Literary Work 539
for a short time when they found themselves sufficiently numerous to
reduce the fine to ten cents. Sometimes the fagged-out secretary was
betrayed into writing into the minutes such expressions as "after a
long discussion and at last a tiresome one, the question was decided in
the Negative by a majority of 14,"6 and thus General Scott was
declared to have had a more brilliant record in Mexico than Cortez.
Two months later another secretary wrote, "Critical remarks were
submitted for a long time." Again, in September of the same year,
"after a long discussion," it was decided that Titus Manlius was justly
executed.
On the other hand the participants in the discussions felt none of
this weariness; they were in the game to the last, and if defeated
would sometimes have called for a reconsideration in the vote at a
subsequent meeting had the laws of the Society allowed it. In many
instances they brought the same question back for debate in a few
weeks.
The questions debated were on a great variety of subjects, any that
were suggested by the books or periodicals in the libraries. The
greater number were questions of current interest, questions affecting
the College, the State and the United States, questions moral and
religious, philosophical and scientific, educational, social, political,
national and international. In fact, a reading of the questions in their
sequence would almost enable one to reconstruct the economic,
social, educational, and political life of the State and the nation; they
bring the reader into intimate relationship with the young men of that
day and reveal to us the mind and aspirations, the social, political and
sectional and religious views and prejudices, of these antebellum
young men.
Although early regulations of both Societies forbade the discussion
of controverted religious questions, yet it is evident from the queries
that restriction did not apply to questions about atheists and Roman
Catholics, and Mormons. The Philomathesians never added any other
restriction, but the Euzelians in
―――――――
6 Eu. Records, August 8,
1857.
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