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 210

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 210

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 210
to subside, is known to none ; but can be best conjec-
tured, not by those who transmit facts, nor even those
who govern trade and finance, but by those who have
made themselves most familiar with the true state of
human progress, and are accustomed to read the future
in the past.
I have said that it is scarcely possible that any
single individual can master all the past and thereby
make himself completely conversant with all the pres-
ent. Indeed it is impossible. Much that is valuable
in history is lost to us forever buried by the inscru-
table dispensations of Providence in the impenetrable
mist of time. The eager inquirers of the day have
rescued something from oblivion enough to excite the
keenest curiosity, but scarcely any thing to satisfy it.
The arch hitherto supposed to be a modern invention,
has been recently exhumed from the mounds of Nim-
rod, which were once the palaces of the Assyrian
Monarchs where structures, which for unnumbered
centuries have disappeared beneath their own dust,
are found to have been reared on others, that had met
the same fate before them. And hopes are entertained
that if the arrow-headed characters still found on slabs,
amid these ruins, can ever be deciphered, we shall re-
cover glimpses of a thousand years, which have been
hardly reckoned in chronology ; and may learn some-
thing certain of that mighty Empire, which once over-
shadowed, according to tradition, all the East, and
whose civilization we have now discovered to have
been far higher than had ever been believed. The
new world, as well as the old, has its mysteries too.
We have as yet no clue to the builders of Palenque,
nor to the hands that raised the extensive and well