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Title: On the Day the Session Breaks, Composition of James J. Pettigrew for the Philanthropic Society, [1847]: Electronic Edition.
Author: Pettigrew, James Johnston, 1828-1863
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Scott West
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 22K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

No Copyright in US

The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-05-00, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: Pettigrew Family Papers (#592), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: On the Day the Session Breaks, Composition of James J. Pettigrew for the Philanthropic Society, [1847]
Author: James Johnston Pettigrew
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 592 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Student Life
Examples of Student Writing/Debating Society Writings
Travel and Entertainment/Celebrations and Holidays
Education/UNC Faculty, Staff, and Servants
Travel and Entertainment/Vacations
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, 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.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Pettigrew's composition describes animated campus scenes as students prepare to go home between the fall and spring sessions.
On the Day the Session Breaks, Composition of James J. Pettigrewlink opens in a new window for the Philanthropic Society, [1847]1
Pettigrew, James Johnston, 1828-1863

Page 1
Decidedly one of the most important scenes, enacted at College, is to be witnessed on the day the session breaks. The whole week till Thursday evening is occupied with in in exeminations. At twelve o'clock all are free, and if it were not beneath the dignity of Collegians, such a shout of joy would arise as would make the Campus ring and shake the old South [Building] to its very foundations As it is however, nought is heard but the hum of a hundred voices, engaged in preparing for departure, students handing over cash to servants, porter shouldering trunks, horses snorting, wheell a rouns ratling, carryalls [rumling], an all kinds of vehicles from the open wagon and prancing saddle-hire to the four horse coach of Buffaloe, flying through the Campus and recieving their loads of students and trunks. In fact a crowd of Chapel Hill students have about as much baggage as a pack of ladies; Leather trunks and hairtrunks, clothes bags and saddlebags, boxes, bundles and all the thousand conveniencies that have been made for storing away a man's worldly possessions.
It is somewhat wonderful to the uninitiated, how extremely eager all are [to] leave this spot, sacred to the, muses and Apollo . Here our habits time is our own; we are masters of our actions, without any one to say go hither or thither. Every thing is done by clock-work; Two days of the week belong to us and we in consideration of all this only to get some ten or twelve lessons, which, assuredly, is not a hard task upon the majority of College, who suffer the time to slip by, without knowing what authors they are perusing. We have no thought for the morrow, our purses are supplied by other hands, and all that the greater part of us have to do, is to sit by a blazing fire, with a pipe dangling in our mouths and listen to anecdotes, keen remarks,

Page 2
witty sayings &c; which are so congenial to the atmosphere of C. Hill. But notwithstanding all this, the whole of College, even the insignificant Freshman, manifests the most utmost eagerness to be gone. I know of no reason, to which this is attributate unless it be the passion for novelty, which so universally distinguishes youth. Suffice it to say, however, that such is the case and not one stays who can get away, and the twelve o'clock bell has no sooner sent forth its last peal, than every soul is for jumping into his conveyance and leaving post-haste. Last vacation, I remember well was a dreary time. The snow lay one or two inches deep, just sufficient to makes us feel all its bad effects with non of it's good. Here was a carryall with four freshmen, dear, innocent, unsuspecting, unsophistocated, little creatures, in glorious ignorance, whether they were disapproved or not, and congratulating one another upon escaping a star in the catalogue. One of the little darling was in a state of forgetfulness, and the other three fast approaching that desired condition. All going home, where they ought to have been long ago, and . At the [corner] of the South [Building], was a carriag, composed of a mixture, full of full n, all ready to make a jovial trip. No oppressive cares weighed down their breasts; no fluttering heart beatings struck against their ribs, like the old bell clapper against the side of the bell, when rudely swiv[l]ed from one side to the other by some midnight prowler. Free, lighthearted, independent of the faculty. Suppose we take a peep inside the buildings; here is one man packing up with all of his might, bothered to death by a crowd of friends standing round determined to get a shake of the hand before he leaves

Page 3
In another room are three or four standing round a table, hats on and pantaloons inside boots, ready to start, but before the go, taking a farewell glass. The passage is full of trunks and negroes, willing to seize anything unappropriated. Put your head out in the Campus again; see a poor fellow while making his way to his conveyance, stopped at every step by some darkey with Mister B, "I come for that little you owe me". "Well how much?" "forty-five cents, sir."—"Mr B.—I believe you owe me a quarter." "For you old senior" "for a chicken supper sir." And so on, till at last, when he does reach the carriag, it is with a diminished purse. Yonder is one man with his head out the East Building window, roaring out for Chesterlink opens in a new window , "Chester-r-r-r,! oh! Chester; Chesterfieldlink opens in a new window !" how long before my concern will be ready," "The boy says, sir, the salubrity of the atmosphere is very congressional to the consolidated feelings of his concomitancy and that he will be there presently." All is uproar, and confusion nothing in its right place and every thing wrong A confused mass of Faculty students, hackdrivers, college servants, village negroes, etc. But in the midst of all these there is one who looks on with a downcast heart; he hardly dares to raise his eyes for fear of seeing some old acquaintance taking his leave for six weeks, I mean the vacation, he who looks forward to a dreary month and a half, separated from all his associates, cut off from all his fun. Watch his slow and melancholy step; notice his dejected air, as he follows strolls from building to building, and from vehicle to vehicle: see with what a doleful appearance he shakes the hand [of] every parting associate, and amidst the remembrance of the joy you felt at your departure, bestow one thought upon

Page 4
the poor disconsolate being, who is condemned to [lose] the sight of your joyous face, and to be thrown upon his own resources for amusement, during the long, alas ye know not how long, time of a vacation. In every country, every rank, every condition of life, and even in every crowd we see exhibited the most2 opposite feelings and situations, No two men are in the same situation; here,3 also, we have the accustomed variety: A smiling face on the one hand; a most doleful one on the other. Here is joy; there is sorrow; here is anxiety; there, light-heartedness. And such is life; we must part with every thing that is dear to us: friends become faithless treacher; lovers treacherous; prosperity is lost; As Dr Johnson has justly remarked we all struggle to live to a grey old age, for no purpose, indeed, but to see our hopes have the pleasure of surviving all our friends and seeing th ourselves standing like a blasted pines, amids in the forest, remnants of a former age.4 But a truce to moralizing. Such separation must happen and we must bear them in the bst manner possible. Let those, who despond, console themselves with the reflection, that we shall, most of us, meet again on this same spot, to press our hands in recognition of old friendship, to pass the sparkling bowl around the jovial circle and pledge each other success in all the heartfelt sincerity of an en warmhearted and enthusiastic student.


1. Pettigrew Family Papers, SHC. The composition is undated but by virtue of its subject matter and handwriting was written while Pettigrewlink opens in a new window was a student, prior to his graduation as valedictorian in June 1847. Compared to Pettigrew'slink opens in a new window other writings—a senior speech and several pieces written for the Philanthropic Society survive—this essay appears to be a draft, given its misspellings, omitted letters and words, and crossed out and inserted words. The essay may have been composed as a Philanthropic Society exercise.

2. Pettigrewlink opens in a new window circled most.

3. Pettigrewlink opens in a new window wrote here on top of several unrecovered characters.

4. Possibly an allusion to Samuel Johnson's Rasselas , Chapter 45, in which the old man tells Imlac, "I have outlived my friends and my rivals. Nothing is now of much importance; for I cannot extend my interest beyond myself."