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)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

False devils

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice

-September 11, 1909, Illustrated London News

Sunday, April 15, 2012

World Book Night

While I do not know anything about it admittedly, apparently there is a "World Book Night" being held on April 23. The reason I mention it is, because according to this post, one of the books chosen was GKC's novel The Man Who Was Thursday (chosen by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman). So just thought I would mention that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


...we are performing the essential function of flattery which is flattering the people for the qualities they have not got. Praise may be gigantic and insane without having any quality of flattery so long as it is praise of something that is noticeably in existence. A man may say that a giraffe's head strikes the stars, or that a whale fills the German Ocean, and still be only in a rather excited state about a favourite animal. But when he begins to congratulate the giraffe on his feathers, and the whale on the elegance of his legs, we find ourselves confronted with that social element which we call flattery.

-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"If all your world agrees that the great men are on one side and the small men on the other, it is because yours is a world of small men."

There is one very silly trick of words which has taken hold of many sects and sections of to-day: I mean the habit of saying, "All the best intellects of to-day think so and so"....Now, the best intellects are not agreed on these things- or on anything else. There never was a time when our civilisation was quite so flattened and degraded that all the clever people thought the same thing....If you say that all modern minds are tending in one progressive direction, you prove your own provinciality and even backwardness. If you think that all great Europeans are "advanced," you must be yourself behind the times.

If it is to some extent true that we hear more of certain writers....than of greater writers....the reason is amusingly simple. It is because [their] opinions happen to be more fashionable opinions in the particular province of which we are provincials....If all your world agrees that the great men are on one side and the small men on the other, it is because yours is a world of small men...

We should think it rather unconvincing if a Cavalier, just after the Restoration, had argued that all the great Ministers of State, by a curious coincidence, were Cavaliers. We should not be wholly satisfied with the argument of a Catholic if he said, "See how Catholics succeed! The position of Pope is the highest in Christendom, and every man who ever got it was a Catholic." We should think it inconclusive if an Anglican remarked shrewdly on the fact that each of the two English Archbishops is an Anglican, and neither of them a Wesleyan Methodist. Yet it is every inch as foolish to argue that all great writers are rationalists merely because rationalistic people generally read rationalistic books. It is equally foolish to argue that everything that is happening is Socialistic, merely because, when you are in Socialist circles, you generally hear the Socialist news.....If we (I mean the educated English middle class) wish to play a great part in the history of Europe, as we have often done in the past, we must simply squelch and silence all this cheap cultured chatter about the clearest modern tendencies and the greatest modern minds. One might as well talk about tendencies in the middle of the Battle of Waterloo. Our first business is to find out that there is a battle; our second to take a side or be silent.

-April 6, 1912, Illustrated London News

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Representative government

It is very hard to make government representative when it is also remote.

-August 17, 1918, Illustrated London News

"...for He opposed to him the God who felt Himself weak."

The doctrine that pain and death are not real at all, except in so far as their victims are cowardly enough to submit to them, is a diabolical doctrine, obviously calculated to produce all the purely diabolical qualities, such as intellectual cruelty and contempt for the weak. . . . Christ came on earth to smash the man who felt himself strong. And He did, in the most effective and final manner, smash the man who felt himself strong; for He opposed to him the God who felt Himself weak. Human beings henceforward were not to be humiliated by the limitations of pain and death; for Deity itself has admitted them. Christian Science says that pain is not a reality. Christianity says that pain is so great a reality that even the Creator could feel it. Christian Science says that a man need not think of death at all. Christianity says that even God thought of it with awe. Marred by a million other mistakes, betrayed and tortured through the agony of eighteen centuries, Christianity has never lost its strongest and most distinctive note, the physical note; the talk of the body and the blood. Ever since the Crucifixion a certain actuality, and, therefore, a certain sanctity, has clung round the hard pain of prosaic men.

-April 11, 1908, Daily News

Not quite what he wanted to hear, I'm sure....

OK, I have to admit, I found this story hilarious, given that Cadbury was very much a teetotaler:

There is a story told of how Mr. Cadbury, the chief proprietor of the Daily News, expressed a wish to meet G.K.C. "Ah, Mr. Chesterton!" he said, kindly beaming upon him, "I have often wondered where you wrote your little articles and what your inspiration is." "Well," was the reply, "I generally write my little articles in a pub and my inspiration is beer. If that doesn't work I try more beer!"

-Catholic World, Volume 110 (1920)

Catholic modernism

Chesterton on Catholic modernists (written, incidentally, thirteen years before he entered the church himself):

Why is Modernism so shallow and so stale? Why is it that Mr. Dell cannot become a new-fashioned Catholic without immediately becoming an old-fashioned Protestant? Why cannot he argue with the Pope without playing to the No-Popery gallery? Let him by all means be a Modernist Catholic; it is no affair of mine. But why should he use those very thoughtless and threadbare arguments which he must have seen through even to become a Catholic at all? For instance, he says that a man becoming a Catholic "leaves his responsibility on the threshold," and is converted to be saved "the trouble of thinking." Why, quite so, and the Mass is a Mummery, and the Pope is the Beast in Revelations, and Papists can swear anything for the good of the Church, and Home Rule is Rome Rule, and Maria Monk has been walled up for chastity, and Dr. Clifford has saved England from Bloody Mary, and there is a Jesuit in the cupboard and a Dominican under the bed, and please to remember the fifth of November.

Unless Modernism has some strange and softening influence on the brain, Mr. Dell must know better. He must know whether men like Newman and Brunetiere left off thinking when they joined the Roman Church. Moreover, because he is a man of lucid and active mind, he must know that the whole phrase about being saved the trouble of thinking is a boyish fallacy. Euclid does not save geometricians the trouble of thinking when he insists on absolute definitions and unalterable axioms. On the contrary, he gives them the great trouble of thinking logically. The dogma of the Church limits thought about as much as the dogma of the solar system limits physical science. It is not an arrest of thought, but a fertile basis and constant provocation of thought. But, of course, Mr. Dell really knows this as well as I do. He has merely fallen back (in that mixture of fatigue and hurry in which all fads are made) upon some journalistic phrases. He cannot really think that men join the most fighting army upon earth merely to find rest. It is on a par with the old Protestant fiction that monks decided to be ascetic because they wanted to be luxurious. I should keep out of a monastery from exactly the same motives that prevent me from going into the mountains to shoot bears. I am not active enough for a monastery.'

-quoted in New Zealand Tablet, September 23, 1909

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Fish

The Fish

Dark the sea was: but I saw him,
One great head with goggle eyes,
Like a diabolic cherub
Flying in those fallen skies.

I have heard the hoarse deniers,
I have known the wordy wars;
I have seen a man, by shouting,
Seek to orphan all the stars.

I have seen a fool half-fashioned
Borrow from the heavens a tongue,
So to curse them more at leisure--
--And I trod him not as dung.

For I saw that finny goblin
Hidden in the abyss untrod;
And I knew there can be laughter
On the secret face of God.

Blow the trumpets, crown the sages,
Bring the age by reason fed!
(He that sitteth in the heavens,
'He shall laugh'--the prophet said.)

-The Wild Knight (1900)