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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. May 5, 1836)
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.

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