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The Bible in Spain; or, the journeys, adventures, and imprisonments of an Englishman   By: (1803-1881)

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or The Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman, in an Attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula




Blessed with a magnificent physique, and an unswerving belief in God’s beneficence; endowed with “the gift of tongues” and a cheerful disposition, George Borrow was well equipped for life. That he was called to be a Bible Society missionary was surely a curious turn of fortune. The son of a Militia captain, whose duties took him about the country, Borrow early acquired the taste for a roving life, and it must have been a severe hardship to him when, at the age of sixteen, he was articled to a Norwich firm of solicitors. Indeed, it would almost appear that the gypsy spirit was quenched, for on the completion of his five years he was engaged as literary hack to Phillips, the London publisher. But after a year or so the “call of the wild” came, and Borrow eagerly responded. What happened is not really known, though much of his gypsy life is pictured in Lavengro .

In 1832 he commenced his work for the Bible Society, and the next year went as its representative to Russia. He stayed there until 1835, when he was ordered to Spain and Portugal. In spite of their adventurous nature, the five years there spent were described by Borrow as “the most happy years of my life.” The Bible in Spain consists largely of his letters to the Society, and the vigour and directness of his language must ofttimes have startled the officials. The book was published in December, 1842.

George Henry Borrow was born July 5, 1803, and died July 26, 1881.


It is very seldom that the preface of a work is read; indeed, of late years, most books have been sent into the world without any. I deem it, however, advisable to write a preface, and to this I humbly call the attention of the courteous reader, as its perusal will not a little tend to the proper understanding and appreciation of these volumes.

The work now offered to the public, and which is styled The Bible in Spain , consists of a narrative of what occurred to me during a residence in that country, to which I was sent by the Bible Society, as its agent for the purpose of printing and circulating the Scriptures. It comprehends, however, certain journeys and adventures in Portugal, and leaves me at last in “the land of the Corahai,” to which region, after having undergone considerable buffeting in Spain, I found it expedient to retire for a season.

It is very probable that had I visited Spain from mere curiosity, or with a view of passing a year or two agreeably, I should never have attempted to give any detailed account of my proceedings, or of what I heard and saw. I am no tourist, no writer of books of travels; but I went there on a somewhat remarkable errand, which necessarily led me into strange situations and positions, involved me in difficulties and perplexities, and brought me into contact with people of all descriptions and grades; so that, upon the whole, I flatter myself that a narrative of such a pilgrimage may not be wholly uninteresting to the public, more especially as the subject is not trite; for though various books have been published about Spain, I believe that the present is the only one in existence which treats of missionary labour in that country.

Many things, it is true, will be found in the following volume which have little connexion with religion or religious enterprise; I offer, however, no apology for introducing them... Continue reading book >>

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