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Major Gen. B. F. Butler

Major Gen. B. F. Butler image
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Benjamin Frankliu Butler is uol, according tc sccetsion authority, a son of the "-unny South," the offspring of a New ürleans barber ; nor is he, as The N. Y. Atlas asserts, a native of the Fine Tree State ; nor is he, as one of our pictorial papers allegcs - whieh produces a remarkable unlikeuess of him - a native of Massachusetts ; he was bom in Deerfield, New Hampshire, long enough ago to be at present forty-three ycars ot' age. i Ho was the eldest son of hia pavents, and ; his only brother, Andrew Jackson Butler, bolds a subordínate position uuder him in the army. His fatlier, John Butler, soon alter the birth of his second child, ieft his home for New ürleans; and of an adventur&us epirit, joiued the buccaneerSj then the terror oí' the Gulf - as a member of which society of l'reebooters, being captured by au Auicriean war vessel, he met a deaih remotelv, perhaps, ordaiued by Providcnce, but of which a Louisiana court of justice was the immediate cause. Soon alter Lowell became a thriving towu, Mrs. Butler haviüg been Ieft in straitened cireumstanees, removed thither from New Hampshire. and opened a boarding-liouse, where several of my friends having thcir quarters, I often took niy meals and became weli ed with her. She was a prettv woman, J of more than ordinary personal attractions, b and a devout Baptist, rarely, if ever, í iug absent on tíunday from lier pew in ' the " First Chureh " 13uu was sent to ' the High School, and at length to ' ville College, Mame, the principal institution ot' the Baptist denomination, either - eutirely, or in part, as a charity student, j Here he distinguished himsult' for every ' thing ratlier thau a closo applieation to his studies, bcing in fact, the wildest ' customer and the most iucorrigible ' g" tL" y'iwMi't'' léiwv 1 1 iis seat of ] earning had ever before been put at their wits end to deal with. llowever, he : trived at leugth to gradúate, and rcturned to his home at Lowell. It was now that my acquaiutance with ïim tor the first time became intímate, cominenciug at my father's house, where je called with a friend of our family one Autumn afternoon. I thought hini the queerest looking specimen of humanity I ïad ever seen. He was about five feet eight inches in height ; with short, crookcd [egs ; a full pale face, bearing the most deoided marks of intellect and iudumitable energy of' character ; the top of his icad bald, and his back hair falling in a ong, light-brown cascade far below his coat collar; added to which, he was most curiously and wonderfully srjuiut-cyed, the lids of his eycs while talking with me beiog neurly closed, resembliug those of an owl in the day Subsequontly, these remarkable organs of visión asStimed another appearancc. Sliortly uftor the Frcuch Dp'eration for the slrabismus was iutroduced iuto this country, a distinguished surgeon of Lowell, persuaded Butler to subiuit to it, but one optie haring been set right he positively refused to have the other touched, declaring that the agony he suflered was too great to be eudured agam, so that at present the expression of his eyes is deeidedly striking, not to say comical. A few weeks after this, I was sitting at a beuch in a school-room, and before me oceupying the teacher's desk on the platform, was the unique figure of Ben But Ier. A half a mile from the City of Lowell across the Merrimack, on the summit of a lofty hill, stood a white two-storied structure, knowu as " Draeut Acadcmy " - an institutiou with a remarkable liisto - ry, whieh I may borne day write. The principal of this academy resiguing about the time Butler returued from College, poor and in debt, he applicd for ancl was chosen to fill the vacant chair, entering his uame at the samn time as a law dent with W. H. Smith, father of the uow famous Boston attorney, II. F. Durant, who suinc yeafs ago assumed the fainily naiue of his mother. Thü charactor of this scat of learning was peculiar, and is worthy a brief uotice. Being located so uear Lowcll, aud a municipal law prohibiting those expelïed from one school from attending another, a goodly number of the pupila weic wild, fast fcllows, whom the city authoritiea had refused to edúcate at the public expeuse. - Besido these, there were strange specimens of humauity from the country, "jnill-hauds'' who had earncd a few hun dred dollars and were polisliiug tlicir education preparatory to returning home; elorks from dry-goods stores, studying aritbmetic and book-keeping ; faotory girl's fitting thcmselves to be sehool-tcachers; ambitious young men, going to be doctors and lawyers; and pious young men, going to be preachers. Of all sorts and couditions of males and females - of all ages, from five to thirty-five and over - was tliis unique school composed. As a matter of course, this mixture of incongruous elements, undcr the chargn of a single teacher, could be subjected to no sort of pedngogicul discipline; and so variable was tne attendance - somo of tho scholars not remaining more than three or four days, and a large number not more than a month - that the tuition fee was fixed at forty cents a week. Aniong these hetcrogcneous sevcnty or eighty scholars which Butler cssayed to teach, was a follow nained John Peace, perhaps twenty years of age, an cxpelled member of the high school in Lowell, and long a pupil of tho academy, from which he had been innumerable times banished, for "raising the devil," but always being pcrniitted to return. One pleasant autumu day, John having done something execedingly iniproper, Butler shouted from bis desk, where he sat monding a pen : " Peace, take your books, and leave the school I" Peace did not take his books, but bo left bis seat, walked to tho door, opened it, turued about, and critil : "D n you, Ben Butler ! If you want a threshing, come out of doors, you erooked-shaukcd, cross-eyed devil !" Tlnit was more than Butler could stand, and dropping the pen, but retainiug his knife; ho sprang from his chair, jumped from tho platform, and dashed down the aisle touard tho door. Peace had not expocted this movcment, having issucd bis challenge merely as a bit of boasting, and snatching bis cap from a peg in the hall, he ran out of the academy, leaped down the steps tu;d commenced a hasty retreat iu the direction Of the citY. Tu n moiuoiit UutUir 1J cleared tlic gate and was uin_) piuouiu bim, bareheadcd, with bis long locks streaming iu the wind Peace had about five rods the start, and seeiug the infu riated principal, knife in hand, so close bchind, put hiinself to the top of his speed Frura both. doors of the acadomy the scholars, male and female, poured forth to see the race. Out of the grassj lano, into the road; and down the long hill, toward Lowell, furiously dashed master and pupil. At the foot of the hill we could sec tliat -Butler was gaining on bis antagonist, and the contest would perhaps have boen decidud in his favor bcfore reaehiug the city, had it not bean for a covered bridge, with doublé carriage track and two sidewalks, among whose labyrinth of posts and brace Peace contrived to escape, and the baffled teacher slowly wended his way back, his usually palo face as red as a sued cucumber, the scholars returned to their seats highly edified at the spectaclo they had witnessed, and the iutcrrupted exercises of the acadomy were resumod. Butler rctained his position as principal of the Dracut Academy until he was admitted to the bar. Becoming a partner of Soiith, with whom he had studied, ho was not many months in g.iiuing a notoriety by no means enviable. The most desperate charaeters, thieves, blacklegs, swindlers, &c, secured hisiegal services, and never before were scoundrels defended with such ardent zeal, consuinmate ability, and general success, Judges, jurics, moinbers of the bar, witnesses and spectators, were alike amazed at the ing'cuious and original devices which he employed to release his clients froui the elutches of the law. A single instauce will suffice as an illustrafion of this. A young man had been arrested in Lowell for passing couuterfeit money, and lodged in jail. As a matter oí course, he employed Butler to defiahd hini, aud I was accidcutally present when the case came on for trial, at the. Criminal Term f the Oourt of Commou Picas. The iidictmcnt havinr been read, no one was l q tne ieast surprisod wbeu iiutlor aróse v nd dèmaaded of the judge the ' liate discharge of his clieut ""What reason havo you, Mr. Butler," t isked the judge. "for making sach an i ■xtraordinary roquest of the court?" ( '■A gutid and suffieiont reason, your t mnor, replied Ben. The persou 1 harged in the indiotment with the :rime of eounterfeiting, is not my cliint, the pi'isoner at the bar. The per" ion there mentioned is one John Tompt :inn, a very different individual trom. ny cliënt, whose narr.e is John L. Pompkins, against whom there boing ( io charge, I demand that he be set at .iberty." : A few minutes sufficed to convinoe i the court that there was unquestiona bly a flavv in the indictment, and the j Sheriff was ordored to discharge the , prisoncr, No soonor had the words fallen from the lipa f tto jnclgfo, thnn Butlor sprang from his soit to the prwoner'i box. wrcniíhed opon the door, seized bis dient hy the collar, draged him out, and whispored in his ear, loud enough to be board by all the members of the bar present: "Now do you get out of this court room d d quick, and get out of the city as fast ás your legs can carry you, or thov will nab you again." "The man made for the door, followed by a law student ot Butler's, and immediately disappeared In a few moments the law student returned in breathless haste, and whispered someihinrrin Butler's ear, who instantlv sprang to his feet, soizod hia broad brimmed utraw hat. and dashed out of the court nMí). Mv ouriosity -vas pxcited and T immediately foïlowed?.- Reachins the outer door. I saw Ben at the distance of half a block. rushing down the street at the top of bis speed. Tn asecond the wind b!ew off his hat, but not stopping to recover it, hu kept ahead.hislonshair strearning in the breozo, and a crowd ot boys and loafersat his heols. Hastening after him, Tsooncameto a gronp of in the center of whom was the sheriff in charare nf the just relaased counterfeiter. Butler at once confronted the officor of justice, and demanded to know what in lioll he was dning with that man, andinsisted that the warrant for his ra-arrest should beinstantly produced. The document was not forthcoming, for the reason that it was beI ing prepared in the court house, and j the officer was forced to release his hold upon the prisoner. Butler tuok hia worthy cliënt by tho arm, assisted him in getting clear of the crowd, and t en admonished him to run for hia liï'e, which excellent legal adviee the man at once commonced tofollow, and fled up tho street at a 2.40 gait. It may amuse the reader to know Ji-at (lio cu'prit was arrested a few hours Uterwards in an adjoining town, and eturned to jail - that upon being agam jrought to trial, Butlgr found a now law in the indictment, and procured lis discharge - that ho was a third irno nrrested, and brought to trial, when the principal vvitness against him vas found lo have suddenly and myseriously disíippeáí'ed, whioh oircumstüDce procured his release, and lef; the victory with the indefntigable Ben. But from this position, as a eharp, shrewd, and too often unscrupulous legal defender of base humanity, in a 'ew years a fortúnate occasion sudden y elevated him to a proud rank, and 'urniehed him with u reputation second ,o that of no criminal lawyer in the State. By tho merest accident, I think, ie happened to be retaiued as on of he counsel n a farnous murder case. vhioh occupied tho attention of the oourt for inany da}ps. Here he dis)layed 8iich reinarkable ability in the examination of witntsses, in the general management of the trial, and finaly in his address to tho jury, that with one consent, the jtidges', members of he bar, the press and the public, acciiowledged his unrivaled talonts as an advocate, and prodicted for him a briliant career From tliis time he was etained in the most important trials hroughout. the State, and perhaps ofener than any other member of tho ar. jiitted against the eloquent Choato. Butler married eomj ten years ago he eldest daughter of Dr. Hildreth, a adv of great beauty and aceomplish ments, who had led a brief and aucossful career as an actres, by whom ie has several children. He now rcides in the magniticent mansión furmrly occupied by Samuel Lawrenee, on lie heights of Belvidere, in tho outii Blackwood, a few years since pro ounced the most charming in all


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