Skip to main content

Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

See other formats

6                              G.  K.  CHESTERTON
that war. Some supported it as vigorously as did the Con-
servatives. Others were opposed, but even among the
opponents opposition was for different reasons. There
were the pacifists who were opposed to this war because
they were opposed to all wars. But there were others—
among whom was Chesterton—who were by no means
generally pacifist, but who objected to this particular war
as an unjust war. Chesterton's liberalism was always a
liberalism of belief in small units. He hated imperialism
and large units and the uniformity which imperialism's
tyranny imposed upon people of different traditions. He
was in violent reaction against the popular imperialism of the
day, preached by Rudyard Kipling and Cecil Rhodes.
Later, and in a more light-hearted mood, he was to write
an extravaganza called The Napoleon of Netting Hill, in
which he imagines the growth of a passionate patriotism
among the citizens of the various boroughs of London and
the outbreak of war between them. Now in his youth, in
a more serious mood, he championed the cause of die South
African Republics. He was not content, like others, to
argue that the British Empire was wrong to fight the South
African Republics. He argued rather that the South
African Republics were right to fight the British Empire.
At the same time he had no sympathy with those who de-
cried the virtue of patriotism. For the British Empire as
such he cared little, but he championed as passionately the
right of an Englishman to love England as of a South African
to love South Africa.
These unpopular views he poured forth throughout the
war, first in the columns of a small weekly paper run by
himself and his friends, called The Speaker, and then in
those of one of the large London Liberal daily papers, the
Daily News.
At the same time he was making his first attacks on the
world as a poet. In 1900 he produced his first two books
of poems, Greybeards at Play and The White Knight. In
reaction against the dominant imperialism of the age, he