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Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

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REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I herewith send the long promised account of
my private expenses, which I hope will be found correct. I start
to-morrow for Salamanca, at which place I should now be, but for
the misconduct of my servant, whom I have been compelled to turn
away. I have experienced great difficulty in obtaining another; my
present one is a Greek, who formerly waited on Mr. O'Shea; I hope
he will turn out well. Mr. O'Shea has given me a general letter of
credit to his correspondents in various parts of Spain. You will
receive my draft in a few days. I shall write from Salamanca, and
various other places, detailing all my proceedings and adventures.
I hope you received my last letter.

I remain, etc.,


LETTER: 7th June, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. June 21, 1837)
SALAMANCA, June 7, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I arrived at Salamanca about a fortnight
since, in safety and in tolerable good health. I shall defer for a
few days communicating the particulars of my journey, though they
are not destitute of interest, having at present information to
afford which I consider of more importance, and which I hope will
afford the same satisfaction to yourself and our friends at home
which I myself experience in communicating them.

Some days previous to my departure from Madrid I was very much
indisposed. Owing to the state of the weather - for violent and
biting winds had long prevailed - I had been attacked with a severe
cold which terminated in a shrieking disagreeable cough, which the
many remedies which I successively tried were unable to subdue. I
had made preparation for departing on a particular day, but owing
to the state of my health I was apprehensive that I should be
compelled to postpone my journey for a time. The last day of my
stay in Madrid, finding myself scarcely able to stand, I was fain
to submit to a somewhat desperate experiment, and by the advice of
the barber-surgeon who visited me, I determined to be bled. Late
on the night of that same day he eased me of sixteen ounces of
blood, and having received his fee, left me, wishing me a pleasant
journey, and assuring me upon his reputation that by noon the next
day I should be perfectly recovered.

A few minutes after his departure, whilst I was sitting alone,
meditating on the journey which I was about to undertake, and on
the rickety state of my health, I heard a loud knock at the street-
door of the house, on the third floor of which I was lodged, not
very comfortably. In a minute or two Mr. Southern of the British
Embassy entered my apartment. After a little conversation he
informed me that Mr. Villiers had desired him to wait upon me, to
communicate a resolution which he, Mr. Villiers, had come to.
Being apprehensive that alone and unassisted I should experience
considerable difficulty in propagating the Gospel of God to any
considerable extent in Spain, he was bent upon exerting to the
utmost his own credit and influence to further my views, which he
himself considered, if carried into proper effect, extremely well
calculated to operate beneficially on the political and moral state
of the country. To this end it was his intention to purchase a
very considerable number of copies of the New Testament, and to
despatch them forthwith to the various British consuls established
in different parts of Spain, with strict and positive orders to
employ all the means, which their official situation should afford
them, to circulate the books in question and to assure their being
noticed. They were moreover to be charged to afford myself,
whenever I should appear in their respective districts, all the
protection, encouragement, and assistance I should stand in need
of, as a friend of Mr. Villiers, and a person in the success of
whose enterprise he himself took the warmest interest.

I could scarcely believe my ears on receiving this information; for
though I had long been aware that Mr. Villiers was at all times
willing to assist me, he having frequently given me sufficient
proof, I could never expect that he would come forward in so noble,
and to say the least of it, considering his high diplomatic
situation, so bold and decided a manner. I believe that this is
the first instance of a British Ambassador having made the cause of
the Bible Society a national one, or indeed to favour it directly
or indirectly. What renders the case of Mr. Villiers more
remarkable is that on my first arrival at Madrid I found him by no
means well disposed towards the Society. The Holy Spirit has
probably illumined his mind on this point. Honour be to him: I
hope that by his means our institution will shortly possess many
agents in Spain with far more power and opportunity than I myself
can ever expect to possess, who will scatter abroad the seed of the
Gospel, and make of a barren and thirsty wilderness a green and
smiling corn-field.

The next day verified the prediction of the barber. I had to a
considerable degree lost my cough and fever, though, owing to the
great loss of blood, I was very feeble and weak. Precisely at
twelve o'clock myself and man rode forth from the gate of Saint
Vincent, directing our course to the lofty mountains which separate
Old from New Castile. That night we rested at Guadarama, a large
village at their foot, distant from Madrid about twenty-five miles.
The journey to Salamanca occupied four days, and I disposed of five
Testaments by the way.

Since my arrival at Salamanca I have been taking measures that the
Word of God may become generally known in this place, so celebrated
in many respects. The principal bookseller of the town, Blanco, a
man of great wealth and respectability, has consented to become our
agent here, and I have deposited in his shop a certain number of
New Testaments. He is the proprietor of a small printing press,
where the official bulletin of the place is published. For this
bulletin I have prepared an advertisement of the work, in which
amongst other things I have said that the New Testament is the only
guide to salvation. I have also spoken of the Bible Society, and
the great pecuniary sacrifices which it is making with the view of
proclaiming Christ crucified, and of making His doctrine known.
This step will perhaps be considered by some as too bold, but I am
not aware that I can take any more calculated to arouse the
attention of the people - a considerable point. I have also
ordered numbers of the same advertisement to be struck off in the
shape of bills which I am causing to be stuck up in various parts
of the town. I have great hope that by means of these a
considerable number of New Testaments will be sold. I shall repeat
this experiment in Valladolid, Leon, St. Jago, and all the
principal towns which it is my intention to visit in my wanderings,
and I shall likewise distribute them as I ride along. The children
of Spain will thus be brought to know that such a work as the New
Testament is in existence, a fact of which not five in one hundred
are at present aware, notwithstanding their so frequently repeated
boasts of their Catholicity and Christianity.

I carry with me the Gospel of St. Luke in the Cantabrian or Basque
language. It is my intention to print this little book, either at
San Sebastian or Pamplona; as it would be unwise not to avail
myself of so favourable an opportunity of circulating it as my
visit to the provinces where the language is spoken will afford me.
I have examined it with much attention, and find it a very faithful
version. The only objection which can be brought against it is
that Spanish words are frequently used to express ideas for which
there are equivalents in Basque; but this language, as spoken at
present in Spain, is very corrupt, and a work written entirely in
the Basque of Larramendi's Dictionary would be intelligible to very
few. I have read passages from it to the men of Guipuscoa, who
assured me that they had no difficulty in understanding it, and
that it was written in the colloquial style of their province.

G. B.

LETTER: 5th July, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. July 25, 1837)

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I avail myself of the present opportunity of
giving an account of what has befallen me since I last wrote to you
from Salamanca, which I shortly after quitted. By that time my
advertisements had been affixed in all parts of the city, and
several New Testaments had been sold; I myself had the pleasure of
seeing three despatched in less than a quarter of an hour that I
remained in the shop. From Salamanca I proceeded to Valladolid,
distant about twenty-five leagues, where I employed the same means
which I had adopted at Salamanca for the promulgation of God's
Word. I must here observe that Valladolid is a place where
literature of every description is at the lowest ebb, and
bookselling there is merely carried on in connexion with other
business, it being in itself quite insufficient to afford a
livelihood to those who pursue it. Nevertheless during the five
days that I continued there my labours were so far favoured that
twenty copies were disposed of, and a fair prospect opened that
many more would be demanded. Before leaving I gave orders that the
advertisements should be renewed every week, as evil-disposed,
persons probably of the Carlist or Papist party, had defaced or
torn down a great number of those which had been put up. From
pursuing this course I expect that much and manifold good will
accrue, as the people of these parts will have continual
opportunities of acquainting themselves that a book which contains
the LIVING WORD is in existence and within their reach, which may
induce them to secure it and consult it even unto salvation.

Quitting Valladolid, I directed my route to Leon by the Palencia
road; the greatest part of the way was barren and uninteresting to
a high degree, consisting of wide dusty plains scantily sown with
barley, but unrelieved with trees or waters. The people are
ignorant and brutal, though they boast themselves to be Old
Castilians, which is however not the fact, as these desolate and
benighted regions belong to what was once the kingdom of Leon.
Their inhospitality is so great that I have been refused a glass of
water in their villages, though I asked it in the name of God;
though I have subsequently obtained it by paying for it, for their
hearts can always be opened by the key of interest, though
inaccessible to every noble and generous sentiment. I suffered
dreadfully during this journey, as did likewise my man and horses,
for the heat was the fiercest which I have ever known, and
resembled the breath of the simoom or the air from an oven's mouth.
Leon is beautifully situated in a smiling blooming country
abounding in grass and trees, and watered by many streams which
have their source in a mighty chain of mountains in the
neighbourhood, which traverse a great part of Spain and are
connected with the Pyrenees; but unfortunately it is exceedingly
unhealthy, for the heats of the summer-time raise noxious
exhalations from the waters, which generate all kinds of disorders,
especially fevers and tertian agues. It is the Feversham of Spain.


I had scarcely been at Leon three days when I was seized with a
fever, against which I thought the strength even of my constitution
would have yielded; for it wore me almost to a skeleton, and when
it departed, at the end of about a week, left me in such a
deplorable state of weakness that I was scarcely able to make the
slightest exertion. I had however previously persuaded a
bookseller to undertake the charge of vending the Testaments, and
had published my advertisements as usual, though without very
fervent hope of success, as Leon is a place where the inhabitants,
with very few exceptions, are furious Carlists and ignorant and
blinded followers of the old Papal Church. It is, moreover, a
Bishop's see, which was once enjoyed by the prime councillor of Don
Carlos, whose fierce and bigoted spirit still seems to pervade the
place. Scarcely had the advertisements appeared when the clergy
were in motion; they went from house to house, banning and cursing
and denouncing misery on whomsoever should either purchase or read
'the accursed books' which had been sent into the country by
heretics for the purpose of perverting the innocent minds of the
population. They did more: they commenced a process against the
bookseller in the ecclesiastical court. Fortunately this court is
not at present in the possession of much authority, and the
bookseller, who is a bold and determined man, set them at defiance,
and went so far as to affix an advertisement to the gate of the
very cathedral. Notwithstanding the cry raised against the work
several copies were sold at Leon, two were purchased by ex-friars,
and the same number by parochial priests from neighbouring
villages. I believe the whole number disposed of during my stay
amounted to fifteen, so that my visit to this dark corner has not
been altogether in vain, as the seed of the Gospel has been sown,
though sparingly. But the palpableness of the darkness which
envelops Leon is truly lamentable, and the ignorance of the people
is so great that printed charms and incantations against Satan and
his host and against every kind of misfortune are publicly sold in
the shops and are in great demand; such are the results of Popery,
a delusion which more than any other has tended to debase and
brutalise the human mind.

I had scarcely risen from the bed where the fever had cast me, when
I found that my servant had become alarmed; he informed me that he
had seen several soldiers in the uniform of Don Carlos knocking at
the door of the POSADA, and that they had been making enquiries
concerning me. It was indeed a singular fact connected with Leon
that upwards of fifty of these fellows, who had on various accounts
left the ranks of the pretender, were walking about the streets
dressed in his livery, and with all the confidence which the
certainty of the protection of the local authorities could afford
them, should any one be disposed to interrupt them. He moreover
informed me that the person in whose house we were living was a
notorious ALCAHUETE, or spy to the robbers in the neighbourhood,
and that unless we took our departure speedily and unexpectedly, we
should to a certainty be plundered on the road. I did not pay much
attention to these hints, but my desire to quit Leon was great, as
I was convinced that as long as I continued there I should be
unable to regain my health and vigour. Accordingly, at three
o'clock in the morning of the fourth (yesterday) we departed,
taking the route for Lugo, a principal town in the province of
Galicia. We had scarcely proceeded half a league when we were
overtaken by a thunderstorm of tremendous violence. We were at
that time in the midst of a kind of wood which extends to some
distance in that direction. The trees were bowed to the ground or
torn up by their roots by the wind, whilst the ground was plowed up
by the lightning which burst all around and nearly blinded us. The
horse which I rode upon, which was a spirited Andalusian stallion,
became furious and bounded into the air as if possessed; owing to
my state of weakness I had the greatest difficulty in maintaining
my seat and in avoiding a fall which might have been fatal. A
tremendous discharge of rain followed the storm, which swelled the
brooks into streams and flooded the surrounding country, causing
great damage amongst the corn. After riding about five leagues we
began to enter the mountainous district which surrounds Astorga;
the road was flinty and very trying to the poor horses, who
suffered much, whilst the heat was suffocating. It was with the
utmost difficulty that we reached Astorga, covered with mud and
dust and our tongues cleaving to the roofs of our mouths from
thirst. We were compelled to take up our abode in a wretched
hovel, full of pigs, vermin, and misery, and from this place I
write, for this morning I felt myself unable to proceed on my
journey, being exhausted with illness, fatigue and want of food,
for scarcely anything is to be obtained. But I return God thanks
and glory for being permitted to undergo these crosses and troubles
for His Word's sake. I would not exchange my present situation,
unenviable as some may think it, for a throne.

Pray excuse the style and writing of this letter, both are
inevitably bad. I hope in a few days to have reached Lugo, where I
shall be more at my ease.


LETTER: 20th July, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. 12th August 1837)
CORUNNA, 20TH JULY [1837].

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - My last letter was dated from Astorga, and I
stated that I was suffering from the relics of the fever which had
assailed me at Leon; in a day or two, however, I was sufficiently
recovered to mount my horse and proceed on my journey to Lugo. I
shall send a regular account of this journey next post, from which
those at home, interested in Bible proceedings in Spain, may gather
some idea of this very strange country and people. I arrived
safely at Lugo, but much fatigued, for the way thither lay through
the wildest mountains and wildernesses. The Lord deigned to favour
my humble efforts at Lugo; I brought thither thirty Testaments, all
of which were disposed of in one day, the Bishop of the place
himself purchasing two copies, whilst several priests and friars,
instead of following the example of their brethren at Leon by
persecuting the work, spoke well of it, and recommended its
perusal. I was much grieved that my stock of these holy books was
exhausted, for there was a great demand for them; and had I been
able to supply them, quadruple the quantity might have been sold
[during] the four days that I remained at Lugo.

Midway between Lugo and Corunna I was near falling into the hands
of robbers. Two fellows suddenly confronted me with presented
carbines, which they probably intended to discharge into my body,
but they took fright at the noise of my servant's horse, who was
following a little way behind. This affair occurred at the bridge
Castellanos, a spot notorious for robbery and murder, and well
adapted for both, for it stands at the bottom of a deep dell
surrounded by wild desolate hills. Only a quarter of an hour
previous, I had passed three ghastly heads, stuck on poles standing
by the wayside; they were those of a captain of banditti [and two
of his men], who had been seized and executed about two months
before. Their principal haunt was the vicinity of the bridge I
have already spoken of, and it was their practice to cast the
bodies of the murdered into the deep black water which runs rapidly
beneath. These three beads will always live in my remembrance,
particularly that of the captain, which stood on a higher pole than
the other two; the long hair was waving in the wind, and the
blackened distorted features were grinning in the sun. The fellows
whom I met were themselves of his band.

I have a depot of five hundred Testaments at Corunna, from which it
is my intention to supply the principal towns of Galicia. I have
as usual published my advertisements, and the work enjoys a
tolerable sale - seven or eight copies per day on the average.
Perhaps some will say that these are small matters and not worthy
of being mentioned; but let these bethink them that till within a
few months the very existence of the Gospel was almost unknown in
Spain, and that it must necessarily be a difficult task to induce a
people like the Spaniards, who read very little and who in general
consider money expended in books of any kind as cast away, to
purchase a work like the New Testament, offering them little
prospect of amusement, and which, though the basis of all true
religion, they have never been told is useful as a guide to

Let us hope that the present is the dawning of better and more
enlightened times, and though little has been accomplished, still
it is more than nothing that Testaments are being sold in unhappy
benighted Spain, from Madrid to the northernmost part of Galicia, a
distance of nearly four hundred miles.

In about a fortnight I shall depart for Santiago, where I intend to
pass several days; then retracing my steps to Corunna I shall visit
Ferrol, whence I shall perhaps shape my course for Oviedo in the
Asturias, either along the seashore or by the mountain route, in
which latter case I should have to revisit Lugo. Every part of
Galicia abounds with robbers and factious, so that almost all
travelling is at an end, and the road to Santiago is so bad that no
one is permitted to travel it unless in company with the weekly
post, which goes attended by a strong military escort. This gives
me some uneasiness, as the stallion I ride is so vicious and
furious that it is dangerous to bring him in contact with other
horses whom, with the exception of his companion, he invariably
attacks, getting me into all manner of scrapes. An old Castilian
peasant, whose pony he had maltreated, once said to me, 'Sir
Cavalier, if you have any love for yourself, get rid of that beast,
who is capable of proving the ruin of a kingdom.' But he is a
gallant creature who seldom tires, and he has borne me too far to
permit me to think of parting with him.

Since my arrival at Corunna I have received advice from my agent at
Valladolid that the forty copies which I deposited in his hands
have been sold, and that he was anxious for a fresh supply. I have
accordingly ordered fifty more to be sent him from Madrid. Since
my departure from the capital I have myself disposed of sixty-five,
without including those sold at Lugo and other places by means of
the advertisements, on which I principally rely, as they speak at
all times whether I am present or absent.

I wish it to be distinctly understood that throughout my journey I
have given away none of the books, having invariably received money
for them, viz., from 10 to 12 REALS. The enemies of the Bible
Society have stated in several publications that it has no vent for
the Bibles and Testaments which it publishes in many foreign
languages but by sending them to the various countries, and there
distributing them gratis or selling them by auction, when they are
bought for waste paper (see in particular Wiseman's LETTERS). My
conduct in this point has been principally influenced by a desire
to give, in the case of Spain at least, the direct lie to this
assertion, and this conduct I shall pursue until I receive direct
orders to abandon it. I will now conclude by repeating that in a
few days you will receive my journal, which will prove more
interesting than the above hasty scrawl.

I remain, etc.,


LETTER: Undated

To the Rev. Andrew Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 23, 1837)

Before proceeding to narrate what befell me in this journey, it
will perhaps not be amiss to say a few words concerning Astorga and
its vicinity. It is a walled town containing about five or six
thousand inhabitants, with a cathedral and college, which last is,
however, at present deserted. It is situated on the confines, and
may be called the capital, of a tract of land called the country of
the Maragatos, which occupies about three square leagues, and has
for its north-western boundary a mountain called Telleno, the
loftiest of a chain of hills which have their origin near the mouth
of the river Minho, and are connected with the immense range which
constitutes the frontier of the Asturias and Guipuscoa. The land
is ungrateful and barren, and niggardly repays the toil of the
cultivator, being for the most part rocky, with a slight sprinkling
of a red bricky earth. The Maragatos are perhaps the most singular
caste to be found amongst the chequered population of Spain. They
have their own peculiar customs and dress, and never intermarry
with the Spaniards. Their name is a clue to their origin, as it
signifies 'Moorish Goths,' and at this present day their garb
differs but little from that of the Moors of Barbary, as it
consists of a long tight jacket, secured at the waist by a broad
girdle; loose short trowsers which terminate at the knee, and boots
and gaiters. Their heads are shaven, a slight fringe of hair being
only left at the lower part. If they wore the turban, or barret,
they could scarcely be distinguished from the Moors in dress, but
in lieu thereof they wear the sombrero or broad slouching hat of
Spain. There can be little doubt that they are a remnant of those
Goths who sided with the Moors on their invasion of Spain, and who
adopted their religion, customs, and manner of dress, which, with
the exception of the first, are still to a considerable degree
retained. It is, however, evident that their blood has at no time
mingled with that of the wild children of the desert, for scarcely
amongst the hills of Norway would you find figures and faces more
essentially Gothic than those of the Maragatos. They are strong,
athletic men, but loutish and heavy, and their features, though for
the most part well-formed, are vacant and devoid of expression.
They are slow and plain in speech, and those eloquent and
imaginative sallies so common in the conversation of other
Spaniards seldom or never escape them; they have, moreover, a
coarse, thick pronunciation, and when you hear them speak, you
almost imagine that it is some German or English peasant attempting
to express himself in the language of the Peninsula. They are
constitutionally phlegmatic, and it is very difficult to arouse
their anger; but they are dangerous and desperate when once
incensed, and a person who knew them well told me that he would
rather face ten Valencians, people infamous for their ferocity and
blood-thirstiness, than confront one angry Maragato, sluggish and
stupid though he be on other occasions.

The men scarcely ever occupy themselves in husbandry, which they
abandon to the females, who plough the flinty fields and gather in
the scanty harvests. Their husbands and sons are far differently
employed, for they are a nation of ARRIEROS or carriers, and almost
esteem it a disgrace to follow any other profession. On every road
of Spain, particularly those north of the mountains which divide
the two Castiles, may be seen gangs of fives and sixes of these
people lolling or sleeping beneath the broiling sun on their
gigantic and heavily laden mutes and mules, the boast of Spain, but
dearly purchased by the debasement and degeneration of a once noble
breed of horses. In a word, almost the entire commerce of nearly
one half of Spain passes through the hands of the Maragatos, whose
fidelity to their trust is such that no one accustomed to employ
them would hesitate to entrust them with the transport of a ton of
treasure from the sea of Biscay to Madrid, knowing well that it
would not be their fault were it not delivered safe and
undiminished even of a grain, and that bold must be the thieves who
would seek to wrest it from the far-feared Maragatos, who would
cling to it whilst they could stand, and would cover it with their
bodies when they fell in the act of loading or discharging their
long carbines.

But they are far from being disinterested, and if they are the most
trustworthy of all the ARRIEROS of Spain, they in general demand
for the transport of articles a sum at least double of what others
of the trade would esteem a reasonable recompense. By this means
they accumulate large sums of money, notwithstanding that they
indulge themselves in a far superior fare to that which contents in
general the parsimonious Spaniard - another argument in favour of
their pure Gothic descent; for the Maragatos, like true men of the
north, delight in swilling liquors and battening upon gross and
luscious meats, which help to swell out their tall and goodly
figures. Many of them have died possessed of considerable riches,
part of which they have not unfrequently bequeathed to the erection
or embellishment of religious houses. On the east end of the
cathedral of Astorga, which towers over the lofty and precipitous
wall, a colossal figure of lead may be seen on the roof. It is the
statue of a Maragato carrier, who endowed the cathedral with a
large sum. He is in his national dress, but his head is averted
from the land of his fathers, and whilst he waves in his hand a
species of flag, he seems to be summoning his race from their
unfruitful region to other climes where a richer field is open to
their industry and enterprise.

I spoke to several of these men respecting the all-important
subject of religion; but 'I found their hearts blunted, and with
their ears they heard heavily, and their eyes were closed.' There
was one in particular to whom I showed the New Testament and
addressed for a considerable time. He listened, or seemed to
listen, patiently, taking occasional copious draughts from an
immense jug of whitish wine which stood between his knees. After I
had concluded, he said: 'To-morrow I set out for Lugo, whither I
am told yourself are going. If you wish to send your chest, I have
no objection to take it at so much (naming an extravagant price).
As for what you have told me, I understand little of it and believe
not a word of it; but in respect to the books which you have shown
me, I will take three or four. I shall not read them, it is true,
but I have no doubt that I can sell them at a higher price than you

So much for the Maragatos.

It was four o'clock of a beautiful morning that we sallied from
Astorga, or rather from the suburbs in which we had been lodged; we
directed our course to the north in the direction of Galicia.
Leaving the mountain Telleno on our left, we passed along the
eastern skirts of the land of the Maragatos over broken uneven
ground, enlivened here and there by small green valleys and runs of
water. Several of the Maragato women mounted on donkeys passed us
on their way to Astorga whither they were carrying vegetables; we
saw others in the fields handling their rude ploughs drawn by lean
oxen; we likewise passed through a small village in which we
however saw no living soul. Near this village we entered the high
road which leads direct from Madrid to Corunna, and at last having
travelled near four leagues we came to a species of pass formed on
our left by a huge lumpish hill (one of those which descend from
the great mountain Telleno), and on our right by one of
considerably less altitude. In the middle of this pass which was
of considerable breadth, a noble view opened itself to us. Before
us, at the distance of about a league and a half, rose the mighty
frontier chain of which I have spoken before; its blue sides and
broken and picturesque peaks still wearing a thin veil of the
morning mist, which the fierce rays of the sun were fast
dispelling. It seemed an enormous barrier threatening to oppose
our further progress, and it reminded me of the fables respecting
the children of Magog, who are said to reside in remotest Tartary
behind a gigantic wall of rocks which can only be passed by a gate
of steel a thousand cubits in height.

We shortly after arrived at Manzanal, a village consisting of
wretched huts, and exhibiting every sign of poverty and misery. It
was now time to refresh ourselves and horses, and we accordingly
put up at a kind of VENTA, the last habitation in the village,
where, though we found barley for the animals, we had much
difficulty in procuring anything for ourselves. I was at last
fortunate enough to obtain a large jug of milk, for there were
plenty of cows in the neighbourhood feeding in a picturesque valley
which we had passed by, in which there was abundance of grass and
trees and a run of water broken by tiny cascades. The jug might
contain about half a gallon, but I emptied it in a few minutes, for
the thirst of fever was still burning within me though I was
destitute of appetite. The VENTA had something the appearance of a
German baiting house. It consisted of an immense stable, from
which was partitioned a kind of kitchen and a place where the
family slept. The master, a robust young man, lolled on a large
solid stone bench which stood within the door. He was very
inquisitive respecting news, but I could afford him none; whereupon
he became communicative, and gave me the history of his life, the
sum of which was that he had been a courier in the Basque
provinces, but about a year since had been despatched to this
village where he kept the post-house. He was an enthusiastic
liberal, and spoke in bitter terms of the surrounding population,
who, he said, were all Carlists and friends of the friars. I paid
little attention to his discourse, for I was looking at a Maragato
lad of about fourteen who served in the house as a kind of ostler.
I asked the master if we were still in the land of the Maragatos,
but he told me that we had left it behind nearly a league, and that
the lad was an orphan, and was serving until he could rake up a
sufficient capital to become an ARRIERO. I addressed several
questions to the boy, but the urchin looked sullenly in my face,
and either answered by monosyllables or was doggedly silent. I
asked him if he could read: 'Yes,' said he, 'as much as that black
brute of yours who is tearing down the manger.'

Quitting Manzanal, we continued our course, the ground gradually
descending; we soon arrived at a place where the road took a turn
to the west, though previously it had tended due north. We now
found that we had to descend the steep sides of a deep and narrow
valley which wound amongst mountains, not those of the chain which
we had seen before us and which we had left at our right, but those
of the Telleno range, just before they unite with that chain.
Arrived at the brink of the valley we turned into a foot-path, to
avoid making a considerable circuit, for we saw the road on the
other side of the valley opposite to us about a furlong [distant],
and the path appeared to lead direct towards it. We had not gone
far before we met two Galicians on their way to cut the harvests of
Castile. One of them shouted, 'Cavalier, turn back: in a moment
you will be amongst precipices where your horses will break their
necks, for we ourselves could scarcely climb them on foot.' The
other cried, 'Cavalier, proceed, but be careful, and your horses,
if sure-footed, will run no great danger; my comrade is a fool.' A
violent dispute instantly ensued between the two mountaineers, each
supporting his opinion with loud oaths and curses; but without
stopping to see the result I passed on. But the path was now
filled with stones and huge slaty rocks, on which my horse slid,
frequently on his haunches. I likewise heard the sound of water in
a deep gorge, which I had hitherto not perceived, and I soon saw
that it would be worse than madness to proceed. I turned my horse
and was hastening to regain the path which I had left, when
Antonio, my faithful Greek, pointed out to me a meadow, by which he
said we might regain the high road much lower down than if we
returned on our steps. The meadow was brilliant with short green
grass, and in the middle there was a small rivulet of water. I
spurred my horse on, expecting to be in the high road in a moment;
the horse, however, snorted and stared wildly, and was evidently
unwilling to cross the seemingly inviting spot. I thought that the
scent of a wolf or some other wild animal might have disturbed him,
but was soon undeceived by his sinking up to the knees in a bog.
The animal uttered a shrill sharp neigh, and exhibited every sign
of the greatest terror, making at the same time great efforts to
extricate himself, and plunging forward, but every moment sinking
deeper. At last he arrived where a small vein of rock showed
itself, on this he placed his fore feet, and with one tremendous
exertion freed himself from the deceitful soil, springing over the
rivulet and alighting on comparatively firm ground, where he stood
panting, his heaving sides covered with a foamy sweat. Antonio,
who had been a terrified observer of the whole scene, afraid to
venture forward, returned by the path by which we came and shortly
afterwards rejoined me. This adventure brought to my recollection
the meadow with its foot-path, which tempted Christian from the
straight road to heaven, and finally conducted him to the dominions
of the Giant Despair.


'There is no short cut
Without some deep rut.'

says the Spanish proverb.

We now began to descend the valley by a broad and excellent
CARRETERA, or carriage road, which was cut out of the steep side of
the mountain on our right. On our left was the gorge, down which
tumbled the run of water which I have before mentioned. The road
was tortuous, and at every turn the scene became more picturesque.
The gorge gradually widened, and the brook at its bottom, fed by a
multitude of springs, [grew] more considerable; but it was soon far
beneath us, pursuing its headlong course till it reached level
ground, where it flowed in the midst of a beautiful but confined
prairie. There was something silvan and savage in the mountains on
the further side, clad from foot to pinnacle with trees, so closely
growing that the eye was unable to obtain a glimpse of the hill-
sides which were uneven with ravines and gulleys, the haunts of the
wolf, the wild boar and the CORSO or mountain-stag; the last of
which, as I was informed by a peasant who was driving a car of
oxen, frequently descended to feed in the prairie and were shot for
the sake of their skins, for the flesh being strong and
disagreeable is held at no account. But notwithstanding the
wildness of these regions, the handiworks of man were visible. The
sides of the gorge though precipitous were yellow with little
fields of barley, and we saw a hamlet and church down in the
prairie below, whilst merry songs ascended to our ears from where
the mowers were toiling with their scythes, cutting the luxuriant
and abundant grass. I could scarcely believe that I was in Spain,
in general so brown, so arid and cheerless, and I almost fancied
myself in Greece, in that land of ancient glory, whose mountain and
forest scenery Theocritus has so well described.

At the bottom of the valley we entered a small village washed by
the brook, which had now swelled almost to a stream. A more
romantic situation I had never witnessed. It was surrounded and
almost overhung by huge mountains, and embowered in trees of
various kinds; waters sounded, nightingales sang, and the cuckoo's
full note boomed from the distant branches, but the village was
miserable. The huts were built of slate-stones, of which the
neighbouring hills seemed to be principally composed, and roofed
with the same, but not in the neat tidy manner of English houses,
for the slates were of all sizes, and seemed to be flung on in
confusion. We were spent with heat and thirst, and sitting down on
a stone bench I entreated a woman to give us a little water. The
woman said she would, but added that she expected to be paid for
it. My Greek on hearing this burst into horrid execrations, and
speaking Greek, Turkish and Spanish invoked the vengeance of the
PANHAGIA on the heartless woman, saying 'If I were to offer a
Mahometan gold for a draught of water, he would dash it in my face;
and you are a Catholic with the stream running at your door.' I
told him to be silent, and giving the woman two CUARTOS repeated my
request; whereupon she took a pitcher, and, going to the stream,
filled it with water. It tasted muddy and disagreeable, but it
drowned the fever which was devouring me.

We again mounted and proceeded on our way, which for a considerable
distance lay along the margin of the stream, which now fell in
small cataracts, now brawled over stones, and at other times ran
dark and silent through deep pools overhung with tall willows -
pools which seemed to abound with the finny tribe, for huge trout
frequently sprang from the water catching the brilliant fly which
skimmed along its deceitful surface. How delightful! The sun was
rolling high in the firmament, casting from its girdle of fire the
most glorious rays, so that the atmosphere was flickering with
their splendour; but their fierceness was either warded off by the
shadow of the trees or rendered innocuous either by the refreshing
coolness which rose from the waters or by the gentle breezes which
murmured at intervals over the meadows 'fanning the cheek or
raising the hair' of the wanderer. The hills gradually receded,
till at last we entered a plain where tall grass was undulating,
and mighty chestnut-trees in full blossom spread their giant and
umbrageous boughs. Beneath many stood cars, the tired oxen
prostrate on the ground, the cross-bar of the pole which they
support pressing heavily on their heads, whilst their drivers were
either employed in cooking or were enjoying a delicious SIESTA in
the grass and shade. I went up to one of the largest of these
groups and demanded of the individuals whether they were in need of
the Testament of Jesus Christ. They stared at one another and then
at me, till at last a young man who was dandling a long gun in his
hands as he reclined demanded of me what it was, at the same time
enquiring whether I was a Catalan, 'for you speak hoarse,' said he,
'and are tall and fair like that family.' I sat down amongst them
and said I was no Catalan, but I came from a spot in the western
sea many leagues distant to sell that book at half the price it
cost, and that their souls' welfare depended upon their being
acquainted with it. I then explained to them the nature of the New
Testament and read to them the Parable of the Sower. They stared
at each other again, but said that they were poor and could not buy
books. I rose, mounted, and was going away, saying to them:
'Peace bide with you.' Whereupon the young man with the gun rose,
and saying; 'CASPITA! this is odd,' snatched the book from my hand,
and gave me the price I had demanded.

Perhaps the whole world might be searched in vain for a spot whose
natural charms could rival those of this plain or valley of
Bembibre, with its wall of mighty mountains, its spreading
chestnut-trees, and its groves of oaks and willows which clothe the
banks of its stream, a tributary to the Minho. True it is that
when I passed through it the candle of heaven was blazing in full
splendour, and everything lighted by its rays looked gay, glad and
blessed. Whether it would have filled me with the same feelings of
admiration if viewed beneath another sky I will not pretend to
determine, but it certainly possessed advantages which at no time
could fail to delight; for it exhibited all the peaceful beauties
of an English landscape blended with something wild and grand, and
I thought within myself that he must be a restless dissatisfied man
who born amongst those scenes would wish to quit them. At the time
I would have desired no better fate than that of a shepherd on the
prairies or a hunter on the hills of Bembibre.

Three hours passed away, and we were in another situation. We had
halted and refreshed ourselves and horses at Bembibre, a village of
mud and slate, and which possessed little to attract attention. We
were now ascending, for the road was over one of the extreme ledges
of those frontier hills which I have before so often mentioned; but
the aspect of heaven had blackened, clouds were rolling rapidly
from the west over the mountains, and a cold wind was moaning
dismally. 'There is a storm travelling through the air,' said a
peasant, whom we overtook mounted on a wretched mule, 'and the
Asturians had better be on the look-out, for it is speeding in
their direction.' He had scarce spoken when a light so vivid and
dazzling that it seemed the whole lustre of the fiery element was
concentrated therein broke around us, filling the whole atmosphere,
and covering rock, tree and mountain with a glare indescribable.
The mule of the peasant tumbled prostrate, while the horse I rode
reared himself perpendicularly, and turning round dashed down the
hill at headlong speed which for some time it was impossible to
check. The lightning was followed by a peal almost as terrible,
but distant, for it sounded hollow and deep; the hills, however,
caught up its voice, seemingly pitching it along their summits,
till it was lost in interminable space. Other flashes and peals
succeeded, but slight in comparison, and a few drops of rain; the
body of the tempest seemed to be over another region. 'A hundred
families are weeping where that bolt fell,' said the peasant, when
I rejoined him, 'for its blaze has blinded my mule at six leagues'
distance.' He was leading the animal by the bridle, as its sight
was evidently affected. 'Were the friars still in their nest above
there,' he continued, 'I should say that this was their doing, for
they are the cause of all the miseries of the land.'

I raised my eyes in the direction in which he pointed. Half-way up
the mountain over whose foot we were wending jutted forth a black,
frightful crag, which at an immense altitude overhung the road and
seemed to threaten destruction. It resembled one of those ledges
of the rocky mountains in the picture of the deluge, up to which
the terrified fugitives have scrambled from the eager pursuit of
the savage and tremendous billow, down on which they are gazing in
horror, whilst above them rise still higher and giddier heights to
which they seem unable to climb. Built on the very rim of this
crag stood an edifice, seemingly devoted to the purposes of
religion, as I could discern the spire of a church rearing itself
high over wall and roof. 'That is the house of "The Virgin of the
Rocks,"' said the peasant, 'and it was lately full of friars, but
they have been driven out, and the only inmates now are owls and
ravens.' I replied that their life in such a bleak exposed abode
could not have been very enviable, as in winter they must have
incurred great risk of perishing with cold. 'By no means,' said
he; 'they had the best of wood for their BRASEROS and chimneys, and
the best of wine to warm them at their meals, which were not the
most sparing; moreover they had another convent down in the vale
yonder, to which they could retire at their pleasure.' I asked him
the reason of his antipathy to the friars, to which he replied that
he had been their vassal, and that they had deprived him every year
of the flower of what he possessed. Discoursing in this manner we
reached a village just below the convent, where he left me, having
first pointed out to me a house of stone with an image over the
door, which he said once also belonged to the CANALLA (rabble)

The sun was setting fast, and, eager to reach Villafranca, where I
had determined on resting and which was still distant three leagues
and a half, I made no halt at this place. The road was now down a
rapid and crooked descent which terminated in a valley, at the
bottom of which was a long and narrow bridge. Beneath it rolled a
river descending from a wide pass between two mountains, for the
chain was here cleft probably by some convulsion of nature. I
looked up the pass and on the hills on both sides. Far above on my
right, but standing out bold and clear, and catching the last rays
of the sun, was 'the Convent of the Precipices'; whilst directly
over against it, on the further side of the valley, rose the
perpendicular side of the rival hill which, to a considerable
extent intercepting the light, flung its black shadow over the
upper end of the pass, involving it in mysterious darkness.
Emerging from the centre of this gloom with thundering sound dashed
a river, white with foam and bearing along with it huge stones and
branches of trees, for it was the wild Sil, probably at that [time]
swollen by the recent rains, which I now saw hurrying to the ocean
from its cradle in the heart of the Asturian hills. Its fury, its
roar, and the savage grandeur of the surrounding scenery which was
worthy of the pencil of Salvator recalled to my mind the powerful
lines of Stolberg addressed to a mountain torrent -

'The pine-trees are shaken, they yield to thy shocks,
And, crashing, they tumble in wild disarray;
The rocks fly before thee - thou seizest the rocks
And whirlst them, like pebbles, contemptuous away.'

Hours again passed away. It was now night, and we were in the
midst of woodlands, feeling our way, for the darkness was so great
that I could scarcely see the length of a yard before my horse's
head. The animal seemed uneasy, and would frequently stop short,
prick up his ears, and utter a low mournful whine. Flashes of
sheet-lightning frequently illumed the black sky and flung a
momentary glare over our path. No sound interrupted the stillness
of the night save the slow tramp of the horses' hoofs, and
occasionally the croaking of frogs from some pool or morass. I now
bethought me that I was in Spain, the chosen land of the two
fiends, assassination and plunder, and how easily two tired unarmed
wanderers might become their victims. We at last cleared the
woodlands, and after proceeding a short distance the horse gave a
joyous neigh and broke into a smart trot. A barking of dogs
speedily reached my ears, and we seemed to be approaching some town
or village. In effect we were close to Cacabelos, a town about
five miles distant from Villafranca.

It was now near eleven at night, and I reflected that it would be
far more expedient to tarry in this place till the morning than to
attempt at present to reach Villafranca, exposing ourselves to all
the horrors of darkness in a lonely and unknown road. My mind was
soon made up on this point - but I determined without my hosts, for
at the first POSADA which I attempted to enter I was told that we
could not be accommodated, and particularly our horses, as the
stable was full of water. At the second (there were but two), I
was answered from the window by a gruff voice nearly in the words
of Scripture: 'Trouble me not, the gate is already locked, and my
servants are also with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in.'
Indeed we had no particular desire to enter, as it appeared a
wretched hovel; though the poor horses pawed piteously against the
door, and seemed to crave admittance.

We had now no choice but to resume our doleful way to Villafranca,
which we were told was a short league distant, though it proved a
league and a half. We however found it no easy matter to quit the
town, for we were bewildered amongst its labyrinths and could not
find the outlet. A lad about eighteen was, however, persuaded by
the promise of a PESETA to guide us, whereupon he led us by many
turnings to a bridge which he told us to cross and to follow the
road, which was that of Villafranca; he then, having received his
fee, hastened from us.

We followed his directions, not, however, without a suspicion that
he might be deceiving us. The night had settled darker down upon
us, so that it was impossible to distinguish any object, however
nigh. The lightning had become more faint and rare. We heard the
rustling of trees and occasionally the barking of dogs, which last
sound, however, soon ceased, and we were in the midst of night and
silence. My horse, either from weariness or the badness of the
road, frequently stumbled; whereupon I dismounted, and leading him
by the bridle, soon left my companion far in the rear. I had
proceeded in this manner a considerable way when a circumstance
occurred of a character well suited to the time and place.

I was again amidst trees and bushes, when the horse, stopping
short, nearly pulled me back. I know not how it was, but fear
suddenly came over me, which, though in darkness and in solitude, I
had not felt before. I was about to urge the animal forward, when
I heard a noise at my right hand, and listened attentively. It
seemed to be that of a person or persons forcing their way through
branches and brushwood. It soon ceased, and I heard feet on the
road. It was the short, staggering kind of tread of people
carrying a very heavy substance, nearly too much for their
strength, and I thought I [heard] the hurried breathing of men
over-fatigued. There was a short pause in the middle of the road;
then the stamping recommenced until it reached the other side, when
I again heard a similar rustling amidst branches; it continued for
some time, and died gradually away.

I continued my road, musing on what had just occurred and forming
conjectures as to the cause. The lightning resumed its flashing,
and I saw that I was approaching tall black mountains - But I will
omit further particulars of this midnight journey.

'QUIEN VIVE,' roared a voice about an hour from this time, for I
had at last groped my way to Villafranca. It proceeded from the
sentry at the suburb, one of those singular half soldiers, half
GUERILLAS, called Miguelets, who are in general employed by the
Spanish Government to clear the roads of robbers. I gave the usual
answer 'ESPANA,' and went up to the place where he stood. After a
little conversation, I sat down on a stone, awaiting the arrival of
Antonio, who was long in making his appearance. On his arrival I
asked him if any one had passed him on the road, but he replied
that he had seen nothing. The night, or rather morning, was still
very dark, though a small corner of the moon was occasionally
visible. On our enquiring the way to the gate, the Miguelet
directed us down a street to the left, which we followed. The
street was steep, we could see no gate, and our progress was soon
stopped by houses and wall. We knocked at the gates of two or
three of these houses (in the upper stories of which lights were
burning) for the purpose of being set right, but we were either
disregarded or not heard. A horrid squalling of cats from the tops
of the houses and dark corners saluted our ears, and I thought of
the night-arrival of Don Quixote and his squire at Tobosa, and
their vain search amongst the deserted streets for the palace of
Dulcinea. At length we saw light and heard voices in a cottage at
the further side of a kind of ditch. Leading the horses over, we
called at the door, which was opened by an aged man, who appeared
by his dress to be a baker, as indeed he proved, which accounted
for his being up at so late an hour. On begging him to show us the
way into the town, he led us up a very narrow alley at the end of
his cottage, saying that he would likewise conduct us to the
POSADA. The alley led directly to what appeared to be the market-
place, at a corner house of which our guide stopped and knocked.
After a long pause an upper window was opened, and a female voice
demanded who we were. The old man replied that two travellers had
arrived who were in need of lodging. 'I cannot be disturbed at
this time of night,' said the woman, 'they will be wanting supper,
and there is nothing in the house; they must go elsewhere.' She
was going to shut the window, but I cried that we wanted no supper,
but merely a resting-place for ourselves and horses, that we had
come that day from Astorga, and were dying with fatigue. 'Who is
that speaking?' cried the woman. 'Surely that is the voice of Gil,
the German clock-maker from Pontevedra. Welcome, old companion,
you are come at the right time, for my own is out of order. I am
sorry I kept you waiting, but I will admit you in a moment.'

The window was slammed to; presently light shone through the
crevices if the door, a key turned in the lock, and we were

LETTER: 19th August, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Sept. 11, 1837)
19TH AUG. [1837].

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I left Corunna about ten days since for this
town, travelling with the courier or weekly post, who was escorted
by a strong party of soldiers in consequence of the distracted
state of the country. Nothing particular worth relating occurred
during the journey, which occupied a day and a half, though the
distance is barely ten leagues. Santiago, or Saint James, is, as
you are aware, the capital of Galicia, and the residence of the
Metropolitan. It is, or was, the most celebrated resort for
pilgrims in the whole world, with the exception of Jerusalem, as it
is said to contain the bones of Saint James the Elder, the Child of
the Thunder, who according to the legend of the Roman Church first
preached the Gospel in Spain. The cathedral, though built at
various periods and by no means uniform, is a majestic, venerable
edifice, in every respect calculated to excite awe and admiration;
indeed it is almost impossible to walk its long dusky aisles and
hear the solemn music and the noble chanting and inhale the incense
of the mighty censers, which are at times swung so high by
machinery that they smite the vaulted roof, whilst gigantic tapers
glitter here and there amongst the gloom from the shrine of many a
saint, before which the worshippers are kneeling, breathing forth
their prayers and petitions for help, love, and mercy, and
entertain a doubt that we are treading the floor of a house where
God delighteth to dwell. Yet the Lord is distant from that house.
He heareth not, He seeth not: or, if He hear and see, it is with
anger. What availeth that solemn music, that noble chanting, that
incense of sweet savour? What availeth kneeling before that grand
altar of silver, surmounted by that figure with its silver hat and
breastplate, the emblem of one who, although an Apostle and
Confessor, was at best an unprofitable servant? What availeth
hoping for remission of sin by trusting in the merits of him who
possessed none, or by paying homage to others who were born and
nurtured in sin, and who alone by the exercise of a lively faith
granted from above could hope to preserve themselves from the wrath
of the Almighty? Yet such acts and formalities constitute what is
termed religion at Compostella, where, perhaps, God and His will
are less known and respected than at Pekin or amid the wildernesses
where graze the coursers of the Mongol and the Mandchou. Perhaps
there is no part of Spain where the Romish religion is so cherished
as throughout Galicia. In no part of Spain are the precepts and
ordinances of that Church, especially fasting and confession, so
strictly observed, and its ministers regarded with so much respect
and deference. The natural conclusion therefore would be that, if
the religion of Rome be the same as that founded by Christ, the
example of the Saviour is more closely followed, and the savage and
furious passions more bridled, bloodshed and rapine less frequent,
unchastity and intemperance less apparent, and the minds of the
people more enlightened and free from the mists of superstition in
Galicia than in other provinces.

What is the fact? Almost every road is teeming with banditti, who
under the name of Carlists plunder friend and foe, and to robbery
join cruelty so atrociously horrible that indignation at the crime
is frequently lost in wonder; for the Galician robbers are seldom
satisfied with booty, and unlike their brethren in other parts
generally mutilate or assassinate those who are so unfortunate as
to fall in their hands; prostitution is carried on to an enormous
extent, and although loathsome concustant [sic] diseases stare the
stranger in the face in the street, in the market-place, in the
church, and at the fountain; 'Drunken as a Galician' is a proverb;
and superstitions forgotten, abandoned in the rest of Spain, are
clung to here with surprising pertinacity, the clergy exerting
themselves to uphold them by carrying on a very extensive sale in
charms, verifying the old saying, 'Witches are found where friars

An unhappy man, whilst collecting vipers amongst the hills, which
he was in the practice of selling to the apothecaries, was lately
met near Orense by some of these monsters. Having plundered and
stripped him, they tied his hands behind him and thrust his head
into the sack, which contained several of these horrible reptiles
alive! They then fastened the sack at the mouth round his neck,
and having feasted their ears for a time with his cries, they
abandoned him to his fate. The poor wretch, stung by the vipers in
the face and eyes, presently became mad and ran through several
villages, till he fell dead.

I am now in the heart of this strange country and people. It has
pleased the Lord to bless my humble endeavours more than I had
reason to expect; since my arrival Santiago between thirty and
forty copies of the New Testament have been despatched. The
bookseller of the place, Rey Romero, a venerable man of seventy,
very wealthy and respected, has taken up the cause with an
enthusiasm which doubtless emanates from on high, losing no
opportunity of recommending the work to those who enter his shop,
which is very splendid and commodious.

In many instances, when the peasants of the neighbourhood have come
with the intention of purchasing some of the foolish popular story-
books of Spain, he has persuaded them in lieu thereof to carry home
Testaments, assuring them that it was not only a better and more
instructive, but even a far more entertaining book than those they
came in quest of. He has taken a great fancy to me, and comes to
visit me every evening, when he accompanies me in my walks about
the town and environs. Every one who is aware how rare it is to
meet with friendship and cordiality in Spain will easily conceive
my joy at finding such a coadjutor, and I have no doubt that when I
am absent he will exert himself as much, and I hope as effectually,
as now that I am present.

I leave Saint James to-morrow for Pontevedra and Vigo, carrying
with me some Testaments which I hope to dispose of, notwithstanding
there are no booksellers in those places. I shall then return to
Corunna, either by Compostella or by some other route. I trust the
Lord will preserve me in this journey as He has done in others.
From Corunna I propose to travel through the mountains to Oviedo in
the Asturias, provided that town be not speedily in the hands of
the factious. By the time these lines reach you, you will
doubtless have heard of the irruption of a part of the Pretender's
hordes into Old Castile; they have carried everything before them,
and have sacked and taken possession of the city of Segovia,
distant only one day's march from Madrid. From the aspect of
things I should say that the miseries of this land, far from having
reached their climax, are but commencing. Yet let no one mourn for
Egypt: she is but paying the price of her sorceries and


P.S. - At San Sebastian I shall need Davison's Turkish Grammar,
which you have in the Library. It will be of assistance to me in
editing the Basque St. Luke; the two languages are surprisingly

LETTER: 15th September, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Oct. 9, 1837)
CORUNNA, SEP. 15, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - About ten days have elapsed since my return
to Corunna. I stated in my last letter, from Compostella, that it
was my intention to visit Pontevedra and Vigo, which I carried into
effect. In the first of these places I left, as I passed through,
eight copies of the New Testament in the hands of Senor Garcia, the
public notary; three days subsequent, on my return, I found that he
had disposed of them, and I have since sent him a fresh supply. He
is a very zealous and exceeding intelligent person, and I have no
doubt will prove a highly useful agent in Pontevedra and its
beautiful neighbourhood, which is the garden of Galicia. In Vigo I
disposed of four Testaments, but was not so fortunate as to find
any person willing or calculated to undertake the charge accepted
by my friend in the former town.

Having reached Padron, in my journey back, I sent my servant and
horses forward to Saint James, and guided by a peasant, proceeded
across the country to Cape Finisterre, on whose rocky sides I so
narrowly escaped being shipwrecked last year. The distance was
fifteen leagues, and the route lay over wild mountains and valleys,
where we suffered much from fatigue and the heat of the sun.
Arrived at Finisterre we were seized as Carlist spies by the
fishermen of the place, who determined at first on shooting us, but
at last contented themselves with conducting us prisoners to
Corcubion, where the ALCALDE of the district, after having examined
me and perused my passport, ordered me to be set at liberty, and
treated me with all manner of civility. By this journey I
accomplished what has long been one of the ardent wishes of my
heart. I have carried the Gospel to the extreme point of the old
world, having left a Testament in the hands of Antonio de Trava, an
ancient mariner of Finisterre, who took my part in a very friendly
manner, and probably saved me from experiencing much violence at
the hands of his companions. Finisterre is a place of wonders,
which I hope at some future time to have the pleasure of narrating;
but at present I must speak of other matters. About one hundred
Testaments have been disposed of at Saint James of Compostella, and
there is at present a steady regular demand for them there which
inspires my heart with gratitude to the Almighty. Shortly previous
to my journey to Saint James, I despatched fifty copies to Lugo,
where the Lord vouchsafed me good success on a former occasion;
this second supply being almost exhausted, I have sent more. Only
fifty-eight copies have hitherto been sold at Corunna, for its
inhabitants are far too much engrossed by party politics to
entertain much relish for heavenly manna. I pray every night and
morning that their eyes may be opened to their eternal welfare.

Having now arranged matters in Galicia, as well as circumstances
will permit, I am about to quit this province, directing my course
to Oviedo in the Asturias. The way is long, and is infested by
robbers and factious; yet I go forth without much fear, hoping that
the Lord will prove my shield and guard as on other occasions.
From Oviedo I proceed to Santander, and from thence to the Basque
provinces. Santander, being a large and flourishing town, affords
me a tolerable prospect of success, and I have accordingly directed
my agent at Madrid to despatch thither forthwith 150 Testaments.
The intermediate country is, however, in a most distracted state, a
great part of it being in the hands of the Carlists; it is
therefore probable that the books may never reach me, in which
event I shall have to apply to England. To the Basque provinces I
hope to carry Saint Luke in a Biscayan version, which I shall print
at Santander should an opportunity present itself.

No time must be lost in accomplishing all that is possible in
Spain, which in the course of a few months may be entirely in the
hands of the Pretender. I received the lines which you directed to
the care of the British consul at Corunna, and was thankful for
them. Pray present my kind remembrances to Mrs. Brandram and
family, to Mr. Jowett, and Mr. and Mrs. Browne.

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


LETTER: 29th September, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Oct. 17, 1837)

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - A day or two after the date of my last letter
I quitted Corunna and passed over the bay to Ferrol, where I left
twenty Testaments in the hands of a person who has just established
a small book-shop in that place. My servant Antonio went round by
land with my horse, the only one which I now possess, I having
disposed (1) of the largest of the two at Corunna, as I thought he
was unable to support the fatigue of a journey to Oviedo. At
Ferrol I hired a horse and guide as far as Ribadeo, a distance of
twenty leagues, and somewhat less than half the way to Oviedo.
This journey was a terrible one; during the greatest part of it we
had to toil up and down mountain gorges and ravines, to force our
way through bushes and thickets, and to wade rivulets and torrents
swollen by the rain, which descended continually; our guide proved
perfectly ignorant of the country, and we had to bribe various
peasants to accompany us, though we incurred great risk by so doing
of being conducted to some den of thieves, and stripped and
murdered. At Ribadeo we procured a fresh horse and guide, and
continued our way to Oviedo, encountering still greater
difficulties, the ground being still more rugged and broken than
that which we had previously passed over. My own horse rolled down
a precipice, and was much maimed, whilst that of the guide was so
worn out by the time he reached Gijon, four leagues from Oviedo,
that he foundered. As for Antonio and myself, we arrived
barefooted and bleeding, for I need scarcely say that during all
this journey, which amounted at least to 130 miles, we went on
foot, the poor horses being scarcely able to carry our books and

I am now by the blessing of the Almighty in the city of Oviedo, the
capital of the Asturias, although at an unpropitious season, for
the bray of war is at the gate, and there is the cry of the
captains and the shouting. Castile is at the present time in the
hands of the Carlists, who have captured and plundered Valladolid,
in much the same manner as they did Segovia. They are every day
expected to march on this place, in which case they will probably
experience an obstinate resistance, very excellent redoubts having
been erected, and several of the convents strongly fortified,
especially that of Santa Clara de la Vega. All minds here are at
present in a state of feverish anxiety and suspense, more
especially as no intelligence at present arrives from Madrid, which
by the last accounts was beleaguered by the bands of Cabrera,
Palillos, and Orejita. - But I am interrupted, and I lay down my

A strange adventure has just occurred to me. I am in the ancient
town of Oviedo, in a very large, scantily furnished and remote room
of an ancient POSADA, formerly a palace of the Counts of Santa
Cruz. It is past ten at night and the rain is descending in
torrents. I ceased writing on hearing numerous footsteps ascending
the creaking stairs which lead to my apartment - the door was flung
open, and in walked nine men of tall stature, marshalled by a
little hunch-backed personage. They were all muffled in the long
cloaks of Spain, but I instantly knew by their demeanour that they
were CABALLEROS, or gentlemen. They placed themselves in a rank
before the table where I was sitting; suddenly and simultaneously
they all flung back their cloaks, and I perceived that every one
bore a book in his hand, a book which I knew full well. After a
pause, which I was unable to break, for I sat lost in astonishment
and almost conceived myself to be visited by apparitions, the
hunch-back advancing somewhat before the rest said in soft silvery
tones: 'SENOR Cavalier, was it you who brought this book to the
Asturias?' I now supposed that they were the civil authorities of
the place come to take me into custody, and rising from my seat I
exclaimed, 'It certainly was I, and it is my glory to have done so.
The book is the New Testament of God; I wish it was in my power to
bring a million.' 'I heartily wish so too,' said the little
personage with a sigh. 'Be under no apprehension, Sir Cavalier;
these gentlemen are my friends. We have just purchased these books
in the shop where you have placed them for sale, and have taken the
liberty of calling upon you in order to return you our thanks for
the treasure you have brought us. I hope you can furnish us with
the Old Testament also.' I replied that I was sorry to inform him
that at present it was entirely out of my power to comply with his
wish, as I had no Old Testaments in my possession, but did not
despair of procuring some speedily, from England. He then asked me
a great many questions concerning my Biblical travels in Spain, and
my success, and the views entertained by the Society in respect to
Spain, adding that he hoped I should pay particular attention to
the Asturias, which he assured me was the best ground in the
Peninsula for our labour. After about half-an-hour's conversation,
he suddenly said in the English language, 'Good night, sir,'
wrapped his cloak around him, and walked out as he had come. His
companions, who had hitherto not uttered a word, all repeated,
'Good night, sir,' and adjusting their cloaks followed him.

In order to explain this strange scene I must inform you that this
morning I visited the petty bookseller of the place, Longoria, and
having arranged preliminaries with him I sent him in the evening a
package of forty Testaments, all I possess, with some
advertisements. At the time he assured me that, though he was
willing to undertake the sale, there was nevertheless not a
prospect of success, as a whole month had elapsed since he had sold
a book of any description, on account of the uncertainty of the
times and the poverty which pervaded the land. I therefore sat
down to write this letter much dispirited; this incident has,
however, admonished me not to be cast down when things look
gloomiest, as the hand of the Lord is generally then most busy:
that men may learn to perceive that whatever good is accomplished
is not theirs but His.

I shall quit Oviedo in a few days, but whither I shall now direct
my course I have not determined. It would be easy for me to reach
Santander, which is but thirty leagues [distant] and the road
tolerably free from accidents; but the state of affairs at Madrid
gives me considerable uneasiness, for I remember that Madrid is the
depot of our books, and I am apprehensive that in the revolutions
and disturbances which at present seem to threaten it, our whole
stock may perish. True it is that in order to reach Madrid I
should have to pass through the midst of the Carlist hordes, who
would perhaps slay or make me prisoner; but I am at present so much
accustomed to perilous adventure, and have hitherto experienced so
many fortunate escapes, that the dangers which infest the route
would not deter me a moment from venturing. But there is no
certain intelligence, and Madrid may be in safety or on the brink
of falling; perhaps a few hours will inform us, when I shall at
once decide. My next letter will therefore be either from
Santander or the capital of Spain.

Oviedo is picturesquely situated between two mountains, Morcin and
Naranco; the former is very high and ragged, and during the
greatest part of the year is covered with snow; the sides of the
latter are cultivated and planted with vines. The town itself
possesses nothing very remarkable with the exception of the
cathedral, the tower of which is very high, and is perhaps the
purest specimen of Gothic architecture at present in existence.
The interior of the edifice is neat and appropriate but simple and
unadorned, for I observed but one picture, the Conversion of St.
Paul. One of the chapels is a cemetery, in which rest the bones of
eleven Gothic kings, whose souls I trust in Christ have been

I will now conclude in the words of Heber:

'From Greenland's icy mountains,
From India's coral strand -
Where Afric's sunny fountains
Roll down the yellow sand -
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from error's chain.'

Most truly yours,

G. B.

P.S. - Morning [Sept.] 30th, twenty Testaments have been sold.

LETTER: 1st November, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Nov. 13, 1837)
MADRID, NOVR. 1, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - In my last letter, from Oviedo in the
Asturias, I stated that my next would be dated either from
Santander or the capital of Spain. I arrived yesterday at Madrid,
but I previously visited Santander, which I reached with my usual
good fortune, without accident, after a fatiguing journey of six
days. When there, I found to my great sorrow that the two hundred
Testaments which I had ordered to be sent from Madrid were not
come; and I supposed that they had either been seized on the way by
the Carlists or that my letter had miscarried. (2) I then thought
of applying to England for a supply, but I abandoned the idea for
two reasons; first, that I should have to remain idly loitering at
Santander for at least a month before I could receive them - a
place where every article is so dear that my expenses with the
strictest economy would have amounted to nearly two pounds PER
DIEM; secondly, that I was very unwell, and unable to procure
medical advice at Santander: for, to tell the truth, ever since I
left Corunna I have been afflicted with a terrible dysentery, and
latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the other malady.

I therefore determined on returning to Madrid. To effect this,
however, seemed almost impossible. Parties of the army of Don
Carlos, which in a partial degree had been routed in Castile, were
hovering about the country through which I should have to pass,
more especially that part called 'The Mountains,' so that all
communication had ceased between Santander and the southern
districts. Nevertheless I determined to trust, as usual, in the
Almighty and to venture. I purchased, therefore, a small horse and
sallied forth with Antonio, notwithstanding I was so unwell as to
be scarcely able to support myself. I wished to have written to
you from Santander, but I was exceedingly dispirited and could not
collect my thoughts. Before departing, I of course entered into
conference with the booksellers as to what they should do in the
event of my finding an opportunity of sending them a stock of
Testaments from Madrid, and having arranged things to my
satisfaction I committed myself to Providence. I will not dwell
long on this journey of three hundred miles. We were in the midst
of the fire, yet, strange to say, escaped without a hair being
singed; robberies, murders, and all kinds of atrocity were
perpetrated before, behind, and on both sides of us, but not so
much as a dog barked at US, though in one instance a plan had been
laid to intercept us. About four leagues from Santander, whilst we
were baiting our horses at a village hostelry, I saw a fellow run
off after having held a whispering conversation with a boy who was
dealing out barley to us. I instantly enquired of the latter what
the man had said to him, but only obtained an evasive answer. It
appeared afterwards that the conversation was about ourselves. Two
or three leagues further on there was an inn and village, where we
had proposed staying, and indeed had expressed our intention of
doing so; but on arriving there, finding that the sun was still far
from its bourn, I determined to proceed further, expecting to find
a resting-place at the distance of a league; though I was mistaken,
finding none until we reached Montaneda, nine leagues and a half
from Santander, where was stationed a small detachment of soldiers.
At the dead of night we were aroused from our sleep by a cry that
the 'factious' were not far off. A messenger had arrived from the
ALCALDE of the village where we had previously intended staying,
who stated that a party of Carlists had just surprised that place,
and were searching for an English spy whom they supposed to be at
the inn. The officer commanding the soldiers, upon hearing this,
not deeming his own situation a safe one, instantly drew off his
men, falling back on a stronger party stationed in a fortified
village near at hand; as for ourselves we saddled our horses and
continued our way in the dark. Had the Carlists succeeded in
apprehending me, I should instantly have been shot, and my body
cast on the rocks to feed the vultures and wolves. But 'it was not
so written' - said my man, who is a Greek and a fatalist. The next
night we had another singular escape; we had arrived near the
entrance of a horrible pass, called EL PUERTO DE LA PUENTE DE LAS
TABLAS, or the pass of the bridge of planks, which wound through a
black and frightful mountain, on the further side of which was the
town of Onas, where we meant to tarry for the night. The sun had
set about a quarter of an hour. Suddenly a man with his face
covered with blood rushed out of the pass. Turn back, sir,' he
said, 'in the name of God; there are murderers in that pass; they
have just robbed me of my mule and all I possess, and I have hardly
escaped with life from their hands.' I scarcely can say why, but I
made him no answer, and proceeded; indeed I was so weary and unwell
that I cared not what became of me. We entered - the rocks rose
perpendicularly right and left, entirely intercepting the scanty
twilight, so that the darkness of the grave, or rather the
blackness of the valley of the shadow of death, reigned around us,
and we knew not where we went, but trusted solely to the instinct
of the horses, who moved on with their heads close to the ground.
The only sound which we heard was the splash of a stream which
tumbled down the pass. I expected every moment to feel a knife at
my throat, but - IT WAS NOT SO WRITTEN. We threaded the pass
without meeting a human being, and within three quarters of an hour
after the time we entered it, we found ourselves within the POSADA
of the town of Onas, which was filled with troops and armed
peasants expecting an attack from the grand Carlist army, which was
near at hand.

Well! we reached Burgos in safety, we reached Valladolid in safety,
we passed the Guadarama in safety, and now we are safely housed in
Madrid. People say we have been very lucky; Antonio says, 'It was
so written'; but I say, 'Glory be to the Lord for His mercies

I did not find matters in a very prosperous state in Madrid. Few
copies of the New Testament have been sold; yet what else could be
rationally expected in these latter times? Don Carlos with a large
army has been at the gates; plunder and massacre were expected, and
people have been too much occupied in planning to secure their
lives and property to have much time to devote to reading of any
description. I have had an interview with Dr. Usoz, and have just
received a most interesting letter from him, replete with
patriotism and piety; amongst other things he says, 'only
circumstances and the public poverty are the cause of the works not
having met with sale at Madrid.' Of this letter I shall send a
translation. It contains some remarks respecting Father Scio's
version, which I consider to be of high importance, and humbly
recommend to the attention of the Committee.

But I am at present in Madrid, and am thus enabled to superintend
in person the measures calculated to secure the sale of the work.
I shall forthwith cause a thousand advertisements to be printed and
affixed from time to time in every part of the city. I shall
likewise employ colporteurs to vend them in the streets, and shall
perhaps establish a stall or small shop, where Testaments and
Testaments alone will be sold. - No exertion of which I am capable
will be spared, and if 'the Word of the Lord' become not speedily
better known at Madrid, it will be because the Lord in His
inscrutable wisdom does not so will it.

Whilst in the northern provinces I ordered a hundred copies to be
despatched from Madrid to each of the three great towns, Valencia,
Seville, and Cadiz, with advertisements; I am glad to be able to
state that advice has been received that the books have reached
their destination. At the commencement of the coming year it is my
intention to visit those parts; for no work seems to prosper in
Spain which is not closely attended to by the master. Whilst at
Valladolid I ordered all the copies which remained unsold of the
second supply to be sent to Burgos, and I am now going to despatch
a third fifty to the former town, and a still larger quantity to
Oviedo, those which I carried thither having been all sold during
my short stay.

In a few days it is my intention to commit to the press Luke in
Basque and in Rommany, the latter of which versions I propose to
carry with me to Andalusia and Valencia, the two provinces which
most abound with the Rommany-Chai, of whom, by the way, I found no
trace in Old Castile, Galicia, or the Asturias. As for the Basque
version, it is probable that even in Madrid it will not be without
demand, as many Biscayans residing there will doubtless be eager to
read the Gospel when placed within their reach in their native

I will now conclude by begging pardon for all errors of commission
and omission. I am a frail foolish vessel, and have accomplished
but a slight portion of what I proposed in my vanity. Yet
something, though but little, has been effected by this journey,
which I have just brought to a conclusion. The New Testament of
Christ is enjoying a quiet sale in the principal towns of the north
of Spain, and I have secured the FRIENDLY INTEREST and co-operation
of the booksellers of those parts, particularly him, the most
considerable of them all, Rey Romero of Compostella. I have,
moreover, by private sale disposed of one hundred and sixteen
Testaments to individuals entirely of the lower classes, namely,
muleteers, carmen, CONTRABANDISTAS, etc.

My accounts will follow in a few days. Now may the Lord bless you,
and dispose you to pray for myself and all in this land of misery
and sorrow.

G. B.

LETTER: 20th November, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Dec. 2, 1837)
NOVR. 20, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - On the other side you have an account of the
money which I expended during my journey, and also of what I have
laid out in the Society's service since my return. In respect to
my expenses, I wish to state that most articles are very dear in
Spain, especially in the parts where I have travelled, and that I
have been subjected to many expenses which I have not specified in
the account, for example the gate-dues for the books, in every town
where I have introduced them - the printing of advertisements - and
particularly farriers' bills, as the poor horses were continually
ailing from over-work, bad provender and falls received amongst the
mountains. In the account of Testaments sold you will observe that
I make no mention of by far the greater number, namely those
disposed of at Lugo, Saint James, etc., etc., as I have not yet
received the money from the booksellers. About a week since I
received advice from Leon that the forty copies which I had left
there had been all sold, and that the money was in readiness; I
have despatched a fresh supply of fifty to that important town,
where last summer I nearly lost my life in a burning fever. I am
expecting every day a fresh order from Salamanca, and hope that, as
the circle widens in the lake into which a stripling has cast a
pebble, so will the circle of our usefulness continue widening
until it has embraced the whole vast region of Spain.

I have delayed writing for nearly a fortnight, as during that
period I have been looking out for a suitable shop in which to
commence operations in Madrid. I have just found one quite to my
mind, situated in the CALLE DEL PRINCIPE, one of the principal
streets. The rent, it is true, is rather high (eight REALS per
diem); but a good situation, as you are well aware, must be paid
for. I came to the resolution of establishing a shop from finding
that the Madrid booksellers entrusted with the Testaments gave
themselves no manner of trouble to secure the sale, and even
withheld advertisements from the public with which they were
supplied. But now everything will be on another footing, and I
have sanguine hopes of selling all that remain of the edition
within a short time.

A violent and furious letter against the Bible Society and its
proceedings has lately appeared in a public print; it is prefixed
to a Pastoral of the Spiritual Governor [I.E. Bishop] of Valencia,
in which he forbids the sale of the London Bible in that see.
About a week since I inserted in the ESPANOL an answer to that
letter, which answer has been read and praised. I send you
herewith an English translation of it. You will doubtless deem it
too warm and fiery, but tameness and gentleness are of little avail
when surrounded by the vassal slaves of bloody Rome. It has
answered one purpose - it has silenced our antagonist, who, it
seems, is an unprincipled benefice-hunting curate. As you read
Spanish, I have copied his own words respecting the omission of the
Apocrypha; nevertheless, lest you should find some difficulty in
understanding it, I subjoin here the English.

'If the works of Luther were to be given to the world curtailed of
their PRINCIPAL CHAPTERS, and his maxims and precepts to a certain
degree transformed, what would his followers and disciples do?
Would they not rise with one accord in numerous bands, and, in
order to sustain the honour of their preceptor, would they not
recur to the original writings and produce in his support his
manuscripts? Would they not resort to all kinds of argument to
prove the spuriousness of that edition, and employ declamation and
reasoning in order to blacken the illicit and fraudulent means
which the Catholics were employing?' etc., etc., etc.

I deemed it my duty, as Agent of the Bible Society in Spain, not to
permit so brutal an attack upon it to pass unanswered. Indeed I
was called upon by my friends to reply, and though I am adverse to
all theological and political disputes, I feared to refuse, lest
the motives of my silence should be misconstrued. But now I must
be permitted to say (between ourselves) that it was a very
unadvised act to send such a Bible as the London one over to Spain,
a Bible which does the editor no credit and the Society less; and
it was a still more unadvised act to advertise in the prints of
Valencia that it would be given GRATIS to the poor. Mr. Villiers,
whom I consulted, made use of these words: 'How is it possible for
you (meaning myself) to sell books at Madrid and other places, when
it becomes known that those very same books are being given away at
Valencia? Moreover, giving away Bibles to the multitude will seem
to imply that there is some plot or conspiracy in the wind, and the
Government, with some shadow of reason, may be called upon to
interfere, and the proceedings of the Society may be brought to a
sudden stop in Spain.' I hope you will excuse these hints; they
are well meant, and in uttering them I have, as you know, the
prosperity of our hallowed cause solely at heart.

G. B.

(I am still very unwell.)


GENTLEMEN, - My attention has this moment been directed by a friend
to a letter which appeared in your journal of the 5th instant,
signed Jose Francisco Garcia and prefixed to a circular of the
Governor of the See of Valencia, the object of which is to forbid
the purchasing or reading of the Castilian version of the Bible by
Father Felipe Scio, as edited in London by the British and Foreign
Bible Society, and which the Agent of the Society at Valencia has
announced for sale.

Did the principles of the Bible Society permit them to rejoice at
the misfortunes of their fellow-creatures, even of their enemies,
the style and tone which the writer of this epistle has,
unfortunately for himself and his cause, adopted, would afford them
plenteous matter for congratulation. He calls himself an
ecclesiastic and talks about 'the sacred duty of his august
ministry,' and for the purpose, I suppose, of showing how strictly
he fulfils the precepts of his mild Master and Redeemer, he styles
the Society in question 'an infernal Society,' and speaks of 'its
accursed fecundity.' Goodly words! Charitable words! May I be
permitted to enquire in what part of the sacred writings he found
them recommended? Perhaps in the following text of the Vulgate:-

'Vae vobis Scribae et Phariseai hypocritae, qui decimatis mentham,
et anethum, et cyminum, et reliquistis quae graviora sunt legis,
JUDICIUM, ET MISERICORDIAM, et fidem. Haec oportuit facere, et
illa non omittere.'

Matt. cap. xxiii. vers. 23.

Ay de vosotros, Escribas y Phariseos hipocritas, que diezmais la
yerba buena, y el eneldo, y el comino, y habeis dexado las cosas,
que son mas importantes de la Ley, LA JUSTICIA, Y LA MISERICORDIA,
y la fe! Esto era menester hacer, y no dexar lo otro.

The British and Foreign Bible Society is an infernal society and
consequently its members, one and all, are children of the devil.
Now, what is required to constitute a child of the devil, according
to the opinion of the Founder of Christianity - of Jesus - the
Living Word - the Eternal God? Let me quote HIS own words,
according to the Vulgate, the book of the Church of Rome:

'Vos ex patre diabolo estis: et desideria patris vestri vultis
facere. Ille homicida erat ab initio, et in veritate non stetit,
quia non est veritas in eo: cum loquitur mendacium, ex propriis
loquitur, quia mendax est et pater ejus.'

Joan. cap. viii. vers. 44.

'Vosotros sois hijos del diablo, y quereis cumplir los deseos de
vuestro padre: el fue homicida desde el principio, y no permanecio
en la verdad; porque no hay verdad en el: quando habla mentira, de
suyo habla; porque es mentiroso, y padre de la mentira.'

By this it should appear that the infernal Bible Society by the
propagation of the Scriptures merely fulfils the desire of its
father the devil, and disseminates that which is his. Being a
child of the devil it cannot propagate truth; it propagates the
Gospel, and nothing else - ERGO, the Gospel is a lie and the father
of it the devil.

But the Bible Society is accused, not only in the circular, but in
the epistle which introduces it to the ESPANOL, of vending a
mutilated and curtailed version of the holy books. It is accused
of omitting six of the books which are generally bound up with what
is denominated the Bible; viz., Tobias, Judith, Baruch, Sabiduria,
Eclesiastico, y 1* y 2* de los Machabeos. The CHRISTIAN
ECCLESIASTIC, the author of the epistle, in indignation at this
omission becomes suddenly argumentative, and puts a case to the
heretics, which he deems in point; 'Si vieran la luz publica las
obras de Lutero mutiladas en sus PRINCIPALES CAPITULOS, y
transformadas en cierto modo sus maximas y preceptos; que
diligencias no practicarian sus secuaces y discipulos? Se
levantarian a una en tropas numerosas para sostener el honor de su
preceptor, y con el fin de dejar en su justo lugar a su amado
maestre, recurririan a sus escritos originales, manifestarian en su
apoyo los manuscritos, apelarian a todo linage de argumentos para
acreditar la ilegitimidad de aquella edicion, y emplearian sus
declamaciones y raciocinios para ascar los medios rateres e
ilicitos de que se valia el catolicismo.'

Hear it in Gath! hear it in Gilead! hear it on the hills of Israel!
yea let the furthest corners of the earth hear it! The PRINCIPAL
CHAPTERS of the Bible are not those of the New Testament, which
contains the will and words of the Saviour, by whom we are to be
judged - not those of Isaiah, who foretold so beautifully and
distinctly the coming of that Saviour to the world - not those of
Moses, who wrote of things in their earliest date, and so nobly
depicted the progress of the creation, - but those of the books of
Tobit, Baruch, etc., books which the Roman Church itself has called
apocryphal, and the greater part of which exhibit an internal
character of spuriousness which precludes the possibility of their
being the offspring of inspired minds, though they contain some
things useful and instructive, such as may be found in the writings
of the early doctors, who however never claimed nor were deemed to
possess the gift of inspiration from on high.

Let me here ask: what is to be discovered in the chapters of
Tobit, etc., of first rate importance to the Christian in his
worldly pilgrimage, or which serves to corroborate and illustrate
other parts of Scripture? Above all, is Christ crucified spoken of
or hinted at, as in the authenticated writings of the Prophets? If
not, what is their value in comparison with that of other books of
Scripture, even could their authenticity be proved?

Now to that point. This Christian ecclesiastic calls with a loud
voice upon his brethren to prove by pamphlets and writing the
divinity of the books of Tobit, Judith, etc. Yea, let them
accomplish that - let them bring sufficient evidence that these
apocryphal writings were held in veneration by the Jews, that they
enjoyed a place in the sanctuary along with the inspired writings,
let them show that they were penned by Prophets, above all LET THEM
PRODUCE THE ORIGINALS - and the Bible Society will immediately
admit them into its editions. Why not? I am not aware that one
point of doctrine, either Protestant or Roman, depends upon their
reception or rejection.

In conclusion. What struck me most on the perusal of this singular
epistle, all the main points of which I believe I have tolerably
well answered, and without much trouble, was the ignorance more
than childish, the extraordinary, unaccountable ignorance, which
the author displays on the subject on which he has written, and all
which relates to it, notwithstanding that subject is a religious
one, and he, an ecclesiastic as he gives the world to know,
standing forward as champion of the Church of Rome. He is
evidently as well acquainted with Scripture and the works of the
Fathers as with the Talmud and Zend-avesta, and with the ideas and
dogmas of those whom he calls heretics, as with the religious
opinions of the Mongols and the followers of the Lama of the
Himalayan hills. The miserable attack which, in his rancorous
feebleness, he has just committed on the Bible Society will redound
merely to his own shame and ridicule, and the disgrace of the sect
to which he belongs. What could persuade him to speak of the
Vulgate? What could induce him to grasp that two-edged sword?
Does it not cut off his own hands? Does the Vulgate allude to the
Bible Society, or to him and his fellows, when it cries:-

Vae vobis legisperitis, quia tulistis clavem scientiae, ipsi non
introistis: et eos, qui introibant, prohibuistis. - Lucae, cap.
xi. vers. 52.

'Ay de vosotros, Doctores de la Ley que os alzasteis con la llave
de la ciencia! vosotros no entrasteis, y habeis prohibido a los que

And again:-

Qui ex Deo est, verba Dei audit. Propterea vos non auditis, quia
ex Deo non estis. - Joan. cap. viii. vers. 47.

'El que es de Dios, oye las palabras de Dios. Por eso vosotros no
las ois, porque no sois de Dios.'

What could induce him to speak of Luther and his works? What does
he, what do his abettors, know of Luther and his writings, or of
the ideas which the heretics entertain respecting either? I will
instruct them. Luther was a bold inquiring man, with some
learning; he read the Scriptures in the original tongues, and found
that their contents were in entire variance with the doctrines of
the Church of the Seven Hills; he told the world so, as other men
had done, with feebler voices, before, and the best part of the
world believed - not him - but the Scripture, for he gave it to
them in a shape which they could understand. The heretics look not
for salvation by the merits either of Luther or Calvin, for merits
they had none - being merely the instruments which Providence
selected to commence a great work which He has hitherto not thought
proper to perfect. The heretics look for salvation to Christ and
hope to be forgiven by lively faith in Him and by virtue of His
blood-shedding. They trust not in Peter nor in Paul - both men and
sinners - in Luther nor in Calvin - greater sinners still - but in
Christ alone. They trust not in stick nor stone, in picture nor in
image, in splinter of cross nor bone of saint, but in Christ alone
- not in His mother or His brother - He Himself has said: 'those
that do the will of my Father that is in heaven, they are my
mother, they are my brethren.'

Quae est mater mea, et qui sunt fratres mei? . . .

Quicumque fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in coelis est, ipse
meus frater et soror et mater est. - Matt. cap. xii. vers. 48-50.

Christ alone is the foundation and cope-stone of the true Church.


LETTER: 28th November, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Dec. 8, 1837)
28TH NOVR. 1837, MADRID,

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have just received your letter [of Nov.
15th], for which I thank you heartily. I write these lines in a
great hurry, as no time must be lost. The shop opened yesterday,
and several Testaments have been sold, but three parts of the
customers departed on finding that only the New Testament was to be
obtained; and I may here state that if the books which I carried to
the provinces had been Bibles, I could have sold ten times the
amount of what I did. I must therefore be furnished with Bibles
instanter. Send me therefore the London edition, bad as it is, say
500 copies. I believe you have a friend at Cadiz, the consul, who
would have sufficient influence to secure their admission into
Spain. But the most advisable way would be to pack them in two
chests, placing at the top Bibles in English and other languages,
for there is a demand, viz.: 100 English, 100 French, 50 German,
50 Hebrew, 50 Greek, 10 Modern Greek, 10 Persian, 20 Arabic. PRAY

Direct the books thus:-


I start to-morrow for Toledo with 100 Testaments, for I must spare
no exertion in such a cause. I go as usual on horseback. I am in
a great hurry and can write no more.

Yours most truly,

(Send, with the books, a Modern Greek grammar and dictionary. You
must likewise renew my credit on Messrs. O'Shea & Compy.)

LETTER: 25th December, 1837

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Jany. 8, 1838)
DEC. 25, 1837.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have to acknowledge the receipt of your
letter of the 5th instant, and also my friend Mr. Jackson's of the
8th. I should have replied ere this, had not my time been entirely
occupied since my return from Toledo. The versions of St. Luke in
Gitano and Basque have been committed to the press; and as the
compositors are entirely ignorant of these languages a most strict
surveillance is required, which I hope will be admitted as an
excuse for having so long delayed to answer. I expect that within
a fortnight my task will be completed.

You are aware that I have established in Madrid a shop, or
DESPACHO, as it is here called, for the sale of Testaments, and you
are doubtless anxious to receive information as to its success. It
succeeds well, nay, I may say very well, when all circumstances are
taken into consideration; for it ought to be known that I have
ventured upon this step in the very place which of all in Spain,
affords the least chance of a successful issue, yet at the same
time in the place where such a step was most needed, provided it be
the imperative duty of Christians to make the Word of their Master
known in the dark portions of the earth. It was a step fraught
with difficulties of every kind. Madrid, it is true, is the
capital of Spain; yet let no one for a moment suppose that being so
it is consequently the largest, richest and most enlightened town
in the Peninsula. In the first place, it is inferior in population
to Valencia and Barcelona; in the second, misery and distress reign
here to an extent unknown elsewhere; and so far from its being
peculiarly enlightened, I believe that of all places in the
Peninsula it is the least so. It is the centre of old, gloomy,
bigoted Spain, and if there be one inveterate disgusting prejudice
more prevalent and more cherished in one spot than another, it is
here, in this heart of old, popish, anti-christian Spain, always
difficult of access, but now peculiarly so, as it is scarcely
possible to travel a league from its gates without being stript
naked and murdered. Yet in this singular capital, in the midst of
furious priests and Carlists, I have ventured upon establishing a
shop which bears on its front in large letters: 'Despatch of the
British and Foreign Bible Society.' To call the attention of the
people to this establishment, I printed three thousand
advertisements on paper, yellow, blue, and crimson, with which I
almost covered the sides of the streets, and besides this inserted
notices in all the journals and periodicals, employing also a man
after the London fashion to parade the streets with a placard, to
the astonishment of the populace.

The consequence has been that at present every person in Madrid,
man, woman, and child, is aware of the existence of the
establishment. You must feel convinced that such exertions would
in London or in Paris have insured the sale of the whole edition of
the New Testament within a few days. But hitherto I have had to
contend with ignorance - and such ignorance, with bigotry - and
such bigotry, and with great and terrible distress. So that since
the opening of the establishment, which I hope the Lord will deign
to bless, I have contrived to sell, and I may say that every copy
sold has cost me an exertion, and no slight one, between 70 and 80
New Testaments (3) and 10 Bibles. You will doubtless wonder where
I obtained the latter: in the shop of a bookseller who dared not
sell them himself, but who had brought them secretly from
Gibraltar. Of these Bibles there were two of the large edition,
printed by William Clowes, 1828 (I would give my right hand for a
thousand of them); these I sold (on the bookseller's account) for
70 REALS or 17 shillings each, and the others, which were of the
very common edition, for 7 shillings, which is, however, far too
dear. My own Testament I sell for 10 REALS, which every person
allows to be unaccountably cheap, but I deem it best to be
moderate, on account of the distress of the times. Permit me here
to observe that this Testament has been allowed by people who have
perused it, and with no friendly feeling, to be one of the most
correct works that have ever issued from the press in Spain, and to
be an exceedingly favourable specimen of typography and paper: and
lucky it is for me that it is impossible to say anything against
the edition. (4) You will easily suppose that such an
establishment in Madrid has caused a great sensation. The priests
and bigots are teeming with malice and fury, which hitherto they
have thought proper to exhibit only in words, as they know that all
I do here is favoured by Mr. Villiers; (5) but there is no attempt,
however atrocious, which may not be expected from such people, and
were it right and seemly for ME, the most insignificant of worms,
to make such a comparison, I would say that, like Paul at Ephesus,
I am fighting with wild beasts.

I receive daily a great many applications for copies gratis, as it
is here the generally received opinion that the Bible Society
invariably gives away its publications; and I must confess that
this opinion, however it may have originated, is very prejudicial
to the sale of the Testament.

'Wait a while,' say many, 'and these books may be had for nothing.
Friends of ours who have been in England have had them pressed upon
them, and CART-LOADS have been given away in Cadiz and other
places.' Such a conversation was related to me yesterday, by my
excellent friend and coadjutor Doctor Usoz, who had just heard it
in a coffee-house. Of this gentleman I cannot speak in too high
terms of admiration; he is one of the most learned men in Spain,
and is become in every point a Christian, according to the standard
of the New Testament.

My projects are these. As soon as ever my Gospels are ready, I
mount the saddle once more, entrusting the DESPACHO and shopman to
the care of Dr. Usoz. My course will be directed to Andalusia, a
rich and tolerably enlightened province. Hitherto I have only had
to deal with poverty, ignorance, and bigotry; but I hope with God's
assistance to accomplish much at Seville and Cadiz. It is true
that to arrive there I shall have to pass through La Mancha and the
Morena district, which are entirely in the hands of the swarms of
banditti whose general is Palillos (he has upwards of 9000 under
his command), or through Estremadura, occupied at present by the
hordes of Jara and Orejita. But I fear nothing, and trust that One
above will preserve me. In the meantime let me beg and pray that
you will send Bibles, Bibles, Bibles of all sizes and prices, and
in all languages to Madrid. You cannot conceive how helpless and
forlorn I feel, 400 miles from the sea-coast, on being begged to
supply what I possess not. I received an order the other day for
20 Hebrew Bibles. I replied with tears in my eyes, 'I have nothing
but the New Testament in Spanish.'

You wish to know my reasons for censuring the London edition of the
Spanish Bible. I will state them in a few words: the utmost
confusion reigns throughout, both as to accentuation and
punctuation; words are frequently omitted or misspelt, and
occasionally a short sentence is left out. All this is very
annoying, but I was perhaps wrong in sending home 'so unmitigated a
censure.' It may possibly occur that a Spanish edition, unless
superintended by very zealous and careful people, may turn out yet
more incorrect. Therefore I should not be sorry to see any number
arrive at Madrid.

In reply to your observation that I am in a mistake in supposing
that Bibles have been given away to any extent in the south of

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