LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to John Rickmon, 22 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 22. 1800.
“My dear Rickman,

“In the long space of three months since I wrote to you (or rather four!), you will expect I have done much. In truth, I have not been idle. For the great history, I have only collected the knowledge of what documents to reach, and where to seek them. The public-library books are not removable; and I, like all the English, am driven to the cool retirement of Cintra. I have the general facts already in my memory, and I think a fair and accurate opinion of the chief personages, differing very considerably from their received characters; and a map of the method to be pursued. The ground is well manured, and the seed is in. I speak the language, not, indeed, grammatically, but fluently; and Portuguese, from a familiar voice, is almost as intelligible to me as English. I know the progress of their language, step by step, and have written materials towards the literary history, of collateral and incidental information—such anecdotes as paint the manners and character of a people. My collection would fill half an octavo volume.

“But Thalaba: it has taken up a greater portion
of my time than I expected or wished. I have been polishing and polishing, adding and adding, and my unlearned readers ought to thank me very heartily for the toil, unpleasant and unproductive, of translating so many notes. By the King George packet I shall send it over, which will probably sail from Lisbon in about three weeks. . . . . The MS. (if the French waylay it not) may reach you the beginning of October at the latest; and, if the booksellers fall into my terms, a London printer will despatch one quarto in a month, or two pocket volumes in a fortnight: 100l. I will have for 400 4to. copies, 130l. for 1000 of the smaller size. The whole property I will not sell, because I expect the poem will become popular, and of course productive. . . . .

“Our house stands here in a lemon-garden of somewhat less than half an acre. Its fruit usually sells for twenty moidores; this year, owing to its failure, it produced only ten. These orchards, you see, are wonderfully productive, but they require more attention than any English crops. They are watered regularly. Here there is a large tank in every garden, whence the water is conveyed by little channels, which the man conducts round the roots of every tree, loosening the soil with a hoe: by this the leaves, as they fall, are sooner mingled with the soil, and afford a constant manure. Wages are as high as eighteen-pence a day, with wine. The price of bread, of course, can differ little from its price. in England; all other provisions are rather dearer, in some respects owing to actual scarcity, still more to the paper
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 105
money, as every tradesman will have his profit upon the discount. The wine owes its advance to the enormous taxes in England. As the English tax it so highly, said the government here, we will tax it too; and they laid on the very moderate duty of a six-and-thirty per pipe. If people will give 75l. a pipe, said the Porto merchants, no doubt they will give 80l., and we will have our profit. They therefore laid on the five, and are making fortunes. More wine is imported than before the new duties, because the excise, to which it is subject, so materially checks the home-brewed; still much is manufactured. By an accident I happened to know that one merchant made his own Lisbon. . . . .

‘No debtor is imprisoned here; shame, shame to our own laws! There is a Board of Bankruptcy—an institution, perhaps, of unequalled absurdity, so is it managed. Any debtor who will surrender all his effects to the board, receives 10 per cent. It has been established about thirty years, and they have never made one dividend. Where goes the money? There is a fund for cleaning and lighting the city. There are no lamps and no scavengers. Where goes the fund? . . . .

“The number of monastics decreases; not from any dearth of laziness or fanaticism, but because the revenues are not now equal to the support of the original number. Sometimes the monks desert; in that case they pursue them. They took one poor fellow at work in a garden, where, for three months, he had been usefully employed, and enjoying freedom. . . . .


“Here is a fine soil of folly, and a plentiful crop do the friars reap! Some little good they do in return. They are good landlords, and the church lands are the only lands that are tolerably cultivated. The ruin of Spain and Portugal is, the fashion that all the wealthy have, of residing wholly in the metropolis, where they spend to the uttermost, vex their tenants, and never pay their debts. Portugal, you say, must have bad roads. It will be very difficult to make them good. In winter the very heavy rains wash away all the smaller parts, and leave only the larger stones; in summer the sun dries them up, and the wind sweeps the stones bare. Brentford stones would be thought a fine road here. Hence slow and little travelling, and bad inns; in country towns no booksellers! scarcely any reading anywhere. Like beasts and savages, the people can bear total indolence. Their delight is to look into the street, put somebody to hunt their heads at the same time, and it is happiness! Even in the garden walls they have grates to look into the road. . . . .

“I lack society sadly. The people here know much of their own business, very little of the country they live in, and nothing of anything else except cards. My uncle, indeed, is a man of extensive knowledge; and here is one family, of which the master is a man of some science, and where I can open my flood-gates. I want you and Davy, and a newspaper, and bread-and-butter, and a green field for me and the horse: it would do his old English heart as much good as it would mine. But I have ample and pleasant employment: curiosity for ever
Ætat. 26. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 107
on the hunt—a situation the most beautiful that I have ever seen, and a climate for which Nature seems to have destined me, only, blessed be God, she dropt me the other side of the bay. . . . .
Edith’s remembrance. Farewell!

R. Southey.”