Then & Now: Set in a silver sea

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The Independent Online
May 1924: A year after succeeding Bonar Law as Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin told the Royal Society of St George of his vision of England:

'England is the country, and the country is England. And when I ask myself what I mean by England, when I think of England when I am abroad, England comes to me through my various senses - through the eye, and through certain imperishable scents . . .

'The sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill, the sight that has been in England since England was a land, and may be seen in England long after the Empire has perished and every works in England has ceased to function, for centuries the one eternal sight of England. The wild anenomes in the woods in April, the last load at night of hay being drawn down a lane as the twilight comes on . . . and above all, most subtle, most penetrating and most moving, the smell of woodsmoke coming up in an autumn evening . . .'

April 1993: John Major describes his vision of Britain within Europe to the Conservative Group for Europe:

'Fifty years from now, Britain will still be the country of long shadows on county grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers, and - as George Orwell said - old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist. And, if we get our way, Shakespeare still read - even in school. Britain will survive unamendable in all essentials.'