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 235

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Page 235

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 235
that he seriously embarked in the pursuit of Scholas-
tic learning ; and the event proved as possibly it
would in most cases that no time had been really
lost. Perhaps it seldom happens that the bud of the
mind is sufficiently matured before this age, to expand
naturally and absorb with benefit the direct rays of
knowledge, so bright, so piercing and so stimulating.
The tender petals eagerly opened at too early a pe-
riod, often wither and die under the overpowering
light. At eighteen years of age Mr. Calhoun went to
the Academy; at twenty to College ; at twenty-two
he graduated at Yale ; at twenty-five he was admitted
to the Bar ; at twenty-six he was elected to the Legis-
lature ; at twenty-eight to Congress. Thus, though
apparently starting late, he nevertheless arrived at
the goal far in advance of most of those who reach it.
But when he went to the Academy he did not dream
over books, any more than he did afterwards over the
affairs of life. He had learned already what many
never learn to think ; and to think closely—to the
purpose searching for the principle. Having ac-
quired this mighty power for it is a power, and the
greatest of all when he did start in his career, he
strode onward like a conqueror. Difficulties were
mere exercises. Valleys rose in his path and moun-
tains sunk down to a level. First at School ; first at
College ; he rose at once to the front rank at the Bar
and in the Legislature ; and was assigned a most dis-
tinguished position the moment he took his seat in
Congress. His course was a stream of light. Alen
of all classes recognized its brilliancy, and hailed him,
not as a meteor, but as a new star risen in the heavens,
which had floated without effort into its appointed