Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: G. K. Chesterton, A Critical Study
Author: West, Julius, 1891-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "G. K. Chesterton, A Critical Study" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



G. K. CHESTERTON



_UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME:_

          W. B. YEATS
            BY FORREST REID

          J. M. SYNGE
            BY P. P. HOWE

          HENRY JAMES
            BY FORD MADOX HUEFFER

          HENRIK IBSEN
            BY R. ELLIS ROBERTS

          THOMAS HARDY
            BY LASCELLES ABERCROMBIE

          BERNARD SHAW
            BY P. P. HOWE

          WALTER PATER
            BY EDWARD THOMAS

          WALT WHITMAN
            BY BASIL DE SELINCOURT

          SAMUEL BUTLER
            BY GILBERT CANNAN

          A. C. SWINBURNE
            BY EDWARD THOMAS

          GEORGE GISSING
            BY FRANK SWINNERTON

          R. L. STEVENSON
            BY FRANK SWINNERTON

          RUDYARD KIPLING
            BY CYRIL FALLS

          WILLIAM MORRIS
            BY JOHN DRINKWATER

          ROBERT BRIDGES
            BY F. E. BRETT YOUNG

          FYODOR DOSTOIEVSKY
            BY J. MIDDLETON MURRY

          MAURICE MAETERLINCK
            BY UNA TAYLOR



[Illustration: G. K. Chesterton.

from a photograph by Hector Murchison]



G. K. CHESTERTON

A CRITICAL STUDY

BY

JULIUS WEST

          LONDON
          MARTIN  SECKER
          NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET
          ADELPHI
          MCMXV

I HAVE to express my gratitude to Messrs. Burns and Oates, Messrs.
Methuen and Co., and Mr. Martin Seeker for their kind permission to
quote from works by Mr. G. K. Chesterton published by them. I have also
to express my qualified thanks to Mr. John Lane for his conditional
permission to quote from books by the same author published by him. My
thanks are further due, for a similar reason, to Mr. Chesterton
himself.

          TO
          J. C. SQUIRE



CONTENTS


          CHAPTER                                              PAGE
             I. INTRODUCTORY                                     11
            II. THE ROMANCER                                     23
           III. THE MAKER OF MAGIC                               59
            IV. THE CRITIC OF LARGE THINGS                       76
             V. THE HUMORIST AND THE POET                        91
            VI. THE RELIGION OF A DEBATER                       109
           VII. THE POLITICIAN WHO COULD NOT TELL THE TIME      136
          VIII. A DECADENT OF SORTS                             163
                BIBLIOGRAPHY                                    185



I

INTRODUCTORY


THE habit, to which we are so much addicted, of writing books about
other people who have written books, will probably be a source of
intense discomfort to its practitioners in the twenty-first century.
Like the rest of their kind, they will pin their ambition to the
possibility of indulging in epigram at the expense of their
contemporaries. In order to lead up to the achievement of this desire
they will have to work in the nineteenth century and the twentieth.
Between the two they will find an obstacle of some terror. The eighteen
nineties will lie in their path, blocking the way like an unhealthy
moat, which some myopes might almost mistake for an aquarium. All manner
of queer fish may be discerned in these unclear waters.

To drop the metaphor, our historians will find themselves confronted by
a startling change. The great Victorians write no longer, but are
succeeded by eccentrics. There is Kipling, undoubtedly the most gifted
of them all, but not everybody's darling for all that. There is that
prolific trio of best-sellers, Mrs. Humphry Ward, Miss Marie Corelli,
and Mr. Hall Caine. There is Oscar Wilde, who has a vast reputation on
the Continent, but never succeeded in convincing the British that he was
much more than a compromise between a joke and a smell. There is the
whole Yellow Book team, who never succeeded in convincing anybody. The
economic basis of authorship had been shaken by the abolition of the
three-volume novel. The intellectual basis had been lulled to sleep by
that hotchpotch of convention and largeness that we call the Victorian
Era. Literature began to be an effort to express the inexpressible,
resulting in outraged grammar and many dots. . . .

English literature at the end of the last century stood in sore need of
some of the elementary virtues. If obviousness and simplicity are liable
to be overdone, they are not so deadly in their after-effects as the
bizarre and the extravagant. The literary movement of the eighteen
nineties was like a strong stimulant given to a patient dying of old
age. Its results were energetic, but the energy was convulsive. We
should laugh if we saw a man apparently dancing in mid-air--until we
noticed the rope about his neck. It is impossible to account for the
success of the Yellow Book school and its congeners save on the
assumption that the rope was, generally speaking, invisible.

In this Year of Grace, 1915, we are still too close to the eighteen
nineties, still too liable to be influenced by their ways, to be able to
speak for posterity and to pronounce the final judgment upon those evil
years. It is possible that the critics of the twenty-first century, as
they turn over the musty pages of the Yellow Book, will ejaculate with
feeling: "Good God, what a dull time these people must have had!" On the
whole it is probable that this will be their verdict. They will detect
the dullness behind the mechanical brilliancy of Oscar Wilde, and
recognize the strange hues of the whole Æsthetic Movement as the
garments of men who could not, or would not see. There is really no
rational alternative before our critics of the next century; if the men
of the eighteen nineties, and the queer things they gave us, were not
the products of an intense boredom, if, in strict point of fact, Wilde,
Beardsley, Davidson, Hankin, Dowson, and Lionel Johnson were men who
rollicked in the warm sunshine of the late Victorian period, then the
suicide, drunkenness and vice with which they were afflicted is surely
the strangest phenomenon in the history of human nature. To many people,
those years actually were dull.

          The years from 1885 to 1898 were like the hours of
          afternoon in a rich house with large rooms; the
          hours before teatime. They believed in nothing
          except good manners; and the essence of good
          manners is to conceal a yawn. A yawn may be
          defined as a silent yell.

So says Chesterton, yawning prodigiously.

One may even go farther, and declare that in those dark days a yawn was
the true sign of intelligence. It is no mere coincidence that the two
cleverest literary debutants of that last decade, Mr. Max Beerbohm and
the subject of this essay, both stepped on the stage making a pretty
exhibition of boredom. When the first of these published, in 1896, being
then twenty-four years old, his Works of Max Beerbohm he murmured in the
preface, "I shall write no more. Already I begin to feel myself a trifle
outmoded. . . . Younger men, with months of activity before them . . .
have pressed forward. . . . _Cedo junioribus._"

So too, when Chesterton produced his first book, four years later, he
called it _Greybeards at Play: Literature and Art for Old Gentlemen_,
and the dedication contained this verse:

          Now we are old and wise and grey,
            And shaky at the knees;
          Now is the true time to delight
            In picture books like these.

The joke would have been pointless in any other age. In 1900, directed
against the crapulous exoticism of contemporary literature, it was an
antidote, childhood was being used as a medicine against an assumed
attack of second childhood. The attack began with nonsense rhymes and
pictures. It was a complete success from the very first. There is this
important difference between the writer of nonsense verses and their
illustrator; the former must let himself go as much as he can, the
latter must hold himself in. In _Greybeards at Play_, Chesterton took
the bit between his teeth, and bolted faster than Edward Lear had ever
done. The antitheses of such verses as the following are irresistible:

          For me, as Mr. Wordsworth says,
            The duties shine like stars;
          I formed my uncle's character,
            Decreasing his cigars.

Or

          The Shopmen, when their souls were still,
            Declined to open shops--
          And cooks recorded frames of mind,
            In sad and subtle chops.

The drawings which accompanied these gems, it may be added, were such as
the verses deserved. They exhibit a joyous inconsistency, the
disproportion which is the essence of parody combined with the accuracy
which is the _sine qua non_ of satire.

About a month after Chesterton had produced his statement of his extreme
senility (the actual words of the affidavit are

          I am, I think I have remarked, [he had not],
            Terrifically old.)

he published another little book, _The Wild Knight and Other Poems_, as
evidence of his youth. For some years past he had occasionally written
more or less topical verses which appeared in The Outlook and the
defunct Speaker. _Greybeards at Play_ was, after all, merely an
elaborate sneer at the boredom of a decade; the second book was a more
definite attack upon some points of its creeds and an assertion of the
principles which mattered most.

          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.

Or again (_The World's Lover_)

          I stood and spoke a blasphemy--
          "Behold the summer leaves are green."

It was a defence of reality, crying for vengeance upon the realists. The
word realism had come to be the trade-mark of Zola and his followers,
especially of Mr. George Moore, who made a sacrifice of nine obvious,
clean and unsinkable aspects of life so as to concentrate upon the
submersible tenth. Chesterton came out with his defence of the common
man, of the streets

          Where shift in strange democracy
              The million masks of God,

the grass, and all the little things of life, "things" in general, for
our subject, alone among modern poets, is not afraid to use the word. If
on one occasion he can merely

          . . . feel vaguely thankful to the vast
          Stupidity of things,

on another he will speak of

          The whole divine democracy of things,

a line which is a challenge to the unbeliever, a statement of a
political creed which is the outgrowth of a religious faith.

The same year Chesterton formally stepped into the ranks of journalism
and joined the staff of The Daily News. He had scribbled poems since he
had been a boy at St. Paul's School. In the years following he had
watched other people working at the Slade, while he had gone on
scribbling. Then he had begun to do little odd jobs of art criticism
and reviewing for The Bookman and put in occasional appearances in the
statelier columns of The Speaker. Then came the Boer War, which made G.
K. Chesterton lose his temper but find his soul. In 1900 The Daily News
passed into new hands--the hands of G.K.C.'s friends. And until 1913,
when the causes he had come to uphold were just diametrically opposed to
the causes the victorious Liberal Party had adopted, every Saturday
morning's issue of that paper contained an article by him, while often
enough there appeared signed reviews and poems. The situation was absurd
enough. The Daily News was the organ of Nonconformists, and G.K.C.
preached orthodoxy to them. It advocated temperance, and G.K.C.
advocated beer. At first this was sufficiently amusing, and nobody
minded much. But before Chesterton severed his connection with the
paper, its readers had come to expect a weekly article that almost
invariably contained an attack upon one of their pet beliefs, and often
enough had to be corrected by a leader on the same page. But the
Chesterton of 1900 was a spokesman of the Liberalism of his day,
independent, not the intractable monster who scoffed, a few years later,
at all the parties in the State.

At this point one is reminded of Watts-Dunton's definition of the two
kinds of humour in The Renascence of Wonder: "While in the case of
relative humour that which amuses the humorist is the incongruity of
some departure from the laws of convention, in the case of absolute
humour it is the incongruity of some departure from the normal as fixed
by nature herself." We have our doubts as to the general application of
this definition: but it applies so well to Chesterton that it might
almost have come off his study walls. What made a series of more than
six hundred articles by him acceptable to The Daily News was just the
skilful handling of "the laws of convention," and "the normal as fixed
by nature herself." On the theory enunciated by Watts-Dunton, everything
except the perfect average is absolutely funny, and the perfect average,
of course, is generally an incommensurable quantity. Chesterton
carefully made it his business to present the eccentricity--I use the
word in its literal sense--of most things, and the humour followed in
accordance with the above definition. The method was simple. Chesterton
invented some grotesque situation, some hypothesis which was glaringly
absurd. He then placed it in an abrupt juxtaposition with the normal,
instead of working from the normal to the actual, in the usual manner.
Just as the reader was beginning to protest against the reversal of his
accustomed values, G.K.C. would strip the grotesque of a few
inessentials, and, lo! a parable. A few strokes of irony and wit, an
epigram or two infallibly placed where it would distract attention from
a weak point in the argument, and the thing was complete. By such means
Chesterton developed the use of a veritable Excalibur of controversy, a
tool of great might in political journalism. These methods, pursued a
few years longer, taught him a craftsmanship he could employ for purely
romantic ends. How he employed it, and the opinions which he sought to
uphold by its means will be the subjects of the following chapters.
Chesterton sallied forth like a Crusader against the political and
literary Turks who had unjustly come into possession of a part of the
heritage of a Christian people. We must not forget that the leading
characteristic of a Crusader is his power of invigorating, which he
applies impartially to virtues and to vices. There is a great difference
between a Crusader and a Christian, which is not commonly realized. The
latter attempts to show his love for his enemy by abolishing his
unchristianness, the former by abolishing him altogether. Although the
two methods are apt to give curiously similar results, the distinction
between a Crusader and a Christian is radical and will be considered in
greater detail in the course of this study. This study does not profess
to be biographical, and only the essential facts of Chesterton's life
need be given here. These are, that he was born in London in 1873, is
the son of a West London estate agent who is also an artist and a
children's poet in a small but charming way, is married and has
children. Perhaps it is more necessary to record the fact that he is
greatly read by the youth of his day, that he comes in for much amused
tolerance, that, generally speaking, he is not recognized as a great or
courageous thinker, even by those people who understand his views well
enough to dissent from them entirely, and that he is regarded less as a
stylist, than as the owner of a trick of style. These are the false
beliefs that I seek to combat. The last may be disposed of summarily.
When an author's style is completely sincere, and completely part of
him, it has this characteristic; it is almost impossible to imitate.
Nobody has ever successfully parodied Shakespeare, for example; there
are not even any good parodies of Mr. Shaw. And Chesterton remains
unparodied; even Mr. Max Beerbohm's effort in A Christmas Garland rings
false. His style is individual. He has not "played the sedulous ape."

But, on the other hand, it is not proposed to acquit Chesterton of all
the charges brought against him. The average human being is partly a
prig and partly a saint; and sometimes men are so glad to get rid of a
prig that they are ready to call him a saint--Simon Stylites, for
example. And it is not suggested that the author of the remark, "There
are only three things that women do not understand. They are Liberty,
Equality, Fraternity," is not a prig, for a demonstration that he is a
complete gentleman would obviously leave other matters of importance
inconveniently crowded out. We are confronted with a figure of some
significance in these times. He represents what has been called in other
spheres than his "the anti-intellectualist reaction." We must answer the
questions; to what extent does he represent mere unqualified reaction?
What are his qualifications as a craftsman? What, after all, has he
done?

And we begin with his romances.



II

THE ROMANCER


In spite of Chesterton's liberal production of books, it is not
altogether simple to classify them into "periods," in the manner beloved
of the critic, nor even to sort them out according to subjects. G.K.C.
can (and generally does) inscribe an Essay on the Nature of Religion
into his novels, together with other confusing ingredients to such an
extent that most readers would consider it pure pedantry on the part of
anybody to insist that a Chestertonian romance need differ appreciably
from a Chestertonian essay, poem, or criticism. That a book by G.K.C.
should describe itself as a novel means little more than that its
original purchasing price was four shillings and sixpence. It might also
contain passages of love, hate, and other human emotions, but then
again, it might not. But one thing it would contain, and that is war.
G.K.C. would be pugnacious, even when there was nothing to fight. His
characters would wage their wars, even when the bone of contention
mattered as little as the handle of an old toothbrush. That, we should
say, is the first factor in the formula of the Chestertonian
romance--and all the rest are the inventor's secret. Imprimis, a body of
men and an idea, and the rest must follow, if only the idea be big
enough for a man to fight about, or if need be, even to make himself
ridiculous about.

In _The Napoleon of Notting Hill_ we have this view of romance stated in
a manner entirely typical of its author. King Auberon and the Provost of
Notting Hill, Adam Wayne, are speaking. The latter says:

          "I know of a magic wand, but it is a wand that
          only one or two may rightly use, and only seldom.
          It is a fairy wand of great fear, stronger than
          those who use it--often frightful, often wicked to
          use. But whatever is touched with it is never
          again wholly common; whatever is touched with it
          takes a magic from outside the world. If I touch,
          with this fairy wand, the railways and the roads
          of Notting Hill, men will love them, and be afraid
          of them for ever."

          "What the devil are you talking about?" asked the
          King.

          "It has made mean landscapes magnificent, and
          hovels outlast cathedrals," went on the madman.
          "Why should it not make lamp-posts fairer than
          Greek lamps, and an omnibus-ride like a painted
          ship? The touch of it is the finger of a strange
          perfection."

          "What is your wand?" cried the King, impatiently.

          "There it is," said Wayne; and pointed to the
          floor, where his sword lay flat and shining.

If all the dragons of old romance were loosed upon the fiction of our
day, the result, one would imagine, would be something like that of a
Chestertonian novel. But the dragons are dead and converted into poor
fossil ichthyosauruses, incapable of biting the timidest damsel or the
most corpulent knight that ever came out of the Stock Exchange. That is
the tragedy of G.K.C.'s ideas, but it is also his opportunity. "Man is a
creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by
catch-words," says Stevenson. "Give me my dragons," says G.K.C. in
effect, "and I will give you your catch-words. You may have them in any
one of a hundred different ways. I will drop them on you when you least
expect them, and their disguises will outrange all those known to
Scotland Yard and to Drury Lane combined. You may have catastrophes and
comets and camels, if you will, but you will certainly have your
catch-words."

The first of Chesterton's novels, in order of their publication, is _The
Napoleon of Notting Hill_ (1904). This is extravagance itself; fiction
in the sense only that the events never happened and never could have
happened. The scene is placed in London, the time, about A.D. 1984.
"This 'ere progress, it keeps on goin' on," somebody remarks in one of
the novels of Mr. H. G. Wells. But it never goes on as the prophets said
it would, and consequently England in those days does not greatly differ
from the England of to-day. There have been changes, of course. Kings
are now chosen in alphabetical rotation, and the choice falls upon a
civil servant, Auberon Quin by name. Now Quin has a sense of humour, of
absolute humour, as the Watts-Dunton definition already cited would have
it called. He has two bosom friends who are also civil servants and
whose humour is of the official variety, and whose outlook upon life is
that of a Times leader. Quin's first official act is the publication of
a proclamation ordering every London borough to build itself city walls,
with gates to be closed at sunset, and to become possessed of Provosts
in mediæval attire, with guards of halberdiers. From his throne he
attends to some of the picturesque details of the scheme, and enjoys the
joke in silence. But after a few years of this a young man named Adam
Wayne becomes Provost of Notting Hill, and to him his borough, and more
especially the little street in which he has spent his life, are things
of immense importance. Rather than allow that street to make way for a
new thoroughfare, Wayne rallies his halberdiers to the defence of their
borough. The Provosts of North Kensington and South Kensington, of West
Kensington and Bayswater, rally their guards too, and attack Notting
Hill, purposing to clear Wayne out of the way and to break down the
offending street. Wayne is surrounded at night but converts defeat into
victory by seizing the offices of a Gas Company and turning off the
street lights. The next day he is besieged in his own street. By a
sudden sortie he and his army escape to Campden Hill. Here a great
battle rages for many hours, while one of the opposing Provosts gathers
a large army for a final attack. At last Wayne and the remnants of his
men are hopelessly outnumbered, but once more he turns defeat into
victory. He threatens, unless the opposing forces instantly surrender,
to open the great reservoir and flood the whole of Notting Hill. The
allied generals surrender, and the Empire of Notting Hill comes into
being. Twenty years later the spirit of Adam Wayne has gone beyond his
own city walls. London is a wild romance, a mass of cities filled with
citizens of great pride. But the Empire, which has been the Nazareth of
the new idea, has waxed fat and kicked. In righteous anger the other
boroughs attack it, and win, because their cause is just. King Auberon,
a recruit in Wayne's army, falls with his leader in the great battle of
Kensington Gardens. But they recover in the morning.

          "It was all a joke," says the King in apology.
          "No," says Wayne; "we are two lobes of the same
          brain . . . you, the humorist . . . I, the
          fanatic. . . . You have a halberd and I have a sword,
          let us start our wanderings over the world. For we are
          its two essentials."

So ends the story.

Consider the preposterous elements of the book. A London with blue
horse-'buses. Bloodthirsty battles chiefly fought with halberds. A King
who acts as a war correspondent and parodies G. W. Stevens. It is
preposterous because it is romantic and we are not used to romance. But
to Chaucer let us say it would have appeared preposterous because he
could not have realized the initial premises. Before such a book the
average reader is helpless. His scale of values is knocked out of
working order by the very first page, almost by the very first sentence.
("The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been
playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it
till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.") The
absence of a love affair will deprive him of the only "human interest"
he can be really sure of. The Chestertonian idiom, above all, will soon
lead him to expect nothing, because he can never get any idea of what he
is to receive, and will bring him to a proper submissiveness. The later
stages are simple. The reader will wonder why it never before occurred
to him that area-railings are very like spears, and that a distant
tramcar may at night distinctly resemble a dragon. He may travel far,
once his imagination has been started on these lines. When romantic
possibilities have once shed a glow on the offices of the Gas Light and
Coke Company and on the erections of the Metropolitan Water Board, the
rest of life may well seem filled with wonder and wild desires.

Chesterton may be held to have invented a new species of detective
story--the sort that has no crime, no criminal, and a detective whose
processes are transcendental. _The Club of Queer Trades_ is the first
batch of such stories. _The Man who was Thursday_ is another specimen of
some length. More recently, Chesterton has repeated the type in some of
the _Father Brown_ stories. In _The Club of Queer Trades_, the
transcendental detective is Basil Grant, to describe whom with accuracy
is difficult, because of his author's inconsistencies. Basil Grant, for
instance, is "a man who scarcely stirred out of his attic," yet it would
appear elsewhere that he walked abroad often enough. The essentials of
this unprecedented detective are, however, sufficiently tangible. He had
been a K.C. and a judge. He had left the Bench because it annoyed him,
and because he held the very human but not legitimate belief that some
criminals would be better off with a trip to the seaside than with a
sentence of imprisonment. After his retirement from public life he stuck
to his old trade as the judge of a Voluntary Criminal Court. "My
criminals were tried for the faults which really make social life
impossible. They were tried before me for selfishness, or for an
impossible vanity, or for scandal-mongering, or for stinginess to guests
or dependents." It is regrettable that Chesterton does not grant us a
glimpse of this fascinating tribunal at work. However, it is Grant's
job, on the strength of which he becomes the president and founder of
the C.Q.T.--Club of Queer Trades. Among the members of this Club are a
gentleman who runs an Adventure and Romance Agency for supplying thrills
to the bourgeois, two Professional Detainers, and an Agent for Arboreal
Villas, who lets off a variety of birds' nest. The way in which these
people go about their curious tasks invariably suggests a crime to
Rupert Grant, Basil's amateur detective brother, whereupon Basil has to
intervene to put matters right. The author does not appear to have been
struck by the inconsistency of setting Basil to work to ferret out the
doings of his fellow club-members. The book is, in fact, full of joyous
inconsistencies. The Agent for Arboreal Villas is clearly unqualified
for the membership of the Club. Professor Chadd has no business there
either. He is elected on the strength of having invented a language
expressed by dancing, but it appears that he is really an employee in
the Asiatic MSS. Department of the British Museum. Things are extremely
absurd in _The Eccentric Seclusion of the Old Lady_. At the instigation
of Rupert, who has heard sighs of pain coming out of a South Kensington
basement, Basil, Rupert, and the man who tells the story, break into the
house and violently assault those whom they meet.

          Basil sprang up with dancing eyes, and with three
          blows like battering-rams knocked the footman into
          a cocked hat. Then he sprang on top of Burrows,
          with one antimacassar in his hand and another in
          his teeth, and bound him hand and foot almost
          before he knew clearly that his head had struck
          the floor. Then Basil sprang at Greenwood . . .
          etc. etc.

There is a good deal more like this. Having taken the citadel and
captured the defenders (as Cæsar might say), Basil and company reach the
sighing lady of the basement. But she refuses to be released. Whereupon
Basil explains his own queer trade, and that the lady is voluntarily
undergoing a sentence for backbiting. No explanation is vouchsafed of
the strange behaviour of Basil Grant in attacking men who, as he knew,
were doing nothing they should not. Presumably it was due to a
Chestertonian theory that there should be at least one good physical
fight in each book.

It will be seen that _The Club of Queer Trades_ tends to curl up
somewhat (quite literally, in the sense that the end comes almost where
the beginning ought to be) when it receives heavy and serious treatment.
I should therefore explain that this serious treatment has been given
under protest, and that its primary intention has been to deal with
those well-meaning critics who believe that Chesterton can write
fiction, in the ordinary sense of the word. His own excellent definition
of fictitious narrative (in _The Victorian Age in Literature_) is that
essentially "the story is told . . . for the sake of some study of the
difference between human beings." This alone is enough to exculpate him
of the charge of writing novels. The Chestertonian short story is also
in its way unique. If we applied the methods of the Higher Criticism to
the story just described, we might base all manner of odd theories upon
the defeat (_inter alios_) of Burrows, a big and burly youth, by Basil
Grant, aged sixty at the very least, and armed with antimacassars. But
there is no necessity. If Chesterton invents a fantastic world, full of
fantastic people who speak Chestertonese, then he is quite entitled to
waive any trifling conventions which hinder the liberty of his subjects.
As already pointed out, such is his humour. The only disadvantage, as
somebody once complained of the Arabian Nights, is that one is apt to
lose one's interest in a hero who is liable at any moment to turn into a
camel. None of Chesterton's heroes do, as a matter of fact, become
camels, but I would nevertheless strongly advise any young woman about
to marry one of them to take out an insurance policy against unforeseen
transformations.

Although it appears that a few reviewers went to the length of reading
the whole of _The Man who was Thursday_ (1908), it is obvious by their
subsequent guesswork that they did not notice the second part of the
title, which is, very simply, _A Nightmare_. The story takes its name
from the Supreme Council of Anarchists, which has seven members, named
after the days of the week. Sunday is the Chairman. The others, one
after the other, turn out to be detectives. Syme, the nearest approach
to the what might be called the hero, is a poet whom mysterious hands
thrust into an Anarchists' meeting, at which he is elected to fill the
vacancy caused by the death of last Thursday. A little earlier other
mysterious hands had taken him into a dark room in Scotland Yard where
the voice of an unseen man had told him that henceforth he was a member
of the anti-anarchist corps, a new body which was to deal with the new
anarchists--not the comparatively harmless people who threw bombs, but
the intellectual anarchist. "We say that the most dangerous criminal now
is the entirely lawless modern philosopher," somebody explains to him.
The bewildered Syme walks straight into further bewilderments, as, one
after the other, the week-days of the committee are revealed. But who is
Sunday? Chesterton makes no reply. It was he who in a darkened room of
Scotland Yard had enrolled the detectives. He is the Nightmare of the
story. The first few chapters are perfectly straightforward, and
lifelike to the extent of describing personal details in a somewhat
exceptional manner for Chesterton. But, gradually, wilder and wilder
things begin to happen--until, at last, Syme wakes up.

The trouble about _The Man who was Thursday_ is not its
incomprehensibility, but its author's gradual decline of interest in the
book as it lengthened out. It begins excellently. There is real humour
and a good deal of it in the earlier stages of Syme. And there are
passages like this one on the "lawless modern philosopher":

          Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are
          essentially moral men; my heart goes out to
          them. . . . Thieves respect property. They merely
          wish the property to become their property that
          they may more perfectly respect it. But
          philosophers dislike property as property; they
          wish to destroy the very idea of personal
          possession. Bigamists respect marriage, or they
          would not go through the highly ceremonial and
          even ritualistic formality of bigamy. But
          philosophers despise marriage as marriage.

But his amiable flow of paradox soon runs out. The end of the book is
just a wild whirl, a nightmare with a touch of the cinematograph. People
chase one another, in one instance they quite literally chase
themselves. And the ending has all the effect of a damaged film that
cannot be stopped, on the large blank spaces of which some idiot has
been drawing absurd pictures which appear on the screen, to the
confusion of the story. One remembers the immense and dominating figure
of Sunday, only because the description of him reads very much like a
description of Chesterton himself. But if the person is recognizable,
the personality remains deliberately incomprehensible. He is just an
outline in space, who rode down Albany Street on an elephant abducted
from the Zoological Gardens, and who spoke sadly to his guests when they
had run their last race against him.

Until recent years the word mysticism was sufficiently true to its
derivation to imply mystery, the relation of God to man. But since the
cheaper sort of journalist seized hold of the unhappy word, its
demoralization has been complete. It now indicates, generally speaking,
an intellectual defect which expresses itself in a literary quality one
can only call woolliness. There is a genuine mysticism, expressed in
Blake's lines:

          To see the world in a grain of sand
            And a Heaven in a wild flower,
          Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
            And Eternity in an hour.

And there is a spurious mysticism, meaningless rubbish of which
Rossetti's Sister Helen is a specimen. What could be more idiotic than
the verse:

           "He has made a sign and called Halloo!
                        Sister Helen,
           And he says that he would speak with you."
           "Oh tell him I fear the frozen dew,
                        Little brother."
                        (_O Mother, Mary Mother,_
          _Why laughs she thus between Hell and Heaven?_)

The trouble about the latter variety is its extreme simplicity. Anybody
with the gift of being able to make lines scan and rhyme can produce
similar effects in a similar way. Hence the enormous temptation
exercised by this form of mysticism gone wrong. There is a naughty
little story of a little girl, relating to her mother the mishaps of the
family coal merchant, as seen from the dining-room window. He slipped on
a piece of orange-peel, the child had explained. "And what happened
then?" "Why, mummy, he sat down on the pavement and talked about God."
Chesterton (and he is not alone in this respect) behaves exactly like
this coal-heaver. When he is at a loss, he talks about God. In each case
one is given to suspect that the invocation is due to a temporarily
overworked imagination.

This leads us to _The Ball and the Cross_ (1906). In _The Man who was
Thursday_, when the author had tired of his story, he brought in the
universe at large. But its successor is dominated by God, and
discussions on him by beings celestial, terrestrial, and merely
infernal. And yet _The Ball and the Cross_ is in many respects
Chesterton's greatest novel. The first few chapters are things of joy.
There is much said in them about religion, but it is all sincere and
bracing. The first chapter consists, in the main, of a dialogue on
religion, between Professor Lucifer, the inventor and the driver of an
eccentric airship, and Father Michael, a theologian acquired by the
Professor in Western Bulgaria. As the airship dives into the ball and
the cross of Saint Paul's Cathedral, its passengers naturally find
themselves taking a deep interest in the cross, considered as symbol and
anchor. Lucifer plumps for the ball, the symbol of all that is rational
and united. The cross

         "is the conflict of two hostile lines, of
         irreconcilable direction. . . . The very shape
         of it is a contradiction in terms." Michael
         replies, "But we like contradictions in terms. Man
         is a contradiction in terms; he is a beast whose
         superiority to other beasts consists in having
         fallen."

Defeated on points, Lucifer leaves the Father clinging literally to the
cross and flies away. Michael meets a policeman on the upper gallery
and is conducted downwards. The scene changes to Ludgate Circus, but
Michael is no longer in the centre of it. A Scot named Turnbull keeps a
shop here, apparently in the endeavour to counterbalance the influence
of St. Paul's across the way. He is an atheist, selling atheist
literature, editing an atheist paper. Another Scot arrives, young Evan
MacIan, straight from the Highlands. Unlike the habitual Londoner,
MacIan takes the little shop seriously. In its window he sees a copy of
The Atheist, the leading article of which contains an insult to the
Virgin Mary. MacIan thereupon puts his stick through the window.
Turnbull comes out, there is a scuffle, and both are arrested and taken
before a Dickensian magistrate. The sketch of Mr. Cumberland Vane is
very pleasing: it is clear that the author knew what he was copying.
Lord Melbourne is alleged to have said, "No one has more respect for the
Christian religion than I have; but really, when it comes to intruding
it into private life. . . ." Mr. Vane felt much the same way when he
heard MacIan's simple explanation: "He is my enemy. He is the enemy of
God." He said, "It is most undesirable that things of that sort should
be spoken about--a--in public, and in an ordinary Court of Justice.
Religion is--a--too personal a matter to be mentioned in such a place."
However, MacIan is fined. After which he and Turnbull, as men of honour,
buy themselves swords and proceed to fight the matter out. With
interruptions due to argument and the police, the fight lasts several
weeks. Turnbull and MacIan fight in the back garden of the man from whom
they bought the swords,[1] until the police intervene. They escape the
police and gain the Northern Heights of London, and fight once more,
with a madness renewed and stimulated by the peace-making efforts of a
stray and silly Tolstoyan. Then the police come again, and are once more
outdistanced. This time mortal combat is postponed on account of the
sanguinolence of a casual lunatic who worshipped blood to such a
nauseating extent that the duellists deferred operations in order to
chase him into a pond. Then follows an interminable dialogue,
paradoxical, thoroughly Shavian, while the only two men in England to
whom God literally is a matter of life and death find that they begin to
regard the slaughter of one by the other as an unpleasant duty. Again
they fight and are separated. They are motored by a lady to the
Hampshire coast, and there they fight on the sands until the rising tide
cuts them off. An empty boat turns up to rescue them from drowning; in
it they reach one of the Channel Islands. Again they fight, and again
the police come. They escape from them, but remain on the island in
disguise, and make themselves an opportunity to pick a quarrel and so
fight a duel upon a matter in keeping with local prejudice. But Turnbull
has fallen in love. His irritatingly calm and beautiful devotee argues
with him on religion until he is driven to cast off his disguise. Then
the police are on his tracks again. A lunatic lends Turnbull and MacIan
his yacht and so the chase continues. But by this time Chesterton is
getting just a trifle bored. He realizes that no matter how many
adventures his heroes get into, or how many paradoxes they fling down
each other's throats, the end of the story, the final inevitable end
which alone makes a series of rapid adventures worth while, is not even
on the horizon. An element of that spurious mysticism already described
invades the book. It begins to be clear that Chesterton is trying to
drag in a moral somehow, if need be, by the hair of its head. The two
yachters spend two weeks of geographical perplexity and come to a
desert island. They land, but think it wiser, on the whole, to postpone
fighting until they have finished the champagne and cigars with which
their vessel is liberally stored. This takes a week. Just as they are
about to begin the definitive duel they discover that they are not upon
a desert island at all, they are near Margate. And the police are there,
too. So once more they are chased. They land in a large garden in front
of an old gentleman who assures them that he is God. He turns out to be
a lunatic, and the place an asylum. There follows a characteristic piece
of that abuse of science for which Chesterton has never attempted to
suggest a substitute. MacIan and Turnbull find themselves prisoners,
unable to get out. Then they dream dreams. Each sees himself in an
aeroplane flying over Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill, where a battle is
raging. But the woolly element is very pronounced by this time, and we
can make neither head nor tail of these dreams and the conversations
which accompany them. The duellists are imprisoned for a month in
horrible cells. They find their way into the garden, and are told that
all England is now in the hands of the alienists, by a new Act of
Parliament: this has been the only possible manner of putting a stop to
the revolution started by MacIan and Turnbull. These two find all the
persons they had met with during their odyssey, packed away in the
asylum, which is a wonderful place worked by petroleum machinery. But
the matter-of-fact grocer from the Channel Island, regarding the whole
affair as an infringement of the Rights of Man, sets the petroleum
alight. Michael, the celestial being who had appeared in the first
chapter and disappeared at the end of it, is dragged out of a cell in an
imbecile condition. Lucifer comes down in his airship to collect the
doctors, whose bodies he drops out, a little later on. The buildings
vanish in the flames, the keepers bolt, the inmates talk about their
souls. MacIan is reunited to the lady of the Channel Island, and the
story ends.

When a stone has been tossed into a pond, the ripples gradually and
symmetrically grow smaller. A Chesterton novel is like an adventurous
voyage of discovery, which begins on smooth water and is made with the
object of finding the causes of the ripples. As ripple succeeds
ripple--or chapter follows chapter--so we have to keep a tighter hold on
such tangible things as are within our reach. Finally we reach the
centre of the excitement and are either sucked into a whirlpool, or hit
on the head with a stone. When we recover consciousness we feebly
remember we have had a thrilling journey and that we had started out
with a misapprehension of the quality of Chestertonian fiction. A man
whose memory is normal should be able to give an accurate synopsis of a
novel six months after he has read it. But I should be greatly surprised
if any reader of _The Ball and the Cross_ could tell exactly what it was
all about, within a month or two of reading it. The discontinuity of it
makes one difficulty; the substitution of paradox for incident makes
another. Yet it is difficult to avoid the conviction that this novel
will survive its day and the generation that begot it. If it was
Chesterton's endeavour (as one is bound to suspect) to show that the
triumph of atheism would lead to the triumph of a callous and inhuman
body of scientists, then he has failed miserably. But if he was
attempting to prove that the uncertainties of religion were trivial
things when compared with the uncertainties of atheism, then the verdict
must be reversed. The dialogues on religion contained in _The Ball and
the Cross_ are alone enough and more than enough to place it among the
few books on religion which could be safely placed in the hands of an
atheist or an agnostic with an intelligence.

If we consider _Manalive_ (1912) now we shall be departing from strict
chronological order, as it was preceded by _The Innocence of Father
Brown_. It will, however, be more satisfactory to take the two Father
Brown books together. In the first of these and _Manalive_, a change can
be distinctly felt. It is not a simple weakening of the power of
employing instruments, such as befell Ibsen when, after writing The Lady
from the Sea, he could no longer keep his symbols and his characters
apart. It is a more subtle change, a combination of several small
changes, which cannot be studied fairly in relation only to one side of
Chesterton's work. In the last chapter an attempt will be made to
analyze these, for the present I can only indicate some of the
fallings-off noticeable in _Manalive_, and leave it at that.
Chesterton's previous romances were not constructed, the reader may have
gathered, with that minute attention to detail which makes some modern
novels read like the report of a newly promoted detective. But a man may
do such things and yet be considered spotless. Shakespeare, after all,
went astray on several points of history and geography. The authors of
the Old Testament talked about "the hare that cheweth the cud." And, if
any reader should fail to see the application of these instances to
modern fiction, I can only recommend him to read Vanity Fair and find
out how many children had the Rev. Bute Crawley, and what were their
names. No, the trouble with _Manalive_ is not in its casual,
happy-go-lucky construction. It is rather in a certain lack of ease, a
tendency to exaggerate effects, a continual stirring up of
inconsiderable points. But let us come to the story.

There is a boarding-house situated on one of the summits of the Northern
Heights. A great wind happens, and a large man, quite literally, blows
in. His name is Innocent Smith and he is naturally considered insane.
But he is really almost excessively sane. His presence makes life at the
house a sort of holiday for the inmates, male and female. Smith is about
to run for a special licence in order to marry one of the women in the
house, and the other boarders have just paired off when a telegram
posted by one of the ladies in a misapprehension brings two lunacy
experts around in a cab. Smith adds to the excitement of the moment by
putting a couple of bullets through a doctor's hat.

Now Smith is what somebody calls "an allegorical practical joker." But
Chesterton gives a better description of him than that.

          He's comic just because he's so startlingly
          commonplace. Don't you know what it is to be in
          all one family circle, with aunts and uncles, when
          a schoolboy comes home for the holidays? That bag
          there on the cab is only a schoolboy's hamper.
          This tree here in the garden is only the sort of
          tree that any schoolboy would have climbed. Yes,
          that's the sort of thing that has haunted us all
          about him, the thing we could never fit a word to.
          Whether he is my old schoolfellow or no, at least
          he is all my old schoolfellows. He is the endless
          bun-eating, ball-throwing animal that we have all
          been.

Innocent has an idea about every few minutes, but so far as the book is
concerned we need mention only one of them. That one is--local autonomy
for Beacon House. This may be recommended as a game to be played _en
famille_. Establish a High Court, call in a legal member, and get a
constitution. The rest will be very hilarious. The legal member of the
Beacon House _ménage_ is an Irish ex-barrister, one Michael Moon, who
plans as follows:

          The High Court of Beacon, he declared, was a
          splendid example of our free and sensible
          constitution. It had been founded by King John in
          defiance of Magna Carta, and now held absolute
          power over windmills, wine and spirit licences,
          ladies travelling in Turkey, revision of sentences
          for dog-stealing and parricide, as well as
          anything whatever that happened in the town of
          Market Bosworth. The whole hundred and nine
          seneschals of the High Court of Beacon met about
          once in every four centuries; but in the intervals
          (as Mr. Moon explained) the whole powers of the
          institution were vested in Mrs. Duke [the
          landlady]. Tossed about among the rest of the
          company, however, the High Court did not retain
          its historical and legal seriousness, but was used
          somewhat unscrupulously in a riot of domestic
          detail. If somebody spilt the Worcester Sauce on
          the tablecloth, he was quite sure it was a rite
          without which the sittings and findings of the
          Court would be invalid; and if somebody wanted a
          window to remain shut, he would suddenly remember
          that none but the third son of the lord of the
          manor of Penge had the right to open it. They even
          went the length of making arrests and conducting
          criminal inquiries.

Before this tribunal Innocent Smith is brought. One alienist is an
American, who is quite prepared to acknowledge its jurisdiction, being
by reason of his nationality not easily daunted by mere constitutional
queerness. The other doctor, being the prosecutor and a boarder, has no
choice in the matter. The doctors, it should be added, have brought with
them a mass of documentary evidence, incriminating Smith.

How the defence has time to collect this evidence is not explained, but
this is just one of the all-important details which do not matter in the
Chestertonian plane. Smith is tried for attempted murder. The
prosecution fails because the evidence shows Smith to be a first-class
shot, who has on occasion fired life into people by frightening them.
Then he is tried for burglary on the basis of a clergyman's letter from
which it is gathered that Smith tried one night to induce him and
another cleric to enter a house burglariously in the dark. This charge
breaks down because a letter is produced from the other clergyman who
did actually accompany Smith over housetops and down through
trap-doors--into his own house! Smith, it is explained, is in the habit
of keeping himself awake to the romance and wonder of everyday existence
by such courses. From the second letter, however, it appears that there
is a Mrs. Smith, so the next charge is one of desertion and attempted
bigamy. A series of documents is produced, from persons in France,
Russia, China, and California recounting conversations with Smith, a man
with a garden-rake, who left his house so that he might find it, and at
the end leapt over the hedge into the garden where Mrs. Smith was having
tea. In the words of the servant "he looked round at the garden and
said, very loud and strong: 'Oh, what a lovely place you've got,' just
as if he'd never seen it before." After which the court proceeds to try
Smith on a polygamy charge. Documentary evidence shows that Smith has
at one time or another married a Miss Green, a Miss Brown, a Miss Black,
just as he is now about to marry a Miss Gray, Moon points out that these
are all the same lady. Innocent Smith has merely broken the conventions,
he has religiously kept the commandments. He has burgled his own house,
and married his own wife. He has been perfectly innocent, and therefore
he has been perfectly merry. Innocent is acquitted, and the book ends.

In the course of _Manalive_, somebody says, "Going right round the world
is the shortest way to where you are already." These are the words of an
overworked epigrammatist, and upon them hangs the whole story. If
_Manalive_ is amusing, it is because Chesterton has a style which could
make even a debilitated paradox of great length seem amusing. The book
has a few gorgeous passages. Among the documents read at the trial of
Innocent Smith, for example, is a statement made by a Trans-Siberian
station-master, which is a perfectly exquisite burlesque at the expense
of the Russian _intelligenzia_. The whole series of documents, in fact,
are delightful bits of self-expression on the part of a very varied team
of selves. While Chesterton is able to turn out such things we must be
content to take the page, and not the story, as his unit of work.
_Manalive_, by the way, is the first of the author's stories in which
women are represented as talking to one another. Chesterton seems
extraordinarily shy with his feminine characters. He is a little afraid
of woman. "The average woman is a despot, the average man is a serf."[2]
Mrs. Innocent Smith's view of men is in keeping with this peculiar
notion. "At certain curious times they're just fit to take care of us,
and they're never fit to take care of themselves." Smith is the
Chestertonian Parsifal, just as Prince Muishkin is Dostoievsky's.

The transcendental type of detective, first sketched out in _The Club of
Queer Trades_, is developed more fully in the two Father Brown books. In
the little Roman priest who has such a wonderful instinct for placing
the diseased spots in people's souls, we have Chesterton's completest
and most human creation. Yet, with all their cleverness, and in spite of
the fact that from internal evidence it is almost blatantly obvious that
the author enjoyed writing these stories, they bear marks which put the
books on a lower plane than either _The Napoleon of Notting Hill_ or
_The Ball and the Cross_. In the latter book Chesterton spoke of "the
mere healthy and heathen horror of the unclean; the mere inhuman hatred
of the inhuman state of madness." His own critical work had been a long
protest against the introduction of artificial horrors, a plea for
sanity and the exercise of sanity. But in _The Innocence of Father
Brown_ these principles, almost the fundamental ones of literary
decency, were put on the shelf. Chesterton's criminals are lunatics,
perhaps it is his belief that crime and insanity are inseparable. But
even if this last supposition is correct, its approval would not
necessarily license the introduction of some of the characters. There is
Israel Gow, who suffers from a peculiar mania which drives him to
collect gold from places seemly and unseemly, even to the point of
digging up a corpse in order to extract the gold filling from its teeth.
There is the insane French Chief of Police, who commits a murder and
attempts to disguise the body, and the nature of the crime, by
substituting the head of a guillotined criminal for that of the victim.
In another story we have the picture of a cheerful teetotaller who
suffers from drink and suicidal mania. There is also a doctor who kills
a mad poet, and a mad priest who drops a hammer from the top of his
church-tower upon his brother. Another story is about the loathsome
treachery of an English general. It is, of course, difficult to write
about crime without touching on features which revolt the squeamish
reader, but it can be done, and it has been done, as in the Sherlock
Holmes stories. There are subjects about which one instinctively feels
it is not good to know too much. Sex, for example, is one of them.
Strindberg, Weininger, Maupassant, Jules de Goncourt, knew too much
about sex, and they all went mad, although it is usual to disguise the
fact in the less familiar terms of medical science. Madness itself is
another such subject. There are writers who dwell on madness because
they cannot help themselves--Strindberg, Edgar Allan Poe, Gogol, and
many others--but they scarcely produce the same nauseating sensation as
the sudden introduction of the note of insanity into a hitherto normal
setting. The harnessing of the horror into which the discovery of
insanity reacts is a favourite device of the feeble craftsman, but it is
illegitimate. It is absolutely opposed to those elementary canons of
good taste which decree that we may not jest at the expense of certain
things, either because they are too sacred or not sacred enough. The
opposite of a decadent author is not necessarily a writer who attacks
decadents. Many decadents have attacked themselves, by committing
suicide, for example. The opposite of a decadent author is one to whom
decadent ideas and imagery are alien, which is a very different thing.
For example, the whole story _The Wrong Shape_ is filled with decadent
ideas; one is sure that Baudelaire would have entirely approved of it.
It includes a decadent poet, living in wildly Oriental surroundings,
attended by a Hindoo servant. Even the air of the place is decadent;
Father Brown on entering the house learns instinctively from it that a
crime is to be committed.

Considered purely as detective stories, these cannot be granted a very
good mark. There is scarcely a story that has not a serious flaw in it.
A man--Flambeau, of whom more later--gains admittance to a small and
select dinner party and almost succeeds in stealing the silver, by the
device of turning up and pretending to be a guest when among the
waiters, and a waiter when among the guests. But it is not explained
what he did during the first two courses of that dinner, when he
obviously had to be either a waiter or a guest, and could not keep up
both parts, as when the guests were arriving. Another man, a "Priest of
Apollo," is worshipping the sun on the top of a "sky-scraping" block of
offices in Westminster, while a woman falls down a lift-shaft and is
killed. Father Brown immediately concludes that the priest is guilty of
the murder because, had he been unprepared, he would have started and
looked round at the scream and the crash of the victim falling. But a
man absorbed in prayer on, let us say, a tenth floor, is, in point of
fact, quite unlikely to hear a crash in the basement, or a scream even
nearer to him. But the most astonishing thing about _The Eye of Apollo_
is the staging. In order to provide the essentials, Mr. Chesterton has
to place "the heiress of a crest and half a county, as well as great
wealth," who is blind, in a typist's office! The collocation is somewhat
too singular. One might go right through the Father Brown stories in
this manner. But, if the reader wishes to draw the maximum of enjoyment
out of them, he will do nothing of the sort. He will believe, as
fervently as Alfred de Vigny, that L'Idée C'est Tout, and lay down all
petty regard for detail at the feet of Father Brown. This little Roman
cleric has listened to so many confessions (he calls himself "a man who
does next to nothing but hear men's real sins," but this seems to be
excessive, even for a Roman Catholic) that he is really well acquainted
with the human soul. He is also extremely observant. And his greatest
friend is Flambeau, whom he once brings to judgment, twice hinders in
crime, and thenceforward accompanies on detective expeditions.

_The Innocence of Father Brown_ had a _sequel_, _The Wisdom of Father
Brown_, distinctly less effective, as sequels always are, than the
predecessor. But the underlying ideas are the same. In the first place
there is a deep detestation of "Science" (whatever that is) and the
maintenance of the theory incarnate in Father Brown, that he who can
read the human soul knows all things. The detestation of science (of
which, one gathers, Chesterton knows nothing) is carried to the same
absurd length as in _The Ball and the Cross_. In the very first story,
Father Brown calls on a criminologist ostensibly in order to consult
him, actually in order to show the unfortunate man, who had retired from
business fourteen years ago, what an extraordinary fool he was.

The Father Brown of these stories--moon-faced little man--is a peculiar
creation. No other author would have taken the trouble to excogitate
him, and then treat him so badly. As a detective he never gets a fair
chance. He is always on the spot when a murder is due to be committed,
generally speaking he is there before time. When an absconding banker
commits suicide under peculiar circumstances in Italian mountains, when
a French publicist advertises himself by fighting duels with himself
(very nearly), when a murder is committed in the dressing-room corridor
of a theatre, when a miser and blackmailer kills himself, when a lunatic
admiral attempts murder and then commits suicide, when amid much
incoherence a Voodoo murder takes place, when somebody tries to kill a
colonel by playing on his superstitions (and by other methods), and when
a gentleman commits suicide from envy, Father Brown is always there. One
might almost interpret the Father Brown stories by suggesting that their
author had written them in order to illustrate the sudden impetus given
to murder and suicide by the appearance of a Roman priest.

Here we may suspend our reviews of Chestertonian romance. There remains
yet _The Flying Inn_, which shall be duly considered along with the
other débris of its author. In summing up, it may be said of Chesterton
that at his best he invented new possibilities of romance and a new and
hearty laugh. It may be said of the decadents of the eighteen nineties,
that if their motto wasn't "Let's all go bad," it should have been. So
one may say of Chesterton that if he has not selected "Let's all go mad"
as a text, he should have done. Madness, in the Chestertonian, whatever
it is in the pathological sense, is a defiance of convention, a
loosening of visible bonds in order to show the strength of the
invisible ones; perhaps, as savages are said to regard lunatics with
great respect, holding them to be nearer the Deity than most, so
Chesterton believes of his own madmen. Innocent Smith, of course, the
simple fool, the blithering idiot, is a truly wise man.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Chesterton jeers at this man's "Scottish" ancestry because his
surname was Gordon and he was obviously a Jew. The author is probably
unaware that there are large numbers of Jews bearing that name in
Russia. If he had made his Jew call himself Macpherson, the case would
have been different.

[2] _All Things Considered_, p. 106.



III

THE MAKER OF MAGIC


CHESTERTON'S only play, _Magic_, was written at the suggestion of Mr.
Kenelm Foss and produced by him in November, 1913, at the Little
Theatre, where it enjoyed a run of more than one hundred performances.
This charming thing does not make one wish that Chesterton was an
habitual playwright, for one feels that _Magic_ was a sort of tank into
which its author's dramatic talents had been draining for many
years--although, in actual fact, Chesterton allowed newspaper
interviewers to learn that the play had been written in a very short
space of time. His religious ideas were expressed in _Magic_ with great
neatness. Most perhaps of all his works this is a quotable production.

Patricia Carleon, a niece of the Duke, her guardian, is in the habit of
wandering about his grounds seeing fairies. On the night when her
brother Morris is expected to return from America she is having a
solitary moonlight stroll when she sees a Stranger, "a cloaked figure
with a pointed hood," which last almost covers his face. She naturally
asks him what he is doing there. He replies, mapping out the ground with
his staff:

          I have a hat, but not to wear;
          I have a sword, but not to slay;
          And ever in my bag I bear
          A pack of cards, but not to play.

This, he tells her, is the language of fairies. He tells her that
fairies are not small things, but quite the reverse. After a few
sentences have been spoken the prologue comes to an end, and the curtain
rises upon the scene of the play, the drawing-room of the Duke. Here is
seated the Rev. Cyril Smith, a young clergyman, "an honest man and not
an ass." To him enters the Duke's Secretary, to tell him the Duke is
engaged at the moment, but will be down shortly. He is followed by Dr.
Grimthorpe, an elderly agnostic, the red lamp of whose house can be seen
through the open French windows. Smith is erecting a model public-house
in the village, and has come to ask the Duke for a contribution towards
the cost. Grimthorpe is getting up a league for opposing the erection of
the new public-house, and has also come to the Duke for help. They
discover the nature of each other's errand. Smith's case is, "How can
the Church have a right to make men fast if she does not allow them to
feast?"; Grimthorpe's, that alcohol is not a food. The Duke's Secretary
enters and gives Smith a cheque for £50, then he gives the Doctor
another--also for £50. This is the first glimpse we have of the Duke's
eccentricity, an excessive impartiality based on the theory that
everybody "does a great deal of good in his own way," and on sheer
absence of mind--an absence which sometimes is absolutely literal. The
Doctor explains in confidence to the Clergyman that there is something
wrong about the family of Patricia and Morris, who are of Irish
origin. . . . "They saw fairies and things of that sort."

          SMITH. And I suppose, to the medical mind, seeing
          fairies means much the same as seeing snakes?

          DOCTOR. [_With a sour smile._] Well, they saw them
          in Ireland. I suppose it's quite correct to see
          fairies in Ireland. It's like gambling at Monte
          Carlo. It's quite respectable. But I do draw the
          line at their seeing fairies in England. I do
          object to their bringing their ghosts and goblins
          and witches into the poor Duke's own back garden
          and within a yard of my own red lamp. It shows a
          lack of tact.

Patricia, moreover, wanders about the park and the woods in the
evenings. "Damp evenings for choice. She calls it the Celtic twilight.
I've no use for the Celtic twilight myself. It has a tendency to get on
the chest." The Duke, annoyed by this love of fairies, has blundered, in
his usual way, on an absurd compromise between the real and the ideal. A
conjuror is to come that very night. When explanations have gone so far,
the Duke at last makes his entry. The stage directions tell us that "in
the present state of the peerage it is necessary to explain that the
Duke, though an ass, is a gentleman." His thoughts are the most casual
on earth. He is always being reminded of something or somebody which has
nothing to do with the case. As for instance, "I saw the place you're
putting up . . . Mr. Smith. Very good work. Very good work, indeed. Art
for the people, eh? I particularly liked that woodwork over the west
door--I'm glad to see you're using the new sort of graining . . . why,
it all reminds one of the French Revolution." After one or two
dissociations of this sort, the expected Morris Carleon enters through
the French window; he is rather young and excitable, and America has
overlaid the original Irishman. Morris immediately asks for Patricia and
is told that she is wandering in the garden. The Duke lets out that she
sees fairies; Morris raves a bit about his sister being allowed out
alone with anything in the nature of a man, when Patricia herself
enters. She is in a slightly exalted state; she has just seen her fairy,
him of the pointed hood. Morris, of course, is furious, not to say
suspicious.

          DOCTOR. [_Putting his hand on_ MORRIS'S
          _shoulder._] Come, you must allow a little more
          for poetry. We can't all feed on nothing but
          petrol.

          DUKE. Quite right, quite right. And being Irish,
          don't you know, Celtic, as old Buffle used to say,
          charming songs, you know, about the Irish girl who
          has a plaid shawl--and a Banshee. [_Sighs
          profoundly._] Poor old Gladstone! [_Silence._]

          SMITH. [_Speaking to_ DOCTOR.] I thought you
          yourself considered the family superstition bad
          for the health?

          DOCTOR. I consider a family superstition is better
          for the health than a family quarrel.

A figure is seen to stand in front of the red lamp, blotting it out for
a moment. Patricia calls to it, and the cloaked Stranger with the
pointed hood enters. Morris at once calls him a fraud.

          SMITH. [_Quickly._] Pardon me, I do not fancy that
          we know that. . . .

          MORRIS. I didn't know you parsons stuck up for any
          fables but your own.

          SMITH. I stick up for the thing every man has a
          right to. Perhaps the only thing every man has a
          right to.

          MORRIS. And what is that?

          SMITH. The benefit of the doubt.

Morris returns to the attack. The Stranger throws off his hood and
reveals himself to the Duke. He is the Conjuror, ready for the evening's
performance. All laugh at this _dénouement_, except Patricia, between
whom and the Conjuror this bit of dialogue ensues:

          STRANGER. [_Very sadly._] I am very sorry I am not
          a wizard.

          PATRICIA. I wish you were a thief instead.

          STRANGER. Have I committed a worse crime than
          thieving?

          PATRICIA. You have committed the cruellest crime,
          I think, that there is.

          STRANGER. And what is the cruellest crime?

          PATRICIA. Stealing a child's toy.

          STRANGER. And what have I stolen?

          PATRICIA. A fairy tale.

And the curtain falls upon the First Act.

An hour later the room is being prepared for the performance. The
Conjuror is setting out his tricks, and the Duke is entangling him and
the Secretary in his peculiar conversation. The following is
characteristic:

          THE SECRETARY.   . . . The only other thing at all
          urgent is the Militant Vegetarians.

          DUKE. Ah! The Militant Vegetarians! You've heard
          of them, I'm sure. Won't obey the law [_to the_
          CONJUROR] so long as the Government serves out
          meat.

          CONJUROR. Let them be comforted. There are a good
          many people who don't get much meat.

          DUKE. Well, well, I'm bound to say they're very
          enthusiastic. Advanced, too--oh, certainly
          advanced. Like Joan of Arc.

          [_Short silence, in which the_ CONJUROR _stares at
          him._]

          CONJUROR. _Was_ Joan of Arc a Vegetarian?

          DUKE. Oh, well, it's a very high ideal, after all.
          The Sacredness of Life, you know--the Sacredness
          of Life. [_Shakes his head._] But they carry it
          too far. They killed a policeman down in Kent.

This conversation goes on for some time, while nothing in particular
happens, except that the audience feels very happy. The Duke asks the
Conjuror several questions, receiving thoroughly Chestertonian answers.
["Are you interested in modern progress?" "Yes. We are interested in all
tricks done by illusion."] At last the Conjuror is left alone. Patricia
enters. He attempts to excuse himself for the theft of the fairy tale.
He has had a troublesome life, and has never enjoyed "a holiday in
Fairyland." So, when he, with his hood up, because of the slight rain,
was surprised by Patricia, as he was rehearsing his patter, and taken
for a fairy, he played up to her. Patricia is inclined to forgive him,
but the conversation is interrupted by the entrance of Morris, in a
mood to be offensive. He examines the apparatus, proclaims the way it is
worked, and after a while breaks out into a frenzy of free thought,
asking the universe in general and the Conjuror in particular for "that
old apparatus that turned rods into snakes." The Clergyman and the
Doctor enter, and the conversation turns on religion, and then goes back
to the tricks. Morris is still extremely quarrelsome, and for the second
time has to be quieted down. The Conjuror is dignified, but cutting. The
whole scene has been, so far, a discussion on Do Miracles Happen? Smith
makes out a case in the affirmative, arguing from the false to the true.
Suppose, as Morris claims, the "modern conjuring tricks are simply the
old miracles when they have once been found out. . . . When we speak of
things being sham, we generally mean that they are imitations of things
that are genuine." Morris gets more and more excited, and continues to
insult the Conjuror. At last he shouts . . . "You'll no more raise your
Saints and Prophets from the dead than you'll raise the Duke's
great-grandfather to dance on that wall." At which the Reynolds portrait
in question sways slightly from side to side. Morris turns furiously to
the Conjuror, accusing him of trickery. A chair falls over, for no
apparent cause, still further exciting the youth. At last he blurts out
a challenge. The Doctor's red lamp is the lamp of science. No power on
earth could change its colour. And the red light turns blue, for a
minute. Morris, absolutely puzzled, comes literally to his wits' end,
and rushes out, followed shortly afterwards by his sister and the
Doctor. The youth is put to bed, and left in the care of Patricia, while
the Doctor and the Clergyman return to their argument. Smith makes out a
strong case for belief, for simple faith, a case which sounds strangely,
coming from the lips of a clergyman of the Church of England.

          DOCTOR. Weren't there as many who believed
          passionately in Apollo?

          SMITH. And what harm came of believing in Apollo?
          And what a mass of harm may have come of not
          believing in Apollo? Does it never strike you that
          doubt can be a madness, as well be faith? That
          asking questions may be a disease, as well as
          proclaiming doctrines? You talk of religious
          mania! Is there no such thing as irreligious
          mania? Is there no such thing in the house at this
          moment?

          DOCTOR. Then you think no one should question at
          all?

          SMITH. [_With passion, pointing to the next
          room._] I think that is what comes of questioning!
          Why can't you leave the universe alone and let it
          mean what it likes? Why shouldn't the thunder be
          Jupiter? More men have made themselves silly by
          wondering what the devil it was if it wasn't
          Jupiter.

          DOCTOR. [_Looking at him._] Do you believe in your
          own religion?

          SMITH. [_Returning the look equally steadily._]
          Suppose I don't: I should still be a fool to
          question it. The child who doubts about Santa
          Claus has insomnia. The child who believes has a
          good night's rest.

          DOCTOR. You are a Pragmatist.

          SMITH. That is what the lawyers call vulgar abuse.
          But I do appeal to practice. Here is a family over
          which you tell me a mental calamity hovers. Here
          is the boy who questions everything and a girl who
          can believe anything. Upon whom has the curse
          fallen?

At this point the curtain was made to fall on the Second Act. The Third
and last Act takes place in the same room a few hours later. The
Conjuror has packed his bag, and is going. The Doctor has been sitting
up with the patient. Morris is in a more or less delirious state, and is
continually asking how the trick was done. The Doctor believes that the
explanation would satisfy the patient and would probably help him to
turn the corner. But the Conjuror will not provide an explanation. He
has many reasons, the most practical of which is that he would not be
believed. The Duke comes in and tries to make a business matter of the
secret, even to the extent of paying £2000 for it. Suddenly the Conjuror
changes his mind. He will tell them how the trick was done, it was all
very simple. "It is the simplest thing in the world. That is why you
will not laugh. . . . I did it by magic." The Doctor and the Duke are
dumbfounded. Smith intervenes; he cannot accept the explanation. The
Conjuror lets himself go, now he is voicing Chesterton's views. The
clergyman who merely believes in belief, as Smith does, will not do. He
must believe in a fact, which is far more difficult.

          CONJUROR. I say these things are supernatural. I
          say this is done by a spirit. The doctor does not
          believe me. He is an agnostic; and he knows
          everything. The Duke does not believe me; he
          cannot believe anything so plain as a miracle. But
          what the devil are you for, if you don't believe
          in a miracle? What does your coat mean if it
          doesn't mean that there is such a thing as the
          supernatural? What does your cursed collar mean if
          it doesn't mean that there is such a thing as a
          spirit? [_Exasperated._] Why the devil do you
          dress up like that if you don't believe in it?
          [_With violence._] Or perhaps you don't believe in
          devils?

          SMITH. I believe . . . [_After a pause._] I wish
          I could believe.

          CONJUROR. Yes. I wish I could disbelieve.

Here Patricia enters. She wants to speak to the Conjuror, with whom she
is left alone. A little love scene takes place: rather the result of two
slightly sentimental and rather tired persons of different sexes being
left alone than anything else. But they return to realities, with an
effort. Patricia, too, wants to know how the trick was done, in order to
tell her brother. He tells her, but she is of the world which cannot
believe in devils, even although it may manage to accept fairies as an
inevitable adjunct to landscape scenery by moonlight. In order to
convince her the Conjuror tells her how he fell, how after dabbling in
spiritualism he found he had lost control over himself. But he had
resisted the temptation to make the devils his servants, until the
impudence of Morris had made him lose his temper. Then he goes out into
the garden to see if he can find some explanation to give Morris. The
Duke, Smith, the Doctor, and the Secretary drift into the room, which is
now tenanted by something impalpable but horrible. The Conjuror returns
and clears the air with an exorcism. He has invented an explanation,
which he goes out to give to Morris. Patricia announces that her brother
immediately took a turn for the better. The Conjuror refuses to repeat
the explanation he gave Morris, because if he did, "Half an hour after
I have left this house you will all be saying how it was done." He turns
to go.

          PATRICIA. Our fairy tale has come to an end in the
          only way a fairy tale can come to an end. The only
          way a fairy tale can leave off being a fairy tale.

          CONJUROR. I don't understand you.

          PATRICIA. It has come true.

And the curtain falls for the last time.

No doubt _Magic_ owed a great deal of its success to the admirable
production of Mr. Kenelm Foss and the excellence of the cast. Miss Grace
Croft was surely the true Patricia. Of the Duke of Mr. Fred Lewis it is
difficult to speak in terms other than superlative. Those of my readers
who have suffered the misfortune of not having seen him, may gain some
idea of his execution of the part from the illustrations to Mr. Belloc's
novels. The Duke was an extraordinarily good likeness of the Duke of
Battersea, as portrayed by Chesterton, with rather more than a touch of
Mr. Asquith superadded. Mr. Fred Lewis, it may be stated, gagged freely,
introducing topical lines until the play became a revue in little--but
without injustice to the original. Several of those who saw _Magic_ came
for a third, a fourth, even a tenth time.

The Editor of The Dublin Review had the happy idea of asking Chesterton
to review _Magic_. The result is too long to quote in full, but it
makes two important points which may be extracted.

          I will glide mercifully over the more glaring
          errors, which the critics have overlooked--as that
          no Irishman could become so complete a cad merely
          by going to America--that no young lady would walk
          about in the rain so soon before it was necessary
          to dress for dinner--that no young man, however
          American, could run round a Duke's grounds in the
          time between one bad epigram and another--that
          Dukes never allow the middle classes to encroach
          on their gardens so as to permit a doctor's lamp
          to be seen there--that no sister, however
          eccentric, could conduct a slightly frivolous
          love-scene with a brother going mad in the next
          room--that the Secretary disappears half-way
          through the play without explaining himself; and
          the conjuror disappears at the end, with almost
          equal dignity. . . .

          By the exercise of that knowledge of all human
          hearts which descends on any man (however
          unworthy) the moment he is a dramatic critic, I
          perceive that the author of _Magic_ originally
          wrote it as a short story. It is a bad play,
          because it was a good short story. In a short
          story of mystery, as in a Sherlock Holmes story,
          the author and the hero (or villain) keep the
          reader out of the secret. . . . But the drama is
          built on that grander secrecy which was called the
          Greek irony. In the drama, the audience must know
          the truth when the actors do not know it. That is
          where the drama is truly democratic: not because
          the audience shouts, but because it knows--and is
          silent. Now I do quite seriously think it is a
          weakness in a play like _Magic_ that the audience
          is not in the central secret from the start. Mr.
          G. S. Street put the point with his usual unerring
          simplicity by saying that he could not help
          feeling disappointed with the Conjuror because he
          had hoped he would turn into the Devil.

A few additions may easily be made to the first batch of criticisms.
Patricia's welcome to her brother is not what a long-lost brother might
expect. There is really no satisfactory reason for the Doctor's
continued presence. Patricia and Morris can only be half Irish by blood,
unless it is possible to become Irish by residence. Why should the
Conjuror rehearse his patter out in the wet? Surely the Duke's house
would contain a spare room? Where did the Conjuror go, at the end of the
Third Act, in the small hours of the morning? And so on.

But these are little things that do not matter in an allegory. For in
_Magic_ "things are not what they seem." The Duke is a modern man. He is
also the world, the flesh, and the devil. He has no opinions, no
positive religion, no brain. He believes in his own tolerance, which is
merely his fatuousness. He follows the line of least resistance, and
makes a virtue of it. He sits on the fence, but he will never come off.
The Clergyman is the church of to-day, preaching the supernatural, but
unwilling to recognize its existence at close quarters. As somebody says
somewhere in _The Wisdom of Father Brown_, "If a miracle happened in
your office, you'd have to hush it up, now so many bishops are
atheists." The Doctor is a less typical figure. He is the
inconsistencies of science, kindly but with little joy of life, and
extremely Chestertonian, which is to say unscientific. Morris is the
younger generation, obsessed with business and getting on, and
intellectually incapable of facing a religious fact. Patricia is the
Chestertonian good woman, too essentially domestic to be ever
fundamentally disturbed. The Conjuror, if not the Devil, is at any rate
that inexplicable element in all life which most people do not see.

Nevertheless there is a flaw in _Magic_ which really is serious. If I
were to see, let us say, a sheet of newspaper flying down the road
against the wind, and a friend of mine, who happened to be a gifted
liar, told me that he was directing the paper by means of spirits, I
should still be justified in believing that another explanation could be
possible. I should say, "My dear friend, your explanation is romantic; I
believe in spirits but I do not believe in you. I prefer to think that
there is an air-current going the wrong way." That is the matter with
the Conjuror's explanation. Why should the Clergyman or the
Doctor--professional sceptics, both of them, which is to say seekers
after truth--take the word of a professional deceiver as necessarily
true?

There are two works which the critic of Chesterton must take into
special consideration. They are _Magic_ and _Orthodoxy_; and it may be
said that the former is a dramatized version of the latter. The two
together are a great work, striking at the very roots of disbelief. In a
sense Chesterton pays the atheist a very high compliment. He does what
the atheist is generally too lazy to do for himself; he takes his
substitute for religion and systematizes it into something like a
philosophy. Then he examines it as a whole. And he finds that atheism is
dogma in its extremist form, that it embodies a multitude of
superstitions, and that it is actually continually adding to their
number. Such are the reasons of the greatness of _Magic_. The play, one
feels, must remain unique, for the prolegomenon cannot be rewritten
while the philosophy is unchanged. And Chesterton has deliberately
chosen the word orthodox to apply to himself, and he has not limited its
meaning.



IV

THE CRITIC OF LARGE THINGS


THE heroes of Chesterton's romances have an adipose diathesis, as a
reviewer has been heard to remark. In plain English they tend towards
largeness. Flambeau, Sunday, and Innocent Smith are big men. Chesterton,
as we have seen, pays little attention to his women characters, but
whenever it comes to pass that he must introduce a heroine, he colours
her as emphatically as the nature of things will admit. Which is to say
that the Chestertonian heroine always has red hair.

These things are symptomatic of their author. He loves robustness. If he
cannot produce it, he can at any rate affect it, or attack its enemies.
This worship of the robust is the fundamental fact of all Chesterton's
work. For example, as a critic of letters he confines himself almost
exclusively to the big men. When Mr. Bernard Shaw a few years ago
committed what Chesterton imagined was an attack upon Shakespeare, he
almost instinctively rushed to the defence in the columns of The Daily
News. When Chesterton wrote a little book on _The Victorian Age in
Literature_ he showed no interest in the smaller people. The book, it
may be urged in his excuse, was a little one, but we feel that even if
it was not, Chesterton would have done much the same thing. Among the
writers he omitted to mention, even by name, are Sir Edwin Arnold,
Harrison Ainsworth, Walter Bagehot, R. Blackmore, A. H. Clough, E. A.
Freeman, S. R. Gardiner, George Gissing, J. R. Green, T. H. Green, Henry
Hallam, Jean Ingelow, Benjamin Jowett, W. E. H. Lecky, Thomas Love
Peacock, W. M. Praed, and Mrs. Humphry Ward. The criticism which feeds
upon research and comparison, which considers a new date or the
emendation of a mispunctuated line of verse, worthy of effort, knows not
Chesterton. He is the student of the big men. He has written books about
Dickens, Browning, and Shaw, of whom only one common quality can be
noted, which is that they are each the subjects of at least twenty other
books. To write about the things which have already yielded such a huge
crop of criticism savours at first of a lack of imagination. The truth
is quite otherwise. Anybody, so to speak, can produce a book about
Alexander Pope because the ore is at the disposal of every miner. But
that larger mine called Dickens has been diligently worked by two
generations of authors, and it would appear that a new one must either
plagiarize or labour extremely in order to come upon fresh seams. But
Chesterton's taste for bigness has come to his service in criticism. It
has given him a power of seeing the large, obvious things which the
critic of small things misses. He has the "thinking in millions" trick
of the statistician transposed to literary ends.

Or as a poet. The robustness is omnipresent, and takes several forms. A
grandiloquence that sways uneasily between rodomontade and mere
verbiage, a rotundity of diction, a choice of subjects which can only be
described as sanguinolent, the use of the bludgeon where others would
prefer a rapier.

Or as a simple user of words. Chesterton has a preference for the big
words: awful, enormous, tremendous, and so on. A word which occurs very
often indeed is mystic: it suggests that the noun it qualifies is laden
with undisclosable attributes, and that romance is hidden here.

Now all these things add up, as it were, to a tendency to say a thing as
emphatically as possible. Emphasis of statement from a humorist gifted
with the use of words results sometimes in epigram, sometimes in fun, in
all things except the dull things (except when the dullness is due to an
unhappy succession of scintillations which have misfired). For these
reasons Chesterton is regarded as entirely frivolous--by persons without
a sense of humour. He is, in point of fact, extremely serious, on those
frequent occasions when he is making out a case. As he himself points
out, to be serious is not the opposite of to be funny. The opposite of
to be funny is not to be funny. A man may be perfectly serious in a
funny way.

Now it has befallen Chesterton on more than one occasion to have to
cross swords with one of the few true atheists, Mr. Joseph MacCabe, the
author of a huge number of books, mostly attacking Christianity, and as
devoid of humour as an egg-shell is of hair. The differences and the
resemblances between Chesterton and Mr. MacCabe might well be the
occasion of a parable. Chesterton has written some of the liveliest
books about Christianity, Mr. MacCabe has written some of the dullest.
Chesterton has written the most amusing book about Mr. Bernard Shaw; Mr.
MacCabe has written the dullest. Chesterton and Mr. MacCabe have a habit
of sparring at one another, but up to the present I have not noticed
either make any palpable hits. It is all rather like the Party System,
as Mr. Hilaire Belloc depicts it. The two antagonists do not understand
each other in the least. But, to a certain degree, Mr. MacCabe's
confusion is the fault of Chesterton and not of his own lack of humour.
When Chesterton says, "I also mean every word I say," he is saying
something he does not mean. He is sometimes funny, but not serious, like
Mr. George Robey. He is sometimes irritating, but not serious, like a
circus clown. And he sometimes appears to be critical, but is not
serious, like the young lady from Walworth in front of a Bond Street
shop-window, regretting that she could not possibly buy the crockery and
glass displayed because the monogram isn't on right. Chesterton's
readers have perhaps spoiled him. He has pleaded, so to speak, for the
inalienable and mystic right of every man to be a blithering idiot in
all seriousness. So seriously, in fact, that when he exercised this
inalienable and mystic right, the only man not in the secret was G. K.
Chesterton.

There are few tasks so ungrateful as the criticism of a critic's
criticisms, unless it be the job of criticizing the criticisms of a
critic's critics. The first is part of the task of him who would write a
book in which all Chesterton's works are duly and fitly considered; and
the second will not be wholly escaped by him. Concerned as we are,
however, with the ideas of one who was far more interested in putting
the world to rights than with guiding men and women around literary
edifices, there is no need for us to give any very detailed study to
Chesterton's critical work. Bacon said "distilled books are like common
distilled waters, flashy things." A second distillation, perhaps even a
third, suggests a Euclidean flatness. The sheer management of a point of
view, however, is always instructive. We have seen an author use his
exceptional powers of criticism upon society in general, and ideas at
large. How is he able to deal with ideas and inventions stated in a more
definite and particular manner? The latter task is the more difficult of
the two. We all know perfectly well, to take an analogous illustration,
how to deal with the Prussian militarist class, the "Junker caste," and
so on. But we differ hopelessly on the treatment to be meted out to the
National Service League.

The outstanding feature of Chesterton's critical work is that it has no
outstanding features which differentiate it from his other writings. He
is always the journalist, writing for the day only. This leads him to
treat all his subjects with special reference to his own day.
Sometimes, as in the essay on Byron in _Twelve Types_, his own day is so
much under discussion that poor Byron is left out in the cold to warm
himself before a feebly flickering epigram. In writing of Dickens,
Chesterton says that he "can be criticized as a contemporary of Bernard
Shaw or Anatole France or C. F. G. Masterman . . . his name comes to the
tongue when we are talking of Christian Socialists or Mr. Roosevelt or
County Council Steamboats or Guilds of Play." And Chesterton does
criticize Dickens as the contemporary of all these phenomena. In point
of fact, to G.K.C. everybody is either a contemporary or a Victorian,
and "I also was born a Victorian." Little Dorrit sets him talking about
Gissing, Hard Times suggests Herbert Spencer, American Notes leads to
the mention of Maxim Gorky, and elsewhere Mr. George Moore and Mr.
William Le Queux are brought in. If Chesterton happened to be writing
about Dickens at a time when there was a certain amount of feeling about
on the subject of rich Jews on the Rand, then the rich Jews on the Rand
would appear in print forthwith, whether or not Dickens had ever
depicted a rich Jew or the Rand, or the two in conjunction. Chesterton's
first critical work of importance was _Robert Browning_ in the "English
Men of Letters Series." It might be imagined that the austere editorship
of Lord Morley might have a dejournalizing effect upon the style of the
author. Far otherwise. The t's are crossed and the i's are dotted, so to
speak, more carefully in _Robert Browning_ than in works less
fastidiously edited, but that is all. The book contains references to
Gladstone and Home Rule, Parnell, Pigott, and Rudyard Kipling, Cyrano de
Bergerac, W. E. Henley, and the Tivoli. But of Browning's literary
ancestors and predecessors there is little mention.

It is conventional to shed tears of ink over the journalistic touch, on
the ground that it must inevitably shorten the life of whatever book
bears its marks. If there is anything in this condemnation, then
Chesterton is doomed to forgetfulness, and his critical works will be
the first to slip into oblivion, such being the nature of critical works
in general. But if this condemnation holds true, it includes also
Macaulay, R. L. Stevenson, Matthew Arnold, and how many others! The
journalistic touch, when it is good, means the preservation of a work.
And Chesterton has that most essential part of a critic's mental
equipment--what we call in an inadequately descriptive manner, insight.
He was no mean critic, whatever the tricks he played, who could pen
these judgments:

          The dominant passion of the artistic Celt, such as
          Mr. W. B. Yeats or Sir Edward Burne-Jones, lies in
          the word "escape"; escape into a land where
          oranges grow on plum trees and men can sow what
          they like and reap what they enjoy. (_G. F.
          Watts._)


          The supreme and most practical value of poetry is
          this, that in poetry, as in music, a note is
          struck which expresses beyond the power of
          rational statement a condition of mind, and all
          actions arise from a condition of mind. (_Robert
          Browning._)


          This essential comedy of Johnson's character is
          one which has never, oddly enough, been put upon
          the stage. There was in his nature one of the
          unconscious and even agreeable contradictions
          loved by the true comedian. . . . I mean a strenuous
          and sincere belief in convention, combined with a
          huge natural inaptitude for observing it. (_Samuel
          Johnson_.)


          Rossetti could, for once in a way, write poetry
          about a real woman and call her "Jenny." One has a
          disturbed suspicion that Morris would have called
          her "Jehanne." (_The Victorian Age in
          Literature_.)

These are a few samples collected at random, but they alone are almost
sufficient to enthrone Chesterton among the critics. He has a wonderful
intuitive gift of feeling for the right metaphor, for the material
object that best symbolizes an impression. But one thing he lacks. Put
him among authors whose view of the universe is opposed to his own, and
Chesterton instantly adopts an insecticide attitude. The wit of Wilde
moves him not, but his morals stir him profoundly; Mr. Thomas Hardy is
"a sort of village atheist brooding and blaspheming over the village
idiot." Only occasionally has he a good word to say for the technique of
an author whose views he dislikes. His critical work very largely
consists of an attempt to describe his subjects' views of the universe,
and bring them into relation with his own. His two books on Charles
Dickens are little more than such an attempt. When, a few years ago, Mr.
Edwin Pugh, who had also been studying the "aspects" of Dickens, came to
the conclusion that the novelist was a Socialist, Chesterton waxed
exceeding wrath and gave the offending book a severe wigging in The
Daily News.

He loves a good fighter, however, and to such he is always just. There
are few philosophies so radically opposed to the whole spirit of
Chesterton's beliefs as that of John Stuart Mill. On religion, economic
doctrine, and woman suffrage, Mill held views that are offensive to
G.K.C. But Mill is nevertheless invariably treated by him with a respect
which approximates to reverence. The principal case in point, however,
is Mr. Bernard Shaw, who holds all Mill's beliefs, and waves them about
even more defiantly. G.K.C.'s admiration in this case led him to write a
whole book about G.B.S. in addition to innumerable articles and
references. The book has the following characteristic introduction:

          Most people either say that they agree with
          Bernard Shaw or that they do not understand him. I
          am the only person who understands him, and I do
          not agree with him.

Chesterton, of course, could not possibly agree with such an avowed and
utter Puritan as Mr. Shaw. The Puritan has to be a revolutionary, which
means a man who pushes forward the hand of the clock. Chesterton, as
near as may be, is a Catholic Tory, who is a man who pushes back the
hand of the clock. Superficially, the two make the clock show the same
hour, but actually, one puts it on to a.m., the other back to p.m.
Between the two is all the difference that is between darkness and day.

Chesterton's point of view is distinctly like Samuel Johnson's in more
respects than one. Both critics made great play with dogmatic assertions
based on the literature that was before their time, at the expense of
the literature that was to come after. In the book on Shaw, Chesterton
strikes a blow at all innovators, although he aims only at the obvious
failures.

          The truth is that all feeble spirits naturally
          live in the future, because it is featureless; it
          is a soft job; you can make it what you like. The
          next age is blank, and I can paint it freely with
          my favourite colour. It requires real courage to
          face the past, because the past is full of facts
          which cannot be got over; of men certainly wiser
          than we and of things done which we cannot do. I
          know I cannot write a poem as good as _Lycidas_.
          But it is always easy to say that the particular
          sort of poetry I can write will be the poetry of
          the future.

Sentiments such as these have made many young experimentalists feel that
Chesterton is a traitor to his youth and generation. Nobody will ever
have the detachment necessary to appreciate "futurist" poetry until it
is very much a thing of the past, because the near past is so much with
us, and it is part of us, which the future is not. But fidelity to the
good things of the past does not exonerate us from the task of looking
for the germs of the good things of the future. The young poet of to-day
sits at the feet of Sir Henry Newbolt, whose critical appreciation is
undaunted by mere dread of new things, while to the same youth and to
his friends it has simply never occurred, often enough, to think of
Chesterton as a critic. It cannot be too strongly urged that an undue
admiration of the distant past has sat like an incubus upon the chest of
European literature, and Shakespeare's greatness is not in spite of his
"small Latin and less Greek," which probably contributed to it
indirectly. Had Shakespeare been a classical scholar, he would almost
certainly have modelled his plays on Seneca or Aeschylus, and the
results would have been devastating. Addison's Cato, Johnson's Irene,
and the dramas of Racine and Corneille are among the abysmal dullnesses
mankind owes to its excessive estimation of the past. Men have always
been too ready to forget that we inherit our ancestors' bad points as
well as their good ones. Ancestor-worship has deprived the Chinese of
the capacity to create, it has seriously affected Chesterton's power to
criticize. Chesterton's own generation has seen both the victory and the
downfall of form in the novels of Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. H. G. Wells. It
has witnessed fascinating experiments in stagecraft, some of which have
assuredly succeeded. It has listened to new poets and wandered in
enchanted worlds where no Victorians trod. A critic in sympathy with
these efforts at reform would have written the last-quoted passage
something like this:

"The truth is that all feeble spirits naturally live in the past,
because it has no boundaries; it is a soft job; you can find in it what
you like. The past ages are rank, and I can daub myself freely with
whatever colours I extract. It requires no courage to face the past,
because the past is full of facts which neutralize one another; of men
certainly no wiser than we, and of things done which we could not want
to do. I know I cannot write a poem as good as Lycidas. But I also know
that Milton could not write a poem as good as The Hound of Heaven or
M'Andrew's Hymn. And it is always easy to say that the particular kind
of poetry I can write has been the poetry of some period of the past."

But Chesterton didn't; quite the reverse.

So that one comes to the sorrowful conclusion that Chesterton is at his
best, as a critic, when he is writing introductions, because then he has
to leave the past alone. When he is writing an introduction to one of
the works of a great Victorian (Dickens always excepted) he makes his
subject stand out like a solitary giant, not necessarily because he is
one, but on account of the largeness of the contours, the rough shaping,
and the deliberate contrasts. He has written prefaces without number,
and the British Museum has not a complete set of the books introduced
by him. The Fables of Æsop, the Book of Job, Matthew Arnold's Critical
Essays, a book of children's poems by Margaret Arndt, Boswell's Johnson,
a novel by Gorky, selections from Thackeray, a life of Mr. Will Crooks,
and an anthology by young poets are but a few of the books he has
explained.

The last thing to be said on Chesterton as a critic is by way of
illustration. For a series of books on artists, he wrote two, on William
Blake and G. F. Watts. The first is all about mysticism, and so is the
second. They are for the layman, not for the artist. They could be read
with interest and joy by the colourblind. And, incidentally, they are
extremely good criticism. Therein is the triumph of Chesterton. Give him
a subject which he can relate with his own view of the universe, and
space wherein to accomplish this feat, and he will succeed in presenting
his readers with a vividly outlined portrait, tinted, of course, with
his own personality, but indisputably true to life, and ornamented with
fascinating little gargoyles. But put him among the bourgeoisie of
literature and he will sulk like an angry child.



V

THE HUMORIST AND THE POET


THERE are innumerable books--or let us say twenty--on Mr. Bernard Shaw.
They deal with him as a sociologist, a dramatist, or what not, but never
as a humorist. There is a mass of books on Oscar Wilde, and they deal
with everything concerned with him, except his humour. The great
humorists--as such--go unsung to their graves. That is because there is
nothing so obvious as a joke, and nothing so difficult to explain. It
requires a psychologist, like William James, or a philosopher, like
Bergson, to explain what a joke is, and then most of us cannot
understand the explanation. A joke--especially another man's joke--is a
thing to be handled delicately and reverently, for once the bloom is
off, the joke mysteriously shrivels and vanishes. Translators are the
sworn enemies of jokes; the exigencies of their deplorable trade cause
them to maul the poor little things about while they are putting them
into new clothes, and the result is death, or at the least an appearance
of vacuous senescence. But jokes are only the crystallization of humour;
it exists also in less tangible forms, such as style and all that
collection of effects vaguely lumped together and called "atmosphere."
Chesterton's peculiar "atmosphere" rises like a sweet exhalation from
the very ink he sheds. And it is frankly indefinable, as all genuine
style is. The insincere stylists can be reduced to a formula, because
they work from a formula; Pater may be brought down to an arrangement of
adjectives and commas, Doctor Johnson to a succession of rhythms,
carefully pruned of excrescences, and so on, but the stylist who writes
as God made him defies such analysis. Meredith and Shaw and Chesterton
will remain mysteries even unto the latest research student of the
Universities of Jena and Chicago. Patient students (something of the
sort is already being done) will count up the number of nouns and verbs
and commas in _The Napoleon of Notting Hill_ and will express the result
in such a form as this--[A]

                        _ _
                       / / nouns³     _________   sin A
  Chesterton (G. K.) = | | ------ +  / ·2log bn - -----
                      _/_/ verbs²  \/ c     e       47



But they will fail to touch the essential Chesterton, because one of
the beauties of this form of analysis is that when the formula has been
obtained, nobody is any the wiser as to the manner of its use. We know
that James Smith is composed of beef and beer and bread, because all
evidence goes to show that these are the only things he ever absorbs,
but nobody has ever suggested that a synthesis of foodstuffs will ever
give us James Smith.

Now the difficulty of dealing with the humour of Chesterton is that, in
doing so, one is compelled to handle it, to its detriment. If in the
chapter on his Romances any reader thought he detected the voice and the
style of Chesterton, he is grievously mistaken. He only saw the
scaffolding, which bears the same relation to the finished product as
the skeleton bears to the human body.

Consider these things:

          If you throw one bomb you are only a murderer; but
          if you keep on persistently throwing bombs, you
          are in awful danger of at last becoming a prig.

          If we all floated in the air like bubbles, free to
          drift anywhere at any instant, the practical
          result would be that no one would have the courage
          to begin a conversation.

          If the public schools stuck up a notice it ought
          to be inscribed, "For the Fathers of Gentlemen
          only." In two generations they can do the trick.

Now these propositions are not merely snippets from a system of
philosophy, presented after the manner of the admirers of Schopenhauer
and Nietzsche. These are quotations which display a quite exceptional
power of surprising people. The anticlimaxes of the first two passages,
the bold dip into the future at the expense of the past in the third are
more than instances of mere verbal felicity. They indicate a writer
capable of the humour which feeds upon daily life, and is therefore
thoroughly democratic and healthy. For there are two sorts of humour;
that which feeds upon its possessor, Oscar Wilde is the supreme example
of this type of humorist, and that which draws its inspiration from its
surroundings, of which the great exemplar is Dickens, and Chesterton is
his follower. The first exhausts itself sooner or later, because it
feeds on its own blood, the second is inexhaustible. This theory may be
opposed on the ground that humour is both internal and external in its
origin. The supporters of this claim are invited to take a holiday in
bed, or elsewhere away from the madding crowd, and then see how humorous
they can be.

Humour has an unfortunate tendency to stale. The joke of yesteryear
already shows frays upon its sleeves. The wit of the early volumes of
Punch is in the last stages of decrepitude. Watch an actor struggling to
conceal from his audience the fact that he is repeating one of
Shakespeare's puns. We tolerate the humour of Congreve, not because it
is thoroughly amusing, but because it has survived better than most.
Humorous verse stands a slightly better chance of evoking smiles in its
old age. There is always its unalterable verbal neatness; tradition,
too, lingers more lovingly around fair shapes, and a poem is a better
instance of form than a paragraph. Mankind may grow blasé, if it will,
but as a poet of the comic, Chesterton will live long years. Take for
example that last and worst of his novels _The Flying Inn_. Into this he
has pitched with a fascinating recklessness a quantity of poems,
garnered from The New Witness and worthy of the immortality which is
granted the few really good comic poems. There is the poem of Noah, with
that stimulating line with which each stanza ends. The last one goes:

  But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod,
  Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
  And you can't get wine at a P.S.A., or Chapel, or Eisteddfod;
  For the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God.
  And water is on the Bishop's board, and the Higher Thinker's shrine,
  But I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.

There is a lunatic song against grocers, who are accused of
nonconformity, and an equally lunatic song in several instalments on
being a vegetarian:

            I am silent in the Club,
            I am silent in the pub,
          I am silent on a bally peak in Darien;
            For I stuff away for life
            Shoving peas in with a knife,
          Because I am at heart a vegetarian.

There is a joyous thing about a millionaire who lived the simple life,
and a new version of "St. George for Merry England." Tea, cocoa, and
soda-water are the subjects of another poem. The verses about Roundabout
are very happy:

          Some say that when Sir Lancelot
          Went forth to find the Grail,
          Grey Merlin wrinkled up the roads,
          For hope that he should fail;
          All roads led back to Lyonnesse
          And Camelot in the Vale,
          I cannot yield assent to this
          Extravagant hypothesis,
          The plain shrewd Briton will dismiss
          Such rumours (_Daily Mail_).
          But in the streets of Roundabout
          Are no such factions found,
          Or theories to expound about
          Or roll upon the ground about,
          In the happy town of Roundabout,
          That makes the world go round.

And there are lots more like this.

Then there are the _Ballades Urbane_ which appeared in the early volumes
of The Eye-Witness. They have refrains with the true human note. Such as
"But will you lend me two-and-six?"

          ENVOI
            Prince, I will not be knighted! No!
            Put up your sword and stow your tricks!
            Offering the Garter is no go--
            BUT WILL YOU LEND ME TWO-AND-SIX?

In prose Chesterton is seldom the mere jester; he will always have a
moral or two, at the very least, at his fingers' ends, or to be quite
exact, at the end of his article. He is never quite irresponsible. He
seldom laughs at a man who is not a reformer.

Or let us take another set of illustrations, this time in prose. (Once
more I protest that I shall not take the reader through all the works of
Chesterton.) I mean the articles "Our Note Book" which he contributed to
The Illustrated London News. They are of a familiar type; a series of
paragraphs on some topical subject, with little spaces between them in
order to encourage the weary reader. Chesterton wrote this class of
article supremely well. He would seize on something apparently trivial,
and exalt it into a symptom. When he had given the disease a name, he
went for the quack doctors who professed to remedy it. He goes to
Letchworth, in which abode of middle-class faddery he finds a teetotal
public-house, pretending to look like the real thing, and calling itself
"The Skittles Inn." He immediately raises the question, Can we
dissociate beer from skittles? Then he widens out his thesis.

          Our life to-day is marked by perpetual attempts to
          revive old-fashioned things while omitting the
          human soul in them that made them more than
          fashions.

And he concludes:

          I welcome a return to the rudeness of old times;
          when Luther attacked Henry VIII for being fat; and
          when Milton and his Dutch opponent devoted pages
          of their controversy to the discussion of which of
          them was the uglier. . . . The new controversialists
          . . . call a man a physical degenerate, instead of
          calling him an ugly fellow. They say that red hair
          is the mark of the Celtic stock, instead of
          calling him "Carrots."

Of this class of fun Chesterton is an easy master. It makes him a
fearsome controversialist on the platform or in his favourite lists, the
columns of a newspaper. But he uses his strength a little tyrannously.
He is an adept at begging the question. The lost art called ignoratio
elenchi has been privately rediscovered by him, to the surprise of many
excellent and honest debaters, who have never succeeded in scoring the
most obvious points in the face of Chesterton's power of emitting a
string of epigrams and pretending it is a chain of argument. The case,
in whatever form it is put, is always fresh and vigorous. Another
epigrammatist, Oscar Wilde, in comparison with him may be said to have
used the midnight oil so liberally in the preparation of his witticisms,
that one might almost detect the fishy odour. But as with his prose so
with his verses; Chesterton's productions are so fresh that they seem to
spring from his vitality rather than his intellect. They are generally a
trifle ragged and unpolished as if, like all their author's productions,
they were strangers to revision. And vitality demands boisterous
movement, more even than coherence. Sometimes the boisterousness is
apparently unsupported by the sense of the words.

   So you have gained the golden crowns and grasped the golden weather,
   The kingdoms and the hemispheres that all men buy and sell,
   But I will lash the leaping drum and swing the flaring feather,
   For the light of seven heavens that are lost to me like hell.

Here the stanza actually goes with such a swing that the reader will in
all probability not notice that the lines have no particular meaning.

On the other hand, Chesterton's poetry has exuberant moments of sheer
delight. In one of his essays he is lamenting the songlessness of modern
life and suggests one or two chanties. Here they are:

Chorus of Bank Clerks:

  Up, my lads, and lift the ledgers, sleep and ease are o'er.
  Hear the Stars of Morning shouting: "Two and Two are Four."
  Though the creeds and realms are reeling, though the sophists roar,
  Though we weep and pawn our watches, Two and Two are Four.

Chorus of Bank Clerks when there is a run on the bank:

  There's a run upon the Bank--
      Stand away!
  For the Manager's a crank and the Secretary drank, and the Upper
          Tooting Bank
      Turns to bay!

  Stand close: there is a run
      On the Bank.
  Of our ship, our royal one, let the ringing legend run, that she
          fired with every gun
      Ere she sank.

The Post Office Hymn would begin as follows:

          O'er London our letters are shaken like snow,
          Our wires o'er the world like the thunderbolts go.
          The news that may marry a maiden in Sark,
          Or kill an old lady in Finsbury Park.

Chorus (with a swing of joy and energy):

          Or kill an old lady in Finsbury Park.

The joke becomes simply immense when we picture the actual singing of
the songs.

But that is not the only class of humour of which Chesterton is capable.
He can cut as well as hack. It is to be doubted whether any politician
was ever addressed in lines more sarcastic than those of _Antichrist_,
an ode to Mr. F. E. Smith. This gentleman, speaking on the Welsh
Disestablishment Bill, remarked that it "has shocked the conscience of
every Christian community in Europe." It begins:

          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 Committee!"
          If the voice of Cecil falters,
              If McKenna's point has pith,
          Do they tremble for their altars?
              Do they, Smith?

Then in Russia, among the peasants,

          Where Establishment means nothing
            And they never heard of Wales,
          Do they read it all in Hansard
            With a crib to read it with--
          "Welsh Tithes: Dr. Clifford answered."
            Really, Smith?

The final verse is:

          It would greatly, I must own,
              Soothe me, Smith,
          If you left this theme alone,
              Holy Smith!
          For your legal cause or civil
            You fight well and get your fee;
          For your God or dream or devil
            You will answer, not to me.
          Talk about the pews and steeples
            And the Cash that goes therewith!
          But the souls of Christian peoples . . .
              --Chuck it, Smith!

The wilting sarcasm of this poem is a feature which puts it with a few
others apart from the bulk of Chesterton's poems. Even as bellicosity
and orthodoxy are two of the brightest threads which run through the
whole texture of his work, so Poems of Pugnacity (as Ella Wheeler Wilcox
would say) and religious verses constitute the largest part of the
poetic works of G.K.C. His first book of verses--after _Greybeards at
Play_--_The Wild Knight_ contained a bloodthirsty poem about the Battle
of Gibeon, written with strict adhesion to the spirit of the Old
Testament. It might have been penned by a survivor, glutted with blood
and duly grateful to the God of his race for the solar and lunar
eccentricities which made possible the extermination of the five kings
of the Amorites. In 1911 came _The Ballad of the White Horse_, which is
all about Alfred, according to the popular traditions embodied in the
elementary history books, and, in particular, the Battle of Ethandune.
How Chesterton revels in that Homeric slaughter! The words blood and
bloody punctuate the largest poem of G.K.C. to the virtual obliteration
in our memory of the fine imagery, the occasional tendernesses, and the
blustering aggressiveness of some of the metaphors and similes. Not many
men would have the nerve, let alone the skill, to write:

          And in the last eclipse the sea
            Shall stand up like a tower,
          Above all moons made dark and riven,
          Hold up its foaming head in heaven,
            And laugh, knowing its hour.

But, at the same time, this poem contains very touching and beautiful
lines. _The Ballad of the White Horse_ is an epic of the struggle
between Christian and Pagan. One of the essentials of an epic is that
its men should be decent men, if they cannot be heroes. The Iliad would
have been impossible if it had occurred to Homer to introduce the
Government contractors to the belligerent powers. All the point would
have gone out of Orlando Furioso if it had been the case that the
madness of Orlando was the delirium tremens of an habitual drunkard.
Chesterton recognizing this truth makes the pagans of the _White Horse_
behave like gentlemen. There is a beautiful little song put into the
mouth of one of them, which is in its way a perfect expression of the
inadequacy of false gods.

          There is always a thing forgotten
            When all the world goes well;
          A thing forgotten, as long ago
          When the gods forgot the mistletoe,
          And soundless as an arrow of snow
            The arrow of anguish fell.

          The thing on the blind side of the heart,
            On the wrong side of the door,
          The green plant groweth, menacing
          Almighty lovers in the spring;
          There is always a forgotten thing,
            And love is not secure.

The sorrow behind these lines is more moving, because more sincere,
than the lines of that over-quoted verse of Swinburne's:

          From too much love of living,
          From hope and fear set free,
          We thank with brief thanksgiving
          Whatever gods there be--
          That no life lives for ever,
          That dead men rise up never,
          That even the weariest river
          Winds somewhere safe to sea.

This is insincere, because a pagan (as Swinburne was) could have
committed suicide had he really felt these things. Swinburne, like most
modern pagans, really hated priestcraft when he thought he was hating
God. Chesterton's note is truer. He knows that the pagan has all the
good things of life but one, and that only an exceptionally nice pagan
knows he lacks that much.

And so one might go on mining the _White Horse_, for it contains most
things, as a good epic should. Two short stanzas, however, should be
quoted, whatever else is omitted, for the sake of their essential
Christianity, their claim that a man may make a fool of himself for
Christ's sake, whatever the bishops have to say about it.

          The men of the East may spell the stars,
            And times and triumphs mark,
          But the men signed of the Cross of Christ
            Go gaily in the dark.
          The men of the East may search the scrolls
            For sure fates and fame,
          But the men that drink the blood of God
            Go singing to their shame.

In his last volume of _Poems_ (1915) Chesterton presents us with a
varied collection of works, written at any time during the last twelve
or so years. The pugnacious element is present in _Lepanto_, through the
staccato syllables of which we hear drum-taps and men cheering. There is
a temptation to treat _Lepanto_, and indeed most of Chesterton's poems,
with special reference to their technique, but we must resist this
temptation, with tears if need be, and with prayer, for to give way to
it would be to commit a form of vivisection. G.K.C. is not a text,
praise be, and whether he lives or dies, long may he be spared the hands
of an editor or interpreter who is also an irrepressible authority on
anapaests and suchlike things. He is a poet, and a considerable poet,
not because of his strict attention to the rules of prosody, but because
he cannot help himself, and the rules in question are for the persons
who can, the poets by deliberate intention, the writers who polish
unceasingly. Chesterton has more impulse than finish, but he has natural
gifts of rhythm and the effective use of words which more or less
(according to the reader's taste) compensate for his refusal or his
incapacity to take pains.

Finally there are the religious poems. From these we can best judge the
reality of Chesterton's poetic impulse, for here, knowing that
affectation would be almost indecent, he has expressed what he had to
express with a care denied to most of his other works. In one of his
essays, G.K.C. exults in that matchless phrase of Vaughan, "high
humility." He has both adopted and adapted this quality, and the results
are wonderful. In _The Wise Men_ occurs this stanza:

          The Child that was ere worlds begun
            (. . . We need but walk a little way,
          We need but see a latch undone . . .)
          The Child that played with moon and sun
            Is playing with a little hay.

The superb antithesis leaves one struggling against that involuntary
little gasp which is a reader's first tribute to a fine thought. He
could be a great hymn writer, if he would. One of his poems, in fact,
has found its way into The English Hymnal, where it competes (if one may
use the word of a sacred song) with Recessional for the favour of
congregations. If we take a glance at a few of the finest hymns, we
shall find that they share certain obvious qualities: bold imagery, the
vocabulary of conflict, an attitude of humility that is very nearly also
one of great pride, and certain tricks of style. And when we look
through Chesterton's poems generally, we shall find that these are
exactly the qualities they possess.

FOOTNOTE:

[A] Transcriber's Note: The original equation was represented as clearly
as possible. An image of the original equation can be found in the html
version of this text.



VI

THE RELIGION OF A DEBATER


IN his book on William Blake, Chesterton says that he is "personally
quite convinced that if every human being lived a thousand years, every
human being would end up either in utter pessimistic scepticism or in
the Catholic creed." In course of time, in fact, everybody would have to
decide whether they preferred to be an intellectualist or a mystic. A
debauch of intellectualism, lasting perhaps nine hundred and fifty
years, is a truly terrible thing to contemplate. Perhaps it is safest to
assert that if our lives were considerably lengthened, there would be
more mystics and more madmen.

To Chesterton modern thought is merely the polite description of a noisy
crowd of persons proclaiming that something or other is wrong. Mr.
Bernard Shaw denounces meat and has been understood to denounce
marriage. Ibsen is said to have anathematized almost everything (by
those who have not read his works). Mr. MacCabe and Mr. Blatchford think
that, on the whole, there is no God, and Tolstoy told us that nearly
everything we did, and quite all we wanted to do, was opposed to the
spirit of Christ's teaching. Auberon Herbert disapproved of law, and
John Davidson disapproved of life. Herbert Spencer objected to
government, Passive Resisters to State education, and various
educational reformers to education of any description. There are people
who would abolish our spelling, our clothing, our food and, most
emphatically, our drink. Mr. H. G. Wells adds the finishing touch to
this volume of denials, by blandly suggesting in an appendix to his
Modern Utopia, headed "Scepticism of the Instrument," that our senses
are so liable to err, that we can never be really sure of anything at
all. This spirit of denial is extraordinarily infectious. A man begins
to suspect what he calls the "supernatural." He joins an ethical
society, and before he knows where he is, he is a vegetarian. The
rebellious moderns have a curious tendency to flock together in
self-defence, even when they have nothing in common. The mere
aggregation of denials rather attracts the slovenly and the unattached.
The lack of positive dogma expressed by such a coalition encourages the
sceptic and the uneducated, who do not realize that the deliberate
suppression of dogma is itself a dogma of extreme arrogance. We trust
too much to the label, nowadays, and the brief descriptions we attach to
ourselves have a gradually increasing connotation. In politics for
example, the conservative creed, which originally contained the single
article that aristocracy, wealth and government should be in the same
few hands, now also implies adhesion to the economic doctrine of
protection, and the political doctrine that unitary government is
preferable to federal. The liberal creed, based principally upon
opposition to the conservative, and to a lesser degree upon disrespect
for the Established Church, has been enlarged concurrently with the
latter. The average liberal or conservative now feels himself in honour
bound to assert or to deny political dogmas out of sheer loyalty to his
party. This does not make for sanity. The only political creed in which
a man may reasonably expect to remain sane is Socialism, which is
catholic and not the least dependent upon other beliefs. Apart from the
inconsiderable number of Socialists, the average politician follows in
the footsteps of those gentlemen already mentioned. He is not allowed to
believe, so he contents himself with a denial of the other side's
promises. Assertion is infinitely more brain-wearing than denial.

Side by side with the increase in those who deny is a growth in the
numbers of those who come to regard apathy, suspended judgment, or a
lack of interest in a religious matter as a state of positive belief.
There are agnostics quite literally all over the place. Belief peters
down into acceptance, acceptance becomes a probability, a probability
declines into a reasonable doubt, and a reasonable doubt drifts into "it
is highly conjectural and indeed extremely unlikely," or something of
that sort. Tolerance was once an instrument for ensuring that truth
should not be suppressed; it is now an excuse for refusing to bother.
There is, in fact, a growing disrespect for truth. A great many men went
to the stake years ago rather than admit the possibility that they were
wrong; they protested, so far as human endurance allowed them to
protest, that they were orthodox and that their persecutors, and not
they, were the heretics. To-day a bunch of Cambridge men calls itself
"The Heretics" and imagines it has found a clever title. At the same
time there is an apparent decline in the power to believe. The average
politician (the principal type of twentieth-century propagandist)
hardly ever makes a speech which does not contain one at least of the
following phrases:

          "I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that . . ."

          "We are all subject to correction, but as far as
          we know . . ."

          "In this necessarily imperfect world . . ."

          "So far as one is able to judge . . ."

          "Appearances are notoriously deceptive, but . . ."

          "Human experience is necessarily limited to . . ."

          "We can never be really sure . . ."

          "Pilate asked, 'What is truth?' Ah, my brethren,
          what indeed?"

          "The best minds of the country have failed to come
          to an agreement on this question; one can only
          surmise . . ."

          "Art is long and life is short. Art to-day is even
          longer than it used to be."

Now the politician, to do him justice, has retained the courage of his
convictions to a greater extent than the orthodox believer in God. Men
are still prepared to make Home Rule the occasion of bloodshed, or to
spend the midnight hours denouncing apparent political heresies. But
whereas the politician, like the orthodox believer once pronounced
apologetics, they now merely utter apologies. To-day, equipped as never
before with the heavy artillery of argument in the shape of Higher
Criticism, research, blue-books, statistics, cheap publications, free
libraries, accessible information, public lectures, and goodness only
knows what else, the fighting forces of the spiritual and temporal
decencies lie drowsing as in a club-room, placarded "Religion and
politics must not be discussed here."

All this, with the exception of the political references, is a summary
of Chesterton's claim that a return to orthodoxy is desirable and
necessary. It will be found at length in _Heretics_ and in the first
chapters of _Orthodoxy_, and sprinkled throughout all his writings of a
later date than 1906 or so. He protests on more than one occasion
against Mr. Shaw's epigram, which seems to him to contain the essence of
all that is wrong to-day, "The golden rule is that there is no golden
rule." Chesterton insists that there is a golden rule, that it is a very
old one, and that it is known to a great many people, most of whom
belong to the working classes.

In his argument that, on the whole, the masses are (or were) right about
religion, and that the intellectuals are wrong, Chesterton is
undoubtedly at his most bellicose and his sincerest. His is the
pugnacity that prefers to pull down another's banner rather than to
raise his own. His "defences" in _The Defendant_, and the six hundred
odd cases made out by him in the columns of The Daily News are largely
and obviously inspired by the wish, metaphorically speaking, to punch
somebody's head. The fact that he is not a mere bully appears in the
appeal to common decency which Chesterton would be incapable of omitting
from an article. Nevertheless he prefers attack to defence. In war, the
offensive is infinitely more costly than the defensive. But in
controversy this is reversed. The opener of a debate is in a much more
difficult position than his opponent. The latter need only criticize the
former's case; he is not compelled to disclose his own defences.
Chesterton used to have a grand time hoisting people on their own
petards, and letting forth strings of epigrams at the expense of those
from whom he differed, and only incidentally revealing his own position.
Then, as he tells us in the preface to _Orthodoxy_, when he had
published the saltatory series of indictments entitled _Heretics_, a
number of his critics said, in effect, "Please, Mr. Chesterton, what
are we to believe?" Mr. G. S. Street, in particular, begged for
enlightenment. G.K.C. joyously accepted the invitation, and wrote
_Orthodoxy_, his most brilliant book.

There are few works in the English language the brilliancy of which is
so sustained. _Orthodoxy_ is a rapid torrent of epigrammatically
expressed arguments. Chesterton's method in writing it is that of the
digger wasp. This intelligent creature carries on the survival of the
fittest controversy by paralyzing its opponent first, and then
proceeding to lay the eggs from which future fitness will proceed in the
unresisting but still living body. Chesterton begins by paralyzing his
reader, by savagely attacking all the beliefs which the latter, if he be
a modern and a sceptic, probably regards as first principles. Tolerance
is dismissed, as we have just seen, as a mere excuse for not caring.
Reason, that awful French goddess, is shown to be another apology.
Nietzsche and various other authors to whom some of us have bent the
knee are slaughtered without misery. Then Chesterton proceeds to the
argument, the reader being by this time receptive enough to swallow a
camel, on the sole condition that G.K.C. has previously slightly
treacled the animal.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to assert that at this point
Chesterton pretends to begin his argument. As a matter of strict fact he
only describes his adventures in Fairyland, which is all the earth. He
tells us of his profound astonishment at the consistent recurrence of
apples on apple trees, and at the general jolliness of the earth. He
describes, very beautifully, some of the sensations of childhood making
the all-embracing discovery that things are what they seem, and the even
more joyful feeling of pretending that they are not, or that they will
cease to be at any moment. A young kitten will watch a large cushion,
which to it is a very considerable portion of the universe, flying at it
without indicating any very appreciable surprise. A child, in the same
way, would not be surprised if his house suddenly developed wings and
flew away. Chesterton cultivated this attitude of always expecting to be
surprised by the most natural things in the world, until it became an
obsession, and a part of his journalistic equipment. In a sense
Chesterton is the everlasting boy, the Undergraduate Who Would Not Grow
Up. There must be few normally imaginative town-bred children to whom
the pointed upright area-railings do not appear an unsearchable armoury
of spears or as walls of protective flames, temporarily frozen black so
that people should be able to enter and leave their house. Every child
knows that the old Norse story of a sleeping Brunnhilde encircled by
flames is true; to him or her, there is a Brunnhilde in every street,
and the child knows that there it always has a chance of being the
chosen Siegfried. But because this view of life is so much cosier than
that of the grown-ups, Chesterton clings to his childhood's neat little
universe and weeps pathetically when anybody mentions Herbert Spencer,
and makes faces when he hears the word Newton. He insists on a fair dole
of surprises. "Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their
stockings gifts of toys and sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa
Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?"

Now this fairyland business is frankly overdone. Chesterton conceives of
God, having carried the Creation as far as this world, sitting down to
look at the new universe in a sort of ecstasy. "And God saw every thing
that he had made, and, behold it was very good." He enjoyed His new toy
immensely, and as He sent the earth spinning round the sun, His pleasure
increased. So He said "Do it again" every time the sun had completed its
course, and laughed prodigiously, and behaved like a happy child. And
so He has gone on to this day saying "Do it again" to the sun and the
moon and the stars, to the animal creation, and the trees, and every
living thing. So Chesterton pictures God, giving His name to what
others, including Christians, call natural law, or the laws of God, or
the laws of gravitation, conservation of energy, and so on, but always
laws. For which reason, one is compelled to assume that in his opinion
God is now [1915] saying to Himself, "There's another bloody war, do it
again, sun," and gurgling with delight. It is dangerous to wander in
fairyland, as Chesterton has himself demonstrated, "one might meet a
fairy." It is not safe to try to look God in the face. A prophet in
Israel saw the glory of Jehovah, and though He was but the God of a
small nation, the prophet's face shone, and, so great was the vitality
he absorbed from the great Source that he "was an hundred and twenty
years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force
abated." That is the reverent Hebrew manner of conveying the glory of
God. But Chesterton, cheerfully playing toss halfpenny among the
fairies, sees an idiot child, and calls it God.

Fortunately for the argument, Chesterton has no more to say about his
excursion in Fairyland after his return. He goes on to talk about the
substitutes which people have invented for Christianity. The Inner Light
theory has vitriol sprayed upon it. Marcus Aurelius, it is explained,
acted according to the Inner Light. "He gets up early in the morning,
just as our own aristocrats leading the Simple Life get up early in the
morning; because such altruism is much easier than stopping the games in
the amphitheatre or giving the English people back their land." The
present writer does not profess any ability to handle philosophic
problems philosophically; it seems to him, however, that if Chesterton
had been writing a few years later, he would have attempted to
extinguish the latest form of the Inner Light, that "intuition" which
has been so much associated with M. Bergson's teachings.

The Inner Light is finally polished off as follows:

          Of all conceivable forms of enlightenment the
          worst is what these people call the Inner Light.
          Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the
          worship of the god within. Any one who knows
          anybody knows how it would work; anybody who knows
          any one from the Higher Thought Centre knows how
          it does work. That Jones should worship the god
          within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones
          shall worship Jones. . . . Christianity came into
          the world firstly in order to assert with
          violence that a man has not only to look inwards,
          but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment
          and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine
          captain.

Continuing his spiritual autobiography, Chesterton describes his gradual
emergence from the wonted agnosticism of sixteen through the mediumship
of agnostic literature. Once again that remark of Bacon's showed itself
to be true, "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but
depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." A man may
read Huxley and Bradlaugh, who knew their minds, and call himself an
agnostic. But when it comes to reading their followers, there's another
story to tell. What especially struck Chesterton was the wholesale
self-contradictoriness of the literature of agnosticism. One man would
say that Christianity was so harmful that extermination was the least
that could be desired for it, and another would insist that it had
reached a harmless and doddering old age. A writer would assert that
Christianity was a religion of wrath and blood, and would point to the
Inquisition, and to the religious wars which have at one time or another
swept over the civilized world. But by the time the reader's blood was
up, he would come across some virile atheist's proclamation of the
feeble, mattoid character of the religion in question, as illustrated by
its quietist saints, the Quakers, the Tolstoyans, and non-resisters in
general. When he had cooled down, he would run into a denunciation of
the asceticism of Christianity, the monastic system, hair-shirts, and so
on. Then he would come across a sweeping condemnation of its sensual
luxuriousness, its bejewelled chalices, its pompous rituals, the
extravagance of its archbishops, and the like. Christianity "was abused
for being too plain and for being too coloured." And then the sudden
obvious truth burst upon Chesterton, What if Christianity was the happy
mean?

          Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is
          sane and all its critics that are mad--in various
          ways. I tested this idea by asking myself whether
          there was about any of the accusers anything
          morbid that might explain the accusation. I was
          startled to find that this key fitted a lock. For
          instance, it was certainly odd that the modern
          world charged Christianity at once with bodily
          austerity and with artistic pomp. But then it was
          also odd, very odd, that the modern world itself
          combined extreme bodily luxury with an extreme
          absence of artistic pomp. The modern man thought
          Becket's robes too rich and his meals too poor.
          But then the modern man was really exceptional in
          history. No man before ever ate such elaborate
          dinners in such ugly clothes. The modern man found
          the church too simple exactly where modern life
          is too complex; he found the church too gorgeous
          exactly where modern life is too dingy. The man
          who disliked the plain fasts and feasts was mad on
          _entrées_. The man who disliked vestments wore a
          pair of preposterous trousers. And surely if there
          was any insanity involved in the matter at all it
          was in the trousers, not in the simply falling
          robe. If there was any insanity at all, it was in
          the extravagant _entrées_, not in the bread and
          wine.

Nevertheless, Christianity was centrifugal rather than centripetal; it
was not a mere average, but a centre of gravity; not a compromise, but a
conflict. Christ was not half-God and half-man, like Hercules, but
"perfect God and perfect man." Man was not only the highest, but also
the lowest. "The Church was positive on both points. One can hardly
think too little of one's self. One can hardly think too much of one's
soul."

At this point agreement with Mr. Chesterton becomes difficult.
Christianity, he tells us, comes in with a flaming sword and performs
neat acts of bisection. It separates the sinner from the sin, and tells
us to love the former and hate the latter. He also tells us that no
pagan would have thought of this. Leaving aside the question whether or
not Plato was a Christian, it may be pointed out that whereas Chesterton
condemns Tolstoyanism whenever he recognizes it, he here proclaims
Tolstoy's doctrine. On the whole, however, the mild perverseness of the
chapter on _The Paradoxes of Christianity_ leaves its major implications
safe. It does not matter greatly whether we prefer to regard
Christianity as a centre of gravity, or a point of balance. We need only
pause to note Chesterton personifies this dualism. _The Napoleon of
Notting Hill_ is the arrangement of little bits of iron--the inhabitants
of London, in this case--around the two poles of a fantastic magnet, of
which one is Adam Wayne, the fanatic, and the other, Auberon Quin, the
humorist. In _The Ball and the Cross_ the diagram is repeated. James
Turnbull, the atheist, and Evan MacIan, the believer, are the two poles.
We speak in a loose sort of way of opposite poles when we wish to
express separation. But, in point of fact, they symbolize connection far
more exactly. They are absolutely interdependent. The whole essence of a
North and a South Pole is that we, knowing where one is, should be able
to say where the other is. Nobody has ever suggested a universe in which
the North Pole wandered about at large. This is the idea which
Chesterton seems to have captured and introduced into his definition of
Christianity.

Democracy, to Chesterton, is the theory that one man is as good as
another; Christianity, he finds, is the virtual sanctification by
supernatural authority of democracy. He points out the incompatibility
of political democracy, for example, with the determinism to which Mr.
Blatchford's logical atheism has brought him. If man is the creature of
his heredity and his environment, as Mr. Blatchford asserts, and if a
slum-bred heredity and a slum environment do not make for high
intelligence, then obviously it is against the best interests of the
State to allow the slum inhabitant to vote. On the other hand, it is
entirely to the best interests of the State to entrust its affairs to
the aristocracy, whose breeding and environment gives it an enormous
amount of intelligence. Christianity, by proclaiming that every man's
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, insists both upon the necessity of
abolishing the slums and of honouring the slum-dwellers as sharers with
the rest of humanity in a common sonship. This is the case for
Socialism, it may be pointed out parenthetically, and Chesterton has let
it slip past him. He insists that orthodoxy is the best conceivable
guardian of liberty, for the somewhat far-fetched reason that no
believer in miracles would have such "a deep and sincere faith in the
incurable routine of the cosmos" as to cling to the theory that men
should not have the liberty to work changes. If a man believed in the
freedom of God, in fact, he would have to believe in the freedom of man.
The obvious answer to which is that he generally doesn't. Christianity
made for eternal vigilance, Chesterton maintains, whereas Buddhism kept
its eye on the Inner Light--which means, in fact, kept it shut. In
proof, or at least in confirmation of this, he points to the statues of
Christian saints and of the Buddha. The former keep their eyes open
wide, the latter keep their eyes firmly closed. Vigilance, however, does
not always make for liberty--the vigilance of the Inquisition, for
example. Leaving out of account this and other monstrous exceptions, we
might say spiritual liberty, perhaps, but not political liberty, not, at
any rate, since the days of Macchiavelli, and the divorce of Church and
State.

          By insisting specially on the immanence of God we
          get introspection, self-isolation, quietism,
          social indifference--Tibet. By insisting specially
          on the transcendence of God we get wonder,
          curiosity, moral and political adventure,
          religious indignation--Christendom. Insisting that
          God is inside man, man is always inside himself.
          By insisting that God transcends man, man has
          transcended himself.

In concluding the book, Chesterton joyously refutes a few anti-Christian
arguments by means of his extraordinary knack of seeing the large and
obvious, and therefore generally overlooked things. He believes in
Christianity because he is a rationalist, and the evidence in its favour
has convinced him. The arguments with which he deals are these. That men
are much like beasts, and probably related to them. Answer: yes, but men
are also quite wonderfully unlike them in many important respects. That
primeval religion arose in ignorance and fear. Answer: we know nothing
about prehistoric man, because he was prehistoric, therefore we cannot
say where he got his religion from. But "the whole human race has a
tradition of the Fall." And so on: the argument that Christ was a poor
sheepish and ineffectual professor of a quiet life is answered by the
flaming energy of His earthly mission; the suggestion that Christianity
belongs to the Dark Ages is countered by the historical fact that it
"was the one path across the Dark Ages that was not dark." It was the
path that led from Roman to modern civilization, and we are here because
of it. And the book ends with a peroration that might be likened to a
torrent, were it not for the fact that torrents are generally narrow
and shallow. It is a most remarkable exhibition of energy, a case from
which flippancies and irrelevancies have been removed, and where the
central conviction advances irresistibly. Elsewhere in the book
Chesterton had been inconsequent, darting from point to point, lunging
at an opponent one moment, formulating a theory in the next, and
producing an effect which, if judged by sample, would be considered
bizarre and undirected. The book contains a few perversities, of course.
The author attempts to rebut the idea "that priests have blighted
societies with bitterness and gloom," by pointing out that in one or two
priest-ridden countries wine and song and dance abound. Yes, but if
people are jollier in France and Spain and Italy than in savage Africa,
it is due not to the priests so much as to the climate which makes wine
cheap and an open-air life possible. No amount of priests would be able
to set the inhabitants of the Belgian Congo dancing around a maypole
singing the while glad songs handed down by their fathers. No amount of
priests would be able to make the festive Eskimo bask in the sun and
sing in chorus when there wasn't any sun and it was altogether too cold
to open their mouths wide in the open air. In fact the priests are not
the cause of the blight where it exists, just as they are not the cause
of the jolliness, when there is any. But _Orthodoxy_ is Chesterton's
sincerest book. It is perhaps the only one of the whole lot in the
course of which he would not be justified in repeating a remark which
begins one of the _Tremendous Trifles_, "Every now and then I have
introduced into my essays an element of truth."

Twice upon a time there was a Samuel Butler who wrote exhilaratingly and
died and left the paradoxical contents of his notebooks to be published
by posterity. The first (i.e. of Hudibras, not of Erewhon) had many
lively things to say on the question of orthodoxy, being the forerunner
of G.K.C. And I am greatly tempted to treat Samuel Butler as an ancestor
to be described at length. Chesterton might well have said, "It is a
dangerous thing to be too inquisitive, and search too narrowly into a
true Religion, for 50,000 Bethshemites were destroyed only for looking
into the Ark of the Covenant, and ten times as many have been ruined for
looking too curiously into that Booke in which that Story is
recorded"--in fact in _Magic_ he very nearly did say the same thing. He
would have liked (as who would not?) to have been the author of the
saying that "Repentant Teares are the waters upon which the Spirit of
God moves," or that "There is no better Argument to prove that the
Scriptures were written by Divine Inspiration, than that excellent
saying of our Savior, If any man will go to Law with thee for thy cloke,
give him thy Coate also." He might well have written dozens of those
puns and aphorisms of Butler which an unkind fate has omitted from the
things we read, and even from the things we quote. But Butler provides
an answer to Chesterton, for he was an intelligent anticipator who
foresaw exactly what would happen when orthodoxy, which is to say the
injunction to shout with the larger crowd, should be proclaimed as the
easiest way out of religious difficulties. Before a reader has finally
made up his mind on _Orthodoxy_ (and it is highly desirable that he
should do so), let him consider two little texts:

          "They that profess Religion and believe it
          consists in frequenting of Sermons, do, as if they
          should say They have a great desire to serve God,
          but would faine be perswaded to it. Why should any
          man suppose that he pleases God by patiently
          hearing an Ignorant fellow render Religion
          ridiculous?"

          "He [a Catholic] prefers his Church merely for the
          Antiquity of it, and cares not how sound or
          rotten it be, so it be but old. He takes a liking
          to it as some do to old Cheese, only for the blue
          Rottenness of it. If he had lived in the primitive
          Times he had never been a _Christian_; for the
          Antiquity of the _Pagan_ and _Jewish_ Religion
          would have had the same Power over him against the
          _Christian_, as the old _Roman_ has against the
          modern Reformation."

Here we leave Samuel Butler. The majority stands the largest chance of
being right through the sheer operation of the law of averages. But
somehow one does not easily imagine a mob passing through the gate that
is narrow and the way that is narrow. One prefers to think of men going
up in ones and twos, perhaps even in loneliness, and rejoicing at the
strange miracle of judgment that all their friends should be assembled
at the journey's end.

But the final criticism of Chesterton's _Orthodoxy_ is that it is not
orthodox. He claims that he is "concerned only to discuss . . . the
central Christian theology (sufficiently summarized in the Apostles'
Creed)" and, "When the word 'orthodoxy' is used here it means the
Apostles' Creed, as understood by everybody calling himself Christian
until a very short time ago and the general historic conduct of those
who held such a creed." In other words he counts as orthodox Anglicans,
Roman Catholics, Orthodox Russians, Nonconformists, Lutherans,
Calvinists, and all manner of queer fish, possibly Joanna Southcott,
Mrs. Annie Besant, and Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy. He might even, by
stretching a point or two (which is surely permissible by the rules of
their game), rope in the New Theologians. Now this may be evidence of
extraordinary catholicity, but not of orthodoxy. Chesterton stands by
and applauds the Homoousians scalping the Homoiousians, but he is
apparently willing to leave the Anglican and the Roman Catholic on the
same plane of orthodoxy, which is absurd. We cannot all be right, even
the Duke in _Magic_ would not be mad enough to assert that. And the
average Christian would absolutely refuse his adherence to a statement
of orthodoxy that left the matter of supreme spiritual authority an open
question.

In the fifteenth century practically every Englishman would have
declared with some emphasis that it lay in the Pope of Rome. In the
twentieth century practically every Englishman would declare with equal
emphasis that it did not. This change of opinion was accompanied by
considerable ill-feeling on both sides, and was, as it were, illuminated
by burning martyrs. The men of both parties burned in both an active
and a passive sense. Those charming Tudor sisters, Bloody Mary (as the
Anglicans call her) and Bloody Bess (as the Roman Catholics
affectionately name her) left a large smudge upon accepted ideas of
orthodoxy; charred human flesh was a principal constituent of it. The
mark remains, the differences are far greater, but, to Chesterton, both
Anglican and Roman Catholic are "orthodox." Of such is the illimitable
orthodoxy of an ethical society, or of a body of Theosophists who
"recognize the essential unity of all creeds and religions"--the liars!
Chesterton tells us that Messrs. Shaw, Kipling, Wells, Ibsen and others
are heretics, because of their doctrines. But he gives us no idea
whether the Pope of Rome, who sells indulgences, is a heretic. And as
the Pope is likely to outlive Messrs. Shaw, etc., by perhaps a thousand
years, it is possible that Chesterton has been attacking the ephemeral
heresies, while leaving the major ones untouched. In effect, Chesterton
tells us no more than that we should shout with the largest crowd. But
the largest crowd prefers, just now, not to do anything so clamorous.

The most curious feature about the present position of Christianity is
the energy with which its opponents combine to keep it going. While Mr.
Robert Blatchford continues to argue that man's will is not free, and
Sir Oliver Lodge continues to maintain that it is, the Doctrine of the
Resurrection is safe; it is not even attacked. But the net result of all
those peculiar modern things called "movements" is a state of immobility
like a nicely balanced tug-of-war. Perhaps a Rugby scrum would make a
better comparison.

          The great and grave changes in our political
          civilization all belong to the early nineteenth
          century, not to the later. They belong to the
          black-and-white epoch, when men believed fixedly
          in Toryism, in Protestantism, in Calvinism, in
          Reform, and not infrequently in Revolution. And
          whatever each man believed in, he hammered at
          steadily, without scepticism: and there was a time
          when the Established Church might have fallen, and
          the House of Lords nearly fell. It was because
          Radicals were wise enough to be constant and
          consistent; it was because Radicals were wise
          enough to be conservative. . . . Let beliefs fade
          fast and frequently if you wish institutions to
          remain the same. The more the life of the mind is
          unhinged, the more the machinery of matter will be
          left to itself. The net result of all our
          political suggestions, Collectivism, Tolstoyanism,
          Neo-Feudalism, Communism, Anarchy, Scientific
          Bureaucracy--the plain fruit of them all is that
          Monarchy and the House of Lords will remain. The
          net result of all the new religions will be that
          the Church of England will not (for heaven knows
          how long) be disestablished. It was Karl Marx,
          Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Cunninghame Graham, Bernard
          Shaw, and Auberon Herbert, who between them, with
          bowed, gigantic backs, bore up the throne of the
          Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is on these grounds that we must believe that, even as the Church
survives, and prevails, in order to get a hearing when the atheist and
the New Theologian have finished shouting themselves hoarse at each
other, so must political creeds be in conformity with the doctrines of
the Church. Such is the foundation of democracy, according to
Chesterton. Will anybody revise his political views on this basis?
Probably not. Every Christian believes that his political opinions are
thoroughly Christian, and so entire is the disrepute into which atheism
has fallen as a philosophy of life, that a great many atheists likewise
protest the entire Christianity of their politics. We are all democrats
to-day, in one sense or another; each of us more loosely than his
neighbour. It is strange that by the criterion of almost every living
man who springs to the mind as a representative democrat, Chesterton is
the most undemocratic of us all. This, however, needs a separate chapter
of explanation.



VII

THE POLITICIAN WHO COULD NOT TELL THE TIME


SOMEWHERE at the back of all Chesterton's political and religious ideas
lies an ideal country, a Utopia which actually existed. Its name is the
Middle Ages. If some unemployed Higher Critic chose to undertake the
appalling task of reading steadily through all the works of G.K.C.,
copying out those passages in which there was any reference to the
Middle Ages, the result would be a description of a land flowing with
milk and honey. The inhabitants would be large, strong Christian men,
and red-haired, womanly women. Their children would be unschooled, save
by the Church. They would all live in houses of their own, on lands
belonging to them. Their faith would be one. They would speak Latin as a
sort of Esperanto, and drink enormous quantities of good beer. The
Church--but I have found the passage relating to the Church:

          Religion, the immortal maiden, has been a
          maid-of-all-work as well as a servant of mankind.
          She provided men at once with the theoretic laws
          of an unalterable cosmos; and also with the
          practical rules of the rapid and thrilling game of
          morality. She taught logic to the student and
          taught fairy tales to the children; it was her
          business to confront the nameless gods whose fear
          is on all flesh, and also to see that the streets
          were spotted with silver and scarlet, that there
          was a day for wearing ribbons or an hour for
          ringing bells.

The inhabitants of this happy realm would be instinctively democratic,
and no woman would demand a vote there. They would have that exalted
notion of patriotism that works outwards from the village pump to the
universe at large. They would understand all humanity because they
understood themselves. They would understand themselves because they
would have no newspapers to widen their interests and so make them
shallower.

In _Magic_, as we have seen, Chesterton's mouthpiece, the Conjuror, gave
us to understand that it was better to believe in Apollo than merely to
disbelieve in God. The Chestertonian Middle Ages are like Apollo; they
did not exist, but they make an admirable myth. For Chesterton, in
common with the rest of us, flourishes on myths like the green bay; we,
however, happen not to know, in most cases, when our myths have a
foundation. Mankind demands myths--and it has them. Some day a History
of the World's Myths will be compiled. It will show humanity climbing
perilous peaks in pursuit of somebody's misinterpretations of somebody
else's books, or fighting bloodily because somebody asserted or denied
that a nation was the chosen one, or invading new continents, physical
or metaphysical, because of legendary gold to be found therein, or in
fact committing all its follies under the inspiration of myths--as in
fact it has done. The Middle Ages are to Chesterton what King Alfred was
to the Chartists and early Radicals. They believed that in his days
England was actually governed on Chartist principles. So it happens that
two Radical papers of the early part of last century actually called
themselves The Alfred, and that Major Cartwright spent a considerable
amount of energy in inducing the Greeks to substitute pikes for bayonets
in their struggles against the Turks, on the grounds that the pike was
used in Alfred's England.

So there we have Chesterton believing devoutly that that servile state,
stricken with plague, and afflicted with death in all its forms, is the
dreamland of the saints. His political principles, roughly speaking, are
England was decent once--let us apply the same recipe to the England of
to-day. His suggestions, therefore, are rather negative than positive.
He would dam the flood of modern legislative tendencies because it is
taking England farther away from his Middle Ages. But he will not say
"do this" about anything, because in the Middle Ages they made few laws,
not having, in point of fact, the power to enforce those offences
against moral and economic law which then took the place of legislation.

It is impossible to say to what extent Chesterton has surrendered
himself to this myth; whether he has come to accept it because he liked
it, or in order to please his friend, Mr. Hilaire Belloc, from whom
G.K.C. never differs politically. Once they stood side by side and
debated against Mr. Shaw and Mr. Wells, arguing from Socialism to beer,
and thence to religion.

In January, 1908, Chesterton accepted the invitation of the Editor of
The New Age to explain why he did not call himself a Socialist, in spite
of his claim to possess "not only a faith in democracy, but a great
tenderness for revolution." The explanation is complicated, to say the
least. In the first place Chesterton does not want people to share, they
should give and take. In the second place, as a democrat (which nobody
else is) he has a vast respect (which nobody else has) for the working
classes. And

          one thing I should affirm as certain, the whole
          smell and sentiment and general ideal of Socialism
          they detest and disdain. No part of the community
          is so specially fixed in those forms and feelings
          which are opposite to the tone of most Socialists;
          the privacy of homes, the control of one's own
          children, the minding of one's own business. I
          look out of my back windows over the black stretch
          of Battersea, and I believe I could make up a sort
          of creed, a catalogue of maxims, which I am
          certain are believed, and believed strongly, by
          the overwhelming mass of men and women as far as
          the eye can reach. For instance, that an
          Englishman's house is his castle, and that awful
          proprieties ought to regulate admission to it;
          that marriage is a real bond, making jealousy and
          marital revenge at the least highly pardonable;
          that vegetarianism and all pitting of animal
          against human rights is a silly fad; that on the
          other hand to save money to give yourself a fine
          funeral is not a silly fad, but a symbol of
          ancestral self-respect; that when giving treats to
          friends or children, one should give them what
          they like, emphatically not what is good for them;
          that there is nothing illogical in being furious
          because Tommy has been coldly caned by a
          schoolmistress and then throwing saucepans at him
          yourself. All these things they believe; they are
          the only people who do believe them; and they are
          absolutely and eternally right. They are the
          ancient sanities of humanity; the ten commandments
          of man.

A week later, Mr. H. G. Wells, who at that time had not yet broken away
from organized Socialism, but was actually a member of the Executive
Committee of the Fabian Society, wrote a reply to the case against
Socialism which had been stated by Chesterton, and, a week earlier, by
Mr. Hilaire Belloc. He attempted to get Chesterton to look facts in the
face. He pointed out that as things are "I do not see how Belloc and
Chesterton can stand for anything but a strong State as against those
wild monsters of property, the strong, big, private owners." Suppose
that Chesterton isn't a Socialist, is he more on the side of the
Socialists or on that of the Free Trade Liberal capitalists and
landlords? "It isn't an adequate reply to say [of Socialism] that nobody
stood treat there, and that the simple, generous people like to beat
their own wives and children on occasion in a loving and intimate
manner, and that they won't endure the spirit of Sidney Webb."

A fortnight later, Chesterton replied. But, though many have engaged
with him in controversy, I doubt if anybody has ever pinned him down to
a fact or an argument. On this occasion, G.K.C. politely refused even to
refer to the vital point of the case of Mr. H. G. Wells. On the other
hand he wrote a very jolly article about beer and "tavern hospitality."
The argument marked time for two weeks more, when Mr. Belloc once again
entered the lists. The essence of his contribution is "I premise that
man, in order to be normally happy, tolerably happy, must own."
Collectivism will not let him own. The trouble about the present state
of society is that people do not own enough. The remedy proposed will be
worse than the disease. Then Mr. Bernard Shaw had a look in.

In the course of his lengthy article he gave "the Chesterbelloc"--"a
very amusing pantomime elephant"--several shrewd digs in the ribs. It
claimed, according to G.B.S., to be the Zeitgeist. "To which we reply,
bluntly, but conclusively, 'Gammon!'" The rest was mostly amiable
personalities. Mr. Shaw owned up to musical cravings, compared with
which the Chesterbelloc tendency to consume alcohol was as nothing. He
also jeered very pleasantly at Mr. Belloc's power to cause a stampede of
Chesterton's political and religious ideas. "For Belloc's sake
Chesterton says he believes literally in the Bible story of the
Resurrection. For Belloc's sake he says he is not a Socialist. On a
recent occasion I tried to drive him to swallow the Miracle of St.
Januarius for Belloc's sake; but at that he stuck. He pleaded his
belief in the Resurrection story. He pointed out very justly that I
believe in lots of things just as miraculous as the Miracle of St.
Januarius; but when I remorselessly pressed the fact that he did not
believe that the blood of St. Januarius reliquefies miraculously every
year, the Credo stuck in his throat like Amen in Macbeth's. He had got
down at last to his irreducible minimum of dogmatic incredulity, and
could not, even with the mouth of the bottomless pit yawning before
Belloc, utter the saving lie."

By this time the discussion was definitely off Socialism. Chesterton
produced another article, _The Last of the Rationalists_, in reply to
Mr. Shaw, from which one gathered what one had been previously suspected
that "you [namely Mr. Shaw, but in practice both the opposition
controversialists] have confined yourselves to charming essays on our
two charming personalities." And there they stopped.

The year following this bout of personalities saw the publication of a
remarkably brilliant book by Chesterton, _George Bernard Shaw_, in
which, one might have expected, the case against the political creed
represented by G.B.S. might have been carried a trifle farther. Instead
of which it was not carried anything like so far. Chesterton jeered at
Mr. Shaw's vegetarianism, denied his democracy, but decided that on the
whole he was a good republican, "in the literal and Latin sense; he
cares more for the Public Thing than for any private thing." He ends the
chapter entitled "The Progressive" by saying the kindest things he ever
said about any body of Socialists.

          I have in my time had my fling at the Fabian
          Society, at the pedantry of schemes, the arrogance
          of experts; nor do I regret it now. But when I
          remember that other world against which it reared
          its bourgeois banner of cleanliness and common
          sense, I will not end this chapter without doing
          it decent honour. Give me the drain pipes of the
          Fabians rather than the panpipes of the later
          poets; the drain pipes have a nicer smell.

The reader may have grasped by this time the fact that Chesterton's
objections to Socialism were based rather on his dislike of what the
working man calls "mucking people about" than on any economic grounds.
He made himself the sworn enemy of any Bill before Parliament which
contained any proposals to appoint inspectors. He took the line that the
sacredness of the home diminishes visibly with the entrance of the gas
collector, and disappears down the kitchen sink with the arrival of the
school attendance officer. In those of his writings which I have not
seen I have no doubt there are pleadings for the retention of the
cesspool, because it is the last moat left to the Englishman's house,
which is his castle. It is difficult to believe in the complete
sincerity of such an attitude. The inspector is the chief enemy of the
bad landlord and employer, he is a fruit of democracy. In the early days
of the factory system, when mercilessly long hours were worked by
children and women, when legislation had failed to ameliorate the
conditions of employment, because the employers were also the
magistrates, and would not enforce laws against themselves, the great
Reform Bill agitation, which so nearly caused a revolution in this
country, came to an end, having in 1832 achieved a partial success. But
the new House of Commons did not at once realize how partial it was, and
at first it regarded the interests of working men with something of the
intensity of the Liberal Government of 1906, which had not yet come to
appreciate the new and portentous Labour Party at its true worth. So in
1833 inspectors were appointed for the first time. This very brief
excursion into history is sufficient justification for refusing to take
seriously those who would have us believe that inspectors are
necessarily the enemies of the human race. Chesterton's theory that
middle-class Socialists are people who want to do things to the poor in
the direction of regimenting them finds an easy refutation. When, in
1910, the whole of England fell down before the eloquence of Mr. Lloyd
George, and consented to the Insurance Bill, the one body of people who
stood out and fought that Bill was that middle-class Socialist body, the
Fabian Society. It is sometimes desirable, for purposes of controversy,
to incarnate a theory or objection. Chesterton lumped together all his
views on the alleged intentions of the Socialists to interfere in the
natural and legitimate happinesses of the working class, and called this
curious composite Mr. Sidney Webb. So through many volumes Mr. Webb's
name is continually bobbing up, like an irrepressible Aunt Sally, and
having to be thwacked into a temporary disappearance. But this is only
done for literary effect. To heave a brick at a man is both simpler and
more amusing than to arraign a system or a creed. A reader enjoys the
feeling that his author is a clever dog who is making it devilishly
uncomfortable for his opponents. His appreciation would be considerably
less if the opponent in question was a mere theory. In point of fact,
Chesterton is probably a warm admirer of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb. When
they founded (in 1909) their National Committee for the Prevention of
Destitution, designed to educate the British public in the ideas of what
has been called Webbism, especially those contained in the Minority
Report of the Poor Law Commission, one of the first to join was G. K.
Chesterton.

The word Socialism covers a multitude of Socialists, some of whom are
not. The political faith of a man, therefore, must not be judged upon
his attitude towards Socialism, if we have anything more definite to go
upon. Chesterton overflows, so to speak, with predilections, such as
beer (in a political sense, of course), opposition to the Jingo, on the
one hand, and to middle-class faddery, such as vegetarianism, on the
other, and so on. Anybody might indulge in most of his views, in fact,
without incurring severe moral reprobation. But there is an exception
which, unfortunately, links Chesterton pretty firmly with the sweater,
and other undesirable lords of creation. He is an anti-suffragist.

In a little essay Chesterton once wrote on Tolstoy, he argued that the
thing that has driven men mad was logic, from the beginning of time,
whereas the thing that has kept them sane was mysticism. Tolstoy,
lacking mysticism, was at the mercy of his pitiless logic, which led
him to condemn things which are entirely natural and human. This
attitude, one feels (and it is only to be arrived at by feeling), is
absolutely right. We all start off with certain scarce expressible
feelings that certain things are fundamentally decent and permissible,
and that others are the reverse, just as we do not take our idea of
blackness and whiteness from a text-book. If anybody proposed that all
Scotsmen should be compelled to eat sago with every meal, the idea,
although novel to most of us, would be instantly dismissed, even, it is
probable, by those with sago interests, because it would be contrary to
our instinct of what is decent. In fact, we all believe in natural
rights, or at any rate we claim the enjoyment of some. Now natural
rights have no logical basis. The late Professor D. G. Ritchie very
brilliantly examined the theory of natural rights, and by means of much
subtle dissection and argument found that there were no natural rights;
law was the only basis of privilege. It is quite easy to be convinced by
the author's delightful dialectic, but the conviction is apt to vanish
suddenly in the presence of a dog being ill-treated.

Now on a basis of common decency--the basis of all democratic political
thought--the case for woman suffrage is irresistible. It is not decent
that the sweated woman worker should be denied what, in the opinion of
many competent judges, might be the instrument of her salvation. It is
not decent that women should share a disqualification with lunatics,
criminals, children, and no others of their own race. It is not decent
that the sex which knows most about babies should have no opportunity to
influence directly legislation dealing with babies. It is not decent
that a large, important and necessary section of humanity, with highly
gregarious instincts, should not be allowed to exercise the only
gregarious function which concerns the whole nation at once.

These propositions are fundamental; if a man or woman cannot accept
them, then he is at heart an "anti," even if he has constructed for
himself a quantity of reasons, religious, ethical, economic, political
or what not, why women should be allowed to vote. Every suffrage
argument is, or can be, based on decencies, not on emotion or
statistics.

Chesterton bases his case on decencies, but they are not the decencies
that matter. In _What's Wrong with the World_ he insists on the
indecency of allowing women to cease to be amateurs within the home, or
of allowing them to earn a living in a factory or office, or of
allowing them to share in the responsibility for taking the lives of
condemned murderers, or of allowing them to exercise the coercion which
is government, which is a sort of pyramid, with a gallows on top, the
ultimate resort of coercive power. And in these alleged indecencies (the
word is not altogether my own) lies Chesterton's whole case against
allowing any woman to vote. Into these propositions his whole case, as
expressed in _What's Wrong with the World_, is faithfully condensed.

Well now, are these indecencies sincere or simulated? First, as regards
the amateur, Chesterton's case is that the amateur is necessary, in
order to counteract the influences of the specialist. Man is nowadays
the specialist. He is confined to making such things as the thousandth
part of a motor-car or producing the ten-thousandth part of a daily
newspaper. By being a specialist he is made narrow. Woman, with the
whole home on her hands, has a multiplicity of tasks. She is the
amateur, and as such she is free. If she is put into politics or
industry she becomes a specialist, and as such becomes a slave. This is
a pretty piece of reasoning, but it is absolutely hollow. There are few
women who do not gladly resign part at least of their sovereignty, if
they have the chance, to a maid-servant (who may be, and, in fact,
usually is an amateur, but is not free to try daring experiments) or to
such blatant specialists as cooks and nursemaids. Nobody is the least
bit shocked by the existence of specialist women. Indeed, it is a solemn
fact, that were it not for them Chesterton would be unable to procure a
single article of clothing. He would be driven to the fig-leaf, and
would stand a good chance of not getting even so much, now that so many
gardeners are women. We are terribly dependent upon the specialist
woman. That is why the amateur within the home is beginning to wonder
whether, on the whole, man _is_ so very much dependent upon her. She
comes to rely more and more upon the specialist women to help her feed,
clothe, and nurse her husband. She has so much done for her that she
comes to understand the remainder left to her far better. She becomes a
specialist herself, and feels kindly towards other specialists. Then she
demands a vote and meets Chesterton, who tells her to go and mind the
baby and be as free as she likes with the domestic apparatus for making
pastry, when her baby is in point of fact being brought up by other
women at a Montessori school to be much more intelligent and much more
of a specialist than she herself is ever likely to be, and when she
knows that her dyspeptic husband has an absolute loathing for the
amateurishness that expresses itself in dough.

Then there is the alleged wrongness of permitting women to work in
factories and offices. We are all probably prepared to admit that we
have been shocked at the commercial employment of women. But it has
probably occurred to few of us that the shock was due simply to their
commercial employment. It was due to their low wages and to the
beastliness of their employers. When they drew decent wages and their
employers were decent men we were not the least bit hurt. But when an
employer made use of the amateurishness of young girls to underpay them,
and then make deductions from their wages on various trivial pretexts,
and put them to work in overcrowded factories and offices, then we all
felt acutely that an indecency was being committed. The obvious
democratic remedy is the duckpond, but in our great cities none remain.
So one is sorrowfully brought round to the slower but surer expedient of
attacking and destroying the amateurishness of women at the point where
it is dangerous to them. Amateurishness has encircled women in the past
like the seven rivers of Hades. Every now and again a daring excursion
was made in order that the wisdom of those imprisoned within should be
added to our store. A good deal of aboriginal amateurishness has been
evaporating as the woman doctor has been taking the place of the
time-honoured amateur dispenser of brimstone and treacle, and even
horrider things. And will Chesterton maintain that it were better for us
all if certain women had remained amateurs and had not studied and
specialized so that, in time of need, they were enabled to tend the sick
and wounded at home, in Flanders and in France, and wherever the powers
of evil had been at work?

Lastly, is it decent that women should share the awful responsibility
which is attached to the ultimate control of the State, when the State
is compelled to use the gallows? If women vote, they are responsible for
whatever blood is shed by the State. Yes, but, Mr. Chesterton, aren't
they just as responsible for it in any case? Don't women help to pay the
hangman's wages with every ounce of tea or of sweets they buy? If
capital punishment is obscene, then we can do without it, and a woman's
vote will not make her a sharer in the evil. If capital punishment is
morally stimulating to the nation at large, there is no reason why women
should not be allowed to share in the stimulation. Now what has become
of Chesterton's decencies? It is indeed saddening that a man who never
misses an opportunity to proclaim himself a democrat should take his
stand on this matter beside Lord Curzon, and in opposition to the
instinctively and essentially democratic views proclaimed by such men as
Messrs. H. W. Nevinson and Philip Snowden.

In an article in The Illustrated London News on June 1st, 1912,
Chesterton showed whose side he was on with unusual distinctness. The
subject of the article was Earnestness; the moral, that it was a bad
quality, the property of Socialists and Anti-Socialists, and
Suffragists, and that apathy was best of all. It concluded:

          Neither Socialists nor Suffragists will smash our
          politics, I fear. The worst they can do is to put
          a little more of the poison of earnestness into
          the strong, unconscious sanity of our race, and
          disturb that deep and just indifference on which
          all things rest; the quiet of the mother or the
          carelessness of the child.

In remarkably similar words, the late Procurator of the Holy Synod of
the Russian Church, C. P. Pobedonostsev, condemned democracy in his
book, The Reflexions of a Russian Statesman, and praised _vis inertiæ_
for its preservative effects. But the Russian had more consistency; he
did not merely condemn votes for women, but also votes for men; and not
only votes, but education, the jury system, the freedom of the Press,
religious freedom, and many other things.

Putting aside the question of woman suffrage, Chesterton's views on
democracy may be further illustrated by reference to the proceedings of
the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and the House of
Commons, 1909, on Stage Plays (Censorship). He may speak for himself
here.

Mr. G. K. Chesterton is called in, and examined.

          Question 6141 (_Chairman_). I understand that you
          appear here to give evidence on behalf of the
          average man?

          G.K.C. Yes, that is so. I represent the audience,
          in fact. I am neither a dramatist nor a dramatic
          critic. I do not quite know why I am here, but if
          anybody wants to know my views on the subject they
          are these: I am for the censorship, but I am
          against the present Censor. I am very strongly for
          the censorship, and I am very strongly against the
          present Censor. The whole question I think turns
          on the old democratic objection to despotism. I am
          an old-fashioned person and I retain the old
          democratic objection to despotism. I would trust
          12 ordinary men, but I cannot trust one ordinary
          man.

          6142. You prefer the jury to the judge?--Yes,
          exactly; that is the very point. It seems to me
          that if you have one ordinary man judging, it is
          not his ordinariness that appears, but it is his
          extraordinariness that appears. Take anybody you
          like--George III for instance. I suppose that
          George III was a pretty ordinary man in one sense.
          People called him Farmer George. He was very like
          a large number of other people, but when he was
          alone in his position things appeared in him that
          were not ordinary--that he was a German, and that
          he was mad, and various other facts. Therefore, my
          primary principle----

          6143. He gloried in the name of Briton?--I know he
          did. That is what showed him to be so thoroughly
          German.

          LORD NEWTON. He spelt it wrongly.

          WITNESS. Therefore, speaking broadly, I would not
          take George III's opinion, but I would take the
          opinion of 12 George III's on any question.

The taking of the "evidence" took several hours, but it never yielded
anything more than this: The local jury is a better judge of what is
right and proper than a single Censor. Juries may differ in their
judgments; but why not? Is it not desirable that Hampstead and Highgate
should each have an opportunity of finding out independently what they
like? May they not compete in taste one against the other?

This introduction of the question of dramatic censorship invites a
slight digression. Chesterton has a decided regard for a dramatic
censorship. A book need not be censored, because it need not be
finished by its reader, but it may be difficult to get out of a theatre
in the course of a performance. And there are performances of plays,
written by "irresponsible modern philosophers," which, to Chesterton,
seem to deserve suppression. A suggestive French farce may be a dirty
joke, but it is at least a joke; but a play which raises the question Is
marriage a failure? and answers it in the affirmative, is a pernicious
philosophy. The answer to this last contention is that, in point of
strict fact, modern philosophers do not regard happy marriages as
failures, and opinion is divided on the others, which are generally the
subjects of their plays. But there is no doubt that a jury is better
qualified than a single Censor. A French jury decided that Madame Bovary
was not immoral. An English jury decided that a certain book by Zola was
immoral and sent the publisher to prison. Another English jury, for all
practical purposes, decided that Dorian Gray was not immoral, and so on.
The verdicts may be accepted. Twelve men, picked from an alphabetical
list, may not be judges of art, but they will not debase morality.

Chesterton's personal contribution to the political thought of his day
lies in his criticism of the humaneness of legislative proposals. A
thing that is human is commonly a very different matter from a thing
that is merely humanitarian. G.K.C. is hotly human and almost bitterly
anti-humanitarian.

The difference between the two is illustrated by the institution of the
gallows, which is human, but not humanitarian. In its essentials it
consists of a rope and a branch, which is precisely the apparatus that
an angry man might employ in order to rid himself of his captured enemy.
Herbert Spencer, seeking in his old age for means whereby to increase
the happiness of mankind, invented a humanitarian apparatus for the
infliction of capital punishment. It consisted of a glorified
roundabout, on which the victim was laid for his last journey. As it
revolved, the blood-pressure on his head gradually increased (or
decreased, I forget which) until he fell asleep and died painlessly.
This is humanitarianism. The process is safe and sure (so long as the
machine did not stop suddenly), highly efficient, bloodless and
painless. But just because it is so humanitarian it offends one a great
deal more than the old-fashioned gallows. The only circumstance which
can justify violence is anger. The only circumstance which can justify
the taking of human life is anger. And anger may be expressed by a rope
or a knife-edge, but not by a roundabout or any other morbid invention
of a cold-blooded philosopher such as the electric chair, or the lethal
chamber. In the same way, if flogging is to continue as a punishment, it
must be inflicted by a man and not by a machine.

Now this distinction (made without prejudice as to Chesterton's views on
capital or corporal punishment) holds good through his whole criticism
of modern legislation. He believes that it is better that a man and his
family should starve in their own slum, than that they should be
moulded, by a cumbersome apparatus of laws and officials and inspectors,
into a tame, mildly prosperous and mildly healthy group of individuals,
whose opinions, occupations and homes should be provided for them. On
these lines he attacks whatever in his opinion will tend to put men into
a position where their souls will be less their own. He believes that
the man who has been costered by the Government into a mediocre state of
life will be less of a man than one who has been left unbothered by
officials, and has had to shift for himself.

Very largely, therefore, Chesterton's political faith is an up-to-date
variety of the tenets of the Self-Help School, which was own brother to
the Manchester School. And here we come to a curious contradiction, the
first of a series. For Chesterton loathes the Manchester School.

The contradiction comes of an inveterate nominalism. To G.K.C. all good
politics are summed up in the words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. But
nobody, not even a Frenchman, can explain what they mean. Chesterton
used to believe that they mean Liberalism, being led astray by the sound
of the first word, but he soon realized his error. Let a man say "I
believe in Liberty" and only the vagueness of the statement preserves it
from the funniness of a Higher Thinker's affirmation, "I believe in
Beauty." A man has to _feel_ Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, for they are
not in the nature of facts. And one suspects horribly that what
Chesterton really feels is merely the masculine liberty, equality and
fraternity of the public-house, where men meet together but never do
anything. For Chesterton has not yet asked us to do anything, he only
requests Parliament to refrain. He supports no political programme. He
is opposed to Party Government, which is government by the Government.
He is in favour of Home Rule, it may be inferred; and of making things
nasty for the Jews, it may be supposed. But he does not poach on the
leader-writers' preserves, and his political programme is left hazy.
His opposition to Liberal proposals brings him near the Tories. If the
Liberals continue in power for a few years longer, and Home Rule drops
out of the things opposed by Tories, the latter may well find Chesterton
among their doubtful assets. He will probably continue to call himself a
Liberal and a "child of the French Revolution," but that will be only
his fun. For the interesting abortions to which the French Revolution
gave birth--well, they are quite another story.

Chesterton is a warm supporter of the queerly mixed proposals that are
known as the "rights of small nationalities," and the smaller the
nationality, the more warmly he supports (so he would have us believe)
its demand for self-government. Big fleas have little fleas, alas, and
that is the difficulty he does not confront. For Home Rule carried to
its final sub-division is simply home rule; the independence of homes.
Political Home Rule is only assented to on general principles;
apparently on the ground that on the day when an Englishman's home
really does become his castle he will not, so to speak, mind much
whether he is an Englishman or an Irishman.

And here we may bid farewell to the politician who is Chesterton. His
politics are like his perverse definitions of the meaning of such words
as progress and reform. He is like a child who plays about with the
hands of a clock, and makes the surprising discovery that some clocks
may be made to tell a time that does not exist--with the small hand at
twelve and the large at six, for example. Also that if a clock goes
fast, it comes to register an hour behind the true time, and the other
way round. And so Chesterton goes on playing with the times, until at
last a horrid suspicion grips us. What if he cannot tell the time
himself?



VIII

A DECADENT OF SORTS


AN idea, if treated gently, may be brought up to perform many useful
tasks. It is, however, apt to pine in solitude, and should be allowed to
enjoy the company of others of its own kind. It is much easier to
overwork an idea than a man, and of the two, the wearied idea presents
an infinitely more pathetic appearance. Those of us who, for our sins,
have to review the novels of other people, are accustomed to the
saddening spectacle of a poor little idea, beautiful and fresh in its
youth, come wearily to its tombstone on page 300 (where or whereabouts
novels end), trailing after it an immense load of stiff and heavy
puppets, taken down from the common property-cupboards of the nation's
fiction, and not even dusted for the occasion. _Manalive_, as we have
seen, suffered from its devotion to one single idea, but the poor little
thing was kept going to the bitter end by the flow of humorous
encouragement given it by the author. The later works of Chesterton,
however, are symbolized by a performing flea, dragging behind it a
little cartload of passengers. But it sometimes happens that the humour
of _Manalive_ is not there, that one weary idea has to support an
intolerable deal of prose.

In _An Essay on Two Cities_[3] there is a long passage illustrating the
adventures of a man who tried to find people in London by the names of
the places. He might go into Buckingham Palace in search of the Duke of
Buckingham, into Marlborough House in quest of the Duke of Marlborough.
He might even look for the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

          I wonder that no one has written a wild romance
          about the adventures of such an alien, seeking the
          great English aristocrats, and only guided by the
          names; looking for the Duke of Bedford in the town
          of that name, seeking for some trace of the Duke
          of Norfolk in Norfolk. He might sail for
          Wellington in New Zealand to find the ancient seat
          of the Wellingtons. The last scene might show him
          trying to learn Welsh in order to converse with
          the Prince of Wales.

Here is an idea that is distinctly amusing when made to fill one short
paragraph, and might be deadly tedious if extended into a wild romance.
Perhaps the best way of summarizing the peculiar decadence into which
Chesterton seemed at one time to be falling is by the statement that up
to the present he has not found time to write the book, but has done
others like it. And yet the decadence has never showed signs of that
_fin de siècle_ rustiness that marked the decadent movement (if it was
really a movement and not just an obsession) of the generation that
preceded Chesterton. He cursed it in the dedication to Mr. E. C. Bentley
of _The Man who was Thursday_, and he remained true to the point of view
expressed in that curse for ever afterwards.

          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 came--
          Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
          Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,
          Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
          Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
          The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
          They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
          Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not ashamed.

The Chestertonian decadence was not even an all-round falling-off.
If anybody were to make the statement that in the year
nineteen-hundred-and-something Chesterton produced his worst work it
would be open to anybody else to declare, with equal truth, that in the
same year Chesterton produced his best work. And the year in which these
extremes met would be either 1913 or 1914, the years of _Father Brown_
and _The Flying Inn_ on one hand, and of _Father Brown_ and some of the
songs of _The Flying Inn_ on the other. It was not a technical decline,
but the period of certain intellectual wearinesses, when Chesterton's
mental resilience failed him for a time, and he welcomed with too much
enthusiasm the nasty ideas from which no man is wholly free.

The main feature indeed of this period of decadence is the brandishing
about of a whole mass of antipathies. A man is perfectly entitled to
hate what he will, but it is generally assumed that the hater has some
ideas on the subject of the reform of the hatee. But Chesterton is as
devoid of suggestions as a goat is of modesty. A man may have a violent
objection against women earning their own livings, and yet be regarded
as a reasonable being if he has any alternative proposals for the
well-being of the unendowed and temporarily or permanently
unmarriageable woman, with no relatives able to support her--and there
are two or three millions of such women in the United Kingdom. But a
mere "You shouldn't" is neither here nor there.

Take this verse. It was written two or three years ago and is from a
poem entitled _To a Turk_.

          With us too rage against the rood
            Your devils and your swine;
          A colder scorn of womanhood,
            A baser fear of wine,
          And lust without the harem,
            And Doom without the God,
          Go. It is not this rabble
            Sayeth to you "Ichabod."

A previous stanza talks about "the creedless chapel." Here is a whole
mass of prejudices collected into a large splutter at the expense of
England. If the verse means anything at all, it means that the English
are nearer the beasts than the Turks.

Another of Chesterton's intellectual aberrations is his anti-Semitism.
He continually denied in the columns of The Daily Herald that he was an
anti-Semite, but his references to the Jews are innumerable and always
on the same side. If one admits what appears to be Chesterton's
contention that Judaism is largely just an exclusive form of
contemporary atheism, then one is entitled to ask, Why is a wicked
Gentile atheist merely an atheist, while a Jewish atheist remains a
Jew? Surely the morals of both are on the same level, and the atheism,
and not the race, is the offensive feature. The Jews have their sinners
and their saints, including the greatest Saint of all.

          They and they only, amongst all mankind,
          Received the transcript of the eternal mind;
          Were trusted with His own engraven laws,
          And constituted guardians of His cause:
          Their's were the prophets, their's the priestly call,
          And their's, by birth, the Saviour of us all.

Even if Chesterton cannot work himself up to Cowper's enthusiasm (and
few of us can), he cannot deny that the race he is continually
blackguarding was preparing his religion, and discovering the way to
health at a time when his own Gentile ancestors were probably performing
human sacrifices and eating worms. Unquestionably what is the matter
with the modern Jew, especially of the educated classes, is that he
refuses to be impressed by the Christian Church. But the Christian
Church cannot fairly be said to have made herself attractive in the
past; her methods of Inquisition, for example. . . .

It is difficult to write apathetically on this extreme instance of a
great writer's intolerance. One single example will suffice. A year or
two ago, a Jew called Beilis was put on his trial (after an
imprisonment of nearly three years) for the murder of a small Christian
boy named Yushinsky, in order that his blood might be used for ritual
purposes. Yushinsky, who was found dead under peculiar circumstances,
was probably a Jew himself, but that does not affect the point at issue.
Mr. Arthur Henderson, M.P., tried to arouse an agitation in order to
secure the freedom of Beilis, because it was perfectly evident from the
behaviour of certain parties that the prisoner's conviction would be the
signal for the outbreak of a series of massacres of the Jews, and
because a case which had taken nearly three years to prepare was
obviously a very thin case. Chesterton wrote a ribald article in The
Daily Herald on Mr. Henderson's attempt at intervention, saying in
effect, How do you know that Beilis isn't guilty? Now it is impossible
to hold the belief that Beilis might be guilty and at the same time
disbelieve that the Jews are capable of committing human sacrifice. When
a leading Russian critic named Rosanov, also an anti-Semite, issued a
pamphlet proclaiming that the Jews did, in fact, commit this loathsome
crime, he was ignominiously ejected from a prominent Russian literary
society. The comparison should appeal to Chesterton.

The nadir of these antipathies is reached in _The Flying Inn_, a novel
published a few months before the Great War broke out, and before we all
made the discovery that, hold what prejudices we will, we are all
immensely dependent on one another. In this book we are given a picture
of England of the future, conquered by the Turk. As a concession to
Islam, all intoxicating drink is prohibited in England. It is amusing to
note that a few months after the publication of this silly
prognostication, the greatest Empire in Christendom prohibited drink
within its frontiers in order to conquer the Turk--and his Allies. A
Patrick Dalroy, an Irishman (with red hair), and of course a giant, has
been performing Homeric feats against the conquering Turks. A Lord
Ivywood, an abstraction bloodless to the point of albinism, is at the
head of affairs in England. The Jews dominate everything. Dalroy and
Humphrey Pump, an evicted innkeeper, discovering that drinks may still
be sold where an inn-sign may be found, start journeying around England
loaded only with the sign-board of "The Green Man," a large cheese, and
a keg of rum. They are, in fact, a peripatetic public-house, and the
only democratic institution of its kind left in England. Every other
chapter the new innkeepers run into Ivywood and his hangers-on. As the
story wriggles its inconsequent length, the author curses through the
mouths of his heroes. He anathematizes teetotallers, brewers,
vegetarians, temperance drinks, model villages, æsthetic poets, Oriental
art, Parliament, politicians, Jews, Turks, and infidels in general,
futurist painting, and other things. In the end, Dalroy and Pump lead a
vast insurrection, and thousands of dumb, long-suffering Englishmen
attack Ivywood in his Hall, and so free their country from the Turk.

Only the songs already described in Chapter V preserve this book from
extreme dullness. Technically it is poor. The action is as scattered as
the parts of a futurist picture. A whole chapter is devoted to a picture
of a newspaper editor at work, inventing the phraseology of
indefiniteness. Epigrams are few and are very much overworked. Once a
catchword is sprung, it is run to death. The Turk who by means of silly
puns attempts to prove that Islamic civilization is better than
European, never ceases in his efforts. The heartlessness of Ivywood is
continuous, and ends in insanity.

Parts of _The Flying Inn_ convey the impression that Chesterton was
tired of his own style and his own manner of controversy, and had taken
to parodying himself. The arguments of the already-mentioned Turk, for
example, might well pass for a really good parody of the theological
dispute in the first chapter of _The Ball and the Cross_. There, it may
be remembered, two men (more or less) discussed the symbolism of balls
and crosses. In _The Flying Inn_ people discuss the symbolism of
crescents and crosses, and the Turk, Misysra Ammon, explains, "When the
English see an English youth, they cry out 'He is crescent!' But when
they see an English aged man, they cry out 'He is cross!'" On these
lines a great deal of _The Flying Inn_ is written.

We now come to Chesterton's political decadence, traceable, like many
features in his history, to Mr. Hilaire Belloc. The friendship between
G.K.C. and the ex-Liberal M.P. for Rochdale bore a number of interesting
fruits. There were the amusing illustrations to The Great Enquiry, an
amusing skit on the Tariff Reform League, to Emmanuel Burden and The
Green Overcoat. But curious artificialities sprang into existence, like
so many funguses, under the lengthening shadow of Mr. Belloc. To him is
due the far-fetchedness of some of Chesterton's pleading in support of
the miraculous element in religion. To him also is due the growing
antipathy against the Liberal Party and the party system in general.

Up to the end of January, 1913, Chesterton had continued his connection
with The Daily News. On January 28th there took place, at the Queen's
Hall, London, a debate between Mr. Bernard Shaw and Mr. Hilaire Belloc.
The latter moved "That if we do not re-establish the institution of
property, we shall re-establish the institution of slavery; there is no
third course." The debate was an extremely poor affair, as neither
combatant dealt, except parenthetically, with his opponent's points. In
the course of it Mr. Shaw, to illustrate an argument, referred to
Chesterton as "a flourishing property of Mr. Cadbury," a remark which
G.K.C. appears to have taken to heart. His quarrel with official
Liberalism was at the moment more bitter than ever before. Mr. Belloc
had taken a very decided stand on the Marconi affair, and Mr. Cecil
Chesterton, G.K.C.'s brother, was sturdily supporting him. The Daily
News, on the other hand, was of course vigorously defending the
Government. Chesterton suddenly severed his long connection with The
Daily News and came over to The Daily Herald. This paper, which is now
defunct, except in a weekly edition, was the organ of Syndicalism and
rebellion in general. In a letter to the editor of The Herald,
Chesterton explained with pathetic irony that The Daily News "had come
to stand for almost everything I disagree with; and I thought I had
better resign before the next great measure of social reform made it
illegal to go on strike."

A week or so later, Chesterton started his series of Saturday articles
in The Daily Herald. His first few efforts show that he made a
determined attempt to get down to the intellectual level of the
Syndicalist. But anybody who sits down to read through these articles
will notice that before many weeks had passed Chesterton was beginning
to feel a certain discomfort in the company he was keeping. He writes to
say that he likes writing for The Daily Herald because it is the most
revolutionary paper he knows, "even though I do not agree with all the
revolutions it advocates," and goes on to state that, personally, he
likes most of the people he meets. Having thus, as it were, cleared his
conscience in advance, Chesterton let himself go. He attacked the
Government for its alleged nepotism, dishonesty, and corruption. He
ended one such article with, "There is nothing but a trumpet at
midnight, calling for volunteers." The New Statesman then published an
article, "Trumpets and How to Blow Them," suggesting, among other
things, that there was little use in being merely destructive. It is
typical of what I have called the decadence of Chesterton that he
borrowed another writer's most offensive description of a lady
prominently connected with The New Statesman in order to quote it with
glee by way of answer to this article. The Syndicalist hates the
Socialist for his catholicity. The Socialist wishes to see the world a
comfortable place, the Syndicalist merely wishes to work in a
comfortable factory. Chesterton seized the opportunity, being mildly
rebuked by a Socialist paper, to declare that the Fabians "are
constructing a man-trap." A little later on he writes, with reference to
a controversialist's request, that he should explain why, after all, he
was not a Socialist:

          If he wants to know what the Marconi Scandal has
          saved us from, I can tell him. It has saved us
          from Socialism. My God! what Socialism, and run by
          what sort of Socialists! My God! what an escape!
          If we had transferred the simplest national
          systems to the State (as we wanted to do in our
          youth) it is to these men that we should have
          transferred them.

There never was an example of more muddled thinking. Let us apply it to
something definite, to that harmless, necessary article of diet, milk,
to be precise, cow's milk. To-day milk is made expensive by a
multiplicity of men who have interests in keeping milk expensive. There
are too many milkmen's wages to be paid, too many milk-carts to be
built, too many shop-rents paid, and too much apparatus bought, simply
because we have not yet had the intelligence to let any municipality or
county run its own milk-service and so avoid all manner of duplication.
Chesterton's answer to this is: "I used to think so, but what about Lord
Murray, Mr. Lloyd George, and Mr. Godfrey Isaacs?" It would be as
relevant to say, "What about Dr. Crippen, Jack Sheppard, and Ananias,"
or, "But what about Mr. Bernard Shaw, the Grand Duke Nicolas, and my
brother?" The week later Chesterton addresses the Labour Party in these
words:

          Comrades (I mean gentlemen), there is only one
          real result of anything you have done. You have
          justified the vulgar slander of the suburban
          Conservatives that men from below are men who
          merely want to rise. It is a lie. No one knows so
          well as you that it was a lie: you who drove out
          Grayson and deserted Lansbury. Before you went
          into Parliament to represent the working classes,
          the working classes were feared. Since you have
          represented the working classes, they are not even
          respected. Just when there was a hope of
          Democracy, you have revived the notion that the
          demagogue was only the sycophant. Just when there
          had begun to be an English people to represent,
          you have been paid to misrepresent them. Get out
          of our path. Take your money; go.

Regarding which passage there is only to be said that it is grossly
unjust both to the Labour Party and to the working classes. It was
followed up in subsequent numbers by violent attacks on woman suffrage
and the economic independence of women; a proceeding quite commendably
amusing in a paper with a patron saint surnamed Pankhurst. A promise to
say no more about Votes for Women was followed by several more spirited
references to it, from the same point of view. After which Chesterton
cooled off and wrote about detective stories, telephones, and worked
himself down into an all-round fizzle of disgust at things as they are,
to illustrate which "I will not run into a paroxysm of citations again,"
as Milton said in the course of his Epistle in two books on Reformation
in England.

The most unpleasant feature of The Daily Herald articles is the
assumption of superiority over the British working man, expressing
itself in the patronizing tone. The British working man, as Chesterton
sees him, is a very different person from what he is. If the Middle Ages
had been the peculiar period Chesterton appears to believe it was, then
his working man would be merely a trifling anachronism of five
centuries or so. But he is not even that. Five centuries would be but a
trifle compared with the difference between him and his real self.
Chesterton's attitude towards the working man must resemble that of a
certain chivalrous knight towards the distressed damsel he thought he
had rescued. He observed, "Well, little one, aren't you going to show me
any gratitude?" And the lady replied, "I wasn't playing Andromeda,
fathead, I was looking for blackberries. Run away and play."

The attitude of the middle-class suburbanite towards the working man and
his wife is not exactly graceful, but the former at any rate does not
pretend to love the latter, and to find all decency of feeling and
righteousness of behaviour in them. Chesterton both pretends to
reverence the working classes, and exhibits a profound contempt for
them. He is never happier than when he is telling the working classes
that they are wrong. He delights in attacking the Labour Party in order
to have the supreme satisfaction of demonstrating that working men are
their own worst enemies.

At the beginning of August, 1914, the Great War broke out, and
everything seemed changed. No man now living will be able to say
definitely what effects the war will have upon literature, but one
thing is certain: nothing will remain the same. We have already learned
to view each other with different eyes. For better or for worse, old
animosities and party cleavages have given way to unforeseen
combinations. To assert that we have all grown better would be untrue.
But it might reasonably be argued that the innate generousness of the
British people has been vitiated by its childlike trust in its
journalists, and the men who own them. When Mr. Bernard Shaw wrote a
brilliant defence of the British case for intervention in the war, his
mild denigration of some of the defects of the English nation, a few
trivial inaccuracies, and his perverse bellicosity of style made him the
object of the attentions of a horde of panic-stricken heresy-hunters.
Those of us who had not the fortune to escape the Press by service
abroad, especially those of us who derived our living from it, came to
loathe its misrepresentation of the English people. There seemed no end
to the nauseous vomits of undigested facts and dishonourable prejudices
that came pouring out in daily streams. Then we came to realize, as
never before, the value of such men as Chesterton. Christianity and the
common decencies fare badly at the hands of the bishops of to-day, and
the journalists threw them over as soon as the war began. But,
unfortunately for us all, G.K.C. fell seriously ill in the early period
of the war, and was in a critical state for many months. But not before
he had published a magnificent recantation--for it is no less--of all
those bitternesses which, in their sum, had very nearly caused him to
hate the British. It is a poem, _Blessed are the Peacemakers_.

          Of old with a divided heart
            I saw my people's pride expand,
          Since a man's soul is born apart
            By mother earth and fatherland.

          I knew, through many a tangled tale,
            Glory and truth not one but two:
          King, Constable and Amirail
            Took me like trumpets: but I knew

          A blacker thing than blood's own dye
            Weighed down great Hawkins on the sea;
          And Nelson turned his blindest eye
            On Naples and on liberty.

          Therefore to you my thanks, O throne,
            O thousandfold and frozen folk,
          For whose cold frenzies all your own
            The Battle of the Rivers broke;

          Who have no faith a man could mourn,
            Nor freedom any man desires;
          But in a new clean light of scorn
            Close up my quarrel with my sires;

          Who bring my English heart to me,
            Who mend me like a broken toy;
          Till I can see you fight and flee,
            And laugh as if I were a boy.

When we read this poem, with its proclamation of a faith restored,
Chesterton's temporary absence from the field of letters appears even
more lamentable. For even before his breakdown he had given other signs
of a resurrection. Between the overworked descriptions of _The Flying
Inn_ and the little book _The Barbarism of Berlin_ which closely
followed it, there is a fine difference of style, as if in the interval
Chesterton had taken a tonic. Thus there is a jolly passage in which,
describing German barbarism, he refers to the different ways of treating
women.

          The two extremes of the treatment of women might
          be represented by what are called the respectable
          classes in America and in France. In America they
          choose the risk of comradeship; in France the
          compensation of courtesy. In America it is
          practically possible for any young gentleman to
          take any young lady for what he calls (I deeply
          regret to say) a joy-ride; but at least the man
          goes with the woman as much as the woman with the
          man. In France the young woman is protected like a
          nun while she is unmarried; but when she is a
          mother she is really a holy woman; and when she is
          a grandmother she is a holy terror. By both
          extremes the woman gets something back out of
          life. France and America aim alike at
          equality--America by similarity; France by
          dissimilarity. But North Germany does actually aim
          at inequality. The woman stands up, with no more
          irritation than a butler; the man sits down, with
          no more embarrassment than a guest.

And so on. It runs very easily; we recognize the old touch; the epigrams
are not worked to death; and the chains of argument are not mere strings
of damped brilliancies. And before 1914 had come to its end, in another
pamphlet, _Letters to an Old Garibaldian_, the same style, the same
freshness of thought, and the same resurgent strength were once again in
evidence. Then illness overcame.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all futures, the future of literature and its professors is the least
predictable. We have all, so to speak, turned a corner since August,
1914, but we have not all turned the same way. Chesterton would seem to
have felt the great change early in the war. Soon he will break his
silence, and we shall know whether we have amongst us a giant with
strength renewed or a querulous Nonconformist Crusader, agreeing with no
man, while claiming to speak for every man. Early in the course of this
study a distinction was drawn between Christians and Crusaders.
Chesterton has been throughout his career essentially a Crusader. He set
out to put wrongs to rights in the same spirit; in much the same spirit,
too, he incidentally chivvied about the Jews he met in his path, just as
the Crusaders had done. He fought for the Holy Sepulchre, and gained it.
Like the Crusaders, he professed orthodoxy, and, like them, fell
between several "orthodoxies." He shared their visions and their faith,
so far as they had any. But one thing is true of all Crusaders, they are
not necessarily Christians. And there is that about Chesterton which
sometimes makes me wonder whether, after all, he is not "a child of the
French Revolution" in a sense he himself does not suspect. He has cursed
the barren fig-tree of modern religious movements. But there comes a
suspicion that he denies too much; that from between those supple
sentences and those too plausible arguments one may catch a glimpse of
the features of a mocking spirit. Chesterton has given us the keenest
enjoyment, and he has provoked thought, even in the silly atheist. We
all owe him gratitude, but no two readers of his works are likely to
agree as to the causes of their gratitude. That, in itself, is a
tribute. Wherefore let it be understood that in writing this study I
have been speaking entirely for myself, and if any man think me
misguided, inappreciative, hypercritical, frivolous, or anything else,
why, he is welcome.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] _All Things Considered._



BIBLIOGRAPHY (TO JULY, 1915)


WORKS

  1900. _Greybeards at Play._ Brimley Johnson. Cheaper edition, 1902.

        _The Wild Knight._ Grant Richards. Second edition,
           Brimley Johnson, 1905. Enlarged edition, Dent, 1914.


  1901. _The Defendant._ Brimley Johnson. Second enlarged edition,
           1902. Cheap edition, in Dent's Wayfarer's Library, 1914.


  1902. _Twelve Types._ A. L. Humphreys. Partly reprinted as _Five
           Types_, 1910, same publisher. Cheap edition, 1911.

        _G. F. Watts._ Duckworth. In Popular Library of Art. Reissued
           at higher price, 1914.


  1903. _Robert Browning._ In English Men of Letters Series. Macmillan.


  1904. _The Patriotic Idea._ In _England a Nation_. Edited by Lucien
           Oldershaw. Brimley Johnson.

        _The Napoleon of Notting Hill._ John Lane. With 7 full-page
           illustrations by W. Graham Robertson and a Map of the Seat
           of War.


  1905. _The Club of Queer Trades._ Harper. Cheap edition, Hodder and
           Stoughton, 1912.

        _Heretics._ John Lane.


  1906. _Charles Dickens._ Methuen. Cheaper edition, 1907. Popular
           edition, 1913.


  1908. _The Man who was Thursday._ Arrowsmith.

        _All Things Considered._ Methuen.

        _Orthodoxy._ John Lane.


  1909. _Tremendous Trifles._ Methuen.


  1910. _Alarms and Discursions._ Methuen.

        _Five Types._ A. L. Humphreys. Reprinted from _Twelve
           Types_, 1905.

        _What's Wrong with the World?_ Cassell. Cheap edition, 1912.

        _William Blake._ Duckworth. In Popular Library of Art.

        _George Bernard Shaw._ John Lane. Cheap edition, 1914.

        _The Ball and the Cross._ Wells Gardner, Darton.


  1911. _The Ballad of the White Horse._ Methuen.

        _Appreciations of Dickens._ Dent. Reprinted prefaces from
           Everyman Series edition of Dickens.

        _The Innocence of Father Brown._ Cassell.


  1912. _Simplicity and Tolstoy._ A. L. Humphreys. Another edition,
           H. Siegle. In Watteau Series, 1913.

        _A Miscellany of Men._ Methuen.

        _Manalive._ Nelson.


  1913. _Magic._ Martin Seeker.

        _The Victorian Age in Literature._ Williams and Norgate. In
           Home University Library.


  1914. _The Wisdom of Father Brown._ Cassell.

        _The Flying Inn._ Methuen. (_The Songs of the Simple Life_
           appeared originally in _The New Witness_.)

        _The Wild Knight._ Dent. Enlarged edition, first published
           1900.

        _The Barbarism of Berlin._ Cassell.

        _Letters to an Old Garibaldian._ Methuen.


  1915. _Poems._ Burns and Oates.

        And articles on Tolstoy, Stevenson, Tennyson, and Dickens
           in a series of booklets published by _The Bookman_,
           1902-1904.



PREFACES TO THE FOLLOWING BOOKS

  1902. _Past and Present._ By Thomas Carlyle. In World's Classics.
           Grant Richards.


  1903. _Life of Johnson._ Extracts from Boswell. Isbister.


  1904. _The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table._ By O. W. Holmes.
           Red Letter Library. Blackie.

        _Sartor Resartus._ By Thomas Carlyle. Cassell's National
           Library.

        _The Pilgrim's Progress._ By John Bunyan. Cassell's National
           Library.


  1905. _Creatures That Once Were Men._ By Maxim Gorky. Rivers.


  1906 etc. _Works of Dickens._ In Everyman Library. Dent.


  1906. _Essays._ By Matthew Arnold. In the Everyman Library. Dent.

        _Literary London._ By Elsie M. Lang. Werner Laurie.


  1907. _The Book of Job._ (Wellwood Books.)

        _From Workhouse to Westminster; the Life Story of Will Crooks,
           M.P._ By George Haw. Cassell. Cheaper edition, 1908.


  1908. _Poems._ By John Ruskin. Muses Library. Routledge.

        _The Cottage Homes of England._ By W. W. Crotch. Industrial
           Publishing Co.


  1909. _A Vision of Life._ By Darrell Figgis. Lane.

        _Meadows of Play._ By Margaret Arndt. Elkin Mathews.


  1910. _Selections from Thackeray._ Bell.

        _Eyes of Youth._ An Anthology. Herbert and Daniel.


  1911. _Samuel Johnson._ Extracts from, selected by Alice
           Meynell. Herbert and Daniel.

        _The Book of Snobs._ By W. M. Thackeray. Red Letter
           Library. Blackie.


  1912. _Famous Paintings Reproduced in Colour._ Cassell.

        _The English Agricultural Labourer._ By A. H. Baverstock.
           The Vineyard Press.

       _Fables._ By Æsop. Translated by V. S. Vernon Jones.
           Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Heinemann.


  1913. _The Christmas Carol._ In the Waverley Dickens.


  1915. _Bohemia's Claim for Freedom._ The London Czech Committee.



ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING BOOKS BY OTHER WRITERS

  1901. _Nonsense Rhymes._ By W. C. Monkhouse. Brimley Johnson.
           Cheaper edition, 1902.


  1903. _The Great Enquiry._ By H. B. (Hilaire Belloc). Duckworth.


  1904. _Emmanuel Burden._ By Hilaire Belloc. Methuen.


  1905. _Biography for Beginners._ By E. Clerihew. Cheaper edition,
           Werner Laurie, 1908. Cheap edition, 1910.


  1912. _The Green Overcoat._ By Hilaire Belloc. Arrowsmith.



CONTRIBUTIONS TO PERIODICALS

  _Bookman._ From 1898 onwards, _passim_.

  _The Speaker_ (afterwards _The Nation_). From 1898 onwards.

  _The Daily News._ Weekly article, 1900-1913. Also occasional
           poems and reviews.

  _The Daily Herald._ Weekly article, 1913-1914.

  _The Illustrated London News._ 1905-1914; 1915-

  _The Eye-Witness_ (afterwards _The New Witness_). Poems and
           articles, 1911 onwards.

  Also correspondence columns of _The Tribune_ (1906-1908),
           _The Clarion_, and the London Press in general.

  _The Oxford and Cambridge Review_ (afterwards _The British
           Review_). Articles 1911, etc.

  _The Dublin Review._ Occasional articles.



CONTRIBUTIONS TO OFFICIAL PUBLICATIONS

  Evidence before the Joint Select Committee of the House of Lords and
     the House of Commons on Stage Plays (Censorship), included in the
     Minutes of Evidence, 1909.



SPEECHES

  1908. _The Press._ Speech at Pan-Anglican Congress. Proceedings
           published by _The Times_.

  1910. _What to do with the Backward Races._ Speech at the
           Nationalities and Subject Races Conference, London.
           Proceedings published by P. S. King.

  1914. _Do Miracles Happen?_ Report of a Discussion at the Little
           Theatre in January, 1914. Published as a pamphlet by The
           Christian Commonwealth Co.



          PRINTED BY
          WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD.
          PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND



_MARTIN SECKER_

_HIS COMPLETE CATALOGUE MCMXV_

          _The Books in this list should be obtainable from
          all Booksellers and Libraries, and if any
          difficulty is experienced the Publisher will be
          glad to be informed of the fact. He will also be
          glad if those interested in receiving from time to
          time Announcement Lists, Prospectuses, &c., of new
          and forthcoming books from Number Five John Street
          will send their names and addresses to him for
          this purpose. Any book in this list may be
          obtained on approval through the booksellers, or
          direct from the Publisher, on remitting him the
          published price, plus the postage._


          _MARTIN SECKER_
          _Publisher_
          _Number Five John Street_
          _Adelphi London_

          _Telephone Gerrard 4779_
          _Telegraphic Address:
          Psophidian London_



PART ONE

INDEX OF AUTHORS


  ABERCROMBIE, LASCELLES
    SPECULATIVE DIALOGUES.   _Cr. 8vo. 5s. net._
    THOMAS HARDY: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    THE EPIC (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  AFLALO, F. G.
    BEHIND THE RANGES. _Wide Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._
    REGILDING THE CRESCENT. _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._
    BIRDS IN THE CALENDAR. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. net._

  ALLSHORN, LIONEL
    STUPOR MUNDI.    _Medium Octavo. 16s. net._

  APPERSON, G. L.
    THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF SMOKING. _Post 8vo. 6s. net._

  ARMSTRONG, DONALD
    THE MARRIAGE OF QUIXOTE.    _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  ARTZIBASHEF, MICHAEL
    SANINE. _Preface by Gilbert Cannan. Crown 8vo. 6s._
    BREAKING-POINT.        _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE MILLIONAIRE. _Intro. by the Author. Cr. 8vo. 6s._
    THE REVOLUTION.         _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  BARRINGTON, MICHAEL
    GRAHAME OF CLAVERHOUSE. _Imperial 8vo. 30s.
    net. Edition de Luxe 63s. net._

  BENNETT, ARNOLD
    THOSE UNITED STATES.   _Post 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  BLACK, CLEMENTINA
    THE LINLEYS OF BATH. _Medium 8vo. 16s. net._
    THE CUMBERLAND LETTERS. _Med. 8vo. 16s. net._

  BOULGER, D. C.
    THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE. _Med. 8vo. 21s. net._

  BOTTOME, PHYLLIS
    THE COMMON CHORD.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  BROWN, IVOR
    YEARS OF PLENTY.      _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    SECURITY.             _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  BURROW, C. KENNETT
    CARMINA VARIA.     _F'cap 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  CALDERON, GEORGE (With St. John Hankin)
    THOMPSON: A Comedy.   _Sq. Cr. 8vo. 2s. net._

  CANNAN, GILBERT
    ROUND THE CORNER.      _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    OLD MOLE.              _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    YOUNG EARNEST.         _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    SAMUEL BUTLER: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s 6d. net._
    WINDMILLS: A Book of Fables. _Cr. 8vo. 5s. net._
    SATIRE (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  CHESTERTON, G. K.
    MAGIC: A Fantastic Comedy. _Sq. Cr. 8vo. 2s. net._

  CLAYTON, JOSEPH
    THE UNDERMAN.           _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE.  _Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net._
    ROBERT KETT.            _Demy 8vo. 8s. 6d. net._

  COKE, DESMOND
    THE ART OF SILHOUETTE.  _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._

  CRAVEN, A. SCOTT
    THE FOOL'S TRAGEDY.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  DAWSON, WARRINGTON
    THE TRUE DIMENSION.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  DE SELINCOURT, BASIL
    WALT WHITMAN: A CRITICAL STUDY.  _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    RHYME (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  DOUGLAS, LORD ALFRED
    THE WILDE MYTH.   _Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net._

  DOUGLAS, NORMAN
    FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND. _Wide Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    OLD CALABRIA.     _Demy 8vo. 15s. net._

  DRAYCOTT, G. M.
    MAHOMET: FOUNDER OF ISLAM.  _Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net._

  DRINKWATER, JOHN
    WILLIAM MORRIS: A CRITICAL STUDY.  _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    D. G. ROSSETTI: A CRITICAL STUDY.  _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    THE LYRIC.   (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  FALLS, CYRIL
    RUDYARD KIPLING: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  FEA, ALLAN
    OLD ENGLISH HOUSES.                _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._
    NOOKS AND CORNERS OF OLD ENGLAND.  _5s. net._
    THE REAL CAPTAIN CLEVELAND.        _Demy 8vo. 8s. 6d. net._

  FLECKER, J. E.
    COLLECTED POEMS. _Including_ THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND.
        _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  FRANCIS, RENÉ
    EGYPTIAN ÆSTHETICS. _Wide Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  GRETTON, R. H.
    HISTORY (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  HANKIN, ST. JOHN
    THE DRAMATIC WORKS, with an Introduction by John Drinkwater.
      _Small 4to. Definitive Limited Edition in Three Volumes. 25s. net._
    THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL. _Sq. Cr. 8vo. 2s. net._
    THE CASSILIS ENGAGEMENT.    _Sq. Cr. 8vo. 2s. net._
    THE CHARITY THAT BEGAN AT HOME.         _25s. net._
    THE CONSTANT LOVER, ETC.    _Sq. Cr. 8vo. 2s. net._

  HAUPTMANN, GERHART
    THE COMPLETE DRAMATIC WORKS. _6 vols. Crown 8vo. 5s. net per volume._

  HEWLETT, WILLIAM
    TELLING THE TRUTH.      _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    UNCLE'S ADVICE: A NOVEL IN LETTERS. _Cr. 8vo. 6s._
    THE CHILD AT THE WINDOW.   _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  HORSNELL, HORACE
    THE BANKRUPT. _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  HOWE, P. P.
    THE REPERTORY THEATRE.  _Cr. 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._
    DRAMATIC PORTRAITS.     _Crown 8vo. 5s. net._
    BERNARD SHAW: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    J.M. SYNGE: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    CRITICISM (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  HUEFFER, FORD MADOX
    HENRY JAMES: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    COLLECTED POEMS. _Demy 8vo. 6s. net._

  IBSEN, HENRIK
    PEER GYNT. A New Translation by R. Ellis Roberts. _Wide Crown 8vo.
           5s. net._

  JACOB, HAROLD
    PERFUMES OF ARABY. _Wide Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  JAMES, HENRY
    THE TURN OF THE SCREW.
    THE LESSON OF THE MASTER.
    THE DEATH OF THE LION.
    THE ASPERN PAPERS.
    DAISY MILLER.
    THE COXON FUND.
    THE REVERBERATOR.
    THE ALTAR OF THE DEAD.
    THE BEAST IN THE JUNGLE.
    THE FIGURE IN THE CARPET.
    GLASSES.
    THE PUPIL.

    _Each F'cap 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  JOHNSON, OWEN
    THE SALAMANDER.   _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    MAKING MONEY.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  LAMONT, L. M.
    A CORONAL: AN ANTHOLOGY. _F'cap 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  LEWISOHN, L.
    THE MODERN DRAMA _Crown 8vo. 5s. net._

  LLUELLYN, RICHARD
    THE IMPERFECT BRANCH.          _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  LOW, IVY
    THE QUESTING BEAST.            _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  LYNCH, BOHUN
    UNOFFICIAL.                    _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    L.S.D.                         _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  McFEE, WILLIAM
    CASUALS OF THE SEA.            _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  MACHEN, ARTHUR
    HIEROGLYPHICS              _F'cap 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  MACKENZIE, COMPTON
    THE PASSIONATE ELOPMENT. _Cr. 8vo. 6s. and 2s. net._
    CARNIVAL.      _Crown 8vo. 6s. and 2s. net._
    SINISTER STREET. Volume I.   _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    SINISTER STREET. Volume II.  _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    GUY AND PAULINE.             _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    KENSINGTON RHYMES.         _Crown 4to. 5s. net._

  MAKOWER, S.V.
    THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE.   _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  MAVROGORDATO, JOHN
    LETTER FROM GREECE.    _F'cap 8vo. 2s. net._
    CASSANDRA IN TROY.     _Small 4to. 5s. net._

  MELVILLE, LEWIS
    SOME ECCENTRICS AND A WOMAN. _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._

  METHLEY, VIOLET
    CAMILLE DESMOULINS: A Biography. _Dy. 8vo. 15s. net._

  MEYNELL, VIOLA
    LOT BARROW.    _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    MODERN LOVERS. _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    COLUMBINE.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    NARCISSUS.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  MURRY, J. MIDDLETON
    DOSTOEVSKY: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  NORTH, LAURENCE
    IMPATIENT GRISELDA.             _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE GOLIGHTLYS: FATHER AND SON. _Cr. 8vo. 6s._

  ONIONS, OLIVER
    WIDDERSHINS.                     _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE. _Cr. 8vo. 6s._
    THE DEBIT ACCOUNT.               _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE STORY OF LOUIE.              _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  PAIN, BARRY
    ONE KIND AND ANOTHER.           _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    COLLECTED TALES: Volume I.      _Medium 8vo. 6s._
    COLLECTED TALES: Volume II.     _Medium 8vo. 6s._
    THE SHORT STORY (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo.
           1s. net._

  PALMER, JOHN
    PETER PARAGON.        _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE KING'S MEN.       _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    COMEDY (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  PERUGINI, MARK E.
    THE ART OF BALLET.  _Demy 8vo. 12s. 6d. net._

  PHILIPS, AUSTIN
    BATTLES OF LIFE. _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  PRESTON, ANNA
    THE RECORD OF A SILENT LIFE.  _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  REID, FORREST
    YEATS: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  ROBERTS, R. ELLIS
    IBSEN: A CRITICAL STUDY.      _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    TOLSTOI: A CRITICAL STUDY.    _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    PEER GYNT: A NEW TRANSLATION. _Cr. 8vo. 5s. net._

  SABATINI, RAFAEL
    THE SEA-HAWK.              _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE BANNER OF THE BULL.    _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  SAND, MAURICE
    THE HISTORY OF THE HARLEQUINADE. _Two Volumes_. _Med. 8vo. 25s.
           net the set._

  SCOTT-JAMES, R. A.
    PERSONALITY IN LITERATURE. _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  SIDGWICK, FRANK
    THE BALLAD _(The Art and Craft of Letters). F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  SOLOGUB, FEODOR
    THE OLD HOUSE.          _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE LITTLE DEMON.       _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE CREATED LEGEND.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  STONE, CHRISTOPHER
    THE BURNT HOUSE.        _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    PARODY (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  STRAUS, RALPH
    CARRIAGES AND COACHES.   _Med. 8vo. 18s. net._

  STREET, G. S.
    PEOPLE AND QUESTIONS.  _Wide Cr. 8vo. 5s. net._

  SWINNERTON, FRANK
    GISSING: A CRITICAL STUDY.   _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    STEVENSON: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  TAYLOR, G. R. STIRLING
    MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT.   _Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE GREAT WAR. _2s. 6d. net._

  TAYLOR, UNA
    MAETERLINCK: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  THOMAS, EDWARD
    FEMININE INFLUENCE ON THE POETS. _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._
    SWINBURNE: A CRITICAL STUDY.     _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    PATER: A CRITICAL STUDY.         _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    THE TENTH MUSE.                  _F'cap 8vo. 2s. 6d. net._

  VAUGHAN, H. M.
    MELEAGER.                    _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    AN AUSTRALASIAN WANDER-YEAR. _Dy. 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._

  WALPOLE, HUGH
    FORTITUDE.                _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE DUCHESS OF WREXE.     _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  WEST, JULIUS
    CHESTERTON: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._

  WILLIAMS, ORLO
    VIE DE BOHÈME.                              _Demy 8vo. 15s. net._
    MEREDITH: A CRITICAL STUDY.                 _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._
    THE ESSAY (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  YOUNG, FILSON
    NEW LEAVES.                              _Wide Crown 8vo. 5s. net._
    A CHRISTMAS CARD.                             _Demy 16mo. 1s. net._
    PUNCTUATION (_The Art and Craft of Letters_). _F'cap 8vo. 1s. net._

  YOUNG, FRANCIS BRETT
    DEEP SEA.       _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE DARK TOWER. _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    THE IRON AGE.   _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  YOUNG, F. & E. BRETT
    UNDERGROWTH.               _Crown 8vo. 6s._
    BRIDGES: A CRITICAL STUDY. _Dy. 8vo. 7s. 6d. net._



PART TWO: CLASSIFIED

INDEX OF TITLES


_General Literature_

    ART OF BALLET, THE. _By Mark E. Perugini._
    ART OF SILHOUETTE, THE. _By Desmond Coke._
    BATTLE OF THE BOYNE, THE. _By D. C. Boulger._
    BEHIND THE RANGES. _By F. G. Aflalo._
    BIRDS IN THE CALENDAR. _By F. G. Aflalo._
    CAMILLE DESMOULINS. _By Violet Methley._
    CARRIAGES AND COACHES. _By Ralph Straus._
    CHRISTMAS CARD, A. _By Filson Young._
    CUMBERLAND LETTERS, THE. _By Clementina Black._
    DRAMATIC PORTRAITS. _By P. P. Howe._
    FEMININE INFLUENCE ON THE POETS. _By E. Thomas._
    GRAHAME OF CLAVERHOUSE. _By Michael Barrington._
    HIEROGLYPHICS. _By Arthur Machen._
    HISTORY OF THE HARLEQUINADE, THE.  _By M. Sand._
    LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE. _By Joseph Clayton._
    LETTERS FROM GREECE. _By John Mavrogordato._
    LINLEYS OF BATH, THE. _By Clementina Black._
    MAHOMET. _By G. M. Draycott._
    MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. _By G. R. Stirling Taylor._
    NEW LEAVES. _By Filson Young._
    PEOPLE AND QUESTIONS. _By G. S. Street._
    PERSONALITY IN LITERATURE. _By R. A. Scott-James._
    PSYCHOLOGY OF THE GREAT WAR. _By Stirling Taylor._
    REAL CAPTAIN CLEVELAND, THE. _By Allan Fea._
    REGILDING THE CRESCENT. _By F. G. Aflalo._
    ROBERT KETT. _By Joseph Clayton._
    SOCIAL HISTORY OF SMOKING, THE. _By G. L. Apperson._
    SOME ECCENTRICS AND A WOMAN. _By Lewis Melville._
    SPECULATIVE DIALOGUES. _By Lascelles Abercrombie._
    STUPOR MUNDI. _By Lionel Allsborn._
    TENTH MUSE, THE. _By Edward Thomas._
    THOSE UNITED STATES. _By Arnold Bennett._
    VIE DE BOHÈME. _By Orlo Williams._
    WILDE MYTH, THE. _By Lord Alfred Douglas._
    WINDMILLS. _By Gilbert Cannan._


_Verse_

    COLLECTED POEMS OF J. E. FLECKER.
    COLLECTED POEMS OF F. M. HUEFFER.
    CARMINA VARIA. _By C. Kennett Burrow._
    CORONAL, A. A New Anthology. _By L. M. Lamont._
    GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND, THE. _By J. E. Flecker._
        (See Collected Poems.)
    KENSINGTON RHYMES. _By Compton Mackenzie._


_Drama_

    DRAMATIC WORKS OF ST. JOHN HANKIN.   _3 vols._
    DRAMATIC WORKS OF GERHART HAUPTMANN. _6 vols._
    CASSANDRA IN TROY. _By John Mavrogordato._
    MAGIC. _By G. K. Chesterton._
    MODERN DRAMA, THE. _By L. Lewisohn._
    PEER GYNT. _Translated by R. Ellis Roberts._
    REPERTORY THEATRE, THE. _By P. P. Howe._
    THOMPSON. _By St. John Hankin and G. Calderon._


_Travel_

    AUSTRALASIAN WANDER YEAR, AN. _By H. M. Vaughan._
    EGYPTIAN ÆSTHETICS. _By René Francis._
    FOUNTAINS IN THE SAND. _By Norman Douglas._
    NOOKS AND CORNERS OF OLD ENGLAND. _By Allan Fea._
    OLD CALABRIA. _By Norman Douglas._
    OLD ENGLISH HOUSES. _By Allan Fea._
    PERFUMES OF ARABY. _By Harold Jacob._


_Martin Secker's Series of Critical Studies_

    ROBERT BRIDGES. _By F. E. Brett Young._
    SAMUEL BUTLER. _By Gilbert Cannan._
    G. K. CHESTERTON. _By Julius West._
    FEODOR DOSTOEVSKY. _By J. Middleton Murry._
    GEORGE GISSING. _By Frank Swinnerton._
    THOMAS HARDY. _By Lascelles Abercrombie._
    HENRIK IBSEN. _By R. Ellis Roberts._
    HENRY JAMES. _By Ford Madox Hueffer._
    RUDYARD KIPLING. _By Cyril Falls._
    MAURICE MAETERLINCK. _By Una Taylor._
    GEORGE MEREDITH. _By Orlo Williams._
    WILLIAM MORRIS. _By John Drinkwater._
    WALTER PATER. _By Edward Thomas._
    D. G. ROSSETTI. _By John Drinkwater._
    BERNARD SHAW. _By P. P. Howe._
    R. L. STEVENSON. _By Frank Swinnerton._
    A. C. SWINBURNE. _By Edward Thomas._
    J. M. SYNGE. _By P. P. Howe._
    LEO TOLSTOI. _By R. Ellis Roberts._
    WALT WHITMAN. _By Basil de Selincourt._
    W. B. YEATS. _By Forrest Reid._


_The Art and Craft of Letters_

    BALLAD, THE. _By Frank Sidgwick._
    COMEDY. _By John Palmer._
    CRITICISM. _By P. P. Howe._
    EPIC, THE. _By Lascelles Abercrombie._
    ESSAY, THE. _By Orlo Williams._
    HISTORY. _By R. H. Gretton._
    LYRIC, THE. _By John Drinkwater._
    PARODY. _By Christopher Stone._
    PUNCTUATION. _By Filson Young._
    SATIRE. _By Gilbert Cannan._
    SHORT STORY, THE. _By Barry Pain._


_Fiction_

    ALTAR OF THE DEAD, THE. _By Henry James._
    ASPERN PAPERS, THE. _By Henry James._
    BANKRUPT, THE. _By Horace Horsnell._
    BANNER OF THE BULL, THE. _By Rafael Sabatini._
    BATTLES OF LIFE. _By Austin Philips._
    BEAST IN THE JUNGLE, THE. _By Henry James._
    BREAKING-POINT. _By Michael Artzibashef._
    BURNT HOUSE, THE. _By Christopher Stone._
    CARNIVAL. _By Compton Mackenzie._
    CASUALS OF THE SEA. _By William McFee._
    COLLECTED TALES: Vol. I. _By Barry Pain._
    COLLECTED TALES: Vol. II. _By Barry Pain._
    COLUMBINE. _By Viola Meynell._
    COMMON CHORD, THE. _By Phyllis Bottome._
    COXON FUND, THE. _By Henry James._
    CREATED LEGEND, THE. _By Feodor Sologub._
    DAISY MILLER. _By Henry James._
    DARK TOWER, THE. _By E. Brett Young._
    DEATH OF THE LION, THE. _By Henry James._
    DEBIT ACCOUNT, THE. _By Oliver Onions._
    DEEP SEA. _By F. Brett Young._
    DUCHESS OF WREXE, THE. _By Hugh Walpole._
    FIGURE IN THE CARPET, THE. _By Henry James._
    FOOL'S TRAGEDY, THE. _By A. Scott Craven._
    FORTITUDE. _By Hugh Walpole._
    GLASSES. _By Henry James._
    GOLIGHTLYS, THE. _By Laurence North._
    GUY AND PAULINE. _By Compton Mackenzie._
    IMPATIENT GRISELDA. _By Laurence North._
    IMPERFECT BRANCH, THE. _By Richard Lluellyn._
    IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVIDENCE. _By O. Onions._
    IRON AGE, THE. _By F. Brett Young._
    KING'S MEN, THE. _By John Palmer._
    L.S.D. _By Bohun Lynch._
    LESSON OF THE MASTER, THE. _By Henry James._
    LITTLE DEMON, THE. _By Feodor Sologub._
    LOT BARROW. _By Viola Meynell._
    MARRIAGE OF QUIXOTE, THE. _By Donald Armstrong._
    MAKING MONEY. _By Owen Johnson._
    MELEAGER. _By H. M. Vaughan._
    MILLIONAIRE, THE. _By Michael Artzibashef._
    MODERN LOVERS. _By Viola Meynell._
    NARCISSUS. _By Viola Meynell._
    OLD MOLE. _By Gilbert Cannan._
    OLD HOUSE, THE. _By Feodor Sologub._
    ONE KIND AND ANOTHER. _By Barry Pain._
    OUTWARD APPEARANCE, THE. _By Stanley V. Makower._
    PASSIONATE ELOPEMENT, THE. _By Compton Mackenzie._
    PETER PARAGON. _By John Palmer._
    PUPIL, THE. _By Henry James._
    QUESTING BEAST, THE. _By Ivy Low._
    RECORD OF A SILENT LIFE, THE. _By Anna Preston._
    REVERBERATOR, THE. _By Henry James._
    ROUND THE CORNER. _By Gilbert Cannan._
    SALAMANDER, THE. _By Owen Johnson._
    SANINE. _By Michael Artzibashef._
    SEA HAWK, THE. _By Rafael Sabatini._
    SECURITY. _By Ivor Brown._
    SINISTER STREET. I. _By Compton Mackenzie._
    SINISTER STREET. II. _By Compton Mackenzie._
    STORY OF LOUIE, THE. _By Oliver Onions._
    TALES OF THE REVOLUTION. _By M. Artzibashef._
    TELLING THE TRUTH. _By William Hewlett._
    TRUE DIMENSION, THE. _By Warrington Dawson._
    TURN OF THE SCREW, THE. _By Henry James._
    UNCLE'S ADVICE. _By William Hewlett._
    UNDERGROWTH. _By F. & E. Brett Young._
    UNDERMAN, THE. _By Joseph Clayton._
    UNOFFICIAL. _By Bohun Lynch._
    WIDDERSHINS. _By Oliver Onions._
    YEARS OF PLENTY. _By Ivor Brown._
    YOUNG EARNEST. _By Gilbert Cannan._


          BALLANTYNE PRESS: LONDON AND EDINBURGH

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Page 150, a period was changed to a comma. (as regards the amateur,)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "G. K. Chesterton, A Critical Study" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home