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)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mumford and Sons

I admittedly know very little about music, so, naturally, I don't know anything of this band, but I came across an interview that included the following, which I wanted to share:


Any favorite authors or poets that may or may not have influenced your writing?

M: I’m really enjoying G.K Chesterton at the moment, still.

I actually thought of him the first time I heard your record, because the way in which he talks about ‘exhortation’ between friends in Orthodoxy.

M: Well, I really want to get into Orthodoxy but right now I want to read these three chapters my brother recommended from Everlasting Man. Because I love classical History and I love medieval History, and have studied it a bit he kind of goes through that stuff, and then comes through to the more modern era [....]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chesterton refererred to by Winston Churchilll

Winston Churchill referred to GKC in his book A Traveller in War Time.

Here is the passage:

America must now contribute what Britain and France, with all their energies and resources and determination, have hitherto been unable to contribute. It must not be men, money, and material alone, but some quality that America has had in herself during her century and a half of independent self-realization. Mr. Chesterton, in writing about the American Revolution, observes that the real case for the colonists is that they felt that they could be something which England would not help them to be. It is, in fact, the only case for separation. What may be called the English tradition of democracy, which we inherit, grows through conflicts and differences, through experiments and failures and successes, toward an intellectualized unity,--experiments by states, experiments by individuals, a widely spread development, and new contributions to the whole.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An appropriate Christmas reading... :-)

"The God in the Cave"

A chapter from The Everlasting Man (1925)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Christmas must certainly be delightful to the normal man- if he can be found."

Everything that is really lovable can be hated; and there are undoubtedly people who hate Christmas. It is not difficult to divide them roughly according to their reasons for doing so. There are those, for instance, who hate what they call vulgarity and what is really mankind. There are those who dislike playing the fool, preferring to act the same part in a more serious spirit. There are those who cannot sit down to a steady meal because they have those insane American nerves which the Scriptural writer prophesied when he wrote (foreseeing the life of the rich Yankee): "There is no peace for the wicked." There are those who object to Waits- I never can imagine why. There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions. There are those (equally unchristian in their basic sentiment) who hate Paganism. They regret the Pagan quality in the Christian festival; which is simply regretting that Christianity satisfied the previous cravings of mankind. There are some who cannot or will not eat turkey and sausages. Of course if this is simply part of a private physical necessity, it may leave the soul still in a sound Christmas condition. But if it is part of a philosophy, it is part of a philosophy with which I disagree. I hold myself in a simple abstract position towards the vegetarian and towards the teetotaler. I can respect the thing as a regimen, but not as a religion. As long as the man abstains from low motives I can heartily sympathise with him. It is when he abstains from high motives that I hold him as a heretic.

There are these people, then, who dislike Christmas, and no doubt they are very numerous. But even if they are the majority, they are still essentially mad. Christmas must certainly be delightful to the normal man- if he can be found. I need hardly point out to any readers of this paper so alphabetical a fact of philosophy as the fact that the normal does not mean merely the average. If there are only four men in the world, if one has broken his nose, another had his eye put out, if the third has a bald head, and the fourth has a wooden leg, it does not in the least affect the fact that the normal man, from whom they all by various accidents fall short, is a man with two eyes, two legs, natural hair and an unbroken nose. So it is with mental or moral normality. If you put round a table four of the most celebrated philosophers in modern Europe, no doubt you would find that each had his little abnormality. I do not say the modern philosopher would have a broken nose; though, if there were any spirit and courage in the modern populace he would get one fast enough. Let us say that he had a mental dislocation, his spiritual nose broken, and that some similar criticism applied to each of his three companions. One of them (let us say) might be so constituted that he could not see blotting-paper without bursting into tears. The second (the Prophet of the Will to Power) would be constitutionally afraid of rabbits. A third would be always expecting a visit from a nine-headed monkey. A fourth will expect the Superman. But precisely because all these insanities are different they leave untouched the idea of the central sanity from which they all fall away. The man who is mad on blotting-paper is sane on rabbits. The man who believes in a nine-headed monkey is not such a fool as to believe in the Superman. Even if there be no other men in the world but these four, there is still existent in idea the Normal Man of whom each is a variation or rather a violation. But I incline rather to think that the Normal Man does exist also in a physical and locateable sense. Hiding in some crazy attic from the fury of the populace (whose fiery faces fill the street below like a sea), barricaded against the madness of the mere majority of men, there lives somewhere the man whose name is Man. Wherever he is he is at one with himself, and the balance of his mind is like music. And wherever he is he is eating plum-pudding.

-January 13, 1906, Illustrated London News

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Greek heroes do not grin: but gargoyles do -- because they are Christian."

The following propositions have been urged: First, that some faith in our life is required even to improve it; second, that some dissatisfaction with things as they are is necessary even in order to be satisfied; third, that to have this necessary content and necessary discontent it is not sufficient to have the obvious equilibrium of the Stoic. For mere resignation has neither the gigantic levity of pleasure nor the superb intolerance of pain. There is a vital objection to the advice merely to grin and bear it. The objection is that if you merely bear it, you do not grin. Greek heroes do not grin: but gargoyles do -- because they are Christian. And when a Christian is pleased, he is (in the most exact sense) frightfully pleased; his pleasure is frightful. Christ prophesied the whole of Gothic architecture in that hour when nervous and respectable people (such people as now object to barrel organs) objected to the shouting of the gutter-snipes of Jerusalem. He said, "If these were silent, the very stones would cry out." Under the impulse of His spirit arose like a clamorous chorus the facades of the mediaeval cathedrals, thronged with shouting faces and open mouths. The prophecy has fulfilled itself: the very stones cry out.

-Orthodoxy (1908)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hilaire Belloc's "Song of the Pelagian Heresy"

OK, the following song is *not* by Chesterton, but since it's by the other half of the Chesterbelloc (Hilaire Belloc), it is still appropriate enough for this blog, and so I had to post it. :-)

It is taken from Belloc's novel The Four Men (1912), in which a character named The Sailor sings it. (However, it contains historical errors which one of the other characters in the novel called Grizzlebeard points out- see the end of this post). But it is hilarious, nevertheless.

The Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men's Backs and the Very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual

Pelagius lived in Kardanoel
and taught a doctrine there
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How, whether you found eternal joy
Or sank forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the church, my boy,
But it was your own concern.

Oh, he didn't believe in Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began with the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at orignal sin!

Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre
(Germanus was his name)
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And he called Pelagius Shame:
And then with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly thwhacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
They rather had been hanged.

Oh, he thwacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Their orthodox persuasions!

Now the Faith is old
and the Devil is bold
Exceedingly bold. indeed;
And the masses of doubt
That are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh -- let us put it away to infallible truth,
Which always shall prevail!

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword,
And for howling heretics, too;
And whatever good things
our Christendom brings,
But especially the barley-brew!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow
Especially the barley-brew!


"As we swung down the road which leads at last to Little Cowfold, Grizzlebeard, thinking about that song, said:
'I cannot believe, Sailor, that your song is either old or true; for there is no such place as Kardanoel, and Pelagius never lived there, and his doctrine was very different from what you say, and the blessed Germanus would not have hurt a fly. As witness that battle of his somewhere in Flint, where he discomforted the Scotch, of all people, by talking Hebrew too loud, although he only knew one word of the tongue. Then, also, what you say of ale is not ecclesiastical, nor is it right doctrine to thank the Lord for heresy.'

The Sailor:
'Anything you will! But every church must have its customs within reason, and this song, or rather hymn, is of Breviary, and very properly used in the diocese of the Theleme upon certain feast days. Yes, notably that of the Saints Comus and Hilarius, who, having nothing else to do, would have been cruelly martyred for the faith had they not contrariwise, as befits Christian men, be-martyred and banged to death their very persecutors in turn. It is a prose of the church militant, and is ascribed to Dun-Scotus, but is more probably of traditional origin. Compare the 'Hymn to the Ass', which all good Christian men should know."

'Nevertheless I doubt if it be for the strengthening of souls, but rather a bit of ribaldry, more worthy of the Martyrs' Mount which you may know, than of holy Sussex.'"

"The spirit, I mean, strictly speaking, does not take things for granted. It takes them as if they had not been granted."

It may roughly be described as the spirit of taking things for granted. But, indeed, oddly enough, the very form of this phrase rather misses its own meaning. The spirit, I mean, strictly speaking, does not take things for granted. It takes them as if they had not been granted. It takes them as if it held them by something more autocratic than a right; by a cold and unconscious occupation, as stiff as a privilege and as baseless as a caprice. As a fact, things generally are granted, ultimately by God, but often immediately by men. But this type of man is so unconscious of what he has been given that he is almost unconscious of what he has got; not realizing things as gifts, he hardly realizes them as goods.

-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Scientists do not love truth any more than anone else."

Scientists do not love truth any more than anyone else. All men love truth when they are disinterested; as in the solving of a good puzzle. There is nothing to show that chemists or astronomers specially love truth when they are interested; as in filling up the paper for the income-tax. I have never heard that the income-tax returns of physicians in general practice were regarded as above suspicion.

-December 28, 1907, Illustrated London News

Thursday, December 2, 2010