Quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential authors of the 20th century, G.K. Chesterton
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."
Saturday, February 27, 2010
"All women of any kind think all men of any kind mad"
-The Club of Queer Trades (1905)
"But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet."
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
(Excerpt from "The Secret People")
Friday, February 26, 2010
"You forgive because there isn't anything to be forgiven"
“There is a limit to human charity,” said Lady Outram, trembling all over.
“There is,” said Father Brown dryly; “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness to-day; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.”
“But, hang it all,” cried Mallow, “you don’t expect us to be able to pardon a vile thing like this?”
“No,” said the priest; “but we have to be able to pardon it.”
He stood up abruptly and looked round at them.
“We have to touch such men, not with a bargepole, but with a benediction,” he said. “We have to say the word that will save them from hell. We alone are left to deliver them from despair when your human charity deserts them. Go on your own primrose path pardoning all your favourite vices and being generous to your fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console those who really need consolation; who do things really indefensible, things that neither the world nor they themselves can defend; and none but a priest will pardon. Leave us with the men who commit the mean and revolting and real crimes; mean as St. Peter when the cock crew, and yet the dawn came.”
“The dawn,” repeated Mallow doubtfully. “You mean hope — for him?”
“Yes,” replied the other. “Let me ask you one question. You are great ladies and men of honour and secure of yourselves; you would never, you can tell yourselves, stoop to such squalid reason as that. But tell me this. If any of you had so stooped, which of you, years afterwards, when you were old and rich and safe, would have been driven by conscience or confessor to tell such a story of yourself? You say you could not commit so base a crime. Could you confess so base a crime?”
-The Secret of Father Brown (1927)
Thursday, February 25, 2010
"We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable"
-William Blake (1910)
Monday, February 22, 2010
"Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
-A Short History of England (1917)
Sunday, February 21, 2010
"I wonder what real detectives are like"
-November 4, 1905, Illustrated London News
Saturday, February 20, 2010
"Mr. Chesterton can't write"
[Chesterton] then told an amusing anecdote against himself. He had been much annoyed by the noise made by the local film studios quite close to his home, and after sending several ineffectual letters of protest, eventually asked his secretary to call upon the manager of the studios. Upon doing so, that lady made a strong protest saying emphatically, "The position is becoming impossible...Mr Chesterton can't write," to which the manager replied, "We were well aware of that." [Chesterton] relished the telling of this story immensely.
Friday, February 19, 2010
"the best things are silenced"
-September 14, 1907, Illustrated London News
Thursday, February 18, 2010
"He paid it a compliment- with a hatchet."
-July 21, 1906, Illustrated London News
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
"The fairies like me better than Mr. Yeats.."
Ride on the crest of the dishevelled wave
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.
But, after all (it is a shocking thing to say), I doubt whether Mr. Yeats really knows his way about fairyland. He is not simple enough; he is not stupid enough. Though I say it who should not, in good sound human stupidity I would knock Mr. Yeats out any day. The fairies like me better than Mr. Yeats; they can take me in more. And I have my doubts whether this feeling of the free, wild spirits on the crest of hill or wave is really the central and simple spirit of folk-lore. I think the poets have made a mistake: because the world of the fairy-tales is a brighter and more varied world than ours, they have fancied it is less moral; really it is brighter and more varied because it is more moral.
-All Things Considered (1908)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes the God"
...The truth is that Irreligion is the opium of the people. Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world. And, by the very nature of the Bolshevist and many other modern systems, as well as by the practical working of almost any system, the State will be strongest thing in the world. The whole tendency of men is to treat the solitary State as the solitary standard. That men may protest against law, it is necessary that they should believe in justice; that they may believe in justice beyond law, it is necessary that they should believe in a justice beyond the land of living men. You can impose the rule of the Bolshevist as you can impose the rule of the Bourbons; but it is equally an imposition. You can even make its subjects contented, as opium would make them contented. But if you are to have anything like divine discontent, then it must really be divine. Anything that really comes from below must really come from above.
-Christendom in Dublin (1932)
"If only I could find the door, If only I were born."
If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,
If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.
In dark I lie; dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.
Let storm clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.
I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.
They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.
The Wild Night (1900)
Monday, February 15, 2010
"The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world"
It is not fashionable to say much nowadays of the advantages of the small community. We are told that we must go in for large empires and large ideas. There is one advantage, however, in the small state, the city, or the village, which only the wilfully blind can overlook. The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come into existence founded upon what is called sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique. The men of the clan live together because they all wear the same tartan or are all descended from the same sacred cow; but in their souls, by the divine luck of things, there will always be more colours than in any tartan. But the men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment, like that which exists in hell. A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness. It is a machinery for the purpose of guarding the solitary and sensitive individual from all experience of the bitter and bracing human compromises. It is, in the most literal sense of the words, a society for the prevention of Christian knowledge.
-"On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family", Heretics (1905)
Sunday, February 14, 2010
"A phrase that is a black and white contradiction in two words"
"A Defence of Rash Vows", The Defendant (1901)
Friday, February 12, 2010
"I suppose you fancy crucifixion was a serious affair?"
"Well, I..." began Auberon, "I admit I have generally thought it had its graver side."
"Then you are wrong," said Wayne, with incredible violence. "Crucifixion is comic. It is exquisitely diverting. It was an absurd and obscene kind of impaling reserved for people who were made to be laughed at...for slaves and provincials...for dentists and small tradesmen, as you would say. I have seen the grotesque gallows-shape, which the little Roman gutter-boys scribbled on walls as a vulgar joke, blazing on the pinnacles of the temples of the world. And shall I turn back?"
The King made no answer.
Adam went on, his voice ringing in the roof.
"This laughter with which men tyrannize is not the great power you think it. Peter was crucified, and crucified head downwards. What could be funnier than the idea of a respectable old Apostle upside down? What could be more in the style of your modern humour? But what was the good of it? Upside down or right side up, Peter was Peter to mankind. Upside down he still hangs over Europe, and millions move and breathe only in the life of his church."
-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)
Thursday, February 11, 2010
"The sky grows darker yet..."
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
"Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?"
-The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"Abandon hopelessness, all ye who enter here"
-Charles Dickens (1906)
"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
If you do not know much about G.K. Chesterton, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society , which provides much valuable information on one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.
I also have created a list detailing examples of Chesterton's influence, if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.
I hope you have a wonderful day.