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)

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"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.




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

Play

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

Education

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