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A Bibliography of the writings in Prose and Verse

[Picture: Manuscript of Lord's Prayer in Romany]

A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE WRITINGS IN PROSE AND VERSE OF GEORGE HENRY BORROW

BY THOMAS J. WISE

LONDON: PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY BY RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LTD. 1914

OF THIS BOOK ONE HUNDRED COPIES ONLY HAVE BEEN PRINTED.

PREFACE

The object of the present Bibliography is to give a concise account, accompanied by accurate collations, of the original editions of the Books and Pamphlets of George Borrow, together with a list of his many contributions to Magazines and other Publications. It will doubtless be observed that no inconsiderable portion of the Bibliography deals with the attractive series of Pamphlets containing Ballads, Poems, and other works by Borrow which were printed for Private Circulation during the course of last year. Some account of the origin of these pamphlets, and some information regarding the material of which they are composed, may not be considered as inopportune or inappropriate.

As a writer of English Prose Borrow long since achieved the position which was his due; as a writer of English Verse he has yet to come by his own.

The neglect from which Borrow's poetical compositions (by far the larger proportion of which are translations from the Danish and other tongues) have suffered has arisen from one cause, and from one cause alone,--the fact that up to the present moment only his earliest and, in the majority of cases, his least successful efforts have been available to students of his work.

In 1826, when Borrow passed his _Romantic Ballads_ through the Press, he had already acquired a working knowledge of numerous languages and dialects, but of his native tongue he had still to become a master. In 1826 his appreciation of the requirements of English Prosody was of a vague description, his sense of the rhythm of verse was crude, and the attention he paid to the exigencies of rhyme was inadequate. Hence the majority of his Ballads, beyond the fact that they were faithful reproductions of the originals from which they had been laboriously translated, were of no particular value.

But to Borrow himself they were objects of a regard which amounted to affection, and there can be no question that throughout a considerable portion of his adventurous life he looked to his Ballads to win for him whatever measure of literary fame it might eventually be his fortune to gain. In _Lavengro_, and other of his prose works, he repeatedly referred to his "bundle of Ballads"; and I doubt whether he ever really relinquished all hope of placing them before the public until the last decade of his life had well advanced.

That the Ballad Poetry of the old Northern Races should have held a strong attraction for Borrow is not to be wondered at. His restless nature and his roving habits were well in tune with the spirit of the old Heroic Ballads; whilst his taste for all that was mythical or vagabond (vagabond in the literal, and not in the conventional, sense of the word) would prompt him to welcome with no common eagerness the old Poems dealing with matters supernatural and legendary. Has he not himself recorded how, when fatigued upon a tiring march, he roused his flagging spirits by shouting the refrain "_Look out_, _look out_, _Svend Vonved_!"?


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