I like to foreshadow my research visits, so I can talk about what I expect, and what I feel about the place, before I report about having visited. Last time I did that with John Greenleaf Whittier's birthplace. Tomorrow, I plan on visiting Whittier's home in Amesbury, Mass. Both of these are museums to the famous poet; but the first happened to be my own past-life birthplace, as well. If you've read the recent relevant entries, you know that I did get a strong reaction of past-life emotional recognition memory; but no real cognitive flashbacks. One or two bits of past-life knowledge which can't be proven or disproven. But it was definitely a huge hit on the internal emotional Geiger counter, which is not always the case when I visit these places associated with my past life as Mathew Franklin Whittier (John Greenleaf's younger brother).
The Amesbury house is different. Mathew never lived there--in fact, his brother sold the family farm and took their remaining family to Amesbury, because Mathew was marrying his soul-mate, Abby Poyen, a non-Quaker. I suspect Abby didn't want to live there, and for the Whittiers' part, she probably wasn't allowed to. (Mathew was later disowned by the Quakers, for having married outside the faith.)
But, we do know that Mathew visited his brother there at the Amesbury house, over the years. One such description is found in a book entitled "Whittier at Close Range," by Frances Sparhawk, published in 1925. It is clearly inferred that the quote is from Mathew's daughter Lizzie, who lived during her teenage years at the home, working as John Greenleaf's house maid. (I put it that way, because I have the feeling Mathew didn't expect it to be a permanent arrangement, and didn't want John Greenleaf raising her--there are strong feelings of anger and frustration around this issue of custody and parental rights, around all of this, for me).
In any case, the gist of it is that Lizzie ended up marrying a man who was actually her father's nemesis, and his antithesis in many ways (including integrity, where Mathew had it, and this fellow, Samuel Pickard, didn't).* I think she became extremely ambivalent about her father; one half of her was what she had been told by her uncle, and then her husband; and the other half was what she remembered from the time she had spent with her father. Mathew had separated from her mother, in a family-arranged, mis-matched second marriage, in 1849 when she was a little girl; but he kept a very active interest in his children. Despite being unfairly kept from them, he supported the family for many years until he was outed and blacklisted for his liberal political work, and could no-longer afford to, in 1857. (This is not the history as it has come down to us in the official Whittier legacy. I can prove mine is right.)
You can see how I struggled to encapsulate that--it's very complicated, and my emotions, lingering from that lifetime, are even more complicated. I gradually ran across more and more evidence to substantiate those emotions. But in any case, Lizzie obviously did admire her father, whatever she had been led to believe about him. Here is the quote from Sparhawk:
A relative of the Whittiers and at one time in the poetís family has spoken to the writer of the brightness and wit of Franklin, himself also a writer although under an assumed name, and of the brilliant conversation of the two men as they sat together in the garden room, their reminiscences and familiar talk interrupted by peals of laughter. For the poet who showed chiefly his grave side to the world had in him a rich vein of humor--and his friends and neighbors knew that it never gave out through want of being worked! Franklinís daughter, her auntís namesake, lived with the poet from early girlhood until her marriage.
Keep in mind that John Greenleaf Whittier was not known for laughing out loud--in fact, I believe it is elsewhere mentioned that he would smile, but not laugh, in his customary reserve. So it was his brother who was drawing him out, which is essentially what I had said under hypnosis, many years earlier. To be precise, I had said that I tried to loosen up his formality, and "tried to get him to be real."
On re-read, I looked it up. This is from "Whittier Land," by Pickard. Either somebody is wrong, or else it was only Mathew who was laughing (clearly, not the inference of the quote), or Mathew was the only one who could make his brother laugh out loud.
I never heard him laugh aloud, but a merrier face and an eye that twinkled with livelier glee when thoroughly amused are not often seen. He would double up with mirth without uttering a sound,--his chuckle being visible instead of audible,--but this peculiar expression of jollity was irresistibly infectious.
It doesn't entirely surprise me that Pickard never heard John Greenleaf Whittier laugh aloud, because, based on his newspaper work, he was more or less humorless.
Now, I have contacted the Association which maintains this house on several occasions, and as I was with the caretaker of the birthplace, I was open and above-board about my particular interest. They were initially polite, and then stopped responding at some point. They didn't take me seriously, for which I can't really blame them. But it's sad for them, that they didn't, because I have so much information to share.
Other than signing a register with my own name, and letting them recognize it after-the-fact if they are so-inclined, I don't intend to reveal my full interest during this visit. This is a public museum, and I'm a member of the public--since they haven't been cooperative in the past, the rest is really none of their business. After all, it's not as though I'm crazy, and would try to steal my past-life portrait or something like that.
The important question is, what do I think will be my inner reaction? Well, I don't expect any cognitive flashbacks. The emotion, here, isn't strong enough. There are Mathew's ambivalent feelings for his brother, and the memories of his visits, there. I might feel something of this--but it probably won't be intense enough to trigger a conscious, full-immersion flashback experience. The second factor in triggering these memories is the extent to which the place is precisely as it was. I think this one is going to be more authentic, in the placement of its furnishings, than the Whittier farm was. Not for lack of trying, but this place has been in the possession of the Whittier family, and Whittier-related organizations, without a break since John Greenleaf Whittier lived there. I understand that some pictures have been moved around; but that basically, the place remains undisturbed, as it was.
That could compensate, somewhat, for the lack of strong past-life emotions.
So if I do get inside, I will be watching my inner state very carefully, and I'll dictate my impressions into my digital audio recorder, as soon as I get back to my car.
I'm aware that this may not seem scientific to skeptics. It is, and it isn't. It depends on how honest I am, and how well I'm able to discern my own inner states from imagination. I have trained myself to be rigorously honest; but I don't have a 100% track record of discerning past-life impressions from imagination. I would have to say, however, that I'm better at it than mere chance. The professional mediums, tested by Dr. Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona, were something more than 70% accurate--i.e., well above chance. I would guess I'm somewhere in that range, where the emotions are of moderate intensity, as they probably will be, here.
Before I close this, I wanted to mention that I just followed up on a digital submission of a selection of Mathew and Abby's poetry I sent to a major metaphysical publisher back on Dec. 4. They say that they take, at the most, about 12 weeks to get back to you, and here it is five months later, and I hadn't heard anything. I did get a quick call back when I left a message, but when I told him it was a book of poetry, he immediately dismissed it with the blanket statement, "We don't publish poetry." I then tried to quickly explain that it was actually a whole bunch of things, and didn't fit in any category, at which he said something to the effect of "See? That's even worse," and suggested I self-publish.
I got just a little hot at being so summarily dismissed, and I told him that this was the actual historical author of "The Raven," that Edgar Allan Poe hadn't written it, and that they were passing up a huge scoop. He actually sounded a little interested, but by that time I had said, "Have a nice day," and we signed off. He has my phone number, of course. Just imagine what he has turned down for this company. Book publishers are in trouble, these days. The e-mail for the other contact person actually bounced. You don't need any of these people to e-publish, and in fact, you don't need them to physically self-publish, as I understand, either. They probably won't last too much longer. Having a publisher is fast becoming an outmoded concept, like print newspapers.
If he had believed me--and if the public believed me (which they might have, if the book had their name behind it)--my little book of poetry could have rescued that company. I kid you not.
I will, indeed, self-publish it, at the same time I offer my sequel, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own world," which should be sometime in the next couple of months.
Oh, here's something I ran across that I wrote in 1851, as Mathew, while writing a travelogue in Europe under the name "Quails." The historians will tell you "Quails" was Ossian Dodge--I've spent a lot of time and effort proving he wasn't, even though Mathew's editor said, in print, that he was.**
This is me in 1851...sound familiar?
From Glasgow we return down the Clyde to Dunglass Rock, on which is erected a fine obelisk pillar to the memory of Henry Bell, who first introduced steam navigation in Europe. It seems that about the year 1796, James Watt, who was born at the mouth of the Clyde, succeeded in applying steam-power to machinery in Glasgow, but all attempts to apply it to navigation proved unavailing, until 1812, when it was accomplished by Henry Bell, who constructed a steamboat, which, according to history, "sailed five miles an hour, against head wind." Bell offered his new method of steam application to the government three different times, but it was looked upon with the most freezing coldness, and rejected as utterly useless. Bell died, unappreciated, in 1830, with cold poverty staring him in the face; but after his death, the public, as usual in such cases, awoke to the convention of the goodness and genius of the departed, and erected to his memory a magnificent obelisk pillar. If Bell could have been informed previous to his death of the honor which awaited him after, and the amount of money to be expended in the erection of a monument, we wonder if his stomach would have been relieved from the pangs of hunger by the contemplation of future glory? We throw out these hints, so that if there are any persons having contributions for an obelisk for us, they will send in the change as soon as possible.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*Inasmuch as there is a quote from JGW indicating that he was not averse to matchmaking, very likely he encouraged the match, probably against her father's wishes. What he did, in my estimation, was submit Lizzie to a very cleverly-disguised sociopath. It makes me feel very angry to see that she is never referred to as Mathew's daughter--only as John Greenleaf's niece--and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Mathew is subtly villainized in this legacy, because if his truth were told, it would flip the entire situation on its head. But I have explored all that in my book.
**Ossian Dodge, the man whom historians claim wrote the "Quails" series in Europe, was both famous and wealthy, whereas Mathew Franklin Whittier was ahead of his time, but obscure and, for much of his life (though not so much at this particular point), struggled financially. Like many other elements of the "Quails" travelogue series, this commentary is extremely unlikely for Dodge, and entirely plausible for Mathew.
Music opening this page: "Walk of Life" by Dire Straits,
from the album, "Brothers in Arms"