Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/361

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

parel of a finer dignity. A whole world's force breaks in vain against this; crouches at last before this.

And now if his Commonwealth, and others in like adversity, approach this pattern, may they not also break misfortune by being broken? I hold up the constancy of Payne as that of one who in this battle "firm did stand;" along with others also firm. Once more he bore him as a knight; true to the tradition of his State; true to it in the beginning; true to it in the middle; true to it in the end. The moral battle now before him, was a hand-to-hand conflict with the constabulary of Satan and his posse; a fight against the rulers of darkness of this world. Out of chaos was to be created a habitable world. Law secures freedom by imposing limits upon license. "Higher law" tore down those limits, so as to leave freedom no defense.

Beautiful is courage in response to duty. Sincere expression in word or work of a man's true spirit; his veritable essence fascinates. The condition of moral progress is moral courage. This moral force was the strength and charm of Payne. One felt that the physical man had been cast in a mould to match the intellectual and moral. In the grapple with evil at the bottom of the pit; in the duel in the dark between sincerity and semblance, calling every instant for that patience under strain which gives strength to the weakest, depth to the shallowest, his own profound conviction was his eloquent persuasion. All could see the purpose to put before other minds what was deepest in his own. The issue was—which is strongest, the contagion of baseness or the contagion of heroism? Beneath a quiet manner was felt his alert energy. The energy of worthy passions was his pathos. A force of heart and intellect spoke with a simplicity of sympathy and force which grasped hearts and intellects; spoke without dissimulation. Fealty to the highest that was in him was his faith. His enemies were the enemies of Virginia; his friends all who fought for her, wrought for her, suffered for her. The great heart of her past was for him a sacred heart, beating in him as his own. He had the reverence of the antique world for the lofty in deed and thought, the true in heart, the firm in will. This indeed, was ingrained in him; part of the essential refinement of his nature; a spirit enveloping him like a fine ether. For what so refines as reverence: what so refined? He was true