A site about matters of the Catholic Church, history, philosophy, and literature
Hilaire Belloc the Sailor and His Salty “Song of the Pelagian Heresy”
Dr. Robert Hickson
12 September 2022
The Holy Name of Mary
[Expressed Manly Love for the 1902-1912 Sussex, England:] “The Southern Hills and the South Sea / They blow such gladness into me, / That when I get to Burton Sands / And smell the smell of the Home Lands, / My heart is all renewed and fills / With the Southern Sea and the South Hills.” (Hilaire Belloc, Complete Verses, page 89.)
“So that no one may be shocked, my song [said the Sailor] shall be of a religious sort, dealing with the great truths. And perhaps that will soften the heart of the torturers….For this song that I [the Sailor] am proposing to sing [at the Inn] is of a good loud roaring, but none the less it deals with the ultimate things….Now it cannot be properly sung unless the semi-chorus (which I will indicate by raising my hands) is sung loudly by all of you together…for dear life’s sake….Such is the nature of the song.” (The Four Men (1912), pages 89-90.)
“Oh, he didn’t believe / In Adam and Eve, / He put no faith therein! / His doubts began / With the fall of man, / And he laughed at original sin!” (The Four Men, page 93—an emphatic “semi-chorus” character mark of the Pelagian Man, as it was first sung aloud and then led more fully by the Sailor himself.)
In the concise doctrinal essay—along with its salty and robust songs—as they are presented immediately below this compact introduction, we may also fittingly read some four pages of Hilaire Belloc’s own 1912 book, entitled The Four Men1 about the dominant aspects of the four symbolized named characters (Myself, the Poet, the Sailor, and the elderly—and often wise—Grizzlebeard).
In the preparatory surrounding 1902-1912 context, “the Sailor” himself takes the initiative to compose and deliver the “Song of the Pelagian Heresy” to their three companions and to the growing onlookers at their inviting Inn.
Moreover, the Sailor stipulates that the growing audience’s response to each of three semi-chorus’ must be heartfelt, robust, and loud! We shall further discuss the context and aftermath—and the Sailor’s ongoing reflections—after closely we also now read the vivid “Song of the Pelagian Heresy.”2 We may now also consider the various 1902 and 1912 Modernisms already sabotaging the Catholic Faith. Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius X were clear about what is, sub gratia, at stake. Both, for example, were attentive lest a “rally to Democracy” could and would subtly become a “rally to the Revolution”!
SONG OF THE PELAGIAN HERESY FOR THE STRENGTHING OF MEN’S BACKS AND THE VERY ROBUST OUT-THRUSTING OF DOUBTFUL DOCTRINE AND THE UNCERTAIN INTELLECTUAL
Pelagius lived in Kardanoel,
And taught his doctrine there:
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How whether you found eternal joy,
Or sank forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own concern.
Oh, he didn’t believe
In Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!
With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at original sin!
Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre —
(Germanus was his name),
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And called Pelagius Shame:
And then with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly thwacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
That they rather had been hanged.
Oh, he thwacked them hard and he banged them long,
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong,
Their orthodox persuasions!
With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Their orthodox persu-a-a-sions!
Now the Faith is old and the Devil is bold —
Exceedingly bold indeed;
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we who sit in a sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh—let us put it away to infallible truth,
That always shall prevail!
And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword,
And for howling heretics too;
And whatever good things
Our Christendom brings,
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Especially barley brew!
© 2022 Robert D. Hickson
1Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1912)—310 pages. The setting is in 1902 A.D.
2See Complete Verse: Hilaire Belloc (London: PIMLICO, 1970 and 1991), pages 90-92 for the complete and compact “Song of the the Pelagian Heresy.” We shall later add some reflections on the context and incentive for the big “Song.”
Hilaire Belloc’s Poems on Courtesy: His Poignant Humility before Our Lady and ChildSeptember 2, 2022In “Literature”
H. Belloc’s 1910 Sense of “Sacramental Things”: The Revival of the Past as a Vivid and Abiding PresenceJuly 3, 2020In “Catholic Church”
Hilaire Belloc’s 1910 Reflective Essay “On Sacramental Things”September 30, 2019In “Catholic Church”
- Hilaire Belloc
Published by hicksonfamily
Robert Hickson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in June 1964, and was assigned to Southeast Asia. After one year, he became a U.S. Army Special Forces Officer and earned his “3-prefix” as a “Green Beret,” after having already completed Parachute School and Ranger School and certain forms of Naval Commando Training. After tours in Viet Nam and elsewhere in Asia, he taught at the J.F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center as the Head of the East Asian Seminar and Instructor in Military History and Irregular Warfare. He acquired his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Classics (Greco-Roman) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with an emphasis on Ancient Philosophy and Medieval Literature (to include Theological Literature). For seven years, he was Professor and Chairman of the Literature and Latin Department at Christendom College, leaving shortly thereafter to return to Military and Strategic-Cultural Studies. He was a Professor at the Joint Military Intelligence College (former Defense Intelligence College), a graduate school in the U.S. Intelligence Community at the Defense Intelligence Agency (D.I.A.) in Washington, D.C. Among other things, he taught Foreign Area and National Security Studies, Military History and Strategy, as well as Moral Philosophy. He was then invited to the Air Force Academy for four years as a Professor in the William Simon Chair of Strategy and Culture, teaching in several academic departments. He concluded his Federal Service as a Professor of Strategic and Cultural Studies, as well as Military History and National Security Studies, at the Joint Special Operations University in Florida, a part of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Comparative cultural and strategic-historical studies constituted a unifying theme in these various forms of teaching over the years. Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits. Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time. Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte, Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt. View all posts by hicksonfamily
PublishedSeptember 13, 2022