The Englishman is a man that Santiago runs into on his journey to find treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. The Englishman studies alchemy, and he helps Santiago by introducing him to it. The Englishman believes in omens (p. 68). He is a scholar and philosopher.
All his life and all his studies were aimed at finding the one true language of the universe. (p. 68)
The alchemist is the man who understands the universal language, according to the Englishman. He imparts this wisdom to Santiago. When a caravan shows up going to Egypt, the Englishman says it is a good omen (p. 73), “there’s no such thing as coincidence” (p. 75).
Santiago is most interested in the book that tells the stories of the alchemists (p. 83) and he listens to the Englishman’s stories. The Englishman gives him another piece of the puzzle in finding his personal legend.
Quotes from: http://www.amazon.com/The-Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0061122416/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347998419&sr=8-1&keywords=the+alchemist
Santiago meets the Englishman before they begin their journey to Egypt. The Englishman is initially reading a book and recognizes that Santiago is holding the Urim and Thummim. After Santiago tells the Englishman that he is in search of treasure, the Englishman responds by saying that he too is searching for treasure in a way. During their journey through the desert, the Englishman teaches Santiago about the Soul of the World and allows him to read his books. Santiago learns that "all things are the manifestation of one thing only" from one of the Englishman's books. Santiago also gains insight into the world of alchemy by learning about the Master Work and the Exlir of Life. The relationship with the Englishman is an important part of Santiago's journey to reaching his destiny. The Englishman shares his wisdom with Santiago and is a friendly acquaintance throughout the long journey across the desert. Santiago also learns valuable lessons about alchemy and understanding the Soul of the World from the Englishman.