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Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society
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Letter 3: 9th June, 1833
To the Rev. J. Jowett
JUNE 9TH, 1833
WILLOW LANE, ST. GILES, NORWICH.
REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have mastered Mandchou, and I should feel obliged
by your informing the Committee of the fact, and also my excellent friend Mr.
I assure you that I have had no easy and pleasant task in acquiring this
language. In the first place, it is in every respect different from all others which I
have studied, with perhaps the exception of the Turkish, to which it seems to
bear some remote resemblance in syntax, though none in words. In the second
place, it abounds with idiomatic phrases, which can only be learnt by habit, and
to the understanding of which a Dictionary is of little or no use, the words
separately having either no meaning or a meaning quite distinct from that which
they possess when thus conjoined. And thirdly the helps afforded me in this
undertaking have been sadly inadequate. However, with the assistance of God, I
have performed my engagement.
I have translated several pieces from the Mandchou, amongst which is the . . . or
Spirit of the Hearth ([GREEK TEXT]), which is a peculiarly difficult composition,
and which had never previously been translated into a European language.
Should you desire a copy, I shall have great pleasure in sending one.
I shall now be happy to be regularly employed, for though I am not in want, my
affairs are not in a very flourishing condition.
I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,