“Yes,” said Father Payne; “heredity is just one of the evil devices—but don’t you see the stupidity of it? It stops progress, but it also helps it on—it hinders, but it also helps; and nothing in the world seems to me so Divine as the way in which God is using and mastering heredity for good. It multiplies evil, but it also multiplies good; and God has turned that weapon against the contriver of it. The wiser that the world grows, the more they will see how to use heredity for happiness, by preventing the tainted from continuing to taint the races. The slow civilisation of the world is the strongest proof I know that the battle is going the right way. The forces of evil are being slowly transformed into the forces of good. The waste of noble things is but the slow arrival of the new armies of light. There is something real in fighting for a General who has a very urgent and terrible business on hand. There is nothing real about fighting for one who has brought both the armies into the field. It doesn’t do to sentimentalise about evil, and to say that it is hidden good! The world is a probation, I don’t doubt—but it is testing your strength against something which is really there, and can do you a lot of harm, not against something which is only there for the purpose of testing what might have been made and kept both innocent and strong.”
Father Payne generally declined to talk about education. “Teaching is one of the things, like golf and hunting, which is exciting to do and pleasant to remember, but intolerable to talk about,” he said one evening.
“Well,” I said, “it is certainly intolerable to listen to people discussing education, or to read about it; but if you know anything about it, I should have thought it was good fun to talk about it.”
“Ah,” said Father Payne, “you say, ‘If you know anything about it.’ The worst of it is that everybody knows everything about it. A man who is a success, thinks that his own education is the only one worth having; a man who is a failure thinks that all systems of education are wrong. And as for talking about teaching, you can’t talk about it—you can only relate your own experience, and listen with such patience as you can muster to another man relating his. That’s not talking!”
“But it is interesting in a general way,” said Vincent,—“the kind of thing you are aiming at, what you want to produce, and so on.”
“Yes, my dear Vincent,” said Father Payne, “but education isn’t that—it’s an obstinate sort of tradition; it’s a quest, like the Philosopher’s Stone. Most people think that it is a sort of charm which, if you could discover it, would transmute all baser metals into gold. The justification of the Philosopher’s Stone is, I suppose, that different metals are not really different substances, but only different arrangements of the same atoms. But we can’t predicate