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

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

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

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

-Heretics (1905)

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"The Speaker" Articles

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

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




Sunday, 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