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.).
I spent most of this day in the company of either my father or mother. The former was making preparations to go off to Washington tomorrow morning and leaves me with the care of the family upon my shoulders, to go on with my Mother whenever the opportunity will permit. They were both very much affected and in conversing with me seemed to derive their main support. I promised to do everything I could to relieve them, which God knows, is less than I could wish. My mother was pretty quiet on the whole.
I did not attend divine Service or in short do any thing at all. At 406about 4 I started to take my father to town. We arrived and I left him at the Tremont House. I then went down for letters and got one dated the 16th from Mr. Johnson.1 It is not so discouraging as Walter’s. It expresses Dr. Huntt’s opinion that the case is critical without entirely depriving us of hope. I felt a little relieved by it. I remained with my father and Mr. Degrand until nearly eight. This gentleman poked himself into the business without invitation and yet I felt glad he was there as he turned my father’s thoughts from gloomy subjects.
It rained heavily all the evening. I went down and got into the Medford Stage, which runs in the evening, reached there at nine o’clock precisely. From the tavern the man sent me in Chaise and at half past nine I surprised Mr. Brooks and my wife by my presence. I sat down and we had some conversation upon our intentions. My going to Washington will take place probably early in next month, and Mr. Brooks will take my Wife to his house for the winter. This will relieve me very much from anxiety about my own family, which I could not reconcile myself to leaving alone.