Jan and Cora Gordon and the Chestertons, 100 years ago today

G.K. Chesterton wrote in the Illustrated London News, January 1, 1916:

"It is one of the paradoxes of the war that the Pacifists who insist on its enormity do not seem to realise how enormous it is. They call it a crime; and yet they want to cure it with a compromise. They dilate on the universality of the horror like men talking of the rent seals and falling stars of the Apocalypse, the portents of plagues and persecutions leading up to the Day of Judgment. And then they do not want it to lead up to a Day of Judgment, or even of logical human justice. They want it to lead up to a mere splitting of the difference, as if it were about the bill of a dressmaker or the nuisance of a dust-bin."

Jan Gordon, who had on that day been back in London for three weeks following the Serbian retreat, "a living snake with heads for scales" (see image below), later wrote for the Chestertons in 'The New Witness' under the pseudonym 'John Salis.'

Mrs. Cecil Chesterton later (1941) wrote, "They wrote for us for years—on their travels, their life in France, their reactions to England. Jan became our art critic under the name John Salis, with such distinction that he was spotted by the Observer, where he deputised for Konody, and eventually succeeded him."


"A living snake with heads for scales", drawn by Frédéric de Haenen from a sketch by Jan Gordon, London Illustrated News, 25th December 1915, pg 844. "The whole road was a living snake with heads for scales ; it coiled across the plains, zigzagged up the mountains and writhed down again into the valleys."

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