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The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey
Robert Southey to Robert Lovel, 19 February 1796

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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“Feb. 19. 1796.

“I have an invincible dislike to saying the same things in two different letters, and yet you must own it is no easy matter, to write half a dozen different ones, upon the same subject. I am at Lisbon, and therefore all my friends expect some account of Portugal; but it is not pleasant to reiterate terms of abuse, and continually to present to my own mind objects of filth and deformity. By way of improving your English cookery, take the Portuguese receipt for dressing rabbits. The spit is placed either above the fire, below the fire, by the side of the fire, or in the fire; (this is when they have a spit, and that is little better than an iron skewer, for they roast meat in a jug, and boil it in a frying-pan;) to know if it is
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done they crack the joints with their fingers, and then lay it aside till it cools, then they seize the rabbit, tear it piecemeal with their fingers into rags, and fry it up with oil, garlic, and aniseed. I have attempted sausages made of nothing but garlic and aniseed; they cut off the rump of a bird always before they dress it, and neither prayers nor entreaties can save a woodcock from being drawn and quartered, R—— (who never got up till we were in sight of Corunna) lay in his bed studying what would be the best dinner when we landed; he at last fixed upon a leg of mutton, soles and oyster sauce, and toasted cheese—to the no small amusement of those who knew he could get neither, and to his no small disappointment when he sat down to a chicken fried in oil, and an omelet of oil and eggs. He leapt out of bed in the middle of his first night in Spain, in order to catch the fleas, who made it too hot for him.

“Miss* remains in Lord Bute’s stables, in Madrid:—she amused me on the road by devouring one pair of horsehair socks, one tooth-brush, one comb, a pound of raisins, do. of English beef, and one pair of shoes: Maber has as much reason to remember her. So you see Miss lived well upon the road. Tossed about as I have been by the convulsions of air, water, and earth, and enduring what I have from the want of the other element, I am in high health. My uncle and I never molest each other by our different principles. I used to work Maber sometimes, but

* A favourite dog.

here there is no one whom I am so intimate with, or with whom I wish intimacy. Here is as much visiting and as little society as you can wish; and a Bristol alderman may have his fill of good eating and drinking; yet is this metropolis supplied only from hand to mouth, and when the boats cannot come from Alentejo, the markets are destitute; at this time there is no fuel to be bought! Barbary supplies them with corn, and that at so low a rate, that the farmers do not think it worth while to bring their corn to market, so that the harvest of last year is not yet touched. They cannot grind the Barbary corn in England: it is extremely hard, and the force and velocity of English mills reduce the husk as well as the grain to powder. I learnt all this from the Vice Consul, who has written much to
Lord Grenville on the subject, and proposed damping the corn previous to grinding it, so as to prevent the bran from pulverising. Lord G. has even sent for grindstones to Lisbon, in hopes they might succeed better. It is melancholy to reflect on what a race possesses the fertile coasts of Barbary! Yet are these Portuguese not a degree above them. You may form some idea how things are managed in this country from the history of the present war: by treaty the Portuguese were to furnish the English with a certain number of ships, or a certain sum of money; and the Spaniards with troops or money; the money was expected, but the Secretary of State, Mello, argued that it was more politic to lay it out among their own countrymen, and make soldiers and sailors. The old boy’s measures were vigorous; he sent for the
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 265
general of one of the provinces, appointed him commander in Brazil, and ordered him to be ready at an hour’s notice; but old Mello fell ill, and the general, after remaining three months at Lisbon (for during Mello’s illness the other party managed affairs), he found no more probability of departing than on the first day, and he accordingly sent for his furniture, wife, and family to Lisbon. Soon after they arrived the secretary recovered,—every thing was hurried for the expedition,—and the wife, family and furniture, sent home again. Mello fell ill again, every thing was at a stand, and the general once more called his family to Lisbon. The old fellow recovered; sent them all home again; put everything in readiness, fell ill again, and died. The measures of the government have ever since been uniformly languid; and, though the stupid hounds sent ships to England, and troops to Spain, they never believed themselves at war with France till the French took their ships at the mouth of the river!

“The meeting of the two Courts at Badajos is supposed to have been political, and it was surmised that Spain meant to draw Portugal into an alliance with France; they, however, parted on bad terms. War with Spain is not improbable, and, if our minister knew how to conduct it, would amply repay the expenses of the execrable contest. The Spanish settlements could not resist a well-ordered expedition, and humanity would be benefited by the delivery of that country from so heavy a yoke. There is a very seditious Spaniard there now, preaching Atheism and
Isocracy; one of
Godwin’s school; for Godwin has his pupils in Spain.

“I can see no paper here but the London Chronicle, and those every other day papers are good for nothing. Coleridge is at Birmingham, I hear; and I hear of his projected ‘Watchman.’ I send five letters by this post to Bristol, and two to London,—a tolerable job for one who keeps no secretary. I shall send four by the Magician frigate, and four more by the next packet. This is pretty well, considering I read very hard, and spend every evening in company. . . . . I know not why I have lost all relish for theatrical amusements, of which no one was once more fond. The round of company here is irksome to me, and a select circle of intimate friends is the summum bonum I propose to myself. I leave this country in April; and, when once I reach England, shall cross the seas no more. O the super-celestial delights of the road from Falmouth to Launceston! Yet I do believe that Christian, in the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ felt little more pleasure at his journey’s end than I shall in traversing the lovely hills and plains of Cornwall. . . . . John Kett was of great service to me in Spain, and will return to England, where, as soon as I shall have pitched my tent, I purpose burning him a sacrifice to the household gods, and inurning his ashes with a suitable epitaph. Then shall sans culotte be hung upon the wall, and I will make a trophy of my travelling shoes and fur cap. I am now going out to dinner; then to see a procession; then to talk French; then to a huge assembly, from whence there is no returning
Ætat. 22. OF ROBERT SOUTHEY. 267
before one o’clock. O midnight! midnight! when a man does murder thee, he ought at least to get something by it.

“Here are most excellent wines, which I do in no small degree enjoy: the best Port; Bucellas of exquisite quality; old Hock, an old gentleman for whom I have a very great esteem; Cape, and I have ‘good hope’ of getting some to-day; and Malmsey such as makes a man envy Clarence. . . . .

“Farewell! Love to Mrs. L.

Robert Southey.”