LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 8 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 8. 1800.

“. . . . . The English, when strangers here, are so suspicious of the natives as to be very rash in misinterpreting them. A young man, whom I knew, fired at the watch one night when they accosted him: the ball passed through the watchman’s hat; he was seized and confined, and it required interest and money to excuse him for what was inexcusable. My uncle, walking one night with a midshipman, was stopt by persons bearing a young man who had been run through the body by a lieutenant; they
had stopt him, seeing his companion’s uniform, but, knowing my uncle, suffered him to pass after telling the circumstances. The lieutenant was drunk; the young man was a gentleman, who, seeing him staggering about the streets, took him by the arm to lead him home; the Englishman did not understand what he said, and ran him through.

“As yet we have not done receiving all our visits of ceremony. We are going, the first night we are at liberty, to the Portuguese play. The court have shown a strange caprice about the Opera: they permitted them to have a few female singers, and the proprietors of the Opera sent to Italy for more and better ones. They came. No! they would not license any more; the present women might act, but not the new comers. You must not expect me to give you any reason for this inconsistency; ’tis the sheer whim of authority; but an odd reason was assigned for permitting two, who still act—one because she is very religious, the other because she is Portuguese and of a certain age.

“On Sunday a princess was christened. In the evening the guns fired a signal for all persons to illuminate. It was a pleasing sight from our window: the town all starred, and the moving lights of the shipping. . . . . But the river, seen by moonlight from hence, is a far finer spectacle than art can make. It lies like a plain of light under the heaven, the trees and houses now forming a dark and distinct foreground, and now undistinguishable in shade as the moon moves on her way;—Almada stretching its black isthmus into the waters, that shine like mid-
night snow. . . . . A magnificent equipage passed our window an Monday: it was a nobleman either going to be married, or to court. The carriage was drawn by four horses, each covered with a white netting, and crested with white plumes; they were very restive, indeed but half broke in. I had seen them breaking in before, and on these occasions they always fill the carriage with servants to make it heavy, so that their necks also run a chance of being broken in. It was like the pomp of romance. They bury in covered buildings that adjoin the church; the graves are built in divisions, like tanners’ pits: you may, perhaps, remember such at Bristol, at St. Paul’s, which I saw building. Quicklime is thrown in with every body, which, of course, is soon consumed: still the bones accumulate, and occasionally these places are cleared out. . . . .

“They have a singular mode of fishing at Costa, a sort of wigwam village on the sands south of the bar. The gang of fishermen to each net is about fifty, all paid and fed by the captain regularly,—not according to their success. Half hold one end of a rope, the other is carried off in the boat; the rope is about half a mile in length, the net in the middle. A high surf breaks on the shore; the men then thrust off the boat, themselves breast-deep, and stooping under every wave that meets them; the others row round to shore, and then they all haul in. This place is about nine miles only from Lisbon, and yet criminals run away there and are safe. Sometimes a magistrate goes down, but they always know that he is coming, and away to the woods for
the day. It is common to go there from town, and dine upon the sands. The people are civil and inoffensive; indeed, generally so over Portugal, except among the boatmen, who have enough intercourse with foreigners to catch all their vices.

Lord Somerville went by the last packet. I did not see him; he would have called one evening, but my uncle, knowing him pressed for time, begged him to waive the ceremony. I have been very industrious, and continue so—rise early, and never waste a minute. If I am at home without visitors, I go from book to book; and change is more relief than idleness. The American minister called on me after supper on Tuesday; this was somewhat familiar, and, I apprehend, was meant as civility. God bless you.

R. S.”