In "The Worst Crime in the World" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown went to a modern pictures gallery to meet his niece, while he met a man he knew:

“I didn’t know,” said Father Brown, smiling, “that you were a patron of the New Art.”

“I didn’t know that you were,” retorted the other. “I came here to catch a man.”

“I hope you will have good sport,” answered the priest. “I’m doing much the same.”

Said he was passing through to the Continent,” snorted the solicitor, “and could I meet him in this cranky place.” He ruminated a moment, and said abruptly: “Look here, I know you can keep a secret. Do you know Sir John Musgrave?”

Does "have good sport" here mean sort of "good luck"?

And does "Said he was" mean "it was said that he was" or "he himself said"?

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    Fr. Brown humorously likens 'catching a man' to hunting or fishing. The solicitor means that the man he was hoping to meet had told him that he was on his way to the Continent (mainland Europe). It's short for "He said... and asked if I could meet him...". Jun 10, 2020 at 14:18
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    "Have good sport" here means "have a good time" since one of the meanings of sport is "that which diverts, and makes mirth; pastime; amusement."
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 10, 2020 at 14:18
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    There's a famous line in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?” PS: The introduction to your question needs revising - and all nieces are female. Jun 10, 2020 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Side note: In your first sentence, it is unnecessary to say "a female niece". A niece is, by definition, female. The male equivalent is a "nephew". Also, I'm not sure what you mean by, "while he was a man he knew". Maybe, "While he was there, he met a man he knew"?

But to the point ...

People sometimes describe satisfying or vigorous athletic activit as "good sport". Like, "We played football and it was good sport." This is especially used of hunting, like "We pursued the deer through the woods for 20 minutes before we finally shot it. It was good sport." So here Father Brown is expressing the hope that his friend will have "good sport" in hunting his adversary. It doesn't really mean "good luck" in the sense of hoping that he succeeds, it's more like "I hope this turns out to be a lively and well-fought contest".

"Said he was going to the Continent" is short for "HE said he was going to the Continent." That is, the man he is pursuing said he was going to the Continent. (In Britain, mainland Europe is often referred to as "the Continent".)

  • Thank you so much, I edited the question. And in the same sense "could I meet" equal "I could meet"? Jun 10, 2020 at 17:40
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    "could I meet" He is quoting the person asking him a question. Presumably the person asked, "Could you meet me at the art gallery?" So he relates this by saying, "And so he said blah blah blah and could I meet him".
    – Jay
    Jun 11, 2020 at 14:29

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