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, June 30, 2018

If the modern man is indeed the heir of all the ages, he is often the kind of heir who tells the family solicitor to sell the whole damned estate, lock, stock, and barrel, and give him a little ready money to throw away at the races or the nightclubs. He is certainly not the kind of heir who ever visits his estate: and, if he really owns all the historic lands of ancient and modern history, he is a very absentee landlord. He does not really go down the mines on the historic property [...] but is content with a very hasty and often misleading report from a very superficial and sometimes dishonest mining expert. He allows any wild theories, like wild thickets of thorn and briar, to grow all over the garden and even the graveyard. He will always believe modern testimony in a text-book against contemporary testimony on a tombstone [...] Nevertheless, there are some of us who do hold that the metaphor of inheritance from human history is a true metaphor, and that any man who is cut off from the past, and content with the future, is a man most unjustly disinherited; and all the more unjustly if he is happy in his lot, and is not permitted even to know what he has lost. And I, for one, believe that the mind of man is at its largest, and especially at its broadest, when it feels the brotherhood of humanity linking it up with remote and primitive and even barbaric things.
-Avowals and Denials (1934)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fairy tales are the only true accounts that man has ever given of his destiny. ‘Jack the Giant-Killer’ is the embodiment of the first of the three great paradoxes by which men live. It is the paradox of Courage: the paradox which says, ‘You must defy the thing that is terrifying; unless you are frightened, you are not brave.’ ‘Cinderella’ is the embodiment of the second of the paradoxes by which men live: the paradox of Humility which says ‘Look for the best in the thing, ignorant of its merit; he that abases himself shall be exalted’. And ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the embodiment of the third of the paradoxes by which men live: the paradox of Faith — the absolutely necessary and wildly unreasonable maxim which says to every mother with a child or to every patriot with a country, ‘You must love the thing first and make it lovable after wards.’
-The Man Who Was Orthodox (1963)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Suffice it to say that the morality which professes to be perpetually changing is the morality which will, as a matter of fact, stagnate. For this morality professes to change so as to suit the environment. And all progress is an attempt to alter the environment so as to suit something fixed but quite outside experience.
-July 7, 1906, Daily News

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The truth is that there are no educated classes; simply because there is no such thing as education. There is this kind of education and that kind of education, and therefore there are this and that styles of educated men [...] Each one of us is ludicrously ignorant of something; most of us of most things. The whole difference between a conceited man and a modest one is concerned only with how far he is conscious of those hundred professions in which he would be a failure, of those hundred examinations which he could not pass [...] It may be difficult to keep all these potential failures of oneself before one's imagination at once. But it is worth trying, being full of gigantesque humility. 
-February 5, 1910, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

So far from freedom following on the decay of the family, what follows is uniformity.
-Chesterton on Shakespeare (1971)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Organized religion

I have never been able to understand why men of science, or men of any sort, should have such a special affection for Disoganised Religion. They would hardly utter cries of hope and joy over the prospect of Disorganised Biology or Disorganised Botany. They would hardly wish to see the whole universe of astronomy disorganised, with no relations, no records, no responsibilities for the fulfilment of this or that function, no reliance on the regularity of this or that law [...] The truth is that, in supernatural things as in natural things, there is in that sense an increase of organisation with the increase of life. There is, indeed, a dead mechanism that men often call organisation. But it is nowadays much more characteristic of secular than of spiritual movements. In short, all this modern cant against organised religion is a highly modern result of disorganised reason. Men have not really thought out the question of how much or how little organisation is inevitable in any corporate action, and what are its proper organs.
-April 12, 1930, Illustrated London News

Sunday, June 24, 2018

[...] when we find that the daily life of priests contradicts our notion of their Church, it might surely be more reasonable to ask ourselves not only whether all these human beings may not be horrible hypocrites, but also whether our own original notion of what they profess may not be a little off the rails.
May 9, 1903, Daily News

Saturday, June 23, 2018

From Maisie Ward's Return to Chesterton (1952), p.63:
A charming story is told by a man who saw Gilbert starting to chase his hat in the street. Plunging through the traffic, the passer-by rescued it to his own imminent peril, and was not pleased when Gilbert received it with the remark that his wife had just bought him a new one and would be sorry to see it again.
"Then why on earth did you run after it?"
"It's an old friend. I am fond of it and I wanted to be with it at the end."

Friday, June 22, 2018

The terrible danger in the heart of our Society is that the tests are giving way. We are altering, not the evils, but the standards of good by which alone evils can be detected and defined. It is as if we were looking at some great machine, say, a stonecutter's saw, and the saw was working briskly and the dust flying brightly. But when we came to look close, we found that the stone was unscratched and was wearing away the steel. The thing that should crumble is holding fast; the thing that should hold fast is crumbling [...] So the moral scales that were meant to weigh our problems are themselves breaking under the weight of them. The philosophical instruments which were meant to dissect existence are bent and twisted against the toughness of the thing to be dissected. Because it is very hard work to apply principles of judgment to anything, people are everywhere abandoning the principles and practically deciding not to test life at all, but only let life test them. They do not analyze the situation at all; they let their situation analyze them- which means, break them up [...] Instead of testing the passing institutions by the eternal institutions, we are nibbling away the eternal institutions and leaving ourselves with no test at all.
-March 25, 1911, Illustrated London News

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"I know," said Father Brown, and his mouth took on again the twisted smile. "I sometimes think criminals invented hygiene. Or perhaps some hygienic reformers invented crime; they look like it, some of them. Everybody talks about foul dens and filthy slums in which crime can run riot; but it's just the other way. They are called foul, not because crimes are committed, but because crimes are discovered. It's in the neat, spotless, clean and tidy places that crime can run riot; no mud to make footprints; no dregs to contain poison; kind servants washing out all traces of the murder, and the murderer killing and cremating six wives and all for want of a little Christian dirt [...]"
-The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fairy tales are the only sound guidebooks to life [...]
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.
-Generally Speaking (1928)

Monday, June 18, 2018

We have in this country all that has ever been alleged against the evil side of religion; the peculiar class with privileges, the sacred words that are unpronounceable; the important things known only to the few. In fact we lack nothing except the religion.
-All Things Considered (1908)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Trust the people and get the thing settled slowly. But in the name of all ancestral wisdom, do not trust the faddist and get the thing settled wrong. Do not trust the opinion of every chance person whose name you've heard in the newspapers as being somebody vaguely and irrationally important. Do not trust a man because you have heard of him as a cricketer or a journalist or a prize-fighter or a burglar or a millionaire.
-September 22, 1906, Illustrated London News

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Most of us, of course, spend half of our time in abusing journalism, especially those of us (like myself) who spend the other half in writing it. But when we pass from abusing a thing to reforming it, we commonly pass from an easier condition to a much stormier one, for there is nothing more united than opposition, and nothing more divided than reform. When two men unite against a third with hearty and unanimous enthusiasm, it is generally because one thinks he is too far to the left and the other that he is too far to the right.
-January 6, 1906, Illustrated London News

Friday, June 15, 2018


Well aware of how offensive I make myself, and with what loathing I may well be regarded, in this sentimental age which pretends to be cynical, and in this poetical nation which pretends to be practical, I shall nevertheless continue to practise in public a very repulsive trick or habit--the habit of drawing distinctions; or distinguishing between things that are quite different, even when they are assumed to be the same [...] I have again and again blasphemed against and denied the perfect Oneness of chalk and cheese; and drawn fanciful distinctions, ornithological or technological, between hawks and handsaws. For in truth I believe that the only way to say anything definite is to define it, and all definition is by limitation and exclusion; and that the only way to say something distinct is to say something distinguishable; and distinguishable from everything else. In short, I think that a man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.
-As I was Saying (1936)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

[An inscription in a book Chesterton gave to a young child]

This is the sort of book we like
   (For you and I are very small),
With pictures stuck in anyhow,
   And hardly any words at all.

You will not understand a word
   Of all the words, including mine;
Never you trouble; you can see,
   And all directness is divine-

Stand up and keep your childishness:
   Read all the pedants' screeds and strictures;
But don't believe in anything
   That can't be told in coloured pictures.
-Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, volume X: Collected Poetry, Part I, p. 304

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good--" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
-Heretics (1905)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Utopia always wins best in what is, in another than the Wellsian sense,  a War in the Air. When the heavenly kingdom becomes an earthly paradise, it sometimes tends to be a hell upon earth. But it sometimes tends to be what is even worse, or at least weaker- a very earthy imitation of earth. So long as revolution is a failure, we all feel that it holds the promise of success. It is when it is a success that it is so often a failure.
-June 16, 1928, Illustrated London News

Monday, June 11, 2018

We must always allow something for the journalistic version of anything. There could not be a daily paper that told the truth about the day before; for the simple reason the truth about the day before would require about two hundred years to tell. There is no such thing as realism in the sense of telling merely the reality about any fragment of time or space. Realism and idealism are both merely selections; and the only difference is that idealism is the selection made by honest men, and realism the selection make by dishonest ones.
-September 1, 1906, Illustrated London News

Sunday, June 10, 2018

That is the mark of the truly great man: that he sees the common man afar off, and worships him. The great man tries to be ordinary, and becomes extraordinary in the process. But the small man tries to be mysterious, and becomes lucid in an awful sense- for we can all see through him.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The greatest poets of the world have a certain serenity because they have not bothered to invent a small philosophy, but have rather inherited a large philosophy. It is nine times out of ten, a philosophy which very great men share with very ordinary men. It is therefore not a theory which attracts attention as a theory [...] the great poet only professes to express the thought that everybody has always had.
-Chaucer (1932)

Friday, June 8, 2018

"When they talk of making new roads, they are only making new ruts."

The wild theorists of our time are quite unable to wander. When they talk of making new roads, they are only making new ruts.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Deeds, not words" is itself an excellent example of "Words, not thoughts". It is a deed that throws a pebble into a pond and a word that sends a prisoner to the gallows.
-The Common Man (1950)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

For unless the principles are eternal a thing cannot advance; a thing cannot exist. It is the essence of progress that the ideal cannot progress. It is the whole meaning of a change for the better that the better itself cannot change.
-May 19, 1906, Daily News

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

People can faintly imagine the mind of about half the world, and do not make the faintest effort to imagine the mind of the other half. They divide the whole earth into two mutually menacing armies, and then call one of them the peace of the world and the other the disturbers of the peace. This is certainly not the way to insure any sort of peace. Peace will only begin to be possible when we try to do justice to the side with which we do not feel sympathy, and earnestly try to call up in our own imagination the sorrows we have not suffered and the angers we do not feel.
-June 25, 1932, Illustrated London News
[quoted in Gilbert!, May/June 2018]

Monday, June 4, 2018

Government grows more elusive every day. But the traditions of humanity support humanity; and the central one is this tradition of Marriage. And the essential of it is that a free man and a free woman choose to found on earth the only voluntary state; the only state which creates and which loves its citizens. So long as these real responsible beings stand together, they can survive all the vast changes, deadlocks and disappointments, which make up mere political history. But if they fail each other, it is as certain as death that "the State" will fail them.
-Sidelights on New London and Newer York (1932)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The latest update on GKC's cause:

GK Chesterton's Sainthood Cause May Soon Be Opened

A short excerpt from the link:
An investigation into the cause for Chesterton, conducted by Canon John Udris, is expected to be completed this summer. It will then be sent to Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, who will consult with the Vatican about whether to open the beatification cause. Ahlquist said the decision will most likely be announced this fall.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Shakespeare’s famous phrase that art should hold the mirror up to nature is always taken as wholly realistic; but it is really idealistic and symbolic [...]  Art is a mirror not because it is the same as the object, but because it is different.  A mirror selects as much as art selects; it gives the light of flames, but not their heat; the colour of flowers, but not their fragrance; the faces of women, but not their voices; the proportions of stockbrokers, but not their solidity.  A mirror is a vision of things, not a working model of them.
The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Friday, June 1, 2018

But if ever there was a whisper that might truly come from the devil, it is the suggestion that men can despise the beautiful things they have got, and only delight in getting new things because they have not got them. It is obvious that, on that principle, Adam will tire of the tree just as he has tired of the garden. "It is enough that there is always a beyond"; that is, there is always something else to get tired of. All progress based on that mood is truly a Fall; man did fall, does fall, and we can today see him falling. It is the great progressive proposition; that he must seek only for enjoyment because he has lost the power to enjoy.
-The Common Man (1950)