Fiction With Purpose Philosophy Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy,The Priest

Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy,The Priest

Lavengro - The Scholar, The Gypsy,The Priest
Catalog # SKU1848
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Borrow


The Scholar, The Gypsy,
The Priest

Three Volumes in One Book!

A New Edition Containing The Unaltered Text
Of The Original Issue; Some Suppressed
Episodes, Ms. Variorum, Vocabulary
And Notes By The Author Of
The Life Of George Borrow

George Borrow

Lavengro - Gypsy word for a Word-Master, a philologist - etymologist

From the Preface

Lavengro made its first appearance more than one and twenty years ago. It was treated in anything but a courteous manner. Indeed, abuse ran riot, and many said that the book was killed. If by killed was meant knocked down and stunned, which is the Irish acceptation of the word-there is a great deal about Ireland in the book-they were right enough. It was not dead, however, oh dear no! as is tolerably well shown by the present edition, which has been long called for.

The chief assailants of the book were the friends of Popery in England. They were enraged because the author stood up for the religion of his fathers, his country, and the Bible, against the mythology of a foreign priest. As for the Pope-but the Pope has of late had his misfortunes, so no harsh language. To another subject! From the Pope to the Gypsies! From the Roman Pontiff to the Romany Chals!

A very remarkable set of people are the Gypsies; frequent mention is made of them in Lavengro, and from their peculiar language the word "Lavengro" is taken. They first attracted notice in Germany, where they appeared in immense numbers in the early part of the fifteenth century, a period fraught with extraordinary events: the coming of the Black Death; the fortunes and misfortunes of the Emperor Sigismund; the quarrels of the Three Popes-the idea of three Popes at one time!-the burning alive of John Huss; the advance of the Crescent, and the battle of Agincourt. They were of dark complexion, some of them of nearly negro blackness, and spoke a language of their own, though many could converse in German and other tongues.

They called themselves Zingary and Romany Chals, and the account they gave of themselves was that they were from Lower Egypt, and were doing penance, by a seven years' wandering, for the sin of their forefathers, who of old had refused hospitality to the Virgin and Child. They did not speak truth, however; the name they bore, Zingary, and which, slightly modified, is still borne by their descendants in various countries, shows that they were not from Egypt, but from a much more distant land, Hindostan; for Zingaro is Sanscrit, and signifies a man of mixed race, a mongrel; whilst their conduct was evidently not that of people engaged in expiatory pilgrimage; for the women told the kosko bokht, the good luck, the buena ventura; kaured, that is, filched money and valuables from shop-boards and counters by a curious motion of the hands, and poisoned pigs and hogs by means of a certain drug, and then begged, and generally obtained, the carcases, which cut up served their families for food; the children begged and stole; whilst the men, who it is true professed horse-clipping, farriery and fiddling, not unfrequently knocked down travellers and plundered them.

The hand of justice of course soon fell heavily upon them; men of Egypt, as they were called, were seized, hung, or maimed; women scourged or branded; children whipped; but no severity appeared to have any effect upon the Zingary; wherever they went (and they soon found their way to almost every country in Europe), they adhered to their evil practices. Before the expiration of the fifteenth century bands of them appeared in England with their horses, donkeys and tilted carts. How did they contrive to cross the sea with their carts and other property?

By means very easy to people with money in their pockets, which the Gypsies always have, by paying for their passage; just as the Hungarian tribe did, who a few years ago came to England with their horses and vehicles, and who, whilst encamping with their English brethren in the loveliest of all forests, Epping Wesh, exclaimed "Sore si mensar si men".

From Author's Bio

There are some writers who cannot be adequately criticised-who cannot, indeed, be adequately written about at all-save by those to whom they are personally known. I allude to those writers of genius who, having only partially mastered the art of importing their own individual characteristics into literary forms, end their life-work as they began it, remaining to the last amateurs in literary art. Of this class of writers George Borrow is generally taken to be the very type. Was he really so?

There are passages in "Lavengro" which are unsurpassed in the prose literature of England-unsurpassed, I mean, for mere perfection of style-for blending of strength and graphic power with limpidity and music of flow. Is "Lavengro" the work of a literary amateur who, yielding at will to every kind of authorial self-indulgence, fails to find artistic expression for the life moving within him-fails to project an individuality that his friends knew to have been unique?

Of other writers of genius, admirable criticism may be made by those who have never known them in the flesh. Is this because each of those others, having passed from the stage of the literary amateur to that of the literary artist, is able to pour the stream of his personality into the literary mould and give to the world a true image of himself? It has been my chance of life to be brought into personal relations with many men of genius, but I feel that there are others who could write about them more adequately than I. Does Borrow stand alone? The admirers of his writings seem generally to think he does


It has been said by this or that writer, I scarcely know by whom, that, in proportion as we grow old, and our time becomes short, the swifter does it pass, until at last, as we approach the borders of the grave, it assumes all the speed and impetuosity of a river about to precipitate itself into an abyss; this is doubtless the case, provided we can carry to the grave those pleasant thoughts and delusions which alone render life agreeable, and to which even to the very last we would gladly cling; but what becomes of the swiftness of time, when the mind sees the vanity of human pursuits? which is sure to be the case when its fondest, dearest hopes have been blighted at the very moment when the harvest was deemed secure.

What becomes from that moment, I repeat, of the shortness of time? I put not the question to those who have never known that trial; they are satisfied with themselves and all around them, with what they have done and yet hope to do; some carry their delusions with them to the borders of the grave, ay, to the very moment when they fall into it; a beautiful golden cloud surrounds them to the last, and such talk of the shortness of time; through the medium of that cloud the world has ever been a pleasant world to them; their only regret is that they are so soon to quit it; but oh, ye dear deluded hearts, it is not every one who is so fortunate!

To the generality of mankind there is no period like youth. The generality are far from fortunate; but the period of youth, even to the least so, offers moments of considerable happiness, for they are not only disposed, but able to enjoy most things within their reach. With what trifles at that period are we content; the things from which in after-life we should turn away in disdain please us then, for we are in the midst of a golden cloud, and everything seems decked with a golden hue. Never during any portion of my life did time flow on more speedily than during the two or three years immediately succeeding the period to which we arrived in the preceding chapter.

Since then it has flagged often enough; sometimes it has seemed to stand entirely still; and the reader may easily judge how it fares at the present, from the circumstance of my taking pen in hand, and endeavouring to write down the passages of my life-a last resource with most people. But at the period to which I allude I was just, as I may say, entering upon life; I had adopted a profession, and-to keep up my character, simultaneously with that profession-the study of a new language; I speedily became a proficient in the one, but ever remained a novice in the other: a novice in the law, but a perfect master in the Welsh tongue.

Yes! very pleasant times were those, when within the womb of a lofty deal desk, behind which I sat for some eight hours every day, transcribing (when I imagined eyes were upon me) documents of every description in every possible hand, Blackstone kept company with Ab Gwilym-the polished English lawyer of the last century, who wrote long and prosy chapters on the rights of things-with a certain wild Welshman, who some four hundred years before that time indited immortal cowydds and odes to the wives of Cambrian chieftains-more particularly to one Morfydd, the wife of a certain hunchbacked dignitary called by the poet facetiously Bwa Bach-generally terminating with the modest request of a little private parlance beneath the green wood bough, with no other witness than the eos, or nightingale, a request which, if the poet himself may be believed-rather a doubtful point-was seldom, very seldom, denied. And by what strange chance had Ab Gwilym and Blackstone, two personages so exceedingly different, been thus brought together? From what the reader already knows of me, he may be quite prepared to find me reading the former; but what could have induced me to take up Blackstone, or rather the law?

I have ever loved to be as explicit as possible; on which account, perhaps, I never attained to any proficiency in the law, the essence of which is said to be ambiguity; most questions may be answered in a few words, and this among the rest, though connected with the law. My parents deemed it necessary that I should adopt some profession, they named the law; the law was as agreeable to me as any other profession within my reach, so I adopted the law, and the consequence was, that Blackstone, probably for the first time, found himself in company with Ab Gwilym. By adopting the law I had not ceased to be Lavengro.

So I sat behind a desk many hours in the day, ostensibly engaged in transcribing documents of various kinds. The scene of my labours was a strange old house, occupying one side of a long and narrow court, into which, however, the greater number of the windows looked not, but into an extensive garden, filled with fruit trees, in the rear of a large, handsome house, belonging to a highly respectable gentleman, who, moyennant un douceur considèrable, had consented to instruct my father's youngest son in the mysteries of glorious English law.

Ah! would that I could describe the good gentleman in the manner which he deserves; he has long since sunk to his place in a respectable vault, in the aisle of a very respectable church, whilst an exceedingly respectable marble slab against the neighbouring wall tells on a Sunday some eye wandering from its prayer-book that his dust lies below; to secure such respectabilities in death, he passed a most respectable life. Let no one sneer, he accomplished much; his life was peaceful, so was his death. Are these trifles? I wish I could describe him, for I loved the man, and with reason, for he was ever kind to me, to whom kindness has not always been shown; and he was, moreover, a choice specimen of a class which no longer exists-a gentleman lawyer of the old school. I would fain describe him, but figures with which he has nought to do press forward and keep him from my mind's eye; there they pass, Spaniard and Moor, Gypsy, Turk, and livid Jew.

But who is that? what that thick pursy man in the loose, snuff-coloured greatcoat, with the white stockings, drab breeches, and silver buckles on his shoes? that man with the bull neck, and singular head, immense in the lower part, especially about the jaws, but tapering upward like a pear; the man with the bushy brows, small grey eyes, replete with cat-like expression, whose grizzled hair is cut close, and whose ear-lobes are pierced with small golden rings? Oh! that is not my dear old master, but a widely different personage. Bon jour, Monsieur Vidocq! expressions de ma part à Monsieur le Baron Taylor. But here comes at last my veritable old master!

Softcover, 8½" x 7", 605+ pages

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