Mammas AND Curium. The Student-Life of Germany. By William Howitt, from the unpublished MS. of Dr. Cornelius. Containing nearly forty of the most famous Student Songs, with the original Music, adapted to the pianoforte by the Herr Winkelmeyer. Illus- trated with engravings, by Sergeant, Woods, mid other eminent artists. Lowman and Co.
The Natural History of the Fishes of Guiana. Part I. By Robert H. Schombnrgk, Esq. Illustrated by thirty-four coloured plates. with portrait of the Author.
(Naturalist's Library.) Bighley; Liners, Bdinbeagh.
Hints for Australian Emigrants. With engravings and explanatory descriptions of the Water-raising Wheels, and modes of Irrigating Land in Egypt. Syria. South America. &c. By Peter Cunningham, Surgeon. R.N., Author of "Two Yearn in New South Wales," &c. Boone. Porray.
The Patrician's Daughter ; a Tragedy, in five acts. By J. Westland Marston.
THE STUDENT-LIFE OF GERMANY.
'WHEN WILLIAM HOWITT was thrown among the students on his visit to Germany, " he began to inquire for a book" which should -acquaint him with the interior of what looked outwardly so strange and startling; but he was told that no such thing existed. He therefore beset his acquaintance to undertake the task ; and at last prevailed on "one of the most gifted," (we suppose the Dr. Cori- "mans of the titlepage,) to set to work, assisted by the experience of others. It may therefore be conjectured, both from the state- ments of this preface and the internal evidence of the volume, that WILLIAM Howirr's share consists in suggestion and translation.
As far as mere form goes, The Student-Life of Germany is com- plete enough, though somewhat forced in its minor arrangements. It contains a description of a German university, a general view of German student-life, and the German system of education, as -well as a minute account of the arcana of studentship in its various phases, of the ceremonial-introduction to Burschen life, the Chores or unions, the Commcrs or drinking-bouts, the duel, -and the marching forth, analogous to the secession of the Roman plebeians when dissatisfied with their superiors. Besides these pictures of institutions, an effort is made to convey an idea of the private life of particular students, by a sort of framework which permits the introduction of their parties and amusements, espe- cially including their songs. A variety of miscellaneous chapters -afford scope for the description of occasional events—as the stu- dent's funeral, or various discussions connected with the peculiarities of German college life, which seems to spring from the national character of the people and the peculiarities of their government. The execution of the work is inferior to the plan. The greatest, if not the most glaring defect, is its want of completeness and com- prehension. Though obviously written by a person who has lived the life he is describing, the description fails in conveying a com- plete and vivid idea of that life. Instead of presenting a broad and general view, the subject is frittered down into particular occur- rences, and those of a commonplace kind. The original writers have mistaken the object WILLIAM How= had in view : instead of generalizing their knowledge so as to deduce universal truths Rom such incidents as contained them, they have striven to present a view of the "student-life of Germany" by making their own career perform duty for Germany at large ; and this is done, not as an in- dividual autobiography, whence the reader might draw such con- clusions as he could, but in the guise of a comprehensive view, flattened and enfeebled by individual weaknesses. This inherent defect is further aggravated by the style, which is diffuse, and the manner, which is German. Hence, more spirited and lifelike pic- tures of German students have been given by passing travellers, who have dashed off the characteristic features of what they saw, and left a stronger impression by a few touches than is attained by all the elaboration of this elaborate octavo. The most distinct picture of the students which this book has left, is that they attend evening-parties in dressing-gowns. It is curious, too, that the impression conveyed by Student-Life in Germany is less favourable to the Burschen than the sketches of their enemies ; though the authors have evidently that love for their university-days which distinguishes the mass of collegians. This arises from a feebleness of mind, or from over-refinement endea- vouring to change the real character of student-life into something higher and grander than it is. Much of the mere exuberant viva- city—the young blood of youth just freed from control—is lost sight of; all the recklessness and jollity, German-fashion, which seem to animate the Burschen, evaporate; their esprit de corps, that induces them, like all youth similarly situated, to look down upon the burghers, is not brought out—so that their sprees almost seem motiveless; whilst the mystic enthusiasm for the regeneration of Fatherland, mixed up with the absurdities of their costumes and the grossness of their beer-carouses and other pranks, stands out a lifeless form of absurd eccentricity from want of the animating German soul. Judged of by this book, the student-life of Germany would seem to the English reader little better than a mixture of beggary, blackguardism, and low-breeding; which, bad as its sur- face appears, it is scarcely possible it should be.
The best, or at least the most readable parts of the book, are in- troduced fictions, which are not so much written to describe stu- dent-life, as make a student the hero of the piece; though these do not appear to be done by the compiler of the notes. The songs, which are freely inserted through the volume, and sometimes not very artistically, are natural—that is, the images and sentiments are adapted to the persons using them; but they are deficient in
Poetry- The German Universities have a sort of fag under the name of Foxes. An account of the impositions on these unfortunates will give a notion of Student-Life in Germany—the thing as well as the book so called.
The freshman, or Fox, is now bound to perform many little but by no means degrading or injurious services. He must conduct himself discreetly, may not mix forwardly in the conversation of the Old Houses, and his purse is laid under frequent requisitions. Among the students who belong to no union. this is not so much the case, and is restricted principally to tins, that the Fox conducts himself not too assumingly, and now and then ponirt something, that is—to give this slang phrase by an English one—pods down something; that is to say, he gives an excursion or entertainment to them, a Kneiperei, or occasion of social fellowship and enjoyment. This he can the better do, as the superior experience of the older students in all the regulations of university life, and in particular in the best laying out of his course of study, are of the greatest service to him. In the aristocracy of the Chores, this subordination is, indeed, more despotic. There is quickly heard—" Si- lence, Fox ! speak not when old bemossed heads are speaking!"
We have mentioned the general services which the Fox has to perform; but he has also to suffer at the hands of terrible Old Houses. There comes, per- haps, a bemoaned head from a distant university, in a shockingly broken-down condition, something like the student in Haunt story, who travelled with Sa- tan. Already known by his hero deeds, the moment that he arrives he is re- ceived with a jubilee of acclamation. " Wiirger ! thou faithful Old House ! cry the sons of the muses, and rush down the steps into his arms. The smokers forget to lay down their long pipes, the billiard-players still hold their cues in their hands. They form a body.guard, singularly armed, around the arriver."—Hauff's Memoirs of Satan.
And now, scarcely has the Old House made it understood that his trousers are not the best in the world, or that his boots are no longer waterproof, than it would be taken very ill indeed of a Fox should he hesitate to supply his wants to the very best of his power. He must feel himself particularly ho- noured if begets back the borrowed garments in a month or two, just in suffi- cient condition to be able to make a present of them to his shoeblack. For a long time, a terrible swordsman belonged to one of the universities, whose mother resided in the place, and was what the students term a From Phi- lister, or eating Philistine, or who, in other words, kept an eating-house for the students, as is very common in the university cities. Her table could promise very little satisfaction even to the least delicate and artistical stomachs ; in fact, it required a strong dose of active exercise before dinner to enable its frequenters to make an attack upon it, and another as active after dinner to conquer the dyspeptic symptoms that rapidly followed her viands. Yet this table was always crowded. The unhappy Foxes had much rather try their teeth on the culinary productions of the mother than fall under the pitiless sword of the son.
The same worthy was also accustomed to borrow ball-dresses, as he by no means approved of swelling the profits of tailors; and at the end of the season sent them back to their right owner in a condition fit only at the best to bo forwarded to the Jew.
The rise from a Fox to a Brand Fox, the next degree, gives occasion to a solemn initiation, which, though probably jovial enough in the act, looks foolish in the description. After songs have been sung and beer has been drunk,
" Then instantly commences the initiation of the Brand Foxes. These have in the mean time made themselves fire-proof. They have put on great wigs of tow, thoroughly saturated with water. The moment that they ap- pear in the hall, they are pursued by the assembled Burschen, who stand with huge spills ready lighted in their hands. Here and there fly the poor Foxes before their pursuers ; who chase them like so many fiends from below with the flaming spills, and without mercy strike them over the head and face wherever it be possible. When the paper is burnt out, the fury of the pursuers ceases also, and the Fat Foxes are advanced to the rank of Brand Foxes ; a dignity which, in another half-year, they will change for that of Young Burschen."
The sense of the students as regards meum and taunt does not seem of the highest order; their cant word to express irregular ap- propriation being shooting. .The followin-, ',wanks of this kind re-
gard one Herr Von Plauen, a stude,.. _.eadelberg. On holy St. Nicholas's day, a worthy citizen of the place, whose little son also was called Nicholas, prepared a fcskt for some guests, the chief ornament of which was a goose, as fine as ever gag,giN- and screamed in the Pfalz. The goose was carried up ; the guests had not, however, yet made their appearance; but the little son was impatient, and, howling and crying, desired a slice from the goose. The father strove in vain to quiet him ; he howled and cried on. " Then," said the old man, "I will give the goose to the Pelznickel." (In our country there go from house to house, on St. Nicholas's day, fellows in disguise, who inquire into the past behaviour of the children, and give to the good ones apples, nuts, and little cakes, but warn the bad and threaten them with the rod. These disguised personages are styled Pelzoickel.) With the word, the old man set the dish with the goose in it on the outside of the window. This frightened the little one; he promised to be quiet if the father would take the goose in again ; whereupon the father reached the dish in again, but to his astounding, the goose was gone ! It was already rapidly on its way to the city of Dusseldorf; (a Wirthsbaus in Heidelberg); where the Herr Von Plauen and his companions found it smack right delectably with their red wine. A similar passage once befel our hero in the village Sclangenbach, where he was for a long time the guest of the Amtmann. They both, he and the Amt- mann, who had himself been a lusty student, made a call on the Frau Pfarrerin, the parson's lady. They talked of this and that; of husbandry, and of poultry and geese. " Ay," said the parson's lady, " I have a goose hanging above, you may match it if you can. But with what care and labour have I fed it myself, and stuffed it myself with the best India corn that was to be got! But, gentlemen, you shall judge for yourselves. I invite you next Sunday to discuss this famous goose." " And yet," said Plauen, "I will wager that the Amtmann has one that is quite as good." " Impossible!" exclaimed the Fran Pfarrerin.
"Amtmann," rejoined Plauen, "you won't admit that. I challenge you to invite the Frau Pfarrerin and her husband tomorrow, Saturday, also to eat a goose, and we will afterwards see which goose is the best."
" Done !" said the Amtmann.
" We'll see," said the parson's lady.
The residence of the plucked goose was soon ascertained by the two. It was up in the chamber in the roof, where it bang and made many ornamental swings and gyrations in the wind that blew through the dormant windows. It was a ravishing sight, which the world only was allowed to enjoy for this one day. It was brought away in the night, and the next day at noon, most deli- ciously dressed, was served up before the invited guests.
" Now, how does the goose please you, Herr Planer ? " asked Plauen.
"My husband understands nothing of the matter," interposed the From Pfarrerin, "but I tell you the goose is pod, but mine is much better. Yon shill convince yourselves; that I promise you."
Alas t the Fran Pfarrerin was not able to keep her word; for on the morrow she became aware, to her horror, that her plucked goose had taken a greater eight than it had ever done while it was yet unplucked.