© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill digital library,
Documenting the American
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the composition. Originals are in the University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
DocSouth staff created a 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF file for each image. The TIFF images were then saved as JPEG images at 100 dpi for web access.
Page images can be viewed and compared in parallel with the text.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
Hall's composition describes an old-field school in Iredell County, NC, and the pranks students played on their schoolmaster, who got even by stealing his pupils' clothes while they were swimming.
It was here that I had the honour, at the age of about thirteen, to
complete my old-field prep education, before entering the
cipher. The Preceptor was but
little farther advanced in years than a number of this
schollar pupils, and I may safely add,
equally as little in sense.
The peculiarity of our situation, naturally held out temptations to
idleness; temptations too, that were by no means repulsive to our natural
inclinations. His majesty cautioned us from the start against going in the
dangerous, for we might get drowned. Nevertheless he was
by no means scrupulous; he would very frequently indulge us in a swim; himself
occasionally becoming one of the party. This course continued for a time, but
his subjects grew tired of restraint; frequent opportunities were seazed when,
unknown to his majesty; and unluckily, according to his forebodings, one
hapless youth plunged into a hole that was quite over his head, and being
unable to swim a yard, quenched his thirst rather too liberally before reaching
the bank. A different system was immediately adopted, and the decree was
"that no scholar on any pretence whatever be permited to go in the creek
before school, time of books, at play time, or after dismission" The sad
recollection of our friends misfortune induced us for a time to submit to the
law. But nature will survive, and its appetites must be indulged. We soon
forgot the solemn scene, and not without the utmost precautions, again
commenced our career of swimming. It were an endless task to attempt an
enumeration of all the various schemes resorted too, to blind his honour and
avoid detection. Suffice it to say we would sometimes ask permission to go
squirrel hunting, sometimes to visit a near neighbour, and very frequently when
engaged in play, would become quite wild, and run beyond all reasonable bounds.
But by the way we always took care to run in considerable numbers, and however
different might be our directions at the start, we would generally meet at the
same spot in the end. But notwithstanding all our precautions, his majesty
began to grow suspicious; and what served to increase his suspicion was, he saw
one of the manner in which he surveyed my head,
and his suspicious glance
well severely. Let me ever catch you
cuting such capers and I will skin you Sir. This touched me sensibly, and made
me feel indefinitely small. I dreaded his displeasure, and for a time was for
changing my course. He thought by skinning me at least to scare the rest. But
there was where he was most prodigiously mistaken. They laughed at his
cowardice and pusillanimity, and from that time on, grew five fold worse. And
he was not a little astonished, the first high water, on steping down the
creek, not only to spy the very same individuals in the very act of swimming,
but each pushing before him the water-mealons which he had just stolen from the
field beyond. Luckily I did not happen to be one of the company for him to skin
and tan. His only resort now was to return, pick up their slates, and write,
every do pleasere."5
Convinced of his imbecility, and to display our independance and manhood, we
all combined together and resolved vigorous
The alarm was given and no time was to be
lost. Every stictch was gone in an instant. Each sprang to the bank with
all possible speed. My three companions made for the clothes, and I struck
across to the opposite side. My object was to intercept if possible his passage
to the scho reached
they in the heat of the chaise, they contrived to make a
tremendous crackling in crossing
One old lady, that had no doubt been taking some
tea, I recollect, distinguished herself manfully on
the occasion. Mounted on a nag that no thunder could
scare (I mean a jack),8
herself as ugly as the beast she rode, forgetting her companions, and the
delicacy of her sex, was carried away with the delights of the scene. Clapping
her hands with all he entirely
blindfolded, half balanced before and behind, followed by the sound as fast as
he could, over logs and rocks, keeping up the thrill music as he went. I expect
they had a merrier ride to town, than ever
2. Before public schools were established, communities built schools in "old fields," lands that had been abandoned or eroded and depleted through overfarming. The course of study usually included reading, writing, and arithmetic, though occasionally some advanced studies also were taught.
4. Possibly the classical preparatory school conducted by
at by writing t on top of
s. He also crossed out pleasere, evidently intending to revise the phrase "as
you please" to "at your pleasure."
k on top of
7. "wedners": "weddingers" or members of a wedding party.
8. "a jack": a jackass.