Wednesday, April 10, 2019


My Back Garden, My Back Yard, My Window-Box

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), "The Mysterious English," Unpopular Opinions (London: Victor Gollancz, 1946), pp. 66-81 (at 79-80):
From all this, we may begin to see the outlines of the English brand of patriotism. It is the greatest possible mistake to suppose that it does not exist, merely because of the politeness extended to the patriotism of other nations, or because it is not vocal in times of prosperity, or because the English criticise themselves and their government and affect to admire the way things are done elsewhere; still more, to imagine that it depends upon vast extensions of the British Empire. The romantic love of extension from the centre depends upon the sanctity and security of that centre itself. When the Englishman says "England," he does not think of armies and domination; he thinks of a lane, of a field, of a line of cliffs fronting the sea, of the ships sailing from Bristol Town and coming home to an English port. The word Britain stirs his pride, but it is the word England that stirs his heart. There is his real history, and there is his abiding home. It is useless for people to complain that the words "island fortress" show a merely "defensive spirit." They are the words that move us. They take the English back over the long years of her history. England will never fight heartily or with conviction unless she feels the threat to English soil, English continuity, English things: "My rights, my liberties, my island, my church, my back garden, my back yard, my window-box." The people who try to force England into some doctrinaire mould of continental theory are, I think, mistaken. They are perverting the course of history.

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