Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/208

This page needs to be proofread.

204 Southern Historical Society Papers.

portunities for acquiring wealth in public office, he amassed nothing, and the results of the war, left him poor indeed. He died a poor man poor in this world's goods, but rich, immeasurably rich, in honor. I knew him long and closely. To know him was to love and venerate him. To have known him and to have enjoyed his friendship and confidence till the hour of his death, I shall always count as a privilege, and a most precious remembrance.

To the rear of the present hall of the House of Representatives at Washington, there is a long gallery in which are hung up the por- traits of all the illustrious men who have been the Speakers of the body. There you see Henry Clay, Cobb, Andrew Stevenson, Polk, Kerr, Randall, James G. Elaine, and the present able occupant of the chair, Mr. Reed. There, too, you see the youthful, almost boy- ish, face of Speaker R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, ingenuous, open, true and strong there is no dark shadow on that brow, no wrinkle written by sorrow and care, but rather the light of hope and of a confident, brave soul. To me, as I wander there and involuntarily turn my gaze upon it, there is hardly anything more touching than to contrast, as I must, this portrait with the saddened, melancholy face which haunts my memory of him who, burdened with private grief and public calamity, had, like the patriot, Grattan, survived the liberties of his country, and who, loving Virginia as he did, was called on to witness and mourn the unspeakable shame of a great State that had given Washington and Jefferson to the country, and by the wisdom and patriotism of her sons, had secured to all the Colonies freedom and a government of consent, subjugated by arms, plundered, oppressed and scourged by the very communities she had so generously warmed into life. He saw the sad story of Poland's conquest and dismemberment, so eloquently told by the poet, Camp- bell, reproduced in the New World, with fresh horrors and the added element of ingratitude by the conquerors. He saw his mother- Virginia with bleeding breast, in her hour of agony

"Find not a generous friend, a pitying foe, Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her woe."

I have said Mr. Hunter was a conservative. No man loved truth more, or was quicker to discern abstract principles; but in action for the State he belonged to the wise school of Edmund Burke. His theory of public duty was the attainment of the best political results under existing conditions and circumstances. He would take the