The Defendant: Essays
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In this hodgepodge of early musings, a young G. K. Chesterton operates under the conceit that many objects in the human purview—ranging from the humdrum and mundane to the outright ridiculous—could use the advocacy of a good apologist every once in a while. This lively book, filled with essays from Chesterton’s days as a budding journalist for the Speaker, vindicates everything from skeletons to detective stories, from patriotism to penny dreadfuls. An ardent defender of the indefensible, Chesterton earns his reputation as the “prince of paradox” in The Defendant and reminds us why he is often regarded as one of the greatest moral thinkers of his age.
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had the good fortune to live in a world in which the sky was green and the grass blue, the symbolism would have been different. But for some mysterious reason this habit of realizing poetically the facts of science has ceased abruptly with scientific progress, and all the confounding portents preached by Galileo and Newton have fallen on deaf ears. They painted a picture of the universe compared with which the Apocalypse with its falling stars was a mere idyll. They declared that we are all
we say, certain real advantages in pictorial symbols, and one of them is that everything that is pictorial suggests, without naming or defining. There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect. Men do not quarrel about the meaning of sunsets; they never dispute that the hawthorn says the best and wittiest thing about the spring. Thus in the old aristocratic days there existed this vast pictorial symbolism of all the colours and degrees of aristocracy. When the
moons and white elephants, of men losing their heads, and men whose tongues run away with them—a whole chaos of fairy tales. A DEFENCE OF BABY WORSHIP The two facts which attract almost every normal person to children are, first, that they are very serious, and, secondly, that they are in consequence very happy. They are jolly with the completeness which is possible only in the absence of humour. The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes
contemplation of his Turkey carpet as by such dehumanized and naked narrative as this. Among these stories there are a certain number which deal sympathetically with the adventures of robbers, outlaws and pirates, which present in a dignified and romantic light thieves and murderers like Dick Turpin and Claude Duval. That is to say, they do precisely the same thing as Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe,’ Scott’s ‘Rob Roy,’ Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake,’ Byron’s ‘Corsair,’ Wordsworth’s ‘Rob Roy’s Grave,’ Stevenson’s
not quite as bad, are the statues of English politicians in Parliament Fields. Each of them is cased in a cylindrical frock-coat, and each carries either a scroll or a dubious-looking garment over the arm that might be either a bathing towel or a light great-coat. Each of them is in an oratorical attitude, which has all the disadvantage of being affected without even any of the advantages of being theatrical. Let no one suppose that such abortions arise merely from technical demerit. In every