NORTH Elba, Feb. 20, 1858.
My Dear Father, — Your letter of January 30 we received this week, it having lain in the postoffice a week. Oliver went to the office and got our news; there were two letters for me, but the postmaster did not give him yours. We did not get it this week in time to answer it, or we should have done so immediately. I am sorry for such a delay. We were rejoiced to hear that you were so near us, and we hope that you can visit us yet before leaving York State. It really seems hard that we cannot see you, when you have been so long from home; yet we are glad that you still feel encouraged. Dear father, you have asked me rather of a hard question. I want to answer you wisely, but hardly know how. I cannot bear the thought of Henry leaving me again; yet I know I am selfish. When I think of my poor despised sisters, that are deprived of both husband and children, I feel deeply for them; and were it not for my little children, I would go almost anywhere with Henry, if by going I could do them any good. What is the place you wish him to fill? How long would you want him? Would my going be of any service to him or you? I should be very glad to be with him, if it would not be more expense than what good we could do. I say we; could I not do something for the cause? Henry's feelings are the same that they have been. He says: “Tell father that I think he places too high an estimate on my qualifications as a scholar; and tell him I should like much to see him.” I wish we could see you, and then we should know better what to do; but will you not write to us and give us a full explanation of what you want him to do? . . . Please write often.
Your affectionate daughter,
SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 441-2