62. Robert Bloomfield to Capel Lofft, 29 October 1801


62. Robert Bloomfield to Capel Lofft, 29 October 1801* 

Night, dark night, and a dark subject

Memorandum for a letter to Troston

Just returnd the first proof of the Quartos; found that the subject as stated in the headline was thrown out of the arrangement by the different size of the paper; all else correct. — Was asked by Mr Knight at the Office whither I had seen Mr Hood? No — because Mr Bentley had been to Mr Hoods, who had expressd a wish to see me on the subject of the engravings which cannot be got from Mr Nesbit and on the subject of placing the notes. [1]  — Told him I had just written myself to Troston without communication with the Bookseller. — had my situation pitied. — Nothing new to me — A box of Nuts and Apples from Mrs Newman, Midhurst — perhaps Bob Burns had some such crossgraind vexations as these, and strove to cure them by drinking — Difficult to speak my mind without appearing vain — Sure to be blamed at last — Never to attempt to write to Mr Lofft again on such matters — Rose by favour, must expect trouble — Destress of mind — Fame is a bubble — Would this instant stop the publication, and all destressing desputes with it, were it possible to be done — What use to burn the MS? — Those who envy the reputation I may have acquired should have a relish of what it is to hear my friend censured and then not allowd to tell him so — Deviations in opinion ascribed to mercenary motives — What shall I say to Mr Hood — What power have I — No kind friend to take my place a moment between contending parties, to mount the pedestal and kick away the Rubbish from around, that hides and involves my actions in obscurity — I must look base and criminal — How can I engage in a quarrel which I have studiously avoided, Between Bookseller and Editor? — Was ever poor poet fixt as I am! — But fretting will bring sickness, not conviction to others; so says my Wife — Truth is in a Fogg — How can I send the Quarto proofs to Mr Lofft; denied — The place and not the matter of the notes disputed — Is not Mr Lofft a lover of peace? ——

Oct 29 Noon Sir Thus far I had prepared for a further explanation and as I have not spirits to enlarge on the above subjects I send it thus unfinish'd. Mr Waine called this morning, bringing a letter from you, and another from my Brother. Mr Wayne will bring a line with him but I send this in haste by the post, still endeavouring to throw off the mental load that oppresses me. Your letter of yesterday I must reply to, but realy know not how. To clear myself from the imputation of disrespect and dissatisfaction is more than I have now hopes of doing. And when the prospect of placing my actions in their true light ceases, the wish allmost ceases with it. I would rather sink into oblivion again and nurse my sick soul with calm reflection, than even attempt to persist in my self-defence against those who did not formerly think so of me. One sentence inadiquately expressd through my own ignorance, involves me in accumulating difficulties; your suspicion of Mr Hood was groundless only in that you intimated that I had acted by his influence and advice. That he as an individual will object to the situation of the notes I now know, and shall soon hear I doubt; but how I am to act, God only knows. What you have written on the old subject of the preface &c to the Farmer's Boy includes a paragraph which is most likely true. That, 'you know what is calld the publick Better than I do.' But Sir, the following I absolutely disclaim, without endeavouring to offer one word more that might sound like exculpation. 'My remarks on my removal as a Justice were treated I must say neither with delicacy, nor I think with good judgment. I was justly sick of all this. And it required nothing less than the intrepid zeal of a very sincere friendship to write any thing for a future Edition after so unpleasant reception of what I had written. Reception, not from the publick, nor from Reviewers in general who appear'd well contented, but from the Author and from some of his acquaintance' &c

Sir, I enter my protest against this conclusion, as to its truth: its consequences I must bear. My letters would not warrant such a conclusion. My situation is singularly delicate. But I have had great pleasure; great benefit; it is fit I should feel great trouble.

I have said positively that as to the notes now in question in this Vollm that as an individual I have no objection to them. If this declaration is disbelieved, as my former declarations have evidently been, what more can I do or say? I submit to the rod of an angry friend, I will bear his chastizement rather than my own. And smother the justification of myself which cannot be urged without widening every breach and mending my broken character by unwise means. Time perhaps will heal all wounds, and clear all foggs. —

The overlooking of the Quarto proofs having thus fallen upon myself I shall have to give an answer directly to the printers; and I shall not vote for the exclusion of the notes. How can I if I would? When the consequence would be what every one of my friends would deplore, the loss of my first friend!

The matter stands thus — let me act which way I will, censure must ensue. — If I remain neuter, and give no answer should the subject of the notes be broachd by Mr Hood; that silence will give consent. If I say 'you shall not omit them,' how can I follow up the injunction? Should I say, 'leave them out,' Mr Lofft is no more amongst my correspondents!

The harshness you complain of in my last I cannot discover. We all have our feelings and propensities. I am alive to strong feelings, and hope I shall never be otherwise. I may loose my friends perhaps as fast as I gaind them. But whither I am favourd with your thoughts or honourd with your correspondence or not, in future, I shall remain, Sir, your once-respected, and unfortunate


* Memorandum for a letter; BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 66–67 BACK

[1] Bloomfield is referring to proofs of his Rural Tales, which was to include engravings by Charlton Nesbit (1775-1838), a pupil of Thomas Bewick. The illustration used as a headnote for the poem 'Rosy Hannah' is pictured here. BACK