A Literary re-assessment

About Goldolphin Horne by Hilaire Belloc

Now I know quite a bit about Godolphin, having been introduced to him along with Augustus – from another stable – when I was a lad.

Godolphin so it would appear, is nobly born and holds the human race in scorn. He lives with his family in Berkeley Square.

Belloc describes Godolphin as a sociopath and finds that Godolphin’s inability to engage is going to cause trouble later on. This is not without some foundation for later in the tale, Godolphin’s name is suggested for a vacancy as a page at court but his character is called into question by the aristocracy and found wanting.

The upshot of this is that Godolphin misses out on the opportunity (although Belloc is uncharacteristically unhelpful at this juncture and does not name the one who is ultimately confirmed in the post).

A downward spiral befalls Godolphin and he finishes up as a boot-black at the Savoy (presumably Hotel, although region unspecified). Again, Belloc is unhelpful  and does not enumerate the actual events which bring about Godolphin’s descent into the world below-stairs.

However, Belloc may be mistaken in his ultimate premise that Godolphin’s post is a punishment. For while he (Godolphin) was nobly born, it does not mean that he (Godolphin) cannot work in legitimate employment, however humble. He (Godolphin) may even enjoy it. He (Godolphin) may have had a need to get his hands dirty and smell of turpentine in order that he might attain self-esteem rather than inherit it.

Perhaps this is what Belloc meant but it is unclear. And another thing: why is Belloc so dismissive of the man who might black his boots? (Could this poem be autobiographical in relation to Belloc?)

Our view is that we consider Belloc unfairly judgemental and irrationally predjudiced, given to thinking in clichés.

Mark 5.5 out of 10.

Belloc: You failed to make the point clear. Several marks for amusement though (including witty use of language).


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