The reason I did not go to Princeton was that Mrs. F. F. Thompson, my father's rich parishioner in Canandaigua, offered me a scholarship at Williams. These Thompson scholarships pay the board and tuition of promising poor boys--promising in more than one sense, for they have to sign a paper stating that when they get out into the world and make money, they will hand on the gift to another boy. I do not know how well that works in most cases. I never made any money or intended to, and perhaps for that reason very soon forgot the promise.
I was desperately disappointed when the news came that I was not going to Princeton. I had never heard of Williams, and my brother had already filled me full of "Princeton spirit," having won the Freshman quarter mile down there and being of that nature which prodigiously enjoys "belonging." I dreamed, the night the bad news came, that I had a vivid orange-and-black flag on my wall and came home and found that somebody had stuck up a muddy rag in its place. I told my mother this dream, but also told her that I recognized the financial necessity of accepting the scholarship. We can not know in advance--I added-- whether it would prove better for me to go to Williams or Princeton. The difference might be that if I went to Princeton, a brick would fall off a roof and kill me, and if I went to Williams, it wouldn't. My mother loved these "philosophical" remarks of mine, and her answer is characteristic:
"I hope you'll let me come and live with you when I'm old. I know I shall like it best at your house. It will probably be a lovely rambling old house on some beautiful college campus with elm trees full of birds right outside the windows. I have had a very bad time since I wrote to you, for Papa said I ought not to have told you about the Williams offer--that you are working so hard and it would make you sick, etc. . . . I'm almost afraid to go to sleep lest I shall see orange-and-black flags weeping and dirty-colored Williams flags drearily flopping in the breeze!"
As compensation for my good nature, I was allowed to visit my brother in Princeton after my graduation and great awakening in June. I thought I would express my new-found manhood by loafing compan