Mark Pattison, Suggestions on Academical Organisation:

“As teaching institutions, their universities have great merits and equally great defects. But as establishments for the cultivation and encouragement of the highest learning, the German universities have left everything of the kind at this moment existing in Europe behind them. Though known to us as the German system, there is, however, nothing peculiarly Germanic in the arrangements of their universities, so far as their commanding reputation is due to those arrangements. The only peculiarity which they derive from country is one which may possibly be lost to them before long. The rivalry between a number of petty states, ambitious to compensate for their political insignificance by distinction in science, has been at least one cause of the eminence which the German university system has now attained. However this may be, it is not as schools, but as centres of mental activity in science…

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