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Title: Valedictory Speech of Peter King Rounsaville, June 5, 1844: Electronic Edition.
Author: Rounsaville, Peter King, 1824-1867
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
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Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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2005-06-15, Amanda Page 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: Valedictory Speech of Peter King Rounsaville, June 5, 1844
Author: Peter King Rounsaville
Description: 15 pages, 16 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Valedictory Speech of Peter King Rounsaville , June 5, 1844
Rounsaville, Peter King, 1824-1867

Page 1

Mr. President & Fellow Members,

As the Representative of a revered and honoured class, I rise to announce to you, the painful and melancholy intelligence, which doubtless you have too truly anticipated. Viz. that the amicable connexions which we may have formed for one and another in the space of four years will no longer be exercised or strengthened together. That our collegiate career is finished, the Days of our Pilgrimage here are numbered, and a few transient moments only are left us: to exchange the last fond look — to dwell in sweet communion — to indulge the deep emotions of the soul — and to impart the last offerings of duty and affection, which we owe to you and the Society of which we are all members. Yet how short and fleeting are these moments! How harrowing is the thought that we part to meet no more! How startling and thrilling the annunciation, that the links which have hitherto connected the social relations of our fraternity are destined to receive the painful stroke of dismemberment. But, a termination has not only come to these but likewise to our existence as a Body. This night will witness our dissolution, this night perhaps will witness a Union severed — a Body separated which will never be wholly united again.
We who have received the full measure of the honours and privileges of our Society must now gird on her intellectual armour of "Virtue and Science" and embarking with all our hopes and fears on the untried ocean of

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future experience, present our kindly offerings at other shrines. But to you whom we must leave behind, we commit the sacred trusts of the Society, cherishing the hope that you will guard them with vestal vigilance and defend her Laws and Constitution as the Palladium of her existence and prosperity. For as they are just and liberal in all their provisions and requirements, they should elicit your attachment as they have been made and matured by the wisdom and experience of the past, they should command your respect but as your sacred honour is pledged the noble and high-minded principles of your hearts should yield to them obedience and veneration. Let not their sacred injunctions fall unheeded in your ears, but by manifesting a strict observance of them evince that to "enjoy you have first learned to obey."
And we hope that you will preserve and perpetuate that harmony and good-feeling which have generally characterized our intercourse with one and another. That frankness, courtesy to each other, discretion as well as firmness and the strongest disposition to harmonize with each other shall preside over all your deliberations and regulate your actions. And that he may win the applause and gratitude of your hearts whose amiable demeanour and happy temperament can preserve harmony in your body.
We would in the first place caution you to suffer not envy and selfish motives to array themselves against the generous feelings of your nature — thereby prisoning the sources of true friendship and producing a spirit of malignity and detraction. Consider that the influence and standing of the

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Society depend upon the superior merit and distinction of her members. And that in proportion as you indulge envious feelings towards your fellow members and fatten upon the fruits of malignant detraction, so you are warning against the interests and prosperity of your Society. Strive more especially to disseminate only where virtue and merit display themselves and in so doing you will offer those pure and noble inducements which it is the pride of your Society that she has always extended to her votaries.
Again bear in mind that for the inducements which were partly held out here, you have consented to leave your peaceful and happy homes where innocent and free you sported merrily along the sunny hills and green pastures of life's fondest and dearest recollections, where the vigilance of a parent's care or the tenderness of a Brother's or Sister's affection have entwined themselves around your hearts, that you might associate yourselves in the cultivation and attainment of that discipline and knowledge which shall prepare you to assume an eminent position in the great Society of the human family. Weigh well then the magnitude and importance of this mission here and disappoint not your fair expectations by idle neglect and inactive ease.
If some of you more gifted than others shall set out with fairer prospects of success, winning the applause of merit and talent let not this damper your ardour nor discourage your efforts, nor cause your spirits to grow weary in the contest. Slow, plodding perseverance and resolution often outstrip the swift and well-gifted in the race. Only keep before your minds the various objects of a noble career, the honours to be won, the benefit to be derived from the present, and the incalculable

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ones in the distant future and then resolve to act well your parts. Rise superior to nature and to nature's gifts gifts. You may improve her blessings and remedy her imperfections. And assuming confidence from a laudable ambition to excel enter the lists determined to engage in them be it for weal or woe. In this way only will you avail yourselves of the full benefits of Society.
By an early exercise of speech, you will acquire a facility in delivery and a fluency in language, both of which are essentially necessary to the becoming expert and ready Debaters. In like manner by early accustoming yourselves to the improving employment of c[unrecovered]ing your thoughts to writing and clothing them in the fascinating apparel of language you will become easy and elegant Writers. But "expect not that age will perform the promises of youth, or that the deficiencies of the present Day will be supplied by the morrow."
Remember that here you pass through that discipline preparatory to entering the field of controversy and the stage of public discussion, and that while you sit admiring the brilliant efforts and happy displays of others without manifesting a disposition to participate therein you are slighting the genius within. You are beholding others arming themselves with those instruments which in future they will more successfully wield, and at the same time you are yielding to them the full position of privileges equally yours — permitting them to excel you in noble exertion and ardent devotion to the "love of Virtue and Science.
And while you should give diligent and unceasing attention to all Society duties and requisitions, yet you should in no manner misimprove the facilities afforded

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you for acquiring useful and general information. Draw deeply and copiously from those sources of Literature and Science treasured up here in your Library. Endeavour to acquire there from that degree of intelligence and information which shall make you accomplished and efficient members of Society, serviceable Agents in the future transactions of business, and more especially which will enable you to diffuse the benefits of knowledge in the circles of your acquaintance.
The inducements presented here are extensive and inviting to every diversity of mind and variety of taste. Here are the philosophy and wisdom of the Great and Good of every age and clime — the profound sentiments and reflections of Jurists and Statesmen — the lofty eloquence of Orators — the sublime effusions and contemplations of Poets and Novellists and the extensive researches of the Historian — the Scholar and Man of Science thus affording expansion to the mind, indulgence to the fancy, and enlightenment and refinement to the literary taste.
Add to these facilities the solid learning, the discriminating criticisms, and the astonishing and successful discoveries and results in Science in the Nineteenth Century so elegantly compiled and embodied in the Quarterly Reviews and Magazines of European and American presses, and you may exult in the enjoyment of treasures in the possession of few. Go then to these Writings and Chronicles of the great and immortal Dead, dwell in sweet communion with them reveling in the rich reflections of the past, and prophecying

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in the joyful anticipations of the future.
If however the numerous advantages presented here are not sufficient inducements to awaken you to noble and strenuous exertion, if the prize of literary merit wears no fascinating charm in your estimation, and if the promptings of a laudable ambition palpitate not in your bosoms, then gratitude to those parents whose hope and stay this side of eternity are your prosperity and well-being should appeal to every generous impulse of your nature. For how often do youth trifle with the most inestimable blessings of their parents and benefactors, and adding care to ingratitude "bring down their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave". How much more often still do they forget in inglorious ease the great objects of their destiny and passing listlessly through the vale of Life alive to none of its real incitements and fascinations but,
"In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolve and reresolve then die the same."
But, Fellow Members, there is an inscrutable and All-wise Being whose solemn ordinances and holy injunctions it would be folly to oppose by whom we are reminded, "Of the vast concerns of an eternal scene" and whose awful dispensation recently in our midst we have been brought so sensitively to feel and regret. Scarce eight months since and of the numerous and lively group whose voices commingle here in meekly and harmonious intercourse there was one whose youth rejoicing in the vigour and bloom of health, whose hopes, joys, fervid anticipations, perhaps glow ambition united to the many amiable and worthy

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traits of his character spread out before him long-life and usefulness. And while calmn and sweet repose hovered o'er our unsuspecting breasts the poisonous shaft of Death had singled out its victim, and in its deadly stroke we witnessed his crushed aspirations — his melancholy close.
When the pride of the forest is preyed upon by the worm, we are not pained by its gradual decay. The rude tempest passes by and it falls in the beauty of its foliage. But we have far different emotions when we survey the prostrate trunk which has been scathed and withers and see that the brightest prospects of his life were over cast, almost as soon as his morning sun had arisen.
How soon the dawn that shone so bright,
Is veiled in silent gloom
How soon a Father's hope and light
Sink in the darkness of the tomb. Percival.
Then, Fellow Members, let its solemn teachings, its sad recollections, perhaps its bitter disappointments remind you of the destiny and end which await you all; and teach you that while replenishing your minds with intellectual wealth, you should not neglect to secure an interest in that inheritance which is the Christian's hope and the crown of his immortal glory. Take then the Word of Life as the Man of your counsel and the Lamp of your feet and it will guide and conduct you where affliction is eased of its pains and the weary are at rest. Farewell!

Transient and Honorary Members,

If as the pilgrim you feel your zeal warmed and your spirits enkindled in revisiting the shrine of early and ardent devotion, what must be the feelings

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and emotions of the youthful votaries of "Science" in welcoming you again in these hallowed Walls. How cheering and how flattering to see in our midst those, who having left the sunny acclivity of public honours, the active and pressing calls of business, or the still more inviting shades of Literary retirement, have returned full of honours and years to participate in the festival of their youthful Brethren. Such a manifestation of your devotion and interest is worthy of your noble and generous hearts, indicative of unfeigned reverence for the past, and a grateful tribute to your memory whose recollections of past associations and pleasures have not grown dim by age or been forgotten in the engrossing transactions of life.
But we hope that you have also returned to manifest your generosity and philanthropy in extending to us a cordial greeting in the great Citizenship of the human family. That you have come prepared to clothe us with the parental garb of your protection, and to offer us those counsels and that experience which age and observation have assisted you in acquiring. For how else could you so well display your patriotism or gratitude to the Dialectic Society than in instilling those principles into the hearts of her youthful Members which will lead them to true honour and nobleness. As for us, we rely with all the unsuspecting confidence of youth and inexperience on your sympathy and friendship in intrusting ourselves to the cold charities of a vacillating world. We may disappoint the fond and high expectations entertained of us. We may descend to the grave without a pitying eye to mourn our loss or weep over our misfortunes, but O! how embittered will be

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your recollections in reflecting that perhaps your timely influence might have arrested our foundering barque amidst the darkness and tempest and moored it safely in the haven of hope and security. Then I beseech you to look into your own benevolent hearts and you will find arguments more convincing than any I can offer in behalf of those whose cause I advocate.
Arouse the deeper heart
Confirm the spirit glorying to pursue
Some path of steep ascent and lofty aim
And if there be a joy that slights the claim
Of grateful memory bid that joy depart. Young.
Thus we greet you, and we also sollicit your kindness and generosity in anticipation of that meeting and intercourse as fellow Citizens on the highways of life where we will shortly join you — travellers of time and eternity never all again to assemble until the trump of the Archangel shall sound. At that dread and awful sound may we all arise with "joy unspeakable and full of glory." In the behalf of my classmates I bid you an affectionate Farewell!

My Esteemed Classmates,

Is all this to be at end? Is this golden band of kindred sympathies and warm attachments so rare between friends to be broken forever? Perhaps it is for the best, it may dispel an allusion which might have kept us in mental vassalage, which might have taught us to indulge and cherish hopes destined now to be disappointed. But it is hard to give up the kindred tie! And there are feelings dearer than interest, closer to the heart

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than pride, that will still make us cast back a look of regret as we wander farther and farther from the scenes which we shall leave behind and friends from whom we have parted.
But we go not hence to forget the pleasant associations formed here nor to dissolve the classic charms which shall still linger around the beloved garden of thought and Elysium of youthful imagination, nor yet even to devote to inglorious ease the bright prospects of future honors; but to enter the arena of more active and vigorous exertion to call into exercise those instruments of Virtue and Intellect which it has been our diligent study to pursue and posess.
We have now reached that period of life a more disengaged but a more arduous station from which lies open before us the "double road of active life". One branch at first even and level will conduct us to places precipitous and impassible. The other though steep and rough at the entrance will terminate in perfect smoothness. Thus, he who takes hold of fixed principles and pursues with undeviating footsteps the second of these will find his station serene, his prospects delightful, and his descent to all the practical attainments perfectly easy. This we are encouraged to do as the great objects of our destiny are scarce yet commenced. We have ran one race nobly, accomplished one achievement, but a more trying and important one awaits us in the adventurous career of life.
There is an expectant and anxious throng who are awaiting at the goal to welcome and receive us into the participation of all their fortunes and pleasures. Kind and indulgent parents to bless, warm and devoted friends to

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cheer and speed us on, and a grateful country ready to crown the labours of approved and deserving mind with the highest manifestation of her applause and confidence.
But then to meet these there is much expected of us. We are expected to return laden with the fruits and seed of well-spent labour time, and to offer on the Altars of gratitude and affection those kindly offerings which their benevolence and sacrifices have assisted us so eminently in procuring. We are expected to return from these seats of Learning with minds well stored and disciplined in knowledge and science, prepared in time to assume a prominent part in the affairs and transactions of our country. That the kindly influence of these may fall and flourish in the waste places of ignorance and depravity to the advancement of Letters and the melioration of mankind. And it should be expected of us (being no less our duty) to use our endeavors in the removal of those deep rooted prejudices which hold the misguided intellects of our Countrymen in mental vassalage. The true objects and purposes of Education should be explained and enforced by us who have felt most their influences.
Then we may be assured that no feeble and irresponsible task lies before us. To sit down now and conclude to pass the rest of our days in inglorious ease should justly elicit the severest reproaches of the present and future. For in so doing we should prove no less recreant to our parents and friends than destitute of patriotism and the great objects of our creation.
Let those of us therefore who have performed well the various objects of our mission here, set out in the more

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important before us; continuing steadfastly in the acquisition of knowledge and in the pursuit of fame, and we may be assured that our industry and perseverance will be crowned with success. Those of us per contra who have been improvident should hasten to retrieve our loss by renewed energy and spirit and we too may share in the prizes of merit. There is no vocation or sphere in life in which we may not render ourselves useful — none which if occupied by talents and ability which may not become honourable. For it is the capacity which a man brings to the discharge of his duties which elevates and dignifies his character, and not merely the possession of a high and responsible trust. It becomes in consideration of our favoured privileges to make ourselves useful in some relation to the great human family — to have always some fixed object in view in the attainment of which our minds are enlisted. And keeping this constantly before us suffer not envy and sordid motives to allure us from the path of rectitude. If it should be our fortune to be interested with public confidence then patriotism should actuate our hearts in the performance of our duties. But if per contra disappointment should succeed our aspiring efforts to this should not lessen our devotion and love to the institutions of our Country nor in any manner divest us of those generous and highminded feelings which constitute the distinguishing characteristics of real worth and true greatness. Let us rather seek to imitate Washington and Hampden who "neither sought nor shunned greatness, who found glory only because glory lay in the path of duty."

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We have a wide and extensive field for noble exertion and spirited adventure, promising rich rewards and crowing honours to all who will diligently labour therein. Our choice of a profession or vocation though should be adapted to the peculiar talents and capacities with which we may be endowed — so as to secure the most credit to ourselves and benefit to others. In none will we meet with success unless we persevere.
The Science of Law will open up the great highway to all the honours and trusts of public distinction, but it requires unbounded devotion from those who desire to attain eminence in that Science which "has its seat in the bosom of God" and whose "voice is the harmony of the world."
Medicine will unfold an extensive field for the exercise of that skill and those attainments which relieve suffering nature from the afflictions of disease, develop the charitable feelings of the heart, and promote the extended blessings of humanity and philanthropy.
The sacred calling of the Ministry instituted by the Saviour of the world and occupied and adorned so usefully and gloriously by him is also worthy of our highest consideration, affording a theatre for charity, philanthropy, and all the virtues of the heart more glorious and renowning than all the acquisitions of terrestrial greatness. For panoplied in the strong armor of the Christian hope, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit what need intimidate us, what cause more noble and humane could inspire us, what achievements more illustrious, or rewards more blissful and enduring than are prepared for our coming.

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If however none of these shall engage our attention and pursuit then we may go to the inviting shades of sweet retirement where unmolested by the conflicting opinions of party strife we may pleasure in the dignified pursuits of Science and in the indulgence of those charities of the Soul which spread peace and contentment in the private walks of life.
But, My Classmates, whatever may be our pursuits there are certain moral principles of action without which it is to be feared we will miss the mark of the prize of our high calling. Fortified however with a good heart and a sound understanding, we have nothing to fear from the shafts of envy and virulence which may assail us. We shall pass untouched through the fiery elements of malignity and come forth brighter to all and dearer to our friends.
It is the mark of a truly great mind to dare to be virtuous at the expense of reputation. It matters not what opinions others may entertain of the purity of our motives, the integrity of our purpose, or the correctness of our moral principles. These it becomes us to regulate by our own consciousness of right regardless of men. Let us be "just and fear not. Let all the ends we aim at be our Country's, our God's, and Truth's."
Need we also be reminded of that ordeal or vice through whose seductive enticements we must all pass. Yet few possess the prudence and unyielding firmness requisite to pass it in safety. We may be assured however that character derives much of its luster and fortunes much or their elevation from the untainted purity and irreproachableness of youth. Masculine virtue is a necessity to real eminence as a powerful intellect. And he that is

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deficient in either will never unless from the influence of fortuitous circumstances be able to place and maintain himself at the head of Society. He may rise and flourish for a time, but his fall is as certain as his descent to the grave.
Then let the voice of reason and experience warn us to shun the dangers that lurk around us, and conduct us in the ways of pleasantness and in the paths of virtue and happiness.
But why trespass longer on your indulgence, why endeavour to depict the mysteries which belong to the future when in so doing I delay but a few brief moments that solemn and funeral like procession which we shall exhibit in passing without these walls.
Now, My Classmates, let us go hence and mindful of our duty let us endeavour to perform it. But let us not forget the circumstances under which we part. If a common misfortune can reconcile enemies it must strengthen and invigorate the attachments of friends and brothers. Let us cherish for each other the kindest feelings of our hearts and bury in one common grave the frivolous antipathies of youth. Let us persevere in the inmost recesses of our hearts the amicable connexions formed here. And when the hour of adversity shall darken the horizon of our hopes, and the inconstancy of fortunes favours shall visit us, then will we deplore each other's fate with that silent, but eloquent and heart-felt mark of affection — a tear.

Classmates Farewell!

"A sound that must be and hath been
A sound which makes us linger yet, Farewell!"

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Valedictory to the Senior Class, &
Delivered by
Peter King Rounsaville .
In Aula Dialectica
Wednesday Night, June 5th 1844.

Louis B. Holt. Died 6 A 14th—43.