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...
185. Robert Bloomfield to Isaac Bloomfield, undated *
I tried hard to get a letter to you on Saturday last, but was unable to do it through having several others to write, and much to attend to. Yours came safe, and I think the letter will do you credit wherever it may be seen. I have written to Hampstead to say that I have such a letter to shew them, &c.
You are right in your observations as to the importance of the first step, indeed so much depend on that, that I have the M.S. by me now, and hardly know what best to do with it. I could certainly have access to Dr Crotch, though I do not know him personally; or to Mr Shield, but the latter promises more than he performs. I think the best way would be to ask some one of them to mark with a pencil what offends their ear, and is wrong? And then to let you correct it yourself.—If you received it back as it is, and should show it to Mr Mills, perhaps he is not competent to judge of its merit, though he may be of his disposition to promote the publication if found worthy.—
In answer to your queries, I think there is no doubt but I could get some one to point out the incorrections for your emendation, and as to its being published by subscription I will get all the names in my power, and allways intended to do so. I have but little guess as to how many names I could get, but I think surely 40, or sufficient to cover the expences, but I do not see that any progress can be made until the anthems are ready to go to the music engravers. I have a great fancy to learn if Dr Crotch is in Town, for he in his letters to Miss Sharp has expresst a great desire to be acquainted, and is, I should suppose, well qualified to judge.—He was one of those infant prodigies in the musical way which sometimes arise to make the world stare. When a child of 4 years old, in petticoats, he play'd the organ, and the most masterly pieces too before the King and all the toppers in the country. He was a wonderful and pleasing exhibition in his childhood, and is now professor of music at Oxford. At all events, whoever has the M.S. from me, you may rely on that I have the success of the job too much at heart to let it lie long or to neglect to give you information.—So that on the whole I mean to make some of them point out the errors, and immediately to write to you, or send the Book if necessary. I have a neighbour, an American who is a most extraordinary mechanic and musician, I mean to just shew him the anthems and hear him play them. He has a patent for an improved pianoforte or rather for one on a new construction, and he is now nearly perfecting an instrument which by keys play all the notes from the lowest on the Bass viol up to the treble of the Violin, on perpendicular catgut strings 68 in number which are placed just inside the verges of 4 hoops which lie horizontally, and have a uniform motion (by a treadle) the inner sides of which are lined with horsehair (a fiddlestick) so that the Bow being a fixture, the string wanted to express any note is drawn by the finger key into contact with the circular Bow. But this I fear you will not understand unless you could see it. The effect is grand and peculiarly impressive.
My time is expired
Love to all.—
Your hapiness at the Christmas gives us great pleasure to reflect on