Some Other, Gentler Sound

First thing tomorrow morning, Arenda and I leave for England. We will meet her parents there for a two-week holiday touring England, Wales, and bit of Scotland. I may post updates, mostly pictures, from time to time, but that depends on internet availability. Here’s a quote from an Englishman that I admire:

“I listened for the last breath of England amid the clamour of voices which denounced her. To many of the post-war writers the ideals of freedom and service were mere ideological constructs – ‘ruling illusions’ which, by disguising exploitation as paternal guidance, made it possible to ship home the spoils of empire with an easy conscience. All those features of the English character which had been praised in wartime books and films – gentleness, firmness, honesty, tolerance, ‘grit’, the stiff upper lip and the spirit of fair play – were either denied or derided. England was not the free, harmonious, law-abiding community celebrated in boys’ magazines, but a place of class divisions, jingoism and racial intolerance. Look beneath every institution and every ideal, I read, and you find the same sordid reality: a self-perpetuating upper class and a people hoodwinked by imperial illusions into accepting their dominion.

“. . . I was brought up amid this derision, in which some of the most intelligent voices of English post-war culture took part. And I began to think there must be some other, gentler sound that the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-aristocratic, anti-monarchical, anti-bourgeois, anti-authoritarian and, in short, anti-English hullabaloo was intended to drown. Although I was from the earliest age an intellectual and a troublemaker, something in me wished, even as a schoolboy, to be reconciled with the thing that everyone denounced, which some called England, some Britain, some the ruling classes and most just ‘them’.”

– Roger Scruton, England: An Elegy, p. 21-22


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