THE ENGLISHMAN AS HE ISN’T
“England expects that every man will do his duty.”
As every English schoolboy knows, or used to know, this was the message of Lord Nelson to his sailors on the great day of Trafalgar, October 21, 1805. He was appealing to the spirit of his men, to their sense of duty as sailors and of loyalty as Englishmen, at the beginning of this crucial naval battle against the French. And he himself set a noble example of devotion to duty when he died at his position at the very moment of victory. Since then he has been regarded as one of the great heroes; and his memory is memory is enshrined in the impressive Nelson Column standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square in London.
Here in Trafalgar Square, as every Japanese tourist knows, is the heart, if not of historic London, at least of the modern sightseers’ London. The Tower of London and St.
Paul’s Cathedral, for all their fame, are somehow off the beaten track – the main tourist route. But Westminster – with the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Hall, No. 10 Downing Street, the Horse Guards – forms an incomparable cluster of sights to see and pictures to photograph, leading up to Trafalgar Square as its climax. Here one comes upon the National Gallery, the church of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, the Admiralty, and at the heart of them all the Nelson Column or Monument.
It is also from here that one passes under the Admiralty Arch and along the wide avenue of the Mall to Buckingham Palace, the London home of the Kings and Queens of England. Here, too, the tourists gather, with their cameras, every morning at 10.30 to watch the changing of the guard; and they gaze with wide-eyed wonder at the bright red uniforms and tall black busbies of the Grenadier Guards. What fills them with even greater wonder is the rigid immobility of the guards, as they stand to attention beside the gate leading to the Palace. Some of them venture to stand next to one or other of the guards to have their photo taken; but he seems to pay no attention – as if he were a waxwork soldier, and not a real human being. Some children have even known to touch him, to see if he moves!
Yet these Grenadiers, for all their immobility and anonymity, are accorded – no less than Lord Nelson – a place among the great English heroes. There is even a song which every English schoolboy knows, or used to know, beginning with the words: “Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules”; and it concludes: “But of all the world’s great heroes there’s none that can compare … to the British Grenadiers.” Thus what we see with our eyes, in their resplendent uniforms, is confirmed by what we here with our ears, in the resounding tune of this song – especially when we see the Grenadiers, no longer motionless on guard or merely changing the guard, but parading up and down to the Queen’s Birthday.
Here, one feels, is an apt symbol of England’s greatness – from the time of Good Queen Bess, when we repelled the Spanish Armada, to the time of the present Queen, the second Elizabeth, when (at least, in her girlhood, during her father’s reign) we repelled the Nazi menace from our shores. Here in our soldiers, such as the Grenadiers, and in our sailors, such as those who served under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, we look up to those who not only defend the shores of England from foreign invasion, but also protect the interests of England in all four corners of the earth – wherever extends, or used to extend, the boundary of the British Empire. We see them smartly marching through the streets in state processions, with spine erect, chin thrust back and eyes looking straight ahead. And we are proud of them.
All this pageantry – with all these historical memories and associations – enters into the image of the “English Gentleman,” as it has spread throughout the world “from China to Peru.” He may no longer wear his uniform, whether as a soldier or as a sailor. He is more likely to be wearing – according to the popular image – a dark suit with pin-striped trousers, a bowler hat in place of a busby, and an umbrella in place of a rifle. But his manner of standing erect, and walking straight forward, his strict punctuality, and polite formality, will be the same. All this, I say, is the popular image; but the popular image, I must add, is altogether wrong. It is precisely an image of the Englishman as he isn’t.
【住所】 愛知県名古屋市東区筒井２丁目４－５２ ３Ｆ