How Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Died of Peritonitis

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the most popular American poets of the 19th century, known for his lyrical poems that celebrated American history, culture, and nature. He wrote such classics as The Song of Hiawatha, Evangeline, and Paul Revere’s Ride. But how did this beloved poet die? What was the cause of his death? In this article, we will explore the facts and circumstances surrounding Longfellow’s death from peritonitis.

What is Peritonitis?

Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers the organs inside it. Peritonitis can be caused by various factors, such as infection, injury, or disease. Peritonitis can be life-threatening if not treated promptly, as it can lead to sepsis, shock, and organ failure.

How Did Longfellow Develop Peritonitis?

Longfellow’s health had been declining for several years before his death. He suffered from chronic neuralgia, a condition that causes severe pain in the nerves. He also had problems with his eyesight, hearing, and digestion. He was often depressed and lonely after the death of his second wife, Frances Appleton, who died in 1861 after her dress caught fire. Longfellow tried to save her but was badly burned in the process.

In March 1882, Longfellow developed severe stomach pains caused by acute peritonitis. According to The Pilot, a newspaper that reported on his death, he became partly unconscious on Thursday, March 23rd, and his talk was rambling. He revived somewhat on Friday, March 24th, but remained in a delirious state until about an hour before his death, when he became completely unconscious. He suffered little pain and died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What Were the Reactions to Longfellow’s Death?

Longfellow’s death was mourned by millions of people across America and around the world. He was widely regarded as a national treasure and a symbol of American culture. His poems were read and recited in schools, churches, and homes. His funeral was attended by many prominent figures, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., James Russell Lowell, and John Greenleaf Whittier. He was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.

Longfellow’s legacy lives on through his poems, which have inspired generations of readers and writers. His works have been translated into many languages and adapted into various forms of art and media. He has been honored with statues, monuments, stamps, coins, and schools named after him. He was one of the first American writers to be inducted into the Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey in London.

Longfellow once wrote: “Lives of great men all remind us / We can make our lives sublime / And departing leave behind us / Footprints on the sands of time.” He certainly left his footprints on the sands of time with his beautiful and memorable poems that celebrate the human spirit and the American identity.

Doms Desk

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