Father Brown

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the complete Father Brown

This page is for quotations from the Father Brown series of stories, by G. K. Chesterton

Quotes[edit]

The Innocence of Father Brown[edit]

  • “But every clever crime is founded ultimately on some one quite simple fact—some fact that is not itself mysterious. The mystification comes in covering it up, in leading men's thoughts away from it.”
    • Father Brown, The Queer Feet


  • “Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down. The kind man drinks and turns cruel; the frank man kills and lies about it.”
    • Father Brown, The Flying Stars


  • “Have you ever noticed this—that people never answer what you say? They answer what you mean—or what they think you mean”
    • Father Brown, The Invisible Man


  • "Reverend sir," cried Angus, standing still, "are you raving mad, or am I?"

"You are not mad," said Brown, "only a little unobservant.

  • The Invisible Man


  • "Ten false philosophies will fit the universe; ten false theories will fit Glengyle Castle. But we want the real explanation of the castle and the universe."
    • Father Brown, The Honour of Israel Gow


  • "…Oh, let me be silly a little. You don't know how unhappy I have been. And now I know that there has been no deep sin in this business at all. Only a little lunacy, perhaps—and who minds that?"
    • Father Brown, The Honour of Israel Gow


  • "You have to know something of the mind as well as the body," answered the priest; "we have to know something of the body as well as the mind."
    • Father Brown, The Wrong Shape


  • "The modern mind always mixes up two different ideas: mystery in the sense of what is marvellous, and mystery in the sense of what is complicated. That is half its difficulty about miracles. A miracle is startling; but it is simple. It is simple because it is a miracle. It is power coming directly from God (or the devil) instead of indirectly through nature or human wills."
    • Father Brown, The Wrong Shape


  • "I never said it was always wrong to enter fairyland. I only said it was always dangerous."
    • Father Brown, The Sins of Prince Saradine


  • "…Never mind; one can sometimes do good by being the right person in the wrong place."
    • Father Brown, The Sins of Prince Saradine


  • “Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
    • Father Brown, The Hammer of God


  • "How do you know all this?" he cried. "Are you a devil?"

"I am a man," answered Father Brown gravely; "and therefore have all devils in my heart"

  • The Hammer of God


  • "We are taught that if a man has really bad first principles, that must be partly his fault. But, for all that, we can make some difference between a man who insults his quite clear conscience and a man with a conscience more or less clouded with sophistries."
    • Father Brown, The Eye of Apollo


  • After the first silence the small man said to the other:

"Where does a wise man hide a pebble?"
And the tall man answered in a low voice: "On the beach."
The small man nodded, and after a short silence said: "Where does a wise man hide a leaf?"
And the other answered: "In the forest."

  • Father Brown and Flambeau, The Sign of the Broken Sword


  • …when the priest said again:

"Where does a wise man hide a leaf? In the forest. But what does he do if there is no forest?"
"Well, well," cried Flambeau irritably, "what does he do?"
"He grows a forest to hide it in," said the priest in an obscure voice. "A fearful sin."

  • Father Brown and Flambeau, The Sign of the Broken Sword


  • "Oh, I dare say he was honest, as you call it. But what is the good of a man being honest in his worship of dishonesty?"
    • Father Brown, The Sign of the Broken Sword


  • "Private lives are more important than public reputations. I am going to save the living, and let the dead bury their dead."
    • Father Brown, The Three Tools of Death


The Wisdom of Father Brown[edit]

  • "One is never thinking of the real sorrow," said the strange priest. "One can only be kind when it comes."
    • Father Brown, The Paradise of Thieves


  • "There's a disadvantage in a stick pointing straight," answered the other. "What is it? Why, the other end of the stick always points the opposite way. It depends whether you get hold of the stick by the right end."
    • Father Brown, The Mistake of the Machine


  • "No machine can lie," said Father Brown; "nor can it tell the truth."
    • Father Brown, The Mistake of the Machine


  • "What we all dread most," said the priest in a low voice, "is a maze with no centre. That is why atheism is only a nightmare."
    • Father Brown, The Head of Caesar


  • "Mere figure and gait, however distant, are more likely to remind us of somebody than a well-made-up face quite close."
    • Father Brown, The Head of Caesar


  • "If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it."
    • Father Brown, The Purple Wig


  • "Put a feather with a fossil and a bit of coral and everyone will think it's a specimen. Put the same feather with a ribbon and an artificial flower and everyone will think it's for a lady's hat. Put the same feather with an ink-bottle, a book and a stack of writing-paper, and most men will swear they've seen a quill pen. So you saw that map among tropic birds and shells and thought it was a map of Pacific Islands. It was the map of this river."
    • Father Brown, The Perishing of the Pendragons


  • "I was sea-sick," said Father Brown simply. "I felt simply horrible. But feeling horrible has nothing to do with not seeing things."
    • Father Brown, The Perishing of the Pendragons


  • "But consider. The more a man feels lonely the less he can be sure he is alone. It must mean empty spaces round him, and they are just what make him obvious."
    • Father Brown, The God of the Gongs


  • "The more alone he is, the more certain he is to be seen."
    • Father Brown, The God of the Gongs


  • "Real madmen," explained Father Brown, "always encourage their own morbidity. They never strive against it. But you are trying to find traces of the burglar; even when there aren't any. You are struggling against it. You want what no madman ever wants."

"And what is that?"

"You want to be proved wrong," said Brown.

    • Father Brown and Colonel Cray, The Salad of Colonel Cray


  • "We can direct our moral wills; but we can't generally change our instinctive tastes and ways of doing things."
    • Father Brown, The Strange Crime of John Boulnois


  • "There is only one enemy," said Father Brown, "whom it is easier to kill with a dagger than a sword."

"I know," said the woman. "Oneself."

    • Father Brown, The Strange Crime of John Boulnois


  • "...but one often has to choose between feeling a damned fool and being one."
    • Father Brown, The Strange Crime of John Boulnois


  • "Human science can never be quite certain of things like that," said Father Brown, still looking at the red budding of the branches over his head, "if only because of the difficulty about definition and connotation. What is a weapon? People have been murdered with the mildest domestic comforts; certainly with tea-kettles, probably with tea-cosies. On the other hand, if you showed an Ancient Briton a revolver, I doubt if he would know it was a weapon—until it was fired into him, of course."
    • Father Brown, The Fairy Tale of Father Brown