61. Capel Lofft to Robert
Bloomfield, 28 October 1801*
Troston 28 Oct 1801.
I have received your letter which it is impossible for me not to
think a very harsh one.
You have undoubtedly the full right of an author over your works
and the full privilege of a man to judge & act on your judgment: but I
must also feel as a man and I am accustomed as I feel to express myself.
If you reflect you will not find that my idea that Mr Hood had his share in this
objection which you have at length stated to my notes could be said to be
groundless. You had said yourself that every person who had seen either the MS.
or the proofs had objected to the notes. Was I to suppose, could I suppose,
consistently with fact and your own letters, that Mr Hood had not seen either.
I never call on anyone, nor did I on you, for a disclosure of
names that I have not a right to ask. And you must think I could not be ignorant
who had seen the proofs nearly to a man: since nearly all who were likely to
have seen them were, I imagine, those whom I introduced to you and whose names I
cannot want to ask.
I did say that it was very proper you should write the preface. I
had written one: and that was enough. More than sufficient fault was thought
necessary to be found with a considerable part of that preface. I was there
supposed to have said more than was proper and to have anticipated on the
judgment of the public. Perhaps I know what is called the public better than you
as yet know it. I know that public is just to authors after their deaths but is
commonly too careless to be just to them in their life unless its attention be
called to a new author.
My appendix too was blamed; it was said to be too long. My
remarks on my removal as a Justice were treated I must say neither with delicacy
nor I think with good judgment.  I was justly
sick of all this. And it required nothing less than the intrepid zeal of a very
sincere friendship to write anything for a future edition after such unpleasant
reception of what I had written. Reception not from the public not in general
from reviewers who have appeared well contented but from the author and from
some of the author's acquaintance: not more friends to him possibly nor better
judging friends than myself.
It has at length thus happened that my share as editor has
reduced itself to the revision of the press (a task which you will better
estimate if you ever undertake it); the suggestion of occasional corrections
which have been few there having been few wanted and these very short
unfortunate notes. Unfortunate in your reception of them and in the light in
which you have been led to consider them. Whether otherwise unfortunate,
publication will be the best proof. They assuredly will not appear to lead any
judgment which does not wish to be led by them: they are not prefixed but
subjoined to the poems. The poem to which each is attached will have been read
before the note is seen, if at all seen.
Of course, as to the 8vos & quartos you and Mr Hood do as you please. You will
omit the notes entirely if you like better. I only will do nothing with them but
what I have. I will put them into no other form. The fable of the man and his
three sons travelling over the bridge is a good lesson and my experience
The first thing is to do what we think right. If those whom it
concerns cannot think with us, life is not to be worn out with fruitless
experiments and endeavours at new modes to please. Those who can be pleased are
commonly pleased at first by those who endeavour it with sincerity.
I am very glad the Shepherd and his Dog will be in the
Mirror.  Though I do not like Mr Hood, I like that publication. I
have had the pleasure of seeing a sonnet and a charming one by Miss Finch, transplanted from it into
the Morning Chronicle.  Not by me: for I am not
connected with the editor, but by the good taste of the editor, and of some who
Market Night and the Shepherd and his Dog Rover would furnish two
excellent subjects for wood engraving.
I did not say writing notes on your poems deprived me of a
pleasure. But I said, or meant to be understood that I wrote them and often
revised the proofs at times of such anxiety and agitation that there are not
many things but that I would willingly have done in those moments. You introduce
the epithet 'scoundrel' in a manner that astonishes me. You will find a parcel
for you at Mr Walkers, containing Mr
Blacks poem on the Conjunction of Jupiter & Venus with some other
poetical pieces which I desire you to accept. 
You say that no doubt I mean your good. I wish my judgment as
well as my meaning were somewhat in credit with you. Probably you will be
displeased that I should remind you to make the proper entry as author in
Stationers' Hall, previously to this publication, and of your transfer of the
moiety of your copyright to Mr Hood.
I repeat again that without this neither you nor he are protected in the
copyright if anyone chooses to interfere.
I remain yours, &c.
Troston: Oct. 28, 1801.
Address: Mr Bloomfield / near the Shepherd and Shepherdess / Old City Road / London
* BL Add. MS 28268, ff. 64–65; published in
Hart, p. 15 BACK
 In the
appendix to the third edition of The Farmer's Boy (London,
1800), Lofft complains of his dismissal as a Justice of the Peace after his
outspoken support, in person and in the press, of Sarah Lloyd, a servant
unjustly condemned to death for her part in a murder. BACK
 Bloomfield's 'The Shepherd
and his Dog' appeared in The Monthly Mirror, 12 (October
1801), 272, immediately preceding an extract from William Holloway's 'The
Peasant's Fate'. BACK
 Lofft married
Sarah Watson Finch in 1801. There appeared in The Monthly
Mirror, 12 (1802), 198 and The Morning Chronicle
on 24 October 1801 a 'Sonnet, By a Young Lady, Written in the Evening, in a
What calm this tranquillising scene pervades,
While Night's fair Regent from her utmost height
Pours forth libations of the tend'rest Light—
Beneath whose beam each grosser Shadow fades!
No longer now the Village Peal I hear,
Which thro the branches of yon spreading Trees,
Borne on the light wing of the Ev'ning Breeze,
With Melody most pleasing touch'd the ear!
SILENCE hath lull'd the darken'd hemisphere;
Nor Sound perceptible the ear can seize,
Save that the lonely Owl, whom these Shades
Now pours his plaint—now wheels his low career;
And by his drear and solitary flight
Adds import to the PATHOS OF THE NIGHT!
Bloomfield's own 'Highland Drover' had appeared in the
a few days earlier on 5 October; sonnets by
Lofft were printed there on 6 and 16 October. BACK
 The Suffolk curate John Black's The Conjunction of
Jupiter and Venus, in Leo... a Happy Prelude to a Propitious Peace; a
Poem. Mercury's Apology for the Curate's Blunder, an Impromptu... and
other Poetical Pieces (Ipswich, 1801). BACK