125. Robert Bloomfield to 'B.C.', 28 April 1804*
London April 28th 1804—.
It is a matter of the utmost astonishment to me that any man could for a moment trust his reputation in the keeping of a stranger in the manner you propose to do with me!
Granting that you may be right when you call me a man of honour, you probably mean that I would keep the secret if I bound myself to do it. But to what man of honour would a sensible stranger offer the wages of prostitution! Perhaps Sir, you may have written thus merely to try how far I might be tempted by the prospect of gain to forfeit all pretence to independance, and to put myself compleatly in the power of an anonymous enemy, for friendship there can be none in the endeavour to seduce any man from the paths of truth and principle, whatever may be said in approval of his actions and excellences, or whatever flattery may be offered to his vanity. I deem myself entirely justified in this severity, if I am to consider the application as serious. But if it is to pass as a joke it reminds me of one much better which took place between Dean Swift and Mr Pope, when the former offered the latter twenty pounds to change his Religion!! Whatever may be your views and expectations as to the property of the worthy Officer you wish to praise in verse, I beg of you to consider that the celebration of candour, truth, and sincerity in him, would be an everlasting reproach on yourself who would appear to the world to have paid a debt of justice to the dead, while your conscience would only have this poor consolation, that by the bait of wealth you had made another man as great a Rogue and fool as yourself.
I send back your half of the ten pound note, with feelings that I am sure are very far from a unison with yours, but calculated perhaps to honour either in verse or prose such virtues as you attribute to the Captain. they stand more conspicuous from the striking contrast in which you have placed them with yourself. If you had sent nothing in your letter but the request I would not have troubled you nor myself with this reply to an unknown hand, but the return of your note gives me opportunity to assure you that the offer of Mr. B. C. is not accepted on the part of R. B. only as a novel and strange kind of indignity, to which my situation renders me liable, but which I could wish to prevent the repetition of if it was in my power.
Wishing you success in all honest endeavours,
I remain yours,