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, May 24, 2015

The great and important use (right or wrong) to which a modern royal house is put is that of supplying the vast mass of the nation with a sort of enduring romance- a romance not differing at all in proportions from their own romances, but only differing in scale, only differing in the fact that it is well known to all....Ten million readers can follow the life of King Alfonso and his wife exactly as ten million readers could follow the life of Sir Alured Fitzthunderbolt and his wife in the serial story of a popular magazine. In a word, what advantage there is in the method is a wholly emotional advantage. The public use of a royal family is not merely that it is royal, but that it is a family....the life of a royal family is not...a public life. It is only a private life- lived in public.
-June 23, 1906, Illustrated London News

Friday, May 22, 2015

...when you have lost your way quite hopelessly the quickest thing is to go back along the road you know to the place from which you started. You may call it reaction, you may call it repetition, you may call it a tiresome theory; but it is the quickest way out of a wood.
-July 28, 1906, Illustrated London News

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Just wanted to note that I will soon be moving, and so might not be able to make any posts during that process.
The sort of Evangelical who demands what he calls a Living Christ must surely find it difficult to reconcile with his religion an indifference to a Dying Christ; but anyhow one would think he would prefer it to a Dead Cross...If a man were ready to wreck every statue of Julius Caesar, but also ready to kiss the sword that killed him, he would be liable to be misunderstood as an ardent admirer of Caesar. If a man hated to have a portrait of Charles the First, but rubbed his hands with joy at the sight of the axe that beheaded him, he would have himself to blame if he were regarded rather as a Roundhead than a Royalist. And to permit a picture of the engine of execution, while forbidding a picture of the victim, is just as strange and sinister in the case of Christ as in that of Caesar.
-Autobiography (1936)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"...this was what made a public man; the power of being excited at the same moment as the public press."

It was a part of that quality in Julian Archer which fitted him so specially and supremely to be a public man. He could become suddenly and quite sincerely hot on any subject, so long as it was the subject filling the newspapers at the moment. If the King of Albania (whose private life, alas, leaves so much to be desired) were at that moment on bad terms with the sixth German princess who had married into his family, Mr. Julian Archer was instantly transformed into a knight-errant ready to cross Europe on her behalf, without any reference to the other five princesses who were not for the moment in the public eye. The type and the individual will be completely misunderstood, however, if we suppose that there was anything obviously unctuous or pharisaical in his way of urging these mutable enthusiasms. In each case in turn, Archer's handsome and heated face had always been thrust across the table with the same air of uncontrollable protest and gushing indignation. And Murrel would sit up opposite him and reflect that this was what made a public man; the power of being excited at the same moment as the public press.
-The Return of Don Quixote (1927)

Monday, May 18, 2015

"But the thing which is really required for the proper working of democracy is not merely the democratic system, or even the democratic philosophy, but the democratic emotion."

But the thing which is really required for the proper working of democracy is not merely the democratic system, or even the democratic philosophy, but the democratic emotion. The democratic emotion, like most elementary and indispensable things, is a thing difficult to describe at any time. But it is peculiarly difficult to describe it in our enlightened age, for the simple reason that it is peculiarly difficult to find it. It is a certain instinctive attitude which feels the things in which all men agree to be unspeakably important, and all the things in which they differ (such as mere brains) to be almost unspeakably unimportant. The nearest approach to it in our ordinary life would be the promptitude with which we should consider mere humanity in any circumstance of shock or death. We should say, after a somewhat disturbing discovery, "There is a dead man under the sofa." We should not be likely to say, "There is a dead man of considerable personal refinement under the sofa." We should say, "A woman has fallen into the water." We should not say, "A highly educated woman has fallen into the water." Nobody would say, "There are the remains of a clear thinker in your back garden." Nobody would say, "Unless you hurry up and stop him, a man with a very fine ear for music will have jumped off that cliff." But this emotion, which all of us have in connection with such things as birth and death, is to some people native and constant at all ordinary times and in all ordinary places. It was native to St. Francis of Assisi. It was native to Walt Whitman. In this strange and splendid degree it cannot be expected, perhaps, to pervade a whole commonwealth or a whole civilization; but one commonwealth may have it much more than another commonwealth, one civilization much more than another civilization. No community, perhaps, ever had it so much as the early Franciscans. No community, perhaps, ever had it so little as ours.
-Heretics (1905)

Friday, May 15, 2015

...it is in truth a mark of faith to joke about one’s convictions, to exaggerate them as a proof of their solidity and security; for nobody exaggerates unless he is feeling satisfied and safe. A man dances on a rock, not on a tightrope.
-Daily News, August 1, 1903
quoted in The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

There is but a faint shade which turns grey into purple. There is but one nameless tint that is between the poorest of colours and the richest of colours. That grey turning purple is the nearest simile we can find for the poverty and pleasure of the Franciscans. But the thing is very fresh and delicate, like the dawning observation of infancy. The Franciscan monk is only conscious of his own unworthiness. He is not conscious of his hilarity. This paradox of a humiliation which is named creating an exultation which is not named is the whole poetry of this gray and silver daybreak of the medieval civilization; and it is the root of all the irony and fantasy which a modern feels in reading these tales. For example, there is one tale of how Brother Juniper "played see-saw to abase himself". The reader has a kind of subconscious conviction that he really played see-saw to amuse himself. But the real truth is somewhere between the two, and is a matter of more subtle psychology. The man did sincerely feel that in joining a grotesque game of children he was in some way breaking the back of his own natural pride. But there also entered into the operation involuntarily and invisibly a breath from the paradise of children. And, indeed, see-saw (besides being an excellent game) is a very good symbol of the principle that he that abaseth himself shall be exalted.
-Lunacy and Letters
(collection of essays published posthumously in 1958)

"It is only the last and wildest kind of courage that can stand on a tower before ten thousand people and tell them that twice two is four."

Now, this arresting, mental humility in Mr. H. G. Wells may be, like a great many other things that are vital and vivid, difficult to illustrate by examples, but if I were asked for an example of it, I should have no difficulty about which example to begin with. The most interesting thing about Mr. H. G. Wells is that he is the only one of his many brilliant contemporaries who has not stopped growing. One can lie awake at night and hear him grow. Of this growth the most evident manifestation is indeed a gradual change of opinions; but it is no mere change of opinions. It is not a perpetual leaping from one position to another like that of Mr. George Moore. It is a quite continuous advance along a quite solid road in a quite definable direction. But the chief proof that it is not a piece of fickleness and vanity is the fact that it has been upon the whole in advance from more startling opinions to more humdrum opinions. It has been even in some sense an advance from unconventional opinions to conventional opinions. This fact fixes Mr. Wells's honesty and proves him to be no poseur. Mr. Wells once held that the upper classes and the lower classes would be so much differentiated in the future that one class would eat the other. Certainly no paradoxical charlatan who had once found arguments for so startling a view would ever have deserted it except for something yet more startling. Mr. Wells has deserted it in favour of the blameless belief that both classes will be ultimately subordinated or assimilated to a sort of scientific middle class, a class of engineers. He has abandoned the sensational theory with the same honourable gravity and simplicity with which he adopted it. Then he thought it was true; now he thinks it is not true. He has come to the most dreadful conclusion a literary man can come to, the conclusion that the ordinary view is the right one. It is only the last and wildest kind of courage that can stand on a tower before ten thousand people and tell them that twice two is four.
-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A perfect description of how today's media covers any major news story...

From the "Some things never change" department....

Whatever accidentally happens during the reign of one party, is supposed to have happened either by the despotic order or the dark connivance of the party. If a whale is washed up at the mouth of the Thames during a Tory Government, all the Tory journalists must at once prove that the smell of decaying whale is wholesome and invigorating; while all the Radical journalists must prove that a whale is, in its chemical constitution, rather more poisonous than a viper. Every Conservative writer must think hard of whatever there is to be said in favour of whales: as that they are our own kindred, mammals, reared on the milk of human kindness. The Conservatives must found a Mammals' Club in Piccadilly, to which men and whales shall be equally welcome. On the other hand, the Liberals must think of all they can to the discredit of whales. They must remember the disrespectful treatment of Jonah the Prophet. They must start another club or league- a large popular movement with a banner inscribed, "Justice for Jonah." One party must end up by saying that the sight of the smallest whale on the dimmest horizon makes magnificent sea-captains sicken and fall down dead. The other party must end by maintaining that all furniture should be whale-bone and all food should be whale's blubber. All this happens because the dead whale has chanced to drift shorewards on one tide out of many tides. If it had tossed about for a week or two longer, it might have made all the Tories use the Radical arguments and all the Radicals the Tory ones.
-February 4, 1911, Illustrated London News

Monday, May 11, 2015

The highest use of the great masters of literature is not literary; it is apart from their superb style and even from their emotional inspiration.  The first use of good literature is that it prevents a man from being merely modern.  To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness; just as to spend one’s last earthly money on the newest hat is to condemn oneself to the old-fashioned.  The road of the ancient centuries is strewn with dead moderns.  Literature, classic and enduring literature, does its best work in reminding us perpetually of the whole round of truth and balancing other and older ideas against the ideas to which we might for a moment be prone.
-The Common Man (1950)
(H/T G.K. Chesterton Facebook page

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Convert

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
-The Ballad of St Barbara and Other Verses (1922)

Friday, May 8, 2015

"...all the noble necessities of man talk the language of eternity."

A man’s soul is as full of voices as a forest; there are ten thousand tongues there like all the tongues of the trees: fancies, follies, memories, madnesses, mysterious fears, and more mysterious hopes.  All the settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some of those voices have authority and others not.  You may have an impulse to fight your enemy or an impulse to run away from him; a reason to serve your country or a reason to betray it; a good idea for making sweets or a better idea for poisoning them.  The only test I know by which to judge one argument or inspiration from another is ultimately this: that all the noble necessities of man talk the language of eternity.  When man is doing the three or four things that he was sent on this earth to do, then he speaks like one who shall live for ever.  A man dying for his country does not talk as if local preferences could change.  Leonidas does not say, “In my present mood, I prefer Sparta to Persia.” William Tell does not remark, “The Swiss civilization, so far as I can yet see, is superior to the Austrian.” When men are making commonwealths, they talk in terms of the absolute, and so they do when they are making (however unconsciously) those smaller commonwealths which are called families.  There are in life certain immortal moments, moments that have authority.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[There is] a considerable school of current thought that wants everything stereotyped. It wants all the pupils in the schools to be exactly the same, and all the schools in the country to be exactly the same. It admits that many little mistakes have been made in the past, and pointed out in the past. It wants to make the next mistake on a really large and magnificent scale, with nobody to point it out.
-May 28, 1921, Illustrated London News
H/T ACS Facebook page

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"...a mystic is one who holds that two worlds are better than one"

"Do you, perhaps," inquired Pym with austere irony, "maintain that your client was a bird of some sort- say, a flamingo?"

 "In the matter of his being a flamingo," said Moon with sudden severity, "my client reserves his defence."

No one quite knowing what to make of this, Mr. Moon resumed his seat and Inglewood resumed the reading of his document:-
" 'There is something pleasing to a mystic in such a land of mirrors. For a mystic is one who holds that two worlds are better than one. In the highest sense, indeed, all thought is reflection.

 "`This is the real truth, in the saying that second thoughts are best. Animals have no second thoughts; man alone is able to see his own thought double, as a drunkard sees a lamp-post; man alone is able to see his own thought upside down as one sees a house in a puddle. This duplication of mentality, as in a mirror, is (we repeat) the inmost thing of human philosophy. There is a mystical, even a monstrous truth, in the statement that two heads are better than one. But they ought both to grow on the same body." -
-Manalive (1912)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It may be that under a hundred badges and disguises there have never been but two parties in the world: those to whom life was a black figure on a white ground, and those to whom it was a white figure on a black ground; those to whom the background of the cosmos is so irradiated with some great hope and opportunity that the direst toils and macerations seem natural; and those to whom the background is black with so unfathomable a blackness that every pleasure must be hoarded like the flowers of Herrick.
-May 26, 1900, The Speaker

Monday, May 4, 2015

It is significant that in recent days every sort of public entertainment has been called "a show," with the implication that as much as possible must be shown.
-Avowals and Denials (1934)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

J.K. Rowling quotes Chesterton

OK, so the quote she attributes to Chesterton actually seems to be attributed incorrectly to him, but still...it is nevertheless cool to see her mention GKC.


Friday, May 1, 2015

I just noticed that there is now a Kindle edition of G.K. Chesterton, Theologian by Fr. Aidan Nichols for $3.49....
The evil sentimentalism which we all have reason to deplore from time to time as we pass through life is generally, I think, definable as a tame and cold or small and inadequate manner of speaking about certain matters which demand very large and beautiful expression. The sentimentalist's comment on death or first love, for instance, is offensive, not because his words are too big, but because they are not big enough. We all feel, for instance, that if a journalist having occasion to see the dead child of some poor woman, should in the depravity of his nature talk of it having "a little angel face"- we all feel, I say, that such a journalist is rather a nasty fellow. But the reason is because the thought is in the presence of a great tragedy, entirely trivial. the august and poignant fact about the child is not that it looks like an angel, or is pretty, or even good; the sacred thing about it is simply that it is dead. The tragedy is just the same if it happens at that moment to look like a baboon. The observation is therefore bad, not because it is emotional, but because it is not emotional. It is bad, not because it is soft,  but because it is really very hard and cruel. It is outside the atmosphere; it is strictly to be called "bad taste," because it has not tasted the bracing and bitter substance of calamity. It has drunk the dreadful wine from the same cup as the child's mother, but it has not felt the smack of the difference between this and the weak wine of mere humanitarianism.

-The Outlook, Volume LVVVI (September to December 1905), "The Eclipse of Sentiment"