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...
399. John Clare to Joseph Weston, 7 March 1825*
Helpstone March 7. 1825
In answer to yours of the third I am sorry to say that I posses but little of the corespondence of my departed 'brother bard' what I do posses you are welcome too & as to my letters to him you may do with them just as you please & make what use of them you like
I deeply regret that ill health prevented our corespondence & that death prevented us from being better acquainted I sincerely loved the man & admired his Genius & had a strong anxiety to make a journey to spend a day with him on my second visit to London & I intended to have stopt at Biggleswade on my return home for that purpose but my purse got too near the bottom for a stoppage on the road & as it was too great a distance to walk home this with other matters prevented me from seeing him as one of my family was very ill at the same time & hastened my return—Whatever cause his friends may have to regret the death of the Poet—Fame is not one [of] them for he dyed ripe for immortality & had he written nothing else but 'Richard & Kate'  that fine picture of Rural Life were sufficient to establish his name as the English Theocritus & the first of rural Bards in this country & as Fashion (that feeble substitute for Fame) had nothing to do in his exaltation its neglect will have nothing to affect his memory it is built on a more solid foundation & time will bring its own reward to the 'Farmers Boy'—I beg you will have the kindness to take care of the M.S. & return it when you have done with it as I wish to preserve a scrap of his handwriting—the Copy on the other side is a note which accompanied his present of 'Mayday with the Muses' I gave the origional to Allan Cunningham the Poet  who has a high respect for Bloomfields genius & whose request on that account to posses a scrap of his writing) I was proud & happy to gratifye—soon after the Poets death I wrote in a mellancholy feeling 3 Sonnets to his memory.
I was not aware that his 'Remains' woud have had such insertions or I shoud have sent them to his daughter—I shall fill this sheet with them for your perusal tho I expect they will come out in the Volume now in the press that will be published this Spring: with my best wishes that your kindly labours for the memory of the departed Poet may meet with the success it deserves
I remain yours very faithfully
Three Sonnets on Bloomfield
Address: Jos Weston Esqr / 12 Providence Row / Finsbury Square / London / March 8t
 Clare wrote to this effect on 9 September 1824 to his friend Cunningham, the labouring-class rural poet. See The Letters of John Clare, ed. Mark Storey (Oxford, 1985), pp. 321–24. For Bloomfield's note to Clare, see Letter 359 of the present edition. BACK
 Mark Storey, the editor of The Letters of John Clare (Oxford, 1985), notes (p. 322) that Weston, with a view to publishing the sonnets, asked Clare, in a letter of 20 April, to make some alterations. Clare noted in his journal for 30 April 'I shall not agree with either way Editors are troubled with nice amendings & if Doctors were as fond of Amputation as they are of altering & correcting the world woud have nothing but cripples'. Storey notes further that the sonnets appeared in The Scientific Receptacle, 1 (1825), 306–7, with variants. The second was included in Clare's collection The Rural Muse (London, 1835). All three are in his Midsummer Cushion manuscript collection. BACK