“But why, if that is so,” said I, “do we feel a sense of unity with some people, and not at all with others? There are people, I mean, with whom I feel that I have simply nothing in common, and that our spirits could not possibly mix or blend. With you, to speak frankly, it is different. I feel as though I had known you far longer than a few months, and should never be in any real doubt about you. I recognise myself in you and yourself in me. But there are many people in whom I don’t recognise myself at all.”
Father Payne put his arm through mine, “Well, old man,” he said, “we must be content to have found each other, but we mustn’t give up trying to find other people too. I think that is what civilisation means—a mutual recognition—we’re only just at the start of it, you know. I’m in no doubt as to what you give me—it’s a sense of trust. When I think about you, I feel, ’Come, there is someone at all events who will try to understand me and to forgive me and to share his best with me’—but even so, my boy, I shall enjoy being alone sometimes. I shall want to get away from everyone, even from you! There are thoughts I cannot share with you, because I want you to think better of me than I do of myself. I suppose that is vanity—but still old Wordsworth was right when he wrote:
“’And many love me; but by
Am I enough beloved.’”
OF THE WRITER’S LIFE
I was walking once with Father Payne in the fields, and he was talking about the difficulties of the writer’s life. He said that the great problem for all industrious writers was how to work in such a way as not to be a nuisance to the people they lived with. “Of course men vary very much in their habits,” he said; “but if you look at the lives of authors, they often seem tiresome people to get on with. The difficulty is mostly this,” he went on, “that a writer can’t write to any purpose for more than about three hours a day—if he works really hard, even that is quite enough to tire him out. Think what the brain is doing—it is concentrated on some idea, some scene, some situation. Take a novelist: he has to have a picture in his mind all the time—a clear visualisation of a place—a room, a garden, a wood; then he must know how his people move and look and speak, and he has to fly backwards and forwards from one to another; then he has the talk to create, and he has to be always rejecting thoughts and impressions and words, good enough in themselves, but not characteristic. It is a fearful strain on imagination and emotion, on phrase-making and word-finding. The real wonder is not that a few people can do it better than others, but that anyone can do it at all. The difference between the worst novelist and the best is much less than the difference between the worst novelist and the person who can’t write at all.