Journalist, humorist, historian, theologian, social reformer, artist, and novelist, G. K. Chesterton died in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire on this day in 1936. A master of thoughtful epigrams and insightful paradoxes, he became--besides William Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson--the most quoted author in the English language. And for good reason. I could go on and on and on, but some of my favorite Chesterton quotes are:
Weak things must boast of being new, like so many new German philosophies. But strong things can boast of being old. Strong things can boast of being moribund.
Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all conquerors.
If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.
The Modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; but their truth is pitiless. And thus some humanitarians care only for pity; but their pity--I am sorry to say--is often untruthful.
The great intellectual tradition that comes down to us from the past was never interrupted or lost through such trifles as the sack of Rome, the triumph of Attila, or all the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. It was lost after the introduction of printing, the discovery of America, the founding of the Royal Society, and all the enlightenment of the Renaissance and the modern world. It was there, if anywhere, that there was lost or impatiently snapped the long thin delicate thread that had descended from distant antiquity; the thread of that unusual human hobby: the habit of thinking.
You cannot escape the revelation of the identical by taking refuge in the illusion of the multiple.
Despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been very democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty.
The fairy tale can be more sane about a seven-headed dragon than the Duchess of Somerset can be about a School Board.
I wonder at not wondering.