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, July 30, 2015

People, in public or private life, who have some reason to suppose that they have wrongs always profess to desire to see their wrongs erased, but in truth to erase their wrongs would be to erase their sun from heaven [...] They cling to the minutest memories of a family quarrel [...] they still think of the quite unjustifiable letter which Aunt Maria wrote to Aunt Jane. To the vindictive man it is vain to offer reparation, for he does not desire reparation; he desires his wrongs [...] It is the truth that the idea of a war of revenge and reparation is at the very inception useless and vain, for these emotions will never be sated even by victory and glory. Vindictiveness is a disease, and when it is once generated it rages, not only until it has killed its enemies, but until it has killed its possessor.
-October 15, 1902, Daily News

Friday, July 24, 2015

"The Speaker" Articles [Book]

Just wanted to state that I have now updated my printed version of the book "The Speaker" Articles (formerly GKC Speaks), so that it includes all 112 of the pieces which GKC wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" early in his career. (At least, I think that is all of them. When doing the Kindle version, I had accidentally forgot 3 pieces. Oops!). Anyway, just in case you are interested, here is the link to the printed version:

"The Speaker" Articles

And here is the description:


"It must be resolutely proclaimed that into the world of wonder there is no gate but the low gate of humility, through the arch of which the earth shines like elfland."

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), one of the most influential and quotable authors of the twentieth century, was first and foremost a journalist. Among his earliest articles were those which he contributed to the paper "The Speaker." This volume contains all 112 pieces which he wrote for that paper (ranging in dates from 1892 to 1905), some of which were reprinted in later books, such as "The Defendant" (1901), but most of which have not been. They contain many valuable nuggets of Chesterton's wit and wisdom, and will prove of great interest to devoted Chestertonians as well as newcomers to the "Prince of Paradox."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We read in the greatest of texts that God is Love, but we do not read anywhere that God is Sentimentalism [...] What the world needs to restore its youth is not only more reality in its joys, but more reality in its gifts, its perils, and its renunciations.
-July 19, 1901, Daily News

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Chesterton the athlete! :-)

GKC, in addition to his other talents, played cricket, on the team founded by J.M. Barrie (a close friend of his)!
JM Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan in 1904, was another enthusiastic cricketer. Between 1923 and 1932 Barrie rented Stanway House in Gloucestershire each summer from the Earl of Wemyss, whose daughter Lady Cynthia Asquith was a good friend of the author. During these stays, Barrie organised matches between his own team and others in the area. Barrie called his side the Allahahbarries, a pun on the Arabic phrase which he thought meant "Heaven help us", but in facts means "God is great". It must have caused great intrigue among the pre-Great War rural community in remote Stanway when members of the Allahahbarries, who included many of the foremost literary figures of the time, donned whites to play on the village strip. HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jerome K Jerome, GK Chesterton, AA Milne, PG Wodehouse, AEW Mason and EW Hornung were all players in the side. Barrie wrote a slim book about his celebrity team which was reprinted with a foreword by Don Bradman, the legendary Australian batsmen, in 1950. The thatched pavilion that JM Barrie built at Stanway's cricket ground is still in use by the way. [Source]
One is reminded of Chesterton's essay The Perfect Game when trying to assess his own attitude towards playing games....


But, anyhow, now that American citizens have begun to criticize American tea, I feel emancipated from any vow of silence and free to state that an English lady of my acquaintance, on first becoming acquainted with the local beverage, said, "Well, if that's the sort of tea we sent them, I don't wonder they threw it into Boston Harbor." [...]

[...] still, the truth was that tea was not a national drink. The tables, including the tea-tables, were turned very rapidly on us by a comparison of coffee. I once made a fanciful parallel between drinks and doctrinal systems calling Protestantism beer, Catholicism wine, Agnosticism water ( a good thing if you get it clean), and the philosophy of Bernard Shaw black coffee, "which awakens but does not stimulate."

Professor William Lyon Phelps had it back on me by remarking, "I think coffee does stimulate; but then, of course, Mr. Chesterton was thinking of English coffee."

-April 10, 1935, The New York American [found in May/June 2015 issue of Gilbert magazine]

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; and it is positive and not negative, noble and not base, creative and not destructive, because it produces this institution. That institution is the family; a small state or commonwealth which has hundreds of aspects, when it is once started, that are not sexual at all. It includes worship, justice, festivity, decoration, instruction, comradeship, repose. Sex is the gate of that house; and romantic and imaginative people naturally like looking through a gateway. But the house is very much larger than the gate. There are indeed a certain number of people who like to hang about the gate and never get any further.
-January 29, 1928, G.K.'s Weekly
H/T G.K. Chesterton Facebook page (via Eric Matthews)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Years ago, when Mr. Bernard Shaw wrote on drama in the Saturday Review, he was only prevented from saying of every play that it was the worst in the world by the desire to say that at any rate it was better than Shakespeare. The high-water mark of his extraordinary hatred was reached, I remember, when somebody (with singular innocence) asked him to contribute to the celebration of a Shakespeare anniversary. He said — “I no longer celebrate my own birthday, and I do not see why I should celebrate his.” And I remember that when I read the words — years ago, when I was very young — I leapt up in my seat (since I was more agile in those days), and cried out — “Now I understand why he does not appreciate Shakespeare. It is because he does not appreciate birthdays.” […] Shakespeare was very plausibly presented by Shaw as a mere sullen sentimentalist, weeping over his own weakness and hanging the world with black in anticipation of his own funeral. It was all very ingenious, and you can quote a great deal in support of it. But, all the same, I am pretty sure that Shakespeare celebrated his birthday — and celebrated it with the utmost regularity. That is to say, I am sure there was strict punctuality about the time when the festival should begin, though there may, perhaps, have been some degree of vagueness or irregularity about the time when it should end.

There are some modern optimists who announce that the universe is magnificent or that life is worth living, as if they had just discovered some ingenious and unexpected circumstance which the world had never heard of before. But, if people had not regarded this human life of ours as wonderful and worthy, they would never have celebrated their birthdays at all. If you give Mr. Jones a box of cigars on his birthday the act cannot be consistent with the statement that you wish he had never been born. If you give Mr. Smith a dozen of sherry it cannot mean in theory that you wish him dead, whatever effects it may have in practice. Birthdays are a glorification of the idea of life, and it exactly hits the weak point in the Shaw type of optimism (or vitalism, which would be the better word) that it does not instinctively side with such religious celebrations of life. Mr. Shaw is ready to praise the Life-force, but he is not willing to keep his birthday, which would be the best of all ways to praise it. And the reason is that the modern people will do anything whatever for their religion except play the fool for it. They will be martyred, but they will not be chaffed. Mr. Shaw is quite clearly aware that it is a very good thing for him and for everyone else that he is alive. But to be told so in the symbolic form of brown-paper parcels containing slippers or cigarettes makes him feel a fool; which is exactly what he ought to feel. On many high occasions of life it is the only alternative to being one. A birthday does not come merely to remind a man that he has been born. It comes that he may be born again. And if a man is born again he must be as clumsy and comic as a baby.
—November 28 1908, Illustrated London News
H/T to The Hebdomadal Chesterton

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It was certainly in the Victorian Age, and after his passage to Rome, that Newman claimed his complete right to be in any book on modern English literature. This is no place for estimating his theology: but one point about it does clearly emerge. Whatever else is right, the theory that Newman went over to Rome to find peace and an end of argument, is quite unquestionably wrong. He had far more quarrels after he had gone over to Rome. But, though he had far more quarrels, he had far fewer compromises: and he was of that temper which is tortured more by compromise than by quarrel. He was a  man at once of abnormal energy and abnormal sensibility: nobody without that combination could have written the Apologia. If he sometimes seemed to skin his enemies alive, it was because he himself lacked a skin. In this sense his Apologia is a triumph far beyond the ephemeral charge on which it was founded; in this sense he does indeed (to use his own expression) vanquish not his accuser but his judges. Many men would shrink from recording all their cold fits and hesitations and prolonged inconsistencies: I am sure it was the breath of life to Newman to confess them, now that he had done with them for ever. His Lectures on the Present Position of English Catholics, practically preached against a raging mob, rise not only higher but happier, as his instant unpopularity increases. There is something grander than humour, there is fun, in the very first lecture about the British Constitution as explained to a meeting of Russians. But always his triumphs are the triumphs of a highly sensitive man: a man  must feel insults before he can so insultingly and splendidly avenge them. He is a naked man, who carries a naked sword. The quality of his literary style is so successful that it succeeds in escaping definition. The quality of his logic is that of a long but passionate patience, which waits until he has fixed all corners of an iron trap. But the quality of his moral comment on the age remains what I have said: a protest of the rationality of religion as against the increasing irrationality of mere Victorian comfort and compromise. So far as the present purpose is concerned, his protest died with him: he left few imitators and (it may easily be conceived) no successful imitators. The suggestion of him lingers on in the exquisite Elizabethan perversity of Coventry Patmore; and has later flamed out from the shy volcano of Francis Thompson. Otherwise (as we shall see in the parallel case of Ruskin's Socialism) he has no followers in his own age: but very many in ours.
-The Victorian Age in Literature (1913)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chesterton on Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Literature. Causerie of the Week: Dr. Barry's Live of Newman 
The Speaker, September 24, 1904

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Another point very characteristic of the atmosphere to which [G.F.] Watts belonged is the quality of his moral indignation [...] He was really angry with the evils of the modern world. This still anger in Watts is closely connected with his simplicity, with his cheerfulness- nay, even with his optimism. Laughter has little or nothing to do with cheerfulness; some of the most cheerful people were the most unlaughing- Gladstone, for instance, and Watts. But it is, properly speaking, only the cheerful man, the optimist, who can be angry at all. It is the fashion nowadays for minor poets and minor philosophers to parade their enmity to the gods, to declare that their pessimism is a part of the immortal anger of Prometheus, the everlasting fury of protest against the baseness of the stars. But as a matter of fact they are not angry at all, as anyone knows who has heard their tired voices or seen them in a restaurant. The pessimist cannot be angry; for he has made up his mind to evil as the very stuff and colour of existence. It is only the optimist that can be really angry with the Serpent in Eden, for it is only he who is conscious of Eden. He alone can be furious, for he alone can be surprised.
-July 9, 1904, The Speaker

Friday, July 3, 2015

...the special joy of man is limited creation, the combination of creation with limits. Man's pleasure, therefore, is to possess conditions, but also to be partly possessed by them; to be half-controlled by the flute he plays or by the field he digs. The excitement is to get the utmost out of given conditions; the conditions will stretch, but not indefinitely... because he is not God, but only a graven image of God, his self-expression must deal with limits; properly with limits that are strict and even small.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

About patriotism itself I will say one thing only, on behalf of those like myself who are Nationalists at home and abroad. We also have had to breathe in a stifling vulgarity; to see a thousand faces fixed in one fatuous sneer. We also have had all the temptations possible to intellectual rebellion or to intellectual pride. If we have remained steadfast in a monotonous candor, we cannot claim that we were strengthened by ethical subtlety or new-fangled emancipation. We have remained steadfast because voices older than the hills called us to this spot; here in this island was to be our glory or failure. We have eaten its bread and been made wise with all its works. And if we are indeed near the end, and the madness of cosmopolitan materialism […] be indeed dragging our country to destruction, we can only say that at the end we must be with her, to claim our portion in the wrath of God.
–May 18, 1901, The Speaker