Under The Water
The Sad Drowning of a Son of Old Sol Smith
Pulled in by the Undertow at Biddeford Pool
Our readers will learn with profound regret that Mr. Asa W. Smith, of (St. Louis), son of our late well-known fellow-citizen, Mr. Sol. Smith, came to his death by drowning at Biddeford Pool, yesterday morning, while bathing. The dispatches, which are very meager and unsatisfactory, say that every effort was made to save him, but without avail. Whether he was taken with cramp or drawn out by the undertow, or died from exhaustion is a matter of conjecture; but most likely the latter, as the lifeboat seems to have been brought into requisition and strong efforts made to rescue him.
The Bathing Ground
Those who have visited this place of resort will remember that the bathing ground is distant half a mile or more, southeast, from the little hamlet called The Pool. All boats and sailing craft lie at the wharf, three quarters of a mile west of the beach, and these boats, in order to be used, would have to be carried across the neck of land, through the village, and so down to the shore, or rowed down through the harbor and around East Point, and its rugged reef of rocks, a distance of five or six miles, so that the chance of rendering any of these boats of any avail in such an emergency would be desperate enough...
In all likelihood, young Smith was swimming at the usual hour with the bathers, at 11 o'clock, and ventured too far or was drawn out by a hidden reflux of the tide, which is, we are told, sometimes the case, where the rollers are very heavy at the nothern end of the beach, and after a gallant struggle for life was
Compelled To Succumb
before the boat could be gotten to him. Doubtless, too, everything which kind hearts and strong arms could do was done. No doubt the brave skippers pulled well and heroically with their life-boat, straining and tugging every nerve to the rescue...But it seems to have been in vain.
Diis Aliter Visum
Asa W. Smith was the seventh son of "Old Sol"-called such by everybody, out of regard rather than derision or disrespect-yet the first to join his father in the eternal world. His age was 29. Mark Smith, the popular actor, we believe, is the elder of the brothers.
Probably no one of the young men of St. Louis could have been taken away whose loss would occasion such
General And Poignant Sorrow.
He was a friend and companion whose qualities of head and heart were of the rarest character. He was intelligent, quick-witted and humorous; honest, generous, genial and carried everywhere an influence which made him always the favorite of whatever social circle he mingled with. In his business he had been very successful, and no doubt, had he lived, would have proved one of our moust valuable and influential citizens. His loss will be long and most deeply deplored.
The Telegraphic Announcement
The following telegram, received at the banking-house of Asa Smith & Co., No. 208 North Third street, yesterday, conveyed to the brother of the deceased and friends the first information of the sad event:
Bidgeford Pool, Me., July 31.-S.P. Smith: Your brother Asa was drowned this morning, while bathing. Every effort was made with a lifeboat to save him. Your Mother desires you to come here at once. E.H. Whedon.
In response to the telegram, Mr. Smith started last evening.
-The Milwaukee Sentinal, August 3, 1874 (From The St. Louis Democrat)
After I read the above account of Smith's death, I started thinking about Emily Dickinson's poem After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes. It's odd how the brain works:
After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Toombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--
This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--
This has always been one of my favorite poems. And I really don't know what it's about. Probably something about death or bees or sex. In fact, I really never understand what Emily Dickinson is talking about (although I usually think she's talking about death or bees or sex). I just think she has the most unique voice in all of literature.
But I do know that if Dickinson had gotten out more and had been a baseball fan, she could have dedicated that poem to Asa Smith upon his passing.