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)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"We're all really dependent in nearly everything, and we all make a fuss about being independent in something."

We're all really dependent in nearly everything, and we all make a fuss about being independent in something.

-The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

You can find all the new ideas in the old books; only there you will find them balanced, kept in their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome by other and better ideas. The great writers did not neglect a fad because they had not thought of it, but because they had thought of it and of all the answers to it as well.

-The Common Man (collection of essays published posthumously in 1950)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"...politicians have no politics."

I had great joy out of the hearty humours of old Asquith, the late Lord Oxford; [Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1908 to 1916] and though our conversations were light and even flippant, he was one who rose gloriously to flippancy. Once when he appeared in Court dress, on some superbly important occasion, an uncontrollable impulse of impertinence led me to ask whether the Court sword would really come out of its sheath. “Oh, yes,” he said, shaking a shaggily frowning head at me, “Do not provoke me.” But he also had about the fundamentals of politics and ethics this curious quality of vagueness, which I have found so often in men holding high responsibilities. He did not mind answering a silly question about a sword; but if it had been a sensible question about a super-tax, he would have adopted, however genially, a fencing sort of swordsmanship. He would have faintly felt that he was being heckled, and almost been disposed to ask for notice of that question. I have a difficulty in not darkening the fine shade that I intended; he was very public, as public men go; but they all seem to become hazier as they mount higher. It is the young and unknown who have decisive doctrines and sharply declared intentions. I once expressed it by saying, I think with some truth, that politicians have no politics.

-Autobiography (1936)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

...the worst part of pain or calamity [is] the fact of the abnormal thing becoming the normal, disaster becoming a routine. We can all endure catastrophe as long as it is catastrophic; it is maddening the moment it is orderly.

-The Speaker, September 9, 1905 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The refusal of the jurors in the Thaw trial to come to an agreement is certainly a somewhat amusing sequel to the frenzied and even fantastic caution with which they were selected. Jurymen were set aside for reasons which seem to have only the very wildest relation to the case—reasons which we cannot conceive as giving any human being a real bias. It may be questioned whether the exaggerated theory of impartiality in an arbiter or juryman may not be carried so far as to be more unjust than partiality itself. What people call impartiality may simply mean indifference, and what people call partiality may simply mean mental activity. It is sometimes made an objection, for instance, to a juror that he has formed some primâ-facie opinion upon a case: if he can be forced under sharp questioning to admit that he has formed such an opinion, he is regarded as manifestly unfit to conduct the inquiry. Surely this is unsound. If his bias is one of interest, of class, or creed, or notorious propaganda, then that fact certainly proves that he is not an impartial arbiter. But the mere fact that he did form some temporary impression from the first facts as far as he knew them—this does not prove that he is not an impartial arbiter—it only proves that he is not a cold-blooded fool.

If we walk down the street, taking all the jurymen who have not formed opinions and leaving all the jurymen who have formed opinions, it seems highly probable that we shall only succeed in taking all the stupid jurymen and leaving all the thoughtful ones. Provided that the opinion formed is really of this airy and abstract kind, provided that it has no suggestion of settled motive or prejudice, we might well regard it not merely as a promise of capacity, but literally as a promise of justice. The man who took the trouble to deduce from the police reports would probably be the man who would take the trouble to deduce further and different things from the evidence. The man who had the sense to form an opinion would be the man who would have the sense to alter it.

-All Things Considered (1908)

Monday, June 10, 2013

"The fact that they often do stretch words in order to cover cases is the whole foundation of having any fixed laws or free institutions at all."

But I ask the reader to remember always that I am talking of words, not as they are used in talk or novels, but as they will be used, and have been used, in warrants and certificates, and Acts of Parliament. ... But it is by no means always to the interest of governments or officials to hang the right man. The fact that they often do stretch words in order to cover cases is the whole foundation of having any fixed laws or free institutions at all....And the vaguer the charge is the less they will be able to disprove it.

-Eugenics and Other Evils (1922)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What a strange world in which a man cannot remain unique even by taking the trouble to go mad.

-The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed: a passage which some have considered as a prophecy of modern journalism.

-All Things Considered (1908)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"...the practical result of our bureaucracy is something very near to anarchy."

...the modern notion of universal official organisation is a physical impossibility, and almost a contradiction in terms.....There are only a certain number of officials to go round; and, if we insist of using some of their energies for small and senseless objects, there will obviously be less for large and serious objects. If one of the officials is engaged in preventing people from buying chocolates after half-past eight, he has the less attention to give to people who send poisoned chocolates to other people whom they have the misfortune to dislike. If a policeman is engaged in preventing a man from standing treat to an old friend in a public-house, he cannot at the same moment be preventing another man from stabbing an old enemy in another public-house. The common sense of this consideration was as obvious as daylight to our fathers, and was embodied in the old legal tag of "De minimis non curat lex." [Latin for the law does not concern itself with trifles]. But that maxim has certainly been entirely reversed and repudiated in modern social legislation. Our officials are so much occupied in controlling diet and details of medical theory, and disputed points of decorum in the arts, that such a trifle as a corpse on a doorstep or an assassination a few yards from a lamp-post appears almost in the nature of an irritating and unexpected addition to their daily toils. They cannot be expected to concentrate on anything so barbaric and elementary. "De maximis non curat lex."

It is therefore the very opposite of the truth to say that the police fail through lack of organisation. It is much nearer the truth to say that they fail because society is being far too much organized. A scheme of official control which is too ambitious for human life has broken down, and broken down exactly where we need it most. Instead of law being a strong cord to bind what it is really possible to bind, it has become a thin net to cover what it is quite impossible to cover. It is the nature of a net so stretched to break everywhere; and the practical result of our bureaucracy is something very near to anarchy.

-April 1, 1922, Illustrated London News

Monday, June 3, 2013

Comforts that were rare among our forefathers are now multiplied in factories and handed out wholesale; and indeed, nobody nowadays, so long as he is content to go without air, space, quiet, decency and good manners, need be without anything whatever that he wants; or at least a reasonably cheap imitation of it.

Commonwealth (1933)

"It is when it comes to being broadminded that they are most narrow..."

We often lament that the world is divided into sects, all with different narrow ideas. The real trouble is that they all have different broad ideas. It is when it comes to being broadminded that they are most narrow, or at any rate most different. It is their generalisations that cut across each other... A modern agnostic thinks he is broadminded when he says that all religions or revelations, Catholic or Protestant, savage or civilised, are alike mere myths and guesses at what man can never know. But I think that is a narrow negation, sprung from special spiritual conditions in Upper Tooting. My idea of broadmindedness is to sympathise with so many of these separate spiritual atmospheres as possible; to respect or love the Buddhists of Tibet or the agnostics of Tooting for their many real virtues and capacities, but to have a philosophy which explains each of them in turn and does not merely generalise from one of them. This I have found in the Catholic philosophy; but that is not the question here, except in so far as there is, I think, just this difference: that the largeness of the other schemes is an unreal largeness of generalisation, whereas the largeness of our scheme is a real largeness of experience.

-The Common Man (collection of essays published posthumously in 1950)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

There are only two kinds of social structure conceivable-- personal government and impersonal government. If my anarchic friends will not have rules--they will have rulers. Preferring personal government, with its tact and flexibility, is called Royalism. Preferring impersonal government, with its dogmas and definitions, is called Republicanism. Objecting broadmindedly both to kings and creeds is called Bosh; at least, I know no more philosophic word for it. You can be guided by the shrewdness or presence of mind of one ruler, or by the equality and ascertained justice of one rule; but you must have one or the other, or you are not a nation, but a nasty mess.

-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"The rich are always modern; it is their business."

The real power of the English aristocrats has lain in exactly the opposite of tradition. The simple key to the power of our upper classes is this: that they have always kept carefully on the side of what is called Progress. They have always been up to date, and this comes quite easy to an aristocracy. For the aristocracy are the supreme instances of that frame of mind of which we spoke just now. Novelty is to them a luxury verging on a necessity. They, above all, are so bored with the past and with the present, that they gape, with a horrible hunger, for the future.

But whatever else the great lords forgot they never forgot that it was their business to stand for the new things, for whatever was being most talked about among university dons or fussy financiers. Thus they were on the side of the Reformation against the Church, of the Whigs against the Stuarts, of the Baconian science against the old philosophy, of the manufacturing system against the operatives, and (to-day) of the increased power of the State against the old-fashioned individualists. In short, the rich are always modern; it is their business.

 -What's Wrong With the World (1910)

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