After I write an Update with a lot of didactic information, sometimes I feel like just sharing, more from-the-hip. Here--this seems like a very innocuous little piece, taken from an 1838 newspaper:
I just paid roughly $100 for the newspaper it appears in--why?
This comes from "The Liberator," which was William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper, out of Boston. They're getting pricey, and this is an older one. It was put on Ebay for $29.99, and sat there at that price the entire seven days. At five seconds to closing, two different buyers tried to "snipe" it at about $75, and about $98, respectively. But I had bid much higher. After several years of buying antiquarian materials related to my past life on Ebay, I know how to do it. Forget all the sniping business. You get out in front with your highest possible bid, and you let it sit there. Experienced buyers will try to "walk" it up to get ahead of you, so they know where they are; but less experienced buyers will try to out-guess you in the last five seconds. If you have a ridiculously high bid on it, they will likely underestimate you.
Also, I could care less about market value. This was personal. So of course they couldn't know that.
In the legacy of John Greenleaf Whittier, the famous New England poet, his younger brother, Mathew, is quite severely marginalized. Nobody ever bothered to mention that in 1838, for the first few months, he tried to launch his own newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor," in Salisbury Mills, Mass. It was openly Abolitionist, and also pro-Spiritualism; and on both counts, he and his like-minded young wife, Abby, were shunned, such that the paper had to fold after a run of only about four months. But during that time, Mathew would have sent gratis copies to William Lloyd Garrison--who had given his brother his start in the literary field--and Garrison saw fit to reprint at least two of his articles. This is one of them.
Mathew went on to report on lectures, given by progressive speakers and reformers, for the next 37 years.* But here, he is just starting out. Very soon (if he hadn't already), he would learn a phonetic short-hand, and become adept at transcribing such talks verbatim. At this point, he probably wasn't proficient at it, yet. But this was his start.
That newspaper, the Salisbury "Monitor," is so obscure, that only one bound copy of it appears to exist. That one showed up on Ebay several years ago for about $100, and then resold at a major auction house for about $7,000. It has now gone into hiding. I am told it was probably purchased by a private buyer, i.e., not a library, college or other institution. It may never surface again in my lifetime--and I think this is grossly unethical. My reasoning is that people can own physical copies of history--but they should not be allowed to own the history, itself. Suppose an early version, or an alternate version, of the United States Constitution should surface, and someone buys it privately. Should they be allowed to squirrel it away, such that nobody else is permitted to access the content?
But of course the "Monitor" is of no particular importance to anybody except me. And I have no "pull." So no law will be passed forcing such a person to at least make the contents available to researchers. But it is one of those things which should have a law to address it, if people are so selfish as to try to "own" American history.
I did my absolute best to try to track down the buyer, making inquiries through the auction house, talking to two people who had seen it personally, offering money for copies, etc., all to no avail. But there is this silver lining to the cloud--if, when it surfaces someday--perhaps after my passing--it contains information which proves my past-life memories and impressions, then we know with 100% certainty that I could not possibly have seen that.
In this lifetime, I spent some years videotaping speeches. I was connected informally with the Georgia Speakers Association. It appears I was repeating a karmic pattern. Isn't that interesting, that karma is that literal? Because transcribing and reporting lyceum talks, is the subjective, 19th-century equivalent of what I did as a videographer.
I also think it's interesting that where this publication is concerned, I wasn't skunked. I obtained just enough information about it to be able to present it nicely in my book. After all, suppose you have 90 examples, and then you draw four from that for a book you're writing. In my case, with a great deal of ingenuity, I was able to obtain four examples. But the end result, for the reader, is the same.
The auction house reproduced the front pages of two issues. Then, I was able to find, through an online genealogy service, three more articles either reprinted, as this one was, or responded to, in other newspapers published at the same time. Finally, I was able to take one of those sample front pages on the auction house website, and look through to the second page, with a graphics program. The ink had been particularly heavy for that page, so I intensified the contrast, rendered it as black and white, and created a mirror image. Where another author's poem was quoted, as an opening, I was able to Google the lines and come up with the entire quote; and I could decipher at least the first paragraph of text--again, enough for an example.
But I sure would like to get my hands on that volume. Anyway, as I've said once or twice in this blog, I have a feeling that someday there will be a small museum--about the size of an ordinary house, nothing ostentatious--presenting Mathew Franklin Whittier's legacy, and this project. A reprinted article in "The Liberator," taken from the Salisbury "Monitor," will fit in nicely.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*If I have my attribution right for the unsigned series which I believe was his, he reviewed lectures by such notables as Theodore Parker, James T. Fields, Bayard Taylor, John Gough, Horace Greeley, John Pierpont, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Farrar Browne, and Samuel Clemens.
Music opening this page: "Evinrude Fever," by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Europe Live"