June 18, 1815 brought a sigh of relief to FR and all other Victorians. That day the Duke of Wellington effected Napoleon Bonaparte’s final defeat. FR was well aware of Napoleon’s threat to England. She had grown up with French refugees sitting at her father’s table, and no doubt shared all the fears they represented. Even on a pleasure outing it was not far from the mind. In 1805, at age 24, FR toured Cumberland Cavern, and wrote afterwards, “Should the French come, I wonder whether it would be practicable to hide women and children in these caves? or whether the air would become corrupted.”
Twenty years after Waterloo, FR and her cousin reviewed the battle by reading Scott and Byron’s accounts. They followed the action on the pocket-map the cousin’s husband, Colonel Hancox, had used. It was stained with the mud of Waterloo, and showed “marks of the haste and carelessness of the battle-day.” The Colonel himself, “a fine military man,” liked to be led to talk of the campaigns.
For FR, and many others, the Battle of Waterloo divided history into before and after. In 1854 FR wrote of those “born since Waterloo;” and in 1863, near the end of her life, she prefaced a story with, “about the time of Waterloo.”