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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Margaret Southey, 21 August 1800

Vol. I Contents
Early Life: I
Early Life: II
Early Life: III
Early Life: IV
Early Life: V
Early Life: VI
Early Life: VII
Early Life: VIII
Early Life: IX
Early Life: X
Early Life: XI
Early Life: XII
Early Life: XIII
Early Life: XIV
Early Life: XV
Early Life: XVI
Early Life: XVII
Ch. I. 1791-93
Ch. II. 1794
Ch. III. 1794-95
Ch. IV. 1796
Ch. V. 1797
Vol. II Contents
Ch. VI. 1799-1800
Ch. VII. 1800-1801
Ch. VIII. 1801
Ch. IX. 1802-03
Ch. X. 1804
Ch. XI. 1804-1805
Vol. III Contents
Ch. XII. 1806
Ch. XIII. 1807
Ch. XIV. 1808
Ch. XV. 1809
Ch. XVI. 1810-1811
Ch. XVII. 1812
Vol. IV Contents
Ch. XVIII. 1813
Ch. XIX. 1814-1815
Ch. XX. 1815-1816
Ch. XXI. 1816
Ch. XXII. 1817
Ch. XXIII. 1818
Ch. XXIV. 1818-1819
Vol. IV Appendix
Vol. V Contents
Ch. XXV. 1820-1821
Ch. XXVI. 1821
Ch. XXVII. 1822-1823
Ch. XXVIII. 1824-1825
Ch. XXIX. 1825-1826
Ch. XXX. 1826-1827
Ch. XXXI. 1827-1828
Vol. V Appendix
Vol. VI Contents
Ch. XXXII. 1829
Ch. XXXIII. 1830
Ch. XXXIV. 1830-1831
Ch. XXXV. 1832-1834
Ch. XXXVI. 1834-1836
Ch. XXXVII. 1836-1837
Ch. XXXVIII. 1837-1843
Vol. VI Appendix
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“Cintra August 21. 1800.
“My dear Mother,

“You will have known, before ibis can arrive, that your Bristol despatches reached me. That I have not written sooner, is the fault of the wind. We have been three weeks without a packet; and, now we have one, my letters may probably be detained for want of a conveyance to Lisbon. Poor Peggy?* I am impatient for letters: your last was a troubling one, and undid half that Portugal had done for me. However, I am materially amended. Tom writes that she is better; but I know the nature of the disease too well to hope so easily, perhaps, as you and he may have done: however, other diseases there are, undistinguishably similar in their symptoms, which are sometimes mistaken for this, and the patient is said to have recovered from a consumption, when his lungs have been sound all the while.

“We have been here about two months, living alone, and riding jackasses. My uncle is sadly confined in Lisbon: the soldiers’ children die as fast as they are born, from inattention or bad management, one of the million war-evils!—and he must bury them. We have acquaintance out of number, but no friends: of course I go among these people no oftener than absolute decorum requires. Patty Collins’s niece has more brains than three parts of

* His cousin, Margaret Hill, at this time in very ill health.

the factory: her I like hugely; but she is never at Cintra. I want
Danvers here, and Davy, and Rickman, and Cottle, and you, and some fresh butter, and the newspaper: howbeit, I am very comfortable, and very busy. I want you to eat melons; we get them for about three farthings a pound: and grapes—oh! what grapes! Our desserts are magnificent.

“We have three servants here, a man, and maid, and a boy; all good servants for the country. . . . .

“The Roman Catholics have contrived to rank nastiness among Christian virtues, and they practise no other so universally. The poor Moriscoes in Spain were forbidden to use their baths, because it was a Turkish custom. Certain of the austerer monks would think it wicked to kill any of their vermin; others wear no linen, and sleep in their woollen dress from one year to another,—fine, fat, frying friars, looking as oily as Aaron’s beard in the sun. I should like to catch a Quaker and bring him here among filth and finery.

“Since we left Lisbon I have written scarcely any letters, and have a week’s work to settle my accounts with Tom: tell him that Thalaba has monopolised me; that by the King George, in her next voyage (about three weeks hence), I send over his copy, together with that for the press. Except to Bristol and to Tom, I have neglected all my other correspondents. Actually I have not time: I must ride; I am visited; and the correcting Thalaba and transcribing it is a very serious job.

“The French! You are probably alarmed for
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 101
us, and, perhaps, not without cause; but we are in the dark, and only know that the situation is very critical. We are quite easy about the matter. The house is on fire! ‘Och! and is that all?’ said the Paddy; ‘now, why did you disturb me? I am but a lodger!’ In my own opinion, no attempt will be made on Portugal; it is not worth the trouble. Why make a dust by pulling down a house that must fall? We shall have peace!

“By the next packet I shall write, and send to Biddlecombe his year’s rent. When we return, I shall immediately take a house in London, or near it: for a summer or two. Burton may do; but, if Rickman leaves Christchurch, I must look for a situation where there is better society. I wish I could settle here; the climate suits me so well, that I could give up society, and live like a bear by sucking my own paws. You like the Catholics: shall I give you an account of one of their Lent plays upon transubstantiation, which is lying on the table? It begins by the Father turning Adam out of doors. ‘Get out of my house, you rascal!’ Adam goes a-begging, and bitterly does he complain that he can find no house, no village, no body to beg of. At last he meets the Four Seasons, and they give him a spade, and a plough, &c., but nothing to eat. Then comes Reason, and tells him to go to law with his Father, who is obliged to find him in victuals. Adam goes to law; an Angel is his counsel, and the Devil pleads against him. He wins his cause: and the Father settles upon him oil—for extreme unction; lamb; and bread and wine. Up comes the Sacra-
ment, and there is an end of the play. This is written by a priest, one of the best Spanish writers, who has written seventy-two of these plays, all upon the body and blood, and all in the same strain of quaint and pious blasphemy. In another, Christ comes in as a soldier to ask his reward of my Lord World for serving him, and he produces the testimonials of his service:—that, on the eighth day of his enlisting, he was wounded with a knife; that he had a narrow escape when the infantry were all cut off; that he went as a spy among the enemies, and even got into their Temple; that he stood a siege of forty days, and would not capitulate, though without provisions, and, after three assaults, put the enemy to flight; that he succoured Castle-Magdalen when the enemy had got possession; that he supplied a camp consisting of more than 5000 persons with food, who would all have been starved; that he did good service at sea in a storm: therefore, for him and his twelve followers, he asked his reward. I could fill sheet after sheet with these
Bunyanisms, and send you miracles as strange as any in Thalaba.

“But you are crying out already, and are satisfied with the specimen. Farewell! We are going on well; only Edith’s burro fell with her, and threw her overhead down hill, and she is now lame with a bruised knee: she excels in ass-womanship; and I am hugely pleased with riding sideways, and having a boy to beat the John and guide him.

Harry must forgive me: I do not forget him, and will write very soon; but the interruption it
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 103
occasions, and the time it takes up, make letter-writing a serious evil. God bless you.

Your affectionate son,
Robert Southey.”