“It may seem a singular observation to say that we are not generous enough to write great satire. This, however, is approximately a very accurate way of describing the case. To write great satire, to attack a man so that he feels the attack and half acknowledges its justice, it is necessary to have a certain intellectual magnanimity which realizes the merits of the opponent as well as his defects. This is, indeed, only another way of putting the simple truth that in order to attack an army we must know not only its weak points, but also its strong points. England in the present season and spirit fails in satire for the same simple reason that it fails in war: it despises the enemy.”(Pope and the Art of Satire – Twelve Types 1903)
This is quintessential Chesterton who indeed lived this intellectual magnanimity. What we now most often have is just pure snark delivered in a point-scoring manner.
Reading Chesterton for me is like a daily examen of conscience.
From the same essay:
“Have we really learnt to think more broadly? Or have we only learnt to spread our thoughts thinner?”