Text: J. E. Snodgrass, “Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe — His Death and Burial,” Los Angeles Star (Los Angeles, CA), vol. VI, no. 16, August 30, 1856, p. 1, cols. 3-4


[page 1, column 3, continued:]

Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe — His Death and Burial.

Dr. Snodgrass, of Baltimore, gives the following account of the manner of Mr. Poe’s death and burial:

”On a chilly and wet November afternoon, I received a note, stating that a man, answering to the name of Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe, who claimed to know me, was at a drinking saloon in Lombard street, Baltimore, in a state of deep intoxication and great destitution. I repaired immediately to the spot. It was an election day. When I entered the bar-room of the house, I instantly recognized the face of one that I had often seen, and knew well, although it wore an aspect of vacant stupidity that made me shudder. The intellectual flash of his eye had vanished, or rather had been quenched in the bowl; but the broad[[,]] capacious forehead of the author of “The Raven,” as you have appropriately designated him, was still there, with a width[[,]] in the region of ideality, such as few men have ever possessed. But perhaps I would not so readily have recognized him, had I not been notified of his apparel. His hat, or rather the hat of somebody else, for he had evidently been robbed of his clothing, or cheated in an exchange, was a cheap palm leaf one, without a band, and soiled; his coat, of commonest alpacca, and evidently second-hand; and his pants of grey mixed cassimere, dingy[[,]] and badly fitting. He wore neither vest nor neck-cloth, if I remember aright, while his shirt was sadly crumpled and soiled. He was so utterly stupified with liquor, that I thought it best not to seek recognition or conversation, especially as he was surrounded by a crowd of drinking men, actuated by idle curiosity rather than sympathy. Immediately I ordered a room for him, where he could be comfortable until I got word to his relatives — for there were several in Baltimore. Just at that moment, one or two of the persons referred to, getting information of the case, arrived at the post [[spot]]. They declined to take private care of him, assigning[[,]] as a reason, that he had been very abusive and ungrateful on former occasions, when drunk, and advised that he be sent to a hospital. He was accordingly placed in a coach, and conveyed to the Washington College Hospital, and placed under the care of the competent and attentive physicians of that institution. So insensible was he, that we had to carry him to the carriage, as if a corpse. The muscles of articulation seemed paralyzed to speechlessness[[,]] and mere incoherent mutterings were all that could be heard.

He died in the hospital, after some three of four days, during which time he enjoyed only occasional and fitful seasons of consciousness. His disease, as will have been anticipated, was mania a potu — a disease whose finale is always fearful in its maniacal manifestations. In one of his more lucid moments, when asked by the physician whether he would like to see his friends, he exclaimed: “Friend! My best friend would be he who would take a pistol and blow out my brains, and thus relieve me of my agony.[[!]]” These were among his last words.

So much for the manner of the death of Mr. Poe. It has been called forth by statements published in the newspapers, hinting that he had died “by his own hand.”

Now for the manner of his burial:

The remains of the author of the “Raven” do not lie moldering in a corner of the Potter’s Field, at Baltimore. The truth, as I remarked[[,]] is bad enough, and discreditable enough to his relatives, not to say the city where he died. He was interred in an old Presbyterian burying-ground on Green [[Greene]] street, which has not been much used for many years. On a portion of it a church has since been erected, but not over his grave. In the removal of the dead, which will sooner or later take place, it is quite probable the bones of “Poor Poe” will be collected among the remains of the friendless and the unknown, and removed beyond recognition, for nothing but a couple of pine boards [column 4:] were placed at his grave, in lieu of grave-stones. But worse than this, and far more discreditable to relate, there were no planks placed over the coffin, as is usual in all decent burials, and the earth was thrown directly upon it.[[!]]

This was a most harrowing circumstance to my feelings. The impressions of it have never been erased from my memory. Even now, as I write this hurried letter, I seem to hear the clods rattle on that unprotected coffin, in contemptuous derision of the transcendent genius of its occupant! It must have been equally so to the two relatives, the single other attendant, besides the officiating clergyman, who was himself a relative of the deceased, and who, with the undertaker, the two coachmen, and myself, made up the entire funeral cortege.”



This reprint seems to confirm that the Spiritual Telegraph contains the full text of the original article. This printing removes references to the Women’s Temperance Paper, in which the article originally appeared. There are minor differences in word order and punctuation, and a few verbal substitutions of no great signficance (in part because they appear to have been made without special authority).


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