One of the Greatest Men We’ve Had Since Lincoln

29 Jul

22 Cliff St, NY
Oct 21, 1898

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth Barrell

My Dearest Ruthy:

What a mean miserable night, this outdoors. Went to Brooklyn for supper and
returned here, it pelting rain all the time. Would have staid in Brooklyn could I have done
so contentedly, or had I had writing materials over there but I had none and I felt that I
must write you a few lines tonight. Have just finished a little job for the Vice President and
will not take up anything more tonight.

Your two dear loving letters of the 18th and 20th I gratefully received. I’m very sorry
you should have been so lonely Tuesday evening and that I couldn’t have been at your
side just then and caused those feelings to vanish. I was not so well Dear last Saturday but
I didn’t know I was the least unhappy. Of course not being as well as could be cannot but
have a subduing effect upon ones spirits and I suppose that was as it was with me. That
old rheumatism bothers and worries me for the fact that it reduces me to a cripple almost
and it hurts me mentally not to be able to jump around with ease. So Ruthy, in the sense
you seem to mean, was not in the least unhappy.

I think I know pretty well what was the matter on that night (Tuesday) with my dear
silly Ruthy. I have my own little spells of the same kind Dearest and can thoroughly
sympathize with you. Ruth Dear, do not worry about my working too hard or not getting
enough exercise, for I am not working so very hard and do some walking morning noon
and night and don’t think there is the slightest cause or probability of my caving in. At any
rate, not while I possess my normal amount of will power and that increases as time goes
on, rather than diminishes.

Your first letter I liked very much because it was so characteristic of my Ruthy and
then today came the other one by way of a sweet supplement. 

I am very glad to hear of Abe’s return, acquitting himself as a man and at the same
time frustrating the scheme of those conspirators who sought his ruin. I had an idea all
along that he would return, knowing that (he) departed under the influence of that curse
which steals away men’s brains and deadens conscience, changing them to mere beasts,
vicious or docile, according to the normal instincts of the poor victim. Of course there is an
awakening and in Abe’s case I knew it would be pretty tough. I venture to say that this
experience just past will make him a steadier, more careful man than he was before. With
you Ruthy I rejoice that he has proven himself a man and next time I meet him will be glad
to take his hand in respectful acknowledgment of his having done the best thing in facing

Ruthy, you are everybody’s good angel, as well as mine, always seeking to lend a
helping hand to those whom you know are in need. I honor and love you for this trait and
long to be your companion in this work, helping you help others.

I am happy for all that you are happy for and glad when you are glad. Happy your
dear life long friend and someday sister Florence is now with you and for so happy a
reason. For every sad event in one’s life there seems to come lots of happy ones, so the
balance is always on the good side. Am glad Ethel continues to improve and that she will
soon be strong as you.

Father was in one day last week and said he left Mama too ill to get up. Ruthy, I do
worry about my home and the way things are going and because of my inability to make
things any better. I haven’t heard from home since, but I hope Mama is better now.

I have had the books on my desk for some time but as I purchased them for the
account of the company, any or all of them are easily returnable. So as you request, I will
bring out but two. I will bring out one of our square or oblong pans. They are not very deep
and have no cover. If it will not answer the purpose, I can easily get one of the covered

Up to today “Strand” is not yet out, it being later this month than I’ve ever known it
before. It must surely be out be tomorrow and we can look forward to another morsel of
excitement for some hour between Saturday and Monday.

I had some diversion one night this week in the shape of attendance upon a
Republican mass meeting in the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This place is only five
minutes walk from my boarding place so immediately after supper I started out. I reached
the place about 7:00 o’clock and the doors were just opened. Only succeeded in getting a
seat in the top gallery and the place has a seating capacity of, I believe, 3,000, but I
venture to say over 5,000 were in this building. However, I got a seat at the end nearest
the stage and heard every word that could be heard above the cheers that rang out almost
continuously. Had a wait of about an hour but I prepared for this by bringing with me an
evening paper, but this I didn’t use as they had a fine orchestra which filled up the time
with good music. For enthusiasm I never saw anything like what was displayed there. The
crowd was simply wild and I was one of them. I yelling and clapping like sixty all the time.

Tracy was first speaker, then came Low, then Teddy himself and finally Lieutenant Gov.
Timothy Woodruff. The speeches were fine, the good American enthusiasm and unanimity
of sentiment was grand to see. I never enjoyed anything more and wished more than once
that you had been with me. When the meeting was over, about 11 o’clock all hands rushed
to shake the hand of Roosevelt. I felt that I must too, for I fell in love with him right away
and got as far as being within about ten feet of him when a couple of big policemen picked
him up bodily and rushed off with him. The poor man must have nearly had his arm shaken
out, Ruthy. I wish you could have heard him speak. He certainly is in my mind one of the
greatest men we’ve had since Lincoln.

Well, it is near 11:00 and it is still raining and I have to make my way to Brooklyn
yet so with all my life’s love and an overwhelming desire to amount to something in this
life, for the sake of my own Dearest Ruthy, I am
as ever yours.


Will go out on the 3:20 tomorrow and if possible would like to have you meet me as
I do want to spend a few minutes home. Do not meet me if not convenient or weather is
bad and I will go home and to you later. Thanking you Dearest for all your goodness to
your Will. I am with kisses yours.

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Family History


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