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

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

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

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

-Heretics (1905)

_____________________

"The Speaker" Articles

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

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




Monday, October 22, 2018

Men are progressive because they are a little behind the times. They are reactionary because they are a little in advance of the times. It sounds like a paradox; but it is really a very practical and even inevitable state of things, given certain conditions. Those behind will still cry “Forward!”; and only those far in front will cry “Back!”; when the vanguard of the army has come suddenly to the edge of a precipice.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

For wit is always connected with the idea that truth is close and clear. Humour, on the other hand, is always connected with the idea that truth is tricky and mystical and easily mistaken.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

There are [...] difficulties I feel in this glorification of world government. One is the very simple fact that the real difficulty of representative government is how to make it represent, even in the smallest of small nationalities, even in the nearest parish council. Why should we talk as if we should have more influence over rulers governing the whole earth from Geneva or Chicago, I have never been able to see. Mr. Wells can spread himself in describing how "world controls" would control us. He seems relatively vague about how we should control them.
June 16, 1928, Illustrated London News

Friday, October 19, 2018

The whole curse of the last century has been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole dignity of mankind. When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when he is dead that he swings. But whenever one meets modern thinkers (as one often does) progressing towards a madhouse, one always finds, on inquiry, that they have just had a splendid escape from another madhouse. Thus, hundreds of people become Socialists, not because they have tried Socialism and found it nice, but because they have tried Individualism and found it particularly nasty. Thus, many embrace Christian Science solely because they are quite sick of heathen science; they are so tired of believing that everything is matter that they will even take refuge in the revolting fable that everything is mind. Man ought to march somewhere. But modern man (in his sick reaction) is ready to march nowhere — so long as it is the Other End of Nowhere.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Idleness

[...] idleness is not, as is idly supposed, an empty thing. Idleness can be, and should be, a particularly full thing. [...] Idleness, or leisure [...] is indeed our opportunity of seeing the vision of all things, our royal audience for hearing [...] the stories of all created things. In that hour, if we know how to use it, the [tree] tells its story to us, the stone in the road recites its memoirs, the lamp-post and the paling expatriate on their autobiographies. For as the most hideous nightmare in the world is an empty leisure, so the most enduring pleasure is a full leisure. We can defend ourselves, even on the Day of Judgment, if our work has been useless, with pleas of opportunity, competition, and inheritance. But we cannot look either God or devil in the face if our idleness has been useless.
-November 7, 1901, Daily News

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

I have chosen the subject of the slavery of the mind because I believe many worthy people imagine I am myself a slave. The nature of my supposed slavery I need not name and do not propose specially to discuss. It is shared by every sane man when he looks up a train in Bradshaw. That is, it consists in thinking a certain authority reliable; which is entirely reasonable. Indeed it would be rather difficult to travel in every train to find out where it went. It would be still more difficult to go to the destination in order to discover whether it was safe to begin the journey. Suppose a wild scare arose that Bradshaw was a conspiracy to produce railway accidents, a man might still believe the Guide to be a Guide and the scare to be only a scare; but he would know of the existence of the scare. What I mean by the slavery of the mind is that state in which men do not know of the alternative. It is something which clogs the imagination, like a drug or a mesmeric sleep, so that a person cannot possibly think of certain things at all. It is not the state in which he says, “I see what you mean; but I cannot think that because I sincerely think this” (which is simply rational): it is one in which he has never thought of the other view; and therefore does not even know that he has never thought of it. Though I am not discussing here my own religion, I think it only right to say that its authorities have never had this sort of narrowness. You may condemn their condemnations as oppressive; but not in this sense as obscurantist. St. Thomas Aquinas begins his enquiry by saying in effect, “Is there a God? It would seem not, for the following reasons”; and the most criticised of recent Encyclicals always stated a view before condemning it. The thing I mean is a man’s inability to state his opponent’s view; and often his inability even to state his own.
-The Thing (1929)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why is it that for the last two or three centuries the educated have been generally wrong and the uneducated relatively right? It seems to me that the cultivated class has been actually more practically and pertinaciously mischievous than the ignorant whom they attempted to instruct. The ignorant would actually have been better off without them. They have been examples not only of the blind leading the blind, but of the blind leading the merely short-sighted. What the educated man has generally done was to ram down everybody's throat some premature and priggish theory which he himself afterwards discovered to be wrong; so wrong that he himself generally recoiled from it and went staggering to the opposite extreme. Meanwhile, the ignorant man reacted differently, as soon as the theory had been rammed down his throat, by practically demonstrating that it made him sick. Such a reaction is purely instinctive, but it indicates a condition of health.
-August 9, 1924, Illustrated London News

Monday, October 15, 2018

Then I suddenly saw, as in one obvious picture, that the modern world is an immense and tumultuous ocean, full of monstrous and living things. And I saw that across the top of it is spread a thin, a very thin, sheet of ice, of wicked wealth and of lying journalism.
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties, but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other's eyes out. We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing. We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one. Everyone is indignant if our army is weak, including the people who would be even more indignant if it were strong. The social case is exactly the opposite of the medical case. We do not disagree, like doctors, about the precise nature of the illness, while agreeing about the nature of health. On the contrary, we all agree that England is unhealthy, but half of us would not look at her in what the other half would call blooming health . Public abuses are so prominent and pestilent that they sweep all generous people into a sort of fictitious unanimity. We forget that, while we agree about the abuses of things, we should differ very much about the uses of them. Mr. Cadbury and I would agree about the bad public house. It would be precisely in front of the good public-house that our painful personal fracas would occur.

I maintain, therefore, that the common sociological method is quite useless: that of first dissecting abject poverty or cataloguing prostitution. We all dislike abject poverty; but it might be another business if we began to discuss independent and dignified poverty. We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

[...] public education has not produced an educated public.
-February 8, 1936, Illustrated London News-
[H/T to GKC Daily]

Friday, October 12, 2018

We are never oppressed by old things; it is recent things that can really oppress.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

[...] it is one thing to believe in witches and quite another to believe in witch smellers.
-Eugenics and Other Evils (1917)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

To this age alone belongs a class [...] who deliberately aim at a low standard and often miss it.
-March 2, 1901, Daily News

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"Yes, of course I know him. I don't think anybody knows him very well."

"Sort of book-worm, I suppose," observed Archer.

"Well, we're all worms," remarked Murrel cheerfully, "I suppose a book-worm shows a rather refined and superior taste in diet."
-The Return of Don Quixote (1927)

Monday, October 8, 2018

"They are not making a revolution: they are making a routine."

To be violent on every occasion is inartistic rather than immoral. Once in your life or mine, hardly more than once certainly, it may happen that it is really the right, holy, Christian, and proper thing to do to hit a man in the face. But the effect of this one most delightful episode would most certainly be diminished if I were in the habit of hitting in the face my doctor, solicitor, butcher, baker and tailor as a preliminary to all negotiations. So it seems to me that [they] are making their protests ineffectual. They are not making a revolution: they are making a routine.
-July 7, 1906, Illustrated London News

Sunday, October 7, 2018

For it is a principle of all truly scientific Higher Criticism that any text you do not happen to like is a later monkish interpolation.
-March 5, 1927, Illustrated London News

Saturday, October 6, 2018

I have been in many churches, chapels, and halls where a confident pride in having got beyond creeds was coupled with quite a paralysed incapacity to get beyond catchwords.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Friday, October 5, 2018

The internationalist and the imperialist are not only similar men, but even the same men. There is no country which the Imperialist may not claim to conquer in order to convert. There is no country which the Internationalist may not claim to convert in order to conquer. Whether it is called international law or imperial law, it is the very soul and essence of all lawlessness. Against all such amorphous anarchy stands that great and positive creation of Christendom, the nation, with its standards of liberty and loyalty, with its limits of reason and proportion.
-October 5, 1918, Illustrated London News

Thursday, October 4, 2018

To teach people to believe in God may be in its highest sense a hard task even among Christians. But to prevent people from thinking about God will be an impossible task even among agnostics; or perhaps especially among agnostics.
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

His is one of those who achieve the noblest and most difficult of all the triumphs of a fictitious character-the triumph of giving us the impression of having a great deal more in him than appears between the two boards of a story. Smaller characters give us the impression that the author has told the whole truth about them, greater characters give the impression that the author has given of them, not the truth, but merely a few hints and samples.
Varied Types (1905)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

[...] the essential philosophy of romance [...] is an almost equal betting upon man and destiny.
-Twelve Types (1902)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Chesterton in 1907 writing about Photoshop :-)

There has been much discussion in the papers about the case of Miss Gertie Millar, who brought an action upon the ground that no one had a right to sell a realistic and apparently homogeneous photograph in which the head belonged to one person and the body to another. And the Court decided, it appears, that people have got a right to sell a realistic and apparently homogeneous photograph of which the head belongs to one person and the body to another. The decision certainly sounds very queer. Sketches, dawings, coloured pictures, would not, of course, come into the question; they are obviously fictitious, and therefore cannot be anything more than insults. But a photograph can be made to look as if it were the complete representation of an actual person who at some time stood as though before the camera. That is the whole point of a photograph; it is the only reason that anybody wants a photograph. And it certainly seems alarming to say that this thing which professes to be realistic can be made up lawfully of any combination of heads and arms and legs. There is nothing to prevent my drawing a picture of Dr. Clifford with a devil's tail, or Mr. Blatchford with donkey's ears, or the late Sir Wilfrid Lawson as a crawling serpent, after the simple manner of the more popular valentines-that is, there is nothing to prevent me, except my own feelings of respect for all those three persons. But is it also true that I can exhibit in my shop-window a row of ordinary photographs of ordinary bishops, putting among them a convincing photograph of Dr. Clifford in full Roman canonicals and inscribed with the words, "The Growth of Ritual among Non-Conformists"? Can I really exhibit a photograph headed in large letters "The Conversion of a Sceptic," exhibiting a fine view of the interior of Westminster Abbey, with a figure kneeling with clasped hands, upon which figure I have arbitrarily placed the head of Mr. Blatchford? Should I have been within my rights if in the lifetime of Sir Wilfrid Lawson I had exhibited a photograph of him sprawling across the bar of a pot-house and drinking the health of the barmaid in hot Scotch? In all these cases it seems to me that a photograph would come under something of the nature of libel, because a photograph, by its own photographic nature, claims to be a real scene.
-February 23, 1907, Illustrated London News

Sunday, September 30, 2018

"...the best blasphemy is in the Bible."

[Chesterton commenting on the part of the book of Job in which Job curses the day he was born]

The Book of Job is certainly among "the best that has been written"," etc., and there is something compact and contained in the thought that the best blasphemy is in the Bible [...] Now what can we really pit against a poem like that of Job to express a saner statement about a man's birthday? [...] The best answer to it is not any individual composition; it is a universal custom. It is the simple fact that men do keep birthdays and keep them as feast-days. The answer is in all the birthdays of men and even in the celestial paradox of the birthday of God. Christmas Day is the real answer to the Book of Job. The nativity even of a true Man of Sorrows is itself a day of joys, and even of jokes [..] It is perhaps a less sublime literary achievement to say "Many happy returns of the day" than "May the day perish wherein I was born." But the whole point of it is that, apart from the many happy returns of the day, there will certainly be many happy returns of the remark. The birthday is a dogma no normal men deny, a formula of fundamental confession; and it thanks Heaven by implication for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life [...] If men really thought a baby unlucky for being born, they would have behaved otherwise from the beginning; they would have black-edged cards instead of birthday cards, black bread instead of birthday cake, readings from Schopenhauer instead of Birthday Odes or the more delicate of a man's friends might avoid alluding to his father's son having been born, as they would to his father having been hanged.
-July 5, 1917, The New Witness, "The Pessimist and the Birthday Book"
Found in Brave New Family, ed. Alvaro de Silva (1990)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Men observe the gaps in previous periods; but the corresponding gaps in their own period are literally too large to see.

-April 20, 1906, Daily News

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Jews, with their wonderful instinct for practical religion, swore that he who looked upon Jehovah died; but in a large number of transcendental schools and sages the sentence of death has been commuted to a doom of gibbering idiotcy.
-November 17, 1900, The Speaker

Thursday, September 27, 2018

One broad characteristic belongs to all the schools of thought that are called broad-minded, and that is that their eloquence ends in a sort of silence not very far removed from sleep. One mark distinguishes all the wild innovations and insurrections of modern intellectualism; one note is apparent in all the new and revolutionary religions that have recently swept the world; and that note is dullness. They are too simple to be true. And meanwhile any one Catholic peasant, while holding one small bead of the rosary in his fingers, can be conscious, not of one eternity, but of a complex and almost a conflict of eternities; as, for example, in the relations of Our Lord and Our Lady, of the fatherhood and childhood of God, of the motherhood and childhood of Mary. Thoughts of that kind have in a supernatural sense something analogous to sex; they breed. They are fruitful and multiply; and there is no end to them. They have innumerable aspects; but the aspect that concerns the argument here is this: that a religion which is rich in this sense always has a number of ideas in reserve. Besides the ideas that are being applied to a particular problem of a particular period, there are a number of rich fields of thought which are in that sense lying fallow. Where a new theory, invented to meet a new problem, rapidly perishes with that problem, the old things are always waiting for other problems when they shall in their turn become new. A new Catholic movement is generally a movement to emphasize some Catholic idea that was only neglected in the sense that it was not till then specially needed; but when it was needed, nothing else can meet the need. In other words, the only way really to meet all the human needs of the future is to pass into the possession of all the Catholic thoughts of the past; and the only way to do that is really to become a Catholic.
-Where All Roads Lead (1961)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

One of my friends on Facebook wrote an article on the current situation in the Church which appeared in The Catholic World Report. As the title of the article itself indicates, it builds on Chesterton's chapter in The Everlasting Man, "The Five Deaths of the Faith", which it quotes quite a bit from, with her own commentary as to how it applies to today's crisis. It is an encouraging article, and one I highly recommend reading!

"The Sixth Death of the Church"

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A journalist, describing in the Daily News an interview with Chesterton, includes this delightful tidbit:
At this [Chesterton] drew his basket chair menacingly nearer to me, and I drew my chair nearer to him, while for an hour or more we hurled defiance at each other's creeds. I continued the struggle with indomitable perseverance until he had proved, to my satisfaction and his own exuberant delight, that my Protestantism was merely undeveloped Vaticanism. When, however, he proceeded to disprove my existence, which I value, I ventured to change the subject.
-December 13, 1907, Daily News, "'G.K.C.' at Home"

Monday, September 24, 2018

British author Terry Deary, on being asked which book "would you take to a desert island", replied
I never tire of The Napoleon Of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton. A book written in technicolour. [Source]

Sunday, September 23, 2018

While reading through the Bible the other day, I came across a verse that seems to me to perfectly describe Chesterton, What I mean is that Chesterton's humility and charity was such that so many people who were his greatest enemies on an intellectual level (such as H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, for instance, whom he often debated), nevertheless greatly loved Chesterton and were close friends with him on a personal level. And such seems to me to be an example of this proverb:
"When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:7)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

"I reckon you'll be shocked," replied Greywood Usher, "as I know you don't cotton to the march of science in these matters. I am given a good deal of discretion here, and perhaps take a little more than I'm given; and I thought it was an excellent opportunity to test that Psychometric Machine I told you about. Now, in my opinion that machine can't lie."

"No machine can lie," said Father Brown, "nor can it tell the truth."

"It did in this case, as I'll show you," went on Usher positively. "I sat the man in the ill-fitting clothes in a comfortable chair, and simply wrote words on a blackboard; and the machine simply recorded the variations of his pulse; and I simply observed his manner. The trick is to introduce some word connected with the supposed crime in a list of words connected with something quite different, yet a list in which it occurs quite naturally. Thus I wrote 'heron' and 'eagle' and 'owl,' and when I wrote 'falcon' he was tremendously agitated; and when I began to make an 'r' at the end of the word, that machine just bounded. Who else in this republic has any reason to jump at the name of a newly arrived Englishman like Falconroy except the man who's shot him? Isn't that better evidence than a lot of gabble from witnesses: the evidence of a reliable machine?"

"You always forget," observed his companion, "that the reliable machine always has to be worked by an unreliable machine."

"Why, what do you mean?" asked the detective.

"I mean Man," said Father Brown, "the most unreliable machine I know of. I don't want to be rude; and I don't think you will consider Man to be an offensive or inaccurate description of yourself. You say you observed his manner; but how do you know you observed it right? You say the words have to come in a natural way; but how do you know that you did it naturally? How do you know, if you come to that, that he did not observe your manner? Who is to prove that you were not tremendously agitated? There was no machine tied on to your pulse."

"I tell you," cried the American in the utmost excitement, "I was as cool as a cucumber."

"Criminals also can be as cool as cucumbers," said Brown with a smile. "And almost as cool as you."

"Well, this one wasn't," said Usher, throwing the papers about. "Oh, you make me tired!"

"I'm sorry," said the other. "I only point out what seems a reasonable possibility. If you could tell by his manner when the word that might hang him had come, why shouldn't he tell from your manner that the word that might hang him was coming? I should ask for more than words myself before I hanged anybody."

-The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Thus the Sacrament of Penance gives a new life, and reconciles a man to all living, but it does not do it as the optimists and the hedonists and the heathen preachers of happiness do it. The gift is given at a price, and is conditioned by a confession. In other words, the name of the price is Truth, which may also be called Reality; but it is facing the reality about oneself. When the process is only applied to other people, it is called Realism.
-Autobiography (1936)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Imperialism is not an insanity of patriotism; it is merely an illusion of cosmopolitanism.
-Irish Impressions (1919)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"...they are not submitting a variety of actions to one test; they are applying a variety of tests to one action,"

People will make attempts at despotism, or demands for freedom, successively or even simultaneously, according to a quite arbitrary program of opportunism. And we feel that they are not submitting a variety of actions to one test; they are applying a variety of tests to one action, which is for them already a fixed and settled action. They do what they want, and make up reasons for it afterwards; but even the reasons are rather too cunning to be reasonable. In a word, it is this chaos, in the creed and code of conduct, that prevents a man from finding in it any sort of guide, even a guide to progress.
-All I Survey (1933)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A friend has sent me a sort of guide or prospectus of the food eaten by vegetarians, or, to speak more strictly, I believe, by fruitarians. It has given me more solid pleasure than any book of poetry or philosophy I have read for years. Not that I want to eat the fruitarian foods; Heaven forbid. A man may be interested in the ingenuity and picturesqueness of a scheme of advertisement without having the desperate design of sampling any of the wares. Suppose I had lived in Renaissance Italy, I might have received some pleasant little pamphlet such as this, advertising "Borgia Biscuits; the best for Bishops"; or, "Try Lucrezia, the Latest Soporific; Invariably Ends an Illness"; or, "Pope Alexander's Painless Chianti: the late Cardinal Colonna writes 'Since then I have used no other.' "

In such a case I should order tones of the entertaining prospectus, but none of the food. I feel almost an equal degree of fastidiousness about the Fruit Foods, some of which sound to me as ominous as Borgia Biscuits.
-December 4, 1909, Illustrated London News

Monday, September 17, 2018

Heathenism held the individual as a mere muscle of the State; scepticism is restoring the conception. Therefore the modern sociologists are already beginning to dabble in that dreadful idea of which the old pagans drank deep. I mean Infanticide. Christianity stands in history between them, demanding justice though the heavens fall; and he that is not with her is against her.
-April 9, 1910, Daily News

Sunday, September 16, 2018

No one worth calling a man allows his moods to change his convictions; but it is by moods that we understand other men’s convictions. The bigot is not he who knows he is right; every sane man knows he is right. The bigot is he whose emotions and imagination are too cold and weak to feel how it is that other men go wrong.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

When we really wish to know how the world is going, it is no bad test to take some tag or current phrase of the press and reverse it, substituting the precise contrary, and see whether it makes more sense that way. It generally does; such a mass of outworn conventions has our daily commentary become.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)
But when we are quite sure that we rejoice in a nation's strength, then and not before we are justified in judging its weakness.
-What I Saw in America (1922)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

If there exist plausible reasons for supposing that an innovation is an improvement, then, of course, it is a valid argument to say that many real improvements have been denounced as mere innovations. If I think a man honest, and it is answered that he has been in prison, then it is rational for me to reply that St. Paul or Cervantes was in prison. But it is not rational of me to say that all the people in prison must be like Cervantes or St. Paul. There must be a prima facie case for the new thing; otherwise it is obvious that nothing is being asked of it but newness.
-December 23, 1911, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It is utterly useless to talk about enlarging one's mind with visions of the future. The future does not enlarge one's mind in the least. The future is a blank wall on which I paint my own portrait as large as I like... We are attracted to the future because it is what is called a soft job. In front of us lies an unknown or unreal world which we can mould according to every cowardice or triviality in our temperaments.
-The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

For it is always wiser to consider not so much why a thing is not enjoyable, as why we ourselves do not enjoy it.
-All Is Grist (1931)

Monday, September 10, 2018

There is only one thing in human psychology that deserves to be called courage. That is the power of loving a hopeless cause so much that it becomes a hopeful cause. All courage is the courage of the forlorn hope; you must first accept the forlornness; you must yourself create the hope.
-February 17, 1906, Daily News

Sunday, September 9, 2018

This is what explains the paradox that must still puzzle many of those who have the sense to see it. I mean that the same age which tends to economic slavery tends to social anarchy; and especially to sexual anarchy. So long as men can be driven in droves like sheep, they can be as promiscuous as sheep; so long they are yoked together like cattle, they can, in one sense, breed as casually as cattle. What is lost in both cases is the sense of distinction; first the master's sense of the difference between man and man and then the man's sense of the difference between woman and woman. Plutocracy does not specially fear the natural appetites, because they also, like industrial organization, bring all men to one level; not unlike the level of the beast of the field. Plutocracy only objects to the artificial appetites, such as those for liberty, honour, decency, and private property. So long as it can make sure that a man's work is adequately monotonous and material, it will allow him the sort of pleasure that is really equally material and even monotonous. It offers the bribe of free love to ensure the loss of free labour.
-March 9, 1929, G.K.'s Weekly

Saturday, September 8, 2018

There is no better test of a man's ultimate chivalry and integrity than how he behaves when he is wrong.
-The Common Man (1950)

Friday, September 7, 2018

If there is one point on which the spirit of the poets and the poetic soul in all peoples is on the side of Christianity, it is exactly this one point on which Blake is against Christianity- "was crucified, dead and buried." The spectacle of a God dying is much more grandiose than the spectacle of a man living for ever. The former suggests that awful changes have really entered the alchemy of the universe; the latter is only vaguely reminiscent of hygienic octogenarians and Eno's Fruit Salts.
-William Blake (1910)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Poetry is not a selection of the images which will express a particular thought; it is rather an analysis of the thoughts which are evoked by a certain image.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

But my concern is not with open and direct opponents [...] but with all to whom I might once have looked to defend the country of the Christian altars. They ought surely to know that the foe now on the frontiers offers no terms of compromise; but threatens a compete destruction. And they have sold the pass.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us. The heart of the tree remains the same, however many rings are added to it; and a man cannot leave his heart behind by running hard with his legs.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Monday, September 3, 2018

But I am sure it is a sound principle to have one luxury accompanied by plainer things, like a jewel in a simple setting. This is not identical- indeed, it is inconsistent- with what is commonly called the Simple Life, which generally means a monotonous mediocrity of experience, without either luxury or austerity. The real pleasure-seeking is the combination of luxury and austerity in such a way that the luxury can really be felt. And any sort of crowding together of more or less contradictory pleasures, in contempt of this principle, is not so much pleasure-seeking as pleasure-spoiling. Those who allow the colours of enjoyment thus to kill each other can with strict propriety be called kill-joys.
-August 18, 1923, Illustrated London News

Sunday, September 2, 2018

There is a certain solid use in fools. It is not so much that they rush in where angels fear to tread, but rather that they let out what devils intend to do.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

[...] it is especially awkward, when the young man who has never learned anything except how to hate his own father and grandfather, is suddenly called upon to love all men like brothers.
-November 24, 1934, Illustrated London News

Friday, August 31, 2018

From George Bernard Shaw's review of GKC"s book A Short History of England (the review being printed in The Observer, November 4, 1917):
For Mr. Chesterton knows his epochs, and can tell you when the temple became a den of theives, though he leaves out half the kings and gives never a date at all. Far from being discursive, as the critics are saying, he is at once the most concise and the fullest historian this distressful country has yet found.
[found in G.K. Chesterton: The Critical Judgments, Part I: 1900-1937 ed. by Denis Conlon, p. 352]

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A religion should not only be instinctively absorbent of whatever is consonant with its ideal; it should also be instinctively resistant to anything that is against that ideal. Men look to a faith to purge them of all native poisons, as well as to develop all native functions and pleasures. A church should have drainage as well as ventilation. It should drive bad smells out as well as let good smells in; it should not only cast out devils, but keep them out.
-March 19, 1910, Daily News

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

[...] truth exists whether we like it or not, and [...] it is for us to accommodate ourselves to it.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Anti-clericalism is a healthy Catholic habit, spoilt by the Reformation.
-October 22, 1909, Daily News
[This quote, written while GKC was still an Anglican, is one that struck me when I first read it, but one I'm coming to understand better these days, unfortunately.] 

Monday, August 27, 2018

"The high tide!" King Alfred cried.
"The high tide and the turn!
As a tide turns on the tall grey seas,
See how they waver in the trees,
How stray their spears, how knock their knees,
How wild their watchfires burn!
-The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.
-The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

And the fact which has created (I am sorry to say) a general impression that [they...] are a pack of shuffling humbugs, is exactly the fact that they do [...] give way to merely instinctive tastes and passions at the expense of the first principle which they are supposed to hold [...] They will upset their whole philosophy to upset one person whom they dislike [...] And they think that they can give to reform all its original energy merely because when they see something that they very much want to do, they do it with a great deal of gusto. But the old acts of justice were not most powerful when they were performed with gusto. Rather they were more powerful when they were performed with reluctance. Men thought more of the strength of the creed when they saw the creed compelling the man [...] Political consistency of this kind people felt had something of the naked dignity of the great dogmatic religions which it seemed to ignore. A political faith ought to have, like a religious faith, a slight element of mortification: it ought either to mortify the flesh or, what is (in the case of prigs) much more important and valuable, to mortify the spirit.
-October 12, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, August 24, 2018

"She hasn't got any intellect to speak of; but you don't need any intellect to be an intellectual."
-The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Democracy is never quite democratic except when it is quite direct; and it is never quite direct except when it is quite small. So soon as a mob has grown large enough to have delegates it has grown large enough to have despots; indeed the despots are often much the more representative of the two.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

But any man of moral experience will know that there is no pride so wholesome as the pride in something that does him no credit. That is why love is the parent of the highest pride, because it is pride in a happiness which cannot be anything but undeserved. Similarly it cannot fail to be elevating to a man to boast of great battles that he never saw, and to plume himself with a certain agreeable vanity upon splendid actions that he did not perform. In this kind of exaltation a man is proud at the same moment that he is humble. He feels the profound philosophic truth that his own greatest merits are as much dependent upon nature as the merits of his remotest ancestors. to him his own most dazzling impromptu is as much a gift as the grass in the meadow. He will not therefore resent being called upon to exult in the wonders of other ages or the deeds of other men. No one can have failed to notice that the only kind of conceit which is really vulgar and pitiful is the conceit of the man who has himself something of which to be conceited.
-July 10, 1901, Daily News

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"A taste for low company doesn't make people thieves," said Murrel, "it's generally a taste for high company that does that."
-The Return of Don Quixote (1927)

Monday, August 20, 2018

A poet may be vague, and a mystic hates vagueness. A poet is a man who mixes up heaven and earth unconsciously. A mystic is a man who separates heaven and earth even if he enjoys them both.
-William Blake (1910)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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

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

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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

Friday, August 17, 2018

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

Thursday, August 16, 2018

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

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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

Monday, August 13, 2018

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

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

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

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

Friday, August 10, 2018

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

Thursday, August 9, 2018

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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

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

Monday, August 6, 2018

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

Sunday, August 5, 2018

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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

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

Friday, August 3, 2018

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

Thursday, August 2, 2018

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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

Monday, July 30, 2018

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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

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

Saturday, July 28, 2018

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

Friday, July 27, 2018

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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

Monday, July 23, 2018

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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

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

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Euphemisms

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

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

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

Friday, July 13, 2018

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

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

Saturday, July 7, 2018

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

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

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

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

Monday, July 2, 2018

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

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Organized religion

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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

Saturday, June 23, 2018

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Definitions

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The latest update on GKC's cause:

GK Chesterton's Sainthood Cause May Soon Be Opened

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

Saturday, June 2, 2018

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bunnicula and GKC

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

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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