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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 3

1279. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 23 February 1807 ⁠* 

My dear Harry

I am glad you are going – & yet feel something like a cloud passing over me at thinking we are no longer to be in the same country. [1] 

The only thing which now occurs to me as necessary to be taken out, is, that you should stock yourself well {with} shoes – shoes for service I mean – your dancing ones (properly called kickmanjigs [2] ) may be made any where; but you can get nothing of that kind in Lisbon which will last.

I wish you may be able to satisfy my Uncle concerning the fitness of my present abode, – in which I have determined to continue indefinitely. So that here you will find me – if I do not first find you at Lisbon, whither very probably I may go with my Brazilian papers for my Uncle to see them & talk them over before they go to press.

His affairs are a source of continual vexation, – the probability is that Staunton is neglected by Dr Thomas, who has the management – & think Miss Tyler very probably – how it is Heaven knows, – & unfortunately I am not a man of business, nor could I, I fear, by any exertion make myself such, to find where the fault lies, & rectify it. [3] 

O Cintra! Cintra! – & when those words came from my utmost heart they were not accompanied with the rest of the old German’s exclamation. [4]  That place is the only place in the world which I love better than this, – & very probably I shall never quit this unless it be to reside in Portugal, – where I would willingly go, & take up my abiding place for the remainder of my days. It is not possible to tell you how deeply I love that country, – nor will you perhaps understand it better even when you have seen it, – xxx there are certain scenes in it which I can call up before me even in their actual life – & which are more deeply impressed upon my heart than all others. Happy I am any where (except London) – but here my happiness proceeds wholly from my mind – there I have an animal & bodily happiness, for which my soul thirsts whenever I remember it – aye – even as the hart panteth after the water brooks. [5] 

God bless you my dear Harry

RS.

Monday 23 Feb y 1807.


Notes

* Address: To/ H. H. Southey MD./ 11. Craven Street/ Strand
Postmark: [partial. illegible] FE/ 1807 EY
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Don. D3
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Henry Southey was travelling to Portugal to stay with Herbert Hill. BACK

[2] Southey’s own word ‘kickmanjiggery’ means to decorate or adorn, but here it is used for a pun on Harry’s dancing shoes, which are presumably more elegant than practical. BACK

[3] Herbert Hill owned a living at Staunton-Upon-Wye, Herefordshire, which, while he was in Lisbon, he had left in the care of Dr Thomas, father of his business agent William Bowyer Thomas, who had died in 1802. Southey had previously investigated the payment of tithes on Hill’s estate while he was abroad; see Southey to John May, 14 March 1806 (Letter 1164) and Southey to Charles Danvers, 17 March 1806 (Letter 1166). BACK

[4] In the Quarterly Review, 31 (1824–25), 378–390 (p. 383), in an article on Marianne Baillie (1795?-1830), Lisbon in the Years 1821, 1822 and 1823, Southey writes of ‘the German ambassadors who, in the year 1503, went to Portugal to bring home an empress. But they included the whole country in their exclamations of rapture. “O Portugallia, O Portugallia, bona regio; ibi est abundantia panis, vino et olei boni; et multi fructus arborum, laranges, citrani, malagranata, ficus, pomerente, lemoni, pecora campi, carnes et pisces; mel zucharum in pluribus locis in canis, crescit. O Sintria, amoenissimus locus, et hortus regius, cum parvo fluvio, cum bonis truttis!”’ The Latin translates as: ‘O Portugal, O Portugal, fine country; where there is abundant bread, wine and olives; and many fruits: oranges, citrons, pomegranates, figs, apples, lemons, sheep, meat and fish; in many places sugar canes grow. O Cintra, most delightful of places, and royal garden, with its little river and good trout’. BACK

[5] Psalm 42. BACK

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August 2013