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Title: Address of Rufus M. Rosebrough for the Dialectic Society, February 1832: Electronic Edition.
Author: Roseborough, Rufus Milton
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
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:
2005-09-21, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Records of the Dialectic Society (#40152), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Address of R. M. Rosebrough for the Dialectic Society, February 1832
Author: Rufus M. Rosebrough
Description: 6 pages, 7 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Address of Rufus M. Rosebrough for the Dialectic Society, February 1832
Roseborough, Rufus Milton

Cover page

Page 1

Fellow Members,

The frequency and ability, with which you have been addressed from this chair, on the various topicks which relate to your mental culture and moral improvement, leave to the present incumbent, but the gleanings of the rich harvests of those who have preceded him. And As it is difficult to select a theme which will interest you by its novelty, he trusts that the present moments will not be lost, while your attention is directed to a subject, tho, not new is however not the less important.
The subject offered to your consideration, is, a particular attention to classical litterature.
The young, owing to their inexperience and want of that practical knowledge which they in after life acquire, are incapable of properly appreciating those improvements to be derived from this source; and are apt to inquire, what advantages will result to them from an acquaintance with those languages which on account of their seeming little practical use to mankind, are termed "the dead languages." By a consideration of this kind the young pupil is frequently hurried to the unjust conclusion, that all classical litterature is useless and calculated to waste in a criminal manner both his time and exertions, and instead of laying hold of it as the means by which he is to facilitate his ascent along the rugged steep of the hill of science, is but too apt to consider it as an obstacle thrown in his way only to impede his progress; and sometimes even to wish that it were entirely discarded form our seminaries of learning.

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To a person obtaining a liberal education and who wishes to distinguish himself in the particular part he may act on the on the stage of life, whether in the capacity of a politician, the polite scholar, or in any of the different professional departments, it is of paramount importance, that he acquire an intimate and accurate knowledge of antiquity. The happiest means to put him in possession of this knowledge is a close and careful perusal of the Latin and Greek authors. It is true that many of the ancient writers have been translated into the English language and may afford to the reader, sources of much valuable information; yet so intimate is the connexion between thought and the language in which it is expressed, that the English schollar could in this way form but an imperfect view of the manners, customs, and modes of thoughts in ancient times. It is the profound Greek and Latin scholar who can at pleasure transport himself into Greece with all its refinements, tread the soil of Athens and Sparta and behold the monuments erected to departed greatness, visit the plains of Marathon and witness the glorious struggle and immortal victory of Miltiades , walk in the groves of Academus and listen to the philosophical lectures of a Plato, saunter along the banks of Ilissus and imagine himself charmed with the sweet and melodious strains of Apollo's lyre, enter Rome when at the zenith of her renown and listen to the soul enrapturing eloquence of a Cicero and others who graced the Roman Senate , associate himself with the shades of her departed heroes and sages and acquaint himself with the passions and motives, by which, they were actuated in their earthly career.

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Such advantages as these, give a new tone to the mind, an expansion of thought and a manliness of feeling, which otherwise must have been lost.
Another advantage arising from this source is the facilities which it affords us in the acquisition of the foreign living languages. Their introduction into so many of the different Colleges of the Union and in many places, into private schools within the last few years, satisfactorily shew the increasing desire of the American youth to make themselves acquainted with them; and it would be needless here to press arguments in favour of the advantages which a knowledge of them affords to the professional man and private gentleman. We become every day more sensible of their importance. The rapid advancement of our republic in population, wealth, & litterature, which entitle her to so enviable a rank among the nations of the earth, the enlargement of her commercial sphere, that link which connects all civilized nations together, and the frequent intercourse which our citizens have with foreign kingdoms urge but too forcibly their utility. It is the man who has enriched his mind with the spoils of ancient litterature and embellished it with a familliar acquaintance with the modern that feels himself at home in a foreign land. No two nations think precisely in the same way, much less those which speak different languages. This we see verified in the different shades of meaning which our own and the mother country attach to the same word. Hence we see that words in passing from one nation to another

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generally lose a part or the whole of their original acceptation and assume that shade of meaning, which may be given them by the nation into which they pass. This revolution, which words undergo in migrating from one language to another, presents the fairest opportunity of arriving at certainty in our investigations of subjects so subtle as thought and the symbols of thought. Thus while we are engaged in the study of the ancient languages, we acquire the habit of analysing our intellectual operations, than which, nothing can be more admirably adapted to the young mind just beginning to unfold its powers. It gives it an accuracy and clearness of perception in all its future investigations.
The improvement of our taste is an advantage by no means of minor importance. Homers Illiad and Virgils Aeneid have been admitted by all nations, as standards, by which, epic poems must be measured. And coming to us with the accumulated approbation of preceding ages, it would be superfluous to say anything in praise of them and presumptive to endeavour to detract from their merit. It was these works that shone with a "phosphor radiance" during the darkness of the middle ages and to which we are indebted for the high advancement of litterature at the present day. Besides these, there are other ancient poetic writings which have been esteemed by men of taste in all ages, as almost perfect in their kind. We have also models of historical and biographical writings, exhibited in the works of Thucydides , Livy , Xenophon, Tacitus, Salust and some

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others, which we despair of ever seeing excelled by writers of the present or succeeding times. It is upon models like these in which there are delicate tints, impassionate touches, chastness of expression, and accuracy of thought, that we wish to see the taste of the youth of the present day formed. It is those who have drunk deep at the Pierian Spring and are sensible how much remains to be known that we find to be more modest and unassuming, better qualified to engage in any pursuit of science or of litterature, better fitted for an entrance upon professional duties and possessing more taste and ardour for knowledge of all kinds, than those of more varied educations.
These remarks, fellow members, have been made, not so much for the purpose of setting fully before you the importance of the classicks, as of calling your attention to them.
I cannot conclude however, without offering you a few remarks on the duties that devolve on each one of you as a member of this litterary compact. It is an association which we have formed for our improvement and in whose honor or disgrace we must all partake. The estimate which we place upon a piece of metal or matter of any kind, depends wholly upon the value of each separate particle with which it is composed; so the estimation in which this society is held and its future prosperity, depends very much on the character of each individual member. The duties of this house, altho, they they have long since ceased to interest you, with their novelty, in consequence of your familliarity with them, are not, on that account to be esteemed of less importance. It is by a faithful performance of them that you will acquire the capacity of arrainging your

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thoughts in a proper manner, a richness and chasteness of diction, a fluency and address in delivery and a quickness and pertness in reply. And it is to be hoped, that while you properly appreciate them, you will not prevent the improvement to be derived from them, by a cold and reluctant performance; but that you will use that diligence in preparation and zeal in the discharge of them, which shall create and cherish in the bosom of each one, a laudable emulation to excel. It is also to be hoped that you will act with that gravity and dignity which is due to this house, that you will refrain from indulging in that species of wit and sarcasm which has heretofore been practiced to so great an extent, that in giving and receiving corrections you will endeavor to avoid that dictatorial manner which is sometimes indulged in and exercise towards each other a mutual forbearance and reciprocity of good feeling. It is by acting in this manner, that you will the better obtain the noble object for which you meet; and instead of becoming wearied with the round of duties here, will regard the time spent in the performance of them, as the happiest and most precious hours of your college life; and your frequent meetings will serve to stregthen and brighten those silken cords of affection by which you are now so happily linked.

Rufus M Rosebrough