128a. Capel Lofft to Thomas Hill, 24 May 1804


128a. Capel Lofft to Thomas Hill, 24 May 1804* 

Dear Sir,

I have already intimated to you my Sentiments of the uncommon Merit both in Subject & Execution of the Poem which I now send [1] 

I have therefore only to refer to that Letter [2]  both for my sentiments & for the Poems on which the Author & I wish Mr Hood to undertake the publication

Mr Bloomfield has kindly offered to take charge of the MS

There are little alterations which I might think expedient to make in it: but these I have not at present intimated. Writing as I did in the Saga of the Farmers Boy that it should be first presented as a candidate for publication exactly as it stands [3] 

Mr Bloomfield, I am persuaded, and so is Mrs Lofft, will earn much of true Fame by his poem on vaccine Inoculation. [4]  She has greatly improved it: and we think it an exceedingly interesting & beautiful Poem. The Contagion appears to us most happily appropriate poetical, & graceful.

I am,

Dear Sir,

Yrs sincerely

Capel Lofft.

I rather incline to think that there is truth in Discovery. Mentions of a vast Planet above 1000 & millions of miles beyond the Herschilian. [5]  What is said of its bylaws agrees astronomically with what is said to be its period. I do wonder, however, that they have not seen it at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich: which by a letter from the elder Mr Walker I learn to be a Fact: but far more that they have no information concerning it; which I understand from the same authority. This would startle my belief of it: if the circumstances did not so well cohere.

Thomas Hill Esqr

Thurs: 24 May 1804.

How like you the ode on Negro Emancipation in St Domingo? [6] 

* Tipped in to a copy of George Gordon, Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers: A Satire, vol. II. Illustrated, Collected and Arranged by Arnold Wood. New York: Charles B. Richardson, 1865. This book is located at the James Smith Noel Collection, Louisiana State University in Shreveport. BACK

[1] Here Lofft refers to a manuscript poem by Joseph Bounden. See his letter to Bloomfield of 9 May 1804 (letter 128 above). BACK

[2] Lofft’s letter to Hill on the subject has not been traced. BACK

[3] Lofft’s willingness to let Hood see the manuscript of The Farmer’s Boy exactly as it stood did not prevent him, after Hood had undertaken to publish it, from altering it so as to replace many of Bloomfield’s earthier descriptions and with polite circumlocutions. For the original manuscript text, as reconstituted by Bloomfield in later years, see Robert Bloomfield, Selected Poems, rev. edn., ed. John Goodridge and John Lucas (Nottingham: Trent Editions, 2007). BACK

[4] Good Tidings; or, News from the Farm. BACK

[5] Lofft was a keen astronomer. Here he refers to reports of a new heavenly body much more distant than Uranus, discovered in 1781 by William Herschel (1738-1822). The body to which he refers was most likely Juno whose discovery was formally reported on 1 September 1804, by German astronomer Karl L. Harding. Juno was the third asteroid to be discovered: as with the previous two, Ceres (discovered by Guiseppe Piazzi (1746-1826) in 1801) and Pallas (discovered in 1802 by Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers (1758-1840)), it was at first thought to be a planet; Herschel coined the term ‘asteroid’ to describe these small star-like bodies in 1802. BACK

[6] Lofft, a longtime opponent of the slave trade, had forwarded to Bloomfield a packet containing Thomas Clio Rickman’s ‘An Ode in Celebration of the Emancipation of the Blacks of St Domingo, November 29, 1803’ (1804). This prompted Bloomfield to write to Rickman, a radical pressman and admirer of Thomas Paine, on 29 May. Rickman replied on 30th with an offer to sell Bloomfield’s poem (presumably Good Tidings) from his shop. See letters 129 and 130. BACK