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[300] With strong rationalistic tendencies from education and conviction, she found herself in spiritual accord with the pious introversion of Thomas a Kempis and Madame Guion. She was fond of Christmas Eve stories, of warnings, signs, and spiritual intimations, her half belief in which sometimes seemed like credulity to her auditors. James Russell Lowell, in his tender tribute to her, playfully alludes to this characteristic:—

She has such a musical taste that she'll go
Any distance to hear one who draws a long bow.
She will swallow a wonder by mere might and main.

In 1859 the descent of John Brown upon Harper's Ferry, and his capture, trial, and death, startled the nation. When the news reached her that the misguided but noble old man lay desperately wounded in prison, alone and unfriended, she wrote him a letter, under cover of one to Governor Wise, asking permission to go and nurse and care for him. The expected arrival of Captain Brown's wife made her generous offer unnecessary. The prisoner wrote her, thanking her, and asking her to help his family, a request with which she faithfully complied. With his letter came one from Governor Wise, in courteous reproval of her sympathy for John Brown. To this she responded in an able and effective manner. Her reply found its way from Virginia to the New York Tribune, and soon after Mrs. Mason, of King George's County, wife of Senator Mason, the author of the infamous Fugitive Slave Law, wrote her a vehement letter, commencing with threats of future damnation, and ending with assuring her that ‘no Southerner, ’

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