“Nothing is as constant as change, or as permanent as death. Every beat of our hearts would open a fresh wound and make our lives an eternal hemorrhage, if not for the art of poetry. She grants what nature has denied us: a golden age, which never rusts, a spring that never fades, unclouded happiness and eternal youth” - Börne.
Black skirts and silken stockings,
Frills arranged with care and art,
Gentle talk and soft embraces –
Oh, if only they had hearts!
Hearts within their breasts for loving,
Love to set their hearts aglow –
I could die from all their moaning
and their fabricated woe.
I will go up to the mountains,
Quiet, simple huts are there,
Where my heart may freely open
In the clear, unfettered air.
I will go up to the mountains,
Where dark fir trees block the sky
Singing birds and rushing fountains,
As the haughty clouds race by.
Oh, farewell, you polished salons,
Ladies, gentleman – adieu!
I will go up to the mountains
And laugh as I look down on you.
The town of Göttingen, famous for its university and its sausages, belongs to the kings of Hannover, and contains 999 hearths, various churches, a maternity hospital, an observatory, a jail, a library, and a rathskeller, where the beer is excellent. The stream that flows through it is called the Leine, and summers it serves as a bathing-spot; the water is so cold and in some places so wide that Lüder must have taken quite a long run-up before jumping across. The city itself is lovely, and presents its most charming aspect when one is facing in the other direction. It must be very ancient indeed, for I matriculated there five years ago (shortly before I received notice to take my name off the books), and even then it had then the same gray, old-fashioned look, and just as many blunders, beadles, dissertations, tea dances, charwomen, compendia, roast pigeons, Guelphic ordinaries, doctoral coaches, pipe-bowls, privy councilors, judicial councilors, expulsion councilors, professors and other ‘fessors. Some even maintain that the city was founded at the time of the Great Migration, each German tribe having left behind a rough sample of their membership, and from these descended all the Vandals, Friesians, Schwabians, Teutons, Saxens, Thuringens, and so forth, who are found in Gottingen to this day, singly and in hordes, separated by the colors of their caps and their pipe-tassels, tearing along the Weenderstraβe and fighting an eternal battle with each other on the bloody battlefield of Rasemühle, Ritschenkrug, and Bovenden. Their customs and tradition still resemble those of their savage ancestors, for they are ruled partly by their “Duces” – as they call their chiefs – and partly by their ancient lawbook, which is called “Comment” and has earned its place in the legibus barborum.
The inhabitants of Göttingen are generally divided into students, professors, philistines, and cattle; the difference between them being by no means strictly defined. The fourth class is inarguably the most important. To list the students and all the regular and irregular professors would take up far too much space; besides which the names of the former set seem to have slipped my mind, and among the latter a great many have made no name at all. The number of philistines in Göttingen is very great, like grains of sand (or, more accurately, like mud) by the seashore. Indeed, when I saw them of a morning, with their dirty faces and white bills, having planted themselves in front of the collegiate court, I could hardly bring myself to contemplate why God would bring into creation such an innumerable rabble.
More detailed information on the city of Göttingen may be very conveniently obtained from the “Topography” of K. F. H. Marx. Although I cherish a most sacred regard for the author, who was my physician and always held me in great esteem, I cannot unconditionally recommend his work, and must chide him for providing insufficient information to dispel the common yet erroneous opinion that the ladies of Göttingen have feet that are not over-large. I have occupied myself year and a day in preparing a serious refutation of this point, and for this purpose have taken up comparative anatomy, made extracts from the rarest works in the library, and not neglected to spend hours in the Weenderstraße, studying the ladies’ feet as they pass by. In the very learned treatise in which the result of these studies is contained, I speak firstly, of the feet in general; secondly, of the feet of the ancients; thirdly, of the feet of elephants; fourthly, of the feet of the women of Göttingen; fifthly, I gather together everything that has ever been said in Ulrich’s Garden which touches on the subject of feet; sixthly, I look at these feet in context, and expand the scope of the inquiry to the calves, knees, and so on, and finally, in the seventh place, if I am only able to find some sufficiently large sheets of paper, I will put up a copper plaque with a facsimile of the foot of a lady of Göttingen.