Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Lavengro

George Borrow (1803–1881)
O, 1 the dark feeling of mysterious dread which comes over the mind, and which the lamp of reason, though burning bright the while, is unable to dispel! Art thou, as leeches say, the concomitant of disease?.. Nay, rather the principle of woe itself, the fountain head of all sorrow co-existent with man, whose influence he feels when yet unborn;… for … woe doth he bring with him into the world, even thyself, dark one, terrible one, causeless, unbegotten, without a father … Then is it not lawful for man to exclaim, ‘Better that I had never been born!’ Fool, for thyself thou wast not born, but to fulfil the inscrutable decrees of thy Creator; and how dost thou know that this dark principle is not … thy best friend; that it is not that which tempers the whole mass of thy corruption? It may be, for what thou knowest, the mother of wisdom, and of great works: it is the dread of the horror of the night that makes the pilgrim hasten on his way. When thou feelest it nigh, let thy safety word be ‘Onward’; if thou tarry, thou art overwhelmed. Courage! build great works—’tis urging thee—it is ever nearest the favourites of God—the fool knows little of it. Thou wouldst be joyous, wouldst thou? then be a fool. What great work was ever the result of joy, the puny one? Who have been the wise ones, the mighty ones, the conquering ones of this earth? the joyous? I believe (it) not.  1
Note 1. Geo. Borrow. From ‘Lavengro’, ch. xviii. [back]
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