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 295

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Page 295

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 295
he did not throw new light, or at least dissipate some
of the darkness that might surround them. But he
exhibited no sparkling wit, no keen retort, none of that
liveliness of fancy which so delightfully season and refine
familiar conversation. Nor was he anything of a racon-
teur. All these things he occasionally enjoyed with
much zest, but rarely attempted them himself. The
conversation in which he really shone was but a modi-
fied species of Senatorial debate. And, in that, no one
approached to an equality with him. In the Senate,
where time is given for preparation, and the conflict of
intellect is conducted, for the most part, like a can-
nonade, by heavy discharges at considerable intervals,
his opponents might make a show of vigorous combat
with him. But, in the close encounter of informal
discussion, there was no one who could stand before
him. The astonishing rapidity of his intellectual
operations enabled him to anticipate every proposition
before it was half stated, to resolve it into all its parts,
and not only to answer his opponent without an instant's
hesitation, but to take up his whole train of argument,
run through it in advance of him, and so turn all his
points as to convince, or at least, to silence him. At
these times there was a fascination about him 'which
none could resist. It was not merely his warmth,
his earnestness, his deep sincerity that charmed,
but his reasoning commencing so far back, and dis-
entangling the first elements, the facts and principles
moved forward with such simplicity and ease, such
clearness and connection, with a sweep so "'graceful,
yet so broad and powerful, that you felt as though you
were listening rather to a narrative than to an argu-
ment. There were rarely any tropes or figures, or