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Title: George Borrow and His Circle - Wherein May Be Found Many Hitherto Unpublished Letters Of - Borrow And His Friends
Author: Shorter, Clement King, 1857-1926
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "George Borrow and His Circle - Wherein May Be Found Many Hitherto Unpublished Letters Of - Borrow And His Friends" ***

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Book Project).

[Illustration: George Henry Borrow

From a painting by Henry Wyndham Phillips]











C. K. S.

Transcriber's Notes: Minor typos have been corrected. A letter with a
macron over it has been designated with a [=], for example [=a] is an a
with a macron over it. There is Persian and Russian writing in this
book, which have been marked as [Persian] or as [Russian]. V^{m}
signifies that the m is a superscript.


I have to express my indebtedness first of all to the executors of
Henrietta MacOubrey, George Borrow's stepdaughter, who kindly placed
Borrow's letters and manuscripts at my disposal. To the survivor of
these executors, a lady who resides in an English provincial town, I
would particularly wish to render fullest acknowledgment did she not
desire to escape all publicity and forbid me to give her name in print.
I am indebted to Sir William Robertson Nicoll without whose kindly and
active intervention I should never have taken active steps to obtain the
material to which this biography owes its principal value. I am under
great obligations to Mr. Herbert Jenkins, the publisher, in that,
although the author of a successful biography of Borrow, he has, with
rare kindliness, brought me into communication with Mr. Wilfrid J.
Bowring, the grandson of Sir John Bowring. To Mr. Wilfrid Bowring I am
indebted in that he has handed to me the whole of Borrow's letters to
his grandfather. I have to thank Mr. James Hooper of Norwich for the
untiring zeal with which he has unearthed for me a valuable series of
notes including certain interesting letters concerning Borrow. Mr.
Hooper has generously placed his collection, with which he at one time
contemplated writing a biography of Borrow, in my hands. I thank Dr.
Aldis Wright for reading my chapter on Edward FitzGerald; also Mr. W.H.
Peet, Mr. Aleck Abrahams, and Mr. Joseph Shaylor for assistance in the
little known field of Sir Richard Phillips's life. I have further to
thank my friends, Edward Clodd and Thomas J. Wise, for reading my
proof-sheets. To Theodore Watts-Dunton, an untiring friend of thirty
years, I have also to acknowledge abundant obligations.

C. K. S.


PREFACE,                                                   v

INTRODUCTION,                                             xv




BORROW'S MOTHER,                                          12


JOHN THOMAS BORROW,                                       18


A WANDERING CHILDHOOD,                                    36


GEORGE BORROW'S NORWICH--THE GURNEYS,                     54


GEORGE BORROW'S NORWICH--THE TAYLORS,                     63






SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS,                                     87


'FAUSTUS' AND 'ROMANTIC BALLADS,'                        101




BORROW AND THE FANCY,                                    126


EIGHT YEARS OF VAGABONDAGE,                              133


SIR JOHN BOWRING,                                        138


BORROW AND THE BIBLE SOCIETY,                            153


ST. PETERSBURG AND JOHN P. HASFELD,                      162




THREE VISITS TO SPAIN,                                   179


BORROW'S SPANISH CIRCLE,                                 201


MARY BORROW,                                             215


'THE CHILDREN OF THE OPEN AIR,'                          226


'THE BIBLE IN SPAIN,'                                    237


RICHARD FORD,                                            248


IN EASTERN EUROPE,                                       260


'LAVENGRO,'                                              275


A VISIT TO CORNISH KINSMEN,                              289


IN THE ISLE OF MAN,                                      296


OULTON BROAD AND YARMOUTH,                               304


IN SCOTLAND AND IRELAND,                                 320


'THE ROMANY RYE,'                                        341


EDWARD FITZGERALD,                                       350


'WILD WALES,'                                            364


LIFE IN LONDON,                                          379


FRIENDS OF LATER YEARS,                                  389


BORROW'S UNPUBLISHED WRITINGS,                           401


HENRIETTA CLARKE,                                        413


THE AFTERMATH,                                           434

INDEX,                                                   438



GEORGE BORROW,                           _Frontispiece_

_A photogravure portrait from the painting by Henry Wyndham


THE BORROW HOUSE, NORWICH,                                16

ROBERT HAWKES, MAYOR OF NORWICH IN 1824,                  24

_From the painting by Benjamin Haydon in St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich._

GEORGE BORROW,                                            32

_From a portrait by his brother, John Thomas Borrow, in the
National Portrait Gallery, London._


WILLIAM SIMPSON,                                          80

_From a portrait by Thomas Phillips, R.A., in the Black Friars
Hall, Norwich._


SIR JOHN BOWRING IN 1826,                                 96

JOHN P. HASFELD IN 1835,                                  96

WILLIAM TAYLOR,                                           96

SIR RICHARD PHILLIPS,                                     96

THE FAMILY OF JASPER PETULENGRO,                         128

WHERE BORROW LIVED IN MADRID,                            192

THE CALLE DEL PRINCIPE, MADRID,                          192


_Taken in the garden of Mrs. Simms Reeve of Norwich in 1848._

OULTON COTTAGE FROM THE BROAD,                           352




_From a Drawing by Fortunino Matania._


SAMUEL BRANDRAM,                                         187

_Written From Madrid, 13th May 1838._

SPAIN MADE OUT BY THE BIBLE SOCIETY,                     190

BORROW,                                                  211


BORROW'S SIGNATURE,                                      230

A SHEKEL,                                                244

OF ST. LUKE,                                             247

GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE,                                      247


OF 'THE BIBLE IN SPAIN' AND 'LAVENGRO,'                  275

THE ORIGINAL TITLE-PAGE OF 'LAVENGRO,'                   280

_From the Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George
Borrow and his Circle.'_


_From the Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George
Borrow and his Circle.'_

RUNIC STONE FROM THE ISLE OF MAN,                        302

GEORGE BORROW,                                           318

RYE,'                                                    346

_From the Borrow Papers in the possession of the Author of
'George Borrow and his Circle._'

'WILD WALES' IN ITS BEGINNINGS,                          365

_Two pages from one of George Borrow's Pocket-books with pencilled
notes made on his journey through Wales._


_From the original Manuscript in the possession of the Author of
'George Borrow and his Circle.'_


_From the original Manuscript in the possession of the Author of
'George Borrow and his Circle.'_

FACSIMILE OF A POEM FROM 'TARGUM,'                       403

_A Translation from the French by George Borrow._


UNPUBLISHED WORK,                                        411

HIS CONTINENTAL JOURNEY OF 1844,                         418


It is now exactly seventeen years ago since I published a volume not
dissimilar in form to this under the title of _Charlotte Brontë and her
Circle_. The title had then an element of novelty, Dante Gabriel
Rossetti's _Dante and his Circle_, at the time the only book of this
particular character, having quite another aim. There are now some
twenty or more biographies based upon a similar plan.[1] The method has
its convenience where there are earlier lives of a given writer, as one
can in this way differentiate the book from previous efforts by making
one's hero stand out among his friends. Some such apology, I feel, is
necessary, because, in these days of the multiplication of books, every
book, at least other than a work of imagination, requires ample apology.
In _Charlotte Brontë and her Circle_ I was able to claim that, even
though following in the footsteps of Mrs. Gaskell, I had added some four
hundred new letters by Charlotte Brontë to the world's knowledge of that
interesting woman, and still more considerably enlarged our knowledge of
her sister Emily. This achievement has been generously acknowledged, and
I am most proud of the testimony of the most accomplished of living
biographers, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, who once rendered me the
following quite spontaneous tribute:

     We have lately read _aloud_ for the second time your Brontë
     book; let alone private readings. It is unique in plan and
     excellence, and I am greatly obliged to you for it. Apart from
     the pleasure of the book, the form of it has always interested
     me as a professional biographer. It certainly is novel; and in
     this case I am pretty sure that it is right.

With such a testimony before me I cannot hesitate to present my second
biography in similar form. In the case of George Borrow, however, I am
not in a position to supplement one transcendent biography, as in the
case of Charlotte Brontë and Mrs. Gaskell. I have before me no less than
four biographies of Borrow, every one of them of distinctive merit.
These are:

     _Life, Writings, and Correspondence of George Borrow._ Derived
     from Official and other Authentic Sources. By William I. Knapp,
     Ph.D., LL.D. 2 vols. John Murray, 1899.

     _George Borrow: The Man and his Work._ By R. A. J. Walling.
     Cassell, 1908.

     _The Life of George Borrow._ Compiled from Unpublished Official
     Documents. His Works, Correspondence, etc. By Herbert Jenkins.
     John Murray, 1912.

     _George Borrow: The Man and his Books._ By Edward Thomas.
     Chapman and Hall, 1912.

All of these books have contributed something of value and importance to
the subject. Dr. Knapp's work it is easiest to praise because he is
dead.[2] His biography of Borrow was the effort of a lifetime. A scholar
with great linguistic qualifications for writing the biography of an
author whose knowledge of languages was one of his titles to fame, Dr.
Knapp spared neither time nor money to achieve his purpose. Starting
with an article in _The Chautauquan Magazine_ in 1887, which was
reprinted in pamphlet form, Dr. Knapp came to England--to Norwich--and
there settled down to write a _Life_ of Borrow, which promised at one
time to develop into several volumes. As well it might, for Dr. Knapp
reached Norfolk at a happy moment for his purpose. Mrs. MacOubrey,
Borrow's stepdaughter, was in the humour to sell her father's
manuscripts and books. They were offered to the city of Norwich; there
was some talk of Mr. Jeremiah Coleman, M.P., whose influence and wealth
were overpowering in Norwich at the time, buying them. Finally, a very
considerable portion of the collection came into the hands of Mr.
Webber, a bookseller of Ipswich, who later became associated with the
firm of Jarrold of Norwich. From Webber Dr. Knapp purchased the larger
portion, and, as his bibliography indicates (_Life_, vol. ii. pp.
355-88), he became possessed of sundry notebooks which furnish a record
of certain of Borrow's holiday tours, about a hundred letters from and
to Borrow, and a considerable number of other documents. The result, as
I have indicated, was a book that abounded in new facts and is rich in
new material. It was not, however, a book for popular reading. You must
love the subject before you turn to this book with any zest. It is a
book for your true Borrovian, who is thankful for any information about
the word-master, not for the casual reader, who might indeed be
alienated from the subject by this copious memoir. The result was
somewhat discouraging. There were not enough of true Borrovians in those
years, and the book was not received too generously. The two volumes
have gone out of print and have not reached a second edition. Time
however, will do them justice. As it is, your good Borrow lover has
always appreciated their merits. Take Lionel Johnson for example, a good
critic and a master of style. After saying that these 'lengthy and rich
volumes are a monument of love's labour, but not of literary art or
biographical skill,' he adds: 'Of his over eight hundred pages there is
not one for which I am not grateful' and every new biographer of Borrow
is bound to re-echo that sentiment. Dr. Knapp did the spade work and
other biographers have but entered into his inheritance. Dr. Knapp's
fine collection of Borrow books and manuscripts was handed over by his
widow to the American nation--to the Hispanic Society of New York. Dr.
Knapp's biography was followed nine years later by a small volume by Mr.
R. A. J. Walling, whose little book adds considerably to our knowledge
of Borrow's Cornish relatives, and is in every way a valuable monograph
on the author of _Lavengro_. Mr. Herbert Jenkins's book is more
ambitious. Within four hundred closely printed pages he has compressed
every incident in Borrow's career, and we would not quarrel with him nor
his publisher for calling his life a 'definitive biography' if one did
not know that there is not and cannot be anything 'definitive' about a
biography except in the case of a Master. Boswell, Lockhart, Mrs.
Gaskell are authors who had the advantage of knowing personally the
subjects of their biographies. Any biographer who has not met his hero
face to face and is dependent solely on documents is crippled in his
undertaking. Moreover, such a biographer is always liable to be in a
manner superseded or at least supplemented by the appearance of still
more documents. However, Mr. Jenkins's excellent biography has the
advantage of many new documents from Mr. John Murray's archives and from
the Record Office Manuscripts. His work was the first to make use of the
letters of George Borrow to the Bible Society, which the Rev. T. H.
Darlow has published as a book under that title, a book to which I owe
him an acknowledgment for such use of it as I have made, as also for
permission to reproduce the title-page of Borrow's Basque version of St.
Luke's gospel. There only remains for me to say a word in praise of Mr.
Edward Thomas's fine critical study of Borrow which was published under
the title of _George Borrow: The Man and his Books_. Mr. Thomas makes no
claim to the possession of new documents. This brings me to such excuse
as I can make for perpetrating a fifth biography. When Mrs. MacOubrey,
Borrow's stepdaughter, the 'Hen.' of _Wild Wales_ and the affectionate
companion of his later years, sold her father's books and
manuscripts--and she always to her dying day declared that she had no
intention of parting with the manuscripts, which were, she said, taken
away under a misapprehension--she did not, of course, part with any of
his more private documents. All the more intimate letters of Borrow were
retained. At her death these passed to her executors, from whom I have
purchased all legal rights in the publication of Borrow's hitherto
unpublished manuscripts and letters. I trust that even to those who may
disapprove of the discursive method with which--solely for my own
pleasure--I have written this book, will at least find a certain
biographical value in the many new letters by and to George Borrow that
are to be found in its pages. The book has taken me ten years to write,
and has been a labour of love.


[1] As for example, _Garrick and his Circle_; _Johnson and his Circle_;
_Reynolds and his Circle_; and even _The Empress Eugénie and her

[2] William Ireland Knapp died in Paris in June 1908, aged seventy-four.
He was an American, and had held for many years the Chair of Modern
Languages at Vassar College. After eleven years in Spain he returned to
occupy the Chair of Modern Languages at Yale, and later held a
Professorship at Chicago. After his _Life of Borrow_ was published he
resided in Paris until his death.



George Henry Borrow was born at Dumpling Green near East Dereham,
Norfolk, on the 5th of July 1803. It pleased him to state on many an
occasion that he was born at East Dereham.

     On an evening of July, in the year 18--, at East D----, a
     beautiful little town in a certain district of East Anglia, I
     first saw the light,

he writes in the opening lines of _Lavengro_, using almost the identical
phraseology that we find in the opening lines of Goethe's _Wahrheit und
Dichtung_. Here is a later memory of Dereham from _Lavengro_:

     What it is at present I know not, for thirty years and more
     have elapsed since I last trod its streets. It will scarcely
     have improved, for how could it be better than it was? I love
     to think on thee, pretty, quiet D----, thou pattern of an
     English country town, with thy clean but narrow streets
     branching out from thy modest market-place, with their
     old-fashioned houses, with here and there a roof of venerable
     thatch, with thy one half-aristocratic mansion, where resided
     the Lady Bountiful--she, the generous and kind, who loved to
     visit the sick, leaning on her golden-headed cane, while the
     sleek old footman walked at a respectful distance behind.
     Pretty, quiet D----, with thy venerable church, in which
     moulder the mortal remains of England's sweetest and most pious

Then follows an exquisite eulogy of the poet Cowper, which readers of
_Lavengro_ know full well. Three years before Borrow was born William
Cowper died in this very town, leaving behind him so rich a legacy of
poetry and of prose, and moreover so fragrant a memory of a life in
which humour and pathos played an equal part. It was no small thing for
a youth who aspired to any kind of renown to be born in the
neighbourhood of the last resting-place of the author of _The Task_.

Yet Borrow was not actually born in East Dereham, but a mile and a half
away, at the little hamlet of Dumpling Green, in what was then a
glorious wilderness of common and furze bush, but is now a quiet
landscape of fields and hedges. You will find the home in which the
author of _Lavengro_ first saw the light without much difficulty. It is
a fair-sized farm-house, with a long low frontage separated from the
road by a considerable strip of garden. It suggests a prosperous yeoman
class, and I have known farm-houses in East Anglia not one whit larger
dignified by the name of 'hall.' Nearly opposite is a pond. The trim
hedges are a delight to us to-day, but you must cast your mind back to a
century ago when they were entirely absent. The house belonged to George
Borrow's maternal grandfather, Samuel Perfrement, who farmed the
adjacent land at this time. Samuel and Mary Perfrement had eight
children, the third of whom, Ann, was born in 1772.

In February 1793 Ann Perfrement, aged twenty-one, married Thomas Borrow,
aged thirty-five, in the Parish Church of East Dereham, and of the two
children that were born to them George Henry Borrow was the younger.
Thomas Borrow was the son of one John Borrow of St. Cleer in Cornwall,
who died before this child was born, and is described by his
grandson[3] as the scion 'of an ancient but reduced Cornish family,
tracing descent from the de Burghs, and entitled to carry their arms.'
This claim, of which I am thoroughly sceptical, is endorsed by Dr.
Knapp,[4] who, however, could find no trace of the family earlier than
1678, the old parish registers having been destroyed. When Thomas Borrow
was born the family were in any case nothing more than small farmers,
and Thomas Borrow and his brothers were working on the land in the
intervals of attending the parish school. At the age of eighteen Thomas
was apprenticed to a maltster at Liskeard, and about this time he joined
the local Militia. Tradition has it that his career as a maltster was
cut short by his knocking his master down in a scrimmage. The victor
fled from the scene of his prowess, and enlisted as a private soldier in
the Coldstream Guards. This was in 1783, and in 1792 he was transferred
to the West Norfolk Militia; hence his appearance at East Dereham,
where, now a serjeant, his occupations for many a year were recruiting
and drilling.[5] It is recorded that at a theatrical performance at East
Dereham he first saw, presumably on the stage of the county-hall, his
future wife--Ann Perfrement. She was, it seems, engaged in a minor part
in a travelling company, not, we may assume, altogether with the
sanction of her father, who, in spite of his inheritance of French
blood, doubtless shared the then very strong English prejudice against
the stage. However, Ann was one of eight children, and had, as we shall
find in after years, no inconsiderable strength of character, and so may
well at twenty years of age have decided upon a career for herself. In
any case we need not press too hard the Cornish and French origin of
George Borrow to explain his wandering tendencies, nor need we wonder at
the suggestion of Nathaniel Hawthorne, that he was 'supposed to be of
gypsy descent by the mother's side.' You have only to think of the
father, whose work carried him from time to time to every corner of
England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of the mother with her reminiscence
of life in a travelling theatrical company, to explain in no small
measure the glorious vagabondage of George Borrow.

Behold then Thomas Borrow and Ann Perfrement as man and wife, he being
thirty-five years of age, she twenty-one. A roving, restless life was in
front of the pair for many a day, the West Norfolk Militia being
stationed in some eight or nine separate towns within the interval of
ten years between Thomas Borrow's marriage and his second son's birth.
The first child, John Thomas Borrow, was born on the 15th April 1801.[6]
The second son, George Henry Borrow, the subject of this memoir, was
born in his grandfather's house at Dumpling Green, East Dereham, his
mother having found a natural refuge with her father while her husband
was busily recruiting in Norfolk. The two children passed with their
parents from place to place, and in 1809 we find them once again in
East Dereham. From his son's two books, _Lavengro_ and _Wild Wales_, we
can trace the father's later wanderings until his final retirement to
Norwich on a pension. In 1810 the family were at Norman Cross in
Huntingdonshire, when Captain Borrow had to assist in guarding the
French prisoners of war; for it was the stirring epoch of the Napoleonic
conflict, and within the temporary prison 'six thousand French and other
foreigners, followers of the Grand Corsican, were now immured.'

     What a strange appearance had those mighty casernes, with their
     blank blind walls, without windows or grating, and their
     slanting roofs, out of which, through orifices where the tiles
     had been removed, would be protruded dozens of grim heads,
     feasting their prison-sick eyes on the wide expanse of country
     unfolded from that airy height. Ah! there was much misery in
     those casernes; and from those roofs, doubtless, many a wistful
     look was turned in the direction of lovely France. Much had the
     poor inmates to endure, and much to complain of, to the
     disgrace of England be it said--of England, in general so kind
     and bountiful. Rations of carrion meat, and bread from which I
     have seen the very hounds occasionally turn away, were unworthy
     entertainment even for the most ruffian enemy, when helpless
     and a captive; and such, alas! was the fare in those casernes.

But here we have only to do with Thomas Borrow, of whom we get many a
quaint glimpse in _Lavengro_, our first and our last being concerned
with him in the one quality that his son seems to have inherited, as the
associate of a prize-fighter--Big Ben Brain. Borrow records in his
opening chapter that Ben Brain and his father met in Hyde Park probably
in 1790, and that after an hour's conflict 'the champions shook hands
and retired, each having experienced quite enough of the other's
prowess.' Borrow further relates that four months afterwards Brain 'died
in the arms of my father, who read to him the Bible in his last
moments.' Dr. Knapp finds Borrow in one of his many inaccuracies or
rather 'imaginings' here, as Brain did not die until 1794. More than
once in his after years the old soldier seems to have had a shy pride in
that early conflict, although the piety which seems to have come to him
with the responsibilities of wife and children led him to count any
recalling of the episode as a 'temptation.' When Borrow was about
thirteen years of age, he overheard his father and mother discussing
their two boys, the elder being the father's favourite and George the

     'I will hear nothing against my first-born,' said my father,
     'even in the way of insinuation: he is my joy and pride; the
     very image of myself in my youthful days, long before I fought
     Big Ben, though perhaps not quite so tall or strong built. As
     for the other, God bless the child! I love him, I'm sure; but I
     must be blind not to see the difference between him and his
     brother. Why, he has neither my hair nor my eyes; and then his
     countenance! why, 'tis absolutely swarthy, God forgive me! I
     had almost said like that of a gypsy, but I have nothing to say
     against that; the boy is not to be blamed for the colour of his
     face, nor for his hair and eyes; but, then, his ways and
     manners!--I confess I do not like them, and that they give me
     no little uneasiness.'[7]

Borrow throughout his narrative refers to his father as 'a man of
excellent common sense,' and he quotes the opinion of William Taylor,
who had rather a bad reputation as a 'freethinker' with all the
church-going citizens of Norwich, with no little pride. Borrow is of
course the 'young man' of the dialogue. He was then eighteen years of

     'Not so, not so,' said the young man eagerly; 'before I knew
     you I knew nothing, and am still very ignorant; but of late my
     father's health has been very much broken, and he requires
     attention; his spirits also have become low, which, to tell you
     the truth, he attributes to my misconduct. He says that I have
     imbibed all kinds of strange notions and doctrines, which will,
     in all probability, prove my ruin, both here and hereafter;

     'Ah! I understand,' said the elder, with another calm whiff. 'I
     have always had a kind of respect for your father, for there is
     something remarkable in his appearance, something heroic, and I
     would fain have cultivated his acquaintance; the feeling,
     however, has not been reciprocated. I met him the other day, up
     the road, with his cane and dog, and saluted him; he did not
     return my salutation.'

     'He has certain opinions of his own,' said the youth, 'which
     are widely different from those which he has heard that you

     'I respect a man for entertaining an opinion of his own,' said
     the elderly individual. 'I hold certain opinions; but I should
     not respect an individual the more for adopting them. All I
     wish for is tolerance, which I myself endeavour to practise. I
     have always loved the truth, and sought it; if I have not found
     it, the greater my misfortune.'[8]

When Borrow is twenty years of age we have another glimpse of father and
son, the father in his last illness, the son eager as usual to draw out
his parent upon the one subject that appeals to his adventurous spirit,
'I should like to know something about Big Ben,' he says:

     'You are a strange lad,' said my father; 'and though of late I
     have begun to entertain a more favourable opinion than
     heretofore, there is still much about you that I do not
     understand. Why do you bring up that name? Don't you know that
     it is one of my temptations? You wish to know something about
     him? Well, I will oblige you this once, and then farewell to
     such vanities--something about him. I will tell you--his--skin
     when he flung off his clothes--and he had a particular knack in
     doing so--his skin, when he bared his mighty chest and back
     for combat; and when he fought he stood, so--if I remember
     right--his skin, I say, was brown and dusky as that of a toad.
     Oh me! I wish my elder son was here!'

Concerning the career of Borrow's father there seem to be no documents
other than one contained in _Lavengro_, yet no _Life of Borrow_ can
possibly he complete that does not draw boldly upon the son's priceless
tributes. And so we come now to the last scene in the career of the
elder Borrow--his death-bed--which is also the last page of the first
volume of _Lavengro_. George Borrow's brother has arrived from abroad.
The little house in Willow Lane, Norwich, contained the mother and her
two sons sorrowfully awaiting the end, which came on 28th February 1824.

     At the dead hour of night--it might be about two--I was
     awakened from sleep by a cry which sounded from the room
     immediately below that in which I slept. I knew the cry--it was
     the cry of my mother; and I also knew its import, yet I made no
     effort to rise, for I was for the moment paralysed. Again the
     cry sounded, yet still I lay motionless--the stupidity of
     horror was upon me. A third time, and it was then that, by a
     violent effort, bursting the spell which appeared to bind me, I
     sprang from the bed and rushed downstairs. My mother was
     running wildly about the room; she had awoke and found my
     father senseless in the bed by her side. I essayed to raise
     him, and after a few efforts supported him in the bed in a
     sitting posture. My brother now rushed in, and, snatching up a
     light that was burning, he held it to my father's face. 'The
     surgeon! the surgeon!' he cried; then, dropping the light, he
     ran out of the room, followed by my mother; I remained alone,
     supporting the senseless form of my father; the light had been
     extinguished by the fall, and an almost total darkness reigned
     in the room. The form pressed heavily against my bosom; at last
     methought it moved. Yes, I was right; there was a heaving of
     the breast, and then a gasping. Were those words which I heard?
     Yes, they were words, low and indistinct at first, and then
     audible. The mind of the dying man was reverting to former
     scenes. I heard him mention names which I had often heard him
     mention before. It was an awful moment; I felt stupefied, but I
     still contrived to support my dying father. There was a pause;
     again my father spoke: I heard him speak of Minden, and of
     Meredith, the old Minden Serjeant, and then he uttered another
     name, which at one period of his life was much on his lips, the
     name of ----; but this is a solemn moment! There was a deep
     gasp: I shook, and thought all was over; but I was mistaken--my
     father moved, and revived for a moment; he supported himself in
     bed without my assistance. I make no doubt that for a moment he
     was perfectly sensible, and it was then that, clasping his
     hands, he uttered another name clearly, distinctly--it was the
     name of Christ. With that name upon his lips the brave old
     soldier sank back upon my bosom, and, with his hands still
     clasped, yielded up his soul.

Did Borrow's father ever really fight Big Ben Brain or Bryan in Hyde
Park, or is it all a fantasy of the artist's imagining? We shall never
know. Borrow called his _Lavengro_ 'An Autobiography' at one stage of
its inception, although he wished to repudiate the autobiographical
nature of his story at another. Dr. Knapp in his anxiety to prove that
Borrow wrote his own memoirs in _Lavengro_ and _Romany Rye_ tells us
that he had no creative faculty--an absurd proposition. But I think we
may accept the contest between Ben Brain and Thomas Borrow, and what a
revelation of heredity that impressive death-bed scene may be counted.
Borrow on one occasion in later life declared that his favourite hooks
were the Bible and the Newgate Calendar. We know that he specialised on
the Bible and Prize-Fighting in no ordinary fashion--and here we see his
father on his death-bed struggling between the religious sentiments of
his maturity and the one great worldly escapade of his early manhood.


[3] In the year 1870 Borrow was asked for material for a biography by
the editor of _Men of the Time_, a publication which many years later
was incorporated in the present _Who's Who_. He drew up two drafts in
his own handwriting, which are so interesting, and yet vary so much in
certain particulars, that we are tempted to print both here, or at least
that part of the second draft that differs from the first. The
concluding passages of both drafts are alike. The biography as it stands
in the 1871 edition of _Men of the Time_ appears to have been compiled
from the earlier of these drafts. It must have been another copy of
Draft No. 1 that was forwarded to the editor:

DRAFT I.--George Henry Borrow, born at East Dereham in the county of
Norfolk in the early part of the present century. His father was a
military officer, with whom he travelled about most parts of the United
Kingdom. He was at some of the best schools in England, and also for
about two years at the High School at Edinburgh. In 1818 he was articled
to an eminent solicitor at Norwich, with whom he continued five years.
He did not, however, devote himself much to his profession, his mind
being much engrossed by philology, for which at a very early period he
had shown a decided inclination, having when in Ireland acquired the
Irish language. At the age of twenty he knew little of the law, but was
well versed in languages, being not only a good classical scholar but
acquainted with French, Italian, Spanish, all the Celtic and Gothic
dialects, and also with the peculiar language of the English Romany
Chals or Gypsies. This speech, which, though broken and scanty, exhibits
evident signs of high antiquity, he had picked up amongst the wandering
tribes with whom he had formed acquaintance on a wild heath near
Norwich, where they were in the habit of encamping. At the expiration of
his clerkship, which occurred shortly after the death of his father, he
betook himself to London, and endeavoured to get a livelihood by
literature. For some time he was a hack author. His health failing he
left London, and for a considerable time lived a life of roving
adventure. In the year 1833 he entered the service of he British and
Foreign Bible Society, and being sent to Russia edited at Saint
Petersburg the New Testament in the Manchu or Chinese Tartar. Whilst at
Saint Petersburg he published a book called _Targum_, consisting of
metrical translations from thirty languages. He was subsequently for
some years agent of the Bible Society in Spain, where he was twice
imprisoned for endeavouring to circulate the Gospel. In Spain he mingled
much with the Calóre or Zincali, called by the Spaniards Gitanos or
Gypsies, whose language he found to be much the same as that of the
English Romany. At Madrid he edited the New Testament in Spanish, and
translated the Gospel of Saint Luke into the language of the Zincali.
Leaving the service of the Bible Society he returned to England in 1839,
and shortly afterwards married a Suffolk lady. In 1841 he published _The
Zincali_, or an account of the Gypsies of Spain, with a vocabulary of
their language, which he proved to be closely connected with the
Sanskrit. This work obtained almost immediately a European celebrity,
and was the cause of many learned works being published on the continent
on the subject of the Gypsies. In 1842 he gave to the world _The Bible
in Spain_, or an account of an attempt to circulate the Gospel in the
peninsula, a work which received a warm and eloquent eulogium from Sir
Robert Peel in the House of Commons. In 1844 he was wandering amongst
the Gypsies of Hungary, Walachia, and Turkey, gathering up the words of
their respective dialects of the Romany, and making a collection of
their songs. In 1851 he published _Lavengro_, in which he gives an
account of his early life, and in 1857 _The Romany Rye_, a sequel to the
same. His latest publication is _Wild Wales_. He has written many other
works, some of which are not yet published. He has an estate in Suffolk,
but spends the greater part of his time in wandering on foot through
various countries.

       *       *       *       *       *

DRAFT II.--George Henry Borrow was born at East Dereham in the county of
Norfolk on the 5th July 1803. His father, Thomas Borrow, who died
captain and adjutant of the West Norfolk Militia, was of an ancient but
reduced Cornish family, tracing descent from the de Burghs, and entitled
to carry their arms. His mother, Ann Perfrement, was a native of
Norfolk, and descended from a family of French Protestants banished from
France on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. He was the youngest of
two sons. His brother, John Thomas, who was endowed with various and
very remarkable talents, died at an early age in Mexico. Both the
brothers had the advantage of being at some of the first schools in
Britain. The last at which they were placed was the Grammar School at
Norwich, to which town their father came to reside at the termination of
the French war. In the year 1818 George Borrow was articled to an
eminent solicitor in Norwich, with whom he continued five years. He did
not devote himself much to his profession, his mind being engrossed by
another and very different subject--namely philology, for which at a
very early period he had shown a decided inclination, having when in
Ireland with his father acquired the Irish language. At the expiration
of his clerkship he knew little of the law, but was well versed in
languages, being not only a good Greek and Latin scholar, but acquainted
with French, Italian, and Spanish, all the Celtic and Gothic dialects,
and likewise with the peculiar language of the English Romany Chals or
Gypsies. This speech or jargon, amounting to about eleven hundred and
twenty-seven words, he had picked up amongst the wandering tribes with
whom he had formed acquaintance on Mousehold, a wild heath near Norwich,
where they were in the habit of encamping. By the time his clerkship was
expired his father was dead, and he had little to depend upon but the
exercise of his abilities such as they were. In 1823 he betook himself
to London, and endeavoured to obtain a livelihood by literature. For
some time he was a hack author, doing common work for booksellers. For
one in particular he prepared an edition of the Newgate Calendar, from
the careful study of which he has often been heard to say that he first
learned to write genuine English. His health failed, he left London, and
for a considerable time he lived a life of roving adventure.

[4] Knapp's _Life of Borrow_, vol. i. p. 6.

[5] The writer recalls at his own school at Downham Market in Norfolk an
old Crimean Veteran--Serjeant Canham--drilling the boys each week, thus
supplementing his income precisely in the same manner as did Serjeant

[6] The date has always hitherto been wrongly given. I find it in one of
Ann Borrow's notebooks, but although every vicar of every parish in
Chelmsford and Colchester has searched the registers for me, with
agreeable courtesy, I cannot discover a record of John's birthplace, and
am compelled to the belief that Dr. Knapp was wrong in suggesting one or
other of these towns.

[7] _Lavengro_, ch. xiv.

[8] _Lavengro_, ch. xxiii.



Throughout his whole life George Borrow adored his mother, who seems to
have developed into a woman of great strength of character far remote
from the pretty play-actor who won the heart of a young soldier at East
Dereham in the last years of the eighteenth century. We would gladly
know something of the early years of Ann Perfrement. Her father was a
farmer, whose farm at Dumpling Green we have already described. He did
not, however, 'farm his own little estate' as Borrow declared. The
grandfather--a French Protestant--came, if we are to believe Borrow,
from Caen in Normandy after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, but
there is no documentary evidence to support the contention. However, the
story of the Huguenot immigration into England is clearly bound up with
Norwich and the adjacent district. And so we may well take the name of
'Perfrement' as conclusive evidence of a French origin, and reject as
utterly untenable the not unnatural suggestion of Nathaniel Hawthorne,
that Borrow's mother was 'of gypsy descent.'[9] She was one of the eight
children of Samuel and Mary Perfrement, all of whom seem to have
devoted their lives to East Anglia.[10] We owe to Dr. Knapp's edition of
_Lavengro_ one exquisite glimpse of Ann's girlhood that is not in any
other issue of the book. Ann's elder sister, curious to know if she was
ever to be married, falls in with the current superstition that she must
wash her linen and 'watch' it drying before the fire between eleven and
twelve at night. Ann Perfrement was ten years old at the time. The two
girls walked over to East Dereham, purchased the necessary garment,
washed it in the pool near the house that may still be seen, and watched
and watched. Suddenly when the clock struck twelve they heard, or
thought they heard, a footstep on the path, the wind howled, and the
elder sister sprang to the door, locked and bolted it, and then fell in
convulsions on the floor. The superstition, which Borrow seems to have
told his mother had a Danish origin, is common enough in Ireland and in
Celtic lands. It could scarcely have been thus rehearsed by two Norfolk
children had they not had the blood of a more imaginative race in their
veins. In addition to this we find more than one effective glimpse of
Borrow's mother in _Lavengro_. We have already noted the episode in
which she takes the side of her younger boy against her husband, with
whom John was the favourite. We meet her again in the following
dialogue, with its pathetic allusions to Dante and to the complaint--a
kind of nervous exhaustion which he called 'the horrors'--that was to
trouble Borrow all his days:

     'What ails you, my child?' said a mother to her son, as he lay
     on a couch under the influence of the dreadful one; 'what ails
     you? you seem afraid!'

     _Boy._ And so I am; a dreadful fear is upon me.

     _Mother._ But of what? there is no one can harm you; of what
     are you apprehensive?

     _Boy._ Of nothing that I can express. I know not what I am
     afraid of, but afraid I am.

     _Mother._ Perhaps you see sights and visions. I knew a lady
     once who was continually thinking that she saw an armed man
     threaten her, but it was only an imagination, a phantom of the

     _Boy._ No armed man threatens me; and 'tis not a thing like
     that would cause me any fear. Did an armed man threaten me I
     would get up and fight him; weak as I am, I would wish for
     nothing better, for then, perhaps, I should lose this fear;
     mine is a dread of I know not what, and there the horror lies.

     _Mother._ Your forehead is cool, and your speech collected. Do
     you know where you are?

     _Boy._ I know where I am, and I see things just as they are;
     you are beside me, and upon the table there is a book which was
     written by a Florentine; all this I see, and that there is no
     ground for being afraid. I am, moreover, quite cool, and feel
     no pain--but, but----

     And then there was a burst of 'gemiti, sospiri ed alti guai.'
     Alas, alas, poor child of clay! as the sparks fly upward, so
     wast thou born to sorrow--Onward![11]

Our next glimpse of Mrs. Borrow is when after his father's death George
had shouldered his knapsack and made his way to London to seek his
fortune by literature. His elder brother had remained at home,
determined upon being a painter, but joined George in London, leaving
the widowed mother momentarily alone in Norwich.

     'And how are things going on at home?' said I to my brother,
     after we had kissed and embraced. 'How is my mother, and how is
     the dog?'

     'My mother, thank God, is tolerably well,' said my brother,
     'but very much given to fits of crying. As for the dog, he is
     not so well; but we will talk more of these matters anon,' said
     my brother, again glancing at the breakfast things. 'I am very
     hungry, as you may suppose, after having travelled all night.'

     Thereupon I exerted myself to the best of my ability to perform
     the duties of hospitality, and I made my brother welcome--I may
     say more than welcome; and when the rage of my brother's hunger
     was somewhat abated, we recommenced talking about the matters
     of our little family, and my brother told me much about my
     mother; he spoke of her fits of crying, but said that of late
     the said fits of crying had much diminished, and she appeared
     to be taking comfort; and, if I am not much mistaken, my
     brother told me that my mother had of late the prayer-book
     frequently in her hand, and yet oftener the Bible.[12]

Ann Borrow lived in Willow Lane, Norwich, for thirty-three years. That
Borrow was a devoted husband these pages will show. He was also a
devoted son. When he had made a prosperous marriage he tried hard to
persuade his mother to live with him at Oulton, but all in vain. She had
the wisdom to see that such an arrangement is rarely conducive to a
son's domestic happiness. She continued to live in the little cottage
made sacred by many associations until almost the end of her days. Here
she had lived in earlier years with her husband and her two ambitious
boys, and in Norwich, doubtless, she had made her own friendships,
although of these no record remains. The cottage still stands in its
modest court, but is at the moment untenanted. There is a letter extant
from Cecilia Lucy Brightwell, who wrote _The Life of Mrs. Opie_, to Mary
Borrow at Oulton, when Mrs. Borrow the elder had gone to live there,
which records the fact that in 1851, two years after Mrs. Borrow had
left the cottage in Willow Lane, it had already changed its appearance.
Mrs. Brightwell writes:

     Give my kind love to dear mother. Tell her I went past her
     house to-day and looked up the court. It is quite changed: all
     the trees and the ivy taken away.

The house was the property of Thomas King, a carpenter. You enter from
Willow Lane through a covered passage into what was then known as King's
Court. Here the little house faces you, and you meet it with a
peculiarly agreeable sensation, recalling more than one incident in
_Lavengro_ that transpired there. In 1897 the then mayor made the one
attempt of his city of a whole half century to honour Borrow by calling
this court Borrow's Court--thereby conferring a ridiculously small
distinction upon Borrow,[13] and removing a landmark connected with one
of its own worthy citizens. For Thomas King, the carpenter, was in
direct descent in the maternal line from the family of Parker, which
gave to Norwich one of its most distinguished sons in the famous
Archbishop of Queen Elizabeth's day. He extended his business as
carpenter sufficiently to die a prosperous builder. Of his two sons one,
also named Thomas, became physician to Prince Talleyrand, and married a
sister of John Stuart Mill.[14] All this by the way, but there is little
more to record of Borrow's mother apart from the letters addressed to
her by her son, which occur in their due place in these records. Yet one
little memorandum among my papers which bears Mrs. Borrow's signature
may well find place here:

     In the year 1797 I was at Canterbury. One night at about one
     o'clock Sir Robert Laurie and Captain Treve came to our
     lodgings and tapped at our bedroom door, and told my husband to
     get up, and get the men under arms without beat of drum as soon
     as possible, for that there was a mutiny at the Nore. My
     husband did so, and in less than two hours they had marched out
     of town towards Sheerness without making any noise. They had to
     break open the store-house in order to get provender, because
     the Quartermaster, Serjeant Rowe, was out of the way. The
     Dragoon Guards at that time at Canterbury were in a state of



The house is situated in Borrow's Court, formerly King's Court, Willow
Lane, St. Giles's, Norwich, and here Borrow lived at intervals from 1816
to his marriage in 1839. His mother lived here for thirty-three years
until 1849; his father died here, and is buried in the neighbouring
churchyard of St. Giles's.]


[9] 24th May 1856. Dining at Mr. Rathbone's one evening last week (21st
May), it was mentioned that Borrow, author of _The Bible in Spain_, is
supposed to be of gypsy descent by the mother's side. Hereupon Mr.
Martineau mentioned that he had been a schoolfellow of Borrow, and
though he had never heard of his gypsy blood, he thought it probable,
from Borrow's traits of character. He said that Borrow had once run away
from school, and carried with him a party of other boys, meaning to lead
a wandering life (_The English Notebooks of Nathaniel Hawthorne_, vol.
ii. 1858).

[10] Samuel and Maria Perfrement were married in 1766, the latter to
John Burcham. Two of her brothers survived Ann Borrow, Samuel Perfrement
dying in 1864 and Philip in 1867.

[11] _Lavengro_, ch. xviii.

[12] _Lavengro_, ch. xxxvii.

[13] In May 1913 the Lord Mayor of Norwich (Mr. A. M. Samuel) purchased
the Borrow house in Willow Lane for £375, and gave it to the city for
the purpose of a Borrow Museum.

[14] This Thomas King was a cousin of my mother; his father built the
Borrow House in Norwich in 1812. The only allusion to him I have ever
seen in print is contained in a letter on _Lavengro_ contributed by
Thomas Burcham to _The Britannia_ newspaper of June 26, 1851:--'With
your criticism on _Lavengro_ I cordially agree, and if you were
disappointed in the long promised work, what must I have been? A
schoolfellow of Borrow, who, in the autobiography, expected to find much
interesting matter, not only relating to himself, but also to
schoolfellows and friends--the associates of his youth, who, in
after-life, gained no slight notoriety--amongst them may be named Sir
James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak; poor Stoddard, who was murdered at
Bokhara, and who, as a boy, displayed that noble bearing and high
sensitiveness of honour which partly induced that fatal result; and
Thomas King, one of Borrow's early friends, who, the son of a carpenter
at Norwich, the landlord of Lavengro's father, after working in his
father's shop till nearly sixteen, went to Paris, entered himself as a
student at one of the hospitals, and through his energy and intellect
became internal surgeon of L'Hôtel Dieu and private physician to Prince
Talleyrand.' Thomas Borrow Burcham was Magistrate of Southwark Police
Court from 1856 till his death in 1869. He was the son of Maria
Perfrement, Borrow's aunt.



John Thomas Borrow was born two years before his younger brother, that
is, on the 15th April 1801. His father, then Serjeant Borrow, was
wandering from town to town, and it is not known where his elder son
first saw the light. John Borrow's nature was cast in a somewhat
different mould from that of his brother. He was his father's pride.
Serjeant Borrow could not understand George with his extraordinary taste
for the society of queer people--the wild Irish and the ragged Romanies.
John had far more of the normal in his being. Borrow gives us in
_Lavengro_ our earliest glimpse of his brother:

     He was a beautiful child; one of those occasionally seen in
     England, and in England alone; a rosy, angelic face, blue eyes,
     and light chestnut hair; it was not exactly an Anglo-Saxon
     countenance, in which, by the by, there is generally a cast of
     loutishness and stupidity; it partook, to a certain extent, of
     the Celtic character, particularly in the fire and vivacity
     which illumined it; his face was the mirror of his mind;
     perhaps no disposition more amiable was ever found amongst the
     children of Adam, united, however, with no inconsiderable
     portion of high and dauntless spirit. So great was his beauty
     in infancy, that people, especially those of the poorer
     classes, would follow the nurse who carried him about in order
     to look at and bless his lovely face. At the age of three
     months an attempt was made to snatch him from his mother's arms
     in the streets of London, at the moment she was about to enter
     a coach; indeed, his appearance seemed to operate so powerfully
     upon every person who beheld him, that my parents were under
     continual apprehension of losing him; his beauty, however, was
     perhaps surpassed by the quickness of his parts. He mastered
     his letters in a few hours, and in a day or two could decipher
     the names of people on the doors of houses and over the

John received his early education at the Norwich Grammar School, while
the younger brother was kept under the paternal wing. Father and mother,
with their younger boy George, were always on the move, passing from
county to county and from country to country, as Serjeant Borrow, soon
to be Captain, attended to his duties of drilling and recruiting, now in
England, now in Scotland, now in Ireland. We are given a fascinating
glimpse of John Borrow in _Lavengro_ by way of a conversation between
Mr. and Mrs. Borrow over the education of their children. It was agreed
that while the family were in Edinburgh the boys should be sent to the
High School, and so at the historic school that Sir Walter Scott had
attended a generation before the two boys were placed, John being
removed from the Norwich Grammar School for the purpose. Among his many
prejudices of after years Borrow's dislike of Scott was perhaps the most
regrettable, otherwise he would have gloried in the fact that their
childhood had had one remarkable point in common. Each boy took part in
the feuds between the Old Town and the New Town. Exactly as Scott
records his prowess at 'the manning of the Cowgate Port,' and the
combats maintained with great vigour, 'with stones, and sticks, and
fisticuffs,' as set forth in the first volume of Lockhart, so we have
not dissimilar feats set down in _Lavengro_. Side by side also with the
story of 'Green-Breeks,' which stands out in Scott's narrative of his
school combats, we have the more lurid account by Borrow of David
Haggart. Literary biography is made more interesting by such episodes of
likeness and of contrast.

We next find John Borrow in Ireland with his father, mother, and
brother. George is still a child, but he is precocious enough to be
learning the language, and thus laying the foundation of his interest in
little-known tongues. John is now an ensign in his father's regiment.
'Ah! he was a sweet being, that boy soldier, a plant of early promise,
bidding fair to become in after time all that is great, good, and
admirable.' Ensign John tells his little brother how pleased he is to
find himself, although not yet sixteen years old, 'a person in authority
with many Englishmen under me. Oh! these last six weeks have passed like
hours in heaven.' That was in 1816, and we do not meet John again until
five years later, when we hear of him rushing into the water to save a
drowning man, while twenty others were bathing who might have rendered
assistance. Borrow records once again his father's satisfaction:

     'My boy, my own boy, you are the very image of myself, the day
     I took off my coat in the park to fight Big Ben,' said my
     father, on meeting his son, wet and dripping, immediately after
     his bold feat. And who cannot excuse the honest pride of the
     old man--the stout old man?

In the interval the war had ended, and Napoleon had departed for St.
Helena. Peace had led to the pensioning of militia officers, or reducing
to half-pay of the juniors. The elder Borrow had settled in Norwich.
George was set to study at the Grammar School there, while his brother
worked in Old Crome's studio, for here was a moment when Norwich had its
interesting Renaissance, and John Borrow was bent on being an artist. He
had worked with Crome once before--during the brief interval that
Napoleon was at Elba--but now he set to in real earnest, and we have
evidence of a score of pictures by him that were catalogued In the
exhibitions of the Norwich Society of Artists between the years 1817 and
1824. They include one portrait of the artist's father, and two of his
brother George.[15] Old Crome died in 1821, and then John went to London
to study under Haydon. Borrow declares that his brother had real taste
for painting, and that 'if circumstances had not eventually diverted his
mind from the pursuit, he would have attained excellence, and left
behind him some enduring monument of his powers,' 'He lacked, however,'
he tells us, 'one thing, the want of which is but too often fatal to the
sons of genius, and without which genius is little more than a splendid
toy in the hands of the possessor--perseverance, dogged perseverance.'
It is when he is thus commenting on his brother's characteristics that
Borrow gives his own fine if narrow eulogy of Old Crome. John Borrow
seems to have continued his studies in London under Haydon for a year,
and then to have gone to Paris to copy pictures at the Louvre. He
mentions a particular copy that he made of a celebrated picture by one
of the Italian masters, for which a Hungarian nobleman paid him well.
His three years' absence was brought to an abrupt termination by news of
his father's illness. He returned to Norwich in time to stand by that
father's bedside when he died. The elder Borrow died, as we have seen,
in February 1824. The little home in King's Court was kept on for the
mother, and as John was making money by his pictures it was understood
that he should stay with her. On the 1st April, however, George started
for London, carrying the manuscript of _Romantic Ballads from the
Danish_ to Sir Richard Phillips, the publisher. On the 29th of the same
month he was joined by his brother John. John had come to London at his
own expense, but in the interests of the Norwich Town Council. The
council wanted a portrait of one of its mayors for St. Andrew's
Hall--that Valhalla of Norwich municipal worthies which still strikes
the stranger as well-nigh unique in the city life of England. The
municipality would fain have encouraged a fellow-citizen, and John
Borrow had been invited to paint the portrait. 'Why,' it was asked,
'should the money go into a stranger's pocket and be spent in London?'
John, however, felt diffident of his ability and declined, and this in
spite of the fact that the £100 offered for the portrait must have been
very tempting. 'What a pity it was,' he said, 'that Crome was dead.'
'Crome,' said the orator of the deputation that had called on John

     'Crome; yes, he was a clever man, a very clever man, in his
     way; he was good at painting landscapes and farm-houses, but he
     would not do in the present instance, were he alive. He had no
     conception of the heroic, sir. We want some person capable of
     representing our mayor standing under the Norman arch of the

At the mention of the heroic John bethought himself of Haydon, and
suggested his name; hence his visit to London, and his proposed
interview with Haydon. The two brothers went together to call upon the
'painter of the heroic' at his studio in Connaught Terrace, Hyde Park.
There was some difficulty about their admission, and it turned out
afterwards that Haydon thought they might be duns, as he was very hard
up at the time. His eyes glistened at the mention of the £100. 'I am not
very fond of painting portraits,' he said, 'but a mayor is a mayor, and
there is something grand in that idea of the Norman arch.' And thus
Mayor Hawkes came to be painted by Benjamin Haydon, and his portrait may
be found, not without diligent search, among the many municipal worthies
that figure on the walls of that most picturesque old Hall in Norwich.
Here is Borrow's description of the painting:

     The original mayor was a mighty, portly man, with a bull's
     head, black hair, body like that of a dray horse, and legs and
     thighs corresponding; a man six foot high at the least. To his
     bull's head, black hair, and body the painter had done justice;
     there was one point, however, in which the portrait did not
     correspond with the original--the legs were disproportionably
     short, the painter having substituted his own legs for those of
     the mayor.

John Borrow described Robert Hawkes to his brother as a person of many

     --big and portly, with a voice like Boanerges; a religious man,
     the possessor of an immense pew; loyal, so much so that I once
     heard him say that he would at any time go three miles to hear
     any one sing 'God save the King'; moreover, a giver of
     excellent dinners. Such is our present mayor, who, owing to
     his loyalty, his religion, and a little, perhaps, to his
     dinners, is a mighty favourite.

Haydon, who makes no mention of the Borrows in his _Correspondence_ or
_Autobiography_, although there is one letter of George Borrow's to him
in the latter work, had been in jail for debt three years prior to the
visit of the Borrows. He was then at work on his greatest success in
'the heroic'--_The Raising of Lazarus_, a canvas nineteen feet long by
fifteen high. The debt was one to house decorators, for the artist had
ever large ideas. The bailiff, he tells us,[17] was so agitated at the
sight of the painting of Lazarus in the studio that he cried out, 'Oh,
my God! Sir, I won't arrest you. Give me your word to meet me at twelve
at the attorney's, and I'll take it.' In 1821 Haydon married, and a
little later we find him again 'without a single shilling in the
world--with a large picture before me not half done.' In April 1822 he
is arrested at the instance of his colourman, 'with whom I had dealt for
fifteen years,' and in November of the same year he is arrested again at
the instance of 'a miserable apothecary.' In April 1823 we find him in
the King's Bench Prison, from which he was released in July. _The
Raising of Lazarus_ meanwhile had gone to pay his upholsterer £300, and
his _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_ had been sold for £240, although it
had brought him £3000 in receipts at exhibitions. Clearly heroic
pictures did not pay, and Haydon here took up 'the torment of
portrait-painting' as he called it.


From the painting by Benjamin Haydon in St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich. This
portrait has its association with Borrow in that his brother John was
sent to London to request Haydon to paint it, and Borrow describes the
picture in _Lavengro_.]

     'Can you wonder,' he wrote in July 1825, 'that I nauseate
     portraits, except portraits of clever people. I feel quite
     convinced that every portrait-painter, if there be purgatory,
     will leap at once to heaven, without this previous

Perhaps it was Mayor Hawkes who helped to inspire this feeling.[18] Yet
the hundred pounds that John Borrow was able to procure must have been a
godsend, for shortly before this we find him writing in his diary of the
desperation that caused him to sell his books. 'Books that had cost me
£20 I got only £3 for. But it was better than starvation.' Indeed it was
in April of this year that the very baker was 'insolent,' and so in May
1824, as we learn from Tom Taylor's _Life_, he produced 'a full-length
portrait of Mr. Hawkes, a late Mayor of Norwich, painted for St.
Andrew's Hall in that city.' But I must leave Haydon's troubled career,
which closes so far as the two brothers are concerned with a letter from
George to Haydon written the following year from 26 Bryanston Street,
Portman Square:

     DEAR SIR,--I should feel extremely obliged if you would allow
     me to sit to you as soon as possible. I am going to the south
     of France in little better than a fortnight, and I would sooner
     lose a thousand pounds than not have the honour of appearing in
     the picture.--Yours sincerely,

                GEORGE BORROW.[19]

As Borrow was at the time in a most impoverished condition, it is not
easy to believe that he would have wished to be taken at his word. He
certainly had not a thousand pounds to lose. But he did undoubtedly, as
we shall see, take that journey on foot through the south of France,
after the manner of an earlier vagabond of literature--Oliver Goldsmith.
Haydon was to be far too much taken up with his own troubles during the
coming months to think any more about the Borrows when he had once
completed the portrait of the mayor, which he had done by July of this
year. Borrow's letter to him is, however, an obvious outcome of a remark
dropped by the painter on the occasion of his one visit to his studio
when the following conversation took place:

     'I'll stick to the heroic,' said the painter; 'I now and then
     dabble in the comic, but what I do gives me no pleasure, the
     comic is so low; there is nothing like the heroic. I am engaged
     here on a heroic picture,' said he, pointing to the canvas;
     'the subject is "Pharaoh dismissing Moses from Egypt," after
     the last plague--the death of the first-born,--it is not far
     advanced--that finished figure is Moses': they both looked at
     the canvas, and I, standing behind, took a modest peep. The
     picture, as the painter said, was not far advanced, the Pharaoh
     was merely in outline; my eye was, of course, attracted by the
     finished figure, or rather what the painter had called the
     finished figure; but, as I gazed upon it, it appeared to me
     that there was something defective--something unsatisfactory in
     the figure. I concluded, however, that the painter,
     notwithstanding what he had said, had omitted to give it the
     finishing touch. 'I intend this to be my best picture,' said
     the painter; 'what I want now is a face for Pharaoh; I have
     long been meditating on a face for Pharaoh.' Here, chancing to
     cast his eye upon my countenance, of whom he had scarcely taken
     any manner of notice, he remained with his mouth open for some
     time, 'Who is this?' said he at last. 'Oh, this is my brother,
     I forgot to introduce him----.'

We wish that the acquaintance had extended further, but this was not to
be. Borrow was soon to commence the wanderings which were to give him
much unsatisfactory fame, and the pair never met again. Let us, however,
return to John Borrow, who accompanied Haydon to Norwich, leaving his
brother for some time longer to the tender mercies of Sir Richard
Phillips. John, we judge, seems to have had plenty of shrewdness, and
was not without a sense of his own limitations. A chance came to him of
commercial success in a distant land, and he seized that chance. A
Norwich friend, Allday Kerrison, had gone out to Mexico, and writing
from Zacatecas in 1825 asked John to join him. John accepted. His salary
in the service of the Real del Monte Company was to be £300 per annum.
He sailed for Mexico in 1826, having obtained from his Colonel, Lord
Orford, leave of absence for a year, it being understood that renewals
of that leave of absence might be granted. He was entitled to half-pay
as a Lieutenant of the West Norfolk Militia, and this he settled upon
his mother during his absence. His career in Mexico was a failure. There
are many of his letters to his mother and brother extant which tell of
the difficulties of his situation. He was in three Mexican companies in
succession, and was about to be sent to Columbia to take charge of a
mine when he was stricken with a fever, and died at Guanajuato on 22nd
November 1838. He had far exceeded any leave that his Colonel could in
fairness grant, and before his death his name had been taken off the
army rolls. The question of his pay produced a long correspondence,
which can be found in the archives of the Rolls Office. I have the
original drafts of these letters in Borrow's handwriting. The first
letter by Borrow is dated 8th September 1831; it is better to give the
correspondence in its order.[20] The letters speak for themselves, and
require no comment.


To the Rt. Hon. The Secretary at War

                WILLOW LANE, NORWICH, _September 8, 1831._

     SIR,--I take the liberty of troubling you with these lines for
     the purpose of enquiring whether there is any objection to the
     issuing of the disembodied allowance of my brother Lieut. John
     Borrow of the Welsh Norfolk Militia, who is at present abroad.
     I do this by the advice of the Army Pay Office, a power of
     Attorney having been granted to me by Lieut. Borrow to receive
     the said allowance for him. I beg leave to add that my brother
     was present at the last training of his regiment, that he went
     abroad with the leave of his Commanding Officer, which leave of
     absence has never been recalled, that he has sent home the
     necessary affidavits, and that there is no clause in the Pay
     and Clothing Act to authorize the stoppage of his allowance. I
     have the honor to remain, Sir, your most obedient, humble

                GEORGE BORROW.


To the Right Hon. The Secretary at War

                WILLOW LANE, NORWICH, _17th Septr. 1831._

     SIR,--I have to acknowledge the receipt of No. 33,063, dated
     16th inst., from the War Office, in which I am informed that
     the Office does not feel authorized to give instructions for
     the issue of the arrears of disembodied allowance claimed by my
     brother Lieut. Borrow of the West Norfolk, until he attend the
     next training of his regiment, and I now beg leave to ask the
     following question, and to request that I may receive an
     answer with all convenient speed. What farther right to his
     _present_ arrears of disembodied allowance will Lieut. Borrow's
     appearance at the _next training_ of his regiment confer upon
     him, and provided there is no authority at present for ordering
     the payment of those arrears, by what authority will the War
     Office issue instructions for the payment of the same, after
     his arrival in this country and attendance at the training?
     Sir, provided Lieut. Borrow is not entitled to his arrears of
     disembodied allowance at the present moment, he will be
     entitled to them at no future period, and I was to the last
     degree surprised at the receipt of an answer which tends to
     involve the office in an inextricable dilemma, for it is in
     fact a full acknowledgment of the justice of Lieutenant
     Borrow's claims, and a refusal to satisfy them until a certain
     time, which instantly brings on the question, 'By what
     authority does the War Office seek to detain the disembodied
     allowance of an officer, to which he is entitled by Act of
     Parliament, a moment after it has become due and is legally
     demanded?' If it be objected that it is not legally demanded, I
     reply that the affidavits filled up in the required form are in
     the possession of the Pay Office, and also a power of Attorney
     in the Spanish language, together with a Notarial translation,
     which power of Attorney has been declared by the Solicitor of
     the Treasury to be legal and sufficient. To that part of the
     Official letter relating to my brother's appearance at the next
     training I have to reply, that I believe he is at present lying
     sick in the Mountains above Vera Cruz, the pest-house of the
     New World, and that the last time I heard from him I was
     informed that it would be certain death for him to descend into
     the level country, even were he capable of the exertion, for
     the fever was then raging there. Full six months have elapsed
     since he prepared to return to his native country, having
     received information that there was a probability that his
     regiment would be embodied, (but) the hand of God overtook him
     on his route. He is the son, Sir, of an Officer who served his
     King abroad and at home for upwards of half a century; he had
     intended his disembodied allowance for the use of his widowed
     and infirm mother, but it must now be transmitted to him for
     his own support until he can arrive in England. But, Sir, I do
     not wish to excite compassion in his behalf, all I request is
     that he may have justice done him, and if it be, I shall be
     informed in the next letter, that the necessary order has been
     given to the Pay Office for the issue of his arrears. I have
     the honor to remain, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.


To the Right Hon. The Secretary at War

                NORWICH, _Novr. 24, 1831._

     SIR,--Not having been favoured with an answer to the letter
     which I last addressed to you concerning the arrears of
     disembodied allowance due to Lieut. John Borrow of the West
     Norfolk Militia, I again take the liberty of submitting this
     matter to your consideration. More than six months have elapsed
     since by virtue of a power of attorney granted to me by Lieut.
     Borrow, I made demand at the army Pay Office for a portion of
     those arrears, being the amount of two affidavits which were
     produced, but owing to the much unnecessary demur which ensued,
     chiefly with respect to the power of Attorney, since declared
     to be valid, that demand has not hitherto been satisfied. I
     therefore am compelled to beg that an order may be issued to
     the Pay Office for the payment to me of the sums specified in
     the said affidavits, that the amount may be remitted to Lieut.
     Borrow, he being at present in great need thereof. If it be
     answered that Lieut. Borrow was absent at the last training of
     his regiment, and that he is not entitled to any arrears of
     pay, I must beg leave to observe that the demand was legally
     made many months previous to the said training, and cannot now
     be set aside by his non-appearance, which arose from
     unavoidable necessity; he having for the last year been lying
     sick in one of the provinces of New Spain. And now, Sir, I will
     make bold to inquire whether Lieut. Borrow, the son of an
     Officer, who served his country abroad and at home, for upwards
     of fifty years, is to lose his commission for being incapable,
     from a natural visitation, of attending at the training; if it
     be replied in the affirmative, I have only to add that his case
     will be a cruelly hard one. But I hope and trust, Sir, that
     taking all these circumstances into consideration you will not
     _yet_ cause his name to be stricken off the list, and that you
     will permit him to retain his commission in the event of his
     arriving in England with all the speed which his health of body
     will permit, and that to enable him so to do his arrears[21]
     you will forthwith give an order for the payment of his
     arrears. I have the honor to be, Sir, your very humble servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.


To the Rt. Hon. The Secretary at War

                NORWICH, _Decr. 13, 1831._

     SIR,--I have just received a letter from my brother Lieutenant
     J. Borrow, from which it appears he has had leave of absence
     from his Colonel, the Earl of Orford, up to the present year.
     He says 'in a letter dated Wolterton, 21st June 1828, Lord
     Orford writes: "should you want a further leave I will not
     object to it." 20th May 1829 says: "I am much obliged to you
     for a letter of the 18th March, and shall be glad to allow you
     leave of absence for a twelvemonth." I enclose his last letter
     from Brussels, August 6, 1829. At the end it gives very evident
     proof that my remaining in Mexico _was not only by his
     Lordship's permission, but even by his advice_. Sir, if you
     should require it I will transmit this last letter of the Earl
     of Orford's, which my brother has sent to me, but beg leave to
     observe that no blame can be attached to his Lordship in this
     case, he having from a multiplicity of important business
     doubtless forgotten these minor matters. I hope now, Sir, that
     you will have no further objection to issue an order for the
     payment of that portion of my brother's arrears specified in
     the two affidavits in the possession of the Paymaster General.
     By the unnecessary obstacles which have been flung in my
     brother's way in obtaining his arrears he has been subjected to
     great inconvenience and distress. An early answer on this point
     will much oblige, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.


To the Rt. Hon. The Secretary at War

                WILLOW LANE, NORWICH, _May 24, 1833._

     SIR,--I take the liberty of addressing you for the purpose of
     requesting that an order be given to the Paymaster General for
     the issue of the arrears of pay of my brother Lieutenant John
     Borrow of the West Norfolk Militia, whose agent I am by virtue
     of certain powers of Attorney, and also for the continuance of
     the payment of his disembodied allowance. Lieutenant Borrow was
     not present at the last training of his Regiment, being in
     Mexico at the time, and knowing nothing of the matter. I beg
     leave to observe that no official nor other letter was
     dispatched to him by the adjutant to give him notice of the
     event, nor was I, his agent, informed of it, he therefore
     cannot have forfeited his arrears and disembodied allowance. He
     was moreover for twelve months previous to the training, and
     still is, so much indisposed from the effects of an attack of
     the yellow fever, that his return would be attended with great
     danger, which can be proved by the certificate of a Medical
     Gentleman practising in Norwich, who was consulted from Mexico.
     Lieutenants Harper and Williams, of the same Regiment, have
     recovered their pay and arrears, although absent at the last
     training, therefore it is clear and manifest that no objection
     can be made to Lieut. Borrow's claim, who went abroad with his
     Commanding Officer's permission, which those Gentlemen did not.
     In conclusion I have to add that I have stated nothing which I
     cannot substantiate, and that I court the most minute scrutiny
     into the matter. I have the honor to be, Sir, your most
     obedient and most humble servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.

[Illustration: GEORGE BORROW

From a portrait by his brother John Thomas Borrow taken in early youth
when his hair was black. This portrait is now in the National Portrait
Gallery, London.]

The last of these letters is in another handwriting than that of Borrow,
who by this time had started for St. Petersburg for the Bible Society.
The officials were adamant. To one letter the War Office replied that
they could not consider any claims until Lieutenant Borrow of the West
Norfolk Militia should have arrived in England to attend the training of
his regiment. These five letters are, as we have said, in the Rolls
Office, although the indefatigable Professor Knapp seems to have dropped
across only two of them there. Their chief interest is in that they are
the earliest in order of date of the hitherto known letters of Borrow.
There is one further letter on the subject written somewhat later by old
Mrs. Borrow. She also appeals to the War Office for her son's
allowance.[22] It would seem clear that the arrears were never paid.

To the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Orford

                WILLOW LANE, NORWICH, _26 May 1834._

     MY LORD,--I a few days since received the distressing
     intelligence of the death of my dear son John, a lieutenant in
     your Lordship's West Norfolk Regiment of Militia, after the
     sufferings of a protracted and painful illness; the melancholy
     event took place on the 22nd November last at Guanajuato in
     Mexico. Having on the former irreparable loss of my dear
     husband experienced your Lordship's kindness, I am induced to
     trespass on your goodness in a like case of heavy affliction,
     by requesting that you will be pleased to make the necessary
     application to the Secretary at War to authorise me to receive
     the arrears of pay due to my late son, viz.: ten months to the
     period of the training, and from that time to the day of his
     decease, for which I am informed it is requisite to have your
     Lordship's certificate of leave of absence from the said
     training. The amount is a matter of great importance to me in
     my very limited circumstances, having been at considerable
     expense in fitting him out, which, though at the time it
     occasioned me much pecuniary inconvenience, I thought it my
     duty to exert all my means to accomplish, my present distress
     of mind is the greater having to struggle with my feelings
     without the consolation and advice of my son George, who is at
     this time at St. Petersburg. Your Lordship will, I trust,
     pardon the liberty I am taking, and the trouble I am giving,
     and allow for the feelings of an afflicted mother. I have the
     honor to be your Lordship's most obedient servant,

                ANN BORROW.

I have said that there are letters of John Borrow's extant. Fragments of
these will be found in Dr. Knapp's book. These show a keen intelligence,
great practicality, and common sense. George--in 1829--had asked his
brother as to joining him in Mexico. 'If the country is soon settled I
shall say "yes,"' John answers. With equal wisdom he says to his
brother, 'Do not enter the army; it is a bad spec.' In this same year,
1829, John writes to ask whether his mother and brother are 'still
living in that windy house of old King's; it gives me the rheumatism to
think of it.' In 1830 he writes to his mother that he wishes his brother
were making money. 'Neither he nor I have any luck, he works hard and
remains poor.' In February of 1831 John writes to George suggesting that
he should endeavour to procure a commission in the regiment, and in July
of the same year to try the law again:

     I am convinced that your want of success in life is more owing
     to your being unlike other people than to any other cause.

John, as we have seen, died in Mexico of fever. George was at St.
Petersburg working for the Bible Society when his mother writes from
Norwich to tell him the news. John had died on 22nd November 1833. 'You
are now my only hope,' she writes, '... do not grieve, my dear George.
I trust we shall all meet in heaven. Put a crape on your hat for some
time.' Had George Borrow's brother lived it might have meant very much
in his life. There might have been nephews and nieces to soften the
asperity of his later years. Who can say? Meanwhile, _Lavengro_ contains
no happier pages than those concerned with this dearly loved brother.


_From a drawing by Fortunino Matania_]


[15] I am not able to trace more than three of John Borrow's pictures:
firstly, a portrait of George Borrow, reproduced in this book, which was
long in the possession of Mr. William Jarrold, the well-known publisher
of Norwich, and is now in the National Portrait Gallery in London,
having been purchased by the Director in 1912; secondly, the portrait of
Borrow's father in the possession of a lady at Leamington; and thirdly,
_The Judgment of Solomon_, which for a long time hung as an overmantel
in the Borrow Home in Willow Lane, Norwich. Dr. Knapp also saw in
Norwich 'A Portrait of a Gentleman,' by John Borrow. A second portrait
of George Borrow by his brother was taken by the latter to Mexico, and
has not since been heard of.

[16] _Lavengro_, ch. xxv.

[17] _Life of B. R. Haydon_, by Tom Taylor, 1853, vol. ii. p. 21.

[18] Or perhaps the experience contained in a letter to Miss Mitford in
1824 (_Benjamin Robert Haydon: Correspondence and Table Talk_, 2 vols.,

'I have had a horrid week with a mother and eight daughters! Mamma
_remembering_ herself a beauty; Sally and Betsey, etc., see her a
matron. They say, "Oh! this is more suitable to mamma's age," and "that
fits mamma's time of life!" But mamma does not agree. Betsey, and Sally,
and Eliza, and Patty want "mamma"! Mamma wants herself as she looked
when she was Betsey's age, and papa fell in love with her. So I am
distracted to death. I have a great mind to paint her with a long beard
like Salvator, and say, "That's _my_ idea of a fit accompaniment."'

[19] _Benjamin Robert Haydon: Correspondence and Table Talk_, with a
Memoir by his son Frederic Wordsworth Haydon, vol. i. pp. 360-61.

[20] From what are called the 'War Office Weeded Papers, Old Series, No.
33,063/17,' and succeeding numbers.

[21] ('his arrears' are ruled out.) Note by War Office.

[22] This letter is from the original among the Borrow Papers in my



We do not need to inquire too deeply as to Borrow's possible gypsy
origin in order to account for his vagabond propensities. The lives of
his parents before his birth, and the story of his own boyhood,
sufficiently account for the dominant tendency in Borrow. His father and
mother were married in 1793. Almost every year they changed their
domicile. In 1801 a son was born to them--they still continued to change
their domicile. Captain Borrow followed his regiment from place to
place, and his family accompanied him on these journeys. Dover,
Colchester, Sandgate, Canterbury, Chelmsford--these are some of the
towns where the Borrows sojourned. It was the merest accident--the Peace
of Amiens, to be explicit--that led them back to East Dereham in 1803,
so that the second son was born in his grandfather's house. George was
only a month old when he was carried off to Colchester; in 1804 he was
in the barracks of Kent, in 1805 of Sussex, in 1806 at Hastings, in 1807
at Canterbury, and so on. The indefatigable Dr. Knapp has recorded every
detail for all who love the minute, the meticulous, in biography. The
whole of the first thirteen years of Borrow's life is filled up in this
way, until in 1816 he and his parents found a home of some permanence in
Norwich. In 1809-10 they were at East Dereham, in 1810-11 at Norman
Cross, in 1812 wandering from Harwich to Sheffield, and in 1813
wandering from Sheffield to Edinburgh; in 1814 they were in Norwich, and
in 1815-16 in Ireland. In this last year they returned to Norwich, the
father to retire on full pay, and to live in Willow Lane until his
death. How could a boy, whose first twelve years of life had been made
up of such continual wandering, have been other than a restless,
nomad-loving man, envious of the free life of the gypsies, for whom
alone in later life he seemed to have kindliness? Those twelve years are
to most boys merely the making of a moral foundation for good or ill; to
Borrow they were everything, and at least four personalities captured
his imagination during that short span, as we see if we follow his
juvenile wanderings more in detail to Dereham, Norman Cross, Edinburgh,
and Clonmel, and the personalities are Lady Fenn, Ambrose Smith, David
Haggart, and Murtagh. Let us deal with each in turn:

A. EAST DEREHAM AND LADY FENN.--In our opening chapter we referred to
the lines in _Lavengro_, where Borrow recalls his early impressions of
his native town, or at least the town in the neighbourhood of the hamlet
in which he was born. Borrow, we may be sure, would have repudiated
'Dumpling Green' if he could. The name had a humorous suggestion. To
this day they call boys from Norfolk 'Norfolk Dumplings' in the
neighbouring shires. But East Dereham was something to be proud of. In
it had died the writer who, through the greater part of Borrow's life,
remained the favourite poet of that half of England which professed the
Evangelical creed in which Borrow was brought up. Cowper was buried here
by the side of Mary Unwin, and every Sunday little George would see his
tomb just as Henry Kingsley was wont to see the tombs in Chelsea Old
Church. The fervour of devotion to Cowper's memory that obtained in
those early days must have been a stimulus to the boy, who from the
first had ambitions far beyond anything that he was to achieve. Here was
his first lesson. The second came from Lady Fenn--a more vivid
impression for the child. Twenty years before Borrow was born Cowper had
sung her merits in his verse. She and her golden-headed cane are
commemorated in _Lavengro_. Dame Eleanor Fenn had made a reputation in
her time. As 'Mrs. Teachwell' and 'Mrs. Lovechild' she had published
books for the young of a most improving character, _The Child's
Grammar_, _The Mother's Grammar_, _A Short History of Insects_, and
_Cobwebs to Catch Flies_ being of the number. The forty-fourth edition
of _The Child's Grammar_ by Mrs. Lovechild appeared in 1851, and the
twenty-second edition of _The Mother's Grammar_ in 1849. But it is her
husband that her name most recalls to us. Sir John Fenn gave us the
delightful Paston Letters--of which Horace Walpole said that 'they make
all other letters not worth reading.' Walpole described 'Mr. Fenn of
East Dereham in Norfolk' as 'a smatterer in antiquity, but a very good
sort of man.' Fenn, who held the original documents of the Letters, sent
his first two volumes, when published, to Buckingham Palace, and the
King acknowledged the gifts by knighting the editor, who, however, died
in 1794, before George Borrow was born. His widow survived until 1813,
and Borrow was in his seventh or eighth year when he caught these
notable glimpses of his 'Lady Bountiful,' who lived in 'the
half-aristocratic mansion' of the town. But we know next to nothing of
Borrow in East Dereham, from which indeed he departed in his eighth
year. There are, however, interesting references to his memories of the
place in _Lavengro_. The first is where he recalls to his author friend,
who had offered him comet wine of 1811, his recollection of gazing at
the comet from the market-place of 'pretty D----' in 1811.[23] The
second reference is when he goes to church with the gypsies and dreams
of an incident in his childhood:

     It appeared as if I had fallen asleep in the pew of the old
     church of pretty Dereham. I had occasionally done so when a
     child, and had suddenly woke up. Yes, surely, I had been asleep
     and had woke up; but no! if I had been asleep I had been waking
     in my sleep, struggling, striving, learning and unlearning in
     my sleep. Years had rolled away whilst I had been asleep--ripe
     fruit had fallen, green fruit had come on whilst I had been
     asleep--how circumstances had altered, and above all myself
     whilst I had been asleep. No, I had not been asleep in the old
     church! I was in a pew, it is true, but not the pew of black
     leather in which I sometimes fell asleep in days of yore, but
     in a strange pew; and then my companions, they were no longer
     those of days of yore. I was no longer with my respectable
     father and mother, and my dear brother, but with the gypsy cral
     and his wife, and the gigantic Tawno, the Antinous of the dusky
     people. And what was I myself? No longer an innocent child but
     a moody man, bearing in my face, as I knew well, the marks of
     my strivings and strugglings; of what I had learnt and

But Borrow, as I have said, left Dereham in his eighth year, and the
author of a _History of East Dereham_ thus accounts for several
inaccuracies in his memory, both as to persons and things.

B. NORMAN CROSS AND AMBROSE SMITH.--In _Lavengro_ Borrow recalls
childish memories of Canterbury and of Hythe, at which latter place he
saw the church vault filled with ancient skulls as we may see it there
to-day. And after that the book which impressed itself most vividly upon
his memory was _Robinson Crusoe_. How much he came to revere Defoe the
pages of _Lavengro_ most eloquently reveal to us. 'Hail to thee, spirit
of Defoe! What does not my own poor self owe to thee?' In 1810-11 his
father was in the barracks at Norman Cross in Huntingdonshire. Here the
Government had bought a large tract of land, and built upon it a huge
wooden prison, and overlooking this a substantial barrack also of wood,
the only brick building on the land being the house of the Commandant.
The great building was destined for the soldiers taken prisoners in the
French wars. The place was constructed to hold 5000 prisoners, and 500
men were employed by the War Office in 1808 upon its construction. The
first batch of prisoners were the victims of the battle of Vimeiro in
that year. Borrow's description of the hardships of the prisoners has
been called in question by a later writer, Arthur Brown,[24] who denies
the story of bad food and 'straw-plait hunts,' and charges Borrow with
recklessness of statement. 'What could have been the matter with the man
to write such stuff as this?' asks Brown in reference to Borrow's story
of bad meat and bad bread: which was not treating a great author with
quite sufficient reverence. Borrow was but recalling memories of
childhood, a period when one swallow does make a summer. He had
doubtless seen examples of what he described, although it may not have
been the normal condition of things. Brown's own description of the
Norman Cross prison was interwoven with a love romance, in which a
French officer fell in love with a girl of the neighbouring village of
Yaxley, and after Waterloo returned to England and married her. When he
wrote his story a very old man was still living at Yaxley, who
remembered, as a boy, having often seen the prisoners on the road, some
very well dressed, some in tatters, a few in uniform. The milestone is
still pointed out which marked the limit beyond which the
officer-prisoners might not walk. The buildings were destroyed in 1814,
when all the prisoners were sent home, and the house of the Commandant,
now a private residence, alone remains to recall this episode in our
history. But Borrow's most vivid memory of Norman Cross was connected
with the viper given to him by an old man, who had rendered it harmless
by removing the fangs. It was the possession of this tame viper that
enabled the child of eight--this was Borrow's age at the time--to
impress the gypsies that he met soon afterwards, and particularly the
boy Ambrose Smith, whom Borrow introduced to the world in _Lavengro_ as
Jasper Petulengro. Borrow's frequent meetings with Petulengro[25] are no
doubt many of them mythical. He was an imaginative writer, and Dr.
Knapp's worst banality is to suggest that he 'invented nothing.' But
Petulengro was a very real person, who lived the usual roving gypsy
life. There is no reason to assume otherwise than that Borrow did
actually meet him at Norman Cross when he was eight years old, and
Ambrose a year younger, and not thirteen as Borrow states. In the
original manuscript of _Lavengro_ in my possession, as in the copy of it
in Mrs. Borrow's handwriting that came into the possession of Dr. Knapp,
'Ambrose' is given instead of 'Jasper,' and the name was altered as an
afterthought. It is of course possible that Borrow did not actually meet
Jasper until his arrival in Norwich, for in the first half of the
nineteenth century various gypsy families were in the habit of
assembling their carts and staking their tents on the heights above
Norwich, known as Mousehold Heath, that glorious tract of country that
has been rendered memorable in history by the tragic life of Kett the
tanner, and has been immortalised in painting by Turner and Crome. Here
were assembled the Smiths and Hernes and Boswells, names familiar to
every student of gypsy lore. Jasper Petulengro, as Borrow calls him, or
Ambrose Smith, to give him his real name, was the son of F[=a]den Smith,
and his name of Ambrose was derived from his uncle, Ambrose Smith, who
was transported for stealing harness. Ambrose was twice married, and it
was his second wife, Sanspirella Herne, who comes into the Borrow story.
He had families by both his wives. Ambrose had an extraordinary varied
career. It will be remembered by readers of the _Zincali_ that when he
visited Borrow at Oulton in 1842 he complained that 'There is no living
for the poor people, brother, the chokengres (police) pursue us from
place to place, and the gorgios are become either so poor or miserly
that they grudge our cattle a bite of grass by the wayside, and
ourselves a yard of ground to light a fire upon.' After a time Ambrose
left the eastern counties and crossed to Ireland. In 1868 he went to
Scotland, and there seems to have revived his fortunes. In 1878 he and
his family were encamped at Knockenhair Park, about a mile from Dunbar.
Here Queen Victoria, who was staying at Broxmouth Park near by with the
Dowager Duchess of Roxburghe, became interested in the gypsies, and paid
them a visit.[26] This was in the summer of 1878. Ambrose was then a
very old man. He died in the following October. His wife, Sanspi or
Sanspirella, received a message of sympathy from the Queen. Very shortly
after Ambrose's death, however, most of the family went off to America,
where doubtless they are now scattered, many of them, it may be, leading
successful lives, utterly oblivious of the association of one of their
ancestors with Borrow and his great book. Ambrose Smith was buried in
Dunbar cemetery, the Christian service being read over his grave, and
his friends erected a stone to him which bears the following
inscription, the hymn not being very accurately rendered:

            In Memory of
    AMBROSE SMITH, who died 22nd
    October 1878, aged 74 years.
           THOMAS, his son,
    who died 28th May 1879, aged 48 years.

    'Nearer my Father's House,
    Where the many mansions be;
    Nearer the Great White Throne,
    Nearer the Jasper Sea.

    'Nearer the bound of life
    Where we lay our burdens down;
    Nearer leaving the Cross,
    Nearer gaining the Crown.

    'Feel thee near me when my feet
    Are slipping over the brink;
    For it may be I'm nearer home,
    Nearer now than I think.'[27]

In December 1912 a London newspaper contained an account of a gypsy
meeting at which Jasper Petulengro was present. Not only was this
obviously impossible, but no relative of Ambrose Smith is apparently
alive in England who could by any chance have justified the imposition.

I have said that it is probable that Borrow did not meet Jasper or
Ambrose until later days in Norwich. I assume this as possible because
Borrow misstates the age of his boy friend in _Lavengro_. Ambrose was
actually a year younger than Borrow, whereas when George was eight years
of age he represents Ambrose as 'a lad of some twelve or thirteen
years,' and he keeps up this illusion on more than one later occasion.
However, we may take it as almost certain that Borrow received his first
impression of the gypsies in these early days at Norman Cross.

C. EDINBURGH AND DAVID HAGGART.--Three years separated the sojourn of
the Borrow family at Norman Cross from their sojourn in Edinburgh--three
years of continuous wandering. The West Norfolk Militia were watching
the French prisoners at Norman Cross for fifteen months. After that we
have glimpses of them at Colchester, at East Dereham again, at Harwich,
at Leicester, at Huddersfield, concerning which place Borrow
incidentally in _Wild Wales_ writes of having been at school, in
Sheffield, in Berwick-on-Tweed, and finally the family are in Edinburgh,
where they arrive on 6th April 1813. We have already referred to
Borrow's presence at the High School of Edinburgh, the school sanctified
by association with Walter Scott and so many of his illustrious
fellow-countrymen. He and his brother were at the High School for a
single session, that is, for the winter session of 1813-14, although
with the licence of a maker of fiction he claimed, in _Lavengro_, to
have been there for two years. But it is not in this brief period of
schooling of a boy of ten that we find the strongest influence that
Edinburgh gave to Borrow. Rather may we seek it in the acquaintanceship
with the once too notorious David Haggart. Seven years later than this
all the peoples of the three kingdoms were discussing David Haggart, the
Scots Jack Sheppard, the clever young prison-breaker, who was hanged at
Edinburgh in 1821 for killing his jailer in Dumfries prison. How much
David Haggart filled the imagination of every one who could read in the
early years of last century is demonstrated by a reference to the
Library Catalogue of the British Museum, where we find pamphlet after
pamphlet, broadsheet after broadsheet, treating of the adventures,
trial, and execution of this youthful jailbird. Even George Combe, the
phrenologist, most famous in his day, sat in judgment upon the young man
while he was in prison, and published a pamphlet which made a great
impression upon prison reformers. Combe submitted his observations to
Haggart in jail, and told the prisoner indeed that he had a greater
development of the organs of benevolence and justice than he had
anticipated. There cannot be a doubt but that Combe started in a
measure, through his treatment of this case, the theory that many of our
methods of punishment led to the making of habitual criminals.[28] But
by far the most valuable publication with regard to Haggart is one that
Borrow must have read in his youth. This was a life of Haggart written
by himself,[29] a little book that had a wide circulation, and
containing a preface by George Robertson, Writer to the Signet, dated
Edinburgh, 20th July 1821. Mr. Robertson tells us that a portion of the
story was written by Haggart, and the remainder taken down from his
dictation. The profits of this book, Haggart arranged, were to go in
part to the school of the jail in which he was confined, and part to be
devoted to the welfare of his younger brothers and sister. From this
little biography we learn that Haggart was born in Golden Acre, near
Canon-Mills, in the county of Edinburgh in 1801, his father, John
Haggart, being a gamekeeper, and in later years a dog-trainer. The boy
was at school under Mr. Robin Gibson at Canon-Mills for two years. He
left school at ten years of age, and from that time until his execution
seems to have had a continuous career of thieving. He tells us that
before he was eleven years old he had stolen a bantam cock from a woman
belonging to the New Town of Edinburgh. He went with another boy to
Currie, six miles from Edinburgh, and there stole a pony, but this was
afterwards returned. When but twelve years of age he attended Leith
races, and it was here that he enlisted in the Norfolk Militia, then
stationed in Edinburgh Castle. This may very well have brought him into
contact with Borrow in the way described in _Lavengro_. He was only,
however, in the regiment for a year, for when it was sent back to
England the Colonel in command of it obtained young Haggart's discharge.
These dates coincide with Borrow's presence in Edinburgh. Haggart's
history for the next five or six years was in truth merely that of a
wandering pickpocket, sometimes in Scotland, sometimes in England, and
finally he became a notorious burglar. Incidentally he refers to a girl
with whom he was in love. Her name was Mary Hill She belonged to
Ecclefechan, which Haggart more than once visited. He must therefore
have known Carlyle, who had not then left his native village. In 1820 we
find him in Edinburgh, carrying on the same sort of depredations both
there and at Leith--now he steals a silk plaid, now a greatcoat, and now
a silver teapot. These thefts, of course, landed him in jail, out of
which he breaks rather dramatically, fleeing with a companion to Kelso.
He had, indeed, more than one experience of jail. Finally, we find him
in the prison of Dumfries destined to stand his trial for 'one act of
house-breaking, eleven cases of theft, and one of prison-breaking.'
While in prison at Dumfries he planned another escape, and in the
attempt to hit a jailer named Morrin on the head with a stone he
unexpectedly killed him. His escape from Dumfries jail after this
murder, and his later wanderings, are the most dramatic part of his
book. He fled through Carlisle to Newcastle, and then thought that he
would be safer if he returned to Scotland, where he found the rewards
that were offered for his arrest faced him wherever he went. He turned
up again in Edinburgh, where he seems to have gone about freely,
although reading everywhere the notices that a reward of seventy guineas
was offered for his apprehension. Then he fled to Ireland, where he
thought that his safety was assured. At Dromore he was arrested and
brought before the magistrate, but he spoke with an Irish brogue, and
declared that his name was John McColgan, and that he came from Armagh.
He escaped from Dromore jail by jumping through a window, and actually
went so far as to pay three pound ten shillings for his passage to
America, but he was afraid of the sea, and changed his mind, and lost
his passage money at the last moment. After this he made a tour right
through Ireland, in spite of the fact that the Dublin _Hue and Cry_ had
a description of his person which he read more than once. His assurance
was such that in Tullamore he made a pig-driver apologise before the
magistrate for charging him with theft, although he had been living on
nothing else all the time he was in Ireland. Finally, he was captured,
being recognised by a policeman from Edinburgh. He was brought from
Ireland to Dumfries, landed in Calton jail, Edinburgh, and was tried and
executed. In addition to composing this biography Haggart wrote while in
Edinburgh jail a rather long set of verses, of which I give the
following two as specimens (the original autograph is in Lord Cockburn's
copy in the British Museum):

    Able and willing, you all will find
    Though bound in chains, still free in mind,
    For with these things I'll ne'er be grieved
    Although of freedom I'm bereaved.

    Now for the crime that I'm condemn'd,
    The same I never did intend,
    Only my liberty to take,
    As I thought my life did lie at stake.

D. IRELAND AND MURTAGH.--We may pass over the brief sojourn in Norwich
that was Borrow's lot in 1814, when the West Norfolk Militia left
Scotland. When Napoleon escaped from Elba the West Norfolk Regiment was
despatched to Ireland, and Captain Borrow again took his family with
him. We find the boy with his family at Clonmel from May to December of
1815. Here Borrow's elder brother, now a boy of fifteen, was promoted
from Ensign to Lieutenant, gaining in a year, as Dr. Knapp reminds us, a
position that it had taken his father twelve years to attain. In
January 1816 the Borrows moved to Templemore, returning to England in
May of that year. Borrow, we see, was less than a year in Ireland, and
he was only thirteen years of age when he left the country. But it seems
to have been the greatest influence that guided his career. Three of the
most fascinating chapters in _Lavengro_ were one outcome of that brief
sojourn, a thirst for the acquirement of languages was another, and
perhaps a taste for romancing a third. Borrow never came to have the
least sympathy with the Irish race, or its national aspirations. As the
son of a half-educated soldier he did not come in contact with any but
the vagabond element of Ireland, exactly as his father had done before
him.[30] Captain Borrow was asked on one occasion what language is being

     'Irish,' said my father with a loud voice, 'and a bad language
     it is.... There's one part of London where all the Irish
     live--at least the worst of them--and there they hatch their
     villainies to speak this tongue.'

And Borrow followed his father's prejudices throughout his life,
although in the one happy year in which he wrote _The Bible in Spain_ he
was able to do justice to the country that had inspired so much of his

     Honour to Ireland and her 'hundred thousand welcomes'! Her
     fields have long been the greenest in the world; her daughters
     the fairest; her sons the bravest and most eloquent. May they
     never cease to be so.[31]

In later years Orangemen were to him the only attractive element in the
life of Ireland, and we may be sure that he was not displeased when his
stepdaughter married one of them. Yet the creator of literature works
more wisely than he knows, and Borrow's books have won the wise and
benign appreciation of many an Irish and Roman Catholic reader, whose
nationality and religion Borrow would have anathematised. Irishmen may
forgive Borrow much, because he was one of the first of modern English
writers to take their language seriously.[32] It is true that he had but
the most superficial knowledge of it. He admits--in _Wild Wales_--that
he only knew it 'by ear.' The abundant Irish literature that has been so
diligently studied during the last quarter of a century was a closed
book to Borrow, whose few translations from the Irish have but little
value. Yet the very appreciation of Irish as a language to be seriously
studied in days before Dr. Sigerson, Dr. Douglas Hyde, and Dr. Kuno
Meyer had waxed enthusiastic and practical kindles our gratitude. Then
what a character is Murtagh. We are sure there was a Murtagh, although,
unlike Borrow's other boyish and vagabond friend Haggart, we know
nothing about him but what Borrow has to tell. Yet what a picture is
this where Murtagh wants a pack of cards:

     'I say, Murtagh!'

     'Yes, Shorsha dear!'

     'I have a pack of cards.'

     'You don't say so, Shorsha ma vourneen?--you don't say that you
     have cards fifty-two?'

     'I do, though; and they are quite new--never been once used.'

     'And you'll be lending them to me, I warrant?'

     'Don't think it!--But I'll sell them to you, joy, if you like.'

     'Hanam mon Dioul! am I not after telling you that I have no
     money at all?'

     'But you have as good as money, to me, at least; and I'll take
     it in exchange.'

     'What's that, Shorsha dear?'



     'Yes, you speak Irish; I heard you talking it the other day to
     the cripple. You shall teach me Irish.'

     'And is it a language-master you'd be making of me?'

     'To be sure!--what better can you do?--it would help you to
     pass your time at school. You can't learn Greek, so you must
     teach Irish!'

     Before Christmas, Murtagh was playing at cards with his brother
     Denis, and I could speak a considerable quantity of broken

With what distrust as we learn again and again in _Lavengro_ did Captain
Borrow follow his son's inclination towards languages, and especially
the Irish language, in his early years, although seeing that he was well
grounded in Latin. Little did the worthy Captain dream that this, and
this alone, was to carry down his name through the ages:

     Ah, that Irish! How frequently do circumstances, at first sight
     the most trivial and unimportant, exercise a mighty and
     permanent influence on our habits and pursuits!--how frequently
     is a stream turned aside from its natural course by some little
     rock or knoll, causing it to make an abrupt turn! On a wild
     road in Ireland I had heard Irish spoken for the first time;
     and I was seized with a desire to learn Irish, the acquisition
     of which, in my case, became the stepping-stone to other
     languages. I had previously learnt Latin, or rather Lilly; but
     neither Latin nor Lilly made me a philologist.

Borrow was never a philologist, but this first inclination was to lead
him to Spanish, to Welsh, and above all to Romany, and to make of him
the most beloved traveller and the strangest vagabond in all English


[23] This episode, rescued from the manuscript that came into Dr.
Knapp's possession, is only to be found in his _Life of Borrow_. He does
not include it in his edition of _Lavengro_. That Borrow revisited East
Dereham in later manhood we learn from Mr. S. H. Baldrey. See p. 420.

[24] _The French Prisoners of Norman Cross: A Tale_, by the Rev. Arthur
Brown, Rector of Catfield, Norfolk. London: Hodder Brothers, 18 New
Bridge Street, E.C., 1895. Mr. Brown remarks that there were sixteen
casernes, whereas Borrow says in _Lavengro_ that there were five or six.
'They looked,' he says, 'from outside exactly like a vast congeries of
large, high carpenter's shops, with roofs of glaring red tiles, and
surrounded by wooden palisades, very lofty and of prodigious strength.'

[25] The _Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society_ teaches me that the name
should be spelt Pétulengro.

[26] See _In Gipsy Tents_ by Francis Hindes Groome, p. 17. The late
Queen herself writes (_More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the
Highlands_, Smith, Elder and Co., 1884, p. 370), under the date Monday,
August 26th: 'At half-past three started with Beatrice, Leopold, and the
Duchess in the landau and four, the Duke, Lady Ely, General Ponsonby,
and Mr. Yorke going in the second carriage, and Lord Haddington riding
the whole way. We drove through the west part of Dunbar, which was very
full, and where we were literally pelted with small nosegays, till the
carriage was full of them; then for some distance past the village of
Belhaven, Knockindale Hill (Knockenhair Park), where were stationed in
their best attire the queen of the gypsies, an oldish woman with a
yellow handkerchief on her head, and a youngish, very dark, and truly
gypsy-like woman in velvet and a red shawl, and another woman. The queen
is a thorough gypsy, with a scarlet cloak and a yellow handkerchief
around her head. Men in red hunting-coats, all very dark, and all
standing on a platform here, bowed and waved their handkerchiefs. George
Smith told Mr. Myers that "the queen" was Sanspirella, that the
"gypsy-like woman in velvet and a red shawl" was Bidi, and the other
woman Delaia. The men were Ambrose, Tommy, and Alfred.'

[27] I am indebted to an admirable article by Thomas William Thompson in
the _Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society_, New Series, vol. iii, No, 3,
January 1910, for information concerning the later life of Jasper

[28] _Phrenological Observations on the Cerebral Development of David
Haggart, who was lately executed at Edinburgh for murder, and whose life
has since been published._ By George Combe, Esq. Edinburgh: W. and C.
Tait, 1821.

[29] _The Life of David Haggart, alias John Wilson, alias John Morison,
alias Barney McCone, alias John McColgan, alias Daniel O'Brien, alias
The Switcher_, written by himself while under sentence of death.
Edinburgh: Printed for W. and C. Tait by James Ballantyne and Co., 1821.

In the British Museum Library there is a copy with an autograph note by
Lord Cockburn on the fly-leaf, which runs as follows:

'This youngster was my client when he was tried and convicted. He was a
great villain. His life is almost all lies, and its chief curiosity
consists in the strange spirit of lying, the indulgence of which formed
his chief pleasure to the very last. The manuscript poem and picture of
himself (bound up at the end of the _Life_) were truly composed and
written by him. Being an enormous miscreant the phrenologists got hold
of him, and made the notorious facts of his character into evidence of
the truth of their system. He affected some decent poetry just before he
was hanged, and therefore the Saints took up his memory and wrote
monodies on him. His piety and the composition of the lies in this book
broke out at the same time. H. C.'

[30] Although Captain Borrow was never as ignorant as one or two of
Borrow's biographers, who call the Irish language 'Erse.'

[31] _The Bible in Spain_, ch. xx.

[32] Dr. Johnson was the first as Borrow was the second to earn this
distinction. Johnson, as reported by Boswell, says:

'_I have long wished that the Irish literature were cultivated. Ireland
is known by tradition to have been once the seat of piety and learning,
and surely it would be very acceptable to all those who are curious on
the origin of nations or the affinities of languages to be further
informed of the evolution of a people so ancient and once so
illustrious. I hope that you will continue to cultivate this kind of
learning which has too long been neglected, and which, if it be suffered
to remain in oblivion for another century, may perhaps never be

[33] _Lavengro._



Norwich may claim to be one of the most fascinating cities in the
kingdom. To-day it is known to the wide world by its canaries and its
mustard, although its most important industry is the boot trade, in
which it employs some eight thousand persons. To the visitor it has many
attractions. The lovely cathedral with its fine Norman arches, the
Erpingham Gate so splendidly Gothic, the noble Castle Keep so imposingly
placed with the cattle-market below--these are all as Borrow saw them
nearly a century ago. So also is the church of St. Peter Mancroft, where
Sir Thomas Browne lies buried. And to the picturesque Mousehold Heath
you may still climb and recall one of the first struggles for liberty
and progress that past ages have seen, the Norfolk rising under Robert
Kett which has only not been glorified in song and in picture, because--

    Treason doth never prosper--what's the reason?
    Why if it prosper none dare call it treason.

And Kett's so-called rebellion was destined to failure, and its leader
to cruel martyrdom. Mousehold Heath has been made the subject of
paintings by Turner and Crome, and of fine word pictures by George
Borrow. When Borrow and his parents lighted upon Norwich in 1814 and
1816 the city had inspiring literary associations. Before the invention
of railways it seemed not uncommon for a fine intellectual life to
emanate from this or that cathedral city. Such an intellectual life was
associated with Lichfield when the Darwins and the Edgeworths gathered
at the Bishop's Palace around Dr. Seward and his accomplished daughters.
Norwich has more than once been such a centre. The first occasion was in
the period of which we write, when the Taylors and the Gurneys
flourished in a region of ideas; the second was during the years from
1837 to 1849, when Edward Stanley held the bishopric. This later period
does not come into our story, as by that time Borrow had all but left
Norwich. But of the earlier period, the period of Borrow's more or less
fitful residence in Norwich--1814 to 1833--we are tempted to write at
some length. There were three separate literary and social forces in
Norwich in the first decades of the nineteenth century--the Gurneys of
Earlham, the Taylor-Austin group, and William Taylor, who was in no way
related to Mrs. John Taylor and her daughter, Sarah Austin. The Gurneys
were truly a remarkable family, destined to leave their impress upon
Norwich and upon a wider world. At the time of his marriage in 1773 to
Catherine Bell, John Gurney, wool-stapler of Norwich, took his young
wife, whose face has been preserved in a canvas by Gainsborough, to live
in the old Court House in Magdalen Street, which had been the home of
two generations of the Gurney family. In 1786 John Gurney went with his
continually growing family to live at Earlham Hall, some two or three
miles out of Norwich on the Earlham Road. Here that family of eleven
children--one boy had died in infancy--grew up. Not one but has an
interesting history, which is recorded by Mr. Augustus Hare and other
writers.[34] Elizabeth, the fourth daughter, married Joseph Fry, and as
Elizabeth Fry attained to a world-wide fame as a prison reformer. Hannah
married Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton of Slave Trade Abolition; Richenda, the
Rev. Francis Cunningham, who sent George Borrow upon his career; while
Louisa married Samuel Hoare of Hampstead. Of her Joseph John Gurney said
at her death in 1836 that she was 'superior in point of talent to any
other of my father's eleven children.' It is with the eleventh child,
however, that we have mainly to do, for this son, Joseph John Gurney,
alone appears in Borrow's pages. The picture of these eleven Quaker
children growing up to their various destinies under the roof of Earlham
Hall is an attractive one. Men and women of all creeds accepted the
catholic Quaker's hospitality. Mrs. Opie and a long list of worthies of
the past come before us, and when Mr. Gurney, in 1802, took his six
unmarried daughters to the Lakes Old Crome accompanied them as
drawing-master. There is, however, one picture in the story of
unforgettable charm, the episode of the courtship of Elizabeth Gurney by
Joseph Fry, and this I must quote from Mr. Augustus Hare's pleasant

     Mr. Fry had no intention of exposing himself to the possibility
     of a refusal. He bought a very handsome gold watch and chain,
     and laid it down upon a white seat--the white seat which still
     exists--in the garden at Earlham. 'If Betsy takes up that
     watch,' he said, 'it is a sign that she accepts me: if she does
     not take it up by a particular hour, it will show that I must
     leave Earlham.'

     The six sisters concealed themselves in six laurel-bushes in
     different parts of the grounds to watch. One can imagine their
     intense curiosity and anxiety. At last the tall, graceful
     Betsy, her flaxen hair now hidden under a Quaker cap, shyly
     emerged upon the gravel walk. She seemed scarcely conscious of
     her surroundings, as if, 'on the wings of prayer, she was being
     wafted into the unseen.' But she reached the garden seat, and
     there, in the sunshine, lay the glittering new watch. The sight
     of it recalled her to earth. She could not, could not, take it,
     and fled swiftly back to the house. But the six sisters
     remained in their laurel-bushes. They felt sure she would
     revoke, and they did not watch in vain. An hour elapsed, in
     which her father urged her, and in which conscience seemed to
     drag her forwards. Once again did the anxious sisters see Betsy
     emerge from the house, with more faltering steps this time, but
     still inwardly praying, and slowly, tremblingly, they saw her
     take up the watch, and the deed was done. She never afterwards
     regretted it, though it was a bitter pang to her when she
     collected her eighty-six children in the garden at Earlham and
     bade them farewell, and though she wrote in her journal as a
     bride, 'I cried heartily on leaving Norwich; the very stones in
     the street were dear to me.'

In 1803--the year of Borrow's birth--John Gurney became a partner in the
great London Bank of Overend and Gurney, and his son, Joseph John, in
that same year went up to Oxford. In 1809 Joseph returned to take his
place in the bank, and to preside over the family of unmarried sisters
at Earlham, father and mother being dead, and many members of the family
distributed. Incidentally, we are told by Mr. Hare that the Gurneys of
Earlham at this time drove out with four black horses, and that when
Bishop Bathurst, Stanley's predecessor, required horses for State
occasions to drive him to the cathedral, he borrowed these, and the more
modest episcopal horses took the Quaker family to their meeting-house.
It does not come within the scope of this book, discursive as I choose
to make it, to trace the fortunes of these eleven remarkable Gurney
children, or even of Borrow's momentary acquaintance, Joseph John
Gurney. His residence at Earlham, and his life of philanthropy, are a
romance in a way, although one wonders whether if the name of Gurney had
not been associated with so much of virtue and goodness the crash that
came long after Joseph John Gurney's death would have been quite so full
of affliction for a vast multitude. Joseph John Gurney died in 1847, in
his fifty-ninth year; his sister, Mrs. Fry, had died two years earlier.
The younger brother and twelfth child--Joseph John being the
eleventh--Daniel Gurney, the last of the twelve children, lived till
1880, aged eighty-nine. He had outlived by many years the catastrophe to
the great banking firm with which the name of Gurney is associated. This
great firm of Overend and Gurney, of which yet another brother, Samuel,
was the moving spirit, was organised nine years after his death--in
1865--into a joint-stock company, which failed to the amount of eleven
millions in 1866. At the time of the failure, which affected all
England, much as did the Liberator smash a generation later, the only
Gurney in the directorate was Daniel Gurney, to whom his sister, Lady
Buxton, allowed a pension of £2000 a year. This is a long story to tell
by way of introduction to one episode in _Lavengro_. Dr. Knapp places
this episode in the year 1817, when Borrow was but fourteen years of age
and Gurney was twenty-nine. I need not apologise at this point for a
very lengthy quotation from a familiar book:

     At some distance from the city, behind a range of hilly ground
     which rises towards the south-west, is a small river, the
     waters of which, after many meanderings, eventually enter the
     principal river of the district, and assist to swell the tide
     which it rolls down to the ocean. It is a sweet rivulet, and
     pleasant it is to trace its course from its spring-head, high
     up in the remote regions of Eastern Anglia, till it arrives in
     the valley behind yon rising ground; and pleasant is that
     valley, truly a good spot, but most lovely where yonder bridge
     crosses the little stream. Beneath its arch the waters rush
     garrulously into a blue pool, and are there stilled for a time,
     for the pool is deep, and they appear to have sunk to sleep.
     Farther on, however, you hear their voice again, where they
     ripple gaily over yon gravelly shallow. On the left the hill
     slopes gently down to the margin of the stream. On the right is
     a green level, a smiling meadow, grass of the richest decks the
     side of the slope; mighty trees also adorn it, giant elms, the
     nearest of which, when the sun is nigh its meridian, fling a
     broad shadow upon the face of the pool; through yon vista you
     catch a glimpse of the ancient brick of an old English hall. It
     has a stately look, that old building, indistinctly seen, as it
     is, among those umbrageous trees; you might almost suppose it
     an earl's home; and such it was, or rather upon its site stood
     an earl's home, in days of old, for there some old Kemp, some
     Sigurd, or Thorkild, roaming in quest of a hearthstead, settled
     down in the grey old time, when Thor and Freya were yet gods,
     and Odin was a portentous name. Yon old hall is still called
     the Earl's Home, though the hearth of Sigurd is now no more,
     and the bones of the old Kemp, and of Sigrith his dame, have
     been mouldering for a thousand years in some neighbouring
     knoll; perhaps yonder, where those tall Norwegian pines shoot
     up so boldly into the air. It is said that the old earl's
     galley was once moored where is now that blue pool, for the
     waters of that valley were not always sweet; yon valley was
     once an arm of the sea, a salt lagoon, to which the war-barks
     of 'Sigurd, in search of a home,' found their way.

     I was in the habit of spending many an hour on the banks of
     that rivulet with my rod in my hand, and, when tired with
     angling, would stretch myself on the grass, and gaze upon the
     waters as they glided past, and not unfrequently, divesting
     myself of my dress, I would plunge into the deep pool which I
     have already mentioned, for I had long since learned to swim.
     And it came to pass, that on one hot summer's day, after
     bathing in the pool, I passed along the meadow till I came to a
     shallow part, and, wading over to the opposite side, I adjusted
     my dress, and commenced fishing in another pool, beside which
     was a small clump of hazels.

     And there I sat upon the bank, at the bottom of the hill which
     slopes down from 'the Earl's Home'; my float was on the waters,
     and my back was towards the old hall. I drew up many fish,
     small and great, which I took from off the hook mechanically,
     and flung upon the bank, for I was almost unconscious of what I
     was about, for my mind was not with my fish. I was thinking of
     my earlier years--of the Scottish crags and the heaths of
     Ireland--and sometimes my mind would dwell on my studies--on
     the sonorous stanzas of Dante, rising and falling like the
     waves of the sea--or would strive to remember a couplet or two
     of poor Monsieur Boileau.

     'Canst thou answer to thy conscience for pulling all those fish
     out of the water and leaving them to gasp in the sun?' said a
     voice, clear and sonorous as a bell.

     I started, and looked round. Close behind me stood the tall
     figure of a man, dressed in raiment of quaint and singular
     fashion, but of goodly materials. He was in the prime and
     vigour of manhood; his features handsome and noble, but full of
     calmness and benevolence; at least I thought so, though they
     were somewhat shaded by a hat of finest beaver, with broad
     drooping eaves.

     'Surely that is a very cruel diversion in which thou indulgest,
     my young friend?' he continued.

     'I am sorry for it, if it be, sir,' said I, rising; 'but I do
     not think it cruel to fish.'

     'What are thy reasons for thinking so?'

     'Fishing is mentioned frequently in Scripture. Simon Peter was
     a fisherman.'

     'True; and Andrew his brother. But thou forgettest; they did
     not follow fishing as a diversion, as I fear thou doest.--Thou
     readest the Scriptures?'


     'Sometimes?--not daily?--that is to be regretted. What
     profession dost thou make?--I mean to what religious
     denomination dost thou belong, my young friend?'


     'It is a very good profession--there is much of Scripture
     contained in its liturgy. Dost thou read aught beside the


     'What dost thou read besides?'

     'Greek, and Dante.'

     'Indeed! then thou hast the advantage over myself; I can only
     read the former. Well, I am rejoiced to find that thou hast
     other pursuits beside thy fishing. Dost thou know Hebrew?'


     'Thou shouldest study it. Why dost thou not undertake the

     'I have no books.'

     'I will lend thee books, if thou wish to undertake the study. I
     live yonder at the hall, as perhaps thou knowest. I have a
     library there, in which are many curious books, both in Greek
     and Hebrew, which I will show to thee, whenever thou mayest
     find it convenient to come and see me. Farewell! I am glad to
     find that thou hast pursuits more satisfactory than thy cruel

     And the man of peace departed, and left me on the bank of the
     stream. Whether from the effect of his words or from want of
     inclination to the sport, I know not, but from that day I
     became less and less a practitioner of that 'cruel fishing.' I
     rarely flung line and angle into the water, but I not
     unfrequently wandered by the banks of the pleasant rivulet. It
     seems singular to me, on reflection, that I never availed
     myself of his kind invitation. I say singular, for the
     extraordinary, under whatever form, had long had no slight
     interest for me: and I had discernment enough to perceive that
     yon was no common man. Yet I went not near him, certainly not
     from bashfulness, or timidity, feelings to which I had long
     been an entire stranger. Am I to regret this? perhaps, for I
     might have learned both wisdom and righteousness from those
     calm, quiet lips, and my after-course might have been widely
     different. As it was, I fell in with other queer companions,
     from whom I received widely different impressions than those I
     might have derived from him. When many years had rolled on,
     long after I had attained manhood, and had seen and suffered
     much, and when our first interview had long been effaced from
     the mind of the man of peace, I visited him in his venerable
     hall, and partook of the hospitality of his hearth. And there
     I saw his gentle partner and his fair children, and on the
     morrow he showed me the books of which he had spoken years
     before by the side of the stream. In the low quiet chamber,
     whose one window, shaded by a gigantic elm, looks down the
     slope towards the pleasant stream, he took from the shelf his
     learned books, Zohar and Mishna, Toldoth Jesu and Abarbenel.

     'I am fond of these studies,' said he, 'which, perhaps, is not
     to be wondered at, seeing that our people have been compared to
     the Jews. In one respect I confess we are similar to them: we
     are fond of getting money. I do not like this last author, this
     Abarbenel, the worse for having been a money-changer. I am a
     banker myself, as thou knowest.'

     And would there were many like him, amidst the money-changers
     of princes! The hall of many an earl lacks the bounty, the
     palace of many a prelate the piety and learning, which adorn
     the quiet Quaker's home!

It is doubtful if Borrow met Joseph John Gurney more than on the one
further occasion to which he refers above. At the commencement of his
engagement with the Bible Society he writes to its secretary, Mr. Jowett
(March 18, 1833), to say that he must procure from Mr. Cunningham 'a
letter of introduction from him to John Gurney,' and this second and
last interview must have taken place at Earlham before his departure for

But if Borrow was to come very little under the influence of Joseph John
Gurney, his destiny was to be considerably moulded by the action of
Gurney's brother-in-law, Cunningham, who first put him in touch with the
Bible Society. Joseph John Gurney and his sisters were the very life of
the Bible Society in those years.


[34] See _The Gurneys of Earlham_ by Augustus J. C. Hare, 2 vols., 1895;
_Memoirs of Joseph Gurney; with Selections from his Journal and
Correspondence_, edited by Joseph Bevan Braithwaite, 2 vols., 1834.



With the famous 'Taylors of Norwich' Borrow seems to have had no
acquaintance, although he went to school with a connection of that
family, James Martineau. These socially important Taylors were in no way
related to William Taylor of that city, who knew German literature, and
scandalised the more virtuous citizens by that, and perhaps more by his
fondness for wine and also for good English beer--a drink over which his
friend Borrow was to become lyrical. When people speak of the Norwich
Taylors they refer to the family of Dr. John Taylor, who in 1783 was
elected to the charge of the Presbyterian congregation in Norwich. His
eldest son, Richard, married Margaret, the daughter of a mayor of
Norwich of the name of Meadows; and Sarah, another daughter of that same
worshipful mayor, married David Martineau, grandson of Gaston Martineau,
who fled from France at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes.[35] Harriet and James Martineau were grandchildren of this
David. The second son of Richard and Margaret Taylor was John, who
married Susannah Cook. Susannah is the clever Mrs. John Taylor of this
story, and her daughter of even greater ability was Sarah Austin, the
wife of the famous jurist. Their daughter married Sir Alexander
Duff-Gordon. She was the author of _Letters from Egypt_, a book to which
George Meredith wrote an 'Introduction,' so much did he love the writer.
Lady Duff-Gordon's daughter, Janet Ross, wrote the biography of her
mother, her grandmother, and Mrs. John Taylor, in _Three Generations of
Englishwomen_. A niece, Lena Duff-Gordon (Mrs. Waterfield), has written
pleasant books of travel, and so, for five generations, this family has
produced clever women-folk. But here we are only concerned with Mrs.
John Taylor, called by her friends the 'Madame Roland of Norwich.' Lucy
Aikin describes how she 'darned her boy's grey worsted stockings while
holding her own with Southey, Brougham, or Mackintosh.' One of her
daughters married Henry Reeve, and, as I have said, another married John
Austin. Borrow was twenty years of age and living in Norwich when Mrs.
Taylor died. It is to be regretted that in the early impressionable
years his position as a lawyer's clerk did not allow of his coming into
a circle in which he might have gained certain qualities of _savoir
faire_ and _joie de vivre_, which he was all his days to lack. Of the
Taylor family the Duke of Sussex said that they reversed the ordinary
saying that it takes nine tailors to make a man. The witticism has been
attributed to Sydney Smith, but Mrs. Ross gives evidence that it was the
Duke's--the youngest son of George III. In his _Life of Sir James
Mackintosh_ Basil Montagu, referring to Mrs. John Taylor, says:

     Norwich was always a haven of rest to us, from the literary
     society with which that city abounded. Dr. Sayers we used to
     visit, and the high-minded and intelligent William Taylor; but
     our chief delight was in the society of Mrs. John Taylor, a
     most intelligent and excellent woman, mild and unassuming,
     quiet and meek, sitting amidst her large family, occupied with
     her needle and domestic occupations, but always assisting, by
     her great knowledge, the advancement of kind and dignified
     sentiment and conduct.

We note here the reference to 'the high-minded and intelligent William
Taylor,' because William Taylor, whose influence upon Borrow's destiny
was so pronounced, has been revealed to many by the slanders of Harriet
Martineau, that extraordinary compound of meanness and generosity, of
poverty-stricken intelligence and rich endowment. In her
_Autobiography_, published in 1877, thirty-four years after Robberds's
_Memoir of William Taylor_, she dwells upon the drinking propensities of
William Taylor, who was a schoolfellow of her father's. She admits,
indeed, that Taylor was an ideal son, whose 'exemplary filial duty was a
fine spectacle to the whole city,' and she continues:

     His virtues as a son were before our eyes when we witnessed his
     endurance of his father's brutality of temper and manners, and
     his watchfulness in ministering to the old man's comfort in his
     infirmities. When we saw, on a Sunday morning, William Taylor
     guiding his blind mother to chapel ... we could forgive
     anything that had shocked or disgusted us at the dinner-table.

Well, Harriet Martineau is not much to be trusted as to Taylor's virtues
or his vices, for her early recollections are frequently far from the
mark. Thus she refers under the date 1833 to the fact that:

     The great days of the Gurneys were not come yet. The remarkable
     family from which issued Mrs. Fry and Joseph John Gurney were
     then a set of dashing young people, dressed in gay riding
     habits and scarlet boots, and riding about the country to balls
     and gaieties of all sorts.

As a matter of fact, in this year, 1833, Mrs. Fry was the mother of
fifteen children, and had nine grandchildren, and Joseph John Gurney had
been twice a widower. Both brother and sister were zealous
philanthropists at this date. And so we may take with some measure of
qualification Harriet Martineau's many strictures upon Taylor's drinking
habits, which were, no doubt, those of his century and epoch; although
perhaps beyond the acceptable standard of Norwich, where the Gurneys
were strong teetotallers, and the Bishop once invited Father Mathew,
then in the glory of his temperance crusade, to discourse in his
diocese. Indeed, Robberds, his biographer, tells us explicitly that
these charges of intemperance were 'grossly and unjustly exaggerated.'
William Taylor's life is pleasantly interlinked with Scott and Southey.
Lucy Aikin records that she heard Sir Walter Scott declare to Mrs.
Barbauld that Taylor had laid the foundations of his literary
career--had started him upon the path of glory through romantic verse to
romantic prose, from _The Lay of the Last Minstrel_ to _Waverley_. It
was the reading of Taylor's translation of Bürger's _Lenore_ that did
all this. 'This, madam,' said Scott, 'was what made me a poet. I had
several times attempted the more regular kinds of poetry without
success, but here was something that I thought I could do.' Southey
assuredly loved Taylor, and each threw at the feet of the other the
abundant literary learning that both possessed. This we find in a
correspondence which, reading more than a century after it was written,
still has its charm.[36] The son of a wealthy manufacturer of Norwich,
Taylor was born in that city in 1765. He was in early years a pupil of
Mrs. Barbauld. At fourteen he was placed in his father's counting-house,
and soon afterwards was sent abroad, in the company of one of the
partners, to acquire languages. He learnt German thoroughly at a time
when few Englishmen had acquaintance with its literature. To Goethe's
genius he never did justice, having been offended by that great man's
failure to acknowledge a book that Taylor sent to him, exactly as
Carlyle and Borrow alike were afterwards offended by similar
delinquencies on the part of Walter Scott. When he settled again in
Norwich he commenced to write for the magazines, among others for Sir
Richard Phillips's _Monthly Magazine_, and to correspond with Southey.
At the time Southey was a poor man, thinking of abandoning literature
for the law, and hopeful of practising in Calcutta. The Norwich
Liberals, however, aspired to a newspaper to be called _The Iris_.
Taylor asked Southey to come to Norwich and to become its editor.
Southey declined and Taylor took up the task. The _Norwich Iris_ lasted
for two years. Southey never threw over his friendship for Taylor,
although their views ultimately came to be far apart. Writing to Taylor
in 1803 he says:

     Your theology does nothing but mischief; it serves only to thin
     the miserable ranks of Unitarianism. The regular troops of
     infidelity do little harm; and their trumpeters, such as
     Voltaire and Paine, not much more. But it is such pioneers as
     Middleton, and you and your German friends, that work
     underground and sap the very citadel. That _Monthly Magazine_
     is read by all the Dissenters--I call it the Dissenters'
     Obituary--and here are you eternally mining, mining, under the
     shallow faith of their half-learned, half-witted, half-paid,
     half-starved pastors.

But the correspondence went on apace, indeed it occupies the larger part
of Robberds's two substantial volumes. It is in the very last letter
from Taylor to Southey that we find an oft-quoted reference to Borrow.
The letter is dated 12th March 1821:

     A Norwich young man is construing with me Schiller's _Wilhelm
     Tell_ with the view of translating it for the Press. His name
     is George Henry Borrow, and he has learnt German with
     extraordinary rapidity; indeed, he has the gift of tongues,
     and, though not yet eighteen, understands twelve
     languages--English, Welsh, Erse, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German,
     Danish, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese; he would like
     to get into the Office for Foreign Affairs, but does not know

Although this was the last letter to Southey that is published in the
memoir, Taylor visited Southey at Keswick in 1826. Taylor's three
volumes of the _Historic Survey of German Poetry_ appeared in 1828,
1829, and 1830. Sir Walter Scott, in the last year of his life, wrote
from Abbotsford on 23rd April 1832 to Taylor to protest against an
allusion to 'William Scott of Edinburgh' being the author of a
translation of _Goetz von Berlichingen_. Scott explained that he (Walter
Scott) was that author, and also made allusion to the fact that he had
borrowed with acknowledgment two lines from Taylor's _Lenore_ for his

    Tramp, tramp along the land,
    Splash, splash across the sea.

adding that his recollection of the obligation was infinitely stronger
than of the mistake. It would seem, however, that the name 'William' was
actually on the title-page of the London edition of 1799 of _Goetz von
Berlichingen_. When Southey heard of the death of Taylor in 1836 he

     I was not aware of my old friend's illness, or I should
     certainly have written to him, to express that unabated regard
     which I have felt for him eight-and-thirty years, and that hope
     which I shall ever feel, that we may meet in the higher state
     of existence. I have known very few who equalled him in
     talents--none who had a kinder heart; and there never lived a
     more dutiful son, or a sincerer friend.

Taylor's many books are now all forgotten. His translation of Bürger's
_Lenore_ one now only recalls by its effect upon Scott; his translation
of Lessing's _Nathan the Wise_ has been superseded. His voluminous
_Historic Survey of German Poetry_ only lives through Carlyle's severe
review in the _Edinburgh Review_[37] against the many strictures in
which Taylor's biographer attempts to defend him. Taylor had none of
Carlyle's inspiration. Not a line of his work survives in print in our
day, but it was no small thing to have been the friend and correspondent
of Southey, whose figure in literary history looms larger now than it
did when Emerson asked contemptuously, 'Who's Southey?'; and to have
been the wise mentor of George Borrow is in itself to be no small thing
in the record of letters. There is a considerable correspondence between
Taylor and Sir Richard Phillips in Robberds's _Memoir_, and Phillips
seemed always anxious to secure articles from Taylor for the _Monthly_,
and even books for his publishing-house. Hence the introduction from
Taylor that Borrow carried to London might have been most effective if
Phillips had had any use for poor and impracticable would-be authors.


[35] _Three Generations of Englishwomen_, by Janet Ross, vol. i, p. 3.

[36] _A Memoir of the Life and Writings of William Taylor of Norwich:
Containing his Correspondence of many years with the late Robert
Southey, Esquire, and Original Letters from Sir Walter Scott and other
Eminent Literary Men_. Compiled and edited by J. W. Robberds of Norwich,
2 vols. London: John Murray, 1843.

[37] Reprinted in Carlyle's _Miscellanies_.



When George Borrow first entered Norwich after the long journey from
Edinburgh, Joseph John Gurney, born 1788, was twenty-six years of age,
and William Taylor, born 1765, was forty-nine. Borrow was eleven years
of age. Captain Borrow took temporary lodgings at the Crown and Angel
Inn in St. Stephen's Street, George was sent to the Grammar School, and
his elder brother started to learn drawing and painting with John Crome
('Old Crome') of many a fine landscape. But the wanderings of the family
were not yet over. Napoleon escaped from Elba, and the West Norfolk
Militia were again put on the march. This time it was Ireland to which
they were destined, and we have already shadowed forth, with the help of
_Lavengro_, that momentous episode. The victory of Waterloo gave Europe
peace, and in 1816 the Borrow family returned to Norwich, there to pass
many quiet years. In 1819 Captain Borrow was pensioned--eight shillings
a day. From 1816 till his father's death in 1824 Borrow lived in Norwich
with his family. Their home was in King's Court, Willow Lane, a modest
one-storey house in a _cul de sac_, which we have already described. In
King's Court, Willow Lane, Borrow lived at intervals until his marriage
in 1840, and his mother continued to live in the house until, in 1849,
she agreed to join her son and daughter-in-law at Oulton. Yet the house
comes little into the story of Borrow's life, as do the early houses of
many great men of letters, nor do subsequent houses come into his story;
the house at Oulton and the house at Hereford Square are equally barren
of association; the broad highway and the windy heath were Borrow's
natural home. He was never a 'civilised' being; he never shone in
drawing-rooms. Let us, however, return to Borrow's schooldays, of which
the records are all too scanty, and not in the least invigorating. The
Norwich Grammar School has an interesting tradition. We pass to the
cathedral through the beautiful Erpingham Gate built about 1420 by Sir
Thomas Erpingham, and we find the school on the left. It was originally
a chapel, and the porch is at least five hundred years old. The
schoolroom is sufficiently old-world-looking for us to imagine the
schoolboys of past generations sitting at the various desks. The school
was founded in 1547, but the registers have been lost, and so we know
little of its famous pupils of earlier days. Lord Nelson and Rajah
Brooke are the two names of men of action that stand out most honourably
in modern times among the scholars[38]. In literature Borrow had but one
schoolfellow, who afterwards came to distinction--James Martineau.
Borrow's headmaster was the Reverend Edward Valpy, who held the office
from 1810 to 1829, and to whom is credited the destruction of the
school archives. Borrow's two years of the Grammar School were not
happy ones. Borrow, as we have shown, was not of the stuff of which
happy schoolboys are made. He had been a wanderer--Scotland, Ireland,
and many parts of England had assisted in a fragmentary education; he
was now thirteen years of age, and already a vagabond at heart. But let
us hear Dr. Augustus Jessopp, who was headmaster of the same Grammar
School from 1859 to 1879. Writing of a meeting of old Norvicensians to
greet the Rajah, Sir James Brooke, in 1858, when there was a great
'whip' of the 'old boys,' Dr. Jessopp tells us that Borrow, then living
at Yarmouth, did not put in an appearance among his schoolfellows:

     My belief is that he never was popular among them, that he
     never attained a high place in the school, and he was a 'free
     boy.' In those days there were a certain number of day boys at
     Norwich school, who were nominated by members of the
     Corporation, and who paid no tuition fees; they had to submit
     to a certain amount of snubbing at the hands of the boarders,
     who for the most part were the sons of the county gentry. Of
     course, such a proud boy as George Borrow would resent this,
     and it seems to have rankled with him all through his life....
     To talk of Borrow as a 'scholar' is absurd. 'A picker-up of
     learning's crumbs' he was, but he was absolutely without any of
     the training or the instincts of a scholar. He had had little
     education till he came to Norwich, and was at the Grammar
     School little more than two years. It is pretty certain that he
     knew no Greek when he entered there, and he never seems to have
     acquired more than the elements of that language.[39]


We pass through the Erpingham Gate direct to the Cathedral, the Grammar
School being on our left. Here it is on our right. Facing the school is
a statue of Lord Nelson, who was at school here about 1768-70. Borrow
was at school here 1816-18.]

Yet the only real influence that Borrow carried away from the Grammar
School was concerned with foreign languages. He did take to the French
master and exiled priest, Thomas d'Eterville, a native of Caen, who had
emigrated to Norwich in 1793. D'Eterville taught French, Italian, and
apparently, to Borrow, a little Spanish; and Borrow, with his wonderful
memory, must have been his favourite pupil. In his edition of _Lavengro_
Dr. Knapp publishes a brief dialogue between master and pupil, which
gives us an amusing glimpse of the worthy d'Eterville, whom the boys
called 'poor old Detterville.' In the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters
of _Lavengro_ he is pleasantly described by his pupil, who adds, with
characteristic 'bluff,' that d'Eterville said 'on our arrival at the
conclusion of Dante's _Hell_, "vous serez un jour un grand philologue,
mon cher."'

Borrow's biographers have dwelt at length upon one episode of his
schooldays--the flogging he received from Valpy for playing truant with
three other boys. One, by name John Dalrymple, faltered on the way, the
two faithful followers of George in his escapade being two brothers
named Theodosius and Francis Purland, whose father kept a chemist's shop
in Norwich. The three boys wandered away as far as Acle, eleven miles
from Norwich, whence they were ignomimously brought back and birched.
John Dalrymple's brother Arthur, son of a distinguished Norwich surgeon,
who became Clerk of the Peace at Norwich in 1854, and died in 1868, has
left a memorandum concerning Borrow, from which I take the following

     'I was at school with Borrow at the Free School, Norwich, under
     the Rev. E. Valpy. He was an odd, wild boy, and always wanting
     to turn Robinson Crusoe or Buccaneer. My brother John was about
     Borrow's age, and on one occasion Borrow, John, and another,
     whose name I forget, determined to run away and turn pirates.
     John carried an old horse pistol and some potatoes as his
     contribution to the general stock, but his zeal was soon
     exhausted, he turned back at Thorpe Lunatic Asylum; but Borrow
     went off to Yarmouth, and lived on the Caister Denes for a few
     days. I don't remember hearing of any exploits. He had a
     wonderful facility for learning languages, which, however, he
     never appears to have turned to account.

James Martineau, afterwards a popular preacher and a distinguished
theologian of the Unitarian creed, here comes into the story. He was a
contemporary with Borrow at the Norwich Grammar School as already
stated, but the two boys had little in common. There was nothing of the
vagabond about James Martineau, and concerning Borrow--if on no other
subject--he would probably have agreed with his sister Harriet, whose
views we shall quote in a later chapter. In Martineau's _Memoirs_,
voluminous and dull, there is only one reference to Borrow;[41] but a
correspondent once ventured to approach the eminent divine concerning
the rumour as to Martineau's part in the birching of the author of _The
Bible in Spain_, and received the following letter:

                35 GORDON SQUARE, LONDON, W.C., _December 6, 1895._

     DEAR SIR,--Two or three years ago Mr. Egmont Hake (author, I
     think, of a life of Gordon) sought an interview with me, as
     reputed to be Borrow's sole surviving schoolfellow, in order to
     gather information or test traditions about his schooldays.
     This was with a view to a memoir which he was compiling, he
     said, out of the literary remains which had been committed to
     him by his executors. I communicated to him such recollections
     as I could clearly depend upon and leave at his disposal for
     publication or for suppression as he might think fit. Under
     these circumstances I feel that they are rightfully his, and
     that I am restrained from placing them at disposal elsewhere
     unless and until he renounces his claim upon them. But though I
     cannot repeat them at length for public use, I am not precluded
     from correcting inaccuracies in stories already in circulation,
     and may therefore say that Mr. Arthur Dalrymple's version of
     the Yarmouth escapade is wrong in making his brother John a
     partner in the transaction. John had quite too much sense for
     that; the only victims of Borrow's romance were two or three
     silly boys--mere lackeys of Borrow's commanding will--who
     helped him to make up a kit for the common knapsack by
     pilferings out of their fathers' shops.

     The Norwich gentleman who fell in with the boys lying in the
     hedgerow near the half-way inn knew one of them, and wormed out
     of him the drift of their enterprise, and engaging a postchaise
     packed them all into it, and in his gig saw them safe home.

     It is true that I had to _hoist_ (not 'horse') Borrow for his
     flogging, but not that there was anything exceptional or
     capable of leaving permanent scars in the infliction. Mr. Valpy
     was not given to excess of that kind.

     I have never read _Lavengro_, and cannot give any opinion about
     the correct spelling of the 'Exul sacerdos' name.

     Borrow's romance and William Taylor's love of paradox would
     doubtless often run together, like a pair of well-matched
     steeds, and carry them away in the same direction. But there
     was a strong--almost wild--_religious_ sentiment in Borrow, of
     which only faint traces appear in W. T. In Borrow it had always
     a tendency to pass from a sympathetic to an antipathetic form.
     He used to gather about him three or four favourite
     schoolfellows, after they had learned their class lesson and
     before the class was called up, and with a sheet of paper and
     book on his knee, invent and tell a story, making rapid little
     pictures of each _dramatis persona_ that came upon the stage.
     The plot was woven and spread out with much ingenuity, and the
     characters were various and well discriminated. But two of
     them were sure to turn up in every tale, the Devil and the
     Pope, and the working of the drama invariably had the same
     issue--the utter ruin and disgrace of these two potentates. I
     had often thought that there was a presage here of the mission
     which produced _The Bible in Spain_.--I am, dear sir, very
     truly yours,

                JAMES MARTINEAU.[42]

Yet it is amusing to trace the story through various phases. Dr.
Martineau's letter was the outcome of his attention being called to a
statement made in a letter written by a lady in Hampstead to a friend in
Norwich, which runs as follows:

                _11th Nov. 1893._

     Dr. Martineau, to amuse some boys at a school treat, told us
     about George Borrow, his schoolfellow: he was always reading
     adventures of smugglers and pirates, etc., and at last, to
     carry out his ideas, got a set of his schoolfellows to promise
     to join him in an expedition to Yarmouth, where he had heard of
     a ship that he thought would take them. The boys saved all the
     food they could from their meals, and what money they had, and
     one morning started very early to walk to Yarmouth. They got
     half-way--to Blofield, I think--when they were so tired they
     had to rest by the roadside, and eat their lunch. While they
     were resting, a gentleman, whose son was at the Free School,
     passed in his gig. He thought it was very odd so many boys,
     some of whom he had seen, should be waiting about, so he drove
     back and asked them if they would come to dine with him at the
     inn. Of course they were only too glad, poor boys: but as soon
     as he had got them all in he sent his servant with a letter to
     Mr. Valpy, who sent a coach and brought them all back. You know
     what a cruel man that Dr. V. was. He made Dr. Martineau take
     poor Borrow on his back, 'horse him,' I think he called it, and
     flogged him so that Dr. M. said he would carry the marks for
     the rest of his life, and he had to keep his bed for a
     fortnight. The other boys got off with lighter punishment, but
     Borrow was the ring-leader. Those were the 'good old times'! I
     have heard Dr. M. say that not for another life would he go
     through the misery he suffered as 'town boy' at that school.

Miss Frances Power Cobbe, who lived next door to Borrow in Hereford
Square, Brompton, in the 'sixties, as we shall see later, has a word to
say on the point:

     Dr. Martineau once told me that he and Borrow had been
     schoolfellows at Norwich some sixty years before. Borrow had
     persuaded several of his other companions to rob their fathers'
     tills, and then the party set forth to join some smugglers on
     the coast. By degrees the truants all fell out of line and were
     picked up, tired and hungry, along the road, and brought back
     to Norwich School, where condign chastisement awaited them.
     George Borrow, it seems, received his large share _horsed_ on
     James Martineau's back! The early connection between the two
     old men, as I knew them, was irresistibly comic to my mind.
     Somehow when I asked Mr. Borrow once to come and meet some
     friends at our house he accepted our invitation as usual, but,
     on finding that Dr. Martineau was to be of the party, hastily
     withdrew his acceptance on a transparent excuse; nor did he
     ever after attend our little assemblies without first
     ascertaining that Dr. Martineau was not to be present.[43]

James Martineau died in 1900, but the last of Borrow's schoolfellows to
die was, I think, Mr. William Edmund Image, a Justice of the Peace and
Deputy Lieutenant for Suffolk. He resided at Herringswell House, near
Mildenhall, where he died in 1903, aged 96 years.

Mr. Valpy of the Norwich Grammar School is scarcely to be blamed that he
was not able to make separate rules for a quite abnormal boy. Yet, if
he could have known, Borrow was better employed playing truant and
living up to his life-work as a glorified vagabond than in studying in
the ordinary school routine. George Borrow belonged to a type of
boy--there are many such--who learn much more out of school than in its
bounds; and the boy Borrow, picking up brother vagabonds in Tombland
Fair, and already beginning, in his own peculiar way, his language
craze, was laying the foundations that made _Lavengro_ possible.


[38] In earlier times we have the names of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of
Canterbury; Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice; John Caius, the founder of
Caius College, Cambridge; and Samuel Clarke, divine and metaphysician;
and, indeed, a very considerable list of England's worthies.

[39] 'Lights on Borrow,' by the Rev. Augustus Jessopp, D. D., Hon. Canon
of Norwich Cathedral, in _The Daily Chronicle_, 30th April 1900.

[40] The whole memorandum on a sheet of notepaper, signed A. D., is in
the possession of Mrs. James Stuart of Carrow Abbey, Norwich, who has
kindly lent it to me.

[41] This is a contemptuous reference in Martineau's own words to
'George Borrow, the writer and actor of romance,' in the allusion to
Martineau's schoolfellows under Edward Valpy. Martineau was at the
Norwich Grammar School for four years--from 1815 to 1819. See _Life and
Letters_, by James Drummond and C. B. Upton, vol. i. pp. 16, 17.

[42] Reprint from an article by W. A. Dutt on 'George Borrow and James
Martineau' in _The Sphere_ for 30th August 1902. The letter was written
to Mr. James Hooper, of Norwich.

[43] _Life of Frances Power Cobbe as told by Herself_, ch. xvii.



Doubts were very frequently expressed in Borrow's lifetime as to his
having really been articled to a solicitor, but the indefatigable Dr.
Knapp set that point at rest by reference to the Record Office. Borrow
was articled to Simpson and Rackham of Tuck's Court, St. Giles's,
Norwich, 'for the term of five years'--from March 1819 to March
1824--and these five years were spent in and about Norwich, and were
full of adventure of a kind with which the law had nothing to do. If
Borrow had had the makings of a lawyer he could not have entered the
profession under happier auspices. The firm was an old established one
even in his day. It had been established in Tuck's Court as Simpson and
Rackham, then it became Rackham and Morse, Rackham, Cooke and Rackham,
and Rackham and Cooke; finally, Tom Rackham, a famous Norwich man in his
day, moved to another office, and the firm of lawyers who occupy the
original offices in our day is called Leathes Prior and Sons. Borrow has
told us frankly what a poor lawyer's clerk he made--he was always
thinking of things remote from that profession, of gypsies, of
prize-fighters, and of word-makers. Yet he loved the head of the firm,
William Simpson, who must have been a kind and tolerant guide to the
curious youth. Simpson was for a time Town Clerk of Norwich, and his
portrait hangs in the Blackfriars Hall. Borrow went to live with Mr.
Simpson in the Upper Close near the Grammar School. Archdeacon Groome
recalled having seen Borrow 'reserved and solitary' haunting the
precincts of the playground; another schoolboy, William Drake,
remembered him as 'tall, spare, dark-complexioned.'[44] Here is Borrow's
account of his master and of his work:

     A more respectable-looking individual was never seen; he really
     looked what he was, a gentleman of the law--there was nothing
     of the pettifogger about him: somewhat under the middle size,
     and somewhat rotund in person, he was always dressed in a full
     suit of black, never worn long enough to become threadbare. His
     face was rubicund, and not without keenness; but the most
     remarkable thing about him was the crown of his head, which was
     bald, and shone like polished ivory, nothing more white,
     smooth, and lustrous. Some people have said that he wore false
     calves, probably because his black silk stockings never
     exhibited a wrinkle; they might just as well have said that he
     waddled, because his boots creaked; for these last, which were
     always without a speck, and polished as his crown, though of a
     different hue, did creak, as he walked rather slowly. I cannot
     say that I ever saw him walk fast.

     He had a handsome practice, and might have died a very rich
     man, much richer than he did, had he not been in the habit of
     giving rather expensive dinners to certain great people, who
     gave him nothing in return, except their company; I could never
     discover his reasons for doing so, as he always appeared to me
     a remarkably quiet man, by nature averse to noise and bustle;
     but in all dispositions there are anomalies. I have already
     said that he lived in a handsome house, and I may as well here
     add that he had a very handsome wife, who both dressed and
     talked exceedingly well.

     So I sat behind the deal desk, engaged in copying documents of
     various kinds; and in the apartment in which I sat, and in the
     adjoining ones, there were others, some of whom likewise copied
     documents, while some were engaged in the yet more difficult
     task of drawing them up; and some of these, sons of nobody,
     were paid for the work they did, whilst others, like myself,
     sons of somebody, paid for being permitted to work, which, as
     our principal observed, was but reasonable, forasmuch as we not
     unfrequently utterly spoiled the greater part of the work
     intrusted to our hands.[45]

[Illustration: WILLIAM SIMPSON

From a portrait by Thomas Phillips, R.A.

Mr. Simpson was Chamberlain of the city of Norwich and Treasurer of the
county of Norfolk. He was Town-Clerk of Norwich in 1826, and has an
interest in connection with George Borrow in that Borrow was articled to
him as a lawyer's clerk and describes him in _Wild Wales_ as 'the
greatest solicitor in East Anglia--indeed I may say the prince of all
English solicitors.'

The portrait hangs in the Black Friars Hall, Norwich.]

And he goes on to tell us that he studied the Welsh language and later
the Danish; his master said that his inattention would assuredly make
him a bankrupt, and his father sighed over his eccentric and
impracticable son. The passion for languages had indeed caught hold of
Borrow. Among my Borrow papers I find a memorandum in the handwriting of
his stepdaughter in which she says:

     I have often heard his mother say, that when a mere child of
     eight or nine years, all his pocket-money was spent in
     purchasing foreign Dictionaries and Grammars; he formed an
     acquaintance with an old woman who kept a bookstall in the
     market-place of Norwich, whose son went voyages to Holland with
     cattle, and brought home Dutch books, which were eagerly bought
     by little George. One day the old woman was crying, and told
     him that her son was in prison. 'For doing what?' asked the
     child. 'For taking a silk handkerchief out of a gentleman's
     pocket.' 'Then,' said the boy, 'your son stole the pocket
     handkerchief?' 'No dear, no, my son did not steal,--he only

We have no difficulty in recognising here the heroine of the Moll
Flanders episode in _Lavengro_. But it was not from casual meetings with
Welsh grooms and Danes and Dutchmen that Borrow acquired even such
command of various languages as was undoubtedly his. We have it on the
authority of an old fellow-pupil at the Grammar School, Burcham,
afterwards a London police-magistrate, that William Taylor gave him
lessons in German,[46] but he acquired most of his varied knowledge in
these impressionable years in the Corporation Library of Norwich. Dr.
Knapp found, in his most laudable examination of some of the books,
Borrow's neat pencil notes, the making of which was not laudable on the
part of his hero. One book here marked was on ancient Danish literature,
the author of which, Olaus Wormius, gave him the hint for calling
himself Olaus Borrow for a time--a signature that we find in some of
Borrow's published translations. Borrow at this time had aspirations of
a literary kind, and Thomas Campbell accepted a translation of
Schiller's _Diver_, which was signed 'O. B.' There were also
translations from the German, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish, in the
_Monthly Magazine_. Clearly Borrow was becoming a formidable linguist,
if not a very exact master of words. Still he remained a vagabond, and
loved to wander over Mousehold Heath, to the gypsy encampment, and to
make friends with the Romany folk; he loved also to haunt the horse
fairs for which Norwich was so celebrated; and he was not averse from
the companionship of wilder spirits who loved pugilism, if we may trust
_Lavengro_, and if we may assume, as we justly may, that he many times
cast youthful, sympathetic eyes on John Thurtell in these years, the
to-be murderer of Weare, then actually living with his father in a house
on the Ipswich Road, Thurtell, the father, being in no mean position in
the city--an alderman, and a sheriff in 1815. Yes, there was plenty to
do and to see in Norwich, and Borrow's memories of it were nearly always

     A fine old city, truly, is that, view it from whatever side you
     will; but it shows best from the east, where ground, bold and
     elevated, overlooks the fair and fertile valley in which it
     stands. Gazing from those heights, the eye beholds a scene
     which cannot fail to awaken, even in the least sensitive bosom,
     feelings of pleasure and admiration. At the foot of the heights
     flows a narrow and deep river, with an antique bridge
     communicating with a long and narrow suburb, flanked on either
     side by rich meadows of the brightest green, beyond which
     spreads the city; the fine old city, perhaps the most curious
     specimen at present extant of the genuine old English town.
     Yes, there it spreads from north to south, with its venerable
     houses, its numerous gardens, its thrice twelve churches, its
     mighty mound, which, if tradition speaks true, was raised by
     human hands to serve as the grave-heap of an old heathen king,
     who sits deep within it, with his sword in his hand, and his
     gold and silver treasures about him. There is a grey old castle
     upon the top of that mighty mound; and yonder, rising three
     hundred feet above the soil, from among those noble forest
     trees, behold that old Norman master-work, that cloud-encircled
     cathedral spire, around which a garrulous army of rooks and
     choughs continually wheel their flight. Now, who can wonder
     that the children of that fine old city are proud of her, and
     offer up prayers for her prosperity? I myself, who was not born
     within her walls, offer up prayers for her prosperity, that
     want may never visit her cottages, vice her palaces, and that
     the abomination of idolatry may never pollute her temples.

But at the very centre of Borrow's Norwich life was William Taylor,
concerning whom we have already written much. It was a Jew named Mousha,
a quack it appears, who pretended to know German and Hebrew, and had but
a smattering of either language, who first introduced Borrow to Taylor,
and there is a fine dialogue between the two in _Lavengro_, of which
this is the closing fragment:

     'Are you happy?' said the young man.

     'Why, no! And, between ourselves, it is that which induces me
     to doubt sometimes the truth of my opinions. My life, upon the
     whole, I consider a failure; on which account, I would not
     counsel you, or anyone, to follow my example too closely. It
     is getting late, and you had better be going, especially as
     your father, you say, is anxious about you. But, as we may
     never meet again, I think there are three things which I may
     safely venture to press upon you. The first is, that the
     decencies and gentlenesses should never be lost sight of, as
     the practice of the decencies and gentlenesses is at all times
     compatible with independence of thought and action. The second
     thing which I would wish to impress upon you is, that there is
     always some eye upon us; and that it is impossible to keep
     anything we do from the world, as it will assuredly be divulged
     by somebody as soon as it is his interest to do so. The third
     thing which I would wish to press upon you----'

     'Yes,' said the youth, eagerly bending forward.

     'Is'--and here the elderly individual laid down his pipe upon
     the table--'that it will be as well to go on improving yourself
     in German!'

Taylor it was who, when Borrow determined to try his fortunes in London
with those bundles of unsaleable manuscripts, gave him introductions to
Sir Richard Phillips and to Thomas Campbell. It was in the agnostic
spirit that he had learned from Taylor that he wrote during this period
to his one friend in London, Roger Kerrison. Kerrison was grandson of
Sir Roger Kerrison, Mayor of Norwich in 1778, as his son Thomas was
after him in 1806. Roger was articled, as was Borrow, to the firm of
Simpson and Rackham, while his brother Allday was in a drapery store in
Norwich, but with mind bent on commercial life in Mexico. George was
teaching him Spanish in these years as a preparation for his great
adventure. Roger had gone to London to continue his professional
experience. He finally became a Norwich solicitor and died in 1882.
Allday went to Zacatecas, Mexico, and acquired riches. John Borrow
followed him there and met with an early death, as we have seen. Borrow
and Roger Kerrison were great friends at this time; but when _Lavengro_
was written they had ceased to be this, and Roger is described merely as
an 'acquaintance' who had found lodgings for him on his first visit to
London. As a matter of fact that trip to London was made easy for Borrow
by the opportunity given to him of sharing lodgings with Roger Kerrison
at Milman Street, Bedford Row, where Borrow put in an appearance on 1st
April 1824, some two months after the following letter was written:

To Mr. Roger Kerrison, 18 Milman Street, Bedford Row.

                NORWICH, _Jany. 20, 1824._

     DEAREST ROGER,--I did not imagine when we separated in the
     street, on the day of your departure from Norwich, that we
     should not have met again: I had intended to have come and seen
     you off, but happening to dine at W. Barron's I got into
     discourse, and the hour slipt past me unawares.

     I have been again for the last fortnight laid up with that
     detestable complaint which destroys my strength, impairs my
     understanding, and will in all probability send me to the
     grave, for I am now much worse than when you saw me last. But
     _nil desperandum est_, if ever my health mends, and possibly it
     may by the time my clerkship is expired, I intend to live in
     London, write plays, poetry, etc., abuse religion and get
     myself prosecuted, for I would not for an ocean of gold remain
     any longer than I am forced in this dull and gloomy town.

     I have no news to regale you with, for there is none abroad,
     but I live in the expectation of shortly hearing from you, and
     being informed of your plans and projects; fear not to be
     prolix, for the slightest particular cannot fail of being
     interesting to one who loves you far better than parent or
     relation, or even than the God whom bigots would teach him to
     adore, and who subscribes himself, Yours unalterably,

                GEORGE BORROW.[47]

Borrow might improve his German--not sufficiently as we shall see in our
next chapter--but he would certainly never make a lawyer. Long years
afterwards, when, as an old man, he was frequently in Norwich, he not
seldom called at that office in Tuck's Court, where five strange years
of his life had been spent. A clerk in Rackham's office in these later
years recalls him waiting for the principal as he in his youth had
watched others waiting.[48]


[44] _Norvicensian_, 1888, p. 177.

[45] _Lavengro_, ch. xix.

[46] The _Britannia_ newspaper, 26th June 1851.

[47] This letter is in the possession of Mr. J. C. Gould, Trap Hill
House, Loughton, Essex.

[48] Mr. C. F. Martelli of Staple Inn, London, who has so generously
placed this information at my disposal. Mr. Martelli writes:

'Old memories brought him to our office for professional advice, and
there I saw something of him, and a very striking personality he was,
and a rather difficult client to do business with. One peculiarity I
remember was that he believed himself to be plagued by autograph
hunters, and was reluctant to trust our firm with his signature in any
shape or form, and that we in consequence had some trouble in inducing
him to sign his will. I have seen him sitting over my fire in my room at
that office for hours, half asleep, and crooning out Romany songs while
waiting for my chief.'



     _'That's a strange man!' said I to myself, after I had left the
     house, 'he is evidently very clever; but I cannot say that I
     like him much with his Oxford Reviews and Dairyman's

Borrow lost his father on the 28th February 1824. He reached London on
the 2nd April of the same year, and this was the beginning of his many
wanderings. He was armed with introductions from William Taylor, and
with some translations in manuscript from Danish and Welsh poetry. The
principal introduction was to Sir Richard Phillips, a person of some
importance in his day, who has so far received but inadequate treatment
in our own.[49] Phillips was active in the cause of reform at a certain
period in his life, and would seem to have had many sterling qualities
before he was spoiled by success. He was born in the neighbourhood of
Leicester, and his father was 'in the farming line,' and wanted him to
work on the farm, but he determined to seek his fortune in London. After
a short absence, during which he clearly proved to himself that he was
not at present qualified to capture London, young Phillips returned to
the farm. Borrow refers to his patron's vegetarianism, and on this point
we have an amusing story from his own pen! He had been, when previously
on the farm, in the habit of attending to a favourite heifer:

     During his sojournment in London this animal had been killed;
     and on the very day of his return to his father's house, he
     partook of part of his favourite at dinner, without his being
     made acquainted with the circumstance of its having been
     slaughtered during his absence. On learning this, however, he
     experienced a sudden indisposition; and declared that so great
     an effect had the idea of his having eaten part of his
     slaughtered favourite upon him, that he would never again taste
     animal food; a vow to which he has hitherto firmly adhered.[50]

Farming not being congenial, Phillips hired a small room in Leicester,
and opened a school for instruction in the three R's, a large blue flag
on a pole being his 'sign' or signal to the inhabitants of Leicester,
who seem to have sent their children in considerable numbers to the
young schoolmaster. But little money was to be made out of schooling,
and a year later Phillips was, by the kindness of friends, started in a
small hosiery shop in Leicester. Throwing himself into politics on the
side of reform, Phillips now started the _Leicester Herald_, to which
Dr. Priestley became a contributor. The first number was issued gratis
in May 1792. His _Memoir_ informs us that it was an article in this
newspaper that secured for its proprietor and editor eighteen months
imprisonment in Leicester gaol, but he was really charged with selling
Paine's _Rights of Man_. The worthy knight had probably grown ashamed of
_The Rights of Man_ in the intervening years, and hence the reticence of
the memoir. Phillips's gaoler was the once famous Daniel Lambert, the
notorious 'fat man' of his day. In gaol Phillips was visited by Lord
Moira and the Duke of Norfolk. It was this Lord Moira who said in the
House of Lords in 1797 that 'he had seen in Ireland the most absurd, as
well as the most disgusting tyranny that any nation ever groaned under.'
Moira became Governor-General of Bengal and Commander-in-Chief of the
Army in India. The Duke of Norfolk, a stanch Whig, distinguished himself
in 1798 by a famous toast at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Arundel
Street, Strand:--'Our sovereign's health--the majesty of the people!'
which greatly offended George III., who removed Norfolk from his
lord-lieutenancy. Phillips seems to have had a very lax imprisonment, as
he conducted the _Herald_ from gaol, contributing in particular a weekly
letter. Soon after his release he disposed of the _Herald_, or permitted
it to die. It was revived a few years later as an organ of Toryism. He
had started in gaol another journal, _The Museum_, and he combined this
with his hosiery business for some time longer, when an opportune fire
relieved him of an apparently uncongenial burden, and with the insurance
money in his pocket he set out for London once more. Here he started as
a hosier in St. Paul's Churchyard, lodging meantime in the house of a
milliner, where he fell in love with one of the apprentices, Miss
Griffiths, 'a native of Wales.' His affections were won, we are naïvely
informed in the _Memoir_, by the young woman's talent in the preparation
of a vegetable pie. This is our first glimpse of Lady Phillips--'a
quiet, respectable woman,' whom Borrow was to meet at dinner long years
afterwards. Inspired, it would seem, by the kindly exhortation of Dr.
Priestley, he now transformed his hosiery business in St. Paul's
Churchyard into a 'literary repository,' and started a singularly
successful career as a publisher. There he produced his long-lived
periodical, _The Monthly Magazine_, which attained to so considerable a
fame. Dr. Aikin, a friend of Priestley's, was its editor, but with him
Phillips had a quarrel--the first of his many literary quarrels--and
they separated. This Dr. Aikin was the father of the better-known Lucy
Aikin, and was a Nonconformist who suffered for his opinions in these
closing years of the eighteenth century, even as Priestley did. He was
the author of many works, including the once famous _Evenings at Home_,
written in conjunction with his sister, Mrs. Barbauld;[51] and after his
quarrel with Phillips he founded a new publication issued by the house
of Longman, and entitled _The Athenæum_. Hereupon he and Phillips
quarrelled again, because Dr. Aikin described himself in advertisements
of _The Athenæum_ as 'J. Aikin, M.D., late editor of _The Monthly
Magazine_.' Aikin's contributors to _The Monthly_ included Capell Lofft,
of whom we know too little, and Dr. Wolcot, of whom we know too much.
Meanwhile Phillips's publishing business grew apace, and he removed to
larger premises in Bridge Street, Blackfriars, an address which we find
upon many famous publications of his period. A catalogue of his books
lies before me dated 'January 1805.' It includes many works still upon
our shelves. Almon's _Memoirs and Correspondence of John Wilkes_, Samuel
Richardson's _Life and Correspondence_, for example, several of the
works of Maria Edgeworth, including her _Moral Tales_, many of the works
of William Godwin, including _Caleb Williams_, and the earlier books of
that still interesting woman and once popular novelist, Lady Morgan,
whose _Poems_ as Sydney Owenson bears Phillips's name on its title-page,
as does also her first successful novel _The Wild Irish Girl_, and other
of her stories. My own interest in Phillips commenced when I met him in
the pages of Lady Morgan's _Memoirs_.[52] Thomas Moore, Lady Morgan
tells us,

     had come back to Dublin from London, where he had been 'the
     guest of princes, the friend of peers, the translator of
     Anacreon!' From royal palaces and noble manors, he had returned
     to his family seat--a grocer's shop at the corner of Little
     Longford Street, Angier Street.

Here, in a little room over the shop, Sydney heard him sing two of his
songs, and was inspired thereby to write her first novels, _St. Clair_
and _The Novice of St. Dominick_. The first was published in Dublin;
over the second she corresponded with Phillips, and his letters to her
commence with one dated from Bridge Street, 6th April 1805, in which he
wishes her to send the manuscript of _The Novice_ to him as one 'often
(undeservedly) complimented as the most liberal of my trade!' She
determined, fresh from a governess situation, to bring the manuscript
herself. Phillips was charmed with his new author, and really seems to
have treated her very liberally. He insisted, however, on having _The
Novice_ cut down from six volumes to four, and she was wont to say that
nothing but regard for her feelings prevented him from reducing it to
three.[53] _The Novice of St. Dominick_ was a favourite book with the
younger Pitt, who read it over again in his last illness. Then
followed--in 1806--Sydney Owenson's new novel, _The Wild Irish Girl_,
and it led to an amusing correspondence with its author on the part of
Phillips on the one side, and Johnson, who, it will be remembered, was
Cowper's publisher, on the other. Phillips was indignant that, having
first brought Sydney into fame, she should dare to ask more money on
that account. As is the case with every novelist to-day who scores one
success, Miss Owenson had formed a good idea of her value, and there is
a letter to Johnson in which she admitted that Phillips's offer was a
generous one. Johnson had offered her £300 for the copyright of _The
Wild Irish Girl_. Phillips had offered only £200 down and £50 each for
the second and third editions. When Phillips heard that Johnson had
outbidden him, he described the offer as 'monstrous,' and that it was
'inspired by a spirit of revenge.' He would not, he declared, increase
his offer, but a little later he writes from Bridge Street to Sydney
Owenson as his 'dear, bewitching, and deluding Syren,' and promises the
£300. A few months later he gave her a hundred pounds for a slight
volume of poems, which certainly never paid for its publication,
although Scott and Moore and many another were making much money out of
poetry in those days. In any case Phillips did not accept Miss Owenson's
next story with alacrity, in spite of the undoubted success of _The Wild
Irish Girl_. She no doubt asked too much for _Ida of Athens_. Phillips
probably thought, after reading the first volume in type, that it was
very inferior work, as indeed it was. Athens was described without the
author ever having seen the city. After much wrangling, in which the
lady said that her 'prince of publishers,' as she had once called him,
had 'treated her barbarously,' the novel went into the hands of the
Longmans, who published it, not without some remonstrance as to certain
of its sentiments. The successful Lady Morgan afterwards described _Ida_
as a bad book, so perhaps here, as usually, Phillips was not far wrong
in his judgment. A similar quarrel seems to have taken place over the
next novel, _The Missionary_. Here Phillips again received the
manuscript, discussed terms with its author, and returned it. The firm
of Stockdale and Miller were his successful rivals. Later and more
prosperous novels, _O'Donnel_ in particular, were issued by Henry
Colburn, and Phillips now disappears from Lady Morgan's life. I have
told the story of Phillips's relation with Lady Morgan at length because
at no other point do we come into so near a contact with him. In Fell's
_Memoir_ Phillips is described--in 1808--as 'certainly now the first
publisher in London,' but while he may have been this in the volume of
his trade--and school-books made an important part of it--he was not in
mere 'names.' Most of his successful writers--Sydney Owenson, Thomas
Skinner Surr, Dr. Gregory, and the rest--have now fallen into oblivion.
The school-books that he issued have lasted even to our own day, notably
Dr. Mavor's _Spelling Book_. Dr. Mavor was a Scotsman from Aberdeen, who
came to London and became Phillips's chief hack. There are no less than
twenty of Mavor's school-books in the catalogue before me. They include
Mavor's _History of England_, Mavor's _Universal History_, and Mavor's
_History of Greece_. In the _Memoir_ of 1808 it is claimed that 'Mavor'
is but a pseudonym for Phillips, and the claim is also made, quite
wrongfully, by John Timbs, who, before he became acting editor of the
_Illustrated London News_ under Herbert Ingram, and an indefatigable
author, was Phillips's private secretary.[54] It seems clear, however,
that in the case of Blair's _Catechism_ and Goldsmith's _Geography_, and
many another book for schools, Phillips was 'Blair' and 'Goldsmith' and
many another imaginary person, for the books in question numbered about
two hundred in all. For these books there must have been quite an army
of literary hacks employed during the twenty years prior to the
appearance of George Borrow in that great army. On 9th November 1807,
the Lord Mayor's procession through London included Richard Phillips
among its sheriffs, and he was knighted by George III. in the following
year. During his period of office he effected many reforms in the City
prisons. John Timbs, in his _Walks and Talks about London_, tells us
that Phillips's colleague in the shrievalty was one Smith, who
afterwards became Lord Mayor:

     The _personnel_ of the two sheriffs presented a sharp contrast.
     Smith loved aldermanic cheer, but was pale and cadaverous in
     complexion; whilst Phillips, who never ate animal food, was
     rosy and healthful in appearance. One day, when the sheriffs
     were in full state, the procession was stopped by an
     obstruction in the street traffic; when droll were the mistakes
     of the mob: to Smith they cried, 'Here's Old Water-gruel!' to
     Phillips, 'Here's Roast Beef! something like an Englishman!'

Two volumes before me show Phillips as the precursor of many of the
publishers of one-volume books of reference so plentiful in our day. _A
Million of Facts_ is one of them, and _A Chronology of Public Events
Within the Last Fifty Years from 1771 to 1821_ is another, while one of
the earliest and most refreshing guides to London and its neighbourhood
is afforded us in _A Morning Walk from London to Kew_, which first
appeared in _The Monthly Magazine_, but was reprinted in 1817 with the
name 'Sir Richard Phillips' as author on the title-page. Phillips was
now no longer a publisher. Here we have some pleasant glimpses of a
bygone era, many trite reflections, but not enough topography to make
the book one of permanent interest. It would not, in fact, be worth

This, then, was the man to whom George Borrow presented himself in 1824.
Phillips was fifty-seven years of age. He had made a moderate fortune
and lost it, and was now enjoying another perhaps less satisfying; it
included the profits of _The Monthly Review_, repurchased after his
bankruptcy, and some rights in many of the school-books. But the great
publishing establishment in Bridge Street had long been broken up.
Borrow would have found Taylor's introduction to Phillips quite useless
had the worthy knight not at the moment been keen on a new magazine and
seen the importance of a fresh 'hack' to help to run it. Moreover, had
he not written a great book which only the Germans could appreciate,
_Twelve Essays on the Phenomena of Nature_? Here, he thought, was the
very man to produce this book in a German dress. Taylor was a thorough
German scholar, and he had vouched for the excellent German of his pupil
and friend. Hence a certain cordiality which did not win Borrow's
regard, but was probably greater than many a young man would receive
to-day from a publisher-prince upon whom he might call laden only with a
bundle of translations from the Danish and the Welsh. Here--in
_Lavengro_--is the interview between publisher and poet, with the
editor's factotum Bartlett, whom Borrow calls Taggart, as witness:

     'Well, sir, what is your pleasure?' said the big man, in a
     rough tone, as I stood there, looking at him wistfully--as well
     I might--for upon that man, at the time of which I am speaking,
     my principal, I may say my only hopes, rested.

     'Sir,' said I, 'my name is So-and-so, and I am the bearer of a
     letter to you from Mr. So-and-so, an old friend and
     correspondent of yours.'

     The countenance of the big man instantly lost the suspicious
     and lowering expression which it had hitherto exhibited; he
     strode forward and, seizing me by the hand, gave me a violent

     'My dear sir,' said he, 'I am rejoiced to see you in London. I
     have been long anxious for the pleasure--we are old friends,
     though we have never before met. Taggart,' said he to the man
     who sat at the desk, 'this is our excellent correspondent, the
     friend and pupil of our excellent correspondent.'

[Illustration: SIR JOHN BOWRING in 1826

From a portrait by John King now in the National Portrait Gallery.]

[Illustration: JOHN P. HASFELD IN 1835

From a portrait by an Unknown Artist formerly belonging to George

[Illustration: WILLIAM TAYLOR

From a portrait by J. Thomson, printed in the year 1821, and engraved in
Robberds's _Life of Taylor_.]


From a portrait by James Saxon, painted in 1828, now in the National
Portrait Gallery.]

[Illustration: FRIENDS OF BORROW'S EARLY YEARS] [Transcriber's Note:
This is the caption for the page of four portraits, each portrait's
caption is shown above.]

Phillips explains that he has given up publishing, except 'under the
rose,' had only _The Monthly Magazine_, here[56] called _The Magazine_,
but contemplated yet another monthly, _The Universal Review_, here
called _The Oxford_. He gave Borrow much the same sound advice that a
publisher would have given him to-day--that poetry is not a marketable
commodity, and that if you want to succeed in prose you must, as a rule,
write trash--the most acceptable trash of that day being _The Dairyman's
Daughter_,[57] which has sold in hundreds of thousands, and is still
much prized by the Evangelical folk who buy the publications of the
Religious Tract Society. Phillips, moreover, asked him to dine to meet
his wife, his son, and his son's wife,[58] and we know what an amusing
account of that dinner Borrow gives in _Lavengro_. Moreover, he set
Borrow upon his first piece of hack-work, the _Celebrated Trials_, and
gave him something to do upon _The Universal Review_ and also upon _The
Monthly_. _The Universal_ lasted only for six numbers, dying in January
1825. In that year appeared the six volumes of the _Celebrated Trials_,
of which we have something to say in our next chapter. Borrow found
Phillips most exacting, always suggesting the names of new criminals,
and leaving it to the much sweated author to find the books from which
to extract the necessary material:

     In the compilation of my Lives and Trials I was exposed to
     incredible mortification, and ceaseless trouble, from this same
     rage for interference.... This was not all; when about a moiety
     of the first volume had been printed, he materially altered the
     plan of the work; it was no longer to be a collection of mere
     Newgate lives and trials, but of lives and trials of criminals
     in general, foreign as well as domestic.... 'Where is Brandt
     and Struensee?' cried the publisher. 'I am sure I don't know,'
     I replied; whereupon the publisher falls to squealing like one
     of Joey's rats. 'Find me up Brandt and Struensee by next
     morning, or--' 'Have you found Brandt and Struensee?' cried the
     publisher, on my appearing before him next morning. 'No,' I
     reply, 'I can hear nothing about them'; whereupon the publisher
     falls to bellowing like Joey's bull. By dint of incredible
     diligence, I at length discover the dingy volume containing the
     lives and trials of the celebrated two who had brooded treason
     dangerous to the state of Denmark. I purchase the dingy volume,
     and bring it in triumph to the publisher, the perspiration
     running down my brow. The publisher takes the dingy volume in
     his hand, he examines it attentively, then puts it down; his
     countenance is calm for a moment, almost benign. Another moment
     and there is a gleam in the publisher's sinister eye; he
     snatches up the paper containing the names of the worthies
     which I have intended shall figure in the forthcoming
     volumes--he glances rapidly over it, and his countenance once
     more assumes a terrific expression. 'How is this?' he exclaims;
     'I can scarcely believe my eyes--the most important life and
     trial omitted to be found in the whole criminal record--what
     gross, what utter negligence! Where's the life of Farmer Patch?
     where's the trial of Yeoman Patch?'

     'What a life! what a dog's life!' I would frequently exclaim,
     after escaping from the presence of the publisher.[59]

Then came the final catastrophe. Borrow could not translate Phillips's
great masterpiece, _Twelve Essays on the Proximate Causes_, into German
with any real effectiveness although the testimonial of the enthusiastic
Taylor had led Phillips to assume that he could. Borrow, as we shall
see, knew many languages, and knew them well colloquially, but he was
not a grammarian, and he could not write accurately in any one of his
numerous tongues. His wonderful memory gave him the words, but not
always any thoroughness of construction. He could make a good
translation of a poem by Schiller, because he brought his own poetic
fancy to the venture, but he had no interest in Phillips's philosophy,
and so he doubtless made a very bad translation, as German friends were
soon able to assure Phillips, who had at last to go to a German for a
translation, and the book appeared at Stuttgart in 1826.[60] Meanwhile,
Phillips's new magazine, _The Universal Review_, went on its course. It
lasted only for a few numbers, as we have said--from March 1824 to
January 1825--and it was entirely devoted to reviews, many of them
written by Borrow, but without any distinction calling for comment
to-day. Dr. Knapp thought that Gifford was the editor, with Phillips's
son and George Borrow assisting. Gifford translated _Juvenal_, and it
was for a long time assumed that Borrow wished merely to disguise
Gifford's identity when he referred to his editor as the translator of
_Quintilian_. But Sir Leslie Stephen has pointed out in _Literature_
that John Carey (1756-1826), who actually edited _Quintilian_ in 1822,
was Phillips's editor, 'All the poetry which I reviewed,' Borrow tells
us, 'appeared to be published at the expense of the authors. All the
publications which fell under my notice I treated in a gentlemanly ...
manner--no personalities, no vituperation, no shabby insinuations;
decorum, decorum was the order of the day.' And one feels that Borrow
was not very much at home. But he went on with his _Newgate Lives and
Trials_, which, however, were to be published with another imprint,
although at the instance of Phillips. By that time he and that worthy
publisher had parted company. Probably Phillips had set out for
Brighton, which was to be his home for the remainder of his life.


[49] The few lines awarded to him in Mumby's _Romance of Bookselling_
are an illustration of this.

[50] _Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of Sir Richard Phillips,
King's High Sheriff for the City of London and the County of Middlesex,
by a Citizen of London and Assistants_. London, 1808. This _Memoir_ was
published in 1808, many years before the death of Phillips, and was
clearly inspired and partly written by him, although an autograph letter
before me from one Ralph Fell shows that the worthy Fell actually
received £12 from Phillips for 'compiling' the book. A portion of the
_Memoir_ may have been written by another literary hack named Pinkerton,
but all of it was compiled under the direction of Phillips.

[51] Mr. Arthur Aikin Brodribb in his memoir of Aikin in the _Dictionary
of National Biography_ makes the interesting but astonishing statement
that Aikin's _Life of Howard_ 'has been adopted, without acknowledgment,
by a modern writer.' Mr. Brodribb apparently knew nothing of Dr. Aikin's
association with the _Monthly Magazine_ or with the first _Athenæum_.

[52] I have no less than four memoirs of Lady Morgan on my
shelves:--_Passages from my Autobiography_, by Sydney, Lady Morgan
(Richard Bentley, 1859); _The Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady
Morgan_, by William John Fitzpatrick (W. B. Kelly: Dublin, 1859); _Lady
Morgan; Her Career, Literary and Personal, with a Glimpse of her
Friends, and A Word to her Calumniators_, by William John Fitzpatrick
(London: Charles J. Skeet, 1860); _Lady Morgan's Memoirs: Autobiography,
Diaries and Correspondence_. Two vols. (London: W. H. Allen, 1863).

[53] _Memoirs of Lady Morgan_, edited by W. Hepworth Dixon.

[54] See Timbs's article on Phillips in his _Walks and Talks about
London_, 1865. Timbs was wont to recall, as the late W. L. Thomas of the
_Graphic_ informed me, that while at the _Illustrated London News_ he
got so exasperated with Herbert Ingram, the founder and proprietor, that
he would frequently write and post a letter of resignation, but would
take care to reach the office before Ingram in the morning in order to
withdraw it.

[55] Another London book before me, which bears the imprint 'Richard
Phillips, Bridge Street,' is entitled _The Picture of London for 1811_.
Mine is the twelfth edition of this remarkable little volume.

[56] In _Lavengro_.

[57] Legh Richmond (1772-1827), the author of _The Dairyman's Daughter_
and _The Young Cottager_, which had an extraordinary vogue in their day.
A few years earlier than this Princess Sophia Metstchersky translated
the former into the Russian language, and Borrow must have seen copies
when he visited St. Petersburg. Richmond was the first clerical
secretary of the Religious Tract Society, with which _The Dairyman's
Daughter_ has always been one of the most popular of tracts.

[58] Phillips at his death in 1840 left a widow, three sons, and four
daughters. One son was Vicar of Kilburn.

[59] _Lavengro_, ch. xxxix.

[60] _Ueber die nächsten Ursachen der materiellen Erscheinungen des
Universums_, von Sir Richard Phillips, nach dem Englischen bearbeitet
von General von Theobald und Prof. Dr. Lebret. Stuttgart, 1826.



In the early pages of _Lavengro_ Borrow tells us nearly all we are ever
likely to know of his sojourn in London in the years 1824 and 1825,
during which time he had those interviews with Sir Richard Phillips
which are recorded in our last chapter. Dr. Knapp, indeed, prints a
little note from him to his friend Kerrison, in which he begs his friend
to come to him as he believes he is dying. Roger Kerrison, it would
seem, had been so frightened by Borrow's depression and threats of
suicide that he had left the lodgings at 16 Milman Street, Bedford Row,
and removed himself elsewhere, and so Borrow was left friendless to
fight what he called his 'horrors' alone. The depression was not
unnatural. From his own vivid narrative we learn of Borrow's bitter
failure as an author. No one wanted his translations from the Welsh and
the Danish, and Phillips clearly had no further use for him after he had
compiled his _Newgate Lives and Trials_ (Borrow's name in _Lavengro_ for
_Celebrated Trials_), and was doubtless inclined to look upon him as an
impostor for professing, with William Taylor's sanction, a mastery of
the German language which had been demonstrated to be false with regard
to his own book. No 'spirited publisher' had come forward to give
reality to his dream thus set down:

     I had still an idea that, provided I could persuade any
     spirited publisher to give these translations to the world, I
     should acquire both considerable fame and profit; not, perhaps,
     a world-embracing fame such as Byron's; but a fame not to be
     sneered at, which would last me a considerable time, and would
     keep my heart from breaking;--profit, not equal to that which
     Scott had made by his wondrous novels, but which would prevent
     me from starving, and enable me to achieve some other literary
     enterprise. I read and re-read my ballads, and the more I read
     them the more I was convinced that the public, in the event of
     their being published, would freely purchase, and hail them
     with the merited applause.

He has a tale to tell us in _Lavengro_ of a certain _Life and Adventures
of Joseph Sell, the Great Traveller_, the purchase of which from him by
a publisher at the last moment saved him from starvation and enabled him
to take to the road, there to meet the many adventures that have become
immortal in the pages of _Lavengro_. Dr. Knapp has encouraged the idea
that _Joseph Sell_ was a real book, ignoring the fact that the very
title suggests doubts, and was probably meant to suggest them. In
Norfolk, as elsewhere, a 'sell' is a word in current slang used for an
imposture or a cheat, and doubtless Borrow meant to make merry with the
credulous. There was, we may be perfectly sure, no _Joseph Sell_, and it
is more reasonable to suppose that it was the sale of his translation of
Klinger's _Faustus_ that gave him the much needed money at this crisis.
Dr. Knapp pictures Borrow as carrying the manuscript of his translation
of _Faustus_ with him to London. There is not the slightest evidence of
this. It may be reasonably assumed that Borrow made the translation from
Klinger's novel during his sojourn in London. It is true the preface is
dated 'Norwich, April 1825,' but Borrow did not leave London until the
end of May 1825, that is to say, until after he had negotiated with 'W.
Simpkin and R. Marshall,' now the well-known firm of Simpkin and
Marshall, for the publication of the little volume. That firm,
unfortunately, has no record of the transaction. My impression is that
Borrow in his wandering after old volumes on crime for his great
compilation, _Celebrated Trials_, came across the French translation of
Klinger's novel published at Amsterdam. From that translation he
acknowledges that he borrowed the plate which serves as frontispiece--a
plate entitled 'The Corporation Feast.' It represents the corporation of
Frankfort at a banquet turned by the devil into various animals. It has
been erroneously assumed that Borrow had had something to do with the
designing of this plate, and that he had introduced the corporation of
Norwich in vivid portraiture into the picture. Borrow does, indeed,
interpolate a reference to Norwich into his translation of a not too
complimentary character, for at that time he had no very amiable
feelings towards his native city. Of the inhabitants of Frankfort he

     They found the people of the place modelled after so unsightly
     a pattern, with such ugly figures and flat features, that the
     devil owned he had never seen them equalled, except by the
     inhabitants of an English town called Norwich, when dressed in
     their Sunday's best.[61]

In the original German version of 1791 we have the town of Nuremberg
thus satirised. But Borrow was not the first translator to seize the
opportunity of adapting the reference for personal ends. In the French
translation of 1798, published at Amsterdam, and entitled _Les Aventures
du Docteur Faust_, the translator has substituted Auxerre for
Nuremberg. What makes me think that Borrow used only the French version
in his translation is the fact that in his preface he refers to the
engravings of that version, one of which he reproduced; whereas the
engravings are in the German version as well.

Friedrich Maximilian von Klinger (1752-1831), who was responsible for
Borrow's 'first book,' was responsible for much else of an epoch-making
character. It was he who by one of his many plays, _Sturm und Drang_,
gave a name to an important period of German Literature. In 1780 von
Klinger entered the service of Russia, and in 1790 married a natural
daughter of the Empress Catherine. Thus his novel, _Faust's Leben,
Thaten und Höllenfahrt_, was actually first published at St. Petersburg
in 1791. This was seventeen years before Goethe published his first part
of _Faust_, a book which by its exquisite poetry was to extinguish for
all self-respecting Germans Klinger's turgid prose. Borrow, like the
translator of Rousseau's _Confessions_ and of many another classic,
takes refuge more than once in the asterisk. Klinger's _Faustus_, with
much that was bad and even bestial, has merits. The devil throughout
shows his victim a succession of examples of 'man's inhumanity to man.'
Borrow's translation of Klinger's novel was reprinted in 1864 without
any acknowledgment of the name of the translator, and only a few stray
words being altered.[62] Borrow nowhere mentions Klinger's name in his
latter volume, of which the title-page runs:

     Faustus: His Life, Death, and Descent into Hell. Translated
     from the German. London: W. Simpkin and R. Marshall, 1825.

I doubt very much if he really knew who was the author, as the book in
both the German editions I have seen as well as in the French version
bears no author's name on its title-page. A letter of Borrow's in the
possession of an American collector indicates that he was back in
Norwich in September 1825, after, we may assume, three months' wandering
among gypsies and tinkers. It is written from Willow Lane, and is
apparently to the publishers of _Faustus_:

     As your bill will become payable in a few days, I am willing to
     take thirty copies of _Faustus_ instead of the money. The book
     has been _burnt_ in both the libraries here, and, as it has
     been talked about, I may perhaps be able to dispose of some in
     the course of a year or so.

This letter clearly demonstrates that the guileless Simpkin and the
equally guileless Marshall had paid Borrow for the right to publish
_Faustus_, and even though part of the payment was met by a bill, I
think we may safely find in the transaction whatever verity there may be
in the Joseph Sell episode. 'Let me know how you sold your manuscript,'
writes Borrow's brother to him so late as the year 1829. And this was
doubtless _Faustus_. The action of the Norwich libraries in burning the
book would clearly have had the sympathy of one of its few reviewers had
he been informed of the circumstance. It is thus that the _Literary
Gazette_ for 16th July 1825 refers to Borrow's little book:

     This is another work to which no respectable publisher ought to
     have allowed his name to be put. The political allusions and
     metaphysics, which may have made it popular among a low class
     in Germany, do not sufficiently season its lewd scenes and
     coarse descriptions for British palates. We have occasionally
     publications for the fireside--these are only fit for the fire.

Borrow returned then to Norwich in the autumn of 1825 a disappointed man
so far as concerned the giving of his poetical translations to the
world, from which he had hoped so much. No 'spirited publisher' had been
forthcoming, although Dr. Knapp's researches have unearthed a 'note' in
_The Monthly Magazine_, which, after the fashion of the anticipatory
literary gossip of our day, announced that Olaus Borrow was about to
issue _Legends and Popular Superstitions of the North_, 'in two elegant
volumes.' But this never appeared. Quite a number of Borrow's
translations from divers languages had appeared from time to time,
beginning with a version of Schiller's 'Diver' in _The New Monthly
Magazine_ for 1823, continuing with Stolberg's 'Ode to a Mountain
Torrent' in _The Monthly Magazine_, and including the 'Deceived Merman.'
These he collected into book form and, not to be deterred by the
coldness of heartless London publishers, issued them by subscription.
Three copies of the slim octavo book lie before me, with separate

     (1) Romantic Ballads, Translated from the Danish; and
     Miscellaneous Pieces by George Borrow. Norwich: Printed and
     Published by S. Wilkin, Upper Haymarket, 1826.

     (2) Romantic Ballads, Translated from the Danish; and
     Miscellaneous Pieces by George Borrow. London: Published by
     John Taylor, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, 1826.

     (3) Romantic Ballads, Translated from the Danish; and
     Miscellaneous Pieces, by George Borrow. London: Published by
     Wightman and Cramp, 24 Paternoster Row, 1826.[63]

The book contains an introduction in verse by Allan Cunningham, whose
acquaintance Borrow seems to have made in London. It commences:

                Sing, sing, my friend, breathe life again
                Through Norway's song and Denmark's strain:
                On flowing Thames and Forth, in flood,
                Pour Haco's war-song, fierce and rude.

Cunningham had not himself climbed very far up the literary ladder in
1825, although he was forty-one years of age. At one time a stonemason
in a Scots village, he had entered Chantrey's studio, and was
'superintendent of the works' to that eminent sculptor at the time when
Borrow called upon him in London, and made an acquaintance which never
seems to have extended beyond this courtesy to the younger man's _Danish
Ballads_. The point of sympathy of course was that in the year 1825
Cunningham had published _The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern_.
But Allan Cunningham, whose _Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters_
is his best remembered book to-day, scarcely comes into this story.
There are four letters from Cunningham to Borrow in Dr. Knapp's _Life_,
and two from Borrow to Cunningham. The latter gave his young friend much
good advice. He told him, for example, to send copies of his book to the
newspapers--to the _Literary Gazette_ in particular, and 'Walter Scott
must not be forgotten.' Dr. Knapp thinks that the newspapers were
forgotten, and that Borrow neglected to send to them. In any case not a
single review appeared. But it is not exactly true that Borrow ignored
the usual practice of authors so entirely as Dr. Knapp supposes. There
is a letter to Borrow among my Borrow Papers from Francis Palgrave the
historian, who became Sir Francis Palgrave seven years later, which
throws some light upon the subject:

To George Borrow

                PARLIAMENT ST., _17 June 1826._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I am very much obliged to you for the opportunity
     that you have afforded me of perusing your spirited and
     faithful translating of the Danish ballads. Mr. Allan
     Cunningham, who, as you will know, is an ancient minstrel
     himself, says that they are more true to the originals and more
     truly poetical than any that he has yet seen. I have delivered
     one copy to Mr. Lockhart, the new editor of the _Quarterly
     Review_, and I hope he will notice it as it deserves. Murray
     would probably be inclined to publish your translations.--I
     remain, dear sir, your obedient and faithful servant,

                FRANCIS PALGRAVE.

It is probable that he did also send a copy to Scott, and it is Dr.
Knapp's theory that 'that busy writer forgot to acknowledge the
courtesy.' It may be that this is so. It has been the source of many a
literary prejudice. Carlyle had a bitterness in his heart against Scott
for much the same cause. Rarely indeed can the struggling author endure
to be ignored by the radiantly successful one. It must have been the
more galling in that a few years earlier Scott had been lifted by the
ballad from obscurity to fame. Borrow did not in any case lack
encouragement from Allan Cunningham: 'I like your Danish ballads much,'
he writes. 'Get out of bed, George Borrow, and be sick or sleepy no
longer. A fellow who can give us such exquisite Danish ballads has no
right to repose.'[64] Borrow, on his side, thanks Cunningham for his
'noble lines,' and tells him that he has got 'half of his _Songs of
Scotland_ by heart.'

Five hundred copies of the _Romantic Ballads_ were printed in Norwich by
S. Wilkin, about two hundred being subscribed for, mainly in that city,
the other three hundred being dispatched to London--to Taylor, whose
name appears on the London title-page, although he seems to have passed
on the book very quickly to Wightman and Cramp, for what reason we are
not informed. Borrow tells us that the two hundred subscriptions of half
a guinea 'amply paid expenses,' but he must have been cruelly
disappointed, as he was doomed to be more than once in his career, by
the lack of public appreciation outside of Norwich. Yet there were many
reasons for this. If Scott had made the ballad popular, he had also
destroyed it for a century--perhaps for ever--by substituting the novel
as the favourite medium for the storyteller. Great ballads we were to
have in every decade from that day to this, but never another 'best
seller' like _Marmion_ or _The Lady of the Lake_. Our _popular_ poets
had to express themselves in other ways. Then Borrow, although his verse
has been underrated by those who have not seen it at its best, or who
are incompetent to appraise poetry, was not very effective here,
notwithstanding that the stories in verse in _Romantic Ballads_ are all
entirely interesting. This fact is most in evidence in a case where a
real poet, not of the greatest, has told the same story. We owe a
rendering of 'The Deceived Merman' to both George Borrow and Matthew
Arnold, but how widely different the treatment! The story is of a merman
who rose out of the water and enticed a mortal--fair Agnes or
Margaret--under the waves; she becomes his wife, bears him children, and
then asks to return to earth. Arriving there she refuses to go back when
the merman comes disconsolately to the churchdoor for her. Here are a
few lines from the two versions, which demonstrate that here at least
Borrow was no poet and that Arnold was a very fine one:


    'Now, Agnes, Agnes list to me,
    Thy babes are longing so after thee.'
    'I cannot come yet, here must I stay
    Until the priest shall have said his say,'
    And when the priest had said his say,
    She thought with her mother at home she'd stay.
    'O Agnes, Agnes list to me,
    Thy babes are sorrowing after thee,'
    'Let them sorrow and sorrow their fill,
    But back to them never return I will.'


    We climbed on the graves, on the stones worn with rains,
    And we gazed up the aisles through the small leaded panes.
    She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear:
    'Margaret, hist! come quick we are here!
    Dear heart,' I said, 'we are long-alone;
    The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan,'
    But, ah, she gave me never a look,
    For her eyes were sealed on the holy book!
    Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door.
    Come away, children, call no more!
    Come away, come down, call no more!

It says much for the literary proclivities of Norwich at this period
that Borrow should have had so kindly a reception for his book as the
subscription list implies. At the end of each of Wilkin's two hundred
copies a 'list of subscribers' is given. It opens with the name of the
Bishop of Norwich, Dr. Bathurst; it includes the equally familiar names
of the Gurdons, Gurneys, Harveys, Rackhams, Hares (then as now of Stow
Hall), Woodhouses--all good Norfolk or Norwich names that have come down
to our time. Mayor Hawkes, who is made famous in _Lavengro_ by Haydon's
portrait, is there also. Among London names we find 'F. Arden,' which
recalls his friend 'Francis Ardry' in _Lavengro_, John Bowring, Borrow's
new friend, and later to be counted an enemy, Thomas Campbell, Benjamin
Haydon, and John Timbs, But the name that most strikes the eye is that
of 'Thurtell.' Three of the family are among the subscribers, including
Mr. George Thurtell of Eaton, near Norwich, brother of the murderer;
there also is the name of John Thurtell, executed for murder exactly a
year before. This would seem to imply that Borrow had been a long time
collecting these names and subscriptions, and doubtless before the
all-too-famous crime of the previous year he had made Thurtell promise
to become a subscriber, and, let us hope, had secured his half-guinea.
That may account, with so sensitive and impressionable a man as our
author, for the kindly place that Weare's unhappy murderer always had in
his memory. Borrow, in any case, was now, for a few years, to become
more than ever a vagabond. Not a single further appeal did he make to an
unsympathetic literary public for a period of five years at least.


[61] _Life and Death of Faustus_, p. 59.

[62] _Faustus: His Life, Death, and Doom: a Romance in Prose, translated
from the German_. London: W. Kent and Co., Paternoster Row, 1864,
Borrow's _Life and Death of Faustus_ was reprinted in 1840, again with
Simpkin's imprint. Collating Borrow's translation with the issue of
1864, I find that, with a few trivial verbal alterations, they are
identical--that is to say, the translator of the book of 1864 did not
translate at all, but copied from Borrow's version of _Faustus_, copying
even his errors in translation. There is no reason to suppose that the
individual, whoever he may have been, who prepared the 1864 edition of
_Faustus_ for the Press, had ever seen either the German original or the
French translation of Klinger's book. It is clear that he 'conveyed'
Borrow's translation almost in its entirety.

[63] Allan Cunningham, in a letter to Borrow, says, 'Taylor will
undertake to publish.' But there must have been a change afterwards, for
some of the London copies bear the imprint Wightman and Cramp. In 1913
Jarrold and Sons of Norwich issued a reprint of _Romantic Ballads_
limited to 300 copies, with facsimiles of the manuscript from my Borrow

[64] Knapp's _Life_, vol. i 117.



Borrow's first book was _Faustus_, and his second was _Romantic
Ballads_, the one being published, as we have seen, in 1825, the other
in 1826. This chronology has the appearance of ignoring the _Celebrated
Trials_, but then it is scarcely possible to count _Celebrated
Trials_[65] as one of Borrow's books at all. It is largely a
compilation, exactly as the _Newgate Calendar_ and Howell's _State
Trials_ are compilations. In his preface to the work Borrow tells us
that he has differentiated the book from the _Newgate Calendar_[66] and
the _State Trials_[67] by the fact that he had made considerable
compression. This was so, and in fact in many cases he has used the blue
pencil rather than the pen--at least in the earlier volumes. But Borrow
attempted something much more comprehensive than the _Newgate Calendar_
and the _State Trials_ in his book. In the former work the trials range
from 1700 to 1802; in the latter from the trial of Becket in 1163 to
the trial of Thistlewood in 1820. Both works are concerned solely with
this country. Borrow went all over Europe, and the trials of Joan of
Arc, Count Struensee, Major André, Count Cagliostro, Queen Marie
Antoinette, the Duc d'Enghien, and Marshal Ney, are included in his
volumes. Moreover, while what may be called state trials are numerous,
including many of the cases in _Howell_, the greater number are of a
domestic nature, including nearly all that are given in the _Newgate
Calendar_. In the first two volumes he has naturally mainly state trials
to record; the later volumes record sordid everyday crimes, and here
Borrow is more at home. His style when he rewrites the trials is more
vigorous, and his narrative more interesting. It is to be hoped that the
exigent publisher, who he assures us made him buy the books for his
compilation out of the £50 that he paid for it, was able to present him
with a set of the _State Trials_, if only in one of the earlier and
cheaper issues of the work than the one that now has a place in every
lawyer's library.[68]

The third volume of _Celebrated Trials_, although it opens with the
trial of Algernon Sidney, is made up largely of crime of the more
ordinary type, and this sordid note continues through the three final
volumes. I have said that _Faustus_ is an allegory of 'man's inhumanity
to man.' That is emphatically, in more realistic form, the
distinguishing feature of _Celebrated Trials_. Amid these records of
savagery, it is a positive relief to come across such a trial as that of
poor Joseph Baretti. Baretti, it will be remembered, was brought to
trial because, when some roughs set upon him in the street, he drew a
dagger, which he usually carried 'to carve fruit and sweetmeats,' and
killed his assailant. In that age, when our law courts were a veritable
shambles, how cheerful it is to find that the jury returned a verdict of
'self-defence.' But then Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, Dr. Johnson,
and David Garrick gave evidence to character, representing Baretti as 'a
man of benevolence, sobriety, modesty, and learning.' This trial is an
oasis of mercy in a desert of drastic punishment. Borrow carries on his
'trials' to the very year before the date of publication, and the last
trial in the book is that of 'Henry Fauntleroy, Esquire,' for forgery.
Fauntleroy was a quite respectable banker of unimpeachable character, to
whom had fallen at a very early age the charge of a banking business
that was fundamentally unsound. It is clear that he had honestly
endeavoured to put things on a better footing, that he lived simply, and
had no gambling or other vices. At a crisis, however, he forged a
document, in other words signed a transfer of stock which he had no
right to do, the 'subscribing witness' to his power of attorney being
Robert Browning, a clerk in the Bank of England, and father of the
distinguished poet.[69] Well, Fauntleroy was sentenced to be hanged--and
he was duly hanged at Newgate on 30th October 1824, only thirteen years
before Queen Victoria came to the throne!

Borrow has affirmed that from a study of the _Newgate Calendar_ and the
compilation of his _Celebrated Trials_ he first learned to write genuine
English, and it is a fact that there are some remarkably dramatic
effects in these volumes, although one here withholds from Borrow the
title of 'author' because so much is 'scissors and paste,' and the
purple passages are only occasional. All the same I am astonished that
no one has thought it worth while to make a volume of these dramatic
episodes, which are clearly the work of Borrow, and owe nothing to the
innumerable pamphlets and chap-books that he brought into use. Take such
an episode as that of Schening and Harlin, two young German women, one
of whom pretended to have murdered her infant in the presence of the
other because she madly supposed that this would secure them bread--and
they were starving. The trial, the scene at the execution, the
confession on the scaffold of the misguided but innocent girl, the
respite, and then the execution--these make up as thrilling a narrative
as is contained in the pages of fiction. Assuredly Borrow did not spare
himself in that race round the bookstalls of London to find the material
which the grasping Sir Richard Phillips required from him. He found, for
example, Sir Herbert Croft's volume, _Love and Madness_, the supposed
correspondence of Parson Hackman and Martha Reay, whom he murdered. That
correspondence is now known to be an invention of Croft's. Borrow
accepted it as genuine, and incorporated the whole of it in his story of
the Hackman trial.

But after all, the trial which we read with greatest interest in these
six volumes is that of John Thurtell, because Borrow had known Thurtell
in his youth, and gives us more than one glimpse of him in _Lavengro_
and _The Romany Rye_. We recall, for example, Lavengro's interview with
the magistrate when a visitor is announced:

     '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

     '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

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

     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

     'He appeared to know you.'

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

     'What is his name?'

In the original manuscript in my possession the name 'John Thurtell' is
given as the answer to that inquiry. In the printed book the chapter
ends more abruptly as we see. The second reference is even more
dramatic. It occurs when Lavengro has a conversation with his friend the
gypsy Petulengro in a thunderstorm--when all are hurrying to the
prize-fight. Here let Borrow tell his story:

     'Look up there, brother!'

     I looked up. Connected with this tempest there was one feature
     to which I have already alluded--the wonderful colours of the
     clouds. Some were of vivid green, others of the brightest
     orange, others as black as pitch. The gypsy's finger was
     pointed to a particular part of the sky.

     'What do you see there, brother?'

     'A strange kind of cloud.'

     'What does it look like, brother?'

     'Something like a stream of blood.'

     'That cloud foreshoweth a bloody dukkeripen.'

     'A bloody fortune!' said I. 'And whom may it betide?'

     'Who knows?' said the gypsy.

     Down the way, dashing and splashing, and scattering man, horse,
     and cart to the left and right, came an open barouche, drawn by
     four smoking steeds, with postillions in scarlet jackets and
     leather skull-caps. Two forms were conspicuous in it--that of
     the successful bruiser, and of his friend and backer, the
     sporting gentleman of my acquaintance.

     'His!' said the gypsy, pointing to the latter, whose stern
     features wore a smile of triumph, as, probably recognising me
     in the crowd, he nodded in the direction of where I stood, as
     the barouche hurried by.

     There went the barouche, dashing through the rain-gushes, and
     in it one whose boast it was that he was equal to 'either
     fortune.' Many have heard of that man--many may be desirous of
     knowing yet more of him. I have nothing to do with that man's
     after life--he fulfilled his dukkeripen. 'A bad, violent man!'
     Softly, friend; when thou wouldst speak harshly of the dead,
     remember that thou hast not yet fulfilled thy own dukkeripen!

There is yet another reference by Borrow to Thurtell in _The Gypsies of
Spain_, which runs as follows:

     When a boy of fourteen I was present at a prize-fight; why
     should I hide the truth? It took place on a green meadow,
     beside a running stream, close by the old church of E----, and
     within a league of the ancient town of N----, the capital of
     one of the eastern counties. The terrible Thurtell was present,
     lord of the concourse; for wherever he moved he was master, and
     whenever he spoke, even when in chains, every other voice was
     silent. He stood on the mead, grim and pale as usual, with his
     bruisers around. He it was, indeed, who _got up_ the fight, as
     he had previously done twenty others; it being his frequent
     boast that he had first introduced bruising and bloodshed
     amidst rural scenes, and transformed a quiet slumbering town
     into a den of Jews and metropolitan thieves.

Rarely in our criminal jurisprudence has a murder trial excited more
interest than that of John Thurtell for the murder of Weare--the Gill's
Hill Murder, as it was called. Certainly no murder of modern times has
had so many indirect literary associations. Borrow, Carlyle, Hazlitt,
Walter Scott, and Thackeray are among those who have given it lasting
fame by comment of one kind or another; and the lines ascribed to
Theodore Hook are perhaps as well known as any other memory of the

    They cut his throat from ear to ear,
      His brain they battered in,
    His name was Mr. William Weare,
      He dwelt in Lyon's Inn.

Carlyle's division of human beings of the upper classes into 'noblemen,
gentlemen, and gigmen,' which occurs in his essay on Richter, and a
later reference to gig-manhood which occurs in his essay on Goethe's
Works, had their inspiration in an episode in the trial of Thurtell,
when the question being asked, 'What sort of a person was Mr. Weare?'
brought the answer, 'He was always a respectable person.' 'What do you
mean by respectable?' the witness was asked. 'He kept a gig,' was the
reply, which brought the word 'gigmanity' into our language.[70]

I have said that John Thurtell and two members of his family became
subscribers for Borrow's _Romantic Ballads_,[71] and it is certain that
Borrow must often have met Thurtell, that is to say looked at him from a
distance, in some of the scenes of prize-fighting which both affected,
Borrow merely as a youthful spectator, Thurtell as a reckless backer of
one or other combatant. Thurtell's father was an alderman of Norwich
living in a good house on the Ipswich Road when the son's name rang
through England as that of a murderer. The father was born in 1765 and
died in 1846. Four years after his son John was hanged he was elected
Mayor of Norwich, in recognition of his violent ultra-Whig or blue and
white political opinions. He had been nominated as mayor both in 1818
and 1820, but it was perhaps the extraordinary 'advertisement' of his
son's shameful death that gave the citizens of Norwich the necessary
enthusiasm to elect Alderman Thurtell as mayor in 1828. It was in those
oligarchical days a not unnatural fashion to be against the Government.
The feast at the Guildhall on this occasion was attended by four hundred
and sixty guests. A year before John Thurtell was hanged, in 1823, his
father moved a violent political resolution in Norwich, but was
out-Heroded by Cobbett, who moved a much more extreme one over his head
and carried it by an immense majority. It was a brutal time, and there
cannot be a doubt but that Alderman Thurtell, while busy setting the
world straight, failed to bring up his family very well. John, as we
shall see, was hanged; Thomas, another brother, was associated with him
in many disgraceful transactions; while a third brother, George, also a
subscriber, by the way, to Borrow's _Romantic Ballads_, who was a
landscape gardener at Eaton, died in prison in 1848 under sentence for
theft. Apart from a rather riotous and bad bringing up, which may be
pleaded in extenuation, it is not possible to waste much sympathy over
John Thurtell. He had thoroughly disgraced himself in Norwich before he
removed to London. There he got further and further into difficulties,
and one of the many publications which arose out of his trial and
execution was devoted to pointing the moral of the evils of
gambling.[72] It was bad luck at cards, and the loss of much money to
William Weare, who seems to have been an exceedingly vile person, that
led to the murder. Thurtell had a friend named Probert who lived in a
quiet cottage in a byway of Hertfordshire--Gill's Hill, near Elstree. He
suggested to Weare in a friendly way that they should go for a day's
shooting at Gill's Hill, and that Probert would put them up for the
night. Weare went home, collected a few things in a bag, and took a
hackney coach to a given spot, where Thurtell met him with a gig. The
two men drove out of London together. The date was 24th October 1823. On
the high-road they met and passed Probert and a companion named Joseph
Hunt, who had even been instructed by Thurtell to bring a sack with
him--this was actually used to carry away the body--and must therefore
have been privy to the intended murder. By the time the second gig
containing Probert and Hunt arrived near Probert's cottage, Thurtell met
it in the roadway, according to their accounts, and told the two men
that he had done the deed; that he had killed Weare first by
ineffectively shooting him, then by dashing out his brains with his
pistol, and finally by cutting his throat. Thurtell further told his
friends, if their evidence was to be trusted, that he had left the body
behind a hedge. In the night the three men placed the body in a sack and
carried it to a pond near Probert's house and threw it in. The next
night they fished it out and threw it into another pond some distance

Thurtell meanwhile had divided the spoil--some £20, which he said was
all that he had obtained from Weare's body--with his companions. Hunt,
it may be mentioned, afterwards declared his conviction that Thurtell,
when he first committed the murder, had removed his victim's principal
treasure, notes to the value of three or four hundred pounds. Suspicion
was aroused, and the hue and cry raised through the finding by a
labourer of the pistol in the hedge, and the discovery of a pool of
blood on the roadway. Probert promptly turned informer; Hunt also tried
to save himself by a rambling confession, and it was he who revealed
where the body was concealed, accompanying the officers to the pond and
pointing out the exact spot where the corpse would be found. When
recovered the body was taken to the Artichoke Inn at Elstree, and here
the coroner's inquest was held. Meanwhile Thurtell had been arrested in
London, and taken down to Elstree to be present at the inquest. A
verdict of guilty against all three miscreants was given by the
coroner's jury, and Weare's body was buried in Elstree Churchyard.[73]

In January 1824 John Thurtell was brought to trial at Hertford Assizes,
and Hunt also. But first of all there were some interesting proceedings
in the Court of King's Bench, before the Chief Justice and two other
judges,[74] complaining that Thurtell had not been allowed to see his
counsel. And there were other points at issue. Thurtell's counsel moved
for a criminal injunction against the proprietor of the Surrey Theatre
in that a performance had been held there, and was being held, which
assumed Thurtell's guilt, the identical horse and gig being exhibited in
which Weare was supposed to have ridden to the scene of his death.
Finally this was arranged, and a _mandamus_ was granted 'commanding the
admission of legal advisers to the prisoner.' At last the trial came on
at Hertford before Mr. Justice Park. It lasted two days, although the
judge wished to go on all night in order to finish in one. But the
protest of Thurtell, supported by the jury, led to an adjournment.
Probert had been set free and appeared as a witness. The jury gave a
verdict of guilty, and Thurtell and Hunt were sentenced to be hanged,
but Hunt escaped with transportation. Thurtell made his own speech for
the defence, which had a great effect upon the jury, until the judge
swept most of its sophistries away. It was, however, a very able
performance. Thurtell's line of defence was to declare that Hunt and
Probert were the murderers, and that he was a victim of their perjuries.
If hanged, he would be hanged on circumstantial evidence only, and he
gave, with great elaboration, the details of a number of cases where men
had been wrongfully hanged upon circumstantial evidence. His lawyers had
apparently provided him with books containing these examples from the
past, and his month in prison was devoted to this defence, which showed
great ability. The trial took place on 6th January 1824, and Thurtell
was hanged on the 9th, in front of Hertford Gaol: his body was given to
the Anatomical Museum in London. A contemporary report says that
Thurtell, on the scaffold,

     fixed his eyes on a young gentleman in the crowd, whom he had
     frequently seen as a spectator at the commencement of the
     proceedings against him. Seeing that the individual was
     affected by the circumstances, he removed them to another
     quarter, and in so doing recognised an individual well known in
     the sporting circles, to whom he made a slight bow.

The reader of _Lavengro_ might speculate whether that 'young gentleman'
was Borrow, but Borrow was in Norwich in January 1824, his father dying
in the following month. In his _Celebrated Trials_ Borrow tells the
story of the execution with wonderful vividness, and supplies effective
quotations from 'an eyewitness.' Borrow no doubt exaggerated his
acquaintance with Thurtell, as in his _Robinson Crusoe_ romance he was
fully entitled to do for effect. He was too young at the time to have
been much noticed by a man so much his senior. The writer who accepts
Borrow's own statement that he really gave him 'some lessons in the
noble art' is too credulous,[75] and the statement that Thurtell's house
'on the Ipswich Road was a favourite rendezvous for the Fancy' is
unsupported by evidence. Old Alderman Thurtell owned the house in
question, and we find no evidence that he encouraged his son's
predilection for prize-fighting. In _The Romany Rye_ he gives his friend
the jockey as his authority for the following apologia:

     The night before the day he was hanged at H----, I harnessed a
     Suffolk Punch to my light gig, the same Punch which I had
     offered to him, which I have ever since kept, and which brought
     me and this short young man to Horncastle, and in eleven hours
     I drove that Punch one hundred and ten miles. I arrived at
     H---- just in the nick of time. There was the ugly jail--the
     scaffold--and there upon it stood the only friend I ever had in
     the world. Driving my Punch, which was all in a foam, into the
     midst of the crowd, which made way for me as if it knew what I
     came for, I stood up in my gig, took off my hat, and shouted,
     'God Almighty bless you, Jack!' The dying man turned his pale
     grim face towards me--for his face was always somewhat grim, do
     you see--nodded and said, or I thought I heard him say, 'All
     right, old chap.' The next moment--my eyes water. He had a high
     heart, got into a scrape whilst in the marines, lost his
     half-pay, took to the turf, ring, gambling, and at last cut the
     throat of a villain who had robbed him of nearly all he had.
     But he had good qualities, and I know for certain that he never
     did half the bad things laid to his charge.


[65] _Celebrated Trials and Remarkable Cases of Criminal Jurisprudence
from the Earliest Records to the Year 1825_. In six volumes. London:
Printed for Geo. Knight & Lacey, Paternoster Row, 1825. Price £3, 12s.
in boards.

[66] _The New and Complete Newgate Calendar or Malefactors Recording
Register_. By William Jackson. Six vols. 1802.

[67] Cobbett and Howell's _State Trials_. In thirty-three volumes and
index, 1809 to 1828. The last volume, apart from the index, was actually
published the year after Borrow's _Celebrated Trials_, that is, in 1826;
but the last trial recorded was that of Thistlewood in 1820. The editors
were William Cobbett, Thomas Bayly Howell, and his son, Thomas Jones

[68] The following note appeared in _The Monthly Magazine_ for 1st July
1824 (vol. lvii. p. 557):

'A Selection of the most remarkable Trials and Criminal Causes is
printing in five volumes. It will include all famous cases, from that of
Lord Cobham, in the reign of Henry the Fifth, to that of John Thurtell;
and those connected with foreign as well as English jurisprudence. Mr.
Borrow, the editor, has availed himself of all the resources of the
English, German, French, and Italian languages; and his work, including
from 150 to 200 of the most interesting cases on record, will appear in
October next. The editor of the preceding has ready for the press a
_Life of Faustus, his Death, and Descent into Hell_, which will also
appear early in the next winter.'

[69] Did the poet, who had an interest in criminology, know of his
father's quite innocent association with the Fauntleroy trial?

[70] Another witness attained fame by her answer to the inquiry, 'Was
supper postponed?' with the reply, 'No, it was pork.'

[71] I have already stated (ch. x. p. 111) that three members of the
Thurtell family subscribed for _Romantic Ballads_. I should have
hesitated to include John Thurtell among the subscribers, as he was
hanged two years before the book was published, had I not the high
authority of Mr. Walter Rye, but recently Mayor of Norwich, and the
honoured author of a _History of Norfolk Families_ and other works. Mr.
Rye, to whom I owe much of the information concerning the Thurtells
published here, tells me that there was only this one, 'J. Thurtell.'
Borrow had doubtless been appealing for subscribers for a very long
time. I cannot, however, accept Mr. Rye's suggestion to me that Borrow
left Norwich because he was mixed up with Thurtell in ultra-Whig or
Radical scrapes, the intimidation and 'cooping' of Tory voters being a
characteristic of the elections of that day with the wilder spirits, of
whom Thurtell was doubtless one. Borrow's sympathies were with the Tory
party from his childhood up--following his father.

[72] _The Fatal Effects of Gambling Exemplified in the Murder of Wm.
Weare and the Trial and Fate of John Thurtell, the Murderer, and his
Accomplices_. London: Thomas Kelly, Paternoster Row. 1824. I have a very
considerable number of Weare pamphlets in my possession, one of them
being a record of the trial by Pierce Egan, the author of _Life in
London_ and _Boxiana_. Walter Scott writes in his diary of being
absorbed in an account of the trial, while he deprecates John Bull's
maudlin sentiment over 'the pitiless assassin.' That was in 1826, but in
1828 Scott went out of his way when travelling from London to Edinburgh,
to visit Gill's Hill, and describes the scene of the tragedy very
vividly. Lockhart's _Life_, ch. lxxvi.

[73] Elstree had already had its association with a murder case, for
Martha Reay, the mistress of John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, was
buried in the church in 1779. She was the mother of several of the
Earl's children, one of whom was Basil Montagu. She was a beautiful
woman and a delightful singer, and was appearing on the stage at Covent
Garden, which theatre she was leaving on the night of 7th April 1779,
when the Reverend James Hackman, Vicar of Wiveton in Norfolk, shot her
through the head with a pistol in a fit of jealous rage. Hackman was
hanged at Tyburn, Boswell attending the funeral. Croft's supposed
letters between Hackman and Martha Reay, which made a great sensation
when issued under the title of _Love and Madness_, are now known to be
spurious (see ch. x. p. 115). Martha Reay was buried in the chancel of
Elstree Church, but Lord Sandwich, who, although he sent word to
Hackman, who asked his forgiveness, that 'he had robbed him of all
comfort in this world,' took no pains to erect a monument over her
remains. On 28th February 1913 the present writer visited Elstree in the
interest of this book. He found that the church of Martha Reay and
William Weare had long disappeared. A new structure dating from 1853 had
taken its place. The present vicar, he was told, has located the spot
where Weare was buried, and it coincides with the old engravings. Martha
Reay's remains, at the time of the rebuilding, were removed to the
churchyard, and lie near the door of the vestry, lacking all memorial.
The Artichoke Inn has also been rebuilt, and 'Weare's Pond,' which alone
recalls the tragedy to-day, where the body was found, has contracted
into a small pool. It is, however, clearly authentic, the brook, as
pictured in the old trial-books, now running under the road.

[74] One of them was Mr. Justice Best, of whom it is recorded that a
certain index had the reference line, 'Mr. Justice Best: his Great
Mind,' which seemed to have no justification in the mental qualities of
that worthy, but was explained when one referred to the context and saw
that 'Mr. Justice Best said that he had a great mind to commit the
witness for contempt.'

[75] See an introduction by Thomas Seccombe to _Lavengro_ in 'Everyman's



George Borrow had no sympathy with Thurtell the gambler. I can find no
evidence in his career of any taste for games of hazard or indeed for
games of any kind, although we recall that as a mere child he was able
to barter a pack of cards for the Irish language. But he had certainly
very considerable sympathy with the notorious criminal as a friend and
patron of prize-fighting. This now discredited pastime Borrow ever
counted a virtue. Was not his God-fearing father a champion in his way,
or, at least, had he not in open fight beaten the champion of the
moment, Big Ben Brain? Moreover, who was there in those days with blood
in his veins who did not count the cultivation of the Fancy as the
noblest and most manly of pursuits! Why, William Hazlitt, a prince among
English essayists, whose writings are a beloved classic in our day,
wrote in _The New Monthly Magazine_ in these very years[76] his own
eloquent impression, and even introduces John Thurtell more than once as
'Tom Turtle,' little thinking then of the fate that was so soon to
overtake him. What could be more lyrical than this:

     Reader, have you ever seen a fight? If not, you have a pleasure
     to come, at least if it is a fight like that between the
     Gas-man and Bill Neate.

And then the best historian of prize-fighting, Henry Downes Miles, the
author of _Pugilistica_, has his own statement of the case. You will
find it in his monograph on John Jackson, the pugilist who taught Lord
Byron to box, and received the immortality of an eulogistic footnote in
_Don Juan_. Here is Miles's defence:

     No small portion of the public has taken it for granted that
     pugilism and blackguardism are synonymous. It is as an antidote
     to these slanderers that we pen a candid history of the boxers;
     and taking the general habits of men of humble origin (elevated
     by their courage and bodily gifts to be the associates of those
     more fortunate in worldly position), we fearlessly maintain
     that the best of our boxers present as good samples of honesty,
     generosity of spirit, goodness of heart and humanity, as an
     equal number of men of any class of society.

From Samuel Johnson to George Bernard Shaw literary England has had a
kindness for the pugilist, although the magistrate has long, and
rightly, ruled him out as impossible. Borrow carried his enthusiasm
further than any, and no account of him that concentrates attention upon
his accomplishment as a distributor of Bibles and ignores his delight in
fisticuffs, has any grasp of the real George Borrow. Indeed it may be
said, and will be shown in the course of our story, that Borrow entered
upon Bible distribution in the spirit of a pugilist rather than that of
an evangelist. But to return to Borrow's pugilistic experiences. He
claims, as we have seen, occasionally to have put on the gloves with
John Thurtell. He describes vividly enough his own conflicts with the
Flaming Tinman and with Petulengro. His one heroine, Isopel Berners,
had 'Fair Play and Long Melford' as her ideal, 'Long Melford' being the
good right-handed blow with which Lavengro conquered the Tinman. Isopel,
we remember, had learned in Long Melford Union to 'Fear God and take
your own part!'

George Borrow, indeed, was at home with the whole army of
prize-fighters, who came down to us like the Roman Cæsars or the Kings
of England in a noteworthy procession, their dynasty commencing with
James Fig of Thame, who began to reign in 1719, and closing with Tom
King, who beat Heenan in 1863, or with Jem Mace, who flourished in a
measure until 1872. With what zest must Borrow have followed the account
of the greatest battle of all, that between Heenan and Tom Sayers at
Farnborough in 1860, when it was said that Parliament had been emptied
to patronise a prize-fight; and this although Heenan complained that he
had been chased out of eight counties. For by this time, in spite of
lordly patronage, pugilism was doomed, and the more harmless boxing had
taken its place. 'Pity that corruption should have crept in amongst
them,' sighed Lavengro in a memorable passage, in which he also has his
pæan of praise for the bruisers of England:

     Let no one sneer at the bruisers of England--what were the
     gladiators of Rome, or the bull-fighters of Spain, in its
     palmiest days, compared to England's bruisers?[77]


'Jasper' or Ambrose Smith was a very old man when this picture was taken
by Mr. Andrew Innes of Dunbar in 1878. In both pictures we see
Sanspirella, Jasper's wife, seated and holding a child. We are indebted
to Mr. Charles Spence of Dunbar for these interesting groups.]

Yes: Borrow was never hard on the bruisers of England, and followed
their achievements, it may be said, from his cradle to his grave. His
beloved father had brought him up, so to speak, upon memories of one who
was champion before George was born--Big Ben Brain of Bristol. Brain,
although always called 'Big Ben,' was only 5 feet 10 in. high. He was
for years a coal porter at a wharf off the Strand. It was in 1791 that
Ben Brain won the championship which placed him upon a pinnacle in the
minds of all robust people. The Duke of Hamilton then backed him against
the then champion, Tom Johnson, for five hundred guineas. 'Public
expectation,' says _The Oracle_, a contemporary newspaper, 'never was
raised so high by any pugilistic contest; great bets were laid, and it
is estimated £20,000 was wagered on this occasion.' Ben Brain was the
undisputed conqueror, we are told, in eighteen rounds, occupying no more
than twenty-one minutes.[78] Brain died in 1794, and all the biographers
tell of the piety of his end, so that Borrow's father may have read the
Bible to him in his last moments, as Borrow avers,[79] but I very much
doubt the accuracy of the following:

     Honour to Brain, who four months after the event which I have
     now narrated was champion of England, having conquered the
     heroic Johnson. Honour to Brain, who, at the end of other four
     months, worn out by the dreadful blows which he had received in
     his manly combats, expired in the arms of my father, who read
     the Bible to him in his latter moments--Big Ben Brain.

We have already shown that Brain lived for four years after his fight
with Johnson. Perhaps the fight in Hyde Park between Borrow's father and
Ben, as narrated in _Lavengro_, is all romancing. It makes good reading
in any case, as does Borrow's eulogy of some of his own contemporaries
of the prize-ring:

     So the bruisers of England are come to be present at the grand
     fight speedily coming off; there they are met in the precincts
     of the old town, near the field of the chapel, planted with
     tender saplings at the restoration of sporting Charles, which
     are now become venerable elms as high as many a steeple. There
     they are met at a fitting rendezvous, where a retired coachman,
     with one leg, keeps an hotel and a bowling-green. I think I now
     see them upon the bowling-green, the men of renown, amidst
     hundreds of people with no renown at all, who gaze upon them
     with timid wonder. Fame, after all, is a glorious thing, though
     it lasts only for a day. There's Cribb, the champion of
     England, and perhaps the best man in England; there he is, with
     his huge, massive figure, and face wonderfully like that of a
     lion. There is Belcher, the younger, not the mighty one, who is
     gone to his place, but the Teucer Belcher, the most scientific
     pugilist that ever entered a ring, only wanting strength to be,
     I won't say what. He appears to walk before me now, as he did
     that evening, with his white hat, white greatcoat, thin genteel
     figure, springy step, and keen, determined eye. Crosses him,
     what a contrast! grim, savage Shelton, who has a civil word for
     nobody, and a hard blow for anybody--hard! one blow, given with
     the proper play of his athletic arm, will unsense a giant.
     Yonder individual, who strolls about with his hands behind him,
     supporting his brown coat lappets, under-sized, and who looks
     anything but what he is, is the king of the light weights, so
     called--Randall! the terrible Randall, who has Irish blood in
     his veins--not the better for that, nor the worse; and not far
     from him is his last antagonist, Ned Turner, who, though beaten
     by him, still thinks himself as good a man, in which he is,
     perhaps, right, for it was a near thing; and 'a better
     shentleman,' in which he is quite right, for he is a Welshman.
     But how shall I name them all? They were there by dozens, and
     all tremendous in their way. There was Bulldog Hudson, and
     fearless Scroggins, who beat the conqueror of Sam the Jew.
     There was Black Richmond--no, he was not there, but I knew him
     well; he was the most dangerous of blacks, even with a broken
     thigh. There was Purcell, who could never conquer till all
     seemed over with him. There was--what! shall I name thee last?
     ay, why not? I believe that thou art the last of all that
     strong family still above the sod, where mayest thou long
     continue--true piece of English stuff, Tom of Bedford--sharp as
     winter, kind as spring.

All this is very accurate history. We know that there really was this
wonderful gathering of the bruisers of England assembled in the
neighbourhood of Norwich in July 1820, that is to say, sixteen miles
away at North Walsham. More than 25,000 men, it is estimated, gathered
to see Edward Painter of Norwich fight Tom Oliver of London for a purse
of a hundred guineas. There were three Belchers, heroes of the
prize-ring, but Borrow here refers to Tom, whose younger brother, Jem,
had died in 1811 at the age of thirty. Tom Belcher died in 1854 at the
age of seventy-one. Thomas Cribb was champion of England from 1805 to
1820. One of Cribb's greatest fights was with Jem Belcher in 1807, when,
in the forty-first and last round, as we are told by the chroniclers,
'Cribb proving the stronger man put in two weak blows, when Belcher,
quite exhausted, fell upon the ropes and gave up the combat.' Cribb had
a prolonged career of glory, but he died in poverty in 1848. Happier was
an earlier champion, John Gully, who held the glorious honour for three
years--from 1805 to 1808. Gully turned tavern-keeper, and making a
fortune out of sundry speculations, entered Parliament as member for
Pontefract, and lived to be eighty years of age.

It is necessary to dwell upon Borrow as the friend of prize-fighters,
because no one understands Borrow who does not realise that his real
interests were not in literature but in action. He would have liked to
join the army but could not obtain a commission. And so he had to be
content with such fighting as was possible. He cared more for the men
who could use their fists than for those who could but wield the pen. He
would, we may be sure, have rejoiced to know that many more have visited
the tomb of Tom Sayers in Highgate Cemetery than have visited the tomb
of George Eliot in the same burial-ground. A curious moral obliquity
this, you may say. But to recognise it is to understand one side of
Borrow, and an interesting side withal.


[76] _The New Monthly Magazine_, February 1822, 'The Fight.' Reprinted
among William Hazlitt's _Fugitive Writings_ in vol. xii. of his
Collected Works (Dent, 1904).

[77] _Lavengro_ ch. xxvi. 'It is as good as Homer,' says Mr. Augustine
Birrell, quoting the whole passage in his _Res Judicatæ_. Mr. Birrell
tells a delightful story of an old Quaker lady who was heard to say at a
dinner-table, when the subject of momentary conversation was a late
prize-fight: 'Oh, pity it was that ever corruption should have crept in
amongst them'--she had just been reading _Lavengro_.

[78] _Pugilistica_, vol. i. 69.

[79] _Lavengro_, ch. i.



There has been much nonsense written concerning what has been called the
'veiled period' of George Borrow's life. This has arisen from a letter
which Richard Ford of the _Handbook for Travellers in Spain_ wrote to
Borrow after a visit to him at Oulton in 1844. Borrow was full of his
projected _Lavengro_, the idea of which he outlined to his friends. He
was a genial man in those days, on the wave of a popular success.
Was not _The Bible in Spain_ passing merrily from edition to
edition! Borrow, it is clear, told Ford that he was writing his
'Autobiography'--he had no misgiving then as to what he should call
it--and he evidently proposed to end it in 1825 and not in 1833, when
the Bible Society gave him his real chance in life. Ford begged him, in
letters that came into Dr. Knapp's possession, and from which he quotes
all too meagrely, not to 'drop a curtain' over the eight years
succeeding 1825. 'No doubt,' says Ford, 'it will excite a mysterious
interest,' but then he adds in effect it will lead to a wrong
construction being put upon the omission. Well, there can be but one
interpretation, and that not an unnatural one. Borrow had a very rough
time during these eight years. His vanity was hurt, and no wonder. It
seems a small matter to us now that Charles Dickens should have been
ashamed of the blacking-bottle episode of his boyhood. Genius has a
right to a penurious, and even to a sordid, boyhood. But genius has no
right to a sordid manhood, and here was George 'Olaus' Borrow, who was
able to claim the friendship of William Taylor, the German scholar; who
was able to boast of his association with sound scholastic foundations,
with the High School at Edinburgh and the Grammar School at Norwich; who
was a great linguist and had made rare translations from the poetry of
many nations, starving in the byways of England and of France. What a
fate for such a man that he should have been so unhappy for eight years;
should have led the most penurious of roving lives, and almost certainly
have been in prison as a common tramp.[80] It was all very well to
romance about a poverty-stricken youth. But when youth had fled there
ceased to be romance, and only sordidness was forthcoming. From his
twenty-third to his thirty-first year George Borrow was engaged in a
hopeless quest for the means of making a living. There is, however, very
little mystery. Many incidents of each of these years are revealed at
one or other point. His home, to which he returned from time to time,
was with his mother at the cottage in Willow Lane, Norwich. Whether he
made sufficient profit out of a horse, as in _The Romany Rye_, to enable
him to travel upon the proceeds, as Dr. Knapp thinks, we cannot say. Dr.
Knapp is doubtless right in assuming that during this period he led 'a
life of roving adventure,' his own authorised version of his career at
the time, as we have quoted from the biography in his handwriting from
_Men of the Time_. But how far this roving was confined to England, how
far it extended to other lands, we do not know. We are, however,
satisfied that he starved through it all, that he rarely had a penny in
his pocket. At a later date he gave it to be understood at times that he
had visited the East, and that India had revealed her glories to him. We
do not believe it. Defoe was Borrow's master in literature, and he
shared Defoe's right to lie magnificently on occasion. Dr. Knapp has
collected the various occasions upon which Borrow referred to his
supposed earlier travels abroad prior to his visit to St. Petersburg in
1833. The only quotation that carries conviction is an extract from a
letter to his mother from St. Petersburg, where he writes of 'London,
Paris, Madrid, and other capitals which I have visited.' I am not,
however, disinclined to accept Dr. Knapp's theory that in 1826-7 Borrow
did travel to Paris and through certain parts of Southern Europe. It is
strange, all the same, that adventures which, had they taken place,
would have provoked a thousand observations, provoked but two or three
passing references. Yet there is no getting over that letter to his
mother, nor that reference in _The Gypsies of Spain_, where he
says--'Once in the south of France, when I was weary, hungry, and
penniless....' Borrow certainly did some travel in these years, but it
was sordid, lacking in all dignity--never afterwards to be recalled. For
the most part, however, he was in England. We know that Borrow was in
Norwich in 1826, for we have seen him superintending the publication of
the _Romantic Ballads_ by subscription in that year. In that year also
he wrote the letter to Haydon, the painter, to say that he was ready to
sit for him, but that he was 'going to the south of France in a little
better than a fortnight.'[81] We know also that he was in Norwich in
1827, because it was then, and not in 1818 as described in _Lavengro_,
that he 'doffed his hat' to the famous trotting stallion Marshland
Shales, when that famous old horse was exhibited at Tombland Fair on the
Castle Hill. We meet him next as the friend of Dr. Bowring. The letters
to Bowring we must leave to another chapter, but they commence in 1829
and continue through 1830 and 1831. Through them all Borrow shows
himself alive to the necessity of obtaining an appointment of some kind,
and meanwhile he is hard at work upon his translations from various
languages, which, in conjunction with Dr. Bowring, he is to issue as
_Songs of Scandinavia_. Dr. Knapp thinks that in 1829 he made the
translation of the _Memoirs of Vidocq_, which appeared in that year with
a short preface by the translator.[82] But these little volumes bear no
internal evidence of Borrow's style, and there is no external evidence
to support the assumption that he had a hand in their publication. His
occasional references to Vidocq are probably due to the fact that he had
read this little book.

I have before me one very lengthy manuscript of Borrow's of this period.
It is dated December 1829, and is addressed, 'To the Committee of the
Honourable and Praiseworthy Association, known by the name of the
Highland Society.'[83] It is a proposal that they should publish in two
thick octavo volumes a series of translations of the best and most
approved poetry of the ancient and modern Scots-Gaelic bards. Borrow was
willing to give two years to the project, for which he pleads 'with no
sordid motive.' It is a dignified letter, which will be found in one of
Dr. Knapp's appendices--so presumably Borrow made two copies of it. The
offer was in any case declined, and so Borrow passed from disappointment
to disappointment during these eight years, which no wonder he desired,
in the coming years of fame and prosperity, to veil as much as possible.
The lean years in the lives of any of us are not those upon which we
delight to dwell, or upon which we most cheerfully look back.[84]


[80] Only thus can we explain Borrow's later declaration that he had
_four_ times been in prison.

[81] I quote this letter in another chapter. Mr. Herbert Jenkins thinks
(_Life_, ch. v. p. 88) that Borrow was in Paris during the revolution of
1830, because of a picturesque reference to the war correspondents there
in _The Bible in Spain_. But Borrow never hesitated to weave little
touches of romance from extraneous writers into his narratives, and may
have done so here. I have visited most of the principal capitals of the
world, he says in _The Bible in Spain_. This we would call a palpable
lie were not so much of _The Bible in Spain_ sheer invention.

[82] _Memoirs of Vidocq, Principal Agent of the French Police until
1827, and now proprietor of the paper manufactory at St. Mandé_. Written
by himself. Translated from the French. In Four Volumes. London:
Whittaker, Treacher and Arnot, Ave Maria Lane, 1829.

[83] This with other documents I am about to present to the Borrow
Museum, Norwich.

[84] In 1830 Borrow had another disappointment. He translated _The
Sleeping Bard_ from the Welsh. This also failed to find a publisher. It
was issued in 1860, under which date we discuss it.



'Poor George.... I wish he were making money. He works hard and remains
poor'--thus wrote John Borrow to his mother in 1830 from Mexico, and it
disposes in a measure of any suggestion of mystery with regard to five
of those years that he wished to veil. They were not spent, it is clear,
in rambling in the East, as he tried to persuade Colonel Napier many
years later. They were spent for the most part in diligent attempt at
the capture of words, in reading the poetry and the prose of many lands,
and in making translations of unequal merit from these diverse tongues.
This is indisputably brought home to me by the manuscripts in my
possession, supplemented by those that fell to Dr. Knapp. These
manuscripts represent years of work. Borrow has been counted a
considerable linguist, and he had assuredly a reading and speaking
acquaintance with a great many languages. But this knowledge was
acquired, as all knowledge is, with infinite trouble and patience. I
have before me hundreds of small sheets of paper upon which are written
English words and their equivalents in some twenty or thirty languages.
These serve to show that Borrow learnt a language as a small boy in an
old-fashioned system of education learns his Latin or French--by writing
down simple words--'father,' 'mother,' 'horse,' 'dog,' and so on with
the same word in Latin or French in front of them. Of course Borrow had
a superb memory and abundant enthusiasm, and so he was enabled to add
one language to another and to make his translations from such books as
he could obtain, with varied success. I believe that nearly all the
books that he handled came from the Norwich library, and when Mrs.
Borrow wrote to her elder son to say that George was working hard, as we
may fairly assume, from the reply quoted, that she did, she was
recalling this laborious work at translation that must have gone on for
years. We have seen the first fruit in the translation from the
German--or possibly from the French--of Klinger's _Faustus_; we have
seen it in _Romantic Ballads_ from the Danish, the Irish, and the
Swedish. Now there really seemed a chance of a more prosperous
utilisation of his gift, for Borrow had found a zealous friend who was
prepared to go forward with him in this work of giving to the English
public translations from the literatures of the northern nations. This
friend was Dr. John Bowring, who made a very substantial reputation in
his day.

Bowring has told his own story in a volume of _Autobiographical
Recollections_,[85] a singularly dull book for a man whose career was at
once so varied and so full of interest. He was born at Exeter in 1792 of
an old Devonshire family, and entered a merchant's office in his native
city on leaving school. He early acquired a taste for the study of
languages, and learnt French from a refugee priest precisely in the way
in which Borrow had done. He also acquired Italian, Spanish, German and
Dutch, continuing with a great variety of other languages. Indeed, only
the very year after Borrow had published _Faustus_, he published his
_Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain_, and the year after Borrow's
_Romantic Ballads_ came Bowring's _Servian Popular Poetry_. With such
interest in common it was natural that the two men should be brought
together, but Bowring had the qualities which enabled him to make a
career for himself and Borrow had not. In 1811, as a clerk in a London
mercantile house, he was sent to Spain, and after this his travels were
varied. He was in Russia in 1820, and in 1822 was arrested at Calais and
thrown into prison, being suspected by the Bourbon Government of
abetting the French Liberals. Canning as Foreign Minister took up his
cause, and he was speedily released. He assisted Jeremy Bentham in
founding _The Westminster Review_ in 1824. Meanwhile he was seeking
official employment, and in conjunction with Mr. Villiers, afterwards
Earl of Clarendon, and that ambassador to Spain who befriended Borrow
when he was in the Peninsula, became a commissioner to investigate the
commercial relations between England and France. After the Reform Bill
of 1832 Bowring was frequently a candidate for Parliament, and was
finally elected for Bolton in 1841. In the meantime he assisted Cobden
in the formation of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1838. Having suffered
great monetary losses in the interval, he applied for the appointment of
Consul at Canton, of which place he afterwards became Governor, being
knighted in 1854. At one period of his career at Hong Kong his conduct
was made the subject of a vote of censure in Parliament, Lord
Palmerston, however, warmly defending him. Finally returning to England
in 1862, he continued his literary work with unfailing zest. He died at
Exeter, in a house very near that in which he was born, in 1872. His
extraordinary energies cannot be too much praised, and there is no
doubt but that in addition to being the possessor of great learning he
was a man of high character. His literary efforts were surprisingly
varied. There are at least thirty-six volumes with his name on the
title-page, most of them unreadable to-day; even such works, for
example, as his _Visit to the Philippine Isles_ and _Siam and the
Siamese_, which involved travel into then little-known lands. Perhaps
the only book by him that to-day commands attention is his translation
of Chamisso's _Peter Schlemihl_. The most readable of many books by him
into which I have dipped is his _Servian Popular Poetry_ of 1827, in
which we find interesting stories in verse that remind us of similar
stories from the Danish in Borrow's _Romantic Ballads_ published only
the year before. The extraordinary thing, indeed, is the many points of
likeness between Borrow and Bowring. Both were remarkable linguists;
both had spent some time in Spain and Russia; both had found themselves
in foreign prisons. They were alike associated in some measure with
Norwich--Bowring through friendship with Taylor--and I might go on to
many other points of likeness or of contrast. It is natural, therefore,
that the penniless Borrow should have welcomed acquaintance with the
more prosperous scholar. Thus it is that, some thirty years later,
Borrow described the introduction by Taylor:

     The writer had just entered into his eighteenth year, when he
     met at the table of a certain Anglo-Germanist an individual,
     apparently somewhat under thirty, of middle stature, a thin and
     weaselly figure, a sallow complexion, a certain obliquity of
     vision, and a large pair of spectacles. This person, who had
     lately come from abroad, and had published a volume of
     translations, had attracted some slight notice in the literary
     world, and was looked upon as a kind of lion in a small
     provincial capital. After dinner he argued a great deal, spoke
     vehemently against the Church, and uttered the most desperate
     Radicalism that was perhaps ever heard, saying, he hoped that
     in a short time there would not be a king or queen in Europe,
     and inveighing bitterly against the English aristocracy, and
     against the Duke of Wellington in particular, whom he said, if
     he himself was ever president of an English republic--an event
     which he seemed to think by no means improbable--he would hang
     for certain infamous acts of profligacy and bloodshed which he
     had perpetrated in Spain. Being informed that the writer was
     something of a philologist, to which character the individual
     in question laid great pretensions, he came and sat down by
     him, and talked about languages and literature. The writer, who
     was only a boy, was a little frightened at first.[86]

The quarrels of authors are frequently amusing but rarely edifying, and
this hatred of Bowring that possessed the soul of poor Borrow in his
later years is of the same texture as the rest. We shall never know the
facts, but the position is comprehensible enough. Let us turn to the
extant correspondence[87] which, as far as we know, opened when Borrow
paid what was probably his third visit to London in 1829:

To Dr. John Bowring

                17 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, BLOOMSBURY. [_Dec. 6, 1829._]

     MY DEAR SIR,--Lest I should intrude upon you when you are busy,
     I write to inquire when you will be unoccupied. I wish to shew
     you my translation of _The Death of Balder_, Ewald's most
     celebrated production,[88] which, if you approve of, you will
     perhaps render me some assistance in bringing forth, for I
     don't know many publishers. I think this will be a proper time
     to introduce it to the British public, as your account of
     Danish literature will doubtless cause a sensation. My friend
     Mr. R. Taylor has my _Kæmpe Viser_, which he has read and
     approves of; but he is so very deeply occupied, that I am
     apprehensive he neglects them: but I am unwilling to take them
     out of his hands, lest I offend him. Your letting me know when
     I may call will greatly oblige,--Dear Sir, your most obedient

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                17 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, BLOOMSBURY. [_Dec. 28, 1829._][89]

     MY DEAR SIR,--I trouble you with these lines for the purpose of
     submitting a little project of mine for your approbation. When
     I had last the pleasure of being at yours, you mentioned, that
     we might at some future period unite our strength in composing
     a kind of Danish Anthology. You know, as well as I, that by far
     the most remarkable portion of Danish poetry is comprised in
     those ancient popular productions termed _Kæmpe Viser_, which I
     have translated. Suppose we bring forward at once the first
     volume of the Danish Anthology, which should contain the heroic
     and supernatural songs of the _K. V._, which are certainly the
     most interesting; they are quite ready for the press with the
     necessary notes, and with an introduction which I am not
     ashamed of. The second volume might consist of the Historic
     songs and the ballads and Romances, this and the third volume,
     which should consist of the modern Danish poetry, and should
     commence with the celebrated 'Ode to the Birds' by Morten
     Borup, might appear in company at the beginning of next season.
     To Ölenslager should be allotted the principal part of the
     fourth volume; and it is my opinion that amongst his minor
     pieces should be given a good translation of his Aladdin, by
     which alone he has rendered his claim to the title of a great
     poet indubitable. A proper Danish Anthology cannot be contained
     in less than 4 volumes, the literature being so copious. The
     first volume, as I said before, might appear instanter, with no
     further trouble to yourself than writing, if you should think
     fit, a page or two of introductory matter.--Yours most truly,
     my dear Sir,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                17 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, _Decr. 31, 1829._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I received your note, and as it appears that you
     will not be disengaged till next Friday evening (this day week)
     I will call then. You think that no more than two volumes can
     be ventured on. Well! be it so! The first volume can contain 70
     choice _Kæmpe Viser_; viz. all the heroic, all the supernatural
     ballads (which two classes are by far the most interesting),
     and a few of the historic and romantic songs. The sooner the
     work is advertised the better, _for I am terribly afraid of
     being forestalled in the Kæmpe Viser by some of those Scotch
     blackguards_ who affect to translate from all languages, of
     which they are fully as ignorant as Lockhart is of Spanish. I
     am quite ready with the first volume, which might appear by the
     middle of February (the best time in the whole season), and if
     we unite our strength in the second, I think we can produce
     something worthy of fame, for we shall have plenty of matter to
     employ talent upon.--Most truly yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                17 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, BLOOMSBURY, _Jany. 14, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I approve of the prospectus in every respect; it
     is business-like, and there is nothing flashy in it. I do not
     wish to suggest one alteration. I am not idle: I translated
     yesterday from your volume 3 longish _Kæmpe Visers_, among
     which is the 'Death of King Hacon at Kirkwall in Orkney,' after
     his unsuccessful invasion of Scotland. To-day I translated 'The
     Duke's Daughter of Skage,' a noble ballad of 400 lines. When I
     call again I will, with your permission, retake Tullin and
     attack _The Surveyor_. Allow me, my dear Sir, to direct your
     attention to Ölenschlæger's _St. Hems Aftenspil_, which is the
     last in his Digte of 1803. It contains his best lyrics, one or
     two of which I have translated. It might, I think, be contained
     within 70 pages, and I could translate it in 3 weeks. Were we
     to give the whole of it we should gratify Ölenschlæger's wish
     expressed to you, that one of his larger pieces should appear.
     But it is for you to decide entirely on what _is_ or what is
     _not_ to be done. When you see the _foreign_ editor I should
     feel much obliged if you would speak to him about my reviewing
     Tegner, and enquire whether a _good_ article on Welsh poetry
     would be received. I have the advantage of not being a
     Welshman. I would speak the truth, and would give translations
     of some of the best Welsh poetry; and I really believe that my
     translations would not be the worst that have been made from
     the Welsh tongue.--Most truly yours,

                G. BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                17 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, BLOOMSBURY, _Jany. 7, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I send the prospectus[90] for your inspection and
     for the correction of your master hand. I have endeavoured to
     assume a Danish style, I know not whether I have been

     Alter, I pray you, whatever false logic has crept into it, find
     a remedy for its incoherencies, and render it fit for its
     intended purpose. I have had for the two last days a rising
     headache which has almost prevented me doing anything. I sat
     down this morning and translated a hundred lines of the
     _May-day_; it is a fine piece.--Yours most truly, my dear Sir,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _Jany. 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I write this to inform you that I am at No. 7
     Museum St., Bloomsbury. I have been obliged to decamp from
     Russell St. for the cogent reason of an execution having been
     sent into the house, and I thought myself happy in escaping
     with my things. I have got half of the Manuscript from Mr.
     Richard Taylor, but many of the pages must be rewritten owing
     to their being torn, etc. He is printing the prospectus, but a
     proof has not yet been struck off. Send me some as soon as you
     get them.[91] I will send one with a letter to _H. G._--Yours

                G. BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _Jany. 25, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I find that you called at mine, I am sorry that I
     was not at home. I have been to Richard Taylor, and you will
     have the prospectuses this afternoon. I have translated
     Ferroe's 'Worthiness of Virtue' for you, and the two other
     pieces I shall translate this evening, and you shall have them
     all when I come on Wednesday evening. If I can at all assist
     you in anything, pray let me know, and I shall be proud to do
     it.--Yours most truly,

                G. BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _Feby. 20, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--To my great pleasure I perceive that the books
     have all arrived safe. But I find that, instead of an
     Icelandic Grammar, you have lent me an _Essay on the origin of
     the Icelandic Language_, which I here return. Thorlakson's
     Grave-ode is superlatively fine, and I translated it this
     morning, as I breakfasted. I have just finished a translation
     of Baggesen's beautiful poem, and I send it for your
     inspection.--Most sincerely yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.

     _P.S._--When I come we will make the modifications of this
     piece, if you think any are requisite, for I have various
     readings in my mind for every stanza. I wish you a very
     pleasant journey to Cambridge, and hope you will procure some
     names amongst the literati.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _March 9, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I have thought over the Museum matter which we
     were talking about last night, and it appears to me that it
     would be the very thing for me, provided that it could be
     accomplished. I should feel obliged if you would deliberate
     upon the best mode of proceeding, so that when I see you again
     I may have the benefit of your advice.--Yours most sincerely,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To this letter Bowring replied the same day, and his reply is preserved
by Dr. Knapp. He promised to help in the Museum project 'by every sort
of counsel and creation.' 'I should rejoice to see you _nicked_ in the
British Museum,' he concludes.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _Friday Evening, May 21, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I shall be happy to accept your invitation to
     meet Mr. Grundtvig to-morrow morning. As at present no doubt
     seems to be entertained of Prince Leopold's accepting the
     sovereignty of Greece, would you have any objection to write to
     him concerning me? I should be very happy to go to Greece in
     his service. I do not wish to go in a civil or domestic
     capacity, and I have, moreover, no doubt that all such
     situations have been long since filled up; I wish to go in a
     military one, for which I am qualified by birth and early
     habits. You might inform the Prince that I have been for years
     on the Commander-in-Chief's List for a commission, but that I
     have not had sufficient interest to procure an appointment. One
     of my reasons for wishing to reside in Greece is, that the
     mines of Eastern Literature would be acceptable to me. I should
     soon become an adept in Turkish, and would weave and transmit
     to you such an anthology as would gladden your very heart. As
     for _The Songs of Scandinavia_, all the ballads would be ready
     before departure, and as I should take books, I would in a few
     months send you translations of the modern lyric poetry. I hope
     this letter will not displease you. I do not write it from
     _flightiness_, but from thoughtfulness. I am uneasy to find
     myself at four and twenty drifting on the sea of the world, and
     likely to continue so.--Yours most sincerely,

                G. BORROW.

This letter is printed in part by Dr. Knapp, and almost in its entirety
by Mr. Herbert Jenkins. Dr. Knapp has much sound worldly reflection upon
its pathetic reference to 'drifting on the sea of the world.' If only,
he suggests, Borrow had not received that unwise eulogy from Allan
Cunningham about his 'exquisite Danish ballads,' if only he had listened
to Richard Ford's advice--which came too late in any case--'Avoid poetry
and translations of poets'--how much better it would have been. But
Borrow had not the makings in him of a 'successful' man, and we who
enjoy his writings to-day must be contented with the reflection that he
had just the kind of life-experience which gave us what he had to give.
Here Borrow holds his place among the poets--an unhappy race. In any
case the British Museum appointment was not for him, nor the military
career. Had one or other fallen to his lot, we might have had much
literary work of a kind, but certainly not _Lavengro_. To return to the

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM ST., _June 1, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I send you _Hafbur and Signe_ to deposit in the
     Scandinavian Treasury, and I should feel obliged by your doing
     the following things.

     1. Hunting up and lending me your Anglo-Saxon Dictionary as
     soon as possible, for Grundtvig wishes me to assist him in the
     translation of some Anglo-Saxon Proverbs.

     2. When you write to Finn Magnussen to thank him for his
     attention, pray request him to send the _Feeroiska Quida_, or
     popular songs of Ferroe, and also _Broder Run's Historie, or
     the History of Friar Rush_, the book which Thiele mentions in
     his _Folkesagn_.--Yours most sincerely,

                G. BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM STREET, _June 7, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I have looked over Mr. Grundtvig's manuscripts.
     It is a very long affair, and the language is Norman-Saxon. £40
     would not be an extravagant price for a transcript, and so they
     told him at the museum. However, as I am doing nothing
     particular at present, and as I might learn something from
     transcribing it, I would do it for £20. He will call on you
     to-morrow morning, and then if you please you may recommend me.
     The character closely resembles the ancient Irish, so I think
     you can answer for my competency.--Yours most truly,

                G. BORROW.

     _P.S._--Do not lose the original copies of the Danish
     translations which you sent to the _Foreign Quarterly_, for I
     have no duplicates. I think _The Roses_ of Ingemann was sent;
     it is not printed; so if it be not returned, we shall have to
     re-translate it.

To Dr. John Bowring

                7 MUSEUM ST., _Sept. 14, 1830._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I return you the Bohemian books. I am going to
     Norwich for some short time as I am very unwell, and hope that
     cold bathing in October and November may prove of service to
     me. My complaints are, I believe, the offspring of ennui and
     unsettled prospects. I have thoughts of attempting to get into
     the French service, as I should like prodigiously to serve
     under Clausel in the next Bedouin campaign. I shall leave
     London next Sunday and will call some evening to take my leave;
     I cannot come in the morning, as early rising kills me.--Most
     sincerely yours,

                G. BORROW.

To Dr. John Bowring

                WILLOW LANE, NORWICH, _Sept. 11, 1831._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I return you my most sincere thanks for your kind
     letter of the 2nd inst., and though you have not been
     successful in your application to the Belgian authorities in my
     behalf, I know full well that you did your utmost, and am only
     sorry that at my instigation you attempted an impossibility.
     The Belgians seem either not to know or not to care for the
     opinion of the great Cyrus, who gives this advice to his
     captains: 'Take no heed from what countries ye fill up your
     ranks, but seek recruits as ye do horses, not those
     particularly who are of your own country, but those of merit.'
     The Belgians will only have such recruits as are born in
     Belgium, and when we consider the _heroic_ manner in which the
     native Belgian army defended the person of their new sovereign
     in the last conflict with the Dutch, can we blame them for
     their determination? It is rather singular, however, that,
     resolved as they are to be served only by themselves, they
     should have sent for 50,000 Frenchmen to clear their country of
     a handful of Hollanders, who have generally been considered the
     most unwarlike people in Europe, but who, if they had had fair
     play given them, would long ere this time have replanted the
     Orange flag on the towers of Brussels, and made the Belgians
     what they deserve to be--hewers of wood and drawers of water.
     And now, my dear Sir, allow me to reply to a very important
     part of your letter. You ask me whether I wish to purchase a
     commission in the British Service, because in that case you
     would speak to the Secretary at War about me. I must inform
     you, therefore, that my name has been for several years upon
     the list _for the purchase_ of a commission, and I have never
     yet had sufficient interest to procure an appointment. If I can
     do nothing better I shall be very glad to purchase; but I will
     pause two or three months before I call upon you to fulfil your
     kind promise. It is believed that the militias will be embodied
     in order to be sent to that unhappy country Ireland, and,
     provided I can obtain a commission in one of them and they are
     kept in service, it would be better than spending £500 upon one
     in the line. I am acquainted with the colonels of the two
     Norfolk regiments, and I dare say that neither of them would
     have any objection to receive me. If they are not embodied I
     will most certainly apply to you, and you may say when you
     recommend me that, being well grounded in Arabic, and having
     some talent for languages, I might be an acquisition to a corps
     in one of our Eastern colonies. I flatter myself that I could
     do a great deal in the East provided I could once get there,
     either in a civil or military capacity. There is much talk at
     present about translating European books into the two great
     languages, the Arabic and Persian. Now I believe that with my
     enthusiasm for those tongues I could, if resident in the East,
     become in a year or two better acquainted with them than any
     European has been yet, and more capable of executing such a
     task. Bear this in mind, and if, before you hear from me again,
     you should have any opportunity to recommend me as a proper
     person to fill any civil situation in those countries, or to
     attend any expedition thither, I pray you to lay hold of it,
     and no conduct of mine shall ever give you reason to repent of
     it.--I remain, my dear Sir, your most obliged and obedient

                GEORGE BORROW.

     _P.S._--Present my best remembrances to Mrs. Bowring and to
     Edgar, and tell them that they will both be starved. There is
     now a report in the street that twelve corn-stacks are blazing
     within twenty miles of this place. I have lately been wandering
     about Norfolk, and I am sorry to say that the minds of the
     peasantry are in a horrible state of excitement. I have
     repeatedly heard men and women in the harvest-field swear that
     not a grain of the corn they were cutting should be eaten, and
     that they would as lieve be hanged as live. I am afraid all
     this will end in a famine and a rustic war.

Borrow's next letter to Bowring that has been preserved is dated 1835
and was written from Portugal. With that I will deal when we come to
Borrow's travels in the Peninsula. Here it sufficeth to note that during
the years of Borrow's most urgent need he seems to have found a kind
friend if not a very zealous helper in the 'Old Radical' whom he came to
hate so cordially.


[85] _Autobiographical Reflections of Sir John Bowring. With a Brief
Memoir by Lewin B. Bowring_. Henry S. King and Co., London, 1877.

[86] _The Romany Rye_ Appendix, ch. xi.

[87] Kindly placed at my disposal by Mr. Wilfred J. Bowring, Sir John
Bowring's grandson. The rights which I hold through the executors of
George Borrow's stepdaughter, Mrs. MacOubrey, over the Borrow
correspondence enable me to publish in their completeness letters which
three previous biographers, all of whom have handled the correspondence,
have published mainly in fragments.

[88] The manuscript of _The Death of Balder_ came into the hands of Mr.
William Jarrold of Norwich through Mr. Webber of Ipswich, who purchased
a large mass of Borrow manuscripts that were sold at Borrow's death,
most of which were re-purchased by Dr. Knapp. His firm, Jarrold and
Sons, issued _The Death of Balder, from the Danish of Johannes Ewald_,
in 1889.

[89] This and the previous letter are undated, but bear the careful
endorsement of Dr. John Bowring, as he then was, with the date of
receipt, presumably the day _after_ the letters were written.



It is proposed to publish, in Two Volumes Octavo Price to Subscribers
£1, 1s., to Non Subscribers £1, 4s.


Translated by


Dedicated to the King of Denmark, by permission of His Majesty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The First Volume will contain about One Hundred Specimens of the Ancient
Popular Ballads of North-Western Europe, arranged under the heads of
Heroic, Supernatural, Historical, and Domestic Poems.

The Second Volume will represent the Modern School of Danish Poetry,
from the time of Tullin, giving the most remarkable lyrical productions
of Ewald, Ölenschlæger, Baggesen, Ingemann, and many others.'

This four-page leaflet contains two blank pages for lists of
subscribers, who apparently did not come, and the project seems to have
been abandoned.

[91] The prospectus, already quoted, bears the imprint: Printed by
Richard Taylor, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street.



That George Borrow should have become an agent for the Bible Society,
then in the third decade of its flourishing career, has naturally
excited doubts as to his moral honesty. The position was truly a
contrast to an earlier ideal contained in the letter to his Norwich
friend, Roger Kerrison, that we have already given, in which, with all
the zest of a Shelley, he declares that he intends to live in London,
'write plays, poetry, etc., abuse religion, and get myself prosecuted.'
But that was in 1824, and Borrow had suffered great tribulation in the
intervening eight years. He had acquired many languages, wandered far
and written much, all too little of which had found a publisher. There
was plenty of time for his religious outlook to have changed in the
interval, and in any case Borrow was no theologian. The negative outlook
of 'Godless Billy Taylor,' and the positive outlook of certain
Evangelical friends with whom he was now on visiting terms, were of
small account compared with the imperative need of making a living--and
then there was the passionate longing of his nature for a wider
sphere--for travelling activity which should not be dependent alone upon
the vagabond's crust. What matter if, as Harriet Martineau--most
generous and also most malicious of women, with much kinship with Borrow
in temperament--said, that his appearance before the public as a devout
agent of the Bible Society excited a 'burst of laughter from all who
remembered the old Norwich days'; what matter if another 'scribbling
woman,' as Carlyle called such strident female writers as were in vogue
in mid-Victorian days--Frances Power Cobbe--thought him 'insincere';
these were unable to comprehend the abnormal heart of Borrow, so
entirely at one with Goethe in _Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre_:

    Bleibe nicht am Boden heften,
    Frisch gewagt und frisch hinaus!
    Kopf und Arm, mit heitern Kraften,
    Ueberall sind sie zu Haus;
    Wo wir uns der Sonne freuen,
    Sind wir jede Sorge los;
    Dass wir uns in ihr zerstreuen,
    Darum ist die Welt so gross.[92]

Here was Borrow's opportunity indeed. Verily I believe that it would
have been the same had it been a society for the propagation of the
writings of Defoe among the Persians. With what zest would Borrow have
undertaken to translate _Moll Flanders_ and _Captain Singleton_ into the
languages of Hafiz and Omar! But the Bible Society was ready to his
hand, and Borrow did nothing by halves. A good hater and a staunch
friend, he was loyal to the Bible Society in no half-hearted way, and
not the most pronounced quarrel with forces obviously quite out of tune
with his nature led to any real slackening of that loyalty. In the end a
portion of his property went to swell the Bible Society's funds.[93]

When Borrow became one of its servants, the Bible Society was only in
its third decade. It was founded in the year 1804, and had the names of
William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp, and Zachary Macaulay on its first
committee. To circulate the authorised version of the Bible without note
or comment was the first ideal that these worthy men set before them;
never to the entire satisfaction of the great printing organisations,
which already had a considerable financial interest in such a
circulation. For long years the words 'Sold under cost price' upon the
Bibles of the Society excited mingled feelings among those interested in
the book trade[94]. The Society's first idea was limited to Bibles in
the English tongue. This was speedily modified. A Bible Society was set
up in Nuremberg to which money was granted by the parent organisation. A
Bible in the Welsh language was circulated broadcast through the
Principality, and so the movement grew. From the first it had one of its
principal centres in Norwich, where Joseph John Gurney's house was open
to its committee, and at its annual gatherings at Earlham his sister
Elizabeth Fry took a leading part, while Wilberforce, Charles Simeon,
the famous preacher, and Legh Richmond, whose _Dairyman's Daughter_
Borrow failed to appreciate, were of the company. 'Uncles Buxton and
Cunningham are here,' we find one of Joseph John Gurney's daughters
writing in describing a Bible Society gathering. This was John
Cunningham, rector of Harrow, and it was his brother who helped Borrow
to his position in connection with the Society, as we shall see. At the
moment of these early meetings Borrow is but a boy, meeting Joseph
Gurney on the banks of the river near Earlham, and listening to his
discourse upon angling. The work of the Bible Society in Russia may be
said to have commenced when one John Paterson of Glasgow, who had been a
missionary of the Congregational body, went to St. Petersburg during
those critical months of 1812 that Napoleon was marching into Russia.
Paterson indeed, William Canton tells us,[95] was 'one of the last to
behold the old Tartar wall and high brick towers' and other splendours
of the Moscow which in a month or two were to be consumed by the flames.
Paterson was back again in St. Petersburg before the French were at the
gates of Moscow, and it is noteworthy that while Moscow was burning and
the Czar was on his way to join his army, this remarkable Scot was
submitting to Prince Galitzin a plan for a Bible Society in St.
Petersburg, and a memorial to the Czar thereon:

     The plan and memorial were examined by the Czar on the 18th (of
     December); with a stroke of his pen he gave his sanction--'So
     be it, Alexander'; and as he wrote, the last tattered remnants
     of the Grand Army struggled across the ice of the Niemen.[96]

The Society was formed in January 1813, and when the Czar returned to
St. Petersburg in 1815, after the shattering of Napoleon's power, he
authorised a new translation of the Bible into modern Russian. From
Russia it was not a far cry, where the spirit of evangelisation held
sway, to Manchuria and to China. To these remote lands the Bible Society
desired to send its literature. In 1822 the gospel of St. Matthew was
printed in St. Petersburg in Manchu. Ten years later the type of the
whole New Testament in that language was lying in the Russian capital.
'All that was required was a Manchu scholar to see the work through the
press'.[97] Here came the chance for Borrow. At this period there
resided at Oulton Hall, Suffolk, but a few miles from Norwich, a family
of the name of Skepper, Edward and Anne his wife, with their two
children, Breame and Mary. Mary married in 1817 one Henry Clarke, a
lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He died a few months afterwards of
consumption. Of this marriage there was a posthumous child, Henrietta
Mary, born but two months after her father's death. Mary Clarke, as she
now was, threw herself with zest into all the religious enthusiasms of
the locality, and the Rev. Francis Cunningham, Vicar of St. Margaret's,
Lowestoft, was one of her friends. Borrow had met Mary Clarke on one of
his visits to Lowestoft, and she had doubtless been impressed with his
fine presence, to say nothing of the intelligence and varied learning of
the young man. The following note, the first communication I can find
from Borrow to his future wife, indicates how matters stood at the time:

To Mrs. Clarke

                ST. GILES, NORWICH, 22 _October 1832._

     DEAR MADAM,--According to promise I transmit you a piece of
     Oriental writing, namely the tale of Blue Beard, translated
     into Turkish by myself. I wish it were in my power to send you
     something more worthy of your acceptance, but I hope you will
     not disdain the gift, insignificant though it be. Desiring to
     be kindly remembered to Mr. and Mrs. Skepper and the remainder
     of the family,--I remain, dear Madam, your most obedient humble

                GEORGE BORROW.

That Borrow owed his introduction to Mr. Cunningham to Mrs. Clarke is
clear, although Cunningham, in his letter to the Bible Society urging
the claims of Borrow, refers to the fact that a 'young farmer' in the
neighbourhood had introduced him. This was probably her brother, Breame
Skepper. Dr. Knapp was of the opinion that Joseph John Gurney obtained
Borrow his appointment, but the recently published correspondence of
Borrow with the Bible Society makes it clear that Cunningham wrote--on
27th December 1832--recommending Borrow to the secretary, the Rev.
Andrew Brandram. How little he knew of Borrow is indicated by the fact
that he referred to him as 'independent in circumstances.' Brandram told
Caroline Fox many years afterwards that Gurney had effected the
introduction, but this was merely a lapse of memory. In fact we find
Borrow asking to be allowed to meet Gurney before his departure. In any
case he has himself told us, in one of the brief biographies of himself
that he wrote, that he promptly walked to London, covering the whole
distance of 112 miles in twenty-seven hours, and that his expenses
amounted to 5-1/2d. laid out in a pint of ale, a half-pint of milk, a
roll of bread, and two apples. He reached London in the early morning,
called at the offices of the Bible Society in Earl Street, and was
kindly received by Andrew Brandram and Joseph Jowett, the two
secretaries. He was asked if he would care to learn Manchu, and go to
St. Petersburg. He was given six months for the task, and doubtless also
some money on account. He returned to Norwich more luxuriously--by mail
coach. In June 1833 we find a letter from Borrow to Jowett, dated from
Willow Lane, Norwich, and commencing, 'I have mastered Manchu, and I
should feel obliged by your informing the committee of the fact, and
also my excellent friend, Mr. Brandram.' A long reply to this by Jowett
is among my Borrow Papers, but the Bible Society clearly kept copies of
its letters, and a portion of this one has been printed.[98] It shows
that Borrow went through much heart-burning before his destiny was
finally settled. At last he was again invited to London, and found
himself as one of two candidates for the privilege of going to Russia.
The examination consisted of a Manchu hymn, of which Borrow's version
seems to have proved the more acceptable, and he afterwards printed it
in his _Targum_. Finally, on the 5th of July 1833, Borrow received a
letter from Jowett offering him the appointment, with a salary of £200 a
year and expenses. The letter contained his first lesson in the then
unaccustomed discipline of the Evangelical vocabulary. Borrow had spoken
of the prospect of becoming 'useful to the Deity, to man, and to

'Doubtless you meant,' commented Jowett, 'the prospect of glorifying
God,' and Jowett frankly tells him that his tone of confidence in
speaking of himself 'had alarmed some of the excellent members of our
committee.' Borrow adapted himself at once, and is congratulated by
Jowett in a later communication upon the 'truly Christian' spirit of his
next letter.

By an interesting coincidence there was living in Norwich at the moment
when Borrow was about to leave it, a man who had long identified himself
with good causes in Russia, and had lived in that country for a
considerable period of his life. John Venning[99] was born in Totnes in
1776, and he is buried in the Rosary Cemetery at Norwich, where he died
in 1858, after twenty-eight years' residence in that city. He started
for St. Petersburg four years after John Howard had died, ostensibly on
behalf of the commercial house with which he was associated, but with
the intention of carrying on the work of that great man in prison
reform. Alexander I. was on the throne, and he made Venning his friend,
frequently conversing with him upon religious subjects. He became the
treasurer of a society for the humanising of Russian prisons; but when
Nicholas became Czar in 1825 Venning's work became more difficult,
although the Emperor was sympathetic. Venning returned to England in
1830, and thus opportunely, in 1833, was able to give his
fellow-townsman letters of introduction to Prince Galitzin and other
Russian notables, so that Borrow was able to set forth under the
happiest auspices--with an entire change of conditions from those eight
years of semi-starvation that he was now to leave behind him for ever.
Borrow left London for St. Petersburg on 31st July 1833, not forgetting
to pay his mother before he left the £17 he had had to borrow during his
time of stress. Always devoted to his mother, Borrow sent her sums of
money at intervals from the moment the power of earning came to him. We
shall never know, we can only surmise something of the self-sacrificing
devotion of that mother during the years in which Borrow had failed to
find remunerative work. Wherever he wandered there had always been a
home in the Willow Lane cottage. It is probable that much the greater
part of the period of his eight years of penury was spent under her
roof. Yet we may be sure that the good mother never once reproached her
son. She had just that touch of idealism in her character that made for
faith and hope. In any case never more was Borrow to suffer penury, or
to be a burden on his mother. Henceforth she was to be his devoted care
to her dying day.



Keep not standing, fixed and rooted,
  Briskly venture, briskly roam;
Head and hand, where'er thou foot it,
  And stout heart, are still at home.
In each land the sun does visit;
  We are gay whate'er betide.
To give room for wandering is it,
  That the world was made so wide.

--Carlyle's translation.

[93] Through the will of his stepdaughter, Henrietta MacOubrey.

[94] Although the Bible Society then as now purchased all the sheets of
its Bibles from the three authorised sources of production--the King's
printers who hold a patent, and the universities of Oxford and
Cambridge, which hold licences to print--these exclusive privileges
being granted in order that the text of the Bible should be maintained
with accuracy.

[95] Let me here acknowledge with gratitude my indebtedness to that fine
work _The History of the British Foreign Bible Society_ (1904-10,
Murray), by William Canton, which is worthy of the accomplished author
of _The Invisible Playmate_. An earlier history of the Society, by the
Rev. George Browne, published in 1859, has necessarily been superseded
by Mr. Canton's book.

[96] Canton's _History of the Bible Society_, vol. i. 195.

[97] _Ibid._, vol. ii. 127.

[98] In _Letters from George Borrow to the Bible Society_ (Hodder and
Stoughton), 1911.

[99] See _Memoirs of John Venning, Esq., formerly of St. Petersburgh and
late of Norwich. With Numerous Notices from his Manuscripts relative to
the Imperial Family of Russia_. By Thulia S. Henderson. London: Knight
and Son, 1862. Borrow's name is not once mentioned, but there is a
slight reference to him on pages 148 and 149.



Borrow travelled by way of Hamburg and Lübeck to Travemünde, whence he
went by sea to St. Petersburg, where he arrived on the twentieth of
August 1833. He was back in London in September 1835, and thus it will
be seen that he spent two years in Russia. After the hard life he had
led, everything was now rose-coloured. 'Petersburg is the finest city in
the world,' he wrote to Mr. Jowett; 'neither London nor Paris nor any
other European capital which I have visited has sufficient pretensions
to enter into comparison with it in respect to beauty and grandeur.' But
the striking thing about Borrow in these early years was his capacity
for making friends. He had not been a week in St. Petersburg before he
had gained the regard of one, William Glen, who, in 1825, had been
engaged by the Bible Society to translate the Old Testament into
Persian. The clever Scot, of whom Borrow was informed by a competent
judge that he was 'a Persian scholar of the first water,' was probably
too heretical for the Society which recalled him, much to his chagrin.
'He is a very learned man, but of very simple and unassuming manners,'
wrote Borrow to Jowett.[100] His version of the _Psalms_ appeared in
1830, and of _Proverbs_ in 1831. Thus he was going home in despair, but
seems to have had good talk on the way with Borrow in St. Petersburg. In
1845 his complete Old Testament in Persian appeared in Edinburgh. This
William Glen has been confused with another William Glen, a law student,
who taught Carlyle Greek, but they had nothing in common. Borrow and
Carlyle could not possibly have had friends in common. Borrow was drawn
towards this William Glen by his enthusiasm for the Persian language.
But Glen departed out of his life very quickly. Hasfeld, who entered it
about the same time, was to stay longer. Hasfeld was a Dane, now
thirty-three years of age, who, after a period in the Foreign Office at
Copenhagen, had come to St. Petersburg as an interpreter to the Danish
Legation, but made quite a good income as a professor of European
languages in cadet schools and elsewhere. The English language and
literature would seem to have been his favourite topic. His friendship
for Borrow was a great factor in Borrow's life in Russia and elsewhere.
If Borrow's letters to Hasfeld should ever turn up, they will prove the
best that he wrote. Hasfeld's letters to Borrow were preserved by him.
Three of them are in my possession. Others were secured by Dr. Knapp,
who made far too little use of them. They are all written in Danish on
foreign notepaper: flowery, grandiloquent productions we may admit, but
if we may judge a man by his correspondents, we have a revelation of a
more human Borrow than the correspondence with the friends at Earl
Street reveals:

                ST. PETERSBURG, _6/18 November 1836._

     MY DEAR FRIEND,--Much water has run through the Neva since I
     last wrote to you, my last letter was dated 5/17th April; the
     last letter I received from you was dated Madrid, 23rd May, and
     I now see with regret that it is still unanswered; it is,
     however, a good thing that I have not written as often to you
     as I have thought about you, for otherwise you would have
     received a couple of letters daily, because the sun never sets
     without you, my lean friend, entering into my imagination. I
     received the Spanish letter a day or two before I left for
     Stockholm, and it made the journey with me, for it was in my
     mind to send you an epistle from Svea's capital, but there were
     so many petty hindrances that I was nearly forgetting myself,
     let alone correspondence. I lived in Stockholm as if each day
     were to be my last, swam in champagne, or rested in girls'
     embraces. You doubtless blush for me; you may do so, but don't
     think that that conviction will murder my almost shameless
     candour, the only virtue which I possess, in a superfluous
     degree. In Sweden I tried to be lovable, and succeeded, to the
     astonishment of myself and everybody else. I reaped the reward
     on the most beautiful lips, which only too often had to
     complain that the fascinating Dane was faithless like the foam
     of the sea and the ice of spring. Every wrinkle which
     seriousness had impressed on my face vanished in joy and
     smiles; my frozen heart melted and pulsed with the rapid beat
     of gladness; in short, I was not recognisable. Now I have come
     back to my old wrinkles, and make sacrifice again on the altar
     of friendship, and when the incense, this letter, reaches you,
     then prove to me your pleasure, wherever you may be, and let an
     echo of friendship's voice resound from Granada's Alhambra or
     Sahara's deserts. But I know that you, good soul, will write
     and give me great pleasure by informing me that you are happy
     and well; when I get a letter from you my heart rejoices, and I
     feel as if I were happy, and that is what happiness consists
     of. Therefore, let your soldierlike letters march promptly to
     their place of arms--paper--and move in close columns to St.
     Petersburg, where they will find warm winter quarters. I have
     received a letter from my correspondent in London, Mr. Edward
     Thomas Allan, No. 11 North Audley St.; he informs me that my
     manuscript has been promenading about, calling on publishers
     without having been well received; some of them would not even
     look at it, because it smelt of Russian leather; others kept it
     for three or six weeks and sent it back with 'Thanks for the
     loan.' They probably used it to get rid of the moth out of
     their old clothes. It first went to Longman and Co.'s,
     Paternoster Row; Bull of Hollis St.; Saunders and Otley,
     Conduit St.; John Murray of Albemarle St., who kept it for
     three weeks; and finally it went to Bentley of New Burlington
     St., who kept it for SIX weeks and returned it; now it is to
     pay a visit to a Mr. Colburn, and if he won't have the
     abandoned child, I will myself care for it. If this finds you
     in London, which is quite possible, see whether you can do
     anything for me in this matter. Thank God, I shall not buy
     bread with the shillings I perhaps may get for a work which has
     cost me seventy nights, for I cannot work during the day. In
     _The Athenænum_,[101] No. 436, issued on the 3rd March this
     year, you will find an article which I wrote, and in which you
     are referred to; in the same paper you will also find an
     extract from my translation. I hope that article will meet with
     your approbation. Ivan Semionewitch sends his kind regards to
     you. I dare not write any more, for then I should make the
     letter a double one, and it may perhaps go after you to the
     continent; if it reaches you in England, write AT ONCE to your
     sincere friend,

                J. P. HASFELD.

     My address is, Stieglitz and Co., St. Petersburg.

                ST. PETERSBURG, _9th/21st July 1842._

     DEAR FRIEND,--I do not know how I shall begin, for you have
     been a long time without any news from me, and the fault is
     mine, for the last letter was from you; as a matter of fact, I
     did produce a long letter for you last year in September, but
     you did not get it, because it was too long to send by post and
     I had no other opportunity, so that, as I am almost tired of
     the letter, you shall, nevertheless, get it one day, for
     perhaps you will find something interesting in it; I cannot do
     so, for I never like to read over my own letters. Six days ago
     I commenced my old hermit life; my sisters left on the 3rd/15th
     July, and are now, with God's help, in Denmark. They left with
     the French steamer _Amsterdam_, and had two Russian ladies with
     them, who are to spend a few months with us and visit the sea
     watering-places. These ladies are the Misses Koladkin, and have
     learnt English from me, and became my sisters' friends as soon
     as they could understand each other. My sisters have also made
     such good progress in your language that they would be able to
     arouse your astonishment. They read and understand everything
     in English, and thank you very much for the pleasure you gave
     them with your 'Targum'; they know how to appreciate 'King
     Christian stood by the high mast,' and everything which you
     have translated of languages with which they are acquainted.
     They have not had more than sixty real lessons in English.
     After they had taken ten lessons, I began, to their great
     despair, to speak English, and only gave them a Danish
     translation when it was absolutely necessary. The result was
     that they became so accustomed to English that it scarcely ever
     occurs to them to speak Danish together; when one cannot get
     away from me one must learn from me. The brothers and sisters
     remaining behind are now also to go to school when they get
     home, for they have recognised how pleasant it is to speak a
     language which servants and those around one do not understand.
     During all the winter my dearest thought was how, this summer,
     I was going to visit my long, good friend, who was previously
     lean and who is now fat, and how I should let him fatten me a
     little, so as to be able to withstand better the long winter in
     Russia; I would then in the autumn, like the bears, go into my
     winter lair fat and sleek, and of all these romantic thoughts
     none has materialised, but I have always had the joy of
     thinking them and of continuing them; I can feel that I smile
     when such ideas run through my mind. I am convinced that if I
     had nothing else to do than to employ my mind with pleasant
     thoughts, I should become fat on thoughts alone. The principal
     reason why this real pleasure journey had to be postponed, was
     that my eldest sister, Hanna, became ill about Easter, and it
     was not until the end of June that she was well enough to
     travel. I will not speak about the confusion which a sick lady
     can cause in a bachelor's house, occasionally I almost lost my
     patience. For the amount of roubles which that illness cost I
     could very well have travelled to America and back again to St.
     Petersburg; I have, however, the consolation in my reasonable
     trouble that the money which the doctor and chemist have
     received was well spent. The lady got about again after she had
     caused me and Augusta just as much pain, if not more, than she
     herself suffered. Perhaps you know how amiable people are when
     they suffer from liver trouble; I hope you may never get it. I
     am not anxious to have it either, for you may do what the devil
     you like for such persons, and even then they are not
     satisfied. We have had great festivals here by reason of the
     Emperor's marriage; I did not move a step to see the pageantry;
     moreover, it is difficult to find anything fresh in it which
     would afford me enjoyment; I have seen illuminations and
     fireworks, the only attractive thing there was must have been
     the King of Prussia; but as I do not know that good man, I have
     not very great interest in him either; nor, so I am told, did
     he ask for me, and he went away without troubling himself in
     the slightest about me; it was a good thing that I did not
     bother him.

                J. P. H.

                ST. PETERSBURG, _26th April/8th May 1858._

     DEAR FRIEND,--I thank you for your friendly letter of the 12th
     April, and also for the invitation to visit you. I am thinking
     of leaving Russia soon, perhaps permanently, for twenty-seven
     years are enough of this climate. It is as yet undecided when I
     leave, for it depends on business matters which must be
     settled, but I hope it will be soon. What I shall do I do not
     yet know either, but I shall have enough to live on; perhaps I
     shall settle down in Denmark. It is very probable that I shall
     come to London in the summer, and then I shall soon be at
     Yarmouth with you, my old true friend. It was a good thing that
     you at last wrote, for it would have been too bad to extend
     your disinclination to write letters even to me. The last
     period one stays in a country is strange, and I have many
     persons whom I have to separate from. If you want anything done
     in Russia, let me know promptly; when I am in movement I will
     write, so that you may know where I am, and what has become of
     me. I have been ill nearly all the winter, but now feel daily
     better, and when I get on the water I shall soon be well. We
     have already had hot and thundery weather, but it has now
     become cool again. I have already sold the greater part of my
     furniture, and am living in furnished apartments which cost me
     seventy roubles per month; I shall soon be tired of that. I am
     expecting a letter from Denmark which will settle matters, and
     then I can get ready and spread my wings to get out into the
     world, for this is not the world, but Russia. I see you have
     changed houses, for last year you lived at No. 37. With kindest
     regards to your dear ones, I am, dear friend, yours sincerely,

                JOHN P. HASFELD.[102]


[100] Darlow's _George Borrow's Letters to the Bible Society_, page 76.
There are twenty letters written by Borrow from Russia to the Bible
Society, contained in T. H. Darlow's _Letters of George Borrow to the
British and Foreign Bible Society_, several of which, in the original
manuscripts, are in my possession. There are as many also in Knapp's
_Life of Borrow_, and these last are far more interesting, being
addressed to his mother and other friends. I have several other letters
concerned with Borrow's Bible Society work in Russia, but they are not
inspiring. Borrow's correspondence with Hasfeld, of which Knapp gives us
glimpses, is more bracing, and the two or three letters from that
admirable Dane that are in my collection I am glad to print here.

[101] In the _Athenæum_ for March 5, 1836, there is a short, interesting
letter, dated from St. Petersburg, signed J. P. H. This was obviously
written by Hasfeld. 'Here your journal is found in every well furnished
library,' he writes, 'and yet not a passing word do you ever bestow upon
us,' and then, to the extent of nearly five columns, he discourses upon
the present state of Russian literature, and has very much to say about
his friend George Borrow:

'Will it be thought ultra-barbarian if I mention that Mr. George Borrow
concluded, in the autumn, the publication of the New Testament in the
Mandchou language? Remember, if you please, that he was sent here for
the express purpose by the British and Foreign Bible Society of London.
The translation was made for the Society by Mr. Lipóftsof, a gentleman
in the service of the Russian Department of Foreign Affairs, who has
spent the greater part of an industrious life in Peking and the East. I
can only say that it is a beautiful edition of an Oriental work, that it
is printed with great care on a fine imitation of Chinese paper made on
purpose. At the outset, Mr. Borrow spent weeks and months in the
printing-office to make the compositors acquainted with the intricate
Mandchou types, and that, as for the contents, I am assured by
well-informed persons, that this translation is remarkable for the
correctness and fidelity with which it has been executed.'

Then Hasfeld goes on to describe Borrow's small volume, _Targum_: 'The
exquisite delicacy with which he has caught and rendered the beauties of
his well-chosen originals,' he says, 'is a proof of his learning and
genius. The work is a pearl in literature, and, like pearls, it derives
value from its scarcity, for the whole edition was limited to about a
hundred copies.' Then Hasfeld gives two poems from the book, which
really justify his eulogy, for the poetic quality of _Targum_ has not
had justice done to it by Borrow's later critics.

[102] The name is frequently spelt 'Hasfeldt,' but I have followed the
spelling not only of Hasfeld's signature in his letters in my
possession, but also of the printed addressed envelope which he was in
the habit of forwarding to his friends in his letters.



The Bible Society wanted the Bible to be set up in the Manchu language,
the official language of the Chinese Court and Government. A Russian
scholar named Lipóftsof, who had spent twenty years in China, undertook
in 1821 to translate the New Testament into Manchu for £560. Lipóftsof
had done his work in 1826, and had sent two manuscript copies to London.
In 1832 the Rev. William Swan of the London Missionary Society in
passing through St. Petersburg discovered a transcript of a large part
of the Old and New Testament in Manchu, made by one Pierot, a French
Jesuit, many years before. This transcript was unavailable, but a second
was soon afterwards forthcoming for free publication if a qualified
Manchu scholar could be found to see it through the Press. Mr. Swan's
communication of these facts to the Bible Society in London gave Borrow
his opportunity. It was his task to find the printers, buy the paper,
and hire the qualified compositors for setting the type. It must be
admitted Borrow worked hard for his £200 a year. First he had to ask the
diplomatists for permission from the Russian Government, not now so
friendly to British Missionary zeal. The Russian Bible Society had been
suppressed in 1826. He succeeded here. Then he had to continue his
studies in the Manchu language. He had written from Norwich to Mr.
Jowett on 9th June 1833, 'I have mastered Manchu,' but on 20th January
1834 we find him writing to the same correspondent: 'I pay about six
shillings, English, for each lesson, which I grudge not, for the perfect
acquirement of Manchu is one of my most ardent wishes.'[103] Then he
found the printers--a German firm, Schultz and Beneze--who probably
printed the two little books of Borrow's own for him as a 'make weight.'
He purchased paper for his Manchu translation with an ability that would
have done credit to a modern newspaper manager. Every detail of these
transactions is given in his letters to the Bible Society, and one
cannot but be amused at Borrow's explanation to the Reverend Secretary
of the little subterfuges by which he proposed to 'best' the godless for
the benefit of the godly:

     Knowing but too well that it is the general opinion of the
     people of this country that Englishmen are made of gold, and
     that it is only necessary to ask the most extravagant price for
     any article in order to obtain it, I told no person, to whom I
     applied, who I was, or of what country; and I believe I was
     supposed to be a German.[104]

Then came the composing or setting up of the type of the book. When
Borrow was called to account by his London employers, who were not sure
whether he was wasting time, he replied: 'I have been working in the
printing-office, as a common compositor, between ten and thirteen hours
every day.' In another letter Borrow records further difficulties with
the printers after the composition had been effected. Several of the
working printers, it appears, 'went away in disgust,' Then he adds:

     I was resolved 'to do or die,' and, instead of distressing and
     perplexing the Committee with complaints, to write nothing
     until I could write something perfectly satisfactory, as I now
     can; and to bring about that result I have spared neither
     myself nor my own money. I have toiled in a close
     printing-office the whole day, during ninety degrees of heat,
     for the purpose of setting an example, and have bribed people
     to work whom nothing but bribes would induce so to do. I am
     obliged to say all this in self-justification. No member of the
     Bible Society would ever have heard a syllable respecting what
     I have undergone but for the question, 'What has Mr. Borrow
     been about?'[105]

It is not my intention to add materially to the letters of Borrow from
Russia and from Spain that have already been published, although many
are in my possession. They reveal an aspect of the life of Borrow that
has been amply dealt with by other biographers, and it is an aspect that
interests me but little. Here, however, is one hitherto unpublished
letter that throws much light upon Borrow's work at this time:

To the Rev. Andrew Brandram

                ST. PETERSBURG, _18th Oct. 1833._

     REVEREND SIR,--Supposing that you will not be displeased to
     hear how I am proceeding, I have taken the liberty to send a
     few lines by a friend[106] who is leaving Russia for England.
     Since my arrival in Petersburg I have been occupied eight hours
     every day in transcribing a Manchu manuscript of the Old
     Testament belonging to Baron Schilling, and I am happy to be
     able to say that I have just completed the last of it, the Rev.
     Mr. Swan, the Scottish missionary, having before my arrival
     copied the previous part. Mr. Swan departs to his mission in
     Siberia in about two months, during most part of which time I
     shall be engaged in collating our transcripts with the
     original. It is a great blessing that the Bible Society has now
     prepared the whole of the Sacred Scriptures in Manchu, which
     will doubtless, when printed, prove of incalculable benefit to
     tens of millions who have hitherto been ignorant of the will of
     God, putting their trust in idols of wood and stone instead of
     in a crucified Saviour. I am sorry to say that this country in
     respect to religion is in a state almost as lamentable as the
     darkest regions of the East, and the blame of this rests
     entirely upon the Greek hierarchy, who discountenance all
     attempts to the spiritual improvement of the people, who, poor
     things, are exceedingly willing to receive instruction, and,
     notwithstanding the scantiness of their means in general for
     the most part, eagerly buy the tracts which a few pious English
     Christians cause to be printed and hawked in the neighbourhood.
     But no one is better aware, Sir, than yourself that without the
     Scriptures men can never be brought to a true sense of their
     fallen and miserable state, and of the proper means to be
     employed to free themselves from the thraldom of Satan. The
     last few copies which remained of the New Testament in Russian
     were purchased and distributed a few days ago, and it is
     lamentable to be compelled to state that at the present there
     appears no probability of another edition being permitted in
     the modern language. It is true that there are near twenty
     thousand copies of the Sclavonic bible in the shop which is
     entrusted with the sale of the books of the late Russian Bible
     Society, but the Sclavonian translation is upwards of a
     thousand years old, having been made in the eighth century, and
     differs from the dialect spoken at present in Russia as much as
     the old Saxon does from the modern English. Therefore it cannot
     be of the slightest utility to any but the learned, that is, to
     about ten individuals in one thousand. I hope and trust that
     the Almighty will see fit to open some door for the
     illumination of this country, for it is not to be wondered if
     vice and crime be very prevalent here when the people are
     ignorant of the commandments of God. Is it to be wondered that
     the people follow their every day pursuits on the Sabbath when
     they know not the unlawfulness of so doing? Is it to be
     wondered that they steal when only in dread of the laws of the
     country, and are not deterred by the voice of conscience which
     only exists in a few. This accounts for their profanation of
     their Sabbath, their proneness to theft, etc. It is only
     surprising that so much goodness is to be found in their nature
     as is the case, for they are mild, polite, and obliging, and in
     most of their faces is an expression of great kindness and
     benignity. I find that the slight knowledge which I possess of
     the Russian tongue is of the utmost service to me here, for the
     common opinion in England that only French and German are
     spoken by persons of any respectability in Petersburg is a
     great and injurious error. The nobility, it is true, for the
     most part speak French when necessity obliges them, that is,
     when in company with foreigners who are ignorant of Russian,
     but the affairs of most people who arrive in Petersburg do not
     lie among the nobility, therefore a knowledge of the language
     of the country, unless you associate solely with your own
     countrymen, is indispensable. The servants speak no language
     but their native tongue, and also nine out of ten of the middle
     classes of Russians. I might as well address Mr. Lipóftsof, who
     is to be my coadjutor in the edition of the New Testament (in
     Manchu) in Hebrew as in either French or German, for though he
     can read the first a little he cannot speak a word of it or
     understand when spoken. I will now conclude by wishing you all
     possible happiness. I have the honour to be, etc.,

                GEORGE BORROW.

When the work was done at so great a cost of money,[107] and of energy
and enthusiasm on the part of George Borrow, it was found that the books
were useless. Most of these New Testaments were afterwards sent out to
China, and copies distributed by the missionaries there as opportunities
offered. It was found, however, that the Manchus in China were able to
read Chinese, preferring it to their own language, which indeed had
become almost confined to official use.[108] In the year 1859 editions
of _St. Matthew_ and _St. Mark_ were published in Manchu and Chinese
side by side, the Manchu text being a reprint of that edited by Borrow,
and these books are still in use in Chinese Turkestan. But Borrow had
here to suffer one of the many disappointments of his life. If not
actually a gypsy he had all a gypsy's love of wandering. No impartial
reader of the innumerable letters of this period can possibly claim that
there was in Borrow any of the proselytising zeal or evangelical fervour
which wins for the names of Henry Martyn and of David Livingstone so
much honour and sympathy even among the least zealous. At the best
Borrow's zeal for religion was of the order of Dr. Keate, the famous
headmaster of Eton--'Blessed are the pure in heart ... if you are not
pure in heart, by God, I'll flog you!' Borrow had got his New Testaments
printed, and he wanted to distribute them because he wished to see still
more of the world, and had no lack of courage to carry out any well
defined scheme of the organisation which was employing him. Borrow had
thrown out constant hints in his letters home. People had suggested to
him, he said, that he was printing Testaments for which he would never
find readers. If you wish for readers, they had said to him, 'you must
seek them among the natives of Pekin and the fierce hordes of desert
Tartary.' And it was this last most courageous thing that Borrow
proposed. Let him, he said to Mr. Jowett, fix his headquarters at
Kiachta upon the northern frontier of China. The Society should have an
agent there:

     I am a person of few words, and will therefore state without
     circumlocution that I am willing to become that agent. I speak
     Russ, Manchu, and the Tartar or broken Turkish of the Russian
     steppes, and have also some knowledge of Chinese, which I
     might easily improve at Kiachta, half of the inhabitants of
     which town are Chinamen. I am therefore not altogether
     unqualified for such an adventure.[109]

The Bible Committee considered this and other plans through the
intervening months, and it seems clear that at the end they would have
sanctioned some form of missionary work for Borrow in the Chinese
Empire; but on 1st June 1835 he wrote to say that the Russian
Government, solicitous of maintaining good relations with China, would
not grant him a passport across Siberia except on the condition that he
carried not one single Manchu Bible thither.[110] And so Borrow's dreams
were left unfulfilled. He was never to see China or the farther East,
although, because he was a dreamer and like his hero, Defoe, a bit of a
liar, he often said he had. In September 1835 he was back in England
awaiting in his mother's home in Norwich further commissions from his
friends of the Bible Society.

       *       *       *       *       *

Work on the Manchu New Testament did not entirely absorb Borrow's
activities in St. Petersburg. He seems to have made a proposition to
another organisation, as the following letter indicates. The proposal
does not appear to have borne any fruit:

                NO. 4 EXETER HALL, LONDON, _January 16th, 1835._

     SIR,--Your letters dated July and November 17, 1834, and
     addressed to the Rev. F. Cunningham, have been laid before the
     Committee of the Prayer Book and Homily Society, who have
     agreed to print the translation of the first three Homilies
     into the Russian language at St. Petersburg, under the
     direction of Mr. and Mrs. Biller, so soon as they shall have
     caused the translation to undergo a thorough revision, and
     shall have certified the same to this Society. I write by this
     post to Mrs. Biller on the subject. In respect to the second
     Homily in Manchu, if we rightly understand your statement, an
     edition of five hundred copies may be sent forth, the whole
     expense of which, including paper and printing, will amount to
     about £12. If we are correct in this the Committee are willing
     to bear the expense of five hundred copies, by way of trial,
     their wish being this, viz.: that printed copies should be put
     into the hands of the most competent persons, who shall be
     invited to offer such remarks on the translation as shall seem
     desirable; especially that Dr. Morrison of Canton should be
     requested to submit copies to the inspection of Manchu scholars
     as he shall think fit. When the translation has been thoroughly
     revised the Committee will consider the propriety of printing a
     larger edition. They think that the plan of submitting copies
     in letters of gold to the inspection of the highest personages
     in China should probably be deferred till the translation has
     been thus revised. We hope that this resolution will be
     satisfactory to you; but the Committee, not wishing to
     prescribe a narrower limit than such as is strictly necessary,
     have directed me to say, that should the expense of an edition
     of five hundred copies of the Homily in Manchu exceed £12, they
     will still be willing to meet it, but not beyond the sum of

     Should you print this edition be pleased to furnish us with
     twenty-five copies, and send twenty-five copies at the least to
     Rev. Dr. Morrison, at Canton, if you have the means of doing
     so; if not, we should wish to receive fifty copies, that _we_
     may send twenty-five to Canton. In this case you will be at
     liberty to draw a bill upon us for the money, within the limits
     specified above, in such manner as is most convenient. Possibly
     Mr. and Mrs. Biller may be able to assist you in this matter.
     Believe me, dear Sir, yours most sincerely,

                C. R. PRITCHETT.

     Mr. G. Borrow.

     I am not aware whether I am addressing a clergyman or a layman,
     and therefore shall direct as above. Will you be so kind as to
     send the MS. of the Russian Homilies to Mrs. Biller?

During Borrow's last month or two in St. Petersburg he printed two thin
octavo volumes of translations--some of them verses which, undeterred by
the disheartening reception of earlier efforts, he had continued to make
from each language in succession that he had the happiness to acquire,
although most of the poems are from his old portfolios. These little
books were named _Targum_ and _The Talisman_. Dr. Knapp calls the latter
an appendix to the former. They are absolutely separate volumes of
verse, and I reproduce their title-pages from the only copies that
Borrow seems to have reserved for himself out of the hundred printed of
each. The publishers, it will be seen, are the German firm that printed
the Manchu New Testament, Schultz and Beneze. Borrow's preface to
_Targum_ is dated 'St. Petersburg, June 1, 1835.' Here in _Targum_ we
find the trial poem which in competition with a rival candidate had won
him the privilege of going to Russia for the Bible Society--_The
Mountain Chase_. Here also among new verses are some from the Arabic,
the Persian, and the Turkish. If it be true, as his friend Hasfeld said,
that here was a poet who was able to render another without robbing the
garland of a single leaf--that would but prove that the poetry which
Borrow rendered was not of the first order. Nor, taking another
standard--the capacity to render the ballad with a force that captures
'the common people,'--can we agree with William Bodham Donne, who was
delighted with _Targum_ and said that 'the language and rhythm are
vastly superior to Macaulay's _Lays of Ancient Rome_.' In _The Talisman_
we have four little poems from the Russian of Pushkin followed by
another poem, _The Mermaid_, by the same author. Three other poems in
Russian and Polish complete the booklet. Borrow left behind him in St.
Petersburg with his friend, Hasfeld, a presentation copy for Pushkin,
who, when he received it, expressed regret that he had not met his
translator while Borrow was in St. Petersburg.

[Illustration: Title Page from "Targum"]

[Illustration: Title Page from "The Talisman"]


[103] Darlow, _Letters to the Bible Society_, p. 32.

[104] _Ibid._ p. 47.

[105] Darlow, _Letters to the Bible Society_, pp. 60, 61.

[106] Mr. Glen.

[107] The Manchu version--_i.e._ the transcript of Pierot's MS. of the
Old Testament and 1000 copies of Lipóftsof's translation of the
New--cost the Society in all £2600. Canton: _History of the Bible
Society_, vol. ii. p. 239.

[108] Darlow; _Letters to the Bible Society_, p. 96.

[109] Darlow: _Letters to the Bible Society_, p. 65.

[110] _Ibid._, p. 81.



From his journey to Russia Borrow had acquired valuable experience, but
nothing in the way of fame, although his mother had been able to record
in a letter to St. Petersburg that she had heard at a Bible Society
gathering in Norwich his name 'sounded through the hall' by Mr. Joseph
John Gurney and Mr. Cunningham, to her great delight. 'All this is very
pleasing to me,' she said, 'God bless you!' Even more pleasing to Borrow
must have been a letter from Mary Clarke, his future wife, who was able
to tell him that she heard Francis Cunningham refer to him as 'one of
the most extraordinary and interesting individuals of the present day.'
But these tributes were not all-satisfying to an ambitious man, and this
Borrow undoubtedly was. His Russian journey was followed by five weeks
of idleness in Norwich varied by the one excitement of attending a Bible
meeting at Oulton with the Reverend Francis Cunningham in the chair,
when 'Mr. George Borrow from Russia'[111] made one of the usual
conventional missionary speeches, Mary Clarke's brother, Breame Skepper,
being also among the orators. Borrow begged for more work from the
Society. He urged the desirability of carrying out its own idea of an
investigation in Portugal and perhaps also in Spain, and hinted that he
could write a small volume concerning what he saw and heard which might
cover the expense of the expedition.[112] So much persistency conquered.
Borrow sailed from London on 6th November 1835, and reached Lisbon on
12th November, this his first official visit to the Peninsula lasting
exactly eleven months. The next four years and six months were to be
spent mainly in Spain.[113] Broadly the time divides itself in the
following fashion:

    1st Tour (_via_ Lisbon),
    Nov. 1835 to Oct. 1836.


    2nd Tour (_via_ Cadiz),
    Nov. 1836 to Sept. 1838.


    3rd Tour (_via_ Cadiz),
    Dec. 1838 to March 1840.


What a world of adventure do the mere names of these places call up.
Borrow entered the Peninsula at an exciting period of its history.
Traces of the Great War in which Napoleon's legions faced those of
Wellington still abounded. Here and there a bridge had disappeared, and
some of Borrow's strange experiences on ferry-boats were indirectly due
to the results of Napoleon's ambition.[114] Everywhere there was still
war in the land. Portugal indeed had just passed through a revolution.
The partisans of the infant Queen Maria II. had been fighting with her
uncle Dom Miguel for eight years, and it was only a few short months
before Borrow landed at Lisbon that Maria had become undisputed queen.
Spain, to which Borrow speedily betook himself, was even in a worse
state. She was in the throes of a six years' war. Queen Isabel II., a
child of three, reigned over a chaotic country with her mother Dona
Christina as regent; her uncle Don Carlos was a formidable claimant to
the throne and had the support of the absolutist and clerical parties.
Borrow's political sympathies were always in the direction of
absolutism; but in religion, although a staunch Church of England man,
he was certainly an anti-clerical one in Roman Catholic Spain. In any
case he steered judiciously enough between contending factions,
describing the fanatics of either side with vigour and sometimes with
humour. Mr. Brandram's injunction to Borrow 'to be on his guard against
becoming too much committed to one particular party' seems to have been

Borrow's three expeditions to Spain have more to be said for them than
had his journey to St. Petersburg. The work of the Bible Society was and
is at its highest point of human service when distributing either the
Old or the New Testament in Christian countries, Spain, England, or
another. Few there be to-day in any country who, in the interests of
civilisation, would deny to the Bible a wider distribution. In a remote
village of Spain a Bible Society's colporteur, carrying a coloured
banner, sold me a copy of Cipriano de Valera's New Testament for a
peseta. The villages of Spain that Borrow visited could even at that
time compare favourably morally and educationally, with the villages of
his own county of Norfolk at the same period. The morals of the
agricultural labourers of the English fen country eighty years ago were
a scandal, and the peasantry read nothing; more than half of them could
not read. They had not, moreover, the humanising passion for song and
dance that Andalusia knew. But this is not to deny that the Bible
Society under Borrow's instrumentality did a good work in Spain, nor
that they did it on the whole in a broad and generous way. Borrow admits
that there was a section of the Roman Catholic clergy 'favourably
disposed towards the circulation of the Gospel,'[115] and the Society
actually fixed upon a Roman Catholic version of the Spanish Bible, that
by Scio de San Miguel,[116] although this version Borrow considered a
bad translation. Much has been said about the aim of the Bible Society
to provide the Bible without notes or comment--in its way a most
meritorious aim, although then as now opposed to the instinct of a large
number of the priests of the Roman Church. It is true that their
attitude does not in any way possess the sanction of the ecclesiastical
authorities. It may be urged, indeed, that the interpretation of the
Bible by a priest, usually of mature judgment, and frequently of a
higher education than the people with whom he is associated, is at least
as trustworthy as its interpretation at the hands of very partially
educated young women and exceedingly inadequately equipped young men who
to-day provide interpretation and comment in so many of the Sunday
Schools of Protestant countries.[117]

Behold George Borrow, then, first in Portugal and a little later in
Spain, upon his great mission--avowedly at first a tentative
mission--rather to see what were the prospects for Bible distribution
than to distribute Bibles. But Borrow's zeal knew no such limitations.
Before very long he had a shop in one of the principal streets of
Madrid--the Calle del Principe--much more in the heart of things than
the very prosperous Bible Society of our day ventures upon.[118]
Meanwhile he is at present in Portugal not very certain of his
movements, and he writes to his old friend Dr. Bowring the following
letter with a request with which Bowring complied, although in the
coldest manner:

To Dr. John Bowring.

                EVORA IN THE ALEMTEJO, _27 Decr. 1835._

     DEAR SIR,--Pray excuse me for troubling you with these lines. I
     write to you, as usual, for assistance in my projects,
     convinced that you will withhold none which it may be in your
     power to afford, more especially when by so doing you will
     perhaps be promoting the happiness of our fellow creatures. I
     returned from dear, glorious Russia about three months since,
     after having edited there the Manchu New Testament in eight
     volumes. I am now in Portugal, for the Society still do me the
     honour of employing me. For the last six weeks I have been
     wandering amongst the wilds of the Alemtejo and have introduced
     myself to its rustics, banditti, etc., and become very popular
     amongst them, but as it is much more easy to introduce oneself
     to the cottage than the hall (though I am not entirely unknown
     in the latter), I want you to give or procure me letters to the
     most liberal and influential minds of Portugal. I likewise want
     a letter from the Foreign Office to Lord De Walden, in a word,
     I want to make what interest I can towards obtaining the
     admission of the Gospel of Jesus into the public schools of
     Portugal which are about to be established. I beg leave to
     state that this is _my plan_, and not other persons', as I was
     merely sent over to Portugal to observe the disposition of the
     people, therefore I do not wish to be named as an Agent of the
     B.S., but as a person who has plans for the mental improvement
     of the Portuguese; should I receive _these letters_ within the
     space of six weeks it will be time enough, for before setting
     up my machine in Portugal I wish to lay the foundation of
     something similar in Spain. When you send the Portuguese
     letters direct thus:

                Mr. George Borrow,
                    to the care of Mr. Wilby,
                      Rua Dos Restauradores, Lisbon.

     I start for Spain to-morrow, and I want letters something
     similar (there is impudence for you) for Madrid, _which I
     should like to have as soon as possible_. I do not much care at
     present for an introduction to the Ambassador at Madrid, as I
     shall not commence operations seriously in Spain until I have
     disposed of Portugal. I will not apologise for writing to you
     in this manner, for you know me, but I will tell you one
     thing, which is that the letter which you procured for me, on
     my going to St. Petersburg, from Lord Palmerston, assisted me
     wonderfully. I called twice at your domicile on my return; the
     first time you were in Scotland, the second in France, and I
     assure you I cried with vexation. Remember me to Mrs. Bowring
     and God bless you.

                G. BORROW.

     _P.S._--I am told that Mendizábal is liberal, and has been in
     England; perhaps he would assist me.

During this eleven months' stay in the Peninsula Borrow made his way to
Madrid, and here he interviewed the British Minister, Sir George
Villiers, afterwards fourth Earl of Clarendon, and had received a quite
remarkable encouragement from him for the publication and distribution
of the Bible. He also interviewed the Spanish Prime Minister,
Mendizábal, 'whom it is as difficult to get nigh as it is to approach
the North Pole,' and he has given us a picturesque account of the
interview in _The Bible in Spain_. It was agreed that 5000 copies of the
Spanish Testament were to be reprinted from Scio's text at the expense
of the Bible Society, and all these Borrow was to handle as he thought
fit. Then Borrow made his way to Granada, where, under date 30th August
1836, his autograph may be read in the visitors' book of the Alhambra:

_George Borrow Norvicensis._

Here he studied his friends the gypsies, now and probably then, as we
may assume from his _Zincali_, the sordid scum on the hillside of that
great city, but now more assuredly than then unutterably demoralised by
the numerous but curious tourists who visit this rabble under police
protection, the very policeman or gendarme not despising a peseta for
his protective services. But Borrow's hobbies included the Romanies of
every land, and a year later he produced and published a gypsy version
of the Gospel of St. Luke.[119] In October 1836 Borrow was back in
England. He found that the Bible Society approved of him. In November of
the same year he left London for Cadiz on his second visit to Spain. The
journey is described in _The Bible in Spain_;[120] but here, from my
Borrow Papers, is a kind letter that Mr. Brandram wrote to Borrow's
mother on the occasion:


                NO. 10 EAST STREET, _Jany. 11, 1837._

     MY DEAR MADAM,--I have the joyful news to send you that your
     son has again safely arrived at Madrid. His journey we were
     aware was exceedingly perilous, more perilous than we should
     have allowed him to take had we sooner known the extent of the
     danger. He begs me to write, intending to write to you himself
     without delay. He has suffered from the intense cold, but
     nothing beyond inconvenience. Accept my congratulations, and my
     best wishes that your dear son may be preserved to be your
     comfort in declining years--and may the God of all consolation
     himself deign to comfort your heart by the truths of that holy
     volume your son is endeavouring, in connection with our
     Society, to spread abroad.--Believe me, dear Madam, yours

                A. BRANDRAM.
                Mrs. Borrow, Norwich.

A brilliant letter from Seville followed soon after, and then he went on
to Madrid, not without many adventures. 'The cold nearly killed me,' he
said. 'I swallowed nearly two bottles of brandy; it affected me no more
than warm water.' This to kindly Mr. Brandram, who clearly had no
teetotaller proclivities, for the letter, as he said, 'filled his heart
with joy and gladness.' Meanwhile those five thousand copies of the New
Testament were a-printing, Borrow superintending the work with the
assistance of a new friend, Dr. Usóz. 'As soon as the book is printed
and issued,' he tells Mr. Brandram, 'I will ride forth from Madrid into
the wildest parts of Spain, ...' and so, after some correspondence with
the Society which is quite entertaining, he did. The reader of _The
Bible in Spain_ will note some seventy separate towns and villages that
Borrow visited, not without countless remarkable adventures on the way.
'I felt some desire,' he says in _The Romany Rye_, 'to meet with one of
those adventures which upon the roads of England are generally as
plentiful as blackberries in autumn.' Assuredly in this tour of Spanish
villages Borrow met with no lack of adventures. The committee of the
Bible Society authorised this tour in March 1837, and in May Borrow
started off on horseback attended by his faithful servant, Antonio. This
tour was to last five months, and 'if I am spared,' he writes to his
friend Hasfeld, 'and have not fallen a prey to sickness, Carlists,
banditti, or wild beasts, I shall return to Madrid.' He hopes a little
later, he tells Hasfeld, to be sent to China. We have then a glimpse of
his servant, the excellent Antonio, which supplements that contained in
_The Bible of Spain_. 'He is inordinately given to drink, and is of so
quarrelsome a disposition that he is almost constantly involved in some
broil.'[121] Not all his weird experiences were conveyed in his letters
to the Bible Society's secretary. Some of these letters, however--the
more highly coloured ones--were used in _The Bible in Spain_, word for
word, and wonderful reading they must have made for the secretary, who
indeed asked for more, although, with a view to keeping Borrow
humble--an impossible task--Mr. Brandram takes occasion to say 'Mr.
Graydon's letters, as well as yours, are deeply interesting,' Graydon
being a hated rival, as we shall see. The question of L.S.D. was also
not forgotten by the assiduous secretary. 'I know you are no
accountant,' he writes, 'but do not forget there are some who are,' and
a financial document was forwarded to Borrow about this time which we
reproduce in facsimile.


But now Borrow was happy, for next to the adventures of five glorious
months in the villages between Madrid and Coruña nothing could be more
to the taste of Borrow than a good wholesome quarrel. He was imprisoned
by order of the Spanish Government and released on the intervention of
the British Embassy.[122] He tells the story so graphically in _The
Bible in Spain_ that it is superfluous to repeat it; but here he does
not tell of the great quarrel with regard to Lieutenant Graydon that led
him to attack that worthy zealot in a letter to the Bible Society. This
attack did indeed cause the Society to recall Graydon, whose zealous
proclamation of anti-Romanism must however have been more to the taste
of some of its subscribers than Borrow's trimming methods. Moreover,
Graydon worked for love of the cause and required no salary, which must
always have been in his favour. Borrow was ten days in a Madrid prison,
and there, as ever, he had extraordinary adventures if we may believe
his own narrative, but they are much too good to be torn from their
context. Suffice to say here that in the actual correspondence we find
breezy controversy between Borrow and the Society. Borrow thought that
the secretary had called the accuracy of his statements in question as
to this or that particular in his conduct. Ever a fighter, he appealed
to the British Embassy for confirmation of his word, and finally Mr.
Brandram suggested he should come back to England for a time and talk
matters over with the members of the committee. In the beginning of
September 1838 Borrow was again in England, when he issued a lengthy and
eloquent defence of his conduct and a report on 'Past and Future
Operations in Spain.'[123] In December of the same year Borrow was
again on his way to Cadiz upon his third and last visit to Spain.

Borrow reached Cadiz on this his last visit on 31st December 1838, and
went straight to Seville, where he arrived on 2nd January 1839. Here he
took a beautiful little house, 'a paradise in its way,' in the Plazuela
de la Pila Seca, and furnished it--clearly at the expense of his friend
Mrs. Clarke of Oulton, who must have sent him a cheque for the purpose.
He had been corresponding regularly with Mrs. Clarke, who had told him
of her difficulties with lawyers and relatives, and Borrow had advised
her to cut the Gordian knot and come to Spain. But Mrs. Clarke and her
daughter, Henrietta, did not arrive from England until June.

In the intervening months Borrow had been working more in his own
interests than in those of the patient Bible Society, for he started to
gather material for his _Gypsies of Spain_, and this book was for the
most part actually written in Seville. It was at this period that he had
the many interviews with Colonel Elers Napier that we quote at length in
our next chapter.

A little later he is telling Mr. Brandram of his adventure with the
blind girl of Manzanares who could talk in the Latin tongue, which she
had been taught by a Jesuit priest, an episode which he retold in _The
Bible in Spain_. 'When shall we hear,' he asks, 'of an English rector
instructing a beggar girl in the language of Cicero?' To which Mr.
Brandram, who was rector of Beckenham, replied 'Cui bono?' The letters
of this period are the best that he ever wrote, and are incorporated
more exactly than the earlier ones in _The Bible in Spain_.


The house of Maria Diaz in the Calle del Santiago. Borrow occupied the
third floor front. A laundry is now in possession.]


Where Borrow opened a shop for the sale of New Testaments, which was
finally closed by order of the Government.]

Four letters to his mother within the period of his second and third
Spanish visits may well be presented together here from my Borrow

To Mrs. Ann Borrow

                MADRID, _July 27, 1838._

     MY DEAR MOTHER,--I am in perfect health though just returned
     from a long expedition in which I have been terribly burnt by
     the sun. In about ten days I sold nearly a thousand Testaments
     among the labourers of the plains and mountains of Castille and
     La Mancha. Everybody in Madrid is wondering and saying such a
     thing is a miracle, as I have not entered a town, and the
     country people are very poor and have never seen or heard of
     the Testament before. But I confess to you that I dislike my
     situation and begin to think that I have been deceived; the
     B.S. have had another person on the sea-coast who has nearly
     ruined their cause in Spain by circulating seditious handbills
     and tracts. The consequence has been that many of my depots
     have been seized in which I kept my Bibles in various parts of
     the country, for the government think that he is employed by
     me; I told the B.S. all along what would be the consequence of
     employing this man, but they took huff and would scarce believe
     me, and now all my words are come true; I do not blame the
     government in the slightest degree for what they have done in
     many points, they have shown themselves to be my good friends,
     but they have been driven to the step by the insane conduct of
     the person alluded to. I told them frankly in my last letter
     that I would leave their service if they encouraged him; for I
     will not be put in prison again on his account, and lose
     another servant by the gaol fever, and then obtain neither
     thanks nor reward. I am going out of town again in a day or
     two, but I shall now write very frequently, therefore be not
     alarmed for I will run into no danger. Burn this letter and
     speak to no one about it, nor any others that I may send. God
     bless you, my dear mother.

                G. B.

To Mrs. Ann Borrow, Willow Lane, St. Giles, Norwich (Inglaterra)

                MADRID, _August 5, 1838._

     MY DEAR MOTHER,--I merely write this to inform you that I am
     back to Madrid from my expedition. I have been very successful
     and have sold a great many Testaments. Indeed all the villages
     and towns within thirty miles have been supplied. In Madrid
     itself I can do nothing as I am closely watched by order of the
     government and not permitted to sell, so that all I do is by
     riding out to places where they cannot follow me. I do not
     blame them, for they have much to complain of, though nothing
     of me, but if the Society will countenance such men as they
     have lately done in the South of Spain they must expect to reap
     the consequences. It is very probable that I may come to
     England in a little time, and then you will see me; but do not
     talk any more about yourself being 'no more seen,' for it only
     serves to dishearten me, and God knows I have enough to make me
     melancholy already. I am in a great hurry and cannot write any
     more at present.--I remain, dear mother, yours affectionately,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. Ann Borrow

                (No date.)

     MY DEAR MAMA,--As I am afraid that you may not have received my
     last letter in consequence of several couriers having been
     stopped, I write to inform you that I am quite well.

     I have been in some difficulties. I was selling so many
     Testaments that the priests became alarmed, and prevailed on
     the government to put a stop to my selling any more; they were
     likewise talking of prosecuting me as a witch, but they have
     thought better of it. I hear it is very cold in England, pray
     take care of yourself, I shall send you more in a few
     weeks.--God bless you, my dear mama,

                G. B.

It was in the middle of his third and last visit to Spain that Borrow
wrote this next letter to his mother which gives the first suggestion of
the romantic and happy termination of his final visit to the Peninsula:

To Mrs. Ann Borrow

                SEVILLE, SPAIN, _April 27, 1839._

     MY DEAR MOTHER,--I should have written to you before I left
     Madrid, but I had a long and dangerous journey to make, and I
     wished to get it over before saying anything to you. I am now
     safely arrived, by the blessing of God, in Seville, which, in
     my opinion, is the most delightful town in the world. If it
     were not a strange place with a strange language I know you
     would like to live in it, but it is rather too late in the day
     for you to learn Spanish and accommodate yourself to Spanish
     ways. Before I left Madrid I accomplished a great deal, having
     sold upwards of one thousand Testaments and nearly five hundred
     Bibles, so that at present very few remain; indeed, not a
     single Bible, and I was obliged to send away hundreds of people
     who wanted to purchase, but whom I could not supply. All this
     has been done without the slightest noise or disturbance or
     anything that could give cause of displeasure to the
     government, so that I am now on very good terms with the
     authorities, though they are perfectly aware of what I am
     about. Should the Society think proper to be guided by the
     experience which I have acquired, and my knowledge of the
     country and the people, they might if they choosed sell at
     least twelve thousand Bibles and Testaments yearly in Spain,
     but let them adopt or let any other people adopt any other
     principle than that on which I act and everything will
     miscarry. All the difficulties, as I told my friends the time I
     was in England, which I have had to encounter were owing to the
     faults and imprudencies of other people, and, I may say, still
     are owing. Two Methodist schoolmasters have lately settled at
     Cadiz, and some little time ago took it into their heads to
     speak and preach, as I am informed, against the Virgin Mary;
     information was instantly sent to Madrid, and the blame, or
     part of it, was as usual laid to me; however, I found means to
     clear myself, for I have powerful friends in Madrid, who are
     well acquainted with my views, and who interested themselves
     for me, otherwise I should have been sent out of the country,
     as I believe the two others have been or will be. I have said
     nothing on this point in my letters home, as people would
     perhaps say that I was lukewarm, whereas, on the contrary, I
     think of nothing but the means best adapted to promote the
     cause; but I am not one of those disposed to run a ship on a
     rock when only a little skill is necessary to keep her in the
     open sea.

     I hope Mrs. Clarke will write shortly; tell her if she wishes
     for a retreat I have found one here for her and Henrietta. I
     have my eye on a beautiful one at fifteen pence a day. I call
     it a small house, though it is a paradise in its way, having a
     stable, court-yard, fountain, and twenty rooms. She has only to
     write to my address at Madrid and I shall receive the letter
     without fail. Henrietta had better bring with her a Spanish
     grammar and pocket dictionary, as not a word of English is
     spoken here. The house-dog--perhaps a real English bulldog
     would be better--likewise had better come, as it may be useful.
     God bless you therefore for the present, my dearest mother.

                GEORGE BORROW.

Borrow had need of friends more tolerant of his idiosyncrasies than the
'powerful friends' he describes to his mother, for the Secretary of the
Bible Society was still in a critical mood:--

     You narrate your perilous journey to Seville, and say at the
     beginning of the description, 'my usual wonderful good fortune
     accompanying us.' This is a mode of speaking to which we are
     not accustomed--it savours, some of our friends would say, a
     little of the profane.[124]

On 29th July 1839 Borrow was instructed by his Committee to return to
England, but he was already on the way to Tangier, whence in September
he wrote a long and interesting letter to Mr. Brandram, which was
afterwards incorporated in _The Bible in Spain_. He had left Mrs. Clarke
and her daughter in Seville, and they joined him at Gibraltar later. We
find him _en route_ for Tangier, staying two days with Mr. John M.
Brackenbury, the British Consul in Cadiz, who found him a most
fascinating man.

His Tangier life is fully described in _The Bible in Spain_. Here he
picked up a Jewish youth, Hayim Ben Attar, who returned to Spain as his
servant, and afterwards to England.

Borrow, at the end of September, was back again in Seville, in his house
near the cathedral, in the Plazuela de la Pila Seca, which, when I
visited Seville in the spring of this year (1913), I found had long been
destroyed to make way for new buildings. Here he received the following
letter from Mr. George Browne of the Bible Society:--

To Mr. Borrow

                BIBLE HOUSE, _Oct. 7, 1839._

     MY DEAR FRIEND,--Mr. Brandram and myself being both on the eve
     of a long journey, I have only time to inform you that yours of
     the 2d ult. from Tangier, and 21st from Cadiz came to hand this
     morning. Before this time you have doubtless received Mr.
     Brandram's letter, accompanying the resolution of the Comee.,
     of which I apprised you, but which was delayed a few days, for
     the purpose of reconsideration. We are not able to suggest
     precisely the course you should take in regard to the books
     left at Madrid and elsewhere, and how far it may be absolutely
     necessary or not for you to visit that city again before you
     return. The books you speak of, as at Seville, may be sent to
     Gibraltar rather than to England, as well as any books you may
     deem it expedient or find it necessary to bring out of the
     country. As soon as your arrangements are completed we shall
     look for the pleasure of seeing you in this country. The haste
     in which I am compelled to write allows me to say no more than
     that my best wishes attend you, and that I am, with sincere
     regard, yours truly,

                G. BROWNE.

     I thank you for your kind remembrance of Mrs. Browne. Did I
     thank you for your letter to her? She feels, I assure you, very
     much obliged. Your description of Tangier will be another
     interesting 'morceau' for her.

'Where is Borrow?' asked the Bible Society meanwhile of the Consuls at
Seville and Cadiz, but Borrow had ceased to care. He hoped to become a
successful author with his _Gypsies_; he would at any rate secure
independence by marriage, which must have been already mooted. In
November he and Mrs. Clarke were formally betrothed, and would have
been married in Spain, but a Protestant marriage was impossible there.
When preparing to leave Seville he had one of those fiery quarrels, with
which his life was to be studded. This time it was with an official of
the city over a passport, and the official promptly locked him up, for
thirty hours. Hence the following letter in response to his complaint.
The writer is Mr., afterwards Sir, George Jerningham, then Secretary of
Legation at Madrid, who it may be mentioned came from Costessey, four
miles from Norwich. It is written from the British Legation, and is
dated 23rd December 1839:

     I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your two
     letters, the one without date, the second dated the _19th
     November_ (which however ought to have been _December_),
     respecting the outrageous conduct pursued towards you at
     Seville by the Alcalde of the district in which you resided. I
     lost no time in addressing a strong representation thereon to
     the Spanish Minister, and I have to inform you that he has
     acquainted me with his having written to Seville for exact
     information upon the whole subject, and that he has promised a
     further answer to my representation as soon as his inquiries
     shall have been answered. In the meantime I shall not fail to
     follow up your case with proper activity.

Borrow was still in Seville, hard at work upon the _Gypsies_, all
through the first three months of the year 1840. In April the three
friends left Cadiz for London. A letter of this period from Mr.
Brackenbury, the British Consul at Cadiz, is made clear by these facts:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                BRITISH CONSULATE, CADIZ, _January 27th, 1840._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I received on the 19th your very acceptable
     letter without date, and am heartily rejoiced to find that you
     have received satisfaction for the insult, and that the Alcalde
     is likely to be punished for his unjustifiable conduct. If you
     come to Cadiz your baggage may be landed and deposited at the
     gates to be shipped with yourselves wherever the steamer may
     go, in which case the authorities would not examine it, if you
     bring it into Cadiz it would be examined at the gates--or, if
     you were to get it examined at the Custom House at Seville and
     there sealed with the seal of the Customs--it might then be
     transhipped into the steamer or into any other vessel without
     being subjected to any examination. If you take your horse, the
     agents of the steamer ought to be apprized of your intention,
     that they may be prepared, which I do not think they generally
     are, with a suitable box.

     Consuls are not authorised to unite Protestant subjects in the
     bonds of Holy Matrimony in popish countries--which seems a
     peculiar hardship, because popish priests could not, if they
     would--hence in Spain no Protestants can be legally married.
     Marriages solemnised abroad according to the law of that land
     wheresoever the parties may at the time be inhabitants are
     valid--but the law of Spain excludes their priests from
     performing these ceremonies where both parties are
     Protestants--and where one is a Papist, except a dispensation
     be obtained from the Pope. So you must either go to
     Gibraltar--or wait till you arrive in England. I have
     represented the hardship of such a case more than once or twice
     to Government. In my report upon the Consular Act, 6 Geo. IV.
     cap. 87--eleven years ago--I suggested that provision should be
     made to legalise marriages solemnised by the Consul within the
     Consulate, and that such marriages should be registered in the
     Consular Office--and that duly certified copies thereof should
     be equivalent to certificates of marriages registered in any
     church in England. These suggestions not having been acted
     upon, I brought the matter under the consideration of Lord John
     Russell (I being then in England at the time of his altering
     the Marriage Act), and proposed that Consuls abroad should have
     the power of magistrates and civil authorities at home for
     receiving the declarations of British subjects who might wish
     to enter into the marriage state--but they feared lest the
     introduction of such a clause, simple and efficacious as it
     would have been, might have endangered the fate of the Bill;
     and so we are as Protestants deprived of all power of being
     legally married in Spain.

     What sort of a horse is your hack?--What colour? What age?
     Would he carry me?--What his action? What his price? Because if
     in all these points he would suit me, perhaps you would give me
     the refusal of him. You will of course enquire whether your
     Arab may be legally exported.

     All my family beg to be kindly remembered to you.--I am, my
     dear sir, most faithfully yours,

                J. M. BRACKENBURY.

     There is a young gentleman here, who is in Spain partly on
     account of his health--partly for literary purposes. I will
     give him, with your leave, a line of introduction to you
     whenever he may go to Seville. He is the Honourable R. Dundas
     Murray, brother of Lord Elibank, a Scottish nobleman.


[111] _Norfolk Chronicle_, 17th October 1835.

[112] Secretary Samuel Brandram, writing to Borrow from the office of
the Bible Society in October 1835, gave clear indication that the
Society was uncertain how next to utilise Borrow's linguistic and
missionary talents. Should he go to Portugal or to China was the
question. In November the committee had decided on Portugal, although
they thought it probable that Borrow would 'eventually go to China,'
'With Portugal he is already acquainted,' said Mr. Brandram in a letter
of introduction to the Rev. E. Whitely, the British chaplain in Oporto.
So that Borrow must really have wandered into Portugal in that earlier
and more melancholy apprenticeship to vagabondage concerning which there
is so much surmise and so little knowledge. Had he lied about his
acquaintance with Portugal he would certainly have been 'found out' by
this Portuguese acquaintance, with whom he had much social intercourse.

[113] The reader who finds Borrow's _Bible in Spain_ insufficient for
his account of that period, and I am not of the number, may turn to the
_Letters of George Borrow to the Bible Society_, from which we have
already quoted, or to Mr. Herbert Jenkins's _Life of George Borrow_. In
the former book the greater part of 500 closely-printed pages is taken
up with repetitions of the story as told in _The Bible in Spain_, or
with additions which Borrow deliberately cancelled in the work in
question. In Mr. Jenkins's _Life_ he will find that out of a solid
volume of 496 pages exactly 212 are occupied with Borrow's association
with the Peninsula and his work therein. To the enthusiast who desires
to supplement _The Bible in Spain_ with valuable annotation I cordially
commend both these volumes.

[114] Who that has visited Spain can for a moment doubt but that, if
Napoleon had really conquered the Peninsula and had been able to put his
imprint upon it as he did upon Italy, the Spain of to-day would have
become a much greater country than it is at present--than it will be in
a few short years.

[115] _The Bible in Spain_, ch. xlii.

[116] The Old and New Testament, in ten volumes, were first issued in
Spanish at Valencia in 1790-93. When in Madrid I picked up on a
second-hand bookstall a copy of a cheap Spanish version of Scio's New
Testament, which bears a much earlier date than the one Borrow carried.
It was published, it will be noted, two years before Borrow published
his translation of Klinger's ribald book _Faustus_:--

'El Nuevo Testamento, Traducido al Español de la Vulgata Latina por el
Rmo. P. Philipe Scio de S. Miguel. Paris: En la Imprenta de J. Smith,

[117] This kind of interpretation is not restricted to the youthful
Sunday School teacher. At a meeting of the Bible Society held at
Norwich--Borrow's own city--on 29th May 1913, Mrs. Florence Barclay, the
author of many popular novels, thus addressed the gathering. I quote
from the _Eastern Daily Press_: 'She had heard sometimes a shallow form
of criticism which said that it was impossible that in actual reality
any man should have lived and breathed three days and three nights in
the interior of a fish. Might she remind the meeting that the Lord Jesus
Christ, who never made mistakes, said Himself, "As Jonah was three days
and three nights in the interior of the sea monster." Please note that
in the Greek the word was not "whale," but "sea monster." And then, let
us remember, that we were told that the Lord God had prepared the great
fish in order that it should swallow Jonah. She did suggest that if mere
man nowadays could construct a submarine, which went down to the depths
of the ocean and came up again when he pleased, it did not require very
much faith to believe that Almighty God could specially prepare a great
fish which should rescue His servant, to whom He meant to give another
chance, from the depths of the sea, and land him in due course upon the
shore. (Applause).' These crude views, which ignored the symbolism of
Nineveh as a fish, now universally accepted by educated people, were
not, however, endorsed by Dr. Beeching, the learned Dean of Norwich, who
in the same gathering expressed the point of view of more scholarly
Christians:--'He would not distinguish inspired writing from fiction. He
would say there could be inspired fiction just as well as inspired
facts, and he would point to the story of the prodigal son as a
wonderful example from the Bible of inspired fiction. There were a good
many other examples in the Old Testament, and he had not the faintest
doubt that the story of Jonah was one. It was on the same level as the
prodigal son. It was a story told to teach the people a distinct truth.'

[118] When in Madrid in May 1913 I called upon Mr. William Summers, the
courteous Secretary of the Madrid Branch of the British and Foreign
Bible Society in the Flor Alta. Mr. Summers informs me that the issues
of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Bibles and Testaments, in
Spain for the past three years are as follows:

Year. Bibles. Testaments. Portions. Total. 1910, 5,309 8,971 70,594
84,874 1911, 5,665 11,481 79,525 96,671 1912, 9,083 11,842 85,024

The Calle del Principe is now rapidly being pulled down and new
buildings taking the place of those Borrow knew.

[119] _Embeo e Majaro Lucas. El Evangelio segun S. Lucas traducido al
Romani ó dialecto de los Gitanos de España_, 1857. Two later copies in
my possession bear on their title-pages 'Lundra, 1871' and 'Lundra,
1872.' But the Bible Society in Spain has long ceased to handle or to
sell any gypsy version of St. Luke's Gospel.

[120] And in Darlow's _Letters of George Borrow to the Bible Society_,
pp. 180-4.

[121] Darlow, _Letters of George Borrow to the Bible Society_.

[122] The story of all the negotiations concerning this imprisonment and
release is told by Dr. Knapp (_Life_, vol. i, pp. 279-297), and is
supplemented by Mr. Herbert Jenkins by valuable documents from the
Foreign Office Papers at the Record Office.

[123] Printed by Mr. Darlow in _Letters of George Borrow to the Bible
Society_, pp. 359-379.

[124] Darlow, _George Borrow's Letters to the Bible Society_, p. 414.



There are many interesting personalities that pass before us in Borrow's
three separate narratives,[125] as they may be considered, of his
Spanish experiences. We would fain know more concerning the two
excellent secretaries of the Bible Society--Samuel Brandram and Joseph
Jowett. We merely know that the former was rector of Beckenham and was
one of the Society's secretaries until his death in 1850;[126] that the
latter was rector of Silk Willoughby in Lincolnshire, and belonged to
the same family as Jowett of Balliol. But there are many quaint
characters in Borrow's own narrative to whom we are introduced. There is
Maria Diaz, for example, his landlady in the house in the Calle de
Santiago in Madrid, and her husband, Juan Lopez, also assisted Borrow in
his Bible distribution. Very eloquent are Borrow's tributes to the pair
in the pages of _The Bible in Spain_. 'Honour to Maria Diaz, the quiet,
dauntless, clever, Castilian female! I were an ungrate not to speak well
of her,' We get a glimpse of Maria and her husband long years afterwards
when a pensioner in a Spanish almshouse revealed himself as the son of
Borrow's friends. Eduardo Lopez was only eight years of age when Borrow
was in Madrid, and he really adds nothing to our knowledge.[127] Then
there were those two incorrigible vagabonds--Antonio Buchini, his Greek
servant with an Italian name, and Benedict Mol, the Swiss of Lucerne,
who turns up in all sorts of improbable circumstances as the seeker of
treasure in the Church of St. James of Compostella--only a masterly
imagination could have made him so interesting. Concerning these there
is nothing to supplement Borrow's own story. But we have attractive
glimpses of Borrow in the frequently quoted narrative of Colonel
Napier,[128] and this is so illuminating that I venture to reproduce it
at greater length than previous biographers have done. Edward Elers
Napier, who was born in 1808, was the son of one Edward Elers of the
Royal Navy. His widow married the famous Admiral Sir Charles Napier, who
adopted her four children by her first husband. Edward Elers, the
younger, or Edward Napier, as he came to be called, was educated at
Sandhurst and entered the army, serving for some years in India. Later
his regiment was ordered to Gibraltar, and it was thence that he made
several sporting excursions into Spain and Morocco. Later he served in
Egypt, and when, through ill-health, he retired in 1843 on half-pay, he
lived for some years in Portugal. In 1854 he returned to the army and
did good work in the Crimea, becoming a lieutenant-general in 1864. He
died in 1870. He wrote, in addition to these _Excursions_, several
other books, including _Scenes and Sports in Foreign Lands_.[129] It was
during his military career at Gibraltar that he met George Borrow at
Seville, as the following extracts from his book testify. Borrow's
pretension to have visited the East is characteristic--and amusing:--

     1839. _Saturday 4th_.--Out early, sketching at the Alcazar.
     After breakfast it set in a day of rain, and I was reduced to
     wander about the galleries overlooking the 'patio.' Nothing so
     dreary and out of character as a rainy day in Spain. Whilst
     occupied in moralising over the dripping water-spouts, I
     observed a tall, gentlemanly-looking man, dressed in a
     zamarra,[130] leaning over the balustrades, and apparently
     engaged in a similar manner with myself. Community of thoughts
     and occupation generally tends to bring people together. From
     the stranger's complexion, which was fair, but with brilliant
     black eyes, I concluded he was not a Spaniard; in short, there
     was something so remarkable in his appearance that it was
     difficult to say to what nation he might belong. He was tall,
     with a commanding appearance; yet, though apparently in the
     flower of manhood, his hair was so deeply tinged with the
     winter of either age or sorrow as to be nearly snow-white.
     Under these circumstances, I was rather puzzled as to what
     language I should address him in. At last, putting a bold face
     on the matter, I approached him with a 'Bonjour, monsieur, quel
     triste temps!'

     'Yes, sir,' replied he in the purest Parisian accent; 'and it
     is very unusual weather here at this time of the year.'

     'Does "monsieur" intend to be any time at Seville?' asked I. He
     replied in the affirmative. We were soon on a friendly footing,
     and from his varied information I was both amused and
     instructed. Still I became more than ever in the dark as to his
     nationality; I found he could speak English as fluently as
     French. I tried him on the Italian track; again he was
     perfectly at home.

     He had a Greek servant, to whom his gave his orders in Romaïc.
     He conversed in good Castilian with 'mine host'; exchanged a
     German salutation with an Austrian Baron, at the time an inmate
     of the fonda; and on mentioning to him my morning visit to
     Triano, which led to some remarks on the gypsies, and the
     probable place from whence they derived their origin, he
     expressed his belief that it was from Moultan, and said that,
     even to this day, they retained many Moultanee and Hindoostanee
     expressions, such as 'pánee' (water), 'buree pánee'[131] (the
     sea), etc. He was rather startled when I replied 'in Hindee,'
     but was delighted on finding I was an Indian, and entered
     freely, and with depth and acuteness, on the affairs of the
     East, most of which part of the world he had visited.

     In such varied discourse did the hours pass so swiftly away
     that we were not a little surprised when Pépé, the 'mozo' (and
     I verily believe all Spanish waiters are called Pépé),
     announced the hour of dinner; after which we took a long walk
     together on the banks of the river. But, on our return, I was
     as much as ever in ignorance as to who might be my new and
     pleasant acquaintance.

     I took the first opportunity of questioning Antonio Baillie
     (Buchini) on the subject, and his answer only tended to
     increase my curiosity. He said that nobody knew what nation the
     mysterious 'Unknown' belonged to, nor what were his motives for
     travelling. In his passport he went by the name of ----, and as
     a British subject, but in consequence of a suspicion being
     entertained that he was a Russian spy, the police kept a sharp
     look-out over him. Spy or no spy, I found him a very agreeable
     companion; and it was agreed that on the following day we
     should visit together the ruins of Italica.

     _May 5._--After breakfast, the 'Unknown' and myself, mounting
     our horses, proceeded on our expedition to the ruins of
     Italica. Crossing the river, and proceeding through the
     populous suburb of Triano, already mentioned, we went over the
     same extensive plain that I had traversed in going to San
     Lucar, but keeping a little more to the right a short ride
     brought us in sight of the Convent of San Isidrio, surrounded
     by tall cypress and waving date-trees. This once richly-endowed
     religious establishment is, together with the small
     neighbouring village of Santi Ponci, I believe, the property of
     the Duke of Medina Coeli, at whose expense the excavations are
     now carried on at the latter place, which is the ancient site
     of the Roman Italica.

     We sat down on a fragment of the walls, and sadly recalling the
     splendour of those times of yore, contrasted with the
     desolation around us, the 'Unknown' began to feel the vein of
     poetry creeping through his inward soul, and gave vent to it by
     reciting, with great emphasis and effect, and to the
     astonishment of the wondering peasant, who must have thought
     him 'loco,' the following well-known and beautiful  lines:--

    'Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower, grown,
      Matted and massed together, hillocks heap'd
    On what were chambers, arch crush'd, column strown
      In fragments, choked up vaults, and frescoes steep'd
    In subterranean damps, where the owl peep'd,
      Deeming it midnight; Temples, baths, or halls--
    Pronounce who can: for all that Learning reap'd
      From her research hath been, that these are walls.'

     I had been too much taken up with the scene, the verses, and
     the strange being who was repeating them with so much feeling,
     to notice the approach of one who now formed the fourth person
     of our party. This was a slight female figure, beautiful in the
     extreme, but whom tattered garments, raven hair (which fell in
     matted elf-locks over her naked shoulders), swarthy complexion,
     and flashing eyes, proclaimed to be of the wandering tribe of
     'gitános.' From an intuitive sense of natural politeness she
     stood with crossed arms, and a slight smile on her dark and
     handsome countenance, until my companion had ceased, and then
     addressed us in the usual whining tone of supplication, with
     'Caballeritos, una limosita! Dios se lo pagara a ustedes!'
     ('Gentlemen, a little charity! God will repay it to you!') The
     gypsy girl was so pretty, and her voice so sweet, that I
     involuntarily put my hand in my pocket.

     'Stop!' said the 'Unknown.' 'Do you remember what I told you
     about the Eastern origin of these people? You shall see I am
     correct. Come here, my pretty child,' said he in Moultanee,
     'and tell me where are the rest of your tribe?'

     The girl looked astounded, replied in the same tongue, but in
     broken language; when, taking him by the arm, she said, in
     Spanish: 'Come, caballero; come to one who will be able to
     answer you;' and she led the way down amongst the ruins towards
     one of the dens formerly occupied by the wild beasts, and
     disclosed to us a set of beings scarcely less savage. The
     sombre walls of this gloomy abode were illumined by a fire, the
     smoke from which escaped through a deep fissure in the massy
     roof; whilst the flickering flames threw a blood-red glare on
     the bronzed features of a group of children, of two men, and a
     decrepit old hag, who appeared busily engaged in some culinary

     On our entrance, the scowling glance of the males of the party,
     and a quick motion of the hand towards the folds of the
     'faja,'[132] caused in _me_, at least, anything but a
     comfortable sensation; but their hostile intentions, if ever
     entertained, were immediately removed by a wave of the hand
     from our conductress, who, leading my companion towards the
     sibyl, whispered something in her ear. The old crone appeared
     incredulous. The 'Unknown' uttered one word; but that word had
     the effect of magic; she prostrated herself at his feet, and in
     an instant, from an object of suspicion he became one of
     worship to the whole family, to whom, on taking leave, he made
     a handsome present, and departed with their united blessings,
     to the astonishment of myself, and what looked very like terror
     in our Spanish guide.

     I was, as the phrase goes, dying with curiosity, and, as soon
     as we mounted our horses, exclaimed, 'Where, in the name of
     goodness, did you pick up your acquaintance and the language of
     these extraordinary people?' 'Some years ago, in Moultan,' he
     replied. 'And by what means do you possess such apparent
     influence over them?' But the 'Unknown' had already said more
     than he perhaps wished on the subject. He drily replied that he
     had more than once owed his life to gipsies, and had reason to
     know them well; but this was said in a tone which precluded all
     further queries on my part. The subject was never again
     broached, and we returned in silence to the fonda....

     _May 7th._--Pouring with rain all day, during which I was
     mostly in the society of the 'Unknown.' This is a most
     extraordinary character, and the more I see of him the more I
     am puzzled. He appears acquainted with everybody and
     everything, but apparently unknown to every one himself. Though
     his figure bespeaks youth--and by his own account his age does
     not exceed thirty--yet the snows of eighty winters could not
     have whitened his locks more completely than they are. But in
     his dark and searching eye there is an almost supernatural
     penetration and lustre, which, were I inclined to superstition,
     might induce me to set down its possessor as a second Melmoth;
     and in that character he often appears to me during the
     troubled rest I sometimes obtain through the medium of the
     great soother, 'laudanum.'

The next most interesting figure in the Borrow gallery of this period is
Don Luis de Usóz y Rio, who was a good friend to Borrow during the whole
of his sojourn in Spain. It was he who translated Borrow's appeal to the
Spanish Prime Minister to be permitted to distribute Scio's New
Testament. He watched over Borrow with brotherly solicitude, and wrote
him more than one excellent letter, of which the two following from my
Borrow Papers, the last written at the close of the Spanish period, are
the most interesting:

To Mr. George Borrow

(_Translated from the Spanish_)

                PIAZZA DI SPAGNA 17, ROME, _7 April 1838._

     DEAR FRIEND,--I received your letter, and thank you for the
     same. I know the works under the name of 'Boz,' about which you
     write, and also the _Memoirs of the Pickwick Club_, and
     although they seemed to me good, I have failed to appreciate
     properly their qualities, because much of the dramatic style
     and dialogue in the same are very difficult for those who know
     English merely from books. I made here a better acquaintance
     than that of Mezzofanti (who knows nothing), namely, that of
     Prof. Michel-Angelo Lanci, already well-known on account of his
     work, _La sacra scrittura illustrata con monumenti
     fenico-assiri ed egiziani_, etc., etc. (The Scriptures,
     illustrated with Ph[oe]nician-Assyrian and Egyptian monuments),
     which I am reading at present, and find very profound and
     interesting, and more particularly very original. He has
     written and presented me a book, _Esposizione dei versetti del
     Giobbe intorno al cavallo_ (Explanation of verses of Job about
     a horse), and in these and other works he proves himself to be
     a great philologist and Oriental scholar. I meet him almost
     daily, and I assure you that he seems to me to know everything
     he treats thoroughly, and not like Gayangos or Calderon, etc.,
     etc. His philosophic works have created a great stir here, and
     they do not please much the friars here; but as here they are
     not like the police barbarians there, they do not forbid it, as
     they cannot. Lanci is well known in Russia and in Germany, and
     when I bring his works there, and you are there and have not
     read them, you will read them and judge for yourself.

     Wishing you well, and always at your service, I remain, always

                LUIS DE USÓZ Y RIO.

To Mr. George Borrow

(_Translated from the Spanish_)

                NAPLES, _28 August 1839._

     DEAR FRIEND,--I received your letter of the 28 July written
     from Sevilla, and I am waiting for that which you promise me
     from Tangier.

     I am glad that you liked Sevilla, and I am still more glad of
     the successful shipment of the beloved book. In distributing
     it, you are rendering the greatest service that generous
     foreigners (I mean Englishmen) can render to the real freedom
     and enlightenment in Spain, and any Spaniard who is at heart a
     gentleman must be grateful for this service to the Society and
     to its agent. In my opinion, if Spain had maintained the
     customs, character, and opinions that it had three centuries
     ago, it ought to have maintained also unity in religious
     opinions: but that at present the circumstances have changed,
     and the moral character and the advancement of my unfortunate
     country would not lose anything in its purification and
     progress by (the grant of) religious liberty.

     You are saying that I acted very light-mindedly in judging
     Mezzofanti without speaking to him. You know that the other
     time when I was in Italy I had dealings and spoke with him, and
     that I said to you that he had a great facility for speaking
     languages, but that otherwise he was no good. Because I have
     seen him several times in the Papal chapels with a certain air
     of an ass and certain grimaces of a blockhead that cannot
     happen to a man of talent. I am told, moreover, that he is a
     spy, and that for that reason he was given the hat. I know,
     moreover, that he has not written anything at all. For that
     reason I do not wish to take the trouble of seeing him.

     As regards Lanci, I am not saying anything except that I am
     waiting until you have read his work without passion, and that
     if my books have arrived at Madrid, you can ask my brother in

     You are judging of him and of Pahlin in the way you reproach me
     with judging Mezzofanti; I thank you, and I wish for the
     dedication Gabricote; and I also wish for your return to
     Madrid, so that in going to Toledo you would get a copy of
     Aristophanes with the order that will be given to you by my
     brother, who has got it.

     If for the Gabricote or other work you require my clumsy pen,
     write to Florence and send me a rough copy of what is to be
     done, in English or in Spanish, and I will supply the finished
     work. From Florence I intend to go to London, and I should be
     obliged if you would give me letters and instructions that
     would be of use to me in literary matters, but you must know
     that my want of knowledge of _speaking_ English makes it
     necessary that the Englishmen who speak to me should know
     Spanish, French, or Italian.

     As regards robberies, of which you accuse Southern people, from
     the literatures of the North, do you think that the robberies
     committed by the Northerners from the Southern literature would
     be left behind? Erunt vitia donec homines.--Always yours,


Yet another acquaintance of these Spanish days was Baron Taylor--Isidore
Justin Séverin Taylor, to give him his full name--who had a career of
wandering achievement, with Government pay, that must have appealed to
Borrow. Although his father was an Englishman he became a naturalised
Frenchman, and he was for a time in the service of the French Government
as Director of the Théâtre Français, when he had no little share in the
production of the dramas of Victor Hugo and Dumas. Later he was
instrumental in bringing the Luxor obelisk from Egypt to Paris. He wrote
books upon his travels in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.[133] He wandered
all over Europe in search of art treasures for the French Government,
and may very well have met Borrow again and again. Borrow tells us that
he had met Taylor in France, in Russia, and in Ireland, before he met
him in Andalusia, collecting pictures for the French Government.
Borrow's description of their meetings is inimitable:--

     Whenever he descries me, whether in the street or the desert,
     the brilliant hall or amongst Bedouin _haimas_, at Novogorod or
     Stambul, he flings up his arms and exclaims, "_O ciel_! I have
     again the felicity of seeing my cherished and most respectable


The last and most distinguished of Borrow's colleagues while in Spain
was George Villiers, fourth Earl of Clarendon, whom we judge to have
been in private life one of the most lovable men of his epoch. George
Villiers was born in London in 1800, and was the grandson of the first
Earl, Thomas Villiers, who received his title when holding office in
Lord North's administration, but is best known from his association in
diplomacy with Frederick the Great. His grandson was born, as it were,
into diplomacy, and at twenty years of age was an _attaché_ to the
British Embassy in St. Petersburg. Later he was associated with Sir John
Bowring in negotiating a commercial treaty with France. In August 1833
he was sent as British Minister--'envoy extraordinary' he was called--to
Madrid, and he had been two years in that seething-pot of Spanish
affairs, with Christinos and Carlists at one another's throats, when
Borrow arrived in the Peninsula. His influence was the greater with a
succession of Spanish Prime Ministers in that in 1838 he had been
largely instrumental in negotiating the quadruple alliance between
England, France, Spain, and Portugal. In March 1839--exactly a year
before Borrow took his departure--he resigned his position at Madrid,
having then for some months exchanged the title of Sir George Villiers
for that of Earl of Clarendon through the death of his uncle;[135]
Borrow thereafter having to launch his various complaints and grievances
at his successor, Mr.--afterwards Sir George--Jerningham, who, it has
been noted, had his home in Norfolk, at Costessey, four miles from
Norwich. Villiers returned to England with a great reputation, although
his Spanish policy was attacked in the House of Lords. In that same
year, 1839, he joined Lord Melbourne's administration as Lord Privy
Seal, O'Connell at the time declaring that he ought to be made
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, so sympathetic was he towards concession and
conciliation in that then feverishly excited country. This office
actually came to him in 1847, and he was Lord-Lieutenant through that
dark period of Ireland's history, including the Famine, the Young
Ireland rebellion, and the Smith O'Brien rising. He pleased no one in
Ireland. No English statesman could ever have done so under such ideals
of government as England would have tolerated then, and for long years
afterwards. The Whigs defended him, the Tories abused him, in their
respective organs. He left Ireland in 1852 and was more than once
mentioned as possible Prime Minister in the ensuing years. He was
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Lord Aberdeen's Administration
during the Crimean War, and he held the same office under Lord
Palmerston, again under Earl Russell in 1865, and under Mr. Gladstone in
1868. He might easily have become Prime Minister. Greville in his
_Diary_ writes of Prince Albert's desire that he should succeed Lord
John Russell, but Clarendon said that no power on earth would make him
take that position. He said he could not speak, and had not had
parliamentary experience enough. He died in 1870, leaving a reputation
as a skilful diplomatist and a disinterested politician, if not that of
a great statesman. He had twice refused the Governor-Generalship of
India, and three times a marquisate.

Sir George Villiers seems to have been very courteous to Borrow during
the whole of the time they were together in Spain. It would have been
easy for him to have been quite otherwise. Borrow's Bible mission
synchronised with a very delicate diplomatic mission of his own, and in
a measure clashed with it. The government of Spain was at the time
fighting the ultra-clericals. Physical and moral strife were rife in the
land. Neither Royalists nor Carlists could be expected to sympathise
with Borrow's schemes, which were fundamentally to attack their church.
But Villiers was at all times friendly, and, as far as he could be,
helpful. Borrow seems to have had ready access to him, and he answered
his many letters. He gave Borrow an opportunity of an interview with the
formidable Prime Minister Mendizábal, and he interviewed another
minister and persuaded him to permit Borrow to print and circulate his
Bibles. He intervened successfully to release Borrow from his Madrid
prison. But Villiers could not have had any sympathy with Borrow other
than as a British subject to be protected on the Roman citizen
principle. We do not suppose that when _The Bible in Spain_ appeared he
was one of those who were captivated by its extraordinary qualities.
When Borrow crossed his path in later life he received no special
consideration, such as would be given very promptly in our day by a
Cabinet minister to a man of letters of like distinction. We find him on
one occasion writing to the ex-minister, now Lord Clarendon, asking his
help for a consulship. Clarendon replied kindly enough, but sheltered
himself behind the statement that the Prime Minister was overwhelmed
with applications for patronage. Yet Clarendon, who held many high
offices in the following years, might have helped if he had cared to do
so. Some years later--in 1847--there was further correspondence when
Borrow desired to become a Magistrate of Suffolk. Here again Clarendon
wrote three courteous letters, and appears to have done his best in an
unenthusiastic way. But nothing came of it all.


[125] The accounts in _The Bible in Spain_, _The Gypsies of Spain_, and
the _Letters to the Bible Society_.

[126] The only 'Samuel Brandram' in the _Dictionary of National
Biography_ is a reciter who died in 1892; he certainly had less claim to
the distinction than his namesake.

[127] See 'Footprints of George Borrow' by A. G. Jayne in _The Bible in
the World_ for July 1908.

[128] _Excursions along the Shores of the Mediterranean_, by
Lieut.-Colonel E. Napier, vol. ii (Henry Colburn), 1842.

[129] See _Dictionary of National Biography_, vol. xl. pp. 54-55.

[130] A sheepskin jacket with the wool outside, a costume much worn here
in cold weather.

[131] 'pánee' is masculine (marginal note in pencil).

[132] In the folds of the sash is concealed the 'navaja,' or formidable
clasp-knife, always worn by the Spaniard.

[133] His principal work was _Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans
l'ancienne France_.

[134] _The Bible in Spain_, ch. xv.

[135] Many interesting letters from Villiers will be found in _Memoirs
and Memories_, by his niece, Mrs. C. W. Earle, 1911.



Among the many Borrow manuscripts in my possession I find a page of
unusual pathos. It is the inscription that Borrow wrote for his wife's
tomb, and it is in the tremulous handwriting of a man weighed down by
the one incomparable tragedy of life's pilgrimage:

    _Sacred to the Memory of Mary Borrow,
    the Beloved and Affectionate Wife of
    George Borrow, Esquire, who departed
    this Life on the 30th Jan. 1869._

                GEORGE BORROW.

The death of his wife saddened Borrow, and assisted to transform him
into the unamiable creature of Norfolk tradition. But it is well to bear
in mind, when we are considering Borrow on his domestic and personal
side, that he was unquestionably a good and devoted husband throughout
his married life of twenty-nine years. It was in the year 1832 that
Borrow and his wife first met. He was twenty-nine; she was a widow of
thirty-six. She was undeniably very intelligent, and was keenly
sympathetic to the young vagabond of wonderful adventures on the
highways of England, now so ambitious for future adventure in distant
lands. Her maiden name was Mary Skepper. She was one of the two children
of Edmund Skepper and his wife Anne, who lived at Oulton Hall in
Suffolk, whither they had removed from Beceles in 1805. Mary's brother
inherited the Oulton Hall estate of three hundred acres, and she had a
mortgage the interest of which yielded £450 per annum. In July 1817 Mary
married, at Oulton Church, Henry Clarke,[136] a lieutenant in the Navy,
who died eight months later of consumption. Two months after his death
their child Henrietta Mary, the 'Hen' who was Borrow's life companion,
was born. There is a letter among my Borrow Papers addressed to the
widow by her husband's father at this time. It is dated 17th June 1818,
and runs as follows:

     I read your very kind, affectionate, and respectful Letter of
     the 15th Inst. with Feelings of Satisfaction and
     thankfulness--thankful that God has mercifully given you so
     pleasing a Pledge of the Love of my late dear, but lamented
     son, and I most sincerely hope and trust that dear little
     Henrietta will live to be the Joy and Consolation of your Life:
     and satisfyed I am that you are what I always esteemed you to
     be, _one_ of the best of Women; God grant! that you may be, as
     I am sure you deserve to be _one_ of the happiest--His Ways of
     Providence are past finding out; to you--they seem indeed to
     have been truly afflictive: but we cannot possibly say that
     they are really so; we cannot doubt His Wisdom nor ought we to
     distrust His Goodness, let us avow, then, where we have not the
     Power of fathoming--viz. the dispensations of God; in His good
     time He will show us, perhaps, that every painful Event which
     has happened was abundantly for the best--I am truly glad to
     hear that you and the sweet Babe, my little grand Daughter, are
     doing so well, and I hope I shall have the pleasure shortly of
     seeing you either at Oulton or Sisland. I am sorry to add that
     neither Poor L. nor myself are well.--Louisa and my Family join
     me in kind love to you, and in best regards to your worthy
     Father, Mother, and Brother.

Mary Skepper was certainly a bright, intelligent girl, as I gather from
a manuscript poem before me written to a friend on the eve of leaving
school. As a widow, living at first with her parents at Oulton Hall, and
later with her little daughter in the neighbouring cottage, she would
seem to have busied herself with all kinds of philanthropies, and she
was clearly in sympathy with the religious enthusiasms of certain
neighbouring families of Evangelical persuasion, particularly the
Gurneys and the Cunninghams. The Rev. Francis Cunningham was Rector of
Pakefield, near Lowestoft, from 1814 to 1830. He married Richenda, a
sister of the distinguished Joseph John Gurney and of Elizabeth Fry, in
1816. In 1830 he became Vicar of St. Margaret's, Lowestoft. His brother,
John William Cunningham, was Vicar of Harrow, and married a Verney of
the famous Buckinghamshire family. This John William Cunningham was a
great light of the Evangelical Churches of his time, and was for many
years editor of _The Christian Observer_. His daughter Mary Richenda
married Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, the well-known judge, and the
brother of Sir Leslie Stephen. But to return to Francis Cunningham,
whose acquaintance with Borrow was brought about through Mrs. Clarke.
Cunningham was a great supporter of the British and Foreign Bible
Society, and was the founder of the Paris branch. It was speedily
revealed to him that Borrow's linguistic abilities could be utilised by
the Society, and he secured the co-operation of his brother-in-law,
Joseph John Gurney, in an effort to find Borrow work in connection with
the Society. There is a letter of Borrow's to Mrs. Clarke of this period
in my Borrow Papers which my readers will already have read.[137]

We do not meet Mary Clarke again until 1834, when we find a letter from
her to Borrow addressed to St. Petersburg, in which she notifies to him
that he has been 'mentioned at many of the Bible Meetings this year,'
adding that 'dear Mr. Cunningham' had spoken so nicely of him at an
Oulton gathering. 'As I am not afraid of making you proud,' she
continues, 'I will tell you one of his remarks. He mentioned you as one
of the most extraordinary and interesting individuals of the present
day.' Henceforth clearly Mary Clarke corresponded regularly with Borrow,
and one or two extracts from her letters are given by Dr. Knapp. Joseph
Jowett of the Bible Society forwarded Borrow's letters from Russia to
Cunningham, who handed them to Mrs. Clarke and her parents. Borrow had
proposed to continue his mission by leaving Russia for China, but this
Mary Clarke opposed:

     I must tell you that your letter chilled me when I read your
     intention of going as a Missionary or Agent, with the Manchu
     Scriptures in your hand, to the Tartars, that land of
     incalculable dangers.[138]

In 1835 Borrow was back in England at Norwich with his mother, and on a
visit to Mary Clarke and the Skeppers at Oulton. Mrs. Skepper died just
before his arrival in England--that is, in September 1835--while her
husband died in February 1836. Mary Clarke's only brother died in the
following year.[139]

Thus we see Mary Clarke, aged about forty, left to fight the world with
her daughter, aged twenty-three, and not only to fight the world but her
own family, particularly her brother's widow, owing to certain
ambiguities in her father's will which are given forth in dreary detail
in Dr. Knapp's _Life_.[140] It was these legal quarrels that led Mary
Clarke and her daughter to set sail for Spain, where Mary had had the
indefatigable and sympathetic correspondent during the previous year of
trouble. Borrow and Mary Clarke met, as we have seen, at Seville and
there, at a later period, they became 'engaged.' Mrs. Clarke and her
daughter Henrietta sailed for Spain in the _Royal Tar_, leaving London
for Cadiz in June 1839. Much keen correspondence between Borrow and Mrs.
Clarke had passed before the final decision to visit Spain. His mother
was one of the few people who knew of Mrs. Clarke's journey to Seville,
and must have understood, as mothers do, what was pending, although her
son did not When the engagement is announced to her--in November
1839--she writes to Mary Clarke a kindly, affectionate letter:

     I shall now resign him to your care, and may you love and
     cherish him as much as I have done. I hope and trust that each
     will try to make the other happy.

There is no reason whatever to accept Dr. Knapp's suggestion,[141]
strange as coming from so pronounced a hero-worshipper, that Borrow
married for money. And this because he had said in one of his letters,
'It is better to suffer the halter than the yoke,' the kind of thing
that a man might easily say on the eve of making a proposal which he was
not sure would be accepted. Nor can Dr. Knapp's further discovery of a
casual remark of Borrow's--'marriage is by far the best way of getting
possession of an estate'--be counted as conclusive. That Borrow was all
his life devoted to his wife I think is proved by his many letters to
her that are given in this volume, letters, however, which Dr. Knapp had
not seen. Borrow's further tribute to his wife and stepdaughter in _Wild
Wales_ is well known:

     Of my wife I will merely say that she is a perfect paragon of
     wives, can make puddings and sweets and treacle posset, and is
     the best woman of business in Eastern Anglia. Of my
     stepdaughter--for such she is, though I generally call her
     daughter, and with good reason, seeing that she has always
     shown herself a daughter to me--that she has all kinds of good
     qualities, and several accomplishments, knowing something of
     conchology, more of botany, drawing capitally in the Dutch
     style, and playing remarkably well on the guitar--not the
     trumpery German thing so called, but the real Spanish guitar.

Borrow belonged to the type of men who would never marry did not some
woman mercifully take them in hand. Mrs. Clarke, when she set out for
Spain, had doubtless determined to marry Borrow. It is clear that he had
no idea of marrying her. Yet he was certainly 'engaged,' as we learn
from a letter to Mr. Brackenbury, to be given hereafter, when he wrote a
letter from Seville to Mr. Brandram, dated March 18, in which he said:
'I wish very much to spend the remaining years of my life in the
northern parts of China, as I think I have a call to those regions.... I
hope yet to die in the cause of my Redeemer.' Surely never did man take
so curious a view of the responsibilities of marriage. He must have
known that his proposal would be declined--as it was.

Very soon after the engagement Borrow experienced his third term of
imprisonment in Spain, this time, however, only for thirty hours, and
all because he had asked the Alcalde, or mayor of the district in which
he lived, for his passport, and had quarrelled with his worship over the
matter. Borrow gave up the months of this winter of 1839 rather to
writing his first important book, _The Gypsies of Spain_, than to the
concerns of the Bible Society. Finally Borrow, with Mrs. Clarke and her
daughter, sailed from Cadiz on the 3rd April 1840, as we have already
related. He had with him his Jewish servant, Hayim Ben Attar, and his
Arabian horse, Sidi Habismilk, both of which were to astonish the
natives of the Suffolk broads. The party reached London on 16th April
and stayed at the Spread Eagle Inn, Gracechurch Street. The marriage
took place at St. Peter's Church, Cornhill, on 23rd April 1840.


There are only two letters from Mrs. Borrow to her husband extant. Dr.
Knapp apparently discovered none in the Borrow Papers in his possession.
The two before me were written in the Hereford Square days between the
years 1860 and 1869--the last year of Mrs. Borrow's life. The pair had
been married some twenty-five years at least, and it is made clear by
these letters alone that at the end of this period they were still a
most happily assorted couple. Mrs. Borrow must have gone to Brighton for
her health on two separate occasions, each time accompanied by her
daughter. Borrow, who had enjoyed many a pleasant ramble on his own
account, as we shall see--rambles which extended as far away as
Constantinople--is 'keeping house' in Hereford Square, Brompton, the
while. It will be noted that Mrs. Borrow signed herself 'Carreta,' the
pet name that her husband always gave her. Dr. Knapp points out that
'carreta' means a Spanish dray-cart, and that 'carita,' 'my dear,' was
probably meant. But, careless as was the famous word-master over the
spelling of words in the tongues that he never really mastered
scientifically, he could scarcely have made so obvious a blunder as
this, and there must have been some particular experience in the lives
of husband and wife that led to the playful designation.[142] Here are
the two letters:

To George Borrow, Esq.


     MY DARLING HUSBAND,--I am thankful to say that I arrived here
     quite safe on Saturday, and on Wednesday I hope to see you at
     home. We may not be home before the evening about six o'clock,
     sooner or later, so do not be anxious, as we shall be careful.
     We took tea with the Edwards at six o'clock the day I came;
     they are a very kind, nice family. You must take a walk when we
     come home, but remember now we have a young servant, and do not
     leave the house for very long together. The air here is very
     fresh, and much cooler than in London, and I hope after the
     five days' change I shall be benefited, but I wish to come home
     on Wednesday. See to all the doors and windows of a night, and
     let Jane keep up the chain, and lock the back door by the hop
     plant before it gets dark. Our love to Lady Soame.--And with
     our best love to you, believe me, your own


                _Sunday morning, 10 o'clock._

     If I do not hear from you I shall conclude all is well, and you
     may do the same with regard to us. Have the tea ready a little
     before six on Wednesday. Henrietta is wonderfully improved by
     the change, and sends dear and best love to you.

To George Borrow, Esq.

                _Thursday morning_.

     MY DEAR HUSBAND,--As it is raining again this morning I write a
     few lines to you. I cannot think that we have quite so much
     rain as you have at Brompton, for I was out _twice_ yesterday,
     an hour in the morning in a Bath chair, and a little walk in
     the evening on the Marine Parade, and I have been out little or
     much every day, and hope I feel a little better. Our dear
     Henrietta likewise says that she feels the better for the air
     and change. As we are here I think we had better remain till
     Tuesday next, when the fortnight will be up, but I fear you
     feel very lonely. I hope you get out when you can, and that you
     take care of your health. I hope Ellen continues to attend to
     yr. comfort, and that when she gives orders to Mrs. Harvey or
     the Butcher that she shews you what they send. I shall want
     the stair carpets down, and the drawing-room _nice_--blinds and
     shutters closed to prevent the sun, also bed-rooms prepared,
     with well _aired sheets_ and counterpane _by next Tuesday_. I
     suppose we shall get to Hereford Square perhaps about five
     o'clock, but I shall write again. You had better dine at yr.
     usual time, and as we shall get a dinner here we shall want
     only tea.

     Henrietta's kindest dear love and mine, remaining yr. true and
     affectionate wife.


There is one letter from Borrow to his wife, written from London in
1843, in which he says:

     I have not been particularly well since I wrote last; indeed,
     the weather has been so horrible that it is enough to depress
     anybody's spirits, and, of course, mine. I did very wrong not
     to bring you when I came, for without you I cannot get on at
     all. Left to myself a gloom comes upon me which I cannot

Assuredly no reader can peruse the following pages without recognising
the true affection for his wife that is transparent in his letters to
her. Arthur Dalrymple's remark that he had frequently seen Borrow and
his wife travelling:

     He stalking along with a huge cloak wrapped round him in all
     weathers, and she trudging behind him like an Indian squaw,
     with a carpet bag, or bundle, or small portmanteau in her arms,
     and endeavouring under difficulty to keep up with his enormous

is clearly a travesty. 'Mrs. Borrow was devoted to her husband, and
looked after business matters; and he always treated her with exceeding
kindness,' is the verdict of Miss Elizabeth Jay, who was frequently
privileged to visit the husband and wife at Oulton.


[136] All I know of Henry Clarke is contained in two little documents in
my Borrow Papers which run as follows:

'These are to Certify the Principal Officers and Commissioners of H.M.
Navy that Mr. Henry Clarke has Served as Midshipman on board H.M. Ship
_Salvador del Mundo_ under my Command from the 23 September 1810 to the
date hereof, during which time he behaved with Diligence, Sobriety, and
Attention, and was always obedient to Command.

Given under my Hand on board the _Salvador del Mundo_ the 4 April 1811.

JAMES NASH, _Captain_.'

'These are to Certify the Principal Officers and Commissioners of H.M.
Navy that Mr. Henry Clarke has Served as Midshipman on board H.M. Ship
_Tisiphone_ under my Command from the 20th of June 1813 to the date
hereof, during which time he behaved with Diligence, Sobriety, and
Attention, and was always obedient to Command.

Given under my Hand on board the _Tisiphone_ in the Needles passage this
30th day of November 1813.

E. HODDER, _Captain_.'

[137] _Vide supra_, p. 158.

[138] Knapp's _Life_, vol. i. 189.

[139] The tombs in Oulton Churchyard bear the following inscriptions:

(1) Beneath this stone are interred in the same grave the Mortal Remains
of Edmund Skepper, who died Febry. 5th, 1836, aged 69. Also Ann Skepper,
his wife, who died Sept. 15th, 1835, aged 62.

(2) Beneath this stone are interred the Mortal Remains of Breame
Skepper, who died May 22nd, 1837, aged 42, leaving a wife and six
children to lament his severe loss.

(3) Sacred to the Memory of Lieut. Henry Clarke of His Maj.'s Royal
Navy, who departed this life on the 21st of March 1818, aged 25 years,
leaving a firmly attached widow and an infant daughter to lament his
irreparable loss.

A further tomb commemorates the mother of George Borrow, whose epitaph
is given elsewhere.

[140] The following document in Henrietta's handwriting is among my
Borrow Papers:

'When my Grandfather died he owed a mortgage of £5000 on the Oulton Hall
estate--to a Mrs. Purdy.

'At my Grandfather's death my Mother applied to her Brother for the
money left to her and also the money left--beside the money owed to her
daughter which is also mentioned in the Will. She was refused both, and
told moreover that neither the money nor the interest would be paid to

'My Mother and I were living at the Cottage since the funeral of my
Grandfather--the Skeppers removed to the Hall. The Estate was to be
sold--and my Mother and myself were to be paid. 'My Mother mentioned
this to her solicitor, who hastened back to Norwich and got £5000--which
he carried to the old lady, Mrs. Purdy, next day and paid off the
mortgage. My Mother then was mortgagee in possession--after which she
let the place for what she could get--this accounts for the whole affair
and the whole confusion.

'My Mother was a Widow at this time and remained so for some time
after--consequently all transactions took place with her and not with
Mr. Borrow--she being afterwards married to Mr. Borrow without a

'After this, in 1844, the place was again put up by public auction and
bought in by Mr. Borrow and my Mother.'

[141] Knapp's _Life_, vol. i. pp. 330, 331.

[142] The following suggestion has, however, been made to me by a friend
of Henrietta MacOubrey _née_ Clarke:

'I think Borrow intended "Carreta" for "dearest," It is impossible to
think that he would call his wife a "cart." Perhaps he intended
"Carreta" for "Querida." Probably their pronunciation was not
Castillian, and they spelled the word as they pronounced it. In speaking
of her to "Hen." Borrow always called her "Mamma." Mrs. MacOubrey took a
great fancy to me because she said I was like "Mamma." She meant in
character, not in person.'

[143] Dr. Knapp: _Life_, vol. ii p. 39.



Behold George Borrow, then, in a comfortable home on the banks of Oulton
Broad--a family man. His mother--sensible woman--declines her son's
invitation to live with the newly-married pair. She remains in the
cottage at Norwich where her husband died. The Borrows were married in
April 1840, by May they had settled at Oulton. It was a pleasantly
secluded estate, and Borrow's wife had £450 a year. He had, a month
before his marriage, written to Mr. Brandram to say that he had a work
nearly ready for publication, and 'two others in a state of
forwardness.' The title of the first of these books he enclosed in his
letter. It was _The Zincali: Or an Account of the Gypsies of Spain_. Mr.
Samuel Smiles, in his history of the House of Murray--_A Publisher and
his Friends_--thus relates the circumstances of its publication:--

     In November 1840 a tall, athletic gentleman in black called
     upon Mr. Murray offering a MS. for perusal and publication....
     Mr. Murray could not fail to be taken at first sight with this
     extraordinary man. He had a splendid physique, standing six
     feet two in his stockings, and he had brains as well as
     muscles, as his works sufficiently show. The book now submitted
     was of a very uncommon character, and neither the author nor
     the publisher were very sanguine about its success. Mr. Murray
     agreed, after perusal, to print and publish 750 copies of _The
     Gypsies of Spain_, and divide the profits with the author.

It was at the suggestion of Richard Ford, then the greatest living
English authority on Spain, that Mr. Murray published the book. It did
not really commence to sell until _The Bible in Spain_ came a year or so
later to bring the author reputation.[144] From November 1840 to June
1841 only three hundred copies had been sold in spite of friendly
reviews in some half dozen journals, including _The Athenæum_ and _The
Literary Gazette_. The first edition, it may be mentioned, contained on
its title-page a description of the author as 'late agent of the British
and Foreign Bible Society in Spain.'[145] There is very marked
compression in the edition now in circulation, and a perusal of the
first edition reveals many interesting features that deserve to be
restored for the benefit of the curious. But nothing can make _The
Zincali_ a great piece of literature. It was summarised by the
_Edinburgh Review_ at the time as 'a hotch-potch of the jockey, tramper,
philologist, and missionary.' That description, which was not intended
to be as flattering as it sounds to-day, appears more to apply to _The
Bible in Spain_. But _The Zincali_ is too confused, too ill-arranged a
book to rank with Borrow's four great works. There are passages in it,
indeed, so eloquent, so romantic, that no lover of Borrow's writings can
afford to neglect them. But this was not the book that gypsy-loving
Borrow, with the temperament of a Romany, should have written, or could
have written had he not been obsessed by the 'science' of his subject.
His real work in gypsydom was to appear later in _Lavengro_ and _The
Romany Rye_. For Borrow was not a man of science--a philologist, a
folk-lorist of the first order.

No one, indeed, who had read only _The Zincali_ among Borrow's works
could see in it any suspicion of the writer who was for all time to
throw a glamour over the gypsy, to make the 'children of the open air' a
veritable cult, to earn for him the title of 'the walking lord of gypsy
lore,' and to lay the foundations of an admirable succession of books
both in fact and fiction--but not one as great as his own. The city of
Seville, it is clear, with sarcastic letters from Bible Society
secretaries on one side, and some manner of love romance on the other,
was not so good a place for an author to produce a real book as Oulton
was to become. Richard Ford hit the nail on the head when he said with
quite wonderful prescience:

     How I wish you had given us more about yourself, instead of the
     extracts from those blunder-headed old Spaniards, who knew
     nothing about gypsies! I shall give you the _rap_, on that, and
     a hint to publish your whole adventures for the last twenty

Henceforth Borrow was to write about himself and to become a great
author in consequence. For in writing about himself as in _Lavengro_ and
_The Romany Rye_ he was to write exactly as he felt about the gypsies,
and to throw over them the glamour of his own point of view, the view of
a man who loved the broad highway and those who sojourned upon it. In
_The Gypsies of Spain_ we have a conventional estimate of the gypsies.
'There can be no doubt that they are human beings and have immortal
souls,' he says, even as if he were writing a letter to the Bible
Society. All his anecdotes about the gypsies are unfavourable to them,
suggestive only of them as knaves and cheats. From these pictures it is
a far cry to the creation of Jasper Petulengro and Isopel Berners. The
most noteworthy figure in _The Zincali_ is the gypsy soldier of
Valdepeñas, an unholy rascal. 'To lie, to steal, to shed human
blood'--these are the most marked characteristics with which Borrow
endows the gypsies of Spain. 'Abject and vile as they have ever been,
the gitános have nevertheless found admirers in Spain,' says the author
who came to be popularly recognised as the most enthusiastic admirer of
the gypsies in Spain and elsewhere. Read to-day by the lover of Borrow's
other books _The Zincali_ will be pronounced a readable collection of
anecdotes, interspersed with much dull matter, with here and there a
piece of admirable writing. But the book would scarcely have lived had
it not been followed by four works of so fine an individuality. Well
might Ford ask Borrow for more about himself and less of the extracts
from 'blunder-headed old Spaniards.' When Borrow came to write about
himself he revealed his real kindness for the gypsy folk. He gave us
Jasper Petulengro and the incomparable description of 'the wind on the
heath.' He kindled the imagination of men, proclaimed the joys of
vagabondage in a manner that thrilled many hearts. He had some
predecessors and many successors, but 'none could then, or can ever
again,' says the biographer of a later Rye, 'see or hear of Romanies
without thinking of Borrow.'[147] In her biography of one of these
successors in gypsy lore, Charles Godfrey Leland, Mrs. Pennell discusses
the probability that Borrow and Leland met in the British Museum. That
is admitted in a letter from Leland to Borrow in my possession. To this
letter Borrow made no reply. It was wrong of him. But he was then--in
1873--a prematurely old man, worn out and saddened by neglect and a
sense of literary failure. For this and for the other vagaries of those
latter years Borrow will not be judged harshly by those who read his
story here. Nothing could be more courteous than Borrow's one letter to
Leland, written in the failing handwriting--once so excellent--of the
last sad decade of his life:


                22 HEREFORD SQUARE, BROMPTON, _Nov. 2, 1871._

     SIR,--I have received your letter and am gratified by the
     desire you express to make my acquaintance. Whenever you please
     to come I shall be happy to see you.--Yours truly,

                GEORGE BORROW.[148]

The meeting did not, through Leland's absence from London, then take
place. Two years later it was another story. The failing powers were
more noteworthy. Borrow was by this time dead to the world, as the
documents before me abundantly testify. It is not, therefore, necessary
to assume, as Leland's friends have all done, that Borrow never replied
because he was on the eve of publishing a book of his own about the
gypsies. There seems no reason to assume, as Dr. Knapp does and as
Leland does, that this was the reason for the unanswered letter:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                LANGHAM HOTEL, PORTLAND PLACE, _March 31st, 1873._

     DEAR SIR,--I sincerely trust that the limited extent of our
     acquaintanceship will not cause this note to seem to you too
     presuming. _Breviter_, I have thrown the results of my
     observations among English gypsies into a very unpretending
     little volume consisting almost entirely of facts gathered from
     the Romany, without any theory. As I owe all my interest in the
     subject to your writings, and as I am sincerely grateful to you
     for the impulse which they gave me, I should like very much to
     dedicate my book to you. Of course if your kindness permits I
     shall submit the proofs to you, that you may judge whether the
     work deserves the honour. I should have sent you the MS., but
     not long after our meeting at the British Museum I left for
     Egypt, whence I have very recently returned, to find my
     publisher clamorous for the promised copy.

     It is _not_--God knows--a mean and selfish desire to help my
     book by giving it the authority of your name, which induces
     this request. But I am earnestly desirous for my conscience'
     sake to publish nothing in the Romany which shall not be true
     and sensible, even as all that you have written is true and
     sensible. Therefore, _should_ you take the pains to glance over
     my proof, I should be grateful if you would signify to me any
     differences of opinion should there be ground for any. Dr. A.
     F. Pott in his _Zigeuner_ (vol. ii. p. 224), intimates very
     decidedly that you took the word _shastr_ (Exhastra de Moyses)
     from Sanskrit and put it into Romany; declaring that it would
     be very important if _shaster_ were Romany. I mention in my
     book that English gypsies call the New Testament (also any MS.)
     a _shaster_, and that a betting-book on a racecourse is called
     a _shaster_ 'because it is written.' I do not pretend in my
     book to such deep Romany as you have achieved--all that I claim
     is to have collected certain words, facts, phrases, etc., out
     of the Romany of the roads--corrupt as it is--as I have found
     it to-day. I deal only with the gypsy of the _Decadence_. With
     renewed apology for intrusion should it seem such, I remain,
     yours very respectfully,

                CHARLES G. LELAND.

Francis Hindes Groome remarked when reviewing Borrow's _Word Book_ in
1874,[149] that when _The Gypsies of Spain_ was published in 1841 'there
were not two educated men in England who possessed the slightest
knowledge of Romany.' In the intervening thirty-three years all this was
changed. There was an army of gypsy scholars or scholar gypsies of whom
Leland was one, Hindes Groome another, and Professor E. H. Palmer a
third, to say nothing of many scholars and students of Romany in other
lands. Not one of them seemed when Borrow published his _Word Book of
the Romany_ to see that he was the only man of genius among them. They
only saw that he was an inferior philologist to them all. And so Borrow,
who prided himself on things that he could do indifferently quite as
much as upon things that he could do well, suffered once again, as he
was so often doomed to suffer, from the lack of appreciation which was
all in all to him, and his career went out in a veritable blizzard. He
published nothing after his _Romano Lavo-Lil_ appeared in 1874.[150] He
was then indeed a broken and a bitter man, with no further interest in
life. Dedications of books to him interested him not at all. In any
other mood, or a few years earlier, Leland's book, _The English
Gypsies_,[151] would have gladdened his heart. In his preface Leland
expresses 'the highest respect for the labours of Mr. George Borrow in
this field,' he quotes Borrow continually and with sympathy, and renders
him honour as a philologist, that has usually been withheld. 'To Mr.
Borrow is due the discovery that the word _Jockey_ is of gypsy origin
and derived from _chuckiri_, which means a whip,' and he credits Borrow
with the discovery of the origin of 'tanner' for sixpence; he vindicates
him as against Dr. A. F. Pott,--a prince among students of gypsydom--of
being the first to discover that the English gypsies call the Bible the
_Shaster_. But there is a wealth of scientific detail in Leland's books
that is not to be found in Borrow's, as also there is in Francis Hindes
Groome's works. What had Borrow to do with science? He could not even
give the word 'Rúmani' its accent, and called it 'Romany.' He 'quietly
appropriated,' says Groome, 'Bright's Spanish gypsy words for his own
work, mistakes and all, without one word of recognition. I think one
has the ancient impostor there.'[152] 'His knowledge of the strange
history of the gypsies was very elementary, of their manners almost more
so, and of their folk-lore practically _nil_,' says Groome
elsewhere.[153] Yet Mr. Hindes Groome readily acknowledges that Borrow
is above all writers on the gypsies. 'He communicates a subtle insight
into gypsydom'--that is the very essence of the matter.[154] Controversy
will continue in the future as in the present as to whether the gypsies
are all that Borrow thought them. Perhaps 'corruption has crept in among
them' as it did with the prize-fighters. They have intermarried with the
gorgios, thrown over their ancient customs, lost all their picturesque
qualities, it may be. But Borrow has preserved in literature for all
time, as not one of the philologists and folk-lore students has done, a
remarkable type of people. But this is not to be found in his first
original work, _The Zincali_, nor in his last, _The Romano Lavo-Lil_.
This glamour is to be found in _Lavengro_ and _The Romany Rye_, to which
books we shall come in due course. Here we need only refer to the fact
that Borrow had loved the gypsies all his life--from his boyish meeting
with Petulengro until in advancing years the prototype of that wonderful
creation of his imagination--for this the Petulengro of _Lavengro_
undoubtedly was--came to visit him at Oulton. Well might Leland call him
'the Nestor of Gypsydom.'

We find the following letter to Dr. Bowring accompanying a copy of _The

To Dr. John Bowring.

                58 JERMYN STREET, ST. JAMES, _April 14, 1841._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I have sent you a copy of my work by the mail. If
     you could contrive to notice it some way or other I should feel
     much obliged. Murray has already sent copies to all the
     journals. It is needless to tell you that despatch in these
     matters is very important, the first blow is everything. Lord
     Clarendon is out of town. So I must send him his presentation
     copy through Murray, and then write to him. I am very unwell,
     and must go home. My address is George Borrow, Oulton Hall,
     Oulton, Lowestoft, Suffolk. Your obedient servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.

Two years later we find Borrow writing to an unknown correspondent upon
a phase of folk-lore:

                OULTON, LOWESTOFT, SUFFOLK, _August 11, 1843._

     MY DEAR SIR,--Many thanks for your interesting and kind letter
     in which you do me the honour to ask my opinion respecting the
     pedigree of your island goblin, le feu follet Belenger; that
     opinion I cheerfully give with a premise that it is only an
     opinion; in hunting for the etymons of these fairy names we can
     scarcely expect to arrive at anything like certainty.

     I suppose you are aware that the name of Bilenger or Billinger
     is of occasional though by no means of frequent occurrence both
     in England and France. I have seen it; you have heard of
     Billings-gate and of Billingham, the unfortunate assassin of
     poor Percival,--all modifications of the same root; Belingart,
     Bilings home or Billing ston. But what is Billin-ger? Clearly
     that which is connected in some way or other with Billing. You
     will find _ger_, or something like it, in most
     European-tongues--Boulan_ger_, horolo_ger_, tal_ker_, walk_er_,
     ba_ker_, bre_wer_, beg_gar_. In Welsh it is of frequent
     occurrence in the shape of _ur_ or _gwr_--hen_ur_ (an eld_er_),
     her_wr_ (a prow_ler_); in Russian the ger, gwr, ur, er, appears
     in the shape of _ik_ or _k_--sapojgn_ik_, a shoema_ker_,
     Chinobu_ik_, a man possessed of rank. The root of all these, as
     well as of _or_ in senator, victor, etc., is the Sanscrit _ker_
     or _kir_, which means lord, master, maker, doer, possessor of
     something or connected with something.

     We want now to come at the meaning of Beling or Billing, which
     probably means some action, or some moral or personal
     attribute; Bolvile in Anglo-Saxon means honest, Danish Bollig;
     Wallen, in German, to wanken or move restlessly about; Baylan,
     in Spanish, to dance (Ball? Ballet?), connected with which are
     to whirl, to fling, and possibly Belinger therefore may mean a
     Billiger or honest fellow, or it may mean a Walter_ger_, a
     whirl_enger_, a flinger, or something connected with restless

     Allow me to draw your attention to the word 'Will' in the
     English word will-o-the-wisp; it must not be supposed that this
     Will is the abbreviation of William; it is pure Danish,
     'Vild'--pronounced will,--and signifies wild; Vilden Visk, the
     wild or moving wisp. I can adduce another instance of the
     corruption of the Danish vild into will: the rustics of this
     part of England are in the habit of saying 'they are led will'
     (vild or wild) when from intoxication or some other cause they
     are bewildered at night and cannot find their way home. This
     expression is clearly from the old Norse or Danish. I am not at
     all certain that 'Bil' in Bilinger may not be this same will or
     vild, and that the word may not be a corruption of vilden, old
     or elder, wild or flying fire. It has likewise occurred to me
     that Bilinger may be derived from 'Volundr,' the worship of the
     blacksmith or Northern Vulcan. Your obedient servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.


[144] There were 750 copies of the first edition of _The Zincali_ in two
vols. in 1841. 750 of the second edition in 1843, and a third issue of
750 in the same year. A fourth edition of 7,500 copies appeared in the
cheap Home and Colonial Library in 1846, and there was a fifth edition
of 1000 copies in 1870. These were all the editions published in England
during Borrow's lifetime. Dr. Knapp traced three American editions
during the same period.

[145] _The Zincali; or an Account of the Gypsies of Spain_. With an
original collection of their songs and poetry, and a copious dictionary
of their language. By George Borrow, Late Agent of the British and
Foreign Bible Society in Spain. '_For that which is unclean by nature,
thou canst entertain no hope; no washing will turn the gypsy
white_.'--Ferdousi. In two volumes. London: John Murray, Albemarle
Street, 1841.

[146] Knapp's _Life_, vol. i. p. 378.

[147] Mrs. Pennell. See _Charles Godfrey Leland: a Biography_, by
Elizabeth Robins Pennell. 2 vols. 1906.

[148] Given in Mrs. Pennell's _Leland: a Biography_, vol. ii. pp. 142-3.
The letter to which it is a reply is given in Knapp's _Borrow_, vol. ii.
pp. 228-9.

[149] _The Academy_, June 13, 1874.

[150] _Romano Lavo-Lil: Word Book of the Romany; or, English Gypsy
Language_. By George Borrow. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street,

[151] Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) better known as 'Hans
Breitmann' of the popular ballads, was born in Philadelphia and died in
Florence. He was always known among his friends as 'The Rye,' in
consequence of his enthusiasm for the gypsies concerning whom he wrote
four books, the best known being: _The English Gypsies and their
Language_, by Charles G. Leland: Trübner. _The Gypsies_, by Charles G.
Leland: Trübner.

[152] See Groome's _In Gipsy Tents_ (W. P. Nimmo, 1880), and _Gipsy
Folk-Tales_ (Hurst & Blackett, 1899). Francis Hindes Groome (1851-1902),
whom it was my privilege to know, was the son of Archdeacon Groome, the
friend of Edward FitzGerald. He was the greatest English authority of
his time on gypsy language and folk-lore. He celebrated his father's
friendship with the paraphraser of Omar Khayyám in _Two Suffolk
Friends_, 1895, and wrote a good novel of gypsydom in _Kriegspiel_,
1896. He also edited an edition of _Lavengro_ (Methuen), 1901.

[153] Groome to Leland in _Charles Godfrey Leland: a Biography_, by E.
R. Pennell, vol. ii. p. 141.

[154] Introduction to _Lavengro_ (Methuen), 1901.



In an admirable appreciation of our author, the one in which he gives
the oft-quoted eulogy concerning him as 'the delightful, the bewitching,
the never-sufficiently-to-be-praised George Borrow,' Mr. Birrell records
the solace that may be found by small boys in the ambiguities of a
title-page, or at least might have been found in it in his youth and in
mine. In those days in certain Puritan circles a very strong line was
drawn between what was known as Sunday reading, and reading that might
be permitted on week-days. The Sunday book must have a religious
flavour. There were magazines with that particular flavour, every story
in them having a pious moral withal. Very closely watched and
scrutinised was the reading of young people in those days and in those
circles. Mr. Birrell, doubtless, speaks from autobiographical memories
when he tells us of a small boy with whose friends _The Bible in Spain_
passed muster on the strength of its title-page. For Mr. Birrell is the
son of a venerated Nonconformist minister; and perhaps he, or at least
those who were of his household, had this religious idiosyncrasy. It may
be that the distinction which pervaded the evangelical circles of Mr.
Birrell's youth as to what were Sunday books, as distinct from books to
be read on week-days, has disappeared. In any case think of the
advantage of the boy of that generation who was able to handle a book
with so unexceptionable a title as _The Bible in Spain_. His elders
would succumb at once, particularly if the boy had the good sense to
call their attention to the sub-title--'The Journeys, Adventures, and
Imprisonments of an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures
in the Peninsula.' Nothing could be said by the most devout of seniors
against so prepossessing a title-page.[155] But what of the boy who had
thus passed the censorship? What a revelation of adventure was open to
him! Perhaps he would skip the 'preachy' parts in which Borrow was
doubtless sincere, although the sincerity has so uncertain a ring
to-day. Here are five passages, for example, which do not seem to belong
to the book:

     In whatever part of the world I, a poor wanderer in the
     Gospel's cause, may chance to be

       *       *       *       *       *

     very possibly the fate of St. Stephen might overtake me; but
     does the man deserve the name of a follower of Christ who would
     shrink from danger of any kind in the cause of Him whom he
     calls his Master? 'He who loses his life for my sake shall find
     it,' are words which the Lord Himself uttered. These words were
     fraught with consolation to me, as they doubtless are to every
     one engaged in propagating the Gospel, in sincerity of heart,
     in savage and barbarian lands.

       *       *       *       *       *

     Unhappy land! not until the pure light of the Gospel has
     illumined thee, wilt thou learn that the greatest of all gifts
     is charity!

       *       *       *       *       *

     and I thought that to convey the Gospel to a place so wild and
     remote might perhaps be considered an acceptable pilgrimage in
     the eyes of my Maker. True it is that but one copy remained of
     those which I had brought with me on this last journey; but
     this reflection, far from discouraging me in my projected
     enterprise, produced the contrary effect, as I called to mind
     that, ever since the Lord revealed Himself to man, it has
     seemed good to Him to accomplish the greatest ends by
     apparently the most insufficient means; and I reflected that
     this one copy might serve as an instrument for more good than
     the four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine copies of the
     edition of Madrid.

       *       *       *       *       *

     I shall not detain the course of my narrative with reflections
     as to the state of a Church which, though it pretends to be
     founded on scripture, would yet keep the light of scripture
     from all mankind, if possible. But Rome is fully aware that she
     is not a Christian Church, and having no desire to become so,
     she acts prudently in keeping from the eyes of her followers
     the page which would reveal to them the truths of Christianity.

All this does not ring quite true, and in any case it is too much on the
lines of 'Sunday reading' to please the small boy, who must, however,
have found a thousand things in that volume that were to his taste--some
of the wildest adventures, hairbreadth escapes, extraordinary meetings
again and again with unique people--with Benedict Mol, for example, who
was always seeking for treasure. Gypsies, bull-fighters, quaint and
queer characters of every kind, come before us in rapid succession.
Rarely, surely, have so many adventures been crowded into the same
number of pages. Only when Borrow remembers, as he has to do
occasionally, that he is an agent of the Bible Society does the book
lose its vigour and its charm. We have already pointed out that the
foundations of the volume were contained in certain letters written by
Borrow during his five years in Spain to the secretaries of the Bible
Society in London. The recent publication of these letters has revealed
to us Borrow's methods. When he had settled down at Oulton he took down
his notebooks, one of which is before me, but finding this was not
sufficient, he asked the Bible Society for the loan of his letters to
them.[156] Other letters that he hoped to use were not forthcoming, as
the following note from Miss Gurney to Mrs. Borrow indicates:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                EARLHAM, _12th June 1840._

     DEAR MRS. BORROW,--I am sorry I cannot find any of Mr. Borrow's
     letters from Spain. I don't think we ever had any, but my
     brother is from home and I therefore cannot inquire of him. I
     send you the only two I can find. I am very glad he is going to
     publish his travels, which I have no doubt will be very
     interesting. It must be a pleasant object to assist him by
     copying the manuscripts. If I should visit Lowestoft this
     summer I shall hope to see you, but I have no immediate
     prospect of doing so. With kind regards to all your party, I
     am, Dear Mrs. Borrow, Yours sincerely,

                C. GURNEY.[157]

The Bible Society applied to in the same manner lent Borrow all his
letters to that organisation and its secretaries. Not all were returned.
Many came to Dr. Knapp when he purchased the half of the Borrow papers
that were sold after Borrow's death; the remainder are in my possession.
It is a nice point, seventy years after they were written, as to whom
they belong. In any case the Bible Society must have kept copies of
everything, for when, in 1911, they came to publish the _Letters_[158]
the collection was sufficiently complete. That publication revealed some
interesting sidelights. It proved on the one hand that Borrow had drawn
more upon his diaries than upon his letters, although he frequently
reproduced fragments of his diaries in his letters. It revealed further
the extraordinary frankness with which Borrow wrote to his employers.
But the main point is in the discovery revealed to us that Borrow was
not an artist in his letters. Borrow was never a good letter writer,
although I think that many of the letters that appear for the first
time in these pages will prove that his letters are very interesting as
contributions to biography. If some of the letters that helped to make
up _The Bible in Spain_ are interesting, it is because in them Borrow
incorporated considerable fragments of anecdote and adventure from his
notebooks. It is quite a mistake to assume, as does Dr. Knapp, that the
'Rev. and Dear Sir' at the head of a letter was the only variation. You
will look in vain in the Bible Society correspondence for many a pearl
that is contained in _The Bible in Spain_, and you will look in vain in
_The Bible in Spain_ for many a sentence which concludes some of the
original letters. In one case, indeed, a letter concludes with Heber's

    'From Greenland's Icy Mountains,'

with which Borrow's correspondent must already have been sufficiently
familiar. But Borrow could not be other than Borrow, and the secretaries
of the Bible Society had plentiful matter with which to astonish them.
The finished production, however, is a fascinating book. You read it
again and it becomes still more entertaining. No wonder that it took the
world by storm and made its author the lion of a season. 'A queer book
will be this same _Bible in Spain_,' wrote Borrow to John Murray in
August 1841, 'containing all my queer adventures in that queer country
... it will make two nice foolscap octavo volumes.'[159] It actually
made three volumes, and Borrow was as irritated at Mr. Murray's delay in
publishing as that publisher afterwards became at Borrow's own delay
over _Lavengro_. The whole book was laboriously copied out by Mrs.
Borrow. When this copy was sent to Mr. Murray, it was submitted to his
'reader,' who reported 'numerous faults in spelling and some in
grammar,' to which criticism Borrow retorted that the copy was the work
of 'a country amanuensis.' The book was published in December 1842, but
has the date 1843 on its title-page.[160] In its three-volumed form 4750
copies of the book were issued by July 1843, after which countless
copies were sold in cheaper one-volumed form. Success had at last come
to Borrow. He was one of the most talked-of writers of the day. His
elation may be demonstrated by his discussion with Dawson Turner as to
whether he should leave the manuscript of _The Bible in Spain_ to the
Dean and Chapter's Library at Norwich or to the British Museum, by his
gratification at the fact that Sir Robert Peel referred to his book in
the House of Commons, and by his pleasure in the many appreciative
reviews which, indeed, were for the most part all that an ambitious
author could desire. 'Never,' said _The Examiner_, 'was book more
legibly impressed with the unmistakable mark of genius.' 'There is no
taking leave of a book like this,' said the _Athenæum_. 'Better
Christmas fare we have never had it in our power to offer our readers.'

[Illustration: A SHEKEL

given to Borrow by Hasfeld, his Danish friend, as a talisman when they
parted at St. Petersburg. In _The Bible in Spain_ Borrow relates that he
showed this shekel at Gibraltar to a Jew, who exclaimed, 'Brothers,
witness, these are the letters of Solomon. This silver is blessed. We
must kiss this money.']

The publication of _The Bible in Spain_ made Borrow famous for a time.
Hitherto he had been known only to a small religious community, the
coterie that ran the Bible Society. Even the large mass of people who
subscribed to that Society knew its agent in Spain only by meagre
allusions in the Annual Reports. Now the world was to talk about him,
and he enjoyed being talked about. Borrow declared--in 1842--that the
five years he passed in Spain were the most happy years of his
existence. But then he had not had a happy life during the previous
years, as we have seen, and in Russia he had a toilsome task with an
added element of uncertainty as to the permanence of his position. The
five years in Spain had plentiful adventure, and they closed in a
pleasant manner. Yet the year that followed, even though it found him
almost a country squire, was not a happy one. Once again the world did
not want him and his books--not the _Gypsies of Spain_ for example.
Seven weeks after publication it had sold only to the extent of some
three hundred copies.[161] But the happiest year of Borrow's life was
undoubtedly the one that followed the publication of _The Bible in
Spain_. Up to that time he had been a mere adventurer; now he was that
most joyous of beings--a successful author; and here, from among his
Papers, is a carefully preserved relic of his social triumph:

To George Borrow, Esq., at Mr. Murray's, Bookseller, Albemarle Street.

                4 CARLTON TERRACE, _Tuesday, 30th May._

     The Prussian Minister and Madam Bunsen would be very happy to
     see Mr. Borrow to-morrow, Wednesday evening, about half past
     nine o'clock or later, when some German national songs will be
     performed at their house, which may possibly suit Mr. Borrow's
     taste. They hoped to have met him last night at the Bishop of
     Norwich's, but arrived there too late. They had already
     commissioned Lady Hall (sister to Madam Bunsen) to express to
     Mr. Borrow their wish for his acquaintance.

In a letter to his wife, of which a few lines are printed in Dr. Knapp's
book, he also writes of this visit to the Prussian Minister, where he
had for company 'Princes and Members of Parliament.' 'I was the star of
the evening,' he says; 'I thought to myself, "what a difference!"'[162]
The following letter is in a more sober key:

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Suffolk.

                _Wednesday_, 58 JERMYN STREET.

     DEAR CARRETA,--I was glad to receive your letter; I half
     expected one on Tuesday. I am, on the whole, very comfortable,
     and people are kind. I passed last Sunday at Clapham with Mrs.
     Browne; I was glad to go there for it was a gloomy day. They
     are now glad enough to ask me: I suppose I must stay in London
     through next week. I have an invitation to two grand parties,
     and it is as well to have something for one's money. I called
     at the Bible Society--all remarkably civil, Joseph especially
     so. I think I shall be able to manage with my own Dictionary.
     There is now a great demand for Morrison. Yesterday I again
     dined at the Murrays. There was a family party; very pleasant.
     To-morrow I dine with an old schoolfellow. Murray is talking of
     printing a new edition to sell for five shillings: those
     rascals, the Americans, have, it seems, reprinted it, and are
     selling it for _eighteen_ pence. Murray says he shall print ten
     thousand copies; it is chiefly wanted for the Colonies. He says
     the rich people and the libraries have already got it, and he
     is quite right, for nearly three thousand copies have been sold
     at 27s.[163] There is no longer the high profit to be made on
     books there formerly was, as the rascals abroad pirate the good
     ones, and in the present state of copyright there is no help;
     we can, however, keep the American edition out of the Colonies,
     which is something. I have nothing more to say save to commend
     you not to go on the water without me; perhaps you would be
     overset; and do not go on the bridge again till I come. Take
     care of Habismilk and Craffs; kiss the little mare and old Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

The earliest literary efforts of Borrow in Spain were his two
translations of St. Luke's Gospel--the one into Romany, the other into
Basque. This last book he did not actually translate himself, but
procured 'from a Basque physician of the name of Oteiza.'





[155] Yet one critic of Borrow--Jane H. Findlater, in the _Cornhill
Magazine_, November 1899--actually says that '_The Bible in Spain_ was
perhaps the most ill-advised title that a well-written book ever
laboured under, giving, as it does, the idea that the book is a
prolonged tract.'

[156] Borrow had really written a great deal of the book in Spain. The
'notebook' contained many of his adventures, and moreover on August 20,
1836, the _Athenæum_, published two long letters from him under the
title of 'The Gypsies in Russia and in Spain,' opening with the
following preliminary announcement:

We have been obligingly favoured with the following extracts from
letters of an intelligent gentleman, whose literary labours, the least
important of his life, we not long since highly praised, but whose name
we are not at liberty, on this occasion, to make public. They contain
some curious and interesting facts relating to the condition of this
peculiar people in very distant countries.

The first letter is dated September 23, 1835, and gives an account of
his experiences with the gypsies in Russia. The whole of this account he
incorporated in _The Gypsies of Spain_. Following this there are two
columns, dated Madrid, July 19, 1836, in which he gives an account of
the gypsies in Spain. All the episodes that he relates he incorporated
in _The Bible in Spain_. The two letters so plainly indicate that all
the time Borrow was in Spain his mind was more filled with the subject
of the gypsies than with any other question. He did his work well for
the Bible Society no doubt, and gave them their money's worth, but there
is a humorous note in the fact that Borrow should have utilised his
position as a missionary--for so we must count him--to make himself so
thoroughly acquainted with gypsy folklore and gypsy songs and dances as
these two fragments by an 'intelligent gentleman' imply. It is not
strange that under the circumstances Borrow did not wish that his name
should be made public.

[157] This was Miss Catherine Gurney, who was born in 1776, in Magdalen
Street, Norwich, and died at Lowestoft in 1850, aged seventy-five. She
twice presided over the Earlham home. The brother referred to was Joseph
John Gurney.

[158] _Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible
Society_. Published by direction of the Committee. Edited by T. H.
Darlow. Hodder and Stoughton, 1911.

[159] Samuel Smiles: _A Publisher and his Friends_, vol. ii. p. 485.

[160] _The Bible in Spain; or The Journeys, Adventures, and
Imprisonments of an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures
in the Peninsula_. By George Borrow, author of _The Gypsies of Spain_.
In three volumes. London: John Murray, Albemarle St., 1843.

[161] Herbert Jenkins: _Life_, p. 341.

[162] Knapp's _Life_, vol. i. p. 398. In the _Annals of the Harford
Family_, edited by Alice Harford (Westminster Press, 1909), there is an
account of this gathering in a letter from J. Harford-Battersby to
Louisa Harford. There was present 'the amusing author of _The Bible in
Spain_, a man who is remarkable for his extraordinary powers as a
linguist, and for the originality of his character, not to speak of the
wonderful adventures he narrates, and the ease and facility with which
he tells them. He kept us laughing a good part of breakfast time by the
oddity of his remarks, as well as the positiveness of his assertions,
often rather startling, and, like his books, partaking of the

[163] 4750 copies were sold in the three volume form in 1843, and a
sixth and cheaper edition the same year sold 9000 copies.



The most distinguished of Borrow's friends in the years that succeeded
his return from Spain was Richard Ford, whose interests were so largely
wrapped-up in the story of that country. Ford was possessed of a very
interesting personality, which was not revealed to the public until Mr.
Rowland E. Prothero issued his excellent biography[164] in 1905,
although Ford died in 1858. This delay is the more astonishing as Ford's
_Handbook for Travellers in Spain_ was one of the most famous books of
its day. Ford's father, Sir Richard Ford, was a friend of William Pitt,
and twice sat in Parliament, being at one time Under-Secretary of State
for the Home Department. He ended his official career as a police
magistrate at Bow Street, but deserves to be better known to fame as the
creator of the mounted police force of London. Ford was born with a
silver spoon in his mouth, inheriting a fortune from his father, and
from his mother an extraordinary taste for art. Although called to the
bar he never practised, but spent his time in travelling on the
Continent, building up a valuable collection of books and paintings. He
was three times married, and all these unions seem to have been happy,
in spite of an almost unpleasant celerity in the second alliance, which
took place nine months after the death of his first wife. A very large
portion of his life he devoted to Spain, which he knew so intimately
that in 1845 he produced that remarkable _Handbook_ in two closely
printed volumes, a most repellent-looking book in appearance to those
who are used to contemporary typography, usually so attractive. Ford, in
fact, was so full of his subject that instead of a handbook he wrote a
work which ought to have appeared in half a dozen volumes. In later
editions the book was condensed into one of Mr. Murray's usual
guide-books, but the curious may still enjoy the work in its earliest
form, so rich in discussions of the Spanish people, their art and
architecture, their history and their habits. The greater part of the
letters in Mr. Prothero's collection are addressed to Addington, who was
our ambassador to Madrid for some years, until he was superseded by
George Villiers, Lord Clarendon, with whom Borrow came so much in
contact. Those letters reveal a remarkably cultivated mind and an
interesting outlook on life, an outlook that was always intensely
anti-democratic. It is impossible to sympathise with him in his brutal
reference to the execution by the Spaniards of Robert Boyd, a young
Irishman who was captured with Torrijos by the Spanish Government in
1831. Richard Ford apparently left Spain very shortly before George
Borrow entered that country. Ford passed through Madrid on his way to
England in September 1833. He then settled near Exeter, purchasing an
Elizabethan cottage called Heavitree House, with twelve acres of land,
and devoted himself to turning it into a beautiful mansion. Presumably
he first met Borrow in Mr. John Murray's famous drawing-room soon after
the publication of _The Gypsies of Spain_. He tells Addington, indeed,
in a letter of 14th January 1841:

     I have made acquaintance with an extraordinary fellow, George
     Borrow, who went out to Spain to convert the gypsies. He is
     about to publish his failure, and a curious book it will be. It
     was submitted to my perusal by the hesitating Murray.

Ford's article upon Borrow's book appeared in _The British and Foreign
Review_, and Ford was delighted that the book had created a sensation,
and that he had given sound advice as to publishing the manuscript. When
_The Bible in Spain_ was ready, Ford was one of the first to read it.
Then he wrote to John Murray:

     I read Borrow with great delight all the way down per rail. You
     may depend upon it that the book will sell, which after all is
     the rub.

And in that letter Ford describes the book as putting him in mind of Gil
Blas with 'a touch of Bunyan.' Lockhart himself reviewed the book in
_The Quarterly_, so Ford had to go to the rival organ--_The Edinburgh
Review_--receiving £44 for the article, which sum, he tells us, he
invested in Château Margaux.

Ford's first letter to Borrow in my collection is written in Spanish:

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall, Lowestoft.

                HEAVITREE HOUSE, EXETER, _Jan. 19, 1842._

     QUERIDO COMPADRE,--Mucho m'ha alegrado el buen termino de sus
     trabajos literarios que V.M. me participó. Vaya con los picaros
     de Zincali, buenas pesetas han cobrado--siempre he tenido á los
     Sres. M. como muy hombres de bien, suele ser que los que tratan
     mucho con personages de categoria, tomen un algo del grande y
     liberal. Convega V.M. que soy critico de tipo, y que digo,
     'Bahi de los gabicotes.' Conosco bastante loque agradecera al
     muy noble y illustrado publico--conque sigue V.M. adelante y no
     dejes nada en el tintero, pero por vida del Demonio, huyese
     V.M. de los historiadores españoles, embusteros y majaderos.
     Siento mucho que V.M. haya salido de Londres, salgo de esto
     Sabato, y pienso hacer una visita de como unas tres semanas, en
     la casa maternal, como es mi costumbre por el mes de los
     aguinaldos. Con mucho gusto hubiera praticado con V.M. y
     charleado sobre las cosas de España y otra chismografia
     gitanesca y zandungera, por ahora no entiendo nada de eso. No
     dejaré de llevar conmigo los papeles y documentos que V.M. se
     sirvio de remitirme á Cheltenham. Haré de ellos un paquete, y
     lo confiaré á los Señores Murray, para quando V.M. guste
     reclamarlo. Haré el mio posible de averiguar y aprofundicar
     aquellos misterios y gente estrambotica. El Señor Murray hijo,
     me escrive muy contento de la _Biblia en España_. Descaria yo
     escribir un articulo sobre asunto tan relleno de interes.
     Talvez el articulo mio de los Gitanos parecera en el numero
     proximo, y en tal caso ha de ser mas util á V.M. que no hubiera
     sido ahora. La vida y memoria de las revistas, es muy corta.
     Salen como miraposas y mueren en un dia. Los muertos y los idos
     no tienen amigos. Los vivos á la mesa, y los muertos á la
     huesa. Al istante que está imprimido un nuevo numero, el pasado
     y esta olvidado y entra entre las cosas del Rey Wamba. Que le
     parece á V.M., ultimamente en un baile donde sacaron un Rey de
     Hubas (twelfth night) tiré El Krallis de los Zincali. Incluyo á
     V. Majestad tabula, de veras es preciso que yo tengo en mis
     venas algunas gotitas de legitimo errante. El Señor Gagargos
     viene á ser nombrado Consul español á Tunis, donde no le
     faltaron medios de adelantarse en el idioma y literatura
     arabica. Queda de S.M. afemo. su amigo, Q.B.S.M.,

                RICHARD FORD.[165]

Here is a second letter of the following month:

                _February 26th_, HEAVITREE HOUSE, EXETER.

     BATUSCHCA BORROW,--I am glad that the paper pleased you, and I
     think it calculated to promote the sale, which a too copious
     extracting article does not always do, as people think that
     they have had the cream. Napier sent me £44 for the thirty-two
     pages; this, with Kemble's £50, 8s. for the _Zincali_, nearly
     reaches £100: I lay it out in claret, being not amiss to do in
     the world, and richer by many hundreds a year than last year,
     but with a son at Eton and daughters coming out, and an
     overgrown set of servants, money is never to be despised, and I
     find that expenditure by some infernal principle has a greater
     tendency to increase than income, and that when the latter
     increases it never does so in the ratio of the former--enough
     of that. How to write an article without being
     condensed--epigrammatical and _epitomical cream-skimming that
     is_--I know not, one has so much to say and so little space to
     say it in.

     I rejoice to hear of your meditated biography; really I am your
     wet nurse, and you ought to dedicate it to me; take time, but
     not too much; avoid all attempts to write fine; just dash down
     the first genuine uppouring idea and thoughts in the plainest
     language and that which comes first, and then fine it and
     compress it. Let us have a glossary; for people cry out for a
     Dragoman, and half your local gusto evaporates.

     I am amazed at the want of profits--'tis sad to think what
     meagre profits spring from pen and ink; but Cervantes died a
     beggar and is immortal. It is the devil who comes into the
     market with ready money: _No_ solvendum in futuro: I well know
     that it is cash down which makes the mare to go; dollars will
     add spurs even to the Prince of Mustard's paces.

     It is a bore not receiving even the crumbs which drop from such
     tables as those spread by Mr. Eyre: Murray, however, is a deep
     cove, _y muy pratico en cosas de libreteria_: and he knew that
     the _first out_ about Afghan would sell prodigiously. I doubt
     now if Lady Sale would now be such a general Sale. Murray
     builds solid castles in Eyre. Los de España rezalo bene de ser
     siempre muy Cosas de España: Cachaza! Cachaza! firme, firme!
     Arhse! no dejei nada en el tintero; basta que sea nuevo y muy
     piquunte cor sal y ajo: a los Ingleses le gustan mucho las
     Longanizas de Abarbenel y los buenos Choriyos de Montanches:

     El handbook sa her concluido jeriayer: abora principia el
     trabajo: Tengo benho un monton de papel acombroso. El menester
     reducirlo a la mitad y eso so hara castratandolo de lo bueno
     duro y particolar a romperse el alma:

     I had nothing to do whatever with the _manner_ in which the
     handbook puff was affixed to your book. I wrote the said paper,
     but concluded that Murray would put it, as usual, in the
     fly-leaf of the book, as he does in his others, and the _Q.

     Sabe mucho el hijo--ha imaginado altacar mi obresilla al flejo
     de vuestra immortalidad y lo que le toca de corazon,
     facilitarsele la venta.

     Yo no tengo nada en eso y quedé tanalustado amo V^{m} a la
     primera vista de aquella hoja volante. Conque Mantengare V^{m}
     bueno y alegre y mande V^{m} siempre, a S : S : S : y buen Critico,
     L : I : M : B.,

                R. F.

During these years--1843 and onwards--Borrow was regularly corresponding
with Ford. I quote a sentence from one of these letters:

     Borrow writes me word that his Life is nearly ready, and it
     will run the Bible hull down. If he tells truth it will be a
     queer thing. I shall review it for _The Edinburgh_.

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall, Lowestoft.

                123 PARK MANSIONS, _Thursday, April 13, 1843._

     BATUSCHCA B.,--Knowing that you seldom see a newspaper I send
     you one in which Peel speaks very handsomely of your labour.
     Such a public testimonial is a good puff, and I hope will
     attract purchasers.--Sincerely yours,

                R. F.

This speech of Peel's in the House of Commons, in which in reply to a
very trivial question by Dr. Bowring, then M.P. for Bolton, upon the
subject of the correspondence of the British Government with Turkey, the
great statesman urged:

     It might have been said to Mr. Borrow, with respect to Spain,
     that it would be impossible to distribute the Bible in that
     country in consequence of the danger of offending the
     prejudices which prevail there; yet he, a private individual,
     by showing some zeal in what he believed to be right, succeeded
     in triumphing over many obstacles.[166]

Borrow was elated with the compliment, and asked Mr. Murray two months
later if he could not advertise the eulogium with one of his books.

In June 1844, while the _Handbook for Travellers in Spain_ was going to
press, Ford went on a visit to Borrow at Oulton, and describes the pair
as 'two rum coves in a queer country'; and further gives one of the best
descriptions of the place:

     His house hangs over a lonely lake covered with wild fowl, and
     is girt with dark firs through which the wind sighs sadly.

When the _Handbook for Travellers in Spain_ was published in 1845 it was
agreed that Borrow should write the review for _The Quarterly_. Instead
of writing a review Borrow, possessed by that tactlessness which so
frequently overcame him, wrote an article on 'Spain and the Spaniards,'
very largely of abuse, an absolutely useless production from the point
of view of Ford the author, and of Lockhart, his editor friend. Borrow
never forgave Lockhart for returning this manuscript, but that it had no
effect on Ford's friendship is shown by the following letter, dated 1846
(p. 258), written long after the unfortunate episode, and another in Dr.
Knapp's _Life_, dated 1851:

To Mrs. Borrow, Oulton Hall, Lowestoft.

                _Oct. 6, 1844_, CHELTENHAM.

     MY DEAR MADAM,--I trouble you with a line to say that I have
     received a letter from Don Jorge, from Constantinople. He
     evidently is now anxious to be quietly back again on the banks
     of your peaceful lake; he speaks favourably of his health,
     which has been braced up by change of air, scenery, and
     occupations, so I hope he will get through next winter without
     any bronchitis, and go on with his own biography.

     He asks me when _Handbook_ will be done? Please to tell him
     that it is done and printing, but that it runs double the
     length which was contemplated: however, it will be a _queer_
     book, and tell him that we reserve it until his return to
     _review_ it. I am now on the point of quitting this pretty
     place and making for my home at Hevitre, where we trust to
     arrive next Thursday.

     Present my best compliments to your mother, and believe me,
     your faithful and obedient servant,

                RCH. FORD.

     When you write to Don Jorge thank him for his letter.

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall, Lowestoft.

                123 PARLIAMENT STREET,
                GROSVENOR SQUARE, _Feb. 17, 1845._

     DEAR BORROW,--_El hombre propose pero Dios es que dispose._ I
     had hope to have run down and seen you and yours in your quiet
     Patmos; but the Sangrados will it otherwise. I have never been
     quite free from a tickling pain since the bronchitis of last
     year, and it has recently assumed the form of extreme
     relaxation and irritation in the uvula, which is that pendulous
     appendage which hangs over the orifice of the throat. Mine has
     become so seriously elongated that, after submitting for four
     days last week to its being burnt with caustic every morning in
     the hopes that it might thus crimp and contract itself, I have
     been obliged to have it amputated. This has left a great
     soreness, which militates against talking and deglutition, and
     would render our charming chats after the Madeira over la
     cheminea del _cueldo_ inadvisable. I therefore defer the visit:
     my Sangrado recommends me, when the summer advances, to fly
     away into change of air, change of scene; in short, must seek
     an _hejira_ as you made. How strange the coincidence! but those
     who have wandered much about require periodical migration, as
     the encaged quail twice a year beats its breast against the

     I am not quite determined where to go, whether to Scotland and
     the sweet heath-aired hills, or to the wild rocks and clear
     trout streams of the Tyrol; it is a question between the gun
     and the rod. If I go north assuredly si Dios quiere I will take
     your friendly and peaceful abode in my way.

     As to my immediate plans I can say nothing before Thursday,
     when the Sangrado is to report on some diagnosis which he

     Meanwhile _Handbook_ is all but out, and Lockhart and Murray
     are eager to have you in the _Q. R._ I enclose you a note from
     the editor. How feel you inclined? I would send you down 30
     sheets, and you might run your eye through them. _There are
     plums in the pudding._

                RICHARD FORD.

A proof in slip form of the rejected review, with Borrow's corrections
written upon it, is in my possession. Our author pictures Gibraltar as a
human entity thus addressing Spain:

     Accursed land! I hate thee, and far from being a defence, will
     invariably prove a thorn in thy side.

And so on through many sentences of excited rhetoric. Borrow forgot
while he wrote that he had a book to review--a book, moreover, issued by
the publishing house which issued the periodical in which his review was
to appear. And this book was a book in ten thousand--a veritable mine of
information and out of the way learning. Surely this slight reference
amid many dissertations of his own upon Spain was to damn his friend's
book with faint praise:

     A Handbook is a Handbook after all, a very useful thing, but
     still--the fact is that we live in an age of humbug, in which
     everything, to obtain note and reputation, must depend less
     upon its own intrinsic merit than on the name it bears. The
     present book is about one of the best books ever written upon
     Spain; but we are afraid that it will never be estimated at its
     proper value; for after all a Handbook is a Handbook.

Yet successful as was Ford's _Handbook_, it is doubtful but that Borrow
was right in saying that it had better have been called _Wanderings in
Spain_ or _Wonders of the Peninsula_. How much more gracious was the
statement of another great authority on Spain--Sir William
Stirling-Maxwell--who said that 'so great a literary achievement had
never before been performed under so humble a title.' The article,
however, furnishes a trace of autobiography in the statement by Borrow
that he had long been in the habit of reading _Don Quixote_ once every
nine years. Yet he tells us that he prefers Le Sage's _Gil Blas_ to _Don
Quixote_, 'the characters introduced being certainly more true to
nature.' But altogether we do not wonder that Lockhart declined to
publish the article. Here is the last letter in my possession; after
this there is one in the Knapp collection dated 1851, acknowledging a
copy of _Lavengro_, in which Ford adds: 'Mind when you come to see the
Exhibition you look in here, for I long to have a chat,' and so the
friendship appears to have collapsed as so many friendships do. Ford
died at Heavitree in 1858:

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall, Lowestoft

                HEAVITREE, _Jany. 28, 1846._

     QUERIDO DON JORGE,--How are you getting on in health and
     spirits? and how has this absence of winter suited you? Are you
     inclined for a run up to town next week? I propose to do so,
     and Murray, who has got Washington Irving, etc., to dine with
     him on Wednesday the 4th, writes to me to know if I thought you
     could be induced to join us. Let me whisper in your ear, yea:
     it will do you good and give change of air, scene and thought:
     we will go and beat up the renowned Billy Harper, and see how
     many more ribs are stoved in.

     I have been doing a paper for the _Q. R._ on Spanish
     Architecture; how gets on the _Lavengro_? I see the 'gypsies'
     are coming out in the _Colonial_, which will have a vast sale.

     John Murray seems to be flourishing in spite of corn and

     Remember me kindly and respectfully to your Ladies, and beg
     them to tell you what good it will do you to have a frisk up to
     town, and a little quiet chat with your pal and amigo,

                RICHARD FORD.


[164] _The Letters of Richard Ford, 1797-1858_, edited by Rowland E.
Prothero, M. V. O. John Murray, 1905.

[165] DEAR FRIEND,--I was glad to hear from you of the successful
termination of your literary work. Fancy those rogues of Zincali! They
have managed to make good money--I always thought Messrs. M. very decent
people, it usually happens that those who have much to do with good
class of people become themselves somewhat large-minded and liberal. You
must admit that I am a model critic, and that I cry, 'Luck to the Books'
Full well do I know how you thank the most noble and illustrious public!
Go ahead, therefore, and leave nothing forgotten in the ink-pot; but by
all that is holy, shun the Spanish historians, who are liars and fools!
I regret very much that you should have left London; I leave here on
Saturday with the intention of paying a visit of about three weeks to
the maternal home, as is my custom in the month of the Christmas boxes.
Very much would I have liked to see you and discuss with you about
things of Spain and other gypsy lore and fancy topics, but of which at
present nothing do I understand. I shall not fail to take with me the
papers and documents which you kindly sent me to Cheltenham. I will make
them into a parcel and leave them with Messrs. Murray, so that you can
send for them whenever you like. I shall do my best to penetrate those
mysteries and that strange people. Mr. Murray, junior, writes in a
pleased tone respecting _The Bible in Spain_. I should like to write an
article on a subject so full of interest. Possibly my article on the
gypsies will appear in the next number, and in such case it will prove
more useful to you than if it appeared now. The life and memory of
reviews are very short. They appear like butterflies, and die in a day.
The dead and the departed have no friends. The living to the feast, the
dead to the grave. No sooner does a new number appear than the last one
is already forgotten and joins the things of the past. What do you
think? At a party recently in which a drawing was held, I drew the
_Krallis de los Zincali_. I beg to enclose the table (or index) for your
Majesty's guidance; really, I must have in my veins a few drops of the
genuine wanderer. Mr. Gagargos has been just appointed Spanish Consul in
Tunis, where he will not lack means for progressing in the Arabic
language and literature.--Yours, etc.,

R. F.

[166] _The Times_, April 12, 1843.



In 1844 Borrow set out for the most distant holiday that he was ever to
undertake. Passing through London in March 1844, he came under the
critical eye of Elizabeth Rigby, afterwards Lady Eastlake, that
formidable critic who four years later--in 1848--wrote the cruel review
of _Jane Eyre_ in _The Quarterly_ that gave so much pain to Charlotte
Brontë. She was not a nice woman. These sharp, 'clever' women-critics
rarely are; and Borrow never made a pleasant impression when such women
came across his path--instance Harriet Martineau, Frances Cobbe, and
Agnes Strickland. We should sympathise with him, and not count it for a
limitation, as some of his biographers have done. The future Lady
Eastlake thus disposes of Borrow in her one reference to him:

     _March 20._--Borrow came in the evening; now a fine man, but a
     most disagreeable one; a kind of character that would be most
     dangerous in rebellious times--one that would suffer or
     persecute to the utmost. His face is expressive of
     strong-headed determination.[167]

Quoting this description of Borrow, Dr. Knapp describes it as
'shallow'--for 'he was one of the kindest of men, as my documents
show.' The description is shallow enough, because the writer had no kind
of comprehension of Borrow, but then, perhaps, his champion had not.
Borrow was neither one of the 'kindest of men' nor the reverse. He was a
good hater and a whole-hearted lover, and to be thus is to fill a
certain uncomfortable but not discreditable place in the scheme of
things. About a month later Borrow was on the way to the East,
travelling by Paris and Vienna. From Paris he wrote to Mr. John Murray
that Vidocq 'wished much to have a copy of my _Gypsies in Spain_,' but
suspects the Frenchman of desiring to produce a compressed translation.
Will Mr. Murray have the book translated into French? he asks, and so
circumvent his wily friend.[168] In June he is in Buda Pesth, whence he
wrote to his wife:

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                PESTH, HUNGARY, _14th June 1844._

     MY DEAREST CARRETA,--I was so glad to get your letter which
     reached me about nine days ago; on receiving it, I instantly
     made preparations for quitting Vienna, but owing to two or
     three things which delayed me, I did not get away till the
     20th; I hope that you received the last letter which I sent, as
     I doubt not that you are all anxious to hear from me. You
     cannot think how anxious I am to get back to you, but since I
     am already come so far, it will not do to return before my
     object is accomplished. Heaven knows that I do not travel for
     travelling's sake, having a widely different object in view. I
     came from Vienna here down the Danube, but I daresay I shall
     not go farther by the river, but shall travel through the
     country to Bucharest in Wallachia, which is the next place I
     intend to visit; but Hungary is a widely different country to
     Austria, not at all civilised, no coaches, etc., but only carts
     and wagons; however, it is all the same thing to me as I am
     quite used to rough it; Bucharest is about three hundred miles
     from here; the country, as I have said before, is wild, but the
     people are quite harmless--it is only in Spain that any danger
     is to be feared from your fellow creatures. In Bucharest I
     shall probably stay a fortnight. I have a letter to a French
     gentleman there from Baron Taylor. Pesth is very much like
     Edinburgh--there is an old and a new town, and it is only the
     latter which is called Pesth, the name of the old is Buda,
     which stands on the side of an enormous mountain overlooking
     the new town, the Danube running between. The two towns
     together contain about 120,000 inhabitants; I delivered the
     letter which dear Woodfall was kind enough to send; it was to a
     person, a Scotchman, who is superintending in the building of
     the chain bridge over the Danube; he is a very nice person, and
     has shown me every kind of civility; indeed, every person here
     is very civil; yesterday I dined at the house of a rich Greek;
     the dinner was magnificent, the only drawback was that they
     pressed me too much to eat and drink; there was a deal of
     champagne, and they would make me drink it till I was almost
     sick, for it is a wine that I do not like, being far too sweet.
     Since I have been here I have bathed twice in the Danube, and
     find myself much the better for it; I both sleep and eat better
     than I did. I have also been about another chapter, and get on
     tolerably well; were I not so particular I should get on
     faster, but I wish that everything that I write in this next be
     first-rate. Tell Mama that this chapter begins with a dialogue
     between her and my father; I have likewise contrived to bring
     in the poor old dog in a manner which I think will be
     interesting. I began this letter some days ago, but have been
     so pleasantly occupied that I have made little progress till
     now. Clarke, poor fellow, does not know how to make enough of
     me. He says he could scarcely believe his eyes when he first
     received the letter, as he has just got _The Bible in Spain_
     from England, and was reading it. This is the 17th, and in a
     few days I start for a place called Debreczen, from whence I
     shall proceed gradually on my journey. The next letter which
     you receive will probably be from Transylvania, the one after
     that from Bucharest, and the third D.V. from Constantinople. If
     you like you may write to Constantinople, directing it to the
     care of the English Ambassador, but be sure to pay the

     Before I left Vienna Baron Hammer, the great Orientalist,
     called upon me; his wife was just dead, poor thing, which
     prevented him showing me all the civility which he would
     otherwise have done. He took me to the Imperial Library. Both
     my books were there, _Gypsies_ and _Bible_. He likewise
     procured me a ticket to see the Imperial treasure. (Tell
     Henrietta that I saw there the diamond of Charles the Bold; it
     is as large as a walnut.) I likewise saw the finest opal, as I
     suppose, in the world; it was the size of a middling pear;
     there was likewise a hyacinth as big as a swan's egg; I
     likewise saw a pearl so large that they had wrought the figure
     of a cock out of it, and the cock was somewhat more than an
     inch high, but the thing which struck me most was the sword of
     Tamerlane, generally called Timour the Tartar; both the hilt
     and scabbard were richly adorned with diamonds and emeralds,
     but I thought more of the man than I did of them, for he was
     the greatest conqueror the world ever saw (I have spoken of him
     in _Lavengro_ in the chapter about David Haggart).
     Nevertheless, although I have seen all these fine things, I
     shall be glad to get back to my Carreta and my darling mother
     and to dear Hen. From Debreczen I hope to write to kind dear
     Woodfall, and to Lord from Constantinople. I must likewise
     write to Hasfeld. The mulet of thirty pounds upon Russian
     passports is only intended for the subjects of Russia. I see by
     the journals that the Emperor has been in England; I wonder
     what he is come about; however, the less I say about that the
     better, as I shall soon be in his country. Tell Hen that I have
     got her a large piece of Austrian gold money, worth about
     forty-two shillings; it is quite new and very handsome;
     considerably wider than the Spanish ounce, only not near so
     thick, as might be expected, being of considerable less value;
     when I get to Constantinople I will endeavour to get a Turkish
     gold coin. I have also got a new Austrian silver dollar and a
     half one; these are rather cumbersome, and I don't care much
     about them--as for the large gold coin, I carry it in my
     pocket-book, which has been of great use to me hitherto. I have
     not yet lost anything, only a pocket handkerchief or two as
     usual; but I was obliged to buy two other shirts at Vienna; the
     weather is so hot, that it is quite necessary to change them
     every other day; they were beautiful linen ones, and I think
     you will like them when you see. I shall be so glad to get
     home and continue, if possible, my old occupation. I hope my
     next book will sell; one comfort is that nothing like it has
     ever been published before. I hope you all get on comfortably,
     and that you catch some fish. I hope my dear mother is well,
     and that she will continue with you till the end of July at
     least; ah! that is my month, I was born in it, it is the
     pleasantest month in the year; would to God that my fate had
     worn as pleasant an aspect as the month in which I was born.
     God bless you all. Write to me, _to the care of the British
     Embassy_, Constantinople. Kind remembrances to Pilgrim.

In the intervening journey between Pesth and Constantinople he must have
talked long and wandered far and wide among the gypsies, for Charles L.
Brace in his _Hungary in 1851_ gives us a glimpse of him at Grosswardein
holding conversation with the gypsies:

     They described his appearance--his tall, lank, muscular
     form--and mentioned that he had been much in Spain, and I saw
     that it must be that most ubiquitous of travellers, Mr. Borrow.

The four following letters require no comment:

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                DEBRECZEN, HUNGARY, _8th July 1844._

     MY DARLING CARRETA,--I write to you from Debreczen, a town in
     the heart of Hungary, where I have been for the last fortnight
     with the exception of three days during which I was making a
     journey to Tokay, which is about forty miles distant. My reason
     for staying here so long was my liking the place where I have
     experienced every kind of hospitality; almost all the people in
     these parts are Protestants, and they are so fond of the very
     name of Englishmen that when one arrives they scarcely know how
     to make enough of him; it is well the place is so remote that
     very few are ever seen here, perhaps not oftener than once in
     ten years, for if some of our scamps and swell mob were once to
     find their way there the good people of Hungary would soon
     cease to have much respect for the English in general; as it
     is they think that they are all men of honour and accomplished
     gentlemen whom it becomes them to receive well in order that
     they may receive from them lessons in civilisation; I wonder
     what they would think if they were to meet such fellows as
     Squarem and others whom I could mention. I find my knowledge of
     languages here of great use, and the people are astonished to
     hear me speak French, Italian, German, Russian, and
     occasionally Gypsy. I have already met with several Gypsies;
     those who live abroad in the wildernesses are quite black; the
     more civilised wander about as musicians, playing on the
     fiddle, at which they are very expert, they speak the same
     languages as those in England, with slight variations, and upon
     the whole they understand me very well. Amongst other places I
     have been to Tokay, where I drank some of the wine. I am
     endeavouring to bring two or three bottles to England, for I
     thought of my mother and yourself and Hen., and I have got a
     little wooden case made; it is very sweet and of a pale straw
     colour; whether I shall be able to manage it I do not know;
     however, I shall make the attempt. At Tokay the wine is only
     two shillings the bottle, and I have a great desire that you
     should taste some of it. I sincerely hope that we shall soon
     all meet together in health and peace. I shall be glad enough
     to get home, but since I am come so far it is as well to see as
     much as possible. Would you think it, the Bishop of Debreczen
     came to see me the other day and escorted me about the town,
     followed by all the professors of the college; this was done
     merely because I was an Englishman and a Protestant, for here
     they are almost all of the reformed religion and full of love
     and enthusiasm for it. It is probable that you will hear from
     Woodfall in a day or two; the day before yesterday I wrote to
     him and begged him to write to you to let you know, as I am
     fearful of a letter miscarrying and your being uneasy. This is
     unfortunately post day and I must send away the letter in a
     very little time, so that I cannot say all to you that I could
     wish; I shall stay here about a week longer, and from here
     shall make the best of my way to Transylvania and Bucharest; I
     shall stay at Bucharest about a fortnight, and shall then dash
     off for Constantinople--I shan't stay there long--but when once
     there it matters not as it is a civilised country from which
     start steamers to any part where you may want to go. I hope to
     receive a letter from you there. You cannot imagine what
     pleasure I felt when I got your last. Oh, it was such a comfort
     to me! I shall have much to tell you when I get back. Yesterday
     I went to see a poor wretch who is about to be hanged; he
     committed a murder here two years ago, and the day after
     to-morrow he is to be executed--they expose the people here who
     are to suffer three days previous to their execution--I found
     him in a small apartment guarded by soldiers, with hundreds of
     people staring at him through the door and the windows; I was
     admitted into the room as I went with two officers; he had an
     enormous chain about his waist and his feet were manacled; he
     sat smoking a pipe; he was, however, very penitent, and said
     that he deserved to die, as well he might; he had murdered four
     people, beating out their brains with a club; he was without
     work, and requested of an honest man here to receive him into
     his house one night until the morning. In the middle of the
     night he got up, and with his brother, who was with him, killed
     every person in the house and then plundered it; two days
     after, he was taken; his brother died in prison; I gave him a
     little money, and the gentleman who was with me gave him some
     good advice; he looked most like a wild beast, a huge mantle of
     skin covered his body; for nine months he had not seen the
     daylight; but now he is brought out into a nice clean
     apartment, and allowed to have everything he asks for, meat,
     wine, tobacco--nothing is refused him during these last three
     days. I cannot help thinking that it is a great cruelty to keep
     people so long in so horrid a situation; it is two years nearly
     since he has been condemned. Do not be anxious if you do not
     hear from me regularly for some time. There is no escort post
     in the countries to which I am going. God bless my mother,
     yourself, and Hen.

                G. B.

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                HERMANSTADT, _July 30, 1844._

     MY DEAREST CARRETA,--I write to you a line or two from this
     place; it is close upon the frontier of Wallachia. I hope to be
     in Bucharest in a few days--I have stopped here for a day owing
     to some difficulty in getting horses--I shall hasten onward as
     quick as possible. In Bucharest there is an English Consul, so
     that I shall feel more at home than I do here. I am only a few
     miles now from the termination of the Austrian dominions, their
     extent is enormous, the whole length of Hungary and
     Transylvania; I shall only stay a few days in Bucharest and
     shall then dash off straight for Constantinople; I have no time
     to lose as there is a high ridge of mountains to cross called
     the Balkans, where the winter commences at the beginning of
     September. I thought you would be glad to hear from me, on
     which account I write. I sent off a letter about a week ago
     from Klausenburg, which I hope you will receive. I have written
     various times from Hungary, though whether the letters have
     reached you is more than I can say. I wrote to Woodfall from
     Debreczen. I have often told you how glad I shall be to get
     home and see you again. If I have tarried, it has only been
     because I wished to see and learn as much as I could, for it
     was no use coming to such a distance for nothing. By the time I
     return I shall have made a most enormous journey, such as very
     few have made. The place from which I write is very romantic,
     being situated at the foot of a ridge of enormous mountains
     which extend to the clouds, they look higher than the Pyrenees.
     My health, thank God, is very good. I bathed to-day and feel
     all the better for it; I hope you are getting on well, and that
     all our dear family is comfortable. I hope my dear mother is
     well. Oh, it is so pleasant to hope that I am still not alone
     in the world, and that there are those who love and care for me
     and pray for me. I shall be very glad to get to Constantinople,
     as from there there is no difficulty; and a great part of the
     way to Russia is by sea, and when I am in Russia I am almost at
     home. I shall write to you again from Bucharest if it please
     God. It is not much more than eighty miles from here, but the
     way lies over the mountains, so that the journey will take
     three or four days. We travel here in tilted carts drawn by
     ponies; the carts are without springs, so that one is terribly
     shaken. It is, however, very healthy, especially when one has a
     strong constitution. The carts are chiefly made of sticks and
     wickerwork; they are, of course, very slight, and indeed if
     they were not so they would soon go to pieces owing to the
     jolting. I read your little book every morning; it is true that
     I am sometimes wrong with respect to the date, but I soon get
     right again; oh, I shall be so glad to see you and my mother
     and old Hen. and Lucy and the whole dear circle. I hope Crups
     is well, and the horse. Oh, I shall be so glad to come back.
     God bless you, my heart's darling, and dear Hen.; kiss her for
     me, and my mother.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                BUCHAREST, _August 5, 1844._

     MY DEAREST CARRETA,--I write you a few lines from the house of
     the Consul, Mr. Colquhoun, to inform you that I arrived at
     Bucharest quite safe: the post leaves to-day, and Mr. C. has
     kindly permitted me to send a note along with the official
     despatches. I am quite well, thank God, but I thought you would
     like to hear from me. Bucharest is in the province of Wallachia
     and close upon the Turkish frontier. I shall remain here a week
     or two as I find the place a very interesting one; then I shall
     proceed to Constantinople. I wrote to you from Hermanstadt last
     week and the week previous from Clausenburgh, and before I
     leave I shall write again, and not so briefly as now. I have
     experienced every possible attention from Mr. C., who is a very
     delightful person, and indeed everybody is very kind and
     attentive. I hope sincerely that you and Hen. are quite well
     and happy, and also my dear mother. God bless you, dearest.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                BUCHAREST, _August 14, 1844._

     MY DARLING CARRETA,--To-morrow or the next day I leave
     Bucharest for Constantinople. I wrote to you on my arrival a
     few days ago, and promise to write again before my departure. I
     shall not be sorry to get to Constantinople, as from thence I
     can go where-ever I think proper without any difficulty. Since
     I have been here, Mr. Colquhoun, the British Consul-General,
     has shown me every civility, and upon the whole I have not
     passed the time disagreeably. I have been chiefly occupied of
     late in rubbing up my Turkish a little, which I had almost
     forgotten; there was a time when I wrote it better than any
     other language. It is coming again rapidly, and I make no doubt
     that in a little time I should speak it almost as well as
     Spanish, for I understand the groundwork. In Hungary and
     Germany I picked up some curious books, which will help to pass
     the time at home when I have nothing better to do. It is a long
     way from here to Constantinople, and it is probable that I
     shall be fifteen or sixteen days on the journey, as I do not
     intend to travel very fast. It is possible that I shall stay a
     day or two at Adrianople, which is half way. If you should not
     hear from me for some time don't be alarmed, as it is possible
     that I shall have no opportunities of writing till I get to
     Constantinople. Bucharest, where I am now, is close on the
     Turkish frontier, being only half a day's journey. Since I have
     been here, I have bought a Tartar dress and a couple of Turkish
     shirts. I have done so in order not to be stared at as I pass
     along. It is very beautiful and by no means dear. Yesterday I
     wrote to M. Since I have been here I have seen some English
     newspapers, and see that chap H. has got in with M. Perhaps his
     recommendation was that he had once insulted us. However, God
     only knows. I think I had never much confidence in M. I can
     read countenances as you know, and have always believed him to
     be selfish and insincere. I, however, care nothing about him,
     and will not allow, D.V., any conduct of his to disturb me. I
     shall be glad to get home, and if I can but settle down a
     little, I feel that I can accomplish something great. I hope
     that my dear mother is well, and that you are all well. God
     bless you. It is something to think that since I have been away
     I have to a certain extent accomplished what I went about. I am
     stronger and better and hardier, my cough has left me, there is
     only occasionally a little huskiness in the throat. I have also
     increased my stock of languages, and my imagination is
     brightened, Bucharest is a strange place with much grandeur and
     much filth. Since I have been here I have dined almost every
     day with Mr. C., who wants me to have an apartment in his
     house. I thought it, however, better to be at an inn, though
     filthy. I have also dined once at the Russian Consul-General's,
     whom I knew in Russia. Now God bless you my heart's darling;
     kiss also Hen., write to my mother, and remember me to all

                G. BORROW.

The best letter that I have of this journey, and indeed the best letter
of Borrow's that I have read, is one from Constantinople to his
wife--the only letter by him from that city:

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                CONSTANTINOPLE, 16_th September 1844._

     MY DARLING CARRETA,--I am about to leave Constantinople and to
     return home. I have given up the idea of going to Russia; I
     find that if I go to Odessa I shall have to remain in
     quarantine for fourteen days, which I have no inclination to
     do; I am, moreover, anxious to get home, being quite tired of
     wandering, and desirous of being once more with my loved ones.
     This is a most interesting place, but unfortunately it is
     extremely dear. The Turks have no inns, and I am here at an
     English one, at which, though everything is comfortable, the
     prices are very high. To-day is Monday, and next Friday I
     purpose starting for Salonica in a steamboat--Salonica is in
     Albania. I shall then cross Albania, a journey of about three
     hundred miles, and get to Corfu, from which I can either get to
     England across Italy and down the Rhine, or by way of
     Marseilles and across France. I shall not make any stay in
     Italy if I go there, as I have nothing to see there. I shall be
     so glad to be at home with you once again, and to see my dear
     mother and Hen. Tell Hen. that I picked up for her in one of
     the bazaars a curious Armenian coin; it is silver, small, but
     thick, with a most curious inscription upon it. I gave fifteen
     piastres for it. I hope it and the rest will get safe to
     England. I have bought a chest, which I intend to send by sea,
     and I have picked up a great many books and other things, and I
     wish to travel light; I shall, therefore, only take a bag with
     a few clothes and shirts. It is possible that I shall be at
     home soon after your receiving this, or at most three weeks
     after. I hope to write to you again from Corfu, which is a
     British island with a British garrison in it, like Gibraltar;
     the English newspapers came last week. I see those wretched
     French cannot let us alone, they want to go to war; well, let
     them; they richly deserve a good drubbing. The people here are
     very kind in their way, but home is home, especially such a one
     as mine, with true hearts to welcome me. Oh, I was so glad to
     get your letters; they were rather of a distant date, it is
     true, but they quite revived me. I hope you are all well, and
     my dear mother. Since I have been here I have written to Mr.
     Lord. I was glad to hear that he has written to Hen. I hope
     Lucy is well; pray remember me most kindly to her, and tell her
     that I hope to see her soon. I count so of getting into my
     summer-house again, and sitting down to write; I have arranged
     my book in my mind, and though it will take me a great deal of
     trouble to write it, I feel that when it is written it will be
     first-rate. My journey, with God's help, has done me a great
     deal of good. I am stronger than I was, and I can now sleep. I
     intend to draw on England for forty or fifty pounds; if I don't
     want the whole of it, it will be all the same. I have still
     some money left, but I have no wish to be stopped on my journey
     for want of it. I am sorry about what you told me respecting
     the railway, sorry that the old coach is driven off the road. I
     shall patronise it as little as possible, but stick to the old
     route and Thurton George. What a number of poor people will
     these railroads deprive of their bread. I am grieved at what
     you say about poor M.; he can take her into custody, however,
     and oblige her to support the children; such is law, though the
     property may have been secured to her, she can be compelled to
     do that. Tell Hen. that there is a mosque here, called the
     mosque of Sultan Bajazet; it is full of sacred pigeons; there
     is a corner of the court to which the creatures flock to be
     fed, like bees, by hundreds and thousands; they are not at all
     afraid, as they are never killed. Every place where they can
     roost is covered with them, their impudence is great; they
     sprang originally from two pigeons brought from Asia by the
     Emperor of Constantinople. They are of a deep blue. God bless
     you, dearest.

                G. B.

He returned home by way of Venice and Rome as the following two letters

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                VENICE, _22nd Octr. 1844._

     MY DEAREST CARRETA,--I arrived this day at Venice, and though
     I am exceedingly tired I hasten to write a line to inform you
     of my well-being. I am now making for home as fast as possible,
     and I have now nothing to detain me. Since I wrote to you last
     I have been again in quarantine for two days and a half at
     Trieste, but I am glad to say that I shall no longer be
     detained on that account. I was obliged to go to Trieste,
     though it was much out of my way, otherwise I must have
     remained I know not how long in Corfu, waiting for a direct
     conveyance. After my liberation I only stopped a day at Corfu
     in order that I might lose no more time, though I really wished
     to tarry there a little longer, the people were so kind. On the
     day of my liberation, I had four invitations to dinner from the
     officers. I, however, made the most of my time, and escorted by
     one Captain Northcott, of the Rifles, went over the
     fortifications, which are most magnificent. I saw everything
     that I well could, and shall never forget the kindness with
     which I was treated. The next day I went to Trieste in a
     steamer, down the whole length of the Adriatic. I was horribly
     unwell, for the Adriatic is a bad sea, and very dangerous; the
     weather was also very rough; after stopping at Trieste a day,
     besides the quarantine, I left for Venice, and here I am, and
     hope to be on my route again the day after to-morrow. I shall
     now hurry through Italy by way of Ancona, Rome, and Civita
     Vecchia to Marseilles in France and from Marseilles to London,
     in not more than six days' journey. Oh, I shall be so glad to
     get back to you and my mother (I hope she is alive and well)
     and Hen. I am glad to hear that we are not to have a war with
     those silly people, the French. The idea made me very uneasy,
     for I thought how near Oulton lay to the coast. You cannot
     imagine what a magnificent old town Venice is; it is clearly
     the finest in Italy, although in decay; it stands upon islands
     in the sea, and in many places is intersected with canals. The
     Grand Canal is four miles long, lined with palaces on either
     side. I, however, shall be glad to leave it, for there is no
     place to me like Oulton, where live two of my dear ones. I have
     told you that I am very tired, so that I cannot write much
     more, and I am presently going to bed, but I am sure that you
     will be glad to hear from me, however little I may write. I
     think I told you in my last letter that I had been to the top
     of Mount Olympus in Thessaly. Tell Hen. that I saw a whole herd
     of wild deer bounding down the cliffs, the noise they made was
     like thunder; I also saw an enormous eagle--one of Jupiter's
     birds, his real eagles, for, according to the Grecian
     mythology, Olympus was his favourite haunt. I don't know what
     it was then, but at present the most wild savage place I ever
     saw; an immense way up I came to a forest of pines; half of
     them were broken by thunderbolts, snapped in the middle, and
     the ruins lying around in the most hideous confusion; some had
     been blasted from top to bottom and stood naked, black, and
     charred, in indescribable horridness; Jupiter was the god of
     thunder, and he still seems to haunt Olympus. The worst is
     there is little water, so that a person might almost perish
     there of thirst; the snow-water, however, when it runs into the
     hollows is the most delicious beverage ever tasted--the snow,
     however, is very high up. My next letter, I hope, will be from
     Marseilles, and I hope to be there in a very few days. Now, God
     bless you, my dearest; write to my mother, and kiss Hen., and
     remember me kindly to Lucy and the Atkinses.

                G. B.

To Mrs. George Borrow, Oulton, Lowestoft

                ROME, _1 Nov. 1844._

     MY DEAREST CARRETA,--My last letter was from Ancona; the
     present is, as you see, from Rome. From Ancona I likewise wrote
     to Woodfall requesting he would send a letter of credit for
     twelve or fifteen pounds, directing to the care of the British
     Consul at Marseilles. I hope you received your letter and that
     he received his, as by the time I get to Marseilles I shall be
     in want of money by reason of the roundabout way I have been
     obliged to come. I am quite well, thank God, and hope to leave
     here in a day or two. It is close by the sea, and France is
     close by, but I am afraid I shall be obliged to wait some days
     at Marseilles before I shall get the letter, as the post goes
     direct from no part of Italy, though it is not more than six
     days' journey, or seven at most, from Ancona to London. It was
     that wretched quarantine at Corfu that has been the cause of
     all this delay, as it caused me to lose the passage by the
     steamer [original torn here] Ancona, which forced me to go
     round by Trieste and Venice, five hundred miles out of my way,
     at a considerable expense. Oh, I shall be so glad to get home.
     As I told you before, I am quite well; indeed, in better health
     than I have been for years, but it is very vexatious to be
     stopped in the manner I have been. God bless you, my darling.
     Write to my mother and kiss her.

                G. BORROW.


[167] _Journals and Correspondence of Lady Eastlake_, edited by her
nephew, Charles Eastlake Smith, vol. i. p. 124. John Murray, 1895.

[168] _Life of Borrow_ by Herbert Jenkins, p. 361.



_The Bible in Spain_ bears on its title-page the date 1843, although my
copy makes it clear in Borrow's handwriting that it was really ready for
publication in the previous year.

[Illustration: [handwritten text]

    Mary Borrow
    With Her Husband's Love.
    13 Dec'r 1842]

Borrow's handwriting had changed its character somewhat when he
inscribed to his wife a copy of his next book _Lavengro_ in 1851.

[Illustration: [handwritten text]

    Mary Borrow
    With Her Husband's Love.]

In the intervening eight or nine years he had travelled much--suffered
much. During all these years he had been thinking about, talking about,
his next book, making no secret of the fact that it was to be an
Autobiography. Even before _The Bible in Spain_ was issued he had
written to Mr. John Murray foreshadowing a book in which his father,
William Taylor, and others were to put in an appearance. In the
'Advertisement' to _The Romany Rye_ he tells us that 'the principal part
of _Lavengro_ was written in the year '43, that the whole of it was
completed before the termination of the year '46, and that it was in the
hands of the publisher in the year '48.' As the idea grew in his mind,
his friend, Richard Ford, gave him much sound advice:

     Never mind nimminy-pimminy people thinking subjects _low_.
     Things are low in manner of handling. Draw Nature in rags and
     poverty, yet draw her truly, and how picturesque! I hate your
     silver fork, kid glove, curly-haired school.[169]

And so in the following years, now to Ford, now to Murray, he traces his
progress, while in 1844 he tells Dawson Turner that he is 'at present
engaged in a kind of Biography in the Robinson Crusoe style.'[170] But
in the same year he went to Buda-Pesth, Venice, and Constantinople. The
first advertisement of the book appeared in _The Quarterly Review_ in
July 1848, when _Lavengro, An Autobiography_, was announced. Later in
the same year Mr. Murray advertised the book as _Life, A Drama_; and Dr.
Knapp, who had in his collection the original proof-sheets of
_Lavengro_, reproduces the title-page of the book which then stood as
_Life, A Drama_, and bore the date 1849. Borrow's procrastination in
delivering the complete book worried John Murray exceedingly. Not
unnaturally, for in 1848 he had offered the book at his annual sale
dinner to the booksellers who had subscribed to it liberally. Eighteen
months later Murray was still worrying Borrow for the return of the
proof-sheets of the third and last volume. Not until January 1850 do we
hear of it as _Lavengro, An Autobiography_, and under this title it was
advertised in _The Quarterly Review_ for that month as 'nearly ready for
publication.' In April 1850 we find Woodfall, John Murray's printer,
writing letter after letter urging celerity, to which Mrs. Borrow
replies, excusing the delay on account of her husband's indifferent
health. They have been together in lodgings at Yarmouth. 'He had many
plunges into the briny Ocean, which seemed to do him good.'[171] Murray
continued to exhort, but the final chapter did not reach him. 'My sale
is fixed for December 12th,' he writes in November, 'and if I cannot
show the book then I must throw it up.' This threat had little effect,
for on 13th December we find Murray still coaxing his dilatory author,
telling him with justice that there were passages in his book 'equal to
Defoe.' The very printer, Mr. Woodfall, joined in the chase. 'The public
is quite prepared to devour your book,' he wrote, which was unhappily
not the case. Nor was Ford a happier prophet, although a true friend
when he wrote--'I am sure it will be _the_ book of the year when it is
brought forth.'[172] The activity of Mrs. Borrow in this matter of the
publication of _Lavengro_ is interesting. 'My husband ... is, I assure
you, doing all he can as regards the completion of the book,' she
writes to Mr. Murray in December 1849, and in November of the following
year Murray writes to her to say that he is engraving Phillips's
portrait of Borrow for the book. 'I think a cheering letter from you
will do Mr. Borrow good,' she writes later. Throughout the whole
correspondence between publisher and printer we are impressed by Mrs.
Borrow's keen interest in her husband's book, her anxiety that he should
be humoured. Sadly did Borrow need to be humoured, for if he had
cherished the illusion that his book would really be the 'Book of the
Year' he was to suffer a cruel disillusion. Scarcely any one wanted it.
All the critics abused it. In _The Athenæum_ it was bluntly pronounced a
failure. 'The story of _Lavengro_ will content no one,' said Sir William
Stirling-Maxwell in _Fraser's Magazine_. The book 'will add but little
to Mr. Borrow's reputation,' said _Blackwood_. The only real insight
into the book's significance was provided by Thomas Gordon Hake in a
letter to _The New Monthly Review_, in which journal the editor,
Harrison Ainsworth, had already pronounced a not very favourable
opinion. '_Lavengro's_ roots will strike deep into the soil of English
letters,' wrote Dr. Hake, and he then pronounced a verdict now
universally accepted. George Henry Lewes once happily remarked that he
would make an appreciation of Boswell's _Life of Johnson_ a test of
friendship. Many of us would be almost equally inclined to make such a
test of Borrow's _Lavengro_. Tennyson declared that an enthusiasm for
Milton's _Lycidas_ was a touchstone of taste in poetry. May we not say
that an enthusiasm for Borrow's _Lavengro_ is now a touchstone of taste
in English prose literature?

But the reception of _Lavengro_ by the critics, and also by the
public,[173] may be said to have destroyed Borrow's moral fibre.
Henceforth, it was a soured and disappointed man who went forth to meet
the world. We hear much in the gossip of contemporaries of Borrow's
eccentricities, it may be of his rudeness and gruffness, in the last
years of his life. Only those who can realise the personality of a
self-contained man, conscious, as all genius has ever been, of its
achievement, and conscious also of the failure of the world to
recognise, will understand--and will sympathise.

Borrow, as we have seen, took many years to write _Lavengro_. 'I am
writing the work,' he told Dawson Turner, 'in precisely the same manner
as _The Bible in Spain_, viz., on blank sheets of old account-books,
backs of letters,' etc., and he recalls Mahomet writing the Koran on
mutton bones as an analogy to his own 'slovenliness of manuscript.'[174]
I have had plenty of opportunity of testing this slovenliness in the
collection of manuscripts of portions of _Lavengro_ that have come into
my possession. These are written upon pieces of paper of all shapes and
sizes, although at least a third of the book in Borrow's very neat
handwriting is contained in a leather notebook, of which I give examples
of the title-page and opening leaf in facsimile. The title-page
demonstrates the earliest form of Borrow's conception. Not only did he
then contemplate an undisguised autobiography, but even described
himself, as he frequently did in his conversation, as 'a Norfolk man.'
Before the book was finished, however, he repudiated the
autobiographical note, and by the time he sat down to write _The Romany
Rye_ we find him fiercely denouncing his critics for coming to such a
conclusion. 'The writer,' he declares, 'never said it was an
autobiography; never authorised any person to say it was one.' Which was
doubtless true, in a measure. Yet I find among my Borrow Papers the
following letter from Whitwell Elwin, who, writing from Booton Rectory
on 21st October 1852, and addressing him as 'My dear Mr. Borrow,' said:


_From the Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George Borrow
and his Circle.'_]

     I hoped to have been able to call upon you at Yarmouth, but a
     heavy cold first, and now occupation, have interfered with my
     intentions. I daresay you have seen the mention made of your
     _Lavengro_ in the article on Haydon in the current number of
     _The Quarterly Review_, and I thought you might like to know
     that every syllable, both comment and extract, was inserted by
     the writer (a man little given to praise) of his own _accord_.
     Murray sent him your book, and that was all. No addition or
     modification was made by myself, and it is therefore the
     unbiassed judgment of a _very critical_ reviewer. Whenever you
     appear again before the public I shall endeavour to do ample
     justice to your past and present merits, and there is one point
     in which you could aid those who understand you and your books
     in bringing over general readers to your side. I was myself
     acquainted with many of the persons you have sketched in your
     _Lavengro_, and I can testify to the extraordinary vividness
     and accuracy of the portraits. What I have seen, again, of
     yourself tells me that romantic adventures are your natural
     element, and I should _a priori_ expect that much of your
     history would be stranger than fiction. But you must remember
     that the bulk of readers have no personal acquaintance with
     you, or the characters you describe. The consequence is that
     they fancy there is an immensity of romance mixed up with the
     facts, and they are irritated by the inability to distinguish
     between them. I am confident, from all I have heard, that this
     was the source of the comparatively cold reception of
     _Lavengro_. I should have partaken the feeling myself if I had
     not had the means of testing the fidelity of many portions of
     the book, from which I inferred the equal fidelity of the rest.
     I think you have the remedy in your own hands, viz., by giving
     the utmost possible matter-of-fact air to your sequel. I do not
     mean that you are to tame down the truth, but some ways of
     narrating a story make it seem more credible than others, and
     if you were so far to defer to the ignorance of the public they
     would enter into the full spirit of your rich and racy
     narrative. You naturally look at your life from your own point
     of view, and this in itself is the best; but when you publish a
     book you invite the reader to participate in the events of your
     career, and it is necessary then to look a little at things
     from _his_ point of view. As he has not your knowledge you must
     stoop to him. I throw this out for your consideration. My sole
     wish is that the public should have a right estimate of you,
     and surely you ought to do what is in your power to help them
     to it. I know you will excuse the liberty I take in offering
     this crude suggestion. Take it for what it is worth, but


_From the Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George Borrow
and his Circle.'_]

To this letter, as we learn from Elwin's _Life_, 'instead of roaring
like a lion,' as Elwin had expected, he returned quite a 'lamb-like

Read by the light in which we all judge the book to-day, this estimate
by Elwin was about as fatuous as most contemporary criticisms of a
masterpiece. Which is only to say that it is rarely given to
contemporary critics to judge accurately of the great work that comes to
them amid a mass that is not great. That Elwin, although not a good
editor of Pope, was a sound critic of the literature of a period
anterior to his own is demonstrated by the admirable essays from his pen
that have been reprinted with an excellent memoir of him by his
son.[175] In this memoir we have a capital glimpse of our hero:

     Among the notables whom he had met was Borrow, whose _Lavengro_
     and _Romany Rye_ he afterwards reviewed in 1857 under the title
     of 'Roving Life in England,' Their interview was
     characteristic of both. Borrow was just then very sore with his
     snarling critics, and on some one mentioning that Elwin was a
     _quartering_ reviewer, he said, 'Sir, I wish you a better
     employment.' Then hastily changing the subject he called out,
     'What party are _you_ in the Church--Tractarian, Moderate, or
     Evangelical? I am happy to say I am the old _High_.' 'I am
     happy to say I am _not_,' was Elwin's emphatic reply. Borrow
     boasted of his proficiency in the Norfolk dialect, which he
     endeavoured to speak as broadly as possible. 'I told him,' said
     Elwin, 'that he had not cultivated it with his usual success.'
     As the conversation proceeded it became less disputatious, and
     the two ended by becoming so cordial that they promised to
     visit each other. Borrow fulfilled his promise in the following
     October, when he went to Booton,[176] and was 'full of anecdote
     and reminiscence,' and delighted the rectory children by
     singing them songs in the gypsy tongue. Elwin during this visit
     urged him to try his hand at an article for the _Review_.
     'Never,' he said; 'I have made a resolution never to have
     anything to do with such a blackguard trade.'

While writing of Whitwell Elwin and his association with Borrow, which
was sometimes rather strained as we shall see when _The Romany Rye_
comes to be published, it is interesting to turn to Elwin's final
impression of Borrow, as conveyed in a letter which the recipient[177]
has kindly placed at my disposal. It was written from Booton Rectory,
and is dated 27th October 1893:

     I used occasionally to meet Borrow at the house of Mr. Murray,
     his publisher, and he once stayed with me here for two or three
     days about 1855. He always seemed to me quite at ease 'among
     refined people,' and I should not have ascribed his dogmatic
     tone, when he adopted it, to his resentment at finding himself
     out of keeping with his society. A spirit of self-assertion was
     engrained in him, and it was supported by a combative
     temperament. As he was proud of his bodily prowess, and rather
     given to parade it, so he took the same view of an argument as
     of a battle with fists, and thought that manliness required him
     to be determined and unflinching. But this, in my experience of
     him, was not his ordinary manner, which was calm and
     companionable, without rudeness of any kind, unless some
     difference occurred to provoke his pugnacity. I have witnessed
     instances of his care to avoid wounding feelings needlessly. He
     never kept back his opinions which, on some points, were
     shallow and even absurd; and when his antagonist was as
     persistently positive as himself, he was apt to be over
     vehement in contradiction. I have heard Mr. Murray say that
     once in a dispute with Dr. Whewell at a dinner the language on
     both sides grew so fiery that Mrs. Whewell fainted.

     He told me that his composition cost him a vast amount of
     labour, that his first draughts were diffuse and crude, and
     that he wrote his productions several times before he had
     condensed and polished them to his mind. There is nothing
     choicer in the English language than some of his narratives,
     descriptions, and sketches of character, but in his best books
     he did not always prune sufficiently, and in his last work,
     _Wild Wales_, he seemed to me to have lost the faculty
     altogether. Mr. Murray long refused to publish it unless it was
     curtailed, and Borrow, with his usual self-will and
     self-confidence, refused to retrench the trivialities. Either
     he got his own way in the end, or he revised his manuscript to
     little purpose.

     Probably most of what there was to tell of Borrow has been
     related by himself. It is a disadvantage in _Lavengro_ and
     _Romany Rye_ that we cannot with certainty separate fact from
     fiction, for he avowed in talk that, like Goethe, he had
     assumed the right in the interests of his autobiographical
     narrative to embellish it in places; but the main outline, and
     larger part of the details, are the genuine record of what he
     had seen and done, and I can testify that some of his minor
     personages who were known to me in my boyhood are described
     with perfect accuracy.

Two letters by Mr. Elwin to Borrow, from my Borrow Papers, both dated
1853--two years after _Lavengro_ was written,--may well have place here:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                BOOTON, NORWICH, _Oct. 26, 1853._

     MY DEAR MR. BORROW,--I shall be rejoiced to see you here, and I
     hope you will fasten a little luggage to the bow of your
     saddle, and spend as much time under my roof as you can spare.
     I am always at home. Mrs. Elwin is sure to be in the house or
     garden, and I, at the worst, not further off than the extreme
     boundary of my parish. Pray come, and that quickly. Your
     shortest road from Norwich is through Horsford, and from thence
     to the park wall of Haverland Hall, which you skirt. This will
     bring you out by a small wayside public house, well known in
     these parts, called 'The Rat-catchers.' At this point you turn
     sharp to the left, and keep the straight road till you come to
     a church with a new red brick house adjoining, which is your
     journey's end.

     The conclusion of your note to me is so true in sentiment, and
     so admirable in expression, that I hope you will introduce it
     into your next work. I wish it had been said in the article on
     Haydon. Cannot you strew such criticisms through the sequel to
     _Lavengro_? They would give additional charm and value to the
     work. Believe me, very truly yours,

                W. ELWIN.

     You are of course aware that if _I_ had spoken of _Lavengro_ in
     the _Q.R._ I should have said much more, but as I hoped for my
     turn hereafter, I preferred to let the passage go forth

To George Borrow, Esq.

                BOOTON RECTORY, NORWICH, _Nov. 5, 1853._

     MY DEAR MR. BORROW,---You bore your mishap with a philosophic
     patience, and started with an energy which gives the best
     earnest that you would arrive safe and sound at Norwich. I was
     happy to find yesterday morning, by the arrival of your kind
     present, a sure notification that you were well home. Many
     thanks for the tea, which we drink with great zest and
     diligence. My legs are not as long as yours, nor my breath
     either. You soon made me feel that I must either turn back or
     be left behind, so I chose the former. Mrs. Elwin and my
     children desire their kind regards. They one and all enjoyed
     your visit. Believe me, very truly yours,

                W. ELWIN.

I have said that I possess large portions of _Lavengro_ in manuscript.
Borrow's always helpful wife, however, copied out the whole manuscript
for the publishers, and this 'clean copy' came to Dr. Knapp, who found
even here a few pages of very valuable writing deleted, and these he has
very rightly restored in Mr. Murray's edition of _Lavengro_. Why Borrow
took so much pains to explain that his wife had copied _Lavengro_, as
the following document implies, I cannot think. I find in his
handwriting this scrap of paper signed by Mary Borrow, and witnessed by
her daughter:

                _Janry. 30, 1869._

     This is to certify that I transcribed _The Bible in Spain_,
     _Lavengro_, and some other works of my husband George Borrow,
     from the original manuscripts. A considerable portion of the
     transcript of _Lavengro_ was lost at the printing-office where
     the work was printed.

                            MARY BORROW.

                Witness: Henrietta M., daughter of Mary Borrow.

It only remains here to state the melancholy fact once again that
_Lavengro_, great work of literature as it is now universally
acknowledged to be, was not 'the book of the year.' The three thousand
copies of the first issue took more than twenty years to sell, and it
was not until 1872 that Mr. Murray resolved to issue a cheaper edition.
The time was not ripe for the cult of the open road; the zest for 'the
wind on the heath' that our age shares so keenly.


[169] Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii p. 9.

[170] _Ibid._ p. 11.

[171] Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii. p. 19.

[172] Ford was right, however, if authors wrote only for posterity,
although 1851 was not a very important year among the great Victorian
writers. It produced Carlyle's _John Sterling_, Ruskin's _Stones of
Venice_, and Kingsley's _Yeast_.

[173] Mr. Murray published _Lavengro_ in an edition of 3000 copies in
1851, a second edition (incorrectly called the third) was not asked for
until 1872.

[174] Jenkins's _Life_, p. 387.

[175] _Some XVIII. Century Men of Letters: Biographical Essays_, by the
Rev. Whitwell Elwin, sometime Editor of _The Quarterly Review_, With a
Memoir by his son Warwick Elwin, 2 vols. John Murray, 1902.

[176] Whitwell Elwin was Rector of Booton, Norfolk--a family
living--from 1849 to his death, aged 83, on 1st January 1900. He
succeeded Lockhart as editor of _The Quarterly Review_ in 1853, and
resigned in 1860. He was born in 1816, and educated at Caius College,
Cambridge. Thackeray called him 'a grandson of the late Rev. Dr.
Primrose,' thereby recognising in Elwin many of the kindly qualities of
Goldsmith's admirable creation.

[177] Mr. James Hooper, of Norwich, whose kindness in placing this and
many other documents at my disposal I have already acknowledged. This
letter was first published in _The Sphere_, December 19, 1903.



If Borrow had been a normal man of letters he would have been quite
satisfied to settle down at Oulton, in a comfortable home, with a
devoted wife. The question of money was no longer to worry him. He had
moreover a money-making gift, which made him independent in a measure of
his wife's fortune. From _The Bible in Spain_ he must have drawn a very
considerable amount, considerable, that is, for a man whose habits were
always somewhat penurious. _The Bible in Spain_ would have been followed
up, were Borrow a quite other kind of man, by a succession of books
almost equally remunerative. Even for one so prone to hate both books
and bookmen there was always the wind on the heath, the gypsy
encampment, the now famous 'broad,' not then the haunt of innumerable
trippers. But Borrow ever loved wandering more than writing. Almost
immediately after his marriage--in 1840--he hinted to the Bible Society
of a journey to China; a year later, in June 1841, he suggested to Lord
Clarendon that Lord Palmerston might give him a consulship: he consulted
Hasfeld as to a possible livelihood in Berlin, and Ford as to travel in
Africa. He seems to have endured residence at Oulton with difficulty
during the succeeding three years, and in 1844 we find him engaged upon
the continental travel that we have already recorded. In 1847 he had
hopes of the consulship at Canton, but Bowring wanted it for himself,
and a misunderstanding over this led to an inevitable break of old
friendship. Borrow's passionate love of travel was never more to be
gratified at the expense of others. He tried hard, indeed, to secure a
journey to the East from the British Museum Trustees, and then gave up
the struggle. Further wanderings, which were many, were to be confined
to Europe and indeed to England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.
His first journey, however, was not at his own initiative. Mrs. Borrow's
health was unequal to the severe winters at Oulton, and so the Borrows
made their home at Yarmouth from 1853 to 1860. During these years he
gave his vagabond propensities full play. No year passed without its
record of wandering. His first expedition was the outcome of a burst of
notoriety that seems to have done for Borrow what the success of his
_Bible in Spain_ could not do--revealed his identity to his Cornish
relations. The _Bury Post_ of 17th September 1853 recorded that Borrow
had at the risk of his life saved at least one member of a boat's crew
wrecked on the coast at Yarmouth:

     The moment was an awful one, when George Borrow, the well-known
     author of _Lavengro_ and _The Bible in Spain_, dashed into the
     surf and saved one life, and through his instrumentality the
     others were saved. We ourselves have known this brave and
     gifted man for years, and, daring as was his deed, we have
     known him more than once to risk his life for others. We are
     happy to add that he has sustained no material injury.

I was quite sorry to find this extract from the _Bury Post_ among my
Borrow Papers in Mrs. Borrow's handwriting. It a little suggests that
she sent the copy to the journal in question, or at least inspired the
paragraph, perhaps in a letter to her friend, Dr. Gordon Hake, who with
his family then resided at Bury St. Edmunds. Borrow was a perfect
swimmer, and there is no reason to suppose but that he did act
heroically.[178] In my Borrow Papers I find in his handwriting his own
account of the adventure:

     I was seated on Yarmouth jetty; the weather was very stormy;
     there came a tremendous sea, which struck the jetty, and made
     it quiver; there was a boat on the lee-side of the jetty
     fastened by a painter; the surge snapped the painter like a
     thread, the boat was overset with two men in it, there was a
     cry, 'The men must be drowned.' I started up from my seat on
     the north side of the jetty, and saw the boat bottom upwards,
     and I heard some people say, 'The men are under it.' I ran a
     little way along the jetty, and then jumped upon the sand;
     before taking the leap I saw a man flung by the surge upon the
     shore; he crawled up upon the beach, and was, I believe, lifted
     up upon his legs by certain beachmen. I had my eye upon the
     boat, which was now near the shore; I had an idea that there
     was a man under it; I flung off my coat and hat, and went a
     little way into the sea, about parallel to some beachmen who
     were moving backwards and forwards as the waves advanced and
     receded. I now saw a man as a wave recoiled lying close by the
     boat in the reflux. I dashed forward and made a grip at the
     man, then came a tremendous wave which tumbled me heels over
     head; being an expert diver I did not attempt to rise, lest I
     should be flung on shore. When the wave receded, I found
     myself near the boat; the man was now nearer to the shore than
     myself. I believe a man or two were making towards him; another
     wave came which overwhelmed me, and flung me on the shore, to
     which I was now making with all my strength. I got on my legs
     for one moment, when the advanced guard, if I may call it so,
     of another wave, struck me on the back, and laid me upon my
     face, but I was now quite out of danger. A man now came and
     lifted me up, as others lifted up the other man, who seemed
     quite unable to exert himself. The above is a plain statement
     of facts. I was the only person, with the exception of the man
     in distress, who was in the deep water, or who confronted the
     billows, which were indeed monstrous, but which I cared little
     for, being, as I said before, an expert diver. Had I been alone
     the result of the affair would have been much the same; as it
     is, after the last wave I could easily have dragged the man up
     upon the beach. I am willing to give to the beachmen whatever
     credit is due to them; I am anxious to believe that one of them
     was once up to his middle in water, but truth compels me to
     state that I never saw one of them up to his knees. I received
     very uncivil language from one of them, but every species of
     respect and sympathy from the genteel part of the spectators. A
     gentleman, I believe from Norwich, and a policeman, attended me
     in a cab to my lodgings, where they undressed and dressed me.
     The kindness of these two individuals I shall never forget.

In any case this adventure had exceptional publicity. For example Mr.
Robert Cooke of John Murray's firm wrote to Mrs. Borrow on 13th October
1853 to say that while travelling abroad he had read in _Galignani's
Messenger_ an account of his friend Lavengro's 'daring and heroic act in
rescuing so many from a watery grave.' 'I wish they had all been
critics,' he adds; 'he would have done just the same, and they might
perhaps have shown their gratitude when they got among his inky waves of

More than this, the paragraph in the Bury St. Edmunds newspaper was
copied into the _Plymouth Mail_, and was there read by the Borrows of
Cornwall, who had heard nothing of their relative, Thomas Borrow, the
army captain and his family, for fifty years or more. One of Borrow's
cousins by marriage, Robert Taylor of Penquite, invited him to his
father's homeland, and Borrow accepted, glad, we may be sure, of any
excuse for a renewal of his wanderings. And so on the 23rd of December
1853 Borrow made his way from Yarmouth to Plymouth by rail, and thence
walked twenty miles to Liskeard, where quite a little party of Borrow's
cousins were present to greet him. The Borrow family consisted of Henry
Borrow of Looe Doun, the father of Mrs. Taylor, William Borrow of
Trethinnick, Thomas Nicholas and Elizabeth Borrow, all first cousins,
except Anne Taylor. Anne, talking to a friend, describes Borrow on this
visit better than any one else has done:

     A fine tall man of about six feet three; well-proportioned and
     not stout; able to walk five miles an hour successively; rather
     florid face without any hirsute appendages; hair white and
     soft; eyes and eyebrows dark; good nose and very nice mouth;
     well-shaped hands;--altogether a person you would notice in a

Dr. Knapp possessed two 'notebooks' of this Cornish tour. Borrow stayed
at Penquite with his cousins from 24th December to 9th January, then he
went on a walking tour to Land's End, through Truro and Penzance; he was
back at Penquite from 26th January to 1st February, and then took a
week's tramp to Tintagel, King Arthur's Castle, and Pentire. Naturally
he made inquiries into the language, already extinct, but spoken within
the memory of the older inhabitants. 'My relations are most excellent
people,' he wrote to his wife from London on his way back, 'but I could
not understand more than half of what they said.'

I have only one letter to Mrs. Borrow written during this tour:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                PENQUITE, _27th Janry. 1854._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--I just write you a line to inform you that I
     have got back safe here from the Land's End. I have received
     your two letters, and hope you received mine from the Land's
     End. It is probable that I shall yet visit one or two places
     before I leave Cornwall. I am very much pleased with the
     country. When you receive this if you please to write a line
     _by return of post_ I think you may; the Trethinnick people
     wish me to stay with them for a day or two. When you see the
     Cobbs pray remember me to them; I am sorry Horace has lost his
     aunt, he will _miss her_. Love to Hen. Ever yours, dearest,

                G. BORROW.

     (Keep this.)

One of Borrow's biographers, Mr. Walling, has given us the best account
of that journey through Cornwall,[180] and his explanation of why Borrow
did not write the Cornish book that he caused to be advertised in a
fly-leaf of _The Romany Rye_, by the discouragement arising out of the
dire failure of that book, may be accepted.[181] Borrow would have made
a beautiful book upon Cornwall. Even the title, _Penquite and Pentyre;
or, The Head of the Forest and the Headland_, has music in it. And he
had in these twenty weeks made himself wonderfully well acquainted not
only with the topography of the principality, but with its folklore and
legend. The gulf that ever separated the Borrow of the notebook and of
the unprepared letter from the Borrow of the finished manuscript was
extraordinary, and we may deplore with Mr. Walling the absence of this
among Borrow's many unwritten books.

Borrow was back in Yarmouth at the end of February 1854--he had not fled
the country as Dalrymple had suggested--but in July he was off again for
his great tour in Wales, in which he was accompanied by his wife and
daughter. Of that tour we must treat in another and later chapter, for
_Wild Wales_ was not published until 1862. The year following his great
tour in Wales he went on a trip to the Isle of Man.


[178] It is thus that an old schoolfellow, Dalrymple, describes the
episode in a fragment of manuscript in the possession of Mrs. James
Stuart of Carrow Abbey, from which I have already quoted:

'In 1850/2/3 Borrow lived at Yarmouth; he here made rather a ludicrous
exhibition of himself on the occasion of a wreck, when he ran into the
sea through a full tide up to his knees, with the utmost apparent
heroism, and retreated again as soon as he thought it might be
dangerous. He incurred so much ridicule that he abruptly quitted the
town, and I have not heard since of him.'

[179] Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii. p. 97. Letter from Mrs. Robert Taylor to
Mrs. Wilkey.

[180] _George Borrow, The Man and His Work_. By R. A. J. Walling.
Cassell, 1908.

[181] It is not generally known that not less than eleven books by
Borrow were advertised in the first edition of _The Romany Rye_ in 1857,
of which only two were published in his lifetime:

1. _Celtic Bards, Chiefs, and Kings._ 2 volumes.

2. _Wild Wales: Its People, Language, and Scenery._ 2 volumes.

3. _Songs of Europe, or Metrical Translations from all the European
Languages._ 2 volumes.

4. _Kæmpe Viser. Songs about Giants and Heroes._ 2 volumes.

5. _The Turkish Jester._ 1 volume.

6. _Penquite and Pentyre; or, The Head of the Forest and the Headland. A
Book on Cornwall._ 2 volumes.

7. _Russian Popular Tales._ 1 volume.

8. _The Sleeping Bard._ 1 volume.

9. _Norman Skalds, Kings, and Earls._ 2 volumes.

10. _The Death of Balder._ 1 volume.

11. _Bayr Jairgey and Glion Doo. Wanderings in Search of Manx
Literature._ 1 volume.

Of these _The Sleeping Bard_ appeared in 1860 and _Wild Wales_ in 1862;
and after Borrow's death _The Turkish Jester_ in 1884 and _The Death of
Balder_ in 1889. The remaining seven books have not yet been published.
Their manuscript is partly in the Knapp Collection now in the Hispanic
Society's possession, partly in my Collection, while certain fragments
and the manuscript of _Romano Lavo-Lil_ are in the possession of
well-known Borrow enthusiasts.



The holiday which Borrow gave himself the year following his visit to
Wales, that is to say, in September 1855, is recorded in his unpublished
diaries. He never wrote a book as the outcome of that journey, although
he caused one to be advertised under the title of _Bayr Jairgey and
Glion Doo: Wanderings in Search of Manx Literature_.[182] Dr. Knapp
possessed two volumes of these notebooks closely written in pencil.
These he reproduced conscientiously in his _Life_, and indeed here we
have the most satisfactory portion of his book, for the journal is
transcribed with but little modification, and so we have some thirty
pages of genuine 'Borrow' that are really very attractive reading.
Borrow, it will be remembered, learnt the Irish language as a mere
child, much to his father's disgust. Although he never loved the Irish
people, the Celtic Irish, that is to say, whose genial temperament was
so opposed to his own, he did love the Irish language, which he more
than once declared had incited him to become a student of many tongues.
He never made the mistake into which two of his biographers have fallen
of calling it 'Erse.' He was never an accurate student of the Irish
language, but among Englishmen he led the way in the present-day
interest in that tongue--an interest which is now so pronounced among
scholars of many nationalities, and has made in Ireland so definite a
revival of a language that for a time seemed to be on the way to
extinction. Two translations from the Irish are to be found in his
_Targum_ published so far back as 1835, and many other translations from
the Irish poets were among the unpublished manuscripts that he left
behind him. It would therefore be with peculiar interest that he would
visit the Isle of Man which, at the beginning of the nineteenth century,
was an Irish-speaking land, but in 1855 was at a stage when the language
was falling fast into decay. What survived of it was still Irish with
trifling variations in the spelling of words. 'Cranu,' a tree, for
example, had become 'Cwan,' and so on--although the pronunciation was
apparently much the same. When the tall, white-haired Englishman talked
to the older inhabitants who knew something of the language they were
delighted. 'Mercy upon us,' said one old woman, 'I believe, sir, you are
of the old Manx!' Borrow was actually wandering in search of Manx
literature, as the title of the book that he announced implied. He
inquired about the old songs of the island, and of everything that
survived of its earlier language. Altogether Borrow must have had a good
time in thus following his favourite pursuit.

But Dr. Knapp's two notebooks, which are so largely taken up with these
philological matters, are less human than a similar notebook that has
fallen into my hands. This is a long leather pocket-book, in which,
under the title of 'Expedition to the Isle of Man,' we have, written in
pencil, a quite vivacious account of his adventures. It records that
Borrow and his wife and daughter set out through Bury to Peterborough,
Rugby, and Liverpool. It tells of the admiration with which
Peterborough's 'noble cathedral' inspired him. Liverpool he calls a
'London in miniature':

     Strolled about town with my wife and Henrietta; wonderful docks
     and quays, where all the ships of the world seemed to be
     gathered--all the commerce of the world to be carried on; St.
     George's Crescent; noble shops; strange people walking about,
     an Herculean mulatto, for example; the old china shop; cups
     with Chinese characters upon them; an horrible old Irishwoman
     with naked feet; Assize Hall a noble edifice.

The party left Liverpool on 20th August, and Borrow, when in sight of
the Isle of Man, noticed a lofty ridge of mountains rising to the

     Entered into conversation with two of the crew--Manx
     sailors--about the Manx language; one, a very tall man, said he
     knew only a very little of it as he was born on the coast, but
     that his companion, who came from the interior, knew it well;
     said it was a mere gibberish. This I denied, and said it was an
     ancient language, and that it was like the Irish; his
     companion, a shorter man, in shirt sleeves, with a sharp, eager
     countenance, now opened his mouth and said I was right, and
     said that I was the only gentleman whom he had ever heard ask
     questions about the Manx language. I spoke several Irish words
     which they understood.

When he had landed he continued his investigations, asking every peasant
he met the Manx for this or that English word:

     'Are you Manx?' said I. 'Yes,' he replied, 'I am Manx.' 'And
     what do you call a river in Manx?' 'A river,' he replied. 'Can
     you speak Manx?' I demanded. 'Yes,' he replied, 'I speak Manx.'
     'And you call a river a river?' 'Yes,' said he, 'I do.' 'You
     don't call it owen?' said I. 'I do not,' said he. I passed on,
     and on the other side of the bridge went for some time along an
     avenue of trees, passing by a stone water-mill, till I came to
     a public-house on the left hand. Seeing a woman looking out of
     the window, I asked her to what place the road led. 'To
     Castletown,' she replied. 'And what do you call the river in
     Manx?' said I. 'We call it an owen,' said she. 'So I thought,'
     I replied, and after a little further discourse returned, as
     the night was now coming fast on.

One man whom Borrow asked if there were any poets in Man replied that he
did not believe there were, that the last Manx poet had died some time
ago at Kirk Conoshine, and this man had translated Parnell's _Hermit_
beautifully, and the translation had been printed. He inquired about the
Runic Stones, which he continually transcribed. Under date Thursday,
30th August, we find the following:

     This day year I ascended Snowdon, and this morning, which is
     very fine, I propose to start on an expedition to Castletown
     and to return by Peel.

Very gladly would I follow Borrow more in detail through this
interesting holiday by means of his diary,[183] but it would make my
book too long. As he had his wife and daughter with him there are no
letters by him from the island. But wherever Borrow went he met people
who were interested in him, and so I find the following letter among his
Papers, which he received a year after his return:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                3 ALBERT TERRACE, DOUGLAS, _11 February 1856._

     MY DEAR SIR,--If experience on report has made you acquainted
     with the nature of true Celtic indolence and procrastination
     you will be prepared to learn, without surprise, that your
     Runic stone still remains unerected.[184] In vain have I called
     time after time upon the clerk of Braddan--in vain have I
     expostulated. Nothing could I get but fair words and fair
     promises. First he was very rheumatic, having, according to his
     own account, contracted his dolorous aches in the course of
     that five-hours' job under your superintendence in the steeple,
     where, it seems, a merciless wind is in the habit of disporting
     itself. Then the weather was so unfavourable, then his wife was
     ailing, etc., etc. On Saturday, however, armed with your potent
     note, I made another attack, and obtained a promise that the
     stone should be in its right place on that day of the week
     following. So I await the result. My own private impression is
     that if we see the achievement complete by Easter there will be
     much cause for thankfulness.

     Many thanks for _The Illustrated News_; I read the article with
     great interest, and subsequently studied the stone itself as
     well as its awkward position in its nook in the steeple would
     allow me. Your secret, I need hardly say, was faithfully kept
     till the receipt of the news assured me that it need be a
     secret no longer. I may just mention that the clerk thinks that
     the sovereign you left will be quite enough to defray the
     expenses. I think so too; at least if there be anything more it
     cannot be worth mentioning. Though no Manxman myself still I
     shall take the liberty of thanking you in the name of Mona--may
     I not add in the name of Antiquarian Science too--for your
     liberality in this matter. Mrs. Borrow, I trust, is
     convalescent by this time, and Miss Clarke well. With our
     united kind regards, believe me, my dear Sir, very sincerely

                S. W. WANTON.

And even three years later we find that Borrow has not forgotten the
friends of that Manx holiday. This letter is from the Vicar of Malew in
acknowledgment of a copy of _The Romany Rye_ published in the interval:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                MALEW VICARAGE, BALLASALLA, ISLE OF MAN, _27 Jany. 1859._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I return you my most hearty thanks for your most
     handsome present of _Romany Rye_, and no less handsome letter
     relative to your tour in the Isle of Man and the literature of
     the Manx. Both I value very highly, and from both I shall
     derive useful hints for my introduction to the new edition of
     the _Manx Grammar_. I hope you will have no objection to my
     quoting a passage or two from the advertisement of your
     forthcoming book; and if I receive no intimation of your
     dissent, I shall take it for granted that I have your kind
     permission. The whole notice is so apposite to my purpose, and
     would be so interesting to every Manxman, that I would fain
     insert the whole bodily, did the Author and the limits of an
     Introduction permit. The _Grammar_ will, I think, go to press
     in March next. It is to be published under the auspices of 'The
     Manx Society,' instituted last year 'for the publication of
     National documents of the Isle of Man.' As soon as it is
     printed I hope to beg the favour of your acceptance of a
     copy.--I am, my dear Sir, your deeply obliged humble servant,

                WILLIAM GILL.

The letter from Mr. Wanton directs us to the issue of _The Illustrated
London News_ for 8th December 1855, where we find the following note on
the Isle of Man, obviously contributed to that journal by Borrow,
together with an illustration of the Runic Stone, which is also
reproduced here:



     For upwards of seventy years a stone which, as far as it could
     be discerned, had the appearance of what is called a Danish
     cross, has been known to exist in the steeple of Kirk Braddan,
     Isle of Man. It was partly bedded in mortar and stones above
     the lintel of a doorway leading to a loft above the gallery.
     On the 19th of November it was removed from its place under the
     superintendence of an English gentleman who had been travelling
     about the island. It not only proved to be a Northern cross,
     but a Runic one; that is, it bore a Runic inscription. As soon
     as the stone had been taken out of the wall, the gentleman in
     question copied the inscription and translated it, to the best
     of his ability, in the presence of the church clerk who had
     removed the stone. The Runes were in beautiful preservation,
     and looked as fresh as if they had just come out of the
     workshop of Orokoin Gaut. Unfortunately the upper part of the
     cross was partly broken, so that the original inscription was
     not entire. In the inscription, as it is, the concluding word
     is mutilated; in its original state it was probably 'sonr,'
     son; the Runic character which answers to _s_ being distinct,
     and likewise the greater part of one which stands for _o_. Yet
     there is reason for believing that sonr was not the concluding
     word of the original, but the penultimate, and that the
     original terminated with some Norwegian name: we will suppose
     'Olf.' The writing at present on the stone is to this effect:


     The names Otr and Fruki have never before been found on any of
     the Runic stones in the Isle of Man. The words _In_ ...
     Thorwiaori, which either denote the place where the individual
     to whom they relate lived, or one of his attributes or
     peculiarities, will perhaps fling some light on the words In
     ... Aruthur, which appear on the beautiful cross which stands
     nearly opposite the door of Kirk Braddan.

     The present cross is curiously ornamented. The side which we
     here present to the public bears two monsters, perhaps intended
     to represent dragons, tied with a single cord, which passes
     round the neck and body of one whose head is slightly averted,
     whilst, though it passes round the body of the other, it leaves
     the neck free. Little at present can be said about the other
     side of the stone, which is still in some degree covered with
     the very hard mortar in which it was found lying. The gentleman
     of whom we have already spoken, before leaving the island, made
     arrangements for placing the stone beside the other cross,
     which has long been considered one of the principal ornaments
     of the beautiful churchyard of Braddan.


[182] In vol. ii. of _The Romany Rye_, _vide supra_.

[183] The whole of this diary, which is the best original work that
Borrow left behind him unpublished, will be issued in my edition of _The
Collected Works_.

[184] Borrow found the stone had fallen, and he left money for its
re-erection. He copied this stone on 13th September 1855, noting in his
diary that Henrietta sketched the church while he copied and translated
the inscription which ran as follows--_Thorleifr Nitki raised this Cross
to Fiak, son of his brother's son_, the date being 1084 or 1194 A.D.



George Borrow wandered far and wide, but he always retraced his
footsteps to East Anglia, of which he was so justly proud. From his
marriage in 1840 until his death in 1881 he lived twenty-seven years at
Oulton or at Yarmouth. 'It is on sand alone that the sea strikes its
true music,' Borrow once remarked, 'Norfolk sand'--and it was in the
waves and on the sands of the Norfolk coast that Borrow spent the
happiest hours of his restless life. Oulton Cottage is only about two
miles from Lowestoft, and so, walking or driving, these places were
quite near one another. But both are in Suffolk. Was it because
Yarmouth--ten miles distant--is in Norfolk that it was always selected
for seaside residence? I suspect that the careful Mrs. Borrow found a
wider selection of 'apartments' at a moderate price. In any case the sea
air of Yarmouth was good for his wife, and the sea bathing was good for
him, and so we find that husband and wife had seven separate residences
at Yarmouth during the years of Oulton life.[185] But Oulton was ever to
be Borrow's headquarters, even though between 1860 and 1874 he had a
house in London. Borrow was thirty-seven years of age when he settled
down at Oulton.

[Illustration: _Copyright of Mrs. Simms Reeve_


Taken in the garden of Mrs. Simms Reeve of Norwich in 1848. This is the
only photograph of George Borrow extant, although two paintings of him
exist, one by Henry Wyndham Phillips, which forms the frontispiece of
this volume, taken in 1843, and an earlier portrait by his brother John,
which will be found facing page 32]

He was, he tells us in _The Romany Rye_, 'in tolerably easy
circumstances and willing to take some rest after a life of labour.'
Their home was a cottage on the Broad, for the Hall, which was also Mrs.
Borrow's property, was let on lease to a farmer.[186] The cottage,
however, was an extremely pleasant residence with a lawn running down to
the river. A more substantial house has been built on this site since
Borrow's day. The summer-house is generally assumed to be the same, but
has certainly been reroofed since the time when Henrietta Clarke drew
the picture of it that is reproduced in this book. Probably the whole
summer-house is new, but at any rate the present structure stands on the
site of the old one. Here Borrow did his work, wrote and wrote and
wrote, until he had, as he said, 'Mountains of manuscripts.' Here first
of all he completed _The Zincali_ (1841), commenced in Seville; then he
wrote or rather arranged _The Bible in Spain_ (1843), and then at long
intervals, diversified by extensive travel holidays, he wrote _Lavengro_
(1851), _The Romany Rye_ (1857), and _Wild Wales_ (1860),--these are the
five books and their dates that we most associate with Borrow's sojourn
at Oulton. When _Wild Wales_ was published he had removed to London.
Borrow brought with him to Oulton, as we have said, a beautiful Arabian
horse, Sidi Habismilk, and a Jewish servant, Hayim Ben Attar. The horse
remained to delight the neighbourhood. It followed Borrow like a dog
when he was not riding it. The Jew had soon had enough of this rural
retreat and sighed for a sunnier clime. Thus, under date 1843, I find
among my Borrow Papers the following letter to a firm of shipbrokers:

To Messrs. Nickols and Marshal, London.

                _4th July 1843._

     GENTLEMEN,--Having received a communication from Liverpool from
     Harry Palmer, Esq., stating that you are his agents in London,
     and that as such he has requested you to communicate with us
     relative to a passage required for a man sent to Cadiz or
     Gibraltar, I shall as briefly as possible state the
     particulars. Mr. Palmer names £7 or £8 as the lowest which he
     thinks it will cost us to get him to Gibraltar or Cadiz. This
     we consider is a large sum when it is to be remembered that he
     is to fare as the ship's crew fare, and with the exception of a
     berth to lie down in, no difference is required at this
     beautiful season of the year. I must here state as an excuse
     for the above remark that this man came to England at his own
     particular desire. I have been at much expense about him. He
     has had good wages, but now that he wants to get back to his
     own country the whole expense is thrown upon me, as he has
     saved no money, and we wish it to be clearly understood by the
     captain who will take him that when he is once off from England
     and his passage paid that we will be responsible for no further
     expense whatever. We do not want to get him to Tangier, as we
     shall put money in his pocket which will enable him to pay for
     a passage across if he wishes to go there, but we will pay only
     to Gibraltar or Cadiz. A steam vessel sails from Yarmouth
     bridge every Wednesday and Friday. This will be the most direct
     and safe way to send him to London, and then trouble you to
     have him met at the steamer and conveyed to the ship at once in
     which he is to have his passage. All therefore that remains to
     be done is to trouble you to give us a few days' notice with
     time to get him up per Yarmouth steamer. I beg to thank you for
     the willingness you expressed to Mr. Palmer to assist me in
     this affair by getting as cheap a passage as you can and seeing
     him on board and the passage _not_ paid till the ship sails.
     You no doubt can quite understand our anxious feelings upon the
     subject from your connection with shipping, and consequently
     knowing what foreigners generally are.--I am, Sir, Your
     obedient servant,

                G. H. BORROW.[187]

Then we have the following document with which his cautious master
provided himself:

     A Statement of Hayim Ben Attar previous to his leaving England.

     I declare that it was my own wish to come to England with my
     master G. H. Borrow, who offered to send me to my own country
     before he left Spain. That I have regularly received the
     liberal wages he agreed to give me from the first of my coming
     to him. That I have been treated justly and kindly by him
     during my stay in England, and that I return to my country at
     my own wish and request, and at my master's expense. To this
     statement, which I declare to be true, I sign my name.--HAYIM

     Declared before me this 9 of August 1843.

                W. M. HAMMOND, Magistrate for Great Yarmouth.

I find a letter among my Papers which bears no name, and is probably a
draft. It contains an interesting reference to Hayim Ben Attar, and
hence I give it here:

     SIR,--I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your
     letter of the 17th inst., which my friend, Mr. Murray, has just
     forwarded to me. I am afraid that you attribute to me powers
     and information which I am by no means conscious of possessing;
     I should feel disposed to entertain a much higher opinion of
     myself than I at present do could I for a moment conceive
     myself gifted with the talent of inducing any endeavour to
     dismiss from his mind a theory of the reasonableness of which
     appears to him obvious. Nevertheless, as you do me the honour
     of asking my opinion with respect to the theory of Gypsies
     being Jews by origin, I hasten to answer to the following
     effect. I am not prepared to acknowledge the reasonableness of
     any theory which cannot be borne out by the slightest proof.
     Against the theory may be offered the following arguments which
     I humbly consider to be unanswerable. The Gypsies differ from
     the Jews in feature and complexion--in whatever part of the
     world you find the Gypsy you recognise him at once by his
     features which are virtually the same--the Jew likewise has a
     peculiar countenance by which at once he may be distinguished
     as a Jew, but which would certainly prevent the probability of
     his being considered as a scion of the Gypsy stock--in proof of
     which assertion I can adduce the following remarkable instance.

     I have in my service a Jew, a native of Northern Africa. Last
     summer I took him with me to an encampment of Romanies or
     Gypsies near my home at Oulton in Suffolk. I introduced him to
     the Chief, and said, Are ye not dui patos (two brothers). The
     Gypsy passed his hand over the Jew's face and stared him in the
     eyes, then turning to me he answered--we are not two brothers,
     not two brothers--this man is no rom--I believe him to be a
     Jew. Now this Gypsy has been in the habit of seeing German and
     English Jews who must have been separated from their African
     brothers for a term of 1700 years--yet he recognised the Jew of
     Troy for what he was--a Jew--and without hesitation declared
     that he was not a rom; the Jews, therefore, and the Gypsies
     have each their peculiar and distinctive features, which
     disprove the impossibility of their having been originally the
     same people.--Your obedient servant,

                GEORGE BORROW.

I find also in this connection a letter from Tangier addressed to 'Mr.
H. George Borrow' under date 2nd November 1847. It tells us that the
worthy Jew longs once again to see the 'dear face' of his master. Since
he left his service he has married and has two sons, but he is anxious
to return to England if that same master will find him work. We can
imagine that by this time Borrow had had enough of Hayim Ben Attar, and
that his answer was not encouraging.

But by far the best glimpses of Borrow during these years of Suffolk
life are those contained in a letter contributed by his friend,
Elizabeth Harvey, to _The Eastern Daily Press_ of Norwich over the
initials 'E.H.':[188]

     When I knew Mr. Borrow he lived in a lovely cottage whose
     garden sloped down to the edge of Oulton Broad. He had a wooden
     room built on the very margin of the water, where he had many
     strange old books in various languages. I remember he once put
     one before me, telling me to read it. 'Oh, I can't,' I replied.
     He said, 'You ought, it's your own language.' It was an old
     Saxon book. He used to spend a great deal of his time in this
     room writing, translating, and at times singing strange words
     in a stentorian voice, while passers-by on the lake would stop
     to listen with astonishment and curiosity to the singular
     sounds. He was 6 feet 3 inches, a splendid man, with handsome
     hands and feet. He wore neither whiskers, beard, nor
     moustache. His features were very handsome, but his eyes were
     peculiar, being round and rather small, but very piercing, and
     now and then fierce. He would sometimes sing one of his Romany
     songs, shake his fist at me and look quite wild. Then he would
     ask, 'Aren't you afraid of me?' 'No, not at all,' I would say.
     Then he would look just as gentle and kind, and say, 'God bless
     you, I would not hurt a hair of your head,' He was an expert
     swimmer, and used to go out bathing, and dive under water an
     immense time. On one occasion he was bathing with a friend, and
     after plunging in nothing was seen of him for some while. His
     friend began to be alarmed, when he heard Borrow's voice a long
     way off exclaiming, 'There, if that had been written in one of
     my books they would have said it was a lie, wouldn't they?' He
     was very fond of animals, and the animals were fond of him. He
     would go for a walk with two dogs and a cat following him. The
     cat would go a quarter of a mile or so and then turn back home.
     He delighted to go for long walks and enter into conversation
     with any one he might meet on the road, and lead them into
     histories of their lives, belongings, and experiences. When
     they used some word peculiar to Norfolk (or Suffolk) countrymen
     he would say, 'Why, that's a Danish word.' By and by the man
     would use another peculiar expression, 'Why, that's Saxon'; a
     little later on another, 'Why, that's French.' And he would
     add, 'Why, what a wonderful man you are to speak so many
     languages.' One man got very angry, but Mr. Borrow was quite
     unconscious that he had given any offence. He spoke a great
     number of languages, and at the Exhibition of 1851, whither he
     went with his stepdaughter, he spoke to the different
     foreigners in their own language, until his daughter saw some
     of them whispering together and looking as if they thought he
     was 'uncanny,' and she became alarmed and drew him away. He,
     however, did not like to hear the English language adulterated
     with the introduction of foreign words. If his wife or friends
     used a foreign word in conversation, he would say, 'What's
     that, trying to come over me with strange languages.'

     I have gone for many a walk with him at Oulton. He used to go
     on, singing to himself or quite silent, quite forgetting me
     until he came to a high hill, when he would turn round, seize
     my hand, and drag me up. Then he would sit down and enjoy the
     prospect. He was a great lover of nature, and very fond of his
     trees. He quite fretted if, by some mischance, he lost one. He
     did not shoot or hunt. He rode his Arab at times, but walking
     was his favourite exercise. He was subject to fits of nervous
     depression. At times also he suffered from sleeplessness, when
     he would get up and walk to Norwich (25 miles), and return the
     next night recovered. His fondness for the gypsies has been
     noticed. At Oulton he used to allow them to encamp in his
     grounds, and he would visit them, with a friend or alone, talk
     to them in Romany, and sing Romany songs. He was very fond of
     ghost stories and believed in the supernatural. He was keenly
     sympathetic with any one who was in trouble or suffering. He
     was no man of business and very guileless, and led a very
     harmless, quiet life at Oulton, spending his evenings at home
     with his wife and stepdaughter, generally reading all the
     evening. He was very hospitable in his own home, and detested
     meanness. He was moderate in eating and drinking, took very
     little breakfast, but ate a very great quantity at dinner, and
     then had only a draught of cold water before going to bed. He
     wrote much in praise of 'strong ale,' and was very fond of good
     ale, of whose virtue he had a great idea. Once I was speaking
     of a lady who was attached to a gentleman, and he asked, 'Well,
     did he make her an offer?' 'No,' I said. 'Ah,' he exclaimed,
     'if she had given him some good ale he would.' But although he
     talked so much about ale I never saw him take much. He was very
     temperate, and would eat what was set before him, often not
     thinking of what he was doing, and he never refused what was
     offered him. He took much pleasure in music, especially of a
     light and lively character. My sister would sing to him, and I
     played. One piece he seemed never to tire of hearing. It was a
     polka, 'The Redowa,' I think, and when I had finished he used
     to say, 'Play that again, E----.' He was very polite and
     gentlemanly in ladies' society, and we all liked him.

It is refreshing to read this tribute, from which I have omitted nothing
salient, because a very disagreeable Borrow has somehow grown up into a
tradition. I note in reading some of the reviews of Dr. Knapp's _Life_
that he is charged, or half-charged, with suppressing facts, 'because
they do not reflect credit upon the subject of his biography.' Now,
there were really no facts to suppress. Borrow was at times a very
irritable man, he was a very self-centred one. His egotism might even be
pronounced amazing by those who had never met an author. But those of us
who have, recognise that with very few exceptions they are all egotists,
although some conceal it from the unobservant more deftly than others.
Let me recall Mr. Arthur Christopher Benson's verses on 'My Poet.'

    He came; I met him face to face,
      And shrank amazed, dismayed; I saw
    No patient depth, no tender grace,
      No prophet of the eternal law.

    But weakness, fretting to be great,
      Self-consciousness with sidelong eye,
    The impotence that dares not wait
      For honour, crying 'This is I.'

    The tyrant of a sullen hour,
      He frowned away our mild content;
    And insight only gave him power
      To see the slights that were not meant.[189]

Many successful and unsuccessful authors, living and dead, are here
described, and Borrow was far from one of the worst. He was quarrelsome,
and I rather like him for that. If he was a good hater he was also a
very loyal friend, as we find Miss Elizabeth Harvey and, in after years,
Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton testifying. Moreover, Borrow had a grievance
of a kind that has not often befallen a man of his literary power. He
had written a great book in _Lavengro_, and the critics and the public
refused to recognise that it was a great book. Many authors of power
have died young and unrecognised; but recognition has usually come to
those men of genius who have lived into middle age. It did not come to
Borrow. He had therefore a right to be soured. This sourness found
expression in many ways. Borrow, most sound of churchmen, actually
quarrelled with his vicar over the tempers of their respective dogs.
Both the vicar, the Rev. Edwin Proctor Denniss, and his parishioner
wrote one another acrid letters. Here is Borrow's parting shot:

     Circumstances over which Mr. Borrow has at present no control
     will occasionally bring him and his family under the same roof
     with Mr. Denniss; that roof, however, is the roof of the House
     of God, and the prayers of the Church of England are wholesome
     from whatever mouth they may proceed.[190]

Surely that is a kind of quarrel we have all had in our day, and we
think ourselves none the less virtuous in consequence. Then there was
Borrow's very natural ambition to be made a magistrate of Suffolk. He
tells Mr. John Murray in 1842 that he has caught a bad cold by getting
up at night in pursuit of poachers and thieves. 'A terrible
neighbourhood this,' he adds, 'not a magistrate dare do his duty.' And
so in the next year he wrote again to the same correspondent:

     Present my compliments to Mr. Gladstone, and tell him that the
     _Bible in Spain_ will have no objection to becoming one of the
     'Great Unpaid.'

Mr. Gladstone, although he had admired _The Bible in Spain_, and indeed
had even suggested the modification of one of its sentences, did
nothing. Lockhart, Lord Clarendon, and others who were applied to were
equally powerless or indifferent. Borrow never got his magistracy.
To-day no man of equal eminence in literature could possibly have failed
of so slight an ambition. Moreover, Borrow wanted to be a J.P., not from
mere snobbery as many might, but for a definite, practical object. I am
afraid he would not have made a very good magistrate, and perhaps
inquiry had made that clear to the authorities. Lastly, there was
Borrow's quarrel with the railway which came through his estate. He had
thoughts of removing to Bury, where Dr. Hake lived, or to Troston Hall,
once the home of the interesting Capell Lofft. But he was not to leave
Oulton. In intervals of holidays, journeys, and of sojourn in Yarmouth
it was to remain his home to the end. In 1849 his mother joined him at
Oulton. She had resided for thirty-three years at the Willow Lane
Cottage. She was now seventy-seven years of age. She lived-on near her
son as a tenant of his tenant at Oulton Hall until her death nine years
later, dying in 1858 in her eighty-seventh year. She lies buried in
Oulton Churchyard, with a tomb thus inscribed:

     Sacred to the memory of Ann Borrow, widow of Captain Thomas
     Borrow. She died on the 16th of August 1858, aged eighty-six
     years and seven months. She was a good wife and a good mother.

During these years at Oulton we have many glimpses of Borrow. Dr.
Jessopp, for example, has recorded in _The Athenæum_[191] newspaper his
own hero-worship for the author of _Lavengro_, whom he was never to
meet. This enthusiasm for _Lavengro_ was shared by certain of his
Norfolk friends of those days:

     Among those friends were two who, I believe, are still alive,
     and who about the year 1846 set out, without telling me of
     their intention, on a pilgrimage to Oulton to see George Borrow
     in the flesh. In those days the journey was not an
     inconsiderable one; and though my friends must have known that
     I would have given my ears to be of the party, I suppose they
     kept their project to themselves for reasons of their own. Two,
     they say, are company and three are none; two men could ride in
     a gig for sixty miles without much difficulty, and an odd man
     often spoils sport. At any rate, they left me out, and one day
     they came back full of malignant pride and joy and exultation,
     and they flourished their information before me with boastings
     and laughter at my ferocious jealousy; for they had seen, and
     talked with, and eaten and drunk with, and sat at the feet of
     the veritable George Borrow, and had grasped his mighty hand.
     To me it was too provoking. But what had they to tell?

     They found him at Oulton, living, as they affirmed, in a house
     which belonged to Mrs. Borrow and which her first husband had
     left her. The household consisted of himself, his wife, and his
     wife's daughter; and among his other amusements he employed
     himself in training some young horses to follow him about like
     dogs and come at the call of his whistle. As my two friends
     were talking with him Borrow sounded his whistle in a paddock
     near the house, which, if I remember rightly, was surrounded by
     a low wall. Immediately two beautiful horses came bounding over
     the fence and trotted up to their master. One put his nose into
     Borrow's outstretched hand and the other kept snuffing at his
     pockets in expectation of the usual bribe for confidence and
     good behaviour. Borrow could not but be flattered by the young
     Cambridge men paying him the frank homage they offered, and he
     treated them with the robust and cordial hospitality
     characteristic of the man. One or two things they learnt which
     I do not feel at liberty to repeat.

Mr. Arthur W. Upcher of Sheringham Hall, Cromer, also provided in _The
Athenæum_[192] a quaint reminiscence of Borrow in which he recalled that
Lavengro had called upon Miss Anna Gurney. This lady had, assuredly with
less guile, treated him much as Frances Cobbe would have done. She had
taken down an Arabic grammar, and put it into his hand, asking for
explanation of some difficult point which he tried to decipher; but
meanwhile she talked to him continuously. 'I could not,' said Borrow,
'study the Arabic grammar and listen to her at the same time, so I threw
down the book and ran out of the room.' He soon after met Mr. Upcher, to
whom he made an interesting revelation:

     He told us there were three personages in the world whom he had
     always a desire to see; two of these had slipped through his
     fingers, so he was determined to see the third. 'Pray, Mr.
     Borrow, who were they?' He held up three fingers of his left
     hand and pointed them off with the forefinger of the right: the
     first Daniel O'Connell, the second Lamplighter (the sire of
     Phosphorus, Lord Berners's winner of the Derby), the third,
     Anna Gurney. The first two were dead and he had not seen them;
     now he had come to see Anna Gurney, and this was the end of his

Mr. William Mackay, who now lives at Oulton Broad, where he has heard
all the village gossip about Borrow and his _ménage_, and we may hope
has discounted it fully, furnishes me with the following impression of
Borrow, which is of a much later date than those I have just given:

     I met Borrow in 1869 at the house of Dr. Gordon Hake at Coombe
     End, near the top of Roehampton Lane, Wimbledon Common. My
     recollection is of a tall, broad-shouldered old man, stooping
     a little, engaged in reading a small volume held close to his
     eyes. Something Yorkshire about his powerful build, but little
     tolerance or benevolence in his expression. A fine, strongly
     marked clean shaven face, but with no kindliness or sense of
     humour indicated in its lines. In loosely made broadcloth he
     gave the idea of a nonconformist minister--a Unitarian, judging
     from the intellectuality betrayed in his countenance. To me he
     was always civil and, even, genial, for he did not know that I
     was a writing fellow. But to others casually met he seemed to
     be invariably and intolerably rude. He could not brook
     contradiction--particularly on religious topics. He was an
     earnest believer. But it was in the God of Battles that he
     believed. And he would be delighted at any time to prove in a
     stand-up fight the honesty of his convictions. In the union of
     a deep religious fervour with an overwhelming love of
     fighting--sheer physical hand-to-hand fighting--he was an
     interesting study. In this curious blending of what appear to
     be opposite qualities he resembled General Gordon, who, by the
     way, was a cousin of Dr. Gordon Hake at whose place I met

     He was a splendid liar too. Not in the ordinary domestic
     meaning of the word. But he lied largely, picturesquely, like
     Baron Munchausen. That is one of the reasons that he did not
     take to the literary persons whom he met at Hake's. Perhaps he
     was afraid that some of them would steal his thunder, or
     perhaps he had a contempt for their serious pose. But to those
     whom he did not suspect of literary leanings he lied
     delightfully. That fine boys' book, _The Bible in Spain_, is, I
     should say, chiefly lies. I have heard him reel off adventures
     as amazing as any in the Spanish reminiscences, related as
     having happened on the very Common which we were crossing.
     Theodore Watts, who first met Borrow at Hake's, appears to have
     got on all right with him. But then Watts would get on with
     anybody. Besides, the two men had a common topic in Romany
     lore. But toward the literary man in general his attitude was
     pretty much that of Carlyle. He was contemptuous towards those
     who followed his own trade.

At one moment of the correspondence we obtain an interesting glimpse of
a great man of science. Mr. Darwin sent the following inquiry through
Dr. Hooker, afterwards Sir Joseph Hooker, and it reached Borrow through
his friend Thomas Brightwell:

     Is there any Dog in Spain closely like our English Pointer, in
     _shape_ and size, and _habits_,--namely in pointing, backing,
     and not giving tongue. Might I be permitted to quote Mr.
     Borrow's answer to the query? Has the improved English pointer
     been introduced into Spain?

                C. DARWIN.


Borrow took constant holidays during these Oulton days. We have
elsewhere noted his holidays in Eastern Europe, in the Isle of Man, in
Wales, and in Cornwall. Letters from other parts of England would be
welcome, but I can only find two, and these are but scraps. Both are
addressed to his wife, each without date:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                OXFORD, _Feb. 2nd._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I reached this place yesterday and hope to be
     home to-night (Monday). I walked the whole way by Kingston,
     Hampton, Sunbury (Miss Oriel's place), Windsor, Wallingford,
     etc., a good part of the way was by the Thames. There has been
     much wet weather. Oxford is a wonderful place. Kiss Hen., and
     God bless you!

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                TUNBRIDGE WELLS, _Tuesday evening._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I have arrived here safe--it is a wonderful
     place, a small city of palaces amidst hills, rocks, and woods,
     and is full of fine people. Please to carry up stairs and lock
     in the drawer the little paper sack of letters in the parlour;
     lock it up with the bank book and put this along with it--also
     be sure to keep the window of my room fastened and the door
     locked, and keep the key in your pocket. God bless you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

One of the very last letters of Borrow that I possess is to an unknown
correspondent. It is from a rough 'draft' in his handwriting:

                OULTON, LOWESTOFT, _May 1875._

     SIR,--Your letter of the eighth of March I only lately
     received, otherwise I should have answered it sooner. In it you
     mention Chamberlayne's work, containing versions of the Lord's
     Prayer translated into a hundred languages, and ask whether I
     can explain why the one which purports to be a rendering into
     Waldensian is evidently made in some dialect of the Gaelic. To
     such explanation as I can afford you are welcome, though
     perhaps you will not deem it very satisfactory. I have been
     acquainted with Chamberlayne's work for upwards of forty years.
     I first saw it at St. Petersburg in 1834, and the translation
     in question very soon caught my attention. I at first thought
     that it was an attempt at imposition, but I soon relinquished
     that idea. I remembered that Helvetia was a great place for
     Gaelic. I do not mean in the old time when the Gael possessed
     the greater part of Europe, but at a long subsequent period:
     Switzerland was converted to Christianity by Irish monks, the
     most active and efficient of whom was Gall. These people
     founded schools in which together with Christianity the Irish
     or Gaelic language was taught. In process of time, though the
     religion flourished, the Helveto Gaelic died away, but many
     pieces in that tongue survived, some of which might still
     probably be found in the recesses of St. Gall. The noble abbey
     is named after the venerable apostle of Christianity in
     Helvetia; so I deemed it very possible that the version in
     question might be one of the surviving fruits of Irish
     missionary labour in Helvetia, not but that I had my doubts,
     and still have, principally from observing that the language
     though certainly not modern does not exhibit any decided marks
     of high antiquity. It is much to be regretted that Chamberlayne
     should have given the version to the world under a title so
     calculated to perplex and mislead as that which it bears, and
     without even stating how or where he obtained it. This, sir, is
     all I have to say on the very obscure subject about which you
     have done me the honour to consult me.--Yours truly,

                GEORGE BORROW.


[185] They lived first at 169 King Street, then at two addresses
unknown, then successively at 37, 38 and 39 Camperdown Terrace, their
last address was 28 Trafalgar Place.

[186] Borrow's letters were frequently addressed to Oulton Hall, but he
never lived here. Oulton Hall was the name given to the farm house which
went with Oulton Hall Farm. 'Old inhabitants,' writes Mr. William Mackay
of Oulton Broad to me, 'remember that seventy years ago it was occupied
by Skepper, who was succeeded by Grimmer, who was succeeded by Smith.'
'I can find no one,' continues Mr. Mackay, 'who recollects old Mrs.
Borrow lodging at the farm house. But what more likely? And it was
characteristic of Borrow--don't you think?--that he should hold out
"Oulton Hall" as an address to those who were not likely to visit him.'
When Mrs. Borrow, senior, was persuaded to leave Willow Lane, Norwich,
for Oulton, her son took lodgings for her at the 'Hall,' and here she
died. Very commonplace farm houses in East Anglia are frequently called
'halls,' to the great amazement of visitors from other counties,
although there are some very noble ones, as, for example, Kirkstead,
Swineshead, Parham and Dalling.

[187] This was in reply to a letter from Mr. Harry Palmer which ran as
follows:--'When in London on Thursday I saw the captain and brothers of
several vessels bound to Gibraltar and Cadiz, and the passage money
required will be about £10. The _Warblington_ will leave to-morrow, the
latter part of next week, and should you decide upon sending your
servant I have requested Messrs. Nickols and Marshal to attend to any
communication you may make to them, who will do their utmost to get him
out at the least possible expense, and pay the passage money upon his
leaving England, and make arrangements with the captain for his passage
to Tangier. As Gibraltar would be as convenient as Cadiz, have little
doubt Messrs. Nickols and Co. would be able to get him out for £7 or £8.
I have a vessel now loading in this port for Barcelona, to which port
(if you could send him to Liverpool) should be happy to take him and
then send him forward to his destination.'

[188] _The Eastern Daily Press_, 1st October 1892. The Harveys were
great friends of Borrow, and he left one of them co-executor with Mrs.
MacOubrey of his estate. Miss Harvey's impressions make an interesting
contrast to those of Miss Frances Power Cobbe. I have to thank Mr. A.
Cozens-Hardy, the editor of _The Eastern Daily Press_, for courteously
furnishing me with copies of these letters, and for giving me permission
to use them here.

[189] _The Poems of A. C. Benson_, p. 213: Published by John Lane, 1909.

[190] Dr. Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii, p. 41.

[191] _The Athenæum_, July 8, 1893. Dr. Jessopp's feeling for Borrow was
much more kindly then than when he supplied to the London _Daily
Chronicle_ of 30th April 1900 an article which had better not have been

[192] Letter to _The Athenæum_, July 22, 1893.



Borrow has himself given us--in _Lavengro_--a picturesque record of his
early experiences in Scotland. It is passing strange that he published
no account of his two visits to the North in maturer years. Why did he
not write _Wild Scotland_ as a companion volume to _Wild Wales_? He
preserved in little leather pocket-books or leather-covered
exercise-books copious notes of both tours. Two of his notebooks came
into the possession of the late Dr. Knapp, Borrow's first biographer,
and are thus described in his Bibliography:

     _Note Book of a Tour in Scotland, the Orkneys and Shetland in
     Oct. and Dec. 1858._ 1 large vol. leather.

     _Note Book of Tours around Belfast and the Scottish Borders
     from Stranraer to Berwick-upon-Tweed in July and August 1866._
     1 vol. leather.

Of these Dr. Knapp made use only to give the routes of Borrow's journeys
so far as he was able to interpret them. It may be that he was doubtful
as to whether his purchase of the manuscript carried with it the
copyright of its contents, as it assuredly did not; it may be that he
quailed before the minute and almost undecipherable handwriting. But
similar notebooks are in my possession, and there are, happily, in
these days typists--you pay them by the hour, and it means an infinity
of time and patience--who will copy the most minute and the most obscure
documents. There are some of the notebooks of the Scottish tour of 1858
before me, and what is of far more importance--Borrow's letters to his
wife while on this tour. Borrow lost his mother in August 1858, and this
event was naturally a great blow to his heart. A week or two later he
suffered a cruel blow to his pride also, nothing less than the return of
the manuscript of his much-prized translation from the Welsh of _The
Sleeping Bard_--and this by his 'prince of publishers,' John Murray.
'There is no money in it,' said the publisher, and he was doubtless
right.[193] The two disasters were of different character, but both
unhinged him. He had already written _Wild Wales_, although it was not
to be published for another four years. He had caused to be
advertised--in 1857--a book on Cornwall, but it was never written in any
definitive form, and now our author had lost heart, and the Cornish
book--_Penquite and Pentyre_--and the Scots book never saw the light. In
these autumn months of 1858 geniality and humour had parted from Borrow;
this his diary makes clear. He was ill. His wife urged a tour in
Scotland, and he prepared himself for a rough, simple journey, of a kind
quite different from the one in Wales. The north of Scotland in the
winter was scarcely to be thought of for his wife and stepdaughter
Henrietta. He tells us in one of these diaries that he walked 'several
hundred miles in the Highlands.' His wife and daughter were with him in
Wales, as every reader of _Wild Wales_ will recall, but the Scots tour
was meant to be a more formidable pilgrimage, and they went to Great
Yarmouth instead. The first half of the tour--that of September--is
dealt with in letters to his wife, the latter half is reflected in his
diary. The letters show Borrow's experiences in the earlier part of his
journey, and from his diaries we learn that he was in Oban on 22nd
October, Aberdeen on 5th November, Inverness on the 9th, and thence he
went to Tain, Dornoch, Wick, John o'Groat's, and to the island towns,
Stromness, Kirkwall, and Lerwick. He was in Shetland on the 1st of
December--altogether a bleak, cheerless journey, we may believe, even
for so hardy a tramp as Borrow, and the tone of the following extract
from one of his rough notebooks in my possession may perhaps be
explained by the circumstance. Borrow is on the way to Loch Laggan and
visits a desolate churchyard, Coll Harrie, to see the tomb of John
Macdonnel or Ian Lom:

     I was on a Highland hill in an old Popish burying-ground. I
     entered the ruined church, disturbed a rabbit crouching under
     an old tombstone--it ran into a hole, then came out running
     about like wild--quite frightened--made room for it to run out
     by the doorway, telling it I would not hurt it--went out again
     and examined the tombs.... Would have examined much more but
     the wind and rain blew horribly, and I was afraid that my hat,
     if not my head, would be blown into the road over the hill.
     Quitted the place of old Highland Popish devotion--descended
     the hill again with great difficulty--grass slippery and the
     ground here and there quaggy, resumed the road--village--went
     to the door of house looking down the valley--to ask its
     name--knock--people came out, a whole family, looking sullen
     and all savage. The stout, tall young man with the grey savage
     eyes--civil questions--half-savage answers--village's name
     Achaluarach--the neighbourhood--all Catholic--chiefly
     Macdonnels; said the English, _my countrymen_, had taken the
     whole country--'but not without paying for it,' I replied--said
     I was soaking wet with a kind of sneer, but never asked me in.
     I said I cared not for wet. A savage, brutal Papist and a hater
     of the English--the whole family with bad countenances--a tall
     woman in the background probably the mother of them all. Bade
     him good-day, he made no answer and I went away. Learnt that
     the river's name was Spean.

He passed through Scotland in a disputative vein, which could not have
made him a popular traveller. He tells a Roman Catholic of the Macdonnel
clan to read his Bible and 'trust in Christ, not in the Virgin Mary and
graven images.' He went up to another man who accosted him with the
remark that 'It is a soft day,' and said, 'You should not say a "soft"
day, but a wet day.' Even the Spanish, for whom he had so much contempt
and scorn when he returned from the Peninsula, are 'in many things a
wise people'--after his experiences of the Scots. There is abundance of
Borrow's prejudice, intolerance, and charm in this fragment of a
diary[194]; but the extract I have given is of additional interest as
showing how Borrow wrote all his books. The notebooks that he wrote in
Spain and Wales were made up of similar disjointed jottings. Here is a
note of more human character interspersed with Borrow's diatribes upon
the surliness of the Scots. He is at Invergarry, on the Banks of Loch
Oich. It is the 5th of October:

     Dinner of real haggis; meet a conceited schoolmaster. This
     night, or rather in the early morning, I saw in the dream of my
     sleep my dear departed mother--she appeared to be coming out of
     her little sleeping-room at Oulton Hall--overjoyed I gave a
     cry and fell down at her knee, but my agitation was so great
     that it burst the bonds of sleep, and I awoke.

But the letters to Mrs. Borrow are the essential documents here, and not
the copious diaries which I hope to publish elsewhere. The first letter
to 'Carreta' is from Edinburgh, where Borrow arrived on Sunday, 19th
September 1858:

To Mrs. George Borrow, 38 Camperdown Place, Yarmouth, Norfolk

                EDINBURGH, _Sunday (Sept. 19th, 1858)._

DEAR CARRETA,--I just write a line to inform you that I arrived here
yesterday quite safe. We did not start from Yarmouth till past three
o'clock on Thursday morning; we reached Newcastle about ten on Friday.
As I was walking in the street at Newcastle a sailor-like man came
running up to me, and begged that I would let him speak to me. He
appeared almost wild with joy. I asked him who he was, and he told me he
was a Yarmouth north beach man, and that he knew me very well. Before I
could answer, another sailor-like, short, thick fellow came running up,
who also seemed wild with joy; he was a comrade of the other. I never
saw two people so out of themselves with pleasure, they literally danced
in the street; in fact, they were two of my old friends. I asked them
how they came down there, and they told me that they had been down
fishing. They begged a thousand pardons for speaking to me, but told me
they could not help it. I set off for Alnwick on Friday afternoon,
stayed there all night, and saw the castle next morning. It is a fine
old place, but at present is undergoing repairs--a Scottish king was
killed before its walls in the old time. At about twelve I started for
Edinburgh. The place is wonderfully altered since I was here, and I
don't think for the better. There is a Runic stone on the castle brae
which I am going to copy. It was not there in my time. If you write
direct to me at the Post Office, Inverness. I am thinking of going to
Glasgow to-morrow, from which place I shall start for Inverness by one
of the packets which go thither by the North-West and the Caledonian
Canal. I hope that you and Hen are well and comfortable. Pray eat plenty
of grapes and partridges. We had upon the whole a pleasant passage from
Yarmouth; we lived plainly but well, and I was not at all ill--the
captain seemed a kind, honest creature. Remember me kindly to Mrs.
Turnour and Mrs. Clarke, and God bless you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

In his unpublished diary Borrow records his journey from Glasgow through
beautiful but over-described scenery to Inverness, where he stayed at
the Caledonian Hotel:

To Mrs. George Borrow, 38 Camperdown Place, Yarmouth

                INVERNESS, _Sunday (Sept. 26th)._

DEAR CARRETA,--This is the third letter which I have written to you.
Whether you have received the other two, or will receive this, I am
doubtful. I have been several times to the post office, but we found no
letter from you, though I expected to find one awaiting me when I
arrived. I wrote last on Friday. I merely want to know once how you are,
and if all is well I shall move onward. It is of not much use staying
here. After I had written to you on Friday I crossed by the ferry over
the Firth and walked to Beauly, and from thence to Beaufort or Castle
Downie; at Beauly I saw the gate of the pit where old Fraser used to put
the people whom he owed money to--it is in the old ruined cathedral, and
at Beaufort saw the ruins of the house where he was born. Lord Lovat
lives in the house close by. There is now a claimant to the title, a
descendant of old Fraser's elder brother who committed a murder in the
year 1690, and on that account fled to South Wales. The present family
are rather uneasy, and so are their friends, of whom they have a great
number, for though they are flaming Papists they are very free of their
money. I have told several of their cousins that the claimant has not a
chance as the present family have been so long in possession. They
almost blessed me for saying so. There, however, can be very little
doubt that the title and estate, more than a million acres, belong to
the claimant by strict law. Old Fraser's brother was called Black John
of the Tasser. The man whom he killed was a piper who sang an insulting
song to him at a wedding. I have heard the words and have translated
them; he was dressed very finely, and the piper sang:

    'You're dressed in Highland robes, O John,
      But ropes of straw would become ye better;
    You've silver buckles your shoes upon
      But leather thongs for them were fitter.'

     Whereupon John drew his dagger and ran it into the piper's
     belly; the descendants of the piper are still living at Beauly.
     I walked that day thirty-four miles between noon and ten
     o'clock at night. My letter of credit is here. This is a dear
     place, but not so bad as Edinburgh. _If you have written_,
     don't write any more till you hear from me again. God bless you
     and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

'Swindled out of a shilling by rascally ferryman,' is Borrow's note in
his diary of the episode that he relates to his wife of crossing the
Firth. He does not tell her, but his diary tells us, that he changed his
inn on the day he wrote this letter: the following jottings from the
diary cover the period:

     _Sept. 29th._--Quit the 'Caledonian' for 'Union Sun'--poor
     accommodation--could scarcely get anything to eat--unpleasant
     day. Walked by the river--at night saw the comet again from the

     _Sept. 30th._--Breakfast. The stout gentleman from Caithness,
     Mr. John Miller, gave me his card--show him mine--his delight.

     _Oct. 1st._--Left Inverness for Fort Augustus by
     steamer--passengers--strange man--tall gentleman--half
     doctor--breakfast--dreadful hurricane of wind and rain--reach
     Fort Augustus--inn--apartments--Edinburgh ale--stroll over the
     bridge to a wretched village--wind and rain--return--fall
     asleep before fire--dinner--herrings, first-rate--black ale,
     Highland mutton--pudding and cream--stroll round the fort--wet
     grass--stormy-like--wind and rain--return--kitchen--kind,
     intelligent woman from Dornoch--no Gaelic--shows me a Gaelic
     book of spiritual songs by one Robertson--talks to me about
     Alexander Cumming, a fat blacksmith and great singer of Gaelic

But to return to Borrow's letters to his wife:

To Mrs. George Borrow, 38 Camperdown Terrace, Gt. Yarmouth

                INVERNESS, _September 29th, 1858._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--I have got your letter, and glad enough I was
     to get it. The day after to-morrow I shall depart from here for
     Fort Augustus at some distance up the lake. After staying a few
     days there, I am thinking of going to the Isle of Mull, but I
     will write to you if possible from Fort Augustus. I am rather
     sorry that I came to Scotland--I was never in such a place in
     my life for cheating and imposition, and the farther north you
     go the worse things seem to be, and yet I believe it is
     possible to live very cheap here, that is if you have a house
     of your own and a wife to go out and make bargains, for things
     are abundant enough, but if you move about you are at the mercy
     of innkeepers and suchlike people. The other day I was swindled
     out of a shilling by a villain to whom I had given it for
     change. I ought, perhaps, to have had him up before a
     magistrate provided I could have found one, but I was in a wild
     place and he had a clan about him, and if I had had him up I
     have no doubt I should have been outsworn. I, however, have met
     one fine, noble old fellow. The other night I lost my way
     amongst horrible moors and wandered for miles and miles without
     seeing a soul. At last I saw a light which came from the window
     of a rude hovel. I tapped at the window and shouted, and at
     last an old man came out; he asked me what I wanted, and I told
     him I had lost my way. He asked me where I came from and where
     I wanted to go, and on my telling him he said I had indeed lost
     my way, for I had got out of it at least four miles, and was
     going away from the place I wanted to get to. He then said he
     would show me the way, and went with me for several miles over
     most horrible places. At last we came to a road where he said
     he thought he might leave me, and wished me good-night. I gave
     him a shilling. He was very grateful and said, after
     considering, that as I had behaved so handsomely to him he
     would not leave me yet, as he thought it possible I might yet
     lose my way. He then went with me three miles farther, and I
     have no doubt that, but for him, I should have lost my way
     again, the roads were so tangled. I never saw such an old
     fellow, or one whose conversation was so odd and entertaining.
     This happened last Monday night, the night of the day in which
     I had been swindled of the shilling by the other; I could write
     a history about those two shillings.

To Mrs. George Borrow, 39 Camperdown Terrace, Gt. Yarmouth

                INVERNESS, _30th September 1858._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I write another line to tell you that I have got
     your second letter--it came just in time, as I leave to-morrow.
     In your next, address to George Borrow, Post Office, Tobermory,
     Isle of Mull, Scotland. You had, however, better write without
     delay, as I don't know how long I may be there; and be sure
     only to write once. I am glad we have got such a desirable
     tenant for our Maltings, and should be happy to hear that the
     cottage was also let so well. However, let us be grateful for
     what has been accomplished. I hope you wrote to Cooke as I
     desired you, and likewise said something about how I had waited
     for Murray.... I met to-day a very fat gentleman from
     Caithness, at the very north of Scotland; he said he was
     descended from the Norse. I talked to him about them, and he
     was so pleased with my conversation that he gave me his card,
     and begged that I would visit him if I went there. As I could
     do no less, I showed him my card--I had but one--and he no
     sooner saw the name than he was in a rapture. I am rather glad
     that you have got the next door, as the locality is highly
     respectable. Tell Hen that I copied the Runic stone on the
     Castle Hill, Edinburgh. It was brought from Denmark in the old
     time. The inscription is imperfect, but I can read enough of
     it to see that it was erected by a man to his father and
     mother. I again write the direction for your next: George
     Borrow, Esq., Post Office, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland.
     God bless you and Hen. Ever yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow, 39 Camperdown Terrace, Gt. Yarmouth

                FORT AUGUSTUS, _Sunday, October 17th, 1858._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I write a line lest you should be uneasy. Before
     leaving the Highlands I thought I would see a little more about
     me. So last week I set on a four days' task, a walk of a
     hundred miles. I returned here late last Thursday night. I
     walked that day forty-five miles; during the first twenty the
     rain poured in torrents and the wind blew in my face. The last
     seventeen miles were in the dark. To-morrow I proceed towards
     Mull. I hope that you got my letters, and that I shall find
     something from you awaiting me at the post office. The first
     day I passed over Corryarrick, a mountain 3000 feet high. I was
     nearly up to my middle in snow. As soon as I had passed it I
     was in Badenoch. The road on the farther side was horrible, and
     I was obliged to wade several rivulets, one of which was very
     boisterous and nearly threw me down.[195] I wandered through a
     wonderful country, and picked up a great many strange legends
     from the people I met, but they were very few, the country
     being almost a desert, chiefly inhabited by deer. When amidst
     the lower mountains I frequently heard them blaring in the
     woods above me. The people at the inn here are by far the
     nicest I have met; they are kind and honourable to a degree.
     God bless you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow, 39 Camperdown Terrace, Yarmouth

                (Fragment? undated.)

     On Tuesday I am going through the whole of it to Icolmkill--I
     should start to-morrow--but I must get my shoes new soles, for
     they have been torn to pieces by the roads, and likewise some
     of my things mended, for they are in a sad condition.

     I shall return from Thurso to Inverness, as I shall want some
     more money to bring me home. So pray do not let the credit be
     withdrawn. What a blessing it is to have money, but how
     cautious people ought to be not to waste it. Pray remember me
     most kindly to our good friend Mr. Hills. Send the Harveys the
     pheasant as usual with my kind regards. I think you should
     write to Mr. Dalton of Bury telling him that I have been
     unwell, and that I send my kind regards and respects to him. I
     send dear Hen a paper in company with this, in which I have
     enclosed specimens of the heather, the moss and the fern, or
     'raineach,' of Mull.--God bless you both,

                GEORGE BORROW.

     Do not delay in sending the order. Write at the same time
     telling me how you are.

To Mrs. George Borrow, 39 Camperdown Terrace, Yarmouth, Norfolk

                INVERNESS, _Nov. 7th, 1858._

     DEAR CARRETA,--After I wrote to you I walked round Mull and
     through it, over Benmore. I likewise went to Icolmkill, and
     passed twenty-four hours there. I saw the wonderful ruin and
     crossed the island. I suffered a great deal from hunger, but
     what I saw amply repaid me; on my return to Tobermory I was
     rather unwell, but got better. I was disappointed in a passage
     to Thurso by sea, so I was obliged to return to this place by
     train.[196] On Tuesday, D. V., I shall set out on foot, and
     hope to find your letter awaiting me at the post office at
     Thurso. On coming hither by train I nearly lost my things. I
     was told at Huntly that the train stopped ten minutes, and
     meanwhile the train drove off _purposely_; I telegraphed to
     Keith in order that my things might be secured, describing
     where they were, under the seat. The reply was that there was
     nothing of the kind there. I instantly said that I would bring
     an action against the company, and walked off to the town,
     where I stated the facts to a magistrate, and gave him my name
     and address. He advised me to bring my action. I went back and
     found the people frightened. They telegraphed again--and the
     reply was that the things were safe. There is nothing like
     setting oneself up sometimes. I was terribly afraid I should
     never again find my books and things. I, however, got them, and
     my old umbrella, too. I was sent on by the mail train, but lost
     four hours, besides undergoing a great deal of misery and
     excitement. When I have been to Thurso and Kirkwall I shall
     return as quick as possible, and shall be glad to get out of
     the country. As I am here, however, I wish to see all I can,
     for I never wish to return. Whilst in Mull I lived very
     cheaply--it is not costing me more than seven shillings a day.
     The generality of the inns, however, in the lowlands are
     incredibly dear--half-a-crown for breakfast, consisting of a
     little tea, a couple of small eggs, and bread and butter--_two_
     shillings for attendance. Tell Hen that I have some moss for
     her from Benmore--also some seaweed from the farther shore of
     Icolmkill. God bless you.

                GEORGE BORROW.

I do not possess any diaries or notebooks covering the period of the
following letters. The diary which covers this period is mentioned in
the bibliography attached to Dr. Knapp's _Life of Borrow_, which, with
the rest of Dr. Knapp's Borrow papers, is now in the possession of the
Hispanic Society, New York.

                THURSO, _21st Nov. 1858._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--I reached this place on Friday night, and was
     glad enough to get your kind letter. I shall be so glad to get
     home to you. Since my last letter to you I have walked nearly
     160 miles. I was terribly taken in with respect to
     distances--however, I managed to make my way. I have been to
     Johnny Groat's House, which is about twenty-two miles from this
     place. I had tolerably fine weather all the way, but within two
     or three miles of that place a terrible storm arose; the next
     day the country was covered with ice and snow. There is at
     present here a kind of Greenland winter, colder almost than I
     ever knew the winter in Russia. The streets are so covered with
     ice that it is dangerous to step out; to-morrow D. and I pass
     over into Orkney, and we shall take the first steamer to
     Aberdeen and Inverness, from whence I shall make the best of my
     way to England. It is well that I have no farther to walk, for
     walking now is almost impossible--the last twenty miles were
     terrible, and the weather is worse now than it was then. I was
     terribly deceived with respect to steamboats. I was told that
     one passed over to Orkney every day, and I have now been
     waiting two days, and there is not yet one. I have had quite
     enough of Scotland. When I was at Johnny Groat's I got a shell
     for dear Hen, which I hope I shall be able to bring or send to
     her. I am glad to hear that you have got out the money on
     mortgage so satisfactorily. One of the greatest blessings in
     this world is to be independent. My spirits of late have been
     rather bad, owing principally to my dear mother's death. I
     always knew that we should miss her. I dreamt about her at Fort
     Augustus. Though I have walked so much I have suffered very
     little from fatigue, and have got over the ground with
     surprising facility, but I have not enjoyed the country so much
     as Wales. I wish that you would order a hat for me against I
     come home; the one I am wearing is very shabby, having been so
     frequently drenched with rain and storm-beaten. I cannot say
     the exact day that I shall be home, but you may be expecting
     me. The worst is that there is no depending on the steamers,
     for there is scarcely any traffic in Scotland in winter. My
     appetite of late has been very poorly, chiefly, I believe,
     owing to badness of food and want of regular meals. Glad
     enough, I repeat, shall I be to get home to you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

                Kirkwall, Orkney, _November 27th, 1858. Saturday._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I am, as you see, in Orkney, and I expect every
     minute the steamer which will take me to Shetland and Aberdeen,
     from which last place I go by train to Inverness, where my
     things are, and thence home. I had a stormy passage to
     Stromness, from whence I took a boat to the Isle of Hoy, where
     I saw the wonderful Dwarf's House hollowed out of the stone.
     From Stromness I walked here. I have seen the old Norwegian
     Cathedral; it is of red sandstone, and looks as if cut out of
     rock. It is different from almost everything of the kind I ever
     saw. It is stern and grand to a degree. I have also seen the
     ruins of the old Norwegian Bishop's palace in which King Hacon
     died; also the ruins of the palace of Patrick, Earl of Orkney.
     I have been treated here with every kindness and civility. As
     soon as the people knew who I was they could scarcely make
     enough of me. The Sheriff, Mr. Robertson, a great Gaelic
     scholar, said he was proud to see me in his house; and a young
     gentleman of the name of Petrie, Clerk of Supply, has done
     nothing but go about with me to show me the wonders of the
     place. Mr. Robertson wished to give me letters to some
     gentleman at Edinburgh. I, however, begged leave to be excused,
     saying that I wished to get home, as, indeed, I do, for my mind
     is wearied by seeing so many strange places. On my way to
     Kirkwall I saw the stones of Stennis--immense blocks of stone
     standing up like those of Salisbury Plain. All the country is
     full of Druidical and Pictish remains. It is, however, very
     barren, and scarcely a tree is to be seen, only a few dwarf
     ones. Orkney consists of a multitude of small islands, the
     principal of which is Pomona, in which Kirkwall is. The
     currents between them are terrible. I hope to be home a few
     days after you receive these lines, either by rail or steamer.
     This is a fine day, but there has been dreadful weather here. I
     hope we shall have a prosperous passage. I have purchased a
     little Kirkwall newspaper, which I send you with this letter. I
     shall perhaps post both at Lerwick or Aberdeen. I sent you a
     Johnny Groat's newspaper, which I hope you got. Don't tear
     either up, for they are curious. God bless you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

                STIRLING, _Dec. 14th, 1858._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I write a line to tell you that I am well and
     that I am on my way to England, but I am stopped here for a
     day, for there is no conveyance. Wherever I can walk I get on
     very well--but if you depend on coaches or any means of
     conveyance in this country you are sure to be disappointed.
     This place is but thirty-five miles from Edinburgh, yet I am
     detained for a day--there is no train. The waste of that day
     will prevent me getting to Yarmouth from Hull by the steamer.
     Were it not for my baggage I would walk to Edinburgh. I got to
     Aberdeen, where I posted a letter for you. I was then obliged
     to return to Inverness for my luggage--125 miles. Rather than
     return again to Aberdeen, I sent on my things to Dunkeld and
     walked the 102 miles through the Highlands. When I got here I
     walked to Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine, thirty-eight miles over
     horrible roads. I then got back here. I have now seen the whole
     of Scotland that is worth seeing, and have walked 600 miles. I
     shall be glad to be out of the country; a person here must
     depend entirely upon himself and his own legs. I have not spent
     much money--my expenses during my wanderings averaged a
     shilling a day. As I was walking through Strathspey, singularly
     enough I met two or three of the Phillips. I did not know them,
     but a child came running after me to ask me my name. It was
     Miss P. and two of the children. I hope to get to you in two or
     three days after you get this. God bless you and dear Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

In spite of Borrow's vow never to visit Scotland again, he was there
eight years later--in 1866--but only in the lowlands. His stepdaughter,
Hen., or Henrietta Clarke, had married Dr. MacOubrey, of Belfast, and
Borrow and his wife went on a visit to the pair. But the incorrigible
vagabond in Borrow was forced to declare itself, and leaving his wife
and daughter in Belfast he crossed to Stranraer by steamer on 17th July
1866, and tramped through the lowlands, visiting Ecclefechan and Gretna
Green. We have no record of his experiences at these places. The only
literary impression of the Scots tour of 1866, apart from a brief
reference in Dr. Knapp's _Life_, is an essay on Kirk Yetholm in _Romano
Lavo-Lil_. We would gladly have exchanged it for an account of his
visits to Abbotsford and Melrose, two places which he saw in August of
this year.

In his letter of 27th November from Kirkwall it will be seen that Borrow
records the kindness received from 'a young gentleman of the name of
Petrie.' It is pleasant to find that when he returned to England he did
not forget that kindness, as the next letter demonstrates:

To George Petrie, Esq., Kirkwall

                39 CAMPERDOWN PLACE, YARMOUTH, _Jany. 14, 1859._

     MY DEAR SIR,--Some weeks ago I wrote to Mr. Murray (and)
     requested him to transmit to you two works of mine. Should you
     not have received them by the time this note reaches you, pray
     inform me and I will write to him again. They may have come
     already, but whenever they may come to hand, keep them in
     remembrance of one who will never forget your kind attention to
     him in Orkney.

     On reaching Aberdeen I went to Inverness by rail. From there I
     sent off my luggage to Dunkeld, and walked thither by the
     Highland road. I never enjoyed a walk more--the weather was
     tolerably fine, and I was amidst some of the finest scenery in
     the world. I was particularly struck with that of Glen Truim.
     Near the top of the valley in sight of the Craig of Badenoch on
     the left hand side of the way, I saw an immense cairn, probably
     the memorial of some bloody clan battle. On my journey I picked
     up from the mouth of an old Highland woman a most remarkable
     tale concerning the death of Fian or Fingal. It differs
     entirely from the Irish legends which I have heard on the
     subject--and is of a truly mythic character. Since visiting
     Shetland I have thought a great deal about the Picts, but
     cannot come to any satisfactory conclusion. Were they Celts?
     were they Laps? Macbeth could hardly have been a Lap, but then
     the tradition of the country that they were a diminutive race,
     and their name Pight or Pict, which I almost think is the same
     as petit--pixolo--puj--pigmy. It is a truly perplexing
     subject--quite as much so as that of Fingal, and whether he
     was a Scotsman or an Irishman I have never been able to decide,
     as there has been so much to be said on both sides of the
     question. Please present my kind remembrances to Mrs. Petrie
     and all friends, particularly Mr. Sheriff Robertson,[197] who
     first did me the favour of making me acquainted with you.--And
     believe me to remain, dear Sir, ever sincerely yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.

     Thank you for the newspaper--the notice was very kind, but
     rather too flattering.

On the same day that Borrow wrote, Mr. Petrie sent his acknowledgment of
the books, and so the letters crossed:

     I was very agreeably surprised on opening a packet, which came
     to me per steamer ten days ago, to find that it contained a
     present from you of your highly interesting and valuable works
     _Lavengro_ and _Romany Rye_. Coming from any person such books
     would have been highly prized by me, and it is therefore
     specially gratifying to have them presented to me by their
     author. Please to accept of my sincere and heartfelt thanks for
     your kind remembrance of me and your valuable gift. May I
     request you to confer an additional favour on me by sending me
     a slip of paper to be pasted on each of the five volumes,
     stating that they were presented to me by you. I would like to
     hand them down as an heirloom to my family. I am afraid you
     will think that I am a very troublesome acquaintance.

     I would have written sooner, but I expected to have had some
     information to give you about some of the existing
     superstitions of Orkney which might perhaps have some interest
     for you. I have, however, been much engrossed with county
     business during the last fortnight, and must therefore reserve
     my account of these matters till another opportunity.

     Mr. Balfour, our principal landowner in Orkney, is just now
     writing an article on the ancient laws and customs of the
     county to be prefixed to a miscellaneous collection of
     documents, chiefly of the sixteenth century. He is taking the
     opportunity to give an account of the nature of the tenures by
     which the ancient Jarls held the Jarldom, and the manner in
     which the odalret became gradually supplanted. I have furnished
     him with several of the documents, and am just now going over
     it with him. It is for the Bannatyne Club in Edinburgh that he
     is preparing it, but I have suggested to him to have it printed
     for general sale, as it is very interesting, and contains a
     great mass of curious information condensed into a
     comparatively small space. Mr. Balfour is very sorry that he
     had not the pleasure of meeting you when you were here.

My last glimpse of George Borrow in Scotland during his memorable trip
of the winter of 1858 is contained in a letter that I received some time
ago from the Rev. J. Wilcock of St. Ringan's Manse, Lerwick, which runs
as follows:

                _Nov. 18th, 1903._

     DEAR SIR,--As I see that you are interested in George Borrow,
     would you allow me to supply you with a little notice of him
     which has not appeared in print? A friend here--need I explain
     that this is written from the capital of the Shetlands?--a
     friend, I say, now dead, told me that one day early in the
     forenoon, during the winter, he had walked out from the town
     for a stroll into the country. About a mile out from the town
     is a piece of water called the Loch of Clickimin, on a
     peninsula, in which is an ancient (so-called) 'Pictish Castle.'
     His attention was attracted by a tall, burly stranger, who was
     surveying this ancient relic with deep interest. As the water
     of the loch was well up about the castle, converting the plot
     of ground on which it stood almost altogether into an island,
     the stranger took off shoes and stockings and trousers, and
     waded all round the building in order to get a thorough view of
     it. This procedure was all the more remarkable from the fact,
     as above mentioned, that the season was winter. I believe that
     there was snow on the ground at the time. My friend noticed on
     meeting him again in the course of the same walk that he was
     very lightly clothed. He had on a cotton shirt, a loose open
     jacket, and on the whole was evidently indifferent to the
     rigour of our northern climate at that time of the year.

In addition to the visit to Belfast in 1866, Borrow was in Ireland the
year following his Scots tour of 1858, that is to say from July to
November 1859. He went, accompanied by his wife and daughter, by
Holyhead to Dublin, where, as Dr. Knapp has discovered, they resided at
75 St. Stephen Green, South. Borrow, as was his custom, left his family
while he was on a walking tour which included Connemara and on northward
to the Giant's Causeway. He was keenly interested in the two Societies
in Dublin engaged upon the study of ancient Irish literature, and he
became a member of the Ossianic Society in July of this year. I have a
number of Borrow's translations from the Irish in my possession, but no
notebooks of his tour on this occasion.

All Irishmen who wish their country to preserve its individuality should
have a kindly feeling for George Borrow. Opposed as he was to the
majority of the people in religion and in politics, he was about the
only Englishman of his time who took an interest in their national
literature, language and folk-lore. Had he written such another travel
book about Ireland as he wrote about Wales he would certainly have added
to the sum of human pleasure.

I find only one letter to his wife during this Irish journey:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                BALLINA, COUNTY MAYO, _Thursday Morning._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--I write to you a few lines. I have now walked
     270 miles, and have passed through Leinster and Connaught. I
     have suffered a good deal of hardship, for this is a very
     different country to walk in from England. The food is bad and
     does not agree with me. I shall be glad to get back, but first
     of all I wish to walk to the Causeway. As soon as I have done
     that I shall get on railroad and return, as I find there is a
     railroad from Londonderry to Dublin. Pray direct to me at Post
     Office, Londonderry. I have at present about seven pounds
     remaining, perhaps it would bring me back to Dublin; however,
     to prevent accidents, have the kindness to enclose me an order
     on the Post Office, Londonderry, for five pounds. I expect to
     be there next Monday, and to be home by the end of the week.
     Glad enough I shall be to get back to you and Hen. I got your
     letter at Galway. What you said about poor Flora was
     comforting--pray take care of her. Don't forget the order. I
     hope to write in a day or two a kind of duplicate of this. I
     send Hen. heath from Connemara, and also seaweed from a bay of
     the Atlantic. I have walked across Ireland; the country people
     are civil; but I believe all classes are disposed to join the
     French. The idolatry and popery are beyond conception. God
     bless you, dearest.

                GEORGE BORROW.

     Love to Hen. and poor Flora. (Keep this.)


[193] Borrow had _The Sleeping Bard_ printed at his own expense in Great
Yarmouth in 1860, Mr. Murray giving his imprint on the title-page. See
Chapter XXXV. p. 404

[194] Which will be published in my edition of _Borrow's Collected

[195] Mr. James Barren of _The Inverness Courier_ informs me that Borrow
took a well-known route between Fort Augustus and Badenoch, although
nowadays it is rarely used, as Wade's Road has been abandoned; it is
very dilapidated. It was not quite so bad, he says, in 1858.

[196] Mr. Barron points out to me that as there was no direct railway
communication Borrow must have gone to Aberdeen or Huntly, and returned
from the latter town to Inverness. He must have taken a steamer from
Tobermory to Fort William, and thence probably walked by Glen Spean and
Laggan to Kingussie. After that he must have traversed one of the passes
leading by Ben Macdhui or the Cairngorms to Aberdeenshire.

[197] Mr. Sheriff Robertson's son kindly sends me the following extract
from the diary of his father, James Robertson, Sheriff of Orkney:

'_Friday, 26th November, 1858._--In the evening Geo. Petrie called with
"Bible Borrow." He is a man about 60, upwards of six feet in height, and
of an athletic though somewhat gaunt frame. His hair is pure white
though a little bit thin on the top, his features high and handsome, and
his complexion ruddy and healthy. He was dressed in black, his surtout
was old, his shoes very muddy. He spoke in a loud tone of voice, knows
Gaelic and Irish well, quoted Ian Lom, Duncan Ban M'Intyre, etc., is
publishing an account of Welsh, Irish, and Gaelic bards. He
travelled--on foot principally--from Inverness to Thurso, and is going
on to-morrow to Zetland. He walked lately through the upper part of
Badenoch, Lochaber, and the adjacent counties, and through Mull, which
he greatly admired.... In his rambles he associated exclusively with the
lower classes, and when I offered to give him letters of introduction to
Wm. F. Skene, Robert Chambers, Joseph Robertson, etc., he declined to
accept them. His mother died lately and he was travelling, he said, to
divert and throw off his melancholy. He talked very freely on all
subjects that one broached, but not with precision, and he appeared to
me to be an amiable man and a gentleman, but, withal, something of a
projector, if not an adventurer. He is certainly eccentric. I asked him
to take wine, etc., and he declined. He said he was bred at the High
School of Edinburgh, and that he was there in 1813, and mentioned that
he was partly educated in Ireland, and that by birth and descent he is
an Englishman.'



George Borrow's three most important books had all a very interesting
history. We have seen the processes by which _The Bible in Spain_ was
built up from notebooks and letters. We have seen further the most
curious apprenticeship by which _Lavengro_ came into existence. The most
distinctly English book--at least in a certain absence of
cosmopolitanism--that Victorian literature produced was to a great
extent written on scraps of paper during a prolonged Continental tour
which included Constantinople and Budapest. In _Lavengro_ we have only
half a book, the whole work, which included what came to be published as
_The Romany Rye_, having been intended to appear in four volumes. The
first volume was written in 1843, the second in 1845, after the
Continental tour, which is made use of in the description of the
Hungarian, and the third volume in the years between 1845 and 1848. Then
in 1852 Borrow wrote out an 'advertisement' of a fourth volume,[198]
which runs as follows:

     Shortly will be published in one volume. Price 10s. _The
     Rommany Rye_, Being the fourth volume of _Lavengro_. By George
     Borrow, author of _The Bible in Spain_.

But this volume did not make an appearance 'shortly.' Its author was far
too much offended with the critics, too disheartened it may be to care
to offer himself again for their gibes. The years rolled on, much of the
time being spent at Yarmouth, a little of it at Oulton. There was a
visit to Cornwall in 1854, and another to Wales in the same year. The
Isle of Man was selected for a holiday in 1855, and not until 1857 did
_The Romany Rye_ appear. The book was now in two volumes, and we see
that the word Romany had dropped an 'm':

     The Romany Rye: A Sequel to 'Lavengro.' By George Borrow,
     author of 'The Bible in Spain,' 'The Gypsies of Spain,' etc.,
     'Fear God, and take your own part.' In Two Volumes. London:
     John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1857.

Dr. Knapp publishes some vigorous correspondence between Mrs. Borrow and
her husband's publisher written prior to the issue of _The Romany Rye_.
'Mr. Borrow has not the slightest wish to publish the book,' she says.
'The manuscript was left with you because you wished to see it.'[199]
This was written in 1855, the wife presumably writing at her husband's
dictation. In 1857 the situation was not improved, as Borrow himself
writes to Mr. Murray: 'In your last letter you talk of _obliging me by
publishing my verse_. Now is not that speaking very injudiciously?'[200]
At last, however, in April 1857, _The Romany Rye_ appeared, and we are
introduced once more to many old favourites, to Petulengro, to the Man
in Black, and above all to Isopel Berners. The incidents of _Lavengro_
are supposed to have taken place between the 24th May 1825 and the 18th
July of that year. In _The Romany Rye_ the incidents apparently occur
between 19th July and 3rd August 1825. In the opinion of that most
eminent of gypsy experts, Mr. John Sampson,[201] the whole of the
episodes in the five volumes occurred in seventy-two days. Mr. Sampson
agrees with Dr. Knapp in locating Mumper's Dingle in Momber or Monmer
Lane, Willenhall, Shropshire. The dingle has disappeared--it is now
occupied by the Monmer Lane Ironworks--but you may still find Dingle
Bridge and Dingle Lane. The book has added to the glamour of gypsydom,
and to the interest in the gypsies which we all derive from _Lavengro_,
but Mr. Sampson makes short work of Borrow's gypsy learning on its
philological side. 'No gypsy,' he says, 'ever uses _chal_ or _engro_ as
a separate word, or talks of the _dukkering dook_ or of _penning a
dukkerin_.' 'Borrow's genders are perversely incorrect'; and 'Romany'--a
word which can never get out of our language, let philologists say what
they will--should have been 'Romani.' '"Haarsträubend" is the fitting
epithet,' says Mr. Sampson, 'which an Oriental scholar, Professor
Richard Pischel of Berlin, finds to describe Borrow's etymologies.' But
all this is very unimportant, and the book remains in the whole of its
forty-seven chapters not one whit less a joy to us than does its
predecessor _Lavengro_, with its visions of gypsies and highwaymen and

But then there is its 'Appendix.' That appendix of eleven petulant
chapters undoubtedly did Borrow harm in his day and generation. Now his
fame is too great, and his genius too firmly established for these
strange dissertations on men and things to offer anything but amusement
or edification. They reveal, for example, the singularly non-literary
character of this great man of letters. Much--too much--has been made of
his dislike of Walter Scott and his writings. As a matter of fact Borrow
tells us that he admired Scott both as a prose writer and as a poet.
'Since Scott he had read no modern writer. Scott was greater than
Homer,' he told Frances Cobbe. But he takes occasion to condemn his
'Charlie o'er the water nonsense,' and declares that his love of and
sympathy with certain periods and incidents have made for sympathy with
what he always calls 'Popery.'[202] Well, looking at the matter from an
entirely opposite point of view, Cardinal Newman declared that the
writings of Scott had had no inconsiderable influence in directing his
mind towards the Church of Rome.[203]

     During the first quarter of this century a great poet was
     raised up in the North, who, whatever were his defects, has
     contributed by his works, in prose and verse, to prepare men
     for some closer and more practical approximation to Catholic
     truth. The general need of something deeper and more attractive
     than what had offered itself elsewhere may be considered to
     have led to his popularity; and by means of his popularity he
     re-acted on his readers, stimulating their mental thirst,
     feeding their hopes, setting before them visions, which, when
     once seen, are not easily forgotten, and silently
     indoctrinating them with nobler ideas, which might afterwards
     be appealed to as first principles.[204]


_From the Borrow Papers in the possession of the Author of 'George
Borrow and his Circle'_]

And thus we see that Borrow had a certain prescience in this matter. But
Borrow, in good truth, cared little for modern English literature. His
heart was entirely with the poets of other lands--the Scandinavians and
the Kelts. In Virgil he apparently took little interest, nor in the
great poetry of Greece, Rome and England, although we find a reference
to Theocritus and Dante in his books. Fortunately for his fame he had
read _Gil Blas_, _Don Quixote_, and, above all, _Robinson Crusoe_, which
last book, first read as a boy of six, coloured his whole life. Defoe
and Fielding and Bunyan were the English authors to whom he owed most.
Of Byron he has quaint things to say, and of Wordsworth things that are
neither quaint nor wise. We recall the man in the field in the
twenty-second chapter of _The Romany Rye_ who used Wordsworth's poetry
as a soporific. And throughout his life Borrow's position towards his
contemporaries in literature was ever contemptuous. He makes no mention
of Carlyle or Ruskin or Matthew Arnold, and they in their turn, it may
be added, make no mention of him or of his works. Thackeray he snubbed
on one of the few occasions they met, and Browning and Tennyson were
alike unrevealed to him. Borrow indeed stands quite apart from the great
literature of a period in which he was a striking and individual figure.
Lacking appreciation in this sphere of work, he wrote of 'the
contemptible trade of author,' counting it less creditable than that of
a jockey.

But all this is a digression from the progress of our narrative of the
advent of _The Romany Rye_. The book was published in an edition of 1000
copies in April 1857, and it took thirty years to dispose of 3750
copies. Not more than 2000 copies of his book were sold in Great Britain
during the twenty-three remaining years of Borrow's life. What wonder
that he was embittered by his failure! The reviews were far from
favourable, although Mr. Elwin wrote not unkindly in an article in the
_Quarterly Review_ called 'Roving Life in England.' No critic, however,
was as severe as _The Athenæum_, which had called _Lavengro_
'balderdash' and referred to _The Romany Rye_ as the 'literary dough' of
an author 'whose dullest gypsy preparation we have now read.' In later
years, when, alas! it was too late, _The Athenæum_, through the eloquent
pen of Theodore Watts, made good amends. But William Bodham Donne wrote
to Borrow with adequate enthusiasm:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                12 ST. JAMES'S SQUARE, _May 24th, 1857._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I received your book some days ago, but would not
     write to you before I was able to read it, at least once, since
     it is needless, I hope, for me to assure you that I am truly
     gratified by the gift.

     Time to read it I could not find for some days after it was
     sent hither, for what with winding up my affairs here, the
     election of my successor, preparations for flitting, etc.,
     etc., I have been incessantly occupied with matters needful to
     be done, but far less agreeable to do than reading _The Romany
     Rye_. All I have said of _Lavengro_ to yourself personally, or
     to others publicly or privately, I say again of _The Romany
     Rye_. Everywhere in it the hand of the master is stamped boldly
     and deeply. You join the chisel of Dante with the pencil of

     I am rejoiced to see so many works announced of yours, for you
     have more that is worth knowing to tell than any one I am
     acquainted with. For your coming progeny's sake I am disposed
     to wish you had worried the literary-craft less. Brand and
     score them never so much, they will not turn and repent, but
     only spit the more froth and venom. I am reckoning of my
     emancipation with an eagerness hardly proper at my years, but I
     cannot help it, so thoroughly do I hate London, and so much do
     I love the country. I have taken a house, or rather a cottage,
     at Walton on Thames, just on the skirts of Weybridge, and there
     I hope to see you before I come into Norfolk, for I am afraid
     my face will not be turned eastward for many weeks if not

     Remember me kindly to Mrs. Borrow and Miss Clarke, and believe
     me, my dear Sir, very truly and thankfully yours.

                WM. B. DONNE.

And perhaps a letter from the then Town Clerk of Oxford is worth
reproducing here:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                TOWN CLERK'S OFFICE, OXFORD, _19th August 1857._

     SIR,--We have, attached to our Corporation, an ancient jocular
     court composed of 13 of the poor old freemen who attend the
     elections and have a king who sits attired in scarlet with a
     crown and sentences interlopers (non-freeman) to be
     cold-burned, _i.e._ a bucket or so of water introduced to the
     offender's sleeve by means of the city pump; but this
     infliction is of course generally commuted by a small pecuniary

     They call themselves 'Slaveonians' or 'Sclavonians.' The only
     notice we have of them in the city records is by the name of
     'Slovens Hall.' Reading _Romany Rye_ I notice your account of
     the Sclaves and venture to trouble you with this, and to
     enquire whether you think that the Sclaves might be connected
     through the Saxons with the ancient municipal institutions of
     this country. You are no doubt aware that Oxford is one of the
     most ancient Saxon towns, being a royal bailiwick and fortified
     before the Conquest,--Yours truly.

                GEORGE P. HESTER.

In spite of contemporary criticism, _The Romany Rye_ is a great book, or
rather it contains the concluding chapters of a great book. Sequels are
usually proclaimed to be inferior to their predecessors. But _The Romany
Rye_ is not a sequel. It is part of _Lavengro_, and is therefore
Borrow's most imperishable monument.


[198] Borrow was fond of writing out title-pages for his books, and I
have a dozen or so of these draft title-pages among my Borrow Papers.

[199] Dr. Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii. p. 167.

[200] Borrow's association with the firm of Murray deserves a chapter to
itself, but the material for writing such a chapter has already been
used by Dr. Knapp and Mr. Herbert Jenkins. The present Mr. John Murray,
John Murray IV., has seventy letters from Borrow to his firm in his
possession. The first of the name to publish Borrow's works was John
Murray II., who died in 1843. John Murray III., who died in 1892, and
his partner and cousin Robert Cooke, were Borrow's friends. He had
differences at times, but he was loyal to them and they were loyal to
him as good authors and good publishers ought to be. With all his
irritability Borrow had the sense to see that there was substantial
reason in their declining to issue his translations. That, although at
the end there were long intervals of silence, the publishers and their
author remained friends is shown by letters written to his daughter
after Borrow's death, and by the following little note from Borrow to
John Murray which was probably never sent. It is in the feeble, broken
handwriting of what was probably the last year of Borrow's life.

To John Murray, Esq.

                'OULTON (_no date_).

'MY DEAR FRIEND,--Thank you most sincerely for sending me the last vol.
of the _Quarterly_, a truly remarkable one it is, full of literature of
every description--I should have answered the receipt of it before had I
not been very unwell. Should you come to these parts do me the favour to
look in upon me--it might do me good, and say the same thing from me to
my kind and true friend Robt. Cooke. His last visit to me did me much
good, and another might probably do me the same. What a horrible state
the country seems to be in, and no wonder--a monster-minister whose
principal aim seems to be the ruin of his native land, a parliament
either incompetent or indifferent. However, let us hope for the best.
Pray send my cordial respects to Mrs. Murray and kind regards to the
rest of your good family.--Ever sincerely yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.'

[201] Mr. Sampson has written an admirable introduction to _The Romany
Rye_ in Methuen's 'Little Library,' but he goes rather far in his
suggestion that Borrow instead of writing 'Joseph Sell' for £20,
possibly obtained that sum by imitating 'the methods of Jerry Abershaw,
Galloping Dick,' or some of the 'fraternity of vagabonds' whose lives
Borrow had chronicled in his _Celebrated Trials_, in other words, that
he stole the money.

[202] _The Romany Rye_, Appendix, ch. vii.

[203] It is interesting to note that all the surviving members of Sir
Walter Scott's family belong to the Roman Catholic Church, as do certain
members of the family of Newman's opponent, Charles Kingsley. Several
members of Charles Dickens's family are also Roman Catholics.

[204] _Essays Critical and Historical_ by John Henry Cardinal Newman,
vol. i., Longmans. See also _Apologia pro Vita Sua_, pp. 96-97.



Edward FitzGerald once declared that he was about the only friend with
whom Borrow had never quarrelled.[205] There was probably no reason for
this exceptional amity other than the 'genius for friendship' with which
FitzGerald has been rightly credited. There were certainly, however,
many points of likeness between the two men which might have kept them
at peace. Both had written copiously and out of all proportion to the
public demand for their work. Both revelled in translation. FitzGerald's
eight volumes in a magnificent American edition consists mainly of
translations from various tongues which no man presumably now reads. All
the world has read and will long continue to read his translation or
paraphrase of Omar Khayyám's _Rubáiyát_. 'Old Fitz,' as his friends
called him, lives by that, although his letters are among the best in
literature. Borrow wrote four books that will live, but had publishers
been amenable he would have published forty, and all as unsaleable as
the major part of FitzGerald's translations. Both men were Suffolk
squires, and yet delighted more in the company of a class other than
their own, FitzGerald of boatmen, Borrow of gypsies; both were counted
eccentrics in their respective villages. Perhaps alone among the great
Victorian authors they lived to be old without receiving in their lives
any popular recognition of their great literary achievements. But
FitzGerald had a more cultivated mind than Borrow. He loved literature
and literary men whilst Borrow did not. His criticism of books is of the
best, and his friendships with bookmen are among the most interesting in
literary history. 'A solitary, shy, kind-hearted man,' was the verdict
upon him of the frequently censorious Carlyle. When Anne Thackeray asked
her father which of his friends he had loved best, he answered 'Dear old
Fitz, to be sure,' and Tennyson would have said the same. Borrow had
none of these gifts as a letter-writer and no genius for friendship. The
charm of his style, so indisputable in his best work, is absent from his
letters; and his friends were alienated one after another. Borrow's
undisciplined intellect and narrow upbringing were a curse to him, from
the point of view of his own personal happiness, although they helped
him to achieve exactly the work for which he was best fitted. Borrow's
acquaintance with FitzGerald was commenced by the latter, who, in July
1853, sent from Boulge Hall, Suffolk, to Oulton Hall, in the same
county, his recently published volume _Six Dramas of Calderon_. He
apologises for making so free with 'a great man; but, as usual, I shall
feel least fear before a man like yourself who both do fine things in
your own language and are deep read in those of others.' He also refers
to 'our common friend Donne,' so that it is probable that they had met
at Donne's house.[206] The next letter, also published by Dr. Knapp,
that FitzGerald writes to Borrow is dated from his home in Great
Portland Street in 1856. He presents his friend with a Turkish
Dictionary, and announces his coming marriage to Miss Barton, 'Our
united ages amount to 96!--a dangerous experiment on both sides'--as it
proved. The first reference to Borrow in the FitzGerald _Letters_ issued
by his authorised publishers is addressed to Professor Cowell in January

     I was with Borrow a week ago at Donne's, and also at Yarmouth
     three months ago: he is well, but not yet agreed with Murray.
     He read me a long translation he had made from the Turkish:
     which I could not admire, and his taste becomes stranger than

But Borrow's genius if not his taste was always admired by FitzGerald,
as the following letter among my Borrow Papers clearly indicates. Borrow
had published _The Romany Rye_ at the beginning of May:


Showing the summer house on the left from a sketch by Henrietta
MacOubrey. The house which has replaced it has another aspect.]


Which when compared with Miss MacOubrey's sketch shows that it has been
reroofed and probably rebuilt altogether.]

To George Borrow, Esq., Oulton Hall.

                GOLDINGTON HALL, BEDFORD, _May 24/57_[208]

     MY DEAR SIR,--Your Book was put into my hands a week ago just
     as I was leaving London; so I e'en carried it down here, and
     have been reading it under the best Circumstances:--at such a
     Season--in the Fields as they now are--and in company with a
     Friend I love best in the world--who scarce ever reads a Book,
     but knows better than I do what they are made of from a hint.

     Well, lying in a Paddock of his, I have been travelling along
     with you to Horncastle, etc.,--in a very delightful way for the
     most part; something as I have travelled, and love to travel,
     with Fielding, Cervantes, and Robinson Crusoe--and a smack of
     all these there seems to me, with something beside, in your
     book. But, as will happen in Travel, there were some spots I
     didn't like so well--didn't like _at all_: and sometimes wished
     to myself that I, a poor 'Man of Taste,' had been at your Elbow
     (who are a Man of much more than Taste) to divert you, or get
     you by some means to pass lightlier over some places. But you
     wouldn't have heeded me, and won't heed me, and _must_ go your
     own way, I think--And in the parts I least like, I am yet
     thankful for honest, daring, and original Thought and Speech
     such as one hardly gets in these mealy-mouthed days. It was
     very kind of you to send me your book.

     My Wife is already established at a House called 'Albert's
     Villa,' or some such name, at Gorlestone--but a short walk from
     you: and I am to find myself there in a few days. So I shall
     perhaps tell you more of my thoughts ere long. Now I shall
     finish this large Sheet with a Tetrastich of one Omar Khayyám
     who was an Epicurean Infidel some 500 years ago:


                and am yours very truly,
                EDWARD FITZGERALD.

In a letter to Cowell about the same time--June 5, 1857--FitzGerald
writes that he is about to set out for Gorleston, Great Yarmouth:

     Within hail almost lives George Borrow, who has lately
     published, and given me, two new volumes of Lavengro called
     _Romany Rye_, with some excellent things, and some very bad (as
     I have made bold to write to him--how shall I face him!) You
     would not like the book at all I think.[210]

It was Cowell, it will be remembered, who introduced FitzGerald to the
Persian poet Omar, and afterwards regretted the act. The first edition
of _The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám_ appeared two years later, in 1859.
Edward Byles Cowell was born in Ipswich in 1826, and he was educated at
the Ipswich Grammar School. It was in the library attached to the
Ipswich Library Institution that Cowell commenced the study of Oriental
languages. In 1842 he entered the business of his father and grandfather
as a merchant and maltster. When only twenty years of age he commenced
his friendship with Edward FitzGerald, and their correspondence may be
found in Dr. Aldis Wright's _FitzGerald Correspondence_. In 1850 he left
his brother to carry on the business and entered himself at Magdalen
Hall, Oxford, where he passed six years. At intervals he read Greek with
FitzGerald and, later, Persian. FitzGerald commenced to learn this last
language, which was to bring him fame, when he was forty-four years of
age. In 1856 Cowell was appointed to a Professorship of English History
at Calcutta, and from there he sent FitzGerald a copy of the manuscript
of _Omar Khayyám_, afterwards lent by FitzGerald to Borrow. Much earlier
than this--in 1853--FitzGerald had written to Borrow:

     At Ipswich, indeed, is a man whom you would like to know, I
     think, and who would like to know you; one Edward Cowell: a
     great scholar, if I may judge.... Should you go to Ipswich do
     look for him! a great deal more worth looking for (I speak with
     no sham modesty, I am sure) than yours,--E. F. G.[211]

Twenty-six years afterwards--in 1879--we find FitzGerald writing to Dr.
Aldis Wright to the effect that Cowell had been seized with 'a wish to
learn Welsh under George Borrow':

     And as he would not venture otherwise, I gave him a Note of
     Introduction, and off he went, and had an hour with the old
     Boy, who was hard of hearing and shut up in a stuffy room, but
     cordial enough; and Cowell was glad to have seen the Man, and
     tell him that it was his _Wild Wales_ which first inspired a
     thirst for this language into the Professor.[212]

This introduction and meeting are described by Professor Cowell in the
following letter:[213]

                CAMBRIDGE, _December 10, 1892._

     DEAR SIR,--I fear I cannot help you much by my reminiscences
     of Borrow. I never had the slightest interest in the gipsies,
     but I always had a corner in my heart for Spain and Wales, and
     consequently _The Bible in Spain_ and _Wild Wales_ have always
     been favourite books. But though Borrow's works were well known
     to me, I never saw him but once, and what I saw of him then
     made me feel that he was one of those men who put the best part
     of themselves into their books. We get the pure gold there
     without the admixture of alloy which daily life seemed to

     I was staying one autumn at Lowestoft some ten years or more
     ago when I asked my dear old friend, Mr. Edward FitzGerald, to
     give me a letter of introduction to Mr. George Borrow. Armed
     with this I started on my pilgrimage and took a chaise for
     Oulton Hall. I remember as we drew near we turned into a kind
     of drift road through the fields where the long sweeping boughs
     of the trees hung so low that I lost my hat more than once as
     we drove along. My driver remarked that the old gentleman would
     not allow any of his trees to be cut. When we reached the hall
     I went in at the gate into the farmyard, but I could see nobody
     about anywhere. I walked up to the front door, but nobody
     answered my knock except some dogs, who began barking from
     their kennels. At last in answer to a very loud knock, the door
     was opened by an old gentleman whom I at once recognised by the
     engraving to be Borrow himself. I gave him my letter and
     introduced myself. He replied in a tone of humorous petulance,
     'What is the good of your bringing me a letter when I haven't
     got my spectacles to read it?' However, he took me into his
     room, where I fancy my knock had roused him from a siesta. We
     soon got into talk. He began by some unkind remarks about one
     or two of our common friends, but I soon turned the subject to
     books, especially Spanish and Welsh books. Here I own I was
     disappointed in his conversation. I talked to him about Ab
     Gwilym, whom he speaks so highly of in _Wild Wales_, but his
     interest was languid. He did not seem interested when I told
     him that the London Society of Cymmrodorion were publishing in
     their journal the Welsh poems of Iolo Goch, the bard of Owen
     Glendower who fought with our Henry v., two of whose poems
     Borrow had given spirited translations of in _Wild Wales_. He
     told me he had heaps of translations from Welsh books somewhere
     in his cupboards but he did not know where to lay his hand on
     them. He did not show me one Welsh or Spanish book of any kind.
     You may easily imagine that I was disappointed with my
     interview and I never cared to visit him again. Borrow was a
     man of real genius, and his _Bible in Spain_ and _Wild Wales_
     are unique books in their way, but with all his knowledge of
     languages he was not a scholar. I should be the last person to
     depreciate his _Sleeping Bard_, for I owe a great deal to it as
     it helped me to read the Welsh original, but it is full of
     careless mistakes. The very title is wrong; it should not be
     the _Visions of the Sleeping Bard_ but the _Visions of the Bard
     Sleep_, as the bard or prophet Sleep shows the author in a
     series of dreams--his visions of life, death, and hell, which
     form the three chapters of the book.

     Borrow knew nothing of philology. His strange version of 'Om
     mani padme hûm' (Oh! the gem in the lotus ho!) must have been
     taken from some phonetic representation of the sounds as heard
     by an ignorant traveller in China or Mongolia.

     I have written this long letter lured on by my recollections,
     but after all I can tell you nothing. Surely it is best that
     Borrow should remain a name; we have the best part of him still
     living in his best books.

    'He gave the people of his best;
    His worst he kept, his best he gave.'

     I don't see why we should trouble ourselves about his 'worst.'
     He had his weaker side like all of us, the foolish part of his
     nature as well as the wise; but 'de mortuis nil nisi bonum'
     especially applies in such cases.--I remain, dear sir, yours

                E. B. COWELL.

There is one short letter from FitzGerald to Borrow in Dr. Aldis
Wright's _FitzGerald Letters_. It is dated June 1857 and from it we
learn that FitzGerald lent Borrow the Calcutta manuscript of _Omar
Khayyám_, upon which he based his own immortal translation, and from a
letter to W. H. Thompson in 1861 we learn that Cowell, who had inspired
the writing of FitzGerald's _Omar Khayyám_, Donne and Borrow were the
only three friends to whom he had sent copies of his 'peccadilloes in
verse' as he calls his remarkable translation,[214] and this two years
after it was published. A letter, dated July 6, 1857,[215] asks for the
return of FitzGerald's copy of the Ouseley manuscript of _Omar Khayyám_,
Borrow having clearly already returned the Calcutta manuscript. This
letter concludes on a pathetic note:

     My old Parson Crabbe is bowing down under epileptic fits, or
     something like, and I believe his brave old white head will
     soon sink into the village church sward. Why, _our_ time seems
     coming. Make way, gentlemen!

Borrow comes more than once into the story of FitzGerald's great
translation of _Omar Khayyám_, which in our day has caused so great a
sensation, and deserves all the enthusiasm that it has excited as the

    '... golden Eastern lay,
    Than which I know no version done
    In English more divinely well,'

to quote Tennyson's famous eulogy. Cowell, to his after regret, for he
had none of FitzGerald's _dolce far niente_ paganism, had sent
FitzGerald from Calcutta, where he was, the manuscript of Omar Khayyám's
_Rubáiyát_ in Persian, and FitzGerald was captured by it. Two years
later, as we know, he produced the translation, which was so much more
than a translation. 'Omar breathes a sort of consolation to me,' he
wrote to Cowell. 'Borrow is greatly delighted with your MS. of Omar
which I showed him,' he says in another letter to Cowell (June 23,
1857), 'delighted at the terseness so unusual in Oriental verse.'[216]

The next two letters by FitzGerald from my Borrow Papers are of the year
1859, the year of the first publication of the _Rubáiyát_:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                10 MARINE PARADE, LOWESTOFT.

MY DEAR BORROW,--I have come here with three nieces to give them sea air
and change. They are all perfectly quiet, sensible, and unpretentious
girls; so as, if you will come over here any day or days, we will find
you board and bed too, for a week longer at any rate. There is a good
room below, which we now only use for meals, but which you and I can be
quite at our sole ease in. Won't you come?

I purpose (and indeed have been some while intentioning) to go over to
Yarmouth to look for you. But I write this note in hope it may bring you
hither also.

Donne has got his soldier boy home from India--Freddy--I always thought
him a very nice fellow indeed. No doubt life is happy enough to all of
them just now. Donne has been on a visit to the Highlands--which seems
to have pleased him--I have got an MS. of Bahram and his Seven Castles
(Persian), which I have not yet cared to look far into. Will you? It is
short, fairly transcribed, and of some repute in its own country, I
hear. Cowell sent it me from Calcutta; but it almost requires _his_
company to make one devote one's time to Persian, when, with what
remains of one's old English eyes, one can read the Odyssey and

With compliments to the ladies, believe me, Yours very truly,

                EDWARD FITZGERALD.

     I didn't know you were back from your usual summer tour till
     Mr. Cobb told my sister lately of having seen you.

To George Borrow, Esq.

                BATH HOUSE, LOWESTOFT, _October 10/59._

     DEAR BORROW,--This time last year I was here and wrote to ask
     about you. You were gone to Scotland. Well, where are you now?
     As I also said last year: 'If you be in Yarmouth and have any
     mind to see me I will go over some day; or here I am if you
     will come here. And I am quite alone. As it is I would bus it
     to Yarmouth but I don't know if you and yours be there at all,
     nor if there, whereabout. If I don't hear at all I shall
     suppose you are not there, on one of your excursions, or not
     wanting to be rooted out; a condition I too well understand. I
     was at Gorleston some months ago for some while; just after
     losing my greatest friend, the Bedfordshire lad who was crushed
     to death, coming home from hunting, his horse falling on him.
     He survived indeed two months, and I had been to bid him
     eternal adieu, so had no appetite for anything but
     rest--rest--rest. I have just seen his widow off from here.
     With kind regards to the ladies, Yours very truly,

                EDWARD FITZGERALD.

In a letter to George Crabbe the third, and the grandson of the poet, in
1862, FitzGerald tells him that he has just been reading Borrow's _Wild
Wales_, 'which _I_ like well because I can hear him talking it. But I
don't know if others will like it.' 'No one writes better English than
Borrow in general,' he says. But FitzGerald, as a lover of style, is
vexed with some of Borrow's phrases, and instances one: '"The scenery
was beautiful _to a degree_," _What_ degree? When did this vile phrase
arise?' The criticism is just, but Borrow, in common with many other
great English authors whose work will live was not uniformly a good
stylist. He has many lamentable fallings away from the ideals of the
stylist. But he will, by virtue of a wonderful individuality, outlive
many a good stylist. His four great books are immortal, and one of them
is _Wild Wales_.

We have a glimpse of FitzGerald in the following letter in my
possession, by the friend who had introduced him to Borrow, William
Bodham Donne:[217]

To George Borrow, Esq.

                40 WEYMOUTH STREET, PORTLAND PLACE, W., _November 28/62._

     MY DEAR BORROW,--Many thanks for the copy of _Wild Wales_
     reserved for and sent to me by Mr. R. Cooke.[218] Before this
     copy arrived I had obtained one from the London Library and
     read it through, not exactly _stans pede in uno_, but certainly
     almost at a stretch. I could not indeed lay it down, it
     interested me so much. It is one of the very best records of
     home travel, if indeed so strange a country as Wales is can
     properly be called _home_, I have ever met with.

     Immediately on closing the third volume I secured a few pages
     in _Fraser's Magazine_ for _Wild Wales_, for though you do not
     stand in need of my aid, yet my notice will not do you a
     mischief, and some of the reviewers of _Lavengro_ were, I
     recollect, shocking blockheads, misinterpreting the letter and
     misconceiving the spirit of that work. I have, since we met in
     Burlington Arcade, been on a visit to FitzGerald. He is in
     better spirits by far than when I saw him about the same time
     in last year. He has his pictures and his chattels about him,
     and has picked up some acquaintance among the merchants and
     mariners of Woodbridge, who, although far below his level, are
     yet better company than the two old skippers he was consorting
     with in 1861. They--his present friends--came in of an evening,
     and sat and drank and talked, and I enjoyed their talk very
     much, since they discussed of what they understood, which is
     more than I can say generally of the fine folks I occasionally
     (very occasionally now) meet in London. I should have said more
     about your book, only I wish to keep it for print: and you
     don't need to be told by me that it is very good.--With best
     regards to Mrs. Borrow and Miss Clarke, I am, yours ever truly,

                W. B. DONNE.

The last letter from FitzGerald to Borrow is dated many years after the
correspondence I have here printed,[219] and from it we gather that
there had been no correspondence in the interval.[220] FitzGerald writes
from Little Grange, Woodbridge, in January 1875, to say that he had
received a message from Borrow that he would be glad to see him at
Oulton. 'I think the more of it,' says FitzGerald, 'because I imagine,
from what I have heard, that you have slunk away from human company as
much as I have.' He hints that they might not like one another so well
after a fifteen years' separation. He declares with infinite pathos that
he has now severed himself from all old ties, has refused the
invitations of old college friends and old schoolfellows. To him there
was no companionship possible for his declining days other than his
reflections and verses. It is a fine letter, filled with that
graciousness of spirit that was ever a trait in FitzGerald's noble
nature. The two men never met again. When Borrow died, in 1881,
FitzGerald, who followed him two years later, suggested to Dr. Aldis
Wright, afterwards to be his (FitzGerald's) executor, who was staying
with him at the time, that he should look over Borrow's books and
manuscripts if his stepdaughter so desired. If this had been arranged,
and Dr. Aldis Wright had written Borrow's life, there would have been no
second biographer.[221]


[205] This was said by FitzGerald to his friend Frederick Spalding.

[206] Edward FitzGerald to George Borrow, in Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii. p.

[207] _The Works of Edward FitzGerald_, vol. ii. p. 59 (Macmillan).

[208] FitzGerald was staying with his friends Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Browne.
There is no letter other than this one to Borrow to recall that visit,
which is, however, referred to in the _FitzGerald Correspondence_
(Works, vol. ii. p. 75) by the following sentence:--'When in
Bedfordshire I put away almost all Books except Omar Khayyám! which I
could not help looking over in a Paddock covered with Buttercups and
brushed by a delicious Breeze, while a dainty racing Filly of Browne's
came startling up to wonder and to snuff about me.' The 'friend' of the
letter was of course Mr. W. K. Browne, who was more of an open air man
than a bookman.

[209] I am indebted to Mr. Edward Heron-Allen for the information that
this is the original of the last verse but one in FitzGerald's first
version of the _Rubáiyát_:

r 74. Ah Moon of my Delight, who knowest no wane, The Moon of Heaven is
rising once again, How oft, hereafter rising, shall she look Through
this same Garden after me--in vain.

The literal translation is:

Since no one will guarantee thee a to-morrow,
Make thou happy now this lovesick heart;
Drink wine in the moonlight, O Moon, for the Moon
Shall seek us long and shall not find us.

[210] _The Works of Edward FitzGerald_, vol. ii. p. 74 (Macmillan).

[211] _Letters of Edward FitzGerald_, vol. ii. p. 15.

[212] _Ibid._, vol. iv. p. 85 (Macmillan).

[213] First published in _The Sphere_, October 31, 1903. The letter was
written to Mr. James Hooper of Norwich.

[214] _Works of Edward FitzGerald_, vol. ii. p. 135 (Macmillan).

[215] Published by Dr. Knapp in _Borrow's Life_, vol. ii. p. 348

[216] We learn from FitzGerald that Borrow's eyesight gave way about
this time, and his wife had to keep all books from him.

[217] There are two or three references to Borrow in _William Bodham
Donne and his Friends_, edited by Catharine B. Johnson (Methuen). The
most important of these is in a letter from Donne to Bernard Barton,
dated from Bury St. Edmunds, September 12th, 1848:

'We have had a great man here, and I have been walking with him and
aiding him to eat salmon and mutton and drink port--George Borrow; and
what is more, we fell in with some gypsies and I heard the speech of
Egypt, which sounded wonderously like a medley of broken Spanish and dog
Latin. Borrow's face lighted by the red turf fire of the tent was worth
looking at. He is ashy white now, but twenty years ago, when his hair
was like a raven's wing, he must have been hard to discriminate from a
born Bohemian. Borrow is best on the tramp, if you can walk four and a
half miles per hour--as I can with ease and do by choice--and can walk
fifteen of them at a stretch--which I can compass also--then he will
talk Iliads of adventures even better than his printed ones. He cannot
abide those amateur pedestrians who saunter, and in his chair he is
given to groan and be contradictory. But on Newmarket Heath, in Rougham
Woods, he is at home, and specially when he meets with a thorough
vagabond like your present correspondent.'

In June 1874 FitzGerald writes to Donne:

'I saw in some _Athenæum_ a somewhat contemptuous notice of G. B.'s
_Rommany Lil_ or whatever the name is. I can easily understand that B.
should not meddle with _science_ of any sort; but some years ago he
would not have liked to be told so; however, old age may have cooled him

[218] Mr. Robert Cooke was a partner in John Murray's firm at this time.

[219] It is to be found in Dr. Knapp's _Life_, vol. ii. pp. 248-9.

[220] I have a copy of FitzGerald's.

[221] Dr. Aldis Wright tells me that he did go over to Oulton to see
Mrs. MacOubrey, and gave her the best advice he could, but it was



The year 1854 was an adventurous one in Borrow's life, for he, so
essentially a Celt, as Mr. Watts-Dunton has more than once reminded
us,[222] had in that year two interesting experiences of the 'Celtic
Fringe.' He spent the first months of the year in Cornwall, as we have
seen, and from July to November he was in Wales. That tour he recorded
in pencilled notebooks, four of which are in the Knapp Collection in New
York, and are duly referred to in Dr. Knapp's biography, and two of
which are in my possession. In addition to this I have the complete
manuscript of _Wild Wales_ in Borrow's handwriting, and many variants of
it in countless, carefully written pages. Therein lie the possibilities
of a singularly interesting edition of _Wild Wales_ should opportunity
offer for its publication. When I examine the manuscript, with its
demonstration of careful preparation, I do not wonder that it took
Borrow eight years--from 1854 to 1862--to prepare this book for the
press. Assuredly we recognise here, as in all his books, that he
realised Carlyle's definition of genius--'the transcendent capacity of
taking trouble--first of all.'


Two pages from one of George Borrow's Pocket-books with pencilled notes
made on his journey through Wales.]

It was on 27th July 1854 that Borrow, his wife and her daughter,
Henrietta Clarke, set out on their journey to North Wales. Dr. Knapp
prints two kindly letters from Mrs. Borrow to her mother-in-law written
from Llangollen on this tour. 'We are in a lovely quiet spot,' she
writes, 'Dear George goes out exploring the mountains.... The poor here
are humble, simple, and good.' In the second letter Mrs. Borrow records
that her husband 'keeps a _daily_ journal of all that goes on, so that
he can make a most amusing book in a month.' Yet Borrow took eight years
to make it. The failure of _The Romany Rye_, which was due for
publication before _Wild Wales_, accounts for this, and perhaps also the
disappointment that another book, long since ready, did not find a
publisher. In the letter from which I have quoted Mary Borrow tells Anne
Borrow that her son will, she expects at Christmas, publish _The Romany
Rye_, 'together with his poetry in all the European languages.' This
last book had been on his hands for many a day, and indeed in _Wild
Wales_ he writes of 'a mountain of unpublished translations' of which
this book, duly advertised in _The Romany Rye_, was a part.[223]

After an ascent of Snowdon arm in arm with Henrietta, Mrs. Borrow
remaining behind, Borrow left his wife and daughter to find their way
back to Yarmouth, and continued his journey, all of which is most
picturesquely described in _Wild Wales_. Before that book was published,
however, Borrow was to visit the Isle of Man, Scotland, and Ireland. He
was to publish _Lavengro_ (1857); to see his mother die (1858); and to
issue his very limited edition of _The Sleeping Bard_ (1860); and,
lastly, to remove to Brompton (1860). It was at the end of the year 1862
that _Wild Wales_ was published. It had been written during the two
years immediately following the tour in Wales, in 1855 and 1856. It had
been announced as ready for publication in 1857, but doubtless the
chilly reception of _The Romany Rye_ in that year, of which we have
written, had made Borrow lukewarm as to venturing once more before the
public. The public was again irresponsive. _The Cornhill Magazine_, then
edited by Thackeray, declared the book to be 'tiresome reading.' The
_Spectator_ reviewer was more kindly, but nowhere was there any
enthusiasm. Only a thousand copies were sold,[224] and a second edition
did not appear until 1865, and not another until seven years after
Borrow's death. Yet the author had the encouragement that comes from
kindly correspondents. Here, for example, is a letter that could not but
have pleased him:

                WEST HILL LODGE, HIGHGATE,
                _Dec. 29th, 1862._

     DEAR SIR,--We have had a great Christmas pleasure this
     year--the reading of your _Wild Wales_, which has taken us so
     deliciously into the lovely fresh scenery and life of that
     pleasant mountain-land. My husband and myself made a little
     walking tour over some of your ground in North Wales this year;
     my daughter and her uncle, Richard Howitt, did the same; and we
     have been ourselves collecting material for a work, the scenes
     of which will be laid amidst some of our and your favourite
     mountains. But the object of my writing was not to tell you
     this; but after assuring you of the pleasure your work has
     given us--to say also that in one respect it has tantalised us.
     You have told over and over again to fascinated audiences, Lope
     de Vega's ghost story, but still leave the poor reader at the
     end of the book longing to hear it in vain.

     May I ask you, therefore, to inform us in which of Lope de
     Vega's numerous works this same ghost story is to be found? We
     like ghost stories, and to a certain extent believe in them, we
     deserve therefore to know the best ghost story in the world:

     Wishing for you, your wife and your Henrietta, all the
     compliments of the season in the best and truest of
     expression.--I am, dear sir, yours sincerely,

                MARY HOWITT.[225]


_From the original Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George
Borrow and his Circle.'_]

The reference to Lope de Vega's ghost story is due to the fact that in
the fifty-fifth chapter of _Wild Wales_, Borrow, after declaring that
Lope de Vega was 'one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived,' added,
that among his tales may be found 'the best ghost story in the world.'
Dr. Knapp found the story in Borrow's handwriting among the manuscripts
that came to him, and gives it in full. In good truth it is but
moderately interesting, although Borrow seems to have told it to many
audiences when in Wales, but this perhaps provides the humour of the
situation. It seems clear that Borrow contemplated publishing Lope de
Vega's ghost story in a later book. We note here, indeed, a letter of a
much later date in which Borrow refers to the possibility of a
supplement to _Wild Wales_, the only suggestion of such a book that I
have seen, although there is plenty of new manuscript in my Borrow
collection to have made such a book possible had Borrow been encouraged
by his publisher and the public to write it.


_From the original Manuscript in the possession of the Author of 'George
Borrow and his Circle.'_]

To J. Evan Williams, Esq.

                22 HEREFORD SQUARE, BROMPTON, _Decr. 31, 1863._

     DEAR SIR,--I have received your letter and thank you for the
     kind manner in which you are pleased to express yourself
     concerning me. Now for your questions. With respect to Lope De
     Vega's ghost story, I beg to say that I am thinking of
     publishing a supplement to my _Wild Wales_ in which, amongst
     other things, I shall give a full account of the tale and point
     out where it is to be found. You cannot imagine the number of
     letters I receive on the subject of that ghost story. With
     regard to the Sclavonian languages, I wish to observe that they
     are all well deserving of study. The Servian and Bohemian
     contain a great many old traditionary songs, and the latter
     possesses a curious though not very extensive prose literature.
     The Polish has, I may say, been rendered immortal by the
     writings of Mickiewicz, whose 'Conrad Wallenrod' is probably
     the most remarkable poem of the present century. The Russian,
     however, is the most important of all the Sclavonian tongues,
     not on account of its literature but because it is spoken by
     fifty millions of people, it being the dominant speech from the
     Gulf of Finland to the frontiers of China. There is a
     remarkable similarity both in sound and sense between many
     Russian and Welsh words, for example 'tcheló' ([Russian]) is
     the Russian for forehead, 'tal' is Welsh for the same; 'iasnhy'
     (neuter 'iasnoe') is the Russian for clear or radiant, 'iesin'
     the Welsh, so that if it were grammatical in Russian to place
     the adjective after the noun as is the custom in Welsh, the
     Welsh compound 'Taliesin' (Radiant forehead) might be rendered
     in Russian by 'Tchel[=o]iasnoe,' which would be wondrously like
     the Welsh name; unfortunately, however, Russian grammar would
     compel any one wishing to Russianise 'Taliesin' to say not
     'Tchel[=o]iasnoe' but 'Iasnoetchelo.'--Yours truly,

                GEORGE BORROW.

Another letter that Borrow owed to his _Wild Wales_ may well have place
here. It will be recalled that in his fortieth chapter he waxes
enthusiastic over Lewis Morris, the Welsh bard, who was born in Anglesey
in 1700 and died in 1765. Morris's great-grandson, Sir Lewis Morris
(1833-1907), the author of the once popular _Epic of Hades_, was
twenty-nine years of age when he wrote to Borrow as follows:--

To George Borrow, Esq.

                REFORM CLUB, _Dec. 29, 1862._

     SIR,--I have just finished reading your work on _Wild Wales_,
     and cannot refrain from writing to thank you for the very
     lifelike picture of the Welsh people, North and South, which,
     unlike other Englishmen, you have managed to give us. To
     ordinary Englishmen the language is of course an
     insurmountable bar to any real knowledge of the people, and the
     result is that within six hours of Paddington or Euston Square
     is a country nibbled at superficially by droves of
     holiday-makers, but not really better known than Asia Minor. I
     wish it were possible to get rid of all obstacles which stand
     in the way of the development of the Welsh people and the Welsh
     intellect. In the meantime every book which like yours tends to
     lighten the thick darkness which seems to hang round Wales
     deserves the acknowledgments of every true Welshman. I am,
     perhaps, more especially called upon to express my thanks for
     the very high terms in which you speak of my great-grandfather,
     Lewis Morris. I believe you have not said a word more than he
     deserves. Some of the facts which you mention with regard to
     him were unknown to me, and as I take a very great interest in
     everything relating to my ancestor I venture to ask you whether
     you can indicate any source of knowledge with regard to him and
     his wife, other than those which I have at present--viz. an old
     number of the _Cambrian Register_ and some notices of him in
     the _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1760-70. There is also a letter of
     his in Lord Teignmouth's _Life of Sir William Jones_ in which
     he claims kindred with that great scholar. Many of his
     manuscript poems and much correspondence are now in the library
     of the British Museum, most of them I regret to say a sealed
     book to one who like myself had yet to learn Welsh. But I am
     not the less anxious to learn all that can be ascertained about
     my great ancestor. I should say that two of his brothers,
     Richard and William, were eminent Welsh scholars.

     With apologies for addressing you so unceremoniously, and with
     renewed thanks, I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,

                LEWIS MORRIS.

An interesting letter to Borrow from another once popular writer belongs
to this period:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                THE 'PRESS' OFFICE, STRAND, WESTMINSTER, _Thursday._

     One who has read and delighted in everything Mr. Borrow has
     yet published ventures to say how great has been his delight in
     reading _Wild Wales_. No philologist or linguist, I am yet an
     untiring walker and versifier: and really I think that few
     things are pleasanter than to walk and to versify. Also, well
     do I love good ale, natural drink of the English. If I could
     envy anything, it is your linguistic faculty, which unlocks to
     you the hearts of the unknown races of these islands--unknown,
     I mean, as to their real feelings and habits, to ordinary
     Englishmen--and your still higher faculty of describing your
     adventures in the purest and raciest English of the day. I send
     you a Danish daily journal, which you may not have seen. Once a
     week it issues articles in English. How beautiful (but of
     course not new to you) is the legend of Queen Dagmar, given in
     this number! A noble race, the Danes: glad am I to see their
     blood about to refresh that which runs in the royal veins of
     England. Sorry and ashamed to see a Russell bullying and
     insulting them.

                MORTIMER COLLINS.[226]

How greatly Borrow was disappointed at the comparative failure of _Wild
Wales_ may be gathered from a curt message to his publisher which I find
among his papers:

     Mr. Borrow has been applied to by a country bookseller, who is
     desirous of knowing why there is not another edition of _Wild
     Wales_, as he cannot procure a copy of the book, for which he
     receives frequent orders. That it was not published in a cheap
     form as soon as the edition of 1862 was exhausted has caused
     much surprise.

Borrow, it will be remembered, left Wales at Chepstow, as recorded in
the hundred and ninth and final chapter of _Wild Wales_, 'where I
purchased a first class ticket, and ensconcing myself in a comfortable
carriage, was soon on my way to London, where I arrived at about four
o'clock in the morning.' In the following letter to his wife there is a
slight discrepancy, of no importance, as to time:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                53A PALL MALL, LONDON.

     DEAR WIFE CARRETA,--I arrived here about five o'clock this
     morning--time I saw you. I have walked about 250 miles. I
     walked the whole way from the North to the South--then turning
     to the East traversed Glamorganshire and the county of
     Monmouth, and came out at Chepstow. My boots were worn up by
     the time I reached Swansea, and was obliged to get them new
     soled and welted. I have seen wonderful mountains, waterfalls,
     and people. On the other side of the Black Mountains I met a
     cartload of gypsies; they were in a dreadful rage and were
     abusing the country right and left. My last ninety miles proved
     not very comfortable, there was so much rain. Pray let me have
     some money by Monday as I am nearly without any, as you may
     well suppose, for I was three weeks on my journey. I left you
     on a Thursday, and reached Chepstow yesterday, Thursday,
     evening. I hope you, my mother, and Hen. are well. I have seen
     Murray and Cooke.--God bless you, yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.

     (Keep this.)

Before Borrow put the finishing touches to _Wild Wales_ he repeated his
visit of 1854. This was in 1857, the year of _The Romany Rye_. Dr. Knapp
records the fact through a letter to Mr. John Murray from Shrewsbury, in
which he discusses the possibility of a second edition of _The Romany
Rye_: 'I have lately been taking a walk in Wales of upwards of five
hundred miles,' he writes. This tour lasted from August 23rd to October
5th. I find four letters to his wife that were written in this holiday.
He does not seem to have made any use of this second tour in his _Wild
Wales_, although I have abundance of manuscript notes upon it in my

To Mrs. George Borrow

                TENBY, _Tuesday, 25._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--Since writing to you I have been rather
     unwell and was obliged to remain two days at Sandypool. The
     weather has been horribly hot and affected my head and likewise
     my sight slightly; moreover one of the shoes hurt my foot. I
     came to this place to-day and shall presently leave it for
     Pembroke on my way back. I shall write to you from there. I
     shall return by Cardigan. What I want you to do is to write to
     me directed to the post office, Cardigan (in Cardiganshire),
     and either inclose a post office order for five pounds or an
     order from Lloyd and Co. on the banker of that place for the
     same sum; but at any rate write or I shall not know what to do.
     I would return by railroad, but in that event I must go to
     London, for there are no railroads from here to Shrewsbury. I
     wish moreover to see a little more. Just speak to the banker
     and don't lose any time. Send letter, and either order in it,
     or say that I can get it at the bankers. I hope all is well.
     God bless you and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                TRECASTLE, BRECKNOCKSHIRE, SOUTH WALES, _August 17th._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I write to you a few words from this place;
     to-morrow I am going to Llandovery and from there to
     Carmarthen; for the first three or four days I had dreadful
     weather. I got only to Worthen the first day, twelve miles--on
     the next to Montgomery, and so on. It is now very hot, but I am
     very well, much better than at Shrewsbury. I hope in a few days
     to write to you again, and soon to be back to you. God bless
     you and Hen.

                G. BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                LAMPETER, _3rd September 1857._

     MY DEAR CARRETA,--I am making the best of my way to Shrewsbury
     (My face is turned towards Mama). I write this from Lampeter,
     where there is a college for educating clergymen intended for
     Wales, which I am going to see. I shall then start for Badnor
     by Tregaron, and hope soon to be in England. I have seen an
     enormous deal since I have been away, and have walked several
     hundred miles. Amongst other places I have seen St. David's, a
     wonderful half ruinous cathedral on the S. Western end of
     Pembrokeshire, but I shall be glad to get back. God bless you
     and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

     Henrietta! Do you know who is handsome?

To Mrs. George Borrow

                PRESTEYNE, RADNORSHIRE, _Monday morning._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I am just going to start for Ludlow, and hope to
     be at Shrewsbury on Tuesday night if not on Monday morning. God
     bless you and Hen.

                G. BORROW.

     When I get back I shall have walked more than 400 miles.

In _Wild Wales_ we have George Borrow in his most genial mood. There are
none of the hairbreadth escapes and grim experiences of _The Bible in
Spain_, none of the romance and the glamour of _Lavengro_ and its
sequel, but there is good humour, a humour that does not obtain in the
three more important works, and there is an amazing amount of frank
candour of a biographical kind. We even have a reference to Isopel
Berners, referred to by Captain Bosvile as 'the young woman you used to
keep company with ... a fine young woman and a virtuous.' It is the
happiest of Borrow's books, and not unnaturally. He was having a genuine
holiday, and he had the companionship during a part of it of his wife
and daughter, of whom he was, as this book is partly written to prove,
very genuinely fond. He also enjoyed the singularly felicitous
experience of harking back upon some of his earliest memories. He was
able to retrace the steps he took in the Welsh language during his

     That night I sat up very late reading the life of Twm O'r Nant,
     written by himself in choice Welsh.... The life I had read in
     my boyhood in an old Welsh magazine, and I now read it again
     with great zest, and no wonder, as it is probably the most
     remarkable autobiography ever penned.

It is in this ecstatic mood that he passes through Wales. Let me recall
the eulogy on 'Gronwy' Owen, and here it may be said that Borrow rarely
got his spelling correct of the proper names of his various literary
heroes, in the various Norse and Celtic tongues in which he
delighted.[227] But how much Borrow delighted in his poets may be seen
by his eulogy on Goronwy Owen, which in its pathos recalls Carlyle's
similar eulogies over poor German scholars who interested him, Jean Paul
Richter and Heyne, for example. Borrow ignored Owen's persistent
intemperance and general impracticability. Here and here only, indeed,
does he remind one of Carlyle.[228] He had a great capacity for
hero-worship, although the two were not interested in the same heroes.
His hero-worship of Owen took him over large tracks of country in search
of that poet's birthplace. He writes of the delight he takes in
inspecting the birth-places and haunts of poets. 'It is because I am
fond of poetry, poets, and their haunts, that I am come to
Anglesey.'[229] 'I proceeded on my way,' he says elsewhere, 'in high
spirits indeed, having now seen not only the tomb of the Tudors, but one
of those sober poets for which Anglesey has always been so famous.' And
thus it is that _Wild Wales_ is a high-spirited book, which will always
be a delight and a joy not only to Welshmen, who, it may be hoped, have
by this time forgiven 'the ecclesiastical cat' of Llangollen, but to all
who rejoice in the great classics of the English tongue.


[222] 'Not one drop of East Anglian blood was in the veins of Borrow's
father, and very little in the veins of his mother. Borrow's ancestry
was pure Cornish on one side, and on the other mainly French.'--Theodore
Watts-Dunton: Introduction to _The Romany Rye_ (Ward and Lock).

[223] The advertisement describes it thus: 'In two volumes, _Songs of
Europe: or Metrical Translations from all the European Languages; With
Brief Prefatory Remarks on each Language and its Literature_.'

[224] _Wild Wales: Its People, Language, and Scenery_. By George Borrow.
3 vols. John Murray, 1862.

[225] Mary Botham (1799-1888) was born at Coleford, Gloucestershire, and
married William Howitt in 1821. The pair compiled many books together.
The statement in the _Dictionary of National Biography_ that 'nothing
that either of them wrote will live' is quite unwarranted. William
Howitt's _Homes and Haunts of the most eminent British Poets_ (Bentley,
2 vols., 1847) is still eagerly sought after for every good library. In
_Mary Howitt: An Autobiography_ (Isbister, 2 vols., 1889), a valuable
book of reminiscences, there is no mention of Borrow.

[226] Edward James Mortimer Collins (1827-1876), once bore the title of
'King of the Bohemians' among his friends; wrote _Sweet and Twenty_ and
many other novels once widely popular.

[227] Goronwy or Gronow Owen (1723-1769), born at Rhos Fawr in Anglesey,
and died at St. Andrews, Brunswick County, Virginia.

[228] Borrow had at many points certain affinities to Carlyle's hero
Johnson, but lacked his epigrammatic wit--and much else. But he seems to
have desired to emulate Johnson in one particular, as we find in the
following dialogue:--

'I wouldn't go on foot there this night for fifty pounds.'

'Why not?' said I.

'For fear of being knocked down by the colliers, who will be all out and

'If not more than two attack me,' said I, 'I shan't so much mind. With
this book I am sure I can knock down one, and I think I can find play
for the other with my fists.'

[229] When searching for the home of Goronwy Owen Borrow records a
meeting with one of his descendants--a little girl of seven or eight
years of age, named Ellen Jones, who in recent years has been
interviewed as to her impressions of Borrow's visit. 'He did speak
_funny_ Welsh,' she says, '... he could not pronounce the "ll." 'He had
plenty of words, but bad pronunciation.'--Herbert Jenkins: _Life of
Borrow_, p. 418. But Borrow in _Wild Wales_ frequently admits his
imperfect acquaintance with spoken Welsh.


LIFE IN LONDON, 1860-1874

George Borrow's earlier visits to London are duly recorded, with that
glamour of which he was a master, in the pages of _Lavengro_. Who can
cross London Bridge even to-day without thinking of the apple-woman and
her copy of _Moll Flanders_; and many passages of Borrow's great book
make a very special appeal to the lover of London. Then there was that
visit to the Bible Society's office made on foot from Norwich, and the
expedition a few months later to pass an examination in the Manchu
language. When he became a country squire and the author of the very
successful _Bible in Spain_ Borrow frequently visited London, and his
various residences may be traced from his letters. Take, for example,
these five notes to his wife, the first apparently written in 1848, but
all undated:

To Mrs. George Borrow

                _Tuesday afternoon._

     MY DEAR WIFE,--I just write you a line to tell you that I am
     tolerably well as I hope you are. Every thing is in confusion
     abroad. The French King has disappeared and will probably never
     be heard of, though they are expecting him in England. Funds
     are down nearly to eighty. The Government have given up the
     income tax and people are very glad of it. _I am not._ With
     respect to the funds, if I were to sell out I should not know
     what to do with the money. J. says they will rise. I do not
     think they will, they may, however, fluctuate a little.--Keep
     up your spirits, my heart's dearest, and kiss old Hen. for me.

     G. B.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                53_a_, PALL MALL.

     DEAR WIFE CARRETA,--I write you a line as I suppose you will be
     glad to have one. I dine to-night with Murray and Cooke, and we
     are going to talk over about _The Sleeping Bard_; both are very
     civil. I have been reading hard at the Museum and have lost no
     time. Yesterday I went to Greenwich to see the Leviathan. It is
     almost terrible to look at, and seems too large for the river.
     It resembles a floating town--the paddle is 60 feet high. A
     tall man can stand up in the funnel as it lies down. 'Tis sad,
     however, that money is rather scarce. I walked over Blackheath
     and thought of poor dear Mrs. Watson. I have just had a note
     from FitzGerald. We have had some rain but not very much.
     London is very gloomy in rainy weather. I was hoping that I
     should have a letter from you this morning. I hope you and Hen.
     have been well.--God bless you,

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                PALL MALL, _53a, Saturday._

     DEAR CARRETA,--I am thinking of coming to you on Thursday. I do
     not know that I can do anything more here, and the dulness of
     the weather and the mists are making me ill. Please to send
     another five pound note by Tuesday morning. I have spent
     scarcely anything of that which you sent except what I owe to
     Mrs. W., but I wish to have money in my pocket, and Murray and
     Cooke are going to dine with me on Tuesday; I shall be glad to
     be with you again, for I am very much in want of your society.
     I miss very much my walks at Llangollen by the quiet canal; but
     what's to be done? Everything seems nearly at a standstill in
     London, on account of this wretched war, at which it appears to
     me the English are getting the worst, notwithstanding their
     boasting. They thought to settle it in an autumn's day; they
     little knew the Russians, and they did not reflect that just
     after autumn comes winter, which has ever been the Russians'
     friend. Have you heard anything about the rent of the Cottage?
     I should have been glad to hear from you this morning. Give my
     love to Hen. and may God bless you, dear.

     (Keep this.)

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                No. 53_a_ PALL MALL.

     DEAR CARRETA,--I hope you received my last letter written on
     Tuesday. I am glad that I came to London. I find myself much
     the better for having done so. I was going on in a very
     spiritless manner. Everybody I have met seems very kind and
     glad to see me. Murray seems to be thoroughly staunch. Cooke,
     to whom I mentioned the F.T., says that Murray was delighted
     with the idea, and will be very glad of the 4th of _Lavengro_.
     I am going to dine with Murray to-day, Thursday. W. called upon
     me to-day. I wish you would send me a blank cheque, in a letter
     so that if I want money I may be able to draw for a little. I
     shall not be long from home, but now I am here I wish to do all
     that's necessary. If you send me a blank cheque, I suppose W.
     or Murray would give me the money. I hope you got my last
     letter. I received yours, and Cooke has just sent the two
     copies of _Lavengro_ you wrote for, and I believe some
     engravings of the picture. I shall wish to return by the packet
     if possible, and will let you know when I am coming. I hope to
     write again shortly to tell you some more news. How is mother
     and Hen., and how are all the creatures? I hope all well. I
     trust you like all I propose--now I am here I want to get two
     or three things, to go to the Museum, and to arrange matters.
     God bless you. Love to mother and Hen.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. George Borrow

                No. 58 JERMYN STREET, ST. JAMES.

     DEAR CARRETA,--I got here safe, and upon the whole had not so
     bad a journey as might be expected. I put up at the Spread
     Eagle for the night for I was tired and _hungry_; have got into
     my old lodgings as you see, those on the second floor, they are
     very nice ones, with every convenience; they are expensive, it
     is true, but they are _cheerful_, which is a grand
     consideration for me. I have as yet seen nobody, for it is only
     now a little past eleven. I can scarcely at present tell you
     what my plans are, perhaps to-morrow I shall write again. Kiss
     Hen., and God bless you.

                G. B.

It was in the year 1843 that Borrow, on a visit to London following upon
the success of _The Bible in Spain_, sat to Henry Wyndham Phillips for
his portrait at the instigation of Mr. Murray, who gave Borrow a
replica, retaining for himself Phillips's more finished picture, which
has been reproduced again and again in the present Mr. Murray's Borrow

Borrow was in London in 1845 and again in 1848. There must have been
other occasional visits on the way to this or that starting point of his
annual holiday, but in 1860 Borrow took a house in London, and he
resided there until 1874, when he returned to Oulton. In a letter to Mr.
John Murray, written from Ireland in November 1859, Mrs. Borrow writes
to the effect that in the spring of the following year she will wish to
look round 'and select a pleasant holiday residence within three to ten
miles of London.' There is no doubt that a succession of winters on
Oulton Broad had been very detrimental to Mrs. Borrow's health, although
they had no effect upon Borrow, who bathed there with equal indifference
in winter as in summer, having, as he tells us in _Wild Wales_, 'always
had the health of an elephant.' And so Borrow and his wife arrived in
London in June, and took temporary lodgings at 21 Montagu Street,
Portman Square. In September they went into occupation of a house in
Brompton--22 Hereford Square, which is now commemorated by a County
Council tablet. Here Borrow resided for fourteen years, and here his
wife died on January 30, 1869. She was buried in Brompton Cemetery,
where Borrow was laid beside her twelve years later. For neighbour, on
the one side, the Borrows had Mr. Robert Collinson and, on the other,
Miss Frances Power Cobbe and her companion, Miss M. C. Lloyd. From Miss
Cobbe we have occasional glimpses of Borrow, all of them unkindly. She
was of Irish extraction, her father having been grandson of Charles
Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin. Miss Cobbe was an active woman in all kinds
of journalistic and philanthropic enterprises in the London of the
'seventies and 'eighties of the last century, writing in particular in
the now defunct newspaper, the _Echo_, and she wrote dozens of books and
pamphlets, all of them forgotten except her _Autobiography_,[231] in
which she devoted several pages to her neighbour in Hereford Square.
Borrow had no sympathy with fanatical women with many 'isms,' and the
pair did not agree, although many neighbourly courtesies passed between
them for a time. Here is an extract from Miss Cobbe's _Autobiography_:

     George Borrow, who, if he were not a gypsy by blood, _ought_ to
     have been one, was for some years our near neighbour in
     Hereford Square. My friend[232] was amused by his quaint
     stories and his (real or sham) enthusiasm for Wales, and
     cultivated his acquaintance. I never liked him, thinking him
     more or less of a hypocrite. His missions, recorded in _The
     Bible in Spain_, and his translations of the Scriptures into
     the out-of-the-way tongues, for which he had a gift, were by no
     means consonant with his real opinions concerning the veracity
     of the said Bible.

One only needs to quote this by the light of the story as told so far in
these pages to see how entirely Miss Cobbe misunderstood Borrow, or
rather how little insight she was able to bring to a study of his
curious character. The rest of her attempt at interpretation is largely
taken up to demonstrate how much more clever and more learned she was
than Borrow. Altogether it is a sorry spectacle this of the
pseudo-philanthropist relating her conversations with a man broken by
misfortune and the death of his wife. Many of Miss Cobbe's statements
have passed into current biographies and have doubtless found
acceptance.[233] I do not find them convincing. Archdeacon Whately on
the other hand tells us that he always found Borrow 'most civil and
hospitable,' and his sister gives us the following 'impression':

     When Mr. Borrow returned from this Spanish journey, which had
     been full, as we all know, of most entertaining adventures,
     related with much liveliness and spirit by himself, he was
     regarded as a kind of 'lion' in the literary circles of London.
     When we first saw him it was at the house of a lady who took
     great pleasure in gathering 'celebrities' in various ways
     around her, and our party was struck with the appearance of
     this renowned traveller--a tall, thin, spare man with
     prematurely white hair and intensely dark eyes, as he stood
     upright against the wall of one of the drawing-rooms and
     received the homage of lion-hunting guests, and listened in
     silence to their unsuccessful attempts to make him talk.'[234]

Another reminiscence of Borrow in London is furnished by Mr. A. T.
Story, who writes:[235]

     I had the pleasure of meeting Borrow on several occasions in
     London some forty years ago. I cannot be quite certain of the
     year, but I think it was either in 1872 or '73. I saw him first
     in James Burns's publishing office in Southampton Row. I
     happened to call just as a tall, strongly-built man with an
     unforgettable face was leaving. When he had gone, Mr. Burns
     asked: 'Do you know who that gentleman was?' and when I said I
     did not, he said: 'He is the man whose book, _The Bible in
     Spain_, I saw you take down from the shelf there the other day
     and read.' 'What, George Borrow?' I exclaimed. He nodded, and
     then said Borrow had called several times.

     A few days later I had an opportunity of making the good man's
     acquaintance and hearing a conversation between him and Mr.
     Burns. They talked about Spiritualism, with which Borrow had
     very little patience, though, after some talk he consented to
     attend a séance to be held that evening in Burns's
     drawing-room. We sat together, and I had the pleasure of
     hearing from time to time his grunts of disapproval. When the
     discourse--'in trance'--was over, he asked me if I believed in
     'this sort of thing,' and when I said I was simply an
     investigator he remarked, 'That's all right, I, too, am an
     investigator--of things in general--and it would not take me
     long to sum up that little man (the medium) as a humbug, but a
     very clever humbug.'

     That evening I had a long walk and a talk with him, and after
     that several other opportunities of talk, the last being one
     night when I chanced upon him on Westminster Bridge. It was a
     superb starlight night, and he was standing about midway over
     the bridge gazing down into the river. When I approached him he
     said: 'I have been standing here for twenty minutes looking
     round and meditating. There is not another city like this in
     the world, nor another bridge like this, nor a river, nor a
     Parliament House like that--with its little men making little
     laws--which the Lawgiver that made yonder stars--look at
     them!--is continually confounding--and will confound. O, we
     little men! How long before we are dust? And the stars there,
     how they smile at our puny lives and tricks--here to-day, gone
     to-morrow. And yet to-night how glorious it is to be here!'

     So he rhapsodised. And then it was, 'Where can we get a bite
     and sup? I've been footing it all day among the hills
     there--the Surrey Hills--for a breath of fresh air.'

     In appearance, at the time I knew him, Borrow was neither thin
     nor stout, but well proportioned and apparently of great

During this sojourn in London, which was undertaken because Oulton and
Yarmouth did not agree with his wife, Borrow suffered the tragedy of her
loss. Borrow dragged on his existence in London for another five years,
a much broken man. It is extraordinary how little we know of Borrow
during that fourteen years' sojourn in London; how rarely we meet him in
the literary memoirs of this period. Happily one or two pleasant
friendships relieved the sadness of his days; and in particular the
reminiscences of Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton assist us to a more
correct appreciation of the Borrow of these last years of London life.
Of Mr. Watts-Dunton's 'memories,' we shall write in our next chapter.
Here it remains only to note that Borrow still continued to interest
himself in his various efforts at translation, and in 1861 and 1862 the
editor of _Once a Week_ printed various ballads and stories from his
pen. The volumes of this periodical are before me, and I find
illustrations by Sir John Millais, Sir E. J. Poynter, Simeon Solomon and
George Du Maurier; stories by Mrs. Henry Wood and Harriet Martineau, and
articles by Walter Thornbury.

In 1862 _Wild Wales_ was published, as we have seen. In 1865 Henrietta
married William MacOubrey, and in the following year, Borrow and his
wife went to visit the pair in their Belfast home. In the beginning of
the year 1869 Mrs. Borrow died, aged seventy-three. There are few
records of the tragedy that are worth perpetuating.[236] Borrow consumed
his own smoke. With his wife's death his life was indeed a wreck. No
wonder he was so 'rude' to that least perceptive of women, Miss Cobbe.
Some four or five years more Borrow lingered on in London, cheered at
times by walks and talks with Gordon Hake and Watts-Dunton, and he then
returned to Oulton--a most friendless man:--

    What land has let the dreamer from its gates,
      What face belovèd hides from him away?
    A dreamer outcast from some world of dreams,
      He goes for ever lonely on his way.

    Like a great pine upon some Alpine height,
      Torn by the winds and bent beneath the snow
    Half overthrown by icy avalanche,
      The lone of soul throughout the world must go.

    Alone among his kind he stands alone,
      Torn by the passions of his own strange heart,
    Stoned by continual wreckage of his dreams,
      He in the crowd for ever is apart.

    Like the great pine that, rocking no sweet rest,
      Swings no young birds to sleep upon the bough,
    But where the raven only comes to croak--
      'There lives no man more desolate than thou!'


[230] The frontispiece to the present volume is from the replica in the
possession of Borrow's executor, who has kindly permitted me to have it
photographed for the purpose. There are slight and interesting
variations from Mr. Murray's portrait. Phillips (1820-1868), the artist
of these pictures, is often confused with his father, Thomas
(1770-1845), the Royal Academician and a much superior painter, who, by
the way, painted many portraits of authors for Mr. John Murray. Henry
Phillips was never an R.A. A letter from Phillips to Borrow in my
possession shows that he visited the latter at Oulton. The portrait of
Borrow is pronounced by Henry Dalrymple, his schoolfellow, from whose
manuscript we have already quoted, to be 'very like him.' This fact is
the more remarkable as the only photograph of Borrow that is known, one
taken in a group with Mrs. Simms Reeve of Norwich in 1848--five years
later--has many points of difference. The reader will here be able to
compare the two portraits in this book. A third portrait of Borrow--a
crude painting by his brother John taken in his early years, is now in
the London National Portrait Gallery.

[231] _Life of Frances Power Cobbe as told by Herself_. With Additions
by the Writer and Introduction by Blanche Atkinson. 2 vols., 1904.
Frances Power Cobbe was born in Dublin in 1822, and died at Hengwrt in

[232] Miss Lloyd, who was a Welshwoman. Miss Cobbe lived with her and
was doubtless a jealous woman. There are many kindly letters from Miss
Lloyd to Borrow in my collection. She seems always to be anxious to
invite him to her house.

[233] About three months before her death Miss Cobbe replied to an
inquiry made by Mr. James Hooper of Norwich concerning her estimate of
Borrow. As it is all but certain that Borrow was never intoxicated in
his life, we may find the letter of interest only as giving a point of

                'HENGWRT, DOLGELLEY, N. WALES, _Jan_. 26, 1904.

'I can have no objection to your asking me if my little sketch of George
Borrow in my _Life_ is my _dernier mot_ about him. If I were to give my
_dernier mot_, it would be much more to his disadvantage than anything I
liked to insert in my biography. I see his American biographer has
accused me of 'bitterness.' I do not think that what is contained in my
book is 'bitter' at all. But if I were to have told my last interview
with him,--when I was driven practically to drive him out of our house,
more or less drunk, or mad with some opiate--the charge might have had
some colour. He was not a good man, and not a true or honourable one, by
any manner of means.'

Here assuredly we miss the fine charity which led Goethe's friend, the
Duchess of Weimar, to urge that there was a special moral law for poets.
Not for one moment does it occur to Miss Cobbe that her neighbour was a
man of genius who had written four imperishable contributions to English
literature. To her he was merely a conceited, brusque old man.
Concerning the adage that 'no man is a hero to his valet,' well may
Carlyle remark that that is more often the fault of the valet than of
the hero.

[234] _Personal and Family Glimpses of Remarkable People_. By Edward W.
Whately. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1889.

[235] London _Daily Chronicle_, July 9, 1913.

[236] There is an interview between Borrow and his wife's medical
attendant, Dr. Playfair, recorded in Herbert Jenkins's _Life_, that is
full of poignancy.



We should know little enough of George Borrow's later years, were it not
for his friendship with Thomas Gordon Hake and Theodore Watts-Dunton.
Hake was born in 1809 and died in 1895. In 1839 he settled at Bury St.
Edmunds as a physician, and he resided there until 1853. Here he was
frequently visited by the Borrows. We have already quoted his prophecy
concerning _Lavengro_ that 'its roots will strike deep into the soil of
English letters.' In 1853 Dr. Hake and his family left Bury for the
United States, where they resided for some years. Returning to England
they lived at Roehampton and met Borrow occasionally in London. During
these years Hake was, according to Mr. W. M. Rossetti, 'the earthly
Providence of the Rossetti family,' but he was not, as his _Memoirs_
show, equally devoted to Borrow. In 1872, however, he went to live in
Germany and Italy for a considerable period. Concerning the relationship
between Borrow and Hake, Mr. Watts-Dunton has written:

     After Hake went to live in Germany, Borrow told me a good deal
     about their intimacy, and also about his own early life: for,
     reticent as he naturally was, he and I got to be confidential
     and intimate. His friendship with Hake began when Hake was
     practising as a physician in Norfolk. It lasted during the
     greater part of Borrow's later life. When Borrow was living in
     London his great delight was to walk over on Sundays from
     Hereford Square to Coombe End, call upon Hake, and take a
     stroll with him over Richmond Park. They both had a passion for
     herons and for deer. At that time Hake was a very intimate
     friend of my own, and having had the good fortune to be
     introduced by him to Borrow I used to join the two in their
     walks. Afterwards, when Hake went to live in Germany, I used to
     take those walks with Borrow alone. Two more interesting men it
     would be impossible to meet. The remarkable thing was that
     there was between them no sort of intellectual sympathy. In
     style, in education, in experience, whatever Hake was, Borrow
     was not. Borrow knew almost nothing of Hake's writings, either
     in prose or in verse. His ideal poet was Pope, and when he
     read, or rather looked into, Hake's _World's Epitaph_, he
     thought he did Hake the greatest honour by saying, 'there are
     lines here and there that are nigh as good as Pope'!

     On the other hand, Hake's acquaintance with Borrow's works was
     far behind that of some Borrovians who did not know Lavengro in
     the flesh, such as Saintsbury and Mr. Birrell. Borrow was shy,
     angular, eccentric, rustic in accent and in locution, but with
     a charm for me, at least, that was irresistible. Hake was
     polished, easy and urbane in everything, and, although not
     without prejudice and bias, ready to shine generally in any

     So far as Hake was concerned the sole link between them was
     that of reminiscence of earlier days and adventures in Borrow's
     beloved East Anglia. Among many proofs I would adduce of this I
     will give one. I am the possessor of the MS. of Borrow's
     _Gypsies of Spain_, written partly in a Spanish notebook as he
     moved about Spain in his colporteur days. It was my wish that
     Hake would leave behind him some memorial of Borrow more worthy
     of himself and his friend than those brief reminiscences
     contained in _Memoirs of Eighty Years_. I took to Hake this
     precious relic of _one of the most wonderful men of the
     nineteenth century_, in order to discuss with him differences
     between the MS. and the printed text. Hake was writing in his
     invalid chair,--writing verses. 'What does it all matter?' he
     said. 'I do not think you understand Lavengro,' I said. Hake
     replied, 'And yet Lavengro had an advantage over me, for _he_
     understood _nobody_. Every individuality with which he was
     brought into contact had, as no one knows better than you, to
     be tinged with colours of his own before he could see it at
     all.' That, of course, was true enough; and Hake's asperities
     when speaking of Borrow in _Memoirs of Eighty
     Years_,--asperities which have vexed a good many
     Borrovians,--simply arose from the fact that it was impossible
     for two such men to understand each other. When I told him of
     Mr. Lang's angry onslaught upon Borrow in his notes to the
     _Waverley Novels_, on account of his attacks upon Scott, he
     said, 'Well, does he not deserve it?' When I told him of Miss
     Cobbe's description of Borrow as a _poseur_, he said to me, 'I
     told you the same scores of times. But I saw Borrow had
     bewitched you during that first walk under the rainbow in
     Richmond Park. It was that rainbow, I think, that befooled
     you.' Borrow's affection for Hake, however, was both strong and
     deep, as I saw after Hake had gone to Germany and in a way
     dropped out of Borrow's ken. Yet Hake was as good a man as ever
     Borrow was, and for certain others with whom he was brought in
     contact as full of a genuine affection as Borrow was

Mr. Watts-Dunton refers here to Hake's asperities when speaking of
Borrow. They are very marked in the _Memoirs of Eighty Years_, and
nearly all the stories of Borrow's eccentricities that have been served
up to us by Borrow's biographers are due to Hake. It is here we read of
his snub to Thackeray. 'Have you read my Snob Papers in _Punch_?'
Thackeray asked him. 'In _Punch_?' Borrow replied. 'It is a periodical I
never look at.' He was equally rude, or shall we say Johnsonian,
according to Hake, when Miss Agnes Strickland asked him if she might
send him her _Queens of England_. He exclaimed, 'for God's sake don't,
madam; I should not know where to put them or what to do with them.'
Hake is responsible also for that other story about the woman who,
desirous of pleasing him, said, 'Oh, Mr. Borrow, I have read your books
with so much pleasure!' On which he exclaimed, 'Pray, what books do you
mean, madam? Do you mean my account books?'[238] Dr. Johnson was guilty
of many such vagaries, and the readers of Boswell have forgiven him
everything because they are conveyed to them through the medium of a
hero-worshipper. Borrow never had a Boswell, and despised the literary
class so much that he never found anything in the shape of an apologist
until he had been long dead. The most competent of these, because
writing from personal knowledge, was Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton, who
is known in literature as Theodore Watts, the author of _Aylwin_ and
_The Coming of Love_, and the writer of many acute and picturesque
criticisms. Mr. Watts-Dunton--who added his mother's name of Dunton to
his own in later life--was the son of a solicitor of St. Ives in
Huntingdonshire. In early life he was himself a solicitor, which
profession he happily abandoned for literature. His friendship with
Algernon Charles Swinburne is one of the romances of the Victorian era.
His affectionate solicitude doubtless kept that great poet alive for
many a year beyond what would otherwise have been his lot. Watts-Dunton
was, as we have seen, introduced to Borrow by Hake. He has written a
romance which, if he could be persuaded to publish it, would doubtless
command the same attention as _Aylwin_, in which Borrow is introduced as
'Dereham' and Hake as 'Gordon,' and here he tells the story of that

     One day when I was sitting with him in his delightful home,
     near Roehampton, whose windows at the back looked over Richmond
     Park, and in front over the wildest part of Wimbledon Common,
     one of his sons came in and said that he had seen Dereham
     striding across the common, evidently bound for the house.

     'Dereham,' I said, 'is there a man in the world I should so
     like to see as Dereham?'

     And then I told Gordon how I had seen him years before swimming
     in the sea off Yarmouth, but had never spoken to him.

     'Why do you want so much to see him?' asked Gordon.

     'Well, among other things, I want to see if he is a true Child
     of the Open Air.'[239]

I find no letter from Hake to Borrow among my papers, but three to his

                BURY ST. EDMUNDS, _Jan. 27, '48. Evening._

     MY DEAR MRS. BORROW,--It gave me great pleasure, as it always
     does, to see your handwriting; and as respects the subject of
     your note you may make yourself quite easy, for I believe the
     idea has crossed no other mind than your own. How sorry I am to
     learn that you have been so unwell since your visit to us. I
     hope that by care you will get strong during this bracing
     weather. I wish that you were already nearer to us, and cannot
     resign the hope that we shall yet enjoy the happiness of having
     you as our neighbours. I have felt a strong friendship for Mr.
     Borrow's mind for many years, and have ardently wished from
     time to time to know him, and to have realised my desire I
     consider one of the most happy events of my life. Until lately,
     dear Mrs. Borrow, I have had no opportunity of knowing you and
     your sweet simple-hearted child; but now I hope nothing will
     occur to interrupt a regard and friendship which I and Mrs.
     Hake feel most truly towards you all. Tell Mr. Borrow how much
     we should like to be his Sinbad. I wish he would bring you all
     and his papers and come again to look about him. There is an
     old hall at Tostock, which, I hear to-day, is quite dry; if so
     it is worthy of your attention. It is a mile from the Elmswell
     station, which is ten minutes' time from Bury. This hall has
     got a bad name from having been long vacant, but some friends
     of mine have been over it and they tell me there is not a damp
     spot on the premises. It is seven miles from Bury. Mrs. Hake
     has written about a house at Rougham, but had no answer. The
     cottage at Farnham is to let again. I know not whether Mr.
     Harvey will make an effort for it. A little change would do you
     all good, and we can receive Miss Clarke without any
     difficulty. Give our kindest regards to your party, and believe
     me, dear Mrs. Borrow, sincerely yours,

                T. G. HAKE.

                BURY ST. EDMUNDS, _January 19th, '49._

     MY DEAR MRS. BORROW,--The sight of your handwriting is always a
     luxury--but you say nothing about coming to see us. We are
     pleased to get good accounts of your party, and only wish you
     could report better of yourself. I must take you fairly in hand
     when you come again to the ancient quarters, for such they are
     becoming now from your long absence. You might try bismuth and
     extract of hop, which is often very strengthening to the
     stomach. Five grains of extract of hop and five grains of
     trisnitrate of bismuth made into two pills, which are to be
     taken at eleven and repeated at four--daily. I am so pleased to
     learn that Miss Clarke is better, as well as Mr. Borrow. I hope
     that on some occasion, the morphia may be of great comfort to
     him should his night watchings return. It is good news that the
     proofs are advancing--I hope towards a speedy end. Messrs.
     Oakes and Co.'s Bank is as safe as any in the kingdom and more
     substantial than any in this county. It must be safe, for the
     partners are men of large property, and of careful habits. I am
     happy to say we are all well here, but my brother's house in
     town is a scene of sad trouble. He is himself laid up with bad
     scarlet fever as well as five children, all severely attacked.
     One they have lost of this fearful complaint.

     Give our kindest regards to Mr. Borrow and accept them
     yourselves. Ever, dear Mrs. Borrow, sincerely yours,

                T. G. HAKE.

     I send Beethoven's epitaph for Miss Clarke's album according to
     promise. It is _not_ by Wordsworth.

                BURY ST. EDMUNDS, _June 24, '51._

     MY DEAR MRS. BORROW,--I am very sorry to hear that you are not
     feeling strong, and that these flushes of heat are so frequent
     and troublesome. I will prescribe a medicine for you which I
     hope may prove serviceable. Let me hear again about your
     health, and be assured you cannot possibly give me any trouble.

     I am also glad to hear of Mr. Borrow. I envy him his bath. I am
     looking out anxiously for the new quarterly reviews. I wonder
     whether the _Quarterly_ will contain anything. Is there a
     prospect of vol. iv.? I really look to passing a day and two
     half days with you, and to bringing Mrs. Hake to your classic
     soil some time in August--if we are not inconveniencing you in
     your charming and snug cottage. I hope Miss Clarke is well. Our
     united kind regards to you all. George is quite brisk and
     saucy--Lucy and the infant have not been well. Mrs. Hake has
     better accounts from Bath. Believe me, dear Mrs. Borrow, very
     sincerely yours,

                T. G. HAKE.

     Mr. Donne was pleased that Mr. Borrow liked his notice in
     _Tait_. You can take a little cold sherry and water after your

Mr. A. Egmont Hake, one of Dr. Hake's sons, has also given us an
interesting reminiscence of Borrow:[240]

     Though he was a friend of my family before he wrote _Lavengro_,
     few men have ever made so deep an impression on me as George
     Borrow. His tall, broad figure, his stately bearing, his fine
     brown eyes, so bright yet soft, his thick white hair, his oval,
     beardless face, his loud rich voice, and bold heroic air, were
     such as to impress the most indifferent of lookers-on. Added to
     this there was something not easily forgotten in the manner in
     which he would unexpectedly come to our gates, singing some
     gipsy song, and as suddenly depart. His conversation, too, was
     unlike that of any other man; whether he told a long story or
     only commented on some ordinary topic, he was always quaint,
     often humorous.... It was at Oulton that the author of _The
     Bible in Spain_ spent his happiest days. The _ménage_ in his
     Suffolk home was conducted with great simplicity, but he always
     had for his friends a bottle or two of wine of rare vintage,
     and no man was more hearty than he over the glass. He passed
     his mornings in his summer-house, writing on small scraps of
     paper, and these he handed to his wife who copied them on
     foolscap. It was in this way and in this retreat that the
     manuscript of _Lavengro_ as well as of _The Bible in Spain_ was
     prepared, the place of which he says, 'I hastened to my
     summer-house by the side of the lake and there I thought and
     wrote, and every day I repaired to the same place and thought
     and wrote until I had finished _The Bible in Spain_.' In this
     outdoor studio, hung behind the door, were a soldier's coat and
     a sword which belonged to his father; these were household gods
     on which he would often gaze while composing.

To Mr. Watts-Dunton we owe by far the best description of Borrow's
personal appearance:

     What Borrow lacked in adaptability was in great degree
     compensated by his personal appearance. No one who has ever
     walked with him, either through the streets of London or along
     the country roads, could fail to remark how his appearance
     arrested the attention of the passers-by. As a gypsy woman once
     remarked to the present writer, 'Everybody as ever see'd the
     white-headed Romany Rye never forgot him.' When he chanced to
     meet troops marching along a country road, it was noticeable
     that every soldier, whether on foot or horseback, would
     involuntarily turn to look at Borrow's striking figure. He
     stood considerably above six feet in height, was built as
     perfectly as a Greek statue, and his practice of athletic
     exercises gave his every movement the easy elasticity of an
     athlete under training. Those East Anglians who have bathed
     with him on the east coast, or others who have done the same in
     the Thames or the Ouse, can vouch for his having been an almost
     faultless model of masculine symmetry, even as an old man. With
     regard to his countenance, 'noble' is the only word which can
     be used to describe it. When he was quite a young man his thick
     crop of hair had become of a silvery whiteness.[241] There was
     a striking relation between the complexion, which was as
     luminous and sometimes rosy as an English girl's, and the
     features--almost perfect Roman-Greek in type, with a dash of
     Hebrew. To the dark lustre of the eyes an increased intensity
     was lent by the fair skin. No doubt, however, what most struck
     the observer was the marked individuality, not to say
     singularity, of his expression. If it were possible to describe
     this expression in a word or two, it might, perhaps, be called
     a self-consciousness that was both proud and shy.[242]

Here is another picture by Mr. Watts-Dunton of this London period:[243]

     At seventy years of age, after breakfasting at eight o'clock in
     Hereford Square, he would walk to Putney, meet one or more of
     us at Roehampton, roam about Wimbledon and Richmond Park with
     us, bathe in the Fen Ponds with a north-east wind cutting
     across the icy water like a razor, run about the grass
     afterwards, like a boy to shake off some of the water-drops,
     stride about the park for hours, and then, after fasting for
     twelve hours, eat a dinner at Roehampton that would have done
     Sir Walter Scott's eyes good to see. Finally, he would walk
     back to Hereford Square, getting home late at night. And if the
     physique of the man was bracing, his conversation, unless he
     happened to be suffering from one of his occasional fits of
     depression, was still more so. Its freshness, raciness, and
     eccentric whim no pen could describe. There is a kind of
     humour, the delight of which is that while you smile at the
     pictures it draws, you smile quite as much to think that there
     is a mind so whimsical, crotchety, and odd as to draw them.
     This was the humour of Borrow.

And there is yet another description, equally illuminating, in which Mr.
Watts-Dunton records how he won Borrow's heart by showing a familiarity
with Douglas Jerrold's melodrama _Ambrose Gwinett_:

     From that time I used to see Borrow often at Roehampton,
     sometimes at Putney, and sometimes, but not often, in London. I
     could have seen much more of him than I did had not the
     whirlpool of London, into which I plunged for a time, borne me
     away from this most original of men; and this is what I so
     greatly lament now: for of Borrow it may be said, as it was
     said of a greater man still, that 'after Nature made _him_ she
     forthwith broke the mould.' The last time I ever saw him was
     shortly before he left London to live in the country. It was, I
     remember well, on Waterloo Bridge, where I had stopped to gaze
     at a sunset of singular and striking splendour, whose gorgeous
     clouds and ruddy mists were reeling and boiling over the
     West-End. Borrow came up and stood leaning over the parapet,
     entranced by the sight, as well he might be. Like most people
     born in flat districts, he had a passion for sunsets. Turner
     could not have painted that one, I think, and certainly my pen
     could not describe it; for the London smoke was flushed by the
     sinking sun, and had lost its dunness, and, reddening every
     moment as it rose above the roofs, steeples, and towers, it
     went curling round the sinking sun in a rosy vapour, leaving,
     however, just a segment of a golden rim, which gleamed as
     dazzlingly as in the thinnest and clearest air--a peculiar
     effect which struck Borrow deeply. I never saw such a sunset
     before or since, not even on Waterloo Bridge; and from its
     association with 'the last of Borrow' I shall never forget

Mr. Watts-Dunton concludes his reminiscences--the most valuable personal
record that we have of Borrow--with a sonnet that now has its place in

    We talked of 'Children of the Open Air'
      Who once in Orient valleys lived aloof,
      Loving the sun, the wind, the sweet reproof
    Of storms, and all that makes the fair earth fair,
    Till, on a day, across the mystic bar
      Of moonrise, came the 'Children of the Roof,'
      Who find no balm 'neath Evening's rosiest woof,
    Nor dews of peace beneath the Morning Star.
    We looked o'er London where men wither and choke,
      Roofed in, poor souls, renouncing stars and skies,
      And lore of woods and wild wind-prophecies--
    Yea, every voice that to their fathers spoke:
    And sweet it seemed to die ere bricks and smoke
      Leave never a meadow outside Paradise.


[237] Theodore Watts-Dunton's memoir of Thomas Gordon Hake in the
_Athenæum_, January 19, 1895.

An interesting letter that I have received from Mr. Watts-Dunton clears
up several points and may well have place here:--

                'THE PINES, 11 PUTNEY HILL, S.W., _31st May 1913._

'You ask me what I have written upon George Borrow. When Borrow died
(26th July 1881), the first obituary notice of him in the _Athenæum_ was
not by me, but by W. Elwin. This appeared on the 6th August 1881. At
this time the general public had so forgotten that Borrow was alive that
I remember once, at one of old Mrs. Procter's receptions, it had been
discussed, as Lowell and Browning afterwards told me, as to whether I
was or was not "an archer of the long bow" because I said that on the
previous Sunday I had walked with Borrow in Richmond Park, and was
frequently seeing him, and that on the Sunday before I had walked in the
same beautiful park with Dr. Gordon Latham, another celebrity of the
past "known to be dead." The fact is, Borrow's really great books were
_Lavengro_ and _The Romany Rye_, and the latter had fallen almost dead
from the press, smothered by Victorian respectability and philistinism.
He was thoroughly soured and angry, and no wonder! He fought shy of
literary society. He quite resented being introduced to strangers.

'Elwin's article was considered very unsatisfactory. Knowing that the
most competent man in England to write about Borrow was my old friend,
Dr. Gordon Hake, I suggested that MacColl should ask the doctor (one of
the few men whom Borrow really loved) to furnish the _Athenæum_ with
another article. This was agreed to, and another article was written,
either by Dr. Hake himself, or by one of his sons--I don't quite
remember at this distance of time. It appeared in the _Athenæum_ of the
13th August 1881. But even this article did not seem to MacColl to
vitalise one of the most remarkable personalities of the 19th century;
and as I was then a leading writer in the literary department of the
_Athenæum_, MacColl asked me to give him an article upon Borrow whom I
had known so well. I did so, and the article "caught on," as MacColl
said, more than had any _Athenæum_ article for a long time. This
appeared 3rd September 1881. When MacColl read the article he was so
much pleased with it that he urged me to follow it up with an article on
Borrow in connection with the Children of the Open Air--a subject upon
which I had previously written a good deal in the _Athenæum_. This
appeared on the 10th September 1881, and became still more popular, and
the _Athenæum_ containing it had quite an exceptional sale.

'The Hake whom you inquire about, Egmont Hake, has drifted out of my
ken. He at one time lived in Paris, and wrote a book called _Paris
Originals_. I know that he did, at one time, contemplate writing upon
Borrow, and corresponded with Mrs. MacOubrey with this view; but the
affair fell through. As a son of Dr. Hake's he could not fail to know
Borrow. He wrote a brief article about him, in the _Dictionary of
National Biography_. But the two Hakes who were thrown across Borrow
most intimately were Thomas Hake and George Hake, the latter of whom
lately died in Africa. Thomas Hake, the eldest of the family, knew
Borrow in his own childhood, which the other members of the family did
not. After Dr. Gordon Hake went to live in Germany, after the Roehampton
home was broken up, I saw a good deal of Borrow. He always thought that
no one sympathised with him and understood him so thoroughly as I
did,--Ever most cordially yours,

                'THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON.'

Since receiving this letter I have been in communication with Mr. Egmont
Hake, who generously offered to place his Borrow material at my
disposal, but this offer came too late to be of service. Mr. Hake will,
however, shortly publish his _Memoirs_ in which he will include some
interesting impressions of George Borrow which it has been my privilege
to read in manuscript.

[238] Dr. Hake was equally severe in his references to Thackeray, of
whom scarcely any one has spoken ill. 'Thackeray spent a good deal of
his time on stilts,' he says. '... He was a very disagreeable companion
to those who did not want to boast that they knew him.'--_Memoirs_, p.
86. 'Thackeray,' he says elsewhere, 'as if under the impression that
the party was invited to look at him, thought it necessary to
make a figure.... Borrow knew better how to behave in good
company.'--_Memoirs_, p. 166.

[239] _Theodore Watts-Dunton: Poet, Novelist, Critic_. By James Douglas.
Hodder and Stoughton, 1904, p. 96.

[240] 'Recollections of George Borrow,' by A. Egmont Hake in _The
Athenæum_, Aug. 13, 1881.

[241] Borrow's hair was black until he was about twenty years of age,
when it turned white.

[242] _Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature_, vol. iii. p. 430.

[243] _The Athenæum_, September 3, 1881.

[244] _The Athenæum_, September 10, 1881. I am indebted to my friend Mr.
John Collins Francis., of _The Athenæum_ newspaper, for generously
placing the columns of that journal at my disposal for the purposes of
this book.



To many in our day, less utilitarian than those of an earlier era,
Borrow must have been an interesting man of letters had he not written
his four great books. Single-minded devotion to the less commercially
remunerative languages has now become respectable and even estimable.
Students of the Scandinavian languages, and of the Celtic, abound in our
midst. Borrow was a forerunner with Bowring of much of this 'useless'
learning. Borrow came to consider Bowring's apparent neglect of him to
be unforgivable. But that time had not arrived, when in 1842 he wrote to
him as follows:

To Dr. John Bowring

                OULTON, LOWESTOFT, SUFFOLK, _July 14th, 1842._

     DEAR DEAR SIR,--Pray excuse my troubling you with a line. I
     wish you would send as many of the papers and manuscripts,
     which I left at yours some twelve years ago, as you can find.
     Amongst others there is an essay on Welsh poetry, a translation
     of the _Death of Balder_, etc. If I am spared to the beginning
     of next year, I intend to bring out a volume called _Songs of
     Denmark_, consisting of some selections from the _Kæmpe Viser_
     and specimens from Ewald, Grundtvig, Oehlenschläger, and I
     suppose I must give a few notices of those people. Have you any
     history of Danish literature from which I could glean a few
     hints. I think you have a book in two volumes containing
     specimens of Danish poetry. It would be useful to me as I want
     to translate Ingemann's _Dannebrog_; and one or two other
     pieces. I shall preface all with an essay on the Danish
     language. It is possible that a book of this description may
     take, as Denmark is quite an untrodden field.

     Could you lend me for a short time a Polish and French or
     Polish and German dictionary. I am going carefully through
     Makiewitz, about whom I intend to write an _article_.

     _The Bible in Spain_ is in the press, and with God's permission
     will appear about November in three volumes. I shall tell
     Murray to send a copy to my oldest, I may say my _only_ friend.
     Pray let me know how you are getting on. I every now and then
     see your name in the _Examiner_, the only paper I read. Should
     you send the papers and the books it must be by the Yarmouth
     coach which starts from Fetter Lane. Address: George Borrow,
     Crown Inn, Lowestoft, Suffolk. With kindest remembrances to
     Mrs. Bowring, Miss Bowring, and family--I remain, Dear Sir,
     ever yours,

                GEORGE BORROW.


A Translation from the French by George Borrow

    My Eighteenth Year

    Where is my eighteenth year? far back
    Upon life's variegated track;
    Yet fondly oft I turn my eye,
    And for my eighteenth year I sigh.

    Each pleasure then I took with zest,
    And hope was inmate of my breast,
    Enchanting hope, consoling thing,
    The plucker out of sorrow's sting.

    The sun above shone brighter then
    Fairer were women, kinder men
    If tears I shed they soon were o'er
    And I was happier than before.]

Now with the achieved success of _The Bible in Spain_ and the leisure of
a happy home Borrow could for the moment think of the ambition of
'twelve years ago'--an ambition to put before the public some of the
results of his marvellous industry. The labours of the dark, black years
between 1825 and 1830 might now perchance see the light. Three such
books got themselves published, as we have seen, _Romantic Ballads_,
_Targum_, and _The Talisman_. _The Sleeping Bard_ had been translated
and offered to 'a little Welsh bookseller' of Smithfield in 1830, who,
however, said, when he had read it, 'were I to print it I should be
ruined.' That fate followed the book to the end, and Borrow was
premature when he said in his Preface to _The Sleeping Bard_ that such
folly is on the decline, because he found 'Albemarle Street in '60
willing to publish a harmless but plain-speaking book which Smithfield
shrank from in '30.' At the last moment John Murray refused to publish,
but seems to have agreed to give his imprint to the title-page. Borrow
published the book at his own expense, it being set up by James Matthew
Denew, of 72 Hall Plain, Great Yarmouth. Fourteen years later--in
1874--Mr. Murray made some amends by publishing _Romano Lavo-Lil_, in
which are many fine translations from the Romany, and that, during his
lifetime, was the 'beginning and the end' of Borrow's essays in
publishing so far as his translations were concerned. Webber, the
bookseller of Ipswich, did indeed issue _The Turkish Jester_--advertised
as ready for publication in 1857--in 1884, and Jarrold of Norwich _The
Death of Balder_ in 1889; but enthusiasts have asked in vain for _Celtic
Bards_, _Chiefs and Kings_, _Songs of Europe_, and _Northern Skalds,
Kings and Earls_. It is not recorded whether Borrow offered these to any
publisher other than 'Glorious John' of Albemarle Street, but certain it
is that Mr. Murray would have none of them. The 'mountains of
manuscript' remained to be the sorrowful interest of Borrow as an old
man as they had--many of them--been the sorrow and despair of his early
manhood. Here is a memorandum in his daughter's handwriting of the work
that Borrow was engaged upon at the time of his death:

    Songs of Ireland.
    Songs of the Isle of Man.
    Songs of Wales.
    Songs of the Gaelic Highlands.
    Songs of Anglo-Saxon England.
    Songs of the North, Mythological.
    Songs of the North, Heroic.
    Songs of Iceland.
    Songs of Sweden.
    Songs of Germany.
    Songs of Holland.
    Songs of Ancient Greece.
    Songs of the Modern Greeks.
    Songs of the Klephts.
    Songs of Denmark, Early Period.
    Songs of Denmark, Modern Period.
    Songs of the Feroe Isles.
    Songs of the Gascons.
    Songs of Modern Italy.
    Songs of Portugal.
    Songs of Poland.
    Songs of Hungary.
    Songs and Legends of Turkey.
    Songs of Ancient Rome.
    Songs of the Church.
    Songs of the Troubadours.
    Songs of Normandy.
    Songs of Spain.
    Songs of Russia.
    Songs of the Basques.
    Songs of Finland.

     These translations were intended to form a volume with copious
     notes, but were only completed a month before Mr. Borrow's
     death, which occurred at his residence, Oulton Cottage,
     Suffolk, July 26th, 1881, in the seventy-ninth year of his age.
     This grand old man, full of years and honour, was buried beside
     his wife (who had proved a noble helpmate to him), in Brompton
     Cemetery, August 4th.

And so what many will consider Borrow's 'craze' for verse translations
remained with him to the end. We know with what equanimity he bore his
defeat in early years. Did he not make humorous 'copy' out of it in
_Lavengro_. It must have been a greater disappointment that his
publisher would have none of his wares when he had proved by writing
_The Bible in Spain_ that at least some of his work had money in it. For
years it was Borrow's opinion that Lockhart stood in his way, wishing to
hold the field with his _Ancient Spanish Ballads_ (1821), and
maintaining that Borrow was no poet. The view that Borrow had no poetry
in him and that his verse is always poor has been held by many of
Borrow's admirers. The view will not have the support of those who have
had the advantage of reading all Borrow's less known published writings,
and the many manuscripts that he left behind him. But on the general
question let us hear Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton:--

     It should never be forgotten that Borrow was, before everything
     else, a poet.... By poet I do not mean merely a man who is
     skilled in writing lyrics and sonnets and that kind of thing,
     but primarily a man who has the poetic gift of seeing through
     'the show of things,' and knowing where he is--the gift of
     drinking deeply of the waters of life, and of feeling grateful
     to Nature for so sweet a draught.'[245]

Possibly Mr. Watts-Dunton did not contemplate his idea being applied to
Borrow's verse translations, but all the same the quality of poetic
imagination may be found here in abundance. The little Welsh bookseller
of Smithfield said to Borrow in reference to _The Sleeping Bard_:

     Were I to print it I should be ruined; the terrible description
     of vice and torment would frighten the genteel part of the
     English public out of its wits, and I should to a certainty be
     prosecuted by Sir James Scarlett. I am much obliged to you for
     the trouble you have given yourself on my account--but, Myn
     Diawl! I had no idea, till I had read him in English, that Elis
     Wyn had been such a terrible fellow.

And here the little Welsh bookseller paid Borrow a signal compliment. In
the main Borrow provided a prose translation of _The Sleeping Bard_. In
_Targum_ however, he showed himself a quite gifted balladist, far
removed from the literary standard of _Romantic Ballads_ ten years
earlier. Space does not permit of any quotation in this chapter, and I
must be content here to declare that the spirit of poetry came over
Borrow on many occasions. The whole of Borrow's _Songs of Scandinavia_
will ultimately be published, although for eighty and more years[246]
the pile of neatly written manuscript of that book, which is now in my
possession, has appealed for publication in vain. There will be found,
in such a ballad as _Orm Ungerswayne_, for example, a practical
demonstration that Borrow had the root of the matter in him. It is true
that Borrow's limited acquaintance with English poetry was a serious
drawback to great achievement, and his many translations from his
favourite Welsh bard Goronwy Owen that are before me are too much under
the influence of Pope. In addition to the _Songs of Scandinavia_ I have
before me certain other ballads in manuscript--such portions of his
various unpublished but frequently advertised works as did not fall to
Dr. Knapp.[247] Of these I do not hesitate to say that whatever the
difference of opinion as to their poetic quality there can be no
difference of opinion as to their being well-told stories of an
exceedingly interesting and invigorating character. But I must leave for
another time and another opportunity any discussion of Borrow's poetic
achievement of which at present the world has had little opportunity of
knowing anything.[248] Of prose manuscript there is also a considerable
quantity, including diaries of travel and translations of nine or ten
stories from various languages. Of the minor books already published we
have already spoken of _Faustus_, _Romantic Ballads_, _Targum_, and _The
Talisman_, and Borrow's last and least interesting book _Romano
Lavo-Lil_. There remains but to recall:--

_The Sleeping Bard_,   published by    John Murray, 1860
_The Turkish Jester_,        "           W. Webber, 1884
_The Death of Balder_,       "    Jarrold and Sons, 1889

These eight little volumes will always remain Borrow's least-read books.
Only in _Targum_ and _The Sleeping Bard_ do we find much indication of
those qualities which made him famous. It is not in the least surprising
that the other work failed to find a publisher, and, indeed, from a
merely commercial point of view, the late John Murray had more excuse
for refusing _Romano Lavo-Lil,_ which he did publish, than _The Sleeping
Bard_, which he refused to publish--at least on his own responsibility.
Such books, whatever their merits, are issued to-day only by learned
societies. In a quite different category were those many ballads[249]
from diverse languages that Borrow had hoped to issue under such titles
as _Celtic Bards_, _Chiefs and Kings_, and _Northern Skalds, Kings and
Earls_. These books would have had no difficulty in finding a publisher
to-day were they offered by a writer of one half the popularity of


An 'Advertisement' put forth by Borrow in Norwich during the years of
struggle before he was sent to Russia by the Bible Society. This
interesting document, which is in Borrow's handwriting, is in the
possession of Mr. Frank J. Farrell of Great Yarmouth, by whose courtesy
it is reproduced here.]

There is, I repeat, excellent work in these ballads. As to _Targum_ let
it not be forgotten that Hasfeld--really a good judge--said in _The
Athenæum_ that 'the work is a pearl of genius,' and that William Bodham
Donne declared that 'the language and rhythm are vastly superior to
Macaulay's _Lays of Ancient Rome_.' As to _The Sleeping Bard_ Borrow
himself was able to make his own vigorous defence of that work. In
emulation of Walter Scott he reviewed himself in _The Quarterly_.[251]
His article is really an essay on Welsh poetry, and incidentally he
quotes from his unpublished _Celtic Bards, Chiefs and Kings_ a lengthy
passage, the manuscript of which is in my possession. We are introduced
again to all Borrow's old friends of _Wild Wales_: Hew Morris, Goronwy
Owen, and finally Elis Wyn. Borrow quotes from _The Romany Rye_, but as
becomes a reviewer of his own book, gives no praise to his achievement.

I find no plays among Borrow's 'mountains of manuscript' in my
possession, and so I am not disposed to accept the suggestion that the
following letter from Gifford to Borrow refers to a play which Borrow
pretended to be the work of a friend while it was really his own. If it
was his own he doubtless took Gifford's counsel to heart and promptly
destroyed the manuscript:--

To George Borrow, Esq.

     _A Specimen of Gifford's criticism on a friend's_ play, _which
     I was desired to send to him_.

     MY DEAR BORROW,--I have read your M.S. very attentively, and
     may say of it with Desdemona of the  song--

                   'It is silly, sooth,
    And dallies with the innocence of love
    Like to old age.'

     The poetry in some places is pretty, the sentiment is also
     excellent. And can I say more? The plot is petty, the
     characters without vigour, and the story poorly told. Instead
     of Irene the scene seems to be laid in Arcadia, and the manners
     are not so much confounded as totally lost. There are
     Druids--but such Druids! O Lord!

     There is to be seen no physical, perhaps no moral lesson,
     though a Druid should not be a rogue--but it is not so set down
     in the bond. Is this the characterisation which we have been
     used to see there? To end an unpleasant letter, I must leave
     to your friendship for the author to contrive some mode of
     dissuading him from publishing. If, however, he is determined
     to rush on the world, let him do it, in the first place,
     anonymously. If it takes, he may then toss up his nose at my
     opinion, and claim his work.


     Say nothing of me, for I would not be thought to offend so
     excellent and so able a man. He may be content with his
     literary fame, and can do without poetic praise.

     Your answer is short. The play might have passed very well had
     it been published when written, and when the writer was yet
     young and little known, but it will be hazardous now, as the
     world is cross-grained, and will not see your master in the
     grave and learned author of so many valuable works; but judge
     him from his present attainments. But this, as Mrs. Quickly
     says, 'is alligant terms,' and it may do.--Ever yours,

                WM. GIFFORD.

     _P.S._--I see the preface is already written, and do what you
     will, the play will be published.

One other phase of this more limited aspect of Borrow's work may be
dealt with here--his mastery of languages. I have before me scores of
pages which reveal the way that Borrow became a lav-engro--a
word-master. He drew up tables of every language in turn, the English
word following the German, or Welsh, or whatever the tongue might be,
and he learnt these off with amazing celerity. His wonderful memory was
his greatest asset in this particular. He was not a philologist if we
accept the dictionary definition of that word as 'a person versed in the
science of language.' But his interest in languages is refreshing and
interesting--never pedantic, and he takes rank among those disinterested
lovers of learning who pursue their researches without any regard to the
honours or emoluments that they may bring, loving learning for
learning's sake, undaunted by the discouragements that come from the
indifference of a world to which they have made their appeal in vain.


[245] _The Athenæum_, September 3, 1881.

[246] In the _Monthly Magazine_ for March 1830 under the head of
'Miscellaneous Intelligence' we find the following announcement:--

'Dr. Bowring and Mr. George Borrow are about to publish _The Songs of
Scandinavia_, containing a selection of the most interesting of the
Historical and Romantic Ballads of North-Western Europe, with specimens
of the Danish and Norwegian Poets down to the present day.'

[247] Dr. Knapp's Borrow manuscripts are now in the Hispanic Society's
Archives in New York.

[248] I contemplate at a later date an edition of Borrow's Collected
Writings, in which the unpublished verse will extend to two volumes.

[249] Certain of these have of late been privately printed in pamphlet
form--limited to thirty copies each.

[250] The works of Dr. George Sigerson, Dr. Douglas Hyde and Dr. Kuno
Meyer in Irish Literature are an evidence of this. Dr. Sigerson's _Bards
of the Gael and Gaul_ and Dr. Hyde's _Love Songs of Connaught_ have each
gone through more than one edition and have proved remunerative to their

[251] _The Quarterly Review_, January 1861, pp. 38-63.



Borrow never had a child, but happy for him was the part played by his
stepdaughter Henrietta in his life. She was twenty-three years old when
her mother married him, and it is clear to me that she was from the
beginning of their friendship and even to the end of his life devoted to
her stepfather. Readers of _Wild Wales_ will recall not only the tribute
that Borrow pays to her, which we have already quoted, in which he
refers to her 'good qualities and many accomplishments,' but the other
pleasant references in that book. 'Henrietta,' he says in one passage,
'played on the guitar[252] and sang a Spanish song, to the great delight
of John Jones.' When climbing Snowdon he is keen in his praises of the
endurance of 'the gallant girl.' As against all this, there is an
undercurrent of depreciation of his stepdaughter among Borrow's
biographers. The picture of Borrow's home in later life at Oulton is
presented by them with sordid details. The Oulton tradition which still
survives among the few inhabitants who lived near the Broad at Borrow's
death in 1881, and still reside there, is of an ill-kept home, supremely
untidy, and it is as a final indictment of his daughter's callousness
that we have the following gruesome picture by Dr. Knapp:

     On the 26th of July 1881 Mr. Borrow was found dead in his house
     at Oulton. The circumstances were these. His stepdaughter and
     her husband drove to Lowestoft in the morning on some business
     of their own, leaving Mr. Borrow without a living soul in the
     house with him. He had earnestly requested them not to go away
     because he felt that he was in a dying state; but the response
     intimated that he had often expressed the same feeling before,
     and his fears had proved groundless. During the interval of
     these few hours of abandonment nothing can palliate or excuse,
     George Borrow died as he had lived--_alone_! His age was
     seventy-eight years and twenty-one days.

Dr. Knapp no doubt believed all this;[253] it is endorsed by the village
gossip of the past thirty years, and the mythical tragedy is even
heightened by a further story of a farm tumbril which carried poor
Borrow's body to the railway station when it was being conveyed to
London to be buried beside his wife in Brompton Cemetery.

The tumbril story--whether correct or otherwise--is a matter of
indifference to me. The legend of the neglect of Borrow in his last
moments is however of importance, and the charge can easily be
disproved.[254] I have before me Mrs. MacOubrey's diary for 1881.

I have many such diaries for a long period of years, but this for 1881
is of particular moment. Here, under the date July 26th, we find the
brief note, _George Borrow died at three o'clock this morning_. It is
scarcely possible that Borrow's stepdaughter and her husband could have
left him alone at three o'clock in the morning in order to drive into
Lowestoft, less than two miles distant. At this time, be it remembered,
Dr. MacOubrey was eighty-one years of age. Now, as to the general
untidiness of Borrow's home at the time of his death--the point is a
distasteful one, but it had better be faced. Henrietta was twenty-three
years of age when her mother married Borrow. She was sixty-four at the
time of his death, and her husband, as I have said, was eighty-one years
of age at that time, being three years older than Borrow. Here we have
three very elderly people keeping house together and little accustomed
overmuch to the assistance of domestic servants. The situation at once
becomes clear. Mrs. Borrow had a genius for housekeeping and for
management. She watched over her husband, kept his accounts, held the
family purse,[255] managed all his affairs. She 'managed' her daughter
also, delighting in that daughter's accomplishments of drawing and
botany, to which may be added a zeal for the writing of stories which
does not seem, judging from the many manuscripts in her handwriting that
I have burnt, to have received much editorial encouragement. In short,
Henrietta was not domesticated. But just as I have proved in preceding
chapters that Borrow was happy in his married life, so I would urge that
as far as a somewhat disappointed career would permit to the sadly
bereaved author he was happy in his family circle to the end. It was at
his initiative that, when he had returned to Oulton after the death of
his wife, his daughter and her husband came to live with him. He
declared that to live alone was no longer tolerable, and they gave up
their own home in London to join him at Oulton.

A new glimpse of Borrow on his domestic side has been offered to the
public even as this book is passing through the press. Mr. S. H.
Baldrey, a Norwich solicitor, has given his reminiscences of the author
of _Lavengro_ to the leading newspaper of that city.[256] Mr. Baldrey is
the stepson of the late John Pilgrim of the firm of Jay and Pilgrim, who
were Borrow's solicitors at Norwich in the later years of his life. One
at least of Mr. Baldrey's many reminiscences has in it an element of
romance; that in which he recalls Mrs. Borrow and her daughter:

     Mrs. Borrow always struck me as a dear old creature. When
     Borrow married her she was a widow with one daughter, Henrietta
     Clarke. The old lady used to dress in black silk. She had
     little silver-grey corkscrew curls down the side of her face;
     and she wore a lace cap with a mauve ribbon on top, quite in
     the Early Victorian style. I remember that on one occasion when
     she and Miss Clarke had come to Brunswick House they were
     talking with my mother in the temporary absence of George
     Borrow, who, so far as I can recall, had gone into another room
     to discuss business with John Pilgrim.

     'Ah!' she said, 'George is a good man, but he is a strange
     creature. Do you know he will say to me after breakfast,
     "Mary, I am going for a walk," and then I do not see anything
     more of him for three months. And all the time he will be
     walking miles and miles. Once he went right into Scotland, and
     never once slept in a house. He took not even a handbag with
     him or a clean shirt, but lived just like any old tramp.'

Mr. Baldrey is clearly in error here, or shall we say that Mrs. Borrow
humorously exaggerated? We have seen that Borrow's annual holiday was a
matter of careful arrangement, and his knapsack or satchel is frequently
referred to in his descriptions of his various tours. But the matter is
of little importance, and Mr. Baldrey's pictures of Borrow are
excellent, including that of his personal appearance:

     As I recall him, he was a fine, powerfully built man of about
     six feet high. He had a clean-shaven face with a fresh
     complexion, almost approaching to the florid, and never a
     wrinkle, even at sixty, except at the corners of his dark and
     rather prominent eyes. He had a shock of silvery white hair. He
     always wore a very badly brushed silk hat, a black frock coat
     and trousers, the coat all buttoned down before; low shoes and
     white socks, with a couple of inches of white showing between
     the shoes and the trousers. He was a tireless walker, with
     extraordinary powers of endurance, and was also very handy with
     his fists, as in those days a gentleman required to be, more
     than he does now.

Mr. John Pilgrim lived at Brunswick House, on the Newmarket Road,
Norwich, and here Borrow frequently visited him. Mr. Baldrey recalls one
particular visit:


     I have a curious recollection of his dining one night at
     Brunswick House. John Pilgrim, who was a careful, abstemious
     man, never took more than two glasses of port at dinner.
     'John,' said Borrow, 'this is a good port. I prefer Burgundy if
     you can get it good; but, lord, you cannot get it now.' It so
     happened that Mr. Pilgrim had some fine old Clos-Vougeot in the
     cellar. 'I think,' said he, 'I can give you a good drop of
     Burgundy.' A bottle was sent for, and Borrow finished it, alone
     and unaided. 'Well,' he remarked, 'I think this is a good
     Burgundy. But I'm not quite certain. I should like to try a
     little more.' Another bottle was called up, and the guest
     finished it to the last drop. I am still,' he said, 'not quite
     sure about it, but I shall know in the morning.' The next
     morning Mr. Pilgrim and I were leaving for the office, when
     Borrow came up the garden path waving his arms like a
     windmill. 'Oh, John,' he said, 'that _was_ Burgundy! When I
     woke up this morning it was coursing through my veins like
     fire.' And yet Borrow was not a man to drink to excess. I
     cannot imagine him being the worse for liquor. He had wonderful
     health and digestion. Neither a gourmand nor a gourmet, he
     could take down anything, and be none the worse for it. I don't
     think you could have made him drunk if you tried.

And here is a glimpse of Borrow after his wife's death, for which we are
grateful to Mr. Baldrey:

     After the funeral of Mrs. Borrow he came to Norwich and took me
     over to Oulton with him. He was silent all the way. When we got
     to the little white wicket gate before the approach to the
     house he took off his hat and began to beat his breast like an
     Oriental. He cried aloud all the way up the path. He calmed
     himself, however, by the time that Mr. Crabbe had opened the
     door and asked us in. Crabbe brought in some wine, and we all
     sat down to table. I sat opposite to Mrs. Crabbe; her husband
     was on my left hand. Borrow sat at one end of the table, and
     the chair at the opposite end was left vacant. We were talking
     in a casual way when Borrow, pointing to the empty chair, said
     with profound emotion, 'There! It was there that I first saw
     her.' It was a curious coincidence that though there were four
     of us we should have left that particular seat unoccupied at a
     little table of about four feet square.[257]

But this is a lengthy digression from the story of Henrietta Clarke, who
married William MacOubrey, an Irishman--and an Orangeman--from Belfast
in 1865. The pair lived first in Belfast and afterwards at 80 Charlotte
Street, Fitzroy Square. Before his marriage he had practised at 134
Sloane Street, London. MacOubrey, although there has been some doubt
cast upon the statement, was a Doctor of Medicine of Trinity College,
Dublin, and a Barrister-at-Law. Within his limitations he was an
accomplished man, and before me lie not only documentary evidence of his
M.D. and his legal status, but several printed pamphlets that bear his
name.[258] What is of more importance, the letters from and to his wife
that have through my hands and have been consigned to the flames prove
that husband and wife lived on most affectionate terms.

It is natural that Borrow's correspondence with his stepdaughter should
have been of a somewhat private character, and I therefore publish only
a selection from his letters to her, believing however that they modify
an existing tradition very considerably:

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--Have you heard from the gentleman whom you
     said you would write to about the farm?[259] Mr. C. came over
     the other day and I mentioned the matter to him, but he told me
     that he was on the eve of going to London on law business and
     should be absent for some time. His son is in Cambridge. I am
     afraid that it will be no easy matter to find a desirable
     tenant and that none are likely to apply but a set of needy
     speculators; indeed, there is a general dearth of money. How is
     Dr. M.? God bless you!

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I have received some of the rent and send a
     cheque for eight pounds. Have the kindness to acknowledge the
     receipt of same by return of post. As soon as you arrive in
     London, let me know, and I will send a cheque for ten pounds,
     which I believe will pay your interest up to Midsummer. If
     there is anything incorrect pray inform me. God bless you. Kind
     regards to Miss Harvey.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--As soon as Smith has paid his Michaelmas rent
     I will settle your interest up to Midsummer. Twenty-one pounds
     was, I think, then due to you, as you received five pounds on
     the account of the present year. If, however, you are in want
     of money let me know forthwith, and I will send you a small
     cheque. The document which I mentioned has been witnessed by
     Mrs. Church and her daughter. It is in one of the little tin
     boxes on the lower shelf of the closet nearest to the window in
     my bedroom. I was over at Mattishall some weeks ago. Things
     there look very unsatisfactory. H. and his mother now owe me
     £20 or more. The other man a year's rent for a cottage and
     garden, and two years' rent for the gardens of two cottages
     unoccupied. I am just returned from Norwich where I have been
     to speak to F. I have been again pestered by Pilgrim's
     successor about the insurance of the property. He pretends to
     have insured again. A more impudent thing was probably never
     heard of. He is no agent of mine, and I will have no
     communication with him. I have insured myself in the Union
     Office, and have lately received my second policy. I have now
     paid upwards of twelve pounds for policies. F. says that he
     told him months ago that the demand he made would not be
     allowed, that I insured myself and was my own agent, and that
     as he shall see him in a few days he will tell him so again. Oh
     what a source of trouble that wretched fellow Pilgrim has been
     both to you and me.

     I wish very much to come up to London. But I cannot leave the
     country under present circumstances. There is not a person in
     these parts in whom I can place the slightest confidence. I
     most inform you that at our interview F. said not a word about
     the matter in Chancery. God bless you. Kind remembrances to Dr.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I wish to know how you are. I shall shortly
     send a cheque for thirteen pounds, which I believe will settle
     the interest account up to Michaelmas. If you see anything
     inaccurate pray inform me. I am at present tolerably well, but
     of late have been very much troubled with respect to my people.
     Since I saw you I have been three times over to Mattishall, but
     with very little profit. The last time I was there I got the
     key of the house from that fellow Hill, and let the place to
     another person who I am now told is not much better. One
     comfort is that he cannot be worse. But now there is a
     difficulty. Hill refuses to yield up the land, and has put
     padlocks on the gates. These I suppose can be removed as he is
     not in possession of the key of the house. On this point,
     however, I wish to be certain. As for the house, he and his
     mother, who is in a kind of partnership with him, have
     abandoned it for two years, the consequence being that the
     windows are dashed out, and the place little better than a
     ruin. During the four years he has occupied the land he has
     been cropping it, and the crops have invariably been sold
     before being reaped, and as soon as reaped carried off. During
     the last two years there has not been a single live thing kept
     on the premises, not so much as a hen. He now says that there
     are some things in the house belonging to him. Anything,
     however, which he has left is of course mine, though I don't
     believe that what he has left is worth sixpence. I have told
     the incoming tenant to deliver up nothing, and not permit him
     to enter the house on any account. He owes me ten or twelve
     pounds, arrears of rent, and at least fifteen for
     dilapidations. I think the fellow ought to be threatened with
     an action, but I know not whom to employ. I don't wish to apply
     to F. Perhaps Dr. M.'s London friend might be spoken to. I
     believe Hill's address is Alfred Hill, Mattishall, Norfolk, but
     the place which he occupied of me is at Mattishall Burgh. I
     shall be glad to hear from you as soon as is convenient. I have
     anything but reason to be satisfied with the conduct of S. He
     is cropping the ground most unmercifully, and is sending sacks
     of game off the premises every week. Surely he must be mad, as
     he knows I can turn him out next Michaelmas. God bless you.
     Kind regards to Dr. M. Take care of this.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I was glad to hear that you had obtained your
     dividend. I was afraid that you would never get it. I shall be
     happy to see you and Dr. M. about the end of the month.
     Michaelmas is near at hand, when your half-year's interest
     becomes due. God bless you. Kind remembrances to Dr. M.

                GEORGE BORROW.

     OULTON, LOWESTOFT, _November 29th, 1874._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I send a cheque for £15, which will settle the
     interest account up to Michaelmas last. On receipt of this have
     the kindness to send me a line. I have been to Norwich, and now
     know all about your affair. I saw Mr. Durrant, who, it seems,
     is the real head of the firm to which I go. He received me in
     the kindest manner, and said he was very glad to see me. I
     inquired about J.P.'s affairs. He appeared at first not
     desirous to speak about them, but presently became very
     communicative. I inquired who had put the matter into Chancery,
     and he told me he himself, which I was very glad to hear. I
     asked whether the mortgagees would get their money, and he
     replied that he had no doubt they eventually would, as far as
     principal was concerned. I spoke about interest, but on that
     point he gave me slight hopes. He said that the matter, if not
     hurried, would turn out tolerably satisfactory, but if it were,
     very little would be obtained. It appears that the unhappy
     creature who is gone had been dabbling in post obit bonds, at
     present almost valueless, but likely to become available. He
     was in great want of money shortly before he died. Now, dear,
     pray keep up your spirits; I hope and trust we shall meet about
     Christmas. Kind regards to Dr. M.

                GEORGE BORROW.

     Keep this. Send a line by return of post.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I thought I would write to you as it seems a
     long time since I heard from you. I have been on my expedition
     and have come back safe. I had a horrible time of it on the
     sea--small dirty boat crowded with people and rough weather.
     Poor Mr. Brightwell is I am sorry to say dead--died in January.
     I saw Mr. J. and P. and had a good deal of conversation with
     them which I will talk to you about when I see you. Mr. P. sent
     an officer over to M. I went to Oulton, and as soon as I got
     there I found one of the farm cottages nearly in ruins; the
     gable had fallen down--more expense! but I said that some
     willow trees must be cut down to cover it. The place upon the
     whole looks very beautiful. C. full of complaints, though I
     believe he has a fine time of it. He and T. are at daggers
     drawn. I am sorry to tell you that poor Mr. Leathes is
     dying--called, but could not see him, but he sent down a kind
     message to me. The family, however, were rejoiced to see me and
     wanted me to stay. The scoundrel of a shoemaker did not send
     the shoes. I thought he would not. The shirt-collars were much
     too small. I, however, managed to put on the shirts and am glad
     of them. At Norwich I saw Lucy, who appears to be in good
     spirits. Many people have suffered dreadfully there from the
     failure of the Bank--her brother, amongst others, has been let
     in. I shall have much to tell you when I see you. I am glad
     that the Prussians are getting on so famously. The Pope it
     seems has written a letter to the King of Prussia and is asking
     favours of him. A low old fellow!!! Remember me kindly to Miss
     H., and may God bless you! Bring this back.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

                _March 6, 1873._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I was so grieved to hear that you were unwell.
     Pray take care of yourself, and do not go out in this dreadful
     weather. Send and get, on my account, six bottles of good port
     wine. Good port may be had at the cellar at the corner of
     Charles Street, opposite the Hospital near Hereford Square--I
     think the name of the man is Kitchenham. Were I in London I
     would bring it myself. Do send for it. May God Almighty bless

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

                NORWICH, _July 12, 1873._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I shall be glad to see you and Dr. M. as soon
     as you can make it convenient to come. As for my coming up to
     London it is quite out of the question. I am suffering greatly,
     and here I am in this solitude without medicine or advice. I
     want very much to pay you up your interest. I can do so without
     the slightest inconvenience. I have money. It is well I have,
     as it seems to be almost my only friend. God bless you. Kind
     regards to Dr. M.

                GEORGE BORROW.

Here I find a letter from Mrs. MacOubrey to her stepfather:

To George Borrow, Esq.

                SOUTHGATE HOUSE, BURY ST. EDMUNDS, _Novbr. 25th, 1873._

     MY BELOVED FRIEND,--I sincerely trust that you are well, and
     received my letter which I sent about ten days ago. Miss Harvey
     is pretty well and very kind, and it really is a great pleasure
     to be here during the dark foggy month of November, the most
     disagreeable in London. I saw Miss Beevor the other day; she is
     confined to the house with rheumatism and a strain; she was so
     pleased to see me, and talked about the Images of Mildenhall.
     They now set up for the great county gentry; give very grand
     entertainments, dinners, etc., and go also to grand dinners, so
     their time is fully taken up going and receiving; they never
     scarce honour the little paltry town of Bury St. Edmunds.
     Bloomfield, the old butler, is gone to service again; he could
     not bear himself without horses, so he is gone to the Wigsons,
     near Bury, where he will have plenty of hunters to look after;
     he wished to live with Miss Harvey.

     Poor Miss Borton died about a week ago; she did not live long
     to enjoy the huge fortune her brother left. Bury seems very
     much changing its inhabitants, but there are still some nice
     people. I shall always like it while dear Miss Harvey lives;
     she is so very kind to me. It is extremely cold, but we keep
     tremendous fires, which combats it.

     I do sincerely trust, dear, that you are well. I should like
     to have a line just to say how you are. I return to London the
     6th of Decbr., not later, but you see Miss Harvey likes to keep
     me as long as she can, and I am very happy with her, but at
     that time I shall be sure to be at home. If you were going up
     to London I would leave sooner. If you want any medicine or
     anything, only let me know and you shall have it.

     Accept my most affec. love, and believe me ever, your attached

                HENRIETTA MACOUBREY.

     _P.S._--Miss Harvey desires her kind regards. May God bless

To Mrs. MacOubrey, 50 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London

                OULTON, LOWESTOFT, _April 1, 1874._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I have received your letter of the 30th March.
     Since I last wrote I have not been well. I have had a great
     pain in the left jaw which almost prevented me from eating. I
     am, however, better now. I shall be glad to see you and Dr. M.
     as soon as you can conveniently come. Send me a line to say
     when I may expect you. I have no engagements. Before you come
     call at No. 36 to inquire whether anything has been sent there.
     Leverton had better be employed to make a couple of boxes or
     cases for the books in the sacks. The sacks can be put on the
     top in the inside. There is an old coat in one of the sacks in
     the pocket of which are papers. Let it be put in with its
     contents just as it is. I wish to have the long white chest and
     the two deal boxes also brought down. Buy me a thick
     under-waistcoat like that I am now wearing, and a lighter one
     for the summer. Worsted socks are of no use--they scarcely last
     a day. Cotton ones are poor things, but they are better than
     worsted. Kind regards to Dr. M. God bless you!

     Return me this when you come.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey, 50 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London

                OULTON, _Nov. 14, 1876._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--You may buy me a large silk handkerchief,
     like the one you brought before. I shall be glad to see you and
     Dr. M. I am very unwell.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I shall be glad to see you and Dr. M. as soon
     as you can make it convenient. In a day or two the house will
     be in good repair and very comfortable. I want you to go to the
     bank and have the cheque placed to my account. Lady Day is nigh
     at hand, and it must be seen after. Buy for me a pair of those
     hollow ground razors and tell Dr. M. to bring a little
     laudanum. Come if you can on the first of March. It is dear
     Mama's birthday. God bless you! Kind regards to Dr. M.

                GEORGE BORROW.

To Mrs. MacOubrey, 50 Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London

                MRS. CHURCH'S, LADY'S LANE, NORWICH, _Feb. 28, 1877._

     DEAR HENRIETTA,--I received your letter this morning with the
     document. The other came to hand at Oulton before I left. I
     showed Mr. F. the first document on Wednesday, and he expressed
     then a doubt with regard to the necessity of an affidavit from
     me, but he said it would perhaps be necessary for him to see
     the security. I saw him again this morning and he repeated the
     same thing. To-night he is going to write up to his agent on
     the subject, and on Monday I am to know what is requisite to be
     done--therefore pray keep in readiness. On Tuesday, perhaps, I
     shall return to Oulton, but I don't know. I shall write again
     on Monday. God bless you.

                GEORGE BORROW.

Borrow died, as we have seen, in 1881, and was buried by the side of his
wife in Brompton Cemetery. By his will, dated 1st December 1880, he
bequeathed all his property to his stepdaughter, making his friend,
Elizabeth Harvey, her co-executrix. The will, a copy of which is before
me, has no public interest, but it may be noted that Miss Harvey
refused to act, as the following letter to Mrs. MacOubrey

To Mrs. MacOubrey

                BURY ST. EDMUNDS, _August 13th._

     MY DEAREST HENRIETTA,--I was just preparing to write to you
     when yours arrived together with Mrs. Reeve's despatch. You
     know how earnestly I desire your welfare--but _because_ I do so
     I earnestly advise you immediately to exercise the right you
     have of appointing another trustee in my place. I am sure it
     will be best for you. You ought to have a trustee at least
     _not_ older than yourself, and one who has health and strength
     for discharging the office. I _know_ what are the duties of a
     trustee. There's _always_ a considerable responsibility
     involved in the discharge of the duties of a trustee--and it
     may easily occur that great responsibility may be thrown on
     them, and it may become an anxious business fit only for those
     who have youth and health and strength of mind, and are likely
     to live.

     My dear friend, you do not like to realise the old age of your
     dear friends, but you must consider that I am quite past the
     age for such an office, and my invalid state often prevents my
     attending to my own small affairs. I have no relation or
     confidential friend who can act for me. My executors were Miss
     Venn and John Venn. Miss Venn departed last February to a
     better land. John is in such health with heart disease that he
     cannot move far from his home--he writes as one _ready_ and
     desiring to depart. I do not expect to see _him_ again. So you
     see, my dearest friend, I am not able to undertake this
     trusteeship, and I think the sooner you consult Mrs. Reeve as
     to the appointment of another trustee--the better it will
     be--and the more _permanent_. Had I known it was Mr. Borrow's
     intention to put down my name I should have prevented it, and
     he would have seen that an aged and invalid lady was not the
     person to carry out his wishes--for I am quite unable.

     I pray that a fit person may be induced to undertake the
     business, and that it may please God so to order all for your
     good. It is indeed the greatest mercy that your dear husband is
     well enough to afford you such help and such comfort. Pray hire
     a proper servant who will obey orders.--In haste, ever yrs.

                E. HARVEY.

Another letter that has some bearing upon Borrow's last days is worth
printing here:

To Mrs. MacOubrey

                YARMOUTH, _August 19, 1881._

     MY DEAR MRS. MACOUBREY,--I was very sorry indeed to hear of Mr.
     Borrow's death. I thought he looked older the last time I saw
     him, but with his vigorous constitution I have not thought the
     end so near. You and Mr. MacOubrey have the comfort of knowing
     that you have attended affectionately to his declining years,
     which would otherwise have been very lonely. I have been abroad
     for a short time, and this has prevented me from replying to
     your kind letter before. Pray receive the assurance of my
     sympathy, and with my kind remembrances to Mr. MacOubrey,
     believe me, yours very truly,

                R. H. INGLIS PALGRAVE.

Three years later Dr. MacOubrey died in his eighty-fourth year, and was
interred at Oulton. Mrs. MacOubrey lived for a time at Oulton and then
removed to Yarmouth. A letter that she wrote to a friend soon after the
death of her husband is perhaps some index to her character:

                OULTON COTTAGE, OULTON, NR. LOWESTOFT, _Sept. 3rd, 1884._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I beg to thank you for your kind thought of me.
     On Sunday night the 24th Augst., it pleased God to take from me
     my excellent and beloved husband--his age was nearly 84. He
     sunk simply from age and weakness. I was his nurse by night and
     by day, administering constant nourishment, but he became
     weaker and weaker, till at last 'The silver cord was loosed.'
     My dear father died about this time three years since, which
     makes the blow more stunning. I feel very lonely now in my
     secluded residence on the banks of the Broad--the music of the
     wild birds adds not to my pleasure now. Trusting that yourself
     and Mrs. S---- may long be spared.--Believe me to remain, yours
     very truly,

                HENRIETTA MACOUBREY.

The cottage at Oulton was soon afterwards pulled down, but the
summer-house where Borrow wrote a portion of his _Bible in Spain_ and
his other works remained for some years. That ultimately an entirely new
structure took its place may be seen by comparing the roof in Mrs.
MacOubrey's drawing with the illustration of the structure as it is
to-day. Mrs. MacOubrey died in 1903 at Yarmouth, and the following
inscription may be found on her tomb in Oulton Churchyard:

     Sacred to the memory of Henrietta Mary, widow of William
     MacOubrey, only daughter of Lieut. Henry Clarke, R.N., and Mary
     Skepper, his wife, and stepdaughter of George Henry Borrow,
     Esq., the celebrated author of _The Bible in Spain_, _The
     Gypsies of Spain_, _Lavengro_, _The Romany Rye_, _Wild Wales_,
     and other works and translations. Henrietta Mary MacOubrey was
     born at Oulton Hall in this Parish, May 17th, 1818, and died
     23rd December 1903. 'And He shall give His angels charge over
     thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.'--Psalm xci. 11.

The following extract from her will is of interest as indicating the
trend of a singularly kindly nature. The intimate friends of Mrs.
MacOubrey's later years, whose opinion is of more value than that of
village gossips, speak of her in terms of sincere affection:

     I give the following charitable legacies, namely, to the London
     Bible Society, in remembrance of the great interest my dear
     father, George Henry Borrow, took in the success of its great
     work for the benefit of mankind, the sum of one hundred
     pounds. To the Foreign Missionary Society the sum of one
     hundred pounds. To the London Religious Tract Society the sum
     of one hundred pounds. To the London Society for the Prevention
     of Cruelty to Animals, the sum of one hundred pounds.


[252] Henrietta's guitar is now in my possession and is a very handsome

[253] Henrietta MacOubrey put every difficulty in the way of Dr. Knapp,
and I hold many letters from her strongly denouncing his _Life_.

[254] The stories against Henrietta MacOubrey have received endorsement
from that pleasant writer Mr. W. A. Dutt, who has long lived near
Lowestoft. It is conveyed in such a communication as the following from
a correspondent: 'After Borrow's death Mr. Reeve, Curator of Norwich
Castle Museum, visited the Oulton house with the Rev. J. Gunn (died 28th
May 1890), having some idea of buying Borrow's books for the Colman
collection. Mrs. MacOubrey wanted £1000 for them, but Mr. Reeve did not
think them worth more than £200. They were, however, bought by Webber of
Ipswich, who soon afterwards entered into the employment of Jarrold of
Norwich. Mr. Reeve described the scene as one of rank dilapidation and
decay--evidences of extreme untidiness and neglect everywhere.'

[255] Mr. Herbert Jenkins has drawn a quite wrong conclusion--although
natural under the circumstances--from a letter he had seen in which
Borrow asked his wife for money. Mrs. Borrow kept the banking account.
Moreover, it is not generally known that Borrow completed the possession
of his wife's estate, including Oulton Hall farm and some cottage
property, with the money that came to him from _The Bible in Spain_.

[256] 'George Borrow Reminiscences' in _The Eastern Daily Press_, July
31, 1913.

[257] Mr. Baldrey also gives us reminiscences of Borrow's prowess as a

'It was one of the signs of his perfect health and vigour that he was a
fine swimmer. On one occasion George Jay and John Pilgrim were out for a
sail in Jay's old yacht, the _Widgeon_. Becalmed, they were drifting
somewhere down by Reedham, when suddenly Borrow said, "George, how deep
is it here?" "About twenty-two feet, sir," said George Jay. The partners
always called him "sir." "George," said Borrow, "I am going to the
bottom." Straightway he stripped, dived, and presently came up with a
handful of mud and weeds. "There, George," he said, "I've been to the
bottom," Some time in 1872 or 1873, for Borrow was then sixty-nine, my
mother and I were walking on the beach at Lowestoft, when just round the
Ness Light we met Borrow coming: towards us from the Corton side. He got
hold of my shoulder, and, pointing to the big black buoy beyond the
Ness, he said, "There! Do you see that? I have just been out there. I
have not been back many minutes." At the age of nearly seventy he had
been round the Ness Buoy and home again--a wonderful performance if, in
addition to his age, you remember the dangerous set of the currents

There is also a story, which comes to me from another quarter, of Borrow
skating upon the ice of Oulton Broad a few months before his death, and
remarking that he had not skated since he was in Russia. The following
passage from Mr. Baldrey's narrative is interesting as showing that
Borrow did not in later life quite lose sight of his birthplace:

'Apparently I interested him in some way, for twice while I was at
school at East Dereham he came over specially to take me out for the
afternoon. He had ascertained from my mother which were the school
half-holidays, and purposely chose those days so that I might be free.
We would start off at half-past twelve and return at bedtime. Where we
went I could not tell you for certain, but I know that once we went
through Scarning and once through Mattishall. What we talked about of
course I cannot recall, for I was then a boy between 13 and 15 years of
age, and I had no sort of inkling that my companion was even then a
celebrity and destined to be a still greater one in the future. But I do
remember that sometimes I could not get a word out of him for an hour or
more, and that then suddenly he would break out with all sorts of
questions. "I wonder if you can see what I can," he once remarked. "Do
you see that the gypsies have been here?" "No," I replied. "And you are
not likely to," said he. And then he would tell me no more. He was
rather prone to arouse one's curiosity and refuse to pursue the subject.
I do not mean that he was morose. Far from it. He was always very kind
to me. After I had left school and returned to Norwich he frequently
called for me and took me out with him. Once or twice I went with him to

[258] One of them is entitled _The Present Crisis: The True Cause of Our
Indian Troubles_, by William MacOubrey of the Middle Temple. There are
also countless pamphlets in manuscript. MacOubrey was an enthusiastic
and indeed truculent upholder of the Act of Union.

[259] The farm referred to was Oulton Hall farm, often referred to as
Oulton Hall.

[260] Another letter from Miss Harvey, dated 1st August, is one of
sympathy, and there are passages in it that may well be taken to heart
when it is considered that Miss Harvey was the most intimate friend of
Borrow and his stepdaughter:

                'BURY, _August 1st, 1881._

'DEAREST FRIEND,--Though I cannot be with you in your trouble I am
continually thinking of you, and praying that all needful help and
comfort may be sent to you _as_ you need and _how_ you need it. I have
no means of hearing any particulars, and am most anxious to know how you
do, and how you have got through the last painful week. Whenever you
feel able write me a few words, I await them with much anxiety. When you
are able to realise the _reality_ of his eternal gain--you will feel
that all is well. A _great_ spirit, a great and noble spirit, has passed
from the earth, his earthly tabernacle is taken down to be raised
again--glorious and immortal, a fitting abode for a spirit of the just
_made perfect_. How wonderful are those words, "made perfect." We are
even now part of that grand assembly where they dwell. "We are come to
the general assembly and church of the first born which are written in
heaven. To God the judge of all, to Jesus the Mediator, to an
innumerable company of angels, etc., to the _spirits of the just made
perfect_." Let us realise our communion with them even now, and _soon_
to meet them on the Resurrection Morn--when they who sleep in Jesus will
God _bring_ with Him ... and so we shall be ever with the Lord.

Ever with the Lord, Amen, so let it be, Life from the dead is in that
word, 'Tis immortality.

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, their _works_ do follow
them. Your beloved father's work in Spain will follow _him_. His efforts
to spread the word of God in that benighted land, ever has and ever will
bring forth blessed fruits. Dearest Henrietta, be comforted, you have
been a most devoted daughter to him, and latterly his greatest earthly
comfort; your dear husband also; and together you have tended him to the
last. He now rests in peace. All the sufferings of mind and body are
over for ever. You will have much earthly business on your hands. I pray
that you may be directed in all things by true wisdom. The time is
short, we must set our houses in order, that we may not be unnecessarily
burdened with earthly cares. Having food and raiment, let us be
therewith content.

'Let us be without carefulness, and so quietly and piously spend the
remnant of our days--ever growing in the knowledge of Christ, and
finding in _Him_ all our comfort and all our joy, and when our own time
of departure shall arrive may we be _ready_ and able to say, "I have a
_desire_ to depart and be with Christ, which is _far better_." The path
of the just is as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the
_perfect day_. May our path be so lighted up--until the day break and
the shadows flee away. Dearest friend, do write soon. I am so anxious to
hear how Dr. MacOubrey is.--Your most affect. friend,

               E. HARVEY.



'We are all Borrovians now.'--AUGUSTINE BIRRELL.

It is a curious fact that of only two men of distinction in English
letters in these later years can it be said that they lived to a good
old age and yet failed of recognition for work that is imperishable.
Many poets have died young--Shelley and Keats for example--to whom this
public recognition was refused in their lifetime. But given the
happiness of reaching middle age, this recognition has never failed. It
came, for example, to Wordsworth and Coleridge long after their best
work was done. It came with more promptness to all the great Victorian
novelists. This recognition did not come in their lifetime to two
Suffolk friends, Edward FitzGerald with _Omar Khayyám_ and George Borrow
with _Lavengro_. In the case of FitzGerald there was probably no
consciousness that he had produced a great poem. In any case his sunny
Irish temperament could easily have surmounted disappointment if he had
expected anything from the world in the way of literary fame. Borrow was
quite differently made. He was as intense an egoist as Rousseau, whose
work he had probably never read, and would not have appreciated if he
had read. He longed for the recognition of the multitude through his
books, and thoroughly enjoyed it when it was given to him for a
moment--for his _Bible in Spain_. Such appreciation as he received in
his lifetime was given to him for that book and for no other. There were
here and there enthusiasts for his _Lavengro_ and _Romany Rye_. Dr.
Jessopp has told us that he was one. But it was not until long after his
death that the word 'Borrovian'[261] came into the language. Not a
single great author among his contemporaries praised him for his
_Lavengro_, the book for which we most esteem him to-day. His name is
not mentioned by Carlyle or Tennyson or Ruskin in all their voluminous
works. Among the novelists also he is of no account. Dickens and
Thackeray and George Eliot knew him not. Charlotte Brontë does indeed
write of him with enthusiasm,[262] but she is alone among the great
Victorian authors in this particular. Borrow's _Lavengro_ received no
commendation from contemporary writers of the first rank. He died in his
seventy-eighth year an obscure recluse whose works were all but
forgotten. Since that year, 1881, his fame has been continually growing.
His greatest work, _Lavengro_, has been reprinted with introductions by
many able critics;[263] notable essayists have proclaimed his worth. Of
these Mr. Watts-Dunton and Mr. Augustine Birrell have been the most
assiduous. The efforts of the former have already been noted. Mr.
Birrell has expressed his devotion in more than one essay.[264]
Referring to a casual reference by Robert Louis Stevenson to _The Bible
in Spain_,[265] in which R. L. S. speaks well of that book, Mr. Birrell,
not without irony, says:

     It is interesting to know this, interesting, that is, to the
     great Clan Stevenson, who owe suit and service to their liege
     lord; but so far as Borrow is concerned, it does not matter, to
     speak frankly, two straws. The author of _Lavengro_, _The
     Romany Rye_, _The Bible in Spain_, and _Wild Wales_ is one of
     those kings of literature who never need to number their tribe.
     His personality will always secure him an attendant company,
     who, when he pipes, must dance.

This is to sum up the situation to perfection. You cannot force people
to become readers of Borrow by argument, by criticism, or by the force
of authority. You reach the stage of admiration and even love by effects
which rise remote from all questions of style or taste. To say, as does
a recent critic, that 'there is something in Borrow after all; not so
much as most people suppose, but still a great deal,'[266] is to miss
the compelling power of his best books as they strike those with whom
they are among the finest things in literature.[267] In attempting to
interest new readers in the man--and this book is not for the sect
called Borrovians, to whom I recommend the earlier biographies, but for
a wider public which knows not Borrow--I hope I shall succeed in sending
many to those incomparable works, which have given me so many pleasant


[261] A word that is very misleading, as no writer was ever so little
the founder of a school.

[262] Although this fact was not known until 1908 when I published _The
Brontës: Life and Letters_. See vol. ii. p. 24, where Charlotte Brontë
writes: 'In George Borrow's works I found a wild fascination, a vivid
graphic power of description, a fresh originality, an athletic
simplicity, which give them a stamp of their own.'

[263] Theodore Watts-Dunton, Augustine Birrell, Francis Hindes Groome,
and Thomas Seccombe. Lionel Johnson's essay on Borrow is the more
valuable in its enthusiasm in that it was written by a Roman Catholic.
Writing in the _Outlook_ (April 1, 1899) he said:

'What the four books mean and are to their lovers is upon this sort.
Written by a man of intense personality, irresistible in his hold upon
your attention, they take you far afield from weary cares and business
into the enamouring airs of the open world, and into days when the
countryside was uncontaminated by the vulgar conventions which form the
worst side of "civilised" life in cities. They give you the sense of
emancipation, of manumission into the liberty of the winding road and
fragrant forest, into the freshness of an ancient country-life, into a
_milieu_ where men are not copies of each other. And you fall in with
strange scenes of adventure, great or small, of which a strange man is
the centre as he is the scribe; and from a description of a lonely glen
you are plunged into a dissertation upon difficult old tongues, and from
dejection into laughter, and from gypsydom into journalism, and
everything is equally delightful, and nothing that the strange man shows
you can come amiss. And you will hardly make up your mind whether he is
most Don Quixote, or Rousseau, or Luther, or Defoe; but you will always
love these books by a brave man who travelled in far lands, travelled
far in his own land, travelled the way of life for close upon eighty
years, and died in perfect solitude. And this will be the least you can
say, though he would not have you say it--_Requiescat in pace Viator_.'

[264] In _Res Judicatæ_ 1892 (a paper reprinted from _The Reflector_,
Jan. 8, 1888), in his Introduction to _Lavengro_ (Macmillan, 1900), in
an essay entitled 'The Office of literature,' in the second series of
_Obiter Dicta_, and in an address at Norwich; on July 5, 1913, reprinted
in full in the _Eastern Daily Press_ of July 7, 1913.

[265] There are but three references to Borrow in Stevenson's writings,
all of them perfunctory. These are in _Memories and Portraits_ ('A
Gossip on a novel of Dumas''), in _Familiar Studies of Men and Books_
('Some aspects of Robert Burns'), and in _The Ideal House_.

[266] _The Spectator_, July 12, 1913.

[267] On July 6, 1913, Dr. H. C. Beeching, Dean of Norwich, preached a
sermon on Borrow in Norwich Cathedral, which in its graceful literary
enthusiasm may be counted the culminating point of recognition of Borrow
so far, when the place is considered. The sermon has been published by
Jarrold and Sons of Norwich.



Aikin, Dr., quarrels with Phillips, 90.

---- Lucy, 90;
  on Mrs. John Taylor, 64;
  on William Taylor, 66.

Ainsworth, Harrison, _Lavengro_ criticised by, 278.

_Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain_, by Bowring, 140.

André, Major, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

_Annals of the Harford Family_, reference to Borrow in, 245.

_Apologia pro Vita Sua_, by J. H. Newman, 345.

Arden, F., 111.

_Athenæum, The_, founding of, 90;
  Hasfeld's letter on Russian literature and Borrow in, 165-166;
  friendly review of _The Zincali_ in, 227;
  publishes letters from Borrow, 240;
  severely criticises _Lavengro_, 278, 347
    and _Romany Rye,_ 347;
  reminiscences of Borrow contributed to, 315-316;
  contemptuous notice of _Romano Lavo-Lil_ in, 361;
  obituary of Borrow in, 391.

Austin, John, 64.

---- Sarah, 55.

_Autobiographical Recollections of Sir John Bowring_, 139.

_Autobiography of Harriet Martineau_, quoted, 65.


Baldrey, S. H., reminiscences of the Borrows published by, 416-420.

Barbauld, Mrs., 67, 90.

Barclay, Mrs. Florence, addresses Bible Society meeting, 183-184.

_Bards of the Gael and Gaul_, by Dr. Sigerson;
  editions published of, 408.

Baretti, Joseph, witnesses at trial of, 114.

Barron, James, on Borrow's itinerary in Scotland, 330, 331.

Bathurst, Bishop, 57, 110.

Beeching, Dr., 184;
  graceful recognition of Borrow in sermon of, 437.

Belcher, pugilist, 130, 131.

Bell, Catherine, 55.

_Benjamin Robert Haydon; Correspondence and Table Talk_,
  by F. W. Haydon, 25.

Benson, A. C., verses on 'My Poet,' 312.

Best, Mr. Justice, his 'Great Mind,' 123.

_Bible in Spain, The_, 180, 201, 202, 289;
  much sheer invention in, 136, 313;
  quoted, 182-183, 210, 238-239;
  episode of the blind girl, 192;
  brings fame to Borrow, 227, 243-244;
  the title of, 237-238;
  criticisms of Mr. Murray's reader on copy of--number of copies
    sold--referred to in House of Commons, 243;
  reviews of, 243, 250, 278;
  how written, 279;
  Gladstone's admiration of, 313, 397;
  Cowell's opinion of, 356.

Birrell, Augustine, 237, 238;
  story told by, 128;
  introduction to _Lavengro_ by, 435, 436.

_Blackwood's Magazine_, condemns _Lavengro_, 278.

Borrow, Ann, mother of Borrow 2, 6, 10, 139, 219;
  life in Norwich of, 12-17, 71;
  correspondence of, 17, 33-35, 188, 193-196, 220;
  death--inscription on tomb of, 314.

Borrow, Elizabeth, 293.

---- George Henry, biographical drafts and family history of, 1-7;
  wandering childhood of, 36-53;
  schooldays and schoolfellows at Norwich of, 71-78;
  struggles and failure in London, 96-102;
  Celtic ancestry of, 364;
  characteristics of, 14, 15, 161, 285, 312-313, 316-317, 350, 361,
    393, 405-412, 434;
  agent for Bible Society, 159, 191;
  facsimile of an account of the Society with, 190;
  work for the Society in
    --Portugal, 184-185
    --Russia, 162-178
    --Spain, 179-214;
  imprisonments of, 134, 191, 198, 222;
  correspondence of, with
    --Bowring, 142-151
    --Brackenbury, 198-200
    --Ford, 250-259
    --Haydon, 25
    --Jerningham, 198
    --Henrietta MacOubrey, 421-428
    --publishers of _Faustus_, 108
    --Secretary at War, 28-32
    --his wife, 223-225, 261-268, 272-273, 319, 325-335, 340;
  Darwin asks information from, 317-318;
  handwriting of, 275;
  fails to become a magistrate, 214, 313-314;
  feeling of, as regards people and language of Ireland, 50, 296-297;
  friends of later years, 389-400;
  life of, in London, 379-388
    --in Oulton Broad and Yarmouth, 304-320;
  attainments of, as a linguist, 3, 4, 51, 68, 138-139, 412;
  advertisement of, as a Professor of Languages, 409;
  his ignorance of philology, 357;
  literary tastes of, 2, 11, 38, 135, 344-346, 390;
  literary methods of, 240-243, 285;
  attitude towards literary men of, 317, 347, 393;
  marriage of, 3, 198-199, 220-223, 225;
  personal appearance of, 226, 260-261, 293, 309-311, 316-317, 339, 385,
  physical vigour of, 383, 419-420;
  political sympathies of, 181;
  existing portraits of, 382;
  pugilistic tastes of, 126-132;
  on a phase of folklore, 235-236;
  on theory of Jewish origin of the Gypsies, 308-309;
  on Spiritualism, 386;
  translations by, 82, 133-137, 187, 247, 404-405;
  travels in
    --Austria-Hungary, 261-268
    --Greece and Italy, 272-273
    --Ireland, 339-340
    --Portugal, 184-185
    --Russia, 162-178
    --Scotland, 321-330
    --Spain, 179-214
    --Wales, 364-366, 374-378;
  unfounded reports as to neglect of, when dying, 414-415;
  unrecognised genius and growing fame of, 312-313, 435-436;
  Yarmouth rescue episode, 290-293.

Borrow, Henry, 293.

---- John, grandfather of George Henry, 3-5.

---- John Thomas, 4, 6, 49, 50;
  Captain Borrow's love of, 8, 19;
  described in _Lavengro_, 18-19;
  pictures by, 21;
  career and death of, 19-35.

---- Mary, 218, 219, 222, 277, 278;
  correspondence with
    --Ann Borrow, 365-366
    --G. H. Borrow, 157-158, 246, 261-274, 294, 374-376, 379-382
    --Clarke, 216-217
    --Hake, 394-396;
  epitaph written for, by Borrow, 215;
  family history of, 214-217;
  housekeeping genius of, 415;
  marriage of, 157-158, 225;
  unpublished works of, 295;
  death of, 383, 387.

---- Captain Thomas, 19, 20, 36, 49, 87, 293;
  descent of, 2-5;
  military career of, 5-7;
  references to, in _Lavengro_, 8-11;
  prejudiced against the Irish, 50, 52;
  pensioned off, 70;
  his fight with Big Ben Brain, 126, 129.

---- William, 293.

Bowring, Sir John, collaboration with Borrow, 136;
  correspondence of, with Borrow, 142-152, 184-186, 235, 401-402;
  described by Borrow, 141-142;
  Borrow's misunderstanding with, 290;
  Borrow's relations with, 138-152.

Boyd, Robert, 249.

Brace, Charles L., 264.

Brackenbury, Mr., letter from, to Borrow, 198-200.

Brain, Big Ben, supposed fight between Captain Borrow and, 8, 9, 10;
  career of, 129, 130.

Brandram, Rev. Mr., 159;
  correspondence of, with Borrow, 171-173, 180-182, 189-192, 221-222;
  letter from, to Mrs. Borrow, 188;
  reproduction of portion of Borrow's letter to, 187.

Brightwell, Cecilia, letter from, to Mary Borrow, 16.

British and Foreign Bible Society, aided by the Gurneys, 62;
  Borrow's connection with, 3, 133, 153-196;
  growth and procedure of, 155-157;
  sanctioned in Russia by the Czar, 156-157;
  number of bibles issued in Spain for three years up to 1913, 184;
  work of, in Spain, 182-200;
  facsimile of an account with Borrow of the, 190;
  breezy controversy between Borrow and the, 191.

Brodripp, A. A., 90.

Brontë, Charlotte, writes of Borrow with enthusiasm, 435.

_Brontës, The_, by Clement Shorter, quoted, 435.

Brooke, Rajah, 17, 71, 72.

Brown, Rev. Arthur, 40, 41.

Browne, Sir Thomas, 54.

Browning, Robert, 114.

Buchini, Antonio, Borrow's attendant in Spain, 189.

Bunsens, the invitation given to Borrow by, 245.

Bunyan, what Borrow owed to, 346.

Burcham, Thomas, 81;
  letter from, to _The Britannia_ on _Lavengro_, 17.

Burke, Edmund, 114.

_Bury Post, The_, account in, of lifesaving by Borrow at Yarmouth, 290.

Buxton, Sir T. F., 56.

---- Lady, 56, 58.


Cagliostro, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Caius, John, 71.

Campbell, Thomas, 82, 111.

Cannon, Sergeant, 5.

Canton, William, 156.

Carlyle, Thomas, 154, 163;
  point of similitude between Borrow and, 377;
  on Edward FitzGerald, 351;
  prejudiced against Scott, 67, 108.

_Celebrated Trials_, Borrow's first piece of hack-work, 97;
  payment made to Borrow for, 113;
  distinguishing feature of, 114;
  dramatic episodes in, 114-116.

_Celtic Bards_, unpublished work of Borrow, 294, 404;
  merits of, 408.

_Chiefs and Kings_, unpublished work of Borrow, 404;
  merits of, 408.

_Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_, picture by Haydon, 24.

Clarendon, Earl of, 289;
  befriends Borrow in Spain, 140, 186;
  career of, and services to Borrow, 210-214;
  facsimile of letter to Borrow from, 211.

Clarke, Lieutenant Henry, 216, 219.

---- Dr. Samuel, 71.

Cobbe, Frances Power, 344;
  her opinion of Borrow, 154;
  her story of Borrow and James Martineau, 77;
  unkindly glimpses of Borrow given by--her character and works, 383-385;
  Borrow's rudeness to, 388.

Cobham, Lord, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Cockburn, Lord, on David Haggart, 46.

Coke, Lord Chief Justice, 71.

Collins, Mortimer, his appreciation of _Wild Wales_, 372-373;
  works of, 373.

Collinson, Robert, 383.

Combe, George, phrenological observations of, regarding David Haggart, 46.

Cooke, Robert, 361.

_Cornhill Magazine, The_, reviews _Wild Wales_ unfavourably, 367.

'Corporation Feast, The,' plate of, borrowed for _Life and Death of
  Faustus_, 103.

Cowell, Professor E. C., friendship of, with FitzGerald, 354-355;
  describes interview with Borrow, 355-357.

Cowper, poet, Borrow's devotion to, 2, 38.

Cozens-Hardy, A., 309.

Crabbe, Mrs., 419.

---- George, FitzGerald's letter to, 360.

Cribb, pugilist, 130, 131.

Croft, Sir Herbert, 115.

Crome, John, 21, 22, 56, 70.

Cunningham, Mrs., 56.

---- Allan, writes introduction in verse to _Romantic Ballads_; correspondence
    with Borrow, 107;
  encourages Borrow, 108-109.

Cunningham, Rev. Francis,
  befriends Borrow with the Bible Society, 56, 62, 156, 158;
  his praise of Borrow, 179, 218.

---- Rev. John W., 156, 217.


_Dairyman's Daughter, The_, extraordinary vogue of, 97;
  Borrow's failure to appreciate, 155.

Dalrymple, Arthur, on schooldays of Borrow, 73-74;
  on Borrow and his wife, 225;
  ridicules story of lifesaving by Borrow at Yarmouth, 291.

---- John, joins Borrow in a schoolboy escapade, 73, 75.

Darwin, Charles, facsimile of letter from, asking for information,
  regarding the dogs of Spain, from Borrow, 317-318.

_Death of Balder, The_, translation by Borrow, 142, 295;
  issued by Jarrold, 404.

_Deceived Merman, The_, versions by Borrow and Matthew Arnold
  compared, 109-110.

Defoe, Daniel, Borrow's master in literature, 40, 135, 346.

Denniss, Rev. E. P., acrid correspondence between Borrow and, 313.

D'Eterville, Thomas, Borrow's teacher, 72-73.

Diaz, Maria, Borrow's tribute to, 201.

Dickens, Charles, 345.

_Dictionary of National Biography_, article on Borrow in, 392.

Donne, W. B., letters to Borrow, 347, 361-362;
  awards high praise to _Romany Rye_ and _Lavengro_, 347-348.

Drake, William, description of Borrow by, 80.

Duff-Gordon, Lady A., 64.

Dumpling Green, birthplace of Borrow, 1, 2, 37.

Dutt, W. A., on Borrow and James Martineau, 75-76;
  on state of Oulton house after Borrow's death, 414.


East Dereham, described in _Lavengro_, 1, 38.

_Eastern Daily Press, The_, 'George Borrow Reminiscences' published
    in, 416-420;
  Miss Harvey's letter on Borrow in, 309-311.

Eastlake, Lady, her description of Borrow, 260-261.

Edinburgh, childhood of Borrow in, 45-49.

_Edinburgh Review_, reviews Borrow's works, 227.

Egan, Pierce, 121.

Elwin, Rev. Whitwell, his estimate of _Lavengro_, 281, 283;
  his interview with, and impressions of, Borrow, 284-285;
  letters to Borrow from, 286-287;
  reviews _Romany Rye_ in _Quarterly Review_, 347;
  writes obituary of Borrow in _Athenæum_, 391.

Enghien, Duc d', trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

_English Gypsies, The_, by Charles G. Leland, 233.

_Essays Critical and Historical_, by J. H. Newman, quoted, 345.

_Examiner, The_, at one time only paper read by Borrow, 402.

_Excursions along the Shores of the Mediterranean_, attractive glimpse of
  Borrow in, 202-207.


Fauntleroy, Henry, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 114-115.

_Faustus_, translated by Borrow, 101-106, 112, 139, 140;
  burned by libraries of Norwich, 105;
  criticisms on, 106.

Fell, Ralph, compiles memoirs of Phillips, 88.

Fenn, Lady, commemorated by Cowper, and in _Lavengro_--books for
  children by, 38.

---- Sir John, author of Paston Letters, 38.

Fielding, what Borrow owed to, 346.

Fig, James, 128.

Findlater, Jane H., on the title of _The Bible in Spain_, 238.

FitzGerald, Edward, parallel between Borrow and,--works of, 350-351;
  character and gifts of, 351;
  marriage of, 352;
  letters to Borrow, 351-355, 359-362;
  criticises Borrow's expressions, 360.

_Footprints of George Borrow_, by A. G. Jayne, 202.

Ford, Richard, 227, 289;
  family history and fortune of, 248-249;
  anti-democratic outlook of, 249;
  his tribute to Borrow--reviews _The Bible in Spain_, 250;
  correspondence with the Borrows, 133, 250-259;
  odd sentence referring to Borrow, in a letter of, 254;
  advice given to Borrow by, 148, 276;
  his ideas about _Lavengro_, 277;
  on _The Zincali_, 228, 229;
  his work, 133, 255, 257, 258.

---- Sir Richard, creator of mounted police force of London, 248.

Fox, Caroline, 159.

Francis, John Collins, 400.

_Frazer's Magazine_, _Lavengro_ condemned by, 278.

_French Prisoners of Norman Cross, The_, by Rev. Arthur Brown, 40.

Fry, Elizabeth, 65-66;
  connection of, with Bible Society, 155;
  the courtship of, 56-57.


Garrick, David, 114.

'George Borrow Reminiscences,' by S. H. Baldrey, quoted, 416-420.

_George Borrow's Letters to the Bible Society_, 162-163.

_George Borrow; The Man and his Work_, account of Borrow's Cornish journey
  in, 294.

Gibson, Robin, 47.

Gifford, William, 99;
  letter from, to Borrow, criticising a friend's play, 410-412.

Gill, Rev. W., letter to Borrow from, 301.

Gypsies, language of, studied by Borrow, 3, 4;
  Borrow's description of Hungarian, 265.

Gladstone, W. E., his admiration of _The Bible in Spain_, 313.

Glen, William, Borrow's friendship with, 162-163.

Gould, J. C., 85.

Graydon, Lieutenant, a rival of Borrow in Spain, 189;
  Borrow's attack upon, 191.

Groome, Archdeacon, his memories of Borrow's schooldays, 80.

---- F. H., gipsy scholar, 43;
  writes introduction to _Lavengro_, 435;
  reviews _Romano Lavo-Lil_, 232, 233-234;
  works of, 234.

Grundtvig, Mr., Borrow's translations for, 147, 149.

Gully, John, career of, 131.

Gunn, Rev. J., 414.

Gurdons, the, subscribe to Borrow's 'Romantic Ballads,' 110.

Gurney, Miss Anna, letter from, to Mrs. Borrow, 240-241;
  Borrow cross-examined in Arabic by, 316.

---- Daniel, 58.

---- John, 55-56.

---- Joseph John, connection of with great bank, 56-58;
  and with Bible Society, 155;
  his praise of Borrow, 179.

Gurneys, the, at Norwich, 55-62;
  subscribe to Borrow's 'Romantic Ballads,' 110.

_Gurneys of Earlham, The_, by A. J. C. Hare, quoted, 56.

_Gypsies of Spain, The._ See _Zincali, The_.


Hackman, Parson, trial of, in Borrow's volumes, 115.

Haggart, David, 20;
  story of, 45-48;
  trial and execution of--verses written by, 49.

Hake, Egmont, article of, in _Dictionary of National Biography_, on
     Borrow, 392;
  his reminiscence of Borrow, 397.

---- Dr. T. G., 74, 291;
  on _Lavengro_, 278, 389, 390-391;
  his intimacy with Borrow, 389-397;
  relations of, with the Rossetti family, 389;
  asperities of, when speaking of Borrow, 391, 392, 393;
  memoir of, in the _Athenæum_, 391.

Hamilton, Duke of, 129.

_Handbook for Travellers in Spain_, by Richard Ford, 133;
  Borrow's blundering review of, 255, 257;
  Maxwell's praise of, 258.

Hare, Augustus J. C., 56.

Hares, the, 110.

Harper, Lieutenant, 32.

Harvey, Miss Elizabeth, her impressions of Borrow, 309-312;
  letters to Mrs. MacOubrey from, 429-431.

Harveys, the, 110.

Hasfeld, John P., 244, 289;
  Borrow's correspondence with, 163-168;
  high praise of _Targum_ by, 408.

Hawkes, Robert, 25, 111;
  painting of, 23-24.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, suggestion of, as to gypsy descent of
  Borrow, 6, 12, 13.

Haydon, Benjamin, 111;
  career of, 24-27;
  correspondence of, with Borrow, 25, 135-136.

Hayim Ben Attar, Moorish servant of Borrow, 197, 222;
  Borrow's precautions in repatriating, 306-309.

Hazlitt, William, on prize-fighting, 126-127.

Heenan, pugilist, 128.

Herne, Sanspirella, second wife of Ambrose Smith, 42-43.

Hester, George P., writes to Borrow on possible connection between Sclaves
  and Saxons, 348-349.

Highland Society, the, Borrow's proposal to, 136-137.

Hill, Mary, 48.

_Historic Survey of German Poetry_, by William Taylor, 68.

_History of the British and Foreign Bible Society_, by William Canton, 156.

Hooper, James, letter from Professor Cowell to, 355-357.

Howell, _State Trials_ of, 112, 113.

Howitt, Mary, her appreciation of _Wild Wales_, 369.

Hudson, pugilist, 130.

_Hungary in 1851_, glimpse of Borrow in, 264.

Hunt, Joseph, trial and execution of, 121-123.

Hyde, Dr. Douglas, Irish scholar, 51;
  success of _Love Songs of Connaught_ by, 408.


_Ida of Athens_, judgment of Phillips on, 93.

_Illustrated London News, The_, 94;
  Borrow's contribution to, on Runic stone, 301-303.

Image, W. E., last survivor of Borrow's schoolfellows, 77.

_In Gipsy Tents_, by F. H. Groome, 43.

Ireland, Borrow's early years in, 49-53;
  his feelings as regards people and language of, 296-297.

_Iris, The_, editing of, 67.


Jackson, John, pugilist, 127.

_Jane Eyre_, cruelly reviewed by Lady Eastlake, 260.

Jay, Elizabeth, on happy married life of the Borrows, 225.

---- George, Borrow on yacht of, 419-420.

Jenkins, Mr. Herbert, 136, 148, 378, 387, 415.

Jerningham, Sir George, letter from, to Borrow, 198;
  Borrow's complaints to, 212.

Jessopp, Dr., on Borrow as a pupil at the Grammar School, 72;
  his admiration of Borrow, 314-315.

Joan of Arc, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Johnson, publisher, his offers for _The Wild Irish Girl_, 92.

---- Catharine B., 361.

---- Dr. Samuel, 114;
  on Ireland and Irish Literature, 51;
  his kindness for pugilists, 127.

---- Tom, his fight with Brain, 129.

---- Lionel, his essay on Borrow, 435.

Jones, Ellen, on Borrow's pronunciation of Welsh, 378.

_Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society_, 41, 44.

Jowett, Rev. Joseph, Secretary of the Bible Society, 62;
  correspondence of, with Borrow, 162, 170-171, 175.

_Judgment of Solomon_, painting by John Borrow, 21.


_Kæmpe Viser_, translation by Borrow, 143-144.

Keate, Dr., 174.

Kerrison, Alladay, 84;
  invites John Borrow to join him in Mexico, 27.

---- Roger, 84, 101;
  Borrow's correspondence with, 85, 153.

---- Thomas, 84.

Kett, Robert, 54.

_Kings and Earls_, unpublished work of Borrow, 404;
  merits of, 408.

Kingsley, Charles, 345.

King, Thomas, owner of the Borrow house in Willow Lane--descent of,
  from Archbishop Parker, 16-17.

---- ---- junior, career of--marries sister of J. S. Mill,--Burcham's
  allusion to, 16-17.

---- Tom, conqueror of Heenan, 128.

Klinger, F. M. von, responsible for Borrow's first book--works of, 104.

Knapp, Dr., _Life of Borrow_ by, 5 and _passim_;
  purchases half the Borrow papers, 241.


Lambert, Daniel, gaoler of Phillips, 89.

Lamplighter, racehorse, Borrow's desire to see, 316.

Lang, Andrew, his onslaught on Borrow, 391.

Laurie, Sir Robert, 17.

_Lavengro_, appreciations of, 228-230, 278, 389, 391;
  autobiographical nature of, 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 52, 58-62, 81, 83-84,
    96-97, 279, 285-286, 379;
  copies of, sold, 279, 287-288;
  criticisms and reviews of, 278-279, 281, 347;
  Donne on some reviewers of, 361-362;
  facsimile of first manuscript page of, 282;
  greatness of, unrecognised in Borrow's lifetime, 312-313;
  original manuscript title-page of, 280;
  preparation of manuscript of, 276-277, 397;
  Thurtell referred to in, 116-117.

_Leicester Herald_ started by Phillips, 88-89.

Leland, Charles Godfrey, correspondence of, with Borrow, 230-232;
  his books--tribute to Borrow, 233.

_Letters from Egypt_, by Lady A. Duff-Gordon, 64.

_Letters from George Borrow to the Bible Society_, 159, 162, 163, 169;
  valuable information in, 180-181;
  interesting facts revealed in, 241-242;
  quoted, 174, 175.

_Letters of Richard Ford_, 248, 249;
  Borrow's mistake in reviewing, 255.

_Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell_, Borrow's story of the writing
  of, 102.

_Life of Borrow_, by Dr. Knapp, 5, 6, 8, and _passim_;
  glimpse of Ann Perfrement's girlhood in, 13;
  gruesome picture of circumstances of Borrow's death--strongly denounced
    by Henrietta MacOubrey, 414.

_Life of B. R. Haydon_, by Tom Taylor, 24, 25.

_Life of David Haggart_, by himself, 46.

_Life of Frances Power Cobbe as told by Herself_, glimpses of Borrow
  in, 383-384.

_Life of George Borrow_, by Herbert Jenkins, 387, and _passim_;
  valuable information in, 180-181;
  quoted, 261, 378.

_Life of Howard_, 90.

_Life of Sir James Mackintosh_, quoted, 64-65.

_Lights on Borrow_, by Rev. A. Jessopp, D.D., quoted, 72.

Lipóftsof, worker for Bible Society, 169, 173.

_Literary Gazette, The_, reviews of Borrow's works in, 106, 227.

Lloyd, Miss M. C., 383.

Lofft, Capell, 90.

Lopez, Eduardo, 202.

---- Juan, Borrow's tribute to, 201-202.

_Love Songs of Connaught_, by Dr. Hyde, success of, 408.


Macaulay, Zachary, connection of, with Bible Society, 155.

MacColl, Mr., 392.

Mace, Jem, 128.

Mackay, William, his impressions of Borrow related by, 316-317.

MacOubrey, Dr., 335, 414, 415;
  status and accomplishments of, 420;
  pamphlets issued by, 421;
  illness and death of, 431-432.

MacOubrey, Henrietta, 155, 195, 216, 363, and _passim_;
  on Borrow, 81;
  Borrow's tribute to, in _Wild Wales_--her devotion to Borrow, 413;
  unfounded stories of her neglect of Borrow, 414-416;
  correspondence of, 421-431;
  death of--inscription on tomb of, 432;
  charitable bequests of, 431-432.

Man, Isle of, Borrow's expedition to, 296-303;
  his investigations into the Manx language, 298-299;
  the Runic stone, 300-303.

Marie Antoinette, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Martelli, C. F., his memories of Borrow, 86.

Martineau, David, 63.

---- Dr. James, on supposed gypsy descent of Borrow, 12-13;
  impressions of, as schoolfellow of Borrow, 62, 71, 74-77.

---- Gaston, 63.

---- Harriet, 63;
  on Borrow's connection with the Bible Society, 153-154.

Matthew, Father, 66.

Mavor, Dr., school-books issued by, 94.

Maxwell, Sir W. S., praises Ford's book, 258;
  criticises _Lavengro_, 278.

Meadows, Margaret, 63.

---- Sarah, 63.

_Memoir of the Life and Writings of William Taylor of Norwich, A_, by J. W.
Robbards, 66.

_Memoirs of Fifty Years_, by T. G. Hake, 166, 390.

_Memoirs of John Venning_, 160.

_Memoirs of Lady Morgan_, quoted, 62.

_Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of Sir Richard Phillips_, 88.

_Memoirs of Vidocq_, translated by Borrow, 136.

Mendizábal, Borrow's interview with, 186, 214.

_Men of the Time_, biographical drafts drawn up by Borrow for, 3-5.

Meyer, Dr. Kuno, Irish scholar, 51;
  work of, in Irish literature, 408.

Mezzofanti, 209.

Miles, H. D., his defence of prize-fighting, 127.

Mill, John Stuart, Thomas King marries sister of, 16-17.

Mitford, Miss, 25.

Moira, Lord, 89.

Mol, Benedict, 202, 239.

Montague, Basil, his reference to Mrs. John Taylor, 64-65.

_Monthly Magazine, The_, 67, 69, 90, 113;
  Borrow's work on, 97.

Moore, Thomas, 91.

_More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands_, visit to gypsy
  encampment described in, 43.

Morgan, Lady, works of, published by Phillips, 91-93.

Morrin, killed by David Haggart, 48.

Morris, Lewis, Welsh bard, 371.

---- Sir Lewis, letter to Borrow, 371-372.

Mousehold Heath, historical and artistic associations of, 42, 54.

Mousha, introduces Borrow to Taylor, 83;
  figures in _Lavengro_, 83-84.

Murray, John, publishes _The Zincali_, 226-227;
  Borrow's relations with, 342-343;
  correspondence of Borrow with, 313, 342-343.

---- Hon. R. D., 200.

Murtagh, Irish friend of Borrow--figures in _Lavengro_, 49-52.

_Museum, The_, 89.


Nantes, Edict of, Borrow's ancestors driven from France by Revocation
  of, 4, 12, 63.

Napier, Admiral Sir C., 202.

---- Col. E., 138;
  interesting account of Borrow by, 202-207.

Nelson, Lord, a pupil of Norwich Grammar School, 71.

_Newgate Calendar_, edited by Borrow, 5, 112, 113.

_Newgate Lives and Trials_, Borrow's work on, 100.

Newman, Cardinal, influenced towards Roman Catholicism by Scott, 345.

_New Monthly Magazine, The_, 126.

New Testament, edited by Borrow in Manchu and Spanish, 3.

Ney, Marshal, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Nicholas, Thomas, 293.

Norfolk, Duke of, 89.

Norman Cross, French prisoners at, 7, 45;
  Borrow's memories of, 40-45.

_Northern Skalds_, unpublished work of Borrow, 404;
  merits of, 408.

Norwich, 54, 86;
  Borrow's description of, 82-83;
  satirised by Borrow, 103.

_Novice, The_, favourite book of William Pitt, 91-92.


O'Connell, Daniel, Borrow's desire to see, 316.

Oliver, Tom, pugilist, 131.

_Once a Week_, Borrow contributes to, 387.

Opie, Mrs., 56.

_Oracle, The_, quoted, 129.

Orford, Col. Lord, 27, 31;
  Ann Borrow's letter to, 33-34.

_Outlook, The_, Lionel Johnson on Borrow in, quoted, 435-436.

Overend and Gurney, banking firm, 57-58.

Owen, Goronwy, Borrow's favourite Welsh bard, 377-378, 407.

Owenson, Sydney. _See_ Morgan, Lady.


Pahlin, 209.

Painter, Edward, pugilist, 131.

Palgrave, Sir Francis, letter to Borrow from, 108.

---- R. H. I., letters to Mrs. MacOubrey from, 431.

Palmer, Professor E. H., gypsy scholar, 232.

Park, Mr. Justice, 123.

Parker, Archbishop., pupil at Norwich Grammar School, 71.

---- Archbishop (temp. Queen Elizabeth) descent of Thomas King from, 16.

Paterson, John, work of, for Bible Society in Russia, 156.

Pennell, Mrs. Elizabeth Robins, her biography of Leland, quoted, 230-231.

Perfrement, Mary, grandmother of Borrow, 2, 13.

---- Samuel, grandfather of Borrow, 2, 12-13.

_Personal and Family Glimpses of Remarkable People_, by E. W. Whately,
  quoted, 385.

_Peter Schlemihl_, translated by Bowring, 141.

Petrie, George, correspondence of Borrow with, 336-338.

Phillips, Lady, 90.

---- H. W., portrait of Borrow by, 382.

---- Sir Richard, 27, 69, 100;
  early days of, 87-88;
  imprisonment of, 88-89;
  knighted, 94;
  books published by, 90-95;
  relations of, with Borrow, 96-100.

_Phrenological Observations, etc._, by George Combe, 46.

Picts, the, Borrow on, 336-337.

Pilgrim, John, Borrow's visits to, 417-420.

Pinkerton, literary hack, 88.

Pischel, Professor Richard, criticises Borrow's etymologies, 344.

Playfair, Dr., 387.

Pope, influence of, on Borrow, 407.

Pott, Dr. A. F., gypsy scholar, 232, 233.

_Prayer Book and Homily Society_, Borrow's correspondence with, 176-177.

Prize-fighting, Borrow's taste for, 11, 82, 126-132.

Probert, witness against Thurtell, 121.

Prothero, Rowland E., 248, 249.

Purcell, pugilist, 130-131.

Purland, Francis, companion of Borrow in schoolboy escapade, 73-75.

---- Theodosius, 73-75.

Pushkin, Alexander, Russian poet, translated by Borrow, 178.


_Quarterly Review, The_,
  review of _Lavengro_ in, 281;
  of _Romany Rye_ in, 347.


Rackham, Tom, 79.

Rackhams, the, 110.

_Raising of Lazarus_, picture by Haydon, 24.

Randall, pugilist, 130.

Reay, Martha, murdered by Hackman, 115.

'Recollections of George Borrow,' by A. Egmont Hake in _Athenæum_,
  quoted, 397.

Reeve, Mr., on scene in Oulton house after Borrow's death, 414.

---- Henry, 64.

_Res Judicatæ_, by Augustine Birrell, 436.

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 114.

Richmond, pugilist, 130.

---- Legh, connection of, with Bible Society, 155.

_Rights of Man_, Phillips charged with selling, 89.

Robbards, J. W., writes memoir of William Taylor, 65-66.

Robertson, George, 47.

_Romance of Bookselling_, by Mumby, 87.

_Romano Lavo-Lil,_ manuscript of, 295;
  published by Murray, 404;
  reviews of, 232, 233, 234, 361.

_Romantic Ballads_, translation from the Danish by Borrow, 106-111, 112,
  139, 140.

_Romany Rye, The_, 4, 125, 141-142, 305;
  appreciations of, 228-230, 234-235, 349, 354, 391;
  autobiographical nature of, 279-280, 285-286;
  Borrow embittered by failure of, 347;
  characters in, 343;
  defects of Appendix, 344-345;
  facsimile of page of manuscript of, 346;
  identification of localities of, 343-344;
  philological criticism of, 344;
  preparation of manuscript of, 341;
  quoted, 189;
  reviews of, 347, 349.

Ross, Janet, 64.

Rowe, Quartermaster, 17.

_Rubáiyát,_ Fitzgerald's paraphrase, 350;
  quoted in original and translated, 353-354;
  Tennyson's eulogy of, 358.

Rye, Walter, 119.


St. Petersburg, Borrow in, 162-178.

Sampson, John, eminent gypsy expert--extraordinary suggestion, of,
    regarding Borrow, 343;
  criticises Borrow's etymologies, 344.

Sam the Jew, pugilist, 130.

Samuel, A. M., Lord Mayor of Norwich--presents Borrow house to Norwich, 16.

Sayers, Dr., 64.

---- Tom, pugilist, 130.

Scott, Sir Walter, 68;
  Borrow's prejudice against, 19, 108, 344;
  influence of, on J. H. Newman, 345;
  Taylor's influence on, 66;
  interest of, in Thurtell's trial, 121;
  writings of, admired by Borrow, 344.

Scroggins, pugilist, 130.

Seccombe, Thomas, introduction to _Lavengro_ by, 125, 435.

_Servian Popular Poetry_, by Bowring, 140.

Sharp, Granville, connection with Bible Society of, 155.

Shaw, G. B., his kindness for the pugilist, 127.

Shelton, pugilist, 130.

Sidney, Algernon, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Sigerson, Dr., Irish scholar, 51;
  success of _Bards of the Gael and Gaul_, by, 408.

Simeon, Charles, connection with Bible Society of, 155.

Simpson, William, Borrow articled to, 79-81;
  described by Borrow, 80-81.

Skepper, Anne, 157, 215, 216, 219.

---- Breame, 156, 157, 219.

---- Edmund, 215, 219.

---- Edward, 157.

_Sleeping Bard, The_, translation by Borrow, 137;
  his mistakes in, 357;
  refused by publishers, 322, 402, 404, 406, 408, 410;
  printed at his own expense, 322.

Smiles, Samuel, on publication of _The Zincali_, 226-227.

Smith, Ambrose, the Jasper Petulengro of _Lavengro_, 41-45.

---- F[=a]den, 42.

---- Thomas, 44.

_Songs from Scandinavia_, translation by Borrow, 136;
  prospectus of, 145;
  future publication of, 406-407;
  page of manuscript of, 411.

_Songs of Europe_, metrical translation by Borrow, 294, 404.

_Songs of Scotland_, by Allan Cunningham, Borrow's appreciation of, 109.

Southey, Robert, affection of, for William Taylor, 66;
  on death of Taylor, 69.

Spalding, Frederick, 351.

_Spectator, The_, point of view of criticism of Borrow of, 437;
  reviews _Wild Wales_, 367.

_Sphere, The_, article on Borrow and Martineau in, 75-76.

_State Trials_, 112-113.

Stephen, Sir J. Fitzjames, 217.

---- Sir Leslie, 99.

Stevenson, R. L., perfunctory references to Borrow in writings of, 436.

Stoddard, Mr., Burcham's reference to, 17.

Story, A. T., reminiscences of Borrow by, 385-387.

Struensee, Count, trial of, included in Borrow's volumes, 113.

Stuart, Mrs. James, 73.

Suffolk, Duke of, 64.

Summers, William, 184.

Swan, Rev. William, 169.


_Talisman, The_, translation by Borrow, 178.

_Targum_, translation by Borrow, 3, 297;
  high praise of, 165-166, 177, 178, 408;
  facsimile of a poem from, 403.

Taylor, Anne, describes Borrow's appearance, 293.

---- Baron, Borrow's meeting with, 210.

---- Dr. John, 63.

---- John, 63.

---- Mrs. John, 55;
  Basil Montague on, 64-65.

---- Richard, 63.

---- Robert, 293.

---- Tom, author of _Life of B. R. Haydon_, 24, 25.

---- William, 55, 70;
  dialogue in _Lavengro_ between Borrow and, 8-9, 83-84;
  gives Borrow lessons in German, 81-82;
  gives Borrow introductions to Phillips and Campbell, 84;
  his love of paradox, 75;
  influence of, on Borrow, 65;
  Harriet Martineau on, 65-66;
  his friends and literary work, 66-69;
  correspondence with Southey, 67-68;
  his testimony to Borrow's knowledge of German, 101.

Taylors, the, at Norwich, 55, 63-69.

Tennyson on enthusiasm for Lycidas, 278;
  his eulogy of FitzGerald's translation of the _Rubáiyát_, 358.

Thackeray, W. M., Borrow's attitude towards, 347, 393;
  on Edward FitzGerald, 351;
  Hake's severe reference to, 393.

_Theodore Watts-Dunton: Poet, Novelist, Critic,_ by James Douglas,
  quoted, 394.

Thompson, T. W., article of, on Jasper Petulengro, 44.

---- W. H., 357.

_Three Generations of Englishwomen_, by Janet Ross, 64.

Thurtell, Alderman, 120, 125.

---- John, 82, 111;
  trial of--glimpses of, in Borrow's books, 116-125;
  great authors who have commented on crime of, 118.

Timbs, John, 111;
  stories told by, 94, 95.

Tom of Bedford, pugilist, 131.

Treve, Captain, 17.

_Turkish Jester, The_, by Borrow, 295;
  issued by Webber, 404.

Turner, Dawson, 243, 279.

---- Ned, pugilist, 130.

_Twelve Essays on the Phenomena of Nature_, Phillips anxious to produce in a
  German dress, 96.

_Twelve Essays on the Proximate Causes_, Borrow unable to translate into
  German--published in German, 99.


_Universal Review, The_, 99;
  Borrow's work on, 97.

Upcher, A. W., contributes reminiscences of Borrow to the _Athenæum_, 316.

Usóz y Rio, Don Luis de, letters from, to Borrow, 207-209.


Valpy, Rev. E., Borrow's schoolmaster--story of Borrow being flogged by,

Venning, John, work of, in Russia--befriends Borrow, 160-161.

Victoria, Queen, visits gypsy encampment, 43.

Vidocq, 261;
  memoirs of, translated by Borrow, 136.


_Wahrheit und Dichtung_, opening lines of, compared with those of
  _Lavengro_, 1.

_Walks and Talks about London_, 94;
  story told of Phillips in, 95.

Walling, R. A. J., biography of Borrow by, 294-295.

Walpole, Horace, on Mr. Fenn, 39.

Wanton, S. W., letter to Borrow from, 299-300.

Waterfield, Mrs., 64.

Watts-Dunton, Theodore, criticism of Borrow's work, 347, 392;
  description of personal appearance of Borrow, 397-398;
  friendship with Borrow, 317;
  on intimacy between Borrow and Hake, 389-391;
  introduction to _Lavengro_ by, 435, 436;
  on Borrow's loyalty in friendship, 312;
  on poetic gifts of Borrow, 406;
  reminiscences of Borrow, 398-400;
  sonnet written by, 400.

Weare pamphlets, 120-121.

---- William, murder of, 121, 122.

Webber, Borrow's books bought by, 414.

_Westminster Review_, 140.

Whately, Archdeacon, description of Borrow by, 385.

Whewell, Dr., 285.

Wilberforce, William, connection of, with Bible Society, 155.

Wilcock, Rev. J., his impressions of Borrow, 338-339.

_Wild Irish Girl, The_, the publication of, 91, 92.

_Wild Wales_, 4, 6, 221, 383, 413;
  appreciations of, 356, 360, 369, 372-373;
  comparative failure of, 367, 373;
  comparison of, with Borrow's three other great works, 376-377;
  facsimiles of two pages from Borrow's pocket-books, and of title-page
    of manuscript, 365, 368;
  high spirits of, 378;
  Lope de Vega's ghost-story referred to in, 369;
  reviews of, 367;
  time taken to write, 366.

_Wilhelm Meister_, quoted, 154.

_William Bodham Donne and his Friends,_ Borrow described in, 361.

Williams, Lieutenant, 32.

---- J. Evan, letter from Borrow to, on similarity of some Sclavonian and
  Welsh words, 369-371.

Wolcot, Dr., 90.

Woodhouses, the, 111.

Wordsworth, Borrow's estimate of, 346-347.

Wormius, Olaus, 82.

Wright, Dr. Aldis, 357, 363.


_Young Cottager, The_, by Legh Richmond, extraordinary vogue of, 97.


_Zincali, The_, work by Borrow, 3, 4, 42, 118;
  reference to Borrow's travels in, 135;
  criticisms of, 227-229;
  number of copies of, sold, 244;
  editions of, issued, 226-227.

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translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.