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JQA Diary, volume 36 4 May 1829
JQA Suzie Ting Health and Illness

4. VI. Monday

Post. Reuben Patterson. Revd. Mr Keep.

Almighty and Merciful God; in the dispensations of thy Providence, it has seemed good unto thee to visit me and my family with a deep affliction in the sudden and mysterious departure of my eldest Son. Thou knowest Oh! God! the wants and infirmities of thy creatures; to thy overruling Providence, I commit myself and mine—humbly imploring of thy mercy to grant us strength equal to the trials which thou hast destined for us. I pray that we all may possess that broken and contrite Spirit which is well pleasing in the sight of God—that we may humble ourselves in the dust, and be conscious that thy chastisements have been deserved— That until it shall please thee to call us before thee to account for the deeds done in the body, thou wouldst make our strength as our day, and above all that thou wouldst in thy sore displeasure spare and sustain our intellectual faculties— For my own, for those of the partner of my life I implore; and that thou oh, God! wouldst not leave or forsake us— My Son John left us this morning, before noon, and proceeded with Mr W. S. Smith for New-York— Mrs Smith went into the City with John, but came back before dinner— Mrs Frye came out and spent about two hours with her Sister.— The Revd. Mr Post, minister of the Presbyterian Church—the first, and the Revd. Mr Patterson of Philadelphia, came out on a visit to sympathize with me, for which I pray the blessing of God upon them. They spoke to me words of comfort—from the holy gospel of God, and they kneeled and 176prayed fervently with me, and for me and my family— They also promised me to pray devoutly for us, in their own supplications to Heaven— A young man by the name of Keep—belonging to Boston, came, and told me that he had passed great part of the last, and of the preceding Winter, and had attended most of the Drawing Rooms, but I did not recollect his person. He told me that he was a fellow passenger with my departed son, in the Steam-boat from Providence last Wednesday— That he himself had left Boston on Tuesday; but that the Boat of that day failed— And that in the Boat of Wednesday there were the passengers of two days— That George came in the Stage of Wednesday Morning, and embarked immediately in the Boat— That his conversation all the afternoon was cheerful and intelligent; but that in the Evening, he complained of a severe head-ache—said he wished the motion of the Boat, would be so great as to make him Sea-sick— He asked him, Keep, if he was coming on to Washington, immediately; and upon his answering that he was; said he was glad of it—that he would come on with him— That he had intended to stop one day at New-York, to be bled; but that for the sake of his company, he would come on immediately— That he had been for several days unwell; and that on Monday night after going to bed he had taken an impression that there were persons breaking into his chamber. That he had risen from bed, and made search; and although he found no person, and there was no person there; he had not been able to remove the impression from his mind— That his nervous system was so deeply affected, that he could not exclude the impression that the birds were speaking to him; and that the machinery of the Steam-boat seemed also, as if it was speaking— Keep said that this idea had sometimes occurred to himself; that it was like the sound of a person speaking; and George said it seemed to him, like the perpetually repeated words “let it be.”— That he had conversed with a missionary on board, named Peter Jones, who had Indian boys with him, and had given him a donation— That he had retired to his berth about the same time with most of the other passengers, but had got up and returned to bed twice in the course of the Night— That he waked a Mr Parker, a stranger, and asked him if he had been circulating reports against him among the passengers— Upon his saying no George went with a Candle to the births of other passengers, and then returned to his own. That he finally rose about three O’Clock; went to Captain Bunker and asked him to set him ashore— The Boat was then going at the rate of 16 miles an hour— Captain Bunker asked him why he wished to be set on shore— He said because there was a combination of all the Passengers against him—and he had heard them talking and laughing against him— Bunker’s attention was taken from this, by an accident, which immediately afterwards happened to himself in hurting his foot— George afterwards had some conversation with a Mr Stevens, a Common-Councilman of Boston—who is now here; and who Mr Keep said had told him that he would have called upon me, but did not know how he should be received; he being a warm partizan of the present administration. I desired Mr Keep to say to Mr Stevens, that I should be much obliged to him if he would call. It was but about ten minutes after this conversation with Mr Stevens, when Stevens, seeing Georges Hat near the edge of the end of the upper deck of the Boat, enquired if any body had seen him within a few minutes— He was not to be found in the Boat— From the situation of his hat and Cloak, it was inferred; that in the wandering of his mind he had fallen overboard. It was too late for human help— The rest Oh! God! is only known to thee— It was thy will, to take him from the world, unseen by human eye; unheard by human ear— Oh! God! remember him and us in mercy; hear us on thy throne; and when thou hearest answer and forgive. 177This was a day of deep and dreadful affliction to the partner of my life; whose state of health is itself alarming, by the still flowing mercies of God, our reason has not deserted us, but imaginations wild and unsustained by reason come over us both— I walked this afternoon round the square at the back of the College, and in the deepest anguish of my Soul, saw a Rainbow suddenly spread before me. It touched my heart by no superstitious fancy, but by an association of ideas, as an admonition to trust in the goodness and mercy of God.