Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He recently gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.
William James, the American philosopher and one of the founders of the school of thought called Pragmatism, delivered a series of lectures in 1906-1907. James began his first lecture as follows:
In the preface to that admirable collection of essays of his called Heretics, Mr. Chesterton writes these words: “There are some people—and I am one of them—who think that the most practical thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether in the long run anything else affects them.” I think with Mr. Chesterton in this matter.
The lectures were published in 1907 under the general title Pragmatism. [Indianapolis: Hackett, 1981, p. 7]