Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

Congress, so he joined with Patrick Henry in opposing its rati-Bcation in the Virginia Convention (1788). Failing in this he suggested amendments, the substance of several of which was afterwards embodied in the present Bill of Rights. Declining an appointment as a United States Senator from Virginia, he retired to his home, Gunston Hall (built by him about 1758 and named after the family home in Staffordshire, England). where he died on the 7th of October 1792. With James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, Mason carried through the Virginia legislature measures disestablishing the Episcopal Church and protecting all forms of worship. In politics he was a radical republican, who believed that local government should be kept strong and central government weak; his democratic theories had much influence in Virginia and other southern and western states.

See Kate Mason Rowland, Life and Writings of George Mason (2 vols., New York, 1892).,

MASON, GEORGE HEMMING (1818-1872), English painter, was born at Wetley Abbey, the eldest son of a Staffordshire county gentleman. He was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and studied for the medical profession for five years under Dr Watt of that city. But all his thoughts being given to art, he abandoned medicine in 1844 and travelled for a time on the Continent, finally settling in Rome, Where he remained for some years and sought to make a living as an artist. During this period he underwent many privations which permanently affected his health; but he continued to labour assiduously, making studies of the picturesque scenery that surrounded him, and with hardly any instruction except that received from Nature and from the Italian pictures he gradually acquired the painter's skill. At least two important works are referable to this period: “Ploughing in the Campagna, ” shown in the Royal Academy of 1857, and “ In the Salt Marshes, Campagna, " exhibited in the following year. After Mason's return from the continent, in 1858, when he settled at Wetley Abbey, he continued for a while to paint Italian subjects from studies made during his stay abroad, and thenxhis art began to touch in a wonderfully tender and poetic way the peasant life of England, especially of his native Staffordshire, and the homely landscape in the midst of which that life was set. The first picture of this class was “ Wind on the Wold, ” and it was followed-along with much else of admirable quality -by the painter's three greatest works: The “ Evening Hymn ” (1868), a band of Staffordshire mill-girls returning from their work; “ Girls dancing by the Sea ” (1869); and the “ Harvest Moon” (1872). He left Staffordshire in 1865 and went to live at Hammersmith; and he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1869. By that time he had fully established his position as an artist of unusual power and individuality. Mason died on the 22nd of October 1872. In his work he laboured under the double disadvantage of feeble and uncertain health, and a want of thorough art-training, so that his pictures were never produced easily, or without strenuous and long-continued effort. His art is great in virtue of the 'solemn pathos which pervades it, of the dignity and beauty in rustic life which it reveals, of its keen perception of noble form and graceful motion, and of' rich effects of colour and subdued light. In motif and treatment it has something in common with the art of Millet and Jules Breton, as with that of Frederick Walker among Englishmen; though he had neither the occasional uncouth robustness of Millet nor the firm actuality of ]ules Breton. His pictures “Wind on the Wold” and “ The Cast Shoe ” are in the National Gallery of British Art.

MASON, JAMES MURRAY (1798-1871), American political leader, was born in Fairfax county, Virginia, on the 3rd of November 1798, the grandson of George Mason (1725-1792). Educated at the university of Pennsylvania and the college of William and Mary, he was admitted to the bar in 1820. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1826-1827 and 1828-1831, of the state Constitutional Convention of 1829, of the National House of Representatives (1837-1839), of the United States Senate from 1847 until July 1861 (when, with other Southern senators he was formally expelled-he had previously withdrawn), and of the Virginia Secession Convention in April 1861. Entering politics as a Iacksonian Democrat, Mason was throughout his career a consistent strict constructionist, opposing protective tariffs, internal improvements by the national government, and all attempts to restrict or control the spread of slavery, which he sincerely believed to be essential to the social and political welfare of the South. He was the author of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and in 1860 was chairman of the Senate committee which investigated the John Brown raid. After Lincoln's election as President he was one of the strongest advocates of secession in Virginia. He was appointed in August 1861 commissioner of the Confederate States to Great Britain. The British ship "Trent, " upon which he and John Slidell, the commissioner to France, sailed, was intercepted (Nov. 8, 1861) by a United States ship-of-war (the “San Iacinto,” Captain Charles Wilkes), and the two commissioners were seized and carried as prisoners to Boston. Great Britain immediately demanded their release, and war for a time seemed imminent; but owing mainly to the tactful diplomacy of the prince consort, Lincoln acknowledged that the seizure of Mason and Slidell was a violation of the rights of Great Britain as a neutral, and on the 1st of January 1862 released the commissioners. The incident has become known in history as the “ Trent Affair.” Mason at once proceeded to London, where, however, he was unable to secure official recognition, and his commission to Great Britain was withdrawn late in 1863. He remained in Europe, spending most of his time at Paris and holding blank commissions which he was authorized to hll in at his discretion in case the presence of a. Confederate commissioner should seem desirable at any particular European court. 'These commissions, however, he did not use. After the war he lived for several years in Canada, but returned in 1869 to Virginia, and on the. 28th of April 1871 died at Alexandria.

See The Public Life and Diplomatic Correspondenceof James M. Mason, with some Personal History (Roanoke, Va., 1903), by his daughter, Virginia Mason; Sir Theodore Martin, Life of the Prince Consort.

MASON, SIR JOHN (1503-1566), English diplomatist, was born of humble parentage at Abingdon in 1503, and was educated at Oxford, where he became Fellow of All Souls in 1521. He was ordained before 1531. Most of his early years were spent on the Continent, where he witnessed the meeting between Henry VIII. and Francis I. at Calais in 1532, and where he was employed in collecting information for the English government, gaining in this work the reputation of a capable diplomatist. By his never-failing caution, moderation and pliancy, Mason succeeded in keeping himself in favour with four successive sovereigns of the Tudor monarchy. In 1 5 37 he became secretary to the English ambassador at Madrid, Sir Thomas Wyat; but when the latter was put on his trial for treason in 1541 Mason was unmolested, and soon afterwards was appointed clerk of the privy council, and procured for himself sundry other posts and privileges. Mason was knighted and made dean of Winchester by Edward VI. He was one of the commissioners to negotiate the treaty by which Boulogne was restored to France in 1550, and in the same year he became English ambassador in Paris, where he helped to arrange the betrothal of Edward VI. to the princess Elizabeth of France. He returned to 'England at the end of 1551, became clerk of parliament, received extensive g1'ants of land, and in 1552 was made chancellor of Oxford University. He was elected member of parliament in the same year. On the death of Edward VI., he at first joined the party of Northumberland and the Lady Jane Grey; but quickly perceiving his mistake he took an active part in procuring the proclamation of Mary as queen. Mason now received fresh tokens of royal favour, being confirmed in all his secular, though not in his ecclesiastical, offices; and in 1553 he was appointed English ambassador at the court of the emperor Charles V., of Whose abdication at Brussels in October 1555 he wrote a vivid account. He took a prominent share in the