Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society HTML version

Letter 19: 20th February, 1835
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. March 23, 1835)
ST. PETERSBURG, FEBRY. 20 [old style], 1835.
REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I take advantage of the period of the Russian Carnival,
during which all business is at a stand-still, to transmit to you some account of
the manner in which I have been engaged, since the time when I last addressed
myself to you. True it is, that I have not much to communicate; for the history of
one day is that of a week, and a month; and when I state that the printing of the
Mandchou New Testament is advancing rapidly to a conclusion, I shall have
stated all I can of much importance; but as you and our excellent friends at home
have a right to demand particulars, I will endeavour to be as particular as lies
within my power.
About a month since I placed in the hands of Baron Schilling bound copies of the
first four parts of the Testament, the Gospels; he having kindly promised to cause
them to be conveyed to London by one of the couriers belonging to the Foreign
Department, to which the Baron is attached. I have reason to believe, however,
that you have not received them yet, as I have been informed that they remained
in Petersburg some weeks after they had been deposited in the Foreign Office;
but in this respect I am not culpable; and having no direct means of sending
packets to London, I am glad to embrace any which may come in my way,
especially those not attended with expense to the Society. In the mean time, I
wish to inform you that I am at present occupied on the last sheets of the fifth
volume of the Testament, namely, the Acts of the Apostles, in getting which
through the press I have experienced much difficulty, partly from the illness of my
compositors, and partly from the manner in which the translation was originally
executed, which has rendered much modification highly necessary.
How I have been enabled to maintain terms of friendship and familiarity with Mr.
Lipoftsoff, and yet fulfil the part which those who employ me expect me to fulfil, I
am much at a loss to conjecture; and yet such is really the case. It is at all times
dangerous to find fault with the style and composition of authors and translators,
even when they come to your door to ask for your advice and assistance. You
may easily conceive then, that my situation has been one of treble peril. Mr. L. is
the Censor of his own work, and against the Censor's fiat in Russia there is no
appeal; he is moreover a gentleman whom the slightest contradiction never fails
to incense to a most incredible degree; and being a strict member of the Greek
Sclavonian Church, imagines that the revealed word and will of the Supreme are
only to be found in the Sclavonian Scriptures, from which he made his Mandchou
version. Yet whenever anything has displeased me in his translation, I have
frankly told him my opinion; and in almost every instance (and the instances have
been innumerable: for in translations of the sacred writings omissions and