“What about Pharisees?” said I.
“Well, the Pharisee has too many morals,” said Father Payne. “He is the person whose own tastes are a sort of standard. If you disagree with him, he thinks you must be wicked. If your tastes differ from his, they are of the nature of sin. You live under his displeasure. If he dresses for dinner, it is sloppy and middle-class not to do so. If he doesn’t dress for dinner, the people who do are either wasting time or aping the manners of the great. He is always very strong about wasting time. If he likes gardening, he says it is the best sort of exercise; if he does not, he says that it is bilious work muddling about in a corner. Everything that he does is done on principle, but he uses his principles to bludgeon other people. If you make him the subject of a harmless jest, he says that he cannot bear personalities. You can please him only by deferring to him, and the only way to manage him is by gross flattery. A Pharisee can be a gentleman, and he isn’t purely noxious like the cad; he is only unpleasant and discouraging. He is quite impervious to argument, and only says that he thought the principle he is contending for was generally accepted. The Pharisee wants in a heavy way to improve the world, and thinks meanly of it, while the cad thinks meanly of it, and wants to exploit it. The Pharisee is a tyrant, and hates freedom; but you can often make a friend of him by asking him a favour, if you are also prepared to be subsequently reminded of the trouble he took to serve you.
“I think that the Pharisee perhaps does most harm in the end, because he hates all experiments. He does harm to the young, because he makes them dislike virtue and mistrust beauty. The cad does not corrupt—in fact, I think he rather improves people, because he is so ugly a case of what no one wishes to be—and it is better to hate people than to be frightened of them. If we got a cad and a Pharisee in here, for instance, it would be easier to get rid of the cad than the Pharisee.”
“I begin to breathe more freely,” said Vincent. “I had begun to review my conscience.”
Father Payne laughed. “It’s all blank cartridge,” he said.