236. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 25 March 1809


236. Robert Bloomfield to Mary Lloyd Baker, 25 March 1809* 

City Road. Friday Night half past ten

My Dear Madam

You will wonder, I know you will, at my silence and perhaps ascribe it to ill-health, but I thank God I have no such current coin to offer as an apology. I am indeed much better, and have even begun to sing, I don't mean sing in rhyming composition, but, as the children say 'right earnest singing'. My back behaves pretty decently within the last fortnight, and don't you see the buds coming? I congratulate you with a true heart on your arrival with the Bairne, and you will jog the elbow of Mr B. with my respects even though he should be pondering on Saxon architecture. By the bye, Storer and Greig, the engravers, have given me four little volms, the 'Topographical Cabinet' which show in very highly finished miniature some of the best remains in the island. [1]  My daughter has written out Robin Grey which I formerly mentiond and here it is if you turn the paper. I think now that I shall be able to see you on Thursday next, perhaps not, I have several things to accomplish first, and the more I write here the less I shall have to talk, so good night, Catherine and Mary Ann are now fast asleep, and ditto, three of mine. I am not bent upon Thursday, and therefore open to remonstrance from you.

R Bloomfield

Continuation of Auld Robin Grey

The spring it was past, it was summer, nae mair,
And thinly were scatter'd the leaves in the air:
Oh winter, says Jenny, we kindly agree,
For the sun he looks wae, when he shines upon me.

Nae langer she grat, for her tears were a spent,
Despair it was come, and she thought it content:
She thought it content, but her cheek it look'd pale,
And she droop'd like the snowdrops broke down by the hail.

Her mither was vex'd and her father was wae;
What ails you my bairn? They would oftentimes say;
Your wheel ye turn round and ye cause little speed,
Your hand it grows feeble, and weak is your thread.

She smiled when she heard them, to banish their fear;
But sad looks the smile, that is seen through a tear
And bitter the tear that is forc'd by a love,
Which virtue and honour can never approve.

Her father was vex'd and her mither was wae,
But dowie, and silent sat auld Robin Grey;
He spake not a word, and his cheek it grew lean,
Like the side of a brae where the torrent had been.

Nae questions he ask'd her concerning her health,
He look'd at her often, but aye 'twas by stealth;
Then his heart it grew grit, and after he figur'd
To gang to the door, to see if it rain'd

Syne he took to his bed, no physick he sought:
He ordered his neighbours around to be brought,
While Jenny supported his head in its place,
Her tears trickled down, and fell on his face.

Oh! Kill me not, Jenny, said auld Robin grey,
I have not deserved this—I have something to say:
I knew not, dear Jenny, I knew not your vow;
In mercy forgive me,—'twas I stole the cow.

I valued not Crummy, I thought best of thee,
I thought it was her stood between you and me
While she fed your parents, oh! Did nae ye say,
Ye never would marry that auld Robin Grey

Taken from the Censura Literaria for December 1808, [2] 

* I find that I have been writing on the right and not on the wrong side of the sheets and I acknowledge it thus that the Song should retain some meaning at least; And now I have taken up 'Stumpy' again I will add that my boy is every way as well as he was before.—I told your Father that I had got a man to attend him who bears the name of the 'honest Doctor', (no reflections) And I believe I shall find him such, for, whether from the apparent attatchment to Charles or his Father's name, or from his own conscience I know not, I find that his whole share is A Guinea !!!!!!

God Bless you All.——

* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 265–66 BACK

[1] Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet, Containing a Series of Elegant Views [engraved by J. S. Storer and John Greig] of the Most Interesting Objects of Curiosity in Great Britain. Accompanied with Letter-Press Descriptions, 10 vols. (London, 1807–11). BACK

[2] Sir Egerton Brydges, Censura Literaria: Containing Titles, Abstracts, and Opinions of Old English Books, with Original Disquisitions, Articles of Biography, and other Literary Antiquities, 10 vols. (London, 1805–9). 'The Continuation of Auld Robin Grey' text:

The spring had pass'd over, 'twas summer nae mair,
And trembling were scatter'd the leaves in the air:
'Oh winter!' said Jenny, 'we kindly agree,
For wae looks the sun when he shines upon me.'

Nae langer she wept, her tears were a' spent—
Despair it had come, and she thought it content;
She thought it content, but her cheek was grown pale,
And she droop'd like a lily bent down by the hail.

Her father was sad, and her mother was wae,
But silent and thoughtfu' was Auld Robin Gray;
He wander'd his lane, and his face look'd as lean
As the side of a brae where the torrents have been.

He gaed to his bed, but nae physic wou'd take,
And often he said, 'It is best, for her sake.'
While Jenny supported his head as he lay,
Her tears trickled down upon Auld Robin Gray.

O, greet nae mair, Jenny,' said he, wi' a groan;
'I'm no worth your sorrow—the truth maun be known!
Send round for our neighbours; my hour it draws near,
And I've that to tell that it's fit a' should hear.

'I've wrong'd her,' he said, 'but I kent it o'er late;
'I've wrong'd her, and sorrow is speeding my date.
But a's for the best, since my death will soon free
A faithfu' young heart, that was ill match'd wi' me.

'I loved and I courted her mony a day;
The auld folks were for me, but still she said nae.
I kentna o' Jamie, nor yet of her vow;
In mercy forgive me!—'twas I stole the cow!

'I cared not for Crummie; I thought but o' thee!
I thought it was Crummie stood 'twixt you and me.
While she fed your parents, oh! did you not say,
You never would marry wi' Auld Robin Gray?

'But sickness at hame, and want at the door,
You gied me your hand, while your heart it was sore.
I saw it was sore—why took I her hand?
Oh! that was a deed to cry shame o'er the land.

'But truth, soon or late, it comes ever to light;
For Jamie came back, and your cheek it grew white.
White, white grew your cheek, but aye true unto me;
Oh, Jenny, I'm thankfu'—I'm thankfu' to dee!

'Is Jamie come here yet?' and Jamie they saw.
'I've injured you sair, lad, so leave you my a';
Be kind to my Jenny, and soon may it be!
Waste nae time, my dauties, in mourning for me.'

They kiss'd his cauld hands; and a smile o'er his face
Seem'd hopefu' of being accepted by grace:
'Oh, doubtna,' said Jamie, 'forgi'en he will be;
Wha wou'dna be tempted, my love, to win thee?'

The first days were dowie while time slipp'd awa;
Though saddest and sairest to Jenny of a',
Was fearing she cou'dna be honest and right,
Wi' tears in her ee, while her heart was sae light.

But nae guile had she, and her sorrows away.
The wife of her Jamie—the tears cou'dna stay.
A bonnie wee bairn—the auld folks by the fire;—
O now she has a' that her heart can desire.