2726. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 February 1816

2726. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 25 February 1816⁠* 

My dear Grosvenor

I had some doubts whether you would like this poem, [1]  & am not a little pleased at having them removed. The Proem I was pretty sure about, – for whoever likes me will like it, – but respecting the rest I did not feel certain.

Run or ran, begun or began, must be allowed as licenses ad libitum. [2]  Our language is not rich enough in rhymes to dispense with this facility.

The three famouses are certainly infamous & I will weed out some of these whenever I can, – you they had not escaped me, the evil is that each is xx good in its place & can very difficultly be replaced. [3]  Read

Far off, Ourique’s consecrated field

whereby we get rid of the word dear also occurring in the next stanza. [4]  Stanza 7 must be omitted & reserved for its original place. [5] 

Belfroy is the old spelling, & I believe the right. [6] 

The stanza concerning Cintra describes exactly the frequent appearance of the evening sea mist, & the picture will be recognized by all who have seen it. It is the Penha-Convent – or Mountain Pile. [7] 

33 A botch to be amended si possum [8] 

Garner good English. [9] 

This great Czar better than the as having more sound [10] 

There is no confusion in Breathed when his pain is more than he can bear, [11]  – as you will perceive.

I do not object to lyeth for lies. And you should remember that I have taken out a license for such things – a low prelusive strain – unambitious song. [12] 

Write eager for martial if you please. My companion Koster is a perfect Centaur for horsemanship, & he observed that these xxxx would blow the cavalry. [13] 

Then was here [14]  is awkward. I mean that the main struggle in that part of the field was at that spot, as on the right it was at Hogoumont. [15]  If you had heard the Mons Dieus which I did upon that occasion you would not objection to one of them in English. [16]  German they may be, [17]  – but they are as true English also in Chevy Chase, & can never be offensive to proper feeling when the subject justified the passionate expression, if any subject can it is a field of battle. [18] 

I have more copy ready, but delay it in hopes of interpolating some stanzas where there seems to be a want of them. The proofs I must see; – I never derive so much pleasure from my own compositions in any other form; & I may make many minor alterations, & many improvements. Rickman will frank them. I shall look for one about Thursday.

God bless you

RS.

Sunday 25 Feby

Notes

* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ Exchequer
Endorsements: 25 Feby 1816; 25 Febrry. 1816
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) of which Southey had sent a draft to Bedford. BACK

[2] ‘With freedom’. BACK

[3] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) retained several uses of this adjective, e.g. Part One, Book 1, ‘Flanders’, stanza 12, line 1, ‘thou famous town’; stanza 32, line 5, ‘the famous ground’. BACK

[4] Part One, Book 1, ‘Flanders’, stanza 7, line 2. ‘Consecrated field’ replaced what Southey had first written: ‘dear ground’. Stanza 8, line 3, contains the phrase ‘one dear girl’. BACK

[5] This stanza was removed from The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816) and became The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale (1816), ‘Proem’, stanza 10. The latter celebrated the marriage of Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1790–1865; King of the Belgians 1831–1865) on 2 May 1816. The lines had originally been written in March–June 1814, as part of fifty stanzas celebrating the engagement of Princess Charlotte to William, Hereditary Prince of Orange (1792–1849; King of the Netherlands 1840–1849). BACK

[6] Southey uses this archaic word for the bell tower in Bruges in The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 1, ‘Flanders’, stanza 19, line 3. BACK

[7] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 1, ‘Flanders’, stanza 22 describes Cintra, Portugal, where Southey had lived in 1801. The Monastery of St Jerome at Penha Longa is a prominent landmark. BACK

[8] ‘If I can’. BACK

[9] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 1, ‘Flanders’, stanza 43, line 5 features ‘garner’ used as a noun. BACK

[10] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 2, ‘Brussels’ stanza 3, line 2 has ‘this great Czar’. BACK

[11] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 2, ‘Brussels’, stanza 12, lines 5–6: ‘The British soldier’s cry, half groan, half prayer/ Breathed when his pain’. BACK

[12] ‘Lyeth’ does not appear in The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). In the ‘Proem’, stanza 22, line 6, Southey refers to his verse as a ‘low prelusive strain’. In Part One, Book 3, ‘The Field of Battle’, stanza 33, line 6, he refers to his ‘unambitious song’. BACK

[13] Referring to The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 3, ‘The Field of Battle’, stanza 19, lines 4–6: ‘Long wave-like dips and swells which intervene/ Such as would breathe the war-horse, and impede/ When that deep soil was wet, his martial speed’. ‘Martial’ was an emendation of ‘charging’. BACK

[14] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 3, ‘The Field of Battle’, stanza 21, line 2 has ‘Here was the heat and’, an emendation of ‘For there was here’. BACK

[15] La Haye Sainte, a farm that was the scene of intense fighting at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. The farm buildings of Hougoumont also saw fierce conflict as the British held them at all costs against repeated French attacks. BACK

[16] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816), Part One, Book 4, ‘The Scene of War’, stanza 6, line 1 begins ‘“O God!” they said’. BACK

[17] The Belgian civilians whose profanities Southey quoted presumably swore in Flemish. BACK

[18] Referring to the late medieval ‘Ballad of Chevy Chase’, based on incidents in the Scottish Borders. For instance, one of its many versions contains the lines: ‘O Christ! It was great grief to see,/ How each man chose his spear,/ And how the blood out of their breasts/ Did gush like water clear.’ BACK

People mentioned

Rickman, John (1771–1840) (mentioned 1 time)
Koster, Henry (1793–1820) (mentioned 1 time)

Places mentioned

Cintra [Sintra] (mentioned 1 time)

Exports

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