LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1 May 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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“Lisbon, May-day, 1800.

“Here, then, we are, thank God! alive, and recovering from dreadful sickness. I never suffered so
much at sea, and
Edith was worse than I was; we scarcely ate or slept at all: but the passage was very fine and short; five days and a half brought us to our port, with light winds the whole of the way. The way was not, however, without alarm. On Monday morning, between five and six, the captain was awakened with tidings that a cutter was bearing down upon us, with English colours, indeed, but apparently a French vessel; we made a signal, which was not answered; we fired a gun, she did the same, and preparations were made for action. We had another Lisbon packet in company, mounting six guns; our own force was ten; the cutter was a match, and more, for both, but we did not expect to be taken. You may imagine Edith’s terror, awakened on a sick bed—disturbed I should have said—with these tidings! The captain advised me to surround her with mattrasses in the cabin, but she would not believe herself in safety there, and I lodged her in the cockpit, and took my station on the quarter-deck with a musket. How I felt I can hardly tell; the hurry of the scene, the sight of grape-shot, bar-shot, and other ingenious implements of this sort, made an undistinguishable mixture of feelings. . . . . The cutter bore down between us; I saw the smoke from her matches, we were so near, and not a man on board had the least idea but that an immediate action was to take place. We hailed her; she answered in broken English, and passed on. ’Tis over! cried somebody. Not yet! said the captain; and we expected she was coming round as about to attack our comrade vessel. She was English, however, manned chiefly from Guernsey,
and this explained her Frenchified language. You will easily imagine that my sensations, at the ending of the business, were very definable,—one honest simple joy that I was in a whole skin! I laid the musket in the chest with considerably more pleasure than I took it out. I am glad this took place; it has shown me what it is to prepare for action.

“Four years’ absence from Lisbon have given everything the varnish of novelty, and this, with the revival of old associations, makes me pleased with everything. Poor Manuel, too, is as happy as man can be to see me once more; here he stands at breakfast, and talks of his meeting me at Villa Franca, and what we saw at this place and at that, and hopes that whenever I go into the country he may go with me. It even amused me to renew my acquaintance with the fleas, who opened the campaign immediately on the arrival of a foreigner. We landed yesterday about ten in the morning, and took possession of our house the same night. Our house is very small, and thoroughly Portuguese; little rooms all doors and windows,—odd, but well calculated for coolness: from one window we have a most magnificent view over the river,—Almada hill, and the opposite shore of Alentejo, bounded by hills about the half mountain height of Malvern. . . . .

“To-day is a busy day; we are arranging away our things, and seeing visitors: these visits must all be returned; there ends the ceremony, and then I may choose retirement. I hurry over my letters, for the sake of feeling at leisure to begin my employments.
The voyage depriving me of all rest, and leaving me too giddy to sleep well, will, with the help of the fleas, break me in well for early rising. The work before me is almost of terrifying labour; folio after folio to be gutted, for the immense mass of collateral knowledge which is indispensable: but I have leisure and inclination.

Edith, who has been looking half her time out of the window, has just seen ‘really a decent-looking woman;’ this will show you what cattle the passers-by must be. She has found out that there are no middle-aged women here, and it is true; like their climate, it is only summer and winter. Their heavy cloaks of thick woollen, like horsemen’s coats in England, amuse her in this weather, as much as her clear muslin would amuse them in an English winter. . . . .

Thalaba will soon be finished. Rickman is my plenipotentiary with the booksellers for this. Pray send me your Plays. . . . . Thalaba finished, all my poetry, instead of being wasted in rivulets and ditches, shall flow into the great Madoc Mississippi river. I have with me your volume, Lyrical Ballads, Burns, and Gebir. Read Gebir again: he grows upon me.

“My uncle’s library is admirably stocked with foreign books. . . . . My plan is this: immediately to go through the chronicles in order, and then make a skeleton of the narrative; the timbers put together, the house may be furnished at leisure. It will be a great work, and worthy of all labour.

“I am interrupted momentarily by visitors, like fleas, infesting a new-comer! Edith’s spirits are
mending: a handful of roses has made her forgive the stink of Lisbon; and the green peas, the oranges, &c., are reconciling her to a country for which nature has done so much. We are transported into your mid-summer, your most luxuriant midsummer!—Plague upon that heart-stop, that has reminded me that this is a voyage of prescription as well as of pleasure. But I will get well; and you must join us, and return with us over the Pyrenees, and some of my dreams must be fulfilled!

“God bless you! Write to me, and some long letters; and send me your Christabell and your Three Graces, and finish them on purpose to send them. Edith’s love. I reach a long arm, and shake hands with you across the seas.

Robert Southey.”