Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/307

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

been hung by an avenging mob but that the officers having him in charge, realizing that he could not be an assassin, spirited him to the "Old Capitol" prison, where he was held until passion subsided and it was safe to release him.

William H. Payne was a citizen with genius that fascinated and convinced. Endowed by nature, enriched by culture, strong in thought, magnetic in speech, bold in action, persuasive in appeal, demonstrative by logic, awed by no difficulty, deterred by no danger, he was master among men. A gentle and wise counselor, a tender and true friend, generous and charitable, chivalric and gallant, he was a nobleman who so wore the robes of royalty that he was an honor to his race.

He was history's student, and so vividly and extensively was the past with him, he seemed a part of it. He so garnered the gems of literature they shone in all his thoughts with a lustre all the brighter for the setting of his skill. He was an orator of attractive art and exquisite eloquence, both in the beauty and power of thought and charms of delivery. The classics were commanded by him and cleverly contributed to the chasteness of his composition, and the muses sang for him at his will their choicest melodies, for the delight of his hearers and his vantage in their appreciation. He pointed morals and adorned tales not by execrable jests, but by lessons of experience consecrated by survival for ages.

Politics did not allure him, though tempted by siren with offers rarely refused, and discoverer of the shadows of coming events, ere they were cast to many high in place and honored as statesmen.

Law was his mistress, and returning to her service, and stimulated by necessity, he won from her rewards in the achievement of triumphs and the accumulation of abundance, almost, if not altogether, unequalled in the practice of his profession in the Piedmont section of Virginia.

But despite this career of prominence and prosperity, of honor and power, it was not the pride of his life 'twas less to him than the undisputed splendor of his patriotism, and his distinction in the defense of his State. When the blast of war blew upon our ears he welcomed the sound, for to him it was hosannah for Virginia, though his life blood flowed almost to his death at