We were all at dinner one day, and Father Payne came in, in an excited mood, with a letter in his hand. “Here’s a bit of nonsense,” he said. “Here’s my old friend Davenport giving me what he calls a piece of his mind—he can’t have much left—about my ‘celibate brotherhood,’ as he calls it. It’s all the other way! I am rather relieved when I hear that any of you people are happily engaged to be married. Celibacy is the danger of my experiment, not the object of it.”
“Do you wish us to be married?” said Kaye. “That’s new to me. I thought this was a little fortress against the eternal feminine.”
“What rubbish!” said Father Payne. “The worst of using ridiculous words like feminine is that it blinds people to the truth. Masculine and feminine have nothing to do with sex. In the first place, intellectual people are all rather apt to be sexless; in the next place, all sensible people, men and women alike, are what is meant by masculine—that is to say, spirited, generous, tolerant, good-natured, frank. Thirdly, all suspicious, scheming, sensitive, theatrical, irritable, vain people are what is meant by feminine. And artistic natures are all prone to those failings, because they desire dignity and influence—they want to be felt. The real difference between people is whether they want to live, or whether they want to be known to exist. The worst of feminine people is that they are probably the people who ought not to marry, unless they marry a masculine person; and they are not, as a rule, attracted by masculinity.”
“But one can’t get married in cold blood,” said Vincent. “I often wish that marriages could just be arranged, as they do it in France. I think I should be a very good husband, but I shall never have the courage or the time to go in search of a wife.”
“That’s why I send you all out into the world,” said Father Payne. “Most people ought to be married. It’s a normal thing—it isn’t a transcendental thing. In my experience most marriages are successful. It does everyone good to be obliged to live at close quarters with other people, and to be unable to get away from them.”
“I didn’t know you were interested in such matters,” said someone.
“I have gone into it pretty considerably, sir,” said Father Payne, “The one thing that does interest me is human admixtures. It does no one any good to get too much attached to his own point of view.”
“But surely,” said Rose, “there are some marriages which are obviously bad for all concerned—real incompatibilities? People who can’t understand each other or their children—children who can’t understand their parents? It always seems to me rather horrible that people should be shut up together like rats in a cage.”