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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLavengro: The Scholar - The Gypsy - The Priest - Chapter 56
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Lavengro: The Scholar - The Gypsy - The Priest - Chapter 56 Post by :wvelarius Category :Long Stories Author :George Borrow Date :May 2012 Read :2988

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Lavengro: The Scholar - The Gypsy - The Priest - Chapter 56

CHAPTER LVI. Considerably Sobered--Power of Writing--The Tempter--Hungry Talent--Work Concluded.


Rather late in the morning I awoke; for a few minutes I lay still, perfectly still; my imagination was considerably sobered; the scenes and situations which had pleased me so much over night appeared to me in a far less captivating guise that morning. I felt languid and almost hopeless--the thought, however, of my situation soon roused me,--I must make an effort to improve the posture of my affairs; there was no time to be lost; so I sprang out of bed, breakfasted on bread and water, and then sat down doggedly to write the life of Joseph Sell.

It was a great thing to have formed my plan, and to have arranged the scenes in my head, as I had done on the preceding night. The chief thing requisite at present was the mere mechanical act of committing them to paper. This I did not find at first so easy as I could wish--I wanted mechanical skill; but I persevered; and before evening I had written ten pages. I partook of some bread and water; and, before I went to bed that night, I had completed fifteen pages of my life of Joseph Sell.

The next day I resumed my task--I found my power of writing considerably increased; my pen hurried rapidly over the paper--my brain was in a wonderfully teeming state; many scenes and visions which I had not thought of before were evolved, and, as fast as evolved, written down; they seemed to be more pat to my purpose, and more natural to my history, than many others which I had imagined before, and which I made now give place to these newer creations: by about midnight I had added thirty fresh pages to my "Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell."

The third day arose--it was dark and dreary out of doors, and I passed it drearily enough within; my brain appeared to have lost much of its former glow, and my pen much of its power; I, however, toiled on, but at midnight had only added seven pages to my history of Joseph Sell.

On the fourth day the sun shone brightly--I arose, and having breakfasted as usual, I fell to work. My brain was this day wonderfully prolific, and my pen never before or since glided so rapidly over the paper; towards night I began to feel strangely about the back part of my head, and my whole system was extraordinarily affected. I likewise occasionally saw double--a tempter now seemed to be at work within me.

"You had better leave off now for a short space," said the tempter, "and go out and drink a pint of beer; you have still one shilling left--if you go on at this rate, you will go mad--go out and spend sixpence, you can afford it, more than half your work is done." I was about to obey the suggestion of the tempter, when the idea struck me that, if I did not complete the work whilst the fit was on me, I should never complete it; so I held on. I am almost afraid to state how many pages I wrote that day of the life of Joseph Sell.

From this time I proceeded in a somewhat more leisurely manner; but, as I drew nearer and nearer to the completion of my task, dreadful fears and despondencies came over me. It will be too late, thought I; by the time I have finished the work, the bookseller will have been supplied with a tale or a novel. Is it probable that, in a town like this, where talent is so abundant--hungry talent too--a bookseller can advertise for a tale or a novel, without being supplied with half a dozen in twenty-four hours? I may as well fling down my pen--I am writing to no purpose. And these thoughts came over my mind so often, that at last, in utter despair, I flung down the pen. Whereupon the tempter within me said--"And, now you have flung down the pen, you may as well fling yourself out of the window; what remains for you to do?" Why, to take it up again, thought I to myself, for I did not like the latter suggestion at all--and then forthwith I resumed the pen, and wrote with greater vigour than before, from about six o'clock in the evening until I could hardly see, when I rested for awhile, when the tempter within me again said, or appeared to say--"All you have been writing is stuff, it will never do--a drug--a mere drug:" and methought these last words were uttered in the gruff tones of the big publisher. "A thing merely to be sneered at," a voice like that of Taggart added; and then I seemed to hear a sternutation,--as I probably did, for, recovering from a kind of swoon, I found myself shivering with cold. The next day I brought my work to a conclusion.

But the task of revision still remained; for an hour or two I shrank from it, and remained gazing stupidly at the pile of paper which I had written over. I was all but exhausted, and I dreaded, on inspecting the sheets, to find them full of absurdities which I had paid no regard to in the furor of composition. But the task, however trying to my nerves, must be got over; at last, in a kind of desperation, I entered upon it. It was far from an easy one; there were, however, fewer errors and absurdities than I had anticipated. About twelve o'clock at night I had got over the task of revision. "To-morrow, for the bookseller," said I, as my hand sank on the pillow. "Oh me!"

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CHAPTER LIX. The Milestone--The Meditation--Want to Get Up?--The Off-hand Leader--Sixteen Shillings--The Near-hand Wheeler--All Right. In about two hours I had cleared the Great City, and got beyond the suburban villages, or rather towns, in the direction in which I was travelling; I was in a broad and excellent road, leading I knew not whither. I now slackened my pace, which had hitherto been great. Presently, coming to a milestone on which was graven nine miles, I rested against it, and looking round towards the vast city, which had long ceased to be visible, I fell into a train of meditation.
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CHAPTER LV. Bread and Water--Fair Play--Fashionable Life--Colonel B-----Joseph Sell--The Kindly Glow--Easiest Manner Imaginable. "I must do something," said I, as I sat that night in my lonely apartment, with some bread and a pitcher of water before me. Thereupon taking some of the bread, and eating it, I considered what I was to do. "I have no idea what I am to do," said I, as I stretched my hand towards the pitcher, "unless"--and here I took a considerable draught--"I write a tale or a novel--That bookseller," I continued, speaking to myself, "is certainly much in need of a tale
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