2. George Bloomfield to Robert Bloomfield, 27 December 1789*
Bury, Sunday, Dec. 27, 1789
I went last Monday to Honington, and saw poor little Isaac interred. His head lies close up against the buttress of the chancel. If you remember, each corner of the chancel, is supported by a large brick buttress. He lies by that, at the front corner, close by the path, which leads from the little clap-gate to the porch. In digging his grave, they took up what time had left of the coffin, &c. of my brother John.
Isaac, lies beside his grandfather and grandmother, Glover. My mother seemed much hurt at his loss. My brother Isaac hinted, that my father and he, could easily work a small free-stone into the buttress, and said, you was the likeliest person in our family, to remember a suitable verse, if you had ever seen one, — or else to compose one. I have not brains enough to make a verse that will please myself. I think there is difficulty in a verse of this sort, for such a youth as Isaac, for he cannot be said to have any character. He was the darling of his parents; was very sympathetic; a tale of woe produced the same effect on his mind, as on the mind of a woman. He would weep with whoever wept, and though his voice was broke to a soft base, which Isaac said bore a strong affinity to yours, and he had downy lips, and other marks of approaching manhood, yet, had he lived till March, he would but have reached his sixteenth year; which time, he lived at home with the most indulgent parents, and very lately with an old lady, as indulgent as they. It is certain that he was a total stranger to all the little hardships and neglects, which we meet with, or fancy we meet, when we first go to service, or apprentice; and as he died ere the strong passions had reached to maturity, I consider him (as his health was always precarious, and his constitution tender) in the same light as a choice flower, which, in the first opening of the bud, promised every thing that could be hoped or wished, — but which, owing to an innate weakness in the stem, though cultured with the utmost care, shrunk down and died, ere it had felt the blighting wind of poverty, or the mildew of disappointment! Now the readers of epitaphs, generally expect to find panegyrics, so that there would be little danger of falling into a fault on that side; but I think, truth and propriety should be attended to, though it would certainly be better, to be blamed for too much praise, than for coldness. Mr. Pope stands first amongst our poets, for this kind of writing; but some of his epitaphs, which I have seen, did not please me; and, I believe, that if as great a poet as Pope, was to undertake to write an epitaph for this youth, he would find it impossible to please all. But I think it cannot be too short, not if it could be contained in two lines, and ought to be either lamentation for the deceased, or caution to others; but I, am most for the lamentable.
The reason why I say so much about it, is, because Isaac asked my opinion, I thought, perhaps, you would have done the same, if you could have conversed with me on the subject. Besides, it is so lately that I was several nights with him, having sat up three nights with him while on his death-bed.
He was ill but three weeks; had his senses till within a few hours of his dissolution. He often pulled me down to him, to kiss his trembling lips. His observations and discourse, in general, were surprisingly affecting; and it was easy to discover that he was loth to quit the stage, — and no wonder, for to use an expression of Nat's, 'he was just of the right age, for golden ideas.' Seeing him so often while in so much pain, and losing him at last, has left a gloomy impression upon my mind. Under this impression I now write, and I know you will excuse my dwelling on a subject, which seems so well to suit my present train of thinking; but I see I have but little room left, so must leave my favourite theme. I have wrote so little lately, that I am quite behind. Several letters of yours, ought to have had more particular answers, than what I gave them. One in particular, which now strikes me. It is that, in which you told me, you had resolved, not to go to Sapiston — till independent. I highly approve your resolution, but lament that necessity made me so much your hinderance. Pray give my love to Nat; tell him what he wrote last, pleased me extremely. On examining why I was pleased with it, I find it was, because it is just what I should have said to him, if we had each been in the situation of the other: tell him that a line or two, written in our old, open, sincere way, makes me think of days of yore, and makes me long to hear from him again.