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)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

...geniality is almost definable as strength to spare.
-Heretics (1905)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It is much to be desired that those entirely excellent fellows who have a talent for scepticism should transfer some of their energies of inquiry from the dogmas of the other world to the dogmas of this world [...] It may be that I have a weak sympathy with those who have not seen and yet have believed. But I have no sympathy at all with those who have seen and yet have believed the opposite.
-March 10,1906, Daily News

Monday, January 25, 2016

"I am not prepared to admit that there is or can be, properly speaking, in the world anything that is too sacred to be known."

I am not prepared to admit that there is or can be, properly speaking, in the world anything that is too sacred to be known. That spiritual beauty and spiritual truth are in their nature communicable, and that they should be communicated, is a principle which lies at the root of every conceivable religion. Christ was crucified upon a hill, and not in a cavern, and the word Gospel itself involves the same idea as the ordinary name of a daily paper. Whenever, therefore, a poet or any similar type of man can, or conceives that he can, make all men partakers in some splendid secret of his own heart, I can imagine nothing saner and nothing manlier than his course in doing so. Thus it was that Dante made a new heaven and a new hell out of a girl's nod in the streets of Florence. Thus it was that Paul founded a civilisation by keeping an ethical diary. But the one essential which exists in all such cases as these is that the man in question believes that he can make the story as stately to the whole world as it is to him, and he chooses his words to that end. Yet when a work contains expressions which have one value and significance when read by the people to whom they were addressed, and an entirely different value and significance when read by any one else, then the element of the violation of sanctity does arise. It is not because there is anything in this world too sacred to tell. It is rather because there are a great many things in this world too sacred to parody.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The source for two quotations commonly attributed to GKC. :-)


"If men do not understand signs, they will never understand words."

...all men talk by signs. To talk by statues is to talk by signs; to talk by cities is to talk by signs. Pillars, palaces, cathedrals, temples, pyramids, are an enormous dumb alphabet: as if some giant held up his fingers of stone. The most important things at the last are always said by signs, even if, like the Cross on St. Paul's, they are signs in heaven. If men do not understand signs, they will never understand words.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

"If you will not have rules, you will have rulers."

There has been, and apparently will be, a definite increase of personal government in England. And it is wholesome to say first of all that it is mostly our own fault. We tend to have personal government because we have lost faith in impersonal government; that is, government by laws, by creeds, or by ideals. There are only two ways of governing human beings: the first is called dogmatism and the second despotism. But despotism is easier. For if men are ruled by a king they can forget him; if they are ruled by a creed they have to remember it.

Here is where I differ from Mr. Carpenter and all the interesting people who want to have no rules: I think they would only succeed in advancing the most bumptious man in the town. Exactly in proportion as these principles of impersonal government fade the chances of personal government increase. When the people does not know what it wants the despot gets what he wants. If you will not have rules, you will have rulers.

This growth of arbitrary government in our country is a very real thing...Judicial equity has become more and more a question of the judge and less and less a question of the statute. The very phrase 'judge-made law' either means nothing or it means personal despotism. If anyone said 'King-made law' we should start.
-October 12, 1907, Daily News

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

We need to ask ourselves why today so many people, men and women, young and old, of every social class, go to to psychics and fortune-tellers. Cardinal Giacomo Biffi used to quote these words by the English writer G.K. Chesterton: "When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything."
-The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis
The modern miser has changed much from the miser of legend and anecdote; but only because he has grown yet more insane. The old miser had some touch of the human artist about him in so far that he collected gold—a substance that can really be admired for itself, like ivory or old oak. An old man who picked up yellow pieces had something of the simple ardour, something of the mystical materialism, of a child who picks out yellow flowers. Gold is but one kind of coloured clay, but coloured clay can be very beautiful. The modern idolater of riches is content with far less genuine things. The glitter of guineas is like the glitter of buttercups, the chink of pelf is like the chime of bells, compared with the dreary papers and dead calculations which make the hobby of the modern miser.

The modern millionaire loves nothing so lovable as a coin. He is content sometimes with the dead crackle of notes; but far more often with the mere repetition of noughts in a ledger, all as like each other as eggs to eggs. [...]The round coins in the miser's stocking were safe in some sense. The round noughts in the millionaire's ledger are safe in no sense; the same fluctuation which excites him with their increase depresses him with their diminution. The miser at least collects coins; his hobby is numismatics. The man who collects noughts collects nothings.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Some time ago, when a stir was made by a rather striking book called Who Moved the Stone? which might almost be described, with all reverence, as a divine detective story and almost a theological thriller, a pugnacious little paper in Fleet Street made a remark which has always hovered in my memory as more mysterious than any mystery story in the world. The writer said that any man who believes in the Resurrection is bound to believe also in the story of Aladdin in the Arabian Nights. I have no idea what he meant. Nor, I imagine, had he. But this curious conjunction of ideas recurs to my mind in connexion with a rather interesting suggestion made by Mr. Christopher Dawson about what we may call the History of Science. On the face of it, the remark I have quoted from the pugnacious paper seems to have no quality whatever except pugnacity. There is no sort of logical connexion between believing in one marvellous event and believing in another, even if they were exactly alike and not utterly different. If I believe that Captain Peary reached the North Pole, I am not therefore bound to believe that Dr. Cook also reached the North Pole, even if they both arrived with sledges and dogs out of the same snows. It is a fallacy, therefore, even where the two things are close enough to be compared. But the comparison between the Gospel miracle and the Arabian fairy-tale is about the most unfortunate comparison in the world. For in the one case there is a plain and particular reason for thinking the thing true, or at least meant to be true. And in the other case there is a plain and particular reason for realizing that the tale is not only untrue, but is not even meant to be true.

The historical case for the Resurrection is that everybody else, except the Apostles, had every possible motive to declare what they had done with the body, if anything had been done with it. The Apostles might have hidden it in order to announce a sham miracle, but it is very difficult to imagine men being tortured and killed for the truth of a miracle which they knew to be a sham. In the case of the Apostles’ testimony, the general circumstances suggest that it is true. In the case of the Arabian tale, the general circumstances avow and proclaim that it is false. For we are told in the book itself that all the stories were told by a woman merely to amuse the king and distract his attention from the idea of cutting off her head. A romancer in this personal situation is not very likely to confine herself strictly to humdrum accuracy, and it would be impossible more plainly to warn the reader that all the tales are taradiddles. In the one case, then, we have witnesses who not only think the thing true, but do veritably think it is as true as death, or truer than death. They therefore prefer death to the denial of its truth. In the other case we have a story-teller who, in trying to avoid death, has every motive to tell lies. If St. John the Baptist had wished to avoid being beheaded, and had saved his life by inventing a long string of Messianic or Early Christian legends on the spur of the moment, in order to hold the attention of King Herod, I should not regard any “resurrection myth” he might tell as a strong historical argument for the Resurrection. But, as the Apostles were killed as St. John was killed, I think their evidence cannot be identified by sound scholarship as a portion of the Arabian Nights.
-As I Was Saying (1936)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

We should desire to see the profane things transfigured by the sacred, rather than the sacred disenchanted by the profane.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)
[H/T to the American Chesterton Society]

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now, of course, it is very easy to say that all this is only the ignorance of the people which we have to enlighten. It is quite easy and quite reasonable, but also quite oligarchical. A democrat is bound to feel that the mass of a community is almost certain to hold some kind of secret of sanity. He is bound to feel that whether or no the voice of the people is the voice of God, at least it is the voice of Man. And we shall be ignoring this democratic drift in things quite as much if we become mere common sociologists as if we became mere common kings. The aristocracy which holds itself strong enough to raise the people is quite as aristocratic as the aristocracy that holds itself strong enough to crush the people. A free man ought neither to raise the people nor crush the people; he ought to be the people. And we ought not to be always asking ourselves, as we are in this educational controversy, 'What laws shall we make for the people?' We ought sometimes to ask 'What laws will the people make for us?' In the same way, the middle-class educationalist ought not to be always saying, 'In what subjects shall I educated the poor?' Sometimes in still spells of night under the stars the middle-class educationalist should ask the awful question, 'In what subjects can the poor educate me?'
-June 3, 1905, Daily News

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"I'm beginning quite to like water," said the taller of the two knights. "I used to think it a most dangerous drink. In theory, of course, it ought only to be given to people who are fainting. It's really good for them, much better than brandy. Besides, think of wasting good brandy on people who are fainting! But I don't go so far as I did; I shouldn't insist on a doctor's prescription before I allow people water. That was the too severe morality of youth; that was my innocence and goodness. I thought that if I fell once, water-drinking might become a habit. But I do see the good side of water now. How good it is when you're really thirsty, how it glitters and gurgles! How alive it is! After all, it's the best of drinks, after the other.
-The Flying Inn (1914)

Monday, January 4, 2016

"The Woman Who Was Chesterton" review [link]

Here is a nice review by Stuart Dunn of the book "The Woman Who Was Chesterton" (a biography of GKC's wife Frances Chesterton), written by Nancy Carpentier Brown. I have not had the opportunity to read the book yet, but I have been wishing to once I get the opportunity, in order to learn more about a remarkable woman.. This review certainly makes me wish to do so even more. For instance, one interesting part of the review alerts me to a fact that I had not known before:
What was fascinating to me is that [Frances Chesterton] was the governess of Rudyard Kipling's children!
The review also mentions the book containing previously unpublished letters between GKC and Frances.

Now just to get the book at some point so that I can read it...