Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
of losing it.  You are avaricious—­well, hoard your money, and then yield on occasions to a generous impulse.  That’s a better way to defeat evil, than by dribbling money away in giving little presents which no one wants.  I don’t believe in petty warfare against faults.  You know the proverb that if you knock too long at a closed door, the Devil opens it to you?  Just give your sins a knock-down blow every now and then.  I believe in the fire of life more than I believe in the cold water you use to quench it.  Everything can be forgiven to passion; nothing can be forgiven to chilly calculation.  The beautiful impulse is the thing that one must not disobey; and when I see people do big, wrong-headed, unguarded, unwise things, get into rows, sacrifice a reputation or a career without counting the cost, I am inclined to feel that they have probably done better for themselves than if they had been prudent and cautious.  I don’t say that they are always right, because people yield sometimes to a mere whim, and sometimes to a childishly overwhelming desire; but if there is a real touch of unselfishness about a sacrifice—­that’s the test, that some one else’s joy should be involved—­then I feel that it isn’t my business to approve or disapprove.  I feel in the presence of a force—­an ‘ought’ as Lestrange says, which makes me shy of intervening.  It’s the wind of the Spirit—­it blows where it will—­and I know this, that I’m thankful beyond everything when I feel it in my own sails.”

“Tell me when you feel it next, Father,” said Vincent.

“I feel it now,” said Father Payne, “now and here.”  And there was something in his face which made us disinclined to ask him any further questions.

LVII

OF RANK

Someone had been telling a curious story about a contested peerage.  It was a sensational affair, involving the alteration of registers, the burning down of a vestry, and the flight of a clergyman.

“I like that story,” said Father Payne, “and I like heraldry and rank and all that.  It’s decidedly picturesque.  I enjoy the zigzagging of a title through generations.  But the worst of it is that the most picturesque of all distinctions, like being the twentieth baron, let us say, in direct descent, is really of the nature of a stigma; a man whose twentieth ancestor was a baron has no excuse for not being a duke.”

“But what I don’t like,” said Rose, “is the awful sense of sanctity which some people have about it.  I read a book the other day where the hero sacrificed everything in turn, a career, a fortune, an engagement to a charming girl, a reputation, and last of all an undoubted claim to an ancient barony.  I don’t remember exactly why he did all these things—­it was noble, undoubtedly it was noble!  But there was something which made me vaguely uncomfortable about the order in which he spun his various advantages.”

“It’s only a sense of beauty slightly awry,” said Father Payne; “names are curiously sacred things—­they often seem to be part of the innermost essence of a man.  I confess I would rather change most things than change my name.  I would rather shave my head, for instance.”

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Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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