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- The Life of George Borrow - 40/90 -


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 follows:-

"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 Constitution."

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 her.

"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 cause."

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:-

MADRID, 19th May 1838. SIR,

I have the honor to inform You that in consequence of what has taken place at Malaga and other places, respecting the publication and sale of the Bible translated by Padre Scio, which are not complete (since they do not contain all the Books which the Catholic Church recognises as Canonical) nor even being complete could they be printed unless furnished with the Notes of the said Padre Scio, according to the existing regulations; Her Majesty has thought proper to prevent this publication and sale, but without insulting or molesting those British Subjects who for some time past have been


The Life of George Borrow - 40/90

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