349. Robert Bloomfield to John Clare, 25 July 1820*
Brother bard and fellow labourer,
Some weeks past Mr Drury of Stamford sent me your Vollm.  and I have only been prevented from answering by ill health, which began in January and seems to threaten a longer continuance. I am however very glad to have lived to see your poems: they have given me and my family an uncommon pleasure, and, they will have the same effect on all kindred minds and that's enough; for, as for writing rhimes for Clods and sticks and expecting them to read them, I never found any fun in that in all my life, and I have past your age 26 years. I am delighted with your 'Address to the Lark', 'Summer Morning', and 'Evening'  &c &c. in fact I had better not turn critic in my first letter, but say the truth, that nothing upon the great theatre of what is called the world (our English world) can give me half the pleasure I feel at seeing a man start up from the humble walks of life and show himself to be what I think you are,—What that is, ask a higher power,—for though learning is not to be contemn'd it did not give you this. I must write to Mr. Drury, and Mr. Clayton but not now, I am far from well—have just been walking amidst the most luxuriant crops with my eldest daughter and two sons,  but find myself tired.
Let nothing prevent you from writing, for though I cannot further your interest I can feel an interest in it, and I assure you I do.
I am heartily tired, (not of my subject) and must beg you to accept my congratulations and my wishes for your health, which I find after all is one of the most essential blessings of life.
P.S. I have written this on 'My Old Oak Table'  and I think you know what I mean.
Address: To Mr. John Clare, / Poet, / Helpston near Peterborough, / Northamptonshire