If you want to follow this, you'll have to go back to the previous entry and read the P.S. comments after the signature, which begin on this date, 4/11.
I am just now back from the Portland Room at the Portland Public Library, where I was able to access the 1851 Portland "Transcript" on microfilm. And boy, am I in trouble.
I was expecting that "J.O.B." would end his travelogue with one or two more entries, and certainly before "Quails" (writing for the Boston "Weekly Museum") left for Europe on July 2, 1851.
Not only that, he started another series, which continued to be published on through the end of August, dated in July (from memory). Worse still, he wrote a poem to the memory of his late older sister, about how he would climb trees for her to see how the baby birds were doing when they were children. He signs this one from "Caanan," which presumably is Caanan, Maine. Then, he writes an entire entry about being back home in Caanan, and once again mentions his late sister.
Mathew had two sisters, an older and a younger, both of whom were quite alive as of 1851.
This would be "curtains" for my speculations that Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote both "Quails" and "J.O.B." (including, in 1856 and 1857, when the writer takes up another travel series)--except. You were, perhaps, expecting an "except." After all, I have written bravely that in order to be a genuine scientific theory, that theory must be "falsifiable." So haven't I disproved it?
I would say that I had, except that in 1856 and 1857, "J.O.B." pulls two respective identities out of the air. At the beginning of the first series, he is a college student taking a break from his studies. But a year later, in 1857, he is a married man with children. Those kids sure did grow up fast!
Which means, that whoever it is who writes "J.O.B.," makes up his identity--and very likely could make up other things, as well, including his home town and his personal history.
He could even post-date his entries. That would be very easy in this instance, because so far as I can see from a cursory perusal, there are no dated events (like county fairs, or elections) portrayed in this series. It is simply a string of descriptions of various towns and locales up the coast of Maine, and on into Canada. That means that Mathew could have taken this trip, written about all these locations, and simply post-dated the series, handing it to the editor before he left for Europe. The editor would have to be in on the ruse, of course.
"J.O.B.'s" offerings dry up in September, when Mathew, writing as "Quails," had been in Europe for a couple of months.
Now, other than additional income, why would Mathew do such a thing? Just looking at plausibility, for a minute, regarding him, personally.
So far as I can tell, he was, as I mentioned earlier, working as an agent for William Lloyd Garrison. He would make contacts, then report who he had contacted through his "Quails" travelogue. That was the "hot" one. Any other travelogues he wrote simultaneously, would have been to throw people off the track. "Quails," we know, met with Victor Hugo in Paris, for example. I would guess it was not simply a social call. If Mathew wanted to confuse those people on his heels, he might create a travelogue as "J.O.B.," and let slip that he was writing it. Meanwhile, "Quails" was said--by the editor of the "Weekly Museum" no less--to be written by entertainer Ossian Dodge. So Mathew could have been trying very hard to discourage anyone from knowing that he was writing "Quails"--so much so, that he would create another persona as a decoy, and have that character continue to "travel" up the coast of Maine well after "Quails" was in Europe.
There's another angle, here. Mathew's ex-wife, from his second marriage, Jane Vaughn, was from St. John. She would, apparently, frequently take the children home to her extended family. Mathew would have to travel all the way up there to see his kids; and when he got there, half the time she wouldn't let him see them. Or so I gather. He wrote more than one travelogue, going back to 1843, about this trip (excluding his family, i.e., as though he were single). He knew the route very well--and in fact, he could have written the entire "J.O.B." series, about all the towns and in-between locations, in his armchair, from memory, if he had wanted to.
The reason I suspect that he did just this, is because the two writers are so very, very close in style and idiosyncratic references. These, I will have to put into my second book. I won't come to any firm conclusions, because I can't. But I can present a ton of evidence which would convince any open-minded person to stay open-minded about it.
"Quails" used the phrase, "On the wing." J.O.B. uses this same phrase in 1851; and again in his opening in 1856. Nobody else used this, that I'm aware of. It may have been a colloquialism, but I don't think it was all that common. When I saw it in 1856, I took it as code, meaning that "J.O.B." had also been "Quails." Secondly, when Mathew visited Eastport, Maine, he spoke of it as the "jumping off point," and talked of hanging his feet over the edge. (It's the furthest east in the U.S.) So does J.O.B. Perhaps everybody did. But then there are the beautiful descriptions of how powerfully nature affected J.O.B., precisely as "Quails"--and Mathew Franklin Whittier--would write it. That's just scratching the surface. In my first book, I found so many parallels of style, subject and idiosyncratic references, that I gave up citing them all (and that's unusual for me). "Quails'" description of riding on a river boat, for example, is precisely in a parallel style to that used by J.O.B.
"Quails" would occasionally throw in a detail which flatly precludes him being Mathew, if one were to take it literally. I agonized over these in my book, until I found that Mathew actually advocated writing this way, i.e., throwing in a few contrary details to hide the author's identity.
So climbing out on the limb of a tree to spy on the baby birds for his late, older sister, could have actually been doing so for his living, younger sister--not in Caanan, Maine, but in Haverhill, Mass.
I'll give another example. When creating characters which reflect his history with his beloved first wife, Abby, he made the girl the same age, and the same build. But whereas Abby had auburn hair and a straight nose, he gave this girl blond hair and a pug nose. There are multiple examples. Tell the story more-or-less as it happened, but make a couple of details opposite from real life. When people run up against those details (myself included), they give up.
I still have to examine all of "J.O.B.'s" productions carefully, for any contra-indications, and also anything that specifically points to Mathew. Then I have to determine whether those contra-indications fall into the expected pattern, as just described, or not. I also have to tally up the "pro" indicators, and determine just how specific they are. Then, I will condense all this information for my second book, and simply "put it out there." Unless one or two of the "pro" indicators are so on-target that Mathew is definitely identified as the author, I have to leave the matter undecided.
For now, just remember this--in 1856, "J.O.B." goes on a long trip because he is a student living in an attic, who needs a break from his studies. But when he takes another trip in 1857, suddenly he has with him his wife and small children. That means that if "J.O.B." is inconsisent with "Quails," he will later be just as inconsistent with himself. In this particular case, if "J.O.B." was Mathew, he was probably traveling in 1856 for a trading company he had established at this time (there is a reference to this possibility in his biography); he may have been trying to relocate his family to Detroit--the other end of his run--as well. So there was just that much truth in it. In 1856, Mathew, the perpetual "student of life," who read prodigiously, probably did have a flat in an attic, given that he supported his second family separately. So there was just that much truth in that. Here, in 1851, Mathew had, actually, been up the Maine coast, not once, but many times, so that also was true to that extent.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
P.S. As self-serving as it may seem, as I begin to key in the remainder of these travelogue entries by "J.O.B.," intuitively I feel certain that this is Mathew Franklin Whittier, i.e., myself. I also feel certain of it based on having studied Mathew's other published works. I can only report this, however it may appear, given the evidence against it.
4/12/18 7:06 a.m.
I am in the process of keying in the second of the "J.O.B." travelogue installments which I obtained through the library yesterday. This series reads precisely like Mathew's previous accounts of this same trip from Portland to St. John. There are numerous parallels, including his liberal stance toward the Indians, and a lack of any hint of militarism when briefly touching upon the fort in Eastport (he only wryly mentions that there are 50 men, and two cannons). Mathew, who has been tutored by Abby in matters esoteric, while interviewing the Indians, reports that "They did not seem to be inclined to talk with us about the Great Spirit." In short, there is no question in my mind, so far, that my initial assessment was correct--and that, as unlikely (and self-serving) as it may seem, Mathew has prepared a travelogue series, presenting it to the editor of the Portland "Transcript," so that it can be published in series while he is writing as "Quails" for the Boston "Weekly Museum," oveseas--post-dating it as necessary, where dates are mentioned. And throwing the reader off the trail with a deliberate, spurious assertion of his supposed home town, and his late sister.
I'll report more detailed findings and conclusions when I finish keying in everything I obtained from the libary, which might be a couple days from now. If some of the photographs I took are too blurry to read (always a danger), I may have to go back to obtain good copies of those installments.
4/12/18, 11:12 a.m.
As I get into the second series, which begins in July (after "Quails" has left for Europe), there are several discrepancies. This looks like a second writer, to whom Mathew has handed off the pseudonym. Perhaps he has to fulfill a contract with the editor. Mathew typically uses the "royal we"; only occasionally, for certain pieces (including once for "Quails"), has he used first-person. In all of the roughly 1,200 examples of Mathew's published work, I may have found only one or two instances where Mathew has inadvertently mixed these two voices in the same piece. This writer, however, does it routinely per style. It is as though he is accustomed to writing first-person, but tries to remember to use the "royal we" on occasion. There are other differences--Mathew is deeply affected by Nature, but also has an interest in industrial progress. He is also, as I gather, something of a horse-whisperer, and is very tuned in to the issue of the treatment, or ill-treatment, of horses. I have several examples. This new writer, however, gives superficial lip service to Nature, in a trite way, invites the reader with him on a "ramble," but then spends most of his time talking about industry. He expresses no concern or compassion whatsoever for the horse used to turn the mill at the mine; nor does he touch upon the working conditions of the miners, briefly styling them, instead, as jovial, happy Welchmen. Mathew is a closet social reformer--he would not have bypassed this issue. Nor would he have focused so exclusively on industry. I am not finished keying in this second series, but I think he has, in fact, passed it to a substitute, so he can travel to Europe, writing as "Quails" for the Boston "Weekly Museum." This would also solve the question of being from Canaan, Maine, and of having a deceased sister; because all of these things come in with the second writer.
Intuitively, also, this second series doesn't quite feel like my past-life work. I have a sort of "echo of recognition" when I read Mathew's writing--I can't explain it better than that. I recognize having written it, on some deep level, in real time as I am reading it. I am not getting that sense, here. It is jarring, in that respect. Things are not expressed quite as my higher mind--that portion which I have determined remains the same from one incarnation to another--would have done. Finally, in this second series, "J.O.B." begins signing his initials in small letters. I don't know whether this has any significance, but it is atypical of both the character as he has formerly been signing, and of Mathew, as he signed dozens and dozens of his various pseudonyms.
4/12/18, 1:50 p.m.
Finally, in the second series, I found what I had been dreading to find in the first--a dated reference, coming after Mathew would have left by steamship for England on July 2nd. This is the second installment of the second series, published on July 26, 1851. Speaking of the town of Dexter, the writer reports:
The 5th of July last, they had a Common School Celebration, in whichi all the districts in the town were represented, the scholars attending with their teachers. Hon. E.M. Thurston, our worthy Secretary of the Board of Education, delivered, it is said, an excellent address to the scholars and parents
If Mathew Franklin Whittier were (as I have already established) writing as "Quails" for the Boston "Weekly Museum," he could not possibly have known about this obscure event in Dexter on the 5th of July. Therefore, "J.O.B.," at least in this second series, cannot be Mathew. However, this writer's work strikes me as comparatively boring, and he continues to revert to the first person voice "I," instead of sticking on all occasions with the "royal we," as Mathew would have done (and as he did, in the first series). I think that, being under contract to the paper (and such contracts were entered into for series like this), Mathew has simply subcontracted it out to a competent fellow-writer, who yet doesn't have Mathew's peculiar flair.
All of the discrepancies and contra-indications I have noted in the second series can thus be set aside. Meanwhile, if we only consider the first series, I think it is entirely plausible that Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote it, perhaps from notes he had taken during his multiple trips to see his children in St. John. He may even have given these notes to his successor, who, sadly, persists in drawing primarily the industry information from them..
Audio opening this page: "Won't Get Fooled Again,"
by The Who, from the album, "Who's Next"