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4/8/18
I wrote yesterday about little clues. Now, any skeptic seeing these things, will react thusly: "Oh, that's nothing. It could be mere coincidence, mere chance." Indeed. But I am sharing only a fraction of my evidence, which, in total, is overwhelming. That's because I have a real past-life match. I hate to waste a good analogy on the readers of just one entry, so I must trot it out again: If you are blindfolded, and you stumble into someone else's house, some of the objects you encounter, by feel, therein, will seem rather like your own. The television feels the same, the bed feels quite similar. But at the same time, some of the things won't seem right, at all. You never had this bust of Plato on a table by the sofa--and you never had a sofa this long. But if you manage to get into your own house, over, and over, and over, you will report feeling objects which match your house. That, of course, is becaues it is, in fact, your house.

In my research into a genuine past life, I have encountered something very similar. All of these little clues fall directly into place, because it's an actual match. Now, if the blindfolded man wanted to prove to a skeptic that he had found his own house, he might give, as examples, that he had the same food in his refrigerator, and that he had an arm chair in the same corner, of about the same size. That would hardly convince the skeptic, because these things are relatively generic, and with only two examples, they could be coincidence.

But the blindfolded man has made a list, over 2,000 pages long, of the items he has felt in this house, which, from memory, match his own house. But the skeptic refuses to read the list. Who is at fault, here, in the burden of proof--the blindfolded man, or the skeptic?

I have said that I am convinced that a young Mathew Franklin Whittier is the junior editor, or acting editor, of the New York "Constellation" in 1831. Here is a tiny clue. This poem is, in my estimation, by style, definitely Mathew's work. He is living in an attic, and apparently he has recently purchased an arm chair, or what in that day was called an "elbow chair." Here, he has written a clever poem in praise of it. But note just how well-written it is. His older brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, is taken seriously as a poet--Mathew doesn't compete with him in his own arena, but he is no slouch in this department. He simply avoids sibling competition by not signing the poem, and by remaining in the realm of light-hearted offerings. He can, and does, write serious poetry--but he disguises its authorship so heavily, that only I have been able to penetrate it and uncover them.

What is the clue? The stanza which begins, "And if a Justice dwindles so..." He is writing as an editor--but this is definitely Mathew's work, not that of the editor-in-chief, Asa Greene. I could put a dozen of Mathew's poems in front of you, and show you the style comparison. I also recognize Mathew's higher, i.e., creative, mind, which remains essentially unchanged. This one is mine, i.e., mine as MFW. This is simply another clue that he was, in fact, the acting editor of this paper at the time, in April of 1831. He started with this paper in December of 1829, and by this time, Greene is happy to turn these duties over to Mathew, presumably so that he (Greene) can devote more time to running his bookstore.

This, if I say so myself, is a very good humorous poem. People like Ogden Nash achieved fame writing in this genre; had Mathew not kept himself hidden under a slew of pseudonyms, perhaps he would have, as well. He did develop grassroots fame for "Ethan Spike," when his authorship of that series was exposed sometime in mid-1857. Here, in April of 1831, Mathew is 18 years old.

Can I write like that, today? In fact, I sort of spontaneously flipped into it in the first chapter of my book. Normally, no. I remember, in an intuitive sense, being able to do this. I remember the feeling of having this talent, might be a better way to describe it. If hard-pressed, I can do it, today, but it isn't a talent which is just at my fingertips, as it was for Mathew. These are the kinds of things I report honestly, as data. Perhaps they will be useful someday.

There is, by the way, a shred of evidence in the readily-available historical record for Mathew's brother, poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Mathew is rarely mentioned, but there is a story presenting one, and only one, of Mathew's early efforts at humorous poetry. That story is presented in a skewed fashion, as though proving that Mathew admitted he couldn't write poetry when requested. It is entirely misinterpreted, however. Mathew was asked by his mother if he could write poetry on serious topics, like his brother. He came up with a humorous poem which contained veiled symbolism about a serious topic--the dysfunction within his own family. Apparently it went right over their heads, and everybody else's (except mine). Another biographer mentions that Mathew was "also a versifier," though none of his works are presented. So I do have a scholastic anchor for these speculations.

Here is Mathew's unsigned poem, "The Elbow-Chair."

The New York "Constellation"
April 16, 1831

THE ELBOW-CHAIR.

What man was he with genius blest,
What man was he in pity drest,
 Who, touch'd with mortal care,
Did wisdom and compassion blend,
And his immortal efforts lend
 T' invent the elbow-chair?

Whoe'er it was--that godlike man--
Who took this most effectual plan
 To soften cruel care;
He ne'er should want the thing he made,
Nor crave in vain the kindly aid
 Of cushion'd elbow-chair.

Its arms embrace the weary frame,
And bid the drowsy and the lame
 An equal welcome share;
And while it soothes the pains of age,
It helps the wisdom of the sage--
 The wondrous elbow-chair!

How dignified that man appears,
Advancing in the vale of years,
 With visage plump and fair;
Whose corporation fills complete
The noble, the capacious seat,
 The spreading elbow-chair!

See Justice throned in sober grace,
See wisdom marked upon his face,
 And dignity so rare;
But now again his Worship scan,
You'll find he's nothing but a man
 Without his elbow chair.

And if a Justice dwindles so,
What is that little god below,
 That writes with such an air?
What is the Editor, I pray,
What can he do, or think, or say,
 Without his elbow-chair?

Blest are the thoughts that find their way
Into the mind, when'er your clay
 Is throned so soft and fair;
And warm the feelings of the heart,
When thus at ease the corp'ral part
 Enjoys its elbow-chair.

How sweet it is to sit and snooze,
In visions bright the mem'ry lose
 Of all that's hard to bear;
Or rest in undisturbed ease,
And waking dream of what you please,
 Upon your elbow-chair.

The keenest pleasures will not stay,
The fiercest joys will flit away,
 And leave remorse and care;
But ne'er shall happy mortal find
The chair has left a sting behind,
 The cushioned elbow-chair.

Whoe'er would live a life serene,
And calmly view the troubled scene,
 Where others moiling are;
Let him straightway to reason wake,
A few superflous shillings take,
 And buy an elbow-chair.

And when he's warned from earth away,
When comes the last, the moving-day,
 And fades this scene of care;
Then may he bid the world good-bye,
And upwards mount into the sky,
 Upon his elbow-chair.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

P.S. 4/9/18 A similar clue appears almost a year earlier, in the May 8, 1830 edition, where the editor writes about "Old Maids as They Are." This, in my opinion, is undoubtedly Mathew's work, based both on style and topic. Mathew frequently champions the underdog, and he often treats the subject of bachelors and old maids. In this edition, as in many others, Mathew has essentially written the entire editorial page. On this one are found at least two other pieces I can definitely identify as Mathew's work--a cautionary tale about a hayseed with ambitions to become a mercantile store clerk (semi-autiobiographical), and a letter from "Enoch Timbertoes," which was a precursor to Mathew's later "Ethan Spike" series. In this piece on "old maids," the opening paragraph reads:

It has become so much the fashion to abuse this unprotected but respectable class of females, that we feel ourselves imperiously called upon to take up the gauntlet in their behalf. We are impelled to this, both by our good nature and sense of justice, to say nothing of our duty as an editor, or of our gallantry as a man--in either of which characters, we could scarcely put in our claim to general respectability, or indulge in any hopes of favor with the injured class, were we to listen tamely to the opprobrious epithets with which they are daily and most unjustly characterized--such as "sour," "crabbed," "envious," "starched," "stuff," "meddlesome," "censorious," "viturperative," "mischief-making," and twenty others equally odious and repulsive.

How about it--shall I continue with the entire article? I just finished proofreading it, and I think this will give you an idea of just who Mathew really was. No doubt this was occasioned by Mathew overhearing some conversation, which made him think of his unmarried sister, Elisabeth, at home, and caused him to rise to the defense of the class as a whole. I have abundant reason to believe this writer is Mathew Franklin Whittier, based on a lifetime of his published work; I have no reason whatsoever to believe that it is the editor-in-chief, Asa Greene.

The New York "Constellation"
May 8, 1830

OLD MAIDS AS THEY ARE.

It has become so much the fashion to abuse this unprotected but respectable class of females, that we feel ourselves imperiously called upon to take up the gauntlet in their behalf. We are impelled to this, both by our good nature and sense of justice, to say nothing of our duty as an editor, or of our gallantry as a man--in either of which characters, we could scarcely put in our claim to general respectability, or indulge in any hopes of favor with the injured class, were we to listen tamely to the opprobrious epithets with which they are daily and most unjustly characterized--such as "sour," "crabbed," "envious," "starched," "stuff," "meddlesome," "censorious," "viturperative," "mischief-making," and twenty others equally odious and repulsive.

Now it requires but a very little knowledge of human nature, and especially of that portion of it which we have undertaken to defend, to perceive that these charges are altogether uncharitable, ungenrous, and unjust. Charges so general and so sweeping, against any class of people, are for the most part false and groundless; and we hazard nothing in declaring that the respectable class before us who have advanced in single life beyond their thirtieth year, and are called, by way of reproachful distinction, old maids, are not in the least deserving [of] the epithets so liberally bestowed uopn them. On the contrary, they are, generally speaking, remarkbale for the opposite qualities--for cheerfulness, good temper, and sweetness of disposition. So far from being envious, they are the first to rejoice in the happiness of those around them; so far from being censorious, they are rather the patterns of mild and charitable judging; so far from being starched and unbending in their demeanor, they are the most affable and courteous beings in the world; and so far from being meddlesome, they take no thought for the concerns of others, any farther than is necessary to promote their welfare. They are distinguished for their benevolence--for devoting their abilities, both of time and money and influence, to ameliorate the condition of humanity. They are among the foremost in visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, instructing the ignorant, correcting the vicious, restraining the imprudent, and restoring the wanderer.

We are at a loss then to conceive the motives for the often-repeated attacks upon old maids. What is the object? Is it to show the courage of the assailants? Alas, what courage is there in attacking an unprotected woman? Is it to display their wit? It would be an abuse of the term to pretend it; for wit has no affinity whatever with the use of a set of back-nerved expressions of abuse. Is it to exhibit their good sense? If they were endowed with the most ordinary share of this quality, they would perceive that they could not apply it to a worse purpose than the one we are reprehending. Is it to show their knowledge? They indeed take a most unlucky method of doing it, for an acquaintance with the character of the assaulted class, should rather lead to encomiums on their good qualities, than to strictures on those of the opposite description. Have they ever heard of Elizabeth Carter, Hannah Moore, Maria Edgeworth, and a host of others, whose mild and gentle virtues, whose benevolence and cheerfulness, whose active exercise of their talents in improving the moral and intellectual condition of mankind, have given them a name as much to be envied as that of the detractors of the class to which they belong, is to be despised and condemned?

Do you see that comely and interesting female, entering the abode of sickness and want, with a countenance to cheer, a hand to supply, and a heart to console? That is an old maid. Do see that female with a wan cheek, a tear in her eye, and affection in all her movements--watching, from month to month, and from year to year, beside the couch of a suffering and aged parent--yielding to all his wishes, enduring all the fretfulness of a protracted disease, and kindly softening as much as possible the afflictions of pain--never tiring in her watchfulness, never relaxing in her assiduities, and never failing in her sweetness of temper--regardless of her own comforts, and thinking only of alleviating the distresses of the parent? That is an old maid. Do you observe that being with a benignant countenance, gently leading from the paths of error, the headlong steps of a younger and wayward brother--consoling and healing the wounded affections of a beloved sister--guiding and directing the steps of a giddy and thoughtless young friend? that is an old maid. Finally, do you see that female, ready to do good on all occasions--meeting opportunities when present, and seeking them when absent--actuated by no motive of selfishness, and allured by no prospect of gain--alway the same cheerful, benevolent, and excellent creature: that is one of the despised and reproched class of old maids.

Prythee, sir, who are so forward in abusing those women, who have seen their thirtieth year without entering the blessed state of matrimony, did you ever have a sister, a cousin, or aunt, who was an old maid? And if so, did you love or esteem her the less for it? On the contrary have you not sometimes had reason to approve her good sense, taste or prudence, in refusing offers which were unsuitable, and preferring single life with all the reproach attached to it, to marrying a tyrant, a niggard, a blockhead, or a spendthrift? And after all this, will you continue the stale, silly, ungenerous and unjust practice of ridiculing what you cannot but admire and approve?

Many persons, not only male but female, seem to entertain the belief, that because a woman is not married, her temper must necessarily be soured. As though the accidental circumstances of single or double life, could effect so entire a change in the condition of the mind. They must have been but slight observers of human nature, who do not know, that an ill-tempered Miss will most certainly make an ill-tempered Mrs.; and that a sweet-tempered girl in her teens, will make a sweet-tempered woman in middle life and old age, even without the blessing of a husband. And they must be equally destitute of observation, who do not know, that in selecting a wife, the best of the family is not always taken, whether good sense, good temper, or amiable disposition be regarded. The best may not always be taken, because she does not approve the suitor; or, as is frequently the case, the suitor may not have taste or discernment enough to select the best--in either of which cases, the fairest fruit remains on the tree without any disparagement to its loveliness.

But if bitter disappointment have been mingled, with the other evils single flesh is heir to, in the cup of old maids, it is most ungenerous to reproach them with the misfortune. If single life be so enormous an evil as it is commonly supposed, then surely do those women, who endure it for a long series of years, with unabated cheerfulness and serenity, deserve all praise for their extraordinary sweetness of temper and gentleness of disposition. If, as one of the ancients said, "a good man struggling with adversity is a sight worthy of the gods"--then surely a feeble woman, travelling the path of life alone--struggling with the briars and thorns that beset her way--and above all enduring the unmanly scoffs and reproaches of those who should be her defenders--and yet maintaining that cheerfulness and serenity of mind which mark the character of old maids, is, to say the least, a sight that should make their revilers hide their heads in confusion and remorse.

 

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