Dec 26, 2015
Chatting with a British bishop who'd said the famous Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc sometimes came to his home when he was a child to visit his father, a friend, I asked the obvious question: What was Belloc like?
The bishop didn't say a lot, but I do remember this: "…an old man in a rumpled, stained black suit." The image has stuck with me, as apparently it did with the bishop.
That would have been Belloc in the last years of his life. (He died in July, 1953, just short of turning 83.) He kept writing until near the end-after all, he made his living like that-social criticism plus history and biography of a polemical nature, vigorous and clear but scarcely unbiased.
But the language-ah, the language. Here was Belloc's great gift. From beginning to end his writing was a model of simple, elegant English prose.