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On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious and "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance," according to the friend who found him, Dr. E. Snodgrass. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died early on the morning of October 7. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though no one has ever been able to identify the person to whom he referred. One Poe scholar, W. T. Bandy, has suggested that he may instead have called for "Herring," (Poe's uncle was called Henry Herring). Some sources say Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul." Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he attempted suicide in 1848.
Poe's grave site has become a popular tourist attraction. Beginning in 1949, the grave has been visited every year in the early hours of Poe's birthday, January 19th, by a mystery man known endearingly as the Poe Toaster. It has been reported that a man draped in black with a silver-tipped cane, kneels at the grave for a toast of Martel Cognac and leaves the half-full bottle and three red roses. One theory (of many) is that the three red roses are in memory of Poe himself, his mother-in-law, and his wife Virginia.
There are theories that Poe was actually a mass murderer; I don't know how well this insinuation is supported, but it is one that is believed by some.
Notes on the results of test for heavy metals performed in 2002 on hair samples from Virgina and Edgar Allan Poe.
Mercury: Edgar’s mercury level increased over a few months by 264%, probably due to the calomel he wrote of taking while in Philadelphia. But even at its highest point, it was still more than 30 times below the level associated with symptoms of mercury poisoning, and only1/2 the level found in President Andrew Jackson’s hair, who (like Poe) was known to have taken calomel medication. Virginia’s mercury level, however, started at a level about that of President Jackson and gradually increased 22%, suggesting that she and Edgar had very different personal exposures.
Another addiction Edgar Allan Poe harbored was that to various drugs. The reasons behind this addiction range from his depression to his need for constant pain relief due to his heart and brain condition. Some indicate his addiction was not serious. For example, Hervey Allen writes, "From time to time at Fordham, he resorted to drugs, Rosalie Poe specifically mentions morphine" (739). Other drugs that Poe took habitually include opium and laudanum. During his final years when the effects of the brain lesion were especially intense, "pressures and pains drew [Poe] back to opium. In June  he called on John Sartain in Philadelphia demanding laudanum, of which his tolerance was now enormous" (Mankowitz 229). He also built up a tolerance to opium; "his nerves and heart again in poor condition, and his opium dreams no longer inspiring him to write," left Poe depressed (Mankowitz 229). Laudanum was routinely administered to Poe on his death bed. Of course, though Poe was addicted to drugs during his lifetime, "'Poe was in that peculiar condition, a physical dilemma in fact, that few who have discussed his failings seem to realize, i.e., his failing heart required a stimulant which would be disastrous to his brain'" (Mankowitz 239). Unfortunately, unlike alcoholism, the habitual usage of such substances was almost unavoidable, making addiction inevitable. Ironically the drugs that eased Poe's pain mainly caused by erratic heartbeat and brain fevers also aided in his early death. Unfortunately, his addiction to these drugs contributed to depression as well.
Indeed, madness was "in character" for Edgar Allan Poe. Most agree from the facts surrounding Poe's life that his nervous system was extremely sensitive, an ailment which could be a significant indicator of madness. A possible breakdown occurred when Poe arrived at John Sartain's office, begging him for protection from an imaginary army of conspirators disguised as "loungers" in 1849. Poe attempted to shave off his moustache so "they" would not recognize him. He insisted on climbing to the highest point of the reservoir in Philadelphia for protection, finally escaping Sartain. He eventually arrived at Sartain's house again and entertained the idea of committing suicide, not his first nor last entertainment of that idea (Mankowitz 232). Woodberry referred to this madness as a possible "hereditary taint" (73). More convincing is Dr. Nash's argument after listening to Poe's recitations one evening in New York City in September of 1849. He diagnosed Poe's madness by determining the following: "'Poe at such times was the victim of abnormal psychology. There are conditions known as psycho-neurosis of exhaustion, during which period there is a more or less complete paralysis of the will... victims of psycho-neurosis had morbid, irresistible impulses" (Phillips 1469). Furthermore, Dr. George Rawlins also notes that Poe was "violent from time to time" for no apparent reason, which signifies madness and depression. The dysfunction most likely was caused by the brain lesion (Mankowitz 234). On the other hand, some contemporaries believe his madness occurred before the brain lesion manifested and is attested to by the topics Poe's works dealt with (Franklin 178). Regardless of physical evidence, Poe was definitely deranged and acted in ways which were conceived as mad. His actions could or could not have been results of depression, alcoholism, mental dysfunction, or the brain lesion.
(Link Provided Above)
In 2006, several onlookers gained entry into the graveyard in an attempt to accost and identify the Poe Toaster. This is considered to be due to feelings that the tradition had been sullied by the current toaster, believed to have replaced the original Poe Toaster in 1999. Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, was present (as he has been at every appearance of the Poe Toaster since 1976), and was quoted in press reports expressing his disappointment that the solemn occasion had thus been disrupted.
Originally posted by JustMe74:There was an interesting article (first of a series) in the innagural issue of Bro. Stephen Dafoe's "Masonic Magazine" about the Morgan Affair. I think it is highly probable that some members of Morgan's lodge did indeed murder him. It is very interesting that right after Morgan went missing, the lodge split. I guess we'll never really know for sure, but I am looking forward to the article in the next issue; the first one was very interesting.
Originally posted by Nemo Me Impune Lacessit "( In The Cask of Amontillado") A Roman Catholic aristocrat takes revenge on his Freemason Enemy by walling him into a corner of the family catacombs, thus destroying his life and freedom by masonry. To most readers this is an audacious pun, but to anti-Masonic readers it is poetic justice as well: the remains of Fortunato, the hapless Mason, will lie among the bones of his Roman Catholic enemies, "the great and numerous Montresors", while the present Montresor lives on. Anti-Masonic readers may be few today, but in the 1840's they too would have been numerous." (Kent Bales, "Poetic Justice in the Cask of Amontillado", Poe studies, 6, , 51 ).
Originally posted by Nemo Me Impune Lacessit "Insult is added to injury in this tale since Poe drew it's central character and basic narrative situation from the Freemason, Benjamin Franklin. So we have a character from a "bagatelle" of the adversary forever enshrined as fiction's best known Masonic executioner since the name of Franklin's hero is Montresor and this is of course the name Poe has chosen for his; that his source was indeed Franklin is confirmed by William H. Schurr ("Montresors audience" in 'The Cask of Amontillado', Poe Studies, 1, "
"I was at work, in my shirt sleeves, in my office on Sansom Street, when Poe burst in on me excitedly, and exclaimed, "I have come to you for refuge. I was just on my way to New York on the train, when I heard whispering going on behind me... I was enabled to overhear what the conspirators were saying. Just imagine such a thing in this Nineteenth Century! They were plotting to murder me. I immediately left the train and hastened back here again. I must disguise myself in some way. I must shave off this mustache at once."
...Taking him to the rear of the office I sheared away until he was absolutely barefaced... Going up in the 'bus he said to me, "After my death see that my mother (Mrs. Clemm) gets that portrait of me from Osgood. - John Sartain, The Reminiscences of a Very Old Man, 1808-1897 (Unknown Binding)
Originally posted by Nemo Me Impune Lacessit "He made many enemies and many harsh things have been said about him, but I never once saw him drunk." - John Sartain in William Sartain's Edgar Allen Poe - Some Facts Recalled, Art World, 2 (July, 1917) 321-23.
Courtney, John F. "Addiction and Edgar Allen [sic] Poe," Resident and Staff Physician (January 1971), pp. 107-115. [An aimless recounting of Poe's episodes with alcohol and laudanum, with a redeeming speculation that J. J. Moran's description of Poe's last hours suggests that cause of death was a blow to the head.]
Walsh, on the other hand, believes that Poe was murdered, and he believes he knows why and by whom. His claim is based on documents written by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, a 19th century poet Poe knew. Smith wrote:
"Not long before his death he was cruelly beaten, blow upon blow, by a ruffian who knew of no better mode of avenging supposed injuries".
(Link supplied above)
"At that time, and for years before and after, there was an infamous custom in this and other cities, at election time, of "cooping" voters. That is, gangs of men picked up or even carried off by force, men whom they found in the streets - and transported them to cellars in various slums of the city, where they were kept under guard, threatened, maltreated if they attempted to escape, often robbed, and always compelled to drink whiskey [sometimes mixed with other drugs] - until they were stupefied and helpless".
Poe almost surely did not die of alcohol poisoning or withdrawal, Mr. Jerome said. The writer was so sensitive to alcohol that a glass of wine would make him violently ill for days. Poe may have had problems with alcohol as a younger man, Mr. Jerome said, but by the time he died at 40 he almost always avoided it.
Originally posted by thebox
Thanks, I'll start googling! I take it people were unaware of the effects of prolonged exposure to these metals at the time...?
Mercury is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, unless under a black light, then the vapors can be seen rising from the tooth like it was a cigarette
Mercury is a natural and very poisonous substance, its chemical symbol is Hg, and the commonly found and used chemical of Mercury is Mercuric Sulfide Hgs. It is a refined form of Cinnabar.
Causes of Mercury Poisoning Mercury poisoning can be caused by any number of methods of exposure. Amalgam dental fillings are a main cause, other causes are eating fish that have been exposed to mercury in the environment, industrial and work place exposures such as those in the paint industry, even in the hospital (and home) setting poses a potential threat to mercury poisoning because of the mercury in thermometers, dropping or somehow breaking a single thermometer is a very hazardous situation even without touching the mercury because of the vapors produced by the mercury.
Some other sources of mercury are cosmetics. There have been several cases of mercury poisoning in the south western states by a company that sold a beauty cream with "calomel" listed as an ingredient. Calomel is mercurous chloride (HgCl2). This product had mercury levels around 10%.