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CHAPTER XVIII Borrow’s Spanish Circle
 There are many interesting personalities1 that pass before us in Borrow’s three separate narratives3, as they may be considered, of his Spanish experiences.  We would fain know more concerning the two excellent secretaries of the Bible Society—Samuel Brandram and Joseph Jowett.  We merely know that the former was rector of Beckenham and was one of the Society’s secretaries until his death in 1850; that the latter was rector of Silk Willoughby in Lincolnshire, and belonged to the same family as Jowett of Balliol.  But there are many quaint6 characters in Borrow’s own narrative4 to whom we are introduced.  There is Maria Diaz, for example, his landlady7 in the house in the Calle de Santiago in Madrid, and her husband, Juan Lopez, also assisted Borrow in his Bible distribution.  Very eloquent8 are Borrow’s tributes to the pair in the pages of The Bible in Spain.  “Honour to Maria Diaz, the quiet, dauntless, clever, Castilian female!  I were an ingrate9 not to speak well of her.”  We get a glimpse of Maria and her husband long years afterwards—a pensioner10 in a Spanish almshouse revealing himself as the son of Borrow’s friends.  Eduardo Lopez was only eight years of age when Borrow was in Madrid, and he really adds nothing to our knowledge.  Then there were those two incorrigible12 vagabonds—Antonio Buchini, his Greek servant with an Italian name, and Benedict Mol, the Swiss of Lucerne, who turns up in all sorts of improbable circumstances as the seeker of treasure in the Church of St. James of Compostella—only a masterly imagination could have made him so interesting.  Concerning these there is nothing to supplement Borrow’s own story.  But we have attractive glimpses of Borrow in the frequently quoted narrative of Colonel Napier, and this is so illuminating13 that I venture to reproduce it at greater length than previous biographers have done.  Edward Elers Napier, who was born p. 131in 1808, was the son of one Edward Elers of the Royal Navy.  His widow married the famous Admiral Sir Charles Napier, who adopted her four children by her first husband.  Edward Elers, the younger, or Edward Napier, as he came to be called, was educated at Sandhurst and entered the army, serving for some years in India.  Later his regiment15 was ordered to Gibraltar, and it was thence that he made several sporting excursions into Spain and Morocco.  Later he served in Egypt, and when, through ill-health, he retired16 in 1843 on half-pay, he lived for some years in Portugal.  In 1854 he returned to the army and did good work in the Crimea, becoming a lieutenant-general in 1864.  He died in 1870.  He wrote, in addition to these Excursions, several other books, including Scenes and Sports in Foreign Lands.  It was during his military career at Gibraltar that he met George Borrow at Seville, as the following extracts from his book testify.  Borrow’s pretension17 to have visited the East is characteristic—and amusing:—  
1839.  Saturday 4th.—Out early, sketching18 at the Alcazar.  After breakfast it set in a day of rain, and I was reduced to wander about the galleries overlooking the “patio.”  Nothing so dreary19 and out of character as a rainy day in Spain.  Whilst occupied in moralising over the dripping water-spouts, I observed a tall, gentlemanly-looking man, dressed in a zamarra, leaning over the balustrades, and apparently20 engaged in a similar manner with myself.  Community of thoughts and occupation generally tends to bring people together.  From the stranger’s complexion22, which was fair, but with brilliant black eyes, I concluded he was not a Spaniard; in short, there was something so remarkable23 in his appearance that it was difficult to say to what nation he might belong.  He was tall, with a commanding appearance; yet, though apparently in the flower of manhood, his hair was so deeply tinged24 with the winter of either age or sorrow as to be nearly snow-white.  Under these circumstances, I was rather puzzled as to what language I should address him in.  At last, putting a bold face on the matter, I approached him with a “Bonjour, monsieur, quel triste temps!”
“Yes, sir,” replied he in the purest Parisian accent; “and it is very unusual weather here at this time of the year.”
“Does ‘monsieur’ intend to be any time at Seville?” asked I.  He replied in the affirmative.  We were soon on a friendly footing, and from his varied25 information I was both amused and instructed.  Still I became more than ever in the dark as to his nationality; I found he could speak English as fluently as French.  I tried him on the Italian track; again he was perfectly26 at home.  He had a Greek servant, to whom he gave his orders in Romaïc.  p. 132He conversed27 in good Castilian with “mine host”; exchanged a German salutation with an Austrian Baron28, at the time an inmate29 of the fonda; and on mentioning to him my morning visit to Triano, which led to some remarks on the gypsies, and the probable place from whence they derived30 their origin, he expressed his belief that it was from Moultan, and said that, even to this day, they retained many Moultanee and Hindoostanee expressions, such as “pánee” (water), “buree pánee” (the sea), etc.  He was rather startled when I replied “in Hindee,” but was delighted on finding I was an Indian, and entered freely, and with depth and acuteness, on the affairs of the East, most of which part of the world he had visited.
In such varied discourse31 did the hours pass so swiftly away that we were not a little surprised when Pépé, the “mozo” (and I verily believe all Spanish waiters are called Pépé), announced the hour of dinner; after which we took a long walk together on the banks of the river.  But, on our return, I was as much as ever in ignorance as to who might be my new and pleasant acquaintance.
I took the first opportunity of questioning Antonio Baillie (Buchini) on the subject, and his answer only tended to increase my curiosity.  He said that nobody knew what nation the “mysterious Unknown” belonged to, nor what were his motives32 for travelling.  In his passport he went by the name of —, and as a British subject, but in consequence of a suspicion being entertained that he was a Russian spy, the police kept a sharp look-out over him.  Spy or no spy, I found him a very agreeable companion; and it was agreed that on the following day we should visit together the ruins of Italica.
May 5.—After breakfast, the “Unknown” and myself, mounting our horses, proceeded on our expedition to the ruins of Italica.  Crossing the river, and proceeding33 through the populous34 suburb of Triano, already mentioned, we went over the same extensive plain that I had traversed in going to San Lucar, but keeping a little more to the right a short ride brought us in sight of the Convent of San Isidrio, surrounded by tall cypress35 and waving date-trees.  This once richly-endowed religious establishment is, together with the small neighbouring village of Santi Ponci, I believe, the property of the Duke of Medina Coeli, at whose expense the excavations36 are now carried on at the latter place, which is the ancient site of the Roman Italica.
We sat down on a fragment of the walls, and sadly recalling the splendour of those times of yore, contrasted with the desolation around us, the “Unknown” began to feel the vein37 of poetry creeping through his inward soul, and gave vent14 to it by reciting, with great emphasis and effect, and to the astonishment38 of the wondering peasant, who must have thought him “loco,” the following well-known and beautiful lines:—
“Cypress and ivy39, weed and wallflower, grown,
   Matted and massed together, hillocks heap’d
p. 133On what were chambers40, arch crush’d, column strown
   In fragments, choked up vaults41, and frescoes42 steep’d
In subterranean43 damps, where the owl11 peep’d,
   Deeming it midnight; Temples, baths, or halls—
Pronounce who can: for all that Learning reap’d
   From her research hath been, that these are walls.”
I had been too much taken up with the scene, the verses, and the strange being who was repeating them with so much feeling, to notice the approach of one who now formed the fourth person of our party.  This was a slight female figure, beautiful in the extreme, but whose tattered44 garments, raven45 hair (which fell in matted elf-locks over her naked shoulders), swarthy complexion, and flashing eyes, proclaimed to be of the wandering tribe of “gitanos.”  From an intuitive sense of natural politeness she stood with crossed arms, and a slight smile on her dark and handsome countenance46, until my companion had ceased, and then addressed us in the usual whining47 tone of supplication48, with “Caballeritos, una limosita!  Dios se lo pagara a ustedes!”  (“Gentlemen, a little charity!  God will repay it to you!”)  The gypsy girl was so pretty, and her voice so sweet, that I involuntarily put my hand in my pocket.
“Stop!” said the “Unknown.”  “Do you remember what I told you about the Eastern origin of these people?  You shall see I am correct.  Come here, my pretty child,” said he in Moultanee, “and tell me where are the rest of your tribe?”
The girl looked astounded49, replied in the same tongue, but in broken language; when, taking him by the arm, she said, in Spanish: “Come, caballero; come to one who will be able to answer you;” and she led the way down amongst the ruins towards one of the dens50 formerly51 occupied by the wild beasts, and disclosed to us a set of beings scarcely less savage52.  The sombre walls of this gloomy abode53 were illumined by a fire, the smoke from which escaped through a deep fissure54 in the massy roof; whilst the flickering55 flames threw a blood-red glare on the bronzed features of a group of children, of two men, and a decrepit56 old hag; who appeared busily engaged in some culinary preparations.
On our entrance, the scowling57 glance of the males of the party, and a quick motion of the hand towards the folds of the “faja,” caused in me, at least, anything but a comfortable sensation; but their hostile intentions, if ever entertained, were immediately removed by a wave of the hand from our conductress, who, leading my companion towards the sibyl, whispered something in her ear.  The old crone appeared incredulous.  The “Unknown” uttered one word; but that word had the effect of magic; she prostrated58 herself at his feet, and in an instant, from an object of suspicion he became one of worship to the whole family, to whom, on taking leave, he made a handsome present, and departed with their united blessings59, to the astonishment of myself, and what looked very like terror in our Spanish guide.
p. 134I was, as the phrase goes, dying with curiosity, and, as soon as we mounted our horses, exclaimed, “Where, in the name of goodness, did you pick up your acquaintance and the language of these extraordinary people?”  “Some years ago, in Moultan,” he replied.  “And by what means do you possess such apparent influence over them?”  But the “Unknown” had already said more than he perhaps wished on the subject.  He drily replied that he had more than once owed his life to gipsies, and had reason to know them well; but this was said in a tone which precluded60 all further queries61 on my part.&nb............
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