Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/325

This page has been validated.
309
Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

at Manassas stood her immortal son, "like a stone wall." How rich the moral return was shown in the clay of her distress, when, from the four corners of the earth her sons came trooping to her to lay all they had on earth upon the altar of sacrifice for—a mother! In the high old Roman sense she could say: "These are my jewels." There came a day when Virginia walked bejeweled from sacrifice to sacrifice—like the Roman mother with her resplendent boys, Washington at the beginning, Lee at the end, of Federal Union, attest the ideal of a Commonwealth.

It was a simple and a grand old day when, in this city, John Marshall might have been seen each morning wending his way to the Old market, accompanied by the negro slave, who carried his basket for him. The line, dark and dangerous, between power and poverty had not then been drawn. If it be replied "the relation between white master and black slave was just that line," I answer, it was no such dark and dangerous line as exists to-day between the extremes of wealth and poverty; between capital and labor. The interval between Marshall and Marshall's Jack; Wickham and Wickham's Bob, was spanned by a bridge resting on the two great pillars of reverence and sympathy. On these two is laid that structure of law and prophets which binds the State together. When the discussion was transferred to the forum of force, the proof was made conclusive that this government of honor, by honor, and for honor, was also the government of love, by love and for love. They who had not shrunk from sacrifice, did not shrink from danger. In language which cannot be obliterated, they said: "Our bosoms are one." The Virginia which had known how to live greatly knew also how to die greatly. Death for country was "sweet and beautiful" once more. It is all a dreamland of the past; that garden of fragrance and bloom; of beauty and peace. The dying landscape of that "First Garden" of free government now wears the quaintness of a vanished age, haunting reminiscence with a beautiful regret. It is a memory and a mist. When this Dominion ended, Virginia could say, like the last of the Judges—"Whose ox have I taken; of whose hands have I received any bribe to blind my eyes therewith?" With war's revolution the Book of Judges closed, the Book of Kings was opened.