Home thoughts are best from abroad. Memory is a better nurse of patriotism than experience, generally because memory is more easily deluded, and distance lends enchantment. Love for Jerusalem flows by the waters of Babylon. Improbably but convincingly, Macaulay’s Jacobite preferred Scargill to Florence. Almost the only poem all Dutch people know is Denkend aan Holland – a heart-wringing evocation of flat landscape and cloud-filled skies. It was written in Sweden. To imagine England, go to some corner of a foreign field.
The Return of the King is a genuine theme of the founding-myths of countless dynasties. Many modern nations took shape in exiles’ dreams. Venezuela hardly existed even as an administrative unit of the Spanish Empire until Miranda went to London and Bolívar to Haiti and Kingston. Most other post-colonial nationalism