페이지 이미지

Songs, Anecdotes, Remarks on Æolian Harps, Touro the Wye, &c., were edited by J. Weston, Esq., in 1824 The 'Farmer's Boy,' Wild Flowers,' with several of the * Ballads and Tales,' are his best poems; and many critics, such as James Montgomery, Dr. Nathan Drake, and Sir Egerton Brydges, have expressed the highest admiration of their chaste and unaffected beauties."

It is a circumstance peculiarly gratifying that, in giving an outline of this modest and amiable author's life, there are no faults to extenuate, no vices to condemn. His conduct was without reproach. In the relations of husband, father, and friend, he was faithful, affectionate, and sincere. Upon this snbject we quote the observations of S. C. Hall, in his “ Book of Gems:"__"The character of Bloomfield is almost without spot or blemish. Celebrity did not make him arrogant, nor did want lead him into meanness.

When reputation failed to procure him bread, he returned to his trade and might have found the awl more profitable than the lyre, if his health, always precarious, had not sunk during the trial. His brother describes his person :'He is of a slender make, of about five feet four inches high; very dark complexion. He finishes the picture by a powerful touch : “I never knew his fellow for mildness of temper and goodness of disposition. Those who read the poetry of Robert Bloomfield will be satisfied of the accuracy of the portrait."

The friendly criticism of Hazlitt on Bloomfield's poeti cal merits and defects is candid and indulgent. He observes--"As a painter of simple natural scenery, ani of the still life of the country, few writers have more undeniable and unassuming pretensions than the inge nious and self-taught poet, Robert Bloomfield. Amon the sketches of this sort I would mention, as equally distinguished for delicacy, faithfulness, and naïvete, his description of lambs racing, of the pigs going out a acorning, of the boy sent to feed his sheep before the break of day in winter; and I might add the innocently told story of the poor bird-boy, who in vain through the live-long day expects his promised companion at bi hut to share his feast of roasted sloes with him, as 24

example of that humble pathos in which this anthor excels.

“The fault ingeed of his gebits is that it is too honble. His muse has something not only rustie, bat menial in her aspect. He seems afraid of elerating nature, lest she should be ashamed of him. Bloomfield very oeanifally describes the lambe in spring-time as racing round he hillocks of green turf. Thomson. in deseribing the jame image, makes the mound of earth the remains of on old Roman encampment. Bloomfield never gets be. tond his own experience, and that is somewhat conined. He gives the simple appearance of nature, but le gives it naked, shivering, and unclothed with the Trapery of a moral imagination. His poetry has much he effect of the first approach of spring, while yet the rear is unconfirmed, where a few tender bads venture orth here and there, but are chilled by the early frost nd nipping breath of poverty.”

After the death of Bloomfield, which was universally egretted by the admirers of natural genius, several riters of high literary reputation published poetical ibutes to his memory. One of great merit, and ritten under the mfluence of generous feelings, was om the pen of Bernard Barton, the Quaker poet. We anscribe the concluding verses :

Thou shouldst not to the grave descend

Unmourn'd, unhonour'd, or unsung;
Could harp of mine record thine end,

For thee that rude harp should be strung,
And plaintive sounds as ever rung

Should all its simple notes employ,
Lamenting unto old and young

The bard who sang “The Farmer's Boy."

'Tis now too late! the scene is clos'd,

Thy conflicts borne, thy trials o'er;
And in the peaceful grave repos'd

That frame which pain shall rack no more,
Peace to the bard whose artless store

Was spread for nature's humblest child;
Whose song, well meet for peasant lore,

Was lowly, simple, undefil'd.


Yet long may guileless hearts preserte

The memory of thy song and thee-
While nature's healthful feelings nerve

The arm of labour toiling free;
While Suffolk peasantry may be

Such as thy sweetest tales make known,
By cottage-hearth, by green-wood tree,

Be Bloomfield called with pride their ownl


BORN, 1785; DIED, 1806.

Unhappy White! while life was in its spring,
And thy young muse just waved her joyous wing
The spoiler came; and all thy promise fair
Has sought the grave, to sleep for ever there.
Oh! what a noble heart was here undone,
When science self-destroyed her favourite son
Yes! she too much indulged thy fond pursuit,
She sow'd the seeds, but death has reap'd the fruit.
'Twas thine own genius gave the final blow,
And help'd to plant the wound that laid thee low.
So the struek eagle, stretched upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
View'd his own feather on the fatal dart,
And wing'd the shaft that quiverd in his heart.
Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel,
He nursed the pinion which impelld the steel,
While the same plumage that had warm'd his nest

Drank the last life-drop of his bleeding breast.-Byron, Among the numerous examples of precocious genius, a of ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, recorded in ls rary biography, it would be difficult to select one ma calculated to excite the liveliest interest, and the deer sympathy, than that of the amiable and lamented Hert Kirke White. At an important period of his career. I met with a generous patron and a disinterested friend the late Robert Southey. Not long after his untim death, at the age of twenty-one, his memory was indet" to the same eminent writer for an account of his “L and Remains,” which is one of the most affections tributes ever offered by a brother poet at the shrine departed worth :-“It is now my fortune," says popular biographer, "to lay before the world sc account of one whose early death is not less to

lamented as a loss to English literature than that of Chatterton, and whose virtues were as admirable as his genius. In the present instance, there is nothing to be recorded but what is honourable to himself and to the age in which he lived ; little to be regretted, but that one so ripe for heaven should so soon have been removed from the world."

The young poet upon whom Southey pronounces this touching eulogium was a native of Nottingham, and born on the 21st of March, 1785. His father was a butcher; and his mother, whose maiden name was Neville, belonged to a respectable family in Staffordshire. Henry Kirke White was their second son. At the age of three years he was sent to a preparatory school, kept by Mrs. Garrington, who taught him to read, and who was the first person to observe his quickness in learning, and his extraordinary love for books. Even at that early period the master passion of his life was displayed. "Mr. Southey states the interesting fact, that “when the boy was about seven he would reep unperceived into the kitchen, to teach the servant o read and write; and he continued this for some time before it was discovered that he had been thus laudably employed.” He was removed to a superior school in Nottingham when he was about six, where he was taught writing, arithmetic, and French. The early development of his talents surprised his teachers and companions. When he was only in his eleventh year, he one day comsosed, with the greatest facility, a separate theme for very boy in his class, which consisted of fourteen. It vas originally intended that Henry should be brought p to the trade of a butcher; and with that view, he was mployed, after school-hours, in carrying about the meat vurchased at his father's shop. At thirteen he was emoved from the Rev. Mr. Blanchard's school, and laced under the tuition of Mr. Shipley. He had not een long a pupil of that gentleman before he began to xercise his poetical talents

. His lines “On being conned to School one Summer Morning," written at this ime, and his “ Address to Contemplation,” the produc

tion of his fourteenth year, are remarkable proofs of juvenile ability.

About this time his mother, in order to improve her circumstances, opened a ladies' boarding and day school. This speculation, though to a certain extent successful, did not enable her to educate Henry for one of the learned professions. It was, therefore, determined that he should learn the business of a hosier. He was accordingly engaged in this employment, which proved quite as repugnant to his feelings as the carrying of the butcher's basket. He could not endure the thought, as he said himself, “ of spending seven years of his life in shining and folding up stockings: he wanted something to occupy his brain.” His exemplary and affectionate mother, seeing that her son had a strong ambition which soared beyond the drudgery of business, induced his father to apprentice him to a respectable solicitor in his native town. As his parents had not the means to pay fee, it was arranged that he should serve for two years and at the expiration of that time be articled. This was in the

year 1799. Nothing could exceed his diligence and zeal in obtaining a knowledge of his profe sion; and during his hours of leisure he acquired, by great industry and perseverance, a knowledge of Greek Latin, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. In additi to these branches, he learned something of astronomy chemistry, electricity, drawing, and music. As a fi ther means of intellectual improvement, he obtaine admission into a literary society in Nottingham; ar soon after his election, as Southey relates, he a tonished his young associates by lecturing up genius. He lectured extempore for about two hours and with such remarkable ability, that the Society unanimously elected him Professor of Literature. bitious of distinction as an author, he now began to com tribute to several of the monthly periodical journals that day. His poetical effusions attracted the not? of several persons of taste and acquirements, amon. others, Mr. Capel Lofft, the same gentleman, who, as have mentioned in our biographical sketch of Rob

« 이전계속 »