I cannot go through a detailed Account of this day. Stormy as it was, the confusion of the elements was little to me compared to the trouble of the mind. We had spent a quiet day entirely at home, interrupted by nobody but a short and ceremonious visit from Mr. Southard1 and his daughter. My Mother under her anxiety sent in Wilson to Boston in order to get the letter so fearfully expected. We had just done tea and were patiently expecting his return when a rap at the door startled me and I went. It was Mr. W. S. Smith and his wife just from New York.2 They had received a letter from Mr. Johnson, at New York, and hurried on instantly to this spot. My poor brother had ceased to breathe on the night of the 23d just four hours after my father reached the House.3
After I had in a degree recovered from the shock, the next thing was to communicate the tidings. And it devolved upon me to be the bearer of them. Agitated as I was, it was not the easiest thing to tell what I 410knew would bring upon my Mother distress perhaps more than she could bear. But it must be done. I went up and upon her inquiry who came in, I was obliged to tell her. The announcement of Mrs. Smith’s arrival was enough. She lay in a state of almost stupor for some time, followed by violent and indefinite emotion.
Notwithstanding the rain, we sent for Dr. Woodward who was visiting here some time since in the absence of Dr. Holbrook when it is not possible for him to come. He gave her an opiate under which she soon became quiet and found relief in tears and in conversation. The crisis was over for the night and on the whole far better than we could have anticipated. Mr. and Mrs. Smith proved invaluable auxiliaries in the case. This is the fourth time only in my life that I have been exposed to these fearful scenes. They have all been in connexion with my Mother and they will remain forever engraved upon my Memory. Thank God, it was no worse. Thank God that my Mother was so much prepared by timely and seasonable reflection that the blow came with but half it’s force. I retired after all was quiet at about midnight although my sleep was restless and broken.
Samuel Lewis Southard, a cabinet member in JQA’s Administration (vol. 2:104).
“I went to his bed-side twice and saw and heard him; he had no consciousness of any thing on Earth” (JQA, Diary, 22 Oct.).