Skip to main content

Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

See other formats

18                            G.  K.   CHESTERTON
Austria against the Mohammedan menace.   The Sultan
boasts :
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains—in the mountains—and I know
The voice that shook our palaces four hundred years ago.
It is he that saith not * Kismet * ; it is he that knows not Fate :
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth.
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth !
Of course, Chesterton was —as he himself was always the
first to insist—above all 'a roaring journalist'. Careful,
polished, classical work was foreign to his nature—whether
in prose or verse, and therefore, if we take his collected
poems, we find that many pages are filled with verbal quips,
that are at the best amusing and at the worst hardly perhaps
worth preserving. But to say that his work is uneven is to
say something that could as well be said of almost all poets.
Of the rest there are the satirical poems of which the most
famous is that on the late Lord Birkenhead, entitled Anti-
Christ, or the Reunion of Christendom. Lord Birkenhead
(then Mr. F. E. Smith) had made a speech on the Welsh
Disestablishment Bill in which he had denounced it as ' a
Bill which has shocked the conscience of every Christian
community in Europe'. Chesterton thought this denun-
ciation on Smith's lips to be quite insincere and he asked in
bitter irony,
In the mountain hamlets clothing
Peaks beyond Caucasian pales
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?
* Hansard is, of course, the name given to the official report of the
debates of the House of Commons, and Dr. Clifford was a famous Non-
conformist divine of the day, a great opponent of the Welsh Establishment.