Documenting the American South Logo
Title: Valedictory Oration of William C. Dowd, June 3, 1858: Electronic Edition.
Author: Dowd, William Carey, 1835-1860
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 24K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© 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 South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-05-04, Brian Dietz 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: Senior and Junior Orations, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Valedictory Oration of William C. Dowd, June 3, 1858
Author: William C. Dowd
Description: 8 pages, 8 page images
Note: Call number VC378 UO1 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/Goals and Purposes
Education/UNC Administration
Education/UNC Faculty, Staff, and Servants
Health and Disease/Deaths of Students and Faculty
Personal Relationships/With Students and Friends
Examples of Student Writing/Commencement Addresses
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the valedictory address. Originals are in the North Carolina 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

Dowd's oration offers tributes and a farewell to fellow students, the faculty (pausing to eulogize Prof. Elisha Mitchell), the president, the trustees, and his fellow graduates.
Valedictory Oration of William C. Dowd , June 3, 18581
Dowd, William Carey, 1835-1860

Page 1
William Carey Dowd .
Wake Co. N. C.
Morning is the time to smile and run after the imagination, when in its purity, it points to the joyous life ahead and prompts to pursue the "narrow way." Morning the time, when prospects brighten and nobler purposes fill our bosoms. Oh! that happy morning would last forever! Then would life be a fairy dream: age would lose his whitened locks: Spring his chilling storms and hopes their cruel disappointments: friendships would be unbroken and associations lose the terror of a close, Oh! that morning would last forever! But the "time to weep"2 must come

Page 2
to fright our hopes, dispel our vain imaginings, and spread the gloomy silence of Solitude around us. Night is fearful, darkness filled with spectres, broken by the cry of the wanderer and the howlings of the devourer.

Fellow Students: But Fellow Students: our morn is past: the dark night is brooding over us: the bright ideal star of Commencement, to which our life has long been directed, is swiftly fading from our vision: it hangs no longer in the distance, but sinks behind the hills. School-days are gone and we linger only to say Good bye. Now we have attained the end of our race and find all is not bright beyond, we hesitate to rush into the scenes untried and abide this hour to review our pilgrimage. Memory paints anew the festive scenes in which we took a part and all along our fading pathway, days and deeds arise 'round which our fondest recollections cluster. Fond Memory: sacred goddess as thou art: thanks for the bright pictures thou dost paint! Events long neglected or forgotten, thou hast preserved untarnished; the ills and errors thou hast concealed and only the joys and pleasures revealed. Happy life we'v'e spent in College—never to be forgotten! Fixed on thy tablet, it shall live to cheer us in the hours of sad old age. The memory of our bygone years! Tis sweet to think of their consolations and forget their cares. But, melancholy thought, that excites each tender heart and starts a sympathetic tear! those years now close and number themselves with the Past. We say Farewell and part.

Page 3
You have shared with us the inspiring waters of this fountain of Learning, but our friendships now hasten to be broken! Borne away by adverse Fates or weighed down by life's direst calamities, our memories will recur with rapture to you, who cheered us once and added to our pleasures. Be good friends to each other as you have been to us: envy not those, who are foremost in the race but love them more, and if one fall, raise him to your own high position and make him worthy of your love. And think not you will be forgotten. Our eyes will ever rest upon you, watching how the Muses love you and how you love the Muses. Be mindful of the changes which mark your brief career!
The Poets gave to Jupiter a home upon Olympus, that he might live their god long as the mountain stood. But Olympus now sinks slowly beneath the sea to become ere many cycles, the sporting ground of sea-monsters or the base of a coral reef! The Vestal flame, of ancient days, floated on the breeze and was caught up to the skies. Long did the Virgin think to perpetuate the name of her Mistress by solemn rites and morning sacrifices! But the Temple is destroyed: the place of the altar forgotten and history tells not the story of their follies. The age of Mythology is passed away. Change is a decree of Deity. He has shown his visage here and broken our little circle. Some have fallen away from us, who sleep in the silent Cemetery, watching still perhaps, the progress of their deserted friends! Learn from their fate to be wise. Prepare now to meet them in peace and dwell with them in communion with the blest. For we too, soon must part: soon hear the long Farewell!

The Faculty.

Much loved Faculty: I come to pay you a tribute of earnest

Page 4
gratitude. Our hearts swell with deep emotions as we behold you and think we may never see you all again. Alas! we do not see you all now! Where is that familiar form, once mingling in scenes like these? I look in vain for him the foremost and the best. He was devoted to us and he never had a class, who loved him more than we.
But Dr. Elisha Mitchell is gone from us to a higher life.3
When we saw him last, he was buoyant and active and so had he won our hearts, that many had already expressed the boundless sorrow, that would pervade our hearts if he should fall ere our course was run or he had given us his passport into active life!
He slumbers amid the mountains he went to explore: in the State to which he devoted the distinguished services of his life: amid the rocks and hills—a teeming Laboratory of the science to which he was a Martyr! He died a member of the University, his name will it perpetuate to all time. Spirit of the honored dead arise, and meet the class, who loved you so. Come to tell us farewell, ere we part to meet no more! Tell us of the world, thou hast visited, tell us how to live and die for Eternity! Bid us prepare for the Spirit-land and when we fall, bid us welcome home! He comes not: he is in the bosom of the Father. His last farewell was given to the hills and was hushed by the deep blue waters! High above these lowly vales may his body sleep quietly when discordant passions disturb the harmony of these States: high above these humble Cemeteries, may he be the first to catch the sound of the final tramp, the first awake and ascend to Heaven!

Page 5
But you, who remain, took us by the hand, slow to learn, reluctant to obey and led us through all the Sciences. Our ignorance excited your compassion and animated you to "love us to our duty" by parental care and tenderness. Emotions of deepest gratitude swell our hearts and prompt us to come humbly before you and reviewing our pilgrimage, now hastening to a final close, make a full expression of thanks for every kind word and favor. But we can not linger: the hour bids us haste. We are reluctant to say Farewell. 'Tis sad to forsake so worthy parents, beyond whose guidance we must hereafter act our part as men.
Ever will our memory run back and consecrate you the guardians of our youth and shapers of our highest destiny.– Accept the thanks of my classmates. No common offering do we bring: for we love you more than any ever did before. 'Tis surely a time to weep and say Farewell. How I'm driven to take the final step! Adieu. Adieu!

The President .

To you, much loved President : we owe a special tribute Upon our hearts perpetual thanks and praises kindle. Memory has embalmed your name and we go forth to tell of the good you have done. You told us of the errors of men: how they failed of a knowledge of the mind and built false theories of Eternity: taught us to remember and to use the reason: taught us the laws of our country, that we may be better citizens: armed us to enact with power the salutary principles imbibed: make our country more prosperous and happy: taught us the laws of God, to be better christians and fight more vigorously for Virtue. May our gratitude ever cheer you. May a kind Providence pour upon your head the dews of his grace, and crown you in his courts at last! Farewell!

Page 6

Respected Trustees:

All around me are sad and melancholy, weeping to sever the tender associations recently formed, reluctant to forsake friends and these sacred groves. We have learned to love the Institution you have established for the youth of all ages, and as adopted sons, turn to you, in this hour of trial, when none comes to arrest the sentence—Depart—and none gives relief to our regrets. You come from the busy world: tell us of its joys and hopes. Is not living there a pleasure? Brings it not sweet consolations? Welcome us to a happy life beyond these walls and tell us that going hence will be but the beginning of pleasures. Let some comfort us! But none will smile. Sadness sits upon your brow, troubles have furrowed your cheeks and labor found a place at your quiet homes! The external world has no consolation, cold and selfish, without a kind word for a weary pilgrim! You come to visit the University, established by the generosity of those you represent, and dignified by your talent. Its numbers enlarge: its good name extends. Thanks for the fortunes we have even beneath its protection and when leaving this our home and you our adopted parents our hearts are filled with mingled sadness and gratitude. Long may the advantages of your University be extended to our youth, and may your names ever be linked with hers, unsullied as her present fame! Farewell!


But this bitterest cup is cruelly reserved till the last! My dearest Classmates: we too must part: we were strangers when we began our career, jealous of each other's honors, careless of each other's woes. A cold world had taught us not to confide in our fellows. But drinking at the same pure fount, kneeling at the same shrine has

Page 7
softened our hearts and knit them into one. The Genii, who guard this Temple of Learning, have banished Discord and the Furies, and from their homes in the clouds send down Love and Amity. The gods have been propitious and our Instructors lavish of praise. No bonds were ever so closely formed nor their severance more worthy of a classe's flowing tears.
We forsook the innocent sports of boyhood when first we bowed at these shrines and devoted our lives to Learning. The bonds were broken which united us to those, who loved us amid our early reverses. A long Farewell to childhood! Would that we could breathe again its pure air and feel its innocence! And now alas: the hours of College life are ended numbered with the gloomy Past! The orb of day makes haste to hide his face from our sorrows. No more we obey the summons of the College Bell: no more the encouragements of our Teachers: no more we glide leisurely along these shady groves, nor call up the spirits of our absent friends to converse in the moonlight: no more we arise and haste away to see the first rays of the morning sun stealing over the hills: no more we hear the familiar Roll: no more the minister with a fervent prayer give our spirits unto God for his guidance in the day. All these are gone! Farewell to the brightest hours of my life: Farewell sweet memories, bright hopes! Our delightful course is run: its pleasant tasks ended: its merry pastimes fled. We part: some to take the course, which leads to emoluments and live in all the splendors of wealth: some the course that secures a worthy name. Here are distractions and dangers. Heroic is the fortitude that braves them: worthy he, who wears the crown at last: some to live in retirement: find perchance all the pleasures of life, miss its ills and fall in the grave sustained by the

Page 8
christian's hope: some indeed to proclaim the wisdom of God and win an unfading crown! Our College course has been uniformly happy. All down the journey each day rises before my vision, bright with some special token of the joys it gave. Oh! this race is too short: too soon the golden chain is broken! Do we bid adieu to quit these quiet walks, and leave this time-honoured retreat to meet no more?
I would gladly seize each loved one by the hand and pledge ourselves to live our lives away amid these shades! But we can not here make our permanent abode: these scenes must fade: ourselves must pass away. We can pledge however, an enduring friendship. Let us consecrate this place a common altar to which our memories shall recur with transports in all time to come: upon which we will sacrifice our jealousies and offer our prayers for mutual happiness. But Time bids us haste. Oh! cruel time, to sever us so soon! to drive us away, away! I would check thy march, the Sun should be turned back one hour and this last scene be prolonged! But the light is swiftly fading; your hearts bleed to obey the mandate: I am reluctant and sad. Farewell my brothers, a long, long Farewell! Heaven's choicest blessings attend you, and our King unite at last the little band he has this day broken and gather us up to live in union with Himself!


1. Senior and Junior Orations (1858), NCC. The oration is undated, but a draft housed in the William Carey Dowd Papers, SHC, bears the date "June 1858." Commenting on the 1858 Commencement ceremonies, Battle reports, "The reminiscences by the Valedictorian Dowd of the excellence of Dr. Mitchell , and the apostrophe to his spirit as still hovering over us, struck the hearts of the audience" (1:687). Valedictory orations of the antebellum period follow a similar format, the speaker delivering a series of farewells to the students, faculty members, the University's president, trustees, and members of the graduating class. Dowd graduated with first honors and received an ornate combination pen-pencil engraved with his initials that is housed in the William Carey Dowd Papers, SHC.

2. Ecclesiastes 3:4: "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."

3. Elisha Mitchell , who had joined the faculty in 1818, died on June 27, 1857, on Black Mountain (named Mount Mitchell in his honor in 1881), when he fell down a waterfall and drowned in the pool below. He had returned to the mountain to verify his claim that it was the tallest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. First buried in Asheville, Mitchell was reinterred on top of Black Mountain on June 16, 1858.