National Geographic : 1918 Dec
THE NATIONAL GEO It is common to speak of the English as an Anglo-Saxon people, though the expression is false and misleading. All Anglo-Saxons are English but multitudes of the English are not Anglo-Saxon. In his ode to Alexandra, Ten nyson strikes a truer note, "Norman and Saxon and Dane are we." The main work of the Saxon was accom plished in the occupation and populating of Greater Britain. He furnished the basic mass of a vigorous, resolute, enduring people. The Scandinavian, who was Norseman, or Norman, was the most independent and venturesome of all the early makers of modern Europe. Through the vast expanse of land and ocean, from Russia and the Black Sea to remote Ice land and Greenland, there was no region which his passion for discovery and conquest did not attempt. The English, sprung from the loins of the Anglo-Saxon and the Norman, inherit whatever was best in their progenitors. Unparalleled achievements on land and sea, the building of an Empire in comparison with which the Roman Empire was small, creation and development of Magna Charta and of constitutional government and law and, as basis and compeller of such achievements, the grit that brooks no defeat, are the contribu tion of no single tribe or group of ancestors but proceed from the combined spirit of what is enduring in them all. A brilliant French man finds the key to English character in the one word, "self-reliance." This war has not created the Englishman. He is no different now from what he was be fore it began. It has simply afforded fresh revelation to himself and to us of what he is: Often arrogant, but seldom vain; fair in fight and just in victory; warm-hearted under a cold demeanor; fundamentally conservative when most radical; insular and narrow, yet with the genius of world-rule; seldom loved abroad, but loved and lovable at home; despising meanness and deceit and himself loyal to the last. Were the Italians, the French, and the Brit ish to enter into comparison, no jury could be found competent to determine which stood foremost in the products of the intellectual life. There is, however, one transcendant name, an English name, though it seems not so much to belong to one race as to all races Shakespeare, the interpreter of humanity, myr iad-minded, and of all writers the most un translatable and the most easily understood. From the British Isles the British race, in circles ever widening, has encompassed the earth. More than any other race in all the past, it has carried with it civilization and equal op portunity and liberty. Under its protection in the farthest continents and seas its offspring have erected self-governing Dominions and Commonwealths, whose proudest inheritance is their British lineage and their British loyalty.* *See also, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, "Great Britain's Bread Upon the Waters," by ex-President William H. Taft (March, 1916). GRAPHIC MAGAZINE 533 THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES Its medium of communication is the English language, spoken by well-nigh 200,000,000 per sons as their mother tongue. Those 200,000,000 as a body are the most enterprising, most wealthy, most intelligent in the world. No other language, even in China or Hindustan, is spoken by half as many. Beside the enormous host of whom it is the birthright, its diffusion among other millions is rapidly increasing. One is startled as he hears it in the commands on Eastern steamers, or in interviews between foreign magnates, or in remote villages where presumably no British person has ever been. In the heritage of that well-nigh universal language the American has his share. In the bonds and sympathies created by it he finds his kith and kin. Eloquently were these inheritances recalled by the modest gentleman who presides over the British Dominions, in his address welcoming to Great Britain the President of the United States: "We welcome you to the country whence came your ancestors and where stand the homes of those from whom sprang Washington and Lin coln. . . . You come as the official head and spokesman of a mighty Commonwealth bound to us by the closest ties. Its people speak the tongue of Shakespeare and Milton. Our litera ture is yours, as yours is also ours, and men of letters in both countries have joined in main taining its incomparable glories. "To you, not less than to us, belong the memo ries of our national heroes from King Alfred down to the days of Philip Sydney and Drake, of Raleigh and Blake, and Hampden, and the days when the political life of the English stock in America was just beginning. You share with us the traditions of free self-government as old as the Magna Charta. "We recognize the bond of still deeper signifi cance in the common ideals which our people cherish. First among those ideals you value and we value freedom and peace. Privileged as we have been to be the exponents and the examples in national life of the principles of popular self-government based upon equal laws, it now falls to both of us alike to see how these principles can be applied beyond our own bor ders for the good of the world." In the goodly fellowship of the Entente Allies, British and Americans, for the first time in all their history, have bared their breasts side by side against a common foe. They have bled together as champions of those who cherish their own individual rights and respect the rights of mankind. No formal parchment, however drawn up and signed, could further strengthen and hallow such alli ance of heart and purpose. As General Pershing has well said in his re port after the conclusion of hostilities, "Alto gether it has been deeply impressed on us that the ties of language and blood bring the British and ourselves together completely and insep arably."