Commencements 279
of the chapel, the benches in the grove and the rustic seats were
occupied by happy couples; the girls and the boys, the old bachelors
and the old maids, the widowers and the widows, in dual
In the report of the reception of 1869 Mills speaks of
"old men with glasses, old women with caps, young men with canes,
young women with curls, and a countless multitude of belles and
beaux of the Early York order." Many now living can testify that not a
few older people were present at the receptions of their day, more
women than men, all dressed in their best and alone of those present
bountifully powdered. They did not promenade indeed but occupied
seats in the halls and beamed with smiles on the young people,
seeming to understand.
In the sixties and seventies young people were much readier to
marry than now, and they used these commencement receptions as
periods of courtship. The older people, those in positions of influence,
looked on with approval and satisfaction. The following from the
Biblical Recorder of July 3, 1872, though somewhat exaggerated,
reveals at least one phase of these occasions, and at the same time
indicates the readiness of wise and sane moral and religious leaders
like J. H. Mills, the father of orphanage work in North Carolina, to
encourage the young to marry
Thursday Evening. This is the great day of the feast. One hundred girls have
come here on purpose to be courted-some with matrimony in view, others looking
to pleasant flirtation. As for the boys, at present
Their only books
Are women's looks,
And love is all they teach them.
The Halls, the passages and the Chapel are illuminated and dazzling with
resplendent beauty. Even the sober-minded agricultural editor of the Biblical
Recorder [Dr. W. T. Walters], having forgotten to send the usual amount of copy
for this week, is among the ladies, and actually introduces one long known as a
neighbor by the name of another who is 100 miles from the College. Here sits a lady
fresh from the mountains, who is utterly amazed at the display of Grecian bends,
Dolly Vardens and chignons.
20 Compare Biblical Recorder, June 17, 1868, and June 16, 1869.
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