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unwearied fancy, and a love of vivid illustration, than a defect of principle, or an imperfection of taste. Like a fine race-horse, he cannot always stop at the winningpost; like a beautiful stream, he sometimes overflows the banks; and his genius resembles more a tree run wild, than one trimmed and pruned to decorate a garden walk. When speaking of his prospects of future fame to a friend, he said he depended chiefly on his songs for the continuance of his name; and his decision seems correct; not but that I think, in all his earlier poems he displays greater force and freedom of genius than he anywhere else exhibits in his lyrics; but then these brief and bright effusions are learned by heart—are confined to the memories of the people and come down from generation to generation without the aid of the press or the pen, to which longer and more deliberate productions must be trusted. In this
alone would many of the best of Burns's songs be preserved, perhaps his humorous lyrics the longest.”
After the death of Burns many poetical tributes were written in praise of his genius, and in commemoration of his melancholy fate. A collection of these would of themselves form a pleasing volume. Those by Werdsworth, Montgomery, and Campbell, are the most esteemed. The following spirited stanzas are from the pen of Campbell:
Farewell, high chief of Scottish song!
To bless the spot that holds thy dust. With these impressive verses we conclude our biographical sketch of a man, who, as Hazlitt said truly,
mind, and a strong body, the follow to it. He had a real heart of flesh and blood beating in his bosom—you can almost hear it throb.”
á had a stro
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
No deeds of arms my humble lines rehearse;
Bloomfield's "Farmer's Boy."
In the preceding sketches we have given an account of the lives and productions of Ramsay and Burns, both of them remarkable instances of poets, who were in a great measure self-educated, and who claimed no higher origin than that of having sprung from the labouring population. Among the most respectable and highly-gifted of this class was Robert Bloomfield, the author of the “Farmer's Boy,” a poet of undoubted genius, and a man of virtuous character. He had to encounter, in the course of a comparatively short life, the difficulties which are the inevitable lot of genius when allied to poverty; but, like many other humbly-born votaries of the muse, he did not close his struggling career without finding a generous patron to encourage and reward his efforts. The principal incidents in Robert's history are pleasingly and affectionately narrated, by his brother George, in a letter to Capel Lofft. The father of this eminent English pastoral poet was a tailor. He resided at Honington, a small village near Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk,
where his son, the subject of this memoir, was born, on December 3, 1766. He was the youngest of six children, and not twelve months old when his father died. His mother was left without a provision for the support of her family, and was obliged to maintain them by her own industry. Being an intelligent person, though of limited education, she opened a little school for the children of the humbler classes, in which Robert was instructed to read. Writing was not taught in Mrs. Bloomfield's humble seminary, and she sent her son for about three months to the adjoining town of Ixworth, to get a few lessons in the art of penmanship. This was the only school instruction he ever received. At this period he was seven years old, when his mother married à second time. He was then removed from school, and never sent to any other.
In George Bloomfield's narrative there is no account given of his brother's occupations from his seventh to his eleventh year. It appears, however, that his mother being in narrow circumstances, she placed him under the care of her brother, a Mr. Austin, who was a farmer, residing on the lands of the Duke of Grafton at Sapiston, adjoining the village of Honington. He was employed by his uncle in the capacity of a farmer's boy. It was soon discovered that his small and delicate frame was unfitted for laborious work; and at the end of two years and a half he was sent to London, and placed under the protection of his eldest brother, George, who was a shoemaker, and promised to teach him his trade. The younger brother, Nathaniel, undertook to provide him with clothes. It was during his residence at Sapiston that he first imbibed his enthusiastic love of natural scenery, in the accurate description of which he afterwards became so celebrated. He could not at that time have perused many books; but he had no sooner arrived in London than he evinced a desire to improve himself in reading, and to augment his scanty amount of knowledge.
Mr. George Bloomfield then lived in a poor garret, No. 14, Bell-alley, Coleman-street. The humble employments of Robert, while he resided with his brother, have been minutely detailed by his biographers. It appears that he was particularly fond of reading aloud the daily newspapers to his fellow-workmen. This practice increased his taste for books; and in the course of a short time, he was able to read with facility, and to understand the speeches of Burke, Fox, and North He also improved his pronunciation by attending the meeting-house of the Rev. Mr. Fawcett, who excelled in pulpit oratory, and he imbibed a taste for public speaking by listening to discussions in a popular debating society, which used to meet at Coachmaker's Hall. The perasal of various articles in “The London Review first awakened his poetical genius. He wrote a song, which was afterwards printed in the poet's corner; and at s subsequent period, he contributed several other juvenile effusions to that publication. About the same period, accident threw into his hands a copy of Thomson's “Seasons.” This delightful work gave him the most exquisite pleasure, and, it is supposed, first inspired him with the ambition of composing a descriptive poem. Some unpleasant disputes among his fellow-workmen led to his returning for two months to the residence of his uncle Austin, in Suffolk, who received him with great kindness.
The scenery of his native country revived his taste for rural pursuits and occupations, and his love for the beauties of the country. At the expiration of a short time, he resumed his business in London, and married a young woman of the name of Church, by whom he had five children. It was after his marriage that Bloomfield composed his “Farmer's Boy," the work which raised him from obscurity, and established his fame as one of the most natural and pleasing of our pastoral writers.
The interesting circumstances attending the publication of “The Farmer's Boy” are minutely narrated by George and by his brother in several letters, written with great simplicity and good sense. The limits of this brief notice will not admit of their insertion. We take the following further details from a biographical sketch of the poet “The Penny Cyclopedia," which contains an account of the gratifying reception given to Bloomfield's arious works, and describes the closing incidents of his onourable career in life:-“The manuscript of 'The farmer's Boy,' after being offered to, and refused by, everal London publishers, was printed under the patronge of C. Lofft, Esq., in 1800; and the admiration it
proluced was so general, that within three years after its publication more than 26,000 copies were sold. The ppearance of such refinement of taste and sentiment in he person of an indigent artisan elicited general praise.
“ The fame of Bloomfield was increased by the subsequent publication of 'Rural Tales, Ballads, and Songs,' Good Tidings, or News from the Farm,” “Wild Flowers,' ind Banks of the Wye. He was kindly noticed by the Duke of Grafton, by whom he was appointed to a situasion in the Seal Office; but suffering from constitutional ll health, he returned to his trade of ladies' shoemaker, to which, being an amateur in music, he added the employment of making Æolian harps. A pension of a shilling a day was still allowed him by the Duke; yet, having now, besides a wife and children, undertaken to support several other members of his family, he became involved in difficulties; and, being habitually in bad health, he retired to Shefford, in Bedfordshire, where, in 1816, a subscription, headed by the Duke of Norfolk and other noblemen, was instituted by the friendship of Sir Egerton Brydges for the relief of his embarrassments. Great anxiety of mind, occasioned by accumulated misfortunes and losses, with violent incessant headaches, a morbid nervous irritability, and loss of memory, reduced him at last to a condition little short of insanity. Ho died at Shefford, August 19, 1823, at the age of fifty. seven, leaving a widow and four children, and debts to the amount of £200, wbich sum was raised by a subscription among his benevolent friends and admirers. In the following year, at the sale of his Mss., that of «The Farmer's Boy,' in his own handwriting, was sold for £14.
“ The works of Bloomfield have been published in two vols. 12mo. 'Hazlewood Hall,' which appeared a short time before his death, has little merit in comparison with his earlier productions. His Remains,' consisting of