Q. When is an island not an island?

A. Just about all the time, it seems, if it's Britain:

Lord Palmerston in 1845, on the coming of the steam ship:

... the Channel is no longer a barrier. Steam navigation has rendered that which was before impassable by a military force nothing more than a river passable by a steam bridge.Quoted in I. F. Clarke, Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars 1763-3749 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 20.

Georges Valbert in 1883, on the proposed Channel Tunnel:

It will be a prodigious event in the life of an insular people, when they find that they are islanders no more. Nothing is more likely to excite and alarm them, or to affect and upset their preconceived ideas.Quoted in ibid., 95. Clarke gives the date as 1833, but 1883 makes a lot more sense, and is confirmed by this page.

Lord Northcliffe in 1906, on Alberto Santos-Dumont's flight:

England is no longer an island ... It means the aerial chariots of a foe descending on British soil if war comes.Quoted in Alfred Gollin, No Longer an Island: Britain and the Wright Brothers, 1902-1909 (London: Heinemann, 1984), 193.

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