I want to compliment W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 for writing a fine piece about Christian Gauss and the dean’s concern over student tumult, and his humane attempts to alleviate it (feature, April 22). It’s my belief, supported by Maynard’s article, that Princeton always has had its share of bad boys — since the very beginning.
Consider this observation by Princeton president Samuel S. Smith in his letter to William Paterson Dec. 27, 1804:
“One of our suspended boys of the name of Hart from Kentucky, has been lately making a Christmas frolic among us. The Trustees at their meeting last Spring gave direction to re-admit him into College on certain conditions. Some time in the Summer he returned to Princeton under the pretence of studying — but it was only pretence. He remained in town; but haunted the College particularly at nights; & for two or three months past has been endeavoring to mislead some of the more thoughtless & idle boys. It was long before his influence was perceptible in any great degree. But, within a little time past, we began to perceive symptoms, of disorder among a few; till, on Christmas eve, always an unlucky time, he induced a number to join him in disturbing the College with a great noise — he fired a pistol three times in the entry, & at length blew up the brick necessary behind it, with gunpowder somehow placed under it, or inserted into the walls. ...
“The institution, before this affair, has been remarkably quiet and orderly. But such are the evils to which, for want of power, we are exposed from the residence near us of ill-disposed boys who have suffered the censures of the College; & who can find a thousand means secretly to mingle with the worst of students, & seduce the inconsistent. — This, with our impotence to control hucksters & taverns, are among the greatest evils of which we have to complain.”
It seems there is nothing new under the sun.