I have spent the last several days proofreading and editing the 14th and final chapter of my book (not counting the Epilogue and Appendix), having recently incorporated a quantity of new evidence. That chapter is now 718 pages long, and thus requires some explanation (I am always mindful that I need to recap for anyone new, here). I first published this e-book in year 2012, thinking that I had found just about all the historical information there was to find on this obscure figure, Mathew Franklin Whittier. I was wrong.
One discovery led to another. Some of these discoveries were amazing, and what's more, they began to yield an entirely different picture of Mathew; one I had long felt, but was embarrassed to claim. He was gradually revealed, by these new "finds," to be a sort of Zorro figure, meaning, not that he donned a mask and cape, and went around slashing an "M" on rich peoples' curtains, but in the sense of how he kept under cover and behind the scenes; and in the sense of the reforms he was contributing to.
As I mentioned last entry, I started out with a few anecdotes recorded in conjunction with the historical record about his famous older brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, 10-15 personal letters, and a student thesis written in 1941. I then obtained almost all of the 63 sketches listed in the thesis, representing the only pseudonym he was acknowledged to have used.
I found that he was portrayed as a worldly man, an average writer, and a nihilist who drank and abandoned his family, but who was an "ominverous reader in his later years."
He turned out to be a literary genius who was deeply spiritual, who embraced Temperance in middle life but who fell off the wagon in later years, who was tricked into an arranged second marriage while still grieving his first marriage to his soul-mate, Abby Poyen, and who for many years supported that family after separating from his second wife, until, because of being blacklisted for his progressive beliefs, he became unable to support them. He was self-educated, at least as good a scholar as his famous brother, and a much deeper philosopher. I have found over 590 of his published works, now, including essays, poetry, reviews, short stories, travelogues, and humorous works written under a slew of pseudonyms, or sometimes even anonymously.
I also learned that he was probably an undercover liaison for Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, embracing Garrison's radical "disunionst" philosophy. Although I haven't tallied them, he must have written under at least 30 pseudonyms. He was frequently imitated, and frequently plagiarized. A great deal of the length of my book is due to the necessity of proving these thefts, so as to reclaim the bulk of Mathew's work. Some of them I can prove better than others, but it appears that he and Abby, together, were the original authors of "A Christmas Carol"; and that after she died, he was the original author of "The Raven." With a claim that outrageous, obviously I have to be able to back it up with facts. I did. That's why this chapter is longer than most books. But given that this is non-fiction (strictly truthful non-fiction), it's stranger and more entertaining than most fiction. Even so, you have to be motivated enough to read it and stick with it.
The irony emerges, that skeptics don't just want you to prove something--they want you to prove it quickly and easily. They want a magic trick, the proverbial rabbit being pulled out of a hat. But there is plenty of this if you look for it with a sincere, inquiring mind. Right now, I can send you into cyberspace, where you can watch medium Gordon Smith get the first, middle and last name of a grieving couple's late son. In the 19th century, you could see physical medium Daniel Dunglas Home float up to the ceiling and make a mark there. Evidence this powerful has been around for a long time. It isn't my place to provide this kind of "shock treatment." I've accomplished something else.
But, back to Chapter 14. As I kept on finding this new evidence, I could see that I had two choices: either completely re-write the book (which is what an author normally would have done, under these circumstances), or keep adding in the new information where it seemed to fit in the narrative. I chose the latter course, partly because I really didn't want to rewrite the book, I suppose...but the real reason was, that I was trying to prove reincarnation. That meant that I had to present the story of the research, itself. And that chronology, of when I discovered what, would be destroyed if I simply re-wrote it. I would then have a report, but not a narrative of the research process. I decided there are enough reports. You can take a report with a grain of salt--but a narrative, where you are brought along on the ride, can only be interpreted one of two ways. Either I was telling the truth, or I wasn't. Because if I'm telling the truth in this narrative of my research, I proved the case, flat-out.
So then, the challenge became to make this burgeoning final evidence chapter readable. That's what I put the finishing touches on, the last few days. I added topic subheadings, to the point that now, most sections are only a few pages in length. You can take it in bite-sized chunks; you can eat it like popcorn. Just read from subheading to subheading. But while it wasn't intentional, I could see from this latest (and hopefully last) editing run, that you never know when the next fascinating, amazing "find" will pop up. There are research surprises built into this chapter that will knock your socks off--either as regards Mathew's own life and literary work, or as regards verifying my past-life impressions. As regards literature attribution, these discoveries prove half a dozen scholars--and the legions of scholars who have believed them--flat wrong. As regards reincarnation, if you take this study as a whole, it's as strong as a good reading by Gordon Smith. But this proof is, necessarily, spread out through several hundred pages, and the effect is cumulative. I can tell you it's entertaining, and it is, but still, I'm not a fool--I know how long it is, and how people may balk as a result.
All of this either works for me, or against me. For me, in the sense that the periodic discoveries keep this lengthy chapter interesting; against me, in the sense that a typical reader may never actually get to see some of the most important discoveries, at all. Sigh. There is nothing I can do. I refuse to shorten it. I provide three summaries in the Appendix: a chronology of Mathew's life, a timeline for the research, and a summary of the evidence, which I call a "scorecard."
As regards the scorecard, some of my discoveries are so impactful, that most writers, using hype (or having hired a publicist), would be emblazoning them as highlights in their website presentation. I don't--I just let you find them in due course. I'll tell you that Mathew and his first wife, Abby, did write "A Christmas Carol"; and that it looks quite likely that Mathew wrote "The Raven," as well as one of its most popular parodies, after her death. Stated like that, these claims look absurd, don't they? But that's because you don't have the context. For that, you have to actually read the book. This isn't like seeing the magician pull the rabbit out of a hat; this is more like the magician instructing you to take the hat off his head, take it apart, sew it back together again, and then pull the rabbit out of it, yourself. But that takes more time, and it takes a little effort on your part.
Shall I give a small example? Okay, one of the most famous parodies of "The Raven" is called "The Vulture."* If you look it up online, you will see that, although it is unsigned, scholars tentatively attribute it to a Brit, one Robert Barnabas Brough, and they cite, as its first publication, the December 1853 edition of prestigious "Graham's Magazine," published in Philadelphia. But I found it published a year earlier, in the Boston "Carpet-Bag," precisely as one sees it in Graham's. The editorial convention, in the early 1850's, was to acknowledge the publication that one was borrowing from. Graham obviously stole this parody from "The Carpet-Bag," given that there is no such paper attribution. So right away, anything he has said on the subject is suspect.
Now, I have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that Mathew was probably a silent partner in this venture, "The Carpet-Bag." He submitted a great deal of material to it, under a variety of pseudonyums, and he actually set the tone for the paper from behind the scenes. It was he, not Benjamin Drew (as scholars also claim), who originated the paper's most successful series under the umbrella of "Trismegistus," including the popular characters "Ensign Stebbings" and "Dr. Digg." Furthermore, this parody, "The Vulture," is actually part of a series, and the other installments in that series are clearly written by a Boston resident (as for example a parody on the Bunker Hill Monument). Mathew kept a residence in Boston, and another in Portland, Maine, at this time. It is clearly written in his style, and it treats a subject dear to his heart, i.e., "bores." (His particular dislike of bores is even mentioned in an obituary, published in England.)
It's clearly not Brough, and with 99% certainty, I can claim it for Mathew Franklin Whittier.
This is one of scores of proofs and discoveries to be found throughout this book, which embarrass the scholars. I'm not pussyfooting around with this evidence. I've done my homework diligently.
Of course, during this last round of editing, I also tweaked a bit. I took the time to read all the quoted material, and found a handful of typos still lurking, therein. I tightened up my writing in a few places, added a few images, and so-on. But mostly I made sure it's easily readable. I even took out one or two unnecessary paragraphs; and in two places where it got tedious, I inserted a disclaimer, suggesting that if the reader didn't need to see all the detective work behind the assertion, he or she could skip those subheadings.
Now, one can take it at one's own pace. It's not necessary to read the entire book. Your $12.00 will be well-spend if you only read a fraction of it; but you simply will not get the full impact if you don't, and you'll be missing some incredible discoveries.
This book is not designed to prove reincarnation to an unwilling person. It is designed to be enjoyed by the reader who fully and joyfully immerses him- or herself in it. I have made sure that for that reader, despite its size, it will be a very enjoyable experience.
In this age of frantic activity and sound-bites, when external politics commands everyone's attention, perhaps a historical book proving reincarnation won't have a high demand. I find that the pattern in my website hits seems to indicate a slowly-growing number of people who are curious, but who, perchance, don't take it seriously enough to lay out $12.00 and a few weeks of their time to immerse themselves in it. I think that will change. Perhaps it will require a new generation who are sick and tired of sound bites, cyber messages, and hype. When the reaction against these things manifests, there may be a generation of spiritual seekers who will eagerly plunge into a work like this.
Or, if you are ahead of your time, you may wish to do so, now.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*On the Waterboro Public Library website, is a short page on Edward H. Edwell, editor of the Portland "Transcript," for which Mathew Franklin Whittier wrote unsigned lecture reviews of the Mercantile Library Association lecture series. As near as I can tell, he wrote all of these reviews, while Elwell was far too busy as editor to go into such depth with them. The Library states: "On the Henry D. Thoreau web site is a Portland Transcript review of an 1851 Thoreau lecture. The web site refers to it as 'the best-written and most insightful review of any Thoreau lecture.' The review is presumed to have been written by either Elwell or his fellow editor Erastus E. Gould." This is typical of Mathew's legacy, lost among various assumed attributions, but noted because of the quality of his writing. (As of 8/19 I was able to find the review, and though it, like all the others, is unsigned, it is undoubtedly Mathew's work.)
Music opening this page: "Gem," by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Up Close"