I continue to furiously key in a vast number of my past-life works, to the tune of five or six articles per day. I'm estimating it will take over a month to complete just the keying of it, no less the proofreading. I've decided to just key for now, because it is in the keying that I find things which need to be inserted into my book. Occasionally I even notice them in the proofreading phase, but less often.
I have said, in my book and perhaps somewhere in this blog, that although he was known as a humorist, Mathew Franklin Whittier (myself in the 19th century) was actually a philosopher who used humor to teach. I have also said that he was as astute as any of the American philosophers of his day, including the Transcendentalists. He seems to have started out as a skeptic of things otherworldly; but after being taught by, and married to, a mystic, he incorpoated his understanding of metaphysics into his philosophy, as well. I just now keyed in one of his pieces, signed with his last initial, "W." He rarely used it in this paper, the 1831 New York "Constellation." In this case, he had already used two of his accustomed pseudonyms: "Israel Icicle" for pithy philosophical observations on a variety of chosen topics, and "D." for two humorous anecdotes. So, I suppose, as he was the acting editor for that edition, writing all the original material (not counting that reprinted from other papers), and this was the front page, he decided he needed a third signature.
This is April of 1831, and Mathew is 18 years old. He has, at this time, only been tutored by his future wife, Abby (four years younger, but with an upper-class French tutored education), since late 1830, or for a few months. She will introduce him to the classics, and in his subsequent writings, one will begin to see them quoted with increasing frequency; but in later years, especially after her death in 1841, one will begin to see hints of the "Perennial Philosophy" as she had taught it to him. He will even take up the pseudonym, "Trismegitus" in 1851 (used also, on one occasion, in June of 1835).*
Here, in April of 1831, when Mathew is 18, we see no signs of mysticism. But it is a solid philosophial effort; and it is as applicable today, as it was in 1831. I would not say it is necessarily Mathew's best work, over the course of his lifetime; I simply present it here to establish that he was as I have portrayed him, and not simply the humorist that the historians credit with "Ethan Spike." It seems to me that even if not a single contemporary person reads this, I am going to have to discredit the historians for those who may take my work seriously in the future--and I think this is a good start. Forgive any typos--I don't have time to proofread now, as I will be doing that for all of these pieces on a second pass. I'll just correct anything that jumps out at me as I cut-and-paste this, and add the HTML coding.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*This pseudonym, "Trismegistus," was attributed in his memoirs by the editor of "The Carpet-Bag," B.P. Shillaber, to one Benjamin Drew--but I have painstakingly disproved this attribution, as well as providing extensive evidence for Mathew's continued secret collaboration with Shillaber.
If it be true that "mankind, as rational creatures, are in a perpetual progress of improvement travelling on from perfection to perfection," it is equally true that they are often retarded in their advancement by that fertile source of mischief to human life, the misrule of passion. Thus, when reason, aided by ambition, the master spirit of the human mind, has delineated the course for us to pursue, in order to attain a favorite object, we readily follow our guide, and employ the various means in our power, that we may accomplish our original design. But perchance some unforseen incident presents to us insurmountable difficulties. or the paramount interests and claims of others compel us to relinquish all those high-wrought expectations of pre-eminence, while we flattered ourselves with their entire consummation. And it is then that we experience all the evils that flow from the indulgence of unrestrained passions, and evince the malevolence of our natural dispositions by contumely and abuse, which we most virulently bestow upon the perhaps innocent instruments of our chagrin and disappointment. This truth, though satisfactorily verified to the acute discernment of a philosophic mind, in almost every daily occurrence, appears to be more particularly substantiated by those great and unhappy collisions between different nations, arising from the inimical feelings of envy and jealousy in their respective sovereigns. Nor is it less true, that when some external or adverse circumstance has produced an undue excitement in the mind, and while influenced by other impressions than those which may result from mature deliberation, we often defeat those purposes which we have labored so assiduously to accomplish. So numerous, and indeed so powerful, are the caues which serve to excite the passions beyond their proper medium, that, while acting under their immediate influence, we are often constrained to perform those actions whichare unworthy of our character. And had we viewed them with calm and tranquil minds, we could not have hesitated for a moment to regard them as deserving the most unqualified censure. But such is the selfishness of human nature, that, upon many occasions we see men whose superior talents and unequivocal discernment have placed them in the most eminent and responsible public stations, pursuing a course which is inservient only to their own private interest; and which is far from being conducive to the general good. And so tenacous are they of privileges once obtained, that they still adhere to such a course, although aware that they are effecting the ultimate ruin of many of their fellow creatures. Mutual jealousies are often excited in the mind by trivial causes, which, instead of producing a cordiality of feeling and liberality of sentiment, tend to destroy those feelings of disinterested friendship and affection, so necessary to the progress of mental improvement, and to preserve the harmony of social intercourse. Among the principal of those caues, to which I allude, are the imperfectness of all human conceptions, the vast disparity in the fortunes and avocations of men, and the different advantages they may have possessed while young of acquiring such useful information as will accelerate the growth of reason and understanding, and elevate their minds to that exalted dignity to which they naturally aspire. But so directly opposite are the pursuits of men, that they afford an ample field for the cultivation of distrust, which unhappily for the refinement of society, so often disturb its tranquility. W.
Music opening this page: "Desert Rose," by Eric Johnson, from his early album, "Ah Via Musicom"