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Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

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person: an aged professor of music, by birth an old Castilian, and
one of the very few who retain traces of the ancient Spanish
character, which with all its faults, its stiffness, its formality,
and its pride, I believe (always setting the character of the
Christian aside) to be the most estimable and trustworthy in the
world. This venerable individual has just brought me the price of
six Testaments and a Gypsy Gospel, which he has this day sold under
the heat of an Andalusian sun. What was his motive? A Christian
one, truly. He says that his unfortunate countrymen, who are at
present robbing and murdering each other, may probably be rendered
better by the reading of the Gospel, but cannot be injured:
adding, that many a man has been reformed by the Scripture but that
no one ever yet became a thief or assassin from its perusal.

I have not yet addressed myself much to the lower orders in these
parts. Indeed the quantity of books, at my disposal, at present
remaining unsold in Spain is so small, that I am almost tempted to
be niggard of them, lest in an unprovided hour an extraordinary
call should be made. However, before leaving Seville, it will be
well to pay some attention to the poor. I have an agent awaiting
my orders, another Greek, introduced to me by Dionysius; he is a
labouring brick-layer, a native of the Morea, and has been upwards
of thirty-five years in this country, so that he has almost
entirely lost his native language; nevertheless his attachment to
his own country is so strong, that he considers whatever is not
Greek to be utterly barbarous and bad. Though entirely destitute
of education he has, by his strength of character and by a kind of
rude eloquence which he possesses, obtained such a mastery over the
minds of the labouring classes of Seville that to everything he
asserts they assent, however his assertions may shock their
prejudices and Spanish pride; so that notwithstanding he is a
foreigner he may at any time become the MASANIELLO of Seville. I
am happy to be able to add that he is an honest, industrious man
notwithstanding his eccentricities, so that should I employ him,
which I have not yet resolved upon, I may entertain perfect
confidence that his actions will be no disparagement to the book he

We are continually pressed for Bibles, which of course we cannot
supply; Testaments are held in comparatively little esteem. Allow
me to make here a remark which it is true I ought to have made
three years ago; but we live and learn. It is unwise to print
Testaments, and Testaments alone for Catholic countries. The
reason is plain. The Catholic, unused to Scripture reading, finds
a thousand things which he cannot possibly understand in the New
Testament, the foundation of which is the Old. 'Search the
Scriptures, for they bear witness to Me,' may well be applied to
this point. It may be replied that New Testaments separate are in
great demand and of infinite utility in England. But England,
thanks be to the Lord, is not Spain; and though an English labourer
may read a Testament and derive from it the most blessed fruit, it
does not follow that a Spanish peasant will enjoy similar success,
as he will find many dark things with which the other is well
acquainted and competent to understand, being versed in the Bible
history from his childhood. I confess however that in the campaign
of last summer we could not have accomplished with Bibles what
Providence permitted us to do with Testaments, the former being far
too bulky for rural journeys. In conclusion, I am glad to be able
to say that one of my principal reasons for leaving Madrid was an
inability to answer the pressing demands for Bibles which came
pouring upon me every instant, and to which every person in the
house where I lived can bear witness. Let the Revd. Doctor Wiseman
get over this fact, who in his unchristian and unfounded attack on
the Bible Society has stated that it cannot dispose of its books at
any price, nor indeed get rid of them gratis!

Dear Mrs. Browne shall have her letter.

G. B.

P.S. I have just received Mr. Brandram's epistle. Present to him
my best thanks for it, and above all for the remarks, which I will
remember. Pray let him send me the Pamphlet of the T. S. I wish
to see their observations on the Vulgate. Likewise the other

LETTER: 28th June, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. July 15, 1839)
28 JUNE 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I received your letter of the 22nd May, and
likewise Mr. Jackson's of the 5th June, containing the conclusion
of the [Annual] Report, which you were so kind as to send me. I
wish in the first place to say a few words, which some passages in
your communication suggest. Think not I pray you that any
observation of yours respecting style, or any peculiarities of
expression which I am in the habit of exhibiting in my
correspondence, can possibly awaken in me any feeling but that of
gratitude, knowing so well as I do the person who offers them, and
the motives by which he is influenced. I have reflected on those
passages which you were pleased to point out as objectionable, and
have nothing to reply further than that I have erred, that I am
sorry, and will endeavour to mend, and that moreover I have already
prayed for assistance so to do. Allow me however to offer a word
not in excuse but in explanation of the expression 'wonderful good
fortune' which appeared in a former letter of mine. It is clearly
objectionable, and, as you very properly observe, savours of pagan
times. But I am sorry to say that I am much in the habit of
repeating other people's sayings without weighing their propriety.
The saying was not mine: but I heard it in conversation and
thoughtlessly repeated it. A few miles from Seville I was telling
the courier of the many perilous journeys which I had accomplished
in Spain in safety, and for which I thanked the Lord. His reply

Your reply to the Trinitarian Society, for I suppose that it was
written by you, afforded me the highest satisfaction. I admired
its tone and spirit, and said at the time that a more convincing
piece of reasoning had never been penned on any subject. The case
of Luther and the early Reformers, who were converted from the
errors of Popery by the perusal of the Vulgate, the book of the
Popish Church, is certainly exceedingly strong; as it at once does
away with any argument which may be raised against the propriety of
circulating versions made from it. Perhaps it would have been as
well to add that the Lollards' Bible, the book which converted
England, was a literal translation from the Vulgate and not from
the original tongues, which, as is well knows, Wickliffe did not
understand. Those who decry the Vulgate should please to remember
that, though adopted by the Popish Church, its foundation was laid
before Popery existed, and that before criticising a book it is
desirable to have read it. There are faults in the Vulgate, indeed
far too many; but I believe them to be more the result of infirmity
than malice, all the heavy and strong texts most dangerous to the
Papal system appearing in it uncurtailed and unmodified. No people
dread the Vulgate more than the Papists themselves, which they know

I now beg leave to send you an extract of a letter which I received
yesterday morning from Madrid. It is from my landlady, who is my
agent there, and I consider it to be my duty to communicate it to
the Society, as I consider that it speaks volumes as to the state
of affairs in the capital and the spirit of enquiry abroad; at the
same time I presume not to offer any comment upon it. The rest of
the letter treats of indifferent matters.

'The binder has brought me eight Bibles, which he has contrived to
make up out of THE SHEETS GNAWN BY THE RATS, and which would have
been necessary even had they amounted to eight thousand (Y ERA
NECESARIO SE PUVIERAN VUELTO 8000), (7) because the people are
innumerable who come to seek more. Don Santiago has been here with
some friends, who insisted upon having a part of them. The
Aragonese gentleman has likewise been, he who came before your
departure and bespoke twenty-four. He now wants twenty-five. I
begged them to take Testaments, but they would not.'

We go on selling Testaments at Seville in a quiet satisfactory
manner. We have just commenced offering the book to the poor.
That most remarkable individual, Johannes Chrysostom, the Greek
bricklayer, being the agent whom we employ. I confess that we
might sell more than we at present do, were we to press the matter;
but we are cautious, and moreover our stock of Testaments is waning
apace. Two or three ladies of my acquaintance occasionally dispose
of some amongst their friends, but they say that they experience
some difficulty, the cry for Bibles being great. Dionysius also
tells me that for every Testament which he sells he could dispose
of with ease fifty Bibles. Within a few weeks I propose to cross
the water to Ceuta and Tangiers with part of the books at present
in embargo at San Lucar. I shall take the liberty of giving you a
full and minute description of the state of those places, the first
of which has, I believe, never been visited by any one bearing the
Gospel. When I consider the immensity of what remains to be done,
even in this inconsiderable portion of the globe, before wretched
mortals can be brought to any sense of their lost and fallen state,
I invariably lose all hope of anything efficient being accomplished
by human means, unless it shall please the Almighty to make of
straws and rushes weapons capable of cleaving the adamantine armour
of superstition and unbelief.

It is eight o'clock at night, and Johannes Chrysostom has I just
arrived from his labour. I have not spoken to him; but I hear him
below in the courtyard detailing to Antonio the progress he has
made in the last two days. He speaks barbarous Greek, plentifully
interlarded with Spanish words; but I gather from his discourse
that he has already sold twelve Testaments among his fellow-
labourers. I hear copper coin falling on the stones and Antonio,
who is not of a very Christian temper, reproving him for not having
brought the proceeds of the sale in silver. He now asks for
fifteen [Testaments] more, as he says the demand is becoming great,
and that he shall have no difficulty in disposing of them in the
course of the morrow whilst pursuing his occupations. Antonio goes
to fetch them, and he now stands alone by the little marble
fountain, singing a wild song, which I believe to be a hymn of his
beloved Greek Church. Behold one of the helpers which the Lord has
sent me in my Gospel labours on the shores of the Guadalquivir.

Should you wish to transmit to me any part of the Report, I should
conceive that you had best direct it to the care of Mr. Brackenbury
at Cadiz, on whom I propose to call on my way to Ceuta, etc. As
for Cadiz itself, I have no intention of attempting to do any thing
there, at least for the present. After a great deal of gloomy and
unsettled weather the genuine Andalusian summer has come upon us at
last. The brilliancy of the sun and the azure of the heavens are
perfectly indescribable. The people here complain sadly of the
heat, but as for myself, I luxuriate in it, like the butterflies
which hover about the MACETAS, or flowerpots, in the court. Hoping
that you will present my remembrances to Mrs. Brandram, and
likewise to all other dear friends, I remain Revd. and dear Sir,
yours truly,


LETTER: 18th July, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 5, 1839)
18TH JULY 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - As I am about to leave Seville in a few days
for San Lucar, Tangiers, and Ceuta, I wish before setting out to
send a word or two in order that you may be acquainted with the
state of matters up to the present moment. Our work is concluded
here for the season, and for the very efficient reason that I have
no more Testaments to sell, somewhat more than two hundred having
been circulated since my arrival. A poor Genoese, the waiter at a
Swiss ordinary, has just been with me requesting a dozen, which he
says have been bespoken by people who frequent the house, but I
have been obliged to send him away, it not being in my power to
supply him. About ten days since I was visited by various
ALGUACILS, headed by the ALCALDE DEL BARRIO, or headborough, who
made a small seizure of Testaments and Gypsy Gospels which happened
to be lying about. This visit was far from being disagreeable to
me, as I considered it to be a very satisfactory proof of the
effect of our exertions in Seville. I cannot help here relating to
you an anecdote. A day or two subsequent, having occasion to call
at the house of the headborough to complain of an act of dishonesty
which had been committed by my porters, I found him lying on his
bed, for it was the hour of the SIESTA, reading intently one of the
very Testaments which he had taken away - all of which, if he had
obeyed his orders, he would have deposited in the office of the
Civil Governor. So intently indeed was he engaged in his reading
that he did not at first observe my entrance; when he did, however,
he sprang up in great confusion, and locked the book up in his
cabinet; whereupon I smiled and told him to be under no alarm, as I
was glad to see him so usefully employed. Recovering himself he
said that he had read the book nearly through, and that he had
found no harm in it, but on the contrary everything to praise,
adding that he believed that the clergy must be possessed with
devils (ENDEMONIADOS) to persecute it in the manner which they did.

It was Sunday when the seizure was made, and I happened to be
reading the Liturgy. One of the ALGUACILS when going away made an
observation respecting the very different manner in which the
Protestants and Catholics keep the Sabbath, the former being in
their houses reading good books, and the latter abroad in the bull
ring, seeing the wild bulls tearing out the gory bowels of the poor
horses. The bull amphitheatre at Seville is, as you perhaps may
have heard, the finest in all Spain, and is invariably on a Sunday,
the only day in which it is open, filled with applauding

I am happy to be able to say that the soil of Spain is now
tolerably well broken up, and to a certain degree prepared for the
labours of any future missionaries bearing the blessed Bible, who
may visit this interesting part of the world. We have had
considerable difficulty hitherto in circulating Testaments, and we
have merely been enabled to scatter about the thousands, which are
now being read, by very extraordinary exertions. Nevertheless when
I take a large view of the subject I feel inclined to believe that
we were right in commencing our labours in the interior of Spain by
printing an edition of the New Testament at Madrid. I much doubt
whether the astonishing demand for the Bible, which almost
compelled me to leave the capital, and which now shows itself at
Seville and other places, for example, Burgos, Valladolid, and
Saint James of Galicia, to the great mortification of the Popish
clergy, would have arisen but for the appearance of the New
Testament which awaked in people's minds the desire of possessing
the entire Scripture. With great humility, however, I feel
disposed to advise that provided at any future time the Society
should think itself called upon to recommence its exertions here in
the cause of a crucified Saviour, it employ, as its mighty
instrument the Bible, the entire blessed Bible; having nevertheless
always ready for distribution a certain quantity of Testaments, the
wishes of weak human beings being influenced by such strange causes
that it is probable that were it known at Madrid, or in other
places, that there was a dearth of Testaments, the demand for the
same would instantly become greater than for the entire Bible.

A few days since I received a communication from my correspondent
at Saint James at Galicia, old Rey Romero, whom I have mentioned on
a former occasion when residing there. The good old man has sent
me in his account, by which it appears that 115 copies of the New
Testament were sold at Saint James between the months of August
1837 and May 1838, at which time the further sale of the work was
forbidden, and 35 copies, which remained unsold, placed in embargo.
The balance of the account in our favour is 950 REALS after
deducting all expenses. I shall preserve this letter with care, as
I attach some importance to it. Who has not heard of Saint James
of Compostella, the temple of the great image of the patron of
Spain, and the most favourite resort in the world of benighted
Popish pilgrims? Nevertheless 115 copies of the pure unadulterated
Word of God were purchased there in a few months at the high price
of ten REALS each. I humbly beg leave to refer you to my account
of that remarkable place, and to hope that in the statement of
proceedings in Spain it will not be forgotten. 64 copies, it
appears, were also sold in the small town of Lugo, also in Galicia,
and 56 at Leon, the capital of the ancient kingdom of the same
name, and which perhaps may be considered as the least enlightened
and most fanatic place in all Spain.

By advice from Madrid from Mrs. Maria Diaz, whom I charged with the
care of the property of the Bible Society in that place, it appears
that there remain unsold:-

Of Testaments, 962
Of Gospels in the Gypsy tongue, 286
Of ditto in Basque, 394

The quantity of Testaments would not have been so large had I not
recovered before leaving Madrid upwards of two hundred, which had
been placed in embargo at Santander and subsequently removed to the
capital. On a rough account, therefore, I should say that about
three thousand have been sold during the last twelve months in the
interior of Spain, for which I give praise to God with the humility
and gratitude due. Of those which remain I should wish to be
permitted on my return from my present expedition to circulate some
in La Mancha, especially at Manzanares and Valdepenas. The state
of that province is truly horrible; it appears peopled partly with
spectres and partly with demons. There is famine, and such famine;
there is assassination, and such unnatural assassination. There
you see soldiers and robbers, ghastly lepers and horrible and
uncouth maimed and blind, exhibiting their terrible nakedness in
the sun. I was prevented last year in carrying the Gospel amongst
them. May I be more successful this.

I now beg leave to conclude my tedious letter with requesting that
you will be kind enough to send the enclosed communication to my
friend in Russia. I hope you will pardon the trouble I am giving
you, but I have no other resource, as there is no direct mode of
communication between Russia and Spain. Present my kind
remembrances to dear Mr. Jowett and other friends, and believe me
to remain, Revd. and dear Sir,

Ever truly yours,

G. B.

LETTER: 4th September, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Oct. 7, 1839)

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I have now been nearly one month in this
place, and should certainly have written to you before had I
possessed any secure means of despatching a letter; but there is no
mail from Tangiers to any part of the world, so that when writing
one is obliged to have recourse to the disagreeable necessity of
confiding letters to individuals who chance to be going to
Gibraltar to be put into the post there, who not unfrequently lose
or forget them. One which I wrote for Spain has already
miscarried, which circumstance makes me cautious. I will now
relate the leading events which have occurred to me since my
departure from Seville, observing however that I have kept a
regular journal, which on the first opportunity I shall transmit
for the satisfaction of my friends at home. You are already aware
that I had determined to carry the Scripture in Spanish to the
Christian families established on the sea-coast of Barbary, and
more especially Tangiers, the Spanish language being in general use
among them, whether Spaniards by birth or Genoese, French or
English. To enable me to do this, having no copies of the sacred
volume at Seville, I determined to avail myself of a certain number
of Testaments in embargo at the custom-house of San Lucar a town at
the mouth of the Guadalquivir, forming part of the stock seized by
order of the Government and which I had been officially requested
to remove from Spain. I started from Seville on the night of the
31st of July in one of the steamers which ply upon the
Guadalquivir, arriving at San Lucar early in the morning. I shall
now make an extract from my journal, relative to the Testaments.

'It will be as well here to curtail what relates to these books,
otherwise the narrative might be considerably embarrassed. They
consisted of a chest of Testaments in Spanish, and a small box of
Saint Luke's Gospel in the Gitano or language of the Spanish
Gypsies. I obtained them from the custom-house of San Lucar with a
pass for that of Cadiz. At Cadiz I was occupied two days, and also
a person whom I employed, in going through all the required
formalities and in procuring the necessary papers. The expense was
great, as money was demanded at every step I took, though I was
simply complying with the orders of the Spanish Government in
removing prohibited books from Spain. The farce did not end till
after my arrival at Gibraltar, where I paid the Spanish consul a
dollar for certifying on the back of the pass that the books had
arrived, which pass I was obliged to send back to Cadiz. It is
true that he never saw the books nor enquired about them; but he
received the money, for which alone he seemed to be anxious.

'Whilst at the custom-house of San Lucar, I was asked one or two
questions respecting the books contained in the chests; this
afforded me some opportunity of speaking of the New Testament and
the Bible Society. What I said excited attention, and presently
all the officers and dependents of the house, great and small, were
gathered around me, from the governor to the porter. As it was
necessary to open the boxes to inspect their contents, we all
proceeded to the courtyard where, holding a Testament in my hand, I
recommenced my discourse. I scarcely know what I said, for I was
much agitated and hurried away by my feelings, when I bethought me
of the manner in which the Word of God was persecuted in the
unhappy kingdom of Spain. My words however evidently made
impression, and to my astonishment every person present pressed me
for a copy. I sold several within the walls of the custom-house.
The object, however, of most attention was the Gypsy Gospel, which
was minutely examined amidst smiles and exclamations of surprise,
some individual every now and then crying 'COSAS DE LOS INGLESES.'
A bystander asked me whether I could speak the Gitano language. I
replied that I could not only speak it but write it, and instantly
made a speech of about five minutes in the Gypsy tongue, which I
had no sooner concluded than all clapped their hands, and
simultaneously shouted, 'COSAS DE LOS INGLESES! COSAS DE LOS
INGLESES!' I disposed of several Gypsy Gospels likewise, and
having now settled the business which brought me to the custom-
house, I saluted my new friends and departed with my books.

'I strolled from the inn to view the town. It was past noon, and
the heat was exceedingly fierce . . . I became tired of gazing, and
was retracing my steps, when I was accosted by two Gypsies, men who
by some means had heard of my arrival. We exchanged some words in
Gitano, but they appeared to be very ignorant of the language, and
utterly unable to maintain a conversation in it. They were
clamorous for a GABICOTE, or book, in Gypsy. I refused it them,
saying that they could turn it to no profitable account; and
learning that they could read, promised them each a Testament in
Spanish. This offer, however, they refused with disdain, saying
that they cared for nothing written in the language of the BUSNE or
Gentiles. They then persisted in their demand, to which I at last
yielded, being unable to resist their importunity; whereupon they
accompanied me to the inn, and received what they so ardently

I arrived at Cadiz on the second day of August, when I waited upon
Mr. Brackenbury, the British consul-general. His house, which is
the corner one at the entrance of the ALAMEDA or public walk,
enjoys a noble prospect of the bay, and is very large and
magnificent. I had of course long been acquainted with Mr. B. by
reputation. I knew that for many years he bad filled with
advantage to his native country and with honour to himself the
distinguished and highly responsible situation which he holds in
Spain. I knew likewise that he was a good and pious Christian, and
moreover the firm and enlightened friend of the Bible Society. Of
all this I was aware; but I had never enjoyed the advantage of
being personally acquainted with him. I saw him now indeed for the
first time. I was much struck with his appearance; there is much
dignity in his countenance, which is, however, softened by an
expression of good humour truly captivating and engaging. His
manner is frank and affable in the extreme. I am not going to
enter into minute details of our interview, which was a very
interesting one to myself. He knew already the leading parts of my
history since my arrival in Spain, and made several comments
thereon which displayed his intimate knowledge of the situation of
Spain, as regards ecclesiastical matters, and the state of opinion
respecting religious innovation. I was flattered to find that his
ideas in many points accorded with my own, and we were both
decidedly of opinion that, notwithstanding the great persecution
and outcry which had lately been raised against the Gospel, the
battle was by no means lost in Spain, and that we might yet hope to
see the holy cause triumph.

During my stay at Cadiz I experienced every kind of hospitality
from Mr. B. and his charming family. Upon my departure he supplied
me with a letter of introduction to Mr. Hay, the British consul at
Tangiers, which I have since learned was most flattering to myself
and worded in the most energetic manner. I quitted Cadiz on the
morning of Sunday, the 4th August, in the steamer BALEAR, arriving
at Gibraltar on the evening of the same day. Nothing particular
occurred to me during my stay at Gibraltar, where I engaged my
passage on board a small trading vessel for Tangiers. We were
detained by various causes until Thursday the 8th, when we sailed
about noon, and assisted by a strong and favourable wind we reached
the harbour of Tangiers before sunset. I was not permitted to go
on shore that night, my passport and bill of health having first to
be examined by the authorities. Early however on the following
morning, Mr. Hay, who had received Mr. Brackenbury's letters of
introduction, sent a Moorish soldier and his own servant to conduct
me to his house, where he received me in the kindest manner. He
bad already procured me a comfortable lodging in the house of a
Christian woman where I have remained ever since my arrival at
Tangiers, constantly receiving every species of attention and
civility from Ir. Hay.

Tangiers stands on the side of a rather steep hill which rises
above the sea. It is a walled town, and towards the water is
defended with batteries mounted with heavy cannon. The streets are
very numerous and intersect each other in all directions; they are
narrow and precipitous, and the houses low, small and mean. The
principal mosque, or JAMMA [DJMAH] is rather a handsome edifice,
and its tower, or SUMAH, which is built of bricks of various
colours, presents a picturesque appearance when viewed from the
sea: of its interior I can of course say little, as any Christian
who should venture to intrude would be instantly cast forth and
probably killed by the populace. About half way up the hill within
the town there is a small market-place called in the language of
the country SOC. It is surrounded with little shops or booths, in
which all kinds of dry fruits, such as dates, raisins, almonds, and
walnuts are exposed for sale, and also honey, soap, sugar, and such
other articles of grocery. These little shops are not in general
kept by Moors, but by people from the country of Suz, who speak a
different language from the Moors, and are of a different race,
being a branch of the Berber stem; they are the grocers of Barbary
and are, in comparison with the Moors, an honest, peaceable, and
industrious people. The castle of the Governor stands at the
northern extremity of Tangiers, on the top of a high eminence which
towers above the town; its outer walls embrace a very large portion
of ground, which is principally occupied by large edifices in the
greatest dilapidation and decay. The castle itself when I visited
it was undergoing repair, during the absence of the pasha who has
since returned. All its inlets and outlets and also the greatest
part of the apartments were choked up with ruins, rubbish, and
mortar. The courtyard however is very fine, and is adorned with a
fountain distilling limpid water, which is a rare spectacle in
Tangiers where water is not in abundance. At each end of this
court there is a hall of audience, highly magnificent in its way,
with a roof of rich fretted work in the old Moorish taste, such as
I have seen in the Alhambra of Granada, and in that truly fairy
palace the Alcazar of Seville.

Tangiers contains a population of about twenty thousand souls, of
which at least one-third are Jews: the Christian portion does not
amount to about two hundred and fifty individuals, including the
various consuls and their families. These latter gentlemen enjoy
considerable authority in the town, so much so that in all disputes
between Moors and Christians they alone are the judges, and their
decision is law; they are a very respectable body, being without
one exception exceedingly well-bred gentlemanly individuals, and
several of them, particularly Mr Hay, the British consul-general,
possessed of high literary attainments. They enjoy very large
salaries from their respective governments, varying from ten to
sixteen thousand dollars per annum, so that, as all the necessaries
and indeed many of the luxuries of life may be obtained at a very
cheap price at Tangiers, they live in a state of magnificence more
akin to that of petty kings than consuls in general. The most
perfect harmony exists amongst them, and if, at any time, any
little dispute occur between two or three of them, the rest
instantly interfere and arrange matters; and they are invariably
united to a man against the slightest infringement of their
privileges and immunities on the part of the Moorish Government,
and a slight or injury to one is instantly resented by all. The
duties of the greatest part of them are far from being onerous,
more especially as each is provided with a vice-consul, who is also
an exceedingly well-bred and very well-paid gentleman. They pass
the greatest part of their time in cultivating their delicious
gardens, which, surrounded by hedges of KSOB, which is a species of
gigantic reed, cover the hills in the vicinity of Tangiers. Their
houses, which are palace-looking buildings in the European taste
and which contrast strangely with the mean huts of the Moors, are
all surmounted by a flag-staff, which on gala days displays the
banner of its respective nation. It is curious then to gaze from
the castle hill on the town below; twelve banners are streaming in
the wind of the Levant, which blows here almost incessantly. One
is the bloody flag of the Moor, the natural master of the soil; but
the eleven are of foreigners and Nazarenes, and are emblems of
distant and different people. There floats the meteor banner of
England beside the dirty rags of Spain and Portugal. There the
pride of Naples, of Sardinia, and Sweden. There the angry
tricolor; and not far from it the most beautiful of all, the
Dannebrog of Denmark, a white cross gleaming consolingly amidst
blood and fire, as when first seen by Waldemar; neighbour to it the
Austrian; there the Orange; and yonder, far remote from all, like
the country, the stripes and stars of the United States. Tangiers,
with a Moorish and Jewish population, is not the city either of the
Moor or the Jew: it is that of the consuls.

Were it possible for any unprejudiced and rational being to doubt
for a moment that the religion of Mahomet is a false one and
uncalculated to promote the moral and political improvement of
mankind, a slight glance at this Mahometan country would be
sufficient to undeceive him. The Moors are the most fanatic of all
Mahometans, and consider the Turks, Persians, and other followers
of the Desert-Prophet, as seceders from the severe precepts of
their religion. What is their state? They are governed in their
towns and provinces by arbitrary despots called Pashas, who are
accountable to no person but the Emperor, whose authority they
frequently set at nought, and who is himself a despot of the most
terrible description. Their lives, properties, and families are
perfectly at the disposal of these men, who decapitate, imprison,
plunder, and violate as their inclination tempts them. In this
country it is every person's interest, however wealthy, to exhibit
an appearance of abject poverty; as the suspicion of wealth
instantly produces from the Sultan or Pasha a demand for some large
sum, which must be forthwith paid or decapitation or torture are
the severe alternatives. Here justice is indeed an empty name, the
most atrocious criminals escaping unpunished if able to offer a
bribe sufficient to tempt the cupidity of those whose duty it is to
administer it. Here money is sought after with insatiable avidity
by great and small, for its own sake, and not for what it will
produce. It is piled up in the treasury or is buried underground,
according to the situation in life of its possessors. In this land
there is neither public peace or individual security; no one
travels a league but at the extreme danger of his life, and war is
continually raging not against foreign enemies but amongst the
people themselves. The Sultan collects armies and marches against
this or that province, which is sure to be in a state of rebellion;
if successful, a thousand heads are borne before him on his return
in ghastly triumph on the lances of his warriors; and if
vanquished, his own not unfrequently blackens in the sun above the
gate of some town or village. Here truth and good faith are
utterly unknown, friendship exists not, nor kindly social
intercourse; here pleasure is sought in the practice of
abominations or in the chewing of noxious and intoxicating drugs;
here men make a pomp and a parade of their infamy; and the
cavalcade which escorts with jealous eye the wives and concubines
of the potentate on a march or journey is also charged with the
care of his ZAMMINS, the unfortunate youths who administer to his
fouler passions. Such is the moral, and the political state of
Morocco! Such are the fruits of a religion which is not that of
the Bible.

The state of the Jews in this country is in every respect pitiable.
It is one of great thraldom, yet is nevertheless far superior to
what it was previous to the accession of the present monarch Muley
Abd al Rahman to the throne; before that period they enjoyed
scarcely any of the rights of human beings, and were plundered,
beaten, and maimed by the Moslems at pleasure. As the Moors of
Barbary are the most fanatic amongst the Mahometans, so are the
Barbary Jews the most superstitious of their race, observing in the
strictest manner the precepts of the Talmud and the sages. A great
many singular ceremonies and usages are to be found amongst them
which are not observed by the Hebrews in any other part of the
world, more especially at their wedding festivals which are carried
on during a period of eleven days, during which the house which is
open to all comers exhibits a continual scene of dancing, feasting,
and revelry of every description. There is much at these marriages
which has served to remind me of those of the Gitanos of Spain at
which I have been frequently present, especially the riot and waste
practised; for like the Gitano, the Barbary Jew frequently spends
during the days of his wedding not only all that he is possessed
of, but becomes an embarrassed man for the rest of his life by the
sums which he is compelled to borrow in order not to incur the
opprobrium of appearing mean on so solemn an occasion. The books
current among them are the Bible with the commentaries of the
rabbins, parts of the Mischna, and the prayers for all the year;
likewise, but more rare, the Zohar, which all speak of with
unbounded veneration, though few pretend to understand it. I have
not unfrequently seen at their synagogues the Bible Society's
edition of the Psalms, and they appeared to prize it highly.

A market is held on every Thursday and Sunday morning beyond the
walls of Tangiers in a place called the SOC DE BARRA or outward
market-place. Thither repair the Moors from the country, bringing
with them corn, fruit and other articles, the productions of their
fields and gardens for the consumption of the town. It is my
delight to visit this spot which is on the side of a hill, and
sitting down on a stone to gaze. What a singular scene presents
itself to the view: a wild confusion of men and horses, of donkeys
and camels, of countenances of all hues, swarthy and black, livid
and pale, of turbans of all dyes, white, green and red, of Jewish
skull-caps with here and there an Andalusian hat, of haiks and
gaberdines, of arrogant Moors, indifferent Europeans and cringing
Hebrews, the latter walking barefooted in the place where the corn
is sold, which the Moor says is sacred and unfit to be pressed by
the sandals of the dog-Jew. What a hubbub of sounds: the
unearthly cry of the enormous camels and the neighing, braying, and
bleating of other quadrupeds, mingled with the discordant jabber of
various and strange tongues. I have been in many singular places
in the course of my existence, but certainly in none more so than
the SOC DE BARRA of Tangiers.

There is much Spanish spoken in this place, especially amongst the
Jews; it is also generally understood by the Europeans. The
prevalent language however is the Arabic, or rather a dialect of it
called by some Mograbbin. I was glad to find that I could make
myself very well understood with the Arabic of the East,
notwithstanding that it differs in many points from the Mograbbin,
or language of the West. One thing has particularly struck me;
namely that the wild people, who arrive from the far interior and
who perhaps have never before seen a European, invariably
understand me best, and frequently in conversation designate
objects with the same words as myself, which however are not
intelligible to the Moors of the coast. I am by this time
exceedingly well known at Tangiers, indeed I take the best means of
being so by entering into discourse with every person. I believe I
am liked by the Moors and am certainly treated with much respect by
the Jews amongst whom a report prevails that I am a Polish rabbi.
Shortly after my arrival I was visited by the most wealthy Jewish
merchant of Tangiers, who pressed me in the strongest manner to
take up my abode at his house, assuring me [that I should live] at
free cost, and be provided with all the comforts and luxuries which
could be procured.

I will now proceed to relate what has been accomplished in the
cause of the Gospel since my arrival at Tangiers. I will endeavour
to be as concise as possible, reserving some particulars until a
future occasion. For the first fortnight I accomplished nothing,
and indeed attempted nothing in the way of distribution, being
occupied in making myself acquainted with the place and studying
the character of its inhabitants. I occasionally spoke to the
Christians, who are principally Genoese and Spanish sailors and
their families, on the subject of religion, but with the greatest
caution, being unwilling to alarm the two or three friars who
reside in what is called the Spanish convent, who are the only
officiating Christian priests of the place, and who might have
warned their flock against the heretic intruder. I found, as I had
anticipated, great ignorance among these poor people respecting the
most important points of the religion which they profess, and the
Gospel of God they had never seen nor heard of. At the end of the
above-mentioned period I employed a Jewish youth to carry the
Testament to their houses and to offer it to them for sale. It is
with humble gratitude to the Lord that I am able to state that
considerable success crowned our efforts. The blessed Book is now
in the hands of most of the Christians of Tangiers, from the lowest
to the highest, from the fisherman to the consul. One dozen and a
half were carried to Tetuan on speculation, a town about six
leagues from hence; they will be offered to the Christians who
reside there. Other two dozen are on their way to distant
Mogadore. One individual, a tavern-keeper, has purchased
Testaments to the number of thirty, which he says he has no doubt
he can dispose of to the foreign sailors, who stop occasionally at
his house. You will be surprised to hear that several amongst the
Jews have purchased copies of the New Testament, with the intention
as they state of improving themselves in Spanish, but I believe
from curiosity. Whatever their motive be, let them but once read
this holy Book and I have no fear of their remaining enemies of the
Lamb whom their fathers crucified. I regret that only few can read
the Spanish language, their law forbidding them to read or write
any characters but the Hebrew. Had I the New Testament to offer
them in the latter tongue, I believe that I could dispose of
thousands of copies in Barbary. My work being completed here for
the present, I now hasten back to Seville; pray write to me
speedily directing to the usual place.

I remain, Revd and dear Sir,

Truly yours,


LETTER: 21st September, 1839

To the Rev. G. Browne
(ENDORSED: recd. Oct. 7, 1839)
CADIZ, SEPR. 21 [1839].

morning by a small coasting-vessel, after undergoing a quarantine
of four days at Tarifa. On calling at Mr. Brackenbury's I received
your kind communication of the 29th July, acquainting me with the
resolution of the Committee.

Had I been aware of that resolution before my departure for
Tangiers, I certainly should not have gone. My expedition,
however, was the result of much reflection. I wished to carry the
Gospel to the Christians of the Barbary shore who were much in want
of it; and I had one hundred and thirty Testaments at San Lucar
which I could only make available by exportation. The success
which it has pleased the Lord to yield me in my humble efforts at
distribution in Barbary will, I believe, prove the best criterion
as to the fitness of the enterprise.

I stated in my last communication to Mr. Brandram the plan which I
conceived to be the best for circulating that portion of the
edition of the New Testament which remains unsold at Madrid, and I
scarcely needed a stimulant in the execution of my duty. At
present however I know not what to do; I am sorrowful,
disappointed, and unstrung.

I wish to return to England as soon as possible; but I have books
and papers at Madrid which are of much importance to me and which I
cannot abandon. This perhaps alone prevents me embarking in the
next packet. I have moreover brought with me from Tangiers the
Jewish youth who so powerfully assisted me in that place in the
work of distribution. I had hoped to have made him of service in
Spain; he is virtuous and clever. My servant Antonio I was
compelled to send back to Madrid ere my departure from Seville on
account of his many irregularities.

I am almost tempted to ask whether some strange, some unaccountable
delusion does not exist. What should induce me to stay in Spain,
as you appear to suppose I intend? I may, however, have
misunderstood you. I wish to receive a fresh communication as soon
as possible either from yourself or Mr. Brandram; in the meantime I
shall go to Seville, to which place and to the usual number pray

I enclose the last letter which I received from the firm of O'Shea,
from which it will appear that I received [word missing] thirty of
the fifty pounds drawn for: the residue covers the expenses at
Madrid, of which I defray one-half, the books being deposited at my
lodgings. I shall shortly send in my account for the last four
months. Pray present my kind remembrances to Mrs. B. and believe
me to remain, Revd. and dear Sir,

Ever truly yours,

G. B.

P.S. - Best regards also to Messrs. Brandram and Jowett.

I have this moment received a letter from Seville, which was
awaiting my arrival at the post office. The British consul states
that the Bibles in embargo there are at the disposal of the
Society; this is the work of my friend Mr. Southern at Madrid, for
had he not exerted his powerful interest in the matter they were
lost, and could not even have been exported. To whom shall I send
them? To Gibraltar, or to England?

LETTER: 29th September, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram (Private)
(ENDORSED: recd. Octr. 14, 1839)
29TH SEPR. 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I beg leave to return you my best thanks for
your kind communication of the 27th Aug. which I found awaiting me
on my return from Tangiers, and for which I was already to a
certain degree prepared by my dear friend Mr. Browne's letter
directed to the care of Mr. Brackenbury at Cadiz. I shall act up
as soon as possible to the Committee's request, that I take
immediate measures for selling the remainder of our Bible stock in
Spain, or leaving it in safe custody. I will now tell you in a few
words the steps which it appears to me most advisable to take in
the present emergency.

I shall mount my horses and depart for La Mancha; where I shall
take up my abode for a few weeks in a town with which you are
already acquainted and where I believe I have friends, and to which
place I shall order a chest of Testaments to be despatched from
Madrid, on the receipt of which I shall endeavour with the
assistance of Hayim Ben Attar to put as many copies as possible
into circulation. I have always wished to do something in La
Mancha, which is in every respect the worst part of Spain. I
distinctly see that it must be now or never. God has granted me
success in many difficult enterprises: perhaps it will please Him
to favour me in this.

I shall then move upon Madrid, and arrange matters in that capital.
If I may be permitted here to offer my advice, I would strongly
recommend that four hundred copies of the New Testament be left
there in deposit, with those of Saint Luke in Gypsy and Basque
which remain unsold. Of the former Gospel, indeed, there are not
many, nearly one hundred copies having been circulated amongst the
Rommanees of Andalusia during my present visit. I then purpose to
make for France, passing through Saragossa, in which place, which
is large and populous, I hope to accomplish some good in the Lord's
cause. This is the outline of my plan, which I shall attempt to
put into execution without delay; though if any one could propose a
wiser, and better adapted to the present circumstances, I shall at
once relinquish it.

I have just received a communication from Mr. Brackenbury, in which
he has done me the honour to furnish me with a copy of a letter
which he has addressed to yourself and in which he has spoken of
me. The principal consolation of a person in misfortune is the
being able to say, 'In whatever I have done, I have had the glory
of God at heart'; and certainly next to this consolation is the
knowledge that his deeds and actions meet the approbation of the
good, the wise, and the distinguished. I wish not to recapitulate
what I have done, but I beg to be permitted to say that wherever I
have been I have endeavoured to elicit the kindly feelings of my
fellow-creatures, not for my own benefit but for the advancement of
the true doctrine. I found Mr. B. during my last visit in a state
of considerable agitation. He showed me a letter from Lord. P
[Palmerston], a circular as it appeared, in which the British
consuls and their assistants in Spain are strictly forbidden to
afford the slightest countenance to religious agents. What was the
cause of this last blow? Mr. B. says it was an ill-advised
application made to his Lordship to interfere with the Spanish
Government in behalf of a certain individual whose line of conduct
needs no comment. There are people in Spain who remember the time
when those very consuls received from a British Ambassador at
Madrid instructions of an exactly contrary character; but when dead
flies fall into the ointment of the apothecary, they cause it to
send forth an unpleasant savour.

I am very glad that I went to Tangiers, for many reasons. In the
first place, I was permitted to circulate many copies of God's Word
both amongst the Jews and the Christians, by the latter of whom it
was particularly wanted, their ignorance of the most vital points
of religion being truly horrible. In the second place, I acquired
a vast stock of information concerning Africa and the state of its
interior. One of my principal associates was a black slave, whose
country was only three days' journey from Timbuctoo, which place he
had frequently visited. The Soosi men also told me many of the
secrets of the land of wonders from which they come, and the rabbis
from Fez and Morocco were no less communicative. Moreover I
consider it a great advantage to have obtained the friendship of
Mr. Hay, who is a true British gentleman. I found him at first
reserved and distant, and I thought averse to countenance the
object of my mission. In a few days, however, his manner changed
surprisingly, and at my departure he begged me to communicate to
the Bible Society that at all times and seasons he should be happy
to receive its commands, and to render all the assistance in Fez
and Morocco which his official situation would permit him, should
the views of the Society at any future time be directed to those

Permit me, my dear Sir, to correct in your letter something which
savours of inaccuracy. You hint at the issues of the Scriptures in
Spain having been small. Now during the last year I have issued
three thousand Testaments and five hundred Bibles, which is
certainly no small circulation of the Word of God in such a
country. But pray inform me why the circulation has not been ten
times greater? Surely you are aware that among the many
peculiarities of my situation was this distressing one, namely,
that I was scarcely ever able to supply the people with the books
that they were in want of. They clamoured for Bibles, and I had
nothing but Testaments to offer them. Had I been possessed of
twenty thousand Bibles in the spring of the present year, I could
have disposed of them all without leaving Madrid; and they would
have found their way through all Spain. I beseech you always to
bear this fact in mind in your reports to the public, otherwise
that public will remain strangely in the dark respecting the spirit
of enquiry which is abroad in Spain.

You are quite right in supposing that I entertain a favourable
opinion of Mr. Wood. I know him to be a good husband and father,
and a man who fears the Lord: he is likewise possessed of
considerable ability; but I am entirely unacquainted with any plan
which be may have formed respecting printing the Scriptures in
Spain, or any memorial which he may have sent in to the Bible
Society on the subject, so that of course I cannot be expected to
express an opinion. It is my intention in a few days to depart
from hence on my expedition, so that should you be desirous of
writing to me, you had perhaps best address to Madrid.

When the Bible Society has no further occasion for my poor labours,
I hope it will do me justice to the world. I have been its
faithful and zealous servant. I shall on a future occasion take
the liberty of addressing you as a friend respecting my prospects.
I have the materials of a curious book of travels in Spain; I have
enough metrical translations from all languages, especially the
Celtic and Sclavonic, to fill a dozen volumes; and I have formed a
vocabulary of the Spanish Gypsy tongue, and also a collection of
the songs and poetry of the Gitanos with introductory essays.
Perhaps some of these literary labours might be turned to account.
I wish to obtain honourably and respectably the means of visiting
China, or particular parts of Africa. I call this letter private,
but communicate such parts of it as you think proper.


LETTER: 25th November, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Dec. 19, 1839)
PRISON OF SEVILLE, Novr. 25, 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I write these lines as you see from the
common prison of Seville, to which I was led yesterday, or rather
dragged, neither for murder nor robbery nor debt but simply for
having endeavoured to obtain a passport for Cordova, to which place
I was going with my Jewish servant, Hayim Ben Attar.

It is necessary for me here to give you some information respecting
my proceedings since I last wrote. I wished to distribute some
more Testaments in Seville before I left the country, and
accordingly procured a considerable number from Madrid. Everything
was accomplished with the utmost secrecy, and the blessed books
obtained considerable circulation. I likewise sent agents into the
country, and went myself in my accustomed manner. All went well,
the entire stock which had reached me was circulated, and I rested
from my labours for a little time; for indeed I had need of quiet,
being indisposed.

Some English people now came to Seville and distributed tracts in a
very unguarded manner, knowing nothing of the country or the
inhabitants. They were even so unwise as TO GIVE TRACTS INSTEAD OF
and requested my co-operation and advice, and likewise
introductions to people spiritually disposed amongst the Spaniards,
to all which requests I returned a decided negative. But I foresaw
all. In a day or two I was summoned before the GEFE POLITICO or,
as he was once called, CORREGIDOR of Seville, who I must say
treated me with the utmost politeness, and indeed respect; but at
the same time he informed me that he had (to use his own
expression) terrible orders from Madrid concerning me, if I should
be discovered in the act of distributing the Scriptures or any
writings of a religious tendency. He then taxed me with having
circulated both lately, especially tracts: whereupon I told him
that I had never distributed a tract since I had been in Spain, nor
had any intention of doing so. We had much conversation and parted
in kindness. I went away for a few days, though without intending
to do anything, and wrote to the firm of O'Shea for money, of which
I stood in need and which I received. I now determined to make for
La Mancha and to put my plan into execution, which I should have
done sooner had the roads been a little more secure. Yesterday I
sent my passport to be signed by the ALCALDE DEL BARRIO. This
fellow is the greatest ruffian in Seville, and I have on various
occasions been insulted by him; he pretends to be a liberal, but is
of no principle at all, and as I reside within his district he has
been employed by the Canons of the cathedral to vex and harass me
on every possible occasion. (By the way, the hatred which these
last people nourish against me amounts almost to frenzy, and
scarcely a day passes by in which they do not send in false
accusations against me to the GEFE POLITICO; they have even gone so
far as to induce people to perjure themselves by swearing that I
have sold or given them books, people whom I have never seen nor
heard of; and the same system was carried on whilst I was in
Africa, for they are so foolishly suspicious that they could not be
persuaded that I was out of Seville.) The above-mentioned ALCALDE
refused to sign the passport, though he was bound to do so, it
being quite in form, and insulted the messenger: whereupon I sent
the latter back with money to pay any fees lawful or unlawful which
might be demanded, as I wished to avoid noise and the necessity of
applying to the consul, Mr. Williams. But the fellow became only
more outrageous. I then went myself to demand an explanation and
was called all the vilest names contained in the Spanish GERMANIA
(Billingsgate), whereupon I told him that if he proceeded in this
manner I would make a complaint to the authorities through the
consul. He then said that if I did not instantly depart he would
drag me off to prison, and cause me to be knocked down if I made
the slightest resistance. I dared him repeatedly to do both, and
said that he was a disgrace to the Government which employed him
and to human nature. He called me a heretic. We were now in the
street and a mob was collected, whereupon I cried 'VIVA INGLATERRA,
Y VIVA LA CONSTITUCION.' The populace seemed disposed to side with
me, notwithstanding the exhortations of the monster to them that
they would knock down THE FOREIGNER, for he himself quailed before
me as I looked him in the eyes defying him. He at last ran to a
neighbouring guard-house, and requested the assistance of the
Nationals in conducting me to prison. I followed him and delivered
myself up at the first summons, and walked to the prison without
uttering a word: not so the ruffian, who continued his abuse until
we arrived at the gate. I was asked my name by the authorities of
the prison, which I refused to give unless in the presence of the
consul, and indeed to answer any questions. I was then ordered to
the PATIO or courtyard, where are kept the lowest thieves and
assassins of Seville, who having no money cannot pay for better
accommodation, and by whom I should have been stripped naked in a
moment as a matter of course, as they are all in a state of raging
hunger and utter destitution. I asked for a private cell, which I
was told I might have if I could pay for it. I stated my
willingness to pay anything which might be demanded, and was
conducted to an upper ward, consisting of several cells and a
corridor. Here I found six or seven prisoners who received me very
civilly, and instantly procured me paper and ink for the purpose of
writing to the consul. In less than an hour Mr. Williams arrived
and I told him my story, at which he wondered, as he well might,
and presently departed in order to demand redress of the
authorities. The next morning I was informed that the ruffian the
ALCALDE had upon his own authority entered my house and searched
for prohibited books, hoping, if he found any, to justify to a
certain degree his conduct to me. He found none, and is now quite
in my power, without a shadow of excuse - he having entered by
force the house of a foreigner, without authority, and not in the
presence of the consul of the nation. I have now been here four-
and-twenty hours, and am assured that my liberation will have been
effectuated before another day shall have passed over. My fellow-
prisoners have treated me with unbounded kindness and hospitality,
and I have never found myself amongst more quiet and well-behaved
men. Yet - what is their history? The handsome black-haired man
who is now looking over my shoulder is the celebrated thief
Palacio, the most expert housebreaker and dexterous swindler in
Spain - in a word, the modern Guzman Dalfarache. The brawny man
who sits by the BRASERO of charcoal is Salvador, the highwayman of
Ronda, who has committed a hundred murders. A fashionably dressed
man, short and slight in person, is walking about the room: he
wears immense whiskers and mustachios; he is one of that most
singular race the Jews of Spain; he is imprisoned for
counterfeiting money. He is an atheist, but like a true Jew the
name which he most hates is that of Christ. Yet he is so quiet and
civil, and they are all so quiet and civil, and it is that which
most horrifies me, for quietness and civility in them seem so

Novr. 26th. Since writing the above, I have been set at liberty.
I am going to Madrid in a few hours to demand redress, and to make
preparations for leaving Spain as soon as possible. There is
nothing more to be done here for the present in the cause of the
Gospel. I received your letter, which I read with great pleasure.
You are quite right in most of your observations, and especially in
one. That circular WAS uncalled for.

Ever yours,


LETTER: 24th December, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Jan. 3, 1840.)
DECR. 24, 1839,

REV. AND DEAR SIR, - The last letter which I wrote to you was from
Seville, and in that I gave you an account of what I had been doing
for some time previous and likewise of my imprisonment. I have now
been in Madrid nearly three weeks, and immediately after my arrival
I demanded redress of the Spanish Government for the various
outrages which I have recently been subjected to at Seville. Mr.
Aston, the British Minister, not having yet arrived at Madrid, I
presented my complaint through Mr. Jerningham the first secretary
of Legation, who has superseded Mr. Southern, the latter gentleman
having been appointed to Lisbon. Mr. Southern introduced me to Mr.
Jerningham, who received me with great kindness and took up my
cause very warmly. Whether I shall be able to obtain justice I
know not, for I have against me the Canons of Seville; and all the
arts of villainy which they are so accustomed to practise will of
course be used against me for the purpose of screening the ruffian
who is their instrument. An instance which I am about to give will
speak volumes as to this person's character. When I was in prison,
he forced his way into my house and searched it for Testaments, but
found none. When he was questioned by the vice-consul as to the
authority by which he made this search, he pulled out a paper
purporting to be the deposition of an old woman to the effect that
I had sold her a Testament some ten days before. This document was
a forgery. I had never seen the female in question, and during the
whole time that I have been in Andalusia I have never sold a book
of any description to any such person.

I have been, my dear Sir, fighting with wild beasts during the
greatest part of the time which has elapsed since I had last the
pleasure of seeing you. None but myself can have an idea of what I
have undergone and the difficulties which I have had to encounter;
but I wish not to dilate on that subject. Thanks be to the Most
High that my labours are now brought to a conclusion. The Madrid
edition of the New Testament has been distributed, with the
exception of a few hundred copies, which I have no wish should be
sold at present, for reasons stated on a prior occasion, and which
I shall endeavour to leave in safe custody. The fate of this
edition has been a singular one, by far the greatest part having
been dispersed among the peasantry of Spain and the remainder
amongst the very poor of the towns, the artisans of Madrid and
Seville, the water-carriers and porters. You will rarely find a
copy of this work in the houses of the wealthy and respectable, but
you will frequently light upon it in the huts of the labourers, in
the garrets or cellars of the penniless, and even in the hulks and
convict-garrisons (PRESIDIOS). I myself saw it in the prison of
Seville. As for the few copies of the entire Bible which I had at
my disposal, they have been distributed amongst the upper classes,
chiefly amongst the mercantile body, the members of which upon the
whole are by far the most intellectual and best educated of the
subjects of the Spanish monarchy.

I have thus cast my books upon the waters. It is for the Lord on
high to determine the quantity of good which they are to operate.
I have a humble hope however that they will be permitted to do
some. If the eyes of only a few of these unhappy people amongst
whom I am still sojourning be through them opened to one of the
damning errors of popery, I shall esteem myself amply remunerated
for all the pain, the anxiety, and I may almost say misery (for the
flesh is weak) which I have experienced in the work, even for that
- to me, the most heart-breaking of everything - the strange, the
disadvantageous light in which, I am aware, I must frequently have
appeared to those I most respect and love. My situation throughout
has been a most peculiar one, rocks and quicksands have surrounded
me on every side, and frequently I have been compelled to give
offence to my friends in order not to afford a triumph to the
enemies of God and His cause.

In your last kind communication, I think, you said that neither our
excellent friend Mr. B. [Brackenbury] nor myself appeared properly
to appreciate the worth of two other of our friends who had been
labouring in Spain. Permit me here to observe that we both
appreciate their sterling worth of character and piety; they are
both very extraordinary individuals, one particularly so, and the
zeal which both have displayed in a holy cause is quite above
praise. But it is necessary in order to accomplish much good in a
country situated as this is at present, that the greatest prudence
and foresight go hand in hand with zeal and piety. A corrupt
Government, influenced by an atrocious priesthood, has for the last
three years been on the look-out to take advantage of every rash
movement of the helpers in God's cause in Spain. It ought always
to be borne in mind that though nominally a constitutional country,
Spain is governed by despotism the more infamous and dangerous as
it decks itself in the garb of liberty. Whenever a native becomes
obnoxious to the Government, he is instantly seized and imprisoned,
though perhaps guilty of no crime which can be punished by law;
foreigners have by law particular privileges, but these privileges
are every day violated, and redress is seldom or never obtained;
which proves that the law is a dead letter.

I know perfectly well that it is no infraction of the LAW to print
or sell the Holy Scriptures, either with or without comment, in
Spain. What then? Is there not such a thing as A ROYAL ORDINANCE
to the effect that the Scriptures be seized wherever they are
found? True it is that ordinance is an unlawful one: but what
matters that, provided it be put into execution by the authorities
civil and military? Too many Englishmen who visit Spain imagine
that they carry their own highly favoured country at their back, a
country in which the law rules supreme; but let them once be
brought into collision with the Government, and they will soon
learn how little it avails them to have right on their side whilst
brute force is always at the call of their adversaries.

I have informed Mr. Jerningham that for some time past I have
relinquished distributing the Scriptures in Spain - which is the
truth. I therefore claim the privileges of a British subject and
the protection of my Government. I shall return to England as soon
as I can obtain some redress for this affair. It is then my
intention to attempt to obtain an interview with some of the
members of the House of Lords. I have important disclosures to
make respecting the system of persecution which still exists in
this country with respect to Protestants, who are not only debarred
the exercise of their religion but to whom the common privilege of
burial is denied: so much for the tolerance of Popery. Yet there
are journals of talent and learning in England who, observing that
British Protestants, alarmed at the progress which the Papal
doctrine is making in the British islands, are concerting measures
for their own defence, accuse them of raising once more the
SENSELESS BRAY AGAINST POPERY; as if every unprejudiced person was
not aware that Popery is an unrelenting fiend which never spares
when it has the power to crush - and that power I am afraid it will
soon possess in Britain, unless the poor down-trodden Protestants
stand back to back and combat the monster to the death. This is no
vain alarm, I assure you; therefore I beg that you will not smile.
Few people know more of the secrets of Popery than myself, or the
stand which she intends to take when time and place serve.
Therefore in conclusion let me entreat those of our friends who may
hear these lines read to be on their guard, to drop all petty
dissensions, and to comport themselves like brothers. Protestants
must no longer be disunited.

I will write again in a day or two.

May the Lord be with you, Revd. and dear Sir.


LETTER: 28th December, 1839

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Jan. 7, 1840)
28TH DEC. 1839.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - I lose not a moment in writing to you in
consequence of an article in one of the London papers (the COURIER,
I believe) which has just been shown me. It relates to my late
imprisonment at Seville, and contains part of a letter which I
showed to a friend and which indeed was a copy of that which I sent
to yourself. With respect to the letter I have little to observe,
save that I showed it to various individuals (who took copies) in
order that an incorrect account of the affair might not get abroad;
but I beg leave solemnly to assure you that I disavow and give no
countenance to any remarks or observations respecting it which may
find their way into print. I am not ashamed of the METHODISTS OF
CADIZ; their conduct in many respects does them honour, nor do I
accuse any one of fanaticism amongst our dear and worthy friends;
but I cannot answer for the tittle-tattle of Madrid. Far be it
from me to reflect upon any one: I am but too well aware of my own
multitudinous imperfections and follies. I am going instantly to
write to Mr. Rule, and I would also to our other friend did I but
know his address. Should you have an opportunity of communicating
with him, pray, pray say something on the subject, and present to
him my kind love. I hope sincerely no further notice will be taken
of this affair in the newspapers, but to attempt to correct their
errors would merely make bad worse. Pray excuse my agitation, but
I write in haste.

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


LETTER: 2nd January, 1840

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Jan. 13, 1840)
2 JANUARY 1840.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - To-morrow I depart in order to return to
Seville. I have laid a full account of the late outrageous assault
before the British Embassy, and a strong representation has been
made to the Spanish Government. I have now nothing further to
detain me in the Spanish capital, and I hope that within a very
short time I shall be able to bid adieu to the shores of Spain,
which I shall quit with as little regret as the tired labourer at
nightfall quits the filthy ditch in which he has been toiling
during the whole of a dreary day.

I should feel much obliged if you would write me a line or two,
directed to my usual address, No. 7 Plazuela de la Pila Seca,
Sevilla, with any little information respecting matters of serious
import, as I am almost entirely unacquainted with what has been
going on during the last six months, the public journals containing
little which has any interest for me. Is it possible that the
British Government is going to bombard the coast of China because
the Emperor of that country is not disposed to countenance opium
smuggling? I have frequently difficulty in believing my eyes when
I read of the proceedings of Christians and people high in
authority, whom it is of course my wish and duty to respect. Is it
wonderful that the Chinese cling to Buddh and refuse to confess the
Son of the Eternal, when they see the professors of the Christian
religion commit such acts of cruel violence and flagrant injustice?

I have drawn for twenty pounds, which will liquidate the expenses
of the journey from Seville and back again. I shall require no
more until my departure for England. In the meanwhile I am
preparing my accounts and various other papers. Pray present my
best remembrances to all my friends. If there be anything which I
can perform for any of them before I leave Spain, let them but
inform me and it shall be done.

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


LETTER: 18th March, 1840

To the Rev. A. Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. March 31st, 1840)
SEVILLE, MARCH 18, 1840.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - Last night I received a letter from my worthy
friend Mr. Brackenbury, in which he informed me that he had
received a communication from Mr. Jackson stating that since my
departure from Madrid the Society had heard nothing from me and
that it was anxious on my account. This intelligence astonished
me; as towards the end of January and beginning of February I wrote
two letters, one to yourself and the other to Mr. Hitchin. From
yourself I had expected an answer, and your silence made me very,
very unhappy. For upwards of five months I have not heard a word
from England, though during that period I have written twelve
letters, of which seven were to the Bible Society.

I did not return to England immediately after my departure from
Madrid, for several reasons. First, there was my affair with the
ALCALDE still pending; second, I wished to get my papers into some
order; third, I wished to effect a little more in the cause, though
not in the way of distribution as I had no books; moreover the
house in which I resided was paid for, and I was unwilling
altogether to lose the money; I likewise dreaded an English winter,
for I have lately been subjected to attacks, whether of gout or
rheumatism I know not, which I believe were brought on by sitting,
standing and sleeping in damp places during my wanderings in Spain.
The ALCALDE has lately been turned out of his situation, but I
believe more on account of his being a Carlist than for his
behaviour to me; that however, is of little consequence, as I have
long forgotten the affair. I have again been in trouble; and the
Government and clergy seem determined on persecuting me until I
leave Spain. I embark on the third of next month, and you will
probably see me by the sixteenth. I wish very much to spend the
remaining years of my life in the northern parts of China, as I
think I have a call to those regions, and shall endeavour by every
honourable means to effect my purpose. I have a work nearly in
readiness for publication, and two others in a state of
forwardness. The title of the first I take the liberty of sending
you on the other side. I hope yet to die in the cause of my

I have at present nothing further to say of importance.

I therefore remain, as usual, Revd. and dear Sir, most sincerely

G. B.

P.S. - What an admirable man and Christian is Mr. Brackenbury!

The title George Borrow wrote on the fly-leaf was...



(1) This animal cost the Society about two thousand REALS at
Madrid; I, however, sold him for three thousand at Corunna,
notwithstanding that he had suffered much from the hard labour
which he had been subjected to in our wanderings in Galicia, and
likewise from bad provender.

(2) I have since discovered that they were only despatched the day
before my arrival at Madrid.

(3) I think the sale is becoming brisker; this very day we have
sold eight.

(4) I wish much that I had the Old Testament apart, precisely in
the same form.

(5) Mr. Villiers has hitherto taken but 50 copies, which he has
distributed amongst his friends; his situation has been such
lately, that more could not be reasonably expected from him. Even
his is not a bed of roses.

(6) [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] as Antonio says.

(7) I send the original phrase which is remarkable, and in
remarkable Spanish.

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