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, August 27, 2016

"Of a living thing we have a divine ignorance; and a divine ignorance may be called the definition of romance. "

All this is the origin of the one distinctly human thing- the story. There can be as good science about a turnip as about a man. There can be, properly considered, as good philosophy about a turnip as about a man. There can be, I should strongly, though reverently, suspect, as good theology about a turnip as about a man. There can be, without any question at all, as good higher mathematics about a turnip as about a man. But I do not think, though I speak in a manner somewhat tentative, that there could be as good a novel written about a turnip as about a man. I am not sure; there may be a quiet, silverly school of fiction to which a turnip would lend itself. But I think, on the whole, that even in the most quiet and silvery school there would be needed a certain swell and ebb of events. No; in this matter of the story comes in the real supremacy of man. Of a mechanical thing we have a full knowledge. Of a living thing we have a divine ignorance; and a divine ignorance may be called the definition of romance. The Christian gospel is not a system; a system is fit for turnips. The Christian gospel is literally a story; that is, a thing in which one does not know what is to happen next. This thing, called Fiction, then, is the main fact of our human supremacy. If you want to know what is our human kinship with Nature, with the brutes, and with the stars, you can find cartloads of big philosophical volumes to show it you. You will find our kinship with Nature in books on geology and books on metaphysics. But if you want to find our isolation and divinity, you must pick up a penny novellette.
-March 26, 1904, Daily News [also found in In Defense of Sanity]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"...paganism deals always with a light shining on things, Christianity with a light shining through them."

And I think a broad distinction between the finest pagan and the finest Christian point of view may be found in such an approximate phrase as this, that paganism deals always with a light shining on things, Christianity with a light shining through them. That is why the whole Renaissance colouring is opaque, the whole Pre-Raphaelite colouring transparent. The very sky of Rubens is more solid than the rocks of Giotto: it is like a noble cliff of immemorial blue marble. The artists of the devout age seemed to regret that they could not make the light show through everything, as it shows through the little wood in the wonderful Nativity of Botticelli. And this is why, again, Christianity, which has been attacked so strangely as dull and austere, invented the thing which is more intoxicating than all the wines of the world, stained-glass windows.
-G.F. Watts (1904)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Children live in an almost entirely timeless world (in which they resemble the Deity of Thomas Aquinas), and most of us who can remember our childhood can remember a certain sense of spaciousness in the hours, a sense that might be called a kind of happy emptiness.
-May 5, 1906, Illustrated London News

Saturday, August 20, 2016

"But it was you who said it was a miracle," said Alboin, staring.

"I'm so sorry," said Father Brown; "I'm afraid there's some mistake. I don't think I ever said it was a miracle. All I said was that it might happen. What you said was that it couldn't happen, because it would be a miracle if it did. And then it did. And so you said it was a miracle. But I never said a word about miracles or magic, or anything of the sort from beginning to end."

"But I thought you believed in miracles," broke out the secretary.

"Yes," answered Father Brown, "I believe in miracles. I believe in man-eating tigers, but I don't see them running about everywhere. If I want any miracles, I know where to get them."

"I can't understand your taking this line, Father Brown," said Vandam, earnestly. "It seems so narrow; and you don't look narrow to me, though you are a parson. Don't you see, a miracle like this will knock all materialism endways? It will just tell the whole world in big print that spiritual powers can work and do work. You'll be serving religion as no parson ever served it yet."

The priest had stiffened a little and seemed in some strange way clothed with unconscious and impersonal dignity, for all his stumpy figure. "Well," he said, `you wouldn't suggest I should serve religion by what I know to be a lie? I don't know precisely what you mean by the phrase; and, to be quite candid, I'm not sure you do. Lying may be serving religion; I'm sure it's not serving God. And since you are harping so insistently on what I believe, wouldn't it be as well if you had some sort of notion of what it is?'
The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"But God forbid that men's rights should ever be left to a human discretion."

But God forbid that men's rights should ever be left to a human discretion. We know that human discretion. Its other name is Plutocracy.[...] numberless people will say this: that there is a graduated scale among men as among animals. That black men have not the rights of white men. That ignorant men have not the same rights as wise men. Therefore I lay down my second dogma or axiom. 'Every man owes it to men to keep the rights of men quite distinct and definite. If anyone says the things just said above, let him be suppressed. If there is a church of humanity, let him be anathema. If there is an army of humanity, let him be shot. For he is a traitor to the whole adventure of the house of Adam.
-August 10, 1907, Daily News

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"...merely human law has a great tendency to become merely inhuman law."

The family is itself a wilder thing than the State; if we mean by wildness that it is born of will and choice as elemental and emancipated as the wind. It has its own laws, as the wind has; but properly understood it is infinitely less subservient than things that are under the elaborate and mechanical regulations of legalism. Its obligations are love and loyalty, but these are things quite capable of being in revolt against merely human laws; for merely human law has a great tendency to become merely inhuman law.
-The Coloured Lands (1938)

Monday, August 15, 2016

"...the wealth of the state is not the prosperity of the people"

[Carlyle's] great and real work was the attack on Utilitarianism: which did real good, though  there was much that was muddled and dangerous in the historical philosophy which he preached as an alternative. It is his real glory that he was the first to see clearly and say plainly the great truth of our time; that the wealth of the state is not the prosperity of the people. Macaulay and the Mills and all the regular run of the Early Victorians, took it for granted that if Manchester was getting richer, we had got hold of the key to comfort and progress. Carlyle pointed out (with stronger sagacity and humour than he showed on any other question) that it was just as true to say that Manchester was getting poorer as that it was getting richer: or, in other words, that Manchester was not getting richer at all, but only some of the less pleasing people in Manchester.
-The Victorian Age in Literature (1913)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pope Paul VI and GKC

How G.K. Chesterton Influenced Pope Paul VI
[Chesterton] wrote [St. Francis of Assissi] in 1924. It was reviewed in Italy by a young priest named Giovanni Battisti Montini. He saw something prophetic in Chesterton’s words. Forty years later, this priest would be Pope Paul VI
I am not able to read Italian, but for those who do, I believe this is the review.

Incidentally, GKC mentions in his book The Resurrection of Rome that when he met Pope Pius XI in Rome in 1929 (who on GKC's death named him a "Defender of the Faith") that the Pope said "some very generous things about a sketch I wrote of St. Francis of Assisi."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Their position is perfectly clear and honest; but it is not any more tolerant than mine. For they are only (with a superb effort) tolerating the things they agree with.
-September 24, 1904, Daily News

Friday, August 12, 2016

Of course, politics and journalism are, as it happens, very vulgar. But their vulgarity is not the worst thing about them. Things are so bad with both that by this time their vulgarity is the best thing about them.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

"What on earth is that?" asked Father Brown, and stood still.

"Oh, a new religion," said Flambeau, laughing; "one of those new religions that forgive your sins by saying you never had any. Rather like Christian Science, I should think. The fact is that a fellow calling himself Kalon (I don't know what his name is, except that it can't be that) has taken the flat just above me. I have two lady type-writers underneath me, and this enthusiastic old humbug on top. He calls himself the New Priest of Apollo, and he worships the sun."

"Let him look out," said Father Brown. "The sun was the cruelest of all the gods. But what does that monstrous eye mean?"

"As I understand it, it is a theory of theirs," answered Flambeau, "that a man can endure anything if his mind is quite steady. Their two great symbols are the sun and the open eye; for they say that if a man were really healthy he could stare at the sun."

"If a man were really healthy," said Father Brown, "he would not bother to stare at it."

"Well, that's all I can tell you about the new religion," went on Flambeau carelessly. "It claims, of course, that it can cure all physical diseases."

"Can it cure the one spiritual disease?" asked Father Brown, with a serious curiosity.

"And what is the one spiritual disease?" asked Flambeau, smiling.

"Oh, thinking one is quite well," said his friend.
-The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wisdom doubtless is a better thing than wit; but when we read the rambling polysyllables of our modern books and magazines, I think it is much clearer that we have lost the wit than it is that we have found the wisdom.
-G.K.C. as M.C. (1929)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"the Party System [...] is quite the most cunning instrument for preventing such criticism ever devised by human ingenuity."

....Government (and especially representative Government) now actually exists to protect those very abuses which Government (and especially representative Government) was actually created to prevent [...] Parliaments, petitions, elections, juries, all the things that were ever rightly or wrongly called free institutions, all rest on the idea that we cannot put our trust in princes, because we cannot put it (without some balance of dispute and examination) in any child of man. But the Party System, as it is by this time, is quite the most cunning instrument for preventing such criticism ever devised by human ingenuity. It silences a criticism, it stops all self-purging, it turns back all repentance, and freezes all hopeful anger, far more than the most brutal methods of the oldest tyrannies...Common human annoyance could be counted on to kick common human nuisances. Our method is much subtler. We set up one man and call him Liberty; we set up another man and call him Loyalty. If the first man becomes a tyrant, all who love Liberty must help him to tyrannise. If the second man betrays his country, all who love Loyalty must help him to betray his country. All other systems have left reform doubtful; this is the only system that has nearly succeeded in making it impossible.
-February 1, 1913, Illustrated London News

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"...he who has never seen darkness has never seen the sun."

There is a current prejudice against fogs, and Dickens, perhaps, is their only poet. Considered hygienically, no doubt this may be more or less excusable. But, considered poetically, fog is not undeserving, it has a real significance. We have in our great cities abolished the clean and sane darkness of the country. We have outlawed night and sent her wandering in wild meadows; we have lit eternal watch-fires against her return. We have made a new cosmos, and as a consequence our own sun and stars. And as a consequence also, and most justly, we have made our own darkness. Just as every lamp is a warm human moon, so every fog is a rich human nightfall. If it were not for this mystic accident we should never see darkness, and he who has never seen darkness has never seen the sun. Fog for us is the chief form of that outward pressure which compresses mere luxury into real comfort. It makes the world small, in the same spirit as in that common and happy cry that the world is small, meaning that it is full of friends. The first man that emerges out of the mist with a light, is for us Prometheus, a saviour bringing fire to men. He is that greatest and best of all men, greater than the heroes, better than the saints, Man Friday. Every rumble of a cart, every cry in the distance, marks the heart of humanity beating undaunted in the darkness. It is wholly human; man toiling in his own cloud. If real darkness is like the embrace of God, this is the dark embrace of man.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Loyalty is the heart of a commonwealth; but Liberty is its lungs. You find out the necessity of Liberty as you find out the necessity of air- by not having enough of it, and gasping.
-March 18, 1911, Daily News

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Curé de Ars.

M. Vianney appeared in history at the supreme moment of the French Revolution, when it was proclaiming both tremendous truths and tremendous falsehoods as with the trumpets of the Apocalypse. And in the midst of all those thunders the Curé de Ars stood calmly talking about something totally different. He was talking exactly as he would have talked if he had been a Celtic hermit of the Dark Ages talking to a savage tribe of Picts. At the very moment when the human world seemed to have been enlarged beyond all limits for all to see, he declared it to be quite small as compared with things that hardly anybody could see. At the moment when thousands thought they were reading a radiant and self-evident philosophy, proved quite clearly in black and white, he calmly called its black white and its white black [...] in the atmosphere of his own age, he was like a man dug up out of some other aeon or flung from some other planet. And indeed the quarrel of the world about such a man must always be, in a deeper sense, on whether he has risen from the Stone Age or fallen from the stars. [...]

[...] The critics of the Church are notably unlucky in hitting on the charge that she belongs to a feudal world or particular periods of the past. They are driven to call so many modern things medieval, that it is at last apparent that she is no more medieval than she is modern. It was in the dull daylight of the manufacturing and materialistc nineteenth century that the unearthly light shone from the cavern of Lourdes. And it was in the full sunrise of the secular age of reason introduced by the eighteenth century that a nimbus not of that age or of this world could be seen round the head of the Curé de Ars.
-G.KC. as M.C. (1929)