2700. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 January 1816

2700. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 19 January 1816⁠* 

Keswick. 19 Jany. 1816.

My dear Grosvenor

If I had answered your letter instanter, it would have peradventure been half angrily, – some of your arguments being more of a nature to provoke than to dissuade. In truth it surprized me that you should attach so much importance to what appeared to me of no public importance whatever, – no person to whom I had mentioned the intended title having expressed the slightest surprise at it. [1]  I believed that the D. would feel it, & C. but no person else; – as it is very certain that what has past must make those personages dislike & respect me in an equal degree, I cared nothing about displeasing them farther. [2]  – However you may be well assured that the disposition of your letter could not be misunderstood, Rickman thinks as you do, – & in a matter which really is so unimportant it never can be worth while to act in opposition to the wish of any person whom we like or respect. Be it then A Pilgrimage to Waterloo, – the line about the wrongful name shall be altered, [3]  – but I shall not alter those passages in which the field of battle is called the Field of Fair Alliance, [4]  – because nothing can be more happy for verse. I have now written more than 1000 verses – & have only one part or canto more to write. No more at present, – for I must write by this post to Mr Nash, who has never received the letter which I wrote to Paris. The sooner the drawings are in the engravers [5]  hands the better –



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsement:19 January 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 2p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Southey strongly objected to calling the battle of 18 June 1815 ‘Waterloo’, as Wellington wished, and preferred to name it ‘La Belle Alliance’, the designation favoured by the Prussian commander, Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742–1819); hence he initially wished to designate his poem, The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) as ‘The Poet’s Pilgrimage to La Belle Alliance’. BACK

[2] Croker, with Wellington’s approval, had made a number of interpolations into Southey’s article on the battle in the Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526; see Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 15 December 1815, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey. Part Four, Letter 2682. BACK

[3] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 3, ‘The Field of Battle’, stanza 3, lines 5–6 were changed from ‘Obscure till now when it hath risen to fame/ Usurping wrongfully the battles name’ to ‘Obscure till now, when it hath risen to fame,/ And given the victory its English name’. BACK

[4] This phrase does not occur in the published poem, though there is a reference to the ‘Fair Alliance’ of Britain and Prussia in The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 4, stanza 35, line 6. BACK

[5] George Cooke (1781–1834), engraver. BACK

People mentioned

Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852) (mentioned 1 time)
Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)
Nash, Edward (1778–1821) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Keswick (mentioned 1 time)