Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday. 21st. CFA Sunday. 21st. CFA
Sunday. 21st.

The day was again exceeding lovely and beautiful. I attended divine service this morning and heard Mr. Sewall preach a long and tedious Discourse which did not please me at all. Abby went to Medford, her Mother being still alive, with her brother Chardon. And I had a solitary dinner at home. My amusement consisted in reading Kaimes until I received a Note from Edward Brooks with the request of Abby that I should go out to Medford to bring her in. This seemed so strange a part of the plan that I did not know what to do, but after going to Mrs. Chardon Brooks’ and conversing with her, I found her husband was to stay all night, so I went down, got a Chaise and started off. Upon arriv-169ing I found that Mrs. Brooks was still living though very low and all the family present very much affected. It was a melancholy spectacle and in itself exciting as well as affecting. I remained downstairs talking with the family until after tea, when just before my starting to return I received a Message from her expressive of a desire to see me. This I had not expected today but I went immediately. The scene was a melancholy one for she was unable to speak yet anxious to express to me her feelings. She was altered totally, and looked as if Death already claimed her in all but one little spot. I had never seen before, any one so situated and I felt the sadness of the spectacle, but I was not so horror struck as I expected. There was nothing of that shocking nature which my feelings had anticipated. She apparently had sent for me to express her kind feelings and was unable, and I felt the signal she made of it more than expression. God rest her kind soul. She has done her duty on earth, and sees no terrors in a better place. The loss of her family is greater than her own. We returned to town and after calling at the houses of the different relations to let them know the facts so far as we knew, we passed the remainder of the evening at home.1

1.

Mrs. Brooks’ last day seemed equally extraordinary to all those who recorded its details. After a night during which she had been unconscious and at the point of death, at about eight in the morning she had revived and was “sensible and collected” (Brooks, Farm Journal, 21 Feb.). For some days there had been “much alienation of mind, but on the last there was none. The voice only was gone” (CFA to LCA, 13 March, Adams Papers). She saw successively each member of the family. When Abby kissed her “she sent for me by a sign to Abby and a strong exertion to articulate my name.... [F]or the few moments I was there she seemed to be attempting to express to me words of affection” (same). “After these interviews she drew her cap over her Eyes and tried to compose herself” (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 23 Feb., Everett MSS, MHi), “taking her leave of us all with the utmost resignation and tenderness and then requesting us to leave the room” (Brooks, Farm Journal).

Monday. 22d. CFA Monday. 22d. CFA
Monday. 22d.

Morning pleasant, but it turned out a damp and disagreeable day. I went to the Office and wrote my Journal as usual, but my head did not feel in good order. Saw Mr. Brooks’ man Foster who came to town with Chardon, and announced to me that Mrs. B. expired last night at twelve o’clock. Thus is the melancholy scene closed. I have been for some time expecting it but yet I feel a regret at having lost an indulgent Mother and a kind friend.

I presented my Account of my brother’s Estate this day to the Judge of Probate who accepted it and thus closed that affair. This was all the business I did, and as I was going home to see my Wife, I met Chardon who gave me a little thing to do which puzzled me a little. 170It was to get a plate for the Coffin. I never had been called to perform a similar Office but after going around to ascertain some distance, I found the proper person and gave the necessary directions.1 Knowledge of this kind is useful in practical life for it may often help a friend. I know but little of it. I then ordered Mourning and afterwards went home. The constant friends of Abby, Miss Julia Gorham and Miss Carter were with her during the morning. I found her something better than I expected. We dined alone, and I passed the afternoon in trying to finish the Inventory of George’s Affairs to deliver to my father. But I could not quite succeed. This last part is a tedious business.

After tea, I read aloud to my Wife a part of Clarissa Harlowe and finished the 7th of 8 volumes. It is a little long but still quite interesting. My Nerves and stomach were however so much out of order that I did not enjoy it. The excitement has been considerable and painful. After Abby retired, I tried to write a little Notice of her Mother, as my small tribute for the affection which she expressed for me on her dying day, but my head was in such pain that I am fearful I did not do justice to my subject. I retired in much suffering.

1.

Thus in MS. The intended meaning might be paraphrased: “after going about at some length to ascertain who the proper person was, I found him and gave him the necessary directions.”