William Lyon Mackenzie.

In memoriam Lyman Collins Butler Jan. 2, 1888-June 20, 1917 online

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X^man Collins Butler

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and
this mortal must put on immortality." — I Cor. xv : 53.

r "PHE immortality of Lyman Butler is the memory
*■ of his achievements and the inspiration of his
example. That memory will remain to inspire those
who knew him, so long as they themselves remain. It
is the only immortality which finite minds can grasp
without resort to the supernatural, and it is the im-
mortality of all great men who have gone before. Ly-
man Butler was a man of great deeds and great ideals.
Good will inspired all he thought and did. By giving
to others constantly, unselfishly, and devotedly all the
gifts of his rare nature, he spent his strength to the last
measure, and so sacrificed his life itself for the greater
welfare of his fellow men. It was for this reason that
his life was so short yet so complete.

Lyman Collins Butler was born at Yonkers, New
York, where his parents resided until 1897. He was
the second son of William Allen and Louise Collins But-
ler. As a little boy he awakened the interest of those
to 3



who knew him, arousing their admiration and respect
to an unusual degree. He has been described at that
time of his life as a "sturdy little child, with head erect,
solemnly pacing up and down, singing with earnest zeal
and untiring energy the songs which seemed a very part
of him. " Energy of spirit relieved in its intensity by a
tenderness of nature and careful thought of others —
qualities which were inborn and lasting — manifested
themselves at this time of early childhood. There was
always about him the charm and courtesy of gentle
birth, and his nature expanded into a religion of useful-
ness and helpfulness. With a glowing desire to be of
service he pondered over and probed the problems of
life. And so in after days there was a certain thought-
ful soberness in his manner which added dignity to his
bearing. Considering his life in retrospect this glimpse
of him as a little child solemnly pacing to and fro, chant-
ing his sober song, has an interesting significance.

His early education was received at Mr. Francis B.
Allen's School in New York City ; and he prepared for
College at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania,
of which the late Professor John Meigs was the Princi-
pal. In 1906 he entered Princeton University. A fine
appreciation of everything beautiful and a rare skill at
whatever he tried were already highly developed. He

was an accomplished musician, an appreciative artist
and a good debater. Although his studies were taken
from the artistic and metaphysical branch of the cur-
riculum he could undoubtedly have become an able
scientist or engineer. He had a marked mechanical
ingenuity. In his room at a Freshman lodging house he
ingeniously contrived a series of strings and pulleys by
which he could, from his bed, open and shut both win-
dow and door, turn on the heat, and light the electric
bulb. At a later period of his stay at Princeton, he
made and installed in his rooms a wireless telegraph
instrument which, for several years, he took great
pleasure and interest in operating. There was then in
Princeton another wireless instrument, by which the
editors of the undergraduate daily newspaper had
arranged to receive a message of greeting to be sent by
Dr. Henry van Dyke from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to
Princeton. The plans were made with great secrecy;
nothing but the promise of a surprise was announced
to the students, before the message actually arrived and
was published. It chanced that at the time the message
was sent this other instrument was out of order and it
was the receiving instrument belonging to Lyman
Butler which took the message, and made possible the
publication as planned. After his graduation, he re-

moved the apparatus from Princeton to his home in
New York where he continued his wireless communica-
tions with other operators at various places. This same
instrument has now been presented to Princeton Uni-
versity where it will be used for instructive purposes to
train men as wireless experts and to that extent give
its assistance in the prosecution of the war.

The years at Princeton were happy and full of honor.
He became an art editor of the Princeton Tiger, a comic
monthly magazine published by the undergraduates,
and contributed a large number of illustrations to its
pages. He was also an active debater in the American
Whig Society, one of the student organizations devoted
to training in public speaking.

As a monument to the untiring efforts with which he
worked for those things in which he believed and in-
terested himself, there stands to-day on Prospect
Avenue in Princeton a beautiful building — the new
home of Dial Lodge, one of the upperclass clubs. The
organization of social life in universities and colleges of
this country is still far short of the standards of democ-
racy and equality to which our national life is pledged.
The American college boy is prone to regard his own
social preferment, under this system, from a purely
selfish point of view. Lyman Butler was one of the

few men of whom the contrary may truthfully be said.
His attitude toward the social system of Princeton was
altruistic. He studied it as something making for, or mil-
itating against, the best interests of the University, and
ignored its individual relation to himself. Having con-
sidered it from this angle, he became convinced that the
club system of Princeton was as good a social system as
could, under the present conditions of college life, be
devised. And so he took an active part in the organiza-
tion of Dial Lodge. At the time of his death this Club
had enjoyed eight years of successful existence, and the
new club house was nearing completion, in the planning,
financing, and building of which Lyman Butler was the
moving spirit.

He graduated in 1910, the twelfth man in his class,
receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts cum laude, and
an election to Phi Beta Kappa. How fully he merited
the tribute accorded him by President Hibben, in a
letter to his parents! "Your son had given promise
here of splendid service in the world, and indeed even
before he left Princeton he had won a peculiar place of
respect and confidence in the esteem both of his instruc-
tors and fellow students."

In Lyman Butler, Princeton had one of her most loyal
sons. He loved her with all the intensity of his nature


and served her with the constructive genius which was
peculiarly his. His devotion to her welfare was only-
equaled by the ability with which he ministered to her
needs. He was, unquestionably, the most brilliant
and valuable of her young alumni. For the first five
years after his graduation he served his class organiza-
tion in an executive capacity. In all things Princeton
depends mainly upon her alumni. Hence, the ambition
of every class to excel in the service of the university.
The reunions of alumni by classes, which are held in
Princeton each June, are considered of great importance
to the University by reason of the quickening and main-
tenance among the graduates of their love and interest
for their Alma Mater. The position which Lyman
Butler held as Chairman of the 1910 Reunion Com-
mittee was a responsible one. Almost single-handed,
he prepared "1910's Quin-quennial, " the success of
which is still fresh in the recollection of his classmates.
In 191 5 his class unanimously elected him as their
representative on the Graduate Council. This body
constitutes the official link between the university and
her graduates. Through its organization the alumni
direct their efforts for Princeton; while the university
recognizes the Council as the medium for activity in
Princeton's behalf. His work on the Graduate Council

was of the greatest help to his associates and value to
the University. His Alma Mater received the benefit
of his most unselfish and devoted efforts.

As a member of the Graduate Council he was, ex
officio, a member of the Executive Committee of his
class. He had drawn its Constitution, which was
unanimously adopted by the members at their Fifth
Reunion. His interest in the class organization and his
contribution to the administration of its affairs was as
great and wholehearted as was his activity in all things
which engaged his interest. He was, moreover, almost
the compelling force of everything his class accom-
plished. He devised and started in operation a budget
system of financing the class activities, which was so
comprehensive as to cover all its expenditures. The con-
ception of this plan was masterly, and its successful
operation was assured largely through his efforts.

In September, 1910, he entered the Law School of
Columbia University. He came of a family of lawyers
and he was to carry on the name of Butler in that pro-
fession. The versatility of his attainments became
more apparent than ever before. He was an apt stu-
dent of law, and his standing in his class was excellent.
He mastered the science of law as he mastered the
science of life, with a quick understanding and a com-


manding power. During his course at Columbia he
became a member of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, and of Phi
Delta Phi, a fraternity having chapters in the leading
law schools, also Hamilton Moot Court, one of the two
moot trial societies of the Law School. He interested
himself in the organization of additional moot courts,
that there might be a sufficient number of them for
every student in the law school to be a member of one.
The Dean of the Law School appointed him one of the
two moot-court advisers, and he was associated with
Mr. Frederic B. Colver in this work. It was his idea to
have the graduating class, of which he was a member,
furnish a room in the law school for the use of such
societies, and having caused his class to make this gift
as its memorial, it was he who made the presentation to
President Nicholas Murray Butler, who received it in
behalf of the University.

In December, 1910, he enlisted in the Seventh Regi-
ment as a member of Company K. After five years'
service he was entitled to retire, and in fact became a
veteran of the Seventh Regiment, and re-enlisted, re-
maining a member of Company K until his death, when
he held the rank of Sergeant. His record in the Na-
tional Guard was the record of a good soldier. That he
was a good soldier is a fact, which demonstrates with


unparalleled clearness the far-reaching scope of what he
could do. By nature he had the feelings and sensibili-
ties of a woman, those qualities which make a woman
in some respects a finer creature than man. His point
of view was not of the Spartan kind that goes with the
soldier; nevertheless, he was the best kind of a soldier.
It is true that he came of a fighting stock. His great-
great-grandfather, whose name he bore, was Col. Moses
Lyman, who commanded a regiment in the Battle of
Saratoga with such bravery that as a reward for his
signal service he was permitted to convey to General
Washington the news of Burgoyne's surrender to the
American troops. But Lyman Butler succeeded at
everything he undertook to do, because he put into it
every particle of his best and most passionate efforts.
He brought into play all the qualities with which he was
so richly endowed. He excelled, for example, in rifle
shooting. During six years as a member of the Seventh
Regiment he attained each year in rifle practice the
rating of expert or of sharpshooter.

Upon his graduation from the Columbia Law School
in 1 913 he was admitted to the Bar and entered the
office of Butler, Wyckoff & Campbell, of which firm his
father was the senior member. He continued the prac-
tice of the law until he was called with the Seventh Regi-


ment for service in Texas from June until November,
1 91 6. He kept up his interest in Princeton affairs and
he also became an active member of The Lawyers' Club,
of which his father was president, and of which he was a
member of the Committee on Admissions, of the As-
sociation of Junior Members.

In June, 1915, he was stricken by a severe illness and
submitted to a serious operation, after which he spent a
convalescent summer cruising about Long Island Sound
in a little yawl which he owned. It was one of the
happiest times of his life, one of which in reminiscence
he often spoke with glowing pleasure. He looked for-
ward to another summer vacation cruising about and
enjoying the life on the sea which he had learned to love
so well, but that summer was spent in the unspeakable
hardships of service on the Mexican border. He re-
turned with his regiment from its post at McAllen,
Texas, in November, 19 16, and plunged again into his
law practice and the many interests with which he had
been associated. But the effects of his stay in Texas
were already undermining his health and sapping his

At the beginning of 19 17 his engagement to Miss
Dorothy Dennis, of Morristown, New Jersey, was an-
nounced. It was the crowning happiness of his life and


brought out in glorious radiance the beauty of his na-
ture. He neither idolized nor idealized women but he
recognized that they were not, in reality, the weaker
sex. Lyman Butler's idea of the relationship between
husband and wife, or mother and son, was marked by
the feeling of sacredness. He realized the splendid
spiritual strength of women which raises them to the
same plane with the physically stronger being. He
had made his spiritual and material life worthy to com-
mand the respect of the woman who would one day
become his wife, and had so lived as to bring a joyful
pride to the woman who had given him life to live. To
those two women he gave all the cheerful, helpful quali-
ties of his being with gratitude in his heart that he could
give something with which to repay all that he had re-
ceived from them. He knew and was happy to confess
that man depends upon woman for his strength and
happiness quite as much as she leans for strength and
happiness upon him. Lyman Butler's conception of
the perfect unity of man with woman, was one to which
each contributed an equal share of strength, happiness,
helpfulness, and love.

There was the tragedy of sacrifice in the last months
of his life. He had never enjoyed the physical rugged-
ness that could keep up with his mentality. His ideals


were exalted and serviceable and his life was dedicated
to usefulness. He was inspired to great efforts by a high
purpose, but his body could not withstand the strain.
The plans for his new home showed a longing for rest
and peace after the day's work, and he looked forward
to a home in the country as he had looked forward to
another vacation on his yawl. He shrank from the
turmoil of a place where life is crowded, and turned to
the intimate community-feeling of the village. With
characteristic energy and the happy zeal of anticipation
he made his plans for the future. Then suddenly there
came the complete nerve exhaustion which was the
inevitable result of the inequalities of mind and body.
Courageously he fought for his life and was winning,
but the ravages of the struggle left him exhausted, and
his last ounce of strength had been spent when the acci-
dent of June twentieth happened. Nothing remained
with which to resist any longer. He died as he had
lived — gently, calmly, and bravely, with a smile of peace
and happiness — the peace and happiness of one whose
work has been well done.

The funeral of Lyman Butler was a wonderful per-
sonal tribute. It expressed an exact appreciation of the
life he had led and the grief of those to whom the loss
of that life meant so much. It was a funeral with


military honors. A detail from Company K. of the
Seventh Regiment under the personal command of the
Company Commanding Officer, Captain Barnard,
escorted the casket from the Butler home to the Madi-
son Avenue Presbyterian Church. Silent and saddened
men followed — his pall-bearers — those who had lost a
great, helpful loving friend — those who were thereafter
to feel the everlasting gap.

The church was full, with floral gifts and the delega-
tions from the Seventh Regiment, the Class of 1 910, the
Law School, the Lawyers' Club — all the organizations
to which he had belonged. Every thought and thing
he had bestowed, came back in the person of its recip-
ient to testify to the utter loss the world sustained by
this untimely death. And then the muteness of grief
gave way to gratitude for having had such a man and
such a friend, and voices were raised in the prayer of
thankfulness for "this completed life."

Richard F. Weeks.


Conducted by Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin, D.D.

at THE
madison avenue presbyterian church, june 23, i917


I am the Resurrection and the Life : he that believeth
in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: and who-
soever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, be-
lieve also in me. In my Father's house are many man-
sions : if it were not so I would have told you. And if
I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and
receive you unto myself : that where I am, there ye may
be also.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,

not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your

heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.




Psalm 121. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills."
— 8 verses.

Psalm 103. "Bless the Lord Oh! my soul, and all
that is within me bless his holy name." — 22 verses.

Hymn No. 80. " The strife is o'er, the battle done. The
victory of life is won. The song of triumph has begun.


The Wisdom of Solomon.

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and there shall no torment touch them.

In the light of the universe they seemed to die; and
their departure is taken for misery.

And then going from us to be utter destruction ; but
they are in peace.

And having been a little chastened, they shall be
greatly rewarded, for God loved them, and found them
worthy for himself.

As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and re-
ceived them as a burnt offering.

They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over
the people and their Lord shall reign forever.


They that put their trust in him shall understand the
truth; and such as be faithful in love shall abide with
him, for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath
care for his elect.

But though the righteous be prevented with death,
yet shall he be in rest.

For honorable age is not that which standeth in length
of time, nor that which is measured by number of years.

But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an un-
spotted life is old age.

He pleased God and was beloved of him so that living
among sinners he was translated.

He being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long
time; for his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he
to take him away from among the wicked.

Thus the righteous that is dead shall condemn the
ungodly which are living; and youth that is soon per-
fected the many years and old age of the unrighteous.

For they shall see the end of the wise, and shall not
understand what God in his counsel hath decreed of him
and to what end the Lord hath set him in safety.


Revelation 2, 1 through 4.

22 " 27.

22, 1 " 5.


Hymn No. 223 by Dr. Matheson.

Love, that will not let me go,

1 rest my weary soul on Thee :
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depth its flow
May richer, fuller be.

Light, that followed all my way,

1 yield my flickering torch to Thee ;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze, its day
May brighter be.

Joy, that seekest me through pain,

1 cannot close my heart to Thee ;

I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn will tearless be.

Cross, that liftest up my head,

1 dare not ask to fly from Thee ;
I lay in dust life's glory dead!

And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.


O Father, Source of the light that never sets and of
the love that never fails, in whose heart our lives were
planned, by whose presence they are encompassed, and
upon whose eternal arms we lay us down to sleep at the
last, we bless Thee that neither death nor life, nor things


present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, can
separate us from Thy love. We yield Thee hearty
thanks for all Thy servants who have faithfully lived
and trustfully died; for all enriching memories and up-
lifting hopes ; for the dear and holy dead who make the
distant heaven the home of our thought and lift our
minds to Thee, with whom they abide forever.

More especially we praise Thee for Thy goodness in
this finished life; for the goodly heritage of convictions
and ideals to which he was born ; for the influences for
righteousness which surrounded his earliest days; for
the noble dreams of boyhood, and the consecrations of
his young manhood; for his devotion to things true,
just, lovely, and honorable; for his holy passion to be of
service to his country, to the church, and to the whole
brotherhood of mankind; for the vision of a better
earth to which he obediently dedicated his powers; for
the skill with which Thou didst richly endow him —
deftness of hand, brilliancy of mind, and wealth of
affection ; for all the love which met him day by day in
the home, prayed for him, served him, held up before
him highest expectations of Christian faith and useful-
ness; for the many friendships with which Thou didst
enrich him; and for the holy love with which Thou


didst crown his life. We bless Thee for the memories
that throng in upon us of one pure in heart, unselfish in
purpose, brave in act, loyal to conscience, and faithful
to every duty laid upon him — a good man, full of the
Holy Spirit, and of faith.

Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and of the
evening to rejoice. We in our blindness would have
chosen only a day passing into a glorious sunset and the
soft quiet of evening ; but Thou choosest also a day rising
to a splendid forenoon and then hastening into the
brightness on which no night ever falls. Father of
tender mercies and God of all comfort, come to these
hearts made very sad and very lonely. Help them to
think of their dear dead as with Thee, and that is not
far from them, for Thou hast said, I will not fail thee,
neither will I in any wise forsake thee. Teach them to
say — Yea though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with
me. Be to them the Home which knows no separation.
Use the comfort wherewith Thou consolest them to
ennoble character, and enrich them for service. May the
intimacy formed in the gloom of the valley of sorrow be
maintained on the sunny plains of life. Help them to
employ the comfort wherewith they are comforted to


lighten the burden of others bowed in grief. O God!
in whose hands are our times, Thou speakest very
solemnly to us, when one, who yesterday was at our
side in the full vigor of life, is suddenly taken. Remind
us how short our time is ; gird us for the battle that we
may quit us like men and be strong; fit us for the day's
task, that we may prove ourselves workmen who need
not be ashamed ; set our feet in the way of Jesus Christ,
and keep us so closely following Him, that we shall find
ourselves at home, when for us the veil parts and He
ushers us into the place His hands have prepared for us.

And most chiefly do we thank Thee for Him, for the
life He lived — so short but so abundant; for the death
He died, in the flower of His young manhood — a death
He tasted for every man ; for His promise to come again
and receive us unto Himself, that where He is there we
may be also. And we beseech Thee to enable us so to
fulfil the tasks committed to us that His voice shall bid
us: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou
into the joy of thy Lord"; that we may so share His
sympathy with and interest in and purpose for the least
of His brethren, that He may welcome us saying —
"Come ye blessed of my Father. Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye


have done it unto Me. " So may we ever be with the


Online LibraryWilliam Lyon MackenzieIn memoriam Lyman Collins Butler Jan. 2, 1888-June 20, 1917 → online text (page 1 of 2)