36. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 30 July 1800


36. Robert Bloomfield to George Bloomfield, 30 July 1800* 

July 30 1800

Dear George

Don't be afraid of the Ghost, nor of the dog, for he is a very tame one. [1]  read boath if you can find time, but don't fail reading mr L's letter as it contains much information which I have not time to tell you in detail. Next week I hope to be squinting about the hills and dales of Northampton, and shall I doubt stand in need of all my assurance. but I mean to profit by what my brother tradesman and namesak bob Burns says of his first interview with Lord Daer.

'Life of Burns,' page 138, says

'My much lamented friend the late basil, Lord Daer, happened to arrive at Catrrine the same day and by the kindness and frankness of his manners left an impression on the mind of the poet, which never was effaced' [2] 

Burns says

'This wot ye all whom it concerns
I Rhymer Robin, alias Burns
October twenty third,
A ne'er to be forgotten day
So far I sprackled[i] up the brae,
I dinnerd wi a Lord.

But O for Hogaths magic pow'r;
To show Sir Bardy's willyart glow'r; [ii]
And how he stard and stamerd:
When goavan [iii] as if led wi branks, [iv]
And stumpan on his plowman shanks,
He in the parlour hammerd.

I sidling shelterd in a nook,
An at his lordship stealt a look,
Like some portentious omen;
Except good sense and social glee,
An' (what surprized me) modesty,
I marked nought uncommon.

I watchd the symptoms o the Great
The Gentle pride, the lordly state,
The arrogant assuming;
The feint a pride, nae pride had he,
Nor sauce, nor state that I could see
Nair than an honest plowman.

Then from his Lordship I shall learn
Henceforth to meet with unconcern
One rank as well's another;
No honest worthy man need care
To meet with noble youthful Daer
For he but meets a brother.

[i] clamberd

[ii] frightend stare

[iii] walking

[iv] a kind of Bridle

You must excuse my scrabbling, as you see by this job of copying that I have a good deal of writing [illegible word] but I shall allways find time to say to George

Health and Happiness

R Bloomfield

Love to wife and all friends, I should have been glad to write now to my Mother, but must stop perhaps till I can send her my face upon a paper. A large plate is intended to strike impressions for seperate sale, which Mr Hood says will produce a joint profit to us. a smaller size will appear first in the 'Mirror,' and Museum; [3]  but hold; I have not been under the painters hands yet, but I think I ought before I spend a fortnight in the harvest Sun; otherwise the publick will be apt to fix the place of my birth in Rosemary Lane, or peticoat Lane, and so by calling me Moses, belie the preface to my book. [4] 

You will certainly forward the packett to Troston directly.

[addendum by George]: pray preserve the London letters G Bloomfield

* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 36–37 BACK

[1] Bloomfield refers to his poems 'The Fakenham Ghost' and 'The Shepherd and his Dog Rover', published in Rural Tales, pp. 70–77; 111–12. BACK

[2] Bloomfield was reading the first volume of The Works of Robert Burns, a present from William Vaughan (see Letter 35). BACK

[3] A portrait of Bloomfield made by S. Drummond and engraved by W. Ridley appeared in The Monthly Mirror, 10 (October 1800). A variant of it was published in The European Magazine, 11 (November 1801). It is reproduced as the frontispiece of Robert Bloomfield: Lyric, Class, and the Romantic Canon, eds. Simon White, John Goodridge and Bridget Keegan (Lewisburg, 2006). BACK

[4] Rosemary and Petticoat Lanes were the centres of the second-hand clothes trades mainly carried on by immigrant Jews, stereotypically dark of complexion. BACK