An Englishman cannot now travel in another land....
but it is contumeliously thrown in his teeth that all
Englishmen have tails.
How did this curious belief arise? Well, it seems to have its origin in the fact that certain groups of Englishmen used to say it about inhabitants of other parts of their country. The people of Devon certainly said it about those of Cornwall. The Cornish, by the way, are not English in origin but Celtic and for a long time had their own language. This will have perhaps emphasized the difference between them and their Devonian neighbors. The writer Polydore Vergil asserted that it was true of some of the inhabitants of Kent. He says that when Saint Thomas Becket (sometimes mistakenly called à Becket) fell out with King Henry II, some of the people of Rochester in Kent cut off the tail of his horse, as a result of which their descendants were born with tails.