198. Robert Bloomfield to Thomas Hood, 19 November 1806*
City Road Nov 19. 1806
For the purpose of mutual understanding, I give you a copy below of the note which I found, (through my engagement as to sending the monthly parcel to Troston ) I was bound to send to Mr Lofft a few days past; and I subjoin a few remarks on the preface which I have this minute read attentively. The letter I have copied is that to which Mr L. alludes in his late communication to the printer.
'London. Nov 12. 1806'
'To C Lofft Esq.
After having seen through the press the whole of the poem, I accompanied a neighbour in a journey into Kent, both for health and for business. I have been absent more than three weeks, and during that time avoided all communication with the publishers that I might not even in appearance, break my engagement of leaving the preface to your own fancy and direction. On my return I found that your postscript, (the only part of the preface I have seen) had, during my absence been sent to my home, and going immediately to the printers I found that the Book had been finished, and part of it sent home to the publishers; and enquiring very naturally, whither they had printed the Postscript,? Was answer'd, No!
If this is news Sir to you, I neither tell it with terror nor with exultation. I think I have felt too severely on this subject ever to feel much again. It is with real sorrow that I learn the death of Mr Kirk White, and having said this little, and sent the publishers as soon as absence would permit, I feel to have discharged a duty.'
And am &c
Now Sir, with respect to the preface which my friend Mr Lofft has arranged (I suppose) to his own will, I own that he has reinstated less than I was prepared to expect of that which I had excluded, I expected to find Mr Swan's long letter respecting the effort of memory (page 27), Dr Drake's annalises, Mrs Loffts sonnet, and Mr Loffts additional verse to my song, with many other things, which to me are grown tedious by frequent repetition, but I find that these from some motive or other, are not restor'd. I am truly glad they are not. In his notes respecting Newspapers and Debating societies he had originally written and pertinaciously retained a downright attack upon Government.—Now he has softene'd it down to a mere opinion! Yet, I still wish it was not there, for, I am not a politician, nor never shall be. It is highly curious to find that he has retaind the high and partial praise bestow'd on me by my Brother 'that he never knew my fellow for mildness of disposition &c &c, and yet wish'd a postscript to be printed in the same preface, in direct opposition to any such statement? In the preface he tells the world that 'adversity has not deprest, and prosperity he is persuaded will not corrupt him,' yet in a postscript to the same preface he retracts his opinion and tells the world that it has! It is seeing the glaring contradiction of the two statements that makes me think that the rejection of the Postscript, (even if it were only on account of Mr Lofft himself) is in every way right and desirable, for whatever Mr L. may lay to my charge, any statement will avail him more than that which contradicts itself. At least such is my opinion.
I observe in the present measure, that Mr L. has done with an ill grace, a great deal of that which I in my private letters endeavourd to effect by entreaty and argument he has done that which he felt angry about when I stated it my self in the last edition, viz. corrected the dates of my age, &c. as inadvertently [m]isstated by my brother.
When I sent Mr L. a copy of the last Edition he inform'd me immediately he had cut out the preface and burnt it, and inserted in its stead a protest against me and the publishers.
Under all these circumstances I know not whither it would be of any use to send him the present Edition, or to write any more. If I should feel my self in the humour I will shew you a copy, for in the temperament in which he now appears, to cringe would be disgrace, and to irritate, a crime.
There are some errors of the press, arising I doubt not from the singularity of his handwriting, and for which Mr Wilson, in my mind stands entirely acquitted.
I have thought it correct thus to state my opinion and should feel oblidged if you would communicate this to Mr Sharp and Mr Wass &c. &c.
As to whatever Mr L may in his rage advance against me in public, I am confidently sure it will hurt me much less than many of his private letters have done.
I am yours Sir Respectfully