In studies of the German discourse on India emphasis is usually placed on the remarkable academic reception of ancient India in the German imagination. But the general German reading public in the 19th century was also interested in the contemporary British colony of India. Apart from the historian Leopold von Orlich, the redoubtable Baron von Hügel had travelled through India from 1830 to 1836 and had published an infl uential account of Kashmir and Ranjit Singh’s empire later.2 Hügel, like Victor Jacquemont

and others, belonged to a growing number of research travellers whose accounts are valuable historical documents today. In Hügel’s case the attitude to British colonialism is characterised by a special feature of the German colonial discourse in which the historical exclusion from the business of Empire leads to a highly developed claim to greater competence in matters of colonialism. Hügel, who was an admirer of British colonialism, criticised the British in India for their concentration on narrow commercial gains whereas the matter of empire consists in including cultural domination. Neglect of cultural competence, Hügel hints, can lead to bad governance.