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

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

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

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

-Heretics (1905)

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"The Speaker" Articles

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

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




Sunday, August 19, 2018

From an interview with Fr. Paul Scalia (the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia):
Q: What writers influence you and why?

A: Probably the writer who has influenced me the most is G.K. Chesterton because he can turn a phrase. His writing is fun. Ronald Knox, his writing is excellent. I think with both of them there is both a down-to-earthness about them. There is a levity and there is a precision.
"Fr. Paul Scalia Talks New Book"

Saturday, August 18, 2018

[...] the fundamental things in a man are not the things he explains, but rather the things he forgets to explain.
-The Superstition of Divorce (1920)

Friday, August 17, 2018

A dream can commonly be described as possessing an utter discordance of incident combined with a curious unity of mood; everything changes but the dreamer. It may begin with anything and end with anything, but if the dreamer is sad at the end he will be sad as if by prescience at the beginning; if he is cheerful at the beginning he will be cheerful if the stars fail. A Midsummer Night's Dream has in a most singular degree effected this difficult, this almost desperate subtlety. The events in the wandering wood are in themselves, and regarded as in broad daylight, not merely melancholy but bitterly cruel and ignominious. But yet by the spreading of an atmosphere as magic as the fog of Puck, Shakespeare contrives to make the whole matter mysteriously hilarious while it is palpably tragic, and mysteriously charitable, while it is in itself cynical [...] The creation of a brooding sentiment like this, a sentiment not merely independent of but actually opposed to the events, is a much greater triumph of art than the creation of the character of Othello.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

[..] men like Chaucer and Langland may have supported Wycliffe to some extent in practice, and then repudiated him more completely in theory, for a particular reason of their own. The reason was (odd as it will sound in modern ears) that they supported him when he was right and repudiated him when he was wrong.

Wycliffe was only one example of a man who yields to a temptation, which few reformers have been sufficiently clear-headed to resist. He became so irritated with the fact that the Idea was badly carried out in practice, that at last he was weak enough to turn and attack the Idea in theory. [...] But there is here some haunting temptation which perpetually betrays reformers. It betrays the reformers of modern as of medieval times [...] The logical, or rather illogical, process is perfectly simple and perfectly familiar. A man sets out to distribute Milk to mothers or families or the whole community. He very soon discovers that distribution is not so easy as it looks. Before long he is perfectly familiar with the fact of people intercepting milk, stealing milk, making a corner in milk, adulterating milk, poisoning milk. He is very naturally in a rage, which verges on a revolutionary rage; nor is he wrong in proposing even precipitate and violent action against those who swindle about milk or poison milk. But there always comes a time when he is tempted to turn, in a towering passion, and say, 'There shall be no Milk.' That is what happened at the Reformation. That is what happens in nearly every revolution.
-Chaucer (1932)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

But civilisation is to be tested not so much by the dexterity of inventions as by the worth of what is invented. Many of the instruments of torture in the Tower of London display great dexterity of invention. Civilisation is not to be judged by the rapidity of communication, but by the value of what is communicated. I can send to my next-door neighbour the message- "You are an ass." I have not greatly advanced in civilisation merely because I can send the same intelligent message to a man in Australia.
-February 16, 1907, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Our need for rules does not arise from the smallness of our intellects, but from the greatness of our task. Discipline is not necessary for things that are slow and safe; but discipline is necessary for things that are swift and dangerous. We do not need a map for a stroll; but we do need a map for a raid. Now Western democracy is certainly engaged in a raid, a raid on the New Jerusalem. We are trying to do right: one of the wildest perils. We are trying to bring political equity on earth; to materialise an almost incredible justice [...] The thing has nothing to do with the freedom of the mind. Cervantes at Lepanto would have obeyed orders; surely not because he wore blinkers, but because Cervantes knew that there are twenty ways of criticising a battle, but only one way of winning it. And I do not believe for a moment that the ordinary man only obeys social rules because he is too stupid to see the alternative; I believe he obeys them because he feels, though he cannot perhaps express the fact, that they are the only way of having a rapid and reasonable human activity.
-September 28, 1907, Daily News

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pride consists in a man making his personality the only test, instead of making the truth the test.  It is not pride to wish to do well, or even to look well, according to a real test.  It is pride to think that a thing looks ill, because it does not look like something characteristic of oneself.  Now in the general clouding of clear and abstract standards, there is a real tendency today for a young man (and even possibly a young woman) to fall back on that personal test, simply for lack of any trustworthy impersonal test.  No standard being sufficiently secure for the self to be moulded to suit it, all standards may be moulded to suit the self.  But the self as a self is a very small thing and something very like an accident.  Hence arises a new kind of narrowness; which exists especially in those who boast of breadth.  The sceptic feels himself too large to measure life by the largest things; and ends by measuring it by the smallest thing of all. 
-The Common Man (1950)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"...ambition narrows as the mind expands."

But youth is always ambitious and universal; mature work exhibits more of individuality, more of the special type and colour of work which a man is destined to do. Youth is universal, but not individual. The genius who begins life with a very genuine and sincere doubt whether he is meant to be an exquisite and idolised violinist, or the most powerful and eloquent Prime Minister of modern times, does at last end by making the discovery that there is, after all, one thing, possibly a certain style of illustrating Nursery Rhymes, which he can really do better than any one else. This was what happened to Browning; like every one else, he had to discover first the universe, and then humanity, and at last himself. With him, as with all others, the great paradox and the great definition of life was this, that the ambition narrows as the mind expands.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

We are all somewhat wearily aware that some Modern Churchman call such continuous change progress;  as when we remark that a corpse crawling with worms has an increased vitality; or that a snow-man, slowly turning into a puddle, is purifying itself of its accretions.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Friday, August 10, 2018

"What do you think about spirits?"
"Never touch 'em," said the Colonel. "Sound port never hurt anybody."
"I mean the other sort," said Pierce. "Things like ghosts and all that."
"I don't know," said Owen Hood. "The Greek for it is agnosticism. The Latin for it is ignorance. But have you really been dealing with ghosts and spirits down at poor White's parsonage?"
"I don't know," said Pierce gravely.
"You don't mean you really think you saw something!" cried Hood sharply.
"There goes the agnostic!" said Pierce with a rather weary smile. "The minute the agnostic hears a bit of real agnosticism he shrieks out that it's superstition."
-Tales of the Long Bow (1925)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

But do not be kind merely to exhibit your own kindness; for that is an insult that is never forgiven. When you are helping people, pray for a spirit of humility; I had almost said, when you are helping people, pray for an appearance of helplessness.
-Sidelights (1932)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

An interesting article on Distributism, the (admittedly awkward and to an extent misleading) name of the economic philosophy of Chesterton.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

"There are some proposals and propositions in which a middle course is a great deal more insane than either extreme ..."

The English, however, along with their admirable virtues have one very impracticable delusion. They tend to think that an extreme course must be unreasonable, and that a middle course must be reasonable. This, of course, depends entirely on the nature of the proposal or proposition involved. There are some proposals and propositions in which a middle course is a great deal more insane than either extreme, but even in these we tend as a nation to adopt the moonstruck compromise. If anybody suggested, let us say, that Dr. Clifford should be boiled in oil we may be quite certain that 'The Times' or 'The Daily Telegraph' would write: 'Yielding to none in our Imperial sentiment, we cannot agree with those who propose to boil the Doctor in the extreme sense of the phrase. On the other hand, no one will suspect us of any sympathy with the visionaries who suggest the fantastic course of not boiling him at all. The English are a shrewd and practical people. They will not be seduced by either fanaticism to desert the sensible and medium course they have adopted, that of boiling Dr. Clifford's feet for twenty-five minutes. If the followers of that gentleman will not accept this fair and generous concession, they must be altogether unfit for the give-and-take of practical politics'. That is how the English really argue in a great many matters. But there have been from time to time men among us who have felt that this worship of compromise as compromise was not sensible in the least. They have felt that a position was not necessarily unreasonable merely because it was consistent and clear. They have felt that a position was not necessarily reasonable merely because it was neither fish, flesh, or herring. They held that if a sane man had views at all, it was a part of his sanity to see the views fully and to see far into them. In short, they regarded the thing called 'moderation' as one of the cloudiest manias of the asylum.
-August 1, 1903, Daily News

Monday, August 6, 2018

There is a great deal of difference between the optimism which says that things are perfect and the optimism which merely says (with a more primeval modesty) that they are very good. One optimism says that a one-legged man has two legs because it would be so dreadful if he had not. The other optimism says that the fact that the one-legged was born of a woman, has a soul, has been in love, and has stood alive under the stars, is a fact so enormous and thrilling that, in comparison, it does not matter whether he has one leg or five. One optimism says that this is the best of all possible worlds. The other says that it is certainly not the best of all possible worlds, but it is the best of all possible things that a world should be possible.
-G.F. Watts (1904)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

It is a good sign in a nation when such things are done badly. It shows that all the people are doing them. And it is a bad sign in a nation when such things are done very well, for it shows that only a few experts and eccentrics are doing them, and that the nation is merely looking on. Suppose that whenever we heard of walking in England it always meant walking forty-five miles a day without fatigue. We should be perfectly certain that only a few men were walking at all, and that all the other British subjects were being wheeled about in Bath-chairs. But if when we hear of walking it means slow walking, painful walking, and frequent fatigue, then we know that the mass of the nation still is walking. We know that England is still literally on its feet.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

All modern thinkers are reactionaries; for their thought is always a reaction from what went before.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Friday, August 3, 2018

The modern world has many marks, good as well as bad; but by far the most modern thing in it is the abandonment of individual reason, in favour of press stunts and suggestion and mass psychology and mass production.
-The Thing (1929)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The only thing which we can safely prophesy is the one thing which is always called impossible. Again and again we are told, by all sorts of priggish and progressive persons, that mankind cannot go back. The answer is that if mankind cannot go back, it cannot go anywhere. Every important change in history has been founded on something historic: and if the world had not again and again tried to renew its youth, it would have been dead long ago.
-Robert Louis Stevenson (1927)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rosetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. The converse of this proposition is also true; and it is certain that this gratitude produced, in such men as we are here considering, the most joyful moments that have been known to man. The great painter boasted that he mixed all his colors with brains, and the great saint may be said to mix all his thoughts with thanks.
-St. Francis of Assisi (1923)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The relations of the sexes are mystical, are and ought to be irrational. Every gentleman should take off his head to a lady.
-"Notebook" [quoted in Brave New Family, ed. by Alvaro de Silva]

Monday, July 30, 2018

The only strong nation and the only strong empire is the nation or the empire that has before it continually this vision of its own final disaster and its own final defiance. There is no success for anything which we do not love more than success. There lies in patriotism, as in every form of love, a great peril, a peril of self-committal, which, while it scares the prudent, fascinates the brave.
-November 29, 1901, Daily News

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Americans may go mad when they make laws; but they recover their reason when they disobey them.
-What I Saw in America (1922)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

[..] a stiff apology is a second insult [...] the injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
-The Common Man (1950)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Herbert Spencer, I think, defined Progress as the advance from the simple to the complex. It is one of the four or five worst definitions in the world, both regarding impersonal truth and also personal application. Progress, in the only sense useful to sensible people, merely means human success. It is obvious that human success is rather an advance from the complex to the simple. Every mathematician solving a problem wants to leave it less complex than he found it. Every colonist trying to turn a jungle into a farm fights, axe in hand, against the complexity of the jungle. Every judge is summoned to expound the law, because a quarrel is complex, and needs to be made simple. I do not say it always is made simple, but that is the idea. Every doctor is called in to remove something which he himself frequently calls a “complication.” A really able doctor generally sees before him something that he himself does not understand. But a really able doctor generally leaves behind him something that everybody can understand — health. The true technical genius has triumphed when he has made himself unnecessary. It is only the quack who makes himself indispensable.
-November 30, 1912, Illustrated London News

Thursday, July 26, 2018

[...] Mr. Mudie-Smith thinks [...] that the special costume of clergyman sometimes acts as a force against equality and fraternity. [...] I agree upon the basic point that any symbol invading equality and fraternity should be avoided. But for my own part, I should be inclined to suggest another solution of the matter. I think a clergyman, justly proud of his high calling, might wear a uniform.

But why should he be the only person to wear a uniform? Why should we not all be made equal by all carrying about the insignia of some honourable trade? Why should we not be permitted to know that a man is a chartered accountant by some approved external symbol, such as his charter hung ostentatiously round his neck or long white robes covered ornamentally with additon sums? Why should not the stockbroker instead of confining himself to the rather rudimentary ritual of wearing the hat very much on the back of the head have some wilder outfit, such as a pair of bull's horns and a bear-skin?

These examples perhaps are hasty and a little flippant. But I think seriously that the dignity of work would be very advantageously enhanced if it had its own colours and its own heraldry like religion and like war. So far, therefore, from looking forward with Mr. Mudie-Smith to the possibility that clergymen will abandon their very extraordinary collars, I rather look forward (with an ill-concealed joy) to the possibility of seeing Mr. Mudie-Smith himself walking down the street in the robes of purple and gold (not yellow) appointed for a distinguished journalist.
-August 26, 1905, Daily News

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

[Since today is the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae...]

But the thing the capitalist newspapers call birth control is not control at all. It is the idea that people should be, in one respect, completely and utterly uncontrolled, so long as they can evade everything in the function that is positive and creative, and intelligent and worthy of a free man. It is a name given to a succession of different expedients, (the one that was used last is always described as having been dreadfully dangerous) by which it is possible to filch the pleasure belonging to a natural process while violently and unnaturally thwarting the process itself.

The nearest and most respectable parallel would be that of the Roman epicure, who took emetics at intervals all day so that he might eat five or six luxurious dinners daily. Now any man's common sense, unclouded by newspaper science and long words, will tell him at once that an operation like that of the epicures is likely in the long run even to be bad for his digestion and pretty certain to be bad for his character. Men left to themselves gave sense enough to know when a habit obviously savours of perversion and peril. And if it were the fashion in fashionable circles to call the Roman expedient by the name of "Diet Control," and to talk about it in a lofty fashion as merely "the improvement of life and the service of life" (as if it meant no more than the mastery of man over his meals), we should take the liberty of calling it cant and saying that it had no relation to the reality in debate.
-Social Reform Versus Birth Control (1927)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

There is no more fantastic paradox in all history than the life and work of Cervantes. He is generally recognized as having written a book to show that romantic adventures are all rubbish and do not really happen in this world. As a matter of fact, the one man in this world to whom romantic adventures were incessantly happening was the author of ‘Don Quixote’. He covered himself with glory and lost his right hand at the most romantic battle in history — when the Crescent and the Cross met in the blue Mediterranean by the Isles of Greece, trailing all their pageants of painted and gilded ships with emblazoned sails. He was just about to receive public recognition from the victor, Don John of Austria, when he was kidnapped by pirates. He organized a series of escapes, each like the ideal adventure of a schoolboy; he organized supplies and comforts for his fellow-prisoners with the laborious altruism of a saint. As men go, he was really a pretty perfect pattern of the knight of chivalry; eventually he escaped and returned home to write a book showing that chivalry was impossible. At least, that is what three rationalistic centuries have taken it as showing. But I think the time has come to dig a little deeper in that stratified irony and show the other side of Cervantes and chivalry.
-The Glass Walking-Stick (1955)

Monday, July 23, 2018

What I complain of now is that the State, being a small and dangerous plutocracy, has become the organ of abnormal and unpopular power, and tends to interfere not with the people's enemies, but simply with the people. [...] It is to reform the people. And the people are to be reformed not in the sense in which every man knows very well that he needs to be reformed, but in the sense of being formed again as what he would call a deformity. The ordinary citizen is to be changed [...] into the image of something that only exists in the imagination of a mad millionaire. It is something that he only has the power to work for because he is a millionaire [...] In other words, the power of government is not used to punish rich people for doing what everybody thinks wrong, but it is used to punish poor people for doing what nearly everybody thinks right. Anybody who likes may call my objection to this an objection to any kind of government. But I should call it an objection to the very worst kind of misgovernment [...]
-November 15, 1924, Illustrated London News

Sunday, July 22, 2018

[...] I am not interested in wealth beyond the dreams of avarice since I know that avarice has no dreams, but only insomnia.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

[...] peace without love is merely a still panic.
-December 21, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, July 20, 2018

All but the hard-hearted must be torn with pity for this pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to do it.
-Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays (1917)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The home, for instance, is partly an inn for rest, and partly a school for education, and partly, again, a temple for the dedication of human souls to some unifying duties of life. Religion, again, has been to humanity not merely a servant, but a maid-of-all work; a cosmic theory; a code of conduct; a system of artistic symbols; a fountain of fascinating tales. And the modern substitutes have all the insane specialisms and general inadequacy [...] The modern world offers me a cosmic theory which cannot be used as a religion, and a school which cannot be used as a home.
-October 23, 1909, Daily News

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Unless Sir Arthur Keith is very badly misreported, he specially stated that spiritual existence ceases with the physical functions; and that no medical man could conscientiously say anything else. However grave be the injury called death (which indeed is often fatal), this strikes me as a case in which it is quite unnecessary to call in a medical man at all [...] The truth is that all this business about "a medical man" is mere bluff and mystagogy. The medical man "sees" that the mind has ceased with the body. What the medical man sees is that the body can no longer kick, talk, sneeze, whistle or dance a jig. And a man does not need to be very medical in order to see that. But whether the principle of energy, that once made it kick, talk, sneeze, whistle and dance, does or does not still exist on some other plane of existence-- a medical man knows no more about that than any other man. And when medical men were clear-headed, some of them (like an ex-surgeon named Thomas Henry Huxley) said they did not believe that medical men or any men could know anything about it. That is an intelligible position; but it does not seem to be Sir Arthur Keith's position. He has been put up publicly to deny that the soul survives the body; and to make the extraordinary remark that any medical man must say the same. It is as if we were to say that any competent builder or surveyor must deny the possibility of the Fourth Dimension; because he has learnt the technical secret that a building is measured by length, breadth and height. The obvious query is--Why bring in a surveyor? Everybody knows that everything is in fact measured by three dimensions. Anybody who thinks there is a fourth dimension thinks so in spite of being well aware that things are generally measured by three. Or it is as if a man were to answer a Berkeleian metaphysician, who holds all matter to be an illusion of mind, by saying, "I can call the evidence of an intelligent navvy who actually has to deal with solid concrete and cast iron; and he will tell you they are quite real." We should naturally answer that we do not need a navvy to tell us that solid things are solid; and it is quite in another sense that the philosopher says they are not solid. Similarly, there is nothing to make a medical man a materialist, except what might make any man a materialist.
-The Thing (1929)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

If our government were really a representative government, it would certainly not be a meddlesome government. No man wants a merely meddlesome law applied to himself; and most men are sufficiently generous to apply the golden rule at least so far as it is concerned with leaving alone and being left alone.
-November 15, 1924, Illustrated London News

Monday, July 16, 2018

Euphemisms

We are perpetually being told that this rising generation is very frank and free, and that its whole social ideal is frankness and freedom. Now I am not at all afraid of frankness. What I am afraid of is fickleness [...] There is in the very titles and terminology of all this sort of thing a pervading element of falsehood. Everything is to be called something that it is not [...] Every thing is to be recommended to the public by some sort of synonym which is really a pseudonym. It is a talent that goes with the time of electioneering and advertisement and newspaper headlines; but what ever else such a time may be, it certainly is not specially a time of truth. In short, these friends of frankness depend almost entirely on Euphemism. They introduce their horrible heresies under new and carefully complimentary names; as the Furies were called the Eumenides. The names are always flattery; the names are also nonsense.There really seems no necessary limit to the process; and however far the anarchy of ethics may go, it may always be accompanied with this curious and pompous ceremonial. The sensitive youth of the future will never be called upon to accept Forgery as Forgery. It will be easy enough to call it Homoeography or Script-Assimilation or something else that would suggest, to the simple or the superficial, that nothing was involved but a sort of socializing or unification of individual handwriting

Anyhow, I respectfully refuse to be impressed by the claim to candour and realism put forward just now for men, women, and movements. It seems to me obvious that this is not really the age of audacity but merely of advertisement; which may rather be described as caution kicking up a fuss. When somebody wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people have regarded as a social decency, the very first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent. He has no more of the real courage that would pit vice against virtue than the ordinary advertiser has the courage to advertise ale as arsenic. His intelligence, such as it is, is entirely a commercial intelligence and to that extent entirely conventional. He is a shop-keeper who dresses the shop-window; he is certainly the very reverse of a rebel or a rioter who breaks the shop-window. With the passions which are natural to youth we all sympathize; with the pain that often arises from loyalty and duty we all sympathize still more; but nobody need sympathize with publicity experts picking pleasant expressions for unpleasant things; and I for one prefer the coarse language of our fathers.
-Come to Think of It (1930)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

We are the superiors by that silliest and most snobbish of all superiorities, the mere aristocracy of time  All works must become thus old and insipid which have ever tried to be "modern," which have consented to smell of time rather than of eternity. Only those who have stooped to be in advance of their time will ever find themselves behind it.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A piece of peculiarly bad advice is constantly given to modern writers, especially to modern theologians: that they should adapt themselves to the spirit of the age. If there is one thing that has made shipwreck of mankind from the beginning it has been the spirit of the age, which always means exaggerating still further something that is grossly exaggerated already.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Another savage trait of our time is the disposition to talk about material substances instead of about ideas. The old civilisation talked about the sin of gluttony or excess. We talk about the Problem of Drink—as if drink could be a problem [...] The people who talk about the curse of drink will probably progress down that dark hill. In a little while we shall have them calling the practice of wife-beating the Problem of Pokers; the habit of housebreaking will be called the Problem of the Skeleton-Key Trade; and for all I know they may try to prevent forgery by shutting up all the stationers’ shops by Act of Parliament.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I am not urging a lop-sided idolatry of the past; I am protesting against [a] lop-sided idolatry of the present.
-September 5, 1925, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

For ours is the age of idols. Whenever religion is seriously weakened it is not only true that idolatry may follow; it is true that idolatry must follow. Religion is, in one form or another, a love of the universal power. The moment men cease to feel that love, they throw the whole joy and violence of it into loving something that is not universal. They have killed the King of Heaven and Earth, and they have to do something with the regalia. So instead of thinking all things good for universal purposes, they begin to think some things good for their own sake, which is idolatry.
-May 25, 1904, Daily News

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

[...] the thing was discussed purely as a party question; that is, it was not really discussed at all. A clatter of mechanical retorts and rejoinders, far more like clockwork than the regular gambits in chess or the regular parties in fencing, drowned the noise of all natural and sincere appeals to sense [...]
-Daily News, January 20, 1912
 [A quote quite appropriate to any number of controversies of today...]

Monday, July 9, 2018

It is nothing that a man dwells on the darkness of dark things; all healthy men do that. It is when he dwells on the darkness of bright things that we have reason to fear some disease of the emotions.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

[...] nothing is more materialistic than to reserve our horror chiefly for material wounds.
-Heretics (1905)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The fashionable book of history is at best little better than a leading article; it is founded on the documents as a leading article is founded on the news; in both cases a rather careful selection . Like a leading article the historical summary is generally partisan; and never quite so partisan as when it professes to be impartial.
-William Cobbett (1925)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Whatever the word "great" means, Dickens was what it means. Even the fastidious and unhappy who cannot read his books without a continuous critical exasperation, would use the word of him without stopping to think. They feel that Dickens is a great writer even if he is not a good writer. He is treated as a classic; that is, as a king who may now be deserted, but who cannot now be dethroned. The atmosphere of this word clings to him; and the curious thing is that we cannot get it to cling to any of the men of our own generation. "Great" is the first adjective which the most supercilious modern critic would apply to Dickens. And "great" is the last adjective that the most supercilious modern critic would apply to himself. We dare not claim to be great men, even when we claim to be superior to them.

Is there, then, any vital meaning in this idea of "greatness" or in our laments over its absence in our own time? Some people say, indeed, that this sense of mass is but a mirage of distance, and that men always think dead men great and live men small. They seem to think that the law of perspective in the mental world is the precise opposite to the law of perspective in the physical world. They think that figures grow larger as they walk away. But this theory cannot be made to correspond with the facts. We do not lack great men in our own day because we decline to look for them in our own day; on the contrary, we are looking for them all day long. We are not, as a matter of fact, mere examples of those who stone the prophets and leave it to their posterity to build their sepulchres. If the world would only produce our perfect prophet, solemn, searching, universal, nothing would give us keener pleasure than to build his sepulchre. In our eagerness we might even bury him alive. Nor is it true that the great men of the Victorian era were not called great in their own time. By many they were called great from the first. Charlotte Brontë held this heroic language about Thackeray. Ruskin held it about Carlyle. A definite school regarded Dickens as a great man from the first days of his fame: Dickens certainly belonged to this school.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Now a creed is at once the broadest and the narrowest thing in the world. In its nature it is as broad as its scheme for a brotherhood of all men. In its nature it is limited by its definition of the nature of all men. This was true of the Christian Church, which was truly said to exclude neither Jew nor Greek, but which did definitely substitute something else for Jewish religion or Greek philosophy. It was truly said to be a net drawing in of all kinds; but a net of a certain pattern, the pattern of Peter the Fisherman.  [...] Now in a much vaguer and more evolutionary fashion, there is something of the same idea at the back of the great American experiment; the experiment of a democracy of diverse races which has been compared to a melting-pot. But even that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The melting-pot must not melt. The original shape was traced on the lines of Jeffersonian democracy; and it will remain in that shape until it becomes shapeless. America invites all men to become citizens; but it implies the dogma that there is such a thing as citizenship.
-What I Saw in America (1922)
Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.
-Heretics (1905)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Political liberty, let us repeat, consists in the power of criticising those flexible parts of the State which constantly require reconsideration, not the basis, but the machinery. In plainer words, it means the power of saying the sort of things that a decent but discontented citizen wants to say. He does not want to spit on the Bible, or to run about without clothes, or to read the worst page in Zola from the pulpit of St. Paul's. Therefore the forbidding of these things (whether just or not) is only tyranny in a secondary and special sense. It restrains the abnormal, not the normal man [...] That is the almost cloying humour of the present situation. I can say abnormal things in modern magazines. It is the normal things that I am not allowed to say. I can write in some solemn quarterly an elaborate article explaining that God is the devil; I can write in some cultured weekly an aesthetic fancy describing how I should like to eat boiled baby. The thing I must not write is rational criticism of the men and institutions of my country.

The present condition of England is briefly this: That no Englishman can say in public a twentieth part of what he says in private. One cannot say, for instance, that—But I am afraid I must leave out that instance, because one cannot say it. I cannot prove my case—because it is so true.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Since Christianity broke the heart of the world and mended it, one cannot really be a Pagan; one can only be an anti-Christian. But, subject to this deeper difficulty, Meredith came much nearer to being a real Pagan than any of the other moderns for whom the term has been claimed. Swinburne was not a Pagan; he was a pseudo-Parisian pessimist. Thomas Hardy is not a Pagan; he is a Nonconformist gone sour. It is not Pagan to revile the gods nor is it Pagan to exalt a streetwalker into a symbol of all possible pleasure. The Pagan felt that there was a sort of easy and equable force pressing upon us from Nature; that this force was breezy and beneficent, though not specially just or loving; in other words, that there was, as the strength in wine or trees or the ocean, the energy of kindly but careless gods. This Paganism is now impossible, either to the Christian or the sceptic. We believe so much less than that--and we desire so much more. But no man in our time ever came quite so near to this clean and well-poised Paganism as Meredith. He took the mystery of the universe lightly; and waited for the gods to show themselves in the forest. We talk of the curiosity of the Greeks; but there is also something almost eerie about their lack of curiosity. There is a wide gulf between the gay unanswered questions of Socrates and the parched and passionate questions of Job. Theirs was at least a light curiosity, a curiosity of the head; and it seems a sort of mockery to those Christians or unbelievers who now explore the universe with the tragic curiosity of the heart. Meredith almost catches this old pre-Christian levity; this spirit that can leave the gods alone even when it believes in them. He had neither the brighter nor the darker forms of spiritual inquiry or personal religion. He could neither rise to prayer nor sink to spirit-rapping.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

If the modern man is indeed the heir of all the ages, he is often the kind of heir who tells the family solicitor to sell the whole damned estate, lock, stock, and barrel, and give him a little ready money to throw away at the races or the nightclubs. He is certainly not the kind of heir who ever visits his estate: and, if he really owns all the historic lands of ancient and modern history, he is a very absentee landlord. He does not really go down the mines on the historic property [...] but is content with a very hasty and often misleading report from a very superficial and sometimes dishonest mining expert. He allows any wild theories, like wild thickets of thorn and briar, to grow all over the garden and even the graveyard. He will always believe modern testimony in a text-book against contemporary testimony on a tombstone [...] Nevertheless, there are some of us who do hold that the metaphor of inheritance from human history is a true metaphor, and that any man who is cut off from the past, and content with the future, is a man most unjustly disinherited; and all the more unjustly if he is happy in his lot, and is not permitted even to know what he has lost. And I, for one, believe that the mind of man is at its largest, and especially at its broadest, when it feels the brotherhood of humanity linking it up with remote and primitive and even barbaric things.
-Avowals and Denials (1934)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fairy tales are the only true accounts that man has ever given of his destiny. ‘Jack the Giant-Killer’ is the embodiment of the first of the three great paradoxes by which men live. It is the paradox of Courage: the paradox which says, ‘You must defy the thing that is terrifying; unless you are frightened, you are not brave.’ ‘Cinderella’ is the embodiment of the second of the paradoxes by which men live: the paradox of Humility which says ‘Look for the best in the thing, ignorant of its merit; he that abases himself shall be exalted’. And ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the embodiment of the third of the paradoxes by which men live: the paradox of Faith — the absolutely necessary and wildly unreasonable maxim which says to every mother with a child or to every patriot with a country, ‘You must love the thing first and make it lovable after wards.’
-The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Suffice it to say that the morality which professes to be perpetually changing is the morality which will, as a matter of fact, stagnate. For this morality professes to change so as to suit the environment. And all progress is an attempt to alter the environment so as to suit something fixed but quite outside experience.
-July 7, 1906, Daily News

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The truth is that there are no educated classes; simply because there is no such thing as education. There is this kind of education and that kind of education, and therefore there are this and that styles of educated men [...] Each one of us is ludicrously ignorant of something; most of us of most things. The whole difference between a conceited man and a modest one is concerned only with how far he is conscious of those hundred professions in which he would be a failure, of those hundred examinations which he could not pass [...] It may be difficult to keep all these potential failures of oneself before one's imagination at once. But it is worth trying, being full of gigantesque humility. 
-February 5, 1910, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

So far from freedom following on the decay of the family, what follows is uniformity.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Organized religion

I have never been able to understand why men of science, or men of any sort, should have such a special affection for Disoganised Religion. They would hardly utter cries of hope and joy over the prospect of Disorganised Biology or Disorganised Botany. They would hardly wish to see the whole universe of astronomy disorganised, with no relations, no records, no responsibilities for the fulfilment of this or that function, no reliance on the regularity of this or that law [...] The truth is that, in supernatural things as in natural things, there is in that sense an increase of organisation with the increase of life. There is, indeed, a dead mechanism that men often call organisation. But it is nowadays much more characteristic of secular than of spiritual movements. In short, all this modern cant against organised religion is a highly modern result of disorganised reason. Men have not really thought out the question of how much or how little organisation is inevitable in any corporate action, and what are its proper organs.
-April 12, 1930, Illustrated London News

Sunday, June 24, 2018

[...] when we find that the daily life of priests contradicts our notion of their Church, it might surely be more reasonable to ask ourselves not only whether all these human beings may not be horrible hypocrites, but also whether our own original notion of what they profess may not be a little off the rails.
May 9, 1903, Daily News

Saturday, June 23, 2018

From Maisie Ward's Return to Chesterton (1952), p.63:
A charming story is told by a man who saw Gilbert starting to chase his hat in the street. Plunging through the traffic, the passer-by rescued it to his own imminent peril, and was not pleased when Gilbert received it with the remark that his wife had just bought him a new one and would be sorry to see it again.
"Then why on earth did you run after it?"
"It's an old friend. I am fond of it and I wanted to be with it at the end."

Friday, June 22, 2018

The terrible danger in the heart of our Society is that the tests are giving way. We are altering, not the evils, but the standards of good by which alone evils can be detected and defined. It is as if we were looking at some great machine, say, a stonecutter's saw, and the saw was working briskly and the dust flying brightly. But when we came to look close, we found that the stone was unscratched and was wearing away the steel. The thing that should crumble is holding fast; the thing that should hold fast is crumbling [...] So the moral scales that were meant to weigh our problems are themselves breaking under the weight of them. The philosophical instruments which were meant to dissect existence are bent and twisted against the toughness of the thing to be dissected. Because it is very hard work to apply principles of judgment to anything, people are everywhere abandoning the principles and practically deciding not to test life at all, but only let life test them. They do not analyze the situation at all; they let their situation analyze them- which means, break them up [...] Instead of testing the passing institutions by the eternal institutions, we are nibbling away the eternal institutions and leaving ourselves with no test at all.
-March 25, 1911, Illustrated London News

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"I know," said Father Brown, and his mouth took on again the twisted smile. "I sometimes think criminals invented hygiene. Or perhaps some hygienic reformers invented crime; they look like it, some of them. Everybody talks about foul dens and filthy slums in which crime can run riot; but it's just the other way. They are called foul, not because crimes are committed, but because crimes are discovered. It's in the neat, spotless, clean and tidy places that crime can run riot; no mud to make footprints; no dregs to contain poison; kind servants washing out all traces of the murder, and the murderer killing and cremating six wives and all for want of a little Christian dirt [...]"
-The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fairy tales are the only sound guidebooks to life [...]
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.
-Generally Speaking (1928)

Monday, June 18, 2018

We have in this country all that has ever been alleged against the evil side of religion; the peculiar class with privileges, the sacred words that are unpronounceable; the important things known only to the few. In fact we lack nothing except the religion.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Trust the people and get the thing settled slowly. But in the name of all ancestral wisdom, do not trust the faddist and get the thing settled wrong. Do not trust the opinion of every chance person whose name you've heard in the newspapers as being somebody vaguely and irrationally important. Do not trust a man because you have heard of him as a cricketer or a journalist or a prize-fighter or a burglar or a millionaire.
-September 22, 1906, Illustrated London News

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Most of us, of course, spend half of our time in abusing journalism, especially those of us (like myself) who spend the other half in writing it. But when we pass from abusing a thing to reforming it, we commonly pass from an easier condition to a much stormier one, for there is nothing more united than opposition, and nothing more divided than reform. When two men unite against a third with hearty and unanimous enthusiasm, it is generally because one thinks he is too far to the left and the other that he is too far to the right.
-January 6, 1906, Illustrated London News

Friday, June 15, 2018

Definitions

Well aware of how offensive I make myself, and with what loathing I may well be regarded, in this sentimental age which pretends to be cynical, and in this poetical nation which pretends to be practical, I shall nevertheless continue to practise in public a very repulsive trick or habit--the habit of drawing distinctions; or distinguishing between things that are quite different, even when they are assumed to be the same [...] I have again and again blasphemed against and denied the perfect Oneness of chalk and cheese; and drawn fanciful distinctions, ornithological or technological, between hawks and handsaws. For in truth I believe that the only way to say anything definite is to define it, and all definition is by limitation and exclusion; and that the only way to say something distinct is to say something distinguishable; and distinguishable from everything else. In short, I think that a man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.
-As I was Saying (1936)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

[An inscription in a book Chesterton gave to a young child]

This is the sort of book we like
   (For you and I are very small),
With pictures stuck in anyhow,
   And hardly any words at all.

You will not understand a word
   Of all the words, including mine;
Never you trouble; you can see,
   And all directness is divine-

Stand up and keep your childishness:
   Read all the pedants' screeds and strictures;
But don't believe in anything
   That can't be told in coloured pictures.
-Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, volume X: Collected Poetry, Part I, p. 304

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good--" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Utopia always wins best in what is, in another than the Wellsian sense,  a War in the Air. When the heavenly kingdom becomes an earthly paradise, it sometimes tends to be a hell upon earth. But it sometimes tends to be what is even worse, or at least weaker- a very earthy imitation of earth. So long as revolution is a failure, we all feel that it holds the promise of success. It is when it is a success that it is so often a failure.
-June 16, 1928, Illustrated London News

Monday, June 11, 2018

We must always allow something for the journalistic version of anything. There could not be a daily paper that told the truth about the day before; for the simple reason the truth about the day before would require about two hundred years to tell. There is no such thing as realism in the sense of telling merely the reality about any fragment of time or space. Realism and idealism are both merely selections; and the only difference is that idealism is the selection made by honest men, and realism the selection make by dishonest ones.
-September 1, 1906, Illustrated London News

Sunday, June 10, 2018

That is the mark of the truly great man: that he sees the common man afar off, and worships him. The great man tries to be ordinary, and becomes extraordinary in the process. But the small man tries to be mysterious, and becomes lucid in an awful sense- for we can all see through him.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The greatest poets of the world have a certain serenity because they have not bothered to invent a small philosophy, but have rather inherited a large philosophy. It is nine times out of ten, a philosophy which very great men share with very ordinary men. It is therefore not a theory which attracts attention as a theory [...] the great poet only professes to express the thought that everybody has always had.
-Chaucer (1932)

Friday, June 8, 2018

"When they talk of making new roads, they are only making new ruts."

The wild theorists of our time are quite unable to wander. When they talk of making new roads, they are only making new ruts.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Deeds, not words" is itself an excellent example of "Words, not thoughts". It is a deed that throws a pebble into a pond and a word that sends a prisoner to the gallows.
-The Common Man (1950)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For unless the principles are eternal a thing cannot advance; a thing cannot exist. It is the essence of progress that the ideal cannot progress. It is the whole meaning of a change for the better that the better itself cannot change.
-May 19, 1906, Daily News

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

People can faintly imagine the mind of about half the world, and do not make the faintest effort to imagine the mind of the other half. They divide the whole earth into two mutually menacing armies, and then call one of them the peace of the world and the other the disturbers of the peace. This is certainly not the way to insure any sort of peace. Peace will only begin to be possible when we try to do justice to the side with which we do not feel sympathy, and earnestly try to call up in our own imagination the sorrows we have not suffered and the angers we do not feel.
-June 25, 1932, Illustrated London News
[quoted in Gilbert!, May/June 2018]

Monday, June 4, 2018

Government grows more elusive every day. But the traditions of humanity support humanity; and the central one is this tradition of Marriage. And the essential of it is that a free man and a free woman choose to found on earth the only voluntary state; the only state which creates and which loves its citizens. So long as these real responsible beings stand together, they can survive all the vast changes, deadlocks and disappointments, which make up mere political history. But if they fail each other, it is as certain as death that "the State" will fail them.
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The latest update on GKC's cause:

GK Chesterton's Sainthood Cause May Soon Be Opened

A short excerpt from the link:
An investigation into the cause for Chesterton, conducted by Canon John Udris, is expected to be completed this summer. It will then be sent to Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who will consult with the Vatican about whether to open the beatification cause. Ahlquist said the decision will most likely be announced this fall.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Shakespeare’s famous phrase that art should hold the mirror up to nature is always taken as wholly realistic; but it is really idealistic and symbolic [...]  Art is a mirror not because it is the same as the object, but because it is different.  A mirror selects as much as art selects; it gives the light of flames, but not their heat; the colour of flowers, but not their fragrance; the faces of women, but not their voices; the proportions of stockbrokers, but not their solidity.  A mirror is a vision of things, not a working model of them.
The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Friday, June 1, 2018

But if ever there was a whisper that might truly come from the devil, it is the suggestion that men can despise the beautiful things they have got, and only delight in getting new things because they have not got them. It is obvious that, on that principle, Adam will tire of the tree just as he has tired of the garden. "It is enough that there is always a beyond"; that is, there is always something else to get tired of. All progress based on that mood is truly a Fall; man did fall, does fall, and we can today see him falling. It is the great progressive proposition; that he must seek only for enjoyment because he has lost the power to enjoy.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bunnicula and GKC

Being admittedly culturally illiterate (definitely as regards pop culture), I have never heard of the children's book series Bunnicula, but recently I read that there is a GKC connection involving that series, and Wikipedia seems to confirm that. Concerning one of the characters in that series, Chester, Wikipedia states on the page for the book series:
Chester – The highly imaginative, prideful Orange tabby who loves good literature and milk. He was given to Mr. Monroe as a birthday present, and the name "Chester" was derived from G. K. Chesterton.
In addition, apparently a cartoon series based on the books have also been made, appearing on Cartoon Network and Boomerang, and the character who voiced "Chester" was Sean Astin.

I always find it interesting to see references to GKC in such diverse places.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

We know what is meant by saying that the Church is merely conservative and the modern world progressive. It means that the Church is always continuous and the heresies always contradictory.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

While the modern public, with a kind of crude courage and good-will, build schools and more schools, and yet more schools, votes grants, and more grants, and yet more grants, serves out education to everyone everywhere as if education were something as plain and homogeneous as so much cheese, inquirers of the type of Miss [Charlotte] Mason are studying the first principles of education on which the good or ill of all this action rests with a care that may be called laboriousness and a calm that might almost be called scepticism. The contrast between the two spirits is odd and a little disquieting. The slow and deliberate theories are embodied in educational articles. The hasty and fleeting theories are embodied in enormous buildings of brick and stone. The more tested and less doubtful doctrines are printed in books which scarcely anybody reads. The less tested and doubtful theories are embodied in acts of Parliament that everybody has to obey. Nothing can breed more strange doubts in the mind that the contemplation of so much responsibility in private and so much frivolity in public. We hear little but derision directed towards the old fathers and heresiarchs, who tore theories to shreds before they would proceed to the smallest practical reform, but if there be little doubt that they erred on one side I fancy there is even less doubt that we err on the other. No doubt it is a very legitimate and beautiful object to proceed rapidly from theory to execution; but to rush at the execution and then go on to theory is not legitimate or beautiful; but it is the indwelling principle of modern politics and modern education. It is very fine to aim at having a thing established a week after it has been discovered to be good. But the aim of many advanced persons to-day is to have a thing established a week before it is discovered to be bad.
-May 13, 1905, Daily News

Monday, May 28, 2018

Military men are seldom militarists.
-September 11, 1915, Illustrated London News

Sunday, May 27, 2018

We shall never return to social sanity till we begin at the beginning. We must start where all history starts, with a man and a woman, and a child [...] As it is, we begin where history ends, or, rather, where disjointed journalism ends. We stop suddenly with the accidental truncation of today's news; and judge everything by the particular muddle of the moment. Ours is a sociology of snapshots; and snapshots always fix human figures in postures not only silly but stiff.
-May 3, 1919, Illustrated London News

Saturday, May 26, 2018

In modern times we have had a vast increase in the sort of education that the ignorant can impose and a vast decrease in the sort of instruction that only the instructed can provide. The politician, who merely declares that so many thousand copies of such and such standard works shall be distributed to such and such schools, is in that exact sense an ignorant man. The agricultural labourer, who shows his son how to use a pruning-hook, is in that exact sense a learned man.
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mr. Archer does not seem to understand laughing at one's own ideals. If our ideals have once endured our laughter they can endure all the laughter of our enemies [...] Being funny has nothing to do with being untrue or undesirable. I think it funny to put food into one's mouth; but I have no intention of discontinuing the habit.
-September 14, 1907, Daily News

Thursday, May 24, 2018

An old interview with Larry Norman from 2005, the "Father of Jesus Rock" music, and the former brother-in-law of Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society:

http://www.alivingdog.com/LarryInt2.html

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The sort of sentiment I want the politicians to study, not without tears, took some such form as this: "Beware of Luxury, the eternal enemy of Liberty." The old friends of freedom never tired of insisting, in what seems to some a turgid and florid manner, on the necessity of simplicity in the life of a champion of the people. The pleasures of the court were for the courtier. The tribune must know nothing between the field and the forum [...] one truth, vivid to every friend of freedom a hundred years ago, has now become a blind spot on the brain. It is no longer Liberty against Luxury, but Liberty for the sake of Luxury. The result is a corruption that eats out the heart of representative government.
-March 3, 1928, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It is simply an unchanging quality in the nature of man that he is fickle, moody, and one-sided; that he stresses now one point in morals and now another, neglects one virtue and then goes on in progressive triumph to neglect another; that he is overpowered by whatever is recent and generally ignorant of what is remote; and, above all, that he mistakes experience for existence, and supposes that what he sees is all that there is to see. There certainly is in human nature this changing quality; and it is an unchanging quality.
-June 9, 1934, Illustrated London News

Monday, May 21, 2018

A self-conscious simplicity may well be far more intrinsically ornate than luxury itself. Indeed, a great deal of the pomp and sumptuousness of the world’s history was simple in the truest sense.  It was born of an almost babyish receptiveness; it was the work of men who had eyes to wonder and men who had ears to hear.
-The Common Man (1950)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

For after all, blame is itself a compliment. It is a compliment because it is an appeal; and an appeal to a man as a creative artist making his soul. To say to a man, "rascal" or "villain" in ordinary society may seem abrupt; but it is also elliptical. It is an abbreviation of a sublime spiritual apostrophe for which there may be no time in our busy social life. When you meet a millionaire, the cornerer of many markets, out at dinner in Mayfair, and greet him (as is your custom) with the exclamation "Scoundrel!" you are merely shortening for convenience some such expression as: "How can you, having the divine spirit of man that might be higher than the angels, drag it down so far as to be a scoundrel?" When you are introduced at a garden party to a Cabinet Minister who takes tips on Government contracts, and when you say to him in the ordinary way "Scamp!" you are merely using the last word of a long moral disquisition; which is in effect, "How pathetic is the spiritual spectacle of this Cabinet Minister, who being from the first made glorious by the image of God, condescends so far to lesser ambitions as to allow them to turn him into a scamp." It is a mere taking of the tail of a sentence to stand for the rest; like saying 'bus for omnibus. It is even more like the case of that seventeenth century Puritan whose name was something like "If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned, Higgins"; but who was, for popular convenience, referred to as "Damned Higgins." But it is obvious, anyhow, that when we call a man a coward, we are in so doing asking him how he can be a coward when he could be a hero. When we rebuke a man for being a sinner, we imply that he has the powers of a saint.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

[...] tradition, if it exists at all, is always much fresher and more forcible than anything else [...]
-The Spirit of Christmas (1984)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Those modern theologians who insist that Christianity is not in doctrines, but in spirit, commonly fail to notice that they are exposing themselves to a test more abrupt and severe than that of doctrine itself. Some legal preliminaries at least are necessary before a man can be burned for his opinions; but without any preliminaries at all a man can be shot for his tone of voice.
-The Spirit of Christmas (1984)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

For though to-day is always to-day and the moment is always modern, we are the only men in all history who fell back upon bragging about the mere fact that to-day is not yesterday. I fear that some in the future will explain it by saying that we had precious little else to brag about.
-All I Survey (1933)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pride is not only only an enemy to instruction. Pride is an enemy to amusement. The main lesson of St. Francis of Assisi is this idea of an almost fantastic self-effacement corresponding to an almost fantastic pleasure.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

[...] melancholy is a frivolous thing compared with the seriousness of joy. Melancholy is negative, it has to do with trivialities like death: joy is positive and has to answer for the renewal and perpetuation of being. Melancholy is irresponsible; it could watch the universe fall to pieces: joy is responsible and upholds the universe in the void of space.
-June 11, 1901, Daily News

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A man should be always tied to his mother’s apron strings; he should always have a hold on his childhood, and be ready at intervals to start anew from a childish standpoint.  Theologically the thing is best expressed by saying, “You must be born again.” Secularly it is best expressed by saying, “You must keep your birthday.” Even if you will not be born again, at least remind yourself occasionally that you were born once.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Queen Elizabeth II and GKC

Just as a follow-up to an earlier post, here is a picture of the then Princess Elizabeth's sitting room at her home Clarence House (about 1950), in which hung on the wall the preliminary sketch for Sir James Gunn's "The Conversation Piece", featuring G.K. Chesterton and his friends Hilaire Belloc and Maurice Baring. It is located to the right of the fireplace.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, Princess Elizabeth had received it from Sir Jame Gunn as a wedding present in 1947, and as Joseph Pearce notes
The future Queen replied on 16 December to offer "our most sincere thanks for the delightful picture of Mr. Chesterton, Mr. Belloc and Mr. Maurice Baring...I think it perfectly charming, and much look forward to hanging it in my house."
As we see, apparently she did exactly that. :-)


The picture, incidentally, is from the book Clarence House by Christopher Hussey (1950), from the plate opposite of p. 76. It is also the picture which appeared on the dust jacket (albeit the dust jacket of the edition I recieved was, naturally, not in as great of condition as the picture in the book itself, so I chose to use the latter).
There was a Victorian epoch when the caricaturists were supposed to caricature the politicians. Now the politicians are caricaturing their own caricatures. Hence it will probably be found that all our ablest artists, in this manner, will grow more and more frantic and farcical, more and more incredible and crazy. They are trying to keep pace with our statesmen and social philosophers.
G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Friday, May 11, 2018

The aim of good prose words is to mean what they say. The aim of good poetical words is to mean what they do not say.
-April 22, 1905, Daily News

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The decay of society was praised by artists as the decay of a corpse is praised by worms.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The modern world is full of fantastic forms of animal worship; a religion generally accompanied with human sacrifice. Yet we hear strangely little of the real merits of animals; and one of them surely is this innocence of all boredom; perhaps such simplicity is the absence of sin.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I am not certain we have wholly gained by losing liberty, equality, and fraternity; and substituting, for the first two, a strange blend of license and uniformity; and for fraternity, only peace.
-March 16, 1935, Illustrated London News

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The greatness of Homer consists in the fact that he could make men feel, what they were already quite ready to think, that life is a strange mystery in which a hero may err and another hero may fail. The poet makes men realize how great are the great emotions which they, in a smaller way, have already experienced [...] The great poet exists to show the small man how great he is.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Now this is the attitude which I attack. It is the huge heresy of Precedent. It is the view that because we have got into a mess we must grow messier to suit it; that because we have taken a wrong turn some time ago we must go forward and not backwards; that because we have lost our way we must lose our map also; and because we have missed our ideal, we must forget it.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Friday, May 4, 2018

I believe less in the State because I know more of the statesmen.
-The Catholic Church and Conversion (1927)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

We have passed the age of the demagogue, the man who has little to say and says it loud. We have come to the age of the mystagogue or don, the man who has nothing to say, but says it softly and impressively in an indistinct whisper.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

I believe in the universal extension of rights, but not in the universal extension of privileges.
-March 12, 1910, Daily News

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Queen Elizabeth II and GKC

I came across an interesting book last night I had never heard of before, and which I was able to purchase. It is called the

Princess Elizabeth Gift Book

As one can tell from the title, it is associated with "Princess Elizabeth" (who is, of course, now Queen Elizabeth II). It was published in 1935, and was a collaborative effort of many famous authors of the day in producing a book intended as a fundraiser in aid of the Princess Elizabeth of York hospital for children. The Queen was 9 (I think) at the time of its publication, and doing some Googling, I read somewhere that it was the first book to which she had set her name. I also read that Rudyard Kipling wrote the last story he was ever to write as his contribution to the book (He died the next year, if I recall correctly).

In any case, what should not come as any surprise at all, the reason that I am mentioning this on this blog is that one of the contributors to the book was G.K. Chesterton. I find it interesting to find this "connection" of sorts between Queen Elizabeth and G.K. Chesterton. It is now the second "connection" I have found., the other being that one of the wedding gifts which Princess Elizabeth received in 1947 (from Sir James Gunn) were the preliminary sketches to the Conversation Piece. As Jospeh Pearce notes concerning the latter:
The future Queen replied on 16 December to offer "our most sincere thanks for the delightful picture of Mr. Chesterton, Mr. Belloc and Mr. Maurice Baring...I think it perfectly charming, and much look forward to hanging it in my house."
UPDATE: I just came across this information, related to the latter connection, found in a book review of a book on Clarence House (emphasis mine):
THIS sumptuously produced and beautifully illustrated volume contains "all ye need to know" about the home of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh (and that is perhaps more than loyal curiosity could have expected to be told about the borne of the Heir Apparent fifty years ago). Feeling rather like an inquisitive intruder on visitors' day, the reader is allowed to peer at the contents of most of the rooms in great detail—from the photographs on Princess Elizabeth's desk to the sensible fireguard in the nursery. The house has been furnished with unostentatious good taste, and is filled with treasures of all kinds. One of the few things a diffident visitor might be doubtful about is the brick-work in Her Royal Highness's sitting-room fireplace. Nearby hangs James Gunn's sketch for his "Conversation Piece" of Chesterton, Belloc and Baring: there are many other works by modern artists on the walls, and also an interesting Edinburgh scene by Alexander Nasmyth (1758-1840).
-The Spectator, February 3, 1950

 ANOTHER UPDATE: This post contains a picture of the sitting room at the then Princess Elizabeth's home, with the preliminary sketch of The Conversation Piece hanging on the wall:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Humanity has passed through every sort of storm and shipwreck, but never before was it so doubtful which was the storm and which the shipwreck, and which the ship and which the ship’s crew; and what we are rescuing from what.
New York Herald Tribune Magazine, July 5th, 1931
Quoted in The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

It is essential that this fundamental fallacy in the use of statistics should be got somehow into the modern mind. Such people must be made to see the point, which is surely plain enough, that it is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase. If I say, "There are five fools in Action," it is surely quite clear that, though no mathematician can make five the same as four or six, that will not stop you or anyone else from finding a few more fools in Action.
-Eugenics and Other Evils (1922)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

[...] detail by itself means madness. The very definition of a lunatic is a man who has taken details out of their real atmosphere.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Friday, April 27, 2018

There is a sense in which men may be made normally happy; but there is another sense in which we may truly say, without undue paradox, that what they want is to get back to their normal unhappiness. At present they are suffering from an utterly abnormal unhappiness. They have got all the tragic elements essential to the human lot to contend with; time and death and bereavement and unrequited affection and dissatisfaction with themselves. But they have not got the elements of consolation and encouragement that ought normally to renew their hopes or restore their self-respect. They have not got vision or conviction, or the mastery of their work, or the loyalty of their household, or any form of human dignity. Even the latest Utopians, the last lingering representatives of that fated and unfortunate race, do not really promise the modern man that he shall do anything, or own anything, or in any effectual fashion be anything. They only promise that, if he keeps his eyes open, he will see something; he will see the Universal Trust or the World State or Lord Melchett coming in the clouds in glory. But the modern man cannot even keep his eyes open. He is too weary with toil and a long succession of unsuccessful Utopias. He has fallen asleep.
October 20, 1928, G.K.'s Weekly
[quoted in Wisdom and Innocence, Joseph Pearce,]

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I must frankly say that Bernard Shaw always seems to me to use the word God not only without any idea of what it means, but without one moment’s thought about what it could possibly mean. He said to some atheist, “Never believe in a God that you cannot improve on.” The atheist (being a sound theologian) naturally replied that one should not believe in a God whom one could improve on; as that would show that he was not God. In the same style in Major Barbara the heroine ends by suggesting that she will serve God without personal hope, so that she may owe nothing to God and He owe everything to her.  It does not seem to strike her that if God owes everything to her He is not God. These things affect me merely as tedious perversions of a phrase. It is as if you said, “I will never have a father unless I have begotten him.”
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you.' That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding. And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child. What we are to have inside is the childlike spirit; but the childlike spirit is not entirely concerned about what is inside. It is the first mark of possessing it that one is interested in what is outside. The most childlike thing about a child is his curiosity and his appetite and his power of wonder at the world. We might almost say that the whole advantage of having the kingdom within is that we look for it somewhere else.
-What I Saw in America (1922)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One [experience] was outside Barcelona, where the proprietor was an authentic American gangster, who had actually written a book of confessions about his own organised robbing and racketeering. Modest, like all great men, about the ability he had shown in making big business out of burglary and highway robbery, he was very proud of his literary experiment, and especially of his book; but, like some other literary men, he was dissatisfied with his publishers. He said he had rushed across just in time to find that they had stolen nearly all his royalties. “It was a shame,” I said sympathetically, “why it was simply robbery.” “I’ll say it was,” he said with an indignant blow on the table. “It was just plain robbery.”
-Autobiography (1936)

Monday, April 23, 2018

"It is interesting to note that the stimulus for [Ingmar] Bergman's [The] Magician was his own 1947 Swedish stage production of Chesterton's play, Magic."
-The Gift of Wonder: The Many Sides of G.K. Chesterton, (ed. Dale Ahlquist , pp. 101-102)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

All the characteristic inventions of our time have been inventions for improving the rate at which things are done, not for improving their quality. What is the telephone but an instrument by which I can talk to a man across England when I have nothing worth saying even to a man next door? What is a motor-car but a way of going very quickly when I am bored in London to bore somebody else in Yorkshire? What is the good of quickening all the human engines if you cannot for one instant quicken the human pulse?
-January 5, 1907, Daily News

Saturday, April 21, 2018

[...] Price is a crazy and incalculable thing, while Value is an intrinsic and indestructible thing [...]
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Friday, April 20, 2018

There has arisen in our time an extraordinary notion that there is something humane, open-hearted or generous about refusing to define one’s creed.  Obviously the very opposite is the truth.  Refusing to define a creed is not only not generous, it is distinctly mean.  It fails in frankness and fraternity towards the enemy.  It is fighting without a flag or a declaration of war.  It denies to the enemy the decent concessions of battle; the right to know the policy and to treat with the headquarters.  Modern “broad-mindedness” has a quality that can only be called sneakish; it endeavours to win without giving itself away, even after it has won.  It desires to be victorious without betraying even the name of the victor.  For all sane men have intellectual doctrines and fighting theories; and if they will not put them on the table, it can only be because they wish to have the advantage of a fighting theory which cannot be fought.

In the things of conviction there is only one other thing besides a dogma, and that is a prejudice.  If there is something in your life for which you will hold meetings and agitate and write letters to the newspaper, but for which you will not find the plain terms of a creed, then that thing is properly to be described as a prejudice, however new or noble or advanced it may seem to be.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

This is the immortal justification of the Fable: that we could not teach the plainest truths so simply without turning men into chessmen. We cannot talk of such simple things without using animals that do not talk at all. Suppose, for a moment, that you turn the wolf into a wolfish baron, or the fox into a foxy diplomatist. You will at once remember that even barons are human, you will be unable to forget that even diplomatists are men. You will always be looking for that accidental good-humour that should go with the brutality of a brutal man; for that allowance for all delicate things, including virtue, that should exist in any good diplomatist. Once put a thing on two legs instead of four and pluck it of feathers and you cannot help asking for a human being, either heroic, as in the fairy tales, or unheroic, as in the modern novels.

But by using animals in this austere and arbitrary style as they are used on the shields of heraldry or the hieroglyphics of the ancients, men have really succeeded in handing down those tremendous truths that are called truisms. If the chivalric lion be red and rampant, it is rigidly red and rampant; if the sacred ibis stands anywhere on one leg, it stands on one leg for ever. In this language, like a large animal alphabet, are written some of the first philosophic certainties of men.
-G.K.C as M.C. (1929)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"The art of tearing out the heart of a thing in ten minutes is their national virtue and their national disease. "

The Short Story flourishes in America, probably, for a variety of reasons. One reason, of course, can be found in the singular hurry and variety of American existence, their taste for 'samples' in life, their wasting and tyrannical excitement, which makes their stories as short as their tempers. A Short Story is a short cut to a story: it is the denouement [sic] of a novel without the rest. Just as the Americans require special trains and motor-cars to carry them quickly to their destination, so they require special stories to carry them to the explanation of a dilemma, to enable them, as on some lightning vehicle, to be in at the death of the villain. The art of tearing out the heart of a thing in ten minutes is their national virtue and their national disease. We owe them much gratitude for fostering and ennobling the Short Story, but there is a great deal of danger to literature in the Short Story. It encourages the notion that because we have seen a man hit off in one transfiguring sentence, or one telling and typical act, we know him as we know Tom Jones or Barnes Newcome, whom we know so well that we could tell how they would wipe their boots on a mat.
-April 9, 1901, Daily News

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

If we are to look for lessons, here at least is the last and deepest lesson of Dickens. It is in our own daily life that we are to look for the portents and the prodigies. This is the truth, not merely of the fixed figures of our life; the wife, the husband, the fool that fills the sky. It is true of the whole stream and substance of our daily experience; every instant we reject a great fool merely because he is foolish. Every day we neglect Tootses and Swivellers, Guppys and Joblings, Simmerys and Flashers. Every day we lose the last sight of Jobling and Chuckster, the Analytical Chemist, or the Marchioness. Every day we are missing a monster whom we might easily love, and an imbecile whom we should certainly admire.

This is the real gospel of Dickens; the inexhaustible opportunities offered by the liberty and the variety of man. Compared with this life, all public life, all fame, all wisdom, is by its nature cramped and cold and small. For on that defined and lighted public stage men are of necessity forced to profess one set of accomplishments, to rise to one rigid standard. It is the utterly unknown people who can grow in all directions like an exuberant tree. It is in our interior lives that we find that people are too much themselves. It is in our private life that we find them swelling into the enormous contours, and taking on the colours of caricature. Many of us live publicly with featureless public puppets, images of the small public abstractions. It is when we pass our own private gate, and open our own secret door, that we step into the land of the giants.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hamlet was only a mild sort of murderer; a more or less accidental and parenthetical murderer; an amateur. But Macbeth was a good, solid, serious, self-respecting murderer; and we must not have any nonsense about him. For the play of Macbeth is, in the supreme and special sense, the Christian Tragedy; to be set against the Pagan Tragedy of Oedipus. It is the whole point about Oedipus that he does not know what he is doing. And it is the whole point about Macbeth that he does know what he is doing. It is not a tragedy of Fate but a tragedy of Freewill. He is tempted of a devil, but he is not driven by a destiny. If the actor pronounces the words properly, the whole audience ought to feel that the story may yet have an entirely new ending, when Macbeth says suddenly, ‘We will proceed no further in this business.’ The incredible confusion of modern thought is always suggesting that any indication that men have been influenced is an indication that they have been forced. All men are always being influenced; for every incident is an influence. The question is, which incident shall we allow to be most influential. Macbeth was influenced; but he consented to be influenced. He was not, like a blind tragic pagan, obeying something he thought he ought to obey. He does not worship the Three Witches like the Three Fates. He is a good enlightened Christian, and sins against the light.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Frank Capra and G.K. Chesterton

An interesting blog post I came across that shows an indirect connection between Frank Capra and G.K. Chesterton via Myles Connolly (emphasis mine):
Now it was the early 30s, and [Frank Capra] met a man named Miles [sic] Connolly (author of Mr. Blue). Capra described him as "violently Catholic" [..] Connolly actually knew of Chesterton and Belloc, and succeeded in getting them to write for his magazine. Connolly was also involved in the film business as a "script doctor". Connolly quoted Hilaire Belloc to Capra on their first meeting.

Connolly determined to bring Capra back into the fold, and he planned to do it with Chesterton and Belloc. Connolly began to goad Capra into using his great talent for a better purpose. Capra was making simple silly films, and Connolly told him is was wasting his talent. Capra described this period of a love/hate friendship time.

The best Connolly scholar, a priest in Boston, says that Connolly's book, Mr. Blue, was a direct response of Connolly's to his reading of Chesterton's biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Another scholar states that Mr. Blue was based on Chesterton himself

The films Capra made after this period of time all are based on the temptation to faith. Capra continuously felt the pull between faith and science, and his films work out this skepticism. He begins the film with a family and a faith as a hypothesis. Then, he experiments with doubt, despair and tragedy, gets the situation to boil and burn, and find out whether the man will break or survive.

His characters then split into two characters, the idealist and the cynic. The idealist is the good guy, and the cynic is the bad guy. What will happen when their two world collide?

Mr. Deeds is the first film Capra made under the influence of Connolly. Mr. Deeds is based on Mr. Blue. [...]

Capra was also influenced by Eric Gill, and claimed he was a major influence in his life, and Gill was the man who designed Gilbert and Frances Chesterton's gravestone.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

For in this world of ours we do not so much go on and discover small things; rather we go on and discover big things. It is the details that we see first; it is the design that we only see very slowly; and some men die never having seen it at all. We all wake up on a battle-field. We see certain squadrons in certain uniforms gallop past; we take an arbitrary fancy to this or that colour, to this or that plume. But it often takes us a long time to realise what the fight is about or even who is fighting whom [...]  So in the modern intellectual world we can see flags of many colours, deeds of manifold interest; the one thing we cannot see is the map. We cannot see the simplified statement which tells us what is the origin of all the trouble.
-William Blake (1910)

Friday, April 13, 2018

[...] the sort of liberty which the modern world emphatically has not got [is] the real liberty of the mind. It is no longer a question of liberty from kings and captains and inquisitors. It is a question of liberty from catchwords and headlines and hypnotic repetitions and all the plutocratic platitudes imposed on us by advertisement and journalism.
-The Thing (1929)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

[...] the soul never speaks until it speaks in poetry; and that in our daily conversation we do not speak; we only talk.
-"English Literature and the Latin Tradition"
Found in The Soul of Wit: G.K. Chesterton on William Shakespeare (2012)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sometimes the best business of an age is to resist some alien invasion; sometimes to preach practical self-control in a world too self-indulgent and diffused; sometimes to prevent the growth in the State of great new private enterprises that would poison or oppress it. Above all it may sometimes happen that the highest task of a thinking citizen may be to do the exact opposite of the work which the Radicals had to do. It may be his highest duty to cling on to every scrap of the past that he can find, if he feels that the ground is giving way beneath him and sinking into mere savagery and forgetfulness of all human culture.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sometimes the hardest thing of all is to give [one's country] truth.
-Chesterton in a 1901 letter to his wife (quoted in Maisie Ward's biography of GKC)

Monday, April 9, 2018

No man’s really any good till he knows how bad he is, or might be; till he’s realized exactly how much right he has to all this snobbery, and sneering, and talking about ‘criminals,’ as if they were apes in a forest ten thousand miles away; till he’s got rid of all the dirty self-deception of talking about low types and deficient skulls; till he’s squeezed out of his soul the last drop of the oil of the Pharisees; till his only hope is somehow or other to have captured one criminal, and kept him safe and sane under his own hat.
-The Secret of Father Brown (1927)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Liberty is never an easy thing. The man or the nation who seeks liberty under the impression that it is an easy thing has always sunk, and always deserved to sink, back into slavery, which is the very home of ease
-November 13, 1901, Daily News

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A healthy nation must necessarily boast that it is unique, like an orchid. But no healthy nation can with moral safety boast that it is universal, like the flowers of the field.
-June 8, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, April 6, 2018

To amuse oneself is a mark of gaiety, vitality and love of life. To be amused is a mark of melancholy, surrender and a potential of suicide.

The former means that a man's own thoughts are attractive, artistic and satisfying; the latter means that his own thoughts are ugly, unfruitful and stale. And the happiness of a people is not to be judged by the amount of fun provided for them. For fun can be provided as food can be provided; by a few big stores or shops. The happiness of the people is to be judged by the fun that the people provide. In healthier ages any amount of fun was really provided by the people and not merely for the people.
-"Vanity Fair", February 1920
Found in The Soul of Wit: G.K. Chesterton on William Shakespeare (2012)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

[...] for purposes of real public opinion the Press is now a mere plutocratic oligarchy.
-November 12, 1904, Daily News

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

[...] as is commonly the case to-day, hardly anybody makes any attempt at defining the thing he is always denouncing; finding it much easier to denounce than to define.
-Generally Speaking (1928)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"[...] the real habitation of Liberty is the home."

[...] the real habitation of Liberty is the home.  Modern novels and newspapers and problem plays have been piled up in one huge rubbish-heap to hide this simple fact; yet it is a fact that can be proved quite simply.  Public life must be rather more regimented than private life; just as a man cannot wander about in the traffic of Piccadilly exactly as he could wander about in his own garden.  Where there is traffic there will be regulation of traffic; and this is quite as true, or even more true, where it is what we should call an illicit traffic; where the most modern governments organize sterilization to-day and may organize infanticide to-morrow.  Those who hold the modern superstition that the State can do no wrong will be bound to accept such a thing as right.  If individuals have any hope of protecting their freedom, they must protect their family life.  At the worst there will be rather more personal adaptation in a household than in a concentration camp; at the best there will be rather less routine in a family than in a factory.  In any tolerably healthy home the rules are at least partly affected by things that cannot possibly affect fixed laws; for instance, the thing we call a sense of humour.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)