The opening lines, with their almost Virgilian strain, give one a sense of the whole:
On one level, Belloc sought to capture an aspect of southern English rural culture that was fast fading even in his day. On another, deeper, level The Four Men reveals a Christianized pagan melancholy and resignation.
''My country, it has been proved in the life of every man that though his loves are human, and therefore changeable, yet in proportion as he attaches them to things unchangeable, so they mature and broaden.On this account, Dear Sussex, are those women chiefly dear to men who, as the seasons pass, do but continue to be more and more themselves, attain balance, and abandon or forget vicissitude. And on this account, Sussex, does man love an old house, which was his father’s, and on this account does a man come to love with all his heart, that part of earth which nourished his boyhood. For it does not change, or if it changes, it changes very little, and he finds in it the character of enduring things.''