By NICHOLAS PARKER
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When Montague himself attempts to present a narrative journey of locations across the country however, those he picks seem to comprise places heavily slanted towards the South of the country. ’xi Envisioning this journey from Southern metropolis to Northern mountain-top is, Montague claims, a means by which the English subject can “render all England impossibly and beautifully small” since “you have made her almost as practicable an object of sense, and of sensuous love, as some garden in which you played as a boy” (104).
But at some points there is another strand to Montague’s perception of the nation that asserts a nationalism of the North alone. This complicates the construction of him as being simply patriotic. Returning to “Little England” it is striking that ‘England’ does not appear to constitute the entire nation. Montague begins the article with the complaint that English subjects cannot physically conceive of their entire nation, another suggestion of their failure to truly fulfill their obligations to patriotism: What sort of love could a mother expect from a son who had never yet got a good sight of her face, although he had seen, shall we say, the tips of a few of her nails, or perhaps a square inch of her skin?
Can we go on bowing and curtseying to people who are just like ourselves? Are we not already a little ashamed of the pushing and the staring [of the masses watching the Royals] now that we know from these two stout volumes that one at least of the animals can talk? We begin to wish that the Zoo should be abolished; that the royal animals should be given the run of some wider pasturage... (240) English society’s position, relative to the nation state’s infrastructure, is suddenly empowered, capable of choosing to abolish the current power structure and thus amend the societal one, while the object of our collective wonder is no more than a trapped animal.