Text: Edgar Allan Poe to Mrs. Maria Clemm and Miss Virginia Clemm — August 29, 1835 (LTR-048)


Aug: 29th

My dearest Aunty,

I am blinded with tears while writing this letter — I have no wish to live another hour. Amid sorrow, and the deepest anxiety your letter reached — and you well know how little I am able to bear up under the pressure of grief. My bitterest enemy would pity me could he now read my heart. My last my last my only hold on life is cruelly torn away — I have no desire to live and will not . But let my duty be done. I love, you know I love Virginia passionately devotedly. I cannot express in words the fervent devotion I feel towards my dear little cousin — my own darling. But what can [I] say? Oh think for me for I am incapable of thinking. Al[l of my] thoughts are occupied with the supposition that both you & she will prefer to go with N. [Neilson] Poe. I do sincerely believe that your comforts will for the present be secured — I cannot speak as regards your peace — your happiness. You have both tender hearts — and you will always have the reflection that my agony is more than I can bear — that you have driven me to the grave — for love like mine can never be gotten over. It is useless to disguise the truth that when Virginia goes with N. P. that I shall never behold her again — that is absolutely sure. Pity me, my dear Aunty, pity me. I have no one now to fly to. I am among strangers, and my wretchedness is more than I can bear. It is useless to expect advice from me — what can I say? Can I, in honour & in truth say — Virginia! do not go! — do not go where you can be comfortable & perhaps happy — and on the other hand can I calmly resign my — life itself. If she had truly loved me would she not have rejected the offer with scorn? Oh God have mercy on me! If she goes with N. P. what are you to do, my own Aunty?

I had procured a sweet little house in a retired situation on Church Hill — newly done up and with a large garden and [ever]y convenience — at only $5 month. I have been dreaming every day & night since of the rapture I should feel in [havin]g my only friends — all I love on Earth with me there, [and] the pride I would take in making you both comfor[table] & in calling her my wife. But the dream is over [Oh G]od have mercy on me. What have I to live for ? Among strangers with not one soul to love me .

The situation has this morning been conferred upon another. Branch T. Sunders. but White has engaged to make my salary $60 a month, and we could live in comparative comfort & happiness — even the $4 a week I am now paying for board would support us all — but I shall have $15 a week & what need would we have of more? I had thought to send you on a little money every week until you could either hear from Hall or Wm. Poe, and then we could get a [little] furniture for a start for White will not be able [to a]dvance any. After that all would go well — or I would make a desperate exertion & try to borrow enough for that purpose. There is little danger of the house being taken immediately. I would send you on $5 now — for White paid me the $8 2 days since — but you appear not to have received my last letter and I am afraid to trust it to the mail, as the letters are continually robbed. I have it for you & will keep it until I hear from you when I will send it & more if I get any in the meantime. I wrote you that Wm. Poe had written to me concerning you & has offered to assist you asking me questions concerning you which I answered. He will beyond doubt aid you shortly & with an effectual aid. Trust in God.

The tone of your letter wounds me to the soul — Oh Aunty, aunty you loved me once — how can you be so cruel now? You speak of Virginia acquiring accomplishments, and entering into society — you speak in so worldly a tone. Are you sure she would be more happy. Do you think any one could love her more dearly than I? She will have far — very far better opportunities of entering into society here than with N. P. Every one here receives me with open arms.

Adieu my dear aunty. I cannot advise you . Ask Virginia. Leave it to her. Let me have, under her own hand, a letter, bidding me good bye — forever — and I may die — my heart will break — but I will say no more.

E A P.

Kiss her for me —— a million times

For Virginia,

My love, my own sweetest Sissy, my darling little wifey, think well before you break the heart of your Cousin, Eddy.

I open this letter to enclose the 5$ — I have just received another letter from you announcing the rect. of mine. My heart bleeds for you. Dearest Aunty consider my happiness while you are thinking about your own. I am saving all I can. The only money I have yet spent is 50 cts for washing — I have 2.25 left. I will shortly send you more. Write immediately. I shall be all anxiety & dread until I hear from you. Try and convince my dear Virga. how devotedly I love her. I wish you would get me the Republican wh: [which] noticed the Messenger & send it on immediately by mail. God bless & protect you both.



The full text of this letter was first published by Arthur Hobson Quinn and Richard Hart in Edgar Allan Poe: Letters and Documents in the Enoch Pratt Free Library , New York: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1941, pp. 9-11 (with a photographic facsimile). It is printed here with permission of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The letter is much damaged, though very little of the text is lost and its sense is discernible from that which remains.


[S:0 - MS, 18xx] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Letters - Poe to Mrs. M. Clemm and Miss V. Clemm (LTR048/RCL097)