College Life--President Peck--A Practical Joke--Reading--A Winter Adventure--Editing the Collegian--First Love--Orations at Graduation--My Secretaryship of a Southern Rights Society--My Public Lecture in Fredericksburg--Law Student and Deputy Clerk in Fauquier--Writing for the Press--Crisis wrought by Emerson-- Visiting Washington--Listening to the Great Senators--My first Pamphlet, "Free Schools in Virginia"--A Camp-meeting in Loudoun--A Banquet at Warrenton to our Senators.
IN September, 1848, I returned to Carlisle alone, my brother's health having failed. I was youngest of the Seniors. Our speeches at Saturday declamation were original compositions. I straightway made a partisan speech, in the humorous vein, which was answered by Whig students. There was no ill-temper among us, but to politics were due many recitation-room failures. We were a miniature of the whole country; culture and presidential elections are not harmonious. For myself I had returned to college somewhat demoralised by the political campaign, and especially by an engendered anti-Northern feeling. John Daniel had asked me to write for the Richmond Examiner, and I went about Carlisle searching out something to ridicule or assail. The low condition of the free negroes made one letter, and tipsiness of students at Christmas another. I wrote only two of these crudities, I am glad to say, and there was truth in both, albeit exaggerated in my inflated Southernism.
Unfortunately the college also was demoralised that autumn. The institution, bereaved of President Emory, had gone on smoothly enough while the presidential functions were entrusted to our beloved M'Clintock, but on an evil day Rev. Dr. Jesse T. Peck was elected. Our immature minds could not appreciate his good qualities, while his large paunch, fat face, baby-like baldness, and pompous air impressed the whole college as a caricature. He had been a school teacher, and called us "boys," and we thought him inclined to discipline us like boys. Several