George Borrow - The Man and His Books
by Edward Thomas
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Borrow could not resist this man's plain living and plain thinking, or his sentences that are like acts—like blows or strides. And if he had needed any encouragement in the expression of prejudices, Cobbett offered it. The following, from "Cottage Economy," will serve as an example. It is from a chapter on "Brewing":—

"The practice of tea drinking must render the frame feeble and unfit to encounter hard labour or severe weather, while, as I have shown, it deducts from the means of replenishing the belly and covering the back. Hence succeeds a softness, an effeminacy, a seeking for the fireside, a lurking in the bed, and, in short, all the characteristics of idleness for which, in his case, real want of strength furnishes an apology. The tea drinking fills the public-house, makes the frequenting of it habitual, corrupts boys as soon as they are able to move from home, and does little less for the girls, to whom the gossip of the teatable is no bad preparatory school for the brothel. At the very least, it teaches them idleness. The everlasting dawdling about with the slops of the tea- tackle gives them a relish for nothing that requires strength and activity. When they go from home, they know how to do nothing that is useful, to brew, to bake, to make butter, to milk, to rear poultry; to do any earthly thing of use they are wholly unqualified. To shut poor young creatures up in manufactories is bad enough; but there at any rate they do something that is useful; whereas the girl that has been brought up merely to boil the teakettle, and to assist in the gossip inseparable from the practice, is a mere consumer of food, a pest to her employer, and a curse to her husband, if any man be so unfortunate as to fix his affections upon her.

"But is it in the power of any man, any good labourer who has attained the age of fifty, to look back upon the last thirty years of his life, without cursing the day in which tea was introduced into England? Where is there such a man who cannot trace to this cause a very considerable part of all the mortifications and sufferings of his life? When was he ever too late at his labour; when did he ever meet with a frown, with a turning off and with pauperism on that account, without being able to trace it to the teakettle? When reproached with lagging in the morning, the poor wretch tells you that he will make up for it by working during his breakfast time! I have heard this a hundred and a hundred times over. He was up time enough; but the teakettle kept him lolling and lounging at home; and now instead of sitting down to a breakfast upon bread, bacon and beer, which is to carry him on to the hour of dinner, he has to force his limbs along under the sweat of feebleness, and at dinner- time to swallow his dry bread, or slake his half-feverish thirst at the pump or the brook. To the wretched teakettle he has to return at night with legs hardly sufficient to maintain him; and then he makes his miserable progress towards that death which he finds ten or fifteen years sooner than he would have found it had he made his wife brew beer instead of making tea. If he now and then gladdens his heart with the drugs of the public-house, some quarrel, some accident, some illness is the probable consequence; to the affray abroad succeeds an affray at home; the mischievous example reaches the children, cramps them or scatters them, and misery for life is the consequence." As Cobbett wrote against tea so was Borrow to write against the Pope.

Being a reading and a writing man who had set down all his most substantial adventures in earlier books, Borrow, says Mr. Thomas Seccombe, had no choice but "to interpret autobiography as 'autobiographiction.'" {50} Parts of the autobiography, he says, are "as accurate and veracious as John Wesley's 'Journal,' but the way in which the dingle ingredients" [in the stories of Isopel Berners, the postillion, and the Man in Black] "are mingled, and the extent to which lies—damned lies—or facts predominate, will always be a fascinating topic for literary conjecture." It must not be forgotten, however, that Borrow never called the published book his autobiography. He did something like what I believe young writers often do; he described events in his own life with modifications for the purpose of concealment in some cases and of embellishment in others. If he had never labelled it an autobiography there would have been no mystery, and the conclusion of readers would be that most of it could not have been invented, but that the postillion's story, for example, is a short story written to embody some facts and some opinions, without any appearance of being the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If Borrow made a set of letters to the Bible Society into a book like "Gil Blas," he could hardly do less—especially when he had been reminded of the fact—with his remoter adventures; and having taken out dates and names of persons and places he felt free. He produced his view of himself, as De Quincey did in his "Confessions of an English Opium Eater." This view was modified by his public reputation, by his too potent memory and the need for selection, by his artistic sense, and by his literary training. So far from suffering by the two elements, if they are to be separated, of fiction and autobiography, "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye" gain immensely. The autobiographical form—the use of the first person singular—is no mere device to attract an interest and belief as in "Captain Singleton" and a thousand novels. Again and again we are made perfectly certain that the man could not have written otherwise. He is sounding his own depths, and out of mere shyness, at times, uses the transparent amateur trick of pretending that he was writing of someone else. Years afterwards, when Mr. Watts-Dunton asked him, "What is the real nature of autobiography?" he answered in questions: "Is it a mere record of the incidents of a man's life? or is it a picture of the man himself—his character, his soul?"


"Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye" give Borrow's character and soul by direct and indirect means. Their truth and fiction produce a consistent picture which we feel to be true. Dr. Knapp has shown, where the facts are accessible, that Borrow does not much neglect, mislay or pervert them. But neither Dr. Knapp nor anyone else has captured facts which would be of any significance had Borrow told us nothing himself. Some of the anecdotes lap a branch here and there; some disclose a little rotten wood or fungus; others show the might of a great limb, perhaps a knotty protuberance with a grotesque likeness, or the height of the whole; others again are like clumsy arrogant initials carved on the venerable bark. I shall use some of them, but for the most part I shall use Borrow's own brush both to portray and to correct.


The five works of Borrow's maturity—from "The Zincali: or the Gypsies of Spain," written when he had turned thirty, to "Wild Wales," written when he had turned fifty—have this in common, and perhaps for their chief quality, that of set purpose and by inevitable accident they reveal Borrow, the body and the spirit of the man. Together they compose a portrait, if not a small gallery of portraits. Of these the most deliberate is the one that emerges from "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye." In these books, written after he had passed forty, he described the first twenty-two years of his life, without, so far as is known, using any notebooks or other contemporary documents. As I have said before, the literal accuracy of such a description must have been limited by his power and his willingness to see things as they were. In some ways there is no greater stranger to the youth of twenty than the man of forty who was once that youth, and if he overcomes that strangeness it is often by the perilous process of concealing the strangeness and the difference. The result is—or is it an individual misfortune of mine?—that the figure of "Lavengro" seems to me, more often than not, and on the whole, to be nearer the age of forty than of twenty. The artist, that is to say, dominates his subject, the tall overgrown youth of twenty-two, as grey as a badger. It is very different in "The Bible in Spain," where artist and subject are equally matched, and both mature. In "Lavengro" there is a roundabout method, a painful poring subtlety and minuteness, a marvellous combination of Sterne and Defoe, resulting in something very little like any book written by either man: in "The Bible in Spain" a straightforward, confident, unqualified revelation that seems almost unconsidered.


And now for some raw bones of the life of a man who was born in 1803 and died in 1881, bones picked white and dry by the winds of thirty, forty, fifty, and a hundred years.

Thomas Borrow, his father, an eighth and youngest son, was born in 1758 of a yeoman family long and still settled in Cornwall, near Liskeard. He worked for some time on his brother's farm. At nineteen he joined the Militia and was apprenticed to a maltster, but, having knocked his master down in a free fight at Menheniot Fair in 1783, disappeared and enlisted as a private in the Coldstream Guards. He was then a man of fresh complexion and light brown hair, just under five feet eight inches in height. He was a sergeant when he was transferred nine years later to the West Norfolk Regiment of Militia. In 1798 he was promoted to the office of adjutant with the rank of captain. In 1793 he had married Ann Perfrement, a tenant farmer's daughter from East Dereham, and probably of French Protestant descent, whom he had first met when she was playing a minor part as an amateur at East Dereham with a company from the Theatre Royal at Norwich. She had, says Borrow, dark brilliant eyes, oval face, olive complexion, and Grecian forehead.

The first child of this marriage, John Thomas, was born in 1800. Borrow describes this elder brother as a beautiful child of "rosy, angelic face, blue eyes and light chestnut hair," yet of "not exactly an Anglo-Saxon countenance," having something of "the Celtic character, particularly in the fire and vivacity which illumined it." John was his father's favourite. He entered the army and became a lieutenant, but also, and especially after the end of the war, a painter, studying under B. R. Haydon and old Crome. He went out to Mexico in the service of a mining company in 1826, and died there in 1834.

George Borrow was born in 1803 at another station of the regiment, East Dereham. He calls himself a gloomy child, a "lover of nooks and retired corners . . . sitting for hours together with my head on my breast . . . conscious of a peculiar heaviness within me, and at times of a strange sensation of fear, which occasionally amounted to horror, and for which I could assign no real cause whatever." A maidservant thought him a little wrong in the head, but a Jew pedlar rebuked her for saying so, and said the child had "all the look of one of our people's children," and praised his bright eyes. With the regiment he travelled along the Sussex and Kent coast during the next four years. They were at Pett in 1806, and there he tells us that he first handled a viper, fearless and unharmed. In 1806 also they were at Hythe, where he saw the skulls of the Danes. They were at Canterbury in 1807, and near there was the scene of his eating the "green, red, and purple" berries from the hedge and suffering convulsions. They were, says Dr. Knapp, from the regimental records, never at Winchester, but at Winchelsea. In 1809 and 1810 they were back at Dereham, which was then the home of Eleanor Fenn, his "Lady Bountiful," widow of the editor of the "Paston Letters," Sir John Fenn. He had "increased rapidly in size and in strength," but not in mind, and could read only imperfectly until "Robinson Crusoe" drew him out. He went to church twice on Sundays, and never heard God's name without a tremor, "for I now knew that God was an awful and inscrutable being, the maker of all things; that we were His children, and that we, by our sins, had justly offended Him; that we were in very great peril from His anger, not so much in this life as in another and far stranger state of being yet to come; that we had a Saviour withal to whom it was necessary to look for help: upon this point, however, I was yet very much in the dark, as, indeed, were most of those with whom I was connected. The power and terrors of God were uppermost in my thoughts; they fascinated though they astounded me."

{picture: Borrow's birth-place, East Dereham, Norfolk. Photo: H. T. Cave, East Dereham: page57.jpg}

Later in 1810 he was at Norman Cross, in Huntingdonshire, and was free to wander alone by Whittlesea Mere. There he met the old viper-hunter and herbalist, into whose mouth he puts the tale of the King of the Vipers. There he met the Gypsies. He answered their threats with a viper that had lain hid in his breast; they called him "Sapengro, a chap who catches snakes and plays tricks with them." He was sworn brother to Jasper, the son, who despised him for being puny.

The Borrows were at Dereham again in 1811, and George went to school "for the acquisition of Latin," and learnt the whole of Lilly's Grammar by heart. Other marches of the regiment left him time to wonder at that "stupendous erection, the aqueduct at Stockport"—to visit Durham and "a capital old inn" there, where he had "a capital dinner off roast Durham beef, and a capital glass of ale, which I believe was the cause of my being ever after fond of ale"—so he told the Durham miner whom he met on his way to the Devil's Bridge, in Cardiganshire—and to attend school at Huddersfield in 1812 and at Edinburgh in 1813 and 1814.

He mentions the frequent fights at the High School and the pitched battles between the Old and the New Town. Climbing the Castle Rock was his favourite diversion, and on one "horrible edge" he came upon David Haggart sitting and thinking of William Wallace:

"And why were ye thinking of him?" Borrow says that he asked the lad. "The English hanged him long since, as I have heard say."

"I was thinking," he answered, "that I should wish to be like him."

"Do ye mean," Borrow says that he said, "that ye would wish to be hanged?"

This youth was a drummer boy in Captain Borrow's regiment. Borrow describes him upsetting the New Town champion in one of the bickers. Seven years later he was condemned to death at Edinburgh, and to earn a little money for his mother he dictated an account of his life to the prison chaplain before he died. It was published in 1821 with the title: "The Life of David Haggart, alias John Wilson, alias John Morison, alias Barney M'Coul, alias John M'Colgan, alias David O'Brien, alias the Switcher. Written by himself, while under sentence of death." It is worth reading, notable in itself and for its style.

He was a gamekeeper's son, and being a merry boy was liberally tipped by sportsmen. Yet he ran away from home at the age of ten. One of his first exploits was the stealing of a bantam cock. It belonged to a woman at the back of the New Town of Edinburgh, says he, and he took a great fancy to it, "for it was a real beauty and I offered to buy, but mistress would not sell, so I got another cock, and set the two a fighting, and then off with my prize." This is like Mr. W. B. Yeats' Paddy Cockfight in "Where there is nothing"; he got a fighting cock from a man below Mullingar—"The first day I saw him I fastened my eyes on him, he preyed on my mind, and next night if I didn't go back every foot of nine miles to put him in my bag." When he was twelve he got drunk at the Leith races and enlisted in the Norfolk Militia, which had a recruiting party for patriots at the races. "I learned," he says, "to beat the drum very well in the course of three months, and afterwards made considerable progress in blowing the bugle-horn. I liked the red coat and the soldiering well enough for a while, but soon tired. We were too much confined, and there was too little pay for me;" and so he got his discharge. "The restraining influences of military discipline," says Dr. Knapp, "gradually wore away." He went back to school even, but in vain. He was "never happier in his life" than when he "fingered all this money"— 200 pounds acquired by theft. He worked at his trade of thieving in many parts of Scotland and Ireland. As early as 1818 he was sentenced to death, but escaped, and, being recognised by a policeman, killed him and got clear away. He served one or two sentences and escaped from another. He escaped a third time, with a friend, after hitting the gaoler in such a manner that he afterwards died. The friend was caught at once, but David ran well—"never did a fox double the hounds in better style"—and got away in woman's clothes. As he was resting in a haystack after his run of ten miles in an hour, he heard a woman ask "if that lad was taken that had broken out of Dumfries Gaol," and the answer: "No; but the gaoler died last night at ten o'clock." He got arrested in Ireland through sheer carelessness, was recognised and taken in irons to Dumfries again—and so he died.

In 1814 and 1815 Borrow was for a time at the Grammar School at Norwich, but sailed with the regiment "in the autumn of the year 1815" for Ireland. "On the eighth day of our voyage," he says, "we were in sight of Ireland. The weather was now calm and serene, the sun shone brightly on the sea and on certain green hills in the distance, on which I descried what at first sight I believed to be two ladies gathering flowers, which, however, on our near approach, proved to be two tall white towers, doubtless built for some purpose or other, though I did not learn for what." He was at "the Protestant Academy" at Clonmel, and "read the Latin tongue and the Greek letters with a nice old clergyman." From a schoolfellow he learnt something of the Irish tongue in exchange for a pack of cards.

School, he says, had helped him to cast aside, in a great degree, his unsocial habits and natural reserve, and when he moved to Templemore, where there was no school, he roamed about the wild country, "sometimes entering the cabins of the peasantry with a 'God's blessing upon you good people!'" Here, as in Scotland, he seems to have done as he liked. His father had other things to do than look after the child whom he was later on to upbraid for growing up in a displeasing way. Ireland made a strong impression upon the boy, if we may judge from his writing about it when he looked back on those days. He recalls, in "Wild Wales," hearing the glorious tune of "Croppies lie Down" in the barrack yard at Clonmel. Again and again he recalls Murtagh, the wild Irish boy who taught him Irish for a pack of cards. In Ireland he learnt to be "a frank rider" without a saddle, and had awakened in him his "passion for the equine race": and here he had his cob shoed by a "fairy smith" who first roused the animal to a frenzy by uttering a strange word "in a sharp pungent tone," and then calmed it by another word "in a voice singularly modified but sweet and almost plaintive." Above all there is a mystery which might easily be called Celtic about his memories of Ireland, due chiefly to something in his own blood, but also to the Irish atmosphere which evoked that something in its perfection.

After less than a year in Ireland the regiment was back at Norwich, and war being at an end, the men were mustered out in 1815.

{picture: Borrow's Court, Norwich. Photo: Jarrold & Sons, Norwich: page61.jpg}


The Borrows now settled at Norwich in what was then King's Court and is now Borrow's Court, off Willow Lane. George Borrow, therefore, again attended the Grammar School of Norwich. He could then, he says, read Greek. His father's dissatisfaction was apparently due to some instinctive antipathy for the child, who had neither his hair nor his eyes, but was "absolutely swarthy, God forgive me! I had almost said like that of a Gypsy." As in Scotland and Ireland, so now at Norwich, Captain Borrow probably let the boy do what he liked. As for Mrs. Borrow, perhaps she favoured the boy, who took after her in eyes and complexion, if not also in temperament. Her influence was of an unconscious kind, strengthening her prenatal influence; unlike her husband, she had no doubt that "Providence" would take care of the boy. Borrow, at least, thought her like himself. In a suppressed portion of the twentieth chapter of "Lavengo" he makes his parents talk together in the garden, and the mother having a story to tell suggests their going in because it is growing dark. The father says that a tale of terror is the better for being told in the dark, and hopes she is not afraid. The mother scoffs at the mention of fear, and yet, she says, she feels a thrill as if something were casting a cold shadow on her. She wonders if this feeling is like the indescribable fear, "which he calls the shadow," which sometimes attacks her younger child. "Never mind the child or his shadow," says the father, and bids her go on. And from what follows the mother has evidently told the story before to her son. This dialogue may very well express the contrast between husband and wife and their attitudes towards their younger son. Borrow very eloquently addresses his father as "a noble specimen of those strong single-minded Englishmen, who, without making a parade either of religion or loyalty, feared God and honoured their king, and were not particularly friendly to the French," and as a pugilist who almost vanquished the famous Ben Bryan; but he does not conceal the fact that he was "so little to thee that thou understoodst me not."

At Norwich Grammar School Borrow had as schoolfellows James Martineau and James Brooke, afterwards Rajah of Sarawak. The headmaster was one Edward Valpy, who thrashed Borrow, and there is nothing more to be said. The boy was fond of study but not of school. "For want of something better to do," he taught himself some French and Italian, but wished he had a master. A master was found in a French emigre, the Rev. Thomas D'Eterville, who gave private lessons to Borrow, among others, in French, Italian and Spanish. His other teachers were an old musket with which he shot bullfinches, blackbirds and linnets, a fishing rod with which he haunted the Yare, and the sporting gent, John Thurtell, who taught him to box and accustomed him to pugilism.

Something is known of Thurtell apart from Borrow. He was the son of a man who was afterwards Mayor of Norwich. He had been a soldier and he was now in business. He arranged prize fights and boxed himself. He afterwards murdered a man who had dishonestly relieved him of 400 pounds at gambling, and he was executed for the offence at Hertford in 1824. The trial was celebrated. It was there that a "respectable" man was defined by a witness as one who "kept a gig." The trial was included in the "Celebrated Trials and Remarkable Cases of Criminal Jurisprudence" which Borrow compiled in 1825; and Borrow may have written this description of the accused:

"Thurtell was dressed in a plum-coloured frock coat, with a drab waistcoat and gilt buttons, and white corded breeches. His neck had a black stock on, which fitted as usual stiffly up to the bottom of the cheek and end of the chin, and which therefore pushed forward the flesh on this part of the face so as to give an additionally sullen weight to the countenance. The lower part of the face was unusually large, muscular and heavy, and appeared to hang like a load to the head, and to make it drop like the mastiff's jowl. The upper lip was long and large, and the mouth had a severe and dogged appearance. His nose was rather small for such a face, but it was not badly shaped; his eyes, too, were small and buried deep under his protruding forehead, so indeed as to defy detection of their colour. The forehead was extremely strong, bony and knotted—and the eyebrows were forcibly marked though irregular—that over the right eye being nearly straight and that on the left turning up to a point so as to give a very painful expression to the whole face. His hair was of a good lightish brown, and not worn after any fashion. His frame was exceedingly well knit and athletic."

An eye witness reports that seven hours before his execution, Thurtell said: "It is perhaps wrong in my situation, but I own I should like to read Pierce Egan's account of the great fight yesterday" (meaning that between Spring and Langan). He slept well through his last night, and said: "I have dreamt many odd things, but I never dreamt anything about this business since I have been in Hertford." Pierce Egan described the trial and execution, and how Thurtell bowed in a friendly and dignified manner to someone—"we believe, Mr. Pierce Egan"—in the crowd about the gallows. Pierce Egan did not mention the sound of his cracking neck, but Borrow is reported to have said it was a shame to hang such a man as Thurtell: "Why, when his neck broke it went off like a pistol."

Thurtell is the second of Borrow's friends who preceded him in fame.

During his school days under Valpy, Borrow met his sworn brother again—the Gypsy Petulengro. He places this meeting at the Tombland Fair at Norwich, and Dr. Knapp fixes it, precisely, on March 19, 1818. According to Borrow's account, which is the only one, he was shadowed and then greeted by Jasper Petulengro. They went together to the Gypsy encampment on Household Heath, and they were together there often again, in spite of the hostility of one Gypsy, Mrs. Herne, to Borrow. He says that he went with them to fairs and markets and learnt their language in spite of Mrs. Herne, so that they called him Lav-engro, or Word Master. The mighty Tawno Chikno also called him Cooro-mengro, because of his mastery with the fist. He was then sixteen. He is said to have stained his face to darken it further, and to have been asked by Valpy: "Is that jaundice or only dirt, Borrow?"


With so much liberty Borrow desired more. He played truant and, as we have seen, was thrashed for it. He was soon to leave school for good, though there is nothing to prove that he left on account of this escapade, or that the thrashing produced the "symptoms of a rapid decline," with a failure of strength and appetite, which he speaks of in the eighteenth chapter of "Lavengro," after the Gypsies had gone away. He was almost given over by the physicians, he tells us, but cured by an "ancient female, a kind of doctress," with a decoction of "a bitter root which grows on commons and desolate places." An attack of "the dark feeling of mysterious dread" came with convalescence.

But "never during any portion of my life did time flow on more speedily," he says, than during the next two or three years. After some hesitation between Church and Law, he was articled in 1819 to Messrs. Simpson and Rackham, solicitors, of Tuck's Court, St. Giles', Norwich, and he lived with Simpson in the Upper Close. As a friend said, the law was an excellent profession for those who never intend to follow it. As Borrow himself said, "I have ever loved to be as explicit as possible; on which account, perhaps, I never attained to any proficiency in the law." Borrow sat faithfully at his desk and learned a good deal of Welsh, Danish, Hebrew, Arabic, Gaelic, and Armenian, making translations from these languages in prose and verse. In "Wild Wales" he recalls translating Danish poems "over the desk of his ancient master, the gentleman solicitor of East Anglia," and learning Welsh by reading a Welsh "Paradise Lost" side by side with the original, and by having lessons on Sunday afternoons at his father's house from a groom named Lloyd.

His chief master was William Taylor, the "Anglo-Germanist" of "Lavengro." Taylor was born in 1765. He studied in Germany as a youth and returned to England with a great enthusiasm for German literature. He translated Goethe's "Iphigenia" (1793), Lessing's "Nathan" (1791), Wieland's "Dialogues of the Gods," etc. (1795); he published "Tales of Yore," translated from several languages, and a "Letter concerning the two first chapters of Luke," in 1810, "English Synonyms discriminated" in 1813, and an "Historical Survey of German Poetry," interspersed with various translations, in 1823-30. He was bred among Unitarians, read Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau, disliked the Church, and welcomed the French Revolution, though he was no friend to "the cause of national ambition and aggrandisement." He belonged to a Revolution Society at Norwich, and in 1790 wrote from Paris calling the National Assembly "that well-head of philosophical legislation, whose pure streams are now overflowing the fairest country upon earth and will soon be sluiced off into the other realms of Europe, fertilising all with the living energy of its waters." In 1791 he and his father withdrew their capital from manufacture and William Taylor devoted himself to literature. Hazlitt speaks of the "style of philosophical criticism which has been the boast of the 'Edinburgh Review,'" as first introduced into the "Monthly Review" by Taylor in 1796. Scott said that Taylor's translation of Burger's "Lenore" made him a poet. Sir James Mackintosh learned the Taylorian language for the sake of the man's "vigour and originality"—"As the Hebrew is studied for one book, so is the Taylorian by me for one author."

{picture: William Taylor, of Norwich: page66.jpg}

I will give a few hints at the nature of his speculation. In one of his letters he speaks of stumbling on "the new hypothesis that the Nebuchadnezzar of Scripture is the Cyrus of Greek History," and second, that "David, the Jew, a favourite of this prince, wrote all those oracles scattered in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel relative to his enterprises, for the particularisation of which they afford ample materials." Writing of his analysis, in the "Critical Review," of Paulus' Commentary on the New Testament, he blames the editor for a suppression—"an attempt to prove, from the first and second chapter of Luke, that Zacharias, who wrote these chapters, meant to hold himself out as the father of Jesus Christ as well as of John the Baptist. The Jewish idea of being conceived of the Holy Ghost did not exclude the idea of human parentage. The rabbinical commentator on Genesis explains this." He was called "Godless Billy Taylor," but says he: "When I publish my other pamphlet in proof of the great truth that Jesus Christ wrote the 'Wisdom' and translated the 'Ecclesiasticus' from the Hebrew of his grandfather Hillel, you will be convinced (that I am convinced) that I and I alone am a precise and classical Christian; the only man alive who thinks concerning the person and doctrines of Christ what he himself thought and taught." His "Letter concerning the two first chapters of Luke" has the further title, "Who was the father of Christ?" He calls "not absolutely indefensible" the opinion of the anonymous German author of the "Natural History of Jesus of Nazareth," that Joseph of Arimathaea was the father of Jesus Christ. He mentions that "a more recent anonymous theorist, with greater plausibility, imagines that the acolytes employed in the Temple of Jerusalem were called by the names of angels, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, accordingly as they were stationed behind, beside, or before, the mercy-seat; and that the Gabriel of the Temple found means to impose on the innocence of the virgin." "This," he says, "is in many ways compatible with Mary's having faithfully given the testimony put together by Luke." He gives at great length the arguments in favour of Zacharias as the father, and tells Josephus' story of Mundus and Paulina. {68}

Norwich was then "a little Academe among provincial cities," as Mr. Seccombe calls it; he continues:

"Among the high lights of the illuminated capital of East Anglia were the Cromes, the Opies, John Sell Cotman, Elizabeth Fry, Dr. William Enfield (of Speaker fame), and Dr. Rigby, the father of Lady Eastlake; but pre- eminent above all reigned the twin cliques of Taylors and Martineaus, who amalgamated at impressive intervals for purposes of mutual elevation and refinement.

"The salon of Susannah Taylor, the mother of Sarah Austin, the wife of John Taylor, hymn writer and deacon of the seminal chapel, the once noted Octagon, in Norwich, included in its zenith Sir James Mackintosh, Mrs. Barbauld, Crabb Robinson, the solemn Dr. John Alderson, Amelia Opie, Henry Reeve of Edinburgh fame, Basil Montagu, the Sewards, the Quaker Gurneys of Earlham, and Dr. Frank Sayers, whom the German critics compared to Gray, who had handled the Norse mythology in poetry, to which Borrow was introduced by Sayer's private biographer, the eminent and aforesaid William Taylor" [no relation of the "Taylors of Norwich"] "whose 'Jail-delivery of German Studies' the jealous Thomas Carlyle stigmatized in 1830 as the work of a natural-born English Philistine."

Nevertheless, in spite of the Taylors and the Martineaus, says William Taylor's biographer, Robberds: "The love of society almost necessarily produces the habit of indulging in the pleasures of the table; and, though he cannot be charged with having carried this to an immoderate excess, still the daily repetition of it had taxed too much the powers of nature and exhausted them before the usual period." Taylor died in 1836 and was remembered best for his drinking and for his bloated appearance. Harriet Martineau wrote of him in her autobiography:

"William Taylor was managed by a regular process, first of feeding, then of wine-bibbing, and immediately after of poking to make him talk: and then came his sayings, devoured by the gentlemen and making ladies and children aghast;—defences of suicide, avowals that snuff alone had rescued him from it: information given as certain that 'God Save the King' was sung by Jeremiah in the Temple of Solomon,—that Christ was watched on the day of His supposed ascension, and observed to hide Himself till dark, and then to make His way down the other side of the mountain; and other such plagiarisms from the German Rationalists. When William Taylor began with 'I firmly believe,' we knew that something particularly incredible was coming. . . . 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, and getting her there with her shoes as clean as if she had crossed no gutters in those flint- paved streets, we could forgive anything that had shocked or disgusted us at the dinner table. But matters grew worse in his old age, when his habits of intemperance kept him out of the sight of the ladies, and he got round him a set of ignorant and conceited young men, who thought they could set the world right by their destructive tendencies. One of his chief favourites was George Borrow. . . ."

Another of "the harum-scarum young men" taken up by Taylor and introduced "into the best society the place afforded," writes Harriet Martineau, was Polidori.

Borrow was introduced to Taylor in 1820 by "Mousha," the Jew who taught him Hebrew. Taylor "took a great interest" in him and taught him German. "What I tell Borrow once," he said, "he ever remembers." In 1821 Taylor wrote to Southey, who was an early friend:

"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 how."

Borrow was at that time a "reserved and solitary" youth, tall, spare, dark complexioned and usually dressed in black, who used to be seen hanging about the Close and talking through the railings of his garden to some of the Grammar School boys. He was a noticeable youth, and he told his father that a lady had painted him and compared his face to that of Alfieri's Saul.

{picture: Tuck's Court, Norwich. Photo: Jarrold & Sons, Norwich: page70.jpg}

Borrow pleased neither his master nor his father by his knowledge of languages, though it was largely acquired in the lawyer's office. "The lad is too independent by half," Borrow makes his father say, after painting a filial portrait of the old man, "with locks of silver gray which set off so nobly his fine bold but benevolent face, his faithful consort at his side, and his trusty dog at his feet." Nor did the youth please himself. He was languid again, tired even of the Welsh poet, Ab Gwilym. He was anxious about his father, who was low spirited over his elder son's absence in London as a painter, and over his younger son's misconduct and the "strange notions and doctrines"—especially the doctrine that everyone has a right to dispose as he thinks best of that which is his own, even of his life—which he had imbibed from Taylor. Taylor was "fond of getting hold of young men and, according to orthodox accounts, doing them a deal of harm." {71a} His views, says Dr. Knapp, sank deep "into the organism of his pupil," and "would only be eradicated, if at all, through much suffering." Dr. Knapp thought that the execution of Thurtell ought to have produced a "favourable change in his mode of thinking"—as if prize fighting and murder were not far more common among Christians than atheists. But if Borrow had never met Taylor he would have met someone else, atheist or religious enthusiast, who would have lured him from the straight, smooth, flowery path of orthodoxy; otherwise he might have been a clergyman or he might have been Dr. Knapp, but he would not have been George Borrow. "What is truth?" he asked. "Would that I had never been born!" he said to himself. And it was an open air ranter, not a clergyman or unobtrusive godly man, that made him exclaim: "Would that my life had been like his—even like that man's." Then the Gypsy reminded him of "the wind on the heath" and the boxing gloves.

When his father asked Borrow what he proposed to do, {71b} seeing that he was likely to do nothing at law, he had nothing to suggest. Southey apparently could not help him to the Foreign Office. The only opening that can have seemed possible to him was literature. He might, for example, produce a volume of translations like the "Specimen of Russian Poets" (1820) of John Bowring, whom he met at Taylor's. Bowring, a man of twenty-nine in 1821, was the head of a commercial firm and afterwards a friend of Borrow and the author of many translations from Russian, Dutch, Spanish, Polish, Servian, Hungarian and Bohemian song. He was, as the "Old Radical" of "The Romany Rye," Borrow's victim in his lifetime, and after his death the victim of Dr. Knapp as the supposed false friend of his hero. The mud thrown at him had long since dried, and has now been brushed off in a satisfactory manner by Mr. R. A. J. Walling. {72}

{picture: Tom Shelton, Jack Randall: page72.jpg}


When Borrow was in his nineteenth year—according to Dr. Knapp's estimate—he told his father what he had done: "I have learned Welsh, and have translated the songs of Ab Gwilym, some ten thousand lines, into English rhyme. I have also learnt Danish, and have rendered the old book of Ballads into English metre. I have learned many other tongues, and have acquired some knowledge even of Hebrew and Arabic." He read and conversed with William Taylor; he read alone in the Guildhall of Norwich, where the Corporation Library offered him the books from which he gained "his knowledge of Anglo-Saxon and early English, Welsh or British, Northern or Scandinavian learning"—so writes Dr. Knapp, who has seen the "neat young pencilled notes" of Borrow in Edmund Lhuyd's 'Archaeologia Britannica' and the 'Danica Literatura Antiquissima' of Olaus Wormius, etc. He tells us himself that he passed entire nights in reading an old Danish book, till he was almost blind.

In 1823 Borrow began to publish his translations. Taylor introduced him to Thomas Campbell, then editor of the "New Monthly," and to Sir Richard Phillips, editor and proprietor of the "Monthly Magazine." Both editors printed Borrow's works.

Sir Richard Phillips was particularly flattering: he used Borrow's article on "Danish Poetry and Ballad Writing" and about six hundred lines of translation from German, Danish, Swedish and Dutch poetry in the first year of the connection, usually with the signature, "George Olaus Borrow." I will quote only one specimen, his version of Goethe's "Erl King" ("Monthly Magazine," December, 1823):

Who is it that gallops so late on the wild! O it is the father that carries his child! He presses him close in his circling arm, To save him from cold, and to shield him from harm.

"Dear baby, what makes ye your countenance hide?" "Spur, father, your courser and rowel his side; The Erl-King is chasing us over the heath;" "Peace, baby, thou seest a vapoury wreath?"

"Dear boy, come with me, and I'll join in your sport, And show ye the place where the fairies resort; My mother, who dwells in the cool pleasant mine Shall clothe thee in garments so fair and so fine."

"My father, my father, in mercy attend, And hear what is said by the whispering fiend." "Be quiet, be quiet, my dearly-loved child; 'Tis naught but the wind as it stirs in the wild."

"Dear baby, if thou wilt but venture with me, My daughter shall dandle thy form on her knee; My daughter, who dwells where the moon-shadows play, Shall lull ye to sleep with the song of the fay."

"My father, my father, and seest thou not His sorceress daughter in yonder dark spot?" "I see something truly, thou dear little fool,— I see the great alders that hang by the pool."

"Sweet baby, I doat on that beautiful form, And thou shalt ride with me the wings of the storm." "O father, my father, he grapples me now, And already has done me a mischief, I vow."

The father was terrified, onward he press'd, And closer he cradled the child to his breast, And reach'd the far cottage, and, wild with alarm, He found that the baby hung dead on his arm!

The only criticism that need be passed on this is that any man of some intelligence and patience can hope to do as well: he seldom wrote any verse that was either much better or much worse. At the same time it must not be forgotten that the success of the translation is no measure of the impression made on the young Borrow by the legend.

His translations from Ab Gwilym are not interesting either to lovers of that poet or to lovers of Borrow: some are preserved in a sort of life in death in the pages of "Wild Wales."

From the German he had also translated F. M. Von Klinger's "Faustus: his life, death and descent into hell." {75a} The preface announces that "although scenes of vice and crime are here exhibited, it is merely in the hope that they may serve as beacons, to guide the ignorant and unwary from the shoals on which they might otherwise be wrecked." He insisted, furthermore, that the book contained "the highly useful advice," that everyone should bear their lot in patience and not seek "at the expense of his repose to penetrate into those secrets which the spirit of man, while dressed in the garb of mortality cannot and must not unveil. . . . To the mind of man all is dark; he is an enigma to himself; let him live, therefore, in the hope of once seeing clearly; and happy indeed is he who in that manner passeth his days."

From the Danish of Johannes Evald, he translated "The Death of Balder," a play, into blank verse with consistently feminine endings, as in this speech of Thor to Balder: {75b}

How long dost think, degenerate son of Odin, Unmanly pining for a foolish maiden, And all the weary train of love-sick follies, Will move a bosom that is steel'd by virtue? Thou dotest! Dote and weep, in tears swim ever; But by thy father's arm, by Odin's honour, Haste, hide thy tears and thee in shades of alder! Haste to the still, the peace-accustom'd valley, Where lazy herdsmen dance amid the clover. There wet each leaf which soft the west wind kisses, Each plant which breathes around voluptuous odours, With tears! There sigh and moan, and the tired peasant Shall hear thee, and, behind his ploughshare resting, Shall wonder at thy grief, and pity Balder!

There are lyrics interspersed. The following is sung by three Valkyries marching round the cauldron before Rota dips the fatal spear that she is to present to Hother:

In juice of rue And trefoil too; In marrow of bear And blood of Trold, Be cool'd the spear, Threetimes cool'd, When hot from blazes Which Nastroud raises For Valhall's May.

1st Valk. Whom it woundeth, It shall slay.

2nd Whom it woundeth, It shall slay.

3rd Whom it woundeth, It shall slay.

In 1826 he was to publish "Romantic Ballads," translated from the Gaelic, Danish, Norse, Swedish, and German, with eight original pieces. He "hoped shortly" to publish a complete translation of the "Kjaempe Viser" and of Gaelic songs, made by him "some years ago." Few of these are valuable or interesting, but I must quote "Svend Vonved" because Borrow himself so often refers to it. The legend haunted him of "that strange melancholy Swayne Vonved, who roams about the world propounding people riddles; slaying those who cannot answer, and rewarding those who can with golden bracelets." When he was walking alone in wild weather in Cornwall he roared it aloud:

Svend Vonved sits in his lonely bower; He strikes his harp with a hand of power; His harp returned a responsive din; Then came his mother hurrying in: Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.

In came his mother Adeline, And who was she, but a queen so fine: "Now hark, Svend Vonved! out must thou ride And wage stout battle with knights of pride." Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.

"Avenge thy father's untimely end; To me, or another, thy gold harp lend; This moment boune thee, and straight begone! I rede thee, do it, my own dear son." Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.

Svend Vonved binds his sword to his side; He fain will battle with knights of pride. "When may I look for thee once more here? When roast the heifer and spice the beer?" Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.

"When stones shall take, of themselves, a flight And ravens' feathers are waxen white, Then may'st thou expect Svend Vonved home: In all my days, I will never come." Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.

If we did not know that Borrow used these verses as a kind of incantation we should be sorry to have read them. But one of the original pieces in this book is as good in itself as it is interesting. I mean "Lines to Six-foot-three":

A lad, who twenty tongues can talk, And sixty miles a day can walk; Drink at a draught a pint of rum, And then be neither sick nor dumb; Can tune a song, and make a verse, And deeds of northern kings rehearse; Who never will forsake his friend, While he his bony fist can bend; And, though averse to brawl and strife, Will fight a Dutchman with a knife. O that is just the lad for me, And such is honest six-foot three.

A braver being ne'er had birth Since God first kneaded man from earth; O, I have come to know him well, As Ferroe's blacken'd rocks can tell. Who was it did, at Suderoe, The deed no other dared to do? Who was it, when the Boff had burst, And whelm'd me in its womb accurst, Who was it dashed amid the wave, With frantic zeal, my life to save? Who was it flung the rope to me? O, who, but honest six-foot three!

Who was it taught my willing tongue, The songs that Braga fram'd and sung? Who was it op'd to me the store Of dark unearthly Runic lore, And taught me to beguile my time With Denmark's aged and witching rhyme; To rest in thought in Elvir shades, And hear the song of fairy maids; Or climb the top of Dovrefeld, Where magic knights their muster held! Who was it did all this for me? O, who, but honest six-foot three!

Wherever fate shall bid me roam, Far, far from social joy and home; 'Mid burning Afric's desert sands; Or wild Kamschatka's frozen lands; Bit by the poison-loaded breeze Or blasts which clog with ice the seas; In lowly cot or lordly hall, In beggar's rags or robes of pall, 'Mong robber-bands or honest men, In crowded town or forest den, I never will unmindful be Of what I owe to six-foot three.

That form which moves with giant grace— That wild, tho' not unhandsome face; That voice which sometimes in its tone Is softer than the wood-dove's moan, At others, louder than the storm Which beats the side of old Cairn Gorm; That hand, as white as falling snow, Which yet can fell the stoutest foe; And, last of all, that noble heart, Which ne'er from honour's path would start, Shall never be forgot by me— So farewell, honest six-foot three.

This is already pure Borrow, with a vigour excusing if not quite transmuting its rant. He creates a sort of hero in his own image, and it should be read as an introduction and invocation to "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye." It is one of the few contemporary records of Borrow at about the age when he wrote "Celebrated Trials," made horse-shoes and fought the Blazing Tinman. So far as I know, it was more than ten years before he wrote anything so good again, and he never wrote anything better in verse, unless it is the song of the "genuine old English gentleman," in the twenty-fourth chapter of "Lavengro":

"Give me the haunch of a buck to eat, and to drink Madeira old, And a gentle wife to rest with, and in my arms to fold, An Arabic book to study, a Norfolk cob to ride, And a house to live in shaded with trees, and near to a river side; With such good things around me, and blessed with good health withal, Though I should live for a hundred years, for death I would not call."

The only other verse of his which can be remembered for any good reason is this song from the Romany, included among the translations from thirty languages and dialects which he published, in 1835, with the title of "Targum," and the appropriate motto: "The raven has ascended to the nest of the nightingale." The Gypsy verses are as follows:

The strength of the ox, The wit of the fox, And the leveret's speed,— Full oft to oppose To their numerous foes, The Rommany need.

Our horses they take, Our waggons they break, And ourselves they seize, In their prisons to coop, Where we pine and droop, For want of breeze.

When the dead swallow The fly shall follow O'er Burra-panee, Then we will forget The wrongs we have met And forgiving be.

It will not be necessary to say anything more about Borrow's verses. Poetry for him was above all declamatory sentiment or wild narrative, and so he never wrote, and perhaps never cared much for poetry, except ballads and his contemporary Byron. He desired, as he said in the note to "Romantic Ballads," not the merely harmonious but the grand, and he condemned the modern muse for "the violent desire to be smooth and tuneful, forgetting that smoothness and tunefulness are nearly synonymous with tameness and unmeaningness." He once said of Keats: "They are attempting to resuscitate him, I believe." He regarded Wordsworth as a soporific merely.


Early in 1824, and just before George Borrow's articles with the solicitors expired, Captain Borrow died. He left all that he had to his widow, with something for the maintenance and education of the younger son during his minority. Borrow had already planned to go to London, to write, to abuse religion and to get himself prosecuted. A month later, the day after the expiration of his articles, before he had quite reached his majority, he went up to London. He was "cast upon the world" in no very hopeful condition. He had lately been laid up again—was it by the "fear" or something else?—by a complaint which destroyed his strength, impaired his understanding and threatened his life, as he wrote to a friend: he was taking mercury for a cure. But he had his translations from Ab Gwilym and his romantic ballads, and he believed in them. He took them to Sir Richard Phillips, who did not believe in them, and had moreover given up publishing. According to his own account, which is very well known (Lavengro, chapter XXX.), Sir Richard suggested that he should write something in the style of the "Dairyman's Daughter" instead.

Men of this generation, fortunate at least in this ignorance, probably think of the "Dairyman's Daughter" as a fictitious title, like the "Oxford Review" (which stood for "The Universal Review") and the "Newgate Lives" (which should have been "Celebrated Trials," etc.). But such a book really was published in 1811. It was an "authentic narrative" by a clergyman of the Church of England named Legh Richmond, who thought it "delightful to trace and discover the operations of Divine love among the poorer classes of mankind." The book was about the conversion and holy life and early death of a pale, delicate, consumptive dairyman's daughter in the Isle of Wight. It became famous, was translated into many languages, and was reprinted by some misguided or malevolent man not long ago. I will give a specimen of the book which the writer of "Six-foot- three" was asked to imitate:

"Travellers, as they pass through the country, usually stop to inquire whose are the splendid mansions which they discover among the woods and plains around them. The families, titles, fortune, or character of the respective owners, engage much attention. . . . In the meantime, the lowly cottage of the poor husbandman is passed by as scarcely deserving of notice. Yet, perchance, such a cottage may often contain a treasure of infinitely more value than the sumptuous palace of the rich man; even "the pearl of great price." If this be set in the heart of the poor cottager, it proves a jewel of unspeakable value, and will shine among the brightest ornaments of the Redeemer's crown, in that day when he maketh up his "jewels."

{picture: Sir Richard Phillips. (From the painting by James Saxon in The National Portrait Gallery.) Photo: Emery Walker: page82.jpg}

"Hence, the Christian traveller, while he bestows, in common with others, his due share of applause on the decorations of the rich, and is not insensible to the beauties and magnificence which are the lawfully allowed appendages of rank and fortune, cannot overlook the humbler dwelling of the poor. And if he should find that true piety and grace beneath the thatched roof, which he has in vain looked for amidst the worldly grandeur of the rich, he remembers the word of God. . . . He sees, with admiration, that 'the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, dwelleth with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,' Isaiah lvii., 15; and although heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool, yet when a home is to be built, and a place of rest to be sought for himself, he says, 'To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word,' Isaiah lxvi., 1, 2. When a home is thus tenanted, faith beholds this inscription written on the walls, The Lord lives here. Faith, therefore, cannot pass it by unnoticed, but loves to lift up the latch of the door, and sit down, and converse with the poor, though perhaps despised, inhabitant. Many a sweet interview does faith obtain when she thus takes her walks abroad. Many such a sweet interview have I myself enjoyed beneath the roof where dwelt the Dairyman and his little family.

"I soon perceived that his daughter's health was rapidly on the decline. The pale, wasting consumption, which is the Lord's instrument for removing so many thousands every year from the land of the living, made hasty strides on her constitution. The hollow eye, the distressing cough, and the often too flattering red on the cheek, foretold the approach of death.

"I have often thought what a field for usefulness and affectionate attention, on the part of ministers and Christian friends, is opened by the frequent attacks and lingering progress of consumptive illness. How many such precious opportunities are daily lost, where Providence seems in so marked a way to afford time and space for serious and Godly instruction! Of how many may it be said: 'The way of peace have they not known'; for not one friend ever came nigh to warn them to 'flee from the wrath to come.'

"But the Dairyman's Daughter was happily made acquainted with the things which belonged to her everlasting peace before the present disease had taken root in her constitution. In my visits to her I might be said rather to receive information than to impart it. Her mind was abundantly stored with Divine truths, and her conversations truly edifying. The recollection of it still produces a thankful sensation in my heart."

Nevertheless, when Borrow had bought a copy of this book he was willing to do what was asked, and to attempt also to translate into German Phillips' "Proximate Causes of the Material Phenomena of the Universe," or what the translator called "his tale of an apple and a pear." But Phillips changed his mind about the "Dairyman's Daughter" and commissioned a compilation of "Newgate Lives and Trials" instead. Borrow failed with the translation of the "Proximate Causes" but liked very well the compiling of the "Celebrated Trials"—of Joan of Arc, Cagliostro, Mary Queen of Scots, Raleigh, the Gunpowder Plotters, Queen Caroline, Thurtell, the Cato Street Conspirators, and many more—in six volumes. He also wrote reviews for Phillips' Magazine, and contributed more translations of poetry and many scraps of "Danish Traditions and Superstitions," like the following:

"At East Hessing, in the district of Calling, there was once a rural wedding; and when the morning was near at hand, the guests rushed out of the house with much noise and tumult. When they were putting their horses to the carts, in order to leave the place, each of them boasted and bragged of his bridal present. But when the uproar was at the highest, and they were all speaking together, a maiden dressed in green, and with a bulrush plaited over her head, came from a neighbouring morass, and going up to the fellow who was noisiest and bragged most of his bridal gift, she said, 'What will you give to Lady Boe?' The boor, who was half intoxicated from the brandy and ale he had swallowed, seized a whip, and answered, 'Three strokes of my waggon-whip.' But at the same moment he fell a corpse to the ground."

If translation like this is journeyman's work for the journeyman, for Borrow it was of great value because it familiarised him with the marvellous and the supernatural and so helped him towards the expression of his own material and spiritual adventures. The wild and often other- worldly air of much of his work is doubtless due to his wild and other- worldly mind, but owes a considerable if uncertain debt to his reading of ballads and legends, which give a little to the substance of his work and far more to the tone of it. Among other things translated at this time he mentions the "Saga of Burnt Njal."

He was not happy in London. He had few friends there, and perhaps those he had only disturbed without sweetening his solitude. One of these was a Norwich friend, named Roger Kerrison, who shared lodgings with him at 16, Millman Street, Bedford Row. Borrow confided in Kerrison, and had written to him before leaving Norwich in terms of perhaps unconsciously worked-up affection. But Borrow's low spirits in London were more than Kerrison could stand. When Borrow was proposing a short visit to Norwich his friend wrote to John Thomas Borrow, suggesting that he should keep his brother there for a time, or else return with him, for this reason. Borrow had "repeatedly" threatened suicide, and unable to endure his fits of desperation Kerrison had gone into separate lodgings: if his friend were to return in this state and find himself alone he would "again make some attempt to destroy himself." Nothing was done, so far as is known, and he did not commit suicide. It is a curious commentary on the work of hack writers that this youth should have written as a note to his translation of "The Suicide's Grave," {85} that it was not translated for its sentiments but for its poetry; "although the path of human life is rough and thorny, the mind may always receive consolation by looking forward to the world to come. The mind which rejects a future state has to thank itself for its utter misery and hopelessness." His malady was youth, aggravated, the food reformer would say, by eating fourteen pennyworth of bread and cheese at a meal, and certainly aggravated by literary ambition.

Judging from the thirty-first chapter of "Lavengro," he was exceptionally sensitive at this time to all impressions—probably both pleasant and unpleasant. He describes himself on his first day gazing at the dome of St. Paul's until his brain became dizzy, and he thought the dome would fall and crush him, and he shrank within himself, and struck yet deeper into the heart of the big city. He stood on London Bridge dazed by the mighty motion of the waters and the multitude of men and "horses as large as elephants. There I stood, just above the principal arch, looking through the balustrade at the scene that presented itself—and such a scene! Towards the left bank of the river, a forest of masts, thick and close, as far as the eye could reach; spacious wharfs, surmounted with gigantic edifices; and, far away, Caesar's Castle, with its White Tower. To the right, another forest of masts, and a maze of buildings, from which, here and there, shot up to the sky chimneys taller than Cleopatra's Needle, vomiting forth huge wreaths of that black smoke which forms the canopy—occasionally a gorgeous one—of the more than Babel city. Stretching before me, the troubled breast of the mighty river, and, immediately below, the main whirlpool of the Thames—the Maelstrom of the bulwarks of the middle arch—a grisly pool, which, with its superabundance of horror, fascinated me. Who knows but I should have leapt into its depths?—I have heard of such things—but for a rather startling occurrence which broke the spell. As I stood upon the bridge, gazing into the jaws of the pool, a small boat shot suddenly through the arch beneath my feet. There were three persons in it; an oarsman in the middle, whilst a man and woman sat at the stern. I shall never forget the thrill of horror which went through me at this sudden apparition. What!—a boat—a small boat—passing beneath that arch into yonder roaring gulf! Yes, yes, down through that awful water-way, with more than the swiftness of an arrow, shot the boat, or skiff, right into the jaws of the pool. A monstrous breaker curls over the prow—there is no hope; the boat is swamped, and all drowned in that strangling vortex. No! the boat, which appeared to have the buoyancy of a feather, skipped over the threatening horror, and the next moment was out of danger, the boatman—a true boatman of Cockaigne, that—elevating one of his skulls in sign of triumph, the man hallooing, and the woman, a true Englishwoman that—of a certain class—waving her shawl. Whether any one observed them save myself, or whether the feat was a common one, I know not; but nobody appeared to take any notice of them. As for myself, I was so excited, that I strove to clamber up the balustrade of the bridge, in order to obtain a better view of the daring adventurers. Before I could accomplish my design, however, I felt myself seized by the body, and, turning my head, perceived the old fruit-woman, who was clinging to me."

On this very day, in his account, he first met the "fiery, enthusiastic and open-hearted," pleasure-loving young Irishman, whom he calls Francis Ardry, who took him to the theatre and to "the strange and eccentric places of London," and no doubt helped to give him the feeling of "a regular Arabian Nights' entertainment." C. G. Leland {87} tells a story told to him by one who might have been the original of Ardry. The story is the only independent evidence of Borrow's London life. This "old gentleman" had been in youth for a long time the most intimate friend of George Borrow, who was, he said, a very wild and eccentric youth. "One night, when skylarking about London, Borrow was pursued by the police, as he wished to be, even as Panurge so planned as to be chased by the night- watch. He was very tall and strong in those days, a trained shoulder- hitter, and could run like a deer. He was hunted to the Thames, and there they thought they had him. But the Romany Rye made for the edge, and leaping into the wan water, like the Squyre in the old ballad, swam to the other side, and escaped."

It is no wonder he "did not like reviewing at all," especially as he "never could understand why reviews were instituted; works of merit do not require to be reviewed, they can speak for themselves, and require no praising; works of no merit at all will die of themselves, they require no killing." He forgot "The Dairyman's Daughter," and he could not foresee the early fate of "Lavengro" itself. He preferred manlier crime and riskier deception to reviewing. As he read over the tales of rogues, he says, he became again what he had been as a boy, a necessitarian, and could not "imagine how, taking all circumstances into consideration, these highwaymen, these pickpockets, should have been anything else than highwaymen and pickpockets."

These were the days of such books as "The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Samuel Denmore Hayward, denominated the Modern Macheath, who suffered at the Old Bailey, on Tuesday, November 27, 1821, for the Crime of Burglary," by Pierce Egan, embellished with a highly-finished miniature by Mr. Smart, etched by T. R. Cruikshank; and a facsimile of his handwriting. London, 1822."

It is a poor book, and now has descendants lower in the social scale. It pretends to give "a most awful but useful lesson to the rising generation" by an account of the criminal whose appearance as a boy "was so superior to other boys of his class in life as to have the look of a gentleman's child." He naturally became a waiter, and "though the situation did not exactly accord with his ambition, it answered his purpose, because it afforded him an opportunity of studying character, and being in the company of gentlemen." He was "a generous high-minded fellow towards the ladies," and became the fancy man of someone else's mistress, living "in the style of a gentleman solely at the expense of the beautiful Miss —-." His "unembarrassed and gentlemanly" behaviour survived even while he was being searched, and he entered the chapel before execution "with a firm step, accompanied with the most gentlemanly deportment." The end came nevertheless: "Bowing to the sheriffs and the few persons around him with all the manners of an accomplished gentleman, he ascended the drop with a firmness that astonished everyone present; and resigned his eventful life without scarce a struggle."

The moral was the obvious one. "His talents were his misfortunes." The biographer pretends to believe that, though the fellow lived in luxury, he must always have had a harassed mind; the truth being that he himself would have had a harassed mind if he had played so distinguished a part. "The chequered life of that young man," he says, "abounding with incidents and facts almost incredible, and scarcely ever before practised with so much art and delusion in so short a period, impressively points out the danger arising from the possession of great talents when perverted or misapplied."

He points out, furthermore, how vice sinks before virtue. "For instance, view the countenances of thieves, who are regaling themselves on the most expensive liquors, laughing and singing, how they are changed in an instant by the appearance of police officers entering a room in search of them. . . ."

Finally, "let the youth of London bear in mind that honesty is the best policy. . . .

"In this happy country, where every individual has an opportunity of raising himself to the highest office in the State, what might the abilities of the unfortunate Hayward have accomplished for him if he had not deviated from the paths of virtue? There is no place like London in the world where a man of talents meets with so much encouragement and liberality; his society is courted, and his presence gives a weight to any company in which he appears; if supported by a good character."

But the crime was the thing. Of a different class was John Hamilton Reynolds' "The Fancy." This book, published in 1820, would have wholly delighted Borrow. I will quote the footnote to the "Lines to Philip Samson, the Brummagem Youth":

"Of all the great men of this age, in poetry, philosophy, or pugilism, there is no one of such transcendent talent as Randall;—no one who combines the finest natural powers with the most elegant and finished acquired ones. The late Professor Stewart (who has left the learned ring) is acknowledged to be clever in philosophy, but he is a left-handed metaphysical fighter at best, and cannot be relied upon at closing with his subject. Lord Byron is a powerful poet, with a mind weighing fourteen stone; but he is too sombre and bitter, and is apt to lose his temper. Randall has no defect, or at best he has not yet betrayed the appearance of one. His figure is remarkable, when peeled, for its statue-like beauty, and nothing can equal the alacrity with which he uses either hand, or the coolness with which he receives. His goodness on his legs, Boxiana (a Lord Eldon in the skill and caution of his judgments) assures us, is unequalled. He doubles up an opponent, as a friend lately declared, as easily as though he were picking a flower or pinching a girl's cheek. He is about to fight Jos. Hudson, who challenged him lately at the Royal Tennis Court. Randall declared, that 'though he had declined fighting, he would accommodate Joshua'; a kind and benevolent reply, which does equal honour to his head and heart. The editor of this little volume, like Goldfinch in the 'Road to Ruin,' 'would not stay away for a thousand pounds.' He has already looked about for a tall horse and a taxed cart, and he has some hopes of compassing a drab coat and a white hat, for he has no wish to appear singular at such scenes."

Reynolds, like Borrow, was an admirer of Byron, and he anticipated Borrow in the spirit of his remark to John Murray that the author's trade was contemptible compared with the jockey's. At that moment it was unquestionably so. Soon even reviewing failed. The "Universal Review" died at the beginning of 1825, and Borrow seems to have quarrelled with Phillips because some Germans had found the German of his translation as unintelligible as he had found the publisher's English. He had nothing left but his physical strength, his translations, and a very little money. When he had come down to half-a-crown, he says, he thought of accepting a patriotic Armenian's invitation to translate an Armenian work into English; only the Armenian went away.


Then, on a fair day on Blackheath, he met Mr. Petulengro again who said he looked ill and offered him the loan of 50 pounds, which he would not accept, nor his invitation to join the band. Dr. Knapp confidently gives the date of May 12 to this incident because that is the day of the annual fair. Then seeing an advertisement: "A Novel or Tale is much wanted," outside a bookseller's shop, Borrow wrote "The Life and Adventures of Joseph Sell, the Great Traveller." Did he? Dr. Knapp thinks he did, but that the story had another name, and is to be sought for in such collections of 1825 and 1826 as "Watt's Literary Souvenir." As Borrow speaks of the materials of it having come from his own brain, and as Dr. Knapp says he could not invent, why not conclude that it was autobiographical?

There is no evidence except that the account sounds true, and might very well be true. Dr. Knapp thinks that he wrote this book, and that he did many other things which he said he did, because wherever there is any evidence it corroborates Borrow's statements except in small matters of names and dates. In the earlier version of "Lavengro," represented by a manuscript and a proof, "Ardry" is "Arden," "Jasper" is "Ambrose," and the question "What is his name?" is answered by "Thurtell," instead of a blank. Now there was an Ambrose Smith whom Borrow knew, and Thurtell was such a man as he describes in search of a place for the fight. Therefore, Dr. Knapp would be inclined to say that Borrow did know a young man named Arden. And, furthermore, as Isopel is called Elizabeth in that earlier version, Isopel did exist, but her name was Elizabeth: she was, says Mr. Watts-Dunton, "really an East Anglian road girl" (not a Gypsy) "of the finest type, known to the Boswells and remembered not many years ago." And speaking of Isopel—there is a story still to be heard at Long Melford of a girl "who lived on the green and ran away with the Gypsy," in about the year 1825. With this may possibly be connected another story: of a young painter of dogs and horses who was living at Melford in 1805 and seduced either one or two sisters of the warden of the hospital or almshouse, and had two illegitimate children, one at any rate a girl. The Great House was one used, but not built, for a workhouse: it stood near the vicarage at Melford, but has now disappeared, and apparently its records with it.

Borrow did not invent, says Knapp, which is absurd. Some of his reappearances, recognitions and coincidences must be inventions. The postillion's tale must be largely invention. But it is not fair or necessary to retort as Hindes Groome did: "Is the Man in Black then also a reality, and the Reverend Mr. Platitude? In other words, did Tractarianism exist in 1825, eight years before it was engendered by Keble's sermon?" For Borrow was unscrupulous or careless about time and place. But it is fair and necessary to say, as Hindes Groome did, that some of the unverities in "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye" are "probably due to forgetfulness," the rest to "love of posing, but much more to an honest desire to produce an amusing and interesting book." {93a} Borrow was a great admirer of the "Memoirs" {93b} of Vidocq," principal agent of the French police till 1827—now proprietor of the paper manufactory at St. Maude," and formerly showman, soldier, galley slave, and highwayman. Of this book the editor says:

"It is not our province or intention to enter into a discussion of the veracity of Vidocq's "Memoirs": be they true or false, were they purely fiction from the first chapter to the last, they would, from fertility of invention, knowledge of human nature, and easy style, rank only second to the novels of Le Sage."

It was certainly with books such as this in his mind that Borrow composed his autobiography, but it goes so much deeper that it is at every point a revelation, usually of actual events and emotions, always of thought and taste. In these "Memoirs" of Vidocq there is a man named Christian, or Caron, with a reputation for removing charms cast on animals, and he takes Vidocq to his Gypsy friends at Malines:

"Having traversed the city, we stopped in the Faubourg de Louvain, before a wretched looking house with blackened walls, furrowed with wide crevices, and many bundles of straw as substitutes for window glasses. It was midnight, and I had time to make my observations by the moonlight, for more than half an hour elapsed before the door was opened by one of the most hideous old hags I ever saw in my life. We were then introduced to a long room where thirty persons of both sexes were indiscriminately smoking and drinking, mingling in strange and licentious positions. Under their blue loose frocks, ornamented with red embroidery, the men wore blue velvet waistcoats with silver buttons, like the Andalusian muleteers; the clothing of the women was all of one bright colour; there were some ferocious countenances amongst them, but yet they were all feasting. The monotonous sound of a drum, mingled with the howling of two dogs tied under the table, accompanied the strange songs, which I mistook for a funeral psalm. The smoke of tobacco and wood which filled this den, scarcely allowed me to perceive in the midst of the room a woman, who, adorned with a scarlet turban, was performing a wild dance with the most wanton postures."

Dr. Knapp, on insufficient evidence, attributes the translation to Borrow. But certainly Borrow might have incorporated this passage in his own work almost word for word without justifying a charge either of plagiarism or untruth. Other men had written fiction as if it were autobiography; he was writing autobiography as if it were fiction; he used his own life as a subject for fiction. Ford crudely said that Borrow "coloured up and poetised" his adventures.


If Borrow is taken literally, he was at Blackheath on May 12, 1825, sold his "Life of Joseph Sell" on the 20th, and left London on the 22nd. "For some months past I had been far from well, and my original indisposition, brought on partly by the peculiar atmosphere of the Big City, partly by anxiety of mind, had been much increased by the exertions which I had been compelled to make during the last few days. I felt that, were I to remain where I was, I should die, or become a confirmed valetudinarian. I would go forth into the country, travelling on foot, and, by exercise and inhaling pure air, endeavour to recover my health, leaving my subsequent movements to be determined by Providence."

He says definitely in the appendix to "The Romany Rye," that he fled from London and hack-authorship for "fear of a consumption." Walking on an unknown road out of London the "poor thin lad" felt tired at the ninth milestone, and thought of putting up at an inn for the night, but instead took the coach to —-, i.e., Amesbury.

The remaining ninety chapters of "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye" are filled by the story of the next four months of Borrow's life and by stories told to him during that period. The preceding fifty-seven chapters had sufficed for twenty-two years. "The novelty" of the new itinerant life, says Mr. Thomas Seccombe, {96} "graved every incident in the most vivid possible manner upon the writer's recollection." After walking for four days northwest from Salisbury he met an author, a rich man who was continually touching things to avert the evil chance, and with him he stayed the night. On the next day he bought a pony and cart from the tinker, Jack Slingsby, with the purpose of working on the tinker's beat and making horse-shoes. After some days he was visited down in a Shropshire dingle by a Gypsy girl, who poisoned him at the instigation of his enemy, old Mrs. Herne. Only the accidental appearance of the Welsh preacher, Peter Williams, saved him. Years afterwards, in 1854, it may be mentioned here, he told a friend in Cornwall that his fits of melancholy were due to the poison of a Gypsy crone. He spent a week in the company of the preacher and his wife, and was about to cross the Welsh border with them when Jasper Petulengro reappeared, and he turned back. Jasper told him that Mrs. Herne had hanged herself out of disappointment at his escape from her poison. This made it a point of honour for Jasper to fight Borrow, whose bloody face satisfied him in half an hour: he even offered Borrow his sister Ursula for a wife. Borrow refused, and settled alone in Mumper's Dingle, which was perhaps Mumber Lane, five miles from Willenhall in Staffordshire. {97} Here he fought the Flaming Tinman, who had driven Slingsby out of his beat. The Tinman brought with him his wife and Isopel Berners, the tall fair-haired girl who struck Borrow first with her beauty and then with her right arm. Isopel stayed with Borrow after the defeat of the Tinman, and their companionship in the dingle fills a very large part of "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye," with interruptions and diversions from the Man in Black, the gin-drinking priest, who was then at work undermining the Protestantism of old England. Isopel stood by him when suffering from "indescribable horror," and recommended "ale, and let it be strong." Borrow makes her evidently inclined to marry him; for example, when she says that if she goes to America she will go alone "unless—unless that should happen which is not likely," and when he says ". . . If I had the power I would make you queen of something better than the dingle—Queen of China. Come, let us have tea," and "'Something less would content me,' said Belle, sighing, as she rose to prepare our evening meal"—and when at the postillion's suggestion of a love affair, she buries her face in her hands. "She would sigh, too," he says, "as I recounted the many slights and degradations I had received at the hands of ferocious publishers." In one place Borrow says: "I am, of course, nothing to her, but she is mistaken in thinking she is nothing to me." Borrow represents himself as tyrannically imposing himself upon the girl as teacher of Armenian, enlivening the instruction with the one mild double entendre, of "I decline a mistress." At times they seem on terms of as perfect good fellowship as ever was, with a touch of post-matrimonial indifference; but Isopel had fits of weeping and Borrow of listlessness. Borrow was uncommonly fond of prophetic tragic irony. As he made Thurtell unconsciously suggest to the reader his own execution, so he makes Isopel say one day when she is going a journey: "I shall return once more." Lavengro starts but thinks no more of it.

While she was away he began to think: "I began to think, 'What was likely to be the profit of my present way of life; the living in dingles, making pony and donkey shoes, conversing with Gypsy-women under hedges, and extracting from them their odd secrets?' What was likely to be the profit of such a kind of life, even should it continue for a length of time?—a supposition not very probable, for I was earning nothing to support me, and the funds with which I had entered upon this life were gradually disappearing. I was living, it is true, not unpleasantly, enjoying the healthy air of heaven; but, upon the whole, was I not sadly misspending my time? Surely I was; and, as I looked back, it appeared to me that I had always been doing so. What had been the profit of the tongues which I had learned? had they ever assisted me in the day of hunger? No, no! it appeared to me that I had always misspent my time, save in one instance, when by a desperate effort I had collected all the powers of my imagination, and written the 'Life of Joseph Sell'; but even when I wrote the 'Life of Sell,' was I not in a false position? Provided I had not misspent my time, would it have been necessary to make that effort, which, after all, had only enabled me to leave London, and wander about the country for a time? But could I, taking all circumstances into consideration, have done better than I had? With my peculiar temperament and ideas, could I have pursued with advantage the profession to which my respectable parents had endeavoured to bring me up? It appeared to me that I could not, and that the hand of necessity had guided me from my earliest years, until the present night in which I found myself seated in the dingle, staring on the brands of the fire. But ceasing to think of the past which, as irrecoverably gone, it was useless to regret, even were there cause to regret it, what should I do in future? Should I write another book like the 'Life of Joseph Sell;' take it to London, and offer it to a publisher? But when I reflected on the grisly sufferings which I had undergone whilst engaged in writing the 'Life of Sell,' I shrank from the idea of a similar attempt; moreover, I doubted whether I possessed the power to write a similar work—whether the materials for the life of another Sell lurked within the recesses of my brain? Had I not better become in reality what I had hitherto been merely playing at—a tinker or a Gypsy? But I soon saw that I was not fitted to become either in reality. It was much more agreeable to play the Gypsy or the tinker, than to become either in reality. I had seen enough of gypsying and tinkering to be convinced of that. All of a sudden the idea of tilling the soil came into my head; tilling the soil was a healthful and noble pursuit! but my idea of tilling the soil had no connection with Britain; for I could only expect to till the soil in Britain as a serf. I thought of tilling it in America, in which it was said there was plenty of wild, unclaimed land, of which any one, who chose to clear it of its trees, might take possession. I figured myself in America, in an immense forest, clearing the land destined, by my exertions, to become a fruitful and smiling plain. Methought I heard the crash of the huge trees as they fell beneath my axe; and then I bethought me that a man was intended to marry—I ought to marry; and if I married, where was I likely to be more happy as a husband and a father than in America, engaged in tilling the ground? I fancied myself in America, engaged in tilling the ground, assisted by an enormous progeny. Well, why not marry, and go and till the ground in America? I was young, and youth was the time to marry in, and to labour in. I had the use of all my faculties; my eyes, it is true, were rather dull from early study, and from writing the 'Life of Joseph Sell'; but I could see tolerably well with them, and they were not bleared. I felt my arms, and thighs, and teeth—they were strong and sound enough; so now was the time to labour, to marry, eat strong flesh, and beget strong children—the power of doing all this would pass away with youth, which was terribly transitory. I bethought me that a time would come when my eyes would be bleared, and perhaps, sightless; my arms and thighs strengthless and sapless; when my teeth would shake in my jaws, even supposing they did not drop out. No going a wooing then—no labouring—no eating strong flesh, and begetting lusty children then; and I bethought me how, when all this should be, I should bewail the days of my youth as misspent, provided I had not in them founded for myself a home, and begotten strong children to take care of me in the days when I could not take care of myself; and thinking of these things, I became sadder and sadder, and stared vacantly upon the fire till my eyes closed in a doze."

So, before going to bed, he filled the kettle in case Isopel should return during the night. He fell asleep and was dreaming hard and hearing the sound of wheels in his dream "grating amidst sand and gravel," when suddenly he awoke. "The next moment I was awake, and found myself sitting up in my tent; there was a glimmer of light through the canvas caused by the fire; a feeling of dread came over me, which was perhaps natural, on starting suddenly from one's sleep in that wild lone place; I half imagined that some one was nigh the tent; the idea made me rather uncomfortable, and to dissipate it I lifted up the canvas of the door and peeped out, and, lo! I had an indistinct view of a tall figure standing by the tent. 'Who is that?' said I, whilst I felt my blood rush to my heart. 'It is I,' said the voice of Isopel Berners; 'you little expected me, I dare say; well, sleep on, I do not wish to disturb you.' 'But I was expecting you,' said I, recovering myself, 'as you may see by the fire and the kettle. I will be with you in a moment.'

"Putting on in haste the articles of dress which I had flung off, I came out of the tent, and addressing myself to Isopel, who was standing beside her cart, I said—'Just as I was about to retire to rest I thought it possible that you might come to-night, and got everything in readiness for you. Now, sit down by the fire whilst I lead the donkey and cart to the place where you stay; I will unharness the animal, and presently come and join you.' 'I need not trouble you,' said Isopel; 'I will go myself and see after my things.' 'We will go together,' said I, 'and then return and have some tea.' Isopel made no objection, and in about half an hour we had arranged everything at her quarters. I then hastened and prepared tea. Presently Isopel rejoined me, bringing her stool; she had divested herself of her bonnet, and her hair fell over her shoulders; she sat down, and I poured out the beverage, handing her a cup. 'Have you made a long journey to-night?' said I. 'A very long one,' replied Belle,' I have come nearly twenty miles since six o'clock.' 'I believe I heard you coming in my sleep,' said I; 'did the dogs above bark at you?' 'Yes,' said Isopel, 'very violently; did you think of me in your sleep?' 'No,' said I, 'I was thinking of Ursula and something she had told me.' 'When and where was that?' said Isopel. 'Yesterday evening,' said I, 'beneath the dingle hedge.' 'Then you were talking with her beneath the hedge?' 'I was,' said I, 'but only upon Gypsy matters. Do you know, Belle, that she has just been married to Sylvester, so you need not think that she and I . . . ' 'She and you are quite at liberty to sit where you please,' said Isopel. 'However, young man,' she continued, dropping her tone, which she had slightly raised, 'I believe what you said, that you were merely talking about Gypsy matters, and also what you were going to say, if it was, as I suppose, that she and you had no particular acquaintance.' Isopel was now silent for some time. 'What are you thinking of?' said I. 'I was thinking,' said Belle, 'how exceedingly kind it was of you to get everything in readiness for me, though you did not know that I should come.' 'I had a presentiment that you would come,' said I; 'but you forget that I have prepared the kettle for you before, though it was true I was then certain that you would come.' 'I had not forgotten your doing so, young man,' said Belle; 'but I was beginning to think that you were utterly selfish, caring for nothing but the gratification of your own strange whims.' 'I am very fond of having my own way,' said I, 'but utterly selfish I am not, as I dare say I shall frequently prove to you. You will often find the kettle boiling when you come home.' 'Not heated by you,' said Isopel, with a sigh. 'By whom else?' said I; 'surely you are not thinking of driving me away?' 'You have as much right here as myself,' said Isopel, 'as I have told you before; but I must be going myself.' 'Well,' said I, 'we can go together; to tell you the truth, I am rather tired of this place.' 'Our paths must be separate,' said Belle. 'Separate,' said I, 'what do you mean? I shan't let you go alone, I shall go with you; and you know the road is as free to me as to you; besides, you can't think of parting company with me, considering how much you would lose by doing so; remember that you scarcely know anything of the Armenian language; now, to learn Armenian from me would take you twenty years.'

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