58. Robert Bloomfield to Capel Lofft, 22 October 1801


58. Robert Bloomfield to Capel Lofft, 22 October 1801* 


Extract of a Letter sent to Mr Lofft

Oct. 22d, 1801.

I cannot forbear mentioning a subject that have troubled me for a month past, during which time I have hesitated about daring to broach it. In the notes of approbation which you have attached to each piece in the Vollm now printing, a praise too direct, if not premature, is made to meet the publick eye. [1]  These notes, Sir, will be disapproved, I know they will. I wish sincerely they had been concentrated in another form at the end of the volm, and not, as in their present situation, appearing to lead the reader to a determination which he, no doubt, would rather have to flow from his own judgment than from that of any man whatever. If it is ask'd, what possible detriment can it be to the author? I answer, that if it be known that he saw the proofs, and permitted such direct praise to pass him; it may, and will be said, that 'he is not very averse to flattery, if he can deceive himself into a belief of the justness of such applause before the public has seen this second attempt.' And thus involved in the censure of the many, he may wish in vain that he had had courage to vote against it.

Your motive is for my good, no one will doubt it.

I am certainly proud of the approbation of such a man as Mr Fox, and should be glad that the publick should know it, as well as that Mr Lofft gave an entire approbation of what he was laying before them. But I wish it had been in a more unaccceptionable shape.

I beg of you to consider it, and to make the notes stand at the end in the Quartos and Octavos now printing, as they will meet the publick eye first. Nay, I will venture further, and say, that such a declaration in my favour from my friend Mr Lofft would have had a tenfold weight in a second edition (should it be required) than thus to assume the appearance of judging for the reader, and thereby destroying that fair trial of opinion which the pieces would otherwise experiance. I wish the subject had been started before the printing had begun; but I did not then feel myself implicated as I now know that I am, and shall be.

This is a delicate subject; and I think Mr. Lofft will not urge any thing to hurt my feelings instead of being grateful and pleasing.

Every body who have seen the pieces, either in MS. or in the proofs, are uniform in this opinion, but no one will tell you so but myself. I shall call this 'my humble remonstrance and petition,' and trusting to your candor, remain, &c.


* BL Add. MS 28268, f. 58; published in Hart, p. 12 BACK

[1] The volume in question was Rural Tales, and Lofft's notes were indeed criticised by its readers. See, for examples, Letter 186 and the reviews here and here. BACK