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Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

G.   K.   CHESTERTON                              21
Yet his St. Thomas is the last of Chesterton's connected
books, published in 1933, three years before his death in
1936. Eight years before his St. Thomas, he had published
what will perhaps remain the most central of his books,
The Everlasting Man. The Everlasting Man is, as it were, a
matured Orthodoxy. It falls into two parts. The first part
is concerned to argue that, so far from Man being merely a
cleverer port of animal, he is different in kind from other
animals. The second part is concerned to argue that, so far
from Christ being merely a very good man, he is different
in kind from other men.
The argument about the difference of men from animals
he bases mainly on art. Whether there was or was not a
special creation as a matter of biological history, he is not
concerned to argue. But, he says, one of the few things
that we know about the most primitive man was that he
drew—he drew on the walls of his cave. This constitutes
a difference in kind between man and the animals. For
the animals do not draw at all. There was no gradual
declension. It was not that Rembrandt drew well and the
Caveman less well and the laughing jackass and the blue-
faced baboon rather less well again. It was that Rembrandt
and the Caveman both drew and the jackass and the hyena
did not draw at all. The difference was a difference in kind.
But man with his art was also different in kind in a deeper
sense. To him alone there were things more valuable than
immediate victory and success, and long before the coming
of Christ he found this foreshadowing of the teaching of
Christ at the dawn of things in the great poetry of Homer.
But in this one great human relevation of antiquity there is
another element of great historical importance; which has hardly
I think been given its proper place in history. The poet has
so conceived the poem that his sympathies apparently, and
those of his reader certainly, are on the side of the vanquished
rather than of the victor. And this is a sentiment which in-
creases in the poetical tradition even as the poetical origin itself
recedes. AchiUes had some status as a sort of demigod in pagan,