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John Brown to Mary Brown

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Charlestown, Jefferson Co, Va, 16th Nov. 1859
My Dear Wife
I write you in answer to a most kind letter of Nov. 13th, from dear Mrs. Spring. I owe her Ten Thousand thanks; for her kindness to you particularly, is more especially than for what she has done, & is doing in a more direct way for me personally. Although I feel grateful for every expression of kindness or sympathy toward me; yet nothing can so effectually minister to my comfort as acts of kindness done to relieve the wants, or mitigate the sufferings of my poor distressed family. May God Almighty; & their own consciousness; be their Eternal rewards. I am exceedingly rejoiced to have you make the acquaintance, & be surrounded by such choice friends as I have long known some of those to be, with whom you are staying (by reputation). I am most glad to have you meet with one of a family (or I would say of Two families) most beloved & never to be forgotten by me. I mean dear gentle Sarah Wattles. Many; & many a time has she, her Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Uncle & Aunt; (like Angels of mercy) ministered to the wants of myself; & of my poor sons; both in sickness & in health. Only last year; I lay sick for a quite a number of Weeks with them, & was cared for by all: as though I had been a most affectionate Brother, or Father. Tell her, that I ask God to bless, & reward them all forever. “I was

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a stranger, & they took me in.” It may possibly be that Sarah would like to copy this letter; & send it to her home: if so, by all means let her do so. I would write them; if I had the power. Now let me say a word about the effort to educate our Daughters. I am no longer able to provide means to help toward that object; & it therefore becomes me not to dictate in the matter. I shall gratefully submit the direction of the whole thing to those whose generosity may lead them to undertake in their behalf; while I give anew a little expression of my own choice respecting it. You my wife perfectly well know that I have always expressed a decided preference for a very plain but perfectly practical education for both Sons & Daughters. I do not mean an education so very miserable as that you & I received in early life; nor as some of our children have enjoyed; when I say plain but practical, I mean enough of the learning of the schools to enable them to transact the common business of life comfortably; & respectably; together with that thorough training to good business habits which best prepares both men & women (to be useful, though poor): & to meet the stern realities of life with a good grace. You will know that I always claimed that the music of the Broom, wash Tub, Needle, Spindle, Loom, Ax, Scythe, Hoe, Flail, etc should first be learned at all events: & that of the Piano etc afterwards. I put them in that order; as most conducive to health of body, & mind: & for the obvious reason; that after a life of some experience

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& of much observation; I have found Ten women; as well as Ten men, who have made their mark in life Right; whose early training was of that plain practical kind; to one who had a more popular, & fashionable early training. But enough of that. Now in regard to you coming here: If you feel sure that you can endure the trials, & the shock; which will be unavoidable (if you come): I should be most glad to see you once more. But when I think of your being insulted on the road; & perhaps while here; & of only seeing your wretchedness made complete; I shrink from it. Your composure; & fortitude of mind may be quite equal to it all; but I am in dreadful doubt of it. If you can do come: defer your journey till about the 27th , or 28th, of this month. The scenes you will have to pass through on coming here, will be anything but those you now pass with tender, kind hearted, friends; & kind faces to meet you everywhere. Do consider the matter well before you make the plunge. I think I had better say no more on this most painful subject. My health improves a little; my mind is very tranquil; I may say Joyous: & I continue to receive every kind attention that I have any possible need of. I wish you to send copies of all my letters to all our poor children. What I write to one; must answer for all; till I have more strength. I get numerous kind letters from friends in almost all directions to encourage me to “be of good cheer.” & I still have as I trust

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“the peace of God to rule in my heart.” May God for Christ’s sake ever make his face to shine on you all.
Your Affectionate Husband
John Brown

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