63. Robert Bloomfield to Capel
Lofft, before 31 October
Mr Bentley speaks highly of your exertions in my favour at the same time I think
I am not transgressing to say that he wishes you could perfect the manuscript
now, as to punctuation and whatever else we may agree to do to them, which he
says would save much trouble and delay afterwards — And I am further permitted
to say, that if it could be of any service to the cause, Mr Park offers to see the proofs, and
to correct what might be deemed errors of the printer, &c. I mention
these things with the utmost diffidence, and I am quite sure Mr P has no idea of transcending your
accuracy and attention.
It is always understood that the expence of the proofs going into
the country falling upon you, and your time is always valuable; there are among
the particulars that gave rise to the suggestion; nobody wishes me even to
change Booksellers, much less to change Editors.
I have just now been with Mr
Hill, where I met by accident with Mr Park again. We had a long
consultation, as Mr P — has another
epistle from Miss Seward, whose
remarks they prize; but both gentlemen make no scruple of saying that if her
criticisms are given in the future editions, something should be withdrawn to
make room for it, or the price will and must be raised, which is thought
universally to be wrong, and by all means to be avoided. I say universally
because I never yet found one who did not think so. Other people may have their
own particular opinions, but I will state my own first.
The note from Cook's Voyage is mine,  but
many superficial readers not attending to your initial, L; call it yours, I
think it harmless in itself, but I wrote it before I knew for certain that the
public would see it, and before I had considered the consequence of introducing
even the appearance of politics into a Rural production, (let my own private
notions be what they may) and therefore I am willing, nay wish that to be
omitted in future. And, as to Mr.
Swans letter, you cannot but recollect, Sir, that from the first the
person and profession of Mr. Swan was
mistaken by you and I question if your friendly and wellmeant statement can now
appear to you of importance enough to be retained,  I think not. Mr. Hill says, that the note
respecting the debating societies will now be useless,  as the law it alludes to has just ceased, and
he suggested to me the propriety of reserving for the first volume the lines on
'Revisiting the Country',  and to shorten the preface by the omission;
these, Sir, are the heads of what I am obligated to hear, and almost obligated
I solemnly declare that I never heard from any tongue, partisan
or not partisan, a word of reproach or discredit to the character of Mr. Lofft, or his wellknown
benevolence and attachment to the interest of literature, and will Mr. Lofft be offended with a man whom
his own example has taught to be frank and open, if he as solemnly declare, that
there exists as well among those of Mr.
Lofft's political persuasion and those of a contrary character, a very
general, if not universal opinion, that political thoughts and references
(however just in themselves) ought not to be seen in this instance where rural
poetry only should be found.
They quarrel, not with your (or our) political opinions as such,
but at their being found there. It is not in my power, and I hope it is not in
my nature to dictate, but I do certainly know Sir that the entire omission of
every thing of that tendency would give the majority, if not every reader a
fresh interest in the history of the poem, and the commendatory notes from
Litchfield,  and from equal authorities would unquestionably
benefit the poem; and that to benefit the poem is your sincere and ardent wish,
there is not a man or woman in England who doubts it.
When at Mr. Gedge's I
wished much to apprize you of the public opinion as to our Boy Giles,  but I dare not then, I shall you may be sure Sir, after
such a letter as this, be anxious for your opinion, and I will not damp my
spirits with the idea of your being offended. Your conscience I know will acquit
you for having done the utmost in your power, and, if the opinion of readers run
counter to any part of it, I really do not see why you, of all persons
concerned, should not have that matter stated, and be left to act as your good
judgement may direct.
* Suffolk Record
Office, Bury St Edmunds, 317/3 BACK
 Bloomfield's note on the comparative equality of ranks in
Tahitian society, quoted from George Forster, A Voyage Round the
World, in His Britannic Majesty's Sloop, Resolution, Commanded by Capt.
James Cook, During the Years 1772, 3, 4, and 5, 2 vols. (London,
1777), I, 365–67, appears in the 1800 edition of The Farmer's
Boy, as a note to lines 341–42 of 'Summer' '... life's
intercourse; the social plan / That rank to rank cements, as man to man':
'ALLOWING for the imperfect state of sublunary happiness, which is
comparative at best, there are not, perhaps, many nations existing whose
situation is so desirable; where the means of subsistence are so easy, and
the wants of the people so few … The evident distinction of ranks, which
subsists at Otaheite, does not so materially affect the
felicity of the nation as we might have supposed. The simplicity of their
whole life contributes to soften the appearance of distinctions, and to
reduce them to a level. Where the climate and the custom of the country do
not absolutely require a perfect garment; where it is easy at every step to
gather as many plants as form not only a decent, but likewise a customary
covering; and where all the necessaries of life are within the reach of
every individual, at the expence of a trifling labour; … ambition and envy
must in a great measure be unknown. It is true, the highest classes of
people possess some dainty articles, such as pork, fish, fowl, and cloth,
almost exclusively; but the desire of indulging the appetite in a few
trifling luxuries can at most render individuals, and not whole nations,
unhappy. Absolute want occasions the miseries of the lower class in some
civiliz'd states, and is the result of the unbounded voluptuousness of their
superiors. At Otaheite there is not, in general, that
disparity between the highest and the meanest man, that subsists in England
between a reputable tradesman and a labourer. The affection of the
Otaheitans for their chiefs, which they never fail'd to express upon all
occasions, gave us great reason to suppose that they consider themselves as
one family, and respect their eldest born in the persons of their chiefs.
The lowest man in the nation speaks as freely with his king as with his
equal, and has the pleasure of seeing him as often as he likes. The king, at
times, amuses himself with the occupations of his subjects; and not yet
deprav'd by false notions of empty state, he often paddles his own canoe,
without considering such an employment derogatory to his dignity. How long
such an happy equality may last is uncertain: and how much the introduction
of foreign luxuries may hasten its dissolution cannot be too frequently
repeated to Europeans. If the knowledge of a few individuals can only be
acquired at such a price as the happiness of nations, it were better for the
discoverers and the discovered that the South Sea had
still remain'd unknown to Europe and its restless
inhabitants. / REFLECTIONS ON OTAHEITE, Cook's second Voyage.' BACK
 The long quotation from James Swan's letter (Letter 34),
first included in the 3rd edition of the 1800 Farmer's Boy
(London, 1800), was dropped from some later editions, although Lofft
continued to refer to it in a footnote. BACK
 Bloomfield refers to the following note which appeared in the
Preface to The Farmer's Boy: 'It is another of the
Constitutional Refinements of these times to have fettered and as to every
valuable purpose, silenced, these Debating Societies. They were at least, to
say the lowest of them, far better amusements than drunkenness, gambling, or
fighting. They were no useless Schools to some of our very celebrated
Speakers at the Bar and in Parliament: and, what is of infinitely more
importance, they contributed to the diffusion of Political Knowledge and
Public Sentiment. L.' BACK
lines on 'Revisiting the Country' (included in a manuscript fair copy by
George Bloomfield in Letter 31) were not omitted from subsequent editions.
First printed in the 2nd edition of the poem, from the 3rd they appeared
before the first part, 'Spring':
ON REVISITING THE PLACE OF MY NATIVITY.
THOUGH Winter's frowns had damp'd the beaming
Through Twelve successive Summers heav'd the
The unaccomplish'd wish was still the same;
Till May in new and sudden glories came!
My heart was rous'd; and Fancy on the wing,
Thus heard the language of enchanting Spring:—
'Come to thy native groves and fruitful fields!
'Thou know'st the fragrance that the wild-flow'r
'Inhale the Breeze that bends the purple bud,
'And plays along the margin of the Wood.
'I've cloth'd them all; the very Woods where thou
'In infancy learn'd'st praise from every bough.
'Would'st thou behold again the vernal day?
'My reign is short;—this instant come away:
'Ere Philomel shall silent meet the morn;
'She hails the green, but not the rip'ning corn.
'Come, ere the pastures lose their yellow
'Come now; with heart as jocund as the hours.'
Who could resist the call?—that, Giles had done,
Nor heard the Birds, nor seen the rising Sun;
Had not Benevolence, with cheering ray,
And Greatness stoop'd, indulgent to display
Praise which does surely not to Giles belong,
But to the objects that inspir'd his song.
Immediate pleasure from those praises flow'd:
Remoter bliss within his bosom glow'd!
Now tasted all:—for I have heard and seen
The long-remember'd voice, the church, the
And oft by Friendship's gentle hand been led
Where many an hospitable board was spread.
These would I name,... but each, and all can feel
What the full heart would willingly reveal:
Nor needs be told; that at each season's birth,
Still the enamell'd, or the scorching Earth
Gave, as each morn or weary night would come,
Ideal sweetness to my distant home:—
Ideal now no more;—for, to my view
Spring's promise rose, how admirably true!!
The early chorus of the cheerful Grove,
Gave point to Gratitude; and fire to Love.
O Memory! shield me from the World's poor strife;
And give those scenes thine everlasting life!
LONDON, MAY 30,
ROB. BLOOMFIELD. BACK
 Lichfield was the home
town of Anna Seward. BACK
 Boy Giles: The Farmer's