“Then in that case there is certainly no necessity for losing the money too!” said Rose.
“It’s all very well for you to talk in that impersonal way, Rose,” said Father Payne. “Of course I know very well that you would handle the situation kindly and decisively; but you don’t know what it is to suffer from politeness like a disease. I have done nothing wrong except that I have been polite when I might have been dry. I see right through the man, but he is absolutely impervious; and it is my accursed politeness that makes it impossible for me to say bluntly what I know he will dislike and what he genuinely will not understand. I know what you are thinking, every one of you—that I say lots of things that you dislike—but then you do understand! I could no more tell this wretch the truth than I could trample on a blind old man.”
“What will you really do?” said Barthrop.
“I shall send him the money,” said Father Payne firmly, “and I shall compliment him on his delicacy; and then, thank God, I shall forget, until it all begins again. I am a wretched old opportunist, of course; a sort of Ally Sloper—not fit company for strong and concise young men!”
I do not remember what led to this remark of Father Payne’s:—“It’s a painful fact, from the ethical point of view, that qualities are more admired, and more beautiful indeed, the more instinctive they are. We don’t admire the faculty of taking pains very much. The industrious boy at school is rather disliked than otherwise, while the brilliant boy who can construe his lesson without learning it is envied. Take a virtue like courage: the love of danger, the contempt of fear, the power of dashing headlong into a thing without calculating the consequences is the kind of courage we admire. The person who is timid and anxious, and yet just manages desperately to screw himself up to the sticking-point, does not get nearly as much credit as the bold devil-may-care person. It is so with most performances; we admire ease and rapidity much more than perseverance and tenacity, what obviously costs little effort rather than what costs a great deal.