George Borrow himself cuts as a dashing Byronic-like figure. Of athletic build and over 6 feet tall with a shock of white, not blonde, hair, as a young man he roamed the length and breadth of
as an itinerant tinker.
He also travelled extensively through Britain in gypsy fashion Spain, as well as visiting Morocco and Borrow was in near equal measure, an intrepid traveller, a scholar and polyglot and on occasions, a rabid anti-papal
preacher and belligerent pugilist. He's depicted above
contemplating the splendid view of Russia. from Saint James Hill, adjacent
to the large expanse of heathland known as Mousehold and is accompanied by
the hat-wearing gypsy Petulenegro, an equally colourful character who, in addition to making his life-affirming statement, adopts the youthful Borrow to teach him the
Romany language and traditions. Norwich
George Borrow recounts his semi-autobiographical adventures on the highways and byways of England in Lavengro (1851) and in its sequel Romany Rye (1857). When the adventures of the self-styled scholar, gypsy, priest
Borrow's homage to Norwich, the urban setting of his youth, and his acknowledgement of the city's civic pride can be found in Lavengro -
A fine old city, perhaps the most curious specimen at present extant of the genuine old English Town. ..There it spreads from north to south, with its venerable houses, its numerous gardens, its thrice twelve churches, its mighty mound....There is an old grey castle on top of that mighty mound: and yonder rising three hundred feet above the soil, from amongst those noble forest trees, behold that old Norman master-work, that cloud-enriched cathedral spire ...Now who can wonder that the children of that fine old city are proud, and offer up prayers for her prosperity?
The classic panorama photograph of Norwich looking south from Saint James Hill. From left to right above the horizon-line - the Norman Castle, the church of Saint Peter Mancroft, City Hall bell-tower and the Norman Cathedral (centre). On the right, the tower of Saint Giles and the Roman Catholic Cathedral are in view.
Ascending the steep chalk ridge route which leads onto the celebrated prospect of Norwich, one sunny Sunday morning on a romantic mission, I remember a short verse shared in memory with the beloved -
just to see you.
But I refuse to come down.
Notes - Verse by Mati Klarwein
Wiki-links - George Borrow - William Taylor