By tracing Elizabeth Cobbold and her poem “Ode on the Victory of Waterloo” (1815) through each facet of the Stainforth Library project, we learn that Cobbold’s work is in conversation with canonical male poets Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Robert Southey (Poet Laureate at the time), and others. To date, her work has not received equal critical attention to theirs. For example, her work is not listed in Romantic Circles’ British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815 (ed. Betty T. Bennet, tech. ed. Orianne Smith), an anthology that because of its electronic medium is not pressed for space.
Digitizing Rev. Stainforth’s manuscript enables contemporary scholars to learn about this poem and know that it was available to readers in the early decades of the 19th century, when Stainforth collected his library. A scholar or student searching in Gale’s digital edition of the catalog — the auctioneers’ edition by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge — will not find Elizabeth Cobbold, as the OCR quality is too poor to locate her by searching on her name. Furthermore, Gale’s version of Stainforth’s library, the auctioneers’ version, adds a novel (The Sword) that Stainforth did not collect and omits the shelf-marks and value system that the collector assigned to her works.
Studying Stainforth’s manuscript and digitizing this resource and the texts it lists will recover, among many under-studied writers and works, several volumes of Cobbold’s that were in circulation in the 19th century but that have not been anthologized or received much critical scholarly attention. Significantly, we learn that Cobbold’s “Ode on the Victory of Waterloo” (1815) should be analyzed as one part of the concert of poems published in 1815 about Waterloo. These major, canonical works are linked below and they include:
- Sir Walter Scott’s “The Field of Waterloo” (1815)
- George Gordon Lord Byron’s “The Eve of Waterloo,” in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (Canto III, 1816)
- William Thomas Fitzerald’s “Wellington’s Triumph: or, The Battle of Waterloo” (1815)
- Edmund Lewis Smith’s “Waterloo, a Poem” (1815)
- Robert Southey’s “Poet’s Pilgrimage to Waterloo” (1816)
- George Croly’s “Paris in 1815” (1817)
More recovery and analysis needs to be done on this topic and I hope the Stainforth Library project encourages this work.