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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram

(Endorsed: recd. Dec.2, 1837)
Novr. 20, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, -- On the other side you have an account of the money which I expended during my journey, and also of what I have laid out in the Society's service since my return. In respect to my expenses, I wish to state that most articles are very dear in Spain, especially in the parts where I have travelled, and that I have been subjected to many expenses which I have not specified in the account, for example the gate-dues for the books, in every town where I have introduced them -- the printing of advertisements -- and particularly farriers' bills, as the poor horses were continually ailing from over-work, bad provender and falls received amongst the mountains. In the account of Testaments sold you will observe that I make no mention of by far the greater number, namely those disposed of at Lugo, Saint James, etc., etc., as I have not yet received the money from the booksellers. About a week since I received advice from Leon that the forty copies which I had left there had been all sold, and that the money was in readiness; I have despatched a fresh supply of fifty to that important town, where last summer I nearly lost my life in a burning fever. I am expecting every day a fresh order from Salamanca, and hope that, as the circle widens in the lake into which a stripling has cast a pebble, so will the circle of our usefulness continue widening until it has embraced the whole vast region of Spain.

I have delayed writing for nearly a fortnight, as during that period I have been looking out for a suitable shop in which to commence operations in Madrid. I have just found one quite to my mind, situated in the Calle del Principe, one of the principal streets. The rent, it is true, is rather high (eight reals per diem); but a good situation, as you are well aware, must be paid for. I came to the resolution of establishing a shop from finding that the Madrid booksellers entrusted with the Testaments gave themselves no manner of trouble to secure the sale, and even withheld advertisements from the public with which they were supplied. But now everything will be on another footing, and I have sanguine hopes of selling all that remain of the edition within a short time.

A violent and furious letter against the Bible Society and its proceedings has lately appeared in a public print; it is prefixed to a Pastoral of the Spiritual Governor [i.e. Bishop] of Valencia, in which he forbids the sale of the London Bible in that see. About a week since I inserted in the Espanol an answer to that letter, which answer has been read and praised. I send you herewith an English translation of it. You will doubtless deem it too warm and fiery, but tameness and gentleness are of little avail when surrounded by the vassal slaves of bloody Rome. It has answered one purpose -- it has silenced our antagonist, who, it seems, is an unprincipled benefice-hunting curate. As you read Spanish, I have copied his own words respecting the omission of the Apocrypha; nevertheless, lest you should find some difficulty in understanding it, I subjoin here the English.

'If the works of Luther were to be given to the world curtailed of their principal chapters, and his maxims and precepts to a certain degree transformed, what would his followers and disciples do? Would they not rise with one accord in numerous bands, and, in order to sustain the honour of their preceptor, would they not recur to the original writings and produce in his support his manuscripts? Would they not resort to all kinds of argument to prove the spuriousness of that edition, and employ declamation and reasoning in order to blacken the illicit and fraudulent means which the Catholics were employing?' etc., etc., etc.

I deemed it my duty, as Agent of the Bible Society in Spain, not to permit so brutal an attack upon it to pass unanswered. Indeed I was called upon by my friends to reply, and though I am adverse to all theological and political disputes, I feared to refuse, lest the motives of my silence should be misconstrued. But now I must be permitted to say (between ourselves) that it was a very unadvised act to send such a Bible as the London one over to Spain, a Bible which does the editor no credit and the Society less; and it was a still more unadvised act to advertise in the prints of Valencia that it would be given gratis to the poor. Mr. Villiers, whom I consulted, made use of these words: 'How is it possible for you (meaning myself) to sell books at Madrid and other places, when it becomes known that those very same books are being given away at Valencia? Moreover, giving away Bibles to the multitude will seem to imply that there is some plot or conspiracy in the wind, and the Government, with some shadow of reason, may be called upon to interfere, and the proceedings of the Society may be brought to a sudden stop in Spain.' I hope you will excuse these hints; they are well meant, and in uttering them I have, as you know, the prosperity of our hallowed cause solely at heart.

G. B.

(I am still very unwell.)

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