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)


"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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"The question of miracles is not one of physical science; it is obviously, by its nature, purely one of philosophical belief."

The question of miracles is not one of physical science; it is obviously, by its nature, purely one of philosophical belief. There can be no such thing as a proof from physical science that the order of Nature is rigid, or necessarily recurrent; for obviously, the study of things in the order can prove nothing about whether there is anything out of the order. A man who says that he has learnt from science that water cannot be changed into wine might just as well say that he had learnt from Blackstone's commentaries on the Laws of England that a burglary cannot occur in Fulham. The mere repetition of anything cannot prove, however incessant, that the repetition is destined to go on. Only if we know the reason of the repetition can we know that.
-October 8, 1904, Daily News

Friday, April 21, 2017

"It was never allowed to be enough of a success to be properly called a failure."

[Chesterton, writing in the aftermath of WWI, but which seems applicable in a large degree a century later as well, and something for the Church to keep in mind...]

[...] any good movement will do most good not by embracing the world, but by attacking the world. If it is to end by converting everybody, it must not begin by including everybody.

The modern world was not made by its religion, but rather in spite of its religion. Religion has produced evils of its own; but the special evils which we now suffer began with its breakdown. Nor do I mean religion merely in an ideal, but strictly in a historical sense. The cruel competition of classes went with the abandonment of charity- not merely of the primitive theory of charity, but of the medieval practice of charity. The colossal evil of cosmopolitan finance came with a new toleration of usury. The Prussian superman, the supreme product of modern immoralism, arose through a denial not merely of the mystical humility of Christian saints, but of the ordinary modesty of Christian men. The wickedness that led up to the war may be called, if anyone likes to put it so, the failure of Christianity. But it was it's failure to rule, not its failure to rule well. It was never allowed to be enough of a success to be properly called a failure. All the actual causes- Colonial expansion, scientific warfare, industrial development, racial theories, even journalism- were all things which the modern mind has made in its reaction from the old religion [...] It has not made modernity- it has not that on its conscience. Its only spiritual justification, and its obvious social strategy, is to attack modernity. It ought to show, as it really could show, that social evils have not come from its presence, but rather from its absence. So far from insisting on its power, it ought rather to insist on its impotence. So far from claiming to be obeyed, it ought to claim to have been disobeyed. So far from assuming indefinite numbers of men as belonging to it, it ought to note the enormous numbers of men who fail by not belonging to it. In short, to recur to the original text, it ought not to be content with all the people who will consent or condescend to call themselves something. It ought to lead them into the way of truth. For any movement to do this, of course, is it necessary for it to have a truth to lead them to.
-July 12, 1919, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Inspector Morse

I know nothing about this series, but....
“Endeavour”:This series has a long literary bloodline. It’s based on the Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter, an Oxford classics scholar who, after moving into a career in educational testing, decided to entertain himself on a rainy day by writing novels.
Too bad for Oxford classics students, too good for the rest of us. Dexter’s Morse is an Oxford-educated detective with a love of beer and opera and a massive disdain for snooty and murderous professors.

Dexter’s novels turned into 33 Inspector Morse episodes, starring the great British actor John Thaw as Morse. Kevin Whately played his blue-collar Yorkshire sidekick Robbie Lewis. Then Morse died, both in the books and in the series, and an Inspector Lewis series was launched, also starring Whately and Laurence Fox as Lewis’ young, Cambridge-educated (here’s mud in your eye!) counterpart. That series is still going on KCTS 9 and through streaming services, and available through checkout at the libraries.

Still with me? Good. The series “Endeavour” goes back to Morse’s youth, as the incomparably dishy Shaun Evans plays the young Morse. All these shows feature complicated plots, atmospheric Oxford settings, terrible crimes and a gorgeous soundtrack by the composer Barrington Pheloung, who has hung on through all three series. Fun inside fact: the young Morse’s boss Fred Thursday is named after the book “The Man Who Was Thursday” by G.K. Chesterton, the creator of “Father Brown.”


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"How to Help Our Fellows"

[Excerpts from an article called "How to Help Our Fellows" which was republished in the Kalgoorlie Miner, January 29, 1907]

If we want to help our fellows, there is one broad necessity which seems to come before anything else, and that is that we should recognise that they are our fellows. This is not recognised in the modern world; probably on the whole it is less recognised than it has ever been before; probably it is less recognised than it was in many slave holding States. That I recognise a man is my fellow does not mean that I recognise that he is to be pitied, or that his condition should be improved for the sake of posterity, or that in my particular politics it is arranged that he shall have a vote. It means that I have fellowship with him. It means that I can say to him naturally and with social sincerity "my dear fellow." Pity is not fellowship. Philanthropy is not fellowship. Social reform is not fellowship. I pity a wounded rabbit; but I have no fellowship with him. I should like to improve a mad elephant, but I am not so hypocritical as to pretend that I wish to drink and sing and talk through the night and tell all my secrets to a mad elephant. I feel philanthropic towards a wounded worm, but I never feel an impulse to slap him on the back and say "my dear fellow." Now the trouble with the whole modern world is that this fundamental faculty of fellowship, of being able to live with all kinds of men, and talk with all kinds of men, has probably never been at a lower ebb than it is to-day. It is quite possible that there is more compassion than there ever was. It is quite certain that there is less fellowship than there ever was. [...]

Before all discussion, therefore, on the right way of thinking about the poor, this is the first thing to be registered; that we are thinking about the poor. In a real democracy it would be the poor who would be thinking about us. That scientific solemnity with which we speak of the poor; that air of an abstract argument which is not likely to be interrupted; that secure and placid discussion of the poor  [...] all this means first and last, the entire absence of fellowship.[...]

Now public institutions are very righteous things upon this assumption always, that they are really public. The trouble with most of these things in the modern world is that they are not in the proper sense public: they do not represent the whole or the great preponderance of the community [...] And it must be remembered that the case is definitely worse than it was in times less formally democratic. Then the leaders of the people may have had an unjust preponderance, but they were leaders of the people in so far that they were like the people. The populace may have had a small part to play compared with the aristocrats, but what part they played was sincerely and spontaneously with the aristocrats. But the life and energy in our modern institutes is all definitely against the actual popular feeling.[...]

 I am not saying that [the poor man] is right, but I am saying that it is highly undemocratic to assume that he is wrong. And the modern world does assume that he is wrong; it assumes that he is wrong because he is ignorant. That is, it assumes that he is wrong because he is poor. That is, it assumes that he is wrong because he is the majority of mankind.

Therefore, while I, like everybody else, have my own notions of an ideal society, and what I should do for the poor, I am quite convinced that the first step of all is to cultivate fellowship, not as a political but as a psychological condition. Let the modern world get over its present violent and inexpugnable prejudice against all the opinions of the poor [...] let us take these views as the serious opinions of our fellows, of those who are our equals in essentials, our inferiors in certain forms of study, our superiors in many forms of experience. Let us consider whether it is really only they who are ignorant of science [...] Let us in a word, if we wish to do good to our fellows, cultivate intellectual fellowship, or if we cannot do this there is one further piece of advice I can offer. Let you and I and the rest of the idealistic middle-class suddenly stop talking. And in the awful silence which follows let us listen to what the charwoman in the Walworth-road really has to say.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Common sense and the higher mysteries lie very close together. It is the fact that they are frequently and even continually absent simultaneously from the same person.
-quoted in The Newsletter: An Australian Paper for Australian People June 11, 1904

Friday, April 7, 2017

[..] the modern editor regards himself far too much as a kind of original artist, who can select and suppress facts with the arbitrary ease of a poet or a caricaturist. He "makes up" the paper as man "makes up" a fairy tale, he considers his newspapers solely as a work of art, meant to give pleasure, not to give news.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A nice article concerning Chesterton's lectures at Notre Dame (including his experience of Notre Dame football)
October 1930 marked a big event on the Notre Dame campus: the opening of the new football stadium. Knute Rockne gave a speech. A Navy admiral gave a speech. The University president, Rev. Charles O’Donnell, CSC, gave a speech and told the emotional story about George Gipp.
Then a special guest was introduced, and an uproarious standing ovation welcomed G.K. Chesterton, who had just arrived from England and had never seen a football game. According to one report, thousands of “lusty voices shouted the name of one of the world’s leading literary lights.” The University considered it a good omen.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

St. Therse of Lisieux and the grandmother of Hilaire Belloc

This is an unusual post for this blog, insofar as it does not deal directly with Chesterton. However, it *does* deal with the other half of the "Chesterbelloc", and therefore for that reason still seems appropriate for this blog....

In any case, I don't know if this is something that is common knowledge (and I was just ignorant of it), or if perhaps I am making a mistake in my reasoning, but it appears that St. Therese of Lisieux was greatly affected by a story in a book put together by the grandmother of Hilaire Belloc


While reading through The Letters of St. Therese the other night, I came across a letter that her sister Pauline wrote to her when St. Therese was 12 years old (LC 41), in which in one part she wrote "If you see again the luminous trail on the waves of the sea, think of times past, of your old teacher, of Grandmother's Tirelire.." A footnote at this point in my volume states:
La Tirelire aux histoires by S.W. Belloc. One of the stories, entitled "The Golden Trail," was filled with memories for Pauline and Therese; see MS. A, pp. 48-49 [...]
There is one part in St. Therese's Story of a Soul  where Therese writes:
In the evening at that moment when the sun seems to bathe itself in the immensity of the waves, leaving a luminous trail behind, I went and sat down on the huge rock with Pauline. Then I recalled the touching story of the “Golden Trail.” I contemplated this luminous trail for a long time. It was to me the image of God’s grace shedding its light across the path the little white-sailed vessel had to travel. And near Pauline, I made the resolution never to wander far away from the glance of Jesus in order to travel peacefully toward the eternal shore!

Anyway, as you can imagine, the name "Belloc" in the footnote above caught my attention. So I did some Googling, and came across a footnote in an edition of The Story of a Soul on Google Books concerning this passage stating:
This story appears in a collection of readings called La Tirelire aux histoires by Madame Louise Belloc [...]

Doing some more Googling, I also came across this page:


Now, I don't know French, but...:
Titre La tirelire aux histoires. Lectures choisies / par Mme Louise Sw-Belloc...
Type document Livre
Auteur principal Belloc , Louise Swanton
It appears to me that "Mme Louise Sw-Belloc" is the same as "Louise Swanton Belloc".

And, of course, Louise Swanton Belloc, was the grandmother of Hilaire Belloc.


So the story that had such memories for St. Therese of Lisieux was from a book by Hilaire Belloc's grandmother!

Either that, or I made some mistake in my reasoning above (which is quite possible, I realize! lol.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"The whole point of education is that it should give a man abstract and eternal standards, by which he can judge material and fugitive conditions."

The whole point of education is that it should give a man abstract and eternal standards, by which he can judge material and fugitive conditions. If the citizen is to be a reformer, he must start with some ideal which he does not obtain merely by gazing reverently at the unreformed institutions. And if any one asks, as so many are asking: "What is the use of my son learning all about ancient Athens and remote China and medieval guilds and monasteries, and all sorts of dead or distant things, when he is going to be a superior scientific plumber in Pimlico?" the answer is obvious enough. "The use of it is that he may have some power of comparison, which will not only prevent him from supposing that Pimlico covers the whole planet, but also enable him, while doing full credit to the beauties and virtues of Pimlico, to point out that, here and there, as revealed by alternative experiments, even Pimlico may conceal somewhere a defect."
All is Grist (1931)
(H/T G.K. Chesterton Facebook page)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him whether he is the surplus population, or if he is not, how he knows he is not."

Scrooge is not only as modern as Gradgrind but more modern than Gradgrind. He belongs not only to the hard times of the middle of the nineteenth century, but to the harder times of the beginning of the twentieth century; the yet harder times in which we live. Many amiable sociologists will say, as he said, 'Let them die and decrease the surplus population.' The improved proposal is that they should die before they are born.

It is notable also that Dickens gives the right reply; and that with a deadly directness worthy of a much older and more subtle controversialist. The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him whether he is the surplus population, or if he is not, how he knows he is not. That is the answer which the Spirit of Christmas gives to Scrooge; and there is more than one fine element of irony involved in it. There is this very mordant moral truth, among others; that Scrooge is exactly the sort of man who would talk of the superfluous poor as of something dim and distant; and yet he is also exactly the kind of man whom others might regard as sufficiently dim,not to say dingy, to be himself superfluous. There is something of a higher sarcasm, even than that to be read on the surface, in the image of that wretched little rag of a man so confident that the rags and refuse of humanity can be safely swept away and burned; in the miser who himself looks so like a pauper, confidently ordering a massacre of paupers.
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"To the Catholic every other daily act is dramatic dedication to the service of good or of evil."

When I wrote a little volume on my friend Mr. Bernard Shaw, it is needless to say that he reviewed it. I naturally felt tempted to answer and to criticise the book from the same disinterested and impartial standpoint from which Mr. Shaw had criticised the subject of it. I was not withheld by any feeling that the joke was getting a little obvious; for an obvious joke is only a successful joke; it is only the unsuccessful clowns who comfort themselves with being subtle. The real reason why I did not answer Mr. Shaw's amusing attack was this: that one simple phrase in it surrendered to me all that I have ever wanted, or could want from him to all eternity. I told Mr. Shaw (in substance) that he was a charming and clever fellow, but a common Calvinist. He admitted that this was true, and there (so far as I am concerned) is an end of the matter. He said that, of course, Calvin was quite right in holding that "if once a man is born it is too late to damn or save him." That is the fundamental and subterranean secret; that is the last lie in hell.

The difference between Puritanism and Catholicism is not about whether some priestly word or gesture is significant and sacred. It is about whether any word or gesture is significant and sacred. To the Catholic every other daily act is dramatic dedication to the service of good or of evil. To the Calvinist no act can have that sort of solemnity, because the person doing it has been dedicated from eternity, and is merely filling up his time until the crack of doom. The difference is something subtler than plum-puddings or private theatricals; the difference is that to a Christian of my kind this short earthly life is intensely thrilling and precious; to a Calvinist like Mr. Shaw it is confessedly automatic and uninteresting. To me these threescore years and ten are the battle. To the Fabian Calvinist (by his own confession) they are only a long procession of the victors in laurels and the vanquished in chains. To me earthly life is the drama; to him it is the epilogue. Shavians think about the embryo; Spiritualists about the ghost; Christians about the man. It is as well to have these things clear.

[...] These essential Calvinists have, indeed, abolished some of the more liberal and universal parts of Calvinism, such as the belief in an intellectual design or an everlasting happiness. But though Mr. Shaw and his friends admit it is a superstition that a man is judged after death, they stick to their central doctrine, that he is judged before he is born.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Monday, March 13, 2017

[... ] the new philosophies and new religions and new social systems cannot draw up their own plans for emancipating mankind without still further enslaving mankind. They cannot carry out even what they regard as the most ordinary reforms without instantly imposing the most extraordinary restrictions.
-Avowals and Denials (1935)