I have been watching the progress of Hurricane Florence with interest, inasmuch as I used to live in North Myrtle Beach; and that my Guru's center, the Meher Spiritual Center, is in nearby Myrtle Beach, right on the coast. Meher Baba typically mitigates the suffering that his followers go through, making it bearable; the same seems to happen with regard to the Center and hurricanes. Each year, it seems that some unseen force hurls a hurricane directly at Myrtle Beach; and each year, it dodges the bullet at the last second, such that only, say, 75 mph gusts hit it, rather than the full force of a Category 4 hurricane. Just this morning, I see that what was to have been 135 mph sustained winds hitting almost directly on Myrtle Beach, has now weakened and nudged slightly north, so that the Center will probably get the accustomed 75 mph gusts.
Interesting. I heard a story from a lady whose veracity I trust, that once a woman with her 10-year-old son--previously unacquainted with either the Center or its founder, drove into the "Gateway," where guests are received. It seems that her son, while gazing out the car window at the periphery of the property along the major highway, suddenly exclaimed, "Mommy, I see angels!" He had seen 10-foot-tall angels standing guard along the periphery.
As I proofread Mathew Franklin Whittier's travelogues, written cagely under three or four different pseudonyms--into which he would occasionally throw some red herring or other about his personal history, as a disguise--I come across two of them signed "A.B.D." The very first of these A.B.D. letters contains a satirical description of a military training, which by style and content, stamps it as Mathew's work. These two, that I'm presenting today, were published in the Sept. 22, 1849 edition, and the Nov. 3, 1849 edition, respectively, of the Boston "Weekly Museum," a paper Mathew regularly contributed to.
The first one contains the big "red herring" for this pseudonym. Mathew finds himself on "Stevens Plain" near Portland, Maine, where there is a school. He waxes eloquent about his school days there, the teachers, his fellow students, and all of that. It's entirely made up out of whole cloth, if I am correct about his authorship. Why would Mathew, normally a strictly honest person, do such a thing? You have just seen the answer in yesterday's blog entry. Mathew is an agent working as a liaison for William Lloyd Garrison, in the cause of Abolition. He knows that his pro-slavery enemies will be trying to track him via these travelogues. He wants to throw them off, so that they say (as I did, when first encountering these lies), "Oh, that can't be Whittier, he went to school in Haverhill, Mass."
And in that regard, before I continue about "A.B.D.'s" letters, I want to reproduce something written by one Cornelius Matthews, editor of a weekly humor magazine called "Yankee Doodle" published in New York City, in 1847. Mathew lived in New York, and submitted work to that paper in 1847. It's a long story, which I've just finished fine-tuning in my sequel. But suffice it to say that by fall, 1847, that magazine was folding; and they still hadn't paid Mathew for his contributions. It looked as though they probably weren't going to do so, and he was asking at least for a full run of copies which included a series he had written. Mathew, writing to Boston "Chronotype" editor Elizur Wright as "X.F.W.," alludes to this situation, and the editoir of "Yankee Doodle" takes umbrage, "outing" Mathew as an assistant editor on a New York City evening paper. Probably, that was the "Evening Mirror," but that's another line of inquiry.
The point is, that Cornelius Matthews says that Mathew Franklin Whittier can be easily discerned by his style. This is what I've been saying--that after reading some 1,300 of Mathew's productions, I can spot him by style, alone (never mind that I have an advantage with intuitive past-life memory). Matthews, editor of "Yankee Doodle," says:
A New York correspondent of the Boston Chronotype, is quite too eager to take to himself the honor of a reference made to the Chronotype in the 45th number of Yankee Doodle. That passage did not refer to him; but we now tell him, he is well known and the similarity of expression fixes him as an assistant on a New York evening paper, which makes itself very busy with small slanders of this paper. The ears peep out, distinctly, and the tail: the hide is unmistakable, and not the ingenious cover the owners supposed it would be.
The passage in question did refer to him, by the way. There is no-one else it could have referred to. Now, I'm going to share two of these "A.B.D." letters. The first one is written from, and about, precisely the location I moved to in Portland last February. So much so, that he has made me aware of a landmark hidden somewhat off the highway, that I didn't know about, called "Rocky Hill." That hill is a matter of blocks from the house where I first roomed, here. It's probably two miles down the road from where I live, now. I just found it via satellite view. Where he mentions "Woodford's Corner," in the winter, when the trees are bare, I could look out my back window and see that one. This was not planned, except, of course, that I wanted to move to Portland.
The second letter from "A.B.D." nails it as Mathew's writing, by style, and by philosophy. Note that he is well-aware that the wisdom of the higher spheres is reflected in Nature. This was taught to him by Abby, his first wife and true love, who was a mystic. I could demonstrate her understanding of this principle via her poetry, and also by his. Few people truly understand this principle, and even fewer see fit to include it in a chatty, published travel letter. This is Mathew, alright.
I need to get back to my proofreading. Here are the "A.B.D." letters, by date:
The secrecy, here, is because his estranged second wife and three children live, unprotected, in Portland (when they are not in her hometown of St. John, Canada). Mathew, who is traveling up and down the New England states, visits Portland frequently--but he doesn't dare write from there, always using the same pseudonym. Therefore, "Down East" occasionally visits Portland; "A.B.D." also visits Portland (or nearby Westbrook); while "B." owns a house (actually, a get-away for Mathew) in Westbrook. "Quails," once Mathew takes up that pseudonym, also occasionally visits Portland--and the first time he does, he visits the fictitious "Ethan Spike." Mathew will be exposed as the author of "Ethan Spike" several years later, in 1857. At the time that "Quails" visits "Spike," it is not publicly known.*
Last time I gave you a "bonus," so here is your bonus for today, a letter by Mathew signed "B." Actually, I shared this once before, in connection with Edgar Allan Poe. The point today, is, that it appears the week after "A.B.D.'s" second letter. Note that "B." opens by apologizing for writing from the same location as everyone else (everyone else being, in fact, his own alter-egos). Everything Mathew says here, regarding Poe's talents, is very cleverly tongue-in-cheek, including the reference to the "Odessey" (look it up, it's a negative example, not a positive one). He only wants to rescue his own poem, "The Raven," from the general criticism, inasmuch as that poem was written in a faith crisis, out of love, and is not the "breath of hell." But then, look at Mathew's knowledge of historical literary figures.** He, of course, includes himself among them. Mathew was self-educated (not counting Abby's tutoring sessions). In his day, the more sources one had read, the more wisdom one supposedly had. That policy of Mathew's carried forward, and made me mentally toxic in my childhood and adolescence, in this lifetime. I reversed that policy, completely, when I hit age 19--throwing out everything and starting over with the teachings of Meher Baba, Sri Ramakrishna, and Rumi--three God-Realized spiritual masters. In other words, I went for the deepest, purest sources. This reminds me of a story I read once, about a wandering saint. His only possession was a book, which he kept with him at all times, and let no-one get a peek at. When he died they looked in the book, and filling every page was the one name, "Ram" (a name of God).
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*O ye historians, "Ethan Spike" is the last person that Ossian Dodge would have visited in Portland, because Dodge later reveals himself to be a racist, and the "Spike" series is a scathing satire of bigots.
**It is only because I have access to the internet, that I have been able to keep up with Mathew's quotations and references.
Music opening this page: "I Imagine Myself," created by the Author with Garageband software