Text: Henry F. Cook, “Edgar A. Poe,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. X, no. 27, June 30, 1855, pp. 424-425


[page 424, column 4, continued:]

Edgar A. Poe.

Baltimore, June, 1855.

MR. EDITOR: — The statement of a correspondent of the St. Louis Republican, respecting the late Edgar Allan Poe, copied in your issue of the 9th inst. contains an error which, if suffered to pass uncontroverted, would cast a burning shame upon the character of the Monumental City. The said correspondent says that the remains of Poe are suffered to be neglected in the Potters Field. Permit me to assure you that his assertion is entirely erroneous, as the body of Poe was interred in the Presbyterian Burial Ground, situated at the comer of Green and Fayette Streets, in the city of Baltimore ; one of the most respectable places of burial connected with the city. There is no cemetery where his grave could have been made, that it could have been more readily visited than where it is, and none where in all probability it would rest more undisturbed.

Few interments have taken place in the Ground [page 425:] for several years past, and the trustees of the premises determined to adopt the beautiful rural custom of associating the grave-yard and the church, and have accordingly erected over the remains of a portion of the dead, a house of worship of beautiful proportions.

The building is elevated from the surface of the earth, supported by open arches rising from the ground, thus avoiding any necessity of disturbing the dead, and rendering access easy to all parts of the ground. He rests in this beautiful cemetery; and here the pilgrim to the tomb of genius, may repose in the shadow of the church, and contemplate with pleasure upon the works of that intellect whose earthly tenement lies mouldering beneath his feet.

It is true, however, that no suitable memorial designates the place of his burial; and he, whose name through Europe and America is a synonym with excellence in a certain branch of composition, has not a marble slab to tell where rests his dust. This is no doubt partly owing to his moral character ; and here let me say, that I believe his faults have been grossly exaggerated.

Each successive writer respecting him appears to have vied with his predecessors in blackening his character. This disposition has finally attained its acme in that scandalous paper on Poe in Gilfillan’s Third Gallery of Literary Portraits, in which he is characterized by epithets too disgraceful to be applied to any man that has passed to eternity; but the article is only analogous to others from the pen of the same author. It must also be remembered that Poe was called upon to suffer that frequent and most severe affliction — the want of appreciation by the world of his genius, till it was too late to result in any benefit to him. He was known to comparatively few persons in Baltimore, and appreciated by a still less number, so that his death attracted but little attention, and his funeral cortege consisted of eight persons. But his reputation is now world-wide; his genius has engraven his name on a more enduring tablet than marble. The “Fall of the House of Usher,” and the “Raven,” must perpetuate his fame.

The citizens of Baltimore will, however, doubtless yet erect some appropriate monument to his memory, with the simple inscription — Poe, author of the “Raven.”





The author of the letter, Henry Furlong Cook, was born in Maryland in 1832 and died in 1897 at the age of 65. He married Catherine Eugenia Jarboe about 1869. He is buried in Greenmount Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was a member of Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Episcopal Church, having apparently joined about 1872, when that church was first opened. About 1832, his father, Rev. Isaac P. Cook, a Methodist Minister, had founded a book-seller’s and stationary business, initially at 52 Baltimore Street, near Paca, and later at 76 W. Baltimore Street, near the corner of Baltimore and Pine Streets. His son, Henry, was listed in Matchett’s Baltimore Directory as a clerk at the shop by 1860, and he had assumed control of the business by 1877. His letter appears to be the first time that the number of attendents of Poe’s funeral was printed. The specific source for this information is unnamed, but might have been obtained from various people, particularly as Cook seems to have grown up living so close to the cemetery grounds. Although Henry Cook does not appear to be claiming any personal knowledge, it is possible that his father, Isaac Cook, might even have known the Poe family when they were living on Amity Street, which is only a few blocks away.

This letter is in response to a brief entry in the issue for June 9, 1855 (vol. X, no. 24, p. 377, cols. 1-2):

What a shame! A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican is calling public attention to the fact that the remains of the later Edgar A. Poe are still reposing in an obscure corner of the Potter’s Field in Baltimore. He says: —

“It seems as if, in the ‘Monumental City,’ a little slab, at least, might be raised, inscribed with the poet’s name. It would speak to many hearts Poe, the noble, though shattered column in our Muses’s temple, whose poems, like some of Coleridge and Shelley, tremble with that strange melody which is not often vouchsafed to be breathed by human tongues. His tomb would be pleasurable and useful to many who love to pay pious pilgrimages to the grave of genius.”



[S:0 - WM, 1855] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Edgar A. Poe (H. F. Cook, 1855)