Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

Scanned and proofed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society LETTER: February 10th, 1833 To the Rev. J. Jowett WILLOW LANE, ST. GILES, NORWICH, FEB. 10TH, 1833. REVD. AND DEAR SIR, – I have just received your communication, and notwithstanding it is Sunday morning, and the
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Letters of George Borrow to the British and Foreign Bible Society

LETTER: February 10th, 1833

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

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

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 18th March, 1833

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

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 9th June, 1833

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

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

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 3rd July, 1833

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

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

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


LETTER: 4th August, 1833

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 13, 1833)

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, – I arrived at Hamburg yesterday after a disagreeable passage of three days, in which I suffered much from sea-sickness, as did all the other passengers, who were a medley of Germans, Swedes, and Danes, I being the only Englishman on board, with the exception of the captain and crew. I landed about seven o’clock in the morning, and the sun, notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, shone so fiercely that it brought upon me a transient fit of delirium, which is scarcely to be wondered at, if my previous state of exhaustion be considered. You will readily conceive that my situation, under all its circumstances, was not a very enviable one; some people would perhaps call it a frightful one. I did not come however to the slightest harm, for the Lord took care of me through two of His instruments, Messrs. Weil and Valentin, highly respectable Jews of Copenhagen, who had been my fellow-passengers, and with whom I had in some degree ingratiated myself on board, in our intervals of ease, by conversing with them about the Talmud and the book Sohar. They conveyed me to the Konig von Engeland, an excellent hotel in the street called the Neuenwall, and sent for a physician, who caused me to take forty drops of laudanum and my head to be swathed in wet towels, and afterwards caused me to be put to bed, where I soon fell asleep, and awoke in the evening perfectly recovered and in the best spirits possible. This morning, Sunday, I called on the British Consul, Mr. H. Canning, to whom I had a letter of recommendation. He received me with great civility, and honoured me with an invitation to dine with him to-morrow, which I of course accepted. He is a highly intelligent man, and resembles strikingly in person his illustrious relative, the late George Canning. Since visiting him I have been to one of the five tall churches which tower up above the tall houses; I thought its interior very venerable and solemn, but the service seemed to be nothing more than a low- muttered chanting, from which it was impossible to derive much spiritual edification. There was no sermon, and not more than twenty persons were present, though the edifice would contain thousands conveniently. Hamburg is a huge place, and the eastern part of it is intersected by wide canals communicating with the Elbe, so that vessels find their way into most parts of the city; the bridges are consequently very numerous, and are mostly of wood. Some of the streets are planted with trees, which have a pretty appearance, though upon the whole it has certainly no claim to the appellation of a handsome town. But no observer can fail to be struck with the liveliness and bustle which reign in this emporium of continental Europe, worthy to be compared with Tyre of old or our own Liverpool. Another city adjoins it called Altona, the park of which and the environs are the favourite Sunday lounge of the Hamburgers. Altona is in Holstein, which belongs to the Danish Government. It is separated from the Hanseatic town merely by a small gateway, so that it may truly be said here that there is but one step from a republic to a monarchy. Little can be said in commendation of the moral state of this part of the world, for rope-dancers were displaying their agility in the park to-day, and the dancing-saloons, which I am informed are most infamous places, are open to the public this evening. England with all her faults has still some regard to decency, and will not tolerate such a shameless display of vice on so sacred a season, when a decent cheerfulness is the freest form in which the mind or countenance ought to invest themselves. I shall depart for Lubeck on the sixth (Tuesday), and shall probably be on the Baltic on my way to St. Petersburg on the eighth, which is the day notified for the departure the steamboat. My next letter, provided it pleases the Almighty to vouch-safe me a happy arrival, will be from the Russian capital; and with a fervent request that you will not forget me in your prayers, and that you will present my kind remembrances and best respects to Mr. Brandram, and also remember me to Mr. Hattersley and Mr. Tarn, I have the honour to remain, Revd. and dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,


LETTER: Undated

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

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

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 27th August, 1833

To the Rev. A. Brandram

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

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


LETTER: 20th January, 1834

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Here follow four upright lines in Manchu characters.]

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 4th February, 1834

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your most obedient and humble servant,


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

LETTER: 15th February, 1834

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 15th April, 1834

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

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

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

To Mr. Borrow.

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

Your very obedient servant,

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

LETTER: 28th April, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. May 26th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, April 28 (old style) 1834.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, – Being at length able to communicate some positive information respecting the price of the paper, which we are in need of, I lose no time in doing so. The day after I despatched my last epistle, which I hope you have received, I was favoured with a communication from the director of the Peterhof Fabrik or Manufactory, a gentleman who amongst other titles bears that of Councillor of State. He was kind enough to say that I should have the 50 reams of paper which remained, and which I before alluded to, at 75 roubles per ream; but that if any more were necessary, one hundred roubles per ream would be required, and not any reduction would be made. You may easily guess that I was somewhat startled at this piece of information, for upon making a calculation I found that one ream of paper would be little more than sufficient for two copies of the entire Mandchou New Testament. There are 480 sheets in a Russian ream, and I suppose that our book will consist of seven parts, each containing about the same number of sheets as the printed Mandchou Gospel of St. Matthew. Now that Gospel contains 31 sheets, and 31 multiplied by 7 amounts to 211 [SIC], which multiplied by 2 makes 422 sheets, leaving only a surplus of 58. Therefore the paper necessary for 1000 copies only would amount to about 450 reams, the price of which, after allowance had been made for the 50 reams at 75 roubles, would exceed 40,000 roubles. The next day I hired a calash, and spent the best part of a week in causing myself to be driven to all the places in the vicinity of Petersburg where paper is made. Knowing but too well that it is the general opinion of the people of this country that Englishmen are made of gold, and that it is only necessary to ask the most extravagant price for any article in order to obtain it, I told no person, to whom I applied, who I was, or of what country; and I believe I was supposed to be a German. In some places I had now the pleasure of hearing that I could have the paper at 60 roubles per ream. At last I came to a person whom, after having informed him that I was in need of a very great quantity, perhaps a thousand reams or more, I beat down from 50 to 40 roubles, from 40 to 35, and it is probable that I may be able to obtain a large quantity at 30. I must inform you that I also employed two agents, and we three going various ways have ascertained that the necessary paper may be procured for between 30 and 40 roubles per ream, paper of as good a quality – nay, better than that on which the Gospel of St. Matthew was printed, and that for which 100 roubles were demanded at Peterhof. It is therefore now time for the Committee to come to a decision respecting the number of copies to be printed, and I wish it to be borne in mind that the price of the paper per ream in some degree depends upon the quantity required. I do not think it possible to obtain any where paper of a similar quality at a less price than 30 or 35 roubles; for the specimens which I have obtained are very beautiful, and a work printed on such paper need not be ashamed to show its face amongst the most fastidious Tartars and Chinese. To print the Testament on common paper would certainly not be advisable, as in that case the probability is that notwithstanding the reverence of those singular people for written or printed characters, the sacred volume, if put into their hands, would be destroyed.

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

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


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

LETTER: 27th June, 1834

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

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

I remain, Sir, yours,


LETTER: Undated

To the Rev. J. Jowett

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

G. B.

LETTER: 1st October, 1834

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

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

I remain, my dear Sir, most truly yours,


To J. Tarn, Esq.,

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

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

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

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

Carry forward, 7 pounds, 6s, 0d

Brought forward 7 pounds, 6s, 0d

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total, 27 pounds, 7s, 6d

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

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

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

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


LETTER: 8th October, 1834

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. Nov. 10th, 1834)
ST. PETERSBURG, OCT. 8 [old style], 1834.

I HAVE just received your most kind epistle, the perusal of which has given me both pain and pleasure – pain that from unavoidable circumstances I have been unable to gratify eager expectation, and pleasure that any individual should have been considerate enough to foresee my situation and to make allowance for it. The nature of my occupations during the last two months and a half has been such as would have entirely unfitted me for correspondence, had I been aware that it was necessary, which, on my sacred word, I was not. Now, and only now, when by the blessing of God I have surmounted all my troubles and difficulties, I will tell, and were I not a Christian I should be proud to tell, what I have been engaged upon and accomplished during the last ten weeks. I have been working in the printing-office, as a common compositor, between ten and thirteen hours every day during that period; the result of this is that St. Matthew’s Gospel, printed from such a copy as I believe nothing was ever printed from before, has been brought out in the Mandchou language; two rude Esthonian peasants, who previously could barely compose with decency in a plain language which they spoke and were accustomed to, have received such instruction that with ease they can each compose at the rate of a sheet a day in the Mandchou, perhaps the most difficult language for composition in the whole world; considerable progress has also been made in St. Mark’s Gospel, and I will venture to promise, provided always the Almighty smiles upon the undertaking, that the entire work of which I have the superintendence will be published within eight months from the present time. Now, therefore, with the premise that I most unwillingly speak of myself and what I have done and suffered for some time past, all of which I wished to keep locked up in my own breast, I will give a regular and circumstantial account of my proceedings from the day when I received your letter, by which I was authorised by the Committee to bespeak paper, engage with a printer, and cause our type to be set in order.

My first care was to endeavour to make suitable arrangements for the obtaining of Chinese paper. Now those who reside in England, the most civilised and blessed of countries, where everything is to be obtained at a fair price, have not the slightest idea of the anxiety and difficulty which, in a country like this, harass the foreigner who has to disburse money not his own, if he wish that his employers be not shamefully and outrageously imposed upon. In my last epistle to you I stated that I had been asked 100 roubles per ream for such paper as we wanted. I likewise informed you that I believed that it was possible to procure it for 35 roubles, notwithstanding our Society had formerly paid 40 roubles for worse paper than the samples I was in possession of. Now I have always been of opinion than in the expending of money collected for sacred purposes, it behoves the agent to be extraordinarily circumspect and sparing. I therefore was determined, whatever trouble it might cost me, to procure for the Society unexceptionable paper at a yet more reasonable rate than 35 roubles. I was aware, that an acquaintance of mine, a young Dane, was particularly intimate with one of the first printers of this city, who is accustomed to purchase vast quantities of paper every month for his various publications. I gave this young gentleman a specimen of the paper I required, and desired him (he was under obligations to me) to enquire of his friend, AS IF FROM CURIOSITY, the least possible sum per ream at which the PRINTER HIMSELF (who from his immense demand for paper should necessarily obtain it cheaper than any one else) could expect to purchase the article in question. The answer I received within a day or two was 25 roubles. Upon hearing this I prevailed upon my acquaintance to endeavour to persuade his friend to bespeak the paper at 25 roubles, and to allow me, notwithstanding I was a perfect stranger, to have it at that price. All this was brought about. I was introduced to the printer, Mr. Pluchard, by the Dane, Mr. Hasfeldt, and between the former gentleman and myself a contract was made to the effect that by the end of October he should supply me with 450 reams of Chinese paper at 25 roubles per ream, the first delivery to be made on the 1st of August; for as my order was given at an advanced period of the year, when all the paper manufactories were at full work towards the executing of orders already received, it was but natural that I should verify the old apophthegm, ‘Last come, last served.’ As no orders are attended to in Russia unless money be advanced upon them, I deposited in the hands of Mr. Pluchard the sum of 2000 roubles, receiving his receipt for that amount.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

LETTER: 13th October, 1834

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remain, Reverend and dear Sir,

Your most humble and obliged servant,


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


Testifico –

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


LETTER: 15/27 December, 1834

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

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

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


LETTER: 1st February, 1835

To J. Tarn, Esq.

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

R. C.

5575 50

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

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

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

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

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

I remain, etc.,


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

LETTER: 20th February, 1835

To the Rev. J. Jowett
(ENDORSED: recd. March 23, 1835)
ST. PETERSBURG, FEBRY. 20 [old style], 1835.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, – I take advantage of the period of the Russian Carnival, during which all business is at a stand-still, to transmit to you some account of the manner in which I have been engaged, since the time when I last addressed myself to you. True it is, that I have not much to communicate; for the history of one day is that of a week, and a month; and when I state that the printing of the Mandchou New Testament is advancing rapidly to a conclusion, I shall have stated all I can of much importance; but as you and our excellent friends at home have a right to demand particulars, I will endeavour to be as particular as lies within my power.

About a month since I placed in the hands of Baron Schilling bound copies of the first four parts of the Testament, the Gospels; he having kindly promised to cause them to be conveyed to London by one of the couriers belonging to the Foreign Department, to which the Baron is attached. I have reason to believe, however, that you have not received them yet, as I have been informed that they remained in Petersburg some weeks after they had been deposited in the Foreign Office; but in this respect I am not culpable; and having no direct means of sending packets to London, I am glad to embrace any which may come in my way, especially those not attended with expense to the Society. In the mean time, I wish to inform you that I am at present occupied on the last sheets of the fifth volume of the Testament, namely, the Acts of the Apostles, in getting which through the press I have experienced much difficulty, partly from the illness of my compositors, and partly from the manner in which the translation was originally executed, which has rendered much modification highly necessary.

How I have been enabled to maintain terms of friendship and familiarity with Mr. Lipoftsoff, and yet fulfil the part which those who employ me expect me to fulfil, I am much at a loss to conjecture; and yet such is really the case. It is at all times dangerous to find fault with the style and composition of authors and translators, even when they come to your door to ask for your advice and assistance. You may easily conceive then, that my situation has been one of treble peril. Mr. L. is the Censor of his own work, and against the Censor’s fiat in Russia there is no appeal; he is moreover a gentleman whom the slightest contradiction never fails to incense to a most incredible degree; and being a strict member of the Greek Sclavonian Church, imagines that the revealed word and will of the Supreme are only to be found in the Sclavonian Scriptures, from which he made his Mandchou version. Yet whenever anything has displeased me in his translation, I have frankly told him my opinion; and in almost every instance (and the instances have been innumerable: for in translations of the sacred writings omissions and additions must ever be avoided) he has suffered himself to be persuaded to remodel what he originally concluded to be perfect, and which perhaps he still does. So that in what has been hitherto printed of the Testament, there is little, if any thing, with which any one but a professed caviller can find fault.

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

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

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

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