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Full text of "Authordoxy : being a discursive examination of Mr. G. K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy""

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AUTHORDoxr 



AUTHORDOXY 
BEING A DISCURS,IVE EXAMINATION 
OF MR. G. !{. CHESTERTON'S "ORTHODOXY" 
I By I 
ALAN HANDSA CRE 
LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD 
NEW YORK: JOHN LANE CO
1PANY. MCMXXI 



The Mayflo'lver Press. Plymouth England. William Brendon & Son. Ltd. 



era MY WIFE 



PREI/ufCE 


HIS book is no more a serious exposi- 
tion of Rationalism than Mr. Chester- 
ton's Orthodoxy is a serious exposition 
of Christianity. What he has a ttem pted to do 
in that book is, he tells us, "in a vague and 
personal way . . . to state the philosophy in 
which I have come to believe." What I have 
attempted to do in this book-which was 
written during the war, and more because I 
felt inclined to write it than because I wanted 
to publish it-is to state by way of " a vague 
and personal" commentary on Mr. Chester- 
ton's volume why it has not converted me to 
his philosophy. 
Mr. Chesterton is all for the common people 
against the specialist. Well, I am one of the 
common people, and I have jotted down some 
of the things that have occurred to me in the 
course of reading his book. 


A. H. 


9 



CONTENTS 


Chapter Page 
PREFACE 9 
I. ON THE NEW ApOLOGIST . 15 
II. IN DEFENCE OF SOMETHING ELSE 25 
III. ON THE ROAD TO HANWELL 35 
IV. THE MURDER OF THOUGHT 4 6 
V. ON CASTLES IN THE AIR 55 
VI. THE FLAG OF THE OTHER WORLD 66 
VII. THE CHRISTIANITY OF PARADOXES 7 6 
VIII. THE ETERNAL REPETITION. 88 
IX. THE REALISM OF ORTHODOXY 99 
x. REASON AND THE MIS-ADVENTURER 10 9 


II 



AUTHORDoxr 



AUTHORDoxr 


CHAPTER I-On tlte New Apologist 


C HRISTIAN apologetics, strictly so 
called, appear to have gone out of 
fashion. It is the characteristic of 
new fashions that they are generally old 
fashions, and I am not without fear that we 
may presently witness a revival of tedious 
theological dialectics. But for the moment 
the clergy have handed over the defence of 
their professional interest to the journalists. 
I t is a shrewd move to have made, for it is the 
first business of a journalist to be interesting, 
and, if the new apologist is less erudite than 
his predecessor, he is a great deal more read- 
able. 
Further, the new apologist does battle in the 
open. This is a very great advantage. The 
pulpit is a coward's castle, in which a man is 
secure from refutation in the face of his hearers. 
Even when the parson ventures into print, it 
does not advantage us much. For his defence 
of religion will be read by persons who have 
15 



A 
tthordoxy 


never doubted it; and the criticisms of his 
thesis will mostly be read by persons who have 
already rejected it. But everyone-except 
Mr. Balfour-reads the newspapers, and, when 
religion is defended in their columns, and by a 
layman, we feel free to enter with becoming 
zest into the conflict. 
Mr. G. K. Chesterton is indubitably the 
chief of the journalistic apologists for Chris- 
tianity. The book which is examined in these 
pages may be regarded as a collected presenta- 
tion of the points that its author has dealt 
with in innumerable articles in the Press. 
Before dealing with that book in some detail, 
it may be well to try to form some estimate of 
Mr. Chesterton's general method. I shall 
state it in my own way, but I believe that it 
will be admitted to be stated fairly. 
The key-note of Mr. Chesterton's apologetic 
is Catholicism, but the key-note of his position 
is that he is not a Catholic in the only intelli- 
gible sense of that word. He would, I think, 
agree with Emerson that" the lesson of life is, 
practically to generalize, to believe what the 
years and the centuries say against the hours; 
16 



On the New Apologist 


to resist the usurpation of particulars; to 
penetra te to their catholic sense. " We shall 
see with what consistency Mr. Chesterton acts 
upon this soothing principle in his capacity as 
an apologist for Christianity. 
A Christian by profession, and a contro- 
versialist by nature as well as by habit, Mr. 
Chesterton could not have kept out of the 
fight for the faith. Seeing his religion in a 
rather bad way, not much impressed by the 
case being pu t up for it by other people, 
recognizing that it is possible to give people 
too much of a bad thing, he seems to have 
assured him
elf that this is no private fight, 
and, having done so, entered boisterously into 
the thick of it. 
But his methods of fighting are new, at all 
even ts to the theological arena. "Come on, 
me fine fellows," he seems to say, " let us walk 
as far as the Bull and Bush, drink a pint of ale, 
and look into these matters." It cannot be 
disputed that this is a more attractive invi- 
tation than the announcement that the vicar 
will preach on a forthcoming Sunday on the 
fallacies of modern unbelief! 


B 


17 



A uthordoxy 


If we accompany Mr. Chesterton, we shall 
have a very good time. But, unless we are 
very dense, we shall not have walked far with 
him before we discover what he is at. It is 
something very like the confidence trick. He 
knows all about us before he issues his invita- 
tion. He does not know much about our 
definite opinions, but he has taken care to 
ascertain our pet aversions, and little odds and 
ends of information about us that will enable 
him to appear quite at home with our point 
of view. He discovers, for example, that I 
have a notion that Christianity is repressive, 
that it lacks humanism, that it prefers to pre- 
pare for the joys of what seems to me a very 
disagreeable place called heaven rather than to 
delight in the solid happiness of human life. 
Knowing this, he gains my confidence at once 
by his exuberant cheerfulness and hospitality. 
Then his scheme is to turn the tables on me. 
He will try to convince me that the real kill- 
joy is the unbeliever; that the deadly, seriöus 
people who never do silly things are the readers 
of the Freethinker; and that the Christian is 
the jolliest chap in the world. 
18 



On the New Apologist 


Now there is a fatal delusion at the back of 
this method of apologetics. It supposes that 
a man cannot believe in facts without believing 
in fads. It takes it for granted that to be critical 
is to be cranky, and that to be a materialist is 
to be miser a ble. I t is only the person who 
does not detect these somewhat obtrusive 
assumptions that will be misled by Mr. 
Chesterton's genial enthusiasm for the Chris- 
tian f ai the The un believers, according to 
him, are 


". . . them that do not have the faith, 
And will not have the fun." 


They are, literally, of the company to which 
Mr. Chesterton, for all his rollicking, pro- 
fesses to belong-" miserable sinners." Says 
he: 


" If I had been a Heathen, 
I'd have crowned Neæra's curls, 
And filled my life with love affairs, 
My house with dancing girls; 
But Higgins is a Heathen, 
And to lecture rooms is forced, 
Where his aunts, who are not married, 
Demand to be divorced." 


19 



A uthordoxy 


Personally I have never met a Rationalist 
like this Higgins-I know many Christians who 
might be mistaken for him-but I have no 
dou bt that he exists. There are extraordinary 
Ra tionalists like Higgins, just as there are 
extraordinary Christians like Chesterton. No 
one but Mr. Chesterton himself, however, 
would perpetrate the assertion that there are 
some four hundred millions of people in this 
world of whom he is a typical specimen. 
I t is clear that Mr. Chesterton cannot resist 
the "usurpation of particulars." He is a 
Christian, he likes beer; therefore, it is 
Christian to like beer. Higgins is an Agnostic, 
he has maiden a un ts of advanced opinions; 
therefore, it is Agnosticism to have maiden 
a un ts of advanced opinions! Of course there 
is nothing particularly Christian in being fond 
of beer. I am very fond of it myself. And 
there is nothing essentially rationalistic in 
being dragged to lectures by one's aunts. 
But it is part of Mr. Chesterton's plan of 
campaign to make a rule of the exceptions. 
I might state the case the other way 
round : 


20 



On the New Apologist 


I f I had been a Christian, 
And never had a dOll bt, 
I'd have longed to get to heaven 
And find its glory out; 
But Higgins is a Christian, 
And whenever he is ill, 
He rushes to the doctor- 
To be kept in N otting Hill. 


This is quite as worthless as an attack on 
Christianity as is Mr. Chesterton's rhyme as 
an attack on Rationalism. They both dodge 
the real issue, but, if I may be allowed to say 
so, I think Mr. Chesterton's rhyme the more 
unreasonable of the two. It is not so absurd 
to think that Christians ought not to fear 
death as to think that non-Christians are poor, 
misera ble creatures tied to the apron-strings 
of their aunts. The basis of l\1r. Chesterton's 
apologetic is, however, more than an assump- 
tion: it is a slander. 
The old-fashioned apologist - like Dr. 
Torrey-drew a lurid picture of the infidel 
screaming for mercy on his death-bed, and 
suggested that, if you had a Rationalist in the 
house, you would be well advised to lock up 
your silver. The unbeliever was represented 
ZI 



A uthordoxy 


by him as of necessity a depraved character. 
Now Mr. Chesterton serves up this grotesque 
libel in a less repulsive fashion. The verse 
which I have quoted above from his" Song of 
the Strange Ascetic," if it means anything, 
means this: that unbelief involves loss of 
moral balance, looseness in the sexual relation, 
and the selfish pursuit of personal pleasure. 
If these things do characterize the Rationalist, 
they are evidences of the evils of un belief. If 
they do not characterize them, their absence 
is also evidence of the evil of un belief! This 
is typically Chestertonian and totally irrational. 
If Mr. Chesterton will make out a list of the 
people who during the last century or so have 
been working to uplift and brighten the lives 
of the people of England, he will find that the 
unbelievers are in a majority, and he will find 
that the attitude of the believers to their 
efforts might be expressed by a parody of his 
lines that I have quoted above: 


". . . them that will not have the faith, 
Shall never have the fun." 


Also he will discover by a reference to criminal 
22 



On the New A1Jologist 


statistics that most of the people in prisons are 
believers. The superior altruism and morality 
of the Christian is a delusion. And, if it be 
answered that the Christian who is a criminal 
is not a Christian, it may suffice to reply 
that the Rationalist who is a roué is not a 
Rationalist. 
To sum up this introductory chapter, Mr. 
Chesterton is a logician who endeavours to 
obscure the falsity of his premises by the 
extreme logicality of his arguments in their 
support. He uses all his reasoning faculties to 
prevent reasoning. "The road to hell is paved 
with good intentions," says the proverb, but, 
as a modern politician has remarked, the beauty 
of the pavement does not improve the destina- 
tion. It is not difficult to defend orthodoxy, 
provided that you are not concerned a bou t the 
consistency of the various parts of your defence 
with each other. But the brilliance of your 
inconsistency does not make it consistent. 
Mr. Chesterton, who has said most things, 
has said that to level against him the accusation 
of brilliance is the last refuge of his critics " in 
the final ecstasy of their anger." W ell, I am 
23 



A uthordoxy 


not angry, and I say that, if the arguments of 
Mr. Chesterton were put as crudely as they 
are, in fact, put brilliantly, they would be 
laughed out of court. As it is they are not 
infrequently laughed into court. 


24 



CHAPTER II-In Defence of Something 
Else 


T HE first chapter of Orthodoxy is 
entitled" In Defence of Everything 
Else." I t suggests that the author 
had an uneasy notion that the reader might 
rise from a perusal of his book with the im- 
pression that it stands in more need of a 
defence than the theory it expounds-if, 
indeed, it expounds any theory at all. As a 
matter of fact, the only person who would 
require a defence from Mr. Chesterton for any 
book of his is the person who would not read 
l\1r. Chesterton's defence of it if he wrote it. 
:For most of us it does not in the least matter 
what Mr. Chesterton means, for we are enter- 
tained beyond measure by what he says. 
Mr. Chesterton begins at the beginning. 
He also finishes at the beginning, as we shall 
presently observe. He begins by eXplaining 
how Orthodoxy came to be written. It seems 
that Mr. G. S. Street, in reviewing another 
book of Mr. Chesterton's, said: "I will begin 
25 



A uthordoxy 


to worry about my philosphy when Mr. 
Chesterton has given us his." By that remark 
Mr. Street" inspired and created this book." 
In the next chapter we are given another 
account of the origin of the volume before 
us. I ts author was taking a walk with a pros- 
perous publisher, and that gentleman said of 
somebody: "That man will get on; he believes 
in himself." The author thereupon had an 
argumen t wi th the publisher, arising from 
this remark-it will be examined in the next 
chapter-and the publisher wound up by 
asking: " Well, if a man is not to believe in 
himself, in what is he to believe?" To which 
IVIr. Chesterton replied, "I will go home and 
write a book in answer to that question." 
And, he tells us, "This is the book that I have 
written in answer to it." 
The author of a book ought to know by 
whom or by what it was inspired. Mr. 
Chesterton is the author of Orthodoxy, and he 
has two opinions on the matter of its inspira- 
tion. There is a certain consistency in this, 
for he has two, or more, opinions on most 
things. Weare left in a little doubt, however, 
26 



In Defence of Sometl
ing Else 


as to \vhether this book was written to explain 
l\1r. Chesterton's philosophy or to prove that 
men should not believe in themselves. Unless 
as I think there are some grounds for believing, 
Mr. Chesterton's philosophy is that men 
should not believe in themselves. 
The first achievement of the creed or philo- 
sophy called" Orthodoxy" is, our author tells 
us, that it enables him" to be at home in the 
world and yet astonished at it . . . to combine 
an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome . . . 
to be happy in this wonderland without once 
being merely comfortable." 
I t is very true that it is desirable to regard 
life as an adventure, and that it is not desir- 
able to get into a rut. But that is precisely 
what Mr. Chesterton has done. Only he 
a ppears to be under the impression that to 
wriggle about fantastically in a rut is the same 
thing as to get out of a rut. He wants to 
make out that the agnostic is a stick-in-the- 
mud, and he does it by proving as conclusively 
as he proves anything that he is a stick-in-the- 
mud himself. For, while most people who 
discovered themselves to be stuck in the mud 
27 



A uthordoxy 


would regard it as a very pleasant thing to get 
clear of it, Mr. Chesterton seems to think it 
a great achievement to have thought about 
getting out of it, and a greater to have re- 
mained more firmly fixed in it than ever. He 
says: "What can be more glorious than to 
brace oneself up to discover New South Wales 
and then to realize, with a gush of happy 
tears, that it was really old South Wales." 
This seems to mean that the delight of life 
consists more in the things we imagine than in 
the things we experience: that anticipation is 
better than realization, that the best way to 
enjoy something you want is not to get it. 
But, while it is true that many things fail to 
come up to our expectations of them, I am free 
to confess I have never found any delight in 
that circumstance. If I had prepared myself 
with some care for the beatific vision of the 
New Jerusalem, I do not think I should be 
moved to " a gush of happy tears" to find it 
was Old Jewry. Serious as the consequences 
may be for Mr. Chesterton's dialectic, it must 
be admitted that it is impossible for a man to 
be abroad and at home at the same time. It 
28 



In Defence of Something Else 


is impossible to perceive any object in a man 
bracing himself up to discover Sydney who has 
no intention of putting a foot outside Swansea. 
Nor is it at all clear why any man should be 
moved to tears by the discovery that if he does 
not shift his position he will remain standing 
where he is. 
I t is the main fallacy, as it is the first con- 
tention, of Mr. Chesterton's view that a man 
may have his cake and eat it too: that he may 
enjoy the pleasures of feasting and the satis- 
faction of fasting at one and the same moment. 
The thing cannot be done, and that is all there 
is to be said about it. 
The combination of astonishment at the 
world and a sense of being at home in it is a 
strictly rational combination. The more we 
are at home in the world, and the more we 
know of its territories and of its people, the 
more astonished we become at it. But there 
are some people with whom one cannot feel 
" at home." And there are some places in 
which one cannot feel "at home." For 
example, I doubt if Mr. Chesterton would feel 
at home in the Rhondda Valley. If he were 
29 



A uthordoxy 


to go and live there for a month, instead of 
sustaining a " gush of happy tears" because 
it is really old South Wales, he would shed 
bitter tears of indignation because it is not 
New South Wales. It is possible to find 
enough of glad and sad surprise, of adventure, 
of novelty, of mental and moral stimulus in 
the things of every day, if only we will avoid 
the notion that things are exciting in propor- 
tion as they are remote or incomprehensible. 
It is the Christian who says: 
" I'm but a stranger here, 
Heaven is my home," 


and misses all the fun of his temporary lodgings 
in unprofitable speculation and dreaming as to 
the character of the mansion that he is going 
to move into by and by. 
It is the Rationalist who says that the earth 
is the only home that he knows of for mankind, 
and proceeds to try to make it as comfortable 
and as inspiring a dwelling-place as possible for 
himself and for those who are to follow him. 
The Christian resigns himself to this life 
because of his anticipation of another. He 
has, he thinks, "a mansion in the sky," and 
3 0 



In Defence of Sometl
in!J Else 


that will compensate him for a third-floor 
back in the Mile End Road. The Rationalist 
does not resign himself to this life because he 
does not see any grounds for anticipating 
another. He is discontented with the l\1ile 
End Road just beca use he does not believe 
himself to be heir to any mansion-in the sky 
or anywhere else. And discontent is the begin- 
ning of adventure, as it is also the secret of 
being "at home." I t is the man who is 
possessed of a comfortable home who spends 
his evenings at the Club. And, generally 
speaking, the more uncomfortable a man's 
home is the more time he spends in it. 
Thus does he learn that a home is not a 
thing that depends on the size of rooms and 
the quality of furniture for its existence, but 
on that affection the lack of which makes the 
mansion tawdry for all its elegance, and the 
garret glorious for all its poverty. l\1r. 
Chesterton manages to endure home by dream- 
ing of New South \tV ales, and by bracing him- 
self up to discover a Brighton that doesn't 
exist, with the Pavilion as a barbaric temple; 
but the happy man who does not mistake an 
3 1 



A uthordoxy 


illusion for an ideal is content to have dis- 
covered home. For him it is enough that 
centuries of struggle have gone to give him the 
ideal of home which he may possess in his 
imagination, and the, probably, second-rate 
little shanty that he may possess in fact. It is 
his life's adventure to reach the ideal, and he 
is nerved for that adventure by the real. 
While Mr. Chesterton is never at home except 
when he is abroad, the Rationalist is never 
abroad except when he is at home. 
In a typical gibe at modern thought, Mr. 
Chesterton says: "I did, like all other solemn 
little boys, try to be in advance of my age. 
Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in 
advance of truth. And I found that I was 
eighteen hundred years behind it." I do not 
understand what is meant by being ten 
minutes in advance of truth. These solemn 
little boys who are supposed to entertain that 
absurd ambition may have been the sole com- 
panions of l\lr. Chesterton's youth-in which 
case I can comprehend his queer notions about 
lunatics-but most of us have been more 
fortunate. We discovered that what we re- 
3 2 



In Defence of S01nething Else 


garded as truth was about eighteen hundred 
years behind it, and we are finding no end of 
sport in trying to make up for lost time. IV1r. 
Chesterton seems to find great glee in the fact 
that he does not recognize that any time has 
been lost. 
There is only one way that I know of meet- 
ing the argument that romance is reaction, 
which is the argument of the book in hand. 
I t is to prove that progress is a romance, and 
that it is precisely what is proved by the whole 
life of the world as we see it. Ideals begin in 
realities. Progress is the name given to the 
process of making ideals materialistic realities. 
When a young man falls in love, he rises in 
character and capacity. What was a vague 
dream becomes an obj ect of personal and 
enobling desire. The most ordinary and un- 
imagina ti ve creatures will do the most heroic 
things under the inspiration of the most tender 
and terrible of all human emotions. And if 
you were to ask one of them what moved him 
from being a hand in a pickle factory to be- 
come a poet, or a philosopher, or a politician, 
or even a preacher, he will not tell you it was 
c 33 



A uthordoxy 


God. He will tell you it was a girl.. And he 
will tell you the truth. Men have done great 
things for what they believed to be the honour 
and glory of God from purely human motives. 
But men have never done anything for the 
honour and glory of mankind from purely 
supernatural motives. For the ideal-which 
men call God-has its birth in the reality called 
humanity. 


34 



CHAPTER III-On the Road to Hanwell 


I T happened, by one of those coincidences 
tha t occur in fiction and in the serious 
works of IVir. Chesterton, that as the 
prosperous publisher asked what a man is to 
believe in, if he cannot believe in himself, Mr. 
Chesterton looked up and caught sight of an 
omnibus going to-Hanwell! "The men who 
really believe in themselves," he said, "are 
all in lunatic asylums." And so it comes to 
pass that the second chapter of this book in 
defence of orthodoxy is entitled "The 
l\1aniac." 
The argumen t of this cha pter is this: 
" Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly 
what does breed insanity is reason." Sanity is 
the badge of orthodoxy. Insanity is the mark 
of the heterodox. 
There is a sense in which heterodoxy is like 
insanity: it is an abnormal condition of mind. 
But it is just the fallacy of such picturesque 
analogies as Mr. Chesterton loves to draw that 
35 



A uthordoxy 


they are utterly superficial. Take this case. 
Heterodoxy is abnormal, and insanity is ab- 
normal. But a giant is abnormal, and so is a 
freak. Indeed, in the side-shows a giant is 
sometimes classed with the freaks. But Mr. 
Chesterton must not tell me that to have an 
abnormally developed physique is the same 
thing as to have two heads, or a pig's face, or a 
body minus arms and legs. One is an abnormal 
development along healthy lines; the other is a 
deformity, a repellent and hideous monstrosity. 
The difference between my friend O'Riordan 
-the giant of the Irish Guards-and the Pig- 
faced Man is the difference between heterodoxy 
and insanity. 
In order to make out his case that the men 
who really believe in themselves are all in 
lunatic asylums, Mr. Chesterton proceeds to 
deal with certain cases of delusional insanity 
by way of illustration. Other forms of mental 
aberration lend themselves less effectively to 
the needs of the argument. 
When it is stated in plain terms that reason 
is the thing that breeds insanity, the average 
3 6 



On the Road to IIanwell 


man rubs his eyes and wonders if he has seen 
correctly the words before him. He has heard 
of " religious mania," but he has never heard 
before of the madness of being too sane. 
Moreover, not being quite so easily convinced 
as IVIr. Chesterton would like to think he is, 
the average man will detect the fallacy of this 
assertion with very little effort. To say that 
it is reason that breeds insanity is the same as 
to say that it is the heart that breeds heart 
disease and that "exactly what does cause 
blindness is the sight." I t is clear that a man 
cannot lose his reason who has no reason, just 
as it is clear that a man cannot suffer from 
hæmorrhage of the nose who has no nose. 
The distinction between reason and imagina- 
tion-as if imagination were unreasoning-is, 
in this connection, equally wide of the mark. 
l\1r. Chesterton says that poets do not go mad 
but mathematicians do. The fact is that the 
rational conduct of mental processes is the 
safeguard of sanity. The poet who goes mad 
is the poet who treats poetry as mathematics. 
The mathematician who goes mad is the 
37 



A uthordoxy 


mathematician who treats mathematics as 
poetry. The religious maniac is a person who 
tries to treat religion as a matter of reasoning. 
And the only a theist I ever heard of as a 
madman was an atheist who attempted to 
trea t a theism as a religion. 
Let us look at this proposition that "the 
men who really believe in themselves are all 
in lunatic asylums" again. 
On the face of it, it looks to me as if a man 
who believes he is a poached egg does not 
believe in himself. If he did, he would request 
somebody to eat him before he got cold. 
Going beneath the surface, it is as plain as 
anything can be that the one creed that the 
lunatic does not hold is belief in himself. 
We may take the cases of delusional insanity 
to which Mr. Chesterton refers. There is the 
man who thinks he is the rightful King of 
England. It would probably be found, if we 
could refer to the medical history sheet of this 
unfortunate gentleman, that he began as a 
member of the Thames Valley Legitimist 
Club. He thought the reigning monarch 
3 8 



On tlte Road to Hanwell 


destitute of title; he gave himself to the cult 
of the doctrine of hereditary right in monarchy; 
he paid no a tten tion to the great movements 
of citizenship; and, in course of time, he fell 
under the delusion of his own kingship. From 
first to last the one person in whom he had no 
confidence was himself. 
The Legitimists who believe in themselves 
as well as in the de jure monarch of England 
are not mad. I t is precisely the Legitimist 
who does not believe in himself who believes 
he is the King of England. Then there is the 
case of the man who thinks he is Jesus Christ. 
Here we may take a practical example. Some 
years ago the Rev. M. Smyth Pigott announced 
that he was Jesus Christ. If reliance can be 
placed on the testimony of men who knew 
him before the days of his delusion, this man 
is a typical case of delusional insanity, and 
a plain contradiction of Mr. Chesterton's 
theory. 
He began, this religious maniac, as many 
others have begun, with a blameless life, and a 
passionate devotion to Jesus Christ. I have 
39 



A uthordoxy 


met men who knew him at Cambridge, who 
knew him in the days of his Anglican ministry, 
and I quote the words of one of them as 
expressive of the opinion of them all: "Smyth 
Pigott," said an old, well balanced, and fer- 
vently pious rector of a Suffolk parish to me, 
"was the. most intensely spiritually minded 
man I ever knew." But he had one theme, 
the theme of all his preaching, all his devotion, 
all his meditation-the early and personal 
Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And so, by a 
process which can be verified in any work on 
delusional insanity, the concentration of his 
mind on one theme, to the exclusion of others 
that would have given it balance, ended in the 
assertion of his own Messiahshi p. I t was not 
belief in himself, but belief in Jesus Christ 
that drove him mad. 
The third case is that of a man who thinks 
all men are conspiring against him. Mr. 
Chesterton gives a graphic description of the 
sinister interpretation this man puts on the 
most simple acts. The whole world is full of 
snares set specially for him. He is, indeed, in 
4 0 



On the Road to Hanwell 


the frame of mind of the Christian poet, 
IVlontgomery, when he wrote: 
" 'Vhat is this world? A 'wildering maze, 
Where sin hath tracked ten thousand ways, 
Her victims to ensnare : 
All broad and leading and aslope, 
All tempting with perfidious hope, 
All ending in despair." 


That is the sort of stuff of which insanity is 
made. And the man who believes in it is the 
last man in this world who can be said to 
believe in himself. He believed in the indi- 
vidual who is the centre of the conspiracy of 
men and demons. But it is not himself that is 
the centre of any such conspiracy. The origin 
of this very common form of delusional in- 
sanity is generally that the victim has com- 
mitted, or thinks he has committed, some sin 
of awful consequence, and, giving up his mind 
to the thought of that offence, he comes in 
process of time to believe that he has com- 
mitted all the crimes in the calendar. Or, he 
has been tricked and cruelly wronged once; 
he gives his mind only to the wrong he has 
suffered, and comes to believe that the whole 
4 1 



A uthordoxy 


race of men exists to do him injury. Never 
for an instant does it occur to him that he is 
only Himself. 
The madman of experience "is commonly 
a reasoner, frequently a successful reasoner," 
says Mr. Chesterton. N ow the one thing a 
madman does not do is to reason. Given his 
premises-say that the world has nothing else 
to do but plot against him-he can argue in 
their support. But the world has a great deal 
too much to do to bother about the poor man 
at all. His premises are insane. What follows 
is not reason. It is delusion. If I wanted to 
use words as Mr. Chesterton uses them, I 
might say that it is imagination. Really it is 
no more imagination than it is reason. 
Mr. Chesterton might some day write that 
book about Brighton as a strange port on an 
island in the South Seas, and its Pavilion as a 
barbaric temple. If he did, it would be a 
work of imagination. But if it ever befell him 
to think that Brighton really is a barbaric 
place, and the Pavilion a heathen temple, that 
would not be imagination; it would be mad- 
4 2 



On the Road to Hanwell 


ness. And Mr. Chesterton will never go mad 
because he is not in the least danger of leaving 
off reasoning to avoid the madhouse. 
The ins ani ty of reasoning is, it seems, that 
it leaves nothing for wonder and for awe. 
" Mr. McCabe," says Mr. Chesterton, " under- 
stands everything, and everything does not 
seem worth understanding." This is typically 
inaccurate. l\1r. McCabe-or any other sincere 
Rationalist-will tell Mr. Chesterton that the 
first result of trying to understand the laws 
which govern the progress of the world is a 
consciousness of the vast tracts that remain 
uncharted and unknown. He will tell him 
that he finds the world full of wonder, that 
there is spread out before him more food for 
his imagination than he ever found in theology. 
He does not shut his eyes and dream of wonders 
that he cannot see. He opens his eyes and 
sees wonders of which he never dreamed. 
In short, it is not true that Rationalism 
cramps the imagination and drives men mad. 
It fires the imagination into rational activity 
and keeps men sane. 


43 



A uthordoxy 


Mr. Chesterton says: "It is the charge 
against the main deductions of the materialist 
that, right or wrong, they gradually destroy 
his humanity." If by a materialist here is 
meant a person without religious belief-the 
opposite of a supernaturalist-there could not 
be a more preposterous charge. The progress 
of more than a century refutes it. Did 
materialism involve the loss of his humanity 
in Holyoake? Has it distinguished the political 
and public career of Lord Morley that he lacks 
humanity? Is it not known to every man who 
has tried to do work for the benefit of his 
fellows that the moment he gets inside any 
humanitarian movement he discovers that its 
leading spirits are men and women animated 
by purely human motives, and working along 
secular lines, and that the religious people as a 
whole hold aloof ? 
Mr. Chesterton concludes this chapter with 
the assertion that "the one created thing 
which we cannot look at is the one thing in the 
light of which we look at everything." But it 
is not true that we cannot look at the sun. 


44 



On the Road to H anwell 


What is true is that, if we "vould look at the 
sun, we must shield the naked vision with 
smoked glasses. Mr. Chesterton hates the 
smoked glasses. He would prefer not to look, 
or-to take his chance of being blinded. And 
that is the distinction between the materialist 
and the mystic. 


45 



CHAPTER IV-The Murder of Thought 


T HE process that Mr. Chesterton 
describes in the third chapter of his 
defence of orthodoxy he calls "The 

uicide of Thought." Here is the key-note 
to this part of his argument: "A man was 
meant to be doubtful about himself, but un- 
doubting about the truth; this has been 
exactly reversed." 
Now, to begin with, I am not aware of any 
materialist who says that a man should be 
doubtful about the truth. If anyone were to 
tell Mr. McCabe that Mr. G. K. Chesterton 
is a dwarf, Mr. McCabe would not say that he 
was under a different impression, but that, of 
course, he might be wrong. To talk about 
being "undoubting about the truth" is to 
beg the question at issue. That question is- 
what is truth? 
No materialist doubts the truth. But what 
materialists do doubt is that Mr. Chesterton 
and his friends have got hold of it all. After 
all, truth is not like a marble. You can't take 
4 6 



The AI urderr of Thought 


it up and put it in your pocket. Even the 
Catholic Church itself has had to devote great 
study to the science of casuistry; and, if Mr. 
Chesterton had read moral theology, he would 
know that it is often a mighty tricky business 
to determine whether a statement is true or 
false. So often it is neither, or both. The 
only standard of truth is knowledge. Also 
knowledge is the only test of falsehood. If I 
said that Nelson's column is in W oburn Square, 
I should lie, because I know that it is in 
Trafalgar Square. But if I hazarded a guess 
at its heigh t, knowing nothing a bou tits 
dimensions, whatever, no man could call me a 
liar if I were wrong, as I probably should be. 
If I go into an inn with Mr. Chesterton- 
which is one of the things I hope to do before 
I die-and I say that bitter beer is better than 
whisky, Mr. Chesterton would be the last man 
alive to call me a liar because he held whisky 
better than bitter beer. Then, if we got to 
argument-and we certainly should-and Mr. 
Chesterton said that he believed hell to be as 
real as Holborn Circus, I should say that I 
know Holborn Circus as a place where one 
47 



A ttthordoxy 


stands a good chance of being run over by a 
vehicle; but that I do not know hell, which is, 
I gather, a place where one has no chance 
whatever of getting a drink. I should not say 
that Mr. Chesterton was a liar because he said 
tha t hell was real. And he would not " call 
me another" because I said I knew nothing 
about the place. There can be no question of 
abstract truth or falsehood when the matter 
under discussion is a doubtful matter. And 
Mr. Chesterton, if he were offered the wealth 
of the world in return, could no more produce 
the Rationalist of whom he writes, who 
"doubts if he can ever learn," than I can 
produce evidence that there is no hell. All I 
can say is that there is evidence of the existence 
of all the places known to exist. Also I am free 
to say that I will believe in the possibility of 
the existence of other places if and when I am 
given reasonable grounds for that belief. But 
I decline to believe in hell simply because 
Mr. Chesterton and millions of other people 
believe in it. 
Mr. Chesterton's quarrel is much more with 
the man who doubts than with the man who dis- 
4 8 



The MU1rder of Thought 


believes. I think he would have more sympathy 
wi th the iconoclastic freethinker who is alleged 
-I believe on very questionable authority 
-to have invited the Almighty to strike him 
dead within five minutes and awaited the result 
watch in hand, than with the sincere man who, 
having been born and brought up a Christian, 
finds it impossible to believe in the dogmas of 
the Church. 
The thing that Mr. Chesterton cannot stand 
is the open mind. He doesn't appear to care a 
fig whether he is the judge on the bench or 
the prisoner at the bar, so long as he is not 
asked to serve on the jury. "At any street 
corner," he says, "we may meet a man who 
utters the frantic and blasphemous statement 
that he may be wrong." And yet, if this book 
of his has any serious controversial purpose, 
the author must have written it to appeal to 
that very class of men-the men who admit 
that they may be wrong. 
You have only to turn this hatred of the 
open mind the other way round, and look at it 
in its positive aspect, and you will see what it 
involves. It involves that every man shall say 
D 4-9 



A uthordoxy 


he knows he is right. And there is an end of 
the controversial exercise that is dear to Mr. 
Chesterton. 
The modesty of modern thought upsets 
Mr. Chesterton quite as much as its pride. 
But he takes care to confine himself pretty 
much to what he thinks are the results of this 
modesty, and not to bother very much about 
its raison d'être. He is like a man whose child 
returned one day from school with scarlet 
fever which the fond parent attributed to bad 
drains. He set to work at once to have the 
drains, which were quite in order, attended to, 
and, when he had the foundations of his house 
out of course, discovered that there was an 
epidemic at the school. 
How much time and trouble and inconveni- 
ence to himself and other people would he have 
saved if he had inquired first as to the probable 
cause of his child's illness. 
It is Mr. Chesterton's habit to go to work 
on equally hasty ass urn ptions. And one is 
tempted to wonder whether he is afraid that, 
if he made more careful inquiry, he would 
change his mind. 


50 



The .Jfurder of Thou,qht 


" In so far as religion has gone, reason is 
going," says Mr. Chesterton. He proceeds to 
support this assertion by taking a rapid 
run "through the chief modern fashions of 
thought." We will run over the same ground. 
The error of materialism, we are told, is 
tha tit is mechanical. And," if the mind is 
mechanical, thought cannot be very exciting." 
Why? There is in a book to which Mr. 
Chesterton attaches some authority a passage 
which runs something like this: "While the 
earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, 
summer and winter, snow and heat, shall not 
cease." This looks very like the mechanism of 
the seasons. And if the seasons are mechanical, 
summer cannot be very beautiful! That 
seems to be the end of Mr. Chesterton's argu- 
ment. But who save the apologist with some 
special ends of his own to look after will con- 
fuse such mechanism with monotony? 
Next we have the" attack on thought urged 
by Mr. H. G. Wells when he insists that every 
separate thing is 'unique,' and there are no 
categories at all." 
I do not pretend to know exactly where this 
51 



A uthordoxy 


doctrine of Mr. Wells is expounded. But the 
contribution it brings to modern thought is 
that it enables us to realize that categories are 
working instruments and not things of value 
in themselves. It enables us to recognize, for 
example, that, although Mr. Chesterton is in 
the category called Christians, and holds the 
faith common to them all, they by no means 
all hold the faith peculiar to himself. The 
most characteristic thing about any category 
is the way it fails to include all it was intended 
to include. For want of more room a lot gets 
stuffed into it that it is not strictly speaking 
entitled to hold, and this lot juts out. Mr. 
\Vells points out to us the people and the things 
that jut out, and it is really very difficult to see 
how this is an attack on thought. A man is a 
man all the world over. Yet there are no two 
men alike. 
Mr. Chesterton's next anathema is against 
" the false theory of progress which maintains 
that we alter the test, instead of trying to pass 
the test." As to this, it is best to take an 
actual example. Belief in God used to be the 
test of a man's veracity in the courts. Now, 
52 



The .M1trder of Thought 


as he pleases, he can affirm, instead of swearing 
" by Almighty God." We have altered the 
test just because we have passed it. 
There is a good deal more in this chapter 
which I, being an unlearned person, shall not 
follow with a detailed reply. Bernard Shaw 
and Nietzsche and Renan and Tolstoy, and al] 
the things they have done to the men of our 
time-all this is set out in the pages that wind 
up this part of the book. And the moral of it 
all is, according to our author, that" in so far 
as religion has gone, reason is going." And 
the proof? Tha t there is more reasoning in 
the world to-day than ever before. I t is like 
Mr. Chesterton to set out to convince us that 
reason is going-and to do it by proving that 
reason has come. 
F or there is in all these efforts of the human 
mind to comprehend the riddle of the universe 
some element of truth. That element is the 
answer to all this pother about reason driving 
men mad. Better the madness of Tolstoy than 
the sanity of Torquemada. Better the sane 
insanity of a Robert Owen than the insane 
sanity of the gospel which, acting on the 
53 



A uthordoxy 


principles Mr. Chesterton admires, sought to 
block his path as it has attempted to block the 
path of every man who has thought more of 
the salvation of the poor crushed bodies of 
humanity than of the" salvation" of his own 
soul. 
It is too late in the day to frighten us with 
the bugbear of Reason. We are entering upon 
the age of Reason, and, although we have not 
yet lived very long under the new dispensation, 
we invite a comparison of the Europe of to-day 
with the Europe of the ages of faith, and we 
have no fear of the result. 


54 



CHAPTER V-On Castles in the Air 


T HERE is a whimsical charm about the 
next chapter of Orthodoxy, which is 
en ti tIed "The Ethics of Elfland." 
The argument of the chapter, if, indeed, there 
is any argument in it, seems to be this: Mr. 
Chesterton is not Mr. Chesterton. Mr. 
Chesterton is Peter Pan. He is the boy that 
has never grown up, and his main hope is that 
he never will. 
I always thought of Peter Pan with unmixed 
delight until I read Mr. Chesterton's all too 
gra phic description of the sort of man a man 
who has never left off being a boy really is. 
Now it occurs to me that the main joy of being 
a boy is that one does not remain a boy for ever. 
It is a sad thing to assert, but I fear it is the 
truth that Mr. Chesterton is in violent anta- 
gonism to St. Paul. "When I became a man, 
I put away childish things," said St. Paul. 
"All the worse for you, poor man," Mr. 
Chesterton replies. 
l\lr. Chesterton says: "I have not lost my 
55 



A uthordoæy 


ideals in the least." The wild hopes of childish 
imagination still fill his soul. Ah! but what 
a bou t the sense of their reality. The ideals of 
the child are not ideals. They are realities. 
And, alas, the realities of manhood are often 
very remote from ideals. 
I remember reading a not very brilliant poem 
written, I should think, by a young man in the 
early days of his disillusionment. It describes 
a visit to the country, and a meeting with a 
village girl he had loved as a boy : 


" She still is there-again I saw 
Her standing at the cottage door, 
And could but hang my head and think 
That I am worthy her no more." 


He proceeds to contrast the simple purity of 
the life she has lived in the village 


"secure . . . 
From the dread IDa ul of urban vice; " 


with the manhood that has lost its buoyancy 
with its boyhood, and he concludes: 


"This world has made me what I am, 
Its taint upon me must abide: 
I wish I were a child again 
Whene'er I see the countryside." 
56 



On Oastles in the Air 


This is not, as I have said, at all brilliantly 
expressed, but it describes a very common 
mental experience. For good or evil-for evil 
Mr. Chesterton rather surprisingly seems to 
think-we grow up. It is a fine thing if we 
can carryover the ideals of childhood, the 
dreams of youth, in to the more placid years 
of ma turi ty. But those ideals and dreams are 
not maturity, which is what Mr. Chesterton 
seems to take them for. 
There comes a time when we find out Santa 
Claus. He was a delightful old gentleman who 
came down the chimney on Christmas Eve to 
fill our stockings with presents. """e loved him 
because he gave us things. We did not love 
him a part from his gifts, for a part from his 
gifts we knew nothing about him. And then, 
one Christmas Eve, we found out that the name 
of Santa Claus is Father and Mother. Mr. 
Chesterton thinks this discovery a calamity. 
To find out things is to lose them if he is right. 
It seems to me that we never really find Santa 
Claus until we find him out. Then we know 
that gifts do not come inscrutably out of 
heaven in a bag on the back of an old man of 
57 



A uthordoxy 


vague identity, but that they come from shops, 
and have to be paid for with money that has 
to be worked for, and that might have been 
spent on the people who worked for it. We 
learn that benevolence is not a shadowy god- 
father who comes down the chimney, but a 
substantial father who comes up the stairs. 
We never felt any real gratitude to Santa 
Claus, because it seemed there was nothing to 
prevent him getting as many toys and sweet- 
meats as he wanted for all the boys and girls 
in the world. But we are grateful to Father, 
because we heard him telling that" things will 
be pretty bad this Christmas, but, whatever 
else goes, the kiddies must have a good 
time. " 
We thought that the gifts of Christmas 
were miraculous. We discover them to be 
paternal. We thought our benefactor, having 
left his gifts, departed into space, or into 
heaven, until next Christmas. We find he 
went no farther than the kitchen, where he sat 
smoking his pipe, and, with Mother's hand in 
his, discussing how much would have to be 
knocked of the little sums they spent upon 
58 



On Oastles in the Air 


themselves because the kiddies had to be given 
a good time. 
I am sure if ever I had met Santa Claus on 
Christmas morning I should have asked for 
something more or something different from 
his inexhaustible stock. But I know that, when 
I met my father on the morning after I dis- 
oovered his name was Santa Claus, there was 
more in the kiss I gave him than in any I had 
given him before. 
Mr. Chesterton says: "When the business 
man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is 
commonly in some such speech as this: 'Ah, 
yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in 
the abstract and these castles in the air; but 
in middle age they all break up like clouds, and 
one comes down to a belief in practical politics, 
to using the machinery one has and getting on 
with the world as it is." 
I t may be there are business men who talk 
thus to their office-boys. I never met one of 
them. It is certainly true that some such 
statements as these are often made when 
experience meets impatience. But they do 
not of necessity bear the somewhat sinister 
59 



A uthordoxy 


significance that Mr. Chesterton bestows upon 
them. 
To come down to "using the machinery 
one has and getting on with the world as it is " 
is not the same thing as coming to regard that 
machinery as incapable of improvement and 
the world as incapable of being other than it is. 
There is no use in a boy cherishing the abstract 
ideal of writing plays like Shakespeare, or 
clever books like Mr. Chesterton, if he will not 
settle down to learn English. The only people 
who improve the state of practical politics are 
people who believe in practical politics. 
Mr. Chesterton's own phrase, unwittingly 
no doubt, is fatal to his own argument. He 
says, "in middle age they "-ideals-" all break 
up like clouds." Yes. And, when the clouds 
break, there is rain. And the rain makes the 
flowers grow, and cleanses the atmosphere, and 
washes out the gutters. 
Mr. Chesterton writes of " a certain way of 
looking at life, which was created in me by the 
fairy tales, but has since been meekly ratified 
by the mere facts." In so far as he gives us 
any actual exam pIes of these processes of 
60 



On Oastles in the A i'J
 


creation and ratification, he makes it plain that 
the benefit he derived from fairy tales was 
that they taught him certain things which are 
not fairy tales but facts. He got from Jack 
the Giant Killer the notion of " manly mutiny 
against pride as such." He got from Cinderella 
the lesson "of the Magnificat-exaltavit 
humiles." He did not get from fairy tales a 
belief in fairy tales. He got from fairy tales 
a belief in facts. He does not believe that 
coaches can be made out of pumpkins, but 
he does believe that the miserable can be made 
happy. 
The ethics of Elfland turn out, after all, to 
be the ethics of earth. Wi th a good deal that 
Mr. Chesterton writes about magic and spells 
and enchantments it is quite impossible to 
argue. When a man says that " a tree grows 
fruit because it is a magic tree," he puts him- 
self beyond the reach of any argument that 
one could use. Presumably a man has children 
because he is a magic man, or writes books 
because he is a magic man, or does any creative 
act because he is a magic man. This is sup- 
posed to prove that there is no such thing as 
61 



A uthordoxy 


unalterable law. If it were true, it would only 
prove that there is an unalterable law named 
. 
magIc. 
" It is no argument for unalterable law (as 
Huxley fancied) that we count on the ordinary 
course of things. We do not count on it. We 
bet on it." In this statement, as in so 
many other of his statements, Mr. Chesterton 
attempts to be impressive by being imperti- 
nent. For we do count on the ordinary course 
of things. 
Again and again in this book of his Mr. 
Chesterton confuses the issue by mere wealth 
of analogy and recklessness of assertion. " You 
cannot imagine two and one not making three. 
But you can easily imagine trees not growing 
fruit; you can imagine them growing golden 
candlesticks. " 
That fruit trees sometimes do not grow fruit 
is not a matter of imagination at all. I t is a 
matter of fact. And, if you have a fruit tree 
that does not bear, your gardener will in- 
variably be able to tell you why. Mr. Chester- 
ton might in a speculative mood have a bet 
with me that a cherry tree of mine will not 
62 



On Castles in the Air 


grow cherries. But he would not have a bet 
with me that it will grow candlesticks. 
There is a similar confusion and a similar 
irresponsibility of phrase all through this book, 
but especially all through this chapter of it. 
Having told us that he learned from Jack the 
Giant Killer that" the rebel is older than all 
the kingdoms," Mr. Chesterton tells us a few 
pages later that" I never could join the young 
men of my time in feeling what they called 
the general sentiment of revolt." 
This inability arose from the fact that he 
" did not feel disposed to resist any rule merely 
because it was mysterious." 
I do not know who these young men of 1\1r. 
Chesterton's time were, but I should like to 
hear of the man among them who proposed to 
resist a rule" merely because it was mysterious." 
I would undertake to bet 1\1r. Chesterton any 
odds that what these young men of his time 
objected to was being called upon to accept 
any rule" merely because it was mysterious." 
They claimed the right to examine the rules 
to see that they made for what is called" play- 
ing the game." And if they came upon a rule 
63 



A uthordoxy 


which looked as if it was put in to give some 
one an unfair advantage, they did not see that 
it was an incontestible argument for its reten- 
tion, that it always appeared to have been there, 
and that nobody knew who put it there. 
Nobody questions the rule that a man must 
eat. But many people question the rule that 
he must eat flesh. I do not sympathize with 
these people, mainly because they mostly look 
so ostentatiously in need of sympathy. But I 
recognize that it is one thing to say a man 
must eat to live, and quite another to say he 
must eat flesh to live well. 
The " general sentiment of revolt" which 
characterizes our time might more accurately 
be called the general demand for inquiry. 
And, if it be true that a man "cannot by 
searching find out God," it is also true that 
he can by searching find out that he cannot 
find him. 
The one thing that Mr. Chesterton never 
faces in this book is the situation that arises 
when one comes to deal with those parts of the 
fairy tales that are fairy tales. He shirks the 
question of what is to be done when the part 
64 



On Castles in the Air 


of a fairy tale that is a fairy tale comes into 
violen t collision with the part of a fairy tale 
that is a fact. It does not meet the needs of the 
case to deny the collision, for the collision was 
the real cause of Mr. Chesterton's book. 
He tells us why he believes in fairy tales. 
He also tells us when he believes in facts. It is 
when they do not contradict fairy tales. 


E 


65 



CHAPTER VI-The Flag of the Othetp 
World 


M R. CHESTERTON proceeds, in a 
cha pter en ti tIed "The Flag of the 
World," to set out the view that 
our attitude to life can best be expressed" in 
terms of a kind of military loyalty." And this 
after he has told us in the previous chapter not 
to believe in "unalterable law." For once 
there is no parodox in the terms in which the 
author's attitude is expressed. For it is pre- 
cisely " a kind of military loyalty" that is the 
attitude of the Christian towards life. He is 
a person under orders, and the unalterable law 
of his existence is that he must obey. He must 
not question, or, if he does, he must keep his 
questioning to himself, and go on doing the 
thing the righteousness of which he questions 
until such time as he has made up his mind 
to face the penalties of revolt. And, when 
he does that, he will still be regarded as 
a soldier by the au thori ties, and they will 
keep on treating him as an insubordinate and 
66 



The Flag of the Other 1Vorld 


rebellious soldier as long as he lives, and- 
so they tell him-for ever and ever after- 
wards. 
But Mr. Chesterton has a genius for picking 
out the attractive part of unattractive things, 
and making them look as though they are not 
parts but the whole. Thus he tells us that the 
world" is the fortress of our family, with the 
flag flying on the turret," a very pretty, and, 
rightly understood, a very true notion. The 
trouble is that the Christian with his" military 
loyalty" persists in the assertion that the 
fortress, albeit the present home of the whole 
family of us, really belongs to his branch of the 
family; and that the flag, if things were as 
they should be, should not be the flag of the 
kingdom of man, but the flag of the regiment 
to which he belongs, and so should have a 
cross u pon it. 
The result of this is something like civil 
war. The fortress, at the very moment when 
it seems secure from external attack, is en- 
dangered by internal division. The flag, on 
the very day when it should be floating boldly 
67 



A Uth01 1O doxy 


in the breeze, is hauled down while an inquiry 
is held as to what right it had ever to have 
been run up. 
"Military loyalty" is the worst kind of 
loyalty there is, although, alas, we have not 
yet learned to recognize it as such. As these 
lines are being written, Europe is being 
deluged with the blood of the men she can 
least afford to lose, the young strong men, in 
order to save her from the domination of 
. mere" military loyalty" in the future. The 
only military loyalty that is worth a fig is not 
military loyalty. The loyalty of the soldiers 
of the Allies in this war is not, strictly speak- 
ing, military loyalty, although it can find no 
more effective expression than in military 
forms. The loyalty of the Prussian is military 
loyalty; and it is treachery to the welfare of 
the human family. A man who is compelled 
to fight may, no doubt, be as good a soldier as 
as a volunteer. But the essence of the only 
militarism that is not vile and demoralizing is 
voluntarism. And the essence of the militarism 
that is vile and demoralizing is compulsion. 
The" military loyalty" of which Mr. Chester- 
68 



The Flag of the Other W 01-ld 


ton writes will be found to belong to the latter 
class. Compulsion is its essence. 
Writing of the origins of morality, Mr. 
Chesterton says that men" did not cultivate 
cleanliness. They purified themselves for the 
altar, and found that they were clean." 
Leaving aside the question as to why they 
never felt any need of purifying themselves 
for their own comfort, this is the result. Men 
became clean because they were commanded 
to become clean. Or, as Mr. Chesterton him- 
self puts it, "the Ten Commandments . . . 
were merely military commands; a code of 
regimental orders." 
Now military commands may be necessary 
when a fortress is being used as a fortress, but 
they are not necessary when it is being used as 
a residence. Regimen tal orders are all very 
well when the enemy is abroad, but we want 
none of them when the family is at home. The 
Christian attitude towards life as represented 
by Mr. Chesterton-and in this respect he 
certainly does not misrepresent it-is an 
attempt to run a fighting army as a family 
party, and a family party as a military engage- 
69 



A uthordoxy 


mente In both aspects of it the attempt is 
doomed to failure. I t was not always so. In 
the days of the Christian domination of Europe 
it was otherwise. But I doubt if even Mr. 
Chesterton really wishes to see a return to 
the Middle Ages. 
The Middle Ages were the Christian Ages, 
and from them we can see how Christian 
principles work out. We will begin with that 
question of cleanliness to which reference has 
been made already. Mr. Chesterton told us, 
it will be remembered, that men purified them- 
selves for the altar, and so they became clean. 
That is to say they became clean in obedience 
to a command. But in the Middle Ages there 
were men who deliberately became dirty for 
the sake of the altar, and that is the sort of 
reaction that comes from mere obedience to 
external sanctions. 
The Jew, to whom the command was first 
given, became clean in order that he might 
worship; and the Christian was so occupied 
with the necessity of worship that he forgot 
to be clean. He went further and turned this 
forgetfulness into a virtue, thinking to show 
7 0 



The Flag of the Othe1. World 


by a filthy habit of body an immaculate cleanli- 
ness of soul. 
I remember sitting at lunch with a French 
community settled in England, and during 
the meal the usual ascetical reading went on. 
On this occasion, the work read was the life of 
the pious founder of the community, and I 
shall never forget the faces of two English 
members of the community during the read- 
ing of a passage describing this holy man's 
mortifications in the way of voluntary dirti- 
ness. Impatience, disgust, pity, and above all, 
I thought, anger that this passage should have 
been read at meal-time, and in the presence of 
a critical visitor. 
I t is a proverb of man's invention that 
" cleanliness is next to godliness." Cleanliness 
had a great struggle for that position. It was 
found, even in comparatively recent times, 
that sanctity had no great love of soap. The 
movements that have made personal and public 
cleanliness so general that to-day it seems in- 
credible that they should have been rare have 
been movements that have originated not in 
an external comn1and, but in human necessity 
7 1 



A 1tthordoxy 


and in human affection. They have been 
voluntary movements. The places in the 
(Christian) world to-day that are the most 
dirty are the places that are the most Chris- 
tian. 
I t is such a fact as this that answers out of 
hand all Mr. Chesterton has to say about the 
way in '\tvhich Christianity combines necessary 
rest and necessary restlessness. He says: " We 
have to feel the universe at once as an ogre's 
castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own 
cottage, to which we can return at evening." 
For twenty centuries Christians have been 
regarding the universe as an ogre's castle that 
had to be stormed. But it is only since Chris- 
tianity has been driven in advanced countries 
to think a little less of the ogre that it has dis- 
played some hesitating and yet willing inclina- 
tion to regard the universe as " our own cottage 
to which we may return at evening." Ration- 
alism has almost succeeded in freeing the 
cottage from the ogre; presently it will 
succeed in banishing him from the universe in 
which, of course, he has not, and never has 
had, any real existence. 
7 2 



The Flag of the Othe1. World 


I t all comes back to that argumen t \vi th 
which this chapter began about loyalty. 
" lVlilitary loyalty," which is IV!r. Chesterton's 
attitude towards life, is essentially blind 
loyalty. The Christian is the real determinist 
if determinism is the gloomy thing he pictures 
it. There is no greater or, perhaps I should 
say, meaner Fatalism than belief in the Chris- 
tian revelation. Because men have believed 
in it for many centuries they are fighting each 
other to-day in the bloody fields of France and 
Flanders. The Belgian peasant is blown to 
atoms while he kneels at a wayside shrine; the 
French peasant is torn open by a shell while 
he recites the rosary; the Russian peasant 
stops to kiss an icon and his bending head is 
blown off his body; the English peasant reads 
his khaki-bound New Testament by the way- 
side, and meditates on the statement that 
" two sparrows are sold for a farthing. And 
one of them shall not fall to the ground without 
your Father. But the very hairs of your head 
are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore; ye 
are of more value than many sparrows." 
\Vhilc he is yet meditating, a shot brings him 
73 



A uthordox'lJ 


to the ground, and his closing eyes behold 
many sparrows chirping on the road. These 
are the things that follow in the wake of the 
"military loyalty" view of life. There is 
nothing more orthodox than war. And there 
is nothing that is at root so abominable. 
The Visible Head of Christendom has sent 
his blessing to all his children who are soldiers, 
but he has been powerless to stop them from 
fighting one another. Why? Because in so 
far as they are all children of the Christian 
faith they have all this poison of "military 
loyalty," obedience, submission, in their blood. 
It is the loyalty that comes of revolt that will 
save the world, the loyalty of man to man, of 
the citizen to the community, of the brother 
to the brotherhood. I t is the warfare against 
superstition and ignorance, the warfare of the 
school, the hospital, the laboratory, the Trade 
Union, that will set the wide world free. 
Everyone of the characteristics of Chris- 
tianity that fills Mr. Chesterton with satis- 
faction is not a peculiar characteristic of 
Christianity at all. And, if it could be given 
him to come back to this world when men have 
74 



The Flag of the Other JVorld 


en tered into a larger share of the possessions of 
humanity than they at present possess, he 
would find them still with fairy tales, more 
fairy tales than ever before because they would 
have a greater appreciation of them than 
Christians ever had; he would find the world 
the fortress of our fan1ily, with the flag flying 
on the turret, and when he entered the fortress 
he would discover that the happy rivalries of 
peace had succeeded the cruel rivalries of war 
and had been found not less exciting. 
I t may be said that this is mere prophecy. I 
say that it is the only future thing of which we 
can be reasonably certain. The victory that 
the Flag of the Other World could never 
inspire will be won by the bloodless warfare of 
the gallant soldiers of humanity who fight for 
the Flag of the World. 


75 



CHAPTER VII-The Ohristianity of 
Paradoxes 


I T is a rather easy thing to write in para- 
doxes. If you will try to do it, you will 
be surprised not only at the easiness of 
the business, but at the fact that you can make 
sense of almost everything you have written. 
Most popular sayings or proverbs, for example, 
look quite well turned upside down; and very 
often when they have been turned upside down 
they seem to be the right way up. To say that 
sin covers a multitude of charity is certainly 
not less true than to say that charity covers a 
multitude of sins. Also it is no difficult matter 
to invent analogies and comparisons that are 
arresting by reason of their grotesqueness. 
Thus, I may say of a weak, decadent artist 
that he set out for the realms of gold but 
somehow he could never get beyond the 
Golden Lion. Or I may, by the simpler 
process of ordinary alliteration, say of this 
man that he sought immortality and found 
intoxication. 


7 6 



The Christianity of Paradoxes 


Again, I may say of a writer who points out 
obvious things in an original way something 
like this: I t is interesting to hear of the beauty 
of Switzerland and of the immorality of Paris. 
But it gives us a shock to hear of the beauty 
of Battersea Park and the immorality of Baker 
Street. 
N ow, the only thing against this sort of 
writing is that it is so easy. Once a man begins 
it, he finds himself doing it almost unconsciously 
before long. If you confine yourself to con- 
ventional modes of expression, it may some- 
times take you an hour to write a sentence. 
F or if you use words ordinarily you must be 
at the pains of writing what is intelligible. 
But if you use words fantastically you make 
the appalling discovery that you can write 
much more attractively, and with very little 
trouble. Eccentricity in writing, like eccen- 
trici ty in dress, is very often a mere cloak to 
hide a want of brains rather than the signal of 
their existence. I t is, generally speaking, the 
poet who is not a poet who wears long hair. 
These remarks are not by way of diagnosis 
of l\1r. Chesterton's method of writing. Nor 
77 



A uthordoxy 


are they in any exact sense a description of it. 
To say that he uses fantastic forms of words 
beca use he is not over-blessed with brains 
would be to make a statement not only untrue, 
but preposterously untrue. He could use any 
form of words he chose and be free from the 
suspicion of mere journalistic trickery. 
I t seems to me, nevertheless, that Mr. 
Chesterton's amazingly clever use of a fantastic 
style of writing has made him impervious to 
some weighty matters that he ought to have 
considered. His excess of logic prevents him 
from being logical. He misses the point in the 
very dexterity of his definition of it. The 
nimbleness of his mind and of his wit are 
responsible for his somewhat trying habit of 
darting in to a new theme before he has half 
exhausted the old one. It is often literally 
true of him that he cannot see the wood for 
the trees. 
In the chapter of his book which I have now 
to consider, Mr. Chesterton begins by saying 
that the real trouble with the world" is that 
it is nearly reasonable, but not quite." The 
real trouble with Mr. Chesterton is exactly the 
7 8 



The Ch1tistianity of Paradoxes 


same. And the real danger of Mr. Chesterton's 
apologetic is that it is often so near the truth 
as to be mistaken for it, even by himself. 
There is a saying that a half-truth is worse 
than a lie; but ninety-nine hundredths of 
truth plus one hundredth of error is the worst 
error of all because it is so near the truth. All 
teetotal drinks are a bomina ble things, but none 
is so abominable as the teetotal drink that is 
bottled and la belled and coloured like, and 
called, ale. I t holds not only the physical 
danger of being a dispiriting and gassy con- 
coction, but the mental danger of being mis- 
taken for a rational drink. It is an awful thing 
to have the pleasant anticipation of a glad 
heart and then to experience a stomach-ache. 
When Mr. Chesterton writes, as he does in 
the chapter of Orthodoxy now before us, of 
" The Paradoxes of Christianity," we get full 
measure of his qualities as a writer, but we also 
get full measure of the defects of those qualities. 
And that is why I have tried, possibly with in- 
differen t success, to set out at the beginning 
of this chapter what those qualities and defects 
are. 


79 



A utl
o1'doxy 


I t is a suspicious practice to begin an argu- 
ment with a supposition. A supposition at the 
end of an argument is often a reasonable sup- 
position justified by the argument that has 
preceded it. But a supposition at the begin- 
ning of an argument is mostly an attempt to 
give an unreasonable argument the air of 
rationality. 
Mr. Chesterton begins this chapter with a 
supposition. It is as follows: "Suppose some 
mathematical creature from the moon were 
to reckon up the human body; ,he would at 
once see that the essential thing about it was 
tha t it was d u plica tee A man is two men, he 
on the right exactly resembling him on the 
left. Having noted that there was an arm on 
the right and one on the left, a leg on the right 
and one on the left " (and so on through all 
the duplicate parts), "he would take it as a 
law; and then, where he found a heart on 
one side, would deduce that there was another 
heart on the other. And just then, where 
he most felt he was right, he would be 
wrong." 
The mistake of the" mathematical creature 
80 



The Christianity of Paradoxes 


from the moon " is supposed to be the mistake 
of the Rationalist. But it is the weakness of 
Mr. Chesterton's argument that he had to 
" suppose" the creature from the moon in 
order to make his accusation against Rationalism 
appear rational. He could not have begun the 
argument right away by saying: "Suppose a 
Rationalist from Manchester were to reckon 
up the human body," etc., because there is no 
Rationalist in Manchester or anywhere else 
who would make the mistake upon which his 
argument depends. But then, as our author 
artlessly confesses, " it is very hard for a man 
to defend anything of which he is entirely 
convinced." The difficulty is not decreased, I 
should rather say it is increased, when you have 
become en tirely convinced of a thing by a 
series of most unconvincing processes. I con- 
fess I am amazed at the things that made Mr. 
Chesterton a Christian. He sets some of them 
down in this chapter, and I will now hastily 
examine one or two of them. 
" It was Huxley and Herbert Spencer and 
Bradlaugh who brought me back to orthodox 
theology," says Mr. Chesterton. Let us see 
F 81 



A uthordoxy 


how they did it. First of all, they contra- 
dicted themselves. 
The superficial reader of Mr. Chesterton will 
probably remark, "Surely it is his case that 
everything is a contradiction." To which I 
reply that his case is nothing like so reasonable 
as that. His case is that contradictions in 
Christianity are all parts of the great whole, 
paradoxes of infinite significance. But contra- 
dictions in Rationalism must be tested at their 
face value. It must never be admitted that 
they may not be contradictions at all. 
This is the first contradiction that Mr. 
Chesterton discovered in the case for Ration- 
alism. "One accusation against Christianity 
was that it prevented men, by morbid tears 
and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty in 
the bosom of Nature. But another accusation 
was that it comforted men with a fictitious 
providence, and put them in a pink and white 
nursery. . . . One rationalist had hardly done 
calling Christianity a nightmare before another 
began to call it a fool's paradise." 
There is a saying that provides a simple 
reconcilia tion of these alleged contradictions. 
82 



The Christianity of Paradoxes 


It is the saying that there are people who are 
never happy except when they are miserable. 
One of these criticisms was of Christianity 
in its social aspect, and the other was a 
criticism directed to the personal aspect. 
Christiani ty robs a man of the joys of this life 
by such teaching as this: "Love not the 
world, nei ther the things that are in the 
world. If any man love the world, the love of 
the Father is not in him." Then, by way of 
compensation for this horrible ultimatum, 
Christianity says that if a man does not love 
this world and the things in it he shall be 
wa tched over very carefully in all the dangers 
of its ungodly happiness, and he shall have 
everlasting felicity after he is dead. There is 
no contradiction in asserting that both these 
doctrines are evil. The first beca use it makes 
life a penal ty, instead of a pleasure; the 
second because it makes man a selfish and out- 
landish sort of optimist, whose personal 
optimism about the world to come is con- 
di tional on his being a pessimistic pest in the 
world that now is. If l\1r. Chesterton can get 
any Catholic priest to introduce him to a 
83 



A uthordoxy 


Ca tholic of great scru pulosi ty, or if he will 
spend a Sunday morning at the nearest meeting- 
place of the Plymouth Brethren, he will see the 
people of whom it is literally true that they 
are never happy but when they are miserable, 
and he ought to see that this contradiction of 
the Rationalist's is no contradiction at all. 
Another of these Rationalistic contra- 
dictions in the criticism of Christianity was 
this. "The very people who reproached 
Christianity with the meekness and non- 
resistance of the monasteries were the very 
people who reproached it also with the violence 
and valour of the Crusades. . . . I had got 
thoroughly angry with the Christian, because 
he was never angry. And now I was told to 
be angry with him because his anger had been 
the most huge and horrible thing in human 
history." I have tried very hard to see 
that these criticisms are mutually destructive, 
but I can find nothing but rational criticism 
in them. 
I do not wish to in trod uce irrelevant matter, 
but it is almost a necessity here to call atten- 
tion to the fact that, whatever the Christianity 
84- 



The Christian
:ty of Paradoxes 


of IV!r. Chesterton and the Church may be, 
it is not the teaching of Christ. If Christ 
taught one thing clearly that thing was non- 
resistance. And non-resistance as he taught 
it is nonsense. The Church has never at- 
tempted to carry this teaching out, but it has 
pretended to be carrying it out in the very 
repudiation of it. I do not blame any Chris- 
tian for not attempting to obey literally the 
Sermon on the Mount, but I do blame every 
Christian who tries to keep up the hypocrisy 
that to disobey it is to obey it in spirit. In the 
Cambridge Bible series, the volume on St. 
Luke-by the late Dean Farrar-contains a 
flagrant example of this hypocrisy. In com- 
menting on Christ's statement: "Give to 
every man that asketh of thee," the writer 
says: "The spirit of our Lord's precept is 
now best fulfilled by not giving to every man 
that asks." 
This has been a digression, and I must return 
from the teaching of Christ to the teaching 
of Christianity, and to these alleged contra- 
dictions in the criticism of it. Christianity 
may be rightly blamed both for its tenet of 
85 



A uthordoxy 


irrational meekness for the individual, and for 
its tenet of irrational massacre for the com- 
munity. For the one is the complement of 
the other. 
The Christian must be meek, so that the 
Church may inherit the earth. It was the 
meekness of the monasteries that made possible 
the violence of the Crusades. It is the history 
of Christian meekness that it has never been 
displayed when meekness was needed. And it 
is the history of Christian violence that it has 
never been in evidence when violence was 
really required. Christianity showed no meek- 
ness in the sixteenth century in an orgy of 
violence, and no violence in the eighteenth 
century in a debauch of meekness. It always 
commanded men to be meek when they had 
something to fight for, and to be warlike when 
they had nothing to fight against. I t fought 
against the Turk for the Holy Sepulchre, which 
is supposed to have contained the body of 
Christ, but it would not fight against the 
capitalist for the body of the child-labourer, 
although it professed to believe that body the 
Temple of the Holy Ghost. 
86 



The Christianity of Pa'l'adoxes 


And so with all the rest of the contradictions 
which Mr. Chesterton discovered in the 
Rationalistic propaganda. They are contra- 
dictions only in the sense that lVIr. Chesterton's 
ca talogue of the clashing virtues of Christianity 
is a series of contradictions. He tells us it is 
the glory of Christianity that it is paradoxical, 
and then the critic, when he sees the paradox 
bu t fails to see the glory, is soundly thrashed 
on the assumption that there is not a paradox 
in the whole creed of Christendom. 


87 



CHAPTER VIII-The Eternal Repetition 


B y the Eternal Revolution, which is the 
subject of hìs next chapter, Mr. 
Chesterton seems to mean that the 
world is being made better by the Christian 
influences at work upon it, and that the main 
virtue of the im provemen ts is that they are 
reactions. The principle, if such it can be 
called, reminds me of the Catholic doctrine 
of Development. There is the Deposit of 
Faith which has been given "once for all," 
the process of revelation which is over and 
done with. But the Church's explicit know- 
ledge of the contents of this Deposit, and of 
the full significance thereof, is not instan- 
taneous but progressive. Thus it comes to 
pass that the infallibility of the Pope is, for 
those who hold this doctrine, as much a part 
of the Christian faith as the sinlessness of 
Christ. Just because the Catholic Christian 
begins by solving every riddle there are 
always more riddles for him to solve; and 
precisely because he begins with an act of re- 
88 



The Eternal Repetition 


signation he is for ever committing acts of 
war; the impregnable fortress is eternally 
on the defensive just because it is impreg- 
nable. 
Mr. Chesterton carries this paradox over 
into the field of social action and tells us: 
" You cannot even say that there is victory or 
superiority in nature unless you have some 
doctrine about what things are superior." 
You cannot argue about the contents of the 
Deposit of Faith until you have decided that 
there is a Deposit. You cannot argue about 
the significance of what Christ said to Peter 
if you regard it as highly problematical whether 
Christ said anything at all to Peter or to any- 
one else. You cannot debate the question of 
the godhead of Jesus until you are satisfied 
about his manhood. These are very obvious 
statements, but such obvious statements are 
just the statements in most danger of being 
carelessly and irrelevantly made. 
We see with an almost indecent alacrity what 
principles involve for our opponents, but we 
are frequently uncommonly slow to recognize 
that the same principles involve the same 
89 



A uthordoxy 


things for all of us. I remember picking up 
some years ago a volume of a magazine of 
Mr. Kensit's. It contained an example of this 
sort of inconsistency so remarkable that I 
made a note of it. I found on one page a 
hea ted den uncia tion of pictures as aids to 
devotion. For some inscrutable reason it 
appeared that to have a picture of Christ in a 
place dedicated to his worship was to dis- 
honour him. Mr. Kensit, who, I make no 
doubt, would knock down a man who spat at 
the photograph of his mother, would rather 
admire a man who tore down and burned a 
picture of the mother of Christ. I was still 
thinking about this strange state of mind, 
turning over the pages of this magazine care- 
lessly the while, when my eye caught an article 
abou t a picture. I t was a picture of which 
Mr. Kensi t had some copies to sell, depicting, 
I think, a hunted Protestant reading a hidden 
Bible. And this is what the article said about 
the sort of pictures we should have in our 
houses. In buying a picture we should con- 
sider " whether its teaching portrays a link in 
the chain of truth; whether it records or 
9 0 



TIle Eternal Repetition 


interprets anything unfamiliar; whether it 
adds one single stone to our heaven-pointed 
pyramid, cuts a\vay one dark bough, or levels 
one hillock in our path." This is an advertise- 
ment by a man with something to sell, it is not 
art criticism, and it is not theology; but it is 
an advertisement by a man in whose sincerity 
in his bigotry it will do us no harm to believe, 
and who does not see that in this praise of the 
moral use of pictures he has handed himself 
over gagged and bound to the Jesuit who was 
only waiting round the corner for something of 
this sort to happen ! 
The coupling of their names will I fear 
seriously annoy both of them, but I am bound 
to say I think there are many resemblances 
between Mr. Kensit and Mr. Chesterton. And 
the principal point of resemblance is that they 
see what certain standards imply for other 
people, but they do not see what their own 
standards imply for themselves. Mr. Kensit, 
for example, does not see that he cannot sell 
pictures of the founder of the Kensi t Crusade 
at one shop in the City, and at the same 
time object to another Christian shopkeeper 
9 1 



A uthordoxy 


selling pictures of the founder of the Christian 
religion. Mr. Chesterton does not see that he 
cannot say that "except for some human or 
divine theory there is no principle in nature" 
in order to dish the Rationalist, and at the same 
time denounce the Rationalist for saying the 
same thing with this addendum that personally 
he (the Rationalist) is for the human theory 
against the divine. As I said at the outset 
of these criticisms, Mr. Chesterton's position 
is that a man can eat his cake and have it 
too. 
Mr. Chesterton would have the mere 
Rationalist to be very precise in his language 
while, at the same time, he denounces him for 
not making use of the language of the people, 
which notoriously lacks precision. But no man 
is more precise, nay pedantic, in his use of 
words than Mr. Chesterton; and no man so 
frequently manages to miss their common 
meaning. Thus he tells us that he prefers the 
word reform to the words progress and evolu- 
tion. But of these three words the word 
reform is the word which most frequently is 
used without the significance that Mr. Chester- 
9 2 



The Eter1
al Repegition 


ton considers its ad van tage over the others: 
i.e. that reform implies form. 
To take the first two instances that come to 
my mind. Tariff Reform meant the reform 
of something which didn't exist. Poor Law 
Reform means, in the mouths of those who 
most often write and talk about it, the aboli- 
tion of the Poor Law. 
The fact is that Mr. Chesterton is precise 
when he should be careless and careless when 
he should be precise. 
A quite true story, which is as amusing as it 
is significant, is told of a well-known Irish 
l\1ember of Parliament. He was about to start 
out on a flome Rule campaign, and he called 
at the office of the United Irish League for his 
itinerary. As he was leaving the secretary 
said to him: "Here! stick this bundle of 
leaflets in your pocket-all the facts brought 
up to date." To which the Irish Member of 
Parliament impatiently replied: "Och! what 
do I want wid facts: gineralities are good 
enough for me." 
I t was quite true. Generalities were good 
enough for him because he had had twenty- 
93 



A uthordoxy 


five years' daily contact with the facts. He 
knew that he could arouse more sympathy and 
enthusiasm for Ireland by stories of bad laws 
in operation than by the precise analysis of the 
bad laws, or the careful exposition of better 
ones. 
I t is the man who knows who can deal in 
generalities; it is the man who is concerned to 
prove that somebody else doesn't know who 
must deal only in facts. 
Dealing with the idea of progress, or 
advance, or reform, Mr. Chesterton says: 
"The only intelligible sense that progress or 
advance can have among men, is that we have 
a definite vision, and that we wish to make the 
whole world like that vision." This is the 
generalization of the man who does not realize 
the facts; hence it is an utterly unconvincing 
generalization. 
The Christian in the Middle Ages had a 
" definite vision," and wished "to make the 
whole world like that vision," or, perhaps it 
would be more true to say he wished to keep 
the whole world like that vision. His condition 
wa
 that he thought his vision so good that 
94 



The Eterncil Repetition 


he was prepared to burn men alive rather 
than they should move away from it. But the 
vision that inspires modern progress is not so 
much the vision of better things to come as 
the vision of bad things that now exist. The 
Rationalist does not find it necessary to have 
an exact vision of the sort of healthy dwellings 
that will be erected on the site of the slum to 
convince him that slums are an abomination. 
He does not worry his head about what he will 
do when he has recovered from an illness before 
he has sent for the doctor. The vision of 
things that exist may be quite as inspiring, and 
often is more inspiring, than the vision of 
things that do not exist. I t is the vision of a 
miserable man who exists that moves men to 
try and make him happy, not the vision of the 
happiness which he does not possess. 
Progress will not come by dreaming of it 
but by working for it. And it is a fact as plain 
as the nose on my face that such progress as 
has been made has been made much more by a 
grim consciousness of realities than by an airy 
vision of possibilities. 
Mr. Chesterton wants to make men dream 
95 



A uth,ordoxy 


in order to make them move. I t is not sur- 
prising if they go to sleep in order to dream. 
But the Rationalist wants to wake men up in 
order to make them move. 
Mr. Chesterton says to the slum dweller: 
" Try and have a fixed vision of a pleasant and 
clean and airy and beautiful home. It will 
inspire you so much." And the Rationalist 
says to the slum dweller: "Take a look at 
this room of yours, and when you have seen 
the dirt of years that is a part of it, and when 
you have taken a good look at that bed whereon 
you and your wife and your two children are 
huddled together at night because there is not 
room for another, even if you had the money 
to get it, and when you have got it well 
into your head that somewhere there is a 
man who is living in wealth and plenty by 
poisoning and putrifying and slowly murder- 
ing you and thousands of people like you in 
holes like this-then tell me, how long are you 
going to stand it?" I do not think there 
will be much dispute as to which is the more 
practically inspiring of these two methods. 
The Eternal Revolution of Mr. Chesterton's 
9 6 



The Ete1"nal Repetition 


philosophy is not a revolution at all; it is a 
repetItIon. It is a repetition that was re- 
peated for more than seventeen hundred years, 
and, at the end of that time, the only progress 
it had made was a progression from bad to 
worse. Since then all the things that Mr. 
Chesterton hates - doubt, inquiry, dull 
methodical research, rooting about in the 
in tricacies of things-all these things have been 
going on, and from them has come a tendency 
that is gradually rising into a triumph, and 
which has done more for the happiness and 
freedom of mankind than religion did in all 
the years of its domination. 
Mr. Chesterton is fond of having a fixed 
test. The demand for a fixed test is a mere 
ruse to get the Rationalist to make his own 
coffin. There can no more be a fixed test by 
which to judge every detail of the com plica ted 
processes of human emanci pa tion than there 
can be one test by which to discover whether 
milk is good and whether a sovereign is good. 
But, in so far as any standard of judgment is 
possible, there is an old standard that I learned 
in a Sunday School that will do as well as 
G 97 



A Uth01
doxy 


any other. "By their fruits ye shall know 
them. " 
Judged by that, which is its own standard, 
Christianity must be found wanting by every 
man who does not believe that j udgmen t, like 
justice, should be blind. Weighed in that, 
which is its own balance, Christianity must be 
found wanting by every man who does not 
tamper with the scales. 


9 8 



CHAPTER IX-Tlte Realisrr
 Of OTthodoxy 


T HE purpose of that chapter of Mr. 
Chesterton's book which is headed 
"The Romance of Orthodoxy" is, 
he explains, to show that the ideas of the 
modern free-thinker are" definitely illiberal." 
The chapter begins with one of those wordy 
exercises to lead up to a point that Mr. Chester- 
ton is so fond of. U nfortuna tely, however, 
when we have been led up to the point we dis- 
cover that there is no point. The chief defect 
of our age, we are told, is not bustle and 
strenuousness, but laziness and fatigue. 
"Take one quite external case," says l\1r. 
Chesterton. "The streets are noisy with 
taxi-cabs and motor-cars; but this is not due 
to human activity but to human repose. There 
would be less bustle if there were more 
activity, if people were simply walking about." 
The fact is that we ride in taxi-cabs and motor- 
omnibuses not because we are too lazy to walk, 
but because we are too active to walk. If it is 
my duty to keep six appointments in the course 
99 



A uthordoxy 


of the day, and I walk to the first two of them, 
which are at opposite ends of London, I shall 
ha ve to miss the other four. And if I happen 
to be employed by a business man who sends 
me out to make these calls I shall find, when I 
return to his office, that he by no means agrees 
with Mr. Chesterton that I have put in an 
exceedingly active day. When one has no 
resp.onsibility one can idle. You may see the 
butcher's errand boy with his bicycle propped 
against some wall while he plays marbles, 
boisterously indifferent to the business of the 
butcher, and the cooks' of his customers. You 
will see a man taking his children for a walk 
across Hampstead Heath on a Sunday morn- 
ing; but you will not see him taking a walk 
to the City on Monday morning. He does 
not walk on Sunday because he feels particu- 
larly active, any more than he rides on Monday 
because he feels particularly lazy. He conducts 
himself in a reasonable fashion, and so he thinks 
it would be silly to ride across Hampstead 
Heath on a Sunday when he has nothing to do 
after being shut up in some office for a week; 
just as he knows that if he walked to the City 


100 
 . . :,
) 
- ('. 
.,.).. if 
.
 'I'" n 
l- L. 1\ AI.... Y ,,"\ 



The Reali8m of Orrthodoxy 


on a lVlonday he would be indulging himself 
with a selfish vvaste of energy. 
IVIr. Chesterton has tried to prove the times 
are not strenuous, and he has only succeeded 
in proving that they are not slow. He has 
attempted to show that the modern man is a 
laggard, and he has demonstrated that he is a 
labourer. 
This sort of thing is always happening to 
Mr. Chesterton. There is another exam pIe 
of it on the very next page. "It is often sug- 
gested that all Liberals ought to be free- 
thinkers, because they ought to love everything 
that is free." This statement having been 
made, some space is devoted to refuting it. 
But it did not need refuting because it was 
never said-except by Mr. Chesterton. To 
say that all Liberals ought to be free-thinkers 
beca use they ought to love everything that is 
free is to talk the arrant rubbish which free- 
thinkers are given to talking in l\1r. Chester- 
ton's pages, but which is notably absent from 
their conversation elsewhere. To be a Liberal 
means, in one aspect of the matter, not to 
believe in everything free. But to be a Liberal 
101 



A uthordoxy 


does mean to believe in freedom of thought. 
And the Catholic Church, knowing more about 
these things than Mr. Chesterton, has a common 
name for all believers in freedom of thought. 
Throughout Europe, and throughout the 
world, she calls them-Liberals. 
Mr. Chesterton says: "In actual modern 
Europe a free-thinker does not mean a man 
who thinks for himself. It means a man who, 
having thought for himself, has come to one 
particular class of conclusions. . . ." 
This is like saying that an efficient baker is 
really a baking machine, because, having studied 
and thought about the various methods of 
baking bread, he has come to the conclusion 
that a particular class of process is the best. 
But this is the very man who will be the first 
to give any new method of baking a trial. 
When he concluded that a certain process was 
the best he knew, he did not also conclude 
that no man had ever known or would ever 
know abetter. 
And because the free-thinker has arrived at 
certain conclusions he has not ceased to think 
freely. He arrived at those conclusions by 
IOZ 



The Real1'sm of Orthodoxy 


thinking for himself, and he is prepared to 
defend, revise, or abandon anyone of them 
by the same process of free-thinking. He is 
called a free-thinker, not so much because of 
his conclusions as because of his method, 
which is the reverse method to that of the 
Church. 
Mr. Chesterton begins to show that the ídeas 
of the modern free-thinker are "definitely 
illiberal" by telling us about the ideas of the 
"liberalizers of theology" who are no more 
free-thinkers than Mr. Chesterton. What he 
calls "the notes of the new theology or the 
modernist church" may be dismissed the issue 
for they have nothing to do with it. The 
new theology has no more ruthless opponent 
than the free-thinker. He understands that 
there is a case to be made out for Authority, 
and a case to be made out for Reason, and that 
there is no case for the elusive theology that 
rej ects both. 
Coming to what may more properly be 
regarded as the ground occupied by the free- 
thinker, l\1r. Chesterton is concerned to show 
that there is nothing particularly liberal in a 
10 3 



A Uth01.doxy 


denial of miracles. The liberal idea of freedom 
is, he thinks, somehow bound up with belief 
in the miraculous. We will look at this matter 
for a moment. 
Wha t is a miracle? Mr. Chesterton's 
definition is this: "A miracle simply means 
the swift control of matter by mind." It may 
be admitted that this meaning is frequently 
attached to the word miracle as it is used in 
ordinary life. Thus, if a man appears to be 
walking to certain death when he crosses a 
road and does not notice an approaching motor- 
omnibus until it seems to the observer he is too 
late, and if that man, with incredible dexterity 
both of mind and body at the last moment, 
esca pes wi thou t a scratch, some passer-by will 
certainly remark that it was a miracle. And 
so it was if a miracle is nothing more than 
" the swift control of matter by mind." 
But this is not the Christian theologian's 
idea of a miracle. In comparatively modern 
times some theologians have adopted and 
expressed this view of some miracles. Old 
John Newton, for example, applied it to the 
miracle of the feeding of the five thousand in 
10 4 



The Realism of Orthocloxy 


one of the few theological poems that are 
grea t poetry : 


" Full soon celestially fed 
Their rustic fare they take, 
'Twas Spring-cime when He blest the bread, 
'Twas Harvest when He brake." 


But what set the theologians a-seeking these 
plausible explanations of miracles? It used 
to be the glory of the miraculous that it was 
miraculous. Now we are asked to believe that 
the great characteristic of miracles is that they 
are not miracles. 
Mr. Chesterton is concerned to sho"v that a 
denial of the miraculous is " definitely illiberal" 
rather than to discuss the general question of 
miracles. It seems to me that he answers him- 
self in this as in many other cases. F or he 
says: "If a man cannot believe in miracles 
there is an end of the matter; he is not 
particularly liberal, but he is perfectly honour- 
able and logical, which are much better things." 
How can the statement that disbelief in the 
miraculous is " definitely illiberal" be recon- 
ciled with this? 
The case is in need of statement in its 
10 5 



A uthordoxy 


positive aspect. I will therefore endeavour 
to show why the man who rejects the 
miraculous is more on the side of the liberal 
idea of freedom than the man who believes 
in it. 
The miraculous, not perhaps in the watered 
down edition of the new theologians, but cer- 
tainly in the Old Testament and in the Catholic 
Church, means that there is at the back of this 
universe of ours a Person who can do what he 
likes with it and with us. And because he is 
subject to no law we can never be certain, 
while we believe in him, that we may regard 
anything as a law at all. He can make the sun 
stand still and so put the spheres out of joint; 
he can bring forth an evil beast to devour us 
in Fleet Street if we laugh at Mr. Chesterton, 
just as he sent a couple of beasts to devour a 
couple of little children who made fun of 
another of his prophets; he can fill our beds 
\vith lice and cover our bodies with sores; he 
can strike us dead and bring us to life again 
three months afterwards-to the great dis- 
comfort of the Insurance Companies. These 
are some sam pIes of the things the power 
106 



The Realism of Orthodoxy 


above us can do if the real, out-and-out, 
view of the miraculous is true. And if these 
things could be done" the liberal idea of free- 
dom" would be at an end. For the liberal 
idea of freedom involves that it shall be possible 
to make progress, not indeed without difficulty 
and sometimes disaster, but without diffi- 
culties and disasters of the sort that I have just 
described. 
I t is only when he perceives, by some such 
crude description as I have written, what the 
miraculous is that the average man realizes 
that he does, in fact, conduct the whole 
business of his life without reference to 
su perna tural sanctions and miraculous possi- 
bilities. 
Mr. Chesterton, who tells us in this book 
tha t "the phrases of the street are not only 
forcible but subtle" is probably aware that 
when the man in the street says of any other 
man "God help him" he regards that man 
as beyond help. 
It is only man that helps man; and it is 
because the free-thinker realizes this more 
clearly than others that he is a greater.help:to 
10 7 



A utho'J"doxy 


mankind than the man who feels he has always 
God to fall back upon in case of emergency. 
The liberal idea of freedom is the life of free- 
thought. And the liberal idea of freedom will 
be the death of Christianity. 


108 



CHAPTER X-Reason and the 
M is- A dvent
lrer 


I WAS surprised to find in the concluding 
chapter of Mr. Chesterton's book an 
appeal to individual experience as an 
apologetic. The Rev. Dr. Horton, with whom 
Mr. Chesterton has, I think, had words in his 
time, says in a recent book of apologetics after 
the modernist model: "Tha t apologetic is 
barren which meets rationalism with rationalism 
and labours to establish an historical reality 
independently of a religious experience." When 
I read this statement it occurred to me that I 
should like to see a duel between Dr. Horton 
and IVIr. Chesterton a bou tit, and I was pretty 
certain that Mr. Chesterton would win. No 
Christian writer I knew of had such a healthy 
contempt for the statement that is a common 
cant of the modernists, that we must refer 
back the appeal as to the credentials of Chris- 
tianity from history to something called 
" religious experience." 
And now my dream of seeing Dr. Horton 
10 9 



A uthordoxy 


and Mr. Chesterton engaged in this duel is over. 
For Mr. Chesterton has to this extent gone 
over to the modernists that he says his evidences 
for Christianity are made up "of loose but 
living experiences." It is true that he also 
calls these loose but living experiences "an 
enormous accumulation of small but unani- 
mous facts." It is just possible that he intends 
to appeal to them as facts and not as experi- 
ences, at all events in the modernist sense of 
the latter word. But this is not clear in the 
book, and I come at the end of my examina- 
tion of it to the expression of an opinion that 
has been growing slowly as I have gone through 
it, that for all his rampant orthodoxy Mr. 
Chesterton is a little bit of a heretic. 
I do not intend to pursue what seem to be 
the beginnings of something that is not ortho- 
doxy in Mr. Chesterton, but to suppose that I 
am misled by-what may be an unconsidered 
phrase, and to proceed to the end treating Mr. 
Chesterton as the most orthodox of all the 
Christians. 
I am sorry to say that the" loose but living 
experiences" and the "enormous accum ula- 
110 



Reason a1
d the lJIis- Adventurer 


tion of small but unanimous facts" that are 
1\1r. Chesterton's" evidences for Christianity" 
have eluded me in this book until now, and I 
have looked for them many times in this last 
chapter to which they rightly belong, but 
without finding them. Mr. Chesterton says 
that when he looked at various anti-Christian 
tru ths he found they were not true. But his 
finding them untrue does not help us very 
much. He thinks, he believes, that Chris- 
tianity is true. I think and believe that it is 
false. He thinks it is the hope of the world. I 
think the world's hope is that it is passing 
away. Who is to decide between us ? 
We are both qui te sincere, both qui te 
honourable in our opinions; but which of us 
is right? I am afraid the only way of deciding 
that is to appeal to the facts. That is what 
Mr. Chesterton does not do. He appeals to 
his view of the facts to support his view of the 
facts and, of course, his appeal is successful. 
Or he appeals to what he alleges to be the 
Rationalist's view of the facts to show that it 
is a particularly stupid and short-sighted view 
of them. And so it often is. Only it isn't the 
III 



A uthordoxy 


Rationalist's. The one thing that Mr. Chester- 
ton never does in this book is to deal with facts 
as distinct from his own or some one else's 
impressions of them. It does not help me to 
be told that Mr. Smith thinks the Marble 
Arch beautiful, and that Mr. Jones thinks it 
ugly, if I am trying to find out what was the 
origin of the thing, who erected it, and why, 
and when. Similarly it does not help me to 
be told that it is an anti-Christian argument 
that man is "a mere variety of the animal 
kingdom" if I am out to discover what are the 
evidences that he is possessed of an immortal 
soul ? 
In all his treatment of facts Mr. Chesterton 
never lets them speak for themselves. "The 
ordinary agnostic," he says, " has got his facts 
all wrong." He gives us a bunch of these facts 
that are "all \vrong." Here they are: "He" 
-the ordinary agnostic-" doubts because the 
Middle Ages were barbaric, but they weren't; 
because Darwinism is demonstrated, but it 
isn't; because miracles do not happen, but 
they do; because monks were lazy, but they 
were very industrious; because nuns are un- 
112 



Reason and the .Jfis-Advwnturer 


happy, but they are particularly cheerful; 
because Christian art was sad and pale, but it 
was picked out in peculiarly bright colours and 
gay with gold; because modern science is 
moving away from the supernatural, but it 
isn't, it is moving towards the supernatural 
with the rapidity of a railway train." 
Without admitting for a moment that any 
man ever became an agnostic for such a reason 
as that he thought nuns are unhappy, without 
admitting that any of these reasons are good, 
bad, or indifferent, let us look at the treatment 
of facts in this passage. One example may 
suffice. Mr. Chesterton says the lVliddle Ages 
were not barbaric. The moment a man 
begins to look into the matter he is faced with 
this fact, that the l\1iddle Ages were much 
worse than the Catholic believes them to have 
been, much better than the neo- Protestan t 
will allow them to have been, and, in their evil 
features, exactly what the Rationalist has always 
held them to be, i.e. an exhibition of Chris- 
tiani ty at the zenith of its power over the 
human mind. And to deny the darkness of 
the Dark Ages by the simple assertion that 
H 113 



A utlwrdoxy 


they were not dark is not argument, it IS 
dogmatic impudence. Did Lecky think the 
Middle Ages were not dark and backward 
because he admitted that, on its ethical side, 
some of the teaching of the Church made for 
light in the darkness? Does Mr. Hyndman 
think the lVliddle Ages were not dark and back- 
ward because he recognizes that on its economic 
side Catholicism was much superior to the 
Protestantism that began by the profession of 
a desire to purify the monasteries, and ended 
with the wholesale plunder of the poor? 
I don't know what Mr. Chesterton calls 
evidence. But if every historian who had no 
special religious axe to grind can be believed, 
if the papers, the State Papers and the private 
correspondence and diaries of the period can 
be believed, in a word, if there is any credence 
to be attached to contemporary testimony, 
the Middle Ages were the dark Ages. And with 
due respect to Mr. Chesterton's weight as a 
controversialist I venture to tell him that his 
reply to all this-" they wern't "-is not in 
the least effective. We should like to believe 
him, but history will not allow us to do so. 
114 



Reason and tl
e 
JIis-Advent
lrer 


If you examine all the other reasons that 
are given why agnostics do not believe, you 
will not find a single one of them to which the 
objection noted above does not apply. The 
objection, that is to say, that we have only 
Mr. Chesterton's definition of the agnostic's 
position, and only 11r. Chesterton's word that 
it is wrong. 
The time has come to make an end of these 
very discursive observations on the orthodoxy 
expounded by Mr. Chesterton. I will there- 
fore now endeavour by way of conclusion to 
set out what appears to me to be the defects 
of the book Orthodoxy as an apologetic for 
Chris tiani ty. 
As an apologetic for Christianity Orthodoxy 
is at once the very best and the very worst 
that has been written in recent times. It is 
the very best, because there is in the vigour 
and valour of the style of it, and in the wit and 
whimsicality of the phrasing of it, and in the 
candour and confidence of it, something which 
is lacking from all the merely theological 
apologetics I ever read, namely, the sense that 
here is an honest man searching and not merely 
lIS 



A uthordoxy 


a professional expositor describing the goal of 
the search. From first to last in these pages 
we never lose touch with a provokingly human 
personality. And so the very manner in which 
the book is written sets up an unconscious bias 
in the author's favour, and, I make no doubt, 
makes him a great asset to the clergy who, poor 
gentlemen, do not put anything like such 
cheerful faith in the sta bili ty of their pro- 
fession as he does. This book is the best thing 
tha t has happened during the religious con- 
flicts of our times, because it gives the young 
Christian and the young sceptic the impression 
that they are having a glorious, clean, stand-up 
fight. And so it leaves a very deep sense of the 
manliness and the sincerity of the Christian in 
the mind of the young sceptic. This is what 
the bulk of the Christian apologists have never 
done. They have never fought fair. There is 
a dispute about a thing. " Very well," says 
Mr. Chesterton, " we'll have a drink together, 
and I'll fight you for it." And he fights like a 
man. The average Christian apologist never 
fought, or, if he could not save his face with- 
out making an appearance of fighting, he 
116 



Reason and tlte .Jfis-Adventurer 


secreted a knife in his glove, and bolted in the 
excitement caused by the unexpected fall of 
his opponent. 
In its lusty manliness Mr. Chesterton's 
book may be called the best apologetic for 
Christianity that has been written in recent 
times. 
But it is also the worst apologetic because 
its defects, if they are more lovable defects 
than those of, say, the Rev. Dr. Torrey, are 
also more obvious and more fundamental. In 
a row of second-rate dowdy houses you prob- 
ably would not notice if one of them had a 
broken window upstairs. You would have no 
reason for looking at their windows. But you 
could not help noticing a broken window at 
Peter Robinson's or the Stores. What Mr. 
Chesterton says to the Rationalist is something 
like this: "Come and have a look at these 
windows of mine. See how I have managed to 
get into them the antique and the novel, the 
grave and the gay; see how I have contrived 
to suggest at once a battle-field and a banquet, 
a campaign and a cottage; remark how I 
have put in laughter, but not the laughter of 
117 



A uthordoxlJ 


lunacy; and tears, but not the tears of despair; 
observe, in a word, that these windows of mine 
show forth in all its happily conflicting aspects 
the mystery of my religion. And, mark you 
this, that mystery is inviolate and eternal. 
F or this glass of the windows in which it is all 
displayed is the most ancient glass in the world. 
It is called Faith, and it can never be broken." 
And the Rationalist, not without a little regret 
at disturbing the equanimity of so amiable a 
gentleman, ventures to draw his attention to 
the fact that, incredible as it may seem, some 
one has thrown half a brick through one of the 
windows, shattering the glass that could never 
be broken, and disturbing the goods that could 
never be moved. 
I have said that the defects of this apologetic 
are not only obvious-like a broken window at 
Peter Robinson's-but fundamental. 
The fundamental error of Mr. Chesterton is 
that he never goes down to fundamentals. He 
is, in a manner that is rather difficult to put 
into words, deeply superficial. He deals with 
fundamen tals as if they were superficial, and 
with superficialities as if they were funda- 
118 
_. 



Reason ctnd the Jfis-Ad'oenture'r 


mental. He takes a sledge-hammer to kill a 
flea, and a little box of insect powder to arrest 
a plague. He talks too much to be con- 
vincing. He never leaves us with a period for 
reflection between his talks. He is a hustler, 
hurrying, coaxing, chaffing, cheering, driving, 
dragging us on, until he lands us breathless in 
the church porch. And the moment we have 
got our wind vve clear out of the porch again, 
and we say to Mr. Chesterton something like 
this: "What's the hurry ? You have brought 
us a very long way, and over a lot of strange 
territory, and we have not had a wash all the 
way. And now, when we are tired and dusty 
and rather bewildered by all these things you 
have been saying to us as you brought us along, 
you want us to go into that church and say it 
is the very place that we have been looking for 
all our lives. We shall do nothing of the kind. 
We shall go back at our leisure over this road 
along which you have driven us in your haste; 
we shall examine carefully the turnings and the 
cross roads; and if we find that by keeping our 
feet steadily in one direction we come to the 
end again by this church we will go inside. OUf 
119 



A uthordoxy 


presen t notion is that in the commotion of 
your company we have, unwittingly on our 
part, taken more than one wrong turning." 
This is, of course, nothing more than the 
impression this book leaves with me person- 
ally. I argued myself into Christianity. But 
I thought myself out of it. The thing that 
Mr. Chesterton's book lacks, the fundamental 
lack it seems to me is this, that he does not 
appear to have heard of the words of a certain 
writer who said: "In quietness and confi- 
dence shall be their strength." 
Everyone who has thought seriously for 
himself knows the value of silence. I t has 
been said of human love: 


" Ah, not alone is eloquence of speech 
The vehicle of passion and of troth, 
In an enchanted silence Love may reach 
The height of the irrevocable oath." 


And I believe if anyone will read Mr. Chester- 
ton's book, not in the rush of wild and whirling 
argument which seems to be his native air, but 
quietly, thinking ou t all these dazzling sentences 
and tracking to their inmost cells all these 


120 



Reason and the JIis-Advent'ltrer 


astounding suggestions, he will see less reason 
for being a Christian than ever. 
Mr. Chesterton shows us orthodoxy as a 
citadel erected upon a catch-phrase, a tribunal 
based upon a trick. The catch-phrase turns 
out to be a lie, and the citadel has fallen to the 
ground. The trick is exposed and the tribunal 
is no more, and the judge who sat in it is buried 
in the wreckage. 
With heads erect, a swinging step, and a 
new and nobler awe in our hearts we turn from 
the complicated ruin of orthodoxy out on to 
the broad road of humanity. The air IS 
strangely clear and crisp and invigorating; it 
is the air of freedom. 


THE END 



BOOKS BY G. K. CHESTERTON 


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The Works of 
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"I do not believe that Thorfin Karlsefne was more 
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sailed into my ken. . . . I have three good reasons for 
writing about Anatole France. I want to help the British 
people to enjoy his work; I want them to accord to the 
great Frenchman the full justice which I feel he has not yet 
received in this country; and I want to ease my soul by 
some expression of my own gratitude and admiration. . . . 
Of all the famous or popular men alive upon this planet 
Anatole France is to me the greatest. There is no writer 
to compare to him, and he has few peers amongst the greatest 
geniuses of past ages and all climes. . . . 'Penguin 
Island' is a masterpiece and a classic. It is, in my opinion, 
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one of the most artistic, humorous, human, and exhilarating 
achievements in literature. It is alive; it is real; it goes 
like a song. There is nothing finer or stronger in the best 
comedy work of Shakespeare. . . . Anatole France is a 
great man, and there is no living celebrity for whom I have 
so much reverence and regard."-ROBERT BLATCHFORD in 
the SundaJ' Chronicle. 
A List of Volumes and a copy of the Anatole France 1lumber 
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The Earthen Vessel 


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"The mOlt thrilling volume of the year." 
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Some Experiences of a New 
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