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 268

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Page 268

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 268
ever shifting, and the wise and patriotic Statesman
must necessarily vary his own course to conform to,
or oppose every altered state of circumstances. New
truths are daily developed, not only in the scientific
world, but in the workings of political systems, and
especially in our own. Those only who are ignorant
of these discoveries, can remain without change in their
opinions ; and to change opinions, and not avow and
act upon them, is to be basely and dangerously false.
Cicero, when accused of inconsistency in having sided
with almost every party to which the convulsions of his
times had given birth, fully admitted the fact that he
had done so, but nobly vindicated himself by showing,
that, in every change, he had in view one consistent
object the good of Rome. Thus Cato, after years of
warm hostility to Pompey, advised his, countrymen to
put all power in his hands. Thus Aristides volunteered
to serve under Themistocles ; thus Solon became the
counsellor of Pisistratus, who had overthrown his Con-
stitution. Mr. Calhoun himself, as long ago as his speech
on the repeal of the Embargo, had very properly de-
fined inconsistency to be " a change of conduct without
a change of circumstances to j ustify it." Tried by this
standard, he was never liable to any imputation of,
inconsistency. He never moved, in any direction, with-
out giving such cogent reasons for it, as must satisfy
every impartial mind, if not of the propriety, at least
of the reality of his convictions. Influenced by the
highest and most patriotic considerations, and scorning
the false and vulgar cry of inconsistency, he did not
hesitate a moment in magnanimously extending the
thorough and effective support of his powerful intellect,
in the hour of their greatest need, to the man who had