Chesterton: Don’t

“Don’t use a noun and then an adjective that crosses out the noun. An adjective qualifies, it cannot contradict. Don’t say, ‘Give me patriotism that is free from all boundaries.’ It is like saying, ‘Give me a pork pie with no pork in it.’ Don’t say, ‘I look forward to that larger religion which shall have no special dogmas.’ It is like saying, ‘I look forward to that larger quadruped who shall have no feet.’ A quadruped mean something with four feet; and a religion means something that commits a man to some doctrine about the universe. Don’t let the meek substantive be absolutely murdered by the joyful, exuberant adjective.”

– G.K. Chesterton, in his essay “Don’t”

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