You may have noticed, if you read this blog quite often, that I have a a great love for G.K.Chesterton and an even greater love for his wife Frances. I have heard there is a what-do-you-call-it for them both to be canonised, and I look forward to the day when we can attend Mass at the church of SS Gilbert and Frances 🙂
There was something endearingly quirky about G.K.Chesterton, that probably required some considerable patience from Frances. His absent mindedness meant that he would often set off to go somewhere and forget where he was going and need some direction from his good wife. She was also in the habit od receiving phone calls from bookshop owners telling her that Mr. Chesterton had wandered off with a book. She would see to it that it was paid for.
G.K.C was famously late for his wedding having stopped off along the way to by a gun in order that he might be armed for the protection of his wife. He never used the weapon but he wanted his wife to know he was there for her, should she need him. Perhaps in reading his non-fiction books we can miss the lovely romantic nature he had, but I do think his Father Brown stories allow it more expression.
You can read this biography from Maisie Ward (ebook) the wife of another great writer Frank Sheed.
Chesterton’s life is a fascinating roller coaster of intellectual experience. He is famous for saying “The devil made me Catholic,” His most famous book Orthodoxy tells of his journey from nihilistic atheism to ‘orthodox belief’. He says he had tried to invent some sort of belief system that was more rational and reasonable than the hole he was in – and discovered that in seeking truth, it was already there. Apparently he wrote orthodoxy before he was received into the Catholic Church, but no one reading it could doubt for a moment that he would end up swimming the Tiber.
Pack your Kindle or MP3 player with Dale Ahlquist’s brilliant series’ The Apostle of Common Sense.
Then grab that kindle or whatever and go on a download spree at Gutenberg – and then try and find time to read all that. If that’s a challenge there are these audio versions, which are well read. Eugenics and other Evils is a book that has a lot to say to us. Sad really when you think how long ago it was written.
I think Chesterton was one of those rare people, a true innocent. He may have had his head in the clouds sometimes but Frances in her gentle patient way kept him grounded. It was a deep pain to them that they were never blessed with children, and perhaps this pain sharpened his understanding of the true value of children, so that he did not understand why the culture treated children so shoddily and wanted rid of them. While the eugenists Marie Stopes and across the pond Margaret Sanger were busy putting an end to babies, the Chestertons looked on the treasury of children and supported the work of Charlotte Mason instead.
Having lived through the absolute horror of the First World War, God was merciful to His loving son and took him Home on the eve of the next war.
Gilbert and Frances ora pro nobis.