Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/319

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. B. Payne.

Freedom is the free dominion of the law; and the law might be defined as the condition a creator imposes on his creature, which, like the condition a mathematician imposes on a curve. must be satisfied for the creature to properly exist. As we satisfy the conditions of freedom are we free? Does the freedom of which you talk mean freedom for duty or freedom from it? The power to be free is not a quite universal faculty, but the prize of a battle renewed every by them who sleep on their arms every evening. The issue to be tried is—which is stronger love of justice to others or rapacity for self? The true "irrespressible conflict" is the conflict between freedom and corruption; between Noblesse Oblige and Noblesse Dispense. What is called the birthright of freedom is the heritage of past heroisms and sacrifices. The sum total of all the conquests which have been made of man's inherent selfishness is that on which his hope is stayed. As this conquest is, civilization, the refined sense of justice, is.


It seems now a rainbow of romance, but there was once administered a justice which, like human life at common law, was so far beyond price as to admit of none. For some seventy-five years of her independence, and far back of that in her history, the administrative and judicial functions of every county in Virginia were administered by magistrates who, without compensation to themselves, rendered judgment between litigants who incurred no costs. Washington had been one of these magistrates, and before him Fairfax, baron of Cameron. Jefferson was one. William B. Giles and John Taylor, of Caroline, were added to the list after each had left the senate of the United States, and Monroe after he left the White House. "There is no part of the country," said John Marshall in 1830, "where less of disquiet and less of ill-feeling between man and man is to be found than in this Commonwealth, and I believe most firmly that this state of things is mainly to be ascribed to the practical operation of our county courts. The magistrates who compose those courts consist in general of the best men in their counties." Here was that "unbought loyalty" which Burke calls,