The English are a nation of shopkeepers proverbial saying, early 19th century; attributed to Napoleon, but a similar usage is found earlier in the writings of Adam Smith (1732–90), ‘To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.’An earlier reference to the same idea is found in J. Tucker's Letter from a Merchant (1766), ‘A shopkeeper will never get the more custom by beating his own customers; and what is true of a shopkeeper, is true of a shopkeeping nation.’
English Pale that part of Ireland (see pale 1) over which England exercised jurisdiction before the whole country was conquered. Centred on Dublin, it varied in extent at different times from the reign of Henry II until the full conquest under Elizabeth I. The term was also used for a small area round Calais, the only part of France remaining in English hands after the Hundred Years War. It was recaptured by France in 1558.
See also Englishman.