Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hilaire Belloc

(Above: Shaw, Belloc, and Chesterton.)

Today is the birthday of Joseph Hilaire Pierre Belloc, born in 1870 to a French father and an English mother. He and GKC became such good friends and allies that they became known as the "Chesterbelloc."

As a young child he lived in France, but was sent to Cardinal John Henry's Newmany Oratory School in England, then studied at Balliol College, graduating in 1895 with a first class honors in history.

Belloc's first book, The Bad Child's Book of Beasts, was published in 1896, the same year he married Elodie Hogan. He wrote about a variety of topics which include French and British history, military strategy, satire, comic and serious verse, literary criticism, travel, and religious, political and social commentary. In 1902, Belloc wrote his most famous work, "Path to Rome", which described a one-man pilgrimage to the Holy City.

Belloc was also interested in politics and was elected to Parliament in 1906 and 1910. However, he left politics in order to start a new political review called Eye-Witness with G.K. and Cecil Chesteron. In the review the three of them attacked the English governmental system. Belloc, who revered Napoleon's efforts, worked to promote a unified Europe. He, along with GKC, also promoted Distributism

His life was filled with tragedy. Belloc's wife died in 1914 and his son Louis was killed in 1918 in World War I. His good friend Chesterton died in 1936. In 1941, Belloc's other son Peter died in World War II, and Belloc suffered a severe stroke in 1942 which ended his literary work. He died in 1953.

I leave with one of his sunny verses.

The Catholic Sun

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

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