Mary Ann Day Brown, Letter From John Brown (Wilson, 1918)

Hill Peebles Wilson, John Brown, Soldier of Fortune: A Critique (Boston: The Cornhill Company, 1918), 381.
Immediately after Brown's incarceration, a movement was started by Mr. Higginson to have Mrs. Brown go to Harper's Ferry to visit her husband. But when the information reached Brown, he peremptorily forbade her coming; wiring Mr. Higginson: "For God's sake don't let Mrs. Brown come. Send her word by telegraph wherever she is."

This arbitrary action should not excite surprise. There was no atonement that Brown could make for the ruin which he had wrought: for the dead who would never return. There were no words that he could say which would carry consolation to this woman's stricken heart, nor was it possible for him to make any rift in the clouds of her unutterable woe. He shrank, instinctively, from a presence of the bleeding heart of the woman whom he had wronged. November 9th, he wrote to Mr. Higginson:

If my wife were to come here just now it would only tend to distract her mind TENFOLD; and would only add to my affliction; and can not possibly do me any good. It will also use up the scanty means she has to supply Bread & cheap but comfortable clothing, fuel, &c for herself & children through the winter. DO PERSUADE her to remain at home for a time (at least) till she can learn further from me. She will receive a thousand times the consolation AT HOME that she can possibly find elsewhere. I have just written her there & will write her CONSTANTLY. Her presence here would deepen my affliction a thousand fold. I beg of her to be calm and submissive; & not to go wild on my account. I lack for nothing & was feeling quite cheerful before I heard she talked of coming on — I ask her to compose her mind & to remain quiet till the last of this month; out of pity to me. I can certainly judge better in the matter than any one ELSE. My warmest thanks to yourself and all other kind friends.

God bless you all. Please send this line to my afflicted wife by first possible conveyance.
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