Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
the country, they must love the country,” he used to say.  He kept a village club going, but he never went there.  “It’s embarrassing,” he used to say.  “They don’t want me strolling in any more than I want them strolling in.  Philanthropists have no sense of privacy.”  He did not call at the villagers’ houses, unless there was some special event, and his talks were confined to chance meetings.  Neither was there any sense of duty about it.  “No one is taken in by formal visiting,” he said.  “You must just do it if you like it, or else stay away.  ‘To keep yourself to yourself’ is the highest praise these people can give.  No one likes a fuss!”

The same sort of principles regulated our own intercourse.  “We are not monks,” he used to say; “we are Carthusians, hermits, living together for comfort or convenience.”  The solitude and privacy of everyone was respected.  We used to do our talking when we took exercise; but there was very little sitting and gossiping together tete-a-tete. “I don’t want everyone to try to be intimate with everyone else,” he used to say.  “The point is just to get on amicably together; we won’t have any cliques or coteries.”  He himself never came to any of our rooms, but sent a message if he wanted to see us.  One small thing he strongly objected to, the shouting up from the garden to anyone’s window:  “Most offensive!” He disliked all loud shouting and calling or singing aloud.  “You mustn’t use the world as a private sitting-room.”  And the one thing which used to fret him was a voice stridently raised.  “Don’t rouse the echoes!” he would say.  “You have no more right to make a row than you have to use a strong scent or to blow a post-horn—­that’s not liberty!” The result of this was that the house was a singularly quiet one, and this sense of silence and subdued sound lives in my memory as one of its most refreshing characteristics.  “A row is only pleasant if it is deliberate and organised,” he used to say.  “Native woodnotes wild are all very well, but they are not civilisation.  To talk audibly and quietly is the best proof of virtue and honour!”

XI

CONVERSATION

I am going to try to give a few impressions of talks with Father Payne—­both public and private talks.  It is, however, difficult to do this without giving, perhaps, a wrong impression.  I used to get into the habit of jotting down the things he had said, and I improved by practice.  But he was a rapid talker and somewhat discursive, and he was often deflected from his main subject by a question or a discussion.  Yet I do not want it to be thought that he was fond of monologue and soliloquy.  He was not, I should say, a very talkative man; days would sometimes pass without his doing more than just taking a hand in conversation.  He liked to follow the flow of a talk, and to contribute a remark now and then; sometimes he was markedly silent; but in no case was he ever oppressive.  Occasionally,

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Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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