Title: Letter from Ruffin Thomson to William H. Thomson, August 6, 1860: Electronic Edition.
Author: Thomson, Ruffin H., 1841-1888
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
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:
2005-05-19, 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: Ruffin Thomson Papers (#3315), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Ruffin Thomson to William H. Thomson, August 6, 1860
Author: Thomson, Ruffin H., 1841-1888
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 3315 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Curriculum
Education/UNC Student Associations
Examples of Student Writing/Letters
Travel and Entertainment/Social Events
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the personal correspondance. 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

Thomson describes for his father a watermelon feast called the "Fresh Treat," his election as secretary of the Dialectic Society, his anticipated grades, and conversations with Gov. David Swain.
Letter from Ruffin Thomson to William H. Thomson, August 6, 18601
Thomson, Ruffin H., 1841-1888

Page 1
Chapel Hill. NC.Aug 6th 1860.

Dear Pa,

Your last came to hand on the fourth of August.– I was unavoidably delayed one mail in answering it.– & even now I am rather encroaching on my hours of rest, but I do not regard that in the least as long as I can please you, by keeping regular.
I allways feel a better boy, when a letter is recieved from you & read. Many are the times, I become careless about my studies & affairs generally, but a letter from you never fails to set me again on the right path. Always keep this in view, when writing, for to be so long without seeing Home & Home folks & without coming under Home influences is enough to cause the best to become lax at times. A boy should see as much of Home, as is possible, during the few short years, it may last. It can but be a bad plan in some instances at least, to send a son off, for a series of years, to be absent. I have seen some of the evils of the practice, since I have been here. The theory of a young man's learning to depend on himself early, may be good to talk about & philosophize upon, but it cant succeed in practice. Never

Page 2
weaken the Love of Home, while one exists—
The day on which I recieved your letter was my nineteenth birth day, the first I ever spent away from my birth place—It is, I fear, but the beginning of many a future absence—My next birth day spent at Home will be my twenty second (22nd)—
I did not have much chance for reflection on last Saturday, for that was the day of the "Fresh Treat", and I was a member of the Committee who were appointed to superintend—We contracted for about eight hundred (800) melons, at one hundred & forty ($14000) dollars, which money was collected from the "Newies". It is a great festal day. Every body turns out, with capacious bags & c & c to get all the melons he can, for it is a great game—Some getting forty & fifty others, none at all—with numberless bruises & hurts, & c The Committee do not engage in the struggle, but have twenty apiece of the largest, placed in a seperate wagon, & hauled to their Rooms. Next Year our Committee get are entitled to a less number than the acting Committee, & continue to draw our number as long as we are in College—So you see, it is a position of profit as well as honor, to be one of the favored ones. I have been engaged on every Committee our Class, has appointed yet, & though the office, itself, is

Page 3
rather diminutive, still it is an evidence of my standing with the Students. My freinds still expect me to run for Marshall of our Class, although I have emphatically disclaimed all intention of so doing. I flatter myself, I can carry a larger vote than any man in our Class.
Since I removed my lodging to College, I have been honored with almost daily visits, from Gov Swain , & not for the purpose of inspection. He has a Recitation Room on the same floor, on which I room, & it is his custom to come up to College an hour or two before Recitation hour, part of this time he spends in my comfortable Rocking Chair, asking innumerable questions about Mississippi and Mississippians, & various other subjects, also he tells me some times about his boarding with you, and where the House is– in which the family used to live—I never knew until he told me where it was. It was, he says, built by one of the former Professors of the Institution. Is it so?
I never take any interest in Society duties, further than the mere listining to debates, & c. Want of Confidence in myself, is the main reason. I have been elected Secretary of Society the second one of our Class. I am in office, while2 the new members join, & so

Page 4
there is more labor, in my turn than any other, & consequently, more honor.3 You told me to get a Websters Dictionary. I have been hesitating a long time, whether to get Websters or Worcesters . The last is a new one, and, is Competing for the place formerly occupied by Websters.4 Please find out which is the best & let me know
With reference to my grade of scholarship, I expect to raise one grade on Latin & Bible—& take first on French, our new study. The others will remain about the same. Compositions will be required of us once in three weeks, during the Soph. I cant tell what grade I'll take on that but will do what I can. The "Great Eastern" steamship came to Norfolk on last Friday, a number of the Boys ran off, & went down to see her I wanted to go very much indeed, but Could5 not. I am looking forward to Next Session with great anticipation6

Write often,

My love to all,

I am your affectionate son

Ruffin Thomson 7


2. Thomson wrote while on top of several unrecovered characters.

3. Thomson was elected secretary on August 3, 1860, and took office on August 24, during which time new students were inducted into the Society. His term as secretary ended on September 22, 1860 (S-12:354, UA).

4. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse) first appeared in 1828. Joseph E. Worcester (1784-1865) published several popular dictionaries, including A Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Hickling, Swan, and Brewer, 1848), which appeared in a revised edition in 1860. Alternately, Thomson may be referring to Worcester's A Pronouncing, Explanatory, and Synonymous Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Hickling, Swan, and Brown, 1855).

5. Thomson wrote C on top of an unrecovered character.

6. Thomson wrote an on top of gr at the beginning of anticipation.

7. A flourish appears under Thomson's signature.