QUESTION: I would like to use the following Chesterton quote in a book I am co-writing on Catholic Home Education. However I cannot find the original source. I would greatly appreciate any help that you could give me.
To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.
ANSWER: This passage is from the chapter entitled “The Emancipation of Domesticity” from Chesterton’s 1910 classic What’s Wrong with the World. We urge anyone interested in defending or explaining home schooling to read this masterpiece (which reads as though it were written last week). The book is available from The American Chesterton Society.
A small point, but note that Chesterton says “boots” where your quotation had “sheets.”