"Snakes know heart"--Baba Hari Dass
I'm writing on the evening of the 2nd, but I'll post it with tomorrow's date. This morning, I shared some of my past-life early journalistic work. Check it out, you might enjoy it. But this evening, there's something a bit more ticklish I'd like to share. This has to do with the history of Abby Poyen's early work. Abby, as I believe, was the real, primary author of "A Christmas Carol." In the course of looking for Mathew Franklin Whittier's early work (my past-life work), I stumbled across three more of her poems in a Philadelphia paper, online. It was totally unexpected--and whether Abby, who is still in the astral world, helped me find it, or it was completely coincidental, I can't say. I don't want to attempt to prove that to anyone; nor, this evening, do I wish to attempt to prove my theory that these are her poems.
What I have in mind to do is to just set out my theory, without the supporting evidence. This, in short, is how a theft of her work went down, according to my best accumulated evidence.
Some of you may have heard of Albert Pike. He featured prominently on one of the History Channel's conspiracy shows recently, where he was portrayed as the head of the "Knights of the Golden Circle." I'm looking at the website right now, and I'm reading that this was a presentation of "Best-selling author Brad Meltzer." As I recall from watching the show, a group of former Confederates had a plan to re-establish the Confederacy somewhere else (was it Mexico?) after the Civil War, and they were burying hoards of treasure to finance it. Former Civil War general, and high-ranking Mason, Albert Pike, was said to have headed up this group.
Anyway, it caught my eye because he figures in my research, as well.
Abby Poyen, whose father was a marquis from Guadeloupe, and whose mother was said to have been "brilliant," came from a family of nine children. She, herself, was exceptionally bright, and was either tutored by her mother, or by outside tutors, or both. At age 14, she began tutoring Mathew Franklin Whittier, who was four years older, and being a poor farm boy, was eager for an education. (What I am giving you, again, is not fact, but my best theory based on my evidence.) This was in 1830. But in 1830, she also began taking a writing and composition class from Albert Pike, who at that time was 21 years old. Abby lived in East Haverhill, Mass., and Pike's class was in nearby Newburyport. He would assign a theme for a poem, and the class would have to write a couple of stanzas, or sometimes more.
It so happened that Abby and Pike had the same initials, "A.P." Abby would never think of submitting her poems for publication. She kept them in a workbook, in the classroom. But Pike would go through them, and, copying the best ones, he, himself, would submit them to various publications in different major cities, like Boston and Philadelphia. They were signed with initials only, and he let the editor believe they were his own. Presumably, when they were accepted, he would take the payment for them. And over time, he built up a reputation as a poet--which he was never able to sustain. Later in life, he apologetically admitted that he was never able to write poetry of this quality, again.
One of these poems, published in 1832, was completely re-worked by him in 1834. When he provided a biographical sketch to the author of a poetry compilation, he claimed to have written the poem "a couple days after his wedding"; but his wedding was in 1834. So he had to have been referring to the complete re-do; not the one which appeared in 1832. That was Abby's.
But just recently, I found three more. One of them has her "sitting up" with a boy she loves, looking out over the Merrimack River, glimpsing the mist-covered coast in the distance, and glancing off at a bend in the river to one side. It is signed from Newburyport, Mass.--where Pike held his class. But I believe this was Abby's poem about sitting up with Mathew outside her family home in East Haverhill, Mass. Would the facts match up?
They certainly would match up with a medium's reading I had in 2010, when I first contacted Abby, and was told that she remembered sitting on a swing together under a tree, by a river. But would they match up with hard facts?
Just behind where Abby's family home was (whether on the property at the time or not, I don't know), is a rise of a little over 20 feet. You can see it clearly on both a topographical map, and on Google Street View. I have a feeling that there was a gazebo built up there, with a seat or swing in it. After one of Abby's tutoring sessions, in the evening, she might have invited him to sit with her. The thing is, she was clearly in love with him; but he didn't know it, yet, and in his eyes, she was too young to be thinking such thoughts about.
So we have a spot where they could have sat together, overlooking the river. But the poem mentions seeing the fog over the ocean--what about that? The coast is about four miles east from that location. I learned, today, that an elevation of 20 feet yields a horizon at 5.5 miles. Therefore, if there was an unobstructed view, on a clear moonlit evening, such as is described in the poem, they should have been able to see the coast in the distance, as well as a large sail of a ship at anchor, there (as is also mentioned).
Finally, the poem mentions looking at a bend in the river. There is a pronounced bend in the Merrimack River at that location, which could have easily been seen to their left.
Researching these kinds of things usually sets my teeth on edge, but in this case, all the details seem to line up.
That means that Albert Pike must have stolen the poem out of Abby's workbook, when she was 14 and attending his class. He submitted it (and two others) to a Philadelphia newspaper (where all three appeared in the same edition) without her knowledge or permission, signing them from Newburyport where he was living at the time. She may never have known. Two of the poems were intensely personal--Mathew didn't even know her feelings at this time; while one of them was clearly a class assignment, to write about the New Year of 1831.
The other thing that corresponds, is that after the love poem, a second one expresses feeling abandoned and betrayed by her beloved friend, a male, leaving her by ship. I am now looking into the possibility that Mathew submitted humorous sketches to the New York "Constellation" in 1830, and began living there, at least for a time, as of Jan. 1, 1831. I know from other sources that his father had died in 1830, and that in 1831 he began trying his hand at various mercantile ventures. The poem suggests he didn't understand how she felt, nor why she was so upset about it.
It wasn't until the fall of 1832, when Abby's father threw her a coming out party at age 16, that she began openly flirting with Mathew; and it was in the spring of 1833, that they first began courting. I have extrapolated a rather complicated scenario there, from various clues, which suggests that her father, the marquis, had no intention of allowing her to marry a commoner like Mathew, but that he put him off by making him go and prove himself worthy. When Mathew did that, and her father still didn't relent, they eloped in 1836.
I've had that part of the puzzle put together for awhile. But not this early stage--there were still too many missing puzzle pieces.
Now the puzzle is looking a lot more complete. As for specific evidence, I'm not being sloppy, here, just coy. It's all laid out carefully in my book.
What it tells us, is that the future author of "A Christmas Carol" was evincing very sophisticated writing abilities at age 14. I also have eight or ten of her short stories, which dovetail perfectly with this theory.
I have mentioned this before--but have you ever heard of Charles Poyen? He introduced "mesmerism," or what we call "hypnosis," to America. You can read his book, "Progress of Animal Magnetism in New England." Where he mentions coming to America and staying for the first five months at his uncle's home, that was Abby's home, and Charles was Abby's first cousin.
He was brilliant, too. You should check out that book. His analysis of the prejudice with which his ideas were being met, would just as well describe the situation, today. I know that he and Mathew became close, because Mathew wrote a warm obituary for him, published in the Portland "Transcript." I notice that one or two online sources are quoting it, now--but I was the one who found it.
I would love to show you how strongly some of Abby's poetry, and her short stories, predict "A Christmas Carol." But I am keenly aware that my readership is a mixed audience; and I think I will not "parade" Abby in front of you all, by way of trying to prove anything. She is my wife, across the Great Divide, today; and it seems too personal. Just know that Abby was deeply spiritual, and knowledgeable about metaphysics and the occult, as well as having a very strong social conscience, and being a devotional, esoteric Christian. "A Christmas Carol" was not, I repeat, not, a "Ghost Story of Christmas"--as Dickens subtitled it--when it was originally written. I guarantee.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*His explanation for another series, written during this same period, was that he wrote them while teaching the class. What he appears to have done, on at least one or two occasions, was to insert his own dummy stanza in-between the two that Abby wrote for the class assignment, so as to create a three-stanza poem long enough to submit to journals. If you compare the content of the first and last stanzas with the middle stanza, you can clearly see that the "outer" ones in the "sandwich" make use of ethereal themes like stars, heavens and angels, while the middle stanza is worldly, having to do, for example, with a handsome, drunken god taking a drive with a goddess at harvest-time.
Music opening this page: "Ding Dong Merrily on High," sung by the Roger Wagner Chorale