The Golden Age of the Literary Societies 377
The speeches were usually good, not so labored as the orations at
Anniversary and not more than ten minutes in length. They were
nearly always reported for the Biblical Recorder, the Wake Forest
Student and many of the county papers, with comprehensive outlines
and comments. The proverbial freshmen were dazed by the array of
grave and reverend seniors and hoped that they might see the day
when they might do as well as the senior speakers. The young ladies
present were much pleased, especially with those speakers who
introduced finely-worded references to them in their speeches, as they
often did. Sometimes a speaker relieved the constraint by discussing a
humorous subject, as did E. H. Bowling, in April, 1887, when he
discussed the two wonders of the world, music and mules. "Nature's
second wonder," he said, "I approach with awe-especially his rear. It
is as natural for a mule to kick as it is for a Negro to vote the
Republican ticket." At the same speaking D. A. Pittard told the
members of the senior class that they would not figure very
prominently shut up in a bachelor's hall, and that they must start right
and get married. He had two resolutions for each member of the class
to sign, one that he would court two girls on Thursday night of
Commencement, the other that he would get married within two
years. A rare youth, now and then, would discuss such a subject as the
"Power of the Will," in a profound way, as W. R. Walters did at the
speaking in December, 1882, bringing the following criticism from
the befuddled reporter: "He produced a speech that did credit to his
manner of thinking. After expatiating on the potentialities of will in
the abstract, he illustrated his subject by some striking examples from
history. The speaker delights in the logical aspects of things and finds
his poetry in the scintillations of reason." At the speaking in October,
1886, J. B. Carlyle discussed "Our Republic" in rhyme, for which the
critic did not venture other criticism than that it was an innovation,
and "This gentleman seems to be a favorite of the muses," more being
unnecessary since the poem was published entire in the Wake Forest
Student. Usually, however, the speeches were brief, well sustained
discussions of timely topics. Some of
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