A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here , citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A preposition, I may remark in passing, is about the best thing in the world to end a sentence with. This is what we call practising what we preach.

-February 17, 1906, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"...a town must be more poetical than the country."

...for there is one respect in which a town must be more poetical than the country, since it is closer to the spirit of man; for London, if it be not one of the masterpieces of man, is at least one of his sins. A street is really more poetical than a meadow, because a street has a secret. A street is going somewhere, and a meadow nowhere.
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Nothing is so hard on the world as the world."

Nothing is so hard on the world as the world. Generally, in comparison, there has been much more mercy and moderation in the Church. Nothing is more inhuman than humanity itself to human habits, affections or weaknesses, when they happen to be unpopular for particular reasons at a particular moment; and they are likely to be more ruthlessly treated by a craze than a by a creed...man left to himself is a victim of moods. This mood of prohibition is always a mood of compulsion, of conquest and the cleansing of the earth of every trace of the temporarily detested thing; that sort of man must always crush the human world in order to sift it.
-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

"...men often dislike pomp or splendour because they are not simple enough to like it."

I will leave the True Christian to labour a very obvious contrast between St. Peter's and St. Peter. Simon Peter was probably a simple man; but men often dislike pomp or splendour because they are not simple enough to like it. No notes were made at the time about the great Fisherman's taste in architecture, his friends being otherwise employed on matters which they (being also simple men) fancied to be more urgent. But if he had any particular admiration for any particular building, I should say he is as likely as not to have been thrilled, in a deplorably theatrical manner, by the florid Corinthian magnificence of the Herodian Temple. And if tomorrow morning a Neapolitan fisherman, fresh from the nets and in exactly the same childlike spirit as Simon of Galilee, made his first journey from the sea to Rome, I strongly suspect that he would throw up his hands in wonder as Michael Angelo intended him to do. For all art is sensational, since it aims at producing some sort of sensation. There are other examples of the fact that the simple may see subtle things, even after the subtle have so long lectured and laid down the law about rather simple things.
-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

Monday, November 10, 2014

T.S. Eliot and Chesterton

An interesting article by Joseph Pearce:

G.K. Chesterton & T.S. Eliot: Friends or Enemies?

In 1929, following his much-publicized conversion to Christianity, Eliot wrote to Chesterton in a spirit of reconciliation: “I should like extremely to come to see you one day…May I mention that I have much sympathy with your political and social views, as well as (with obvious reservations) your religious views?”[7] The “obvious reservations” were a reference to the fact that Chesterton had converted to Roman Catholicism whereas Eliot had become an anglo-Catholic, i.e. a member of the “higher” regions of the Church of England. In the same letter, Eliot had added that Chesterton’s study of Charles Dickens “was always a delight to me.”

By 1935, Eliot’s tone, when mentioning Chesterton, was much more cordial. Referring to “such delightful fiction as Mr Chesterton’s Man Who was Thursday or Father Brown,” Eliot cautioned that the inclusion of religious apologetics or “Propaganda”, such as that introduced by Chesterton into his fiction, was not normally advisable. Insisting that nobody “admires and enjoys” Chesterton’s fiction “more than I do,” he added that few could succeed as Chesterton does: “I would only remark that when the same effect is aimed at by zealous persons of less talent than Mr. Chesterton the effect is negative.”[8]

As a cordial friendship developed between the erstwhile enemies, Chesterton became a valued contributor to the Criterion, the quarterly review which Eliot edited, and shortly before his death Chesterton had “greatly wished” to see Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral when it was performed in Notting Hill.[9] Thus it was that two of the most important figures in the Christian Cultural Revival had moved from enmity to friendship, united in a shared love for civilization which Eliot would encapsulate in Notes towards the Definition of Culture...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It is a great pity that film and radio and other modern inventions have lessened the opportunities of the public to meet politicians face to face and tear them to pieces.

-July 14, 1926, Buffalo Evening News [H/T Sean Dailey]

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Optimism, or the utmost possible praise of all things, ought to be the keynote of criticism."

Optimism, or the utmost possible praise of all things, ought to be the keynote of criticism. It may appear to be an audacious assertion, but it may be tested by one very large and simple process. Compare the reality of a man's criticism when praising anything with its reality when excluding anything, and we shall all feel how much more often we agree with the former than with the latter. A man says, for example, "The Yorkshire moors are incomparably splendid," and we wholly agree. He goes on, "their superiority to the mere hills of Surrey--" and we instantly disagree with him. He says, "the Iliad, the highest expression of man's poetical genius," and all our hearts assent. He adds, "towering high above all our Hamlets and Macbeths," and we flatly deny it. A man may say, "Plato was the greatest man of antiquity," and we admit it; but if he says "he was far greater than Aischylus," we demur. Briefly, in praising great men we cheerfully agree to a superlative, but we emphatically decline a comparative. We come very near to the optimism of that universal superlative which in the morning of the world declared all things to be very good.

One of the results of this fact is that when a critic is really large-minded and really sympathetic and comprehensive, and really has hold of a guiding and enlightening idea, he should still watch with the greatest suspicion his own limitations and rejections. His praise will almost certainly be sound, his blame should always remain to his own mind a little dubious.

-May 3, 1902, The Speaker

Friday, October 31, 2014

"If a man does not talk to himself, it is because he is not worth talking to."

The other criticism which the present critic may criticise is the frequent observation that a soliloquy is old-fashioned- and by "old-fashioned" they always mean artificial or unnatural. Now I should say that a soliloquy is the most natural thing in the world. It is no more artificial than a conscience; or a habit of walking about a room. I constantly talk to myself. If a man does not talk to himself, it is because he is not worth talking to. Soliloquy is simply the strength and liberty of the soul, without which each one of us would be like that nobleman in one of the most brilliant and bizarre of Mr. Henry Jame's tales, who did not exist at all except when others were present. Every man ought to be able to argue with himself.
-Dublin Review, January 1914

Thursday, October 30, 2014

These are the high moments of the Punch and Judy art....For do not our day-dreams of practical politics now largely consist in wishing we could hit wooden heads with a wooden stick?
-October 8, 1921, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"...he never had any conviction except that he was young; and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years."

The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young; and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years. What we see, in short, is not the first tearing triumph of revolutionary children. It is the first great failure of revolutionary parents. It is the collapse of scepticism in the seat of authority.
-July 9, 1921, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"...a penny spent is a penny gained"

Proverbs are regarded as sacred things. The mere word suffices for the name of one of the books of the Bible, and yet it is remarkable what a large number of current proverbs when properly understood seem like texts from the horrible scriptures of a lower world. Proverbs are commonly at the best truisms; and a truism is a dead truth, a truth that we no longer feel as true. Spring, the stars, marriage, and death are truths, and it should be the aim of all literature and philosophy to prevent their becoming truisms. But it is extraordinary to notice the large number of proverbs, enshrining the wisdom of many generations, which are really mean and materialistic axioms fighting at every point against the realisation of a higher and more liberal life. We are told, for example, that "a penny saved is a penny gained," but proverbial philosophy is silent upon the far deeper and more practical piece of wisdom that a penny spent is a penny gained. If the author of the proverb wished to express himself with true philosophical lucidity he should have said that a penny saved is a penny placed in such a position that at some remote period it may effectively be gained. This form of words would make the proverb slightly more inconvenient for the purposes of constant repetition, but this I incline to think would be an advantage. Instances might be produced ad infinitum. It is said that "little things please little minds" but there is perhaps no better test of a great mind than that it reverences little things. It is said that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and a whole sermon might be preached against the vulgarity and inhumanity of the sentiment. A flower growing untouched in a meadow, a flower, therefore, that is really a flower, is immeasurably more ours when we enjoy it as such than when we amputate it, and put it in a pot. as if it were a diseased limb. A part of the cosmic life which preserves its own divine indifference to ourselves is worth any number of cosmic slaves that we have taught to fawn upon us. A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand. Everywhere we find this same quality in proverbs, that, although they are certainly not immoral, although they may be said to contain a certain brisk diurnal morality, yet they certainly fight so far as they go against the higher and braver life.
-September 14, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"...he had his orders; he was the sentinel of God."

The great conception which lay at the back of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures was the conception that to man had been given a certain law, to champion which was his sole and simple business. ‘He hath shown thee, O man, that which is good’ is perhaps of all earthly sayings the one which has the deepest ring; it seems, as it were, too true and simple to be comprehended. The stars in their courses might fight against his honour, scientific discoveries might make the world seem more perilous and equivocal; at the turning of a stone or the splitting of a sea beast, the whole cosmic army might seem suddenly to desert to the devil. But man had in his heart a secret which would outlast these things; he had his orders; he was the sentinel of God.
-The Speaker, October 19th, 1901
The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)