87. Robert Bloomfield to Samuel Jackson Pratt, 28 May 1802


87. Robert Bloomfield to Samuel Jackson Pratt, 28 May 1802* 

Near the Shepherd and Shepherdess

City Road London May 28th 1802


Your letter and your Poem on so great and so interesting a subject as 'Bread,' came to hand last week. [1]  Highly flattering as such marks of respect must be to me, and much as they may demand my best acknowledgements, the pleasure of seeing the Cottager vindicated is more grateful still. To see one class of the community grow immensely rich at the expence of an other, to me allways argued an inefficiency in the Laws of this or any country where it happens. If as Goldsmith says, we are hastning to the rottenness of refinement, [2]  and if such things cannot be avoided, I see no just reason for starving and contemning the Labourers of the Vinyard, or for keeping from them such degrees of information as they may be capable of receiving; the well known exclamation of the Kentish parson when a wreck was announced on the coast has much more justice in it, 'Let us all start fair'!—You, Sir, go much deeper into the subject than I am able to follow you; I never could satisfy myself, that, increase of population and increase of individual comforts are not enemys and strangers to each other.

The enclosing and appropriating the Waste-Lands may be a great and wise measure; perhaps it may be want of better information that makes me dislike it.—

I have read your Work Sir with much real pleasure, and thank you for the mark'd approbation which you are pleased to bestow on my Rural scetches of Life as it goes.

I have not the pleasure of being known to the Mr Swann to whom you apparently allude in your letter. The Mr James Swan whose name appears in the Farmers Boy writes thus to me yesterday—

'When you write to Mr Pratt, I shall be much pleased at your attempting to throw a light on the person of my name alluded to in his letter, by saying, 'That Mr Swan convey'd his letter and poem to you from Mr Hood's, and is happy (if not by mistake) to be class'd among the friends of a Gentleman of so much celebrity as Mr Pratt.—at any rate he is glad he has had it in his power, by reading part of his poem to be numberd among his admirers'—

With similar sentiments I remain Sir, your

Most Obed

Rob Bloomfield

Address: Mr Pratt / Revd Mr Seagrave / Halford near Shipton upon Stour

* Bodleian MS Eng. Lett.c.461, ff. 6–7; copy in BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 96–97 BACK

[1] Pratt's Bread; or the Poor: a Poem was published by Longman and Rees in 1801. It's a politicized Georgic celebrating the value to the labourer of the cottage garden and the village common, and attacking the improving farmers and gentry who enclose these lands. BACK

[2] 'Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, / Where wealth accumulates and men decay', lines 51–52 of Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village: A Poem (London, 1770). BACK