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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Sept.10, 1838)
MADRID, Sept. 1, 1838.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, -- From my letter to the Revd. Geo. Browne of the 28 ult. you are already doubtless aware of my arrival at Madrid from my expedition in Old Castile. I now proceed to detail to you a few occurrences, premising that my notices will necessarily be brief, as I am considerably indisposed, and am moreover much occupied in making preparations for my departure for England, and in arranging the affairs of the Society in Spain in as satisfactory a manner as circumstances will permit.

I set out for my journey on the 4th of last month on horseback and accompanied by my servant. The first day brought us to La Granja, a distance of twelve leagues from Madrid, where I expected to find Lopez and another man whom I had sent before. Nothing particular occurred during this day's journey, except that notwithstanding my haste I sold some Testaments in the villages near the roadside and that it pleased God to permit us to traverse the pass of Pena Cerrada without coming in contact with the banditti that haunt the gloomy pine forests which embower it and extend for leagues in every direction. Arrived at La Granja, I could hear nothing of Lopez nor of the other individual, and in consequence after a stay of a day which was necessary to refresh the horses, I departed for Segovia. I did not attempt to distribute the Word at La Granja, being well aware that orders had been transmitted to the authorities of the place to seize all copies of the sacred writings which might be offered for sale. I may say the same with respect to Segovia, where still none of my people made their appearance. At Segovia I received from a friend a chest containing two hundred Testaments, and almost immediately after, by the greatest chance in the world, I heard from a peasant that there were men in the neighbourhood of Abades selling books. Abades is about three leagues distant from Segovia, and upon receiving this intelligence I instantly departed for the former place, with three burricos [asses] laden with Testaments.

I reached Abades at nightfall, and found Lopez in the house of the surgeon of the place, where I also took up my residence. He had already disposed of a considerable number of Testaments in the neighbourhood, and had that day commenced selling at Abades itself. He had, however, been interrupted by two of three Curas of the village, who with horrid curses denounced the work, threatening eternal condemnation to Lopez for selling it and to any person who should purchase it; whereupon Lopez, terrified, forebore until I should arrive. The third Cura, however, exerted himself to the utmost to persuade the people to provide themselves with Testaments, telling them that his brethren were hypocrites and false guides, who by keeping them in ignorance of the word and will of Christ were leading them to the abyss. Upon receiving this information, I instantly sallied forth to the marketplace, and that same night succeeded in disposing of upwards of thirty Testaments. The next morning the house was entered by the two factious Curas; but upon my rising to confront them they retreated, and I heard no more of them, except that they publicly cursed me in the church more than once, an event which as no ill resulted from it gave me little concern.

I will not detail the events of the next week; suffice it to say that arranging my forces in the most advantageous way I succeeded by God's assistance in disposing of in that period from five to six hundred Testaments amongst the villages from one to seven leagues distance from Abades. At the expiration of that period I received information from Segovia, in which province Abades is situated, to the effect that my proceedings were known in Segovia, and that an order was about to be sent to the Alcalde of Abades to seize all books in my possession. Whereupon, notwithstanding that it was late in the evening, I decamped with all my people and upwards of three hundred Testaments, having a few hours previously received a fresh supply from Madrid. That night we passed in the fields and next morning proceeded to Labajos, a village on the high road from Madrid to Valladolid. In this place we offered no books for sale, but contented ourselves with supplying the neighbouring villages with the Word of God; we likewise sold it in the highways. We had not been at Labajos a week, during which time we were remarkably successful, when the Carlist chieftain Balmaseda at the head of his wild cavalry made his desperate inroad into the southern part of Old Castile, dashing down like an avalanche from the pine woods of Soria. I was present at all the horrors which ensued -- the sack of Arrevalo -- and the forcible entry into Martin Munoz and San Cyrian. Amidst these terrible scenes, we continued our labours undaunted, with the exception of my servant, who seized with uncontrollable fear ran away to Madrid. I now lost Lopez for three or four days, and suffered dreadful anxiety on his account, apprehending that he had been shot by the Carlists. At last I heard that he was in prison at Villallos, at the distance of three leagues. The steps which I took to rescue him you will find detailed in the communication which I deemed it my duty to transmit to Lord Wm. Hervey at Madrid, a copy of which, together with the letter of Lopez which informed me of his situation, I transmit herewith. After the rescue of Lopez, I thought it advisable to return to Madrid, more especially as my stock of Testaments was exhausted, we having in the course of little more than a fortnight disposed of nearly nine hundred Testaments -- not in populous and wealthy towns but in highways and villages, not to the spurious Spaniards of Madrid and the coasts, but to the sun-blackened peasantry of Old Castile, the genuine descendants of those terrible men who subjugated Mexico and Peru.

My men returned by Pena Cerrada, whilst I, encumbered by two horses, crossed the Guadarama. I nearly perished there, having lost my way in the darkness and tumbled down a precipice. But I am now in Madrid and, if not well, trusting in the Lord and defying Satan. I shall probably be in England within three weeks.

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

G. B.

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