Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society by George Borrow - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

Letter 47: 14th January, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Jany. 24, 1837) JANY. 14, 1837, MADRID.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Immediately on my arrival at Madrid, which occurred on the 26th of last month, I despatched letters to yourself and Mr. Tarn, in that to Mr. T. was enclosed an account of my expenses, both of which letters I hope have arrived in safety. I now take up the pen to acquaint you with what I have done since my arrival, and what I, with the Lord's assistance, purpose doing.

My first care was to wait on my excellent friend, Mr. Villiers, who received me with his usual kindness. I asked him if it were his opinion that I might venture to commence printing the Scriptures without an application to the present Government, as the law is doubtful on the point. His reply was satisfactory: 'You obtained the permission of the Government of Isturitz,' said he, 'which was a much less liberal one than the present; I am a witness to the promise made to you by the former Ministers, which I consider sufficient; you had best commence and complete the work as soon as possible, without any fresh application, and should any one attempt to interrupt you, you have only to come to me, whom you may command at any time.' - I went away with a light heart.

I next visited Mr. O'Shea, who was very glad to see me again, and assured me that he took the greatest interest in my undertaking, and should be happy to further it to the utmost of his power. I knew that he had been connected with the paper-manufactories of the south, and a thought struck me. You will remember that I brought over specimens of paper from thirty to eighty REALS per ream, and that I was authorised to purchase 600 reams of paper at 60 REALS per ream. I asked Mr. O'Shea if he did not think that, through his connections, he could procure me such paper as I wanted at a much cheaper rate than it was possible for me to obtain it; he said he would make enquiries. I returned in a few days: he had performed more than I expected, and he showed me paper at 45 REALS, better than what I could have purchased at 70, likewise some very good at 37. I hesitated for some time between these two specimens; I at length, however, determined to purchase that at 45 REALS. I am therefore able to communicate that in paper alone 9000 REALS will have been saved to the funds of the Society, and at the same time a superior article have been procured.

I found that during my absence from Madrid Mr. Wood had quitted Mr. Borrego, and had accepted a situation in another printing establishment; but as Mr. Borrego is in possession of the only English press at Madrid, is moreover an intimate friend of Mr. O'Shea, and above all enjoys the good opinion of Mr. Villiers who interests himself in his welfare, I am determined to entrust the printing to him. Mr. Borrego has agreed to make a reduction of 10 REALS per sheet in his estimate, which I consider very liberal conduct, as the former charge, considering the rate of printing at Madrid, was by no means high. We have resolved to print the work precisely the same in shape and size as the copy entrusted to my charge, except that we shall substitute single for double columns.

I shall look over each sheet of the work myself, but in order to bring out as correct an edition as possible I have engaged the literary assistance of Dr. Usoz, the gentleman who some time since addressed a letter to the Society, in which he expressed a wish to become a member. He is one of the best Castilian scholars in Madrid, and, as he feels zeal in the cause, will, I have no doubt, prove eminently useful. Any remuneration for his labour he will leave to the consideration of the Bible Society and myself.

We shall commence printing within a few days, and I expect to have the work ready within ten weeks.

Now permit me to propose a very important question to you. What is to be done with the volumes when the work shall have passed through the press? As I am sure you will feel at a loss to give a satisfactory answer, allow me to propose the only plan which appears feasible. Believe me when I say that it is not the result of a few moments' cogitation. I have mused on it much and often. I mused on it when off Cape Finisterre in the tempest, in the cut- throat passes of the Morena, and on the plains of La Mancha, as I jogged along a little way ahead of the smuggler. It is this.

As soon as the work is printed and bound, I will ride forth from Madrid into the wildest parts of Spain, where the Word is most wanted, and where it seems next to an impossibility to introduce it. I will go through the whole of the Asturias and Galicia, and along the entire line of the Pyrenees, not forgetting to visit every part of Biscay. To accomplish this I must have horses and a man to take care of them. To purchase horses will be much more economical than to hire them, as the hire of an animal for a journey of only thirty leagues generally amounts to nearly its full value; the purchase of three horses will not amount to more than 36 pounds, and a servant may be obtained for 9d. per day and his board.

I will take with me 1200 copies, which I will engage to dispose of, for little or much, to the wild people of the wild regions which I intend to visit. As for the rest of the edition it must be disposed of, if possible, in a different way - I may say the usual way; part must be entrusted to booksellers, part to colporteurs, and a depot must be established at Madrid. Such work is every person's work, and to any one may be confided the execution of it; it is a mere affair of trade. What I wish to be employed in is what, I am well aware, no other individual will undertake to do: namely, to scatter the Word upon the mountains, amongst the valleys and the inmost recesses of the worst and most dangerous parts of Spain, where the people are more fierce, fanatic and, in a word, Carlist, - parts where bookshops are unknown, and where none of those means can be resorted to for the spread of the Bible which can be used in the more civilised portions of the kingdom.

This is the plan which I most humbly offer to the consideration of the Committee and yourself. I shall not feel at all surprised should it be disapproved of altogether; but I wish it to be understood that in that event I could do nothing further than see the work through the press, as I am confident that whatever ardour and zeal I at present feel in the cause would desert me immediately, and that I should neither be able nor willing to execute anything which might be suggested. I wish to engage in nothing which would not allow me to depend entirely on myself. It would be heart-breaking to me to remain at Madrid, expending the Society's money, with almost the certainty of being informed eventually by the booksellers and their correspondents that the work has no sale. In a word, to make sure that some copies find their way among the people I must be permitted to carry them to the people myself; and what people have more need of Christian instruction than the inhabitants of the districts alluded to?

Ere the return of the CONTRABANDISTA to Cordova, I purchased one of the horses which had brought us to Madrid. It is an exceedingly strong, useful animal, and as I had seen what it is capable of performing, I gave him the price which he demanded (about 11 pounds, 17s.). It will go twelve leagues a day with ease, and carry three hundred-weight on its back. I am looking out for another, but shall of course make no further purchase until I hear from you. I confess I would sooner provide myself with mules, but they are very expensive creatures. In the first place, the original cost of a tolerable one amounts to 30 pounds; and they, moreover, consume a vast quantity of fodder, at least two pecks of barley in the twenty-four hours with straw in proportion, and if they are stinted in their food they are of no manner of service; the attendance which they require is likewise very irksome, as they must be fed once every four hours night and day; they are, however, noble animals, and are much in vogue amongst the principal nobility.

Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, most truly yours, G. B.