How we cite our quotes:
Mrs. Munt had her own method of interpreting her nieces. She decided that Margaret was a little hysterical, and was trying to gain time by a torrent of talk. Feeling very diplomatic, she lamented the fate of Speyer, and declared that never, never should she be so misguided as to visit it, and added of her own accord that the principles of restoration were ill understood in Germany. "The Germans," she said, "are too thorough, and this is all very well sometimes, but at other times it does not do."
"Exactly," said Margaret; "Germans are too thorough." And her eyes began to shine.
"Of course I regard you Schlegels as English," said Mrs. Munt hastily--"English to the backbone." (2.4)
Aunt Juley, who is herself "English to the backbone," immediately establishes the juxtaposition of England and Germany, which represents itself in her half-English, half-German nieces.
A word on their origin. They were not "English to the backbone," as their aunt had piously asserted. But, on the other band, they were not "Germans of the dreadful sort." Their father had belonged to a type that was more prominent in Germany fifty years ago than now. He was not the aggressive German, so dear to the English journalist, nor the domestic German, so dear to the English wit. If one classed him at all it would be as the countryman of Hegel and Kant, as the idealist, inclined to be dreamy, whose Imperialism was the Imperialism of the air. (4.9)
It turns out that the Schlegels are neither here nor there when it comes to nationality (though for a while in the middle of the novel they are divided, with Margaret coming out all English, and Helen on Germany's side). We also see that even if we try to class them as German, it's not exactly the kind of politicized German we imagine; rather they, like their idealistic father, are English by birth and Romantic by philosophy.
"Someone's got to go," he said simply. "England will never keep her trade overseas unless she is prepared to make sacrifices. Unless we get firm in West Africa, Ger--untold complications may follow." (15.13)
Mr. Wilcox is obviously thinking of the conflict between England and Germany that's almost to a boiling point – but, sensitive to the Schlegels' dual nationalities, refrains from coming out and saying it.