William Henry Randall and a Glass of Grape Juice 1
WILLIAM HENRY RANDALL, OR “Harry” for short, was never late. He attributed his success, in part, to this habit. Randall had climbed the ranks of a shipping company – starting out by sweeping floors and running errands – and was now its president. In May 1912, however, he found himself climbing up to the sixth floor of the Victoria Hotel in Boston to deliver a glass of grape juice to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Harry had investigated all the world’s religions, or so he thought. Despite his professional responsibilities, he found the time to study under the tutelage of a Harvard professor. Yet Harry did not care to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “What do I want to meet another oriental for?” he said. “I’ve met Vivekananda and all the great orientals that have come to this country, and I don’t want to meet any more.”
Finally, out of politeness, Randall accepted an invitation to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speak. He later wrote: “I was very much impressed with his beautiful appearance, his words and the love which seemed to radiate from the very words he spoke.” Harry discovered that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was different from any man he had ever met. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá was what he talked about,” Randall said. So when someone asked if he would deliver grape juice to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Victoria Hotel, he was happy to comply. He purchased six bottles and rushed right over.
The newspapers reported several events attended by Abdu’l-Bahá. The Boston Evening Transcript, on August 29, said:
Interest out of the usual for a wedding was found in the address to the bridal couple and bestowal of his blessing by Abdul Baha Abbas, the Persian leader, who is touring this country propagating his new religion based on the brotherhood of man. He is a friend of the bride’s sister, Mrs. Ali Kuli Kahn, wife of the Persian chargé e’affaires at Washington, and who formerly was Miss Florence Breed. … Little Marzieh Khan … was flower girl.
Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts 3
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears nor comprehend with another’s brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision. Then will your eyes be filled with illumination, face to face you will behold the reality of God and your heart become completely purified from the dross of ignorance, reflecting the glories and bounties of the Kingdom.
Thursday, August 29, 1912 4
Today was the last day of the Master’s stay in Malden. In addition to receiving visitors every minute to bid them farewell, He was busy correcting letters to be posted.
In the evening a joyful meeting was held at His residence. The friends were encouraged as He exhorted them to exert their utmost to promulgate the Word of God. At the end of the meeting He said to Mrs Wilson, ‘Since my arrival in America I have stayed in but two homes, Mrs Parsons’s and yours. God be praised that the divine confirmations have descended on you and that you are assisted in serving the Cause of the Blessed Beauty. You must appreciate the value of this blessing.’ Then turning to Miss Englehorn, He said: ‘I am very pleased with your services. Were you worldly, you would have received your wages but as you are heavenly and divine, your reward is with Bahá’u’lláh.’
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “William Henry Randall and a Glass of Grape Juice.” 239 Days in America, 29 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/29/william-harry-randall-and-a-glass-of-grape-juice/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 131-132. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 293. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#743483799 ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=6#section158 ↩