lesson22 The Beauty of Britain
The Beauty of Britain
1.The beauty of our country—or at least all of its sout of North Scotland—isas hard to define as it is easy to enjoy. Remembering that it is immensely varied with a small range.We have here no vast mountain ranges，no boundless plains，no miles of forest，and are deprived of grandeur that may accompany these things.But we have superb variety.A great deal of everything is packed into little space.I suspect that we are always faintly conscious of the fact that this is a smallish island，with the sea always round the corner.We know that everything has to be neatly packed into a small space. Nature, we feel，has carefully adjusted things—mountains，plains，rivers，lakes—to the scale of the island itself.A mountainn 12,000 feet high would be a horrible monster here,as wrong as a plain 400 miles long，a river as broad as the Mississippi. In America the whole scale is too big,except for avaitors.There is always too much of everything.There you find yourself in a region that is all mountains，then in another region that is merely part of one immense plain.You can spend a long，hard day in the Rockies simply travelling up or down one valley.You can wander across prairie country that has the desolating immensity of the ocean.Everything is too big；there is too much of it.
2.Though the geographical features of this island are comparativelly small，and there is astonishing variety almost everywhere，that does not mean that our mountains are not mountains，our plains not plains.Consider that piece of luck of ours，the Lake District.You climb with ease——as I have doen many a time——several of its mountains in one day. Nevertheless，you feel that they are mountains and not mere hills —— ass a correspondent told a story that proves my point.A party of climbers imported a Swiss guide into the Lake District，and on the first morning，surveying the misty peaks before him，he pointed to a ledge about two thirds of the way up one of them and suggested that the party should spend the night there.He didn't know that that ledge wass only an hour or two' climb away and that before the light went they would probably have conquered two or three of these peaks.He hadn't realised the scale of the country.He didn't know that he was looking at mountains in miniature.What he did know was that he was certainly looking at mountains，and he was right，for these peaks，some of them less than 3，000 feet high，have all the air of great mountains.
3.With variety gose surprise.Ours is the country of happy surprises.You have never to travel long without being pleasantly astonished.It would not be difficult to compile a list of such surprises that would fill the nest fifty pages,but I will content myself with suggesting the first few that occur to me.If you go down into the West Country，among rounded hills and soft pastures，you suddenly arrive at the bleak tablelands as if the North had left a piece of itself down there.But before you have reached them you have already been surprised by the queer bit of marshland，as if a former inhavitant had been sent to Cambridge and had brought his favourite marshland walk back from college with him into the West.
4.The Weald is another of them .East Anglia has a kind of rough heath country of its own that I for one never expect to find there and am always delighted to see.Then，after the easy rolling Midlands，the dramatic Peak District，with its genuine steep slopes，never faild to asstonish me，for I feel that it has no business to be there.A car will take you all round the Peak District in a morning.It is nothing but a crumpled green pocket handerchief.Again，there has always been something surprising to me about those cone-shaped hills that suddenly pop up in Shropshire and along the Welsh border,I have never explored this regionn properly，and so it remains to me a country of mystery,with a delightful fairy-tale quality about its cone-shaped hills.Nevertheless，we hear of search parties going out there to find lost travellers.I could go on with this list of surprise，but perhaps you had better make your own.
5.Another characteristic of our landscape is its exquisite moderation.It looks like the result of one of those happy compromises that make our social and political plans so irrational and yet so succesful.It has been born of a compromise between wildness and tameness，between Nature and Man.In many countries you pass straight from regions where men have left their mark in every inch of ground to other regions that are desolate wilderess.Abroad，we have all notice how abruptly most of the cities seem to begin;here,no city;there,the city.With us the cities pretend they are not really there until wee are well inside them.They almost insinuate themselves into the countryside.This comes from another compromise of ours,the suburb.There is a great deal to be said for the suburb.To people of moderate means，compelled to live fairly near their work in a city，the suburb offers the most civilised way of life.Nearlly all Englishmen are at heart country gentlemen. The suburban villa enables the salesman or the clerk,our of hours,to be a country gentleman.（Let us admit that it offers his wife and children more solic advantages.）A man in a newish suburb feels that he has one foot in the city and one in the country.As this is the kind of compromise he likes，he is happy.
6.We must return，however，to the landscape，which I suggest is the result of compromise between wilderness and cultivation,Nature and Man.One reason for this is that it comtains that exquisite balance between Nature and Man.We see a cornfield and cottage，both solid evidences of man's presence.But notice how these things，in the middle of the scene,are surrounded by witnesses to that ancient England that was nearly all forest and heath.The fence and the gate are man-made，but are not severely regular and trim——as they would be in some other countries.The trees and hedges，the grass and wild flowers in teh foreground，all suggest that Nature hasn't been force into obedience.Even the cottage,which has an irregularty and colouring that make it fit snugly into the landscape （as all good cottages should do）,looks nearly as much a piece of natural history as the trees：you feel it might have grown there.In some countries,that cottage would have been an uncompromising cube of brick,which would have declared,“No nonsense now.Man,the drainer,the tiller，the builder，has settled here.”In this English scene there is no such direct opposition.Men and trees and flowers,we feel,have all settled down comfortably together.The motto is “Live and let live.”This exquisite harmony between Nature and Man explains in part the enchantment of the older Britain，in which whole towns fitted snugly into the landscape，as if they were no more than bits of woodland；and roads went winding the easiest way as naturally as rivers；and it was impossible to say where cultivation ended and wild life began.It was a country rich in trees，birds，and wild flowers，as we can see to this day.