115. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 21 September 1803


115. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 21 September 1803* 

London Sep 21. 1803

Dear George

On account of the weather and other considerations, I dare not accept an invitation to take a cheap ride to Durham, which under other circumstances would be delightful. It is an author traveling for statistical information and I don't know enough about him.—The account which I have received of our sister Bets and which perhaps you have heard from Nat, is, that she is in a [illegible word] trade in Milinerary and Bonnets, works for a good [illegible word] he has a promising appearance as to business, and lives [illegible words]fth Street I have written to her and shall expect to hear from her as I trust that the conveyance will be strictly honourable; as I have address'd the letter inclosed to Mr Charles Wilson Peale, Museum, Philadelphia; who is father to the proprietor of the Mammoth, who with his Mammoth and his paintings is now at Bristol on his return to America, and who will most probably cary the letter himself. [1] 

I have not received a farthing, for my Seal Office job. Nor seen Mr Allen but once since my return from Woolwich. I am highly gratified at Mr Lofft's calling on my Mother because I know she would be gratified by it.

I ocasionally mend and make shoes for my family, and then write letters, compose, read, sing, sigh, nurse, &c as the spirit dictates.

You will find; I hope, that I have thus far endeavour'd manfully to get the pastoral noticed by the public, [2]  but my introductions are crampt; and the public mind so engaged about War and Bloodshed that I begin to doubt much that the lowly and charming eloquence of that piece will never be heard. Mr Lofft justly says that it would succeed if it was accepted by the managers, but I doubt that he is not aware of the difficulties to be overcome in getting it accepted: there lies the point, nothing on my part shall be wanting either in walks or in impudence, at least more of it than I could use if the piece was my own.

I lately dined in company with Dr Aikin and his son Arthur, who is Editor of the Annual Review, and who in that work by the bye, has given my neighbour Holloway and some others a very indiferent 'character from their last place.' Nats poems are not noticed there, nor mine of course; for they did not come into last year's literature. I was anxious to see men so famous in the world of Books; But though Mr Rogers at whose table we met behaved with his usual kindness Dr A and Son would have known just as much of me had I been looking through a gimblet hole in the wainscot, and I should have made as good a figure in the company. Neither of them ask'd one question of any kind nor gave a moment's chance for poor Giles to mix his mud with the unceasing stream of erudition that flowd copiously for four hours. I eat a good dinner, but soon found that I was in the wrong box. Yet, I was invited there and they were no more. Now all this might happen without any intention on their side. Dr A. drank to me in common on taking the first glass of wine; else I should have concluded that he did not know I was there. They are professd Criticks, and perhaps they served me right for being among them; but if they will but pardon me this first time I will not offend again. During the first hour I felt pain, but during the rest of the evening pride kindly came to my assistance and from that moment instead of feeling myself little, I grew to a most noble and patagonian [3]  nature, from which I could scarcely reduce myself for many days after; and which enabled me at the moment to turn a deaf ear to the contended merits of Demosthenes and Cicero, the Borhavians in medicine, and the &c &c &c &c—and to set and compose verses 'to my Old Oak table', which by the bye is a far better companion to me, as I will make appear, than Dr. A and his son put together. [4]  If they were previously ofended with me or any one connected with me it is more than I know. If I did chance to smell of wax as I had been mending my Children's shoes in the morning I might be disagreeable without knowing it; but if a man invited to a neighbour's table finds there one inferior to him in knowledge and wealth, and takes care to let him see that he thinks so, my soul despises that man: and I had allmost said that God allmighty was jesting when he made him.—Pardon my warmth George you know me. If this sees the daylight I shall have them about my ears.—Love to my Mother and to your Children



* Houghton Library, Harvard College, autograph file BACK

[1] Charles Wilson Peale, proprietor of a museum of art and 'natural curiosities' in Philadelphia, had been touring Britain showing the fossilized bones of a mammoth unearthed in New York State. Peale's son Rembrandt Peale, a student in London, painted Bloomfield's portrait for his father's 'portrait factory' in Philadelphia. Thomas Inskip wrote of it: 'Mr. Bloomfield himself told me that the most correct likeness of him ever painted was done by Peele, son to the proprietor of the Mammoth. He painted it while resident in England and took it away with him to America after promising it to the author', The Bedfordshire Times, 6 May 1904. BACK

[2] A reference to Nathaniel Bloomfield's play (see Letters 113, 114 and 117). BACK

[3] The Patagonians were reputedly of giant stature. BACK

[4] 'To My Old Oak Table' was published in Wild Flowers, pp. 21–29. BACK