After a lecture I once gave in Boston on Spaniards' treatment of the indigenous peoples of their empire, the mayor rose from the audience to ask me whether I thought English behaviour towards the Irish was not worse. The strength of the Irish legacy in Boston is one of the many signs that make you feel, wherever you go in New England, that you are on the shore of a pond and that the same cultures that you left behind on one side of it have spread to the other with remarkably little change, and remarkably little loss of identity, along the way. In Providence, Rhode Island, the only resident foreign consul is Portuguese; you can buy sweet bread for breakfast or pasteis de Tentúgaltor tea. A parking lot a few blocks from Brown University is marked with the sign, ‘Do Not Park Here Unless You Are Portuguese’. Ancestral homes, ancestral grievances are easily recalled. There are similar patches of Irishness and Portuguese identity dotted here and there all along this coast, mirroring home and looking back across the ocean. They are surrounded with other peoples’ transatlantic reminiscences and continuities. New England is a seaboard civilization, a narrow, sea-soaked coast with a culture shaped by maritime outreach; but, more than that, it is part of a civilization of two seaboards which face each other.