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)



Saturday, December 13, 2014

"...it is not really so much a question of access to the facts, as of attitude to the facts."

It is true that, in most other cases, there was a certain limitation to the data of medieval science; but this certainly had nothing to do with medieval religion. For the data of Aristotle, and the great Greek civilisation, were in many ways more limited still. But it is not really so much a question of access to the facts, as of attitude to the facts. Most of the Schoolmen, if informed by the only informants they had that a unicorn has one horn or a salamander lives in the fire, still used it more as an illustration of logic than an incident of life. What they really said was, "If a Unicorn has one horn, two unicorns have as many horns as one cow." And that has not one inch the less a fact because the unicorn is a fable. But with Albertus in medieval times, as with Aristotle in ancient times, there did begin something like the idea of emphasising the question: "But does the unicorn only have one horn or the salamander a fire instead of a fireside?" Doubtless when the social and geographical limits of medieval life began to allow them to search the fire for salamanders or the desert for unicorns, they had to modify many of their scientific ideas. A fact which will expose them to the very proper scorn of a generation of scientists which has just discovered that Newton is nonsense, that space is limited, and that there is no such thing as an atom.
-St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox (1933)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"There is one very vile habit that the pedants have, and that is explaining to a man why he does a thing which the man himself can explain quite well- and quiet differently."

There is one very vile habit that the pedants have, and that is explaining to a man why he does a thing which the man himself can explain quite well- and quiet differently. If I go down on all-fours to find sixpence, it annoys me to be told by a passing biologist that I am really doing it because my remote ancestors were quadrupeds. I concede that he knows all about biology, or even a great deal about my ancestors; but I know he is wrong, because he does not know about the sixpence. If I climb a tree after a stray cat, I am unconvinced when a stray anthropologist tells me that I am doing it because I am essentially arboreal and barbaric. I happen to know why I am doing it; and I know it is because I am amiable and somewhat over-civilised. Scientists will talk to a man on general guess-work about things that they know no more about than about his pocket-money or his pet cat. Religion is one of them, and all the festivals and formalities that are rooted in religion. Thus a man will tell me that in keeping Christmas I am not keeping a Christian feast, but a pagan feast. This is exactly as if he told me that I was not feeling furiously angry, but only a little sad. I know how I am feeling all right; and why I am feeling it. I know this in the case of cats, sixpences, anger, and Christmas Day. When a learned man tells me that on the 25th of December I am really astronomically worshiping the sun, I answer that I am not. I am practicing a particular personal religion, the pleasures of which (right or wrong) are not in the least astronomical. If he says that the cult of Christmas and the cult of Apollo are the same, I answer that they are utterly different; and I ought to know, for I have held both of them. I believed in Apollo when I was quite little; and I believe in Christmas now that I am very, very big.

Let us not take with such smooth surrender these tenth-truths at tenth hand, such as the phrase that Christmas is pagan in origin. Let us note exactly how much it really means. It amounts, so far as our knowledge goes, solely to this- that primitive Scandinavians did hold a feast in mid-winter. What the dickens else could primitive Scandinavians do, especially in winter? That they put on the largest log in winter: do the professors expect such simple pagans to put on the largest log in summer? It amounts to this, again- that many tribes have either worshiped the sun or (more probably) compared some god or hero to the sun. Just so many a poet has compared his lady to the sun-without by any means intending that she was a Solar Myth. Thus, by talking a great deal about the solar solstice, it can be maintained that Christmas is a sort of sun-worship; to all of which the simple answer is that it feels quite different. If people profess to feel 'the spirit' behind symbols, the first thing I expect of them that they shall feel how opposite are the adoration of the sun and the following of the star
-The Spirit of Christmas (1984)

Friday, December 5, 2014

"...extending the powers of the law means something entirely different from extending the powers of the public."

People seem to forget that in a society where power goes with wealth and where wealth is in an extreme state of inequality, extending the powers of the law means something entirely different from extending the powers of the public. They seem to forget that there is a great deal of difference between what laws define and what laws do. A poor woman in a poor public-house was broken with a ruinous fine for giving a child a sip of shandy-gaff. Nobody supposed that the law verbally stigmatised the action for being done by a poor person in a poor public-house. But most certainly nobody will dare to pretend that a rich man giving a boy a sip of champagne would have been punished so heavily--or punished at all.
-Divorce Versus Democracy (1916)

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