Welcome to Part Two of The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton, our latest audio adventure in Tales for Our Time and a metaphysical thriller concerning anarchists, policemen, and many other aspects all too familiar in our own time. I thank you for your kind words about this thirty-sixth monthly yarn for our Mark Steyn Club members. Phoebe Spinrad says:
One of my favorite Chestertons, and definitely my favorite of his novels ...and of course parts of this dark nightmare are hilarious.
Indeed they are, Phoebe. In tonight's episode of The Man Who Was Thursday our two poets make their way through anarchist HQ:
Gregory led him down a low, vaulted passage, at the end of which was the red light. It was an enormous crimson lantern, nearly as big as a fireplace, fixed over a small but heavy iron door. In the door there was a sort of hatchway or grating, and on this Gregory struck five times. A heavy voice with a foreign accent asked him who he was. To this he gave the more or less unexpected reply, "Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." The heavy hinges began to move; it was obviously some kind of password.
At the time Chesterton published his book, Mr Chamberlain, former Secretary of State for the Colonies and President of the Board of Trade, had recently retired from public life due to a stroke. For non-British listeners, he was the father of Neville, of peace in our time and all that. But what sort of anarchist society uses Joseph Chamberlain as a code word? Syme wants to know what's their game:
"First of all, what is it really all about? What is it you object to? You want to abolish Government?"
"To abolish God!" said Gregory, opening the eyes of a fanatic. "We do not only want to upset a few despotisms and police regulations; that sort of anarchism does exist, but it is a mere branch of the Nonconformists. We dig deeper and we blow you higher. We wish to deny all those arbitrary distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery, upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly sentimentalists of the French Revolution talked of the Rights of Man! We hate Rights as we hate Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong."
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