Saturday, October 10, 2009

Letter From Elmira Shelton to Maria Clemm


October 11, 1849

Richmond, October 11th, 1849

My Dear Mrs. Clemm,

Oh, how shall I address you, my dear, and deeply afflicted friend under such heart-rending circumstances! I have no doubt, ere this, you have heard of the death of our dear Edgar! Yes, he was the dearest object on earth to me: and, well assured am I, that he was the pride of your heart.
I have not been able to get any of the particulars of his sickness and death, except an abstract from the Baltimore Sun, which said that he died on Sunday, the 7 th of this month, with congestion of the brain, after an illness of 7 days.
He came up to my house on the evening of the 26 th of September to take leave of me. He was very sad, and complained of being quite sick. I felt his pulse and found he had considerable fever, and did not think it probable he would be able to start the next morning (Thursday) as he anticipated. I felt so wretched about him all of that night, that I went up early next morning to inquire after him, when, much to my regret, he had left in the boat for Baltimore.
He expected certainly to have been with his "dear Muddy" on the Sunday following, when he promised to write to me. And after the expiration of a week, and no letter, I became very uneasy, and continued in an agonizing state of mind, fearing he was ill, but never dreamed of his death, until it met my eye in glancing casually over a Richmond paper of last Tuesday.
Oh, my dearest friend, I cannot begin to tell you what my feelings were, as the horrible truth forced itself upon me! It was the most severe trial I have ever had. And God alone knows how I can bear it. My heart is overwhelmed. Yes, ready to burst!
How can I, dear Muddy, speak comfort to your bleeding heart? I cannot say to you weep not, mourn not, but I do say, do both, for he is worthy to be lamented. Oh, my dear Edgar, shall I never behold your dear face and hear your sweet voice saying, "Dearest Muddy!" and "Dearest Elmira?" How can I bear the separation?
The pleasure I had anticipated on his return with you, dear friend, to Richmond was too great ever to be realized, and should teach me the folly of expecting bliss on earth. If it will be any consolation to you, my dear friend, to know that there is one who feels for you all that human can feel, then be assured that person is Elmira.
Willingly would I fly to you, if I could add to your comfort, or take from your sorrows. I wrote you a few weeks ago. I hope you received the letter. It was through the request of my dearest Eddy that I did so and when I told him I had written to you, his joy and delight were inexpressible.
I hope you will write to me as soon as possible and let me hear from you, as I shall be anxious about you incessantly until I do. Farewell, my stricken Friend, and may an All-Wise and Merciful God sustain and comfort us under this heart-breaking dispensation, is the fervent and hourly prayer of your afflicted and sympathizing friend.

Elmira Shelton

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