Hilaire Belloc bought King's Land (in Shipley, Sussex), 5 acres and a working windmill for £1000 in 1907 and it was his home for the rest of his life. Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her: he lived there for most of his 83 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her. "He does not die that can bequeath Some influence to the land he knows, Or dares, persistent, interwreath Love permanent with the wild hedgerows; He does not die, but still remains Substantiate with his darling plains."

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Prussia - Belloc's favourite Kingdom!




It will be apparent that what is called the " Frederician Tradition," which is the soul of Prussia in her international relations, is not an unprincipled thing. It has a principle, and that principle is a patriotic desire to strengthen Prussia, which particular appetite overweighs all general human morals and far outweighs all special Christian or European morals. 

This doctrine of the " Frederician Tradition " does not mean that the Prussian statesmen wantonly do wrong, whether in acts of cruelty or in acts of treason and bad faith. What it means is that, wherever they are met by the dilemma, " Shall I do this, which is to the advantage of my country but opposed to European and common morals, or that, which is consonant with those morals but to the dis- advantage of my country } " they choose the former and not the latter course. 

Prussia, endowed with this doctrine and possessed of a most excellent military organization and tradition, stood out as the first military power in Europe until the French Revolution. The wars of the French Revolution and of Napoleon upset this prestige, and in the battle of Jena (1806) seemed to have destroyed it. But it was too strong to be destroyed. The Prussian Government was the first of Napoleon's allies to betray Napoleon after the Russians had broken his power (1812). They took part with the other Allies in finishing off Napoleon after the Russian campaign (1813-14) ; they were present with decisive effect upon the final field of Waterloo (1815) , and remained for fifty years afterwards the great military power they had always been. They had further added to their dominions such great areas in Northern Germany, beyond the original areas inhabited by the true Prussian stock, that they were something like half of the whole Northern German people when, in 1864, they entered into the last phase of their dominion. They began by asking Austria to help them in taking from Denmark, a small and weak country, not only those provinces of hers which spoke German, but certain districts which were Danish as well. France and England were inclined to interfere, but they did not yet understand the menace Prussia might be in the future, and they neglected to act. Two years later Prussia suddenly turned upon Austria, her ally, defeated her in a very short campaign, and insisted upon Austria's relinquishing for the future all claims over any part of the German-speaking peoples, save some ten millions in the valley of the Middle Danube and of the Upper Elbe. Four years later again, in 1870, Prussia having arranged, after various political experiments which need not be here de- tailed, for the support of all the German States except Austria, fought a war with France, in which she was immediately and entirely successful, and in the course of  which the rulers of the other German States consented to give the Hohenzollern-Prussian dynasty supreme military power for the future over them, under the hereditary title of German Emperors ; to form a united nation under the more or less despotic power of these emperors. This latter point, the national unity, though really highly centralized at Berlin, especially on the military side, was softened in its rigour by a number of very wise provisions. A great measure of autonomy was left to the more important of the lesser States, particularly Catholic Bavaria ; local customs were respected ; and, above all, local dynasties were flattered, and maintained in all the trappings of sovereign rank.

From that date that is, for the last forty-four years there has been a complete Northern Germany, one strong, centralized, and thoroughly co-ordinated nation, in which the original Prussian domination is not only numerically far the greatest element, but morally overshadows all the rest. The spiritual influence ruling this state issues from Berlin and from the Prussian soul, although a large minority consist of contented but respectful Catholics, who, in all national matters, wholly sympathize with and take their cue from the Protestant North. 

So far one may clearly see what kind of power it is that has initiated the German theory of supremacy which we have described above, is prepared to lead it to battle, and is quite certain of leading it to victory. 

But we note the fatal mark in all German history that the unity is not complete. The ten millions of Austrian Germans were, when Prussia achieved this her highest ambition, deliberately left out- side the new German Empire. And this was done because, in Prussian eyes, a so- called " German unity" was but a means to an end, and that end the aggrandizement of the Hohenzollern dynasty. To include so many southern and Catholic Germans would have endangered the mastery of Berlin. The fact that Austria ruled a number of non-German subjects far larger than her Austrian population would further have endangered the Hohenzollern position had Austria been admitted to the new German Empire, and had the consolidation of all Germans into one true state been really and loyally attempted. Lastly, it would have been impossible to destroy the historic claims to leadership of the Imperial Hapsburgs, and that, more than anything else, was the rivalry the Hohenzollerns dreaded. Once more had the Germans proved themselves incapable of, and unwilling to submit to, the discipline of unity. What part, then, was Austria, thus left out, to play in the international activity of Prussia in the future? What part especially was she to play when Prussia, at the head of Northern Germany, should go out to impose the will of that Germany and of herself upon the rest of the world? That is the next question we must answer before we can hope to understand the causes of the present war in their entirety.


From A General Sketch of the European War (Part 1 The General Causes of the War, Prussia). 1915.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

THE GENERAL CAUSES OF THE WAR - The German Object...



War is the attempt of two human groups each to impose its will upon the other by force of arms. This definition holds of the most righteous war fought in self-defence as much as it does of the most iniquitous war of mere aggression. The aggressor, for instance, proposes to take the goods of his victim without the pretence of a claim. He is attempting to impose his will upon that victim. The victim, in resisting by force of arms, is no less attempting to impose his will upon the aggressor; and if he is victorious does effectually impose that will: for it is his will to prevent the robbery. 

Every war, then, arises from some conflict of wills between two human groups, each intent upon some political or civic purpose, conflicting with that of his opponent. 

War and all military action is but a means to a non-military end, to be achieved and realized in peace. 

Although arguable differences invariably exist as to the right or wrong of either party in any war, yet the conflicting wills of the two parties, the irreconcilable political objects which each has put before itself and the opposition between which has led to conflict,can easily be defined. 

They fall into two classes:

1. The general objects at which the combatants have long been aiming. 

2. The particular objects apparent just before, and actually provoking, the conflict.

In the case of the present enormous series of campaigns, which occupy the energies of nearly all Europe, the general causes can be easily defined, and that without serious fear of contradiction by the partisans of either side.

On the one hand, the Germanic peoples, especially that great majority of them now organized as the German Empire under the hegemony of Prussia, had for fully a lifetime and more been possessed of a certain conception of themselves which may be not unjustly put into the form of the following declaration. It is a declaration consonant with most that has been written from the German standpoint during more than a generation, and many of its phrases are taken directly from the principal exponents of the German idea.

The German Object: 

"We the Germans are in spirit one nation. But we are a nation the unity of which has been constantly forbidden for centuries by a number of accidents. None the less that unity has always been an ideal underlying our lives. Once or twice in the remote past it has been nearly achieved, especially under the great German emperors of the Middle Ages. Whenever it has thus been nearly achieved, we Germans have easily proved ourselves the masters of other societies around us. Most unfortunately our very strength has proved our ruin time and again by leading us into adventures, particularly adventures in Italy, which took the place of our national ideal for unity and disturbed and swamped it. The reason we have been thus supreme whenever we were united or even nearly united lay in the fact, which must be patent to every observer, that our mental, moral, and physical characteristics render us superior to all rivals. The German or Teutonic race can everywhere achieve, other things being equal, more than can any other race. Witness the conquest of the Roman Empire by German tribes; the political genius, commercial success, and final colonial expansion of the English, a Teutonic people; and the peculiar strength of the German races resident within their old homes on the Rhine, the Danube, the Weser, and the Elbe, whenever they were not fatally disunited by domestic quarrel or unwise foreign ideals. It was we who revivified the declining society of Roman Gaul, and made it into the vigorous mediæval France that was ruled from the North. It was we who made and conquered the heathen Slavs threatening Europe from the East, and who civilized them so far as they could be civilized. We are, in a word, and that patently not only to ourselves but to all others, the superior and leading race of mankind; and you have but to contrast us with the unstable Celt--who has never produced a State--the corrupt and now hopelessly mongrel Mediterranean or 'Latin' stock, the barbarous and disorderly Slav, to perceive at once the truth of all we say''...


Hilaire Belloc - The General Causes of the War, Part 1 from A General Sketch of the European War (The First Phase). June 1915.