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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What is wrong with [the new theological literature] is not that it professes to state the paradox of God, but that it professes to state the paradox of God as a truism. You may or may not be able to reveal the divine secret; but at least you cannot let it leak out. If ever it comes, it will be unmistakable, it will kill or cure. Judaism, with its dark sublimity, said that if a man saw God he would die. Christianity conjectures that (by an even more catastrophic fatality) if he sees God he will live for ever. But whatever happens will be something decisive and indubitable. A man after seeing God may die; but at least he will not be slightly unwell, and then have to take a little medicine and then have to call in a doctor. If any of us ever do read the riddle, we shall read it in brutal black and blazing white, exactly as we do read the riddle of some sixpenny mystery of murder. If we ever do find the solution, we shall know that it is the right solution.
-The Common Man (1950)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

[Mr. Blatchford said] that although people ought not to be blamed for their actions, yet they ought to be trained to do better. They ought, he said, to be given better conditions of heredity and environment, and then they would be good, and the problem would be solved. The primary answer is obvious. How can one say that a man ought not to be held responsible, but ought to be well trained? For if he "ought" to be well trained, there must be somebody who "ought" to train him. And that man must be held responsible for training him. The proposition has killed itself in three sentences. Mr. Blatchford has not removed the necessity for responsibility merely by saying that humanity, instead of being dealt with by the hangmen, ought to be dealt with by the doctors. For, upon the whole, and supposing I required the services of either, I think I would sooner be dealt with by an irresponsible hangman than by an irresponsible doctor.
-The Blatchford Controversies (1903)

Monday, October 29, 2018

It is easy to have the impartiality which can speak judicially of both parties, but it is not so easy to have that larger and higher impartiality which can speak passionately on behalf of both parties.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I would rather a boy learnt in the roughest school the courage to hit a politician, or gained in the hardest school the learning to refute him - rather than that he should gain in the most enlightened school the cunning to copy him.
-August 31, 1912, Illustrated London News

Saturday, October 27, 2018

"The only way to fight anything is to fight its ideal"

The only way to fight anything is to fight its ideal; which is its principle of life. I can only convey what I mean by instances [...] If I say (as I do) that I am against Buddhism, I mean that I am against ideal Buddhism. I do not mean that I am against real Buddhism; I am against real Christianity, if it comes to that. There may have been Grand Lamas more wicked than the worst Popes; I count that utterly frivolous and pointless in the attack on a religion. The worst of every creed is as bad as can be. But you do not attack a religion until you say sincerely that even its best is bad [...] I do not think even its ideal ideal.
-November 12, 1910, Daily News

Friday, October 26, 2018

When the soul really wakes it always deals directly with the nearest things. If, let us say, a man woke up in bed from a celestial dream which told him to go on painting till all was blue, he would begin by painting himself blue, then his bed blue, and so on. But he would be using all the machinery that came to hand; and that is exactly what always happens in real spiritual revolutions. They work by their environment even when they alter it.

Thus, when professors tell us that the Christians “borrowed” this or that fable or monster from the heathens, it is as if people said that a bricklayer had “borrowed” his bricks from clay, or a chemist had “borrowed” his explosives from chemicals; or that the Gothic builders of Lincoln or Beauvais had “borrowed” the pointed arch from the thin lattices of the Moors. Perhaps they did borrow it, but (by heaven!) they paid it back.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"For there is nothing so delightful as a nightmare - when you know it is a nightmare."

For there is nothing so delightful as a nightmare — when you know it is a nightmare.

That is the essential. That is the stern condition laid upon all artists touching this luxury of fear. The terror must be fundamentally frivolous. Sanity may play with insanity; but insanity must not be allowed to play with sanity. Let such poets as the one I was reading in the garden, by all means, be free to imagine what outrageous deities and violent landscapes they like. By all means let them wander freely amid their opium pinnacles and perspectives. But these huge gods, these high cities, are toys; they must never for an instant be allowed to be anything else. Man, a gigantic child, must play with Babylon and Nineveh, with Isis and with Ashtaroth. By all means let him dream of the Bondage of Egypt, so long as he is free from it. By all means let him take up the Burden of Tyre, so long as he can take it lightly. But the old gods must be his dolls, not his idols. His central sanctities, his true possessions, should be Christian and simple. And just as a child would cherish most a wooden horse or a sword that is a mere cross of wood, so man, the great child, must cherish most the old plain things of poetry and piety; that horse of wood that was the epic end of Ilium, or that cross of wood that redeemed and conquered the world.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"God is not a symbol of goodness. Goodness is a symbol of God."

An allegory nowadays means taking something that does not exist as a symbol of something that does exist. We believe, at least most of us do, that sin does exist. We believe (on highly insufficient grounds) that a dragon does not exist. So we make the unreal dragon an allegory of the real sin. But that is not what [Wiliam] Blake meant when he made the lamb the symbol of innocence. He meant that there really is behind the universe an eternal image called the Lamb, of which all living lambs are merely the copies or the approximation. He held that eternal innocence to be an actual and even an awful thing. He would not have seen anything comic, any more than the Christian Evangelist saw anything comic, in talking about the Wrath of the Lamb. If there were a lamb in one of Aesop's fables, Aesop would never be so silly as to represent him as angry. But Christianity is more daring than Aesop, and the wrath of the Lamb is its great paradox. If there is an immortal lamb, a being whose simplicity and freshness are for ever renewed, then it is truly and really a more creepy idea to horrify that being into hostility than to defy the flaming dragon or challenge darkness or the sea. No old wolf or world-worn lion is so awful as a creature that is always young—a creature that is always newly born. But the main point here is simpler. It is merely that Blake did not mean that meekness was true and the lamb only a pretty fable. If anything he meant that meekness was a mere shadow of the everlasting lamb. The distinction is essential to anyone at all concerned for this rooted spirituality which is the only enduring sanity of mankind. The personal is not a mere figure for the impersonal; rather the impersonal is a clumsy term for something more personal than common personality. God is not a symbol of goodness. Goodness is a symbol of God.
-William Blake (1910)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

An interesting story on the history of GKC's hymn "O God of Earth and Altar", including it's first verse being incorporated into the song "Revelations" by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

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 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