A Book of Modern Essays

By Bruce Welker McCullough; Edwin Berry Burgum | Go to book overview

ON AN UNKNOWN COUNTRY*

HILAIRE BELLOC

(This beautifully written essay, like Mrs. Meynell's, is the product of a Catholic and a mystical mind. Hilaire Belloc is an Englishman of French descent, educated at Edgbaston Oratory school and at Balliol College, Oxford. His literary career started in the mid-nineties with the publication of several volumes of poetry, especially verses for children. But Belloc has shown unusual diversity of talent, and in the public mind he is now best known as the somewhat militant champion of the Roman Church and the continuator of Lingard's Catholic History of England. He uses the essay as a convenient receptacle for tucking away all sorts of ideas that occur to him in the course of more arduous studies. Like Montaigne's, his essays, as the titles of their collections suggest (On Nothing, 1907; On Everything, 1909; On Anything, 1910; On, 1924), are for the most part wilfully lacking in form. Yet the example here quoted proves to be an exception.

Belloc has chosen for this essay a difficult subject, one that, after the most careful development, often eludes our comprehension. But it is a theme that has attracted some of the finest minds in many ages and many countries, and rests at the foundation of most of the great religions of the world. ". . . there is an Unknown Country lying beneath the places that we know, and appearing only in moments of revelation." What this country is may become more clear if we say it is the abode of "the eternal verities." It is the haven the Jewish prophets sought in the world to come. It is the mystical union with God of which

____________________
*
From On Nothing. London: Methuen & Co., 1907.

-161-

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A Book of Modern Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • "Highbrow" and "Lowbrow" 1
  • What is a Puritan? 17
  • Portrait of a Family 45
  • The Norwegian Migration to America 63
  • The West and American Ideals 79
  • The Once Open Road 101
  • Sentimental America 113
  • Louisiana: (Madame de la Louisiane) 127
  • Fez 141
  • The Rhythm of Life 147
  • Summer 153
  • On an Unknown Country 161
  • Ideals and Day-Dreams 169
  • Castles in Spain 187
  • Science and the Faith of the Modern 201
  • On Friendship 219
  • A Relic 225
  • The Cheerful Breakfast Table 235
  • Conversation 249
  • Trivia 259
  • On Jargon 265
  • Names Practical and Poetic 285
  • The American Language 297
  • What the American Rhodes Scholar Gets from Oxford 321
  • Literary Taste 339
  • Dickens 347
  • The Vicar of Wakefield 365
  • Don Quixote 373
  • The Novel Démeublé 389
  • The Politics of Martha and of Mary 397
  • Autumn Tints in Chivalry 419
  • Index of Authors 431
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