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Letters of George Borrow - to the British and Foreign Bible Society
by George Borrow
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I was shown several beautifully illuminated missals and other manuscripts, but the one which most arrested my attention, I scarcely need say why, bore the following title:—

Forma sive ordinatio Capelli illustrissimi et xtianissimi principis Henrici sexti Regis Anglie et Francie am diu Hibernie descipta serenissio principi Alfonso Regi Portugalie illustri per humilem servitorem sm Willm Sav Decanum capelli supradicti.

It seemed a voice from the olden times of my dear native land. This library and picture-gallery had been formed by one of the latter Bishops, a person of commendable learning and piety.

In the evening I dined with Don Joze d'Azveto and his brother; the latter soon left us, in order to attend to his military duties. My friend and myself had then much conversation of considerable interest. He lamented feelingly the deplorable state of ignorance in which his countrymen were at present buried, and said that his friend the Governor and himself were endeavouring to establish a school in the vicinity, and that they had made application to the Government for the use of an empty convent called the Espinhero, or thorn-tree, at about a league's distance, and that they had little doubt of their request being complied with. I had before told him who I was; and now, after expressing my joy at the plan which he had in contemplation, I urged him in the most pressing manner to use all his influence to cause the knowledge of the Scripture to be the basis of the education of the pupils in the intended school, and added that half of the Testaments and Bibles which I had brought with me to Evora were heartily at his service. He instantly gave me his hand, [and] said he accepted my offer with the greatest pleasure, and would do all in his power to further my views, which were in many respects his own. I now told him that I did not come to Portugal with the view of introducing the dogmas of any particular sect, but with the hope of introducing the Bible, which is the well-head of all that is useful and conducive to the happiness of society and individuals; that I cared not what people called themselves, provided they read the Scripture, for that where the Scripture was read neither priestcraft nor tyranny could long exist; and instanced my own country, the cause of whose freedom and happiness was the Bible, and that only, for that before the days of Tyndal it was the seat of ignorance, oppression, and cruelty, and that after the fall of ignorance, the oppression and cruelty soon ceased, for that the last persecutor of the Bible, the last upholder of ignorance—the bloody and infamous Mary—was the last tyrant who had sat on the throne of England. We did not part till the night was considerably advanced; and the next day I sent him the books, in the steadfast hope that a bright and glorious morning was about to rise upon the night which had so long cast its dreary shadow over the regions of the Alemtejo.

The day after this interesting event, which was Saturday, I had more conversation with the man from Palmella. I asked him if in his journeys he had never been attacked by robbers; he answered 'No,' for that he generally travelled in company with others; 'however,' said he, 'were I alone I should have little fear, for I am well protected.' I said that I supposed he carried arms with him. 'No other arms than this,' said he, and he pulled out a long, desperate-looking knife of English manufacture, like that with which every Portuguese peasant is provided, and which I should consider a far more efficient weapon than a dagger. 'But,' said he, 'I do not place much confidence in the knife.' I then enquired in what were his hopes of protection. 'In this,' he replied; and unbuttoning his waistcoat he showed me a small bag, attached to his neck by a silken string. 'In this bag is an oracam (or prayer), written by a person of power; and as long as I carry it about me no ill can befall me.' Curiosity is one of the leading features of my character, and I instantly said that to be allowed to read the prayer would give me great pleasure. 'Well,' he replied, 'you are my friend, and I would do for you what I would do for few others. I will show it you.' He then asked me for my penknife and proceeded to unrip the bag, and took out of it a large piece of paper closely folded up. I hurried with it to my chamber, and commenced the examination of it. It was scrawled over in a very illegible hand, and was moreover much stained with perspiration, so that I had considerable difficulty in making myself master of its contents; but at last I accomplished the following literal translation of the charm, which was written in bad Portuguese, but which struck me at the time as being the most remarkable composition I had ever seen.



The Charm

'Just Judge and divine Son of the Virgin Maria, who wast born at Bethlehem, a Nazarene, and who wast crucified in the midst of all Jewry! I beseech Thee, O Lord, by virtue of Thy sixth day {137} that the body of me, Francisco, be not caught nor put to death by the hands of Justice! Pazes teco (pax tecum), pazes Cristo. May you receive peace, said Christ to His disciples. If the accursed Justice should distrust me, or have its eye on me, in order to take me, or to rob me, may it have an eye which shall not see me; may it have a mouth which shall not speak to me; may it have an ear which shall not hear me; may it have a hand which shall not seize me; may it have a foot which shall not overtake me; for may I be armed with the arms of Saint George; may I be covered with the cloak of Abraham; and embarked in the ark of Noah; so that it can neither see me, nor hear me, nor draw the blood from my body! I also conjure Thee, O Lord, by those three blessed crosses—by those three blessed chalices—by those three blessed clergymen—by those three consecrated hosts, that Thou give me that sweet company which Thou gavest the Virgin Maria, from the gates of Bethlehem even unto the portals of Jerusalem, that I may go and come with peace and joy with Jesus Christ, Son of the Virgin Maria, the prolific, yet nevertheless the eternal Virgin Maria our Lady.'

The woman of the house and her daughter had similar bags tied to their necks, containing charms, which they said prevented the witches having power to harm them. The belief in witchcraft is very prevalent amongst the peasantry of the Alemtejo, and I believe of other provinces of Portugal. This is one of the relics of the monkish system, the aim of which in all countries where it has existed, or does exist, seems to be to besot the minds of the people that they may be the more easily plundered and misled. The monks of the Greek and Syriac Churches likewise deal in this kind of ware, which they know to be poison, but which, as it brings them a price and fosters delusion by which they are maintained in luxury and idleness, they would rather vend than the wholesome drug.

The Sunday morning was fine, and the plain before the church of the Convent of San Francisco was thronged with people going to mass or returning. After having performed my morning devotions and breakfasted, I went down to the kitchen. The fine girl Geronima was seated by the fire. I asked if she had heard mass; she replied, 'No,' and that she did not intend to hear it. Upon my inquiring her motive for absenting herself, she replied that, since the friars had been expelled from their churches and convents, she had ceased to attend mass or to confess herself, for that the Government priests had no spiritual power, and consequently she never troubled them. She said the friars were holy men and charitable; for that every morning those of the convent over the way had fed forty poor persons with the remains of their meals of the preceding day, but that now these people were allowed to starve. I replied that the friars who had lived upon the dainties of the land could well afford to bestow a few bones on the poor, and that their doing so was not the effect of charity, but merely a part of their artful policy, by which they hoped to secure to themselves friends in time of need. The girl then said that as it was Sunday I should perhaps like to see some of her books, and without waiting for a reply she produced them. They consisted principally of popular stories and lives and miracles of saints, but amongst them was a translation of Volney's Ruins of Empires. I inquired how she became possessed of this book; she said that a young man, a great Constitutionalist, had given it her some months since and had pressed her much to read it, telling her that it was the best book in the world. Whereupon I told her that the author of the book in question was an emissary of Satan and an enemy of Jesus Christ and the souls of mankind; that he had written it with the sole view of bringing all religion into contempt, and that he had inculcated therein the doctrine that there was no future state nor rewards for the righteous nor punishments for the wicked. She made no reply, but going into another room, returned with her apron full of dry brushwood and faggot; all of this she piled upon the fire, and produced a bright blaze. She then took the book from my hand, and placed it upon the flaming pile; then sitting down, took her rosary out of her pocket, and told her beads till the volume was consumed. This was an Auto-da-fe, in the true sense of the word.

On the Monday and Tuesday I paid my usual visits to the fountain, and likewise rode about the neighbourhood for the purpose of circulating tracts. I dropped a great many in the favourite walks of the people of Evora, as I felt rather dubious of their accepting them had I proffered them with my own hands; whereas if they found them on the ground, I thought that curiosity might induce them to pick them up and examine them. I likewise on the Tuesday evening paid a farewell visit to my friend Don Azveto, as it was my intention to leave Evora on the Thursday following; in which view I had engaged a cabriolet of a man who informed me that he had served as a soldier in the Grande Armee of Napoleon, and had been present throughout the Russian campaign. He looked the image of a drunkard; his face was covered with carbuncles, and his breath impregnated with the fumes of strong waters. He wished much to converse with me in French, in the speaking of which language, it seems, he prided himself much; but I refused, and told him to speak the language of the country, or I would hold no discourse with him.

Wednesday was stormy, with occasional rain. On coming down I found that my friend from Palmella had departed, but several contrabandistas had arrived from Spain. They were mostly fine fellows, and, unlike the two I had seen the previous week, who were of much lower degree, were chatty and communicative; they spoke their native language and no other, and seemed to hold Portuguese in great contempt; their magnificent Spanish tones were heard to great advantage amidst the shrill chirping dialect of Portugal. I was soon in deep conversation with them, and was much pleased to find that all of them could read. I presented the eldest of them, a man of about fifty years of age, with a tract in Spanish. He examined it for some time with great attention; he then rose from his seat, and going into the middle of the apartment, began reading it aloud, slowly and emphatically; his companions gathered round him, and every now and then expressed their satisfaction at what they heard. The reader occasionally called upon me to explain particular passages which, as they referred to Scripture, he did not exactly understand, for not one of the party had ever seen either the Old or New Testament. He continued reading for nearly an hour until he had finished the tract, and at its conclusion the whole party were clamorous for similar ones, with which I was happy to be able to supply them. Most of them spoke of priestcraft and the monks with the utmost abhorrence, and said that they should prefer death to again submitting to the yoke which had formerly galled their necks. I questioned them very particularly respecting the opinion of their neighbours and acquaintances on this point, and they assured me that in their part of the Spanish frontier all were of the same mind, and that they cared as little for the Pope and his monks as they did for Don Carlos, for the latter was a dwarf (chicotito) and a tyrant, and the others were plunderers and robbers. I told them that they must beware of confounding religion with priestcraft, and that in their abhorrence of the latter they must not forget that there is a God and a Christ, to whom they must look for salvation, and whose word it was incumbent upon them to study on every occasion; whereupon they all expressed a devout belief in Christ and the Virgin.

These men, though in many respects far more enlightened than the surrounding peasantry, were in others quite as much in the dark; they believed in witchcraft and in the efficacy of particular charms. The night was very stormy, and about nine we heard a galloping towards the door, and then a loud knocking; it was opened, and in rushed a wild-looking man mounted upon a donkey. He wore a jerkin of sheepskin, called in Spanish zamarras, with breeches of the same as far down as his knee; his legs were bare. Around his sombrero, or shadowy hat, was tied a large quantity of the herb called in English rosemary, in Spanish romero, and in the rustic language of Portugal ellecrin, which last is a word of Scandinavian origin, and properly signifies the elfin plant. [It was probably] carried into the south by the Vandals or the Alani. The [man seemed] frantic with terror, and said that the witches had been pursuing him, and hovering over his head, for the last two leagues. He came from the Spanish frontier with meal and other articles; he informed us that his wife was following him and would soon arrive, and within a quarter of an hour she made her appearance, dripping with rain, and also mounted upon a donkey. I asked my friends the contrabandistas why he wore the rosemary in his hat, and they told me that it was good against witches and the mischances of the road. I had no time to argue against this superstition, for as the chaise was to be ready at five o'clock next morning I wished to make the most of the few hours which I could devote to rest.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Feb. 15, 1836)

The following Translations into the Romanee, or language of the Spanish Tchai, Tchabos, Gitanos, Callos, or Gypsies, were made by me at Badajoz during the first two weeks of January 1836.

THE 15TH CHAP. OF THE BLESSED GOSPEL OF SAINT LUKE.

[Here follow thirty-two verses of the translation, followed by a version of the Lord's Prayer.]

SPECIMENS OF THE HORRID CURSES IN USE AMONGST THE SPANISH GYPSIES.

[Here follow sixteen of these 'curses,' to each of which is added a rendering in English.]



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Feb. 29th, 1836) MADRID, CALLE DE LA ZARZA, Feby. 13th, 1836.

The game is now in our own hands, and it is our fault if we do not win it, for a little patience and a little prudence is all that is required. I came to Madrid without a single letter of introduction, and without knowing an individual there. I have now some powerful friends, and through the kindness of Sir Geo. Villiers, the British Ambassador at the Spanish Court, I have had an interview with that most singular man, Mendizabal, whom it is as difficult to get nigh as it is to approach the North Pole. I have obtained his promise that when matters are in some degree settled in this country, he will allow us to commence our operations; but the preposterous idea, which by some means or other he has embraced, that we have been endeavouring to foment disturbances amongst the slaves of Cuba, prevents his looking upon us with favourable eyes.

I now write for orders; if you have received my letters and journals (copious extracts from which you had better print), you will see how successful I have been in the Alemtejo, as our books are now for sale at Evora and Elvas, the two principal towns, and the Gospel of Christ has been preached to many who were ignorant of it even by name; you will see what I have been doing at Badajoz, especially amongst the Spanish Gypsies, whose dialect of the Rommany I have so far mastered as to be able to translate into it with tolerable ease. Now, until my friends here and myself can claim the fulfilment of Mr. Mendizabal's promise, do you wish me to go to Granada, or back to Badajoz, and finish my translation of St. Luke into Rommany, with the assistance of the Gypsies of those places, who are far more conversant with their native language than their brethren in other parts of Spain; or shall I return to Lisbon and exert all my interest towards the execution of the plan which I communicated first to Mr. Wilby, and then to yourself, namely, attempting to induce the Government to adopt the Scriptures in the schools which they are about to establish? Since I have been at Madrid I have obtained letters to individuals of great importance at Lisbon, and I know that Don Jose d'Azveto will do anything to serve me within the limits of reason. Therefore let the Committee be summoned, and a resolution forthwith adopted as to my next course. I think all our negotiations in the Peninsula may be brought to a successful termination in a few months; then you must send over an agent, a plain man of business, to engage colporteurs and to come to arrangements with booksellers, both in Spain and in the provincial towns of Portugal, but let him not be a hesitater and starter of needless doubts and difficulties; anything may be accomplished with a little shrewdness, a little boldness, and a great trust in God. I hope that my exertions have afforded satisfaction at home, but if not, let me be allowed to state that it was not in my power to accomplish more than I have. I have borne hunger and thirst, cold and fatigue, I have exposed myself to danger from robbers, and was near losing my life from the ruffian soldiery at Arrayolos, whose bullets so narrowly missed me. I have been as economical as possible, though the charges in Portugal for everything are enormous, and a stranger there is like a ship on shore, a mark for plunder. In Spain the people are far more honest, and the charges, though high, reasonable in comparison. Before leaving Lisbon I drew on excellent Mr. Wilby for 75 pounds; of this sum 12 pounds was remitted to Malaja, through which place I shall probably pass on my return to Lisbon. I have still remaining by me money sufficient for two months, I therefore need not enter into a detail of my expenses. I now wait for a letter from you; and when you write, please to remit to me a small letter of credit on some one at Madrid, or request Mr. Wilby to do so, as he has correspondents here, and in that case communicate my address to him. I give you below an abridgment of my interview with Mr. Mendizabal. I think it will make you laugh. I have the honour to remain, Revd. and dear Sir, etc.,

G. BORROW.



Interview with Mr. Mendizabal

At about 8 o'clock in the morning of the 7th inst. I went to the palace, where Mr. Mendizabal resides. I informed the usher that I came from the British Ambassador, whereupon I was shown into a room, and after waiting about three hours I was admitted to the presence of the Prime Minister of Spain. He was dressed in a morning gown and sat behind a table covered with papers. He is a man of about five-and-forty, somewhat above the middle height, with very handsome features, aquiline nose and large sparkling eyes; his hair is partly grey. I presented him the letter with which Sir Geo. Villiers had furnished me, and when he had read it, I said that before entering upon the matter which more immediately brought me to him, I begged leave to set him right upon a point relating to which he was labouring under considerable error: Sir Geo. Villiers had informed me that Mr. M. entertained an opinion that the Bible Society had been endeavouring to exercise an undue influence over the minds of the slave population of Cuba by means of their agents; but that I could assure him with truth, that neither directly nor indirectly had they exerted or attempted to exert any influence at all over any part of the inhabitants of that island, as they had neither sent agents there, nor held any communication with the residents. While I was saying this, he interrupted me several times, insisting that it was so, and that he had documents to prove it. I told him that it was probable he confounded the Bible Society with some other institution for the propagation of religion, perhaps with one of the missionary societies, more especially one of those belonging to the United States, which might have sent individuals to the island in question for the purpose of communicating religious instruction to the slaves—but all I could say was to no avail; he would have it that it was the British Bible Society who had despatched missionaries to Cuba to incite the blacks to rise up against their masters. The absurdity of this idea struck me so forcibly that it was with difficulty I restrained myself from laughing outright. I at last said that, whatever he might think to the contrary, the Committee of the Bible Society were by no means of that turbulent and outrageous disposition; that they were for the most part staid, quiet gentlemen, who attended to their own affairs, and a little, and but a little to the promulgation of Christ's Gospel, which, however, they too much respected to endeavour to kindle a spirit of insurrection anywhere, as they all know full well that it is the Word of God says that servants are to obey their masters at all times and occasions. I then requested permission to print the New Testament in Spanish at Madrid. He said he should not grant it, for that the New Testament was a very dangerous book, especially in disturbed times. I replied that I was not aware that the holy book contained any passages sanctioning blood-shedding and violence, but I rather thought that it abounded with precepts of an entirely opposite tendency; but he still persisted that it was an improper book. I must here observe that it was with the utmost difficulty I obtained an opportunity of explaining myself, on account of the propensity which he possesses of breaking in upon the discourse of the person who is addressing him; and at last, in self-defence, I was myself obliged to infringe the rules of conversation, and to hold on without paying any attention to his remarks—not that I gained much by so doing, for he plainly told me that he was an obstinate man, and that he never abandoned his opinions. I certainly do not think him the most tractable of men, but I am inclined to think that he is not ill-natured, as he preserved his temper very well during the interview, and laughed heartily at two or three of my remarks. At last he said: 'I will not give you permission now: but let the war be concluded, let the factious be beaten, and the case will be altered; come to me six months hence.' I then requested to be allowed to introduce into Spain a few copies of the New Testament in the Catalan dialect, as we had lately printed a most beautiful edition at London, but he still said 'No, no,' and when I asked if he had any objection to my calling again on the morrow and showing him a copy, he made use of these remarkable words: 'I do not wish you should come, lest you should convince me, and I do not wish to be convinced.'



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. April 2, 1836) Mar. 22, 1836, CALLE DE LA ZARZA, MADRID.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—I received your letter of the 8th inst., which gave me much pleasure, as I understood from it that my humble efforts had afforded satisfaction. I also received the two letters from St. Petersburg which were written by a dear friend of that place, to whom I shall trouble you to forward a letter as soon as I have an opportunity of writing, which at present I have not, as my time is much occupied.

I have to communicate to you what will not fail to be interesting. The Spanish press have taken up our affair, and I am at present engaged in attempting to lay the foundation of a Bible Society at Madrid, to accomplish which the editor of the influential newspaper, the Espanol, has promised me his assistance. There has already appeared in that journal a most brilliant article which gives the history of our Society, and states the advantages which would result to Spain from the establishment within its bosom of a society whose aim should be the propagation of the Scripture, in the Spanish language, amongst the population. Of this article I send extracts below, and shall probably, when I have more time, send the whole. The person whom we are looking forward to as a head of the projected institution is a certain Bishop, advanced in years, a person of great piety and learning, who has himself translated the New Testament in a manner, as I am informed, far superior to that of any of his predecessors; but I have not as yet seen it, and therefore cannot speak positively as to its merits. However, he is disposed to print and circulate it, and if the translation be really an excellent one it would not be unwise in us to patronise it, if by so doing we could induce him to co-operate with us in our plans for enlightening unhappy Spain. But more of this anon. I have little doubt that the time is almost at hand when the cause of God will triumph in this country, and I am exerting every means which I can devise in humbleness of heart to help to bring about an event so desirable. I intend to remain a few weeks longer at Madrid at all events, for the present moment is too fraught with interest to allow me to quit it immediately. As far as self is concerned I should rejoice to return instantly to Lisbon, for I am not partial to Madrid, its climate, or anything it can offer, if I except its unequalled gallery of pictures; but I did not come hither to gratify self but as a messenger of the Word.

May I take the liberty of begging you to write a line to my dear and revered friend Mr. Cunningham, informing him that I am in tolerable health, and that I hope to write myself speedily. The three letters which you say have not arrived were, I believe, destroyed by a servant for the sake of the postage, but I shall send you parts of my journal to supply the deficiency.



Extracts from the 'Espanol'

'The first founders of the Bible Societies (for by this name they were known) immediately comprehended their philosophic and civilising mission, and fulfilled the thought of its inventor. In a short period the circle of their action expanded itself, and not content with making Great Britain alone a participator of this salutary institution, they wished to extend it to all countries, and therefore called to their assistance the majority of the known languages. To all the quarters of the inhabited world they sent at their own expense agents to traverse the countries and discover the best means of disseminating the truths of the Bible, and to discover manuscripts of the ancient versions. They did more: convinced of the necessity of placing themselves above the miserable considerations of sectarian spirit, they determined that the text should not be accompanied by any species of note or commentary which might provoke the discord which unhappily reigns among the different fractions of Christianity, which separates more and more their views instead of guiding them to the religious end which they propose.

'Thus the doctrine of the Nazarene might be studied with equal success by the Greek schismatic and the Catholic Spaniard, by the sectary of Calvin and the disciple of Luther: its seed might bless at one and the same time the fruitful plains of Asia and the sterile sands of desert Arabia, the burning soil of India and the icy land of the ferocious Esquimaux. Antiquity knew no speedier means of conveying its ideas than the harangues which the orators pronounced from the summit of the tribune, amidst assemblies of thousands of citizens; but modern intelligence wished to discover other means infinitely more efficacious, more active, more rapid, more universal, and has invented the press. Thus it was that in the preceding ages the warm and animated words of the missionary were necessarily the only organ which Christianity had at command to proclaim its principles; but scarcely did this invention come to second the progress of modern civilisation, than it foresaw the future ally destined to complete the intelligent and social labour which it had taken upon itself.'

(After stating what has been accomplished by the B. F. B. Society, and how many others have sprung up under her auspices in different lands, the article continues:)

'Why should Spain which has explored the New World, which has generalised inoculation in order to oppose the devastations of a horrid pest, which has always distinguished herself by zeal in labouring in the cause of humanity—why should she alone be destitute of Bible Societies? Why should a nation eminently Catholic continue isolated from the rest of Europe, without joining in the magnificent enterprise in which the latter is so busily engaged?'

GEORGE BORROW.

(My best respects to Mr. Jowett.)



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. May 5, 1836) MADRID, No. 3, CALLE DE LA ZARZA, 20 April 1836

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—I have received your letter of the 6th inst., in which you request me to write to you a little more frequently, on the ground that my letters are not destitute of interest; your request, however, is not the principal reason which incites me to take up the pen at the present moment. Though I hope that I shall be able to communicate matter which will afford yourself and our friends at home subject for some congratulation, my more immediate object is to inform you of my situation, of which I am sure you have not the slightest conception.

For the last three weeks I have been without money, literally without a farthing. About a month ago I received fifteen pounds from Mr. Wilby, and returned him an order for twenty, he having, when I left Lisbon, lent me five pounds, on account, above what I drew for, as he was apprehensive of my being short of money before I reached Madrid. 12 pounds, 5s. of this I instantly expended for a suit of clothes, {153} my own being so worn, that it was impossible to appear longer in public with them. At the time of sending him the receipt I informed him that I was in need of money, and begged that he would send the remaining 30 pounds by return of post. I have never heard from him from that moment, though I have written twice. Perhaps he never received my letters, or I may not have received his, the post of Estremadura having been three times robbed; I can imagine no other reason. The money may still come, but I have given up all hopes of it, and am compelled to write home, though what I am to do till I can receive your answer I am at a loss to conceive. But God is above all, and I am far from complaining; but you would oblige me, upon receiving this, to procure me instantly a letter of credit on some house in Madrid. I believe Messrs. Hammersley of London have correspondents here. Whatever I undergo, I shall tell nobody my situation: it might hurt the Society and our projects here. I know enough of the world to be aware that it is considered as the worst of crimes to be without money. Above all, let me intreat you never to hint of this affair in any communication to Mr. Wilby; he is a most invaluable man, and he might take offence.

A week ago, after having spent much time in drawing up a petition, I presented it to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Censors. It was strongly backed by the Civil Governor of Madrid, within whose department the Censorship is. In this petition, after a preamble on the religious state of Spain, I requested permission to print the New Testament without note or comment, according to the version of Father Scio, and in the same form and size as the small edition of Paris, in order that the book might be 'al alcance asi de los pobres como de los ricos' (within the reach of the poor as well as of the wealthy). {154} The Ecclesiastical Board are at present consulting about it, as I was informed to-day, upon my repairing to their house for the purpose of knowing how matters were going on. I have hopes of success, having done all in my power to prevent a failure by making important friends since the moment of my arrival. I was introduced to the Governor by his most intimate acquaintance Synudi, the Deputy of Huelba, to whom I was introduced by the celebrated Alcala de Galiano, the Deputy of Cadiz, who will sooner or later be Prime Minister, and to him I was introduced by—but I will not continue, as I might run on for ever, much after the fashion as

'This is the house which Jack built.'

And now I have something to tell you which I think will surprise you, and which, strange as it may sound, is nevertheless true. The authority of the Pope in this country is in so very feeble and precarious a situation, that little more than a breath is required to destroy it, and I am almost confident that in less than a year it will be disowned. I am doing whatever I can in Madrid to prepare the way for an event so desirable. I mix with the people, and inform them who and what the Pope is, and how disastrous to Spain his influence has been. I tell them that the indulgences, which they are in the habit of purchasing, are of no more intrinsic value than so many pieces of paper, and were merely invented with the view of plundering them. I frequently ask: 'Is it possible that God, who is good, would sanction the sale of sin?' and, 'Supposing certain things are sinful, do you think that God, for the sake of your money, would permit you to perform them?' In many instances my hearers have been satisfied with this simple reasoning, and have said that they would buy no more indulgences. Moreover, the newspapers have, in two or three instances, taken up the subject of Rome upon national and political grounds. The Pope is an avowed friend of Carlos, and an enemy of the present Government, and in every instance has refused to acknowledge the Bishops who have been nominated to vacant sees by the Queen. Therefore the editors say, and very naturally, if the Pope does everything in his power to impede the progress of Spanish regeneration, it is high time to cut the ties which still link Spain to the papal chair. It is my sincere prayer, and the prayer of many of those who have the interest of Spain at heart, that The Man of Rome will continue in the course which he is at present pursuing, for by so doing he loses Spain, and then he is nothing. He is already laughed at throughout Italy—Ireland will alone remain to him—much good it may do him!

In respect to the Apocrypha, let me be permitted to observe that an anticipation of that difficulty was one of my motives for forbearing to request permission to print the entire Bible; and here I will hint that in these countries, until the inhabitants become Christian, it would be expedient to drop the Old Testament altogether, for if the Old accompany the New the latter will be little read, as the former is so infinitely more entertaining to the carnal man. Mr. Wilby in his [last] letter informs me that 30 Bibles have been sold in Lisbon within a short time, but that the demand for Testaments has not amounted to half that number. My best respects to Mr. Jowett.

G. B.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. June 1, 1836) MADRID, May 22, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—I write in the greatest hurry. I shall receive the permission, the Lord willing, in a few days; the Duke de Rivas has this moment told me so, and he is Minister of the Interior.

The Ecclesiastical Court declined deciding upon the matter, and left it entirely in the hands of the Ministers. Just as the English Ambassador was about to remind Mr. Mendizabal of his promise to me, the latter gentleman and his colleagues retired from office; a new Ministry was formed composed entirely of my friends, amongst them Alcala Galiano (turn to my last letter).

As soon as the Minister of Finance, with whom I am very intimate, returns from France, I shall request to be permitted to introduce the Catalan New Testament upon paying a reasonable duty.

I received Mr. Jackson's letter containing the money, and yours, also with money, and a rap on the knuckles besides; it was scarcely merited, as I can prove in five words.

Not having the Scripture to offer to the people, I was obliged to content myself with mentioning it to them; the people here know not the Scripture even by name, but they know a certain personage well enough, and as soon as the subject of religion is brought up they are sure to bring him forward, as they consider him the fountainhead of all religion. Those therefore in the situation of myself have three things at their option; to speak nothing—to speak lies—or to speak the truth. In simpleness of heart I thought proper to adopt the last principle as my line of conduct; I do not think I have erred, but I shall be more reserved in future.

In conclusion let me be permitted to observe that the last skirts of the cloud of papal superstition are vanishing below the horizon of Spain; whoever says the contrary either knows nothing of the matter or wilfully hides the truth.

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, most truly yours,

G. BORROW.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. June 2, 1836) 10 AT NIGHT, [MADRID, May 22, 1836.]

MY DEAR SIR,—There has been a partial disturbance at Madrid, and it is not impossible that the new Ministry will go out and Mr. M. be reinstated—which event, however, will make little difference to us, as the British Ambassador has promised to back the application which I shall instantly make. There are so many changes and revolutions here that nothing is certain even for a day. I wish to let you know what is going forward, and am aware that you will excuse two letters arriving at one time.

G. B.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. June 4, 1836) [MADRID], Monday night, half p. 11, May 30.

The post will presently depart, therefore I have no time to lose. Every thing, thank God, is again tranquil, and it appears that the present Ministry will stand its ground. I am just returned from the house of one of the Ministers; I can consequently speak pretty positively. The Queen will not accept their resignations, and the army is on their side. The Cortes have been dissolved. The whole Cabinet are of opinion that my petition is just and reasonable and ought to be granted. I have been requested to appear next Thursday at the Office, when I expect to receive the permission, or to hear that steps have been taken towards making it out.

The reason of Mr. Mendizabal's resignation was his inability to accomplish the removal of General Cordova from the head of the army. It is not for me to offer an opinion on the General's military talents, but he is much beloved by the soldiers, whose comforts and interests he has much attended to; to deprive him of command would therefore be attended with danger. I have no complaint to make against Mr. M.; he is a kind, well-meaning man, and had he remained in office I have no doubt that he would have acceded to my petition.

I hope you will pray that God will grant me wisdom, humbleness of spirit, and success in all that is right.

G. BORROW.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. July 11, 1836) CALLE SANTIAGO, No. 16 PISO 3RO, MADRID, June 30, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—As I have little doubt that you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of some intelligence from me, I write a few lines which I have no doubt will prove satisfactory to you, and in the course of a few days I hope to write again, when I shall probably be able to announce the happy termination of the affair which brought me to Spain.

The difficulties which I have had to encounter since I last wrote to you have been so many and formidable that I have been frequently on the verge of despairing ever to obtain permission to print the Gospel in Spain, which has become the most ardent wish of my heart. Only those who have been in the habit of dealing with Spaniards, by whom the most solemn promises are habitually broken, can form a correct idea of my reiterated disappointments and of the toil of body and agony of spirit which I have been subjected to. One day I have been told, at the Ministry, that I had only to wait a few moments and all I wished would be acceded to; and then my hopes have been blasted with the information that various difficulties, which seemed insurmountable, had presented themselves, whereupon I have departed almost broken-hearted; but the next day I have been summoned in a great hurry and informed that 'all was right,' and that on the morrow a regular authority to print the Scriptures would be delivered to me; but by that time fresh and yet more terrible difficulties had occurred—so that I became weary of my life.

During the greatest part of the last six weeks I have spent upon an average ten hours every day, dancing attendance on one or another of the Ministers, and when I have returned home I have been so fatigued that I have found it impossible to write, even to my nearest friends. The heat has been suffocating, for the air seems to be filled with flaming vapours, and the very Spaniards are afraid to stay out, and lie gasping and naked on their brick floors; therefore if you have felt disappointed in not having heard from me for a considerable time, the above statement must be my excuse.

During the last fortnight the aspect of my affair has become more favourable, and, notwithstanding all the disappointments I have met, I now look forward with little apprehension to the result. The English Ambassador, Mr. Villiers, has taken me by the hand in the most generous manner and has afforded me the most effectual assistance. He has spoken to all the Ministers, collectively and individually, and has recommended the granting of my petition in the strongest manner, pointing out the terrible condition of the people at present who are without religious instruction of any kind, and the impossibility of exercising any species of government over a nation of atheists, which the Spaniards will very shortly become if left to themselves. Whether moved by his arguments or by a wish to oblige a person of so much importance as the British Ambassador, the Cabinet of Madrid now exhibit a manifest willingness to do all in their power to satisfy me; and though by the law of Spain the publishing of the Scripture in the vulgar tongue without notes is forbidden, measures have been taken by which the rigor of the law can be eluded and the printer be protected, until such time as it shall be deemed prudent to repeal the law made, as is now generally confessed, in a time of ignorance and superstitious darkness.

I herewith send you a letter which I received some days since from Mr. Villiers; I have several others on the same subject, but I prefer sending this particular one as it is the last. Since I received it, the Ministers have met and discussed the petition, and the result was, as I have been informed, though not officially, in its favour.

You would oblige me by mentioning to his Lordship the President of the Bible Society the manner in which Mr. Villiers has befriended me, and to beg that he would express by letter an acknowledgment of the favour which I have received; and at the same time, I think that a vote of thanks from the Committee would not be amiss, as I may be again in need of Mr. V.'s assistance before I leave Spain. The interest which he has taken in this affair is the more surprising, as Mr. Graydon informed me that upon his applying to him he declined to interfere.

I saw Mr. Graydon twice or thrice. He left Madrid for Barcelona about a month since, because the heat of the former place in the summer months is more than he can bear, and as he found I was so far advanced, he thought he might be of more utility in Catalonia.

I have at present nothing more to say, and am so weak from heat and fatigue that I can hardly hold the pen. I have removed from my old lodgings to those which Mr. Graydon occupied; therefore when you write, direct as above. With my best remembrances to Mr. Jowett, I remain, my dear Sir, very truly yours,

G. B.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. July 18, 1836) 7 July, 1836, MADRID, CALLE SANTIAGO, No. 16 PISO 3RO.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—The affair is settled—thank God!!! and we may begin to print whenever we think proper.

Perhaps you have thought I have been tardy in accomplishing the business which brought me to Spain; but to be able to form a correct judgment you ought to be aware of all the difficulties which I have had to encounter, and which I shall not enumerate; I shall content myself with observing that for a thousand pounds I would not undergo again all the mortifications and disappointments of the last two months.

The present Ministry have been afraid to offend the clergy, and with great reason, as they are not of the movement or radical party, and many of their friends are bigoted papists; nevertheless, influenced by the pressing applications of the British Ambassador and being moreover well-disposed to myself, they have consented to the printing of the Testament; but it must be done in a private manner. I have just had a long interview with Mr. Isturitz, who told me that if we were resolved upon the enterprise we had best employ the confidential printer of the Government, who would keep the matter secret; as in the present state of affairs he would not answer for the consequences if it were noised abroad. I of course expressed my perfect readiness to comply with so reasonable a request.

I will now candidly confess to you that I do not think that the present Ministry, or, as it is generally called, the Court Ministry, will be able to stand its ground; nevertheless a change of Ministry would not alter the aspect of our affair in the least, for if the other or movement party come in, the liberty of the press (a great misfortune for Spain) would be probably granted; at all events, the influence of the English Ambassador would be greater than it is even at present, and upon his assistance I may rely at all times and occasions.

I am not aware that there is any great necessity for my continuance in Spain; nevertheless, should you think there is, you have only to command. But I cannot help thinking that in a month or two when the heats are over Mr. Graydon might return, as nothing very difficult remains to be accomplished, and I am sure that Mr. Villiers at my entreaty would extend to him the patronage with which he has honoured me. But, as I before observed, I am ready to do whatever the Bible Society may deem expedient.

Do not forget the two letters of thanks to the Ambassador, and it would not be unwise to transmit a vote of thanks to 'His Excellence Antonio Alcala Galiano, President of Marine,' who has been of great assistance to me.

I have the honour to be, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient servant,

G. B.

P.S.—In about six weeks I shall want some more money.

My best remembrances to Mr. Jowett.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. July 30th, 1836) MADRID, July 19th, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—As I believe you have no account of my proceedings at Badajoz, I send you the following which will perhaps serve for your 'Monthly Extracts.' I have corrected and improved my translation of the Lord's Prayer into Rommany, and should it be printed, let it be done so with care. Perhaps in a few days I shall send a general account of what I have been about since my arrival at Madrid, but I am at present very feeble and languid, and can scarcely hold a pen. There is nothing new here, all is quiet, and I hope will continue so. My time does not pass very agreeably, I am without books or conversation, for all my acquaintance have left the place to escape from the intolerable heat. I often sigh for Russia, and wish I was there, editing Mandchou or Armenian; pray remember me kindly to Mr. Jowett and to my other friends. I remain, etc.

G. BORROW.

About one o'clock in the afternoon of the 6th of January, 1836, I crossed the bridge of the Guadiana, a boundary river between Portugal and Spain, and entered Badajoz, a strong Spanish town containing about 8000 inhabitants, and founded by the Romans. I instantly returned thanks to God who had protected me during a journey of five days through the wilds of Alemtejo, the province of Portugal the most infested by robbers and desperate characters, and which I had traversed with no other human companion than a lad, nearly idiotic, who was to convey back the mules which carried myself and baggage. It was not my intention to make much stay at Badajoz, and as a vehicle would set out for Madrid the day next but one after my arrival, I proposed to depart therein for the capital of Spain.

The next morning I was standing at the door of the inn where I had taken up my residence; the weather was gloomy, and rain seemed to be at hand. I was thinking of the state of the country I had lately entered, which was involved in bloody anarchy and confusion, and where the ministers of a religion, falsely styled Catholic and Christian, were blowing the trump of war, instead of preaching the love-engendering words of the blessed Gospel. Suddenly two men wrapped in long cloaks came down the narrow and almost deserted street. They were about to pass me, and the face of the nearest was turned full towards me. I knew to whom the countenance which he displayed must belong, and I touched him on the shoulder. The man stopped and his companion also; I said a certain word, to which after an exclamation of surprise he responded in the manner which I expected. The men were of that singular family, or race, which has diffused itself over every part of the civilized globe, and the members of which are known as Gypsies, Bohemians, Gitanos, Zigani, and by many other names, but whose proper appellation seems to be 'Rommany,' from the circumstance that in many and distant countries they so style themselves, and also the language which they speak amongst each other. We began conversing in the Spanish dialect of this language, with which I was tolerably well acquainted. Upon inquiring of my two newly-made acquaintances whether there were many of their people at Badajoz and in the vicinity, they informed me that there were nine or ten families residing in the town, and that there were others at Merida, a town about nine leagues distant. I asked by what means they supported themselves, and they replied that they and their brethren gained a livelihood by jobbing in horses, mules, etc., but that all those in Badajoz were very poor, with the exception of one man, who was exceedingly mubalballo or rich, as he was in possession of many horses and other beasts. They removed their cloaks for a moment, and I saw that their undergarments were rags.

They left me in haste, and went about the town informing the rest that a stranger was arrived, who spoke Rommany as well as themselves, who had the eyes and face of a Gitano, and seemed to be of the eratti, or blood. In less than half-an-hour the street before the inn was filled with the men, women, and children of Egypt. I went out amongst them, and my heart sank within me as I surveyed them; so much squalidness, dirt, and misery I had never before seen amongst a similar number of human beings. But the worst of all was the evil expression of their countenances, plainly denoting that they were familiar with every species of crime; and it was not long before I found that their countenances did not belie them. After they had asked me an infinity of questions, and felt my hands, face, and clothes, they retired to their homes. My meeting with these wretched people was the reason of my remaining at Badajoz a much longer time than I originally intended. I wished to become better acquainted with their condition and manners, and above all to speak to them about Christ and His Word, for I was convinced that should I travel to the end of the universe I should meet with none who were more in need of Christian exhortation, and I accordingly continued at Badajoz for nearly three weeks.

During this time I was almost constantly amongst them, and as I spoke their language and was considered by them as one of themselves, I had better opportunities of coming to a fair conclusion respecting their character than any other person, whether Spaniard or foreigner, could have hoped for, not possessed of a similar advantage. The result of my observations was a firm belief that the Spanish Gitanos are the most vile, degraded, and wretched people upon the earth.

In no part of the world does the Gypsy race enjoy a fair fame and reputation, there being no part where they are not considered, and I believe with justice, as cheats and swindlers; but those of Spain are not only all this, but far more. The Gypsies of England, Russia, etc., live by fraud of various descriptions, but they seldom commit acts of violence, and their vices are none or very few; the men are not drunkards, nor are the women harlots; but the Gypsy of Spain is a cheat in the market-place, a brigand and murderer on the high-road, and a drunkard in the wine-shop, and his wife is a harlot and thief on all times and occasions. The excessive wickedness of these outcasts may perhaps be attributed to their having abandoned their wandering life and become inmates of the towns, where to the original bad traits of their character they have super-added the evil and vicious habits of the rabble. Their mouths teem with abomination, and in no part of the world have I heard such frequent, frightful, and extraordinary cursing as amongst them.

Religion they have none; they never attend mass, nor confess themselves, and never employ the names of God, Christ and the Virgin, but in imprecation and blasphemy. From what I learnt from them it appeared that their ancestors had some belief in metempsychosis, but they themselves laughed at the idea, and were decidedly of opinion that the soul perished when the body ceased to breathe; and the argument which they used was rational enough, so far as it impugned metempsychosis: 'We have been wicked and miserable enough in this life,' they said; 'why should we live again?'

I translated certain portions of Scripture into their dialect, which I frequently read to them, especially the parables of Lazarus and the Prodigal Son, and told them that the latter had been as wicked as themselves, and both had suffered as much or more; but that the sufferings of the former, who always looked forward to a blessed resurrection, were recompensed in the world to come by admission to the society of Abraham and the prophets, and that the latter, when he repented of his crimes, was forgiven and received into as much favour as the just son had always enjoyed. They listened with admiration, but alas! not of the truths, the eternal truths I was telling them, but at finding that their broken jargon could be written and read. The only words of assent to the heavenly doctrine which I ever obtained, and which were rather of the negative kind, were the following, from a woman: 'Brother, you tell us strange things, though perhaps you do not lie; a month since I would sooner have believed these tales, than that I should this day have seen one who could write Rommany.'

They possess a vast number of songs or couplets which they recite to the music of the guitar. For the purpose of improving myself in the language I collected and wrote down upwards of one hundred of these couplets, the subjects of which are horse-stealing, murder, and the various incidents of gypsy-life in Spain. Perhaps a collection of songs more characteristic of the people from whom they originated was never made, though amongst them are to be found some tender and beautiful thoughts, though few and far between, as a flower or shrub is here and there seen springing from the interstices of the rugged and frightful rocks of which are composed the mountains and sierras of Spain.

The following is their traditionary account of the expulsion of their fathers from Egypt. 'And it came to pass that Pharaoh the King collected numerous armies for the purpose of war; and after he had conquered the whole world, he challenged God to descend from heaven and fight him; but the Lord replied, "There is no one who shall fight with Me"; and thereupon the Lord opened a mountain, and He cast therein Pharaoh the King and all his numerous armies; so that the Egyptians remained without defence, and their enemies arose and scattered them wide abroad.'



To the Rev. A. Brandram

No. 16 CALLE DE SANTIAGO, MADRID, July 25th, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—I enclose you a letter from a Spanish gentleman who wishes to become a subscriber to the Society. He is a person of great respectability, great learning, and is likewise one of the editors of the Espanol, the principal newspaper in Spain. Should you accept his offer of becoming a correspondent, he may be of infinite service, as the newspaper which he superintends would be always open to the purposes of the Society. He has connections all over Spain, and no one could assist more effectually in diffusing the Scriptures when printed. He wishes very much to have an account of the proceedings of the Society, therefore any books you could send him relating thereto would be highly acceptable. Great things might be done in Spain, and I am convinced that if there was a Protestant church in Madrid it would be crammed.

I have spoken to Mr. Wood, an Englishman, the printer of the Espanol, who has the best printing presses in Spain, and he is willing to begin the work whenever you think proper: he will engage to bring it out in three months, in the same shape as the Catalan Testaments. In order that you may have as little trouble as possible, I have translated Dr. Usoz's letter. I have not thought fit to transmit the printed paper which he alludes to, as it would make this letter very bulky. It is an official account of his studies, and the honours he attained at the University.

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir,

Most truly yours,

G. BORROW.



TRANSLATION OF DR. USOZ'S LETTER.

Gentlemen of the British and Foreign Bible Society,

Having by good fortune become acquainted with your Agent, Mr. G. Borrow, at present residing in this city, and having learnt from him that I might take the liberty of addressing myself to you for the purpose of inquiring whether you would have any objection to insert my name in your list as a member, I avail myself of the present opportunity to do so, and hope that my wishes will be gratified. I believe it is necessary for every member to pay 1 pound sterling, or 100 reals of our coin, annually; perhaps you will inform me when, and in whose hands, I may deposit this sum. As I have no other object in this than to endeavour, by all the means in my power, to cause the Scriptures to be read as much as possible in my unhappy country, I should wish to be considered in the light of a correspondent, as I flatter myself that if you would consent, after taking the necessary precautions, to entrust me with copies of the Scripture, I should find no difficulty in circulating them in every province of my country.

Being fully convinced that nothing but the reading of the Bible can form the basis of solid liberty in Spain, I will employ every effort to promote it, if your philanthropic Society will assist me. It would answer no purpose to occupy your attention by speaking prolixly of the purity of my intention and my zeal; time and experience will speak either for or against me; I will merely enclose this printed paper, by which you will learn who he is who has taken the liberty of writing to you. It is superfluous to add that, should you consent to my desire, I should want all the notices and documents respecting your Society which you could supply me with.

As I possess some knowledge of English, you might avail yourselves of this language in your answer, provided the letters used be written clearly.

I have the honour, etc.

LUIS DE USOZ Y RIO.

P.S.—Should you direct to me directly, or by other means than the post, my address is: A D. Luis de Usoz y Rio, Calle de Santa Catalina, No. 12 nuevo, Madrid.



To J. Jackson, Esq.

(Endorsed: recd. Aug. 26th, 1836) MADRID, Aug. 10, 1836.

MY DEAR SIR,—I have received your two letters containing the 50 pounds and the resolution of the Society; I have likewise received Mr. Brandram's.

I shall make the provisional engagement [to print] as desired, and shall leave Madrid as soon as possible; but I must here inform you that I shall find much difficulty in returning to England, as all the provinces are disturbed in consequence of the Constitution of 1812 having been proclaimed, and the roads are swarming with robbers and banditti. It is my intention to join some muleteers and attempt to reach Granada, from whence, if possible, I shall proceed to Malaga or Gibraltar, and thence to Lisbon, where I left the greatest part of my baggage. Do not be surprised therefore, if I am tardy in making my appearance. It is no easy thing at present to travel in Spain. But all these troubles are for the benefit of the Cause, and must not be repined at.

I remain, my dear Sir, most truly yours,

G. B.



Report of Mr. Geo. Borrow's late Proceedings in Spain

LONDON, October 17, 1836.

On the 16th of January I quitted Badajoz, a Spanish town on the frontier of Portugal, for Madrid, whither I arrived in safety. As my principal motive for visiting the Spanish capital was the hope of obtaining permission from the Government to print the New Testament in the Castilian language in Spain, I lost no time upon my arrival in taking what I considered to be the necessary steps. I must here premise that I was an entire stranger at Madrid, and that I bore no letters, of introduction to any person of influence whose credit might have assisted me in this undertaking; so that notwithstanding I entertained a hope of success, relying on the assistance of the Almighty, this hope was not at all times very vivid, but was frequently overcast with the clouds of despondency. Mr. Mendizabal was at this time Prime Minister of Spain, and was considered as a man of almost unbounded power, in whose hands were placed the destinies of the country. I therefore considered that if I could by any means induce him to favour my view I should have no reason to fear interruption from other quarters, and I determined upon applying to him; but though I essayed two or three times to obtain an interview with him, I failed, as he was far too much engrossed in important business to receive a humble and unknown stranger. In this dilemma I bethought me of waiting upon Mr. Villiers, the British Ambassador at Madrid, and craving with the freedom permitted to a British subject his advice and assistance in this most interesting affair. I was received by him with great kindness, and enjoyed a conversation with him on various subjects, before I introduced the matter which I had most at heart. He said that if I wished for an interview with Mr. M. he would endeavour to procure me one; but at the same time told me frankly that he could not hope that any good would arise from it, as Mr. M. was violently prejudiced against the British and Foreign Bible Society, and was far more likely to discountenance than encourage any efforts which they might be disposed to make for introducing the Gospel into Spain. I however remained resolute in my desire to make the trial, and before I left him obtained a letter of introduction to Mr. Mendizabal, with whom I had an interview a few days after. The particulars of this interview have been detailed on a former occasion. It will be sufficient to state here that I obtained from Mr. Mendizabal, if not immediate permission to print the Scriptures, a promise that at the expiration of a few months, when he hoped that the country would be in a more tranquil state, I should be at full liberty to do so, with which promise I departed well satisfied, and full of gratitude to the Lord, who seemed to have so wonderfully smoothed my way in an enterprise which at first sight seemed particularly arduous and difficult.

Before three months had elapsed Mr. Mendizabal had ceased to be Prime Minister; with his successor, Mr. Isturitz, I had become acquainted, and also with his colleagues, Galiano and the Duke de Rivas, and it was not long before I obtained—not however without much solicitation and difficulty—the permission which I so ardently desired. Before, however, I could turn it to my account, the revolution broke out in Spain, and the press became free.

The present appears to be a moment peculiarly well adapted for commencing operations in Spain, the aim and view of which should be the introducing into that singularly unhappy portion of the world the knowledge of the Saviour. The clouds of bigotry and superstition which for so many centuries cast their dreary shadow upon Spain, are to a considerable degree dispelled, and there is little reason for supposing that they will ever again conglomerate. The Papal See is no longer regarded with reverence, and its agents and ministers have incurred universal scorn and odium; therefore any fierce and determined resistance to the Gospel in Spain is not to be apprehended either from the people themselves, or from the clergy, who are well aware of their own weakness. It is scarcely necessary to remark that every country which has been long subjected to the sway of popery is in a state of great and deplorable ignorance. Spain, as might have been expected, has not escaped this common fate, and the greatest obstacle to the diffusion of the Gospel light amongst the Spaniards would proceed from the great want of education amongst them. Perhaps there are no people in the world to whom nature has been, as far as regards mental endowments, more bounteously liberal than the Spaniards. They are generally acute and intelligent to an extraordinary degree, and express themselves with clearness, fluency, and elegance upon all subjects which are within the scope of their knowledge. It may indeed be said of the mind of a Spaniard, as of his country, that it merely requires cultivation to be a garden of the first order; but, unhappily, both, up to the present time, have been turned to the least possible account. Few amongst the lower class of the population of the towns are acquainted with letters, and fewer still amongst the peasantry; but though compelled to acknowledge the ignorance of the Spaniards in general, I have great pleasure in being able to state that during the latter years it has been becoming less and less, and that the rising generation is by no means so illiterate as the last, which was itself superior in acquirements to the preceding one. It is to be hoped that the progress in improvement will still continue, and that within a few years the blessings of education will be as generally diffused amongst the Spaniards as amongst the people of France and England. Government has already commenced the establishment of Normal Schools, and though the state of the country, convulsed with the horrors of civil war, precludes the possibility of devoting to them the care and attention which they deserve, I have no doubt that when it shall please the Lord to vouchsafe peace unto Spain they will receive all the requisite patronage and support, as their utility is already generally recognised.

Before quitting Madrid I entered into negotiation with Mr. Charles Wood, a respectable Englishman established there, for the printing of 5000 copies of the New Testament in Spanish, which number, if on good paper and in handsome type, I have little doubt might be easily disposed of within a short time in the capital and in the principal provincial towns of Spain, particularly Cadiz and Seville, where the people are more enlightened than in other parts in most respects, and where many would be happy to obtain the sacred volume in a handsome yet cheap form, and some in any shape whatever—as there the Word of God is at least known by reputation, and no small curiosity has of late years been manifested concerning it, though unfortunately that curiosity has not hitherto been gratified, for reasons too well known to require recapitulation.

In the rural districts the chances of the Scriptures are considerably less, for there, as far as I am aware, not only no curiosity has been excited respecting it, but it is not known by name, and when mentioned to the people, is considered to be nothing more or less than the mass-book of the Romish Church. On various occasions I have conversed with the peasantry of Estremadura, La Mancha, and Andalusia respecting the holy Book, and without one exception they were not only ignorant of its contents, but ignorant of its nature; some who could read, and pretended to be acquainted with it, said that it contained hymns to the Virgin, and was written by the Pope; yet the peasantry of these three provinces are by no means the least enlightened of Spain, but perhaps the reverse. In a word, great as the ignorance of the generality of the Spaniards upon most essential points is, they are principally ignorant of the one most essential of all, the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

No time, however, ought to be lost in supplying those with the word who are capable of receiving it; though millions in Spain are undoubtedly beyond the reach of any efforts which the Bible Society can make to assist them, however much it may have at heart their eternal salvation, it is gratifying to have grounds for belief that thousands are able and willing to profit by the exertions which may be made to serve them. Though the days of the general orange-gathering are not arrived, when the tree requires but a slight shaking to scatter its ripe and glorious treasures on the head of the gardener, still goodly and golden fruit is to be gathered on the most favoured and sunny branches; the quantity is small in comparison with what remains green and acid, but there is enough to repay the labour of him who is willing to ascend to cull it; the time of the grand and general harvesting is approaching, perhaps it will please the Almighty to hasten it; and it may even now be nearer than the most sanguine of us dares to hope.

G. BORROW.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Nov. 30th, 1836) LISBON, Novr. 15th, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—On taking leave of you I promised to write from Cadiz, and I still hope to perform my promise; but as I am apprehensive that several days will elapse before I shall reach that place I avail myself of the present opportunity of informing you that I am alive and well, lest you should become uneasy at not hearing from me at the time you expected. It is owing to the mercy of God that, instead of being able to pen these lines, I am not at the present moment floundering in the brine, a prey to the fishes and monsters of the ocean.

We had a most unpleasant passage to Falmouth. The ship was crowded with passengers, most of whom were poor consumptive individuals and other invalids, fleeing from the cold blasts of England's winter to the sunny shores of Portugal and Madeira. In a more uncomfortable vessel, especially steam-ship, it has never been my fate to make a voyage; the berths were small and insupportably close, and of the wretched holes mine was amongst the worst, the rest having been for the most part bespoken before I arrived on board, so that to avoid the suffocation which seemed to threaten me I lay upon the floor of one of the cabins, and continued to do so until my arrival here. We remained at Falmouth twenty-four hours, taking in coals and repairing the engine, which had sustained considerable damage.

On Monday the 7th inst. we again started and made for the Bay of Biscay; the sea was high and the wind strong and contrary, nevertheless on the morning of the fourth day we were in sight of the rocky coast to the north of Cape Finisterre. I must here observe that this was the first voyage that the captain who commanded the vessel had ever made on board of her, and that he knew little or nothing about the coast towards which we were bearing; he was a person picked up in a hurry, the former captain having resigned his command on the ground that the ship was not sea-worthy, and that the engines were frequently unserviceable. I was not acquainted with these circumstances at the time, or perhaps I should have felt more alarmed than I did when I saw the vessel approaching nearer and nearer to the shore, till at last we were only a few hundred yards distant. As it was, however, I felt very much surprised, for having passed it twice before, both times in steam-vessels, and having seen with what care the captains endeavoured to maintain a wide offing, I could not conceive the reason of our being now so near the dangerous region. The wind was blowing hard towards the shore, if that can be called a shore which consists of steep abrupt precipices, on which the surf was breaking with the noise of thunder, tossing up clouds of spray and foam to the height of a cathedral. We coasted slowly along, rounding several tall forelands, some of them piled up by the hand of nature in the most fantastic shapes, until about the fall of night. Cape Finisterre was not far ahead, a bluff brown granite mountain, whose frowning head may be seen far away by those who travel the ocean. The stream which poured round its breast was terrific, and though our engines plied with all their force, we made little or no way.

By about eight o'clock at night, the wind had increased to a hurricane, the thunder rolled frightfully, and the only light which we had to guide us on our way was the red forked lightning which burst at times from the bosom of the big black clouds which lowered over our heads. We were exerting ourselves to the utmost to weather the cape, which we could descry by the lightning on our lee, its brow being frequently brilliantly lighted up by the flashes which quivered around it, when suddenly, with a great crash, the engine broke, and the paddles on which depended our lives ceased to play.

I will not attempt to depict the scene of horror and confusion which ensued: it may be imagined, but never described. The captain, to give him his due, displayed the utmost coolness and intrepidity, and he and the whole crew made the greatest exertions to repair the engine, and when they found their labour in vain, endeavoured by hoisting the sails and by practising all possible manoeuvres to preserve the ship from impending destruction. But all was of no use; we were hard on a lee shore, to which the howling tempest was impelling us. About this time I was standing near the helm, and I asked the steersman if there was any hope of saving the vessel or our lives; he replied, 'Sir, it is a bad affair; no boat could for a minute live in this sea, and in less than an hour the ship will have her broadside on Finisterre, where the strongest man-of-war ever built must go to shivers instantly. None of us will see the morning.' The captain likewise informed the other passengers in the cabin to the same effect, telling them to prepare themselves, and having done so he ordered the door to be fastened, and none to be permitted to come on deck. I, however, kept my station, though almost drowned with water, immense waves continually breaking over our windward side and flooding the ship; the water-casks broke from their lashings, and one of them struck me down, and crushed the foot of the unfortunate man at the helm, whose place was instantly taken by the captain. We were now close on the rocks, when a horrid convulsion of the elements took place; the lightning enveloped us as with a mantle, the thunders were louder than the roar of a million cannon, the dregs of the ocean seemed to be cast up, and in the midst of all this turmoil the wind, without the slightest intimation veered right about, and pushed us from the horrible coast faster than it had previously drawn us towards it.

The oldest sailors on board acknowledged that they had never witnessed so providential an escape. I said from the bottom of my heart, 'Our Father: hallowed be Thy name.' The next day we were near foundering, for the sea was exceedingly high, and our vessel, which was not intended for sailing, laboured terribly, and leaked much. The pumps were continually working. She likewise took fire, but the flames were extinguished. In the evening the steam-engine was partially repaired, and we reached Lisbon on the 13th. Most of my clothes and other things are spoiled, for the hold was overflowed with the water from the boiler and the leak.

The vessel will be ready for sea in about a week, when I shall depart for Cadiz; but most of the passengers who intended going farther than Lisbon have abandoned her, as they say she is doomed. But I have more trust in the Lord that governeth the winds, and in whose hands the seas are as a drop. He who preserved us at Finisterre can preserve elsewhere, and if it be His will that we perish, the firm ground is not more secure than the heaving sea.

I have seen our excellent friend Mr. Wilby, and delivered to him the parcel, with which I was entrusted. He has been doing everything in his power to further the sale of the sacred volume in Portuguese; indeed his zeal and devotedness are quite admirable, and the Society can never appreciate his efforts too highly. But since I was last at Lisbon the distracted state of the country has been a great obstacle to him; people's minds are so engrossed with politics that they find no time to think of their souls. Before this reaches you, you will doubtless have heard of the late affair at Belem, where poor Freire (I knew him well) one of the ex-Ministers lost his life, and which nearly ended in an affray between the English forces and the native. The opinions of the Portuguese seem to be decidedly democratic, and I have little doubt that were the English squadron withdrawn the unfortunate young Queen would lose her crown within a month, and be compelled with her no less unfortunate young husband to seek a refuge in another country. I repeat that I hope to write to you from Cadiz; I shall probably be soon in the allotted field of my labours, distracted, miserable Spain. The news from thence is at present particularly dismal; the ferocious Gomez, after having made an excursion into Estremadura, which he ravaged like a pestilence, has returned to Andalusia, the whole of which immense province seems to be prone at his feet. I shall probably find Seville occupied by his hordes, but I fear them not, and trust that the Lord will open the path for me to Madrid. One thing I am resolved upon: either to be the instrument of doing something for Spain, or never to appear again in my native land.

G. B.



To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Dec. 28th, 1836) SEVILLE, Dec. 5th, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,—I arrived safely at Cadiz on the 21st ult.; the steam-engine had been partially repaired at Lisbon, and our passage was speedy and prosperous. I was happy to have reached the shores of Spain, being eager to enter upon my allotted task. Cadiz is a small but beautiful city, built upon a tongue of land and surrounded on all points but one by the sea, which dashes up against its walls: the houses are lofty, and of a dazzling whiteness; the streets are straight and narrow. On my arrival I found great confusion reigning: numerous bands of the factious were reported to be hovering in the neighbourhood, an attack was not deemed improbable, and the place had just been declared in a state of siege. I took up my abode at the French Hotel, in the Calle de la Niveria, and was allotted a species of cock-loft or garret to sleep in, for the house was filled with guests, being a place of much resort on account of the excellent table d'hote which is kept there. I dressed myself and walked about the town. I entered several coffee houses: the din of tongues in all was deafening; in one no less than six orators were haranguing at the same time on the state of the country, and the probability of an intervention on the part of England and France. As I was listening to one of them he suddenly called upon me for my opinion, as I was a foreigner, and seemingly just arrived. I replied that I could not venture to guess what steps the two Governments would pursue under the present circumstances, but thought that it would be as well if the Spaniards would exert themselves more, and call less on Jupiter. As I did not wish to engage in any political conversation I instantly quitted the house, and sought those parts of the town where the lower classes principally reside.

I entered into discourse with several individuals, but found them very ignorant; none could write or read, and their ideas respecting religion were anything but satisfactory, most professing a perfect indifference. I afterwards went into a bookseller's shop, and made enquiries respecting the demand for literature, which he informed me was small. I produced our 24mo edition of the New Testament in Spanish, and asked the bookseller whether he thought a book of that description would sell in Cadiz. He said it was exceedingly beautiful, both in type and paper, but it was a work not sought after, and very little known. I did not pursue my enquiries in other shops, for I reflected that I was not very likely to receive a very favourable opinion from booksellers respecting a publication in which they had no interest. I had, moreover, but two or three copies of the New Testament with me, and could not have supplied them had they given me an order.

That night I became very unwell, and was apprehending that I had been seized with the cholera, as the symptoms of my complaint were very similar to those which accompany that disorder. I was for some time in most acute pain, and terribly sick; I drank oil mixed with brandy, and in some degree recovered, and for the two succeeding days was very feeble, and able to undertake nothing. This attack was the cause of my not writing to you from Cadiz as I had fully intended.

Early on the 24th I embarked for Seville in the small Spanish steamer the Betis. The morning was wet, and the aspect of nature was enveloped in a dense mist, which prevented my observing surrounding objects. After proceeding about six leagues, we reached the north-eastern extremity of the bay of Cadiz, and passed by Saint Lucar, an ancient town close by where the Guadalquivir disembogues itself. The mist suddenly disappeared, and the sun of Spain burst forth in full brilliancy, enlivening all around, and particularly myself, who had till then been lying on the deck in a dull melancholy stupor. We entered the mouth of the 'Great River,' for that is the English translation of Qued al Kiber, as the Moors designated the ancient Betis. We came to anchor for a few minutes at a little village called Bonanca, at the extremity of the first reach of the river, where we received several passengers, and again proceeded. There is not much in the appearance of the Guadalquivir to interest the traveller: the banks are low and destitute of trees, the adjacent country is flat, and only in the distance is seen a range of tall blue sierras. The water is turbid and muddy, and in colour closely resembling the contents of a duck-pool; the average width of the stream is from 150 to 200 yards. But it is impossible to move along this river without remembering that it has borne the Roman, the Vandal, and the Arab, and has been the witness of deeds which have resounded through the world, and been the themes of immortal song. I repeated Latin verses and fragments of old Spanish ballads, till we reached Seville at about nine o'clock of a lovely moonlight night.

Before entering upon more important matter I will say a few words respecting Seville and its curiosities. It contains 90,000 inhabitants, and is situated on the left bank of the Guadalquivir, about eighteen leagues from its mouth. It is surrounded with high Moorish walls, in a good state of preservation, and built of such durable materials that it is probable they will for many centuries bid defiance to the encroachment of time. The most remarkable edifices are the cathedral and Alcazar or palace of the Moorish kings. The tower of the former, called La Giralda, belongs to the period of the Moors, and formed part of the Grand Mosque of Seville. It is 220 ells in height, and is ascended not by stairs or ladders, but by a vaulted pathway, in the manner of an inclined plane; this path is by no means steep, so that a cavalier might ride up to the top, a feat which Ferdinand the Seventh is said to have accomplished. The view from the summit is very extensive, and on a fine clear day the ridge called the Sierra de Ronda may be discovered though the distance is upward of twenty-two leagues. The cathedral itself is a noble Gothic structure, reputed the finest of the kind in Spain. In the chapels allotted to the various saints are some of the most magnificent paintings which Spanish art has produced. Here are to be seen the far-famed 'Angel of the Guard,' by Murillo, his 'Saint Anthony at Devotion,' the celestial spirits hovering around him, and Saint Thomas of Villa Nueva bestowing Charity'; there are also some pictures by Soberan [? Zurbaran] of almost inestimable value. Indeed, the cathedral at Seville is at the present time far more rich in splendid paintings than at any former period, possessing many very recently removed from some of the suppressed convents, particularly from the Capuchin and Franciscan.

No one should visit Seville without paying particular attention to the Alcazar. It is perhaps the most perfect specimen of Moorish architecture which is at present to be found in Europe. It contains many splendid halls, particularly that of the Ambassadors, so called, which is in every respect more magnificent than the one of the same name within the Alhambra of Granada. This palace was a favourite residence of Peter the Cruel, who carefully repaired it, without altering its Moorish character and appearance. It probably remains in much the same state as at the time of his death.

On the right side of the river is a large suburb called Triana, communicating with Seville by means of a bridge of boats; for there is no permanent bridge across the Guadalquivir owing to the violent inundations to which it is subject. This suburb is inhabited by the dregs of the populace, and abounds with Gitanos or Gypsies. About a league and a half to the north-west stands the village of Santo Ponce; at the foot and on the side of some elevated ground higher up are to be seen vestiges of ruined walls and edifices which once formed part of Italica, the birth-place of Silius Italicus and Trajan, from which latter personage Triana derives its name. One fine morning I walked thither, and having ascended the hill I directed my course northward. I soon reached what had once been bagnios, and a little farther on, in a kind of valley between two gentle acclivities, the amphitheatre. This latter object is by far the most considerable relic of ancient Italica; it is oval in its form, with two gateways, fronting the east and west. On all sides are to be seen the time-worn broken granite benches, from whence myriads of human beings once gazed down on the area below, where the gladiator shouted, and the lion and leopard yelled. All around beneath these flights of benches are vaulted excavations, from whence the combatants, part human, part bestial, darted forth by their several doors. I spent several hours in this singular place, forcing my way through the wild fennel and brushwood into the caverns, now the haunts of adders and other reptiles, whose hissings I heard. Having sated my curiosity, I left the ruins, and returning by another way reached a place where lay the carcase of a horse half-devoured. Upon it with lustrous eyes stood an enormous vulture, who, as I approached, slowly soared aloft till he alighted on the eastern gate of the amphitheatre, from whence he uttered a hoarse cry, as if in anger that I had disturbed him from his feast of carrion.

And now for another subject. You are doubtless anxious to know what are my projects, and why I am not by this time further advanced on my way to Madrid; know then that the way to Madrid is beset with more perils than harassed Christian in his route to the Eternal Kingdom. Almost all communication is at an end between this place and the capital, the diligences and waggons have ceased running, even the bold arrieros or muleteers are at a stand-still; and the reason is that the rural portion of Spain, especially this part, is in a state of complete disorganisation and of blackest horror. The three fiends, famine, plunder, and murder, are playing their ghastly revels unchecked; bands of miscreants captained by such—what shall I call them?—as Orejita and Palillos, are prowling about in every direction, and woe to those whom they meet. A few days since they intercepted an unfortunate courier, and after scooping out his eyes put him to death with most painful tortures, and mangled his body in a way not to be mentioned. Moreover, the peasantry, who have been repeatedly plundered by these fellows, and who have had their horses and cattle taken from them by the Carlists, being reduced with their families to nakedness and the extreme of hunger, seize in rage and desperation upon every booty which comes within their reach, a circumstance which can awaken but little surprise.

This terrible state of things, staring me in the face on my arrival at Seville, made me pause. I thought that the tempest might in some degree subside, but hitherto I have been disappointed. My mind is at present made up. I shall depart for Madrid in two or three days, at all risks. The distance is 300 miles. I shall hire, in the first place, horses, and a guide, as far as Cordova (twenty-six leagues). I shall have to pay a great price, it is true, but I have money, praised be God, who inspired me with the idea of putting fifty sovereigns in my pocket when I left London. I should otherwise be helpless. From Cordova I must endeavour to obtain horses to Val de Penas (twenty leagues), which is half way to Madrid. Were I at Val de Penas, I should feel comparatively at ease; for from thence I know the road, having traversed it in my ways from Madrid to Grenada; it moreover runs through La Mancha, which, though infested with banditti, is plain open ground, and if I could obtain no guide or horses, or had been plundered of my money, I might hope to make my way on foot. But I am ignorant of the country between Seville and Cordova, and from Cordova to Val de Penas. The route is through the dismal and savage mountains of the Sierra Morena, where I should inevitably be bewildered, and perhaps, if not murdered, fall a prey to the wolves. Were the whole way known to me, I would leave my baggage here and dressed as a beggar or Gypsy set out on foot; strange as this plan may sound in English ears, it would be the safest course I could pursue. Should I perish in this journey, keep the affair secret as long as possible from my dear mother, and when it should be necessary to reveal it to her, do me the favour to go to Norwich on purpose; should I reach Madrid, you will hear from me in about five weeks, from the time you receive this. It would be of no utility to write to you from Cordova; the letter would never reach you, I hope this will.

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