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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1176. Robert Southey to [Barbara] Seton [fragment], [21 April 1806] ⁠* 

.         .           .           My Uncle wishes me to come to him, and I as you may well suppose, wish to go, but the miserable state of Europe affects even me among the mountains of Cumberland. I am afraid to remove my family to a country from whence we should be in danger of being driven out. Go however I must, to compleat what has already cost me so much labour, and under these circumstances it will be equally uncomfortable to go or stay. [1]  My present plan, as far as man at any time and especially in these times can be said to have any plan, is to set off in the close of the autumn with my brother Harry, leaving Edith in Cumberland: to travel over the Northern provinces, the only ones which I have not yet seen, and on my return to Lisbon send for Edith, who will then be able to take the voyage with less inconvenience than if she were to attempt it sooner. Once in Lisbon I could willingly make up my mind to remain there. To eat grapes in summer at Cintra, and oranges in winter at Lisboa, speak Portuguese as long as I live, and go to rest under the cypress trees at last. But Edith would not like this, and for this as well as other reasons which there are no difficulty in finding to throw into the scale, I must not look out for a permanent residence there. Otherwise my mother country is such a mother-in-law sort of country that I should willingly fix elsewhere.    .     .     .


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, ‘Robert Southey and Miss Seton’, Times Literary Supplement, no. 1868 (20 November 1937), p. 896. Southey’s letters to Seton were advertised for sale in Kyrle Fletcher’s catalogue no. 57. Their purchaser and current location is unknown. BACK

[1] Southey was planning to travel to Portugal to complete his history of the country, but the visit never took place and the work remained unfinished. BACK

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August 2013