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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
air of triumph, they enjoy few things more than tripping each other up!  They condemn each other to eternal perdition for misplacing a date or misspelling a name.  It’s like getting into a bed of nettles to get in among these little hierophants.  They remind me of the bishops at some ancient Church Council or other who tore the clothes off two right reverend consultants, and literally pulled them limb from limb in the name of Christ.  That’s the end of these holy raptures, my boy!  They unchain the beast within.”

LXII

OF CONSISTENCY

There had been a little vague talk about politics, and someone had quoted a definition of a true Liberal as a man who, if he had only to press a button in a dark room to annihilate all cranks, faddists, political quacks, extremists, propagandists, and nostrum-mongers, would not dream of doing so, as a matter of conscience, on the ground that everyone has a right to hold his own beliefs and to persuade the world to accept them if he can.  Father Payne laughed at this; but Rose, who had been nettled, I fancy, at a lack of deference for his political experience, his father being a Unionist M.P., said loudly, “Hear, hear! that’s the only sort of Liberal whom I respect.”

A look of sudden anger passed over Father Payne’s face—­unmistakable and uncompromising wrath.  “Come, Rose,” he said, “this isn’t a political meeting; and even if it were, why proclaim yourself as accepting a definition which is almost within the comprehension of a chimpanzee?”

There was a faint laugh at this, but everyone had an uncomfortable sense of thunder in the air.  Rose got rather white, and his nostrils expanded.  “I’m sorry I put it in that way,” he said rather frostily, “if you object.  But I mean it, I think.  I don’t like diluted Liberalism.”

“Yes, but you beg the question by calling it diluted,” said Father Payne.  “If anyone had said that the only Tory he respected was a man who if he could press a button in a still darker room, and by doing so bring it to pass that all institutions on the face of the earth would remain immutably fixed for ever and ever, and would feel himself bound conscientiously to do it, you wouldn’t accept that as a definition of Conservatism?  These things are not hard and fast matters of principle—­they are only tendencies.  Toryism is an instinct to trust custom and authority, Liberalism is an instinct to welcome development and change.  All that the definition of Liberalism which was quoted means is, that the Liberal has a deep respect for freedom of opinion; and all that my grotesque definition of Toryism means is that a Tory prefers to trust a fixed tradition.  But, of course, both want a settled Government, and both have to recognise that the world and its conditions change.  The Tory says, ‘Look before you leap’; the Liberal says, ‘Leap before you look.’  But it is really all a matter of infinite gradations, and what differentiates people is merely their idea of the pace at which things can go and ought to go.  Why should you say that you can only respect a man who wants to go at sixty miles an hour, any more than I should say I can only respect a man who wants to remain absolutely still?”

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