Raleigh: Weston R. Gales - Raleigh Register Office, 1843. First Edition. Octavo (23cm). Sewn pamphlet; printed paper wrappers; 18pp. Presentation to front cover: "With the best respects of Thomas Ruffin;" recipient identified in same or similar hand on rear wrapper: "Mr. Thos. D. McDowell / Elizabeth / Bladen Co." Some wear and foxing to covers; small scuff to front wrapper at lower left (away from text); two leaves of text rather more darkened than the rest. Still a Very Good copy.
The address is a sweeping (and rather pedestrian) survey of the development of all literature, from its possible origins in "Hindoo civilization" to its apotheosis in the age of Sheakespeare and Spencer. This however is a noteworthy presentation copy from Thomas Ruffin Jr. (1820-1863), son of the celebrated North Carolina jurist, himself a noted lawyer and member of the North Carolina House of Representatives; later a Colonel in the Confederate army, killed in action at the First Battle of Auburn [Va], 1863 (Ruffin was a member of the UNC Dialectic Society and a co-organizer of the commencement address). Presented to one of that year's more eminent graduates, Thos. David Smith McDowell (1823-1898), a Bladen County plantation owner who would serve as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons from 1852 to 1860 and then as a (somewhat reluctant) member of the Confederate Provisional Congress from 1861 to 1864. He was noted for his lukewarm support for seccession, his opposition to Jefferson Davis’s war powers, and for opposing many of the more extreme measures of the Confederate government.