This is literally an addendum to yesterday's Update, and specifically, to the footnote. It's not the first time I've gotten started with an afterthought in the footnote to one entry, and then felt, upon reflection, that I wanted to expand it.
I am going back to one of the three strongly validated past-life memories which I presented to Dr. Jim Tucker, which should, logically, have piqued his interest regarding my study as a whole. Keep in mind he had been holding a digital copy of my book, as a courtesy, for some years, and I first met him when I videotaped an interview with him, gratis, in 2007. It's not as though I had approached him out-of-the-blue.
This is what I wrote, in response to an e-mailed questionnaire/interview, in 2003, two years before I discovered my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier:
Sheri: Can you recall any of your past lives? If so, how have they been influential in your work?
Stephen: I do think that several of my past lives have been very influential in my work. I have, through intuition, glimpses, and educated guesswork, identified a few lives I feel pretty sure of, and a number of others I have hints of. I've been a writer, connected, I think, with the Romantic poets, for example. Not any of the famous ones as near as I can tell, but I think I knew them personally and ascribed to their overall philosophy (for better or worse).
As I explained in the previous entry, this online interview was preserved by Archive.org's "Wayback Machine," so I can prove that it was posted online as quoted. You should be able to access the URL for the entire interview, as archived on the Wayback Machine, at this URL:
Now, the following is a quote from "Reminiscences," by Henry Clay Barnabee, published in 1907. He puts the events he is describing at "more than half a century ago," which places this roughly in the early 1850's, when (as I have determined) Mathew was a silent partner of, and a heavy contributor to (under several secret pseudonyms), a family humor magazine called the "Carpet-Bag." That paper was edited by B.P. Shillaber:
Among the scores of “distinguished sons” whom the Old Home Weeks used to round up in Porthsmouth were included: Daniel Webster, Jeremiah Mason, Ichabod Bartlett, John Mitchell Sewell, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, John G. Whittier, and a brother of the latter, who, under the nom de plume of “Ethan Spike,” used to write comic Yankeeisms for the Portland (Maine) Transcript: James T. Fields, of Boston, celebrity in connnnection with the Corner Bookstore, the Atlantic Monthly magazine, and the publishing business generally; Harriet McEwen Kimball, poetess: Benjamin P. Shillaber, creator of the inimitable Mrs. Partington: and the Rev. Thomas Starr King, whose father before him had preached in Portsmouth’s venerable Unitarian Church.
Note that Mathew is the only one of these writers who is not actually named. This is what I meant by saying that Mathew was the "poor red-headed step-child" of the literati. And that dovetails perfectly with the past-life impression I expressed in 2003. At that time I knew next-to-nothing about John Greenleaf Whittier. I thought I remembered, from school, that he had written a poem about the "Oversoul," which turned out to be erroneous. I may have had the impression that he wrote for the cause of Abolition. That's all. I didn't even know about his big hit, the poem about his childhood, entitled "Snow-Bound."
As for the knee-jerk assumption that I was looking for a historical character to match my memory, I wasn't even thinking about that when I stumbled upon Mathew Franklin Whittier's etching, in the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project website. I was looking for a more recent lifetime as a young woman on the West Coast, which a psychic had, many years earlier, told me about. I was idly scanning the internet, on a whim, looking for female names that felt familiar, and Jewett's seemed to strongly ring a bell. (She's an obscure writer, and so far as I can remember, I'd never studied her in school.) I wrote my friend Jeff Keene that something about her life and work was familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. About a half hour later, he shot back the link to Mathew's bio etching and very brief description, saying he felt guided to go to that page, and that Mathew looked like me. Immediately, looking at Mathew's eyes, I felt, "That was me."
Something just struck me on re-read. I went back and looked in my book where I quoted Jeff's e-mail directly. If you don't recognize the name, Jeff has his own reincarnation case, and is nationally-known (but I was the first to present him). He had commented:
As if guided, I went right to “Main Contents” [sic] then to “Portraits” then to the very bottom name “Matthew Franklin Whittier” clicked on it and said BINGO! Looked at the picture and said to myself, “he looks a bit like Steve.” Sent along a file. The paragraph below the picture was the only thing I could come up with in a Google search. When I read that I said, “sounds like Steve In Another Life.” By the way, I checked all the other people listed in “Portraits” but saw no likeness of you in any of them. Sense of humor, writer and anti-slavery, yup, if you’re in this group I would put my money on Matthew.
But here is what he saw:
I could swear that this quote is from the very first e-mail Jeff sent me. But "sense of humor" and "anti-slavery" aren't on the linked page (and one certainly wouldn't pick up "sense of humor" from this portrait); and yet, he specifically says, in the e-mail, that the "paragraph below the picture was the only thing" he could come up with. I decided, upon going back to where I talk about this in my book, that I must have made a mistake. This quote must have been from a second e-mail, sent in response to some information I'd found online after receiving his first one, with the URL to the image. I had thought this excerpt, which was all I was able to find in my notes, was from Jeff's initial e-mail. Then again, "Sent along a file" (i.e., a URL) sounds like "I have sent along a file with this e-mail"--as opposed to "I sent along a file in the earlier e-mail I sent you," which I would already know. In any case, I am certain (and this agrees with Jeff's comments) that the only thing he sent me, in his initial e-mail, was the link to the image page. If this was, indeed, from the first one, I have no idea where he got "sense of humor" and "anti-slavery" from. I see that the list of Jewett's social circle Jeff found it in, which included Mathew (at the bottom) has been removed from the Text Project website, perhaps in the most recent revision in April of this year.
So the theory that I went looking for a matching figure in history, is just that--a theory--and it is plausible enough at first glance, but it doesn't hold water upon honest investigation. That's not, actually, what happened. And for the matter of that, what if I had gone looking for it? So long as I actually found it, and could prove it was me in the 19th century, that's what matters. The earlier statement would still be valid as evidence of past-life memory. (For this, you would have to read the book.)
The only logical explanation that I can see, is that I was, in fact, dimly remembering Mathew's rather unique, "tag-along" relationship with the prominent writers of the 19th century, two years before I discovered him, accidentally. Given, of course, that there may, in fact, be no accidents.
Note, also, that there is little of self-aggrandizement in my past-life memory, as stated. Where I express misgivings about the Romantic philosophy, I am speaking of idealism and Nature worship.
Other than sheer denial, I am really not sure why Dr. Tucker couldn't see how strong this piece of evidence is. Either he did instantly adopt the speculation that I had gone looking for what I had earlier described--which is not true, and which, with a few questions, he could have quickly ascertained was not correct--or he dismissed it because he is that cynical about my study as a whole. I know that the study, taken as a whole, proves the match 20 times over. But since he can't be bothered to take time out to read it, he doesn't know that. I told him that this piece of evidence stands on the study having proven the match as a whole. In that sense, perhaps, it is a Catch-22. But just this much should be suggestive enough that the study merits further serious investigation.
Abby gave me the distinct impression, whenever I was eager to send Dr. Tucker the latest version of the book (secretly hoping that he might someday express an interest in it), "Don't bother with him, let him go, he isn't receptive."
She was right, again. One should always listen to one's better half.
Elmer P. Dowd, M.S.
Music opening this page: "The Historical Bum," sung by
The Chad Mitchel Trio, from the album, "At the Bitter End"