by G.K. Chesterton


 To C. F G. Masterman, M. P.

My Dear Charles,

I originally called this book "What is Wrong," and it would
have satisfied your sardonic temper to note the number of social
misunderstandings that arose from the use of the title.
Many a mild lady visitor opened her eyes when I remarked casually,
"I have been doing 'What is Wrong' all this morning."
And one minister of religion moved quite sharply in his chair
when I told him (as he understood it) that I had to run upstairs
and do what was wrong, but should be down again in a minute.
Exactly of what occult vice they silently accused me I
cannot conjecture, but I know of what I accuse myself; and that is,
of having written a very shapeless and inadequate book, and one
quite unworthy to be dedicated to you. As far as literature goes,
this book is what is wrong and no mistake.

It may seem a refinement of insolence to present so wild
a composition to one who has recorded two or three of the really
impressive visions of the moving millions of England. You are
the only man alive who can make the map of England crawl with life;
a most creepy and enviable accomplishment. Why then should I
trouble you with a book which, even if it achieves its object
(which is monstrously unlikely) can only be a thundering
gallop of theory?

Well, I do it partly because I think you politicians are none
the worse for a few inconvenient ideals; but more because you
will recognise the many arguments we have had, those arguments
which the most wonderful ladies in the world can never endure
for very long. And, perhaps, you will agree with me that
the thread of comradeship and conversation must be protected
because it is so frivolous. It must be held sacred, it must
not be snapped, because it is not worth tying together again.
It is exactly because argument is idle that men (I mean males)
must take it seriously; for when (we feel), until the crack
of doom, shall we have so delightful a difference again?
But most of all I offer it to you because there exists not
only comradeship, but a very different thing, called friendship;
an agreement under all the arguments and a thread which,
please God, will never break.

Yours always,

G. K. Chesterton