Clues from Abroad in America

Last updated: 2019-11-26


Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation, 1776-1914 is a book written in 1976 by Marc Pachter. It's a book about people who came to visit American during its formative years, documenting their thoughts and opinions of this new nation. The reason that this is relevant to The Secret is that there are two exact quotations from Abraod in America embedded within two of the verses.

Taking these two references as a Fairies secret, I will propose additional, less explicit, references to Abroad in America found in other verses.

The Connection

As far as I can tell, q4t user forest_blight was the first to make the connection between The Secret and Abroad in America. He was able to tie 3 lines from Verse 2, to a passage in Abroad in America.

From Verse 7:

Here is a sovereign people
Who build palaces to shelter
Their heads for a night!

The Secret: A Treasure Hunt pg. 49

From Abroad in America:

Here is the sovereign people who build palaces to shelter their heads for a night!

Abroad in America pg. 110

With the exception of a single word (i.e. a vs the), the quotation is an exact match. This raises the question: why would Priess include an exact quote from this book? Another q4t user, Egbert asked: What would be the purpose of putting in these references which no one could figure out? The underlying assumption here being that Abroad in America would have been an obscure reference in 1982.

Perhaps by 2007 the book's 15 minutes of fame had been all but forgotten, but in 1976, it was very popular within academic circles. The book was released as part of a 3-part Bicentennial exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institute) in Washington, DC. People came from all over the world to view the exhibition. For example, Dr. and Mrs. Hiroshi Nakahama, who came from Japan. There was even a big article about it in the April 26, 1976 edition of the New Yorker. Not to mention that the hints from the Japanese edition of The Secret refer to it as a famous book. To this day, a quick Google search will bring up results of academic papers that make reference to Abroad in America. I think it fair to say that at least the intelligentsia, including Priess, considered Abroad in America to be a big deal in its time.

We know Byron Priess as a publisher and an author, as well as a creator of one the of the most challenging puzzles of all time. I don't think it is a stretch to consider him an academic, as someone who would have read The New Yorker, or someone who would be up to date with the current exhibitions at the Smithsonian. It does not seem unlikely for him to, not only be intimately familiar with the book, but also to have referred to it as famous.

It also does not seem all that far fetched to think that a book about Visitors to the New Nation (i.e. America), would play a role within a mythology based on immigration to America.

Explicit References

In the previous section I outlined the exact quote from Abroad in America that is embedded within Verse 2. In context, the quote is a reference to the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1847. The assumption here is that this three line stanza, is a reference to ultimately tie Verse 2 to Painting 7, through the quote in Abroad in America. The latitude/longitude hint in Painting 7 (29 / 90) gets us roughly to New Orleans. The Abroad in America hint in the Verse gets us to the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. That's a strong connection.

The second explicit reference related to Verse 6:

Edwin and Edwina named after him

The Secret: A Treasure Hunt pg. 51

From Abroad in America:

[H]e even had twin babies named after him, Edwin and Edwina Wilmont Blyden

Abroad in America pg. 164

This quote is taken from a section about a trip that Edward Blyden made to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1889. Again we see a quote from Abroad in America being used as a confirmation of the city. Painting 2 has a number of image confirmers for Charleston, such as map of Charleston in the mask, a representation of Fort Sumter, and latitude/longitude numbers in the lion's mane and whiskers. With such clear connections to Charleston in the image, perhaps BP wanted to put a more opaque reference to Charleston in the verse. The quote about an event from Blyden's time in Charleston definitively connects the Verse 6 to Painting 2 through Abroad in America.

Hidden References

The question now is whether Priess would stop at two references to Abroad in America. If there are additional references, they are not as explicit as the two mentioned above, i.e. there are no remaining exact quotes from the book in any of the verses. In order to find any references, we will need to do some investigation and draw some connections. After all, this is a puzzle; some times we might just need to put the right pieces together.

One of the most interesting pieces of information that really helped me solidify this theory came from a user on the 12 Treasures Facebook Group, Carly Perales. He proposed a really intriguing analysis of Verse 6 and Verse 10 (New York). In this analsyis, he shows a number of structural similarities between these two verses.

insert reference from facebook quote

His conclusion from this connection is that the solution for Charleston is going to be similar to to the solution for New York. Although I do tend to agree with that conclusion, further discussion it outside of the scope of this article.

My main takeaway from his analysis pointed me back towards Abroad in America. If there is an explicit reference to the book in Verse 6 and we accept that there is a connection between Verse 6 and Verse 10, then it follows that there may be an Abroad in America reference buried within Verse 10.

If there is a reference in Verse 10, the place that seemed the most obvious to start is arguably the most cryptic lines of all the verses:

The natives still speak
Of him of Hard word in 3 Vols.

With such a cryptic reference, it requires a lot of unpacking. Starting with the second line, you can see that it reads very oddly. It is an English sentence, but when you read it, it just does not make any sense. It is so strange because it is missing words. From my own research into Hard word and 3 Vols, I believe the line can be unpacked to:

Of him [, the author] of Hard [Times, published in Household] word[s] in 3 Vol[ume]s.

All of a sudden, the sentence makes sense; it reads much more like a run of the mill English sentence. It also points us to an actual person: Charles Dickens. Dickens first published his work Hard Times split into three volumes in his own publication called Household Words. It fits the line pretty well.

If you're still skeptical about this interpretation, we can review the Japanese hint for this line, which I believe also points to Dickens via the same process of filling in the missing words.

insert japanese hint

Starting with the word Chicken and applying the same expansion process to it, we get: Ch[arles D]icken[s]1. Again, the word play seems to fit pretty well.

Preiss has given us a line about Charles Dickens and is telling us that the natives still speak of him. Before getting to deep into questions about these natives, let's circle back to Abroad in America. Chapter 9 is all about Charles Dickens, specifically about the time that Dickens came to America. It describes the places he visited, the friends he made, and his impression of America at the time.

Remember from Verses 2 and 6, that the purpose of the Abroad in America reference was to confirm the city. If we have another reference here in Verse 10, then it seems fair to assume that the purpose of this reference is also to confirm the city. That would mean that the natives referred to in the line prior, are the natives of the city that Verse 10 belongs to.

In order to come to a conclusion about what city this is referring to, we need to dig into Chapter 9. ? what cities are referenced ? can we get new york from abroad in america alone ? do we need to make the blackwell island reference The author of this chapter, INSERT NAME heavily references Dickens' American Notes published in 1894, which was Dickens' own account of his journey in America. The connection from Verse 10, to Dickens, to Abroad in America gets us to American Notes.