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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 060 [06-23-1874]

              [newspaper clipping]
[handwritten by Gunn]
x June 23, 1874.

A Liking for our Four-footed Companions
     that took an Author from the School Room
     to the Little Dog Store in Peck Slip�A Mel-
     ancholy Case of Hydrophobia.
  On Tuesday night Francis Butler, the
distinguished dog fancier of Peck Slip, after
several hours of terrible suffering died from hy-
drophobia in his residence at Prospect and
Bremen streets, Brooklyn.  About six weeks
ago a gentleman left at his place of
business a small Spitz dog.  The animal 
had been for some time ailing, and the
owner wished to obtain Mr. Butler�s opinion
whether the symptoms were those of hydro-
phobia.  The veteran expert hardly believed in
the existence of the disease, or at all events he
had full confidence in his own ability to cure
it in its worst phases.  He declined to give
an opinion at the time on the case, and
asked that the dog might be left with him
for a few days for treatment.  The owner con-
sented and went away, and Mr. Butler, as a pre-
liminary measure, gave the animal a dose of
salts.  It was no easy task, for the dog was ter-
rified at the sight of medicine, and struggled
violently.  The assistant held the animal, and
Mr. Butler forcing its mouth open with his left
hand was in the act of pouring the dose down
its throat when the creature broke away from
the assistant, and before Mr. Butler could move
his right hand it had seized him by the thumb
and lacerated it badly.  Before he could fling 
the animal from him the finger was almost sev-
  In his long experience with dogs Mr. Butler
had again and again been bitten, though never
so badly as on this occasion.  He was not at all
alarmed, however, for long familiarity with the
danger had rendered him callous to it, and, like
most dog fanciers, he believed that though all
mankind should die of hydrophobia he at least
was invulnerable.  The dog evidently required
close attention, and Mr. Butler decided upon
taking it to his residence in Brooklyn, where
he ahd
or under treatment.  He bound up his wounded
hand, and putting the dog in a basket, directed
his boy to take it over.  As the Roosevelt street
ferry boat, by which the lad was crossing to
South Seventh street, was entering the slip, the
lid of the basket was unloosed, the dog sprang
out and ran among the passengers on deck,
snapping viciously at everybody.  It seemed
then to have very well defined symptoms of 
hydrophobia; the froth was dropping from its
mouth, and its eyes had that fixed glare which
its characteristic of canine madness.  Every one
got out of his way as quickly as possible, and
not a few nearly fell into the river in their efforts
to escape a worse fate than drowning.  In a few
moments, however, the boat entered the slip,
and the passengers hastily dispersed, but not
before a man, whose name has not been ascer-
tained, had been bitten in the leg.  Soon after-
ward a policeman killed the rabid animal.
  Mr. Butler then became a little uneasy as to
the result of his wound; he had it carefully
poulticed and dressed, and watched it
closely every day; but he was still free
from any apprehension of its resulting in hydro-
phobia.  He took precautions more with a view
of alleviating the anxiety of his family than
from any fear entertained on his own account.
 The wound healed as rapidly as could be ex-
pected, but Mr. Butler�s general health was not
good.  He suffered severely from sciatica and
was unable to leave his house for a long time;
his spirits sank as his strength diminished, but
though filled with gloomy forebodings on other
subjects he almost forgot the wound on his 
  A few days ago the wound began to fester
slightly, a something like a felon seemed to
be forming.  It gave Mr. Butler considerable
pain, and occasioned great anxiety to his fam-
ily.  On Monday morning he was sitting at
breakfast at the usual hour, apparently in some-
what better health and spirits than he had been
in for some time.  His wife handed him a cup
of tea, which he raised to his lips; instantly a
tremor ran through his frame, and he set the cup
on the table, remarking that it was the strangest
feeling he had ever experienced.  A second time
he tried to drink the tea, but the result was even
more marked than before, and shuddering con-
vulsively he pushed the cup from him.  He 
said he felt
at the sight of it, and asked his wife to get him
a seidlitz powder.  Mrs. Butler was deeply agi-
tated: she knew but too well that the terrible
poison with which her husband had been inocu-
lated six weeks before was at last doing its fatal
work, and that his hours were numbered.  She
procured the seidlitz powder, and offering it to
him, carefully watched the result.  It was une-
quivocal; he at once became violently convulsed
and cried to her to take it away.  She then sent
for Dr. Lorette, but long before his arrival the
sufferer was fully alive to his peril.  He was per-
fectly self-possessed, and gave instructions
regarding the arrangement of his affairs with his
usual keen, common sense; he knew that he
was dying, and said he had no hope of living to
see another day.  He also knew that his end
was to be no tranquil one, and not
wishing the members of his family to see
his sufferings, he ordered them out of
his room.  After 12 o�clock he lost all mastery
over himself; his wife could hardly prevail upon
him to remain at home, and he ran up and down
stairs striking at every one he met with a stick.
When Dr. Francis M. Lorette arrived he found
him frightfully agitated, but able to converse
and understand what was said to him.  He said
he was suffocating, and the doctor prescribed a
glass of water.  He tried hard to drink it, but
the effort threw him into violent convulsions, in
which he was nearly suffocated.  From this time
the paroxysms increased rapidly in frequency
and violence; his sufferings were fearful, and he
entreated those around him to hasten his end.
Soon afterward he wrote on a slip of paper a re-
quest that he might be relieved in some way�
even by death.  A blister was then placed upon
the throat and chest, and sulphate of morphine
was applied to the abrased surface.  This seem-
ed to afford him some relief.  The paroxysms
became less violent, and attacked him at longer
intervals and at length he became unconscious,
and died.
                    MR. BUTLER�S LIFE.
  Mr. Butler, who was in his 64th year, was
born in the town of Stroud, Gloucestershire,
England.  He belonged to a family moving in
the first society in England.  He was liberally
educated, and as a linguist had very few supe-
riors, speaking six or seven languages fluently.
He came to this country thirty-six years ago,
and was well and favorably known as a profes-
sor of languages.  He was connected for a long
period with Fairfield�s Academy in Brooklyn,
and also filled the post of French teacher in an
educational institute in Flushing.  He published
a French and German �Speaker,� which was a
work of considerable repute.  A love of dogs
which had characterized him in his early years
was by no means lost during his checkered career
in America.  He owned several of these animals,
and his friends sent him their pets when they re-
quired medical treatment.  About twenty years
ago he resolved to give up his literary pursuits
and establish himself as a trainer and breeder of
dogs.  He opened his well-known establishment 
in Peck slip, and his success far surpassed his
utmost expectations.  He was undoubtedly the
leader of his profession in America.  Those who
are acquainted only with the little store in Peck
slip can hardly imagine the immense business
he did.  A notion of its magnitude may be
gathered from the fact that on his property in
Brooklyn, consisting of eight lots around his
dwelling house, he had frequently as many as
three hundred dogs of all breeds for sale or
undergoing medical treatment.  He acquired
considerable wealth, which he leaves to his
family, consisting of his wife and five children.               
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