10. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 16 September 1798


10. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 16 September 1798* 

London, Sunday, Sep 16. 1798

Dear George,

I gave you a hint long ago that I was making rhymes. I now send the poem as a present to my Mother. It coming through your hands you will be at liberty to detain it as long as you please, and I have no doubt but some parts of it will please you. I would wish you to observe well the following remarks, and I wish you to be candid, if it should ever draw any remarks from you.

When I began it, I thought to myself that I could compleat it in a twelvemonth, allowing myself three months for each quarter; but I soon found that I could not, and indeed I made it longer than I at first intended.* Nine tenths of it was put together as I sat at work, where there are usually six of us; no one in the house have any knowledge of what I have employed my thoughts about when I did not talk.

I chose to do it in rhime for this reason; because I found allways that when I put two or three lines together in blank verse, or something that sounded like it, it was a great chance if it stood right when it came to be wrote down, for blank verse have ten syllables in a line, and this particular I could not adjust, nor bear in memory as I could rhimes. Winter, and half of Autumn were done long before I could find leisure to write them. In the Harvest Home you will find the essence of letters you have wrote formerly to London.

When I had nearly done it, it came strongly into my mind that very silly things are somtimes printed, but by what means I know not. To try and get at this knowledge I resolved to make some efforts of the sort; and what encouraged me to go through with it was, that if I got laugh'd at, no one that I cared for could know it, unless I myself told them. I somtimes thought of venturing it into the house of some person above a Bookseller; but I never could find impudence enough to do it. So I carried it, accompanied with the following letter, to your magazine man. He kept it eight or ten days, and then sent a sober-looking, book-faced man back with it, sending therewith the little note which follows the letter. [1] 

* The parts of the poem first composed, before any thought was entertained of going through with the Seasons, were the morning scene in Spring, beginning 'This task had Giles,' and the description of the lambs at play. And if it be lawful for an author to tell his opinion, they have never lost an inch of ground from that day to this. —

* BL Add. MS 28266, ff. 85–8 (autograph copy); published in 1809, as accompanying the Farmer's Boy MS, pp. xx–xxii BACK

[1] The 'magazine man' was almost certainly W. Bent of the Universal Magazine. See Letters 6–9 to and from various booksellers. BACK