From: DC0113s Fairley, David, 1831-1912 (1856) Letter, 1853 (Finding Aid)
Davidson College N. C May 19th 1853
Mr H. B. Griffin
I am now seated to comply with your last request. And be assured that it is with no little degree of pleasure that I hasten to performe this duty. To address an old school mate__ a bosome friend, shall ever be a taske frought with the most intense joy, it will ever yield pleasing senseations__ such as no other theme can produce. Then it is in view of our former intimacy__ in view of the ties of friendship that has long held us near together; that I have seized my pen, once more & set to work this mind, which has been so often delighted with your presence, again to disclose to you the fulness of my heart.
Bruner, the happy period, when we sat in unison beneath the same roof; striving alike for the same great object__ & that alone which gives shape & beauty to an ignorant mind, and which enables man to discharge his duties both to self & to humanity; those pleasant hours has forever fled__ “gone glimmering with things that were” & we have entered into new spheres__ Time & space with their circumlocutious windings has far separated us; hundreds of miles are now intervening between us. How painful the thought! We can have no other communications, save through the medium of epistolary composition, Let us then resort to this means let us exchange our thoughts, & suffer those hearts of ours, which has so often exulted together, once more mingle their sentiment & rejoice as before.
Scince we have parted, I have passed through many new walks. I have traversed a considerable length of our country, & believe sir, thoughts such as never before burdoned memories, tablets, strange pictures, such as imagination never before invented, flooded the mind with deep & solemn meditations__ To think that I am so far secluded from those I love__ so far weaned from the objects I most cherish on Earth__ all these thoughts give recourse to the most unrelenting pangs of sorrow__ the pain of seperation__
The following is written upside down on the top of p. 2:
Whenever you are writing to any of our old friends__ I wished if you please tell them where I am & my address. I have exchanged letters with L. N. Dantzler__he was very well.
seemed to “draw like cords around my heart.” Never before did I so much appreciate the real value of friends. Nor can anyone realize the true worth of friends; until he has been thrown, as I have been on the world’s wide field, a stranger amidst a land of strangers. Where there is no familiar countenance to cheer him with a smile,__ no natural voice, no whisper music in his ears. Then as he turns & looks around__ nothing is there, to comfort or cheer his lonely & desponding spirits, but all is strange, all is new__ Loneliness, with her saddening notes__ “crys unto him day & night”__ & there is no rest for it. What would I give, in such a case as this, if I could but meet up with an old friend? I have sometimes look men in the face, comparing theirs, with countenances I once knew; several times I have almost been ready to call the name & grasp the hand, but ah! A second look brings to view some spot or defect which would mark & designate him a stranger. Notwithstanding, the hills & dales__ the rivelets and the rivers, that seperates me from the home of my friends__ the land of my nativity, I cannot but cherish the sweet recollections of them. Neither far seperation, nor long absence, can chill or extinguish my affection towards them, but rather enlivens__ renews the flame which burns more arduous than ever. How often am I bourne upon the golden pinions of memory, to the tromping ground the land of my boyish sports__ to the many associations of my youth__ where I must acknowledge was past, the happiest days of my existance. But ah! it is only in my memory that I can meet you or cherish these thoughts; for me to go farther imagination wastes its strength in vain, & fancy tires & turns within itself__ Then Bruner, haste! oh haste! & let me hear from you. Believe me if Ever the golden cup of happiness was filled with incense, it is on the reception of a letter from an absent friend.
You have already engaged upon your profession and as I hope, you are making rapid advancies to eminence. But here I am, only commencing my college course, poring over books
books, books to no end. What mind can comprehend? What line can fathom the depths ofclassic lore? I have not yet started, only fuddling around the edge as it were__ affraid to launch away I am almost ready to sink, despondingly, beneath the sable cloud of deep perplexities as they are suspended above my head. Where can I turn, or where can I go, that there is not labor__ labor__ arduous labor__? Let me go where I will destiny seems to cast me in a sphere of unceasing labor & “there is no rest” for the weary, I look ahead, my only consolation is buried in the distant future. The Hope of being better prepared, to discharge my own personal duties, and of being the better enable to do my duty__ the responsible duty which I owe to my fellow mortals, to aid & assist whosoever__may chance to fall in my path. This Hope__ “the fire of the soul”__ sustains me, in all my efforts & urges me forward. Do not be surprised, when I tell you that I am a member of the Freshman Cass__ I have no doubt but some of my old school mates will be very much astonished at this mood in me. But believe sir, I have acted according to the dictates of concience I applyed, was examined, and admitted to the sophomore class half advanced__ But before entering that class__ I consulted my own conciens whether it would be right for me to go on, without being perfect in what was behind__ Whether I should drag through college & come home a pretended graduate__ whether I should pass myself to the world as a “learned gent”__ at the same time be nothing but an illiterate fop an imposter unpon an enlightened people__ No Sir. I sooner spend a life time in college__ than thus disgrace the profession of Learning by being untrue to myself__ & greatly false to the people. I therefore in company with two other young men__ who were examined with me__ voluntarily joined the Freshmen & conjointly determined to make a clear sweep, though it be, at the risk of health & life.
The evening after I left Mobile, about 10 o’clock one of the passengers walked over board & was drounded__ he was subject to fits of insanity prior to this time__ & “thus he steped from time into eternity.” I found the rout long & tiresome__ though I was frequently delighted by the beautiful scenery__ such as elevate rocks
The following is written upside down on the top of p. 4:
My address is Davidson College N. C. Recieve my respects yourself & give unto all who feels interested enough to inquire. If anything strange occurs in the papers of Mobile__ Please sent me a coppy__ I have just sent on for some of the Southern papers__ I know of nothing that is going on near home. D. F.]
jutting over the banks__ the precipitous bluffs__ the gurgling water falls__ and up on the cars__ who could but be struck with awe & admiration at the cars “lightening steeds,” dashing along with the very wind itself. One moment upon the smooth plane__ another, skimming the very tops of the highest trees__ (that is upon tressel work over deep hollows or ravines) a few minutes more__ flying through the very heart of mountains__ heaps upon heaps of stone & earth. Suspended above us on both sides__ yet they move with unequal velocity. I passed quite a No. of beautiful towns, among the principal were Montgomery Ala. Augusta Ga. Hamburg Columbia S. C. & Charlotte N. C. I would like to describe each of these to you__ & more, but I have not space nor time. Davidson is a beautiful place situated on the dividing ridge of the rivers Adkin & Cataba__ its location is elevated__ its scenery beautiful & sublime. The college buildings are larage & spacious__ built of bricks, surrounded by one of the most delightful groves of oak & hickory I have ever seen. The principal groth of the woods is oak__no pine__ I feel lost, out of my native elements. The faculty is an able body, stern & dignified in their appearancies, yet courteous & urbance in their manners__ the students are very friendly & kind something less than an hundred in No. I am the only representative from Miss. Never has been but one before me. The institution is well indowed, upon the whole I am well pleased, it is a good place to study, quiet & peasible. We have some very pritty young ladies__ educated, well accomplished & refined. Such as you rarely meet up with. There are also wealthy, if you consider that an assistant ornament. I have spent some blissful moments with them already, & expect to mingle with them pritty constant__ however, I shall not encroach upon study hours. I frequently recieve soft words from the one ________ I will tell you more about the girls in my next if you wish. If you wish to know anything about the old N. State__ just mention in your letter__ I will be glad to give you any information. Please excuse this imperfect letter & do let me hear from you soon. Your friend David Fairley
To H. B. Griffin
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From: DC0113s Fairley, David, 1831-1912 (1856) Letter, 1853 (Finding Aid)
Fairley, David. Letter to H. B. Griffin. 19 May 1853. DC0113s. David Fairley Letter. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC. Available: https://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/digital-collections/david-fairley-letter-may-transcript.