Lehrjahre and Wanderjahre 131
GiESSEN, July 30, 1840.
MY DEAR FATHER,
Being thoroughly ennuied at Giessen and having nothing to do from morning to night',, I have determined to make a bolt down the Danube and to see Constantinople and Athens. I havemade all the calculations of time and cost and they are very favourable. Can I take any message to the Skeys ? I do not wait for an answer before I start for two reasons, 1st that I have not time and 2nd1Y as you promised me a good summer's. tour to Sweden and Norway, of course you can have no objection to a comparatively civilised trip. I am getting on in German capitally, and shall learn almost as much of it in these my travels as if I had settled in the midst of Berlin-much more than by staying in Giessen. Another reason for my unhesitating bolt is that as I shall have very little time after I am settled at Cambridge, I had better make the most of the present opportunity. So I will fancy that I have received a favourable answer, and so thank you very much indeed for your consent. My conscience being thus pacified, I will tell you something of Giessen.-It is a scrubby, abominably paved little town-cram full of students, noisy, smoky and dirty. Of these students, by far the best are the Chemicals, they being all firstrate men, wot write books and so forth ; they are one shade less dirty than the others, that is to say they are of the colour of umber, the others being Bt Sienna. They have a table d'hote to themselves at 6 o'clock (at which I join) and they drink much sour wine and Seltzer water. Every now and then they dissipate, i.e. send -for a quart bottle extra of Rauenthaler, and drink healths and sing songs. , To drink, healths you clink your glass with everybody else's glass at table, thereby spilling much wine on the table-cloth and over your neighbours' necks-over which you are stretching. As there were 30 sitting down together at the one which I witnessed, by the simple rule of combinations', n (n - 1), or 30 x 20, the glasses must have clinked 870 times for each health that was drunk say (at a low computation 20 were drunk) then 17,400 clinks must have ensued!! If one student calls out to another "Sic sind Doctor," it is a challenge to drink 2 glasses of wine with him; if " Sie sind Professor," then 4 and so on. They have also a very uncomfortable custom for foreigners which is this-one man walks up to another (whom he knows) and asks him if he has any objection to drink " Schmollens " with him ; the consequence of which ceremony is the calling each other "du" ever after instead of "sie," and in fact making them perpetual churns. The way in which it is performed is by drinking a glass of wine, the arm which holds the glass being put through the corresponding arm of the other-and then saluting each other on both cheeks; this last part to be continually repeated after any absence ! I have not seen it performed, but I was in great fear and trepidation, even more so than when before Mary Luard at a Christmas party.-The
1 Our hero forgets that in his last letter to his father he had arranged to work hard at German for a fortnight ! I do not think that Francis Galton ever obtained more than a working knowledge of German, i.e. that he spoke it fluently or read its literature from inclination.
z Francis's mathematics seem to have failed him, or the Giessen custom differed from that, of Heidelberg forty years later; each pair clink only once, not twice. Perhaps he counted a clink to each, glass !