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)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I think "Macbeth" the one supreme drama because it is the one Christian drama; and I will accept the accusation of prejudice. But I mean by Christian (in this matter) the strong sense of spiritual liberty and of sin; the idea that the best man can be as bad as he chooses. You may call Othello a victim of chance. You may call Hamlet a victim of temperament. You cannot call Macbeth anything but a victim of Macbeth. The evil spirits tempt him, but they never force him; they never even frighten him. for he is a very brave man. I have often wondered that no one has made so obvious a parallel as that between the murders of Macbeth and the marriages of Henry VIII. Both Henry and Macbeth were originally brave, good-humoured men, better rather than worse than their neighbours. Both Henry and Macbeth hesitated over their first crime- the first stabbing and the first divorce. Both found out the fate which is in evil- for Macbeth went on murdering and poor Henry went on marrying. There is only one fault in the parallel. Unfortunately for history, Henry VIII was not deposed.
--March 16, 1912, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I could give many instances of this notion of curing the evil by carrying it a little further. Thus modern people are trying to heal the division of families by more division of families- by the final division called divorce. Thus modern people are trying to remedy the monstrous concentration of wealth by more concentration of wealth- by the central and final concentration of it which is called Collectivism. The Modern Spirit (to which, apparently, God and Man must bow), has decided to unite the property and divide the families. I, in my simplicity, should have supposed it better to unite the families and divide the property. but the Modern Spirit (to which, etc.), is on the other side; since it is mostly run by American millionaires, who are already separated from their own wives and united to other people's property.
-February 17, 1912, Daily News

Monday, January 29, 2018

First people argued with other people and made newspapers to print their arguments; then they hid behind their own newspapers and read only their own arguments. The result has been that true controversy has become almost impossible, because the judge who hears the counsel for the prosecution is not the same as he who hears the counsel for the defence.
-February 12, 1910, Illustrated London News

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A little boy was sitting on my knee the other day while I was reading a new book of philosophy. He could just read capital letters, and he read across the top of a chapter "What is truth?" And the moment he saw this grey and ironical riddle of old Pontius Pilate, he called out in a sudden shrill and exultant voice, "Oh, that is an easy question. I know what truth is. It's saying things right." And so indeed it is; that is the best answer to the question, except the colossal silence of Christ. But the point is here, that the whole strength of the child lay not in the fact that he solved the difficulty, but that he did not admit that there was any difficulty. That is really to be close to God.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"They are afraid of making fools of themselves, and are unaware that that transformation has already been triumphantly effected."

Scott's bombast, therefore, will always be stirring to anyone who approaches it, as he should approach all literature, as a little child. We could easily excuse the contemporary critic for not admiring melodramas and adventure stories, and Punch and Judy, if he would admit that it was a slight deficiency in his artistic sensibilities. Beyond all question, it marks a lack of literary instinct to be unable to simplify one's mind at the first signal of the advance of romance. "You do me wrong," said Brian de Bois-Guilbert to Rebecca. "Many a law, many a commandment have I broken, but my word, never." "Die," cries Balfour of Burley to the villain in "Old Mortality." "Die, hoping nothing, believing nothing--" "And fearing nothing," replies the other. This is the old and honourable fine art of bragging, as it was practised by the great worthies of antiquity. The man who cannot appreciate it goes along with the man who cannot appreciate beef or claret or a game with children or a brass band. They are afraid of making fools of themselves, and are unaware that that transformation has already been triumphantly effected.
-Twelve Types (1902)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Nothing is important except the fate of the soul; and literature is only redeemed from an utter triviality, surpassing that of naughts and crosses, by the fact that it describes not the world around us or the things on the retina of the eye or the enormous irrelevancy of encyclopædias, but some condition to which the human spirit can come. All good writers express the state of their souls, even (as occurs in some cases of very good writers) if it is a state of damnation.
Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens (1911)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Youth is almost everything else, but it is hardly ever original. We read of young men bursting on the old world with a new message. But youth in actual experience is the period of imitation and even of obedience. Subjectively its emotions may be furious and headlong; but its only external outcome is a furious imitation and a headlong obedience. As we grow older we learn the special thing we have to do. As a man goes on towards the grave he discovers gradually a philosophy he can really call fresh, a style he can really call his own, and as he becomes an older man he becomes a new writer. Ibsen, in his youth, wrote almost classic plays about vikings; it was in his old age that he began to break windows and throw fireworks. The only fault, it was said, of Browning's first poems was that they had "too much beauty of imagery, and too little wealth of thought." The only fault, that is, of Browning's first poems, was that they were not Browning's.
-Charles Dickens (1906)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

[...] a man who connects strength with scorn is obviously connecting it with irritation; that is, he is connecting strength with weakness. Pity is obviously the overflowing of strength, when there is strength.
-December 29, 1906, Daily News

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The curse that withers the world, in our particular period and state of culture, is that ordinary people do not give what they used to give or create what they once created. They do nothing but receive; at the best they are critics, and at the worst very uncritical. The Wireless and the Cinema, the newspaper and the newsreel, a score of such enormous modern machines of publicity, pour down their throats, or into their ears and minds, a flood of suggestion in which they have no co-operation, which they do not criticise, and to which they cannot reply. The old output of popular opinion, which came from the talk in the tavern, and began even with the tales in the nursery, has been reversed and silenced; and Governments are ready to give anything and everything, if they can only be reassured with soothing certainly that the people will give nothing.
-September 8, 1934, Illustrated London News

Monday, January 22, 2018

It is now generally agreed, with great cheerfulness and good temper, that one of the chief features of the state of Peace we now enjoy is the killing of a considerable number of harmless human beings [...] and there is nothing wrong with killing when it is not military.
-The Well and the Shallows (1935)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Before remarking on the Rev. Mr. Roberts's article called "Jesus or Christ? it is only fair for me to say that the title affects me personally as would some such title as "Napoleon or Bonaparte"? I can comprehend a nuance of difference between the terms; that one would use the surname in one connection, the imperial name in another. But I could not comprehend a person trying to prove that Napoleon was clever while Bonaparte was stupid, or that Bonaparte was a coward while Napoleon was very brave. If there were no life of General Bonaparte there would (to my narrow and unphilosophic mind) be no legend of Napoleon; his public life may have been more glorious than his private, but it is essential to my sentimental interest that they should both have happened to the same man. In the same way the achievements of Christ as the founder of a Church and the chief deity of a civilisation may be more gigantic and inspiring than His activities in Galilee or Jerusalem. But if the two persons are not one person I lose my existing interest in both of them; one of them is an obscure Rabbi like Hillel, and the other is a myth like Apollo.

But I must make one preliminary explanation, in case I have not understood Mr. Roberts's main design. If Mr. Roberts merely means this: that the Jesus of the Gospels is not enough for all human purposes; that we need more codification and science in our morals than so poetic a vision can give to us,---I agree with him at once. I do not know what deduction he draws; the deduction I draw is that Jesus left on earth not only four lives of Himself, but also a Church and a Catholic tradition. If Jesus means the Gospels and Christ means the Church, and if Mr. Roberts chooses to put it in the form that we need Christ in addition to Jesus, I have no quarrel with him there. But if he means (as I think he certainly does mean) that the Jesus in the Gospel is definitely unreliable and undivine, that He can be convicted of error, that He has been outgrown, then I have a very large and hearty quarrel with Mr. Roberts and it is simply a quarrel about the facts.
-Hibbert Journal (April 1910)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

We look at the rise of Christianity, and conceive it as a rise of self-abnegation and almost of pessimism. It does not occur to us that the mere assertion that this raging and confounding universe is governed by justice and mercy is a piece of staggering optimism fit to set all men capering. The detail over which these monks went mad with joy was the universe itself; the only thing really worthy of enjoyment. The white daylight shone over all the world, the endless forests stood up in their order. The lightning awoke and the tree fell and the sea gathered into mountains and the ship went down, and all these disconnected and meaningless and terrible objects were all part of one dark and fearful conspiracy of goodness, one merciless scheme of mercy. That this scheme of Nature was not accurate or well founded is perfectly tenable, but surely it is not tenable that it was not optimistic. We insist, however, upon treating this matter tail foremost. We insist that the ascetics were pessimists because they gave up threescore years and ten for an eternity of happiness. We forget that the bare proposition of an eternity of happiness is by its very nature ten thousand times more optimistic than ten thousand pagan saturnalias.
-Twelve Types (1902)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Vandalism is of two kinds, the negative and the positive; as in the Vandals of the ancient world, who destroyed buildings, and the Vandals of the modern world who erect them.
-The Common Man (1950)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

But there is a deeper and more disquieting reason why I, for one, will not join in these periodical ramps of righteous indignation [...] To put the matter quite curtly, I will not abuse my neighbours till I can trust my informants. I am quite sure that, as far as the masses are concerned, the indignation is a real indignation; and I have no doubt that in many cases the wrong is a real wrong. But I am not sure by any means that the agitation is always begun with a good motive or directed towards a good end. Unless I know this I may be assisting to build up, behind a screen of petitions, some tyranny or robbery much worse than that against which my signature is being used.
-December 2, 1911, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

[...] it has been found again and again in history that locality is almost another name for liberty.
-G.K.C as M.C. (1929)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

For a creed is the sword of the spirit; the only tool with which the mind can fight.
-June 26, 1909, Daily News

Monday, January 15, 2018

"I am staring," said MacIan at last, "at that which shall judge us both."

"Oh, yes," said Turnbull in a tired way, "I suppose you mean God."

"No, I don't," said MacIan, shaking his head. "I mean him."

And he pointed to the half-tipsy yokel who was ploughing down the road.

"What do you mean?" asked the atheist.

"I mean him," repeated MacIan with emphasis. "He goes out in the early dawn; he digs or he ploughs a field. Then he comes back and drinks ale, and then he sings a song. All your philosophies and political systems are young compared to him. All your hoary cathedrals, yes, even the Eternal Church on earth is new compared to him. The most mouldering gods in the British Museum are new facts beside him. It is he who in the end shall judge us all."

And MacIan rose to his feet with a vague excitement.

"What are you going to do?"

"I am going to ask him," cried MacIan, "which of us is right."

Turnbull broke into a kind of laugh. "Ask that intoxicated turnip-eater——" he began.

"Yes—which of us is right," cried MacIan violently. "Oh, you have long words and I have long words; and I talk of every man being the image of God; and you talk of every man being a citizen and enlightened enough to govern. But if every man typifies God, there is God. If every man is an enlightened citizen, there is your enlightened citizen. The first man one meets is always man. Let us catch him up."
-The Ball and the Cross (1909)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Sentimentalist, roughly speaking, is the man who wants to eat his cake and have it.  He has no sense of honour about ideas; he will not see that one must pay for an idea as for anything else. He will not see that any worthy idea, like any honest woman, can only be won on its own terms, and with its logical chain of loyalty. One idea attracts him; another idea really inspires him; a third idea flatters him; a fourth idea pays him. He will have them all at once in one wild intellectual harem, no matter how much they quarrel and contradict each other. The Sentimentalist is a philosophic profligate, who tries to capture every mental beauty without reference to its rival beauties; who will not even be off with the old love before he is on with the new. Thus if a man were to say, “I love this woman, but I may some day find my affinity in some other woman,” he would be a Sentimentalist. He would be saying, “I will eat my wedding-cake and keep it.” Or if a man should say, “I am a Republican, believing in the equality of citizens; but when the Government has given me my peerage I can do infinite good as a kind landlord and a wise legislator”; then that man would be a Sentimentalist. He would be trying to keep at the same time the classic austerity of equality and also the vulgar excitement of an aristocrat. Or if a man should say, “I am in favour of religious equality; but I must preserve the Protestant Succession,” he would be a Sentimentalist of a grosser and more improbable kind.

This is the essence of the Sentimentalist: that he seeks to enjoy every idea without its sequence, and every pleasure without its consequence.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The religion of the Servile State must have no dogmas or definitions. It cannot afford to have any definitions. For definitions are very dreadful things: they do the two things that most men, especially comfortable men, cannot endure. They fight; and they fight fair.

Every religion, apart from open devil worship, must appeal to a virtue or the pretence of a virtue. But a virtue, generally speaking, does some good to everybody. It is therefore necessary to distinguish among the people it was meant to benefit those whom it does benefit. Modern broad-mindedness benefits the rich; and benefits nobody else. It was meant to benefit the rich; and meant to benefit nobody else.
-Utopia of Usurers (1917)

Friday, January 12, 2018

There is nothing, to me at least, in the least repulsive about material muck and mire. Nature is dirty; because Nature is dirt. When we were children we made mud pies; if we are artists in pottery we cook mud pies; if we were cherubs we might eat mud pies, for all I know. Indeed, now i come to think of it, we are mud pies ourselves, which perhaps explains it.
-February 11, 1911, Daily News

Thursday, January 11, 2018

GKC and Thomas Hardy

The first great Victorian I ever met, I met very early, though only for a brief interview: Thomas Hardy. I was then a quite obscure and shabby young writer  awaiting an interview with a publisher [..] and for about five minutes, in a publisher’s office, I actually argued with Thomas Hardy. I argued that nonexistence is not an experience; and there can be no question of preferring it or being satisfied with it. Honestly, if I had been quite simply a crude young man, and nothing else, I should have thought his whole argument very superficial and even silly. But I did not think him either superficial or silly.

For this was the rather tremendous truth about Hardy; that he had humility. My friends who knew him better have confirmed my early impression; Jack Squire told me that Hardy in his last days of glory as a Grand Old Man would send poems to the Mercury and offer to alter or withdraw them if they were not suitable. He defied the gods and dared the lightning and all the rest of it; but the great Greeks would have seen that there was no thunderbolt for him, because he had not [...] insolence. For what heaven hates is not impiety but the pride of impiety. Hardy was blasphemous but he was not proud; and it is pride that is a sin and not blasphemy [...] The whole case for him is that he had the sincerity and simplicity of the village atheist; that is, that he valued atheism as a truth and not a triumph. He was the victim of that decay of our agricultural culture, which gave men bad religion and no philosophy. But he was right in saying, as he said essentially to me all those years ago, that he could enjoy things, including better philosophy or religion.
-Autobiography (1936)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

"[...] the denial of identity is the very signature of Satan"

[...] the denial of identity is the very signature of Satan [...] We are in sharp collision with a large number of things, some of which are real facts and all of which are real faiths. We must see these things objectively, as we do a tree; and understand that they exist whether we like them or not. We must not try and turn them into something different by the mere exercise of our own minds, as if we were witches [...] Now you can, if you choose, pass your life in a wizard dream, in which all your enemies are turned into something else [...] but if you do, you will sooner or later get into your head what is meant by an immovable post.
-November 22, 1913, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The trouble in too many of our modern schools is that the State, being controlled so specially by the few, allows cranks and experiments to go straight to the schoolroom when they have never passed through the Parliament, the public house, the private house, the church, or the marketplace. Obviously, it ought to be the oldest things that are taught to the youngest people; the assured and experienced truths that are put first to the baby. But in a school to-day the baby has to submit to a system that is younger than himself. The flopping infant of four actually has more experience, and has weathered the world longer, than the dogma to which he is made to submit. Many a school boasts of having the last ideas in education, when it has not even the first idea; for the first idea is that even innocence, divine as it is, may learn something from experience. But this, as I say, is all due to the mere fact that we are managed by a little oligarchy; my system presupposes that men who govern themselves will govern their children. To-day we all use Popular Education as meaning education of the people. I wish I could use it as meaning education by the people.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Monday, January 8, 2018

It is the small soul that is sure it is an exception; the large soul is only too proud to be the rule.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Even the newspaper editors and proprietors are more despotic and dangerous by what they do not utter than by what they do. We have all heard the expression "golden silence." The expression "brazen silence" is the only adequate phrase for our editors. If we wake out of this throttled, gaping, and wordless nightmare, we must awake with a yell. The Revolution that releases England from the fixed falsity of its present position will be not less noisy than other revolutions. It will contain, I fear, a great deal of that rude accomplishment described among little boys as "calling names"; but that will not matter much so long as they are the right names.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

[...] I always find that the happy and genial hatred we all have for the man on the other side is considerably complicated by the much darker and more desperate dislike which we have for the wrong man on our own side. The right view of everything has a most strange and subtle power of getting stated wrong.
-April 6, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, January 5, 2018

"...not so much to make wonders facts as to make facts wonders."

By the cheap revolutionary it is commonly supposed that imagination is a merely rebellious thing, that it has its chief function in devising new and fantastic republics. But imagination has its highest use in a retrospective realization. The trumpet of imagination, like the trumpet of the Resurrection, calls the dead out of their graves. Imagination sees Delphi with the eyes of a Greek, Jerusalem with the eyes of a Crusader, Paris with the eyes of a Jacobin, and Arcadia with the eyes of a Euphuist. The prime function of imagination is to see our whole orderly system of life as a pile of stratified revolutions. In spite of all revolutionaries it must be said that the function of imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange; not so much to make wonders facts as to make facts wonders.
-The Defendant (1901)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The inevitable is the greatest of superstitions; it is almost the only god that men have worshipped that has persistently failed them.
-November 7, 1903, Daily News

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

But very few people in this world would care to listen to the real defence of their own characters. The real defence, the defence which belongs to the Day of Judgment, would make such damaging admissions, would clear away so many artificial virtues, would tell such tragedies of weakness and failure, that a man would sooner be misunderstood and censured by the world than exposed to that awful and merciless eulogy. One of the most practically difficult matters which arise from the code of manners and the conventions of life, is that we cannot properly justify a human being, because that justification would involve the admission of things which may not conventionally be admitted. We might explain and make human and respectable, for example, the conduct of some old fighting politician, who, for the good of his party and his country, acceded to measures of which he disapproved; but we cannot, because we are not allowed to admit that he ever acceded to measures of which he disapproved. We might touch the life of many dissolute public men with pathos, and a kind of defeated courage, by telling the truth about the history of their sins. But we should throw the world into an uproar if we hinted that they had any. Thus the decencies of civilisation do not merely make it impossible to revile a man, they make it impossible to praise him.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Religion is a rare and definite conviction of what this world of ours really is. Superstition is only a commonsense acceptation of what it obviously is. Sane peasants, healthy hunters, are all superstitious; they are superstitious because they are healthy and sane. They have a reasonable fear of the unknown; for superstition is only the creative side of agnosticism. The superstitious man sees quite plainly that the universe is a thing to be feared. The religious man maintains paradoxically that the universe is a thing to be trusted. The awe certainly is the obvious thing; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom [....] but not the end.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

Monday, January 1, 2018


I know the more general objection; that one can 'never know' whether the man is honest. Alas! That is bitterly true and can never be answered. I can never know whether any man is honest. I can never know whether I am honest; in my more solemn moments I incline to the belief that I am not. But this I will say with no special hesitation. I am more certain of the honesty of a certain type of beggar than I am of the honesty of a certain type of rich man, who fills the committees of most philanthropic institutions. I know more about one beggar whom I have seen than about ten guinea-pig peers whom I have never seen and never want to see. The beggar may deceive me, but he has to do it with a human eye, which may fail him, not with a prospectus, which will mechanically do his will. It is often hard to keep a stiff face; but institutions keep stiff of themselves. Still, I return to the original compromise; by all means let it be at the tenth beggar that you lose your temper. But do not let it be at the tenth beggar that you find your political economy.
October 10, 1908, Daily News