George Borrow (1803-1881)


Report of Mr. George Borrow


GENTLEMEN, - It is now about two years since I quitted England ... (omissis)
As one of the principal motives of my visit to Moscow was to hold communication with a particular part of its population, which from the accounts I had received of it had inspired me with the most vivid interest, I did not fail shortly after my arrival to seek an opportunity of accomplishing my work, and believe that what I have now to communicate will be of some interest to the Christian and the philosopher. I allude to the people called Zigani or Gypsies, or, as they style themselves, Rommany, of which there are several thousands in and about Moscow, and who obtain a livelihood by various means. Those who have been accustomed to consider these people as wandering barbarians, incapable of civilisation and unable to appreciate the blessings of a quiet and settled life, will be surprised at learning that many of those in Moscow inhabit large and handsome houses, appear abroad in elegant equipages, and if distinguishable from the genteel class of the Russians [are] only so by superior personal advantages and mental accomplishments. Of this singular phenomenon at Moscow the female Gypsies are the principal cause, having from time immemorial cultivated their vocal powers to such an extent that, although in the heart of a country in which the vocal art has arrived at greater perfection than in any other part of the world, the principal Gypsy choirs in Moscow are allowed by the general voice of the public to be unrivalled and to bear away the palm from all competitors. It is a fact notorious in Russia that the celebrated Catalani was so filled with admiration for the powers of voice displayed by one of the Gypsy songsters, who, after the former had sung before a splendid audience at Moscow, stepped forward and with an astonishing burst of melody ravished every ear, that she tore from her own shoulders a shawl of immense value which had been presented to her by the Pope, and embracing the Gypsy compelled her to accept it, saying that it had been originally intended for the matchless singer which she now discovered was not herself. The sums obtained by these performers are very large, enabling them to live in luxury of every description and to maintain their husbands in a princely way. Many of them are married to Russian gentlemen; and every one who has resided for any length of time in Russia cannot but be aware that the lovely, talented, and domesticated wife of Count Alexander Tolstoi is by birth a Gypsy, and was formerly one of the ornaments of a Rommany choir at Moscow as she is now one of the principal ornaments of the marriage state and of illustrious life. It is not, however, to be supposed that all the female Gypsies in Moscow are of this high, talented, and respectable order; amongst them there are a great number of low, vulgar, and profligate females who sing in taverns, or at the various gardens in the neighbourhood, and whose husbands and male connections subsist by horse-jobbing and such kinds of low traffic. The principal place of resort of this class is Marina Rotche, lying about two VERSES from Moscow, and thither I drove, attended by a VALET-DE-PLACE. Upon my arriving there the Gypsies swarmed out from their tents and from the little TRACTEER or tavern, and surrounded me. Standing on the seat of the CALECHE, I addressed them in a loud voice in the dialect of the English Gypsies, with which I have some slight acquaintance. A scream of wonder instantly arose, and welcomes and greetings were poured forth in torrents of musical Rommany, amongst which, however, the most pronounced cry was: AH KAK MI TOUTE KARMUMA - 'Oh, how we love you,' for at first they supposed me to be one of their brothers, who, they said, were wandering about in Turkey, China, and other parts, and that I had come over the great PAWNEE, or water, to visit them. Their countenances exactly resembled those of their race in England and Spain, brown, and for the most part beautiful, their eyes fiery and wildly intelligent, their hair coal-black and somewhat coarse. I asked them numerous questions, especially as to their religion and original country.
They said that they believed in 'Devil,' which, singularly enough, in their language signifies God, and that they were afraid of the evil spirit, or 'Bengel'; that their fathers came from Rommany land, but where that land lay they knew not. They sang many songs both in the Russian and Rommany languages; the former were modern popular pieces which are in vogue on the stage, but the latter were evidently very ancient, being composed in a metre or cadence to which there is nothing analogous in Russian prosody, and exhibiting an internal character which was anything but European or modern. I visited this place several times during my sojourn at Moscow, and spoke to them upon their sinful manner of living, upon the advent and suffering of Christ Jesus, and expressed, upon my taking a final leave of them, a hope that they would be in a short period furnished with the word of eternal life in their own language, which they seemed to value and esteem much higher than the Russian. They invariably listened with much attention; and during the whole time I was amongst them exhibited little in speech or conduct which was objectionable.
I returned to Petersburg, and shortly afterwards, the business which had brought me to Russia being successfully terminated, I quitted that country, and am compelled to acknowledge, with regret. I went thither prejudiced against the country, the government, and the people; the first is much more agreeable than is generally supposed; the second is seemingly the best adapted for so vast an empire; and the third, even the lowest classes, are in general kind, hospitable, and benevolent. True it is that they have many vices, and their minds are overshadowed by the gloomy clouds of Grecian superstition, but the efforts of many excellent and pious persons amongst the English at St. Petersburg are directed to unveiling to them the cheering splendour of the lamp of the Gospel; and it is the sincere prayer of the humble individual who now addresses you that the difficulties which at present much obstruct their efforts may be speedily removed, and that from the boundless champains of Russia may soon resound the Jubilee hymn of millions,
who having long groped their way in the darkness of the shadow of death, are at once blessed with light, and with joyful hearts acknowledge the immensity of the blessing.

George Borrow.

To the Rev. A. Brandram - 19th July, 1836

MADRID, JULY 19th, 1836.

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - As I believe you have no account of my  proceedings at Badajoz, I send you the following which will perhaps serve for your 'Monthly Extracts.' I have corrected and improved my translation of the Lord's Prayer into Rommany, and should it be printed, let it be done so with care. Perhaps in a few days I shall send a general account of what I have been about since my arrival at Madrid, but I am at present very feeble and languid, and can scarcely hold a pen. There is nothing new here, all is quiet, and I hope will continue so. My time does not pass very agreeably, I am without books or conversation, for all my acquaintance have left the place to escape from the intolerable heat. I often sigh for Russia, and wish I was there, editing Mandchou or Armenian; pray remember me kindly to Mr. Jowett and to my other friends. I remain, etc.

George Borrow.

About one o'clock in the afternoon of the 6th of January, 1836, I crossed the bridge of the Guadiana, a boundary river between Portugal and Spain, and entered Badajoz, a strong Spanish town containing about 8000 inhabitants, and founded by the Romans. I instantly returned thanks to God who had protected me during a journey of five days through the wilds of Alemtejo, the province of Portugal the most infested by robbers and desperate characters, and which I had traversed with no other human companion than a lad, nearly idiotic, who was to convey back the mules which carried myself and baggage. It was not my intention to make much stay at Badajoz, and as a vehicle would set out for Madrid the day next but one after my arrival, I proposed to depart therein for the capital of Spain.

The next morning I was standing at the door of the inn where I had taken up my residence; the weather was gloomy, and rain seemed to be at hand. I was thinking of the state of the country I had lately entered, which was involved in bloody anarchy and confusion, and where the ministers of a religion, falsely styled Catholic and Christian, were blowing the trump of war, instead of preaching the love-engendering words of the blessed Gospel. Suddenly two men wrapped in long cloaks came down the narrow and almost deserted street. They were about to pass me, and the face of the nearest was turned full towards me. I knew to whom the countenance which he displayed must belong, and I touched him on the shoulder. The man stopped and his companion also; I said a certain word, to which after an exclamation of surprise he responded in the manner which I expected. The men were of that singular family, or race, which has diffused itself over every part of the civilized globe, and the members of which are known as Gypsies, Bohemians, Gitanos, Zigani, and by many other names, but whose proper appellation seems to be 'Rommany,' from the circumstance that in many and distant countries they so style themselves, and also the language which they speak amongst each other. We began conversing in the Spanish dialect of this language, with which I was tolerably well acquainted. Upon inquiring of my two newly-made acquaintances whether there were many of their people at Badajoz and in the vicinity, they informed me that there were nine or ten families residing in the town, and that there were others at Merida, a town about nine leagues distant. I asked by what means they supported themselves, and they replied that they and their brethren gained a livelihood by jobbing in horses, mules, etc., but that all those in Badajoz were very poor, with the exception of one man, who was exceedingly MUBALBALLO or rich, as he was in possession of many horses and other beasts. They removed their cloaks for a moment, and I saw that their undergarments were rags.

They left me in haste, and went about the town informing the rest that a stranger was arrived, who spoke Rommany as well as themselves, who had the eyes and face of a Gitano, and seemed to be of the ERATTI, or blood. In less than half-an-hour the street before the inn was filled with the men, women, and children of Egypt. I went out amongst them, and my heart sank within me as I surveyed them; so much squalidness, dirt, and misery I had never before seen amongst a similar number of human beings. But the worst of all was the evil expression of their countenances, plainly denoting that they were familiar with every species of crime; and it was not long before I found that their countenances did not belie them. After they had asked me an infinity of questions, and felt my hands, face, and clothes, they retired to their homes. My meeting with these wretched people was the reason of my remaining at Badajoz a much longer time than I originally intended. I wished to become better acquainted with their condition and manners, and above all to speak to them about Christ and His Word, for I was convinced that should I travel to the end of the universe I should
meet with none who were more in need of Christian exhortation, and I accordingly continued at Badajoz for nearly three weeks.

During this time I was almost constantly amongst them, and as I spoke their language and was considered by them as one of themselves, I had better opportunities of coming to a fair conclusion respecting their character than any other person, whether Spaniard or foreigner, could have hoped for, not possessed of a similar advantage. The result of my observations was a firm belief that the Spanish Gitanos are the most vile, degraded, and wretched people upon the earth.

In no part of the world does the Gypsy race enjoy a fair fame and reputation, there being no part where they are not considered, and I believe with justice, as cheats and swindlers; but those of Spain are not only all this, but far more. The Gypsies of England, Russia, etc., live by fraud of various descriptions, but they seldom commit acts of violence, and their vices are none or very few; the men are not drunkards, nor are the women harlots; but the Gypsy of Spain is a cheat in the market-place, a brigand and murderer on the high-road, and a drunkard in the wine-shop, and his wife is a harlot and thief on all times and occasions. The excessive wickedness of these outcasts may perhaps be attributed to their having abandoned their wandering life and become inmates of the towns, where to the original bad traits of their character they have super-added the evil and vicious habits of the rabble. Their mouths teem with abomination, and in no part of the world have I heard such frequent, frightful, and extraordinary cursing as amongst them.

Religion they have none; they never attend mass, nor confess themselves, and never employ the names of God, Christ and the Virgin, but in imprecation and blasphemy. From what I learnt from them it appeared that their ancestors had some belief in metempsychosis, but they themselves laughed at the idea, and were decidedly of opinion that the soul perished when the body ceased to breathe; and the argument which they used was rational enough, so far as it impugned metempsychosis: 'We have been wicked and miserable enough in this life,' they said; 'why should we live again?'

I translated certain portions of Scripture into their dialect, which I frequently read to them, especially the parables of Lazarus and the Prodigal Son, and told them that the latter had been as wicked as themselves, and both had suffered as much or more; but that the sufferings of the former, who always looked forward to a blessed resurrection, were recompensed in the world to come by admission to the society of Abraham and the prophets, and that the latter, when he repented of his crimes, was forgiven and received into as much favour as the just son had always enjoyed. They listened with admiration, but alas! not of the truths, the eternal truths I was telling them, but at finding that their broken jargon could be written and read. The only words of assent to the heavenly doctrine which I ever obtained, and which were rather of the negative kind, were the following, from a woman: 'Brother, you tell us strange things, though perhaps you do not lie; a month since I would sooner have believed these tales, than that I should this day have seen one who could write Rommany.'

They possess a vast number of songs or couplets which they recite to the music of the guitar. For the purpose of improving myself in the language I collected and wrote down upwards of one hundred of these couplets, the subjects of which are horse-stealing, murder, and the various incidents of gypsy-life in Spain. Perhaps a collection of songs more characteristic of the people from whom they originated was never made, though amongst them are to be found some tender and beautiful thoughts, though few and far between, as a flower or shrub is here and there seen springing from the interstices of the rugged and frightful rocks of which are composed the mountains and sierras of Spain.

The following is their traditionary account of the expulsion of their fathers from Egypt. 'And it came to pass that Pharaoh the King collected numerous armies for the purpose of war; and after he had conquered the whole world, he challenged God to descend from heaven and fight him; but the Lord replied, "There is no one who shall fight with Me"; and thereupon the Lord opened a mountain, and He cast therein Pharaoh the King and all his numerous armies; so that the Egyptians remained without defence, and their enemies arose and scattered them wide abroad.'

George Borrow.

To the Rev. A. Brandram - 15th January, 1838

REVD. AND DEAR SIR,  ... (omissis)

Matters were going on very well before this check. The demand, even for Testaments, was becoming considerable, so much so that the clergy were alarmed, and the consequence has been this step. But they had previously recourse to another well worthy of them; they attempted to act upon my fears. One of the ruffians of Madrid, called MANOLOS, came up to me one night in a dark street, and told me that unless I discontinued selling 'my Jewish books' I should have a knife 'NAILED IN MY HEART'; but I told him to go home, say his prayers, and tell his employers that I pitied them, whereupon he turned away with an oath. A few days after, I received an order to send two copies of the Testament to the office of the Political Governor, with which, after consulting with Sir George Villiers, I complied, and in less than twenty-four hours, namely, on the evening of last Saturday, an ALGUACIL arrived at the shop with the notice prohibiting the further sale of the New Testament, permission to print which I had obtained from the Ministry of Isturitz after so much trouble and anxiety.

One circumstance rejoices me. They have not shut up my little DESPACHO, and as soon as ever the Bibles arrive (and I have advice from Barcelona of their being on the way) I shall advertise them, for I have received no prohibition respecting the sale of any work but the New Testament. Moreover, within a few days the Gospel of  Saint Luke in Rommany will be ready for delivery, so that I hope to carry on matters in a small way till better times arrive. I have been advised to erase from the shop windows the words 'Despatch of the British and Foreign Bible Society,' but I intend to do no such thing; those words have tended very much to call attention, which was my grand object. Had I attempted to conduct things in an underhand manner, I should at the present moment scarcely have sold 30 copies instead of nearly 300, which in Madrid are more than equivalent to 3,000 sold on the littoral. People who know me not, 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. The booksellers refused to sell my work; I was compelled to establish a shop of my own. Every shop in Madrid has a name. What name should I give mine but the true one? I was not ashamed of my cause nor my colours. I hoisted them, and have fought beneath them not without success.

The Levitical party in Madrid have, in the meantime, spared no effort to vilify me. They have started a publication called 'The friend of the Christian religion,' in which has appeared a furious attack upon me, which I have however treated with the contempt it deserves. But not satisfied with this, they have endeavoured to incite the ignorant populace against me, by telling them that I am a sorcerer and a companion of Gypsies and witches, and I have been called so in the streets. That I am an associate of Gypsies and fortune-tellers I do not deny, and why should I be ashamed of their company when my Master mingled with publicans and thieves? Many of the poor Gypsy race come frequently to visit me, receive instruction, and hear parts of the Gospel read to them in their own language, and when they are hungry and faint I give them to eat and drink. This may be deemed sorcery in Spain, but I am not without hope that it will be otherwise estimated in England; and were I to perish to-morrow I think there are some who would be disposed to say that I have lived not altogether in vain (always as an instrument of the 'Most Highest'), having been permitted to turn one of the most valuable books of God into the speech of the most oppressed and miserable of His creatures.

No more at present, but I hope to write again within a few days.

George Borrow.

To the Rev. A. Brandram - 25th January, 1839

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - My last letter was from Seville, in which I gave you an account of my proceedings in that place, at the same time stating that I was about to repair to Madrid with the courier.
After travelling four days and nights we arrived, without having experienced the slightest accident; though it is but just to observe, and always with gratitude to the Almighty, that the next courier was stopped.


In passing through La Mancha we stayed for four hours at Manzanares, a large village which I hope to visit again shortly. I was standing in the market-place conversing with a curate, when a frightful ragged object presented itself; it was a girl about eighteen or nineteen, perfectly blind, a white film being spread over her huge staring eyes; her countenance was as yellow as that of a mulatto. I thought at first that she was a Gypsy, and addressing myself to her, enquired in Gitano if she were of that race. She understood me; but shaking her head replied, that she was something better than a Gitana, and could speak something better than that jargon of witches, whereupon she commenced asking me several questions in exceeding good Latin. I was of course very much surprised, but summoning all my Latinity, I called her Manchegan prophetess, and expressing my admiration at her learning begged to be informed by what means she became possessed of it. I must here observe that a crowd instantly gathered around us who, though they understood not one word of our discourse, at every sentence of the girl shouted applause, proud in possession of a prophetess who could answer the Englishman. She informed me that she was born blind, and that a Jesuit priest had taken compassion on her when she was a child, and had taught her the 'holy language,' in order that the attention and hearts of Christians might be more easily turned towards her. I soon discovered that he had taught her something more than Latin, for upon telling her that I was an Englishman, she said that she had always loved Britain which was once the nursery of saints and sages - for example, Bede and Alcuin, Colombus [SIC] and Thomas of Canterbury; but she added, those times had gone by since the re-appearance of Semiramis (Elizabeth). Her Latin was truly excellent; and when I, like a genuine Goth, spoke of Anglia and Terra Vandalica (Andalusia), she corrected me by saying that in her language those places were called Britannia, and Terra Betica. When we had finished our discourse, a gathering was made for the prophetess, the very poorest contributing something. What wonderful people are the Jesuits! When shall we hear of an English rector instructing a beggar girl in the language of Cicero?

Ever yours,

George  Borrow

To the Rev. A. Brandram - 4th September, 1839

REVD. AND DEAR SIR, - (omissis)
I started from Seville on the night of the 31st of July in one of the steamers which ply upon the Guadalquivir, arriving at San Lucar early in the morning. I shall now make an extract from my journal, relative to the Testaments.

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

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

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

I arrived at Cadiz on the second day of August ... (omissis)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I remain, Revd and dear Sir,

Truly yours,

George Borrow