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 26 April 2015

Mr Belloc has escaped the Commons...

The Commons has not escaped Mr. Belloc, even if Mr. Belloc has escaped the Commons. In the House he was a plain dealer with a ready wit; outside the House he wields still larger weapons of attack. Having come quickly and resolutely to an estimate of the futility of party he has a right to say the things that no constituency would have been pleased to hear uttered on its behalf. His paper, "The Change in Politics," states an old discontent; the interesting thing is that he considers it has a new force at the present time:

"The sense, more or less developed in all of us just now, that the spirit of English political life is changing, is finding expression not in the Press—which should be its chief vehicle—but rather in conversation, in the tone of voice, and the choice of new phrases. . . . All the machinery that went with the older method, which we still call the Party System, is no longer of interest. There is a different tone abroad, and it will be of deep interest—perhaps it will turn out to be something more practical and perilous than a mere interest— to watch the rapid development of this spirit. . . . The policies which politicians have recently defended or opposed have been so numerous, so rapidly adopted and alternatively abandoned, they have been debated with such transparent advocacy and with such equally transparent insincerity, that the political leaders to whom the task has fallen have shaken the traditional confidence which their mere titles of office used to inspire.... The leaders no longer stand for any definite policy; their subordinates defend or oppose nothing till the word is passed, the public ridicule their indifference and secret alliance--and that is the first evil."

A remedy is not prescribed by Mr. Belloc, but there is, he says, "the possibility, though only the remote possibility, that so many men shall enter the House of Commons independent of the Whips as may split the fossil from within. Ten would be enough; at present there are not two."...

From a review of The Fortnightly Review. The Tablet, Page 14, 7th January 1911.

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