalt
To proud dominion, worse than pagan lands
Have ever bowed before—
(And, clutching handfuls up of glittering ore,
He makes of it—oh wonder! Strong, firm bands,
To bind them to his sordid service and cursed lore.)
You may recall the speech by Marley's Ghost, in "A Christmas Carol"--this, too, was originally written by Abby. Both passages reflect her deep grasp of the Perennial Philosophy, and her knowledge of the occult, as taught to her by her Scottish mother, Sally Poyen:
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?
Scrooge trembled more and more.
"Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!"
Dickens didn't write this. Here is a portrait of the real author, painted by Mathew's cousin, Ruth Whittier Shute, probably around Jan. 1837; she would have written the above-quoted passage not quite two years later, in the fall of 1838.
Are you psychic? Or even intuitive? You can see it, can't you?
I have researched these things as deeply, and as fearlessly, as I researched the CDV I just purchased. I call it as I find it. If I learn I was mistaken, I admit it, and, leaving a record of the mistake, I change it. I've put all these things through the fire, and they have come out plausible, and more than plausible.
You have no idea how interesting my book is. When I stop feeling frustrated and, yes, hurt about the almost total lack of sales, it starts to amuse me. It's like trying to get the pawn shop owner to look at your million dollar diamond, when he keeps brushing you off because he assumes it's a piece of costume jewelry.
Nevermind what it means about me. I didn't write (or in this case, co-author) these classics, as I explained recently, because I am not Mathew Franklin Whittier in the full sense. I have his higher mind, and his emotions. I was him, no doubt, but I cannot say I am him, today.
But look at what Mathew says about Thackeray--these are his own values, which they share. These values reside in the higher mind. They were his values when he was a "Jewish high priest"--a lifetime he alludes to on a couple of different occasions. They were his values as Mathew, and they are my values, today. The higher mind--the causal body--doesn't change very much, even over centuries.
Perhaps you want to see that reference; but here we have yet another back-story. I've recently quoted Mathew writing as an "Ethan Spike" spin-off, "Old Casual." Mathew has just been exposed as the author of Spike, in mid-1857. He adopts a new character who, supposedly, knows Spike personally, and he describes him--but the various vagabonds (which he calls "nabobs") where he is hiding out, don't believe him (sound familiar?). But this is also essentially the same description that famous 19th-century psychic Andrew Jackson Davis gave, after their private meeting in 1854:
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!
The two-letter addition, "re-appearance," is Mathew's code. It's typical. As said, this isn't the only reference--there are a couple of others, as for example a one-off pseudonym that Mathew adopts, which is, in fact, the name of a Jewish high priest of the Old Testament. The reference to the "church to Mecanic Haul" means Mechanics' Hall, in Portland, Maine, where Mathew describes having recently given four Spiritualist sermons in a letter to his brother.
If only you had the whole picture... I have the whole picture of Mathew's life, plus my intuitive understanding of having been him. But you can get the overview by reading my book. It's a long book, but a fascinating one and an entertaining one. If you immerse yourself in it, willingly (not grudgingly, as college students will probably be forced to do, someday), all of this--which now seems ludicrous to you--will make perfect sense.
Mathew was on a par with authors like Thackeray. Aside from the reincarnation question, his life and work are well worth studying. And as for Abby, the world very rarely sees the like of this young woman.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*It's still vaguely possible, if all three portraits in the one session were actually taken in the States, during Thackeray's 1855 tour, and then this one was copied later on. But at this point Occam's Razor is protesting too much. I think they must, in fact, have been taken in London around 1860, 2-3 years before Thackeray entered his final decline, when he was in his late 40's or early 50's. There is one further scenario which might tie MFW in with this image. If he and Thackeray were indeed friends, it might have been sent to him after Thackeray's death in 1863. Mathew, who lived in Boston, might then have had it copied in Cambridgeport, sending the original back by return mail. Or, Mathew could have had it copied there much later, with only this copy having survived. I would only give weight to this theory, however, if I found additional supporting evidence. My question is, who, in Boston, would have obtained this overexposed reject from an 1860 London studio session; and who would have gone to the trouble and expense of having it copied locally as a CDV? I think this scenario requires someone with a special interest in Thackeray, and perhaps someone with connections, as well. It narrows down the number of people who would fit. A university professor of literature might be included in this group--or a literary colleague.
**That he deliberately uses the word "don't" is part of Mathew's style, even in straight prose. He isn't the only one who would deliberately throw in casual language like this, but it is one of his trademarks. You might say it's a bit of "reflex" Ethan Spike in his essay style. Note that it only appears in the second line.
Music opening this page: "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," by Johann Sebastian Bach