After a long sojourn in England, I returned to France, where they order these things better: these things being, among others, the towns, the cities, the shops, the cafés, the roads, the countryside, and social relations in general.

As soon as you cross the Channel you notice that the level of vulgarity declines precipitously. The French do not set out, as so many British now do, both to look and behave like barbarians with a personal grudge against civilization, which they are doing their very best to destroy and whose last vestiges they seek out in order to eliminate. The French do not regard their countryside as the British now do, as merely a repository of the rubbish in their cars generated by their inability to go longer than ten minutes without refreshing themselves with drink and fast food.

I am not the first to notice the difference between the two countries, of course. John Stuart Mill, for example,...


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