Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once very nearly died of broadmindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.

The optimist's pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in the light of the supernatural.

If ever I murdered somebody," he added quite simply, "I dare say it might be an Optimist.

Democracy is reproached with saying that the majority is always right. But progress says that the minority is always right.

Monotony has nothing to do with a place; monotony, either in its sensation or its infliction, is simply the quality of a person. There are no dreary sights; there are only dreary sight seers.

A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter.

Man is more himself, more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing and grief superficial.

I had always felt life first as a story...

We all disapprove of prostitution; but we do not all approve of purity. The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity?

But if you cannot at once laugh at a thing or believe in it, you have no business in the Middle Ages. Or in the world for that matter.

There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.

To be simple is the best thing in the world.

The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.

Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do.

Romance is the deepest thing in life. It is deeper than reality.

It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God has never got tired of making them... The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

Passion makes every detail important.

It was his home now. But it could not be his home till he had gone from it and returned to it. Now he was the Prodigal Son.

If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.

The whole point of the Eugenic pseudo-scientific theories is that they are to be applied wholesale, by some more sweeping and generalizing money power than the individual husband or wife or household. Eugenics asserts that all men must be so stupid that they cannot manage their own affairs; and also so clever that they can manage each other's.

I suppose I do deserve it; for not noticing the nearest helpers I have. But you must admit the accumulation of incidents was rather formidable. Did you never feel just a momentary awe of the awful volume?' ‘Oh, that,' said Father Brown. ‘I opened it as soon as I saw it lying there. It's all blank pages. You see, I am not superstitious.'

We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.

People who lose all their charity generally lose all their logic.

I could forgive you even your cruelty if it were not for your calm.

Frenchmen tend to be alike, because they are all soldiers; Prussians because they are all something else, probably policemen; even Americans are all something, though it is not easy to say what it is; it goes with hawk-like eyes and an irrational eagerness. Perhaps it is savages.

When we consider the possibility that God will not be good to us, we stand on the precipice of despair and peer into the darkness below.

Something lay in the shadow at the foot of the ridge, as stiff as the stick of the fallen rocket; and the man who knew too much knew what is worth knowing.

But we are engaged in a bitter and eternal war with small things; chiefly with microbes and with collar studs.

Every flirtation is a marriage; it is a marriage in this frightful sense; that it is irrevocable.

It is always the secure who are humble.

Free verse is like free love; it is a contradiction in terms.

Only the Christian Church can offer any rational objection to a complete confidence in the rich. For she has maintained from the beginning that the danger was not in man's environment, but in man. Further, she has maintained that if we come to talk of a dangerous environment, the most dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment.

If you do not understand a man you cannot crush him. And if you do understand him, you probably will not.

It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.

If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence.

The flying ship of Professor Lucifer.

Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.

The secret of life lies in laughter and humility.

The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything.

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.

Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot.

But if he has lost the sane vision, he can only get it back by something very like a mad vision; that is, by seeing a man as a strange animal and realising how strange an animal he is.

A man is perfectly entitled to laugh at a thing because he happens to find it incomprehensible. What he has no right to do is to laugh at it as incomprehensible, and then criticize it as if he comprehended it.

I know that I cannot turn everything I touch to gold; but then I also know that I have never tried, having a preference for other substances, such as grass, and good wine.

To the delight of the poetic little gutter boys in the little grey streets.

But even the machinery of voting is profoundly Christian in this practical sense—that it is an attempt to get at the opinion of those who would be too modest to offer it.

He had escaped a thunderbolt, but he was still under a cloud.

The mind that finds its way to wild places is the poet's; but the mind that never finds its way back is the lunatic's.