Such is the popularity and influence of these societies that only about ten per cent. of every graduating class are non-members. The result is that only two cliques, if we may use the term, exist in college. In a large university, the existence of two such cliques would doubtless be harmful to the best interests of the institution, but at a college of the size of Princeton, where everyone knows a large majority of his class, no fault has ever been found with this state of things.
As is probably known to our readers, the faculty of Princeton do not tolerate any societies but these two, and to this fact is owing a large part of their popularity and usefulness. Besides this, the yearly contests between the best debaters of the two societies, as well as the contests in oratory, sustain interest to a high pitch.
As the transactions and mode of procedure are secret, it is only possible to say here that the literary work done in these societies is effective and beneficial. Reading-rooms well filled with all the best periodical literature of the day, as well as large libraries, amply supplement the college library, and thoroughness of information and original ideas are fully secured.
Whig Hall boasts as its founder, James Madison, and is something more than a hundred years old. Clio, as her rival is familiarly termed, is a few years older, and sets up that fact as a match for Whig's founder. The truth is that the numbers and influence of both societies remain about equal, and there appears to be no danger of either one's obtaining a preponderance in any direction. In the list of honorary members, Whig and Clio divide nearly all of the professors and instructors of the college, and number besides many of the most distinguished men in the country, the best not being limited to graduates of Princeton.
With such associations and surroundings, it is not surprising that Princeton offers the most thorough general course in debate of all our American colleges, and that her graduates are found to a great extent in the ranks of legislators, statesmen, and judges.