IT would be extremely foolish to attempt a profile of Hilaire Ban without reference to the brilliant portrait in Chesterton's Autobiography, in which occurs the anecdote of the publican near Horsham, " who obviously had never heard of books and such bosh," and to whom Chesterton mentioned Belloc's name. The
publican said: He farms a bit, doesn't he?" and Chesterton thought how hugely flattered Belloc would be to hear the comment.
As Chesterton points out, Bell: c has long been regarded as having the appearance of the symbolic Englishman although, as an illustration shows, in Mrs. Belloc Lowndcs' own autobiographical work, 1. Too, Have Lived in Arcady. his resemblance to the French side of his family is more clearly marked than to his mother's family. But if this English appearance is the least English thing about him, the assumption remains correct. Belloc is the traditional Englishman, not only because his roots are strong in Sussex, hut also because they are strong in Europe and in the Faith.
He was born in France in eventful 1870. and spent the first formative decades of nis life in France and England; going to school at the Oratory. where the example of Newman may have influenced his style; receiving his military training in the French artillery. where he developed his strong interest in strategy and tactics; returning to Balliol, where he took a first in History and became known to his contemporaries at Oxford as a brilliant orator and debater. It was about this time when he had just come down from Oxford, that E. C. Bentley introduced him to Gilbert Chesterton. The meeting was at a small restaurant in Soho; and from it flowed such large consequence as the growth of the Chesterbelloc and the conversion of Chesterton. Their collaboration has become a part of history which only posterity will access correctly. To-day, we tend, some of us, to consider it mainly as a literary association: some of us as au i excursion in politics. Its effect on the moulding of contemporary ideas and on contemporary instruction is too close to he clearly understood. Yet already we can see Belloc's interpretation of political trends working like yeast among the more sober politicians. as we can see his challenge to the accepted historians working through the schools, even the schools conducted by his critics. The two men had much to contribute to each other's work. though each retained his own individuality and wrote independently of the other. The difference in action was to be seen perhaps in Belloc's more direct approach. He entered Parliament as M.P. for South Salford and agitated the Liberal Party by proposing a public audit of party funds. lie collaborated with Cecil Chesterton in writing The Party System and founding the EYe-Witness, the final successor to which is now edited by his son-inlaw, Reginald Jebb. He wrote The Servile State. which the critics dismissed as an alarmist document, but which they have to recognise to-day as an accurate diagnosis of our present ills. He undertook the completion of Lingard's History of England. and so completely overshadowed Lingard. that the rectification of English historical writing is attributed to him, solely, by many of his follipeers. This may indeed become the most solid of his contributions to English life: for it can be said that if he has not affected English history he has certainly improved the history hooks. But, to say that, is to ignore his claims as an apologist, an essayist, a satirist and a poet, He has written tittle since he recovered from a serious illness in 1940, but he has the satisfaction, however melancholy, of knowing that there is no need for the revision of the work he has published in these several fields. He has outlived the poets and the essayists who have mattered in our day. with not more than two excertions; and I doubt very much whether more than one man can claim a like mastery of English style.
The explanation of this many-sided genius is contained, no doubt, in Chesterton's. appraisernent: that Belloc has in his mind the habit of separating the scientific from the artistic. " It is true that when a Frenchman ciesiens a park as an ornamental park the paths are very curly indeed because they are only ornamental. When he designs a road, be makes
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