The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Henry F. Pringle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE LOVER, SIGHING

OH, NELLIE . . . I believe you could be happy with me," he wrote, "and could have a lifelong pleasure in the thought that the influence of your character and society and (I hope) love has made a good and just member of society out of one whom indifference and lassitude was [sic] likely to make only a poor stick among his fellows. Oh, Nellie, it is an awful question for you to solve whether you will put yourself in the keeping of a man for life . . . I ask you for everything, Nellie, and offer but little. . . . I know it is not enough for what I ask."1

So he sighed in May of 1885; partly, no doubt, because it was spring and even smoky Cincinnati seemed washed and fresh and new. Will Taft was almost twenty-eight now, and the days when he had been wholly lighthearted, when no emotion had touched him deeply, were gone forever. Life was real. Life was stern. The mere thought of the fascinating Nellie Herron shook the portly frame of Will Taft with a mixture of ambition, humility and the solemn desire to be more worthy. This courtship by the son bore no possible resemblance to the calmly superior attitude of Alphonso Taft toward women and matrimony.

"Oh, Nellie," he pleaded, "do say that you will try to love me. Oh, how I will work and strive to be better and do better, how I will labor for our joint advancement if you will only let me."2

She was the daughter of John Williamson Herron, a Cincinnati attorney, and Harriet Collins Herron, and her family was one of substance and intelligence. Mr. Herron, a graduate of near-by Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, had been a United States attorney and could have held judicial posts had he been able to afford judicial salaries. There had been eleven children, however, of whom eight survived. Nellie was fourth in the line. The Herrons

____________________
1
Taft to Helen Herron, May 1, 1885.
2
Idem, May 10, 1885. 69

-69-

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