G. K. Chesteron
White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. Continue reading
“We are always ready to make a saint or prophet of the educated man who goes into cottages to give a little kindly advice to the uneducated. The mediaeval saint or prophet was an uneducated man who walked into grand houses to give a little kindly advice to the educated.”
G. K. Chesterton
All Saints Day reminds us of all those holy men and women whom God, in His infinite mercy, sends us as torches to light our path in a dark world. Filled with God’s love and grace, they make golden the pages of our histories with their lives and witness. Feeling the lure of sin just as much as any of us, they turned to God and reflected His love to us. They come in all sorts of humanity: men and women, all nationalities, wise, simple, warriors, pacifists, miracle workers, saints whose only miracle was their life, humorous, humorless, clergy, laity, old, young, united only in their Faith and their love for the Highest Love. Continue reading
“Pacifists are the last and least excusable on the list of the enemies of society. They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.”
For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell today
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.
For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.
When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.
Something for the Weekend. From the endlessly talented songsters at Music For History Lovers, Illuminated Manuscripts sung to the tune of Nowhere Man by the Beatles. Monks toiling in Scriptoriums in monasteries throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and thereby rescuing some of the classic works of Antiquity is a cliche, but a true cliche. When the secular world of the Western Empire dissolved in chaos and ruin following the babarian invasions, it was the Church that rescued the lamp of knowledge. Only an institution like the Church, a rock in the river of time, could century following century ensure the survival and copying of manuscripts that preserved a precious fraction of the writings of Greece and Rome. Jerusalem rescued Athens. Continue reading
The patron saint of paradox, G. K. Chesterton, had a great gift for taking the familiar, twisting it to a new angle in his mind and producing insights that were often brilliant and always well written. On 1921 he made a lecture tour of the US. In 1922 he wrote a book, What I Saw In America, which is filled with interesting observations on the US by one of our more acute observers. Here are his reflections on Lincoln. I certainly do not endorse everything he writes, but I find all of it fascinating.
Lincoln and Lost Causes
It has already been remarked here that the English know a great deal about past American literature, but nothing about past American history. They do not know either, of course, as well as they know the present American advertising, which is the least important of the three. But it is worth noting once more how little they know of the history, and how illogically that little is chosen. They have heard, no doubt, of the fame and the greatness of Henry Clay. He is a cigar. But it would be unwise to cross-examine any Englishman, who may be consuming that luxury at the moment, about the Missouri Compromise or the controversies with Andrew Jackson. And just as the statesman of Kentucky is a cigar, so the state of Virginia is a cigarette. But there is perhaps one exception, or half-exception, to this simple plan. It would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that Plymouth Rock is a chicken. Any English person keeping chickens, and chiefly interested in Plymouth Rocks considered as chickens, would nevertheless have a hazy sensation of having seen the word somewhere before. He would feel subconsciously that the Plymouth Rock had not always been a chicken. Indeed, the name connotes something not only solid but antiquated; and is not therefore a very tactful name for a chicken. There would rise up before him something memorable in the haze that he calls his history; and he would see the history books of his boyhood and old engravings of men in steeple-crowned hats struggling with sea-waves or Red Indians. The whole thing would suddenly become clear to him if (by a simple reform) the chickens were called Pilgrim Fathers.