186. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, [after May 1806]


186. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, [after May 1806]* 

Thursday Night

Dear George

The delay of the parcel has enabled me to send you a letter from sister Bet received Thursday in a packet from cousin Isaac to his friends.

You say that you and I did not think just alike as to the preface, very likely not. But we thought alike on the subject of Mr L's eternal additions, and you knew then and was witness in some degree to the dislike of the readers to certain parts of the preface. Of this you and I talked much during the short intercourse we had at Bury and at Honington. I had assured you, as one who would hear it though Mr L would not, that in all companies wherein the subject had been mentioned, the sentiment was the same, invariably the same. I have never seen nor heard the man or woman who, speaking of the subject did not applaud his zeal for me, and at the same time either condemn with anger, or ridicule his want of judgment, his arrogance, or his vanity; just which they happen'd to hit upon, as in their opinion the most applicable. I have several letters by me from unknown hands abusing him for going too far, in particular for his notes at the foot of the page in the Rural Tales, his 'simply pleasing' was to my knowledge a bye word among the young ladies at a boarding school. What ideas they attached to it to make them giggle may easily be divined. I know two high authorities in the Literary world, one of them cut out the notes with his pen knife, and the other would not suffer the copy to enter his library, but destroy'd it when he could procure one that had them not. The former is a friend of CL, and lives at Stamford, and was the man who wrote the Review of my Wild Flowers in the Mirror. [1]  I have had conversations with at least a dozen Gentlemen in different lines of connection at Edenborough who describe the same sentiments strongly expressed there, and as universally as in England. Archer the Great Bookseller at Dublin told me the very same tale of the Literati of the Sister Country, and Stansbury, late a Bookseller at New York gave (voluntarily) the same evidence exactly respecting the people of America, and in the editions of the Rural Tales printed there the notes were left out. I have seen a Gentleman lately from the North of Germany (now in your town) who mentioned to me with peculiar disgust the same hacknied worn out subject. They all cry 'why dont you tell the man he is doing too much?' or something to that effect. Now George what does the little man say to me when I would broach this. Why he says, truly, that I have nothing to do with it! here he is egregiously wrong. Does he forget that I have constantly to hear him ridiculed and abus'd and is this nothing? I do not pretend to assert that two years ago you knew just as well as I did how strong the outcry was against him, but this I assert, that you know a great deal indeed of it, and therefore when your Note* stated to him that the opposers of him and his tyranny were only a few of the 'hangers on' of that Bookseller with whom you knew he had an inveterate quarrel you did, (I hope) more mischief than you intended. that man would listen to Tom Cat if he could flatter him, so dont pretend that you are too obscure and too humble to be able to do mischief. (whether intended or not.) Were I to take it as a risible subject, there is abundance of room for can anyone conceive a poor fellow more universally loaded with hangers on! There is something in that same letter of yours respecting Windham, which from Nats and my own sentiments differ so horribly that I think I shall one day send it you with a few notes, that you may see if I have understood it right or wrong'd you when I deem'd you a turntail and a shufler, and that at a pinch, you would swallow professions by pailfulls and glory in the unhappiness you had wrought. Whatever blame you might have heap'd upon Hood at that time (or this) would be sure to be wellcome at Troston. You will perceive by the tone of this letter that it will be well to send it me again. I am only speaking in it to you, and send the enclosed** too, at any time convenient.

R. B.

* I have sought in vain for the letter I meant to send, it is in my wilderness void. I have no more time

**letter to CL about May 1805

* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 216–17 BACK

[1] Presumably Octavius Gilchrist, an admirer of Bloomfield's work, regular contributor to journals and, in later years, a promoter of John Clare's writing. BACK