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EDGAR ALLAN POE - Part 29

From Richmond he wrote hopefully to Mrs. Clemm ; he engaged himself to marry Mrs. Shelton; and he left with many Richmond people the memory of a sad, sober man. Among these was Mrs. Susan Archer Weiss, who later wrote a pleasant account of him. The other side of his life in Richmond is given by J. E. Thompson, the editor of the Messenger, in whom Poe found a good friend. Thompson says that in the earlier visit of Poe to Richmond, in 1848, he had been found befuddled and ragged in the lowest haunts of the city, and that "his entire residence in Richmond of late was but a succession of disgraceful follies." Yet Poe left Richmond this second time, full of hope, with money he had received from Thompson in advance for an article, and perhaps with money from his lectures and from friends who were helping him with his magazine project.

He took steamer from Richmond the last of September. The possibility that he had money may account for the disaster in Baltimore. On October 3 he was found in one of the ward polls by a printer, who wrote to Dr. J. E. Snodgrass that Poe was " the worse for wear " and "in need of immediate assistance.' ? He may have been robbed-all trace of his baggage had been lost-or he may have come to the end of his strength or suffered from exposure after drinking. It may be that he was victim of the political habit of the time to "coop" strangers on the eve of election, drug them, and then send them obediently dazed to the polls to vote. If he was thus treated, his captors had tampered with a delicate subject, a body at the end of its slender power to resist drugs. He was taken to the Washington Hospital in Baltimore, and died there early Sun day morning, the 7th of October, 1849.

One hears again the voice of Carlyle as he looked at De Quincey, that other drug-shadowed waif of the magazines: "Eccovi, this child has been in hell!"


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