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B[enjamin] F[ranklin] Butler to William Howard Allen, 4 May 1818

My dear friend

I thank you for your favor of the 24th. It was directed & forwarded to Hudson & as my stay at that place was only for two days I unfortunately missed it. Owing to the circumstances it did not reach me as soon as it would otherwise have done. You can not adequately conceive how much I am gratified by the manner in which you speak of my intended relationship. Next to the desire I have always entertained of preserving by a course of tender & affectionate regard the attachment of my H. it has been my most constant wish to receive the free, sincere & unequivocal consent & approbation of her family. To have loved her as I have done, to be blest by the most ample return, & still to have encountered the open opposition or the forced, extorted & lukewarm permission of her friends, would have been to both of us, but particularly to me, a circumstance of the greatest difficulty & regret. I am truly happy that it is otherwise, and it has long been a matter of sincere pleasure that my attention was too marked & my declarations too explicit, to leave any of our friends in doubt as ^to^ their object & design. This has afforded the most ample opportunity of reflecting on the subject, and if our mutual attachment had not been viewed without alarm, I should long since have discovered it. I can not tell you how grateful I am for the unmerited attention & regard with which I have ever been treated by every member of your family. I hope through life to evince that it can not & will not be forgotten. 

With regard to those unfortunate & afflicting circumstances to which you allude, I can truly say that they have have often excited the most sincere regret on my part and have produced no other feelings than those of sympathy & respect for your misfortunes. This sympathy has not been of that coarse & obtrusive kind which to an independent & high minded person is unacceptable & disgusting, but it has been confined to my own bosom & seldom if ever spoken of. I am aware of the sanctity of those sorrows which friendship can neither share nor alleviate and I have endeavoured to avoid illegible probing the wound which I was unable to heal. When I first became acquainted with your sister the situation of her family was particularly calculated to rob her of enjoyment. Your mother had but just recovered from a long illness. You was a prisoner in Great Britain, Mary was at school & my dear at NewYork for six or eight months in succession. Public conversation (which is ever busy on such subjects) had informed me of all it knew. and I soon discovered that your sister was far from being happy and though I saw enough to convince me that her gaeity was for the most part assumed yet I was a stranger & I dared not to offer her the tribute of consolence. It was to me a matter of pleasing reflection that she appeared to derive from my attention some little pleasure, & the thought that I was in any way contributing to her happiness inspired me with new ardor & fidelity. She was at that time so young & retiring that she went into no fashionable company, & received very little attention from those butterflies of society who are ever hovering around the favorites of wealth & fortune, and as I was anxious to convince them that I cared but little for such persons, I devoted all ^my^ leisure ^hours^ exclusively to her. With regard to poverty, I well know its evils, for I have so far been compelled to labour under all its privations. But I do not consider it a reproach. On the contrary 'tis a spur to laborious industry, to honorable exertion. One would not live without usefulness or labor, and perhaps it's better for me that I am compelled to study economy & moderation than to possess at this time of life a fortune which would drive away both. For Harriets sake I often lament with the deepest sorrow that I am not more able to provide for her as she deserves, but on my own account it seldom gives me trouble. I am started in life, with a profession whose labours will secure me a competence if I exert myself. If I don't get a decent livelihood it will be my own fault. I believe that I shall. Your situation is more interesting & important, for many persons who are worthy of all your exertions depend on them for their future comfort. 

I am ashamed to write so much about myself. I have really become a great egotist. But this is the last time I shall ever trouble you so much on so unprofitable a subject. 

We have fixed on the 11th inst. as the happy day which is to unite our lives & fortunes. The ceremony will be performed I suppose about 8 in the morning, which I have do doubt will be a pleasant one, but which would certainly have been more so, if your illegible ^company^ could have been added to its pleasures. I shall take down Mr. Olcott & Mr. Norton ^two of^ my best & oldest friends to assist on the occasion. Mr. Norton supplies your place. It is our intention to make a short visit to NewYork & Briar cliff & within 8 or 9 days from the 11th. to return to Albany. I shall always be happy to hear from you, and to be assured of your welfare & prosperity.

Believe me very sincerely

your friend

B.F. Butler

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Source: N New York State Library
Collection: Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers (N)
Series: Series 3 (17 February 1815-2 December 1821)