On Character

"The steps by which England shifted from buying modest quantities of sugar from Mediterranean shippers; to importing in her own bottoms a somewhat larger supply; to buying yet larger quantities from the Portuguese, first in the Atlantic islands and then in the colonies - first to feed herself and to vie with Portugal for customers and then, with time, simply to feed herself, finishing the processing in her own refineries - are complex, but they followed so orderly a fashion as to seem almost inevitable. On the one hand, they represent an extension of empire outward, but on the other, they mark absorption, a kind of swallowing up, or sugar consumption as a national habit. Like tea, sugar came to define English 'character.' (S.P.)