A Solemn Death-Bed Wedding and Its Sequel: 1850

The Angel of Grief, William Wetmore Story

The Angel of Grief, William Wetmore Story


Affecting Separation of Lovers

A Young Lady Made a Bride on Her Seeming Death-Bed

Reappears Years Afterward

Perhaps She Was Buried Alive and Resurrected.

[Chicago Herald]

An English officer tells the following strange and most uncanny story, which ought to be given as far as possible in his own words;

“A great friend of mine, a fellow named D., one of ‘ours,’ was engaged to the daughter of an old clergyman in Leicestershire. They were awfully in love with each other, and were to be married in ten days. He had asked me to be his best man, and all the arrangements were completed for the wedding, when he received a telegraphic message from the father of his bride to say that she had been taken suddenly ill and to come at once if he would see her alive.

“Of course he started for their place immediately and was so completely cut up about it that I went with him, feeling that he ought not to be alone in such a condition of mind. We found the sad news only too true; the poor girl was dying, and as they both greatly desired that he might have the right to be with her to the end the old rector performed the ceremony, and they were made man and wife. It was the most affecting thing I ever saw. Her mother drew off her own wedding ring, which the poor fellow placed on the finger of his broken lily of a bride, who lay there so white and wan, the only calm member of the agitated group. Three days afterward all was over.

“Unable to bear his old life, D. sent in his papers and left the service. For several years I completely lost track of him, and then, from an English surgeon who had proffered his services to the German authorities during the Franco-Prussian war, I heard a tale so weird that it might well seem impossible. Finding the monotony of his life unendurable, D., it seems, entered the French Army, and without much difficulty, through his previous connections, obtained a commission in one of the regiments which had been ordered to the front.

After the battle of Sedan, among the many who had been carried to the Hospital mortally wounded was D. “Was it a vision?” he thought, that as he lay dying he saw bending over him his old love, his dead wife, in the garb of a Sister of the Red Cross. He saw the startled white face and the deep blue eyes that he knew so well all filled with an awakening wonder. There was a sharp cry and the sister swooned away. The surgeon in attendance hurried up, and giving her in charge of some of the other nurses, returned to the excited man, who insisted that he had seen the face of his dead wife. The shock was too much for his enfeebled condition, his wound broke out afresh, and in a few hours he was dead.


“On leaving his patient who no longer required his services, the doctor found the Red Cross nurse delirious with brain fever. Over and over again she lived what seemed to be the last weeks of a previous existence. She was a happy promised bride—she was girlishly excited over her trousseau and pretty presents—she talked proudly of her handsome and devoted lover—and finally on a solemn death-bed wedding. That was all—over and over she seemed to live again a former period of her life—but of the time since the doctor had known her there came never a word. A year or two before he had been connected with one of the London hospitals, and had been greatly interested in this woman, who had been brought there and placed in the ward for the insane.

“The only point upon which her mind seemed affected was that she had no recollection of the past and seemed entirely oblivious of her own identity. Her name had been given as Mrs. Clark, and the people who left her had never appeared again. Showing herself most capable and intelligent, with the one exception stated, she was kept as an assistant in the wards, and gradually became one of the most experienced of the hospital nurses. When the doctor decided to go to the seat of war it occurred to him to take her with him, not only on account of her acknowledged competency, but with the idea that change and excitement might possibly touch some chord that would awaken her memory. But she died without recovering consciousness, and the mystery was unsolved.

Among D.’s effects, however, the doctor found a letter directing that his few papers, &c., should be sent to me in case of his death, and a photograph in a frame which was so marvelously like the dead woman that he at once wrote and gave me all the particulars, not only of D.’s death, but of “Mrs. Clark’s’ life while under his observation. He forwarded at the same time a plain gold ring, which was on her finger when she came to the Hospital, and which had simply a date of thirty years back engraved inside the rim. Feeling that the strange coincidence—for it could be nothing more—was hardly enough to warrant me in disturbing the family by awakening painful memories, I concluded at first to say nothing about it, but the affair troubled me, and at length I grew fairly haunted with the idea that there was more in it all than I liked to think possible.

“I finally found myself en route for the Leicestershire village without any clear idea of what I really intended to do. There I found changes; the old rector and his wife had both died; their only remaining child, a son, had gone over to Canada, where his wife’s people lived. I knew no one; all the faces were so strange to me. I felt that eerie sense of living in the past, of having nothing to do with the present that comes over one sometimes. While waiting for the afternoon train, which was to take me back, I wandered into the churchyard and sought out the graves of the old couple and of my friend’s bride. “Mary” was written on the headstone, “beloved wife and daughter—died May 15, 18__.’ But did she die then or long after? That is what haunts me to this day.”

“Do you meant that she was buried in a trance?” said the listener. “That is what I believe,” he answered. “I think that her rescuerers were afraid of the law, and finding signs of life, hurried her to a hospital, where her entire lapse of memory tempted them to keep the matter forever a secret. Thinking it over, I deemed it inexpedient to take any steps in the matter. The publicity would have been painful; they were all dead. It could do no good, and so I let the matter rest. But from that day to this I have been doubtful whether I did right or not in not carrying the investigation further.” The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 2 January 1892: p. 13

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A tragic tale of doomed love to conclude the Valentine’s week-end…. Mrs Daffodil has read a similarly dire tale from the States, which does not afford the consolation of a death-bed wedding.

A Supposed Corpse Resuscitated by Resurrectionists.

  A story comes from Egremont, Berkshire Hills, Mass., which agitates people hereabouts, that Estelle Newman, about thirty years old, died in Egremont in 1878, and after the funeral service in the little Methodist church, was buried in the town cemetery and forgotten. The sensations comes from the dying testimony of H. Worth Wright, of Connecticut, said to have confessed to his brother that he, a student in the Albany medical college, was present at the funeral while other students lay in wait near the cemetery till the burial was over, and the graveyard deserted, and then helped disinter the body and carry it in a sack to the medical college. They at once went to work on it in the dissecting room. While on the table, the body showed signs of life and was resuscitated. Finding the woman alive on their hands the authorities of the college had her taken to the insane asylum of Schoharie county, N.Y. This is the last Wright is said to have known of her whereabouts. Jackson [MI] Citizen Patriot 11 December 1884: p. 1


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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