Strictly speaking, there is nothing really and truly British; everybody and everything is a naturalised alien. Viewed as Britons, we all of us, human and animal, differ from one another simply in the length of time we and our ancestors have continuously inhabited this favoured and foggy isle of Britain. Look, for example, at the men and women of us. Some of us, no doubt, are more or less remotely of Norman blood, and came over, like that noble family the Slys, with Richard Conqueror. Others of us, perhaps, are in the main Scandinavian, and date back a couple of generations earlier, to the bare-legged followers of Canute and Guthrum. Yet others, once more, are true Saxon Englishmen, descendants of Hengest, if there ever was a Hengest, or of Horsa, if a genuine Horsa ever actually existed. None of these, it is quite clear, have any just right or title to be considered in the last resort as true-born Britons; they are all of them just as much foreigners at bottom as the Spitalfields Huguenots or the Pembrokeshire Flemings, the Italian organ-boy and the Hindoo prince disguised as a crossing-sweeper. But surely the Welshman and the Highland Scot at least are undeniable Britishers, sprung from the soil and to the manner born! Not a bit of it; inexorable modern science, diving back remorselessly into the remoter past, traces the Cymry across the face of Germany, and fixes in shadowy hypothetical numbers the exact date, to a few centuries, of the first prehistoric Gaelic invasion. Even the still earlier brown Euskarians and yellow Mongolians, who held the land before the advent of the ancient Britons, were themselves immigrants; the very Autochthones in person turn out, on close inspection, to be vagabonds and wanderers and foreign colonists. In short, man as a whole is not an indigenous animal at all in the British Isles. Be he who he may, when we push his pedigree back to its prime original, we find him always arriving in the end by the Dover…

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