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9/6/18

No single agenda this morning, I'm just going to ramble...

Over a period of a few days, the stats for this website plummetted from a high of 443 on the 30th of last month, to a low of 279, on Sept. 3. Whether it will settle in around 250, as it used to, remains to be seen. I puzzle over these fluctuations, but can discern no definite cause. What I'm afraid may be happening, is that, briefly, people were interested when I was providing evidence that Mathew Franklin Whittier was the real author of "The Raven," and that Edgar Allan Poe was little better than a con-artist who dishonestly played the role of a literary genius, by stealing the work of other authors, and by generally bullshitting his way through his explanations as to how he had supposedly written them. But it didn't wash with those readers; and now it's "yesterday's news." Nobody was convinced; nobody followed up.

So be it. Yesterday, having completed my latest gigantic project of keying in Mathew Franklin Whittier's newly-discovered published articles, I turned toward repairing the spines of some of my antique newspaper volumes. I had left one at a bookbinder's shop for professional repair, and after six months he still hadn't gotten to it. Fearing that the shop might close and I might have one heck of a time retrieving my (still unrepaired) volume, I bought some archival tape on Ebay, brought the volume back home, and repaired it, myself. So yesterday I set about repairing about five or six other volumes.

While I was in my collection, of course I leafed through them. I didn't find anything new of Mathew's work. In fact, while I was perusing the 1858 Portland "Transcript," I didn't find anything of his at all. Then I remembered--during this period, Mathew was in the northern central states--Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio. I know what he was doing there, but no need to go into that. The point is, there aren't any large gaps in his personal history, anymore. For years, there were. But now, after nine years of research, I pretty-much know his entire life story--and it's a complicated story.

I have asserted, in my discussion of authors who stole work from Mathew, how common plagiarism seems to have been in the 19th century. I did run across this little notice by the first editor of the Portland "Transcript," a personal friend of Mathew's named Charles P. Ilsley. In the "To Correspondents" column, Charles communicates the following:

Although Mathew has used variations on his initials, this isn't he. As said, he and Charles Ilsley are personal friends; Mathew doesn't write on topics like "infuriated tigers"; and Mathew is scrupulously honest about attributions. My point is, when I theorize that a now-famous author plagiarized from Mathew, and got away with it, this isn't as unlikely as it might seem. People were stealing literature from each other all the time, then. I've mentioned that Ilsley was an amateur cryptologist. It appears he had a mind like a steel trap, in an age before you could simply do a digital search in your files. I have concluded, from my study of this era, that there were people who put themselves on the literary map by pouring through old newspapers, and claiming the best anonymous work they could find. It was common to use a pseudonym, or to sign with your initials only, in an era of Victorian sensibilities about pride and ambition. So these crooks took advantage.

Unfortunately, Mathew was especially naive, and he took it a step further--he would share his unpublished poems with aspiring authors, or with colleagues. The ethical ones, of course, would never try to pass the poems off as their own--but then there were a few with the moral development of Edgar Allan Poe, who did. For example, one a rank amateur of a poet named Robert Johnson from Norwich, Conn.--a town which lay on Mathew's route as a postal inspector--appears to have stolen one of Mathew's works-in-progress, and given it his own absurdly long, Biblical title.*

This means it's not only likely, it's a foregone conclusion that any especially talented author, who followed this protocol of anonymity, was going to be plagiarized. And that any author foolish enough to share unpublished work was likely, sooner or later, to see it in print under another name. Some of these plagiarists simply wanted credentials sufficient to land a job in journalism; some of them wanted literary fame. Both types would typically get their foot in the door with their pilfered poems, or stories; then, having achieved a reputation, they would attempt to sustain it as long as they could on the basis of their own, inferior work.

The evidence for Edgar Allan Poe having done precisely that, is staring us right in the face. All that was needed was to identify at least one of the authors he stole from. Mathew was one of them--whoever originally wrote "Al Aaraaf" was another. Meanwhile, it was Poe who wrote "Ulalume," and "The Philosophy of Composition," as he attempted to fake the role of a poetic genius.

Recently, I remarked that of the Transcendentalists, A. Bronson Alcott appears to have been a very deep thinker--contrary to what I vaguely recall was Mathew's impression of him. What I seem to remember, is that Mathew thought him a fool. But here's something from his book of "Orphic Sayings." I found this quote in a modern biography of the Alcotts, entitled "Eden's Outcasts" by author John Matteson. Matteson cites it as an example of how vague and convoluted Alcott's thinking was. But it must have gone right over his head. This is neither vague nor convoluted--it's right on-target, and compares favorably with teachings I have studied, given by the most advanced mystics on the planet:

We need, what Genius is unconsciously seeking, and, by some daring generalization of the universe, shall assuredly discover, a spiritual calculus, a novum organon, whereby nature shall be divined in the soul, the soul in God, matter in spirit, polarity resolved into unity, and that power which pulsates in all life, animates and builds all organizations, shall manifest itself as one universal deific energy present alike at the outskirts and centre of the universe, whose centre and circumference are one; omniscient, omnipotent, self-subsisting, uncontained, yet containing all things in the unbroken synthesis of its being."

Should I attempt to deconstruct this for you? It would take me a long entry, and I would have to quote sources and cite them. I'll just poke into it a bit to give you an idea.

"Genius" is not "smarts." It is inspiration--and inspiration comes from a higher source, a non-physical, spiritual source. All genius is seeking that source, consciously or unconsciously. The mystic seeks that Source which not only intellectually explains everything, but which opens direct supra-rational perception, i.e., Gnosis. The source of all the intelligence and beauty in Nature, is actually to be found within the soul; and the soul is as a drop to the Ocean of God. So the power and beauty found in Nature, is as a sign leading to the soul; and the soul, or deepest Self, is found to be in God, and of God. In that Source, all polarities are resolved into Unity. It is omnipresent and omniscient, with no boundaries or limits--but "It" is also Personal; "whose centre and circumference are one." God is self-existent, contained by nothing, yet containing all.

One will find, if one looks up the "Master's Prayer" given by my Guru, Meher Baba, that what Alcott has said, here, compares very favorably to it. And that is the highest praise I could give to any mystic.

And yet Matteson cites this just to demonstrate how vague and foggy Alcott was. Supposedly, that is why "Orphic Sayings" didn't sell very well (as I recall reading Matteson's book); and why economic necessity finally forced him to tone it down, and launch a tour of "conversations" which were much lighter. Meanwhile, his daughter, Louisa May Alcott, took the matter into her own hands, and began writing popular fiction for the masses. They had to eat.

I am in a similar position, today, except that I refuse to tone it down. Instead, I wipe old men's behinds for a living, and pay my rent with my Social Security.

This is what ignorant Society does to its leading thinkers and visionaries.

What else...

It is no accident that Edgar Allan Poe, the bullshitter, got famous in an ignorant Society. The world wasn't ready for the likes of Mathew Franklin Whittier. It isn't ready for me, or for any number of those like me, who languish, unappreciated, out there. It is ready only for the stepped-down version. The stepped-down version is either provided by the real sages, who need to eat; or by thieves and imitators who steal work which is over their heads, and adulterate it for the masses.

This probably sounds grandiose. It is no such thing. It is, simply, frustration. Perhaps I had best stop for today, until I get myself into a better mood. My back hurt last night, which meant I didn't sleep well. That happened because I slacked off on fiber for a couple of days. At age 64, if you neglect any part of your routine, you pay for it very quickly. Hopefully I'll be able to get a nap today, because if I don't, I'll be struggling not to fall asleep this evening, as I sit vigil for a slowly-dying man. If one of the nurses comes in and finds me asleep, and reports it to the company I work for, I could lose my job. If I lose my job, I'll have a heck of a time getting another one, with this bizarre internet presence. You see the domino effect. I should be doing radio interviews, and conferences, and selling books--at least enough to afford a little place out in the country somewhere, and to put modest food on the table. This is Societal shunning due to ignorance. Don't think it isn't, and don't think I don't know.

[After a shower] I hate to leave today's entry like this...the truth is that the work I do is similar to work my Guru did, during certain phases of his life. He ran an ashram for the mentally ill, personally bathing them, feeding them, and even cleaning the latrines. If he can do it, certainly, I can do it.

It occurred to me to share something with you from my book, which will give you an idea of how Mathew became a shadowy figure, working for justice behind the scenes, for all the world like a literary "Zorro." After Abby's death, he came across a delightful little poem by an unknown poet named Harry Klapp, entitled "The Little Night Owl." It was printed in the Portland "Transcript" (a paper Mathew frequently contributed to) as follows:

THE LITTLE NIGHT-OWL.
By Harry Klapp.—Lower Salford.

The little night-owl
Thou may'st not harm,
For his moonlight prowl,
And his shrill alarm;
Like the moon and the bat,
He is not for day,
But he cannot help that,
The night-owl grey.

Ho-o! hoo! but he means no wrong,
He only sings as he learned the song.

When he taketh his nap
In a hollow limb,
The woodpecker's tap
Disconcerteth him;
And he dreads the eye
Of the prying jay,
More than thou the cry
Of the screech-owl grey.

Ho-o! hoo! but he means no wrong,
He only sings as he learned the song.

There’s no merrier bird
In the forest brown,
Tho’ he’s seldom heard
Till the sun goes down;
Then he wakes in his cell,
And he peers about,
And he whoopeth well
As the stars peep out.

Ho-o! hoo! but he means no wrong,
He only sings as he learned the song.

Mathew wrote a poem in response--clearly indicating that he was doing so. You can see that Mathew is strictly honest about matters of attribution. But look at what he writes--because, true to his word, this is precisely what he is going to do, for the next 20 years, in order to fight Societal ignorance, and especially, slavery. This appears in the April 15, 1843 edition of the Portland "Transcript" (two years before "The Raven" is published). Abby had died on March 27, 1841, so he is approaching the two-year anniversary of her death.

The Great Cat Owl.
In imitation of Harry Klapp's "Little Night Owl."
[Original]

An eccentric fowl
Is the great Cat Owl:
In the dark old wood
He loveth to brood
All sullen and lone.

Whoop, hurrah! For the Cat Owl grey,
He loves the night, but hates the day.

O! heavy and grave
is his solemn stave—
A musical bird
Is the Owl I ween,
When his voice is heard
From his cover green.

Whoop, hurrah, for the Cat Owl grey,
He loves the night but hates the day.

When at the close of day
He hunts for prey,
More dread to the coop
Than Reynard’s prowl!
Is the mighty swoop
Of the fierce grey Owl.

Whoop, hurrah, for the Cat Owl grey,
He loves the night but hates the day.

Though never a word
From his beak is heard,
Yet he thinks the more
Which is just as good,
For his thoughts don’t bore
As his talking would.

Whoop, hurrah, for the Cat Owl grey,
He loves the night but hates the day.

Huzza for the Owl!
The great pattern fowl,
The wise and the brave,
The roost-robber grim
And the songster grave,
Long life unto him!

Whoop, hurrah, for the Cat Owl grey,
He loves the night but hates the day.

Poins.

"Poins" is a provable signature for Mathew. "Reynard the Fox" is a character in La Fontaine's fables, which were published the year of Abby's death, 1841, by Mathew's friend, Elizur Wright. I believe that Abby had Mathew translate those fables from the French, and put them into English verse, as part of her private tutoring curriculum; and that Mathew gave them to Wright for publication, after Abby's death. Psychic medium, Candace Zellner, said (per my notes) in a 2010 reading:

As a result of Abby’s death, his heart wasn't in it after that. He didn't show his emotion, depression. Abby was his soul mate. They had overcome great obstacles to be together, her death was unexpected. He never thought he'd live so long without her. Became withdrawn, eccentric.

This was long before I had supporting evidence from the historical record. The superficial record--primarily, what you find connected with the official John Greenleaf Whittier legacy--would have you believe that Abby was just a pretty face, who Mathew got over fairly quickly. Aside from Candace's statement, I knew differently. Eventually I was able to prove it with bells on, from numerous references in short stories, and from several poems, including tribute poems written after Abby had died.

Mathew continued, in her name, to champion the causes they had worked for, together. But now he did it clandestinely--behind dozens, if not hundreds of pseudoynms; through personal contacts; by publishing favorable reviews of speakers who were working for the same causes, so as to promote them. By writing openly in support of those causes when his editor was liberal (like Elizur Wright); and symbolically, when his editors were conservative. He kept Abby's memory alive in and through a great many of his works, the details being disguised; and he fulfilled their joint mission as best he could. I think he may have been more effective than we know. For example, did his open letter to President Lincoln, chiding him for not emancipating the slaves, have an influence? Did his satire of the military mentality regarding the supposed glory of war (i.e., for its own sake), cause anyone to rethink their attitudes? Mathew published for over 30 years after Abby's death--what part of their ideals he was able to express, and to how large an audience, is impossible to calculate. But I think he had an impact--and even keeping myself out of the picture, I would like to see him receive due credit for it.

Toward this end, recently I have been feeling that the first order of business is to wrest two of his now-famous works--"A Christmas Carol" (co-authored with Abby), and "The Raven," from their respective plagiarists. That will establish and demonstrate Mathew and Abby's power and credibility. Once they are taken seriously--and it is always the biggest hurdle, just to be taken seriously--I think the rest will flow, from there.

Incidentally, the very first piece I opened to proofread this morning, after completing the above, was Mathew's announcement regarding naturalist Louis Agassiz, who would be spending two years researching and lecturing in the United States. Mathew closes his Oct. 29, 1846 letter to the editor of the Boston "Chronotype," Elizur Wright, as follows:

Some may think more of him to know that when he was in England he resided, by Queen Victoria's invitation, at Windsor Palace; and that when he was in Russia, the Emperor Nicholas treated him with the utmost respect and attention. You, I think, will be more impressed by the way in which he can make the bones of animals which perished thousands of years ago tell of the history of the Earth as it was then. I cannot say positively that he can make them talk in rhyme as good and as beautiful as LaFontaine's Fables, American translation--but he can make them speak wisely and well.

    Very truly your friend,  *

Here's another reference to La Fontaine's Fables, the version published by Wright, as he is writing a letter to him. Either Mathew was extremely impressed by this English translation of the Fables in verse, and is complimenting his friend accordingly; or else, it's an inside joke between the two of them, and he had actually written these verses, or the majority of them, himself. (That was Mathew's MO, as far as bragging on his own work was concerned.) The asterisk, Mathew's "star," is a confirmed signature for him, which I've discussed, before. It signified his soul, and was a reference to Abby's belief that their souls were as twin stars in heaven. After her death, for the remainder of his writing career, he would occasionally sign as the remaining star. Also, I both feel, and gather from several clues, that Abby particularly admired Queen Victoria. What Mathew is no-doubt thinking, here, is that Abby would have been impressed.** Thus did he bring Abby, and what she had taught him, into his work.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

*The details are given in "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words."

**Despite Mathew being no particular fan of aristocracy, especially the snooty variety, he never had a harsh word for Queen Victoria. When in Europe, writing as "Quails," he made a point to see her pass by in a carriage from about eight feet away, and praised her appearance (defending her against unkind opinions expressed by some Americans). Abby, herself, was descended on her father's side from French aristocracy, inasmuch as her father was a marquis.

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Music opening this page: "Parvardigar," composed and performed by Pete Townshend
on the album "Who Came First," based on the "Master's Prayer" by Meher Baba

 

   

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