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 292

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Page 292

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 292
aloft, with balanced wing, into the highest heavens of
invention. He appreciated wit and humor, the. flights
of fancy and the keen shafts of sarcasm ; but he either
did not possess, or entirely failed to cultivate the
faculties which lead to distinction in these lines. He
admired and valued high-toned declamation oil appro-
priate occasions ; and sometimes, though rarely, at-
tempted it himself, and not without success. The force
of his imagination, his command of language, his no-
bility of sentiment, and his enthusiastic temperament
eminently qualified him for declamation of the highest
order, and his themes were as well adapted to it as
those of Demosthenes himself. But the audience to
which he commonly addressed himself could not hear
his voice or see his action, or decide his cause under
the spell of eloquence. It covered millions of square
miles, and reached far down the stream of time. And
his keen judgment and deep earnestness would not
often permit him to use weapons that could strike
effectively those only who were ,• near at hand. The
intellectual power of Mr. Calhoun was due mainly to
the facility and accuracy with which he resolved prop-
ositions into their elementary principles, and the
astonishing rapidity with which he deduced from these
principles all their just and necessary consequences.
The moment a sophism was presented to him he
pierced it through and through, and plunging into the
labyrinth, brought truth from the remote recesses
where she delights to dwell, and placed her, in her
native simplicity, before the eyes of men. It was in
these preeminent faculties that .Mr. Calhoun's mind
resembled the antique and particularly the genuine
Greek mind, which recoiled from plausibilities and