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Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
’Go and see what Jack is doing, and tell him not to!’ Of course I am taking an extreme case, but there is a tendency in that direction in many people.  They think that strength means the power to resist, when it really means the power to flow.  I do not think that people ought to be deferential to criticism, timid before rebuke, depressed by disapproval:  and, on the whole, I believe that more harm is done by self-repression, obedience, meekness than by the opposite qualities.  I want men to live their own lives fearlessly—­not offensively, of course—­with a due regard to other people’s comfort, but without any regard to other people’s conventions.  I believe in trusting yourself, on the whole, and trusting the world.  I do not think it is wholesome or brave to live under the shadow of other people’s fears or other people’s convictions.  All the people, it seems to me, who have done anything for the world, have been the people who have gone their own way; and I think that self-discipline, or external discipline meekly accepted, ends in a flattening out of men’s power and character.  Of course you fellows here are learning to do a definite technical thing—­but you will observe that all the discipline here is defensive, and not coercive.  I don’t want you to take any shape or mould:  I want you just to learn to do things in your own way.  I don’t ever want you to interfere with each other’s minds too much.  I don’t want to interfere with your minds myself, except in so far as to help you to get rid of sloppiness and prejudices.  Here, I mustn’t go on—­it’s becoming like a prospectus! but it comes to this, that I believe in the trained mind, and not in the moulded mind; and I think that the moment discipline ceases to train strength, and begins to mould weakness, it’s a thoroughly bad thing.  No one can be artificially protected from life without losing life—­and life is what I am out for.”

LXVII

OF INCREASE

I did not hear the argument, but I heard Vincent say to Father Payne:  “Of course I couldn’t do that—­it would have been so inconsistent.”

“Oh! consistency’s a very cheap affair,” said Father Payne; “it is mostly a blend of vanity and slow intelligence.”

“But one must stick to something,” said Vincent.  “There’s nothing so tiresome as never knowing how a man is going to behave.”

“Of course,” said Father Payne, “inconsistency isn’t a virtue—­it is generally the product of a quick and confused intelligence.  But consistency ought not to be a principle of thought or action—­you ought not to do or think a thing simply because you have thought it before—­that is mere laziness!  What one wants is a consistent sort of progress—­you ought not to stay still.”

“But you must have principles,” said Vincent.

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