The Life of George Borrow
Herbert Jenkins

Part 4 out of 9

three months.

Remembering the advice of Isturitz, Borrow determined to entrust the
work to Borrego, including the binding. He was the Government
printer, and, furthermore, enjoyed the good opinion of Mr Villiers.
Having persuaded Borrego to reduce his price to 10 reals a sheet, he
placed the order. It was agreed that the work should be completed in
ten weeks from 20th January.

Each sheet was to be passed by Borrow. As a matter of fact he read
every word three times; but in order to insure absolute accuracy, he
engaged the services of Dr Usoz, "the first scholar in Spain," {192b}
who was to be responsible for the final revision, leaving the
question of the remuneration to the generosity of the Bible Society.
The result of all this care was that, according to Borrow the edition
exhibited scarcely one typographical error. {192c}

The question of systematic distribution had next to be considered.
After much musing and cogitation, Borrow came to the conclusion that
the only satisfactory method was for him to "ride forth from Madrid
into the wildest parts of Spain," where the word is most wanted and
where it seems next to an impossibility to introduce it, and this he
proposed to the Committee.

"I will take with me 1200 copies," he wrote, {193a} "which I will
engage to dispose of for little or much to the wild people of the
wild regions which I intend to visit; as for the rest of the edition,
it must be disposed of, if possible, in a different way--I may say
the usual way; part must be entrusted to booksellers, part to
colporteurs, and a depot must be established at Madrid. Such work is
every person's work, and to anyone may be confided the execution of
it; it is a mere affair of trade. What I wish to be employed in is
what, I am well aware, no other individual will undertake to do:
namely, to scatter the Word upon the mountains, amongst the valleys
and the inmost recesses of the worst and most dangerous parts of
Spain, where the people are more fierce, fanatic and, in a word,

In the same letter Borrow shows how thoroughly he understood his own
character when he wrote:

"I shall not feel at all surprised should it [the plan] be
disapproved of all-together; but I wish it to be understood that in
that event I could do nothing further than see the work through the
press, as I am confident that whatever ardour and zeal I at present
feel in the cause would desert me immediately, and that I should
neither be able nor willing to execute anything which might be
suggested. I wish to engage in nothing which would not allow me to
depend entirely on myself. It would be heart-breaking to me to
remain at Madrid expending the Society's money, with almost the
certainty of being informed eventually by the booksellers and their
correspondents that the work has no sale. In a word, to make sure
that some copies find their way among the people, I must be permitted
to carry them to the people myself."

He goes on to inform Mr Brandram that in anticipation of the
acquiescence of the Committee in his schemes, he has purchased, for
about 12 pounds, one of the smuggler's horses, which he has preferred
to a mule, on account of the expense of the popular hybrid, and also
because of its enormous appetite, to satisfy which two pecks of
barley and a proportionate amount of straw are required each twenty-
four hours, as the beast must be fed every four hours, day and night.
Thus the members of the Committee learned something about the ways of
the mule.

The response to this suggestion was a resolution passed by the Sub-
Committee for General Purposes, by which Borrow was permitted to
enter into correspondence with the principal booksellers and other
persons favourable to the dissemination of the Scriptures. In a
covering letter {194a} Mr Brandram very pertinently enquired, "Can
the people in these wilds read?" Whilst not wishing to put a final
negative to the proposal, the Secretary asked if there were no middle
course. Could Borrow not establish a depot at some principal place,
and from it make excursions occupying two or three days each,
"instead of devoting yourself wholly to the wild people."

Borrow assured Mr Brandram that he had misunderstood. The care of
"the wild people" was only to be incidental on his visits to towns
and villages to establish depots or agencies. "On my way," he wrote,
"I intended to visit the secret and secluded spots amongst the rugged
hills and mountains, and to talk to the people, after my manner, of
Christ." {194b}

It was on 3rd April that Borrow had received the letter from Earl
Street authorising him "to undertake the tour suggested . . . for the
purpose of circulating the Spanish New Testament in some of the
principal cities of Spain." He was requested to write as frequently
as possible, giving an account of his adventures. At the same time
Mr Brandram wrote: "You will perceive by the Resolution that nearly
all your requests are complied with. You have authority to go forth
with your horses, and may you have a prosperous journey . . . Pray
for wisdom to discern between presumptuousness and want of Faith.

The printing of the 5000 copies of the New Testament in Spanish was
completed early in April, but there was considerable delay over the
binding. The actual date of publication was 1st May. The work had
been well done, and was "allowed by people who have perused it, and
with no friendly feeling, to be one of the most correct works that
have ever issued from the press in Spain, and to be an exceedingly
favourable specimen of typography and paper." {195b}

In addition to the contrabandista's horse, Borrow had acquired "a
black Andalusian stallion of great size and strength, and capable of
performing a journey of a hundred leagues in a week's time." {195c}
In spite of his unbroken state, Borrow decided to purchase the
animal, relying upon "a cargo of bibles" to reduce him to obedience.
It was with this black Andalusian that he created a sensation by
riding about Madrid, "with a Russian skin for a saddle, and without
stirrups. Altogether making so conspicuous a figure that [the
Marques de] Santa Coloma hesitated, and it needed all his courage to
be seen riding with him. At this period Borrow spent a good deal of
money and lived very freely (i.e., luxuriously) in Spain. From the
point of view of the Marques, a Spanish Roman Catholic, Borrow was
excessively bigoted, and fond of attacking Roman Catholics and
Catholicism. He evidently, however, liked him as a companion; but he
says Borrow never, as far as he saw or could learn, spoke of religion
to his Gypsy friends, and that he soon noticed his difference of
attitude towards them. He was often going to the British Embassy,
and he thinks was considered a great bore there." {195d}

The unanimous advice of Borrow's friends, Protestant and Roman
Catholic, was "that for the present I should proceed with the utmost
caution, but without concealing the object of my mission." {196a} He
was to avoid offending people's prejudices and endeavour everywhere
to keep on good terms with the clergy, "at least one-third of whom
are known to be anxious for the dissemination of the Word of God,
though at the same time unwilling to separate themselves from the
discipline and ceremonials of Rome." {196b}

Thus equipped with sage counsel, Borrow was just about to start upon
his journey into the North, when he found it necessary to dismiss his
servant owing to misconduct. This caused delay. Through Mr O'Shea,
the banker, he got to know Antonio Buchini, the Greek of
Constantinople, who, of all the strange characters Borrow had met he
considered "the most surprising." {196c} Antonio's vices were
sufficiently obvious to discourage anyone from attempting to discover
his virtues. He loved change, quarrelled with everybody, masters,
mistresses, and fellow-servants. Borrow engaged him; but looked to
the future with misgiving. Antonio unquestionably had his bad
points; yet he was a treasure compared with the Spaniard whom he
succeeded. This man was much given to drink and was always engaged
in some quarrel. He drew his terrible knife, such as all Spaniards
carry, upon all who offended him. On one occasion Borrow saved from
his wrath a poor maid-servant who had incurred his ire by burning a
herring she was toasting for him. Antonio's virtues comprised an
unquestioned honesty and devotion, and on the whole he was a
desirable servant in a country where such virtues were extremely

It was not until 15th May that Borrow, accompanied by Antonio, was
able to get away from Madrid. A few days previously he had
contracted "a severe cold which terminated in a shrieking,
disagreeable cough." This, following on a fortnight's attack of
influenza, proved difficult to shake off. Finding himself scarcely
able to stand, he at length appealed to a barber-surgeon, who drew 16
oz. of blood, assuring his patient that on the following day he would
be well enough to start.

That same evening Mr Villiers sent round to Borrow's lodgings
informing him that he had decided to help him by every means in his
power. He announced his intention of purchasing a large number of
the Testaments, and despatching them to the various British Consuls
in Spain, with instructions "to employ all the means which their
official situation should afford them to circulate the books in
question, and to assure their being noticed." {197a} They were also
to render every assistance in their power to Borrow "as a friend of
Mr Villiers, and a person in the success of whose enterprise he
himself took the warmest interest." {197b} Mr Villiers' interest in
Borrow's mission seems to have led him into a diplomatic
indiscretion. Borrow himself confesses that he could scarcely
believe his ears. Although assured of the British Minister's
friendly attitude, he "could never expect that he would come forward
in so noble, and to say the least of it, considering his high
diplomatic situation, so bold and decided a manner." {197c} This act
of friendliness becomes a personal tribute to Borrow, when it is
remembered that at first Mr Villiers had been by no means well
disposed towards the Bible Society.

Before leaving Madrid, Borrow had circularised all the principal
booksellers, offering to supply the New Testament at fifteen reals a
copy, the actual cost price; but he was not sanguine as to the
result, for he found the Spaniard "short-sighted and . . . so utterly
unacquainted with the rudiments of business." {198a} Advertisements
had been inserted in all the principal newspapers stating that the
booksellers of Madrid were now in a position to supply the New
Testament in Spanish, unencumbered by obscuring notes and comments.
Borrow also provided for an advertisement to be inserted each week
during his absence, which he anticipated would be about five months.
After that he knew not what would happen--there was always China.


The prediction of the surgeon-barber was fulfilled; by the next
morning the fever and cough had considerably abated, although the
patient was still weak from loss of blood. This, however, did not
hinder him from mounting his black Andalusian, and starting upon his
initial journey of distribution. On arriving at Salamanca, his first
objective, he immediately sought out the principal bookseller and
placed with him copies of the New Testament. He also inserted an
advertisement in the local newspaper, stating that the volume was the
only guide to salvation; at the same time he called attention to the
great pecuniary sacrifices that the Bible Society was making in order
to proclaim Christ crucified. This advertisement he caused to be
struck off in considerable numbers as bills and posted in various
parts of the town, and he even went so far as to affix one to the
porch of the church. He also distributed them as he progressed
through the villages. {199a}

From Salamanca (10th June) Borrow journeyed to Valladolid, and from
thence to Leon, {200a} (a hotbed of Carlism), where the people were
ignorant and brutal and refused to the stranger a glass of water,
unless he were prepared to pay for it. At Leon he was seized by a
fever that prostrated him for a week. He also experienced marked
antagonism from the clergy, who threatened every direful consequence
to whosoever read or purchased "the accursed books" which he brought.
A more serious evidence of their displeasure was shown by the action
they commenced in the ecclesiastical court against the bookseller
whom Borrow had arranged with to act as agent for his Testaments.
The bookseller himself did not mend matters by fixing upon the doors
of the cathedral itself one of the advertisements that he had
received with the books.

When sufficiently recovered to travel, Borrow proceeded to Astorga,
which he reached with the utmost difficulty owing to bad roads and
the fierce heat.

"We were compelled to take up our abode," he writes, {200b} "in a
wretched hovel full of pigs' vermin and misery, and from this place I
write, for this morning I felt myself unable to proceed on my
journey, being exhausted with illness, fatigue and want of food, for
scarcely anything is to be obtained; but I return God thanks and
glory for being permitted to undergo these crosses and troubles for
His Word's sake. I would not exchange my present situation,
unenviable as some may think it, for a throne."

Thus Borrow wrote when burning with fever, after having just been
told to vacate his room at the posada, and having his luggage flung
into the yard to make room for the occupants of the "waggon" from
Madrid to Coruna.

From Astorga he proceeded by way of Puerto de Manzanal, Bembibre,
Cacabelos, Villafranca, Puerto de Fuencebadon and Nogales, "through
the wildest mountains and wildernesses" to Lugo.

Owing to the unsafety of the roads, it was customary for travellers
to attach themselves to the Grand Post, which was always guarded by
an escort. At Nogales Borrow joined the mail courier; but as a rule
he was too independent, too much in a hurry, and too indifferent to
danger to wait for such protection against the perils of the robber-
infested roads. He has given the following graphic account "of the
grand post from Madrid to Coruna, attended by a considerable escort,
and an immense number of travellers . . . We were soon mounted and in
the street, amidst a confused throng of men and quadrupeds. The
light of a couple of flambeaus, which were borne before the courier,
shone on the arms of several soldiers, seemingly drawn up on either
side of the road; the darkness, however, prevented me from
distinguishing objects very clearly. The courier himself was mounted
on a little shaggy pony; before and behind him were two immense
portmanteaus, or leather sacks, the ends of which nearly touched the
ground. For about a quarter of an hour there was much hubbub,
shouting, and trampling, at the end of which period the order was
given to proceed. Scarcely had we left the village when the
flambeaus were extinguished, and we were left in almost total
darkness. In this manner we proceeded for several hours, up hill and
down dale, but generally at a very slow pace. The soldiers who
escorted us from time to time sang patriotic songs . . . At last the
day began to break, and I found myself amidst a train of two or three
hundred people, some on foot, but the greater part mounted, either on
mules or the pony mares: I could not distinguish a single horse
except my own and Antonio's. A few soldiers were thinly scattered
along the road." {201a}

After about a week's stay at Lugo, Borrow again attached himself to
the Grand Post; but tiring of its slow and deliberate progress, he
decided to push on alone, and came very near to falling a prey to the
banditti. He was suddenly confronted by two of the fraternity, who
presented their carbines, "which they probably intended to discharge
into my body, but they took fright at the noise of Antonio's horse,
who was following a little way behind." {202a}

The night was spent at Betanzos, where the black Andalusian was
stricken with "a deep, hoarse cough." Remembering a prophetic remark
that had been made by a roadside acquaintance to the effect that "the
man must be mad who brings a horse to Galicia, and doubly so he who
brings an entero," Borrow, determined to have the animal bled, sent
for a farrier, meanwhile rubbing down his steed with a quart of anis
brandy. The farrier demanded an ounce of gold for the operation,
which decided Borrow to perform it himself. With a large fleam that
he possessed, he twice bled the Andalusian, to the astonishment of
the discomfited farrier, and saved its valuable life, also an ounce
of gold. Next day he and Antonio walked to Coruna, leading their

At Coruna were five hundred copies of the New Testament that had been
sent on from Madrid. So far Borrow had himself disposed of sixty-
five copies, irrespective of those sold at Lugo and other places by
means of the advertisement. These books were all sold at prices
ranging from 10 to 12 reals each. Borrow made a special point of
this, "to give a direct lie to the assertion" that the Bible Society,
having no vent for the Bibles and New Testaments it printed, was
forced either to give them away or sell them by auction, when they
were purchased as waste paper.

The condition of the roads at that period was so bad, on account of
robbers and Carlists, that it was forbidden to anyone to travel along
the thoroughfare leading to Santiago unless in company with the mail
courier and his escort of soldiers. Unfortunately for Borrow his
black Andalusian was not of a companionable disposition, and to bring
him near other horses was to invite a fierce contest. On the rare
occasions that he did travel with the Grand Post, Borrow was
frequently involved in difficulties on account of the entero's
unsociable nature; but as he was deeply attached to the noble beast,
he retained him and suffered dangers rather than give up the
companion of many an adventure.

Some idea may be obtained of the state of rural Spain in 1837, when
the highways teemed with "patriots" bent upon robbing friend and foe
alike and afterwards assassinating or mutilating their victims, from
a story that Borrow tells of how a viper-catcher, who was engaged in
pursuing his calling in the neighbourhood of Orense, fell into the
hands of these miscreants, who robbed and stripped him. They then
pinioned his hands behind him and drew over his head the mouth of the
bag containing the LIVING vipers, which they fastened round his neck
and listened with satisfaction to the poor wretch's cries. The
reptiles stung their victim to madness, and after having run raving
through several villages he eventually fell dead. {203a}

Making Coruna his headquarters, Borrow proceeded to Santiago,
"travelling with the courier or weekly post," and from thence to
Padron, Pontevedra, and Vigo. At Vigo he was apprehended as a spy,
but immediately released. It was whilst at Santiago that he repeated
an experiment he had previously made at Valladolid.

"I . . . sallied forth," he writes, {203b} "alone and on horseback,
and bent my course to a distant village; on my arrival, which took
place just after the siesta or afternoon's nap had concluded, I
proceeded . . . to the market place, where I spread a horse-cloth on
the ground, upon which I deposited my books. I then commenced crying
with a loud voice: 'Peasants, peasants, I bring you the Word of God
at a cheap price. I know you have but little money, but I bring it
you at whatever you can command, at four or three reals, according to
your means.' I thus went on till a crowd gathered round me, who
examined the books with attention, many of them reading aloud, but I
had not long to wait; . . . my cargo was disposed of almost
instantaneously, and I mounted my horse without a question being
asked me, and returned to my temporary abode lighter than I came."

Borrow did not repeat the experiment for fear of giving offence to
the clergy. The new means of distribution was to be used only as a
last resource.

Arriving at Padron on the return journey, Borrow found that he had
only one book left. He determined to send Antonio forward with the
horses to await him at Coruna, whilst he made an excursion to Cape

"It would be," he says, "difficult to assign any plausible reason for
the ardent desire which I entertained to visit this place; but I
remembered that last year I had escaped almost by a miracle from
shipwreck and death on the rocky sides of this extreme point of the
Old World, and I thought that to convey the Gospel to a place so wild
and remote might perhaps be considered an acceptable pilgrimage in
the eyes of my Maker." {204a}

Hiring a guide and a pony, he reached the Cape, after surmounting
tremendous difficulties, and on arrival he and his guide were
arrested as Carlist spies. {204b} In all probability he would have
been shot, such was the certainty of the Alcalde that he was a spy,
had not the professional hero of the place come forward and, after
having cross-examined him as to his knowledge of "knife" and "fork,"
the only two English words the Spaniard knew, pronounced him English,
and eventually conveyed him to the Alcalde of Convucion, who released
him. On the man who had saved him Borrow privately bestowed a
gratuity, and publicly the copy of the New Testament that had led to
the expedition. He then returned to Coruna, by his journey having
accomplished "what has long been one of the ardent wishes of my
heart. I have carried the Gospel to the extreme point of the Old
World." {205a}

The black Andalusian was totally unfitted for the long mountainous
journey into the Asturias that Borrow now planned to undertake, and
he decided to dispose of him. He was greatly attached to the
creature, notwithstanding his vicious habits and the difficulties
that arose out of them. Now the entero would be engaged in a deadly
struggle with some gloomy mule; again, by rushing among a crowd
outside a posada, he would do infinite damage and earn for his master
and himself an evil name. Borrow thus announces to the Bible Society
the sale of its property: "This animal cost the Society about 2000
reals at Madrid; I, however, sold him for 3000 at Coruna,
notwithstanding that he has suffered much from the hard labour which
he had been subjected to in our wanderings in Galicia, and likewise
from bad provender." {205b}

Borrow next set out upon an expedition to Orviedo in the Asturias,
{205c} then in daily expectation of being attacked by the Carlists.
It was at Orviedo that he received a striking tribute from a number
of Spanish gentlemen.

"A strange adventure has just occurred to me," he wrote. {205d} "I
am in the ancient town of Orviedo, in a very large, scantily
furnished and remote room of an ancient posada, formerly a palace of
the Counts of Santa Cruz, it is past ten at night and the rain is
descending in torrents. I ceased writing on hearing numerous
footsteps ascending the creeking stairs which lead to my apartment--
the door was flung open, and in walked nine men of tall stature,
marshalled by a little hunchbacked personage. They were all muffled
in the long cloaks of Spain, but I instantly knew by their demeanour
that they were caballeros, or gentlemen. They placed themselves in a
rank before the table where I was sitting; suddenly and
simultaneously they all flung back their cloaks, and I perceived that
every one bore a book in his hand, a book which I knew full well.
After a pause, which I was unable to break, for I sat lost in
astonishment and almost conceived myself to be visited by
apparitions, the hunchback advancing somewhat before the rest, said,
in soft silvery tones, 'Senor Cavalier, was it you who brought this
book to the Asturias?' I now supposed that they were the civil
authorities of the place come to take me into custody, and, rising
from my seat, I exclaimed: 'It certainly was I, and it is my glory
to have done so; the book is the New Testament of God; I wish it was
in my power to bring a million.' 'I heartily wish so too,' said the
little personage with a sigh; 'be under no apprehension, Sir
Cavalier, these gentlemen are my friends. We have just purchased
these books in the shop where you have placed them for sale, and have
taken the liberty of calling upon you in order to return you our
thanks for the treasure you have brought us. I hope you can furnish
us with the Old Testament also!' I replied that I was sorry to
inform him that at present it was entirely out of my power to comply
with his wish, as I had no Old Testaments in my possession, but I did
not despair of procuring some speedily from England. {206a} He then
asked me a great many questions concerning my Biblical travels in
Spain and my success, and the views entertained by the Society in
respect to Spain, adding that he hoped we should pay particular
attention to the Asturias, which he assured me was the best ground in
the Peninsula for our labour. After about half an hour's
conversation, he suddenly said in the English language, 'Good night,
Sir,' wrapped his cloak around him and walked out as he had come.
His companions, who had hitherto not uttered a word, all repeated,
'Good night, Sir,' and adjusting their cloaks followed him."

This anecdote greatly impressed the General Committee. Mr Brandram
wrote (15th November 1837): "We were all deeply interested with your
ten gentlemen of Orviedo. I have introduced them at several

Whilst at Orviedo, Borrow began to be very uneasy about the state of
affairs at the capital. "Madrid," he wrote, {207a} "is the depot of
our books, and I am apprehensive that in the revolutions and
disturbances which at present seem to threaten it, our whole stock
may perish. True it is that in order to reach Madrid I should have
to pass through the midst of the Carlist hordes, who would perhaps
slay or make me prisoner; but I am at present so much accustomed to
perilous adventure, and have hitherto experienced so many fortunate
escapes, that the dangers which infest the route would not deter me a
moment from venturing. But there is no certain intelligence, and
Madrid may be in safety or on the brink of falling."

Another factor that made him desirous of returning to the capital was
that, ever since leaving Coruna, he had been afflicted with a
dysentery and, later, with ophthalmia, which resulted from it, and he
was anxious to obtain proper medical advice. He determined, however,
first to carry out his project of visiting Santander, which he
reached by way of Villa Viciosa, Colunga, Riba de Sella, Llanes,
Colombres, San Vicente, Santillana. It was at Santander that he
encountered the unfortunate Flinter, {208a} as brave with his sword
as with his tongue.

Instructions had been given in a letter to Borrego to forward to
Santander two hundred copies of the New Testament; but, much to
Borrow's disappointment, he found that they had not arrived. He
thought that either they had fallen into the hands of the Carlists,
or his letter of instruction had miscarried: as a matter of fact
they did not leave Madrid until 30th October, the day before Borrow
arrived at the capital. Thus his journey was largely wasted. It
would be folly to remain at Santander, where, in spite of the
strictest economy, his expenses amounted to two pounds a day, whilst
a further supply of books was obtained. Accordingly he determined to
make for Madrid without further delay.

Purchasing a small horse, and notwithstanding that he was so ill as
scarcely to be able to support himself; indifferent to the fact that
the country between Santander and Madrid was overrun with Carlists,
whose affairs in Castile had not prospered; too dispirited to collect
his thoughts sufficiently to write to Mr Brandram, he set out,
accompanied by Antonio, "determined to trust, as usual, in the
Almighty and to venture." Physical ailments, however, did not in any
way cause him to forget why he had come to Santander, and before
leaving he made tentative arrangements with the booksellers of the
town as to what they should do in the event of his being able to send
them a supply of Testaments.

That journey of a hundred leagues was a nightmare. "Robberies,
murders, and all kinds of atrocity were perpetrated before, behind,
and on both sides" of them; but they passed through it all as if
travelling along an English highway. Even when met at the entrance
of the Black Pass by a man, his face covered with blood, who besought
him not to enter the pass, where he had just been robbed of all he
possessed, Borrow, without making reply, proceeded on his way. He
was too ill to weigh the risks, and Antonio followed cheerfully
wherever his master went. Madrid was reached on 31st October. {209a}
The next day Borrow wrote to Mr Brandram: "People say we have been
very lucky; Antonio says, 'It was so written'; but I say, Glory be to
the Lord for His mercies vouchsafed."

The expedition to the Northern Provinces had occupied five and a half
months. Every kind of fatigue had been experienced, dangers had been
faced, even courted, and every incident of the road turned to further
the end in view--the distribution of the Scriptures in Spain. The
countryside had proved itself ignorant and superstitious, and the
towns eager, not for the Word of God but "for stimulant narratives,
and amongst too many a lust for the deistical writings of the French,
especially for those of Talleyrand, which have been translated into
Spanish and published by the press of Barcelona, and for which I was
frequently pestered." {209b} Antonio had proved himself a unique
body-servant and companion, and if with a previous employer he had
valued his personal comfort so highly as to give notice because his
mistress's pet quail disturbed his slumbers, he was nevertheless
utterly indifferent to the hardships and discomforts that he endured
when with Borrow, and always proved cheerful and willing.

Borrow had "by private sale disposed of one hundred and sixteen
Testaments to individuals entirely of the lower classes, namely,
muleteers, carmen, contrabandistas, etc." {209c} He had dared to
undertake what perhaps only he was capable of carrying to a
successful issue; for, left alone to make his own plans and conduct
the campaign along his own lines, Borrow has probably never been
equalled as a missionary, strange though the term may seem when
applied to him. His fear of God did not hinder him from making other
men fear God's instrument, himself. His fine capacity for affairs,
together with what must have appeared to the clergy of the districts
through which he passed his outrageous daring, conspired to his
achieving what few other men would have thought, and probably none
were capable of undertaking. A missionary who rode a noble, black
Andalusian stallion, who could use a fleam as well as a blacksmith's
hammer, who could ride barebacked, and, above all, made men fear him
as a physical rather than a spiritual force, was new in Spain, as
indeed elsewhere. The very novelty of Borrow's methods, coupled with
the daring and unconventional independence of the man himself,
ensured the success of his mission. There was something of the
Camel-Driver of Mecca about his missionary work. He saw nothing
anomalous in being possessed of a strong arm as well as a Christian
spirit. He would endeavour to win over the ungodly; but woe betide
them if they should attempt to pit their strength against his.
Borrow's own comment upon his journey in the Northern Provinces was,
"Insignificant are the results of man's labours compared with the
swelling ideas of his presumption; something, however, had been
effected by the journey which I had just concluded." {210a}


Great changes had taken place in Madrid during Borrow's absence. The
Carlists had actually appeared before its gates, although they had
subsequently retired. Liberalism had been routed and a Moderado
Cabinet, under the leadership of Count Ofalia, ruled the city and
such part of the country as was sufficiently complaisant as to permit
itself to be ruled. As the Moderados represented the Court faction,
Borrow saw that he had little to expect from them. He was
unacquainted with any of the members of the Cabinet, and, what was
far more serious for him, the relations between the new Government
and Sir George Villiers {211a} were none too cordial, as the British
Minister had been by no means favourable to the new ministry.

Having written to Mr Brandram telling of his arrival in Madrid,
"begging pardon for all errors of commission and omission," and
confessing himself "a frail and foolish vessel," that had
"accomplished but a slight portion of what I proposed in my vanity,"
Borrow proceeded to disprove his own assertion. He found the affairs
of the Bible Society in a far from flourishing condition. The
Testaments had not sold to any considerable extent, for which "only
circumstances and the public poverty" were the cause, as Dr Usoz

To awaken interest in his campaign, Borrow planned to print a
thousand advertisements, which were to be posted in various parts of
the city, and to employ colporteurs to vend the books in the streets.
He despatched consignments of books to towns he had visited that
required them, and in the enthusiasm of his eager and active mind
foresaw that, "as the circle widens in the lake into which a
stripling has cast a pebble, so will the circle of our usefulness
continue widening, until it has embraced the whole vast region of
Spain." {212a}

It soon became evident that there was to be a very strong opposition.
A furious attack upon the Bible Society was made in a letter
addressed to the editors of El Espanol on 5th November, prefixed to a
circular of the Spiritual Governor of Valencia, forbidding the
purchase or reading of the London edition of Father Scio's Bible.
The letter described the Bible Society as "an infernal society," and
referred in passing to "its accursed fecundity." It also strongly
resented the omission of the Apocrypha from the Scio Bible. Borrow
promptly replied to this attack in a letter of great length, and
entirely silenced his antagonist, whom he described to Mr Brandram
(20th Nov.) as "an unprincipled benefice-hunting curate." "You will
doubtless deem it too warm and fiery," he writes, referring to his
reply, "but tameness and gentleness are of little avail when
surrounded by the vassal slaves of bloody Rome." {212a} Borrow's
response to the "benefice-hunting curate" not only silenced him, but
was listened to by the General Committee of the Society "with much

The cause of the trouble in Valencia lay with the other agent of the
Bible Society in Spain, Lieutenant James Newenham Graydon, R.N., who
first took up the work of distributing the Scriptures at Gibraltar in
1835. Here he became associated with the Rev. W. H. Rule, of the
Wesleyan Methodist Society. "The Lieutenant, who seems to have
combined the personal charm of the Irish gentleman with some of the
perfervid incautiousness of the Keltic temperament, finding himself
unemployed at Gibraltar, resolved to do what lay in his power for the
spiritual enlightenment of Spain. Without receiving a regular
commission from any society, he took up single-handed the task which
he had imposed upon himself." {213a}

Borrow had first met Lieutenant Graydon at Madrid, in the summer of
1836, where he saw him two or three times. When Graydon left, on
account of the heat, Borrow had removed to Graydon's lodgings as
being more comfortable than his own. The prohibition in Valencia was
directly due to the indiscretion and incaution of Graydon. The
Vicar-General of the province gave as a reason for his action, an
advertisement that had appeared in the Diario Comercial of Valencia,
undertaking to supply Bibles gratis to those who could not afford to
buy them. For this advertisement Graydon was admonished by the
General Committee, which refused to entertain his plea that, being
unpaid, he was not, strictly speaking, an agent of the Bible Society.
He was given to understand that as the Society was responsible for
his acts he must be guided by its views and wishes.

The next occasion on which Borrow came into conflict with this
impulsive missionary free-lance was in March 1838, when he heard from
the Rev. W. H. Rule that Graydon was on his way to Andalusia. Borrow
immediately wrote to Mr Brandram that he, acting on the advice of Sir
George Villiers, had already planned an expedition into that
province, and furthermore that he had despatched there a number of
Testaments. He explained to Mr Brandram that he was apprehensive "of
the re-acting at Seville of the Valencian Drama, which I have such
unfortunate cause to rue, as I am the victim on whom an aggravated
party have wreaked their vengeance, and for the very cogent reason
that I was within their reach." {213b} On this occasion Graydon was
instructed not to start upon his projected journey, although Mr
Brandram gave the order much against his own inclination. {214a}

One great difficulty that Borrow had to contend with was the apathy
of the Madrid booksellers, who "gave themselves no manner of trouble
to secure the sale, and even withheld [the] advertisements from the
public." {214b} This determined him to open a shop himself, and,
accordingly, towards the end of November, he secured premises in the
Calle del Principe, one of the main thoroughfares, for which he
agreed to pay a rent of eight reals a day. He furnished the premises
handsomely, with glass cases and chandeliers, and caused to be
painted in large yellow characters the sign "Despacho de la Sociedad
Biblica y Estrangera" (Depot of the Biblical and Foreign Society).
He engaged a Gallegan (Jose Calzado, whom he called Pepe) as
salesman, and on 27th November formally opened his new premises.
Customers soon presented themselves; but many were disappointed on
finding that they could not obtain the Bible. "I could have sold ten
times the amount of what I did," Borrow writes. "I MUST therefore be
furnished with Bibles instanter; send me therefore the London
edition, bad as it is, say 500 copies." {214c}

To facilitate the passing of these books through the customs, Borrow
suggested that they should be consigned to the British Consul at
Cadiz, who was friendly to the Society and "would have sufficient
influence to secure their admission into Spain. But the most
advisable way," he goes on to explain with great guile, "would be to
pack them in two chests, placing at the top Bibles in English and
other languages, for there is a demand, viz., 100 English, 100
French, 50 German, 50 Hebrew, 50 Greek, 10 Modern Greek, 10 Persian,
20 Arabic. PRAY DO NOT FAIL." {215a}

When Sir George Villiers first obtained from Isturitz permission for
Borrow to print and sell the New Testament in Spanish without notes,
he had cautioned him "to use the utmost circumspection, and in order
to pursue his vocation with success, to avoid offending popular
prejudices, which would not fail to be excited against a Protestant
and a Foreigner engaged in the propagation of the Gospel." {215b}
This warning the British Minister had repeated frequently since. It
was without consulting Sir George that Borrow opened his depot, and
"imprudently painted upon the window that it was the Depot of the
London (sic) Bible Society for the sale of Bibles. I told him," Sir
George writes "that such a measure would render the interference of
the Authorities inevitable, and so it turned out." {215c}

Borrow now lost the services of the faithful Antonio, who, on the
last day of the year, informed him that he had become unsettled and
dissatisfied with everything at his master's lodgings, including the
house, the furniture, and the landlady herself. Therefore he had
hired himself out to a count for four dollars a month less than he
was receiving from Borrow, because he was "fond of change, though it
be for the worse. Adieu, mon maitre," he said in parting; "may you
be as well served as you deserve. Should you chance, however, to
have any pressing need de mes soins, send for me without hesitation,
and I will at once give my new master warning." A few days later
Borrow engaged a Basque, named Francisco, who "to the strength of a
giant joined the disposition of a lamb," {216a} and who had been
strongly recommended to him.

On his return from a hurried visit to Toledo, Borrow found his
Despacho succeeding as well as could be expected. To call attention
to his premises he now took an extremely daring step. He caused to
be printed three thousand copies of an advertisement on paper yellow,
blue, and crimson, "with which I almost covered the sides of the
streets" he wrote, "and besides this inserted notices in all the
journals and periodicals, employing also a man, after the London
fashion, to parade the streets with a placard, to the astonishment of
the populace." {216b} The result of this move, Borrow declared, was
that every man, woman and child in Madrid became aware of the
existence of his Despacho, as well they might. In spite of this
commercial enterprise, the first month's trading showed a sale of
only between seventy and eighty New Testaments, and ten Bibles,
{216c} these having been secured from a Spanish bookseller who had
brought them secretly from Gibraltar, but who was afraid to sell them
himself. Mr Brandram's comment upon the letter from Borrow telling
of the posters was that its contents had "afforded us no little
merriment. The idea of your placards and placard-bearers in Madrid
is indeed a novel one. It cannot but be effectual in giving
publicity. I sincerely hope it may not be prejudicial." {216d}

When in England, at the end of 1836, Borrow had been authorised by
the Bible Society to find "a person competent to translate the
Scriptures in Basque." On 27th February 1837, he wrote telling Mr
Brandram that he had become "acquainted with a gentleman well versed
in that dialect, of which I myself have some knowledge." Dr Oteiza,
the domestic physician of the Marques de Salvatierra, was accordingly
commissioned to proceed with the work, for which, when completed, he
was paid the sum of "8 pounds and a few odd shillings." Borrow
reported to Mr Brandram (7th June 1837):

"I have examined it with much attention, and find it a very faithful
version. The only objection which can be brought against it is that
Spanish words are frequently used to express ideas for which there
are equivalents in Basque; but this language, as spoken at present in
Spain, is very corrupt, and a work written entirely in the Basque of
Larramendi's Dictionary would be intelligible to very few. I have
read passages from it to men of Guipuscoa, who assured me that they
had no difficulty in understanding it, and that it was written in the
colloquial style of the province."

Borrow had "obtained a slight acquaintance" with Basque when a youth,
which he lost no opportunity of extending by mingling with Biscayans
during his stay in the Peninsula. He also considerably improved
himself in the language by conversing with his Basque servant
Francisco. Borrow now decided to print the Gitano and Basque
versions of St Luke, which he accordingly put in hand; but as the
compositors were entirely ignorant of both languages, he had to
exercise the greatest care in reading the proofs.

During his stay in Spain he had found time to translate into the
dialect of the Spanish gypsies the greater part of the New Testament.
{217a} His method had been somewhat original. Believing that there
is "no individual, however wicked and hardened, who is utterly
GODLESS," {217b} he determined to apply his belief to the gypsies.
To enlist their interest in the work, he determined to allow them to
do the translating themselves. At one period of his residence in
Madrid he was regularly visited by two gypsy women, and these he
decided to make his translators; for he found the women far more
amenable than the men. In spite of the fact that he had already
translated into Gitano the New Testament, or the greater part of it,
he would read out to the women from the Spanish version and let them
translate it into Romany themselves, thus obtaining the correct gypsy
idiom. The women looked forward to these gatherings and also to "the
one small glass of Malaga" with which their host regaled them. They
had got as far as the eighth chapter before the meetings ended. What
was the moral effect of St Luke upon the minds of two gypsies?
Borrow confessed himself sceptical; first, because he was acquainted
with the gypsy character; second, because it came to his knowledge
that one of the women "committed a rather daring theft shortly
afterwards, which compelled her to conceal herself for a fortnight."
{218a} Borrow comforted himself with the reflection that "it is
quite possible, however, that she may remember the contents of those
chapters on her death-bed." {218b} The translation of the remaining
chapters was supplied from Borrow's own version begun at Badajos in

It is not strange that Borrow should be regarded with suspicion by
the Spaniards on account of his association with the Gitanos.
Sometimes there would be as many as seventeen gypsies gathered
together at his lodgings in the Calle de Santiago.

"The people in the street in which I lived," he writes, {218c}
"seeing such numbers of these strange females continually passing in
and out, were struck with astonishment, and demanded the reason. The
answers which they obtained by no means satisfied them. 'Zeal for
the conversion of souls--the souls too of Gitanas,--disparate! the
fellow is a scoundrel. Besides he is an Englishman, and is not
baptised; what cares he for souls? They visit him for other
purposes. He makes base ounces, which they carry away and circulate.
Madrid is already stocked with false money.' Others were of the
opinion that we met for the purposes of sorcery and abomination. The
Spaniard has no conception that other springs of action exist than
interest or villany."

Borrow was in reality endeavouring to convey to his "little
congregation," as he called them, some idea of abstract morality. He
was bold enough "to speak against their inveterate practices,
thieving and lying, telling fortunes," etc., and at first experienced
much opposition. About the result, he seems to have cherished no
illusions; still, he wrote a hymn in their dialect which he taught
his guests to sing.

For some time past it had been obvious to Borrow that he was becoming
more than ever unpopular with certain interested factions in Madrid,
who looked upon his missionary labours with angry disapproval. The
opening of his Despacho had caused a great sensation. "The Priests
and Bigots are teeming with malice and fury," he had written to Mr
Brandram, {219a} "which hitherto they have thought proper to exhibit
only in words, as they know that all I do here is favoured by Mr
Villiers {219b} (sic) . . . There is no attempt, however atrocious,
which may not be expected from such people, and were it right and
seemly for ME, the most insignificant of worms, to make such a
comparison, I would say that, like Paul at Ephesus, I am fighting
with wild beasts." He was attacked in print and endeavours were made
to incite the people against him as a sorcerer and companion of
gypsies and witches. When he decided upon the campaign of the
posters it would appear, at first glance, that in the claims of the
merchant Borrow had entirely forgotten the obligations of the
diplomatist. On the other hand, he may have foreseen that the
priestly party would soon force the Government to action, and was
desirous of selling all the books he could before this happened. His
own words seem to indicate that this was the case.

"People who know me not," he wrote to Mr Brandram, "nor are
acquainted with my situation, may be disposed to call me rash; but I
am far from being so, as I never adopt a venturous course when any
other is open to me; but I am not a person to be terrified by any
danger when I see that braving it is the only way to achieve an
object." {220a}

Whatever may have been Borrow's motives, the crisis arrived on 12th
January, when he received a peremptory order from the Civil Governor
of Madrid (who had previously sent for and received two copies, to
submit for examination to the Ecclesiastical Authorities) to sell no
more of the New Testament in Spanish without notes. At that period
the average sale was about twenty copies a day. "The priests have at
length 'swooped upon me,'" Borrow wrote to Mr Brandram, three days
later. The order did not, however, take him unawares.

Borrow saw that little assistance was to be expected from Sir George
Villiers, who, for obvious reasons, was not popular with the Ofalia
ministry, and, accepting the British Minister's advice, he promptly
complied with the edict. He recognised that for the time being his
enemies were paramount. He accuses the priests of employing the
ruffian who, one night in a dark street, warned him to discontinue
selling his "Jewish books," or he would "have a knife 'NAILED IN HIS
HEART'" to which he replied by telling the fellow to go home, say his
prayers and inform his employers that he, Borrow, pitied them. It
was a few days after this episode that Borrow received the formal
notice of prohibition.

Consoling himself with the fact that he was not ordered to close his
Despacho, and refusing the advice that was tendered to him to erase
from its windows the yellow-lettered sign, he determined to continue
his campaign with the Bibles that were on their way to him, and the
Gitano and Basque versions of St Luke as soon as they were ready.
The prohibition referred only to the Spanish New Testament without
notes, and in this Borrow took comfort. He had every reason to feel
gratified; for, since opening the Despacho, he had sold nearly three
hundred copies of the New Testament.

At Earl Street it was undoubtedly felt that Borrow had to some extent
precipitated the present crisis. On 8th February Mr Brandram wrote
that, whilst there was no wish on the part of the Committee to
censure him, they were not altogether surprised at what had occurred;
for, when they first heard about them, "some DID think that your tri-
coloured placards and placard-bearer were somewhat calculated to
provoke what has occurred." In reply Borrow confessed that the view
of the "some" gave him "a pang, more especially as I knew from
undoubted sources that nothing which I had done, said, or written,
was the original cause of the arbitrary step which had been adopted
in respect to me." {221a}

The printing of the Gitano and Basque editions of St Luke (500 copies
{221b} of each) was completed in March, and they were published
respectively in March and April. The Gitano version attracted much
attention. Some months later Borrow wrote:-

"No work printed in Spain ever caused so great and so general a
sensation, not so much amongst the Gypsies, that peculiar people for
whom it was intended, as amongst the Spaniards themselves, who,
though they look upon the Roma with some degree of contempt as a low
and thievish race of outcasts, nevertheless take a strange interest
in all that concerns them, it having been from time immemorial their
practice, more especially of the dissolute young nobility, to
cultivate the acquaintance of the Gitanos, as they are popularly
called, probably attracted by the wild wit of the latter and the
lascivious dances of the females. The apparation, therefore, of the
Gospel of St Luke at Madrid in the peculiar jargon of these people,
was hailed as a strange novelty and almost as a wonder, and I believe
was particularly instrumental in bruiting the name of the Bible
Society far and wide through Spain, and in creating a feeling far
from inimical towards it and its proceedings." {222a}

The little volume appears to have sold freely among the gypsies.
"Many of the men," Borrow says, {222b} "understood it, and prized it
highly, induced of course more by the language than the doctrine; the
women were particularly anxious to obtain copies, though unable to
read; but each wished to have one in her pocket, especially when
engaged in thieving expeditions, for they all looked upon it in the
light of a charm."

All endeavours to get the prohibition against the sale of the New
Testament removed proved unavailing. Borrow's great strength lay in
the support he received from the British Minister, and, in all
probability, this prevented his expulsion from Spain, which alone
would have satisfied his enemies. At the request of Sir George
Villiers, he drew up an account of the Bible Society and an
exposition of its views, telling Count Ofalia, among other things,
that "the mightiest of earthly monarchs, the late Alexander of
Russia, was so convinced of the single-mindedness and integrity of
the British and Foreign Bible Society, that he promoted their efforts
within his own dominions to the utmost of his ability." He pointed
to the condition of Spain, which was "overspread with the thickest
gloom of heathenish ignorance, beneath which the fiends and demons of
the abyss seem to be holding their ghastly revels." He described it
as "a country in which all sense of right and wrong is forgotten . .
. where the name of Jesus is scarcely ever mentioned but in
blasphemy, and His precepts [are] almost utterly unknown . . .
[where] the few who are enlightened are too much occupied in the
pursuit of lucre, ambition, or ungodly revenge to entertain a desire
or thought of bettering the moral state of their countrymen." This
report, in which Borrow confesses that he "made no attempts to
flatter and cajole," must have caused the British Minister some
diplomatic embarrassment when he read it; but it seems to have been
presented, although, as is scarcely surprising, it appears to have
been ineffectual in causing to be removed the ban against which it
was written as a protest.

The Prime Minister was in a peculiarly unpleasant position. On the
one hand there was the British Minister using all his influence to
get the prohibition rescinded; on the other hand were six bishops,
including the primate, then resident in Madrid, and the greater part
of the clergy. Count Ofalia applied for a copy of the Gipsy St Luke,
and, seeing in this an opening for a personal appeal, Borrow
determined to present the volume, specially and handsomely bound, in
person, probably the last thing that Count Ofalia expected or
desired. The interview produced nothing beyond the conviction in
Borrow's mind that Spain was ruled by a man who possessed the soul of
a mouse. Borrow had been received "with great affability," thanked
for his present, urged to be patient and peaceable, assured of the
enmity of the clergy, and promised that an endeavour should be made
to devise some plan that would be satisfactory to him. The two then
"parted in kindness," and as he walked away from the palace, Borrow
wondered "by what strange chance this poor man had become Prime
Minister of a country like Spain."

In reporting progress to the Bible Society on 17th March Borrow,
after assuring Mr Brandram that he had "brought every engine into
play which it was in my power to command," asked for instructions.
"Shall I wait a little time longer in Madrid," he enquired; "or shall
I proceed at once on a journey to Andalusia and other places? I am
in strength, health and spirits, thanks be to the Lord! and am at all
times ready to devote myself, body and mind, to His cause." {224a}
The decision of the Committee was that he should remain at Madrid.

During the time that Borrow had been preparing his Depot in Madrid,
Lieutenant Graydon had been feverishly active in the South. On 19th
April Borrow wrote to Mr Brandram:-

"Sir George Villiers has vowed to protect me and has stated so
publicly . . . He has gone so far as to state to Ofalia and [Don
Ramon de] Gamboa [the Civil Governor], that provided I be allowed to
pursue my plans without interruption, he will be my bail (fiador) and
answerable for everything I do, as he does me the honor to say that
he knows me, and can confide in MY discretion."

In the same letter he begs the Society to be cautious and offer no
encouragement to any disposed "'to run the muck' (sic) (it is Sir
George's expression) against the religious and political INSTITUTIONS
of Spain"; but "the delicacy of the situation does not appear to have
been thoroughly understood at the time even by the Committee at
home." {224b} They saw the astonishing success of Graydon in
distributing the Scripture, and became infused with his enthusiasm,
oblivious to the fact that the greater the enthusiasm the greater the
possibilities of indiscretion. On the other hand Graydon himself saw
only the glory of the Gospel. If he were indiscreet, it was because
he was blinded by the success that attended his efforts, and he
failed to see the clouds that were gathering. {225a} Borrow saw the
danger of Graydon's reckless evangelism, and although he himself had
few good words for the pope and priestcraft, he recognised that a
discreet veiling of his opinions was best calculated to further the
ends he had in view.

About this period Borrow became greatly incensed at the action of the
Rev. W. H. Rule of Gibraltar in consigning to his care an ex-priest,
Don Pascual Mann, who, it was alleged, had been persuaded to secede
from Rome "by certain promises and hopes held out" to him. He had
accordingly left his benefice and gone to Gibraltar to receive
instruction at the hands of Mr Rule. On his return to Valencia his
salary was naturally sequestrated, and he was reduced to want. When
he arrived at Madrid it was with a letter (12th April) from Mr Rule
to Borrow, in which it was stated that Mann was sent that he might
"endeavour to circulate the Holy Scriptures, Religious Tracts and
books, and if possible prepare the minds of some with a view to the
future establishment of a Mission in Madrid."

Borrow had commiserated with the unfortunate Mann, even to the extent
of sending him 500 reals out of his own pocket; but on hearing that
he was on his way to Madrid to engage in missionary work, he
immediately wrote a letter of protest to Mr Brandram. He was angry
at Mr Rule's conduct in saddling him with Mann, and that without any
preliminary correspondence. He had entertained Mr Rule when in
Madrid, had conversed with him about the unfortunate ex-priest; but
there had never been any mention of his being sent to Madrid. Mr
Rule, on the other hand, thought it had been arranged that Mann
should be sent to Borrow. The whole affair appears to have arisen
out of a misunderstanding. There was considerable danger to Borrow
in Mann's presence in the capital; but it was not the thought of the
danger that incensed him so much as what he conceived to be Mr Rule's
unwarrantable conduct, and his own deeply-rooted objection to working
with anyone else. Mr Brandram repudiated the suggestion that
assistance had been promised Mann from London (although he authorised
Borrow to give him ten pounds in his, Brandram's, name), and gave as
an excuse for what Borrow described as the desertion of the ex-priest
by those who were responsible for his conversion, that "the man had
returned of his own accord to Rome," Graydon vouching for the
accuracy of the statement.

On the other hand, Mann stated that he was persuaded to secede by
promises made by Graydon and Rule, and induced to sign a document
purporting to be a separation from the Roman Church. He further
stated that he was abandoned because he refused to preach publicly
against the Chapter of Valencia, which in all probability would have
resulted in his imprisonment. Whatever the truth, there appears to
have been some embarrassment among those responsible for bringing in
the lost sheep as to what should be done with him. "I hope that
Mann's history will be a warning to many of our friends," Borrow
wrote to Mr Rule and quoted the passage in his letter to Mr Brandram,
{226a} "and tend to a certain extent to sober down the desire for
doing what is called at home SMART THINGS, many of which terminate in
a manner very different from the original expectations of the parties
concerned." Mr Brandram thought that Borrow was a little hard upon
Graydon, and that he had not received "with the due grano salis the
statements of the unfortunate M." He intimated, nevertheless, that
the Committee had no opening for Mann's services.

That Borrow was justified in his anger is shown by the fact that, as
he had foreseen, he reaped all the odium of Mann's conversion. The
Bishop of Cordoba in Council branded him as "a dangerous, pestilent
person, who under the pretence of selling the Scriptures went about
making converts, and moreover employed subordinates for the purpose
of deluding weak and silly people into separation from the Mother
Church." {227a}

Although Borrow was angry about the Mann episode, he did not allow
his personal feelings to prevent him from ministering to the needs of
the poor ex-priest "as far as prudence will allow," when he fell ill.
He even went the length of writing to Mr Rule, being wishful "not to
offend him." None the less he felt that he had not been well
treated. To Mr Brandram he wrote reminding him "that all the
difficulty and danger connected with what has been accomplished in
Spain have fallen to my share, I having been labouring on the flinty
rock and sierra, and not in smiling meadows refreshed by sea
breezes." {227b}

On 14th July 1838 Borrow made the last reference to the ex-priest in
a letter to Mr Brandram: "The unfortunate M. is dying of a galloping
consumption, brought on by distress of mind. All the medicine in the
world would not accomplish his cure." {227c}

The watchful eye of the law was still on Borrow, and fearful lest his
stock of Bibles, of which 500 had arrived from Barcelona, and the
Gypsy and Basque editions of St Luke should he seized, he hired a
room where he stored the bulk of the books. He now advertised the
two editions of St Luke, with the result that on 16th April a party
of Alguazils entered the shop and took possession of twenty-five
copies of the Romany Gospel of St Luke.

On the publication of the Gypsy St Luke, a fresh campaign had been
opened against Borrow, and accusations of sorcery were made and fears
expressed as to the results of the publication of the book.
Application was made by the priestly party to the Civil Governor,
with the result that all the copies at the Despacho of the Basque and
Gitano versions of St Luke had been seized. Borrow states that the
Alguazils "divided the copies of the gypsy volume among themselves,
selling subsequently the greater number at a large price, the book
being in the greatest demand." {228a} Thus the very officials
responsible for the seizure and suppression of the Bible Society's
books in Spain became "unintentionally agents of an heretical
society." {228b}

Disappointed at the smallness of the spoil, the authorities strove by
artifice to discover if Borrow still had copies of the books in his
possession. To this end they sent to the Despacho spies, who offered
high prices for copies of the Gitano St Luke, in which their interest
seemed specially to centre, to the exclusion of the Basque version.
To these enquiries the same answer was returned, that at present no
further books would be sold at the Despacho.

As evidence of the high opinion formed of the Romany version of St
Luke, the following story told by Borrow is amusing:-

"Shortly before my departure a royal edict was published, authorising
all public libraries to provide themselves with copies of the said
works [the Basque and Gypsy St Lukes] on account of their
philological merit; whereupon on application being made to the Office
[of the Civil Governor, where the books were supposed to be stored],
it was discovered that the copies of the Gospel in Basque were safe
and forthcoming, whilst every one of the sequestered copies of the
Gitano Gospel had been plundered by hands unknown [to the
authorities]. The consequence was that I was myself applied to by
the agents of the public libraries of Valencia and other places, who
paid me the price of the copies which they received, assuring me at
the same time that they were authorised to purchase them at whatever
price which might be demanded." {229a}

Borrow's enemies acknowledged that the Gitano St Luke was a
philological curiosity; but that it was impossible to allow it to
pass into circulation without notes. How great a philological
curiosity it actually was, is shown by the fact that the
ecclesiastical authorities were unable to find anywhere a person, in
whom they had confidence, capable of pronouncing upon it,
consequently they could only condemn it on two counts of omission;
firstly the notes, secondly the imprint of the printer from the

The Basque version was by no means so popular; for one thing, "It can
scarcely be said to have been published," Borrow wrote, "it having
been prohibited, and copies of it seized on the second day of its
appearance." {229b} Several orders were received from San Sebastian
and other towns where Basque predominates, which could not be
supplied on account of the prohibition.

The official remonstrance from Sir George Villiers to Count Ofalia in
respect of the seizure of the Gypsy and Basque Gospels is of great
interest as showing, not only the British Minister's attitude towards
Borrow, but how, and with what wrath, Borrow "desisted from his
meritorious task." The communication runs:-

MADRID, 24th April 1838.

It is my duty to request the attention of Your Excellency to an act
of injustice committed against a British subject by the Civil
Authorities of Madrid.

It appears that on the 16th inst., two officers of Police were sent
by the Civil Governor to a Shop, No. 25 Calle del Principe occupied
by Mr Borrow, where they seized and carried away 25 Copies of the
Gospel of St Luke in the Gitano language, being the entire number
exposed there for sale.

Mr Borrow is an agent of the British Bible Society, who has for some
time past been in Spain, and in the year 1836 obtained permission
from the Government of Her Catholic Majesty to print, at the expense
of the Society, Padre Scio's translation of the New Testament. He
subsequently sold the work at a moderate price and had no reason to
believe that in so doing he infringed any law of Spain or exposed
himself to the animadversion of the Authorities, otherwise, from my
knowledge of Mr Borrow s character, I feel justified in assuring Your
Excellency that he would at once, although with regret, have desisted
from his meritorious task of propagating the Gospel. Some months
ago, however, the late Civil Governor of Madrid, after having sent
for and examined a copy of the work, thought proper to direct that
its further sale should be suspended, which order was instantly
complied with.

Mr Borrow is a man of great learning and research and master of many
languages, and having translated the Gospel of St Luke into the
Gitano, he presented a copy of it to Don Ramon Gamboa, the late Civil
Governor, and announced his intention to advertise it for sale, to
which no objection was made.

Since that time neither Mr Borrow nor the persons employed by him
received any communication from the present Civil Governor forbidding
the sale of this work until it was seized in the manner I have above
described to Your Excellency.

I feel convinced that the mere statement of these facts without any
commentary on my part will be sufficient to induce your Excellency to
take steps for the indemnification of Mr Borrow, who is not only a
very respectable British subject but the Agent of one of the most
truly benevolent and philanthropic Societies in the world.

I have, etc., etc., etc.

His Excellency Count Ofalia.

CHAPTER XV: MAY 1-13, 1838

On the morning of 30th April, whilst at breakfast, Borrow, according
to his own account, received a visit from a man who announced that he
was "A Police Agent." He came from the Civil Governor, who was
perfectly aware that he, Borrow, was continuing in secret to dispose
of the "evil books" that he had been forbidden to sell. The man
began poking round among the books and papers that were lying about,
with the result that Borrow led his visitor by the arm down the three
flights of stairs into the street, "looking him steadfastly in the
face the whole time," and subsequently sending down by his landlady
the official's sombrero, which, in the unexpectedness of his
departure, he had left behind him.

The official report of Pedro Martin de Eugenio, the police agent in
question, runs as follows

MADRID, 30th April 1838.

Public Security,--In virtue of an order from His Excellency the Civil
Governor, {231a} I went to seize the Copies Entitled the Gospel of St
Luke, in the Shop Princes Street No. 25, belonging to Mr George
Borrow, but not finding him there; I went to his lodgings, which are
in St James Street, No. 16, on the third floor and presenting the
said order to Him He read it, and with an angry look threw it on the
ground saying, that He had nothing to do with the Civil Governor,
that He was authorised by His Ambassador to sell the Work in
question, and that an English Stable Boy, is more than any Spanish
Civil Governor, and that I had forcibly entered his house, to which I
replied that I only went there to communicate the order to Him, as
proprietor as he was of the said Shop, and to seize the Copies in it
in virtue of that Order, and He answered I might do as I liked, that
He should go to the House of His Ambassador, and that I should be
responsible for the consequences; to which I replied that He had
personally insulted the Civil Governor and all Spain, to which He
answered in the same terms, holding the same language as above

All of which I communicate to you for the objects required.


Borrow felt that the fellow had been sent to entrap him into some
utterance that should justify his arrest. In any case a warrant was
issued that same morning. The news caused Borrow no alarm; for one
thing he was indifferent to danger, for another he was desirous of
studying the robber language of Spain, and had already, according to
his own statement, {232b} made an unsuccessful effort to obtain
admission to the city prison.

The official account of the interview between Borrow and the "Police
Agent" is given in the following letter from the Civil Governor to
Sir George Villiers:-

To the British Minister, -
MADRID, 30th April 1838.

The Vicar of the Diocese having, on the 16th and 26th Instant,
officially represented to me, that neither the publication nor the
sale of the Gospel of St Luke translated into the romain, or Gitano
Dialect ought to be permitted, until such time as the translation had
been examined and approved by the competent Ecclesiastical Authority,
in conformity with the Canonical and Civil regulations existing on
the matter, I gave an order to a dependent of this civil
administration, to present himself in the house of Mr George Borrow,
a British Subject, charged by the London Bible Society with the
publication of this work, and to seize all the Copies of it. In
execution of this order my Warrant was yesterday morning {233a}
presented to the said Mr George Borrow; who, so far from obeying it,
broke out in insults most offensive to my authority, threw the order
on the ground with angry gestures, and grossly abused the bearer of
it, and said that he had nothing to do with the Civil Governor. The
detailed report in writing which has been made to me of this
disageeeable occurrence could not but deeply affect me, being a
question of a British Subject, to whom the Government of Her Catholic
Majesty has always afforded the same protection as to its own. As
Executor of the Law it is my duty to cause its decrees to be
inviolably observed; and you will well understand, that both the
Canonical as the Civil Laws now existing, in this kingdom, relative
to writings and works published upon Dogmas, Morals, and holy and
religious matters, are the same without distinction for the Subjects
of all Countries residing in Spain. No one can be permitted to
violate them with impunity, without detriment to the Laws themselves,
to the Royal Authority and to the Evangelical Moral which is highly
interested in preventing the propagation of doctrines which may be
erroneous, and that the purity of the sublime maxims of our divine
Faith should remain intact.

In conformity with these undeniable principles, which are in the Laws
of all civilised nations, you must acknowledge that the offensive
conduct of Mr George Borrow, and his disobedience to a legitimate
Authority sufficiently authorised the proceeding to his arrest . . .

I have, etc., etc.

The "Police Agent" seems to have boasted that within twenty-four
hours Borrow would be in prison; Borrow, on the other hand,
determined to prove the "Police Agent" wrong. He therefore spent the
rest of the day and the following night at a cafe. {234a} In the
evening he received a visit from Maria Diaz, {234b} his landlady and
also his strong adherent and friend, whom he had informed of his
whereabouts. From her he learned that his lodgings had been searched
and that the alguazils, who bore a warrant for his arrest, were much
disappointed at not finding him.

The next morning, 1st May, at the request of Sir George Villiers,
Borrow called at the Embassy and narrated every circumstance of the
affair, with the result that he was offered the hospitality of the
Embassy, which he declined. Whilst in conversation with Mr Sothern,
Sir George Villiers' private secretary, Borrow's Basque servant
Francisco rushed in with the news that the alguazils were again at
his rooms searching among his papers, whereat Borrow at once left the
Embassy, determined to return to his lodgings. Immediately
afterwards he was arrested, {234c} within sight of the doors of the
Embassy, and conducted to the office of the Civil Governor.
Francisco in the meantime, acting on his master's instructions,
conveyed to him in Basque that the alguazils might not understand,
proceeded immediately to the British Embassy and informed Sir George
Villiers of what had just taken place, with such eloquence and
feeling that Mr Sothern afterwards remarked to Borrow, "That Basque
of yours is a noble fellow," and asked to be given the refusal of his
services should Borrow ever decide to part with him. With his
dependents Borrow was always extremely popular, even in Spain, where,
according to Mr Sothern, a man's servant seemed to be his worst

Borrow submitted quietly to his arrest and was first taken to the
office of the Civil Governor (Gefatura Politica), and subsequently to
the Carcel de la Corte, by two Salvaguardias, "like a common
malefactor." Here he was assigned a chamber that was "large and
lofty, but totally destitute of every species of furniture with the
exception of a huge wooden pitcher, intended to hold my daily
allowance of water." {235a} For this special accommodation Borrow
was to pay, otherwise he would have been herded with the common
criminals, who existed in a state of foulness and misery. Acting on
the advice of the Alcayde, Borrow despatched a note to Maria Diaz,
with the result that when Mr Sothern arrived, he found the prisoner
not only surrounded by his friends and furniture, but enjoying a
comfortable meal, whereat he laughed heartily.

Borrow learned that, immediately on hearing what had taken place, Sir
George Villiers had despatched Mr Sothern to interview Senor Entrena,
the Civil Governor, who rudely referred him to his secretary, and
refused to hold any communication with the British Legation save in
writing. Nothing further could be done that night, and on hearing
that Borrow was determined to remain in durance, even if offered his
liberty, now that he had been illegally placed there, Mr Sothern
commended his resolution. The Government had put itself grievously
in the wrong, and Sir George, who had already sent a note to Count
Ofalia demanding redress, seemed desirous of making it as difficult
for them as possible, now that they had perpetrated this wanton
outrage on a British subject. He determined to make it a national

It is by no means certain that Borrow was anxious to leave the Carcel
de la Corte, even with the apologies of Spain in his pocket. The
prison afforded him unique opportunities for the study of criminal
vagabonds. An entirely new phase of life presented itself to him,
and, but for this arrest and his subsequent decision to involve the
authorities in difficulties, The Bible in Spain would have lacked
some of its most picturesque pages. It would have been strange if he
had not encountered some old friend or acquaintance in the prison of
the Spanish capital. At the Carcel de la Corte he found the
notorious and immense Gitana, Aurora, who had fallen into the hands
of the Busne for defrauding a rather foolish widow.

"A great many people came to see me," Borrow wrote to his mother,
"amongst others, General Quiroga, the Military Governor, who assured
me that all he possessed was at my service. The Gypsies likewise
came, but were refused admittance." His dinner was taken to him from
an inn, and Sir George Villiers sent his butler each day to make
enquiries. There was, however, one very unpleasant feature of his
prison life, the verminous condition of the whole building. In spite
of having fresh linen taken to him each day, he suffered very much
from what the polished Spaniard prefers to call miseria.

Sir George Villiers took active and immediate steps, not only to
secure Borrow's release, but to obtain an unqualified apology.
Referring to the letter he had received from the Civil Governor (30th
April), he expressed himself as convinced that "a gentleman of
Borrow's character and education was incapable of the conduct
alleged," and had accordingly requested Mr Sothern to enquire into
the matter and then to call upon the Civil Governor to explain in
what manner he had been misinformed. As the Civil Governor refused
to receive Mr Sothern, Sir George adds that he need trouble him no
further, as the affair had been placed before Her Catholic Majesty's
Government; but during his five years of office at the Court of
Madrid, he proceeded, "no circumstance has occurred likely to be more
prejudicial to the relations between the two Countries than the
insult and imprisonment to which a respectable Englishman has now
been subjected upon the unsupported evidence of a Police Officer,"
acting under the orders of the Civil Governor.

On 3rd May Sir George Villiers wrote again to Count Ofalia, reminding
him that he had not received the letter from him that he had
expected. In the course of a lengthy recapitulation of the
occurrences of the past ten days, Sir George reminded Count Ofalia
that, as a result of their interview on 30th April about the ill-
usage of Borrow, the Count had written on 1st May to him a private
letter stating that measures had been taken to release Borrow on
parole, he to appear when necessary, and that if Sir George would
abstain from making a written remonstrance, Count Ofalia would see
that both he and Borrow received the ample satisfaction to which they
were entitled. Borrow had been taken by two Guards "like a
Malefactor, to the Common Prison, where he would have been confined
with Criminals of every description if he had not had money to pay
for a Cell to Himself." The British Minister complained that every
step that he had taken for Borrow's protection was followed by fresh
insult, and he further intimated that Borrow refused to leave the
prison until his character had been publicly cleared.

The Spanish Government now found itself in a quandary. The British
Minister was pressing for satisfaction, and he was too powerful and
too important to the needs of Spain to be offended. The prisoner
himself refused to be liberated, because he had been illegally
arrested, inasmuch as he, a foreigner, had been committed to prison
without first being conducted before the Captain-General of Madrid,
as the law provided. Furthermore, Borrow advised the authorities
that if they chose to eject him from the prison he would resist with
all his bodily strength. In this determination he was confirmed by
the British Minister.

A Cabinet Council was held, at which Senor Entrena was present. The
Premier explained the serious situation in which the ministry found
itself, owing to the attitude assumed by the British Minister, and he
remarked that the Civil Governor must respect the privileges of
foreigners. Senor Entrena suggested that he should be relieved of
his duties; but the majority of the Cabinet seems to have been
favourable to him. The Affaire Borrow is said to have come up for
debate even during a secret session of the Chamber.

When Count Ofalia had called at the British Embassy (4th May) he was
informed by Sir George Villiers that the affair had passed beyond the
radius of a subordinate authority of the Government, and that he
"considered that great want of respect had been shown to me, as Her
Majesty's Minister, and that an unjustifiable outrage had been
committed upon a British Subject," {238a} and that the least
reparation that he was disposed to accept was a written declaration
that an injustice had been done, and the dismissal of the Police
Officer. {238b}

The value of a British subject's freedom was brought home to the
Spanish Government with astonishing swiftness and decision. The
Civil Governor wrote to Sir George Villiers (3rd May), apparently at
the instance of the distraught premier, discoursing sagely upon the
Civil and Canon Laws of Spain, and adding that the 25 copies of the
Gitano St Luke were seized, "not as being confiscated, but as a
deposit to be restored in due time." He concluded by hoping that he
had convinced the British Minister of his good faith.

In his reply, Sir George considered that the Civil Governor had been
led to view the matter in a light that would not "bear the test of
impartial examination." The result of this interchange of letters
was twofold. Sir George dropped the correspondence with "that
Functionary [who] displays so complete a disregard for fact," {239a}
and as Count Ofalia evaded the real question at issue, holding out
"slender hopes of the matter ending in the reparation which I
considered to be peremptorily called for," {239b} he advised Borrow
to claim protection from the Captain-General, the only authority
competent to exercise any jurisdiction over him. The Captain-General
Quiroga, jealous of his authority, entered warmly into the dispute
and ordered the Civil Governor to hand over the case to him. There
was now a danger of the Affaire Borrow being made a party question,
in which case it would have been extremely difficult to settle.

The intervention of the Captain-General rendered all the more obvious
the illegality of the Civil Governor's action, and increased the
embarrassment of Count Ofalia, who called on Sir George to ask him to
have Borrow's memorial to the Captain-General withdrawn. He refused,
and said the only way now to finish the affair was that "His
Excellency should in an official Note declare to me that Mr Borrow
left the prison, where he had been improperly placed, with unstained
honour,--that the Police Agent, upon whose testimony he had been
arrested, should be dismissed,--that all expenses imposed upon Mr
Borrow by his detention should be repaid him by the Government,--that
Mr Borrow's not having availed himself of the 'Fuero Militar' should
not be converted into a precedent, or in any way be considered to
prejudice that important right, and that Count Ofalia should add with
reference to maintaining the friendly relations between Great Britain
and Spain, that he hoped I would accept this satisfaction as
sufficient." {240a}

Borrow states that Sir George Villiers went to the length of
informing Count Ofalia that unless full satisfaction were accorded
Borrow, he would demand his passports and instruct the commanders of
the British war vessels to desist from furnishing further assistance
to Spain. {240b} There is, however, no record of this in the
official papers sent by Sir George to the Foreign Office. What
actually occurred was that, on 8th May, the British Minister,
determined to brook no further delay, wrote a grave official
remonstrance, in which he stated that, "if the desire had existed to
bring it to a close," the case of Borrow could have been settled.
"Having up to the present moment," he proceeds, "trusted that in Your
Excellency's hands, this affair would be treated with all that
consideration required by its nature and the consequences that may
follow upon it . . . I have forborne from denouncing the whole extent
of the illegality which has marked the proceedings of the case"
(viz., the Civil Governor's having usurped the right of the Captain-
General of the Province in causing Borrow's arrest). In conclusion,
Sir George states that he considers the

"case of most pressing importance, for it may compromise the
relations now existing between Great Britain and Spain. It is one
that requires a complete satisfaction, for the honor of England and
the future position of Englishmen in the Country are concerned; and
the satisfaction, in order to be complete, required to be promptly

"This disagreeable business," Sir George writes in another of his
despatches, "is rendered yet more so by the impossibility of
defending with success all Mr Borrow's proceedings . . . His
imprudent zeal likewise in announcing publicly that the Bible Society
had a depot of Bibles in Madrid, and that he was the Agent for their
sale, irritated the Ecclesiastical Authorities, whose attention has
of late been called to the proceedings of a Mr Graydon,--another
agent of the Bible Society, who has created great excitement at
Malaga (and I believe in other places) by publishing in the
Newspapers that the Catholic Religion was not the religion of God,
and that he had been sent from England to convert Spaniards to
Protestantism. I have upon more than one occasion cautioned Mr
Graydon, but in vain, to be more prudent. The Methodist Society of
England is likewise endeavouring to establish a School at Cadiz, and
by that means to make conversions.

"Under all these circumstances it is not perhaps surprising that the
Archbishop of Toledo and the Heads of the Church should be alarmed
that an attempt at Protestant Propagandism is about to be made, or
that the Government should wish to avert the evils of religious
schism in addition to all those which already weigh upon the Country;
and to these different causes it must, in some degree, be attributed
that Mr Borrow has been an object of suspicion and treated with such
extreme rigor. Still, however, they do not justify the course
pursued by the Civil Governor towards him, or by the Government
towards myself, and I trust Your Lordship will consider that in the
steps I have taken upon the matter, I have done no more than what the
National honor, and the security of Englishmen in this Country,
rendered obligatory upon me." {241a}

Whilst Borrow was in the Carcel de la Corte, a grave complication had
arisen in connection with the misguided Lieutenant Graydon. Borrow
gives a strikingly dramatic account {241b} of Count Ofalia's call at
the British Embassy. He is represented as arriving with a copy of
one of Graydon's bills, which he threw down upon a table calling upon
Sir George Villiers to read it and, as a gentleman and the
representative of a great and enlightened nation, tell him if he
could any longer defend Borrow and say that he had been ill or
unfairly treated. According to the Foreign Office documents, Count
Ofalia WROTE to Sir George Villiers on 5th May, ENCLOSING a copy of
an advertisement inserted by Lieutenant Graydon in the Boletin
Oficial de Malaga, which, translated, runs as follows:-

"The Individual in question most earnestly calls the greatest
attention of each member of the great Spanish Family to this DIVINE
Book, in order that THROUGH IT he may learn the chief cause, if not
the SOLE ONE, of all his terrible afflictions and of his ONLY remedy,
as it is so clearly manifested in the Holy Scripture . . . A
detestable system of superstition and fanaticism, ONLY GREEDY FOR
MONEY, and not so either of the temporal or eternal felicity of man,
has prevailed in Spain (as also in other Nations) during several
Centuries, by the ABSOLUTE exclusion of the true knowledge of the
Great God and last Judge of Mankind: and thus it has been plunged
into the most frightful calamities. There was a time in which
precisely the same was read in the then VERY LITTLE Kingdom of
England, but at length Her Sons recognising their imperative DUTY
towards God and their Neighbour, as also their unquestionable rights,
and that since the world exists it has never been possible to gather
grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, they destroyed the system
and at the price of their blood chose the Bible. Oh that the
unprejudiced and enlightened inhabitants not only of Malaga and of so
many other Cities, but of all Spain, would follow so good an
example." {242a}

The result of Graydon's advertisement was that "the people flocked in
crowds to purchase it [the Bible], so much so that 200 copies, all
that were in Mr Graydon's possession at the time, were sold in the
course of the day. The Bishop sent the Fiscal to stop the sale of
the work, but before the necessary measures were taken they were all
disposed of." {242b} In consequence Graydon "was detained and under
my [the Consul's] responsibility allowed to remain at large." {243a}
A jury of nine all pronounced the article to contain "matter subject
to legal process" {243b} but a second jury of twelve at the
subsequent public trial "unanimously absolved" Graydon.

Sir George Villiers acknowledged the letter from Count Ofalia (9th
May) saying that he had written to Graydon warning him to be more
cautious in future. He stated that from personal knowledge he could
vouch for the purity of Lieutenant Graydon's intentions; but he
regretted that he should have announced his object in so imprudent a
manner as to give offence to the ministers of the Catholic religion
of Spain. In a despatch to Lord Palmerston he states that he has not
thought it in the interests of the Bible Society to defend this
conduct of Graydon, "whose zeal appears so little tempered by
discretion," {243c} as he had written to Count Ofalia. "Had I done
so," he proceeds, "and thereby tended to confirm some of the idle
reports that are current, that England had a national object to serve
in the propagation of Protestantism in Spain, it is not improbable
that a legislative Enactment might have been introduced by some
Member of the Cortes, which would be offensive to England, and render
it yet more difficult than it is the task the Bible Society seems
desirous to undertake in this Country." {243d} Sir George concludes
by saying that he gave to "these Agents the best advice and
assistance in my power, but if by their acts they infringe the laws
of the Country," it will be impossible to defend them.

Sir George thought so seriously of the Affaire Borrow, as endangering
the future liberty of Englishmen in Spain, that he went so far as to
send a message to the Queen Regent, "by a means which I always have
at my disposal," {244a} in which he told her that he thought the
affair "might end in a manner most injurious to the continuance of
friendly relations between the two Countries." {244b} He received a
gracious assurance that he should have satisfaction. Later there
reached him

"a second message from the Queen Regent expressing Her Majesty's hope
that Count Ofalia's Note [of 11th May] would be satisfactory to me,
and stating that Her Ministers had so fully proved their incompetency
by giving any just cause of complaint to the Minister of Her only
real Friend and Ally, The Queen of England, that she should have
dismissed them, were it not that the state of affairs in the Northern
Provinces at this moment might be prejudiced by a change of
Government, which Her Majesty said she knew no one more than myself
would regret, but at the same time if I was not satisfied I had only
to state what I required and it should be immediately complied with.
My answer was confined to a grateful acknowledgement of Her Majesty's
condescension and kindness. Count Ofalia has informed me that as
President of the Council He had enjoined all his Colleagues never to
take any step directly or indirectly concerning an Englishman without
a previous communication with Him as to its propriety, and I
therefore venture to hope that the case of Mr Borrow will not be
unattended with ultimate advantage to British subjects in Spain."

The "Note" referred to by the Queen Regent in her message was Count
Ofalia's acquiescence in Sir George Villiers' demands, with the
exception of the dismissal of the Police Officer. His communication

"11th May 1838.

"SIR,--The affair of Mr Borrow is already decided by the Judge of
First Instance and his decision has been approved by the Superior or
Territorial Court of the Province. As I stated to you in my note of
the fourth last, the foundation of the arrest of Mr Borrow, who was
detained (and not committed), was an official communication from the
Agent of Police, Don Pedro Martin de Eugenio, in which he averred
that on intimating to Mr Borrow the written order of the Civil
Governor relative to the seizure of a book which he had published and
exposed for sale without complying with the forms prescribed by the
Civil and Ecclesiastical Laws of Spain, he (Mr Borrow) had thrown on
the floor the order of the Superior Authority of the Province and
used offensive expressions with regard to the said Authority.

"The judicial proceedings have had for their object the ascertainment
of the fact. Mr Borrow has denied the truth of the statement and the
Agent of Police, who it appears entered the lodgings of Mr Borrow
without being accompanied by any one, has been unable to confirm by
evidence what he alleged in his official report, or to produce the
testimony of any one in support of it.

"This being the case the judge has declared and the Territorial Court
approved the superceding of the cause, putting Mr Borrow immediately
at complete liberty, with the express declaration that the arrest he
has suffered in no wise affects his honor and good fame, and that the
'celador of Public Security,' Don Pedro Martin de Eugenio, be
admonished for the future to proceed in the discharge of his duty
with proper respect and circumspection according to the condition and
character of the persons whom he has to address.

"In accordance with the judicial decision and anxious to give
satisfaction to Mr Borrow, correcting at the same time the fault of
the Agent of Police in having presented himself without being
accompanied by any person in order to effect the seizure in the
lodging of Mr Borrow, Her Majesty has thought proper to command that
the aforesaid Don Pedro Martin de Eugenio be suspended from his
office for the space of Four Months, an order which I shall
communicate to the Minister of the Interior, and that Mr Borrow be
indemnified for the expenses which may have been incurred by his
lodging in the apartment of the Alcaide (chief gaoler or Governor)
for the days of his detention, although even before the expiration of
24 hours after his arrest he was permitted to return to his house
under his word of honor during the judicial proceedings, as I stated
to you in my note already cited. I flatter myself that in this
determination you as well as your Government will see a fresh proof
of the desire which animates that of H.M. the Queen Regent to
maintain and draw closer the relation of friendship and alliance
existing between the two countries. And with respect to the claim
advanced by Mr Borrow, and of which you also make mention in Your
Note of the 8th inst., I ought to declare to you that when the Judge
of First Instance received official information of the said claim the
business was already concluded in his tribunal, and consequently
there was nothing to be done. Without, for this reason, there being
understood any innovation with respect to the matter of privilege
(fuero) according as it is now established." {246a}

Borrow was liberated with unsullied honour on 12th May, after twelve
days' imprisonment. He refused the compensation that Sir George
Villiers had made a condition, and later wrote to the Bible Society
asking that there might be deducted from the amount due to him the
expenses of the twelve days. He states also that he refused to
acquiesce in the dismissal of the Agent of Police, by which he
doubtless means his suspension, giving as a reason that there might
be a wife and family likely to suffer. In any case the man was only
carrying out his instructions. Borrow's reason for refusing the
payment of his expenses was that he was unwilling to afford them, the
Spanish Government, an opportunity of saying that after they had
imprisoned an Englishman unjustly, and without cause, he condescended
to receive money at their hands. {246b}

The greatest loss to Borrow, consequent upon his imprisonment, no
government could make good. His faithful Basque, Francisco, had
contracted typhus, or gaol fever, that was raging at the time, and
died within a few days of his master's release. "A more affectionate
creature never breathed," Borrow wrote to Mr Brandram. The poor
fellow, who, "to the strength of a giant joined the disposition of a
lamb . . . was beloved even in the patio of the prison, where he used
to pitch the bar and wrestle with the murderers and felons, always
coming off victor." {247a} The next day Antonio presented himself at
Borrow's lodging, and without invitation or comment assumed the
duties he had relinquished in order that he might enjoy the
excitements of change. "Who should serve you now but myself?" he
asked when questioned as to the meaning of his presence, "N'est pas
que le sieur Francois est mort!" {247b}

John Hasfeldt's comment on his friend's imprisonment was
characteristic. In September 1838 he wrote:-

"The very last I heard of you is that you have had the great good
fortune to be stopping in the carcel de corte at Madrid, which
pleasing intelligence I found in the Preussiche Staats-Zeitung this
last spring. If you were fatter no doubt the monks would have got up
an Auto de Fe on your behalf, and you might easily have become a
nineteenth-century martyr. Then your strange life would have been
hawked about the streets of London for one penny, though you never
obtained a fat living to eat and drink and take your ease after all
the hardships you have endured."


Borrow was now to enter upon that lengthy dispute with the Bible
Society that almost brought about an open breach, and eventually
proved the indirect cause that led to the severance of their
relations. Graydon's mistake lay in not contenting himself with
printing and distributing the Scriptures, of which he succeeded in
getting rid of an enormous quantity. He had advertised his
association with the Bible Society and proclaimed Borrow as a
colleague, and the authorities at Madrid were not greatly to blame
for being unable to distinguish between the two men. Whereas Graydon
and Rule, who was also extremely obnoxious to the Spanish Clergy,
were safe at Gibraltar or generally within easy reach of it, Borrow
was in the very midst of the enemy. He was not unnaturally furiously
angry at the situation that he conceived to have been brought about
by these evangelists in the south. He referred to Graydon as the
Evil Genius of the Society's Cause in Spain.

It may be felt that Borrow was a prejudiced witness, he had every
reason for being so; but a despatch from Sir George Villiers to the
Consul at Malaga shows clearly how the British Minister viewed
Lieutenant Graydon's indiscretion:

"You will communicate Count Ofalia's note to Mr Graydon," he writes,
"and tell him from me that, feeling as I do a lively interest in the
success of his mission, I cannot but regret that he should have
published his opinions upon the Catholic religion and clergy in a
form which should render inevitable the interference of
ecclesiastical authority. I have no doubt that Mr Graydon, in the
pursuit of the meritorious task he has undertaken, is ready to endure
persecution, but he should bear in mind that it will not lead him to
success in this country, where prejudices are so inveterate, and at
this moment, when party spirit disfigures even the best intentions.
Unless Mr Graydon proceeds with the utmost circumspection it will be
impossible for me, with the prospect of good result, to defend his
conduct with the Government, for no foreigner has a right, however
laudable may be his object, to seek the attainment of that object by
infringing the laws of the country in which he resides." {249a}

In writing to Mr Brandram, Borrow pointed out that although he had
travelled extensively in Spain and had established many depots for
the sale of the Scriptures, not one word of complaint had been
transmitted to the Government. He had been imprisoned; but he had
the authority of Count Ofalia for saying that it was not on account
of his own, but rather of the action of others. Furthermore the
Premier had advised him to endeavour to make friends among the
clergy, and for the present at least make no further effort to
promote the actual sale of the New Testament in Madrid.

On the day following his release from prison (13th May) Borrow, after
being sent for by the British Minister, wrote to Mr Brandram as

"Sir George has commanded me . . . to write to the following effect:-
Mr Graydon must leave Spain, or the Bible Society must publicly
disavow that his proceedings receive their encouragement, unless they
wish to see the Sacred book, which it is their object to distribute,
brought into universal odium and contempt. He has lately been to
Malaga, and has there played precisely the same part which he acted
last year at Valencia, with the addition that in printed writings he
has insulted the Spanish Government in the most inexcusable manner.
A formal complaint of his conduct has been sent up from Malaga, and a
copy of one of his writings. Sir George blushed when he saw it, and
informed Count Ofalia that any steps which might be taken towards
punishing the author would receive no impediment from him. I shall
not make any observation on this matter farther than stating that I
have never had any other opinion of Mr Graydon than that he is
insane--insane as the person who for the sake of warming his own
hands would set a street on fire. Sir George said to-day that he
(Graydon) was the cause of my HARMLESS shop being closed at Madrid
and also of my imprisonment. The Society will of course communicate
with Sir George on the subject, I wash my hands of it."

On 23rd May Borrow wrote again to Mr Brandram:

"In the name of the MOST HIGHEST take steps for preventing that
miserable creature Graydon from ruining us all." Borrow's use of the
term "insane" with regard to Graydon was fully justified. The Rev.
W. H. Rule wrote to him on 14th May:

"Our worthy brother Graydon is, I suppose, in Granada. I overtook
him in Cartagena, endured the process of osculation, saw him without
rhime or reason wrangle with and publicly insult our Consul there.
Had his company in the steamer to Almeria, much to my discomfort.
Never was a man fuller of love and impudence, compounded in the most
provoking manner. In Malaga, just as we were to part, he broke out
into a strain highly disagreeable, and I therefore thought it a
convenient occasion to tell him that I should have no more to do with
him. I left him dancing and raving like an energumen."

This letter Borrow indiscreetly sent to Mr Brandram, much to Mr
Rule's regret, who wrote to Mr Brandram, saying that whilst he had
nothing to retract, he would not have written for the eyes of the
Bible Society's Committee what he had written to Borrow. To Mr Rule
Lieut. Graydon was "a good man, or at least a well-meaning [one], who
has not the balance of judgment and temper necessary for the
situation he occupies." He was given to "the promulgation of
Millenianism," and to calling the Bible "the true book of the

Mann had confirmed all the rumours current about Graydon. In order
to remove from his shoulders "the burden of obloquy," Borrow's first
act on leaving prison was to publish in the Correo Nacional an
advertisement disclaiming, in the name of the Bible Society, any
writings which may have been circulated tending to lower the
authorities, civil and ecclesiastical, in the eyes of the people. He
denied that it was the Society's intention or wish to make proselytes
from the Roman Catholic form of worship, and that it was at all times
prepared to extend the hand of brotherhood to the Spanish clergy.
This notice was signed "George Borrow, Sole authorised Agent of the
British and Foreign Bible Society in Spain."

El Gazeta Oficial in commenting on the situation, saw in the anti-
Catholic tracts circulated by Graydon "part of the monstrous plan,
whose existence can no longer be called in question, concocted by the
enemies of all public order, for the purpose of inaugurating on our
unhappy soil a SOCIAL revolution, just as the political one is
drawing to a close." The Government was urged to allow no longer
these attacks upon the religion of the country. Rather illogically
the article concludes by paying a tribute to the Bible Society,
"considered not under the religious but the social aspect." After
praising its prudence for "accommodating itself to the civil and
ecclesiastical laws of each country, and by adopting the editions
there current," it concludes with the sophisticated argument that,
"if the great object be the propagation of evangelic maxims, the
notes are no obstacle, and by preserving them we fulfil our religious
principle of not permitting to private reason the interpretation of
the Sacred Word."

The General Committee expressed themselves, somewhat enigmatically,
it must be confessed, as in no way surprised at this article, being
from past experience learned enough in the ways of Rome to anticipate

"That advertisement," Borrow wrote six months later in his Report
that was subsequently withdrawn, "gave infinite satisfaction to the
liberal clergy. I was complimented for it by the Primate of Spain,
who said I had redeemed my credit and that of the Society, and it is
with some feeling of pride that I state that it choked and prevented
the publication of a series of terrible essays against the Bible
Society, which were intended for the Official Gazette, and which were
written by the Licentiate Albert Lister, the editor of that journal,
the friend of Blanco White, and the most talented man in Spain.
These essays still exist in the editorial drawer, and were
communicated to me by the head manager of the royal printing office,
my respected friend and countryman Mr Charles Wood, whose evidence in
this matter and in many others I can command at pleasure. In lieu of
which essays came out a mild and conciliatory article by the same
writer, which, taking into consideration the country in which it was
written, and its peculiar circumstances, was an encouragement to the
Bible Society to proceed, although with secrecy and caution; yet this
article, sadly misunderstood in England, gave rise to communications
from home highly mortifying to myself and ruinous to the Bible

Borrow had written from prison to Mr Brandram {252a} telling him that
it had "pleased God to confer upon me the highest of mortal honors,
the privilege of bearing chains for His sake." After describing how
it had always been his practice, before taking any step, to consult
with Sir George Villiers and receive his approval, and that the
present situation had not been brought about by any rashness on his,
Borrow's, part, he proceeds to convey the following curious piece of
information that must have caused some surprise at Earl Street

"I will now state a fact, which speaks volumes as to the state of
affairs at Madrid. My arch-enemy, the Archbishop of Toledo, the
primate of Spain, wishes to give me the kiss of brotherly Peace. He
has caused a message to be conveyed to me in my dungeon, assuring me
that he has had no share in causing my imprisonment, which he says
was the work of the Civil Governor, who was incited to the step by
the Jesuits. He adds that he is determined to seek out my
persecutors amongst the clergy, and to have them punished, and that
when I leave prison he shall be happy to co-operate with me in the
dissemination of the Gospel!! I cannot write much now, for I am not
well, having been bled and blistered. I must, however, devote a few
lines to another subject, but not one of rejoicing or Christian
exultation. Mann arrived just after my arrest, and visited me in
prison, and there favoured me with a scene of despair, abject
despair, which nearly turned my brain. I despised the creature, God
forgive me, but I pitied him; for he was without money and expected
every moment to be seized like myself and incarcerated, and he is by
no means anxious to be invested with the honors of martyrdom."

That the Primate of Spain should have sent to Borrow such a message
is surprising; but what is still more so is that six days later
Borrow wrote telling Mr Brandram that he had asked a bishop to
arrange an interview between him and the Archbishop of Toledo, and
Sir George Villiers, who was present, begged the same privilege.
{253a} On 23rd May Borrow wrote again to Mr Brandram: "I have just
had an interview with the Archbishop. It was satisfactory to a
degree I had not dared to hope for." In his next letter (25th May)
he writes:

"I have had, as you are aware, an interview with the Archbishop of
Toledo. I have not time to state particulars, but he said amongst
other things, 'Be prudent, the Government are disposed to arrange
matters amicably, and I am disposed to co-operate with them.' At
parting he shook me most kindly by the hand saying that he liked me.
Sir George intends to visit him in a few days. He is an old,
venerable-looking man, between seventy and eighty. When I saw him he
was dressed with the utmost simplicity, with the exception of a most
splendid amethyst ring, the lustre of which was truly dazzling."

There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this archiepiscopal
condescension, if the interview were not indeed sought by Borrow,
that it was a political move to pacify the wounded feelings of an
outraged Englishman at a time when the goodwill of England was as
necessary to the kingdom of Spain as the sun itself

The upshot of the Malaga Incident was that "the Spanish Government
resolved to put an end to Bible transactions in Spain, and forthwith
gave orders for the seizure of all the Bibles and Testaments in the
country, wherever they might be deposited or exposed for sale. They
notified Sir George Villiers of the decision, expressly stating that
the resolution was taken in consequence of the 'Ocurrido en Malaga.'"
{254a} The letter in which Sir George Villiers was informed of the
Government's decision runs as follows:-


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