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Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society

Letter 6: Undated
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Sept. 26th, 1833)
REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - My last letter was from Hamburg, which I hope and
trust you received. I started from thence on the 24th, and embarking at
Travemunde I arrived at the Russian capital on the 31st July (old style) after an
exceedingly pleasant passage, accomplished in the short space of 72 hours; for
the wind was during the greatest part of our way favourable and gentle, the sea
being quite as smooth as a mill pond, so that the paddles of our noble steamer,
the NIKOLAI, were not at all impeded in their working by any rolling or pitching of
the vessel. Immediately on my arrival I sought out Mr. Swan, one of the most
amiable and interesting characters I have ever met with, and delivered to him
your letter, the contents of which were very agreeable to him; for from applying
himself too un-interruptedly to transcribing the manuscript of the Mandchou Old
Testament he had in some degree injured his health; and the arrival of a
coadjutor in the task was exceedingly opportune. In a day or two I went with him
to pay a visit to Mr. Schmidt, who resides a few miles out of town. He assured us
that he had no doubt of permission being granted for the printing of the
Mandchou New Testament, and promised to make all the necessary inquiries,
and to inform Mr. Swan and myself of the result. He was at the time we saw him
much occupied with his Mongolian Grammar and Dictionary, which are in the
press. We have not heard from him since this visit, and I shall probably call upon
him again in a week or two to hear what steps he has taken. I resided for nearly a
fortnight in a hotel, as the difficulty of procuring lodgings in this place is very
great, and when you have procured them, you have to furnish them yourself at a
considerable expense. During this time I collated with Mr. Swan the greatest part
of what he had transcribed, and eventually I took up my abode with Mr. Egerton
Hubbard, a friend of Mr. Venning's, where I am for the present very comfortably
situated, and I do assure you exerting myself to the utmost to fulfil the views of
the Society. I have transcribed from the Mandchou Old Testament the second
book of Chronicles, which when I had done, I put aside the Old Testament for a
season, and by the advice of Mr. Swan began to copy St. Matthew's Gospel from
the version of the New, executed by the same hand as the Old, with the purpose
of comparing it with that of Mr. Lipoftsoff. This task I have just completed, and am
now about to commence a transcript of the Acts. Respecting this manuscript
translation of the Old and New Testaments I must here observe, that with
scarcely one exception it is the most laborious and best executed work of the
kind which I have ever seen, and I cannot but admire the diligence and learning
of him who, probably unasked and unrewarded, engaged in and accomplished it.
The style, as far as I can judge, is to an eminent degree elegant and polished,