Propose to an Englishman any principle, or any instrument, however admirable, and you will observe that the whole effort of the English mind is directed to find a difficulty, defect, or an impossibility in it. If you speak to him of a machine for peeling a potato, he will pronounce it impossible: if you peel a potato with it before his eyes, he will declare it useless, because it will not slice a pineapple. Impart the same principle or show the same machine to an American, or to one of our colonists, and you will observe that the whole effort of his mind is to find some new application of the principle, some new use for the instrument. ”
Charles Babbage, 1852, in a paper on taxation. Cited on page 132 of Doron Swade : The Cogwheel Brain: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer. London, UK: Little, Brown and Company.