Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society by George Borrow - HTML preview
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Letter 5: 4th August, 1833
To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 13, 1833) HAMBURG, AUGUST 4TH, 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, so that it may truly be said here that there is but one step from a republic to a monarchy. Little can be said in commendation of the moral state of this part of the world, for rope-dancers were displaying their agility in the park to-day, and the dancing-saloons, which I am informed are most infamous places, are open to the public this evening. England with all her faults has still some regard to decency, and will not tolerate such a shameless display of vice on so sacred a season, when a decent cheerfulness is the freest form in which the mind or countenance ought to invest themselves. I shall depart for Lubeck on the sixth (Tuesday), and shall probably be on the Baltic on my way to St. Petersburg on the eighth, which is the day notified for the departure the steamboat. My next letter, provided it pleases the Almighty to vouch-safe me a happy arrival, will be from the Russian capital; and with a fervent request that you will not forget me in your prayers, and that you will present my kind remembrances and best respects to Mr. Brandram, and also remember me to Mr. Hattersley and Mr. Tarn, I have the honour to remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,GEORGE BORROW.