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...
51. George Bloomfield to Elizabeth Glover, n.p., n.d. *
I have just received a letter from Troston which I copy with pleasure.
'I have another pleasing communication from Mr. Dyer who is himself a good poet, and a good critic, he says in a letter received yesterday "Yes Sir I have read the Farmers Boy, and intend to read it over and over again some time hence.
The Farmers Boy appears to me a truly original and beautiful poem, it recalled to my mind those ages and those countries in which the Poet and the Shepherd were more naturally united; under those circumstances some of the earliest Scotch Ballads were written; and they please us because they breathe the language of nature and speak to the heart. Your Shepherd's Boy with the poetical character that he undoubtedly possesses, requires indeed no other name; poetry is more immediately the language of nature, and whoever has a relish for such language must I am sure be pleased with Bloomfield, I can truly say I have been charmed with his Seasons, and that my heart echoes back every thing said by you in the preface.
Everything that I can say or do to forward so pleasing a poem, I shall do with great pleasure, and even with pride, for it possesses that kind of merit that every man must be proud to acknowledge and happy to see patronized and rewarded.
I am extremely delighted with the harvest Home, but I am most pleased with Autumn and Winter; the wood scenery, swine and pigs feeding on acorns and wandering in the woods, the Hunt — the disappointment — Night — the Christmas fire — the sufferings of the post horse, are very characteristic, the sheep-biter — moonlight — scattered clouds, ewes and lambs, the distracted young woman is very affecting — the introductory part of spring I much like. The work appears in a most pleasing form — I shall be glad to see him and am convinced from his writings that he is an amiable man I perceive no fopperies — no meretricious ornaments, no language of bigotry and enthusiasm in Bloomfield."'
Thus far Mr. Dyer, Mr. Lofft goes on to say 'I have copied this from Mr. Dyer's letter because I wish you and his mother to see what is said by the best judges of the Farmers Boy. I think what you said in a former letter is very just, that his absence from the objects he describes with so much force and feeling, and truth and beauty, was to him what loss of sight was to Milton and his want of education (what is generally so called) has had its advantages; if he had been learned, it would not have been possible that he should have produced so purely original a poem.
I trust you will long enjoy those pleasures which you so justly expect from his future correspondence; you that with all the sufferings you have both had to struggle with, have so affectionately and so justly rejoiced in his correspondence hitherto, appear to have a peculiar right to rejoice in his better prospects, and in the new sources of knowledge and satisfaction, that I trust are opening to him'.