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 224

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Page 224

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 224
away his life in a trivial experiment. Yet all ' these
men were regarded by most of their contemporaries
as visionaries, as enthusiasts and dreamers ; and so
they would doubtless be regarded now, if they be-
longed to our era. What is generally meant by a
practical man in these days perhaps it was so in all
days is a successful man. But life is short ; and truth
and virtue bear fruits so slowly, that great immediate
results are rarely achieved without a violation of their
precepts. Intrigue, corruption, and force are the usual
means by which practical men on a large scale advance
themselves at the expense of others, and too often
athwart the line of progress. The practical man of
the more common and vulgar stamp the genuine util-
itarian—succeeds by dint of energetic selfishness. Dis-
trustful, unfeeling and narrow, he cautiously and vig-
orously pursues his own ends, regardless of those of
the rest of the world. He risks nothing in a cause
not directly his own. While others less prudent, or
more generous and brave, seek to make discoveries, to
introduce improvements, and carry on the great war-
fare against ignorance, and prejudice, and vice he but
follows the camps ; and, when a battle is fought, keeps
aloof from the danger, and plunders the field. A
thousand generations of such men would leave the
world exactly where they found it.
But the accumulation of wealth, it is thought, is
unquestionable progress, and a source of real power
as well as happiness to individuals and nations. Of
mere riches these things are by no means true. The
treasures of India have always been proverbial, yet
the civilization of India has been stationary from the
dawn of history. She has again and again. fallen a