393. Thomas Park to Joseph Weston, 23 June 1824


393. Thomas Park to Joseph Weston, 23 June 1824* 

Hampstead, June 23, 1824


It was out of my power to answer your letter of yesterday, so promptly as you desired, in consequence of being away from home. At the distance of twenty-four years, I should hesitate to speak very positively as to matters of conversation: but I am relieved from this difficulty by a memorandum made at the time, in my own copy of the second edition of the Farmer's Boy, in 1800, which I will here transcribe.

'This poem was first offered to Bent, in Paternoster-row, with a request to know his opinion of its deserts: but this he declined, in a short note, which was returned to Mr. B. in the course of a week, along with his MS. Dilly was next applied to, who refused to have any concern in publishing it, but recommended the slighted author to take his production to Phillips, who probably might print it in the Monthly Magazine. But as the poet foresaw that in case it was accepted for insertion he should have to pay five or six shillings for obtaining a copy to send to his mother, which was his prime object, he preferred sending the MS for her inspection to his brother at Bury, who fortunately got it conveyed to the eye of Mr. Lofft. Mr. L. was delighted with its merits, communicated it to Mr. Hill, and it was immediately recommended to Hood for publication.'

With the above memorandum I will extract the following note:

'To Mr. Lofft's protection and encouragement it was primarily owing that a production so morally and poetically estimable as the Farmer's Boy has struggled into day; but to the modest author's faithfulness of delineation, felicity of diction, purity of sentiment, and refined simplicity of taste, it will stand indebted for 'aye-enduring fame.''

I had not heard of Mr. Lofft's decease [1]  till your announcement of it, and I grieve to hear of it from a variety of considerations. Eight of his letters to me, which chiefly have relation to his poetical protégé, I have looked out, and when occasion serves they shall be placed in your hands. I do not remember to have seen the verses entitled PERPLEXITY, or the essay occasioned by some insurrection in America [2] 

The subscription papers shall be circulated where I can anticipate any success.

I cannot decidedly say whether the MS. of the Farmer's Boy was ever taken to the editor of the Monthly Magazine; but I should think that some of the letters which passed between his brothers and himself (a transcript of which I transmitted, with his letters to me) would be likely to settle the question. This I can decidedly say, that I never heard him repeat the sarcasm ascribed to that editor, nor did I ever know him give vent to any resentful feeling against him or any other person. Indeed I verily believe that he had too catholic a benevolence for human kind to allow himself to foster an emotion of resentment towards any human being; and when he did speak of his early struggles, he spoke of them with much complacency. Perhaps the rustic anathema, in his 'Neighbourly Resolution', may comprise the amount of his indignant feelings, while in his 'First View of the Sea' he breathes a christian supplication for that wisdom which would 'teach him to forgive'. [3]  That we may all be taught to do so, is the hearty prayer of yours,

With much sincerity,

Thomas Park

* Remains, II, pp. 206–9 BACK

[1] Lofft died on 26 May 1824. BACK

[2] Perhaps Lofft's An Argument on the Nature of Party and Faction. In which is Considered, the Duty of a Good and Peaceable Citizen at the Present Crisis (London, 1780). BACK

[3] The 'rustic anathema' that appears in 'A Neighbourly Resolution', lines 28–30 (edited by Weston in Remains) reads:

May shadeless labour and sour ale,
Far from this stream, and this sweet vale,
Plague him that robb'd John Brown (I, p. 80).
'Teach wisdom —teach me to forgive': line 48 of 'A First View of the Sea', also printed in the first volume of Remains (p. 83). BACK