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school is always the longest and the most relentlessly pious. But enough of this.
Homely truth is unpalatable.
Let us return to the “Examination.” The first composition that was read was one
entitled “Is this, then, Life?” Perhaps the reader can endure an extract from it: In
the common walks of life, with what delightful emotions does the youthful mind
look forward to some anticipated scene of festivity! Imagination is busy
sketching rose-tinted pictures of joy. In fancy, the voluptuous votary of fashion
sees herself amid the festive throng, “the observed of all observers.” Her
graceful form, arrayed in snowy robes, is whirling through the mazes of the
joyous dance; her eye is brightest, her step is lightest in the gay assembly.
In such delicious fancies time quickly glides by, and the welcome hour arrives
for her entrance into the elysian world, of which she has had such bright dreams.
How fairy-like does every thing appear to her enchanted vision! Each new scene
is more charming than the last. But after a while she finds that beneath this
goodly exterior, all is vanity: the flattery which once charmed her soul, now
grates harshly upon her ear; the ball-room has lost its charms; and with wasted
health and embittered heart, she turns away with the conviction that earthly
pleasures cannot satisfy the longings of the soul!
And so forth and so on. There was a buzz of gratification from time to time
during the reading, accompanied by whispered ejaculations of “How sweet!”
“How eloquent!” “So true!” etc., and after the thing had closed with a peculiarly
afflicting sermon the applause was enthusiastic.
Then arose a slim, melancholy girl, whose face had the “interesting” paleness
that comes of pills and indigestion, and read a “poem.” Two stanzas of it will
do:A MISSOURI MAIDEN’S FAREWELL TO ALABAMA
ALABAMA, good-bye! I love thee well! But yet for awhile do I leave thee now!
Sad, yes, sad thoughts of thee my heart doth swell, And burning recollections
throng my brow! For I have wandered through thy flowery woods; Have
roamed and read near Tallapoosa’s stream; Have listened to Tallassee’s warring
floods, And wooed on Coosa’s side Aurora’s beam.
Yet shame I not to bear an o’er-full heart, Nor blush to turn behind my tearful
eyes; ‘Tis from no stranger land I now must part, ‘Tis to no strangers left I yield
Welcome and home were mine within this State, Whose vales I leave-whose
spires fade fast from me; And cold must be mine eyes, and heart, and tete,
When, dear Alabama! they turn cold on thee!
There were very few there who knew what “tete” meant, but the poem was very
Next appeared a dark-complexioned, black-eyed, black-haired young lady, who
paused an impressive moment, assumed a tragic expression, and began to read
in a measured, solemn tone.
A VISION Dark and tempestuous was night. Around the throne on high not a
single star quivered; but the deep intonations of the heavy thunder constantly
vibrated upon the ear; whilst the terrific lightning revelled in angry mood
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