Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.

“Yes,” I said, “that’s perfectly true, Father:  and I won’t be such a fool again.”

“You haven’t been a fool, so far as I am aware,” said Father Payne.  “It is only that you are just a thought too polite.  You mustn’t be polite in mind, you know—­only in manners.  Politeness only consists in not saying all you think unless you are asked.  But humility consists in trying to believe that you think less than you think.  It’s like holding your nose, and saying that the bad smell has gone—­it is playing tricks with your mind:  and if you get into the way of doing that, you will find that your mind has a nasty way of playing tricks upon you.  Here! hold on!  I am rapidly becoming like Chadband!  Send me Vincent, will you—­there’s a good man?  He comes next.”

XXXIV

OF CRITICISM

Father Payne had told me that my writing was becoming too juicy and too highly-scented.  “You mustn’t hide the underlying form,” he said; “have plenty of plain spaces.  This sort of writing is only for readers who want to be vaguely soothed and made to feel comfortable by a book—­it’s a stimulant, it’s not a food!”

“Yes,” I said with a sigh, “I suppose you are right.”

“Up to a certain point, I am right,” he replied, “because you are in training at present—­and people in training have to do abnormal things:  you can’t live as if you were in training, of course; but when you begin to work on your own account, you must find your own pace and your own manner:  and even now you needn’t agree with me unless you like.”

I determined, however, that I would give him something very different next time.  He suggested that I should write an essay on a certain writer of fiction.  I read the novels with great care, and I then produced the driest and most technical criticism I could.  I read it aloud to Father Payne a month later.  He heard it in silence, stroking his beard with his left hand, as his manner was.  When I had finished, he said:  “Well, you have taken my advice with a vengeance; and as an exercise—­indeed, as a tour-de-force—­it is good.  I didn’t think you had it in you to produce such a bit of anatomy.  I think it’s simply the most uninteresting essay I ever heard in my life—­chip, chip, chip, the whole time.  It won’t do you any harm to have written it, but, of course, it’s a mere caricature.  No conceivable reason could be assigned for your writing it.  It’s like the burial of the dead—­ashes to ashes, dust to dust!”

“I admit,” I said, “that I did it on purpose, to show you how judicious I could be.”

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Project Gutenberg
Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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