QUESTION: In the 1992 film “Peter’s Friends” one of the characters quotes Chesterton. It was something about being dropped down a chimney randomly and trying to get along with the people in the house. I have been looking for the correct wording and the source of this quotation. Can you help?
ANSWER: “The best way that man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.” Although the line is misquoted somewhat in the movie, the idea is the same. It’s from Chesterton’s wonderful essay, “On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family,” from his 1905 book Heretics, an essay every one should read in a book everyone should read.