270 Works of G. K. Chesterton
Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among whom the man we must follow was by no means conspicuous — nor wished to be. There was nothing notable about him, except a slight contrast between the [...]
In the cool blue twilight of two steep streets in Camden Town, the shop at the corner, a confectioner’s, glowed like the butt of a cigar. One should rather say, perhaps, like the butt of a firework, for the light was of many colours and some complexity, broken up by many mirrors and dancing on [...]
“The most beautiful crime I ever committed,” Flambeau would say in his highly moral old age, “was also, by a singular coincidence, my last. It was committed at Christmas. As an artist I had always attempted to provide crimes suitable to the special season or landscapes in which I found myself, choosing this or that [...]
Aristide Valentin, Chief of the Paris Police, was late for his dinner, and some of his guests began to arrive before him. These were, however, reassured by his confidential servant, Ivan, the old man with a scar, and a face almost as grey as his moustaches, who always sat at a table in the entrance [...]
If you meet a member of that select club, “The Twelve True Fishermen,” entering the Vernon Hotel for the annual club dinner, you will observe, as he takes off his overcoat, that his evening coat is green and not black. If (supposing that you have the star-defying audacity to address such a being) you ask [...]
A stormy evening of olive and silver was closing in, as Father Brown, wrapped in a grey Scotch plaid, came to the end of a grey Scotch valley and beheld the strange castle of Glengyle. It stopped one end of the glen or hollow like a blind alley; and it looked like the end of [...]
Certain of the great roads going north out of London continue far into the country a sort of attenuated and interrupted spectre of a street, with great gaps in the building, but preserving the line. Here will be a group of shops, followed by a fenced field or paddock, and then a famous public-house, and [...]
When Flambeau took his month’s holiday from his office in Westminster he took it in a small sailing-boat, so small that it passed much of its time as a rowing-boat. He took it, moreover, in little rivers in the Eastern counties, rivers so small that the boat looked like a magic boat, sailing on land [...]
The little village of Bohun Beacon was perched on a hill so steep that the tall spire of its church seemed only like the peak of a small mountain. At the foot of the church stood a smithy, generally red with fires and always littered with hammers and scraps of iron; opposite to this, over [...]
That singular smoky sparkle, at once a confusion and a transparency, which is the strange secret of the Thames, was changing more and more from its grey to its glittering extreme as the sun climbed to the zenith over Westminster, and two men crossed Westminster Bridge. One man was very tall and the other very [...]
The thousand arms of the forest were grey, and its million fingers silver. In a sky of dark green-blue-like slate the stars were bleak and brilliant like splintered ice. All that thickly wooded and sparsely tenanted countryside was stiff with a bitter and brittle frost. The black hollows between the trunks of the trees looked [...]
Both by calling and conviction Father Brown knew better than most of us, that every man is dignified when he is dead. But even he felt a pang of incongruity when he was knocked up at daybreak and told that Sir Aaron Armstrong had been murdered. There was something absurd and unseemly about secret violence [...]
Rabelais, or his wild illustrator Gustave Dore, must have had something to do with the designing of the things called flats in England and America. There is something entirely Gargantuan in the idea of economising space by piling houses on top of each other, front doors and all. And in the chaos and complexity of [...]
The revolt of Matter against Man (which I believe to exist) has now been reduced to a singular condition. It is the small things rather than the large things which make war against us and, I may add, beat us. The bones of the last mammoth have long ago decayed, a mighty wreck; the tempests [...]
Basil Grant and I were talking one day in what is perhaps the most perfect place for talking on earth–the top of a tolerably deserted tramcar. To talk on the top of a hill is superb, but to talk on the top of a flying hill is a fairy tale.
The vast blank space of North [...]
Lieutenant Drummond Keith was a man about whom conversation always burst like a thunderstorm the moment he left the room. This arose from many separate touches about him. He was a light, loose person, who wore light, loose clothes, generally white, as if he were in the tropics; he was lean and graceful, like a [...]
Basil Grant had comparatively few friends besides myself; yet he was the reverse of an unsociable man. He would talk to any one anywhere, and talk not only well but with perfectly genuine concern and enthusiasm for that person’s affairs. He went through the world, as it were, as if he were always on the [...]
The conversation of Rupert Grant had two great elements of interest–first, the long fantasias of detective deduction in which he was engaged, and, second, his genuine romantic interest in the life of London. His brother Basil said of him: “His reasoning is particularly cold and clear, and invariably leads him wrong. But his poetry comes [...]
THE consulting-rooms of Dr Orion Hood, the eminent criminologist and specialist in certain moral disorders, lay along the sea-front at Scarborough, in a series of very large and well-lighted french windows, which showed the North Sea like one endless outer wall of blue-green marble. In such a place the sea had something of the monotony [...]
THE great Muscari, most original of the young Tuscan poets, walked swiftly into his favourite restaurant, which overlooked the Mediterranean, was covered by an awning and fenced by little lemon and orange trees. Waiters in white aprons were already laying out on white tables the insignia of an early and elegant lunch; and this seemed [...]
M. MAURICE BRUN and M. Armand Armagnac were crossing the sunlit Champs Elysee with a kind of vivacious respectability. They were both short, brisk and bold. They both had black beards that did not seem to belong to their faces, after the strange French fashion which makes real hair look like artificial. M. Brun had [...]
FLAMBEAU and his friend the priest were sitting in the Temple Gardens about sunset; and their neighbourhood or some such accidental influence had turned their talk to matters of legal process. From the problem of the licence in cross-examination, their talk strayed to Roman and mediaeval torture, to the examining magistrate in France and the [...]
TWO men appeared simultaneously at the two ends of a sort of passage running along the side of the Apollo Theatre in the Adelphi. The evening daylight in the streets was large and luminous, opalescent and empty. The passage was comparatively long and dark, so each man could see the other as a mere black [...]
THERE is somewhere in Brompton or Kensington an interminable avenue of tall houses, rich but largely empty, that looks like a terrace of tombs. The very steps up to the dark front doors seem as steep as the side of pyramids; one would hesitate to knock at the door, lest it should be opened by [...]
MR EDWARD NUTT, the industrious editor of the Daily Reformer, sat at his desk, opening letters and marking proofs to the merry tune of a typewriter, worked by a vigorous young lady.
He was a stoutish, fair man, in his shirt-sleeves; his movements were resolute, his mouth firm and his tones final; but his round, rather [...]
FATHER BROWN was in no mood for adventures. He had lately fallen ill with over-work, and when he began to recover, his friend Flambeau had taken him on a cruise in a small yacht with Sir Cecil Fanshaw, a young Cornish squire and an enthusiast for Cornish coast scenery. But Brown was still rather weak; [...]
IT was one of those chilly and empty afternoons in early winter, when the daylight is silver rather than gold and pewter rather than silver. If it was dreary in a hundred bleak offices and yawning drawing-rooms, it was drearier still along the edges of the flat Essex coast, where the monotony was the more [...]
FATHER BROWN was walking home from Mass on a white weird morning when the mists were slowly lifting–one of those mornings when the very element of light appears as something mysterious and new. The scattered trees outlined themselves more and more out of the vapour, as if they were first drawn in grey chalk and [...]
MR CALHOUN KIDD was a very young gentleman with a very old face, a face dried up with its own eagerness, framed in blue-black hair and a black butterfly tie. He was the emissary in England of the colossal American daily called the Western Sun–also humorously described as the “Rising Sunset”. This was in allusion [...]
THE picturesque city and state of Heiligwaldenstein was one of those toy kingdoms of which certain parts of the German Empire still consist. It had come under the Prussian hegemony quite late in history–hardly fifty years before the fine summer day when Flambeau and Father Brown found themselves sitting in its gardens and drinking its [...]
Harold March and the few who cultivated the friendship of Horne Fisher, especially if they saw something of him in his own social setting, were conscious of a certain solitude in his very sociability. They seemed to be always meeting his relations and never meeting his family. Perhaps it would be truer to say that [...]
It was on the sunny veranda of a seaside hotel, overlooking a pattern of flower beds and a strip of blue sea, that Horne Fisher and Harold March had their final explanation, which might be called an explosion.
Harold March had come to the little table and sat down at it with a subdued excitement smoldering [...]
In an oasis, or green island, in the red and yellow seas of sand that stretch beyond Europe toward the sunrise, there can be found a rather fantastic contrast, which is none the less typical of such a place, since international treaties have made it an outpost of the British occupation. The site is famous [...]
A large map of London would be needed to display the wild and zigzag course of one day’s journey undertaken by an uncle and his nephew; or, to speak more truly, of a nephew and his uncle. For the nephew, a schoolboy on a holiday, was in theory the god in the car, or in [...]
Two men, the one an architect and the other an archaeologist, met on the steps of the great house at Prior’s Park; and their host, Lord Bulmer, in his breezy way, thought it natural to introduce them. It must be confessed that he was hazy as well as breezy, and had no very clear connection [...]
A thing can sometimes be too extraordinary to be remembered. If it is clean out of the course of things, and has apparently no causes and no consequences, subsequent events do not recall it, and it remains only a subconscious thing, to be stirred by some accident long after. It drifts apart like a forgotten [...]
Harold March, the rising reviewer and social critic, was walking vigorously across a great tableland of moors and commons, the horizon of which was fringed with the far-off woods of the famous estate of Torwood Park. He was a good-looking young man in tweeds, with very pale curly hair and pale clear eyes. Walking in [...]
This tale begins among a tangle of tales round a name that is at once recent and legendary. The name is that of Michael O’Neill, popularly called Prince Michael, partly because he claimed descent from ancient Fenian princes, and partly because he was credited with a plan to make himself prince president of Ireland, as [...]
Between a meadow and a cloud that spedIn rain and twilight, in desire and fear.I heard a secret–hearken in your ear,‘Behold the daisy has a ring of red.’
That hour, with half of blessing, half of ban,A great voice went through heaven, and earth and hell,Crying, ‘We are tricked, my great ones, is it well?Now is [...]
We came behind him by the wall,My brethren drew their brands,And they had strength to strike him down–And I to bind his hands.
Only once, to a lantern gleam,He turned his face from the wall,And it was as the accusing angel’s faceOn the day when the stars shall fall.
I grasped the axe with shaking hands,I stared [...]
Lo! very fair is she who knows the waysOf joy: in pleasure’s mocking wisdom old,The eyes that might be cold to flattery, kind;The hair that might be grey with knowledge, gold.
But thou art more than these things, O my queen,For thou art clad in ancient wars and tears.And looking forth, framed in the crown of [...]
On must we go: we search dead leaves,We chase the sunset’s saddest flames,The nameless hues that o’er and o’erIn lawless wedding lost their names.
God of the daybreak! Better beBlack savages; and grin to girdOur limbs in gaudy rags of red,The laughing-stock of brute and bird;
And feel again the fierce old feast,Blue for seven heavens that [...]
The wasting thistle whitens on my crest,The barren grasses blow upon my spear,A green, pale pennon: blazon of wild faithAnd love of fruitless things: yea, of my love,Among the golden loves of all the knights,Alone: most hopeless, sweet, and blasphemous,The love of God:I hear the crumbling creedsLike cliffs washed down by water, change, and pass;I [...]
A dark manor-house shuttered and unlighted, outlined against a pale sunset: in front a large, but neglected, garden. To the right, in the foreground, the porch of a chapel, with coloured windows lighted. Hymns within.
Above the porch a grotesque carved bracket, supporting a lantern. Astride of it sits CAPTAIN REDFEATHER, a flagon in his [...]
The sun was black with judgment, and the moonBlood: but betweenI saw a man stand, saying, ‘To me at leastThe grass is green.
‘There was no star that I forgot to fearWith love and wonder.The birds have loved me’; but no answer came–Only the thunder.
Once more the man stood, saying, ‘A cottage door,Wherethrough I gazedThat instant [...]
‘What of vile dust?’ the preacher said.Methought the whole world woke,The dead stone lived beneath my foot,And my whole body spoke.
‘You, that play tyrant to the dust,And stamp its wrinkled face,This patient star that flings you notFar into homeless space.
‘Come down out of your dusty shrineThe living dust to see,The flowers that at your sermon’s [...]
We will not let thee be, for thou art ours.We thank thee still, though thou forget these things,For that hour’s sake when thou didst wake all powersWith a great cry that God was sick of kings.
Leave thee there grovelling at their rusted greaves,These hulking cowards on a painted stage,Who, with imperial pomp and laurel leaves,Show [...]
All round they murmur, ‘O profane,Keep thy heart’s secret hid as gold’;But I, by God, would sooner beSome knight in shattering wars of old,
In brown outlandish arms to ride,And shout my love to every starWith lungs to make a poor maid’s nameDeafen the iron ears of war.
Here, where these subtle cowards crowd,To stand and so [...]
Five kings rule o’er the Amorite,Mighty as fear and old as night;Swathed with unguent and gold and jewel,Waxed they merry and fat and cruel.Zedek of Salem, a terror and glory,Whose face was hid while his robes were gory;And Hoham of Hebron, whose loathly face isHeavy and dark o’er the ruin of races;And Piram of Jarmuth, [...]
A bird flew out at the break of dayFrom the nest where it had curled,And ere the eve the bird had setFear on the kings of the world.
The first tree it lit uponWas green with leaves unshed;The second tree it lit uponWas red with apples red;
The third tree it lit uponWas barren and was brown,Save [...]
Name not his deed: in shuddering and in hasteWe dragged him darkly o’er the windy fell:That night there was a gibbet in the waste,And a new sin in hell.
Be his deed hid from commonwealths and kings,By all men born be one true tale forgot;But three things, braver than all earthly things,Faced him and feared him [...]
You that have snarled through the ages, take your answer and go–I know your hoary question, the riddle that all men know.You have weighed the stars in a balance, and grasped the skies in a span:Take, if you must have answer, the word of a common man.
Deep in my life lies buried one love unhealed, [...]
Laugh your best, O blazoned forests,Me ye shall not shift or shameWith your beauty: here among youMan hath set his spear of flame.
Lamp to lamp we send the signal,For our lord goes forth to war;Since a voice, ere stars were builded,Bade him colonise a star.
Laugh ye, cruel as the morning,Deck your heads with fruit and [...]
I dreamed a dream of heaven, white as frost,The splendid stillness of a living host;Vast choirs of upturned faces, line o’er line.Then my blood froze; for every face was mine.
Spirits with sunset plumage throng and pass,Glassed darkly in the sea of gold and glass.But still on every side, in every spot,I saw a million selves, [...]
Witness all: that unrepenting,Feathers flying, music high,I go down to death unshakenBy your mean philosophy.
For your wages, take my body,That at least to you I leave;Set the sulky plumes upon it,Bid the grinning mummers grieve.
Stand in silence: steep your raimentIn the night that hath no star;Don the mortal dress of devils,Blacker than their spirits are.
Before the grass grew over me,I knew one good man through and through,And knew a soul and body joinedAre stronger than the heavens are blue.
A wisdom worthy of thy joy,O great heart, read I as I ran;Now, though men smite me on the face,I cannot curse the face of man.
I loved the man I saw [...]
A child sits in a sunny place,Too happy for a smile,And plays through one long holidayWith balls to roll and pile;A painted wind-mill by his sideRuns like a merry tune,But the sails are the four great winds of heaven,And the balls are the sun and moon.
A staring doll’s-house shows to himGreen floors and starry rafter,And [...]
This is the weird of a world-old folk,That not till the last link breaks,Not till the night is blackest,The blood of Hengist wakes.When the sun is black in heaven,The moon as blood above,And the earth is full of hatred,This people tells its love.
In change, eclipse, and peril,Under the whole world’s scorn,By blood and death and [...]
A wan new garment of young greenTouched, as you turned your soft brown hairAnd in me surged the strangest prayerEver in lover’s heart hath been.
That I who saw your youth’s bright page,A rainbow change from robe to robe,Might see you on this earthly globe,Crowned with the silver crown of age.
Your dear hair powdered in strange [...]
I saw an old man like a child,His blue eyes bright, his white hair wild,Who turned for ever, and might not stop,Round and round like an urchin’s top.
‘Fool,’ I cried, ‘while you spin round,‘Others grow wise, are praised, are crowned.’Ever the same round road he trod,‘This is better: I seek for God.’
‘We see the whole [...]
‘Elder father, though thine eyesShine with hoary mysteries,Canst thou tell what in the heartOf a cowslip blossom lies?
‘Smaller than all lives that be,Secret as the deepest sea,Stands a little house of seeds,Like an elfin’s granary,
‘Speller of the stones and weeds,Skilled in Nature’s crafts and creeds,Tell me what is in the heartOf the smallest of the [...]
Though the whole heaven be one-eyed with the moon,Though the dead landscape seem a thing possessed,Yet I go singing through that land oppressedAs one that singeth through the flowers of June.
No more, with forest-fingers crawling freeO’er dark flint wall that seems a wall of eyes,Shall evil break my soul with mysteriesOf some world-poison maddening bush [...]
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,His hair was like a light.(O weary, weary were the world,But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,His hair was like a star.(O stern and cunning are the kings,But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,His hair was like a fire.(O weary, weary is the [...]
I cannot count the pebbles in the brook.Well hath He spoken: ‘Swear not by thy head,Thou knowest not the hairs,’ though He, we read,Writes that wild number in his own strange book.
I cannot count the sands or search the seas,Death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,And I will [...]
Many have Earth’s lovers been,Tried in seas and wars, I ween;Yet the mightiest have I seen:Yea, the best saw I.One that in a field aloneStood up stiller than a stoneLest a moth should fly.
Birds had nested in his hair,On his shoon were mosses rare.Insect empires flourished there,Worms in ancient wars;But his eyes burn like a [...]
(W.E.G., May 1898)
Lift up your heads: in life, in death,God knoweth his head was high.Quit we the coward’s broken breathWho watched a strong man die.
If we must say, ‘No more his peerCometh; the flag is furled.’Stand not too near him, lest he hearThat slander on the world.
The good green earth he loved and trodIs still, [...]
The violet scent is sacredLike dreams of angels bright;The hawthorn smells of passionTold in a moonless night.
But the smell is in my nostrils,Through blossoms red or gold,Of my own green flower unfading,A bitter smell and bold.
The lily smells of pardon,The rose of mirth; but mineSmells shrewd of death and honour,And the doom of Adam’s line.
All day the nations climb and crawl and prayIn one long pilgrimage to one white shrine,Where sleeps a saint whose pardon, like his peace,Is wide as death, as common, as divine.
His statue in an aureole fills the shrine,The reckless nightingale, the roaming fawn,Share the broad blessing of his lifted hands,Under the canopy, above the lawn.
A mountainous and mystic bruteNo rein can curb, no arrow shoot,Upon whose domed deformed backI sweep the planets scorching track.
Old is the elf, and wise, men say,His hair grows green as ours grows grey;He mocks the stars with myriad hands.High as that swinging forest stands.
But though in pigmy wanderings dullI scour the deserts of his [...]
I plod and peer amid mean sounds and shapes,I hunt for dusty gain and dreary praise,And slowly pass the dismal grinning days,Monkeying each other like a line of apes.
What care? There was one hour amid all theseWhen I had stripped off like a tawdry gloveMy starriest hopes and wants, for very loveOf time and desolate [...]
If the stars fell; night’s nameless dreamsOf bliss and blasphemy came true,If skies were green and snow were gold,And you loved me as I love you;
O long light hands and curled brown hair,And eyes where sits a naked soul;Dare I even then draw near and burnMy fingers in the aureole?
Yes, in the one wise foolish [...]
I Cut a staff in a churchyard copse,I clad myself in ragged things,I set a feather in my capThat fell out of an angel’s wings.
I filled my wallet with white stones,I took three foxgloves in my hand,I slung my shoes across my back,And so I went to fairyland.
But Lo, within that ancient placeScience had reared [...]
There is one sin: to call a green leaf grey,Whereat the sun in heaven shuddereth.There is one blasphemy: for death to pray,For God alone knoweth the praise of death.
There is one creed: ‘neath no world-terror’s wingApples forget to grow on apple-trees.There is one thing is needful–everything–The rest is vanity of vanities.
The World is ours till sunset,Holly and fire and snow;And the name of our dead brotherWho loved us long ago.
The grown folk mighty and cunning,They write his name in gold;But we can tell a littleOf the million tales he told.
He taught them laws and watchwords,To preach and struggle and pray;But he taught us deep in [...]
Lo! I am come to autumn,When all the leaves are gold;Grey hairs and golden leaves cry outThe year and I are old.
In youth I sought the prince of men,Captain in cosmic wars,Our Titan, even the weeds would showDefiant, to the stars.
But now a great thing in the streetSeems any human nod,Where shift in strange democracyThe [...]
Dark the sea was: but I saw him,One great head with goggle eyes,Like a diabolic cherubFlying in those fallen skies.
I have heard the hoarse deniers,I have known the wordy wars;I have seen a man, by shouting,Seek to orphan all the stars.
I have seen a fool half-fashionedBorrow from the heavens a tongue,So to curse them more [...]
That night the whole world mingled,The souls were babes at play,And angel danced with devil.And God cried, ‘Holiday!’
The sea had climbed the mountain peaks,And shouted to the starsTo come to play: and down they cameSplashing in happy wars.
The pine grew apples for a whim,The cart-horse built a nest;The oxen flew, the flowers sang,The sun rose [...]
I had grown weary of him; of his breathAnd hands and features I was sick to death.Each day I heard the same dull voice and tread;I did not hate him: but I wished him dead.And he must with his blank face fill my life–Then my brain blackened; and I snatched a knife.
But ere I struck, [...]
The vision of a haloed hostThat weep around an empty throne;And, aureoles dark and angels dead,Man with his own life stands alone.
‘I am,’ he says his bankrupt creed:‘I am,’ and is again a clod:The sparrow starts, the grasses stir,For he has said the name of God.
Why should I care for the AgesBecause they are old and grey?To me, like sudden laughter,The stars are fresh and gay;The world is a daring fancy,And finished yesterday.
Why should I bow to the AgesBecause they were drear and dry?Slow trees and ripening meadowsFor me go roaring by,A living charge, a struggleTo escalade the sky.
The eternal [...]
Through what fierce incarnations, furledIn fire and darkness, did I go,Ere I was worthy in the worldTo see a dandelion grow?
Well, if in any woes or warsI bought my naked right to be,Grew worthy of the grass, nor gaveThe wren, my brother, shame for me.
But what shall God not ask of himIn the last time [...]
The still sweet meadows shimmered: and I stoodAnd cursed them, bloom of hedge and bird of tree,And bright and high beyond the hunch-backed woodThe thunder and the splendour of the sea.
Give back the Babylon where I was born,The lips that gape give back, the hands that grope,And noise and blood and suffocating scornAn eddy of [...]
If trees were tall and grasses short,As in some crazy tale,If here and there a sea were blueBeyond the breaking pale,
If a fixed fire hung in the airTo warm me one day through,If deep green hair grew on great hills,I know what I should do.
In dark I lie: dreaming that thereAre great eyes cold or [...]
Chattering finch and water-flyAre not merrier than I;Here among the flowers I lieLaughing everlastingly.No: I may not tell the best;Surely, friends, I might have guessedDeath was but the good King’s jest,It was hid so carefully.
My eyes are full of lonely mirth:Reeling with want and worn with scars,For pride of every stone on earth,I shake my spear at all the stars.
A live bat beats my crest above,Lean foxes nose where I have trod,And on my naked face the loveWhich is the loneliness of God.
Outlawed: since that great day gone by–When [...]
To teach the grey earth like a child,To bid the heavens repent,I only ask from Fate the giftOf one man well content.
Him will I find: though when in vainI search the feast and mart,The fading flowers of liberty,The painted masks of art.
I only find him at the last,On one old hill where nodGolgotha’s ghastly trinity–Three [...]
My Lady clad herself in grey,That caught and clung about her throat;Then all the long grey winter dayOn me a living splendour smote;And why grey palmers holy are,And why grey minsters great in story,And grey skies ring the morning star,And grey hairs are a crown of glory.
My Lady clad herself in green,Like meadows where the [...]
He was, through boyhood’s storm and shower,My best, my nearest friend;We wore one hat, smoked one cigar,One standing at each end.
We were two hearts with single hope,Two faces in one hood;I knew the secrets of his youth;I watched his every mood.
The little things that none but ISaw were beyond his wont,The streaming hair, [...]
We watched you building, stone by stone,The well-washed cells and well-washed gravesWe shall inhabit but not ownWhen Britons ever shall be slaves;The water’s waiting in the trough,The tame oats sown are portioned free,There is Enough, and just Enough,And all is ready now but we.
But you have not caught us yet, my lords,You have us still [...]
“A drove of cattle came into a village called Swords;and was stopped by the rioters.”–Daily Paper.
In the place called Swords on the Irish roadIt is told for a new renownHow we held the horns of the cattle, and howWe will hold the horns of the devils nowEre the lord of hell with the horn on [...]
Once upon a time there were two little boys who lived chiefly in the front garden, because their villa was a model one. The front garden was about the same size as the dinner table; it consisted of four strips of gravel, a square of turf with some mysterious pieces of cork standing up in [...]
I remember one splendid morning, all blue and silver, in the summer holidays when I reluctantly tore myself away from the task of doing nothing in particular, and put on a hat of some sort and picked up a walking-stick, and put six very bright-coloured chalks in my pocket. I then went into the kitchen [...]
For some time I had been wandering in quiet streets in the curious town of Besancon, which stands like a sort of peninsula in a horse-shoe of river. You may learn from the guide books that it was the birthplace of Victor Hugo, and that it is a military station with many forts, near the [...]
On the first of May I was sitting outside a cafe in the Place de la Bastille in Paris staring at the exultant column, crowned with a capering figure, which stands in the place where the people destroyed a prison and ended an age. The thing is a curious example of how symbolic is the [...]
From time to time I have introduced into this newspaper column the narration of incidents that have really occurred. I do not mean to insinuate that in this respect it stands alone among newspaper columns. I mean only that I have found that my meaning was better expressed by some practical parable out of daily [...]
Some time ago I wrote in these columns an article called “The Extraordinary Cabman.” I am now in a position to contribute my experience of a still more extraordinary cab. The extraordinary thing about the cab was that it did not like me; it threw me out violently in the middle of the Strand. If [...]
A friend of mine who was visiting a poor woman in bereavement and casting about for some phrase of consolation that should not be either insolent or weak, said at last, “I think one can live through these great sorrows and even be the better. What wears one is the little worries.” “That’s quite right, [...]
All this talk of a railway mystery has sent my mind back to a loose memory. I will not merely say that this story is true: because, as you will soon see, it is all truth and no story. It has no explanation and no conclusion; it is, like most of the other things we [...]
We have all met the man who says that some odd things have happened to him, but that he does not really believe that they were supernatural. My own position is the opposite of this. I believe in the supernatural as a matter of intellect and reason, not as a matter of personal experience. I [...]
I met a man the other day who did not believe in fairy tales. I do not mean that he did not believe in the incidents narrated in them–that he did not believe that a pumpkin could turn into a coach. He did, indeed, entertain this curious disbelief. And, like all the other people I [...]
He was a quiet man, dressed in dark clothes, with a large limp straw hat; with something almost military in his moustache and whiskers, but with a quite unmilitary stoop and very dreamy eyes. He was gazing with a rather gloomy interest at the cluster, one might almost say the tangle, of small shipping which [...]
Last week, in an idle metaphor, I took the tumbling of trees and the secret energy of the wind as typical of the visible world moving under the violence of the invisible. I took this metaphor merely because I happened to be writing the article in a wood. Nevertheless, now that I return to Fleet [...]
Once when I was very young I met one of those men who have made the Empire what it is–a man in an astracan coat, with an astracan moustache–a tight, black, curly moustache. Whether he put on the moustache with the coat or whether his Napoleonic will enabled him not only to grow a moustache [...]
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. This, however, is not generally a part of the domestic apparatus on the premises. I think myself that the thing might be managed with several pails of Aspinall and a [...]
The other day, while I was meditating on morality and Mr. H. Pitt, I was, so to speak, snatched up and put into a jury box to try people. The snatching took some weeks, but to me it seemed something sudden and arbitrary. I was put into this box because I lived in Battersea, and [...]
I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks and roars in something that is at once exultation and agony. I feel, in fact, as if I were actually sitting at the bottom of the sea among mere [...]
People accuse journalism of being too personal; but to me it has always seemed far too impersonal. It is charged with tearing away the veils from private life; but it seems to me to be always dropping diaphanous but blinding veils between men and men. The Yellow Press is abused for exposing facts which are [...]
Those thinkers who cannot believe in any gods often assert that the love of humanity would be in itself sufficient for them; and so, perhaps, it would, if they had it. There is a very real thing which may be called the love of humanity; in our time it exists almost entirely among what are [...]
There is only one reason why all grown-up people do not play with toys; and it is a fair reason. The reason is that playing with toys takes so very much more time and trouble than anything else. Playing as children mean playing is the most serious thing in the world; and as soon as [...]
Several years ago, when there was a small war going on in South Africa and a great fuss going on in England, when it was by no means so popular and convenient to be a Pro-Boer as it is now, I remember making a bright suggestion to my Pro-Boer friends and allies, which was not, [...]
I sometimes fancy that every great city must have been built by night. At least, it is only at night that every part of a great city is great. All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks. At least, I think many people of [...]
I find that there really are human beings who think fairy tales bad for children. I do not speak of the man in the green tie, for him I can never count truly human. But a lady has written me an earnest letter saying that fairy tales ought not to be taught to children even [...]
I have been standing where everybody has stood, opposite the great Belfry Tower of Bruges, and thinking, as every one has thought (though not, perhaps, said), that it is built in defiance of all decencies of architecture. It is made in deliberate disproportion to achieve the one startling effect of height. It is a church [...]
More than a month ago, when I was leaving London for a holiday, a friend walked into my flat in Battersea and found me surrounded with half-packed luggage.
“You seem to be off on your travels,” he said. “Where are you going?”
With a strap between my teeth I replied, “To Battersea.”
“The wit of your remark,” he [...]
The other day I was nearly arrested by two excited policemen in a wood in Yorkshire. I was on a holiday, and was engaged in that rich and intricate mass of pleasures, duties, and discoveries which for the keeping off of the profane, we disguise by the exoteric name of Nothing. At the moment in [...]
Except for some fine works of art, which seem to be there by accident, the City of Brussels is like a bad Paris, a Paris with everything noble cut out, and everything nasty left in. No one can understand Paris and its history who does not understand that its fierceness is the balance and justification [...]
On my last morning on the Flemish coast, when I knew that in a few hours I should be in England, my eye fell upon one of the details of Gothic carving of which Flanders is full. I do not know whether the thing is old, though it was certainly knocked about and indecipherable, but [...]
My relations with the readers of this page have been long and pleasant, but–perhaps for that very reason– I feel that the time has come when I ought to confess the one great crime of my life. It happened a long time ago; but it is not uncommon for a belated burst of remorse to [...]
Sown somewhere far off in the shallow dales of Hertfordshire there lies a village of great beauty, and I doubt not of admirable virtue, but of eccentric and unbalanced literary taste, which asked the present writer to come down to it on Sunday afternoon and give an address.
Now it was very difficult to get down [...]
For three days and three nights the sea had charged England as Napoleon charged her at Waterloo. The phrase is instinctive, because away to the last grey line of the sea there was only the look of galloping squadrons, impetuous, but with a common purpose. The sea came on like cavalry, and when it touched [...]
Nearly all the best and most precious things in the universe you can get for a halfpenny. I make an exception, of course, of the sun, the moon, the earth, people, stars, thunderstorms, and such trifles. You can get them for nothing. Also I make an exception of another thing, which I am not allowed [...]
My friend and I, in fooling about Flanders, fell into a fixed affection for the town of Mechlin or Malines. Our rest there was so restful that we almost felt it as a home, and hardly strayed out of it.
We sat day after day in the market-place, under little trees growing in wooden tubs, and [...]
Every now and then I have introduced into my essays an element of truth. Things that really happened have been mentioned, such as meeting President Kruger or being thrown out of a cab. What I have now to relate really happened; yet there was no element in it of practical politics or of personal danger. [...]
Whatever is it that we are all looking for? I fancy that it is really quite close. When I was a boy I had a fancy that Heaven or Fairyland or whatever I called it, was immediately behind my own back, and that this was why I could never manage to see it, however often [...]
I cannot remember whether this tale is true or not. If I read it through very carefully I have a suspicion that I should come to the conclusion that it is not. But, unfortunately, I cannot read it through very carefully, because, you see, it is not written yet. The image and the idea of [...]
The other day, to my great astonishment, I caught a train; it was a train going into the Eastern Counties, and I only just caught it. And while I was running along the train (amid general admiration) I noticed that there were a quite peculiar and unusual number of carriages marked “Engaged.” On five, six, [...]
A railway station is an admirable place, although Ruskin did not think so; he did not think so because he himself was even more modern than the railway station. He did not think so because he was himself feverish, irritable, and snorting like an engine. He could not value the ancient silence of the railway [...]
Once upon a time, it seems centuries ago, I was prevailed on to take a small part in one of those historical processions or pageants which happened to be fashionable in or about the year 1909. And since I tend, like all who are growing old, to re-enter the remote past as a paradise or [...]
I cannot understand the people who take literature seriously; but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this book. It is a collection of crude and shapeless papers upon current or rather flying subjects; and they must be published pretty much as they stand. [...]
I notice that some papers, especially papers that call themselves patriotic, have fallen into quite a panic over the fact that we have been twice beaten in the world of sport, that a Frenchman has beaten us at golf, and that Belgians have beaten us at rowing. I suppose that the incidents are important to [...]
A little while ago I fell out of England into the town of Paris. If a man fell out of the moon into the town of Paris he would know that it was the capital of a great nation. If, however, he fell (perhaps off some other side of the moon) so as to hit [...]
I feel an almost savage envy on hearing that London has been flooded in my absence, while I am in the mere country. My own Battersea has been, I understand, particularly favoured as a meeting of the waters. Battersea was already, as I need hardly say, the most beautiful of human localities. Now that it [...]
Most of us will be canvassed soon, I suppose; some of us may even canvass. Upon which side, of course, nothing will induce me to state, beyond saying that by a remarkable coincidence it will in every case be the only side in which a high-minded, public-spirited, and patriotic citizen can take even a momentary [...]
If a man must needs be conceited, it is certainly better that he should be conceited about some merits or talents that he does not really possess. For then his vanity remains more or less superficial; it remains a mere mistake of fact, like that of a man who thinks he inherits the royal blood [...]
A writer in the Yorkshire Evening Post is very angry indeed with my performances in this column. His precise terms of reproach are, “Mr. G. K. Chesterton is not a humourist: not even a Cockney humourist.” I do not mind his saying that I am not a humourist–in which (to tell the truth) I think [...]
There has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at [...]
A famous and epigrammatic author said that life copied literature; it seems clear that life really caricatures it. I suggested recently that the Germans submitted to, and even admired, a solemn and theatrical assertion of authority. A few hours after I had sent up my “copy,” I saw the first announcement of the affair of [...]
The incident of the Suffragettes who chained themselves with iron chains to the railings of Downing Street is a good ironical allegory of most modern martyrdom. It generally consists of a man chaining himself up and then complaining that he is not free. Some say that such larks retard the cause of female suffrage, others [...]
Generally, instinctively, in the absence of any special reason, humanity hates the idea of anything being hidden–that is, it hates the idea of anything being successfully hidden. Hide-and-seek is a popular pastime; but it assumes the truth of the text, “Seek and ye shall find.” Ordinary mankind (gigantic and unconquerable in its power of joy) [...]
I have received a serious, and to me, at any rate, an impressive remonstrance from the Scottish Patriotic Association. It appears that I recently referred to Edward VII. of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, under the horrible description of the King of England. The Scottish Patriotic Association draws my attention to [...]
It is obvious that there is a great deal of difference between being international and being cosmopolitan. All good men are international. Nearly all bad men are cosmopolitan. If we are to be international we must be national. And it is largely because those who call themselves the friends of peace have not dwelt sufficiently [...]
The difference between two great nations can be illustrated by the coincidence that at this moment both France and England are engaged in discussing the memorial of a literary man. France is considering the celebration of the late Zola, England is considering that of the recently deceased Shakspere. There is some national significance, it may [...]
Some time ago I ventured to defend that race of hunted and persecuted outlaws, the Bishops; but until this week I had no idea of how much persecuted they were. For instance, the Bishop of Birmingham made some extremely sensible remarks in the House of Lords, to the effect that Oxford and Cambridge were (as [...]
I Saw in a newspaper paragraph the other day the following entertaining and deeply philosophical incident. A man was enlisting as a soldier at Portsmouth, and some form was put before him to be filled up, common, I suppose, to all such cases, in which was, among other things, an inquiry about what was his [...]
Surely the art of reporting speeches is in a strange state of degeneration. We should not object, perhaps, to the reporter’s making the speeches much shorter than they are; but we do object to his making all the speeches much worse than they are. And the method which he employs is one which is dangerously [...]
There has crept, I notice, into our literature and journalism a new way of flattering the wealthy and the great. In more straightforward times flattery itself was more straight-forward; falsehood itself was more true. A poor man wishing to please a rich man simply said that he was the wisest, bravest, tallest, strongest, most benevolent [...]
In these days we are accused of attacking science because we want it to be scientific. Surely there is not any undue disrespect to our doctor in saying that he is our doctor, not our priest, or our wife, or ourself. It is not the business of the doctor to say that we must go [...]
I have no sympathy with international aggression when it is taken seriously, but I have a certain dark and wild sympathy with it when it is quite absurd. Raids are all wrong as practical politics, but they are human and imaginable as practical jokes. In fact, almost any act of ragging or violence can be [...]
It is customary to remark that modern problems cannot easily be attacked because they are so complex. In many cases I believe it is really because they are so simple. Nobody would believe in such simplicity of scoundrelism even if it were pointed out. People would say that the truth was a charge of mere [...]
The end of the article which I write is always cut off, and, unfortunately, I belong to that lower class of animals in whom the tail is important. It is not anybody’s fault but my own; it arises from the fact that I take such a long time to get to the point. Somebody, the [...]
I suppose that there will be some wigs on the green in connection with the recent manifesto signed by a string of very eminent doctors on the subject of what is called “alcohol.” “Alcohol” is, to judge by the sound of it, an Arabic word, like “algebra” and “Alhambra,” those two other unpleasant things. The [...]
I once heard a man call this age the age of demagogues. Of this I can only say, in the admirably sensible words of the angry coachman in “Pickwick,” that “that remark’s political, or what is much the same, it ain’t true.” So far from being the age of demagogues, this is really and specially [...]
The other day some one presented me with a paper called the Eatanswill Gazette. I need hardly say that I could not have been more startled if I had seen a coach coming down the road with old Mr. Tony Weller on the box. But, indeed, the case is much more extraordinary than that would [...]
The refusal of the jurors in the Thaw trial to come to an agreement is certainly a somewhat amusing sequel to the frenzied and even fantastic caution with which they were selected. Jurymen were set aside for reasons which seem to have only the very wildest relation to the case–reasons which we cannot conceive as [...]
A correspondent asks me to make more lucid my remarks about phonetic spelling. I have no detailed objection to items of spelling-reform; my objection is to a general principle; and it is this. It seems to me that what is really wrong with all modern and highly civilised language is that it does so largely [...]
Somebody writes complaining of something I said about progress. I have forgotten what I said, but I am quite certain that it was (like a certain Mr. Douglas in a poem which I have also forgotten) tender and true. In any case, what I say now is this. Human history is so rich and complicated [...]
I Have received a letter from a gentleman who is very indignant at what he considers my flippancy in disregarding or degrading Spiritualism. I thought I was defending Spiritualism; but I am rather used to being accused of mocking the thing that I set out to justify. My fate in most controversies is rather pathetic. [...]
G. K. CHESTERTON
Horatio Herbert Kitchener was Irish by birth but English by extraction, being born in County Kerry, the son of an English colonel. The fanciful might see in this first and accidental fact the presence of this simple and practical man amid the more mystical western problems and dreams which were very distant [...]
The two hundredth anniversary of Henry Fielding is very justly celebrated, even if, as far as can be discovered, it is only celebrated by the newspapers. It would be too much to expect that any such merely chronological incident should induce the people who write about Fielding to read him; this kind of neglect is [...]
With Francis Thompson we lose the greatest poetic energy since Browning. His energy was of somewhat the same kind. Browning was intellectually intricate because he was morally simple. He was too simple to explain himself; he was too humble to suppose that other people needed any explanation. But his real energy, and the real energy [...]
Some solemn and superficial people (for nearly all very superficial people are solemn) have declared that the fairy-tales are immoral; they base this upon some accidental circumstances or regrettable incidents in the war between giants and boys, some cases in which the latter indulged in unsympathetic deceptions or even in practical jokes. The objection, however, [...]
At a little station, which I decline to specify, somewhere between Oxford and Guildford, I missed a connection or miscalculated a route in such manner that I was left stranded for rather more than an hour. I adore waiting at railway stations, but this was not a very sumptuous specimen. There was nothing on the [...]
I was walking the other day in a kitchen garden, which I find has somehow got attached to my premises, and I was wondering why I liked it. After a prolonged spiritual self-analysis I came to the conclusion that I like a kitchen garden because it contains things to eat. I do not mean that [...]
A sunset of copper and gold had just broken down and gone to pieces in the west, and grey colours were crawling over everything in earth and heaven; also a wind was growing, a wind that laid a cold finger upon flesh and spirit. The bushes at the back of my garden began to whisper [...]
My friend and I were walking in one of those wastes of pine-wood which make inland seas of solitude in every part of Western Europe; which have the true terror of a desert, since they are uniform, and so one may lose one’s way in them. Stiff, straight, and similar, stood up all around us [...]
In a small grey town of stone in one of the great Yorkshire dales, which is full of history, I entered a hall and saw an old puppet-play exactly as our fathers saw it five hundred years ago. It was admirably translated from the old German, and was the original tale of Faust. The dolls [...]
Alone at some distance from the wasting walls of a disused abbey I found half sunken in the grass the grey and goggle-eyed visage of one of those graven monsters that made the ornamental water-spouts in the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. It lay there, scoured by ancient rains or striped by recent fungus, but [...]
Evert man, though he were born in the very belfry of Bow and spent his infancy climbing among chimneys, has waiting for him somewhere a country house which he has never seen; but which was built for him in the very shape of his soul. It stands patiently waiting to be found, knee-deep in orchards [...]
The position of the rose among flowers is like that of the dog among animals. It is so much that both are domesticated as that have some dim feeling that they were always domesticated. There are wild roses and there are wild dogs. I do not know the wild dogs; wild roses are very nice. [...]
It would be really interesting to know exactly why an intelligent person– by which I mean a person with any sort of intelligence–can and does dislike sight-seeing. Why does the idea of a char-a-banc full of tourists going to see the birth-place of Nelson or the death-scene of Simon de Montfort strike a strange chill [...]
When men of science (or, more often, men who talk about science) speak of studying history or human society scientifically they always forget that there are two quite distinct questions involved. It may be that certain facts of the body go with certain facts of the soul, but it by no means follows that a [...]
One peculiarity of the genuine kind of enemy of the people is that his slightest phrase is clamorous with all his sins. Pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy seem present in his very grammar; in his very verbs or adverbs or prepositions, as well as in what he says, which is generally bad enough. Thus I see [...]
Among the cloudy and symbolic stories in the beginning of the Bible there is one about a tower built with such vertical energy as to take a hold on heaven, but ruined and resulting only in a confusion of tongues. The story might be interpreted in many ways–religiously, as meaning that spiritual insolence starts all [...]
Heaven forbid that I should once more wade in those swamps of logomachy and tautology in which the old guard of the Determinists still seem to be floundering. The question of Fate and Free Will can never attain to a conclusion, though it may attain to a conviction. The shortest philosophic summary is that both [...]
That anarchic future which the more timid Tories professed to fear has already fallen upon us. We are ruled by ignorant people. But the most ignorant people in modern Britain are to be found in the upper class, the middle class, and especially the upper middle class. I do not say it with the smallest [...]
The curious position of the Krupp firm in the awful story developing around us is not quite sufficiently grasped. There is a kind of academic clarity of definition which does not see the proportions of things for which everything falls within a definition, and nothing ever breaks beyond it. To this type of mind (which [...]
My forthcoming work in five volumes, “The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature” is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful if I shall live to finish it. Some overflowings from such a fountain of information may therefore be permitted to springle these pages. I cannot yet wholly explain the [...]
When a man says that democracy is false because most people are stupid, there are several courses which the philosopher may pursue. The most obvious is to hit him smartly and with precision on the exact tip of the nose. But if you have scruples (moral or physical) about this course, you may proceed to [...]
As I see the corn grow green all about my neighbourhood, there rushes on me for no reason in particular a memory of the winter. I say “rushes,” for that is the very word for the old sweeping lines of the ploughed fields. From some accidental turn of a train-journey or a walking tour, I [...]
It is a platitude, and none the less true for that, that we need to have an ideal in our minds with which to test all realities. But it is equally true, and less noted, that we need a reality with which to test ideals. Thus I have selected Mrs. Buttons, a charwoman in Battersea, [...]
Readers of Mr. Bernard Shaw and other modern writers may be interested to know that the Superman has been found. I found him; he lives in South Croydon. My success will be a great blow to Mr. Shaw, who has been following quite a false scent, and is now looking for the creature in Blackpool; [...]
Within a stone’s throw of my house they are building another house. I am glad they are building it, and I am glad it is within a stone’s throw; quite well within it, with a good catapult. Nevertheless, I have not yet cast the first stone at the new house– not being, strictly speaking, guiltless [...]
It was a warm golden evening, fit for October, and I was watching (with regret) a lot of little black pigs being turned out of my garden, when the postman handed to me, with a perfunctory haste which doubtless masked his emotion, the Declaration of Futurism. If you ask me what Futurism is, I cannot [...]
The Duc de Chambertin-Pommard was a small but lively relic of a really aristocratic family, the members of which were nearly all Atheists up to the time of the French Revolution, but since that event (beneficial in such various ways) had been very devout. He was a Royalist, a Nationalist, and a perfectly sincere patriot [...]
I suppose that, taking this summer as a whole, people will not call it an appropriate time for praising the English climate. But for my part I will praise the English climate till I die– even if I die of the English climate. There is no weather so good as English weather. Nay, in a [...]
I have now lived for about two months in the country, and have gathered the last rich autumnal fruit of a rural life, which is a strong desire to see London. Artists living in my neighbourhood talk rapturously of the rolling liberty of the landscape, the living peace of woods. But I say to them [...]
One silver morning I walked into a small grey town of stone, like twenty other grey western towns, which happened to be called Glastonbury; and saw the magic thorn of near two thousand years growing in the open air as casually as any bush in my garden.
In Glastonbury, as in all noble and humane things, [...]
It is an English misfortune that what is called “public spirit” is so often a very private spirit; the legitimate but strictly individual ideals of this or that person who happens to have the power to carry them out. When these private principles are held by very rich people, the result is often the blackest [...]
Doubtless the unsympathetic might state my doctrine that one should not own a motor like a horse, but rather use it like a flying dragon in the simpler form that I will always go motoring in somebody else’s car. My favourite modern philosopher (Mr. W. W. Jacobs) describes a similar case of spiritual delicacy misunderstood. [...]
The other day on a stray spur of the Chiltern Hills I climbed up upon one of those high, abrupt, windy churchyards from which the dead seem to look down upon all the living. It was a mountain of ghosts as Olympus was a mountain of gods. In that church lay the bones of great [...]
In my daily paper this morning I read the following interesting paragraphs, which take my mind back to an England which I do not remember and which, therefore (perhaps), I admire.
“Nearly sixty years ago–on 4 September, 1850–the Austrian General Haynau, who had gained an unenviable fame throughout the world by his ferocious methods in suppressing [...]
The preceding essay is about a half-built house upon my private horizon; I wrote it sitting in a garden-chair; and as, though it was a week ago, I have scarcely moved since then (to speak of), I do not see why I should not go on writing about it. Strictly speaking, I have moved; I [...]
Roughly speaking, there are three kinds of people in this world. The first kind of people are People; they are the largest and probably the most valuable class. We owe to this class the chairs we sit down on, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in; and, indeed (when we come to think [...]
It is within my experience, which is very brief and occasional in this matter, that it is not really at all easy to talk in a motor-car. This is fortunate; first, because, as a whole, it prevents me from motoring; and second because, at any given moment, it prevents me from talking. The difficulty is [...]
Perhaps you do not know where Ethandune is. Nor do I; nor does anybody. That is where the somewhat sombre fun begins. I cannot even tell you for certain whether it is the name of a forest or a town or a hill. I can only say that in any case it is of the [...]
Some time ago a Sub-Tropical Dinner was given by some South African millionaire. I forget his name; and so, very likely, does he. The humour of this was so subtle and haunting that it has been imitated by another millionaire, who has given a North Pole Dinner in a grand hotel, on which he managed [...]
One sometimes hears from persons of the chillier type of culture the remark that plain country people do not appreciate the beauty of the country. This is an error rooted in the intellectual pride of mediocrity; and is one of the many examples of a truth in the idea that extremes meet. Thus, to appreciate [...]
“Sentimentalism is the most broken reed on which righteousness can lean”; these were, I think, the exact words of a distinguished American visitor at the Guildhall, and may Heaven forgive me if I do him a wrong. It was spoken in illustration of the folly of supporting Egyptian and other Oriental nationalism, and it has [...]
In a quiet and rustic though fairly famous church in my neighbourhood there is a window supposed to represent an Angel on a Bicycle. It does definitely and indisputably represent a nude youth sitting on a wheel; but there is enough complication in the wheel and sanctity (I suppose) in the youth to warrant this [...]
Life is full of a ceaseless shower of small coincidences: too small to be worth mentioning except for a special purpose, often too trifling even to be noticed, any more than we notice one snowflake falling on another. It is this that lends a frightful plausibility to all false doctrines and evil fads. There are [...]
Something has come into our community, which is strong enough to save our community; but which has not yet got a name. Let no one fancy I confess any unreality when I confess the namelessness. The morality called Puritanism, the tendency called Liberalism, the reaction called Tory Democracy, had not only long been powerful, but [...]
One of the most marked instances of the decline of true popular sympathy is the gradual disappearance in our time of the habit of singing in chorus. Even when it is done nowadays it is done tentatively and sometimes inaudibly; apparently upon some preposterous principle (which I have never clearly grasped) that singing is an [...]
In books as a whole marshes are described as desolate and colourless, great fields of clay or sedge, vast horizons of drab or grey. But this, like many other literary associations, is a piece of poetical injustice. Monotony has nothing to do with a place; monotony, either in its sensation or its infliction, is simply [...]
The two kinds of social reform, one of which might conceivably free us at last while the other would certainly enslave us forever, are exhibited in an easy working model in the two efforts that have been made for the soldiers’ wives–I mean the effort to increase their allowance and the effort to curtail their [...]
I find myself still sitting in front of the last book by Mr. H. G. Wells, I say stunned with admiration, my family says sleepy with fatigue. I still feel vaguely all the things in Mr. Wells’s book which I agree with; and I still feel vividly the one thing that I deny. I deny [...]
Mr. Vernon-Smith, of Trinity, and the Social Settlement, Tooting, author of “A Higher London” and “The Boyg System at Work,” came to the conclusion, after looking through his select and even severe library, that Dickens’s “Christmas Carol” was a very suitable thing to be read to charwomen. Had they been men they would have been [...]
By high plains I do not mean table-lands; table-lands do not interest one very much. They seem to involve the bore of a climb without the pleasure of a peak. Also they arc vaguely associated with Asia and those enormous armies that eat up everything like locusts, as did the army of Xerxes; with emperors [...]
Why is the modern party political journalism so bad? It is worse even than it intends to be. It praises its preposterous party leaders through thick and thin; but it somehow succeeds in making them look greater fools than they are. This clumsiness clings even to the photographs of public men, as they are snapshotted [...]
I hope the Government will not think just now about appointing a Poet Laureate. I hardly think they can be altogether in the right mood. The business just now before the country makes a very good detective story; but as a national epic it is a little depressing. Jingo literature always weakens a nation; but [...]
Missing the point is a very fine art; and has been carried to something like perfection by politicians and Pressmen to-day. For the point is generally a very sharp point; and is, moreover, sharp at both ends. That is to say that both parties would probably impale themselves in an uncomfortable manner if they did [...]
I read the other day, in a quotation from a German newspaper, the highly characteristic remark that Germany having annexed Belgium would soon re-establish its commerce and prosperity, and that, in particular, arrangements were already being made for introducing into the new province the German laws for the protection of workmen.
I am quite content with [...]
A thing which does not exist and which is very much wanted is “A Working-Man’s History of England.” I do not mean a history written for working men (there are whole dustbins of them), I mean a history, written by working men or from the working men’s standpoint. I wish five generations of a fisher’s [...]
It will be long before the poison of the Party System is worked out of the body politic. Some of its most indirect effects are the most dangerous. One that is very dangerous just now is this: that for most Englishmen the Party System falsifies history, and especially the history of revolutions. It falsifies history [...]
There is a certain daily paper in England towards which I feel very much as Tom Pinch felt towards Mr. Pecksniff immediately after he had found him out. The war upon Dickens was part of the general war on all democrats, about the eighties and nineties, which ushered in the brazen plutocracy of to-day. And [...]
The amazing decision of the Government to employ methods quite alien to England, and rather belonging to the police of the Continent, probably arises from the appearance of papers which are lucid and fighting, like the papers of the Continent. The business may be put in many ways. But one way of putting it is [...]
Everyone but a consistent and contented capitalist, who must be something pretty near to a Satanist, must rejoice at the spirit and success of the Battle of the Buses. But one thing about it which happens to please me particularly was that it was fought, in one aspect at least, on a point such as [...]
The gallows in my garden, people say,Is new and neat and adequately tall.I tie the noose on in a knowing wayAs one that knots his necktie for a ball;But just as all the neighbours–on the wall–Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”The strangest whim has seized me…. After allI think I will not hang [...]
The sky is blue with summer and the sun,The woods are brown as autumn with the tan,It might as well be Tropics and be done,I might as well be born a copper Khan;I fashion me an oriental fanMade of the wholly unreceipted billsBrought by the ice-man, sleeping in his van(A storm is coming on the [...]
O well for him that loves the sunThat sees the heaven-race ridden or run,The splashing seas of sunset won,And shouts for victory.
God made the sun to crown his head,And when death’s dart at last is sped,At least it will not find him dead,And pass the carrion by.
O ill for him that loves the sun;Shall the [...]
Happy, who like Ulysses or that lordWho raped the fleece, returning full and sage,With usage and the world’s wide reason stored,With his own kin can wait the end of age.When shall I see, when shall I see, God knows!My little village smoke; or pass the door,The old dear door of that unhappy houseThat is to [...]
“The Rev. Isaiah Bunter has disappeared into the interiorof the Solomon Islands, and it is feared that he may havebeen devoured by the natives, as there has been a considerablerevival of religious customs among the Polynesians.”A real paragraph from a real Paper; only the names altered.
It was Isaiah BunterWho sailed to the world’s end,And spread [...]
The old earth keepeth her watch the same.Alone in a voiceless void doth stand,Her orange flowers in her bosom flame,Her gold ring in her hand.The surfs of the long gold-crested mornsBreak ever more at her great robe’s hem,And evermore come the bleak moon-horns.But she keepeth not watch for them.
She keepeth her watch through the awns,But [...]
When Adam went from ParadiseHe saw the Sword and ran;The dreadful shape, the new device,The pointed end of Paradise,And saw what Peril is and Price,And knew he was a man.
When Adam went from Paradise,He turned him back and criedFor a little flower from Paradise;There came no flower from Paradise;The woods were dark in Paradise,And not [...]
EXTRACT FROM A ROMANCE WHICH IS NOT YETWRITTEN AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL BE.
The wine they drink in ParadiseThey make in Haute Lorraine;God brought it burning from the sodTo be a sign and signal rodThat they that drink the blood of GodShall never thirst again.
The wine they praise in ParadiseThey make in Ponterey,The purple wine [...]
When I came back to Fleet Street,Through a sunset nook at night,And saw the old Green DragonWith the windows all alight,And hailed the old Green DragonAnd the Cock I used to know,Where all good fellows were my friendsA little while ago;
I had been long in meadows,And the trees took hold of me,And the still towns [...]
The wind blew out from Bergen from the dawning to the day,There was a wreck of trees and fall of towers a score of miles away,And drifted like a livid leaf I go before its tide,Spewed out of house and stable, beggared of flag and bride.The heavens are bowed about my head, shouting like seraph [...]
The line breaks and the guns go under,The lords and the lackeys ride the plain;I draw deep breaths of the dawn and thunder,And the whole of my heart grows young again.For our Chiefs said “Done,” and I did not deem it;Our Seers said “Peace,” and it was not peace;Earth will grow worse till men redeem [...]
ON HEARING A LANDLORD ACCUSED (FALSELY, FORALL THE BARD CAN SAY) OF NEGLECTING ONE OF THENUMEROUS WHITE HORSES THAT WERE OR WERE NOTCONNECTED WITH ALFRED THE GREAT
If you have picked your lawn of leaves and snails,If you have told your valet, even with oaths,Once a week or so, to brush your clothes.If you have dared [...]
A sleepy people, without priests or kings,Dreamed here, men say, to drive us to the sea:O let us drive ourselves! For it is freeAnd smells of honour and of English things.How came we brawling by these bitter springs,We of the North?–two kindly nations–we?Though the dice rattles and the clear coin rings,Here is no place for [...]
This is their trumpet ripe and rounded,They have burnt the wheat and gathered the chaff,And we that have fought them, we that have watched them,Have we at least not cause to laugh?
Never so low at least we stumbled–Dead we have been but not so deadAs these that live on the life they squandered,As these that [...]
We never saw you, like our sires,For whom your face was Freedom’s face,Nor know what office-tapes and wiresWith such strong cords may interlace;We know not if the statesmen thenWere fashioned as the sort we see,We know that not under your kenDid England laugh at Liberty.
Yea, this one thing is known of you,We know that not [...]
WRITTEN DURING A FRIDAY AND SATURDAY IN AUGUST 1911.
King Dives he was waiting in his garden all alone,Where his flowers are made of iron and his trees are made of stone,And his hives are full of thunder and the lightning leaps and kills,For the mills of God grind slowly; and he works with other mills.Dives [...]
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.For we are the people of England, that never has spoken yet.There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or [...]
RHYMES FOR THE TIMES
“A BILL WHICH HAS SHOCKED THE CONSCIENCE OF EVERY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN EUROPE.”– Mr. F.E. Smith, ON THE WELSH DISESTABLISHMENT BILL.
Are they clinging to their crosses,F.E. Smith,Where the Breton boat-fleet tosses,Are they, Smith?Do they, fasting, tramping, bleeding,Wait the news from this our city?Groaning “That’s the Second Reading!”Hissing “There is still Committed”If the [...]
“I WAS NEVER STANDING BY WHILE A REVOLUTION WAS GOING ON.”– Speech by the Rt. Hon. Walter Long.
When Death was on thy drums, Democracy,And with one rush of slaves the world was free,In that high dawn that Kings shall not forget,A void there was and Walter was not yet.Through sacked Versailles, at Valmy in the [...]
Jones had a dog; it had a chain;Not often worn, not causing pain;But, as the I.K.L. had passedTheir “Unleashed Cousins Act” at last,Inspectors took the chain away;Whereat the canine barked “hurray”!At which, of course, the S.P.U.(Whose Nervous Motorists’ Bill was through),Were forced to give the dog in chargeFor being Audibly at Large.None, you will say, [...]
Lord Lilac thought it rather rottenThat Shakespeare should be quiteAnd therefore got on a CommitteeWith several chaps out of the city.And Shorter and Sir Herbert Tree,Lord Rothschild and Lord RoseberyAnd F.C.G. and Comyns Carr,Two dukes and a dramatic star,Also a clergyman now dead;And while the vain world careless spedUnheeding the heroic name–The souls most fed [...]
John Grubby, who was short and stoutAnd troubled with religious doubt,Refused about the age of threeTo sit upon the curate’s knee;(For so the eternal strife must rageBetween the spirit of the ageAnd Dogma, which, as is well known.Does simply hate to be outgrown).Grubby, the young idea that shoots,Outgrew the ages like old boots;While still, to [...]
NICE, JANUARY 30, 1914.
If any in an island cradle curledOf comfort, may make offerings to you,Who in the day of all denial blewA bugle through the blackness of the world,
An English hand would touch your shroud, in trustThat truth again be told in English speech.And we too yet may practise what we preach,Though it were [...]
TO A POPULAR LEADER MUCH TO BE CONGRATULATEDON THE AVOIDANCE OF A STRIKE AT CHRISTMAS.
I know you. You will hail the huge release,Saying the sheathing of a thousand swords,In silence and injustice, well accordsWith Christmas bells. And you will gild with greaseThe papers, the employers, the police,And vomit up the void your windy wordsTo your [...]
Said the Lord God, “Build a house,Build it in the gorge of death,Found it in the throats of hell.Where the lost sea muttereth,Fires and whirlwinds, build it well.”
Laboured sternly flame and wind,But a little, and they cry,“Lord, we doubt of this Thy will,We are blind and murmur why,”And the winds are murmuring still.
Said the Lord [...]
Great God, that bowest sky and star,Bow down our towering thoughts to thee,And grant us in a faltering warThe firm feet of humility.
Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame,Lord, we that cry about Thy car.We too are weak with pride and shame,We too are as our foemen are.
Yea, we are mad as they are [...]
Passionate peace is in the sky–And in the snow in silver sealedThe beasts are perfect in the field,And men seem men so suddenly–(But take ten swords and ten times tenAnd blow the bugle in praising men;For we are for all men under the sun,And they are against us every one;And misers haggle and madmen clutch,And [...]
Then Bernard smiled at me, that I should gazeBut I had gazed already; caught the view,Faced the unfathomable ray of raysWhich to itself and by itself is true.
Then was my vision mightier than man’s speech;Speech snapt before it like a flying spell;And memory and all that time can teachBefore that splendid outrage failed and fell.
O God of earth and altar,Bow down and hear our cryOur earthly rulers falter,Our people drift and die;The walls of gold entomb us,The swords of scorn divide,Take not thy thunder from us,But take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,From lies of tongue and pen,From all the easy speechesThat comfort cruel men,From sale and profanationOf [...]
TO BE SUNG A LONG TIME AGO–OR HENCE
St. Joseph to the Carpenters said on a Christmas Day:“The master shall have patience and the prentice shall obey;And your word unto your women shall be nowise hard or wild:For the sake of me, your master, who have worshipped Wife and Child.But softly you shall frame the [...]
The thatch on the roof was as golden,Though dusty the straw was and old,The wind had a peal as of trumpets,Though blowing and barren and cold,The mother’s hair was a gloryThough loosened and torn,For under the eaves in the gloamingA child was born.
Have a myriad children been quickened.Have a myriad children grown old,Grown gross and [...]
There is heard a hymn when the panes dimAnd never before or again,When the nights are strong with a darkness long,And the dark is alive with rain.
Never we know but in sleet and in snow,The place where the great fires are,That the midst of the earth is a raging mirthAnd the heart of the earth [...]
Other loves may sink and settle, other loves may loose and slack,But I wander like a minstrel with a harp upon his back,Though the harp be on my bosom, though I finger and I fret,Still, my hope is all before me: for I cannot play it yet.
In your strings is hid a music that no [...]
……………..COME AWAY–WITH THE FAIRIES, HAND IN HAND,FOR THE WORLD IS MORE FULL OF WEEPINGTHAN YOU CAN UNDERSTAND.
From the Wood of the Old Wives’ FablesThey glittered out of the grey,And with all the Armies of Elf-landI strove like a beast at bay;
With only a right arm wearied,Only a red sword worn,And the pride of the [...]
It is something to have wept as we have wept,It is something to have done as we have done,It is something to have watched when all men slept,And seen the stars which never see the sun.
It is something to have smelt the mystic rose,Although it break and leave the thorny rods,It is something to have [...]
Why should we reck of hours that rendWhile we two ride together?The heavens rent from end to endWould be but windy weather,The strong stars shaken down in spateWould be a shower of spring,And we should list the trump of fateAnd hear a linnet sing.
We break the line with stroke and luck,The arrows run like rain,If [...]
With leaves below and leaves above,And groping under tree and tree,I found the home of my true love,Who is a wandering home for me.
Who, lost in ruined worlds aloof,Bore the dread dove wings like a roof;Who, past the last lost stars of spaceCarried the fire-light on her face.
Who, passing as in idle hours,Tamed the wild [...]
Step softly, under snow or rain,To find the place where men can pray;The way is all so very plainThat we may lose the way.
Oh, we have learnt to peer and poreOn tortured puzzles from our youth,We know all labyrinthine lore,We are the three wise mert of yore,And we know all things but the truth.
We have [...]
There fared a mother driven forthOut of an inn to roam;In the place where she was homelessAll men are at home.The crazy stable close at hand,With shaking timber and shifting sand,Grew a stronger thing to abide and standThan the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,And strangers under the sun,And they lay [...]
When the first Christmas presents came, the straw where Christ was rolledSmelt sweeter than their frankincense, burnt brighter than their gold,And a wise man said, “We will not give; the thanks would be but cold.”
“Nay,” said the next, “To all new gifts, to this gift or another,Bends the high gratitude of God; even as He [...]
Of old with a divided heartI saw my people’s pride expand,Since a man’s soul is torn apartBy mother earth and fatherland.
I knew, through many a tangled tale,Glory and truth not one but two:King, Constable, and AmirailTook me like trumpets: but I knew
A blacker thing than blood’s own dyeWeighed down great Hawkins on the sea;And Nelson [...]
Low and brown barns thatched and repatched and tatteredWhere I had seven sons until to-day,A little hill of hay your spur has scattered….This is not Paris. You have lost the way.
You, staring at your sword to find it brittle,Surprised at the surprise that was your plan,Who shaking and breaking barriers not a littleFind never more [...]
I have come forth alive from the land of purple and poison and glamour,Where the charm is strong as the torture, being chosen to change the mind;Torture of wordless dance and wineless feast without clamour,Palace hidden in palace, garden with garden behind;
Women veiled in the sun, or bare as brass in the shadows,And the endless [...]
The star-crowned cliffs seem hinged upon the sky,The clouds are floating rags across them curled,They open to us like the gates of GodCloven in the last great wall of all the world.
I looked, and saw the valley of my soulWhere naked crests fight to achieve the skies,Where no grain grows nor wine, no fruitful thing,Only [...]
There is a place where lute and lyre are broken.Where scrolls are torn and on a wild wind go,Where tablets stand wiped naked for a token,Where laurels wither and the daisies grow.
Lo: I too join the brotherhood of silence,I am Love’s Trappist and you ask in vain,For man through Love’s gate, even as through Death’s [...]
THE DEDICATION OF THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay.Round us in antic order their crippled vices [...]
THE DEDICATION OF THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL
For every tiny town or placeGod made the stars especially;Babies look up with owlish faceAnd see them tangled in a tree:You saw a moon from Sussex Downs,A Sussex moon, untravelled still,I saw a moon that was the town’s,The largest lamp on Campden Hill.
Yea, Heaven is everywhere at home.The [...]
Words, for alas my trade is words, a barren burst of rhyme,Rubbed by a hundred rhymesters, battered a thousand times,Take them, you, that smile on strings, those nobler sounds than mine,The words that never lie, or brag, or flatter, or malign.
I give a hand to my lady, another to my friend,To whom you too have [...]
White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,For the inmost sea of all the earth [...]
What will there be to rememberOf us in the days to be?Whose faith was a trodden emberAnd even our doubt not free;Parliaments built of paper,And the soft swords of goldThat twist like a waxen taperIn the weak aggressor’s hold;A hush around Hunger, slayingA city of serfs unfed;What shall we leave for a sayingTo praise us [...]
Heaven shall forgive you Bridge at dawn,The clothes you wear–or do not wear–And Ladies’ Leap-frog on the lawnAnd dyes and drugs, and petits verres.Your vicious things shall melt in air …… But for the Virtuous Things you do,The Righteous Work, the Public Care,It shall not be forgiven you.
Because you could not even yawnWhen your Committees [...]
They spoke of Progress spiring round,Of Light and Mrs. Humphry Ward–It is not true to say I frowned,Or ran about the room and roared;I might have simply sat and snored–I rose politely in the clubAnd said, “I feel a little bored;Will someone take me to a pub?”
The new world’s wisest did surroundMe; and it pains [...]
I have not read a rotten pageOf “Sex-Hate” or “The Social Test,”And here comes “Husks” and “Heritage”….O Moses, give us all a rest!“Ethics of Empire”!… I protestI will not even cut the strings,I’ll read “Jack Redskin on the Quest”And feed my brain with better things.
Somebody wants a Wiser Age(He also wants me to invest);Somebody likes [...]
If there is to rise out of all this red ruin something like a republic of justice, it is essential that our views should be real views; that is, glimpses of lives and landscapes outside ourselves. It is essential that they should not be mere opium visions that begin and end in smoke–and so often [...]