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)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gandhi and Chesterton

At the moment I am reading through Ian Ker's new book published by Oxford University Press G.K. Chesterton: A Biography, which I would highly recommend. Even though I have already mentioned Chesterton's influence on Gandhi in an earlier post, this passage from the book goes into a little more detail, and so I have included it below.

In his Illustrated London News column of 2 October 1909, Chesterton addressed the question of Indian nationalism. 'The test of a democracy is not whether the people vote,' he argued, 'but whether the people rule. The essence of a democracy is that the national tone and spirit of the typical citizen is apparent and striking in the actions of the state.' And he thought that the 'principle weakness' of Indian nationalists seeking independence was that their nationalism was not very Indian and not very national; 'There is a difference between a conquered people demanding its own institutions and the same people demanding the institutions of the conqueror.' The article was read by Ghandi [sic], who was in London at the time to press for freer rights of residence, travel and trade to members of the Indian diaspora in South Africa, where he was then living. He referred to the article in a dispatch he sent to the paper he had founded in Durban, Indian Opinion. This article for some reason did not appear until January of the following year. In the meantime, Ghandi had responded to Chesterton's criticism by completing in ten days, on board the ship that carried him back to South Africa, an extended defence of the virtues of ancient Indian civilization. Written in Ghandi's mother tongue, it was published under the title Hind Swaraj, and also in English under the title Indian Home Rule, in Durban in 1910. Apart from Ghandi's two-volume autobiography and collections of articles and speeches, it was the only book qua book that Ghandi ever published.

UPDATE (April 30, 2015):

Here is an image of the article mentioned above, so that you can read it:


(Note: The date in the image and that referenced in the excerpt from the biography are different, but that is because the American edition of the Illustrated London News normally appeared two weeks later than the English edition.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012


...of all the passions that blind and madden and mislead men, the worst is the coldest: contempt.

-The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond (1937)

The Governing Classes

It is this curious chaos of favouritism that runs through our legal system and makes it more and more impossible every day. Unfortunately, the evil grows apace, because both kinds of superior person assist it. The plutocratic superior person likes anarchy, because in anarchy the proudest and greediest person always gets on top. The idealistic superior person also likes anarchy, because he is not obligated to accept the authority of anything- even the authority of what he has said himself five minutes before. Hence, the capitalists dislike law and call it "Socialism"; the cranks dislike law and call it "Dogma." Both dislike the idea of any intelligible rule which can be applied to all cases; and this applies to the most brilliant as well as the dullest in the governing classes. Mr. Skimpole and Mr. Nupkins are at one in their deep desire to be allowed to do anything they choose. The notion that they are both citizens, and that the city has lawful authority, would be equally irritating to both. Mr Skimpole wants to be above the law that he breaks. Mr. Nupkins, even more earnestly, wants to be above the law that he administers.

And Mr. Nupkins, the magistrate, really goes on as if he were above the law that he administers. His tone and manner are those of a man making up the laws of a nation as he goes along: and not merely its laws, but its fundamental legal principles. "Let me make the ballads of a nation and anyone may make its laws," said the Scottish writer. "Let me make the sentences and anyone may make the laws"- that is the first and last word of Nupkins.

-March 23, 1912, Illustrated London News

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Rich colours actually look more luminous on a grey day, because they are seen against a dark background, and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own. Against a dim sky all flowers look like fireworks. There is something strange about them at once vivid and secret, like flowers traced in fire in the grim garden of a witch. A bright blue sky is necessarily the high light in the picture, and its brightness kills all the bright blue flowers. But on a grey day the larkspur looks like fallen heaven; the red daisies are really the lost-red eyes of day, and the sun-flower is the vice-regent of the sun. Lastly, there is this value about the colour that men call colourless that it suggests in some way the mixed and troubled average of existence, especially in its quality of strife and expectation and promise. Grey is a colour that always seems on the eve of changing to some other colour; of brightening into blue, or blanching into white or breaking into green or gold. So we may be perpetually reminded of the indefinite hope that is in doubt itself; and when there is grey weather on our hills or grey hair on our heads perhaps they may still remind us of the morning.

-Daily News (quoted in Chesterton: Day by Day)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three Horsemen of Apocalypse

A wonderful GKC story, that I see can be read via Google Books.

"The Three Horsemen of Apocalypse"

(A story that Jorge Louis Borges considered to be the best of all Chesterton's tales)


It is...better to speak wisdom foolishly, like the Saints, rather than to speak folly wisely, like the Dons.

-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Taking away the number one first thought of

They that go about the world asking riddles and doing puzzles (those enemies of the human race) used to have one particular game which, after ramifications of arithmetic, ended with "taking away the number one first thought of." It is a silly game, and, like many other silly games, has been played by great empires and on a large scale. That touch of over-civilisation which is always the first touch of a returning barbarism can best be noted whenever we note this game of subtracting the original thought with which everything began. I mean that men will build up institutions and elaborations round the central pillar of some thought. Then, after the passage of centuries the central pillar falls down, but the rest of the edifice remains. Such an edifice is not always in danger, but it is in decay.

-March 9, 1912, Illustrated London News

"...all this colossal vision shall perish with the last of the humble."

In a very entertaining work, over which we have roared in childhood, it is stated that a point has no parts and no magnitude. Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all, so that to it all the cosmic things are what they really are—of immeasurable stature. That the trees are high and the grasses short is a mere accident of our own foot-rules and our own stature. But to the spirit which has stripped off for a moment its own idle temporal standards the grass is an everlasting forest, with dragons for denizens; the stones of the road are as incredible mountains piled one upon the other; the dandelions are like gigantic bonfires illuminating the lands around; and the heath-bells on their stalks are like planets hung in heaven each higher than the other. Between one stake of a paling and another there are new and terrible landscapes; here a desert, with nothing but one misshapen rock; here a miraculous forest, of which all the trees flower above the head with the hues of sunset; here, again, a sea full of monsters that Dante would not have dared to dream. These are the visions of him who, like the child in the fairy tales, is not afraid to become small. Meanwhile, the sage whose faith is in magnitude and ambition is, like a giant, becoming larger and larger, which only means that the stars are becoming smaller and smaller. World after world falls from him into insignificance; the whole passionate and intricate life of common things becomes as lost to him as is the life of the infusoria to a man without a microscope. He rises always through desolate eternities. He may find new systems, and forget them; he may discover fresh universes, and learn to despise them. But the towering and tropical vision of things as they really are—the gigantic daisies, the heaven-consuming dandelions, the great Odyssey of strange-coloured oceans and strange-shaped trees, of dust like the wreck of temples, and thistledown like the ruin of stars—all this colossal vision shall perish with the last of the humble.

-The Defendant (1901)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"To feel infinitely superior to a man in the twelfth century is just precisely as snobbish as to feel infinitely superior to a man in the Old Kent Road."

The hardest thing to remember about our own time, of course, is simply that it is a time; we all instinctively think of it as the Day of Judgment. But all the things in it which belong to it merely as this time will probably be rapidly turned upside down; all the things that can pass will pass. It is not merely true that all old things are already dead; it is also true that all new things are already dead; for the only undying things are the things that are neither new nor old...

The equality of men needs preaching quite as much as regards the ages as regards the classes of men. To feel infinitely superior to a man in the twelfth century is just precisely as snobbish as to feel infinitely superior to a man in the Old Kent Road. There are differences between the man and us, there may be superiorities in us over the man; but our sin in both cases consists in thinking of the small things wherein we differ when we ought to be confounded and intoxicated by the terrible and joyful matters in which we are at one. But here again the difficulty always is that the things near us seem larger than they are, and so seem to be a permanent part of mankind, when they may really be only one of its parting modes of expression.

-Charles Dickens (1906)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Timid Thinkers

I should like to write a book under the general title of The Timid Thinkers. By this term I refer to those who are commonly called The Bold Thinkers. For what strikes me most about the sceptics, who are praised as daring and audacious, is that they dare not carry out any of their own acts of audacity. It is their peculiar feature that they are always starting something that is intended to be very striking, and then being willing to wound and yet afraid to strike. I do not mean that they are base enough to be merely afraid of our law; quite as often they are really afraid of their own lawlessness. But they are afraid; in the sense that they hardly ever venture to complete their own argument. Some of these men I admire, some I find rather tiresome, which is about as near as I get to really resenting them. But I think that what I say of them is true. They are emphatically not men who carry a destructive idea through to its logical consequences; they are men who throw it out like a firework, but do not really wait for it to work its full destruction like a bomb. It is typical that some types of thinkers are called suggestive thinkers. But it is easy enough to suggest something, and leave it to be found unworkable by other people; as it is easy for a little boy to ring a bell and run away. The little boy ringing the bell is doubtless in one sense a rebel defying authority. But he is not quite on a level with the paladins or heroes who blew the horn hung outside the giant’s castle; because they remained to thrash things out in a thoughtful manner with the giant.

-Come to Think of It (1930)


We should always endeavour to wonder at the permanent thing, not that the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.

-October 21, 1905, Illustrated London News

Monday, March 5, 2012


For humility means making the subjective objective- realising that to the universe oneself is not I, but only he.

-February 26, 1916, Illustrated London News