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 217

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Page 217

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 217
practice of government, since his time. Even the
compromise between wealth and population, so lately
and so happily introduced into the Constitution of this
State, and never, I believe, adopted any where before,
was suggested and discussed by him.
In poetry, ancient genius exhausted every type of
the ideal. It is impossible that Homer ever can be
equalled, or that Horace can ever be surpassed. The
Iliad,— following Orpheus —perhaps, mounting higher
fixed the religion, and in a great measure formed
the manners of the Greeks, and of the Romans, after
them ; and its influence is felt to this day. Demos-
thenes and Cicero are still the unrivalled masters of
eloquence, whom we strive in vain to imitate. No
second Venus or Apollo has ever been produced, and
these yet stand the admiration and the models of the
world of art. Few ambitious piles have been reared
in modern times, that have not copied from the Pan-
theon or the Parthenon. Even our own State House,
though so unlike it in materials and exterior orna-
ments, exhibits the precise dimensions of the latter.
It has been well and truly said, and generally
admitted, that history is but an illustration of philoso-
phy. Action is, in the main, the result of thought ;
and, to comprehend it thoroughly, we must penetrate
the minds of men, and analyse their workings. To
trace and understand our civilization, then, we must
not only have the knowledge of the events of time,
and of deeds, institutions, and experiments of man-
kind, and their ideal conceptions in poetry, and art,
and oratory but we must study the history of
Thought. Metaphysical and moral philosophy have
in all enlightened ages embodied the most important