Quotes by Gilbert K. Chesterton

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Chesterton, G(ilbert) K(eith). Born May 29, 1874, London, England. Died June 14, 1936, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. A British man of letters. Chesterton was a journalist, a scholar, a novelist and short-story writer, and a poet. His works of social and literary criticism include Robert Browning (1903), Charles Dickens (1906), and The Victorian Age in Literature (1913). Even before his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1922, he was interested in theology and religious argument. His fiction includes The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), the popular allegorical novel The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), and his most successful creation, the series of detective novels featuring the priest-sleuth Father Brown. more

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The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them.

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.
One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.
The vulgar man is always the most distinguished, for the very desire to be distinguished is vulgar.
The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.
The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes -- our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.
Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past.
Men always talk about the most important things to perfect strangers. In the perfect stranger we perceive man himself; the image of a God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of wisdom of a mustache.
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords. Lords without anger and honor, who dare not carry their swords. They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes; They look at our labor and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
The most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men.
Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.
A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.
People accuse journalism of being too personal; but to me it has always seemed far too impersonal. It is charged with tearing away the veils from private life; but it seems to me to be always dropping diaphanous but blinding veils between men and men. The Yellow Press is abused for exposing facts which are private; I wish the Yellow Press did anything so valuable. It is exactly the decisive individual touches that it never gives; and a proof of this is that after one has met a man a million times in the newspapers it is always a complete shock and reversal to meet him in real life.
A large section of the intelligentsia seems wholly devoid of intelligence.
Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.
The timidity of the child or the savage is entirely reasonable; they are alarmed at this world, because this world is a very alarming place. They dislike being alone because it is verily and indeed an awful idea to be alone. Barbarians fear the unknown for the same reason that Agnostics worship it --because it is a fact.
It is as healthy to enjoy sentiment as to enjoy jam.
There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.
With any recovery from morbidity there must go a certain healthy humiliation.
Being contented ought to mean in English, as it does in French, being pleased. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it; it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a position.
True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.
I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.
The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid.
Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.
Boyhood is a most complex and incomprehensible thing. Even when one has been through it, one does not understand what it was. A man can never quite understand a boy, even when he has been the boy.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
The mere brute pleasure of reading --the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.
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.
Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament.
Do not free the camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.
Man seems to be capable of great virtues but not of small virtues; capable of defying his torturer but not of keeping his temper.
The chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a color. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.
People in high life are hardened to the wants and distresses of mankind as surgeons are to their bodily pains.
Truth must necessarily be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind and therefore congenial to it.
The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything.
Artistic temperament is the disease that afflicts amateurs.
We are justified in enforcing good morals, for they belong to all mankind; but we are not justified in enforcing good manners, for good manners always mean our own manners.
The Museum is not meant either for the wanderer to see by accident or for the pilgrim to see with awe. It is meant for the mere slave of a routine of self-education to stuff himself with every sort of incongruous intellectual food in one indigestible meal.
Your next-door neighbor is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.
Nothing is poetical if plain daylight is not poetical; and no monster should amaze us if the normal man does not amaze.
My country, right or wrong is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying My mother, drunk or sober.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
If the barricades went up in our streets and the poor became masters, I think the priests would escape, I fear the gentlemen would; but I believe the gutters would simply be running with the blood of philanthropists.
A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice.
The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.
Half a truth is better than no politics.
The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it.
Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.
Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.
A cosmic philosophy is not constructed to fit a man; a cosmic philosophy is constructed to fit a cosmos. A man can no more possess a private religion than he can possess a private sun and moon.
The worst of work nowadays is what happens to people when they cease to work.
The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.
Ritual will always mean throwing away something: destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.
The ordinary scientific man is strictly a sentimentalist. He is a sentimentalist in this essential sense, that he is soaked and swept away by mere associations.
Silence is the unbearable repartee.
All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.