Hilaire Belloc

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In soft deluding lies let fools delight. A shadow marks our days, which end in Night.

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".

Quotes[edit]

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.
Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!
Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
  • Whatever happens, we have got
    The Maxim gun, and they have not.
    • The Modern Traveller (1898)
  • Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!
    • The Path to Rome (1902)
  • Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking a rosary out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative.
    • Speech to voters of South Salford (1906), in Robert Speaight, The Life of Hilaire Belloc (London: Hollis & Carter, 1957), p. 204
    • Response to his Tory opponent's slogan, "Don't vote for a Frenchman and a Catholic". On polling day, 13 January 1906, Belloc, standing as a Liberal, overturned a Conservative majority to win by 852 votes, winning again four years later, though by an even slimmer margin.
  • Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have left the vulgar stuff alone.
    • "On Tea", On Nothing and Kindred Subjects (1908)
  • It is the best of all trades, to make songs, and the second best to sing them.
    • "On Song", On Everything (1909)
  • It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.
  • 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)
  • Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.
    • "A Guide to Boring", A Conversation with a Cat (1931)
  • Be content to remember that those who can make omelettes properly can do nothing else.
    • A Conversation with a Cat (1931)
  • 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", Sonnets and Verse (1954)
  • The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.
    • Remark (undated) to William Temple, quoted in Robert Speaight, The Life of Hilaire Belloc (London: Hollis & Carter, 1957), p. 383
  • 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
  • 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"
  • It was my shame, and now it is my boast,
    That I have loved you rather more than most.
    • "Time Cures All"
  • 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"

The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896)[edit]

  • [M]others of large families (who claim to common sense)
    Will find a Tiger well repay the trouble and expense.
    • "The Tiger"
  • I shoot the Hippopotamus
    With bullets made of platinum,
    Because if I use leaden ones
    His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
    • "The Hippopotamus"
  • When people call this beast to mind,
    They marvel more and more
    At such a LITTLE tail behind,
    So LARGE a trunk before.
    • "The Elephant"
  • The Big Baboon is found upon
    The plains of Cariboo:
    He goes about with nothing on
    (A shocking thing to do).
    But if he dressed respectably
    And let his whiskers grow,
    How like this Big Baboon would be
    To Mister So-and-so!
    • "The Big Baboon"

More Beasts for Worse Children (1897)[edit]

  • What! Would you slap the Porcupine?
    Unhappy child — desist!
    Alas! That any friend of mine
    Should turn Tupto-philist.
    • "The Porcupine"
  • The Llama is a wooly sort of fleecy hairy goat,
    With an indolent expression and an undulating throat
    Like an unsuccessful literary man.
    • "The Llama"
  • 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"

Cautionary Tales for Children (1907)[edit]

  • [A]lways keep a-hold of Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse
    • "Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion"
  • 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 King, Who Chewed Bits of String, and Was Early Cut off in Dreadful Agonies"
  • Oh, my friends, be warned by me,
    That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
    Are all the Human Frame requires.
    • "Henry King, Who Chewed Bits of String, and Was Early Cut off in Dreadful Agonies"
  • Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
    It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
    Her Aunt, who from her Earliest Youth,
    Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
    Attempted to Believe Matilda:
    The effort very nearly killed her.
    • "Matilda, Who Told Lies, and Was Burned to Death"

Verses (1910)[edit]

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.
There's nothing worth the wear of winning, But laughter and the love of friends.
  • 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.
    • "Dedicatory Ode", stanza 22
  • The tender Evenlode that makes
    Her meadows hush to hear the sound
    Of waters mingling in the brakes,
    And binds my heart to English ground.

    A lovely river, all alone,
    She lingers in the hills and holds
    A hundred little towns of stone,
    Forgotten in the western wolds.

    • "Dedicatory Ode", stanzas 31–32
  • Child! Do not throw this book about;
    Refrain from the unholy pleasure
    Of cutting all the pictures out!
    Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
    • "Dedication on the Gift of a Book to a Child"
  • I said to Heart, "How goes it?" Heart replied:
    "Right as a Ribstone Pippin!" But it lied.
    • "The False Heart"

The Four Men: A Farrago (1911)[edit]

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984 (Twentieth-Century Classics)
  • [N]othing is worthwhile on this unhappy earth except the fulfilment of a man's desire.
    • p. 4
  • When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside which is like the cold of space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly. Absolute dereliction is the death of the soul.
    • p. 27
  • [M]an knows his own nature, and that which he pursues must surely be his satisfaction? Judging by which measure I determine that the best thing in the world is flying at full speed from pursuit, and keeping up hammer and thud and gasp and bleeding till the knees fail and the head grows dizzy, and at last we all fall down and that thing (whatever it is) which pursues us catches us up and eats our carcasses. This way of managing our lives, I think, must be the best thing in the world—for nearly all men choose to live thus.
    • pp. 31–2
    • The "thing" which pursues us, we subsequently learn, is either "a Money-Devil" or "some appetite or lust" and "the advice is given to all in youth that they must make up their minds which of the two sorts of exercise they would choose, and the first [i.e. pursuit by a Money-Devil] is commonly praised and thought worthy; the second blamed." (p. 32)
  • Now the Faith is old and the Devil is 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,
    Oh—let us put it away to infallible truth,
    That always shall prevail.
    [semi-chorus:]
    And thank the Lord
    For the temporal sword,
    And howling heretics too;
    And all good things
    Our Christendom brings,
    But especially barley brew!
  • Then he added, as men will who are of infinite imagination and crammed with desires, 'My wants are few.'
    • p. 78
  • May all good fellows that here agree
    Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
    And may all my enemies go to hell!
    Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
    May all my enemies go to hell!
    Noël! Noël!
    • drinking song, p. 126
  • There is nothing at all that remains: nor any house; nor any castle, however strong; nor any love, however tender and sound; nor any comradeship among men, however hardy. Nothing remains but the things of which I will not speak, because we have spoken enough of them already during these four days. But I who am old will give you advice, which is this—to consider chiefly from now onwards those permanent things which are, as it were, the shores of this age and the harbours of our glittering and pleasant but dangerous and wholly changeful sea.
    • pp. 157–8
    • By this, we are then told, "he meant Death." (p. 158)
  • I recognised that I was (and I confessed) in that attitude of the mind wherein men admit mortality; something had already passed from me—I mean that fresh and vigorous morning of the eyes wherein the beauty of this land had been reflected as in a tiny mirror of burnished silver. Youth was gone out apart; it was loved and regretted, and therefore no longer possessed.
    • p. 159
  • I put my pencil upon the paper, doubtfully, and drew little lines, considering my theme. But I would not long hesitate in this manner, for I knew that all creation must be chaos first, and then gestures in the void before it can cast out the completed thing.
    • p. 160

Hilaire Belloc (1925)[edit]

Hilaire Belloc (Augustan Books of Modern Poetry). London: Eyre & Spottiswode, no date [1925]. 29pp.
  • 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"
  • When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
    'His sins were scarlet, But his books were read'.
    • "On His Books"
  • 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"
  • 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"
  • The accursed power which stands on Privilege
    (And goes with Women, and Champagne and Bridge)
    Broke — and Democracy resumed her reign:
    (Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne).
    • "On a Great Election"

Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine (1932)[edit]

By thee do seers the inward light discern;
By thee the statue lives, the Gods return.
  • 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.

Sonnets and Verse (1938)[edit]

New edition of the 1923 collection of the same name, with many new poems
  • That I grow sour, who only lack delight;
    That I descend to sneer, who only grieve:
    That from my depth I should contemn your height;
    That with my blame my mockery you receive;
    Huntress and splendour of the woodland night,
    Diana of this world, do not believe.
    • "Sonnet: Do not believe when lovely lips report"
    • To Lady Diana Cooper. See her memoir, The Light of Common Day (Boston: Houghton, 1959), pp. 27–28
  • 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"
  • In soft deluding lies let fools delight.
    A shadow marks our days, which end in Night.
    • "On a Sundial"
  • How slow the Shadow creeps: but when 'tis past,
    How fast the Shadows fall. How fast! How fast!
    • "On the Same" (On a Sundial II)
  • Loss and Possession, Death and Life are one.
    There falls no shadow where there shines no sun.
  • Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
    But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right.
    • "The Pacifist"
  • Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties,
    And youth in Expectation. Youth is wise.
    • "Habitations"

The Silence of the Sea (1940)[edit]

  • Of all fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing.
    • "On Books"
  • All men have an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.
  • Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
  • The moment a man talks to his fellows he begins to lie.

External links[edit]

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