M. S. Jayne
Diplomatic and General History
Few Minister Plenipoteniaries can have made a more informal entry into Lisbon than did Sir Robert Southwell when he came to take up his post there in early January 1666. No gilded barge awaited the arrival of the man-of war, nor was there a line of gilded coaches along the shore ready to convey him and his household to the Embassy, where an interminable banquet would be consumed in an equally interminable tête-à-tête by himself and the high Court official told off to welcome him.
In place of all this ceremony and splendour the warship on which he had been given a passage paused off Cape Roca just long enough for him to transfer himself and his modest suite to "a small vessel carrying fish", so that the Fleet should not be delayed on its way to Cadiz. The little ship in question was a small Barnstable barque belonging to one, Robert Hoxland, and in one of his earliest letters to the Council, Southwell asks permission for this man to go to Newfoundland, mentioning that he and his party were kept on board for three days and very kindly treated.
The delay seems to have been occasioned by the Portuguese reluctance to let him land till they had assured themselves that he and his company were free from the plague; for the horror of the visitation which had devastated London the previous summer was still fresh in men's minds. They were not allowed to come ashore (Southwell relates) «till we had first thrown out our arms "and legs and drummed upon our bellies, and cut capers to attest our health, which we fairly «performed in our turn before good witnesses.
These I could name at length because everyone of «the Town Council would satisfy their curiosity and know how I was before they would let me land."
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