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The vacation of 1823, which William Peyton spent at home, had scarcely passed away before he was on his return to Yale. During the term which followed, he completed his academic education, giving such increased evidence of talent and scholarship, that there were few of his associates who did not believe he would achieve great things in after life. Professors and students alike regarded him as the coming man, as well by the cleverness he had displayed in his Uuniversity career, as by his conversation, conduct, tone, and manner, by his ready writings and speeches, or, in other words, by the thousand signs and tokens through which mind can be recognized and made known.
It may not be uninteresting to remark, that his residence and partial education in the north exercised a wholesome influence upon his opinions in after life. Many of the prejudices which he imbibed in youth against the northern people, and more especially those of New England, were removed, He learned to take larger and more catholic views, to respect the New
Englanders for their great rirtues of intellect, perseverance, and morality. In later
In later years these youthful impressions were strengthened by further intercourse with the northern people, and he did much to create a better feeling between the inhabitants of the two great sections of the Republic. Among other things, he invited one of his college friends, Mr. B., subsequently the Rev. E. Boyden, to make him a visit. Mr. Boyden, who accepted the invitation, was so much pleased with the society, climate, and scenery of Virginia, that he adopted it as his home, and, some years after this visit, married a Stauntonian. Through the influence of my father and his wife's family, he was appointed curate, and afterwards rector, of Trinity Church, Staunton. The Rev. E. Boyden is still (1873) living in Virginia, where he is much esteemed and respected.
On my brother's return from Yale, our kind father, by a rare display of wisdom and liberality, placed at his son's absolute disposal, the estate he had acquired through his mother. Under the laws of Virginia, the husband is entitled, on the wife's death, by what is termed the “ courtesy of England, to the usufruct of her property for life. My father did not choose to exercise this right, because, having married again, and having already one child born with every prospect of a large family, * he did not desire
or intend that the offspring of his
The writer was born of this second marriage the year following, namely on the 15th of September, 1824.
second wife should participate, to the slightest extent, in the property of the first. According to his strict
of honour, his elder was equitably entitled to his mother's estate, and it was accordingly transferred to him, at his coming of age.
He took this course for the further reason that it showed certified—his confidence in the prudence, good sense and mature judgment of a son, of whom he had so much reason to be proud. The sagacity of his in this matter
apparent in after times. It had the happiest effect, among other things, of preventing any envy or jealousy between the
of his first marriage and the children of the second. William Peyton always felt and acted towards his half brothers and sisters with the affectionate solicitude of a parent. During the thirty-odd years of the writer's intercourse with him, down, in fact, to the period of his death, he never spoke an unkind word, or was guilty of a single action unworthy of the fraternal relations existing between them. On the contrary he was always anxious to promote the success and prosperity of his sisters and brothers, but more especially of the author, in his every plan and project ; was, in a word, everything that a brother could or should be. Well may my hand tremble, and my eyes grow dim, as the memory of the past rises up out of the grave.
Turning back to the period when I first remember him, now after the lapse of forty years, His every look,
Is only prized when gone.
The past stirs up again the churchyard of memory,
, and I see him as I saw him when a lad of ten. I loved him as a boy can love ; and boys love with a devotion, a truth, a purity which few preserve in youth and manhood. My affection for him, however, was always the same. Time, business contact with the cold and selfish world did not impair or lessen it. But why dwell upon my grief at his loss ? a grief heightened, if possible, in my case, since the blow was received when
my home had become strange to me, and a strange land my home. The heart only knows its own bitter
Suffice it to say, that in those days he completely fulfilled my boyish notions of the beau ideal.
From that period, I follow our intercourse down to his death, without recalling a single instance in which his anxious care, affectionate kindness failed. recollections of him, indeed, are associated with his almost parental solicitude on my behalf. It cannot be surprising, then, that I feel warmly concerning him, that I cherish his memory, that I have spoken of him and must still do so in high-in what some might consider extravagant-terms. Far be it from me, however, to indulge in idle praise. Elsewhere I have remarked that such praise is weak as unjust, reflecting credit neither
upon the eulogist nor the person commended. Nor does his fame require it. In his case the simple truth is more eloquent than the highest-wrought praise. Born with a love of the good, the pure, and the true, a lovelier character never existed. If I may be permitted, after having already said so much on this subject, to refer to it again, it would be to say that if such a
multiform and mixed thing as the human character can be described by a single word, his might very nearly be concentrated into that one word—magnamity. His genius allied itself to deep thoughts, great studies and objects. His intellect was solid, vigorous and comprehensive ; taking in the whole range of knowledge, but was particularly devoted to those branches which require industry, sustained attention and the power of abstract thought. He was learned in the languages, thoroughly versed in the law, an adept in mathematics and the natural sciences. But, if his varied abilities elicited admiration his virtues were greater. Truth and honour were the two poles within which his whole actions revolved. He was capable only of the loftiest conceptions, of the noblest sentiments. Everything little, false, and corrupt, was spurned by him as the dust beneath his feet. In a crooked path he could not walk : in a foul atmosphere he could not breathe.
Some years since, I met the distinguished Dr. J. Marion Sims, of New York, at a private party in Paris. He had taken refuge there during the civil war in America, and, by his professional abilities, was not only making a support, but extending his fame.* In the course of the evening, our conversation turned upon the subject of the civil strife in the United States, which was then at its height, and to Colonel Peyton's actual detention under surveillance, his quasi imprisonment for some months after its commencement in New York. A gentleman present, one of my brother's old friends,
He was Consulting Physician to the Empress Eugenie, and Physician in Ordinary to the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton.