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 287

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Page 287

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 287
Union ; and the latest offering of his life was laid upon
that altar at which he had so long worshipped. It is
scarcely to be regretted that he did not specify them,
for nothing is more certain than that no amendments
to the Constitution can ever be carried that will give
the South the express power of self-protection. They
would not receive a single vote from that Northern
majority, which will ere long be large enough to amend
the Constitution without the South, if it shall choose
to regard forms in perpetrating its oppressions. But
such amendments, if passed, would not avail the South,
for her action under them would soon be denounced as
revolutionary, as the clearly Constitutional right of
Secession is now denounced.
In fact, neither this Union nor any Union or Gov-
ernment can exist long by virtue of mere paper stipu-
lations. " Written Constitutions," said Anacharsis to
Solon, " are but spiders' webs, which hold only the poor
and weak, while the rich and powerful easily break
through." Solon thought otherwise, but lived to see
the Government he established completely overthrown.
Lycurgus, more wise, forbade written laws. His prin-
ciples were durably impressed, by training from child-
hood, on the minds and manners of his people, and
interwoven with the whole social fabric. And they
governed the Spartans for six centuries or more. In
modern France no enacted Constitution has survived
five years ; while the Constitution of England, resting
on traditions and occasional Acts and Charters, appears
to bid defiance to time and progress. Those Govern-
ments on]y can endure which spring naturally from
the social system, and are habitually sustained by it.
And written artificial Constitutions are, indeed, but