Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society HTML version

Letter 11: 28th April, 1834
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. May 26th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, April 28 (old style) 1834.
REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Being at length able to communicate some positive
information respecting the price of the paper, which we are in need of, I lose no
time in doing so. The day after I despatched my last epistle, which I hope you
have received, I was favoured with a communication from the director of the
Peterhof Fabrik or Manufactory, a gentleman who amongst other titles bears that
of Councillor of State. He was kind enough to say that I should have the 50
reams of paper which remained, and which I before alluded to, at 75 roubles per
ream; but that if any more were necessary, one hundred roubles per ream would
be required, and not any reduction would be made. You may easily guess that I
was somewhat startled at this piece of information, for upon making a calculation
I found that one ream of paper would be little more than sufficient for two copies
of the entire Mandchou New Testament. There are 480 sheets in a Russian
ream, and I suppose that our book will consist of seven parts, each containing
about the same number of sheets as the printed Mandchou Gospel of St.
Matthew. Now that Gospel contains 31 sheets, and 31 multiplied by 7 amounts to
211 [SIC], which multiplied by 2 makes 422 sheets, leaving only a surplus of 58.
Therefore the paper necessary for 1000 copies only would amount to about 450
reams, the price of which, after allowance had been made for the 50 reams at 75
roubles, would exceed 40,000 roubles. The next day I hired a calash, and spent
the best part of a week in causing myself to be driven to all the places in the
vicinity of Petersburg where paper is made. Knowing but too well that it is the
general opinion of the people of this country that Englishmen are made of gold,
and that it is only necessary to ask the most extravagant price for any article in
order to obtain it, I told no person, to whom I applied, who I was, or of what
country; and I believe I was supposed to be a German. In some places I had now
the pleasure of hearing that I could have the paper at 60 roubles per ream. At
last I came to a person whom, after having informed him that I was in need of a
very great quantity, perhaps a thousand reams or more, I beat down from 50 to
40 roubles, from 40 to 35, and it is probable that I may be able to obtain a large
quantity at 30. I must inform you that I also employed two agents, and we three
going various ways have ascertained that the necessary paper may be procured
for between 30 and 40 roubles per ream, paper of as good a quality - nay, better
than that on which the Gospel of St. Matthew was printed, and that for which 100
roubles were demanded at Peterhof. It is therefore now time for the Committee to
come to a decision respecting the number of copies to be printed, and I wish it to
be borne in mind that the price of the paper per ream in some degree depends
upon the quantity required. I do not think it possible to obtain any where paper of
a similar quality at a less price than 30 or 35 roubles; for the specimens which I
have obtained are very beautiful, and a work printed on such paper need not be