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)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"...a man ought to have a dog. A man ought to have six legs; those other four legs are part of him."

[My dog] lies in front of me curled up before the fire, as so many dogs must have lain before so many fires. I sit on one side of that hearth, as so many men must have sat by so many hearths. Somehow this creature has completed my manhood; somehow, I cannot explain why, a man ought to have a dog. A man ought to have six legs; those other four legs are part of him. Our alliance is older than any of the passing and priggish explanations that are offered of either of us; before evolution was, we were. You can find it written in a book that I am a mere survival of a squabble of anthropoid apes; and perhaps I am. I am sure I have no objection. But my dog knows I am a man, and you will not find the meaning of that word written in any book as clearly as it is written in his soul.

-Lunacy and Letters (collection of essays published posthumously in 1958)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


At about twenty-one minutes past two today I suddenly saw that asparagus is the secret of aristocracy. I was trying to put long limp stalks into my mouth, when the idea came into my head; and the stalk failed to do so. I do not refer to any merely metaphorical and superficial comparisons which could easily be made between them. We might say that most of the organism was left dead white, merely that a little button at the top might be bright green. We might draw the moral that average aristocrats are made out much stronger than they are; and illustrate it from average asparagi. They say that any stick is good enough to beat a dog with; but did anyone ever try to beat a dog with a stick of asparagus? We might draw the moral that aristocratic traditions are made out much more popular than they really were. 'Norman' gets mispronounced as English. In this way three French leopards were somehow turned into British lions. And in this way also the solemn word Asparagus, which means nothing so far as I know, was turned by the populace into 'sparrowgrass', which means two of the most picturesque things in the world. Asparagus, which I presume to have been the name of a Roman pro-consul, Marcus Asparagus Esculens, or what not, never deserved such luck as to lose its origin in two things so true and common as the bold birds of the town and the green democracy of the fields. Or again, we might say of sticks of asparagus that they have often lost their heads, and we might say the same of aristocrats. Both heads have been bitten off by the guillotine before now. But to complete the parallel we must maintain that the head of the aristocrat was the best part of him; and this is often hard to maintain. But, indeed, I do not base the view upon any such fancies from phraseology. Far deeper in earth are the roots of asparagus.

The one essential of an aristocracy is to be in advance of its age. That is, there must be something new known to a few. There must be a password; and it must always be a new password. Moreover, it must be, by its nature, an irrational password, for anything quite rational might rapidly be calculated even by the uninitiated. In the same way it is essential to any social observance that involves a social distinction, that the observance should be, in this sense at least, artificial. That is, you can only know the observance as the soldier knows the password, because he has been told.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"To have a theology is our only protection against the wicked restlessness of theologians."

I agree with those who think that this element of mere rank and fashion in the English Church is a thing to be regretted and removed. But I think it odd that many of those who declaim against it declaim also against doctrines and all definite theology. Surely it is clear that the only way to get equality is to get definition. Suppose you or I start an hotel; we may or may not have rules very severely stated in black and white. But at least we know what the result will be of the rules or the absence of the rules. If we have the hotel principles printed very plainly on a big board, we know that the poorest man in the place can always appeal to them. If we had no rules at all, we know quite well that the richest man in the place will certainly be best served....A definition is the only alternative to a mere brute struggle; to have things settled in black and white is the only alternative to having them settled in black and blue. To have a theology is our only protection against the wicked restlessness of theologians. If the Church of England or any other body tries to do without doctrines, the poor will fall way from it more than ever; the poor are found precisely wherever doctrine is found, whether under Popery or the Salvation Army. If we succeed in including all creeds, we shall fail to include all classes. We talk of things being High Church and Low Church and Broad Church. No doubt there is a sense in which all three of them are actualities; and beyond doubt all three of them are infinities. But there is a falsehood in the modern assumption that breadth is the only kind of largeness. Breadth is a small thing; infinite breadth is a small thing. It is only one dimension.

-October 27, 1906, Illustrated London News

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why, the English party system is founded upon the principle that telling the whole truth does not matter. It is founded upon the principle that half a truth is better than no politics. Our system deliberately turns a crowd of men who might be impartial into irrational partisans. It teaches some of them to tell lies and all of them to believe lies. It gives every man an arbitrary brief that he has to work up as best he may and defend as best he can. It turns a room full of citizens into a room full of barristers. I know it has many charms and virtues, fighting and good-fellowship; it has all the charms and virtues of a game. I only say that it would be a stark impossibility in a nation which believed in telling the truth.

-August 11, 1906, Illustrated London News

Thursday, October 25, 2012


...courage is a paradox, and can best and most easily be expressed by a paradox. I have only to say, 'Courage involves the power of being frightened,' and you have a paradox and a matter of plain common sense. For we certainly do not talk of the courage of the entomologist in boldly striking the beetle, because he does not fear it.....Courage involves fear, and this is only one of the million paradoxes which existed in nature ages before any literary men ever borrowed them.

-The Speaker, February 8, 1902

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect."

Now, there is something to be said for the peculiar influence of pictorial symbols on men's minds. All letters, we learn, were originally pictorial and heraldic: thus the letter A is the portrait of an ox, but the portrait is now reproduced in so impressionist a manner that but little of the rural atmosphere can be absorbed by contemplating it. But as long as some pictorial and poetic quality remains in the symbol, the constant use of it must do something for the aesthetic education of those employing it. Public-houses are now almost the only shops that use the ancient signs, and the mysterious attraction which they exercise may be (by the optimistic) explained in this manner. There are taverns with names so dreamlike and exquisite that even Sir Wilfrid Lawson might waver on the threshold for a moment, suffering the poet to struggle with the moralist. So it was with the heraldic images. It is impossible to believe that the red lion of Scotland acted upon those employing it merely as a naked convenience like a number or a letter; it is impossible to believe that the Kings of Scotland would have cheerfully accepted the substitute of a pig or a frog. There are, as we say, certain real advantages in pictorial symbols, and one of them is that everything that is pictorial suggests, without naming or defining. There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect. Men do not quarrel about the meaning of sunsets; they never dispute that the hawthorn says the best and wittiest thing about the spring.

-The Defendant (1901)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dean Koontz

Not much today....but here is an EWTN interview with Dean Koontz that aired last week, in which he mentions his reading of Chesterton at the 8:50 mark (hence, justifying my posting on this blog.)


(Yes, I hope to get to posting quotes again tomorrow).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

...journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones Dead" to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.

-The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

...all men are allegories, puzzles, earthly stories with heavenly meanings; the difference between them is mainly in degree of lucidity, in the fact that while some are as stately as a pageant of Spenser, as plain and passionate as a dialogue of Bunyan, or as quaint and philosophical as a fable of Aesop, some others of our acquaintances are somewhat murky designs by William Blake, from which the heavenly meaning is exceedingly difficult to extract.

-The Bookman, December 1901

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Fiction means the common things as seen by the uncommon people. Fairy tales mean the uncommon things as seen by the common people."

For not only is [Dickens'] whole machinery directed to facilitating the self-display of certain characters, but something more deep and more unmodern still is also true of him. It is also true that all the moving machinery exists only to display entirely static character. Things in the Dickens story shift and change only in order to give us glimpses of great characters that do not change at all. If we had a sequel of Pickwick ten years afterwards, Pickwick would be exactly the same age. We know he would not have fallen into that strange and beautiful second childhood which soothed and simplified the end of Colonel Newcome. Newcome, throughout the book, is in an atmosphere of time: Pickwick, throughout the book, is not. This will probably be taken by most modern people as praise of Thackeray and dispraise of Dickens. But this only shows how few modern people understand Dickens. It also shows how few understand the faiths and the fables of mankind. The matter can only be roughly stated in one way. Dickens did not strictly make a literature; he made a mythology.

For a few years our corner of Western Europe has had a fancy for this thing we call fiction; that is, for writing down our own lives or similar lives in order to look at them. But though we call it fiction, it differs from older literatures chiefly in being less fictitious. It imitates not only life, but the limitations of life; it not only reproduces life, it reproduces death. But outside us, in every other country, in every other age, there has been going on from the beginning a more fictitious kind of fiction. I mean the kind now called folklore, the literature of the people. Our modern novels, which deal with men as they are, are chiefly produced by a small and educated section of society. But this other literature deals with men greater than they are -- with demi-gods and heroes; and that is far too important a matter to be trusted to the educated classes. The fashioning of these portents is a popular trade, like ploughing or bricklaying; the men who made hedges, the men who made ditches, were the men who made deities. Men could not elect their kings, but they could elect their gods. So we find ourselves faced with a fundamental contrast between what is called fiction and what is called folklore. The one exhibits an abnormal degree of dexterity operating within our daily limitations; the other exhibits quite normal desires extended beyond those limitations. Fiction means the common things as seen by the uncommon people. Fairy tales mean the uncommon things as seen by the common people.

As our world advances through history towards its present epoch, it becomes more specialist, less democratic, and folklore turns gradually into fiction. But it is only slowly that the old elfin fire fades into the light of common realism. For ages after our characters have dressed up in the clothes of mortals they betray the blood of the gods. Even our phraseology is full of relics of this. When a modern novel is devoted to the bewilderments of a weak young clerk who cannot decide which woman he wants to marry, or which new religion he believes in, we still give this knock-kneed cad the name of "the hero" -- the name which is the crown of Achilles. The popular preference for a story with "a happy ending" is not, or at least was not, a mere sweet-stuff optimism; it is the remains of the old idea of the triumph of the dragon-slayer, the ultimate apotheosis of the man beloved of heaven.

-Charles Dickens (1906)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Freedom of mind

There can be no liberty of thought unless it is ready to unsettle what has recently been settled, as well as what has long been settled.

-What I Saw in America (1922)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Will someone take me to a pub?"

A Ballade of an Anti-Puritan

They spoke of Progress spiring round,
Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward--
It is not true to say I frowned,
Or ran about the room and roared;
I might have simply sat and snored--
I rose politely in the club
And said, `I feel a little bored;
Will someone take me to a pub?'

The new world's wisest did surround
Me; and it pains me to record
I did not think their views profound,
Or their conclusions well assured;
The simple life I can't afford,
Besides, I do not like the grub--
I want a mash and sausage, `scored'--
Will someone take me to a pub?

I know where Men can still be found,
Anger and clamorous accord,
And virtues growing from the ground,
And fellowship of beer and board,
And song, that is a sturdy cord,
And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
And goodness, that is God's last word--
Will someone take me to a pub?

Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
To see the sort of knights you dub--
Is that the last of them--O Lord
Will someone take me to a pub?

[From the July 13, 1911 edition of The Eye-Witness]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


A crater on Mercury has recently been named after GKC...


(see "Origin" near bottom of the page)

That is all. :-)

Monday, October 15, 2012


...exaggeration is often a very good proof of honesty. The test of a truth is that it is a thing that may be safely exaggerated. Try to exaggerate a falsehood, and every one will see what a monster you have set up.

-The Pall Mall Magazine, Volume XXVI, January to April 1902

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of God has seen the truth; we might almost say the cold truth."

The transition from the good man to the saint is a sort of revolution; by which one for whom all things illustrate and illuminate God becomes one for whom God illustrates and illuminates all things. It is rather like the reversal whereby a lover might say at first sight that a lady looked like a flower, and say afterwards that all flowers reminded him of his lady. A saint and a poet standing by the same flower might seem to say the same thing; but indeed though they would both be telling the truth, they would be telling different truths. For one the joy of life is a cause of faith, for the other rather a result of faith. But one effect of the difference is that the sense of a divine dependence, which for the artist is like the brilliant levin-blaze, for the saint is like the broad daylight. Being in some mystical sense on the other side of things, he sees things go forth from the divine as children going forth from a familiar and accepted home, instead of meeting them as they come out, as most of us do, upon the roads of the world. And it is the paradox that by this privilege he is more familiar, more free and fraternal, more carelessly hospitable than we. For us the elements are like heralds who tell us with trumpet and tabard that we are drawing near the city of a great king; but he hails them with an old familiarity that is almost an old frivolity. He calls them his Brother Fire and his Sister Water.

So arises out of this almost nihilistic abyss the noble thing that is called Praise; which no one will ever understand while he identifies it with nature-worship or pantheistic optimism. When we say that a poet praises the whole creation, we commonly mean only that he praises the whole cosmos. But this sort of poet does really praise creation, in the sense of the act of creation. He praises the passage or transition from nonentity to entity; there falls here also the shadow of that archetypal image of the bridge, which has given to the priest his archaic and mysterious name. The mystic who passes through the moment when there is nothing but God does in some sense behold the beginningless beginnings in which there was really nothing else. He not only appreciates everything but the nothing of which everything was made. In a fashion he endures and answers even the earthquake irony of the Book of Job; in some sense he is there when the foundations of the world are laid, with the morning stars singing together and the sons of God shouting for joy. That is but a distant adumbration of the reason why the Franciscan, ragged, penniless, homeless and apparently hopeless, did indeed come forth singing such songs as might come from the stars of morning; and shouting, a son of God.

This sense of the great gratitude and the sublime dependence was not a phrase or even a sentiment; it is the whole point that this was the very rock of reality. It was not a fancy but a fact; rather it is true that beside it all facts are fancies. That we all depend in every detail, at every instant, as a Christian would say upon God, as even an agnostic would say upon existence and the nature of things, is not an illusion of imagination; on the contrary, it is the fundamental fact which we cover up, as with curtains, with the illusion of ordinary life. That ordinary life is an admirable thing in itself, just as imagination is an admirable thing in itself. But it is much more the ordinary life that is made of imagination than the contemplative life. He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of God has seen the truth; we might almost say the cold truth. He who has seen the vision of his city upside-down has seen it the right way up.

-St. Francis of Assisi (1923)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

...the man who treats every human inconsistency as a hypocrisy is himself a hypocrite about his own inconsistencies.

-A Short History of England (1917)

Friday, October 12, 2012

"The great and delightful thing about human existence is that it has been engaged from the beginning of time in one everlasting crisis."

...all these forecasts of our future earthly state have always seemed to me to be under one great primary curse and error. They all represent the future condition of mankind as a state. The condition of mankind never has been, and probably never will be, a state. It has always been a change, and, to the people engaged in it, an exciting change.

It is solemnly said that this is a transition period; but the whole history of humanity has been one continual transition period. The great and delightful thing about human existence is that it has been engaged from the beginning of time in one everlasting crisis. Humanity went to bed every night expecting to wake up and find itself divine. The whole of history is the vigil of a festival. This is, I think, the essential error which gives that strange air of unreality, even of a kind of spectral horror, to all the Utopias which are now written about the ultimate condition of men. Men a thousand years hence may have the institutions of Mr. H. G. Wells, or the institutions of Mr. Bellamy, or the institutions of Mr. William Morris. But whatever their institutions are, the essential point is that they will not live by those institutions or in those institutions; they will live in some direct and practical excitement about the approaching appearance of the kingdom of God. Man will not rest in the Eden of William Morris any more than he rested in the Eden of the Book of Genesis. The simple pagan villages of "News from Nowhere" will be convulsed by the rumour that a man has arisen who claims to unite earth and heaven. The vast and automatic cities of Mr. Bellamy will be shaken, like Tyre and Babylon, to their foundations by a voice crying in the wilderness. Mechanics and business men who will run so successfully the perfect society of Mr. H. G. Wells may at any moment be made to look as black and mean as a mob of ants by the appearance of a martyr or an artist. There will be no "state" of humanity in the future. It will be, as we are, excited about something that it cannot understand. What we want to know about men in the future—supposing that we want to know anything, which is, I think, more than doubtful—is not how they will manage their police or their tramcars, but what they will be excited about. Their police and tramcars will be as uninteresting to them as ours are to us. What we want to know is what will make the darkness a hint to them and the dawn a prophecy. For to the collective spirit of humanity, as to the mightier spirit behind it, there is nothing-but an everlasting present; a thousand years are as yesterday in its sight, and as a watch in the night.

-The Pall Mall Magazine, Volume XXVI, January to April 1902

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Schopenhauer, with that brilliant futility which made him so striking considered merely as a literary man, maintains that Christianity is akin to his own pessimism because it rejects the vanities of the world. The remark is a good instance of that class of ingenious observations against which we can say nothing except that they are obviously not true. Any one can see that a man floating in visions of certain felicity is not in the same state of mind as a man who believes all felicity impossible: and the two are not made essentially any more similar by the accident that they both take the same attitude towards something else. Schopenhauer and the most maniacal ascetic of the middle ages are no more like each other than a man who does not take an omnibus because he cannot afford it and a man who does not take an omnibus because he prefers his landau...the monkish felicity was full of the fieriest human images, and if he scoffed at non-religious pleasures it was as a lover might scoff at the mass of women or a patriot at the mass of nations.

-November 17, 1900, The Speaker

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Why not say that crackens and cuttles and all the sea-monsters are themselves flowers; fearful and wonderful flowers in that terrible twilight garden of God?"

"The subject of flowers is hackneyed, but the flowers are not," the poet was insisting. "Tennyson was right about the flower in the crannied wall; but most people don't look at flowers in a wall, but only in a wall-paper. If you generalize them, they are dull, but if you simply see them they are always startling. If there's a special providence in a falling star, there's more in a rising star; and a live star at that."

"Well, I can't see it," said the man of science, good-humouredly; he was a red-haired, keen-faced youth in pince-nez, by the name of Wilkes. "I'm afraid we fellows grow out of the way of seeing it like that. You see, a flower is only a growth like any other, with organs and all that; and its inside isn't any prettier or uglier than an animal's. An insect is much the same pattern of rings and radiations. I'm interested in it as I am in an octopus or any sea-beast you would think a monster."

"But why should you put it that way round?" retorted the poet. "Why isn't it quite as logical the other way round? Why not say the octopus is as wonderful as the flower, instead of the flower as ordinary as the octopus? Why not say that crackens and cuttles and all the sea-monsters are themselves flowers; fearful and wonderful flowers in that terrible twilight garden of God? I do not doubt that God can be as fond of a shark as I am of a buttercup."

-The Poet and the Lunatics (1929)
Anyhow, traveling about alone with nothing but a big Bible, he had learned to study it minutely, first for oracles and commandments, and afterwards for errors and contradictions; for the Bible-smasher is only the Bible-worshipper turned upside down.

-The Poet and the Lunatics (1929)

Monday, October 8, 2012


Anarchism, appeals to absolute liberty, renunciation of limitations as such — all this is incurably futile and childish, because it will not face a fundamental logical fact. This fact is that there is no such thing as a condition of complete emancipation, unless we can speak of a condition of nonentity. What we call emancipation is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another. If I have a piece of chalk in my hand, I can make either a circle or a square; that is the sacred thing called liberty. But I cannot make a thing that is both a circle and a square. I cannot make an unlimited square. I cannot draw an emancipated circle. If I wish to make anything at all, I must abide by the limitations and principles of the thing I make. . . . And any man who makes anything whatever, if it be with a piece of chalk, is doing exactly what a man does when he marries or enlists in an army. He is courageously selling himself into a splendid slavery. And, of course, in moral matters it is the same; there is no lawlessness, there is only a free choice between limitations.

-December 21st, 1905, Daily News
Quoted in The Man Who Was Orthodox: A Selection from the Uncollected Writings of G. K. Chesterton, collected by A.L. Maycock (1963)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Various "Speaker" quotes

...frivolity is, in the secretive sense, far more sacred than seriousness; it is more fragile, more personal, more occult. Any one can see St. Paul's Cathedral, but there may be only two people in the world who can see a particular joke...it is not possible, properly speaking, to laugh irreverently at time, death and judgment—for they laugh best who laugh last; but it is possible to laugh very irreverently at a joke.

-October 20, 1900, The Speaker

...religion is a secret passion audaciously made public; it is not strange if its hymns have something of the splendid folly of love-letters...

-October 27, 1900, The Speaker

...the lies of fiction convey truth and the lies of history convey nothing. But there is obviously a distinction between romances in this matter: all good romances convey truth, but not always about the period they describe.

-December 8, 1900, The Speaker

A poem may be written about everything, but not about things in general. To a poet who sings of the universe, the universe must be for the moment one thing—as much one thing as a daisy or a butterfly.

-January 5, 1901, The Speaker

The truth is that we should have the greatest respect for Mr. Wynne's work, with all its crudities, if it bore the impress even of the vulgarest fanaticism. If he had one thing which could be called an opinion we could forgive him everything. But he seems to dawdle round all sides of a question, like a drunkard going continually round a house because he cannot find the door.

-January 5, 1901, The Speaker
The literature of atheism is bound to fail exactly in proportion as it succeeds. The Bolshevists have not merely tried to abolish God; which some think a trick needing some ingenuity. They have tried to make an institution of abolishing God; and when the God is abolished, the abolition is abolished. There can never be any future for the literature of blasphemy; for if it fails, it fails; and if it succeeds, it becomes a literature of respectability. In short, all that sort of effect can only be an instantaneous effect; like smashing a valuable vase that cannot be smashed again.The heaven-defying gesture can only be impressive as a last gesture. Blasphemy is by definition the end of everything, including the blasphemer. The wife of Job saw the commonsense of this, when she instinctively said, "Curse God and die". The modern poet, by some thoughtless oversight, so often neglects to die.

-The Bookman, December 1932

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Where does a wise man hide a leaf?"

"Where does a wise man hide a pebble?"

 And the tall man answered in a low voice: "On the beach."

The small man nodded, and after a short silence said: "Where does a wise man hide a leaf?"

And the other answered: "In the forest."

-The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)

Friday, October 5, 2012

"A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttle-fish."

There is one very fixed, and I think very false, conception current in human life--the conception that to laugh at a thing is in some strange way to score off it. The literature of blasphemy, for instance, always assumes that when a thing has been shown to be ridiculous, it has in some way been shown to be disgusting or untrue. So far from having been shown to be disgusting, it has not even been shown to be undignified; so far from having been shown to be untrue, it has not even been shown to be improbable. ... A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttle-fish. The round earth itself is so round that it is impossible to say for certain that it is not standing on its head.

-April 18, 1903, Black and White
Quoted in The Man Who Was Orthodox" A Selection from the Uncollected Writings of G. K. Chesterton, collected by A.L. Maycock (1963)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A man makes himself far more practically unpopular by defending popularity than by any other course he can take. It is safe to defend the most oppressive dynasty or the most antiquated priesthood, for they at least will be grateful. But it is always unsafe to defend the mob, for there does not exist a single human being who believes himself to be a member of the mob.

-The Pall Mall Magazine, Volume 25 (September to December 1901)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Unmeaning and muddle-headed tyranny in small things, that is the thing which, if extended over many years, is harder to bear and hope through than the massacres of September."

Tyranny like this is not the worst tyranny, but it is the most intolerable. It interferes with men not in the most serious matters, but precisely in those matters in which they most resent interference. It may be illogical for men to accept cheerfully unpardonable public scandals, benighted educational systems, bad sanitation, bad lighting, a blundering and inefficient system of life, and yet to resent the tearing up of a telegram or a post-card; but the fact remains that the sensitiveness of men is a strange and localised thing, and there is hardly a man in the world who would not rather be ruled by despots chosen by lot and live in a city like a mediƦval Ghetto, than be forbidden by a policeman to smoke another cigarette, or sit up a quarter of an hour later; hardly a man who would not feel inclined in such a case to raise a rebellion for a caprice for which he did not really care a straw. Unmeaning and muddle-headed tyranny in small things, that is the thing which, if extended over many years, is harder to bear and hope through than the massacres of September.

-Robert Browning (1903)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chesterton in a movie made by J.M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan).

J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and a good friend of Chesterton's, liked to make his own films. Chesterton appeared in one of them, a cowboy film, which you can read about at the following link, including the humorous circumstances of it's production (even if the British Prime Minister at the time didn't find it so amusing). Also included at the link is a picture of Chesterton (as well as George Bernard Shaw and a couple of others) dressed up as cowboys!


Monday, October 1, 2012


Red is the most joyful and dreadful thing in the physical universe; it is the fiercest note, it is the highest light, it is the place where the walls of this world of ours wear thinnest and something beyond burns through. It glows in the blood which sustains and in the fire which destroys us, in the roses of our romance and in the awful cup of our religion. It stands for all passionate happiness, as in faith or in first love.

Now, the profligate is he who wishes to spread this crimson of conscious joy over everything; to have excitement at every moment; to paint everything red. He bursts a thousand barrels of wine to incarnadine the streets; and sometimes (in his last madness) he will butcher beasts and men to dip his gigantic brushes in their blood. For it marks the sacredness of red in nature, that it is secret even when it is ubiquitous, like blood in the human body, which is omnipresent, yet invisible. As long as blood lives it is hidden; it is only dead blood that we see. But the earlier parts of the rake's progress are very natural and amusing. Painting the town red is a delightful thing until it is done. It would be splendid to see the cross of St. Paul's as red as the cross of St. George, and the gallons of red paint running down the dome or dripping from the Nelson Column. But when it is done, when you have painted the town red, an extraordinary thing happens. You cannot see any red at all.

Alarms and Discursions (1910)