The Bible in Spain, Or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of An Englishman: In An Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula

By George Borrow | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION.

IN the middle of the nineteenth century few living literary men were more famous--if fame consists in being much talked of-- than the author of "The Bible in Spain." He had that most alluring attraction for securing public interest, a striking individuality of person, language, style, and adventure; and he had succeeded in enveloping himself and his actions in an atmosphere of mystery. He lived through the days of the Young England party, of Disraeli and dandyism, of corn-law repeal and prize-fighting, into an era of science and of historical criticism, of Darwin and Renan. Whether his writings will be cherished by future ages cannot easily be predicted. But "The Bible in Spain" is a unique record of the Peninsular populations at a time of great disturbance.

George Henry Borrow, descended on the father's side from a Cornish family, and on the mother's from Huguenot refugees, was born at East Dereham in Norfolk, in 1803. His father, a recruiting officer, lived in numerous and varied districts during the boy's youth, and this certainly helped to inspire him with a taste for adventure. How he gained his aptitude for languages cannot be traced, but in spite of frequent change of schools he grew up a linguist. Many reminiscences of his childhood are embodied in the opening chapters of "Lavengro," and especially his early intercourse with the gipsies. His earliest fascination in literature was "Robinson Crusoe," from which many features of his own style seem to be derived. Physically, he grew up one of the tallest and strongest of men, six feet two without shoes, robust, self-willed, powerful, and pugilistic.

The Borrows ultimately settled at Norwich on the fathers retirement from active service, and George Borrow was articled to a

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