April 1. 1800.
My dear Coleridge,
The day of our departure is now definitely fixed. We leave
Bristol next week, on Thursday. I do not wish to see you before we go; the time
is too short, and, moreover, the company of a friend who is soon to be left for
a long absence is not desirable. A few words upon business. For the Third
Davy and Danvers will be my delegates:
should you be in Bristol, of course the plenipotentiaryship is vested in you.
The Chatterton subscription  will not fill in less than twelve months: if illness or aught
more cogent detain me beyond that period, I pray you to let that duty devolve
upon you; there will be nothing but the task of arrangement. Danvers has a copy of Madoc.  The written books of Thalaba will be left with Wynn.  A man when he goes
abroad should make his will; and this is all my wealth: be my executor, in case
I am summoned upon the grand tour of the universe, and do with them, and with
whatever you may find of mine, what may be most advantageous for Edith, for my brothers Henry and Edward, and for my mother.
There is not much danger in a voyage to Lisbon; my illness
threatens little, and faith will probably render the proposed remedy
efficacious. In Portugal I shall have but little society; with the English there
I have no common feeling. Of course I shall enjoy enough leisure for all my
employments. My uncle has a
good library, and I shall not find retirement irksome.
Our summer will probably be passed at Cintra, a place which may be deemed a cool
paradise in that climate. I do not look forward to any circumstance with so much
emotion as to hearing again the brook which runs by my uncle’s door. I never beheld
a spot that invited to so deep tranquillity. My purposed employments you know.
The History  will be a great and serious work, and I shall labour at
preparing the materials assiduously. The various journies necessary in that
pursuit will fill a journal, and grow into a saleable volume. On this I
calculate: this is a harvest which may be expected; perhaps also a few mushrooms
may spring up.
If peace will permit me, I shall return along the south of Spain
and over the Pyrenees. Edith little
likes her expedition; she wants a female companion, but this cannot be had, and
she must learn to be contented without one: moreover, there is at Lisbon a lady
of her own age,  for whom I have a
considerable regard, and who will not be sorry to see once more an acquaintance
with more brains than a calf. She will be our neighbour. My uncle also is a man for whom
it is impossible not to feel affection. I wish we were there; the journey is
troublesome, and the voyage shockingly unpleasant, from sickness and the
constant feeling of insecurity: however, if we have but mild weather, I shall
not be displeased at one more lesson in sea scenery.
I should willingly have seen Moses again: when I return
he will be a new being, and I shall not find the queer boy whom I have been
remembering. God bless him! We are all changing; one wishes sometimes that God
had bestowed upon us something of his immutability. Age, infirmities, blunted
feelings, blunted intellect, these are but comfortless expectancies! but we
shall be boys again in the next world.
Coleridge, write often to me. As you must
pay English postage, write upon large paper; as I must pay
Portuguese by weight, let it be thin. My direction need only be, with the Rev. Herbert Hill, Lisbon; he
has taken a house for us. We shall thus govern ourselves, and the plea of
illness will guarantee me from cards and company and ball-rooms! No! no! I do
not wear my old cocked hat again! it cannot, certainly, fit me now.
I take with me for the voyage your poems, the Lyrics, the Lyrical
Ballads, and Gebir;  and, except a few books designed for presents, these make
all my library. I like Gebir more and more: if you ever meet its author, tell
him I took it with me on a voyage.
God bless you!
* MS: MS
untraced; text is taken from Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.), Life and
Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols (London,
Previously published: Charles Cuthbert Southey (ed.),
Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, 6 vols
(London, 1849–1850), II, pp. 53–56 [in part]; Adolfo Cabral (ed.),
Robert Southey: Journals of a Residence in Portugal 1800–1801 and
a Visit to France 1838 (Oxford, 1960), pp. 69–71 [in
 A successor to
Annual Anthology (1800), which never appeared. BACK
 Southey and
Cottle’s edition of The Works of Thomas Chatterton
 A fair copy of the 15-book
Madoc 1797–1799; now Beinecke Library, Tinker MS
 The first eight books of Thalaba the Destroyer
(1801); now National Library of Wales, MS 1487A. BACK
 Southey’s unfinished ‘History
of Portugal’. BACK
 Possibly Ann Tonkin
(dates unknown), daughter of Lisbon-based friends of Herbert Hill. Southey had
met her during his first visit to Portugal. BACK
Poems (1797); an unidentified edition of Robert Burns
(1759–1796; DNB); Coleridge and Wordsworth, Lyrical
Ballads (1798); Walter Savage Landor, Gebir
(1798); see Robert Southey to Samuel Taylor Coleridge,  May ,
Letter 516. BACK