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Title: Letters to his mother, Ann Borrow - and Other Correspondents
Author: Borrow, George Henry, 1803-1881
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

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Transcribed from the 1913 Thomas J. Wise pamphlet by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Many thanks to Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library,
UK, for kindly supplying the images from which this transcription was

                              TO HIS MOTHER
                                ANN BORROW
                         AND OTHER CORRESPONDENTS

                              GEORGE BORROW


               _Copyright in the United States of America_
           _by Houghton_, _Mifflin & Co. for Clement Shorter_.



                                       [_Post-mark February_ 9_th_, 1838.]


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.

Letter II.
_To_ A Correspondent.

                                                    _August_ 11_th_, 1843.


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 promise
that it is only an opinion; in hunting for the etymons of these fairy
names we can scarcely expect to arrive at any thing like certainty.

I suppose you are aware that the name of Bilenger, or Billinger, is of
occasional though by no means frequent occurrence both in England and
France.  You have heard of Billings-gate, and of Billing-ham, the
unfortunate assassin of poor Percival.  Likewise of Billing-ton, all
modifications of the same root: Belingart, Bilings-home or Billing-ston.
But what is Billin_ger_?  Clearly that which is connected some way or
other with Billing.  You will find _ger_, or something like it, in most
European tongues—Boulan_ger_, horolo_ger_, tal_ker_ wal_ker_, ba_ker_,
bre_wer_, beg_gar_.  In Welsh it is of frequent occurrence in the shape
of _ur_ or _gwr_—hin_ur_ (an elder), her_wr_ (a prow_ler_); in Russian
the ger, gwr, ur, er, appears in the shape of _ik_ or _k_—Sapojgn_ik_, a
shoemaker, Chinobu_ik_, a man possessed of rank.  The root of all these,
as well as of _or_ in Senator, victor, etc., is the same as _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, connected with which
are to whirl, to fling, and possibly Walloon and Fleming.

Belenger 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 motion.

Allow me to draw your attention to the word “Will” in the English word
“Will of 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; 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.

                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]


                                                 _September_ 16_th_, 1844.


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 piasters 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

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 on 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.


                                                  _February_ 2_nd_, [1846]


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, &c.—a good part of the way by the Thames.  There
has been much wet weather.  Oxford is a wonderful place.  Kiss Hen, and
God bless you!

                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]


                                                          TUNBRIDGE WELLS,
                                                        _Tuesday evening_.


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 upstairs 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.]


                                                      _Tuesday afternoon_,


I just write you a line to tell you that I am tolerably well, as I hope
you are.

Everything 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 80.  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.


                                                            53A PALL MALL.


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 today, Thursday.  W. called
upon me today.

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 M. would give me the money.  I hope you got
my last letter.  I received yours, and C. has just sent the two copies of
L. you wrote for, and I believe some engravings of the picture.  I shall
wish to return it 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 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.

                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]

Love to Mother and Hen.


                                                             58 JERMYN ST,
                                                               ST. JAMES’,


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.  I 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 tomorrow I shall write again.  Kiss Hen, and God bless you.

                                                                     G. B.


                                                             58 JERMYN ST,
                                                               ST. JAMES’,


I was glad to receive your letter, I had expected one on Tuesday.  I am
upon 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 been invited
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 Murray’s, there was a family party—very
pleasant.  To-morrow I dine with an old schoolfellow.  Murray is talking
of printing a new edition {25} to sell for 5 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 intended 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 27_s._!  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 editions out of the Colonies,
which is something.

I have nothing more to say, save to commend you not to go on the water
without _I_; perhaps you would be overset; and do not go to the bridge
again, ’till I come.  Take care of Habismilk and Craffs.  Kiss the little
mare, and old Hen.

                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]


                                                   _January_ 27_th_, 1854.


I just write you a line to inform you that I have got back safe 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 Tredinnock 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.)


                                                         _Monday Morning_,


I am just going to start for Ludlow, 18 miles, and hope to be at
Shrewsbury on Tuesday night, if not on Wednesday morning.  God bless you
and Hen,

                                                                J. BORROW.

When I get back I shall have walked more than 400 miles.


                                                            53A PALL MALL,


I arrived here at about five o’clock this morning.  Since 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 I was obliged to get them new soled and
welted.  I walked every inch of the way.

I have seen wonderful mountains, waterfalls, and people.  On the side of
the Black Mountains I met a cartload of real 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 M. and C.

                                                            God bless you,
                                                            GEORGE BORROW.

(_Keep this_)


                                                              SOUTH WALES.
                                                    _August_ 17_th_, 1857.


I write to you a few words from this place; tomorrow 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.


                                                 _September_ 29_th_, 1858.


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
cheaply 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 goodnight.  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.

                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]


                                                      _April_ 1_st_, 1874.


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. MacOubrey 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 enquire 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 the one 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. MacOubrey.
                                                            God bless you!
                                                          [GEORGE BORROW.]

Return me this when you come.

                                * * * * *

               Printed for THOMAS J. WISE, Hampstead, N.W.
                   _Edition limited to Thirty Copies_.


{25}  Of _The Bible in Spain_.

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