Last entry I promised I would keep my readers apprised of the progress in my latest round of research, in real time. It's Tuesday evening, and I'm exhausted as I always am at the end of a long caretaking day. But I'll try to fill you in briefly on what my researcher snagged in his last expedition yesterday, and sent me, this morning.
There were two sources I'd asked him to look through. The first was the local newspaper in the small town where Mathew Franklin Whittier, and his young wife, Abby, had eloped to in 1836. This was the following year, and some pro-slavery writer, or a pair of writers, calling themselves "Alpha & Beta," had written in to the editor of that paper giving their views. Mathew and Abby responded; and since their first child either had just been born, or (when the series first started) was just about to be born, they gave Greek letter names for the entire family: Kappa, Lambda, and Mu. In Abby's journal, she has already gone through the likely private meanings of all three letters (Mathew was big on secret coded meanings, and probably, he and Abby shared a delight in this, as well). Suffice it to say that I now have clear evidence that Mathew was an avowed abolitionist as early as 1837, and that he wrote eloquently in defense of the cause, and against slavery. I think there were five separate letters in this series--I have yet to type them up.* There is nothing so evidential in this, as far as proving my past-life memory impressions is concerned, except that I had a hunch that Mathew ghost wrote an 1836 anti-slavery sermon given by a local minister, and now, with this matching material, it looks entirely plausible that he did so. And at this time in his life, when he wrote something like this, undoubtedly Abby was co-authoring with him, at least in the sense of giving feedback and making suggestions.
Then, I was asking my researcher to go through another newspaper, this one in Portland, Maine, from the period after Abby had died of consumption. I believe I have already shared the first piece I found, a brief essay on death, which gives pretty-much the straight Spiritualist point of view. My researcher found four more, all poems. Two are signed with the same pseudonym as the essay (a single asterisk, which Mathew used off-and-on for his entire literary career); and two are unsigned. Mathew often wrote anonymously, especially when the subject was especially sensitive. This, of course, usually makes it impossible to prove 100% that they are, in fact, Mathew's work. But in this case, I think we are fairly safe in making an educated guess. Mathew's wife had died of consumption about a year and a half earlier. The two anonymous pieces show up just after the anniversary of his first marriage. I also know from multiple examples that Mathew was deeply cynical toward the medical profession.
So we'll start with the two anonymous pieces--and I'm only going to quote from one of the four, here. The first one is a long, rather disturbing poem--vaguely in the style of "The Raven"--about consumption, and a girl dying of same. It has the usual happy ending, in the sense of spiritual release into the other world. But it is rather graphic, and a bit macabre. It was my researcher, a semi-retired historian, who, knowing of my theory that Mathew actually wrote the original of "The Raven," picked it out, and described it in that way. This one actually has me a bit emotionally rattled. When I experience "past-life bleedthrough" of emotions, it doesn't come on all at once. It gradually seeps through, until an hour or two later, I realize I'm in a bad mood, or feeling off-balance, but I don't know why. Then I put two-and-two together. That happened this time.*
The second anonymous poem is a lampoon of medical doctors, or rather, one hypothetical representative of that profession. It's humorous in style, but it has teeth. Mathew is pissed. As said, it won't be the last time he lashes into them.
Now, as said, there are two signed with Mathew's asterisk. These, we definitely know are his. I won't go into the evidence for this being his personal pseudonym. It's the "star" that Abby assigned to him, representing his soul in heaven. It took me quite awhile to figure out that's what it signified. I was really dense about it. I don't know why. Sometimes, I just report these things as the Guinea pig I am.
One of them is the classic couple's issue, "What if I die first?" This is from Mathew's point of view, and he warns her that most guys won't really love her as he does, if she chooses to remarry. I don't know what discussion prompted this, if any. Mathew was very possessive, as I gather. I am the same way, temperamentally. He did not like the idea of her marrying anyone else; but really-speaking, he was right. Both were quite naive about relationships--they had hit a good one right out of the box. The irony is that she died first, he was unable to wait for her, and he ended up learning the hard way, that other women weren't going to love him as she had. (I continued learning this lesson in this life, as I continued unconsciously seeking her, and what I had with her, in a string of brief romantic disasters--until I found her still waiting for me, in the astral realm. So she did not, in fact, choose to be with anyone else after she passed, if our communication serves.)
Now comes the one I'm going to share. This is titled, "Why Art Thou Sad?" It was published August 17, 1842--almost a year and a half after Abby died, and almost five months after his arranged second marriage. But again, he and Abby had married (eloped, in fact) in early August, 1836. So Abby was on his mind. Almost certainly these poems were not written for, to, or about his second wife. So these have to be relics from the days when he and Abby were married, perhaps before they realized she had consumption. Or, conceivably this one I'm about to share could represent the moment in time when she realized she had consumption--as in, seeing blood on a handkerchief, which at that time was a death sentence--but had not yet shared it with him. Since I can't date when it was written, I can only guess as to the circumstances which prompted it. Maybe she had post-partum depression; maybe he was making bad business decisions, and wouldn't listen to her. Maybe he had hurt her feelings somehow, blundering about emotionally like men are wont to do. Perhaps, as an idealistic reformer, she had come to the bitter conclusion that the people she wanted to help would always reject and even villify her. More likely, however, based on the content, she was feeling jealous. I have earlier expressed the opinion--based in part on past-life impressions, and in part on what I feel Abby has communicated to me via thought-burst impressions--that Mathew liked to test his comic material on any audience. But sometimes, the audience was comprised of attractive young women, who were more intersted in him than in his jokes. It frightened Abby, because she had been told by some worldly-wise friend or mentor that men were helpless against womens' wiles. But Mathew insisted he was faithful (which he was), and he brushed off her insecurities--hence the crying.
That may be what we're seeing--myself, in the 19th century, as a Raymond-like ignoramus (as in "Everybody Loves Raymond"). I would never do that to her, today. Today, if she felt uncomfortable, even if it was irrational, I'm backing off to get to her comfort level, because her feelings are legitimate as feelings. But then, I hadn't figured this out (because I had not yet been on the receiving end of it).
Whatever's going on here, this one affected me, emotionally, as powerfully as the one about consumption. Even more so. It's the helpless feeling of your darling crying, and you have no idea why paradise has suddenly fallen apart, here.
If you're a guy, I'm sure you've been there...
It's my bed-time. I crash early, because my day is so exhausting, and then I get up early to try to get something done before I have to begin my caretaking duties. So I am going to reproduce this poem below, and call it a night. I apologize for any typos if you catch this the evening I posted it. I only had time to give it a proofreading once-over--I'll fine-tune it in the morning.
WHY ART THOU SAD?
Have I--O, have I spoke a word,
That caused thy heart to grieve?
O, tell me, dearest, hast thou known
Me ever to deceive?
Have I not been as kind to thee
As ever friend was kind?
And labored with solicitude
Thy sorrowing heart to bind?
My breast has been unsealed to thee,
Its contents thou hast known;
The secret whisperings of my soul
Were made to thee alone.
I've watched thee with unsleeping love,
Lest thou thy health destroy;
And shared with thee in all thy grief,
And thou hast shared my joy.
My thoughts have been engaged to know
What I could do for thee;
And O, to tell of all my love,
'Twould take eternity!
An hour--a moment doth not pass,
When thou are not in view,
When tenderly I do not wish
Thy welfare to pursue.
It is not I--it is not I--
Who bids thy tears to flow;
I do not make thy spirits sad,
And fill thy heart with woe.
Be cheerful then; thou hast a friend,
A faithful, changeless friend;
Whose love for thee can know no bounds;
Who'll love thee to the end.
Though others break their solemn vows,
Vile and ungrateful prove,
There's one unmoved by sophistry;
Dearest, he'll always love.
Then be not sad. God haste the day
When grief and sorrow flee--
When I shall be a heaven to thee,
Thou, paradise to me. *
Candace Zellner, the medium who first helped me contact Abby in 2010, remarked that Mathew and Abby had been soul-mates. This term is lightly thrown-around, and a skeptical reader may have simply shrugged it off, when I also claimed to remember such a deep bond. Here, at the very least, we have historical proof that this was the nature of their relationship.
There are a number of personal references embedded in this poem that I can recognize, but they aren't evidential as regards past-life memory, since I could know them simply from having studied Mathew's life in such depth. For example, that he tried to prevent her, in her reformist zeal, from risking her own health--and we see that he adoringly watched her sleeping, which is no surprise since we know he had insomnia, but I have always known this on some level. We know he kept his deeper feelings very much hidden; but here we see that he had let Abby into his heart, and shared his deepest self with her. He was, in fact, faithful to her, and honest; I simply think that Abby was terrified at what some meddlesome friend had told her, that men could not resist women, and she had better watch out for those hussies who gathered 'round her husband to listen to his tall-tales. (Worse yet, if my intuition serves, her friend convinced her that "all men cheat," and Abby, accepting it as fact, was devastated.) Would that I knew then what I know, today, and had made changes in my habits so as to accommodate her fears. One thing I know is, when you say "It's not my fault," you're missing it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S., 3/16/17: Upon re-read this morning, it suddenly became clear to me. I already have the impression that both of these attractive young lovers had a jealous streak; and that Abby, feeling insecure about herself, would retaliate to recapture Mathew's attention--if she felt she was losing it to other women--by making him jealous. Not by really doing anything, just by hints and such. So here, if my guess is correct, Mathew has been telling his tall tales to an audience of young woman, and he refuses to admit that there is anything wrong in it (because, for him, in his naivete, there isn't). Abby, having been given this fatalistic view of men's inability to withstand women's wiles, has let drop the hint--quite uncharacteristic for her, given her beliefs--that if he dies, she may decide to remarry! She knows, of course, that this will rattle him. Thus we have the two poems, as described.--S
*Eight, begun after "Alpha & Beta" had finished their series of 10.
**Subsequently, I Googled the lines of the poem, "Consumption," and found that it had been written by another poet and published a decade or so earlier. This makes sense, inasmuch as Mathew was using his asterisk pseudonym for the very few pieces he was submitting to this paper at the time. However, these poems are clustered around a two-month period after his and Abby's wedding anniversary. I have ample evidence that Mathew would send bits of other people's work that he especially resonated with, to the editor of papers he submitted his own work to. In this case, I would guess--though I cannot prove it--that he sent this poem to the editor, who then published it sans attribution, as editors often did in those days. I was not able to find any record of the unsigned lampoon of the medical profession, but on reflection, I think this one is probably a similar scenario--not Mathew's own work, but certainly expressing shared sentiments.
Music opening this page: "Don't Cry, Baby" by The Free Design,
from the album, "Sing For Very Important People"