As I continue to key in my past-life letters to the editor of the Boston Weekly "Chronotype," year 1848, signed "X.F.W." and written by Mathew Franklin Whittier, I run across something I want to share for a more-interested posterity. This is a bit personal, and a bit embarrassing, but it is grist for the reincarnation research mill of the future, and should be noted along with everything else.
Doing a bit of under cover reporting at couple of New York gambling houses, Mathew exposes the trick which puts the house at an unfair advantage:
The game is played in silence, and with the closest attention of all parties. After each playing the dealer removes the bets which stand on the unlucky cards and beside those on the lucky ones puts as much more. So far, where the game is fairly played "on the square," technically, as it is understood to be at these two houses, there seems to be an equal chance between the bank and the individual better. The advantage of the former consists in the law of the game that where the losing card and the winning one are the same, as where each is a "ten," for instance, instead of it being a drawn game, the bank takes half of the bets on that card. This gives, as keepers of banks in this country say, about five per cent advantage to the bank, but as admitted in Europe and as is the fact, fifteen per cent. This it will be seen is a very great advantage, and where as much business is done as in Park Place ensures a large and steady profit to the proprietors, and the ruin of hundreds yearly who frequent their houses.
If I read this over several times, I can get the basic concept that instead of taking its half when the patron loses, the bank is also taking half of those instances when, by rights, the patron should have won the entire bet. And that there are enough of those instances to generate a substantial profit over time, given enough patrons. I still don't totally understand it. But as for calculating percentages...
I've indicated that Mathew was highly intelligent, and that I have his same "higher mind." I'm no slouch, myself, but there is a serious caveat--I have a great deal of difficulty with math. Mathew, however, didn't seem to have this handicap. There are any number of examples scattered throughout his writing--such as calculating the degree of an incline from the height of start and finish, given the length, and so-on. Again, reading the above, I get the sense of it, but I can't calculate it. On the other hand, one gets the feeling that it was a piece of cake for Mathew. I also know that he freelanced as a bookkeeper, whereas the whole idea of bookkeeping gives me the heebie-jeebies. What's up with this?
Well, first of all, Mathew probably didn't like bookkeeping. Secondly, I have forced myself to learn some pretty technical stuff in my early career as a typesetter, then in my next career in video production, and now, maintaining my own website and creating e-books. Even within this same lifetime, and having the same brain, I can't remember how to code the typesetting that I did in the late 1980's, a mere 30 years ago (I had originally written "40" and had to correct it). So when it has been 170 years and I had a different brain, it's no wonder I've forgotten the technical skills I had, then.
But in this life, there is some mild dyslexia, or something that makes doing math extremely difficult for me. It is as though I can't consciously remember enough individual items at one time, to manipulate numeric concepts. Whereas a normal person can juggle five or six balls in the air at one time, I get lost after two.
At my birth, my mother was given chloroform, and they overdosed her such that she went out. As a result, she stopped pushing and I was delivered by forceps. I suspect some mild damage was done, at that point (i.e., either from lack of oxygen during the delay, or from the forceps, themselves). But Mathew appears to have begun drinking in his later life, after years of being a Temperance man. I am wondering whether this isn't a karmic backlash from past-life alcohol abuse. In this life, even as a young man, the idea of getting drunk didn't appeal to me. I went through a brief phase of marijuana use, but I was only drunk twice--once, literally, as an experiment, and the second time when no pot was available. I got sick both times, and that was enough for me. I didn't like the high, and I didn't like the physiological effects.
So that's my best guess. I do know that not all talents come through from a past life into the present one. I gather that in a still-earlier life, I was an accomplished organist--but I struggle, in this life, to attain even a modest competency on keyboard. I feel that I should be able to do it, but I can't--except every once in awhile when I forget that I can't, and then, it leaves as quickly as it came.
So it's possible that math ability is simply a talent that didn't come through this time. When Mathew works math problems, I can feel how easy it was for him--and that he takes a subtle (or not so subtle) pride in it. In this life, I feel the shame of being so stupid in this area.
And yet, the remainder of Mathew's intelligence is intact, in me. Perhaps I am a bit plodding in comparison with his lightning-quick literary mind, I don't know. But as I have demonstrated in a recent entry, when pressed I can still get the job done.
Someday, people like me, with an identified past life and a great deal of documented material for comparison, will be valuable as subjects, precisely for the purpose of scientifically studying questions like this--questions which heretofore have been teachings and philosophy. Precisely what comes through? What doesn't? How, and why?
I spent the morning compiling a list of Mathew's pseudonyms, with location and date, to try to determine whether they could all logically be his work. Without presenting the tabulations themselves, here's my conclusion. Mathew had been writing to Elizur Wright, editor of the Boston "Chronotype," as "X.F.W." from New York city in 1848. Now, in mid-April, 1849, he begins another series from that city entitled "Gossip from Gotham," which is unsigned except for one entry, which is signed with the single initial, "B." If "X.F.W." was too obvious, he wasn't going to make the same mistake, twice. There are numerous style and personality clues which point to Mathew's authorship of this series, and there was one clincher (at least, by my lights) in the former "X.F.W." series--namely that he referred to Gen. Caleb Cushing as "Coot-Sing," just as he had under other pseudonyms.
Meanwhile, writing to the editor of the Boston "Weekly Museum" (to which Mathew has also been a frequent contributor under many different pseudonyms), he begins writing from Portland, Maine (where his estranged wife and his children live), in the March 10, 1849 edition. He writes one letter as "Rusticus," dated March 1, 1849; and one undated letter as "Down East," which is printed in the same edition, also from Portland.
That is the last we hear from "Rusticus," but "Down East" continues from various New England towns. The letters from New York under "Gossip from Gotham" also continue, through June 16, 1849, at which point Mathew begins writing from Philadelphia--a new series entitled "Kaleidoscopes of Our Metropolis." The first of these is signed "Vidi," the second is unsigned, and then they discontinue.
"Down East's" letters are staggered with the "Gossip from Gotham" letters, at an average interval of two days. This means Mathew has obtained a job with the postal service, in which he travels as an inspector--but unlike his travels which begin in the fall of 1849, these are shorter trips, lasting only a day or two. It takes roughly one day to travel by train from Boston to New York, to give some idea of travel times in the late 1840's.
"Down East" writes from Philadelphia on May 2, 1849; then from Portland on June 1st, and again on June 7th. But the June 7th letter is signed "B.," and it is from Westbrook, where he is ostensibly investigating a landslide. Westbrook is only a few miles from Portland. He has borrowed an old pseudonym from the "Gossip from Gotham" series, which he had only used once.
Another travel writer, signing "A.B.D.," appears with an undated letter in the same edition as the first "Kaleidoscopes" letter from Philadelphia, describing a New Hampshire militia training. This is one of Mathew's favorite subjects to ridicule, and the extended quote of a military officer upbraiding his "troops" sounds precisely like something out of Mathew's flagship series, "Ethan Spike." Clearly, it's either him, or a very skilled imitator, and I know of no contenders at that time. A.B.D. continues in the paper; eventually, he claims that he attended school at a place and time which conflict with Mathew's personal history. At that point I gave up theorizing he could be Mathew, when I wrote my first book--but it appears Mathew simply threw in that detail to throw off anyone who might be attempting to trace him (he pulled this sort of stunt numerous times--but typically there would only be one big, deliberate whopper in an entire series). He had been doing dangerous anti-slavery work under cover, and he had good reason to be concerned about his safety.
In the fall of 1849, Mathew begins writing as "Quails," a travelogue series which gained some popularity and drove up subscriptions to the Boston "Weekly Museum." When other correspondents and writers for the "Museum" noticed that "Quails'" itinerary seemed to coincide with that of entertainer Ossian Dodge, some of them began to hint that Dodge was the author. The editor, Charles A.V. Putnam, and Dodge, who were friends, colluded to strengthen this impression, until Putnam finally asserted it in print. Mathew was traveling with Dodge, occasionally, but "Quails" was never written by Dodge. Mathew didn't dare expose his authorship of the series, but he left some very broad hints, including having "Quails" meet with "Ethan Spike." Mathew's authorship of "Ethan Spike" wasn't publicly known until 1857.
These travelogues overlap, so Mathew appears to have been writing them simultaneously. However, eventually "Down East" diverges completely from "Quails," such that the former relocates in the South. At this point, my best guess is that Mathew handed the popular series off to another writer. This seems like an absurd theory, except that I've been able to show that Mathew did this with yet another travelogue series for the Portland "Transcript," written under the pseudonym "J.O.B."
There is a lot less speculation, and a lot more research, in these conclusions than meets the eye, because it took a 2,290 (or something like that) page book, and a sequel, to set forth all the data. So once again, don't think "That's all I've got."
This is what I think was happening in Mathew's life during this period. He had been pressured into a bad second marriage, by his family, and in particular by his mother, one year after his soul-mate, Abby, had died of consumption in 1841. Over the Christmas holiday of 1847, when he was back in Portland from New York, two of Abby's sisters visited him there. They shared some of Abby's written work; or shared something with him, which changed his entire view of the rationale for having entered that second marriage. Either he learned that Abby secretly wished he would never remarry; or he learned that some jealousy fears he had were entirely baseless. Or both.
At that point, emotionally, for him, that second marriage was over. He had been working away from home for some time, anyway, it being difficult to get work in Portland. Now, he would simply maintain the family in Portland, visit the children, but separate entirely from his second wife (with whom he had never had much in common). He may or may not have had a brief relationship with a woman who was superficially similar to Abby in some respects (being an attractive man who was suddenly unattached, and being powerfully attracted to girls who reminded him of her). All of this is based on pieces I've identified as his, which I'm not citing, here.
He had been working in New York; now, he made it his home base. At some point he obtained a position with the post office, which required that he travel throughout the New England states--probably, as a postal inspector. Thus, he could write travelogues about his trips, as well as letters from his home base; and he also visited his children in Portland, and could write from that city, as well. He wrote only under pseudonyms--and he mixed-and-matched them to prevent any violent pro-slavery people from discovering him and tracking him down. In mid-1849, he moved his home base from New York City to Philadelphia; but by the fall of that year, he had moved it again to Boston. At that time he began writing as "Quails," while either phasing out, or handing off, the other pseudonyms (as the editor saw fit).
In Oct. of 1849, Mathew wrote a letter to his brother, John Greenleaf Whittier, claiming that he had not been outside of the Portland city limits during the past 2-1/2 years, except brieftly to visit nearby Westbrook and Cape Elizabeth. If one were to take this literally, nothing I have theorized, above, could be accurate. I have dealt with this extensively in my book. I have two theories--either he was assuming that his enemies would open his letters (and/or his brother's), and he was deliberately throwing them off the scent; or else--and I think this is more likely--he and his family had been estranged, and his brother neither knew, nor cared, what he had been up to. (The content of the letter is consistent with this second interpretation.) They hadn't bothered to contact Mathew, because they had begun shunning him when he was disowned by the Quakers for having married Abby, who was not Quaker, in 1836. So they literally hadn't kept in touch with him until their mother got wind of the separation from his second wife, Jane, at which time she prevailed upon John Greenleaf to investigate and try to patch things up. I have more evidence bearing on this, including a letter from their sister Elisabeth to a friend, mentioning that her mother had been sick ever since returning from Portland.
As near as I can tell, the editor of the "Museum" doesn't seem to have known the identity behind some of these pseudonyms, at first--but later on, there is evidence that he did. He almost certainly knew that Mathew was "Quails"--but he hinted at Ossian Dodge being the writer, for reasons of his own. Mathew knew if he pushed the matter, Putnam might expose him. At first he played along with it, as though it was a joke. Finally, he realized he had really been betrayed. At that point, in mid-1852, the "Museum" was bought out by Dodge, himself, who renamed it "Dodge's Literary Museum." At that point he showed his true pro-slavery colors. Putnam went--I would say, "fled"--West, where some years later we find Samuel Clemens praising him as a sort of archetypal manly-man. But Putnam was of very poor character (which I can also prove).
Can you imagine Mathew creating multiple identities, each of which writes a travelogue at the same time? And then handing it off to another writer, perhaps at the request of the editor, because each had its own loyal readers?
I had never heard of such a thing when I started my research. I don't know if it occurred with any other writers, or in any other papers. But that's what I've concluded was happening at this point in Mathew's life. When the "Museum" changed hands--the "Chronotype" having already folded when editor Elizur Wright was pushed out--Mathew teamed up with B.P. Shillaber, who was editing a free, advertising-driven Boston paper called the "Pathfinder," to launch Boston's answer to "Punch," called "The Carpet-Bag." It was Mathew who ghost-wrote the faux biography of Shillaber's flagship character, "Mrs. Partington." That biography first appeared in the "Pathfinder," and then was reprinted (along with Mrs. Partington's portrait) in the "Carpet-Bag." Years later, Shillaber published it in "The Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington," for which he listed himself as the editor.
There's much, much more, because Mathew was working as a secret liaison to William Lloyd Garrison, reporting his contacts openly in his "Quails" travelogue, but in such a way that nobody suspected anything. This is why he had to let Putnam, the editor of the "Museum," and entertainer Ossian Dodge, get away with their ruse. He couldn't afford to defend his work openly.
I wrote the above as much for myself as for anyone else, because I will come back to it when I revise my sequel with these new findings. All I can say, is that you have no idea what a treat you're missing by not purchasing my books.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page: "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,"
from the album, "Switched On Bach 2000" by Wendy Carlos