I was finally able to contact the Portland Public Works archivist, and explain my query to him about the nearby hill. I want to know when the top of it was shaved off, so that the road going up it wasn't so steep. Unfortunately, I had to tell a "technical truth," i.e., a half-truth. He asked what it was in regards to, and I had to say that "there was a historical record" as opposed to "I had a past-life memory." Obviously, had I done the latter, it would all have stopped, there. He couldn't find the answer on the phone, and said he would have to look through a lot of maps and call me back. That was a couple of days ago. I'm still trying to figure out what to say if he finds the information, and then wants a copy of the "historical record" for his archives. I suppose I might tell him the truth at that point, but likely I would receive a choice volley of abuse, in the classic New England accent.
I am still on-hold for my recent radio interview to be posted. It's a weekly, pre-recorded show, and apparently there is a backlog. Thus, depending on how many they already have under their belt, I have no idea when my show might go live.
But in the meantime, I found something else. I have some 94 saved searches on Ebay, and one of them has to do with abolitionism. Up came a rare 1836 abolitionist newspaper called "Human Rights." It was published in New York, though I had never heard of it. Apparently, it's so rare that the seller slapped a price of $800 on it! Unheard of. Even William Lloyd Garrison's "Liberator" doesn't go for more than $450 or so, tops. Usually less. I got one that has a reprint from Mathew's own paper, in 1838, for $98.
Fortunately, the seller provided a photograph of all four pages, including the back page where one sees a story entitled "Scene in a Country Parlor." The unsigned piece is indicated to have been reprinted from the "Herald of Freedom," another anti-slavery paper. This is the March, 1836 edition of "Human Rights." In 1836, Mathew appears to have been back home in his native Haverhill, Mass., or perhaps in nearby Amesbury. He and Abby, his true love and long-time sweetheart, would elope in August of 1836, to Dover, New Hampshire. The "Herald of Freedom" was published in Concord, New Hampshire, about 40 miles from Dover, and about 45 miles from Haverhill. This, in my opinion, is undoubtedly Mathew Franklin Whittier's work. It has his mark all over it. Besides, there weren't very many people writing in this style, with this much talent, specifically for the anti-slavery papers. I have anti-slavery work written by Mathew from this era--and in 1838, he would launch his own paper, some articles of which would be reprinted (as said) in the "Liberator." So this is Mathew. I wrote the seller, apprising him of this information, and he hasn't written back. Perhaps he doesn't believe me. I didn't expect him to advertise it--I just thought he might want to tell whoever buys it. I certainly can't put out $800 for one newspaper, especially when I have hundreds of pieces like this by Mathew.
If it was $20, or even $50, I certainly would have added it to my collection. Not $800. Then again, people can ask anything on Ebay. I'll be curious to see whether he actually gets it.
Here is the original photographed image from the Ebay listing. It's high-resolution, so it may take awhile to load. I had trouble creating a version that was readable, as the seller didn't photograph the page with archiving in mind. If you can't read that one, here's the original jpeg file.
You will note that there is a brief "dialogue" immediately above the one I'm referencing, entitled "Dialogue: Between a master and hsi slave, on Independence Morning," reprinted from the Vermont "Telegraph." This, also, is plausibly Mathew's work, if he had sent both clippings to the editor of "Human Rights," as he was wont to do. The "Dialogue" is actually a poem, and it is consistent with his preferred style (as is "The Raven," claimed by Poe, and "The Lost Bower" and "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," claimed by Elizabeth Barrett, all of which Mathew also wrote).
I don't know whether I need to point out the clues in "Country Parlor" which all but prove Mathew's authorship, or not. We see cartoonish names representing the various characters; we see a Deacon prominently featured; we see a clever, ironic exposure of hypocrisy. The important points regarding slavery are sarcastically brought out. The characters drink hard cider, within sight of the anti-slavery prayer meeting. The atheistic lawyer finds that he and the reverend are in complete agreement on slavery (because the reverend is abandoning his religious principles thereby). This is how Mathew's higher mind works, and mine is precisely the same, so I recognize it and remember it in a way I find difficult to describe. I recognize Mathew's signature in his creative mental processes, is the best I could say it.
Past-life memory also tells me that there is one line suggested by Abby. I seem to remember--and there is confirmation in one of her own stories--that she would listen quietly, but then when she spoke, even a few words, those words would have tremendous power. With wry humor, she would cut through any confusion and "nail" it. So here, it is brought out that the Southern churches, who own slaves, are renting out those slaves--who are also members of the church--to raise money. The minister's wife remarks, "Bless me!--however it is very convenient to have a permanent salary." You will also note the word "phiz" for face--one of Mathew's pet terms.
This is not a great discovery. It fits in very nicely with the evidence I already have. I treat it precisely as I treat those attributions which people think I am a megalomaniac for suggesting, like Mathew and Abby's authorship of "A Christmas Carol." I can make a strong case for this one, and I can make a strong case for that one. This one, having no particular implications or consequences, a historian might grant me. This is an orphan--nobody wants it. (Except that the paper it is reprinted in costs $800!)
When the radio show is posted, I'll make an announcement; and if I hear definitely from the archivist at Portland Public Works, I'll make a note of that here, as well. From what he said, it sounds like it's very unlikely that the hill was shaved before 1838/39, when Mathew and Abby would have ridden over it. More likely, it was done around 1902, when portions of that road were re-routed. Only if I find that the road was re-routed over the hill, will I have a problem with my memory. I can't imagine they would re-route a major road over a tall hill, such that they then had to shave the top of it to make it navigable. Far more likely, as he said, they were straightening it--and in the process, the decided to "straighten it vertically" over that hill.
As for the idea that I saw it ahead of time, and "manufactured" the memory to fit that subconscious thought, the expert, himself, couldn't see it on Google Street View at first. Finally, after a 5-10 minute conversation, he could see it and conceded the point. So I seriously doubt I subconsciously created a false past-life memory to fit with something I had seen, driving, in my peripheral vision.
I remember the feeling very clearly. Imagine you and your sweetie are, say, rafting through some rapids, and you see a section of rough water, and nervously laugh and joke with each other about it--"Whoa, hang on, here we go..." It was like that, every time we went out to the country, not very far from our house in Portland, proper. It became a sort of ritual--the big hurdle we had to get past in order to have our day together. It's because it was a sort of ritual, that I remembered it--what you might call "couple's history." That's what it feels like.
We had so few happy months together, before some tragedy or other struck us, during that brief marriage. But that period was one of them.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. One thing leads to another--and so the dialogues in "Human Rights," reprinted from the "Herald of Freedom," led me to the Vermont "Telegraph." That led me, this morning, to a series of Abby's poems, written for the "Telegraph," in the months leading up to Mathew and Abby's marriage in early August of 1836. One can even see, reflected in her mood, the point at which she accepted; and then, the point when her father failed to give permission. The poems are clearly in her known style, and some of them are really excellent. However, I'm not going to reproduce them, here. This is a public (i.e., published) marker as to when I found them. If you want to see them, they are now reproduced, in whole and/or in part, in my sequel. Note the way I found them--had someone not posted a period newspaper on Ebay for $800, I never would have traced the citations back to this unseen body of Abby's poetry...
Music opening this page, "That's the Way it Ought to Be," by Gove Scrivenor,
from the album, "Heavy Cowboy"