Hilaire Belloc: A Memoir

Hilaire Belloc: A Memoir

Hilaire Belloc: A Memoir

Hilaire Belloc: A Memoir

Excerpt

There is no art by which a dead man not be so presented to the living that those who knew him will seem to have seen him once more as he was, and those who did not know him will receive the plenary effect of his personality. A portrait or a bust may give to posterity his image, may even persuade us that the skill of artist or sculptor has presented for the living not only his likeness, but even the elements of his character. One who was his friend may recognize the qualities which the skill of the interpreter has transferred to canvas or to clay. One who never saw him may say, standing before the bust or the portrait, "Evidently he was a man of this kind or that." Perhaps a writer will describe him so persuasively, and in detail so vivid, that the sleeping memories of his friends are awakened as though by magic, and his very gestures and movements return to them for a moment. But nothing, nothing can bring back the whole man, the full man, the living man. The bust is dead matter, the portrait will not breathe, the words are only words. We cannot hear the tones of a voice stilled for ever, nor see the animation of the features, the swift changes of expression in the eyes, the play of emotion over the face. Yet always, if there is to be a memorial to the dead, something must be attempted.

In this brief memoir will be found some account of a great man who was also the greatest writer of his day. I was honoured with his friendship for a period of thirty . . .

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