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 216

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Page 216

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 216
recently remarked that ancient history affords political
lessons more applicable to our times, than any part of
modern history previous to the eighteenth century.
These observations are profoundly true. So long as
republics exist, the \ tragic story of the fall of Athens,
as recited by the vigorous and eloquent Thucydides,
will be looked to as the most pathetic and instructive
example of the folly and insanity of faction ; of the
evils of ill regu 1 aced ambition ; of the inevitable fate
of every people who put their trust in demagogues.
So long as empires shall survive, mankind may learn
from Tacitus ; may see with their own eyes, on his
unfading canvass, the servility, the profligacy, the
amazing treachery and appalling wickedness which
surround despotic thrones, and crush the intellect and
energy of the bravest and the best. So. long as con-
spiracies shall flourish, the record of the keen and
scrutinizing Sallust will expose their arts and crimes,
and warn them of their end. So long as any govern-
ment whatever shall be maintained, we must look to
Aristotle for the principles on which to erect it, and
the maxims by which it is to be conducted. That
great philosopher, having examined and analyzed the
constitutions of more than a hundred and fifty com-
monwealths, drew, from this treasury of experiments,
results which enabled him to erect politics into a
science. From his immortal work the whole host of
modern writers on government, from Macchiavelli to
Paley and those of the present day, have borrowed
largely ; and no one can pretend to real statesman-
ship who have not mastered it. The student of Aris-
totle will be surprised to find how few fundamental
improvements have been effected in the science and