The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

By Mary Baird Bryan; William Jennings Bryan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE CHILDREN

WE have been fortunate in our children and grandchildren. The former are three in number, Ruth Baird, now Mrs. Reginald Owen, born October 2, 1885; William Jennings Bryan, Jr., born June 24, 1889; and Grace Dexter, now Mrs. Richard L. Hargreaves, born February 17, 1891.

Ruth came within a day of celebrating our first wedding anniversary. She was a precocious child and her parents and grandparents were kept busy expressing surprise at evidences of her early intelligence.

What a marvel a child is! It comes into the world with such perfection displayed in its mechanism, is so helpless, and yet so full of possibilities for good or for evil. It gives to one woman a sweet consciousness of motherhood and to one man a sense of responsibility otherwise never known before. Before its tiny hands can lift a featherweight, it has drawn two hearts closer together; its innocent prattle echoes through two lives and its influence upon its parents is almost as moulding as their influence upon it.

I think my wife never before looked so sweet as she did when she brought Ruth downstairs for the first time. The wrapper which she wore that day was long and flowing and she made me think of a Madonna. In fact, seeing a copy of Bodenhausen's painting of the Madonna a few weeks afterwards in an art gallery in Kansas City--the Madonna arrayed in a gown of almost the same tint as the gown my wife had worn--so impressed me by the resemblance that I took the picture home with me. It hung upon our walls until our son was married and desired to have it for his own home.

One of the distinct recollections of Ruth's babyhood was

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