Isopel Berners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about Isopel Berners.

BY GEORGE BORROW

The History of certain doings in a Staffordshire Dingle, July, 1825:  An Episode in the Autobiography of George Borrow.

The text edited with
introduction & notes by
Thomas Seccombe
author ofThe age of Johnson
Assistant editor of the dictionary
of national biography

LondonHodder and Stoughton 27 paternoster Row 1901

Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.

INTRODUCTION.

I.

The last century was yet in its infancy when the author of The Romany Rye first saw the light in the sleepy little East Anglian township of East Dereham, in the county distinguished by Borrow as the one in which the people eat the best dumplings in the world and speak the purest English.  “Pretty quiet D[ereham]” was the retreat in those days of a Lady Bountiful in the person of Dame Eleanor Fenn, relict of the worthy editor of the Paston Letters.  It is better known in literary history as the last resting-place of a sad and unquiet spirit, escaped from a world in which it had known nought but sorrow, of “England’s sweetest and most pious bard,” William Cowper.  But Destiny was weaving a robuster thread to connect East Dereham with literature, for George Borrow {1} was born there on July 5th, 1803, and, nomad though he was, the place was always dear to his heart as his earliest home.

In 1816, after ramblings far and wide both in Ireland and in Scotland, the Borrows settled in Norwich, where George was schooled under a master whose name at least is still familiar to English youth, Dr. Valpy (brother of Dr. Richard Valpy).  Among his schoolfellows at the grammar school were Rajah Brooke and Dr. James Martineau.  George Borrow, a hardened truant from his earliest teens, was once horsed, to undergo a flogging, on the back of James Martineau, and he never afterwards took kindly to the philosophy of that remarkable man.  We are glad to know that Edward Valpy’s ferule was weak, though his scholarship was strong.  Stories were current that even in those days George used to haunt the gipsy tents on that Mousehold Heath which lives eternally in the breezy canvases of “Old Crome,” and that he went so far as to stain his face with walnut-juice to the right Egyptian hue.  “Are you suffering from jaundice, Borrow,” asked the Doctor, “or is it merely dirt?” While at Norwich, too, he was greatly influenced in the direction of linguistics by the English “pocket Goethe,” William Taylor, the head of a clan known as the Taylors of Norwich, to distinguish them from a race in which the

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Project Gutenberg
Isopel Berners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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