Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society HTML version

Letter 15: 8th October, 1834
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Nov. 10th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, OCT. 8 [old style], 1834.
I HAVE just received your most kind epistle, the perusal of which has given me
both pain and pleasure - pain that from unavoidable circumstances I have been
unable to gratify eager expectation, and pleasure that any individual should have
been considerate enough to foresee my situation and to make allowance for it.
The nature of my occupations during the last two months and a half has been
such as would have entirely unfitted me for correspondence, had I been aware
that it was necessary, which, on my sacred word, I was not. Now, and only now,
when by the blessing of God I have surmounted all my troubles and difficulties, I
will tell, and were I not a Christian I should be proud to tell, what I have been
engaged upon and accomplished during the last ten weeks. I have been working
in the printing-office, as a common compositor, between ten and thirteen hours
every day during that period; the result of this is that St. Matthew's Gospel,
printed from such a copy as I believe nothing was ever printed from before, has
been brought out in the Mandchou language; two rude Esthonian peasants, who
previously could barely compose with decency in a plain language which they
spoke and were accustomed to, have received such instruction that with ease
they can each compose at the rate of a sheet a day in the Mandchou, perhaps
the most difficult language for composition in the whole world; considerable
progress has also been made in St. Mark's Gospel, and I will venture to promise,
provided always the Almighty smiles upon the undertaking, that the entire work of
which I have the superintendence will be published within eight months from the
present time. Now, therefore, with the premise that I most unwillingly speak of
myself and what I have done and suffered for some time past, all of which I
wished to keep locked up in my own breast, I will give a regular and
circumstantial account of my proceedings from the day when I received your
letter, by which I was authorised by the Committee to bespeak paper, engage
with a printer, and cause our type to be set in order.
My first care was to endeavour to make suitable arrangements for the obtaining
of Chinese paper. Now those who reside in England, the most civilised and
blessed of countries, where everything is to be obtained at a fair price, have not
the slightest idea of the anxiety and difficulty which, in a country like this, harass
the foreigner who has to disburse money not his own, if he wish that his
employers be not shamefully and outrageously imposed upon. In my last epistle
to you I stated that I had been asked 100 roubles per ream for such paper as we
wanted. I likewise informed you that I believed that it was possible to procure it
for 35 roubles, notwithstanding our Society had formerly paid 40 roubles for
worse paper than the samples I was in possession of. Now I have always been of