Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> An Oration on the Life, Character, and Services of John Caldwell Calhoun, Delivered on the 21st November 1850, in Charleston, S.C., at the Request of the City Council >> Page 234

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Page 234

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 234
opposed the Constitution of the Union because it
placed the power of laying taxes in the hands of those
who did not pay them. Amid such men and such
scenes, there was little opportunity for what is coin-
monly called education for the young Calhoun. But
it may be doubted whether, having acquired the use
of letters and figures, and been thus furnished with
the two great keys of knowledge, there could have
been a much better training for the future Statesman.
Pericles and Alexander were, perhaps, taught but lit-
tle more by Anaxagoras and Aristotle, than Calhoun
learned from his few books, from nature and such
men. In this School he learned to think, which is a
vast achievement. And he was furnished with high
and noble themes for thought, by those whose partial
knowledge of facts led them. to discuss chiefly essen-
tial principles, to unfold fundamental truths, and to
build on them those lofty theories to which the exi-
gencies of the times gave birth. He was thus taught,
not only the sum and substance of elementary educa-
tion, but was imbued with that practical philosophy,
according to which human affairs are in the main con-
ducted. It is true that thousands have received the
same lessons and profited nothing. But we know that
seed sown by the wayside and among stones and
thorns, is gathered by the birds or is withered or
choked up ; and it is only when it falls on good
ground that it springs up and produces fifty and a
hundred fold. It is idle to deny the natural diversity
of human intellects. It was due, after all, to the rich
soil of Calhoun's mind that these noble seeds took
root, and bore abundantly such precious fruits.
It was not until he had passed his eighteenth year