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.




Friday, August 31, 2012

..there is certainly something amusing in the picture of the rich and powerful peering down into the abyss and drooping tears over the poor specimens that make up the populace, while by far the greater part of the populace is remarking more and more what uncommonly poor specimens are looking down at them.

quoted in The Century Magazine, volume 85 (November, 1912, To April, 1913)

4 comments:

coffee pot curve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coffee pot curve said...

Hee hee yes! It is an amusing analogy although I don't know the full context. It brings to mind the parable of the the rich man and Lazarus. As well as all the ideals about rich and poor I know as far as old systems of aristocratic governance.

Mike said...

Yep. lol. I have included more of the context below, but the above quote especially stood out to me, and how relevant it is today, especially to the way our social elites condescendingly look down at the masses who disagree with them.

Anyway, here is the context:
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There is much in the English papers just now, and I do not doubt in the American papers also, about degeneration and eugenics and the appalling sexual conduct and physical condition of the submerged. This also is a mere plutocratic fad, and corresponds to no general public feeling. Every sensible man in England knows that the poor must somehow or other be given more money for food and rest; but every sensible man also knows that in other respects they are as mixed and average as any other class, and marry and are given in marriage, as people always have done and always will do.

The suspicion really abroad in England is not a doubt about the people below but about the people above. Looking at those who emerge into the first social rank, we are more inclined to be ashamed of our successes than of our failures....And there is certainly something amusing in the picture of the rich and powerful peering down into the abyss and drooping tears over the poor specimens that make up the populace, while by far the greater part of the populace is remarking more and more what uncommonly poor specimens are looking down at them.

This doubt of the powers that be is vague but universal, and had a sort of stifled explosion at the time of the
Titanic affair; a general suspicion that governors cannot be trusted to govern or inspectors to inspect or arbiters to arbitrate, that captains are not to be trusted with ships, that lawyers are not to be trusted with laws. The kind of man who comes to the top everywhere conquers nothing but his superiors, gains nothing but his own gain. In modern England the successful man is not a success.

Now this state of public feeling has produced one rather odd, but very important effect. While our attitude is growing more revolutionary, it is growing less Socialistic. For Socialism proposes to give to the state, and therefore to statesmen, fresh powers against social abuses. And England in its modern mood is rather more suspicious of the statesmen than of the bosses or middlemen whom they are supposed to control. The simple Socialistic formula that government should own the mines, for example- that simple formula begins to look a little too simple when people are suspecting that the mine owners own the government. The mere proposal to set the politician to watch the capitalist has been disturbed by the rather disconcerting discovery that they are both the same man. We are past the point where being a capitalist is the only way of becoming a politician, and we are dangerously near the point where being a politician is much the quickest way of becoming a capitalist. But while the European
haute politique is hypocritical and diseased (much more so, I should say, than the American), there is certainly less "graft" and corrupt give-and-take in the mass of minor functionaries or moderate fortunes; and this very comparative honesty in the less successful mass of Europe increases their uneasiness touching the national leadership. The English people, so far from being supine and decadent, are much more vigorous and wide-awake than they have been for a long time. But they have awakened in a cage.

coffee pot curve said...

Thanks Mike, an enjoyable read. Yes I think it very much matches today's world.
This doubt of the powers that be is vague but universal, and had a sort of stifled explosion at the time of the Titanic affair; a general suspicion that governors cannot be trusted to govern or inspectors to inspect or arbiters to arbitrate, that captains are not to be trusted with ships, that lawyers are not to be trusted with laws. The kind of man who comes to the top everywhere conquers nothing but his superiors, gains nothing but his own gain. In modern England the successful man is not a success.
This quote also stands out to me. As a reflection of today's world.