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CHAPTER VI At the Norwich Grammar School
 When George Borrow first entered Norwich after the long journey from Edinburgh, Joseph John Gurney, born 1788, was twenty-six years of age, and William Taylor, born 1765, was forty-nine.  Borrow was eleven years of age.  Captain Borrow took temporary lodgings1 at the Crown and Angel Inn in St. Stephen’s Street, George was sent to the Grammar School, and his elder brother started to learn drawing and painting with John Crome (“Old Crome”) of many a fine landscape.  But the wanderings of the family were not yet over.  Napoleon escaped from Elba, and the West Norfolk Militia2 were again put on the march.  This time it was Ireland to which they were destined3, and we have already shadowed forth4, with the help of Lavengro, that momentous5 episode.  The victory of Waterloo gave Europe peace, and in 1816 the Borrow family returned to Norwich, there to pass many quiet years.  In 1819 Captain Borrow was pensioned—eight shillings a day.  From 1816 till his father’s death in 1824 Borrow lived in Norwich with his family.  Their home was in King’s Court, Willow6 Lane, a modest one-storey house in a cul-de-sac, which we have already described.  In King’s Court, Willow Lane, Borrow lived at intervals7 until his marriage in 1840, and his mother continued to live in the house until, in 1849, she agreed to join her son and daughter-in-law at Oulton.  Yet the house comes little into the story of Borrow’s life, as do the early houses of many great men of letters, nor do subsequent houses come into his story; the house at Oulton and the house at Hereford Square are equally barren of association; the broad highway and the windy heath were Borrow’s natural home.  He was never a “civilised” being; he never shone in drawing-rooms.  Let us, however, return to Borrow’s school-days, of which the records are all too scanty8, and not in the least invigorating.  p. 45The Norwich Grammar School has an interesting tradition.  We pass to the cathedral through the beautiful Erpingham Gate built about 1420 by Sir Thomas Erpingham, and we find the school on the left.  It was originally a chapel9, and the porch is at least five hundred years old.  The schoolroom is sufficiently10 old-world-looking for us to imagine the schoolboys of past generations sitting at the various desks.  The school was founded in 1547, but the registers have been lost, and so we know little of its famous pupils of earlier days.  Lord Nelson and Rajah Brooke are the two names of men of action that stand out most honourably11 in modern times among the scholars.  In literature Borrow had but one schoolfellow, who afterwards came to distinction—James Martineau.  Borrow’s headmaster was the Reverend Edward Valpy, who held the office from 1810 to 1829, and to whom is credited the destruction of the school archives.  Borrow’s two years of the Grammar School were not happy ones.  Borrow, as we have shown, was not of the stuff of which happy schoolboys are made.  He had been a wanderer—Scotland, Ireland, and many parts of England had assisted in a fragmentary education; he was now thirteen years of age, and already a vagabond at heart.  But let us hear Dr. Augustus Jessopp, who was headmaster of the same Grammar School from 1859 to 1879.  Writing of a meeting of old Norvicensians to greet the Rajah, Sir James Brooke, in 1858, when there was a great “whip” of the “old boys,” Dr. Jessopp tells us that Borrow, then living at Yarmouth, did not put in an appearance among his schoolfellows:  
My belief is that he never was popular among them, that he never attained13 a high place in the school, and he was a “free boy.”  In those days there were a certain number of day boys at Norwich school, who were nominated by members of the Corporation, and who paid no tuition fees; they had to submit to a certain amount of snubbing at the hands of the boarders, who for the most part were the sons of the county gentry14.  Of course, such a proud boy as George Borrow would resent this, and it seems to have rankled15 with him all through his life. . . .  To talk of Borrow as a “scholar” is absurd.  “A picker-up of learning’s crumbs” he was, but he was absolutely without any of the training or the instincts of a scholar.  He had had little education till he came to Norwich, and was at the Grammar School little more than two years.  It is pretty certain that he knew no Greek when he entered there, and he never seems to have acquired more than the elements of that language.
p. 46Yet the only real influence that Borrow carried away from the Grammar School was concerned with foreign languages.  He did take to the French master and exiled priest, Thomas d’Eterville, a native of Caen, who had emigrated to Norwich in 1793.  D’Eterville taught French, Italian, and apparently16, to Borrow, a little Spanish; and Borrow, with his wonderful memory, must have been his favourite pupil.  In the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of Lavengro he is pleasantly described by his pupil, who adds, with characteristic “bluff,” that d’Eterville said “on our arrival at the conclusion of Dante’s Hell, ‘vous serez un jour un grand philologue, mon cher.’”
Borrow’s biographers have dwelt at length upon one episode of his schooldays—the flogging he received from Valpy for playing truant17 with three other boys.  One, by name John Dalrymple, faltered18 on the way, the two faithful followers19 of George in his escapade being two brothers named Theodosius and Francis Purland, whose father kept a chemist’s shop in Norwich.  The three boys wandered away as far as Acle, eleven miles from Norwich, whence they were ignominiously20 brought back and birched.  John Dalrymple’s brother Arthur, son of a distinguished21 Norwich surgeon, who became Clerk of the Peace at Norwich in 1854, and died in 1868, has left a memorandum22 concerning Borrow, from which I take the following extract:
I was at school with Borrow at the Free School, Norwich, under the Rev12. E. Valpy.  He was an odd, wild boy, and always wanting to turn Robinson Crusoe or Buccaneer.  My brother John was about Borrow’s age, and on one occasion Borrow, John, and another, whose name I forget, determined23 to run away and turn pirates.  John carried an old horse pistol and some potatoes as his contribution to the general stock, but his zeal24 was soon exhausted25, he turned back at Thorpe Lunatic Asylum26; but Borrow went off to Yarmouth, and lived on the Caister Denes for a few days.  I don’t remember hearing of any exploits.  He had a wonderful facility for learning languages, which, however, he never appears to have turned to account.
James Martineau, afterwards a popular preacher and a distinguished theologian of the Unitarian creed27, here comes into the story.  He was a contemporary with Borrow at the Norwich Grammar School as already stated, but the two boys had little in common.  There was nothing of the vagabond about James Martineau, and concerning Borrow—p. 47if on no other subject—he would probably have agreed with his sister Harriet, whose views we shall quote in a later chapter.  In Martineau’s Memoirs29, voluminous and dull, there is only one reference to Borrow; [47] but a correspondent once ventured to approach the eminent30 divine concerning the rumour31 as to Martineau’s part in the birching of the author of The Bible in Spain, and received the following letter:
35 Gordon Square, London, W.C., December 6, 1895.
Dear Sir,—Two or three years ago Mr. Egmont Hake (author, I think, of a life of Gordon) sought an interview with me, as reputed to be Borrow’s sole surviving schoolfellow, in order to gather information or test traditions about his schooldays.  This was with a view to a memoir28 which he was compiling, he said, out of the literary remains32 which had been committed to him by his executors.  I communicated to him such recollections as I could clearly depend upon and leave at his disposal for publication or for suppression as he might think fit.  Under these circumstances I feel that they are rightfully his, and that I am restrained from placing them at disposal elsewhere unless and until he renounces33 his claim upon them.  But though I cannot repeat them at length for public use, I am not precluded34 from correcting inaccuracies in stories already in circulation, and may therefore say that Mr. Arthur Dalrymple’s version of the Yarmouth escapade is wrong in making his brother John a partner in the transaction.  John had quite too much sense for that; the only victims of Borrow’s romance were two or three silly boys—mere lackeys35 of Borrow’s commanding will—who helped him to make up a kit36 for the common knapsack by pilferings out of their fathers’ shops.
The Norwich gentleman who fell in with the boys lying in the hedgerow near the half-way inn knew one of them, and wormed out of him the drift of their enterprise, and engaging a postchaise packed them all into it, and in his gig saw them safe home.
It is true that I had to hoist37 (not “horse”) Borrow for his flogging, but not that there was anything exceptional or capable of leaving permanent scars in the infliction38.  Mr. Valpy was not given to excess of that kind.
I have never read Lavengro, and cannot give any opinion about the correct spelling of the “Exul sacerdos” name.
Borrow’s romance and William Taylor’s love of paradox39 would doubtless often run together, like a pair of well-matched steeds, and carry them away in the same direction.  But there was a strong—almost wild—religious sentiment in Borrow, of which only faint traces appear in W. T.  In Borrow it had always a tendency to pass from a sympathetic to an antipathetic form.  He p. 48used to gather about him three or four favourite schoolfellows, after they had learned their class lesson and before the class was called up, and with a sheet of paper and book on his knee, invent and tell a story, making rapid little pictures of each dramatis persona that came upon the stage.  The plot was woven and spread out with much ingenuity40, and the characters were various and well discriminated41.  But two of them were sure to turn up in every tale, the Devil and the Pope, and the working of the drama invariably had the same issue—the utter ruin and disgrace of these two potentates42.  I had often thought that there was a presage43 here of the mission which produced The Bible in Spain.—I am, dear sir, very truly yours,
James Martineau.
Yet it is amusing to trace the story through various phases.  Dr. Martineau’s letter was the outcome of his attention being called to a statement made in a letter written by a lady in Hampstead to a friend in Norwich, which runs as follows:
11th Nov. 1893.
Dr. Martineau, to amuse some boys at a school treat, told us about George Borrow, his schoolfellow: he was always reading adventures of smugglers and pirates, etc., and at last, to carry out his ideas, got a set of his schoolfellows to promise to join him in an expedition to Yarmouth, where he had heard of a ship that he thought would take them.  The boys saved all the food they could from their meals, and what money they had, and one morning started very early to walk to Yarmouth.  They got halfway—to Blofield, I think—when they were so tired they had to rest by the roadside, and eat their lunch.  While they were resting a gentleman, whose son was at the Free School, passed in his gig.  He thought it was very odd so many boys, some of whom he had seen, should be waiting about, so he drove back and asked them if they would come to dine with him at the inn.  Of course they were only too glad, poor boys: but as soon as he had got them all in he sent his servant with a letter to Mr. Valpy, who sent a coach and brought them all back.  You know what a cruel man that Dr. V. was.  He made Dr. Martineau take poor Borrow on his back, “horse him,” I think he called it, and flogged him so that Dr. M. said he would carry the marks for the rest of his life, and he had to keep his bed for a fortnight.  The other boys got off with lighter44 punishment, but Borrow was the ringleader.  Those were the “good old times”!  I have heard Dr. M. say that not for another life would he go through the misery45 he suffered as “town boy” at that school.
Miss Frances Power Cobbe, who lived next door to Borrow in Hereford Square, Brompton, in the ’sixties, as we shall see later, has a word to say on the point:
p. 49Dr. Martineau once told me that he and Borrow had been schoolfellows at Norwich some sixty years before.  Borrow had persuaded several of his other companions to rob their fathers’ tills, and then the party set forth to join some smugglers on the coast.  By degrees the truants46 all fell out of line and were picked up, tired and hungry, along the road, and brought back to Norwich School, where condign47 chastisement48 awaited them.  George Borrow, it seems, received his large share horsed on James Martineau’s back!  The early connection between the two old men, as I knew them, was irresistibly49 comic to my mind.  Somehow when I asked Mr. Borrow once to come and meet some friends at our house he accepted our invitation as usual, but, on finding that Dr. Martineau was to be of the party, hastily withdrew his acceptance on a transparent50 excuse; nor did he ever after attend our little assemblies without first ascertaining51 that Dr. Martineau was not to be present. 
Mr. Valpy of the Norwich Grammar School is scarcely to be blamed that he was not able to make separate rules for a quite abnormal boy.  Yet, if he could have known, Borrow was better employed playing truant and living up to his life-work as a glorified52 vagabond than in studying in the ordinary school routine.  George Borrow belonged to a type of boy—there are many such—who learn much more out of school than in its bounds; and the boy Borrow, picking up brother vagabonds in Tombland Fair, and already beginning, in his own peculiar53 way, his language craze, was laying the foundations that made Lavengro possible.

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