Eliza Margaretta Chew Mason to Lydia Maria Child, November 11, 1859

    Source citation
    Eliza Margaretta Chew Mason to Lydia Maria Child, November 11, 1859, in Letters of Lydia Maria Child with a Biographical Introduction by John G. Whittier and Appendix by Wendell Phillips (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1883), 280.
    Author (from)
    Mason, Eliza Margaretta Chew
    Date Certainty
    Transcription adapted from Letters of Lydia Maria Child (1883)
    Adapted by Zak Rosenberg, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following transcript has been adapted from Letters of Lydia Maria Child (1883).

    Alto, King George's Co., Va., November 11, 1859.

    Do you read your Bible, Mrs. Child? If you do, read there, "Woe unto you, hypocrites," and take to yourself with twofold damnation that terrible sentence; for, rest assured, in the day of judgment it shall be more tolerable for those thus scathed by the awful denunciation of the Son of God, than for you. You would soothe with sisterly and motherly care the hoary-headed murderer of Harper's Ferry! A man whose aim and intention was to incite the horrors of a servile war--to condemn women of your own race, ere death closed their eyes on their sufferings from violence and outrage, to see their husbands and fathers murdered, their children butchered, the ground strewed with the brains of their babes. The antecedents of Brown's band proved them to have been the offscourings of the earth; and what would have been our fate had they found as many sympathizers in Virginia as they seem to have in Massachusetts?

    Now, compare yourself with those your "sympathy" would devote to such ruthless ruin, and say, on that "word of honor, which never has been broken," would you stand by the bedside of an old negro, dying of a hopeless disease, to alleviate his suffering as far as human aid could? Have you ever watched the last, lingering illness of a consumptive, to soothe, as far as in you lay, the inevitable fate? Do you soften the pangs of maternity in those around you by all the care and comfort you can give? Do you grieve with those near you, even though their sorrows resulted from their own misconduct? Did you ever sit up until the "wee hours" to complete a dress for a motherless child, that she might appear on Christmas Day in a new one, along with her more fortunate companions? We do these and more for our servants, and why? Because we endeavor to do our duty in that state of life it has pleased God to place us. In his revealed word we read our duties to them--theirs to us are there also--"Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." (1 Peter ii. 18.) Go thou and do likewise, and keep away from Charlestown. If the stories read in the public prints be true, of the sufferings of the poor of the North, you need not go far for objects of charity. "Thou hypocrite! take first the beam out of thine own eye, then shalt thou see clearly to pull the mote out of thy neighbor's." But if, indeed, you do lack objects of sympathy near you, go to Jefferson County, to the family of George Turner, a noble, true-hearted man, whose devotion to his friend (Colonel Washington) causing him to risk his life, was shot down like a dog. Or to that of old Beckham, whose grief at the murder of his negro subordinate made him needlessly expose himself to the aim of the assassin Brown. And when you can equal in deeds of love and charity to those around you, what is shown by nine tenths of the Virginia plantations, then by your "sympathy" whet the knives for our throats, and kindle the torch that fires our homes. You reverence Brown for his clemency to his prisoners! Prisoners! and how taken? Unsuspecting workmen, going to their daily duties; unarmed gentlemen, taken from their beds at the dead hour of the night, by six men doubly and trebly armed. Suppose he had hurt a hair of their heads, do you suppose one of the band of desperadoes would have left the engine-house alive? And did he not know that his treatment of them was his only hope of life then, or of clemency afterward? Of course he did. The United States troops could not have prevented him from being torn limb from limb.

    I will add, in conclusion, no Southerner ought, after your letter to Governor Wise and to Brown, to read a line of your composition, or to touch a magazine which bears your name in its lists of contributors; and in this we hope for the "sympathy" at least of those at the North who deserve the name of woman.

    M. J. C. Mason.

    How to Cite This Page: "Eliza Margaretta Chew Mason to Lydia Maria Child, November 11, 1859," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/2042.