Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/323

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

into realities. For this reason his speech pierced through and through appearances. To face the cohorts of the cupidities and to tell them to their teeth that their evil is not good is a role which appeals but freely to the opportunist. The fearless speaker of the truth; the fearless scourger of the false, is not the popular idol. His message is the great message of all freedom, the restraint of selfish power, the conquest of selfish passion, the conquest of self. The freeman is he who recognizes the obligation of restraints, to break through which is anarchy.

Like this son of her ardent soul, Virginia shrank not from "the cause of liberty in the capitol." Her battle was to replace "the divine right of kings" by the divine right of justice; to defend the simplicity of truth against the idols of the time. She stood for that moral order which men may violate, but at their peril and to their ruin. Can brute force, the law of the jungle, be supplanted by the moral law of justice, is the problem freedom undertakes to satisfy. It is a struggle for the deep things of freedom; for the divine reality of a State, for living relations to eternal freedom. Against the ever-recurring selfishness of States, slipping like a snake from skin to skin, Virginia set her face like a flint. She gave her challenge to that gross materialism which is the hereditary foe of man. Specious devices to make the welfare of all pay special tribute to the pockets of the few faced at every turn her "stern round tower" of State's rights. Until overthrown by force in 1865, you will search the statutes in vain for traces of her selfishness. Everywhere she denied herself with a now forgotten grace.

On the threshhold of independence, her own Bill of Rights had set forth the inherent rights of freemen. First and foremost was their right to that government which "is most effectually secured against the danger of mal-administration;" and the correlative of this, that power is held in trust for the people—the magistrates who exercise power being but trustees. As privilege proceeds liberty recedes, was the doctrine of those "strict constructionists." The cheerful giver of the money of others did not strike those "Virginia abstractionists," (derisively so-called) as a superlative phenomenon. The "protection" they demanded was protection from power—the protection of which patriotism is the reciprocal security against a less abstracted