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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Thursday 29 September 2011

The Hon. Hilaire Belloc MP - COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE - 14 May 1909...

I rise to bring forward only one point that may seem to be a, detail to Members of this House, but which I consider to be one of some importance, and which can only be brought forward, at any rate adequately, on this one day of the year and on this one Vote. It has been touched on in the speech which Ave have just heard, and just touched on only for one moment, in the speech made by the Hon. Member behind me (Mr. Bellairs). I refer to the fortifications of the land fronts of the naval bases of this country. It seems only a small point, a technical point, and one which experts would discuss better than a Member of a popular assembly. I want to try to show the House, or, at any rate, to convince the House from my own point of view, that the matter is of exceptional importance. In the first place, I ask the House to consider what any great Power does when it is fighting, and what the strategical problem is. You read in your books that he attempts to strike at the heart. That, as a metaphor, means nothing more than that the defences of this country lie in the Fleet. What an enemy attempts to do when he is striking, as the metaphor goes, at the heart of an opponent is to get at the vital organism of the defence and destroy it. Politicians have talked—I do not think any soldier has talked—of a raid on London. The idea is absurd. An enemy would have for his prime object, especially in the first stages of the war, the crippling, in some way or another, of the British Fleet; and unless the British Fleet were in some way or another crippled, although outlying portions of the Empire might be menaced and might be lost, there would be no compulsion on this country to give way. If the Fleet were crippled, that compulsion would be felt within 24 hours. It would be felt by the simplest of all processes—the immediate rise in the price of food to famine prices. It is as an integral part of the Navy, as the most vital of all vital organisms of the Navy, that the base and a certain measure of land defences are of importance. In the first place I may say, for what my personal opinion is worth—but it is the opinion of the vast majority of those who have studied the subject—that an invasion is, I will not say impossible, because nothing is impossible in war, but so improbable that all those who are concerned in the defence of this land do well in putting it last among the possibilities of what an enemy might do to us. An invasion in force, an invasion such as have been in the past the invasions of Germany, France, Russia, or Italy means not only the transport of a great number of men and a vast amount of material, but also absolutely secure communication, and it means that to so obvious a degree, and it is so startlingly true even on land, that the greatest conquerors, if their communications during an invasion in force had been endangered, if only for a few days, would have had the whole success of their adventure imperilled.


I should say that the invasion of Egypt hardly corresponds to the invasion of one Great Power by another. It was the invasion of an Eastern people, and I do not think that it can be done as between one great European Power and another. Another reason which makes me think that an invasion in force could not take place is that long before this invasion in force could be accomplished peace would have been made. Long before it would have been possible so to cripple the Navy as to maintain communication between the country being invaded and a large invading Power the pressure would have been put on the governing classes by the poor to compel peace. The price of food alone would do that. Though it is infinitely more likely, I do not believe, even in a raid by a large body of men, by a division of 10,000 men, but I do believe in the possibility, or the probability in our present condition, of a raid by a much smaller body of men, who may strike at the vital organism of the naval defence of our country. I ask the House to consider for a moment, technical as the matter is, and to some extent unfit for popular discussion, what a modern naval base is and why our naval bases at the present moment are in a sense so much more important, especially so much more important in the first days of the war, than they were, say, during the Napoleonic era. With every step in advance in science, with the one exception of wireless telegraphy, bases are becoming more and more immediately and continuously essential to modern fleets. In the first place, consider the rapid exhaustion of material under modern conditions of fighting. On land the problem with which all experts in tactics are most concerned just now is how to feed what we may call metaphorically the fighting line, the power in front, with sufficient material, so rapid is the exhaustion. The Navy must depend on the great depots at the naval bases. Secondly, there is the question of repairs. A modern fleet cannot keep the seas without being in touch with the naval bases for repairs, and a modern fleet, more than was the case in the past, depends for its efficiency on the co-operation of all its units. Any proportion of its units sent off for repairs must return as soon as possible to the battle line. Complete victory at sea is rare, and even in the case which occurred at the close of the Russo-Japanese War extensive repairs were necessary. It is essential to a modern fleet that repairs should be readily obtained, and they can only be got at our naval bases. A further point is the continued necessity of these things. A modern fleet must be in touch with its base to be an efficient fighting machine. In regard to fighting in the near future, it is upon our Home bases that all discussion would turn. One further argument in favour of Home defences. In the case of an attack the enemy would consider the point on which it would concentrate it, and would be certain to fall on one of the small number of points chosen. We may be absolutely certain that if there was a German invasion of French territory that there would have to be a siege of one of the four great fortresses; or, in the case of an invasion by the French of Italy, it would be absolutely necessary that the French should attempt to secure the highest passage of the Alps. The smaller the number of the points of objective the more certain is there to be concentration on one of them. In our case the four vital points of attack are Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rosyth, and Chatham, and we have to consider what an enemy would do. If war were declared between this country and a great Continental Power, it is unlikely, and, I would say, almost impossible, in the present balance of naval power, that there would be an attack by battleships against battleships. The very first thing a foreign Power would consider would be how to get at some vital point, and undoubtedly they would decide, even with the great risk involved, to attack Portsmouth and the dockyards, probably by night, taking advantage of fog, or bad weather, in an endeavour to pierce one of these points. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ashley) said our naval bases were practically open. They are not only "practically" open towns, they are actually open, and even with the smallest force, damage could be done. Land communication and railways could be destroyed, bridges blown up, and so forth. It would be easy to damage the vital parts of a naval base. One graving dock could be ruined in a few moments by the use of dynamite. That applies to all the complicated machinery of modern warfare.
But I do not mean to suggest that enormous expense should be incurred on strongholds. I see no reason for constructing in England such places as are seen at Spezzia, Toulon, or Cherbourg. We need fortifications on a smaller scale. No one fortifies to make a place impregnable. Napoleon's great maxim was "fortify to gain time." Every fortification is a draft on time, and is the introduction of the element of time in your favour. There can be no doubt, especially at the opening of a naval campaign, that we shall require that sense of security over very short periods of time, though I think it is extremely unwise to attempt to fortify English naval bases on the scale on which the great Continental bases are defended. Take the case of Rosyth. At the present moment it is proposed to defend that place with three batteries on the level of the water, which should be sufficient to prevent attack by destroyers or torpedo boats. But dominating these batteries is Mons Hill, which would be a suitable place for a landing. A small raiding party provided with artillery could capture Mons Hill, destroy the Forth Bridge, and disarrange the conduct of the port behind.
Portsmouth is ideally situated for defence by land. It is a peninsula cut off by Portsdown. With the present range of artillery, Portsdown could be wholly swept from one fort; nobody could live on it. We do not need have very large and expensive fortifications, we need one permanent work at Portsdown. With one, or at most, two, you could cover your base at Portsmouth, which is, I should imagine, a permanent work in the centre, or certainly two permanent works at either end of the ridge, would be sufficient. The arguments against this are the arguments of the Blue Water school, that if your Navy is sufficiently strong nothing else is needed. If anyone says that an overwhelming fleet would prevent an invasion in force, I will listen to him and I will agree. And if anyone says that a large raid is impossible, I will listen to him, and perhaps agree. But if anyone says that our supremacy would prevent a short raid at a vital point, then I do not think that anyone who has considered the matter could agree. Another argument is the argument of the Treasury: "Are we to be led into this expense? If we are to spend money let us spend it mainly on the Navy." That is a perfectly sound argument against fortification on a large scale. Fortification on a large scale of our naval bases at present would be folly. If we were to attempt a permanent and expensive fortification of our great commercial ports it would be wrong. We should have small single works—not a ring of fortifications—by which the means of approach to a base would be checked for three or four days. That would be worth our while, and is, I think, an absolute necessity. If technical details had received more attention in this House, this matter would long ago have been settled. To any man who knows the temper of this country, the type of Press which influences public opinion, and the way in which that public opinion veers round in moments of panic or excitement, one thing is certain, that if we are engaged in a European war we shall begin to fortify the land bases; and do it in a hurry, do it badly and far too expensively. I only plead that we should do it on a smaller scale and in time of peace.

Monday 26 September 2011

The Hon. Hilaire Belloc MP - contribution to the debate on the Accession Declaration Bill - 27 July 1910...

I agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. Redmond) who spoke a while ago from the benches opposite that it might be as well on the whole if no other Catholic spoke in this Debate. As I had spoken on the First Reading of this Bill that would be another reason why it might be thought I should abstain from rising, and I had resolved to do so when I first came to the House, but as a matter of fact we are now discussing a new Bill. The Prime Minister suggested—and the course of the Debate has turned that suggestion into something more than a suggestion—that this is practically a new Bill for Debate, and anybody who has spoken, with whatever authority from the Catholic point of view on the First Reading, could not give a vote on the Second Reading of this Bill easily unless they explained that vote. Personally, I shall vote for the Second Reading not only for the Constituency that sent me here, but also for that unrepresented mass—a mass that must be unrepresented so long as you have single-Member constituencies—the mass of the Lancashire Catholics. But I shall not vote for the Second Reading with the same ready explanation to myself as I would vote for the Second Reading of the original proposal. The original proposal was that in place of picking out doctrines upon which men were divided, and which certain forms of religious belief, for what reason I cannot say, imagined to be particularly attached to Catholicism, whereas in fact they cover the whole of the Eastern Church and many more religions, including the Coptic, in place of that original proposal there is given us a proposal which says that the King shall declare himself what he is by constitutional habit and tradition and plan and actual statute law, and make him declare himself the Head of the Established Church in this country. In my humble judgment the masses of this country have ceased to care for these theological points so interesting to the middle classes. The masses cease to care for them, but they have a traditional respect for the Establishment, and they regard it as normal that the King should declare himself as the Head of the Established Church. But when it comes to making His Majesty declare himself attached, by the word "Protestant," to a point of view, to a transcendental philosophy, to a scheme of morals which have, as hon. Members well said, still a concrete meaning though much vaguer than they used to have—opposed as I am naturally to religious tests in any form save where religion is the subject-matter, as in the case of a school teacher or a chaplain in the Navy—opposed as I am to the existence of religious tests, as I am sure are all Liberals, I should have with some regret voted for the Second Reading of the first proposal, and I shall with more regret vote for the Second Reading of the second proposal, but I shall vote for it, because it is certainly the less of two evils.
There is one thing that should be emphasised by any Catholic speaking from the Catholic point of view before we go any further. We have heard two Members already, and I am the third of the Catholic Faith speaking on this subject, and I therefore should like to pay my respectful tribute to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House for permitting so large a proportion of what is a small minority of your fellow-citizens to express their views upon this occasion. There is one thing that ought to be brought out at once: a large part of the Debate has turned upon theology, as if we were a Parliament trying to make laws for Bishops and for kirks. I submit that that attitude is not relevant to the Bill. It would have been far better, and it would have given a cleaner-cut Debate, and we should have had much more interest if less expressions of animosity against the Catholic Church had been made. I should regard such expressions quite philosophically in their proper place. The stronger such expressions are in their proper place the better for the morals of the world. Very little acquaintance with the culture of the world would teach hon. Members that the struggle has already begun in modern Europe between the Church and its opponents, and that these two are to-day the chief antagonists, and, although you may not have it here Yet, it is bound to come. That is so if you take European culture as a whole; and successful as the governors of this country have been in keeping out of those great European debates in regard to the Catholic Church the reflex of that great quarrel will ultimately reach these shores. In its proper place I welcome discussion and attack upon the Church. It clears the air and it affords the only chance in a country so overwhelmingly anti-Catholic of the Catholic point of view being stated. I welcome such action; but I submit the theological attitude which many Members have taken up in the course of this Debate does not affect the Bill. You might have the greatest love for the Catholic Church and the highest possible detachment, devotion and loyalty to it but that would not affect the subject of the Bill before the House. What we are concerned with here is whether we shall impose a test, the one last remaining test upon the one office and the highest in the State and in what form that test shall be imposed. It has been stated, and the old Declaration contains the statement that the Pope could tell a man before he tells a lie that it would not be a sin to do so. Under what system of morals is it conceivable that such a power could exist? In what canon or doctrine of the Catholic Church will you find even an adumbration of such a proposition? I must say that if in the confusion of the moment in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries any such doctrine was bandied about, if anyone permitted these exaggerations then they sound extraordinarily foolish to-day. In the Catholic theology Christ Himself could not have permitted you a sin of that kind. How then could the Vice-Regent, His repre- sentative on earth, if he be His representative, permit it? How can he go to a man and say, "You may break one of the great canons of the law next Thursday and I will let you off." Wherever such a supposition arose, or however it came about, it is historically a falsehood. That power does not exist, never has existed, and could not exist.
There is another point. A great deal has been said about toleration, and it is said, and said with a certain hint, though a false hint, that because the Church of Rome was herself not tolerant, therefore it was logical and right, and even common sense, that the ordinary rules of toleration should not be extended to her. I waited for, but did not hear, that famous historical inaccuracy which always comes out in debates of this kind, and which is attributed to a man who never said it, Veuillot, that Catholics claim liberty on the Protestant principle, but refuse it to Protestants on the Catholic principle. Toleration means this, that when in the State you cannot get what is certainly desirable—a united philosophy—that when you have a body of men already fixed and rooted in tradition and having the claim to be citizens within the State, you have no right to extirpate such a body. You have no right of authority to constrain a man in such a body who sincerely and bonâ fide agrees with it upon a matter of opinion. You will not find any theological treatise to excuse tyranny of that sort. You will find tyranny exercised by civil magistrates, both among Catholic and among other nations, but you will not find the Catholic doctrines more intolerant than the proposition I have laid down, and I marvel that educated men should imagine or believe that toleration should consist in having a vague idea that after all anything may be true. It is perfectly true that the Catholic Church alone says "What I say is true is true." It does not say "It may he true or it will be true on next Tuesday or Wednesday. "It says, "What I say is true is true." The foundation of mathematical science and the foundations of economic science are denied, and the very denial of them is often the gate to intellectual eminence to-day. But it so happens that there is in this world a philosophy which says, "What I say is true is true; not half true, but altogether true," and to accept such an altitude is conviction. It is intolerance to say to another man. "Your position is a hereditary position. You hold the traditions of a fixed and long-existing body in the State. You belong, therefore, to such and such a religion, but I forbid you or restrain you from practising the tenets of which I disapprove. When you say that the Catholic Church is intolerant because she does not change in authority, you do not understand the first meaning of the word "toleration" or the word "authority." I have said that theology ought not to have been introduced in this Debate. I have dealt with the question as briefly as I could, and I would just like to say shortly what seems to me to be the point before us. There ought to be no proposals for any test whatsoever. Nevertheless, there are two good reasons why if we are to have a proposal of this kind it is the milder proposal which we ought to vote for. First, we owe a duty, even in the House of Commons, to reality, and it is our business to remember something of what is going on outside. It is not true to say that there is a vast popular movement in the country against any change in the Oath. What is true is that this is a good stick to beat the Government with, and it offers a good chance for a rising politician to advertise himself. It is true that you can fill the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and pass resolutions denouncing this change; it is also true that you might fill the same hall to overflowing with Irish Catholics, who would come to the opposite conclusion. What I say is that outside all this opinion there is a vast majority of working men who are profoundly indifferent to the whole agitation. I have been told that there is a strong movement in Scotland, and I daresay there is, in favour of something rude being said about the Catholic Church; but I think it is quite untrue to say that there is a widespread and rising popular opposition to, this proposal. What is more important is the opinion of a powerful, well-organised minority that can decide an election. That point, I think, has explained more than one speech this evening. When the overwhelming majority of the country want a thing done or not done, they are of little effect—though they still have the House of Lords. When a small organised minority want a thing, then the politicians are afraid. I am ashamed to think, but I do think, that a little of the support in favour of this evident act of justice has come from men who are not themselves very much in favour of it but who have to remember that there is a Catholic vote in their constituencies. I hope more sincere principles will obtain. After all, we do represent those masses even under the party system. We represent their indifference to these theological squabbles. We must also remember that we represent here only the British Isles, but we are acting now for the whole Empire. Does anyone believe that if all these different parts of the Empire were represented, if we had chosen men from the various Colonies to meet the Government and the Opposition of the day, they would allow an Oath like the old one to stand? You might get the fanatical Orange clique, a few up-country Boers, and a much small number in New Zealand and Australia to support the old Oath, but the vast majority of them would regard it as fantastic and archaic nonsense. Under the circumstances I think it is plainly our duty as Liberals to accept the second best of two bad things, and vote for the Second Reading.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Belloc the Chairman - 'You are about to listen. I am about to sneer'.

Do we agree? A debate between GK Chesterton and Bernard Shaw (with Hilaire Belloc in the chair), London, 1928
Hilaire Belloc — I do not know what Mr. Chesterton is going to say. I do not know what Mr. Shaw is going to say. If I did I would not say it for them. I vaguely gather from what I have heard that they are going to try to discover a principle: whether men should be free to possess private means, as is Mr. Shaw, as is Mr. Chesterton; or should be, like myself, an embarrassed person, a publishers’ hack. I could tell them; but my mouth is shut. I am not allowed to say what I think. At any rate, they are going to debate this sort of thing. I know not what more to say They are about to debate. You are about to listen. I am about to sneer.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Across Sussex with Belloc - In the Footsteps of The Four Men by Bob Copper


Published by Alan Sutton Publishing

This is a must-read book for lovers of Sussex. Across Sussex with Belloc is a book where two of the great noters of Sussex culture coincide.
Bob Copper (1915-2004), the great collector and singer of Sussex songs, was described by the Independent as "England's most important traditional folk-singer". In his later years he wrote several good books about Sussex too...


Wednesday 14 September 2011

Who was Miranda?

This sonnet, by Hugh Mackintosh, is quoted by Lord Stanley of Alderley in his matchless introduction to the revised edition of The Cruise of the Nona (1955):


No one may span you for a hundred years,
No one appraise you but the very wise:
Fragments of your great song enchant our ears,
The length of your great stride eludes our eyes;
Your peaks stand high above our valley's murk,
Distance of time alone can give the view
Of that great mountain range that is your work
And of the four true men made one in you.
Down from your height cascades and torrents flow,
Multiple springs of loveliness and laughter,
To stay and comfort those who follow after
When you and we have gone with last year's snow.
For me you are the poet crystalline
Of 'Tarantella' and 'In praise of wine'.
Hugh Mackintosh

It has been suggested in various web sites that I, Miranda Mackintosh, am the original Miranda to whom Hillaire Belloc refers in his poem 'Tarantella'. This is not true. Hillaire Belloc was a life long friend of my father, Hugh Mackintosh, and our family. In 1929, when I was two years old, he wrote it out on vellum and gave it to me as a present. In an accompanying letter to my father he explained that the poem had evolved over twenty years and that the poem he had given me was not the final version, nor indeed the one that he preferred, but that it had the merit of being the original one. It has been suggested by a distinguished historian that the Miranda referred to could have been the mayor of a small Spanish town with whom Belloc often went hunting. 

Miranda Mackintosh

From www.poetryconnection.net

Sunday 11 September 2011


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.

On Monks I did in Storrington fall,
They took me straight into their Hall;
I saw Three Pictures on a wall,
And Courtesy was in them all.

The first the Annunciation;
The second the Visitation;
The third the Consolation,
Of God that was Our Lady's Son.

The first was of St. Gabriel;
On Wings a-flame from Heaven he fell;
And as he went upon one knee
He shone with Heavenly Courtesy.

Our Lady out of Nazareth rode -
It was Her month of heavy load;
Yet was her face both great and kind,
For Courtesy was in Her Mind.

The third it was our Little Lord,
Whom all the Kings in arms adored;
He was so small you could not see
His large intent of Courtesy.

Our Lord, that was Our Lady's Son,
Go bless you, People, one by one;
My Rhyme is written, my work is done.

View the original manuscript here. Held at Storrington Priory and composed after his visit there.

Read about Belloc's visit to Storrington Priory in Sussex here.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Hilaire Belloc's poetry set to music...

Courtesy of Peter Warlock

When Jesus Christ was four years old,
The angels brought Him toys of gold,
Which no man ever had bought or sold.

And yet with these He would not play.
He made Him small fowl out of clay,
And blessed them till they flew away.

Tu creasti, Domine.
Jesus Christ, Thou child so wise,
Bless mine hands and fill mine eyes,
And bring my soul to Paradise.

Peter Warlock's works:

Warlock's compositions are nearly all songs and most of these are for solo voice and piano. There is a smaller, but still significant, number of pieces for voices — choral songs — although a few of these are arrangements of his solo songs.

He wrote little instrumental music, although the suite Capriol (October 1926) is probably his best-known work and exists in versions for string orchestra, full orchestra and piano duet. (There are arrangements for other combinations, but these are not by Warlock.) His only composition for solo piano is a set of arrangements of Celtic melodies, the "Folk-song preludes". He had a deep affinity for poetry, especially that of Yeats and his friends Robert Nichols and Bruce Blunt (1899–1957). He always chose texts of high artistic value, many of them from the Middle Ages, as basis for his songs.
Many people consider his greatest work to be the song-cycle The Curlew, for tenor and chamber ensemble, in which he sets four linked poems by Yeats. It is certainly his most substantial piece and was written over a long period of time — some seven years — taking in many stylistic changes along the way from the neo-Delianism of "The lover mourns for the loss of love" to sections within the longest song, "The withering of the boughs" that suggest Bartók and Schoenberg as influences before achieving a more idiosyncratic, modal, and genuinely Warlockian vocabulary.

Warlock is also known for his many carols, such as "Adam lay ybounden", "Tyrley Tyrlow", "I Saw a Maiden" and "Bethlehem Down", the last a setting of words by Bruce Blunt.

Warlock's musical tastes were wide, from Renaissance music to Bartók. In his own works, we hear a development from emulation of the Victorian and Edwardian drawing-room style to a more contrapuntal, strongly personal idiom characterised by the relationship between modal lines and a distinctive palette of chords. He was unusual amongst composers of his generation in being largely unaffected by the folksong movement, either as an arranger (the above-named piano pieces being an exception) or a composer. He wrote only one folksong-oriented work, the cycle "Lilligay".

Apart from original works, Warlock edited and transcribed many lute songs by Elizabethan and Jacobean composers in addition to music by Purcell and other Baroque composers. He also did much to promote the music of Delius, especially by organizing the successful Delius Festival of 1929 with Thomas Beecham. He wrote the first biography of Delius, as well as, with Cecil Gray, a book about Carlo Gesualdo. His book on The English Ayre was a groundbreaking study, but he also wrote about contemporary music. His article on Arnold Schoenberg was probably the first substantial study in English of his music. In 1925, Warlock rediscovered the music of sixteenth-century composer Thomas Whythorne, and published a book of his compositions and poetry.

Warlock also edited, under the pseudonym 'Rab Noolas' (to be read backwards), an anthology on drinking 'for the delectation of serious topers', entitled Merry-Go-Down (Mandrake Press, c. 1930).

From Wikipedia

Sunday 4 September 2011

PUNCH - June 27, 1917.

Mr. Hilaire Belloc.Mr. Hilaire Belloc. "THIS TRENCH IS WRONG. IT DOESN'T AGREE WITH MY MAP."