In those days the blows struck by the hero, John Brown, were agitating the nation. Scarcely was it possible for a living soul to be more deeply affected than this female advocate. Nor did her sympathies end in mere words. She tendered material aid as well as heartfelt commiseration.
To John Brown’s wife[A] she sent through the writer the following letter:
[Footnote A: Mrs. Harper passed two weeks with Mrs. Brown at the house of the writer while she was awaiting the execution of her husband, and sympathized with her most deeply.]
FARMER CENTRE, OHIO, Nov. 14th.
MY DEAR MADAM:—In an hour like this the common words of sympathy may seem like idle words, and yet I want to say something to you, the noble wife of the hero of the nineteenth century. Belonging to the race your dear husband reached forth his hand to assist, I need not tell you that my sympathies are with you. I thank you for the brave words you have spoken. A republic that produces such a wife and mother may hope for better days. Our heart may grow more hopeful for humanity when it sees the sublime sacrifice it is about to receive from his hands. Not in vain has your dear husband periled all, if the martyrdom of one hero is worth more than the life of a million cowards. From the prison comes forth a shout of triumph over that power whose ethics are robbery of the feeble and oppression of the weak, the trophies of whose chivalry are a plundered cradle and a scourged and bleeding woman. Dear sister, I thank you for the brave and noble words that you have spoken. Enclosed I send you a few dollars as a token of my gratitude, reverence and love.
FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS.
Post Office address:
care of William Still, 107 Fifth St.,
May God, our own God, sustain
you in the hour of trial. If there
is one thing on earth I can do for you or yours, let me be
apprized. I am at your service.
Not forgetting Brown’s comrades, who were then lying in prison under sentence of death, true to the best impulses of her generous heart, she thus wrote relative to these ill-fated prisoners, from Montpelier, Dec. 12th:
“I thank you for complying with my request. (She had previously ordered a box of things to be forwarded to them.) And also that you wrote to them. You see Brown towered up so bravely that these doomed and fated men may have been almost overlooked, and just think that I am able to send one ray through the night around them. And as their letters came too late to answer in time, I am better satisfied that you wrote. I hope the things will reach them. Poor doomed and fated men! Why did you not send them