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.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

"When we see the Old Year out, we do what many eminent men have done, and what all men desire to do; we die temporarily."

New Years and such things are extraordinarily valuable. They are arbitrary divisions of time; they are a sudden and ceaseless cutting in two of time. But when we have an endless serpent in front of us, what can we do but cut it in two? Time is apparently endless, and it is beyond all question a serpent. The real reason why times and seasons and feasts and anniversaries arose is because this serpent of time would otherwise drag his slow length along over all our impressions, and there would be no opportunity of sharply realising the change from one impression to another. So far from interruptions being in their nature bad for our aesthetic feelings, an interruption is in its nature good. It would be an exceedingly good thing if we had the dread of such an interruption constantly before us when we enjoy anything. It would be good if we expected a bell to ring towards the end of a sunset. It would be good if we thought the clock might strike while we were in the perfect pleasure of staring at sea and sky. Such a sudden check would bring all our impressions into an intense and enjoyable compass, would make the vast sky a single sapphire, the vast sea a single emerald. After long experience of the glories of sensation men find that it is necessary to put to our feelings this perfect artistic limit. And after a little longer experience they find that the God in whom they hardly believe has, as the perfect artist, put the perfect artistic limit- death.

Death is a time limit; but differs in many ways from New Year's Day. The divisions of time which men have adopted are in a sort of way a mild mortality. When we see the Old Year out, we do what many eminent men have done, and what all men desire to do; we die temporarily. Whenever we admit that it is Tuesday we fulfil St. Paul, and die daily. I doubt if the strongest stoic that ever existed on earth could endure the idea of Tuesday following on a Tuesday, and a Tuesday on that, and a Tuesday on that, and all the days being Tuesdays till the Day of Judgment, which might be (by some strange and special mercy) a Wednesday.

-"January One" (Daily News, 1904)

Found in Lunacy and Letters (collection of essays published in 1958

Friday, December 30, 2011

"...until we love a thing in all its ugliness we cannot make it beautiful"

There is written, with all the authority of a human scripture, the eternal and essential truth that until we love a thing in all its ugliness we cannot make it beautiful. This was the weak point in William Morris as a reformer: that he sought to reform modern life, and that he hated modern life instead of loving it. Modern London is indeed a beast, big enough and black enough to be the beast in Apocalypse, blazing with a million eyes, and roaring with a million voices. But unless the poet can love this fabulous monster as he is, can feel with some generous excitement his massive and mysterious 'joie-de-vivre,' the vast scale of his iron anatomy and the beating of his thunderous heart, he cannot and will not change the beast into the fairy prince.

-Twelve Types (1902)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tyranny

The fanatics of the past are sometimes blamed because they played the tyrant while appealing to eternal truth. But it is far more intolerable to play the tyrant while not appealing to eternal truth...And that is the tone of nearly all the tentative repressions and remonstrances of our time.

-Come To Think of It (1930)

Passage from Manalive

Usually I post from GKC's non-fiction, but today I just wanted to post a passage that I like from my second favorite novel by GKC. :-)

"Mary, Mary," cried Rosamund, almost breaking down, "I'm so sorry about it, but the thing can't be at all. We -- we have found out all about Mr. Smith."

"All?" repeated Mary, with a low and curious intonation; "why, that must be awfully exciting."

There was no noise for an instant and no motion except that the silent Michael Moon, leaning on the gate, lifted his head, as it might be to listen. Then Rosamund remaining speechless, Dr. Pym came to her rescue in a definite way.

"To begin with," he said, "this man Smith is constantly attempting murder. The Warden of Brakespeare College --"

"I know," said Mary, with a vague but radiant smile. "Innocent told me."

"I can't say what he told you," replied Pym quickly, "but I'm very much afraid it wasn't true. The plain truth is that the man's stained with every known human crime. I assure you I have all the documents. I have evidence of his committing burglary, signed by a most eminent English curate. I have --"

"Oh, but there were two curates," cried Mary, with a certain gentle eagerness; "that was what made it so much funnier."

The darkened glass doors of the house opened once more, and Inglewood appeared for an instant, making a sort of signal. The American doctor bowed, the English doctor did not, but they both set out stolidly towards the house. No one else moved, not even Michael hanging on the gate; but the back of his head and shoulders had still an indescribable indication that he was listening to every word.

"But don't you understand, Mary," cried Rosamund in despair; "don't you know that awful things have happened even before our very eyes. I should have thought you would have heard the revolver shots upstairs."

"Yes, I heard the shots," said Mary almost brightly; "but I was busy packing just then. And Innocent had told me he was going to shoot at Dr. Warner; so it wasn't worth while to come down."

"Oh, I don't understand what you mean," cried Rosamund Hunt, stamping, "but you must and shall understand what I mean. I don't care how cruelly I put it, if only I can save you. I mean that your Innocent Smith is the most awfully wicked man in the world. He has sent bullets at lots of other men and gone off in cabs with lots of other women. And he seems to have killed the women too, for nobody can find them."

"He is really rather naughty sometimes," said Mary Gray, laughing softly as she buttoned her old gray gloves."

-Manalive (1912)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

J.R.R. Tolkien and GKC

From Kevin Belmonte's biography Defiant Joy:

In one of his most famous essays, "On Fairy Stories," Tolkien himself described portions of Chesterton's study of Dickens that met with his approval. "We need recovery," Tokien observed.

We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, dogs, and horses- and wolves. This recovery fairy-stories help us to make...

Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a re-gaining- regaining of a clear view. I do not say "seeing things as they are" and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say "seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them"- as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity- from possessiveness...This triteness is really the penalty of "appropriation": the things that are tried, or (in a bad sense) familiar, are the things that we have appropriated, legally or mentally. We say we know them. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.

Of course, fairy-stories are not the only means of recovery, or prophylactic against loss. Humility is enough. And there is (especially for the humble) Mooreeffoc, or Chestertonian Fantasy. Mooreeffoc is a fantastic word, but it could be seen written up in every town in this land. It is Coffee-room, viewed from the inside through a glass door, as it was seen by Dickens on a dark London day; and it was used by Chesterton to denote the queerness of things that have become trite, when they are seen suddenly from a new angle. That kind of "fantasy" most people would allow to be wholesone enough; and it can never lack for material.
-Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton, Kevin Belmonte, pp. 102-103 (emphasis mine)

(That said, while Tolkien did indeed praise Chestertonian Fantasy, he did believe it had its limitations)
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Another interesting tidbit:
 

Sayer's revived memory revealed that Tolkien knew a number of the poems from Chesterton's The Flying Inn by heart, including "The Song of the Quoodle," "The Song against Grocers," and the famous refrain, "The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road." Tolkien was also quite fond of reciting "The Battle of Lepanto," a fact which Tolkien's daughter Priscilla confirmed. [Source]

"As long as a corpse or two turns up in the second, the third, nay even the fourth or fifth chapter, I make allowance for human weakness..."

My taste is for the sensational novel, the detective story, the story about death, robbery and secret societies; a taste which I share in common with the bulk at least of the male population of this world. There was a time in my own melodramatic boyhood when I became quite fastidious in this respect. I would look at the first chapter of any new novel as a final test of its merits. If there was a murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I read the story. If there was no murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I dismissed the story as tea-table twaddle, which it often really was. But we all lose a little of that fine edge of austerity and idealism which sharpened our spiritual standard in our youth. I have come to compromise with the tea-table and to be less insistent about the sofa. As long as a corpse or two turns up in the second, the third, nay even the fourth or fifth chapter, I make allowance for human weakness, and I ask no more. But a novel without any death in it is still to me a novel without any life in it. I admit that the very best of the tea-table novels are great art - for instance, Emma or Northanger Abbey. Sheer elemental genius can make a work of art out of anything. Michelangelo might make a statue out of mud, and Jane Austen could make a novel out of tea - that much more contemptible substance. But on the whole I think that a tale about one man killing another man is more likely to have something in it than a tale in which, all the characters are talking trivialities without any of that instant and silent presence of death which is one of the strong spiritual bonds of all mankind. I still prefer the novel in which one person does another person to death to the novel in which all the persons are feebly (and vainly) trying to get the others to come to life.

But I have another and more important quarrel about the sensational novel. There seems to be a very general idea that the romance of the tomahawk will be (or will run the risk of being) more immoral than the romance of the teapot. This I violently deny. And in this I have the support of practically all the old moral traditions of our civilization and of every civilization. High or low, good or bad, clever or stupid, a moral story almost always meant a murderous story. For the old Greeks a moral play was one full of madness and slaying. For the great medievals a moral play was one which exhibited the dancing of the devil and the open jaws of hell. For the great Protestant moralists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a moral story meant a story in which a parricide was struck by lightning or a boy was drowned for fishing on a Sunday. For the more rationalistic moralists of the eighteenth century, such as Hogarth, Richardson, and the author of Sandford and Merton, all agreed that shocking calamities could properly be indicated as the result of evil doing; that the more shocking those calamities were the more moral they were. It is only in our exhausted and agnostic age that the idea has been started that if one is moral one must not be melodramatic.

-Found in The Spice of Life and Other Essays, collection of essays published in 1964

Monday, December 26, 2011

"[Dickens] climbed towards the lower classes. He panted upwards on weary wings to reach the heaven of the poor."

...I may perhaps ask leave to examine this actual and fashionable statement, to which I have supposed [the literary critic] to have recourse -- the statement that the people like bad literature, and even like literature because it is bad. This way of stating the thing is an error, and in that error lies matter of much import to Dickens and his destiny in letters. The public does not like bad literature. The public likes a certain kind of literature and likes that kind of literature even when it is bad better than another kind of literature even when it is good. Nor is this unreasonable; for the line between different types of literature is as real as the line between tears and laughter; and to tell people who can only get bad comedy that you have some first-class tragedy is as irrational as to offer a man who is shivering over weak warm coffee a really superior sort of ice.

Ordinary people dislike the delicate modern work, not because it is good or because it is bad, but because it is not the thing that they asked for. If, for instance, you find them pent in sterile streets and hungering for adventure and a violent secrecy, and if you then give them their choice between "A Study in Scarlet," a good detective story, and "The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford," a good psychological monologue, no doubt they will prefer "A Study in Scarlet." But they will not do so because "The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford" is a very good monologue, but because it is evidently a very poor detective story...

Dickens stands first as a defiant monument of what happens when a great literary genius has a literary taste akin to that of the community. For this kinship was deep and spiritual. Dickens was not like our ordinary demagogues and journalists. Dickens did not write what the people wanted. Dickens wanted what the people wanted. And with this was connected that other fact which must never be forgotten, and which I have more than once insisted on, that Dickens and his school had a hilarious faith in democracy and thought of the service of it as a sacred priesthood. Hence there was this vital point in his popularism, that there was no condescension in it. The belief that the rabble will only read rubbish can be read between the lines of all our contemporary writers, even of those writers whose rubbish the rabble reads. Mr. Fergus Hume has no more respect for the populace than Mr. George Moore. The only difference lies between those writers who will consent to talk down to the people, and those writers who will not consent to talk down to the people. But Dickens never talked down to the people. He talked up to the people. He approached the people like a deity and poured out his riches and his blood. This is what makes the immortal bond between him and the masses of men. He had not merely produced something they could understand, but he took it seriously, and toiled and agonised to produce it. They were not only enjoying one of the best writers, they were enjoying the best he could do. His raging and sleepless nights, his wild walks in the darkness, his note-books crowded, his nerves in rags, all this extraordinary output was but a fit sacrifice to the ordinary man. He climbed towards the lower classes. He panted upwards on weary wings to reach the heaven of the poor.

-Charles Dickens (1906)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"The shepherds had found their Shepherd."

All this popular and fraternal element in the story has been rightly attached by tradition to the episode of the Shepherds; the hinds who found themselves talking face to face with the princes of heaven. But there is another aspect of the popular element as represented by the shepherds which has not perhaps been so fully developed; and which is more directly relevant here.

Men of the people, like the shepherds, men of the popular tradition, had everywhere been the makers of the mythologies...They had best understood that the soul of a landscape is a story and the soul of a story is a personality...Upon all such peasantries everywhere there was descending a dusk and twilight of disappointment, in the hour when these few men discovered what they sought. Everywhere else Arcadia was fading from the forest. Pan was dead and the shepherds were scattered like sheep. And though no man knew it, the hour was near which was to end and to fulfil all things; and though no man heard it, there was one far-off cry in an unknown tongue upon the heaving wilderness of the mountains. The shepherds had found their Shepherd.

And the thing they found was of a kind with the things they sought. The populace had been wrong in many things; but they had not been wrong in believing that holy things could have a habitation and that divinity need not disdain the limits of time and space...the place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic, it was not a place of myths allegorised or dissected or explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true. Since that hour no mythologies have been made in the world. Mythology is a search.

-The Everlasting Man (1925)

1
And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled.

2 This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David,
5 To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.
6 And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
9 And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
11 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
15 And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
16 And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
17 And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.
18 And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

I do not know if I will be posting on Christmas day, so in case I do not, let me say now...

Merry Christ Mass! :-)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The House of Christmas

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.."

Chesterton, in describing the Church:

In short, the whole world being divided about whether the stream was going slower or faster, became conscious of something vague but vast that was going against the stream. Both in fact and figure there is something deeply disturbing about this, and that for an essential reason. A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. A dead dog can be lifted on the leaping water with all the swiftness of a leaping hound; but only a live dog can swim backwards. A paper boat can ride the rising deluge with all the airy arrogance of a fairy ship, but if the fairy ship sails up stream it is really rowed by the fairies. And among the things that merely went with the tide of apparent progress and enlargement there was many a demagogue or sophist whose wild gestures were in truth as lifeless as the movement of a dead dog's limbs wavering in the eddying water; and many a philosophy uncommonly like a paper boat, of the sort that it is not difficult to knock into a cocked hat. But even the truly living and even life-giving things that went with that stream did not thereby prove that they were living or life-giving. It was this other force that was unquestionably and unaccountably alive; the mysterious and unmeasured energy that was thrusting back the river. That was felt to be like the movement of some great monster; and it was none the less clearly a living monster because most people thought it a prehistoric monster. It was none the less an unnatural, an incongruous, and to some a comic upheaval; as if the Great Sea Serpent had suddenly risen out of the Round Pond--unless we consider the Sea Serpent as more likely to live in the Serpentine. This flippant element in the fantasy must not be missed, for it was one of the clearest testimonies to the unexpected nature of the reversal. That age did really feel that a preposterous quality in prehistoric animals belonged also to historic rituals; that mitres and tiaras were like the horns or crests of antediluvian creatures; and that appealing to a Primitive Church was like dressing up as a Primitive Man.

The world is still puzzled by that movement; but most of all because it still moves. I have said something elsewhere of the rather random sort of reproaches that are still directed against it and its much greater consequences; it is enough to say here that the more such critics reproach it the less they explain it.

-The Everlasting Man (1925)

Monday, December 19, 2011

"I am ready to appear, armed with nothing but an intuition -- which is American for a guess."

"Now you two people," said Michael cheerfully, "who both think our poor friend mad, shall jolly well go into that house over there and prove him mad. What could be more powerful than the combination of Scientific Theory with Common Sense? United you stand; divided you fall. I will not be so uncivil as to suggest that Dr. Pym has no common sense; I confine myself to recording the chronological accident that he has not shown us any so far. I take the freedom of an old friend in staking my shirt that Moses has no scientific theory. Yet against this strong coalition I am ready to appear, armed with nothing but an intuition -- which is American for a guess."

-Manalive (1912)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"There is something defiant in [Christmas]...that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won."

...Christmas for us in Christendom has become one thing, and in one sense even a simple thing. But like all the truths of that tradition, it is in another sense a very complex thing. Its unique note is the simultaneous striking of many notes; of humility, of gaiety, of gratitude, of mystical fear, but also of vigilance and of drama. It is not only an occasion for the peacemakers any more than for the merry-makers; it is not only a Hindu peace conference any more than it is only a Scandinavian winter feast. There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won. All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only hangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapour from the exultant explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago. But the savour is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace. By the very nature of the story the rejoicings in the cavern were rejoicings in a fortress or an outlaw's den; properly understood it is not unduly flippant to say they were rejoicings in a dug-out. It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky. It is not only that the very horse-hoofs of Herod might in that sense have passed like thunder over the sunken head of Christ. It is also that there is in that image a true idea of an outpost, of a piercing through the rock and an entrance into an enemy territory. There is in this buried divinity an idea of undermining the world; of shaking the towers and palaces from below; even as Herod the great king felt that earthquake under him and swayed with his swaying palace.

That is perhaps the mightiest of the mysteries of the cave. It is already apparent that though men are said to have looked for hell under the earth, in this case it is rather heaven that is under the earth. And there follows in this strange story the idea of an upheaval of heaven. That is the paradox of the whole position; that henceforth the highest thing can only work from below. Royalty can only return to its own by a sort of rebellion. Indeed the Church from its beginnings, and perhaps especially in its beginnings, was not so much a principality as a revolution against the prince of the world. This sense that the world had been conquered by the great usurper, and was in his possession, has been much deplored or derided by those optimists who identify enlightenment with ease. But it was responsible for all that thrill of defiance and a beautiful danger that made the good news seem to be really both good and new. It was in truth against a huge unconscious usurpation that it raised a revolt, and originally so obscure a revolt. Olympus still occupied the sky like a motionless cloud moulded into many mighty forms; philosophy still sat in the high places and even on the thrones of the kings, when Christ was born in the cave and Christianity in the catacombs. In both cases we may remark the same paradox of revolution; the sense of something despised and of something feared. The cave in one aspect is only a hole or corner into which the outcasts are swept like rubbish; yet in the other aspect it is a hiding-place of something valuable which the tyrants are seeking like treasure. In one sense they are there because the innkeeper would not even remember them, and in another because the king can never forget them. We have already noted that this paradox appeared also in the treatment of the early Church. It was important while it was still insignificant, and certainly while it was still impotent. It was important solely because it was intolerable; and in that sense it is true to say that it was intolerable because it was intolerant. It was resented, because, in its own still and almost secret way, it had declared war. It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy all that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it. It dared to look right through it as though the gold and marble had been glass...

-The Everlasting Man (1925)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"The business world needs metaphysics--to simplify it."

Some people fear that philosophy will bore or bewilder them; because they think it is not only a string of long words, but a tangle of complicated notions. These people miss the whole point of the modern situation. These are exactly the evils that exist already; mostly for want of a philosophy. The politicians and the papers are always using long words. It is not a complete consolation that they use them wrong. The political and social relations are already hopelessly complicated. They are far more complicated than any page of medieval metaphysics; the only difference is that the medievalist could trace out the tangle and follow the complications; and the moderns cannot. The chief practical things of today, like finance and political corruption, are frightfully complicated. We are content to tolerate them because we are content to misunderstand them, not to understand them. The business world needs metaphysics--to simplify it.

-The Common Man (collection of essays first published in 1950)

Friday, December 16, 2011

"It will always give a man the strange sense of looking down at the skies."

...For indeed this is one of the real beauties of rainy weather, that while the amount of original and direct light is commonly lessened, the number of things that reflect light is unquestionably increased. There is less sunshine; but there are more shiny things; such beautifully shiny things as pools and puddles and mackintoshes. It is like moving in a world of mirrors.

And indeed this is the last and not the least gracious of the casual works of magic wrought by rain: that while it decreases light, yet it doubles it. If it dims the sky, it brightens the earth. It gives the roads (to the sympathetic eye) something of the beauty of Venice. Shallow lakes of water reiterate every detail of earth and sky; we dwell in a double universe. Sometimes walking upon bare and lustrous pavements, wet under numerous lamps, a man seems a black blot on all that golden looking-glass, and could fancy he was flying in a yellow sky. But wherever trees and towns hang head downwards in a pigmy puddle, the sense of Celestial topsy-turvydom is the same. This bright, wet, dazzling confusion of shape and shadow, of reality and reflection, will appeal strongly to any one with the transcendental instinct about this dreamy and dual life of ours. It will always give a man the strange sense of looking down at the skies.

-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"The highest and most valuable quality in Nature is not her beauty, but her generous and defiant ugliness."

There is a peculiar idea abroad that the value and fascination of what we call Nature lie in her beauty. But the fact that Nature is beautiful in the sense that a dado or a Liberty curtain is beautiful, is only one of her charms, and almost an accidental one. The highest and most valuable quality in Nature is not her beauty, but her generous and defiant ugliness. A hundred instances might be taken. The croaking noise of the rooks is, in itself, as hideous as the whole hell of sounds in a London railway tunnel. Yet it uplifts us like a trumpet with its coarse kindliness and honesty, and the lover in 'Maud' could actually persuade himself that this abominable noise resembled his lady-love's name. Has the poet, for whom Nature means only roses and lilies, ever heard a pig grunting? It is a noise that does a man good—a strong, snorting, imprisoned noise, breaking its way out of unfathomable dungeons through every possible outlet and organ. It might be the voice of the earth itself, snoring in its mighty sleep. This is the deepest, the oldest, the most wholesome and religious sense of the value of Nature—the value which comes from her immense babyishness. She is as top-heavy, as grotesque, as solemn and as happy as a child. The mood does come when we see all her shapes like shapes that a baby scrawls upon a slate—simple, rudimentary, a million years older and stronger than the whole disease that is called Art. The objects of earth and heaven seem to combine into a nursery tale, and our relation to things seems for a moment so simple that a dancing lunatic would be needed to do justice to its lucidity and levity. The tree above my head is flapping like some gigantic bird standing on one leg; the moon is like the eye of a Cyclops. And, however much my face clouds with sombre vanity, or vulgar vengeance, or contemptible contempt, the bones of my skull beneath it are laughing for ever.

-The Defendant (1901)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Democracy has its occasional victories; and even the Favourite has been known to come in first."

Don't say, "There is no true creed; for each creed believes itself right and the others wrong." Probably one of the creeds is right and the others are wrong. Diversity does show that most of the views must be wrong. It does not by the faintest logic show that they all must be wrong. I suppose there is no subject on which opinions differ with more desperate sincerity than about which horse will win the Derby. These are certainly solemn convictions; men risk ruin for them. The man who puts his shirt on Potosi must believe in that animal, and each of the other men putting their last garments upon other quadrupeds must believe in them quite as sincerely. They are all serious, and most of them are wrong. But one of them is right. One of the faiths is justified; one of the horses does win; not always even the dark horse which might stand for Agnosticism, but often the obvious and popular horse of Orthodoxy. Democracy has its occasional victories; and even the Favourite has been known to come in first. But the point here is that something comes in first. That there were many beliefs does not destroy the fact that there was one well-founded belief. I believe (merely upon authority) that the world is round. That there may be tribes who believe it to be triangular or oblong does not alter the fact that it is certainly some shape, and therefore not any other shape. Therefore I repeat, with the wail of imprecation, don't say that the variety of creeds prevents you from accepting any creed. It is an unintelligent remark.

-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Monday, December 12, 2011

"He has to soothe and quiet himself among tigers and vultures, camels and crocodiles."

If we were to-morrow morning snowed up in the street in which we live, we should step suddenly into a much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known. And it is the whole effort of the typically modern person to escape from the street in which he lives. First he invents modern hygiene and goes to Margate. Then he invents modern culture and goes to Florence. Then he invents modern imperialism and goes to Timbuctoo. He goes to the fantastic borders of the earth. He pretends to shoot tigers. He almost rides on a camel. And in all this he is still essentially fleeing from the street in which he was born; and of this flight he is always ready with his own explanation. He says he is fleeing from his street because it is dull; he is lying. He is really fleeing from his street because it is a great deal too exciting. It is exciting because it is exacting; it is exacting because it is alive. He can visit Venice because to him the Venetians are only Venetians; the people in his own street are men. He can stare at the Chinese because for him the Chinese are a passive thing to be stared at; if he stares at the old lady in the next garden, she becomes active. He is forced to flee, in short, from the too stimulating society of his equals--of free men, perverse, personal, deliberately different from himself. The street in Brixton is too glowing and overpowering. He has to soothe and quiet himself among tigers and vultures, camels and crocodiles. These creatures are indeed very different from himself. But they do not put their shape or colour or custom into a decisive intellectual competition with his own. They do not seek to destroy his principles and assert their own; the stranger monsters of the suburban street do seek to do this. The camel does not contort his features into a fine sneer because Mr. Robinson has not got a hump; the cultured gentleman at No. 5 does exhibit a sneer because Robinson has not got a dado. The vulture will not roar with laughter because a man does not fly; but the major at No. 9 will roar with laughter because a man does not smoke. The complaint we commonly have to make of our neighbours is that they will not, as we express it, mind their own business. We do not really mean that they will not mind their own business. If our neighbours did not mind their own business they would be asked abruptly for their rent, and would rapidly cease to be our neighbours. What we really mean when we say that they cannot mind their own business is something much deeper. We do not dislike them because they have so little force and fire that they cannot be interested in themselves. We dislike them because they have so much force and fire that they can be interested in us as well. What we dread about our neighbours, in short, is not the narrowness of their horizon, but their superb tendency to broaden it. And all aversions to ordinary humanity have this general character. They are not aversions to its feebleness (as is pretended), but to its energy. The misanthropes pretend that they despise humanity for its weakness. As a matter of fact, they hate it for its strength.

-Heretics (1905)

Friday, December 9, 2011

"The question for brave men is not whether a certain thing is increasing; the question is whether we are increasing it."

A correspondent has written me an able and interesting letter in the matter of some allusions of mine to the subject of communal kitchens. He defends communal kitchens very lucidly from the standpoint of the calculating collectivist; but, like many of his school, he cannot apparently grasp that there is another test of the whole matter, with which such calculation has nothing at all to do. He knows it would be cheaper if a number of us ate at the same time, so as to use the same table. So it would. It would also be cheaper if a number of us slept at different times, so as to use the same pair of trousers. But the question is not how cheap are we buying a thing, but what are we buying? It is cheap to own a slave. And it is cheaper still to be a slave.

My correspondent also says that the habit of dining out in restaurants, etc., is growing. So, I believe, is the habit of committing suicide. I do not desire to connect the two facts together. It seems fairly clear that a man could not dine at a restaurant because he had just committed suicide; and it would be extreme, perhaps, to suggest that he commits suicide because he has just dined at a restaurant. But the two cases, when put side by side, are enough to indicate the falsity and poltroonery of this eternal modern argument from what is in fashion. The question for brave men is not whether a certain thing is increasing; the question is whether we are increasing it.

-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Philanthropy, as far as I can see, is rapidly becoming the recognisable mark of a wicked man."

"Gifts of the Millionare"

The above is a link to an online article from the July 20, 1909 edition (archived obviously) of the Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, but it had originally appeared in the May 29, 1909 edition of the Illustrated London News (named in the Ignatius Press collection of such articles in GKC's collected works: "Whitewashing the Philanthropists") Here is how it begins:

Philanthropy, as far as I can see, is rapidly becoming the recognisable mark of a wicked man. We have often sneered at the superstition and cowardice of the medieval barons who thought that giving lands to the Church would wipe out the memory of their raids or robberies; but modern capitalists seem to have exactly the same notion; with this not unimportant addition, that in the case of the capitalists the memory of the robberies is really wiped out. This, after all, seems to be the chief difference between the monks who took land and gave pardons and the charity organisers who take money and give praise: the difference is that the monks wrote down in their books and chronicles, "Received three hundred acres from a bad baron"; whereas the modern experts and editors record the three hundred acres and call him a good baron.
(go to the link for the rest of the article):



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Some men never feel small; but these are the few men who are."

The doctrine of human equality reposes upon this: That there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid. That there is no big man who has not felt small. Some men never feel small; but these are the few men who are.

-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Monday, December 5, 2011

"The definition of a prig, I suppose, is this: one who has pride in the possession of his brain rather than joy in the use of it."

The definition of a prig, I suppose, is this: one who has pride in the possession of his brain rather than joy in the use of it. And the difference is exactly this, that a very small brain is enough to be proud of, even when it is not big enough either to enjoy with recklessness or to use with effect. And there is this further fact, that people with large intellects know the limits of intellect; while to people of small intellects, intellect seems unlimited and therefore divine.

-June 12, 1909, Illustrated London News

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown.
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

-The Wild Knight (1900)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vincent Price quotes GKC

Vincent Price quotes GKC before this adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" (about 2:07 into the video)



For the quote (which comes from GKC's book Charles Dickens, go here

(H/T a post on the GK Chesterton community on Facebook)

Insincere protests

From the "some things never change" department, this quote from exactly 100 years ago yesterday seems very applicable to many situations today.

For the mere desire to "make a protest," which merely means to enjoy an emotion, I have no respect whatever. The only object of telling a man to do something is to get him to do it. And if you tell him to do it when you know perfectly well that it will make him do the opposite, I will not only call your enthusiasm hysterical, I will take the liberty of calling it insincere.

-December 2, 1911, Illustrated London News

BTW, I apologize for not posting much lately...Been a little busy, but I figured I ought to update to explain why. Hope to get back to posting more soon...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Now most modern freedom is at root fear."

Now most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.

-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The test of all happiness is gratitude..."

Here I am only trying to describe the enormous emotions which cannot be described. And the strongest emotion was that life was as precious as it was puzzling. It was an ecstacy because it was an adventure; it was an adventure because it was an opportunity. The goodness of the fairy tale was not affected by the fact that there might be more dragons than princesses; it was good to be in a fairy tale. The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful, though I hardly knew to whom. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?

-Orthodoxy (1908)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"A turkey is more [secret] and awful than all the angels and archangels."

A turkey is more [secret] and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.

-All Things Considered (1908)

Chesterton influence on the 1997 movie "The Game"?

I have never seen that movie, and this is something I came across that I need to do a little more checking up on. However, this quote is interesting nonetheless:

(If you have seen "The Game," starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, that movie is based on one of the stories in the collection [The Club of Queer Trades]: "The Tremendous Adventure of Major Brown.")


http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/ut017_lowry.htm

Monday, November 21, 2011

" There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance."

One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.

-Robert Browning (1903)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"It is the root of all religion that a man knows that he is nothing to thank God that he is something."

It is the root of all religion that a man knows that he is nothing to thank God that he is something.

-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

"But I am an optimist, and I believe that evil is frequently victorious; a thought full of peace, comfort, and possibilities of human affection."

You and I, it is to be hoped, do not hold the theory that the highest and most prominent figures in Society are the highest and best specimens of the human race. We are not such desolate pessimists as all that. For certainly if the people who rule England are the best people in England, England is going to the dogs, or, rather, has already gone there. The most gloomy of all possible theories is the theory that the best man wins. We know the man who wins, and if he is the best man we can only express our feelings in the words of a vulgar music-hall song about a wedding, which ran (if I remember right)- "I was the best man, the best man, the best man; Oh! Jerusalem, you ought to have seen the worst!" If Mr. Rockefeller really rose by superior merit, America must be a kind of hell. But I am an optimist, and I believe that evil is frequently victorious; a thought full of peace, comfort, and possibilities of human affection. We can all love mankind if we remember not to judge them by their leaders. There are some who say that England has lost its last chance, has carried on just too long its shapeless compromises and its cloudy pride. I do not believe it for a moment. England is a million times stronger nation that one would fancy from merely looking at its great men. Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers; look at the faces in the street. See what a great and reasonable number of them are strong, humble faces, full of honour and hard work, faces with sad eyes and humorous mouths. There are plenty of good people about...True faith has its eye on the unsuccessful; it endures the small human output which is actually exhibited and admired; but it rejoices in the rich and dark treasures of human virtue and valour which have always been neglected. It is even slightly depressed when it thinks of the small good that we have used. But it sings for joy when it thinks of all the good that we have wasted.

-November 16, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, November 18, 2011

"A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter."

A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter.

-All I Survey (1933)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"...which amounted to asserting that because humanity had never made anything but mistakes it was now quite certain to be right."

Mrs. Browning and her husband were more liberal than most Liberals. Theirs was the hospitality of the intellect and the hospitality of the heart, which is the best definition of the term. They never fell into the habit of the idle revolutionists of supposing that the past was bad because the future was good, which amounted to asserting that because humanity had never made anything but mistakes it was now quite certain to be right. Browning possessed in a greater degree than any other man the power of realising that all conventions were only victorious revolutions. He could follow the mediƦval logicians in all their sowing of the wind and reaping of the whirlwind with all that generous ardour which is due to abstract ideas. He could study the ancients with the young eyes of the Renaissance and read a Greek grammar like a book of love lyrics. This immense and almost confounding Liberalism of Browning doubtless had some effect upon his wife. In her vision of New Italy she went back to the image of Ancient Italy like an honest and true revolutionist; for does not the very word "revolution" mean a rolling backward? All true revolutions are reversions to the natural and the normal. A revolutionist who breaks with the past is a notion fit for an idiot. For how could a man even wish for something which he had never heard of?

-Varied Types (1905)

Monday, November 14, 2011

"If a man is genuinely superior to his fellows the first thing that he believes in is the equality of man."

All very great teachers and leaders have had this habit of assuming their point of view to be one which was human and casual, one which would readily appeal to every passing man. If a man is genuinely superior to his fellows the first thing that he believes in is the equality of man. We can see this, for instance, in that strange and innocent rationality with which Christ addressed any motley crowd that happened to stand about Him. "What man of you having a hundred sheep, and losing one, would not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost?" Or, again, "What man of you if his son ask for bread will he give him a stone, or if he ask for a fish will he give him a serpent?" This plainness, this almost prosaic camaraderie, is the note of all very great minds.

To very great minds the things on which men agree are so immeasurably more important than the things on which they differ, that the latter, for all practical purposes, disappear. They have too much in them of an ancient laughter even to endure to discuss the difference between the hats of two men who were both born of a woman, or between the subtly varied cultures of two men who have both to die. The first-rate great man is equal with other men, like Shakespeare. The second-rate great man is on his knees to other men, like Whitman. The third-rate great man is superior to other men, like Whistler.

-Heretics (1905)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"But so long as grunts, snorts, curses, and cries of despair come over every garden wall we may be pretty certain that things are all right."

The right and proper thing, of course, is that every good patriot should stop at home and curse his own country. So long as that is being done everywhere, we may be sure that things are fairly happy, and being kept up to a reasonably high standard. So long as we are discontented separately we may be well content as a whole. Each man is cultivating his garden; and you cannot cultivate a garden without digging it up or without stamping it down. And these gardens of the children of men are so strange and so different that each man is probably alone in knowing even which are the flowers and which the weeds. But so long as grunts, snorts, curses, and cries of despair come over every garden wall we may be pretty certain that things are all right, that the flowers will arise in splendour and the wilderness blossom like the rose.

-October 1, 1910, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chesterton on G.F. Watts' Hope

Now let us suppose that...the spectator came before another picture. Suppose that he found himself in the presence of a dim canvas with a bowed and stricken and secretive figure cowering over a broken lyre in the twilight. What would he think ? His first thought, of course, would be that the picture was called Despair; his second (when he discovered his error in the catalogue), that it has been entered under the wrong number ; his third, that the painter was mad. But if we imagine that he overcame these preliminary feelings and that as he stared at that queer twilight picture, a dim and powerful sense of meaning began to grow upon him — what would he see ? He would see something for which there is neither speech nor language, which has been too vast for any eye to see and too secret for any religion to utter, even as an esoteric doctrine. Standing before that picture he finds himself in the presence of a great truth. He perceives that there is something in man which is always apparently on the eve of disappearing, but never disappears, an assurance which is always apparently saying farewell and yet illimitably lingers, a string which is always stretched to snapping and yet never snaps. He perceives that the queerest and most delicate thing in us, the most fragile, the most fantastic, is in truth the backbone and indestructible. He knows a great moral fact: that there never was an age of assurance, that there never was an age of faith. Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all its conquerors. The desperate modern talk about dark days and reeling altars, and the end of Gods and angels, is the oldest talk in the world: lamentations over the growth of agnosticism can be found in the monkish sermons of the dark ages ; horror at youthful impiety can be found in the Iliad. This is the thing that never deserts men and yet always, with daring diplomacy, threatens to desert them. It has indeed dwelt among and controlled all the kings and crowds, but only with the air of a pilgrim passing by. It has indeed warmed and lit men from the beginning of Eden with an unending glow, but it was the glow of an eternal sunset.

Here, in this dim picture, its trick is almost betrayed. No one can name this picture properly, but Watts who painted it, has named it Hope. But the point is that this title is not (as those think who call it " literary ") the reality behind the symbol, but another symbol for the same thing, or to speak yet more strictly, another symbol describing another part or aspect of the same complex reality. Two men felt a swift, violent, invisible thing in the world: one said the word "hope," the other painted a picture in blue and green paint. The picture is inadequate; the word "hope" is inadequate ; but between them, like two angles in the calculation of a distance, they almost locate a mystery, a mystery that for hundreds of ages has been hunted by men and evaded them. And the title is therefore not so much the substance of one of Watts' pictures, it is rather an epigram upon it. It is merely an approximate attempt to convey, by snatching up the tool of another craftsman, the direction attempted in the painter's own craft. He calls it Hope and that is perhaps the best title. It reminds us among other things of a fact which is too little remembered, that faith, hope and charity, the three mystical virtues of Christianity, are also the [happiest] of the virtues. Paganism, as I have suggested, is not [happy], but rather nobly sad ; the spirit of Watts, which is as a rule nobly sad also, here comes nearer perhaps than anywhere else to mysticism in the strict sense, the mysticism which is full of secret passion and belief, like that of Fra Angelico or Blake. But though Watts calls his tremendous reality Hope, we may call it many other things. Call it faith, call it vitality, call it the will to live, call it the religion of tomorrow morning, call it the immortality of man, call it self-love and vanity ; it is the thing that explains why man survives all things and why there is no such thing as a pessimist. It cannot be found in any dictionary or rewarded in any commonwealth : there is only one way in which it can even be noticed and recognised. If there be anywhere a man who has really lost it, his face out of a whole crowd of men will strike us like a blow. He may hang himself or become Prime Minister; it matters nothing. The man is dead.

-G.F. Watts (1904)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"It is now thought irreverent to be a believer."

[George Bernard Shaw's] latest play...has been forbidden by the Censor. As far as I can discover, it has been forbidden because one of the characters professes a belief in God and states his conviction that God has got him. This is wholesome; this is like one crack of thunder in a clear sky. Not so easily does the prince of this world forgive. Shaw's religious training and instinct is not mine, but in all honest religion there is something that is hateful to the prosperous compromise of our time. You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil; you are free to say (like poor old Renan) that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or a mystification; you may water Him down with gallons of long words, or boil Him to the rags of metaphysics; and it is not merely that nobody punishes, but nobody protests. But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one's conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can. We are long past talking about whether an unbeliever should be punished for being irreverent. It is now thought irreverent to be a believer. I end where I began: it is the old Puritan in Shaw that jars the modern world like an electric shock.

-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Monday, November 7, 2011

"For it is only on those in the struggle for existence who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn."

There is a shrewd secular truth hidden under a theological language in the old saying that man's extremity is God's opportunity. For it is only on those in the struggle for existence who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn. A man who loves his country for her power will always be as weak an adorer as a man who loves a woman for her money. A great appearance of national or imperial strength may be founded on this fair weather philosophy, but the crown of ultimate triumph and the real respect of Nature will always be reserved for the man for whom the fight is never finished, who disregards the omens and disdains the stars.

-February 2, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"If you want carelessness you must go to the martyrs."

In the character of Major Pendennis of course Thackeray did splendidly a work which wanted doing... for it vividly presents, in the person of a not unsuitable man, the fundamental truth that the worship of this world is a superstition, and has all the limitations of a superstition. Religious people speak of worldlings as [happy] and careless; but such religious people pay the worldlings far too high a compliment. Major Pendennis was not particularly [happy] ; and he certainly was the very reverse of careless. He had to walk more cautiously and seriously than the adherent of any elaborate theology. Worldliness and the worldlings are in their nature solemn and timid. If you want carelessness you must go to the martyrs.

-Introduction to Thackeray (1909)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."

Although Sir Hiram Maxim groups "truth" and "logic" together, it was not necessary that he should fail in both, nor would he, I think, have fallen into these separate disasters but for the excess of the romantic in his temperament. Logic and truth, as a matter of fact, have very little to do with each other. Logic is concerned merely with the fidelity and accuracy with which a certain process is performed, a process which can be performed with any materials, with any assumptions. You can be as logical about griffins and basilisks as about sheep and pigs. On the assumption that a man has two ears, it is good logic that three men have six ears; but on the assumption that a man has four ears it is equally good logic that three men have twelve. And the power of seeing how many ears the average man, as a fact, possesses, the power of counting a gentleman's ears accurately and without mathematical confusion is not a logical thing, but a primary and direct experience, like a physical sense, like a religious vision. The power of seeing ears may be limited by a blow on the head; it may be disturbed and even augmented by two bottles of champagne; but it cannot be affected by argument. Logic has again and again been exposed and expended most brilliantly and effectively on things that do not exist at all. There is far more logic, more sustained consistency of the mind, in the science of heraldry than in the science of biology. Heraldry has plenty of impossible creatures, but it has no unaccountable creature. It has dancing dragons and leopards made of gold; but it has no Missing Link.

Nor did this combination of logic and fantasy, of mathematical madness, die with heraldry and the labyrinthine sciences of the later Middle Ages. There are many modern things in which the spirit of the dancing dragon, who is yet a disciplined dragon, reappears. There is more logic, for instance, in "Alice in Wonderland" than in the Statute Books or the Blue Books. The relations of logic to truth depend then, not upon its perfection as logic, but upon certain pre-logical faculties and certain pre-logical discoveries, upon the possession of those faculties, upon the power of making these discoveries. If a man start with certain assumptions he may be a good logician and a good citizen, a wise man, a successful figure. If he start with certain other assumptions he may be an equally good logician and a bankrupt, a criminal, a raving lunatic. Logic, then, is not necessarily an instrument for finding truth; on the contrary, truth is necessarily an instrument for using logic, for using it, that is, for the discovery of further truth and for the profit of humanity. Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.

-February 25, 1905, Daily News, "The Maxims of Maxim"

(Found in the collection of essays In Defense of Sanity, published just this year by Ignatius Press)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"...the one perfectly divine thing, the one glimpse of God's paradise given on earth, is to fight a losing battle- and not lose it. "

You cannot understand that brave men resist a strong opponent more than a weak one...You cannot grasp him, because he is fighting a losing battle...And in your muddy souls you can't see that the one perfectly divine thing, the one glimpse of God's paradise given on earth, is to fight a losing battle- and not lose it.

-Time's Abstract and Brief Chronicle (1904-1905)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Now the mistake of critics is not that they criticise the world; it is that they never criticise themselves."

Now the mistake of critics is not that they criticise the world; it is that they never criticise themselves. They compare the alien with the ideal; but they do not at the same time compare themselves with the ideal; rather they identify themselves with the ideal.

-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Art is born when the temporary touches the eternal; the shock of beauty is when the irresistible force hits the immovable post."

All the most subtle truths of literature are to be found in legend. There is no better test of the truth of serious fiction than the simple truths to be found in a fairy tale or an old ballad. Now, in the whole of folk-lore there is no such thing as free love. There is such a thing as false love. There is also another thing, which the old ballads always talk of as true love. But the story always turns on the keeping of a bond or the breaking of it; and this quite apart from orthodox morality in the matter of the marriage bond. The love may be in the strict sense sinful, but it is never anarchical. There was quite as little freedom for Lancelot as for Arthur...It may have been unlawful love, but it certainly was not lawless love.... But there is neither triumph nor tragedy in the idea of avowedly transient love; and no literature will ever be made out of it, except the very lightest literature of satire. And even the satire must be a satire on fickleness, and therefore involve an indirect ideal of fidelity. But you cannot make any enduring literature out of love conscious that it will not endure. Even if this mutability were working as morality, it would still be unworkable as art.

The decadents used to say that things like the marriage vow might be very convenient for common-place public purposes, but had no place in the world of beauty and imagination. The truth is exactly the other way. The truth is that if marriage had not existed it would have been necessary for artists to invent it. The truth is that if constancy had never been needed as a social requirement, it would still have been created out of cloud and air as a poetical requirement. If ever monogamy is abandoned in practice, it will linger in legend and in literature. When society is haunted by the butterfly flitting from flower to flower, poetry will still be describing the desire of the moth for the star; and it will be a fixed star. Literature must always revolve round loyalties; for a rudimentary psychological reason, which is simply the nature of narrative. You cannot tell a story without the idea of pursuing a purpose and sticking to a point. You cannot tell a story without the idea of the Quest, the idea of the Vow; even if it be only the idea of the Wager.

Perhaps the most modern equivalent to the man who makes a vow is the man who makes a bet. But he must not hedge on a bet; still less must he welsh, or do a bolt when he has made a bet. Even if the story ends with his doing so, the dramatic emotion depends on our realizing the dishonesty of his doing so. That is, the drama depends on the keeping or breaking of a bond, if it be only a bet. A man wandering about a race-course, making bets that nobody took seriously, would be merely a bore. And so the hero wandering through a novel, making vows of love that nobody took seriously, is merely a bore. The point here is not so much that morally it cannot be a creditable story, but that artistically it cannot be a story at all. Art is born when the temporary touches the eternal; the shock of beauty is when the irresistible force hits the immovable post.

-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Monday, October 31, 2011

"As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is a mere flattery...it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all."

Every man, however brave, who begins by worshipping violence, must end in mere timidity. Every man, however wise, who begins by worshipping success, must end in mere mediocrity. This strange and paradoxical fate is involved, not in the individual, but in the philosophy, in the point of view. It is not the folly of the man which brings about this necessary fall; it is his wisdom. The worship of success is the only one out of all possible worships of which this is true, that its followers are foredoomed to become slaves and cowards. A man may be a hero for the sake of Mrs. Gallup's ciphers or for the sake of human sacrifice, but not for the sake of success. For obviously a man may choose to fail because he loves Mrs. Gallup or human sacrifice; but he cannot choose to fail because he loves success. When the test of triumph is men's test of everything, they never endure long enough to triumph at all. As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is a mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all. Like all the Christian virtues, it is as unreasonable as it is indispensable.

It was through this fatal paradox in the nature of things that all these modern adventurers come at last to a sort of tedium and acquiescence. They desired strength; and to them to desire strength was to admire strength; to admire strength was simply to admire the status quo. They thought that he who wished to be strong ought to respect the strong. They did not realize the obvious verity that he who wishes to be strong must despise the strong. They sought to be everything, to have the whole force of the cosmos behind them, to have an energy that would drive the stars. But they did not realize the two great facts--first, that in the attempt to be everything the first and most difficult step is to be something; second, that the moment a man is something, he is essentially defying everything. The lower animals, say the men of science, fought their way up with a blind selfishness. If this be so, the only real moral of it is that our unselfishness, if it is to triumph, must be equally blind. The mammoth did not put his head on one side and wonder whether mammoths were a little out of date. Mammoths were at least as much up to date as that individual mammoth could make them. The great elk did not say, "Cloven hoofs are very much worn now." He polished his own weapons for his own use. But in the reasoning animal there has arisen a more horrible danger, that he may fail through perceiving his own failure. When modern sociologists talk of the necessity of accommodating one's self to the trend of the time, they forget that the trend of the time at its best consists entirely of people who will not accommodate themselves to anything. At its worst it consists of many millions of frightened creatures all accommodating themselves to a trend that is not there. And that is becoming more and more the situation of modern England. Every man speaks of public opinion, and means by public opinion, public opinion minus his opinion. Every man makes his contribution negative under the erroneous impression that the next man's contribution is positive. Every man surrenders his fancy to a general tone which is itself a surrender. And over all the heartless and fatuous unity spreads this new and wearisome and platitudinous press, incapable of invention, incapable of audacity, capable only of a servility all the more contemptible because it is not even a servility to the strong. But all who begin with force and conquest will end in this.

-Heretics (1905)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"The ideal was out of date almost from the first day; that is why it is eternal; for whatever is dated is doomed."

It was never so necessary to insist that most of the really vital and valuable ideas in the world, including Christianity, would never have survived at all if they had not survived their own death, even in the sense of dying daily. The ideal was out of date almost from the first day; that is why it is eternal; for whatever is dated is doomed. As for our own society, if it proceeds at its present rate of progress and improvement, no trace or memory of it will be left at all....

...we ought not to turn away in contempt from something antiquated, but rather recognise with respect and even alarm a sort of permanent man-trap in the idea of being modern. So that the moral of this matter is the same as that of the other; that these things should raise in us, not merely the question of whether we like them, but of whether there is anything very infallible or imperishable about what we like. At least the essentials of these things endure...

-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"...the first of all democratic doctrines, that all men are interesting;"

No man encouraged his characters so much as Dickens. "I am an affectionate father," he says, "to every child of my fancy." He was not only an affectionate father, he was an over-indulgent father. The children of his fancy are spoilt children. They shake the house like heavy and shouting schoolboys; they smash the story to pieces like so much furniture. When we moderns write stories our characters are better controlled. But, alas! our characters are rather easier to control. We are in no danger from the gigantic gambols of creatures like Mantalini and Micawber. We are in no danger of giving our readers too much Weller or Wegg. We have not got it to give. When we experience the ungovernable sense of life which goes along with the old Dickens sense of liberty, we experience the best of the revolution. We are filled with the first of all democratic doctrines, that all men are interesting; Dickens tried to make some of his people appear dull people, but he could not keep them dull. He could not make a monotonous man. The bores in his books are brighter than the wits in other books.

-Charles Dickens (1906)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Tyranny is the opposite of authority."

...Some people have an instinctive itch of irritation against the word "authority." Either they suppose that authority is a pompous name for mere bullying, or else, at the best, they think that mere bullying is an excess of authority. But bullying is almost the opposite of authority. Tyranny is the opposite of authority. For authority simply means right; and nothing is authoritative except what somebody has a right to do, and therefore is right in doing. It often happens in this imperfect world that he has the right to do it and not the power to do it. But he cannot have a shred of authority if he merely has the power to do it and not the right to do it. If you think any form of mastery unjust, it is enough to say that you do not like injustice; but there is no need to say you do not like authority. For injustice, as such, cannot have any authority at all. Moreover, a man can only have authority by admitting something better than himself; and the bully does not get his claim from anybody but himself. It is not the question, therefore, of there being authority, and then tyranny, which is too much authority; for tyranny is not authority. Tyranny means too little authority; for though, of course, an individual may use wrongly the power that may go with it, he is in that act disloyal to the law of right, which should be his own authority. To abuse authority is to attack authority. A policeman is no longer a policeman when he is bribed privately to arrest an innocent man; he is a private criminal. He is not exaggerating authority; he is reducing it to nothing.

-As I Was Saying (1936)

Monday, October 24, 2011

"But rebelling against Government is dangerous, so modern people (very characteristically) prefer to rebel against theology, which is safe."

The truth is that we could all find reason for rebelling against theology every week; just as we could all find reason for rebelling against Government every week. But rebelling against Government is dangerous, so modern people (very characteristically) prefer to rebel against theology, which is safe.

-March 23, 1907, Illustrated London News

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it."

The poor can forget that social problem which we (the moderately rich) ought never to forget. Blessed are the poor; for they alone have not the poor always with them. The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it.

-All Things Considered (1908)

Friday, October 21, 2011

"The most unpractical merit of ancient piety became the most practical merit of modern investigation."

Our actual obligations to Matthew Arnold are almost beyond expression. His very faults reformed us. The chief of his services may perhaps be stated thus, that he discovered (for the modern English) the purely intellectual importance of humility. He had none of that hot humility which is the fascination of saints and good men. But he had a cold humility which he had discovered to be a mere essential of the intelligence. To see things clearly, he said, you must "get yourself out of the way." The weakness of pride lies after all in this; that oneself is a window. It can be a coloured window, if you will; but the more thickly you lay on the colours the less of a window it will be. The two things to be done with a window are to wash it and then forget it. So the truly pious have always said the two things to do personally are to cleanse and to forget oneself...

This humility, as I say, was with Arnold a mental need. He was not naturally a humble man; he might even be called a supercilious one. But he was driven to preaching humility merely as a thing to clear the head. He found the virtue which was just then being flung in the mire as fit only for nuns and slaves: and he saw that it was essential to philosophers. The most unpractical merit of ancient piety became the most practical merit of modern investigation. I repeat, he did not understand that headlong and happy humility which belongs to the more beautiful souls of the simpler ages. He did not appreciate the force (nor perhaps the humour) of St. Francis of Assisi when he called his own body "my brother the donkey." That is to say, he did not realise a certain feeling deep in all mystics in the face of the dual destiny. He did not realise their feeling (full both of fear and laughter) that the body is an animal and a very comic animal. Matthew Arnold could never have felt any part of himself to be purely comic— not even his singular whiskers. He would never, like Father Juniper, have "played see-saw to abase himself." In a word, he had little sympathy with the old ecstasies of self-effacement. But for this very reason it is all the more important that his main work was an attempt to preach some kind of self-effacement even to his own self-assertive age. He realised that the saints had even understated the case for humility. They had always said that without humility we should never see the better world to come. He realised that without humility we could not even see this world.

-Excerpt from Chesterton's Introduction to Essays Literary and Criticial by Matthew Arnold (1906)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Then for one instant I understood what is meant by the agony of being satisfied, or as we used to say, sated."

...if there is one obvious and outstanding truth of psychology it is what might be called the law of contrast. A lady who wishes to look striking in a black velvet dress does not stand against a black velvet curtain; a man painting a red figure of Mephistopheles does not paint him standing in front of a red-brick villa; and fireworks are not exhibited against a background of fire but against a background of darkness. One would have thought that that principle of the human mind was plain and obvious enough for anybody to observe it. Yet the whole of modern pleasure-seeking is missing all that it seeks because nobody will observe it. If people are to appreciate a pleasure it must be what children call a treat. It must stand out against a background of something else that is not quite so bright as itself. Otherwise we might as well try to paint in white on a whitewashed wall...Mr. Aldous Huxley remarked, in a brilliant article the other day, that those who are now pursuing pleasure are not only fleeing from boredom, but are acutely suffering from it....he confessed that he sought the rude and secluded villages where there are still what our fathers called Feasts. That is, there are still festive celebrations of particular dates and events, which people feel as exceptions and enjoy as exceptions. But men cannot even enjoy riot when the riot is the rule. The world of which I speak has come, by this time, to boasting of being lawless; but there is no fun in it, because lawlessness is the law. I happen to be a person who has no tendency at all to tedium; I can truly say that I have hardly ever been bored in my life. I have often amused myself by thinking how amusing it might be in a howling wilderness or on a desert island. The only glimpse I ever got in my life of the hell of unbearable monotony, of something I felt I would rather die than endure, was in some of those films describing the fast and fashionable life of New York. Then for one instant I understood what is meant by the agony of being satisfied, or as we used to say, sated.

-Sidelights (1932)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"For the sincere controversialist is above all things a good listener."

Genuine controversy, fair cut and thrust before a common audience, has become in our special epoch very rare. For the sincere controversialist is above all things a good listener. The really burning enthusiast never interrupts; he listens to the enemy's arguments as eagerly as a spy would listen to the enemy's arrangements. But if you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will find that no medium is admitted between violence and evasion. You will have no answer except slanging or silence. A modern editor must not have that eager ear that goes with the honest tongue. He may be deaf and silent; and that is called dignity. Or he may be deaf and noisy; and that is called slashing journalism. In neither case is there any controversy; for the whole object of modern party combatants is to charge out of earshot.

-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"...the chief idea of my life...is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted."

...they specially affected one idea; which I hope it is not pompous to call the chief idea of my life; I will not say the doctrine I have always taught, but the doctrine I should always have liked to teach. That is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted....

...The thing that I was trying to say then is the same thing that I am trying to say now; and even the deepest revolution of religion has only confirmed me in the desire to say it. For indeed, I never saw the two sides of this single truth stated together anywhere, until I happened to open the Penny Catechism and read the words, "The two sins against Hope are presumption and despair."

I began in my boyhood to grope for it from quite the other end; the end of the earth most remote from purely supernatural hopes. But even about the dimmest earthly hope, or the smallest earthly happiness, I had from the first an almost violently vivid sense of those two dangers; the sense that the experience must not be spoilt by presumption or despair. To take a convenient tag out of my first juvenile book of rhymes, I asked through what incarnations or prenatal purgatories I must have passed, to earn the reward of looking at a dandelion....since I have owned a garden (for I cannot say since I have been a gardener) I have realised better than I did that there really is a case against weeds. But in substance what I said about the dandelion is exactly what I should say about the sunflower or the sun, or the glory which (as the poet said) is brighter than the sun. The only way to enjoy even a weed is to feel unworthy even of a weed. Now there are two ways of complaining of the weed or the flower; and one was the fashion in my youth and another is the fashion in my later days; but they are not only both wrong, but both wrong because the same thing is right. The pessimists of my boyhood, when confronted with the dandelion, said with Swinburne:

I am weary of all hours
Blown buds and barren flowers
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

And at this I cursed them and kicked at them and made an exhibition of myself; having made myself the champion of the Lion's Tooth, with a dandelion rampant on my crest. But there is a way of despising the dandelion which is not that of the dreary pessimist, but of the more offensive optimist. It can be done in various ways; one of which is saying, "You can get much better dandelions at Selfridge's," or "You can get much cheaper dandelions at Woolworth's." Another way is to observe with a casual drawl, "Of course nobody but Gamboli in Vienna really understands dandelions," or saying that nobody would put up with the old-fashioned dandelion since the super-dandelion has been grown in the Frankfurt Palm Garden; or merely sneering at the stinginess of providing dandelions, when all the best hostesses give you an orchid for your buttonhole and a bouquet of rare exotics to take away with you. These are all methods of undervaluing the thing by comparison; for it is not familiarity but comparison that breeds contempt. And all such captious comparisons are ultimately based on the strange and staggering heresy that a human being has a right to dandelions; that in some extraordinary fashion we can demand the very pick of all the dandelions in the garden of Paradise; that we owe no thanks for them at all and need feel no wonder at them at all; and above all no wonder at being thought worthy to receive them. Instead of saying, like the old religious poet, "What is man that Thou carest for him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him?" we are to say like the discontented cabman, "What's this?" or like the bad-tempered Major in the club, "Is this a chop fit for a gentleman?" Now I not only dislike this attitude quite as much as the Swinburnian pessimistic attitude, but I think it comes to very much the same thing; to the actual loss of appetite for the chop or the dish of dandelion-tea. And the name of it is Presumption and the name of its twin brother is Despair.

-Autobiography (1936)

Monday, October 17, 2011

"...of a sane man there is only one safe definition. He is a man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head."

It cannot be too often repeated that all real democracy is an attempt (like that of a jolly hostess) to bring the shy people out. For every practical purpose of a political state, for every practical purpose of a tea-party, he that abaseth himself must be exalted. At a tea-party it is equally obvious that he that exalteth himself must be abased, if possible without bodily violence. Now people talk of democracy as being coarse and turbulent: it is a self-evident error in mere history. Aristocracy is the thing that is always coarse and turbulent: for it means appealing to the self-confident people. Democracy means appealing to the different people. Democracy means getting those people to vote who would never have the cheek to govern: and (according to Christian ethics) the precise people who ought to govern are the people who have not the cheek to do it. There is a strong example of this truth in my friend in the train. The only two types we hear of in this argument about crime and punishment are two very rare and abnormal types.

We hear of the stark sentimentalist, who talks as if there were no problem at all: as if physical kindness would cure everything: as if one need only pat Nero and stroke Ivan the Terrible. This mere belief in bodily humanitarianism is not sentimental; it is simply snobbish. For if comfort gives men virtue, the comfortable classes ought to be virtuous—which is absurd. Then, again, we do hear of the yet weaker and more watery type of sentimentalists: I mean the sentimentalist who says, with a sort of splutter, "Flog the brutes!" or who tells you with innocent obscenity "what he would do" with a certain man—always supposing the man's hands were tied.

This is the more effeminate type of the two; but both are weak and unbalanced. And it is only these two types, the sentimental humanitarian and the sentimental brutalitarian, whom one hears in the modern babel. Yet you very rarely meet either of them in a train. You never meet anyone else in a controversy. The man you meet in a train is like this man that I met: he is emotionally decent, only he is intellectually doubtful. So far from luxuriating in the loathsome things that could be "done" to criminals, he feels bitterly how much better it would be if nothing need be done. But something must be done. "I s'pose we 'ave to do it." In short, he is simply a sane man, and of a sane man there is only one safe definition. He is a man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.

-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"...Mr. Shaw is flippant because he is serious."

It is not an idle contradiction to say that Mr. Shaw is flippant because he is serious. A man like Mr. Shaw has the deliberate intention of getting people to listen to what he has to say; and therefore he must be amusing. A man who is only amusing himself need not be amusing. Generally, when he is a perfect and polished stylist, he is not. And there is a good deal of misunderstanding about the relative moral attitude of the two types; especially in connection with the old morality of modesty. Most persons, listening to these loud flippancies would say that Mr. Bernard Shaw is egotistical. Mr. Bernard Shaw himself would emphatically and violently assert that he is egotistical; and I should emphatically and violently assert that he is not. It is not the first time we have somewhat tartly disagreed. And perhaps I could not more effectively perform the just and necessary public duty of annoying Mr. Shaw than by saying (as I do say) that in this matter he really inherits an unconscious tradition of Christian humility. The preaching friar puts his sermon into popular language, the missionary fills his sermon with anecdotes and even jokes, because he is thinking of his mission and not of himself. It does not matter that Mr. Shaw's sentences so often begin with the pronoun "I." The Apostles Creed begins with the pronoun "I"; but it goes on to rather more important nouns and names.

-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Truth is regarded as treachery and a foul blow, as outside the ropes, as stabbing in the back or hitting below the belt."

We are familiar to-day with the general principle of decency which limits political attacks, and especially attacks upon leading politicians. That principle is simple enough: it is that a man may say anything whatever against a politician, however wild, so long as it is not true. Truth is regarded as treachery and a foul blow, as outside the ropes, as stabbing in the back or hitting below the belt.

-July 11, 1925, Illustrated London News

Friday, October 14, 2011

"...he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving."

[St. Francis] was above all things a great giver; and he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving. If another great man wrote a grammar of assent, he may well be said to have written a grammar of acceptance; a grammar of gratitude. He understood down to its very depths the theory of thanks; and its depths are a bottomless abyss. He knew that the praise of God stands on its strongest ground when it stands on nothing. He knew that we can best measure the towering miracle of the mere fact of existence if we realise that but for some strange mercy we should not even exist.

-St Francis of Assisi (1923)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jane Austen and GKC

Admittedly, I am not exactly someone who has read a lot of Jane Austen, to put it mildly (a shock, I know. lol. :-). But I have some friends who love her writings, and so I was curious to see if I could find any connection between her and GKC. I discovered that indeed there was.

Apparently, a collection of childhood compositions Jane Austen had written, and which had been handed down in her family, ended up being turned over for publication by Austen's great-niece, and published for the very first time in 1922. It's title page read:

Love & freindship and other early works, now first printed from the original MS by Jane Austen with a preface by G.K. Chesterton
So, as you can see, the very first edition of this work by Jane Austen appeared to the world with a preface by GKC. (Obviously, it was published posthumously- indeed, about a hundred years after her death, but, hey- it is still true that GKC wrote the preface to the first edition of a previously unpublished work written by Jane Austen.)

As Chesterton himself explains in the preface, giving the history of the work:
Jane Austen left everything she possessed to her sister Cassandra, including these and other manuscripts; and the second volume of them containing these was left by Cassandra to her brother, Admiral Sir Francis Austen. He gave it to his daughter Fanny, who left it in turn to her brother Edward, who was the Rector of Barfrestone in Kent, and the father of Mrs Sanders, to whose wise decision we owe the publication of these first fancies of her great-aunt; whom it might be misleading here to call her great great-aunt. Everyone will judge for himself; but I myself think she has added something intrinsically important to literature and to literary history; and that there are cartloads of printed matter, regularly recognised and printed with the works of all great authors, which are far less characteristic and far less significant than these few nursery jests.


Moreover, here's a little more information from the
Critical Companion to Jane Austen: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work by William Baker (2008)

Love and friendship
(LF) is the second of the three notebooks in Jane Austen's handwriting into which she copied her childhood compositions. The dating 1790-92, that is, when she was between 15 and 17 years of age, appears in the notebook. Following the author's death, the manuscript went to her sister, CASSANDRA, and remained in family hands. On July 6, 1977, it was sold at Sotheby's auction house in London and then purchased by the British Library.


Entitled "Love and Freindship. A novel in a series of Letters," with the inscription "Deceived in Freindship & Betrayed in Love," and completed on June 13, 1790, the work was dedicated to ELIZA DE FEULLIDE, Jane Austen's cousin. The spelling "Frendship" has been retained, as this was the author's own childhood spelling; however, she subsequently corrected this to "Friendship."

The 15 letters constituting LF were first published in 1922 in an edition containing a preface by the distinguished British man of letters G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
(emphasis mine)
And, just in case you wish to read it, including Chesterton's preface, you can do so here:

Love and Freindship and other Early Works


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"...there is no hope for men who do not boast that their wives bully them."

But there were in the play two great human ideas which the mediaeval mind never lost its grip on, through the heaviest nightmares of its dissolution. They were the two great jokes of mediaevalism, as they are the two eternal jokes of mankind. Wherever those two jokes exist there is a little health and hope; wherever they are absent, pride and insanity are present. The first is the idea that the poor man ought to get the better of the rich man. The other is the idea that the husband is afraid of the wife.

I have heard that there is a place under the knee which, when struck, should produce a sort of jump; and that if you do not jump, you are mad. I am sure that there are some such places in the soul. When the human spirit does not jump with joy at either of those two old jokes, the human spirit must be struck with incurable paralysis. There is hope for people who have gone down into the hells of greed and economic oppression (at least, I hope there is, for we are such a people ourselves), but there is no hope for a people that does not exult in the abstract idea of the peasant scoring off the prince. There is hope for the idle and the adulterous, for the men that desert their wives and the men that beat their wives. But there is no hope for men who do not boast that their wives bully them.

-Alarms and Discursions (1910)