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G. K. Chesterton Quotes G. K. CHESTERTON QUOTES

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

English critic and author

Cruelty is, perhaps, the worst kind of sin.

G.K. CHESTERTON, All Things Considered

We ought to see far enough into a hypocrite to see even his sincerity.


All architecture is great architecture after sunset.

G.K. CHESTERTON, "The Giant," Tremendous Trifles

Pride juggles with her toppling towers,
They strike the sun and cease,
But the firm feet of humility
They grip the ground like trees.

G.K. CHESTERTON, The Ballad of the White Horse

Facts by themselves can often feed the flame of madness, because sanity is a spirit.

G.K. CHESTERTON, "On the Classics," Selected Essays

Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.

G.K. CHESTERTON, All Things Considered

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

G.K. CHESTERTON, Illustrated London News, Apr. 19, 1924

If we could destroy custom at a blow and see the stars as a child sees them, we should need no other apocalypse.

G.K. CHESTERTON, "A Defence of Baby-Worship"

I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.

G. K. CHESTERTON, What's Wrong with the World

We ought to be interested in that darkest and most real part of a man in which dwell not the vices that he does not display, but the virtues that he cannot.


Marriage is a sort of poetical see-saw.

G. K. CHESTERTON, What's Wrong with the World

The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Fancies Versus Fads

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.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

He who has no sympathy with myths has no sympathy with men

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Everlasting Man

Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The New Jerusalem

Without a gentle contempt for education, no gentleman's education is complete.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Common Man

The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.

G. K. CHESTERTON, "The Book of Job: An Introduction"

Madmen never have doubts.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Speaker, Dec. 15, 1900

Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Napoleon of Notting Hill

Earth will grow worse till men redeem it,
And wars more evil, ere all wars cease.

G. K. CHESTERTON, A Song of Defeat

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Heretics

It is a strange thing that many truly spiritual men, such as General Gordon, have actually spent some hours in speculating upon the precise location of the Garden of Eden. Most probably we are in Eden still. It is only our eyes that have changed.

G. K. CHESTERTON, introduction, The Defendant

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.

G. K. CHESTERTON, "The Advantages of Having One Leg," On Lying in Bed and Other Essays

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Illustrated London News, Apr. 29, 1922

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

G. K. CHESTERTON, A Short History of England

For the enjoyment of the artist the mask must be to some extent moulded 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.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Dagger with Wings

There is something to be said for every error; but, whatever may be said for it, the most important thing to be said about it is that it is erroneous.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Illustrated London News, Apr. 25, 1931

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Heretics

Art is the signature of man.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Everlasting Man

It might reasonably be maintained that the true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. To be at last in such secure innocence that one can juggle with the universe and the stars, to be so good that one can treat everything as a joke — that may be, perhaps, the real end and final holiday of human souls.

G. K. CHESTERTON, "Oxford from Without," All Things Considered

The sincere love of books has nothing to do with cleverness or stupidity any more than any other sincere love. It is a quality of character, a freshness, a power of pleasure, a power of faith. A silly person may delight in reading masterpieces just as a silly person may delight in picking flowers. A fool may be in love with a poet as he may be in love with a woman.

G. K. CHESTERTON, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," On Lying in Bed and Other Essays

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Ball and the Cross

I have investigated the dust-heaps of humanity, and found a treasure in all of them. I have found that humanity is not incidentally engaged, but eternally and systematically engaged, in throwing gold into the gutter and diamonds into the sea.

G. K. CHESTERTON, introduction, The Defendant

Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Man Who Was Thursday

The philosophy of this world may be founded on facts, but its business is run on spiritual impressions and atmospheres.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Club of Queer Trades

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Heretics

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Illustrated London News, Jul. 16, 1910

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Collected Works of G. K. CHESTERTON

Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.

G. K. CHESTERTON, George Bernard Shaw

The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.

G. K. CHESTERTON, "The Blue Cross," The Innocence of Father Brown

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Heretics

I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.

G. K. CHESTERTON, Illustrated London News, Jun. 3, 1922

The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.


An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.

G. K. CHESTERTON, All Things Considered

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.

G. K. CHESTERTON, The Everlasting Man

G.K. Chesterton Poems - a collection of his poetry.

G.K. Chesterton Bibliography - a bibliography, including list of critical resources.


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