'Goe not a gadding': Freshers' tips 1660 style

Cambridge guidance from seventeenth century advises students not to powder their hair or sleep in on Sundays - and to avoid football

Today’s papers are full of well meaning advice for freshers: what to wear, how to study and how not to get homesick. But according to documents found in the archives at Cambridge University, not all that much seems to have changed in the last 350 years for anxious students starting at university for the first time.

“Goe not a gadding and gossiping from Chamber to Chamber”, runs one rule laid out in James Duport’s list of guidelines for “Pupils & Schollers”, which was compiled in 1660, the same year Charles II ascended to the throne. But for the spelling, it could have been written in time for fresher’s week 2013.

Duport was a fellow at Trinity College, and seems to have been preoccupied with the proper behaviour of the young men studying under him. He has rules concerning partying - “Beware of riot, excess & intemperance, which hath drown’d & devoured ye most pregnant parts & choicest of witts” - and nights out in the fleshpots of Restoration Cambridge: “Never go into the town, except, to ye Church or Schools or Book-seller or Book-binders shop.”

He also had one or two tips on fashion: “Wear no boots, nor powder your hair, let yr Garb be grave & sober, yet cheerful & pleasant,” he says.

Furthermore, “when you reade or speake in your Tutors Chamber, or else where take heed of picking your Nose, or putting your Hatt or Hand to your face, or any such odd, uncouth, or unseemly gesture”. Some habits never change.

Of course, not every one of Duport’s rules is so applicable for students of today. As a classicist, he suggests that his students “speake Latine alwayes in the Hall”, which is perhaps impractical for the modern era. He was especially concerned with his pupils’ spiritual lives: “Use to be at Chappell at the beginning & come not drooping in (after the uncouth & ungodly manner of some) when almost all is done.”

Football was to be avoided, “it being… a rude, boistrous exercise, & fitter for Clownes then for Schollers”, while tennis too could be overdone (“Use Tennis sparingly and never immediately after meales, it being then too violent & too stirring”).

He seems not to have been completely fierce, however. According to CD Preston and PH Oswald, the two Cambridge alumni who researched Duport’s rules and published them in the Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, his “exuberant language” demonstrates an almost indulgent “understanding of the natural slothfulness and waywardness of youth enjoying a first taste of freedom away from the parental home”.

The rules exist in two versions, one in a small commonplace book – a little like a scrapbook – in the Wren Library at Trinity itself, and the other, which has few more rules, exists as a manuscript owned by Cambridge University Library. Both are handwritten. Interestingly, the Wren Library version contains various other texts, including “scurrilous verses about a Quaker accused of attempted buggery with a mare”.

Duport had a modicum of fame at the time, and as the only royalist academic at Trinity, he was an especially popular choice to teach the offspring of rich royalist families. Above all, claim Preston and Oswald, these rules are a “portrait of an energetic fatherly figure cajoling a group of feckless younger men to work hard and keep safe” - and not a million miles from the welfare officers at the universities of today.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

MBDA UK Ltd: HR Advisor - Recruitment and Graduate Programme

Competitive Salary & Benefits: MBDA UK Ltd:    What’s the opportunity? We...

MBDA UK Ltd: Software Graduate

Competitive Salary & Benefits: MBDA UK Ltd:   Role Title: Softwa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support - Surrey - £28,000

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpdesk / Devel...

Guru Careers: Graduate Database Administrator / Junior DBA

£20 - 25k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Database Administrator / Junior DBA is nee...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen