Peterboro', N. Y., May 15, 1857.
Your most kind letter of the 26th of April I did not get till within the last two or three days, and then I was on my way West, full of cares, and in feeble health. I have just written my friend Stearns a letter of explanation, in which I frankly ask that the one thousand dollars' donation I was so generously encouraged to expect for the permanent assistance of my wife and children be, under the circumstances as so explained, promptly raised. This, I think, much the cheapest and most proper way to provide for them, and far less humiliating to my wife, who, though not above getting her bread over the washtub, will never tell her trials or her wants to the world. This I know by the experience of the past two years, while I was absent; but I would never utter a syllable in regard to it, were I not conscious that I am performing that service which is equally the duty of millions, who need not forego a single hearty dinner by the efforts they are called on to make. I did not mean to burden my friends Stearns and Lawrence further with the thing. I do not love to “ride free horses till they fall down dead.”
SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 408