We found ourselves at a dinner table this evening with two very distinguished academics, historian Jonathan Steinberg and musicologist and dance historian Marion Kant, with specializations in, among other subjects, matters Germanic. Steinberg last year published a major new biography of Bismarck and Kant has edited the Cambridge Companion to Ballet and published widely on the relationship between ideology and dance. The conversation scintillated and it was one of those most pleasurable of occasions when you know you are going to learn a lot effortlessly and enjoyably. Among Steinberg’s many fascinating forays was a comparison of English and German university systems in the nineteenth century. Whereas English public schools were turning out ‘chaps’ ready for the regiment or the city and only budding clergymen went to university, Germany was bathing in the dynamic concept of wissenschaft, a term impossible to translate and representing a holistic concept of the acquisition of knowledge which became the guiding spirit of German universities in the 19th century.