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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 40-42

Letter of 27 November 1925

27 November 1925
My dear Bahá’í Brother,
I find it very hard to be able to express in adequate words our deep feelings and sorrow at the loss of our dearly-beloved brother Dr. Esslemont. Those of us who had known him only since his sojourn in Haifa, had even in that short period of time, learnt to admire and love him. How much more so those of you to whom he was an old friend and fellow-worker.
I have been ordered by Shoghi Effendi to relate in as simple words as possible for the information of his friends in England, the sufferings of his last days and yet words fail me in that painful task.
The chronic disease from which he had suffered in the past had very much undermined his weak constitution and his eagerness to serve the Cause he so dearly loved, despite all advice to the contrary, was a great tax upon his failing strength. His stay at the Black Forest in Germany all through the summer had improved his health, but upon his return to Haifa he felt rather weak and he was frequently in bed for a few days. Not until a fortnight ago was Dr. Esslemont seriously ill and even then the doctors thought that in spite of the fact that the trouble from 41 which he had suffered in the past was now more active there was no reason for great anxiety. His health was slowly improving and everything was being done to give him the best medical advice obtainable here in Haifa, when suddenly and unexpectedly at about midnight of November 21st the doctor had a severe stroke of “cerebral embolus”. The next day a second stroke followed and he at last succumbed to the third which he had at about seven o’clock of the next evening. The attending doctors were both European—one Italian and the other German. Our two Bahá’í doctors Yúnís Khán and Mírzá Arastú, whom you must have met in London very gladly put themselves at his disposal.
Hard as it was for everyone who had known Dr. Esslemont to see him pass away and to realise what a great loss it means to the friends the world over, we can find no greater consolation than in the happy thought that he now lies in peace and his soul where it so loved to be. Beyond all earthly cares, all pains and sorrows his soul dwells forever.
The funeral service was both simple and touching. His body was washed by two of the friends, dressed and wrapped in white silk cloth and perfumed by attar of roses. On his finger Shoghi Effendi placed his own Bahá’í ring which he had worn for a good many years. Laid in a simple casket of walnut and placed in the hall of the Pilgrim House, the friends gathered together and said their funeral prayer over him. The casket was carried for a short distance by Shoghi Effendi and then placed in the Master’s carriage and accompanied by the sons-in-law of the Master it slowly wound its way, followed by eleven other cabs carrying the friends, to the foot of Mt. Carmel. There it was laid to rest in that beautifully-situated cemetery, and flowers from the garden of the Master’s home were scattered over his grave. Simple as he was in his life and character, equally simple was his funeral service. And yet just as in the simplicity of his character lay his many virtues, in like manner did the simplicity of that service sink into every heart and fill every eye with tears.
In case you think it would please them you are perfectly welcome to communicate to the family of Dr. Esslemont the particulars of his death and burial. Enclosed you will please find a letter from Shoghi Effendi addressed to the family and relations of the deceased. You will please have it read by his wife, who I 42 believe is in London, and then sent over to his father and sister who are in Aberdeen.
Due to the reason that Shoghi Effendi hopes to build in the near future the grave of Dr. Esslemont on his behalf and on behalf of all the friends, our Guardian would like very much to have the design chosen by the family of the deceased. Of course you would let them know that through certain considerations it would be best to have the design devoid of any cross as that in this country would particularise it to the Christian faith. You would let the family know that the expense would be defrayed by the friends all over the world and by Shoghi Effendi himself.
Shoghi Effendi would also like you to send the picture of Dr. Esslemont to the countries where the friends have published magazines with a request to have it published. They are America, India, Germany and Australia. He wants you also to write a comprehensive biographical sketch of the life of Dr. Esslemont for “The Star” in America laying most stress on his life since he became a Bahá’í. This of course does not necessarily mean that you should write it yourself but anyone in London. You should also make mention of him in your circular letter in detail….