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)

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"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

All little boys, it may be noticed, like to possess a stick more almost than any other object, and in this, as in most things, little boys are very subtle sages. The stick is an abstraction; it is the straight line of Euclid; it is the primary principle of rigidity and direction. The stick is the backbone of the other structures; of the gun, the umbrella, the telescope, the spade, and the spear. Now the child, wishing for liberty and variety, wisely avoids realism, and clings to abstraction. If you have a telescope you cannot (without a violent effort) think it an umbrella. It were idle to look through a spade to find any of the emotions of a telescope. But if you have the plain bar or rod that is the rudimentary shape of all of them you can (if you are young enough) feel as if you possessed them all, and could take each of them in turn off its hook. A stick is a whole tool-box and a whole armoury. Nay, a stick is sometimes a stable. You can call it a horse and bestride it, and ride along country roads with the most mettlesome leaps and caracoles. I propose to do so in a few minutes.
-October 23, 1909, Daily News
Again, the other chief accusation against Dickens was that his characters and their actions were exaggerated and impossible. But this only meant that they were exaggerated and impossible as compared with the modern world and with certain writers (like Thackeray or Trollope) who were making a very exact copy of the manners of the modern world. Some people, oddly enough, have suggested that Dickens has suffered or will suffer from the change of manners. Surely this is irrational. It is not the creators of the impossible who will suffer from the process of time: Mr. Bunsby can never be any more impossible than he was when Dickens made him. The writers who will obviously suffer from time will be the careful and realistic writers, the writers who have observed every detail of the fashion of this world which passeth away. It is surely obvious that there is nothing so fragile as a fact, that a fact flies away quicker than a fancy. A fancy will endure for two thousand years. For instance, we all have fancy for an entirely fearless man, a hero; and the Achilles of Homer still remains. But exactly the thing we do not know about Achilles is how far he was possible. The realistic narrators of the time are all forgotten (thank God), so we cannot tell whether Homer slightly exaggerated or wildly exaggerated or did not exaggerate at all, the personal activity of a Mycen├Žan captain in battle; for the fancy has survived the facts. So the fancy of Podsnap may survive the facts of English commerce: and no one will know whether Podsnap was possible, but only know that he is desirable, like Achilles.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Monday, February 20, 2017

It is is bosh to declare (or, rather, lifelessly to repeat) that schools of thought must be held sacred because good people belong to them [...] If truth is a good thing, I suppose error is a bad one; and if large numbers of nice people are held captive by error that is all the more reason for destroying the error and setting them free. The hero of a fairy tale would not hesitate to deliver a hundred princesses from an enchanter merely because they were very thoroughly enchanted.
-March 26, 1910, Daily News

Thursday, February 16, 2017

For [Dickens] to be involved in a calamity only meant to be cast for the first part in a tragedy.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Patriotism begins the praise of the world at the nearest thing, instead of beginning it at the most distant,.."

The fundamental spiritual advantage of patriotism and such sentiments is this: that by means of it all things are loved adequately, because all things are loved individually. Cosmopolitanism gives us one country, and it is good; nationalism gives us a hundred countries, and every one of them is the best. Cosmopolitanism offers a positive, patriotism a chorus of superlatives. Patriotism begins the praise of the world at the nearest thing, instead of beginning it at the most distant, and thus it insures what is, perhaps, the most essential of all earthly considerations, that nothing upon earth shall go without its due appreciation. Wherever there is a strangely-shaped mountain upon some lonely island, wherever there is a nameless kind of fruit growing in some obscure forest, patriotism insures that this shall not go into darkness without being remembered in a song.
-From the essay "The Patriotic Idea"(contributed to the book England: A Nation, 1904)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"For many would say that marriage is an ideal..."

For many would say that marriage is an ideal as some would say that monasticism is an ideal, in the sense of a counsel of perfection. Now certainly we might preserve a conjugal ideal in this way. A man might be reverently pointed out in the street as a sort of saint, merely because he was married. A man might wear a medal for monogamy; or have letters after his name similar to V.C. or D.D.; let us say L.W. for "Lives With His Wife," or N.D.Y. for "Not Divorced Yet."

I take it, however, that the advocates of divorce do not mean that marriage is to remain ideal only in the sense of being almost impossible. They do not mean that a faithful husband is only to be admired as a fanatic. The reasonable men among them do really mean that a divorced person shall be tolerated as something unusually unfortunate, not merely that a married person shall be admired as some thing unusually blessed and inspired. But whatever they desire, it is as well that they should realise exactly what they do; and in this case I should like to hear their criticisms in the matter of what they see. They must surely see that [...] the new liberty is being taken in the spirit of licence as if the exception were to be the rule, or, rather, perhaps the absence of rule. This will especially be made manifest if we consider that the effect of the process is accumulative like a snowball, and returns on itself like a snowball.
The Superstition of Divorce (1920)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Anarchy cannot last, but anarchic communities cannot last either. Mere lawlessness cannot live, but it can destroy life. The nations of the earth always return to sanity and solidarity; but the nations which return to it first are the nations which survive.
The Superstition of Divorce (1920)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The redemption of reason in this modern age presents many difficulties, mainly because men have abandoned their belief in first principles. Not having principles on which to agree at the outset, our men of letters lack a common ground of argument. And so, in our popular controversies and debates we find, instead of calm, logical thought, merely abuse and ridicule and unreason.
-Troy (NY) Times, "December 4, 1930
H/T to the American Chesterton Society

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

[...] the chief difficulty with the contemporary world is that so many people are adopting very obvious and facile ideals in order that they may be very easily and obviously attained. And out of this arises [...] an even subtler and more poisonous delusion. We not only think that because the ideals are so easy to attain that they must be right; but we think that because the ideals are so easy to attain, we must have attained them. We think this even when, easy as the ideals may be, we have not. [...] It is not very easy to persuade ourselves that we do passionately and directly love all our fellow-men. But it is very easy to persuade ourselves that we are broad-minded, and have no bigotry, and of that, consequently, we do persuade ourselves.
-Daily News, August 6, 1904

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A horse is a horse, of course, of course...

I have some friends who love horses who will appreciate this passage, I'm sure. Coincidentally, GKC's father, Edward Chesterton (1841-1922) was known as..."Mister Ed"  :-) 
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George Wyndham once told me that he had seen one of the first aeroplanes rise for the first time and it was very wonderful but not so wonderful as a horse allowing a man to ride on him. Somebody else has said that a fine man on a fine horse is the noblest bodily object in the world. Now, so long as people feel this in the right way, all is well. The first and best way of appreciating it is to come of people with a tradition of treating animals properly; of men in the right relation to horses. A boy who remembers his father who rode a horse, who rode it well and treated it well, will know that the relation can be satisfactory and will be satisfied. He will be all the more indignant at the ill-treatment of horses because he knows how they ought to be treated; but he will see nothing but what is normal in a man riding on a horse. He will not listen to the great modern philosopher who explains to him that the horse ought to be riding on the man. He will not pursue the pessimist fancy of Swift and say that men must be despised as monkeys and horses worshipped as gods. And horse and man together making an image that is to him human and civilised, it will be easy, as it were, to lift horse and man together into something heroic or symbolical; like a vision of St. George in the clouds. The fable of the winged horse will not be wholly unnatural to him: and he will know why Ariosto set many a Christian hero in such an airy saddle, and made him the rider of the sky. For the horse has really been lifted up along with the man in the wildest fashion in the very word we use when we speak 'chivalry.' The very name of the horse has been given to the highest mood and moment of the man; so that we might almost say that the handsomest compliment to a man is to call him a horse.

 But if a man has got into a mood in which he is not able to feel this sort of wonder, then his cure must begin right at the other end. We must now suppose that he has drifted into a dull mood, in which somebody sitting on a horse means no more than somebody sitting on a chair. The wonder of which Wyndham spoke, the beauty that made the thing seem an equestrian statue, the meaning of the more chivalric horseman, may have become to him merely a convention and a bore. Perhaps they have been merely a fashion; perhaps they have gone out of fashion; perhaps they have been talked about too much or talked about in the wrong way; perhaps it was then difficult to care for horses without the horrible risk of being horsy. Anyhow, he has got into a condition when he cares no more for a horse than for a towel-horse. His grandfather's charge at Balaclava seems to him as dull and dusty as the album containing such family portraits. Such a person has not really become enlightened about the album; on the contrary, he has only become blind with the dust. But when he has reached that degree of blindness, he will not be able to look at a horse or a horseman at all until he has seen the whole thing as a thing entirely unfamiliar and almost unearthly.

Out of some dark forest under some ancient dawn there must come towards us, with lumbering yet dancing motions, one of the very queerest of the prehistoric creatures. We must see for the first time the strangely small head set on a neck not only longer but thicker than itself, as the face of a gargoyle is thrust out upon a gutter-spout, the one disproportionate crest of hair running along the ridge of that heavy neck like a beard in the wrong place; the feet, each like a solid club of horn, alone amid the feet of so many cattle; so that the true fear is to be found in showing, not the cloven, but the uncloven hoof. Nor is it mere verbal fancy to see him thus as a unique monster; for in a sense a monster means what is unique, and he is really unique. But the point is that when we thus see him as the first man saw him, we begin once more to have some imaginative sense of what it meant when the first man rode him. In such a dream he may seem ugly, but he does not seem unimpressive; and certainly that two-legged dwarf who could get on top of him will not seem unimpressive. By a longer and more erratic road we shall come back to the same marvel of the man and the horse; and the marvel will be, if possible, even more marvellous. We shall have again a glimpse of St. George; the more glorious because St. George is not riding on the horse, but rather riding on the dragon.

In this example, which I have taken merely because it is an example, it will be noted that I do not say that the nightmare seen by the first man of the forest is either more true or more wonderful than the normal mare of the stable seen by the civilised person who can appreciate what is normal. Of the two extremes, I think on the whole that the traditional grasp of truth is the better. But I say that the truth is found at one or other of these two extremes, and is lost in the intermediate condition of mere fatigue and forgetfulness of tradition. In other words, I say it is better to see a horse as a monster than to see it only as a slow substitute for a motor-car. If we have got into that state of mind about a horse as something stale, it is far better to be frightened of a horse because it is a good deal too fresh.
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"I remember reading G.K. Chesterton...." -Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza, this past year inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, and who holds the record for most career home runs by a catcher, reads GKC. :-)
Piazza credits his mother with giving him the gift of faith that has carried him throughout his life.

“My mother was such an influence on me,” he explained. “When I was in minor league baseball, there were times before the internet when we’d have to find churches in the Yellow Pages and look for Mass times, and I’d grab a friend on Sunday and go to Mass. If we had a day game, we’d to Mass Sunday evening.

 “I find it’s easy to talk about faith when it’s true and that’s how it’s been in my life. I know it’s a different time today, but I have no worries. I remember reading (Catholic philosopher and apologist) G.K. Chesterton and there was this whole movement of Atheism in the ‘20s and ‘30s. I mean, it comes and goes. But the rock that is the Church will always be there. So I feel confident. I’m parking my car here.”
http://www.cny.org/stories/Mike-Piazza-Says-He-Will-Always-Park-His-Car-at-Church,14669

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The only real object of all education is to teach people the proportion of things, that they may see what things are large and what small; we seem bent on teaching to prefer in everything what is small to what is great, what is doubtful to what is certain, and what is trivial to what is eternal.
-August 24, 1912, Illustrated London News