The Golden Age of the Literary Societies 373
the Euzelian Society and the second debater of the Philomathesian
Society upheld the affirmative of the question chosen for debate; in
the odd-numbered years the order was reversed. Usually the second
debaters were regarded as abler than the first debaters; they had come
into prominence earlier; if they did their part well in the debate the
place of orator for the next year came to them almost as a matter of
course.
Having gained the coveted places the orators and debaters lost no
time in beginning their preparation. Each was given the special
privilege of taking from the Library and keeping during vacation five
volumes of his choice. In those the orators each for himself tried to
find a subject and get thoughts for his oration. The debaters had
somewhat the advantage, since they agreed upon a query soon after
their election, and their reading was more definitely directed to a
mastery of the subject they would debate. On their return to the
College in September the members of each team would consult with
one another and agree on the part each was to have in the
presentation. Usually they would write their speeches, but it was
regarded as a weakness for a debater to use a manuscript. The second
speeches, however, were extempore and made from notes taken on
the opponent's presentation, and were often delivered with much spirit
and effectiveness, since all the. speakers were confident of their own
powers of invective and sarcasm and calm statement.
When the great day and the appointed hour had come, "When
before the mighty audience Alma Mater's youth
appear,"7
the debaters
were prepared. And the audience was mighty; Memorial Hall was
filled to capacity. Often the occasion was honored by the presence of
a governor, a justice of the Supreme Court of the State, many able
lawyers and preachers, and if it was an oddnumbered year, by not a
few members of the State Legislature.
―――――――
7 From some lines on "Anniversary" by G. W. P., Wake Forest Student,
XXII, 269. The four lines are:
Golden day of rest and gladness, longed for all the busy year, When before the
mighty audience Alma Mater's youth appear; Day of mellow eyes, and voices
falling sweet upon the soul,
When we feast our hearts with gladness, earnest of life's blessed goal.
Previous Page Next Page