“It seems rather a ghastly business,” I said.
“Yes,” said Father Payne, “it’s a wretched business! That combination of great sensitiveness and great self-righteousness is the most melancholy thing I know. You have to get rid of one or the other—and yet that is how Gladwin is made. Now, I have plenty of opinions of my own, but I don’t consider them final or absolute. It ends, of course, in poor Gladwin knowing about a hundredth part of what is going on in the world, and thinking that it’s d—d bad. Of course it is, if you neglect the other ninety-nine parts altogether!”
It was one of those perfectly fine and radiant days of early summer, with a touch of easterly about the breeze, which means perhaps a drier air, and always seems to bring out the true colours of our countryside, as with a touch of ethereal golden-tinged varnish. The humid rain-washed days, so common in England, are beautiful enough, with their rolling cloud-ranges and their soft mistiness: but the clear sparkle of this brighter weather, summer without its haze, intensifying each tone of colour and sharply defining each several tint, has a special beauty of form as well as of hue.
I walked with Father Payne far among the fields. He was at first in a silent mood, observing and enjoying. We passed a field carpeted with buttercups, and he said, “That’s a beautiful touch, ’the flower-enamelled field’—it isn’t just washed with colour, it is like hammered work of beaten gold, like the letters in old missals!” Presently he burst out into talk: “I don’t want to say anything affected,” he began, “but a day like this, out in the country, gives me a stronger feeling of what I can only describe as worship than anything else in the world, because the scene holds the beauty of life so firmly up before you. Worship means the sense of the unmistakable presence of beauty, I am sure—a beauty great and overwhelming, which one has had no part in making—’The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands prepared the dry land. O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker’—it’s that exactly—a sense of joyful abasement in the presence of something great and infinitely beautiful. I do wish that were more clearly stated