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.




Friday, November 30, 2018

I think the errors arising from incautious speech are far less dangerous just now than the much larger errors arising from systematic suppression.
-March 24, 1922, New Witness
[H/T ACS]

Thursday, November 29, 2018

For the meaning of woods is the combination of energy with complexity. A forest is not in the least rude or barbarous; it is only dense with delicacy. Unique shapes that an artist would copy or a philosopher watch for years if he found them in an open plain are here mingled and confounded; but it is not a darkness of deformity. It is a darkness of life; a darkness of perfection. And I began to think how much of the highest human obscurity is like this, and how much men have misunderstood it. People will tell you, for instance, that theology became elaborate because it was dead. Believe me, if it had been dead it would never have become elaborate; it is only the live tree that grows too many branches.
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Modern society [...] is far too wild a place for satirists to live in. They are perpetually seeing their satires fulfilled like prophecies, and what they meant to be impossible become not only possible but palpable.
-May 2, 1925, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

H.L. Mencken and G.K. Chesterton

I found this anecdote hilarious. :-)
Some time afterwards, G. K. Chesterton told me how his host in New York had written to [H.L.] Mencken, in the hope of bringing the two men together. Mencken had replied, "I am very sorry I cannot go to meet Chesterton. For I have long cherished an ambition to take him out and make him drunk, and then hand him over to the police while he was in that condition, to the shame of Holy Mother Church."

I told Mencken afterwards of Chesterton's comment: "Why, I could put Mencken under the table any day!" "Yes," said Mencken, "I suppose he could." [Source]
Of course,  I hasten to add that Chesterton in multiple places condemned drunkenness (as distinct from temperate drinking, which he praised). However, perhaps my favorite quote that includes such a denunciation of drunkenness (as an example in making a larger point) is this one

Monday, November 26, 2018

[I]t is the definition of a prejudice that it is an opinion held by somebody who has forgotten where it came from.
-Introduction to Letters on Polish Affairs by Charles Sarolea (1922)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

What we have to teach the young man of the future, is how to enjoy himself. Until he can enjoy himself, he will grow more and more tired of enjoying everything else. What we have to teach him is to amuse himself. At this moment he is more and more dependent upon anything which he thinks will amuse him. And, to judge by the expression of his face, it does not amuse him very much. When we consider what he receives, it is indeed a most magnificent wonder and wealth and concentration of amusement [..] you consider what are the things poured into him, what are the things he receives, then indeed they are colossal cataracts of things, cosmic Niagaras that have never before poured into any human being are pouring into him. But if you consider what comes out of him, as a result of all this absorption, the result we have to record is rather serious. In the vast majority of cases, nothing.
-The Spice of Life (1964)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Chesterton mention I found in a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, which mentions Doyle writing to Chesterton:
Since Conan Doyle seldom took more than a week to complete a Sherlock Holmes story, his fee was generous in the extreme. His technique was to map out the problem and its solution, draw up a rough outline and sketch in the characters before sitting down to write the finished story. He worked at a flat-topped desk in a corner of his study which overlooked the garden. The walls were hung with his father's watercolours and mementoes of his trip to the Arctic were all around- whaling harpoons, a stuffed Icelandic falcon and the skull of a polar bear. It was his habit to write from breakfast until lunch every morning, then from five to about eight o'clock in the evening, usually averaging 3,000 words a day- a prodigious output any writer would envy. Many of his ideas were dreamed up in the afternoons, walking or cycling with Touie, or playing tennis or cricket. Once he had finished a story he had no further interest in it. As he would explain in a letter to G.K. Chesterton, his work might be improved by editing, but not by him. He had given all in his first effort and any further tinkering would be 'gratuitous and a waste of time.

-The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Biography, Russell Miller pp.145-146

Friday, November 23, 2018

Winnie the Pooh's creator and GKC

I found this *very* interesting:
Beyond the joke, the inventor of Winnie the Pooh, Alan Alexander Milne, was indeed a friend of Chesterton and a member of the Detection Club. A little influence will certainly have endured ... [Source]
I had a suspicion that such a friendship might have existed, as both GKC and AA Milne were members of JM Barrie's (of Peter Pan fame) literary cricket team the Allahakbarries.  (Speaking of which, can you imagine GKC the athlete? Heh.) Plus, I also noticed tonight that there were some letters from Milne written to Chesterton included in the G.K. Chesterton papers.  Finally, I see that (as indicated in the passage above), Milne was one of the writers to be a member of The Detection Club at the time when GKC was the president of the club.)

It is awesome to see that my suspicions were accurate, however, that GKC and AA Milne were indeed friends. (Especially since a very good friend of mine is a Winnie the Pooh fan!)
We have been told often enough that organisation means efficiency. It would be far truer to say that organisation always means inefficiency. This does not in the least mean that we should not organise. Sometimes the organisation is inevitable, and then the inefficiency is equally inevitable. Organisation necessarily creates a chain of human or living links on which everything hangs; the chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link, and it will have many weak links. To say that organisation means inefficiency is only to repeat, in the more pedantic modern language, the old proverb "If you want a thing done, do it yourself." If a peasant can grow a cabbage himself, cook it himself, and eat it himself, he has so far attained the maximum of efficiency and certainly the maximum of economy. Organisation means that he must trust the cabbage to strangers on a train, strangers on a trolley, strangers in a shop, until by infinite financial complications he can get it exchanged for a turnip or a cauliflower; and at every one of those stages it is in danger from every one of those strangers. I am not saying that he should not change his cabbage for a cauliflower, or that the exchange could be made without some organisation. What I say is that if there is some organisation there will be some inefficiency; and if there is more organisation there will be more inefficiency. The only faultless and final piece of efficiency, full and rounded like the turnip, is that in which the same turnip or cabbage passes from the peasant's kitchen-garden to the peasant's kitchen, and from the peasant's kitchen to the peasant's inside. With every man you add to that process you do, by inevitable logic, increase the chance of the cabbage being lost, of the cabbage being stolen, of the cabbage being sold at a loss, of the cabbage being kicked about in the dirt till it is no more than a cabbage-stalk. I do not object to the peasant purchasing and eating the cauliflower as a variant on too continuous a diet of cabbage; but I say he should all the more value and even venerate the cauliflower because of the dangers it has passed, the myriad chances of destruction it has evaded, in threading its way through the deadly jungle of organisation. It has had a hundred hairbreadth escapes, for it has passed through a hundred human hands. That luckless vegetable has been lost in a forest of men as trees walking; of men of the sort summarised as mostly fools; of human trees which are at least tolerably green. It is almost a wonder that the peasant does not preserve the vegetable in a shrine instead of putting it on a dish.
-May 28, 1921, Illustrated London News

Thursday, November 22, 2018

All goods look better when they look like gifts.
-St. Francis of Assisi (1923)

Wednesday, November 21, 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 form the beginning it has been the spirit of the age, which always means exaggerating still further that is grossly exaggerated already.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"This fundamental sense of human fraternity can only exist in the presence of positive religion."

It may seem mere praise of the novel to say it is the art of sympathy and the study of human variations. But indeed, though this is a good thing, it is not universally good. We have gained in sympathy; but we have lost in brotherhood. Old quarrels had more equality than modern exonerations. Two peasants in the Middle Ages quarrelled about their two fields. But they went to the same church, served in the same semi-feudal militia, and had the same morality, which ever might happen to be breaking it at the moment. The very cause of their quarrel was the cause of their fraternity; they both liked land. But suppose one of them a teetotaler who desired the abolition of hops on both farms; suppose the other a vegetarian who desired the abolition of chickens on both farms: and it is at once apparent that a quarrel of quite a different kind would begin; and that in that quarrel it would not be a question of farmer against farmer, but of individual against individual. This fundamental sense of human fraternity can only exist in the presence of positive religion. Man is merely man only when he is seen against the sky. [..] Only where death and eternity are intensely present can human beings fully feel their fellowship. Once the divine darkness against which we stand is really dismissed from the mind [...] the differences between human beings become overpoweringly plain; whether they are expressed in the high caricatures of Dickens or the low lunacies of Zola.
-The Victorian Age in Literature (1913)

Monday, November 19, 2018

" [..] Yes, the poet will be discontented even in the streets of heaven. The poet is always in revolt."

"There again," said Syme irritably, "what is there poetical about being in revolt? You might as well say that it is poetical to be sea-sick. Being sick is a revolt. Both being sick and being rebellious may be the wholesome thing on certain desperate occasions; but I'm hanged if I can see why they are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is—revolting. It's mere vomiting."
-The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"Humility is the only possible basis of enjoyment"

Toots [...] may be considered as being in some ways the master piece of Dickens. Nowhere else did Dickens express with such astonishing insight and truth his main contention, which is that to be good and idiotic is not a poor fate, but, on the contrary, an experience of primeval innocence, which wonders at all things. Dickens did not know, any more than any great man ever knows, what was the particular thing that he had to preach. He did not know it; he only preached it. But the particular thing that he had to preach was this: That humility is the only possible basis of enjoyment; that if one has no other way of being humble except being poor, then it is better to be poor, and to enjoy; that if one has no other way of being humble except being imbecile, then it is better to be imbecile, and to enjoy. That is the deep unconscious truth in the character of Toots -- that all his externals are flashy and false; all his internals unconscious, obscure, and true. He wears loud clothes, and he is silent inside them. His shirts and waistcoats are covered with bright spots of pink and purple, while his soul is always covered with the sacred shame. He always gets all the outside things of life wrong, and all the inside things right. 
-Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

[T]he object of all eloquence is to find the least common denominator of men's souls [.]
-Twelve Types

Friday, November 16, 2018

America has many faults, but it has the virtue of sensationalism. For it is only the trial or execution of a murderer that can be sensational. The murder itself is always a very delicate and domestic matter; and the murderer is generally very modest about his merits as an artist. [..] The real objection to having a skeleton in the cupboard is not that it may be found: that largely depends upon who has got the key [..] The danger is rather that it may not be found. The objection is that long before it can reach the comparatively elegant condition of a skeleton it has to pass through a process which will probably be put down to something being wrong with the drains. [...] On those occasions a little American sensationalism would have been much the most public-spirited thing we could have had. Prudence was very perilous, and recklessness would have been really wise.
-October 2, 1915, Illustrated London News

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Fall is a view of life. It is not only the only enlightening, but the only encouraging view of life. It holds, as against the only real alternative philosophies, those of the Buddhist or the Pessimist or the Promethean, that we have misused a good world, and not merely been entrapped into a bad one. It refers evil back to the wrong use of the will, and thus declares that it can eventually be righted by the right use of the will. Every other creed except that one is some form of surrender to fate. A man who holds this view of life will find it giving light on a thousand things; on which mere evolutionary ethics have not a word to say. For instance, on the colossal contrast between the completeness of man’s machines and the continued corruption of his motives; on the fact that no social progress really seems to leave self behind [.]
-The Thing (1929)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

[P]eople forget how to be grateful unless they learn how to be humble.
-December 15, 1906, Daily News

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot. Every man who will not have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the brain.
-Orthodoxy (1908)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Charles Dicken's Daughter and GKC

Some interesting information concerning the relationship between Kate Perugini (the daughter of Charles Dickens) with GKC and his wife:
[She] kept in touch with the Chestertons, writing, for example, nearly four years later a letter to Francis in which she discusses the characters in her father's novels, and says that she was always glad to see them both. Even after they moved to Beaconsfield, she used to visit, according to Dorothy Collins, and talk about the Dickens family life.

-G.K. Chesterton: A Biography, p. 183, Ian Ker (2011)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

[Today marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. Therefore, I thought it fitting to quote from the first article GKC wrote for the Illustrated London News after the conclusion of that conflict. ]

It is the curse of all our culture that it abounds in mechanical and materialistic terms, so that things do not seem to have been done by men [...] It may even be possible for some [...] people to regard the end of the war as such people regarded the beginning of the war- as an enormous accident.  [...] The war did not begin; it was begun, because there is in the heart of man the anarchic art that can begin such things. The war did not end; it was ended, because there is in the heart of man that cleaner creative hope that can endure and end them.
-November 23, 1918, Illustrated London News

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Many a modern critic called delicate, elusive, reticent, subtle, individual, has gained this praise by saying something once which any one could see to be rubbish if he had said it twice.
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Physical science has everything in the world to do with fancy, though not perhaps much in the highest sense to do with imagination. Imagination as we have it in great poetry is concerned with the things that fall naturally into an harmonious picture; but fancy is concerned with things which conceal an intellectual affinity under a total pictorial difference. Imagination celebrates the stars and clouds together, but fancy and physical science alike see that a squib or a pipe-light, or perhaps even a humming-top, are more akin to the stars than a cloud is. The whole fascination of science lies in this disguised fraternity. Nature in this aspect seems made of secret societies in the darkest and most misleading costumes. No elf-land of the human fancy can offer a kingdom so preposterous as that in which a whale is nearer to a bat than a whale to a shark, or a bat to a bird. This general consciousness that the most perfect similarities exist in the most diverse examples is a thing that much have haunted the minds of hundreds of good-working physicians [.]
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Now along with this there was another argument used; the argument that government was paternal. It was said that just as parents control their children so should the more educated class control the less educated. Our answer was that there was no governing class, no State, that really stood in the same position toward grown men as they stand towards children. Every grown man has experience of some kind; a child has no experience at all. Every man of thirty has thirty years of something; every child of three has twenty-seven years less of anything. It is idle to talk of educated men. Every may is an educated man. He has been educate by something; by the Board schools or by the wilderness or by the workhouse or by the thieves' kitchen, or perhaps by Harrow.
-April 13, 1907, Daily News

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

And, like most things that are bad in a particular way, it can even appear as good, if we state it in a particular way. We might say with some real truth [...] that his conscience appears to be at rest. I will not disguise the suspicion that the rest of his conscience is partly due to the avoidance of any undue restlessness in his intellect [...]
-June 3, 1916, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

In freeing ourselves from Christianity we have only freed ourselves from freedom. We shall not now return to a merely heathen hilarity, for the new heathenism is anything but hilarious. If we do not recover Christmas, we shall never recover Yule.
-The Glass Walking Stick (1955)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Progress is superiority to oneself, and it is stopped dead by superiority to others.
-Irish Impressions (1919)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

It is [historians'] affair, not merely to remember that humanity has been wise and great, but to understand the special ways in which it has been weak and foolish. Historians have to explain the horrible mystery of how fashions were ever fashionable.
-October 8, 1910, Illustrated London News

Saturday, November 3, 2018

[E]ven when there really is progress, as there certainly is growth, the progress is not a progress in everything, perfectly simple and universal and all of a piece. Civilizations go forward in some things, while they go backward in others.
-Chaucer (1932)

Friday, November 2, 2018

[T]he good man of the Christian type is in certain cases readier to believe that others are wrong, than that he is right. He knows that there is folly in the world; he is by no means so certain that there is wisdom in himself.
-August 24, 1910, Daily News

Thursday, November 1, 2018

But the whole essence of art is that it contracts and reduces itself to scale. Those who talk of the artist nature swelling and expanding, those who talk of the outbreak, licence and overflowing of art are people with no sort of feeling of what art is. Art means diminution. If what you want is largeness, the universe as it is is large enough for anybody. Art exists solely in order to create a miniature universe, a working model of the universe, a toy universe which we can play with as a child plays with a toy theatre.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)