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The Collected Letters of Robert Southey Part 4: 1810-1815

2671. Robert Southey to John Murray, [22 November 1815]⁠* 

My dear Sir

This morning I received a note from Mr Gifford, & as soon as might be I went to James Street & saw him. He leaves every thing to me, but says the sheets are in the printers hands. I intreat you lose no time in getting these sheets & sending them to me. I will not sleep till I have all that is necessary on my part is done. I will expunge all mention which I have made of the Dukes having been surprized, & will allude to Gneisenaus report & the Rhenish Mercury in a proper manner, [1]  but as to affirming that there was no surprize, & detracting from the Prussians, refusing them the praise which is their due, this I never will do, nor suffer myself in any way to be made instrumental in doing. – I called at the Admiralty but Mr Croker was not there. This is of no consequence. The matter is in my hands, & the points at stake are my consistency (for it must be remembered that I am about to write upon this battle in verse, [2]  & to add xx such prose as may be needful), – & the character of your journal, – which in my hands is safe. [3] 

believe me my dear Sir

Wednesday 3 o clock.


Notes

* Address: To/ John Murray Esqr
Endorsement: no date/ Southey, R
MS: National Library of Scotland, MS 42550
Unpublished.
Dating note: this letter is probably written on the ‘Wednesday’ following Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 November 1815, once Southey had received a reply from Gifford that informed him the Duke of Wellington was requesting changes in his article in the Quarterly Review. BACK

[1] Southey had been asked to change his review of Eustache-Auguste Carel (1788–1836), Précis Historique de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1808 à 1814 (1815); Jean Sarrazin (1770–1848), Histoire de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal, de 1807 à 1814 (1814); General View of the Political State of France, and of the Government of Louis XVIII (1815); An Answer to the Calumniators of Louis XVIII (1815); Official Accounts of the Battle of Waterloo (1815); Lieutenant-General W. A. Scott (dates unknown), Battle of Waterloo (1815), Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 448–526. In particular, he seems to have been asked to remove any mention that Wellington had been surprised by the movements of the French forces, and to clarify statements on Prussian accounts of the battle. These included, the report on Waterloo issued by the Prussian commander August Wilhelm Antonius, Count Neidhardt von Gneisenau (1760–1831). Its pro-Prussian slant was defended by Southey in Quarterly Review, 13 (July 1815), 507n. The same note went on to attack the ‘libellers in the Rhenish Mercury, who attempt to depreciate the merits and the glory of the Duke of Wellington, and endeavour to support their calumnies by the authority of this official paper, – their conduct will only excite the contempt of the British army, and the indignation of the Prussians’ (507n). BACK

[2] The Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo (1816). BACK

[3] Southey was clearly unhappy with changes made by Croker to his review; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 November 1815, Letter 2670. William Gifford, whilst acknowledging the merit of Southey’s article, observed that Southey had failed to notice several of Croker’s emendations; see the summary of correspondence between Gifford and Murray in Jonathan Cutmore, The Quarterly Review Archive. BACK

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August 2013