When discussing what he calls “The Fear of the Past”[1], Chesterton notes how we are so in love with progress that we are afraid of ever retracing our steps in case we should be accused of being old-fashioned. He observes that people are fond of saying, “You can’t put the clock back” with regard to a certain piece of supposed progress, when a clock can, in fact, rather easily be put back and to do so is often the quickest way of correcting an error in time-keeping. Again, he points out how people are fond of remarking that once you have made your bed you have to lie in it. This isn’t so; a bed can be remade, and if you have made an uncomfortable bed, it is only common sense to make it again.

Chesterton goes on: “We could restore the Heptarchy . . . if we chose. It might take some time to do, and it might be very inadvisable to do it; but certainly it is not impossible as bringing back last Friday is impossible.”

The heptarchy is another word for what the poet John Donne referred to as “the seven kingdoms of the seven planets”.[2] In this essay I will address Chesterton’s interest in that heptarchical, pre-Copernican, geocentric model of the cosmos and discuss his thoughts about the difficulty of living imaginatively in the post-Copernican, heliocentric cosmos.

A Brief History of the Heptarchy

Until the sixteenth century it was believed that there were only seven planets and that they occupied certain ‘spheres’ or ‘heavens’ from where they would shed influences upon Earth, affecting people, events, and even the metals in Earth’s crust.

Earth was thought to be stationary and the centre of everything. Around this static and central Earth revolved these seven planets in their seven heavens. Working outwards from Earth, the order was as follows: Luna (the Moon), Mercury, Venus, Sol (the Sun), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. These celestial bodies described their own peculiar paths across the sky, which is why they were called planets, not stars. (The Greek word for ‘wanderers’ is planetai; a planet is a wandering star.) The fixed stars, in their constellations, were thought to occupy their own sphere called the Stellatum.

And this was not superstition or ignorance talking. The best minds of the day believed this to be a factual representation of reality. But then, in 1543, the Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, published his epoch-making work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), in which he theorized that we live not in a geocentric, but in a heliocentric universe. It was a theory that was later proved correct by Kepler and Galileo, aided by the invention of the telescope early in the seventeenth century.

The Copernican revolution has a good claim to being the most important change that there has ever been in the history of human thought because it gave our home, Earth – or Planet Earth, as it was now known – a new address in the universe. We no longer occupied the central place; rather, we were on the periphery and the Sun was at the centre.

However, the Copernican revolution, for all its hugeness in the annals of science, has not had quite so huge an effect upon human imagination as might have been supposed. In his 1901 collection of essays called The Defendant, Chesterton has a chapter entitled “A Defence of Planets”, in which he confesses:

It is a very remarkable thing that none of us are really Copernicans in our actual outlook upon things. We are convinced intellectually that we inhabit a small provincial planet, but we do not feel in the least suburban . . . If a single poem or a single story were really transfused with the Copernican idea, the thing would be a nightmare. Can we think of a solemn scene of mountain stillness in which some prophet is standing in a trance, and then realize that the whole scene is whizzing round like a zoetrope at the rate of nineteen miles a second? . . . A strange fable might be written of a man who was blessed or cursed with the Copernican eye, and saw all men on the earth like tintacks clustering round a magnet. It would be singular to imagine how very different the speech of an aggressive egoist, announcing the independence and divinity of man, would sound if he were seen hanging on to the planet by his boot soles . . . It would be an interesting speculation to imagine whether the world will ever develop a Copernican poetry and a Copernican habit of fancy; whether we shall ever speak of ‘early earth-turn’ instead of ‘early sunrise,’ and speak indifferently of looking up at the daisies, or looking down on the stars.[3]

Chesterton’s view is that the Copernican revolution has left the normal human imagination almost entirely unaffected; we can’t ordinarily picture the reality of our situation in heliocentric terms for it is really too ridiculous. The sun really does seem to go across the sky; it really does seem as if the sun is moving and we are staying still. As the psalmist proclaims:

In [the heaven] hath God set a tabernacle for the sun,

which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven,

and his circuit unto the ends of it:

and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.[4]

But however much we try to hammer into our brains the fact that the Sun does not actually move across the sky, that it is only a trick of perspective, the notion will not stick. Unlike Joshua (Josh. 10:12-14), we cannot make the sun stand still. Our minds and imaginations seem to be so configured – let us say, so created – that the sun seems to dote upon our little planet, caressing it all round every day. It is almost as if God loves us more than we love Him. We have good reason to believe that Earth is revolving round the Sun, like a moth fluttering round a candle flame, but it seems, for the life of us, as if it’s entirely the other way round. Reality and appearance are here out of kilter. The universe is for a fact heliocentric. We experience it geocentrically.

Note in particular how Chesterton says, “If a . . . story were really transfused with the Copernican idea, the thing would be a nightmare.” I shall be coming back to that below. For now let us return to the heptarchy and Chesterton’s claims that “We could restore the Heptarchy . . . if we chose.”[5]

And we could indeed restore the planetary heptarchy. Chesterton is not suggesting that it would be advisable to restore it, that it would make good sense to overthrow all of the advances made by post-Copernican science, but only that, in theory at least, we could decide to live again in the pre-Copernican universe. We could shut our eyes to the last four hundred and fifty years of intellectual progress if we believed that science had led us not on a progression but a digression. We don’t absolutely need to lie in the bed that we have made.

Chesterton raises this possibility not because he is a Luddite or obscurantist. He is merely wanting to interrogate certain assumptions about the world, to keep our unspoken presuppositions under constant surveillance and to ask questions of scientific progress in order to keep us on our toes, as it were, – to keep us alert to the way that purely scientific accounts of human experience do not, indeed cannot, give us a completely satisfying explanation of reality.

For part of our reality is that the earth does seem to be static and central; the sun truly does appear, from our point of view, to move across the sky. And that misleading appearance is itself a fact which doesn’t fit easily within the categories of empirical science. A scientific account would simply tell us that our minds are mistaken and that the data are otherwise than we perceive them to be. Ah yes, but why do we perceive them to be this way? What does that perception itself tell us about ourselves, the universe, and the way the Creator has placed us in the universe? That is a theological question, or at the very least a psychological question: it is not a question that falls within the domain of the physical sciences.

Not only do we all still speak as if the Sun is going round the Earth, there is also another sense in which we still live in a pre-Copernican universe, for we still operate according to a seven-day week, and the names of the days of the week are themselves derived from this heptarchical system. We are in fact referring to this old view of the cosmos every day of our lives. Saturday is named after Saturn, Sunday after the Sun, Monday after the Moon, and so on.[6] In one way, therefore, we cannot restore the heptarchy, because we have never left it; it structures every single day of our lives, if calendrical nomenclature is any guide. And in Chesterton’s case, so firmly fixed was the heptarchy within the furniture of his mind that, on the day he became engaged to be married (21 July 1898), he wrote to his fiancée, “Dearest Frances . . . it is no exaggeration to say that I never saw you in my life without thinking that I underrated you the time before. But today was something more than usual: you went up seven heavens at a run.”

That concludes my brief history of the heptarchy. Now let us turn to consider the use that Chesterton made of the heptarchy in his writings.

What use did Chesterton make of the heptarchy?

The seven heavens are mentioned in at least four of Chesterton’s poems (‘Wine and Water’, ‘After Reading a Book of Modern Verse’, ‘Lost’, ‘To St Michael in Time of Peace’). In The Everlasting Man he writes that Christianity “had among other things a singular air of piling tower upon tower by the use of the a fortiori; making a pagoda of degrees like the seven heavens.”[7] But by far the most important appearance of the heptarchy in his writings is in The Man Who Was Thursday – regarded by many as his greatest work of fiction; first published in 1908, it has never been out of print. How does Chesterton use the heptarchy in this novel?

As indicated in the very title, Chesterton is concerned with the days of the week. The protagonist, Gabriel Syme, is a man called ‘Thursday’ because he is a member of ‘the Council of the Seven Days’, also known as the Central European Council of Anarchists. The full Council is comprised of the following characters:

Sunday – The President of the Council, a huge, unsleeping man with a vast head

Monday – The Secretary of the Council, thin-faced and with a twisted smile

Tuesday – Gogol, a gloomy and hairy Pole

Wednesday – Inspector Ratcliffe, square bearded, frock-coated

Thursday – Gabriel Syme, the eponymous hero

Friday – Professor de Worms, senile and apparently moribund

Saturday – Dr Bull, sphinx-like, black-haired, bespectacled

Chesterton introduces the characters into the story in no particular order, but towards the end of the story he shows himself to be aware of the traditional order of the planets when the Council members gather together for the grand denouement. They meet in a garden where, “in a kind of crescent, stood seven great chairs, the thrones of the seven days . . .  but the central chair was empty.”[8]

The central chair is the seat of Sunday, the President of the Council. But does this mean that the model of the cosmos that is on display in The Man Who Was Thursday is the post-Copernican, heliocentric model? It does not. For, somewhat confusingly, according to the pre-Copernican model, the Sun had a central position even though it was not completely and utterly central. The Sun was the central planet, fourth from the top and fourth from the bottom: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn rotated above the Sun; Venus, Mercury and Luna rotated below the Sun. This central position was held, in medieval thought, to betoken a peculiar dignity or honour, like the heart in the middle of the body, or like a king surrounded by his subjects. The Sun is “the eye and mind of the whole universe” as C.S. Lewis wrote in his chapter on ‘The Heavens’ in The Discarded Image, and when Chesterton leaves the central chair empty for Sunday to sit in, he is acknowledging the centrality of the Sun within the heptarchical system. Yet although the Sun occupied this middle position among the seven planets, Earth was the very centre of the whole universe, the focal point about which all the planets, including the Sun, revolved.

If this apparent clash of centres provokes a vague sense of discomfort in the reader, that is no doubt intentional on Chesterton’s part. And at this point, we would do well to recall that The Man Who was Thursday has a subtitle. In an article published in The Illustrated London News on 13 June 1936, the day before his death, Chesterton drew attention to the very fact of this subtitle:

The book was called The Man Who was Thursday: A Nightmare  . . . It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion.[9]

This is a very helpful comment from the author. The Man Who Was Thursday is a nightmare story, but it contains a glimmer of a good dream in it somewhere. Let us refer again to what Chesterton said in his ‘Defence of Planets’ where he wrote, “If a . . . story were really transfused with the Copernican idea, the thing would be a nightmare.” Is it possible that Chesterton subtitled The Man Who Was Thursday ‘A Nightmare’ because he wished to express the nightmarishly unstable quality of trying to live consciously in the Copernican cosmos? I think it is.

The Copernican idea is that we go round the Sun, and that is precisely what the man who is Thursday does in this novel, along with the men who are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They all go round the man who is Sunday: they revolve around the President of the Council. They are described in one place as his “satellites”. He is the candle around which these moths flutter. More than once, the six other characters are called “wanderers”, for they are the planetai in this Copernican system. Sunday is the cynosure who dominates both the Council of Anarchists and the police force: he is the figure in the dark room sitting with his back to the policemen as they each come in one by one to receive their orders.

The very first line of the novel indicates the centrality of the Sun: “The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset.”[10] Twice in that sentence the word “sunset” appears, setting the keynote for the whole book: we are to be preoccupied with the sun, the sun at its setting. Later in that opening chapter we’re told: “This particular evening, if it is remembered for nothing else, will be remembered in that place for its strange sunset . . . The very empyrean seemed to be a secret.”[11] The sky this evening is “that impossible sky”.

Once Gabriel Syme has joined the Central Council of Anarchists and become known as Thursday, things become even more impossible:

[Syme] had a singular sensation of stepping out into something entirely new; not merely into the landscape of a new land, but even into the landscape of a new planet. This was mainly due to the insane yet solid decision of that evening [to join the Anarchists], though partly also to an entire change in the weather and the sky since he entered the little tavern some two hours before. Every trace of the passionate plumage of the cloudy sunset had been swept away, and a naked moon stood in a naked sky. The moon was so strong and full, that (by a paradox often to be noticed) it seemed like a weaker sun. It gave, not the sense of bright moonshine, but rather of a dead daylight.

Over the whole landscape lay a luminous and unnatural discoloration, as of that disastrous twilight which Milton spoke of as shed by the sun in eclipse; so that Syme fell easily into his first thought, that he was actually on some other and emptier planet, which circled round some sadder star.[12]

This is the lunatic nightmare of the Copernican world, where, both by day and by night, Earth spins dizzyingly round the Sun, the whole scene whizzing round like a zoetrope at the rate of nineteen miles a second. This is the world of wild doubt and despair described by the pessimists whom Chesterton referred to on the eve of his death.

And if we look a little more closely at the opening sentence of the novel we find that alongside the repeated references to the sun is another indication that this is going to be a novel about the difficulties inherent in the Copernican worldview. Interestingly, the word “suburb” appears in that sentence: “The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London . . .” And this should remind us again of Chesterton’s ‘Defence of Planets’ where he says, “We are convinced intellectually that we inhabit a small provincial planet, but we do not feel in the least suburban.” Gabriel Syme is literally suburban, he comes from Saffron Park (an invented name, not a real place, as far as I can determine[13]). And when he meets his co-conspirators, he finds that they too are deeply suburban: “Each figure seemed to be, somehow, on the borderland of things; just as their theory was on the borderland of thought.”[14] These are displaced and eccentric persons, feeling themselves to be on the periphery of reality, the circumference of truth. But later in the novel this perception is suddenly if temporarily reversed:

Syme had for a flash the sensation that the cosmos had turned exactly upside down, that all the trees were growing downwards and that all stars were under his feet. Then came slowly the opposite conviction. For the last twenty-four hours the cosmos had really been upside down, but now the capsized universe had come right side up again.[15]

Syme, like the reader, doesn’t know whether he is on his head or his heels. He is like the sceptic whom Chesterton describes in the closing pages of Orthodoxy, who is “topsy-turvy”, “born upside down”: “To the modern man the heavens are actually below the earth.”[16] The Copernican universe tells him that he is hanging off the planet by his bootsoles, and yet all his natural senses indicate that the Sun is above, not beneath, him.  Which is the correct vision? Are the criminals chasing the police or the police chasing the criminals? Are we in a preposterous vehicle in which the passenger is spurring on the horse or does the cabman have the whiphand? Has an old gentleman in grey clothes run away with an elephant or has the elephant eloped with the elderly gent? Is the hornbill a huge yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it, or vice versa? This oscillating vision – now one thing, now quite the opposite – comes from trying to think in a manner which is cosmologically correct, but perspectivally inhuman. The scientific data tell us that the Sun is fixed and circumnavigable: our senses tell us that it rises in the east, arcs across the sky, and sets in the west.

The Copernican vision of the cosmos, for all its scientific demonstrability, flies in the face of commonsensical, everyday perception. It makes the tail wag the dog, reversing the proper order of things somewhat in the manner described by the prophet Isaiah, who asks:

Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it,

or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it?

As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,

or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood![17]

The inverted image of reality that Isaiah satirizes here is the same sort of inversion that Chesterton is protesting against in The Man Who Was Thursday. The Copernican model runs counter to our experience of reality; none of us really live our daily lives as if Copernicus got it right.

Let us look in more detail at what Chesterton says in his ‘Defence of Planets’:

In the early days of the world, the discovery of a fact of natural history was immediately followed by the realization of it as a fact of poetry. When man awoke from the long fit of absent-mindedness which is called the automatic animal state, and began to notice the queer facts that the sky was blue and the grass green, he immediately began to use those facts symbolically. Blue, the colour of the sky, became a symbol of celestial holiness; green passed into the language as indicating a freshness verging upon unintelligence. If we had the good fortune to live in a world in which the sky was green and the grass blue, the symbolism would have been different. But for some mysterious reason this habit of realizing poetically the facts of science has ceased abruptly with scientific progress, and all the confounding portents preached by Galileo and Newton have fallen on deaf ears. They painted a picture of the universe compared with which the Apocalypse with its falling stars was a mere idyll. They declared that we are all careering through space, clinging to a cannon-ball, and the poets ignore the matter as if it were a remark about the weather. They say that an invisible force holds us in our own armchairs while the earth hurtles like a boomerang; and men still go back to dusty records to prove the mercy of God. [18]

We don’t need to go back to the ancient scriptures (those “dusty records”) to prove the mercy of God, Chesterton is saying. All we need to do is to become fully awake to God’s mercy in not allowing us to spin off this careering cannon-ball we call Planet Earth. Here we are, zipping round the Sun at great speed, yet the centrifugal forces don’t fling us off into the furthermost corners of space. God in His mercy has given us the gift of gravity to save us from that fate, and that gift results in Earth appearing to be below us and the Heavens above us, not the other way round.

For all that Copernicus may be right scientifically, he is not right poetically or experientially. The Sun really does goes round Earth, as far as we are concerned, – a fact that satisfied no less an intellect than that of Sherlock Holmes.[19] It takes a huge effort of imagination to interpret reality otherwise, an effort so huge, so unnatural, so distorting of our normal currents of thought, that it resembles a nightmare.

Chesterton’s nightmarish story was, by his own admission, “a very melodramatic kind of moonshine”.[20]  Moonshine means ‘nonsense’: only a lunatic believes that the moon shines with its own light. The Man Who Was Thursday is a story about an attempt to live nonsensically, as if moonshine were an original and self-sustaining kind of light, rather than a dependent and derivative form of light. The character of Sunday, the President of the Council, Chesterton disclosed, is an “equivocal being”; he wasn’t “meant for a serious description of the Deity”, but he was mistakenly accorded by certain critics and readers “a temporary respect among those who like the Deity to be so described. But this error was entirely due to the fact that they had read the book but had not read the title-page.”[21] The title page is where we are tipped off that this whole story is meant as something approaching a hallucination.

Or perhaps not quite the whole story. The tale ends with a beautifully calm and gentle vision at dawn, as Syme sees Rosamond, “the girl with the gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl”.[22] These are the very final words of the book and they provide a peaceful resolution of the nightmare. Unconscious gravity is evidently being depicted as a good quality, for we know Chesterton to have had supreme respect for the self-forgetfulness of childhood.[23] The problem with the post-Copernican cosmos is that, if inhabited with full knowledge and awareness, it makes gravity into something we must consciously, continually, and effortfully recognise. No one can live like that, or not without rendering their world unbearable.

But we might ask: who even tries to live like that? Or, to put it another way, who is the implicit target behind Chesterton’s writing of The Man Who Was Thursday? Why should he have expended so much imaginative energy depicting a situation which, to all intents and purposes, no one, practically speaking, inhabits?

I suspect Chesterton’s implicit target is Nietzsche, whom he tackles in numerous places throughout his writings, – for example, the seventh chapter of Orthodoxy, where he calls Nietzsche “a very timid thinker”.[24] Nietzsche’s ideas were receiving a fair degree of popular exposition in England during the early decades of the twentieth century, thanks in no small part to Chesterton’s regular sparring partner, George Bernard Shaw, author of the Nietzschean play, Man and Superman. Nietzsche believed that Christians worshipped a God who was the source of all heaviness and oppression. God was “the spirit of gravity – through him all things fall”.[25] Nietzsche is here using the German word for “gravity” (die Schwere) as a kind of theological or metaphysical pun: it conveys two things once (as does the equivalent English word, of course), both the Newtonian force that pulls objects earthwards and a moral force of sombre seriousness. These two effects, both the physical and the moral, derive from the Christian God who is fundamentally an oppressor. God prevents mankind from rising into freedom, and when God dies so does the oppressive “gravity” of His moral law. In The Gay Science Nietzsche explains his preference for an alternative kind of grounding, a Dionysian acceptance of good and evil equally, that would somehow keep humanity anchored on earth while yet liberated from the shackling, inhibiting pressure of God’s moral demands.[26]

Nietzsche, however, was trapped by the terms of his own pun, the victim of his own metaphor. Yes, ‘gravity’ has a literal, physical meaning: the Newtonian pull downwards. But to describe the metaphorical meaning of ‘gravity’ as an oppressive spiritual power is to beg the question. The spiritual power that floors us when we trangress the moral law does so for our own good; that we are being thrust down is evidence of divine justice and mercy, not of divine oppression. As Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy, “Satan fell by the force of gravity,” but that was not the fault of the moral law, it was the fault of Satan’s pride.[27] “Pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things . . . into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness.”[28] The ability to rise is proof of one’s humility, of one’s self-effacement. “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.”[29] But if there were no moral law, the angels would not be flying like birds, they would be merely floating like feathers. Angels – and human beings – are moral agents, responsible for whether they rise or fall. And when they rise, they do not abolish or escape gravity (morality), they transcend it. Rosamond, at the end of The Man Who Was Thursday, is beautiful in her “unconscious gravity”. She is not thinking of herself, nor of the moral law, but of that for which both she and the moral law have been created: innocent gardening in the cool of the day.


We have seen that Chesterton considers it sheer lunacy – moonshine – to try and live consciously and deliberately within the Copernican view of things, because the Copernican view of things runs counter to our perceptions. And our perceptions matter. We shouldn’t be ashamed that we experience reality geocentrically rather than heliocentrically. We can freely admit that we don’t see things as they are, we see things as they are for us. Only God sees things as they are, and we must not try to usurp His position, must not be “high-minded”, for that is what the Fall consists in, becoming dissatisfied with our creaturely and dependent status.[30] To attempt to see things as they are would mean, at the limit, seeing God as He is. But that would be to look directly into the Sun, which hurts and blinds. Only the Son can bear to behold the Father’s face.

[Syme] had turned his eyes so as to see suddenly the great face of Sunday, which wore a strange smile.

“Have you,” he cried in a dreadful voice, “have you ever suffered?”

As he gazed, the great face grew to an awful size, grew larger than the colossal mask of Memnon, which had made him scream as a child. It grew larger and larger, filling the whole sky; then everything went black. Only in the blackness before it entirely destroyed his brain he seemed to hear a distant voice saying a commonplace text that he had heard somewhere, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”[31]

To try to make ourselves divine results in blindness, darkness, madness, as Nietzsche discovered. T.S. Eliot was wiser; he observed in ‘Burnt Norton’ that “humankind cannot bear very much reality.” In this he was merely echoing what Moses was told by God Himself: “No one can see My face and live.”[32]

  • Buy An Unexpected Journal


    This work is part of The Genius of G.K. Chesterton(Advent 2019). The issue is available in both print and digital format (Kindle, Nook, and epub.)

    You can purchase your own copy of this edition at your favorite online retailer, or subscribe to An Unexpected Journal and save.

Citation Information

Michael Ward. “Chesterton and the Seven Heavens.” An Unexpected Journal 2, no. 2. (Advent 2019): 21-48.

Direct Link: https://anunexpectedjournal.com/chesterton-and-the-seven-heavens/


[1] G. K. Chesterton, “What’s Wrong with the World,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 28, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1717/1717-h/1717-h.htm.

[2] John Donne, Donne’s Sermons (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1919), 160.

[3] G. K. Chesterton, “A Defence of Planets,” in The Defendant, Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12245/12245-h/12245-h.htm.

[4] Psalm 19: 4b-6.

[5] There is a small possibility that he was referring to a different heptarchy, the sevenfold division of ancient England into the seven kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. But he doesn’t specify and so I assume that he means the planetary heptarchy, as that seems vastly more likely given his keen interest in cosmology.

[6] In the English language, for some reason lost in the mists of time, the other four days of the week are known by the names of the Norse deities, not the Roman ones. Tuesday comes from Tiw or Tyr, the Norse equivalent of Mars (think Mardi in French or Martes in Spanish); Wednesday from Woden, the Norse equivalent of Mercury (Mercredi, Miercoles); Thursday from Thor, the Norse equivalent of Jove/Jupiter (Jeudi, Jueves); and Friday from Freya or Frigg, the Norse equivalent of Venus (Vendredi, Viernes).

[7] G. K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man,” Project Gutenberg Australia, accessed November 28, 2019, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100311.txt.

[8] G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (New York: Penguin, 1986), Chapter 1.

[9] G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 281.

[10] Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, Chapter 1.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., Chapter 4.

[13] My A-Z map of London lists, under ‘Saffron’, an Avenue, a Close, a Court, a Hill, a Road, and a Street, but no Park.

[14] Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, Chapter 6.

[15] Ibid., Chapter 8.

[16] G. K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16769/16769-h/16769-h.htm.

[17] Isaiah 10:15.

[18] Chesterton, “A Defence of Planets.”

[19] Dr Watson writes: “I found incidentally that [Holmes] was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System . . .

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Study in Scarlet,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/244/244-h/244-h.htm.

[20] Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (New York: Penguin, 1986), 185.

[21] Ibid., 185-186.

[22] Ibid., Chapter 15.

[23] Fr. Ronald Knox tells the story of a small child who went to a party at the Chestertons’ home. When the boy arrived back, his parents asked whether Mr Chesterton had been very clever. “I don’t know about clever,” he said, “but you should see him catch buns in his mouf.”  But this was not mere silliness on Chesterton’s part; it was a genuine engagement with the serious business of play as understood by the visiting children. Knox comments that Chesterton did not “exploit the simplicity of childhood for his own amusement. He entered, with tremendous gravity, into the tremendous gravity of the child.” D.J. Conlon (ed.), G.K. Chesterton: A Half Century of Views (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 48.

[24] G. K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16769/16769-h/16769-h.htm.

[25] Friedrich Nietzsche, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1998/1998-h/1998-h.htm.

[26] I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Jahdiel Perez, my doctoral student, for the ideas about Nietzsche and gravity expressed in this paragraph.

[27] G. K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy,” Project Gutenberg, accessed November 27, 2019, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16769/16769-h/16769-h.htm.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Psalm 131:1-3.

[31] Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, Chapter 15.

[32] Exodus 33:20.

Spread the love