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Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

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Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

LETTER: February 10th, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
FEB. 10TH, 1833.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have just received your communication, and
notwithstanding it is Sunday morning, and the bells with their loud
and clear voices are calling me to church, I have sat down to
answer it by return of post. It is scarcely necessary for me to
say that I was rejoiced to see the Chrestomathie Mandchou, which
will be of no slight assistance in learning the Tartar dialect, on
which ever since I left London I have been almost incessantly
occupied. It is, then, your opinion, that from the lack of
anything in the form of Grammar I have scarcely made any progress
towards the attainment of Mandchou; perhaps you will not be
perfectly miserable at being informed that you were never more
mistaken in your life. I can already, with the assistance of
Amyot, TRANSLATE MANDCHOU with no great difficulty, and am
perfectly qualified to write a critique on the version of St.
Matthew's Gospel, which I brought with me into the country. Upon
the whole, I consider the translation a good one, but I cannot help
thinking that the author has been frequently too paraphrastical,
and that in various places he must be utterly unintelligible to the
Mandchous from having unnecessarily made use of words which are not
Mandchou, and with which the Tartars cannot be acquainted.

What must they think, for example, on coming to the sentence . . .
APKAI ETCHIN NI POROFIYAT, I.E. the prophet of the Lord of heaven?
For the last word in the Mandchou quotation being a modification of
a Greek word, with no marginal explanation, renders the whole dark
to a Tartar. [Greek text which cannot be recorded]; APKAI I know,
and ETCHIN I know, but what is POROFIYAT, he will say. Now in
Tartar, there are words synonymous with our seer, diviner, or
foreteller, and I feel disposed to be angry with the translator for
not having used one of these words in preference to modifying
[Greek text]; and it is certainly unpardonable of him to have
Tartarized [Greek text] into . . . ANGUEL, when in Tartar there is
a word equal to our messenger, which is the literal translation of
[Greek text]. But I will have done with finding fault, and proceed
to the more agreeable task of answering your letter.

My brother's address is as follows:
Don Juan Borrow,
Compagnia Anglo Mexicana,
Guanajuato, Mexico.

When you write to him, the letter must be put in post before the
third Wednesday of the month, on which day the Mexican letter-
packet is made up. I suppose it is unnecessary to inform you that
the outward postage of all foreign letters must be paid at the
office, but I wish you particularly to be aware that it will be
absolutely necessary to let my brother know in what dialect of the
Mexican this translation is made, in order that he may transmit it
to the proper quarter, for within the short distance of twenty
miles of the place where he resides there are no less than six
dialects spoken, which differ more from each other than the German
does from the English. I intend to write to him next Thursday, and
if you will favour me with an answer on this very important point,
by return of post, I shall feel obliged.

Return my kind and respected friend Mr. Brandram my best thanks for
his present of THE GYPSIES' ADVOCATE, and assure him that, next to
the acquirement of Mandchou, the conversion and enlightening of
those interesting people occupy the principal place in my mind.
Will he be willing to write to the Gypsy Committee concerning me?
I wish to translate the Gospel of St. John into their language,
which I could easily do with the assistance of one or two of the
old people, but then they must be paid, for the Gypsies are more
mercenary than Jews. I have already written to my dear friend Mr.
Cunningham on this subject, and have no doubt that he will promote
the plan to the utmost of his ability. I must procure a letter of
introduction from him to Joseph Gurney, and should be very happy to
obtain one also from Mr. Brandram, for in all which regards the
Gospel and the glory of Christ, Joseph Gurney is the principal
person to look to in these parts. I will now conclude by
beseeching you to send me as soon as possible WHATEVER CAN SERVE TO
should in a month's time be able to send a Mandchou translation of
Jonah. In the meanwhile I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most
humble and obedient servant,


LETTER: 18th March, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
18TH MARCH, 1833,

DEAR SIR, - As yourself and Mr. Brandram expressed a desire to hear
from me occasionally concerning my progress in Mandchou, I now
write to inform you that I am advancing at full gallop, and am able
to translate with pleasure and facility the specimens of the best
authors who have written in the language contained in the
compilation of Klaproth. But I must confess that the want of a
Grammar has been, particularly in the beginning of my course, a
great clog to my speed, and I have little doubt that had I been
furnished with one I should have attained my present knowledge of
Mandchou in half the time. I was determined however not to be
discouraged, and, not having a hatchet at hand to cut down the tree
with, to attack it with my knife; and I would advise every one to
make the most of the tools which happen to be in his possession,
until he can procure better ones, and it is not improbable that by
the time the good tools arrive he will find he has not much need of
them, having almost accomplished his work. This is not exactly my
case, for I shall be very glad to receive this same tripartite
Grammar which Mr. Brandram is hunting for, my ideas respecting
Mandchou construction being still very vague and wandering, and I
should also be happy if you could and would procure for me the
original grammatical work of Amyot, printed in the MEMOIRES, etc.
Present my kind regards to Mr. Hattersley, and thank him in my name
for his kind letter, but at the same time tell him that I was sorry
to learn that he was putting himself to the trouble of transferring
into Mandchou characters the specimens which Amyot has given in
Roman, as there was no necessity for it in respect to myself, a
mere transcript being quite sufficient to convey the information I
was in need of. Assure him likewise that I am much disposed to
agree with him in his opinion of Amyot's Dictionary, which he terms
in his letter 'something not very first-rate,' for the Frenchman's
translations of the Mandchou words are anything but clear and
satisfactory, and being far from literal, frequently leave the
student in great doubt and perplexity.

I have sent to my brother one copy of St. Luke's Gospel with a
letter; the postage was 15s. 5d. My reason for sending only one
was, that the rate of postage increases with the weight, and that
the two Gospels can go out much cheaper singly than together. The
other I shall dispatch next month.

I subjoin a translation from the Mandchou, as I am one of those who
do not wish people to believe words but works; and as I have had no
Grammar, and been only seven weeks at a language which Amyot says
ONE MAY ACQUIRE IN FIVE OR SIX YEARS, I thought you might believe
my account of my progress to be a piece of exaggeration and vain
boasting. The translation is from the Mongol History, which, not
being translated by Klaproth, I have selected as most adapted to
the present occasion; I must premise that I translate as I write,
and if there be any inaccuracies, as I daresay there will, some
allowance must be made for haste, which prevents my devoting the
attention necessary to a perfectly correct rendering of the text.

I will conclude by observing that I believe myself at present
competent to edit any book in Mandchou, IF THAT BE WHAT IS WANTED,
and beg leave to remain, dear Sir, your obedient humble servant,


LETTER: 9th June, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
JUNE 9TH, 1833

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have mastered Mandchou, and I should feel
obliged by your informing the Committee of the fact, and also my
excellent friend Mr. Brandram.

I assure you that I have had no easy and pleasant task in acquiring
this language. In the first place, it is in every respect
different from all others which I have studied, with perhaps the
exception of the Turkish, to which it seems to bear some remote
resemblance in syntax, though none in words. In the second place,
it abounds with idiomatic phrases, which can only be learnt by
habit, and to the understanding of which a Dictionary is of little
or no use, the words separately having either no meaning or a
meaning quite distinct from that which they possess when thus
conjoined. And thirdly the helps afforded me in this undertaking
have been sadly inadequate. However, with the assistance of God, I
have performed my engagement.

I have translated several pieces from the Mandchou, amongst which
is the . . . or Spirit of the Hearth ([GREEK TEXT]), which is a
peculiarly difficult composition, and which had never previously
been translated into a European language. Should you desire a
copy, I shall have great pleasure in sending one.

I shall now be happy to be regularly employed, for though I am not
in want, my affairs are not in a very flourishing condition.

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant,


LETTER: 3rd July, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
JULY 3rd, 1833.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Owing to the culpable tardiness of the post-
office people, I have received your letter so late that I have
little more than a quarter of an hour to answer it in, and be in
time to despatch it by this day's mail. What you have written has
given me great pleasure, as it holds out hope that I may be
employed usefully to the Deity, to man, and myself. I shall be
very happy to visit St. Petersburg and to become the coadjutor of
Mr. Lipoftsoff, and to avail myself of his acquirements in what you
very happily designate a most singular language, towards obtaining
a still greater proficiency in it. I flatter myself that I am for
one or two reasons tolerably well adapted for the contemplated
expedition, for besides a competent knowledge of French and German,
I possess some acquaintance with Russian, being able to read
without much difficulty any printed Russian book, and I have little
doubt that after a few months' intercourse with the natives I
should be able to speak it fluently. It would ill become me to
bargain like a Jew or a Gypsy as to terms; all I wish to say on
that point is, that I have nothing of my own, having been too long
dependent on an excellent mother, who is not herself in very easy

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, truly yours,


LETTER: 4th August, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 13, 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,


LETTER: Undated

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Sept. 26th, 1833)

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - My last letter was from Hamburg, which I hope
and trust you received. I started from thence on the 24th, and
embarking at Travemunde I arrived at the Russian capital on the
31st July (old style) after an exceedingly pleasant passage,
accomplished in the short space of 72 hours; for the wind was
during the greatest part of our way favourable and gentle, the sea
being quite as smooth as a mill pond, so that the paddles of our
noble steamer, the NIKOLAI, were not at all impeded in their
working by any rolling or pitching of the vessel. Immediately on
my arrival I sought out Mr. Swan, one of the most amiable and
interesting characters I have ever met with, and delivered to him
your letter, the contents of which were very agreeable to him; for
from applying himself too un-interruptedly to transcribing the
manuscript of the Mandchou Old Testament he had in some degree
injured his health; and the arrival of a coadjutor in the task was
exceedingly opportune. In a day or two I went with him to pay a
visit to Mr. Schmidt, who resides a few miles out of town. He
assured us that he had no doubt of permission being granted for the
printing of the Mandchou New Testament, and promised to make all
the necessary inquiries, and to inform Mr. Swan and myself of the
result. He was at the time we saw him much occupied with his
Mongolian Grammar and Dictionary, which are in the press. We have
not heard from him since this visit, and I shall probably call upon
him again in a week or two to hear what steps he has taken. I
resided for nearly a fortnight in a hotel, as the difficulty of
procuring lodgings in this place is very great, and when you have
procured them, you have to furnish them yourself at a considerable
expense. During this time I collated with Mr. Swan the greatest
part of what he had transcribed, and eventually I took up my abode
with Mr. Egerton Hubbard, a friend of Mr. Venning's, where I am for
the present very comfortably situated, and I do assure you exerting
myself to the utmost to fulfil the views of the Society. I have
transcribed from the Mandchou Old Testament the second book of
Chronicles, which when I had done, I put aside the Old Testament
for a season, and by the advice of Mr. Swan began to copy St.
Matthew's Gospel from the version of the New, executed by the same
hand as the Old, with the purpose of comparing it with that of Mr.
Lipoftsoff. This task I have just completed, and am now about to
commence a transcript of the Acts. Respecting this manuscript
translation of the Old and New Testaments I must here observe, that
with scarcely one exception it is the most laborious and best
executed work of the kind which I have ever seen, and I cannot but
admire the diligence and learning of him who, probably unasked and
unrewarded, engaged in and accomplished it. The style, as far as I
can judge, is to an eminent degree elegant and polished, and likely
to captivate those whose taste is cultivated, and with this
advantage, it exhibits none of that obscurity which too frequently
attends refinement of language; and as for fidelity - it is upon
the whole executed as literally, and with as much adherence to the
original, as the genius of the Tartar language and the
understandings of the people, for whose edification it is intended,
will permit. But the notes and elucidations (which I copy not)
which follow every chapter, both of the Old and New Testament,
constitute the most surprising feature of this work. They are so
full and copious, that they occupy far more space than the text;
indeed, I think I speak quite within bounds when I say that for
every page of text there are two of explanatory matter. The author
was a French Jesuit, and when did a Jesuit any thing which he
undertook, whether laudable or the reverse, not far better than any
other person? Staunch Protestant though I be, I am not ashamed to
say that all the skill and talent of our own missionaries, in
acquiring languages and making versions of the Scriptures, are,
when compared with the capabilities displayed by the seminary
priests, faint and seemingly insignificant; and yet it is singular
enough that the labours of the latter in this line have had almost
invariably no other fate than to be buried in continental public
libraries or in the literary collections of the learned and
curious; from which it is manifest that the Lord smiled not upon
their undertakings. They thought not of His glory but of the glory
of their order, and the consequence has been that 'He has put down
the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek.'

A few days since I called upon Mr. Lipoftsoff, and to my surprise
discovered that he was totally unaware of any plan being in
agitation for the printing of his translation of the Scriptures.
He said that he had had no communication with Mr. Schmidt for
several months; and far from being able to furnish me with any
information respecting the probable destiny of his work, he asked
questions of me concerning it. He is a gentleman rather advanced
in years, probably between sixty and seventy, but is nevertheless
surprisingly hale and robust. He was very kind, and promised to
give me any assistance in his power towards acquiring a thorough
knowledge of the Mandchou; and, permit me to say, that Petersburg
is the only place in Europe where such a knowledge can be obtained,
for the manuscripts and printed books in that tongue are very
plentiful here, and there are moreover several individuals who
speak and write it. I of course most gladly accepted such an
offer, and shall endeavour to turn it to the best account. Mr. L.
speaks no European language but Russ, which I am not sorry for,
because frequent conversation and intercourse with him will improve
my knowledge of that language. It is a great error to suppose that
a person resident in this country can dispense with Russ, provided
he is acquainted with French and German. The two latter languages,
it is true, are spoken by the French and German shop-keepers
settled here. French is moreover spoken (to foreigners) by the
nobility and a few of the officers in the army; but neither are so
generally understood as in England - German far less so; and as for
the Russians being the best general linguists in Europe, I am
totally unable to guess how the idea could have originated, but am
certain from personal experience that they are quite the contrary.

Petersburg is the finest city in the world; neither London nor
Paris nor any other European capital which I have visited has
sufficient pretensions to enter into comparison with it in respect
to beauty and grandeur. Many of the streets are miles in length,
as straight as an arrow and adorned with the most superb edifices.
The so-called Nevsky Prospect, a street which runs from the
Admiralty to the Monastery of St. Alexander Nevsky, is nearly three
miles in length and for the greatest part of the way floored with
small blocks of wood shaped octagonally. The broad and rapid Neva
runs through the centre of this Queen of cities, and on either side
is a noble quay, from which you have a full view of the river and
of what is passing on its bosom. But I will not be diffuse in the
description of objects which have been so often described, but
devote the following lines which my paper will contain to more
important matters.

The lower orders of the Russians are very willing to receive
Scriptural information, and very willing to purchase it if offered
to them at a price which comes within their means. I will give an
interesting example of this. A young man of the name of Nobbs, in
the employ of Mr. Leake, an English farmer residing a few VERSTS
from Petersburg, is in the habit on his return from the latter
place, whither he is frequently sent by his master, to carry with
him a satchel filled with Russian New Testaments and religious
tracts, with which he is supplied by an excellent English lady who
dwells there. He says that before he has reached home, he has
invariably disposed of his whole cargo to the surrounding
peasantry; and such is the hunger and thirst which they display for
the word of salvation that his stock has always been insufficient
to answer all the demands made, after it was known what merchandise
he brought with him. There remain at present three hundred copies
unsold of the modern Russian New Testament at the shop which has
the disposal of the works of the late Russian Bible Society; these
copies, all of which are damaged from having been immersed during
the inundation of 1824, might all be disposed of in one day,
provided proper individuals were employed to hawk them about in the
environs of this capital. There are twenty thousand copies on hand
of the Sclavonian Bible, which being in a language and character
differing materially from the modern Russ character and language,
and only understood by the learned, is unfit for general
circulation, and the copies will probably remain unsold, though the
Synod is more favourable to the distribution of the Scriptures in
the ancient than in the modern form. I was informed by the
attendant in the shop that the Synod had resolved upon not
permitting the printing of any fresh edition of the Scriptures in
the modern Russ until these twenty thousand copies in the ancient
language had been disposed of. But it is possible that this
assertion is incorrect.

I must now conclude; and with an earnest request that you will
write to me speedily, and deliver my kindest remembrances to Mr.
Brandram and to my other good friends at the Society House, I
remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient servant,


LETTER: 27th August, 1833

To the Rev. A. Brandram

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - The bearer of this letter is Mr. Glen, the
son of the celebrated missionary of Astracan. He is desirous of
forming your acquaintance, and I take the liberty of making him
known to you. He is a young man of considerable learning, and a
devout Christian. His object in visiting England is to qualify
himself for the missionary calling, in the hope that at some future
period he may tread in the steps of his father and proclaim a
crucified Saviour to the Oriental heathens. I am at present,
thanks be to the Lord, comfortable and happy, and am every day
busily engaged in transcribing the Mandchou Old Testament and
collating with Mr. Swan.

In the hope that these lines will find you in good health, I have
the honour to remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient


LETTER: 20th January, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Feb. 17th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, 20TH JANUARY (old style), 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I received in due time your epistle of the
2nd January, which gave me considerable pleasure, as it is
exceedingly cheering in a foreign land to hear from one's friends
and to know that one is not forgotten by them. I now proceed to
give an account of my stewardship up to the present time, which
account I humbly trust will afford perfect satisfaction to the
Society which has honoured a frail creature like myself with a
charge, the importance and difficulty of which I at present see
much more clearly than I originally did.

My dear Sir, even when transcribing the Mandchou Scripture, I was
far from being forgetful of the ulterior object of my mission, and
therefore, as in duty bound, applied to Dr. Schmidt for advice and
information, who was the person upon whom I mainly depended. But I
found that gentleman so involved in a multiplicity of business that
it was utterly impossible for him to afford me either; and though
he was kind enough to promise to make inquiry, etc. etc., it is
very probable that he forgot to fulfil his promise, for the result
never came to my ears.

Thus circumstanced, and being very uneasy in my mind, I determined
to take a bold step, and directly and without further feeling my
way to petition the Government in my own name for permission to
print the Mandchou Scriptures. Having communicated this
determination to our beloved, sincere, and most truly Christian
friend Mr. Swan (who has lately departed to his station in Siberia,
shielded I trust by the arm of his Master), it met with his perfect
approbation and cordial encouragement. I therefore drew up a
petition, and presented it with my own hand to his Excellence Mr.
Bludoff, Minister of the Interior. He having perused it, briefly
answered, that he believed the matter did not lie with him, but
that he would consider. I now began greatly to fear that the
affair would not come to a favourable issue, but nevertheless
prayed fervently to God, and confiding principally in Him, resolved
to leave no human means untried which were within my reach.

Since residing here I have assiduously cultivated the friendship of
the Honourable Mr. Bligh, His Britannic Majesty's plenipotentiary
at the Court of Russia, who has shown me many condescending marks
of kindness, and who is a person of superb talents, kind
disposition, and of much piety. I therefore, on the evening of the
day of my presenting the petition, called upon him, and being
informed that he was out of town, and was not expected till late at
night, I left a letter for him, in which I entreated him to make
use of whatever influence his high official situation was
calculated to give him with the Minister, towards procuring a
favourable reply; assuring him that the Mandchou version was not
intended for circulation nor calculated for circulation in any part
of the Russian Empire, but in China and Chinese Tartary solely. I
stated that I would call for an answer the next morning. I did so,
and upon seeing Mr. Bligh, he was kind enough to say that if I
desired it he would apply officially to the Minister, and exert all
his influence in his official character in order to obtain the
accomplishment of my views; but at the same time suggested that it
would, perhaps, be as well at a private interview to beg it as a
personal favour; and to this I instantly assented. He spoke twice
to Mr. Bludoff upon the subject; and I shortly afterwards received
a summons to appear at the Asiatic Department, whither I went, and
found that Mr. Bludoff had been enquiring whether any person was to
be found capable of being employed as Censor over the work, and
that it had been resolved that Mr. Lipoftsoff, who is one of the
clerks of the Asiatic Department, should be appointed Censor, and
that I should be the Editor of the work, provided permission were
granted to print it. I went away, and having received no
intelligence during the space of a fortnight, I waited upon Mr.
Bligh and begged that, provided it were not disagreeable to him, he
would make a fresh application to the Minister. And, singularly
enough, Mr. Bludoff was to dine at Mr. Bligh's that evening, and
the latter amiable gentleman assured me that he would not let so
excellent an opportunity slip of saying what was calculated to
bring the matter to a conclusion. That same night I received a
message, whereby I was requested to wait on Mr. Bludoff the next
day, at one. I did so, and he received me in the most polite
manner and said that the matter did not entirely depend upon him,
but that it would be necessary to obtain the permission also of the
Director of Worship, that however he would give me a letter to that
Dignitary, which he doubted not would have some effect. I received
the letter, and without losing any time repaired to the Director's
Office and having delivered my letter, after waiting some time, was
told to call at the Asiatic Department on the first day of the next
week (the very day your letter arrived). On calling there I FOUND

I hope that the honourable Committee and yourself will feel no
displeasure at my presuming here to make a slight suggestion. We
are under great obligations to Mr. Bligh; and I have certainly
taken great liberties with the friendship with which he has thought
proper to favour me, liberties which I should certainly not have
felt myself authorised to have taken in any affair, the end of
which was not the glorifying of God, as the aim of this certainly
is. I therefore should wish to hint the expediency of a letter in
which the thanks of the Committee be presented to Mr. Bligh for the
interest which he has been pleased to take in this business, and
for the trouble he has given himself. You are well aware that a
handsome acknowledgement of a kindness received is never taken
amiss; and as it is not impossible that Mr. Bligh, at another time
and even at another place, may have an opportunity of promoting the
excellent views of the Society, I cannot help thinking that such an
acknowledgement would be unwise neither in respect to what has
occurred or may occur hereafter.

In reply to your inquiries respecting my progress in the Mandchou
language, I have to observe that for some time past I have taken
lessons from a person who was twelve years in Pekin, and who speaks
Mandchou and Chinese with fluency. I pay him about six shillings
English for each lesson, which I grudge not, for the perfect
acquirement of Mandchou is one of my most ardent wishes; as I am
convinced that it is destined by providence to be the medium for
the spiritual illumination of countless millions of Chinese and
Tartars. At present I can transcribe the Manchou character with
much greater facility and speed than I can the English. I can
translate from it with tolerable facility, and have translated into
it, for an exercise, the second homily of the Church of England "On
the Misery of Man." I have likewise occasionally composed a few
hymns in this language, the difficulty of which I am at present
more fully aware of than when I left England. It is one of those
deceitful tongues, the seeming simplicity of whose structure
induces you to suppose, after applying to them for a month or two,
that little more remains to be learned, but which, should you
continue to study a year, as I have studied this, show themselves
to you in their veritable colours, amazing you with their
copiousness, puzzling with their idioms. In a word Mandchou is
equally as difficult as Sanscrit or Persian, neither of which
languages has ever been thoroughly acquired by any European, though
at first acquaintance they flatter the student with their deceitful
simplicity. I take the liberty of sending you a short original
epigram in rhymed Mandchou, which if it answers no other purpose
will afford you some idea of my running Mandchou hand, which, as I
now write perpendicularly, is very different from that hand which I
wrote previously to my coming hither. The epigram is upon the
exploits of the Tartars.

[Here follow four upright lines in Manchu characters.]

Milites qui e Manjurico deserto exierunt, bellando silvas, campos
et oppida Sinensis imperii captarunt.

Want of room obliges me to defer making a report upon Mr.
Lipoftsoff's translation until my next letter, which will follow in
a week or two; for I am unwilling in a matter of such immense
importance to deliver a brief and hurried opinion. I have much to
communicate also respecting the proper means to be pursued for the
introduction and circulation of the volume, when printed, in China
and Tartary. This information I have derived from the most
authentic sources, namely from individuals who have spent many
years in these countries, and whose acquaintance I have eagerly

From England I have lately received a letter in which is an extract
from an epistle of my brother in Mexico, amounting to this - that
there is no native language in that country entitled to the
appellation of THE Mexican language; that it is as incorrect to
make use of such an expression, as it would be to say definitely
THE European language; that setting aside the Spanish there are
upwards of twenty languages and dialects spoken in Mexico, none of
which are read (except perhaps here and there by a few individuals)
but communicated by the mouth and only acquired by the ear; that my
brother has shown the sheet of St. Luke's Gospel, which I
transmitted to him, to various Spaniards and Indians, but it was
unintelligible to them, the latter not recognising the words when
read to them. I should therefore advise that the copies of this
version be sent, if possible, to the place where the version was
purchased, as it was probably made in the language or dialect of
that place or neighbourhood, and where there is a chance of its
being of some utility. Should my brother have survived the late
dreadful commotions in Mexico, I have no doubt that he will be
exceedingly happy to assist in flinging the rays of Scriptural
light over that most benighted and miserable region; but having
lately read in the Russian newspapers that the town of Guanajuato,
where he resided, has been taken and sacked by the murderous bands
of the insurgents, I have great reason to fear that his earthly
course is terminated, for the former, incited by their demoniacal
priests, in comparison with whom the Shamans of Manjuria and the
lamas of Mongolia and China are innocent and holy, lay hold of
every opportunity of shedding the blood of Protestants and

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, most truly yours,


LETTER: 4th February, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. March 10th, 1834, with Report on the Mandchou New
4 FEBRUARY (old style) 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - In compliance with the request of the
Committee, expressed in your epistle of the 2nd January, I herewith
send a report upon Mr. Lipoftsoff's translation; and as there were
many things which I wished to mention in my last letter, but was
unable from want of room, I take this opportunity of stating them,
with the hope that they will meet with your approbation.

In the first place, whatever communication you wish to make to Mr.
Lipoftsoff I think you had best charge me with to him, for in that
case you will be certain that he will receive it, without loss of
time. But I must inform you that he is rather a singular man, and
to all appearances perfectly indifferent to the fate of his
excellent translation, caring nothing whether it be published as a
powerful instrument to open the closed eyes and soften the hard
hearts of the idolators of China and Tartary, or whether it be
committed to the flames, and for ever lost to the world. You
cannot conceive the cold, heartless apathy in respect to the
affair, on which I have been despatched hither as an ASSISTANT,
which I have found in people, to whom I looked, not unreasonably,
for encouragement and advice. But thanks be to the Lord, the great
object has been accomplished, permission has been obtained to print
the New Testament, and have no doubt that permission for the whole
Bible is within our reach. And in regard to what we have yet to
do, let it be borne in mind, that we are by no means dependent upon
Mr. Lipoftsoff; though certainly to secure the services which he is
capable of performing would be highly desirable, and though he
cannot act outwardly in the character of Editor, he having been
appointed Censor, he may privately be of great utility to us.
Therefore let the attempt to engage his services be made without

At the Sarepta House is a chest containing Mandchou characters,
belonging to the Bible Society, which I shall cause to be examined
for the purpose of ascertaining whether they have sustained any
injury from rust during the long time they have been lying
neglected; if any of them have, my learned friend Baron Schilling,
who is in possession of a small fount of Mandchou types for the
convenience of printing trifles in that tongue, has kindly promised
to assist us with the use of as many of his own as may be
necessary. There is one printing office here, where they are in
the habit of printing with the Mongolian character, which differs
but little from the Mandchou; consequently the Mongolian
compositors will be competent to the task of composing in Mandchou.
There are no Mandchou types in St. Petersburg, with the exception
of our own and Baron Schilling's.

I suppose that it will be thought requisite to print the town for a
year or so, it is my humble opinion, and the opinion of much wiser
people, that if he were active, zealous and likewise courageous,
the blessings resulting from his labours would be incalculable. It
would be by no means a difficult thing to make excursions into
Tartary and to form friendships amongst the Tartar hordes, and I am
far from certain that with a little management and dexterity he
would be unable to penetrate even to Pekin, and to return in
safety, after having examined the state of the land. I can only
say that if it were my fortune to have the opportunity, I would
make the attempt, and should consider myself only to blame if I did
not succeed.

In my last letter I informed you that I had procured myself an
instructor in Mandchou, and that I was making tolerable progress in
the language. I should now wish to ask whether this person could
not be turned to some further account; for example, to assist me in
making a translation into Mandchou of the Psalms and Isaiah, which
have not yet been rendered. A few shillings a week, besides what I
give him for my own benefit, would secure his co-operation, for he
is a person in very low circumstances. He is not competent to
undertake any thing of the kind by himself, being in many respects
very simple and ignorant; but as an assistant I think he might be
of considerable utility, and that between us we could produce a
version which, although it might not be particularly elegant, would
be clear, grammatical and faithful to the original. In the mean
time I shall pursue my studies, and be getting every thing in
readiness for setting the printers at work; and with a humble
request for SPEEDY INSTRUCTIONS, in order that as little time as
possible may be lost in the work of the Lord, I have the honour to
remain, Revd. and dear Sir,

Your most obedient and humble servant,


P.S. - My kindest regards to Mr. Brandram and my other dear friends
at the Bible House. I thank you heartily for your kind advice in
the latter part of your last epistle. Do me the favour to inform
Dr. Richardson that I have followed his instructions in regard to
clothing, etc., and have derived great benefit therefrom.

LETTER: 15th February, 1834

To the Rev. Joseph Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. March -, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, FEBRY. 15 (old style), 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Having forgotten in my last letter to say
something which I intended, I take the liberty of troubling you
with these lines. But first of all I must apologise for certain
slips of the pen in the Report which I transmitted; for it left me
without having been corrected, Baron Schilling having called upon
me just as I sat down to the task, and when he had departed, I had
barely time to seal it and despatch it by that week's post. There
was in it, I believe, nothing of much importance which required
alteration, but, if I mistake not, I had written, in the third
side, vibebam, instead of VIVEREM, and unaparelled, or some such
word, instead of UNPARALLELED, in the fourth. Now to the point.

What is to be done with the transcript of Puerot's translation of
the Acts of the Apostles, which I made, and which is now in my
possession? The translation is in every respect an admirable one;
clear, faithful, and elegant. It would not do to print it in lieu
of Mr. Lipoftsoff's translation of that part of the New Testament;
because the styles of the two individuals are so different, that to
mix up the writings of the one with those of the other would only
serve to disfigure the work, and Mr. Lipoftsoff's translation is
well worthy of being printed separately and entire; but I conceive
that we possess a treasure in Puerot's writings, and that it would
be a great pity to hide any portion of them from the world. Pray
communicate this hint to the Committee, and pardon me for troubling

I remain, Rev. and dear Sir, most sincerely yours,


LETTER: 15th April, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd, May 16th, 1834)
15TH APRIL (old style) 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Upon the receipt of your letter of the [21st]
ult. [date omitted], I lost no time in endeavouring to obtain the
necessary information upon the points to which you directed my
attention; and I have some hope that what I am about to communicate
will not be altogether unsatisfactory; but I must first of all
state that it was not acquired in a day, and that I have been
obliged to go to many people and many places, which will account
for my not having sooner returned an answer.

First, respecting the most important point, the expense of printing
the New Testament in Mandchou. I was quite terrified at the
enormous sums which some of the printers to whom I made application
required for the work. At length our friend Dr. Schmidt
recommended me to the University Press, and I having spoken to the
directors of the establishment, they sent me in the course of a
week an estimate which neither Dr. Schmidt nor myself considered to
be unreasonable, and of this estimate I here subjoin a translation:

To Mr. Borrow.

'After much consultation with the compositor, I have come to the
following result concerning the Mandchou business about which you
consulted me. If the work be printed on as thin paper as that of
the original, it can only be printed on one side. Now supposing
that the size is to be folio like that of the original, two sides
will make a sheet, and the price of composition will be 26 roubles,
20 copecks - that is to say; 12R. to the compositor, wages 2R.
50c., percentage to the printing office 11R. 60c., making 26R. 20c.
The printing of 1000 on one side 2R. 50c., percentage 2R., making
4R. 50c. Thus for composition and printing 30R. 60c. for 1000; for
2000, 35R. 10c.; for 3000, 39R. 60c. -

Your very obedient servant,

In the meantime I had become acquainted with two German printers,
Schultz and Beneze, who being young men and just entered into
business are very eager to obtain the printing of a work of such
importance, which they hope will serve to bring them into notice,
as well as being advantageous to them in a pecuniary view. The
difference, as to the expense of printing, in the estimate made by
these gentlemen and that of the University Press, will doubtless as
much surprise you, as it did me. Here it follows:

'In respect to the printing of the New Testament in the Manchou
language, the undersigned oblige themselves to undertake the
printing of the said work. In the first place, as the Bible
Society, and in particular their agent Mr. Borrow, think fit to
furnish the printers with the necessary types and paper, the
undersigned offer to supply the sheet consisting of four pages with
composition, clean and black printing, at the rate of 25 roubles,
paper currency, for a thousand copies; for two thousand copies,
five additional roubles assignats, so that the same sheet, only by
a greater edition, amounts to 30 roubles assignats; thirdly, for
3000 copies in the above proportion, 35 roubles. Fourthly, we
promise during the interval of a certain period to supply at the
rate of three sheets per week.


You will perceive that the amount of this estimate is less, by more
than one-half, than the amount of the other. Schultz and Beneze's
sheet consists of four sides, and they charge less for it than the
printers of the University charge for theirs which consists only of
two. I should therefore think that upon this ground they are
entitled to the preference, were there nothing else to recommend
them, which, in my humble opinion, there is; for being young
beginners, and not having very much to do, they are more likely to
push the work forward, than a firm overwhelmed with business, from
whom, whatever might be promised, a sheet per week is the utmost to
be expected, by which much valuable time must be lost. Dr. Schmidt
is acquainted with Messrs. S. & B., and highly approves of their
being employed.

Secondly, concerning paper, with which the printer has no concern.
I can as yet say little for certain upon this matter, which has
been the occasion of no little trouble and expense; for I have been
obliged to take no less than three journeys to Peterhof, a town
about 30 VERSTS distant, where stands the paper rnanufactory, for
there is no such paper as we want in the Russian capital. In this
manufactory they have about 50 STOPES or reams (we should require
ten times that quantity for only 1000 copies) of the very paper, I
believe, on which the Mandchou Gospel of St. Matthew was printed,
and some of the workmen said that they could make as much more as
should be required. Concerning the price of this paper, I could
obtain no positive information, for the director and first and
second clerks were invariably absent, and the place abandoned to
ignorant understrappers (according to the custom of Russia). And
notwithstanding I found out the director in Petersburg, he himself
could not tell me the price, but informed me that he would inquire,
and speedily send me word; but as I have as yet heard nothing from
him, I write lest it should be supposed in England that I am
sleeping on my station. I SHALL WRITE AGAIN IN A FEW DAYS ON THIS
ascertaining how much he paid per ream for this kind of paper. I
believe it to be extravagantly dear, at least five times dearer
than good common paper, which can be procured for fifteen roubles
per ream; and if that be the case, common paper must be used and
the book printed in the common fashion, unless the Society be
prepared to disburse thousands instead of hundreds; for if the work
were printed on this Chinese paper, four times more paper would be
required than if it were printed on the other, as five multiplied
by four make twenty, the expense of paper would be twenty times

Thirdly, respecting Mr. Lipoftsoff, with whom I have of late had
much conversation. He has behaved very handsomely. He has made an
immense number of alterations in his translation, all of which are
excellent improvements, and all these are to be at our disposal
gratis. He says that he cannot receive any remuneration for
looking over the work, being bound to do so as Censor. I shall
therefore edit it, and have the supervision of the proof sheets,
which he will peruse last of all. He having examined me in
Mandchou did me the honour to say I required no assistance at all;
but should the Committee and yourself be of opinion that it would
be advisable to procure a little, the 'pundit' would be very happy
for an extra six or seven shillings per week to collate with me
when wanted. I have derived great benefit from this man, who
though in many respects a most singular and uncouth being speaks
Mandchou gallantly, with the real pronunciation of PEKIN, which
differs considerably from that of PEKHAN (the desert), being far
more soft and melodious. During the interval which will elapse
between my writing to you and hearing from you, I shall borrow from
Baron Schilling the Mandchou Old Testament and reperuse the notes
in order to be able to give a suitable opinion as to their value.
My present opinion of them is no mean one. In answer to your query
inform you that it is in the hands of a Mr. Merrilies, an English
merchant, to whom Mr. Swan entrusted it. I believe he starts for
England by the first steam-boat.

I have the honour to remain, Revd. and dear Sir, sincerely yours,


P.S. - Since my last letter I have been laid up for some time with
a nervous fever, but thank God I am quite recovered. My best
respects to Mr. Brandram. Pray excuse the haste in which this
letter is written, it will be barely in time for the post.

LETTER: 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 ashamed to
show its face amongst the most fastidious Tartars and Chinese. To
print the Testament on common paper would certainly not be
advisable, as in that case the probability is that notwithstanding
the reverence of those singular people for written or printed
characters, the sacred volume, if put into their hands, would be

I am in conformity with your expressed desire getting every thing
into readiness for commencing printing, and therefore earnestly beg
for a speedy communication, informing me how much paper I am to
bespeak, and in what manner I am to pay for it. I must here
observe that in all dealings within Russia the purchaser must have
his money ready in his hand; consequently, if I am authorised to
purchase any quantity of paper, I must have a letter of credit upon
some firm here resident, that I may be able to pay for the article
immediately upon its delivery.

I remain, Revd. and dear Sir, most truly yours,


P.S. - With respect to the paper, if purchased; would you have me
deliver the whole of it into the printer's hands at once, or should
a small apartment be hired in which to keep part of it until
wanted? In this country the wisdom of the serpent is quite as
necessary as the innocence of the dove.

LETTER: 27th June, 1834

To J. Thornton, Esq.
(ENDORSED: recd. July 22nd, 1834)

SIR, - Having drawn upon Messrs. Simondsen and Company of St.
Petersburg for the sum of 2000 roubles (two thousand roubles) as a
deposit upon an order for 450 reams of Chinese paper, at TWENTY-
FIVE ROUBLES per ream, I have to request that you will honour their
draft to the like amount.

I remain, Sir, yours,


LETTER: Undated

To the Rev. J. Jowett

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Our types are in the hands of the printer,
they have been cleaned and set in order. St. Matthew's Gospel has
been corrected, and the work of printing commences next week. Most
truly yours,

G. B.

LETTER: 1st October, 1834

To John Jackson, Esq.
OCTR. 1 (old style), 1834, ST. PETERSBURG.

MY DEAR SIR, - I am exceedingly sorry that you should have had the
trouble of writing to me to no purpose; for in respect to the
letter, which it seems by your favour of the 29th ult. you
committed to a private hand to be forwarded to me, I beg leave to
state that I have never received it, or heard anything of it. I
must earnestly intreat that in future all letters relating to
business be despatched by the regular post, otherwise great
inconvenience and misunderstanding will be the result. Private
individuals seldom give themselves the slightest trouble to deliver
letters. If they chance to fall in with the persons for whom they
are intended - well and good! if not, the letters are flung aside
and forgotten. In respect to the monies furnished me by our friend
Mr. Tarn for my journey I have sent an account of the disbursement
on the other side, and also of what I have expended already upon
the Mandchou New Testament, of which ST. MATTHEW'S GOSPEL HAS BEEN

I remain, my dear Sir, most truly yours,


To J. Tarn, Esq.,

Account of the disbursement of certain monies received by me for my
journey to St. Petersburg in the service of the B. S.:-

Received of Mr. Tarn (if I mistake not) 30 pounds, and 7 pounds,
making together 37 pounds.

Paid for fare to Hamburg by steam-boat, diet not included, 7
pounds, 0s 0d

For expenses of conveying myself and baggage to the custom-house
wharf, and of getting on board, 0 pounds, 6s, 0d

Carry forward, 7 pounds, 6s, 0d

Brought forward 7 pounds, 6s, 0d

Expenses on board the packet, viz. diet, servants, and baggage fees
at Stade on the Hanoverian coast, 1 pound, 9s, 0d

Expenses attending my landing at Hamburg, conveyg. baggage to the
hotel, etc., 0 pounds, 5s, 0d

Expenses on the day of my arrival, for medical advice, physic,
etc., having been seized by severe illness, 0 pounds, 7s, 0d

Expenses during three days' sojourn at Hamburg, viz. for lodging,
diet, and VALET DE PLACE, 1 pound, 19s, 0d

Expenses of journey to Lubeck, namely hire of calash, driver, etc.,
1 pound, 10s, 0d

Expenses of two days' sojourn at Lubeck, 1 pound, 7s, 0d

Expenses for removal of baggage to the river-side and journey down
the river Trave to steam-boat at Travemunde, 0 pound, 7s, 0d

Fare from Travemunde to St. Petersburg, diet not included, 1 pound,
0s, 0d

For diet, servants, etc., 1 pound, 17s, 6d

Total, 27 pounds, 7s, 6d

Surplus of money, 9 pounds, 12s, 6d

From which surplus of 9 pounds, 12s. 6d. are to be deducted 7
pounds, 4s., or the salary of twelve days not drawn for, which
twelve days were spent in the journey. The salary commencing from
the hour of embarcation.

Surplus due to Mr. Tarn, 2 pounds, 8s, 6d

MY DEAR SIR, - At the expiration of this quarter I shall draw for
the sum of 47 pounds, 11s. 6d. instead of the usual 50 pounds,
whereby my account with you will be liquidated. I have, according
to your suggestion when we parted, deducted the salary of the days
passed in journeying from the money which I received from you,
Messrs. Simondsen having received advice to pay me from the day of
my arrival at St. Petersburg, whereas by the words of my agreement
(see books) the salary commences from the time of embarcation. I
believe, previous to my departure, that I accounted to you for the
sums advanced for passports. I have had the good fortune, as I
suppose you are aware, to procure for 25 roubles per ream the paper
for which I was originally asked 60, and of which previously the
very lowest price has ever been 35. This paper is far superior to
that for which the Society formerly paid 40 (and which was not dear
at 40), being far stronger and more glossy. You will particularly
oblige me by taking care that Messrs. Simondsen's drafts are
honored without the slightest delay. If I were unable to pay for
the paper at the stated time I should probably be arrested, and,
what would be far more lamentable, the contract with the merchants
would be broken; and upon a fresh contract I could not obtain the
paper in question for less than 60 roubles per ream, for the winter
has already come upon us, during which most of the paper
manufactories are at a stand-still, and an order for paper would be
consequently given under every possible disadvantage. I have
forwarded, according to your desire, an account of the sums of
money hitherto drawn for, and of the manner in which they have been
disbursed. I intended to have reserved my account for Christmas,
by which season I hope, with the blessing of God, to have brought
out the four Gospels. Excuse these hasty lines, and believe me,
dear Sir, ever yours,


LETTER: 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 opinion than in the expending of money collected for sacred
purposes, it behoves the agent to be extraordinarily circumspect
and sparing. I therefore was determined, whatever trouble it might
cost me, to procure for the Society unexceptionable paper at a yet
more reasonable rate than 35 roubles. I was aware, that an
acquaintance of mine, a young Dane, was particularly intimate with
one of the first printers of this city, who is accustomed to
purchase vast quantities of paper every month for his various
publications. I gave this young gentleman a specimen of the paper
I required, and desired him (he was under obligations to me) to
enquire of his friend, AS IF FROM CURIOSITY, the least possible sum
per ream at which the PRINTER HIMSELF (who from his immense demand
for paper should necessarily obtain it cheaper than any one else)
could expect to purchase the article in question. The answer I
received within a day or two was 25 roubles. Upon hearing this I
prevailed upon my acquaintance to endeavour to persuade his friend
to bespeak the paper at 25 roubles, and to allow me,
notwithstanding I was a perfect stranger, to have it at that price.
All this was brought about. I was introduced to the printer, Mr.
Pluchard, by the Dane, Mr. Hasfeldt, and between the former
gentleman and myself a contract was made to the effect that by the
end of October he should supply me with 450 reams of Chinese paper
at 25 roubles per ream, the first delivery to be made on the 1st of
August; for as my order was given at an advanced period of the
year, when all the paper manufactories were at full work towards
the executing of orders already received, it was but natural that I
should verify the old apophthegm, 'Last come, last served.' As no
orders are attended to in Russia unless money be advanced upon
them, I deposited in the hands of Mr. Pluchard the sum of 2000
roubles, receiving his receipt for that amount.

Having arranged this most important matter to my satisfaction, I
turned my attention to the printing process. I accepted the offer
of Messrs. Schultz and Beneze to compose and print the Mandchou
Testament at the rate of 25 roubles per sheet, and caused our fount
of type to be conveyed to their office. I wish to say here a few
words respecting the state in which these types came into my
possession. I found them in a kind of warehouse, or rather cellar.
They had been originally confined in two cases; but these having
burst, the type lay on the floor trampled amidst mud and filth.
They were, moreover, not improved by having been immersed within
the waters of the inundation of '27 [1824]. I caused them all to
be collected and sent to their destination, where they were
purified and arranged - a work of no small time and difficulty, at
which I was obliged to assist. Not finding with the type what is
called 'Durchschuss' by the printers here, consisting of leaden
wedges of about six ounces weight each, which form the spaces
between the lines, I ordered 120 pounds weight of those at a rouble
a pound, being barely enough for three sheets. I had now to teach
the compositors the Mandchou alphabet, and to distinguish one
character from another. This occupied a few days, at the end of
which I gave them the commencement of St. Matthew's Gospel to copy.
They no sooner saw the work they were called upon to perform than
there were loud murmurs of dissatisfaction, and . . . [four Russian
words] which means 'It is quite impossible to do the like,' was the
cry - and no wonder. The original printed Gospel had been so
interlined and scribbled upon by the author in a hand so obscure
and irregular, that, accustomed as I was to the perusal of the
written Mandchou, it was not without the greatest difficulty that I
could decipher the new matter myself. Moreover, the corrections
had been so carelessly made that they themselves required far more
correction than the original matter. I was therefore obliged to be
continually in the printing-office, and to do three parts of the
work myself. For some time I found it necessary to select every
character with my own fingers, and to deliver it to the compositor,
and by so doing I learnt myself to compose. We continued in this
way till all our characters were exhausted, for no paper had
arrived. For two weeks and more we were obliged to pause, the want
of paper being insurmountable. At the end of this period came six
reams; but partly from the manufacturers not being accustomed to
make this species of paper, and partly from the excessive heat of
the weather which caused it to dry too fast, only one ream and a
half could be used, and this was not enough for one sheet; the rest
I refused to take, and sent back. The next week came fifteen
reams. This paper, from the same causes, was as bad as the last.
I selected four reams, and sent the rest back. But this paper
enabled us to make a beginning, which we did not fail to do, though
we received no more for upwards of a fortnight, which caused
another pause. At the end of that time, owing to my pressing
remonstrances and entreaties, a regular supply of about twelve
reams per week of most excellent paper commenced. This continued
until we had composed the last five sheets of St. Matthew, when
some paper arrived which in my absence was received by Mr. Beneze,
who, without examining it, as was his duty, delivered it to the
printers to use in the printing of the said sheets, who accordingly
printed upon part of it. But the next day, when my occupation
permitted me to see what they were about, I observed that the last
paper was of a quality very different from that which had been
previously sent. I accordingly instantly stopped the press, and,
notwithstanding eight reams had been printed upon, I sent all the
strange paper back, and caused Mr. Beneze to recompose three
sheets, which had been broken up, at his own expense. But this
caused the delay of another week.

This last circumstance made me determine not to depend in future
for paper on one manufactory alone. I therefore stated to Mr.
P[luchard] that, as his people were unable to furnish me with the
article fast enough, I should apply to others for 250 reams, and
begged him to supply me with the rest as fast as possible. He made
no objection. Thereupon I prevailed upon my most excellent friend,
Baron Schilling, to speak to his acquaintance, State-Councillor
Alquin, who is possessed of a paper manufactory, on the subject.
M. Alquin, as a personal favour to Baron Schilling (whom, I
confess, I was ashamed to trouble upon such an affair, and should
never have done so had not zeal for the CAUSE induced me),
consented to furnish me with the required paper on the same terms
as Mr. P. At present there is not the slightest risk of the
progress of our work being retarded - at present, indeed, the path
is quite easy; but the trouble, anxiety, and misery which have till
lately harassed me, ALONE in a situation of great responsibility,
have almost reduced me to a skeleton.

My dearest Sir, do me the favour to ask our excellent Committee,
Would it have answered any useful purpose if, instead of continuing
to struggle with difficulties and using my utmost to overcome them,
I had written in the following strain - and what else could I have
written if I had written at all? - 'I was sent out to St.
Petersburg to assist Mr. Lipoftsoff in the editing of the Mandchou
neither time, inclination, or eyesight for the task, and I am
apprehensive that my strength and powers unassisted are incompetent
to it' (praised be the Lord, they were not!), 'therefore I should
be glad to return home. Moreover the compositors say that they are
unaccustomed to compose in an unknown tongue from such scribbled
and illegible copy, and they will scarcely assist me to compose.
Moreover the working printers say (several went away in disgust)
that the paper on which they have to print is too thin to be
wetted, and that to print on dry requires a two-fold exertion of
strength, and that they will not do such work for double wages, for
it ruptures them.' Would that have been a welcome communication to
the Committee? Would that have been a communication suited to the
public? I was resolved 'to do or die,' and, instead of distressing
and perplexing the Committee with complaints, to write nothing
until I could write something perfectly satisfactory, as I now can;
and to bring about that result I have spared neither myself nor my
own money. I have toiled in a close printing-office the whole day,
during 90 degrees of heat, for the purpose of setting an example,
and have bribed people to work whom nothing but bribes would induce
so to do.

I am obliged to say all this in self-justification. No member of
the Bible Society would ever have heard a syllable respecting what
I have undergone but for the question, 'What has Mr. Borrow been
about?' I hope and trust that question is now answered to the
satisfaction of those who do Mr. Borrow the honour to employ him.
In respect to the expense attending the editing of such a work as
the New Testament in Mandchou, I beg leave to observe that I have
obtained the paper, the principal source of expense, at fifteen
roubles per ream less than the Society paid formerly for it - that
is to say, at nearly half the price.

As St. Matthew's Gospel has been ready for some weeks, it is high
time that it should be bound; for if that process be delayed, the
paper with be dirtied and the work injured. I am sorry to inform
you that book-binding in Russia is incredibly dear, and that the
expenses attending the binding of the Testament would amount, were
the usual course pursued, to two-thirds of the entire expenses of
the work. Various book-binders to whom I have applied have
demanded one rouble and a half for the binding of every section of
the work, so that the sum required for the binding of one Testament
alone would be twelve roubles. Dr. Schmidt assured me that one
rouble and forty copecks, or, according to the English currency,
fourteenpence halfpenny, were formerly paid for the binding of
every individual copy of St. Matthew's Gospel. I pray you, my dear
Sir, to cause the books to be referred to, for I wish to know if
that statement be correct. In the meantime arrangements have been
made, and the Society will have to pay for each volume of the
Testament the comparatively small sum of forty-five copecks, or
fourpence halfpenny, whereas the usual price here for the most
paltry covering of the most paltry pamphlet is fivepence. Should
it be demanded how I have been able to effect this, my reply is
that I have had little hand in the matter. A nobleman, who honours
me with particular friendship, and who is one of the most
illustrious ornaments of Russia and of Europe, has, at my request,
prevailed on his own book-binder, over whom he has much influence,
to do the work on these terms. That nobleman is Baron Schilling.

Commend me to our most respected Committee. Assure them that in
whatever I have done or left undone, I have been influenced by a
desire to promote the glory of the Trinity and to give my employers
ultimate and permanent satisfaction. If I have erred, it has been
from a defect of judgment, and I ask pardon of God and them.

In the course of a week I shall write again, and give a further
account of my proceedings, for I have not communicated one-tenth of
what I have to impart; but I can write no more now. It is two
hours past midnight. The post goes away to-morrow, and against
that morrow I have to examine and correct three sheets of St.
Mark's Gospel, which lie beneath the paper on which I am writing.
With my best regards to Mr. Brandram, I remain, dear Sir, most
truly yours,


P.S. - I wrote to Mr. Jackson and Mr. Tarn last week.

LETTER: 13th October, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Nov. 14, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, OCT. 13TH (old style) 1834.

REVEREND AND DEAR SIR, - In pursuance of the promise given in my
epistle of last week, which I trust in the Lord you have received,
I again address you. In the first place I must intreat you to
peruse and to read to the Committee the enclosed Latin certificate
penned by Mr. Lipoftsoff, a gentleman as little inclined to be
prodigal of praise, as was of old the learned Scaliger himself, to
whom in many points indeed, he bears no faint resemblance. In the
second place, I must inform you that a few hurried lines are all
that I can afford to write at present; my proof sheets are rushing
in so fast that time is exceedingly precious to me, and I grudge
every moment that is not devoted to my Maker or to my great

Before this letter reaches you St. Mark's Gospel will have passed
through the press. The two remaining Gospels will be printed
before the arrival of Christmas, and by the first of May the entire
New Testament, in the Mandchou language, will have been published.
I wish this intelligence to be communicated to the public, who are
at liberty, provided the Lord does not visit me with some heavy
affliction, to hold me culpable, if my assertion is belied by the

It is true that were I to pursue the common practice of editors, it
would be impossible to complete the work in less than two years;
the quantity of proofs, successively required for every sheet, fail
not, in general, to retard the progress of all such undertakings.
My beloved friend Mr. Swan published in this city a small tract in
Mongolian; he found that it was absolutely necessary to demand six
proofs of every sheet, for in the second, nay the third proof,
there were frequently as many errors as in the first, from the
compositors not being able properly to read the corrections. But I
never entrust the task of making alterations in the press to other
hands than my own. Having corrected the first proof at home, I
proceed to the printing office and rectify all errors myself. I
consequently never require more than two proofs; the second, which
I generally show to Mr. Lipoftsoff, is frequently faultless. I am
so perfectly convinced of the excellence of this plan, that it is
my firm intention to pursue it in whatever foreign, or even English
works, it may be my destiny to edit.

I wish now to say a few words upon a subject, on which I have
previously said something. At the present moment my principal
inducement to such a step is the observation every now and then
made to me, both by Christians and no Christians, namely: 'You are
printing Testaments for which you will never find readers. Do not
tell us that you can distribute them at Canton and its environs, or
on the coasts of China; there are not ten individuals amongst a
million of the aboriginal Chinese, and such constitute the
inhabitants of Canton, of the coasts and of the isles, who
understand the language in which your Testaments are printed. If
you wish for readers you must seek them amongst the masters of
Pekin and the fierce hordes of desert Tartary; but what means do
you possess for introducing them to Tartary or Pekin?' I stated in
a former letter that the town of Kiachta, upon the northern
frontier of China, appeared to me to be in many respects a suitable
head-quarters for any person on whom might devolve the task of
endeavouring to supply the Mandchou Tartars with the word of life
in their own language. I am still of opinion, and so are many
individuals much more experienced than myself, that if a passport
could be obtained from the Russian Government, the Bible Society
would do well in despatching an agent to Kiachta, to see what might
be done at, or rather from, that place in the great cause. Kiachta
is little more than 800 miles from Pekin, and not more than half
that distance from Manjuria; he might therefore, trusting in the
Lord, not unreasonably hope to be able to penetrate to the Tartar
of the capital and the desert. True it is that his undertaking
would not 'come within the limits of safe and prudent speculation.'
But is it possible for a plan to come within the limits of safe
speculation, which has in view the conversion of the Tartar? Far
be it from me to advise that the entire stock of Testaments be
hazarded in such an enterprise; 200 is the extreme number which
should be ventured, the others shipped for England, for a seizure
upon the agent and his books would be no improbable event. I am a
person of few words, and will therefore state without
circumlocution that I am willing to become that agent. I speak
Russ, Mandchou, and the Tartar or broken Turkish of the Russian
steppes, and have also some knowledge of Chinese, which I might
easily improve at Kiachta, half of the inhabitants of which town
are Chinamen. I am therefore not altogether unqualified for such
an adventure. Were the attempt to be made, the winter of the
ensuing year would be the proper time for starting, because the
book will not be ready before next spring, and the expenses of a
summer journey would be enormous.

A few days since, upon taking leave of Prince Abbas Khoulgi, who
has departed from this place to his patrimonial territories, near
the Caucasus, I presented him with a Testament in the Russian-
Tartar language, which is his native tongue. He is without one
exception the most interesting man I have ever met. Though by
religion a Mahometan he is totally divested of the blind bigotry
which so peculiarly characterises the followers of the Camel-
driver-warrior-pseudo-prophet, but on the contrary is possessed of
a mind ever restless in the pursuit of truth, and which will
doubtless eventually lead him to the narrow path which leadeth unto
salvation. The Testament which he received from me was the very
last, in the Tartar language, which remained in the shop at which
are sold the publications of what was once the Russian Bible
Society. It is a sad fact that though there are upwards of three
thousand Tartars in St. Petersburg, most of whom can read and write
the Turkish dialect which they speak, not one Testament is at hand
suited to their understandings. I have formed many acquaintances
among these most singular people, whose language I have acquired,
during my residence in the Russian capital, chiefly from conversing
with my servant Mahomet Djaffier, a native of Bucharia, son of the
Iman or Mahometan priest of this place. Notwithstanding the
superstition and fanaticism of these men I am much attached to
them; for their conscientiousness, honesty, and fidelity are beyond
all praise. They stand in strong contrast with the lower orders of
the Russians, a good-natured, lowly-vicious, wavering race, easily
excited, easily soothed; whilst the former are sedate, sober,
temperate beings, with minds like Egyptian granite, from which it
is no easy matter to efface an impression, once made. How
lamentable that such people should in the all-important matter of
religion have embraced error instead of truth; what ornaments they
would prove at the present day to Christianity, if, instead of
Mahometanism, Christianity had originally come in their way! Of a
surety they would reflect much more lustre on the religion of
Christ than millions whose deeds and behaviour are more worthy of
the followers of the impostor than of Him 'in whose mouth was found
no craft or subtlety.'

I have much more to write and wish so to do, but I have really no
time. It is probable that you will not hear from me again before
Christmas (old style), but I entreat YOU to inform me as soon as
possible whether my proceedings give satisfaction or not; but I
must here take the liberty of stating that if I were moved one inch
from my own course, the consequences might prove disastrous to the
work, as I should instantly lose all power of exertion. I want no
assistance but that of God, and will accept of none. Pray, I
beseech you, that THAT be granted.

You would, my dear Sir, be conferring a great favour upon me, if
you would so far trouble yourself as to write a few lines to my
venerated friend Mr. Cunningham of Lowestoft, informing him that I
am tolerably well, and that the work is going on most prosperously.

I remain, Reverend and dear Sir,

Your most humble and obliged servant,


P.S. - Baron Schilling wishes to have a Chinese Testament of the
large edition: pray, send one if possible, and direct it to me at
the Sarepta House. Be particular to remember that it must be of
the large edition, for he has one of the small already in his
possession. He wishes likewise to have Gutzlaff and Lindsay's


Testifico -

Dominum Burro ab initio usque ad hoc tempus summa cum deligentia et
studio in re Mantshurica laborasse.


LETTER: 15/27 December, 1834

To J. Tarn, Esq.
ST. PETERSBURG, DECR. 15/27, 1834.

ON the other side I send an account of the money disbursed since
the period of my last writing to you until the present moment. In
respect to the 75 roubles charged for the reprinting of three
sheets of St. Matthew, I beg leave to observe, that after several
sheets of that Gospel had been printed, after the same manner as
that adopted in the first edition, Mr. Lipoftsoff, the Censor, gave
me notice that he had determined that the position of the vowel-
points should be altered; and I did not think proper to make any
opposition. But as common-sense informed me that it was by no
means expedient to exhibit two systems of pointing in the same
work, I subsequently caused the first sheets to be reprinted. I
think it necessary to offer this short explanation to prevent any
misunderstanding; for this superfluous expense must be attributed
to the Censor's not knowing originally his own mind, and not to any
negligence on my part. I am so pressed for time that I have not
been able to refer to my last account, which lies buried amongst
the ocean of my papers, and in stating that I retained in hand 123
roubles, I have merely trusted to memory and calculation; but I am
sure the Committee and yourself will excuse my little inaccuracy,
when I state my situation. My two compositors, whom I had
instructed in all the mysteries of Mandchou composition, are in the
hospital down with the brain fever, for every kind of sickness is
at present raging in this place; and during the last three days I
have been running about in all directions in quest of people to
fill their situation, until they recover.

Thanks be to the Lord, I have discovered and engaged the person who
composed the first Mandchou Gospel of St. Matthew, ten years since;
and as next week I shall again station myself in the printing
office for the purpose of assisting and instructing, the great work
will not be delayed, and in a fortnight or ten days I trust to be
able, provided an opportunity occurs, to transmit to England copies
of the four Gospels. With my best rewards to Mr. Brandram and Mr.
Jowett (whose last letter I have received), I remain, etc.,


LETTER: 1st February, 1835

To J. Tarn, Esq.

THE last account which I had the honour of transmitting to you
detailed expenses in the editing of the Mandchou Testament as far
as the first two sheets of St. John. That Gospel having by the
blessing of the Almighty passed through the press, and a copy of it
bound, and also copies of the three other Gospels, having been
forwarded to London, I snatch a moment from my occupation to give
an account of my late outgoings, the sums drawn for having been
considerable on account of my having many and large bills to
discharge. When I last wrote, I retained in hand 75 roubles 50
copecks, of the sum of 3500 drawn for; since which sum I have drawn
for the separate sums of 5000 and 500 according to the books of the
Sarepta House. I had advanced to the printer in consequence of the
illness of his compositors the sum of 250, which being deducted
from the 5000 I shall, in order to prevent confusion, take no
notice of, and proceed to give an account of the disbursement of

R. C.

5575 50

11 Jany. 1835, paid Mr. Pluchard for
one hundred and sixty-five reams
of paper at 25R. per ream, 4125

27 Dec. 1834, paid Mr. Lauffert for
the binding of St. Matthew, 450
Do. for 2 chests to contain St.
Matthew, 10
Jan. 2, 1835, to printer for 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of St. John, 200
Do. for printing 6000 titles, being
sufft. for 6 of the 8 parts of the
Test., 60
Jany. 9, from 10 to 16 of St. John, 150
Do. for the casting of 6 large type,
for titles, not in Baron Schilling's
colln., the rest being furnished
by him, 4
Do. 16. From 16 to 22 of St. John, 150
Do. 22. To Mr. Lauffert for bindg.
St. Mark's Gospel, 450
Chests, 10
Do. 22,. 22 to 26 and a half of St.
John, 112 50 5721 50

The Society are therefore at the present moment further indebted to
me 146R. 0C.

Should you discover at any time any inaccuracy in the accounts
which I transmit, you will much oblige me by instantly making me
acquainted with the same, in order that a satisfactory explanation
may be given. The sacrifice of time to the correction of the
manuscript and proof-sheets scarcely allows me a moment's leisure,
and I am moreover compelled to superintend the printers and book-
binders, for everything goes wrong without a strict surveillance.

By the time these lines reach you the Acts of the Apostles (the
Lord willing) will have passed through the press. Next week I hope
to write to the Revd. J. Jowett.

I remain, etc.,


P.S. - I believe that the seven shillings may be accounted for in
this manner. I charged seven POUNDS for my passage to Hamburg,
whereas I paid seven GUINEAS.

LETTER: 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

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 additions must ever be avoided) he has
suffered himself to be persuaded to remodel what he originally
concluded to be perfect, and which perhaps he still does. So that
in what has been hitherto printed of the Testament, there is
little, if any thing, with which any one but a professed caviller
can find fault.

I confess that in one instance I have not been able to carry my
point; though I assure you that I did not yield until I found that
it was absolutely of no avail to offer any further opposition. For
although I was convinced that Mr. L. was wrong, and I think when I
state the particulars that you will be of my opinion, he had on his
side the Chinese scholars of St. Petersburg, Baron Schilling
amongst the rest, and moreover being Censor he could have
prohibited the work from proceeding if I had been too obstinate. I
will tell you the ground of dispute; for why should I conceal it?
Mr. L., amongst what he called his improvements of the translation,
thought proper, when the Father Almighty is addressed, to erase the
personal and possessive pronouns THOU OR THINE, as often as they
occur, and in their stead to make use of the noun as the case may
require. For example, 'O Father, thou art merciful.' he would
render, 'O Father! the Father is merciful'; 'Our Father which art
in heaven, hallowed be thy name,' by 'Our . . . may the name of the
Father be made holy, may the kingdom of the Father come, may the
will of the Father be done on earth,' etc. I of course objected to
this, and enquired what reason he had for having recourse to so
much tautology. He replied that he had the best of reasons; for
that amongst the Chinese and Tartars none but the dregs of society
were ever addressed in the second person; and that it would be most
uncouth and indecent to speak to the Almighty as if He were a
servant or a slave. I told him that Christians, when they address
their Creator, do not address Him as if He were a great gentleman
or illustrious personage, but rather as children their father, with
a mixture of reverence and love; and that this mixture of reverence
and love was one of the most characteristic traits of Christianity.
But he said that in China children never address their parent in
this manner; and that it was contrary to all received usage; and
that in speaking to a parent the children observe the same
respectful formula of phraseology as in addressing an Emperor or
Viceroy. I then observed that our object in sending the Bible into
China was not to encourage the Chinese in any of their customs or
observances, but rather to wean them from them; and that however
startling any expression in the Bible might prove to them at first,
it was our hope and trust that it would eventually cease to be
disagreeable and extraordinary, and that the Chinese were at
present in a state which required stirring and powerful medicine,
medicine which must necessarily be disagreeable to the palate to
prove beneficial in another quarter. However, he said that I
talked 'PUSTOTA' (emptiness or nonsense), and as he was not to be
moved, I was compelled to acquiesce with his dictum. This occurred
some months since, and I rejoice to see in the last letter with
which you favoured me a fortuitous corroboration of my views on
this subject. I allude to that part of your letter where you state
that you do not desire the Chinese to consider the Bible the work
of a Chinese, etc. Nor do I; and throughout the progress of the
work I have collated every sheet with the Greek Testament, and
whenever I have found anything still adhering to the translation
which struck me as not being faithful to the original, I have
invariably modified it, so that, with the exception of the one
instance above mentioned, I can safely assert that the Word of God
has been rendered into Mandchou as nearly and closely as the idiom
of a very singular language would permit.

I have now received and paid for, as you will perceive by my
accompts, 495 reams of paper, which will be barely sufficient for
the work, which will consist of eight parts, instead of seven, as
we at first supposed. I take the liberty of requesting that when
the books arrive you will examine the texture of the paper on which
they are printed. Mr. L. is exceedingly pleased with it, and says
that it is superior to the paper of the first edition of St.
Matthew by at least ten roubles per ream; and that it is calculated
to endure for 200 years. It certainly does possess uncommon
strength and consistency, notwithstanding its tenuity, and the
difficulty of tearing it is remarkable. By my direction it
received a slight tinge of yellow, as no books are printed in China
upon paper entirely colourless. I must be permitted to say that
the manner in which the book-binder, Mr. Lauffert, is performing
his task is above all praise; but he has been accustomed for many
years to this kind of work, the greatest part of Baron Schilling's
immense collection of Chinese works having been bound by him. We
may esteem ourselves very fortunate in having met with a person so
competent to the task, and whose terms are so remarkably
reasonable. Any other book-binder in St. Petersburg would have
refused double the price at which he has executed this important
part of the work, and had they undertaken the affair, would
probably have executed it in a manner which would have exposed the
book to the scorn and laughter of the people for whom it is

A few months since I saw Mr. Glen, the missionary from Astracan, as
he passed through St. Petersburg on his return to England. He is a
very learned man, but of very simple and unassuming manners. The
doom which had been pronounced upon his translation seems to have
deeply affected him; but he appears to me to labour under a very
great error respecting the motives which induced the Editorial
Committee to reject his work, or at least to hesitate upon
publishing it. He assured me that all that was urged against it
was the use, here and there, of Arabic words, which in a language
like the Persian, which on an original foundation exhibits a
superstructure nearly one moiety of which is Arabic, is
unavoidable. As I was totally unacquainted with the facts of the
case, I said nothing upon the subject; but I now suspect, from a
few words dropped in your letter, that the objection is founded not
on the use of Arabic words, but on attempts at IMPROVING or
ADORNING the simplicity of the Bible. However this may be, there
can be no doubt that Mr. Glen is a Persian scholar of the first
water. Mirza Achmed, a Persian gentleman now living at St.
Petersburg, who resided some time at Astracan, informed me that he
had seen the translation, and that the language was highly elegant;
but whether or not the translation was faithful, and such as a
translation of the sacred volume ought to be, he of course was
entirely ignorant; he could merely speak as to the excellence of
the Persian. Mirza Djaffar also, the Persian professor here, spoke
much to the same effect.

Mr. Stallybrass, the Siberian missionary, is at present here on his
way to England, whither he is conducting his two sons, for the
purpose of placing them in some establishment, where they may
receive a better education than it is possible for him to give them
in Siberia. I have seen him several times, and have heard him
preach once at the Sarepta House. He is a clever, well-informed
man, and in countenance and manner much like Mr. Swan - which
similarity may perhaps be accounted for by their long residence
under the same roof; for people who are in the habit of conversing
together every day insensibly assume each other's habits, manner of
speaking, and expression of countenance. Mr. Stallybrass's
youngest son, a lad of fifteen, shows marks of talent which may
make him useful in the missionary field for which he is intended.
The most surprising instance of precocious talent that I have ever
seen, or ever heard of, is exhibited in a young nobleman, who
visits me every day. He is the eldest son of Count Fredro, Marshal
of the Imperial Court, and though only fourteen years of age,
speaks eight languages perfectly well, is a good Grecian and
Latinist, is one of the best draftsmen in Russia, is well
acquainted with physics, botany, geography, and history, and to
crown all, has probably the most beautiful voice that ever mortal
was gifted with. A admirable CHRISHNA again by metempsychosis; the
religion of the family, with whom I am very intimate, is the
Romish. I now and then attend the service of the Armenian Church,
for the purpose of perfecting myself in the language, and have
formed many acquaintances amongst the congregation: there are
several very clever and very learned Armenians in this place; one
of them I will particularly mention, a little elderly gentleman of
the name of Kudobashoff, who is the best Armenian scholar at
present in existence. He is on the eve of publishing a work,
calculated to be very interesting to us: an Armenian and Russian
Dictionary, on which he has been occupied for the space of thirty-
seven years, and which will be of the highest assistance to any
future editor of the Armenian Scriptures; and be it known, that no
place in Europe, with perhaps the exception of Venice, offers more
advantages to the editing of the A.S. than St. Petersburg.

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