Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> An Oration Delivered Before the Two Societies of the South Carolina College, on the 4th of Dec., 1849 >> Page 199

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 199

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription AN ORATION
DELIVERED BEFORE THE .TWO SOCIETIES OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA COLLEGE ON THE FOURTH OF DECEMBER, 1849.
WE are accustomed to regard the age in which we
live not only as the most enlightened which the world
has known, but one of unprecedented progress. The
rapidity with which ideas and events disseminated by
the press, fly on the wings of steam and electricity
around the globe, leads us to suppose that the sum
total of human knowledge is far greater than it ever
has been ; and the discoveries in art and science, which
are continually announced, induce the belief that hu-
man improvement is advancing at a pace beyond all
former example. These two conclusions, so univer-
sally prevalent, are fast conducting us to others of
much higher import, and of much more doubtful
truth. " We," said Bentham, repeating an aphorism
of Lord Bacon, " we are the ancients," and the whole
school of Utilitarians by far the most numerous of
our day declare that there was little wisdom in the
past, and that nothing is venerable in antiquity. The
present then and the future, we are taught, are alone
worthy of our thoughts and cares.