Saturday, June 21, 2014

Biographies of Hilaire Belloc

Recommended reading:

•  Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc,
by Joseph Pearce (Amazon)

Authors Page: Joseph Pearce (Ignatius Insight)

The Life of Hilaire Belloc,
by Robert Speaight (Amazon)

Remembering Belloc,
by James V. Schall, S.J. (Amazon)

The Grand Climactertic

“I WILL tell you this much; it is the moment (not the year or the month, mind you, nor even the hour, but the very second) when a man is grown up, when he sees things as they are (that is, backwards), and feels solidly himself. Do I make myself clear? No matter, it is the Shock of Maturity, and that must suffice for you.”

~Hilaire Belloc: The Path to Rome.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Drinking Song


On Sussex hills where I was bred.
When lanes in autumn rains are red.
Where Arun tumbles in his bed,
And busy great gusts go by;
When branch is bare in Burton Glen
And Bury Hill is whitening, then
I drink strong ale with gentlemen;
Which nobody can deny, deny.
Deny, deny, deny, deny.
Which nobody can deny!


In half-November off I go.
To push my face against the snow,
And watch the winds wherever they blow,
Because my heart is high;
Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing
Of the women I met in my wandering,
And of all that I mean to do in the spring,
Which nobody can deny, deny.
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
Which nobody can deny!


Though times be rude and weather be rough.
And ways be foul and fortune tough.
We are of the stout South Country stuff,
That never can have good ale enogh,
And do this chorus cry!
From Crowboro' Top to Ditching Down,
From Hurstpierpoint to Arundel Town,
The girls are plump and the ale is brown:
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny!
If he does he tells a lie!

~Hilaire Belloc: from The Four Men; A Farrago.

Read online or download this work
At Amazon

Friday, June 13, 2014

West Sussex Drinking Song

They sell good beer at Haslemere
And under Guildford Hill.
At Little Cowfold as I've been told
A beggar may drink his fill:
There is a good brew in Amberley too,
And by the bridge also;
But the swipes they take in at the Washington Inn
Is the very best Beer I know.

With my here it goes, there it goes.
All the fun's before us:
The Tipple's aboard and the night is young,
The door's ajar and the Barrel is sprung,
I am singing the best song ever was sung
And it has a rousing chorus.

If I were what I never can be,
The master or the squire:
If you gave me the hundred from here to the sea.
Which is more than I desire:
Then all my crops should be barley and hops,
And did my harvest fail
I'd sell every rood of mine acres I would
For a bellyful of good ale.

With my here it goes, there it goes.
All the fun's before us:
The Tipple's aboard and the night is young,
The door's ajar and the Barrel is sprung,
I am singing the best song ever was sung
And it has a rousing chorus.

~Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"The Faith"

“The Faith went over the world as very light seed goes upon the wind, and no one knows the drift on which it blew; it came to one place and another, to each in a different way. It came not to many men, but always to one heart, till all men had hold of it.”

~Hilaire Belloc: from The Missioner. (On Everything)

On A Great Wind

It is an old dispute among men, or rather a dispute as old as mankind, whether Will be a cause of things or no; nor is there anything novel in those moderns who affirm that Will is nothing to the matter, save their ignorant belief that their affirmation is new.

The intelligent process whereby I know that Will not seems but is, and can alone be truly and ultimately a cause, is fed with stuff and strengthens sacramentally as it were, whenever I meet, and am made the companion of, a great wind.

It is not that this lively creature of God is indeed perfected with a soul; this it would be superstition to believe. It has no more a person than any other of its material fellows, but in its vagary of way, in the largeness of its apparent freedom, in its rush of purpose, it seems to mirror the action of mighty spirit. When a great wind comes roaring over the eastern flats towards the North Sea, driving over the Fens and the Wringland, it is like something of this island that must go out and wrestle with the water, or play with it in a game or a battle; and when, upon the western shores, the clouds come bowling up from the horizon, messengers, outriders, or comrades of a gale, it is something of the sea determined to possess the land. The rising and falling of such power, its hesitations, its renewed violence, its fatigue and final repose-all these are symbols of a mind; but more than all the rest, its exultation! It is the shouting and the hurrahing of the wind that suits a man.

Note you, we have not many friends. The older we grow and the better we can sift mankind, the fewer friends we count, although man lives by friendship. But a great wind is every man's friend, and its strength is the strength of good-fellowship; and even doing battle with it is something worthy and well chosen. If there is cruelty in the sea, and terror in high places, and malice lurking in profound darkness, there is no one of these qualities in the wind, but only power. Here is strength too full for such negations as cruelty, as malice, or as fear; and that strength in a solemn manner proves and tests health in our own souls. For with terror (of the sort I mean-terror of the abyss or panic at remembered pain, and in general, a losing grip of the succours of the mind), and with malice, and with cruelty, and with all the forms of that Evil which lies in wait for men, there is the savour of disease. It is an error to think of such things as power set up in equality against justice and right living. We were not made for them, but rather for influences large and soundly poised; we are not subject to them but to other powers that can always enliven and relieve. It is health in us, I say, to be full of heartiness and of the joy of the world, and of whether we have such health our comfort in a great wind is a good test indeed. No man spends his day upon the mountains when the wind is out, riding against it or pushing forward on foot through the gale, but at the end of his day feels that he has had a great host about him. It is as though he had experienced armies. The days of high winds are days of innumerable sounds, innumerable in variation of tone and of intensity, playing upon and awakening innumerable powers in man. And the days of high wind are days in which a physical compulsion has been about us and we have met pressure and blows, resisted and turned them; it enlivens us with the simulacrum of war by which nations live, and in the just pursuit of which men in companionship are at their noblest.

It is pretended sometimes (less often perhaps now than a dozen years ago) that certain ancient pursuits congenial to man will be lost to him under his new necessities; thus men sometimes talk foolishly of horses being no longer ridden, houses no longer built of wholesome wood and stone, but of metal; meat no more roasted, but only baked; and even of stomachs grown too weak for wine. There is a fashion of saying these things, and much other nastiness. Such talk is (thank God!) mere folly; for man will always at last tend to his end, which is happiness, and he will remember again to do all those things which serve that end. So it is with the uses of the wind, and especially the using of the wind with sails.

No man has known the wind by any of its names who has not sailed his own boat and felt life in the tiller. Then it is that a man has most to do with the wind, plays with it, coaxes or refuses it, is wary of it all along; yields when he must yield, but comes up and pits himself again against its violence; trains it, harnesses it, calls it if it fails him, denounces it if it will try to be too strong, and in every manner conceivable handles this glorious playmate.

As for those who say that men did but use the wind as an instrument for crossing the sea, and that sails were mere machines to them, either they have never sailed or they were quite unworthy of sailing. It is not an accident that the tall ships of every age of varying fashions so arrested human sight and seemed so splendid. The whole of man went into their creation, and they expressed him very well; his cunning, and his mastery, and his adventurous heart. For the wind is in nothing more capitally our friend than in this, that it has been, since men were men, their ally in the seeking of the unknown and in their divine thirst for travel which, in its several aspects-pilgrimage, conquest, discovery, and, in general, enlargement-is one prime way whereby man fills himself with being.

I love to think of those Norwegian men who set out eagerly before the north-east wind when it came down from their mountains in the month of March like a god of great stature to impel them to the West. They pushed their Long Keels out upon the rollers, grinding the shingle of the beach at the fjord-head. They ran down the calm narrows, they breasted and they met the open sea. Then for days and days they drove under this master of theirs and high friend, having the wind for a sort of captain, and looking always out to the sea line to find what they could find. It was the springtime; and men feel the spring upon the sea even more surely than they feel it upon the land. They were men whose eyes, pale with the foam, watched for a landfall, that unmistakable good sight which the wind brings us to, the cloud that does not change and that comes after the long emptiness of sea days like a vision after the sameness of our common lives. To them the land they so discovered was wholly new.

We have no cause to regret the youth of the world, if indeed the world were ever young. When we imagine in our cities that the wind no longer calls us to such things, it is only our reading that blinds us, and the picture of satiety which our reading breeds is wholly false. Any man to-day may go out and take his pleasure with the wind upon the high seas. He also will make his landfalls to-day, or in a thousand years; and the sight is always the same, and the appetite for such discoveries is wholly satisfied even though he be only sailing, as I have sailed, over seas that he has known from childhood, and come upon an island far away, mapped and well known, and visited for the hundredth time.

~Hilaire Belloc

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The Summer dark is but the dawn of day.
The last of sunset fades into the morning,
The morning calls you from the dark away.
The holy mist, the white mist of the morning,
Was wreathing upward on my lonely way.
The way was waiting for your own adorning
That should complete the broad adorned day.

Rise up, and do begin the day's adorning;
The little eastern clouds are dapple grey:
There will be wind among the leaves to-day;
It is the very promise of the morning.
Lux Tua Via Mea: your light's my way ─
Then do rise up and make it perfect day.

~Hilaire Belloc

The Sisters - A Study in June Sunlight, by Edmund Charles Tarbell.
Oil on canvas, 1890; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee.

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