'...when I stood on that high ledge this morning and viewed the land before me, I distinctly felt that rare, yet unmistakable feeling - the feeling that one is in the presence of greatness. We call this land of ours Great Britain, and there may be those who believe this is a somewhat immodest practice. Yet I would venture that the landscape of our country alone would justify the use of this lofty adjective.
And yet what precisely is this greatness? Just where, or in what, does it lie? I am quite aware it would take a far wiser head than mine to answer such a question, but if I were forced to hazard a guess, I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it. In comparison, the sorts of sights offered in such places as Africa and America, though undoubtedly very exciting, would, I am sure, strike the objective viewer as inferior on account of their unseemly demonstrativeness.
The whole question is very akin to the question that has caused much debate in our profession over the years: what is a 'great' butler?...'
lllustration by Finn Campbell-Notman for
the Folio edition of The Remains of the Day