‘The Penalties of Truth’ and Belloc’s Traveller

It is often the case, well known to the close readers of Hilaire Belloc’s varied essays, that he surprises us with some of his profoundest reflections and most memorable formulations in those lighter essays of his so full of banter and irony; or even in his brief, magnanimous considerations of other prose writers and poets, such as Dr. Samuel Johnson or Lord Byron, neither of whom was a Catholic.

Therefore, before more closely considering his gravely earnest, but also unexpectedly purifying and cumulatively edifying essay, “The Opportunity,” I wish to illustrate my above contention by mentioning a few of Hilaire Belloc’s fresh and enlivening words about Poetry and then about the Faith, as they are found in one of the other essays in his book, Short Talks with the Dead and Others. It is of Belloc’s brief essay, “Talking of Byron,”that I speak.

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