Sunday, June 13, 2010

Who Do Those Bloody Brits Think They Are?

As it turns out, rudeness has been a part of English culture for a while now.
The social satires of 18th-century Britain – the heyday of Gillray, Cruikshank and Rowlandson as well as Hogarth – are the result of this empowerment, this freedom to be rude to the highest in the land, this thumbing of the popular nose at monarchy and authority. It was beyond belief that such an attitude could have flourished in France after the return of the Bourbon monarchy, or in Italy, Spain or Germany. But it took root in England. The 18th-century Englishman was a remarkable figure, an aggressive, imperialist merchant revelling in the prosperity of the age and the greatness of his nation over other continentals; he was also suspicious of the new power-brokers who had replaced the old hierarchy of the royal court. He wasn't sure if the people representing him in Parliament were quite up to scratch; and he reserved the right to hold them to account, to confront and abuse them, should the occasion demand. And thus was born the Rude Briton.

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