Quote #5: G.K. Chesterton (1911)

An overall downer tossed with memorable quips:

Everything that collapses, collapses suddenly. When I hear the Evolutionists proving that growth and decay must always be by faint gradations, I can only wonder if they have ever smoked a cigar. If they have, they must surely know how long and solidly a tower of ashes can stand, and how suddenly it ceases. I select the case of cigars because Evolutionists are, as a class, wll off. They would probably know more about cigars than they know about old boots. But the same principle of beautiful abruptness belongs, I believe, to old boots. Experts in poverty (by which I do not mean sociologists, but poor men) have told me that rotten boots will hold together with quite incredible tenacity, as cigar-ashes do. But when the boots really burst they burst like bombs. They are not merely disrupted, but destroyed; there is no doing anything with them at all. Of course, good cigars are consumed slowly and bad boots are consumed carefully; but no care or slowness in the approach makes any difference to the dramatic swiftness of the catastrophe. The beginning of the world may or may not have been evolutionary; but the end of the world won’t be.

Passage from “A Nightmare of Nonsense” published in The Illustrated London News, March 25, 1911.