English Journalist, Humorist, Essayist, Novelist and Poet
G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton
English Journalist, Humorist, Essayist, Novelist and Poet
Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction; for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.
We are talking about an artist; and for the enjoyment of the artist the mask must be to some extent molded on the face. What he makes outside him must correspond to something inside him; he can only make his effects out of some of the materials of his soul.
We should admire the chivalry of the Chinese conception of a god who fell from the sky to fight the dragons and save the wicked from being devoured by their own fault and folly. We should admire the subtlety of the Chinese view of life, which perceives that all human imperfection is in very truth a crying imperfection.
To do Mohammed justice, his main attack was against the idolatries of Asia. Only he thought, just as the Arians did and just as the Unitarians do, that he could attack them better with a greater approximation to plain theism. What distinguishes his heresy from anything like an Arian or Albigensian heresy is that, as it sprang up on the borders of Christendom, it could spread outwards to a barbaric world.
Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion. And the skepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape. We who are Liberals once held Liberalism lightly as a truism. Now it has been disputed, and we hold it fiercely as a faith. We who believe in patriotism once thought patriotism to be reasonable, and thought little more about it. Now we know it to be unreasonable, and know it to be right. We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us. The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.
We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.
To have seen you and your unforgotten face, brave as a blast of trumpets for the fray, pure as white lilies in a watery space, it were something, though you went from me today. To have known the things that from the weak are furled, perilous ancient passions, strange and high; it is something to be wiser than the world, it is something to be older than the sky.
Truths turn into dogmas the minute they are disputed.
We do not admire, we hardly excuse, the fanatic who wrecks this world for love of the other. But what are we to say of the fanatic who wrecks this world out of hatred of the other? He sacrifices the very existence of humanity to the non-existence of God. He offers his victims not to the altar, but merely to assert the idleness of the altar and the emptiness of the throne. He is ready to ruin even that primary ethic by which all things live, for his strange and eternal vengeance upon some one who never lived at all.
To hurry through one’s leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions.
Variability is one of the virtues of a woman. It avoids the crude requirement of polygamy. So long as you have one good wife you are sure to have a spiritual harem.
We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. To say that a man is an idealist is merely to say that he is a man.
Very few people in the world would care to listen to the real defense of their own characters. The real defense, the defense which belongs to the Day of Judgment, would make such damaging admissions, would clear away so many artificial virtues, would tell such tragedies of weakness and failure, that a man would sooner be misunderstood and censured by the world than exposed to that awful and merciless eulogy.
We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.
To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea.
Very few reputations are gained by unsullied virtue.
We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man's terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.
Tolerance is the virtue of men who don't believe in anything.
Wait and see whether the religion of the Servile State is not in every case what I say: the encouragement of small virtues supporting capitalism, the discouragement of the huge virtues that defy it.
We have come to the wrong star... That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. The true happiness is that we don't fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way.
Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.
War is not ‘the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.
We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera.
Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.