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Documenting the American
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Transcript of the valedictory address. Originals are in the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Dowd's oration offers tributes and a farewell to fellow students, the faculty (pausing to eulogize Prof. Elisha Mitchell), the president, the trustees, and his fellow graduates.
Morning is the time to smile and run after the imagination, when in
its purity, it points to the joyous life ahead and prompts to pursue the
"narrow way." Morning the time, when prospects brighten and nobler
purposes fill our bosoms. Oh! that happy morning would last forever! Then would
life be a fairy dream: age would lose his whitened locks: Spring his chilling
storms and hopes their cruel disappointments: friendships would be unbroken and
associations lose the terror of a close, Oh! that morning would last forever!
But the "time to weep"2
Fellow Students: But Fellow Students: our morn is past: the dark
night is brooding over us: the bright ideal star of Commencement, to which our
life has long been directed, is swiftly fading from our vision: it hangs no
longer in the distance, but sinks behind the hills. School-days are gone and we
linger only to say Good bye. Now we have attained the end of our race and find
all is not bright beyond, we hesitate to rush into the scenes untried and abide
this hour to review our pilgrimage. Memory paints anew the festive scenes in
which we took a part and all along our fading pathway, days and deeds arise
'round which our fondest recollections cluster. Fond Memory: sacred goddess as
thou art: thanks for the bright pictures thou dost paint! Events long neglected
or forgotten, thou hast preserved untarnished; the ills and errors thou hast
concealed and only the joys and pleasures revealed. Happy life we'v'e spent in
College—never to be forgotten! Fixed on thy tablet, it shall live to
cheer us in the hours of sad old age. The memory of our bygone years! Tis sweet
to think of their consolations and forget their cares. But, melancholy thought,
that excites each tender heart and starts a sympathetic tear! those years now
close and number themselves with the Past. We say Farewell and part.
The Poets gave to
Much loved Faculty: I come to pay you a tribute of earnest
all now! Where is that familiar form, once mingling
in scenes like these? I look in vain for him the foremost and the best. He was
devoted to us and he never had a class, who loved him more than we.
When we saw him last, he was buoyant and active and so had he won our hearts, that many had already expressed the boundless sorrow, that would pervade our hearts if he should fall ere our course was run or he had given us his passport into active life!
He slumbers amid the mountains he went to explore: in the
But you, who remain, took us by the hand, slow to learn, reluctant to obey and led us through all the Sciences. Our ignorance excited your compassion and animated you to "love us to our duty" by parental care and tenderness. Emotions of deepest gratitude swell our hearts and prompt us to come humbly before you and reviewing our pilgrimage, now hastening to a final close, make a full expression of thanks for every kind word and favor. But we can not linger: the hour bids us haste. We are reluctant to say Farewell. 'Tis sad to forsake so worthy parents, beyond whose guidance we must hereafter act our part as men.
Ever will our memory run back and consecrate you the guardians of our youth and shapers of our highest destiny.– Accept the thanks of my classmates. No common offering do we bring: for we love you more than any ever did before. 'Tis surely a time to weep and say Farewell. How I'm driven to take the final step! Adieu. Adieu!
To you, much loved
remember and to use the
reason: taught us the laws of our country, that we
may be better citizens: armed us to enact with power the salutary principles
imbibed: make our country more prosperous and happy: taught us the laws of
All around me are sad and melancholy, weeping to sever the tender
associations recently formed, reluctant to forsake friends and these sacred
groves. We have learned to love the
But this bitterest cup is cruelly reserved till the last! My
dearest Classmates: we too must part: we were strangers when we began our
career, jealous of each other's honors, careless of each other's woes. A cold
world had taught us not to confide in our fellows. But drinking at the same
pure fount, kneeling at the same shrine has
We forsook the innocent sports of boyhood when first we bowed at
these shrines and devoted our lives to Learning. The bonds were broken which
united us to those, who loved us amid our early reverses. A long Farewell to
childhood! Would that we could breathe again its pure air and feel its
innocence! And now alas: the hours of College life are
ended numbered with the gloomy Past!
The orb of day makes haste to hide his face from our sorrows. No more we obey
the summons of the College Bell: no more the encouragements of our Teachers: no
more we glide leisurely along these shady groves, nor call up the spirits of
our absent friends to converse in the moonlight: no more we arise and haste
away to see the first rays of the morning sun stealing over the hills: no more
we hear the familiar Roll: no more the minister with a fervent prayer give our
I would gladly seize each loved one by the hand and pledge
ourselves to live our lives away amid these shades! But we can not here make
our permanent abode: these scenes must fade: ourselves must pass away. We can
pledge however, an enduring friendship. Let us consecrate this place a common
altar to which our memories shall recur with transports in all time to come:
upon which we will sacrifice our jealousies and offer our prayers for mutual
happiness. But Time bids us haste. Oh! cruel time, to sever us so soon! to
drive us away, away! I would check thy march, the Sun should be turned back one
hour and this last scene be prolonged! But the light is swiftly fading; your
hearts bleed to obey the mandate: I am reluctant and sad. Farewell my brothers,
a long, long Farewell! Heaven's choicest blessings attend you, and
Senior and Junior Orations (1858)