Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/359

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

As a working theory, faith might be defined as fidelity to the law of our being. As is the depth of this faith, so is the sense of responsibility to acquit ourselves to it. So is the sense of remorse for dereliction from it. To maintain moral independence was now very nearly the whole duty of man. To influence others, Payne had what in his day had not ceased to be the winning forces of courage, courtesy and rectitude. In his own Northern Neck he was seen and heard, with cheering word, with manly hope, with conviction, with resolve. His State lay beneath the heel of corruption, more deadly than any of which George III. had cognizance. Her proud sic semper for him as the vow of his sponsors in baptism, claimed from him never a more supreme allegiance than when the figures on her shield had been reversed. When her misfortune was supreme his allegiance was supreme. Her proud honor had stood the Erenbreitstein of heroic hope. Might not that still stand—the lofty, battle-scared rock—to which hope might cling, when all around was falling? In later years it was said of him, "he lives in the past, out of place in this hustling scene, as Cato's republic in the dregs of Romulus." It may be there has come upon the stage a generation which feels competent to look down upon all that is here commended. Be it so. Yet just because his own foothold was so firmly planted in that past, with the greater firmness he looked through the bitterness of his own time to the resurrection of a better time. Fight on, brave heart; out of the dust and darkness of the well-fought field emerge, at last, the stars of heaven. The book of chivalry once more lay wide open; once more the altar rose. In the wreck of hope he dared to hope. In the life of her husband, Mrs. Jefferson Davis tells us his construction of his stewardship was very strict. His office had for him no perquisites. When she once sent a package by his messenger he said to her: "Patrick's services are for the war department; the horse and wagon are for government use. Employ another servant if your own are not adequate to your use." So once the trust for liberty was held. To-day we come across it as a quaint relic dug up from the Old Curiosity Shop of the past. It discloses a discrepancy between post and antebellum, which, in Carlylian phrase, is "significant of much."