A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

_____________________

"The Speaker" Articles

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

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


Monday, January 16, 2012

list of short GKC quotes

I just wished to provide a short list of GKC quotes (120 at the time that I first post this, though I may add to the list from time to time). It is by no means exhaustive, of course, but I had to stop somewhere. :-)


"Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly"
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"...there are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds"
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."
-Illustrated London News, July 16, 1910

 "The answer to the question, 'What is Wrong?' is, or should be, 'I am wrong.' Until a man can give that answer his idealism is only a hobby."
-Letter to the Daily News ("What is Wrong"), August 16, 1905

"...if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

"...I believe in getting into hot water. I think it keeps you clean."
-Illustrated London News, March 10, 1906

"It is a very good thing...to be frequently married again- always, of course, to the same person."
-Illustrated London News, October 9, 1909,

"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder"
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost"
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried."
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity."
-The Defendant (1901)

"[Puritanism] is having righteous indignation about the wrong things."
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

"...coincidences...are a spiritual sort of puns"
-Irish Impressions (1919)

"The word 'good' has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of 500 yards I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man."
-Chesterton as Seen by His Contemporaries (quoted in)

"You should not look a gift universe in the mouth"
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maise Ward [quoted in]

"A real soldier does not fight because he has something that he hates in front of him. He fights because he has something that he loves behind his back."
-Illustrated London News, January 14, 1911

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicans are hanged."
-Interview in The Cleveland Press, March 1, 1921

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"...I would rather be hated for some...real reason than pursued with love on account of all kinds of qualities which I do not possess..."
-The Appetite of Tyranny (1915)

-"I object to a quarrel because it always interrupts an argument"
-Magic (1913)

"Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance."
-The Apostle and the Wild Ducks (book essays collected in 1975)

" ...journalism largely consists in saying 'Lord Jones Dead' to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive."
-The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)

"For religion all men are equal, as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King."
-Charles Dickens (1906)

"There is nothing so satisfactory as finding that some man is better than we thought; there is no sensation so pleasant to a generous spirit as being convicted of calumny."
-Daily News, June 26, 1901

"Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it."
-The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

" 'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.' "
-The Defendant (1901)

"...If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time."
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

"For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad."
-The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)

"There is nothing that fails like success."
-Heretics (1905)

"For there is but an inch of difference between the cushioned chamber and the padded cell"
-Charles Dickens (1906)

"One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star"
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."
-All Things Considered (1908)

"But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget."
-"The Secret People" (1907)

"America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed."
-What I Saw in America (1922)

"Many clever men like you have trusted to civilisation. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the faiulres of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?"
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"Those thinkers who cannot believe in any gods often assert that the love of humanity would be in itself sufficient for them; and so, perhaps, it would, if they had it."
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak."
-The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)

"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."
-The Speaker,  February 2, 1901

"The fierce poet of the Middle Ages wrote, 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,' over the gates of the lower world. The emancipated poets of today have written it over the gates of this world."
-Charles Dickens (1906)

"Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural"
-Heretics (1905)

"There are those who dislike playing the fool, preferring to act the same part in a more serious spirit."
-Illustrated London News
, Januray 13, 1906

-"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong..."
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) [opening line]

"It is not always wrong even to go, like Dante, to the brink of the lowest promontory and look down at hell. It is when you look up at hell that a serious miscalculation has probably been made."
-Alarms and Discurions (1910)

" The theory of a complete change of standards in human history does not merely deprive us of the pleasure of honouring our fathers; it deprives us even of the more modern and aristocratic pleasure of despising them."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"A great man is not a man so strong that he feels less than other men; he is a man so strong that he feels more. And when Nietszche says, 'A new commandment I give to you, "be hard,"' he is really saying, "A new commandment I give to you, `be dead.'" Sensibility is the definition of life.
-Heretics (1905)

"The best way to destroy a utopia is to establish it"
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maisie Ward (1943) [quoted in]

"Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked...It may mean that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal; and that you are a paralytic."
-Avowals and Denials (1935)

"Slang is too sacred and precious to be used promiscuously. Its use should be led up to reverently for it expresses what the King's English could not"
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maisie Ward [quoted in]

"There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats grape-nuts on principle."
-Heretics (1905)

"Profanity is now more than an affectation—it is a convention. The curse against God is Exercise I. in the primer of minor poetry."
-The Defendant (1901)

"The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man"
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

"It is significant that in recent days every sort of public entertainment has been called 'a show,' with the implication that as much as possible must be shown."
 -Avowals and Denials (1935)

"True humanitarianism is sympathy with all human beings; false humanitarianism is sympathy with those particular human beings whom you choose to regard as oppressed or deserving of sympathy."
-Daily News, February 4, 1902

"...we admire things with reasons, but love them without reasons."
-Heretics (1905)

"But wit is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as well as see it. All honest people saw the point of Mark Twain's wit. Not a few dishonest people felt it."
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"To be in the weakest camp is to be in the strongest school"
-Heretics (1905)

"The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all."
-The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

"...the poor [...] have the vast, beautiful, and incontestable superiority to the rich, that they do not think that their fellow creatures spoil the face of their mother earth."
-Daily News, August 8, 1903

"When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world that we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale."
-Heretics (1905)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of pleasure"
-Twelve Types (1902)

"We shall never make anything of democracy until we make fools of ourselves. For if a man really cannot make a fool of himself, we may be quite certain that the effort is superfluous."
-The Defendant (1901)

"Have we really learnt to think more broadly? Or have we only learn to spread our thoughts thinner?"
-Twelve Types (1902)

"The Bible must be referring to wallpapers, I think, when it says, 'Use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do.'"
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"Being educated means reading the newspapers. Being properly educated means not believing newspapers after you have read them."
-Boston Globe (quoted in)

"A philosopher cannot talk about any single thing, down to a pumpkin, without showing whether he is wise or foolish; but he can easily talk about everything without anyone having any views about him, beyond gloomy suspicions."
-G. F. Watts (1904)

"If you cannot see Man, divine and democratic, under the disguises of all the centuries, why on earth should you suppose you will be able to see him under the disguises of all the nations and tribes?"
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

-"Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."
-Illustrated London News, December 2, 1905

"Nothing so much drives a thinking man to the conviction that Christianity is the moral core of the world than the vast diversity of the fools who attack it. This thing may or may not be the cornerstone; it may or may not be true that anyone dashing himself against it shall be broken. But there is no doubt that he is very frequently cracked. "
-Daily News, October 29, 1910

"Silence is the unbearable repartee"
-Charles Dickens (1906)

"A yawn may be defined as a silent yell"
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

"Experts in poverty (by which I do not mean sociologists, but poor men)..."
-Illustrated London News, March 25, 1911

"The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it."
-All Things Considered (1908)

"Not thinking is a disease, which will sometimes set in in a community, but when it does, it affects the upper a long time before the lower. There are a great many intellectual people, I believe, at the present day, who are engaged in attacking democracy, and they attack it largely, as far as I can make out, on the ground of the vulgarity and stupidity and vagueness which they find in a third-class carriage. To these, if their test be vulgarity and stupidity and vagueness, there is a very simple question to be set. Have they ever travelled in a first-class carriage?"
-Daily News, January 23, 1904

"...that clear mark of recent times [is] the appeal to authorities without authority....
-Illustrated London News, June 18, 1927

"...I use the word humanitarian in the ordinary sense, as meaning one who upholds the claims of all creatures against those of humanity."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"Men, they say, are now imitating angels; in their flying-machines, that is: not in any other respect that I have heard of."
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

"Common sense, that extinct branch of pyschology..."
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

"One can tell the divine origin of common sense by this simple test; that it is always crucified."
-Daily News, March 16, 1907

"For the golden age only comes to men when they have, if only for a moment, forgotten gold."
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

"If the characters are not wicked, the book is."
-All Things Considered (1908)

"To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence."
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

"For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn't keep his word"
-"The Aristocrat" (1912)

-"...knowing nine hundred words is not always more important than knowing what some of them mean"
-Irish Impressions (1919)

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land."
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but the absence of self-criticism"
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

"And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"...the chief idea of my life...is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted."
-Autobiography (1936)

 "It takes three to make a quarrel. There is needed a peacemaker. The full potentialities of human fury cannot be reached until a friend of both parties tactfully intervenes."
-The Thing (1929)

"It is very much like being in hell- pleasantly, of course."
-Chesterton commenting on New York in an interview with the Montreal Daily Star

-"What a glorious garden of wonders this would be, to anyone who was lucky enough to be unable to read!"
-What I Saw in America (1922)
[Chesterton's impression on first seeing the lights of Broadway]

"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"But when we are seeking for the real merits of a man it is unwise to go to his enemies, and much more foolish to go to himself."
-Heretics (1905)

"..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)

"We hear much about new religions; many of them based on the very latest novelties of Buddha and Pythagoras."
-The Thing (1929)

"Cruelty to animals is cruelty and a vile thing; but cruelty to a man is not cruelty, it is treason. Tyranny over a man is not tyranny, it is rebellion, for man is royal."
-Charles Dickens (1906)

"We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable"
-William Blake (1910)

"The Church had learnt, not at the end but at the beginning of her centuries, that the funeral of God is always a premature burial."
-The Crimes of England (1916)

"It is by this time a convention of journalism that the most trivial things should be printed in the largest letters, while anything at all significant or suggestive should be printed in very small letters, or, by a more frequent accident, not printed at all."
-Illustrated London News, November 6, 1920

"Thus we may say that a permanent ideal is as necessary to the innovator as to the conservative; it is necessary whether we wish the king's orders to be promptly executed or whether we only wish the king to be promptly executed."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"He has broken the conventions, but he has kept the commandments."
-Manalive (1912)

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it"
-A Short History of England (1917)

"It is always the secure who are humble"
-The Defendant (1901)

"To live it is necessary to be born again, to be born again it is necessary to die." 
-Daily News, January 21, 1905

"When the chord of monotony is stretched most tight, then it breaks with a sound like song"
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

"The nation that has no gods at all not only dies, but what is more, is bored to death."
-Illustrated London News, January 9, 1909

"There is no obligation on us to be richer, or busier, or more efficient, or more productive, or more progressive, or in any way worldlier or wealthier, if it does not make us happier."
-The Outline of Sanity (1926)

"...the secret of life lies in laughter and humility"
Heretics (1905)

"It is idle to talk against representative government or for it. All government is representative government until it begins to decay. Unfortunately (as is also evident) all government begins to decay the instant it begins to govern."
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

 "...whatever else is powerful, a vote is, at this moment, almost powerless....The elections are so artificially inaugurated, the alternative between Tweedledum and Tweedledee is so artificially explained, and the professional politicians once chosen are so artificially protected that the ordinary elector has almost no effect on the ultimate decisions of our politics."
-Daily News, July 16, 1910

"...[Free verse]... is not a new metre any more than sleeping in a ditch is a new school of architecture."
-Fancies versus Fads (1923)

 "It is often a strategic mistake to silence a man, because it leaves the world under the impression that he had something to say"
-Illustrated London News, August 14, 1915

-"Marriage is a duel to the death, which no man of honour should decline"
Manalive (1912)

"Philanthropy, as far as I can see, is rapidly becoming the recognisable mark of a wicked man."
-Illustrated London News, May 29, 1909

-"One of the greatest dangers of our time is that the name and power of philanthropy may be given to what are only the private tastes and whims of the genteel."
-Illustrated London News, September 7, 1907

"A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter"
-Illustrated London News,  May 23, 1931

"Politicians now think they have to educate the electorate and explain to them what is good for them. Gone are the days when the electorate educated their representatives...with the certainty that if no result were forthcoming...neither would any further votes be forthcoming."
-G.K.'s Weekly, March 30, 1933

"Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the god"
-Christendom in Dublin (1932)

"The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born."
-Heretics (1905)

"If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey towards the stars?"
-Return to Chesterton by Maisie Ward [quoted in]

"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)

"Whatever else is true, it is emphatically not true that the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth were suitable to his time, but are no longer suitable to our time. Exactly how suitable they were to his time is perhaps suggested in the end of his story."
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

"People seem to forget that in a society where power goes with wealth and where wealth is in an extreme state of inequality, extending the powers of the law means something entirely different from extending the powers of the public."
-Divorce versus Democracy (1916)

"The aristocracy which holds itself strong enough to raise the people is quite as aristocratic as the aristocracy that holds itself strong enough to crush the people. A free man ought neither to raise the people nor crush the people; he ought to be the people."
-Daily News, June 3, 1905

"Politicians...seldom suffer, indeed, from a bigoted fixity of conviction"
-Illustrated London News, April 21, 1923

"It seems strangely forgotten that the indifference of a nation is sacred as well as its differences. Even public apathy is a kind of public opinion--and in many cases a very sensible kind. If I ask every body to vote about Mineral Meals and do not get a single ballot-paper returned, I may say that the citizens have not voted. But they have."
-Divorce versus Democracy (1916)

 "...there is no hope for men who do not boast that their wives bully them."
-Alarms and Discusions (1910)

" I know that most politicians are engaged in trying to imitate the other politicians, which cannot be considered as a school of virtue." 
-Illustrated London News, July 9, 1910

"...even if the man is the head of the house, he knows he is the figurehead."
-All Things Considered (1908)

"I generally make my New Year resolutions somewhere towards the end of May, for I belong to that higher order of beings who not only forget to keep promises, but forget even to make them. Besides, my birthday is somewhere about then; and I like to be born again at the time I was born."
-Daily News, January 11, 1913

"Brave men are vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle."
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

 "To a lucid mind Imperialism and patriotism are opposite; patriotism means that boundaries are sacred, and Imperialism means that they are not."
-Daily News, May 14, 1910

 "We are not divided now into those who know and those who do not know. We are divided now into those who care and those who do not care."
-New Witness, December 20, 1918

"When men really understand that they are brothers they instantly begin to fight"
-Utopia of Userers (1917)

 "I gravely doubt whether women were ever married by capture. I think they pretended to be; as they do still."
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

"...when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

"...we lose our bearings entirely by speaking of the 'lower classes' when we mean humanity minus ourselves."
-The Defendant (1901)

"A lot of men....could go on saying for days that something ought to be done...But if you convey to a woman that something ought to be done, there is always a dreadful danger that she will suddenly do it."
-The Secret of Father Brown (1927)

 "...he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving"
-St. Francis of Assisi (1923)

"We read in the greatest of texts that God is Love, but we do not read anywhere that God is Sentimentalism [...] What the world needs to restore its youth is not only more reality in its joys, but more reality in its gifts, its perils, and its renunciations."
-Daily News, July 19, 1901

"It is much to be desired that those entirely excellent fellows who have a talent for scepticism should transfer some of their energies of inquiry from the dogmas of the other world to the dogmas of this world [...] It may be that I have a weak sympathy with those who have not seen and yet have believed. But I have no sympathy at all with those who have seen and yet have believed the opposite."
-Daily News, March 10, 1906

 "For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green"
-"The Rolling English Road" (1914)

"I have become a pilgrim to cure myself of being an exile"
-Manalive (1912)

"The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them."
-Autobiography (1936)

-"Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment of private judgment, I am firmly of the opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874, on Campden Hill, Kengsington..."
-Autobiography (1936) [opening line]