Chesterton on Self Defense – Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Apostolate of Common Sense

Chesterton on Self Defense


A child’s instinct is almost perfect in the matter of fighting. The child’s hero is always the man or boy who suddenly and splendidly defends himself against aggression.

I am a student of martial-arts and came across this excellent quotation that gets to the heart of the ethics of self-defense. I would appreciate it if you could tell me the context in which this quotation appeared and if you could refer me to any other Chesterton writings or quotations that relate to the ethics of self-defense. Many thanks.

ANSWER: This quotation is to be found in Chesterton’s Illustrated London News essay of October 20, 1906. Originally untitled, it was given the name “Boyhood and Militarism; Literature and Science” in The Collected Works (see volume 27).

The best Chestertonian defense of self-defense may be found in volume 29 (unfortunately out of print) of The Collected Works, in two originally untitled essays now named “Christmas and Disarmament” (January 14, 1911) and “The Causes of War” (January 28, 1911).

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