It was English, and the wych-elm that she saw from the window was an English tree. No report had prepared her for its peculiar glory. It was neither warrior, nor lover, nor god; in none of these roles do the English excel. It was a comrade, bending over the house, strength and adventure in its roots, but in its utmost fingers tenderness, and the girth, that a dozen men could not have spanned, became in the end evanescent, till pale bud clusters seemed to float in the air.
Israel was thinking of warm beer, and muffins, and Wensleydale cheese, and Wallace and Gromit, and the music of Elgar, and the Clash, and the Beatles, and Jarvis Cocker, and the white cliffs of Dover, and Big Bend, and the West End, and Stonehenge, and Alton Towers, and the Last Night of the Proms, and Glastonbury, and William Hogarth, and William Blake, and Just William, and Winston Churchill, and the North Circular Road, and Grodzinski's for coffee, and rubbish, and potholes, and a slice of Stilton and a pickled onion, and George Orwell. And Gloria, of course. He was almost home to Gloria. G-L-O-R-I-A.
For the house of Dunraven, the ravens represented a spiritual claim to the Tower for the Celtic, especially the Welsh, people. For the English, the ravens represented the colorful savagery of their ancestors, which, however, testified to the exalted state of civilization they had since achieved. The national sagas of the Welsh and English gradually blended in tall tales told to tourists by Yeoman Warders, to eventually create a national myth. The romanticized past of Wales, predicated on survival, was fused with that of England, predicated on progress and conquest, to create a legend of Britain.
When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning-rod, the clergy, both in England and America, with the enthusiastic support of George III, condemned it as an impious attempt to defeat the will of God. For, as all right-thinking people were aware, lightning is sent by God to punish impiety or some other grave sin—the virtuous are never struck by lightning. Therefore if God wants to strike any one, Benjamin Franklin [and his lightning-rod] ought not to defeat His design; indeed, to do so is helping criminals to escape. But God was equal to the occasion, if we are to believe the eminent Dr. Price, one of the leading divines of Boston. Lightning having been rendered ineffectual by the 'iron points invented by the sagacious Dr. Franklin,' Massachusetts was shaken by earthquakes, which Dr. Price perceived to be due to God's wrath at the 'iron points.' In a sermon on the subject he said, 'In Boston are more erected than elsewhere in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.' Apparently, however, Providence gave up all hope of curing Boston of its wickedness, for, though lightning-rods became more and more common, earthquakes in Massachusetts have remained rare.
I farther assure this noble Duke, that I neither encouraged nor provoked that worthy citizen to seek for plenty, liberty, safety, justice or lenity, in the famine, in the prisons, in the decrees of convention, in the revolutionary tribunal, and in the guillotine of Paris, rather than quietly to take up with what he could find in the glutted markets, the unbarricadoed streets, the drowsy Old Bailey judges, or, at worst, the airy, wholesome pillory of Old England. The choice of country was his own taste. The writings were the effects of his own zeal. In spite of his friend Dr. Priestley, he was a free agent. I admit, indeed, that my praises of the British government loaded with all its encumbrances; clogged with its peers and its beef; its parsons and its pudding; its Commons and its beer; and its dull slavish liberty of going about just as one pleases, had something to provoke a Jockey of Norfolk [Thomas Paine], who was inspired with the resolute ambition of becoming a citizen of France, to do something which might render him worthy of naturalization in that grand asylum of persecuted merit.