'Hard languages' without travel

Travel and direct experience seems not to have been essential for linguists in the 19th century, as I’ve been reminded by reading Edward Thomas’ Literary Pilgrim (1917) today.


Here is George Borrow, in Norfolk: 

At Norwich in 1819, in Tuck’s Court, St. Giles’s, he was articled clerk to Messrs. Simpson and Rackham, solicitors, living with Simpson in the Upper Close. His desk now, perhaps, for the first time served the purpose of a young man who was learning Welsh, Danish, Hebrew, Arabic, Gaelic, and Armenian.

And here in Suffolk the wonderful Edward Fitzgerald, translating the Persian of Omar Khayyam in the depths of the countryside without the slightest desire to go further than Cambridge and London, and once as far as Bath to see his sister.