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But when the Doctor, and others referred to, came upon the stand, a contradiction was not even attempted.
If the counsel desired to impeach the witnesses, why did they not call respectable citizens from Louisville? This would have been fair, open, manly.
These young men prove, that about half past nine o'clock, a. m., on the second day of November, 1853, a servant of Robert J. Ward, Sr., came to the school room of Prof. Butler after Victor Ward, a young brother of the prisoner, and his books. They also prove that William Ward, the brother who had been moderately chastised the day before in school, for telling a falsehood, came in about a half hour later, walked up the aisle, took his accustomed seat, and turned round and walked towards the door. It is further proved, that the prisoner and Robert J. Ward, Jr., then entered, and inquired for Prof. Butler, who was at that time absent from the main building, hearing a class in his recitation room; and that the prisoner on his entrance, seemed excited, had his hand in his pocket during the entire conversation which ensued, and kept it there until he drew forth the pistol and fired.
It is proved that in answer to the previous inquiry, that Minor Pope went to the recitation room, and called Prof. Butler, who came out, and with all his usual urbanity, said pleasantly, “Good morning, Mr. Ward;” and that the prisoner's reply was stiff and scornful, and that he then in angry manner, commenced gesticulating with his left hand, and said in a loud tone, “I have a matter to settle with you;' that Prof. Butler then politely invited him to walk into his recitation room, and he would explain everything to his entire satisfaction; that the prisoner refused, saying that he did not come for an explanation, that that was the place to settle it; that the prisoner then asked the deceased which was the worst, the contemptible little pup who begged chestnuts and then lied about them, or his brother who gave them to him; that the deceased then remarked, he could not answer unless first allowed to explain, and that the prisoner again refused to hear an explanation, and asked why he called his brother a liar; and without waiting for a reply, said to the deceased, “You are a damned liar and scoundrel,” and followed the offensive words by a blow with his left hand; that Prof. Butler then caught hold of the collar of the prisoner with his right hand and attempted to seize Ward's right with his left to prevent his using weapons; and that the prisoner drew the pistol, pressing it so closely against the breast of the deceased that it remained for some time in the orifice caused by its discharge, and was taken from thence and thrown upon the floor by the deceased himself; that Prof. Butler then staggered forward towards the recitation room of Mr. Sturgus and fell, saying, "I'm killed ! my poor wife and child.”
It was also proved, that during the whole conversation, the prisoner stood but a few feet from the door, between it and the deceased, which was open, enabling him to retreat at any time, if he desired. But there is another witness, who, from the cold grave, gives an account of the horrible transaction. That his statements were made under the full belief that he was a dying man, is proved by Mrs. Butler, who with a heroism worthy of a Spartan wife and mother, testified in regard to this subject, while it wrung blood from her young heart; Prof. Butler, standing on the very verge of time, the cold waters of the river of death even then laving his feet; at that solemn hour, when the memory regains all its former losses, and the mind-sky becomes clear, illumined by eternal light, declared that the prisoner insulted, cursed and struck him before he gave him a single blow.
It is thus clearly shown that the prisoner went to the school room, violated all the rules of common decency, insulted and killed Prof. Butler without the slightest legal provocation. Look at the cause. His brother, William Ward, had been punished for a violation, not only of the rules of the school, but of morality and honesty. There was no reason why he should not be punished. On the contrary, it was the duty of his teacher to correct him, and had he failed, he would have been highly culpable. But the first cause of this murder lies far back of the punishment inflicted. It is to be found in the education of the prisoner. Belonging to a wealthy, aristocratic and fashionable family, he had been taught that he and his brothers were formed of better clay than ordinary men, had gentle blood in their veins, were not answerable to the same laws, social or municipal. Family and wealth are to be highly prized, as conferring many advantages; chiefly the opportunity of relieving want, alleviating distress, comforting the afflicted, assisting merit, promoting paternal regard and brotherly kindness. It is for purposes like these they are desirable objects. When they become petty tyrants to inferiors, engines of gross oppression, they only serve with honest and independent people, to show more conspicuously the meanness of their possessor. The prisoner had evidently taken a different view of the matter; his brother had been whipped, and as under the Mosaic law there could be no remission of sins without the shedding of blood, so it required, in his estimation, the life-blood of the deceased to wash away a Ward's disgrace. How many crimes are the offspring of those monster parents, Vanity and Selfishness. Wm. Ward had the day before told the prisoner of the occurrences at school, and with his breast rankling with hate, mortified vanity and revenge, he prepares himself for the fatal visit by going to the gun store of Dickson & Gilmore, half or three-quarters of a mile out of his direct road, and first buying a single self-cocking pistol, and as he was about leaving purchased another, and requiring them both to be loaded, ready for use, putting them in his pocket and starting on his mission of death. These pistols were purchased between nine and ten o'clock; the prisoner arrived at the school room a few minutes after ten. Why did he go from his father's house down for the pistols, instead of going directly to Prof. Butler's, which was but a square, unless he expected a difficulty, and desired to use the pistols as he did use them? What other reason can be given for his conduct ? Nothing explains intentions like acts; they reveal the secret motives of the heart. It is also proved by Mrs. Harney, whose lucid manner of delivery and readiness of perception show her quite competent to judge, that when on his way from the gun store, he looked resolute, excited and decided. The question then recurs, with what intention did the prisoner go to see Prof. Butler? For an explanation ? Certainly not; for he remarked while there, he did not come for explanations. If the object of his visit was pacific, why arm himself? Why send for the youngest brother and his books? Why send William back? Or why take Robert with him! He bought the pair of pistols so as to have one to intimidate the boys of the school, if they should attempt to interpose, as is shown by his conduct, as proved after the shooting, in drawing out his other pistol and pointing it at the boys, in a bullying, threatening manner. Perhaps if young Pirtle, a lad of eleven years old, had attempted any assistance, he would have shot him. Will it be contended that the prisoner, knowing as he did that Prof. Butler was unarmed, averse to quarrel, peaceable and kind in a remarkable degree, was so cowardly as to be afraid to talk for a few moments, without his hand resting upon his pistol? I will not do him such gross injustice. He held his pistol firmly in his grasp, using at the time coarse and abusive language, such as he knew would be most likely to produce a blow, on purpose to bring about the difficulty, and thus have a pretext to kill, if Prof. Butler refused to submit to the degradation heaped upon him in the presence of his pupils. He used language that he well knew no man in Kentucky could submit to without loss of character, and if he refused to submit, he was to be shot down like a beast. But it seems that the prisoner defends himself upon the ground that the deceased struck him! How arrogant and self-conceited! What was there about his person so immaculate, as to exempt him from a blow, in return for his insulting language, to a man who, in all the aspects of human greatness and goodness, was as far above him as the heavens are above the earth ? Had the deceased forcibly ejected him from his premises, and punished him, it would have been the very best treatment he deserved. It was quite evident from the low, vile language employed, that all the baser passions of his nature had been aroused. “A man's house is his castle," and the law throws around it the mantle of its protection in a special and unusual degree, and this case illustrates the reason of this especial legal solicitude. The deceased, without ever dreaming of any difficulty, was quietly instructing his school, unarmed and unprepared. What an example for those young men? What a precedent for them ? and what a damning and outrageous precedent would be a verdict of acquittal? If such a man, for such a crime, is to go unwhipped of justice, burn your Constitution and Statute Laws, hurl down the Judge from his bench, go forth forever from a profaned and corrupt jury box, and let the angel of justice proclaim from her temple, as did the angel of the Holy Sanctuary of Israel, I will arise and go home, to return no more; and let all traces of civilization vanish like a shadow, and Kentucky become what she was when the primeval forests covered her, the dark and bloody ground. If Ward had a right to kill the deceased, for the injury received, most assuredly the brothers of the deceased would have the right to kill him, and where would it end? Butler refused to make an apology or explanation upon the demand of the prisoner, and did right; whatever might have been his error, he would have shown himself quite unworthy of his high position and character, had he stooped to comply with such a bullying requisition. He chose wisely to preserve his dignity and honor, and lose his life; for of what value is it without them?
It is in proof, that the rules of the school prescribed a recess of five minutes at the expiration of every hour, and at half past ten, a recess of half an hour. The prisoner went there between the ten and half past ten recess, so as to find the boys engaged at their desks, and to enable him to do his dark work without any interruption from them; another fact, which, if taken separately, would be far from conclusive, but standing in the relation it does to the other facts, points unerringly to malice aforethought. If it had been recess,