Friday, December 3, 2010

Robert Bloomfield

English poet Robert Bloomfield was born on December 3rd, 1766.  His most popular poem was 'The Farmers Boy', which was published in 1800.  It is Bloomfield's death in 1823 (August 19) that connects him to Sir Walter Scott.  Bloomfield's obituary was published in the "Edinburgh Annual Register" which Scott edited.
Mr Robert Bloomfield.

At Shefford, aged 57, Mr Robert Bloomfield, author of the Farmer's Boy, once very popular, and of other poems. He was the son of a poor tailor in Suffolk, was originally employed as a farmer's boy, and afterwards followed the employment of a shoemaker. Having, about 1800, finished his four poems on the rural employments of the seasons, he brought them to London to endeavour to get them published. His first application was to Mr Charles Dilly, who recommended him to the editor of the Monthly Magazine. He brought his poems to that office; and, though his unpolished appearance, his coarse hand-writing, and wretched orthography, afforded no prospect that his production could be printed, yet he found attention by his repeated calls, and by the humility of his expectations, which were limited to half-adozen copies of the Magazine. At length, on his name being announced when a literary gentleman, particularly conversant in rural economy, happened to be present, the poem was formally re-examined, and its general aspect excited the risibility of that gentleman in so pointed a manner, that Bloomfield was called into the room, and exhorted not to waste his time, and neglect his employment, in making vain attempts, and particularly in treading on the ground which Thomson had sanctified. His earnestness and confidence, however, led the editor to advise him to consult his countryman, Mr Capel Lofft, of Troston, to whom he gave him a letter of introduction. On his departure, the gentleman present warmly complimented the editor on the sound advice which he had given " the poor fellow ;" and, it was mutually conceived, that an industrious man was thereby likely to be saved from a ruinous infatuation. Bloomfield, however, visited Mr Lofft, and that kind-hearted and erudite man, entering sanguinely into his views, edited the work through the press, wrote a preface, and the poem appeared as a literary meteor. Its success was prodigious. The author was to divide the profits with the bookseller, and they soon shared above 1000/. a-piece. The reputation of the poem at length seemed so thoroughly established, that the bookseller offered to give Bloomfield an annuity of 200/. per annum for his half; but this he refused, in the confidence that it would produce him double. At length, however, new objects caught the public attention; the sale died away ; and, in three or four years, a small edition per annum only was required. All this was in the usual course; but Bloomfield, whose expectations had been unduly raised, keenly felt the reverse; he was obliged to seek other employment, and his health and spirits suffered in consequence. Other attempts produced but moderate recompense, and, becoming peevish, he entered into a paper-war with his patron, Mr Lofft, and lost the sympathy of many of his first friends. He was nevertheless a man of real genius; and, though the bloated popularity of his Farmer's Boy led to no permanent advantage, yet it had, and still has, admirers, some of whom never ceased to be kind to the author. His ambition, however, was disappointed; and, for some years, he was in a state of mental depression.

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