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Title: Inagural Address of Paul B. Means for the Dialectic Society, May 8, 1868: Electronic Edition.
Author: Means, Paul Barringer, 1845-1911
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. 22K
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:
2005-05-25, 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: Inaugural Address of Paul B. Means for the Dialectic Society, May 8, 1868
Author: Means, Paul Barringer, 1845-1911
Description: 8 pages, 9 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/Goals and Purposes
Education/UNC Student Associations
Examples of Student Writing/Debating Society Writings
Social and Moral Issues/Other Social and Moral Issues
Editorial practices
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Document Summary

Means' inaugural address urges Dialectic Society members to avoid the siren songs of pleasure and vice and listen instead to virtue and reason so that they may bring honor to their parents, their university, and the nation.
Inaugural Address of Paul B. Means for the Dialectic Society, May 8, 18681
Means, Paul Barringer, 1845-1911

Cover page

Page 1

Friends and Fellow members:

To be called to preside over your meetings, is in my opinion as great an honor as can be confered on any person connected with this University.
This distinction having been shown me once before, I hardly again expected to receive this expression of your esteem: and did it not appear to me that this deference on your part should be doubly appreciated, inasmuch as you selected me as your President during my abscence from the Hill and when there were others who might claim your attention, the duties, incumbent upon me at this time, as a member of the graduating class, would undoubtedly induce me to decline the acceptance of this office. Having considered it therefore, under the circumstances, my paramount duty to abide the result of your kind suffrages; I now return you my most sincere thanks for this appreciation of me. To speak at any length to you of the condition of your Society, since this matter has been so frequently and ably refered to recently; I would consider not only presumptious on my part, but preposterously absurd. All therefore

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that I shall say on this matter is that, in my opinion, you have made decided progression during the last year, and that if you will follow the sensible and profound advice of my recent predecessors, especially the immediate one,2 you will, in addition to the advancement already made, improve in many respects and vastly. The subjects upon which an "appropriate address" may be written, have been so thoroughly exhausted that I have been almost at a loss in what manner to perform this first duty pertaining to my office.
But as this will be the last time that I will, in any manner, address you, I suppose that it will be most "appropriate" for me to speak in accordance with the occasion.
A College life is one which none can appreciate but those who have experienced it.
When the student enters upon his career here, as when Eneas entered the temple at Carthage, "the cloud" of parental affection,—which has shielded and protected him from the snares and vicissitudes of other storms—, is almost invariably dissipated by the fierce blasts of temptation. Here for the

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first time he feels that, in the frail barque of existence, he is sent forth upon the ocean of life, and must "paddle his own canoe" or sink beneath its boisterous waves.
Before him are the Sylla and Charybdis of indolence and vice, and seldom it happens that he escapes them both entirely.
The current between them, in comparison with human inclinations, is almost as difficult to follow, as it is "for a camel to go through the eye of a needle".3 And Fellow-members, as one, who knows fully the many and fearful shoals upon which you may founder, and the numerous under currents that may drift you into these terrible whirlpools, I advise you now in this my last speech to beware, and look well to your course.
In our youthful days we little regard with what great velocity the wheels of life roll on, from an inate quality we are distressingly regardless of the warning, that on the fast fleeting wings of time we are rapidly approaching "that bourne whence no traveller returns."4 And not until age increases upon us do we open our eyes to our situation, and then in deep anguish

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we exclaim,
"Ah me! those joyous days are gone;
I little dreamt till they were flown,
    How fleeting were the hours!
For lest he break the pleasing spell
Time bears for youth a muffled bell
    And hides his face in flowers.5
When a young man enters College he stands at the first great cross road in the journey of life.
Upon his left stand Pleasure and Vice with their "siren songs" and all the enticing allurements to which human nature is liable to succumb; and how many alas! follow them and find but too late, that they are only deceptive "ignes-fatui"6 which decoy their improvident pursuers only thro' the boggy mires of corruption and disgrace.
"Oh! that youth in lifes gay dawning years
Could see the world as it in age appears;
How many virtues would experience teach,
How many vices place beyond his reach
Passions, like ocean billows, would subside
And every dark temptation be defied7
You have all been here sufficiently long to indicate, to some extent, by your actions

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what will be your future career in college: but, the die is not yet cast, and to those of you whose magnetic needle does not point in the direction I now say take another and a better course!
Listen only to the words of Virtue and Reason upon your right, push zealously and faithfully on, upon the collegiate journey that stretches before you,—which will grow brighter and smoother as you near the end—, and there, instead of the willow wreath of sorrow, receive upon your brows the trembling garlands of laurel with which Victory is anxiously waiting to crown you.
The hour when you must all bid a long farewell to this garden-spot of your life is fast, fast approaching.
The suffering and sorrow of that hour none of you will believe, until it falls upon you from the grasp of time.
These classic shades have become endeared to us all; there are incidents and associations connected with, that, though trackless deserts and boundless oceans may intervene, it is impossible for us to forget them. This our earthly

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Elysium, has for years been the home of many of us; here we have all formed friendships and attachments that it would soften a heart of adamant to severe; but especially heartrending it is to leave these scenes, when to some of us they are the only remenicences that we have, of dear friends, whose names, once on the college list with our own, are now inscribed on the roll of mortality.
But even if you find here no others charms of endearment, you must become enraptured with this sacred spot and mourn to leave it when you reflect that it is the home of your mind:—the only spark of Divinity the only fragment of Immortality that you possess.
Whether then you leave this transitory Paradise with sadness or joy, it is my ardent wish for one and all that, when the hour arrives at last for you to depart, you, in addition to having plucked the most brilliant flowers of education, may look back with pleasure and pride upon your college career, and go forth in such a manner that this University shall be the nucleus around which will cluster the most lasting and pleasant reminiscences of

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life; and that the information you may have acquired here shall be the germ whence shall spring forth mighty and wonderful acheivements in your struggles for fame and reputation.
In conclusion, Fellow-members, I ask you to apply yourselves diligently and lead such a life that the rising of your genius, which is just begining to illumine the first day-spring of your existence, may continue to shine with undim[in]ished splendour throughout life, and that the last gleam of its parting rays may reflect streams of credit and honor on your parents, on your University, and on the American nation!
But as men I address you, and for the honor of your sex I implore you that you do not endeavor to ascend the steep, "whence Fames' proud temple shines afar"8 as the grovelling, cunning serpent, which climbs the lofty crag only by dark crevices and hidden paths; but like the noble eagle soar boldly up on the pinions of intelligence and virtue with your course open to the eyes of all your fellow-creatures, and having reached the zenith of your glory there seat yourself in the chaplet of honor, unmolested save by the deafening applause

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of the ardent admirers below and around you.
Thanking you again for your kindness, I now assure you that I will perform my duty according to the dictates of my conscience, and taking the Constitution as my monitor "execute it as I understand it."

Paul B. Means .

Cabarrus Co.,

May 7th 1868


1. Dialectic Society Addresses, UA. The address consists of a title page and eight numbered pages of text. The title page is inscribed "Inaugural Address/of/ Paul B. Means / Cabarrus Co.,/NoCa /Delivered May 8th 1868/ Samuel F. Bitting,—Vice President/ Mt. Airy,/NoCa ." A second hand has written "Means ." at the top of the title page.

2. William Simpson Pearson (1849-1920) from Morganton, NC, entered the University in 1864 and was president of the Dialectic Society from April 2 to May 8, 1868, when Means took the chair. Pearson had argued in his inaugural address that obsolete rules governing members' conduct should be expunged from the Society's constitution. Pearson received his degree in 1868 and became an author, lawyer, and railroad commissioner. He served as a University trustee from 1905 to 1907.

3. Matthew 19:24: "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

4. William Shakespeare, Hamlet III.i. (1603).

5. John Godfrey Saxe, "My Boyhood," Clever Stories of Many Nations (1865).

6. "ignes fatui": fires that sometimes appear at night over marshes; foolish goals.

7. A blot in the manuscript obscures the end punctuation of the line. The quoted passage appears in William Henry Rhodes, Theodosia, The Pirate's Prisoner , III.vii, lines 36-41 (1846).

8. James Beattie, The Minstrel (1771).