Saturday, October 10, 2009

Colonel J. Alden Weston, Eyewitness to Poe's Funeral


On a cold dismal October day, so different from the ordinary genial weather of that climate, I had just left my home when my attention was attracted to an approaching hearse, followed by hackney carriages, all of the plainest type. As I passed the little cortage some inscrutable impulse induced me to ask the driver of the hearse, "Whose funeral is this?" And to my intense surprise received for answer, "Mr. Poe, the poet." This being my first intimation of his death, which occurred at the hospital the previous day (Sunday) and was not generally known until after the funeral.
Immediately on this reply I turned about to the graveyard, a few blocks distant. On arrival there five or six gentlemen, including the officiating minister, descended from the carriages and followed the coffin to the grave, while I, as a simple onlooker, remained somewhat in the rear.
The burial ceremony, which did not occupy more than three minutes, was so cold-blooded and unchristianlike as to provoke on my part a sense of anger difficult to suppress. The only relative present was a cousin (a noted Baltimore lawyer), the remaining witnesses being from the hospital and the press.
After these had left I went to the grave and watched the earth being thrown upon the coffin until entirely covered. Then, I passed on with a sad heart and the one consolation that I was the last person to see the coffin containing all that was mortal of Edgar Allan Poe.
In justice to the people of Baltimore I must say that if the funeral had been postponed for a single day, until the death was generally known, a far more imposing escort to the tomb and one more worthy of the many admirers of the poet in the city would have taken place, and attended from Virginia and elsewhere.

Colonel J. Alden Weston,
The Baltimore Sun, March 1909

No comments:

Post a Comment