I go on for ever…


Miles Mathis bumps into a handful of recurring numbers in his research: 1, 8, 33, 47.

I don’t think anyone has done this before, so let me try to demystify them. 1 may also be written as ‘I,’ the first person singular subject personal pronoun, (e.g., “I go on for ever.”) , not the numeral.

And 8, 33, and 47 are three ways of saying the same thing: Infinity. Once again, “I go on for ever.”

The numeral 8 may be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise in order to be transformed into a lemniscate (inifinity symbol). Similarly, a 33 is simply a lemniscate broken into halves. Finally, the safe prime number 47 also represents a lemniscate when the 4 is rotated counter-clockwise and the 7 clockwise and the two numbers joined.

To better understand the employment of the aforementioned numbers as meaningful signifiers, one may start by reading Baron Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, The Brook (1886).

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
   I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
   To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
   Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
   And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
   In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
   I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
   By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
   With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
   With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
   And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
   Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
   Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
   To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
   I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
   That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
   Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
   Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
   In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
   I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

The Brook, essentially, is blood.

An exclusive club named after the poem was founded in 1903 and is presently situated at 111 East 54th Street in Manhattan, a lovely building designed by Delano & Aldrich. Notable members include John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, John Jacob Astor IV, William K. Vanderbilt, Fred Astaire, Michael Bloomberg, as well as my own cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, John Hay Whitney*, who had honorary status, rather than a traditional membership. On closer examination of membership, one is under the distinct impression that the club is a shelter for elite gays, both yesterday and today.

Other Members

Gay Talese, the literary journalist (Read: Fiction) who helped manage the Manson hoax, is a member. The brand of literary journalism that Talese traffics in is now referred to as New Journalism, which is simply another way of saying State-sponsored propaganda.

I can’t confirm this here, but I believe Anthony Lejeune, who died last year, was a member. Pretty sure he was gay. Additionally, he got educated at Merchant Taylor’s, Northwood, which should tell you an awful lot about his pedigree and mission. He may very well be regarded by peers as The Brook’s unofficial biographer. Doubtless he had socked away copious notes on fellow members. I don’t know if OMT status was ever conferred on this Merchant Taylor’s alum, but it’s safe to say other OMTs were awarded entrée.

The Brook — Notice the Arrows/Rays in the Transom. What is a ray? A line with one endpoint — infinite in one direction, like a bloodline, if everything goes according to plan.

*John Hay Whitney bears the name of my 10G grandfather (his 9G), Puritan John Whitney, sometime member of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors**, one of the 12 Great City of London Livery Companies, prior to emigrating to the United States with his wife Elinor in 1635. I’m descended from John’s son Joshua, b. 15 July 1635 in Watertown, Mass., while John Hay is descended from Joshua’s brother Richard, born 12 years earlier in Isleworth, Middlesex, England.

In my research, I have taken the Whitney’s back to my 11G grandfather, Thomas Whitney, a gentleman, who was born c. 1550 in Westminster, England, though he is of unknown parentage. It has been suggested that Thomas is the son of Sir Robert Whitney, Knight, born 1525, Icomb, Gloucestershire, but the suggestion is apocryphal.

**As early as the end of the 17th century, the WCMT had morphed in function from a bona fide guild of tailors with ties to Savile Row into a philanthropic organization. Then, as now, philanthropic organizations were established as money laundering fronts.

Merchant Taylors’ Hall, London

I started this post in order to quickly demystify the signifiers 8, 33 and 47. But what does it all mean? In a word, with a little help from the Fates (or a lot + Money), bloodlines may be made to ‘murmur under moon and stars’ practically forever, at least in name and mandate. This wasn’t the case with John Hay, who did not have offspring of his own. Instead he married the ex-wife of James Roosevelt (son of FDR), Betsey Cushing, and adopted her children Kate and Sara.

But it remains the case with the this descendant of John Whitney…

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

My Descent from John Whitney:

Thomas Whitney, 1550/Mary Bray, 1564 → John Whitney, 1592/Elinor, 1595 → Deacon Joshua Whitney, 1635/Abigail Tarbell → Cornelius Whitney, 1680/Sarah Shepard, 1690 → Matthias Whitney, 1720/Alice Robbins, 1723 → Matthias Whitney, 1746 → Celia Whitney, b. 1785, of Litchfield, CT, my 5G Grandmother, who married James Jackson, 1778, NYC → Willet Jackson, 1812/Betsy Fanning Cummins, 1816 → James Adelbert Jackson, 1846/Alice Rosella Glidden, 1847 → Avis Gertrude Jackson, 1869/John Prescott McCrillis, 1869 → Alice May McCrillis, 1911/Samuel James Merring, 1911 → Linda Ann Merring, 1944/Thomas Walter Fahy, 1943 → Thomas Robert Fahy, 1977/Christina Jeanette Fahy, 1973 → Thomas Robert Fahy II, 2016

The descent from John Whitney is surely interesting, but there are others equally so, including my Glidden line, which finds an historical terminus in Bean MacDhomhnil, c. 1275, Scotland, first chief of Clan MacBean, through Jonathon Glidden’s (b. 1696, Exeter, Rockingham, NH) wife, Margaret Bean, my 7g Granny. I was happy to learn that John Bean, her grandfather and my 9g Grandfather, who was exiled to Exeter by the English, fought for the Royalists against Cromwell’s New Model Army. In other words, he fought for the right side in the English Civil War.

So far, I have been able to trace the Glidden’s back to my 12g Grandfather, John Glidden, b. 1550, Pancras, Bideford, Devon, England.

In future posts, I will be fleshing out my understanding of the Glidden and Whitney lines, as well as the Olmsteads, Jacksons, Sherwoods, Carters, Mays, and others.

Speaking of Miles Mathis, he has been a great inspiration to me. Were it not for him, my passion for genealogy mightn’t have been rekindled. He also gives great cat advice.

† Tennyson mentions ‘Philip’s Farm,’ by which I suggest he is alluding to Metacomet’s final resting place, Misery Swamp, a stone’s throw away from Mount Hope Farm, Bristol, RI, the summer encampment of the Pokanoket Tribe of the Wampanoags. Which is to say, I am of the opinion that The Brook is an oblique retelling of King Philip’s War, the aftermath of which served to anneal the character of the Puritans, hardening their hearts, tempering their spirits and renewing their singular devotion to the cause of the Merchant class.

Joshua Whitney and his son Joshua Whitney Jr. both fought in King Philip’s War and I would assume that had no uncertain impact on the both of them as men, brothers, sons, and fathers.

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