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[188] neglectful of his profession, was diligent in its practice, and the bench and bar of Winchester and surrounding circuits then, even more than now, were distinguished for eminent lawyers, such as Henry St. George Tucker, Alfred H. Powell and John R. Cooke, and a younger tier of professional devotees, such as the two Marshalls, the Conrads and Moses Hunter, the best wit of them all. Mr. Mason took a high rank among them at the bar, but always looked to politics for his field of distinction; yet he was no demagogue, and spurned the ad captandum of the vulgar electioneerer. His forte was good taste; and he had the keenest relish for the aesthetical. The word ‘proper’ with him embraced not only what was befitting, in good phase and seeming, but what was just, manly and right in itself. His education partook of the French school, and it modified his English temperament, American habits and Virginian abandon into a peculiar form. It made him self-possessed in his manner, and no scion of chivalry was ever more manly; and yet there was inexplicably mixed in him qualities confused in the composition, which made him seem to strangers what he was not—somewhat haughty in his carriage. There was a geniality mixed with a hauteur uncongenial; a hearty laugh contrasted with the sternest frown; a brusqueness with a reticent and commanding dignity; a John Bull bluffness with a French-like air of finished politeness; a Virginian old plantation way with marked attention to niceties; a jealous regard for conventional forms, and yet he would violate them imperiously. His integrity was sterling—exact to truth; his firmness was rock-like; his sense of honor was of the highest tone, and his every word and action was guided by a discretion always sound and always on guard. In the family, both of his father and his own home at Winchester, he was the model of husband, father, son and brother; among his friends and associates he was supreme in their confidence, and he was among the few men known ever to have magnified by the nearer approach to him; he was greater near to him than he appeared to be at a distance, because he preferred the intrinsic and real to any looming of the mirage of greatness, and he was far higher in his moral than in his mental faculties and powers. A man thus stamped with the seal of nobleness could not fail to attract the homage of those around him, or to be afforded the opportunities for the aspirations he indulged. Honest, he was trusted; discreet, he was relied on to ‘do justice and judgment;’ and brave, all felt assured that he could make the ‘sacrifice’ when called on. He did nobly make it at the last extremity, without a murmur and without soiling his

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Henry St. George Tucker (1)
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