LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Margaret Southey, 23 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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
“Lisbon, May 23. 1800.
“My dear Mother,

“Our trunk arrived by the last packet: a joyful arrival, for I was beginning to be as bare as a plucked ostrich. . . . . We go on comfortably; as clean as an English house upstairs, as dirty as a Portuguese one below. Edith, like Mr. Pitt, is convinced of the impossibility of reform. Manuel will clean the kitchen, indeed, but immediately he will scrape the fish-scales all over it. These people have no foresight. We, however, are very well off; and, for a Portuguese, our Maria Rosa is extraordinarily tidy.

“ —— is here, the Wine Street man, and he goes to market himself; and I am going to cultivate his acquaintance, in order to find out what good things may have escaped my appetite here. Nothing like a Bristol pointer at an eatable thing. . . . . My uncle has enough to do with burying and christening among the soldiers, though the priests poach among his flock sadly. We profit somewhat by the war, getting most excellent pieces of the sirloin from the rations. The summer we pass at Cintra, whither, however, we shall not go till July, for in June we have to see the procession of the ‘Body of God,’ of
St. Anthony, and the royal family with the knight of the new convent; and we must also wait to see a bull-fight, which, being a cool summer amusement, only takes place in the hottest weather. . . . .

“I read nothing but Spanish and Portuguese. Edith knows enough of the common words to get all needful things done about the house. We have had an infinite number of visitors, and our debt is not yet paid off. . . . .

Edith has seen the aqueduct. Even after having seen it, I was astonished at its magnitude. Shakespeare’s ‘lessen’d to a crow’ seemed hardly hyperbolical, when I looked down from the middle arch upon the brook of Alcantara: the women washing there would have escaped my sight if I had not seen them moving as they walked. It is a work worthy of Rome in the days of her power and magnificence. The Portuguese delight in water; the most luscious and cloying sweetmeats first—for instance, preserved yolk of egg—and then a glass of water, and this is excellent which comes by the aqueduct. The view from the top is wonderfully fine: a stony shallow brook below, a few women washing in it, bare-kneed, the sides sprinkled with linen drying in the sun; orange, and vine, and olive-yards along the line of fertility that runs below the hills, and houses scattered in the little valley, and bare dark hills and windmills, and houses far beyond and distant mountains. She has also seen the new convent. The inside of the church is of marble, and the colour very well disposed. You will remember that a marble room, chilling as it would be in England, is
here only cool and comfortable. It is dedicated to the Heart of Jesus, which is the subject of more than one picture in the church. In one, the queen (for she built it) is represented adoring the heart. You would not like the Roman Catholic religion quite so well if you saw it here in all its naked nonsense—could you but see the mummery, and smell the friars! There is no dying in peace for these fellows; they kill more than even the country apothecaries. When a man is given over, in they come, set up singing, which they never cease till the poor wretch is dead; build an altar in the room, light their candles, and administer extreme unction, which has much the same effect as if in England you measured a sick man for his coffin and dressed him in his shroud. They watch after the dying like Bristol undertakers. My
uncle is always obliged to mount guard, and yet last week they smuggled off an officer; got at him when his senses were gone, stuck a candle in his hand, and sung ‘O be joyful’ for a convert.

“We have had three illuminations for the new Pope. . . . . We had another illumination for the christening of a princess. These things are not, as in England, at the will of the mob. An illumination is proclaimed; at a proper hour the guns fire to say ‘now light your candles;’ at ten they fire again to give notice you may put them out: and if you do not illuminate, you are fined about thirty shillings,—but no riots, no mobbing, no breaking windows. . . . .

“The literature of this place takes up much of my
time, I am never idle, and, I believe, must set at
Thalaba in good earnest to get it out of my way,

“God bless you.

Your affectionate son,
Robert Southey.”