9

The context of the phrase here is that the phrase, "the humility of a charge too great for men", refers to the idea that someone has been given a very important task which they may not completely understand, but which they know they must complete. And so they are humble because it is the task that is great, not them. They are merely a tool being ...


7

Normally, if a door is open a crack, at the bottom of it you will see something dark. It might be the grass, or dirt, or whatever else is outside the door. Above that you will see whiteness. That whiteness isn't a thing - it's the absence of things, emptiness, daylight. That's "negative" space -- the lack of stuff to see. But in this case, surprisingly, the ...


7

"The Worst Crime in the World" was published in 1927 in the collection The Secret of Father Brown. At that time, cubism was roughly 20 years old. Some cubist painters depicted human bodies as made up of geometric shapes such as cones and cylinders. One can see examples of this in Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912), below: Another ...


7

I can think of only two possibilities. One is that as the children gathered for a service, he would play along with the children in the sand with a spade, and then, as it transitioned, he would gesture with the spade in hand. The other is that the Band would sing or play instruments (a musical service) and that he would use the spade as a baton because it ...


6

The phrase "the sort of lunacy allowed in the gentry" is an allusion to the (real or perceived) eccentricity of the English aristocracy, i.e. that eccentricity is more common among the gentry or the aristocrats than among the rest of the population. In fact, a search for eccentric English aristocrats gives quite a lot of results. For the narrator ...


6

Tsundoku's answer explains the meaning in context of the geometric objects referred to, but the structure of the whole sentence is a bit confusing too: He would indeed be of an inflammable temperament who was stirred to any of the more pagan passions by the display of interrupted spirals, inverted cones and broken cylinders with which the art of the ...


6

Dr. Valentine is a surgeon, so his "business"—what he does for a living—is or includes performing surgery. Surgical procedures are not without risk; if the procedure goes wrong, the patient can even die of the consequences. This is how a surgeon may unintentionally cause somebody's death. Cynically put, one may say that the surgeon's "business" or job has ...


6

Yes, "at all" can be used in a positive sense: think of it as the opposite of "not at all". See for example Macmillan and Cambridge for the usage of "at all" in a positive sense. In this context, the implication is that much of the populace does not go to church at all: hence the parenthetical "which is pretty pagan". ...


5

The character Fiennes immediately explains the remark: But he stopped in the torrent of his talk in a momentary bewilderment before he saw the priest’s very simple meanmg. “You mean that people make too much of them?” he said. The word “dog” spelt backwards is “god”, so what Father Brown means is that he doesn’t like the way that some people treat dogs as ...


5

“Vision of the world’s desire” is an allusion to the novel The World’s Desire (1890) by H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang. In chapter 2, also titled “The Vision of the World’s Desire”, the goddess Athena shows Odysseus a vision of Helen of Troy: ‘Nay, Odysseus, didst thou not once give me one little hour? Fear not, for thou shalt not see me at this time, but ...


5

Extremely wealthy (or powerful) people can get away with offending against conventions that other people are bound by, because other people don't want to offend them. Also, an ordinary person wanted to do business with the collector would have had to show that he was taking the matter seriously by dressing properly, but either a duke or a millionaire could ...


5

A fourth position: I do not hold a position of public trust. As an official, it would be his duty to deal with odious people. As a private individual, he has no such duty. The reason why I think this likely is the anecdote about Douglas. His castle was a public trust -- the king had installed him and his family in it, in return for his services as an ...


5

Technically, he remains James Mair. Any children would have the name Mair. However, a noble is addressed by title, not by name -- Lord Marne. And uses it, too. He would sign things James Marne.


5

According to general Outram, Maurice Marne had been taking acting lessons with Hugo Romaine. At that time, Romaine was not yet a celebrated actor, so giving acting lessons was a very welcome source of income. The general says, "Romaine was then, I suppose, practically dependent on his rich friend." In other words, at that time, the acting lessons ...


4

It carries the implication that if Romaine had not acted as his second, even if he thought Maurice ought not to fight the duel, Maurice might have cut off the money, which he was dependent on. (This could be Maurice exploiting his dependence, or it could be Maurice regarding his acting as a second as part of their friendship, and so refusing is showing ...


4

To offer a contrasting view to that given: the nineteen hundred years are since the time of Jesus. Father Brown is a Catholic priest, and Catholicism is a rather hierarchical faith. The "charge too great for men", of which he is unworthy, is to speak on behalf of God and uphold his religion. With Father Brown, his comic appearance and humility ...


4

Who is "the man in Dickens"? The answer is that Chesterton is referring to the following passage from Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop, in which the question "is the old [man] friendly" is repeated twice by the character of Mr Swiveller: ‘Fred!’ cried Mr Swiveller, tapping his nose, ‘a word to the wise is sufficient for them—we ...


4

"Ethical fellowship" is a sort of a keyphrase for secular beliefs that there are right and wrong actions distinct from any religious framework, as per Felix Adler's Ethical Movement. So Father Brown is basically alluding to two secular (often associated with atheism) movements, evolution and ethical fellowship, to take a dig at people believing ...


4

"Dripping with gore" indicates that the man had just committed a violent murder and was literally dripping with blood from the victim. However if he were philosophically inclined, he could hold forth on views that Buddhism was better than Christianity -- or, in view of the way Father Brown is discussing European criminals, those notions of Buddhism that ...


4

"It" refers back to "go[ing] straight to the point". If the man's thoughts are dominated by paranoia (the monomania in this story), then he will sense that any indirect questions asked by Father Brown are attempts to find something out about him without being open about it. General questions and comments that are often used to break the ice, e.g. comments ...


4

"Noticeable" here means more "worthy of being noticed" than "able to be noticed". Noticeable has two different, albeit related meanings, which coul be summarised as "able to be noticed" and "worthy of being noticed": attracting notice or attention; capable of being noticed: a noticeable lack of interest. worthy or deserving of notice or attention; ...


4

In the above excerpt, "about" is not directly connected to the verb "entertain", so it does not work like, e.g. "talk about". The structure is as follows: "we had the honour of entertaining ..." Where? "in this bar-parlour" When? "yesterday" Whom? "about the biggest and loudest and most fat-...


4

I think Chesterton is packing multiple allusions and metaphors into the opening paragraphs of that short story. The first paragraph says there was "something that blasted like lightning", which is followed in the second paragraph by "when the Gothic fell from heaven". These phrases are reminiscent of Luke 10, 18: He replied, "I saw ...


4

I'm not certain what you mean by a "positive statement" here, but what Father Brown is saying here is that most of the town's populace are "pagan" (not Christian) and that the ones who do go to church go to Dutton-Abbot. The "at all" here kind of means "even once" or "occasionally" with an implication that ...


3

That "the action might be noticed" simply means that someone might just see him throwing the sword-stick into the sea. In addition, that witness may have "thought noticeable" what he saw, in other words, that person may have thought that it was significant. After all, throwing a sword-stick or a walking stick into the sea looks a bit strange, unlike throwing ...


3

"Entertain" and "about" are not linked. They (honestly, in this case, the "we" is a more general usage of the pronoun, not any indication that he himself was doing the entertaining) were "entertaining" or "showing hospitality to" the people in the hotel lounge. The man they are speaking of is being stated to ...


3

The man is obviously a bit nuts. However, there's a degree of insanity required before you can be institutionalized, and the degree would be higher for people of higher social status (and more clout). Therefore, having concluded that the man, though lunatic, will not be institutionalized, he regards him with a degree of respect.


3

I believe that, in that first paragraph, Granby is actually just talking about himself and the Captain. He was only asking Father Brown's opinion of the man initially, not looking to invite him to come along. It is a little bit odd that he twice discusses them driving up together, but I suspect it's just a conversational flourish, mentioning that they're ...


3

I can't get what's meant by "It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular". It's pretty close to what you think. They're saying this would be abnormal behavior in general for the sober individual that you might expect of the son of clergy, but it's normal for him. So he is abnormal, but that's normal behavior for him. And ...


2

Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder? Sort of, yes. The naming system for British peers is quite complicated and confusing to those who haven't encountered it. Every person has their own name and surname, but when they inherit, or are given, a sufficiently high title, then the name of that title is generally (at least in ...


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