Public Exercises 565
with every rolling sun, until at last he seems almost to lose himself behind and to
enter upon a new mode of existence.
The address before the Societies at the Commencement of 1841
was by James B. Shepard, who had graduated at the head of his class
at the University of North Carolina in 1834, and was the Democratic
candidate for Governor in 1846, but lost to W. A. Graham. He was
born in New Bern but made his residence in Raleigh. In his address he
discussed the faults of the system of university and college education
of the time. The following paragraph, somewhat abridged from the
original, will reveal the quality of Mr. Shepard's thinking, and at the
same time indicate the narrowing tendency of the secluded life of the
college students of his time:
One of the greatest defects in our system is that youth becomes too much
withdrawn from the duties of life. Confined with the prison bounds of a university
he has no associates but the deceased of other times and is unaccustomed to polite
society, and deprived of the familiar conversation of experienced men. Endowed
with all the useful branches and ready to storm―
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar,
he comes forth into the gay and busy world. The reputation acquired among his
fellows precedes his entrance upon the stage of life. Friends receive him with joy,
and strangers are on tiptoe to witness the demeanor of this young candidate for
renown; invitations rapidly succeed each other from those who desire an
acquaintance; some wish to win, others to conciliate. Having been for years
immured in the precincts of a college he is totally unknowing how to act. He
demands immediate deference to his opinion on matters of practical importance,
because his Mathematics and his Latin obtained it for him in a different theater.
Hoping to find obedience he meets with neglect, and soon begins to suppose that
people are too stupid to worship at the footstool of preeminent knowledge.
But perhaps no position can so well paint the effects of seclusion upon the
recluse as when thrown into the company of ladies. Instead of indulging in the light
and the facetious, he enters into a proxy
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