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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

Translation of a Memorial to his Excellence the Count D'Ofalia

(Endorsed: Memorial of Mr. G. Borrow to Count Ofalia, Madrid, recd. March 28,1838.)

To His Excellence The Count D'Ofalia

SIR, -- I have the honour to inform you that, being a member and Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, I some months since printed, with permission, at Madrid, an edition of the New Testament of Jesus Christ in the Castilian language according to the authorised version of Father Felipe Scio, Confessor of the late King Ferdinand of happy memory.

That to effect the sale of the said work, in which the Society had subjected itself to an expense of more than 100,000 reals, I subsequently established a Despatch at Madrid, where the work was publicly sold at a moderate price until the 12th of January last, when the person intrusted with the management of the said Despatch received a notice from Don Francisco Gamboa, Civil Governor of Madrid, forbidding the further sale of the New Testament until fresh information.

As very erroneous ideas are generally entertained in Spain concerning the constitution of the Bible Society and the views in which its proceedings originate, I will endeavour in a few words to afford some correcting information respecting both. I beg to state that the Bible Society is composed of Christians attached to many and various sects and forms of worship -- for example, members of the Roman, Greek, Anglican, Calvinistic, and Lutheran Churches, and of all ranks and grades in society, who, though they may differ from each other in points of religious discipline, form and ceremony, agree in the one grand and principal point: that there is no salvation from the punishment due to original sin but through vivid faith in Christ, manifested and proved by good works, such being the amount of the doctrine found in those inspired writings known as the New Testament which contain the words of the Saviour whilst resident in flesh on earth, together with the revelations of the Holy Spirit to His disciples after He had ascended to the throne of His heavenly glory.

Having said thus much respecting those who constitute the Bible Society and the religious feeling which unites them, I will now devote a few words to the explanation of their views, than which nothing can be more simple or easily defined. They have no other wish or intention in thus associating together than to assist, as humble instruments under Christ, in causing His doctrine to be propagated and known in all the regions of the vast world, the greatest part of which is still involved in heathenism and ignorance; and looking upon their earthly goods as of little or no value in comparison with such a glorious end, they expend them in printing editions of their Master's Word in all languages, and in transporting them to the remotest corners of the earth, that their benighted fellow-creatures may see the lamp of salvation, and enjoy the same spiritual advantages as themselves. Such is their wish, such their view, totally unallied with commerce or politics, hope of gain and lust of power. The mightiest of earthly monarchs, the late Alexander of Russia, was so convinced of the single-mindedness and integrity of the British and Foreign Bible Society, that he promoted their efforts within his own dominions to the utmost of his ability, and established at St. Petersburg a Bible Society of his own, whose publications have been a source of blessing not only to Russia, but to many other lands.

After the above statement it is unnecessary for me to dilate on the intentions of the Society with respect to Spain, a country which perhaps most of any in the world is in need of the assistance of the Christian philanthropist, as it is overspread with the thickest gloom of heathenish ignorance, beneath which the fiends and demons of the abyss seem to be holding their ghastly revels; a country in which all sense of right and wrong is forgotten, and where every man's hand is turned against his fellow to destroy or injure him, where the name of Jesus is scarcely ever mentioned but in blasphemy, and His precepts [are] almost utterly unknown. In this unhappy country the few who are enlightened are too much occupied in the pursuit of lucre, ambition, or ungodly revenge to entertain a desire or thought of bettering the moral state of their countrymen. But it has pleased the Lord to raise up in foreign lands individuals differently situated and disposed, whose hearts bleed for their brethren in Spain. It is their belief that ignorance of God's Word is the sole cause of these horrors, and to dispel that ignorance they have printed the Gospel in Spain, which they dispose of at a price within the power of the poorest to command. Vain men would fain persuade themselves and others that the Society entertains other motives, by which uncharitableness they prove that they themselves are neither Christians, nor acquainted with the spirit of Christianity. But let the most fearful and dubious reassure themselves with the thought, that should the Bible Society foster the very worst intentions, it would baffle their power, if even assisted by Satanic agency, to render Spain worse than it at present is.

I beseech you, Sir, to co-operate in a good cause, and not seek to retard its progress; for be assured that sooner or later it will triumph.

I have the honour to remain,

Sir,

Your Excellence's obedient servant,

GEORGE BORROW.

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