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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0005-0002

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-05-02

Saturday May 2nd.

I sit down to record the Journal of this day with an aching heart and a depressed mind. The gloom which surrounds me in all my reflections, it is impossible to shake off. Went to the Office as usual and into Court. Upon my return from which as there was nothing of interest going on, I found Mr. Brooks who was here to tell me of an accident which had happened, the News of which had just arrived by the public papers. I was totally unprepared for such a shock, and it seemed to turn the current of my blood. I felt no other emotion excepting the chill under the skin which seems to be like it’s stagnation. My poor brother George had either accidentally or in a fit of derangement, signs of which he had previously manifested, gone over from the Deck of the Franklin on her way to New York. I could not realize it at all. I went to see Harriet Welsh and Mr. Brooks for advice. It was recommended to me to remain here, and the first talked to me in a manner which I shall long remember. This feeling is the lot of us all, but when a blow like { 372 } this comes unexpectedly, it strikes with double vehemence. I wrote a few lines to my father,1 and I bent my soul in humble and fervent prayer that God would soften the stroke upon my poor afflicted parents. They have many trials but this surpasseth them all. I remained in my room all the afternoon, attempting to divert my attention by looking over my Mother’s papers, but a sense of dullness weighed heavily upon me.
1. Missing.

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0005-0003

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-05-03

Sunday 3rd.

I have heard nothing of this excepting through the public papers but the account is so circumstantial I dare not disbelieve it.1 My thoughts rest upon the horrible circumstances, and the singular indifference with which he was observed in his extravagance. Poor fellow, he complained to Dr. Welsh before he went, but I never suspected alienation of mind or he should never have gone. I went to his room and examined his papers. They display nothing but pain, mental agitation about his future prospects which he had much indulged in, but no despair. I destroyed some things which I thought his imprudence had left, and in looking over his own memorials of his mind, I could not help feeling a mixture of emotions which only hereafter shall I be able to describe.
1. The Boston Daily Advertiser reported on 4 May the “melancholy event” of GWA’s death. Arriving in Providence on Wednesday, 29 April, he had boarded the Benjamin Franklin for New York. He was rational and cheerful during the afternoon, but by evening he began to complain of severe headache. As the evening progressed he “exhibited some decided symptoms of mental alienation,” hearing imaginary voices and suspecting his fellow passengers of conspiring against him. About three o’clock in the morning of 30 April he asked the captain to stop the ship and let him ashore. Shortly thereafter he disappeared, and his hat was found near the stern. “The supposition is that he fell overboard and was drowned.”

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0005-0004

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-05-04

Monday 4th.

My morning was principally occupied in looking over the papers which my brother left at his Office. Knowing his continual preservation of all papers, I feared that some might remain which would grieve the family. I found three or four which I destroyed. George had an extremely amiable disposition, but he was the creature of impulse and frequently gave way to the seductions which an ill regulated imagination excited. My father almost lived in him and the loss will to him indeed be dreadful. My anxiety to hear from there is great. My own reflections are gloomy and I pray God for assistance and aid. But as I find that my thoughts turn more and more upon it, I see the necessity { 373 } of occupation and therefore read Clarendon but without much profit as my mind wandered from it. In the evening, I went to see Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham and their conversation helped to pass away the evening. Abby wrote me a very kind note1 on Saturday in which she promised to be in town if I asked to see her. My letter2 did not reach her for this morning and the rain prevented her coming.
1. Missing.
2. Missing.