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)

Friday, November 27, 2015

"That marks the tremendous realism of our religion: its heroes had not heroic faults."

Cobbett was a particular human type; the very last to be fairly understood in those quiet times of which the virtue is sociability and the vice is snobbery. He was the imperfect martyr. The modern and popular way of putting it is to say that a man can really be a martyr without being by any means a saint. The more subtle truth is that he can even be a saint and still have that sort of imperfection. The first of Christian saints was in that sense a very imperfect martyr. He eventually suffered martyrdom for a Master whom he had cursed and denied. That marks the tremendous realism of our religion: its heroes had not heroic faults. They had not those Byronic vices that can pose almost as virtues. When they said they were miserable sinners, it was because they really dared to confess the miserable sins. Tradition says that the saint in question actually asked to be crucified upside-down, as if making himself a mere parody of a martyr. And there is something of the same sacred topsy-turvydom in the strange fancy by which he is haunted in all hagiological art and legend by the symbol of his failure. The crowing of a cock, which has become a phrase for insolence, has in this case actually become an emblem of meekness. Rome has lifted up the cock of Peter higher than the eagle of Caesar, not to preach pride to kings but to preach humility to pontiffs. The cock is crowing for ever that the saint may never crow.
-William Cobbett (1925)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

[Sir Arthur Keith] seemed to be setting out to show that man is entirely explained by his animal ancestry; and he then proceeded to say that the animal formation (including the brain formation) of an ape is exactly the same as that of a man. Whether this is true or not I have no sort of authority to discuss, and Sir Arthur Keith has a great deal. But if it is true, his own inference from it must be false. If he was arguing that Homo Sapiens must be an entirely natural or evolutionary product, he was arguing against himself. If he was trying to prove that man has a merely material origin like the ape, he was proving exactly the opposite. If there are two motor-cars, which a minute examination proves to be exactly alike in every mechanical detail, then we shall be rather more and not less surprised if one of them suddenly soars into the air like an aeroplane, while the other can only trundle along the road like a cart. The only way in which we can possibly explain it is to suppose that, at some time and in some way, some other more mysterious force came into play. But the more we prove that every cog and rivet in the two machines is identical, the more we are driven to the mystical explanation when their action is different. And the difference between a man and an ape does not need discussion; it does not allow of denial or even doubt. Man has stepped into a totally different world of imagination and invention; like a man turning into a god. If this startling and stupendous difference can co-exist with exactly the same material origins, the only possible deduction is that it does not come from the material origins. In other words, the only possible deduction is that by some special spiritual act, as in the ancient record, man became a living soul. So far as Sir Arthur Keith's argument can be said to prove anything, it proves the theological conception he was apparently trying to disprove. That is a perfectly simple and self-evident fact; and yet nobody seems to have seen it, either among his friends or foes.

-Illustrated London News, October 15, 1927

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes."

The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or with a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet. If he has ever seen a fine sunset, the crimson colour of it should creep into his vote. If he has ever heard splendid songs, they should be in his ears when he makes the mystical cross. But as it is, the difficulty with English democracy at all elections is that it is something less than itself. The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes.
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)
Then I was responsible for the little-known institution which is called 'The New Chivalry'. I never could be very certain in my own mind whether the practice of the New Chivalry came before or after the theory of it; but the theory of it was this: It rested on the conception that a man is so overwhelmed and confounded by the superiority of woman in her works and graces that he is, so it were, paralyzed and glued to his seat, as wholly unable to offer her his clumsy assistance as he is unworthy to offer it. 'Who am I', he seems to say, 'that I should presume to open the door for one whose way of opening doors shows her to be a mistress of that subtle art? Shall I, in mere coarse patronage and condescension, pick up her pocket handkerchief, and thus rob the world of that sublime spectacle, that sweeping and seraphic gesture with which she picks it up?' This dream, however, also belongs to the past. Many ladies have told me that they prefer the crude obtrusiveness of the old chivalry; and one lady was even so cutting as to remark that she did not think the new chivalry was so very new. In the matter of courtesy I have come back to the most conventional views; and in theory I am quite well-bred. I think a man ought to take off his hat to a lady; he thinks he ought to take off his head to her. And I think he ought to pick up anything that she has dropped- unless, perhaps, it is an 'h'.
-August 4, 1906, Daily News

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

One can tell the divine origin of common sense by this simple test; that it is always crucified.
-March 16, 1907, Daily News

Monday, November 23, 2015

This is the greatest of our modern descents, that nowadays a man does not become more rhetorical as he becomes more sincere. An eighteenth-century speaker, when he got really and honestly furious, looked for big words with which to crush his adversary. The new speaker looks for small words to crush him with. He looks for little facts and little sneers.
-Tremendous Trifles (1909)
Historians seem to have completely forgotten the two facts: first, that men act from ideas; and second, that it might, therefore, be as well to discover which ideas.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Most of us, I suppose, discover the badness of a cause chiefly be hearing the arguments in favour of it."

Most of us, I suppose, discover the badness of a cause chiefly by hearing the arguments in favour of it. That, at least, is the quickest and most convenient way. About the actual facts at issue we are most of us, as a rule, very inadequately informed, and sometimes placed beyond any possibility of personal verification. But if we wait a little and hear, not only the thing that is to be done, but why it is to be done, we find ourselves among phenomena which are always familiar and frequently notorious [...] We may suspend judgment, perhaps, when a big man knocks down a little man and offers no explanation. But we know what to think if he does offer an explanation which behind many polysyllables amounts to the mere statement that he is bigger. We are seldom convinced by the facts; for we seldom are closely acquainted with the facts. We are converted by the arguments- on the other side.
-April 28, 1906, Daily News

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Patiotism begins at home."

The city ought to be the most sacred word in politics. We imply this in the very fact that when we want a word to express a patriot who is not always thinking exclusively of other countries, a patriot who is sometimes thinking of his own country, we call him a citizen. When we want a universal word we go back to the old small area. Any man can be a citizen of the world; the most cowardly and profligate adventurers can be that. Any man can be a citizen of an Empire [...] Any man can, even in the modern atmosphere, be without much discomfort the citizen of a nation; even I am that. But our old civilization offers us the sterner and severer test. Can I be the citizen of the healthy, separate, self-governing city, without getting my head knocked off? There are times when I doubt it. In any case, all energy ought to come from the municipality. Political passion ought to begin in municipal politics and so boil up to Imperial politics. Patriotism begins at home.
-November 10, 1906, Daily News
[Coincidentally, just a couple hours after reading that passage, I discovered that Dion DiMucci (a fellow Chestertonian who has referred to GKC as one of his heroes) just released the other day a song that is itself a reflection of local patriotism, a duet with Paul Simon called "New York is My Home", about which he said
"When I wrote 'New York Is My Home,' I thought this is a way to have New Yorkers fall in love with their city all over again."]

Friday, November 13, 2015

...the poor [...] have the vast, beautiful, and incontestable superiority to the rich, that they do not think that their fellow creatures spoil the face of their mother earth.
-August 8, 1903, Daily News

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"...there is one thing that the world does; it wobbles."

The world is what the saints and the prophets saw it was; it is not merely getting better or merely getting worse; there is one thing that the world does; it wobbles. Left to itself, it does not get anywhere; though if helped by real reformers of the right religion and philosophy, it may get better in many respects, and sometimes for considerable periods. But in itself it is not a progress; it is not even a process; it is the fashion of this world that passeth away. Life in itself is not a ladder; it is a see-saw.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A hundred tales of human history are there to show that tendencies can be turned back, and that one stumbling-block can be the turning-point. The sands of time are simply dotted with single stakes that have thus marked the turn of the tide. The first step towards ultimately winning is to make sure that the enemy does not win, if it be only that he does not win everywhere. Then, when we have halted his rush, and perhaps fought it to a standstill, we may begin a general counter-attack.
-The Outline of Sanity (1926)

"...what has really vanished from the world is not the ancient credulity; it is something that is more ancient than any credulity; it is the ancient agnosticism."

There never was a power so great as the power of the Press. There never was a belief so superstitious as the universal belief in the Press. It may be that future centuries will call these the Dark Ages, and see a vast mystical delusion spreading its black bats' wings over all our cities.

It is generally said that simple people, rustics, children, poor men, savages are very credulous. It is generally said that men in high and intense centers of civilization, like London and Paris, are sceptical and enquiring. I do not believe it. I believe there is far less credulity, far less blank, bald, half-witted gullibility and readiness to believe, in a Sussex village than there is in a third-class carriage on the Underground. I doubt whether people even swallowed giants and spectres as they swallow the views and fancies of modern journalism. For remember that there are at least two essential particulars about ancient popular credulity which made it far less seriously a danger. First, in all cases it was a thing of slower growth. People did not rush for the morning papers to tell them whether there was anything new in the way of headless cavaliers. People did not talk about one banshee on Monday and another and even more remarkable banshee on Tuesday. Special editions did not come out at seven o'clock to tell people that Titania was the Queen of the Fairies. Their superstitions were slower, and, therefore, their superstitions were fewer. Our superstitions are quicker, and, therefore, our superstitions are more numerous. Secondly, in a  large number of cases, at any rate, the tales which were believed, or half-believed, by simpler types of civilization were tales about things that did not very much matter. They believed, for instance, or half-believed, that there were in Southern Africa a race of men with dogs' heads. But they never exhibited so wild a simplicity as to believe that there were in Southern Africa a race of Englishmen treated as helots, and to rush across the sea to their rescue. It may or may not be a pleasant experience to have a dog's head; but, at least , no crusade was organized in England to deprive the dog-headed men of those burdens or adornments. They were not so credulous as all that. The men of the twentieth century wholly believed a wild tale about a country full of top hats and telegraphs like their own.

The truth is that what has really vanished from the world is not the ancient credulity; it is something that is more ancient than any credulity; it is the ancient agnosticism. The profound, healthy, living, real scepticism of sensible men in tribes and villages, the righteous and natural resistance offered by the mind to unsupported or unfamiliar things, this has never been so dead, as it is among the clerks on the underground railway.
-May 28, 1904, Daily News

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dr. Who and G.K. Chesterton

I know nothing about "Dr. Who", and so cannot comment on the reliability of the information, but as I have some friends who are fans of it, I found this interesting:
Anthony Coburn wrote the first ever Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. His subsequent relationship with the show was a tad tempestuous but his influence was significant. It was Coburn who insisted on the TARDIS being a police box (and possibly even invented the acronym), and it was Coburn who made Susan the Doctor’s granddaughter. Coburn was also a committed Roman Catholic. He was even a street preacher. His faith shaped the naming of certain characters (Ian Chesterton after the famous Catholic author, G.K. Chesterton)

H/T/  G.K. and Frances Chesterton Facebook page
...every face in the street has the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy tale.
-Heretics (1905)
The supposition that a man has to know what he is talking about in the scholarly sense seems to me quite ridiculous. It is like saying that a man ought to be a meteorologist before he is allowed to say to his friends that it is a fine day. Whether he understands meteorology or not the day is fine to him; whether I understand political science or not 'The Times' leading articles are palpably ridiculous to me. About the really important things men have always claimed a common and general right to judge.
-October 17, 1903, Daily News

Monday, November 2, 2015

Self-government arose among men (probably among the primitive men, certainly among the ancients) out of an idea which seems now too simple to be understood. The notion of self-government was not (as many modern friends and foes of it seem to think) the notion that the ordinary citizen is to be consulted as one consults an Encyclopaedia. He is not there to be asked a lot of fancy questions, to see how he answers them. He and his fellows are to be, within reasonable human limits, masters of their own lives. They shall decide whether they shall be men of the oar or the wheel, of the spade or the spear. The men of the valley shall settle whether the valley shall be devastated for coal or covered with corn and vines; the men of the town shall decide whether it shall be hoary with thatches or splendid with spires [....] But in modern England neither the men nor the women have any influence at all. In this primary matter, the moulding of the landscape, the creation of a mode of life, the people are utterly impotent. They stand and stare at imperial and economic processes going on, as they might stare at the Lord Mayor's Show.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)