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 294

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Page 294

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 294
cessarily extract ideas lying far beyond the range of
others, and so new and startling as to overwhelm ordi-
nary intellects and obliterate their confused remem-
brances of past productions, in which he had carried
them delighted through equally unaccustomed regions.
Hence, also, arose and was received the charge,
worn thread-bare by reiteration, that Mr. Calhoun's
mind was too metaphysical and speculative for con-
ducting the affairs of Government. A charge which,
if it was not absurd in itself, was signally refuted by
his conduct of the War, by his organization of the
War Department, by his negociations as Secretary of
State, by his frequent, minute, and accurate, and
powerful elucidations of all the financial, commercial,
manufacturing and agricultural operations of the coun-
try—in short, by the whole course of his labour, from
the commencement to the close of his career. It
was the remarkable characteristic of the Greek mind,
now too little appreciated, to be at once practical .and
speculative, as in fact it ever has been of all really
great minds. In the palmiest days of Greece her
Philosophers were Statesmen, her Poets and Historians
were Warriors. The Astronomer who first predicted
an eclipse made a fortune by dealing in olives. To a
successful Usurper we owe the collection of the scat-
tered songs of Homer. The mere practitioner is,
necessarily, a quack in medicine, a pettifogger in law,
and a charlatan in politics.
The colloquial powers of Mr. Calhoun have been
highly lauded. hi this there is a mistake. Strictly
speaking he had no uncommon endowment of this
sort. It is true that he entered readily and easily into
any conversation, and there were few subjects on which