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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Feb.4, 1839)
SEVILLE, Jany. 12, 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, -- I reached Cadiz in safety, after crossing the Bay of Biscay in rather boisterous weather. I have been in Seville about a week, part of which time I have been rather indisposed with an old complaint; this night at ten o'clock I leave, with the letter-courier, for Madrid, whither I hope to arrive in something less than four days. I should have started before now, had an opportunity presented itself. I have been much occupied since coming here in writing to my friends in Spain apprising them of my arrival, amongst others to Sir George Villiers. I have of course visited the Sevillian bookseller, my correspondent here. He informed me that seventy-six copies of the hundred Testaments entrusted to his care were placed in embargo by the Government last summer. They are at present in the possession of the Ecclesiastical Governor. I visited him also the other day, to make enquiries concerning our property. He lives in a large house in the Pajaria, or straw-market. He is a very old man, between seventy and eighty, and like almost all those who wear the sacerdotal habit in this city is a fierce persecuting Papist. I believe he scarcely believed his ears when his two grand-nephews, beautiful black-haired boys, who were playing in the courtyard, ran to inform him that an Englishman was waiting to speak with him, as it is probable that I was the first heretic who ever ventured into his habitation. I found him in a vaulted room seated on a lofty chair, with two sinister-looking secretaries, also in sacerdotal habits, employed in writing at a table before him. He brought powerfully to my recollection the grim old inquisitor who persuaded Philip the Second to slay his own son as an enemy to the Church. He arose as I entered, and gazed upon me with a countenance dark with suspicion and dissatisfaction. He at last condescended to point me to a sofa, and I proceeded to state to him my business. He became much agitated when I mentioned the Testaments to him; but I no sooner spoke of the Bible Society and told him who I was, than he could contain himself no longer, and with a stammering tongue and with eyes flashing fire like hot coals, he proceeded to rail against the Society and myself, saying that the aims of the first were atrocious and that as to myself, he was surprised that being once lodged in the prison of Madrid I had ever been permitted to quit it; adding that it was disgraceful in the Government to allow a person of my character to roam about an innocent and peaceful country, corrupting the minds of the ignorant and unsuspicious. Far from allowing myself to be disconcerted by his rude behaviour, I replied to him with all possible politeness, and assured him that in this instance he had no reason to alarm himself, as that my sole motive in claiming the books in question was to avail myself of an opportunity, which at present presented itself of sending them out of the country, which indeed I had been commanded to do by an official notice. But nothing would soothe him, and he informed me that he should not deliver up the books on any condition, save by a positive order of the Government. As the matter was by no means an affair of consequence I thought it wise not to persist, and also prudent to take my leave before he requested me. I was followed even down into the street by his niece and grand-nephews, who during the whole of the conversation had listened at the door of the apartment and heard every word.

I have at present little more to say, having detailed everything worth mentioning which has occurred since [my] landing in the Peninsula for the third time. As soon as I reach Madrid I shall proceed to make preparations for a fresh expedition, but in what direction I have scarcely determined. Please therefore to pray that I may be enlightened, and that the angel of the Lord may smooth my path before me. Greet all my friends in my name; I hope speedily to be able to write to each, and in the meantime remain, Revd. and dear Sir, yours ever,

G. B.

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