Part Four, covering the period 1810-1815, was a crucial one for Southey’s career and reputation. It has, however, never before been fully documented or fully understood. By 1810 he was established in Keswick...
12. George Bloomfield to Capel Lofft, November 1798*
Bury. Nov. 1798
Common fame speaks of the willingness that you show in giving your counsel and advice to the poor. This benevolent trait in your character has emboldened me to approach you, to petition you to give your opinion on the enclosed piece. I fancy I see beauties in it, and was thinking of applying to one of our printers to know, if from the locality of it, it would pay for printing (for 'tis a Suffolk piece); but it struck my mind forcibly, that I should stand a Better chance of meeting with that ingenuousness I wish for, by begging the opinion of a man of genius and taste, than by applying to a tradesman.
Since I have had the Poem in my hands I have never shown it to any one, nor spoke of it; nor does Any one here know of this application.
If, Sir, you will deign to give your opinion, I will never mention your name, unless by your permission. This, I hope, will not be deem'd an impertinent intrusion; for 'tis the high rank you hold in the literary world prompted me to this, because on your judgment I can rely with satisfaction.
Let the result of this be what it may, your petitioner will ever revere your name.
Your most devoted servant,