188. Capel Lofft to Robert
Bloomfield, June 1806*
I write too many letters, and generally write them in too much
anxiety and hurry to write them elegantly: but still; I write whenever I think
my doing so may be more useful or satisfactory to others than my silence.
I received your letter this afternoon, with those from the Earl of Buchan 
You ask my advice: and therefore I frankly give it.
I venerate the Earl of Buchan, and think him &
the Chancellor  worthy to be brothers to each other. A friend of poetry
and of the fine arts, a friend of liberty & of public virtue, he merits
high esteem. I have seen letters of his in Wyvill's Political
Correspondence  which confirm and heighten that esteem in my
mind, as in Mr. Wyvill's.
That he should be without pride is out of the nature of human
mind & circumstances; but of that pride he has made a truly benevolent
generous & virtuous life.
Were there no other reasons than his character &
affectionate zeal for persons of genius who have worthily employed it I would
not disappoint his wish of publishing his letter of yours to him in the next
edition of the 'Wild Flowers.' To do thus will be honourable to both. Your not
forbidding it would be subject to no imputation of vanity; your forbidding it I
think would not be free from something liable to be considered as pride or
unkindness or injustice.
His enthusiastic admiration of Barry speaks with me powerfully. What
he has said of that astonishingly great man is indeed characteristic.
This & his attachment to the memory of Thomson of Burns of the patriot Fletcher & the sublime
Newton are motives of esteem & confidence which I deeply feel.
I do not see that his saying we forwarded the sale is an
assertion that he occasioned the sale. A person may increase and accelerate the
success of that which he does not deny would have succeeded without him.
Above all let no omissions or retrenchments which you have made
of what I had said, whether made on your own views of the subject or the
suggestions of others, influence you on this occasion. Be that right or wrong
this relative to Earl Buchan, stands
on its own ground.
I trust I have as high & as free a spirit as any man;
yet, were Earl Buchan to wish to
prefix to anything of mine a testimony such as he is desirous of prefixing to
your poems, he must write very differently from anything I have seen of his
before I should refuse it.
The decision of course rests with you. But I do not think him a
man whose talents and virtues & tender of goodwill are of that rate
which can be slighted without injury to oneself & one's own feelings
The hand in which your letter is copied is generally admired
here. It strikes me as being beautiful and elegant almost beyond example. I
think there can be no doubt of its being a female hand & as little of
its being a lovely hand and under the guidance of a highly cultivated &
The letter was worthy to be so transcribed. It places its author
high among the few men who have excelled in letter writing.
I grieve most truly for the death of the Duchess of Devon
shire  & the illness of Mr. Fox.
With such proofs of the uncertain continuance here of the great
ornaments & blessings of society, let not little circumstances induce us
to neglect the tender of their friendship.
I write immediately, though rather fatigued (a thing almost new
to me) that I may return your packet to-morrow. I shall wish to learn that you
have received it safe.
I like much Mr. Park's
(for so I suppose) sweet quatrain on the Eolian harp constructed by
yourself.  This instrument has been always a
great favourite with me & Mrs.
Lofft. Can you give me a hint in what respect your construction
differs? I mean a mere general idea. In every point of view I do not wonder that
you have many who wish to be purchasers. Beside Thomson's charming lines in the
'Castle of Indolence,' you have probably read his exquisite 'Ode to the Aeolian
Pope's 'Homer' will be worth your reading at your leisure. It has
many splendid and beautiful, some few sublime passages & some pathetic.
But I rejoice in your affection for Cowper's noble & characteristic
I am much dissatisfied with the proof sent me for the
illustrations of your poems.  It is shockingly mangled. If
they will not receive the corrections which I have sent them, I had much rather
they would not publish any account of Troston at all.
I am, yours sincerely,
I observe you wish for our joint judgment but I cannot give
you what I cannot obtain any further than this—that, as far as I can
perceive, I think Mrs. Lofft's
opinion is with me on this occasion, in favour of adopting the proposal of
* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 211–12;
published Hart, p.41, misdated 1802 BACK
 For Buchan's letter see Letters 178 and 181. BACK
 Buchan's brother, Thomas
Erskine (1750–1823), was the great advocate who defended Horne Tooke at the
1794 treason trials and who went on to become, in 1806, Lord
 Buchan's measured yet
sympathetic letters to the reformer Christopher Wyvill, who organised County
Associations of electors to petition parliament, can be found in Christopher
Wyvill, Political Papers, Chiefly Respecting the Attempt of the
County of York, and Other Considerable Districts, ... to Effect a
Reformation of the Parliament of Great Britain, 6 vols. (York,
1794–1802), I, 322–27. BACK
 Georgiana Cavendish
(1757–1806), Duchess of Devonshire: society beauty, political campaigner for
Fox and the Whigs, author. BACK
 'Addressed to an Eolian
Harp, constructed by the Author of "The Farmer's Boy", "Wild Flowers",
&c.', by Mrs. Park, was published in The Monthly
Mirror, 21 (1806), 196:
What magic sweetness charms my raptur'd ear,
Like choirs of airy spirits heard on high?—
Now as some cherub-voice each note is clear,
Now swells into celestial harmony!—
'Tis charmed zephyr makes the varied sound,
As on each string he breathes a trembling kiss;
His viewless pinion wafts the music round,
Whose swell is ecstasy, whose close is bliss!
Oh sweetly raise thy more than mortal tone
To him who gave thy frame
The bard whom Nature greets as all her own,
And Virtue honours for his inborn worth,
For him, sweet harp! They dulcet strains prolong,
Since pure and artless is, like thine, his song.
Maria Hester Park BACK
 James Thomson's Castle
of Indolence: An Allegorical Poem. Written in Imitation of
Spenser (London, 1748) discusses the Aeolian Harp, then a
new-fangled instrument, in Canto I, lines 352–69:
A certain music, never known before,
Here lull'd the pensive, melancholy mind;
Full easily obtain'd. Behoves no more,
But sidelong, to the gently waving wind,
To lay the well tuned instrument reclined;
From which, with airy flying fingers light,
Beyond each mortal touch the most refined,
The god of winds drew sounds of deep delight:
Whence, with just cause, the harp of Æolus it hight.
Ah me! what hand can touch the string so fine?
Who up the lofty diapasan roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine,
Then let them down again into the soul:
Now rising love they fann'd; now pleasing dole
They breathed, in tender musings, thro' the heart;
And now a graver sacred strain they stole,
As when seraphic hands a hymn impart:
Wild warbling nature all, above the reach of art!
Thomson's 'An Ode On Æolus's Harp' (1748):
Ætherial race, inhabitants of air!
Who hymn your God amid the secret grove;
Ye unseen beings to my harp repair,
And raise majestic strains, or melt in love.
Those tender notes, how kindly they upbraid?
With what soft woe they thrill the lover's heart?
Sure from the hand of some unhappy maid
Who dy'd of love, these sweet complainings part.
But hark! that strain was of a graver tone,
On the deep strings his hand some hermit throws;
Or he the sacred Bard! who sat alone,
In the drear waste, and wept his people's woes.
Such was the song which Zion's children sung,
When by Euphrates' stream they made their plaint:
And to such sadly solemn notes are strung
Angelic harps, to sooth a dying saint.
Methinks I hear the full celestial choir,
Thro' heaven's high dome their aweful anthem raise;
Now chanting clear, and now they all conspire
To swell the lofty hymn, from praise to praise.
Let me, ye wand'ring spirits of the wind,
Who as wild Fancy prompts you touch the string,
Smit with your theme, be in your chorus join'd,
For 'till you cease, my Muse forgets to sing.
 Lofft refers
to the proofs of J. Storer and J. Greig, Views in Suffolk, Norfolk,
and Northamptonshire, Illustrative of the Works of Robert
Bloomfield; Accompanied with Descriptions: to which is Annexed a Memoir
of the Poet's Life by E. W. Brayley (London, 1806). There is an
account of Troston Hall on pages 44-45, with an illustration of the same