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Title: "Envy," Senior Oration of George W. Graham for the Dialectic Society, February 22, 1868: Electronic Edition.
Author: Graham, George W.
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 Amanda Page
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 17K
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:
2005-05-25, Amanda Page 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: Dialectic Society Records (#40152), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "Envy," Senior Oration of George W. Graham for the Dialectic Society, February 22, 1868
Author: Graham, George W.
Description: 5 pages, 6 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Debating Society Writings
Social and Moral Issues/Other Social and Moral Issues
Religion and Philosophy/Christianity and Christian Theology
Editorial practices
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Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Graham's senior oration gives historical and biblical examples of how envy has produced malignity in human affairs.
"Envy," Senior Oration of George W. Graham for the Dialectic Society, February 22, 1868.1
Graham, George W.

Cover page

Page 1
When we look abroad and see the bickerings and strifes which are continually marring man's happiness here on earth, we are forced to conclude there is an impure fount whence flow thes bitter waters. Nor do we need any further proof of the melancholy fact taught us in the Oricles of the "Sacred Truthss" that man is a fallen and corrupt creature. Although we may be left in the dark in regard to the way in which he became corrupt, revelation alone can teach us this, yet it is not the less true that such is the case. We know that evry effect is poduced by some cause or it may be a combination of causes. Hence we conclude that effects so fraught with evil as thes of which we speak, must have a coresponding malignant cause deeply seated in the human heart. Among the many causes which tend to produce unhappiness in the world we think Envy occupies a prominent position. What is Envy? It is a sensation of unhappiness and disquiet arising from the advantages which others are supposed to have above us accompanied with malignity towards thoes who posess them.
It is, we may say the bone of contention among men. In a majority of cases it gives rise to thoes withering looks harsh words and unkind acts which often pierce the generous soul with

Page 2
keener agony than the shaft of glittering steel hurled with Herculean strength and whose wound would seem a pleasure.
We are not inclined to laud with flattery the imaginary happiness of thoes who have preceeded us and say that they felt none of thes evils of which we complain in so doing we would be stifling the honest convictions of our minds and would be making statements which neither history nor experience would confirm. Ever since man has felt the influence of Pride, Ambition, Love, ever since then has been a variaty of talents and mental accomplishments and different degrees of comliness in personal appearence among men ever since some have been born in affluence and dandled in the lap of ease and others have been nursed in the scantiness of poverty with in the mud reared walls of an humble cottage ever since there has been such a thing as the realization of hopes and disappointments just so long has man felt the baneful influence of Envy. It did not disturbe the quiet repose of Adam and Eve rclining beneath the verdant bowers of the yet unforfeited Paridise regailing them-selves with pleasures which knew no

Page 3
alloy; they felt its painful sufferi effects soon after Heavens law had been infringed and man was no longer innocent. What could have marred the perfect harmony of feeling and sentiment which must have [surged]2 within the hallowed circle precints of the family circle of our first parents? Could any thing but direful Envy have moved Cain to shed his brothers blood. Surely not. Nothing except that accursed and fiendish feeling which when it cannot rise and soar to the realms of unalloyed bliss would drag down and bury in the depths of perdition thoes that are enjoying the pleasures which they are unable to reach.
Envy even entered the courts of high Heaven and stirred up Satan and his followers to set at naught the laws of their maker. Yes it was that Envy which
"All human virtue to its latest breath
Finds never conquered but in death"3
It was Envy that moved Josephs bretheren to sell him to foreign merchants and present to their father his coat of many colors stained with crimson gore and exultingly exclaim this we have found know now whether it be your sons coat or no. Not only this but they remained unconcerned if not delighted when they saw hoary hairs bowed down with grief and sorrow for a much loved son. It was this direfull passion that made the Jews

Page 4
crucify the Prince of Peace and willingly entail upon themslves and their children the accused fruits of this inconceivably wicked and heinous act the evil consequences of which they have felt and are still suffering so they have become a byword among all people. But let us not confine the existance of this evill to the Ancients alone.
Where ever we turn our eyes they can easily detect some of its evil workings. Turn to Queen Elizabeth. We think Envy manifested itself in the otherwise amiable character of good Queen Bess in all her dealings with the gifted though unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth certainly envied her. The sufferings of this unfortunate woman her long confinement and melancholy fate would would even yet, were not her name associated with Roman Catholicism against which men and educated in Protestant countries have such a strong prejudice, awaken our sympathies and dispose us to judge charitably of the errors of innocence and lead us to detest from the inmost depths of our hearts that vile and loathsome passion which was the prime agent in producing her misries.
Our own country has been made to mourn beneath our its blighting touch. It makes the name of Aaron Burr who would have been an ornament to any age or country loathed by the pious and good. He, Samson like laid his unhallowed hands upon

Page 5
the pillars of the sacred temple of freedom and with one mighty effort would have buried all beneath its ruins. Burrs happiness and usefullness were marred by this unholy passion even with that Envy which was cruel as the grave. Nothing except that malignant spirit which grows pale and sickens if a friend prevails, which merit and sucess persues with hate and dams the worth it cannot imitate could have made him seek to stain his hands with the blood of the lamented Hamilton one of American's most gifted sons. Well might America cloth herself in the habiliments of woe and in the language of the ancient bard exclaim4 How are the mighty fallen! It is useless to multiply examples. From what we have already said Envy must appear to be an evil and an evil continually. It is an unnatural feeling more feroci[ous] than the furious spirit of the wild beast that roams over the plains of Africa It ever fixes a stain upon the character of the Savage much more upon thoes claiming to be civilized and under specially upon thoes who pofess to be under the benign influence of the Gospel. Then let evry one abandon this odious disposition, crush it in its incipient stages and free himself from this merciless passion which will prey upon his vitals and contaminate the very air he breathes and render him loathsome and odious to himself and all connected with him.


1. Dialectic Society Addresses, UA. The address consists of a title page and five pages of text, four of which show page numbers. The title page contains the following inscription: "Senior Oration/Delivered In/The/Dialectic Hall/Febuary 22nd/1868/By/ George W Graham /of/ Hillsborough/North Carolina." At one time the speech had been bound and subsequently was unbound.

2. Graham wrote sugred.

3. Alexander Pope, "The First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace, Imitated" (1737): "All human Virtue to its latest breath/Finds Envy never conquer'd but by Death."

4. Graham wrote i on top ofm.