Monday, June 11, 2018

E. B., a Quaker Woman, to John Brown, October 27, 1859

Newport, R. I., Tenth Month, 27th, ’59.
Captain John Brown.

Dear Friend, — Since thy arrest I have often thought of thee, and have wished that, like Elizabeth Fry toward her prison friends, so I might console thee in thy confinement. But that can never be; and so I can only write thee a few lines which, if they contain any comfort, may come to thee like some little ray of light.

You can never know how very many dear Friends love thee with all their hearts for thy brave efforts in behalf of the poor oppressed; and though we, who are non-resistants, and religiously believe it better to reform by moral and not by carnal weapons, could not approve of bloodshed, yet we know thee was animated by the most generous and philanthropic motives. Very many thousands openly approve thy intentions, though most Friends would not think it right to take up arms. Thousands pray for thee every day; and oh, I do pray that God will be with thy soul. Posterity will do thee justice. If Moses led out the thousands of Jewish slaves from their bondage, and God destroyed the Egyptians in the sea because they went after the Israelites to bring them back to slavery, then surely, by the same reasoning, we may judge thee a deliverer who wished to release millions from a more cruel oppression. If the American people honor Washington for resisting with bloodshed for seven years an unjust tax, how much more ought thou to be honored for seeking to free the poor slaves.

Oh, I wish I could plead for thee as some of the other sex can plead, how I would seek to defend thee! If I had now the eloquence of Portia, how I would turn the scale in thy favor! But I can only pray "God bless thee!" God pardon thee, and through our Redeemer give thee safety and happiness now and always!

From thy friend,
E. B.

SOURCES: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 581-2

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