100 Years of Cecil Chesterton's Death
Author: P. Fernando Pascual, L.C | Source: Catholic.net
The First World War provoked a huge number of deaths, including those of some thinkers and writers of a Europe that was destroyed in endless trench battles.
One of such deaths was that of journalist Cecil Chesterton (1879-1918), brother of the famous writer Gilbert K. Chesterton.
Cecil Chesterton, in his early years of youth, had been a socialist. He even participated in a debate alongside Bernard Shaw and against Hilaire Belloc and his own brother Gilbert Chesterton.
Shortly thereafter, Cecil was approaching the ideas of Belloc. In 1911 he collaborated in the founding of a newspaper called "The Eye Witness", along with Belloc.
The following year, Cecil would begin to lead that publication, which changed its name, "The New Witness", and which became famous for a series of accusations that were known as the Marconi Scandal.
Those years allowed Cecil to enter first in the Anglican Church and then in the Catholic Church (1912). In 1916 he married Ada Elizabeth Jones, who later wrote a book about the Chesterton family.
In 1914, he had started the one that was then known as the "Great War" and then as World War I. Among the thousands of young and not-so-young people who went to fight in the trenches was Cecil Chesterton, who left the front shortly after his marriage.
Cecil participated in the battlefield and was wounded three times. He wanted to stay in France while the race lasted, but his ailments increased, so he warned his wife Ada. She came to join him in Wimereux, in the north of France, where a war hospital had been installed.
The testimony of his wife reflects a little of those moments of farewell and pain, amid the absurdity of that war that sowed millions of homes in tears, especially in Europe. "I was in the middle of the yard when Cecil's voice came to me as clear and potent as the day of his wedding. “Little Girl” he said. “You have come”.
He was talking and laughing, and he said he was much better. But he did not mention the future and asked with some melancholy for Fleet Street and for the Cottage, for his mother and for our friends.
After a while, he felt tired and closed his eyes. Little by little the lights went off, until only the dim brightness of a lamp was left…” He has fallen asleep”, said the nurse, who asked me to go to another room.
Before Dawn, I was back. There had been a change... Worse. And when the first faint rays of the sun pierced the windows, I knew that was the end. “This is goodbye, little girl,” he said with a smile as he pressed her hand.
Cecil looked up and smiled. He and I were surrounded by life: a life that was gradually fading from that face that still retained all its worth, until it was exhausted after a last faint sigh.
Before Dawn, I was back. There had been a change... worse. And when the first faint rays of the sun pierced the windows, I knew that was the end.
It suddenly collapsed on me the certainty that all our hopes and dreams, our promising plans, our ambitions no longer existed. The future -our future- had come to an end. I would never hear his voice again. He would never touch me again or see the brightness of his eyes when he was surprised by looking at me " (Text collected by J. Pearce in his book" Convert Writers “).
So far the lines of whom was his wife for two years. Cecil Chesterton died and was buried on 6 December 1918, a few days after the end of the fighting (11 November) was signed by the Germans.
His brother Gilbert K. Chesterton received the news with enormous sorrow and did not have the opportunity to move to France for the burial, due to the difficult situation for the transport in those turbulent times.
Time passed, Godfrey Isaacs, who had indicted Cecil in the courts for publications in "The New Witness" On the Marconi case, became Catholic, and died in 1925.
Gilbert Chesterton's lines give the key to understanding history in a fuller perspective. Commenting on the conversions to the Catholic Church and the deaths of his brother Cecil and his enemy Godfrey, he wrote the following, looking at what happens after death: "It Is the reconciliation par excellence, able to unite anyone. Requiescat in pace.
Gilbert Chesterton's lines give the key to understanding history in a fuller perspective. Commenting on the conversions to the Catholic Church and the deaths of his brother Cecil and his enemy Godfrey, he wrote the following, looking at what happens after death: "It Is the reconciliation par excellence, able to unite anyone. Requiescat in pace. "