Britain’s government is currently trying to think of ways to discourage migrants coming to these shores from Bulgaria and Romania when these countries are admitted to the European Union in a few months. Allegations are being made that this is making Britain seem to be the nasty country, unwelcome to foreigners, only adding to the problems caused by a long standing unwillingness to learn other languages. But this hostility to other nations is a recent development. In the 18th century, merchants from Bristol and other trading ports often sent their sons abroad to the colonies to learn the languages and customs of their clients, often where they had estates. Young men often went on The Grand Tour to improve their education, which included improving their skills in languages such as Latin, Greek, French and others. when Henry VIII closed the monasteries, and in the Civil War, there was so much disruption that patronage of trades and fine arts largely died out, so the arts and trades were largely lost, having to be imported in later times from the Continent, often in the form of Hugenots who were expelled at various times by Catholic rulers there. Trades such as weaving and lacemaking were especially important to the West Country which was famous for many centuries for its fine woolen cloth.
Here is an example from ‘And So To Bath’:
“The early prosperity of Calne as a cloth-weaving centre was largely based on Edward III’s permission for one John Kempe to impart a colony of weavers from Flanders. “Happy the yeoman’s house which one of these Dutchmen did enter, bringing industry and wealth with them,” wrote Dr Fuller. So large was the quantity of cloth manufactured in Calne that when, according to Evelyn, the diarist, an old knight wished to move some deer from Bowood to Spye Park, a distance of more than a mile, he drove them between two walls of Calne cloth!”