The intellectual improvement of their members was the primary
purpose of the Societies, and this took the form of literary training. It
was in this that they attained their greatest distinction. Their excellent
libraries were in themselves a great stimulus to the young men and
offered opportunity for reading that was rare in those days. It was,
however, as aids and instruments in their regular programs of literary
Exercises that the Societies gathered their books.
These literary Exercises, as was usual in the literary societies of that
day, were debate, declamation, and dissertation. These were provided
for in every regular session. In addition there were other addresses
provided for as the Societies grew; addresses at the first meeting of
every month, at the beginning of each term, orations by members of
the Junior Class, speeches by the presidents on their inauguration, by
members saying farewell, and on the death of some member, and
public addresses at the Fourth of July, on Washington's birthday, and
orations, beginning in 1854, at Anniversary and declamations and
orations at the regular annual Commencements.
Before the end of this period both Societies discontinued their
declamations, the Philomathesians on September 27, 1851, and the
Euzelians on January 1, 1853. It is not known why this was done, but
possibly because in the general interest in debate declamation was
thought superfluous.1
The requirement of dissertations was more persistent. At first each
Society had one dissertation read at every regular meeting. In
October, 1841, the Euzelians authorized a change so that as many as
four dissertations might be provided for a meeting, and, on abolishing
declamations, they
1 After the Civil War, however, the declamations were resumed in both
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