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Letters Of George Borrow by George Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram (Private)

(Endorsed: recd. Octr.14, 1839)
29th Sepr. 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, -- I beg leave to return you my best thanks for your kind communication of the 27th Aug. which I found awaiting me on my return from Tangiers, and for which I was already to a certain degree prepared by my dear friend Mr. Browne's letter directed to the care of Mr. Brackenbury at Cadiz. I shall act up as soon as possible to the Committee's request, that I take immediate measures for selling the remainder of our Bible stock in Spain, or leaving it in safe custody. I will now tell you in a few words the steps which it appears to me most advisable to take in the present emergency.

I shall mount my horses and depart for La Mancha; where I shall take up my abode for a few weeks in a town with which you are already acquainted and where I believe I have friends, and to which place I shall order a chest of Testaments to be despatched from Madrid, on the receipt of which I shall endeavour with the assistance of Hayim Ben Attar to put as many copies as possible into circulation. I have always wished to do something in La Mancha, which is in every respect the worst part of Spain. I distinctly see that it must be now or never. God has granted me success in many difficult enterprises: perhaps it will please Him to favour me in this.

I shall then move upon Madrid, and arrange matters in that capital. If I may be permitted here to offer my advice, I would strongly recommend that four hundred copies of the New Testament be left there in deposit, with those of Saint Luke in Gypsy and Basque which remain unsold. Of the former Gospel, indeed, there are not many, nearly one hundred copies having been circulated amongst the Rommanees of Andalusia during my present visit. I then purpose to make for France, passing through Saragossa, in which place, which is large and populous, I hope to accomplish some good in the Lord's cause. This is the outline of my plan, which I shall attempt to put into execution without delay; though if any one could propose a wiser, and better adapted to the present circumstances, I shall at once relinquish it.

I have just received a communication from Mr. Brackenbury, in which he has done me the honour to furnish me with a copy of a letter which he has addressed to yourself and in which he has spoken of me. The principal consolation of a person in misfortune is the being able to say, 'In whatever I have done, I have had the glory of God at heart'; and certainly next to this consolation is the knowledge that his deeds and actions meet the approbation of the good, the wise, and the distinguished. I wish not to recapitulate what I have done, but I beg to be permitted to say that wherever I have been I have endeavoured to elicit the kindly feelings of my fellow-creatures, not for my own benefit but for the advancement of the true doctrine. I found Mr. B. during my last visit in a state of considerable agitation. He showed me a letter from Lord. P [Palmerston], a circular as it appeared, in which the British consuls and their assistants in Spain are strictly forbidden to afford the slightest countenance to religious agents. What was the cause of this last blow? Mr. B. says it was an ill-advised application made to his Lordship to interfere with the Spanish Government in behalf of a certain individual whose line of conduct needs no comment. There are people in Spain who remember the time when those very consuls received from a British Ambassador at Madrid instructions of an exactly contrary character; but when dead flies fall into the ointment of the apothecary, they cause it to send forth an unpleasant savour.

I am very glad that I went to Tangiers, for many reasons. In the first place, I was permitted to circulate many copies of God's Word both amongst the Jews and the Christians, by the latter of whom it was particularly wanted, their ignorance of the most vital points of religion being truly horrible. In the second place, I acquired a vast stock of information concerning Africa and the state of its interior. One of my principal associates was a black slave, whose country was only three days' journey from Timbuctoo, which place he had frequently visited. The Soosi men also told me many of the secrets of the land of wonders from which they come, and the rabbis from Fez and Morocco were no less communicative. Moreover I consider it a great advantage to have obtained the friendship of Mr. Hay, who is a true British gentleman. I found him at first reserved and distant, and I thought averse to countenance the object of my mission. In a few days, however, his manner changed surprisingly, and at my departure he begged me to communicate to the Bible Society that at all times and seasons he should be happy to receive its commands, and to render all the assistance in Fez and Morocco which his official situation would permit him, should the views of the Society at any future time be directed to those regions.

Permit me, my dear Sir, to correct in your letter something which savours of inaccuracy. You hint at the issues of the Scriptures in Spain having been small. Now during the last year I have issued three thousand Testaments and five hundred Bibles, which is certainly no small circulation of the Word of God in such a country. But pray inform me why the circulation has not been ten times greater? Surely you are aware that among the many peculiarities of my situation was this distressing one, namely, that I was scarcely ever able to supply the people with the books that they were in want of. They clamoured for Bibles, and I had nothing but Testaments to offer them. Had I been possessed of twenty thousand Bibles in the spring of the present year, I could have disposed of them all without leaving Madrid; and they would have found their way through all Spain. I beseech you always to bear this fact in mind in your reports to the public, otherwise that public will remain strangely in the dark respecting the spirit of enquiry which is abroad in Spain.

You are quite right in supposing that I entertain a favourable opinion of Mr. Wood. I know him to be a good husband and father, and a man who fears the Lord: he is likewise possessed of considerable ability; but I am entirely unacquainted with any plan which he may have formed respecting printing the Scriptures in Spain, or any memorial which he may have sent in to the Bible Society on the subject, so that of course I cannot be expected to express an opinion. It is my intention in a few days to depart from hence on my expedition, so that should you be desirous of writing to me, you had perhaps best address to Madrid.

When the Bible Society has no further occasion for my poor labours, I hope it will do me justice to the world. I have been its faithful and zealous servant. I shall on a future occasion take the liberty of addressing you as a friend respecting my prospects. I have the materials of a curious book of travels in Spain; I have enough metrical translations from all languages, especially the Celtic and Sclavonic, to fill a dozen volumes; and I have formed a vocabulary of the Spanish Gypsy tongue, and also a collection of the songs and poetry of the Gitanos with introductory essays. Perhaps some of these literary labours might be turned to account. I wish to obtain honourably and respectably the means of visiting China, or particular parts of Africa. I call this letter private, but communicate such parts of it as you think proper.


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