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The British Character
by E M Delafield
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THE BRITISH CHARACTERSTUDIED AND REVEALED BY E.M.DELAFIELDCONTENTS INTRODUCTION By E. M. DELAHELD FOREWORD BREEDING THE ARTS THE EMPIRE SPIRIT LOVE OF ANIMALS DOMESTIC SOCIAL SENSE RURAL TRAVEL SPORT INTRODUCTION by E. M. Delafield IT has been well saidby myself, as it chances that every Englishman is an average Englishman: its a national characteristic. What is more, no true Englishman would wish it to be otherwise. He prefers his neighbour to be an average Englishmanhe prefers to be one himself. He likes what he knows. The humour of Fonts drawings will appeal to him enormously, I hope and believebut that appeal will mostly lie in the fact that he recognises every situation por trayed as a thoroughly familiar one. His friends, his relations, and himself have all experienced those tendencies so trenchantly depicted by the artist, and have reacted to them in precisely the same way. He can therefore enjoy himself without having to think. For if there is one peculiarity in the British character that is more marked than another, it is this aversion from thought. At this stage I must digress, briefly, to say that if I have a fault to find with this book, it is that it was not called The English, rather than The British Character. My own remarks will be entirely con fined to the former, and will include neither the Scottish, the Irish, the Welsh, nor the farflung denizens of the British Empire. Quite a number of these are as ready as possible, for instance, to think wrongly, no doubt, on the part of the Irish, whimsicallywhich is worseon the part of the Scots, and unintelligibly on the part of the Welsh. But to return to the English. To think is no part of their character. Instead of thoughts, the English have traditions. The tradition of the Home, for instance. Even the Frencha volatile and irreverent race, with no marked bias in favour of Albionhave preferred not to translate this word, but to recognise it as unalterably English in origin and spirit by referring to it as le home. Yet how do the English treat le homethat is, theoretically and traditionally, the backbone of their country ? Their first care is to remove their children from it by sending them to boardingschool almost as soon as they can walk, and keeping them there until they are old enough to be sent still farther away. Their next is to avoid the proximity of their relations. Unlike the Latin races, the English seldom keep a widowed motherinlaw, an un married sister and a couple of canaries on the top floor, an asthmatic uncle and his housekeeper on the third, and a centenarian cousin in a little room behind the kitchen, They speak, write and sing of Home Sweet Home, and by this means have built up the tradition that it is a thoroughly English institution. Once tradi tion is firmly established, the thing is done. The danger of having to think is practically eliminated. Another tradition that is rooted not only in our own soil, but in the minds of the rest of the world, is the devotion of the English to animals.
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