Hilaire Belloc

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For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.
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Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 187016 July 1953) was a British writer and poet, known chiefly for his essays and children's books; he was sometimes referred to by the nickname "Old Thunder".


  • Child! Do not throw this book about;
    Refrain from the unholy pleasure
    Of cutting all the pictures out!
    Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
    • A Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896) Dedication
  • What! Would you slap the Porcupine?
    Unhappy child — desist!
    Alas! That any friend of mine
    Should turn Tupto-philist.
    • More Beasts for Worse Children: The Porcupine
  • From quiet homes and first beginning, Out to the undiscovered ends, There's nothing worth the wear of winning, But laughter and the love of friends.
    • Verses (1910) "Dedicatory Ode"
  • It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.
  • Whatever happens, we have got
    The Maxim gun, and they have not.
    • The Modern Traveller (1898)
  • I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme. But money gives me pleasure all the time.
    • "Fatigued", Sonnets and Verse (1923)
  • 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.
    • "Courtesy"
  • Here richly, with ridiculous display,
    The Politician's corpse was laid away.
    While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
    I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.
    • "Epitaph on the Politician Himself"
  • May all my enemies go to hell,
    Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.
    • "Lines For A Christmas Card"
  • In soft deluding lies let fools delight. A shadow marks our days, which end in Night.
    • For a sundial.
  • Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!
    • The Road to Rome
  • All men have an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • The moment a man talks to his fellows he begins to lie.
    • The Silence of the Sea
  • The Microbe is so very small
    You cannot make him out at all,
    But many sanguine people hope
    To see him through a microscope.
    • "The Microbe"
  • Oh! let us never, never doubt
    What nobody is sure about!
    • "The Microbe"
  • Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
    But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right.
    • "The Pacifist"
  • Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
    Exceedingly bold indeed.
    And the masses of doubt that are floating about
    Would smother a mortal creed.
    But we that sit in a sturdy youth
    And still can drink strong ale
    Let us put it away to infallible truth
    That always shall prevail.
    And thank the Lord
    For the temporal sword
    And howling heretics too.
    And all good things
    Our Christendom brings
    But especially barley brew!
    • The Pelagian Drinking Song
  • The world is full of double beds
    And most delightful maidenheads,
    Which being so, there’s no excuse
    For sodomy or self-abuse.
    • "The world is full of double beds"
  • I shoot the Hippopotamus
    With bullets made of platinum,
    Because if I use leaden ones
    His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
    • "The Hippopotamus"
  • Torture will give a dozen pence or more
    To keep a drab from bawling at his door.
    The public taste is quite a different thing—
    Torture is positively paid to sing.
    • "On Torture: A Public Singer"
  • It was my shame, and now it is my boast,
    That I have loved you rather more than most.
    • "Time Cures All"
  • A lovely river, all alone,
    She lingers in the hills and holds
    A hundred little towns of stone,
    Forgotten in the western wolds.
    • "The Evenlode"
  • You shall receive me when the clouds are high
    With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
    This is the faith that I have held and hold,
    And this is that in which I mean to die.
    • "Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa"
  • Of three in One and One in three
    My narrow mind would doubting be
    Till Beauty, Grace and Kindness met
    And all at once were Juliet.
    • "A Trinity"
  • How did the party go in Portman Square?
    I cannot tell you; Juliet was not there.
    And how did Lady Gaster's party go?
    Juliet was next me and I do not know.
    • "Juliet"
  • That I grow sour, who only lack delight;
    That I descend to sneer, who only grieve;
    That from my depth I should
    condemn your height,
    That with my blame my mockery you receive—
    Huntress and splendor of the woodland night—
    Diana of this world, do not believe.
  • Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties,
    And youth in Expectation. Youth is wise.
    • "Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties"
  • When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
    'His sins were scarlet, But his books were read'.
    • "On His Books"

Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine

  • To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
    To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
    Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
    Wine, privilege of the completely free;
    Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
    Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
    Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!
  • By thee do seers the inward light discern;
    By thee the statue lives, the Gods return.
  • When the ephemeral vision's lure is past
    All, all, must face their Passion at the last.
  • So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
    So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
    And, sacramental, raise me the Divine:
    Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.


  • An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight.
    • On the Church.
  • Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.
  • Be at the pains of putting down every single item of expenditure whatsoever every day which could possibly be twisted into a professional expense and remember to lump in all the doubtfulls.
  • Be content to remember that those who can make omelettes properly can do nothing else.
  • Every major question in history is a religious question. It has more effect in molding life than nationalism or a common language.
  • I am writing a book about the Crusades so dull that I can scarcely write it.
  • I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
  • Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone.
  • It is the best of all trades, to make songs, and the second best to sing them.
  • Just as there is nothing between the admirable omelet and the intolerable, so with autobiography.
  • Loss and possession, Death and life are one. There falls no shadow where There shines no sun.
  • Mothers of large families (who claim common sense) will find a Tiger well repay the trouble and expense.
  • Of all fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing.
  • Oh, my friends, be warned by me, That breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea, Are all human frame requires.
  • Physicians of the Utmost Fame Were called at once; but when they came they murmured as they took their fees, 'There is no cure for this disease.'
  • The accursed power which stands on Privilege (And goes with Women, and Champagne, and Bridge) Broke— and Democracy resumed her reign: (Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne).
  • The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.
  • When friendship disappears then there is a space left open to that awful loneliness of the outside world which is like the cold space between the planets. It is an air in which men perish utterly.
  • First, I tell them what I am going to tell them, then I tell them, then I tell them what I told them.

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