Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. 24th. CFA Friday. 24th. CFA
Friday. 24th.

A fine cold morning. I went to town and to the Office, from thence to the House where I wished to procure some things. This with my occupation at the Office in writing letters to my father1 and to Mr. Jones the Auctioneer at Weston to proceed as usual with the sales of Wood there notwithstanding my absence.2 I try to think of every thing before hand as my Mother begins to talk of next week for starting. Perhaps if things are favorable, it may be the week after.

I propose to change my Office this winter to the one directly below mine and am putting into it grates which will I hope make me comfortable for the first time. I have heretofore been able to let all the rooms in this building for my father, but as this winter, they will be empty and one of them contains the article which is becoming daily more important to me, a safe for the preservation of papers, I have concluded to fit it up. This will be the third of the Offices I have fitted up in this building, for myself.

No further news from Washington but a letter from my father who 409has got as far as Philadelphia.3 Tomorrow we hope to hear his account from Washington. Returned to Quincy. My Mother seemed better today. I went down to fish and caught one smelt for her. Conversation. Ovid and Quinctius Heymerau von Flaming which has become dry.


Letter missing.


To Col. John Jones, 24 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers).


To CFA, 21 Oct. (Adams Papers).

Saturday. 25th. CFA Saturday. 25th. CFA
Saturday. 25th.

A fine day but quite cold. I went into town in the morning and was busy most of my time in my affairs. I got the Mason to be busy about the grates in the lower room and shall probably be in preparation to move in next week. Mr. Curtis called to see me about the deeds which are not done. I went to the Athenaeum and returned the remaining books belonging there. Thus most of the morning was consumed. But the main business of my day, the arrival of letters from Washington, I was disappointed in. It is now a week since the date of the last. My Mother did not seem so well, probably owing to the bracing herself up to bear the expected letter and to the disappointment and suspense. In the afternoon I went down and tried to catch a few fish, without much success. Evening quietly at home. Read Ovid and Flaming without much cessation.

Sunday. 26. CFA Sunday. 26. CFA
Sunday. 26.

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).


On William Steuben Smith, son of AA2, and his wife Catherine Johnson Smith, sister of LCA, see vol. 1:3 and Adams Genealogy.


“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.).