“But that is very far from being art, isn’t it?” I said.
“Of course!” said Father Payne, “but the use of art, as I understand it, is just that—that all you present shall have life, and that you should learn not to present what has not got life. Why I objected to your last essay was because you were not alive in it: you were just echoing and repeating things: you seemed to me to be talking in your sleep. Why I object to this essay is that you are too wide awake—you are just talking shop.”
“I confess I rather despair,” I said.
“What rubbish!” said Father Payne; “all I want you to do is to live in your ideas—make them your own, don’t just slop them down without having understood or felt them. I’ll tell you what you shall do next. You shall just put aside all this dreary collection of formulae and scalpel-work, and you shall write me an essay on the whole subject, saying the best that you feel about it all, not the worst that a stiff intelligence can extract from it. Don’t be pettish about it! I assure you I respect your talent very much. I didn’t think it was in you to produce anything so loathsomely judicious.”
OF THE SENSE OF BEAUTY
There had been some vague ethical discussion during dinner in which Father Payne had not intervened; but he suddenly joined in briskly, though I don’t remember who or what struck the spark out. “You are running logic too hard,” he said; “the difficulty with all morality is not to know where it is to begin, but where it is to stop.”
“I didn’t know it had to stop,” said Vincent; “I thought it had to go on.”
“Yes, but not as morality,” said Father Payne; “as instinct and feeling—only very elementary people indeed obey rules, because they are rules. The righteous man obeys them because on the whole he agrees with them.”
“But in one sense it isn’t possible to be too good?” said Vincent.
“No,” said Father Payne, “not if you are sure what good is—but it is quite easy to be too righteous, to have too many rules and scruples—not to live your own life at all, but an anxious, timid, broken-winged sort of life, like some of the fearful saints in the Pilgrim’s Progress, who got no fun out of the business at all. Don’t you remember what Mr. Feeblemind says? I can’t quote—it’s a glorious passage.”
Barthrop slipped out and fetched a Pilgrim’s Progress, which he put over Father Payne’s shoulder. “Thank you, old man,” said Father Payne, “that’s very kind of you—that is morality translated into feeling!”
He turned over the pages, and read the bit in his resonant voice:
“’I am, as I said, a man of a weak and feeble mind, and shall be offended and made weak at that which others can bear. I shall like no Laughing: I shall like no gay Attire: I shall like no unprofitable Questions. Nay, I am so weak a man, as to be offended with that which others have a liberty to do. I do not know all the truth: I am a very ignorant Christian man; sometimes, if I hear some rejoice in the Lord, it troubles me, because I cannot do so too.’”