225. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 22 January 1808


225. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 22 January 1808* 

City Road, London

Jan 22. 1808

Dear Madam

Thanks for your excellent letter.

I think that amongst all the pleasures we derive from Biography that there is manifestly a great injustice done to the correspondents of those who happen to have their letters collected and published. The poor poets epistles are exhibited, but the epistles he receives are kept out of sight, though such epistles perhaps were the chief agents in eliciting the very thoughts and diction of his own. I am led into these reflections from recently perusing Southey's 'Remains of H. K.White'. [1]  If you have not seen this masterly memoir and contemplated the character of the person it celebrates you have a treat to come which I should be sorry you should miss.

I lent Mrs Grant's poems to Miss Ansted who returned it with the note and memorandum which you will find in the volum. I esteem the notes to the poems, and the fine picture of Highland manners exhibited through the work. [2]  Though, as her letters are so good, I am not certain that her poetry will set her in a new light to you, who have relished the prose first.

Your account of Miss Cooper is indeed a subject on which I have allmost got 'the horrors'. You will see that I have ventured to write to her: having promised a tune which I cannot get. Hers is a dangerous age, and liable to the seeds of decline. I hope for all their sakes she will escape this bout, and take care of herself. N.B. I have mentioned in my letter to her, nothing of you (cause of her illness). I have sent her a song &c.—

And now for the accompanying packet &c—I have already said that your book has given me much pleasure and amusement and I return it, I hope, undamaged. With respect to what I have done from it, I wish to remind you again that I never did but one copy in Indian Ink before I had your Book, and therfore had some trouble, and found perseverance a highly necessiry quality.* I have done them all by candlelight. You will find two or three in your book which for different reasons I did not attempt, that of the upstream end of Chepstow Castle I thought I never could do so as to satisfy myself. The view in the Wye meadows is my worst—but it being but the second on the list, and the view of Mitchel Dean the last, I keep up my courage boldly. Have mercy on my own scratches from fancy, and be as favourable as you can towards the two that I have done from my drawings on the spot. They are both erroneous in point of perspective, and I have in many instances made the distances too dark.

The prose journal might be materially amended as to a whole, but I set no store by it but as a string of memorandums. Some parts are obscure and some too much in immediate relation to yourself and friends, to be read generally. These I think are necessary provisos between you and I, that you may not think that I have aimed at perfection. If you judge that my book could give a moments pleasure to the Lasses of Ferney Hill let them see it, for the more criticism I have on my attempts, the better I can feel my own ground.

The frost is intensely severe and we are hovering over the fire at the close of day. All well. I could, methinks, moralise over the situation of those who have a scarcity of food and fuel!—You mention the pitiable situation of such as spend sleepless hours in bed. This seldom falls to my lot, but my sleep is, as I have often told you, full of the most hideous workings of fancy whenever I am disturbed by vexation, or unwell. I am now happily free from both.

I rather think that when this letter is gone I shall recollect somthing or other which I meant to have said, but as it will not come to hand now, I only add my respects to all your house, and particularly to the younger objects of your affection. What would you think of having a ride in Powels Cart [3]  such a day as this? May you be allways happy up hill and down dale, is the wish of your

Much honour'd and oblidged

Rob Bloomfield

*recollect that I did not attempt my own until I had practised by copying more than twenty of yours.

* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 249–50 BACK

[1] The Remains of H. K. W. With an Account of his Life by R. Southey, 3 vols. (London, 1808–22), including some of the private correspondence of another labouring-class poet closely associated with The Monthly Mirror. BACK

[2] Anne Grant's The Highlanders: and Other Poems. See Letter 224. BACK

[3] Powell's cart: a reference to the ascent of the Sugar Loaf mountain, near Abergavenny, in the cart of their local guide. BACK