LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Thomas Southey, 15 June 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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“Sunday, June 15. 1800, Lisbon.
“My dear Tom,

“On Tuesday Rundell goes. To-morrow I have an engagement for the day, and lack of paper has till now prevented me from preparation; so now for a galloping letter!

“Thursday last we saw the long-looked-for Procession of the Body of God. The Pix is carried in all other processions empty; in this only it has the wafer,—this is the only Real Presence. The Pix is a silver vessel; and our vulgarism, ‘please the pigs,’ which has sometimes puzzled me, is only a corruption, and that an easy one, of ‘please the Pix,’—the holiest church utensil. So much for the object of this raree-show. On the night preceding, the streets through which it is to pass are cleaned: the only miracle I ever knew the wafer perform is that of cleaning the streets of Lisbon: they are strewn with sand, and the houses hung with crimson damask, from top to bottom. When the morning arrived, the streets were lined with soldiers; they marched on, filing to the right and left: their new uniforms are put on this day, and their appearance was very respectable: this alone was
a fine sight. We were in a house in one of the new streets, where the houses are high and handsome, and perfectly regular, and the street longer than Redcliffe Street, every window and balcony crowded, and the Portuguese all in full-dress; and of the finery of Portuguese full-dress you can have but very inadequate ideas: not a jewel in Lisbon but was displayed,—the rainbow would have been ashamed to be seen. The banners of the city and its various corporate trades led the way. I never saw banners so clumsily carried; they were stuck out with bars,—not suffered to play freely and wave with the wind, and roll out their beauties in light and shade: sticks were stuck at right angles in the poles to carry them by; nothing could be more awkward or more laborious for the bearers, some of whom were walking backward like lobsters, and others crab-sidling along; then came a champion in armour, carrying a flag; God knows, his armour was heavy enough; and as both his arms were employed upon the flag, his horse was led. Here, also, I saw St George, but not St. George of England! This was a Portuguese wooden St. George, his legs stiff and striding like a boot-jack, a man walking on each side to hold him on by the feet; his house, when he is at home, is the Castle, from whence he goes to the Duke of Cadaval’s, where they dress his hat up with all their magnificent jewels for the procession, which he calls and returns on his way back. When the late king was dying, he had all the saints in Lisbon sent for, and this St. George was put to bed to him. The consultation produced no good effect.


“Scarcely any part of the procession was more beautiful than a number of very fine led horses, their saddles covered with rich escutcheons. All the brotherhoods then walked,—an immense train of men in red or grey cloaks; and all the friars. Zounds, what a regiment! many of them fine young men, some few ‘more fat than friars became,’ and others again as venerable figures as a painter could wish: among the bearded monks were many, so old, so meagre, so hermit-like in look, of such a bread-and-water diet appearance, that there needed no other evidence to prove they were indeed penitents, as austere as conscientious folly could devise. The knights of the different orders walked in their superb dresses—the whole patriarchal church in such robes! and after the Pix came the Prince himself, a group of nobles round him closing the whole. I never saw aught finer than this: the crowd closing behind, the whole street, as far as the eye could reach, above and below, thronged, flooded, with people—and the blaze of their dresses! and the music! I pitied the friars—it was hot, though temperate for the season, yet the sun was painful, and on their shaven heads; they were holding up their singing-books, or their hands, or their handkerchiefs, or their cowls, to shade them. I have heard that it has been death to some of them in a hot season. Two years ago, at this very procession, a stranger received a stroke of the sun, and fell down apparently dead. The Irish friars got hold of him and carried him off to be buried. The coffins here are like a trunk, and the lid is left open during the funeral service; before it was over, the man moved—
what then did the Paddies? Oh to be sure, and they could not bury him then! but they locked him in the church instead of calling assistance, and the next day the man was dead enough, and they finished the job!

“Had this been well managed, it would have been one of the finest conceivable sights; but it was along procession broken into a number of little pieces, so irregularly they moved. On the Prince, and the group about the Body of God—I like to translate it, that you may see the nakedness of the nonsensical blasphemy—they showered rose-leaves from the windows. The following day St. Anthony had a procession, and the trappings of the houses were ordered to remain for him: this was like the Lent processions, a perfect puppet-show—the huge idols of the people carried upon men’s shoulders; there were two negro saints, carried by negroes—I smiled to think what black angels they must make. We have got another raree-show to see in honour of the Heart of Jesus; this will be on Friday next; and then we think of Cintra.

“This has been a busy time for the Catholics. Saturday, the 7th of this month, as the Eve of Trinity Sunday, was a festival at the Emperor’s* head quarters; his mountebank stage was illuminated, and pitch barrels blazing along the street, their flames flashing finely upon the broad flags that floated across the way. It was somewhat terrible; they were bonfires of superstition, and I could not help thinking how much better the spectators would have been pleased with the sight had there been a Jew, or a

* The Emperor of the Holy Ghost, as he is called; see antè, p. 71.

heretic like me, in every barrel. The scene was thronged with spectators, and to my great surprise I saw women walking in safety; nothing like personal insult was attempted: the boys had their bonfires and fireworks, but they seemed to have no idea that mischief was amusement. The succeeding day. Trinity Sunday, was the termination of the Emperor’s reign. His train was increased by a band of soldiers; he was crowned, and dined in public The Emperor for the ensuing year was elected; and thus ends the mummery, till Lent, and feasting, and folly come round again. At Cascaes the Emperor is a man, and the farce more formal. There was a brother of
John V., who delighted in blackguard mischief; he went to the Emperor, then on the throne, with the intention of kicking him down, or some such practical jest. The Emperor knew him, sate like an old senator when the Gauls approached, and held out his hand for the Prince to kiss; it effectually disconcerted him, and he growled out as he retired, ‘the rascal plays his part better than I expected.’

“In the course of a conversation, introduced by these processions, I said to a lady, who remembers the auto-da-fes, ‘What a dreadful day it must have been for the English when one of these infernal executions took place!’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘not at all; it was like the processions, expected as a fine sight, and the English, whose houses overlooked the streets through which they passed, kept open house as now, and made entertainments!!’ They did not, indeed, see the execution,—that was at midnight; but they should have shut up their houses, and, for the honour
of their own country, have expressed all silent abhorrence. Did such an event take place now, I should shake the dust from my feet, and curse the city, and leave it for ever! What is it that has prevented these Catholic bonfires? I do not understand. The constitution and the people never were more bigoted; and the dislike of
Pombal would, after his disgrace, have only been a motive for reviving them. Is it that the priests themselves and the nobles have grown irreligious? Perhaps the books of Voltaire may have saved many a poor Jew from the flames.

“Portugal is certainly improving, but very, very, very slowly. The factories have been long declining in opulence; and the Portuguese, who had some years since no merchants of note, have now the most eminent and wealthy in the place. They are beginning to take the profits themselves, which they had suffered us to reap: this is well, and as it should be; but they have found out that Cintra is a fine place, and are buying up the houses there as they are vacant, so that they will one day dispossess the English, and this I do not like. Cintra is too good a place for the Portuguese. It is only fit for us Goths—for Germans or English.

“Your Thalaba is on the stocks. You will have it some six months before it can possibly be printed, and this is worth while. I this morning finished the Tenth Book—only two more; and at the end of a journey Hope always quickens my speed. Farewell. I am hurried, and you must and may excuse (as Rundell is postman extraordinary) a sheet not quite filled. God bless you! Edith’s love.

R. S.”