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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0008-0021

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-08-21

Friday 21st.

Morning passed in doing little or nothing. John and I took a stroll up Broadway, very far up, to look into a New York imitation of Tattersal’s in London. John has a fondness for Carriages and Horses which I do not partake in. I drive horses to get from place to place and I prefer a fast horse to a slow one, but I have no great pride in the business. Nor should I feel distressed if I never had further connection with them. On our return we called in at Mr. Stout’s, the Engraver’s,1 and I ordered a Card for Abby as Mrs. C. F. Adams anticipating a little and not without a silent qualm, but I got over this weakness, for these presentiments are always follies and only the more so when accident makes them sometimes turn out true. Afternoon, took a lounge into the Arcade and made a purchase of a little dress to make a present to the Baby. I have never as yet given her anything. This was a trifling present but even that more than my present exhausted means will allow.
Conversation with my Mother who seemed very dull and out of spirits, about George and his affairs. I tried to direct attention from the subject as much as possible, talking mildly and favourably. But she seemed constantly recurring to it. John and his Wife stayed out long so that we did not drink tea until very late after which my Mother again conversed with me, but not upon George. She principally talked of Johnson Hellen’s affairs, his marriage and treatment of the family, which affected her but not too much. She then talked of my marriage, which seemed to give her some pleasure. Thus the time passed until we separated at ten o’clock and I retired to bed. It was so evident to { 423 } me that my Mother could not go in the Franklin, that I did not even mention it, and suffered the day to pass without taking any notice of our departure.
1. James D. Stout, the engraver, at 153 and 172 Broadway (Longworth’s N.Y. Directory, 1828–1829).

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0008-0022

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-08-22

Saturday 22nd.

It was just after the Clock struck twelve, that my brother’s Wife burst into my room in the utmost alarm, and roused me from a sound sleep by telling me that my Mother had been taken excessively ill. I started directly and upon rushing upstairs found it was true enough. She was lying under one of those violent attacks which she is subject to with all the family and servants up and trying to assist her in her distress. It will be useless to detail the two hours which passed. Suffering was dreadfully stamped on them in my memory for ever. I had never seen any thing like this before, and it affected me to the soul. I was so overcome as to be very near needing some assistance as much as herself. I went downstairs however and recovered myself. The Dr. came at last and after conversation and consultation he applied some remedies which soon relieved her of the coldness about the breast which she complained of so dreadfully. I went to bed and tried to lose my feelings in sleep. Here was a new and entire revolution in my prospects. And the question occurred of what was to be done now. I did sleep after much effort after hearing the clock strike three, and awoke again at six.
I went up to see my Mother who was calm and reasonable though exceedingly unable to move at all. I sat with her some time and tried to soothe her. She had not slept at all and was very nervous, starting at any slight noise. I then conversed with her about our plans and then urged her to return to Washington. This was done with a feeling of despair. I was so apprehensive that she would do more on my account than she was able, that I preferred not taking the risk of the consequences. She might suffer from me and I preferred sacrificing all selfish wishes rather than hazard any such consequences. After breakfast the Dr. came in, a certain Dr. Watts whom I had never heard of before;1 he saw my Mother again, and John’s child which was also sick. He advised that the child should be removed from the City to the Eastward which put John in another quandary and half determined him to go to Quincy by land. Something must be done quickly, and therefore upon conversation with my Mother I submitted the two propositions, advising her strenuously to return and if neces• { 424 } sary carry the child to some healthy situation near Washington. After some argument, she agreed to return, and having thus definitely fixed upon this, I decided upon returning in the boat to Providence this afternoon. Our dinner, John and I (téte a téte) was a silent and dull one and after a parting affecting and affectionate with my Mother, I went to the Boat with John who saw me off.
I knew nobody on board. My passage was a melancholy one for it had recollections freshened to my mind by the scenes which had caused them, and my nerves which the last twenty four if not forty eight hours had shaken to excess, were in no condition to bear any thing. But time brought strength and I went to bed in a Cot at night and probably from exhaustion slept better than I ever recollect doing in a Steam boat.
1. Dr. John Watts lived at 90 Chambers Street (Longworth’s N.Y. Directory, 1828–1829).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/