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

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

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

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

-Heretics (1905)

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"The Speaker" Articles

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

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




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)