124. 'B.C.' to Robert Bloomfield, 28 April 1804*
April 28 1804
I have been much gratified by a perusal of many of your poems, the greater part of which I consider rank amongst the first of our English productions, the whole of them certainly highly pleasing and entertaining. For the amusement and instruction which I have received do me the favour to accept the enclosed in return for which you will make an effort on the following subject by way of Elegy.—A captain in the Royal Navy, lately return'd from a foreign station on which he had been absent two or three years has lately died—has not been home more than 3 or 4 months—was very successfull at sea, made considerable prize money—had purchased a House in the Country where he expected that delightfully domestic situation from the toils & fatigues and dangers to which he had been so recently exposed, and to which a country life is so peculiarly favourable—was a Bachelor, but has left behind him a Brother and two Sisters to whom he was peculiarly attachd to lament his loss as well as some other more distant relations.—
He was a man of great fame in his profession, and in private life yielded to none in those virtues which constitute the ornament and charm of society. Generosity was perhaps his most striking feature.—I have made several attempts at poetry, all of which I consider very unsuccessful, but some of my friends think otherwise and have particularly pressed me from some private reasons which I cannot explain, to lament in poetry the death of the person I have described.—If it were a common occasion I should certainly attempt it myself, but as it is not so, and it is of some consequence to me to excell in it, I must get you to attempt it for me, and to promise me at the same time that your being its author shall ever remain a most profound and entire secret—I know you to be a man of Honour and the advantages which I might soon derive will certainly enable me to make you a much more liberal compensation than that which I at present make for the delight afforded me by your happy efforts. Let me have an answer by return of Post to acknowledge Receipt of the enclosed & to say if you will comply with my wishes.
I am very much yours
To be left, Post-office, Portsmouth, Hants
The other half of the Note shall be sent on hearing that you have received the enclosed.