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.


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)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"The old tyrants had enough insolence to despoil the poor, but they had not enough insolence to preach to them."

We are always ready to make a saint or prophet of the educated man who goes into cottages to give a little kindly advice to the uneducated. But the medieval idea of a saint or prophet was something quite different. The medieval saint or prophet was an uneducated man who walked into grand houses to give a little kindly advice to the educated. The old tyrants had enough insolence to despoil the poor, but they had not enough insolence to preach to them. It was the gentleman who oppressed the slums; but it was the slums that admonished the gentleman. And just as we are undemocratic in faith and morals, so we are, by the very nature of our attitude in such matters, undemocratic in the tone of our practical politics. It is a sufficient proof that we are not an essentially democratic state that we are always wondering what we shall do with the poor. If we were democrats, we should be wondering what the poor will do with us. With us the governing class is always saying to itself, "What laws shall we make?" In a purely democratic state it would be always saying, "What laws can we obey?"

-Heretics (1905)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jorge Luis Borges on GKC

Famous Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) on G.K. Chesterton

I believe that Chesterton is one of the foremost writers of our time, not only because of his happy inventiveness, visual imagination and childlike or godlike cheer so evident in all his writing, but also because of his rhetorical skill and the sheer brilliance of his craft...

Chesterton is well-rounded: Chesterton doesn't repeat a formula with the fear of making mistakes; Chesterton feels utterly comfortable, which is why he hardly ever makes use of dialectical methods. He is one of the very few Christians who not only believe in Heaven but are also interested in it, and who provide it with an abundance of conjectures and imaginations.

-From blurb on back cover of On Lying in Bed and Other Essays by G.K. Chesterton
Also, for more quotes from Borges on GKC, see this link

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Pride does not go before a fall. Pride is a fall..."

...Is it not true that pride gives to every other vice the extra touch of the intolerable? Whether or no it be the one thing that is unpardonable, is it not, in practice, the one thing that is unpardoned? I think the instinct of mankind against pride, as the ultimate human evil, can be proved from the most prosaic details or the most babyish beginnings. We do not specially resent a schoolboy being in love with a different girl every week, nor even his being in love with all of them in the course of the same week. Our dim yet divine desire to kick him only comes when he says that they are all in love with him...

...Gluttony is a great fault; but we do not necessarily dislike a glutton. We only dislike the glutton when he becomes the gourmet- that is, we only dislike him when he not only wants the best for himself, but knows what is best for other people. It is the poison of pride that has made the difference...Passions that can be respected as passions, weaknesses that can be reverenced as weaknesses, can all be suddenly distorted into devilish shapes, and made to dance to devilish tunes, at the first note of this shrill and hollow reed...

...It is this element that makes the position of the merely insolent impossible even for their own purposes. Pride does not go before a fall. Pride is a fall, in the instant understanding of all the intelligent who see it.

-August 22, 1914, Illustrated London News

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."

How strange it is, then, that we should so constantly think of education as having something to do with such things as reading and writing! Why, real education consists of having nothing to do with such things as reading and writing. It consists, at the least, of being independent of them. Real education precisely consists in the fact that we see beyond the symbols and the mere machinery of the age in which we find ourselves: education precisely consists in the realisation of a permanent simplicity that abides behind all civilisations, the life that is more than meat, the body that is more than raiment. The only object of education is to make us ignore mere schemes of education. Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. The latest fads of culture, the latest sophistries of anarchism will carry us away if we are uneducated: we shall not know how very old are all new ideas. We shall think that Christian Science is really the whole of Christianity and the whole of Science. We shall think that art colours are really the only colours in art. The uneducated man will always care too much for complications, novelties, the fashion, the latest thing. The uneducated man will always be an intellectual dandy. But the business of education is to tell us of all the varying complications, of all the bewildering beauty of the past. Education commands us to know, as Arnold said, all the best literatures, all the best arts, all the best national philosophies. Education commands us to know them all that we may do without them all.

-December 2, 1905, Illustrated London News

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chesterton's unconscious prophecy of the Internet. :-)

Good communications corrupt good manners

-June 17, 1933, Illustrated London News

[I just happened to come across this quote by chance tonight, and I immediately thought: Chesterton wrote an unconscious prophecy of the Internet! lol.

Just kidding, of course, and certainly I realize that he was alluding to a verse of Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:33), albeit slightly paraphrasing and accommodating it for his own literary purpose. But it seems so fitting to apply that quote to the Internet, especially considering Chesterton himself in context was making reference to what was at his time "the newest and most scientific methods of communication", as he puts it.]

"Other writers had seen the hope or the terror of the heavens; he alone saw the humour of them."

The profound security of Carlyle's sense of the unity of the Cosmos is like that of a Hebrew prophet; and it has the same expression that it had in the Hebrew prophets--humour. A man must be very full of faith to jest about his divinity. No Neo-Pagan delicately suggesting a revival of Dionysius, no vague, half-converted Theosophist groping towards a recognition of Buddha, would ever think of cracking jokes on the matter. But to the Hebrew prophets their religion was so solid a thing, like a mountain or a mammoth, that the irony of its contact with trivial and fleeting matters struck them like a blow. So it was with Carlyle. His supreme contribution, both to philosophy and literature, was his sense of the sarcasm of eternity. Other writers had seen the hope or the terror of the heavens; he alone saw the humour of them. Other writers had seen that there could be something elemental and eternal in a song or statute, he alone saw that there could be something elemental and eternal in a joke.

-Twelve Types (1902)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Silence is the unbearable repartee."

Silence is the unbearable repartee.

-Charles Dickens (1906)

Monday, October 3, 2011

"It is a very good thing....to be frequently married again- always, of course, to the same person."

For all the ancient things truly exist only to teach us to be young. The quaintest carved font exists only that we may be born again, and be babyish. The most venerable altar only exists that we may married again and go on another honeymoon. It is a very good thing, by the way, to be frequently married again- always, of course, to the same person.

-October 9, 1909, Illustrated London News

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Paganism was the largest thing in the world and Christianity was larger; and everything else has been comparatively small."

Paganism was the largest thing in the world and Christianity was larger; and everything else has been comparatively small.

-The Catholic Church and Conversion (1927)