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 220

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 220

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 220
what it has attained and what it may accomplish yet
must drink deep, and drink often, of the precious
waters of those virgin fountains which were unlocked
in Nature's first-known cycle. The solitary student,
who seeks knowledge for the love of knowledge, and
luxuriates in the rare felicity of a conscious expansion
of the mind and elevation of the soul, will wander
among them day and night, and make the converse of
his life with those mighty spirits who yet hover
around the Hill of liars, and linger in the deep shad-
ows of the Egerian Grove.
Our civilization is the civilization of Christianity.
And Christianity, alone, made all the difference between
the ancient and the modern mind and manners. The
questions of the deepest and most abiding interest to
man in every age have been Whence came he ? why
is he here ? whither is he going ? who is. the author
of creation ? and what is its design ? To these ques-
tions ancient philosophy could give no satisfactory
answer. And the great men, whose immortal ideas
and achievements have come down to us, disgusted
with the shallow mythology of the popular super-
stition, either wrought in ignorant and stern indiffer-
ence to an accountability beyond the grave, or devoted
their genius, in its prime of strength, to unavailing
efforts to solve those mysteries of Being, which God in
his providence still kept concealed. But when He
came who brought life and immortality to light ; the
real " Aoyo; " whom Socrates and Plato sought so ar-
dently to comprehend, all was changed : Not suddenly,
but gradually ; so gradually that we are yet in the
very midst of the change, and it requires incessant
study and consummate knowledge to know precisely