Famous Quotes By Gilbert K. Chesterton


  1. A good novel tells us the truth about its hero but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
  2. A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over... is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.
  3. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.
  4. A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.
  5. All architecture is great architecture after sunset perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.
  6. 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.
  7. All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.
  8. Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
  9. Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
  10. Brave men are all vertebrates they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.
  11. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.
  12. Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
  13. Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
  14. Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.
  15. Experience which was once claimed by the aged is now claimed exclusively by the young.
  16. Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.
  17. Half a truth is better than no politics.
  18. Happiness is a mystery, like religion, and should never be rationalised.
  19. Happy is he who still loves something he loved in the nursery: He has not been broken in two by time he is not two men, but one, and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
  20. 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.
  21. I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.
  22. I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.
  23. I was planning to go into architecture. But when I arrived, architecture was filled up. Acting was right next to it, so I signed up for acting instead.
  24. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
  25. If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.
  26. In matters of truth the fact that you don't want to publish something is, nine times out of ten, a proof that you ought to publish it.
  27. It is not funny that anything else should fall down only that a man should fall down. Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.
  28. It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
  29. Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
  30. Love means to love that which is unlovable or it is no virtue at all.
  31. Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.
  32. Man does not live by soap alone and hygiene, or even health, is not much good unless you can take a healthy view of it or, better still, feel a healthy indifference to it.
  33. Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.
  34. Man seems to be capable of great virtues but not of small virtues capable of defying his torturer but not of keeping his temper.
  35. Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.
  36. 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.
  37. Men feel that cruelty to the poor is a kind of cruelty to animals. They never feel that it is an injustice to equals nay it is treachery to comrades.
  38. Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.
  39. No man who worships education has got the best out of education... Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete.
  40. 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.
  41. One sees great things from the valley only small things from the peak.
  42. People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.
  43. Science in the modern world has many uses its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.
  44. Some men never feel small, but these are the few men who are.
  45. The family is the test of freedom because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.
  46. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything.
  47. The most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men.
  48. The only defensible war is a war of defense.
  49. The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.
  50. The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
  51. The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense.
  52. The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
  53. The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.
  54. The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden heaven is a playground.
  55. The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.
  56. 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.
  57. The word 'good' has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.
  58. There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.
  59. There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
  60. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
  61. To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it.
  62. To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
  63. 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 that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.
  64. 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.
  65. 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.
  66. We make our friends we make our enemies but God makes our next door neighbour.
  67. What affects men sharply about a foreign nation is not so much finding or not finding familiar things it is rather not finding them in the familiar place.
  68. When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
  69. When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?
  70. White... is not a mere absence of colour it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black... God paints in many colours but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.
  71. Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
  72. Women prefer to talk in twos, while men prefer to talk in threes.
  73. Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.

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