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Title: Letter from Cornelia Phillips Spencer to Laura Caroline Phillips, June 14, 1869: Electronic Edition.
Author: Spencer, Cornelia Phillips, 1825-1908
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. 34K
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:
2005-08-08, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Cornelia Phillips Spencer Papers (#683), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from Cornelia Phillips Spencer to Laura Caroline Phillips, June 14, 1869
Author: C. P. S.
Description: 12 pages, 10 page images
Note: Call number 683 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Editorial practices
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Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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On pages five and nine of this letter, Spencer writes postscripts in the side margins of the pages. Page images have been repeated so as to be parallel with the text, but the page images have not been reoriented to match the text's orientation.
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For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see the section Editorial Practices.
Letter from Cornelia Phillips Spencer to Laura Caroline Phillips, June 14, 1869
Spencer, Cornelia Phillips, 1825-1908

Page 1
Chapel Hill
June 14, '69

Dear Laura

It is my wish & intention to write you "a good long letter," but I do not know whether I shall be able to make it either good or long. This is early Monday morning. The wind is blowing "fair & free." & here I remark we have not had much wind this spring, & a fresh breeze strikes me as a novelty. There were light showers last night & when I went out just now for a turn in the garden, the larkspurs & white jasmine & holly hocks were in their glory & the cabbages on a broad grin. How sweet it all is, you well know. Do you know that I never can write to you about this old house of yours without a swelling at the heart & often at the eyes. It seems so hard, so incredible that you shd have been forced away from it. I am sitting at your especial window. The Mimosa is just beginning to bloom. June has made up the bed (we sleep in the other room; sit in here) & picked up & put away everything & set both rooms perfectly to rights all but the sweeping wh I did myself. I told her just now, I meant to call her "Help." She is such a help. She sits near in her little carpet bottom chair, dressing "Lea." One of these windows fell down on her foot last Sat & she is quite lame. How could a window fall

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on a body's foot? Easy enough when you sit with your bare legs elevated out on the window sill in order to get your feet warmed in the sunshine of a cool morning. June is looking not well. Excessively thin, but that may be going to be constitutional. She seems to be well. We miss Nora tremendously, wh is the only word to express it. Well, & we have had our Com. & are resting from its pleasing pains & fatigues, while yours is all to come. You never heard of such a grand (& to us & our side, delightful) fizzle as Commencement has been. For two or three weeks the Faculty & the Reds have talked of nothing but the inauguration. Holden & Grant were both coming. They industriously circulated thro the country that there was to be a free supper given Com. night. Mrs Pool said herself she wd have supper for 100 people. Pool ordered hacks to be in waiting at Dr Wed. for forty persons. Nobody came. Thursday Ten Trustees & seven others arrived. But I believe the Sentinel will tell you all that. I have not seen the S. not sending to the P.O. Sunday, & too early yet to send. But I hear it appeared yesterday. I do not remember a word I wrote to Sentinel. I wrote in such haste & with such vexatious interruptions, I fear it is a little too spiteful. The letters to Wm Journal, & to Presbyn. were written next day & are better. However we all

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felt like rejoicing no little. Rodman was very emphatic with the reminder that these men were here provisionally. Holden says (said in his speech) the people shd be taxed to support the Uni. if they wd not patronize it. Rodman said in his speech in the afternoon that could not be done. McIver told me this Sat morning (he came & sat a long time) I wish I had known it when I wrote my letters. Pools says (McIver told me) that Rodman did not use the word "provisional", & encourages himself & his men to hold on. McIver says he cannot bear to hear them talk. He says he is pretty well satisfied that the game is up here, & their affected security fills him with disgust. I told him if he had heard all Prof Kerr said, he would have been even more certain. Kerr clapped his hands together with exultation when he spoke of Rodman's speech — "Provisional & Temporary". Pool's speech (prepared for his Inaugural) (Kerr laughed so at the idea of "Installation," saying there never had been any thought of such a thing except in C. Hill) was all I have said of it in the papers. McIver says it was sophomorical high falutin & common-place. Holden went up to him & congratulated him! Rodman said not a word. By the way Judge R. sent me a very polite message, wished to call, but being here so few hours cd not get time &c & told McIver — the "Sketches" were more beautifully written & had more good clear sense

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in them than anything he had read in many a day! Aha! Also, Mr. Kerr said they had done immense good & been greatly sought after, & read, & were "delightful." I have had several letters to that effect. One from an old student saying at the close "tell your brother he knows not the good he has done by his sketches of the dear Uni." I hereby divide the credit between Chas & Sam & "make it over j'intly". Well. It was so well d (that was not a tear-drop but June , who is fussing now at my hair & wetting it & flirted the water all over everything. She looks over my shoulder very persistent & says, what did you go & tell aunt L. for, that it was me.) It is now after breakfast, nearly 9 & I have just had a visit from Ann Mickle. Such are the interruptions of letter writing. To resume. It was so well-done of C.H. people to stand aloof & let the world see they would not sanction this crew. I am so pleased with the spirit they showed. Rodman alluded to the absence of the townsfolk in his speech as another proof of the prostration of & want of confidence in the Uni. Miss Ann W. spent Com. day with us. I saw old Mrs. W. Sunday (yesterday) & she said "Some of 'em asked me if I wouldn't go to the Chapel & I said if I did, I'd rise right up in my place & say this is no Commencement & that's no Faculty." Miss Ann Saunders has been (is yet) very ill with typhoid fever, dangerously, I am grieved to say. This is

Page 5
the 12th day. I walked up to inquire after her from S.S. yesterday & coming back to go to Meth. Church, it being too early I stopped in to talk with old Mrs. W. She looked very smart, sitting with her old Bible & two or three good books on the chair near. It made me think of your Mother so to look at her. Revd Mr Jenkins, who used to be minister here) is now with his wife on a visit to his old flock. They all seem to love him so. A good crowd at Ch. Mr J. & his wife refused to go near the Chapel! (He said "Pool need not expect Methodists to support him, they were too ashamed of such a representation!") Do you see the Wm Journal? Englehardt has opened a 40 gun battery on the Uni. Last week it was infested by "pismires", this week, "presided over by nincompoops". Mrs. Carr told me she met Woods in the street Com. day. "Well, Mr Woods this looks like our Com. didn't it". Oh, says W., "Its all them horrid pieces in the papers that has done it. Wm Journal is out today with a most horrid piece, & I expect Mrs Spencer is swallowing it down like hot cakes this minute." You all read the "appeal" of course. Well, it hurt more than anything that has yet appeared. Touch a man's pocket, his receipts, & you touch a vital point. Pool & his subs were furious. Mr Kerr said it had a good effect abroad. McIver said it was powerful, he thought it the finest written thing of the kind he ever saw &

Page 6
worthy of Junius , & moreover only one person in the State cd have written it & that was Dr Hubbard . That Mr Pool was positive Dr H. wrote it & so was he. I replied that I could answer for Dr H. that he never saw it till it was in print. McIver said I must be mistaken. Well, Pool & Mason got up a rejoinder in the Standard, the most scurrilous thing I am told that has ever appeared. Attacking Dr H & Argo & all the old Faculty & me & everything connected with the old times. The old Faculty plundered the college. My brothers beneficiaries & I educated at its expense & now showing my ingratitude by writing it down, Dr Mitchell chief robber & plunderer, Dr H. "loitering round" here now in hopes of getting back, Argo sucking a living out of somebody, &c. I have not seen it nor wd read a line. Every body is laughing over it. McIver is sick, sick, sick! Soon after Dr H. came he asked his opinion privately about resigning. Dr advised him to hold on for the present. He says Brewer is going off to Cornell Uni. & Yale Coll & around generally to get up "plans & ideas". I asked how he was to put them in operation. Said he did'nt know. I said why did'nt he go too, all of em ought to go together & I would write their travels for them when they returned & entitle it "Travels of a Faculty in search of a College.["] McIver laughs

Page 7
at it so much as anybody. He is getting excluded from Mr. Pool's "ring". He is so universally excepted in all the attacks that the others are getting sore & stiff towards him. He told me Sat. he hardly ever saw any of them now. But that in F meetings they talked boastfully as ever. He has been made one of the C. Hill R.R. directors. And votes against Pool ! Pool is aghast at his temerity. McI. puts out his under lip & goes on. Do you know Holden has refused to issue the R.R. bonds. Do you know why? I dare say you don't, so I'll tell you. You do know that Thompson voted for himself for President. Well, and so Holden wanted Argo President. On the issue of the election Holden insisted that the votes shd be published. Now the attorney General (by Holden's direction) has taken the ground that there is no lawful inauguration of the R.R. Directors replied that there was, Directors, President, all quite regular. Atty. Gen. replied that no man cd vote himself into office & the election of Thompson was illegal & a farce, & so instructed Gov H. who thereupon refused to issue the bonds on that ground. It is before the S. Court now, & McIver says he hopes the Atty. G. will argue that point in court. He thinks Thompson's behaviour on the occasion disgraceful & "contemptible" & says he told Pool the other day he wd not be Director under a President who had voted himself in. McIver never

Page 8
had heard how T. got the place till this move of Holden's ! He & Argo read Law together but Argo never had mentioned the story, supposing of course that he knew it. Oh, let me not forget to mention that Mason went up on the Stage Com. day & sat down among the Trustees! Town folks so mad about it. And it is a fact that the furniture was taken out of the Di & Phi Halls for the Faculty parlors, & a fact that Patrick burst open the Phi Hall to get the velvet rugs & a piece of carpeting. He had taken the large velvet arm chairs, but on consideration, sent them back, Wed. evening. I asked Wm Barham, (who resigned Friday, & can therefore speak out) if it was all true & he said it was. It was done openly the Sat. before, the servants carrying the things about in broad daylight. Mr Mickle has let Patrick have all Mr Martin's furniture. I am surprised Martin wd let it go if there is any chance of his returning to this State. Barham said Mrs Patrick said in his hearing, "Wait till she got her parlor fixed & she wd be as big a frog as any in the pond". You never saw people more enraged than our villagers over that furniture raid at College. McIver declined to join it & is reported to have said when it was proposed, that the Trustees might sit on split-bottomed chairs at his house before he wd— use the Societies' things.

Page 9
Have just read Sat.'s Sentinel. My account of Com. is not as sharp as I thought it was. Perhaps all the better for that. I'll try to send you Wm Journal. I send with this the Biblical Recorder on the situation. Chs must read "Item" & tell me what he thinks. I wish your Com. was over. I hope you will give me as full an acct as I have of ours. I am not afraid of tiring you by any over-minuteness about our doings. A fine state of things for a letter written when he feels that he cannot say too much. I only wish I cd stereotype this letter for all the other ex-C. Hillians, Eliza & Mrs M., Mrs Swain, Mrs Battle, all. I had a pleasant letter from Mrs. Swain Sat. I wrote to her on old Com. day, & she was much gratified. Ellie has a daughter, born near the anniversary of the boy's death. Mrs Swain compliments Dr Hubbard so for writing the "appeal"!
I have read your letter about Mrs Smith's & Margt visit to half a dozen of your old friends. All so pleased & interested in it. Mrs Cave among others. She returned last Tuesday — been at Emily's ever since Nov. Came to see us Friday with Mrs. Caro. Patterson & very pleasant. Asked 100 questions about you & all other old neighbors now departed. She looks very well. Is going back to Clinton. Jane G's health is better just now.

Page 10
Wash. Davis's family is having chills & fever. That lot of Smith's is not a healthy one. I know how you must have enjoyed seeing Mrs S. How near & dear to each other you all must have felt. E. writes cheerfully about Mary, & I trust she will be quite restored. Her illness & the disease itself weighed upon my mind. I was frightened for her. I wish she wd come by C.H. on her way back. Would she? I forgot to tell you that Ralph Buxton brought his wife to see me. Very pleasant, he was so cordial & seemed so glad. Says Mrs Hall & Mary both look badly, old & feeble & sad. Mrs B. is very pretty & very gay & smart & patronizing. You know she writes for Standard. "[unrecovered]" — & they say the "grey mare is the better horse" altogether. They & Rodman & Kerr staid at McIver's. I would like to know how they were entertaind. Mrs Mc has no servant but the girl she bo't from D. I have seen her in but 2 frocks, one she had on in her one round of call-making, the other, the same old purple calico she had on at D. with dingy red flannel sleeves peeping out at the wrists. She wears low-gartered home-made shoes & so does her little girl, & home knit stockings with a white frock & rather fine hat! The child does look piteously. These fine people wear things Patricks & Pools rather look down on the McIvers you may depend. I think Brewer is next to McI. the best of the bunch. But think of the McIvers being the best. However you may rely on it Mr McIver is a good & reliable man.
June is now busy teaching Cely to write, working very hard with her. I miss Nora as I said, & love the child dearly, but I do enjoy having June all to myself a while! Selfish witch! Yes, I know it. Kate F. writes that her engagement is not broken off, but admits there is a coolness. Jule Carr in my opinion has no idea of "stepping in." He told me if it had'nt been for him & Miss Mollie Phillips it would have been broken off 8 mos ago. Do make a face at that as I did (without letting M. see you). Tank Carr is going to Henderson next session. The Carrs wd object violently to Jule's marrying Kate!
Best love to all. Do let me hear from some of you soon. 1000 kisses to Sue from me & June.

Ever yours,


Page 11
Wm Barham resigned for want of pay. No money for the coming. Is going to Wil as as as he can borrow money to pay expenses.

Page 12
No news of your white-handled knife. There is an old larger table knife of yours here.