Christianity, Patriotism, and Nationhood: The England of G.K. Chesterton

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  1. Table of Contents: Christianity, patriotism, and nationhood :
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  3. Brief Mentions
  4. G. K. Chesterton

The historian Simon Mayers points out that Chesterton wrote in works such as The Crank , The Heresy of Race , and The Barbarian as Bore against the concept of racial superiority and critiqued pseudo-scientific race theories, saying they were akin to a new religion. His own bones are the sacred relics; his own blood is the blood of St. Mayers also shows that Chesterton portrayed Jews not only as culturally and religiously distinct, but racially as well. In The Feud of the Foreigner he said that the Jew "is a foreigner far more remote from us than is a Bavarian from a Frenchman; he is divided by the same type of division as that between us and a Chinaman or a Hindoo.

He not only is not, but never was, of the same race. In The Everlasting Man , while writing about human sacrifice, Chesterton suggested that medieval stories about Jews killing children might have resulted from a distortion of genuine cases of devil-worship. Chesterton wrote:. The American Chesterton Society has devoted a whole issue of its magazine, Gilbert , to defending Chesterton against charges of antisemitism. Some backing the ideas of eugenics called for the government to sterilise people deemed "mentally defective"; this view did not gain popularity but the idea of segregating them from the rest of society and thereby preventing them from reproducing did gain traction.

These ideas disgusted Chesterton who wrote, "It is not only openly said, it is eagerly urged that the aim of the measure is to prevent any person whom these propagandists do not happen to think intelligent from having any wife or children. That is the situation; and that is the point … we are already under the Eugenist State; and nothing remains to us but rebellion. He derided such ideas as founded on nonsense, "as if one had a right to dragoon and enslave one's fellow citizens as a kind of chemical experiment". Chesterton also mocked the idea that poverty was a result of bad breeding: "[it is a] strange new disposition to regard the poor as a race; as if they were a colony of Japs or Chinese coolies … The poor are not a race or even a type.

It is senseless to talk about breeding them; for they are not a breed. They are, in cold fact, what Dickens describes: 'a dustbin of individual accidents,' of damaged dignity, and often of damaged gentility.


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Chesterton is often associated with his close friend, the poet and essayist Hilaire Belloc. Though they were very different men, they shared many beliefs; [59] Chesterton eventually joined Belloc in the Catholic faith, and both voiced criticisms of capitalism and socialism.

Table of Contents: Christianity, patriotism, and nationhood :

Catholicism portal. Chesterton's fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood compare to the Precautionary principle. In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox.

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road.

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The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. English mystery novelist and Christian apologist. See also: G. Aquinas , Scotus , and Ockham. Renaissance and Modern. Adler G. Main article: G. Chesterton bibliography. Watts," The Bookman, January Wells and the Giants," The Bookman, December II, No.

XLI, CXLV, No. CL, No. I, No. Glass," McClure's Magazine, November CLIV, No. CLIX, No. CIV, No. XIV, No. XV, No. XV, January CXVI, No. Shaw," The Living Age, July VIII, No. Chesterton, the Eccentric Prince of Paradox". Christianity Today. Retrieved 8 July Frederick Muller Ltd. The world never fails to appreciate the combination when it is well done; even evangelicals sometimes give the impression of bestowing a waiver on deviations if a man is enough of a genius.

Spartacus Educational. A Debate between G. American Chesterton Society.

Retrieved 21 May Chesterton January, ". Clarence Darrow digital collection.

Slavoj Zizek - Political Christianity

University of Minnesota Law School. Archived from the original on 21 May Literary Humour. Mumbai: St Paul's Books. Mulliner , Barrie and Jenkins, p. Catholic Authors. Zenit: The World Seen from Rome. Archived from the original on 15 June Retrieved 18 October The Lectionary. Charles Wohlers. Chesterton as Theologian. Philadelphia: The American Ethical Union, pp. Chesterton a Theologian? Bernard Shaw Vol 2. Chesterton to the Editor. The Nation, 18 March The Marconi Scandal. Bloomsbury Publishing. Endelman The Jews of Britain, to Literary Giants, Literary Catholics.

San Francisco: Ignatius Press. Chesterton The Everlasting Man. Mineola, NY: Dover publications. Chesterton Anti-Semitic? Eugenics and Other Evils. XXVI, No. Chesterton and Mr. Hilaire Belloc. London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd. Michael Collins: A Life. London, England: Mainstream Publishing. Chapter 2. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Treasure in Clay. God and Intelligence. IVE Press. Cambridge, Mass. Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, p. Chesterton to open in Highland Park , United States Chicago: highlandpark suntimes, 19 March , archived from the original on 25 May , retrieved 25 May Murder in the Mummy's Tomb: A G.

Chesterton Mystery. An English-speaking Hymnal Guide. GIA publications. This is in the wake of devolution within the United Kingdom and growing pressure to establish an English parliament to match the powers of the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies; also, concern to enhance consciousness of and commitment to British nationhood more widely. What were his specific goals and interests in bringing England out of the shadow of empire and the Union? In what sense, if any, can he be described as countercultural in doing so?

Did he reject entirely the wider national and imperial frameworks with which the English patria had become entangled? What exactly did he find behind the veils of Britain and the British Empire? What was left once—in his terms—a vibrant English comradeship in faith, ale, and arms had been destroyed by a succession of heretics, teetotallers, and pacifists over the centuries?

How constant was his faith in the English people and his conception of their character across the four decades of his literary career? How exclusive was his understanding of nationhood in general and English nationhood in particular, especially in the light of his anti-Semitism? What was the relationship between the peculiar nature of both English patriotism and English nation- Introduction 5 hood in his view?

What revisions in the historiography of English history and conception of the past did he make in order to accommodate the ideals and identities he associated with England? How tied to the travails of Edwardian Liberalism was his understanding of patriotism and his championship of England?

In eventually pressing the cause of England against Liberalism, did he abandon Liberalism in the wider, non-party sense, as many of his Liberal critics maintained? In doing so, it gives particular attention to the largest part of his literary output: his journalism. There are obvious links between his patriotism and his journalistic vocation. This insistence mirrored his sense of the distinctiveness of national boundaries—cultural more than physical—and in turn the highly structured nature of the cosmos more widely.

Throughout his life, Chesterton addressed his readers primarily through the short essay, seeking to persuade and instruct rather than merely amuse; reporting, as Peter Milward has emphasized, was well outside his journalistic brief. An essayist, to be acceptable, companionable, must come nearer to the mood of the reader.

Some of this output was absorbed into books of essays published during his lifetime and after his death; other parts provided the basis of studies such as Heretics and Orthodoxy Even most of the literary biographies for which he is perhaps best remembered—along with the Father Brown detective stories—were prompted by earlier reviews of books on their subjects. This has left much of his political and cultural commentary in the shadows. Chesterton, editorial contextualization of the column is lacking.

Chesterton maintained that English patriotism—and indeed any patriotism worthy of the name—is best enhanced by consciousness of national weakness and vulnerability rather than strength. This provides the focus of chapters 4 and 5. A similar response underpinned his enduring concern for the maintenance of cultural authenticity, the subject matter of chapter 6. It seeks to define the relationship between these two prominent features of his thought.

In attempting to draw the outlines of English nationhood in all their obscurity and in some ways fragility, how well did Chesterton succeed in enhancing consciousness of, and attachment to, England conceived thus? This includes the crucial period of the First World War when his ideals of English nationhood acquired new force and form, as will be seen in chapters 7 and 8, only to receive fresh challenges after These new challenges centered on internationalism and authoritarian forms of nationalism against the complacency with which the Liberal nation and progress were associated in the nineteenth century.

This chapter also considers assessments of his work at the time of, and immediately after, his death, including the antiSemitism that figured in his writings and which was perceived as antithetical to the Englishness he sought to exalt. This also locates the core of his patriotic ideal in his interest in William Cobbett.

For Chesterton was searching simultaneously for England beneath what he perceived as multiple layers of concealment, denial, and mistaken identity in the early twentieth century. In this respect its travails mirrored those of Christianity, obscured as it was by a morass of counterfeit religions and ethical systems. Indeed, it is the contention here that an ancestral disposition toward patriotism was instrumental in guiding him to the Christian fold, one that he then sought to justify and strengthen in Christian terms. Henceforth, his patriotism, Englishness, and Christianity became mutually dependent and reinforcing.

What was the precise relationship between Christianity and patriotism in his eyes? How did their respective language and ideals interact in his intellectual development and become Introduction 9 closely intertwined, particularly with regard to, and in turn through his conception of, English nationhood? What relevance, if any, does Chesterton have to the heavily secularized debate concerning the future of England and Englishness today? NOTES 1. See the selected reviews in Denis J. Conlon, ed. See, for example, the letter to Chesterton dated 25 February from the jurist, A.

See also the letter dated 25 February by the author and fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge A. Benson, following a recent visit by Chesterton to the college. Notable exceptions are John D. Chesterton London: The Claridge Press, , However, this neglects the creative nature of the engagement between individuals and their various milieus and the consequent enrichment of their thought, never more so than in the case of Chesterton.

As will be discussed in chapter 5, Coates has drawn attention to this shortcoming of the historiography of the Edwardian period in appraising Geoffrey R. See chapter 9. ILN, 26 May , However, an important exception is John H. Grainger, Patriotisms: Britain, — London: Routledge, , ch. The Neolith 1 November : 1—2; reprinted in CP, — This article was written on St. Corrin, G. Chesterton: The Critical Judgments, McQuilland became a friend and ally of Chesterton in the battle against secularism and cosmopolitanism, but one who defended a staunch Irish faith and nationalism under modernist cover: Autobiography, in CW XVI San Francisco: Ignatius Press, , He was a contributor to The New Witness and literary editor of G.

Conlon ed. Lunacy and Letters, ed. It appears from her foreword that only some eighty essays out of six hundred contributions to The Daily News—the newspaper from which the selection had been compiled—had been republished at the time the book went to press. Chesterton published by Ignatius Press. Despite the definitive status of these two works in Chesterton scholarship, they suffer in three respects. The first is the self-centeredness of the author, a family friend of Gilbert and Frances Chesterton, and, relatedly, a certain sanctimoniousness that can be—and was when the former work, certainly, was first published—off-putting: see reviews in BL Add MS.

A third shortcoming is inadequate referencing. More generally, they are exercises in hagiography. Autobiography, The reprinting has been completed up to at the time of writing. ILN, 24 August , It was as much the pubs as the landscape that drew Chesterton—and Belloc—to Sussex; a memorable article in The Illustrated London News took its point of departure from the scene at a Sussex Inn: see chapter 6, Sussex, like the Middle Ages and the notion of a downtrodden people, featured prominently in his myth-making about England.

He believed fervently in the importance of such endeavor to the individuality of artists and writers, castigating aesthetes such as George Moore for their illusions otherwise.

Brief Mentions

While his religion, politics, and literary criticism were tightly bound up with his character and temperament, these were in turn shaped by close interaction with the intellectual, artistic, and spiritual currents of his formative years. Its onset followed an exhilarating childhood in West Kensington, on the cusp of a late adolescence when he was in his final years at St.

It continued into the period of drift and agitated reflection that followed at the Slade School of Art, putting paid to 13 14 Chapter 1 any future he might have had as an artist. An upbringing on approximately Unitarian lines made its full, agnostic impact upon him while he attended the Slade from January until This was in the context of the spiritual void that, as it seemed to him, Unitarianism and other rationalist creeds had merely confirmed in rejecting the doctrines of Christian revelation while simultaneously reacting against the scientific naturalism of the second half of the nineteenth century.

As Dudley Barker has pointed out, the effect of the Decadence on Chesterton was exacerbated by loneliness. This was engendered by the absence of his school friends, and the contrast between the richness of student life in Oxford conveyed in their letters and the emptiness he experienced at the Slade as art took new, and in his view, disturbing directions. Absent from the latter was any sense of the reality of devils, the temptations of which he had experienced, if never acted upon, and which he expressed in his early art and attempts at fiction-writing.

From a distance they encouraged his ambition to write rather than draw for a living. It is surely time. Oxford is waiting. He retained this position until ,17 the year he began writing for The Daily News. A wisdom worthy of thy joy, O great heart, read I as I ran; Now, though men smite me on the face, I cannot curse the face of man. I loved the man I saw to-day Who knocked not when he came with alms. With Bentley he shared his early despair at this development, and more importantly his opposing sense of wonder in existence, his own especially; he also shared his hopes, framed as they were by the notion of a cosmos imbued with goodness.

It is like the benediction at the end of the service. Looms and pulleys are spinning Levers and tools are shrieking Make, as in the beginning Thou madst heaven and earth. Work, labor, and the laboring class in particular become symbols of defiance against the spiritual chaos of a crumbling religious universe, and the sole title to human worth. Yet laugh not aloud, ye mighty, nor triumph nor pass us on, For the High God heareth for ever the voice of the work we have done.

One of his early exercise books contains notes from articles he had read in The Nineteenth Century, including two by the Russian anarchist Prince Kropotkin in To deny revolution because it involved fighting was to fly in the face of that permanent ideal. Maisie Ward recounts how the Conservative Oldershaws cautioned their son against imbibing the doctrines with which the Chestertons were associated. However, if the Chesterton home was far from being a hotbed of Radicalism, Chesterton was careful to exonerate his paternal ancestors from the grasping attitude toward money and the philistine tastes popularly associated with the Victorian middle class.

As the focus of Englishness broadened out from the language to literature in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Brooke and others played a key role in compiling canonical texts. But, like Edward Chesterton, he affirmed and upheld a code of business conduct as a matter of class pride. The corruption of citizenship by class seemed painfully obvious by Creeds and Identities 21 this time in the call by the journalist and dramatist George R. His mother, Marie Louise Grosjean, receives scant mention, merely to emphasize her ancestry in Scotland and the French-speaking part of Switzerland, an ancestry that was most apparent—he thought—in physical characteristics dark coloring and temperament.

The latter, marked by tenacity, prejudice, and pugnacity, was chiefly inherited by his brother, Cecil. In one of his early Daily News articles, he used the example of his immediate forefathers to underline an instinctive English identity and attachment that went back centuries. Had he not been writing under pressure, he would surely have mentioned the Welsh archers at Agincourt, too. The tensions in his non-essentialist language of nationhood will be discussed in chapter 6.

Of significance here is the fact that he revered his ancestors as exemplary but by no means unrepresentative patriots of their time, and throughout English history generally. In his autobiography he applauded the good-tempered jingoism of his grandfather as a point of personal honor to him, lustily singing the dignified patriotic songs of the era of Waterloo and Trafalgar.

He believed that these songs were quite unlike the vulgar lyrics that were heard in the music halls following Mafeking night. It certainly conforms well to the recent historiography of Liberalism. Jonathan Parry has shown how a common English-British patriotism was reinforced through the importance of foreign affairs in British politics in the era between the First and Second Reform Acts. Liberals, Liberal Tories, and Radicals were instrumental in this development, exploiting the successes of the Crimean War, the nationalist movement in Italy, and the problem of continental autocracy in the form of Napoleon III.

Assertions of the unique centrality of liberty and constitutionalism to the British nation, particularly through their projection onto a world stage in the heyday of British power, enabled the Liberal party to connect with the people ideologically. This was especially so following the repeal of the Corn Laws and despite the elite constitution of the party before These were deeply rooted in consciousness of a national past that was English rather than British, and with a strong popular inflection, too.

In two seminal articles Paul Readman has unearthed much new evidence of enhanced patriotic interests and activities at this time in which individuals were not merely passive spectators or members of a crowd but active participants. All these phenomena served to situate the national community in continuous historical time while mediating national sentiment by local loyalties. Onto these he superimposed his own cultural ideals: Englishness, Christianity, local patriotism, and the purity of the past relative to the present.

A case in point was the threat to the Haslemere Charter Fair in For Chesterton, this was clearly at the expense of his Christianity and Englishness. Readman suggests that the crystallization of a popular sense of English identity in this period was a response to the challenge of widespread economic, political, and social change and the search for stability and roots with which to negotiate the future. It was a basis that was at once communal in a national sense, yet, at the same time, accessible on individual terms; the corruption of patriotism en masse was something he associated with Imperialism, as would also seem to be implicit in the wider emphasis on the past in English culture that formed the backdrop to his thought.

That backdrop also helps to make sense of his emphasis on the eternal and authentically English quality of the patriotism he embraced, uncomplicated by the different racial strains that were evident in the national genes. Turning the argument against Shaw, he suggested that the question was not, as Shaw supposed, whether my maternal great grandfather having come from Switzerland unfits me to be a member of this nation. But it was increasingly apparent to him that Liberalism was failing in this duty, deserting the imperatives of nineteenth-century nationalism and patriotism for more specious varieties in the early twentieth century and betraying its own ideals 26 Chapter 1 in the process.

This realization shaped the patriotic offensive with which he began his journalistic career and left an indelible mark upon his thought thereafter. Shaw and Edward Carpenter in seeking to counteract the cultural ascendancy of science; ibid. Despite his criticism of the Decadents, Chesterton nonetheless paid tribute to the book.

See chapter 3, Charles Dickens London: Methuen, , 19— Chesterton: A Biography London: Constable, , 51— Chesterton Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, , Lawrence Soloman—writing from his family home in rural Berkshire during one of his school vacations—reassured Chesterton that he was not alone; Soloman to Chesterton [? Some of this art and fiction was published in The Coloured Lands, ed. Oldershaw to Chesterton [], BL. Add MS , folio Stone Dale, The Outline of Sanity, Barker, G. Chesterton, Lawrence Soloman was not so fortunate. We had not to look back on summer joys, Or forward to a summer of bright dye; But in the largeness of the evening earth Our spirits grew as we went side by side.

The hour became her husband, and my bride. Still, Chesterton held Meredith in high regard, particularly as compared to Hardy. While pitting humanity against nature and nature against God, Meredith was at least an optimist, albeit a rational one. Chesterton wrote of his triumph in the publication of the poem to his friend, Lawrence Soloman, who duly congratulated him.

Chesterton had taken some trouble to trace two earlier articles by the same author in the journal. He acknowledged later in life that the revolutionary spirit tends quickly toward ossification, and nowhere more so than in the realm of art. He wrote incisively of this trend in French and Russian art immediately after the revolutions in and respectively, although emphasizing the latter as by far the worst case; ILN, 6 May , The coterie extended to aspiring journalists and politicians such as Charles Masterman and Radical clergymen such as Conrad Noel, both of whom became close political friends and literary collaborators; Autobiography, — O quenchless, indispensable fire!

Shut Not Your Doors. Creeds and Identities 29 Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, See his strictures upon the alien nature of modern art in England—not least that of his co-religionist, Eric Gill—for rejecting the Renaissance tradition that defined English national art.

Heretics ; London: John Lane, , — ILN, 26 January , In in The Tribune he had launched his tirade against the tax burden shouldered by the lowermiddle classes in the new world of social reform pushed forward by labor interests and spearheaded by the state. ILN, 25 August , He is a bibliophile, naked and not ashamed. In this restless and realistic century, there is something which recalls arcadia in Palestine in the extent to which he has brought the too much neglected art of wasting time. Another of his virtues and the one most noticeable in this book, is his catholic taste in literature.

Jonathan P. ILN, 25 July , ILN, 9 July , Moved by ideals of democratic reform and inclusive citizenship, progressive Liberals with a strong literary bent were especially alive to the new opportunities that the press afforded for disseminating Liberal values and opinions. They sought to engage their readers in the discussion of public issues and, like the editor of The Manchester Guardian, C. It was grounded in polemical commentary upon contemporary literature, drama, poetry, and art as well as politics. Through such means he engaged with a multitude of voices and opinions, all of them in his view of the highest significance.

His receptiveness was due not just to an inveterate democratic belief in the value of all contributions; in circumstances rich in potential for publicity and hence widespread error, he attached the utmost importance to subjecting all arguments and beliefs to the closest scrutiny. His method was one of exhaustive examination of their strengths, concluding with fatal exposure of their weaknesses. It was thinking he couched in clear Liberal terms, although already with a pronounced sense of being in a minority among fellow Liberals in the new century, intent as the majority were upon the exclusion of opponents from the Liberal project: The truth is that we conquer a thing exactly in so far as we appreciate all its merits.

As long as we leave one merit unconsidered, that merit will swell and rise against us and cast us down. But nothing can stay the advance of the man who admires all the virtues of his enemy. The foolish notion still lingers, even among Liberals, that victory goes to the fanatic. It is false; victory goes to the universalist, for in sound, strategic phraseology, he surrounds his enemy.

The true Liberal conquers all men because he includes them all. However, the divergence here is only superficial: both the style and substance of his argument were informed by strong Liberal Journalism and the Patriotic Cosmos 33 democratic commitments that found the sharpest focus in patriotism. The present chapter and the one that follows examine the influence of patriotism in shaping his religious and political thought on symmetrical and convergent planes; further, it projects this endeavor as part of a concerted attempt to broaden the sphere of Liberal discourse at the turn of the twentieth century through engaging with the stream of ideas that flowed through the channels of Edwardian journalism.

Not only did this event sensitize him to the importance of differentiation at a variety of cosmic levels, it also sowed the first seeds of suspicion that all was not well with the English patria, the questionable integrity of English journalism being the first symptom of a wider national malaise. This group—headed by F. Hirst, John Simon, and Hilaire Belloc—had taken up their offensive in a collection of essays entitled Essays on Liberalism published in Hammond, the Liberal weekly became a platform for the denunciation of a foreign policy that pursued power and Imperialist expansion, and neglected national well-being at home as a result.

On the one hand, this was directed against those who rejected patriotism tout court on account of its association with militarism and Imperialism; on the other, it targeted those who manipulated patriotism for their own Imperialist ends. As such, The Speaker became a magnet for a breed of educated Liberals such as L. Hobhouse, J. Hobson, and H. Fisher, bent on rescuing England from the moral ignominy of an Imperialist war. They shared an antipathy toward philosophical Idealism—the reigning philosophy of Oxford during their university years—as strongly implicated in the policy of subjugation, especially through its emphasis on opposites merging into a higher unity.

Green15—as central to the disregard for small nations at the heart of Imperialism. Chesterton continued to write for The Speaker until it merged with The Nation in He recalled in his Autobiography that he owed an immense debt to the paper. He had written a few reviews of art books in The Bookman before; this resulted from his friendship with Ernest Hodder Williams—whose family owned the journal—while attending the English lectures delivered by W. Ker at University College London after his departure from the Slade.

It is true that Chesterton was not entirely at one with fellow contributors to The Speaker. We must be more than a political party or we shall cease to be one. Time and again in history victory has come to a little party with big ideas: but can anyone conceive anything with the mark of death more on its brow than a little party with little ideas?

Some such appreciation may have been the reason why he abandoned the letter. In particular, his Speaker connection provided the basis on which he began writing reviews for The Daily News in January Only gradually did he move away from the literary review as his principal framework for commentary. While he was a regular contributor, the interval between his contributions varied during the first two years of his association with the newspaper. After a five-month hiatus from February —during which the newspaper settled down under A.

Gardiner after successive changes of editor and conflict within the new management over the direction of Liberal Party policy—his articles resumed. They fell away again in January and February , only to be reestablished in March Not least, this resulted from the constraint that he alone among Daily News journalists was under to refrain from criticizing the government. As a result, his employment on the Liberal daily with the largest circulation—which increased fivefold during the years of his association32—became unsustainable.

He attacked not just the aesthetes themselves—for example, J. Whistler, Wilde, and Henley—a reaction that will be considered in more detail in the following chapter; he also challenged their legacy in art and literary criticism. It will be helpful to summarize the creed he developed in Browning as a basis for understanding the steps by which he gained his early philosophical and religious footing through literary biography, although never in isolation from contemporary politics.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the beliefs Chesterton set down in Browning was a concern to develop an expansive form of Liberalism as artistic and religious as well as political in nature. He believed that this was exemplified perfectly in the work of Browning, whose unique achievement Chesterton portrayed as harnessing together individuality, nationhood, liberty, and a staunch affirmation of the existence of God.

If Chesterton was somewhat carried away here it was by his belief that Browning was at one with the age following the French Revolution. At the same time, he never called the sanctity of individuals into question. Characteristically, the interpretation was eccentric.

In his view, The Yellow Book—house-journal of the aesthetes—had combined with the yellow press to banish ideas and ideals with explosive potential for good, underlining the essentially conservative direction in which the search for cultural and political novelty had flowed at both its elite and popular ends. He believed that the unsettling, destabilizing critique more characteristic of French and Irish journalism, however lacking in truth, was quite foreign to large parts of the new journalism, and England suffered accordingly. A rejuvenated popular press would be its chief instrument.

It is equally visible in his early defense of Christianity against his atheist and pantheist critics. It was certainly at the heart of his Catholicism. In The Thing , he remarked that for Catholics, it is a fundamental dogma of the Faith that all human beings, without any exception whatever, were specially made, were shaped and pointed like shining arrows, for the end of hitting the mark of Beatitude.

It is true that the shafts are feathered with free will; and that the Church having also been aware for ages of that darker side of truth, which the new sceptics have just discovered does also draw attention to the darkness of that potential tragedy. But that does not make any difference to the gloriousness of the potential glory.

In one aspect it is even a part of it; since the freedom is itself a glory. Whenever we put a picture in a frame, we are acting upon that primeval truth which is the value of small nationalities. Wherever we write or read with pleasure the story of a man living adventurously and happily upon an island, we have hold of the truth which broke the Roman Empire, and will always break Imperialism.

But it took a decade and more of growing anti-German feeling in Britain, and most of all the First World War, for Chesterton to concede the Roman focus of the earliest patriotism in England, at least, well preceding the birth of English patriotism proper. From the standpoint of Art in those days, even that flag was a much too Moral emblem.

The undifferentiated whole that blighted the imagination of assorted rationalists, decadents, and pantheists had also pervaded the realm of politics. This was especially evident in the Fabian passion for organization, as much a threat to individuality as the individualism it sought to supplant. Chesterton took the opportunity of a review of H.

These expressed the right to liberty, the magic circle round each man of a narrow godhead, an imperfect omnipotence. Utopia may ignore this need; but Utopia will not destroy it. It will certainly destroy Utopia. As the nihilistic extreme of the modernist battle against custom and convention, the anarchist was important to Chesterton for dispelling the illusion that cosmopolitans had the superior moral edge over patriots.

The critical factor was the high sense of national morale in France, which Belloc implicitly linked to the continued strength of religion there. What a people are these Frogs! Homogeneous, amiable, powerful, joyous, tragic—they are Europe. And always my mind goes back to your green island, battered ignominiously, squalid, helpless, waiting and waiting for God.

However, this entailed some instruction in the place of patriotism in the cosmic order of things, and the disorder created by opposing political schemes. However, not content with this most basic of cosmic separations, he sought to apply the metaphor of boundaries throughout the human world. As well as anarchists, Chesterton targeted Imperialists and a wider breed of cosmopolitans and internationalists he never distinguished the two. The mark of the Imperialist proper was contempt rather than pity for humanity in actively seeking to obliterate its multitudinous divisions.

Mill and Matthew Arnold, for whom flexibility and restraint over expressions of national identity and pride were essential in realising its humanitarian goals. The interdict on public displays of patriotism in England in the spiritual realm where it mattered most had no counterpart elsewhere in Europe; in addition to national pride in arms and conquest, France extolled her tradition of letters, and Germany the virtues of German culture.

It is clear from his autobiography that a cataclysmic event in his own personal history, one that brought a disposition to think in terms of boundaries to the surface of his mind, was the Jameson Raid of He recalled its shattering effect on his political beliefs as they had developed hitherto, a loose combination of Socialism and Imperialism held without any real depth of conviction and alongside a subconscious yearning to escape their clutches. To complacency and hypocrisy was added the sin of sophistry as politicians attempted to conceal a blatant act of slavery by comparing the workers with soldiers.

This he expressed in a note to the second edition of the volume in , although on what grounds he did not make clear. His suspicions certainly predated his first meeting with Belloc in the summer of , whose antiSemitic influence is commonly assumed to be the main force behind his volte-face.

Poor Dreyfus may have been innocent; not so innocent as I had been. Macleod, Liberalism and Letters, Introduction.

Hampton makes no reference to The Daily News. However he contributed articles much earlier, in the editions of 28 April on Ruskin , 23 June on Grant Allen , and 29 October on the Anglican Church. Hilaire Belloc, John L. Hammond, et al. John D. Green and his Age ; Bristol: Thoemmes Press, , — Although he never made clear his differences, it is conceivable that the emphasis of Holland et al. This difference is clear in his thinly disguised account of the takeover of The Speaker in ILN, 29 September , Liberal Journalism and the Patriotic Cosmos 49 Koss, Fleet Street Radical, ch.

There is an undated letter from Chesterton to Gardiner, but written while he was finishing his book on Browning published in May , responding warmly to the suggestion that he might contribute to The Daily News on a weekly basis. However, he declined to commit himself until he had cleared his existing workload; Gardiner-Chesterton correspondence, British Library of Political and Economic Science. Koss, Fleet Street Radical, Coates, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis, 66— Chesterton was not given any further books on religion for review.

Nisbet, , introduced by J. Bowen and me.

G. K. Chesterton

Coates suggests that this was due to the role Gardiner assigned to Chesterton as representing his lighter, non-political side that he felt he could not express as editor; Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis, For the literary debate on Browning—much of it centered on the vexed question of the relationship of religion to his poetry—that would have prompted this article, see Waller, Writers, Readers, and Reputations, —9. At this time, and despite his High Church connections, he was still far from being an orthodox Christian, refraining from asserting the divinity of Christ in his famous controversy with the atheist and Socialist, Robert Blatchford; Dudley Barker, G.

Chesterton: A Biography London: Constable, , Browning London: Macmillan, , — On the Blatchford controversy, see David J. Chesterton and C. Lewis: The Riddle of Joy, eds. Michael H. MacDonald and Andrew A. Tadie Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, , — Ker, The Catholic Reviva1, 79, 86, 88— Ker, The Catholic Revival, On Stephen, see J.

Lucien Oldershaw London: R. Brimley Johnson, , 16—17 my italics. See chapter 4. See chapter 8. Twelve Types, , , Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson, ; Robert L. Autobiography, — Actually, his early embrace of Socialism had been rather more positive than his later account would suggest. Francis, Robert Burney? Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 74— Chesterton had remonstrated with one erstwhile Liberal who had voted Conservative in the election that a sense of patriotism could inform either support for, or opposition to the war.

By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Stapleton, J. This book links the concepts of patriotism, Christianity, and nationhood in the journalistic writings of G. Chesterton and emphasizes their roots within the English attachments that were central to his political and spiritual persona. It further connects Chesterton to the vibrant debate about English national identity in the early years of the twentieth century, which was instrumental in shaping not only his political convictions, but also his religious convictions.

Christianity, Patriotism and Nationhood explores his changing conception of the English people from an early, menacing account of their revolutionary potential in the face of plutocracy to the more complex portraits he drew of their character on recognizing their political passivity after the First World War.