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ARCHER LANGHORNE PAYNE.
At each recurring gathering of this brotherhood of Virginia lawyers, the joy of hand-shake and of sight of “the old familiar faces” is tinged with an inevitable hue of sadness, caused by the thought of those comrades who, since the last meeting, have fallen out of the ranks of the Bar and out of the dust and struggle of life.
It is right and proper that we should give some permanent expression of our regard for them and of our regret that they are no more with us. It is my purpose to perform, as briefly and sincerely as possible, this service to one of my friends, who was for many years a faithful member of this Association.
Archer Langhorne Payne was the eldest son of Captain John Meem Payne and Elizabeth Allen (Langhorne) Payne, and was born on September 2+, 1864, at “Walnut Grove,” Montgomery county, Va., the home of his maternal grandfather, John Archer Langhorne. After the war his parents resided at "Rosalba," a farm in Campbell county, near Lynchburg, where young Payne grew up.
Ile graduated in the High School at Lynchburg, in 1881. After this he taught school for one session, and then he took the first real steps in the direction of the profession, upon which he had set his heart and mind. He obtained a position in the clerk's office of the Corporation Court of Lynchburg, wherein he remained for five years, but finding time during the last two years of that fine preliminary training school for a lawyer to attend two of the sessions of the Summer Law School of the University of Virginia. He then left the clerk's office at Lynchburg and came to Roanoke to practice law.
At first he formed a partnership with that brilliant and gifted young lawyer, Henry Gibson, whose sudden and untimely death soon put an end to this partnership so filled with promise.
After this he formed a partnership with W. 0. Hardaway, and this association, like the other, was in a few years dissolved by the long illness and subsequent death of his partner. After that, Payne continued to practice law alone in Roanoke, until the first day of October, 1900, when he went to the city of New York to live and practice his profession. Reports came from him from time to time, indicating that he was doing well and his prospects were bright, but suddenly in the winter of 1900, the fell destroyer, consumption, seized upon him and he was brought home in the spring of 1901, a man doomed to die in the noonday of his manhood.
With noble patience, with manly courage, he bore his last illness and faced oncoming death, until with a mind clear, a heart pure and a conscience clean of offense, he rendered up his spirit on the 16th of September, 1901.
This is the brief outline of his life. It was filled with activity and a steady and unflagging performance of the duties of his profession. To all business assigned him, he gave a minute and careful attention that is rare. His integrity was recognized by every member of the Bar. By hard work and unaided energy and perseverance, he won his way up from the position of deputy clerk to that of attorney-at-law, engaged in important cases; and many years before his death, had crossed the Rubicon of a young lawyer's career and had argued, and argued successfully, cases of importance in the Court of Appeals. What he would have become, as a lawyer, death forbids us to know; but we know he was faithful and accurate, attentive and studious, and more concerned for his clients' interests than for his own, and that he had measured spears successfully with some of the strongest members of the Bar.
The writer does not believe, altogether, in the phrase born. perhaps, of a noble feeling, but yet based to some extent, too, on a sickly sentimentality
"De mortuis nil nisi bonum."
Let us rather speak the truth, if it be necessary, than to give lying epitaplıs of the dead. But, when I come to consider the
moral character of the man of whom I write, I can speak the words of truth and soberness, without reserve, and say of him, he was every inch a gentleman, in the truest and highest sense of that word. He was courteous, polite and gentle in his manners to all, but when duty or honor called, capable of a noble and courageous sternness.
I forbear to speak of him as a friend faithful and true. This would be too personal. Let this brief sketch of him pass as the record of one who knew him intimately for many years, and who can say of him, with all truth, he was one worthy to be trusted and loved, in every relation of life.
WM. GORDON ROBERTSON.