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HE came of fighting stock. His father's father, Captain Zephaniah Butler, of Woodbury, Connecticut, fought under General Wolfe at Quebec, and served in the continental army through the war of the revolution. A large old-fashioned powder-horn, covered with quaint carving, done by this old soldier's own hand and jack-knife, which was slung at his side when he climbed the hights of Quebec, and the sword which he wore during the war for independence, now hang in the library of General Butler at Lowell, the relics of an honorable career. The mother of General Butler descends from the Cilleys of New Hampshire, a doughty race of Scotch-Irish origin; one of whom fought at the battle of the Boyne on the wrong side. That valiant Colonel Cilley, who at the battle of Bennington commanded a company that had never seen a cannon, and who, to quiet their apprehensions, sat astride of one while it was discharged, was an ancestor of our general. Mr. Cilley, member of congress from Maine, who was shot in a memorable duel, twenty-five years ago, was the general's cousin. Thus the tide that courses the veins of Benjamin Franklin Butler is composed, in about equal parts, of that blood which we call Anglo-Saxon, and of that strenuous fluid which gives such tenacity and audacity to the Scotch-Irish. Such a mixture affords promise of a mitigated Andrew Jackson or of a combative Benjamin Franklin.

The father of General Butler was John Butler, of Deerfield, New Hampshire; captain of dragoons during the war of 1812; a faithful soldier who served for a while under General Jackson at New Orleans, and there conceived such love for that tough old hero, as to name his first boy Andrew Jackson. After the war, he engaged in the West India trade, sailing sometimes as supercargo, sometimes as merchant, sometimes as captain of the schooner, enjoying for several years a moderate sufficient prosperity. In politics, a democrat, of the pure Jeffersonian school; and this at a time when in New Hampshire to be a democrat was to live under a social ban. He was one of the few who gave gallant support to young Isaac Hill, of the New Hampshire Patriot, the paper which at length brought the state into democratic line. He was a friend, personal as well as political, of Isaac Hill, and shared with him the odium and the fierce joy of those early contests with powerful and arrogant federalism. A 'hearted' democrat was Captain Butler; one whose democracy was part of his religion. In Deerfield, where he lived, there

were but eight democratic voters, who formed a little brotherhood, apart from their fellow townsmen, shunned by the federalists as men who would have been dangerous from their principles if they had not been despicable from their fewness. His boys, therefore, were born into the ranks of an abhorred but positive and pugnacious minority-a little spartan band, always battling, never subdued, never victorious.

In March, 1819, Captain Butler, while lying at one of the West India Islands with his vessel, died of yellow fever, leaving to the care of their mother his two boys, Benjamin being then an infant five months old. A large part of his property he had with him at the time of his death, and little of it ever found its way to his widow. She was left to rear her boys as best she could, with slender means of support. But it is in such circumstances that a New England mother shows the stuff she is made of. Capable, thrifty, diligent, devoted, Mrs. Butler made the most of her means and opportunities, and succeeded in giving to one of her boys a good country education, and helped the other on his way to college, and to a liberal profession. She lives still, to enjoy in the success of both of them, the fruit of her self-denying labors and wise management; they proud to own that to her they owe whatever renders them worthy of it, and thanking God that she is near them to dig nify and share their honors and their fortune.

General Butler was born at Deerfield, an agricultural town of New Hampshire, on Guy Faux day, the fifth of November, 1818.

The fatherless boy was small, sickly, tractable, averse to quarrels, and happy in having a stout elder brother to take his part. Reading and writing seem to come by nature in New England, for few of that country can recollect a time when they had not those accomplishments. The district school helped him to spelling, figures, a little geography, and the rudiments of grammar. He soon caught that passion for reading which seizes some New England boys, and sends them roaming and ravaging in their neighborhood for printed paper. His experience was like that of his father's friend, Isaac Hill, who limped the country round for books, reading almanacs, newspapers, tracts, "Law's Serious Call," the Bible, fragments of histories, and all printed things that fell in his way. The boy hunted for books as some boys hunt for birds'-nests and early apples; and, in the great scarcity of the article, read the few he had so often as to learn large portions of them by heart; devouring with special eagerness the story of the revolution, and all tales of battle and adventure. The Bible was his mother's sufficient library, and the boy pleased her by committing to memory loug pas

sages; once, the whole book of Matthew. His He was a slender lad of sixteen, small of memory then, as always, was something won- stature, health infirm, of fair complexion, and derful. He can, at this hour, repent more poetry, hair of reddish brown; his character conspicuperhaps, than any other person in the country ously shown in the remarkable form of his head. who has not made the repeating of poetry a Over his eyes an immense development of the profession. His mother, observing this gift, and perceptive powers, and the upper forehead considering the apparent weakness of his con- retreating almost like that of a Flat-head Indian. stitution, early conceived the desire of giving | A youth of keen vision, fiery, inquisitive, fearhim a liberal education, cherishing also the fond less; nothing yet developed in him but ardent hope, a New England mothers would in those curiosity to know, and perfect memory to retain. days, that her boy would be drawn to enter the Phrenologists would find proof of their theory ministry. in comparing the portrait of the youth with the well-rounded head of the man mature, his organs developed by a quarter of a century of intense and constant use of them. His purse was most slenderly furnished. His mother could afford him little help. A good New Hampshire uncle gave him some assistance now and then, and he worked his threo hours a day in the manual. labor department at chair-making, earning wages ridiculously small. He was compelled to remain in debt for a considerable part of his college expenses.

One chilly morning in November, 1821, when he was in his fourth year, half a dozen sharpeyed Boston gentlemen, Nathan Appleton being one of them, might have been seen (but were not) tramping about in the snow near the Falls of the Merrimac. There was a hamlet near by of five or six houses, and a store, but these gentlemen wandered along the banks of the river among the rocks and trees, unobserved, conversing with animation. The result of that morning's walk and talk was the city of Lowell, now a place of forty thousand inhabitants, with thirteen millions invested in cotton and woolen mills, and two hundred thousand dollars a month paid in wages to operatives. In 1828, when our young friend was ten years old, and Lowell was a thriving town of two thousand inhabitants, his mother removed thither with her boys.

It was a fortunate move for them all. The good mother was enabled to increase her income by taking a few boarders, and her book-loving son had better schools to attend, and abundant books at command. He improved these opportunities, graduating from a common school to the high school, and, at a later day, preparing for college at the academy of Exeter in his native


As the time approached for his entering college, the question was anxiously discussed in the family, What college?

The college was of vast benefit to our young friend, as any college must have been, conducted in the interests of virtue, and attended by a hundred and seventy-five young men from the simple and industrious homes of New England; most of them eager to improve, and perfectly aware that upon themselves alone depended the success of their future career. If he was prono to undervalue some parts of the college course, he made most liberal use of the college library. He was an omnivorous reader. All the natural sciences were interesting to him, particularly chemistry; and his fondness for such studies inclined him long to choose the medical profession. No student went better prepared to the class-room of the professor of natural philosophy.

Seduced by his example, there arose a party in the college opposed to the regular course of studies, advocates of an unregulated browse The boy was decided in favor of West Point. among the books of the library, each student to Nor was a cadetship unattainable, in the days read only such subjects as interested hin. of Jackson and Isaac Hill, to the son of Captain There was a split in the Literary Society. Of John Butler. But the cautious mother hesitated. the retiring body, after immense electioneering, She feared ho would forget his religion, and young Butler was elected president, and the disappoint her dream of seeing him in the pulpit question was then debated with extreme earnestof a Baptist church. She consulted her minister ness for several weeks, whether the mind would upon the subject. He agreed with her, and fare better by confining itself to the college recommended Waterville college, in Maine, re- routine, or by reading whatever it had appetite cently founded by the Baptists, with a special for. I know not which party carried the day; view to the education of young men for the but our friend was foremost in maintaining both ministry. It proinised, also, the advantage of a by speech and example, that knowledge was manual labor department, in which the youth, knowledge, however obtained, and that the by working three hours a day, could earn part mind could get most advantage by partaking of of his expenses. At Waterville, moreover, there the kind of nutriment it craved. He laid a could be no danger of the student's neglecting wager with a noted plodder of the college, that religion, since the great object of the college he would continue for a given term his desultory was the inculcation of religion, and all the in- reading, and yet beat him in the regular lessons Auences of the place were religious. The presi- of the class. The wager was won by an artifice. dent himself was a clergyman, several of the He did continue his desultory reading, as well professors were clergymen. Attendance at as his desultory wanderings about the country, church on Sundays was compulsory, and there but late at night, when all the college slept, he was even a fine of ten cents for overy unexcused spent some hours in vigorous cram for the next absence from prayers. With such safeguards, day's lesson. His memory was such, that he what danger could there be to the religious found it easier to commit to memory such lessons principles instilled into the mind of the young as "Wayland's Moral Philosophy," than to preman from his earliest childhood? Thus argued pare them in the usual way. He astonished his the minister. The mother gave heed to his plodding friend one day, by repeating thirteen. opinions, and the youth was consigned to Water-pages of Wayland, without once hesitating: ville.

He came into collision with his reverend

It was rumored at the time that he narrowly escaped expulsion. He had a friend or two in the faculty who, perhaps, could forgive the audacity of the petition for the sake of its humor.

It must be owned that the Calvinistic theology in vogue at Waterville, did not commend itself to the mind of this young man. He was formed by nature to be an antagonist; and youth is an antagonist regardless of remote consequences. At West Point he would have battled for his hereditary tenets against all who had questioned them. At Waterville, nothing pleased him better than to measure logic with the staunchest doctor of them all. It chanced toward the close of his college course, that the worthy president of the institution delivered a course of lectures upon miracles, maintaining these two propositions: 1. If the miracles are true, the gospel is of Divine origin and authority. 2. The miracles are true, because the apostles, who must have known whether they were true or false, proved their belief in their truth by their martyrdom. At the close of each discourse, the lecturer invited the class to offer objections. Young Butler seized the opportunity with alacrity, and plied the doctor hard with the usual arguments employed by the heterodox. He did not fail to furnish himself with a catalogue of martyrs who had died in the defense and for the sole sake of dogmas now universally conceded to be erroneous. All religions, he said, boasted their army of martyrs; and martyrdom proved nothing-not even the absolute sincerity of the martyr. And as to the apostles, Peter notoriously denied his Lord, Thomas was an avowed skeptic, James and John were slain to please the Jews, and the last we heard of Paul was, that he was living in his own hired house, commending the government of Nero. The debate continued day after day, our youth cramming diligently for each encounter, always eager for the fray. He chanced to find in the village a copy of that armory of unbelief, "Taylor's Diegesis of the New Testament," and from this, he and his comrades secretly drew missives to let fly at the president after lecture. The doctor maintained his ground ably and manfully, little thinking that he was contending, not with a few saucy students, but with the accumulated skeptical ingenuity of centuries.

instructors on a point of college discipline. The | for irreverence. fine of ten cents imposed for absence from prayers, was a serious matter to a young gentleman naturally averse to getting up before daylight, and who earned not more than two or three ten cent pieces daily in the chair shop. But it was not of the fine that he complained. It was a rule of the college that the fine should carry with it a loss of standing in class. This our student esteemed unjust, and he thought he had good reason to complain since, though, upon the whole, a good scholar, he was always on the point of expulsion for the loss of marks for his morning delinquency. He took an opportunity, at length, to protest against this apparent injustice in a highly audacious and characteristic manner. One of the professors, a distinguished theologian, preached in the college church, a sermon of the severest Calvinistic type, in the course of which he maintained propositions like these: 1. The Elect, and the Elect alone, will be saved. 2. Of the people commonly called Christians, probably not more than one in a hundred will be saved. 3. The heathen have a better chance of salvation than the inhabitants of Christian countries who neglect their opportunities. Upon these hints the young gentleman spake. He drew up a petition to the faculty, couched in the language of profound respect, asking to be excused from further attendance at prayers and sermons, on the grounds so ably sustained in the discourse of the preceding Sunday. If, he said, the doctrine of that sermon was sound, of which he would not presume to entertain a doubt, he was only preparing for himself a future of more exquisite anguish by attending religious services. He begged to be allowed to remind the faculty, that the church in which the sermon was preached, had usually a congregation of six hundred persons, nine of whom were his revered professors and tutors; and as only one in a hundred of ordinary Christians could be saved, three even of the faculty, good men as all of them were, were inevitably damned. Could he, a mere student, and not one of the most exemplary, expect to be saved before his superiors? Far be from him a thought so presumptuous. Shakspeare himself had intimated that the lieutenant cannot expect salvation before his military superior. Nothing remained, therefore, for him but perdition. In this melancholy posture of affairs, it became him to beware of hightening his future torment by listening to the moving eloquence of the pulpit, or availing himself of any of the privileges of religion. But here he was met by the college laws, which compelled attendance at chapel and church; which imposed a pecuniary fine for non-attendance, and entailed a loss of the honors due to his scholarship. Threatened thus with damnation in the next world, bankruptcy and disgrace in this, he implored the merciful consideration of the faculty, and asked to be excused from all further attendance at prayers and t church.

This unique petition was drawn with the utmost care, and the reasoning fully elaborated. Handsomely copied, and folded into the usual form of important public documents, it was sent to the president. The faculty did not take the joke. Before the whole college in chapel assembled, the culprit standing, he was reprimanded

All this, I need scarcely say, was mere intellectual exercise and sport. General Butler, during the whole of his mature life, has been a liberal supporter of the church, and an advocate of its institutions and requirements.


His college course was done. He would have graduated with honor, if his standing as a scholar had not been lost through his delinquencies as a rebel. As it was, it was touch-and-go, whether he could be permitted to graduate at all. He was, however, assigned a low place in the graduating class, and bore off as good a piece of parchment as the best of them. had outlived his early preference for the medical profession. In one of his last years at college, he had witnessed in court a well-contested trial, and as he marked with admiration the skillful management of the opposing counsel, and shared the keen excitement of the strife, he said to himself: "This is the work for me." He left college in debt, and with health impaired. He

weighed but ninety-seven pounds. In all the, duties of a citizen of a free country, but rejoicing world, there was no one to whom he could look in them, and making them serve his purposes, as for help, save himself alone. they should.

Yet, in the nick of time, he found a friend who gave him just the aid he needed most. It was an uncle, captain of a fishing schooner, one of those kind and brave old sailors of Yankee land, who, for two hundred years, have roamed the northern seas in quest of something to keep the pot boiling on the rock-bound shores of Home. The good-hearted captain observed the pale visage and attenuated form of his nephew. "Come with me, lad, to the coast of Labrador, and heave a line this summer. I'll give you a bunk in the cabin, but you must do your duty before the mast, watch and watch like a man. I'll warrant you'll come back sound enough in the fall." Thus, the ancient mariner. The young man went to the coast of Labrador: hove a line; ate the flesh and drank the oil of cod; came back, after a four months' cruise in perfect health, and had not another sick day in twenty years. His constitution developed into the toughest, the most indefatigable compound of brain, nerve and muscle lately seen in New England. A gift of twenty thousand dollars had been a paltry boon in comparison with that bestowed upon him by this worthy uncle.

He returned to Lowell in his twentieth year, and took hold of life with a vigorous grasp. The law office which he entered as a student, was that of a gentleman who spent most of his time in Boston, and from whom he received not one word of guidance or instruction; nor felt the need of one. He read law with all his might, and began almost immediately to practice a little in the police courts at Lowell, conducting suits brought by the factory girls against the mill corporations, and defending petty criminal cases; glad enough to earn an occasional two dollar fee. The presiding justice chanced to be a really learned lawyer and able man, and thus this small practice was a valuable aid to the student. Small indeed were his gains, aud sore his need. One six months of his two years' probation, he taught a public school in Lowell, in order to procure decent clothing; and he taught it well, say his old pupils. What with his school. his 'law studies, and his occasional practice, he worked eighteen hours in the twenty-four.

A trifling incident of these early years marks at once the Yankee and the man. That everyday wonder of the modern world, a locomotive, was then first seen at Lowell. Many of us remember sceing our first locomotive, and how we comported ourselves on the interesting occasion. Our young lawyer behaved thus: In company with his friend, the engineer, he visited the wondrous engine at its own house, and spent five hours in studying it, questioning both it and its master until he understood the why and the wherefore of every part, and felt competent to navigate the machine to Boston. This small anecdote contains the essence of old New England; which is expressed also in one of the country exclamations; "I want to know!"

In 1840, being then twenty-two years of age, he was admitted to the bar. An early incident brought him into favor with some of the millowners. There was a strike among his friends and patrons, the girls; two or three thousand of whom assembled in a grove near Lowell, to talk over their grievances and organize for their redress. They invited the young lawyer to address them, and he accepted the invitation. It was a unique position for a gentleman of twentytwo, not wanting in the romantic element, to stand before an audience of three thousand young ladies, the well-instructed daughters of New England farmers and mechanics. He gave them sound advice, such as might have come from an older head. Admitting the justice of their claims, he showed the improbability of their obtaining them at a time when labor was abundant, and places in the mills were sought by more girls than could be employed. The mill-owners, he said, could, at that time, allow their mills to stand idle for a considerable period without serious loss-perhaps, even with advantage; but could the girls afford to lose any considerable part of a season's wages? Strikes were always a doubtful, and often a desperate measure, and entailed suffering upon the operatives a thousand times greater than the evils for which they sought redress. The time might come when a strike would be the only course left them; but, at present, he counseled other measures. He concluded by strongly advising the girls to return to their work, and endeavor by remonstrance, and, if that failed, by appeals to the legislature, to procure a shorter day and juster compensation. The girls took his advice and returned to work.

At this time he joined the Lowell Phalanx, a company of that Sixth regiment of Massachusetts militia, so famous in these years for its bloody march through Baltimore. Always fond of military pursuits and exercises, he has served in every grade-private, corporal, sergeant, The day's work in the mills was then thirteen third lieutenant, second lieutenant, first lieu-hours-a literally killing period. Thirteen tenant, captain, major, lieutenant-colonel, colonel, and brigadier-general; making it a point to hold every one of these positions in due succession. For many years, the drills, parades and annual encampings of his regiment were the only recreation for which he would find leisure-much to the wonder of his professional friends, who were wont, in the old, peaceful times, to banter him severely upon what seemed to them a rather ridiculous foible. "What a fool you are," they would say, "to spend so much time in marching around town in soldier-clothes !" This young gentleman, however, was one of those who take hold of life as they find it; not disdaining the

hours a day in a mill means this; incessant activity from five in the morning until nine in the evening the year round. It means a tired and useless Sunday. It means torpidity or death to all the nobler faculties. It means a white and bloated face, a diseased and languid body, a premature death. As much as to an other man in Massachusetts the subsequent change to eleven hours was owing to "the girls' lawyer," as we shall see in a moment.

His advice to the girls, at their mass-meeting in the grove, was well pleasing to the lords of the mill, some of whom, from this time, gave him occasional employment.

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