1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Polwhele

Capel Lofft to Richard Polwhele, 22 October 1816; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 2:687-90.



Court of Sessions, Bury, Oct. 22, 1816.

DEAR SIR,

I am happy that my "Anthology of Sonnets" has introduced me to your correspondence.

I have been variously delighted with your picturesque sketches of the "Old English Gentleman;" your charming and interesting "Portrait of Harriet;" the "Race of the Village Girls;" the "Race-horse and the Dog;" — these scenes vibrate on my mind, my imagination, and my heart.

The "Local Attachments" please me exceedingly. And the subject is the most peculiarly impressive on me, as I am at present living at a distance from the house and grounds of the Capels, my maternal ancestors, in which an ever-respected and beloved mother was born; in which her brother, the editor of Shakspeare, was born; and the children of both my marriages; in which I resided almost constantly for thirty-five years. The trees of the garden and the shrubs, a great part of them planted with my own hands, or by hands that more endeared them and the place itself, its walks, its water, its plantations, are those which I made, and those which I formed; its natural yews, poplars, thorns, laburnums, and oaks, are become as familiar friends to me, and as witnesses of my pains and pleasures, and the circumstances of my life during this long and eventful period.

I have stopped to listen to an exordium by Mr. Stokes on the nature of evidence and the balance of conflicting testimony; which has been indeed excellent in diction, elocution, argument, and oratorical rhythm.

I now resume — I have left Troston for Ipswich; where we are for the education of my younger children. I have let the hall for three years certain.

I remember the late Judge, Mr. George Hardinge, well. He was an Etonian, of older standing than I — a relative to my father by marriage; and frequently have we met, when we were boys, at my father's house at Windsor.

I am much gratified with your Sonnet on the late judge, of whom I have just intimated my early recollections.

I have had (and the Graces allow me to expect) so little success in my Sonnets, that, ample as my materials are, I have little hope of adding a sixth volume; and, at all events, I should be exceedingly sorry, that upon such a possibility (or were it even a certainty) you should relinquish, or so much as postpone your Sonnets (interesting as they must be) on eminent men. Much do I look for them: with the assurance of great pleasure, should I live to see them.

I have much expectation from your "English Orator," and from your Poem "on the susceptibility of the Poetic Character." The extracts which I had seen, had long given me a wish for a possession so valuable as that which you have conferred upon me: so additionally valuable as a testimony of your opinion.

I should be happy, either as to my Anthology of Sonnets, or as to Mrs. Lofft's and my joint collection of Shakspeare's Aphorisms, if a copy would be acceptable to any friend of yours, and to know when it might be most conveniently sent.

You will probably have seen that the ill-health of the author of the "Farmer's Boy," the circumstances of the times, and the failure of his early publishers, have caused some of his literary friends, particularly his neighbours, Mr. Stewart, the Rev. George Stone, a man of literature, taste, knowledge, and benevolence, the Rev. John Morley, a man of eminent learning, taste, and benevolent sensibility, to set on foot a subscription in his behalf. Mrs. Cobbold, a lady whose benevolent exertions are unwearied, and who loves and cultivates all the fine arts, has eminently exerted herself in promoting the requisite assistance in this county, the parent and the nurse of the pastoral genius of the poet.

This provincial subscription you will probably ere this have seen. Sir Egerton Brydges, Mr. Parker, Mr. Octavius Gilchrist, and Mr. Nevill White (brother of Kirke White), have been endeavouring to set on foot subscriptions in their several districts.

If by your means the plan of subscription may (consistently with your sentiments and inclination) be introduced in Cornwall, this may be a great benefit to Mr. Bloomfield.

I remain, respectfully, and with great esteem, yours sincerely,

CAPEL LOFFT.