4. Robert Bloomfield to Joseph Church, 28 December [17]91


4. Robert Bloomfield to Joseph Church, 28 December [17]91* 

Wednesday-night, Dec. 28th. 91

Honrd Father,

It would have been a great pleasure to us both to have met you at Mr Wyatts this time, and we [were] only prevented by visitors, who came quite unexpected. You would have like to have seen our little one; and I hope you will yet before long. We thank you for all your kindness, and as I am endeavouring to get into business for myself, I sincerely hope to have it in my power to entertain you better when you come, I have an undeniable chance, I have some good customers, and might have enuff immediately, to provide a genteel living for my wife and child, if I could take advantage of it soon, if I could get three months credit at my leather-cutters for five or six pounds only, it would enable me to give credit to that amount, as my custom lays amongst such, as are able and willing to improve it — but I am determined to carry it on as well as I can.

The underwritten lines [1]  contain the sentiments which allways occur to my mind when I come to Woolwich, and as I put them into metre when the Boyne was launched and they are still perfect on my mind, I write them now because I think you have a relish for such things, particularly the devotional parts of them, before I was married I often amused myself with such compositions, and had several pieces published in newspapers, magazines, &c. — but I find other employment now that is of equal pleasure to me —

My Polly and the child are in good health, and we hope to hear from you soon; and remain yours, in duty and affection,

Rt Bloomfield

Whence springs the joy that longest warms the heart,!
Can mutual Love, can Friendship's self impart,
Rapture unmix'd, thoughts constantly the same
Like those that feed Devotions sacred flame;
When glows the breast with more than mortal fire,
And boundless Gratitude to Heaven aspire.

Through the wide field of Arts with true delight,
Unceasing wonders croud upon the sight
There, a vast Pile [2]  for no blest ends supply'd,
Majestic greets the slowly rising tide;
There, less in bulk, a greater wonder far,
View in its infant state the ship of war.
Who from the hills the boundless prospect sees
Must silent praise, or utter words like these.
'Sweet child of Heaven, thee, Gratitude we bless,
Through life how lovely in whatever dress,
Thou chears our path, with care and perill trod
Thou lifts the soul, and points the way to God
The shapely columm and the doom it bears,
Man sees with pleasure and exulting rears,
Whilst here confin'd we view with conscious heart
The striking symmetry of every part
But 'scap'd the walls and look to earth and sky
To all the wonders half revealed on high
Where the charm'd soul contemplates her abode
And matchless order speaks the eternal God.

On the fam'd Hill where Flamsteads vigorous mind,
By midnight meditations taught mankind;
When gleam'd the Moon, and silence reign'd around,
The scene was awful, and the thought profound;
Heavens shining orbs that gild the peaceful night,
To him were clear, were intimately known,
And all his pleasure was a God to own;
Yet one step more improves the glorious thought,
God made that man, and made the stars he sought.

Show the enquiring mind that seeks to know
Objects where art her utmost efforts show,
Show him where Thames her swelling bosom heaves
The towring vessel destin'd to the waves;
See! Fix'd astonishment seaze every power
Like a short moment flies the favour'd hour,
Then admiration every thought attend,
The vast design, the purpose, and the end:
The forest mourns his largest stateliest trees,
Here hewn and fashiond with the greatest ease,
Anormous limbs of season'd solid oak
Yield there rough sides to labours sturdy stroke,
Exact proportion rules in height and length,
The first great principal, amazing strength;
Strength well required when o'er the watery deep
The dauntless mariner his reckoning keep;
Behold her prow the opposing billow cleave,
And far behind the land of freedom leave,
Triumphantly she bears to distant shores,
A thousand men with all their ponderous stores,
Amazing thought, yet more amazing still,
This complicated proof of human skill,
When storms arise is like a feather tost,
Her monstrous bulk comparatively lost;
Waves roll her over, terrors fill the sky,
She bursts asunder, every creature dies.
O God by winds thou canst destroy or save,
O Lord of Life thy Ocean is their grave.
What e'er is great or awful from Thee springs
We by imperfect, judge of perfect things,
If works of Art our admiration raise
Thine be the Worship, thine the sacred Praise.

Christmas Day. 1791

Address: Mr Church at Mrs Woodgates / near the Post Office / Woolwich 1791

* BL Add. MS 30809, ff. 42–44; published in Remains, I, pp. 11–12 and Works, pp. 297–98 BACK

[1] Bloomfield's verses 'On seeing the launch of the Boyne' were published in the first volume of Remains (pp. 13–16). BACK

[2] Identified in Remains as Greenwich Hospital. BACK