Evil Friendships in History

Not long before his widely lamented death on 14 June 1936, G.K. Chesterton had published a fresh collection of his essays, entitled As I Was Saying, an anthology expressing some of his well-pondered judgments after his fourteen fertile and grateful years as a Roman Catholic.1

In his essay, “About Shamelessness,” Chesterton is especially concerned with the leveling and homogenizing effects of certain institutions and fashionable trends of modern society and culture, especially the leveling effects of the State Schools in England—to include their gradual extirpation of the variety of differentiated Country Dialects. After first mentioning the desirable matter of preserving these manifold dialects of England, he will go on to deeper things of good taste, manners and morals, and thereby prepare us better to receive what he also earnestly tries to convey in his trenchant essay, “About Voltaire,” which is also about Pontius Pilate and Herod, and one of Voltaire’s cynical and sneering “Teutonic friends,” the highly cultured and atheistical Frederick the Great of Prussia.

1G.K. Chesterton, As I Was Saying (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1936). This collection, also published in 1936 in London by Methuen & Company, contains 228 pages of text, in 36 varied chapters (individual essays), with all chapter-titles beginning with “About”—from “About Mad Metaphors” to “About Royal Weddings.” The current essay proposes to consider and counterpoint only two of these essays, one entitled “About Shamelessness” and the other “About Voltaire”—which essays are to be found in Chapters VI (pp. 37-42) and IX (pp. 55-61), respectively. All future page citations will be to the 1936 American Edition of As I Was Saying, and placed in parentheses in the main body of the text above. Moreover, all bold or italicized emphases in the text will be my own, and not Chesterton’s, unless otherwise specifically indicated.

Click here to VIEW full size, DOWNLOAD as PDF file, and/or PRINT.