September 2008

The day was fixed for the ceremony itself, in a corrugated iron hut on the edge of the Railway Hotel at Beaconsfield, the town at that stage having no recusant place of worship.  Father Ignatius Rice came over from the nearby Douai Abbey.  Ronald Knox arrived from Oxford, and they all sat awaiting the appearance of Mr Belloc.  The moments ticked by, turning first into half an hour and then an hour.  Frances Chesterton, still loyal to her Anglicanism and broken-hearted by her husband’s defection, was in floods of tears, and Father Rice had to take her into the bar of the hotel for a drink to calm her nerves, while Father O’Connor heard Chesterton’s confession in the tin tabernacle.  At length, they abandoned any hope of Belloc’s appearing, and they proceeded with the ceremony in an agony of awkwardness.  Father O’Connor remembered too late that he had neglected to bring his Ritual […].  Chesterton thought that he had one, and fished about in his elephantine pockets and produced a ‘threepenny shocker’  before the prayer book, mingled with string, chalk, sweet papers and tobacco, made its unexpected appearance.  The perfunctory rite was performed to the accompaniment of Frances Chesterton’s lachrymose sniffing, and Ronald Knox felt afterwards that the occasion had been ‘spoilt’ by Belloc’s negligent failure to appear. 

A month later, Maurice Baring wrote to Belloc to ask if it was true that Chesterton had at last been reconciled to the Holy See.  He received the reply, dated from the Reform Club on August 25th.  ‘Yes, Gilbert was received in the end of July.  I think the date was Sunday, the 23rd, but on that I am not absolutely sure.  It is a very astonishing occurrence, but these things are always astonishing.’

From Hilaire Belloc by A. N. Wilson (London, 1984)


Thank you, dear Seraphic!  I did this in rather a hurry, as I’m off to Slovakia for a week tomorrow, and time has been impossibly tight for weeks now.  To all my loyal blog-followers (both of you), I apologise for my neglect of TT and your own blogs – I still luvs yaz, honest!


What is your chief characteristic?

Affability (I hope!)
What is your principal fault?

It used to be blithe indolence – now it’s anxious indolence
What is your favourite quality in a man?

And in a woman?


Who is your favourite historical figure?

The Chesterbelloc.
Who are your living heroes?

Corny, I know, but – Benedict XVI.  Or Ray Mears.  Er…
Who would you like to be, if you could?

A better version of myself – I wouldn’t be comfortable being anyone else.  Quite a lot better though.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Tea, books, cake, booze, “laughter and the love of friends”.

What is your idea of misery?

Wage-slavery in a stressful but unrewarding job.

Where would you like to live?

Edinburgh.  Truly.  Maybe with a cottage somewhere in the West Highlands too.

What talent would you like to have?


For what fault do you have the most toleration?

Who are your favourite painters?

Cezanne and the Scottish Colourists.

Who are your favourite composers?

Anything early, but especially Dowland, Bach, and Palestrina.

What is your favourite colour?


Of all things, what do you most detest?

Have you got a motto?

Not really, but “Amor vincit omnia” is pretty good.
What would you like to do right now?

Go home and eat, sleep and leave my packing till tomorrow.  And I will!