A very beautiful day such as we rarely have so late in the Season as this. I went to Boston with Mr. Brooks. My morning rather wasted. 405Went to the Athenaeum and from thence to the gallery to see some Paintings of Rome. They are of the middle of the last Century and painted by Sigr. Panini. Two of them are views of the inside and the outside of St. Peter’s. The other two contain a great number of smaller ones in which all the principal objects of curiosity in ancient and modern Rome are given in small. There was also a small collection of cabinet pictures–One or two of which were quite pretty. There was also a small collection of pictures for sale.
At Office writing. Just as I was going back to Medford I called at the Post Office and received by Mail a letter from Walter Hellen giving such very alarming intelligence of the condition of my brother John that I felt it my duty to proceed directly in a chaise to Quincy and apprise my parents of it.1 I accordingly arrived at Quincy before three and communicated directly with my father. He was very much agitated. Then came the most trying part of it, the disclosure to my Mother. Barely able to move after so severe an illness we expected a terrible effect. She was very deeply affected2 and the operation of it was to bring on a return of sickness, but the Dr. assured us her personal health had not suffered and we prayed for calmness.
My father and mother are to a certain extent prepared for this blow. They have watched his gradual decline for two years past and have seen that he cannot continue long in this condition. But this attack is rather sudden to them. May God have mercy upon them and all of us.
JQA recorded her distress as “agonizing, and ... though unable to walk across her chamber long insisted upon going immediately, herself to Washington.... Dr. Holbrook ... assured my wife that ... the attempt would be at the hazard of her life. She became herself convinced it would be so and was partially tranquelised” (Diary, 18 Oct.).