Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Fat Man in America

So he went to America.

He was amused by Americans, by their innocence and their amusements, by their seriousness and by their religiosity, by their billboards and their bright lights. On applying for a Visa, he was asked, in the American style of the day, "Are you a polygamist?" He wanted to answer, "No such luck!" or "Not such a fool!", but American seriousness admitted neither. He deemed the American Declaration of Independence a declaration of faith--that all men are equal--rather than a declaration of evidence. And he was most amused, or rather not amused, by the ban on alcohol--"In short, it has long been recognised that America was an asylum. It was only during Prohibition that it looked a little like a lunatic asylum." Speaking of American hotels: "It was called the Biltmore; and I wondered how many national humorists had made the obvious comment of wishing they had built less." Such was the Fat Man in America!

1 comment:

Albertus M said...

A few years ago, I had the good fortune of speaking with a priest (Father Joseph Fulton, OP, now in Heaven) who told me of when he heard Chesterton speak in Seattle, back in the 1930's. (This was at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion, at the University of Washington.)

Fr. Fulton said it was pretty much what you would have expected: Chesterton would sometimes lose his place in his papers and have to shuffle through them, or even drop them on the floor, but in the end, he give a jaw-droppingly wonderful talk that really stayed with you.

I feel lucky to have spoken with someone who saw Chesterton in person. It's kind of a comic version of Polycarp hearing the Apostle John speak of Jesus, and telling about it to Irenaeus.