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Hilaire Belloc

Born 27 July 1870
La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France
Died 16 July 1953 (aged 82)
Guildford, England
Occupation Writer, Member of Parliament (1906-1910)
Nationality French-British
Period 1896-1953
Genres Poetry, History, Essays, Politics, Economics, Travel literature
Spouse(s) Elodie Hogan, 1896-1914

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 1870[1] – 16 July 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He is most notable for his Roman Catholic faith, which had an impact on most of his writing.

Recent biographies of Belloc have been written by A. N. Wilson and Joseph Pearce.


Family and career

Hilaire Belloc Portrait.jpg

Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France (next to Versailles and near Paris) to a French father and English mother, and grew up in England. Much of his boyhood was spent in Slindon, West Sussex, for which he often felt homesick in later life. This is evidenced in poems such as, "West Sussex Drinking Song", "The South Country", and even the more melancholy, "Ha'nacker Mill".

His mother Elizabeth Rayner Parkes (1829–1925) was also a writer, and a great-granddaughter of the English chemist Joseph Priestley. In 1867 she married attorney Louis Belloc, son of the French painter Jean-Hilaire Belloc. In 1872, five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her son Hilaire, along with his sister, Marie, back to England where he remained, except for his voluntary enlistment as a young man in the French artillery.

After being educated at John Henry Newman's Oratory School (located at the time in Edgbaston, Birmingham), Belloc served his term of military service, as a French citizen, with an artillery regiment near Toul in 1891. After his military service, Belloc proceeded to Balliol College, Oxford, as a History scholar. He went on to obtain first class honours in History, and never lost his love for Balliol, as is illustrated by his verse, "Balliol made me, Balliol fed me/ Whatever I had she gave me again".

He was powerfully built, with great stamina, and walked extensively in Britain and Europe. While courting his future wife Elodie, whom he first met in 1890, the impecunious Belloc walked a good part of the way from the midwest of the United States to her home in northern California, paying for lodging at remote farm houses and ranches by sketching the owners and reciting poetry.

He was the brother of the novelist Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes. In 1896, he married Elodie Hogan, an American. In 1906 he purchased land and a house called King's Land at Shipley, West Sussex where he brought up his family and lived until shortly before his death. Elodie and Belloc had five children before her 1914 death from influenza.

His son Louis was killed in 1918 while serving in the Royal Flying Corps in northern France. Belloc placed a memorial tablet in the Cathedral at nearby Cambrai. It is in the same side chapel as the noted icon, Our Lady of Cambrai.

Belloc suffered a stroke in 1941 and never recovered from its effects. He died on 16 July 1953 in Guildford, Surrey, following a fall he had at King's Land. He is buried at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation of West Grinstead, where he had regularly attended Mass as a parishioner. [2] At his funeral Mass, homilist Monsignor Ronald Knox observed, "No man of his time fought so hard for the good things."

Church website [1]


Political career

An 1895 graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, Belloc was a noted figure within the University, being President of the Oxford Union, the undergraduate debating society. He went into politics after he became a naturalised British subject. A great disappointment in his life was his failure to gain a fellowship at All Souls College in Oxford. This failure may have been caused in part by his producing a small statue of the Virgin and placing it before him on the table during the interview for the fellowship.

From 1906 to 1910 he was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Salford South, but swiftly became disillusioned with party politics. During one campaign speech he was asked by a heckler if he was a "papist." Retrieving his rosary from his pocket he responded, "Sir, so far as possible I hear Mass each day and I go to my knees and tell these beads each night. If that offends you, then I pray God may spare me the indignity of representing you in Parliament." The crowd cheered and Belloc won the election.

His only period of steady employment was from 1914 to 1920 as editor of Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the war. Otherwise he lived by his pen, and often fell short of money.

In controversy and debate

Belloc first came to public attention shortly after arriving at Balliol College, Oxford as a recent French army veteran. Attending his first debate of the Oxford Union Debating Society, he saw that the affirmative position was wretchedly and half-heartedly defended. As the debate drew to its conclusion and the division of the house was called, he rose from his seat in the audience, and delivered a vigorous, impromptu defense of the proposition. Belloc won that debate from the audience, as the division of the house then showed, and his reputation as a debater was established. He was later elected president of the Union. He held his own in debates there with F. E. Smith and John Buchan, the latter a friend.[3][4]

He was at his most effective in the 1920s, on the attack against H. G. Wells's Outline of History, in which he criticized Wells' secular bias and his belief in evolution by means of natural selection, a theory that Belloc asserted had been completely discredited. Wells remarked that "Debating Mr. Belloc is like arguing with a hailstorm". Belloc's review of Outline of History famously observed that Wells' book was a powerful and well-written volume, "up until the appearance of Man, that is, somewhere around page seven." Wells responded with a small book, Mr. Belloc Objects. [5] Not to be outdone, Belloc followed with, "Mr. Belloc Still Objects."

G. G. Coulton, a keen and persistent academic opponent, wrote on Mr. Belloc on Medieval History in a 1920 article. After a long simmering feud, Belloc replied with a booklet, The Case of Dr. Coulton, in 1938.

His style during later life fulfilled the nickname he received in childhood, Old Thunder. Belloc's friend, Lord Sheffield, described his provocative personality in a preface to The Cruise of the Nona. [6]

In Belloc's novel of travel, The Four Men, the title characters supposedly represent different facets of the author's personality. One of the four improvises a playful song at Christmastime, which includes the verse:

'May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!'

It should be noted that the other characters regard the verse as fairly gauche and ill-conceived, so while part of Belloc may have agreed with this song, it is not necessarily representative of Belloc's personality as a whole.


When later he could afford it he was a well known yachtsman. He won many races and was in the French sailing team.[citation needed] In the early 1930s, he was given an old Jersey pilot cutter called 'Jersey'. He sailed this for some years around the coasts of England, with the help of younger men. One of them, Dermod MacCarthy, wrote a book about his time on the water with Belloc, called Sailing with Mr Belloc.


Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry to the many current topics of his day. He has been called one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters[7], along with H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom debated each other into the 1930s. Belloc was closely associated with Chesterton, and Shaw coined the term Chesterbelloc for their partnership.

Asked once why he wrote so much[8], he responded, "Because my children are howling for pearls and caviar." Belloc observed that "The first job of letters is to get a canon," that is, to identify those works which a writer looks upon as exemplary of the best of prose and verse. For his own prose style, he claimed to aspire to be as clear and concise as "Mary had a little lamb."

Essays and travel writing

His best travel writing has secured a permanent following. The Path to Rome (1902), an account of a walking pilgrimage he made from central France across the Alps and down to Rome, has remained continuously in print. More than a mere travelogue, "The Path to Rome" contains descriptions of the people and places he encountered, his drawings in pencil and in ink of the route, humor, poesy, and the reflections of a large mind turned to the events of his time as he marches along his solitary way. At every turn, Belloc shows himself to be profoundly in love with Europe and with the Faith that he claims has produced it.

As an essayist he was one of a small, admired and dominant group (with Chesterton, E. V. Lucas and Robert Lynd) of popular writers.

There is a passage in The Cruise of the Nona where Belloc, sitting alone at the helm of his boat under the stars, shows profoundly his mind in the matter of Catholicism and mankind; he writes of "That golden Light cast over the earth by the beating of the Wings of the Faith."


Original cover for Cautionary Tales for Children, illustrated by Basil T. Blackwood

His "cautionary tales", humorous poems with an implausible moral, beautifully illustrated by Basil Blackwood and later by Edward Gorey, are the most widely known of his writings. Supposedly for children, they, like Lewis Carroll's works, are more to adult and satirical tastes: Henry King, Who chewed bits of string and was early cut off in dreadful agonies.[9] A similar poem tells the story of Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably.

The tale of Matilda who told lies and was burnt to death was adapted into the play Matilda Liar! by Debbie Isitt. Quentin Blake, the illustrator, described Belloc as at one and the same time the overbearing adult and mischievous child. Roald Dahl was a follower. But Belloc has broader if sourer scope:

It happened to Lord Lundy then
as happens to so many men
about the age of 26
they shoved him into politics ...

leading up to

we had intended you to be
the next Prime Minister but three ...

Of more weight are Belloc's Sonnets and Verses, a volume that deploys the same singing and rhyming techniques of his children's verses. Belloc's poetry is often religious, often romantic; throughout The Path to Rome he writes in spontaneous song.

History, politics, economics

Three of his best-known non-fiction works are The Servile State (1912), Europe and Faith (1920) and The Jews (1922).

From an early age Belloc knew Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, who was responsible for the conversion of his mother to Roman Catholicism. Manning's involvement in the 1889 London Dock Strike made a major impression on Belloc and his view of politics, according to biographer Robert Speaight. Belloc described this retrospectively in The Cruise of the Nona (1925); he became a trenchant critic both of unbridled capitalism[10], and of many aspects of socialism.

With others (G. K. Chesterton, Cecil Chesterton, Arthur Penty) Belloc had envisioned the socioeconomic system of distributism. In The Servile State, written after his party-political career had come to end, and other works, he criticized the modern economic order and parliamentary system, advocating distributism in opposition to both capitalism and socialism. Belloc made the historical argument that distributism was not a fresh perspective or program of economics but rather a proposed return to the economics that prevailed in Europe for the thousand years when it was Catholic. He called for the dissolution of Parliament and its replacement with committees of representatives for the various sectors of society, an idea popular among Fascists under the name of corporatism. Original corporatism, sometimes called "paleo-corporatism", was a system that predates capitalism and fascism. Paleo-corporatism was based around the guilds of the Middle Ages and served to appoint legislators. Neo-corporatism is a fascist system that merges the state with the capitalistic corporations and the corporations then are directed by the state, under nominal private ownership. Belloc's views fit medieval paleo-corporatism rather than neo-corporatist fascism.[citation needed]

With these linked themes in the background, he wrote a long series of contentious biographies of historical figures, including Oliver Cromwell, James II, and Napoleon. They show him as an ardent proponent of orthodox Catholicism and a critic of many elements of the modern world.

Outside academe, Belloc was impatient with what he considered to be axe-grinding histories, especially what he called "official history." [11] Joseph Pearce notes also Belloc's attack on the secularism of H.G. Wells's popular Outline of History:

Belloc objected to his adversary's tacitly anti-Christian stance, epitomized by the fact that Wells had devoted more space in his "history" to the Persian campaign against the Greeks than he had given to the figure of Christ.

He wrote also substantial amounts of military history. In alternative history, he contributed to the 1931 collection If It Had Happened Otherwise edited by Sir John Squire.


Ignatius Press of California and IHS Press of Virginia have been reissuing Belloc. TAN Books of Charlotte, NC publishes a number of Belloc's works, particularly his historical writings.


One of Belloc's most famous statements was "the faith is Europe and Europe is the faith"; this sums up his strongly-held, orthodox Roman Catholic views, and the cultural conclusions he drew from them. Those views were expressed at length in many of his works from the period 1920–1940. These are still cited as exemplary of Catholic apologetics. They have also been criticised, for instance by comparison with the work of Christopher Dawson during the same period.

As a young man, Belloc lost his faith. Then came a spiritual event which he never discussed publicly, and which returned him to and confirmed him in his Catholicism for the remainder of his life.[citation needed] Belloc alludes to this return to the faith in a passage in The Cruise of the Nona. According to his biographer A.N. Wilson (Hilaire Belloc, Hamish Hamilton), Belloc never wholly apostasized from the Faith (ibid p. 105). The momentous event is fully described by Belloc in The Path to Rome (pp. 158-161). It took place in the French village of Undervelier at the time of Vespers. Belloc said of it, "not without tears", "I considered the nature of Belief" and "it is a good thing not to have to return to the faith". (See Hilaire Belloc by Wilson at pp. 105-106.)

Belloc's Roman Catholicism was uncompromising. He believed that the Roman Catholic Church provided hearth and home for the human spirit .[12] More humorously, his tribute to Catholic culture can be understood from his well-known saying, "Wherever the Catholic sun does shine, there's love and laughter and good red wine." He had a disparaging view of the Church of England, and used sharp words to describe heretics, such as, "Heretics all, whoever you be/ …You never shall have good words from me/ Caritas non conturbat me". Indeed, in his "Song of the Pelagian Heresy" he becomes quite strident, describing how the Bishop of Auxerre, "with his stout Episcopal staff/ So thoroughly thwacked and banged/ The heretics all, both short and tall/ They rather had been hanged".

On Islam

Belloc's 1937 book The Crusades: the World's Debate made no pretence at being impartial. Despite being concerned with events more than eight centuries old, it took sides very vehemently, from the first page on.[13] In his view, had the Crusaders captured Damascus, the Islamic World would have been cut in two and "bled to death of the wound" — which as Belloc explicitly stated, would have been a highly desirable and positive outcome.

Since the Crusaders missed that chance, Islam survived and eventually overwhelmed the Crusader bridgehead in the Middle East. For Belloc this was not a matter of old history: Islam continued to pose a dangerous threat.[14] In The Great Heresies, Belloc argues that, although, "That [Mohammedan] culture happens to have fallen back in material applications; there is no reason whatever why it should not learn its new lesson and become our equal in all those temporal things which now alone give us our superiority over it — whereas in Faith we have fallen inferior to it."[15]

At the time of his writing, the Islamic world was still largely under the rule of the European colonial powers and the threat to Britain was from Fascism and Nazism. Belloc, however, considered that Islam was permanently intent on destroying the Church, as well as the West, which Christendom had built. In The Great Heresies (1938) Belloc grouped the Protestant Reformation together with Islam as one of the major heresies threatening the "Church Universal."

Belloc in that book cited the many beliefs and theological principles which Islam shares with Catholicism[16] — and exactly which, in Belloc's view, identify it as a heresy. Where (in his view) Islam decisively diverges from Catholicism (and Christianity in general) is the "denial of the Incarnation and all the sacramental life of the Church that followed from it" — with Islam regarding Jesus as a human being, though honouring him as a Prophet.[17]

Accusations of anti-Semitism

For fuller discussion, see section in G. K.'s Weekly

Belloc has been deemed by some to be anti-Semitic and not concerned to conceal his views. A. N. Wilson's biography expresses the opinion that Belloc had a tendency to allude to Jews in conversation, in a seemingly obsessive fashion on occasion. Anthony Powell's review of that biography contains Powell's opinion, that Belloc was thoroughly anti-Semitic, except at a personal level.

There are a number of grounds on which the accusations of anti-semitism have been based. He was repeatedly critical, from his days in politics onwards, of the influence Jewish people had on society and the world of finance. In The Cruise of the Nona, Belloc reflected equivocally on the Dreyfus Affair after thirty years.[18] Norman Rose's book The Cliveden Set (2000) poses the question of whether Nancy Astor, a friend of Belloc's in the 1930s until they broke over religious matters, was influenced by him against Jews in general.[19] .

On the other hand, Canadian broadcaster Michael Coren wrote:

Belloc's polemics did periodically drift into the realms of bigotry, but he was invariably a tenacious opponent of philosophical anti-Semitism, ostracized friends who made attacks upon individual Jews, and was an inexorable enemy of fascism and all its works, speaking out against German anti-Semitism before the National Socialists came to power.

Robert Speaight cited a letter by Belloc in which he pilloried Nesta Webster because of her accusations against "the Jews". In February 1924, Belloc wrote to an American Jewish friend regarding an allegedly anti-Semitic book by Webster. Webster had rejected Christianity, studied Eastern religions, accepted the Hindu concept of the equality of all religions and was fascinated by theories of reincarnation and ancestral memory.[20] Belloc expressed his views very clearly:

In my opinion it is a lunatic book. She is one of those people who have got one cause on the brain. It is the good old 'Jewish revolutionary' bogey. But there is a type of unstable mind which cannot rest without morbid imaginings, and the conception of a single cause simplifies thought. With this good woman it is the Jews, with some people it is the Jesuits, with others Freemasons and so on. The world is more complex than that.[21]

Speaight also points out that when faced with anti-Semitism in practice — as at elitist country clubs in America before World War II — he voiced his disapproval. Belloc condemned Nazi anti-Semitism in The Catholic and the War (1940):

The Third Reich has treated its Jewish subjects with a contempt for Justice which even if there had been no other action of the kind in other departments would be a sufficient warranty for determining its elimination from Europe… Cruelty to a Jew is as odious as cruelty to any human being, whether that cruelty be moral in the form of insult, or physical… You may hear men saying on every side, 'However, there is one thing I do agree with and that is the way they (The Nazis) have settled the Jews'. Now that attitude is directly immoral. The more danger there is that it will grow the more necessity there is for denouncing it. The action of the enemy toward the Jewish race has been in morals intolerable. Contracts have been broken on all sides, careers destroyed by the hundred and the thousand, individuals have been treated with the most hideous and disgusting cruelty… If no price is paid for such excesses, our civilisation will certainly suffer and suffer permanently. If the men who have committed them go unpunished (and only defeat in war can punish them) then the decline of Europe, already advanced, will proceed to catastrophe. (pages 29ff.)

Dennis Barton[22] has defended Belloc at length. He notes that Belloc condemned wild accusations against the Jews, in his own book, The Jews. Belloc's open praises for the Jews (particularly in "The Jews, Chapter IV The General Causes of Friction") is further evidence that his anti-Semitism, to the degree that it existed, stemmed rather from unexamined cultural or personal prejudices than from conscious hostility to the Jews.

In the media

  • Stephen Fry has recorded an audio collection of Belloc's children's poetry.
  • A notable admirer of Belloc was the composer Peter Warlock, who set many of his poems to music.
  • A well-known parody of Belloc by Sir John Squire, intended as a tribute, is Mr. Belloc's Fancy.
  • Syd Barrett, a founder of Pink Floyd, was a fan. His song "Matilda Mother" was drawn directly from verses in Cautionary Tales, and was rewritten when Belloc's estate refused permission to record them. The Belloc version has been released on a 40th anniversary reissue of Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
  • In the second episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the tongue-in-cheek skit "The Mouse Problem," satirizing an exposure of homosexuality, names Belloc, along with Julius Caesar and Napoleon, as one of the "famous men now known to have been mice."

See also


  1. ^ Toulmin, Priestley (1 June 1994), "The Descendants of Joseph Priestley, LL.D., F.R.S.", The Northumberland County Historical Society Proceedings (Sunbury, Pennsylvania: The Society) XXXII: 36 
  2. ^ His estate was probated at £7,451.
  3. ^ Sir John Simon who was a contemporary at Oxford, described his "...resonant, deep pitched voice..." as making an "...unforgettable impression".
  4. ^ Francis West, Gilbert Murray, p.107 describes Murray's impression on an occasion in 1899: In July [...] [Murray] attended a meeting on the principles of Liberalism, at which Hilaire Belloc spoke brilliantly although Murray could not afterwards remember a word that he had said.
  5. ^ Wells, H. G., Mr. Belloc Objects, to the Outline of History, Watts & Company, London, 1926
  6. ^ Time and again I have seen him throw out a sufficiently outrageous theory in order to stimulate his company, and, be it said, for the pleasure of seeing how slowly he might be dislodged from a position he had purposely taken up knowing it to be untenable...Of course Belloc was prejudiced, but there were few who knew him who did not love his prejudices, who did not love to hear him fight for them, and who did not honor him for the sincerity and passion with which he held to them. Once the battle was joined all his armoury was marshalled and flung into the fray. Dialectic, Scorn, Quip, Epigram, Sarcasm, Historical Evidence, Massive Argument, and Moral Teaching --of all these weapons he was a past master and each was mobilised and made to play its proper part in the attack. Yet he was a courteous and a chivalrous man. A deeply sensitive man, his was the kindest and most understanding nature I have ever known. In spite of a rollicking and bombastic side he was as incapable of the least cruelty as he was capable of the most delicate sympathy with other people's feelings. As he himself used to say of others in a curiously quiet and simple way, 'He is a good man. He will go to Heaven.'
  7. ^
  8. ^ See Hilaire Belloc's books for a chronological list of work by Belloc
  9. ^ :The Chief Defect of Henry King
    Was chewing little bits of String.
    At last he swallowed some which tied
    Itself in ugly Knots inside.
    Physicians of the Utmost Fame
    Were called at once; but when they came
    They answered, as they took their Fees,
    "There is no Cure for this Disease.
    Henry will very soon be dead."
    His Parents stood about his Bed
    Lamenting his Untimely Death,
    When Henry, with his Latest Breath,
    Cried - "Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
    That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch and Tea
    Are all the Human Frame Requires..."
    With that the Wretched Child expires.
  10. ^ Raymond Williams, Culture and Society, p. 186: Belloc's argument is that capitalism as a system is breaking down, and that this is to be welcomed. A society in which a minority owns and controls the means of production, while the majority are reduced to proletarian status, is not only wrong but unstable. Belloc sees it breaking down in two ways — on the one hand into State action for welfare (which pure capitalism cannot embody); on the other hand into monopoly and the restraint of trade. There are only two alternatives to this system: socialism, which Belloc calls collectivism; and the redistribution of property on a significant scale, which Belloc calls distributivism.
  11. ^ There is an enormous book called volume 1 of A Cambridge History of the Middle Ages. It is 759 pages in length of close print . . . It does not mention the Mass once. That is as though you were to write a history of the Jewish dispersion without mentioning the synagogue or of the British empire without mentioning the city of London or the Navy (Letters from Hilaire Belloc, Hollis and Carter, 75).
  12. ^ A.N. Wilson's Introduction to Belloc's Complete Verse, Pimlico, 1991
  13. ^ Our fathers all but re-established the spiritual mastery of Europe over the East; all but recovered the patrimony of Rome (…). Western warriors, two thousand miles and more from home, have struck root and might feel they have permanently grasped the vital belt of the Orient. All seaboard Syria was theirs and nearly [emphasis in the original] the whole of that "bridge", a narrow band pressed in between the desert and the sea, the all-important central link joining the Moslem East to the Moslem West (…) Should the link be broken for good by Christian mastery of Syria, all Islam was cut in two and would bleed to death of the wound.
  14. ^ The story must not be neglected by any modern, who may think in error that the East has finally fallen before the West, that Islam is now enslaved — to our political and economic power at any rate if not to our philosophy. It is not so. Islam essentially survives, and Islam would not have survived had the Crusade made good its hold upon the essential point of Damascus. Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return. Our religion is in peril, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines? (…) There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine (…) We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice (…) Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between [our religious chaos and] the religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world lies our peril.
  15. ^ The Great Heresies, Ch. 4, "The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed."
  16. ^ For Belloc, the common ground includes: the unity and the omnipotence of God; the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, and the providence of God; His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone; the world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits in war against God, with a chief evil spirit; the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the doctrine of reward and punishment after death; the Day of Judgment with Christ as Judge; the Lady Miriam [Mary] as the first among womenkind.
  17. ^ On this see Islamic view of Jesus.
  18. ^ I, for my part, pretend to no certain conclusion in the matter… Of my own intimate acquaintance who were on the spot [at Dreyfus' trial] and competent to judge, most were for the innocence of Dreyfus: but the rest, fully competent also, were and are, convinced of his guilt… There are in England to-day two Englishmen whose wide knowledge of Europe and especially of Paris, and the French tongue and society, enable them to judge. They are both close friends of mine. One is for, the other against… I believe that, when the passions have died down, the Dreyfus case will remain for history very much what the Diamond Necklace has remained, or the Tichborne case; that is, there will be a popular legend, intellectually worth nothing; and, for the historian, the task of criticising that legend, but hardly of solving the problem.
  19. ^ Rose asserts that Belloc 'was moved by a deep vein of hysterical anti-Semitism'.
  20. ^ Nesta Webster, Spacious Days, London and Bombay, 1950, pp. 103 and 172–5.
  21. ^ The Life Of Hilaire Belloc by R. Speaight, 1957, pp. 456–8.
  22. ^ "In Defense of Hilaire Belloc".


  • Hilaire Belloc, the man and his work (1916) C. Creighton Mandell and Edward Shanks
  • For Hilaire Belloc (1942) Douglas Woodruff (editor), Douglas Jerrold, Ronald Knox, Arnold Lunn, C. A. J. Armstrong, Christopher Hollis, Gervase Matthew, David Mathew, J. B. Morton, W. A. Pantin, David Jones
  • Hilaire Belloc; An Introduction to his Spirit and Work (1945) Robert Hamilton
  • Hilaire Belloc (British Council, 1953) Renee Haynes
  • Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man. A Study in Christian Integration (1953) Frederick Wilhelmsen
  • Hilaire Belloc: A Memoir (1955) J. B. Morton
  • The Young Hilaire Belloc, Some Records of Youth and Middle Age (1956) Marie Belloc Lowndes
  • The Life of Hilaire Belloc (1957) Robert Speaight
  • Hilaire Belloc: Edwardian Radical (1978) John P. McCarthy
  • Hilaire Belloc (1984) A. N. Wilson
  • G. K. Chesterton & Hilaire Belloc: The Battle Against Modernity (Ohio University Press, 1991) Jay P. Corrin
  • Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc (2002) Joseph Pearce
  • Hilaire Belloc: 1870-1953 (1998) Cooney, Anthony, ISBN 0-9535077-3-4.
  • "On a Monkey's Birthday: Belloc and Sussex" (2006) Tim Rich, contained within "Common Ground: Around Britain in Thirty Writers" (Cyan Books) ISBN 1-904879-93-4.
  • Hilaire Belloc and the Liberal revival: Distributism - an alternative Liberal tradition?David Boyle, Journal of Liberal History, Issue 40, Autumn 2003

External links

Online editions of his works


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Grimble Groves
Member of Parliament for Salford South
Succeeded by
Anderson Montague-Barlow


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 187016 July 1953) was a British writer and poet, known chiefly for his essays and children's books; he was sometimes referred to by the nickname "Old Thunder".


  • Child! Do not throw this book about;
    Refrain from the unholy pleasure
    Of cutting all the pictures out!
    Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
    • The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896) Dedication
  • What! Would you slap the Porcupine?
    Unhappy child — desist!
    Alas! That any friend of mine
    Should turn Tupto-philist.
    • More Beasts for Worse Children: The Porcupine
  • From quiet homes and first beginning, Out to the undiscovered ends, There's nothing worth the wear of winning, But laughter and the love of friends.
    • Verses (1910) "Dedicatory Ode"
  • It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.
  • Whatever happens, we have got
    The Maxim gun, and they have not.
    • The Modern Traveller (1898)
  • I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme. But money gives me pleasure all the time.
    • "Fatigued", Sonnets and Verse (1923)
  • Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!
    • "The Catholic Sun"
  • I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
    • As quoted in Lifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia (1962) edited by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 829
    • Variant: I have wandered all my life, and I have traveled; the difference between the two is this — we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
      • As quoted in Traveling for Her: An Inspirational Guide (2008) by Amber Israelsen, p. 2
  • Of courtesy it is much less
    Than courage of heart or holiness
    Yet in my walks it seems to me
    That the Grace of God is in courtesy.
    • "Courtesy"
  • Here richly, with ridiculous display,
    The Politician's corpse was laid away.
    While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
    I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.
    • "Epitaph on the Politician Himself"
  • May all my enemies go to hell,
    Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.
    • Drinking Song from The Four Men
  • In soft deluding lies let fools delight. A shadow marks our days, which end in Night.
    • For a sundial.
  • Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!
    • The Road to Rome
  • All men have an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • The moment a man talks to his fellows he begins to lie.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • The Microbe is so very small
    You cannot make him out at all,
    But many sanguine people hope
    To see him through a microscope.
    • "The Microbe"
  • Oh! let us never, never doubt
    What nobody is sure about!
    • "The Microbe"
  • Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
    But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right.
    • "The Pacifist"
  • Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
    Exceedingly bold indeed.
    And the masses of doubt that are floating about
    Would smother a mortal creed.
    But we that sit in a sturdy youth
    And still can drink strong ale
    Let us put it away to infallible truth
    That always shall prevail.
    And thank the Lord
    For the temporal sword
    And howling heretics too.
    And all good things
    Our Christendom brings
    But especially barley brew!
    • The Pelagian Drinking Song
  • The world is full of double beds
    And most delightful maidenheads,
    Which being so, there’s no excuse
    For sodomy or self-abuse.
    • "The world is full of double beds"
  • I shoot the Hippopotamus
    With bullets made of platinum,
    Because if I use leaden ones
    His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
    • "The Hippopotamus"
  • Torture will give a dozen pence or more
    To keep a drab from bawling at his door.
    The public taste is quite a different thing—
    Torture is positively paid to sing.
    • "On Torture: A Public Singer"
  • It was my shame, and now it is my boast,
    That I have loved you rather more than most.
    • "Time Cures All"
  • A lovely river, all alone,
    She lingers in the hills and holds
    A hundred little towns of stone,
    Forgotten in the western wolds.
    • "The Evenlode"
  • You shall receive me when the clouds are high
    With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
    This is the faith that I have held and hold,
    And this is that in which I mean to die.
    • "Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa"
  • Of three in One and One in three
    My narrow mind would doubting be
    Till Beauty, Grace and Kindness met
    And all at once were Juliet.
    • "A Trinity"
  • How did the party go in Portman Square?
    I cannot tell you; Juliet was not there.
    And how did Lady Gaster's party go?
    Juliet was next me and I do not know.
    • "Juliet"
  • That I grow sour, who only lack delight;
    That I descend to sneer, who only grieve;
    That from my depth I should
    condemn your height,
    That with my blame my mockery you receive—
    Huntress and splendor of the woodland night—
    Diana of this world, do not believe.
  • Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties,
    And youth in Expectation. Youth is wise.
    • "Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties"
  • When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
    'His sins were scarlet, But his books were read'.
    • "On His Books"
  • Always keep ahold of Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse
    • "Jim Who Ran Away From His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion", quoted in Time, Volume 79, Issues 1-13‎ - Page 27

Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine

  • To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
    To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
    Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
    Wine, privilege of the completely free;
    Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
    Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
    Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!
  • By thee do seers the inward light discern;
    By thee the statue lives, the Gods return.
  • When the ephemeral vision's lure is past
    All, all, must face their Passion at the last.
  • So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
    So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
    And, sacramental, raise me the Divine:
    Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.

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