Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
his life appears the most useless business conceivable; but it is almost a worse thing to get to depend upon success—­and it is undeniably pleasant to be a personage, to cause a little stir when you enter a room, to find that people know all about you and like meeting you, and saying they have met you.  I never had any of that:  and I have sometimes found myself with successful writers who made me thank God I couldn’t write—­such complacency, such lolling among praise, such vexation at not being deferred to!  The best fate for a man is to be fairly successful, and to be at the same time pretty severely criticised.  That keeps him modest, while it gives him a degree of confidence that he is doing something useful.  The danger is of drifting right out of life into unreal civilities and compliments, which you don’t wholly like and yet can’t do without.  The fact is that writing doesn’t generally end in very much happiness, except perhaps the happiness of work.  That’s the solid part of it really, and no one can deprive you of that, whatever happens.”

XL

OF WASTE

We were discussing Keats and his premature death.  Someone had said that, beside being one of the best, he was also one of the most promising of poets; and Father Payne had remarked that reading Keats’s letters made him feel more directly in the presence of a man of genius than any other book he knew.  Kaye had added that the death of Keats seemed to him the most ghastly kind of waste, at which Father Payne had smiled, and said that that presupposed that he was knocked out by some malign or indifferent force.  “It is possible—­isn’t it?” he added, “that he was needed elsewhere and summoned away.”  “Then why was he so elaborately tortured first?” said Kaye.  “Well,” said Father Payne, “I can conceive that if he had recovered his health, and escaped from his engagement with Fanny Brawne, he might have been a much finer fellow afterwards.  There were two weak points in Keats, you know—­his over-sensuousness and a touch of commonness—­I won’t call it vulgarity,” he added, “but his jokes are not of the best quality!  I do not feel sure that his suffering might not have cleared away the poisonous stuff.”

“Perhaps,” said Kaye; “but doesn’t that make it more wasteful still?  The world needs beauty—­and for a man to die so young with his best music in him seems to me a clumsy affair.”

“I don’t know,” said Father Payne; “it seems to me harder to define the word waste than almost any word I know.  Of course there are cases when it is obviously applicable—­if a big steamer carrying a cargo of wheat goes down in a storm, that is a lot of human trouble thrown away—­and a war is wasteful, because nations lose their best and healthiest parental stock.  But it isn’t a word to play with.  In a middle-class household it is applied mainly to such things as there being enough left of a nice dish for the servants to enjoy;

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Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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