There is no more effective way of bonding together the disparate sections of restless peoples than to unite them against outsiders. [E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780 (Cambridge, 1990), p. 91]
Britain is an invented nation, not so much older than the United States. [Peter Scott, Knowledge and Nation (Edinburgh, 1990), p. 168]
The morning of Saturday, September 14, 1793, was bitterly cold, and George Macartney, Viscount Macartney of Dervock in the county of Antrim, had been up since four o'clock, making final preparations for his audience with the emperor of China at his summer palace at Jehol, just north of the Great Wall. He stood waiting in the large, silken tent for over an hour before Ch'ien-lung eventually arrived, “seated in an open palanquin, carried by sixteen bearers, attended by numbers of officers bearing flags, standards, and umbrellas.” To the fury of the watching Chinese courtiers who had wanted him to execute the full kowtow (three separate kneelings and nine knockings of the head on the floor), Macartney went down on one knee only and presented the emperor with a letter from George III in a gold casket covered with diamonds. He followed this with other gifts—pottery, the best that Josiah Wedgwood's factory in Staffordshire could produce, a diving bell patented by the Anglo-Scottish engineer John Smeaton, sword blades from Birmingham, an orrery, a telescope, and some clocks.