The Golden Age of the Literary Societies 367
Euzelian Society for November 7, 1884: "The news comes that
Grover Cleveland is elected president of the United States and we
hastily adjourn to make an expression of our joy." Let one drop into
reading the minutes of either Society at any time and one finds that
their members were full of life and youthful spirits, even though in
some respects they approximated in their proceedings the decorum of
the most august assembly on earth.2
After 1913 provision was made by the faculty to credit a limited
amount of properly certified work in debate in the Societies, but no
great number ever took advantage of it.
The value of the work of the societies in the best period has often
been attested by the students of those years. The often heard statement
was that what one got out of the Society was more valuable to him
than what he learned in any department of study. Some have made
much stronger statements. Many of the testimonials of former
members have been published, sometimes in groups, as in the Wake
Forest College Bulletin, III, 214ff., in which Governor W. W.
Kitchin, Professor A. T. Robertson, Dr. D. R. Wallace, Congressman
E. Y. Webb, Dr. Irving Hardesty, Dr. H. A. Royster, Dr. J. T. J.
Battle, Dr. R. T. Vann, and Dr. L. G. Broughton make statements.
They speak of skill in public speaking, the habit of expressing oneself
naturally, with ease and without constraint or embarrassment, the
clash of mind against mind, training in organized methods of
procedure, the opportunity of becoming familiar with parliamentary
rules, whetting the blade of repartee, quickening the intellect, learning
to argue logically, intellectual enlargement, development and training
of all the powers that make for effective public speaking, and interest
in the great problems of life. In the classroom the student was
receptive and usually a mere hearer; the Society called for expression
and developed personality and confidence in one's
2 The catalogue statement with slight variation is this: "The Faculty regards the
Societies as important aids in the work of education and in the preservation of
wholesome sentiments among the students. It would be difficult to overestimate
their importance in imparting a knowledge of parliamentary law, in cultivating and
directing the taste for reading, and in the formation of correct habits of public
speaking," From catalogue of 1916-17.