Thursday, June 29, 2017

Richard Realf to John Brown, May 31, 1858

[Cleveland, Ohio, May 31, 1858]

I learn from George Gill that a certain Mr. Warner, living at Milan, has been told that a quantity of material was located in a certain county1 (name correctly given), and that this Warner has mentioned it to another man. All these are, Gill says, true men; but I do not like the idea any more for that. Nor am I better pleased to learn from the same source that a certain Mr. Reynolds (colored), who attended our convention, has disclosed its objects to the members of a secret society (colored) called “The American Mysteries,” or some other confounded humbug. I suppose it is likely that these people are good men enough; but to make a sort of wholesale divulgement of matters at hazard is too steep even for me, who am not by any means over-cantious. Cook also, I learn, conducted himself here in a manner well calculated to arouse suspicion. According to Parsons, he stated in his boarding-house that he was here on a secret expedition, and that the rest of the company were under his orders. He made a most ostentatious display of his equipments; was careful to let it be known that he had been in Kansas; stated, among other recitals of impossible achievements, that he had killed five men; and, in short, drew largely on his imagination in order to render himself conspicuous. He found out and called upon a lady friend whom he knew in Connecticut, talked a great deal too much to her; and wound up his performances by proposing to Parsons, Gill, and Taylor a trip to the same locality on the same errand in the event of postponement.1 He has taken his tools with him. It pains me to be obliged to say these things of one whom I have known so long; bat I should be lacking in common honesty if I withheld them from you, — and especially now, when we have to tread with double care. I am not at all sure but that, in the event of deferment, our chief danger will accrue from him and his dreadful affliction of the cacoëthes loquendi, which, rendered into English, means “rage for talking,” or “tongue malady.”
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1 This trip to Harper's Ferry is perhaps that mentioned in Brown's last interview with Cook, Dec. 2, 1859.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 470-1

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