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Title: "The Journal of a Day," Class Composition of Thomas W. Mason, [1856]: Electronic Edition.
Author: Mason, Thomas Williams, 1839-1921
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann, Susan Pearsall, and Steven Daniels
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 40K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English French Greek
Revision history:
2005-04-22, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: Sally Long Jarman Papers (#4005), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "The Journal of a Day," Class Composition of Thomas W. Mason, [1856]
Author: Thomas W. Mason
Description: 9 pages, 9 page images
Note: Call number 4005 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Buildings and Grounds
Education/UNC Curriculum
Education/UNC Student Life
Politics and Government/Political Parties and Party Spirit
Examples of Student Writing/Compositions, Examples of
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the class composition. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
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Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
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All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Mason's class composition details a day in the life of a student, describing scenes in the college chapel and dining hall as well as in Greek, French, and mathematics classes.
"The Journal of a Day," Class Composition of Thomas W. Mason , [1856]1

Mason, Thomas Williams, 1839-1921

Page 1


The Journal of a day
College may be called a world in miniature. Although the different formations of man, mentally and physically, may not be as strikingly portrayed there, although the occupations of those there may be different, still, it must be admitted, the scenes there enacted correspond in a measure to those enacted on the world's stage.2 It may, therefore, be interesting to exhibit a drama3 of the real occurences4 of a single day at college; so as to show how its actors correspond to those in the great drama of the world.
Our scene is first laid in the College Chapel, where all have assembled, in the morning, to return due thanks to God for his past benefits and to ask his favour in the several duties in which they are about to engage. The man of God commences his prayer. Then cast your eye over that large assembly: and what do you see? Some are attentive, as though they felt the solemnity of the scene, some appear careless, are perhaps asleep, while some are offering5 real insult to the sanctity of the place by some unbecoming conduct. There are true christians, careless believers and real6 sinners. The prayer is ended and all are ready to repair to their several duties, as the farmer to his plough,7 the mechanick8 to his plane, the merchant to his store-house.

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Our next scene opens with a crowd of loiterers, standing out9 in front of one of the College buildings, who, instead of repairing to their rooms to prepare their lessons, have stoped10 to witness a dog fight and decide to which of the combatants, the palm leaf11 of victory is due; whether to the growling, black-spotted bull-dog or the whining, diminutive fice,12 "with a ring 'round his neck". This important question being decidedly fairly and satisfactorly, The13 next topic of discussion is—the politicks14 of the day: and there the subject of Known Nothingism is very naturally introduced. Provident Young America, alias Know Nothing, roars—Down with Catholicism , and breathes forth eternal curses on the head of the poor foreigner, who seeks shelter under the folds of "the tri-colored flag", while the patriotic young Democrat cries—Away with religous intolerance, this is the home of the oppressed of all nations.15 The discussion grows warmer and warmer, the crowd grows larger and larger, even a fight seems brooding; when a brawny African suddenly seizes the bell-rope and immediately the crowd disperse, all hurrying to their several recitation rooms.
The curtain is again drawn and we find ourselves in Prof. B__s recitation room. There are between thirty and forty Students in the room.16 The recitation commences. Prof. B__. calls upon Mr. M__.. With the aid of the Prof. and by frequent reference to a translation, ingeniously sliped17 into his book, M__. stumbles over a sentence in Demosthenes. Prof B__. concludes that he does

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not feel the fire of the Orator, asks the force of "μεν and δε", the meaning of "και δε και", the 18th rule of Euphony,18 delivers a short lecture on manners19 and customs at Athens and then allows the gentleman to take his seat. He next calls on Mr. J__. who, very modestly, declines the honour of reciting. Mr. L__. is next called upon, who makes a very good recitation and receives the just approbation of the Prof. , much to his own satisfaction. Mr. W__. is next asked to give a proof of how20 he has been spending his time. W__. is very ambitious and wishes to make a good recitation; but he has taken up so much time about the dog fight and politicks,21 that he is altogether unprepared to recite. He finds that he cannot translate the sentence before him and Prof. 22 seems determined not to help him. A long pause ensues, in which he feels all the gnawings of an ungratified ambition. All eyes are turned upon him, as if in anxious expectation of something important. Tired out with waiting to hear something, some of the members commence a loud whispering in regard to who shall be the Marshal at the next Commencement. Prof. informs the gentlemen that he and Mr. W__. have the floor by relating the story of the Preacher and the Jackass. After awhile W__. with much difficulty, gets through with his sentence, saying within himself—I will not again neglect my lesson to gratify idle curiosity. A loud whispering has now commenced all over the room, which23 Prof. can hardly suppress.

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He then calls on Mr. S__.; but before the gentleman has time to speak for himself, the bell announces the hour of breakfast and all rush precipitably out of the room. Our24 next scene is laid in front of Miss H__.s boarding-house,25 where a large number of students are crowded together, as if witnessing something of an exciting nature. The truth is, that one of the students has insulted another by calling him—Fresh and the insulted is trying to redress grievances. The excitement increases in proportion as the crowd grows larger. Some are in favour of their seeking satisfaction by, fighting it out; while others wish the affair to be settled amicably. The air is rent with the frightful cry of, fight! fight! The mob of Paris, during the French revolution, could hardly have presented a more exciting scene, in proportion to its size. It seems that the excitement will never cease. At length, however, some friends of both parties bring the opponents together and the affair is settled, at least for awhile. The excitement then begins to cool down in proportion as the crowd grows smaller and by degrees all retire from the scene of action; the occurrence having afforded each one a wide and26 exciting theme for discussion during the remainder of the day.
Our next scene opens again with a crowd of young men, with books in their hands, awaiting the ringing of the bell for recitation. They have been standing there some length of27 time, doing nothing at all. From close examination, it will be discovered that most of them are inclined to be idlers. They could not find employment in their rooms and they

Page 5
have assembled, as men frequently do, simply "to hear and be heard". It is therefore, natural to suppose that their conversation will be upon light and trivial subjects. One time-honored Sophomore is relating some marvelous tale, of "a spree" that he had in days gone by, when a Fresh, of how he rung the Bell all night and so craftily evaded the almost super-human vigilance of the Faculty by withdrawing into the upper story of the Belfry when they came near; while gaping young Freshmen catch at and swallow his words, exciting within in them a spirit of emulation to follow his most glorious example. "What man has done, man can do," they proudly say within themselves, thinking little of the consequences. Thus do they while away the time with the sickening gossip of college, until the bell announces the hour of recitation and they all repair thither.
The curtain being again drawn, discloses a scene in Prof H__s recitation room. The Prof. is seated on a high rostrum, assuming all the dignity of his lofty station. His class consists of between thirty and forty young men of all sorts of characters and dispositions.28 one is grave and sober, another all fume and fuss, another delighting in his wit, another trifling beyond all tolerance. After calling the roll Prof. 29 commences the recitation. He calls upon Mr.30 G__. to translate some English sentences into French; which Mr. G__. does admirably well no less to his own satisfaction than to that of Prof. 31 Mr.32 H__. is next called upon. He could

Page 6
probably write the exercise very well, but makes some awful mistakes in pronunciation, much to the amusement of Prof. 33 and his own discomforture. The recitation thus proceeds until at last the celebrated wit of the class is called upon, Mr. J__. Prof 34 asks him to translate the sentence, Have you the bad butter,35 into French. Mr. J__. replies—Avez-vous le vieux beurre. Prof. informs the gentleman that vieux means old. Mr. J__. startles him with the brilliancy of his wit by informing him in return that, old butter is generally bad. Prof. 36 is forced to acknowledge the wit of his remark, and J__. takes his seat amid the applause of his class-mates, feeling highly gratified with his performance. Prof. 37 has hardly suppressed their loud congratulations, when the bell rings and all leave the room, seeming highly honoured at having so brilliant an intellect among them.
We next disclose a dining-room scene. About a hundred & fifty students are standing at the door of the dining-room, ready to rush in at the first sound of the Bell. The Bell rings and all rush in together, as if determined to devour the food in a moment. The tales of the Harpies, themselves presents not a greedier picture. The Lady of the house tries to restore some order; but her cries only resemble those of the frightened sea-fowl amid the roar of the tempest. All is confusion and nothing is heard save the clashing of knives and forks. Every one seems

Page 7
determined to do ample justice to the cause of eating. There is no hog of the Epicurean herd, that who would not be surprised at the scene. The clash of the eating utensils is, ever and anon, drowned amid the cries of the eaters for more to consume.38 Figuratively speaking, the plates and dishes may be said to shrink from the grasp of those who seem ready to devour them. At length the demands of the stomach are satisfied, and by degrees they all retire, leaving marks of their ravages behind them, and all repair to their rooms to await the announcement by the Bell of the time for the next recitation.
The ringing of the Bell and the hurrying of the students to their respective recitation rooms, opens our next scene. We follow one particular crowd and soon find ourselves in Dr P__s mathematical recitation room. The Dr is a venerable old man with hoary locks, wears spectacles and looks all the time as though he were trying to discover, according to mathematical rules, whether or not the moon is inhabited or something else beyond human reach. All respect him for his virtues and admire him for his talents. His class consists of about thirty, most of them distinguished for their standing in their class. The recitation commences. Mr. A__. is first called upon. He has been diligent in the performance of the duty assigned him, and the consequence is that he makes a good

Page 8
recitation and sits down with a self approving conscience to urge him on to greater exertion. Dr P__. next calls on Mr. W__. who has been spending his time idly and consequently feels that he is entirely unprepared to recite. He however puts on a bold face and appears on the floor. The proposition is given to him and he reluctantly approaches the black-board. Oh! how he is mortified to have to show his ignorance to the class, oh! how he wishes that he had have39 studied the lesson more. In vain does he try to scratch up ideas in his head, in vain does he look imploringly at the piece of chalk in his hand, as if he would beseech it to guide his hand rightly instead of he40 guiding it. But no aid comes. At last the Dr asks him if he is ready to explain. He replies, yes, and straightway proceeds to the best of his ability; but, like a man walking in the dark, he stumbles over every obstacle. The Dr discovers his want of information and endeavors to assist him; but he knows so little about it that he cannot appreciate what the Dr says. At length however the Dr succeeds in making him understand something about it, when W__. is allowed to take his seat, much mortified and disheartened at having made so bad a recitation. Thus the recitation proceeds, every one who is called upon having to give a proof how41 he has been spending

Page 9
his time, whether profitably or otherwise. The Dr is just getting in42 a fair way to give one poor fellow what we call in familiar phrase, "particular goss", when some guardian angel, having heard his prayers for deliverance, lends wings to the tardy moments: and the sound of the same old Bell, so sweet43 to his ears, is heard again, announcing the hour for evening prayers. All, bidding the Dr an affectionate farewell for the evening, leave the room.
Our last scene opens again in the Chapel with evening prayers. Ah! what a happy throng, just released from the stern duties of the day. Every one seems to wear a smile on his countenance, and even the poor fellow who has made a bad recitation forgets his mortification in the general glee. The prayer is ended and we leave them all hurrying away to partake of the evening meal.
In this detail it has been ours44 to show how the characters of the students at College correspond to the characters of those out in world.45 That at college, as out in world,46 there are the idle who have no energy, the fickle-minded and meddlesome who, for want of proper employment, are ever ready to jump into any kind of excitement, but best of all that there are those, ever ready to perform well the duties incumbent upon them. Thus may college in truth be called—a word47 in miniature.


1. Sally Long Jarman Papers, SHC. The essay of nine numbered pages is undated but was written in the spring semester of Mason's sophomore year, when, according to University catalogues, Mason would have been studying "English Composition," Greek ("Homer's Iliad" and "Demosthenes' Select Orations"), French "Grammar and Fables," and mathematics (trigonometry, geometry, and calculus). The essay shows pencilled corrections in the hand of John Thomas Wheat , professor of rhetoric and logic, who wrote at the bottom of the last page "Excellent." A 3 1/2-page draft of the essay, also titled "Journal of a day," is housed in the Sally Long Jarman Papers, SHC, which also contain approximately sixty of Mason's compositions and a collection of his poetry. Though most of this work is undated, much of it was written while Mason was a University student; twelve of Mason's compositions show corrections by Professor Wheat .

2. Wheat revised in pencil the beginning of Mason's second sentence to read as follows: "Although the different characteristics of men, mental and physical, may not be so strikingly portrayed here, and although their occupations may be different."

3. Wheat inserted tic sketch after drama, preferring "a dramatic sketch" to Mason's "a drama."

4. Wheat inserted a second r between u and r in occurences.

5. Wheat inserted a between offering and real.

6. Wheat drew a line through real and above the word wrote impenitent.

7. Wheat converted Mason's comma after duties to a semicolon, inserted just before as, and inserted goes before to, revising Mason's text to read "duties; just as the farmer goes to his plough."

8. Wheat corrected the spelling of mechanick by crossing out k.

9. Wheat marked through out.

10. Wheat inserted a second p before ed.

11. Wheat drew a line through leaf.

12. Wheat placed a small X above fice and at the bottom of the page wrote "X not in the dictionary." The Dictionary of American English defines fice as a "small dog of mixed breed; a cur."

13. Wheat drew a line through T and inserted t above the letter.

14. Wheat corrected the spelling of politicks by crossing out k.

15. Wheat converted Mason's period into an exclamation mark.

16. Wheat drew a line through "in the room" and wrote present above the phrase.

17. Wheat inserted a second p before ed.

18. The textbook used in Brown's Greek class was Peter Bullions, The Principles of Greek Grammar (New York: Pratt, Woodford, 1851). When "μεν and δε" are used with definite articles in Greek, they have the force of "one . . . the other" or, in the plural, "some . . . the others." The phrase "και δε και" means "nevertheless." The eighteenth rule of euphony is as follows: "When both ν and τ-mute together, are cast out before σ, ε preceding it is changed to ει, ο into ου, and a doubtful vowel is lengthened; but η and ω remain unchanged" (12).

19. Wheat inserted the between on and manners.

20. Wheat drew a line through how and inserted "the manner in which" between how and he.

21. Wheat corrected the spelling of politicks by crossing out k.

22. Wheat inserted the in front of Prof.

23. Wheat inserted the after which.

24. Mason ended the previous sentence at the right margin and began this sentence flush with the left margin. Wheat pencilled a large ¶ symbol in the margin before Our, perhaps to indicate that the sentence should begin a new paragraph.

25. When Nancy Hilliard sold the Eagle Hotel in 1853, she built to the east of it a large two-story house, which the students called "The Crystal Palace." She continued to board students on the upper floor and to serve meals in the large basement (Vickers 61).

26. Wheat drew lines through wide and through the d of and.

27. Wheat drew lines through "length of."

28. Wheat drew lines through the final s in characters and dispositions.

29. Wheat inserted the before Prof.

30. Mason crossed out a line representing a blank that follows Mr.

31. Wheat inserted the before Prof.

32. Wheat crossed through Mr.

33. Wheat inserted the before Prof.

34. Wheat inserted The before Prof.

35. Wheat added quotation marks before and after "Have you the bad butter."

36. Wheat inserted The before Prof.

37. Wheat inserted The before Prof.

38. Wheat drew a line through "to consume."

39. Wheat drew a line through have.

40. Mason wrote he on top of his.

41. Wheat crossed out a and how on either side of proof and inserted "of the manner in which" above proof.

42. Wheat inserted to after in.

43. Mason wrote sweet on top of an unrecovered word.

44. Wheat drew a line through ours and inserted "my purpose" above the word.

45. Wheat drew a line through "characters of" and inserted the above the line between in and world.

46. Wheat drew a line through out and inserted the above the line between in and world.

47. Wheat inserted l between r and d.