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1/20/19
To very briefly recap, a few days ago, through a circuitous route of one clue leading to another, I found what I speculated might be Abby Poyen's poetry in an 1836 newspaper called the Vermont "Telegraph," signed with her first initial, "A." There were many clues suggesting her authorship (including that her mood, in these poems, seems to reflect events in her life at the time); and there were one or two possible contra-indications, which have loomed larger, for me, as I've thought about them.

Then, I discovered that an author signing "A." had written a series of short essays in defense of Universalism, which are grouped together on the front pages of a newspaper called the "Herald of Freedom and Gospel Witness," published by P.T. Barnum out of Bethel, Conn. in 1832/33. Despite some contra-indications for Abby's authorship of this series, I developed a fairly complicated explanation of how she might have come to write it. Then I discovered the definitive answer, which precludes my theory. Apparently, one Rev. L.F.W. Andrews had completed the first volume of his paper, the "Gospel Witness," when, running out of funds, it was taken over by P.T. Barnum, and renamed the "Herald of Freedom and Gospel Witness." At the same time, Barnum continued to publish the "Herald of Freedom." Rev. Andrews tells us that he will be signing, in this second volume, with the initial "A." So all of these essays are definitely his.

This now brings up the possibility that the "A."-signed poems, appearing in the Vermont "Telegraph" four years later, in 1836, were also Andrews', despite the fact that they seem to precisely reflect Abby's style and talent; and that they seem distinctly feminine. I now went on an online hunt for any indication that the poems were linked with Andrews; or, that he was in fact a poet. I found nothing at all--he does not seem to have written poetry. Rather, he published other people's poetry in his newspapers, and supported poets, but he doesn't seem to be linked with any poetry, himself.

Since he did publish, one assumes that if he wrote poetry this good, he would have published a compilation. But I could find none of these poems, searching on their interior lines on the internet. Thus, they probably were never published except in the "Telegraph," which they were originally written for.

Meanwhile, I am no-longer convinced that the "A."-signed poems in the 1836 Vermont "Telegraph" were Abby's, despite the fact that they evince a similar talent and style. One of them is too condescending to Native Americans; and in particular, it mentions the Indian soul flying into "eternal night." That's a poetic expression for eternal damnation, a belief which I'm sure Abby wouldn't have held. And, one of the poems suggests that the poet is an invalid. Abby could have been temporarily "laid out" after her father refused permission for her to marry Mathew--the timing would work--but then, another of the poems is written from Rutland, Vermont, about 15 miles south of where the "Telegraph" was published, in Brandon. If I posit that Abby was visiting a new friend in Rutland, at age 16, I am now making Occam's Razor protest too much; which is to say, it's feasible, but it's getting too complicated.

And that is as far as I can take the matter. I was somewhat suspicious of Abby's authorship of those essays, because if they were written by her, she would have to have been dumbing them down for Universalists. Her own understanding of theology and metaphysics would have been more advanced; and unless she had been hired to write for that publication, I think she, herself, would not have uncritically embraced all the tenets of Universalism.

That's the best I can do, without any distinct past-life memories arising which I could bring to bear on the question. Remember, if you expect me to prove my past-life case with 100% accurate memory, that I am actually like a man with severe amnesia. In ordinary waking consciousness, with all I have learned about the historical Mathew and Abby, still, I have very few full cognitive memories. Instead, with a few notable exceptions, I have feelings and hunches which can be influenced by whatever intellectual understanding I have at the time, and by the human inclination to defend my speculations and to make them internally consistent. But despite that tendency, which all of us have, my determination to get to the truth of things can override it when the evidence demands. I would only point out that all of what you see in my two books has been through this same acid bath, so what's left is pretty solid.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

 

Music opening this page, "Trademark," by Eric Johnson,
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