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cept it on the mere word of a biographer. George Borrow died on the 26th of July 1881, and, says Dr Knapp, "the circumstances were these. The stepdaughter and her husband drove to Lowestoft in the morning on some business of their own, leaving Mr Borrow without a living soul in the house with him. He had earnestly requested them not to go away, because he felt that he was in a dying state; but the response intimated that he had often expressed the same feeling before, and his fears had proved groundless. During the interval of these few hours of abandonment, which nothing can palliate or excuse, George Borrow died as he had lived alone!" It looks like a grave accusation of manslaughter by neglect; and even were it true, it had been better suppressed. But, to use his own phrase, nothing can palliate the suggestion of a a serious charge, whereof no proof is offered. Moreover, it is unfortunate that Dr Knapp has a personal grievance against the lady whom he accuses of this shameful neglect. "The Henrietta of that day," he says, "refuses to communicate with the present writer, for reasons best known to herself." Had she suspected his opinion of her, the reason of her silence would be obvious; and though we do not for a moment imply a relation of cause and effect, it would have been prudent in Dr Knapp to suppress either one reference or the other to "the Henrietta of that day."
with all his industry he has not the skill to write nor the tact to arrange his material. In the near future he promises us an annotated edition of 'Lavengro' and 'The Romany Rye,' a work well worth the doing, and one which cannot be successfully achieved without the papers collected by the industrious doctor. But the Life gives us little confidence in its worthy performance, and we regret the inevitable failure the more, because Borrow's strange career deserves elucidation. What a story there was to tell, if the biographer had had the gift of narrative! What adventures to relate for a man who knew the romantic value of words! And the best that can be said of Dr Knapp is that his two volumes are a quarry, from which a competent workman might extract the blocks of a fair monument. But where one writer has failed, there is little chance of another attempt; and we cheerfully take leave of this lost opportunity and look for Borrow in his works.
For, despite his own indignant denial, Borrow's works are one and all chapters of autobiography. It should, therefore, not be difficult to compose a portrait. But Borrow, brave, wilful, arrogant as he was, had the vaguest perception of his own character. His romantic temperament was deeply veined with pedantry, and he would persist in believing himself a philologist when he was merely a rover with an indomitable gift of tongues. Between him and the man he would speak
The biographer, then, has failed to produce a worthy life of George Borrow, because
ment. Whatever he wished to understand seemed to him easily intelligible, and though he constantly boasts his scholarship, he never troubled his head about the real mysteries of philology. Man was his book, and to gratify what he terms his "laudable curiosity," he would patter the flash in a pothouse, or gossip with gypsies under a hedge. But in whatever company he found himself, he could not deny himself the pleasure of a pedantic excursus. "My grandfather was a shorter, and my father was a smasher," such is the immortal opening of the jockey's story in The Romany Rye'; "the one was scragged and the other lagged." Borrow instantly interrupted the recital with a few false derivations, until at last the jockey begged for silence; and this anecdote reveals both the true and the false Borrow. It is the true Borrow who sketches the story of the smasher; it is the false who asserts irrelevantly that "lagged" is genuine old Norse.
with, be he gypsy, Armenian, of the man's sanguine temperaor Spaniard, there was never a barrier. He addressed every one in his own language, and he assuredly valued his talent less for the sake of science than because it gave him the insight he wished into the life of East and West, of Jew and Gentile. His philology, of course, was the merest empiricism. He was completely ignorant of the study, as it is seriously pursued. For him, in truth, languages were а means, not an end, and he had the good fortune never to waste his precious hours in a herbarium of dried words. Yet all the while he would preach "philology," and even declare that his valiant romance was a work of research! Nor was he content thus to belittle his own achievement; he was now and again emboldened to give specimens of his science, wherein, if he deceived himself, he can hardly hope to deceive others. Gravely he assures you that he has made out crabbed words in Eschylus by the help of the speech of Chikno and Petulengro. In another place he rhapsodises on the words for bread-pannam, panem, morro or mauro, the Irish aran, the Welsh bara, and with an insusceptibility to sound, which would shock a modern philologist, he declares that he sees a resemblance in all these words. After that, you are not surprised that tanner should be derived from the Latin tener, and that one word is older than another because it is easier to say. But these lapses from romance are unimportant, and they are at least characteristic
But philology is not the only snare which Lavengro spread for his readers. He is always trying to catch you in the net of prejudice. He would have you believe that his books were written for any other reason than the real one. Now the first object of his work is to protest against Popery; now it is designed to prove the error of gentility. On one page he condemns the Jacobites and all their works, on another he commits an unmerited outrage upon Sir Walter Scott. But to arrive at the real man you must brush
away these specimens of extravagance and ill-humour. In his own phrase, "With him the pursuit of languages was always modified by the love of horses." Give him a horse or a fighter and he forgot his peevishness, his grievances, and his pedantry. His books, which are all chapters of one vast work, compose a long and eloquent panegyric of the wandering life. Whatever was done under the open sky was in Borrow's eyes sanctified. So he loved the loafers and footpads, whom the righteous man contemns. So he delighted in the free companionship of tramps and gypsies. For him the one palace of London was the Bridge, whereon he spoke with the old woman, and read the wonderful 'Life of Moll Flanders.' So, notwithstanding the 'Celebrated Trials,' he abhorred the life of a literary hack, and was far happier botching kettles, and very badly he botched them no doubt, to mending the "genuine English" of torn and battered chap-books. Romantic to the core, he espied an adventure in every inn, and could not loaf along the highroad without good hope of surprise at the next turning. He was, so to say, the natural man with a pen in his hand, a Dumas of experience, who had no need to go to history for his material. Whether he walked across England or rode over the arid plains of Galicia, he had a constant faith in the unexpected. His was the true traveller's curiosity he wondered always where he would pass the night, what company he would keep at dinner, and with admirable
skill he inspires his reader with something of his own wonderment.
Other writers of romance invent their characters, and embellish their their backgrounds. Borrow was his own hero, and he pictured the lanes and dingles where he himself had trod; he sang the praises of the ale which he himself had drunk; he reported the gossip which the strangers of chance brought unto his ears. 'Lavengro' is not an autobiography he once declared, with more venom than was necessary, but on another occasion he admitted its authenticity; and the clear result of Dr Knapp's researches is to prove, what from internal evidence always seemed probable, that Borrow's narrative is personal and veracious. His friends were never tired of likening him to Don Quixote, and the casual traveller detected in this white-haired tramp a resemblance to the Wandering Jew. And both comparisons are justified. Borrow had in him much of the Wandering Jew, more still of Don Quixote. Above all, his wanderings were ever attended with good luck. He was a tireless collector of eccentric characters, and he made such a collection as fiction has never equalled. Where shall you match his splendid Petulengro? where equal the grim and grisly Tinman? Who save Borrow would ever have encountered Peter Williams, with his sin against the Holy Ghost? And who save Borrow would have cured his malady with a quotation from Moll Flanders'? Then
again, the man who must always be touching things to avert an evil chance, is he not absolutely real and yet absolutely Borrovian? Nothing in these strange books is too unremote from experience to be true, and though Dr Knapp has not yet proved his point, we are content to believe with him that 'Lavengro' and 'Romany Rye' are a faithful record of things seen and heard. No one who had not bought a horse a bargain and sold it at a proper figure could have written of Horncastle Fair with Borrow's enthusiasm.
Good fortune, then, never deserted Borrow, when he went upon the road; and his delight yielded to nothing save the "horrors"—that imaginary "fear," which more than once was near to turning his hand against himself. For even if he encountered no human curiosity, no old man who had mastered Chinese yet could not read the clock, and no Magyar to wile away the hours with new words, he still knew the vivid joy of the open air. "Life is sweet, brother, said Jasper. There's day and night, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and stars, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind on the heath." A wind on the heath! That is the characteristic phrase. A wind on the heath, which even the blind man can feel! These five words should be placed on the title-page of all Borrow's works, for not only did he feel the wind on the heath more acutely than any other man, but he knew well how to give
the impression to his readers. Truly the wind blows not only on the heath, but through all the pages of 'Lavengro,' driving before it the author's pedantry and bitterness, and leaving the ineffaceable image of a covered sky and fair green turf.
So he loved the heath, and all that passed thereon. And was it not upon the heath that the boxers took their stand, -the boxers whom, despite Dr Knapp's reference to duty, Borrow loved as his brothers? Nothing in the world moved him like a battle, and his chapter on pugilism is assuredly his masterpiece. Hazlitt, a master too, sketched a fight, and sketched it with his richer resources of style and words. But while his picture is more compact and of a better finish than Borrow's, Borrow's vision is incomparably quicker and more alert. For he has touched the prizering with the fingers of romance. He has purged it of prosaic horror and common blackguardism. He has sung a pæan to the fist, which carries you along with the right Homeric lilt. "Hail to thee, six-foot Englishman of the brown eye!" Has not that the exact touch? Does it not put you instantly in the proper humour? And where, outside the Iliad,' shall you match this famous image: "He strikes his foe on the forehead, and the report of the blow is like the sound of a hammer against a rock"? And the leonine Cribb, and Belcher, the Teucer of the Ring, and Jack Randall,
the terrible Randall, and, best of all, that “true piece of English stuff, Tom of Bedford, sharp as Winter, kind as Spring" - he knows them all, and draws them as one who understands their dignity and grandeur.
They, too, felt the wind on the heath; they, too, knew the joy of the open sky. "There they come, the bruisers, far from London; way, some another: some of tip-top reputation came with peers in their chariots; . others came in their own gigs, driving their own bits of blood, and I heard one say: 'I have driven through at a heat the whole hundred and eleven miles, and only stopped to bait twice.' There is enthusiasm in
every line of this rhapsody an enthusiasm which is never aroused by strange tongues or curious pedantry, but which responds instantly to the aspect of blood-horse or boxer, or even to the vague memory of Jerry Abershaw and Galloping Dick. But there are two heroes, two kings of the road, who inspire Borrow to his highest flights,-Jasper Petulengro and his black pal Tawno, "the horse-leaper of the world." When these two are upon the scene, the narrative never flags; it trots as fast as the famous horse which the author bought of the green-coated innkeeper, and we must read fast indeed if we would not lag as far behind as the cob bestridden by the fellow in velveteen.
Borrow, then, was a wanderer, and his restless passion is enough to explain the work he
accomplished for the Bible Society. At first sight he does not reveal the missionary spirit ; and though his hatred of Popery gave a zest to his Spanish crusade, it was the love of adventure rather than a zeal for the Gospel which quickened his footsteps. To force a prohibited book upon an indifferent people was an enterprise after his own heart, and by the way there were gypsies and horsecopers to encounter, or cavaliers and señoras to reprove. But he was assuredly a sore trial to his worthy employers, and the scraps of correspondence given us by Dr Knapp are unconsciously humorous. At the outset Borrow had not acquired the lingo of the place, and his letters were not always designed to be read before a pious committee. He gave particular offence by expressing a hope that his work would be useful to "the Deity, to man, and to himself," and you are tempted to ask, "Which did he think mattered most of the three?" Above all, he aroused the wrath of the eminent secretary,-one Brandram,-who administered continual rebukes. "Luck," said this eminent divine, "is a scandal to Englishmen," and knew not that he was addressing an inspired traveller, whose head was packed with the superstitions of all the ages, and who believed (maybe) that the clouds foreshow the "dukkeripens" of men.
"A series of Rembrandt pictures, interspersed here and there with a Claude "—that is his own description of 'Lavengro,' and the praise which