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

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

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

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

-Heretics (1905)

_____________________

"The Speaker" Articles

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

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




Tuesday, 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)

Monday, April 2, 2018

"So strong is such a tradition that later generations will dream of what they have never seen."

Perhaps the one rallying point for all Britons is that their songs in America have been songs of exile. The most familiar of them represents the Irishman with his bundle bound for Philadelphia, or the Englishman whistling 'Falmouth is a fine town' as he walks down the street of Baltimore, or the Scotsman rising to that high note not unworthy of the waters of Babylon.
But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.
So strong is such a tradition that later generations will dream of what they have never seen. The nationalism is most intense where the nation is only a name. Irish American is more Irish than Irish. The English colonial loyalist is more loyal than an Englishman. The loves and hatreds harden in that hard air under those clear skies of the western world. They are unsoftened by all internal doubts and criticisms that come from being on the spot.
-William Cobbett (1925)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"He is not dead, even where he is denied."

But above all the prophet was not and is not like other prophets; and the proof of it is to be found not primarily among those who believe in him, but among those who do not.  He is not dead, even where he is denied  [...] Leaving orthodoxy and even sanity entirely on one side, the very heresies and insanities of our time prove that after nearly two thousand years the issue is still living and the name is quite literally one to conjure with.  Let the critics try to conjure with any of the other names.  In the real centres of modern inquiry and mental activity, they will not move even a mystic with the name of Mithras as they will move a materialist with the name of Jesus.  There are men who deny God and accept Christ.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

"...that terrible tree, which was the death of God and the life of man."

And it is very certain that whatever jest or sentiment or fancy first set [Samuel] Johnson touching the wooden posts, he never touched wood with any of the feeling with which he stretched out his hands to the timber of that terrible tree, which was the death of God and the life of man.
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

Friday, March 30, 2018

For nothing is more certain than that though this world is the only world that we have known, or of which we could even dream, the fact does remain that we have named it "a strange world." In other words, we have certainly felt that this world did not explain itself, that something in its complete and patent picture has been omitted. And Browning was right in saying that in a cosmos where incompleteness implies completeness, life implies immortality. This then was the first of the doctrines or opinions of Browning: the hope that lies in the imperfection of man. The second of the great Browning doctrines requires some audacity to express. It can only be properly stated as the hope that lies in the imperfection of God. That is to say, that Browning held that sorrow and self-denial, if they were the burdens of man, were also his privileges. He held that these stubborn sorrows and obscure valours might, to use a yet more strange expression, have provoked the envy of the Almighty. If man has self-sacrifice and God has none, then man has in the Universe a secret and blasphemous superiority. And this tremendous story of a Divine jealousy Browning reads into the story of the Crucifixion. If the Creator had not been crucified He would not have been as great as thousands of wretched fanatics among His own creatures. It is needless to insist upon this point; any one who wishes to read it splendidly expressed need only be referred to "Saul." But these are emphatically the two main doctrines or opinions of Browning which I have ventured to characterise roughly as the hope in the imperfection of man, and more boldly as the hope in the imperfection of God.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

[...] the word Eucharist is but a verbal symbol, we might say a vague verbal mask, for something so tremendous that the assertion and the denial of it have alike seemed a blasphemy: a blasphemy that has shaken the world with the earthquake of two thousand years.
-Christendom in Dublin (1932)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It requires a very wise man indeed to teach fools. But he must be a very hopeless fool whom fools cannot teach.
-October 27, 1905, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

It is one of the deep jokes of existence that very wise people and very ignorant people frequently say the same thing; perhaps it is the basis of democracy. I think I have suggested about two hundred different bases of democracy in this column; and there are more coming. But in any case it is a curious truth that the first word said by the most superficial person is often the same as the last word said by the most profound. Thus, for instance, any hairdresser making futile conversation may say 'It is a strange world.' Really for one awful instant to feel it is a strange world is the last and highest peak of all poetry and philosophy; many prophets and righteous men have desired to see this thing, and have not seen it. The man who meets you in the morning and takes the wild responsibility of applying to the day the adjective 'good' is almost sharing in that strange and awful calm which applied it to all things on the first Sabbath. There is something singularly terrible about this vision of men walking about the world saying mighty things that they do not understand, crying out dreadful messages to which their own ears are deaf. Their words are the words of sages, while their faces are the faces of children. The streets are full of these dead men, talking with living tongues.
-Februar 23, 1907, Daily News

Monday, March 26, 2018

[...] if any of us or all of us are truly optimists, and believe as Browning did, that existence has a value wholly inexpressible, we are most truly compelled to that sentiment not by any argument or triumphant justification of the cosmos, but by a few of these momentary and immortal sights and sounds, a gesture, an old song, a portrait, a piano, an old door.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The only test that can be adequately suggested of a critic's work on a masterpiece is whether it freshens it or makes it stale, whether, like the inferior appreciation, it sends us to our hundredth reading of the work, or whether, like the higher appreciation, it sends us to our first reading of it. There is one kind of criticism which reminds us that we have read a book; there is another and better which convinces us that we have never read it.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Now it was a mark [...] of mediaeval religion that it distrusted prophets. It preferred priests, because priests are not so arrogant. It disliked the man whose only message was himself; it always dreaded him as an egoist [...]
-Introduction to Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle (1909)

Friday, March 23, 2018

We're all really dependent in nearly everything, and we all make a fuss about being independent in something.
-The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.
-May 21, 1927, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The truth I think is this: that since the triumph of what was called rationalism, we have successfully cultivated everything except reason. Many modern minds, not only eminent but normal modern minds, have been trained to a quite exquisite appreciation of art or music or landscape; and can detect and even describe fine shades in these things, that would probably have been missed altogether by Aristotle or Dr. Johnson. But if it came to argument, to clear and connected argument, either Aristotle or Dr. Johnson would have thought he had got into an infant school. Dr. Johnson would probably have said an idiot school. But I do not say it; having no claim to emulate Dr. Johnson in his talents and virtues, I need not needlessly emulate him in his faults and exaggerations. The men with this mental disproportion are not fools; many of them are brilliant and subtle writers along literary lines, where I could never hope to follow them. But they seem somehow to have forgotten how to set about forming a reasonable conclusion about anything. They are masters in the art of appreciating, describing, and analysing impressions; but they do not seem to know how to make any deductions [...]  when he is asked to test the impression in relation to truth, he does not seem to know the technique of such a test.
-Avowals and Denials (1935)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

[...] marriage is like a splendid game of see-saw.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Existence often ceases to be beautiful; but if we are men at all it never ceases to be interesting. This divine creation in the midst of which we live does commonly, in the words of the good books, combine amusement with instruction. But dark hours will come when the wisest man can hardly get instruction out of it; but a brave man can always get amusement out of it. When we have given up valuing life for every other reason, we can still value it, like the glass stick, as a curiosity. For the universe is like the glass stick in this, at any rate; it is unique.
-The Glass Walking Stick (1955)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chesterton cheered at the dedication of Notre Dame Stadium

Chesterton, at the dedication of Notre Dame Stadium:
The Chesterton party arrived at Notre Dame on the evening of October 4th, 1930. The lectures began on the following Monday. On Friday, the 10th, in the evening, the stadium was solemnly dedicated. Navy had come on for the dedicatory game, and [University President] Father O'Donnell was busy with them. He had told Johnny Mangan, the University chauffeur, to look after the Chestertons, and to see that they got into the stadium and that Mr. Chesterton had a seat on the platform from which the speeches were to be made, There were about twenty thousand people present, and when the students saw the magnificent bulk of Chesterton going toward the platform, they cheered wildly: "He's a man! Who's a man? He's a Notre Dame man!" Chesterton turned nervously to Mangan, saying: "My, they're angry!" "Angry!" exclaimed Johnny, "golly man, they're cheerin' you!" Whereat Chesterton began such a fit of laughing and sputtering as almost to choke himself.
-"Notre Dame: One Hundred Years" (Arthur J. Hope, C.S.C.)[emphasis mine]

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Here is a long passage from Chesterton on socialism (from his "Notebook", I think?) that was never published during his lifetime, and written when he was in his early 20's, before he was even a committed Christian, much less a Catholic (and before his literary career had even begun).

He had supported socialism when he was a teenager, and while he was never a fan of capitalism, as he defined it, to the end of his life (especially given the circumstances of his own day with all the monopolies and poor and unsafe conditions for workers, etc, but also because of his distributist beliefs), he came to see socialism as a deeply flawed solution, even while recognizing the nobility of the motives of many of the people supporting it. (Recall this passage, for instance, was written long before the Russian revolution, and so many good people who detested the admittedly abominable conditions of laissez faire capitalism, at least relatively speaking, of that day looked to socialism as a remedy ). And in this passage, again written in his early 20's (in the mid-to-late 1890's)....he shows precisely where it differs from early Christian practice, which it was (and is) often said to imitate 

Something in the evil spirit of our time forces people always to pretend to have found some material and mechanical explanation [...] It never crosses the modern mind to fancy that perhaps a people is chiefly influenced by how that people has chosen to behave.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Friday, March 16, 2018

[G.F. Watts] may not be certain that he is successful, or certain that he is great, or certain that he is good, or certain that he is capable; but he is certain that he is right. It is of course the very element of confidence which has in our day become least common and least possible. We know we are brilliant and distinguished, but we do not know we are right. We swagger in fantastic artistic costumes; we praise ourselves; we fling epigrams right and left; we have the courage to play the egoist and the courage to play the fool, but we have not the courage to preach.
-G.F. Watts (1904)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The next best thing to really loving a fellow creature is really hating him: especially when he is a poorer man separated from you otherwise by mere social stiffness. The desire to murder him is at least an acknowledgment that he is alive. Many a man has owed the first white gleams of the dawn of Democracy in his soul to a desire to find a stick and beat the butler.
-The Flying Inn (1914)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Spanish people think Cervantes
Equal to half a dozen Dantes,
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

She thought nothing should be wasted; and could not see that even a thing consumed is wasted if it is not wanted.
-Autobiography (1936)

Monday, March 12, 2018

The sin of sentimentalism only occurs when somebody indulges a feeling, sometimes even a real feeling, to the prejudice of something equally real, which also has it's rights.
-August 10, 1927, Illustrated London News

Sunday, March 11, 2018

"..the inevitable result of love, which is incarnation; and the inevitable result of incarnation, which is crucifixion..."

The final decision of Peter Pan was a bad example of having it both ways. What is really wrong with that delightful masterpiece is that the master asked a question and ought to have answered it. But he could not bring himself to answer it- or rather, he tried to say "yes" and "no" in one word. A very fine problem of poetic philosophy might be presented as the problem of Peter Pan. He is represented as a sort of everlasting elf, a child who never changes age after age, but who in this story falls in love with a little girl who is a normal person. He is given his choice between becoming normal with her or remaining immortal without her, and either choice might have been made a fine and effective thing. He might have said that he was a god- that he loved all, but could not live for any; that he belonged not to them but to multitudes of unborn babes. Or he might have chosen love, with the inevitable result of love, which is incarnation; and the inevitable result of incarnation, which is crucifixion- yes, if it were only crucifixion by becoming a clerk in a bank and growing old. But it was the fork of the road; and even in fairyland you cannot walk down two roads at once. The one real fault of sentimentalism in this fairy play is the compromise that is ultimately made, whereby he shall go free for ever, but meet his human friend once a year. Like most practical compromises, it is the most unpractical of all possible courses of action. Even the baby in that nursery could have seen that Wendy would be ninety in no time, after what would appear to her immortal lover a mere idle half-hour.
-August 20, 1927, Illustrated London News

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Chesterton in a letter to Mrs. John Lane, writing concerning a group called "The Peckham Ethical Fellowship":
Isn't it too beautiful? I'm sure they come out of a book. I only wish they'd go back into it.
[quoted in G.K. Chesterton: A Biography by Ian Ker, p. 139]

Sorry, but that made me laugh, so I had to share it for some light-hearted fun. :-)

Friday, March 9, 2018

[...] the basest of pleasures [is] the pleasure of being pained [...] the pleasure of being shocked, the pleasure of being censorious- in a word, the pleasure of scandal.
-August 18, 1923, Illustrated London News

Thursday, March 8, 2018

At its noblest [the humanitarian cause] meant a sort of mystical identification of our life with the whole life of nature. [...] Man might be a network of exquisite nerves running over the whole universe, a subtle spider’s web of pity.  This was a fine conception; though perhaps a somewhat severe enforcement of the theological conception of the special divinity of man.  For the humanitarians certainly asked of humanity what can be asked of no other creature; no man ever required a dog to understand a cat or expected the cow to cry for the sorrows of the nightingale.

Hence this sense has been strongest in saints of a very mystical sort; such as St. Francis who spoke of Sister Sparrow and Brother Wolf.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

[...] Dickens had hold of one great truth, the neglect of which has, as it were, truncated and made meagre the work of many brilliant modern novelists. Modern novelists try to make long novels out of subtle characters. But a subtle character soon comes to an end, because it works in and in to its own centre and dies there. But a simple character goes on for ever in a fresh interest and energy, because it works out and out into the infinite universe.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lucifer made an angry movement and opened his mouth to speak, but Michael, with all his air of deliberation, was proceeding before he could bring out a word.

"I once knew a man like you, Lucifer," he said, with a maddening monotony and slowness of articulation. "He took this——"

"There is no man like me," cried Lucifer, with a violence that shook the ship.

"As I was observing," continued Michael, "this man also took the view that the symbol of Christianity was a symbol of savagery and all unreason. His history is rather amusing. It is also a perfect allegory of what happens to rationalists like yourself. He began, of course, by refusing to allow a crucifix in his house, or round his wife's neck, or even in a picture. He said, as you say, that it was an arbitrary and fantastic shape, that it was a monstrosity, loved because it was paradoxical. Then he began to grow fiercer and more eccentric; he would batter the crosses by the roadside; for he lived in a Roman Catholic country. Finally in a height of frenzy he climbed the steeple of the Parish Church and tore down the cross, waving it in the air, and uttering wild soliloquies up there under the stars. Then one still summer evening as he was wending his way homewards, along a lane, the devil of his madness came upon him with a violence and transfiguration which changes the world. He was standing smoking, for a moment, in the front of an interminable line of palings, when his eyes were opened. Not a light shifted, not a leaf stirred, but he saw as if by a sudden change in the eyesight that this paling was an army of innumerable crosses linked together over hill and dale. And he whirled up his heavy stick and went at it as if at an army. Mile after mile along his homeward path he broke it down and tore it up. For he hated the cross and every paling is a wall of crosses. When he returned to his house he was a literal madman. He sat upon a chair and then started up from it for the cross-bars of the carpentry repeated the intolerable image. He flung himself upon a bed only to remember that this, too, like all workmanlike things, was constructed on the accursed plan. He broke his furniture because it was made of crosses. He burnt his house because it was made of crosses. He was found in the river."

Lucifer was looking at him with a bitten lip.

"Is that story really true?" he asked.

"Oh, no," said Michael, airily. "It is a parable. It is a parable of you and all your rationalists. You begin by breaking up the Cross; but you end by breaking up the habitable world [...]"
-The Ball and the Cross (1909)
Incidentally, here is a link to Pope John Paul I commenting on this very passage

Monday, March 5, 2018

Indeed the vulgar rumour is nearly always much nearer the historical truth than the "educated" opinion of to-day; for tradition is truer than fashion.
-A Short History of England (1917)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

" [...] you never know the best about men till you know the worst about them."

"Did you think there was nothing but evil at the bottom of them?" he asked, gently. "Did you think I had found nothing but filth in the deep seas into which fate has thrown me? Believe me, you never know the best about men till you know the worst about them [...] I tell you it is as true of these rich fools and rascals as it is true of every poor footpad and pickpocket; that only God knows how good they have tried to be. God alone knows what the conscience can survive, or how a man who has lost his honor will still try to save his soul."
-The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A reactionary [...] means a conservative in revolt
-Introduction to Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle (1909)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Nothing is more striking (to anyone who feels the Bible as a live thing) than the contrast between the careless commonsense with which Christ and His Apostles admit the need of rulers and the mysterious and authoritative violence with which they declare that the mighty shall be plucked from their seat and the rich shut out of the Kingdom. There is mere light reasonableness in Christ's tone towards the tribute to Caesar. 'Look at a penny for yourself; after all, Caesar mints them; give the man the benefit of the work he does in the world.' There is the same practical tone in St. Paul about the magistrate; 'He beareth not the sword in vain.' That is exactly what a sane mystic does feel about the magistrate; 'After all, he's not there for nothing; there must be some sense in the human tradition of civil obedience.' It is in a very different tone, a tone of apocalyptic truth and terrible reality, that they speak of the spiritual state of rulers, damned in the purple and fine linen or eaten by their gold as by fire. It is arguably Christian to say that wealth and leisure are necessary for a State, but not that they are good for a soul. A Christian might say that the rich we have always with us. But it is not Christian to say that they are anything but a necessary evil. Put not your trust in princes even if you obey them.
-July 17, 1909, Daily News

Thursday, March 1, 2018

George Orwell, commenting on Chesterton and Belloc:
Many earlier writers have foreseen the emergence of a new kind of society, neither capitalist nor Socialist, and probably based upon Slavery...A good example is Hilaire Belloc's book, The Servile State, published in 1911 [sic]...The remedy he suggests, [a return to small-scale peasant ownership] is for many reasons impossible; still it does foretell with remarkable insight the kind of things that have been happening from about 1930 onwards. Chesterton, in a less methodical way, predicted the disappearance of democracy and private property, and the rise of a slave society which might be called either capitalist or Communist.'
[quoted by Fr. Ian Boyd in his book The Novels of G.K. Chesterton, p. 204. The quote is from Orwell's essay "James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution"]

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

[..] there plunged in all the people who think they can solve a problem they cannot understand by abolishing everything that has contributed to it. We all know these people. If a barber has cut his customer's throat because the girl has changed her partner for a dance or donkey ride on Hampstead Heath, there are always people to protest against the mere institutions that led up to it. This would not have happened if barbers were abolished, or if cutlery were abolished, or if the objection felt by girls to imperfectly grown beards were abolished, or if the girls were abolished, or if heaths and open spaces were abolished, or if dancing were abolished, or if donkeys were abolished. But donkeys, I fear, will never be abolished.
-The Flying Inn (1914)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

It is a great pity that our headlong and hurried Press is always half a century behind the times. The reason is in no way recondite; it is behind the times because it is hurried and headlong. That which is forced to be rapid is specially likely to be trite [...] Upon this very simple fact of human nature- that bustle always means banality- the whole gigantic modern Press, the palladum of our liberties, is built. Leader-writers write the flattest Liberalism or Toryism to feed the impatient printing-machines, just as private persons scribble their dullest and most conventional notes to catch the post. But the principle extents to the theories as well as the expression of them.
-March 26, 1910, Illustrated London News

Monday, February 26, 2018

It is difficult in these days to escape from the topic of politics even by deliberately talking about something else. For there are a considerable number of people who will at once attribute any disaster, from the weather to the Brighton railway smash, to the particular politicians whom they dislike.
-February 19, 1910, Illustrated London News

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Marriage is not a mere chain upon love as the anarchists say; nor is it a mere crown upon love as the sentimentalists say. Marriage is a fact, an actual human relation like that of motherhood which has certain human habits and loyalties, except in a few monstrous cases where it is turned to torture by special insanity and sin. A marriage is neither an ecstasy nor a slavery; it is a commonwealth; it is a separate working and fighting thing like a nation. Kings and diplomatists talk of “forming alliances” when they make weddings; but indeed every wedding is primarily an alliance. The family is a fact even when it is not an agreeable fact, and a man is part of his wife even when he wishes he wasn’t. The twain are one flesh — yes, even when they are not one spirit. Man is duplex. Man is a quadruped.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

THE ALMIGHTY STICK
"Daily News", October 23, 1909



We do not need the learned man to teach us the important things.  We all know the important things, though we all violate and neglect them.  Gigantic industry, abysmal knowledge, are needed for the discovery of the tiny things — the things that seem hardly worth the trouble.  Generally speaking, the ordinary man should be content with the terrible secret that men are men — which is another way of saying that they are brothers.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Friday, February 23, 2018

A perfect description of most political debates these days...

There is one little habit of some of the most intelligent modern writers against which I should like to protest. It consists of flatly refusing to state somebody else's opinion as it stands; and consider it on its own merits. The modern writer must always assume that it is a choice between his own extreme opinion and something at the other extreme.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy prepares sermons and speeches with exceptional thoroughness. A voracious reader, especially of biography, history, and current affairs, he cultivated a nearly photographic memory for the printed word and could assimilate a page swiftly, whether newspaper (subscriber to many) or book. Ruth extends his range, being an even more dedicated bookworm, distilling for him her browsing in C.S. Lewis, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Blaise Pascal, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, and much more:poetry, literature, Bible studies, and other areas.
-The Billy Graham Story, Revd. Dr John Charles Pollock (2011)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"...he may be said to have heckled himself for hundreds of pages.".

Now the Schoolman always had two ideas in his head; if they were only the Yes and No of his own proposition. The Schoolman was not only the schoolmaster but also the schoolboy; he examined himself; he cross-examined himself; he may be said to have heckled himself for hundreds of pages. Nobody can read St. Thomas's theology without hearing all the arguments against St. Thomas's theology. Therefore, even when that sort of faith produced what many would call ferocity, it always produced what I mean here by fairness; the almost involuntary intellectual fairness of one who cannot help knowing that the universe is a many-sided thing. That is precisely the temper of Chaucer; and that is what I mean when I say that he got his broad-mindedness from his theology; though it was not what is now generally meant by a broad theology. The essential point is that it was not a simple theology.
-Chaucer (1932)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.
-St. Francis of Assissi (1923)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.
-The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

In all these pictures and painted medieval Bibles or missals there are traces of many fancies and fashions, but there is not even the trace of a trace of this one modern heresy of artistic monotone. There is not the trace of a trace of this idea of the keeping of comedy out of tragedy. The moderns who disbelieve in Christianity treat it much more reverently than these Christians who did believe in Christianity. The wildest joke in Voltaire is not wilder than some of the jokes coloured here by men, meek and humble, in their creed.

To mention one thing out of a thousand, take this. I have seen a picture in which the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse was included among the animals in Noah's Ark, and duly provided with a seven-headed wife to assist him in propagating that important race to be in time for the Apocalypse. If Voltaire had thought of that, he would certainly have said it. But the restrictions of these men were restrictions of external discipline: they were not like ours, restrictions of mood. It might be a question how far people should be allowed to make jokes about Christianity; but there was no doubt that they should be allowed to feel jokes about it. There was no question of that merely impressional theory that we should look through only one peep-hole at a time. Their souls were at least stereoscopic. They had nothing to do with that pictorial impressionism which means closing one eye. They had nothing to do with that philosophical impressionism which means being half-witted.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Modern education means handing down the customs of the minority, and rooting out the customs of the majority. [...] the poor have imposed on them mere pedantic copies of the prejudices of the remote rich.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Friday, February 16, 2018

It is not self-evident that the tragic phase of life only follows on exceptional folly, and the fallacy was noted some time ago by the Tower of Siloam and the Ash-heap of Job.
-All I Survey (1933)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The advantage of an elementary philosophic habit is that it permits a man, for instance, to understand a statement like this, “Whether there can or can not be exceptions to a process depends on the nature of that process.” The disadvantage of not having it is that a man will turn impatiently even from so simple a truism; and call it metaphysical gibberish.  He will then go off and say: “One can’t have such things in the twentieth century”; which really is gibberish.  Yet the former statement could surely be explained to him in sufficiently simple terms.  If a man sees a river run downhill day after day and year after year, he is justified in reckoning, we might say in betting, that it will do so till he dies.  But he is not justified in saying that it cannot run uphill, until he really knows why it runs downhill.  To say it does so by gravitation answers the physical but not the philosophical question.  It only repeats that there is a repetition; it does not touch the deeper question of whether that repetition could be altered by anything outside it.  And that depends on whether there is anything outside it.  For instance, suppose that a man had only seen the river in a dream.  He might have seen it in a hundred dreams, always repeating itself and always running downhill.  But that would not prevent the hundredth dream being different and the river climbing the mountain; because the dream is a dream, and there is something outside it.  Mere repetition does not prove reality or inevitability.  We must know the nature of the thing and the cause of the repetition.  If the nature of the thing is a Creation, and the cause of the thing a Creator, in other words if the repetition itself is only the repetition of something willed by a person, then it is not impossible for the same person to will a different thing.  If a man is a fool for believing in a Creator, then he is a fool for believing in a miracle; but not otherwise.  Otherwise, he is simply a philosopher who is consistent in his philosophy.

A modern man is quite free to choose either philosophy.  But what is actually the matter with the modern man is that he does not know even his own philosophy; but only his own phraseology.  He can only answer the next spiritual message produced by a spiritualist, or the next cure attested by doctors at Lourdes, by repeating what are generally nothing but phrases; or are, at their best, prejudices.
-The Common Man (1950)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

[A piece that Chesterton wrote for his wife, before they were married]

To My Lady

God made you very carefully,
He set a star apart for it,
He stained it green and gold with fields
And aureoled it with sunshine,
He peopled it with kings, peoples, republics,
And so made you very, very carefully.
All nature is God's book, filled with his rough sketches for you.

[quoted in Wisdom and Innocence by Joseph Pearce, pp. 37-38]

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chesterton prophesying cable news shouting matches...

[...] he who has the impatience to interrupt the words of another seldom has the patience rationally to select his own.
-The Judgment of Dr. Johnson (1927)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Chesterton prophesying Autocorrect...

[...] the very worst sort of mistakes are those that are not mistakes, but the corrections of mistakes. The worst howlers come from correctness and not from carelessness.
-November 3, 1928, Illustrated London News

Sunday, February 11, 2018

I have always understood that charity meant a kind and reverent handling of the actions of sinners, an allowance for their temptations, an unconquerable hope for their souls. I do not quite understand what charity can have to do with the denying of the existence of the sin. If you admit that Lord Foodle or Mr. Nathan Boodle have committed crimes; then I will show them charity and enough to melt a mad elephant. But if you say they have not, then either you are not a charitable man, but an ordinary normal liar, or else they are blameless people and not objects of charity at all. Charity does not hide sins. Charity exposes sins, but exposes also their excuses. Charity does not ask us to flatter the tyrant in his strength. Charity asks us to pity the tyrant in his weakness. Charity has for its business the searching out of the deepest and darkest part of a man, which is often also the most lovable; charity finds those secret and perverse ideals of which the criminal himself will not speak, and reveals the strange extenuations which he hides more cravenly than his crimes.
-August 5, 1905, Daily News

Saturday, February 10, 2018

In the Morning Post only this morning I see a solemn leading article blaming a politician for attacking an editor. Seeing that editors have no other purpose on this planet except to attack politicians, I cannot very clearly see where the wickedness comes in. Is an editor a soldier, or is he only a spy? The Morning Post speaks of the "courage" of the Spectator. Really, with the kindest will in the world, I do not think it requires much "courage" to maintain any of the opinions of the Spectator. But, according to the Morning Post, it must be positively cowardly; for it is free to attack statesmen because they have no right of reply.
-November 12, 1910, Illustrated London News

Friday, February 9, 2018

"...to be a failure may be one step to being a saint."

[...] Dickens shows none of that dreary submission to the environment of the irrevocable that had for an instant lain on him like a cloud. On this occasion he sees with the old heroic clarity that to be a failure may be one step to being a saint. On the third day he rose again from the dead.
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

All men are ordinary men. The extraordinary men are those who know it.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

We must not hate humanity, or despise humanity, or refuse to help humanity; but we must not trust humanity; in the sense of trusting a trend in human nature which cannot turn back to bad things. “Put not your trust in princes; nor in any child of man.” That is the precise point of this very practical sort of politics. Be a Royalist if you like (and there is a vast amount to be said, and a vast amount being said, just now, for more personal and responsible rule); try a Monarchy if you think it will be better; but do not trust a Monarchy, in the sense of expecting that a monarch will be anything but a man. Be a Democrat if you like (and I shall always think it the most generous and the most fundamentally Christian ideal in politics); express your sense of human dignity in manhood suffrage or any other form of equality; but put not your trust in manhood suffrage or in any child of man. There is one little defect about Man, the image of God, the wonder of the world and the paragon of animals; that he is not to be trusted. If you identify him with some ideal, which you choose to think is his inmost nature or his only goal, the day will come when he will suddenly seem to you a traitor.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The new method of journalism is to offer so many comments or, at least, secondary circumstances that there is actually no room left for the original facts.
-November 6, 1909, Illustrated London News
[H/T G.K. Chesterton Facebook page]

Monday, February 5, 2018

"The man whom I accuse has no right merely to say that I insult him; I do not insult, I accuse."

Everyone discusses whether such a statement is an insult; no one whether it is a truth. But in any matter of public good, insult is irrelevancy. If a thing is false it is not an insult; it is a lie. If it is true it is not an insult; it is an exposure. If I call out in a crowd, 'This man has picked my pocket', I am not to be objected to merely because I am noisy. I am either a slanderer or I am a public servant. In neither case am I a mere rioter. The man whom I accuse has no right merely to say that I insult him; I do not insult, I accuse.
-February 24, 1906, Daily News

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Neil Gorsuch quotes GKC

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently quoted GKC. (Well, technically, he alluded to a passage from him, anyway).
But in a dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch said Ginsberg had gotten the issues all wrong in the case. He was joined in dissent by justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Borrowing from the English writer and philosopher G.K. Chesterton, Gorsush  [sic] said there’s a danger in clearing away “a fence just because we cannot see its point.”

“Even if a fence doesn’t seem to have a reason, sometimes all that means is we need to look more carefully for the reason it was built in the first place,” he said. “The same might be said about the law before us.”

To Gorsush [sic] what Ginsburg and her colleagues in the majority had done was clear away a traditional rule cause they mistakenly overlooked the original reasons for it [...]

Gorush [sic] concluded by accusing the majority of clearing away a fence “that once marked a basic boundary between federal and state power.

“Maybe it wasn’t the most vital fence and maybe we’ve just simply forgotten why this particular fence was built in the first place. But maybe, too, we’ve forgotten because we’ve wandered so far from the idea of a federal government of limited and enumerated powers that we’ve begun to lose sight of what it looked like in the first place,” Gorsuch wrote.
[Source]

And here is the passage in GKC's writing to which he alludes.
The point is not that if we go on as we are we shall collide with some frightful fate. The point is rather that unless we make a magnificent effort, our frightful fate will be- to go on as we are.
-February 24, 1906, Daily News

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The soldier in all ages has been regarded as a man in so very extraordinary a position that a particular glory surrounded him because he had to endure it. For a desperate need of the Commonwealth he is a sort of splendid slave. The nation which takes away from him the most ordinary human rights tries to give him as some sort of compensation the military legend. Take that away, and he would be strictly a slave.
-April 2, 1904, Daily News

Friday, February 2, 2018

People have got into their heads an extraordinary idea that English public-school boys and English youth generally are taught to tell the truth. They are taught absolutely nothing of the kind. At no English public school is it even suggested, except by accident, that it is a man’s duty to tell the truth. What is suggested is something entirely different: that it is a man’s duty not to tell lies. So completely does this mistake soak through all civilisation that we hardly ever think even of the difference between the two things. When we say to a child, “You must tell the truth,” we do merely mean that he must refrain from verbal inaccuracies. But the thing we never teach at all is the general duty of telling the truth, of giving a complete and fair picture of anything we are talking about, of not misrepresenting, not evading, not suppressing, not using plausible arguments that we know to be unfair, not selecting unscrupulously to prove an ex parte case, not telling all the nice stories about the Scotch, and all the nasty stories about the Irish, not pretending to be disinterested when you are really angry, not pretending to be angry when you are really only avaricious. The one thing that is never taught by any chance in the atmosphere of public schools is exactly that—that there is a whole truth of things, and that in knowing it and speaking it we are happy.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Philanthropists too frequently forget that pity is quite a different thing from sympathy; for sympathy means suffering with others and not merely being sorry that they suffer. If the strong brotherhood of men is to abide, if they are not to break up into groups alarmingly like different species, we must keep this community of tastes in giver and received. We must not only share our bread, but share our hunger.
-The Glass Walking-Stick (1955)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I think "Macbeth" the one supreme drama because it is the one Christian drama; and I will accept the accusation of prejudice. But I mean by Christian (in this matter) the strong sense of spiritual liberty and of sin; the idea that the best man can be as bad as he chooses. You may call Othello a victim of chance. You may call Hamlet a victim of temperament. You cannot call Macbeth anything but a victim of Macbeth. The evil spirits tempt him, but they never force him; they never even frighten him. for he is a very brave man. I have often wondered that no one has made so obvious a parallel as that between the murders of Macbeth and the marriages of Henry VIII. Both Henry and Macbeth were originally brave, good-humoured men, better rather than worse than their neighbours. Both Henry and Macbeth hesitated over their first crime- the first stabbing and the first divorce. Both found out the fate which is in evil- for Macbeth went on murdering and poor Henry went on marrying. There is only one fault in the parallel. Unfortunately for history, Henry VIII was not deposed.
--March 16, 1912, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I could give many instances of this notion of curing the evil by carrying it a little further. Thus modern people are trying to heal the division of families by more division of families- by the final division called divorce. Thus modern people are trying to remedy the monstrous concentration of wealth by more concentration of wealth- by the central and final concentration of it which is called Collectivism. The Modern Spirit (to which, apparently, God and Man must bow), has decided to unite the property and divide the families. I, in my simplicity, should have supposed it better to unite the families and divide the property. but the Modern Spirit (to which, etc.), is on the other side; since it is mostly run by American millionaires, who are already separated from their own wives and united to other people's property.
-February 17, 1912, Daily News

Monday, January 29, 2018

First people argued with other people and made newspapers to print their arguments; then they hid behind their own newspapers and read only their own arguments. The result has been that true controversy has become almost impossible, because the judge who hears the counsel for the prosecution is not the same as he who hears the counsel for the defence.
-February 12, 1910, Illustrated London News