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.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 8, 1906, Illustrated London News

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"...it is not really so much a question of access to the facts, as of attitude to the facts."

It is true that, in most other cases, there was a certain limitation to the data of medieval science; but this certainly had nothing to do with medieval religion. For the data of Aristotle, and the great Greek civilisation, were in many ways more limited still. But it is not really so much a question of access to the facts, as of attitude to the facts. Most of the Schoolmen, if informed by the only informants they had that a unicorn has one horn or a salamander lives in the fire, still used it more as an illustration of logic than an incident of life. What they really said was, "If a Unicorn has one horn, two unicorns have as many horns as one cow." And that has not one inch the less a fact because the unicorn is a fable. But with Albertus in medieval times, as with Aristotle in ancient times, there did begin something like the idea of emphasising the question: "But does the unicorn only have one horn or the salamander a fire instead of a fireside?" Doubtless when the social and geographical limits of medieval life began to allow them to search the fire for salamanders or the desert for unicorns, they had to modify many of their scientific ideas. A fact which will expose them to the very proper scorn of a generation of scientists which has just discovered that Newton is nonsense, that space is limited, and that there is no such thing as an atom.
-St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox (1933)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"There is one very vile habit that the pedants have, and that is explaining to a man why he does a thing which the man himself can explain quite well- and quiet differently."

There is one very vile habit that the pedants have, and that is explaining to a man why he does a thing which the man himself can explain quite well- and quiet differently. If I go down on all-fours to find sixpence, it annoys me to be told by a passing biologist that I am really doing it because my remote ancestors were quadrupeds. I concede that he knows all about biology, or even a great deal about my ancestors; but I know he is wrong, because he does not know about the sixpence. If I climb a tree after a stray cat, I am unconvinced when a stray anthropologist tells me that I am doing it because I am essentially arboreal and barbaric. I happen to know why I am doing it; and I know it is because I am amiable and somewhat over-civilised. Scientists will talk to a man on general guess-work about things that they know no more about than about his pocket-money or his pet cat. Religion is one of them, and all the festivals and formalities that are rooted in religion. Thus a man will tell me that in keeping Christmas I am not keeping a Christian feast, but a pagan feast. This is exactly as if he told me that I was not feeling furiously angry, but only a little sad. I know how I am feeling all right; and why I am feeling it. I know this in the case of cats, sixpences, anger, and Christmas Day. When a learned man tells me that on the 25th of December I am really astronomically worshiping the sun, I answer that I am not. I am practicing a particular personal religion, the pleasures of which (right or wrong) are not in the least astronomical. If he says that the cult of Christmas and the cult of Apollo are the same, I answer that they are utterly different; and I ought to know, for I have held both of them. I believed in Apollo when I was quite little; and I believe in Christmas now that I am very, very big.

Let us not take with such smooth surrender these tenth-truths at tenth hand, such as the phrase that Christmas is pagan in origin. Let us note exactly how much it really means. It amounts, so far as our knowledge goes, solely to this- that primitive Scandinavians did hold a feast in mid-winter. What the dickens else could primitive Scandinavians do, especially in winter? That they put on the largest log in winter: do the professors expect such simple pagans to put on the largest log in summer? It amounts to this, again- that many tribes have either worshiped the sun or (more probably) compared some god or hero to the sun. Just so many a poet has compared his lady to the sun-without by any means intending that she was a Solar Myth. Thus, by talking a great deal about the solar solstice, it can be maintained that Christmas is a sort of sun-worship; to all of which the simple answer is that it feels quite different. If people profess to feel 'the spirit' behind symbols, the first thing I expect of them that they shall feel how opposite are the adoration of the sun and the following of the star
-The Spirit of Christmas (1984)

Friday, December 5, 2014

"...extending the powers of the law means something entirely different from extending the powers of the public."

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)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A preposition, I may remark in passing, is about the best thing in the world to end a sentence with. This is what we call practising what we preach.
-February 17, 1906, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"...a town must be more poetical than the country."

...for there is one respect in which a town must be more poetical than the country, since it is closer to the spirit of man; for London, if it be not one of the masterpieces of man, is at least one of his sins. A street is really more poetical than a meadow, because a street has a secret. A street is going somewhere, and a meadow nowhere.
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Nothing is so hard on the world as the world."

Nothing is so hard on the world as the world. Generally, in comparison, there has been much more mercy and moderation in the Church. Nothing is more inhuman than humanity itself to human habits, affections or weaknesses, when they happen to be unpopular for particular reasons at a particular moment; and they are likely to be more ruthlessly treated by a craze than a by a creed...man left to himself is a victim of moods. This mood of prohibition is always a mood of compulsion, of conquest and the cleansing of the earth of every trace of the temporarily detested thing; that sort of man must always crush the human world in order to sift it.
-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

"...men often dislike pomp or splendour because they are not simple enough to like it."

I will leave the True Christian to labour a very obvious contrast between St. Peter's and St. Peter. Simon Peter was probably a simple man; but men often dislike pomp or splendour because they are not simple enough to like it. No notes were made at the time about the great Fisherman's taste in architecture, his friends being otherwise employed on matters which they (being also simple men) fancied to be more urgent. But if he had any particular admiration for any particular building, I should say he is as likely as not to have been thrilled, in a deplorably theatrical manner, by the florid Corinthian magnificence of the Herodian Temple. And if tomorrow morning a Neapolitan fisherman, fresh from the nets and in exactly the same childlike spirit as Simon of Galilee, made his first journey from the sea to Rome, I strongly suspect that he would throw up his hands in wonder as Michael Angelo intended him to do. For all art is sensational, since it aims at producing some sort of sensation. There are other examples of the fact that the simple may see subtle things, even after the subtle have so long lectured and laid down the law about rather simple things.
-The Resurrection of Rome (1930)

Monday, November 10, 2014

T.S. Eliot and Chesterton

An interesting article by Joseph Pearce:

G.K. Chesterton & T.S. Eliot: Friends or Enemies?

In 1929, following his much-publicized conversion to Christianity, Eliot wrote to Chesterton in a spirit of reconciliation: “I should like extremely to come to see you one day…May I mention that I have much sympathy with your political and social views, as well as (with obvious reservations) your religious views?”[7] The “obvious reservations” were a reference to the fact that Chesterton had converted to Roman Catholicism whereas Eliot had become an anglo-Catholic, i.e. a member of the “higher” regions of the Church of England. In the same letter, Eliot had added that Chesterton’s study of Charles Dickens “was always a delight to me.”

By 1935, Eliot’s tone, when mentioning Chesterton, was much more cordial. Referring to “such delightful fiction as Mr Chesterton’s Man Who was Thursday or Father Brown,” Eliot cautioned that the inclusion of religious apologetics or “Propaganda”, such as that introduced by Chesterton into his fiction, was not normally advisable. Insisting that nobody “admires and enjoys” Chesterton’s fiction “more than I do,” he added that few could succeed as Chesterton does: “I would only remark that when the same effect is aimed at by zealous persons of less talent than Mr. Chesterton the effect is negative.”[8]

As a cordial friendship developed between the erstwhile enemies, Chesterton became a valued contributor to the Criterion, the quarterly review which Eliot edited, and shortly before his death Chesterton had “greatly wished” to see Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral when it was performed in Notting Hill.[9] Thus it was that two of the most important figures in the Christian Cultural Revival had moved from enmity to friendship, united in a shared love for civilization which Eliot would encapsulate in Notes towards the Definition of Culture...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It is a great pity that film and radio and other modern inventions have lessened the opportunities of the public to meet politicians face to face and tear them to pieces.
-July 14, 1926, Buffalo Evening News [H/T Sean Dailey]

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Optimism, or the utmost possible praise of all things, ought to be the keynote of criticism."

Optimism, or the utmost possible praise of all things, ought to be the keynote of criticism. It may appear to be an audacious assertion, but it may be tested by one very large and simple process. Compare the reality of a man's criticism when praising anything with its reality when excluding anything, and we shall all feel how much more often we agree with the former than with the latter. A man says, for example, "The Yorkshire moors are incomparably splendid," and we wholly agree. He goes on, "their superiority to the mere hills of Surrey--" and we instantly disagree with him. He says, "the Iliad, the highest expression of man's poetical genius," and all our hearts assent. He adds, "towering high above all our Hamlets and Macbeths," and we flatly deny it. A man may say, "Plato was the greatest man of antiquity," and we admit it; but if he says "he was far greater than Aischylus," we demur. Briefly, in praising great men we cheerfully agree to a superlative, but we emphatically decline a comparative. We come very near to the optimism of that universal superlative which in the morning of the world declared all things to be very good.

One of the results of this fact is that when a critic is really large-minded and really sympathetic and comprehensive, and really has hold of a guiding and enlightening idea, he should still watch with the greatest suspicion his own limitations and rejections. His praise will almost certainly be sound, his blame should always remain to his own mind a little dubious.

-May 3, 1902, The Speaker
We are condemned to read history backwards, seeing all men's movements in the light of a future which they could not foresee

-"Wilfrid Ward"
The Dublin Review, Vol. CLIX, No. 314-315, July/October, 1916.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"If a man does not talk to himself, it is because he is not worth talking to."

The other criticism which the present critic may criticise is the frequent observation that a soliloquy is old-fashioned- and by "old-fashioned" they always mean artificial or unnatural. Now I should say that a soliloquy is the most natural thing in the world. It is no more artificial than a conscience; or a habit of walking about a room. I constantly talk to myself. If a man does not talk to himself, it is because he is not worth talking to. Soliloquy is simply the strength and liberty of the soul, without which each one of us would be like that nobleman in one of the most brilliant and bizarre of Mr. Henry Jame's tales, who did not exist at all except when others were present. Every man ought to be able to argue with himself.
-Dublin Review, January 1914

Thursday, October 30, 2014

These are the high moments of the Punch and Judy art....For do not our day-dreams of practical politics now largely consist in wishing we could hit wooden heads with a wooden stick?
-October 8, 1921, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"...he never had any conviction except that he was young; and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years."

The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young; and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years. What we see, in short, is not the first tearing triumph of revolutionary children. It is the first great failure of revolutionary parents. It is the collapse of scepticism in the seat of authority.
-July 9, 1921, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"...a penny spent is a penny gained"

Proverbs are regarded as sacred things. The mere word suffices for the name of one of the books of the Bible, and yet it is remarkable what a large number of current proverbs when properly understood seem like texts from the horrible scriptures of a lower world. Proverbs are commonly at the best truisms; and a truism is a dead truth, a truth that we no longer feel as true. Spring, the stars, marriage, and death are truths, and it should be the aim of all literature and philosophy to prevent their becoming truisms. But it is extraordinary to notice the large number of proverbs, enshrining the wisdom of many generations, which are really mean and materialistic axioms fighting at every point against the realisation of a higher and more liberal life. We are told, for example, that "a penny saved is a penny gained," but proverbial philosophy is silent upon the far deeper and more practical piece of wisdom that a penny spent is a penny gained. If the author of the proverb wished to express himself with true philosophical lucidity he should have said that a penny saved is a penny placed in such a position that at some remote period it may effectively be gained. This form of words would make the proverb slightly more inconvenient for the purposes of constant repetition, but this I incline to think would be an advantage. Instances might be produced ad infinitum. It is said that "little things please little minds" but there is perhaps no better test of a great mind than that it reverences little things. It is said that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and a whole sermon might be preached against the vulgarity and inhumanity of the sentiment. A flower growing untouched in a meadow, a flower, therefore, that is really a flower, is immeasurably more ours when we enjoy it as such than when we amputate it, and put it in a pot. as if it were a diseased limb. A part of the cosmic life which preserves its own divine indifference to ourselves is worth any number of cosmic slaves that we have taught to fawn upon us. A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand. Everywhere we find this same quality in proverbs, that, although they are certainly not immoral, although they may be said to contain a certain brisk diurnal morality, yet they certainly fight so far as they go against the higher and braver life.
-September 14, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"...he had his orders; he was the sentinel of God."

The great conception which lay at the back of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures was the conception that to man had been given a certain law, to champion which was his sole and simple business. ‘He hath shown thee, O man, that which is good’ is perhaps of all earthly sayings the one which has the deepest ring; it seems, as it were, too true and simple to be comprehended. The stars in their courses might fight against his honour, scientific discoveries might make the world seem more perilous and equivocal; at the turning of a stone or the splitting of a sea beast, the whole cosmic army might seem suddenly to desert to the devil. But man had in his heart a secret which would outlast these things; he had his orders; he was the sentinel of God.
-The Speaker, October 19th, 1901
The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Friday, October 24, 2014

It has been one of the less possible dreams of my life to be a painted Pagan God and live upon a ceiling [...] The company about me on the clouds varies greatly with the mood of the vision, but always it is in some way, if not always a very obvious way, beautiful. One frequent presence is G.K. Chesterton, a joyous whirl of brush work, appropriately garmented and crowned. When he is there, I remark, the whole ceiling is by a sort of radiation convivial. We drink limitless old October from handsome flagons, and we argue mightily about Pride (his weak point) and the nature of Deity.  A hygienic, attentive, and essentially anesthetic Eagle checks, in the absence of exercise, any undue enlargement of our Promethean  livers...
-H.G. Wells. An Englishman Looks at the World

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

[George] Marlin is gathering the writings of Chesterton. "After the death of Dorothy Collins," he says, "I was the first person allowed to see his papers. They were in his attic in his house outside London. I found plays and poems nobody knew existed. There were condolence letters to his widow from Churchill and T.S. Eliot. I even sat in the chair that belonged to Dickens. It had been given to Chesterton by [Dicken's] daughter after his death.
-New York Magazine, July 26, 1993

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"True artistic symbolism exists in order to provide another alphabet .."

We need a much clearer conception of the real value and function of mysticism. It is not mysticism to explain a puzzle: to say that a green cross means evolution and a blue triangle means orthodoxy. This sort of allegorical art is a mere cryptogram which ceases to exist when it is explained. Whatever a mystic may be, he is surely not only a person who destroys mystery.

The real function of symbolism is much deeper and much more practical. We are surrounded in this world by huge and anonymous forces: as they rush by us we throw a name at them-love, death, destiny, remembrance-but the things themselves are infinitely vaster and more varied than the names. True artistic symbolism exists in order to provide another alphabet for the direct interpretation of these infinite anarchic things than the alphabet of language. It is not that a sea at sunset "represents" sorrow, but that a sea at sunset represents a great deal of the truth which is missed by the word "sorrow." So it is with Mr. Downing's Shakespeare allegory. It is not that Shakespeare is a mere philosopher: it is that philosophy is one way of describing certain unutterable things, and Shakespeare is another. Caliban, says Mr. Downing, "represents the mob." The truth is that Caliban represents an old, dark, and lawless element in things, an element which has no name except Caliban, and of which the mob is one of the hundred incarnations. So far from it being true that Caliban symbolises the mob in the street, it would be far truer to say that the mob in the street symbolises Caliban.
-May 11, 1901, The Speaker

"Religion does not consist in looking upon the world as an order, but in looking upon it as an act."

The earlier and more practical truth-the truth of religions-is that a tree is a miracle, an inexplicable explosion of divine life, and that no conceivable number of precisely similar trees go any way towards explaining it or turning the miracle into a law. If we saw a gentleman going to church every Sunday in a top hat and yellow dressinggown, our curiosity would not be allayed by his explaining that he had done the same thing regularly for the last twenty years. Nor can we excuse the eccentric conduct of the sun in rising in the east merely on the ground of habit and advanced years. What Mr. Dadson does not realise is that religion has nothing at all to do with the laws of nature, because it deals only with the primary wonder of the existence of anything which is entirely untouched by the monotonous manner in which anything when created chooses to behave. ... Religion does not consist in looking upon the world as an order, but in looking upon it as an act. For the purposes of Mr. Dadson's natural philosophy, it is quite right and proper to say that evolution made the world. But it is precisely as if a schoolmaster who had just been hit on the foot with a cricket ball were to ask who rolled the missile and were to receive the answer that revolution rolled it. The degree of gaiety which would be aroused in him by that reply would be about equal to the amount that I experience from the former explanation considered in the light, not of physical, but of mental science. Mr. Dadson is content with a mechanical explanation of the world, and he supposes that all myths and religions were meant to explain how rational the universe was. It does not occur to him that they may have been meant to express how irrational it was, to reach past all the minor phenomena that obey law to that supreme and splendid law which is a lawless thing.
-July 27, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Primarily, we must, in studying anything so widespread as printed matter, get rid of one fundamental error in our use of the words good and bad. We speak of a knife that is blunt as a bad knife or a paint-box that yields hard and weak colour as a bad paint-box. For practical purposes this is right enough. Compared with other objects of the same class these things are bad. But for all that the word bad is a misnomer; for bad things are things that hurt us, not things that please us insufficiently. A blunt knife is not bad, unless it cuts us, and then, for the matter of that, it is not so bad as a sharp knife would be. A paint-box is not bad, unless we eat the paints, and even the most exquisite greens and purples may be discordant if mingled internally. A common knife is good because however hard it may be to carve a joint with it, it would be much harder to carve it with an umbrella. A common paint-box is good, because however hard it may be to extract paint out of it, it would be much harder to extract it out of a lump of red sandstone. These things, however rude, are inventions. The most forbearing British father would complain if he were asked to carve the joint with one of the primitive flint-knives of the British Museum. But in their cases in the British Museum we respect them as if they were the relics of a saint.
 -June 8, 1901,  The Speaker

Friday, October 17, 2014

"A thing will be imposed on everybody before it has been explained to anybody."

Education seems to be getting into a tangle; which is largely a tangle of red tape. It is a confusion between the attempt to keep the strings of it very tight and to throw the threads of it very far. Education is treated as a settlement; and yet, at the same time, education is treated as an experiment. It is imposed on everybody as a platitude; and yet it is free to take the most fantastic forms of paradox. First a politician tells us that all children must go to school; and then a professor tells us that all schools must be conducted in the tops of trees. At least, that is the sort of thing the professor tells us. And the situation becomes alarming when the professor is supported by the politician and even by the policeman. Of course, there is no objection to the professor teaching his own family at the top of a tree; or even to his hopping back to them with a worm in his mouth. But when this is connected up with a compulsory system for the whole State it is very different. It is very different if they put a professor to twitter in every tree, or a worm to wriggle in every child. It is then more than an experiment; it may be called an experience. It seems likely that even if the worm does not turn, the child will. A thing will be imposed on everybody before it has been explained to anybody. The professor will be altogether too early a bird, and will catch the worm and give it to us before we are half awake.
-June 12, 1920, Illustrated London News

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The aristocrat is very seldom a man who objects to novelties. The aristocrat is generally a man who longs for novelties, and runs after novelties, and dies of inanition, so to speak, if he cannot get enough novelties. We should not expect to find a Cubist picture in a cottage, or some new kind of Vorticist dancing on a village green. A novelty is a luxury, and is found with all the other examples of the latest luxuries. Hence a profession of faith in progress is almost universal in plutocracy.
-June 26, 1920, Illustrated London News

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"...that is the peculiarity of our own time, which has a positive bias against the populace."

But ours is specially the time when a man can advertise his wares not as a universality, but as what the tradesmen call "a specialty." We all know this, for instance, about modern art. Michelangelo and Whistler were both fine artists; but one is obviously public, the other obviously private, or rather, not obvious at all. Michelangelo's frescoes are doubtless finer than the popular judgment, but they are plainly meant to strike the popular judgment. Whistler's pictures seem often meant to escape the popular judgment; they even seem meant to escape the popular admiration. They are elusive, fugitive; they fly even from praise. Doubtless many artists in Michelangelo's day declared themselves to be great artists, although they were unsuccessful. But they did not declare themselves great artists because they were unsuccessful: that is the peculiarity of our own time, which has a positive bias against the populace.
-January 25, 1908, Illustrated London News

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pope St. John Paul II commentiong on GKC's words.

I found the following passage in the book "Be Not Afraid!": Pope John Paul II Speaks Out on his Life, his Beliefs and his Inspiring Vision for Humanity, Andre Frossard and Pope John Paul II, (1982- emphasis mine).

I include it on this blog for it's reference to Chesterton, but since it is a wonderful reflection by Pope St. John Paul II in its own right, I have quoted it at greater length than I normally would have.

(Incidentally, for an instance of John Paul 2 quoting GKC in a general audience, go here
Since the notorious 'Families, I hate you' uttered by a man who cultivated his faults with as much care as a gardener cultivates his roses, one or two generations of moralists have made demoralizing assertions which fail to stand up to Chesterton's robust and serene assertion: 'The family is a cell of resistance to oppression.' This aspect of the family does not seem to be very clearly perceived by the theorists. I asked the Holy Father what he thought about this.

"Chesterton's words are beautiful. Beautiful and true. Moreover, they are shrewd- and demanding. For the family to be, as he asserts, 'a cell of resistance to oppression', it must be a community of great maturity and depth. When I say, 'it must,' I mean that a moral obligation subsists. To speak of the family as a 'cell of resistance to oppression' is to indicate it's moral value and at the same time to define its proper structure- and in the last analysis to rely upon the spiritual maturity of the persons involved. When this is missing, the man or the woman is liable to see in their indissoluble union only a a constraint to be broken.

The family- much more than any other social community- has an essentially personal structure. Each of its members has his own importance, not owing to any given function, or to the resources he procures or anything else, but simply because he exists, because he is a 'person', because he is 'this particular person'. That is why the family, more than any other form of human contract, deserves the magnificent description of a 'communion of persons', which indicates the depth and intensity of the mutual relations, as well as the depth and strength of the resulting interpersonal ties. If in a family (supposing that it is morally mature) each member, and therefore each individual, has his own importance, this cannot create a climate of individualism- nothing is less characteristic of a family that develops healthily. The fact that man has an existence 'for himself' obliges him to live also 'for others', as we read in the beautiful words of Gaudium et Spes: 'Man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.' Thus the 'communion of persons' is much more than a bond between people; it signifies existence, life, action based on the principle of reciprocal giving- the reciprocal gift of humanity.

In a family, every being is important because of what he is, because he exists. The gift of humanity from each to each is, so to speak, the starting point in the family, and also its duty. The more each member of a family knows how to live for others, the clearer it is that for this family that member is important because he exists and because of what he is. Even when it cannot be said that 'he knows how to live for others', the fact remains that he belongs to the family and that he counts because he exists, he counts for what he is, even though in that case he is causing suffering- which itself demonstrates this truth. It is less obvious in communities which take a more 'neutral' stance, which are less sensitive to the human person. Some years ago I wrote a little treatise on the family as a 'communion of persons', largely inspired by the passage in Gaudium et Spes which I have just quoted."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

More John Paul I on GKC



I just came across a book of writings by Pope John Paul I. It is called A Passionate Adventure; Living the Catholic Faith Today. I should note I only have access to the Google books preview feature.) In any case, I came across a few places in which he refers to Chesterton (from homilies given before he became Pope), so I have included them below.

First, from this homily:

"Not Convention, but Conviction"
Homily to the Riveneto Convention of Communion and Liberation
May 31, 1976

There was a little island- Chesterton wrote- and the children used to go there to play ball. They played serenely and securely, because the playing field was completely surrounded by a high wall. One day some important people approached the little island and said: "knock down that wall: don't you see that it limits you and takes away your space? Away with it, more air, more liberty." They were listened to, the wall was thrown down. But now, if you go to the island, you find the children unhappy; there is no longer the same security as before; every so often a ball falls into the sea, and they waste time fishing it out; sometimes the waves carry it away. "Away with the Pope," some people say, "he limits you! More air, more liberty!" Sometimes they are listened to, but the consequences are under our eyes: without the Pope we lack a sure reference point, they slip in others to act like the Pope, and great insecurity, doubt, and confusion are the result.

The story he references, with some variations, can be found in the last chapter of GKC's book Orthodoxy, called "Authority and the Adventurer", which you can read online here:

http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/orthodoxy/ch9.html

Then, from this homily:

 "Death and Eternal Life"
Homily for All Souls Day
November 2, 1976

 Luther has said: human nature is corrupt, it can produce only sin. Goodness consists of the fact that God covers these sins with a mantle of mercy. The Marxists say: man, taken individually, is egotistical and wicked. He will become good and happy if he is placed in a collective regime that achieves economic prosperity for everyone. It has been noted, however, that in a period of great prosperity, juvenile delinquency increases, while religious life prospers when the vow and the spirit of poverty are practiced in earnest. 

The truth lies in between the two hypotheses: we all experience in ourselves moments of goodness and moments of wickedness; we are like a watch that has all of its wheels, but needs a mainspring that will make it move. The mainspring is the grace of God: if we do not resist it, our spiritual wheels will work and produce good. Naturally, these are mysterious things; we hold them through faith, we do not know exactly how they work, they do not lend themselves to verification. Should we be surprised? "There is nothing," Pascal wrote, "about which we know everything." And Chesterton: "How could physical science prove that man is not depraved? You do not cut a man open to find his sins. You do not boil him until he gives forth the unmistakable green fumes of depravity. How could physical science find any traces of a moral fall?...Did [the scientist] expect to find a fossil Eve with an fossil apple inside her? Did he suppose that the ages would have spared for him a complete skeleton of Adam...attached to a slightly faded fig leaf?" [2]

[Footnote]

[2] G.K. Chesterton, "Science and Religion," in All Things Considered [1908; reprint Philadelphia: Dufour Editions, 1969, pp. 124-25.- Trans].


BTW, here is a link to the essay "Science and Religion" which was quoted:

http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/11505-h.htm#SCIENCE_AND_RELIGION


Finally, from this homily:

"Light in Our Darkness"
Homily for the Feast of St. Lucy
December 13, 1977

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, after the doubts and uncertainties of his youth, became first a fervent Anglican, then, by meditating and conversing with faithful Anglicans and studying, crossed over to the Catholic Church. He declared: "A church that wants to have authority must possess absolutely clear ideas when it comes to the great moral questions...it must say a yes or a no: but the Protestant churches are completely lost in the face of such moral questions...clarity and resolve before the powerful questions of modern life- I find them only in the Catholic Church; therefore I became Catholic." [5]

[Footnote]

[5] G.K. Chesterton to the Washington News Service, [1923. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the original English text.- Trans].

Also, speaking of John Paul I, as I've mentioned on this blog before, he once wrote a "letter" to Chesterton (as a literary form, of course, as GKC had been dead for decades when the "letter" was written). You can read it here:

http://chestertonandfriends.blogspot.com/2007/07/undelivered-mail.html

Friday, September 19, 2014

An extraordinary idea has arisen that the best critic of religious institutions is the man who talks coldly about Religion. Nobody supposes that the best critic of music is the man who talks coldly about music. Within reasonable bounds, the more excited the musician is about music, the more he is likely to be right about it. Nobody thinks a man a correct judge of poetry because he looks down on poems. But there is an idea that a man is a correct judge of religion because he looks down on religions. Now folklore and primitive faiths, and all such things are of the nature of music and poetry in this respect- that the actual language and symbols they employ require not only an understanding, they require what the Bible very finely calls an understanding heart. You must be a little moved in your emotions even to understand them at all; you must have a heart in order to make head or tail of them. Consequently, whenever I hear on these occasions that beliefs are being discussed scientifically and calmly, I know that they are being discussed wrong. Even a false religion is too genuine a thing to be discussed calmly.
-October 17, 1908, Illustrated London News

Saturday, September 13, 2014

On 15 July 1903 Lady Anne Ritchie, the eldest daughter of Thackeray, [author of Vanity Fair] wrote to Chesterton to say that she was 'much interested' by his book [on Robert Browning], 'which recalls dear Mr Browning so vividly to me', indeed 'instantaneously more vividly than my remembrances of him'.
-G.K. Chesterton: A Biography, Ian Ker (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Terry Pratchett on GKC

Some excerpts from a recent interview with Terry Pratchett in the New York Times Book Review

(H/T All Manner of Thing )
Sell us on your favorite overlooked or underappreciated writer. 

G. K. Chesterton. These days recognized — that is if he is recognized at all — as the man who wrote the Father Brown stories. My grandmother actually knew him quite well and pointed out that she herself lived on Chesterton Green in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, here in the U.K. And the man was so well venerated that on one memorable occasion, he was late in sending a piece to The Strand Magazine and a railway train actually waited at the local station until Mr. Chesterton had finished writing his piece. When she told me that, I thought, Blimey, now that is celebrity.

[...] If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? And the prime minister? 

Well, it would have to be "The Man Who Was Thursday." It’s a damn good read that I believe should be read by everyone in politics.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited? 

Mark Twain, G. K. Chesterton and Neil Gaiman, because he’s a mate who knows how to order the most excellent sushi.
At the beginning and at the end of all life, learned and ignorant, there is the abiding truth, that in the inmost theatre of the soul of man, with a scenery of bottomless infinities and appalling abstractions, there is always going forward one ancient mystery-play, in which there are only two characters.
-Feburary 9, 1901The Speaker

Monday, August 25, 2014

But I do definitely think that both sides, and perhaps especially the iconoclastic side, need what the whole modern world needs-- a fixed spiritual standard even for their own intellectual purposes. I might express it by saying that I am very fond of revolutionists, but not very fond of nihilists. For nihilists, as their name implies, have nothing to revolt about.
-The Thing (1929)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"[J.R.R.] Toliken loved GKC, but he hardly ever talked about him. He had used Chesterton's arguments to try to persuade [C.S.] Lewis to become Catholic, but at a certain point, Tolkien was content that Lewis had become such a strong Christian."

-Walter Hooper (secretary of C.S. Lewis) in an interview with Dale Ahlquist, which appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of Gilbert

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sleep

In theory, for example, sleep is a negative thing, a mere cessation of life. But nothing will persuade me that sleep is not really quite positive, some mysterious pleasure which is too perfect to be remembered. It must be some drawing on our divine energies, some forgotten refreshment at the ancient fountains of life. If this is not so, why do we cling to sleep when we have already had enough of it; why does waking up always seem like descending from heaven upon earth? I believe that sleep is a sacrament; or, what is the same thing,a food.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)
Yes, I've been gone for a while. I suppose I better start updating this blog again... :-)

Friday, July 4, 2014

"The more transcendental is your patriotism, the more practical are your politics."

The man who is most likely to ruin the place he loves is exactly the man who loves it with a reason. The man who will improve the place is the man who loves it without a reason. If a man loves some feature of Pimlico (which seems unlikely), he may find himself defending that feature against Pimlico itself. But if he simply loves Pimlico itself, he may lay it waste and turn it into the New Jerusalem. I do not deny that reform may be excessive; I only say that it is the mystic patriot who reforms [...] The more transcendental is your patriotism, the more practical are your politics."
-Orthodoxy (1908)

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Half the vices that exist are only unchecked virtues."

A letter Chesterton wrote to The Speaker

Patriotism and Ethics
  (June 1, 1901)

To the Editor of THE SPEAKER
 
Sir,—I am very grateful to Mr. Godard for the courteous letter in which he replies to my defence of the existence of patriotism as a virtue. The whole of his case appears to hang upon one idea, that because I and other reasonable people think that patriots are at present making fools of themselves therefore we ought to abandon altogether a virtue which we cannot permit to have full play. "To have to subdue or check an instinct lest it should lead to vice scarcely harmonises with the theory that it is a virtue." Now I should have thought that it harmonised extraordinarily well, for I know no virtue in the world that does not have to be subdued and checked. Why, half the vices that exist are only unchecked virtues. If a man had such love for his children that he forged bank notes to enrich them, he would be turning a virtue into a vice. If he was so courteous about the feelings of others that he perjured himself rather than distress the prisoner in the dock, he would be turning a virtue into a vice. If he had such reverence for his mother that he assisted her to commit murder, he would be turning a virtue into a vice. And as a matter of fact every virtue is turned into a vice by millions of silly people, just as patriotism is. Domestic love is made an excuse for swindling, purity for scandal-mongering, public spirit for private advancement. I do not, as Mr. Godard seems to think, choose solemnly between the ethical code and the patriotic code, not having the smallest notion what the latter thing may be. I simply rank my loyalty to my nation, along with that to my kind and my family, in its reasonable place in the ethical code itself. It is quite true that I admire patriotism because I think it ethical. The same applies to honesty.

I admit I cannot yet understand why I should accept Mr. Chamberlain's opinion, or the majority's opinion, about whether I am patriotic. No doubt they would say I am not patriotic; probably they would say that Mr. Godard was not ethical. Of course, the patriotism I think a virtue is my own patriotism, not that of Mr. Chamberlain. So it is with all virtues. It is my own honesty I think right, not the honesty of Highland cattle-lifters; it is my own chastity I think right, not the chastity incumbent on the Grand Turk. Every virtue has its varieties and its irregular history. As to Mr. Chamberlain and his "patriots," I can only say that I detest them primarily because I am a patriot and they are ruining my fatherland.

One word as to the Boers. I repeat that I cannot imagine any decent man doing what the Boers are doing, continuing a sanguinary struggle, unless he was fighting for a virtue. "I sympathise with the Boers, not because they are patriots," says Mr. Godard, "but because independence is a thing to be prized, because liberty is a jewel to be guarded." Surely neither Mr. Godard nor any Liberal can really mean that the Boers had some secret of political perfection, that the government of President Kruger was so full of recondite joys and beauties that a person would be wrong to permit it to be altered at any cost. If, on the other hand, he means by "liberty" the independence of the fatherland, then I entirely agree with him. But in that case he does sympathise with the Boers because they are patriots. To sum up, I think Mr. Godard imagines that when I say patriotism is a virtue I mean that patriotism is virtue. I refer it and everything else to a test of universal good. Only I happen to find that it passes the test with honours.— Yours, &c., G.K.C

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It is, needless to say, nearly a year old, but a video by "Rome Reports" on Chesterton's cause

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7OyI-jTRpc

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"A man who really resented the income-tax...might amuse himself, not by giving short, evasive answers, as such malcontents do, but by giving true but interminably long answers."

[An interesting idea....lol. Sorry, just found this passage amusing.] 

It is true, as everyone is saying, that the official inquiry [concerning the income tax] is far more stringent and irritating than it was; but it is not quite fair to state that fact alone. If the system of inquisition is carried very far, it is also true that the system of exemptions is carried very far also. What is increased both by inquisition and exemption is the official's knowledge of the citizen's private affairs. The modern tax-gatherers ask for so much because of the private fact that a surgeon got a very big fee. But they are willing to give part of it back for the sake of another private fact-  that he went to earn it in a motor-car. I do not discuss here whether the change is good or bad; I only say that an honest man who confesses all his windfalls and claims all his exemptions has provided the government with something like a small volume of autobiography.

In fact, it would be rather fun to treat it like that. A man who really resented the income-tax (which I do not) might amuse himself, not by giving short, evasive answers, as such malcontents do, but by giving true but interminably long answers. There is always a complication of purely personal reasons why this or that is convenient to a man in his trade. A pony-cart or a telephone might be made the subject-matter of pages of rich prose. In my own trade, in particular, there are real difficulties in deciding what is and is not necessary to a purely professional activity. Let all these difficulties be set out, pro and con, in a document of somewhat the weight and length of the manuscript of a three-volume novel. It is certain that, except for certain circumstances, there might be a worse article, or an unsaleable article, or no article. Let all those circumstances be set down with a literary and lavish hand. I like to think of the face of an Income-Tax Commissioner, as he opens an appeal against the assessment, and reads some item like this: "Five shillings for hansom-cab driving the necessary number of times round Barnes Common. This item may surprise the Commissioners, and, indeed, it is impossible that they should realise how indispensable it was for literary industry, unless they realise the atmosphere of the occasion. The sun had just set, or rather, had just vanished- for a low hedge of soft-hued but heavy clouds completed and, as it were, fortified the horizon; the air, though not without a certain still coolness, seemed to call aloud for some more exhilirant, etc. etc." It would go on for some pages, and prove triumphantly that the result had been a article sold for three guineas instead of two. If the official turned with some impatience to another item, it would be "Fare to Tunbridge Wells. It is here necessary to explain that I was in love at the time, and had a chance of marrying, if I could satisfy the Editor of the New Nonconformist with an article on 'Passion versus Platonic Love.' I was not deceived in my expectation that a renewed glimpse of Aglavaine would raise my literary powers to the highest purchasing point. By a contrast, which in any other woman might have seemed bizarre, her hair and eyes..." And so on, and so on.

I fancy those who are really in revolt against the Income-Tax Commissioners might cause them quite a lot of annoyance in that way. But I shall not join them, having other revolutions on hand.
-April 12, 1913, Illustrated London News

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The most important sort of knowledge is to know which things are worth knowing
-quoted in this article

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It is obvious enough that whitewashing a man is quite the opposite of washing him white.  The curious thing is that people often try to whitewash a man, and fail, when it might be possible to wash him, and to some limited extent, succeed.  The real story, if the culprit only had the courage to tell it, would often be much more human and pardonable than the stiff suspicious fiction that he tells instead.  Many a public man, I fancy, has tried to conceal the crime and only succeeded in concealing the excuse [. . .] If we had the key of their souls we might come upon virtues quite unexpected — or at least upon vices more generous.  In many a complex human scandal, I fancy, the first real slander is the acquittal.
-The Common Man (1950)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It is plainer still in more popular problems like Free Will. If St. Thomas stands for one thing more than another, it is what may be called subordinate sovereignties or autonomies. He was, if the flippancy may be used, a strong Home Ruler. We might even say he was always defending the independence of dependent things. He insisted that such a thing could have its own rights in its own region. It was his attitude to the Home Rule of the reason and even the senses; "Daughter am I in my father's house; but mistress in my own." And in exactly this sense he emphasised a certain dignity in Man, which was sometimes rather swallowed up in the purely theistic generalisations about God. Nobody would say he wanted to divide Man from God; but he did want to distinguish Man from God. In this strong sense of human dignity and liberty there is much that can be and is appreciated now as a noble humanistic liberality. But let us not forget that its upshot was that very Free Will, or moral responsibility of Man, which so many modern liberals would deny. Upon this sublime and perilous liberty hang heaven and hell, and all the mysterious drama of the soul. It is distinction and not division; but a man can divide himself from God, which, in a certain aspect, is the greatest distinction of all.
-St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox (1933)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kidnapping Chesterton

From an Interview with Neil Gaiman

"When you're 11, walking home from school through this strange little English landscape, running these weird, wonderful things through your head ... well, now this is one of those 'I've never told anybody this before' things," Gaiman says conspiratorially, "but here we go:

 "My worst fantasy was a really cool one. I got to kidnap all of the authors whose work I liked, living and dead -- I got to go 'round and round up G.K. Chesterton and Geoffrey Chaucer and all of these guys. Then I got to lock them in an enormous castle and make them collaborate on these huge-plot books. And I would tell them what the plots were.
"I was about 10 years old. And I plotted this 12-volume giant epic about these people going off to collect these rocks from all over the universe.
"As daydreams go, it says an awful lot about me as a young man: I wasn't confident enough about my ability to come up with stories. I was coming up with this huge, intricate story in order to justify in my daydreams of creating stories."

http://edition.cnn.com/2001/CAREER/jobenvy/10/04/author.neil.gaiman/index.html

Friday, May 30, 2014

Robert E. Howard on GKC

Interesting.

A while back, I found on the Wikiquote page dealing with Chesterton the following concerning Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian)
___________________

American author, poet, and widely-know pulp magazine "fictioneer" Robert E. Howard was much impressed by Chesterton's "The Ballad of the White Horse." In a letter to his friend Tevis Clyde Smith, dated 6 August 1926 [when Howard was 20], he writes: "

  • There is great poetry being written now. G.K. Chesterton, for instance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The historian has a habit of saying of people in the past: "I think they may well be considered worthy of praise, allowing for the ideas of their time." There will never be really good history until the historian says, "I think they were worthy of praise, allowing for the ideas of my time...

...the historian ought to be made to understand that his day is only a day. He is apt to treat it as if it were a day of judgment. We all have a little weakness, which is very natural but rather misleading, for supposing that this epoch must be the end of the world because it will be the end of us. How future generations will get on without us is indeed, when we come to think of it, quite a puzzle. But I suppose they will get on somehow, and may possibly venture to revise our judgments as we have revised earlier judgments.
-August 15, 1925, Illustrated London News

Monday, May 26, 2014

The final objection to what is called "peace at any price" is simply that we should pay the price and not get the peace
-Chesterton's Introduction to Practical Pacifism and Its Adversaries: "Is it Peace, Jehu" (by Severin Nordentoft)
In a sense...war is a sacred thing. It is the ultimate, which should not even be named except in an atmosphere purified from every breath of frivolity or malice....A man has only one life, and he can do nothing so solemn as to stake it for an object he thinks worthy. The worst infamy of Jingoism is that it has encouraged an idle theatrical way of looking at this sacrifice, as if a man had nine lives, like a cat....Indeed, both the cross and the sword are in the same relation to mankind: they are horrible and ungainly tools, made beautiful by the vast and subversive power of human love. Nothing more intrinsically repulsive can be thought of than nailing a man to a wooden stake. Nothing more hideous can be conceived than violently disorganisjng his anatomy with an iron spike called a sword. But the transformation which pity and self-sacrifice has made even in the bodily aspect of these objects is one of the most gigantic of the triumphs of man’s moral imagination.... But these symbols are reverenced because they are rare; because they represent a terrible wager possible only in the last resort. The curse of Jingo poetry is that it makes an unreal and fashionable thing of the appeal by battle. Can anyone conceive a more appalling pantomime than a fashion of being crucified ?
-June 1, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"It is heroic poetry that is like life.."

It is a part of that pitiful modern notion, unknown to all the great literatures of the world, that a scrap or two of actual detail, the literal symptoms which appear in conversation or action, are the things that are “like life.”

Life is within: a mass of towering emotions and untranslatable secrets. It is heroic poetry that is like life, that attunes itself to this terrible orchestra, that lets our life rush out like the gas out of a balloon. An ordinary modern man shaking with righteous anger against a fool or a tyrant might, as a matter of fact, only stammer out some such fatuous and trivial protest....But that has nothing to do with his “life.” He would curse like Homer if he could.

There are few things, therefore, that we should more seriously protest against than an attempt to translate a monumental poem from the language of the passions which is song, to the vast system of verbal ritual which is called casual conversation. If this were done with some other piece of haunting simplicity, let us say the immortal vow of Ruth—if “thy people shall be my people ” were to become “I will try and get on with your set,” and “thy God my God,” “church or chapel, I don’t mind,” the effect would not be more human and familiar, but less so. The “realist” seems unable to grasp (being a person of no genial arrogance) that there are things that lose everything in merely losing size. It is as if a cockney put in his front garden a miniature model of St. Peter’s, all the proportions being correct.
-January 19, 1901, The Speaker

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"[St. Francis] had far too much love of each single thing to have any vulgar love of Nature."

Francis was extraordinary in this truer and higher sense, that he was one of those men who arise with an absolutely original vision of things inside their heads, who create the only indestructible thing—an atmosphere. With each of such men there is truly made a new heaven and a new earth, for they do not see the heaven and the earth that others see. If Buddha, Plato and St. Francis had looked at the same tree they would have been standing in three different worlds. Buddha would have seen in the tree a gross embodiment in which a celestial force was immured, a spirit in a disgraceful incognito. Plato would have seen it as the shadow of a perfect tree existing in the ideal world. Francis would have seen it simply as “Brother Tree,” an individual neighbour in the parish of the Cosmos, a silent but amusing companion, a man, as it were, with green hair and one leg. The whole conception was founded, of course, on the Christian doctrine of the great Father whose memory was an unending chronicle, in which the name of every stone or weed was clearly written. But he gave to the doctrine an individual turn of extraordinary beauty and humour by this notion of finding gossips and kinsfolk everywhere in the grotesque camaraderie of the woods and hills. His “Brother Wolf ” and “Sister Lark” have in reality as much in common with the “Brer Wolf ” and “Sis Cow ” of Uncle Remus as with any mere pantheistic philosophy. He had far too much love of each single thing to have any vulgar love of Nature.
-December 1, 1900, The Speaker

Monday, May 19, 2014

Above all we can have no sympathy whatever with that far older and idler pessimism which makes capital out of the disproportions of the cosmos. The size of the fixed stars no more makes us insignificant than the size of the animalculae makes us divine. The beauty of life is in itself and is as indestructible whether it lasts as long as a planet or as long as a violin solo.
-January 19, 1901, The Speaker

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It seemed somehow that politicians were very important. And yet, anything seemed important about them except their politics.
-The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Speaker Articles Index

Articles for The Speaker

Below are links to the articles and other pieces that Chesterton wrote for The Speaker. In all, I have found 112 pieces (including 12 poems and 3 letters). I believe that I have included all that he wrote for that paper, but I could have overlooked some.

I have decided to also include those which were later reprinted in books and already available online (such as in The Defendant and Twelve Types, etc.) for two reasons. First, for the sake of completeness, but also for the fact that for some of them, there are some differences between the original article, and the form it took when published in a book. (For instance, his article "St. Francis of Assisi" of December 1, 1900 has a passage not included when it was reprinted in Twelve Types.). For any such articles, after the title I include in brackets the book it was later reprinted in (sometimes with alterations, as mentioned above), if I am aware of it.

Please forgive any typos in the pieces.

Also, if you wish for these pieces as a printed book, you can go here

Sunday, April 27, 2014

P.D. James on GKC

Chesterton never wrote an inelegant or clumsy sentence. The Father Brown stories are brilliantly written in a style richly complex, imaginative, vigorous, poetic, and spiced with paradoxes. He was an artist as well as a writer and he sees life with an artist's eye. He wanted his readers to share that poetic vision, to see the romance and numinousness in commonplace things.
-P.D. James, Introduction to Father Brown: The Essential Tales (Modern Library Classics)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Humanity never produces optimists till it has ceased to produce happy men."

I know it is all very strange. From the height of eight hundred years ago, or of eight hundred years hence, our age must look incredibly odd. We call the twelfth century ascetic. We call our own time hedonist and full of praise and pleasure. But in the ascetic age the love of life was evident and enormous, so that it had to be restrained. In an hedonist age pleasure has always sunk low, so that it has to be encouraged. How high the sea of human happiness rose in the Middle Ages, we now only know by the colossal walls that they built to keep it in bounds. How low human happiness sank in the twentieth century our children will only know by these extraordinary modern books, which tell people that it is a duty to be cheerful and that life is not so bad after all. Humanity never produces optimists till it has ceased to produce happy men. It is strange to be obliged to impose a holiday like a fast, and to drive men to a banquet with spears. But this shall be written of our time: that when the spirit who denies besieged the last citadel, blaspheming life itself, there were some, there was one especially, whose voice was heard and whose spear was never broken."

-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

H/T to G.K. Chesterton Facebook page

Friday, April 25, 2014

Miners

Today I found this article that GKC wrote in 1901 for The Speaker about a mine disaster that had occurred in that year. It includes a great tribute to miners, and living in Eastern Kentucky, it seems something that many of my friends around here would no doubt appreciate, so I have decided to post the full article on here.

"Rich [Mullins] once literally forced me to read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton."

Rich [Mullins] once literally forced me to read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. I vividly remember him sitting across from me while I read the first chapter, craning his neck to see what page I was on, fidgeting in excitement and anticipation, hardly able to contain himself. I was rather self-consciously aware that he was studying my face, waiting for my reaction when I got to the good parts. Within the first few lines of chapter I, Chesterton explains that Orthodoxy was written as an answer to a critic who had challenged him to support his ideas and explain his philosphy. "It was perhaps an incautious suggestion," Chesterton says of the critic's challenge, "to make to a person only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation." Rich waited impatiently for me to read that line and then roared it out loud- "only too ready to write books upon the feeblest provocation!"- and slapped his knee as he relished a favorite punch line.
-Wrestling with Angels: Adventures in Faith and Doubt, Carolyn Arends, p. 39 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"...the superiority that is based upon mere century...is the most snobbish of all."

Among the intellectual habits of Mr. Dadson which put me into some antagonism with him at the start, may be placed foremost that singular superstition of progress which supposes that the twentieth century has some kind of inevitable and talismanic superiority to the tenth. I cannot see that fatalism is rendered any the better for being optimistic fatalism. There is a snobbish superiority which is based on rank, another that is based on wealth, but I honestly think that the superiority that is based upon mere century, upon a handful of historical dates, is the most snobbish of all.
-July 27, 1901, The Speaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"The small man believes in the cleverness of his utterances, the great man believes in their obviousness."

And there is nothing more characteristic of the really great men of history than that they treated the average man as a man who would naturally understand their gospel. The small man believes in the cleverness of his utterances, the great man believes in their obviousness. By the divine paradox of things it is always the superior man who believes in equality. To take the loftiest of all examples, no one can read the great sayings of the New Testament without feeling that they are dominated by an appeal to a cosmic common sense. Their characteristic note is a reasonable surprise. "What man of you having a hundred sheep-"; "What man of you, having a son-"- these are the utterances of a Dvine equality.
-April 12, 1902, The Speaker

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"The abstract is the symbol of the concrete"

But he is enslaved by the one great fallacy of the mystics, that mysticism, religion and poetry have to do with the abstract. Thinkers of Mr. Waite’s school have a tendency to believe that the concrete is the symbol of the abstract. The truth, the truth at the root of all true mysticism, is quite the other way. The abstract is the symbol of the concrete. This may possibly seem at first sight a paradox; but it is a purely transcendental truth. We see a green tree; it is the green tree which we cannot understand; it is the green tree which we fear; it is the green tree which we worship. Then because there are so many green trees, so many men, so many elephants, so many butterflies, so many daisies, so many animalculae, we coin a general term “Life.” And then the mystic comes and says that a green tree symbolises Life. It is not so. Life symbolises a green tree. Just in so far as we get into the abstract, we get away from the reality, we get away from the mystery, we get away from the tree. And this is the reason that so many transcendental discourses are merely blank and tedious to us, because they have to do with Truth and Beauty, and the Destiny of the Soul, and all the great, faint, faded symbols of the reality. And this is why all poetry is so interesting to us, because it has to do with skies, with woods, with battles, with temples, with women and with wine, with the ultimate miracles which no philosopher could create. The difference between the concrete and the abstract is the difference between the country and the town. God made the concrete, but man made the abstract. A truthful man is a miracle, but the truth is a commonplace.
-May 31, 1902, The Speaker

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Happiness in this den of oppression has to be rebuked like a mob riot. Misery, in this vale of misery, has to be preached like a curious piece of refinement."

Once there was a decadent who expressed all the views of his school about Dickens by waving his hands in the air lightly and saying, “a vulgar optimist.” The phrase is a common one, and he would no doubt have preferred an uncommon phrase. But though he did not know it, he was in truth uttering a paradox more brilliant than all those of his school, a paradox in two words and a paradox justifying and exalting all the things they both detested—the unwise, the ordinary life, the ignorant and the mob. For what a concentrated and startling notion is packed into the phrase “a vulgar optimist.” Of all queer things in a queer world this surely is the queerest, that "optimism" should be “vulgar.” In an old and sad and enigmatic world in which burdens lie heavy upon all and especially heavy upon the majority, in which only a few have ever attained to leisure or self-culture, in which the overwhelming mass has toiled desperately between the breast and the grave from the beginning of time—it is yet the sublime riddle that a cheerful philosophy is not derided as insane, but simply despised as common-place. A rich and elegant class look down at optimism, and what they have to complain of is that it is too widespread; they look down at the wretched toilers, and what they have to complain of is that they are too “jolly.” Happiness in this den of oppression has to be rebuked like a mob riot. Misery, in this vale of misery, has to be preached like a curious piece of refinement.

There is that about the human race that makes us feel that it has never done exactly as it should have done on rationalistic lines. There are instances of this too numerous to detail, but they keep strong that dark doubt of rationalism, that revolt below a revolt, which is so characteristic of this time. One would think, for instance, that primitive people would have been materialistic, would have sharpened and perfected the tools that conquer the earth and the foods that fill the belly. Instead of that we find that they were idiots at practical matters, but made themselves really remarkable by singing the most exquisite poems and starting the deepest arguments about metaphysics. One would think that early poems, however vigorous, would be coarse and lustful ; instead of that, barbaric literature, like the Iliad, is generally very pure, and civilised literature, like the Arabian Nights, full of a revolting candour. And whatever one might think would ever happen to be said against optimism, nobody could possibly have imagined, in the abstract, that it would be called vulgar. One would have imagined that whatever there was to say against the world would be said by the poor and the coerced; that whatever there was to say for it would be said by the prosperous and the free. But in this divine topsy-turvydom in which we live the very reverse has been the fact. Of the pessimists, the great majority have been aristocrats, like Byron or Swinburne. Of the optimists, the vast majority have risen, like Dickens, from the people.
-July 18, 1903, The Speaker

Friday, March 21, 2014

Despite being gone for Lent, I did wish to make a blog post simply to include a GKC essay. I am unaware of it elsewhere on the Internet, but I wished to share it with a friend, so I typed it up for my friend and, in the process, I decided to include it here as well.

"A Charge of Irreverence", written in 1906
(from Lunacy and Letters, collection of GKC essays published in 1958)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One last post before I'm gone for Lent, giving a link to an interesting article.

GK Chesterton 'breaks mould of conventional holiness,' says Cause investigator

An excerpt
The priest investigating whether G K Chesterton’s Cause should be opened has hailed the writer as “potentially a huge model” for the Church who “breaks the mould of conventional holiness”.

Canon John Udris said Chesterton, a married layman who “liked his beer and Burgundy”, was not conventionally devout and could show Catholics “you don’t have to say your rosary every five minutes to be holy”.

Instead, Fr Udris suggested, Chesterton’s holiness could be found in his humour, his charity and his humility. His defence of the faith in particular, Fr Udris said, was a model for Catholics.

“People he would have fierce public debates with felt respected by him, loved by him, even if they didn’t agree with him,” he said, citing his exchanges with atheist opponents H G Wells and George Bernard Shaw.

Fr Udris was appointed by Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton last September to investigate the possibility of opening Chesterton’s Cause.

The appointment came after it emerged that Pope Francis had been a member of the Chesterton Society in Argentina and had approved a prayer for his beatification.

Fr Udris, now spiritual director at St Mary’s seminary in Oscott, Birmingham, used to be parish priest at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where Chesterton died in 1936.

He said he expected to submit a dossier to Bishop Peter Doyle after a year or more of investigation. He said it would not be up to him to recommend whether to open the Cause, but added that “it will probably be obvious where I stand”.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I know I haven't been posting much of late, and I also will not be posting during Lent. Once Easter comes, I plan on resuming regular posting, however.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sincerity

What convinces mankind of a man's sincerity is this: that every now and then he should go with his principle and against his feelings. Sincerity can be shown in surrender, if it is self-surrender. For instance, a despotist is not necessarily honest because he praises the King; but he probably is honest if he blames the King--and obeys him. He shows that it is for his theory he cares, and not for himself. Or, again, a man is not necessarily democratic because he can call up the people to support him. But he is democratic if he calls up the people to oppose him. A man who gives votes to a class that will probably vote against him certainly believes in popular government. A vegetarian who hates meat is not so serious as a vegetarian who loves meat.
-October 12, 1907, Illustrated London News
H/T to this blog

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On most political platforms, in most newspapers and magazines, I observe that there are at present only two ideas, either to avoid controversy or to conduct it by mere bluff and noise.
-December 12, 1908, Daily News

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Neil Gaiman famously attributed this quote to G.K. Chesterton in the beginning of his novel Coraline
Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten
I had been unable to locate that quote in those exact words in Chesterton's works; however, it had been suggested by others that he was paraphrasing this passage from Tremendous Trifles found here

That seemed to me the most likely possibility (though I could never discount the possibility that perhaps it had been an exact quote. Chesterton had in other cases expressed ideas that were similar in content, yet still in slightly different words, on different occasions, after all. So it was always possible that was the case here, and that I had simply not found the version Gaiman was referring to- Chesterton has plenty of work that still hasn't made it online, of course, in which it might conceivably have been found.)

As it turns out, though, the speculations were correct, and Gaiman was paraphrasing Chesterton. He explains in this post here what occurred:

http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/42909304300/my-moms-a-librarian-and-planning-to-put-literary

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"...this clumsy collision of two very impatient forms of ignorance was known as the quarrel of Science and Religion."

For instance, in the matter of the inspiration of Scripture, [St. Thomas Aquinas] fixed first on the obvious fact, which was forgotten by four furious centuries of sectarian battle, that the meaning of Scripture is very far from self-evident and that we must often interpret it in the light of other truths. If a literal interpretation is really and flatly contradicted by an obvious fact, why then we can only say that the literal interpretation must be a false interpretation. But the fact must really be an obvious fact. And unfortunately, nineteenth century scientists were just as ready to jump to the conclusion that any guess about nature was an obvious fact, as were seventeenth-century sectarians to jump to the conclusion that any guess about Scripture was the obvious explanation. Thus, private theories about what the Bible ought to mean, and premature theories about what the world ought to mean, have met in loud and widely advertised controversy, especially in the Victorian time; and this clumsy collision of two very impatient forms of ignorance was known as the quarrel of Science and Religion.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1933)

Monday, January 27, 2014

In practical politics the survival of the fittest frequently means only the survival of the fussiest.
-August 8, 1925, Illustrated London News

Friday, January 24, 2014

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.
-November 6, 1920, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The highest outcome of an interest in literature is a finer interest in life...
-October 9, 1920, Illustrated London News

Monday, January 20, 2014

"All this being stated....to the credit of Mr. Brooks, I hope there will be no ill-feeling if I state...that he ought to be shot as a traitor.

I know nothing of Mr. Sydney Brooks, except that he has written one article which was good, and two novels that are possibly better. He is certainly a sincere observer and sometimes a true one—though it is not at all the same thing.- I am practically certain (reading between the lines) that he had no motive lower than the just love and laudation of the country to which he and I belong. His patriotism is sound and even his jingoism is sincere. All this being stated, and stated seriously, to the credit of Mr. Brooks, I hope there will be no ill-feeling if I state, equally seriously, that he ought to be shot as a traitor.

Let me explain. The great and real fun of growing old is that the world grows young. Especially in this: that the truisms all begin to come true. And this again is especially true of a thing we have all known ad nauseam: that excess in any indulgence is suicidal and destroys itself. Thus we have all heard that the drunkard is a nuisance to the moderate drinker: that the fanatic troubles true religion: and, in the same way, that the Jingo or Chauvinist or Spread-Eagle Patriot is really the worst enemy of patriotism. But in our youth we always fancied it was merely a matter of degree. We were under the delusion that a drunkard was a man who drank too much. We fancied a fanatic was one who believed in heaven too much. And in the same way we thought a swaggering patriot was one who cared rather too much for his country.

It is not so. There is much more than this in the conception of mortal sin; of the excess that turns and strikes and kills the very soul that is driving it on. Drunkenness is not only the enemy of‘sobriety. Drunkenness is quite literally the enemy of drink. The sole meaning, the sole justification, of festive fermented liquor is that it is meant for feasts; for certain hours of the day or occasions of the national custom. To extend it over all hours of the day is to abolish it. You veto a luxury by making it a necessity as much as by making it a crime. It was the pleasure of the Deity, at a high feast, to turn water into wine. It is the daily business of the dipsomaniac to turn wine into water...

I have taken these cases, the drunkard who destroys drink, the fanatic who destroys faith, merely to show that I do solidly and universally mean what I say, when I say that such English Jingoes as Mr. Sydney Brooks may very soon destroy England. He is not belauding or belittling his country; he is simply betraying her. By writing an article like “The Conquering English,” he is, quite literally, preparing the earliest possible opportunity for writing a second article called “The Conquered English.” Patriotism cannot afford jingoism just now: it is a luxury for times of peace; and this is a time of peril...
-extracted from an article by Chesterton that appeared in The World To-Day, volume 23 (January 1913-June 1913)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"...the pure Conservative and the pure Progressive; two figures which would have been overwhelmed with laughter by any other intellectual commonwealth of history."

Towards the end of the nineteenth century there appeared...the pure Conservative and the pure Progressive; two figures which would have been overwhelmed with laughter by any other intellectual commonwealth of history.  There was hardly a human generation which could not have seen the folly of merely going forward or merely standing still; of mere progressing or mere conserving. In the coarsest Greek Comedy we might have a joke about a man who wanted to keep what he had, whether it was yellow gold or yellow fever. In the dullest mediaeval morality we might have a joke about a progressive gentleman who, having passed heaven and come to purgatory, decided to go further and fare worse...The old reformers and the old despots alike desired definite things, powers, licenses, payments, vetoes, and permissions. Only the modern progressive and the modern conservative have been content with two words.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)
...we are not getting the best out of men. We are certainly not getting the most individual or the most interesting qualities out of men. And it is doubtful whether we ever shall, until we shut off this deafening din of megaphones that drowns their voices, this deathly glare of limelight which kills the colours of their complexions, this plangent yell of platitudes which stuns and stops their minds. All this sort of thing is killing thoughts as they grow, as a great white death-ray might kill plants as they grow.
-The Outline of Sanity (1926)
History says nothing; and legends all say that the earth was kinder in its earliest time. There is no tradition of progress; but the whole human race has a tradition of the Fall. Amusingly enough, indeed, the very dissemination of this idea is used against its authenticity. Learned men literally say that this pre-historic calamity cannot be true because every race of mankind remembers it. I cannot keep pace with these paradoxes.
-Orthodoxy (1908)

Friday, January 17, 2014

From The Oxford Companion to Charles Dickens:
The greatest of all Dickens critics, G.K. Chesterton, emerged just after the turn of the century, in a number of writings, most notably in Charles Dickens (1906) and introductions to the Everyman edition of the novels, collected as Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911). Responsive to the humour, humanity, and fecundity of Dickens, Chesterton's exhilarating (and sometimes maddening) reliance on paradox sheds light on innumerable complexities of Dicken's art. Celebrating his characters as 'timeless gods' who inhabit not novels but a 'mythology', Chesterton overturns the narrow strictures of realism by insisting that Dicken's art makes things 'seem more actual than things really are'.
That is what is meant by publicity- a voice loud enough to drown any remarks made by the public.
The Outline of Sanity (1926)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book, and the tired man who wants a book to read."

There is one aspect of Charles Dickens which must be of interest even to that subterranean race which does not admire his books. Even if we are not interested in Dickens as a great event in English literature, we must still be interested in him as a great event in English history. If he had not his place with Fielding and Thackeray, he would still have his place with Wat Tyler and Wilkes; for the man led a mob. He did what no English statesman, perhaps, has really done; he called out the people. He was popular in a sense of which we moderns have not even a notion. In that sense there is no popularity now. There are no popular authors to-day. We call such authors as Mr. Guy Boothby or Mr. William Le Queux popular authors. But this is popularity altogether in a weaker sense; not only in quantity, but in quality. The old popularity was positive; the new is negative. There is a great deal of difference between the eager man who wants to read a book, and the tired man who wants a book to read. A man reading a Le Queux mystery wants to get to the end of it. A man reading the Dickens novel wished that it might never end. Men read a Dickens story six times because they knew it so well. If a man can read a Le Queux story six times it is only because he can forget it six times. In short, the Dickens novel was popular not because it was an unreal world, but because it was a real world; a world in which the soul could live. The modern "shocker" at its very best is an interlude in life. But in the days when Dickens's work was coming out in serial, people talked as if real life were itself the interlude between one issue of "Pickwick" and another.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

William James, after reading Chesterton's book Charles Dickens:
O, Chesterton, but you're a darling! I've just read your Dickens—it's as good as Rabelais. Thanks!
(quoted in Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maisie Ward

Monday, January 13, 2014

"...this is only one example out of many of the fallacy I mean- that an argument is supposed to become grotesque merely because it comes to grips with its subject."

December 4, 1920, Illustrated London News
 _______

There is a funny little fallacy on the subject of being funny. A man is supposed to be making a fool of himself when he is rather making a fool of his opponent upon his opponent's own principles. Those of us who have learned geometry in the old textbook of Euclid are familiar with the idea of a reductio ad absurdum; but many of us are quite surprised to find it is absurd. And we often do not seem to realise that what is absurd is the absurdity, and not the argument that points out the absurdity.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"...if we build our palace on some unknown wrong it turns very slowly into our prison. Macbeth at the end of the play is not merely a wild beast; he is a caged wild beast."

Before we talk then of the lesson of a great work of art, let us realize that it has a different lesson for different ages, because it is itself eternal. And let us realize that such a lesson will be in our own day not absolute but suited to the particular vices or particular misfortunes of that day. We are not in any danger at the moment of the positive and concrete actions which correspond to those of Macbeth. The good old habit of murdering kings (which was the salvation of so many commonwealths in the past) has fallen into desuetude. The idea of such a play must be for us (and for our sins) more subtle. The idea is more subtle but it is almost inexpressibly great. Let us before reading the play consider if only for a moment what is the main idea of Macbeth for modern men.

One great idea on which all tragedy builds is the idea of the continuity of human life. The one thing a man cannot do is exactly what all modern artists and free lovers are always trying to do. He cannot cut his life up into separate sections. The case of the modern claim for freedom in love is the first and most obvious that occurs to the mind; therefore I use it for this purpose of illustration. You cannot have an idyll with Maria and an episode with Jane; there is no such thing as an episode. There is no such thing as an idyll. It is idle to talk about abolishing the tragedy of marriage when you cannot abolish the tragedy of sex. Every flirtation is a marriage; it is a marriage in this frightful sense; that it is irrevocable. I have taken this case of sexual relations as one out of a hundred; but of any case in human life the thing is true. The basis of all tragedy is that man lives a coherent and continuous life. It is only a worm that you can cut in two and leave the severed parts still alive. You can cut a worm up into episodes and they are still living episodes. You can cut a worm up into idylls and they are quite brisk and lively idylls. You can do all this to him precisely because he is a worm. You cannot cut a man up and leave him kicking, precisely because he is a man. We know this because man even in his lowest and darkest manifestation has always this characteristic of physical and psychological unity. His identity continues long enough to see the end of many of his own acts; he cannot be cut off from his past with a hatchet; as he sows so shall he reap.

This then is the basis of all tragedy, this living and perilous continuity which does not exist in the lower creatures. This is the basis of all tragedy, and this is certainly the basis of Macbeth. The great ideas of Macbeth, uttered in the first few scenes with a tragic energy which has never been equalled perhaps in Shakespeare or out of him, is the idea of the enormous mistake a man makes if he supposes that one decisive act will clear his way. Macbeth's ambition, though selfish and someway sullen, is not in itself criminal or morbid. He wins the title of Glamis in honourable war; he deserves and gets the title of Cawdor; he is rising in the world and has a not ignoble exhilaration in doing so. Suddenly a new ambition is presented to him (of the agency and atmosphere which presents it I shall speak in a moment) and he realizes that nothing lies across his path to the Crown of Scotland except the sleeping body of Duncan. If he does that one cruel thing, he can be infinitely kind and happy.

Here, I say, is the first and most formidable of the great actualities of Macbeth. You cannot do a mad thing in order to reach sanity. Macbeth's mad resolve is not a cure even for his own irresolution. He was indecisive before his decision. He is, if possible, more indecisive after he has decided. The crime does not get rid of the problem. Its effect is so bewildering that one may say that the crime does not get rid of the temptation. Make a morbid decision and you will only become more morbid; do a lawlesss thing and you will only get into an atmosphere much more suffocating than that of law. Indeed, it is a mistake to speak of a man as `breaking out.' The lawless man never breaks out; he breaks in. He smashes a door and finds himself in another room, he smashes a wall and finds himself in a yet smaller one. The more he shatters the more his habitation shrinks. Where he ends you may read in the end of Macbeth.

For us moderns, therefore, the first philosophical significance of the play is this; that our life is one thing and that our lawless acts limit us; every time we break a law we make a limitation. In some strange way hidden in the deeps of human psychology, if we build our palace on some unknown wrong it turns very slowly into our prison. Macbeth at the end of the play is not merely a wild beast; he is a caged wild beast.
-The Spice of Life
(collection of essays published posthumously in 1964)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men."

For this reason England, like every other great and historic nation, has sought its typical hero in remote and ill-recorded times. The personal and moral greatness of Alfred is, indeed, beyond question. It does not depend any more than the greatness of any other human hero upon the accuracy of any or all of the stories that are told about him. Alfred may not have done one of the things which are reported of him, but it is immeasurably easier to do every one of those things than to be the man of whom such things are reported falsely. Fable is, generally speaking, far more accurate than fact, for fable describes a man as he was to his own age, fact describes him as he is to a handful of inconsiderable antiquarians many centuries after [...] Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men. If we read of a man who could make green grass red and turn the sun into the moon, we may not believe these particular details about him, but we learn something infinitely more important than such trivialities, the fact that men could look into his face and believe it possible. The glory and greatness of Alfred, therefore, is like that of all the heroes of the morning of the world, set far beyond the chance of that strange and sudden dethronement which may arise from the unsealing of a manuscript or the turning over of a stone. Men may have told lies when they said that he first entrapped the Danes with his song and then overcame them with his armies, but we know very well that it is not of us that such lies are told. There may be myths clustering about each of our personalities [...] But they do not commonly lie to the effect that we have shed our blood to save all the inhabitants of the street. A story grows easily, but a heroic story is not a very easy thing to evoke. Wherever that exists we may be pretty certain that we are in the presence of a dark but powerful historic personality. We are in the presence of a thousand lies all pointing with their fantastic fingers to one undiscovered truth.
-Varied Types (1905)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"It is not only necessary that the democracy should be taught; it is also necessary that the democracy should be taught democracy."

It is singular that Dickens, who was not only a radical and a social reformer, but one who would have been particularly concerned to maintain the principle of modern popular education, should nevertheless have seen so clearly this potential evil in the mere educationalism of our time -- the fact that merely educating the democracy may easily mean setting to work to despoil it of all the democratic virtues. It is better to be Lizzie Hexam and not know how to read and write than to be Charlie Hexam and not know how to appreciate Lizzie Hexam. It is not only necessary that the democracy should be taught; it is also necessary that the democracy should be taught democracy. Otherwise it will certainly fall a victim to that snobbishness and system of worldly standards which is the most natural and easy of all the forms of human corruption. This is one of the many dangers which Dickens saw before it existed. Dickens was really a prophet; far more of a prophet than Carlyle.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"...those most virile and creative hopes which we call resolutions."

The truisms are all true; and the passing of Christmas and the approach of the New Year are rightly made a measure of progress, or, what is more practical, reform. It is proverbially true of that most practical of all kinds of reform which we call reformation; as we speak of the personal reformation of a drunkard or a thief. In the mystical triad of faith, hope, and charity, it is obvious that Christmas stands for charity, and among the more fortunate, for faith. Equally obviously the New Year may well stand for hope. And equally proverbially it does stand for those most virile and creative hopes which we call resolutions.
-January 3, 1920, Illustrated London News