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)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Just wishing to make a quick update that I have *not* abandoned this blog. It is simply that I have been busy the past few months with another project, and will be so for a little while still. However, I do plan on resuming blogging sometime in late winter/early spring, if not beforehand. That is all.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

"The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world."

[A]ll artists are dedicated to an eternal struggle against the downward tendency of their own method and medium. For this reason they must sometimes be fresh; but there is no reason why they should not also be modest. There is nothing to brag about in the mere fact that your only mode of expression is perpetually going to the dogs.  The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation, but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.
-May 21, 1927, Illustrated London News

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Here is a meme I created earlier today. :-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The following is an essay I wrote back in 2010 for a Gen Ed English class at school.

Since I had to write an argumentative essay, but wanted a comparatively "safe" subject, I argued that GKC was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. (I would have put "greatest", but I decided to keep my claims more modest.)

My teacher wrote:
This is one of the better papers I've had in any of my classes, especially when it comes to the research you've done. Bravo for proving me wrong. :-) 
I decided it would perhaps be a good idea to post it here, for anyone interested.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

In logic a wise man will always put the cart before the horse. That is to say, he will always put the end before the means; when he is considering the question as a whole. He does not construct a cart in order to exercise a horse. He employs a horse to draw a cart, and whatever is in the cart. In all modern reasoning there is a tendency to make the mere political beast of burden more important than the chariot of man it is meant to draw.
-Irish Impressions (1919)

Friday, June 21, 2019

For men are really brothers, and it is only people who know nothing of brotherhood who fancy that this is contradicted by the fact that they fight each other.
-August 15, 1903, Daily News

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Now it is a common charge against the American Republic that it is unhistoric and has no past; but the charge is singularly false. It has a past which is not only historic, but heroic. Nay, it is heroic not only in the normal sense of things that are historic, but almost in the sense in which we speak of the prehistoric. We feel there was a heroic age of the Republic; and a legend of its founding, like the legend of Rome. Its founders built on affirmations so wide and (as they themselves truly said) so self-evident that there was something about them beyond place and time. There really is something about the Declaration of Independence that is almost like the stone tables of the Ten Commandments. It is so much a fact that, if we like it, we can even make fun of it; and the Americans themselves do make fun of it. In their own stories they do treat the cherry-tree of George Washington as something like the apple-tree of Adam. In their own lighter moments, they do seem to imply that Benjamin Franklin must have been as much of a bore and a nuisance as Socrates. But men only deal thus lightly with things that they feel as ancient and fundamental; and there is this feeling about the American fundamentals. It does not, for instance, seem unnatural to talk about the Father of the Republic, as we talk of the Fathers of the Christian Church or of the old pagan city. And the idea for which they stood is one that can never be merely new-fangled, just as it can never be merely old-fashioned; something which can be denied, but can never be discredited; something which they expressed far better, but which (in the looser language of modernity) is expressed best by saying that the normal man must be master of the national fate.
-March 23, 1918, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

[A]ll education is religious education- and never more than when it is irreligious education. It either teaches a definite doctrine about the universe, which is theology; or else it takes one for granted, which is mysticism. If it does not do that it does nothing at all, and means nothing at all, for everything must depend upon some first principles and refer to some causes, expressed or unexpressed.
-July 26,1924, Illustrated London News

Sunday, May 26, 2019

What fun it would be if good actors suddenly acted like real people!
-March 16, 1912, Illustrated London News

Monday, May 20, 2019

GKC "correcting" Shaw about the meaning of Shaw's own play....lol.

I seem destined to differ from Mr. Bernard Shaw just now. And having had the honour to differ from him about Shakespeare's plays I have now the even greater honour to differ from him about his own. Mr. Shaw's mistakes about the meaning of his own plays arise from the same source as his Shakespearean errors, a lack of warmth and poesy. Mr Huneker quotes in his book [...] Mr. Shaw's own account of the character of Candida. 'Candida' always appeared to me not only as the noblest work of Mr. Shaw, but as one of the noblest, if not the noblest, of modern plays; a most square and manly piece of moral truth. And with the authority of a close student of the work, I assure the author of it that if he imagines that he understands the character of Candida he is quite mistaken. Mr. Shaw says of Candida: 'Morell himself sees that "no law will bind her". She seduces Eugene just as far as it is worth her while to seduce him. She is a woman without "character" in the conventional sense. She is straight for natural reasons, not for conventional ethical ones." The fact of the matter is that Candida, being a strong woman and not a half-witted anarchist, knows, as all sane people do know, that 'convention' is a thing quite as real as 'nature', perhaps much more real than nature. Strong, experienced human souls accept the facts of habit, the magic of time, the need for continuity, the working loyalties, the compromises of fellowship, as they accept the sun and moon. Laws are not dead things, as the foolish Bohemians think, and as Mr. Huneker, and even Mr. Shaw, tend here to think them. Laws are living things, like songs; and for the same reason, for both songs and laws are filled with the passion and vigilance of mankind. To despise them is not to be a free man, but simply to be an unusually silly misanthrope. How far laws should sometimes be defied is another matter; but they should never be despised- for they are humanity.
-April 26, 1905, Daily News

Friday, May 17, 2019

The point about the Press is that it is not what it is called. It is not the "popular Press." It is not the public Press. It is not an organ of public opinion. It is a conspiracy of a very few millionaires, all sufficiently similar in type to agree on the limits of what this great nation (to which we belong) may know about itself and its friends and enemies. The ring is not quite complete; there are old-fashioned and honest papers: but it is sufficiently near to completion to produce on the ordinary purchaser of news the practical effects of a corner and a monopoly. He receives all his political information and all his political marching orders from what is by this time a sort of half-conscious secret society, with very few members, but a great deal of money.
-Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays (1917)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

[T]he cynical use of the enormous power of journalism is a thing which an honest man ought to fight against furiously and for ever.
-November 23, 1907, Daily News

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

There are some who say that Shakespeare was vitally anti-democratic, because every now and then he curses the rabble- as if every lover of the people had not often had cause to curse the rabble. For this is the very definition of the rabble- it is the people when the people are undemocratic.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Music is mere beauty; it is beauty in the abstract, beauty in solution. It is a shapeless and liquid element of beauty, in which a man may really float, not indeed affirming the truth, but not denying it.
-George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Monday, May 13, 2019

What was the matter with most reformers [...] was that the reformers were never contented or even concerned to reform. They were not satisfied to alter the abnormal in favour of the normal; they were much more eager to alter the normal in favour of the novel. The trick that has tripped up generation after generation of perfectly just reformers is that they were more interested in some particular new-fangled plan than they were in pointing out the old and obvious evil. The removal of every abuse or abomination was always tangled and tied hand and foot with some temporary and trumpery fad.
-October 28, 1922, Illustrated London News

Sunday, May 12, 2019

I will defer the question of whether the democracy knows how to answer questions until the oligarchy knows how to ask them.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Shaw's only essential error [is] modernity- which means the seeking for truth in terms of time.
George Bernard Shaw (1909)

Friday, May 10, 2019

A verbal accident has confused the mystical with the mysterious. Mysticism is generally felt vaguely to be itself vague—a thing of clouds and curtains, of darkness or concealing vapours, of bewildering conspiracies or impenetrable symbols. Some quacks have indeed dealt in such things: but no true mystic ever loved darkness rather than light. No pure mystic ever loved mere mystery. The mystic does not bring doubts or riddles: the doubts and riddles exist already. We all feel the riddle of the earth without anyone to point it out. The mystery of life is the plainest part of it. The clouds and curtains of darkness, the confounding vapours, these are the daily weather of this world. Whatever else we have grown accustomed to, we have grown accustomed to the unaccountable. Every stone or flower is a hieroglyphic of which we have lost the key; with every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand. The mystic is not the man who makes mysteries but the man who destroys them. The mystic is one who offers an explanation which may be true or false, but which is always comprehensible—by which I mean, not that it is always comprehended, but that it always can be comprehended, because there is always something to comprehend. The man whose meaning remains mysterious fails, I think, as a mystic.
-William Blake (1910)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

However, one of the state-level opponents to the anti-abortion legislation, Democratic Rep. John Rogers of Birningham, spoke out against the vote.

"Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later," Rogers said.

Should I feel bad that, whenever I see arguments like that, I'm tempted to reply with this quote from Chesterton, written in 1908?
...I have always had an instinct against all the forms of science of morality which professed to be particularly prescient and provisional. Some beautiful idealists are eager to kill babies if they think they will grow up bad. But I say to them: 'No, beautiful idealists; let us wait until the babies do grow up bad- and then (if we have luck) perhaps they may kill you.

-May 30, 1908, Daily News
Ok, perhaps I should resist doing that- but it's so tempting!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre Dame is not a myth. Notre Dame is not a theory. Its interest does not spring from ignorance but from knowledge; from a culture complicated with a hundred controversies and revolutions. It is not featureless, but carved into an incredible forest and labyrinth of fascinating features, any one of which we could talk about for days. It is not great because there is little of it, but great because there is a great deal of it [...] Notre Dame, on its merely human side, is mediaeval civilization.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Monday, April 8, 2019

Antonin Scalia and GKC

From an article by the son of the late US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia concerning his father:

He didn’t only evangelize by example, though. Dad rarely subjected us to lectures, thank goodness, but he was happy to explain things and answer questions about the finer points of Christianity. He would also occasionally pull my siblings and me aside and tell us about his favorite prayers or call us into his study and read passages from his favorite writers – John Henry Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton, or C.S. Lewis – or share magazines and articles that he thought would nourish our spiritual lives. [Source]

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

[M]an creates in his capacity of the image of God; and he is in nothing so much the image of God as in creating images.
-November 23, 1929, Illustrated London News

Saturday, March 23, 2019

[H]aving taken the frivolous things seriously we naturally take the serious things frivolously.
-August 25, 1906, Illustrated London News

Monday, March 18, 2019

We in a certain Western tradition have erected a thing, the toils and trivialities of which we know only too well, but which we are still prepared dogmatically to defend, a thing called public law. [...] all good things live in the light and in the air of truth. Sooner or later State secrets will be tainted with treason; sooner or later private prisons will be filled with torture. The only cure is daylight; even if it be such dreary daylight as creeps at morning along the corridors of a law court. [...] the citizen of Western Christendom upholds the huge, the perilous, and the noble experiment of publicity.
-April 22. 1911, Daily News

Sunday, March 17, 2019

"I did not buy the pistol to murder myself or my wife; I never was really modern."

A man does not generally manage to forget his wedding-day; especially such a highly comic wedding-day as mine. For the family remembers against me a number of now familiar legends, about the missing of trains, the losing of luggage, and other things counted yet more eccentric. It is alleged against me, and with perfect truth, that I stopped on the way to drink a glass of milk in one shop and to buy a revolver with cartridges in another. Some have seen these as singular wedding-presents for a bridegroom to give to himself; and if the bride had known less of him, I suppose she might have fancied that he was a suicide or a murderer or, worst of all, a teetotaller. They seemed to me the most natural things in the world. I did not buy the pistol to murder myself or my wife; I never was really modern. I bought it because it was the great adventure of my youth, with a general notion of protecting her from the pirates doubtless infesting the Norfolk Broads, to which we were bound; where, after all, there are still a suspiciously large number of families with Danish names. I shall not be annoyed if it is called childish; but obviously it was rather a reminiscence of boyhood, and not of childhood.
-Autobiography (1936)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

[P]rogress ought to be based on principle [...] our modern progress is mostly based on precedent. We go, not by what may be affirmed in theory, but by what has been already admitted in practice.
-What's Wrong With the World (1910)

Friday, March 15, 2019

[...] Eugenics is chiefly a denial of the Declaration of Independence. It urges that so far from all men being born equal, numbers of them ought not to be born at all.
-November 20, 1915, Illustrated London News

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Joseph Conrad and GKC

An interesting piece of information:
A few years later, Frances received a letter from [Joseph] Conrad's widow to say that her husband, who had died in 1924, had 'always' been a 'great admirer' of Chesterton and that it had been 'of no little regret' to him that he had not known Chesterton personally

-G.K. Chesterton: A Biography, Ian Ker, (2011), p. 572

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Al Capone and GKC

The following anecdote from Chesterton's trip to Italy is quite interesting (and which I have mentioned before, but found a new source confirming it):
While Dorothy Collins [GKC's secretary] had been taking Chesterton's dictation or Gilbert was visiting or lecturing, Frances [GKC's wife] was sometimes at a loose end. Fortunately, a fellow guest in the hotel, a pleasant American gentleman with a very large Packard limousine and his own chauffeur, was happy to put his car at Frances' disposal when it was not needed by himself. Gilbert would no doubt have been delighted in the chauffeur's name, Dominic Cinderella, but it would have been interesting to have been able to note his reaction when some time later, after may kindnesses by the American, Frances introduced nice Mr. Capone to Gilbert: Alphone Capone was perhaps enjoying a quiet holiday after all the excitement of the previous February's St Valentine's Day massacre.

-G.K. Chesterton: A Reappraisal, Denis J. Conlin (2015), p. 198

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The truth is that a phrase can be falsified by use without being false in fact.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Monday, March 11, 2019

A joke is always a thought; it is grave and formal writing that can be quite literally thoughtless.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

When people begin to ignore human dignity, it will not be long before they begin to ignore human rights.
-All is Grist (1931)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Oh, it's easy enough," said Lord Eden frankly. "Look how easily we remained in the saddle, in spite of democratic elections; how we managed to dominate the Commons as well as the Lords. It'll be the same with what they call Socialism. We shall still be there; only we shall be called bureaucrats instead of aristocrats."
-Tales of the Long Bow (1925)

Friday, March 8, 2019

"Yes," replied the smuggler placidly, "[...] I thought at first of dressing the pigs up as millionaires and members of Parliament; but when you come to look close, there's more difference than you would imagine to be possible [..]"
-Tales of the Long Bow (1925)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The things that men see every day are the things they never see at all.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Even when brilliant men have led the world, it is by no means certain that they have not generally misled the world. It is easy to say that commonplace crowds of mediocre men will never be able to rise to the task of government; it is true to say that such crowds of such men can never in themselves be a complete substitute for leadership. But it is quite another thing to have anything like complete confidence in the leadership of the sort of men who commonly offer themselves to lead.
-September 16, 1935, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

We naturally expect that the protest against that more than usually barbaric form of birth control will be a protest of indignant instinct and the common conscience of men. We expect the infanticide to be called by its own name, which is murder at its worst; not only the brand of Cain but the brand of Herod. We expect the protest to be full of the honour of men, of the memory of mothers, of the natural love of children.
-June 3, 1922, Illustrated London News

Monday, March 4, 2019

It is quite proper and important to discuss whether Democracy leads to Socialism, whether it is consistent with Catholicism, whether it encourages war, whether it admits of art; whether Democracy is dull, whether Democracy is lawless. But there is a question for the modern man much more solemn and searching than all these: whether Democracy is democratic.
-July 22, 1911, Illustrated London News

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A Hymn for the Church Militant

Great God, that bowest sky and star,
Bow down our towering thoughts to thee,
And grant us in a faltering war
The firm feet of humility.

Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame,
Lord, we that cry about Thy car.
We too are weak with pride and shame,
We too are as our foemen are.

Yea, we are mad as they are mad,
Yea, we are blind as they are blind,
Yea, we are very sick and sad
Who bring good news to all mankind.

The dreadful joy Thy Son has sent
Is heavier than any care;
We find, as Cain his punishment,
Our pardon more than we can bear.

Lord, when we cry Thee far and near
And thunder through all lands unknown
The gospel into every ear,
Lord, let us not forget our own.

Cleanse us from ire of creed or class,
The anger of the idle things;
Sow in our souls, like living grass,
The laughter of all lowly things.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Politics may or may not be a tyranny; politicians may or may not be parasites. But parasites do not cease to be parasites because we have grown weary of watching them as performing fleas. There are other functions that the parasites will still perform.
-August 4, 1923, Illustrated London News

Friday, March 1, 2019

I am not sure that the very fact that negative morality has a narrower scope does not sometimes mean that it leaves a wider liberty. If there are only Ten Commandments, it means that there are only ten things forbidden; and that means that there are ten million things that are not forbidden. Let us do justice to our ancestors, if they found it easier, and shorter, to describe what they forbade than what they permitted.
-October 1, 1932, Illustrated London News

Thursday, February 28, 2019

To me, unfortunately perhaps (for I speak merely of individual taste), a cat is a wild animal. A cat is Nature personified. Like Nature, it is so mysterious that one cannot quite repose even in its beauty. But like Nature again, it is so beautiful that one cannot believe that it is really cruel. Perhaps it isn't; and there again it is like Nature. Men of old time worshipped cats as they worshipped crocodiles; and those magnificent old mystics knew what they were about. The moment in which one really loves cats is the same as that in which one (moderately and within reason) loves crocodiles. It is that divine instant when a man feels himself—no, not absorbed into the unity of all things (a loathsome fancy)—but delighting in the difference of all things.
-A Miscellany of Men (1912)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"What is Wrong?"

Given the importance of the following letter Chesterton wrote in 1905 (the reasons for its importance being given here), I wanted to post the whole letter today:

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Wherever you have complete ugliness there you have aesthetes. When beauty is dead 'art' is born.
-Daily News, April 8, 1905

Monday, February 25, 2019

The modern world is full of things that are theoretically open and popular, but practically private and even corrupt. In theory any tinker can be chosen to speak for his fellow-citizens among the English Commons. In practice he may have to spend a thousand pounds on getting elected- a sum which many tinkers do not happen to have to spare.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The typical modern man in revolt has no positive picture at all of what he is aiming at, but only a vague (and erroneous) sensation of progress.
-November 25, 1905, Daily News

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Some critics have vaguely suspected Chaucer of being a Lollard, through a simple ignorance of what is meant by being a Catholic. I am aware that there is a Victorian convention, according to which a literary study should not refer to religion, except when there is an opportunity of a passing sneer at it. But nobody can make head or tail of the fourteenth century without understanding what is meant by being a Catholic; and therefore by being a heretic. A man does not come an inch nearer to being a heretic by being a hundred times a critic. Nor does he do so because his criticisms resemble those of critics who are also heretics. He only becomes a heretic at the precise moment when he prefers his criticism to his Catholicism. That is, at the instant of separation in which he thinks the view peculiar to himself more valuable than the creed that unites him to his fellows. At any given moment the Catholic Church is full of people sympathizing with social movements or moral ideas, which may happen to have representatives outside the Church. For the Church is not a movement or a mood or a direction, but the balance of many movements and moods; and membership of it consists of accepting the ultimate arbitrament which strikes the balance between them, not in refusing to admit any of them into the balance at all. A Catholic does not come any nearer to being a Communist by hating the Capitalist corruptions, any more than he comes any nearer to being a Moslem by hating real idolatry or real excess in wine. He accepts the Church's ruling about the use and abuse of wine and images; and after that it is irrelevant how much he happens to hate the abuse of them. A Catholic did not come any nearer to being a Calvinist by dwelling on the omniscience of God and the power of Grace, any more than he came any nearer to being an atheist by saying that man possessed reason and freewill. What constituted a Calvinist was that he preferred his Calvinism to his Catholicism. And what constituted his Catholicism was that he accepted the ultimate arbitration which reconciled freewill and grace, and did not exclude either. So a Catholic did not come any nearer to being a Lollard because he criticized the ecclesiastical evils of the fourteenth century, as Leo the Thirteenth or Cardinal Manning criticized the economic evils of the nineteenth century. He said many things which Lollards also said, as the Pope and the Cardinal said many things which Socialists also said. But he was no nearer to being a Lollard; and nobody can begin to suggest that Chaucer was a Lollard, unless he can prove either or both of two propositions about him. First, that he held any Lollard doctrine that can be proved to be heretical by exact and authoritative definition: the sort of precise thing not very likely to be found in such poetry. And, second, that if he did hold it as a private opinion, he would in the last resort have preferred that private opinion to membership of the Body of Christ.
-Chaucer (1932)

Friday, February 22, 2019

One of the queer puzzles of modern politics might be stated in this way. That when power was permanent, it was always reminded that it was passing; but when power was really supposed to be passing, it was actually treated as if it were permanent. In the days when kings could really cut off anybody’s head, they were incessantly informed by seers and sages that they themselves would soon be cut off. When they were real despots with the power of life and death, there were real prophets or satirists who told them that death would be the end of their own life. But nobody ever said this, since democratic and liberal ideas were supposed to prevail in the State. Nobody told the really temporary ruler that he was temporary, or even that he was temporal.
-As I Was Saying (1936)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Everyone is asking why they may not have this, why they should not do that. But anyone who knows the alphabet of man knows that happiness does not work like this, that a little goes a long way, that contrast counts for much- that people enjoy most the unexpected pleasure, the edges and the beginnings of things. In two words, we know that joy greatly depends on wonder; and we know that wonder partly depends on rarity. On this truth sane men will soon build up simpler enjoyments.
-March 2, 1907, Daily News

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The practical politician is a man who always takes the notion that lies nearest- not because he is morally prompt, but because he is mentally lazy. One result of this is that they are surrounded by a swarm of quacks, struggling for their wandering attention [...] Thus they are more likely to have the proper prospectuses of preposterous Utopias thrust into their hands than to have leisure to listen to the real talk even of the crowd, far less to think out the elementary logic of the question.
-February 15, 1919, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

[Jane Austen] is perhaps most typical of her time in being supremely irreligious. Her very virtues glitter with the cold sunlight of the great secular epoch between mediaeval and modern mysticism. In that small masterpiece, Northanger Abbey, her unconsciousness of history is itself a piece of history. For Catherine Morland was right, as young and romantic people often are. A real crime had been committed in Northanger Abbey. It is implied in the very name of Northanger Abbey. It was the crucial crime of the sixteenth century, when all the institutions of the poor were savagely seized to be the private possessions of the rich. It is strange that the name remains; it is stranger still that it remains unrealized. We should think it odd to go to tea at a man’s house and find it was still called a church. We should be surprised if a gentleman’s shooting box at Claybury were referred to as Claybury Cathedral. But the irony of the eighteenth century is that Catherine was healthily interested in crimes and yet never found the real crime; and that she never really thought of it as an abbey, even when she thought of it most as an antiquity.
-The Uses of Diversity (1921)

Monday, February 18, 2019

"...a restatement of religious truth."

He said that we need a new statement of religion; and I remembered the hundreds and thousands of times I have heard the murmur of the emancipated, repeating again and again that we need "a restatement of religious truth." Now "restatement," not in itself, but as they use it, is a catchword. I do not so much complain of what they say; but I do complain that they do not mean what they say- that they do, in fact, mean the very opposite of what they say. To restate a thing is to state it over again; possibly to state the thing in other words, but to state the same thing. It is nonsense to say that the statement, "The dog is mad," is restated in the amended form, "The cow is dead"; and it is equally absurd that the news that the devil is dead should be called a restatement of the tradition that the devil is dangerous. In truth, as I have said, these people really mean the reverse of what they say. They do not mean that we are to take the same idea and restate it in new words. On the contrary, they mean that we are to use the old words and attach to them a new idea.

It would be easy to take a perfectly simple and indisputable example of such a phrase, which is by this time an antiquated phrase. It might make things a little clearer, for children or foreigners, if we did not speak of the Holy Ghost, but only of the Holy Spirit, The word "ghost" is antiquated in that meaning; and, what is worse, it is still alive and kicking in another and more grotesque meaning. There may possibly have been babies for whom the old phrase had some association with spectres in white sheets; and the highly enlightened modern inquirer often has to be treated as tenderly as if he were a baby. Anyhow, to say Spirit instead of Ghost would not be a modification or a modernisation or a compromise or a surrender. It would be strictly and exactly a restatement. That is, it would be stating the same thing over again, only in a living language instead of a dead one. But those who clamour for the restatement of traditional truths commonly mean quite the contrary. They do not mean that we should cease to speak of the Holy Ghost because it only means the Holy Spirit; they mean that we should continue to speak of the Holy Ghost, only that we should make it mean the League of Nations, or the theory of Evolution, or the cause of vegetarianism, or whatever we please. Restatement means putting an old notion in new terms. But they mean that they want to put a new notion in old terms; they cling convulsively to every letter and syllable of the old terms. Even when they talk about restating something they call Religion they are clinging to a very old term.
-June 9, 1928, Illustrated London News

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The real trouble of the Middle Ages lay in their rudimentary and relatively bad communications for the handing on of their good things; not in the least in their not having the good things to communicate. We are in a position to appreciate the distinction at the present moment; when we have very good communications and nothing to communicate.
-Chaucer (1932)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

[D]emocracy tends too much to mean politicians[.]
-April 22.1911, Daily News

Friday, February 15, 2019

As it is, I look on that most glorious of sights: a collision. You may call it, if you like, an overlapping: the spring has begun before the winter has left off [...] The essential is that this entanglement of advancing spring with retreating winter has all the crashing qualities of a battle. I look out on my garden and see time sharpened and shortened, and all things become contemporary. I see the snow shooting downwards with arrows at the flowers; and the flowers fighting upwards with shields and spears against the snow. And I see the double paradox of the seasons: the comfortable colours of snow side by side with all the airiness and eagerness of the early plants. I see all the warmth of the winter and the coldness of the spring.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

[I]f we are to keep any kind of public control on our destiny, we must insist on having violent things called by their own violent names.
-May 18, 1912, Daily News

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

[S]elf-criticism [is] the necessary condition of all criticism.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The worst is always very near the best; there is something much worse than atheism which is Satanism; otherwise known as Being God.
-The Poet and the Lunatics (1929)

Monday, February 11, 2019

[Real democracy] means all the people; even that disgusting part with which we do not agree [...] And the contrast between the real democracy and the little democratic cliques is sometimes very startling. At present, indeed, to ask a 'democrat' really to accept democracy is generally like asking a vegetarian to eat an oak tree.
-December 31, 1910, Daily News

Sunday, February 10, 2019

For it is often necessary to walk backwards, as a man on the wrong road goes back to a sign-post to find the right road. The modern man is more like a traveller who has forgotten the name of his destination, and has to go back whence he came, even to find out where he is going.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Disagree with Socialists if you like. Disagree with Anarchists if you like. Both habits, if exercised in moderation, are good for the health. But do not lose your temper, for this is always fatal to the generous and humane institution which we call argument.
-February 21, 1914, Illustrated London News

Friday, February 8, 2019

There may have been a time when people found it easy to believe anything. But we are finding it vastly easier to disbelieve anything. Both processes save the human mind from the disgusting duty of distinguishing between one thing and another. There may have been, though I never came across them in life or literature, some kind of clodhoppers who believed that every legend was true. But we shall be a much stupider kind of clodhoppers if we believe that every legend is legendary. In either case the effort which human laziness resists is that of drawing a distinction [...] the bother is that one has to use one's brains.
-March 14, 1914, Illustrated London News

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The modern Puritan is never so bitter as when he is making concessions. The modern bishop is never so illiberal as when he is liberal-minded. For both have the sense of being ashamed of the best thing that they possess.
-June 9, 1906, Daily News

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A modern Parliamentarian is not chosen by the people, even when he elected by the people [...] He is elected at the best as the better of two evils. It is a plutocratic organisation that chooses the choice of evils. It is a plutocratic process, above all, because nobody can afford an election except a rich man, or the nominee of a rich man [...] This is not democracy any more than it is aristocracy [.]
-May 20, 1922, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"There is far too quick a step from minority to unanimity."

Indeed, there is rather too much in our modern society of this sudden conversion- this abrupt collapse. There is far too quick a step from minority to unanimity. There is far too little of that slow and stubborn persuasion which means hard thinking and hard fighting. When two drops of rain on a window-pane happen to come together they run down the glass like a river; similarly, when a few influences meet in the modern world they seem to sweep the country.
-May 25, 1907, Illustrated London News

Monday, February 4, 2019

The dog’s very lawlessness is but an extravagance of loyalty; he will go mad with joy three times on the same day, at going out for a walk down the same road [...] I have some sense myself of the sacred duty of surprise; and the need of seeing the old road as a new road. But I cannot claim that whenever I go out for a walk with my family and friends, I rush in front of them volleying vociferous shouts of happiness; or even leap up round them attempting to lick their faces. It is in this power of beginning again with energy upon familiar and homely things that the dog is really the eternal type of the Western civilisation.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fear is of the body, perhaps; but terror is only of the soul. The body runs with fear; it is only the soul that stands with it.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Saturday, February 2, 2019

If we believe in the sanctity of human life, it must be really be a sanctity; we must make sacrifices for it [...] There must be no murdering of men wholesale because they stand in the way of progress [...] If human life is mystical and of infinite value, murder must be really a crime.
-Lunacy and Letters (1958)

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Protection of the Bible
Daily News, April 17, 1909

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Modern people, especially urban people, think that anything which has got itself printed has somehow passed an examination and received a diploma; has somehow, in fact, shown itself to be true. I think they must use the word 'proofs' in a double sense. They will believe an encyclopaedia against an eyewitness; nay, they will believe a newspaper against the naked eye. They buy the 'Daily Mail' next morning to find out what the meeting they attended last night was really like.

People thus credulous of the ephemeral and unscrupulous sheets will not be easily convinced of what is, nevertheless,the fact, that even standard books and state documents are full of errors which common conversation or local knowledge could correct.
-February 5, 1910, Daily News

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I think the truth is this: that the modern world has had far too little understanding of the art of keeping young. It's notion of progress has been to pile one thing on top of another, without caring if each thing was crushed in turn. People forgot that the human soul can enjoy a thing most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for it. And by crowding things together they lost the sense of surprise; and surprise is the secret of joy.
-December 9, 1922, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

One very odd fact, for instance, is that the anti-traditionalist never asks the traditionalist why he follows a tradition. He will gather impressions about the idea from anyone in the world, except the man who happens to hold it.
-June 30, 1934, Illustrated London News

Monday, January 28, 2019

In dealing with Mr. Blatchford's new book, 'God and My Neighbour', which is the harvest of his Secularist articles in 'The Clarion', there is one matter the clearing up of which must be prefatory to other things. Mr. Blatchford puts it in his preface. That preface he begins by printing in capital letters INFIDEL! And he proceeds, both here and throughout the book, to describe himself as being scowled and shouted at as an infidel, greeted everywhere with shocked faces and wagging heads, with horror, and contumely, and disgust. Now, I imagine that there are people of this kind, and I imagine that there are a great many of them. But they have nothing to do with the serious question. If I wished to fling epithets at Mr. Blatchford the very last epithet I should shout would be 'INFIDEL'. I should shout (at the top of my voice) 'INDIVIDUAL HAMPERED BY A NOBLE CREDULITY TOUCHING THE FINALITY OF CURRENT INTELLECTUAL FASHIONS'. But, the fact that an enormous number of people would confine themselves to a shorter (but not more biting) formula, has nothing at all to do with Christianity. It is simply the result on large masses of men of any long continued and successfully conducted regime. A hundred other instances might be given. For example, Mr. Blatchford is a socialist, and therefore believes, with the vast majority of men, that the corporate State has a right to override the individual will. And if a philosophical anarchist were to come up to Mr. Blatchford and suggest that this old human institution of the State was a bad one, Mr. Blatchford would defend the State, and give good reasons for it. But if the philosophical anarchist were to go up to the first well-dressed man he met in Church Parade, or the first old charwoman he met in Farringdon Street, and attack the State, he would not receive a philosophical defence of that institution; he would simply receive the reply: DYNAMITER! But that does not prove that the State is a superstition. It only proves that the State is a success. It means that it has made men sufficiently at home in it to be able to think of other things. I should much prefer, certainly, that every man should have the controversial philosophy of everything at his fingers ends; just as I should much prefer that everyone should be everlastingly astonished at everything- should be startled at the steady sunlight as at a flash of lightning, and weep with gratitude every morning at the thought that he possessed a nose. But human nature being as it is, capable of fatigue, and Custom being what it is (that is, the Devil), it is not reasonable to expect that the steady routine of a whole civilization, going on for centuries, will leave everyone in the matter of its original principles immoderately excited or highly well-informed. And if Mr. Blatchford ever gets his Socialistic State established, in so far as it is solid, in so far as it is enduring, in so far as it is capable of being lived in, so far it will be taken for granted. And anyone who questions its fundamentals will receive from ordinary people the reply, 'INFIDEL'.
-November 14, 1903, Daily News
But again, since the crank has not a true creed, but only an intellectual itch, he cares much more to be up and doing than to understand what he has done.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

[...] even to this day it is interesting to remark how thoroughly important are the things that are sold cheap. The universe itself was sold to us very cheap; in fact, between ourselves, we got it for nothing.
-May 25, 1904, Daily News

Saturday, January 26, 2019

[...] persecution must how have a modern pretext; and as long as it has that people seem to care little about it.
-March 30, 1907, Illustrated London News

Friday, January 25, 2019

I might inform those humanitarians who have a nightmare of new and needless babies (for some humanitarians have that sort of horror of humanity) that if the recent decline in the birth-rate were continued for a certain time, it might end in there being no babies at all; which would console them very much.
–May 24, 1930, Illustrated London News

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

It is counted a sort of madness to say that black is white; but it is considered nowadays a natural scepticism to say that black is gray- and still more to say that white is grey.
-January 11, 1919, Illustrated London News

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

But when any part of the general public is drawn into a debate on physical science, we may be certain that it has already become a debate on moral science.
-All Is Grist (1931)

Monday, January 21, 2019

"...to be modern is to idolatrise one century out of many."

Free-thinking (or re-thinking, which is a better word for it) is not, then, a thing which every man should do everywhere. But when a man does do it, it should be thorough and sweeping and searching. It should not be content with doubting a few old doctrines which a man has heard doubted; it should doubt the things that have never been doubted, or it is useless. A man should question his unconscious convictions, as well as his conscious ones. For a man is conscious of the past, but unconscious of the present [....]

[...] He must, in a word, not be modern; for to be modern is to idolatrise one century out of many. He must be outside centuries, living by the immortal mind.

This is the grand and noble and invaluable thing called Free Thought, of which no praise can conceivably be excessive. But it happens that it is the fact, accidental enough perhaps, that of all the free-thinkers I have known, very few indeed have done anything of this sort, or shown any disposition to do so: most of them are imprisoned in their hats. And those that have done so have in number of cases become...but I will not be controversial.
-September 30, 1905, Daily News

Sunday, January 20, 2019

In a popular magazine there is one of the usual articles about criminology; about whether wicked men could be made good if their heads were taken to pieces. As by far the wickedest men I know of are much too rich and powerful ever to submit to the process, the speculation leaves me cold. I always notice with pain, however, a curious absence of the portraits of living millionaires from such galleries of awful examples; most of the portraits in which we are called upon to remark the line of the nose or the curve of the forehead appear to be the portraits of ordinary sane men, who stole because they were hungry or killed because they were in a rage. The physical peculiarity seems to vary infinitely; sometimes it is the remarkable square head, sometimes it is the unmistakable round head; sometimes the learned draw attention to the abnormal development, sometimes to the striking deficiency of the back of the head. I have tried to discover what is the invariable factor, the one permanent mark of the scientific criminal type; after exhaustive classification I have come to the conclusion that it consists in being poor.
-Alarms and Discursions (1910)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

"the Family....now never mentioned in respectable circles."

[...] my own remedies [...] would involve indecent allusions to a [...] thing called the Family; now never mentioned in respectable circles.
-All I Survey (1933)

Friday, January 18, 2019

[...] the most ignorant of humanity know by the very look of earth that they have forgotten heaven.
-The Everlasting Man (1925)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

[...] every "reform" to-day is a treaty between the two most influential modern figures- the great capitalist and the small faddist.
-Fancies Versus Fads (1923)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The true religion is not that which has no difficulties. It is that which has difficulties where common sense has difficulties. We have to swallow mysteries with it. But we have to swallow the same mysteries without it.
-November 28, 1903, Daily News

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A politician with a future means a politician with a forgotten past.
-January 28, 1920, New Witness

Monday, January 14, 2019

"...the frightful punishment of mere sex emancipation....is not anarchy but bureaucracy."

[...] supposing that the extreme anarchist school could prevail in a sort of universal riot of promiscuity, the result could only be that the whole new generation of humanity would be thrown on the resources of the only thing which could be considered responsible for them [...] the frightful punishment of mere sex emancipation [...] is not anarchy but bureaucracy [...] The total control of human life will pass to the state; and it will be a very Totalitarian State.
January 4, 1936, Illustrated London News

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The modern industrial world is not in the least democratic; but it is supposed to be democratic, or supposed to be trying to be democratic. The ninth century, the time of the Norse invasions, was not saintly in the sense of being filled with saints; it was filled with pirates and petty tyrants, and the first feudal anarchy. But sanctity was the only ideal those barbarians had, when they had any at all. And democracy is the only ideal the industrial millions have, when they have any at all. Sanctity was the light of the Dark Ages, or if you will the dream of the Dark Ages. And democracy is the dream of the dark age of industrialism; if it be very much of a dream. It is this which prophets promise to achieve, and politicians pretend to achieve, and poets sometimes desire to achieve, and sometimes only desire to desire. In a word, an equal citizenship is quite the reverse of the reality in the modern world; but it is still the ideal in the modern world. At any rate it has no other ideal. If the figure that has alighted on the column in the Place de la Bastille be indeed the spirit of liberty, it must see a million growths in a modern city to make it wish to fly back again into heaven. But our secular society would not know what goddess to put on the pillar in its place.
-The New Jerusalem (1920)

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Of this childish monopoly of things purely human there are many examples. But certainly the most remarkable example is the institution called "play." There is nothing in the slightest degree childish, as the word is ordinarily understood, about the institution of play. It differs from all the other arts only in being more serious and direct; it differs from all the other games only in being more varied and poetical. When a grown-up person has an artistic idea he or she scrawls it down in a set of ugly hieroglyphics on a piece of paper and gives it to somebody else to take care of and turn into other and uglier hieroglyphics; or else he takes a stick of burnt wood or a mess of coloured pastes and plasters on to a piece of canvas a laborious and inadequate picture of what he means. A child simply thinks of the idea and performs it. If he thinks of a fight with swords, for example, he does not write and re-write and correct a piece of artificial prose about “ringing parries” and “dazzling thrusts in carte.” He does not mix three kinds of white and four kinds of blue in order to imitate the gleam of sunlight on steel. He simply fights with swords. My present contention is not merely that this conduct of the child is more picturesque, more amusing, more poetical, for of this almost all modern writers are fully aware. My contention at present is that it is much more human, much more sensible, much more sane. The conduct of a child who, the moment he thinks of a man in a hat and cloak, puts on a hat and cloak, appears to me preferable to the conduct of the adult artist simply because it is so much more reasonable. If, as one of us walks down the street, it suddenly strikes him how magnificent it would be to lunge and guard with his umbrella like a sword, why should he not lunge and guard with his umbrella? It is a much more serious and creditable proceeding than reading up irrelevant fact in the British Museum in order to write an ephemeral story about someone else lunging and guarding.
-November 16, 1901, The Speaker

Friday, January 11, 2019


While the modern public, with a kind of crude courage and good-will, build schools and more schools, and yet more schools, votes grants, and more grants, and yet more grants, serves our education to everyone everywhere as if education were something as plain and homogeneous as so much cheese, inquirers of the type of Miss [Charlotte] Mason are studying the first principles of education on which the good or ill of all this action rests with a care that may be called laboriousness and a calm that might almost be called scepticism. The contrast between the two spirits is odd and a little disquieting. The slow and deliberate theories are embodied in educational articles. The hasty and fleeting theories are embodied in enormous buildings of brick and stone. The more tested and less doubtful doctrines are printed in books which scarcely anybody reads. The less tested and doubtful theories are embodied in Acts of Parliament that everybody has to obey. Nothing can breed more strange doubts in the mind than the contemplation of so much responsibility in private and so much frivolity in public. We hear little but derision directed towards the old fathers and heresiarchs, who tore theories to shreds before they would proceed to the smallest practical reform, but if there be little doubt that they erred on one side I fancy there is even less doubt that we err on the other. No doubt it is a very legitimate and beautiful object to proceed rapidly from theory to execution; but to rush at the execution and then go on to the theory is not legitimate or beautiful; but it is the indwelling principle of modern politics and modern education. It is very fine to aim at having a thing established a week after it has been discovered to be good. But the aim of many advanced persons to-day is to have a thing established a week before it is discovered to be bad.
-May 13, 1905, Daily News

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The whole of the modern attack upon marriage and the family is in its inmost nature plutocratic.
-A Handful of Authors (1953)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

This is indeed the most bountiful of all the functions of the poet, that he gives men words, for which men from the beginning of the world have starved more than for bread.
-Robert Browning (1903)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Let a man have what ideal [..] he likes. That ideal must still consist of elements in a certain proportion; and if that proportion is disturbed the ideal is destroyed [...] Progress, in the good sense, does not consist in looking for a direction in which one can go on indefinitely. For there is no such direction, unless it be in quite transcendental things, like the love of God.
 -Fancies versus Fads (1923)

Monday, January 7, 2019

The policeman at the corner of the street is a paradox; he seems to be wholly unconscious of how wild, how fantastic, even how jocular a figure he is. For it is surely a paradox that each one of us should be restricted by his power, in order that each one of us should be free.
-December 25, 1901, Daily News

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Lord Ivywood shared the mental weakness of most men who have fed on books; he ignored, not the value but the very existence of other forms of information.
-The Flying Inn (1914)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

From Maisie Ward's book Return to Chesterton (p. 75):
To [Chesterton's] friends his ways seemed amusing, to strangers puzzling or even alarming. A policeman called one day in the country to say to Mr. Mills: "Is the gentleman all right who's staying with you? He's been seen going about with a drawn sword."

Friday, January 4, 2019

There was always a dim element of irony and doubt mixed with popular poetry and popular religion. But journalism demands blind and prostrate faith. And journalism seems to get it.
-January 22, 1910, Illustrated London News

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Our great difficulty in the educated classes to-day is that we are willing to admit that the poor are wronged as long as we have also a fundamental feeling that they are wrong. I mean that we will admit that people are forced lower than the right human level- so long as it is admitted that we are the right human level.
-September 9, 1911, Daily News

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

If a sentiment is legitimate at all, it must be legitimate in its nature, and not merely in the accident of its being our own.
-January 6, 1903, Daily News

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Guy Fawkes

I am not sure who it is who holds the cup or shield for this season as being the historical character who really wrote Shakespeare. I mean in that world of learned disputants who only agree on the first principle that Shakespeare could not write Shakespeare. [...] Personally, I believe the plays were written by Guy Fawkes. The proofs are innumerable. I have not even attempted to number them-or, as yet, to think of them. But I am sure there are a great many; there always are. Even at the moment, for instance, it occurs to me as significant that Shakespeare is criticised for one particular anachronism. He is criticised for having introduced gunpowder into an ancient Roman play. Guy Fawkes, no doubt, could not enjoy or even imagine any play without gunpowder. Moreover, Shakespeare's ancient Roman plays are full of the idea of revolution and civil war; and in such an excitement the great conspirator would have been carried away by his monomania and let off his fireworks almost without knowing it. Then there thronged to my support all the many arguments adduced to show that Shakespeare was of the old religion, or at least had some tenderness for it. It is no longer surprising that the dramatist should have a weakness for Friars. It is not unnatural that Guy Fawkes should make the Ghost testify quite clearly to Purgatory and the Sacrament of Penance. The preoccupation of the dramatist with palace revolutions and the murder of Princes is notorious. The true Bacanonian-or rather Post-Baconian-critic would not stop here. He would show an unexpected meaning in all the passages which have hitherto been dismissed as no better than mere masterpieces of literature. "Out, out, brief candle," would obviously refer to some experience in the vaults. And that vision of radiant dissolution, in which the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, leave not a wrack behind, expresses in anticipation the dizzy exultation at the destruction of Parliament. Nothing more is needed but a cryptogram-and anybody can find that.

[..] My suggestion about Guy Fawkes will hardly be given its due weight by serious scholars, I fear; and some may even suspect me of a lack of sympathy with this critical method.
-December 13, 1924, Illustrated London News