Town and Gown.
Readers of “Tom Brown
” or of “Verdant green” will find this title a familiar one.
To them it will recall encounters between students and townsmen ending, not infrequently, with broken heads.
A party of students, after some merrymaking perhaps, commits an unprovoked assault on some passing townsman; he at once raises a cry of “Town!
and a rescuing party joins in the fray only to meet a larger body of students summoned by the cry of “Gown!”
The fight grows hotter until the approach of the town watch or of college proctors causes the contending parties to slip away, to continue battle on some more favorable occasion.
These contests probably owed their origin to the attempts, in earlier times, of the college authorities to extend a civil control over the towns-people of Oxford
and to impose taxes upon them.
In our own Cambridge
, however, the college has always been deferential to the town authorities.
As early as 1659 the corporation of Harvard College authorized the town watch to exercise their powers in the college yard, “any law, usage, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.”
Throughout the history of the college, there seems to have been a cordial understanding between the authorities of the college and of the town.
The students, too, have preserved friendly relations with the townspeople, except possibly in some momentary annoyance of a worthy citizen on finding his front