I will tell you this much; it is the moment (not the year or the month, mind you, nor even the hour, but the very second) when a man is grown up, when he sees things as they are (that is, backwards), and feels solidly himself. Do I make myself clear No matter, it is the Shock of Maturity, and that must suffice for you. But perhaps you have been reading little brown books on Evolution, and you don't believe in catastrophes, or Climaxes, or Definitions eh (Belloc, 1902, p.7)
This passage could substitute very well for debates which are carried out today; more particularly, Belloc is inserting into his travel account some personal opinions about the origins of life and of man. The author is dismissing popular notions of Evolution as established in that time period in Europe. The Grand Climacteric, in Belloc's view, is not the scientific orthodoxy of the day, Darwinism, but the acceptance of religious faith. As he travels to Rome, he warns that his peculiar views might land him in trouble with the authorities. He also highlights the passions inflamed by the debate, suggesting that one overhearing a more explicit declaration of faith might, in fact, run and enlist the aid of the authorities in order to punish the heretic.