I've processed the few creative works that a young Mathew Franklin Whittier (myself in the 19th century, for any newcomers) published in the 1829 Boston "Courier." It appears that he was working in a clerical capacity for this paper as a 16/17-year-old; while his supervisor was probably the associate editor, the editor's son Edwin, who was only two years older. I would guess that Mathew put together the ads, or set type, or things of that nature.* This was a daily--its sister publication, a weekly newspaper called the "Galaxy," was the repository for almost all of Mathew's early creative work. But I did find a couple of them, through my researcher, in this one. She had instructions to "scan," so there might have been a few more.
One very interesting conclusion I can pull out of one of these pieces, is an increased likelihood that Mathew, as a teenager, was personal friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who attended Harvard and was three years Mathew's senior. I have Mathew's assertion in 1851 that they were personal friends, then. I have some of Holmes' poetry that appears in an 1834/35 New York newspaper, for which Mathew was the acting associate editor (and hence would choose them--along with his older brother's poetry--for the paper). But now I have yet another indicator.
What I'm looking for, are discoveries which would push that friendship back from 1851, where I know it existed, to before 1842--as far before it as possible. Why? Because Charles Dickens visited Boston in 1842, and Oliver Wendell Holmes was one of the young literati around him. If Mathew was--and had been for some years--personal friends with Holmes in 1842, he would have been invited along. Mathew had been publishing in newspapers since 1829, for 13 years. His daughter once remarked that he was a "brilliant conversationalist." There are indications in the historical record that he met with Victor Hugo, William Makepeace Thackeray, and British poet Samuel Rogers. So if he and Holmes were long-time friends in 1842, it is almost inevitable that he would have been invited along, and would have been one of the unnamed young men around Dickens, in Boston. Keep in mind that Mathew was the senior writer, having begun his newspaper career in 1829, while Dickens began publishing in newspapers, as I read the history, in 1834.
There is also a record of Dickens having received a letter from Mathew--the acknowledgement letter is listed in Dickens' correspondence.
All that, to make more plausible my feeling--stated before I had done any research into this matter at all--that Mathew played some role in the writing of "A Christmas Carol." I stated that in year 2006, in this very blog, totally out-of-the-blue. I felt it, and I recorded it.
So, what did I find in the "Courier"? Well, a part of me would like to really present it point-for-point, the way I added it to the book today...but perhaps not. If you enjoy this blog, sooner or later it is going to occur to you that the book is way better. (Now I know what music I'll have to open this page with.) But I can describe it in summary. I will start with some background.
It is late August, and the students of Harvard are graduating. Phi Beta Kappa has a graduation ceremony, and they invite a popular poet, Charles Sprague, who is known as the "Poet Banker." He specializes in long poems for special occasions, and this time he reads one entitled "Curiosity." You can look it up--I stopped counting the lines after a couple hundred, but I guestimated it is probably a thousand-line poem. It's religiously conservative--Eve got in trouble due to curiosity, and the rest of us have been ruining our lives ever since for the same cause.** That means that Mathew would not have been so drawn to the philosophy of the poem--but my gut reaction is, it is really, really, really good. It is, in short, a brilliant execution, a work of genius, whether you agree with the poet's take on life, or not. And an older portrait of Sprague, in profile, seems familiar to me. This is a tell-tale sign that Mathew knew him personally.
So far, so good. Now, the day after the graduation ceremony, the editor of a Boston paper called the "Gazette" apparently published a very lukewarm review. While I haven't read the original, I gather from Mathew's rebuttal that he damned it with faint praise. It would be like someone going to a Who concert, and saying, "Yeah, I saw them. It was too loud, and went on too long, but they were okay. If they ever release an album, and I could get it on sale, I'd definitely buy it."
Mathew is 17 years old, and a fiery, angry young man, with a very sharp intellect and a tongue to match. He blasts this editor like nobody's business, and he signs it with an asterisk, i.e., a star. This is the earliest example of Mathew using this signature that I have ever found. I had figured out it was his some years ago, studying his work in the 1850's, and gradually I kept pushing it back and back, until recently I found it in 1831. But here it is in 1829! Where did he get the idea for that? His future wife, four years younger, and the baby sister of one of his friends, has agreed to tutor him. But she is not only tutoring him in French, and the Greek classics, and history--she is taking it upon herself to teach him metaphysics, including Heremeticism. And he, being skeptical of anything that smacks, to him, of superstition, is taking it with a big grain of salt, to the point of actually ridiculing it at times. So the previous month he has used the pseudonym "Trismegistus" (i.e., Hermes) in a mocking way; now he uses the "star." Abby apparently believes that stars are living souls in heaven, or that they are living beings, or something along that line. Probably she will revisit some of these teachings when she is older, but now she is only 13 years old. Both of these young people are prodigies. Their match was made in heaven (whether you take that literally or figuratively). So she probably assigned a star to Mathew, and he uses it here, in August of 1829, in a light-hearted way. Many years later, after her death, he will use it as a tribute to her.
So we have his trademark signature; and it is right-down-the-line his style. There is no question who the author is, in my opinion.
Now we come to the interesting part. Oliver Wendell Holmes graduated from Harvard in 1829, and he was a Phi Beta Kappa. That means he was present for this poetry reading.
Because Mathew defends Charles Sprague's reading so vigorously, we can assume that either 1) he was defending the subject-matter; or 2) he was defending the poem, and in particular the reading, itself. Because he would not have resonated especially with the theme, it has to be the latter. That means that Mathew was also attending this event.
He could have been there as a reporter for the "Courier"; or, he could have been there by invitation. But more likely the latter, because my researcher didn't see his report of the reading in the Courier (admittedly, it may be there and she may have missed it). If Mathew was invited, the most likely person to have invited him is Oliver Wendell Holmes.
My research is made up of these "bits." Each puzzle piece fits into several others, to make the whole. This is why I tell people you cannot pronounce my study bogus, unless you read the entire thing. You can pay $12.00 and cherry-pick it at random, and find a great deal of fascinating stuff; but unless you read it through, you haven't seen how a preponderance of the evidence is mutually-supporting.
Now, the word "preponderance" sounds rather like "ponderous." Did you notice that? It's a bad choice of words, if I was writing ad copy. But for a book that's well over 2,000 pages long, this one is as unponderous as it gets. (If that wasn't a word before, it is now, as I have just coined it.) That's why you can enjoy it by just randomly selecting a subtopic heading and reading the 10 or 12 pages under that heading. If you have the timeline for Mathew's life in front of you, as well as the timeline for my research discoveries, you can join the book at just about any point, and it will make sense.
I would say that it is worth far more than $12.00 just to cherry-pick it in this way. That might be what I would do, if it wasn't my own past life, and I wasn't deeply invested in either proving or disproving reincarnation. I might pick sections at random for awhile, until I realized that it was so good, that I might as well back up and start from scratch. At that point I'd immerse myself in it, the way some people like to do in a long novel. This book, if you gave it a chance, has that potential for the motivated reader. But first you would have to get past your own prejudices. And I don't only mean prejudices against reincarnation. I mean prejudices against e-books, and long books, and historical biographies, and other such objections.
I have read of people who wouldn't read Tolkien's books, because they "didn't like elves." You can't do anything for a person who doesn't like elves. But most other people, even if they had some vague objection to what they thought Tolkien's work was, would find it fascinating once they immersed themselves in his world.
My book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," is the same way. I never include a "call to action" in this blog; but I also like to keep doing things I've never done, before. So, stop reading this blog, which I slap together stream-of-consciousness, and in which I talk about my findings; immerse yourself in my book, in my past-life world and my present-day research, and see what it is I keep talking about here.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*I worked as a typesetter from 1985-1990, starting at the office of the "Flambeau," the Florida State University newspaper, but in that branch which offered services to the public. This was many years before I began work on my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America." I discovered my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier in 2005. And no, I didn't choose a past life to match with my previous employment history. I didn't even confirm that Mathew had ever worked for a newspaper until several years into the study. It is not found anywhere in the official Whittier legacy, that I'm aware of.
**It occurs to me this is a very strange poem to read at a Harvard graduation ceremony--almost as though Sprague was expressing cynicism toward the very purpose of the university, itself. Or perhaps, like my book, you have to read the whole thing.
Music opening this page, Ravi Shankar performing at the Concert for Bangladesh