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His two main speeches were, first, one of great vigor, in the Senate, in February, 1814, on the Embargo, just before that policy was abandoned. The other was later, in December, 1815, shortly before the peace, on Mr. Giles's Conscription Bill, in which he discussed the subject of the enlistment of minors; and the clause authorizing such enlistment was struck out upon his motion.
He was afterwards for several years a member of the New Hampshire Legislature, and assisted in revising the code of that State. He paid much attention to the subject of the judicature, and performed his services fully to the satisfaction of the State; and the result of his labors was warmly commended. In 1824 he was again a candidate for the Senate of the United States. The election was to be made by the concurrent vote of the two branches of the Legislature. In the popular branch he was chosen by a strong vote. The Senate, however, non-concurred; by which means the election was lost, - a loss to the country, not to him, - by force of circumstances and agencies not now or ever fit to be recalled or remembered.
He continued to reside for many years in Portsmouth. His residence in that ancient town was a happy one. He was happy in his family and in the society of the town, surrounded by agreeable neighbors, respected by the bar and the court, and standing at the head of his profession. He had a great love of conversation. He took pleasure in hearing others talk, and gave an additional charm by the freshness, agreeableness, and originality of his own observations. His warm hospitality left him never alone, and his usefulness was felt as much within the walls of the homes, as of the tribunals, of Portsmouth. There are yet many in that town who love him and his; many who witnessed as children, and recollect, the enthusiasm with which he was greeted by their fathers and mothers; and all in New Hampshire old enough to remember him will feel what we feel here on this occasion.
Led at last partly by the desire of exerting his abilities in a larger sphere of usefulness, and partly by the fact of the residence here of beloved domestic connections, he came to this city, and entered upon the performance of his professional duties in 1832. Of the manner in which he discharged those duties, this court is the most competent judge. You, Mr. Chief Justice,
and the venerable associate who usually occupies a place at your right,* have been witnesses of the whole. You know the fidelity with which he observed his duty to the court, as well as his duty to his clients. In learning, assiduity, respect for the bench, uprightness, and integrity, he stood as an example to the bar. You know the general probity and talent with which he performed, for so many years, the duty of a counsellor of this court.
I should hardly trust myself to make any analysis of Mr. Mason's mind. I may be a partial judge. But I may speak of what I myself admire and venerate. The characteristics of Mr. Mason's mind, as I think, were real greatness, strength, and sagacity. He was great through strong sense and sound judg. ment, great by comprehensive views of things, great by high and elevated purposes. Perhaps sometimes he was too cautious and refined, and his distinctions became too minute; but his discrimination arose from a force of intellect, and quick-seeing, far-reaching sagacity, everywhere discerning his object and pursuing it steadily. Whether it was popular or professional, he grasped a point and held it with a strong hand. He was sarcastic sometimes, but not frequently; not frothy or petulant, but cool and vitriolic. Unfortunate for him on whom his sarcasm fell!
His conversation was as remarkable as his efforts at the bar. It was original, fresh, and suggestive; never dull or indifferent. He never talked when he had nothing to say. He was particularly agreeable, edifying, and instructive to all about him; and this was the charm of the social intercourse in which he was connected
As a professional man, Mr. Mason's great ability lay in the department of the common law. In this part of jurisprudence
, he was profoundly learned. He had drunk copiously from its deepest springs; and he had studied with diligence and success the departures from the English common law which had taken place in this country, either necessarily, from difference of condition, or positively, by force of our own statutes. dresses, both to courts and juries, he affected to despise all eloquence, and certainly disdained all ornament; but his efforts, whether addressed to one tribunal or the other, were marked by
In his ad
* Mr. Justice Wilde.
a degree of clearness, directness, and force not easy to be equalled. There were no courts of equity, as a separate and distinct jurisdiction, in New Hampshire, during his residence in that State. Yet the equity treatises and equity reports were all in his library, not "wisely ranged for show," but for constant and daily consultation; because he saw that the common law itself was growing every day more and more liberal; that equity principles were constantly forcing themselves into its administration and within its rules; that the subjects of litigation in the courts were constantly becoming, more and nore, such as escaped from the technicalities and the trammels of the common law, and offered themselves for discussion and decision on the broader principles of general jurisprudence. Mr. Mason, like other accomplished lawyers, and more than most, admired the searching scrutiny and the high morality of a court of equity; and felt the instruction and edification resulting from the perusal of the judgments of Lord Hardwicke, Lord Eldon, and Sir William Grant, as well as of those of great names in our own country, not now among the living.
Among his early associates in New Hampshire, there were many distinguished men. Of those now dead were Mr. West, Mr. Gordon, Edward St. Loe Livermore, Peleg Sprague, William K. Atkinson, George Sullivan, Thomas W. Thompson, and Amos Kent; the last of these having been always a particular personal friend. All of these gentlemen in their day held high and respectable stations, and were eminent as lawyers of probity and character.
Another contemporary and friend of Mr. Mason was Mr. Timothy Bigelow, a lawyer of reputation, a man of probity and honor, attractive by his conversation, and highly agreeable in his social intercourse. Mr. Bigelow, we all know, was of this State, in which he filled high offices with great credit; but, as a counsellor and advocate, he was constant in his attendance on the New Hampshire courts. Having known Mr. Bigelow from my early youth, I have pleasure in recalling the mutual regard and friendship which I know to have subsisted between him and the subject of these remarks. I ought not to omit Mr. Wilson and Mr. Betton, in mentioning Mr. Mason's contemporaries at the bar. They were near his own age, and both well known as lawyers and public men.
Mr. Mason, while yet in New Hampshire, found himself en. gaged in causes in which that illustrious man, Samuel Dexter, also appeared. The late Mr. Justice Story was still more frequently at the bar of that State; and, at a period somewhat earlier, your great and distinguished predecessor, Chief Justice Parsons, occasionally presented himself before the courts at Portsmouth or Exeter, and he is known to have entertained a very high regard, personal and professional, as well for Mr. Ma. son as for the late Chief Justice Smith.
Among those still living, with whom Mr. Mason was on terms of intimacy, and with whom he associated at the bar, were Messrs. Plumer, Arthur Livermore, Samuel Bell, and Charles H. Atherton. If these respected men could be here to-day, every one of them would unite with us in our tribute of love and ven. eration to his memory.
But, Sir, political eminence and professional fame fade away and die with all things earthly. Nothing of character is really permanent but virtue and personal worth. These remain. Whatever of excellence is wrought into the soul itself belongs to both worlds. Real goodness does not attach itself merely to this life; it points to another world. Political or professional reputation cannot last for ever; but a conscience void of offence before God and man is an inheritance for eternity. Religion, therefore, is a necessary and indispensable element in any great human character. There is no living without it. Religion is the tie that connects man with his Creator, and holds him to his throne. If that tie be all sundered, all broken, he floats away, a worthless atom in the universe; its proper attractions all gone, its destiny thwarted, and its whole future nothing but darkness, desolation, and death. A man with no sense of religious duty is he whom the Scriptures describe, in such terse but terrific language, as living “without God in the world.” Such a man is out of his proper being, out of the circle of all his duties, out of the circle of all his happiness, and away, far, far away, from the purposes of his creation.
A mind like Mr. Mason's, active, thoughtful, penetrating, sedate, could not but meditate deeply on the condition of man below, and feel its responsibilities. He could not look on this mighty system,
“ This universal frame, thus wondrous fair,”
without feeling that it was created and upheld by an Intelligence, to which all other intelligences must be responsible. I am bound to say, that in the course of my life I never met with an individual, in any profession or condition of life, who always spoke, and always thought, with such awful reverence of the power and presence of God. No irreverence, no lightness, even no too familiar allusion to God and his attributes, ever escaped his lips. The very notion of a Supreme Being was, with him, made up of awe and solemnity. It filled the whole of his great mind with the strongest emotions. A man like him, with all his proper sentiments and sensibilities alive in him, must, in this state of existence, have something to believe and something to hope for; or else, as life is advancing to its close and parting, all is heart-sinking and oppression. Depend upon it, whatever may be the mind of an old man, old age is only really happy, when, on feeling the enjoyments of this world pass away, it begins to lay a stronger hold on those of another.
Mr. Mason's religious sentiments and feelings were the crowning glories of his character. One, with the strongest motives to love and venerate him, and the best means of knowledge, says :
“So far as my memory extends, he always showed a deep conviction of the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, of the institutions of Christianity, and of the importance of personal religion. Soon after his residence in Boston, he entered the communion of the Church, and has continued since regularly to receive the Lord's Supper. From that time, he also habitually maintained domestic worship, morning and evening.
The death of two of his sons produced a deep impression upon his mind, and directed it in an increased degree to religious subjects.
“ Though he was always reserved in the expression of religious feeling, still it has been very apparent, for several years, that his thoughts dwelt much upon his practical religious duties, and especially upon preparation for another world. Within three or four years, he frequently led the conversation to such subjects; and during the year past, immediate preparation for his departure has been obviously the constant subject of his attention. His expressions in regard to it were deeply humble; and, indeed, the very humble manner in which he always spoke of himself was most marked.
“I have observed, of late years, an increasing tenderness in his feelings and manner, and a desire to impress his family with the conviction