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 293

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Page 293

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 293
looked with ineffable disgust on that mere grouping of
associated ideas which so generally passes for reason-
ing. It was in conformity with these great intellectual
endowments that he created all his speeches and State
papers. It was commonly said of his productions that
they were characterized by extraordinary conden-
sation. But Mr. Calhoun was often careless in his
diction, and habitually so in the construction of his
sentences. He sought only the words that most
clearly expressed his meaning, and left their arrange-
ment apparently to chance. What he did do was to
go straight to the bottom of his subject, following the
slender plummet line of truth until he reached it.
Then he built up in a manner equally direct, discard-
ing all extraneous materials ; and erected a structure,
simple, uniform and consistent, decorated with no
ornament for the sake of ornament, and occupying no
more space than was necessary for the purposes in
view.
The faculty of Invention which is the highest
characteristic of genius is the necessary result of
rapid and correct analysis and synthesis. To the
possession of these powers, then, is also due the
aknowledged originality of Mr. Calhoun, which gave
such a peculiar charm to every one of his productions,
as led the public invariably to pronounce his latest to
be the best. The common mind never looks beneath
the surface, and draws its conclusions from the facts
and arguments that float around it. Even rather
uncommon minds seldom penetrate very deep or very
quickly. From whatever subject, therefore, upon
which such extraordinary powers of analysis and
generalization were brought to bear, they would ne-
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