G. K. Chesterton Quotes

Most popular G. K. Chesterton Quotes

Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

Adulthood children parenting

A yawn is a silent shout.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Infinite Riches: Gems from a Lifetime of Reading)
Art is the signature of man.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)

art

Silence is the unbearable repartee.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Charles Dickens: A Critical Study)

silence

Progress is the mother of Problems.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Illustrated London News)

progress

Materialists and madmen never have doubts.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

confidence

The true object of all human life is play.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor poetry.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Defendant)

slang

Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

psychology

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

atheist God

All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Defendant)

metaphor

People generally quarrel because they cannot argue.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (More Quotable Chesterton)

arguments quarrels

Truths turn into dogmas the moment they are disputed.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Reader’s Digest)

golf

It is easy to be solemn, it is so hard to be frivolous.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

adversity

Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

funny

Artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

artists

Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

art

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
A paradox is a truth standing on its head to gain attention.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

paradox truth

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Alarms and Discursions)

cheese

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

imagination

Research is the search of people who don't know what they want.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The G. K. Chesterton Calendar)

research

Ingratitude is surely the chief of the intellectual sins of man.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Robert Browning)

ingratitude

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

religion

It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

religion

To say that a man is an idealist is merely to say that he is a man.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

idealist

The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

confidence

The world will never starve for wonder; but only for want of wonder.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
A great classic means a man whom one can praise without having read.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All Things Considered)

classics

A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

intelligence

Happiness is a mystery like religion, and should never be rationalized.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

happiness

Happiness is a mystery, like religion, and should never be rationalized.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Heretics)

happiness

A figure of speech can often get into a crack too small for a definition.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

figurative language

One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

patience time

Paradox has been defined as "Truth standing on her head to get attention."
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond)

paradox

Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Heretics)

expectation

A businessman is the only man who is forever apologizing for his occupation.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

work

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (in The New York Times)

indignation

Wit is a sword; it is meant to make people feel the point as well as see it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (T. P.’s Weekly)

wit

Grey is a color that always seems on the eve of changing to some other color.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Alarms and Discursions)
The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)

wonder

Tradition does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

reason truth

When you have really exhausted an experience you always reverence and love it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (A Miscellany of Men)

experience

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

morals

It seems a pity that psychology has destroyed all our knowledge of human nature.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Observer)

psychology

There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

persuasion

There is but an inch of difference between a cushioned chamber and a padded cell.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

insanity

Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

art

A man is angry at a libel because it is false, but at a satire because it is true.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Twelve Types)

satire

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Heretics)

hope

The mere brute pleasure of readingβ€”the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (G. K. Chesterton)

reading

What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Sidelights on New London and Newer New York)

criticism

Adventure is the champagne of life, but I prefer my adventures and my champagne dry.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (A Shilling for My Thoughts)

adventure

We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

brotherhood of man

Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Observer)

education

The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence. It may be a theatrical "encore."
β€” G. K. Chesterton

nature

Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

logic truth

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

ego the self

Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

helping others

One may understand the cosmos, but never the self; the self is more distant than any star.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

virtue

Is ditchwater dull? Naturalists with microscopes have told me that it teems with quiet fun.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

science

The true object of all human life is play.  Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All Things Considered)

play

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

religion

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

education funny

If prosperity is regarded as the reward of virtue it will be regarded as the symptom of virtue.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (G. K. C. as M. C.)

prosperity virtue

Most Americans...have a sort of permanent intoxication from within, a sort of invisible champagne.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (in The New York Times)

America

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Heretics)

books novels

The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All Things Considered)

courage

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year, it is that we should have a new soul.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Wit and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton)

new year

There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

hope

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

democracy

An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

adventure comfort

Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)

bravery

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (A Short History of England)

gratitude thankfulness

Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

tradition

When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The New Age)

gift

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

adventure

Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

fiction history

There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats Grape Nuts on principle.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

character

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classesβ€”our ancestors.  It is the democracy of the dead.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

tradition

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

attitude

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.  An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All Things Considered)

adventure

The most important things are always said by signs. If people do not understand signs they will never understand words.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

body language speech

Betting and such sports are only the stunted and twisted shapes of the original instinct of man for adventure and romance.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

gambling

The home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure. It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

home

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

funny

If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

change

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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

action fate

I do not believe in a fate that falls on people however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)

Travel

In the end it will not matter to us whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on what side we fought.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

principles

The man who sees the consistency in things is a witβ€” and a Calvinist. The man who sees the inconsistency in things is a humorist.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

humor

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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

health

A great deal of contemporary criticism reads to me like a man saying: "Of course I do not like green cheese; I am very fond of brown sherry."
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All I Survey)

criticism

The trouble about always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Come to Think of It)

health

The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Fancies Versus Fads)

growth progress

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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Illustrated London News)

error

The first fact about the celebration of a birthday is that it is a way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (G. K.’s Weekly)

birthday

"My country, right or wrong" is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying except in a desperate case.  It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober."
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Defendant)

nationalism patriotism

Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

charity

Evil always wins through the strength of its splendid dupes; and there has in all ages been a disastrous alliance between abnormal innocence and abnormal sin.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State)

evil innocence

Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (What's Wrong with the World?)

compromise

The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton)

appreciation

A stiff apology is a second insult... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

apologies

A stiff apology is a second insult....  The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Common Man)

apology

I distrust Great Men.  They produce a desert of uniformity around them and often a pool of blood too, and I always feel a little man's pleasure when they come a cropper.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Two Cheers for Democracy)

greatness

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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All Things Considered)

manners morals

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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

health

Man does not live on soap alone; and hygiene, or even health, is not much good unless you can take a healthy view of itβ€”or, better still, feel a healthy indifference to it.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (All I Survey)

health

The power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.  God has kept that good wine until now.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Charles Dickens: A Critical Study)

middle age

The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in fairy books, 'charm,' 'spell,' 'enchantment.' They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery.
β€” G. K. Chesterton
There are two kinds of people in the world: the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists.  I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Generally Speaking)

dogma

The real difficulty of man is not to enjoy lamp-posts or landscapes, not to enjoy dandelions or chops, but to enjoy enjoyment.  That is the practical problem which the philosopher has to solve.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton)

enjoyment

He thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind.  Whereas I am incurable convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (G. K. Chesterton: The Autobiography)

mind

There are dark and morbid moods in which I am tempted to feel that Evil re-entered the world in the form of Essays.  The Essay is like the Serpent, smooth and graceful and easy of movement, also wavering and wandering.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Illustrated London News)

essays

The two things that nearly all of us have thoroughly and really been through are childhood and youth.  And though we would not have them back again on any account, we feel that they are both beautiful, because we have drunk them dry.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (A Miscellany of Men)

childhood youth

My friend said that he opened his intellect as the sun opens the fans of a palm tree, opening for opening's sake, opening infinitely for ever.  But I said that I opened my intellect as I opened my mouth, in order to shut it again on something solid.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)

intellect

Laughter has something in it in common with the ancient winds of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves; something . . . that they cannot resist.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (The Common Man)

laughter

For us who live in cities Nature is not natural. Nature is supernatural. Just as monks watched and strove to get a glimpse of heaven, so we watch and strive to get a glimpse of earth. It is as if men had cake and wine every day but were sometimes allowed common bread.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

nature

There is no perfectly epicurean corner; there is no perfectly irresponsible place. Everywhere men have made the way for us with sweat and submission. We may fling ourselves into a hammock in a fit of divine carelessness. But we are glad that the netmaker did not make the hammock in a fit of divine carelessness.
β€” G. K. Chesterton

quality

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; 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.
β€” G. K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)