Friday, October 9, 2009

Letter From Neilson Poe to Maria Clemm


October 11, 1849

Baltimore, Oct. 11, 1849

My Dear Madam,

I would to God I could console you with the information that your dear son Edgar A. Poe is still among the living. The newspapers, in announcing his death, have only told a truth, which we may weep over and deplore, but cannot change. He died on Sunday morning, about 5 o’clock, at the Washington Medical College, where he had been since the Wednesday preceding. At what time he arrived in this city, where he spent the time he was here or under what circumstances, I have been unable to ascertain.
It appears that, on Wednesday, he was seen and recognized at one of the places of election in old town, and that his condition was such as to render it necessary to send him to the College, where he was tenderly nursed until the time of his death. As soon as I heard that he was at the College, I went over, but his physicians did not think it advisable that I should see him, as he was very excitable. The next day I called and sent him changes of linen and was gratified to learn that he was much better. And I was never so much shocked, in my life, as when, on Sunday morning, notice was sent to me that he was dead. Mr. Herring and myself immediately took the necessary steps for his funeral, which took place on Monday afternoon at four o’clock. He lies alongside his ancestors in the Presbyterian burial ground on Green Street.
I assure you, my dear madam, that, if I had known where a letter would reach you, I would have communicated the melancholy tidings in time to enable you to attend his funeral — but I was wholly unaware of how to address you. The body was followed to the grave by Mr. Herring, Dr. Snodgrass, Mr. Z. Collins Lee, and myself. The service was performed by the Reverend William T. D. Clemm, a son of James T. Clemm -- your distant relative. Mr. Herring and myself have sought, in vain, for the trunk and clothes of Edgar. There is reason to believe that he was robbed of them, whilst in such a condition as to render him insensible of his loss.
I shall not attempt the useless task of consoling you under such a bereavement. Edgar has seen so much of sorrow – had so little reason to be satisfied with life – that, to him, the change can scarcely be said to be a misfortune. If it leaves you lonely in this world of trouble, may I be allowed the friendly privilege of expressing the hope that, in the contemplation of all the world to which he has gone and to which we are all hastening, you will find consolations enduring and all sufficient. I shall be glad, at all times, to hear from you, and to alleviate, in every way in my power, the sorrows to which this dispensation may expose you. I only wish my ability was equal to my disposition.
My wife unites with me in expressions of sympathy.

Truly your friend and servant,

Neilson Poe

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