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现代大学英语精读(第2版)第六册:U12 Notes on the English Character(9)

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Of course there are cruel and treacherous people in England—one has only to look at the police courts—and examples of public infamy can be found, such as the Amritsar massacre. But one does not look at the police courts or the military mind to find the soul of any nation; and the more English people one meets the more convinced one becomes that the charges as a whole are untrue. Yet foreign critics often make them. Why? Partly because they are annoyed with certain genuine defects in the English character, and in their irritation throw in cruelty in order to make the problem simpler. Moral indignation is always agreeable, but nearly always misplaced. It is indulged in both by the English and by the critics of the English. They all find it great fun. The drawback is that while they are amusing themselves the world becomes neither wiser nor better.

The main point of these notes is that the English character is incomplete. No national character is complete. We have to look for some qualities in one part of the world and others in another. But the English character is incomplete in a way that is particularly annoying to the foreign observer. It has bad surface —self complacent, unsympathetic, and reserved. There is plenty of emotion further down, but it never gets used. There is plenty of brain power, but it is more often used to confirm prejudices than to dispel them. With such an equipment the Englishman cannot be popular. Only I would repeat: there is little vice in him and no real coldness. It is the machinery that is wrong.
I hope and believe myself that in the next twenty years we shall see a great change, and that the national character will alter into something that is less unique but more lovable. The supremacy of the middle classes is probably ending. What new element the working classes will introduce one cannot say, but at all events they will not have been educated at public schools. And whether these notes praise or blame the English character—that is only incidental. They are the notes of a student who is trying to get at the truth and would value the assistance of others. I believe myself that the truth is great and that it shall prevail. I have no faith in official caution and reticence. The cats are all out of their bags, and diplomacy cannot recall them. The nations must understand one another and quickly; and without the interposition of their governments, for the shrinkage of the globe is throwing them into one another's arms. To that understanding these notes are a feeble contribution—notes on the English character as it has struck novelist.

重点单词   查看全部解释    
reserved [ri'zə:vd]


adj. 保留的,预订的,冷淡的,缄默的

irritation [.iri'teiʃən]


n. 刺激,烦恼,刺激物

unsympathetic ['ʌn.simpə'θetik]


adj. 不表同情的,无情的,不共鸣的

blame [bleim]


n. 过失,责备
vt. 把 ... 归咎于,

reticence ['retisəns]


n. 无言,沉默,谨慎

agreeable [ə'gri:əbəl]


adj. 愉快的,和蔼可亲的,欣然同意的,一致的

annoying [ə'nɔiiŋ]


adj. 恼人的,讨厌的

diplomacy [di'pləuməsi]


n. 外交

incomplete [.inkəm'pli:t]


adj. 不完全的,不完整的

dispel [di'spel]


v. 驱散,驱逐