Hilaire Belloc



With a French father, and English mother, and an American wife, Belloc's life was spread across the Western world, and he made his mark on most of it. Besides being one of the more productive essayists of the early twentieth century, Belloc was also a playful poet, convincing statesmen, patriotic soldier, dedicated father, and avid traveler. He wrote throughout his life, and his most famous works reflect his eclecticism. His travelogue, The Path to Rome (1902), tells of walking from central France to Rome; his farcical poetry, Cautionary Tales, uses childish tones to discuss adult realities; and his nonfiction political books, The Servile State (1912), and Europe and Faith (1920), question capitalism while championing Catholicism. He also wrote on Islam, the Crusades, and alternative history, and authored biographies on Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, and others. Outspoken, convincing, and eloquent, Belloc is remembered as much for his personality and presence as for his poetry and prose. "The Mowing of a Field," anthologized here, is just one example of his many classic additions to English literature that show his contempt for capitalism and his emphasis on national self-consciousness.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Hilaire Belloc

On a house

"Heaven send us such a house, or a house of some kind; but Heaven send us also the liberty to furnish it as we choose."

On advertisement

"And there it is. There is no moral; there is no conclusion or application. The world is not quite infinite--but it is astonishingly full."

On getting respected in inns and hotels

"Religion and the full meaning of things has nowhere more disappeared from the modern world than in the department of Guide Books."

On the illness of my muse

"The other day I noticed that my Muse, who had long been ailing, silent and morose, was showing signs of actual illness."

The mowing of a field

Time can take only what is ripe, but Death comes always too soon.

On the pleasure of taking up one’s pen

"Pray, little pen, be worthy of the love I bear you, and consider how noble I shall make you some day"

On railways and things

"New lines of travel are like canals cut through the stagnant marsh of an old civilisation."

On them

"If one had the time one could watch Them day after day, and never see Them do a single kind or good thing, or be moved by a single virtuous impulse."
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

Quotidiana site founder Patrick Madden has just published a book of his own personal essays, including pieces formerly published in the Best American Spiritual Writing and Best Creative Nonfiction anthologies. If you enjoy the classical essays on this site, you'll enjoy these contemporary ruminations as well. Soon there'll be a web page here with further information, but for now, you can find out more (and perhaps purchase a copy) at Amazon.com.

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2011 Symposium on the Essay
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