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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

The Town of Göttingen

From “Journey in the Hartz,” in “Travel Pictures”

THE TOWN of Göttingen, famous by reason of its university and its sausages, belongs to the kingdom of Hanover, and contains 999 fire-stations, divers churches, a lying-in hospital, an observatory, an academic prison, a library, and an underground tavern—where the beer is excellent. The brook that flows past the town is called the Leine, and serves for bathing in summer; the water is very cold, and at some places the brook is so wide that one cannot jump across it without some exertion. The town is very handsome, and pleases me best when my back is turned to it. It must be very old, for I remember that when I matriculated (and was soon afterward rusticated), five years ago, it had the same gray, ancient appearance, and was as thoroughly provided, as it is now, with poodle dogs, dissertations, laundresses, anthologies, roast pigeon, Guelph decorations, pipe-bowls, court councilors, privy councilors, and silly counts….

In general, the inhabitants of Göttingen may be divided into students, professors, Philistines, and cattle. The cattle class is numerically the strongest. To place on record here the names of all professors and students would take me too far afield, nor can I even, at this moment, remember the name of every student; while among the professors there are many who have as yet made none. The number of Philistines in Göttingen must be like that of the sands—or rather the mud—of the sea. Truly, when they appear in the morning with their dirty faces and their white bills at the gates of the academic court, one wonders how God could have had the heart to create such a pack of scoundrels!

More thorough information concerning Göttingen is easily obtainable by reference to the “Topography” of the town, by K. F. H. Marx. Although I am under the deepest obligations to the author, who was my physician and did me many kindnesses, I cannot praise his work without reserve. I must blame him for not having opposed in terms sufficiently strong the heresy that the ladies of Göttingen have feet of spacious dimensions. I have been engaged for a long time upon a work which is to destroy this erroneous idea once and forever. For this purpose I have studied comparative anatomy, have made excerpts from the rarest books in the library, and have for hours and hours observed the feet of the passing ladies in Weender Street. In my learned treatise I intend to deal with the subject as follows:

1. Of Feet in General.

2. Of the Feet of the Ancients.

3. Of the Feet of Elephants.

4. Of the Feet of the Fair Inhabitants of Göttingen.

5. Summing up of Opinions delivered upon Feet in Göttingen Taverns.

6. Connection and Comparison of Feet with Calves, Knees, etc.

7. Facsimile Charts (if sheets of paper sufficiently large are obtainable) of Specimen Feet of Göttingen Ladies.