News at Princeton

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

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"Flee Youthful Lusts"

A 185-year-old pamphlet purchased recently by the Princeton University Library suggests that nostalgia for the discipline and values believed to hold sway on college campuses years ago may be misplaced.

"Questions and Counsel for the Students of Nassau-Hall (At Princeton in New-Jersey) Who Hope that a Work of Saving Grace Has Been Wrought Upon Their Hearts," an 11-page pamphlet, begins by asking each student of 1815 to consider if he is, "by nature and by practice, a lost and helpless sinner." It proceeds to dissect the moral and spiritual life of Princeton students through dozens of searching questions.

The appearance of "Questions and Counsel" coincided with a short-lived religious revival at Princeton, in marked contrast to the ungodly behavior of many students immediately before and after 1815.

In January 1814, an "infernal machine" consisting of a hollow log filled with two pounds of gunpowder was set off in Nassau Hall, cracking masonry and shattering glass. In January 1817, a full-scale riot erupted when students angry over the length of their reading assignments sealed the entrances to Nassau Hall and the rooms of tutors and religious students.

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601

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