Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Two Letters on the Subject of Slavery in the United States, Addressed to Thomas Clarkson, Esq. >> Page 120

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Page 120

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 120
sal truths. I do not now remember any single moral
truth universally acknowledged. We have no assur-
ance that it is given to our finite understanding to com-
prehend abstract moral truth. Apart from Revela-
tion and the Inspired Writings, what ideas should. we
have even of God, Salvation and Immortality ? Let
the Heathen answer. Justice itself is impalpable as an
abstraction, and abstract liberty the merest phantasy
that ever amused the imagination. This world was
made for man, and man for the world as it is. We our-
selves, our relations with one another and with all
matter are real, not ideal. I might say that I am no
more in favor of slavery in the abstract, than I am of
poverty, disease, deformity, idiocy or any other in-
equality in the condition of the human family ; that I
love perfection, and think I should enjoy a Millennium
such as God has promised. But what would it amount
to ? A pledge that I would join you to set about erad-
icating those apparently inevitable evils of our nature,
in equalizing the condition of all mankind, consummat-
ing the perfection of our race, and introducing the
Millennium ? By no means. To effect these things, be-
longs exclusively to a Higher Power. And it would
be well for us to leave the Almighty to perfect His
own works and fulfil His own covenants ; especially,
as the history of the past shows how entirely futile all
human efforts have proved, when made for the purpose
of aiding Him in carrying out even his revealed de-
signs, and how invariably he has accomplished them
by unconscious instruments, and in the face of human
expectation. Nay more, that every attempt which has
been made by fallible man to extort from the world
obedience to his abstract" notions of right and wrong,