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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

I am sorry that I cannot comply with your request


'Like bird that's bred amongst the Helicons.'

And here a smile half theatrical passed over his features.

'In what can I oblige you, sir?' said the magistrate.

'Well, sir; the soul of wit is brevity; we want a place for an approaching combat between my friend here and a brave from town. Passing by your broad acres this fine morning we saw a pightle, which we deemed would suit. Lend us that pightle, and receive our thanks; 'twould be a favour, though not much to grant: we neither ask for Stonehenge nor for Tempe.'

My friend looked somewhat perplexed; after a moment, however, he said, with a firm but gentlemanly air, 'Sir, I am sorry that I cannot comply with your request.'

'Not comply!' said the man, his brow becoming dark as midnight; and with a hoarse and savage tone, 'Not comply! why not?'

'It is impossible, sir; utterly impossible!'

'Why so?'

'I am not compelled to give my reasons to you, sir, nor to any man.'

'Let me beg of you to alter your decision,' said the man, in a tone of profound respect.

'Utterly impossible, sir; I am a magistrate.'

'Magistrate! then fare ye well, for a green-coated

buffer and a Harmanbeck.'

'Sir!' said the magistrate, springing up with a face fiery with wrath.

But, with a surly nod to me, the man left the apartment; and in a moment more the heavy footsteps of himself and his companion were heard descending the staircase.

'Who is that man?' said my friend, turning towards me.

'A sporting gentleman, well known in the place from which I come.'

'He appeared to know you.'

'I have occasionally put on the gloves with him.'

'What is his name?'

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

DOUBTS--WISE KING OF JERUSALEM--LET ME SEE--A THOUSAND YEARS--NOTHING NEW--THE CROWD--THE HYMN--FAITH--CHARLES WESLEY--THERE HE STOOD--FAREWELL, BROTHER--DEATH--WIND ON THE HEATH

There was one question which I was continually asking myself at this period, and which has more than once met the eyes of the reader who has followed me through the last chapter: 'What is truth?' I had involved myself imperceptibly in a dreary labyrinth of doubt, and, whichever way I turned, no reasonable prospect of extricating myself appeared. The means by which I had brought myself into this situation may be very briefly told; I had inquired into many matters, in order that I might become wise, and I had read and pondered over the words of the wise, so called, till I had made myself master of the sum of human wisdom; namely, that everything is enigmatical and that man is an enigma to himself; hence the cry of 'What is truth?' I had ceased to believe in the truth of that in which I had hitherto trusted, and yet could find nothing in which I could put any fixed or deliberate belief--I was, indeed, in a labyrinth! In what did I not doubt? With respect to crime and virtue I was in doubt; I doubted that the one was blamable and the other praiseworthy. Are not all things subjected to the law of necessity? Assuredly; time and chance govern all things: yet how can this be? alas!


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