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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. J. Jowett

(Endorsed: recd. May 26th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, April 28 (old style) 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, -- Being at length able to communicate some positive information respecting the price of the paper, which we are in need of, I lose no time in doing so. The day after I despatched my last epistle, which I hope you have received, I was favoured with a communication from the director of the Peterhof Fabrik or Manufactory, a gentleman who amongst other titles bears that of Councillor of State. He was kind enough to say that I should have the 50 reams of paper which remained, and which I before alluded to, at 75 roubles per ream; but that if any more were necessary, one hundred roubles per ream would be required, and not any reduction would be made. You may easily guess that I was somewhat startled at this piece of information, for upon making a calculation I found that one ream of paper would be little more than sufficient for two copies of the entire Mandchou New Testament. There are 480 sheets in a Russian ream, and I suppose that our book will consist of seven parts, each containing about the same number of sheets as the printed Mandchou Gospel of St. Matthew. Now that Gospel contains 31 sheets, and 31 multiplied by 7 amounts to 211 [sic], which multiplied by 2 makes 422 sheets, leaving only a surplus of 58. Therefore the paper necessary for 1000 copies only would amount to about 450 reams, the price of which, after allowance had been made for the 50 reams at 75 roubles, would exceed 40,000 roubles. The next day I hired a calash, and spent the best part of a week in causing myself to be driven to all the places in the vicinity of Petersburg where paper is made. Knowing but too well that it is the general opinion of the people of this country that Englishmen are made of gold, and that it is only necessary to ask the most extravagant price for any article in order to obtain it, I told no person, to whom I applied, who I was, or of what country; and I believe I was supposed to be a German. In some places I had now the pleasure of hearing that I could have the paper at 60 roubles per ream. At last I came to a person whom, after having informed him that I was in need of a very great quantity, perhaps a thousand reams or more, I beat down from 50 to 40 roubles, from 40 to 35, and it is probable that I may be able to obtain a large quantity at 30. I must inform you that I also employed two agents, and we three going various ways have ascertained that the necessary paper may be procured for between 30 and 40 roubles per ream, paper of as good a quality -- nay, better than that on which the Gospel of St. Matthew was printed, and that for which 100 roubles were demanded at Peterhof. It is therefore now time for the Committee to come to a decision respecting the number of copies to be printed, and I wish it to be borne in mind that the price of the paper per ream in some degree depends upon the quantity required. I do not think it possible to obtain any where paper of a similar quality at a less price than 30 or 35 roubles; for the specimens which I have obtained are very beautiful, and a work printed on such paper need not be ashamed to show its face amongst the most fastidious Tartars and Chinese. To print the Testament on common paper would certainly not be advisable, as in that case the probability is that notwithstanding the reverence of those singular people for written or printed characters, the sacred volume, if put into their hands, would be destroyed.

I am in conformity with your expressed desire getting every thing into readiness for commencing printing, and therefore earnestly beg for a speedy communication, informing me how much paper I am to bespeak, and in what manner I am to pay for it. I must here observe that in all dealings within Russia the purchaser must have his money ready in his hand; consequently, if I am authorised to purchase any quantity of paper, I must have a letter of credit upon some firm here resident, that I may be able to pay for the article immediately upon its delivery.

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


P.S. -- With respect to the paper, if purchased; would you have me deliver the whole of it into the printer's hands at once, or should a small apartment be hired in which to keep part of it until wanted? In this country the wisdom of the serpent is quite as necessary as the innocence of the dove.

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