Everything you ever wanted to know about how other people look at us and how we look at ourselves. Warts and all, we've put together a few thoughts, quotations, writings and sayings, from people of different backgrounds and nationalities.

There is a recurring theme, a common thread that runs through many of them, even though they span the last 1000 years of our history. This will help to show who we are and what has shaped our national character. Hopefully it will also shead a little light on the two sides of the same coin that make up the English identity and show how little it has changed.

Fair play, tolerance and freedom. Over the last millennium all of these qualities have marked us out as a nation and so, in the future, will continue to do so... They also say that we're always pi***d, completely arrogant and hate foreigners... Ah well, nobody's perfect!

cecil john rhodes (1853-1902)

"Ask any man what nationality he would prefer to be, and ninety nine out of a hundred will tell you that they would prefer to be Englishmen".

snorri sturluson (1178-1241) - medieval icelandic writer

"Some people reckoned up all King Harald's (King of Norway) great achievements, and said that nothing would be too difficult for him. But there were others who said that England would be very hard to conquer. It was very populous and the warriors who were known as the king's Housecarls were so valiant, that any one of them was worth two of the best in King Harald's army".

(Referring to King Harold of Norway's forthcoming invasion of England - His Viking army was destroyed by Harold Godwinsson, King of England, at Stamford Bridge)

ralph waldo emerson (1803-1882) - american philosopher & poet

"I feel in regard to this aged England, that she see a little better on a cloudy day and that, in a storm of battle and calamity, she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon".

emmanuel van meteren - dutch merchant

"The people are bold, courageous, ardent and cruel in war. But very inconstant, rash, vainglorious, light and deceiving. And very suspicious, especially of foreigners, whom they despise".

general smuts - south african leader (1940)

"We must choose our friends for the future. I choose the country under which we suffered 40 to 50 years ago but who, when we were at their mercy, treated us as a Christian people".

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England".

unknown german author

"The inhabitants are extremely proud and overbearing. They care little for foreigners, but scoff and laugh at them".

(Describing visit to England by Frederick, Duke of Wurttemberg in 1592)

king harold II (1022-1066)

"I will give him seven feet of English ground, or as much more as he may be taller than other men".

(When asked, before the Battle of Stamford Bridge, what he would offer the invading Norwegian King)

bill burford - author of "among the thugs"

"Someone shouted that we were all English. Why are we running? The English don't run. And so it went on. Having fled in panic, some of the supporters would then remember that they were English and this was important, and they would remind the others that they too were English, and this was important, and with renewed sense of national identity, they would come abruptly to a halt, turn around, and charge the Italian police".

(upon witnessing English football hooligans fighting a pitched battle with the Italian police, Sardinia 1990)

jean froissart (1333-1410) - french poet

"The more blood they shed, the crueller and more ruthless they become. They're fiery and furious, they quickly grow angry and take a long time to calm down".

(Witnessing the character of English troops as they advanced through France in the 15th century)

arthur wellesley (1769-1852) - the duke of wellington

"The scum of the earth. The mere scum of the earth".

(Describing his own army in the nineteenth century)

george orwell (1903-1950) - english author

"In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman, and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during "God Save the King" than stealing from a poor box".

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"What is our policy?... To wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. What is our aim?... Victory... Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory, however long and hard the road may be. For without victory, there is no survival".

(Extract from a speech delivered on May 13th 1940)

arthur bryant - historian

"All ultimately intermarried to produce a race of many strains, which may account for the paradox that a people famed for stolid, patient, practical common-sense; a nation as Napoleon said, of "shopkeepers", has produced more adventurers, explorers and poets than probably any other in history".

charles churchill (1731-1764) - english poet

"Be England what she will. With all her faults, she is my country still".

george santayana - spanish/american philosopher

"Never, since the heroic days of Greece, has the world had such a sweet, just, boyish master".

douglas jerrold (1803-1875) - english author & journalist

"The best thing I know between England and France is the sea".

(Re: The Anglo-French Alliance)

english news paper headline

"Fog in Channel - Continent cut off".

ralph waldo emerson (1803-1882) - american philosopher & poet

"There are multitudes of young rude English who have the self sufficiency and bluntness of their nation, and who, with their disdain for the rest of mankind, and with this indigestion and choler, have made the English traveller a proverb for uncomfortable and offensive manner".

eighteenth century french traveller

"They will break panes of glass and smash the windows of coaches, and also knock you down without the slightest compunction. On the contrary, they will roar with laughter".

(Upon attending a football game in 18th century England)

adolf hitler

"Germany will dominate Europe, and England the world outside".

ralph waldo emerson (1803-1882) - american philosopher & poet

"By this sacredness of individuals, the English have in seven hundred years evolved the principles of freedom".

jeremy paxman - political analyst & tv presenter

"It is a mark of self confidence: the English have not spent a great deal of time defining themselves because they haven't needed to".

(Extract from his book "The English")

jeremy paxman - political analyst & tv presenter

"Those countries which do best in the world - the ones that are safe and prosperous - have a coherent sense of their own culture".

(Extract from his book "The English")

arthur bryant - historian

"Five times by her mastery of the sea she has prevented a continental military conqueror from imposing a despotic authoritarian rule on Europe and the rest of the world".

arthur bryant - historian

"The value set by her people on the freedom and sanctity of the individual, on justice and fair play, on mercy and tenderness towards the weak, and their dislike of lawless violence and their capacity to tolerate, forget and forgive have been, for all England's past mistakes and faults, a very real factor in human evolution".

john milton (1643) - english poet

"Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live".

george mikes - author

"When people say England, they sometimes mean Great Britain, sometimes the United Kingdom, sometimes the British Isles - but never England".

(From his book "How To Be An Alien)

john milton (1643) - english poet

"God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his Church, even to the reforming of Reformation itself. What does he then but reveal Himself to his servants, and as is his manner, first to his Englishmen".

lord admiral horatio nelson

"First, you must implicitly obey orders… Secondly, you must consider every man as your enemy who speaks ill of your King... And thirdly, you must hate a Frenchman as you do the devil".

(Giving advice to a new recruit on how to survive in the Royal Navy)

lord admiral horatio nelson

"England expects that every man will do his duty".

(Message to his men before the Battle of Trafalgar)

ogden nash - american humorist

"Let us pause to consider the English. Who when they pause to consider themselves they get all reticently thrilled and tinglish, because every Englishman is convinced of one thing, viz; that to be an Englishman is to belong to the most exclusive club there is".

arthur murray

"The people of England are never as happy as when you tell them they are ruined".

(From "The Upholsterer" - 1758)

william shakespeare

"This blessed plot, this earth, this realm. This England, this nurse, this teaming womb of royal kings".

(John of Gaunts speech in Richard II)

william shakespeare

"We few. We happy few. We band of brothers...".

(King Henry's call to arms of the English army before the battle of Agincourt)

william shakespeare

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard favoured rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect.
On, on you noblest English!
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof;
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here the mettle of your pasture.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit; and upon this charge
Cry "God for Harry! England and Saint George".

(Henry V - Henry urges his men into the attack at the Siege of Harfleur)

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"When I warned them (the French Government) that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken." Some chicken! Some neck!".

(Speech to Canadian Parliament 1941)

george borrow (1803-1881) - english writer

"Let no one sneer at the bruisers of England - What were the gladiators of Rome or the bull fighters of Spain, in its palmist days, compared to England's bruisers?".

rupert brooke (1887-1915) - english poet

"If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven".

("The Soldier" - 1914)

queen elizabeth I (1533-1603)

"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and of a King of England too; and think foal scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm".

(Speech to the troops at Tilbury on the approach of the Armada 1588)

margaret halsey - american writer

"The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner".

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"We shall go on till the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island what ever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches and we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We will never surrender".

(Extract from speech delivered on 13th May 1940)

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"the Battle of Britain is about to begin... Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth should last a thousand years, men will still say: This was their finest hour".

(Extract from speech delivered on 18th June 1940)

george bernard shaw (1856-1950) - irish playwright

"There is nothing so bad or so good that you will not find Englishmen doing it; but you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles; he bullies you on manly principles; he supports his King on loyal principles and cuts off his King's head on republican principles".

lord byron (1788-1824) - english poet

"The English winter - ending in July, to recommence in August".

ernest dupuy - american historian

"The initiation of a series of events which would lead a revitalized Anglo-Saxon-Norman people to a world leadership more extensive than that of ancient Rome".

(Regarding the Battle of Hastings)

d. h. lawrence

"I don't like England very much, but the English do seem a rather lovable people. They have such a great gentleness".

george orwell (1903-1950) - english author

"The gentleness of the English civilisation is perhaps its most marked characteristic. You notice it the moment you set foot on English soil. It is a land where conductors are good tempered and policemen carry no revolvers. In no country inhabited by white men is it easier to shove people off the pavement".

gilbert k chesterton (1874-1936) - english novelist and poet

"But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us by. But never forget".

samual johnson

"He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights can not be a patriot".


"We must be free or die, who speak the tongue that Shakespeare spoke, the faith and morals which Milton held..."

d. h. lawrence (1865-1930)

"English Catholics are just Protestants, protesting against Protestantism".

e. m. forster (1879-1976) - english novelist

"It is not that the Englishman can't feel…it is that he is afraid to feel. He has been taught at his public school that feeling is bad form. He must not express great joy or sorrow, or even open his mouth too wide when he talks… his pipe might fall out if he did".

napoleon bonaparte (1769 -1821)

"England is a nation of shopkeepers!".

domenico caracciola (1752-1799) - neopolitan diplomat

"In England there are sixty different religions, and only one sauce".

george mikes (1912-1987) - hungarin writer

"On the continent people have good food; in England people have good manners".

george mikes (1912-1987) - hungarin writer

"Many continentals think life is a game; the English think cricket is a game".

george mikes (1912-1987) - hungarin writer

"An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one".

cecil rhodes (1853-1902) - south african statesman

"Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first place in the lottery of life".

stephen leacock (1869-1944) - canadian humourist

"American politicians do anything for money... English politicians take the money and won't do anything ".

english proverb

"A smooth sea never made a skilful mariner."

english proverb

"Children are a poor man's riches."

english proverb

"What good is running if one is on the wrong road."

foreign observer (1373)

“The English are so filled with their own greatness and have won so many big victories that they have come to believe they cannot lose. In battle they are the most confident nation in the world”.

italian visitor (1500)

"The English are great lovers of themselves and of everything belonging to them. They think that there are no other men than themselves, and no other world but England; and when a handsome foreigner walks by they say “he looks like an Englishman."

foreign emissary (at the court of henry viii)

"The English have an antipathy to foreigners, and imagine that they never come into their island but to make themselves master of it and to usurp their goods."

Wulfstan (d956) - archbishop of york

"There is a need that each of us should understand where they came from, what they are and what will become of them"

english bill of rights 1689.

"No forreigne prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence within this realm."

harvest home - old english song 

"We'll drink off the liquor while we can stand, and hey for the honour of old England! old England! old England! and hey for the honour of old England! old England! old England!"

jean  froissart (1333-1410) - french poet

"they [the English] amuse themselves sadly as in the custom of their country."

philip james bailey

"England! my country, great and free! Heart of the world, I leap to thee!"

william  blake (1757-1827)

"England! awake! awake! awake! Jerusalem thy sister calls! Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death, and close her from thy ancient walls?"

will godwin and leo dryden - the miner's dream of home

"It is ten weary years since I left England's shore, in a far distant country to roam. How i long to return to my own native land, to my friends and the old folks at home! Last night, as I slumbered, I had a strange dream, one that seemed to bring distant friends near, -I dreamt of old England, the land of my birth, to the heart of her sons ever dear! Refrain: I saw the old homestead and faces I love -I saw England's valleys and dells; I listened with joy, as I did when a boy, to the sound of the old village bells. The log was burning brightly, 'twas a night that should banish all sin, for the bells were ringing the old year out, and the new year in! While the joyous bells rang, swift i wended my way to the cot where i lived when a boy; and I look’d in the window - yes! There by the fire, sat my parents! - my heart filled with joy. The tears trickled fast down my bronzed, furrowed cheek as I gazed on my mother so dear, I knew in my heart she was raising a pray'r for the boy whom she dreamt not was near! At the door of the cottage we met face to face -'twas the first time for ten weary years; soon the past was forgotten - we stood hand in hand -father, mother, and wand'rer in tears. Once more in the fireplace the oak log burns bright, and I promised no more would I roam; as I sat in the old vacant chair by the hearth, and i sang the dear song "home, sweet home!""

charles  kingsley (1819-1875)

"Oh England is a pleasant place for them that's rich and high, but England is a cruel place for such poor folks as I."

susan allen  toth - my love affair with england

"I was glad to be home, but already I knew that before too long - next spring, summer, or perhaps the spring after that - I would need to return to England. Perhaps more than anything else, I would want to set foot on an English path. I would long for those suggestive signposts, those disappearing meandering lines, those hints of detour and surprise. When I first read Tolkien's the hobbit as a young girl, I knew that I wanted to follow its winding roads among misty green hills, clear brooks, and distant mountains. Like me, Tolkien clearly loved English paths. In the lord of the rings, which I read much later, he captured their seductive music. "Still round the corner there may wait / a new road or secret gate," sings Frodo. And on every footpath I take for the first time, I hear Bilbo's mysterious refrain: "the road goes ever on and on / down from the door where it began. How far ahead the road has gone, / and I must follow, if I can….and whither then? I cannot say."

leon trotsky

"England is nothing but the last ward of the European madhouse, and quite possibly it will prove to be the ward for particularly violent cases. "

john masefield (1878-1967)

"It is too maddening. I've got to fly off, right now, to some devilish navy yard, three hours in a seasick steamer, and after being heartily sick, I'll have to speak three times, and then I'll be sick coming home. Still, who would not be sick for England?"

william  shakespeare - the life of king henry v

"O England! Model to thy inward greatness, like little body with a mighty heart, what mightst thou do that honour would thee do, were all thy children kind and natural!"

paulus  jovius (1483-1552) - bishop of nocera

"the whole [english] nation, beyond all other mortal men is most given to banquetting and feasts."

queen elizabeth I

"look! lord burghley, you have your wish at last.i am married; married to england."

william conner-magee - speech on the intoxicating liquor bill 1872

"it would be better that England should be free than that England should be compulsory sober. "

henry millar

"In England every man ought to own a garden. It's meant to be that way, you feel it immediately."

george  santayana (1863-1952)

"England is not the best possible world but it is the best actual country, and a great rest after America."

george orwell

"England and the English as a rule, they will refuse even to sample a foreign dish, they regard such things as garlic and olive oil with disgust, life is unlivable to them unless they have tea and puddings."

francois rabelais

"Sot comme un Anglois. [drunk as an englishman]"

george  orwell (1903-1950) - england, your england

"Here are a couple of generalisations about England that would be accepted by almost all observers. One is that the English are not gifted artistically. They are not as musical as the Germans or Italians, painting and sculpture have never flourished in England as they have in France. Another is that, as Europeans go, the English are not intellectual. They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic "world view." Nor is this because they are "practical," as they are so fond of claiming for themselves. One has only to look at their methods of town-planning and water-supply, their obstinate clinging to everything that is out-of-date and a nuisance, a spelling system that defies analysis and a system of weights and measures that is intelligible only to compilers of arithmetic books, to see how little they care about mere efficiency."

aa gill - author

"The reason the English disband their forces with reckless haste after wars, why they won’t allow their soldiers to walk around in uniform, why there is so little state-sponsored glorification of battle, is because they know where it leads. Far better to do the business as brutally and efficiently as possible and then get back to whatever you were doing before, as fast as is decent."

thomas hardy (1840-1928)

"The instincts of merry England lingered on here with exceptional vitality, and the symbolic customs which tradition has attached to each season of the year were yet a reality on egdon. Indeed, the impulses of all such outlandish hamlets are pagan still: in these spots homage to nature, self-adoration, frantic gaieties, fragments of Teutonic rites to divinities whose names are forgotten, seem in some way or other to have survived mediaeval doctrine."

james kirkup - the scotsman

"At the oval and in Trafalgar Square, there was only one flag, and it was England's. There was only one song, Blake's. If you can't be a nation until you have your own national anthem, this is a hurdle the English have now cleared. So England stirs, with implications beyond the borders of the green and pleasant land, perhaps most importantly for Scotland. That's fitting, because Scotland has unwittingly played a part in the stirring. A sense of fairness is embedded deep in the English soul … the fairness of not jumping the queue, of tutting disapprovingly of those who do. We don't mind waiting, you see, just as long as everybody is made to wait the same way. So the constitutional imbalance of Scotland's parliament and Wales's assembly plays an important part in the English story. Most English people remain ignorant of the details of devolution, and of the arguments over the Barnett formula, Scotland's oil and the rest. But since 1999 there has been a vague, nagging feeling that, politically, the Celts have jumped the queue."

h.g. wells

"He was inordinately proud of England and he abused her incessantly."

sir winston churchill

"A nation which has forgotten its past can have no future."

w.e. henley

"Ever the faith endures, England, my England."

the anglo-saxon chronicle

"…but it was most hateful to all to fight against their own race’s men, for there was little else who could achieve anything much on either side except for the English."

the anglo-saxon chronicle

“A greater slaughter was not ever yet in this island slain by an army before this with swords blades – as books tell us, ancient scribe, since here from the east the Angles and Saxons came over across the broad sea, they sought Britain, the paid war makers overcame the Welsh… the keen heroes won a homeland."

drinking song (circa 1757)

"Should the French dare invade us, thus armed with our poles, We’ll bang their bare ribs, make their lantern jaws ring: For your beef-eating, beer-drinking Britons are souls Who will shed their last blood for their country and King."

oscar wilde

"If one could only teach the English how to talk and the Irish how to listen, society would be quite civilized."

alice duer miller

"...I am American bred. I have seen much to hate here, much to forgive. But in a world where England is finished and dead, I do not wish to live."

The White Cliffs (1940)

alexander woollcott

"The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm."

evelyn waugh (Scoop)

"Other nations use “force” - we Britons alone use “Might”.

charles dickens

"There is in the Englishman a combination of qualities, a modesty, an independence, a responsibility, a repose, combined with an absence of anything calculated to call a blush into the cheek of a young person, which one would seek in vain among the Nations of the Earth."

Our Mutual Friend

telegraph - 10/7/2004

"They are poised, flags at the ready, to cheer their boy home. Button's barmy army, first spotted in Barcelona two months ago, will be in residence at Silverstone this weekend for the British grand prix. In their honour, button has introduced a new helmet. The cross of St George will adorn his head, replacing his usual union jack, an increasingly outmoded expression of nationhood."

pope gregory the great - 590 (upon meeting anglo-saxons)

"not angles but angels"

riem (1762-1828)

"In the eyes of the Englishman, the Frenchman is a dog, the Spaniard a fool, the German a drunkard, the Italian a bandit. Only the Englishman is the pinnacle of perfection and nature’s masterpiece."

william pitt (1805)

"England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example."

sir winston churchill (1874-1965)

"We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not combined. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed. And Should European statesman address us in the words which were used of old – “Shall I speak for thee to the King or the Lord of the Host?” – we should reply with the words of the Shunamite woman: “Nay sir, for we dwell among our own people.”


george mikes - hungarian born anglophile

"The world still consists of two clearly divided groups; the English and the foreigners. One group consists of less than 50 million people; the other of 3,950 million people. The latter group does not really count."

ralph waldo emerson (1803-1882) - american philosopher & poet

"The Englishman who visits Mount Etna will carry his tea-kettle to the top."

indian saying

"A demon took a monkey for a wife – the result, by the grace of God, was the English."

heinrich von treitschke

"The English think soap is civilization".

james agate

"The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it".

sydney smith (1771-1845)

"What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion."

traditional french saying

"England: a good land and a bad people."

traditional turkish proverb

"An Englishman will burn his bed to catch a flea."

julius caesar scaliger (1540-1609)

"The perfidious, haughty, savage, disdainful, stupid, slothful, inhospitable, inhuman English."

marcus tullius cicero (103-43 BC)

"You must look out in England that you are not cheated by the charioteers."

stendhal (1783-1842)

“The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbarous people in the world".

les triades des anglais (1572)

"In all four corners of the earth, one of these three names is given to him who steals from his neighbour... Brigand, Robber or Englishman."

duncan spaeth (1868-1954)

"I know why the sun never sets on the British Empire: God would never trust an Englishman in the dark."

d. h. lawrence

"The English people are surely the nicest people in the world, and everyone makes everything so easy for everybody else, that there is almost nothing to resist at all."

p. j. o’rourke

"Mortar fire is to be preferred, of course, to British sports fans."

italian saying

"Only Englishmen and dogs walk in the sun”.

samuel pepys

"But Lord! To see the absurd nature of Englishmen, that cannot forbear laughing and jeering at everything that looks strange."

oscar wilde

"He is a typical Englishman, always dull and usually violent."

malcolm bradbury

"I like the English. They have the most rigid code if immorality in the world."

seamus macmanus

"There are three things to be aware of: the hoof of a horse, the horn of a bull, and the smile of an Englishman."

harlvard lange

“We do not regard Englishman as foreigners. We look on them only as rather mad Norwegians."

jackie mason - independent (1990)

"If an Englishman gets run down by a truck, he apologizes to the truck."

sir winston churchill

"I see the damage done by the enemy....but I also see the spirit of an unconquerable people."

rudyard kipling

“For Allah created the English mad – the maddest of all mankind!”

Kitchener’s School

rudyard kipling

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.”

Norman and Saxon

rudyard kipling

“And still when Mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!”

The Reeds at Runnymede

rudyard kipling

“Greater the deed, greater the need
Lightly to laugh it away,
Shall be the mark of the English breed
Until the Judgement Day!”

The English Way

sir winston churchill

"The French cannot forgive us because they owe us so much"

Refering to French animosity towards the British.

linford christie - athlete

"We’re a nation too you know, not just a bunch of regions."

Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight, St George’s Day, 1998

patrick tripp - flag-maker to the crown (1997)

"Since Mr Blair has decided to let Scotland go its own way we in England have said 'sod you, we’ll go our own way too, we’ll look after ourselves'. I think England is discovering a sense of itself."

charles de gaulle - some french bloke named after an airport (1963)

“Britain is insular, bound up by its trade, its markets….with the most varied and often the most distant countries. Her activity is essentially industrial, commercial, not agricultural. She has, in all her work, very special, very original habits and traditions. In short, the nature, structure, circumstances, peculiar to Britain are different from those of the other continentals… How can Britain, being what she is, come into our system?

hugh macdiarmid (1892- 1978) - scottish nationalist, poet and essayist

“The extraordinary consensus of opinion [in Scotland] against the English on the score of their greed, stupidity, their cruelty, their snobbery…is thoroughly well-founded and arises basically from the fact that the English, like their cousins, the Germans, have a “herren volk” tradition and are intolerably arrogant and overbearing.

There is a silly disposition in many quarters to attribute and such complaint to an inferiority complex…I believe the English are finished as a world power and must be forced back upon their own right little, tight little island, or rather that part of it which is their own…Surely there is no need to slobber kisses on the feet that are trampling us down. We have nothing to be grateful for to the English…The leopard does not change his spots. The English are as they have always been."

a. l. rowse - author

“The English….are lazy, constitutionally indolent. They are always being caught lagging behind, unprepared – again and again in their history it has been the same; and then, when up against it – they more than make up for lost time by their resourcefulness, their inventiveness, their ability to extemporise, their self-reliance.”

Taken from his book "The English Spirit"

hesketh pearson

“Our true Patron Saint is not St George but Sir John Falstaff….we are the most civilised people in the world, the reason being that we are the most humorous people in the world”

The English Genius, 1939

excerpt from 'the listener' (1939)

“Bravery of the devil-may-care variety is not peculiar to the English. Where we differ from other peoples is in our natural capacity for laughing at ourselves. The patriotic employer who embellished the firm’s air-raid shelter with a placard saying “God Save The King – and us” was expressing a typically English attitude to life.

And this is an attitude that in the days to come will stand us in good stead. Whatever other noises will assail our ears, it is safe to predict that the sound of English laughter will not cease to echo around the world”

walter schellenberg - ss general (1940)

“It would be wrong to underestimate the enemy… The English national character has a flaw of putting tradition above all, retaining for as long as possible what might have been right some decades before. But it is possible that in an emergency the British would be capable of letting everything go and becoming surprisingly modern…The British are capable of a complete transformation when thinking that their country is in imminent danger, and ...they are at their most formidable in that situation”.

an english seaman

“ I never set eyes on him [Nelson], for which I am both sorry and glad, for to be sure I should like to have seen him, but then, all the men in our ship who have seen him are such soft toads, they have done nothing but blast their eyes and cry ever since he was killed. God bless you! Chaps that fought like the devil sit down and cry like a wench”.

Ordinary seaman writing home after the Battle of Trafalgar.

enoch powell - politician

“The homogeneity of England, so profound and embracing that counties and the regions make it a hobby to discover their differences and assert their peculiarities; the continuity of England, which has brought this unity and this homogeneity about by the slow alchemy of centuries…From this continuous life of a united people in their island home springs, as from the soil of England, all that is peculiar in the gifts and the achievements of the English nation, its laws, its literature, its freedom, its self-discipline."

From a speech made in 1964

dennis potter – playwright

"“I find the word British harder and harder to use – we English tend to deride ourselves far too easily because we’ve lost so much confidence, because we lost so much of our own sense of identity, which had been subsumed in this forced Imperial identity which I obviously hate. But we were at the same time, both a brave and a steadfast people, and we shared an aim, a condition, a political aspiration if you like, which was shown immediately in the 1945 General Election, and then one of the greatest governments of British history….I love England, and when I’m abroad I genuinely feel homesick…I’ve always loved my country, but not the flags and drums and trumpets and billowing Union Jacks and busby soldiers and the monarchy and the pomp and circumstance and all that, but the real – something about our people that I come from and therefore respond to”

Taken from his last interview with Melvyn Bragg in 1994 shortly before dying of cancer.

john “Two Jags Prescott” A fat Welsh Politician backing us to the hilt as normal.

“…there is no such nationality as English”

Backing his electorate to the hilt as normal.

jack straw – ex Foreign Secretary

“The English are potentially very aggressive, very violent. We have used this propensity to violence to subjugate Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Then we used it in Europe and with our empire, so I think what you have within the UK is three small nations…who’ve been over the centuries under the cosh of the English. Those small nations have inevitably sought expression by a very explicit idea of nationhood. You have this very dominant other nation, England, 10 times bigger than the others, which is self-confident and therefore has not needed to be so explicit about its expression. I think as we move into this new century, people’s sense of Englishness will become more articulated and that’s partly because of the mirror that devolution provides us with and because we are becoming more European at the same”

another one of our beloved leaders once again behind us 100%

richard weight – in his book “Patriots – National Identity in Britain”

“Straw’s claim that the English were an innately aggressive people was not only tactless, as it was profoundly ahistorical, pandering as it did to the myth that the Scots and Welsh had been the victims of an English empire rather than partners in a British one”

responding to Jack Straws claim

john redwood

"Our history shows England awakes late to defend freedom, but always awakes in the end….Political correctness is strangling the irreverent spirit of scepticism towards pomp, authority and expertise that has created the delightful humour of the English people. "

Speech on St George’s Day 2003

kenan malik

“Multiculturalism is an authoritarian, anti-human outlook. True political progress requires not recognition but action, not respect but questioning, not the invocation of the Thought Police but the forging of common bonds and collective struggles.”

Taken from his article “Against Multiculturalism” featured in New Humanist magazine

War Memorial inscription from small village on the edge of Dartmoor.

“Live thou for England. We for England died”

Billy Connolly

“Braveheart is pure Australian shite…William Wallace was a spy, a thief, a blackmailer – a c**t basically. And people are swallowing it. It’s part of a new Scottish racism, which I loath – this thing that everything horrible is English. It’s conducted by the great unread and the conceited w***ers at the SNP, those dreary little pr**ks in Parliament who rely on bigotry for support”

Scottish Comedian

Sir Leslie Rowan

“Two single figures whom I saw from the carriage window epitomised for me what Churchill really meant to ordinary people: first on the flat roof of a small house a man standing at attention in his RAF uniform, saluting: and then in a field , some hundred yards away from the track, a simple farmer stopping work and standing, head bowed and cap in hand.”

Sir Winston Chuchill’s wartime Private Secretary describing his journey with Churchill’ coffin to his final resting place at Bladon in Oxfordshire

Andrew Fletcher- 18th Century Scottish Patriot

"Show me a true patriot, and I will show you a lover not merely of his own country, but of all mankind. Show me a spurious patriot, a bombastic fire-eater, and I will show you a rascal. Show me a man who loves other countries equally with his own, and I will show you a man entirely deficient in a sense of proportion. But show me a man who respects the rights of all nations, while ready to defend the rights of his own against them all, and I will show you a man who is both a nationalist and an internationalist".

Noel Coward–Dramatist and Writer

“The Battle of Britain was twenty-three years ago and the world has forgotten it. Those young men, so many of whom I new, flew up into the air and died for us and all we believed….What did they die for? I suppose for them selves and what they believed was England. It was England then – just for a few brave months…The peace which we are enduring is not worth their deaths.

England has become a third rate power, economically and morally. We are vulgarized by American values. America, which didn’t even know war on its own ground, is now dictating our policies and patronizing our values.

We are now beset by the “clever ones”, all the cheap frightened people who can see nothing but defeat and who have no pride, no knowledge of the past, no reverence for our lovely heritage…Perhaps, just perhaps – someone will rise up and say, “That isn’t good enough.” There is still the basic English character to hold on to, But is there? I am old now..I despise the young, who see no quality in our great past and who spit, with phoney left-wing disdain, on all that we, as arace, have contributed to the living world…I say a grateful goodbye to those foolish, gallant young men who made it possible for me to be alive today to write these sentimental words”

Simon Heffer

“Something stirs deep in the blood of the English. The whole notion [of devolution] stimulates, and offends their atavistic sense of fair play and decency..If there is writing on Hadrian’s Wall it reads that the English should leave Scotland to its own devices.. The new English Nation that must be forged must… be one as free as possible from the meaningless trappings of sentiment. The new English will be first and foremost a mercantile people, whose relations with the world are those primarily of a business partner…The English have every reason to believe that this can be a prosperous and constructive future in which England is a force for good, modernation and sanity, and in which the English state serves first and foremost the interests of the English people.”

From his book “Nor Shall My Sword”

William Hague – July 1999

““These are not theoretical problems. They are alive and real, a ticking time bomb under the British constitution…The signs of an emerging English consciousness are all around us. Try to ignore this English consciousness or bottle it up and it will turn into a more dangerous English nationalism that can threaten the future of the United Kingdom”

Damon Albarn - Lead singer of Blur

“There was a time when pop music wouldn’t have been able to explain what being English was all about, but that’s changed now. If you draw a line from the Kinks in the sixties, through the Jam and the Smiths, to Blur in the nineties, it would define this thing called Englishness as well as anything."

Sir Winston Churchill

"Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar."

Churchill in his first broadcast as Prime Minister to the British people on the BBC - May 19, 1940, London.

aa gill - author

"I don’t like the English. One at a time, I don’t mind them. I’ve loved some of them. It’s their collective persona I can’t warm to: the lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd of England."

j.r.r. tolkien

"The shire is based on rural England and not any other country in the world. The toponymy of the shire’ is a parody of that of rural England, in much the same sense are its inhabitants: they go together and are meant to. after all the book is English, and by an Englishman."

william wordsworth

"I travelled among unknown men, in lands beyond the sea; nor England! did I know till then what love I bore to thee."

king george v

"Wake up, England."

hilaire belloc - on inns

"From the towns all inns have been driven; from the villages most….change your hearts or you will lose your inns and you will deserve to have lost them. But when you have lost your inns drown your empty selves for you will have lost the last of England."

beyonce  knowles

"Y'all are so cute and y'all talk so proper over here. I love England."

george michael 

"I'm an extremely patriotic person, one of the most patriotic you will ever meet. I live here, the only time i went out of the country and didn't pay tax was when I was on a 10-month tour, so it was a six-week absence for tax reasons. Every other year of my life I've paid my full tax. I've travelled the world and I absolutely know that England is the place that I want to be."

oscar wilde

"The real weakness of England lies, not in incomplete armaments or unfortified coasts, not in the poverty that creeps through sunless lanes, or the drunkenness that brawls in loathsome courts, but simply in the fact that her ideals are emotional and not intellectual."

david  starkey - historian

"Yes, England - the country that dare not speak its name. In England we have this dreadful inhibition about talking about ourselves. England is a historic country which has shaped the world we are in. It is arguably the very origins of modernity. That is something we should celebrate, not be ashamed of."

rudyard  kipling

"laws they made in the witan, the laws of flaying and fine - common, loppage and pannage, the theft and the track of kine, statues of tun and of market for the fish and the malt and the meal, the tax on the bramber packhorse and the tax on the hastings keel....behind the feet of the legions and before the normans' ire, rudely but greatly begat they the bones of state and of shire: rudely but deeply they laboured, and their labour stands till now, if we trace on our ancient headlands the twist of their eight-ox plough."

thomas babington  macaulay (1800-1859)

"Attend, all ye who list to hear our noble England's praise; I tell of the thrice-noble deeds she wrought in ancient days."

patrick wright - the guardian

"Chesterton's "the secret people" was first published in 1907 in a magazine called the Neolith. Its "secret" Englishmen can be imagined as a group of Anglo-Saxon men seated in an unrenovated pub: slow but steadfast, unschooled but instinctively wise. These representatives of native common sense have sat there, silently drinking their undoubtedly real ale while the centuries have unfolded outside and sometimes come crashing in through the door. They have seen the comings and goings of sundry invaders, and gained nothing through a long succession of rulers - from Norman barons to the triumphant puritans of the civil war. Some may have put down their glasses and wandered off to fight with Nelson at Trafalgar ("dying like lions to keep ourselves in chains"). In general, however, these English natives have not responded enthusiastically to those who have tried to rally them to the defence of their own interests: "a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale.""

david starkey - historian

"For England in 991 was the first nation-state. It wasn't a modern state, of course, but it did have representative institutions, it was ordered, it was united and, above all, it was rich."

edmund  spenser (1552-1599) - english poet

"Saint George shalt called bee, Saint George of mery England, the sign of victoree."

g.k. chesterton - the englishman, in the flying inn

"St George he was for England, and before he killed the dragon, he drank a pint of English ale, out of English flagon, for though he fast right readily, in hair-shirt or in mail, it isn't safe to give him cakes, unless you give him ale."

francois-marie arouet voltaire

“In this country [England] it is thought well to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others. "

giovanni mocenigo - ventian ambassador to france 1588

 “The English never yield, and though driven back and thrown into confusion, they always return to the fight, thirsting for vengeance as long as they have breath for life”

rudyard kipling  - from the poem norman and saxon  

“When he stands like an ox in the furrow with his sullen eyes set on your own, and grumbles 'this is not fair dealing' my son, leave the Saxon alone”

a.b waring

“The trouble with the English is they never see the writing on the wall, until they have their backs to it”

mark twain  

How superbly brave is the Englishman in the presence of the awfulest forms of danger and death; and how abject in the presence of any and all forms of hereditary rank.

william Shakespeare - king john

“This England never did, nor never shall, lie at the proud foot of a conqueror.”

michael a. hoffman II

”White, self-hating liberals and greed-head conservatives who claim to care for the "civil rights" of black and third world people, discard the working class of their own people on the garbage heap of history. When they are finished with their own they shall surely turn on others.Those who care for their own kind first are not practicing "hate" but kindness, which is the very root of the word.”

winston churchill – paris september 1936

“We must recognise that we have a great inheritance in our possession,
which represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries; that there is not one of our simple uncounted rights today for which better men than we are have not died on the scaffold or the battlefield. We have not only a great treasure; we have a great cause. Are we taking every measure within our power to defend that cause?

bernard cornwell - 'the last kingdom'

"Our ancestors took this land. They took it and made it and held it. We do not give up what our ancestors gave us. They came across the sea and they fought here, and they built here and they're buried here. This is our land, mixed with our blood, strengthened with our bone. Ours!"

from the movie ivanhoe 1955

"Can Saxons fight? All day and through the night!"

david starkey - historian

Essentially English history did not start with the Romans or the Normans. It was the Anglo-Saxons who created the monarchy and culture we still have today….Everything that is wonderful and useful in England, from the language to the constitution, is traceable to them”

'birdie' bowers - who died lying next to robert falcon scott in the antarctic

"I love my country, and trust that I shall not be found wanting when the day comes to act. That dear old country - Iwonder if a fraction of it's inhabitants appreciate it's worth, or does it require a probation of long absences to show one that that little island is the best, the very best place on God's earth".

winston churchill

"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy." 

jarevin de rochefort

“The English beer is best in all Europe and it was necessary to drink two or three pots of beer during our parley: for no kind of business is transacted in England without the intervention of pots of beer.”

frederick hackwood’s inns, ales, and drinking customs of old England (1910)

It is the English practice of all others that is characteristically stupid, in that it leads to unnecessary drinking; for a meeting of friends on the common ground of a public-house is invariably celebrated by their drinking together, and, as a rule, an end cannot be put to the celebration till each man has acquitted himself by paying for ‘drinks round’ - and therefore the larger the party the larger the number of drinks taken, and probably all of them except the first quite unnecessary, either for the quenching of thirst or the celebration of a happy meeting.

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