302. Robert Bloomfield to Robert Baldwin, 5 April 1816


302. Robert Bloomfield to Robert Baldwin, 5 April 1816* 

Shefford , April 5th, 1816.—

Dear Sir,

You have indeed reason to call for explanation, and you do me justice in believing that the error in the notice publishd in the Bury paper  [1]  had not my sanction. I had nothing to do with it; but I have both an interest and a feeling of right and duty in contradicting <it>, which I will use immediately.

On the receipt of your last, containing such fair and liberal offers, I was rejoiced, and immediately gave a copy to the Revd Mr Stewart  [2]  in this Neighbourhood, who was likewise struck with the honourable offer on your part, and with the superior chance of its being a more eligable as well as a more productive plan than a plain dry subscription. Mr Stewart wrote to the parties in Suffolk, your sentiments next day, so that whoever wrote the publishd Notice must be informd long ere this time that it containd the error of which you have so much reason to complain. I will take effectual means to prevent its reappearance in next week's paper, and to give them the truth. The same shall be done with Next Month's Magazine but when you say New Monthly, do you mean that publishd by Sir R Philips, or a more modern one?  [3] 

I have good reasons for thus mentioning Mr Stewart, for he acts as a voluntary agent between myself and my friends. We canvass'd the matter over for two hours, and concluded that if the four Vollms could be printed in a superior stile, in Two Vols large Octavo, it would be more acceptable than in one Vol. But here we wanted <[illegible word]> a Bookseller at our elbow, to say whether it could be sold for a guinea & half, or 2 Guineas? The latter, he thinks would make its way quite as well as the former. Thus you see Sir, that I am still in the dark as to the probable number of names to be collected, and as to the probable <actual> expence of each copy. It appears to me, Solus, that the first thing to be ascertaind is, whether the four Volms, (all that I have written) can be so printed as to warrant such a price? If so, perhaps it might at once be said publickly, that an Edition at such or such price was printing, or would be printed to supply whoever chose to subscribe before a given time, and that no more would be printed than subscribed for? but this is a mere thought of my own. I cannot stir in this matter untill the road is quiet before me, but lie like a Tortoise in a Wheel-rut, and then get up when I see opportunity.

Whatever comes of this measure ultimately, I shall be glad if you would take to yourselves the merit you deserve, and if I am a gainer in pocket, remunerate yourselves by all means in any way that your candour and honour may dictate.

It happens that I have not <a> copy of Banks of Wye in the house, and cannot therefore supply my Country friends who are now in London. I have an order similar to the last, to send to 'Mr Coates, No 19, Brewer Stt, Golden Square' 2 Setts of my poems, (a set containing Farmers Boy, R.T. W.F. and Banks of Wye). If I had them here I would not trouble you, but if you have a boy who could take such an errand in his rounds I should feel greatly obliged.

I thank you Sir most sincerely for your last letter, and for the good wishes and good advice at its close. Your wishes may perhaps be fulfilld, but your advice I am afraid I cannot act upon for want of the stuff. But let us see w[MS torn] and in the mean time, I Am [MS torn] Humble Servt [MS torn]

[signature cut off]

* Private collection. BACK

[1] The 'error' to which Bloomfield refers was the statement in The Bury and Norwich Post that the conditions of his contract with his publishers prevented the publication of a subscription edition of his works. See note [3]. BACK

[2] Revd Stewart. Presumably a local Bedfordshire clergyman. Plans for a subscription edition of Bloomfield's collected works were eventually dropped, on the recommendation of friends, to be replaced with one for financial support alone. (See Letters 310 and 303). BACK

[3] The following notice from the Bury Post was reproduced in the April number of The New Monthly Magazine and Universal Register:

We shall feel happy if the introduction of the following notice transcribed from the Bury Post, shall serve to promote its object––the relieving of a modest and worthy man and an ingenious poet from difficulties under which we regret to learn that he at present labours:

'It has been discovered that Mr. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD the well known author of the Farmer's Boy, and other entertaining Poems, is now residing in the parish of Shefford, in Bedfordshire, under considerable embarrassment, which his delicacy has induced him to conceal; and that the conditions of his engagements with the booksellers prevent him from relieving himself by a new edition of his former works, or by a new publication. It is therefore, proposed, to open a Subscription in his favour, as well for the purpose of expressing the sense entertained by his countrymen of his unassuming merit, as of supplying him with the means of immediate comfort. Mr. Deck, of Bury St. Edmunds, will receive subscriptions, and account to the subscribers for the application of them. Suffolk is a rich, respectable, and enlightened county, and will answer this appeal, there is no doubt, with ardour and promptitude: and it is hoped, that the example will be followed by all lovers of nature and genius.'

Mr. GILLET, of Crown-Court, Fleet-street (the printer of this Magazine), has undertaken to receive the contributions of the friends of literary merit in London, and to forward them to their destination (The New Monthly Magazine and Universal Register 5 (April 1816), 233).

The New Monthly Magazine had been established in 1814 by Henry Colburn and Frederic Shoberl as a Tory competitor to Sir Richard Phillips's Monthly Magazine; or British Register. The piece from The Bury Post was also copied into The European Magazine and London Review 69 (April, 1816), 373.