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6/27/18

Here's something interesting...but I can't post it until I've either won or lost the Ebay listing that I'm going to be referring to. If you've already read the previous entry for the 26th, you might want to go back and re-visit it, because I added to it significantly earlier this morning.

What's fascinating about this, is that it clearly shows my mind in action. Of course, you have to take my word for it. But here's precisely what happened.

I was debating with myself whether to purchase a volume of the Portland "Transcript," which contains issues that I already have, with the exception of eleven. I can access all of these now on microfilm at the local libary in Portland, so there really isn't much of a reason to purchase another set.

Let me see...then I started searching for keyword "newspaper," by year. Sometimes that brings up listings I wouldn't see, otherwise. I got to year 1828, when I knew Mathew Franklin Whittier, as a 15-year-old boy, was submitting to the New-England Galaxy. He was living there in Boston as of Nov. 1827 (one can see this by the content of his published pieces).

I was scanning down the list for the "Galaxy," but I kept seeing (among others) issues of a paper called "The Telescope." In my mind, I felt, "This is significant," or "I wrote for that," or "That's familiar." It wasn't a thought formed in words. It was a dim, but definite, sense of recognition. Something was important about "The Telescope."

I can't remember, now, which edition I looked at, first. I think it was the very one in question, here. I saw two pieces, back-to-back, indicated as having been "written for the Telescope," (i.e., original for that paper) signed "GLEANER." Now, this is a Methodist religious paper out of New York City. Mathew writes once for the "Galaxy" from New York City in August of 1828 (i.e., as one of his characters, a spin-off from "Joe Strickland"). Then in Dec. 1829, he moves there and begins writing for the New York "Constellation." So he has some connection with New York.

These two back-to-back pieces are precisely in Mathew's style, albeit this is his early work. And without making a thorough study, I didn't see any other pieces in this style in the other editions of the "Telescope." Most of it looks pretty cut-and-dried, typical religious stuff. One of these pieces is a dialogue between a black man, "Sambo," and one "Deacon T." It seems that the pastor is requiring a large salary, which expenditure Deacon T. justifies, but Sambo (who is obviously smarter than Deacon T.) does not agree with. The second piece, directly under the first, is a report of a hypothetical religious convention which begins with brotherly love, but quickly degenerates into sectarian bickering.

In the dialogue piece, two words which Mathew will use in later years, show up: "dater" for daughter (later, Mathew will use "darter," as mentioned in a recent entry)*; and "housen," which Mathew uses in a private letter, and again in one of his fictional pieces. There is also a meaningful Malapropism: "sporting de gospel." As for deacons, they are one of Mathew's favorite subjects. He must have written 15 or 20 stories about deacons over the course of his lifetime.

Dialogue between Sambo, a black man, and Deacon T.

(Sambo sitting under a tree, his head leaning on his hand.) Deacon T. comes along.

D.T. Well Sambo, what are you thinking about; you look like a philosopher.

S. Me tink Massa, 'bout de sarmon Dr. G. preach Sabbat day.

D.T. That is right Sambo. I'm glad to hear that you think about divine things; do you recollect the text?

S. Yes, Massa, he say from the good book, dat we must no muzzel de ox dat tread out de corn, but he say so much 'bout gibing money to de preacher, dat I guess the Dr. forget de text heself!

D.T. O no, Sambo; he proved from the Bible that we ought to support the gospel.

S. Me don't know 'bout de sporting de gospel, me tink ' bout de text Massa.

D.T. Well Sambo, the text proves it.

S. Don't know if it do; me tink dis way; if Massa Deacon had his ox tread out de corn--ox eat some ob de grain--dat all well; by and by de ox drag two or tree bushel one side for heself--me think it time to muzzel dat ox!

Later in the dialogue, Mathew even sneaks in a playful reference to the "Telescope," in-character. Having a character plug the paper he's writing for, will become one of Mathew's favorite gags:

D.T. You talk wonderful strange to-day Sambo, I think that you have been reading the Telescope; have you?

S. No, Massa, me don't read much only in dis Bible, tank de Lord old Massa larn Sambo read 'fore he die.

Mathew wrote a great many dialogues in dialect, in his early years. He depicted not only blacks, but such groups as Irish, Scottish, Dutch, French, Yankees and sailors, with a more-or-less even hand. (Probably he was hardest on the Dutch.) Eventually, however, he stopped portraying blacks in dialect, probably because he realized that racists were using these pieces for their own purposes, and laughing at them for the wrong reasons. Here, however, you can see that the intent is precisely the opposite of racist humor.

Note that in Mathew's "code," when the Deacon (who is the fool in this dialogue) says that Sambo "looks like a philosopher," he means that the black man is a philosopher. Mathew was not yet a supporter of Abolition at this age, and would not be until his young mentor and future wife, Abby, convinced him of it.** But he is always on the side of the underdog.

The pseudonym, "Gleaner," is a new one for me. What it means, is that Mathew, as a young philosopher, "gleans" bits of wisdom from as many different sources as he can. I took precisely the opposite tack, in this lifetime, feeling subconsciously overwhelmed by all the half-digested ideas that Mathew had taken in over the course of his life.

If I look at Mathew's publications in the New-England Galaxy around this date, I find that one of his characters writes from Washington, D.C., with letters dated Dec. 15, 1827 and Jan. 2, 1828, respectively. These two letters in the "Telescope" are published on Jan. 5th. However, we don't know where Mathew submitted them from; nor, how long it took the paper to print them. So it is difficult to determine an itinerary--but Mathew appears to have been in Washington shortly before they were published. The first of the "Gleaner" pieces is styled as having been written from Newark, New Jersey, in December, 1827. That suggests that he was in New York City first, came down through New Jersey, and then into Washington. Perhaps he stopped back by the Telescope office in New York before returning to Boston, so that both pieces were published together. But no firm conclusions can be made in this regard. We only know he was traveling on the East Coast at this time.

I do know, from long observation, that when Mathew has a character write from a certain locale, he, himself, was at that locale. Mathew's fiction is like taking a photograph into Photoshop, and applying filters to it. He almost always starts from real life, past or current. The one exception I can think of is a character in the "Carpet-Bag" named "Pinto," who spins elaborate yarns; but that is because the character, himself, is created for this purpose, to answer a fellow-contributor who was a shameless imitator of Mathew's work, and who must have been a compulsive liar. In a particular sense, even here he was reacting to a real-life situation, by out-lying the liar.

So these two pieces are almost certainly Mathew's own work, at age 15. We can talk about the maturity of his intellect, and his political and social sensibilities, at this tender age--but I've already gone on about that topic at length. Again, what's most interesting to me, here, is that I knew the "Telescope" was significant, before I had any normal, objective reason to suspect Mathew's involvement with it. I was simply going on the Ebay image thumbnail, showing the masthead. I hadn't enlarged any of the images yet, to read the type.

This is not coincidence. I don't get that feeling 20 times a day, only to find that, by the law of averages, I'm right once every couple of months. So don't even go there.

Admittedly, it's a cool name, and might have piqued my interest to some extent on that basis. But this was something deeper. The only caveat is that I can't tell whether it was inner prompting of past-life memory, or mental nudging from my astral partner, Abby. I have made it clear in the introduction to my first book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," that I am not distinguishing between them. I call it all "past-life memory." It can sometimes be both, inasmuch as it seems that Abby has the ability to spark my past-life memory, when she so-chooses. I don't know which was which, in this instance. But definitely, I recognized the "Telescope" before I found Mathew's early work inside this issue. At first, I ignored the feeling--finally, it was pestering me so much I gave in to it, and looked more closely.

Seriously, this has happened very rarely--meaning, specifically, with a thumbnail image. The only other instance I can think of, right off, is the first time I ever saw the front page of the "Carpet-Bag" which contains Mathew's parody of "The Raven," entitled "The Vulture." I felt precisely this same kind of recognition. I was only seeing a thumbnail image, and it was the illustrations scattered through the stanzas of the poem which seemed familiar. Actually, there was one other time--when I saw a small thumbnail of a portrait painted by Mathew's cousin, Ruth Whittier Shute, which turned out to be of his wife, Abby. I told the friend helping me search, "wait, click on that one!"

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

P.S. Writing now the following morning, something else came to me. I can't prove it, but will simply report it. I had the sense that Mathew used to take this paper and jokingly roll it up to make a "telescope." Then, perhaps after he got published in it, he would joke that he was "in the telescope." At any rate I seem to remember him, at age 15, cracking jokes about it. He would have liked the name because he was fascinated with science and technology; and he also liked the idea of looking deeply into things. In 1846, Mathew visited with astronomer Ormsby M. Mitchel at the newly-built Cincinnati Observatory, looked through his telescope, and recommended his upcoming magazine to the readers of the Boston "Chronotype" by way of garnering public support.

*It strikes me that Mathew may have used "darter" in this instance, as well, but the compositor, not knowing what to make of it, misspelled it by leaving out the "r." "Dater" makes no sense, nor is it properly phonetic, and all of Mathew's deliberate misspellings were phonetic, while most of them had a double meaning, where it was at all possible for him to assign one.

**For the stated reason that he felt Abolitionists were inciting slave insurrections, which would result only in mass bloodshed on both sides, and would not benefit the slaves' cause in the long run. In a sense, he was right--slavery was only resolved with bloodshed. But he later became a very strong worker for the Abolitionist cause, as based on "moral suasion."

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