"The mountains from their heights reveal to us two truths. They suddenly make us feel our insignificance, and at the same time they free the immortal Mind, and let it feel its greatness, and they release it from the earth."
"THERE is one experience of travel and of the physical realities of the world which has been so widely repeated, and which men have so constantly verified, that I could mention it as a last example of my thesis without fear of misunderstanding. I mean the quality of a great mountain. "To one that has never seen a mountain it may seem a full and a fine piece of knowledge to be acquainted with its height in feet exactly, its situation; nay, many would think themselves learned if they know no more than its conventional name. But the thing itself! The curious sense of its isolation from the common world, of its being the habitation of awe, perhaps the brooding-place of a god!" ~Hilaire Belloc: Reality. Complete essay here.
"HOW much more true is it not, then, that discovery awaits you if you will take the least little step off the high road, or the least little exploration into the past of a place you visit. "Most men inhabiting a countryside know nothing of its aspect even quite close to their homes, save as it is seen from the main roads. If they will but cross a couple of fields or so, they may come, for the first time in many years of habitation, upon a landscape that seems quite new and a sight of their own hills which makes them look like the hills of a strange country." ~Hilaire Belloc: 'On Discovery.' (in This and That and the Other) Free e-book here
The Kings come riding back from the Crusade, The purple Kings and all their mounted men; They fill the street with clamorous cavalcade; The Kings have broken down the Saracen. Singing a great song of the eastern wars, In crimson ships across the sea they came, With crimson sails and diamonded dark oars, That made the Mediterranean flash with flame. And reading how, in that far month, the ranks Formed on the edge of the desert, armoured all, I wish to God that I had been with them When the first Norman leapt upon the wall, And Godfrey led the foremost of the Franks, And young Lord Raymond stormed Jerusalem. ~Hilaire Belloc
Crusaders, by Romanesque Painter (French). 12th century mural; Chapel of the Templars, Cressac.
"OUR civilization developed as a Catholic civilization. It developed and matured as a Catholic thing. With the loss of the Faith it will slip back not only into Paganism, but into barbarism with the accompaniments of Paganism, and especially the institution of slavery. It will find gods to worship, but they will be evil gods as were those of the older savage Paganism before it began its advance towards Catholicism. The road downhill is the same as the road up the hill. It is the same road, but to go down back into the marshes again is a very different thing from coming up from the marshes into pure air. All things return to their origin. A living organic being, whether a human body or a whole state of society, turns at last into its original elements if life be not maintained in it. But in that process of return there is a phase of corruption which is very unpleasant. That phase the modern world outside the Catholic Church has arrived at." ~Hilaire Belloc: The New Paganism