180a. Robert Bloomfield to Sir Charles Bunbury, 25 March 1806


180a. Robert Bloomfield to Sir Charles Bunbury, 25 March 1806* 

City Road , March 25, 1806


I think you will pardon my thus writing to you instead of calling, when I inform you that a violent cold has caused me several fits of the headache, and I cannot this wet day persuade myself to venture out.

Your zeal in my service  [1]  entitled you to an earlier intimation of its success; but convinced as I am, that you, sir, know well that the great and fashionable part of the world are not so easy of access as yourself, I anticipate rather a smile at my adventures than that you will feel any thing like disappointment.

Mr Windham was too much engaged to see me. The Earl of Carlisle  [2]  sent a message to the same effect, but added, that if I could call any morning in the following week he would be glad to speak with me. Accordingly, I took a charming walk in Hyde Park, and call’d a second time, when his lordship sent down for my address, and said he should see Sir Charles Bunbury.

On the same day, at half-past one, I met with a civil reception from the servants at Devonshire House. But the duchess  [3]  was not up. I therefore left your letter and the book; [4]  perhaps herein I acted wrong—but I felt at that instant as if I should be much happier out of the house than in.

I had all along a great desire to see Mr. Fox, and therefore twice declined calling, because there appear’d several carriages at the door,  [5]  and because I conceived that, as I have as little as possible the appearance of a minister of state,  [6]  the porter would not think me of importance enough to attend to. But feeling that my first objection was of a kind not likely to be avoided by waiting, I at last called when some gentleman, whose carriage stood at the door, was probably engaged with Mr Fox, and I had an intimation to that purpose; I had however so far antici¬pated my fortune, and so far disclosed my mind in a note enclosed, as to say that ‘I ought for my country’s sake to wish that he might not find time to read the poems.’  [7] 

Thus, Sir, I have told you my adventures with a bluntness of expression which I hope will bear with it its own apology. And with admiration of your frankness, and all the esteem that condescension is capable of inspiring.

I am, Sir,

Your very humble servant,


To Sir Charles Bunbury.

* MS untraced. The text is taken from the transcript published in Sir Henry Bunbury (ed.), The Correspondence of Sir Thomas Hanmer, Bart., Speaker of the House of Commons, with a Memoir of his Life to Which is Added Other Relicks of a Gentleman’s Family (London, 1838), pp. 448–50. The editors thank Angus Whitehead for bringing this letter to light: see Whitehead, ‘“I anticipate rather a smile at my adventures”: an unrecorded letter from Robert Bloomfield to Sir Charles Bunbury’, Notes and Queries, 61 (2014), 73–76. BACK

[1] See Letters 28, 32 and 191 for Bunbury’s previous interest in Bloomfield’s writing and exertions on his behalf. He had now provided Bloomfield with letters of introduction to influential Whig patrons of his acquaintance. BACK

[2] Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825). Howard’s London residence was at 12 Grosvenor Place, Knightsbridge. Howard was the guardian of Byron, with whom he fell out; if he did indeed support Bloomfield this may account for Byron’s attack on Bloomfield, Nathaniel Bloomfield and Capel Lofft in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers; a Satire, 2nd edn (London, 1809), pp. 59–60. BACK

[3] Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757–1806), wife of the 5th Duke. The Duchess was a patron of poets and herself a poet. Like Carlisle, she was a member of the circle of powerful Whig aristocrats in which Bunbury and Bloomfield’s local patron, the 3rd Duke of Grafton, also belonged. The Devonshires’ London residence, Devonshire House, stood in Picadilly. BACK

[4] Probably a presentation copy of Bloomfield’s new collection Wild Flowers; or, Pastoral and Local Poetry (London, 1806). BACK

[5] In 1806 Fox lived—and died—at Chiswick House, west London, a residence loaned him by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. BACK

[6] Fox was Foreign Secretary. BACK

[7] For the note Bloomfield left on this occasion see Letter 177, Robert Bloomfield to Charles James Fox, 7 March 1806. The visit, therefore, must have been made on that day. BACK