Hilaire Belloc: Walking, Inns, and the Recovery of Europe

On this 64th anniversary of the death of Hilaire Belloc (and fitting Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel), I thought to select a few passages from our beloved friend’s versatile writings both before and shortly after World War I: from the years 1911 and 1919 respectively. For, so much of intimate consequence had happened during that eight-year interval.

Just before the formal, late July outbreak of the momentous and very consequential Great War, Hilaire Belloc’s wife Elodie so unexpectedly died of influenza, and he was as a consequence almost inconsolable. (Her death occurred on 2 February 1914, Candlemas). And Belloc’s oldest son, Louis, a combat aviator as a Second Lieutenant, was to die late in the War (in late August of 1918), and his body was never found. (Belloc was to lose another son, Peter, early in World War II, in 1941. Belloc’s youngest son, Peter Gilbert Belloc, was then a Captain in the Royal Marines and he died after being evacuated with some kind of diseased wound.) We may well imagine what these intimate losses—to include the death of Cecil Chesterton late in World War I—cumulatively did to a whole-hearted and loyally affectionate man like Belloc. Especially after the death of Peter, too.

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