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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2


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).

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0008-0023

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-08-23

Sunday 23rd.

I arose in the morning feeling refreshed and strengthened but still somewhat low spirited. The weather was fine and though our boat had not made very uncommon progress, we were paid for it by the quiet off Point Judith. There is a tendency in the spirits of the young to elasticity which supports them when they would otherwise sink. I fell into Conversation with a gentleman on board whom I did not know, upon miscellaneous subjects and in this manner time slipped away until I found myself at Providence. John [Thomas] was in waiting for me, and expecting others who did not come, but I could not find leisure to explain what appeared exceedingly mysterious to him. I started directly on my return and stopping only at Walpole to dine and rest the horses, found myself again at Quincy at eight o’clock in the evening. My father came out with a smiling face to meet disappointment, deep and severe. I talked to him privately, explained to him my motives and feelings, but coldly, compared to my experience, and the scene was not present to enforce the truth of my words. He was much affected and slowly gave in to my conclusion though not very willingly. I could do nothing more so went to bed, tired and dull enough.

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0005-0008-0024

Author: CFA
Date: 1829-08-24

Monday. 24th.

I have unwittingly written what happened on Tuesday when I should in the order of time have been recording what happened on the previous day. This obliges me to insert it out of turn.1 I went to town { 425 } in my own Gig. Morning at the Office. Called at Mr. Brooks’ and found that I and my two letters written on Thursday and Friday were here simultaneously. I then after talking with him, wrote her a third letter which carried the thing through it’s various phases.2 Feeling obliged to wait here for letters from my Mother until evening, I did not think it worthwhile to go to Medford myself as I should be able to reach there only very late in the evening. Passed some time in recording the eventful and voluminous occurrences of the past week.
But finding nothing to do in the afternoon, I passed it in reading Mrs. Opie’s Illustrations of Lying.3 Her philosophy is too high wrought for life as it is, and though our good sense agrees directly with much which she brings forward, yet by driving the line too far she weakens what is really likely to affect. It is too true, that people who always tell truth are not the most attractive and fascinating, they are never the most popular, and to many this is and ever will be the strongest inducement. You must alter human nature. After going to the Post Office and finding nothing from New York I rode to Quincy, though not until it was late. Found Mr. Wallenstein there, a short visit only. Fatigued and retired.
1. In the MS, the entry for Tuesday the 25th precedes that for Monday the 24th. The editors have restored the proper chronology in the present text.
2. All three letters are missing.
3. Mrs. Amelia Opie, Illustrations of Lying, in All Its Branches, 2 vols., London, 1825.
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/