It is hard to find specimens of the genus man with more unlike characteristics than the German and the American university student. So fundamental is this difference that it reaches back into the years before he goes to the university. Our American boy make up his mind that he must do hard and faithful work in school from his sixteenth to his eighteenth year, in order that he may enter the college of his choice, free from all conditions. On an average the American schoolboy at this age is earnest, persevering, and sincere in his work. His dissipations, if wholesome out-of-door exercises can be called by that name, consist in base-ball, foot-ball and skating in their season. If we look at the German boy in these same years we discover the same earnestness about the work and the same dogged determination to pass the examinations which close the American schoolboy's career, but his dissipations are of a very different sort. During the last two years of his gymnasium course, he finds it necessary to have miniature "commerce" or drinking bouts. The boy who downs the greatest number of glasses of beer becomes the pet of the class much in the same way that in America the best foot-ball player becomes the hero of his schoolmates.
It is a very rare occurrence in Germany that parents send their sons to the universities unless they intend to have them study for a regular profession. One should imagine that this custom would lead the young fellows to bend to the task of laying a foundation for the task of laying a foundation for their career with increased earnestness. But nothing of the kind really occurs. On the contrary a strong reaction sets in from the grinding discipline of twelve years of schooling and one year of military service. This generally comes between leaving school and going to the University. The young fellow is left to his own resources for the first time. The freedom which he enjoys is much greater than that accorded to the students even in our most advanced and liberal colleges in America. The authorities exert absolutely no control over his actions or his studies-chief of all,-there are no parietal regulations. The result can more readily be imagined than described. Parents do not expect their sons to do anything but drink and loaf during the first year at the University-and their expectations are fully reached. The young fellows who wish to be at all prominent in the social life of the University town, join the famous "Corps" which are secret organizations formed for the avowed purpose of dueling and drinking. When a man enters one of these federations, he throws aside all possibility of doing anything intellectual. It is a fact well to be borne in mind that these "Bruederschaften" are the only clubs which the students have as a general thing. There are isolated instances of historical clubs and philosophical clubs, as in Berlin and Leipzing. But the paper under discussion, if indeed there is any at all in their meetings soon becomes besmeared with rings of beer from the bottom of the mugs which are piled on it.
Athletic sports are wholly unknown in the universities (in the schools gymnasium work is a part of the prescribed curriculum) unless we choose to dignify the disgusting habit of dueling with the title.
The effect of such a life as this on the students moral and physical life is perceived by a very short acquaintance with them.
While our accomplishments in matters of learning are surely inferior to theirs, our moral life and our inspirations during college years are very much nobler and worthier.