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. With so much liberty Borrow desired more. He played truant and, as we have seen, was thrashed for it.
After some hesitation between Church and Law, he was articled in to Messrs.
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As a friend said, the law was an excellent profession for those who never intend to follow it. He studied in Germany as a youth and returned to England with a great enthusiasm for German literature. 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.
Seccombe calls it; he continues:. 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. Barbauld, Crabb Robinson, the solemn Dr. Harriet Martineau wrote of him in her autobiography:. 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.
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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.
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. He was languid again, tired even of the Welsh poet, Ab Gwilym. 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. Southey apparently could not help him to the Foreign Office. The only opening that can have seemed possible to him was literature. Bowring, a man of twenty-nine in , was the head of a commercial firm and afterwards a friend of Borrow and the author of many translations from p. 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.
When Borrow was in his nineteenth year—according to Dr.
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 tells us himself that he passed entire nights in reading an old Danish book, till he was almost blind. In Borrow began to publish his translations. 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. 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 p. From the German he had also translated F. 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. Thou dotest! 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:. I rede thee, do it, my own dear son. Svend Vonved binds his sword to his side; He fain will battle with knights of pride. When roast the heifer and spice the beer?
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. 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.
Who was it flung the rope to me? O, who, but honest six-foot three!
Who was it did all this for me? 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. 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 left all that he had to his widow, with something for the maintenance and education of the younger son during his minority.
[Add Jenna’s Introduction]
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. 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.
DEDICATION TO E. S. P. HAYNES
According to his own account, which is very well known Lavengro, chapter XXX. But such a book really was published in It became famous, was translated into many languages, and was reprinted by some misguided or malevolent man not long ago. 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. 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.
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.