Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society HTML version

Letter 5: 4th August, 1833
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 13, 1833)
REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I arrived at Hamburg yesterday after a disagreeable
passage of three days, in which I suffered much from sea-sickness, as did all the
other passengers, who were a medley of Germans, Swedes, and Danes, I being
the only Englishman on board, with the exception of the captain and crew. I
landed about seven o'clock in the morning, and the sun, notwithstanding the
earliness of the hour, shone so fiercely that it brought upon me a transient fit of
delirium, which is scarcely to be wondered at, if my previous state of exhaustion
be considered. You will readily conceive that my situation, under all its
circumstances, was not a very enviable one; some people would perhaps call it a
frightful one. I did not come however to the slightest harm, for the Lord took care
of me through two of His instruments, Messrs. Weil and Valentin, highly
respectable Jews of Copenhagen, who had been my fellow-passengers, and with
whom I had in some degree ingratiated myself on board, in our intervals of ease,
by conversing with them about the Talmud and the book Sohar. They conveyed
me to the Konig von Engeland, an excellent hotel in the street called the
Neuenwall, and sent for a physician, who caused me to take forty drops of
laudanum and my head to be swathed in wet towels, and afterwards caused me
to be put to bed, where I soon fell asleep, and awoke in the evening perfectly
recovered and in the best spirits possible. This morning, Sunday, I called on the
British Consul, Mr. H. Canning, to whom I had a letter of recommendation. He
received me with great civility, and honoured me with an invitation to dine with
him to-morrow, which I of course accepted. He is a highly intelligent man, and
resembles strikingly in person his illustrious relative, the late George Canning.
Since visiting him I have been to one of the five tall churches which tower up
above the tall houses; I thought its interior very venerable and solemn, but the
service seemed to be nothing more than a low- muttered chanting, from which it
was impossible to derive much spiritual edification. There was no sermon, and
not more than twenty persons were present, though the edifice would contain
thousands conveniently. Hamburg is a huge place, and the eastern part of it is
intersected by wide canals communicating with the Elbe, so that vessels find
their way into most parts of the city; the bridges are consequently very numerous,
and are mostly of wood. Some of the streets are planted with trees, which have a
pretty appearance, though upon the whole it has certainly no claim to the
appellation of a handsome town. But no observer can fail to be struck with the
liveliness and bustle which reign in this emporium of continental Europe, worthy
to be compared with Tyre of old or our own Liverpool. Another city adjoins it
called Altona, the park of which and the environs are the favourite Sunday lounge
of the Hamburgers. Altona is in Holstein, which belongs to the Danish
Government. It is separated from the Hanseatic town merely by a small gateway,