This morning I wrap up my series of reporting on a research "expedition" examining periodicals that I submitted work to, in the 19th century, as author Mathew Franklin Whittier. Yesterday, I received the last batch of photographed pages from the journals, sent to me by the researcher I had hired. I won't recap the entire thing from yesterday's entry, but my researcher found a total of eight letters to the editor, in the Dover, New Hampshire "Enquirer" of late 1837, written by Mathew and his wife, Abby, defending the Abolitionist stance against a pro-slavery writer--perhaps, connected with Andover College--signing himself as "Alpha & Beta." The first of these letters simply introduces the "Declaration of the Anti Slavery Convention, assembled at Philadelphia, December 4, 1833." That, because "Alpha & Beta" has maliciously misrepresented the Abolitionist position, so Mathew feels the place to start is to make this document available to the readers.
One of the entries is signed as the subject of discussion, the slave "Onesimus" who is mentioned in the New Testament in connection with St. Paul. As near as I can tell, Mathew and Abby had already completed their series of rebuttals to "Alpha & Beta's" 10-piece diatribe, but had omitted responding to his lettter No. 6, because in their estimatation, it wasn't worth answering. The editor, however, requested that they do so, and Mathew wrote this one himself. Not wanting to misrepresent the piece as a collaboration, he chose this signature ironically. Nonetheless, his authorship is strongly suggested (aside from style considerations), because it opens with a quote from his brother, poet John Greenleaf Whittier.*
In my estimation, this series is almost certainly written by Mathew and Abby; and I have already discussed the startling piece of evidence, a phrase re-used from what is supposed to be Rev. David Root's 1836 sermon--which I believe Mathew had ghost-written.
In this last research expedition, my researcher snagged, at my request, some of the pro-slavery letters to which "Kappa, Lambda & Mu" (presumably, Abby, Mathew and their son, Joseph) were responding. On the pages he photographed, we see that in addition to "Alpha & Beta," another pro-slavery writer calling himself "A. Layman" has been chiming in. "A. Layman's" modus operandi is to make outrageous, false charges against the Abolitionist camp, as for example that they promote violent slave uprisings, or that they advocate silencing all preachers who disagree with their views. But he takes a long, long time to get around to these assertions, because before he does, he must defend himself against every charge made by every Abolitionist against him in the paper. His language is erudite, obfuscating and essentially meaningless.
"Alpha & Beta," on the other hand, cuts immediately to the chase with his preposterous lies. He starts out sounding anti-slavery, but then accuses the Abolitionists, whom he views as radicals, with knowing nothing about principles, nor having ever considered them.
This, of course, makes Mathew see red, so he makes it very clear that Abolitionists are the ones who proceed from principles, and that such as "Alpha & Beta," who advocate some kind of gradual change which never happens--while unspeakable outrages are being perpetrated daily on Americans who happen to have a dark complexion--are nothing but hypocrites.
"A. Layman" references earlier-expressed opinions by both Rev. Root, and "Kappa, Lambda & Mu." So there are anti-slavery letters from Mathew and Abby prior to the period I had directed my researcher to, and, presumably, Rev. Root has also been weighing in under his own name. That means "K,L&M" are not, in fact, Rev. Root. That, in turn, means that he did not re-use the phrase I copied in the previous entry; which means that either a) someone else plagiarized it from him, or b) Mathew ghost wrote that 1836 sermon, as I have felt.
Unfortunately, I'm tapped out financially. Unless I can find a way to access the earlier editions of this paper digitally, I will have to leave the matter there, for the time-being. Very frustrating--but always another mountain appears in the distance, when you have scaled the current one. Unless, of course, someone with deeper pockets wishes to donate the funds. It would probably cost another $175 or so to go deeper into the earlier editions of that volume. Whereas I did receive a few donations to produce my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America," I have never received any donations (except in-kind, for research services) from anyone for this project. But I suppose there is always a first time for everything.
While my researcher was in the library, I had asked him to snag the first part of a two-part essay on how to interpret St. Paul--essentially, a defense of him, without any mention of who had criticized him. Today, I think Paul was a fraud, and perhaps even an inside operative of the Pharisees, intended to sow discord and division among the ranks of the early Christians. Perhaps Abby was of this opinion, and they had disagreed between themselves, sparking the essay. In any case, I had stumbled across the physical edition of Dec. 8, 1838, which holds the second part of the essay. Viewing it in the blurry photograph on Ebay, I could discern that it was Mathew's debate style, and it seemed to be signed "P.," which was a pseudonym Mathew had used in the past. I bought it, and subsequently learned it was actually signed "F.," which is definitely a signature he used (his middle initial, for Franklin). I also saw that it was signed from Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, which is about 16 miles from his and Abby's hometown of East Haverhill, Mass. I knew that, after their 11-month-old son had died in a scarlet fever epidemic that August (in nearby Amesbury Mills), they had probably been moving around, staying with various members of the Whittier extended family. Mathew's mother's people came from Hampton Falls; and very likely there were relatives living there. So all that to say, that this is almost certainly Mathew Franklin Whittier.
As it happens, my researcher was intent on something he thought might be Mathew's writing (which probably wasn't), and accidentally caught a photograph of the page on which the first part of the essay resides, without ever having noticed it. Maddeningly, he didn't get it all, but there is enough to see that he had started out giving the context for Paul's ministry, as regards the existing split between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. Mathew opines that Paul realized that Jesus's teachings had to be set apart from the Jewish tradition, if it wasn't to be assimilated back into it; but really-speaking, I think that Paul actually introduced Pharisee teachings (like the resurrection of the dead, replacing reincarnation), while inflaming the existing schism. No matter. This is, indeed, Mathew's writing. He will bring in St. Paul later on, when he defends Spiritualism, with the same eloquence.
In this same edition, Dec. 1, 1838, my research also found a poem entitled, simply, "Religion." It is signed "A.R.P." Abby's maiden initials, as she used them at the time of her and Mathew's marriage, were "A.R.P.," for Abby Rochemont Poyen. She had been born Abby Weld Poyen; "Rochemont" was, apparently, part of her extended French family name, Abby Rochemont de Poyen. It appears that she was named for one Abigail Weld, who, with her husband, Dr. Elias Weld, lived across the street in what is known as the "Countess House" in East Haverhill. Why Abby changed her middle name is unknown. My guess is that Mrs. Weld may have been pro-slavery; or may have otherwise offended Abby to such a degree, that she didn't want to be named after her. In fact, I have felt, dimly, from Abby, that she experimented with her name quite a bit as a young lady, say in her pre-teens or early teens. Perhaps in this experimentation process, she retained "Rochement" as her new middle name.
I don't know whether Abby would have used her maiden initials because she had written the poem prior to her marriage; as a literary identity (a common practice now, but I don't know about the 1830's); or to retain her anonymity without resorting to clownish pseudonyms. In any case, this poem appears in the same edition as an essay that I am 99.9% certain was written by Mathew, which seals it as the one poem I can assert definitely comes from Abby's pen. As such, it provides us a gauge of both her writing style, and her spirituality.
This is Abby's poem, "Religion.":
From hallowed shrines let fragrant incense rise,
In wreathing volumes to the azure skies,
And speak the grateful homage of the soul,
When man would own his Makerís high control.
But costly spices on the marble mound,
Or perfume scattered on the humbler ground,
Or prostrate heads, or bended knees alone,
Find no acceptance at the heavenly throne.
ĎT is the pure heart, devoted and sincere,
Bowing in grateful love and holy fear,
The upturned eye, and the imploring gaze,
The heart-felt prayer, and joyous songs of praise:
ĎTis the firm faith, and actions free from guile,
The mind exempt from thoughts which may defile,
The strict obedience to our Makerís laws,
That prove the votíry of Religionís cause.
If you are a follower of Meher Baba, as I am (I know that at least one reads this blog occasionally), you will recognize that what she expresses, here, is quite similar to what he has said on this subject--that God listens only to the language of the heart, not to any amount of rituals and ceremonies. In fact, this poem would sit nicely in any assembled group of Baba's followers. I have had glimpses of Abby's spirituality, which I can be certain are of her, in some of Mathew's poetic tributes to her. And I have several poems and short stories which I believe, but cannot absolutely prove, were written by her, published posthumously (perhaps with some editing, by either Mathew or the persons who claimed the work for themselves). But this is the first piece of writing, other than one letter preserved in a historical library, which I can say with confidence was written by Abby, and which remains pristine and unedited.
It fits precisely with my understanding of her, and what I have gleaned from two different mediums who contacted her for me back in 2010. Abby was both deeply spiritual, and advanced. She had not only studied esoteric teachings, including, apparently, Hermeticism, alchemy, the Kabalah, and the Catholic saints (her family would have been officially Catholic); she was, herself, deeply devotional. I believe she was Christian, but not exclusively so. You see, for example, that her devotion here pertains directly to God, rather than to Jesus. This, when you think about it, is a bit unusual. Theologians talk about God; devotional people talk about Jesus--Old Testament scholars talk about God as a feared ruler and administrator of justice--but not so often does a devotional person direct their devotion directly to God. And there is no mention of Christianity here--the poem could apply to any religion. Thus you see that Abby's poem will not be objected to by a wider audience, and yet, it provides hints that the writer is far more advanced in her thinking.
That is the researcher in me, talking. What I feel about this poem personally, is another matter. Abby was the sort of person who was so fixed on God, and on heaven, that her lover felt a bit left-out. He (I) tried my very best not to feel slighted, and to champion and support her spiritual quest. But it is my understanding that after she passed--which she let happen to her, in true Victorian bravery and self-denial--she immediately realized her mistake. Spirituality is about love, not about heaven--and love was where her partner and soul-mate was. This, in case you're wondering, is why she and I are "getting it right" this time, by reaching for each other across the Great Divide and continuing our marriage in this awkward fashion. That I do it publicly is to help grieving soul-mates, to show them that there is another option besides the current materialistic maxim of "moving on with your life." I do it not for self-aggrandizement, or because I am a deluded megalomaniac, as people may wrongly conclude. I expose myself to ridicule to help certain people who are suffering terribly, and in their particular case, as soul-mates, needlessly, because of the brainwashing they have been subject to at the hands of an ignorant, materialistic society.
Abby was very advanced in her studies, while on earth. Her understanding is even keener and broader, now, while she is residing in the astral realm. If you have "ears to hear" and "eyes to see," you can see it clearly in her channeled journal. I don't write that in the usual sense. I tune in to her presence, offer to let her give me bursts of thought in my subconscious mind, and then, in that state, write stream-of-consciousness. Unlike this blog, I barely edit what I channel from her, at all. You will, for example, see redundancies in her journal, which I edit out a little bit, on occasion, but not as thoroughly as I do in this blog. There's also a tendency, in that journal, to go off on a tangent, because of the way it's written. I might have Abby say--as I write in-character--that there are three aspects to something, but then I never get around to the second and third aspects. From this, you know that I am doing exactly what I say I'm doing, i.e., writing in-character, stream of consciousness, as I try to be receptive to whatever I feel Abby may be prompting me to say.
Anyway, that's the end of this round of research, presented to you, as I promsied, in real time. Nothing held back, nothing white-washed. It was very expensive, for me, but it was worth it. I have several high-level anti-slavery essays co-authored by Mathew and Abby; I have a bit of real evidence that Mathew actually did ghost write that 1836 sermon attributed to Rev. David Root, as I had speculated and felt; I have a very, very personal glimpse into Mathew's love for Abby (as well as some of their domestic difficulties); and I have the very first poem by Abby which I can confidently assert is her own work.
Not a bad haul.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Another anti-slavery writer, signing as "Hamden," shows up during the period when Mathew and Abby's first child, Joseph (aka "Mu") was born, while "Kappa, Lambda & Mu" apparently take a break.
Music opening this page: "The Wedding Song" by Noel Paul Stookey,
from the album, "Paul and"