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G. K. Chesterton 1874–1936
English essayist, novelist, and poet 

  1. I tell you naught for your comfort,
    Yea, naught for your desire.
    The Ballad of the White Horse (1911) bk. 1
  2. For the great Gaels of Ireland
    Are the men that God made mad,
    For all their wars are merry,
    And all their songs are sad.
    The Ballad of the White Horse (1911) bk. 2
  3. The thing on the blind side of the heart,
    On the wrong side of the door,
    The green plant groweth, menacing
    Almighty lovers in the Spring;
    There is always a forgotten thing,
    And love is not secure.
    The Ballad of the White Horse (1911) bk. 3
  4. With monstrous head and sickening cry
    And ears like errant wings,
    The devil's walking parody
    On all four-footed things.
    ‘The Donkey’ (1900)
  5. Fools! For I also had my hour;
    One far fierce hour and sweet:
    There was a shout about my ears,
    And palms before my feet.
    ‘The Donkey’ (1900)
  6. From all that terror teaches,
    From lies of tongue and pen,
    From all the easy speeches
    That comfort cruel men,
    From sale and profanation
    Of honour and the sword,
    From sleep and from damnation,
    Deliver us, good Lord!
    ‘A Hymn’ (1915)
  7. White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
    And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run.
    ‘Lepanto’ (1915)
  8. The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
    The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass.
    ‘Lepanto’ (1915)
  9. The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
    That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
    ‘Lepanto’ (1915)
  10. Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
    Don John of Austria is going to the war.
    ‘Lepanto’ (1915)
  11. Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
    The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
    ‘The Rolling English Road’ (1914)
  12. The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
    ‘The Rolling English Road’ (1914)
  13. For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
    Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.
    ‘The Rolling English Road’ (1914)
  14. Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.
    For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
    ‘The Secret People’ (1915)
  15. Tea, although an Oriental,
    Is a gentleman at least;
    Cocoa is a cad and coward,
    Cocoa is a vulgar beast.
    ‘Song of Right and Wrong’ (1914)
  16. And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
    ‘I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.’
    ‘Wine and Water’ (1914)
  17. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
    All Things Considered (1908)
  18. An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
    All Things Considered (1908) ‘On Running after one's Hat’
  19. If [human life] depends on anything, it is on this frail cord, flung from the forgotten hills of yesterday to the invisible mountains of tomorrow.
    on the promise
    The Appetite of Tyranny (1915)
  20. am in market harborough. where ought i to be?
    telegram sent to his wife in London
    Autobiography (1936)
  21. There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.
    The Defendant (1901)
  22. Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
    The Defendant (1901) ‘A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls’
  23. ‘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’.
    The Defendant (1901) ‘Defence of Patriotism’
  24. A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.
    The Everlasting Man (1925); see Muggeridge
  25. There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.
    Heretics (1905) ch. 3
  26. We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour.
    Heretics (1905) ch. 14
  27. A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
    Heretics (1905) ch. 15
  28. Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions.
    Heretics (1905) ch. 20
  29. After the first silence the small man said to the other: ‘Where does a wise man hide a pebble?’
    And the tall man answered in a low voice: ‘On the beach.’
    The small man nodded, and after a short silence said: ‘Where does a wise man hide a leaf?’
    And the other answered: ‘In the forest.’
    The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
  30. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.
    The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)
  31. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
    The Man who was Thursday (1908) ch. 4
  32. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.
    The Man who was Thursday (1908) ch. 11
  33. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.
    Orthodoxy (1908) ch. 2
  34. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.
    Orthodoxy (1908) ch. 2
  35. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.
    Orthodoxy (1908) ch. 4
  36. Democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.
    Orthodoxy (1908) ch. 4
  37. All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change.
    Orthodoxy (1908) ch. 7
  38. It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.
    The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
  39. Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.
    Tremendous Trifles (1909) ‘On Lying in Bed’
  40. The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.
    Tremendous Trifles (1909) ‘The Prehistoric Railway Station’
  41. Fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St George to kill the dragon.
    Tremendous Trifles (1909) ‘The Red Angel’
  42. 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.
    Tremendous Trifles (1909) ‘The Riddle of the Ivy’
  43. Hardy went down to botanize in the swamp, while Meredith climbed towards the sun. Meredith became, at his best, a sort of daintily dressed Walt Whitman: Hardy became a sort of village atheist brooding and blaspheming over the village idiot.
    The Victorian Age in Literature (1912)
  44. He could not think up to the height of his own towering style.
    of Tennyson
    The Victorian Age in Literature (1912) ch. 3
  45. Your next-door neighbour…is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a pianola; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.
    The Uses of Diversity (1920)
  46. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.
    What's Wrong with the World (1910) pt. 1 ‘The Unfinished Temple’
  47. The prime truth of woman, the universal mother…that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.
    What's Wrong with the World (1910) pt. 4 ‘Folly and Female Education’
  48. To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it.
    The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
  49. Journalism largely consists in saying ‘Lord Jones Dead’ to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive.
    The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
  50. If there were no coincidence, it would be the greatest coincidence of all.
    ‘The Human Will and the Decline of Empire’ in Illustrated London News 4 August 1906
  51. The detective story differs from every other story in this: that the reader is only happy if he feels a fool.
    ‘The Ideal Detective Story’ in Illustrated London News 25 October 1930
  52. Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
    in New York Times 1 February 1931, pt. 5
  53. When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.
    widely attributed, although not traced in his works; first recorded as ‘The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything’ in Emile Cammaerts Chesterton: The Laughing Prophet (1937)