191. Robert Bloomfield to the Earl of Buchan, 15 September 1806


191. Robert Bloomfield to the Earl of Buchan, 15 September 1806* 

Shepherd & Shepherdess, City Road, London

Sep 15. 1806

My Lord,

Messrs Longman & Rees, to whom you sometime since addrest a letter containing your Lordships approbation of my 'Wild Flowers', and an intended address to the readers of that little collection, allmost immediately communicated to me the papers, and left it to me to determine upon the possibility of adopting your intended plan of doing honour to me and my Book. [1]  I thus conceived that themselves, to whom the communication was made, were bound to reply; but I fear myself so implicated that to neglect stating to your Lordship my motives and my feelings individually would be an unbecoming omition on my part, and such as would after give me pain.

I therefore beg your Lordship's attenton for a moment. It will be observed that the Dedication to my Boy (who is eight years old this day) contains more meaning than is there exprest. I have with great truth spoken there of a 'peculiar delicacy', and I since feel it more than I did at that time. To adopt your plan, great and honourable as it is, would involve consequences that I cannot explain. One of the most difficult tasks that arises from my extraordinary situation, for such perhaps with great truth I may call it, is so to act as not to wound the feelings of my good and voluntary friends, nor to violate my own. The Letter I long ago addrest to your Lordship is such perhaps as I ought not to be ashamed of, and such that no person would believe me did I pretend to it. But though I feel the intended honour, I feel too, other sensations that many perhaps could suppress: I feel that it would be a violation of my notions of delicacy to print it now. My object has been to abide by the most simple methods of acquiring reputation, the standing alone, as far as my abilities go, and as far as it can be done in justice to my friends. Thus it has happened that of the many letters which I have had from his Grace the Duke of Grafton, Sir C Bunbury &c, one from the Duke of York, and one from that most great, and most lamented man, Mr Fox, that none of them have been made use of, though, as well as those from your Lordship of a nature highly to be prized, they would have made a proud and conspicuous figure attach'd to any one of my publications. I know not which most to admire, your Lordships candour in stating your opinion of my poems, or your long remembrance of one so distant, and so much longer silent than your kind letters formerly would fairly warrant.

A second edition of five thousand copies of 'Wild Flowers', is just now publishing, and if the reasons for omitting your honoured testimony which I have here given, do not speak for themselves, I despair of convincing your Lordship that I have not slighted the great and worthy offer you made as much to my honour, but much more to your own.

I trust both your discernment and your benevolence.

Be pleased to give my particular thanks to the party, most probably a Lady, who copied my Letter in a handwriting that has been universally admired, and which I certainly never saw equal'd.

My poor Boy still goes with a Crutch, God grant that it may be hereafter a 'Broken Crutch'. [2]  He is healthy, and my own spark of life, supported by exercise, wears tolerably well.

Four thousand copies as a ninth edition of the Farmer's Boy, are now going through the press, and the same number of the 'Rural Tales' are immediately to follow.

I cannot conclude without informing your Lordship, whom I know to be possessd of a love for nature's music, and a fund of fancys, that I have lately taken up a new and most agreeable trade, that of constructing Eolian Harps. I am become rather dextrous in the use of the plane and the glue-pot, and find a demand that I am hardly able to satisfy. Can any thing in Nature, or even in imagination, exceed the tone of that simple instrument? Your unrivalld Thompson knew it well. Witness his Castle of Indolence, the finest lines that can possible be written on the subject.

Ah me, what hand can touch the strings so fine?
Who up the lofty diapason roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine
Then let them down again into the soul?

&c. [3] 

With the most lively sense of gratitude to your Lordship, and with true respects to all friends beyond the Tweed,

I am My Lord Your very Humble Servant

Robt Bloomfield

* Bodelian Library MS Don.c.56, ff. 11–12 BACK

[1] For details of Buchan's proposal see Letters 178 and 181. BACK

[2] An allusion to Bloomfield's own poem 'The Broken Crutch. A Tale' from Wild Flowers (pp. 51–74). BACK

[3] Lines 361–363 of Thomson's, The Castle of Indolence. (See Letter 188, note 6). BACK